You're my Density

Just Suppose Harry hadn't heeded his godfather's advice, and actually lost his temper at his trial? Time travel fic and title is 'Back to the Future' joke.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11033616/1/You-re-my-Density

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24. Three Turns

For it to be one of the most important nights on the Hogwarts calendar, the atmosphere at the Halloween feast was, excuse the pun, grave. The rumour mill had of course been working overtime on the condition of the headmaster. The Minister of Magic being spotted leaving the school infirmary wearing a rather worried expression adding more grist to the mill.

Things were getting so bad, McGonagall was forced to make a short statement before the feast started.

"Headmaster Dumbledore had an accident today and is currently in the Hogwarts infirmary. While his condition is very serious, he asked that tonight's feast still go ahead. Halloween is one of his favourite feasts and he didn't want to see anyone disappointed."

It was McGonagall's demeanour though, more than her words, that told the students just how bad this could be. The usually stoic Scottish witch was clearly struggling to hold back her tears.

-oOoOo-

In the infirmary, Hermione had lost that battle. Watching Dumbledore basically saying goodbye to people had fat, salty tears escaping down her cheeks. Harry and her, like the rest of magical Britain, had come to rely more and more on the ageing headmaster. To see him stricken down like this was a real blow.

Albus was now talking to his favourite healer. "Poppy, had Severus still been here, his knowledge of potions and the dark arts might have been able to buy me some time. We're talking at most a few months though, my fate was sealed the instant that curse took hold. Resting now may see me live a few moments longer, I'd rather spent the little time I have left talking to the people I need to. Thank you for your concern and I know you'll give Minerva the same support you always gave me..."

Poppy Pomfrey hugging a patient may have been a strange sight, those watching though understood perfectly what was happening here. The Hogwarts healer was saying goodbye to a dear old friend.

They'd hung about in the infirmary for hours because Albus clearly wanted to talk with them, though kept getting interrupted by visitors. The four had now become six, since being joined by Sirius and Amelia. With his good hand, Albus waved them over. "Miss Granger, would you do what's necessary? We can't risk being disturbed again, or overheard."

Amelia's eyebrows may have raised at Albus' request to the young witch, Hermione erecting silencing and notice-me-not charms - without uttering an incantation - saw her monocle drop from her eye. The amount of trust Albus had in these two children was hard to believe or understand. It would also seem to be more than justified.

"I have been saying goodbye to many people today, yet this one is by far and a way the hardest. Hermione, will your oath permit me to know if I've done better...?"

Hermione's tears were really flowing now as she took his good hand in both of hers. She nodded her head while attempting to smile, words were currently beyond her. Harry's arm was around her waist as he spoke. "Sir, you've been brilliant - to both of us and our families."

Hermione again nodding in agreement saw the tension leave the old wizard's body. "Thank you both for that. It will give me the strength to face what I must. For almost a century I've searched for the means to talk with my sister, finding it today saw this old fool take leave of all his senses. At least now I'm shortly going to be with her."

Seeing the pitying looks coming in his direction, Albus put them straight. "I am in full control of my mental faculties. This curse withers your body and organs, leaving you fully aware of what's happening but helpless to do anything about it. Tom Riddle was a powerful genius, but also a fool too. He didn't know what he had, or would never have made it into a horcrux. Destroying his simultaneously attacking essence robbed me of any chance of fighting this curse, a curse that will be the end of me. In the same situation, I would make the exact same choice again. It would have been better not to have put the ring on in the first place but we can all learn from that. I should never have tackled this alone, his compulsion charm and my own intense desire to possess the stone meant my fate was sealed."

Taking his hand from Hermione's, Albus slipped it under the covers and pulled out the ring in question. "The horcrux has been defeated and the ring is now perfectly safe. It's the stone that's the significant thing here. I've searched for the Resurrection Stone since I left Hogwarts as a student. It's rather ironic I found it the same day that I'll die."

The gasp came from Amelia. "The Resurrection Stone is real?"

