(a/n): Thanx for the reviews.
Back for the aftermath of Voldemort's defeat and apparent death. I seem to be back on my old schedule before life and sickness got in the way.
Wolfric, I didn't think of tossing the Horcruxes in the black hole. Scientifically, that might also make Voldemort truly immortal, as time all but stops in a black hole (if they survive the trip) It's best they're under Harry's control.
It's been amusing seeing everyone shout for Hermione's death. I'm still undecided there. But everyone loves Dobby and Ron, whose been suffering stuck between his best friend and wife. Nor has he or will he fully recover from Justin's murder attempt.
Time to dish out some justice. I've noticed a few unimaginative chapter names. Here's another, probably the last of that though.
40 - Harry's Return ii
By morning, there was only one conclusion. The entire group, now 28 members instead of 30, gathered back at Moody's designated HQ. It was a sad, shocked group who just stared at each other. "Ron, mate, I don't know what to say." Harry offered, quietly.
"How about an apology for destroying my home!?" growled Draco.
Harry stepped between them "Cut it Malfoy!" he ordered gruffly "I completed the terms precisely in our alliance. I delivered your property back from the Death Eaters. House Potter will support you in the Wizengamot when we all claim damages against Death Eater Houses. You-"
"You, Potter, you used excessive force. I don't know what you and the Mudblood did or how! No! Wait! I do!" The blonde wizard's mind suddenly cleared "And she-"
Susan's wand was out and she fired "Obliviate!" Draco went down in a heap, "No! He does not need to know how this was done. The knowledge of this must fade. Even we should be obliviated eventually."
"That's what I want to know" said Sirius "Exactly what you guys did."
Luna Lovegood had begun taking certain liberties with her contracted fiancé. She leaned on him, reached up and fiddled with the short hairs on the back of his neck "That is need to know , my dear. And the fewer who know, the fewer need to be obliviated."
"She's definitely smarter than you, Sirius!" Harry couldn't help baiting his Godfather. Not a one was bothered by his angry expression. However the starry, subtly disapproving gaze of Luna quickly ended any giggling.
Sirius, with all seeming casualness, took the sixteen year old girl's hand off his neck and wrapped it in his elbow. He was uncomfortable with her willing intimacy, and truth be told, too tempted by far. Nor did he dare insult her by openly denying her "My dear" he said "Perhaps my Godson should keep certain secrets. Earl Potter, what now?"
"Ron" Harry addressed his best friend, sadly "It's been twelve hours. Maybe she'll turn up somewhere else. She knew the risks, but she was the only one who COULD do it."
Ron growled at him "I'm NOT leaving until I KNOW! I can't Harry. She's my wife!"
"Luna." Sirius said "You'll go with them. As proxy of House Black. Ron, we'll keep looking until we've searched every inch of Malfoy property. Or further, until YOU are ready to fall asleep."
Harry briefly split from his friends. There was a way for his chief advisor to accompany him to the Wizengamot meeting. And it would give pause to the Minister of Magic. Word had gone out about the afternoon meeting demanded by Harry, but as the time neared many seats were empty. Over a third, but not quite half. The Potter seat was not. Ginny held it.
"Perhaps Miss Weasley can explain why Earl Potter has chosen to insult this Noble body by failing to show up at the time he, himself chose." The Duke of House Brown demanded.
Draco responded with a sneer "Likely wiping out all of Malfoy property."
"Be silent, Malfoy!" Susan ordered from her place at the Bones seat "You are required to honor the terms of our alliance! Or you will suffer-"
She was cut off from the Chair "Enough! The lot of you!" ordered Dumbledore "This assembly is not a circus!"
"As I understand it" Luna put in, airily "that is far from true given all your behaviors in the Sirius/Lucius duel. But that is neither here nor there. Our leader in l'affair Voldemort affair shall be here momentarily. In the meantime you are requested to view and ponder the picture I have to share. Replicatus!"
What she had just published to the entire Wizengamot was a wizard photo of an absolutely perfectly smooth crater. A bowl more than 100 feet across "We fail to understand the significance of this scene." Commented Dumbledore
"You will as soon as Harry arrives." Answered Ginny, with a malicious look at Draco. Who only spared her a hateful look as he resumed a private whispered conference with Astoria Greengrass. "And I, Lord Minister, would have you take formal notice of the many empty seats here today.
And Harry did not just arrive… he ARRIVED … Remus and Tonks were providing an honor guard, wands at the ready. Neville who, while no longer Harry's proxy, marched a half-step behind and to the right. None of this was especially unusual, except for a pitch-black phoenix with eyes that were soul-piercingly green.
