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16 July 2008 @ 03:00 am
Happy LJ Anniversary to me!!  
A very big thank you to micolerose  for my lovely rubber duckie! I will be diving into the bath in a minute and will toss in his non-virtual counterparts in homage!

The reason that I originally took up lj was because my lovely friend GBrampton, aka dumbys_baby, lured me to the dark side by having a birthday, or perhaps going away for a few months ... something that deserved a nice present at any rate. But I was out of ideas. The one thing I could remember her saying wasn't "I crave a red mandolin for the kitchen", rather: "Don't knock fanfic until you've read, or better yet, written some."

So I did, both. And while I still would not describe myself as a fan, I am a convert to fic. You've heard me rave before about the talent and the generosity of fandom, so I won't repeat it all here, but it has been an experience that I would not have missed. And I have had some really unmissable experiences in my life to calibrate by. Of course, the past tense there is purely for effect, as if nothing else, I have WIPs and a sense of how cranky people will be if I never finish them. Unlike some people *cough Shadow of his Wings, cough*.

Alas, this is not the fic update you are probably looking for, but it is the next part of that story I began for GB. And I'll post again in a few minutes with a small gift for those lovely people who have nagged, harrangued, wondered how Fathers is going recently (and not so recently).

Title: These Fragile Bonds (GB's Story) 4/?
Author: blamebrampton 
Summary: Dumbledore's death drives two points home to Harry. The first is that he can never go home again. The second is that he wholly failed  to understand Draco Malfoy. One rescue, some unplanned shagging and a battle to the death later, both points are still true. Set directly after HBP.
Rating: PG this chapter. Up to a light R overall
Words this chapter
: 5505 (23,300 so far in total)
: Absolutely nothing to do with Jo Rowling, Bloomsbury, Scholastic or any other media titans. But affectionately nicked from all of the above.
Author's notes: Thank you so much to anthimaeria for her lightning-fast edit of the first four chapters of this section, the remaining blunders are all my own work. I completely failed to get it to the wonderful jadzialove in anything approaching reasonable time, so check back in a day or two if typos cut to the quick.

Many, many thanks to dear GB, who was so right. I will be much faster with the next bit as the lads fall back into bed there and rescue me from the necessity of plot for a few lines!

Most of all, thank you Flist for making this such an enjoyable, enlightening and intriguing year. Here's to the next one!

part one
part two
part three

Harry realised very quickly that there was a world of difference between being in a fight and being in a riot. He had faced danger before, they all had, but it had been personal and targeted. The riot was chaos; hexes flew with little discernment, centaurs galloped past and he was shoved and barged by Ministry officials with wands drawn.

Kingsley took the lead, and the other four followed him through a gap to the outskirts of the brawl. They took temporary refuge behind one of the Thestral carts, and tried to understand the sight before them. The Ministry group had formed a rough circle, with those on the outside attacking with their wands while the wounded and exhausted were pulled into the centre. As Scrimgeour barked orders, the whole circle was inching back away from the edges of the forest, towards the protection offered by the outlying walls and structures of Hogwarts. Harry could see that Scrimgeour was on the front lines, and that he was flanked by his private squad of Aurors.

The centaurs were operating in waves from the forest. At the back were their archers, who were shooting blunts so far as Harry could see; designed to bruise but not puncture. In front were the larger members of their group, who ran charging into the Ministry forces, seeking to disperse them. For their part, the Ministry wizards and witches were Stunning, not aiming to kill. It looked as though both sides had already given some thought to the aftermath of the action.

“You cannot hope to win,” one of the Ministry wizards bellowed in unnaturally amplified tones.

“Leave this place, you have no authority here!” responded a centaur. Harry recognised him as Bane.

“The Ministry has authority everywhere, centaur. Work with us and you will find that we also have the power to protect you.” That was the Minister, and his words were met by what Harry could only assume was laughter. Still, his voice had been sincere, even reasonable. Harry realised that Scrimgeour actually believed in what he was doing.

“Harry!” Arthur Weasley fell into place beside them, at the edge of their makeshift shelter. “It’s gone horribly to pot … Hello Kingsley, Remus, Ron, Hermione.”

“Has anyone been hurt?” Kingsley snapped into Auror mode.

“One broken arm for us, one concussion for them, bruising all round,” Arthur updated. “But I am not sure how long it will be before someone makes a mistake and things take a turn for the worse.”

Harry looked up at Kingsley. “Any plans?”

“I’m tempted to Stun the lot of them, but there aren’t enough of us to hit everyone from the Ministry and if we drop the centaurs, we can’t trust what will happen to them.”