"Since Harry is now holding it, that would have to be a yes. Three turns of the stone allows its owner to talk with those who have passed on. Harry, call for me whenever you need help or advice. I'm not really leaving you, our loved ones never really leave us..."

There wasn't a dry eye around the bed at that but Albus could feel his time was getting short. "Harry, I need you to summon my wand from me." His hand delved once more beneath the covers, bringing out his wand. Harry summoning and catching it produced a light show that had Hermione needing to reinforce her privacy charms.

"The Elder Wand has served me faithfully for many, many years. Since you already have the Cloak of Invisibility in your possession, you are now master of all three Deathly Hallows - and Master of Death."

"Albus, that's nothing but a child's tale..."

"Most of which are based on some semblance of fact, Amelia. The Hallows origins may be cloaked in mystery, that they exist can no longer be disputed - nor can their ownership. Harry, your friend Luna's father is very knowledgable on the subject. Like me though, his judgement could be impaired if presented with them. That you are the Master of the Hallows must be kept a secret, except from the people here. Speaking of secrets, I think the rest of the family needs to know yours. You will need help and support moving forward, they can supply it."

Choosing to ignore that advice for the moment, Hermione focused on something else Albus had said. "Sir, what does it mean to be Master of Death?"

"It doesn't make Harry immortal or indestructible, nothing like that. The true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying."

Wrapping both arms around his intended, Harry gave his thoughts on the matter. "I already knew that, Sir. I am far more worried about anything happening to Hermione than I am to me."

"That just shows what a wise man you are, Harry, and also why I thought you could handle something that would corrupt a lesser wizard."

Not liking the sound of what she was hearing, Emma placed a hand on the shoulder of the boy she was coming to consider her son. "Do you feel any different?"

Taking a moment to look inward, Harry answered as best he could. "I feel calmer, that's the best description I can come up with. The headmaster is dying, but it's not the end. He will see his family, and I will see him again. It's not the end, rather like beginning a new chapter. Does that make sense?"

Leaning forward, Emma kissed his cheek. "More than you could possibly know."

Albus took this opportunity, probably his last, to speak with Hermione's parents. "Emma, Dan, I know and understand your commitment to your family. I can neither fault nor criticises it. All I can ask is that you go over the problems carefully before making decisions that will affect the entire country."

It was Dan who actually answered. "Our primary concern is keeping these two safe, that hasn't changed. We now have a lot more people that we would like, no, need to keep safe as well. We won't make a decision like that rashly, but we will make it if we need to..."

"That is all I ask. That, and calling Poppy. I feel I am now in need of her wonderful potions."

Hermione had no sooner lowered her charms than Poppy was over in a flash. "Albus?"

"Yes, Poppy, it's time."

She took a vial from her pocket, removed the stopper and Albus greedily drank it down. Only moments later, he was asleep.

"He is in great pain from that curse but wouldn't let me administer anything to aid him. He was adamant he had to have full control of his mental faculties to speak with you. He won't wake again, the pain would be too great for him to think straight anyway. I'll keep him heavily sedated until organ failure finally takes him from us..."

With that the six left the infirmary, heading for the Grangers' quarters. Not a word was spoken en route, or even after they arrived. As Harry crashed down onto a large armchair, Hermione instantly sitting on his knee, he made his mind up. "Family meeting."

Dobby and Darla appeared, serving drinks to four adults who looked as if the needed them. Hermione used snuggling as an excuse to whisper into Harry's ear. "Are you sure?"

A quick peck on her cheek allowed him to whisper his answer. "No, but I'm sure we can handle it if things go wrong."

As Dobby sat on the floor, inviting Darla to sit beside him, Hermione had to agree. With their presence, the four of them should be able to handle any trouble Sirius or Amelia might start. While pretty certain Sirius would accept the situation, Amelia was an unknown - and Sirius would then back his fiancée to the hilt.

Amelia actually kicked the discussions off, though unintentionally. "Isn't that the house elf Malfoy handed the diary to? A diary that suddenly had a sock hidden in it."

