A/N: Hello all! Well this is the final chapter in my saga. Glad I could finish it before classes started. Thank you all for reading and reviewing. Lots of love!
The dream carried on and Alice was transported through her sixth years at Hogwarts. The winter turned into spring and Easter holiday had just ended. Draco returned looking distraught and with his mother's wand, having lost his in a scuffle with Harry Potter. The first time they reunited he told Alice what happened, including the severe punishment his family received for their grave mistake. He was surprised his father was left alive, though he suspected it was so Voldemort could have someone to constantly kick around and humiliate. She could tell this constant belittling of his family angered him beyond measure. It was his pride that continued to be stepped on. Since starting his schooling he always measured himself against others, believing he always came short of Harry Potter. As a Death Eater, he tried and failed to make a name for himself and his family's ongoing mistakes continued to downgrade their status. Alice wished she could tell him his great future in her reality as a master potioneer, that he rescued so many people from mental instability by discovering a new cure, and that he would become a great professor respected by his students. But she couldn't; he had to find that path on his own. All she could do was console him, giving him hope that someday it wouldn't this way.
"What if he wins Alice?" Draco started to express his concerns, "He might end up killing us for our uselessness."
"You don't know that," Alice replied concerned. "You told me yourself, he won't spill magical blood if he doesn't have to."
"But my parents have no standing anymore, we'd be finished either way…If only I could redeem my family name somehow," he began thinking.
Alice feared these thoughts made him go after Potter during the Battle of Hogwarts; she knew she shouldn't change his mind, so she said, "Whatever you do, promise me that you'll focus on surviving it. What matters is not your name."
"I shouldn't worry you with this," Draco said placing his arm around her.
"I'm glad you share your worries with me," Alice said resting her head on his shoulder. "I still remember the only time you'd talk to me was through insults."
Draco cracked a smile, "I was awful."
Alice looked at him and smiled amused at his confession, teasing him, "An awful git."
The gleam in her eyes was infectious and Draco kissed her passionately, pushing her back onto the cold tile. Their desires took over, momentarily making them forget their outside worries. They wouldn't have stopped if it wasn't for Moaning Myrtle hovering over them giggling incessantly.
The dream shifted and Alice found herself in her dormitory bed late at night, everyone had fallen asleep but she sat meditating still dressed in her weekend clothes and with her favorite pair of flats stationed next to her bed. Somehow she knew that tonight would be the battle and it wasn't long before she heard loud voices and commotion coming from the downstairs common room, where Harry, Luna, and Professor McGonagall were wrestling with the Carrows. The noise and shouting between the groups had everyone rush from their beds to see what was going on. But Alice remained, deciding instead to mentally prepare herself for what was to come. She grabbed her mother's book from under her mattress and took out the old photograph from inside. She looked at her mother's smiling face, "You're right mom, I have nothing to fear," she said to her before tucking the precious item into her skirt's side pocket. Grabbing a black cardigan, she headed downstairs where her housemates were being instructed by their prefects to go to the Great Hall. There she saw both the Carrows hanging unconscious in a silvery net from the ceiling. Alice couldn't help but smile at the ironic scene, for they had met such a humiliating end, bound and tied in a student's common room.
As she filed into the Great Hall with her fellow Ravenclaws, she noticed Luna and Cho, who were each summoned by Neville to rejoin Dumbledore's Army. The students who went into hiding in the Room of Requirement for the last several weeks were also there, looking ready to take on any Death Eater they could. Their eyes were hungry for some much needed vengeance.
As Alice approached Luna she said to her concerned, "I'm glad to see you're alright."
Luna replied with a tone slightly too upbeat for such an occasion, but characteristic of her, "Oh hello Alice, I've be fine, but I've missed our morning talks over toast and pumpkin juice."
Alice took a seat next to her and soon realized quite a few others had also shown up to fight; previous students like the Weasley brothers and members of the Order of the Phoenix. Her eyes lingered momentarily on Kingsley Shacklebolt, who she knew would become the new Minister of Magic.
