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Bend or Break by charlottetrips
Chapter 4 : Chapter Four
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 24

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Chapter Four

Draco was amused by the reactions he caused as he moved through the Ministry hallways leading to Harry’s office. The witches and wizards he came across all paused at the sight of him, shocked, not by his scars—the head wound having healed to a jagged scar across his eyebrow—but by his very presence. It wasn’t even an assumption that was off base or conceited.

It had been years since he had had to come to the Ministry and the last time he had been here, he had been on trial for his crimes in aiding and abetting the Dark Lord. He had been young, just of age, and completely shaken of his principles. Here he truly learned that life was just a matter of looking out for his own interests, and that anything else hindered his survival. He hated that he felt apprehensive and uncomfortable being here, as if he, whose bloodlines dated back to the most ancient of wizards, did not belong here.

Turning the corner, he came to the waiting area for the Head Auror. Solid black oak doors faced him, Harry’s name and title clearly seen on the gold plate affixed to them. There were two black waiting chairs and a coffee table, again in black oak, to his left and to his right, just to the side of the doors was Harry’s secretary. Draco’s eyebrows rose a little as he took in the sweet profile of the blonde as she reached into her desk for something. Well, at least he had something, or actually, someone to divert his attention.

“Hello,” he greeted her as he moved up to and around her desk, laying a hand just next to hers which was placed on the desktop. She had straightened as he’d come near and was now looking up at him with wide blue eyes, her pretty mouth forming a small “o” of surprise. A corner of his mouth lifted up into, what he knew to be, a seductive smile.

Her voice was soft, “Oh! You’re—“

“Draco Malfoy,” he finished for her, watching as her eyes looked at him with interest. He lifted his hand to take hers from the table when the cool voice of Harry broke in.

“Not now, Malfoy.” Draco turned to find Harry standing in his open doorway, looking not at all amused by the scene before him. Harry caught Draco’s gaze and wordlessly took a step back into his office, indicating for him to come in.

Draco looked back at the secretary with a smiling glance and followed the Head Auror through the doorway. “Does your wife know that you’ve got a looker as your secretary?” he asked, mainly to aggravate the man.

“Shut it.”

Draco pretended to misunderstand the retort and made a show of walking back and closing the office door. Harry reined in his annoyance and sat down behind his desk, gesturing for Draco to take a seat in one of the leather armchairs facing him. The office was medium in size, not something one would expect of a prominent official but something one could expect of Harry, well-known for his modesty and refusal to be treated like a celebrity.

Once seated, the leather creaking under him, Draco felt his earlier anxiety come back. Annoyed with himself, he forced his tense muscles to relax. He wasn’t being interrogated by the Wizengamot. Just by his childhood enemy.

Harry pulled a thin manila folder closer to him, opened it up and for the moment the only sound in the room was the rough slide of papers against each other. Draco flinched as he saw photographs of the wreckage paper-clipped to the front cover. Those must’ve been taken only an hour or two after the accident, as it was still dark outside in the picture, with just enough moonlight to see figures moving over the scene. One pair in particular caught his eye; these two worked on pulling a body out of the smoking cars. Draco couldn’t see who it was: Ron or Blaise. Unable to continue looking, his eyes wandered up to the magicked window that took up the wall behind Harry. Gray sunlight filtered in, mirroring the skies aboveground.

Harry glanced over the documentation of the accident, not really seeing them as he had been over them many times since he had received the file a few hours ago. He took the time to size up the lean man before him surreptitiously. He now saw what Draco’s irritating actions had meant to hide. He could see that the former Death Eater was not comfortable, here in this place, where the once-proud Malfoy name had been made synonymous with “traitor” and “coward”.

Harry had gone to the Malfoys’ trial, one of the rare times that he had used his own name as an influence because, in the end, the Malfoys had helped defeat Voldemort, even if it had almost been too late. While Harry had been able to provide testimony of their help, he had been unable to prevent the sly jabs and outright jeers that had been thrown at the family during the days of their trial. Harry watched as the Malfoys had pulled in on themselves, closed themselves off as their own people turned on them. It seemed that they, or perhaps just Draco, had overcome wizard society’s opinions to the point where he was generally accepted by them, if only to have someone to gossip about.

Harry closed the file and took his glasses off his nose, setting them aside after giving a brief rub to the bridge of his nose. His green gaze met the cool gray of Draco’s. Draco stayed silent under the more obvious scrutiny, refusing to show any discomfort, not knowing that Harry already knew and didn’t care for the pretense. “Can you tell me the events leading up to the accident?”

An almost imperceptible frown appeared on Draco’s face, Harry thinking the cause of it was the unpleasant task of recounting his friend’s death.

“Blaise and I had been out with some other friends last night. He’d been drinking, although I hadn’t realized how drunk he was until he left the party. I tried to stop him once I realized how drunk he was.” Images of the night before came to him, filling in the spaces he left unsaid.

Blaise’s face was contorted in anger as he turned away from Draco sharply and headed for the front doors. “Blaise!” Draco called out, getting up from where he was sitting, stumbling after the darker man whose footsteps didn’t slow a bit. Draco caught up to him just at the front doors and made a grab for Blaise’s arm, trying to get him to stop so they could talk.

