All right, so this story was written on a whim, it isn't excessively long nor is it too short.
Cause and effect people- I get good reviews = my feeling the urge to write more
Blatant bribery? Yup.
Thank you to all those who reviewed Arbutus!
this is a tragedy expect tears
this story involves major character deaths
religious beliefs belong to the characters
my spelling is not perfect please deal with it
Harry worked his reports with confident deliberation his writing tidy and slanted the ink slightly thicker in his lettering than the delicate barely-there curls and lines that the other pompous politicians preferred. His desk was neat, clean and organized a far cry from what one might expect it to be considering how much paperwork crossed its surface on a daily basis. The satisfied scratch of his quill, the tick of his clock and the slight rustle of papers come from the far wall where several trays were lined up catching paper airplanes which folded and smoothed out as they slipped through the small slot in the wall. The office was quiet this many years into his position as head Auror, oh he knew it wouldn't stay that way, he wasn't fool enough to pretend that newer darker shadows weren't hiding on the horizon. As had become his habit the moment war crossed his mind his eyes glanced towards the side of his desk where a single picture frame sat the entirety of his family as they had been five years ago.
Before Ron had sacrificed his life for Harry on a mission, before George had lost the last of the twinkle in his eyes and forgot what it meant to laugh. Before Fleur and Molly had had their final fallout at the funeral and Fleur had taken her children and fled back to France, before Hermione had forgotten how to smile. Yes things had certainly changed, but they were still the reason he fought. Through the heart ache and the hurt, through the loss and tears- they were all he had in this world, they were his pain, and they were his laughter and joy. Family was everything.
Which was why he hated himself at the moment.
As if on cue there were shouts outside his office and Harry set aside his quill and paperwork just as the door to his office crashed open destroying the silence he'd been enjoying. Panting and pale faced Draco Malfoy stared at him as though he was a completely different person from the man he'd become friends with over the years. Harry nearly broke as he stared at the person that he'd healed with when Ron was gone, the person that had helped him come to grips with his sexuality, the person that had healed what Ginny had broken in her wrath. How many long drunken nights had they shared together? Draco's face became stony and set as though understanding his thoughts completely before his hand gripped the door and slammed it shut.
"Explain." He said as he strode across the small office and sat stiffly in the chair across from him. "Explain to me why my father was arrested this morning." He said coldly his gaze level even as Harry's eyes fell shut.
"I hate that I'm the one to tell you." Harry said his voice raw. "But it can't be anyone else." He admitted shaking his head slowly before reaching into his desk and pulling out a file. "The information is classified for now Draco, what I tell you can't be spoken of outside of this office do you understand?" Draco was ashen now his anger failing him at the seriousness of the situation.
"He's done nothing wrong…he swore to me that he wouldn't! He's been clean; he quit politics- Harry you promised!" He hissed. A surge of anger sparked in Harry before he could help it.
"Yeah well maybe I shouldn't have!" He snapped. "I knew it would happen again, people like your father rarely truly quit playing their games no matter how hard they try!" He bit back a hiss as he struggled to control his temper. With a sigh he set the file on the desk and sent a quick locking charm at the door. "Read." He said his voice strangled. Draco was furious his expression locked and tight as he reached over and flipped the cover open, a flicker of something light fright haunting his eyes as they caught sight of the photos. His skin became gray as he read on and his tense shoulders sagged.
"Another Dark Lord?" He said weakly.
"You didn't notice?" Harry said tiredly. "People disappearing without rhyme or reason? Massive terror attacks against Muggles? Come on Dray I know you suspected something." Harry said with a glare.
"There's always another Dark Lord Harry! Maybe not the one we fought but there's always someone that's trying to cause havoc! But for the past ten years we've all been safe because you are head Auror! Of course I ignored the rumors! My father hasn't joined any of the other idiot Lords he learned that lesson the hard way remember?!" Draco said through grit eyes. Harry could see the hurt there, the torn look in his eyes.
