Chapter Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Chapter Summary: Wherein the Daily Prophet brings some news, Narcissa does damage control at the Ministry, Millicent is about to make a major change in her life, Draco spends most of the day in bed, and tomorrow is a beautiful day.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Chapter 27 - All Good Things
The Daily Prophet, July 12th, 1999
Mayhem at the Ministry: Highly-Placed Official Spying on Hogwarts Life
By Andreas Dearborn, Staff Reporter
If you thought Harry Potter had hung up his hero's cloak and was resting on his laurels whilst completing his final year at Hogwarts, you were mistaken. Last night, after a three-day, closed Wizengamot session heard evidence from Potter and several of his classmates, Senior Undersecretary Dolores Umbridge was presented with a foot-long list of charges. The document has not been made public at this time, but a Ministry insider has revealed that the charges include trespassing, invasion of privacy, and conspiracy to blackmail. The full list of charges is expected to be published two days before the trial, scheduled for August 27th.
Since Umbridge herself is under house arrest at the moment, we turned to her accuser for answers. Harry Potter, whose unorthodox lifestyle was the subject of a series of Prophet articles late last year, had originally refused to grant us an interview, but relented after being reassured that his answers would be published verbatim or not at all.
"I was walking to the common room one evening," says Potter, 19, fresh out of Hogwarts and, like many others, awaiting the results of his NEWT examinations, "and I heard a very faint buzzing sound coming from the wall. I stopped to listen, but couldn't figure out what was making the sound. Then I saw a compartment open up in the wall. A hand appeared out of thin air and reached into the compartment; it took out a sphere of some sort, put another one in, then disappeared. I asked a friend about it later that night, and she told me it had to be an Eyelet device -- when they fill up, they make that tiny buzz that can't be heard unless it's very quiet in the area. Hogwarts is rarely quiet. Most people walk around in groups, talking."
Potter casts a glance at the Quick Quotes Quill and continues: "I didn't like the idea of Eyelets in the school, so I started investigating. The Wizengamot has asked me not to talk about the details before the trial, but eventually all evidence pointed to someone at the Ministry. I asked someone who works at the Ministry to find out if the Eyelets were sanctioned by school authorities, and it turned out that they hadn't been; there was no record of Eyelet installation at all. Hogwarts is protected by wards from outside magic, and if anyone had penetrated those wards, it would have been unauthorised. My theory is that Umbridge managed to install the Eyelets during the time Dumbledore's [the late Professor Albus Dumbledore, former Headmaster of Hogwarts and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot -Ed.] magic failed after his death. The school stood unprotected for about a day before Headmistress McGonagall was able to recreate the wards."
On the subject of how he knew it was Dolores Umbridge and not someone else, Potter smiles darkly. "I just had a feeling it was her," he says. "She's got no reason to love the school..."
Draco lowered the newspaper, letting it fall over his unfinished scone. His coffee had gone cold, but he felt too nauseated to drink it, anyway. So Potter had solved the Eyelet mystery, after all. A curious sort of jealousy stung Draco; he could have been a part of that.
Draco exhaled slowly. He suddenly became aware of something hard pressing up against his arse. "You're a dog, Potter," he said resignedly. "More on the point, what the hell was that?" Potter fidgeted against him, and Draco stepped away, irritated. He turned around. "Take that bloody thing off."
The cloak slid off, and Potter stuffed it into his pocket carelessly. "That," he said, adjusting the front of his jeans, "was someone retrieving an Eyelet device and installing a new one."
He had been one of the first and only people to know about the Eyelets, but after the horrible scene at the Three Broomsticks, Potter had stopped telling Draco anything, even during their affair's brief revival. So many memories.
Clutching the newspaper, Draco rose and strode into the manor. He had put it off for far too long. He didn't even know why; every time he'd intended to use the Dreamcatcher since coming home, something always interfered, and by this time, Draco often caught himself feeling reluctant to use it. He had destroyed the memory of that first night in June immediately, as a test. Now, he did not remember what happened that night; his story about having passed out and woken up naked was now officially true. But he still remembered everything that happened later, and he still knew that something had happened that night in June, even though he had no idea what it was exactly. He remembered Potter, drunk, telling him about it, but being told something happened to you was not the same as having experienced it.