After everyone was settled she glanced over to the Slytherin table to see Draco, seated next to Crabbe and Goyle. She tried not to think this could be the last setting she would see him in, but it was hard to block the thought from her mind. McGonagall addressed the crowd of what was about to happen, ordering everyone underage to evacuate. Then, as if speakers hung from everywhere above them, Voldemort's voice was amplified throughout the school grounds, giving them an ultimatum to turn over Harry Potter or suffer the consequences. Of all the Slytherins, it was of course Pansy Parkinson who pointed Potter out, much to the contempt of all the other houses who stood in defense of "the chosen one." Even Alice stood up, for the first time showing her support for the one side. It also felt good to make Pansy feel the same offense she inflicted on those she bullied. It was then that McGonagall told the Slytherins to leave, while the House prefects made sure everyone underage and those who did not want to stay and fight were escorted to the Room of Requirement's hidden exit to Hogsmeade.
Alice watched as Draco left the Great Hall; his eyes met hers momentarily and if they could telecommunicate, they would have said everything they never got to say; she knew he would sneak back in with Crabbe and Goyle, going after Potter in the Room of Requirement. She could only hope he would be spared in this reality too. She dared not think about herself.
When it came time, underage students and those who refused to fight from Ravenclaw stood up and filed out the doors, but Alice remained seated. Professor McGonagall came over, bolstering students for their bravery, until she came to Alice, who sat there in deep thought about her future actions. The old witch expressed her concern, "Alice, are you sure about this? Dumbledore may have wanted you to leave."
Broken from her meditation, she turned to look at her, saying strongly, "I've turned my back on my fellow students and my school for too long Professor McGonagall, I want to stay and fight."
Luna placed an encouraging hand on her shoulder, and Neville who was nearby, nodded his head in proud approval; pleased that she kept her word. It wasn't long before she was running alongside Professor Flitwick, as her and her fellow Ravenclaws returned to Ravenclaw Tower to rain spells and enchantments down on the attackers below as they stormed the castle. Soon, however, their position was compromised by a strong blasting spell that shattered the great dome above them. A shield charm was cast just in time to protect them from the crushing debris. Flitwick ordered the group to return to where they would fight the main defensive, since Death Eaters were now entering the school.
Alice fought alongside Luna, focusing on the giant spiders now entering the castle. They were extremely hard to kill, despite their size making them easier targets. Alice was able to utilize a slicing spell, learned courtesy of Lucius Malfoy, to sever their legs, while Luna worked on blasting their eyes. The partnership worked well until they were being shot at by Death Eaters who were entering from the blasted out walls. Luckily, there were enough members of the Order to quickly dispatch them, but Alice did found herself in a duel with a Death Eater who wore a silver mask. She was quick to block his spells, but he continued to block hers as well. She remembered a strangling spell Narcissa taught her which produced an invisible rope from her wand's tip that would find its way to your opponent's neck, strangling them into unconsciousness. Seconds after she cast it, the Death Eater clutched his neck, trying to pull the now amber glowing rope from it. Knowing his struggle was useless, Alice moved on to another task.
"Miss McNally, we'll have a talk later about where you got such dark spells from!" McGonagall yelled at her as she rushed off to fight another Death Eater.
Alice soon caught up with Luna who had gone just outside the castle walls; Seamus Finnigan and Ernie Macmillan were nearby.
She noticed Harry, Ron and Hermione farther out in the clearing, but they were stopped.
Seamus cried out, "Dementors! We gotta help Harry!"
Luna and Ernie rushed towards them and Alice decided to provide her support too, though she was unsure if she could produce a Patronus. A joyous thought was such a stark contrast to the current moment and she had always been unsuccessful at it in her reality. Then she thought of the simple gesture of intertwining her fingers with Draco's, something they always did, but it made her feel content in so many ways.
Along with Luna's hare, Seamus's fox, and Ernie's boar, there was another bright creature; a graceful peacock soared through the air. As the thought became stronger to Alice, the sparkling apparition tussled its tail feathers open, producing a blinding white plume.
"Your patronus is lovely Alice," Luna smiled, as they chased the Dementors off with them.
"And strong too," added Seamus, "Glad your on our side finally!"
"Well, I was never on the other!" Alice shouted back, as they ran back towards the fighting.
