- Bellatrix Lestrange Harry Potter Hermione Granger Narcissa Malfoy
- Angst Romance
- Multiple Eras
- Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix Quidditch Through the Ages Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Published: 02/16/2005Updated: 08/17/2005Words: 54,516Chapters: 11Hits: 130,940
The Spoils of War
- Story Summary:
- Harry kills Lucius Malfoy, Rodolphus LeStrange, and Voldemort and, as Bellatrix LeStrange and Narcissa Malfoy lie in the mud at his feet, proclaims an ancient cry of victory. Little does he realize the impact of claiming the spoils of war.
- Chapter Summary:
- Harry kills Lucius Malfoy, Rodolphus LeStrange, and Voldemort and, as Bellatrix LeStrange and Narcissa Malfoy lie in the mud at his feet, proclaims an ancient cry of victory. Little does he realize the impact of claiming the spoils of war. This Chapter: Harry, the lioness and the panther in Diagon Alley; coming home to mother. NOTE: Not part of my Dance Series on Schnoogle.
THE SPOILS OF WAR
HOME TO MOTHER
The trip to Diagon Alley so far had been bizarre.
Harry had been a bit cranky at first, then resigned to being dragged from shop to shop by the two women. Belle on the other hand was nervous to the point of panic. She has not been in Diagon Alley in nearly seventeen years. And she was terrified of the people.
After much cajoling, Belle had agreed.
Dobby had, with some trepidation, retrieved a sizeable portion of Cissy's wardrobe from Malfoy Manor, along with Neddi, Cissy's house elf seamstress. After a quick introduction to Harry, which dazzled the young elf, and Belle, which was met with a perfunctory curtsey, Neddi set about altering a few of Cissy robes and outfits to fit on Belle's thinner frame.
So the trio set out, Cissy in a silver hooded summer-weight robe and Belle in a dove gray robe of similar design.
There couldn't be more of a contrast between their respective receptions. Harry had been hailed as the conquering hero at the Leakey Cauldron when he flooed in. When his two hooded companions arrived behind him, they had been met with suspicious stares and an occasional quiet hiss.
Their first stop, of course, was Gringotts. The goblins swarmed him to provide him with every courtesy. But Harry was surprised at the one exception. Harry didn't want the sisters to come running for money for every little thing, so he wanted to set up small vaults for each. But a frightened senior goblin had told him that Gringotts was not allowed to provide Cissy and Belle with their own vaults that he had requested. 'Not permitted for property,' a goblin told Harry in the most apologetic tones. So instead, Harry opened two additional vaults in his own name, each containing 100,000 galleons, and gave the keys to the two sisters. Cissy and Belle would be given full access to these vaults just as any servant or house elf keyed into them would. Harry shook his head sadly.
Madam Malkin, on the other hand, was more than solicitous over their business, especially considering Harry was buying complete wardrobes not just for himself, but for Belle, and all under the direction of Cissy, whose tastes did not run to the mundane. Harry squirmed and complained, but Cissy managed to outfit him so he was at least presentable. Then, she quietly retired to the back of the store where Malkin conjured up a fitting dummy of Harry. Cissy managed to pick out about fifteen more outfits for Harry with him knowing.
Belle's reaction was just as startling. She began simply by keeping her head down and nodding. "She knows my tastes," Belle muttered of Cissy.
But slowly, Belle started fingering fabrics and glancing at robes. Slowly, her eyes took on a new life. Soon, she was choosing robes or dresses and wandering cautiously over to a disgruntled Harry, asking him with pleading eyes whether he thought this outfit or that was acceptable and could she have it. Harry would frown and shrug.
Over three thousand Galleons of purchases later, Harry was finally relieved to walk back into the light of day again.
That relief didn't last very long.
"Whores of the Dark Lord!" a woman in the crowd called out. "This is no place for the likes of you!"
Harry froze, then growled and reached for his wand, only to have his arm grabbed by Cissy. "No," she hissed. "That's not how to react."
Harry began to yank his arm out of her grasp, but she held on tighter.
As Harry slowly began to recover from the insult to his companions, Cissy suddenly stepped to his side and, throwing her hood back proudly, looped her arm in his.
Then, slowly, Belle raised her hand and dropped her hood. Cissy had applied all her skill with glamour charms on her younger sister, and it showed. However, there still was an air of menace in Belle's flashing dark blue eyes.
