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Title: A Hero's Trust
Author: iulia_linnea
Characters: Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, other
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 2300
Summary: Following the post-war celebrations, Harry discovers, among other things, how Snape secured Dumbledore's trust.
Warning (Highlight to view): For implied character death.
Disclaimer: This piece is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling; various publishers, including, but not limited to: Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books; and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: Written as part of the Harry Potter Expressions of Fatherhood Fest. Thank you, eaivalefay, for beta'ing.

Everyone said that, as celebrations went, the week long, near-riotous festivities after Voldemort's Final Fall would never be duplicated. Harry hoped everyone was right. By rights—if one believed all that rot about the hero getting the girl, and he really didn't—he should have been warming Ginny's bed, but he'd seen for himself how things stood between Ginny and Blaise Zabini, and he wasn't about to be anyone's second choice—trying to be Ron's had taught him that much.

Ron was probably, Harry mused, as he arrived at the Apparation point closest to Twelve, Grimmauld Place—a discreet copse of trees—warming Oliver Wood's bed.

A professional Quidditch player, he thought. Why not?

Harry couldn't blame Ron for wanting someone so different from Hermione. He couldn't blame Ron for anything, really, even though it had unsettled him, the way Ron had moved on so quickly. The war was over, but it wasn't finished. There was still the grief. There was still that nightmare. There was still a loose-end.

The loose-end was Snape, and Snape had been, since Harry had finished Voldemort, the chief concern of his thoughts.

Where is he? I know he was our informant. Why hasn't

Harry's mind blanked then as the figure of Draco Malfoy became clear in the swirling fog through which he'd been wading. Reflexively, he unsheathed his wand and ducked back behind the largest tree in the copse, peering out from behind it to examine the other wizard.

It had been years since Malfoy had fled Hogwarts with Snape, and, given what was now known about Snape's efforts on the Order's behalf and how Voldemort had manipulated Malfoy into attempting to kill the Headmaster—thanks to Dumbledore's posthumously published papers and Narcissa Malfoy's testimony before the Wizengamot—there was no official interest in securing Malfoy for trial.

Harry didn't agree with the Ministry on that point, but he wasn't an Auror.

Malfoy clearly didn't know exactly where to look for the house, but he had the area right, which meant that Snape had revealed to him the location of the Order's headquarters.

But why would Malfoy come here? Why now?

The only thing for it, Harry decided, was to provoke the inevitable confrontation. He Disapparated, reappearing just behind Malfoy—who didn't start.

"It's about time you stopped skulking around and faced me, Potter," Malfoy groused, swinging around to display his empty, upraised hands, "my bollocks have retracted into my chest cavity while I've waited for you!"

"Warming charms were taught well before Sixth Year," Harry replied, holding, but not pointing, his wand in Malfoy's general direction.

"Right, but if I'd drawn my wand to cast one, you'd've hexed me."

"Can't fault your logic—what do you want?"

"Tea."

Harry blinked. "What, not tea and biscuits?"

"A ham roll would be nice."

"Your tastes aren't what they were since you became a fugitive, I see," Harry replied, sheathing his wand.

"You insult me," Malfoy replied, curling his lip. "I may not be the Dark—"

"Finish that sentence, and I will hex—"

"—Voldemort, but I'm not harmless."

"Doesn't the raised hands business imply you mean me no harm?"

Malfoy smirked. "You're still a presumptuous, arro—"

"Tell me what you want already—I need a slash."

"Oh, very nice. I don't suppose I could get that ham roll and then tell you?"

Harry considered. At least I won't have to pretend to be happy talking to Malfoy. "Fine. Yeah, come on," he said, gesturing for Malfoy to walk in front of him.

"I always knew you were—"

"You don't want to finish that sentence, either."

"No. I don't suppose I do."

Harry glared at Malfoy's back, shoving him up the walk of Twelve, Grimmauld. "In," he ordered, after opening the door. "Wand," he snapped, after shutting it.

Malfoy didn't argue with him.

"Dobby!" Harry shouted, as he pocketed the wand.

The house elf popped into the foyer and smiled. "Harry Potter has brought a guest!"

"Yeah, 'a guest'," Harry said, sourly. "Do we have any ham rolls?"

"Harry Potter has anything he likes!" Dobby exclaimed, vanishing.