The rest of the battle became a blur that Alice assumed her dream shifted forward to when Voldemort ceased the fighting, giving Harry Potter one hour to turn himself in. There were so many dead amongst the rubble but so far she had been spared. Alice had not yet seen Draco, which she found worrying. She wanted to go and look for him, but they had started retrieving bodies and she felt obligated to lend a hand.
"Alice, something on your mind?" Neville asked as she helped him lift a body, taking the feet. He noticed her weary gaze endlessly searching.
"I'm looking for someone," she said a bit hopelessly.
"Who'd that be?" he asked curiously, trying not to look at the dead he was holding as they went into the Great Hall.
"I can't really say," Alice regretfully replied after they placed the lifeless figure at the end of the row of bodies that had formed.
"Well, you outta go then," he said to her, wiping the sweat from his brow. He could tell it weighed heavily on her mind.
"Thanks Neville."She was grateful for his understanding; the last thing she wanted was for the leader of the D.A. to think she abandoned them again.
Heading into the corridors from the Great Hall, she had to be cautious stepping over rubble so she wouldn't slip on the blood that littered the walkways. It was horrific, as she assumed it would be; pieces of Acromantula were scattered everywhere, and a giant's corpse had fallen and blocked half the stairway to the next floor. She crept slowly with her wand ready, in case any left behind creature or Death Eater remained and were unaware of the ceasefire. There were gaping holes in the side walls and whole rooms had been destroyed. As she moved further into the halls, she illuminated her wand tip for light, since several torches were blasted or walls were missing and the moonlight was simply not enough. Hearing some commotion outside, she realized the hour was already up; it wouldn't be long now until another fight broke out. She knew how that part of history was supposed to end but she was weary if it would change. Her greatest fear was that Draco never made it out of the Room of Requirement or if he did, that he was harmed or killed during the battle. He wouldn't have a wand to defend himself. Just about as she was going to turn around, she saw a hand sticking out of some fallen rubble; a side wall had collapsed on top of them. Her heart skipped a beat as she ran over; she cast a spell to levitate the debris from the person's body. Despite the soot and blood covering his face, she could instantly tell that it was Draco.
"He's dead?" she mouthed incoherently, as her hand shakily went to touch him. But his face was still warm and she could feel a faint pulse. He was unconscious, and she suspected he was stunned before the wall collapse on top of him.
She carefully positioned him on his back, worrying if any of his bones were broken or if his internal organs were bleeding. She didn't know any healing spells, which made her feel completely incompetent and angry at himself for never learning something so important right now. She had to get him back to the Great Hall, before the fighting started so someone there could heal his wounds.
Her hands were shaking as she attempted to levitate him, making her continually fail to cast the most basic of spells. "C'mon Draco," she said to him encouragingly, wishing he'd just wake up and walk out of there. She tried the spell again and was able to levitate him enough to move him to the next hall. But as she inched closer, sounds from outside hinted that the battle would begin soon. "There's no time," she thought painfully, unsure to do.
Suddenly the earth shook and dust from the cracked ceiling above her fell on her head. Alice assumed it was the centaurs galloping down from the forest hills to attack the Death Eaters, who would be forced to flee into the Great Hall to fight those that remained. She placed Draco's unconscious body close next to the corridor's wall as there was no other safe place to put him. She then placed a shield charm around him, knowing that was the best she could do.
Sounds of the fighting grew more intense; she heard walls being blasted away and she could smell fresh fires starting to burn. Then she saw three Death Eaters at the opposite end of her corridor, probably trying to sneak up on the battle from behind.
"Well, well, what do we have here?" the one asked his mate, amused by the young girl who had already stood up with her wand ready.
"Easy pickings," the other said with a smirk of his cruel intentions.
Without knowing it, Alice glanced back towards Draco briefly and the one Death Eater picked up on it, "Who's your friend? Still alive I see. Don't worry, we'll finish him after you."
Before doing anything, Alice cast her Patronus, hoping it would fly to the Great Hall, then maybe someone would see it and come to help.
"Trying to signal for help missy? I don't think there's time for that," the Death Eater turned his wand to her, but Alice quickly cast her Cruciatus Curse, hitting him in the heart and making him fall to the floor unconscious.