Everybody in Diagon Alley knew this face. They knew it nearly as well as Harry's. It was the face of the most feared of Voldemort's Death Eaters. And it was a face that did not look happy at the comments being made. Cissy whispered into Harry's ear, and he nodded.
Belle was working hard to contain a lifetime's worth of fury and shame that she felt. She could feel the insanity slowly creep up her spine and she began to growl. Then she felt Harry slide his arm around her waist and the feeling slowly subsided.
"Are you all right?" he whispered into her ear.
Feeling his warm breath on her hair and ear drew her back from the edge. She looked up at him and saw not anger, but concern on his face. Concern for her. And finally, she relaxed.
As Harry felt her calm, he had the urge to let her go.
"Ignore the riff-raff," Cissy whispered. "It's time to do some parading."
With that, Harry shrugged and began to make his way to the next shop.
For the denizens of Diagon Alley, it was an amazing sight. The hero of the Wizarding World walking down the Alley, confident and unconcerned with Belle, the fierce lioness, deadly and terrifying all, on one arm, and Cissy, more the panther, just as deadly but all the more feared for her subtle ability to strike with cunning and without warning, on the other. People stood aside and watched in awe as the remarkable trio went casually about their shopping.
Later, their shopping nearly concluded, they made their way to their final destination: Ollivander's. It was a slow Thursday afternoon in late June, so there was not much business. After the defeat of Voldemort, people thronged the streets, first to celebrate, then to shop like they hadn't in years. But now things had calmed and Ollivander's was empty.
In the gloom, Harry reached out and ran his hand down Belle's long dark hair, soothing her after the rough time she had experienced. But she was now calm, and simply sat down on one of the stools in the shop and gave him a small, grateful smile.
Suddenly, Mr. Ollivander appeared, as if out of nowhere. "Ah, Mr. Potter. What a surprise to see you," he said in his soft, soothing voice.
Harry gave the man a small smile. "Good afternoon, Mr. Ollivander. I am here to see if I can find new wands for these two ladies. Theirs were unfortunately destroyed."
Ollivander tilted his head, his round eyes assessing them carefully. "The Misses Black. Miss Narcissa. Willow with a unicorn hair." He glanced at Belle. "Miss Bellatrix. Oak with a dragon's heartstring. Such a heavy wand for such a delicate young woman."
Then he turned to Harry. "Oh, my, but we do have a slight problem," he said with one raised eyebrow. "I am afraid that selling a wand to such lovely young ladies is not permitted at the present time."
Harry stared at the old merchant, beginning to anger. Another slight at their status as his property, he thought bitterly. Then he saw something in the look Ollivander was giving him.
The two continued to stare at each for a few moments, as Cissy and Belle began to get restless. Then Harry smiled. "Very well, Mr. Ollivander. It's too bad though." He had remembered his dealings at Gringotts. "I was also hoping to purchase two extra wands for my own use."
Harry was pleased to see Ollivander's smile broaden. "Shall we measure you?" Ollivander asked cautiously.
Harry smiled, this time remembering Belle's initial comment at Madam Malkin's. "No. I'll leave it to the ladies. They know my tastes."
Ollivander's smile grew into a broad, yellow-toothed grin. "Excellent. I know just the wands for you, Mr. Potter."
In twenty minutes, after allowing Cissy and Belle to test and select 'Harry's' new wands, the three left Ollivander's with Harry carrying 'his' two new wands, at least until they got home.
As they walked back to the Leaky Cauldron, Harry's mind was in a whirl. He had spent the better part of the afternoon, arranging bank accounts for and then parading around with two women he thought he hated, and spending a small fortune on, defending, and soothing a woman he had for years absolutely loathed. As he watched Belle and dealt with her, she seemed at times almost helpless. And yet he had seen a near homicidal look in her eye after she'd been insulted on the street. But when she looked at him, she seemed so vulnerable, anxious and trusting. He didn't know what to think.
Just before they got to the Leaky Cauldron, Cissy stopped at a news agent and collected the last week's worth of Daily Prophets, as well as some other newspapers he hadn't ever recalled seeing.
* * *
The floo back to Potter Manor was uneventful. Then, as he was about to climb the stairs to change his robes, he heard a cry.
Harry dashed down the stairs to see Cissy standing still in the drawing room, a copy of the Daily Prophet falling from her hands.
"Cissy, what is it?" he cried.
She looked devastated. Slowly, she tried to work her mouth, but couldn't seem to make any sounds. Harry reached to guide her to a couch, but she faltered and Harry had to half-carry her.
