Summary: After the war, the survivors try to find a way to cope with the losses they have incurred and move into a future they have yet to create. As they try to find ways to save themselves, they realize that perhaps the best way is to save each other.
This story will eventually be Harry Draco Slash. It will probably take a while to get there from here. This chapter is rated for general audiences.
Posted so far: 10 Chapters / 44,242 words.
Again and still: thanks to ivyingarden for all the help making this a better fic! She patiently helps me brainstorm (with some great ideas to throw into the cauldron), is fabulous with canon, has a knack for language, and keeps at me to "write write write!" In this chapter she went above and beyond, and role-played/ helped write the dialogue between Andromeda and Harry.
Also, thanks to rosskpr, for beta work that is both meticulous and enthusiastic. She helped me catch several canon errors in addition to watching my grammar and asking plot flow questions, and her encouragement keeps me writing!
Any errors after the two of them have combed through the work are from the author not paying attention!
Harry Potter, his friends, his enemies, and the lovely world they live in all belong to JK Rowling. I play here.
I have been resisting writing update messages in this journal, keeping it to just the chapters as much as possible. I do this because I imagine someone getting a flag that a new post is up in this journal, and then being disappointed that it is only a status update. But without the status updates, a long gap like the last one might make some wonder if I've given up (no, I haven't!) Please let me know if you prefer chapters and status updates, or chapters only.
As always, reviews and critiques keep the creativity flowing! Let me know what you think!
Captivity and Plans – Draco
May 5, 2009
The worst part of being captive, Draco thought, was that he had no wand. He was stuck with food the temperature that it came. If it was too hot, he had to wait for it to cool, and if it was too cool, there was not a thing he could do about it. His hair, made difficult by the stupid shop-bought cleaning potions provided, had to be combed. He couldn’t use the hair smoothing charm that he had created specifically for his hair texture. His clothes were wrinkled. Yes, he hung them every night, but he was unable to use the charm his father had taught him to make them completely wrinkle-free, so he would look every inch the Malfoy scion his father had raised him to be. Surely, he would feel more himself if he could only dress the part.
Aside from personal grooming, there was the issue of silence. Rather, the lack thereof. He was going to go mad if he had to put up with one more day of his mother’s soft murmurs to his father. No wand meant no silencing charms. This, in turn, meant no privacy. He knew his parents loved each other, but he did not need to be privy to the soft sounds of their affection, not that they were in any way indiscreet.
But the sound of kissing in these small quarters was louder than it had any right to be.
Worse, he could not be indiscreet. He was feeling healthier, despite the plebeian food and the lack of exercise, than he had all year under the—under Voldemort’s tender oversight. All of last year, every time he went home to the Manor, he knew that either he would be writhing under Voldemort’s wand, or his parents would be.
Hogwarts became an escape from pain, as neither the Carrows nor Snape inflicted the Cruciatus on the loyal. There had been plenty of other students that warranted their wrath. Even so, Draco was just now getting the full use of his muscles back, without the phantom pain that had shivered up Cruciatus-touched nerves. His wanted to enjoy some of that health, and he had a hand even if he had no wand, but he was not about to do so with his parents in the same room. There was such a thing as decorum. And the D—Vol—that stupid half-blooded bastard had not destroyed that in the Malfoy family.
Only, to look at his father, staring blankly as his mother murmured to him, Draco had to wonder. Shortly after their conversation the day before, his father had retreated into himself.
His mother had seen Draco’s bleak expression before he closed off his face. After settling Lucius on the bed and speaking quietly with him for a few moments, she came over to sit next to him at the table.
“Is he ill?” Draco turned to his mother.
“When the Dark Lord took Lucius’ wand, he took his power, Draco. We are wizards. All of your father’s intelligence, all of his cunning, it did him little good if he could not act on it. And without a wand, he could not protect himself.”
“We have other wands, in the vault…”
“The Dark Lord forbade it. He said that as Lucius could not be out doing his will, there was no need for him to carry a wand. He made one available for Lucius to use for raids, but for the rest of the time, The Dark Lord found … other uses for him.”
