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 07

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 and Draco talk' Harry and Narcissa do more than talk.
Author's Note:
Please note that this is an "R-rated" fic and this is an "R-rated" chapter. There will be the occasional bit of vulgar language and a bedroom scene. While the sex and language is neither not graphic or gratuitous, please be forewarned.





"What am I allowed to take?" Draco asked with petulant resignation.

Harry grimaced. He had never been in Malfoy Manor before. And now he owned it.

He shook his head. This was not a manor house. It was a castle. Everything about it was ancient, solid, imposing, and, to Harry's mind, depressing. He had spent at least 45 minutes just wandering around the perimeter with Cissy, taking control of the wards, as Draco wandered aimlessly through the surprisingly heavily wooded grounds.

Then, he walked up to the entrance. The massive wood and iron doors swung open and he was greeted by six house elves, including Neddi, Cissy's seamstress, who had regularly popped in to Potter Manor to help. Harry immediately presented each with a cap. Even though they had been forewarned by Neddi and Dobby of their new master's strange ways, three of the elves burst into tears.

Harry took a deep breath and glanced down at the parchment he was holding. Narcissa thought he was crazy, but Hermione was right about house elves, he thought.

"I have released you from your bond to this Manor," Harry announced. "However, it is my wish that you serve me as your new master as freed house elves. Your wages will be one Galleon per week. You may spend it on anything you would like, except for butterbeer or other intoxicating spirits. You will be provided with such clothing in the style and color of your choice--not as a sign of disgrace, but as a symbol that you serve me. You will be permitted one day away from work per week. Each of you will be provided with your own room in the dungeons to use however you see fit. You will keep all secrets of your master and other residents of the manor on pain of disgrace, being turned out, and being branded a bad house elf among house elves everywhere. You will continue your duties beginning immediately, if you so choose to remain. Dobby will provide you with the magical signatures of all who shall have free access to this manor. Any questions?" Harry slipped the paper he was reading from back into his pocket. He felt like Captain Bligh, but Cissy assured him that this was the best way to handle things.

The elves stood there in stunned silence. Then, a nervous hand rose. "Yes Neddi?" Harry asked.

Neddi had already talked to Dobby, Winky, Nandy and Dodi at Potter Manor, so she was less taken aback by Harry's act. "May Neddi make her own gown for clothes? In red?" she asked in a squeaky voice.

Harry forced back a snicker. "Yes, Neddi, you may."

The other house elves looked at Neddi with wide eyes. Then they glanced over to Dobby, resplendent in his lime green naval officer outfit. Then they began to glance at each other in growing enthusiasm at the idea.

Harry cleared his throat. "Thank you. That is all."

* * *

Harry, Cissy, Belle, and Draco spent the entire day there, and the next, going through the place to claim what they wanted before opening it up to the Aurors for inspection.

Harry was surprised at the amount of clothes Draco had. There were various other things that Draco wanted, including his library, various amusements, paintings and photos, and some weapons. Harry, however, drew the line at what were, or appeared to be, dark devices. He also insisted that the weapons remain here until Draco was settled in a new home.

Cissy continued to watch Harry carefully. He continued to listen to all her advice, and the requests and pleas from Bella and Draco regarding the Manor's contents. But when he said 'no,' it was quiet but firm, and further arguments, even from Draco, generally ceased, although Draco could be heard muttering off and on throughout the day.

Cissy, for her part, took the remainder of her wardrobe as well as numerous personal items and a substantial portion of the library, which kept the four Potter house elves, the four Lestrange elves, and the six Malfoy elves in constant motion for the better part of six hours. By the end of the second day, everyone was exhausted.

The same drill held for the Lestrange Mansion, a dark, creepy affair akin to Number 12 Grimmauld Place. Rastaban's house was smaller and surprisingly much nicer.

Finally, after going through all three places over the course of six days, taking what Harry thought was necessary or desirable--mostly books and a few weapons--he called in the Aurors to make a sweep for Dark artifacts. That sweep took two weeks and resulted in the largest haul of dark objects ever recovered by the Ministry.

* * *

Harry was exhausted after six days of exploring his new homes and another four showing the Aurors around.

But Harry knew the toughest part was ahead.

