Sacrifice
Chapter 1
Promises Kept


Disclaimer - These characters, settings, etc. are not mine, and belong to JKR and all other holders of copyrights.

-We are not what we were, nor do we wish to be. What we wanted we will not have. The way we have loved we will not love again. We love now for what we are.-
Candide

Oliver Wood was nervous.

He sat in a tube car, in the middle of downtown London surrounded by Muggles. Wood was nervous because he knew he was being followed, and had been for several days. It was all he could do not to whip out his wand and curse all of the despicable Muggles sitting there, watching him dart his eyes around, safe in their own little secure world. It wasn't as if their world had collapsed around them, oh no, their world was secure, thanks to bloody Potter. Once again, Potter, whom Oliver Wood had trusted, saved the day. And now, Oliver Wood was being hunted.

The train's brakes ground together angrily as it slowed, causing Oliver to wince. No one else in the car batted an eyelid, they obviously heard it everyday, and Oliver snorted at the thought. Why the Muggles never could make anything noiseless has always escaped me, he thought as the car stopped, giving everyone packed together inside a small bump as the doors decompressed themselves, letting out a hiss of air and letting in the cacophony of noise that accompanies any busy tube station.

Oliver let the Muggles leave first, and he watched the procession of professionals, parents, children, teenagers and all possible walks of life mix together at the door, pushing each other to get out and on. Finally he stood, brushing off his jumper and jeans, and walked to the door. He stepped from the car onto the platform, the heel of his boot digging into the mind the gap' sign as he crossed swiftly over it. His eyes took in all of the surrounding station: curved walls, plastic benches, loiterers, prostitutes, advertisements and political slogans. But most of all he was watching for someone. Or more specifically, something.

After three long years of working side-by-side with Potter, Oliver had learned that the only thing often left undisguised was his scar. It could be concealed only by make-up, with any sort of magic giving the possibility of being unmasked. Oliver knew that Potter would not have time to use makeup to hide his scar while he was hunting him. So the scar would be there. And Oliver was watching, searching. Because if he found Harry first, then he could take the first shot. If not, then he was as good as dead.

Oliver joined the tide of humanity that crisscrossed the cold cement floor, walking up the stairs, trying to watch all of the people go by him, to see if any of them had a scar. His breath was controlled, but his palms sweat fiercely and he almost tripped over the last step. A man wearing a black coat grabbed him as he stumbled, his arms flailing to catch himself. Oliver wrenched his jumper from the man and muttered a word of thanks once he was upright. The man harumphed indignantly, and continued on his way, pushing past Oliver. Oliver sighed, and rested against the white tiled wall to catch his breath.

Two weeks ago we were so close to victory. But he betrayed us. Patil, Cho, Roger - they're all dead because of him. And I'm next. I just need a few more days, and then I can get out of Britain and go to America or something. He paused, propelled himself off the wall, and continued climbing out into the open. Just a few more days. All Oliver wanted to do was play Quidditch. Oliver Wood was arguably the best keeper in recent memory in Britain. Few goals could be scored against him, and he took pride in that fact. But it didn't couldn't change the fact that he had become a Death Eater - his desire for revenge against the Muggles was too great. Voldemort gave him that revenge.

Finally the warm mid afternoon sun hit him, causing him to push up his sleeves. A young mother walked by him with a little girl in tow. The girl caught the sight of Oliver's Dark Mark and began to pull her mother's hand, to get her to stop. She pointed wildly at the tattoo and began to ask questions. The mother yanked on the girl's wrist, Leave him alone, said the young brunette. I'm sorry. My daughter just likes to ask questions. Nice tattoo, by the way. The mother and daughter resumed walking in the direction of Westminster Abbey, which loomed high in the distance. Oliver laughed, If they only knew...if I could only curse them.

Filthy Muggles, Oliver's mind reflexively told him as he waited for the light to change, so that he could cross the street. During his time with the Dark Lord, he had had many Muggle Survival training sessions, so that he could fit into Muggle society without much trouble if he needed to. The Muggles were never to know that there was another world existing all around them.

Oliver walked down Tothill Street, the Abbey looming ever larger before him. He took in the faces and people around him, while ignoring the city itself. In the distance, a bell tolled three, giving Oliver the impetus to move just a little bit faster. Passing the neo-baroque government buildings, he crossed over Victoria Street, and walked onto the grounds of the great Abbey. Taking one final look at his watch, Oliver joined the small queue that had formed waiting for entrance into the church.

*****


High above Tothill street, perched on the roof of one of the government buildings, Harry Potter pulled the Omnioculars from his face, satisfied that Wood was not going anywhere. One more. Just one more and I will be able to go home, he thought as he gripped his wand tightly. His face darkened, just as it had for the previous three years every time hatred washed over him. Harry Potter hated with a passion all Death Eaters. Followers of Voldemort who had given their souls to the man freely. And Harry knew that he hated himself. He knew also that society would not welcome him with arms wide open, regardless of his accomplishment in killing the Dark Lord. Harry knew what fate awaited him if he returned, but return he must. He had a promise to keep.

Harry mounted his broom, shaking the brooding thoughts from his head, and cast a strong Invisibility Charm over both he and his broom. He pushed off from the roof of the building, and flew over the street below. Flying had always been his indulgence. He loved it. He loved the feeling of flying: letting the air wash over you, free from all of the earthy cares and woes that may await you on the ground.