“No. Not that. We provided a base for him, and Lucius gave counsel as often as the Dark Lord would listen. But otherwise, Lucius became the target of his anger, more often than not.”
“As well. Not as often. I still had use as the hostess of the Manor. But Lucius… he has always been the force behind events. His strength was negotiating in the ministry, finding just the right place to apply pressure to accomplish his goals. He has always been vibrant, powerful, driven. Confinement was difficult for him, but it was even more difficult when he was not permitted to take action.”
“How long has this been happening? I never saw him like this.”
“He never wanted you to see him as less than strong. He focussed all his will to appear as you would expect when you came home on holidays. He did not want you to carry his burdens. Your father has more strength than any man I know. At his height he used it to succeed. This past year, he used it to endure. For it all to come to nothing… to have damaged our name to this extent… He is all too aware of his failings.” She stopped and reached out to take Draco’s hands, looking him directly in the eye. Her eyes were not exactly pleading, but he could feel how much she wanted him to understand.
“He needs me, Draco. More than he ever has. I do not intend to ignore you. If there is anything you need, you may come to us. You know that.”
She had taken a breath, and as if the air was filled with a revitalizing potion, her face took on more intensity than he had seen in it. Ever. “You are the most important thing in my life, Draco. You are my son. Ever since you were born, you have always been in my mind, influencing each decision. You can rely on that knowledge, and rest knowing that you will come first for me.” Her grip on his hands was tight, almost painful. She looked down at her hands.
“Lucius… he is aware what his decisions have cost us. That alone hurts him more than anything the Dark Lord could have done.
“I have always supported him in his decisions, and will always support him in my heart. It is likely he will be imprisoned, possibly even … executed.” Her voice was quiet and controlled as she said that, but Draco understood what she was holding back. “Once legal proceedings begin, it is unlikely I will be allowed to see him again, whether I am imprisoned or not. There is hope for you. Your actions while in school, and at home before that, the responsibility for them can be argued to rest with Lucius – by law.
“Right now, Draco, he needs me. This may be our last time together. You do understand?”
Suddenly, Draco could not object to the sound of her murmurs, or his father’s all too infrequent replies, or the soft wet sound of their kissing. He could not object to the quietly intense sounds he heard late at night, when they thought he was asleep. He could not object to any of it. This time, however long there was of it, might be the last time for them together as a family.
So, he made sure they ate meals together at the small wooden table. One of them always had to sit in the chair that was too short, but they ate together, and there was conversation, and sometimes Lucius rose to the task and participated. Draco looked for signs of alertness in his father’s face, grasping those moments to converse. But mostly, he left his parents to their time with each other.
Instead, Draco spent his time planning.
* * *
Draco knocked on the door to the hallway. There was no answer. He considered writing a note and sliding it under the door, but decided that between the wards on the door and the Auror’s unresponsiveness, he doubted it would go anywhere. He returned to the chair by the table. He did need to write a note… two notes. One to the person in charge, most likely McGonagall, he thought, and the other to Madame Pomfrey.
I would like the opportunity to meet with you. I will abide by whatever security measures you feel are necessary.
He considered what she might require in the way of security, but he knew she had the power in this situation. He would have to abide by her requirements to make any progress in his plan. If the Malfoys had any power at present, he would not need to abase himself at all. Circumstances dictated action. He played with the idea of addressing it to the Headmaster or Headmistress, but discarded that. Better to deal with the known than the unknown. Addressing to her by name gave him at least the strength of familiarity and history. Such as it was. If she wasn’t Headmistress, she was still a person of power in this context.
And now, for the next, equally brief missive.
This note is to inquire as to the well being and current situation of the person I brought to your attention. I would be grateful for an update.
He wished he could see Snape himself. He wished he could talk with him. He hoped he was all right. He hoped that he had been in time, that he had done the right thing to bring him to Madame Pomfrey’s attention. But wishes did not accomplish what planning did. He set aside his fears, his anxiety for Snape, the pain of the knowledge of what would happen to his family if he did not succeed, and also of the knowledge of what would happen to his family, to his father, if he did.
