The Servant's Last Bow

It was a dry-cold as the cabinet seemed to indeed devour him, the blackness pressing him into more and more blackness and he felt instantly lost. Harry wasn't sure where Dobby was, come to think of it, he wasn't sure if Vanishing Cabinet travel was meant for two. He was sure Hermione would have known, but she didn't know anything of what Harry was doing.

Then it was over, he felt himself once again surrounded by smooth wood, his gasps echoing as he leaned against the back of the cabinet and took stock of his limbs, which thankfully were all intact and in their rightful places. Dobby wasn't with him, wherever he was, either. Harry didn't even know if he was in the right place. Where was the Vanishing Cabinet's twin in Malfoy Manor? Did they know he was here? Was someone waiting just outside, wand poised and his death on their lips?

Was Voldemort seated on some throne just beyond the doors of the black cabinet that may soon be Harry's coffin?

There was a sudden crack! and Harry thought the whole of the cabinet may be splintering apart under a Death Eater attack, anxious for his death. But then there was a small hand on his and he bit down on a yelp when he realized it was Dobby who had Apparated into the cabinet.

"Dobby, where were you?" he asked, not daring to breathe past a whisper.

"Dobby arrived before Harry Potter sir," Dobby whispered, "Dobby looked outside and Dobby thinks we is safe here, no one around."

With much trepidation, Harry opened the door to the cabinet, his wand at the ready as he stepped into a large, rather empty room. There was a large, curtained window on one side of the room that slipped in a bleak moonlight between the sheer folds of fabric. Everything was washed white, much like the paleness of the Malfoys themselves, aside from the dark hardwood floors that Harry was careful not to make squeak.

There were double doors off to the side, and Harry moved slowly toward them, casting a glance back at the foreboding figure of the Vanishing Cabinet that was the mirror image of its twin in the Room of Requirement, just as dusty, and, strangely, skirted with junk in the form of rotted apples and their cores, little bones that Harry hoped were chicken, and bits of moldering food.

It unsettled him for some reason, and there was a stink in the air he didn't want to put a name to, but he ignored that and turned to Dobby, who was trembling something awful.

"Where are we exactly then?"

"We is in the East Wing, near Master Lucius' study," His squeak of a voice stumbled over the name of his former, cruel master. Poor elf must have been terrified to be in this place again.

"Where would Draco be?" Harry's voice too, stumbled over his master's, but with the deepest of care farther than a fear.

"Dobby thinks—that is, Dobby feels, sir," Dobby gave him a small smile, "that they all is be being in the drawing room on the first floor."

"House elves can sense where the masters of a house are so as to better predict their needs and come to their aid," Harry absently quoted Hermione, who had read quite a few house elf facts aloud on those long afternoons in the library. Harry felt it, now that he was in the home of his masters, they weren't too far off, a floor away, a few winding corridors, close enough that Harry could feel a desperate need grinding through him, pricking at his scar: pain—fear—resentment—cold—and there—that little flicker—hope. It was almost overwhelming and Harry had to again spare a moment of awe for house elves.

"Do you know how many people are in the house, Dobby?" Harry asked, for surely it was not just the Malfoys in Voldemort's new headquarters.

"More than masters, but Dobby unsure, but there be no one in corridor here," he assured Harry.

Harry in turn opened one of the doors slowly, willing the hinges to remain silent. A dark expanse of corridor lay outside, dotted with pedestals and busts and pictures that were empty of occupants, the busts all frozen in a marble expression of a well-contained anxiety. Overall, it was not a good feeling Harry felt as he and Dobby padded down it, their footsteps thankfully muffled by the plush carpet. Harry had hidden under the Invisibility Cloak and Dobby trotted at his heels, just concealed by the flowing fabric.

There was absolute silence as they made their way down the hallway and toward the stairs to the first floor. It was chilly in the house, and the quiet of it was maddening, there was no night noises of working house elves or gliding owls or even just the hushed groan of the ancient house settling further onto it foundation. It was just dark and soundless. Like death.