Not wanting to have that manoeuvre criticised, or looked at too closely just yet, Harry was blunt with his answer. "Yes, and Darla is now a Potter elf. She played a big part in ensuring that diary ended up in our possession, we in turn will do our very best to look after her. She, like Dobby, is now happy to be a Potter elf - and a valued member of our family."

"Easy, Harry, Ami didn't mean anything. I didn't even know about Dobby..."

"I'm sorry, Sirius, but that was deliberate. You're going to hear things in this room that can't be spoken of outside it, outside of this company anyway. This might compromise Amelia's position, again sorry but this will affect hundreds - if not thousands of lives. Albus was right, we need help. Without it, our families will be left with little choice but to leave Britain - dooming this country to the darkness."

Dobby popped away for a few seconds, returning with a bottle he placed in front of the couple who were about to have their world turned upside down. Sirius cracked a joke about it couldn't be that bad, only for Harry's comment of 'much worse' to have him topping up their glasses.

Hermione moved from Harry's lap to tell her story, Amelia and Sirius couldn't help but think it was a tactical move too. Between Harry, Hermione and the two elves, they were boxed in. Hearing Hermione mention time travel, both of them knew for certain it had been tactical.

Hermione gave them the general background, the ministry framing Harry, wiping his memory and binding his magic. Dumbledore teaching her what she needed to know. Explaining to Sirius how she already knew him from the future had Hermione in tears for the second time today.

"I'm really sorry we had to leave you in Azkaban, knowing you were innocent too, but we had to do it when the time was right. Voldemort was in the castle and we wanted him taken out. It was all about timing, and we weren't in control of that."

"You got me out, got me cleared, and the rat got my old cell. I'll happily settle for that. I thought something was strange when you mentioned having occlumency shields in my house at the summer. After how crazy that day turned out, it just slipped my mind to ask you about it. You coming back in time helps explain how you managed that, and everything else you've both achieved. It also goes some way to explain the trust Dumbledore had in you both, finding out Harry's nearer twenty than twelve. What about Ami in that other future? Did we still get together?"

Taking a deep breath, Hermione told them what she knew would be horrible to hear. "With you being the most wanted criminal in Britain, Amelia head of the D.M.L.E. and the entire country still thinking you guilty, you were forced to hide in Grimmauld Place. None of us knew anything about you two being a couple, you had no contact whatsoever in the other timeline. With Harry taken out the picture and then Dumbledore murdered the following summer, there was nothing and no one to oppose Voldemort's move on the ministry. Rumour was Voldemort had personally killed Amelia before he made that move. Britain soon fell into darkness, deep into darkness. With Snape headmaster of Hogwarts come that September, Draco had Susan dragged into the Slytherin dorms. There was no one willing to object, no one willing to protect her. Susan hanged herself before Halloween was reached, and the Slytherins simply moved on to their next female victim..."

Amelia's grip on her tumbler had been getting tighter and tighter, right from the moment time travel had been mentioned. As a ministry official, her duty here was clear. Listening though, her duty to the country came violently into conflict with her appointed ministerial role. Hearing of her own murder at the hands of Voldemort was hard, but not something too unexpected in the described circumstances. Listening to what then befell Susan saw the glass in her hand shatter from the increased pressure of her grip. The spilled firewhisky stung her cuts but Amelia didn't even acknowledge this, she drew her wand and placed it in her bloody hand.

"I swear on my spilled blood to help you in any way I can with the defeat of this monster, and any of his followers who rise up to support him. I also swear to aid you with making this country a place where people will not only object to atrocities like you just mentioned - they'll stand up and do something about it."

While Sirius gently took her wand and began healing her hand with a few charms, a relieved Harry answered Amelia. "Thanks for your support, and I can swear we will never let anything like that happen to Susan. Defeating Voldemort wasn't enough when I was a toddler, and it won't be enough this time either. We have to start changing witches' and wizards' opinions of our country and community, something Dumbledore fully supported and was a great help with."