He reached the ancient gothic tower with ease, and took only a moment to set himself down on the roof and shrink his broom, placing it in his small bag. He strode over to the floor hatch, and began the trek down the stairway, towards the floor. Harry would wait until the Abbey closed.

Then he would attack.

*****


It was nearly sunset, and Draco Malfoy, master of Malfoy Manor, walked through the cavernous corridors en route to his old bedroom. He passed centuries-old portraits of family members from across Europe; Pierre Malfoy from France, Johann Malfoy IV of the Holy Roman Empire, and Roberto Malfoy, a senator in the Venetian Republic. They were a fierce lot, looking down on him as he passed. He was not in a good mood. Draco had had a meeting with several Aurors eariler in the day; he had to tell them, for the hundredth time that he was not harboring Harry Potter, nor did he ever, at any time harbor him.

Although he would have liked to. Draco, on this late August day, was confused about his love, as he had been for the past three years. Although he yearned to have Harry's warm body benieth his own all these years, Harry had betrayed him. He knew all about the traitor Harry Potter, even helping him in becoming a Death Eater. Draco stopped for a moment, looking over the estate grounds, remembering his triumph over Pansy Parkingson during their seventh year.

But Harry had betrayed him, by breaking one of the two promises that he had made. The first was that after all was said and done, and Harry had completed his task, he would return to Draco. As far as Draco knew Harry had not finished that. The second promise had been broken and Draco fought to keep down his lunch at the memory of the pain.

Endless pain followed being taken from Diagon Alley. Flashes of Harry, using him, taking him, trying to break him. The worst three days of Draco's life came back to him in a wave, and he closed his eyes and breathed deeply. His Harry had broken the we will not harm one another' promise. Draco had fuzzy memories of the first day, but the last two were more clear, as Draco had begun to break free, and turn the tables on Harry. He succeeded, and he broke through Harry's Death Eater shell to reach his love, the man he fell in love with.

How did he feel about Harry now? He had asked himself that question all afternoon, and was still unsure of the answer. A part of him wanted to forget Harry - the pain of those three days was too great. But another part of him would take him back, and protect him.

Draco finally reached his bedroom door, and he turned the brass knob and let himself in. A cloud of dust hung in the air; the house elves were not allowed to clean this room. The room was as he remembered it; spacious, with a large claw-footed four-poster on an area carpet in the middle of the room. Two large windows let the afternoon sun pour in across his white duvet, and a two doors led to a bathroom and a small sitting room.

He was drawn to this room; it was in many ways his only reminder of the life that he had led with Harry. He kept in it Harry's trunk, and everything he could from Harry's Hogwarts days. Photographs, letters, drawings, all were storied away, far from prying eyes. Draco sighed, watching the dust billow outwards. This room was weakness, but it was one that he could afford. In his heart, above all else - Draco still loved Harry.

Crossing quickly across the room, Draco crouched down on the floor and let his day-robes slide off his shoulders. Draco reached under the bed and pulled out a small, leather bound trunk, the leather still smooth, with a small sheen of dust on the top. He dusted it off, and set the trunk on the comforter. He sucked in a breath, as he always did when opening the trunk, and closed his eyes. Draco opened the trunk, and let the lid fall open.

A musty smell greeted his nostrils. He reached into the trunk and pulled out a small stack of photographs, each as crisp as the day they were printed. Smiling, he and Harry waved to the camera, holding hands. Flip. He and Harry dressed up for the Yule Ball, Harry dressed in green and Draco dressed in red. Flip. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Draco smiling to the camera on their last day at Hogwarts. Flip. Just over a year of memories paraded before him. Flip. The last picture caught his eye. Their room, just below the Owlry, in a secluded part of the tower stared at him, shards of moonlight flooding through the windows. Harry lay propped up against the wall of the window seat, his naked chest reflecting the pale moonlight. He shifted slightly as he woke, the throw over his middle sliding off of him. Harry beckoned to the camera, smiling sweetly.

Draco set the pictures down, and pulled out of the trunk a sweater, given to Harry by Molly Weasley during their last Christmas together. It was frayed on the collar and cuffs, but the red and gold were as vibrant as ever. Draco sank his nose into the fibers, sniffing strongly. He smelled Harry, a mixture of sunny days and red applesauce. He squeezed the garment tightly, praying that Harry was safe and unhurt. Regardless of the past, he still cared for him.

He was so immersed in the memories of the man he loved that he didn't hear the door opening, nor did he hear Ginny Weasley, a tall, gangly red-head cross to him. A hand shook his shoulder, breaking him from his thoughts. Draco, are you alright? She asked cautiously. Draco turned his face to her. He had forgotten all about the weekly dinner that they had together, ever since he left Hogwarts and became Snape's assistant.

I'm fine, Ginny. I forgot all about our dinner though. The house-elves should have it ready by now. He rose, shutting the trunk carefully and sliding it back under the bed.

As always, Draco. She took his arm, and they walked out of the dusty room together.

Dinner was served out on the balcony, and the two diners ate heartily, while making small talk. Ginny Weasley sat across from Draco, her soft brown eyes making him remember the three short months they dated, and how she had finally broken it off. She hadn't been angry, or hurt, because she had also seen how entranced he was during their seventh. He loved Harry.

