Chapter 9 : Chapter 9
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This man terrified her not only because of his current state of agitation, but more so because of who he was. Would you want to be in the same room with the man who had destroyed the Dark Lord when he was a mere pubescent, especially when he was as hacked off as he now appeared to be?
She stayed quiet and pretended to do her work leaving the man to his anger, and prayed the Minister wasn’t much longer.
Harry had chosen a spot on the wall, and was staring at it with such focus he could have burned a hole in the wood. His left knee bounced up and down unheeded, and his knuckles were white from gripping the armrests.
Although he was nearly motionless on the outside other than his errant knee, his inner life was a tumult of emotion. There had been a hell of a lot of subterfuge going on over the last couple months, and Harry was bound and determined to find out exactly what was being concealed from him.
His heart felt raw, like there was a gaping wound in his chest. He trusted Ron and Mr. Weasley with his life, and they had taken that trust and crushed it.
Mr. Weasley was one thing, but Ron’s betrayal was more gut wrenching than anything Harry had ever gone through. This went beyond Draco's detainment by the Ministry. At the heart of the issue was the unbelievable shift in Ron’s character, and his utter deception.
Suddenly, the door to the waiting room opened and in bustled a very frazzled Mr. Weasley.
“Suzie, please hold all my…” Mr. Weasley said as he made his way further into the room when the receptionist silently indicated Harry sitting across the way. Arthur Weasley turned to see what she was referring to, and his breath caught in his throat.
“Harry,” he finally managed.
Harry stood and walked slowly toward the man stopping two feet away from him.
“Minister,” he responded with a cool detachment that sent a chill through Mr. Weasley.
“Is there something I can help you with?” Arthur said nervously.
Harry smirked mirthlessly, and said. “That depends, Minister.”
Mr.Weasley shuddered again at the repeated use of his formal title. He wouldn’t ask Harry to call him by his first name though. He wouldn’t offend him by treating him like he was stupid. He knew what this was about.
“Are you ready to tell me what’s going on with Draco Malfoy yet?” Harry continued.
Mr. Weasley looked around using the avoidance of eye contact to gather the courage he knew he would need to have this conversation.
“Please step into my office Harry.” He said gesturing for Harry to go first.
The two men regarded each other for a moment, and then both moved into the next room.
Mr. Weasley walked around his desk, and sat heavily into his chair.
“Have a seat,” he said motioning to the chair across from him.
“I’d rather stand if it’s all the same.” Harry responded coolly.
Mr. Weasley’s nervous smile faltered slightly, and he said. “Yes, of course. Whatever is most comfortable for you.”
A tense silence settled between them as Mr. Weasley fidgeted with his hands, and Harry stood staring daggers down at him.
“So, what can I help you with my dear boy?”
Cutting straight to the point, Harry said. “When were you and Ron going to tell me about the Ministry’s little plot against Draco Malfoy?”
“Harry, please have a seat.”
“I told you I’d rather stand.”
“And I’d rather you sit.” Mr. Weasley said raising his voice slightly.
Harry placed his hands on the desk, and leaned forward menacingly.
In a low dangerous whisper, he said. “Unless you tell me now what the hell you’ve been up to, you will never have the right or privilege to ask anything of me ever again.”
Mr. Weasley leaned back in shock at the pure loathing in Harry’s eyes. He stood quickly, and moved to the window to escape the look of utter contempt.
Harry stood back up, and watched the man closely.
“Ron wasn’t supposed to know either if it makes you feel any better,” he stuttered out.
“It’s a very small consolation.” Harry answered dryly.
“When he found out, he was made to promise to keep it secret. He was told if he could not, then he would be removed from St. Mungo’s completely and reassigned.”
“You mean to tell me he wouldn’t be permitted in the hospital even on a personal basis?” Harry asked incredulously.
Harry had to think on this for a second.
“You used his feelings for Hermione against him.”
Mr. Weasley hesitated for a moment before replying. “It wasn’t my idea. I can tell you he wasn’t happy about it in the beginning, but shortly after something in him changed and he seemed to welcome the responsibility. He even began to report Mr. Malfoy’s behaviour and progress.”
“Oh, he did, did he? And what exactly did he report?” Harry growled.
“For the most part, he informed the Council that Mr. Malfoy seemed erratic and emotional. That he was having serious problems with the new treatment. Basically, his observations supported what was coming from Healer Brown. Although, he didn’t hide the fact that he still didn’t trust Mr. Malfoy.”