“Smoke?” Hermione suggested.

“Could work,” Lupin mused.

“If they can’t see who to shoot at or Stun, both sides might make a tactical retreat anyway.”

“It’s worth a try.” Kingsley had half stood up when the ground thudded with pounding hooves on the other side of the cart and a large golden body flew over them.

The centaur wheeled about, then dropped to his knees before them, out of the direct line of fire from either side.

“Firenze …” Harry whispered, surprised.

“This is not a good place for you to be, Harry Potter,” Firenze stated. “I have come because I have foreseen a great evil will take place here today.”

“That’s what we’re trying to stop,” Harry said quickly. “The Ministry has no right.”

Firenze shook his head. “Go home,” he ordered, then looked about at the others. “All of you, go home. There is little time. This is not the place for you.”

“It’s not the place for any of us,” Kingsley replied, standing up and conjuring a cloud of smoke from the air. Lupin and Arthur joined him, quickly blotting out the battle before them.

“Tell Bane to take everyone back into the Forest,” Harry urged his former teacher. “We’ll cover their escape, the Ministry won’t dare go in far, all he has to do is make sure they keep to the deep for a few days.”

Firenze looked out into the smoke, seeing what was hidden. “The time for safety is passing, Harry Potter. As we stand here, the end begins.”

“Oh for goodness’ sake!” Hermione muttered in exasperation. She stood up beside Kingsley and pointed her wand at her throat. “Retreat! Everyone retreat!” she shouted.

Harry watched in amazement as the plan started to work. Figures came pouring backwards out of the now dense fog, and he could hear hooves cantering away in the distance. For a brief moment he felt relief. Then there was a cry from within the cloud.

A second later there was a scream: “Minister!”

Ron put a hand on Harry’s shoulder, peering into the mist. “That’s Percy,” he muttered, worried.

And there he was. Percy Weasley, stumbling as he dragged Rufus Scrimgeour back to nominal safety. But safety did not matter to the Minister anymore. An arrow protruded from his chest. Wide, glazed eyes left no doubt.

“That is not an arrow of ours!” Firenze declared. Then he was on his feet, his massive body galloping past them, with a rallying cry of “To the woods, we are betrayed!” and every remaining centaur followed him, invisible within the smoke, which was suddenly devoid of sound.

Too late, the Ministry staff began to hurl hexes into the unknown.

“Is he really dead?” Ron whispered, looking at the pale face of his brother rather than the still form he carried.

“Will he be all right?” Hermione fretted, looking after Firenze. “Bane hates him …”

Harry was staring at the arrow in Scrimgeour’s chest. The fletches were showy green, red and gold, the shaft was black, it looked nothing like the oak arrows with white swan feathers that littered the battlefield. “That’s not one of their arrows,” he echoed.

Arthur nodded in agreement, then looked about sharply. “Kingsley, take them away, now, somewhere safe.”

Remus groaned as he, too, realised the meaning behind the arrow. “Position Delta,” he snapped, then grabbed hold of Ron and Hermione before Apparating away.

Kingsley bowed his head towards Arthur, then took Harry’s arm and did the same.

Harry was startled to find himself in the alleyway behind a cafe.

“We have codewords?” Hermione was spluttering behind him.

“Hey, I think it’s cool,” Ron said with a high, nervous laugh.

“It's ridiculous and why do the three of us not know them?”

Remus spread his hands placatingly. “Left over from the last war, I have to say. I’m impressed that Kingsley remembered it.”

“We’ll devise a new set immediately,” Kingsley promised. “With codewords that are not ridiculous. I did not …” he breathed heavily, “I did not think we would be needing such things so quickly.”

“Someone killed him,” Harry said quietly.

The others stilled and looked at him. He went on. “Someone was there, waiting, to shoot him. Only the Ministry staff knew they would be there in advance, and that there would be centaurs.”

Kingsley and Remus nodded. Hermione pressed her lips together tightly.

Ron looked at their faces, with the beginning of fear on his. “So that means?”

Hermione took his hand. “The Ministry has fallen, Ron. The Death Eaters will move to control it now. It means they’re in power. They are the law.”

“But Dad, Percy …”

Kingsley patted Ron’s shoulder. “Arthur will get him out in the panic. The Death Eaters won’t take over immediately, it will all appear to be done properly, there will be meetings, votes. For all intents and purposes everything will seem to be functioning as normally as possible. If they’re smart, Percy will say it’s all too much and Arthur will take him home.”

Ron shook his head. “It’s the Ministry, they’re on our side.”

Hermione patted his hand, Harry wished she could pat his, too, and make everything better. But he needed to think now. Firenze had been right. They were out of time.

