And the next chapter! Thank you to everyone who has been following this story. It means a lot to me, and I hope you are enjoying. Thank you to my skype writing group, without whom I'd be lost. Thank you!
fantastic chapter image by wishaway. @ TDA
The next day Rose seemed more reserved as well. Granted, she didn't hide in her room like she had done the past two days, but she spoke very little as if I had offended her or scared her off. I started the day off by cooking breakfast for the both of us.
Honestly, I was starting to feel as if cooking were my life these past two days. All I did was eat, sleep, be bored out of my mind, and cook.
So I made breakfast and we temporarily sat in silence while Rose picked at the last of the waffles on her plate. I was watching her from the corner of my eye, wondering just what was going through my mind. I glanced to my watch, knowing I was on a somewhat tight schedule for the morning.
I subtly and nonchalantly rinsed my plate and disappeared into my bedroom. I knew Rose wouldn't question my disappearance. It wasn't like she would care.
I locked the door behind me and that was when I sighed in pleasure. I let myself morph back into myself. I felt my legs grow longer, my body get more broad, and my hair shorten just a bit. Knowing I was once me again, I walked to the floor length mirror by the dresser and looked at myself.
I smiled, for I didn't actually think I would ever miss being myself, but I had. I had been tired of being Malfoy; it felt good to be me
again. I walked funny in the too short jeans, and not only that, but I looked quite ridiculous as well. So I slipped out of them and tossed them over the edge of the bed. I returned to the dresser to pull on a pair of my own jeans and not a pair that Ruckman had bought for me while I was disguised as Malfoy.
Ah, not only me once again but me wearing my own clothes once again!
It was a wonderful feeling.
Knowing I had to leave to go to the Ministry for an hour or two, I went the enchanted radio on the old, rickety desk. I turned it on, a smooth jazz filling the room, and I turned the volume up quite high until I believed Rose would not be able to hear the sound of my apparation. She couldn't know that I was leaving the premises. As far as she was concerned, she believed there was an anti-apparating charm over the place. I couldn't go blowing my cover just by making a simple mistake.
So, ready to leave for the ministry, I double checked that the door to my bedroom was locked and that Rose would have no way of knowing that I had temporary left. Upon doing so, I apparated out of the cottage and directly into the Auror department at the Ministry of Magic.
I gave the clerk sitting at the desk quite a fright, but grinned at Thomas Newman. He sighed once he saw it was me and inclined his head to me. "Nice to see you again, Thomas."
"And you, Ted," Thomas nodded. "Think Peakes is waiting for you."
"Right," I said and pushed into the hall in which all of our offices were held. It felt odd to be back at the offices. A different feeling, for sure. I felt as if I had actually missed being in my normal work placement, but I assumed that was just because I was stuck doing an assignment I didn't wish to be doing. I felt as if I were betraying Rose in every way possible.
As I made my way down the hall, I passed all the familiar offices. I came upon the office of my god father's, and his door was open. I slowed my pace and let my head peak into his line of vision. I saw him sitting at his desk, scribbling something down with a quill and holding that concentrated look on his face. I pursed my lips and tried to smile as I realized I missed him, that I missed hanging out with the Weasleys and the Potters, something I guess I had always taken for granted.
Now that I was all locked up in confinement with Rose, I was starting to respect the little things I had never really noticed before. And Merlin, I was starting to appreciate all that Chinese take-out of my past even. That was a bad sign.
I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to tell him how my stay with Rose had been; I wanted to tell him all that I knew. I knew he, Ron, and all the others would want to know as well, but I couldn't. Not according to my contract. I couldn't tell him anything about the case, what I was doing, or what I had learned from Rose. I could only talk to him about things that were irrelevant to the case.
But I cared so much for them that I almost wanted to break my contract, jeopardize my work placement. I pushed the urge away and began to straighten up when Harry caught me out of the corner of his eye.