When the Hogwarts house elf brought lunch, Draco was waiting by the door. The Auror standing guard gave him a dark look, but did not interfere. Draco knew she was listening to every word that was said, but that actually worked in his favour. If the elf didn’t carry the message, perhaps Auror gossip would do his work for him.
Madame Pomfrey’s reply came quickly. Draco was surprised. He had expected her to be too busy to reply immediately. He was glad for it nonetheless.
The Healing is not complete. He lives.
That was not nearly enough information.
Draco waited. Draco planned.
He did not hear back from McGonagall.
The next day, he sent another message.
I hear and see that Hogwarts is being repaired. I wonder if I could be of assistance?
Not Dead Yet – Severus Snape
May 5, 1998
Severus Snape awoke. Where was he? Hadn’t there been a battle? Albus would be wondering—no, not Albus. He was sure of that. There was no one he cared to report to just then. No one he wanted to report to ever again. He spared a moment to hope the boy succeeded. Hope, however, had no place in his life. The Potter brat had traipsed across the countryside doing who knows what, while the Dark Lord grew stronger: in followers too unobservant to realize what they were following, in political power in the Ministry. The battle could have gone either way, even with all Albus’ planning, all his own sacrifices. And there was no way to discover the outcome, except to open his eyes and discover for himself.
The rush of thoughts left him with an unaccustomed vertigo.
Carefully, slowly, he opened his eyes, surprised that he could do so. And then, he was surprised to find himself in his own quarters. Lying on the sofa in the sitting room. He had thought, he had sight, he must still be alive.
He was not in that damned shack of Lupin’s, and he was not dead. He did not even seem to be in more pain than normal. He turned his head, tentatively. An excruciating pain pounded through him, starting at his head but not leaving any limb untouched.
Perhaps he was in more pain than normal. He rested for a moment, then pulled himself upward, using the back of the sofa for leverage. By the time he was standing, his head throbbed. He moved toward his potions store. The door was open. What’s more, his special cabinet was open.
He scanned the room, looking for something out of place. On the table, between the sofa and one upholstered chair, sat four bottles. He recognized them by the shape and colour of the bottles alone.
There was no one else that would know how to get access, and would have a clue how to use them. And care to do so. Once, Lucius might have cared. Recently, Lucius would have been happy to see him dead, Snape thought.
So Draco had brought him here, had broken into his locked Potions stores, and then left him alone. He would have to have a serious talk with his godson.
He found a potion for pain that would not interact with the four in his system. Swallowing a double dose, he stood very still until the ache receded. He still hurt, but he could function. Probably.
First, he needed to find out what was transpiring outside of his rooms. He looked around for his wand. He searched his robes, and the tables, in his Potions closet, and under the sofa cushions. And then he did a more thorough search. He found it where it had rolled, under the sofa on which he had been lying. He recalled a slight clatter just as he reached consciousness. His hands were certainly stiff enough to have been holding hid his wand all this time. He stretched each one until the knuckles popped.
He needed to find Draco. He needed to find out what had happened. He put on his cloak, lifted the hood over his head, and tossed floo powder in. “Headmaster’s Office.” He said, and stepped into the green flames. He could have done without the spinning, even for that short distance.
Even when he had become headmaster, Severus had maintained his own quarters in the Dungeons. Slughorn had found another room more to his liking, and there was no need for Snape to vacate the quarters he had lived in for over 18 years, let alone move into Dumbledore’s room. It had been difficult enough, taking over the old man’s office. It had never become his office in his mind. The office belonged to the position.
It had been disturbed since he was last here. Parchments were stacked in relatively neat piles on the desk. He glanced at the top one. It was a funeral list. From the names, it was clear that the Dark Lord was not in control of the castle. But Potter was not on the list. Had the Dark Lord survived, then? Snape searched the room until he found it. The Pensieve.
The cabinet with the Pensieve in it was locked. After all he had done, had the brat not even bothered to look at his memories? He certainly had no compunction about it a few years ago. With a quick wand movement, the cabinet door clicked open, and Snape saw, with some relief, that it swirled with silvery fluid, and he could almost see a blur of Lily’s hair. He wanted to plunge in and see the memories, to see Lily in the clarity of the Pensieve, but there were other more pressing issues. The glimpse had proved they were his own memories.
