Summary: After the war, reconciliation between enemies is necessary to create a better future, one that is only possible if one embraces the past.
Chapters Posted: 27
Words Posted: 181,444
Disclaimer: Harry Potter, his friends, his enemies, and the lovely world they live in all belong to JK Rowling.
Notes: Look! It's a chapter. I wish I wrote fast and prolific. One thing in this chapter... Draco uses Hell as an exclamation in one of his thoughts. I know he wouldn't use that word, as it does not seem to fit into his experience, but I could not think of another that carried the same feeling. Merlin didn't seem to fit. Good grief was too many words. If anyone has a better suggestion, I am happy to fix it!
Thanks: You have Badgerlady to thank for catching my punctuation and capitalization errors (I spent too long in Germany and have my sense of where commas go is from there (at the end of every clause, thank you very much). Thanks to Crescent for catching a grammatical error that I had heretofore not known was an error. I learned something! THANK YOU to both of you!
Continued from Chapter 26
Room of Requirement Report, Take 1
Tuesday, June 9, 1998
The next day, when Potter joined the work party, he broached the subject of the Room of Hidden Things as they were gathering their gloves and brushes. They had moved on from the Astronomy Tower and were back in a classroom on the main floor.
"I went to the Room of Requirement."
Draco turned to look at him, waiting for the next pearls to drip from Potter's mouth.
"It doesn't look good."
"Do enlighten us, Potter. What exactly does not good mean? Does the room function?"
"Erm… Mostly. The walls flickered a bit. Parts of them turned to stone walls, and then back. So, I tried looking at it."
"Instead of keeping your eyes closed. Yes, that would be useful."
"No, I mean, the way you look at magic."
"What are you nattering on about, Potter?"
"You, know, when you shift your vision. To see the glows."
"The... glows." Draco was starting to get a horrible feeling in the pit of his stomach.
"I saw you working the other day. I wanted to see how it worked, so I put myself into the frame of mind I need to be in to draw the runes. To ... oh, I remember, to engage the ambient magic."
"And then you saw glows." Draco's voice was flat.
"Yes. I finally saw what you were talking about. I saw the magic."
Potter had awe in his voice. He should. Draco had never, not once in all the time he had been drawing runes, seen more than the occasional flicker. He could sense the magic and knew just where to catch it with his brush. He had a feel for magic that was even stronger than his father's. He had, however, never seen it fully. Did Potter have his finger tapped into a ley line? How could someone so bloody ordinary- Draco stopped himself. Potter only looked ordinary. Hell, half the time he looked like an itinerant Muggle.
He also could do wandless magic, after a moment of practice. He was accepted as head of house Black. Draco knew the Black family-his mother had made sure he knew of her heritage-and they would not have accepted someone who was unable to encompass the role, eventually, no matter who put what in their sodding will. Potter could also, apparently, see magic.
He kept his voice even, almost disinterested. "So, Potter, when you werespying on us, what did you see? How did the magic look to you?"
Potter didn't answer right away. Draco was beginning to think that he would refuse, when the words tumbled out, as if unwilling.
"Beautiful. It glowed, some of it flowing like liquid pearls, and some like a river of glowing black. Moving. Dancing. You know."
Potter's voice drifted off, as if he no longer realized who he was talking to. Draco watched as Potter's eyes grew unfocussed, watching something none of the others could see. Then he blinked, shook himself, and gave Draco a hard glare, as if daring him to take advantage of Potter's brief moment of abstraction.
Draco was not about to denigrate this ability, even in Potter. Draco was also not about to tell Potter that he did not know.
"So, what did you see in the Room?"
Potter hesitated, his head jerking back as if to deny something. What had Potter conjured up in the room to cause that expression? Draco wanted to press, but Potter would probably not tell him, and it was a distraction from what was important. He could always find out later. He tucked the thought away to mull strategies in that creative part of his brain that worked better without oversight.
