When do you trust in an enemy?
Was it when you first met his eyes?
Was it when you realized you could never kill him?
Was it when you learned he could never kill you?
Was it when you realized you loved him?
Or rather, was it when you realized your enemy was merely human?
Harry found that he asked himself these questions often now, wanting to find an answer, any answer, that would mean these...emotions...hadn't been born of his own mind. It was a frightening experience to wake up, meet your own eyes in the mirror and finally accept what your life was in all aspects. That single moment had marked a change in his life; a new direction and a new motivation in this war.
Still, regardless of his actions, he would never regret his life or what he had done to see his monumental task through.
How could he?
How could he have watched such a beautiful, proud and powerful man grieve for his only child and not be moved by it?
The same night Albus Dumbledore fell, Lord Voldemort had turned his wand to Draco Malfoy in punishment for both his failure and that of his father's. The Cruciatus was not taken off until the blonde boy had stopped screaming, his sane mind lost to the curse. When the deed was done, Voldemort offered the boy to Greyback, however, it was a shocking thing to note that Bellatrix Lestrange stepped forward without permission and silently apparated her nephew to St. Mungo's.
The boy-who-lived had been an unwilling witness to this horrific scene, as his connection to the Dark Lord seemed to overshadow his mind in his grieving state.
Surprising as this was, it was the man behind her that had rendered him speechless.
Lucius Malfoy was on his knees, hands over his face as he wept for his son. Severus Snape had his arms wrapped tightly around the man, obviously holding him back initially though now the hold was an embrace to comfort the wizard. For the first time Harry could ever remember, those obsidian eyes were easy to read, and all the different emotions within them were directed at the Dark Lord.
Not a week later, the body of Severus Snape was found on the grounds of Hogwarts after the Order of the Phoenix coincidentally found the Dark Lord's manor.
A year would pass before Harry would see Lucius Malfoy again.
Harry had gone to Godric's Hollow, needing some form of closure before he could devote himself entirely to the task Dumbledore had laid out before him.
Unsurprisingly, Voldemort foresaw this.
Rabastian Lestrange was the first to attack and Harry dodged the first few spells before firing the killing curse as easy as any death eater twice his age, Bill and Mad-Eye's training making it second nature to the once innocent boy. Lucius was the next to appear and Harry went to repeat the attack, however, when the man didn't move to raise his wand, he found himself unable to say the words.
Silver eyes pierced through him, emotion Harry once thought the man incapable of clear in their depths. “Will you not kill me as well, Potter?”
Harry could only shake his head.
That very gaze narrowed in anger. “Why,” he'd demanded.
“I...I donzt know,” came the honest answer, his voice unsteady.
They parted without a single curse between them.
That very same night, Harry gathered what remained of the Order and commanded that Draco Malfoy be hidden and kept safe until a cure could be found.
That night...Harry realized he couldn't kill Lucius Malfoy, regardless of what the man had done.
Some months later in December, Hedwig was waiting in his room with a letter.
Knowing exactly whom it was from and where to go, Harry grabbed a cloak and apparated to what remained of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Voldemort had had the school destroyed, knowing it would cripple the wizarding world in a way little else would be able to. The school's very magic had died and with it, all that had once flourished on the grounds. The Black Lake was now dry, the Dark Forest was barren and only the centaurs remained within. Hogwarts herself was silent and it had taken all the strength Harry had to not allow the devastation to get to him as he climbed the crumbling staircases that led to the Astronomy Tower.
And then there he was, silently staring out at the horizon.
“Why do you not kill me where I stand?”
“Why don't you,” he'd countered.
The Malfoy patriarch had scoffed, glancing back at the young man. “Why indeed,” he mused.
Emerald met silver unflinchingly, neither uncomfortable nor even wary of the other.
Lucius was the one to end this, his head turning back to the starry night sky. “Can you kill him?”
At one time, Harry wouldn't have been able to answer that question.
That time was gone.
Harry's own gaze rested on what had once been the Dark Forest. “I can.”