"Either I'm lying or your father is Draco, choose." Harry said grimly. "The facts are there and I tried every possible avenue to ignore them or hide them but it can't be put off any longer." Harry said firmly. He had, for Draco's sake, for Narcissa's sake he'd used every bit of considerable power to keep Lord Malfoy's involvement hidden from the public eye.
"But why?!" Draco said jumping to his feet. "V-Voldemort nearly destroyed our family! Generations of work that put us where we are now, centuries of dreams were nearly destroyed because of our involvement with the Dark Lord! There have been six different Dark Lords that have risen and fallen since then, so why now? Why this one?!" He said shaking his head frantically his gaze lost. "You've defeated all the others, fuck you're moniker has changed to Head Auror Harry Potter Destroyer of Dark Lords! Surely he knows that you'll destroy this one too! Surely-!" Draco's voice cut off and a sickening feeling filled the pit of his stomach as he watched Draco's world crumble around him. "He thinks that you won't be able to defeat this one." He said falling back into his seat. Harry grit his teeth.
"We aren't dealing with petty lords with too much pride and too many daddy problems this time Draco. This one…" Harry shook his head slowly. "We're dealing with something terrible Draco, I can feel it in my gut. This guy isn't your average dark lord I've never dealt with anything like him, even Voldemort." He admitted with a wince. Draco gave an involuntary shiver.
"Hart, you're scaring me." Draco said suddenly sounding small like a child rather than the proud Malfoy heir he'd grown up to be. Harry glanced back at the photo on his desk and felt the darkness creep into his mind again.
"You have reason to be frightened Dray." He said nearly choking on the words as they escaped him. Draco was silent for a long time simply staring at Harry with a look of complete and utter loss.
"I can't let you destroy father." Draco said eventually his expression torn.
"I don't have a choice." Harry said brokenly.
"I'll send him to France, I'll bind him with an oath Harry-"
"I CAN'T!" Harry roared brokenly. "Draco this monster is stronger than anything I've ever faced and your father is a direct link to him! There's no way I'd be able to interrogate him the normal way he's been immune to Veritaserum since the first war when Snape made the mistake of teaching him how to make it! The Unspeakables have given me permission to use-"
"I'll give you Severus."
"-any means-" Harry's voice cut off sharply his eyes wide his mouth gaping.
"W-" He couldn't even speak his words choked up at the very sound of the name. Draco's eyes fell shut
"He isn't dead Harry." He said gripping the armrests of his seat. Harry felt his heart thud to a halt in his chest tears which he'd thought had dried up long ago gathering in his eyes.
"Don't be cruel Dray." He whispered. Only Draco knew the depth of Harry's loss over the man who had died to save their lives so many years ago.
"He's alive." Draco all but whispered.
"Stop it." Harry begged. Grey eyes opened slowly.
"Father retrieved him from the shrieking shack, saved his life-"
"STOP!" Harry cried out his entire being seizing up but Draco's gaze was hard and cold as it stared at him for the first time lips pressed into a thin line. Silence rang loudly after his cry and Harry shook as tears poured from his eyes. Draco….Draco wasn't lying.
"I'll give him to you if you give father to me." Draco said with a note of finality in his voice that cracked something inside of Harry.
"You-" His voice cut off as the betrayal rang true inside him. "You stood with me at his funeral, you met me at his grave every year, you-you held me when I cried you knew exactly how much his death destroyed me!" He sobbed. "Every year, every fucking year I struggled to keep my mind in tact, to keep from giving up on everything-"
"You married Ginny Weasley for fucks sake Harry!" Draco said brokenly. "I thought you would move on, I thought you would get over him but you didn't, you never did! For three fucking years I thought you had gotten over him but instead he only broke you more!"
"I couldn't love her the way she wanted me to-"
"I know! I know Harry!" Draco said tears dripping down his face. "Snape deserved his peace, he's not- he's not the same as the man you knew, and I truly thought at first that you were the last person I should ever tell. I thought about telling you, I knew that it wouldn't work with Weasley, I knew that you were chasing a dream but I still hoped for your sake that you would move on! I convinced myself it was none of my business, but then in the end…in the end…"
"In the end you didn't tell me because you wanted me for you." Harry finished quietly. "And even when you understood that I would never play second fiddle to your precious pure blood wife, even when you understood that I would never be yours you didn't tell me." He said feeling hallow.