"It is a pleasure, Harry, to see you alive and well." Dumbledore spoke as they paused at the Chair.
Harry bent stiffly at the waist, the precisely required three inches and answered coldly "That, Judge, was for the office. Not the current occupant of the Chair. Do not think yourself forgiven. On to business, though this part… admittedly … is fun." There were four quick flashes of black flame. Remus, then Tonks, vanished with the phoenix. Then in an almost imperceptible instant of time, Harry flashed from the Floor to the Bones Seat. Without any magical gesture from Harry, a silk perch appeared behind Susan's head and the phoenix occupied it. Harry formally kissed Susan's hand and sat beside her.
"Though Ministry approval is generally required for marriages BEFORE the happy event" Minister Dumbledore commented, correctly interpreting Harry's behavior "as Minister of Magic I do endorse this union. Your Graces, Earl Harry and Countess Susan, congratulations."
Susan spoke before Harry had a chance to "Thank you, Lord Minister, on behalf of myself and my husband." There was then a round of applause, begun by Ginny. Draco had to as well as he would soon be indirectly related to Harry through the Weasleys as well as the Blacks. But mainly it was a deadly insult not to acknowledge a couple announcing their marriage. Some four centuries ago, the whole chamber had been depopulated by just such an incident.
"Thank you, Thank you," Harry acknowledged formally "Thank you all. Your well wishes are greatly appreciated. Now, on the occasion of our formal announcement, there are two bits of justice to get out of the way before the main announcement. Remus! Are you ready?"
The ever since utterly loyal werewolf acknowledged "At your orders, My Lord!" He pushed Justin Finch-Fletchley into the room, not at all gently. The expelled Hufflepuff charged Remus. Massive though he was, Justin was caught by the throat and tossed like a child's doll into a stone pillar. Then Remus leaped that same distance and howled in rage. Justin cowered against the pillar.
The Wizengamot reacted with universal loathing. While some certainly approved of Susan's and/or Harry's murder, all were chilled by the notion of a killing of an unborn heir. "Will none of you speak in Mr. Finch-Fletchley's defense!?" The Minister roared over collective hissing and booing.
"You mean like the defense I had, Judge?" sneered Harry, venomously. "DEATH!"
Dumbledore appealed to long-known kindly Susan "Surely as a fellow Hufflepuff, you can see the nobility of forgiveness and compassion. Remus, please rele—"
"In this, Minister" Susan replied in deadly earnest "you will find that my husband has spoken for both our Families. Nor is this simply an act of vengeance. Consider he nearly attacked me an earlier time as well. This is a matter of self-preservation."
Dumbledore, knowing he had a vastly harder fight coming, only glanced at Harry, then to the rotund Head of Hufflepuff "Pomona, surely you as essentially a mother to your students?"
"Justin went far beyond the pale." replied Professor Sprout, sadly "I could never forgive one of my own children killing another. Even though, as a result, I would thus lose two. I would, in fact, myself deliver the death blow."
Dumbledore had one last plan that should have saved Justin's life, but Harry by accident or design, beat him to it "I'll kill him myself" declared the be-spectacled wizard "Go ahead Remus, let him up."
"Are you sure, Harry?" asked Lupin.
It happened just as he nodded. First a black tear leaked from his left eye, then a black something from his nose. Finally a stream from his mouth. All of which eventually molded itself together into one form that dwarfed Harry. Justin ran to Remus for protection. But long before he got there, a pair of oversized hands seized him by the shoulders. He first screamed then began whimpering for mercy, finally lapsing into a faint. And, at the last, silvery trickles seeped from all over Justin's body and gathered themselves into a small brightly glowing ball. The black shape swallowed it whole, which was then sucked back into Harry. Then the horrid thing was over. Justin stood there, normal in gross, but not in detail. Eyes and cheeks sunken in, life literally sucked out of the body.
"One down one to go." Harry exulted, then glared at Dumbledore "See what you did to me! Do you SEE!"
There was shocked silence in the Hall. Few had witnessed a Dementor in action. Something clicked for Susan, however. The spirit 'Lily from the Future' spoke of working with Dementors. She did not know if she could still prevent that awful, desolated future. Maybe she was horribly egotistical to believe that just her staying with Harry was enough to head it off. She knew beyond all doubt that he must NOT kill again that way.
Returning to the Bones seat and all but drooling, he grinned "That was utterly delicious!"