"How did the magic look?" Draco felt odd even asking the question. It was personal, it was something special. And he was asking it of Potter, who had no right to that kind of ability. The world was surely about to tilt on its axis.
"Staticy, like lightning. Erratic." Potter paused, before uttering the final condemning word. "Wrong."
Draco couldn't stop himself from sneering. "How did you become such an expert on when magic feels wrong, Potter?"
"Fine. You're the expert, oh great and mighty pureblood. You go look. Oh, wait, you can't. You have to get permission from your keepers. Go on then. Ask them." Potter gestured toward the guard, right down the hall. He had that self-righteous expression that Gryffindors get that says they know they are better than anyone else.
Draco turned toward the guard. "Excuse me, sir." Politeness was a tool, after all. He had learnt that a bit late to acquire Potter as a friend in first year, but he had, eventually learnt it.
The guard turned with a sneer. "What do you want?"
"It has come to my attention that there is a place that needs cleansing, that could well affect the rest of the castle."
"I don't choose where you are to go, that is up to Filch."
Draco suspected it was up to McGonagall, which meant it was probably something his mother had a say in. He would, however, need to stay on the guards' good side.
"Then I need to speak with Mr Filch."
"Too bad for you, then."
"It is a matter of the safety of Hogwarts. Everyone residing or working within the castle is at risk if this is not done properly."
The guard harrumphed, but said. "I'll pass it on, when there is someone to pass it on to."
He then leaned back against the wall and stared at Draco. "Hadn't you better get back to work?"
"He's not going to leave us alone, Draco," Daphne commented. "Wait until the shift changes. The next guard can be sent to bring Filch, or the Headmistress."
Draco turned toward the team, which had all gathered in the meantime. "Alright then, let's get working."
Adrian was again delegated to look after the Cauldron, Potter to protecting, which he had taken to a bit too easily.
* * *
When the shift changed, Harry watched as Malfoy did indeed manage to get the second guard to bring not Filch, but McGonagall. Actually, Harry could probably have acquired permission for the two of them, but Malfoy had taken point, and watching Malfoy negotiate was enlightening. Harry wondered if Malfoy had always been skilled at negotiation and manipulation, or if it was a recent development. He had always been so angry at Malfoy when he got his way-usually in something that obstructed Harry-that he had never stopped to consider how he got his way. Harry thought back... he had assumed that Malfoy used his father's influence, waving it around like an oversized club, as he had when he was eleven.
Malfoy used no club here, nor were his words full of bluster and scorn, as was typical of his interactions with Harry. Instead, his words were as deft as the complicated wand movements of some of the sixth year charms. Harry was not surprised when he got his way.
Most of the team were escorted back to the dungeons, some giving Malfoy speculative glances. Pansy Parkinson glared at both Harry and Malfoy as she walked past.
Investigating the Room of Requirement, Take 2
McGonagall led the way, followed by Draco and then Potter, with an Auror bringing up the rear. It seemed a bit excessive, but he supposed if he made a mad dash for McGonagall's wand, and withstood whatever pain or stunner the contact with a wand would trigger from his cuff, he could maybe cause some damage before he fell. Draco was not suicidal, however, nor particularly interested in pain.
When they got to the seventh floor, McGonagall turned to Potter. "You know how to get into this room, Mr Potter?"
Draco wondered at that. Was it possible that McGonagall had never had need to enter? He was sure Dumbledore had known how to enter the room. Then he considered that he had worked in it for almost a year, secure in the assumption that no one else knew about it. It had been so dusty, full of detritus decades old. He had been surprised that Potter had known about it, so why was he now surprised that McGonagall did not?
It was because of the battle, he realized. He had opened the way for Death Eaters to enter at the end of his sixth year; he had opened the way for Hogwarts to be damaged, for his aunt Bellatrix to prance through casting curses, destroying the strength and beauty of his school. Surely afterward they would have investigated, closed any remaining secret entrances?