Draco, are you listening to me? She asked, taking hold of his hand.
He searched his memory for a hint of what they were talking about, but couldn't find anything. So he guessed. We were talking about Bertie Bott's new bean flavor - book page, wasn't it?

Ginny laughed. No, silly. Smiling, she reached down into her purse, and pulled out a sheet of parchment. Ginny was a new reporter for the Daily Prophet, and with Lavender Brown, they had plans to conquer the world of journalism. Several of their Death Eater stories had gotten favorable responses from the wizarding community. Draco assumed that this was another article.

She handed him the crisp parchment, and he took it. His eyes darted quickly over each word, taking it in. A realization dawned on him, what exactly all of this meant. His heart leapt at the idea, but at the same time, something else nagged at him. What it was, he couldn't tell, but it was important.

Does this mean what I think it means, Ginny? Ginny nodded once, and explained.

It does. Lavender and I did the research, and someone at the Ministry isn't talking. I don't know who, and I certainly don't know why, but I intend to find out. If this means that Who-Know-Who is finished, then whoever finished him deserves a hero's welcome.

Might it be Harry? He asked softly; this was always a touchy subject for the two of them. Ginny had broken them up because she felt, and rightly so, that Draco loved Harry, and that no one else would be suitable for him. She, although a realist, still didn't have to be happy about such things, and for several weeks afterwards, they did not speak of him, until Ginny had brought it up.

I don't know. What we do know is that throughout all of these attacks, no one has been caught. Every one of them is suspected of being a Death Eater.

That would be something Harry would do, isn't it? Draco thought to himself after the desert had been served.


*****


Night had fallen, and Harry Potter crept down the nave of Westminster Abbey. He was not afraid of anyone discovering him - after all, he was still hidden under an invisibility charm. Harry simply liked to creep around - it reminded him of his Hogwarts days. The full moon cast eerie patterns on the floor, and Harry wondered if Professor Lupin had transformed safely, even with Severus watching over him.

Expiscor Oliver Wood. Harry whispered into the cavernous arches. His wand quivered, and then pointed to the right of where Harry was standing. Harry followed the wand, trying not to make too much noise as he walked down the geometric floor. Gothic arches and darkened stained glass windows fit Harry's mood perfectly. He passed to the right of the choir, and glanced briefly at his wand to make sure that he was on the correct path. The wand hadn't wavered. Poet's Corner, is it Oliver? Harry thought as he crept closer. He stepped lightly, his footfalls barely registering on the ground. Harry entered the Poet's Corner, stopping for only a moment to make out the rose window that soared above the transept.

Harry entered the Poet's Corner, a monument in stone to the achievements of seven centuries of English and British authors, poets and composers. George Frederick Handel, Geoffery Chaucer, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens all had their tombs there, but Harry was not interested in the history of the place. Rather, his attention was drawn to his wand, which pointed to the left of William Shakespeare's monument. Harry's breath stopped, and he expelled all extraneous thoughts as the Finite Incantatum passed his lips.

Harry knew that he could be seen. In fact, that's what he was counting on. Wood's time was up.

*****


Oliver Wood had hidden beside William Shakespeare's monument, and had erected the strongest invisibility charm that he knew to hide him. He knew that it was scant comfort against a very determined Potter, but it did eliminate any Muggles stumbling upon him. His senses were alert, watching and waiting for any sign that he had been found by anyone other than a Muggle.

Footsteps perked his ears up - they weren't very loud, but they were regular. Oliver readied his wand. The footsteps came closer, but no one was there. Or at least, no one that he could see. His breath came faster, and it was only with great control that he regulated it. The feet stopped, and a moment later, Harry Potter materialized in front of him. He watched as Potter moved around the small open chamber as if peering into the shadows.

Wood come out. I need to talk to you. This all has been a misunderstanding. Harry's voice was pleading with him. Misunderstanding my ass, Oliver told himself. A misunderstanding? Oliver projected his voice to come from Thomas Hardy's monument. I somehow can't believe that the murder of a dozen wizards is a misunderstanding.

Harry chuckled deeply, and walked to where Oliver's voice had come from. It was on their part. It too bad that our master, he said with great contempt couldn't be here to see the end of his reign of terror. Harry raised his wand as if to strike, and Oliver took the opportunity to take off the invisibility charm, and whisper Avada Kedvara! A burst of green light shot out of the end of his wand, and sped toward Harry. At the last possible second, Harry ducked to one side, and the curse hit Thomas square in the nose. Harry whirled around, and faced Oliver.

You knew I was there, was the disappointed Oliver's only comment.

Of course. Came the terse reply. They circled each other, locked in combat, neither one daring to take his eyes off the other even for a moment. Harry threw the next curse. he said masterfully, and a purple light hit Oliver's left foot. The foot in question began to dance uncontrollably, and Oliver became unstable and fell over onto the floor. Before he could get the curse removed, Harry cried and Oliver flew backwards into a 16th century poet's worn tomb, while his wand flew into Harry's hand.

Oliver's face, which before had held onto a small grip of victory, now sagged in total defeat as Harry pocketed his wand. Potter - Harry, you wouldn't really kill me, would you? We've been through so much together--

You chose the easy way out. One Muggle killed your brother. Not all. Just one. Oliver's face darkened slightly as he remembered his thirst for vengeance leading him to Voldemort in the first place. Just as, Harry whispered softly all wizards did not kill my parents. Death Eaters did.