"Harry" she said hesitantly "if I ask you to …err …not do something…and ask you to give me your word. You won't? Right?" And at his nod she diffidently, pleadingly, said "Please, don't ever, no matter what… even if it's to save me or Ron or Ginny or Luna or even ALL OF US… Please don't do that again. PLeeezzzz!"
Feeling a highly feral feeling, he demanded "Not even Snivelus?"
"No, especially not even Snivelus." She answered firmly. At first she felt satisfied as he gave a nod of agreement, but decided "Sorry Harry, let me hear you say it."
"Do you want an Unbreakable?" he glared at her angrily.
She shook her head, and soothingly answered "No Harry. Your promise will always be enough for me. But this is important. More important than I can explain. Please!"
"So be it." He said, quite reluctantly "I promise." He immediately regretted the pledge as Severus Snape and his two flunkies who attacked first the Potter then the Bones estates were brought in.
The cages were quintessentially Bonesian in design. First were legs that were crab-walking entire rib cages full of the various fully preserved and easily identifiable bodies. They were followed by collections of body parts, together with others from the same person where possible. If not they were dumped together unconcernedly. Finally came living prisoners, whose severe wounds were treated to the point of survivability, however no effort had gone into providing actual comfort. The first had lost her leg at the knee, but without a real attempt at cleaning in the last several weeks she had (as muggles called it) a post-op infection.
Another, a man, had a Bones rib-bone right through his wrist that had not been removed. Painful? Not exactly. Especially after several weeks. But decidedly uncomfortable. Severus Snape was last brought in. There was a hat, of sorts. It was actually the skull of Amelia Bones, clamped in place by skeletal fingers that dug into flesh. His habitual all-black robes were in tatters and his hair and beard a scraggily mess. But for all that, he had plenty of energy to radiate pure, unalloyed hate.
"I hate you worse, Snivelus." Snarled Harry "And for a lot more reason." Not even thinking, he reached in, grabbed a fistful of hair, and punched the erstwhile Potions Master in the face.
Dumbledore radiated fury, but he was bound by Wizengamot rules "Lord Potter!" his voice rebounded all over the Hall "Mistreatment of anyone in this Chamber is unacceptable! Your Family is fined One Hundred Galleons!"
"Really?" Harry smiled. It was a nasty one. He reached between the leg bones making up the cage and repeated the act until his knuckles were sore. He winced and added "That's a thousand. Deduct it from what this scum and his minions owe both our Families."
Turning to Susan he demanded "And what does House Bones think of this outrage?"
"The Minister has a right to outrage, my husband." She replied, to Harry's sudden shock. Then she smirked "You counted wrong. I believe it was twelve, not ten."
Harry bowed to her, very solemnly, and replied "Of course, My Lady." There were, for various reasons, laughs all around the Wizengamot members.
"Yes?" asked Susan of the black Phoenix who had squawked. She then addressed Augusta Longbottom "House Bones wishes to make a motion, Madame Speaker."
There were gasps of surprise. Few indeed were the reasons for sidestepping the Minister of Magic for that. As Speaker, Neville's Grandmother had the authority and declared "House Bones has the floor."
"Thank you, Madame Speaker." Susan's red head nodded respectfully "I request that the Minister of Magic, due to personal bias, be suspended for the duration of this session."
Shock swept the Hall. Then a mix of cheers and catcalls. This for a mix of reasons that had little to do with the undeclared war in Britain. Members might be on Harry's side, but object to any challenge to the Minister of Magic. A Death Eater might simply shout down anything pro-Harry. There were plenty of neutrals whose opinions were entirely self-motivated. Augusta's wand burst in three bright lights and loud booms "ORDER! ORDER! Countess Bones, that is a most inflammatory claim. Do up have anything to support it?"
"Speaker, if I may?" Dumbledore began formally "The young Countess is-" And from his Chair, he fixed Susan with a twinkling gaze.
Gone, as with many in her class, was the little Susan who stepped up on September 1, 1991 to be sorted. When you add Harry's influence, Susan Bones Potter cocked an eyebrow (in imitation of her Auntie) back in response that offered an open challenge.
"In the interest of Parliamentary procedure" said Dumbledore "I will yield this session to you, Madam Speaker. If, in exchange, I might serve as consul for the accused."
It was frustrating to Harry. In fact, this latest move drove him bonkers! There was nothing more to be gained. "How many of you, or your kids, have bean insulted? Graded unfairly? Gotten stupid detentions by this greasy-haired git!? Well I'll tell you why! Dumbledore was Grindelwald's lover! And Snivelus here is his Grandson!"