But then Dumbledore had been killed, not by Draco's hand, but on his behalf, and the responsibility for the castle was taken from her. Snape had taken over, and the Carrows had come to teach, and Hogwarts had become a nightmare, even, he admitted, for himself.
Potter turned to Draco. "What room shall we call up?"
"What do you mean?"
"What shape should the room take?" The question told Draco more about the room, and Potter's knowledge of it, than Potter knew.
Draco didn't want to say it, but it was necessary. "Shouldn't we look at the place where the worst spells were cast?"
He remembered the fire, surrounding him. His dreams since then had been full with flame, with friends dying, reaching toward him, and with Draco himself, consumed by flames. He was not ready to face this, but there was no other choice.
Potter gave a grim nod. He paced in front of the wall until a door opened. McGonagall gave Potter a nod. "Are you ready?" Draco had never heard gentleness in her normally stern voice. Potter nodded again and opened the door. Neither one asked Draco if he was ready, although Potter did glance his way briefly before turning the knob.
Draco winced at the smell that wafted out. It smelled of sulphur and burnt wood. He told himself that he was imagining the smell of cooked meat. It had been a month; surely the smell would have dissipated by now.
The room had clearly not been opened since then, not to this space. Perhaps the Room of Hidden Things kept things preserved, held in the same state as the last time it was opened. No. The room was different from the last time he had been here.
The walls were bare; only the magic of the room had protected them from the all-devouring fire. Clumps of charred remains littered the floor, but not nearly enough. Normal fire would have left far more. The room was almost bare. No flame remained, though. The Fiendfyre had burnt itself out. Draco had not known, until that moment, that it was possible. He realised how foolhardy it had been to open the door to that room. What might they have unleashed? Necessity. Draco had learnt to understand necessity in the past two years.
Potter made to enter the room but Draco called out, "Wait."
Surprisingly, Potter paused, turning his head to glance questioningly at Draco.
"We need to determine the state of the magic."
"I'll just look at the magic. Won't that tell me?"
Draco repressed his envy. "I suppose you think you'll understand what you are seeing?"
Potter gazed at him, not just reacting, as Draco had expected, but actually seeming to consider Draco's question.
"What do you suggest?"
"Let me sense the room. I've been trained from childhood to read ambience." He might not be able to see it as Potter could, Draco thought, but he could interpret what he sensed.
Potter nodded to McGonagall, who gestured for the guard to allow Draco to approach the door.
The room's magic was definitely on the precipice. Pulling in his magic, making sure he was completely within his skin, he extended his perception. There was something strange about the room, about the magic. He balanced himself on his feet, relaxing, finding a point of equilibrium where everything was calm, and cast out again to sense it.
There was flow. He followed it as it split and expanded. He couldn't sense the ends of the flow, but it was well integrated with the flow of the castle. No wonder he'd had to use the stronger protection runes to keep the areas he had already cleansed clear. No wonder his team had had to re-cleanse several rooms.
The magic here pulsed, each burst as if it were being created anew. If Draco were prone to fantasy, he would have said there was a heartbeat. He did recognize what he was sensing, though. This room was the foundation of Hogwarts, or at least a manifestation of something much deeper. It was connected to the core of it. Draco suspected that Vince, with one unthinking spell, had caused more damage to Hogwarts than all of the dark curses from Voldemort himself. Vince had cast dark, destructive magic that touched the core, the heart of the castle itself.
How could he not have sensed it, in all the months he spent working on that cursed cabinet? He knew he had been focussed, despairing of ever finishing it, worrying about what would happen to his parents if he failed, and trying not to worry about what would happen to Hogwarts if he succeeded.
Now that he was paying attention, he could feel it, how the magic here extended out into magical Britain, carried by each student. For a brief moment he could sense it: a vast web connecting everyone who had learned and lived in these halls.