The Dreamcatcher stood on Draco's bedside cabinet, and Draco suddenly knew that he would go through with it today. He had the whole day all to himself -- his mother had gone into the Ministry for damage control; Umbridge had been close to the Malfoys once upon a time. He put the Daily Prophet down on the bed and took his wand out of his pocket.
Retrieving memories for the Dreamcatcher was exactly the same as with Pensieves, but every time Draco placed a memory into the device, he felt a brief echo somewhere deep in his gut, like the whir of a lock mechanism. He closed his eyes and thought back to the Hogwarts Express, where everything had started.
Whir-click.. Bumping into Potter in the corridor, spending the remainder of the trip not knowing that Potter was in the same compartment. Sticky, uncomfortable thoughts to the amorphous night in June which no longer held any meaning but made Draco feel uncomfortable as fuck.
Whir-click.. The Welcoming Feast and the Order of Merlin awards ceremony. Draco registered a few periods of blankness, as though he had been thinking about something, but didn't know what. He supposed it must have been That Night in June. At least he had his answer now -- once a memory was destroyed, it was gone forever, and all references to it became distorted, periods of numb blankness that could not be explained. He could live with those, couldn't he? He would have no choice, now. The process had begun, and he had to finish it.
Whir-click. After the awards ceremony, Potter had cornered Draco and asked him if he remembered... something. That night again. Draco felt irritated; he really didn't remember, now, but Potter's looks and questions were making him uncomfortable. Into the Dreamcatcher.
Whir-click. The trip to the library, looking for a way to turn a memory into a dream. Into the Dreamcatcher it went, along with all recollection of those foul books about homosexuality. Talking to Ginny and finding out that Potter had gone looking for him. He didn't need to remember that; it led to thoughts that Draco didn't want to have again.
One by one by one, every memory of thinking about Potter in that way went into the Dreamcatcher. Draco wasn't even bothering to discriminate by degree; any hint of lust had to be gone. He was amazed at just how much thoughts of Potter had dominated his mind that year. He had to be careful not to erase too much, so he pulled tiny strands one after another, out and out and away, until the whir-clicks became so overwhelming that he had to stop and rest.
Whir-click. The conversation with Zabini about being Potter's friend -- into the Dreamcatcher. Especially the part where Draco appreciated Zabini's bare torso. Then he remembered staring at Finnigan at the Three Broomsticks and consigned that to the Dreamcatcher, too. Those had been isolated incidents, though; except for them, Draco's mind had been occupied exclusively by Potter. It seemed rather pathetic, now, even as he felt sweat beading across the top of his forehead at the memories of what they'd done together.
Whir-click. Every exchange of glances, every word, every thought. Into the Dreamcatcher. Draco remembered not wanting to sleep in the same room with Potter. Whir-click, into the Dreamcatcher. Every conversation he had with Potter, alone; every time they so much as spent two seconds alone together. Draco's obsessive thoughts hadn't been as bad when other people had been around, but some of those conversations had to be wiped, too, careful tiny strings of light and darkness. The closer Draco got to the end of the year, the more he began to worry that he'd forget important things that had nothing to with Potter, and so he tried his best to be more precise.
The sex was the hardest part. Draco had to stop and wank several times as he forced their encounters into the forefront of his mind. Without that temporary release, everything in him screamed at him to stop doing this, to stop trying to forget it, because those stolen moments were some of the best memories of his life. He hadn't realised that, at the time, but now that he was looking at them in perspective, he knew. It was too late to stop, though, and Draco didn't want to stop, anyway. He had a duty to his parents, to his own conscience.