"Whoa!" One of others yelled, "She's not messing around. Get her!"
They began shooting spells at her, but Alice continued to block and reciprocate with all she knew. She tried not to think of the improbability of the situation, two Death Eaters, trained to killed, against one novice of magic.
"Is that all you've got?" The one cackled, finding her will to fight amusing.
Then, from the other end of the hall, came a blast of great intensity that knocked one of her opponents off his feet, shocking the other who was nearby. This gave Alice a chance to finish him, sending her stunning spell into his chest. Looking for her savior, she saw Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy running towards her.
"Draco's here!" Alice yelled to them, noting the confusion in their eyes if it was her who cast the Patronus. "He's hurt." Her voice broke, expressing her worry that it may already be too late.
Narcissa ran to her son's side while Lucius moved his wand above him, saying incantations. Alice moved away from them, though wanting to also be by his side. What was only a matter of minutes, felt like hours of waiting.
"Thank goodness," Narcissa breathed a sigh of relief, breaking the tension for all of them.
"Son," Lucius called to him, sounding content to make the confirmation. He had revived him from the stunning curse and healed his internal injuries from the fallen debris. It was close; he could have died if they waited any longer.
Draco hastened to pick himself up, holding onto his father for support as he found his legs. Taking in his surroundings, he immediately noted Alice standing there, staring at him, a weary elation on her face.
"Alice?" Draco let go of his father, going to her as if no pain still existed in his body. He clasped her face with his hands, looking into her tear blocked eyes searchingly. "You're here…you're alive."
Alice smiled at him, blinking and nodding to affirm what he said; she was alive, they both were and the battle had ended, as the cheers echoed in from the Great Hall. He brought her close to him and held her tightly, as Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy looked at each other slightly confused, though still grateful for their son's well-being.
"It's over," Alice whispered to him, "We made it."
Stepping back from her, but still embracing her sides, he looked at where he was, remembering that he fell somewhere else, "How did I get here?"
"I found you, I tried to get you to the Great Hall for help, but I was attacked. Your parents came just in time," Alice said still trying to shake off the experience.
Lucius looked at her suspiciously, saying, "Her Patronus takes the form of a peacock."
Alice knew the symbolism of it; the albino peacocks at Malfoy Manor have been in their family for generations. Perhaps they thought it came from their son.
Draco smiled at knowing this, then he said proudly, "Mother, father, this is Alice, my girlfriend…" The simple act of declaring this meant so much to both of them, for it was always something they could never say out loud. Then he added, looking back at her, "I owe her my sanity, as well as my life."
Narcissa felt touched by his son's emotional output, "Alice, thank you."
Lucius said nothing as expected, but he was not angry, not then. His family was alive and from the sounds of it, the Dark Lord had fallen. At that moment, all his ideology fell by the wayside.
They walked into the Great Hall together and Alice and Draco held hands without any fear. The celebrations had started, though many were focusing on tending the dead or getting the wounded help. The Malfoys found a place to sit and Alice explained everything she knew had happened, why Harry Potter was able to destroy Voldemort, despite him having possession of the Elder Wand.
"How do you know this?" Lucius asked her.
"It's a long story, father. We'll tell you one day," Draco added, knowing there would be time for that future he dreamt, that no matter what, they would be together.
Despite the celebrations going on around them, they sat unsure of their place in the matter. Several members of the D.A. headed by Luna, walked over and Alice went to greet them. Luna gave her a hug and said with tinge of understanding in her eyes, "So glad everything worked out."
"Aren't you gonna join the celebration Alice?" Seamus Finnigan added behind Luna, "You're missing out."
Alice glanced back again at the Malfoy family. Narcissa smiled warmly at her and Lucius nodded in recognition of her role in helping his son. It was the beginning of their acceptance of her son's relationship. She then looked at Draco, the eyes she knew so well, ones that could search her sole. She replied, "I am celebrating, more than you know."
It was at this time that she woke from her dream, finding Draco sleeping peacefully beside her. He had spent every night with her that week, not wanting to leave her alone again. She rolled towards him and touched his face with her hand and he slowly stirred, opening his eyes to meet hers.