And you became one yourself. Oliver remarked sarcastically

Harry chuckled, a small gleam of cunning in his eyes. I did, didn't I?

Judge not, lest ye be judged, Potter.

I intend to be judged. Harry raised his wand and a moment later, Oliver's breath left his body for the last time. Looking around, Harry made sure the now cooling body was in a prominent position. I'm going home, the dark haired man thought, before Disapparating.

*****


Hermione Granger-Weasley's dreams had been tormented for two weeks, ever since the Death Eater attacks had stopped on the general wizarding population. Her dream was the same every night - and it haunted her.


Harry, stop. Hermione told him as he stormed across the common room. He stopped at the foot of the stairs and whirled around, his eyes furious.

What do you want, Hermione? He asked shortly.

I wanted to talk to you about something. She replied, getting up out of the chair she had occupied until then. Hermione crossed the room to Harry, and gazed into his face. His green eyes softened slightly under her gaze, but they still burned.

He asked a second time.

Harry, are you and Draco going to stop seeing each other? He faltered further, and it took him a moment to gather his wits. He barked out a laugh, and shook his head.

What makes you say that, Hermione? His voice was razor thin, and Hermione sensed that she was walking on fairly thin ground.

Well, you and he haven't seen each other recently, and you been so distant with all of us, Harry. Ron and I are worried about you.

You were worried you mean? Harry towered over her, his face twisted in thought. It relaxed after a moment, and she tensed just a little, unsure of where this was leading.

I am. Ron is too, well, less so, but he still is concerned.

Have you talked to Draco?

It was Hermione's turn to freeze. It was involuntary, but she froze just for the briefest moment all the same, as she remembered her aunt and uncle's bodies laying on the lawn, perfectly calm, the victims of the Killing Curse. Draco had killed them, and the wounds still were raw. I haven't.

Perhaps you should try talking to him. Harry said curtly, and turned to climb the stairs to his dormitory. Hermione grabbed his elbow, and refused to let go.

Harry, what is this all about? You've become distant, you don't enjoy any of the things that you used to, you're not seeing Draco--

Harry cut her short. How would you know? He told her, his voice rising. Are you so privileged as a prefect that you can in fact see what goes on in private? Leave me alone, and mind your own business! He shouted, loud enough to have one of the other prefects open his door and yell for quiet. He shook her hand away from his elbow and smoothed his robe.

Hermione repeated a little more forcefully as she stepped around him and prevented him from heading up the stairs.

Harry fumed, and they stayed there, staring at each other for a few terse moments. Finally Harry broke the silence, Out of my way, Mudblood. Harry spat, pushing Hermione aside and stomping up the stairs.

Those simple words, which Hermione thought she had insulated herself from, broke open new wounds as her friend retreated to his room. For a long time she stood leaning against the wall, lost in thought.


The usual click of the front door woke Hermione from her dream; she had never been a heavy sleeper, and the past few weeks had make her crave sleep even less. Her eyes flew open, and her heart began to pound as she contemplated who it might be. A pat to her right revealed a lump she identified as a sleeping Ron. Their two year old, Arthur, slept soundly in the next room, she was sure of it. A quick glance to the clock on the table showed that it was just past two thirty in the morning. She rolled over, hoping that it had simply been a figment of her imagination.

The creak of a floorboard downstairs confirmed that it was not. Someone was there. Shaking Ron with one hand, she grabbed her wand with the other. Hermione whispered. Someone's downstairs.

The party's not for another hour, mum... Ron mumbled as he rolled over taking more duvet with him.

Ron, it might be a Death Eater. That certainly got his attention. As if Hermione had said the magic words, Ron's mind snapped awake, and years of training made his motions effortless. In one fluid action, he took his wand, jumped out of bed, and cautioned silence. Hermione followed right behind him out of their bedroom and into the hall.

In the three years since they both had graduated from Hogwarts they had married and had a little boy named Arthur. Ron had gone into Auror training the summer they left Hogwarts, and never looked back. His obsession was Harry - he lived, breathed and dreamed about catching his former best friend. Hermione couldn't count the number of times that Ron had come home and told her that they had missed Harry again by mere moments.

When Hermione told him about her recurring dream, he was a little paranoid about it, and told her that there had been a marked decline in Death Eater activity since her dreams began. Which didn't put her mind at rest, but she said nothing to him about it after that.

Hermione had spent the past three years under Professor Vector's guidance, learning Higher Advanced Arthimancy so that ultimately, she could take over the professor's position, as she had earned a well deserved vacation, having taught at Hogwarts since the 1920's.

They reached the stairs, and silenced their feet as they traveled down the hardwood steps. It was dark, the only light came from the streetlights outside the house, filtered in through curtains. Ron and Hermione reach the bottom of the staircase and peeked into the living room. Hermione could make out the shape of someone's head sitting in on of the armchairs. The figure was dressed in a heavy cloak, in addition to the various robes that they had on.

Ron nodded to Hermione twice; they had a plan for emergencies like this. They would both cast the Stunner Spell at the same time, and then go investigate who it was. Minister Fudge had decreed that the Killing Curse could be used at suspected Death Eaters, but since neither of them knew who sat there, they would play it safe.