"You would have gone to him the moment I told you he existed." Draco said painfully. "Nothing could have kept you away from him, not even me and you would be lost to me forever even if he never gave you the time of day." Draco said shaking his head. "It would break you, to see him after so long and know he's within arms reach but to also know that he loved your mother, loved a woman." Draco whispered.
"You don't know for sure!" Harry said desperately. "You said you had your doubts, you said he might have loved Lucius-"
"I was trying to comfort you!" Draco said standing from his seat. "For fucks sake Harry he fought a war for her!" Draco growled. Harry felt as though the air had been sucked clean from his lungs. "I was trying to protect you, I was trying to protect him Harry he's finally happy! He's at peace with himself!" Draco said shaking his head. Harry felt his body shaking where he sat felt panic rise and swell, felt the need to see the man, a flash of pale skin, dark furious eyes, that one glimpse of passion-
"Where is he?" He said weakly.
"Give me my father." Draco said firmly. Harry hesitated.
"Draco this Dark Lord is no joke, he's brilliant, and your father's mind could hold information that could save the lives of thousands." Harry said softly. Draco's eyes were hard.
"Give him to me." He said his resolution firm.
"Draco look at the pictures! If I let your father go there could be a hundred more like them!" He said frantically.
"Or there won't be and my father won't know anything of importance and you would have driven him to madness for nothing." Draco said his voice clipped. "Come on Potter you know as well as I do that you won't get this information out of me otherwise, interrogate my father and I will carry Uncle Sev's location to the grave with me." Draco threatened coldly. Harry's eyes pulled away from Draco's resolute gaze, his heart pounded in his chest and threatened to choke him as he stared at the file, stared at the neat stack of pictures. His gaze by habit flickered to the photograph on the corner of his desk.
His heart sank to the very pit of his gut.
"No." He choked his voice twisted with determination and desolation. "Even for him…no. I'm sorry Draco, but I can't do it." He said shaking his head as his breathing slowly returned to normal now that his resolution was made. Draco looked stunned.
"But its Snape Harry! The one you had so much to say to but never got the chance? The one that you and Ginny divorced over? You've taken lovers that look like him Harry! You can't get him out of your mind! You dream about him for Merlins sake! I know where he is! I can tell you!" Harry felt his heart burn but his eyes remained dry and his resolve was firm.
"No." He repeated solidly.
"Why?" Draco breathed. "This is the one thing that could tempt you I would know! You would sell your soul to know where Snape was right now but you won't- why?!" He cried out slamming his fists on Harry's desk.
"Because." Harry said his heart squeezing. "Because he wouldn't want me to." He breathed tears coming to his eyes. "When I decided to be an Auror, I wanted nothing more than to be like the father I've never known but I was an idiot and Snape's memory taught me that. He was the one man that never compromised, even if it meant his own life. Snape…Snape made me want to be the kind of man that he could respect, not even Dumbledore could do that to me." He lifted the photograph and handed it to Draco. "Take a look Dray, look at my family, they are all I've ever wanted but I would have never known it if I had died during the war. I would have died an orphan a forgotten martyr. Instead I'm here, alive, a name that will go down in history and Snape gave up his life for that man, and I would be spitting on his sacrifice if I gave that up now." Harry said shaking his head. "Because of him I have loved and lost, laughed and cried, I've grown up and become a leader and saved the world- because of him. I can not turn my back on the worlds darkest hour for my own selfish wishes," His breath caught in his throat. "-even if it shatters me." He added feeling slight fear for what was to come. Draco was silent for a very long time. He simply sat across from him staring at him with eyes that he couldn't hope to read. Then, without a word Draco stood and strode out of his office leaving Harry feeling hallow and on the edge of madness, but he did not fall, he could not fall even now.