The door to Harry's ground floor office opened without a knock and a tired and disheveled Draco Malfoy slipped in and flopped on a settee on the other side of Harry's huge, formal desk. "Well?" he asked sullenly.

Harry sighed. "I hope your mother explained that you cannot stay here."

Draco stretched his feet to dangle them off the end of the settee. "I wouldn't want to stay here anyway," he said, leaning his head back and throwing an arm across his eyes.

Harry nodded. "Will Rastaban's home suit you?"

Draco grunted. "Kind of small, don't you think?" he muttered.

"Five bedrooms, six baths, space sufficient for you to entertain," Harry said in mild exasperation. "Your mother says that Meffi is willing to go along and be your house elf."

Draco merely snorted.

"Of course, you could always decide to go out on your own."

Draco seemed to deflate. After a few moments of silence, he lifted his arm and looked at Harry. "Why are you bothering? Why not just throw me out on the street?"

Harry shook his head. "Why save you from Azkaban, only to see you die in some back street of Knockturn Alley? You've got brains, and a little talent for potions, from what I've heard. Why not get a real job? Talk to Snape. He knows what's out there."

Again, Draco merely grunted. "I'm a Malfoy ..."

"Yes, you're a Malfoy! And you're the last of your line!" Harry thundered, slamming his fist on the desk, making Draco jump. "Is that what you want? For people to remember the Malfoy line ending with a cowardly murderer meeting his fate while in the service of one half-blood at the hands of another half-blood, leaving his son to live and die a wastrel's life? Pureblood maybe. But mighty weak blood for all that!"

Draco glared at Harry. "You murdered my father and are fucking my mother! Now you want me to kiss your arse, as well!"

Harry returned the glare. "Yes, I killed your father. I'm only sorry I didn't have time to savor the moment, but I had more important things to do. Like killing the bastard your father groveled before," Harry growled with an intensity that made Draco flinch. "As for your mother, I have not touched her. Do you think I wanted having her here? If I knew what that damned spell was about, I would never have cast it. But she's here, and I'm trying my best to provide her and your aunt as pleasant a life as possible under the circumstances. But it's no picnic, let me assure you!"

Draco leaned back, breathing hard. But slowly, as the moments passed, he seemed to calm, again leaning back and throwing his arm over his face again.

After another few moments, he sighed. "Why didn't you hex her," he muttered out of nowhere.

"Hex who?"

Draco pursed his lips. "Why didn't you hex my aunt when she was yelling and pointing her wand at you the other night?"

Harry stared at Draco. "Belle was having a nightmare. It wasn't the first."

Draco gave a quiet cough. "She could have cursed you, even killed you, without even realizing it."

Harry closed his eyes and shook his head. "You ever have a bad dream? A really bad nightmare?"

Draco gave a noncommittal shrug.

"How would you like it to be having a nightmare, only to have someone stun you or beat you for it?"

Draco peeked out from under his arm. "That wouldn't happen."

Harry snorted. "Happens all the time. It happened to ... well, never mind. There's no way in hell I'll ever do that to someone else."

Draco frowned. "But ..."

"No 'buts'," Harry retorted. "Belle was in pain, frightened. She needed someone to comfort her. Your mother and I were there and did so. We calmed her down. There was no need to hurt her more than she was already hurting."

Draco was silent for a long time. Then he turned toward Harry. "And your not fucking my aunt?"

Harry closed his eyes and shook his head in exasperation. "No, I'm not fucking your aunt or your mum. Satisfied?"

"What are you going to do with them?"

Harry gave Draco a long look, then threw up his hands in frustration. "I don't know. Feed them to the house elves. How do I know what I'm going to do with them?"

Draco frowned. "I'm worried about my mum, that's all. And Aunt Belle ... well, she's scary. But she is family."

Harry nodded. "Look, you can visit your mum when you like. Just owl beforehand and we'll key you into the floo."

Draco gave a nod.

Harry, now exhausted, sighed. "Look, I'll do my best to take care of them, to see that they're as happy as they can be in these circumstances."

Draco nodded again. Finally, he looked up. "Don't ever hurt my mum. If you do, I'll kill you," he said with as much menace as he could muster.