"Alice?" He said quietly, breaking the silence. His eyes adjusted to look on her; the sun had just started streaming in from the curtains. He placed his hand on her cheek, feeling the remnants of blood that had streamed down from her forehead. "You're hurt."
"It's over," Alice whispered, finding her voice again, "I made it." No matter her body's physical condition, she felt better than ever at that moment.
The end of the school term was approaching and the visiting students from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons were already on their way home. There was a farewell celebration in the Great Hall that Alice couldn't attend, since it was scheduled on a Thursday when she lectured at the university. Though she was sad to see the students leave, she was grateful she wouldn't have to worry about encountering Ivar Kramstad, Durmstrang's potions professor, anymore. She also would not be returning to Hogwarts in the spring, since her Muggle Studies course would only be offered every fall. It was bittersweet on the last day of class, knowing it would be some time before she walked those halls either in this reality or in her dreams. The familiarity of its history was now fully realized, as was its education. She felt more like a witch than ever before.
It was Saturday morning and Alice was on her way to Gringotts Bank in Diagon Alley to exchange her Hogwarts paycheck from galleons to muggle pounds. She did this every month, much to the chagrin of the goblins who work there. It had gotten less confusing since the first trip, but they seemed painfully aware of her ineptitudes and gave her a hard time just the same.
Alice used her usual route, taking a bus to Charing Cross Road and enjoying a leisurely though chilly walk through the side street that was filled with curious shops and one abandoned store front, The Leakey Cauldron. On this occasion she couldn't help but remember the first time she entered its worn doors, finding a strange anachronistic world of oddly dressed patrons and unusual pub food. It was the first time she saw Draco in the flesh, as she was ambushed by him and Blaise Zabini the day before they brought her into the Ministry. It was this strange world she had always suspected was there, but never realized that the connection she felt to it was so real.
Walking in the door, the thickness of smoke and home cooked food tickled her nose and she fully embraced the warmth coming from the pub's fireplace; it was a needed respite from being on the frigid streets of London.
"Hey Alice!" Neville saw her enter and waved at her.
"Hi Neville," Alice called back; she had newfound respect for the awkward Herbology professor, knowing the valor he displayed during her last year at Hogwarts.
"Sounds like you had pretty busy term," he said as Alice walked over.
"I think that's the way it is for every novice teacher. Hopefully next year it'll be breeze," Alice said amused; busy was quite an understatement.
Hannah stepped out of the kitchen smiling at her, "Alice, why don't you stop and have some tea?"
Thinking this would be nice, Alice agreed to do so on her way back from the bank. "That would be wonderful. I'll stop back after I go to the bank, since I think it closes in half an hour." She was cutting the time close, but she had so many things to do that morning that Diagon Alley got pushed back for last.
"Yeah, you better hurry, those goblins are quite the time keepers," Hannah said shoeing her off.
Alice entered the alleyway from the back of the pub's courtyard entrance, solemnly stepping out into the cold. The store fronts were all decorated for the upcoming Christmas holiday with pine cones and holly, mistletoe and candy canes. While she detested the chill of the winter, she adored the holiday spirit. She took an extra minute or two to look into the shop windows to admire their displays. They were less unusual to her than before, as if she was becoming accustomed to seeing cauldrons, robes and broomsticks on sale. As she continued on, she noticed a strange man staring at her from an up ahead store front. She looked back at him, but she didn't know his face. The next thing she knew, she woke up tied and bound to a chair in a torch lit room that was littered with antique objects, reminding her of the Room of Requirement.
Her eyes searched the space, as she tried to move her body from the bindings, but there was nothing she could do to release them. Her bag was on the floor in front of her with her wand tucked inside. She tried not to panicked, but her heart beat quickened as she thought of the direness of the situation. There was a creaking noise, a door had opened and someone was approaching.
"So she is awake," the man said in a heavy Eastern European accent.
Alice knew the voice, "Kramstad," she said disdainfully.
"You know me well," he replied coming into view.
"You better explain yourself," Alice said angrily.
He scoffed at her, "You are in no position to give orders. But let's just say you're proper payback."
Alice thought at first it might have something to do with Draco's current research, though Kramstad was going far beyond what was necessary for any academic competition. Maybe he suspected Lucius's fallibility; if Lucius was spying on Kramstad for the Ministry, was this revenge?
