Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, nor do I make a profit from this.


March 31, Hogwarts

After dinner that night, Draco retired to his room for some last minute studying. Minerva had been putting up with his erratic behavior all day—putting things in the wrong place, leaving dangerous things out in the open, wool gathering so intense she could barely shake him out of it. Hours of cramming later, he didn't even hear her slip into his quarters.

"Draco!" Minerva shouted. The man in question looked up from his panic-ridden pacing to meet her warm grey eyes. "Draco, calm yourself. You have all of the knowledge for the N.E.W.T.s and all of the intelligence to use it. The only thing you don't have right now is some sense." She pushed his chest lightly, forcing the back of his knees into the comfortable chair in the corner of his private sitting rooms.

"Now sit down, take a few deep breaths, and relax. Otherwise I'm going to force a Calming Draught down your throat, and with Severus gone there's no telling how old those things are."

The three months leading up to his final exams flew by. The castle was looking better day by day. It was a subtle change. Sometimes all they did was put things from one pile into another. Those days Draco felt—and rather thought Minerva agreed with him—that they would never finish this stupid project.

But Draco had been thinking lately, drawing from his time with the muggle construction company and a seedling of an idea had burrowed into his brain. He had been waiting for a good time to slip it into conversation with Minerva, and now seemed as good a time as any. At least his worried mind would be off of the exams for a few precious minutes.

"Hey, Minerva" He began, testing her receptiveness.

She responded from the chair next to him, "Wotcher, Draco."

He had to smile at that. She was forever surprising him. Keeping her stern personality just long enough so that she could surprise him by slipping out something so completely opposite to that persona. She loved it, and from her mischievous smiles, he could assume she knew that he loved it too.

"I've had an idea."

"An idea? Are you going to share it with me?"

"If you had given me a second to breathe, woman, I would have gone on." He replied with exasperation, but keeping the smile to show he wasn't too serious.

In response she made a sweeping gesture with her hand, a bit sarcastically. "Well, by all means, child."

"Well, as we both know, Hogwarts cannot be rebuilt with magic while the wards are down because of the nature of the wards. Everything would crumble again once the wards were re-applied."

"Yes, go on." She smiled encouragingly.

"Okay here I go." He bit his lip, and leaned forward onto his knees. Minerva unconsciously mirrored the motion, and now they were nose to nose. "What if we hire a muggle construction team? We tell them the castle is a ruin and you are the new owner, and you want to fix it up and make it a tourist destination. They have infinitely more knowledge on how to re-build without magic, and can't use it even on accident. It's perfect." He could see her thinking the idea through, coming at it from all angles her broad Gryffindor mind could come up with. At this thought, Draco's more Slytherin tendencies made their way to the forefront. "And just in case anything goes wrong, we can obliviate them afterwards if we need to. Though, I'd rather not obliviate anyone. But that could just be a very last resort. An ace in our sleeve, if you will."

The Headmistress still hadn't said anything. She looked at him quizzically, the light from his fireplace making shadows dance across her wrinkles.

"Well what do you think?"

She opened her mouth to speak, and Draco had never paid so much attention to what someone else might say.

"I rather think it's a brilliant idea."

He blinked owlishly. "Really?"

"Oh do close your mouth, dear. I am perfectly capable of recognizing an ingenious idea when I hear one. I just wish you had thought of it before. Tomorrow while you are sitting your exams—" Draco cringed, having just remembered that small detail— "I will make all the arrangements. Do give me the name of that company you worked with, I'll be sure to use them as our first choice." Her young companion smiled broadly.

"Oh, and Draco…"

"Yes, Minerva?"

The older woman seemed hesitant to continue, but decided to go on anyway, "While we are having a serious chat, I should warn you that the Ministry has taken notice of your presence here. I have assured them that you are under mine and the school's protection, but they will not let it go. I'm sorry to say that next week they will be holding your trial The very day after your exams, actually. I did get them to make a smaller production of it: no media, no audience—just you, me, and Minister Shacklebolt's inner circle."

Draco could feel his face losing color, and it didn't have much color to begin with. "My trial?"

"Yes, child, surely you didn't forget about that measly little detail did you?" Her voice carried a hint of mock scolding, but he knew better than to take her seriously.

"I've quite put it out of my mind, to be honest."

"I was going to wait to tell you, what with the worrying and the panicking over your N.E.W.T.s, but this seemed a good time to slip it in. I don't want you to be wholly unprepared mentally."

"Oh yes, yes, I understand," said a voice that seemed to be coming from him.

She stood up, a bit awkwardly, and began towards the door. "Well I suppose I should let you get some rest, then. We have a long day tomorrow, the both of us." She stole a side-long look at his face and rolled her eyes playfully. "Seriously, Draco, I feel like I am talking to Miss. Granger."

The revulsion at this thought snapped him back to himself. "Minerva! There's no need to be insulting."

She just smiled her maternal smile, eyes twinkling a bit, and went to turn the knob of the door.

But before she could, Draco burst out, "Wait!"

"Yes, dear?"

Then in a small voice, he confessed, "I think I might want that Calming Draught if you don't mind."

And with a flick of her wand, a small vial came tearing towards him. She gave one last shake of her head and slipped out the door.