They were onto their third cup of tea before Tonks broached the topic. Draco was impressed: she had been looking as though she would ask since the others left.

“Did Severus treat you well?” She frowned slightly, as though not sure how to phrase her next question. “Did he …” She gave up.

Draco guessed. “Did he give me any indication which side he was really spying for?”

Tonks nodded, biting her bottom lip.

Draco shook his head. “He very carefully did not. Which naturally leads me to believe that he and Dumbledore had a very long game in place, one that he is still following.”

Tonks was too old to hope easily, so the measured nod she gave in response to his words strangely reassured Draco. He added, “He took very good care of me. Harry thinks Dumbledore asked him to.”

Tonks half-smiled. “You were in his house, he’d have taken care of you anyway. He was very good about that.”

It was suddenly a little difficult for Draco to swallow his tea. He cast about for another topic of conversation, and found that Tonks had placed a device similar to the one Harry had spoken into on the table. He pointed at it. “So what’s the charm on the little black things?”

Tonks grinned. “No charm, they’re a Muggle invention. Called a phone. You punch in the number of the one that someone else has, and then when they answer, you can talk directly to them. Apparently they can scramble everything you say so that no one can pick it up except the person you want to.”

Draco blinked. “Muggle? That’s … actually, that’s very smart …”

“There’s a lot of Muggle stuff that’s smart,” Tonks said with a smile. “I noticed that you took to my Dad’s house quickly enough.”

“Well, that’s just the expensive antiques.”

“You are such a snob.”

“Says the woman who chose a Georgian townhouse for a hideout.”

“That was cleverness!” Tonks insisted. “They will be looking for us in every Wizarding property in Britain, but it won’t occur to them to look in Muggle homes.”

“Surely they’ll spot your wards.”

Tonks grinned brightly. “That’s why it was perfect that Dad had a house in Godric’s Hollow. There are wards everywhere here, left over from the first War. And so much residue of magic that it’s all but impossible to spot new spells.”

Draco shook his head. “You are destroying all of my prejudices regarding Hufflepuffs.”

She winked. “I’m am Auror, not a schoolgirl.” Her face grew serious. “We’re relying on prejudices, too. I just hope that ours are better founded than theirs. It’s only a matter of time before they come looking for Harry."

Draco wished he could argue. They sat silently for a little while, until the phone rang. Tonks snatched it up, and listened intently to the voice at the other end. Draco could only hear snatched words: centaurs, Death Eaters, hiding. “Is that Harry?” he whispered.

Tonks held up a forestalling hand. “You’re sure? It was definitely Scrimgeour?”

Draco asked the question silently, and Tonks shook her head, mouthing ‘Dead’. Draco pointed to the phone. This was urgent now.

Tonks made him wait a moment. “Yes, I understand. You take your time coming back, whatever precautions you need. Is Remus there? All right, give him my love when he’s back from scouting. Listen, Draco wants a word.” She held the phone out, making sure he saw which was the right way round to hold it.

Draco snatched the phone from Tonks’s hand. “Harry, listen to me, don’t argue, just listen. Go to Gringotts now and close your account. Take out everything. Tell Lupin, Shacklebolt, Weasley and Granger to do the same.”

There was a pause and Harry’s voice came through the small machine, tinnily arguing.

Draco cut him off, “Scrimgeour is dead. The Ministry is exposed. The next steps will be The Prophet and Gringotts. They won’t be able to get into Gringotts, but they can certainly control who else goes in, and what comes out. Control the law, control the press, control the money: it’s textbook. If I am wrong, I’ll pay you double the interest you’ll have missed out on.”

Harry was speaking again, but this time the tone was inquisitive.

“Of course I don’t need to, Malfoy money is the gold standard of this regime. And I wish I didn’t mean that literally.”

Draco heard the tiny sigh at the other end of the line. “You knew that already,” he reminded Harry. Now stop chatting, go to Gringotts. You have a few hours before everything goes to hell, but I wouldn’t leave it until tomorrow.”

He paused, then couldn’t help adding, “And for Merlin’s sake, be careful. They’re after you and you can only hope they’re too busy to be actively searching yet.”

Harry hung up, and Draco was left looking at the phone for a few moments. When he put it back on the table, he lifted his eyes to find Tonks looking searchingly at him. He rolled his eyes at the look on her face. “Can you imagine what Weasley would do to me if wonder boy was nabbed by Death Eaters in the first twenty-four hours of sheltering me?”

“Yeah, that was absolutely the impression I was taking away from your conversation there.”

“Shut up.”

