Summary: Exiled from those he was closest to, he wanders the streets, a penniless wretch hunted by supporters and rebels alike. He stands alone in a world torn apart by evil forces unchecked. Running from his guilt, he falls into the hands of those who have reason to hate him most and finds solace.
Disclaimer: Roses are red, violets are blue, I don't own Harry Potter, and neither do you! (unless you're J.K. Rowling)
A/N: Hi everyone! Here's out first fic in the HP fandom. As always, constructive crit is a must. In case you don't already know, this is (if you don't want to know the pairing, then close your eyes and say LALALA really loudly) Draco/Hermione, and others to be revealed later, but they're secondary anyway. We love reviews, and since HP fics always seem to get a lot, we thought, what the hell. We'll give it a go. So, review, and try to put something constructive in it, but if you insist on being bitchy we'll get a good laugh. If you want instant D/Hr gratification, I suggest you look elswhere. THIS IS NOT A MARY SUE where it's action first, story later. Bye!
The Distance to Here
"We have received reports of Death Eater activity from our Oxford correspondent. It's in a Muggle bar called 'The Fox in the Hen house', so dress appropriately. Okay?" the Minister of Wizarding Justice asked, raising a bushy red brow.
Ronald Weasley was sitting in his office. It was dull and plain, serving its purpose without being luxurious. Decorations hadn't been high on the list of priorities since Cornelius Fudge had disappeared. Most of the furniture was black, save a mahogany desk and a white lamp. A few pieces of paper littered the floor. The only decoration was a picture of Ron, Hermione, and Harry on the day they had graduated from Hogwarts. It reminded him of the times before their world had been turned upside down.
"Sure Ron," said Hermione confidently. A young Auror, Hermione had joined the agency the summer after her final year at Hogwarts. "We'll go get ready." She turned to the handsome, dark-haired man beside her and asked, "What about you? You ready?"
Harry looked thoughtful. "Ron, do you have any descriptions for us? Profiles? Anything? We've never done a job with this little information before. Do you know who we're supposed to be looking for?" Harry liked to have all of his operations planned out so everything would go off without a hitch. With next to no information about what they were looking for, the possibilities of a failed mission seemed highly likely. His way of going about Auror jobs was quite different from Hermione's.
Ron looked sympathetically at Harry and said, "Sorry Harry, nothing. All the correspondent told us was they had been tipped off about a Death Eater on the run, and to keep a look-out. Couple hours ago a shady looking character came in and sat alone in the corner. Our correspondent called us immediately. Do your best to find out what you can." Ron was certain that Harry and Hermione would find this Death Eater and he, Ron, would bring him to justice.
Hermione turned and strode out of the room. She was also sure this Death Eater would be caught. She and Harry had different ways of working. She liked to read up on tactics and strategy, but didn't think it necessary to use different schemes for different people. Harry was the careful one, always preferring to know something about the personality and habits of the Death Eater they were after so they could easily catch him or her. However they worked, though, they were two of the most successful Aurors of the last few decades.
"Okay, Hermione, you go ahead and get ready, I have to talk to Cho," Harry said with a sigh. His fiance of three months, had progressively been getting testier and testier. Harry understood her work was stressful, but it upset him that Cho took out her frustration on him.
Hermione gave a wry smile and rolled her eyes. "Good luck." Hermione had never really approved of Cho, and hated the way she treated Harry. More and more often they would get into screaming matches that the whole Ministry could hear.
At the start of their relationship, Cho had been sweet and understanding about Harry's dangerous and often unpredictable job. Occasionally, they had gotten into little squabbles, usually over her concern for Harry's safety, but they had always resolved it with no permanent damage. Then Cho had received her promotion, to Minister of Muggle Relations. It was quite a stressful job, mainly because of the fact that the number of Muggle killings had shot up since the start of Voldemort's new attempts to gain power over the Wizarding world. She was in constant communication with the Prime Minister, persuading him to hand over Death Eaters that had taken refuge in the Muggle World. She had been the first Minister for Muggle Relations to establish a permanent ambassador from the Wizarding World. Seamus Finnigan was well liked by everyone, charismatic and outgoing, and was perfect for the job. The added stress had been trying on Cho's patience and good will, and Harry had taken the brunt of her anger.
Harry walked to his fiance's office, wondering what objects would be thrown at him today. He reached the heavy oak door, squared his shoulders, gave a deep sigh, and knocked.
"This better be important!" Cho yelled from her desk, scattered with papers. Three owls were sitting on a perch by the window, waiting to be attended to. "Oh, Harry! Well, what do want?" Her voice had changed from dangerously sharp to a false sort of pleasantry, her smile not reaching her eyes.