Harry looked up and nodded. After a few moments, he looked directly at Draco. "Listen, I was serious about what I said before. You are the last of the Malfoys. That doesn't mean you have to be the last of the Malfoy line. Just because a plant has been pruned down to the nub, I doesn't mean that new shoots won't be budding by the spring."

Draco burst into laughter. "Professor Sprout, sixth year Herbology."

Harry joined in the laughter.

* * *

Draco had moved out the day before. Cissy had spent the rest of the day writing furiously to anyone she knew who might be able to help him get a job. But that night, she again spent a substantial amount of time in front of her mirror. Unlike before, she now had drawers full of paints and potions retrieved from the Malfoy Manor. But somehow, it didn't seem to calm her anxiety. She was thirty-eight years old. She was no longer the golden girl for the simple fact that she was no longer a girl. And she was having a hard time coping with that.

It was especially hard to cope in that she could no longer go out to endless parties and events to flirt and entrance and generally to show off what she still had. She couldn't go alone--she wasn't welcome in public, even if some of those same people talked or corresponded with her in private.

What made matters worse was the tingling yearning she felt deep inside. She had not slept with Lucius since a couple months before his ill-fated adventure in the Department of Mysteries over two years ago. It was two months before the Dark Lord rescued his followers from Azkaban, and a shaken Lucius had shown no interest in her since. She had played the lonely wife of an escaped convict for much of that time, but she did have frequent contacts with Lucius as he would show up at the Manor at odd hours on one clandestine mission or other for his master. But that's all they were. Visits with a purpose. Not to see her.

It was only at the end when he summoned her for the last two battles to ensure she was at his side like a loyal wife that they had experienced any prolonged contact. And even then, he was brusque to her.

She had never strayed in her nineteen years of marriage. She knew that, once Draco was born and the bloodline secured, any dalliance on her part would result in not merely her lover's death, but hers.

But now, Lucius was dead. She was free. And she longed for the embrace of another, not with any silly schoolgirl's romantic fantasies, but as a woman in her prime, seeking sexual fulfillment.

But as things stood now, her options were limited.

She glanced again at the mirror. She could easily pass for a Muggle ten years her junior. And she knew she had many years ahead where she would be able to turn heads.

But she saw the years beginning to reflect back at her. Her skin continued to be flawless, but she could see sags where there were none even five years ago. There were stray lines, mostly around her eyes, even if they were yet to be visible except upon close inspection. Her breasts, though not overly large, had not been able to pass the pencil test since Draco was born. And she had to work to maintain that mischievous sparkle in her eyes that had been there without effort in her youth.

She was beginning to age in private, with only herself as witness.

She had to do something. She needed to do something. Then her thoughts turned to Harry, her ragamuffin Gryffindor. He was young. But it was clear he was no longer a boy.

She had watched him dealing with Draco at Malfoy Manor. Time and again, Draco would come to Harry, asking about this or that item that he wanted to keep. Harry would listen like an indulgent father before deciding whether or not the item was too dangerous or dark. Draco might huff or pout, but more often than not accept Harry's decision and wander off again.

Then Cissy saw Harry with the Aurors. He apparently knew a couple, including her niece, Nymphadora Tonks, the daughter of her sister Andromeda, along with a tall black senior Auror with a golden earring, Shacklebolt. Harry moved easily among the intimidating group, consulting with them and asking or answering questions. Even the two mysterious figures who were apparently Unspeakables held no awe to Harry. She even saw one of the Unspeakables crack a smile at some comment Harry made, something she never thought she'd see.

He was not the callow youth she feared when first he brought her to Potter Manor. He had seen too much, done too much, been through too much, to be cowed by such people. He was mature beyond his years.

No, Harry wasn't a boy anymore. She saw that the other day when he was with the Granger girl in his sweaty sleeveless tee-shirt and those Muggle jeans. And that restless feeling she been getting for the past year or so, the need that had been growing especially focused in the past few weeks, began to well up in her.

But he had never made a move, never made any advances. Was he that shy or reserved? Was it that Granger girl? Or was it that damnable sense of nobility he seemed to show at every turn? Or was she truly too old to turn his head? Cissy frowned.

She slowly rose and went to her closet, then her wardrobe, and began searching.

