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The Principle of Sympathy

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The Principle of sympathy:

The Principle of Sympathy:

First law of the Magical discipline called Thaumaturgy.

meaning :"like produces like; what belongs together, comes together."

 

Chapter 1: Silence of a Malfoy

A silent demise,


Indignant by nature, A tragedy profound
When put to the test, Determination found
Horror within, Dissipates away
Falling to your knees, the time has come to pray...

"You! Narcissa! Examine the Boy! Tell me whether he is dead!" he heard a deep shrill voice say some distance away from him. It was unmistakably Voldemort's.

Narcissa? His mind was still a little dazed. He had heard that name before. Before he could pin point the identity his mind provided him with a visual. Long straight blonde hair, thin face, pursed lips, blue eyes and a nose wrinkled in disgust. Narcissa, Narcissa Malfoy. Mother of one Draco Malfoy. Thorn in his side, Arch nemesis, evil git, Draco Malfoy. Draco Malfoy that he had just rescued a little while ago from certain death by fiendfyre that one of his cronies had conjured in the room of requirements. With Ron and Hermione. They had barely escaped. Ron and Hermione. His friends, his life. He did have a life. It was waiting for him back at Hogwarts, for one last show down. He knew it all now and he refused to die, he of all people had been given a chance for some reason and he had never been one to give up on a chance to do something right.

But now time to kill was closing in. His hand closed in on the wand that was still tucked under his jumper, Draco Malfoy's wand. Narcissa Malfoy was all that stood between him and Voldemort and certain death. He reeled in a slow breath. Just as he felt something soft and silky touch his face, a soft hand, in a gesture softer than he expected, brushing against his face and then a finger pressed tenderly against his neck.

"Draco? Is he in the castle?" she whispered so near to his ear. He knew she could give him away any moment and if she wanted the reassurance before she gave him away, well, he could not deny a mother. He was not Voldemort.

"Yes." he exhaled slowly, a whisper only lower than hers as he felt the pressure of her hand moving from his neck to his chest, it clenched at his jumper for a moment before letting go.

"Survive Potter! For my Draco…" She whispered at him fiercely. It was an order, a plea all in one.

Survive for her Draco? The statement seemed very odd until he heard something even odder.

"He is dead My Lord." She said in a loud and clear voice.

There were suddenly whoops and cheers from all sides. Someone howled in despair at the same time. His heart skipped a beat, he felt so still with shock that he could really be mistaken for dead for a split second, that was before gratitude, awe and determination rushed in. He braced himself for the final test. He needed to play his cards right. He had been given a chance. One last move. To kill, to live. He knew now the power he had which Voldemort did not. He knew that he would succeed.


 

"Narcissa Malfoy died sometime last night in her sleep. The Malfoy solicitor informed us early this morning." Kingsley Shacklebolt pinches the bridge of his nose wearily.

The news is no surprise to me. A house elf from the manor informed me within an hour of her death last night. After all, I am one of the very few she still allowed visits to in her last days. As strange as it is. I have been perhaps the only social visitor to the woman who was once belle of every social ball.

I do not know when and how my silent friendship with the Malfoy matriarch developed. I think it started after Lucius Malfoy's death four years ago. With loss of Draco and Lucius, there was no one left for the stoic matriarch, who had taken a vow of silence for some reason after the war ended. Many do not know the fact, that the last ten words that Narcissa Malfoy uttered in her life were divided evenly between the dark lord and me. They also do not know that had those ten words never been spoken, the result of the war would have been very different. Even if no one knows now, Narcissa Malfoy knew the importance of those words, so do I, which is perhaps the reason she chose never to speak another word.

Mothers. They are such peculiar things. There was mine, who gave her life for me. There is Mrs. Weasley, who took life for her child and then there was Narcissa Malfoy, who saved me and killed another for her child, because saving me did lead to Voldemort's destruction for good. All of it for her child she never got to see again. She never regretted her decision though. She never complained. In words or in action.

So how do you react to the news of the death of someone who you never particularly liked yet owed your life to in a strange bizarre way? Someone you shared a silent, inexplicable, allegiance with. Someone you visited twice a month for a silent cup of tea religiously and never spoke a word to.

She had never welcomed me, but she had never turned me away as well. My relationship with the Malfoys has never been simple. I cannot say that I have ever understood them or their motives. There always have been many unknown variables. The past is just too complicated. Enough of musing. I feel the minister is waiting for my reaction to the news he has just delivered me.