"Kitchen," Harry said, turning to catch Malfoy mouthing Dobby's words. "Oh, stop it. I'm the sodding hero. Of course I can have whatever I like."

"Typical," Malfoy muttered, removing his sodden cloak and slinging it over his shoulder.

"Do you want the bloody ham roll or not?" Harry demanded, stalking toward the kitchen, thinking, Prob'ly shouldn't have my back to him.

Malfoy, however, followed Harry quietly and sat down at the kitchen table, which was covered in ham rolls. He'd eaten one before Harry had managed to sit down, himself. Together, they made short work of three plates of the rolls and two pots of tea before stopping to stare at one another.

Harry belched.

"You'll fit right in," Malfoy said.

"With?"

"The Weasleys."

Harry reacted without thinking, and was soon rubbing his hand as he watched Malfoy pick himself up from the floor.

"Didn't know."

"Didn't know what?" Harry demanded.

"That Ginny Weasley'd thrown you over—or is it Ronald Weasley you were defending?"

"How the—fuck! Why are you here?"

"For the ham rolls, Potter," Malfoy replied, delicately wiping his mouth with a serviette. "And to give you this," he continued, moving one hand toward his left trouser pocket.

"Stop."

"You could get it—if you really wanted to," Malfoy said, stopping.

Harry tried to ignore Malfoy's implication and glared at him. "Slowly. Take it—damn it! Just give it to me," he said, cheeks burning.

Smirking again, Malfoy retrieved a small, folded piece of parchment and handed it to Harry. "If I'm going to 'give it' to you, I think you should call me Draco."

"Parkinson know you're a poncing arse?" Harry snapped, unfolding the parchment and reading it.

"I'm not."

"Then stop acting like one, Malfoy."

"Basic civilities were, I see, too much to hope for from you."

"I fed you ham rolls," Harry protested.

"You took my wand, struck me, and your elf fed me ham rolls. No, my elf fed me ham rolls."

"Dobby is not your elf!" a disembodied voice cried.

Both wizards said, as one, "Of course you're not."

Harry sighed and threw the parchment onto the table. "Why did you give me a spell?"

"It's from Snape."

Harry straightened in his chair. "What?"

"I said, it's—"

"I heard you the first time, Draco, but why—"

"He's dead," Draco interrupted, with no trace of humor or mockery twisting his face.

Harry just looked at him, thinking, But I was going to kill him.

He'd been looking forward to it—almost.

"I expect you thought killing him was going to be your job?" Draco spat, almost Snape-like.

Harry started at the familiar tone, but before he could respond, Draco was speaking again.

"Look, it's a spell. It unlocks something important, something that Snape wanted kept safely—and no, I don't know what it is. All he'd tell me was that it was why the Headmaster trusted him. He kept the spell to unlock whatever it is, and Dumbledore kept the thing that needs to be unlocked. Before he died, Snape asked me to give you the spell."

Nothing in Draco's tone, posture, or expression said that he was lying. But this is weird. "This is weird. Why would Snape—"

"It's not as though he ever truly confided in me, you know. I'm just honoring his last wish," Draco said, staring at his hands and picking at them.

Harry was surprised to see that Draco's fingernails weren't, as they'd always been, as perfect as any witch's. "Look, I suppose I can . . . appreciate that you're doing, honoring the man's last wishes, but why should I give a toss about anything Snape wanted kept safe?"

Draco looked up from his fidgeting to glare at Harry. "Because you're the hero, right? Isn't it your duty to—"

"Sod my 'duty'!" Harry shouted, rising so suddenly that his chair skidded backwards and fell over. "Voldemort's dead! I'm done with duty—understand?"

"No, Potter," Draco hissed, rising, himself, and leaning on the table heavily, "you're not. The man who risked everything to send you information during the war—that's right, it was Snape—that man wants you to safeguard something that was precious to him. And you're going to do it. You're going to do it because he's dead now, it was his last wish, you are the bloody hero, and. You. Owe. Him."

"I do not," Harry spat, half-believing it, while he watched Draco throw on his cloak and stalk from the room.

"You do!"

"Where are you going?" Harry demanded, following Draco to the door.

Draco turned abruptly. "I am going away while I still can. You know better than anyone that there's nothing for me here—no matter what arrangements Mother made with the Ministry."