* * *

Harry arched his back, stretching his sore muscles. He had finally begun to exercise again. It didn't take him long to get back into his training routine, even after a month of basic idleness after the final battle and the subsequent public brouhaha, followed by the past two weeks in his new properties, getting settled, dealing with Cissy and Belle, and then with Draco.

Once Draco had left, Harry had managed to make Cissy limit his appointments, as she called them, to four hours a day. She had paraded numerous dignitaries, society types, managers from the three estates he now owned, and numerous odd ducks like Rita Skeeter, to lunch, to tea, or just a plain sit-down interview. It was bloody boring, even if Cissy insisted it was necessary.

But the early mornings were his. He could run, exercise, ride his broom, and simply feel free. Belle had found a broom at the Manor and joined him a couple times. And he was surprised that he didn't mind the company, even if it was Belle, and even if her broom was an old Cleansweep that couldn't keep up if he felt like really flying. Maybe the flying had helped her deal with her demons. Her nightmares were becoming lees frequent, though no less intense.

Cissy, on the other hand, had been acting strangely. She continued to hector him over his duties and responsibilities, about the plots and subplots in the Wizarding World, and dragging him to see one idiot after another.

But he also caught her staring at him at odd, quiet moments. At first, he was worried that perhaps he had a spot on his robe or had committed some social blunder. But he saw none of the disapproval in those looks that he had come to know. He simply shrugged it off. And it seemed, whenever they were working together in making appointments or discussing household affairs, or simply chatting, she seemed to be placing her hand on his shoulder or arm more. He didn't mind the contact. And he noticed she seemed to smile at him more. He wasn't sure what to make of this. Maybe she was becoming more used to and comfortable with him and the situation. Whatever it was, it was nice.

He was alone in the coffee nook off the kitchen on this warm morning, nibbling on a muffin and some fruit for breakfast when he heard her enter. "'Morning," he said absently as he stabbed a couple more melon slices from the tray Dodi had provided.

"Good morning, Harry," Cissy said in low tone.

As she took her seat across from him at the small table, he looked up and blinked in surprise. Cissy was not wearing her dressing gown. Instead, she was dressed in a sheer, low-cut white silk nightgown that looked a couple sizes to small. He watched transfixed as her breasts seem strain at the material or to sway at her slightest movement. She reached over for the copy of the Daily Prophet, which seemed to pull the material tight across her chest, showing the small nubs of her nipples seeming to strain for release.

Harry felt his throat go dry, and took a quick sip of tea.

"I hope you don't mind, but it was simply too hot to wear the dressing gown this morning," she said in a languid drawl.

Harry gave a shrug and looked down intently at his plate. Still, he couldn't help stealing peeks at the outlines of Cissy's full rounded breasts.

Harry cursed himself silently. Yes, he had fantasized about Cissy and Belle. He remembered back to the first night Belle had suffered a nightmare, about how he awoke fondling her breasts. It was such a wonderful feeling that it had taken him 15 or 20 seconds to realize he was taking advantage of her and had run away. And he remembered waking up to feel Belle pressed up against him, pressing her body against his. He wanted nothing more than to take her then and there. But he also realized that she was his responsibility, and he would never take advantage.

Cissy, on the other hand, had always dressed in the best of tastes, feminine and elegant, but not overtly provocative. She did seem to have the more striking figure of the two sisters, at least until Belle started gaining some weight back over the past month or so. But he tried not to look at Cissy in a sexual way, even if his nighttime fantasies occasionally drifted in that direction. After all, she was very beautiful.

Harry again cursed his fate and tried to focus on other things.

Ron and Hermione had visited him the past two Saturdays. Hermione had, as always, given him full reports on her summer activities and her researches into mental illness and nightmares. And she had given him some intriguing looks.

Ron, on the other hand, had been his normal self. But when the two took off on their brooms, leaving Hermione and either Lavender or Ginny or both, below, Ron would occasionally pull up and hover alongside him for some guy-talk.

And Harry would look longingly at Hermione and wonder if she was the one he was fated to be with.

But then there were the Black sisters, always there. Maybe he was destined to die a virgin.

Harry was startled as Cissy seemed to finish her light breakfast, then stretch her arms over her head and arch her back, as if working the kinks out. Harry could only stare as her breasts strained against the thin silk.