"Er," he said, rubbing his hand on the back of his neck nervously. "WellIhavetogoawayagaintocatchaDeathEaterandIhavetoleavenow." Harry said, all the words jumbling together. This reminded him uncannily of the time he had asked Cho to the Yule Ball in fourth year. All those times seemed an age ago.
"Oh, I see," she said dangerously, folding her hands together in a seemingly casual way. But Harry could see that her knuckles were turning white from the force she was exerting. "And how long will you be gone for this time?"
"Er," he said again. 'Er' was becoming the predominant word in his vocabulary, every time he was around Cho lately. "Not for long, I don't think. It's a pretty simple job."
Cho's hands came unfolded. Her right snaked over to her designer lamp, and clenched it tightly. "That's what you said last time. And you were gone for three weeks! I can't deal with this anymore Harry. All these 'trips' away from home with Granger, your 'informant' is coincidentally the girl who has been in love with you since she was ten years old? What would you think if you were in my position, Harry? Do you ever think about me? I have so much riding on my shoulders right now, and I don't need this added stress. Can't you just get a desk job?"
"Cho, are you accusing me of cheating on you? You know I would never…" Harry exclaimed indignantly. "I asked you to marry me, remember? Not Hermione, not Ginny, you. I don't appreciate your unfounded accusations. I know you're stressed, and I don't want to create anymore for you." Harry thought for a moment before saying, "maybe we should split up for awhile, you know, absence makes the heart grow fonder."
"What?" Cho hissed. "We have that dinner in three days. The Ministry dinner. Do you know how it will look if I show up without you?" Harry ducked in time to avoid the lamp thrown his way. One of the owls hooted nervously. "Just get out! I can't even look at you right now, Harry Potter!"
He sighed and turned to leave and banged right into Neville Longbottom. "S-sorry, Harry, I just heard a noise, and-"
"It's alright, Neville. We just had an- accident." Harry pushed past his clumsy friend and walked slowly back to his office, trying to ignore the not-so-subtle stares of his co-workers.
"I heard the crash. I assume things didn't go so well?" Hermione asked dryly as Harry lifted his head up from the desk. He gave a humourless chuckle. He was used to Hermione's wit, but wasn't exactly in the mood for silliness right now.
"We're splitting up for a while. I expect she just needs to catch up on her work, minimize the stress, you know? And the best way I can help is to get out of her way and do my job, so she doesn't have to explain all these Muggle killings to the Prime Minister." Harry sounded like he was trying to convince himself of these reasons, and failing miserably. Hermione sighed. She was used to Harry's ever-present optimism, but it was very tiring to listen to.
"Good idea, Harry," she said, with as much enthusiasm as she could muster. She knew her friend was hurting, so she did what she could to try to lift his spirits. She gave him a hug and smiled. "I know everything will work out for you, Harry. Okay, let's go."
A tall blond was sitting hunched over a shot of Bourbon in the 'Fox in the Hen house'. This was his tenth shot in five minutes. He slumped unconscious over the bar, trying to escape from the hellish reality of his life.
Pictures flashed in his mind. A skull- bursts of green light- his girlfriend of three years laying motionless on the cold pavement- his father's wild eyes glaring at him in hatred. He'd had this dream, or rather nightmare, before. He was shaken out of his unconsciousness by a cold hand on the back of his neck.
"What's the matter, baby? A pretty boy like you should be out there dancing," drawled a voice. It a raspy undertone, probably from cigarette smoke, Draco judged, from the large amount of cheap perfume she wore to mask the smell. He looked up and saw two hazel eyes, slightly out of focus, staring at him.
"I don't want to dance," he said sharply. Too bad he was so drunk he could barely stand. She was quite pretty, he noted, with long curly red hair, bronzed skin, and long legs. She was wearing a black leather miniskirt with thigh-high boots, along with a shimmery purple shirt that showed off her pierced belly button.
The girl was quite persistent. She grabbed his arm and hauled him to his feet, dragging him out to the dance-floor, creating quite a scene in the process. He wrenched his arm out of her grasp, throwing the girl off-balance. He stalked back over to his barstool, where his faithful Bourbon sat waiting for him.
Outside, Harry and Hermione had Apparated a few minutes earlier, and walked into the bar, just in time to see a redhead go flying across the dance-floor, and the man responsible for it stagger back to his seat at the bar. Hermione gave a gasp of surprise. Harry looked down at her, she was looking at the blond man at the bar, eyes full of recognition.
"'Mione, what's wrong?" Harry asked, bewildered.
"Bloody hell," she whispered.