Hermione went back and sat on Harry's knee, adding her reasoning to his argument. "If that doesn't happen, we really will have no option but to leave Britain. We'll be taking all our family, and as many of our friends with us as we can. You and Susan are of course now considered family."

Dan had been merely sipping his brandy, having heard this story before. He now tried to help the two people Hermione had just called family. "We were told this at Christmas, these two having trouble passing for an eleven and twelve year old in front of parents who knew their daughter too well. Our reactions to the news were pretty much the same as yours. Having time to think about it, and get to know Harry, we now have a better handle on this. Muggle Harry was in grave danger so Hermione headed into a Voldemort controlled Britain to try to save him. Rather than then attempt escaping, they broke the very laws of time itself to try and return Harry's magic and memories."

A sip of brandy was needed before he could continue. "The people they are trying to save are now no longer merely names to Emma and I. Susan, Parvati, Padma, Hannah, Luna - we know these girls and will do our very best to protect them. If the best way to protect them though becomes heading to Black Island, that's what we all need to agree to do. Tonight I promised Dumbledore we would all talk it over first, and that's certainly not a discussion we will be having soon. It'll take a few weeks at least before things settle down."

Amelia turned her attention to the not so young couple sitting on the armchair. "I understand why you were concerned about telling me this, being an auror is a massive part of my life. This is one case however where my duty to my family takes precedence with me. If heading out to Azkaban and gutting every one of those death eater bastards with a dull, rusty blade saved my Susan from the fate you just described, I would already have left."

Hermione's smile never reached her eyes. "You don't have to travel that far, Amelia. I can tell you about a convicted death eater who's not currently in Azkaban, a rabid death eater who was also instrumental in Voldemort's return. Barty Couch Jr. is not dead, he's currently being held prisoner at home by his father. It was his polyjuiced mother who died in that cell. We need to take him out, I just couldn't figure a way of passing on that information to the people who could."

"I was going to ask if you were sure, but of course you are. Shit! I don't know how I'm going to do this either, his father is still a powerful figure in the ministry. Can the same trick you used on Malfoy work?"

This led to an immediate shake of the head from Hermione. "The Malfoys treated their elves worse than slaves, Dobby and Darla were desperate to get away. Winky is devoted to the Crouch family. That type of approach would quickly explode in our faces, informing the Crouchs we were on to them. It's also one of the reasons we don't have the elves trying to find more horcruxes. I think though that's now an option we might have to take a risk with."

That was Emma's cue. She was really worried about something else, and decided now was the time for answers. "Speaking of risks, are there any associated with these Deathly Hallows? Neither Dan nor I know anything about this. From their expressions in the infirmary, Harry and Hermione are in the same boat too."

A couple of nods from the young couple placed Sirius and Amelia in the hot seat. "I knew James had an invisibility cloak, it came from his father. I assume that's the one Dumbledore meant. I've also heard of the Elder Wand, sometimes known as the death stick. The person who wields it is supposed to be unbeatable in a duel, so the legend says. I've never heard of the Hallows though, deadly or otherwise."

"Yes you have." Interrupted Amelia. "It's the tale of the three brothers you were taught as a child. Each of them were supposedly gifted a hallow from Death. The brother with the wand boasted to everyone he was now unbeatable in a duel, so was murdered as he slept and the wand stolen. The brother granted the Resurrection Stone used it to bring a girl he loved back from the dead. She was neither ghost nor solid, and just further reminded him of his great loss. He supposedly committed suicide. The brother granted the cloak used it to hide from death, taking it off and bequeathing it to his family when he thought it was time to pass on."

"That's the Hallows?"

"Yes love. Since there is no record, legend or otherwise, of anyone ever owning all three at the same time - we're in uncharted waters here."

The groan coming from the chair was loud, though Harry didn't really intend for everyone to hear what he said next. "Why is it always me? Meet the most beautiful girl in the world, next day I'm eleven, stuck in an ancient Scottish castle and fighting a troll in a girls' toilet. For once, I'd just like to be normal. Is that too much to fuckin' ask for?"