By the late afternoon, Draco was reeling with exhaustion. He lay naked on his bed, bathed in sweat, his mind a whirling mess of images and sounds. He had not forgotten anything yet, and that was the worst part. He would need to sleep before he forgot, but he didn't think he could sleep with his brain so wound up. At this time, he couldn't even afford to sleep. If he did, he would forget everything he'd managed to place in the Dreamcatcher, and he might not be able to reconstruct the rest of his year. He fought to keep his eyes open, but his hand was already closing around his cock, hard again at an unbidden image of Potter standing in the doorway, naked, watching Draco with that dark smile the Prophet had mentioned.
He would walk across the room to Draco and straddle him, hold him down and kiss him, slow and careful like a dream. He would push Draco's legs apart and tease stroke caress his inner thighs until Draco thrashed and quivered and begged. He would slowly push his finger into Draco even as Draco murmured, "no fucking, please, that makes it real", and Draco would cry out as one finger became two and three, as Potter loomed up above him and entered him, one swift and careful motion. "This is real," he would say to Draco, and he would start to move, guiding Draco's hips to roll and meet him mid-stroke, and Draco would be lost.
Draco would watch Potter's jaw tighten, watch colour spread across his chest as he got close, and Potter would whisper things that made Draco flush even deeper, do you like that, you're so beautiful, mine. Potter's hands would leave bruises on Draco's skin as he came. The bruises would fade from red to blue to yellow, and then Potter would fuck him again. And again.
With an anguished, desperate wail that didn't want to end, Draco fucked his own hand so harshly that it hurt, but he still came, warm and messy splatters landing next to older, sticky ones on his chest, on the bed sheets. Chest heaving, he looked down at himself, feeling dirty and ashamed.
Whir-click. It was over. That had been the last fantasy, the worst fantasy of all. He stumbled to the shower, still trembling all over, and hoping he would have time to clean up before his mother returned from her trip to the Ministry. After he'd showered, Draco stood in front of the full-length mirror and stared at himself. His cock hung so limp that he didn't think he'd ever manage to get it up again. There was a dull throb in his groin that wouldn't go away. His eyes were grave and solemn; they didn't look like they belonged on his face, so young and clean.
As he walked back to the bed, Draco heard Ginny's voice, admonitory but shaking. "He's in love with you."
"Fuck you," said Draco to the voice. "Fuck him." He glanced at the morning's copy of the Prophet, which had fallen to the foot of the bed. A small drop of Draco's come had landed across the photograph of a grim-eyed Potter. In the photograph, Potter kept casting suspicious glances at the droplet. Draco bit his lip to keep from grinning. If only Potter knew what Draco had spent his afternoon doing.
But he will never know, and neither will anyone else.
On a whim, Draco picked up the paper and finished reading the article. It contained nothing surprising: the Ministry recovered quickly, throwing all the blame onto Umbridge and firing her summarily pending the outcome of the trial. Moody had been wrong about Potter's influence, after all. They had all been wrong. The quack Seer had been wrong about Draco, too.
Draco's eyes cut to the piece of bright green parchment that had arrived with yesterday's post. It was an invitation to Millicent and Longbottom's wedding. A week after the trip back from Hogwarts, Millicent had finally told Draco what Slughorn's Wisdom had said to her on the night of the party.
"She said I had to stay close to Neville, because together we'd do something great."
Draco snorted. "Yes, you will make every single Slytherin who's ever shared a roof with you lose their lunches simultaneously."
Millicent gave him a sharp look. "Every single Slytherin?"
Draco pretended to stroke his beard. "Well, with a few notable exceptions. Just please don't tell me you proposed to him," he joked.
"Actually, he proposed to me."
Draco gaped at her. "And you said yes?" She nodded. Draco gaped some more. "But you've barely finished school!"
Millicent shrugged. "I'm about to leave for Auror training. I'd rather he's well and married to me before I go away for three years."
Draco groaned. "Don't tell me that you're doing this because of what some crazy old woman said to you during a seance."
"Of course not," said Millicent with an expressive eyeroll. "I rather enjoy Neville. He's a sweet boy, and strong, exactly the sort of husband my mother would have chosen for me. And, as soon as NEWT results are in, he's the official heir to the Longbottoms' fortune."