The silence was shattered by a clunk of a step, and then another, Dobby shot out from between Harry's feet in his surprise and Harry could do nothing to try to drag him back under as a figure was illuminated by a window on the far end of the corridor that cast its milky light down upon the impenetrable shadow coming upstairs. It was huge, but swift as it strode toward them, a tall man in a dragging, tattered robe that stunk of sweat and blood and Merlin knows what else. There was a primal sort of fear stirring in Harry's stomach as his body recognized the presence of a predator with amber eyes and pointed teeth curved into a wicked smile.

Fenrir Greyback had spotted Dobby, but not Harry and was grinning in that awful, wolfish way. Harry felt every muscle in his body tensed to run, to fight, to do something, but he kept still and made himself do nothing as he stood, invisible and watching, waiting for everything to go to ruin.

"Oi, elf," Greyback growled and Dobby flinched himself into a bow that seemed rather like an attempt to hide himself. "Go and make us something nice and raw, yeah? I'm sick of waiting around for Nott's little lamb to draw in the lion,"

He rumbled a laugh and passed Dobby without a second glance, unblinkingly assuming that Dobby was just another house elf of the Manor and not at all out of place. Harry breathed a sigh of relief as Greyback passed him too; going toward the room Harry and Dobby had just emerged from. Harry thought that he should lock Greyback in the room after he shut himself inside, one less beast to worry about as they went downstairs and into the snake pit.

When he turned to shadow Greyback, however, he saw that the werewolf had paused in his steps, and seemed to be sniffing the air—oh Merlin.

"Something smells like a healing…and a little girl's perfume…and, oh could it be?"

He turned and the moonlight glinted off his yellowed teeth with a malicious, hungry gleam as bright as that which glimmered in his hunter's eyes. He knew Harry was there, saturated in the scents of the sterile Hospital wing and Ginny's flowery perfume, and with no doubt, whatever smell one associated with none other than the Boy Who Lived himself. What scent was that, he wondered, perhaps the aroma of stupidity and recklessness?

Greyback's eyes were darting about the corridor, his slightly pointed ears twitching this way and that, listening for Harry's every breath, his nose scrunched and seeking out his scent. Harry seemed very much trapped, but then there was a distraction that gave him what could very well be the few moments that saved his life.

"Oi elf!" Greyback snarled at Dobby, "Get out of here, go and get Rodolphus and tell him that the boy's come for his bitch."

And Dobby, far more brave than many people Harry knew, faced Greyback's glare with a scowl as he stood tall and proudly proclaimed, "Dobby is a free elf!"

Greyback frankly looked gobsmacked by the elf's words, likely just as much because he wasn't a frightened, servile mess that had yet to make him food or fetch a Death Eater from downstairs. Even for Greyback, a werewolf, realizing that a 'lower' creature than himself having a free will was rather unbelievable.

So Harry had the pleasure of aiming a Stunner right into the stupid expression on the beast's face, smiling in satisfaction as he went down with a quiet thud that no one downstairs would hear. Dobby looked just as pleased as he shuffled up and wordlessly levitated the fallen werewolf as they made their way back toward the room with the Vanishing Cabinet to lock the beast away. Harry was beginning to think that maybe things would go better than the bloodbath he'd been expecting, the hellhole crawling with Death Eaters and snakes. He had the distinct feeling that Voldemort wasn't even there, his scar unhurt, so the threat of downstairs that faced them was much less than he'd originally thought.

That's when something he should have expected happened. He instantly regretted not reading his D.A.D.A. text more thoroughly, after all, then he would have known that it takes more than one spell to properly down a werewolf, especially so close to the full moon.

Greyback sprang back to life with a vicious howl as he thrashed, dirty, claw-like fingernails catching on Dobby's fuzzy jumper and flinging him across the corridor crash into a bust that was watching with interest. Harry was dealt a booted kick to the gut and he toppled over, rolling away from Greyback, who was still hovering and still swiping and kicking like mad. He blindly cast another Stupefy as the werewolf was sprang on him, taking advantage of the levitation and flying roughly into him, teeth and claws rather than charms and curses. Harry desperately pushed away at the werewolf's face, feeling as his hands struggled to claw their way through Harry's clothes to tear at flesh and spill blood.