"I see, that is grave news." I find myself saying. How very adult of me! I do feel a strange sense of loss though. I know why I am here sitting in front of the minister. I know what he is about to ask of me. I also know that I would say yes. That is one of the few things the war changed. Loss makes the previously brave, hypocrites.

Malfoy estate remains one of the biggest and richest estates in the whole of Europe. The Ministry that is still struggling seven years after the war, has been literally salivating after Malfoy wealth since the end of the war. If only I did not support the Malfoys in the trials after the war, the estate would have been dissolved years ago. I am a senior Auror but my standing in the wizarding world is still undisputed in places where it matters. Once a savior, always a savior.

I often wonder what it is that I lost in the war to be exact, because I definitely lost something, to date I can't figure it out. Innocence? I had very little to begin with. Loved ones, all those who I could die for as I knew them, survived. Sense of purpose perhaps? No, I still have some purpose. I still feel it in my bones at times.

"Yes, The Malfoys are extinct now." His eyes are narrowed now, he is trying to sell the point and make me agreeable even if I refuse to participate.

I wonder when this man, Kingsley Shacklebolt, who had been one of the most powerful and important members of the order of the Phoenix during the second war, has turned into a shrewd politician. He reminds me now of both Fudge and Scrimgeour. I had thought things would be different, he would be different, but I'd realized soon after the war was over, things change, but people change too. He is different from what he was, but very much same to where he is.

"But as it is, it is not my biggest concern. My biggest concern is the Manor. You know it was one of the Dark lord's head quarters. You know how these ancient wards work. No matter how we have searched and how many times we have raided, I know that there must still be some dark artifacts that the manor would be hiding on its own."

I raise a proper inquiring brow at that. This keeping face is important. Not many know of my continued visits to the Manor on ministry's time and even less know of my private visits. Not many know that the Manor wards allow me in. Even after Narcissa's death. I have visited to over-look the arrangements that the House elves are putting together to facilitate an open wake for the deceased.

"Customarily, the wards come down by themselves a day before Mrs. Malfoy's wake which we hear is set for next Friday. The seven days limit would be over, but for the sake of propriety I want to delay the search the day after the wake for Mrs. Malfoy. We have tried our best that the Malfoy honor remains intact, but now the pressure is too much Harry. I would have waited longer but you do understand that now that there is no nominated blood heir to the Malfoy estate, the Estate would automatically come under the care of ministry. So I have decided to send you with a group of Aurors, a curse-breaker and Unspeakables to search the Manor for all kinds of dark magic and artifacts. I still respect what she did for us in the final battle which is why I want you to lead the search. Properly and discreetly of course, before I send in the team from Gringotts to make a final estimation for the worth of the estate."

He takes a deep breath as he utters the last sentence of what seems like a well-rehearsed speech. I know I unnerve him. I know I unnerve most of the people around me. I do not know if it is just me or my Magic, which I admit might be a formidable thing if I had to confront it in someone else.

He brings the cup of tea to his mouth, hiding his face, reminding me that I have a similar cup of tea waiting for me as well in front of me. I decide to ignore it. No good can come from tea with the minister. I am sure of it.

"Very well Minister, I am glad that you are still concerned about propriety. I would gladly do the search of the manor coming Saturday. I only have one request though."I make sure my tone is as bored and unaffected as possible.

"Come Harry! No formalities, you only have to say." He is anxious. I can see his apprehension shining in his deep dark eyes. I know he wishes terribly that I was still the same boy he met nine years ago, who was so in awe of him. Well, sadly enough I wish he was the same man too as he was nine years ago. Alas…

"I would like to select the people who will aid me in this… endeavor… myself." I say standing from my seat. It takes him a moment to understand that I am taking what he just said very literally. I am telling him, not asking, no formalities indeed.


"Ron…. Hermione… I greet casually as I reach them at the far side of the Restaurant's outdoor compound.

"Ah! Mate! I thought you would never show up! I am starving!" Ron says huffing, his cheeks flushed, I shoot a look at Hermione who also looks somewhat flushed, her eyes shining, posture a little stiff. They still try to hide it when they are snogging. They never grew out of the habit. I look at them both keenly with a twinkling look I hope rivals the one Dumbledore used to give.

