Title: Intoxicate the Sun
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters; I am writing this for fun and not profit.
Warnings: Violence (lots of it), heavy angst, sex, references to torture and rape. Ignores the epilogue.
Pairings: Harry/Draco, Ron/Hermione, possibly other minor pairings that might crop up along the way.
Summary: Harry starts a revolution. A revolution with spies, disaffected Aurors, dragons, Azkaban escapees, joke shop owners turned war strategists, and magical theories. And Draco Malfoy is one of the spies-deciding whether he should betray Potter for the sake of his parents, or the other way around.
Author's Notes: This will be a long story, and at this point I don't know how many chapters it's likely to cover. A lot of the chapters include politics and philosophy as well as action, so be warned.
Intoxicate the Sun
Chapter One-Before the Wall
Ron ducked as Harry hurled the paperweight that the Ministry had given him on the fourth anniversary of Voldemort's death at the wall. It was glass, and it broke, and Harry had to draw his wand to shield Ron from the flying pieces. He didn't bother shielding himself. At the moment, he felt like a little blood.
Ron came slowly up on the opposite side of the desk, gaping at him. "Are you all right, mate?"
Harry sat down in his chair and shook his head. It took several moments of champing his teeth before he could speak. "The Ministry isn't admitting our evidence in the Donner trial," he said.
"What?" Ron rocked forwards on his heels, staring. "But they have to! We have a signed confession!"
"Apparently, it was all 'a misunderstanding,'" Harry said, shaping the words with his fingers. "Imperius. Some never-heard-of mind control potion that just happens to inspire pure-bloods to target Muggleborns. The woman he raped deserved it. And so on." He stared at the far wall.
"Um, mate," Ron pointed out. "Your sleeve's on fire."
"What?" Harry looked down. Yes, his magic was causing bright scarlet flames to jump over his wrist and drip on the desk. He dismissed them by clenching his fingers and picked up a napkin left over from lunch to pat the singed sleeve. Ron cleared his throat and shifted in his seat.
"It's shite," he said. "But you know what a smug bastard Foresby is. There's no way that he'll hold himself back from bragging or doing it again. That time, we'll have him."
"It's the pattern that worries me," Harry said. He looked back at Ron in time to see him wincing, and only then realized the air around them was superheating. He sighed and took a few tranquilizing breaths, trying to get rid of the wild magic. "Sorry."
"Pattern?" Ron raised his eyebrows at him. "You sound like Hermione."
"There are worse things," Harry said. "Sometimes," he corrected himself, when Ron rolled his eyes a bit. "But I'm talking about the pattern of all these Death Eaters being let off when they commit crimes against Muggleborns."
Ron frowned and cocked his head. "I don't think Foresby was ever a Death Eater."
"Pure-bloods, then." Harry kicked the bottom of the desk and curled his hand down, hard, on the flame that was growing from the center of his palm. "They're acquitted. Always."
Ron's frown deepened. "I think there was one that was committed to Azkaban for three months a year ago. Trueworth? I think that was his name."
"One," Harry said. "He's the only one. I remember him because of that. Three months for murder, Ron."
Ron shifted. "No one could ever prove it was murder."
"Meanwhile," Harry continued, feeling the choking sensation build up in his throat and hearing it in his voice too, "there's sure to be a conviction every time it was a Muggleborn acting against a pure-blood. And even for minor crimes. Three years in Azkaban for stealing a piece of cloth! The only reason that one got upheld is because that pure-blood family ultimately owns Gladrags."
Ron nodded. "I see what you mean, and yeah, it's disturbing, but what can we do, mate? Even your name doesn't make any difference."
Harry clenched his hands together. That way, there was at least the chance that they would do less damage to the desktop. "I know that," he whispered. "It feels like we're battering our heads against a brick wall and making no difference, Ron. Not my name, not our determination, not Kingsley's appointment after the war, not common sense. Nothing makes any difference. It's still the people with the money and the influence who buy their way out of trouble, and still the ones who were born into the wrong families that get sentenced. And it's getting worse," he added, before Ron could open his mouth. "Oh, I know the Ministry's always been corrupt, but they barely hide it anymore. The public just accepts it. Everyone's so eager to forget about the war and the divisions between pure-bloods and Muggleborns that they pretend the pure-bloods' persecution of them is normal. Which allows anyone who cares to ignore the ignoring get away with whatever he wants to."
"I think Hermione would be really impressed that you used proper grammar all the way through those sentences, mate."
Harry snapped his head around and glared at Ron. "What's the matter, Ron? Don't you care about this?"
"I do," Ron said quietly, with a glitter in his eyes that told Harry Ron's indifference was only a mask. "But I don't see what we can do about it. That's the way the system is, mate. And sometimes we do a bit of good. I'd rather stay here and do that then go about outside it, where we'll have less chance than ever to help people."