Harry was floored. What the hell was going on in Ron’s head? This went completely against every rude comment he’d made toward or about Draco over the past two months. Harry was sure given the chance Ron would have told the Ministry that Draco was the devil himself. Obviously, he didn’t. This was something he needed to talk to Ron about privately.
Harry shook his head quickly to clear the confusion. It was time to change the subject.
“So why was this supposed to be such a big secret from me?”
“Your particular friendship with Mr. Malfoy called your ability to be unbiased and impartial into question.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Harry barked.
“Harry, your past history speaks volumes. It was brought to the Ministry’s attention that you had grown quite close to Mr. Malfoy. We couldn’t take the chance that you might put the investigation in jeopardy.”
“Draco does not deserve to be hustled into Azkaban.” Harry railed at him.
“Harry, he’s guilty of atrocious crimes. You know some of what he’s done firsthand. Just because he may have become a better person does not mean that he should be completely excused of all wrongdoing.”
“I know that.” Harry said grudgingly. “But shouldn’t who he’s become be taken into consideration when determining his punishment.”
“Perhaps, but this latest development…”
“Is total bullshit, Arthur!” Harry finished for him. “Trust me on this. If anyone can recognize stupid selfless nobility, it’s me.”
Arthur chuckled a little. “Why don’t you trust the Council to see that for themselves?”
‘Because I wouldn’t trust the Council as far as I could throw them,’ Harry thought to himself.
“Because they haven’t spent the kind of time with him that I have.”
“True.” Mr. Weasley thought on this argument. “How about this then? Why don’t we talk about you coming in as a character witness for him? It would go a long way with the Council, and would have a much better effect than some ill planned stunt.”
Harry looked down slightly embarrassed. Arthur Weasley knew him so well.
Suddenly, the door burst open, and a very excited Ron catapulted into the room.
“Hey Dad!” He called.
When he spotted Harry, all of Ron’s enthusiasm instantly drained out of him, and stopped him clear in his tracks.
He eyed his father then said anxiously. “Hey Harry, what brings you here?”
Harry who had turned to see the commotion at the door ignored Ron’s greeting, and simply walked away, and took a seat in the corner of the room.
Watching their tense interaction, Mr. Weasley decided to intervene.
“Ron,” he called pulling his son’s attention from Harry in the corner, “what brings you here in such a state?”
“I did it Dad. I got him to agree to testify.” Ron said regaining some of his earlier momentum.
“Who Ron? What are you talking about?”
“Draco! He’s agreed to tell the Ministry everything he knows in exchange for a lighter punishment.”
“What do you mean ‘Everything’ Ron?” Mr. Weasley questioned.
“Just that. Names, places, everything. Dad, there are crimes we didn’t even know were committed. He knows so much Dad, and he’s willing to tell us who was involved, what they’ve done, and where they’re hiding places are just for starters. Think about it, Dad. He was one of the leaders of the Death Eater movement. Can you imagine the amount of information he had access to. Not only that, but he’s also willing to give us complete access to Malfoy Mansion.”
Mr. Weasley’s head was spinning with the possibilities.
“Well, we already had that Ron.”
“No Dad. We only had access to what we knew about. There are catacombs beneath the building.”
Mr. Weasley stopped to consider every angle.
"Can we trust this information."
"If he's lying, you can always send him away."
“How much of a lighter sentence?”
“He’s giving us everything he has Dad. That should at least keep him out of Azkaban.”
Mr. Weasley nodded his head, and went back to the idea taking shape in his mind. Abruptly, he stood coming to some kind of decision.
“I have to call an emergency Council meeting. Can you two gather Mr. Malfoy, and have him in Council chambers in thirty minutes?”
“Of course, Dad.”
With that, Mr. Weasley quickly darted out of his office.
Harry had remained a silent observer for this entire exchange. After a gaping silence, Ron drew enough courage to turn and look at him. The expression on his face was completely unreadable.
“You ready to go, Mate?” Ron asked uncertainly.
“Well, because Dad wants Draco there in half an hour.”
“No. Why did you do all this? Why did you keep this from me for so long? Don’t you know you can trust me?”
“It’s not that I don’t trust you, Harry.” Ron tried to explain.
“Then what? What was it?”
Deciding it was safe to finally come clean, Ron paced a bit trying to find the right place to start. He ran a shaking hand through his hair, and took a steadying breath.
“About three months ago, I accidentally walked in on a conversation between Percy and Dad about the Ministry’s plans for Draco. Percy told me if I didn’t keep quiet, they’d have to transfer me to Rome for the rest of the investigation. Mate, I couldn’t be away from her for that long.”