He stopped suddenly and had to do a double take to make sure it was my face he spotted in his doorway.
I half regretted letting him see me and half wanted to hug him like I always did when I was a little boy. He sat up straight and dropped his quill. His face was blank for a long time, probably as his mind pulsed about the case, and then finally he smiled. "Ted," he breathed happily.
"Hey, Harry," I grinned as I stepped completely in front of the door way.
"How are you?" he asked as he rose from his office chair. He came to stand by me, more uneasy about our conversation as he approached the hall where anyone could see or hear. He knew the risks of people seeing us chatting together. Some people could assume that I was giving out all the wrong information to the wrong kind of people. But hopefully my co-workers knew better than to assume that.
I wouldn't break my contract...
Not in public at least...
"I'm all right. Wishing the circumstances weren't the way that they are," I said dully.
"Right. Us as well. I thought you were in Egypt," said Harry.
"There's a lot our department isn't letting you know about," I shrugged my shoulders, slightly irritated with our policy, and then I finally smiled. "Bet it's odd for you. Head Auror and all and not knowing what's going on in your own department. Has it been different?"
"Very," sighed Harry and rubbed the back of his neck. "I'm used to knowing about anything and everything that goes on in this office. Now something is going on in the department beneath my level of power that I don't know about. I'm used to calling all the shots. Now there's a case in which I can't know anything, and I can tell you this, it's definitely getting to Peakes' head. He thinks he's a second Head Auror in this place. Well, after this case he goes back to just being another Auror. I have the right to fire him at any given time, so he better be careful."
I grinned at Harry's irritated attitude. I liked it when he got all worked up. He was generally calm about most things until he would bottle them up for too long and burst. I had only come across that a few times though. I think that my god father finally figured out why he would always burst like he did, and that was when he started to not bottle things up so much. He would then vent in small amounts every now and then. I could easily see that now was one of those times, and just from this I could understand just how irritated he was by the whole case. I knew by his last statement that he would fire Peakes after the case if he found out that Peakes had done anything to harm Rose's case.
"Agreed," Teddy nodded. "I could tell that he's feeling a little power-tipsy when he was giving me my orders. I know Ron must be worried. So, could you have him...here in your office when I'm done with Peakes?"
Harry's brow rose significantly as he stood in the doorway with his arms folded across his chest. He gave me an incredulous look as if he disapproved, but I know that, inside, he was grateful for what I was saying. "Teddy," he began in that fatherly tone he had, "I could fire you for that."
"But you won't," I snickered with my mischievous smile, "because I'm your god son, and you and Ron want to know what's going inside the case.
He pursed his lips and remained quiet for many moments as he debated his thoughts and tried to decide which was the better decision in such a situation.
I grinned and clapped him on the shoulder. "Well, I've gotta go see Peakes. I'll be back, Harry."
He only nodded and slipped back into his office. I made my way down the hall again and knocked on Peakes' door before allowing myself entrance. He was sitting at his desk with Ruckman, kicked back in his chair and with his feet on his desk. His hands were behind his head, and he and our other co-worker had clearly been having a good laugh. Peakes had a smile on his face as he turned to look at me. I found it to be an odd situation.
I thought Peakes had forgotten to smile during the time he had been assigned Head of Rose's case. He had acted so tough since his temporary "promotion," and I had quite forgotten what it was like to see him smile or hear him laugh. Perhaps he only acted tough around me because he got to boss me around. I actually think that sounds somewhat like Peakes...
"Ah, Ted," he greeted me. He motioned to the other empty chair next to Ruckman. I sat down, and the smile he had been wearing immediately dropped from his face. He only remained somewhat happy as he became all business. "How has it been going at the summer house?"
"Fine. Rose has kept herself locked up in her room for the majority of the time. I haven't learned much. You'll have to give me more time," I said sternly, raising my hands as if he would give me more leeway with the motion.