The instant Draco touched him, Blaise shoved him back violently with his other arm, sending Draco to the floor. For a moment, Blaise stood over him, hate coming off of him in palpable waves. He spoke to the fallen man in a low voice, “Get the bloody hell away from me, Malfoy. I’ve been your friend now for what, twenty years, and this is how you fucking treat me? You leave me the fuck alone.” He turned and left Draco on the floor, his head swimming with alcohol, guilt and regret.

“He got in his car and took off. I followed him in mine, and, well, you know the rest. I didn’t even have my bloody wand on me.” Draco swallowed down the grief he felt for his friend as well as the guilt that he felt threatening to overwhelm him. His eyes moved from the window behind Harry, which he had focused on as he recounted the incident, and now met the Head Auror’s assessing gaze.

Harry waited a moment before speaking. “I guess my first question for you would be: Why were you even in cars? Purebloods such as you and Blaise…” he trailed off. The Malfoy family had been the more adamant about not mixing or fraternizing with Muggleborns or Muggles.

A self-deprecating smirk appeared on the blond man’s face. “I developed a bad habit.” Harry nodded in understanding. After the trial, Lucius had spent five years in Azkaban while Draco and his mother had been suspended their wands during that same period. It had been the lightest sentences that the court had been willing to grant the Malfoys.

“What about not carrying your wand? You’ve had the use of it for almost four years now.” Draco could see that Harry had been mulling these questions over in his mind since that case file had hit his desk.

“I just didn’t have it on me.” Harry’s mouth opened, to get a clarification of that answer, a clarification that Draco wasn’t willing to give. “I have my own personal reasons,” Draco’s tone was final.

Harry’s mouth settled into a firm line as he looked at Draco. It was a question that logically he should pursue but his instinct told him that it wasn’t relevant and perhaps more private than Harry wanted to go.

“All right then. Did you and Blaise often drink and drive?”

“No. We’ve only done this once or twice before, years ago.” He tried not to sound defensive. His eyes slid away from Harry’s to look at his hands. It was instinctual for him to fight being in the wrong, fight having to take responsibility for something. And while he wasn’t willing to divulge the reason for Blaise’s upset out of fear, unreasonable or not, he realized that he was going to have to start changing some things in his life, start owning up to his actions. He took a deep breath and continued, “I know it’s against Muggle and wizard law for me to have driven while under the influence, but I didn’t know what else to do when my friend was blazing drunk. And I wasn’t so far off myself.”

Harry was slightly surprised that Draco would admit some responsibility and wrongdoing. Harry had already gotten the hospital reports of alcohol in Draco’s system so already knew that he had violated the laws and had expected Draco to deny it or justify it somehow. He leaned forward in his chair slightly. “Thank you for telling me,” his voice polite. Draco glanced at Harry whose expression was sincere.

“What happens now?” Draco forced himself to stay still though he wanted to move, to get rid of the nervous energy he could feel flowing through him.

Harry wrote something out on a piece of parchment and slid it across the desk to Draco who took it warily. It was a date and time: May 22, 10:30am. “What’s this?”

“Your court date,” Harry answered, matter-of-factly. Draco winced involuntarily and Harry stifled the vindictive pleasure that dark part of him took in the man’s reaction. It had been a long time since they had been pitted against each other, simply because of circumstance. Almost feeling like he had to prove to himself he really wasn’t out to get Draco, he spoke to assure the other man, “It’s not in front of an entire Wizengamot tribunal, Draco. It’ll just be one of the wizard judges.”

Draco gave a slight nod and stood up from the chair. Harry followed suit, walking around his desk to shake Draco’s hand. He looked into Draco’s eyes, wanting him to know that he was genuine in what he was going to say. “I haven’t thanked you yet for saving Hermione and her baby. We haven’t been on the best of terms but I wanted to let you know that if you need help on anything, you can come to me. You kept your head in an extremely dangerous situation and they are alive because of you. Thank you.” Harry’s voice was low and he struggled to hold back his sorrow and instead focus on the fact that he still had Hermione as well as Ron’s son living when he could have had no one.

Draco was stunned. He held Harry’s gaze for another moment before swallowing the sudden lump in his throat. With another nod, he left the office, feeling as if his mind was moving at high speed while being stagnant at the same time. Things were changing for him and he wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or not. Stepping out into the courtyard, he made his way to the Floo stations. There was someone he needed to see: Blaise’s fiancée, Sybil Graham.

Stepping out of the portal at Sybil’s address, he found her crumpled on her couch crying. The curtains were drawn so that the room seemed gloomy, the air felt heavy with—was it grief? Regret? Guilt? He wasn’t sure.

She looked up at his footsteps, her blue eyes glassy before recognition entered. Slowly she stood to face him as he moved to where she was. They looked at each other for a moment and then her arms were around his neck, his own arms going around her automatically. “Oh, Draco,” she breathed and kissed him.

Author's Note: I would really appreciate feedback on this chapter as it's been awhile since I updated the story and I'm not sure if my voice sounds the same.  Are Draco and Harry believable?  Let me know if there's something off (or if there's something you like, of course).

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