A kiss from Hermione calmed him down, before she got Harry really excited. "There is something both my Harrys always wanted, and now you have the means to do so in your pocket..."

Only the fact that Harry wrapped his arms around his intended while shooting to his feet stopped Hermione landing on the floor. Instead she was hoisted into the air, before being lowered so an excited Harry could kiss her in thanks.

Watching as Sirius fell to bits right in front of them told Dan he knew what the youngsters were up to. Seeing Harry take the ring out of his pocket also confused the dentist, knowing Dumbledore was still alive. When realisation hit of exactly who Harry was going to summon, Dan wanted to sound a cautionary note. He wanted to but his brain was too busy screaming at him this was impossible. It only stopped screaming that message when a young couple in their early twenties appeared in the room.

That realisation had also hit Emma and saw her taking action. She quickly rose to be at Harry's side, grabbing him just as the couple she assumed were his parents appeared.

Harry's legs went rubbery, and only the Granger girls were keeping him standing. "Mum? Dad?"

"Oh son, we're so proud of you - and your lovely girl."

Hearing his mum say that put a massive smile on Harry's face. He ignored the tears that were streaming down his cheeks, he was by no means alone in currently suffering from that was speaking to a stunned Dan. "Thank you so much for taking our son into your family. These two have done amazing things, but they can only do so with their family backing them." He then turned to his best friend.

"Sirius, you let Peter Pettigrew make a bloody fool out of you!"

"Prongs, Lily, I'm so sorry..."

"James, behave. Sirius knows better than any of us what that cost, he paid a heavy price too. Hermione got him out, and the rat's now rotting in Azkaban. Amelia, never doubt the big mutt loves you. Thanks for believing in our children too. Sorry, Emma and Dan, but we already think of Hermione as our daughter. It's only their physical ages that are stopping them officially taking that step."

Standing with her arm still supportively around Harry, Emma certainly knew how to answer this visitor. "Lily, I understand exactly what you mean. I already think of Harry as mine and feel happier now, knowing you won't mind."

Turning her attention to her son, Lily was joined by James. "Harry, this is wonderful, and bloody torture at the same time. Your father and I desperately want to hug you and Hermione, but we can't. This is something you are going to have to use sparingly because it's so hard on all of us."

While nodding, his father had more to say. "Albus has promised to help you so call him when you need advice. We'll pass on any messages for you through him. Let's keep this as maybe an annual event, one we can all prepare for and then get the most benefit from."

Looking down at the two elves, Lily could only smile. "You are putting together a wonderful family here. Son, please tell that sister of mine that she's on the right path, and not to stray from it again."

Harry understood why his father was saying any repeating of this should be rationed, and planned for. There had been things he'd always wanted to ask his parents, irrespective of timelines. Seeing them in front of him however, his mind had gone totally blank. He shouldn't have dived right in and used the stone without planing something first, but his parents were in the same room as him so he couldn't really complain...

Hermione had something she wanted to ask. "Mrs Potter, whatever you did to protect Harry, it means Voldemort can't bear Harry touching him. Is there any way we can use that to defeat him?"

"It's Lily, Hermione, and his fight with Quirrell showed that it's possible. I'm just not wanting Harry or you to get that close to Voldemort again. I don't want you chasing after him either, Harry, just because you have that wand."

Seeing where Hermione was taking this discussion rebooted Harry's brain, he also needed to answer that last accusation. "Mum, Hermione would never let me do something as stupid as that. Do you know anything about horcruxes? How many, any locations?"

Lily shook her head as his father answered. "Sorry son, we only know what affects our family. Albus may have more information he can pass on to you. Please be careful, these are not things you should be taking chances with."

Everyone there agreed with James, they'd just had the example of Albus to reinforce that point.

Lily was now crying as they got ready to leave. "Call us again, son, perhaps doing so every Christmas?"

"Mum, that would be the best Christmas present - ever."