She made them more tea, and they settled back to wait.

“Where’s Remus?” Harry snapped the phone shut and stuffed it deep into his pocket.

“Here,” came the man’s voice from the end of the alley. “It’s quite safe, we have a table waiting and I’ve taken the liberty of ordering tea.”

“Ron will need some cake.”

“Hermione! I’m not five years old, I don’t need sugar whenever anything bad happens.”

“Actually, I’ve ordered a sponge cake for the table, too.”

“Ooh cheers, Remus, that sounds great.”

Harry paused. He wanted nothing more than to sit down and get his bearings for a few minutes, but if Draco was right …

“Do we have a quarter hour?” Kingsley was looking at him closely.

Harry found himself nodding. “Draco says it will take a few hours for them to move into action.”

“Then we stop and plan for a moment rather than rushing in, exposed.”

Harry nodded. He glanced at Remus and saw the worry on his face. “They’re fine,” he reassured. “Draco just warned me. Now the Death Eaters have begun to move, they’ll be controlling access to Gringotts next, and taking the Prophet. He says we should get money out while we can.”

Ron snorted, but Hermione nodded slowly. “It’s a good idea. I’ll have some exchanged while we’re there. Is there a Barclays here? Where is here anyway?’

Remus, Ron and Harry went onto the cafe and made a start on tea while Kingsley and Hermione trotted up the high street for a bank machine.

“I cannot believe you are listening to ferret face,” Ron muttered as they sat down. “He stands up with you in one fight, and all of a sudden he’s your new best mate.”

Harry shook his head. “Don’t be stupid, Ron, you’re my best mate. But Malfoy’s made his choice and he’s chosen our side. I don’t think you realise what a big thing that is for him.”

“I don’t think you realise that you can’t trust him as far as you can throw him. He might be on our side today, but one word from his father and that’ll change.”

“Lucius is in Azkaban,” Harry reminded him.

“Azkaban is the Ministry’s prison,” Ron countered.

Harry shook his head. “Malfoy blames his father for leaving him to Voldemort,” he said. “Even if Lucius is set free, Malfoy doesn’t trust him. He just wants his mother to be safe, the same as you, Ron.”

“Yeah, well my Mum’s only safe as long as the wards hold, and my dad and Percy are at the mercy of the Ministry, so don’t expect me to feel sorry for Malfoys.”

“Arthur knows what he is doing,” Remus reminded them. “He’ll keep them safe. He was doing this before you were born, Ron. I know you think of him as a bit fuddled, but he is a smart, brave man.”

“I don’t think of him as fuddled,” Ron muttered.

Remus turned his attention to Harry. “Draco was certain that they would move on Gringotts? But what about the goblins?”

“He said they’d control access. I think he meant that they could control who went where on Diagon Alley, which would upset the goblins, but since they’d still have the gold in their vaults, it’d probably be allowed.”

Remus nodded. “And he thought we should get there first so that we can fund ourselves if this war takes as long as the last one.”

Harry nodded. “He says we should pull out all of our money, or at least as much as we can carry.”

“Merlin, Harry, how much do you have in there?” Ron forgot to frown for a moment.

“Enough. Sirius left me more than just the house. His Mum took back the disinheriting after he went to Azkaban.”

“That’s good,” Remus smiled. “He’d have loved that money funding the Order.”

Harry grinned, and made good headway on his cake. Hermione and Kingsley returned shortly after, and over a quick tea they agreed on a simple plan: get into Gringotts, get out with cash.

Hermione grinned as she produced a small fabric bag for each of them from her pockets. “I’ve been working on this all summer. Packing charms, can hold pretty much anything you can fit through the opening, and a bit more if you undo the side clasps.”

Remus and Kingsley were impressed, but it was Ron’s murmur of “You’re a genius” that made her blush.

Apparating to Diagon Alley was the work of a moment, but Remus hid the other four in an alleyway while he looked about. It was a good ten minutes before he returned with the all clear.

“The news is out,” he told them, indicating a Prophet poster on the wall. “People are nervous, they’re finishing up their shopping and going home.”

“We’ll be quick,” Kingsley muttered.

Ron paused halfway down the street. “I should warn Fred and George.”

Harry nodded. “I’ll grab a bit extra, you can pay me back later.”

“Yeah, okay,” Ron mumbled.

“What was that about?” Hermione watched him leave.

“I think his account is about as healthy as mine,” Remus told her with a half-smile. It can be galling to live on the charity of one’s friends.”

Harry gave a small shake of his head. “It’s not charity. It’s a war effort. It’s being funded by my godfather, who died fighting. If we live, everyone can throw Galleons at me once life goes back to normal, and if we don’t, it won’t matter.”