Suddenly, Draco couldn't breathe. It had been so close! It could have all fallen apart, before they even knew what they were about to lose. Hogwarts could have fallen, could have been destroyed, by those who had no idea of the value of their history. The Dark-Voldemort attracted those who wanted to destroy, as well as those who wanted to protect their heritage, and those wild, destructive followers could have destroyed not only Hogwarts, but their entire way of life, far more than any Muggleborn pushing their way in.
Not caring how it would look, he ran out of the Room, falling to his hands and knees and retching. He could see out of the corner of his eyes that the Auror had his wand trained on him, looking ready to curse him. Draco didn't care, just then. He shook with all they could have lost.
Potter had saved them. The thought made him ill. Potter had saved them. In defeating the Dark Lord, Potter had saved Hogwarts, had saved Draco's family along with every other Wizarding family, and that also made Draco feel sick.
The magic of Hogwarts flowed in every witch and wizard in Britain, and Crabbe might have broken it at its core. All because he felt powerful with a Dark Mark on his arm.
Cascading awareness broke over him, and Draco understood, in a way Potter never could, even with his ability to see magic and all the rest of his excessive abilities.
Despite the unfortunate destruction of his composure, Draco never lost awareness of his surroundings and, given the heightened state of his consciousness, of the magic around him. In fact, he was more aware than he had ever been. He sensed McGonagall's restraining presence, which was, he was certain, the only reason he had not been hexed into small pieces. He didn't want to see what was on Potter's face. The possibilities were numerous, gloating and pity at the forefront, but the only thing he could feel from him was the wild chaos that surrounded him. It was as if Potter carried pure change with him, as if he was always on a precipice of a choice that would change their world. He had done it twice now.
There was room for a third time and, even without the new understanding he had just gained, Draco would have wanted to be part of the next one, to help shape it. If he could only restrain his irritation at Potter's Gryffindor tendencies, his ridiculous unearned skills, and his sheer blind luck, he might succeed this time. They could heal Hogwarts and find a way to bring back the declining Wizarding traditions at the same time.
He had to know. He turned his heightened awareness to Potter. Vertigo assailed him and he held himself very still to keep from reeling from it. Whatever Potter was, it was one discovery too many for Draco. He would have to consider how Potter's state could be factored into his plans. First, before anything, Hogwarts had to be healed, lest Wizarding Britain collapse from the damage at its core.
When he could finally trust himself to speak again, he looked up. McGonagall stood next to the Auror with a restraining hand on his wand arm, and Potter stared at Draco looking as if he were on the verge of something, a discovery or some bodily function, Draco couldn't tell which.
"We cannot cleanse Hogwarts until this room is healed."
* * *
The result of Draco's statement was a gathering in the Headmistress's office. The speed with which she gathered the necessary parties was astounding, and reminded Draco of his mother at her most efficient. The first thing he had told McGonagall was that his mother should be brought to see the room. Her skills in this area were above those of most others in the Wizarding world. McGonagall agreed, but also called in the head of the Auror team that was supervising them, the one that was testing their work afterward, and an Unspeakable, who had not been named. Potter had also been included, despite the fact that his knowledge and experience were lacking. Perhaps McGonagall knew of Potter's unearned abilities.
In any case, Draco was there, and the six of them might very well shape the future of Hogwarts, through the magic that coursed through it. He was glad for his mother's presence, not as his mother, but as a witch with Slytherin cunning matched by intelligence and political awareness. He was even glad for Potter's presence, if what he suspected about Potter were true. Draco had rarely had such a clear sense of magic as he had had just then in the Room of Hidden Things and, if he sensed correctly, Potter was one of those who would create possibility where none existed before. Potter's presence meant their efforts could succeed.
Draco had heard of people like Potter, but it had never occurred to him that Potter was one. It had only taken a moment to sense it, but when would he have had the opportunity to observe Potter's magic while his senses were wide open? A book he once read called such a person a nexus of possibility. Draco knew what a good Slytherin would do upon discovering one, and he had been raised to be the best Slytherin had to offer.