Harry opened his mouth, and then shut it again. Ron was right, and the thought made the last of the flames die inside him. Exactly what were they supposed to do? If they tried to hunt down pure-bloods who had hurt Muggleborns, then they would be vigilantes. If they tried to ensure justice for everyone, then people would mock them for not being part of the Wizengamot, and no one would have a reason to listen. If they tried to change people's attitudes, then they would just run headlong into the wall of boredom and refusal to listen that had made up everyone's responses to these cases so far.
But remaining still and watching in silence as justice was abused made everything worse.
"I want to do more than this," Harry whispered, lowering his hands to the desktop and resting his chin on top of them.
"I know, mate." Ron's hand on his shoulder was steady and reassuring, and at least showed Harry that he had friends he could count on, even if the rest of the world seemed to be decaying and rotting around him. "I know."
When Hermione came to dinner that night, Harry knew something was wrong before she stepped out of the Floo.
"Bloody bastards," she said, stubbing her toe on the edge of the hearth and staggering into Harry's drawing room. Harry didn't think she was talking about his bricks, painful though they might be.
"What happened?" Harry poured the wine he'd readied into the three glasses standing on the table, then paused and nudged Hermione's a bit further from Ron's. She didn't lose control of her magic like he did, but she did sometimes wave her arms around.
"They forbade me to do any more research on house-elves," Hermione said, slamming the enormous stack of papers and folders she carried onto the table. Only a quick dive from Harry saved the glasses. "Forbade. They said that I wouldn't be employed in Magical Creatures anymore unless I agreed." She planted her hands on her hips, eyes so bright that Harry wondered if she was going to cry. "I don't understand it, Harry," she whispered. "There was more idealism after the war than this. I know there was. What happened?"
"Duplais happened," Harry said grimly.
Hermione paused and stared at him. "Harry," she murmured at last, "you can't blame all of the Ministry's ills on the Minister. He's a Muggleborn."
"He's a bastard."
"I'll be very upset if you're insulting my parents," Ron said, coming out of the bathroom.
"We're talking about Duplais," Harry said, turning towards him.
Ron didn't disappoint. "Right," he said, with a nod. "In that case, the only mistake you're making is that your words aren't strong enough." He reached over, picked up his glass of wine, and took a long swallow. Hermione didn't look as though she knew whether to be more distressed about that or about Ron agreeing with Harry.
"He didn't cause everything," she said. "Corrupt factions might have elected him, but he's not responsible for the way the Wizengamot votes, or for the tradition that says pure-bloods matter more than Muggleborns."
Harry shook his head. "I've noticed the patterns," he said, causing Ron briefly to look as if he was strangling. "Once he came into office, the pattern of judgment that was established under Kingsley's leadership reversed itself. A bunch of Death Eater convictions were overturned. There was even talk of releasing the Malfoys."
"I wouldn't have thought you would be upset if Narcissa Malfoy was released," Hermione said, sitting down hard in her chair.
Harry folded his arms. This was an old argument. "She insisted that she had done everything her husband had done, and nothing else," he said. "When I stood up in front of the courtroom and told them that she lied to Voldemort for me, she said I must be mistaken, because Lucius hadn't done that. What, should I have told them that she was lying and rescued her against her will when she was so determined to share his fate? Anyway, I let them see my memories and they still condemned her," he added, voice sinking. He could see the way Narcissa Malfoy's face had shone on that day, and her smile, in ways he didn't understand, as if it was thrilling to see her freedom being thrown away right before her eyes. He could still see them whenever he wanted, come to that.
"Even Lucius," Hermione said.
Ron cut in. "The Wizengamot started deciding that any case involving a pure-blood as the defendant wasn't worth hearing, or that the evidence wasn't 'convincing,' somehow. And when we went and talked to Duplais about the restrictions on our Department, he smiled and said that we should get used to it, that more were coming down. The Aurors had been too free with spells during the war, he said. Innocent people who didn't deserve it got cursed in the back."
"Well, that did happen," said Hermione.
Ron rolled his eyes at Harry over her head. Harry nodded back. Hermione's tendency to be relentlessly logical wasn't always a good thing.
"Because they were working for Voldemort, or the Death Eaters," Harry said. "That can't be a hard distinction if even I managed to grasp it."
Hermione looked earnestly at him. "I wish that you wouldn't put yourself down like that, Harry," she murmured. "I don't think it's good for you."
Harry refrained from rolling his eyes with an effort, and said, "It's something simple, something that any bloke who wants to become Minister should understand. And he has to understand, too, that this can't go on forever. Someone's going to snap and start something soon." He picked up his glass and sipped his wine, trying to control the urge to gulp it. That would do his temper and his stomach no good.