Harry numbly counted as he fired off spell after spell into the werewolf, his voice hoarse as he shouted the incantations, probably summoning whoever waited downstairs. He felt that he was losing strength. The very stench of Greyback made him dizzy, it was acid and rank and reeked of sin and other poisons. However, he felt that the werewolf was weakening too; his body heavier as he struggled to hold it up as they rolled on the carpet and smashed into walls and more busts, his claws were slowing and breathing labored. Harry's wand was suddenly knocked aside at an odd angle that pointed away from Greyback and he froze in his panic. Then that breath—the worst smelling of the whole of him—was on his neck, hot and lusting for pain and his end, smelling of rot and blood and—of mint.

Something snapped within Harry—a screaming renting him like claws made filthy with a terrible outrage and spilt a fiery, pure possession into his veins. His master, his Draco, how dare this mutt get close enough to steal that heavenly scent from the palest, most stained of angels?

The force of the magic blackened his vision for a moment and Harry wasn't all that sure as to what had happened exactly, but he was lying on the carpet and Greyback was back in the shadows of the far corridor, just an unmoving mound that appeared to be partially melded into the floor itself. Harry shuddered as he took in the sight and realized that it was his own magic that had done that Dark-looking deed.

He made himself think that it was all for the best, that it was all for his master. He full well knew that he'd do far more than murder for Draco.

His worry strung higher than ever, fit to snap, he crawled over to Dobby's prone form against the wall.

"Dobby?" he shook the elf gingerly, "Dobby?"

Dobby's tennis ball eyes swam as he opened them and squinted at Harry. He hoisted himself to his feet suddenly and shook his head, looking a little worse for the wear, but ready to fight by Harry's side.

"Dobby is just fine, Harry Potter sir," Dobby whispered cheerily at Harry's skeptical look, "Dobby has had much worse."

Unfortunately, Harry didn't doubt that. He once again slipped the Cloak over them and left the form of Greyback behind them as they at last reached the staircase and crept down it.

The hall they turned onto was just as long as the last and filled with opened doors, within any one of which Draco might be. His presence was intensely close, pulling at Harry with a power surpassing that of an Unforgivable, but all light rather than so dark a curse.

Dobby tugged at his trouser leg and Harry let the elf lead, his heart thudding so audibly in his chest that he was sure all of Wiltshire could hear, not to mention the Death Eaters that lurked somewhere nearby. He was still expecting another attack after the commotion upstairs.

They came upon a door half opened, and inside was something from a memory, a nightmare that wasn't Harry's; a dimly lit room and a darkened carpet, black cloaked figures congregating around a single figure that was easily the brightest thing in the room in its paleness. Harry knew that alabaster shade well, how it had been turned a sickly pallid hue under stress and terror, how it smelled of mint and tasted like the sweetest of nectars.

Draco was slumped on the floor before the glowing embers of the fireplace that cast his shadow long across the room. There were four other people in the room, but Harry could hardly be bothered to pay them any mind, not when Draco was right there, needing him, wanting him, his eyes dull and depraved of the light Harry had come to love.

Dobby tugged on him again and Harry forced himself to take note of the other people in the room. He knew one of them was Rodolphus Lestrange, and Harry felt, he knew, that the pair beside the fireplace, just in the shadow, was Lucius and Narcissa. Harry knew Narcissa at the least wouldn't fight him much, perhaps so as not to look the traitor, but Harry understood the careful line they were walking, the one Draco had stumbled and fallen over.

Dobby was tugging on him again and he nodded impatiently, trying to formulate some sort of plan of attack, but all time to think was stolen from him as he was suddenly shoved into the room, falling over Dobby and onto his face as the Cloak became bunched up and fell away. There was a frozen moment as everyone in the room gaped at Harry Potter.