* * *
Malfoy kept staring at him.
It even took a moment, when Harry glanced in Malfoy's direction, before the blond would catch himself and stare with apparent fascination at a pile of papers on McGonagall's desk, or scan the titles on one of the bookshelves. A few moments later, Harry would catch him again. Malfoy had a look on his face as if he were trying to work something out. It wasn't a vindictive face. There was no smirk, no sense that he was trying to determine how best to make Harry's life miserable. If Harry didn't know better, he would have thought it was fascination.
The sound of the door opening gave Harry an excuse to turn away, and an Auror guided Mrs Malfoy in. She turned toward him and extended a pale hand, as if she wanted Harry to kiss it. "Mr Potter."
He reached out and shook the extended hand, feeling awkward. Except for the funeral, he hadn't seen her since she protected his secret from Voldemort, saving his life. The war could have turned out so differently, were it not for her.
"Mrs Malfoy." He momentarily wished he had the social grace to know what to say to the woman who stood beside someone who had tried to kill him, whose whole family followed the monster who killed his parents, and yet was also the woman who later saved his life. A murmur in his head nudged him. "It is..." he tried to think of an appropriate adjective, but 'good to see you again' just wasn't true. He trailed off awkwardly. He judged from her expression that she knew full well what he had not said. Fortunately, she didn't look offended, and not really amused either. "I never thanked you for what you did, back there."
Harry wished he were anywhere else. He wished he had said something at Tonks and Remus' funeral, just to be done with it, although he suspected that would have made that day even harder.
"We can discuss such things later," she said, her voice calm and quiet. Harry had a feeling he was missing something. The murmur in his head seemed to agree.
McGonagall led the discussion with the firm hand she used in her classroom, calling on each person in the room in turn. When it came to Malfoy's turn, right after Harry described what led them to investigate the Room of Requirement, Harry was sure he held something back, but he did explain, in the clear words Harry had become used to when Malfoy explained about the theory behind some piece of magic.
"Why did you... what made you...?" Harry wished he had Malfoy's grace.
McGonagall took the lead. "What was it that so affected you?" she asked Malfoy, her tone somehow both gentle and firm, brooking no nonsense or refusal.
"The room is the magical core of Hogwarts."
Harry wasn't sure what that meant. Surely the Great Hall carried the core of Hogwarts. It was where the Sorting happened and where the students gathered. His first view of the Great Hall had shaped his sense of everything about Hogwarts: the wonder of the enchanted ceiling, the feeling of all of them gathered together. Even the things he hated that happened there were part of his sense of Hogwarts: Snape, glaring at him, Umbridge giving her initial speech, the Goblet of Fire spitting out his name.
The final battle. No. That was not part of Hogwarts. That was an intrusion.
A look of comprehension dawned over Mrs Malfoy's face, bringing Harry out of his musings. Until that moment, he wouldn't have thought her face was capable of such a revealing expression.
"How far?" she asked her son.
"Everyone. All of us."
A look of horror crossed her face before it fell into an impassive mask. She looked around the room, taking note of each person there, before turning to McGonagall. "We need privacy. Mr Potter, my son, and the two of us need to discuss this."
"I'm afraid I don't understand..."
Harry was glad he wasn't the only one.
"What my son is about to tell you-" Harry saw Malfoy give a horrified shake of his head-"What he has to say must remain between us. A magical binding, as I am informed that Mr Potter is not skilled in the art of Occlumency."
"I'm afraid my own skill is fairly basic as well. It is a relatively rare art." Harry's mind flashed to when Dumbledore had insisted he learn Occlumency from Snape. Only Dumbledore and Snape had been considered as possible teachers. He had been so focussed on hating that Snape was teaching him, that it hadn't really occurred to him how rare the skill was. Apparently the two Slytherins had the skill, however, enough for Mrs Malfoy to rely on it in their case.