"Understandable. Just wanted to know what was going on. Your first actions could have immediately set off a reaction for her or give us a lead in some direction. This is good and bad," muttered Peakes as he thought about it. "If she hasn't been too friendly, then that means that she and Malfoy were most likely not
accomplices in the murder. What have you told her?
"I've played dumb. Told her I didn't know anything about the case. She thinks I'm clueless and it hasn't spurred anything from her. So yeah; she and Malfoy clearly aren't accomplices. It doesn't mean that both of them aren't. One of them could be. Malfoy could actually be, or Rose may be and she just hasn't told me. But why would she admit to that? I need more time to work it out of her if she has," I said as professionally as I could. I also tried to work in my sympathy towards Rose at the same time. I had come to learn that Peakes had very little boundaries when it came to the clients in cases. Why would Rose be any different?
"Right you are, Lupin," said Peakes. His hands folded together, and his thumbs pressed themselves against his forehead as he thought more on it.
The dumbass, I thought. I don't know why he thinks he's tough stuff while being the Head of this case. It has definitely gotten to his head, and the sad thing is that he's a poor Auror to begin with. Or at least I think he is. He doesn't even know where to go next. Harry would know exactly what to do even if he had no clue as to what Rose or Malfoy's roles were.
When he didn't say anything, I found it a good opportunity to learn what had gone on about the case inside the Ministry. While I hated all of its constant news and exaggerations of every matter and blowing things out of proportion in every which way, I still needed to know what was going on. I asked, "And Malfoy? Has he said anything?"
"Nohting," Peakes shook his head. "We've gotten hardly a peep from him. His lawyer has told him to do so though. It's a shame Potter abolished the law of forced Veritaserum. We can only give it with Malfoy's consent. Shame; this whole process could be accomplished so much faster."
I felt my nose wrinkle involuntarily at his words. Of course Peakes found it a shame. Like I said. No boundaries. Whatsoever. The dick.
I hope Harry really does fire him after this case. Maybe he will screw up.
"It's illegal now because it's a complete invasion of privacy," I chimed in. I shook my head as if Jimmy was being ridiculous. And he was. He didn't seem to pick up my irritation, so that was a plus. As much as I disliked Peakes, his work ethic, and having him as Head of the case, I needed to be on his good side.
"Yes, of course," he sighed in a disappointed manner. "So if Malfoy won't talk, then Weasley needs to start talking. Find out if she honestly doesn't know. We'll worry about getting Malfoy to talk here; you focus on Weasley and we will reconvene."
"I can do that," I nodded.
And I could. I could get Rose to talk. Sure, for all of both our lives, we had both just been there in the other's life. I would like to believe that she would have talked to me about anything even though we were never the best of friends due to our big age gap.
I would get to know her. As Scorpius, of course, but I was still me.
I hadn't lost my personality just because I looked like Malfoy. That meant I could be myself once I got her to warm up to Malfoy and make her forget about said grudge.
If I could act like me, we could finally be friends. She could maybe tell me the truth if there was anything to know.
The only downfall of it all was that I would still
be Malfoy. She would think all the bonding was with Malfoy.
How am I to cover that up sometime in the future?
I did feel like I was breaking some sort of symbolic trust bond that should exist between myself and any family of my god father's. But I reminded myself as to why I was even doing this case. I wanted to help in any way that I could. If I could find out anything that would benefit Rose in the case, then I wanted to do it. And I trusted myself more than anyone. Right? That makes sense.
I worried about how this would eventually play out when she would find out that I was actually Malfoy. Unless she didn't find out...That could be good.
Oh well. Only thinking about the now.
"Fantastic. Well, then get back to the cottage. Don't let Weasley find out that you've left," Peakes said and waved me off.
I dismissed myself and ran back down the hall. When I passed Harry's office, just like I had requested, Ron was waiting as well. I slipped inside, shutting the door behind me.