Then there was a flurry of motion as wands were drawn and aimed at him. Harry's own darted from target to target, feeling overwhelmed and cornered. Dobby wasn't even at his side anymore and Harry more than understood the elf's need to flee.

"I told you!" a crazed voice he recognized shrieked, "I knew he'd come! He had to!"

Theodore Nott was behind him, the one who had shoved him into the room and the one who had kidnapped Draco and brought him to this nightmare. Harry felt more rage toward him than to anyone else in the room, and he turned in the slightest to catch of glimpse of his frighteningly wide smirk.

He couldn't get to Nott just yet however, not with three adults ready to curse him all at once. Narcissa as far as he could tell had disappeared entirely; he couldn't see her in the shadows or feel her presence. Harry was still dreadfully outnumbered, the confidence he'd gained within the presence of his master was all but gone along with the incredible power he'd only just wielded against Greyback. It was all just accidental magic it seemed, coming and going and never there when it was most needed.

All of a sudden, there was one less person's spell to dodge, leaving the unnamed Death Eater, Nott and Lucius looking about in bewilderment. The bearded Death Eater seemed to believe Harry had somehow vanished Lestrange without so much as a whisper of a spell and gave a snarl of anger as he fired off a spell. Harry deftly rolled out of the way, away from Nott and into the darker portion of the room as the four converged on him, casting curses furiously.

The glow of spells lit up the darkness in a sinister rainbow, but there had yet to be any green illuminating the drawing room. They wanted him alive, having been ready all along to trap him because they knew he would never be able to resist the bait they kept immobile before the fireplace. Harry couldn't spare a glance at Draco as he tried to Disarm them between Protegos. He just needed a moment, a falter in the gunfire of curses, and then he might be able to—

Just as he aimed a spell at Nott, the other Death Eater popped out of existence.

Harry then realized where Dobby had gone and had a brilliant idea; if it'd work, and if he'd have the chance. At the moment, it was unlikely, but he saw a glimmer of hope in the form of the uncertainty in the eldest Malfoy's eyes.

Nott, however, was relentless, a mad light to his eyes as he flicked the hair from his face and mercilessly slashed Dark curse after Dark curse at Harry. He had this great, triumphant grin on his face that was more than disturbing as he laughed breathlessly.

"I knew it," he kept repeating, "I knew it,"

"Just what did you know then?" Harry snapped, barely taking note of the fact that Lucius had paused in his attack.

Nott looked positively smug in his predatory, insane way, like a dog with rabies.

"Draco was supposed to be doing his job and it was obvious he wasn't," Nott smirked, "If that wasn't offense enough, he went off and started chasing after you, or rather, you were chasing him."

Harry snarled and lashed out with a curse that Nott sidestepped with a guffaw, seeming to enjoy himself immensely as he continued.

"Was it just a little crush? He'd always had the most awful tastes, but this was different. This was involuntary. Like a spell or a curse."

Ginny's words were oddly echoed and Harry wished desperately he could look at Draco, but he kept his eyes on Nott and didn't dare take them off him. Whatever the Slytherin saw there betrayed him.

"It's a curse isn't it?" Nott was giddy, "Like—"

A look of realization spread over Nott's face and he leapt over to where Draco was, jerking him to his feet and jabbing his wand to his neck. Something broke within the room and the atmosphere felt heavy, crackling with something far more powerful than electricity, like a brewing storm as Harry glared and silently dared Nott to do something to his master just so that he could have the excuse to kill him.

"Go on, Draco," Nott hissed, a perverse glee widening his smile as he watched as Draco and Harry locked eyes, grey and green and unwavering, "Tell Potter to behave like a proper elf."

There was something pulling within him, Harry could feel the order on Draco's tongue, and was prepared to leap through the bindings of the curse and fight and struggle and kill himself before he gave in and passively sat by.