"It's that important?" McGonagall asked.
"It is both crucial that you understand and that it not become public."
McGonagall turned to the two Aurors in the room. "Please wait outside."
The younger Auror turned to go almost automatically. Harry thought with amusement that he had the same instinctive obedience to McGonagall that any student at Hogwarts acquired at first meeting her. The elder Auror, a woman with leathery skin shaped by the wrinkles seen in those who spend a lot of time outside, was made of sterner stuff. Perhaps she had been at Hogwarts before McGonagall became a teacher. "I must protest," she insisted. "We are here to ensure your safety, as well as their continued captivity."
"They have their restraining anklets. They have no wands. Should they try to take one from either Mr Potter or myself, they will immediately fall unconscious. I do not believe there is a danger."
The Auror hesitated.
The Auror glared at the two Malfoys. "If you step so much as one toe out of line, I will hear of it, and it will not be pleasant for you." She turned sharply and marched out and down the stairs. If it had been a student, Harry was certain they would be stomping, yet despite the Auror's ire, he barely heard her retreating footfalls.
Mrs Malfoy turned to McGonagall. Harry wondered if there was amusement in her face, but couldn't quite tell. "Privacy charm, please."
McGonagall's wand movements were quick and precise, and her office became quiet, distant sounds fading into nothing. She turned to Malfoy. "Begin."
Malfoy was silent for a bit and then nodded, as if deciding something.
"Pureblood witches and wizards are connected," he said, looking at McGonagall as if expecting her to refute him.
"If this is going to be more of that-" Harry's protest burst out before he thought about it.
"There is a reason-" Malfoy started heatedly, turning to him in frustrated anger, but then stopped himself. "No, you need to understand this." He paused. "For generations, pureblood witches and wizards have strengthened the connections between us. There are rituals within families, and rituals between families to renew those connections."
"Like the way you are all related?"
"We are interrelated, Potter. I think you would know this, considering you are the head of my mother's birth family. But I'm not talking about blood relationships, not entirely. Our magic is connected." Malfoy got a strange look on his face. "You, of all people, don't have to take it on faith. Look at us, Potter. Look the way I taught you." Mrs Malfoy turned suddenly to stare at her son, in what was perhaps the most honest expression Harry had ever seen on her face, and then turned to look at Harry. Her gaze was disconcerting, as if she was trying to figure out a puzzle. Something Malfoy had said startled her.
"Look between my mother and me. Merlin, look between you and me, for that matter."
Harry stared at Malfoy for a moment. What could it hurt? He let his eyes go unfocussed, looking not quite at either Malfoy or his mother.
He began to see what Malfoy was talking about. There was a thick band of light between Malfoy and his mother. Harry knew Mrs Malfoy loved her son, so that made sense. Strangely, when he turned his attention to it, he saw there was another thick band of light between Harry and Malfoy. It seemed enmity, or whatever it was now, built as much of a connection as love. Harry was really glad that Voldemort was dead. He did not want to think of what that connection looked like. As dark as the wisps that rose from the Horcruxes when they were destroyed, Harry supposed. The idea of something like that connecting to him made him nauseated.
"Oh, of course." Malfoy's mouth twisted into a sneer. "Hero Potter can't bear the thought of being connected with the likes of us!" Malfoy must have caught the look on his face and misinterpreted it.
"No, it's…" He supposed it didn't matter. "I was thinking of another connection. One I am glad is gone."
"Oh. Oh!" The disgust on Malfoy's face must be very close to what his own had shown. "Indeed."
Malfoy shook his head as if to rid himself of the image of that.
Mrs Malfoy turned to face Harry. It wasn't just her face, she turned her whole body, even tipping her knees in his direction. Harry doubted he had ever had anyone pay such intense attention to him. "I wish to clarify something my son said." Harry barely noticed Malfoy give a quick shake of his head, but Mrs Malfoy continued. If she had seen her son's movement, she ignored it. "You see the Magic, Mr Potter?"