Belle poked her head in. "What happened?"
"Water!" he commanded. Belle withdrew just as Dobby suddenly appeared and disappeared with such quickness that the glass of water seemed to appear out of nowhere. Then Harry shrugged and turned his attention back to Cissy. "Cissy? What happened? Are you all right?"
Cissy turned and looked at him with devastated eyes. "Draco!" she gasped. "They just convicted him of conspiracy ... aiding the Dark Lord!"
Harry leaned back, an arm still around Cissy's shoulder. 'That little ferret bastard,' he thought angrily. 'It's about time they got him.'
Cissy was now crying hysterically on his shoulder. "They can't send him to Azkaban. He's not that strong. He'll die within a month. He'll never survive."
Harry was suddenly yanked back to reality. Draco was Cissy's son. Of course she was upset. Harry shut his eyes tight, gritting his teeth. 'Look what that little prick is doing to his mother!' he thought angrily.
Suddenly, he felt Cissy grabbing desperately at the front of his robes. "Please, Harry! You've got to help him! I'll do anything! Please don't let him go to Azkaban!"
Harry wanted nothing more than to scream. All he wanted was the end of Voldemort and some peace. Instead, he got a potentially violent psychotic with puppy-dog eyes, an imperious bitch goddess blubbering on his shoulder and, now, Draco Malfoy.
Harry took a deep breath. "What would you have me do?" he growled.
Cissy looked up at him with desperate eyes. For the first time he realized that Cissy was wearing makeup that was now running down her cheeks. And he realized that she wasn't as young as she appeared. That she was somebody's mother. "What?" he said a little more calmly.
Cissy seemed finally to get a hold of herself. Breathing in deep, rapid breaths, she reached over to the copy of the Daily Prophet. "His sentence," she gasped out. "Five years in Azkaban or a 500,000 Galleon fine."
He leaned his head back on the couch. "Shit," he muttered.
* * *
Draco Malfoy was alone and terrified. He had tried to do what his father wanted. He had helped him as much as he could. He had even promised to take the Dark Mark once he graduated from Hogwarts. But he never counted on this.
His father was dead. The Dark Lord was dead. His fortune was gone. And now he was going to Azkaban.
He couldn't believe it when he was arrested. He thought he had a chance when they did a Prior Incantato on his wand and found no unforgivables. But then they administered the vertiserum. He had felt nauseous after taking it. Then he felt a jittery calm. He answered their questions. The spying, the meetings with his father and other Death Eaters, the plots he had heard about. His promise to take the mark. Then it was over. He was going to Azkaban. Five years. And he knew enough about himself to know he would die there. He had wet himself when he was arrested. What would happen when the few remaining dementors at Azkaban got a hold of his mind?
Then he heard the unlocking charm, and the heavy iron gates slid to the side.
'It was time,' he thought desperately. He tried to gasp out the last few breaths of clean air he would ever experience. Then he heard the voice.
"Out with yeh," the harsh voice of one of his jailers commanded. "Yer free the go."
Draco, not quite hearing, put his head down and, tears streaming down his face, stepped out, waiting for his escorts to grab him and portkey him to Azkaban. "Well, what're yeh waiting for? Yeh like it down 'ere so much yeh wanna stay?"
Draco looked up at the jailer, Quigley was his name, in confusion. Then his eyes were drawn to the scowling figure in elegant dress robes, leaning against the door frame with his arms crossed.
"Let's go, Malfoy," Harry growled. "I'm taking you home to mother."
Draco didn't pay attention as Harry paid the two Galleon fee for a Ministry portkey back to Potter Manor. And he didn't resist when Harry grabbed his hand and placed it over the small copper disk the Ministry provided. It was only the familiar yank behind the navel that shook him out of his stunned state.
He managed to keep his feet when he arrived, as did Harry, just barely. He blinked a couple times. He was not at the dock of the boat to Azkaban. He was in a brightly lit entranceway to a well-appointed manor house.
He was about to speak when he was nearly knocked over by a hysterically crying woman.
* * *
Harry ushered the mother and son into the drawing room and withdrew to give them privacy. As he turned, he almost ran into a hovering Belle.
"You rescued him," she said softly.
"Not that I wanted to, the little ferret," Harry growled.
Harry wheeled to leave, but Belle reached up and grabbed his arm. "You did it for Cissy," she again whispered.
Harry went to say something nasty, then paused. Looking down at the floor, he sighed. "He's her family," he muttered sadly. "Family's important."