It is a beautiful day and I am thankful that my best friends have chosen the outdoor tables at Finnegan's where we usually have our lunch on days the work is slow enough to take a long lunch break. It is a crisp spring afternoon. The blue sky and golden sun with fluffy white clouds, a perfect kind of day. On days like these I can lie on the grass in the back garden of my home, Grimmauld place and just stare at the sky. Given that such a day falls on a Sunday I don't have to work. Yes that is perfect. But it is not to be had. So I would make do with whatever I get.

This side of the restaurant does not face the main part of the Diagon Alley, for which I am thankful. The beautiful canopy above us turns a solemn Beige color from the Yellow that it was before. I see both Ron and Hermione notice.

Finnegan's is owned by our old school friend and fellow Gryffindor, the Irish pyromaniac Seamus Finnegan. Oddly enough in the three years of its running the kitchen has not suffered from a single fire incident. These canopies that adorn the open backyard of the restaurant were gifted to Seamus on the opening by the Three of us. They are inlaid with a slight empathy charm which evaluates the mood of the occupants and change color accordingly. Currently the Finnegan's is winding down from the Lunch rush so there aren't many canopied tables filled so I decide against deactivating the charm.

"I ordered the special for you with the lemonade." Hermione says her smile guarded. I smile at her in ascent removing my muted crimson Auror cloak and placing it on the back of my chair and opening a few buttons to loosen the collar of my scarlet Auror robes. Sometimes she just knows me too well, like a mother knows what the baby wants and precisely when. I love her for it. She has stood by me since I was a scrawny eleven year old with nothing but oversized, broken glasses , a mop of shaggy black hair and a lightning bolt scar to show for myself. Through thick and thin I always knew that Hermione would be by my side, No matter what. She is my rock. I turn to Ron who is also looking at me cautiously.

Ron is my rope. Sometimes he pulls me out of a precarious situations and sometimes he ties me down before I make a fool of myself. I often feel very…Compensated these days. If I was robbed of parents, I have friends like Ron and Hermione to look out for me. Especially now.

I know I worry them. With my workaholic tendencies and refusal to settle down. I know I worry them a lot with my loneliness and occasional bitterness. Sometimes they say jokingly that they feel I am possessed by Severus Snape's spirit. The way I brood and observe silently. It is difficult for them to accept that I have always been this way. It was just that from the time they met me and the formative years of our friendship we were in the middle of the war which brought out extreme emotions and reactions from me alongside the constant need for communication.

Now that my life is normal for the first time, I am my normal self. I am the boy who lived in the cupboard under the stairs with wall spiders for company. The boy who understands cruelty and malice the way most people don't. The boy who learned that the only way to keep surviving was by pretending you don't exist. The boy who learnt to make choices for the greater good rather than himself when he was finally given a choice. The boy who had willingly given himself to death and destruction to save everything. You don't make a choice like that lightly and just become all sunshine and cheers afterwards, not after you have been touched by evil in the ways I have been when I was just a boy. I am now that boy grown into a man. I understand the madness, the sadness, but I also accept that those things affected me. They are part of who I am now. Ingrained deep enough to not harm when dealt with, but impossible to change. What people don't realize is that people like me do not have a place in normal life, not in the normal sense at least.

"So how did it go with Kingsley Harry?"Hermione asks finally. She is one of the few who knew about my tentative and silent relationship with Narcissa.

"He wants to do the pillaging the day after the Wake. I am surprised that he was still piping about propriety and all that shit when we all know that all he wants is to gobble down the wealthiest wizarding estate in all of Europe. The good part is he wants me to do the pillaging and the best part is I was able to tell him that if I was about to do it, I would like to do with my own selection of Aurors and Unspeakables." I look at her meaningfully.

"Of course we would go with you Harry." she says extending her hand to touch mine over the table. It is such a familiar gesture from her it makes me feel like a Twelve year old again, who she soothed by telling that the one wizard Voldemort was scared of was Dumbledore, and as long as Dumbledore was around, no harm could come to us. I think I fell in love with her that night. That night made my bond with Hermione unbreakable. Like a bond between a brother and sister, made of same flesh and blood. All my friendships and relationships suffered strain at some point or another even with Ron, who left my side more than once, but never with Hermione. Hermione stayed with me. Always.

