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Chapter 2: D.M.
Chapter image by bewitching. @ TDA
He didn’t want this.
Draco Malfoy didn’t want to be here, sitting in front of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. He didn’t want to be tried for Death Eater activities.
He didn't want to be grouped with those people.
But what choice did he have in the matter? The Dark Lord would have killed his family had he failed to comply and dropped out of his ranks. His family was his everything, and he wouldn’t sacrifice them.
“Mr. Malfoy, the accusations against you are as followed: involvement in Death Eater activities, association with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, conspiracy of the murder of Albus Dumbledore, and use of the Unforgivables.”
Draco almost gagged on his own saliva as his accusations were read aloud. Surely it could have been phrased in a gentler manner? The way each crime was described made it sound as though Draco was an evil villain.
But maybe that was what the Ministry wanted.
Every since the end of the Battle of Hogwarts, the Ministry had been arresting every Death Eater possible, and giving them the worst possible punishment for their actions.
Most of them received the Dementor’s Kiss.
Apparently Fenrir was the first victim, as Draco had been told. Not that he minded, because Fenrir wasn’t exactly the type of person Draco sympathized with.
“Mr. Malfoy,” the Minister, a man by the name of Kingsley Shacklebolt, interrupted his thoughts. “Do you deny any of these charges?”
Draco’s head was reeling. All of the accusations were true, if not a little aggrandized by their phrasing. He couldn’t deny anything, because all would be revealed with Veritaserum if he did.
“N-no,” he replied softly. “But, sir, I was only – “
The Minister interrupted him again. “I believe we have heard enough, Mr. Malfoy. After a few minutes of delibaration, we will take a vote regarding your sentence.”
Draco recoiled from the sharp tone, but remained strapped down to the chair as the Wizengamot turned to one another in collaboration. He wondered briefly why the Ministry felt the need to tie him down like an animal.
He didn’t have a wand, so what did they think he was going to do?
Draco certainly wasn’t a muscular boy, so taking them out by hand was completely out of the question. And considering he didn’t know the way out, he couldn’t exactly run away either.
He hated that he was being charged for all that he did. But at the same time, he was ashamed of those actions as well.
At first, the idea of becoming a Death Eater had held great allure to Draco, sparkling in the distance. Surely the Dark Lord’s cause was a noble one, and what would be better than to help him advance it?
So when Draco had first been offered a position in the Dark Lord’s ranks, he had accepted it immediately. In an instant, that glittering prize was all his, and he had the proof: the ebony black Dark Mark tattooed onto the pale flesh of his forearm.
The first months had been stressful, more stressful than Draco could have ever imagined. Almost immediately after he was initiated, the Dark Lord revealed that he wanted Draco to orchestrate the murder of Dumbledore.
How did he expect a mere boy of seventeen to kill one of the greatest wizards in the world?
It had been that night, the night Dumbledore was murdered, that Draco realized that he didn’t want to be a Death Eater. Staring at the man, who was standing defenseless and alone on the Astronomy Tower, he realized that.
Dumbledore had told him that night that he wasn’t a killer. Draco, in a burst of the childish arrogance he had been raised with, had denied it.
But Dumbledore was right. He always was.
Draco couldn’t kill. He watched his Aunt Bellatrix and even his father perform it effortlessly, but he just couldn’t get himself to do the same.
It was two simple words, but Draco couldn’t force himself to say them.
“Mr. Malfoy.” Once again, a voice snapped him out of his reverie. “We will now take a vote.”
Draco bit his lip in nervousness. He already knew exactly how this would turn out.
“All in favour of – “
Kingsley was unable to finish his sentence, as another person had entered the courtroom.
“Mr. Shacklebolt, wait!” the voice called.
Draco recognized the voice instantly, and sat straight up in his seat.
At his lowest moment, here was Harry Potter, ready to bask in Draco’s humiliation.
And what else would Draco expect? Ever since the very first day they’d met, Potter had an excellent knack of making Draco feel like a blubbering idiot.
From the Quidditch field to class, to even general likability, Potter had always taken the prize. And then Draco was left with his Slytherin cronies, making desperate cries for attention and, on occasion, being Transfigured into a ferret by the occasional lunatic professor.
And now, Potter stood in the courtroom, a free man honoured with an Order of Merlin, looking down on Draco, strapped to a chair, awaiting his fate of life in Azkaban.
“Mr. Potter, it’s a surprise to see you here,” Shacklebolt replied, looking across the room at the young man.
“I guess it would be,” Potter said back, and Draco could assume from his tone of voice that it was probably accompanied by some sort of shrug.
“Well, what are you doing here?” Shacklebolt asked, obviously forgetting about the boy being tried in favour of the hero of the wizarding world.
That’s always how it worked, wasn’t it?
“I’m here because I have information relative to the case at hand,” Potter replied in a business-like manner.
Draco fought the urge to cry out in rage. He was already going to be sentenced to a life in Azkaban, so was Potter here to get him the Dementor’s Kiss or something? Surely his evidence would only dig Draco deeper into trouble.
“Well then, share it,” Shacklebolt replied, in an equally business-like tone.
“During our time spent searching for Horcruxes, Hermione and I were captured by Snatchers and delivered to Malfoy Manor. Thanks to Hermione, I didn’t quite look like myself, but I was still quite recognizable.”
Draco’s mind was reeling in an attempt to recall this particular incident, and what actions he had partook in that incriminated him further.
“Draco was asked to identify me, but told him that he could not tell. Now, I certainly know he could have. But he didn’t. Were it not for that, I’d most likely be dead now, and Voldemort still at large.”
Draco furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. Was Potter actually… defending him?
“Well then, Mr. Potter, I do believe that information changes the course of things,” Mr. Shacklebolt replied, turning to the Wizengamot.
“All in favour of freeing Draco Malfoy of all charges due to honourable behaviour, say ‘aye.’ “
To Draco’s amazement, the entire Wizengamot was filled with a resounding “aye,” and Draco’s seat unstrapped itself. He was… free?
“Mr. Malfoy, you have been acquitted of all charges,” the Minister reported calmly.
Draco stood up, brushed himself off, and turned towards the door.
Potter was still standing there, and Draco felt humiliated once again. Not only had Potter saved his life once, but now he had saved it for a second time. How much lower could he get?
But he was free. He wasn’t bound to a life in Azkaban, or even a life being trailed by his charges. He was untethered from his past, or at least as much as he could be.
He made a vow, then and there, to make a change. He would be a better man, and lose that stigma around him that came from being an ex-Death Eater. He would be polite and kind.
It would take a lot of work, but he would do it.
So he took the first step. As he left the room, he looked Potter in the eye, and said, “Thanks,” to which Potter responded with a nod.
His eyes also bugged out a little in Draco’s sudden show of appreciation, but Draco tried to ignore that.
Maybe this gratitude thing wouldn’t be too bad.