"What!? *gasp*" And there were a dozen other flavors of surprise. Even Ginny hadn't been told. Madam Bones had accidentally discovered a secret that had been kept for fifty years the last time Snape had been imprisoned. Nor had the prisoner himself been told. That was evident in his reaction.
Dumbledore went to the cage. Amelia's head nearly bit his hand off and a blue field glowed around it, denying any access. Chastened, the old man knelt down and spoke softly "It is true. But you are a good man, Severus. And in the absence of your Grandfather, I have done what I could to steer you straight. You have just made some errors in judgment."
"Errors in judgment? Errors in judgment!?" Harry protested "I want him DEAD NOW!"
Dumbledore was desperate "Be reasonable Harry."
"Ok. I'll be ok with a quick death." Harry said coolly after a warning from Augusta.
Dumbledore changed tactics again. He stood straight and tall "That simply is not an option, Harry. And Severus, though admittedly I find this rather despicable, has informed me that he retains possession of Lily's painting. He offers it in exchange for pardon."
Harry was caught by a yellow glow before both feet even left the ground. He probably would have slain Snape in an instant had he made it. The phoenix he brought was responsible. It squawked and chirped at both Susan and Harry for over a minute. The couple whispered back and forth under a privacy spell. "Ginny" he said, even while gnashing his teeth "House Potter is going to agree to this."
"No Harry! You can't!" exclaimed Ginny. She held an interesting position at the moment. It was entirely legal for her refuse anything that she genuinely considered against House Potter's interests. And she could continue to refuse as long as the Wizengamot was in this particular session. She glared at him and he glared back. She could tell he was doing something he hated, yet there was something she read in him that he WOULD do it, regardless. Ginny's face went utterly still as she stood and left the Potter seat. She joined Arthur and Molly, then said tonelessly "Do as you will."
Nor was Susan showing any happier expression. Her arms were folded and she sat, not looking at Harry.
"House Potter" said Harry "Upon and only after return, intact and unchanged by ANY magic of the portrait of Lily Evans Potter, and following the inspection of said portrait for ANY inimical devices or spells, Muggle or Magical, WILL grant Severus Snape full and complete pardon for all crimes and offenses against said House and its Head. Specifically one Harry James Potter. I so pledge on my life and magic. So mote it be."
Snape sneered a victorious smile. Dumbledore was still critical however "Such a detailed, conditional oath. Are you not even a little trusting?"
"Give me one reason I should, Judge!" demanded Harry.
Dumbledore, after receiving detailed instructions, vanished. He returned in minutes with the stolen portrait "I have confirmed there are no spells and Lily is entirely intact.
"You don't mind if I have that verified?" it was the first words Harry spoke the entire time. And the last he said while Sirius, with all his knowledge, inspected the painting. Then a team of five Goblins. Kreacher examined it with Elf Magic, though Harry would have preferred Dobby. Mad-Eye Moody had a hand in checking. The whole process took over two hours, during which time Wizengamot members came and went at their whim. Harry only and stonily glared at Snape without a word to anyone. When it was finally done, he offered a soft "Thank you" to all who investigated the portrait.
Speaking for his God-Grandson, Dumbledore said "It has been returned, Harry. Now you have a commitment to keep. You will, of course, free Professor Snape."
"He has not asked." Harry said coldly "In fact, he must beg. And apologize."
Snape sneered "I'd rather die."
"You will. Slowly. Painfully." Replied Harry.
Dumbledore sighed "Severus. I do believe Harry means it. I would suggest-"
"I, Severus Tobias Snape, crave pardon" every word was like poison to the Potion Master "for my sins against the person and property of Harry James Potter."
Smirking at the prisoner Harry declared "That felt gooooood!"
"You agreed, Harry." Dumbledore said with more than a hint of impatience.
Susan interrupted right then, declaring "But I did not. Nor did Earl Potter have any authority to offer pardons on behalf of House Bones. The criminal, Snape, is not in Potter custody, but Bones. Snape led an assault on my home. He is part of a group that murdered my Head of House and the Head of Magical Law Enforcement. And finally, from day one of my Hogwarts career, used his authority to mistreat me. We will, for the moment, disregard your negligence in allowing it to happen."
"If you will accept my apologies, Countess Bones." Dumbledore offered "We c-"
She cut him off "And what of Snivelus?"