"That's what I don't see," Ron added softly, "the deliberate turning away from things that ought to be simple. I just-who told them they could do that? What happened to the Order of the Phoenix and the people who stood up and fought during the war? I know why Kingsley wasn't elected again, Duplais just talked too well, but I don't know what took everyone's courage away."
"It never was a lot of people who fought during the war," Hermione said gently. "Not that many people were involved in the Battle of Hogwarts, for that matter, and most of the ones outside it ran from the Snatchers, or hid, or did as they were told because they knew what would happen if they didn't. I think what they want more than anything else is a normal life back. And here's someone telling them they can have both peace and safety if they turn their heads away from a few nonsense convictions and acquittals. It's tempting, don't you think? Especially since they're so prone to believe that they'll never get in trouble, that being locked up in Azkaban happens to all those other people, and only the ones who deserve it."
A gloomy silence fell on the table. Ron stared at his hands. Hermione stared into the distance, toying with the stem of her wineglass. Harry looked from one to the other of them and felt as if the wine had caught fire in his gut.
"Someone has to do something," he said. "Someone should do something."
"But becoming outlaws means no one listens to us," Ron said wearily. "We had that discussion before, Harry."
Harry shook his head, although he tried to smile so that Ron would understand it wasn't basic disagreement with the idea. "Someone should do something," he repeated.
Kreacher and Winky came in with the meal then, and Harry tried to cheer up and turn his mind to other things.
Hermione ate the very good chicken salad that Winky and Kreacher had prepared in silence, listening as Harry and Ron discussed their current cases. Or rather, Ron discussed the current cases. Harry just listened, his eyes flashing now and then. The most he gave were affirmative grunts when Ron mentioned suspicions he had or tactics he thought they should use in the next investigation.
She found Ron's hand under the table and squeezed it, rubbing their wedding rings together. Ron beamed back at her as he always did, his face softening before he turned to the conversation with Harry again.
Hermione shook her head slowly. Harry was right. Someone should do something, if only to stop the corruption that Hermione could see spreading steadily through the Ministry.
Someone. But she was not at all convinced that that person was Harry. Let him rest from his wars.
Harry paused outside the Minister's door and once again ran over the words that he was going to speak in his mind. He could feel Hermione's doubtful gaze on the back of his neck. She had come along with him under protest, and then only when Harry flattered her and said that he needed someone who could make him look good if he spoke irrationally, which of course he would.
You can't lose your temper, he reminded himself. Burning down the Minister's office won't look good in the press.
When he knocked, he heard Duplais's uninterested voice commanding them to come in. Harry looked back at Hermione once. She nodded to him, and Harry opened the door so that he could usher her just in ahead of him.
Minister of Magic Jacques Duplais stood by the enchanted window in the back of his office, considering the bleak, rainy view it currently showed. Harry could see that his dark hair had been recently cut again, and that his black robes looked like they'd never been folded. He thought about the money that was probably being spent on shit like that while every attempt to mount an investigation into the Wizengamot stalled, and clenched his fists down at his sides.
Hermione glared at him, then said, "Minister Duplais? We'd like to speak with you."
He turned around. As always, Harry felt something like a cold shock when those green eyes met his. Duplais was the only other person he'd ever met who had eyes like him, or like his mother.
"Yes, what is it?" Duplais asked, in the calm, ordinary voice that made Harry's shoulders tense anyway. "I only have a bit of time this morning. The Andorran delegation is coming in, and they need me."
"Britain needs you," Harry said, and felt the heat singe his fingernails from inside his palms. Hermione gave him a warning glance that did nothing to calm him down. Duplais had smoothly stepped past all the shit that might have stuck to him thus far. Well, Harry was determined that he wasn't going to do it this time. "We had a signed confession yesterday, sir. Reginald Foresby raped and tortured Lydia Donner. And the Wizengamot dismissed it with claims that he must have been under Imperius, although no trace of Imperius was recorded on him."
Duplais studied him without answering. Harry tried to wait, but he could feel the spiral of heat grabbing his heart, making its beat stutter. Why should pure-bloods be allowed to get away with everything just because some of them hadn't been on the wrong side during the war? There were plenty of Muggleborns who hadn't been, either, but the Wizengamot had shown no hesitation in condemning those they thought they could get away with condemning.
"There is a reason that you didn't become Minister, Potter," Duplais said at last. "You don't understand the way the world works. The Minister is not the personal slave of every citizen who needs him, in the way that you would have tried to make me. I will address the issues that you think are so dear to you and only you, but eventually. Your impatience will cause more harm than good."
"There's no time for Donner," Harry snapped. "Would you say that to her, Minister? Would you tell her that she'll just have to wait for her turn at justice, because it's more important to give a self-important pure-blood every benefit of the doubt, even when he proved that he didn't need it? Oh, excuse me," he added, although he could feel Hermione's hand, heavy as a chain, on his elbow. "A self-important pure-blood who donates to the Ministry."