The man sighed deeply, nodding once. “Then I expect you to carry it through, to show no mercy when the time comes.”
“I'm not what I used to be,” he'd said, his voice grim but determined.
Lucius hummed in agreement. “No. I suppose you're not.”
The death eater had offered him a hand then, and without hesitation, Harry accepted, and wasn't at all surprised to find himself in some remote location seconds later. A quick glance around proved that the war had indeed taken its toll on all sides...proof that Tom Riddle had died long ago.
The entire Lestrange family, Fenrir Greyback and his remaining pack, Walden McNair, the Yaxley family, and many, many Slytherins he vaguely recalled from his school days stood before him. Wary but determined, they wanted to see their world survive this war.
In order for this to happen, even the oldest families knew Lord Voldemort could not be allowed to remain.
When the lower ranks of the death eaters discovered the inner circle's betrayal, they flocked to Harry's banner by the dozens and, with the Order of the Phoenix as well as the so-called dark creatures behind him, the Dark Lord fell within a year.
Though it would be nice to say the wizarding world had a fairytale ending, it'd be a lie.
In fact, the wounds the war had inflicted would never fully heal.
Hogwarts was forever lost to them, its magic truly dead, and not even the greatest sorcerers in the world could hope to revive it. Hogsmeade suffered the same fate, its entire population victims of Voldemort's forces. Diagon Alley, even Gringotts, was no more and nearly half of muggle London had been destroyed in the final confrontation.
Harry sometimes wondered if the world he'd grown up in ever truly existed.
Now, a decade later, it seemed things were finally beginning to turn around if only slightly.
Hope had been rekindled to many in the form of the Black Academy of Magic, a long lost structure Harry discovered thanks to a surprisingly insightful conversation with Walburga Black's portrait. The woman, while having a severe bi-polar disorder, was extremely helpful when she wanted to be.
In a few weeks, the academy would be accepting its first students.
Harry, for the first time in his life, found himself surprisingly content...save for one thing.
He looked on, hating that he was unable to comfort his husband as Lucius bowed his head over Draco's still form. The boy looked as he did a decade ago, the stasis spell placed upon him keeping him frozen in time.
“Tell me about this potion.”
“It was a theory from Professor Snape's notes,” Hermione answered, unable to think of the late potion master as anything but a professor, even now. “If it works, Draco should simply wake up as if he were asleep. If it doesn't, it won't have any adverse effects on him. I've made sure of that. He'll remain as he is now.”
“Then do not tell Lucius,” Harry shook his head at her expression, his emerald eyes stern. “If it doesn't work, I don't know if he'll survive it.”
The witch hesitated but nodded. “I won't say a word.”
He managed a small, grateful smile before crossing into the room. “Lucius.”
Silver eyes turned to him, warm yet sorrowful at the sight of his young husband. “I am sorry, Harry. Even after all this time, I can't--”
“I've told you before, love,” Harry walked over to sit beside him, reaching up to brush his fingers against the man's hair as he so loved to do. “Never apologize to me. Draco is your son, I will never stand between you and him.”
Lucius did not respond verbally, pulling the younger man close to him and hugging him tightly to his chest as his breath hitched. It was difficult due to his pride, but he accepted the comfort Harry always offered so readily, his eyes closing as he struggled through the ever present grief.
Hermione was no stranger to this and wasn't able to help herself as she watched, a sad smile forming on her face at the bittersweet moment.
Blinking stupidly, the witch's head snapped to her patient and her jaw dropped when she saw the awake, very alert, eyes that were currently staring at Lucius in confusion.
Looking back on this particular moment, Harry would forever amuse himself with the memory of seeing Lucius Malfoy completely dumbstruck; however, this thought was soon cut off when the man turned to look at his son and Draco got a clear view of just who his father had been holding.
Seeing this, Hermione's expression flattened milliseconds before...
As the situation quickly escalated into a scene that reminded her too much of their school days, Hermione simply walked out of the room with only one thought in mind...
The wizarding world was doomed.