As James and Lily faded away, Dobby and Darla refreshed everyone's glasses. Emma and Hermione were now sitting with Harry wedged between them, Amelia was left having to hug the emotional wreck Sirius had become. Dan sat still nursing a brandy he'd barely touched. "Every time I think I'm getting a handle on this magic thing, something else comes along and blows me away. Harry, Sirius and Amelia, I didn't know Lily or James and that blew my mind. How are you coping?"

Harry was quietly sobbing, yet smiling at the same time. There really was only one way he could answer that. "I got to meet my mum and dad..."

Sirius too was smiling through the tears. "Lily forgave me. I knew Prongs would, after shouting at me for a while, but Lily could be a terror when she wanted to be. Dan, I know exactly what you mean. Since Ami came to Azkaban for me, my life seems to be continually getting turned on its head."

It had been one hell of an emotional day but, just like when Dan and Emma first discovered their secrets, the talks and reminiscing went on long into the night. It was just before four a.m. when Dobby gave them the news the castle's ghosts, portraits and elves were broadcasting, Albus Dumbledore had passed away. The sun rose that morning on a country now poorer with his passing, and with no one quite sure what would happen next.

-oOoOo-

Severus had always considered his family house in Spinner's End to be barely a step up from a hovel. Today it felt palatial. He knew what was behind this ridiculous reassessment however, spending almost a year as a guest in Azkaban would alter anyone's perceptions.

While his extended stay in that cell certainly accounted for Severus looking at his home with new eyes, that the country had changed too while he'd been away was also undeniable. Lucius Malfoy was currently in an Azkaban cell while Potter and his mudblood now held Orders of Merlin, First Class. Trying to get his head around changes like that was going to take Severus a while.

Thankfully there was no pressing reason for him to leave Britain immediately. He planned to spend some time staying at his cottage, getting himself reacquainted with what was happening in the world. One of the first things he had done was to renew his subscription to the Daily Prophet, Severus eagerly took his copy from the delivery owl. Opening the newspaper though immediately indicated things had just changed once more. Severus would need time to decide whether this was a good thing - or a disaster.

The headline screamed that Dumbledore was at Death's door, and that door was expected to open anytime soon. Reading between the lines of the article, Severus was able to surmise that Albus must have been caught out by some dark magic artefact. That this artefact was able to overpower Dumbledore severely limited the number of people who could have produced it. Severus could only think of one person powerful enough to achieve that result, and it sent a shiver of dread shooting up his spine.

This, and the story behind Potter's Order of Merlin, would seem to confirm the Dark Lord was actually in Hogwarts last term. If the Dark Lord really wasn't gone and Dumbledore actually died, the balance of magical power in Britain would soon undergo a radical change.

His reading of the situation was that the Dark Lord had returned from the dead, taught in Hogwarts for almost a year and left a trap there that finally killed Dumbledore. Even with Dumbledore very much alive, and over a decade younger, magical Britain couldn't cope with the Dark Lord the last time. Severus of course immediately discounted Potter as any threat whatsoever to the wizard he'd called master.

As far as Severus was now concerned, he was left facing two tough choices. Get as far away from Britain, and his returning master, as possible - spending the rest of his life hiding. His only other option would appear to be to search for his master and aid his return. Knowing the Dark Lord, Severus wasn't overly enamoured with either of those choices. Amongst all this guesswork however, only one thing could be counted on with complete certainty. Should his master return, Potter's life wouldn't be worth a knut. With no Dumbledore there to protect the brat, the Dark Lord would have his revenge.

As far as Severus was concerned, seeing the last of the Potters die was a large point in favour of the 'finding his master' option. He'd hated the boy from the instant the brat had entered Hogwarts. Adding to that hatred, Severus had been sacked and then spent almost a year in Azkaban - all thanks to Potter.

This was a decision he had to get right, his very life hung in the balance, so Severus would not be rushing it. He also needed all the information he could get to help with making this decision. It would appear to be a case of when, rather than if Dumbledore passed away. At that point, the newspapers would be full of articles relating to the wizard's long life that should supply the type of information he needed.