"Malfoy-your son taught me how. Erm... wasn't he supposed to?" Harry once would have been amused at the idea of getting Malfoy into trouble with his mother, but... Harry realized to his surprise that he really liked learning from the pureblood ponce.
"It is not forbidden, just... unexpected. I should like to discuss what you have learned at some other time, when we no longer have pressing matters to attend to."
Malfoy seemed to relax, his shoulders dropping slightly.
Mrs Malfoy nodded to her son. "Continue." Did she actually sound intrigued by what he might say next?
"In the same way that magic connects people, it also shows the attachment of people and places, buildings, things. Potter... can you see something between you and Hogwarts?"
Malfoy's voice was diffident, but the words themselves evoked the sense of home he always had from Hogwarts. Could he see that? He realized that McGonagall and Mrs Malfoy were both watching him. Why wasn't Malfoy explaining this to McGonagall as he had started to? Why was it suddenly all about what Harry could see? Instead of Malfoy explaining to McGonagall what was so bloody important, Malfoy had turned it into an impromptu teaching session.
"What do you see when you look at Hogwarts, Professor McGonagall? I mean, Headmistress?"
"I will always be a professor, Mr Potter, which is why I wish to hear what you see."
Harry almost didn't want to look. What if there was nothing? What if the link had been damaged by the battle, or superseded when he took on House Black? But underneath the fear, he remembered how Hogwarts had always felt like home. He looked.
He had become more accustomed to shifting his vision; the more he did it, the faster he could switch focus. Swirls of light came into focus, surrounding him like a nest. It felt safer than it had elsewhere, as if this room preserved the heart of what Hogwarts was, and kept it protected. He reached out to one.
It swirled around his finger, winding up his arm like a snake. The comparison didn't bother him, just then, with the way the rest of the swirls of light wrapped around him, like a comforting blanket. How had he never noticed this before?
"Mr Potter?" The voice was faint.
"Potter!" Why did Malfoy sound panicked?
He turned to face the voice, noticing how the light swayed tentatively between him and a pale, human shape, reaching out from each toward the other. His view of it gave way and the shape resolved into a blond head. Just for a second, there was concern on those pale features, but that smoothed over so fast that Harry thought he must have imagined it. "Do you have no sense of self-preservation, Potter?"
Harry shook his head to clear the last of the glowing strands of light from his sight.
"I thought not," Malfoy said, his smug features a perfect match to the sardonic tone.
"That's not what I-never mind."
"What did you see?"
"Whatever happened to damage Hogwarts, it did not reach this room. It is-" It sounded stupid to say, but Harry went ahead anyway. "It's safe here."
"So you decided to dance with the magic?" Was Malfoy laughing at him? Surely he had done the same at some point. Harry thought for a moment. He had been to Malfoy Manor and to the Slytherin rooms. Perhaps Malfoy had never been somewhere where the magic felt so...Harry didn't finish the thought this time.
He reviewed his actions and realized he must have looked like Luna, just then, reaching out to touch something invisible to common sight. He wondered if she saw this all the time. It would explain a lot. It was not, however, a look he wanted to cultivate, especially not in front of Malfoy, either the son or the mother.
"It sounds as if this room is protected from the rest of the castle," Mrs Malfoy said.
"It does sound like something Albus would do," McGonagall added.
"Or any of the previous headmasters, or indeed, one of the founders," Mrs Malfoy corrected her, with cool indifference.
"While that is fascinating, we are getting off topic. Mr Malfoy, you were explaining what you perceived in the Room that had such an effect on you."
"The Room we just visited is not only the core of Hogwarts, it is the core of the British Wizarding world."
"I don't understand what that means," Harry said. The look on McGonagall's face told him that this was something that he needed to understand.