"Nothing until eleven o'clock," she said in a husky voice. "The manager from the Lestrange Estates. Lunch with Phineas Peabody from the Wizangamut. That's it for the day." She gave him a seductive smile.

Harry blinked and gave a quick nod, jumping up from the table and racing in a panic upstairs.

Cissy watched him leave, and leaned back in her chair, smiling. Maybe she wasn't so old after all. She reached over to the plate of fruit and grabbed a cherry, popping it into her mouth.

* * *

"Don't know how it all works, milord, but that Muggle fertilizer yeh got us is doin' a rare trick. Even some of the worst fields look to be thrivin'. Some of yer tenants say yields're lookin' to be up a lot, judgin' by the amount of healthy plants comin' up. More than they ever seen. Yer tenants're singin' yer praises, I must say."

Harry tapped his foot. Bothard was the overall manager for his Lestrange Estates. He didn't look to be the most savory man, but his preliminary investigations, done through Cissy's contacts, showed him to be fundamentally honest.

"Mind yeh, the ones that didn't want to use the stuff are all in a state, listenin' to the others. Mebbe yeh can get some more of that Muggle stuff to keep 'em all happy." Bothard continued.

Harry simply nodded. But he wasn't thinking about Bothard, or the estates, or crop yields. All he did was give the go-ahead to one of the Potter estate managers to try some Muggle fertilizer. It cost him over 4,000 Galleons, near 15,000 Sterling. He had the manager distribute the fertilizer to the other estate managers who, in turn, distributed to the tenant farmers. After less than a month, it was much too early for true results, but Bothard seemed happy and so were his tenants, apparently. And as long as everyone was happy, Harry felt he was doing his job.

No, he wasn't thinking of his estates. He was thinking of Cissy. He had noticed that there seemed to be something different about her over the past week, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Maybe it was just that he was becoming more comfortable around her and Belle as they were simply part of his life now. But something was nagging at the back of his mind.

Then, there was this morning ...

"Thank you, Mr. Bothard," he said with a nod, standing up.

Bothard stood and began to bow, but Harry stuck his hand out. Bothard blinked. Previous masters never stooped to shake hands with the help. He tentatively reached out and shook hands with his lord. As he left the office smiling, he felt ten feet tall.

Cissy entered the office, she gave him a warm smile. "Peabody will be here in a few minutes. Remember, he's a Hogwarts' trustee as well as on the St. Mungo's board. He's not a major power on the Wizangamut, but he does have a small group who listens to him. And he's interested in Pureblood affairs."

Harry sighed and nodded. Then his gaze wandered down to Cissy's open robe. She was wearing a loose-fitting blouse that must button from the back. He could imagine her breasts swaying seductively underneath. He shook his head to clear it. "Right. Hogwarts, St. Mungo's, Wizangamut, Pureblood. Anything else?"

Cissy gave a smug smile. "He's a Hufflepuff."

Harry snorted in mirth. "You have a file on him or something?"

Cissy simply continued to smile.

* * *

She had been sitting at her vanity for over a half hour. But this time, she wasn't worrying herself over her looks. She was waiting and listening. It was about time he would be coming upstairs to prepare for bed. She picked up her wand and pointed it behind her back, muttering a quiet charm. He was such a sweet young man. And she wanted him. But he was so naïve. So the most blunt, direct approach should work. She prayed silently that she still had what it took for it to work. She needed it to work. She needed him.

Then she heard him in the hallway. She counted to ten and then stepped out of her room, feeling as excited as a schoolgirl and as predatory as the Slytherin she was.

"Harry," she called quietly as she paused at the threshold of his bedroom.

Harry had just sat down on his bed and his head jerked up. "Yes," he answered in a tight voice.

Cissy put on her best pout. "There's a clasp on the back of my blouse that doesn't seem to be working. I tried the charm, but nothing happened. Could you help?" It was the oldest trick in the book, but judging by his dry-mouthed reaction, it was working.

After a brief, unsuccessful attempt to speak, he simply nodded.

Cissy did her best slinky walk over to his bed and sat close to him, turning her back.