From her bag came a loud ringing noise that continued with periodic vibration. It was her mobile phone and Alice rightly assumed it was Draco trying to reach her. She had no idea what time it was, or how long she was unconscious.
"What is this?" Kramstad looked at her bag wearily.
"It's an alarm that I set," Alice answered, lying easily, "It's inside my bag, if you want it to stop, you need to open it."
The phone continued to ring and Alice prayed that Draco wouldn't hang up. Kramstad grew suspicious and allowed his assistant, who stood in the shadows behind him, to retrieve it. He pulled out the small device and looked at it hesitantly.
"Open it," Alice said to him; hoping he'd flip open the phone.
It rang again and Kramstad nodded to the assistant to do as she said, hoping the annoying sound would stop. After he did, Alice shouted loudly towards him, "Kramstad! Diagon Alley! Help!" Though she didn't know if that was where she was or if her voice was loud enough to reach the phone's receiver.
Immediately Kramstad put a muffling spell on her and she could no longer use her tongue. He took the phone, hearing Draco speak on the other end, "Alice? Where are you? Speak to me!" he yelled, hoping to hear her voice again.
"Draco?" Kramstad brought the phone to ear.
"Kramstad? Where are you? Where's Alice?" Draco asked strongly.
"Why don't you ask your father," he replied deviously before closing the phone's lid. Afterwards, he levitated the device into the air and used his wand to blast it into pieces; glittering specks of metal slowly cascaded to the ground.
"Very clever," Kramstad said to Alice, waving his hand to allow her to speak again.
Alice's eyes narrowed on him, "What do you want from me?"
"You are unimportant, a simple pawn in a chess game. Now don't try anything when I'm gone or Molsen here will not be so kind," he dictated to her, as his assistant stepped forward and smirked evilly.
Kramstad left the room, leaving her alone with the assistant, a slightly overweight bald man, wearing long black robes and black hiking boots.
Her hands were behind her, bound tightly together with fabric rope though she could still wiggle her fingers. She was not magically bound, which she found odd. Perhaps they thought it was unnecessary for someone like her.
As Molsen watched, Alice closed her eyes and concentrated, focusing energy in her hands. She had never cast a spell without her wand before, but this would be the time to try. She cleared her mind and imagined heat forming in her fingertips.
"What are ya up to?" Molsen asked suspiciously.
But Alice remained focused, telling the energy she was forming to break the bounds that held her.
"Better not make me come over there missy," the man spat, getting anxious by her deep concentration.
Alice felt a piece of rope dangle down and the previous tightness loosened to the point that she could move her hands apart. She looked up at the man and smiled, not showing him what she had just did.
He frowned angrily at her, but remained in his position; his hand clutched a wand by his side. Alice's wand was in her bag, zipped away in the side pocket. She had always placed it there, to avoid having it accidentally drop out when she searched for things in the muggle world. It would be impossible to retrieve, especially since the man stood between her and her purse. There was a possibility of casting another wandless spell to disarm him, though this could quickly prove futile and make her situation a lot worse. Alice meditated, as she did before untying the ropes that bound her.
"Now what're ya doing?" He asked, growing weary of her oddities.
Alice opened her eyes and focused on the wand by his side, she felt the energy building in her hands again. She counted in her head, "One, two…" she quickly brought her one hand forward, mouthing quietly "Expelliarmus!" using her hand as a guide to successfully knock his wand from his hand, much to the man's bewilderment.
"What?" He cried, not expecting her to be unbound or to lose his wand.
"Accio!" Alice cried at the fallen wand, retrieving it in a split second.
"You're not suppose to do that!" He ran towards her but before he reached her, Alice yelled, "Stupefy!" using his own wand to stun him into unconsciousness.
Alice grabbed her bag from the floor, finding her teak wand in the zipped side pocket. She felt relieved by its touch and she thought how unwise it was of Kramstad to leave it there for her. She also placed Molsen's wand in her bag before swinging it over her shoulder.