"Br—" began Snape. But Dumbledore cut him off with a gesture. Feeling almost as humiliated as when he apologized to Harry, he resumed "Would you please grant me pardon and mercy, Your Ladyship?"
Susan's answer came instantly "No. Auntie taught me, after a certain point, forgiveness becomes stupity. Amelia, proceed."
"Nnnnnn." Came from Snape's cage. A grunt of pain. The six bars of leg bones simultaneously shrunk the height of the cage and, by doing so, pressed in on the prisoner. A knee in the jaw, for instance, skeletal toes digging into his chest. In short there was nowhere Snape could bend or move for rest or comfort.
Dumbledore didn't bother with the 'children' he simply pulled his wand and fired a silent spell. But it definitely did not have anything like an effect he wanted. What happened at a vastly slowed speed was: Amelia's skull instantly turned to face him. Her mouth opened and the spell entered. Half of the spell was reflected back at the sender who screamed and threw away his wand. This gesture was of limited effect as, after disintegrating the wand, the half-powered spell split again and the pair burned flesh half-way up Dumbledore's arm. None present even so much as breathed as they watched him scream. The other half of the spell was filtered away from the Bones cage and against Snape. His hair, from head to toe, ignited and his insides; blood, then organs boiled and cooked. The gory deathblow, however, was from the hands holding Amelia's skull attached to Snape's head. The boney fingers forced themselves into Snape's head and crushed, tore and ripped at the soft brain tissue.
"Oh Merlin! Harry!" Susan choked on bile and buried her face in Harry's chest. The rest was muffled in his robes, but it amounted to "I can't believe I did that!"
Harry felt her body heave and twist in his arms, so much so in fact that he could barely hold her. Then his chest was wet. He knew why, but forced the knowledge away and clamped his eyes shut to block out the sight "I'm just as responsible, hun." He said "And as Amelia would've said, it had to be done. And I bet she would've done it without your order." After a time, they became aware of their surroundings again.
"This session is over." Augusta Longbottom ordered. There were situations that allowed the Speaker to do so without a vote.
Dumbledore's arms, past the elbows, were encased in soft blue-pinkish lights. And he was shivering uncontrollably. Ministry Healers were doing everything they could to treat him. No one would come within ten feet of where Severus Snape died.
Susan awoke with a jerk. Her eyes snapped open as she felt an arm around her waist. Feeble morning light came through narrowly open curtains, not enough for a wide awake person. But she saw quite sufficiently to note that it was Harry's and eased herself around.
"Good morning." Harry greeted his wife with lazily opened eyes, but a concerned tone "Feeling better?" He rolled onto his back, pulling her along.
She suddenly stuffed a fist into her mouth and gasped, barely intelligibly "I was." And rushed for the loo.
"Aw Sue." He quickly followed her, where he found her heaving without producing results "Come on. I've been here and it's useless."
Eyes all bloodshot and lip quivering, she obeyed and sobbed "I never knew what Auntie had to go through sometimes. How do you put up with me?"
"I need a hot water, please." Harry spoke to the air. A House Elf instantly delivered on the order "It's my job. Now sip this, you'll feel better. Amelia had years and years to get used to things like that. I hope we never have to do that again, but they deserved what they got. Better?" At her nod, he picked her up and carried her back to the bed.
Susan then noted her sleepwear. It was luxurious, silky and definitely not what she was wearing under her dress robes. She blushed vividly "Honestly Harry!" she exclaimed "Changing me like a baby!"
"Yep. Powdered your bottom even." He teased "But seriously, I wasn't going to leave you in those dirty robes." He carefully settled in the bed beside her.
Her color was slowly returning to normal "Well, hardly the first time you've seen me naked." She acknowledged "But still. It's a little weird. Where are we anyway? Looks like Ministry quarters, but I don't know the room."
"The Potter room." Harry identified it "Not as good a view as the Bones one, but that's too many floors to carry you. No offense." Susan laughed and pinched his right bicep, but they were interrupted by a chime. Very authoritatively, he ordered "I'll get it. But you sleep. If I go out, Sally will watch over you."
By a combination of magic, and it actually being a very large place, the Ministry of Magic building in London was equipped with rooms for every member of the Wizengamot. There was a complicated formula of room size and proximity to the Wizengamot Chamber that was based on Family wealth, prestige and longevity that determined what Family occupied which room. Regardless, they were all richly decorated.