"Don't do anything stupid, Potter,"

There was a bitter sort of amusement in Draco's eyes as Harry blinked into them and felt no noose around his neck, no bindings, only a wide, wonderfully free loophole for Harry to leap through. He could have smiled if he wasn't about to do something many people would consider very stupid, but he knew was actually quite recklessly clever and undoubtedly unexpected.

He sprung forward and tackled Nott, pushing Draco away as they fell and suddenly vanished with a resonant crack!

Harry had tore through barriers and enchantments in only a way an elf could, willing himself by pure, servile magic to take this wretched thing as far from his master as possible—just as he wanted. Harry rather like Draco's imagination as snowflakes blew into his eyes and a chilly wind wrapped around him and his captive as they scrambled away from each other—and for footing because the ground they stood on was at a steep slant.

"What the hell?" Nott exclaimed, all the victory and the madness gone from his face as he gaped at the glorious, blindingly white-dusted view around them. The view of the Hogwarts grounds from the top of the Astronomy Tower was astounding in winter and Harry smirked as he took it in, relief flooding his body as ice cold air filled his lungs and kicked a new strength into him.

Dobby had been imaginative to think of simply popping away the enemy, wherever they had gone, and trust only Draco to be vividly envisioning pitching Nott of the Astronomy Tower enough to translate the image through the curse.

"Someone will find you, eventually," Harry informed a shivering Nott, who was casting about for his wand, which was buried somewhere in the snow. Harry felt no guilt as he channeled the magic that didn't seem really his through the trilling of the curse, Nott would be struck there, and frozen or not, he could do no more damage to his master.

With another crack! he was back in that dimly lit drawing room, and he blinked as he tried to rid himself of bright blotches over his vision from gazing out into the very white, very bright snow.

Draco was there, sprawled on the ground and still under the effect of whatever spell that inhibited his movement, white as the snow Harry felt melting in his hair. He just wanted to pick him up and pop! them away from there, to the library maybe, to their warm, snug corner and curl together into Draco's plush arm chair and sleep off the nightmare. It was what he wanted, and what he knew, by the almost drawling twang of the curse that it was what Draco wanted too.

But Draco's eyes widened suddenly, fear flashing in their stormy depths like lightening as Harry turned, too late, to face a wand to his chest and a shaken Lucius Malfoy.

"I must do what's best for my family," he said slowly, all the aristocratic assurance and pride gone from him as his wand arm shook and his eyes darted to his son, "I have to."

He seemed to be trying to convince both Harry and himself. Harry actually felt as if he liked the man a little more if just because of his loyalty to his family.

"I want what is best for Draco," Harry cautiously gave the smallest of bows to the head of the family he served, the family the most entwined part of him wanted the best for.

Lucius gave a ghost of his own curt smirk, and Draco suddenly started yelling.

"Don't! Father, don't you dare!"

Harry turned to look at Draco, at his frightened, wide eyes, those beautiful December sky, grey, grey eyes framed by the lightest of eyelashes the hue of newly fallen snow before everything went luridly, dreadfully green.


Harry understood why Lucius did it. It was what was best for the Malfoys. Harry died in Nott's trap and the Vanishing Cabinet was a success and all was forgiven, they were in power and safety once more. It was what was expected of them.

What Harry didn't understand was why death was rather like life with one's eyes closed. It wasn't any darker than usual, maybe a bit more uncomfortable than a sleep, but just as groggy and head-muddling. He would have liked to see his parents, and Sirius and Cedric and everyone he'd ever lost. He'd found some people he'd really miss, but at the moment the loss couldn't touch him because there was a song flowing through him, the softest of melodies that twisted and twined through his heartstrings, the lyrics slowly reaching him, a broken, begging, almost senseless litany of, "How dare you? How dare you?"

Those words meant something, Harry felt, didn't they? He was starting to feel a lot of things again, like warmth and a wetness, a pressure and a cold floor.

"Damn it, I never wanted you to be like this," someone was crying, someone with the most beautiful of voices, "I never expected this of you, though the rest of the world did, didn't they?"