Everything seemed quiet, so she hoped there was no one outside that heard the previous commotion. Immediately she tried to disapparate, but couldn't. She wondered if she was jinxed, seeing how Kramstad knew this was one of her magical abilities. Creeping to the door, she whispered, "Alohomora," to unlock it. She slowly pushed it open, looking through the crack to see if anyone was nearby. She saw glass cabinets with what looked like antiques inside them, making her think she was inside a curio shop.
Then she heard a bell, which sounded like it was attached to a door. From her position, she couldn't see who entered the shop, but she heard footsteps on the creaky wooden floor moving past her. They stopped.
"Mr. Malfoy, charming," a squeaky voice sounded.
"Borgin, I need information," the smooth voice was Lucius Malfoy's and Alice was about to run out from her position until she heard the door's bell ring again. Someone else had entered the shop.
"Lucius," Ivar Kramstad had returned, greeting Lucius with a slight surprise in his voice.
"You missed our meeting," Lucius replied haughtily.
"Borgin," Kramstad stared at the shop clerk, telling him almost telepathically to leave them. Alice heard the floorboards creak as Borgin again walked past the door she hid behind.
After a moment, Kramstad began speaking, "It's unfortunate Lucius, your inability to maintain some sense of dignity in your status."
"Dignity, I highly doubt we take that to mean the same thing," Lucius replied, annoyed at the suggestion.
Alice heard more footsteps come from the back of the store, where Borgin previously went.
"You see Lucius, we had a good arrangement, one that could have given you some power. But you went ahead and leaked information. That is something I cannot tolerate," Kramstad said arrogantly.
"What is this?" Lucius asked uncertain, noticing that it was no longer just him and Kramstad in the shop.
"You should not have told the Ministry, Lucius," Kramstad said again, "I do not take kindly to disloyalty."
Alice grew slightly panicked; she could only assume they would attack Lucius at any second. She couldn't simply stay there and let it happen, so she slowly opened the door, hoping that it would not creak and give her away. Her wand was clasped tightly in her right hand as she slid her feet slowly across the floor boards.
"So it comes to this?" Lucius said perturbed, "You bring others to attack me, when you cannot do so yourself. And you talk of dignity."
Alice crouched low behind a wooden cabinet; she was several meters from them and still hidden. They were in the front of the shop and she could see them if she peered around the side. Suddenly she felt a tap on her shoulder; spinning around an old man with yellowed teeth grinned at her, his wand pointed at her head. It was Borgin, the shop owner. Alice didn't give herself time to think, as she grabbed his wand clutched hand, pulling it to the side of her. At the same time, she used her own wand to stun him in the ribs. The noise of several objects falling from shelving alerted those in the front of the store.
"What was that?" One of his henchman cried worriedly.
Kramstad yelled at him, "Well go check!"
"You're not quite in control," Lucius added condescendingly.
Alice quietly moved from where Borgin lay, hiding behind another set of cabinet in the corner as the man walked her way.
"Oi, it's Borgin, he's been stunned!" The man yelled back to the front of the store.
"You're not alone," Kramstad said to Lucius, who didn't respond to this accusation, "Who is here with you?"
Alice briefly looked over the cabinet; she could see the man who was now searching in the back room for her. She realized she had left the storage room door open, a mistake that would alert them to her escape. The man moved in that direction.
Then his voice cried, "Oi, Molsen's out too and the girl's gone."
"That's not possible," Kramstad said under his breath, though it was barely audible to Alice.
"What girl?" Lucius asked suspiciously.
As the man returned from the door, Alice aimed her wand and blasted him, but he blocked it. "She's here! She's here!" He yelled to Kramstad.
Alice aimed again, casting the Cruciatus Curse his way, hitting a large vase instead, shattering it to pieces. At the same time, Lucius aimed a blast at Kramstad and they began dueling in the small shop space, raining havoc on the items that were on display. Glass shattered everywhere. Alice focused on the man that she missed, who had started blasting spells at her. She was able to avoid them by maintaining her position behind the shop's multitude of wooden cabinetry. Then Alice remembered Narcissa's spell and she cast the invisible rope from her wand's tip in the man's direction; it wasn't long before he gasped as the rope began strangling him. He fell and Alice moved to the front of the room where Lucius was defending himself from Kramstad and another one of his henchman.