Ron nodded a third time, and they stepped out into the doorway, raised their wands, and together shouted . The figure toppled over, unconscious for now, hitting the floor with a dull thud. Hermione and Ron walked into the room, and lit several lamps as they made their way to the figure. Hermione got there first, and pushed the man over so that she could see who it was.

A hood partially covered his face, so she brushed that away. When she saw whose face it was, Hermione sank to her knees, her hand flying to her mouth. Ron came over to them, and stared at his former best friend. He raised his wand, pointed it at Harry, and opened his mouth to utter the Killing Curse.

Hermione said firmly, not looking up. Her brain, always logical, had furiously begun to try to fit the known facts together, and hypothize why Harry Potter lay on her living room rug.

This is a perfect opportunity to kill one of the worst Death Eaters Hermione! Ron kept his wand trained at Harry's face.

Ron, think about it logically. Why would Harry come back to us if he knew what you would do to him? It just doesn't make sense. Hermione tried reasoning it out, grasping at every scrap of information that she had, but it made no difference - she couldn't figure out why Harry had come to them.

Did Potter's becoming a traitor make sense? Did it make sense that he would betray our entire world? His parents? No, it didn't. He dies, now. Ron took a step closer and found that Hermione had risen, and placed her hand on the end of his wand.

No, Ron. I want to know what this is about.

Have you lost your mind, Hermione? Ron's voice rose slightly, and Hermione braced herself. This is Harry Potter, the Death Eater Who Lived'. Not our Harry. Our Harry is dead. Have you forgotten the past three years? The Quidditch World Cup? Hermione shook her head no. Good. Move your hand. This Potter dies here.

Ron, wait a minute. I know that you hate him, but something just isn't right here; he wouldn't come to all of this trouble just to be Stunned and then killed in our house. There is a reason for his return, and I for one am going to find out what it is.

The fiery red of Ron's hair spread to his face, and he shook his head. Fine. When this is over, he will face justice. We've lost too many lives... His baritone voice trailed off, and Hermione went to him and wrapped herself around him, slowly rubbing circles on his back, trying to soothe her husband of two years.

I'm going to owl the headmaster, and advise him of the situation. He may be able to give us some insight into this situation. Hermione let him go, and went briefly into the kitchen. Ron heard the scratching of quill and parchment, and Pigwidgeon's excited hooting at being sent out at night. A few minutes later, she came back out into the living room. I sent it off. For now, let's go back to bed - he's not going anywhere.

They extinguished the lights and went back upstairs. After checking on Arthur, making sure that he was still asleep, they fell asleep themselves.

*****

Cornelius Fudge stalked through the corridors of the Ministry of Magic flanked by two grim faced Aurors. Minor functionaries and beauracrats dove out of his way as he forcefully made his way, and a few muttered good mornings' reached his ears. He was not having a good morning, and it showed. His normally snappy dressing was slightly rumpled and his hair was slightly out of place.

The Minister of Magic for Great Britain pushed the double doors of the conference room aside, and scanned the table for the appropriate number of people. The seven heads of department rose to greet Fudge, and he muttered a reply. They all sat down, Fudge at the head of the polished table and the seven heads along either side.

Fudge pulled out of his cloak pocket a small, round Pensive, the kind issued to Aurors to record the scene of any crime for future records. He set it down in the middle of the table, dimmed the lights, and pulled out of it a memory, which played itself out right above the assembled heads.

This Pensive memory was culled this morning, from Westminster Abbey. The Death Eater in question is Oliver Wood. His body was found in the position that you see it, and once this memory was taken and stored, two Aurors removed it, and applied several Memory charms to the Muggles visiting the Abbey. Fudge began to pace around the room as the sight of Oliver's body, sprawled out on the marble floor replayed itself over and over again. This much we know - no Aurors, nor any other Ministry employees had anything to do with this death. While the death of so many Death Eaters over the course of the past two weeks and the resulting decline in their activities is far from unwelcome, the Ministry of Magic must ask itself why this is happening. Why are Death Eaters suddenly dying? Who is responsible for these attacks?

Abar Knowles, head of Magical Law Enforcement leaned forward and peered at Fudge over thin wire-rimmed glasses, taking a good hard look at the Minister. Knowles did not trust Fudge very much, because even though the Minister took steps to allow the use of the Killing Curse and other more drastic measures against actual and suspected Death Eaters, Knowles did not agree with Fudge's decision to suspend the right of trial, and believed that Fudge was conspiring to take more power for himself and his position in wizarding society. The head of the Magical Law Enforcement department was above all things fair.

Minister Fudge, he began, his tenor filling the room, you cannot expect an answer less that twelve hours after a crime has been committed. It was a wizard; that much is obvious. However, drawing any conclusions at this time seems to me to be a little it premature.

Fudge smiled at this - a certain scene, almost twenty years ago, coming back to him. Knowles cowering before Fudge, then agreeing to him proposal. Knowles needed to remain independent and obstinant, but he could always be counted on to do Fudge's dirty work.