"I cannot ask you after what happened the last time you were there." despite my heart's protesting, I still want her to make this decision herself and save her from unnecessary pain. I see a shadow flicker in her eyes. The last time she had seen the Manor she had been tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange, Voldemort's most loyal and ardent death-eater, Psychopathic sister of Narcissa Malfoy. The scars from Hermione's last visit to the manor are still etched on her skin. I know what it is to ask this of her. The scars from the wars fade but never heal.

"No Harry, it was a different time and different circumstance. It does not matter anymore, in fact I would take it as a challenge!" she says beaming at me.

"Yes Harry, it's not like you have to ask me you know." Ron pipes up. Shrugging at me and scowling, before meticulously opening his cuffs and rolling them up as if he is about to get very handsy with something.

"You are my partner Ron, where I go you go, where you go, I go." I joke trying to dismantle the brooding atmosphere just as the waiter starts to serve the food explaining Ron's sleeve rolling.

"You see now Mione! You often ask me where I got the inspiration to name our son.. that's where! I go, you go, Hugo. Get it?" he says biting off half of a piece of ginger bread hastily and snorting, spewing crumbs all over. Some things never change. I can't help but snicker.

"Ronald Weasley! If that was your attempt at humor at the expense of your son! It was pathetic!" Hermione snaps at him in mock anger, which soon changes into an expression of adoration when Ron grins at her still chewing. It makes my heart clench somewhat. Witnessing happiness like this makes me more observant and cautious, I feel protective of it. I feel that something bad is going to happen just around the corner. It is natural. They are my best friends, married with two children and excellent careers with Ron, an Auror and a damn good one and Hermione an unspeakable and secretary supervisor for the department of mysteries. They have everything pegged down to perfection just like my parents did before I came along and it was all shattered into smithereens. I am the product of that perfect happiness and profound tragedy, the most tainted, jaded and imperfect being I know. So I watch like a hawk. This is perhaps one of the reasons I can never bring myself to settle down. I am what always goes wrong.

It was pretty much expected that I would marry Ginny right after the war. It just never happened. Our relationship was more broken than it was ever formed. I figured that I never had the passion for her. We were not compatible as lovers at all and we tried, quite a few times on and off until Two years ago when she finally decided to settle down with none other than Seamus. Now we have a very casual and easy friendship. No grudges, no broken hearts. I could not have asked for a better ending to that affair. Ginny is now pregnant with her first child and has already asked me to be the God father. Which would make me the God father of five children in total. I am a very busy man.

Lupin and Tonks' Teddy, George and Angelina's Freddie, Ron and Hermione's Rose and Hugo, and Ginny and Seamus' unnamed offspring all rely on me for all kinds of guidance in future, from pranks to Quidditch and career counseling to matters of the heart… Gods save them! I am thankful to God that Fred is gay and Godfather to rest of George's and Bill and Fleur's children. It is sort of daunting to be Godfather to five children at the age of Twenty four but then again, most of my friends are parents. I have nothing to complain.

I would be lying if I say I don't take special pride in being the undisputed favorite person of all my God children including the Unborn one, who bestowed me with its first kick ever just two days ago. Oh Yes, I am sure everyone saw me preening and bragging like the Gryffindor I am at the Burrow afterwards. I vowed to myself when I became Godfather to Teddy that I would be everything for Teddy that Sirius would have been for me had fate allowed. I work really hard at it and there is nothing more rewarding to me when I see my God children jump up and down at the mere sight of me. No matter how many times I see them during the week it's never enough for me, or them. Like I said, I am a very busy man.

I cannot blame my luck though as Hermione often points out for me, I myself particularly never go out of my way to score a date with someone, and the dates I do go on never work out very well.

Somewhere along the way, I figured that perhaps I am just not a very passionate or sexual person. Even if I have no problems in the department on a physical level at all, arousal comes as naturally to me as anyone, it's the fulfillment that is the problem. I have always been able to bring all my sexual partners to completion without any problems, several times , some even to date consider me the best they ever had, it's the other way round that is the problem. None of my sexual partners have ever been able to bring me to completion. It used to be frustrating in the beginning, expecting pleasure which everyone enjoyed around you with another person, but that is the extent of it. How can I waste away after something I never tasted? I desire it, I wish for it, but I have come to peace with the absence of it. Intimacy and connection can only go so far without completion, it is like a symphony without a crescendo. So in the end it's me and my good old hands.