Ron clapped me on the shoulder in friendly greeting, and I could see how distressed he had become since Rose had gone into confinement. I could only imagine how upset Hermione is. The three of us sat down, and Harry waved his wand around to place a silencing charm on his office.
"All you have to do, Ted, is tell me that she's all right. You don't have to put your job at risk for this," he shook his head. Good man, he is. No matter how much he said that was all I had to do, I knew he wanted more.
I was lucky I was on the inside of things. Perhaps I could break my contract and not have any cons to it.
"Ron, don't be ridiculous," I dismissed it. "Ask, and I'll tell you. I don't want you to worry."
"You could lose your job, Ted," Harry warned me again. I knew he was only looking after me, but I was a big kid now and I could make such decisions on my own. I'm twenty-seven.
Besides, how jacked up would my priorities be if I chose work over the people I cared about? That's messed up. I knew what was important in life.
"I know I could, but if I can give you lot some piece of mind, then I want to. Besides, you're not going to fire me, Harry, are you?" I inquired. I raised my brow curiously at Harry in such a gesture that was almost laughable.
His lips pursed into a tight line as he acknowledged that I was somewhere in between kidding and being serious. He was fighting against that thin line. His fingers rasped against the table as he clearly debated it. "I don't want to abuse my position like that, Ted," said Harry as he shook his head.
Always the good kiddo.
"We can wait till after the trial," he said again. I knew Harry had that kind of will-power, so I knew he was being serious and could resist the temptation to know what he could. But Ron was a different story. He looked like he was having a hard time sitting in that chair, being all quiet. He rubbed the back of his neck, and Harry looked to him with his brow raised as if he weren't giving Ron an option even though his words said different. "Right, Ron?"
He grunted and pulled his hands away from his neck, flicked something at the ground, and growled. "Yeah. We can wait."
"Good," Harry nodded.
Just then a knock came from the door, and the three of us looked to one another in slight fear. We didn't say anything. Just sat there, completely frozen. We all knew what was pulsing through our minds at that very moment. Was it Peakes? Or Ruckman? Would it be anyone that would assume I was spilling - which I almost did - to Rose's family? Yes, they couldn't hear us, but if that door opened, they could see the three of us clear as day.
I looked to Harry, lost as to what to do. He bit his lp and motioned for me to stand in the corner behind the door. I did so, feeling as if I were kids and playing a stupid game of hide and seek.
"Keep quiet," he whispered to me as he went for his door. Ron remained in his chair, slouching out of his tense stance and looking more nonchalant.
The door creaked open and most of the room was lost from my view, but I could still feel my god father's surprise. Harry swallowed, and from my right I could see him blinking in a confused manner.
"Malfoy?" he asked, quite surprised. He shook off his surprise and whatever childhood disagreements there were and asked more professionally, "What can I do for you?"
"Hey, Weasley," Draco Malfoy greeted Ron in a polite tone.
Apparently Draco Malfoy was a complete dick in his Hogwarts years to anyone who wasn't a Slytherin, but I didn't really get a vibe from him that read 'dick.' So maybe he had been in the past, but even according to Ron and Harry, Scorpius Malfoy's father had clearly undergone a change for the better. He was actually somewhat polite. Granted, I didn't know my own second cousin or whatever the hell it was very well, but the only thing I knew I disliked about him was his hair that was absolutely saturated in gel.
"I...I thought I could talk to you, Potter. If you..." he faltered and it didn't take much else to know that he wanted to ask about his son.
"Oh," said Harry in surprise. He pushed himself into the hall to look for any nearby co-workers. I assumed the coast was clear, for he stepped back in and cleared his throat, making room for Malfoy to enter. "Come in, Draco."
He shut the door behind him and Draco turned on his heels to look about the office. That's when he spotted me pressed against the wall like a bloody wall decoration. My face was expressionless, but at Malfoy's stunned face I let a creepy smile come onto my face. "Hi," I said innocently.