So the brat had—in all probability—viewed them. Had he followed through? Potter was not dead. Had it all been wasted? Snape could not imagine going through this again in another ten years. He wasn’t sure he could imagine surviving another ten years. He looked again at the Pensieve. Fragments of his life, all leading to one place. A fury rose in him. All his choices. Every moment sacrificed, every Cruciatus endured, every time he crawled before that creature, every regret, every penance, laid out before the Potter spawn, to waste or use. And the brat was alive.
He was not sure he could have made Albus’ choices, to raise the boy for slaughter. Albus seemed genuinely to care for the brat. Severus had learned early on never to care for those you must use. You take care of your tools, but you never let yourself get emotionally attached. He knew Albus had done both. He knew Albus had come to care for him, as well, yet he used him as needed, throwing him back to the Dark Lord, asking him to endure, to commit unbearable acts, to bear them anyway. And he had.
Snape was not so minded to compare which sacrifice was worse: that which Albus had asked of himself, or that which he had asked of Potter. To sacrifice your honour or to sacrifice yourself. The sight of those memories, swirling in Albus’ Pensieve, brought both choices together in Severus’ mind. He did not want to consider it. It was a waste of time, when he still did not know the full outcome of the battle.
Severus considered taking the memories back. For the moment, while he could remember them, they did not stab at him. They didn’t press at him with urgency, nor with bile at the results of his choices. He was able to think more clearly, about things he had not let himself acknowledge. Maybe he would leave them there. For the moment. With only some of the important answers resolved, he needed his strength, but at the moment he could feel it draining away. He stumbled to the chair in the corner and collapsed into it. Just to consider where to go next.
Madame Pomfrey had never been so busy.
One of the volunteers had fallen from the wall he was working on, and despite the cushioning charm the crew leader had cast, the volunteer had ended up with a broken ankle. An Immobilus charm and a dose of Skelegro later, the ankle was tender but healing. Poppy did not have the luxury of making the volunteer rest in a bed, much as she might want to. Wizardspace interfered with healing, especially with some kinds of spell damage, so she was limited by available space, and there just wasn’t enough. She sent the volunteer off with instructions to rest for the remainder of the day, and headed back to her office.
As busy as the Hospital Wing had been since the battle, she didn’t dare let the medical records lapse. Every potion given, every cure applied had to be noted, in case of later complications. Each potion had a duration of effect, and some needed specific timing for the next dose. It was also critical to avoid certain potion interactions. She had seen enough crises from that during her apprenticeship at St Mungo’s in the critical spell damage ward that she was very careful with those under her care. And while the transfer Mediwitches and Mediwizards from St Mungo’s kept their own records for the patients under their care, it was still her ward, and she checked the records of each patient in it.
As soon as she reached the door to her office, the insistent ring of an alert chime derailed her intentions.
She quickly moved to quiet it and gather some supplies. The reintegration spell she had cast to reunify Snape’s chaotic magical field could be disrupted by physical disturbance or interfering magical field. Prohibited from checking in on him by the nature of the spell, she had woven the alert that had just sounded into the reintegration spell, blending the magic of each spell into the other. As soon as she had set the spell, she activated a healer’s ward on Snape’s rooms, carefully balanced so its magical field was all on the outside of the shield, and sealed the room. She had not been back since, although she had been tempted several times. As powerful as this last-ditch spell was, she hated using it, if only for the fact that she could not check on her patient until it had run its course.
Gathering sanitized cloths, bandages, her notes, and some potion vials—her lips twitching at the irony of bringing potions back to the Potions Master’s rooms but not wanting to risk searching through his personal stores—she headed toward the dungeons.
She turned to see one of the construction mages guiding a young wizard through the doors. He was covered in bleeding sores, and had his hand over his mouth as if he were trying to keep from vomiting. She remembered him… a recent graduate, from perhaps two or three years ago. He had been to the infirmary only rarely. Ravenclaw, if she recalled correctly.