Hermione suggests often that perhaps the trauma I had been through as a child had something to do with it and perhaps I should try to fix things with professional help, but she never pushes it and I just do not have time to speculate and fix what's wrong with me in that department apart from the very obvious insecurity. The lack of love-life on my part though has never done anything to erase constant speculation about me in gossip columns. I sometimes read them just for the sheer value of entertainment they provide me with during lonely breakfasts with Kreacher and Winky for company on weekends. I can be labeled as a Casanova type Sex-god to hopelessly impotent eunuch in a span of two days with full color details of sexual escapades I star in. I am after all the elusive, mysterious and so-called Hung like a horse Harry Potter, the most sought-after, eligible bachelor of the wizarding Europe. I even get fan mail from as far as Japan, Luna Lovegood, my friend, ex-lover and publicist tells me. To me it has all become an never failing source of amusement.

"Harry?" Hermione's voice brings me out of my musing. She is eyeing me knowingly.

"So, do you think we should go on Thursday and put up temporary wards on the manor until after the wake when we start the search? Just so none of the people invited to the wake venture inside and take anything that does not belong to them?" Ron asks chewing thoughtfully on his Pasta. I notice the identical order placed in front of me for the first time.

"I think that's a brilliant idea." says Hermione. "We'll do it on Thursday." I nod sighing happily at the tangy taste of my favorite lemonade with an extra pinch of pepper.

"How did she die though? You never told us in the note." Ron asks after a few moments of silence during which I shovel down half of my pasta.

"Broken Magical core. It was consuming her for past Seven years. I think she finally decided to give up."

Ron pales significantly at that and I realize how nonchalant I just sounded. It is not that I am heartless. It is just that I have witnessed Narcissa's suffering for past 4 years on a regular basis. The impending doom that she was wasting away and no one could do anything about it.

It was one of the final gifts Voldemort left for his followers. With his final annihilation, all bearers of the dark mark suffered from the magical backlash that shattered their core magic as it was what the dark mark was bound to. The bearers of the dark mark suffered according to the level of their devotion to Voldemort. The breaking of the Magical core is a painful and frustrating way to die. Seeing as the leaking and unstable magic slowly eats away at your body in order to find sustenance.

It eventually is based on the level of breakage. We have witnessed Death-eaters who died within days of the final death of Voldemort and then there were unexpected few who belonged to the Voldemort's inner circle yet survived for several years. A prime example being Lucius Malfoy who to everyone's surprise survived three years after the final battle, being the only one from Voldemort's inner circle to survive so long. It says a lot about his devotion and loyalty to Voldemort.

The fact that Narcissa survived seven years after the fall of Voldemort is testament to how little devotion had to do with her bearing the mark of the snake and skull even if her role in saving me during the final battle isn't enough proof. It is still tragic to die because of an ideology you did not even believe in and were pushed into out of obligation to the man you loved and child you would do anything to save. I understand the silent Narcissa Malfoy. I understand her melancholy even if her face never showed it. I never called her on it, but I am glad that her suffering is finally over.

"I didn't know she was a death eater!" Ron sounds shaky and looks away from me and suddenly very interested in the red and white table cloth.

"Not many know that Ron, and it's mainly because she wasn't. She carried the mark because she had no choice." I say it this time with proper amount of solemnity and condescension. Ron seems hesitant to meet my gaze for some reason.

"Harry is right, what bigger proof of that than her survival for seven years after the war." Hermione says quietly, her expression contrite enough for the both of them. I sigh internally. Seven years and they are still walking on egg-shells around me at times. Not that I do anything to discourage that.

Ron and Hermione have known from the beginning of my visits to the Malfoy manor, but they never ask me anything related to it. I was grateful for it in the beginning, knowing full well that it was by far the most out of character and impulsive thing I could be doing and then it just became a part of me that I never shared with anyone.

I did that with quite a few things actually. I now have my own secrets. A very heavily guarded private life and a secret fascination for ancient magics and wizarding traditions, which I shared even more secretly with Hermione. Oh yes, we paraded around the Ministry and then Hogwarts as well, that a special course regarding Wizarding traditions and etiquettes should be introduced for Muggleborns and those of us who had spent their childhood in the Muggle world.