Harry willed the shell he was in, the body that was gradually gaining feeling to move, and he was suddenly half-sitting up in a pair of slim arms. There was a song he had to sing along to it seemed, deep within and weaved by this choked, angel voice that was so wonderfully near him.

"What do you want me to be, Master?" Were those his words, so quiet and rough?

There was a sob that was almost a laugh, and the arms held him closer and Harry could hear a drum, a heartbeat that joined in the orchestra threading its way into his hazed and foggy soul.

"I want you to be Harry Potter," said the angel voice, the conductor of this music, the creator, "I want you to be the stupid, brash, stubborn and untamable Harry Potter that I know."

The song, that lovely piece that always played somewhere deep within him on taut strings and jingling chains about hatred and unlikely love, of curses and blessings and dreams and nightmares, of grey skies and verdant fields, stopped in the most deafening acquiescence.

Harry knew he was fainting, and that was alright, because he was in Draco's arms.


There was no aroma of mint here, nor was there any music. Just a murmur past the darkness of his shut eyes that he knew quite well, too well; worried voices echoing in the spacious Hospital wing. He knew the feel of the crisp sheets, the sterile smell, and the very placement of the air itself. He knew where most of the potions were stored and much of what they did. Sometimes he wished he didn't know as much as he did, but at that moment his memory was eluding him.

"I thought you might sleep forever."

Harry's eyes snapped open and flickered to the source of the drawling voice. Draco was at his bedside, lounging back in an armchair identical to that which was tucked away in the library. He looked dazzlingly stark in the white hospital robes along with his ivory skin and near-white hair. Harry had to blink at him for a few moments, something randomly flashing through his mind about angels. That was stupid, of course, Draco Malfoy was no angel.

"I'm awake," Harry croaked, his throat dry. Draco instantly supplied him with a glass of water and Harry could only watch him as he drank.

"So you are." Draco said, a mysterious look of awe on his pale face.

"What? What's happened?" Harry demanded, a slow horror creeping up on his as Draco just looked at him, his eyes unfathomable and frighteningly bright.


Harry turned to see Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Snape and Dumbledore staring at him as if they didn't know him, as if he were some strange boy that had popped existence while their backs were turned.

Why was he in the Hospital wing in the first place? Something about a cabinet, Dobby, a dark corridor, the moon nearly full, and hot rank breath at his throat ready to sink poisonous teeth into his flesh…

He was a werewolf.

His hand flew to his neck, but he felt nothing there but smooth skin and sweat. He turned to Draco in puzzlement.


Draco seemed to break from the spell that captivated him to watch Harry like he was something rare and miraculous. He smirked at Harry's panicked hand and shook his head.

"I'm not sure what you did to that beast, but he did nothing to you," a satisfied sneer curled his smirk away, "He won't be doing anything to anybody now."

Greyback had been nothing more than a shape in the floor, Harry now recalled. He started to remember everything, what had happened after that burst of magic, what had happened in the drawing room of Malfoy Manor. What Lucius Malfoy had done.

Now he understood why everyone was gawking as if he was something rare and miraculous, it was because he was indeed miraculous at the very least. He defied death for the second time.

Harry was at a loss for words, slack jawed as he stared at Draco and wondered how and why. Draco smiled slightly, seeming to read his mind.

"For once you weren't much of a Gryffindor," he said, too quietly for anyone but himself and Harry to hear, "You didn't dare."

He hadn't. He hadn't dared die when he'd been told, given a direct order, not to.

"The curse then, is it…?"

Harry didn't need Draco to tell him that it was broken; all the musical, intrusive threads that had wound their way within him seemingly irrevocably were gone and slipped away, its final act saving his life. He was just Harry now, stupid, brash, untamable Harry. There were no chains binding him to the boy that sat beside him, that watched the truth dawning in his eyes. There was nothing at all that kept him by the Slytherin's side, no curse or any rational thought tethered him there.

Except for that drunken, irrational spell of a feeling, heated and deep and boundless; a love that lilted across the silence between them, on his heartstrings, as strong and sure as a phoenix song.