Kilroy Burgo, a tall, narcissistic man was one of Minister Fudge's best kept secrets. He had replaced Barty Crouch as head of International Magical Cooperation - but he had been hand-picked by the Minister to succeed him. Burgo owed everything to Fudge, and it was thought that while the two men were friends, there was nothing more to their relationship. But Fudge had helped Burgo rise to where he was, and Burgo couldn't say no to the Minister, and he never did. Thus Fudge simply had to feed Kilroy Burgo a few morsels of information, and out they would come as Burgo's own. Shouldn't we be a little worried that this wizard might come after us next? Fudge smiled, and leaned against the table.

I am a little concerned, yes. However, I have outlined a few precautions that can be taken to protect us and our families. Fudge finally stopped the Pensive, and on one of the walls, an outline appeared, giving the assembled heads a view of the plan. The table erupted in chatter as they discussed what lay before them.

Arthur Weasley's frown got deeper and more pronounced the further down the document he read. Minister Fudge, this has gone too far. These proposals are nothing more than a blatant attempt to take more control of the Ministry and reach into the lives of the average wizard. I for one will not support this proposal.

The Minister took a good hard look at Arthur, and surveyed the other heads to gauge their reaction. Knowles was expectedly scowling, and Burgo was the opposite; Ludo Bagman and the other heads wore neutral expressions. Arthur, we have been friends for a long time, Fudge said, honey coating his every word, and I respect you personally. The Muggle Protection Act has done much good for the wizarding world. However, I think it's a bit hasty to allow personal ideas of freedom into a war. His expression became more serious, and he looked into the faces of each department head. I would hate to have a family member die because you failed to protect them. Fudge said ominously.

Our protection is fine, the Aurors have seen to that. Knowles told the group. And I for one have better things to do than to sit here and debate Fudge's latest scheme to gain power for himself and his cronies. There was a shocked silence as Abar Knowles rose from his seat and left the room. Several of the department heads exchanged worried glances, and then excused themselves as well. Ludo Bagman and Arthur Weasley followed suit a moment later, leaving only Kilroy Burgo and Cornelius Fudge in the room. Burgo glanced at the door, making sure it was shut. Fudge smiled, and sat back down at his place.

What are you going to do about the proposal, Cornelius? Burgo asked.

It will be taken care of. For now, the proposal will be set aside for more pressing matters. Weasley and Knowles will come around soon, I'm sure. He smiled again, and nodded his head when Burgo asked to leave.

They will come around. They will have to. When I am done with their families, they will beg me for protection. Fudge chuckled and closed the door behind him as he left the small conference room. There was much work to be done.

*****

What do you plan to do with him Hermione? Draco and Ginny will be here in less than an hour. Ron's voice stressed, hoping to make her see reason. They had moved Harry onto the couch, where he lay, still Stunned.

What do I plan to do with him? We are in this together, Ronald Weasley. Her hands flew to her hips, and she planted herself, preparing for a long argument with him. She would only call him that if she really wanted her own way - which in this case she did. We need to wake him up, and then we can find out what's going on. As for Draco and Ginny, if need be we can always stun him again.

Ron sighed, and pulled his wand out. Okay, let's do this then. I really think we're making a mistake here, though.

Ron, we owe it to Harry to get all of this straightened out. I don't think he would have simply let us stun him last night if he had truly had evil intentions. She told him matter-of-factly.

They joined their wands, and stated clearly, . A bluish light shot of the end of their wands, and hit Harry in the forehead, dissapating over it. Within moments, he groaned, and his hand fumbled to his head.

How long was I out? He asked groggily as he sat up on the back of the couch.

Potter, I would like to get this over with, Ron began. You know the punishments for being a Death Eater, we just-- Hermione cut him off.

Why have you come back Harry? Her rich alto voice questioned, her eyes looking him over, taking him in for the first time in nearly three years.

He had changed, that much was obvious. His eyes were no longer open, instead they guarded his inner secrets, and flickered around the room, looking for any hostile movement. Harry's unruly hair, which he had begun to grow out in his seventh year, now reached the middle of his shoulder blades, and he had obviously spent many hours pulling it back. His face was lined with a few tell-tale hex mark depressions, and although he had removed the worst of them, there were still a few lingering. He grown a little since she had last seem him, and he was just as wiry and lanky as she remembered him to be.

Hermione kept returning to his eyes. They were dangerous, the mark of a man who had lived on the edge of existence, carefully watching and waiting, playing games against both friends and enemies. Time would tell, she mused, what would happen next.

Why have I come back? I promised someone that I would. Harry said simply, his eyes taking on a far away look.

Oh is that all? Ron sneered.

he replied groggily, still shaking off the effects of being out for that long.

In case you have forgotten, Potter, there is a price on your head. I am an Auror, and as such, have a duty to kill you. I get the money regardless. Fudge wants all Death Eaters dead.

Go ahead, Harry stood, his cloak unfolding around him. It doesn't matter.

Ron grinned. After the hunt, victory tastes so sweet--

It was Draco, wasn't it? Hermione said. She had done some quick thinking, and that was the only possible conclusion that she could draw. Harry must have, at some point during their seventh year at Hogwarts, promised Draco that after it was all over, he would come back. Harry nodded, and sank back into the couch.

Ron grew more furious. You mean that you came back because you promised Draco Harry showed no sign of being surprised at that statement that you would come back one day and whisk him away to Voldemort? After what you've done to him--to us?