Remus put a hand on his shoulder as they walked up the white marble steps of the bank. “You’re right, Harry. We’re in it together.”

The goblins didn’t seem happy about the size of Harry’s withdrawal, but one took him to his vault without discussion. When he had filled his bag, and Ron’s, too, and added lightening charms so that he could carry them, he went back outside to the waiting cart.

The goblin looked up at him with a measured expression. “When the current situation has calmed down, we look forward to your business again, Mr Potter.”

Harry did not bat an eyelid. “I’m not sure which situation you are referring to, Mr Griphook, but rest assured that after my current cash flow situation has resolved, I will happily return my vaults to their previous levels.”

“Of course. You are one of our more valued new customers.”

“And I have found your service exemplary.”

The goblin could tell that there was a tactical dance here. As he set the cart off for Kingsley’s vault, he kept his eyes focussed on Harry, barely looking away when Kingsley went into his own vault.

Hermione waited until they were leaving before she changed her pounds for Galleons. She smiled and thanked the goblin who served her at the currency desk, and nodded politely to the witch in the queue behind her who was changing a large purse of Galleons for pounds. She did not say a word.

They all smiled at the door goblin, who tilted his cap in acknowledgement. Then they walked down Diagon Alley, casually chatting, and pointing at shop windows in a vaguely interested fashion. Once they arrived at Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes, Remus held the door open for the others and they strolled in.

Only to find everything being hastily packed into boxes.

Hermione dropped her bag and pulled out her wand to begin Shrinking Charms. “I’m so glad you’re packing. Did Ron tell you?”

George grinned at her as she shrunk a tableful of boxes into a handful. “No need. We were already starting to worry, and as soon as we heard they were off to the Forbidden Forest, we asked our neighbours to look after the building while we went on a voyage of discovery around Eastern Europe. Luckily Charlie’s been mouthing off for months that we ought to come to Romania, so anyone who’s sat down for a drink with him when he’s been visiting thinks we’re off on a boozy holiday.”

“You’re packing everything,” Harry marvelled as the stock leapt off shelves and into boxes and crates.

“Of course we are,” Fred told him. “Mail order is a cornerstone of our business. Besides Puking Pastilles could be a useful interrogation tool. They may not be able to talk while vomiting, but they’ll be keen to tell you whatever you need to know in order for you not to slip them another one.”

“That’s torture,” Hermione said, frowning.

“No, no, torture is arm-breaking and Crucio, this is more like persuasion.”

Harry could tell that Fred’s answer didn’t impress Hermione, but she took George aside and taught him the shrinking charm nonetheless. Fred grabbed a shop bag and filled it with preshrunk boxes.

“Can’t have you leaving empty-handed,” he said with a wink. “Besides, it’d look suspicious if we left carrying as many bags as we’ll need to shift everything.”

“Where are you going?” Remus asked.

“Home!” the twins declared together.

“Mum will be thrilled.”

“No sarcasm, Ronniekins, Mater will be delighted to see us since you have thoughtlessly abandoned her for the summer hols in favour of some secret work all your own.”

“That’s right,” George agreed. “She’ll be ready to strangle Ginny by now and will welcome us with open arms.”

“Percy might be there, too,” Ron reminded them.

“We will welcome the prodigal with open arms if he comes with apologies,” Fred declared, passing an over-full bag to Kingsley. “Right, that’s half the stock. Meet you all at the Burrow?”

Remus shook his head. “We’ll have to drop and run. See you if you make it there before we go.”

The merriment left Fred’s eyes for a moment. “Travel safely, all of you.”

They walked with more purpose as they left the shop, and wandered up the road a little towards a more convenient Apparition spot. They had barely gone five paces, though, when a small witch rushed up to them.

“Excuse me,” she gasped. “I’m sorry to be rude, but are you Harry Potter?”

Harry was too surprised to speak, though from the corner of his eyes he saw both Remus and Kingsley reach for their wands. But the witch was peering at his forehead, her face pure concern.

“Oh you are. Dear, you can’t have heard, there’s been a tragedy and the Minister is dead. They’re saying it was Centaurs, but who’s ever heard of a Centaur assassinating anyone? It was darker forces, dear. They’re afoot. This isn’t a safe place for you, can your friends help you get home?”

“We have that under control, madam,” Kingsley boomed from behind Harry in his best public relations tone.

“Ooh, Mr Shacklebolt, I didn’t notice you, I was too busy trying to see if Harry was really Harry. His father used to play with my Muriel when they were little, you see. That’s how I knew.”