Draco actually smiled once he regained his composure. He lost his tense stance and held a sneaky grin. "Looks like you have your own stowaway, Potter."
"And I'd appreciate it if you didn't say anything," said Harry in a warning voice.
"O'course," said Draco in a breezy voice as I finally peeled myself off of the wall.
I let Malfoy have the third chair, and I went to stand behind Harry's desk.
Malfoy folded his arms across his chest and spoke mostly to Harry. I began to wonder if Ron and I should leave, but Draco seemed comfortable enough to continue with us still in the room. So I assumed it was all right.
"I'm not sure if you can help me. I'm sure you and Ron are in the same situation I am and that I've been asked to remain out of the case in all ways possible."
I figured Draco would have been asked to do so. He wasn't an Auror, and he wasn't a lawyer, but he did work in the Law Enforcement department. If any case arose that involved the close relationship to a Ministry worker, then that Ministry worker was asked to stay out of it no matter where they worked. Draco wouldn't have been any different.
"I doubt you have been allowed access to the case, but I have to know if you know anything..." he finished in a sad and desperate way. He leaned forward and his grey eyes locked with Harry's. "But we're worried. Astoria and I. We just want to know if he's all right."
Harry sat there with his lips pursed, and I felt the tension in the room rise. Harry didn't even know if he was all right, so how was he to answer that?
"I'm sorry, Draco, but I don't know either. I can't help you."
Draco sighed and ran his hand through his hair. He sat there in a defeated manner for many moments. His hands were clasped together before him, his lips pressed to his thumbs as he pondered the entire situation. "He can't be. Scorpius can't be. There's no way he's a part of this."
"Something I would like for myself to believe about him and Rose as well," said Harry in a reassuring tone.
Draco sighed and nodded. "Right. Well, sorry I bothered you then. Just wishful thinking, I guess. I know I was breaking both of our contacts just now. I just...Sorry, forget I asked."
Malfoy actually went on a rant, and I, who didn't have any previous knowledge of Draco's attitude before I came into existence, could tell that Harry and Ron were quite surprised by him.
Yes, I had spent a little time with Draco Malfoy and his family during my years of childhood. My grandmother and I would visit them for holidays to catch up on what goings-on there were. I wasn't around to know of the bad times and the disputes between the entire tangled family that is made up of the Blacks and Malfoys. And now Lupin. But from what I knew, they were all rivals to one another until after the war and suddenly Malfoy became a better person. So I don't know exactly what went down; I just know that he's a good guy now. But Harry and Ron's disbelief towards Malfoy still surprised me at times.
It seemed as if they were still adjusting to his change.
He must have been pretty bad then...
Malfoy made quickly for the door, but Harry stopped him. "Wait, Draco," he said slowly. Draco turned with a hopeful expression on his face, and Harry continued on. "I
don't know anything about your son, but someone I trust
Harry said it slowly and in a low voice. It was a suspicious voice in which Harry maintained constant eye contact with Draco. There was something deeper behind Harry's statement. Something I didn't quite pick up on immediately, and neither did Ron and Draco. Ron and I looked at each other while we watched Draco try to solve the riddle.
Oh, great. I was never good at riddles, but I tried anyway.
I would assume that the word trust had something more to it. Maybe more than just trust, but people he was close to. Close family he trust in the department. Ron wouldn't know anything because he was just as directly related as Malfoy.
Then it hit me.
He was talking about me.
I went tense and felt as if I had suddenly been put on the spot. Malfoy must have figured it out too, for his eyes moved to me and they locked. Harry wanted me to talk to Malfoy, to tell him what I knew of Scorpius.
Harry just didn't want to say it out loud or acknowledge it. With his position, anything he knew of such actions could cost us all our jobs. I nodded, and Harry, seeing that we both mutually understood what was going on, said again. "I don't know what goes on when I'm not around, but what I don't know won't hurt me."