Harry managed a quick Lumos charm and, as she turned to see his reaction, she was surprised to see the wand hovering in mid-air as he gently began with both hands to fiddle with the clasp that she had used a bending charm on just a couple minutes before.

She could feel him fumbling with nervous hands at the clasp, before he figured out that it was bent. She slowly leaned back a little to press her back against his hands to encourage a little more physical contact.

Suddenly, he had unbent the clasp and, as she had judiciously unfastened all the other clasps, the blouse opened completely, exposing her bare back. She had gone the entire week braless and knew he had noticed. Now if only he would make a move. After a moment, she frowned briefly, then put her most sensual look and turned to face him. She let one hand casually fall on his upper thigh as she twisted around. Slowly, she cupped his cheek with her other hand and put her lips to his for a lingering kiss. "Thank you," she murmured in a throaty voice, but made no move to leave.

Harry sat there transfixed. Just as slowly, he began to lean forward and their lips met again. Cissy allowed her mouth to open slightly and cautiously let her tongue brush across his lower lip.

* * *

Harry was startled. He felt her tongue brush across his lower lip and felt a sudden flare of heat rise up his chest until it seemed to center just below his eyes. He opened his mouth to her and anxiously touched his tongue to hers. It as a feeling like he had never experienced. As she placed a hand behind his head to draw him deeper into the kiss, he gently wrapped his arms around her, his hands coming into contact with her soft, smooth contours. He marveled how soft ... and how warm her body was.

Somehow, he broke the kiss and drew her close, pressing her body against him. He was not used to being touched in a tender, caring, loving manner. He felt her warmth, and that was all that mattered. He held her tightly against himself, slowly stroking her back. The smoothness, the softness of her body seemed to overwhelm him.

He could feel her warm breath against his neck, against his ear. It was more than erotic. It was comfort. It was acceptance. It was home.

Cissy felt the need. She had come into his bedroom with all the intention of seducing him. Of feeling his body next to hers. Of validation that, even after thirty-eight years, she was still a desirable, sexual creature.

But this was different. This was not what she expected. She had expected a quick shag and perhaps some playful, comfortable petting. She had not expected to strike a primal chord. She did not expect to be touched to her core. She did not expect him to need her as much as he did. She did not expect to need him as much as she now knew she did.

She gently stroked his back through his light cotton blouse. And she heard the soft moan he made as she did this. It was not a moan of lust, or desire. It was of elemental longing.

She could feel her heart race, her breath quicken. She wanted him in ways she couldn't comprehend. She wanted to possess him, to comfort him, to be a part of him. She closed her eyes and reveled in the closeness of him. The feel of him. The smell of him. The touch of him.

Where had all her plans gone? The seduction? The fulfillment?

She felt a solitary teardrop touch her shoulder and drew back slightly. She looked in his eyes and saw the all the loss of his nearly eighteen years of loneliness, of abuse, of sorrow, of bearing burdens in solitude. And she saw his need to be, just this once, a part of someone else, to be touched not so much of the body, but of the soul.

She slowly drew back just enough to let her own blouse drop off her shoulders. Then she touched the button on the back of his neck that loosened the sash collar. Hands skilled from past experience unfastened the buttons on the front of his blouse and gently pulled it past his shoulders.

He cautiously reached around her waist and drew her to him where they met, flesh pressing flesh. She felt the connection growing stronger as he leaned his head into the crook of her shoulder. He didn't shower her in kisses, or play the awkward teenager. He simply nuzzled the base of her neck, then pressed the side of his head there, seeking comfort, her comfort. She reached up and stroked his hair gently, eliciting a soft murmur of comfort from him.

They simply sat there, embracing, reveling in their closeness, for an untold period of time as she stroked his thick unruly hair and he stroked her soft naked back.

Then slowly he drew back for a moment, of only to brush his lips against her cheek.

He gradually shifted until his forehead was pressed against hers, his nose to hers, his emerald green eyes staring into her silver blue eyes. His pleading eyes seemed to ask permission. She felt a constriction in her chest as she realized that this was a man who wanted her, but didn't know how to ask. All it took was her to open the door, to her body, to her soul, and he would be there to satisfy her every need, physical, emotional, spiritual.

"Yes," she said.




* * *

Afterwards, as she lay in his arms, she came to a realization. She finally felt whole again.