There was an uncomfortable moment of silence. "What about your family?"
Harry's head jerked up and his eyes narrowed. "You should know about my parents," he hissed.
Belle's eyes closed in pain and she lowered her head. "You had family who raised you, didn't you?"
Harry snorted. "Family? That's a laugh," he sneered. "You know what their motto was? 'A dog, a Potter and a hickory tree. The more you beat 'em, the better they be'," he snarled, then brushed roughly past her.
She swayed a little, then slowly sank down on the floor in tears. 'No wonder he understands,' she thought through her sobbing. 'The poor boy.'
* * *
Draco sat on the couch, still trying to understand how he went from the brink of Azkaban to sitting on a couch in a tasteful drawing room with his mother in tears stroking his face. He looked up at her. "How?"
Cissy gazed at her son. "I can't believe you're safe." She leaned over and strongly embraced her only child.
Draco wasn't used to this level of affection. He couldn't recall being hugged so tightly by his mum since he had fallen off his practice broom when he was nine years old. He had, in recent years, rebuffed such sissified shows of affection as too weak for a Malfoy. However, now, he cautiously embraced his mother and returned the hug. It was unfamiliar, but it felt right.
After several minutes a sitting there, content to be together and safe again, Draco sighed. "How?" he asked again. "The guards kept laughing at me," he said with a shiver. "They said no one would come for me. They said nobody cared for a Malfoy anymore."
Cissy sighed. "Harry did it," she said softly.
Draco stiffened. "Potter?" he croaked. "Why would he bother?"
She turned his head to face her. "He did it for me," she said with wonder in her voice.
Draco flinched and pulled away from his mother in disgust. "You're sleeping with him!" he snarled. "He's forcing you!"
Cissy grabbed Draco by the shoulders. "He's never touched me!"
Draco narrowed his eyes in suspicion. "Why else would he bother?" he snapped. "He's taken everything else away from us. Why not grab the last thing we have left. Our honor!"
Cissy pushed him roughly away. "Honor? What honor?" she snapped.
Draco's eyes flared. "Malfoy honor!" he shouted.
She leaned back against the back of the couch, her hand still on Draco's shoulder, and lolled her head back and forth in resignation. "Oh, Draco. You have no concept of honor."
Draco's temper flared. "I'm a Malfoy! It's the noblest and most honorable pureblood family in the Wizarding World!"
Cissy sighed sadly. "Honorable? Like your father?"
Draco's bottom lip quivered. "Yes! He died bravely in battle!"
Cissy closed her eyes in sorrow. "Yes, he died in battle." She gave forth a mirthless chuckle. "After being trapped with his master by a massive anti-apparation spell."
"He fought bravely," he insisted.
She slowly turned to face her son, taking one of his hands in her own. "There are things you should know about your father," she said quietly. "You know, your father engaged in only two fights against fully armed wizards in his life. The first one, he led 12 Death Eaters to capture one underaged wizard in an ambush at the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry Building. Harry Potter. Unfortunately, Harry brought along five of his friends. And those six school children, using elementary hexes and curses, managed to fight off the entire group led by your father for a half hour before a team of adult wizards arrived to capture Lucius and most of his team."
Draco growled sullenly.
"In that second stand-up fight, he faced Potter again, this time alone. He was dead before he even uttered his first curse," Cissy said, breathing heavily. "All the other great battles your father engaged in were ambushes using unforgiveables against unarmed and overwhelmed innocents. And in each case he wore a mask to hide his identity. Is that your idea of honor?"
Draco was staring angrily at the floor. "He was fighting for a noble cause," he snapped.
Cissy shook her head sadly. "Yes, he told me that too when we first married. We were fighting for pureblood rights, to preserve the true traditions of Wizarding life against Muggle and Mudblood incursions into our world. He said that our children would rule the Wizarding World free of interference from those who would pollute our lives."
Draco glanced up at his mother angrily.
Cissy shook her head. "You know what we were really fighting for? We were fighting to give power to some half-human half-blood. Nothing more."
"It was for a noble cause!" Draco shouted desperately.
Again, Cissy shook her head. "Pureblood rights? The noble pureblood? What nobility? I remember seeing your father crawling on his hands and knees to kiss the hem of the robe of that monster, only to see that thing Crucio Lucius just for the sheer sport of it. Then he Crucioed me without a word of protest from your father. My own cousin, Regulus Black, the purest of purebloods, was tortured and executed in front of a large group of other cheering purebloods. Why? For asking what a raid on innocent Muggles had to do with pureblood rights. And I saw the panic in your father's eyes around the time when you first went to Hogwarts when he first heard that the Dark Lord was not dead after all, but was trying to come back. And how he desperately tried to find a way to aid that comeback in fear that he would be branded as a traitor if he wasn't the first one on his knees when that monster returned. Where's the honor and nobility in that?"