“He was helping shift debris in the classrooms on the main floor. He was doing fine, and I went to check on Alyce, who was dealing with an intricate load balancing issue. When I came back, he was on the ground, and was like this.”
“Come, let’s get you settled over here.” She guided him to a bed that had recently been vacated and reset. “Now, can you tell me what you were doing at the time?”
The wizard – Poppy tried to remember his name – took his hand from his mouth and tried to speak, only to spasm.
Poppy conjured a basin for him, and waited until he raised his head again. “Evanesco.” Poppy removed the liquid from the basin, but left the basin, just in case. “I’m sorry.” She told him. “I don’t dare give you potion to relieve your nausea until I know what you’ve been exposed to. Can you describe what you were doing when this started?”
“Wasn’t doing anything. Just moving the rock and dust, like he showed me.” The wizard gestured to his guide. “I started to feel a bit dizzy. I was almost done with the room—" he clapped his hand over his mouth again and heaved.
Poppy cast a few diagnostic charms. His magic was blotched with dark taint. She had seen this with particularly dark curses, but she could find no evidence of a curse. It looked as if the darkness infecting his magic was causing his flesh to decompose in places.
First, do no harm, she thought to herself. It was clearly painful, but not immediately life-threatening. Much as she wanted to relieve the pain, she first needed to know what ailed him. “What’s your name?”
The tight clenching of his stomach released him after a few moments, enough for him to draw breath. “Angus Thelbren.”
“Yes, I remember you now. Ravenclaw, weren’t you?” He nodded. Well, Mr Thelbren, I’m going to ask you to lie down. I know it will hurt a bit, but I am going to cast a charm to slow down what’s happening to you. It will cause you to sleep, and you don’t want to fall.”
He gingerly leaned back in the bed, and she helped him put his feet up, carefully avoiding any open sores.
With a carefully controlled wave of her wand, Poppy muttered a charm that would slow both his magic and his body processes. She needed to find out what this was. Who would know? Once she would have asked Severus—glancing down, she noticed the supplies she had let fall when she had been called over. Severus!
Gathering the supplies back to hand, Madame Pomfrey called one of the hospital ward volunteers to her. “I need you to keep an eye on Angus Thelbren here. If there is any change, any change at all, I want you to call for Minky to come get me. Understood?” A quick nod reassured her. “I’ll be back shortly.”
Just as she was leaving the ward, she heard a voice from her office—“Poppy? Are you there?”
Setting down her supplies again, Poppy returned to her office, hoping the floo-call would be brief.
May 5, 1998
Minerva McGonagall climbed the stairs to the Headmistress’ office. She was tired. There was just so much to be done. First and foremost, as headmistress she was in charge of organizing the rebuilding. Filch had been a gift in that regard. He had taken over coordinating the floods of volunteers and ensured that the various tasks got prioritized and done. Somehow, this catastrophe had brought out the best in him. He had not been overtly cold or sneering toward the volunteers, so far. She had caught him stroking one of the walls, murmuring to the castle, and the sneer on his face had been replaced by a faintly wounded look if he thought he was alone, but she could not fault his organization skills. So for the most part she could turn that over to him, but it was still her responsibility to oversee.
In addition, the next school year needed to be planned. She needed to start searches for new teachers to replace the ones who had died or were imprisoned. She needed a new Muggle Studies teacher, a new Potions professor, as Horace had told her quite vehemently that he had had enough, and that his retirement was not to be interrupted again. She also needed a new Defence teacher, she needed to replace herself for Transfiguration, and Bathsheda in Ancient Runes had let her know she was sending her curriculum vitae elsewhere. She doubted that Dumbledore in all his years as Headmaster had ever had to replace so many Hogwarts instructors in one go. Inquiries had gone out but she was not satisfied with the quality of what she had seen so far for Transfiguration or Potions, and they were core subjects. She didn’t know whether she would be able to find someone competent for Defence, either.