“I know Ron. Your Dad told me.”
“He did? What else did he say?” Ron seemed genuinely surprised.
“That you weren’t too happy about keeping the secret, but somewhere along the way you seemed to change your mind. What happened?”
Harry's face contorted in bewilderment.
“When he broke into St. Mungo’s and tried to attack Draco, everything became so clear to me.” Ron continued.
“How so?” Harry asked still a little lost.
“Well, I was trying to calm Colin down out in the hall, and he was ranting at me a bit about Malfoy. No matter how much I tried to explain to him that Draco had changed, he just refused to listen. I can’t blame him really. I’d only just told him. Obviously, it would take some time for it to sink in. Then it occurred to me. What the hell was my excuse? Hermione had been trying to get me to see reason for over a month, and I still wasn’t listening. She must have been ready to throttle me.”
“You could say that.” Harry laughed a little.
It was the first sign of a smile Ron had seen from him in ages, and the sight set him at ease instantly.
“The more I thought on having to stay quiet, the more I tried to see how I could turn it to our advantage rather than me being stupid by getting trapped. I thought if I made the Ministry think I still hated Malfoy, then they’d include me more, and I’d be able to know how the investigation was going.”
“That still doesn’t explain why you didn’t tell me.” Harry said pointedly.
“Harry, you may be good at hiding things, but I’m not. If you knew what I was up to, I’d want to talk to you about it whenever I was having problems. The Ministry would inevitably find out, and then we’d both be removed from St. Mungo’s. They couldn’t lose both of us.”
“They?” Harry asked confused.
“Hermione and Draco.” Ron supplied.
“Since when do you consider Draco’s feelings as well?” Harry smirked.
“Since Lavender explained to me what Draco really is to Hermione. They refer to each other as siblings, but their relationship is more that of a mother and son.”
“Wait Ron. When did Lavender tell you this?” Harry asked becoming even more confused.
“Out in the hall, the night Draco remembered being with the Grangers when they died. I was building the courage to go into Hermione’s room when Lavender came out of Draco’s. I don’t remember exactly how the conversation started. I think she was warning me not to egg her on.”
“Alright, so Hermione subconsciously thinks of Draco as her son. What exactly does that have to do with you?”
Ron reddened slightly and became strangely awkward. He looked around anxiously trying to find a way out of this confession, but ultimately decided it was unavoidable.
“That he’s my son,” he mumbled.
“Excuse me?” Harry exploded in shock.
Ron jammed his hands in his pockets and focused intently on the floor. Harry stared at him for a full minute without moving a muscle.
“You’re telling me that you, Ronald Weasley, consider Draco Malfoy to be your son?”
“Not literally Mate, but in a way, yes.”
This was unbelievable.
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” Harry sputtered.
“Well, it’s the way I feel.” Ron spat indignantly.
“Then why did you tell her the next morning that you would never accept Malfoy?” Harry asked.
“I was so close, Harry. I nearly told her everything. Can you imagine what she would have done if she’d found out what the Ministry was up to? I know I took it too far, but I had to make sure she didn’t know how I really felt. The Ministry knew she would side with him, and they were really suspicious of you, but I was still reliable in their eyes.”
“So, you didn’t tell us because…”
“I didn’t trust myself. I knew I’d slip up.”
Harry was reeling. This was just so much information to take in. He felt like he’d been living under a rock for the last several months. He wasn’t sure if he completely understood Ron’s reasoning, or the Ministry’s for that matter, and it would take him some time to forgive Ron for lying to him. But it was calming to know that Ron really hadn’t changed all that much.
“How did you figure out that Draco might be willing to testify?”
“Well, I figured if he was anything like his mother,” Ron grinned here. “…he wouldn’t want all that information to go to waste.”
It had taken twelve days. Twelve long days holed up in the Council chambers with Ron and Harry sitting on either side of Draco for support, and to act as character witnesses. Finally, after all that time, the Council was satisfied they had questioned Draco thoroughly.
“Well Mr. Malfoy, it seems you truly are a wealth of knowledge. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.” Mr. Weasley said with a warm smile before continuing. “The Council is aware that you have not completely regained your memory. That said, we would like to impress upon you the importance of an open line of communication between yourself and the Ministry should any other details or facts return to you.”
“Without question, your Honour.” Draco responded.
The eight council members looked to each other in cautious optimism.
“We would also like to confirm for the record your willingness to allow the Ministry full access to the Malfoy Mansion. The Ministry acknowledges this is with the understanding that anything of a dubious nature found will not be held against you.”
“Yes, your Honour.”