Draco was now shaking. "But ... we're Malfoys!"
Cissy lowered her head to her chest. "Yes, we were Malfoys," she said sadly. "We had the money, the power, the influence to lead this world. All it would have taken was work and patience. You could have inherited the world. That's the family I thought I was marrying into. Instead, I found I had married an arrogant, conniving sneak who thought he had found the easy way to power. And when it was over, he ended up losing it all. Everything he was seeking. Everything I thought we had. And everything I ever wanted for you."
"Instead, you ended up here," Draco said bitterly. "Potter," he said in disgust.
Cissy flared. "I've seen more honor here in one week with Harry than I saw in nineteen years of marriage to your father!" she thundered.
"Harry Fucking Potter," Draco growled.
He suddenly felt him mother grab his head and turn it toward her. "Listen to me," she demanded. "I expected the world from your father. Instead, I got a lifetime's worth of disappointment. Don't you disappoint me, too."
* * *
Narcissa felt an emotional exhaustion claim her.
She casually stroked Draco's hair. For once, he didn't seem to want to pull away from any motherly affection she tried to offer him.
Instead, he seemed to stare out into space.
And that was all Cissy could manage as well.
She couldn't believe she had finally given voice to all the anger, frustration and disappointment of the past nineteen years. And, even worse, she had done it in front of Draco.
But why not? Her biggest frustration had not been the sterile marriage to Lucius. It had been in his complete domination of her son. She loved Draco. But as he had drifted further and further into Lucius's orbit, Draco became more distant from her.
Now they were all each other had.
But as the shadows in the drawing room began to lengthen, her thoughts drifted elsewhere. Did she really mean it when she said she had found more honor here than in Malfoy Manor? From a boy just past his majority, who wouldn't turn eighteen for another month. From someone younger even than her son?
She had seen Harry angry, even in a towering rage, but she had also seen him gentle and caring. He had been as petulant as a schoolboy about going to Diagon Alley, but he had also been able to handle the Goblins at Gringotts and Ollivander as smoothly as she could have. He had little use for politics and Wizarding customs, but he had proved himself an adept student as she sat and tried to teach him what she knew were not simply manners, but survival skills. And she knew he disliked her and, especially, Belle. But she saw how tender he was to Belle in calming her down, and how he listened not just to what they were asking him for, but also heard what they really needed.
And, on a couple occasions, Harry had listened carefully to what she had requested, asked questions and heard her out, then simply said no. Not a preemptory dismissal, but a careful thoughtful decision. Cissy frowned. It was different with Lucius. She knew what buttons to push to get what she wanted from Lucius, and had no compunction about pushing them. And she knew when to draw back and concede defeat, if only on a temporary basis.
But with Harry, it was different. It seemed she could talk to him. Perhaps, in time, she would learn how to push his buttons, to learn the signs of when to draw back. But it seemed silly now. Harry, unlike Lucius, listened to her. And when he said no, it was not a dismissal of her, just of her request.
She sighed. No, he would not allow Draco to move in with them. He made that clear. But Harry did agree to allow her son to stay in one of the other homes he now owned. And Draco would be free to visit her, and she could visit him. Harry had no wish to keep mother and son apart. He simply wanted to limit his own contact with Draco.
Cissy frowned. She would like Harry and Draco to be friends. It would make things so much easier, whatever was to come.
Because somewhere along the line, she began to realize she cared about this young man, this ragamuffin Gryffindor, this Harry Potter.
* * *
It was a tense dinner at Potter Manor. Harry could feel the uneasy silence between Cissy and Draco. He gave an internal shake of his head. He would have to find some place for Draco to live soon. He didn't want to see that disgusting little worm around here any more than he could help it.
He also noticed the speculative looks Belle kept giving him when she thought he wasn't watching. He didn't know what to make of this woman. He hated her for all she'd done in the past. And he knew she had mental problems and was potentially dangerous. But he also knew she was in pain, the kind of pain he had felt after his fifth year at Hogwarts when he was simultaneously dealing with Sirius's death, the weight of the prophesy, his fights with Dumbledore, and the constant visions Voldemort was trying to send him through the link with his scar.