Knowing that, had Severus still been in the castle, he might have been able to assist Dumbledore cheered the newly released prisoner right up. Dumbledore had stabbed Severus Snape in the back, and those actions had been revisited on the old wizard a hundredfold. Severus was once more a free man, while Albus currently lay dying in Hogwarts. That was a massive shift in fortunes right there.

-oOoOo-

The funeral of Albus Dumbledore was going to be held at Hogwarts on Tuesday. While Amelia was involved with some of the arrangements for that event, she couldn't help but think this would be a perfect opportunity to deal with another problem - Barty Junior.

The ministry would practically be empty as everyone attended the funeral. While those conditions would certainly help with this delicate and politically sensitive mission, they also created another set of obstacles that needed to be overcome. Amelia couldn't lead the mission herself, her position alone dictated she would need to attend the funeral. Moody was certainly someone she trusted as a replacement to lead this capture but Mad-Eye had known Dumbledore longer than she had. Since Moody's physical appearance meant his presence was always noticed and noted, he couldn't miss the funeral either.

She needed to put together a team Amelia could trust to get the job done in secret, while not using anyone in her department with a high enough profile whose non-attendance at the funeral would raise any eyebrows. Since her reputation and livelihood were both at stake here, that was not an easy task.

-oOoOo-

Cissi's task wasn't proving easy either, more a case of a work in progress. Her first week of classes had been both terrifying and, at the same time, exhilarating. She was beginning to think teaching was something she could enjoy. There was no joy in privately confronting her son about his behaviour though, exasperation probably described her current emotion best.

"Draco, Dumbledore dying doesn't mean things inside Hogwarts are going to revert back to the way you want them to. The new classes and robes are here to stay, and I honestly think those are good things."

"But my father…"

"Your father will be spending the rest of his life in Azkaban, your godfather just got released from that place. Doesn't that tell you they were wrong?"

Draco was about to continue obstinately defending his position before Cissi cut him off. "The Dark Lord was defeated while trying to murder a toddler, after killing the same toddler's parents and making that child an orphan. Regardless of your blood beliefs, surely you must see that's wrong? Severus pleaded guilty to casting an illegal curse on an eleven year old wizard. That he was a professor and that wizard was a student supposedly in his care just makes his crime all the worse. Your father deliberately hid a very dark artefact in a twelve year old witch's robe pocket. He confessed under truth serum that artefact would possess the witch, forcing her to commit terrible crimes before finally killing her. Do you think any of that is behaviour acceptable in our society?"

"But Potter…"

"…has been two steps ahead of everyone who's tangled with him since he stepped into Hogwarts." Letting her anger show at least silenced Draco. Whether her son would take notice of what she was saying though was a different matter.

"You think having the last name Malfoy entitles you to special treatment, correct?" A nod from her son was all the answer Cissi needed. "Yet you clearly think that Harry Potter, twice defeater of the Dark Lord and holder of our society's highest award for bravery, doesn't deserve that same kind of special treatment."

"He's a halfblood…"

"…who's actually done the things people show him respect for. Respect is earned, Draco, whether for deeds or position. My students respect me as a Professor, did they show the same level of respect to Lockhart?"

"The man was an imbecile! You saw what he did to me…"

"Yes, Draco, and you're correct. It's not the position that gives respect, rather the person holding it. It's the same with names. Your father has lost any respect the Malfoy name once had. It will now be up to you, as the last remaining Malfoy, to restore that respect. Remember, respect has to be earned. Lockhart used bluster and downright lies in his attempt to portray himself as something he clearly wasn't. Every single person in the castle soon saw right through him. You have to go away and decide how you want others to think of you, and then start behaving in a manner that might one day achieve what you want."

Comparing Draco to the despised Lockhart certainly got his attention. If he learned nothing from this talk though, Cissi needed the next bit to stick. "Harry Potter is the last of his line too. Look at how he's dealing with the same situation, and then decide how you want to move forward with building respect for the Malfoy name. Lockhart took on Potter, the entire school saw how that turned out - right before the press then destroyed the lying fool on their front pages. You cannot continue to snipe at Lord Potter, and especially not at his intended or family. Use that keen mind I know you possess. You have nothing to gain from behaviour like that, and everything to lose."