"It's broken," Dumbledore's voice dragged him away from the enveloping December skies that were Draco's eyes, "This time."

Harry felt guilt well up in him, but the twinkle was back in Dumbledore's eyes and it was only Hermione who was not smiling (and Snape of course). She looked tore between tears and a disapproving glare. Harry smiled sheepishly and she turned away, burying what was no doubt a relieved, proud smile in Ron's shoulder.

"So I lived again?" Harry asked simply and both Draco and Snape rolled their eyes.

"Yes, indeed. The Boy Who Lived Again." Dumbledore chuckled and Harry felt like rolling his own eyes. He certainly didn't need any more titles. He was just Harry.

He got back to the question that niggled at him, casting a wary look toward Draco.

"Is Lucius-?"

Dumbledore raised a hand to silence him and gave him a fond smile that eased the chewing concern of his stomach.

"Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy have been escorted to an Order-sponsored safe house and are being looked after by a certain house elf that so happens to have just been inducted into the Order of the Phoenix."

Harry beamed and seized Draco's hand in his own, relief and happiness welling inside him and spilling over. He watched as it spread to Draco, who quite reluctantly smiled back and mumbled something under his breath about house elves. Harry took no offense and just kept smiling like a loon and feeling incredibly proud for Dobby and all the elf has done for him, and for Draco.

As soon as Dumbledore and Snape swept out, Harry's friend's converged on him, asking questions and scolding him, congratulating him and, much to the Slytherin's veiled embarrassment, welcoming Draco back. He only granted Hermione a smirk of a smile and she grinned in return.

"So what's gone on while I was supposed to be dead?" Harry asked. Draco's hand tightened around his just the smallest bit and Harry pulled him the slightest bit closer. This was not lost on Ginny, and Harry could see that distant glimmer of a melancholy yearning in her eyes, but it was just that: distant and eclipsed with a wide smile.

"Nott was rescued from the Astronomy Tower," she said, "That was rather brilliant, a prank worthy of the twins."

"It wasn't a prank, and it's mostly thanks to Draco's…vivid imagination." Draco cocked a brow unabashedly and Harry knew there were far worse things he'd fantasized about. He inexplicably felt himself blushing and blustered on, "Anyway, what's going to happen to him now?"

"He's not Marked, but it's fairly obvious what he was trying to do." Hermione supplied, having calmed down into a half-hearted sulkiness, "He's awaiting trial. But the Vanishing Cabinet was destroyed."

"But what about the one in Malfoy Manor?"

"Well I suppose it's rather useless now, but no one is going to go there for a while anyway, not until the Ministry has had a look around at least." Ron said, and Harry was proud to note that he didn't look the slightest bit uncomfortable around Draco, "But it's not as if You-Know-Who is about to use it as a hideout again. I suppose that he was just as cross as Trelawney to learn that you didn't die."

Harry chuckled weakly, and then turned to Draco, whose eyes were downcast. When he felt Harry's stare however, he straightened, a fierce disdain on his face even as he gripped Harry's hand.

"It's not as if I ever want to go back there, so don't stare at me all sorrowfully as if I'm some stray with no place to go." He glared at them all haughtily, as if daring them to show an ounce of pity for him, "I'll be spending the summer in the safe house with my parents."

Harry just smiled at the brave, brave boy that made 'safe house' sound like 'exclusive resort' and held the pale, spindly hand closer to his chest.

"And I'll be going there as well," Harry said.

"Well, naturally, after all, Harry,"

After all they'd been through together, the need they had for the other's presence, the desperate desire for a smile, a smirk, or just a passing stare. After all, they would wither over the sweltering summer without the spring rain of verdant green, or the cooling winter wind of grey. After all, they couldn't forget, couldn't control that wondrous curse of a love that bound them as a passionate, volatile, deeply devoted and inexplicable couple.

Of course, neither said this, rather merely allowing it to pass between them in nothing more than an acquiescence.

No one expected any less of them.


Finite Incantatem