"It means, Potter, that if we do not cleanse Hogwarts, then every witch and wizard that has been educated here will eventually have their magic sicken. It could mean the end of the British magical population." Malfoy seemed to have got over his reluctance to speak clearly and continued. "Hogwarts became part of all of us. We came here right when we were starting to learn magic, and the very foundation of our magic is intertwined with Hogwarts' magic."
He turned to his mother. "Vincent Crabbe cast Fiendfyre while standing in the core of Hogwarts. He might as well have cast a curse at every witch and wizard who was schooled here."
Mrs Malfoy's eyes widened, her face becoming even paler. She paused, took a deep breath and, with a calm so intense it had to be forced, said, "I should like to see this wounded room." If he hadn't seen her face just a moment before, Harry would have been tempting to read her self-assured calm as arrogance. She was a prisoner, here because her knowledge was needed, McGonagall had said, and had no right to dictate how they proceeded. That brief look of horror, however, told Harry this was exactly as serious as Malfoy said.
McGonagall nodded as well, as if she were expecting the request. He shook his head. Just as he had needed Malfoy - Draco Malfoy that is - to evaluate the room, he could understand how the Headmistress might want Mrs Malfoy to observe.
"Will you need to gather the device you mentioned, beforehand?"
Mrs Malfoy tilted her head gracefully, thinking. "I think that would be best."
Harry hated not understanding what was being said around him. "What device is that?" he asked. He hoped his voice did not sound belligerent,
"Narcissa Malfoy has kindly agreed to assist us-she will need to go, under guide and guard, of course, to the Black estate, where she believes she can find a device that tracks the flow of magic."
"Tracks and displays," Mrs Malfoy clarified.
"So, it creates a sort of map?" Harry thought of the Marauders' Map, wondering if the Marauders might have been able to create a map to show the same thing, or add another layer of enchantments on the existing one, to give that option.
"Exactly, a... sort... of map."
Even if she had helped him at a time Harry really needed help, and even if she was the kind of mother who would, apparently, do anything, even change sides in a war, for the sake of her son (which was something Harry admired), Narcissa Malfoy had that same sense of superiority Harry had first seen in her at the Quidditch Cup, all those years ago.
Of course she knows she is superior. She is a Black! an internal voice commented. Harry tried to work out who it was, but unless it was Arcturus, Remus, Tonks, Phineas Nigellus, or Orion, all of whom had either voiced their opinions with increasing regularity or were people whose opinion Harry treasured, Harry still had difficulty telling them apart. He wondered if having a slew of arrogant Slytherins in the back of his mind was punishment for some ill deed he had done.
It is a reward for being worthy of leading the Black family back to greatness, one of the voices said.
Narcissa was giving him a strange, considering look. "I have seen that expression before, on another face," she commented. "You are truly choosing Black? You are choosing to become head of our family in truth?"
Harry looked at her in confusion.
"I had despaired that our family might ever have a worthy head. And when you stepped up to take on the role, I thought that you were taking something not your own." Her eyes landed briefly on her son, then returned to Harry's. "I thought it was pretence-that you did not truly understand. But you do, don't you?"
Harry didn't want to open himself to her, or to reveal his motivations, but she did deserve to know something. He was the head of her family, as strange as that was. "I inherited the role through someone I value. I will do my best, to honour him."
"You hear them," Mrs Malfoy said, as if confirming a discovery. "I always wondered what that would be like. All of those of my family who have gone before." Harry would never have expected to hear wistfulness in Narcissa Malfoy's voice.
Harry nodded to her. "They tend to make their opinions heard." Quite loudly, sometimes.
If you do not listen to us, we must increase our volume until you do, Phineas Nigellus said haughtily.
Mrs Malfoy caught the look on his face. "My family has always had strong opinions, Mr Potter."
"I knew that even before I ended up with a crowd of them in my head."
She paused for a few moments, considering. "We have a chance, then. You and my son will be able to do what is needful to bring Hogwarts back to health."