Her last words were directed to Harry again, and when she took his hand and patted it gently, he didn’t resist. He blinked in surprise, and was just beginning to smile when Kingsley grasped his shoulder and turned him up the alleyway. Harry looked back over his shoulder at this surprising reminder of history. “Thank you!” he remembered to call before Kingsley Apparated him away.

They were quick at the Burrow. Molly Weasley had been out in the garden reinforcing the wards when they arrived, and mildly fretting over Arthur, who had assured her he would be home, and on stress leave, soon.

Molly was elated to hear that the twins were coming home, and cheerfully directed where the bags of stock should be put, then straightaway launched into plans for Ron’s school outfitting and told Harry that Ginny would be back soon. Harry was grateful that Ron’s guilt over not mentioning he was not headed back to school dragged them out of there so quickly. He and Ginny had not parted on the best of terms when he moved to Godric’s Hollow.

Remus and Kingsley led them from Ottery St Catchpole to Brighton, and from there to Battle, before a final Apparation to Godric’s Hollow and back into the house. By the time they arrived home the tea and cake had long worn off and Ron was eager to call his father.

“Owl him,” Hermione advised. “The Ministry controls the Floo traffic, we can’t trust it anymore.”

They were barely through the door before Tonks threw herself into Remus’s arms. “Oh thank Merlin,” she murmured.

“What’s happened?” he asked, holding her gently.

It was Malfoy who answered. “We heard it on the Wireless: the Ministry has closed Diagon Alley and interned the shopkeepers. They say that one of them fed the Centaurs the information that had Scrimgeour killed.”

Hermione was already pulling her quill out of her purse when Harry’s phone rang. He answered it and listened for a moment, then handed it to Ron with a grin on his face.

“That was Mr Weasley,” he told the others. “Fred and George left on their ‘holiday’ before the crackdown, and he’s taken leave, saying that he was too traumatised by Scrimgeour’s death to go back to work.”

“What about Percy?”

Harry’s smile disappeared. “He didn’t say.”

“He’ll be fine,” Draco announced.

Harry and Hermione frowned at him, but he kept their gaze. “He’s a top bureaucrat who knows how half the Ministry functions and has no serious political beliefs. They want to look as though everything is functioning normally and as though due process is being observed. People like Percy Weasley are invaluable.”

“You know an awful lot about how they think,” Hermione muttered.

“I’ve been listening to it since I was in my cradle, Granger. That’s why you should listen to me occasionally.”

Harry patted the purses in his pockets. “Thanks for the tip on the money. We took out enough for a few years, thought it was best to err on the side of caution.”

Draco held his gaze for a long moment. “I hope you’re right there,” he said eventually.

Behind them, Ron pressed the button to end his phone call and sighed loudly. “Percy wouldn’t listen to Dad,” he told the group. “He’s staying put.”

Kingsley patted him on the shoulder. “He’ll be fine, he’s not a stupid man.”

Ron nodded, but didn’t seem convinced.

Kingsley looked at his watch and frowned. “ I have to leave you – my shift begins in half an hour. I think this place is still safe, but we should begin to plan for our next moves.”

Remus and Tonks agreed. Harry’s shoulders fell ever so slightly. This house had been strangely comfortable to him, like an expensive sleepover with friends. He left the adults to sort out their next meeting and went back to the kitchen to find some pumpkin juice.

Draco followed him. He waited until there were doors between them and the others before he spoke. “It’s happening, Potter. We need to get my mother out of there as soon as we can.”

Harry nodded soberly. “As soon as we can, Draco. I keep my promises.”

Dinner was quiet. The Wireless news led with Scrimgeour’s death, and described the detention of the Diagon Alley shopkeepers as a necessary precaution. The Wizengamot was to meet in the morning to discuss a new Minister, and legislation that allowed for arrests without proof.

“And how is that different to what we had yesterday?” Hermione muttered bitterly.

Tonks patted her hand gently. “It’s out in the open,” she said comfortingly.

Remus shook his head. “Only to us, Dora. To everyone else the Ministry is moving to protect us from an outside foe.”

“Not everyone,” Harry reminded him. “There are people out there who know exactly what’s going on, even if they’re hiding rather than fighting.”

“So what do we do?” Ron asked.

“We get an early night.” Remus stood up and stretched. “Then we start a new plan in the morning.”

The six of them trotted back to their respective rooms. Harry sat on his trundle, looking out the window. Draco sat on his bed for a while, then picked up one of a book and read. After a while, Draco threw the paperback at Harry’s head.

“What was that for?” Harry complained.

“Ignoring me.”

