Post-Apocalyptic Medieval Battle of Hogwarts and The Love of Maidens
Harry was alone now. With Draco gone, watching Ginny in the garden became not so much a pastime as his whole daily occupation. It could be said that he was obsessed. Apart from thanking the person who brought his food every day, watching Ginny was his only human contact in the tower.
Draco was wandering the forests on the outskirts of Dumbledore’s kingdom. Thankfully, it spanned quite a small area, so he could walk all the way around its borders in a day. But still, he was in exile, meaning he couldn’t go back in. And if he couldn’t be there, he thought, he might as well not be anywhere.
Harry was being taken for his weekly bath when he had the idea. He was soaking in a clawfoot tub surrounded by a thin silk veil dangling from the high ceiling in a room that was all tiles, each gold-rimmed and polished to a shine. He thought about running away, and because he wasn’t strictly exiled, it wouldn’t matter if he remained within the kingdom - and close to Ginny. Obviously all his efforts would have to occur in secret, or Dumbledore would be likely to tighten the prison’s security. A stern-looking young witch was handing him a bar of soap while he sat in the bath, and as he washed his hair, he thought, I could do it now.
And if I soap myself up I’ll be hard to catch.
No, that’s silly, there are guards.
But I’m a wizard!
All the time in the tower he hadn’t once thought of using his magical powers. Living among muggles for so long, he was used to doing things the normal way. He winced with grief as he thought back to his childhood friend Ron, who was so magical he didn’t even know how to open a window without magic. Ron had been one of the victims of this last war.
Remembering how many people had died made Harry angry, and it made him want to escape even more, because now he had an additional motive - pissing off Dumbledore. Sure, he had been kind in keeping them alive, but had he done anything else for them since? There was nothing for him to do in the tower (well, except for looking at Ginny), no educational activities, nothing to keep him occupied.
The witch handed him a towel, all the while keeping her eyes strictly fixed on the tiles. Harry wondered if she was counting them.
“Let’s go back to your room,” said the witch.
The utterance was a straw, the last straw, and Harry buckled.
It wasn’t his room, it was his prison.
And he was going to get out.
Draco was on his third total traverse around the circumference of the kingdom when he spotted a bushel of grass growing higher than he’d ever seen grass grow before. The blades of grass were pale, beige, almost white, and they grew higher than he was tall. He stuck his head into them to see what they were obscuring, but there was only more shrubbery. As he pulled his head back out of the grass, the feeling of the leaves tickling his cheeks and brushing against his neck made him think of hair almost immediately, and it wasn’t long until he had fashioned a perfectly adequate long wig for himself. He wasn’t sure if it was a good enough disguise, but with his hairless face, he could give it a shot. After all, the man the guards were told to keep off the premises had glossy short hair, not a straw-like mane to his waist. Maybe it would fool them.
He tried it. At the next opportunity, when he got close to the border of the kingdom, he stepped over it with just one foot, testing the water. No obvious alarms went off, no loud sirens our big fireworks erupted, so he continued walking. After three days in exile, he was hungry, smelly and tired, and walking around Hogwarts had made him physically exhausted. So exhausted, in fact, that he decided a little nap was in order and collapsed underneath a tree.
Back in his prison, Harry briefly lost his determination to escape. It was a comfortable enough room, and he had come to feel at home there. And he always had Ginny.
He wandered to the window, patting his hair and beard dry with a towel, and looked out. This time of day, she was usually trimming the weeds by the Forbidden Forest.
Except that she wasn’t.
He looked all around as far as he could see, but she wasn’t there. His heart sank, and the anger rose in him again.
I’m going to go.
I’m going to go right now.
He looked over to his bed, and saw the straw blanket he had weaved out of Draco’s old bed. With nothing to do all day, he’d become quite good at weaving crafts, and the blanket was a pretty addition to his bed. Now would be the craft’s most glorious moment. Harry pulled his wand from his pocket, where it had been ever since they had arrived at the prison, and enchanted the blanket to be more firm, more stable, and most importantly airborne.
His own flying carpet.
He chiselled away at the window with his wand as well, a task that took more effort than he had anticipated. He made sure to leave all the pieces right underneath the window, so no telltale bits of bricks would fall into the garden from a height and alert someone to his presence or his devious plan.
Then he was done. His wand arm ached from the effort, but he swished it one more time to direct the carpet towards himself, and to the window. All those little weaving patterns, and the straw that still held his friend’s dear smell! He lowered himself onto the surface of the floating mat, and, once he was confident that he was sitting still, directed it out of the window.
He didn’t know where he was going, but he knew he was going to leave the prison behind. And in that moment, that was a good enough plan.
“Wake up,” said a soft voice.
“Who’s this?” said Draco. He blinked.
A small hand stroked his long wig. As he looked up, he first saw a shock of ginger hair in a messy bun, and several strands falling into a beautiful freckled face.
“Never mind. You need to move,” she said. She stood up, and extended a hand to help him.
When he was finally standing up, he looked around and saw what she had meant.
“Yeah. Firecracker Ants. This is their migration path. And trust me, you don’t want to make the Queen of the Firecracker Ants angry,” she giggled.
The largest ants Draco had ever seen were crawling on the ground where he had taken a nap, carrying big branches.
“Do you want to help?” said Ginny. She handed him a broom, and showed him how to sweep obstacles from the ant paths.
Draco wasn’t saying a word. It was too overwhelming to be close to Ginny, and the fact that she was just talking to him like a normal person was too much to handle. He held on to his broom for dear life, and swept the ground clean so the ants could walk freely and safely.
Warning bells went off inside Hogwarts. A prisoner had escaped.
But Harry was long gone.
Flying over the Forbidden Forest, he spotted a clearing and directed the mat down towards it. Rushing past the tree tops, he felt a familiar rush, and he thought of Quidditch and how happy he was then, how happy he was living at Hogwarts and playing with his friends. That was a long time gone, and things had changed, but flying still felt like freedom, and like he was aspiring towards something.
He heard some voices nearby, and hid behind a tree.
Ginny and Draco approached a clearing.
“I’ve got to go back to the hut now, but if you want a job I could meet you here again tomorrow? You were okay at sweeping those ant paths, but maybe I’ll find something else for you to do.”
“O-okay,” said Draco.
He handed the broom back and turned around to walk away without saying goodbye, and Ginny ran off to the Groundkeeper’s hut. He walked through the trees and out into the clearing, and had the air knocked out of him: The clearing was beautiful, and the sun streaming through the tree tops made it look enchanted. And also, his friend Harry had just tackled him to the ground, and he was sitting on top of his chest making it hard to breathe.
“What in the name of Hagrid do you think you’re doing?” a voice boomed from nearby.
Both Harry and Draco looked up.
Dumbledore was standing over them, looking decidedly disappointed.