After a lifetime of silly vanities, of unfulfilled dreams, of pain and disappointment, Narcissa Black found that her soul was beginning to heal.

* * *

Belle awoke earlier than usual that morning, surprisingly refreshed if a little groggy from the dreamless sleep that the potion she took the night before had induced. She was surprised to see the dawn was just breaking. After a quick stretch, she rose and donned her dressing gown. Cissy was usually the first one up in the morning. Belle decided to wander down the hall around the corner and see if her sister was awake yet to share an early breakfast together.

As she exited her room, she was surprised to see Harry's door wide open. He usually slept with it almost, but not completely closed. She wandered quietly down the corridor and paused at the entrance to the master bedroom.

There she saw Cissy, naked, sprawled across Harry, one leg hooked possessively over him. And Harry's head lay next to hers on her arm, one of his arms around her waist in the embrace of sleeping lovers.

This was the way love as supposed to be, she thought sadly, as she leaned longingly against the door frame, her head pressed against the wood. Tenderness. Intimacy. Closeness.

Not the other way.

Author notes: First of, my apologies for taking so long with this chapter. I’ve got as ton of excuses, but principally that work has taken a toll on my time. It hasn’t helped that I haven’t been feeling up to snuff lately. Nothing serious, just feeling generally debilitated. However, two big deadlines at work have now passed and I have a little more time to devote to writing. As for my laptop, it works for a while, then starts crashing. If this keeps up, it will soon crash out the window and into the dumpster well below. I guess it’s the desktop from now on.

Also, this was a difficult chapter to write. It was originally written as an NC-17 chapter. I had no end of problems trying to keep it reasonably erotic and moving, yet keeping it well within the confines of FictionAlley’s limits on adult material. The bedroom scene was rewritten countless times.

As for reviews, many have commented on Belle. Yes, she is out of character. And no, she isn’t an innocent. To tbmsand [and I hope your name doesn’t come from having operated a tunnel boring machine that hit sand], Belle’s only killing was Sirius [at least in this story], but she is well practiced in the art of Cruciatus, although I think you will be surprised at how she used it most. That will come up in later chapters. And no, Lynnjepsen, Bellatrix is not necessarily gentle. She’s just had her spirit crushed, and the consequences of her acts, both under compulsion and of her own free will, over the course of the past 18 years have only recently hit home with her. You’ll find out more about why in upcoming chapters.

Many are annoyed at Draco’s indolence. That’s part of his character. He is a pampered prince. Harry doesn’t really expect to be paid back. Draco will eventually realize he has no resources and be faced with some choices of his own. To hp4all, there is no trust fund for Draco. Maybe I should save this for later in the story, but as it turns out, his grandfather died before Draco was born and Lucius never bothered, figuring as a Death Eater he would live forever, so why bother with making preparations for his son in case of death. So Draco has a small vault at Gringotts with a few thousand Galleons, but that’s it. And as for the contradiction between Narcissa's foiled plans at a luxurious post-Lucius life and the Ministry getting its hands on the Malfoy fortune, a few huge bribes would have protected a good portion of the estate for Narcissa’s use.

Supernaturalist, you’ve got the conversion of Galleons to dollars just about right. I had figured about one galleon=about 3.5 pounds sterling [I’ve found in the past that the British Pound symbol doesn’t upload correctly. Sorry for spelling it out.] So the conversion to dollars would be a little higher than 1G=, but you were in the neighborhood. [In my Dance series, the conversion rate was more like 1G=10 Pounds or about .]

BJH, sorry. No hot flashes for Cissy for another 20 years or so [them witches age real slow, you know]. Just the hots. And for some of the same reasons you mentioned.

Oh, and Alen, I have two stories pairing Harry and Hermione, one where Hermione appears only at the end [Drink With Me on], and on where she appears as the “Most Clueless Witch of Her Generation” [Goblet of Firewhsikey on]. Otherwise, I’ve paired Harry with Parvati and with Tom Riddle’s and Moaning Myrtle’s granddaughter. [Still the only romantic pairing of Riddle and Mrytle that I’ve seen.] So feel free to read my other stories without fear of H/Hr ickiness.

Thanks for all the reviews and the input. I’ll try to be more prompt in the future.