Ashes of Victory
By: Liz
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me. I am using them for fun, not profit. If you sue me, all you'll get are my many, many college loans.
Rating: R
Pairing: Harry/Draco
Author's Notes: I really can't explain this. I was in a dark mood when I started it, and it's been writing itself ever since. Not everything is always happy, but it should turn fluffy by the end :)
Archiving: Anywhere, just keep my name and disclaimers attached.
Feedback is always appreciated. Flames will be laughed at, forwarded to my friend so she can laugh at them, and then forever ignored.


It was over.

After six years of struggles, two of which arose out of Voldemort's return, it was finally over. The Dark Lord was dead, and the whole of the wizarding world rejoiced.

Harry Potter had been the one to strike the death blow. Flanked by the expected forms of Ron, Hermione, and Snape, and bolstered by the unexpected Draco Malfoy, Harry was finally able to end the life and reign of the being who had been trying to make Harry's life a living Hell for so long.

'So,' Harry mused as he stared out a window, 'why am I not happy?'

The answer to that was incredibly obvious if you knew what was going on. Even though he had saved the lives of countless thousands, he was now hated by most of his friends-'Former friends,' Harry corrected himself with a sigh.

Even though Voldemort was dead, Harry was still bearing the fallout of the battle. To stop Voldemort, Harry had been forced to use the darkest of the Unforgivable curses. And it worked, too...except his actions had been met with disapproval and scorn.

Not from anyone official-as if Harry cared about their opinions, anyway. No, he was lauded as a hero by the Ministry, given praise and accolades, but Harry cared for none of it. What was the approval of people he didn't care about compared to the hatred of those he did care about?

Ron and Hermione were the first to turn. They had witnessed Harry's actions, and couldn't believe that Harry could do such a thing, breaking every code and thought the three had always held dear.

With his best friends turning against him, the rest of the school, who might've dismissed the whole incident as a rumor, turned against him as well. Some-especially those who still held Cedric's death against him-openly, others, but no less painful, quietly. Even the staff was hard pressed to know how to feel. They settled the matter by treating Harry a bit cooler than normal, but otherwise acted as if nothing was wrong.

Only four people appeared to not hate Harry. Dumbledore firmly believed that Harry did what was needed, and that this did not change Harry as a person. Hagrid remained unwavering in his faith in Harry, and was upset with Ron and Hermione, often muttering things along the lines of 'if they could remember what it was like when You-Know-Who was in power the *first* time, they wouldn't be blamin' poor Harry.'

Snape also believed that Harry did the right thing. It made Harry's head spin, sometimes, when he reflected on how quickly that his least-liked professor became his favorite. Potions had become his most bearable class for that reason alone-Gods knew that the presence of Slytherins that had always despised him and Gryffindors who viewed him as a vile betrayer certainly didn't make the class go more smoothly.

Draco kept his own counsel, though. He never did anything to Harry, though he never openly defended Harry originally, either, and he made it clear that he was watching Harry. At first, this behavior unnerved Harry, and he found himself tense, waiting for the other shoe to drop, until four days after classes had resumed again, a week after Voldemort's defeat. Harry had been walking down the corridor, when he heard a voice saying things about him. Harry was fully prepared to ignore the words, and did so, until they were cut off by a pained gasp.

Harry had turned to see his tormentor, a seventh-year Ravenclaw, doubled over and clenching his stomach while Draco rubbed his fist. Eyeing the now pathetic-looking figure, he drawled, "You should be *thanking* the person who saved your Muggle-born ass instead of insulting him."

Harry had tried to thank Draco, but Draco had shook his head and walked away, 'escorting' the Ravenclaw to Dumbledore's office.

It was a week later, and Harry realized that he had had enough.

Enough of the words, the looks, the backbiting. Enough of not feeling welcome in his own House. He hadn't been sleeping in his bed for almost two weeks now, and nobody noticed, or cared, presumably. It was becoming more of an effort than it was worth to stay.

Harry tore his eyes from the window he had been staring out of, and realized he was late for Transfigurations. He was about to rush off out of habit, when he stopped himself. 'What does it matter if I cut class if I'm leaving, anyway?'

With his mind made up, Harry ran off to his dorm room and paused, the first time he'd set foot inside in a week. Shrugging off his hesitation, he entered the room and noticed that his bed curtains were still closed and that his belongings were untouched. 'So...they really didn't care, after all.' Ignoring his hurt, he began to pack a bag.

Harry only took the time to write a note for whenever people *did* decide to look for him. Placing the note on his pillow, he closed his curtains again and picked up his broom. Moving to the door, he paused and turned at the threshold, memories surging over him. Suppressing his tears, Harry murmured, "Goodbye, my friends. You will always be with me." Unable to bear it any longer, he raced out the door and away from the only true home he had ever known.