In addition, she needed to spend time with the existing teachers, as the curriculum needed to be redeveloped both to clear it from Death Eater propaganda and change the focus away from wartime planning (which she had to admit had become the focus more and more as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named grew in power). And the Hogwarts letters for the coming year needed to be rechecked, as well as those from the previous year, as she had discovered that the letters for Muggleborn students for that year had not gone out, although she had been sure the process was supposed to be initiated by the Book.
It was only May, and she was already feeling behind. She hoped she would get it all done in time.
It felt as if she shouldn’t be focussing on these everyday things when such terrible things had happened only a few days before. But if she didn’t do them, then Hogwarts might not start on time. She couldn’t let that happen. He Who Must Not Be Named had already caused too much chaos, without letting his reach extend still further.
When she opened the door at the top of the stairs, her heart faltered. A large, black clad body lay sprawled in her chair. Severus Snape. He appeared to be either dead or unconscious. How had he gotten there? There was fresh ash outside the floo… she had forgotten to change the wards on the floo.
She carefully stepped over to him, wand out, and cast a quick spell. He was alive. Just to be sure, she cast a binding spell on him, not trusting that a stunning spell wouldn’t kill him. She needed answers more than she needed his corpse. How was he still alive? Harry had said he was dead as he left the shack. Trust Severus Snape to survive. That is what he was best at.
With Snape safely secured, she turned to the fireplace and muttered a quick Incendio to reawaken the flames, then tossing in a bit of floo powder. “Poppy? Are you there?” There was a long pause.
“Minerva, what do you need?”
“I have Severus Snape in my office, unconscious, I believe. Could you come through?”
“Oh! Certainly. He should not have been able to walk that far! Coming through.”
With a flare of green, Poppy was in her office. She cast several diagnostics on Snape, then turned to Minerva. “Was it strictly necessary to bind him?”
“Until I know for certain where his allegiances lie, I am taking no chances.”
“He’s unconscious. How much danger can he be at the moment? If I am to treat him, I’ll need you to remove the binding.”
“Let’s get him to the infirmary first.”
Poppy cast a diagnostic charm Minerva recognized from years of bringing students to the Hospital wing before casting Mobilicorpus. Her spell, gentle from years of use on patients, lifted the body from the chair, and straightened him out. Minerva transfigured a chair cushion into a blanket to lay atop him, covering even his face.
They couldn’t fit his hovering body through the floo, so Poppy released the spell, catching the man on her shoulder, his head draped onto her back in a grim parody of an embrace. Minerva helped her settle him so that Poppy could carry him. The binding helped keep stray appendages in. “He would hate this.” Poppy commented.
“I truly do not care.”
With one last glance to make sure nothing was hanging out, Poppy Disillusioned the body, then preceded Minerva through the floo into her office. She settled him into a chair for a moment to catch her breath.
Minerva cast a stern look at her. “You knew about this. You knew he was alive.”
“You didn’t tell me.” Minerva kept her voice calm and without judgement.
“You know that doesn’t apply. He—“
“Minerva McGonagall, I did not hear you say that. I did not hear you suggest that I let my principles slide, just because you don’t approve of Severus Snape.”
Again casting Mobilicorpus, Poppy resettled the blanket over him. “I assume word of his survival should remain between us for now?”
“For now. I need to know a few things first. How did he survive?”
“Draco Malfoy found him. He said that the He Who Must Not Be Named killed him. Using that snake Neville killed.”
Poppy turned and guided the Disillusioned body carefully across the short distance to the private ward reserved for teachers and contagious students. After settling him in the bed, she raised the alert that signified contagion. That would keep people out. It would still need to be locked.
“Harry said the same thing.” Minerva commented. “It still doesn’t mean that Severus didn’t truly follow You Know Who. If he did… I’ll not hesitate to turn him over to the Aurors for a good long stay in Azkaban. And nothing will diminish the fact that he allowed those – those people into the school.”
“What would you have had him do?”
“He was the Headmaster. If he really was working against them, he should have done something. Albus would have.”
“Severus Snape was not Albus.”
“No, he was not.” Minerva’s words meant something quite different than Poppy’s.
Chapter 1 (If you've not read the story yet, start Here...)
Chapter 9 (if you missed the previous chapter, click here)
On to Chapter 10-B