"Mr. Malfoy!" Alice called to him.
Kramstad yelled to his assistant, "Get her!" And the man cast a spell in her direction, but Alice quickly flew herself to the floor, and the blast went over her head. Lucius took a second to stun the man who went after his future daughter-in-law, taking his aim off Kramstad during this time.
Noticing this reprieve, Kramstad went after Alice, apparating to her position and grabbing her by her hair from the floor, knocking her wand out of her hand, and pressing his own wand's tip into her neck. The movement was too quick that Alice had no time to react.
"Don't move, or she dies," Kramstad said evilly to Lucius, who stood motionless with his eyes on the man who now had Alice in a choke hold.
Lucius started to talk sensibly to Kramstad; his hands were raised in a surrendering fashion, though he had not let go of his wand, "Alright Ivar, it's obvious you mean business. Perhaps we can arrange a deal."
Kramstad tightened his chokehold on Alice, suddenly taking her back to a self-defense course she took during university. There was a classic and reliable defense strategy for this, though the wand pressing into her neck was a worry. Looking at Lucius, Alice hoped to display that she needed him to be ready for what she was about to do. He saw this concentrated gaze and returned it with his own slight look of recognition.
Alice went for it, changing leverage by placing her one foot behind his ankle and using her elbow knocking him off balance to the floor. Lucius responded quickly by disarming him, and as he pointed his wand at the shocked and humiliated man lying there, he said proudly, "That'll teach you not to mess with a Malfoy." He cast a binding spell that instantly tied his hands, preventing him from escaping.
"Well done," Lucius said to her, though Alice was already feeling encouraged by previous inclusive remark.
"No, thank you Mr. Malfoy. How did you know I was here?" Alice asked, feeling more relieved by the second.
"I didn't, I only came here for information," Lucius quickly stepped out of the door and blasted a calling signal in the air. "Draco is nearby, as are the Ministry police," he said, and then seeing the unconscious body count, he said, "I'm very impressed, but where exactly did you learn that move?"
"Muggle self-defense course," Alice replied happily, retrieving her wand from nearby. "I doubt Mr. Kramstad expected to be outdone by that."
Seconds later, Ministry officials arrived to arrest Kramstad and his henchmen for their dealings in Dark Magic; Lucius had been a key player in the investigation for years, slowly infiltrating his ranks and leaking information to the Ministry along the way.
Draco and Narcissa also arrived with Blaise Zabini; they were doing all they could to find her.
"Alice," Draco rushed to her, embracing her tightly. "Are you alright?"
"Yes, you're father arrived just in time," Alice told him, glad to be back in his arms.
"Actually I have no doubt she would have escaped on her own, more than half of the men are down by her wand work," Lucius said praising her.
Alice smiled, appreciating his compliment, "I had the best teachers," she replied, looking at the three of them.
"Let's get you home dear," Narcissa said in a mothering fashion, as they escorted her back to Malfoy Manor, her new home.
The wedding would take place on Christmas Eve under a glass canopy set in the beautiful winter landscape of the Malfoy's gardens. Alice's whole family was there, including Uncle George and Aunt Marla, who brought along a whole box of tissues. Alice and Draco invited several of Hogwart's professors, including Neville and Hannah, and Professor Slughorn, who looked ready for the free flowing champagne. Blaise Zabini also attended, grateful to have played a small part in their courtship. Fritz also had a special place up front. The wedding was to be a simple affair, but Narcissa made sure the décor they did select was exquisite. They used only the most seamless magic for the experience, such as the canopy's lighting, which were stationary dots of light that dangled unattached to anything. Though there might be a question or two amongst the muggles in attendance, Alice knew there'd be plenty of time to explain all of it later on. Alice's father tearfully gave her away, and when she went in front of Draco, they immediately intertwined their fingers together as they always did. There was nothing outside of that perfect moment that made sense; her strange journey from being a muggle to a witch, to finding love with the most unexpected person, to rediscovering and changing a past that could have been her own, and finally, being accepted into the most notoriously exclusive families in the wizarding world. All of this started when she wrote a book hinting at an imaginary world. She couldn't help but be thankful to her grandfather, for he was the one who put her on this path where she would ultimately find her happiness.