It was initially to bridge the chasm between the surviving Pure-blood families and Muggleborns of which someone like Tom Riddle had taken advantage of. Reconciliation was the only way. Hermione and I had put forward valid arguments and counter-arguments to reconcile the differences and ease the social barriers. Both sides were wary, both criticized us, but it was a new-age of peace and after four years of struggle, a wizarding tradition and etiquette class was introduced at Hogwarts and made compulsory to take for all Muggleborns taking their OWLs just as Muggle studies was made compulsory for all pure-blood students. At the same time a class was also introduced for all Ministry trainees who were Muggleborns and another for all Pure-bloods. To acquaint them in to wizarding and muggle tradition respectively. Cover all fronts was and is our motto.

The success of our endeavor is just starting to show and the prime example of our success is Hogwarts the playground of anybody who will become somebody in the wizarding world. Slytherin is now most thoroughly integrated with other houses and has accepted its first few Muggleborns in more than Eighty years just last year. House rivalries still exist, but they are more of a competitive kind rather than blood-related prejudice. I observe it all first hand to my pleasure when I go to Hogwarts for a month every winter as a guest lecturer for 6th and 7th year advanced Defense against the Dark Arts. Hogwarts has never been more pleasant and every year I observe more and more Gryffindor and Slytherin couples. At times like that, I almost miss a certain sneer the face of the Ferret-prince of Slytherin would adorn, if he were to ever see such a thing as a Gryffindor courting a Slytherin. It amuses and saddens me at the same time.

"You both do know that you will be required to attend the wake right? You are related to the Malfoys Ron and the elves are arranging for a traditional pure-blood wake. Which means all surviving relations attend no matter how many times removed. By my estimation you will be receiving your summons in Two days time." Ron groans and grimaces at my declaration while Hermione shoots him a dirty look.

"I hate pure-blood traditions!" he says grinding teeth.

"Ron! There is nothing wrong with keeping up with old traditions, you should just make sure you don't disavow new ones and not modernize. As far as my understanding goes, All these traditions usually have a logical explanation or some kind of important symbolism at their roots. It is never good to let go of your roots. For example, An open pure-blood funeral wake requires the presence of all related family joined by blood and marriage as a symbol of unity and pride and the fact that family and death transcends all conflicts. You can take it as that. If you want you can dismiss all the nonsense gossip and pretentiousness that usually is a custom at these events and only focus on what is important."Ron looks properly chastised but not very convinced. It has been a sour point between my two best friends for years now.

I find myself seconding her opinion.

"So who is leading the ceremony?" Hermione asks once the table is cleared.

"Well, I will ask the Manor-staff tomorrow if Narcissa herself nominated someone. Otherwise, I was thinking of asking Andromeda. She is the closest living relative of hers after all." I only hope Andromeda would look past the differences. I have already looked up the possibility of my leading it just in case no one else wants to. As the head of the house of Black, until Teddy comes of age, I am in my right to do so. I am glad to have the position should I wish to utilize it. I only hope it wouldn't come to that. I am a Potter after all and the rivalry between Potters and Malfoys has always been legendary, which is one of the reason Potters never married into Malfoys and hence have never been related. Were I not lord of the House of Black I wouldn't be permitted to attend the Wake.

"I don't think Mrs. Tonks will want to Harry. The sisters never reconciled." Hermione says softly.

"Yes I know that, but still Hermione, they were sisters. I think Andromeda is kind enough to over-look her sister's mistakes in her death."

"I hope so Harry…" Hermione says sadly as we stand to leave the restaurant.


 

"This cannot be right!" Hermione frowns, her eyes closed and wand swishing in a complicated pattern. We are standing just outside of wards of the Manor grounds. Hermione and Ron are both accompanying me on our vigilante mission to ward the house of our once arch nemesis for the sake of honor. Here we are, the golden trio indeed, just as we vowed five days ago. We are here to setup temporary security for the Manor just for the duration of two days after which the Ministry ransacking of the manor would start, by my hands, but still it is a matter of honor.

"What is wrong?" I ask drawing closer to her. It is a little chilly as it is half past midnight.

"The Ancient wards are still intact so are the blood wards. Are you sure Harry that the time of death was half past eleven?" she asks me skeptically, just like she used to when we lied about homework back in the days.

"Yes. I checked and re-checked with the house elves." I answer hastily with conviction. I had also cast the time of death spell on Narcissa's body myself the day before when it was finally placed for viewing and paying respects in the Malfoy Ceremonial Hall, just a few hundred meters downhill towards the west from where we stand. A white limestone monstrosity that is inspired by the design of the Greek Parthenon, only smaller and erected in the center of the Malfoy Burial plot.