And he noticed Draco, who was pointedly ignoring him in favor of giving his aunt Belle anxious, even fearful glances.
So much for peace at Potter Manor.
* * *
Harry lay awake in his bed. It should be perfect. There was a warm breeze wafting through his open windows. He cast a glance around the room. It was enormous, and beautifully decorated. He chuckled. He had always imagined a Potter Manor to be a riot of Gryffindor red and gold, just as green and silver had seemingly been the theme for 12 Grimmauld Place.
But this room was warm and soothing to the eye, a symphony of quiet colors with the occasional bold accent to satisfy the eye.
The mere size of the room made him feel all the more alone. It was a room meant to be shared.
His mind drifted to Hermione. Would she like it? There was a small bookcase. But it merely served for current reading. Let the large library downstairs house the bulk of his book collection. This room was not for books, but for sharing secrets, lives and love with the one most precious to you.
His ponderings were interrupted by a scream.
Harry was instantly up, wand in hand. Belle was having another nightmare.
His Lumos charm lit up the hallway as he raced the few steps to her room.
Belle was standing in the corner, wand raised, unseeing eyes wide in terror. "You keep your filthy hands off me!" she screamed. "I won't! Never again!" she continued to scream.
He felt Cissy behind him, but held his arm up to hold her back. Then he heard another set of footsteps. Draco, no doubt, coming from the bedroom around the corner, next to Cissy's.
Slowly, he made his way into Belle's bedroom, his wand held low but at the ready, his left hand still signaling for Cissy to stay back.
"NO!" Belle shouted. "I won't do it! Keep your hands off me," she screamed, still waving her wand at unseen tormentors.
"Belle?" Harry said softly. "It's all right. It's me. Harry. I won't let anyone touch you."
Belle moved her wand in his general direction. "Keep your hands off me, you filthy scum! I'll curse you! I will!"
Harry continued to edge forward, making soothing shushing noises. "It's okay, Belle. It's me, Harry. I'll protect you."
Belle continued to wave her wand in an uncertain manner. "I won't," she said again, but this time in a softer tone.
Harry continued to approach her. "I'm here, Belle. I'll protect you. I'll take care of you."
Slowly, Belle began blinking. "Harry?" she said in a small, frightened voice.
Cautiously, Harry reached out and took her wand and tossed it behind him.
Suddenly, Belle collapsed in his arms, crying hysterically.
Harry embraced her tightly, running his fingers through her sweat-soaked hair to calm her. "Shh, shh, shh, shh, shh," he murmured as she wept against his shoulder, grasping him tightly. "I'm here, Belle. I'll take care of you."
Harry glanced back and saw a tearful Cissy rush up to embrace her sister from behind, enveloping the hysterical woman in their combined warmth and comfort. And Harry saw an ashen and shaking Draco stare from the doorway. He merely motioned with his head for Draco to leave. Draco blinked a couple times and seemed unable to move for a moment. Then he quickly left.
As happened a few nights before, Harry got Belle in bed, and again, she insisted Harry and Cissy stay with her.
Harry sighed. 'This can't go on,' he thought. 'I need to find some way to help.' As he stared up at the ceiling, he ponder the problem. 'Perhaps St. Mungo's could help.'
Author notes: Well, that’s Chapter Five. Believe me, I appreciate your comments and hope you continue to enjoy the fic and, if the mood strikes, review as well.
I’ve have a bad habit of not being particularly responsive to reviewers. I hope to correct this a little in this fic. While I’m not going to respond to everyone (I find that sort of thing on ff.net tedious in the extreme), I do have a few responses from notes on my last chapter that struck me.
Mjc: I love your image of Sirius laughing from the great beyond about the fate of his cousins; the earth guide: Harry is caught in the middle ground of wanting to hate, but also feeling this moral responsibility for Narcissa and Bellatrix. And, by the way, Neville was killed in the final battle, which makes Harry's position even more of a strain; BJH: Yes, Bellatrix is out of character. But this will be dealt with in future chapters (I hope); tbmsand: Hermione will be visiting the Manor soon; kokopelli20878: I'm sorry if thoughts vs. dialogue are confusing. I've done double-quotes for dialogue and single quotes for thoughts in all my fics. I guess I'm too old to change now. And I agree with you that the "chaste nap" with hormonal teenagers involved is only asking for trouble. And, yes, Harry is a hormonal teenager, paragon of virtue that he is. ;)