Harry turned his attention back to the window. “Are you always like this? Because we don’t have to be friends if you are.”

“I’m bored.”

“Well, read your book, or go have a shower, or get some sleep. I’m not here for your entertainment.” No sooner had the words left his mouth than Harry realised his error. Shaking his head, he turned around to find Draco laughing at him.

“Oh shut up.”

“You really do make it too easy, Potter.”

“I’m ignoring you because I am waiting for something.”

“You can wait and talk to me. Or do something else.”

Harry picked up the book and threw it back to Draco, then looked back out the window.

“We could talk about the book,” Draco offered. “Or centaurs. A watched-for Owl never arrives.”

Harry didn’t budge. Draco’s voice became petulant. “Why make such a fuss?”

Harry ignored him and kept staring out the window. “Be like that,” Draco sniffed, and went back to his reading.

About 10 minutes later there was a tap at the window. It was Hedwig. She clucked happily as Harry fed her the snack he’d been holding, while untying a message from her leg with his other hand. He turned around, grinning, and held out the parchment, unopened.

“It’s for you,” he told Draco.

Draco looked up in surprise, with a brief flash of embarrassment for his surliness, and took the offered note. He opened the seal, and his features relaxed into a broad smile. He looked up to find Harry looking at him oddly. “It’s from my mother,” he said. “Although she’s talking in riddles.”

“Yeah, I know,” Harry confessed. “Does she mention anything about sponsorship?”

“Yes. How did you …?”

Harry’s grin was back. “Told you I’d keep my promise I sent her an owl from the Ministry, and one to Bill Weasley asking him to send Hedwig to pick up her reply.” He ruffled the white bird’s feathers affectionately. “I don’t use her that often, she’s a bit distinctive, but I didn’t think that anyone would suspect your mum of using my bird. So, what does she say?”

Draco was astonished. “She says she’ll meet us at Canterbury Cathedral at the time you suggested to discuss matters. Potter, did you do something smart?”

“It has been known to happen,” Harry laughed.

Draco stood up and across Harry’s trundle in one elegant step. He caught the back of Harry’s head in one hand and kissed the top of his brow. “Thank you,” he said simply, then stepped away.

“Um, do you want get some sleep? We’ll need to be there early in the morning.” Harry pushed his glasses straight again, glad for the excuse to hide the sudden warmth in his cheeks. “I’m coming to ask her if she’ll let us protect her, but that’ll only take a minute or two, you should be okay to talk for a lot longer, I can grab a coffee in the town, you can meet up with me later then I can get you back past the wards here.”

Draco was smiling as he picked up his towel and bathrobe. “You’re babbling, Potter,” he announced.

Harry stopped talking and sat quietly, still startled by the trace of cool fingers on his neck and in his hair. By the time Draco emerged from the bathroom, he was tucked into his trundle, and feigning sleep authentically.

Current Location: in front of heater!
Current Mood: chipperchipper
goddessrissgoddessriss on July 15th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
OK, you are spoiling us today. I had to go back and re-read the last chapter to remind myself where we were with this fic. I'll own up, I thought you'd forgotten about it but was too well-mannered to hound you for two fics at once...

Anyway, it was good. I liked how Draco's mind worked - control the money and the media. It makes sense, as did the twins' extended 'drinking holiday'. The character interaction is great, the dialogue, as always, sparkles. Lovely. Thank you.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 16th, 2008 07:01 am (UTC)
I had to go back and re-read, too, I think this is a sign I should update more often ;-) And you ARE a gem over the non-hounding, I do feel guilty about my slowness, too much happening this year and I am trying to rearrange my house and learn Italian at the same time.

Thanks for your kind words on what is mostly exposition, this story is my problem child since it doesn't flow like a short story at all, but in the end I think it will come together well. It's just that the end is so far away ...
oopsoddishly on July 15th, 2008 07:22 pm (UTC)
Am saving this fic for in a couple of manic-no-more weeks, but... Happy LJversary! :) *waves flags*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 16th, 2008 07:04 am (UTC)
Thank you! I can't believe it's been a whole year! If you wait a bit longer than a fortnight, I will have some more up, this is the annoying very long fic of very slow progress that has all the major change scenes written but acres of space between them. I think every writer has one ...
uminohikariuminohikari on July 15th, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC)
asdfjkl; ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

</ useless comment >
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 16th, 2008 06:56 am (UTC)
You're never useless, dear! XXX BB
AMY 凛☆ラブ☆アタックtomatoe18 on July 16th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
Happy Anniversary! ♥♥♥

(I've never read this one before. Your other fics consumed me, particularly Beneath Boundless Sky, which is like your masterpiece contribution to fandom in general for which I shall be eternally grateful. I fail at being your fan/friend. Please to forgive me. I will start reading soon.)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 16th, 2008 06:55 am (UTC)
Don't be silly, Miss Tomatoe! This will be the longest WIP I ever write, so you have AGES to catch up with it and are probably wise waiting for it to get somewhere more exciting!