Ron was red, more red than Hermione could remember him. His breathing was heavy, and his grip on his wand made his knuckles white. Ron shook with fury at his former best friend, who closed his eyes briefly and replied, Voldemort's dead Ron. As are most of the other Death Eaters. I killed them.

There was a heavy silence in the room as the news washed over both Ron and Hermione. Ron's face went from anger to disbelief and Hermione's took on the deep thinking mask that she wore from time to time. Bloody hell! Ron exclaimed, his features expressing total and utter disbelief at the news. Hermione was silent, the wheels of her brain turning very fast, putting all of the clues together. Finally, it all slipped into place.

You never really went over to Voldemort, did you? Ron gaped at her, and Harry smiled.

Hermione, you never cease to amaze me. I did go over to him physically, but my mind, I resisted. The darkness was all around me, trying to seduce me. Every Muggle I killed, every wizard I tortured, every spell I cast in the service of Voldemort brought me closer to him. I was his star, the best Death Eater he had - his second. That wasn't surprising to either of the other two in the large room. My mind wavered on loyalty to him. I had to be totally committed, in order to get close enough to destroy him, but in the process, the darkness overtook me, enveloping me more and more each time I cast a Dark Arts curse. Harry hung his head, and Hermione noted that Ron took almost a sadistic satisfaction in the fact that Harry had not come to grips with his actions.

Hermione glanced down at her watch, and frowned. They're going to be here at any moment. Harry--in the kitchen.

Who's coming? Harry asked as he stood up again. What's going on?

No one's coming, Potter. Just get in the kitchen, and stay there. Don't say a single word, if you value your life. No one must know that you're here. Ron glared at him. Hermione knew that it would take a lot for him to speak civilly to Harry. She didn't like the idea of Harry Potter sitting in their living room after all of this time, there was too much between them. But the least he could do is be civil to him.

Once Harry had been placed in the kitchen, Hermione and Ron flopped next to each other on the overstuffed couch, and waited for their guests to arrive.

*****

Ginny Weasley was a woman who knew what she wanted, and was willing to take no prisoners in order to achieve it. A star reporter for the Daily Prophet, she had two years of experience under her belt, and that was only the beginning. She had traveled all around the world, finding out what other magical nations were doing to stop Voldemort and his supporters, and reporting on it. Her crowning moment came during the Quidditch World Cup, when none other than Harry Potter had whisked by her on his broomstick, and she had followed him.

Of course, if this article was any indication, she would have a much bigger and better story on her hands once it was published. She positively tingled when she and Lavender were writing it.

Today, she and Draco were going over to Ron and Hermione's house for lunch, and a quiet afternoon of conversation. She could picture it now - Draco brooding over Harry and the latest from the newspapers; Ron trying to do his best to convince Draco that Harry is evil, Hermione playing wife, mother, sister in law, councilor, friend, confidant and cook all at once. And herself? Ginny saw herself sitting back into the thick couch and listening, taking in every word that everyone said. She was good at that.

Ginny had Apparated from her flat, and was supposed to have met Draco five minutes ago in the entryway of Malfoy Manor. She alerted Harvey, one of Draco's house-elves, of her presence, and waited for him. She looked at herself critically in one of the floor-to-ceiling gilt mirrors, and was pleased with what she saw. Long, straight red hair had been pulled back out of her face; her freckles having mostly disappeared, so she didn't need to hide behind bangs. Warm brown eyes stared back at her.

You will make one man very happy someday. Draco said, entering the foyer with a flourish. Ginny felt a ping of regret. It could have been you.

As will you, Draco. She replied, turning to him. In reply, he pulled out his wand, lit a fire, and threw a pinch of Floo powder into it. He leaped into the fire, and Ginny followed moments later.

When they arrived at the fireplace and stepped out, Ron and Hermione lounged on the couch, seemingly content. Ever observant, Ginny noticed that something was out of place, because Hermione kept glancing nervously at the kitchen door .

Is there anything wrong, Hermione? You seem a little bit on edge. Ginny asked her. For her part Hermione turned the slightest shade of pink, confirming Ginny's suspicions that something was up.

No, nothing's wrong. We're fine. And you?

Fine as well. Draco answered, sitting down.

Is there anything we can get you? Ron asked, standing up. Even he looked a little nervous, and since Ron's Auror training, nothing seemed to phase him.

Actually there is. Do you have any pumpkin juice? It was Ginny's favorite and insisted on having one glass a day.

We do. Hermione, why don't you help me pour some for Ginny. Draco, do you want anything? Draco shook his head in response. Ron and Hermione went into the kitchen, and shut the door behind them.

Ginny and Draco sat side by side on one of the over-stuffed couches, not speaking to each other. Ginny had just opened her mouth when Draco stood up decively, and strode over to the door separating the two rooms. She wondered what was up, and followed him in.

*****

Draco knew that something was wrong when they had Floo'd over; and he resolved at that moment to find out what it was. Ron and Hermione had been acting strangely since he arrived, and he couldn't think of any reason why they would act that way. He gathered himself up, and pushed the door to the kitchen open, letting it thud against the wall.