"That's more like it," said Draco, mollified. Marrying for love was as ridiculous as marrying for some crone's prediction, but marrying for status and money, he could understand. Though from the fond, reminiscent look on Millicent's broad face, somehow he reckoned that the money was only a secondary consideration for her. She could be such a girl sometimes.
Draco looked away from the wedding invitation. The so-called Wisdom had been a fraud, but a clever one. She'd undoubtedly seen the glances Longbottom was casting at Millicent even then, and used the information to help him along a bit. As for what she'd told Draco, it was merely a lucky coincidence. He only saw what he did in the crystal ball because that was what he'd been preoccupied with, not because she made it so. Whir-click, went the memory.
Within an hour, Draco had disposed of the remainder -- memories of the past few weeks, all recollection of finding out about Dreamcatchers, making the Dreamcatcher, buying the Black family book and finding out what it did. He couldn't afford to stumble upon the book and read about all this, so it was best if he forgot it, even if it was one of the most important heirlooms of his mother's family.
He wrote a letter to Zabini, telling him that his forgetting experiment had been successful, and that next time they met, he would have no recollection of any of it. Draco was fairly certain he could trust Zabini to recognise that it would not be in his best interests to make an enemy of Draco Malfoy. Besides, Zabini had never seen Draco with Potter. If he tried anything with the little information he did have, Draco could deal with him. And he wouldn't even need to feign innocence.
He wrote a longer letter to Millicent, an honest letter that told the whole story of the Dreamcatcher. Millicent had been the best thing that had happened during his horrid seventh year; he'd made a friend, a real friend, and he intended to keep her. After a moment's thought, Draco charmed both letters to self-destruct as soon as they were read.
The only other people who knew were Potter and Ginny Weasley, but Draco had to accept that he could have no control over them. Without his memories to make him incriminate himself, they could say whatever they wanted, and Draco could deny what they said even under Veritaserum.
He carried the Dreamcatcher into his mother's bedroom and set it down on her bedside cabinet, along with a note:
This is the device I told you about. Destroy it, please, and never let me see or know about the book I gave you for Christmas. I'll see you tomorrow. Pleasant dreams.
With a curiously heavy feeling deep in his chest, Draco walked back to his bedroom and collapsed into a dream sooner than his head hit the pillow.
Cheerful birdsong woke Draco from a dream he'd thought would never end; brilliant sunshine suffused his bedroom, and the air smelled fresh and clean.
It took him a minute to remember that he wasn't asleep any more, to remember that he was done with his NEWTs now, that he was waiting for Auror training to begin in September so that he could have a chance at saving his father. The only thing he didn't understand was why he hadn't made any plans for the summer with his former housemates, especially Pansy. Then he remembered that he and Pansy had broken up, that he had gone out with Daphne Greengrass for a few weeks, and then... Draco frowned, sitting up. His mother didn't want him to marry; that was it. Not yet, anyway.
Regardless, he would need to take someone to Millicent's wedding -- who would have thought? Millicent Longbottom! -- and if he didn't step up his game, all the good-looking girls would be going with others. Draco hurried downstairs to breakfast. His mother smiled at him, but her eyes looked worried for some reason. He gave her a kiss on the cheek, sat down across from her, and reached for the coffee pot.
"How are you feeling?" asked Narcissa.
Draco looked up at her. "Fine? Why, was I ill yesterday? I can't seem to remember what I was doing yesterday. Isn't that strange?" He realised he really couldn't recall much of the previous day. He remembered reading the article about Potter's newest heroic exploit... then he was in his bedroom for a while, and then he might've gone for a walk... or taken a late nap... or turned in early...
"You were a little under the weather," said Narcissa, her eyes on her butter knife. "But you're all better now."
"Obviously," agreed Draco. "I'm so hungry I could eat a Hippogriff." He eyed the impressive stack of toast in front of him and wondered if he ought to ask his mother for advice on whom to take to the wedding.