Knowing this was hard for her son to hear, Cissi tried sprinkling some sugar over her words in the hope this harsh medicine went down. "Your father had a golden rule he followed, until he didn't see the changes. 'Whoever has the gold makes the rules'. I actually believe that to be true, but it's not just gold you need to make the rules. Your father's position in our society gave him a lot of power. He couldn't accept that things had changed and his stupidity saw him lose that power. When that power was gone, even his gold couldn't save him from Azkaban. You have none of that power and no access to the Malfoy gold until you're seventeen. With no adult Malfoys to protect you either, that leaves you vulnerable. You will have to tread carefully until you come of age."

Putting a time limit on his modified behaviour seemed to help her son accept what was necessary. Draco's nod of agreement delighted his mother, Cissi knowing she would need those years to make these behaviour modifications permanent. She hated having to say this next bit but Draco was better hearing it from her, and also in an environment where he could safely let off steam without his words causing trouble.

"With Dumbledore gone, you know who the witches and wizards of Britain are going to look to now for leadership?"

-oOoOo-

Hermione was forced to erect silencing charms around her Gryffindor bedroom, and not because she was getting up to anything with Harry that they didn't want Neville to hear. No, the problem was Harry had just reached the end of his tether and was loudly venting his anger in the form of a rant. Hermione was letting him vent, pleased that at least he managed to hold it together until they were somewhere alone.

"Summon my wand, Harry. Congratulations, you're now the Master of Death. What does that mean, Albus? He unbelievably doesn't even bloody know! Why didn't he mention that, or anything else, to us before asking me to summon that wand of his?"

"I don't think Dumbledore had any time left to discuss the problem, love. You can ask him about it when we next speak to him. Maybe he'll know more about being the Master of Death, now that he's actually dead himself."

Hearing the hurt in Hermione's voice was like a bucket of ice cold water being poured over his head. Fighting to rein in his temper, Harry wrapped Hermione in his arms. "I'm sorry for sounding off at you, Hermione. You knew him much longer and far better than I did. This is also the second time for you that Dumbledore has died. Sometimes all the madness in the magical world just gets to me. They think I'm twelve, yet want me to stand up and speak at what will effectively be a state funeral. Who wants to hear a twelve year old boy? Nuts, they're all fucking nuts..."

Feeling Harry beginning to relax in her arms, Hermione went back over some things both of them knew to be true - but Harry was having a real hard time comprehending.

"You are Harry Potter, the boy-who-lived, banisher of Voldemort - twice - and recipient of an Order of Merlin, First Class. They don't see an age, love, they see exactly what they want to see - a hero. With the magical public accepting Voldemort is not gone, and now Dumbledore dying, they need a hero more than ever. It's silly, stupid, you could even say it's fucking nuts - but that's the way it is."

Harry lovingly kissed the girl he worshipped. "I'm sure I actually did say it was fucking nuts, you being here in my arms however makes everything worth it. What are we gonna do about this speech though, I have no intention of becoming the ministry's poster boy?"

Returning his kiss, before leading Harry to bed, Hermione offered her solution. "They want you to speak, then do so. This is an opportunity to say what you want, I know you'll never be a ministry mouthpiece. A bit of advice though, I would leave the phrase 'fucking nuts' out of your speech. You really need to practice controlling that temper of yours."

Cuddling in to his intended, Harry couldn't help but smile. "I don't know, Hermione. It got me here, in bed with you..."

Harry swore he heard her mutter 'bloody prat' but since Hermione then began kissing him, he didn't really care. When Hermione kissed him like that, he didn't care about anything else.

As Hermione deepened the kiss, she couldn't help but think 'mission accomplished' before Harry soon had her forgetting about everything else except kissing him back.

When sleep eventually claimed them, the contented couple knew they would face whatever challenges that came their way together. Being together for the rest of their lives was always going to be the most important factor for both of them in any plans they made.

 
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