Whatever he had been expecting, seeing Harry Potter sitting on a stool in Granger-Weasley house was certainly not one of them. His mind reeled, overcome with a thousand emotions, each threatening to shut his brain down. There was attraction - Harry's face still called to him, strong yet vunerable. Revultion - Draco's hated himself for wanting Harry, for being willing to forget the past three years, and those few days in which everything was a blur. Curiosity - he wanted to know what happened to Harry, as the Daily Prophet was not known for their objective reporting. Finally, there was love - Draco's stomach grew warm as he thought about Harry, studing the deep lines under his eyes, the few hex-scars that lingered, those green gems that used to be so full of life...

Draco licked his lips, and steeled himself against the tempation to bundle Harry up and take him home, instead opting for a cold stare. It hurt him to see a moment of joy flash across Harry's face before he saw that Harry's sullen mask had returned under his gaze.

I will be strong. Draco repeated to himself, as he fully entered the room. He felt Ginny behind him, and he glanced at Ron and Hermione quickly, searching their faces.

What is he doing here? Draco said icily, noticing that Harry became more sullen afterwards.

Ron opened his mouth, but was stopped by his wife. We can explain Draco. At least, I think we can.

Get to it then.

Hermione took a breath, and began Harry's come back because he killed Voldemort.

Ginny exclaimed from her perch behind Draco. Is this true? Harry simply nodded in reply.

And - he promised someone he'd come back after it was all over. Hermione's stare bored into him, penitrating his defences. If Harry's come back, then it's true. Draco thought to himself, all the while moving closer to Harry's stool. He felt a little guilty - after all, he hadn't forgotten about Harry's promise - he could hardly think of anything else.

Draco, I-- Harry began haltingly, unsure of what he was supposed to say. His warm voice called to Draco, beckoning him foward. Draco felt his two feet move towards Harry's stool, and suddenly, wrapping himself around Harry.

Shhh. Don't say anything right now. Draco rocked the slightly taller man and felt almost as if the past three years hadn't happened. Draco decided then and there, what he must do. We need to talk, and soon Harry. About everything. He told Harry curtly, breaking the embrace. For right now, why doesn't Ginny get her pumpkin juice, and we'll go back to the living room and listen to Harry explain a few things?

*****

From the moment that Draco had entered the house, Harry's stomach did not want to settle down. He sat quietly on a stool in the Weasley kitchen, his eyes closed and trying not to breathe too loudly. When Draco spoke, Harry's heart wanted to break. Remorse for his actions during those few days flooded him, overwhelming everything else. I was following orders, Harry thought, but immediately retracted that thought. Liar. Orders didn't tell you to take him. Orders didn't tell you to let him go. Harry hoped and prayed that Draco would even want to talk to him - he had come back after Voldemort's downfall.

Hermione came into the kitchen, followed closely behind by Ron. Ginny wants pumpkin juice. Ron said, to no one in particular. You want a glass? Harry nodded, because he had been warned not to speak. Ron poured the glass, and handed it back to him.

Thank you. Harry said, and he realized what he had done. Ron and Hermione both froze, and the seconds ticked by impossibly slow. After a count to ten, there was a collective sigh, and that was precicely when Draco walked into the kitchen.

For the briefest of moments Harry got a good look at him. He had grown ever so little over the past year and a half, and he had let his hair grow out. His gray eyes still dazzled Harry, whether it be in anger or joy - they were the center of Harry's attention. Draco was a little flushed, and his mouth became pinched and pouty. Harry almost smiled - Draco had gestured that way almost involuntarily, but had masked over any joy in seeing Harry immediately afterwards.

Harry hung his head, and waited for someone to speak. His thoughts drifted to happier times, recieving letters by owl from him while he was in Egypt, the countless hours spent in the room below the Owlry, their second kiss. A few months of happiness warmed him.

Draco asked Is this true? Harry searched his brain for what they were talking about, and when he found it, he nodded.

Harry looked for something to say, anything to say, that might smooth things over a little bit. He wanted nothing more than at this moment to be greeted with a smile from his love. He knew that it might be impossible to get it, after everything that had happened, but he wouldn't give up easily.

Draco, I-- He began haltingly. He couldn't continue. He was so relieved that Draco was there, just being in the same room with him was a joy. But he couldn't continue speaking, because he didn't know how to begin. Begin being forgiven for all of the anguish that he had caused over the past three years.

Suddenly, he was enveloped by thick black robes. Thin arms wrapped themselves around his shoulders, and Harry sighed into them. Whatever might come in the days and weeks ahead, he would always remember that moment, because it gave him hope that he and Draco might be reconciled.

The embrace was broken all too quickly, and they were sheparded into the living room, and Harry cleared his throat.

I guess I should begin at the beginning of all of this. It was the summer of my seventh year, and I had just arrived back at Privet Drive... Harry began, and the other three dove into a summer that would change everything.

A/N - Well, that was fun, wasn't it? This first chapter has been a journey of almost 6 months to get ready, and so there are several people I need to that. The first are my wonderful betas - Nancy and Adi, without both of whom this could not have been completed. Also many thanks to Tine and Mara, without whom much of the work could not have been even started. Also thanks (in advance) to Verdant, Piri and Earthquake1906, all of whom have had some impact onto the text enclosed here. Special thanks also go out to Adi, whose amazing artwork I will link here at a later date. Perhaps with the coming of chapter 2? As I write later chapters, I may tweak chapter 1 and previous chapters every so often, if something needs to be changed. So take a look back every now and then to see if chapter one remains the same. It might be little things, or it might be a new scene or two. Also - don't forget to review my little story! C.