"Harry," Hermione hissed in his ear, but Harry felt free to ignore her. His heart was going like a hammer, and his ears ached with its pounding, and he couldn't take his eyes from Duplais, who gave him a small, weary smile.
"And in your words, I can hear the other side of the madness that took over our world," Duplais murmured. "For someone who has pure-blood friends himself, and who supposedly fought to free all of us, no matter our blood status, you seem terribly willing to succumb to this prejudice, Mr. Potter. Should someone be denied a fair trial just because he's pure-blood? Should someone be worth less because he considers the Ministry a suitable cause for donation? I regret to say that I do not share your ill-informed and ignorant judgments."
Harry wanted to claw the walls. The bastard was twisting his words. Harry didn't know how, but something reasonable and just, that Foresby should be tried for the Donner case, was getting mixed up in whether Harry had these feelings or not, as if that was important.
"The Wizengamot didn't give him a fair trial," Harry said. "They didn't give him any trial. You're essentially saying that the torture of a Muggleborn citizen doesn't matter, Minister. You're saying that rape doesn't matter, as long as it's committed against the 'wrong' sort of women. Why should anyone who's Muggleborn believe you when you say that justice will be done? Why should they trust the Wizengamot? And why should any pure-blood hold back, when they believe that they could get away with exercising their own blood prejudice if they want to?"
"You hold to a very dark view of human nature indeed, Mr. Potter," Duplais said, and his eyebrows rose. "I'm sad to see it. I had thought a hero would be less cynical. I believe that most of our citizens will do right because of their own inherent goodness, not because they are terrified of the draconian laws that you want me to enact and enforce. Stay around in this world a bit longer, and you'll see some of the things that don't make sense, that don't fit into the neat little boxes of blood prejudice. Murderous Muggleborns. Pure-bloods who don't care for those beneath them but don't try to hurt others. Half-bloods who are worse than either." He sighed and turned back to his desk, seeming to estimate the importance of paperwork there with an expert eye. "And that is all the time I can afford you today, I think. Perhaps I could give you longer if you were less angry."
Harry opened his mouth to say something. He never knew what it would have been, because Hermione leaned back and said with calm determination, "I can't help noticing, sir, that you keep addressing Harry as Mr. Potter instead of Auror Potter."
"I do, don't I?" The Minister smiled at her and then nodded sadly at Harry. "I daresay that you'll hear the news later today. I might as well tell you now, since you're here. You are relieved of your Auror rank, Mr. Potter. Effective immediately. The Ministry cannot harbor retrograde and reactionary elements, you know."
The fire rushed out of Harry, seizing Duplais and tossing him back against the opposite wall. He screamed as the flames coiled around his chest, down his limbs, and then he stopped screaming as it went down his throat. The smell was thick around them, the smell of a good roast.
The paper on the desk caught fire, the books on the shelves, the wood of the shelves, the chair behind the desk, the curtains hanging on the enchanted window. Harry moved to shield Hermione from the flames before he thought about it, and she leaned against his back and cried and cried out.
"Harry, stop! Harry, you're killing him!"
Still consumed in that initial burst of rage as in a sunrise, it was hard for Harry to listen at first. He wanted to see Duplais's eyes melt and drip down his cheeks, he realized. He wanted to see his bones blacken and crumble and collapse. He wanted to hear the small crackles and pops from inside his body as the fat fried.
But Hermione was with him, and she shouldn't have to see something like that, so he pulled his wild magic back slowly into himself. Duplais slumped to the floor, covered with burns, but breathing. Harry clenched his fists and breathed in hot little puffs, feeling flame lick his ears harmlessly.
Hermione stood frozen. Harry did, too, staring, because he couldn't think of what would happen next.
But he did know one thing: This changed everything. This was an end.
Hermione was still sobbing against his back. Harry moved one arm slowly to comfort her, relieved beyond words when she didn't pull away. He kept his gaze on Duplais, who parted his lips in what was probably meant to be a moan of agony, although Harry couldn't hear it.
He hadn't meant to. His temper had simply leaped, and his magic with it.
But now, he had to think.
Aurors were pounding on the door. Harry could turn around, walk out of here, and give himself up to them. It was even possible that he might survive a trial, since his name would protect him in a way that wasn't possible for other people who were Muggleborn.
But he could see Lydia Donner's eyes wide open, blinded, still seeking him as she talked about what had happened, because her blindness was so recent, the result of a Dissolving Potion being spread across her eyeballs.
Harry's shoulders tightened, and when he turned to face the door, it was with his wand in his hand.
"Stay behind me," he whispered to Hermione, who was standing so rigidly still, trying to control her tears, that he wasn't sure she heard him.
For her, and me, and Ron. And everyone.
He stepped forwards and cast his first curse.