It was a large group that awaited the opening of the door. Largely adorned with the Potter Crest, it was. Many of the Weasleys, the Lupins, Sirius and his Black-to-be, Neville (who would not deign to look at that couple)
"Ginny" who was in the front "you know you don't have to knock on any Potter door."
Ginny curtsied in the manner of a woman to her Head of House "Doors, My Lord, are closed for a reason." She answered "And I believe I owe you an apology for my behavior in the Wizengamot."
"Rude of me." Harry realized "All of you, come in. Please. And Gin I think I owe you one. There wasn't time to let you in on it right then. And I think you did exactly what we could have planned, if we could."
Molly looked quite put out "However, was that horrible scene really necessary?"
"Yes it was." She was the first true Mum he'd ever known "Molly, everyone needed to learn it is VERY costly to attack me, or Sue, or any of our friends and allies." Several squawks and chirps come from the black phoenix and Harry continued "No one said anything about Malfoy Castle? Did they?"
Sirius, partially distracted by Luna, answered "No Harry. That's your announcement. But it has to be this morning. Where's Susan?"
"NOT sleeping." Out of the bedroom came she came "If we don't show up together, it will be viewed as a sign of weakness by that bunch of fwoopers in the Wizengamot."
Harry gave a concerned look "You sure?"
"Yeah, I think so." She answered "Nothing in my stomach anyway. Don't think I'll eat again until after today's session."
Dumbledore was too ill to attend. The Vice Minister of Magic, Pius Thicknesse, was in The Chair and was already speaking when the group arrived "… -ning's meeting of the High Council has decided to impose sanctions on Houses Potter and Bones for the outrageous display, yesterday. Both are ordered to make charitable contributions in an amount to be determined later. House Dumbledore will administer the funds."
"And why was House Black excluded from this meeting?" demanded Sirius "Such an effrontery is a direct insult to the place my Family has always held in Wizard society!"
Thicknesse gaveled for silence, but did not get it until Sirius finished talking "House Black was issued a notice." She argued "Your failure to attend is not Ministry responsibility. There was a legally constituted quorum of the High Council, therefore your presence was not required to hold a vote.
"We can, and will, address this abuse of power later." Susan cut of the argument, it could not be called a debate "For right now, have any of you bothered looking at the picture that was distributed earlier?" Her tone indicated what she thought of the likelihood.
Harry squeezed her hand, then spoke above any protests, even that of the Vice Minister "Time to wake up! I, in concert with several friends and allies, have ended the War Against Voldemort! OH! STOP IT! He's dead. Listen to what I'm saying! VOLDEMORT IS DEAD!"
There was, for one of the few times in Wizengamot history, a pin-drop silence.
"I wish to honor three people in this triumph." Harry said quietly "Dobby, a House Elf who showed more heroism than most humans ever have. Hermione Granger-Weasley, who was primarily responsible for the method. Which did not in any way reveal Magic to the Muggle World, nor harm the Magical World to any great extent. Both were lost in our attack. And last, but not least, Draco Malfoy, without whose ability to lead us through the wards protecting his estate, in addition to his willingness to sacrifice his family home (for the greater good) we could not have succeeded. Draco, come forward, please."
The blonde, now recognized, ruler of House Malfoy hesitated. There was smoldering rage in his eyes. Astoria Greengrass, his official fiancé, pulled his ear to her mouth and whispered rapidly. What stunned him was his schoolhood nemesis greeting him with a deep bow.
"Without your sacrifice, Lord Malfoy" Harry repeated "this war would have gone on endlessly. I thank you, sire."
The bowed head, Draco thought, would have been so easy to curse it to pieces. But, and it pained him to admit it, Astoria was right. Potter was offering him an equal status as hero. Something by no means to be despised. "No more than your part, Lord Potter." He touched Harry's shoulder and smiled "We did it together."
"Indeed, Draco." He returned the smile, noting that while Draco's lips smiled his eyes did not. He gripped the proffered hand and allowed his hand to be raised in triumph.
"You were never this smart, Potter." commented Draco, even still with that smile "You made it impossible for me to make you pay for what you did to me. And, yes, despite how you betrayed me, I will still honor the rest of our agreement."
Harry's smile did not change as he replied "I honored my part… right to the letter."
There was an oddly disjointed reaction among The Wizengamot and spectators. Ron, for instance, could not bring himself to applaud his best friend shaking his worst enemy's hand. He mostly wanted to get back to looking for Hermione, even if he'd already personally covered all of the Malfoy estate. Still unknown Death Eaters grimaced as they reluctantly clapped. There was also both loud cheering and stony silence in places.