"That's not my fault."

"Who said it was?" Draco asked, turning his back on Harry and opening the door.

"Don't you even want to know? What the thing is, I mean?"

Draco's back tensed visibly, but he did not stop his progress over the threshold. "It's not something I can have. Just take care of it," he said—and then he Disapparated.

Harry rubbed his hands down his sides in frustration, feeling, not one, but two wands in his robes. Draco left his wand. Draco left his wand? He would never— "Snape!" he shouted then, furious at having been tricked. "Snape, you son of a bitch!"

~*~

A few days after Snape had left Grimmauld, Harry received a letter from Dumbledore that contained a Gringotts' vault key, a vague description of what the vault contained, and felicitations on Harry's "victory and forthcoming wedding to Miss Weasley."

As Harry sat in his lounge contemplating the spell he held in one hand and the small trunk he'd set on the table before him, he thought, He really didn't know everything, did he?

The idea was strangely comforting, even though the trunk, itself, was anything but.

The trunk was magical; Harry could feel the power shrouding it. There were runes carved into it—protection and concealment charms—and, oddly, it seemed to vibrate musically. He'd felt the, for want of a better word, lullaby thrumming through his arms as he'd carried it.

"I wish you were here, Hermione," Harry whispered, still not certain that he wanted to open the box. "Whatever this is, I can't think why Snape would've wanted me to have it." He hates me as much as I hate him.

Resigned, and determined to unravel the mystery of whatever it was that Snape wanted protected, Harry invoked the spell; the trunk's lid hissed open, releasing the scent of talcum. Flipping the lid, he saw that a tray was set into the top. It held a scroll, which Harry, feeling increasingly horrified as his eyes pored over it, read:

"Severus,

"Obviously, I did not take the potion. You may well be able to stomach the thought of child-killing, but I'm better than that, even if I am judged fit only to be given to the likes of Amycus by Father and your precious Dark Lord. The light of Yaxley house has dimmed, indeed, but Silvia will not become a Carrow with me. I thought about it, briefly—there are charms to forestall bearing, as I'm sure you know very well—but I couldn't wish that fate on anyone.

"Coward.

"You could have tried for me. You could have been discreet about your assignation with Black. Your lord and Father, both, might have allowed us to wed—no matter who your father was—if they'd believed that any offspring from our union was possible. Was he worth it? Was 'Reg' worth sacrificing your only chance to live decently?

"No matter, our daughter is your responsibility now. You owe me that much. You will see her safe. I don't care how or with whom, but if you don't ensure the safety of our child, I'll see that he knows your true parentage. I'll tell everyone, and then it won't matter that you're useful because, even if he does know, he wouldn't like it if anyone else did, would he?

"You should know that I regret ever having allowed you to touch me, but I can't regret Silvia. She is perfect. I can't quite believe that you had any part in her, but there it is. There she is. Protect your daughter, Severus. Do it for my blood running through her veins if not for your own.

"Please.

"Now that I've lowered myself to beg one such as you, I sign myself, for the last time,

"Lucinda Yaxley"

Stunned, Harry gripped the letter. It was bizarre to discover that Snape had been intimate with anyone, let alone Sirius' brother and a witch.

Harry was familiar with her name. Lucinda Yaxley Carrow had been killed while attempting to pass information to an Auror about Voldemort. Her father, Moody had discovered months later, had been the witch's murderer. As for the other Death Eaters named in the letter, they were all dead, as well.

"Merlin," Harry breathed, allowing the parchment to slip from his fingers as he realized what all of it meant. "Snape wants me to—"

The musical vibration ceased then and was replaced by the faint sounds of a fussing infant. Harry dropped his gaze to the shelf, hesitating only an instant before removing it—which caused another hissing and a small explosion of golden sparkles. They faded into nothing as they fell to reveal the aforementioned Silvia—a pale, healthy-looking baby with big dark eyes, which flickered open as she woke up for the first time in years.

Just thinking about the baby being shut up in the trunk for all that time was almost enough to make Harry physically ill, but he forced himself to be calm as he lifted Silvia out of the trunk and gazed into her eyes.

Snape's eyes, he thought, as his stomach muscles clenched painfully.

There was no denying them.