And no being my fan, I'm just another ficcer like you. Friend is perfectly good! Your kind words over BBS always cheer me!
Dedicated Escape Artist: peppermint pattyjadzialove on July 16th, 2008 04:29 am (UTC)
Rather than blaming Brampton, I will erect a very well-deserved shrine to her, in thanks for coercing you into fandom!

Happy Anniversary to you. (I can't believe I didn't know you a year ago!)

blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 16th, 2008 07:32 am (UTC)
I know! It's crazy! I feel as though I have known you for years ...

Ms Brampton is a lovely lovely lass, so I will buy her a cup of hot chocolate on your behalf when next we catch up, since I doubt you'll have room for a shrine in your new place.
Dedicated Escape Artist: Coffee Timejadzialove on July 16th, 2008 12:53 pm (UTC)
Right! Good thinking---the bathroom is sort of large-ish because the washer and dryer go in there (there's an entire cupboard for them!) but that sort of sends the wrong message, I think, praying in the toilet... Better the hot chocolate, yes.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 17th, 2008 03:27 am (UTC)
She would be amused, but yes, I think you are best off using the space for towel storage ;-)
beatnikspinster on July 16th, 2008 11:26 pm (UTC)
Excellent! How did I miss reading this story before?! I'm glad to finally get caught up with it. Your fall of the Ministry was politically complex and still had urgency. I love that the Order feels more like a collaborative effort.

There are no words for how much I love you for putting the sex first. I love slow-build UST, but it's a nice change of pace to read Unplanned Orgasm Fallout. (UOF?)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 17th, 2008 03:29 am (UTC)
Yes, it's obvious this is my first fic, because like a first novel it has the writer slathered large -- casual shagging and obsessed with politics? Yes please!

Thanks for your kind words, I do have the next chapter of this mostly written, too, but I need to finish Fathers first or a few people will never stop mocking me (which is fair ...)
Asphodaelashesto on April 21st, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)
a;sldkfjalskdjf How did I miss this fic before. It is amazing so far, yes, and oh, the logical takeover of the Wizarding world and. Just really brill, yes.

I hope you haven't abandoned this series? Because it is awesome. \o/
blamebramptonblamebrampton on April 21st, 2009 03:50 pm (UTC)
It's very quiet and secret! But not abandoned. In fact, I have much more written, but have lacked time to sort it all out while concentrating on other WIPs. It will be picked up again in the not too distant future. I'll try and remember to come back to let you know (72% likelihood of me remembering!)
Asphodaelashesto on April 23rd, 2009 06:42 am (UTC)
Oh, lovely! \o/ I will keep an eye out for it then; I've loved all your writing so far, really. >w
fireflybanner on March 23rd, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
These Fragile Bonds
I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed this story. I love the characterizations, especially Draco's interaction with everyone. It rings very true in every way. I hope your muse leads you back here.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on March 24th, 2010 03:15 am (UTC)
Re: These Fragile Bonds
Thank you! I do have three more chapters of this all but ready to go, but I need to finish up Fathers first, and then this is the next one on the list to be worked on intensely.

And after my accidental slip into one quick fest, I am being strong again and focussing wholly on neglected WiPs and original work (which I need to procrastinate on so much that the WiPs look as though they will be in luck!)
sara51 on October 24th, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
This is fantastic. I really hope you'll continue it soon!
horses are eternally giving you the finger: Lovekaos_sparrow on January 24th, 2011 02:45 am (UTC)
Oh wow, how did I not find this sooner? (I may or may not be trawling your fic list.)
Young!Draco as a more complex character is win. ;)
Bubba: Chartreuseabsynthedrinker on February 16th, 2011 06:28 am (UTC)
Wow! Bravissima!

embolinaozembolinaoz on February 22nd, 2013 11:43 pm (UTC)
Ever hopeful
This is a lovely alternate DH and I do hope one day you'll complete it - Fathers seems to indicate it's possible ;)

Whatever happens the fact remains your writing is a joy to experience and whatever it is I just hope there's more!

kala adaephon on December 29th, 2016 11:49 am (UTC)
Come on.... It's almost 2017!!!! Please update and complete d story...;).... I'm only saying this coz d story is awesome!!!