“Now unfortunately Mr. Malfoy, you are guilty of several crimes.” Mr. Weasley’s tone darkened.
Here, Ron and Harry visibly stiffened, but Draco motioned with his hand for them to hold back.
“Yes, your Honour,” he said quietly.
“No matter how much information and assistance you have provided, we cannot allow you to go completely unpunished.”
“I understand, your Honour.”
“The following are the terms of your sentencing. You are not to perform magic under any circumstances until we, the Council, have deemed you no longer a threat. That includes even the most basic of spells. You will be assigned an Auror to act as a guard. I believe Mr. Weasley has already volunteered for the posting. You must report to him at least once a week. Additionally, you are not to venture out into public without his presence. This is as much for your safety as it is for the Wizarding community’s. Finally, since you are returning to St. Mungo’s to complete your convalescence, you will be required to fulfill five hundred hours of service in any capacity they see fit. Any violation of these conditions will result in your immediate transfer to Azkaban. Do you have any questions?”
“No, your Honour.”
“Do you willingly accept these conditions of punishment?”
“Yes, your Honour.”
“Well then,” Mr. Weasley said with a sigh of relief, “if no one else has anything further, that concludes this session. Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, Auror Moody will assist you in returning Mr. Malfoy to St. Mungo’s.”
The four men emerged from the Ministry to find a very large crowd gathered outside. Word of not only Draco’s presence, but also his cooperation with the Ministry had surfaced, and many had come to take in the spectacle. As they walked down the steps, Mad Eye and Harry led the way as Draco and Ron fell into step behind them.
Suddenly, there was a slight jostling in the crowd as someone aggressively pushed their way forward. A woman emerged at the edge of the sea of people.
The witch pulled her wand from her cloak, pointed it at Draco, and screamed. “Blood traitor!” A bright green light emitted from her wand as she continued to scream a curse.
A loud burst of screaming erupted from the crowd, and people began to scatter every which way to escape the imminent danger.
Everything from this point on seemed to happen in slow motion.
Ron turned to Draco grabbing both of his shoulders, and placed himself in front of him. He gasped loudly when the curse hit his back, and Draco saw Ron’s eyes widen in a shock of pain.
As Ron and Draco were thrown to the ground by the force of the curse, Harry and Mad Eye launched themselves toward the woman, and took her down in a quick tackle. They wrestled her to the ground relieving her of her wand, and magically binding her wrists.
Standing the woman up, Harry came face to face with Bellatrix Lestrange.
She was frantically trying to catch a glimpse of Draco, and nearly spitting with rage.
“Where are you Blood Traitor?” She screamed totally ignoring Harry and Mad Eye. “You will be punished for the wrongs you committed against your own!”
“Shut up, you wench!” Mad Eye yelled in her face. “We were going to come looking for you. Thanks for saving us the trouble.”
As Mad Eye pulled Bellatrix away, Harry started to look around frantically through the still chaotic scene for Draco and Ron.
On his hands and knees, Draco scrambled to where Ron lay sprawled on the ground. Sitting down roughly, Draco grabbed him, pulled him into his lap, and cradled him in his arms. There was blood everywhere. He looked down at Ron who had grown frighteningly pale. His eyes were closed, and his body was limp.
“Ron? Ron, are you alright?” He said. His voice trembled as he shook Ron gently.
Draco brushed the hair out of Ron’s face smearing blood across his brow. Ron’s eyes fluttered open, and took in Draco’s concerned, anxious features.
“Hey Ferret,” Ron supplied weakly through a goofy grin. “You look stressed.”
Ron started to cough, and blood came out and rolled down the side of his mouth.
“Just stay quiet, alright. You’ve been hurt.”
“Really? Hadn’t noticed.” Ron started to chuckle but immediately winced from the pain.
“Sshh! Just be still!” Draco pleaded quietly.
Ron reached up using every ounce of strength he had left, and grabbed onto Draco’s sleeve.
He looked at him pointedly, and said. “Well, I guess I won’t be able to tell Lav and Hermione what a git you are.” Although he was trying to sound lighthearted, the words were struggled out in a strained, tight voice.
At that, the smile slid from Ron’s face, and his eyes lost their focus and fell shut. The hand holding onto Draco so tightly before, fell limply to Ron’s side.
“Don’t you dare, Weasley! Don’t you dare! Hold on! Please, just hold on!” Draco screamed.
He desperately looked around for any kind of help. When he spotted Ron’s wand, without thinking, he reached out and grabbed it. Draco felt something surge within him, and he knew what he had to do.
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