"I see, but the strange thing is Harry, even if the ancient wards are there still, there is no reason for the Blood wards to be intact as well. Narcissa Malfoy was a Malfoy by marriage not blood. Whilst under her the Ancient wards would withstand, there is no reason for the blood wards to stay intact." She frowns some more and flips page after page of the book she had brought along for the putting up the security wards whilst Ron holds his lighted wand over her head.

"Yes! But it still allows me in. See?" I say as I step through the wrought-iron gate and walk a few steps on to the gravel walkway that leads towards the Manor before I walk back and across the gate. Hermione frowns some more, if I didn't know any better, I would say she is pregnant again.

"This doesn't make sense." Ron mutters irritably. I am also beyond annoyed now.

"No, no, there must be an explanation for this!" Hermione says flipping through more pages and settling on one. Ron and I both watch her read for a minute before she snaps the book close, shoves it in Ron's chest and steps forwards again her Wand drawn in a straight vertical line typical wand position to do anything with Wards. She gestures at us both to do the same as well. I step up to her left whilst Ron steps on her right side drawing our wands in the identical position, same as Hermione, ready to aid her in her casting. We have done it quite a few times in the past so this is nothing new. She closes her eyes inhales deeply and then murmurs a long incantation in Latin. I close my own eyes and join the tip of my wand to Hermione's as the Blue print of all present wards start to show up in my Mind's eye and I find myself frozen in awe.

The Manor is covered in a perfect structure of complimenting wards. A perfect amalgamation of protection from all kinds of intrusion, muggle, magical, natural, you name it and its there. Being an Auror My knowledge of wards is fairly adequate, but the Wards surrounding the Malfoy Manor are way beyond me. Solid beams of magic shown as lights entwined so meticulously, blues, greens, purples, Most of them Ancient and strong and stationary, nothing we haven't seen before, but very difficult to break through if not impossible. No, that's not the really striking thing about these wards. It's the Liquid ward that to me is really new and strange. Considering that it is a Ward in the first place. It's constantly moving in random patterns, colorless, slightly translucent, forming a smokey film on top of the net of ancient wards, it's not like the glass dome that Hogwarts has, no, this is much more strong and unpredictable and I have never seen its like.

I see the thin but resilient light blue ward Hermione is weaving on top of the already present wards. Once the incantation is done, the thin Ward Hermione just weaved is immediately dissolved into the translucent liquid ward, like sugar in water. I open my eyes to see Hermione frown some more as Ron huffs indignantly at our joint failure. I just feel intrigued.

"Bloody Malfoys!" Ron grumbles

"So?" I turn to look at Hermione.

"Personally, I have seen ancient Wards as strong as these in only one other place and that is Hogwarts. Mind you that they are in no way similar and there are still ways to find through them. This…" she points towards the Manor "Is a fortress Harry. Protected by wards which should have been dismantled an hour or so ago and is still not open to suggestions. It is at its protection peak."

"Yes, I have never seen that translucent liquid ward before." I say shaking my head.

"What translucent liquid ward?" Hermione turns to me.

"That moving smoke filmy thing, I haven't seen it before, so I don't know what it's called. The one on top of all the other wards." The confusion on her face tells me that I am not getting through at all.

"Harry… I did not see any moving smoke filmy thing on top of the wards, what I did see was my ward dissolving into thin air." Hermione says curiously puzzled. I look at Ron, hoping he saw what I did. He looks just as confused.

"Anyhow! This means what?" Ron inquires before we can ponder further over the thing I just saw and they didn't. Obviously.

"This means, that there is no need for us to caste any wards for Manor's protection and that it would be magically impossible to take these wards down should the ministry ask us to. Either there is some other ancient magic at work here and we would have to choose to inform the minister of this development or not… Which would not make him very happy either way…Or, there is a simpler explanation for this." Suddenly there is a realization unfolding on her face.

"Which is?" this time I inquire, eager to hear what conclusion she has just come to make, because her wide eyes and pursed lips indicate so.

"Which is the simplest explanation really" Ron shifts on his feet clearly recognizing Hermione's expression as well. Some instinct inside me tells me that the next sentence would be the right answer.

"Malfoy Manor has a new and extremely powerful Master." She says in a tone full of conviction.