Apparition across countries was tough, not only illegal without permission, but I had been doing it on and off for the past few months. Australia was my destination. Hermione had mentioned in the Daily Prophet of her intentions to go to Australia and that’s when it hit me - her parents were there. I had travelled to small towns in Perth, Canberra and Sydney and had found not one trace of Wendell and Monica Wilkins aka Mr and Mrs Granger. So then, I went further away from the main cities and had heard about a fairly new married couple from England whose names began with a ‘W’. It wasn’t much, but it was a start. I planned to return the next week when I had the energy and the money to go out there again.
I had no hope of having Hermione again, therefore the only reason for me doing this is to earn her gratitude. She would definitely not leave Weasley for me because of it, but this token would show that I had not forgotten about her. On my travels, I had also realised that she had not begun her search for them yet and so I took up the task before I had forgot to myself.
I had to admit that when I read the Daily Prophet three months ago, I had not expected a tiny segment on page thirty seven:
Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger have announced their engagement. Mr Weasley asked Miss Granger last night - on her twentieth birthday - and she gladly accepted. The Wizarding World anticipates the wedding day of Harry Potter’s best friends.
That was all they had written and there was no photo so I could see how small her engagement ring was. I had been going through the paper with a keen eye to find out if there was any news on her. And this was the worst. She was such a stupid little liar for accepting him when she wanted me - only me. I knew that. She knew that. So did Weasley’s sister! I saw her in Madam Malkin’s talking to Hermione about me. A tiny part of me had relied on her to get Hermione back, but clearly I was wrong to think so.
Christmas had made me particularly bitter; this festive season was devoted to family. No matter what you believed the general consensus was that Christmas time meant family time, it meant love. And here I was in a large, empty, cold home, my father was in Azkaban, my mother was missing, my friends had lives and the only girl I could see myself having a future with was marrying someone else. All I had to look forward to was a cold beer and a few slices of pepperoni pizza. No presents, no love, no Hermione …
After collapsing onto an armchair, I shot back up almost instantly. Someone had Apparated into my front yard. Standing up quietly, I took my wand from my pocket and walked to the front door. I did not open it, just peered out of the window, watching the cloaked figure walk towards it. My breathing was shallow and I began to perspire, the water dripping from my face.
The door opened and I shoved my wand into the person’s shoulder.
I received a harsh push. “Put your wand down, you stupid boy.”
Regaining my footing, I gasped. “Mother?” I would recognise her voice anywhere.
She looked terrible. When she pulled down her hood, I saw her gaunt face and her red eyes, shallow cheeks and greying, brittle hair.
“Where have you been?” I asked as I followed her into the drawing room. She lit the fireplace with a flick of her wand.
“Nowhere,” she said impatiently. She was upstairs and back down within minutes and I was stood in the same place.
“Nowhere? You’ve been gone for over a year and you come back all of a sudden and tell me nothing? I thought something had happened to you. Something bad.”
She turned to me to give me a hug, which I gave back, and she kissed my forehead. “I missed you, Draco.”
“I missed you too.” I folded my arms. “Where were you?”
She gulped and stared into the fire. “All I can tell you is someone came to me.”
“Not death eaters?”
She said nothing, so that meant yes.
“The Ministry are planning to come after us all so we needed to unite.”
“Unite? For what purpose?”
“To protect one another!”
“But why? He’s gone now. There’s no reason for us to do this any more.”
“As long as we had been on his side, people won’t see us as equals. Also … they were very … persuasive.”
“Do not swear at me, Draco! Now come on. We need to leave, now.”
“And go where? Into hiding?”
She nodded. “Please. I don’t want you in Azkaban.”
“Why would I go to Azkaban?”
“I told you. The Ministry of Magic are planning to take us all in.”
“And I’m supposed to believe your friends?”
“You’re supposed to believe your mother. Now, let’s go.” She held out her hand, no doubt to Disapparate and take us to her supposed hideout.
“I can’t. I erm … have responsibilities.”
She smiled wryly. “No, you don’t Draco.” She almost laughed.
“How would you know? You haven’t been here for over a year. For all you know, I’m a different person.”
She sighed, running her hand through her long blond hair. “I’m sorry. How are you?”
“Pissed off!” I ignored the face she made at my foul language. “You expect me to leave with you without a seconds notice!”
“Have you settled down yet? Got a girlfriend?”
Since Hermione, I had been with Cordelia again for a few months and then I was quite alone. Pansy Parkinson and I had dated for three weeks since and then I let her go - or forced her to.
Her eyes lit up gladly. “That’s lovely Draco.” She looked around uneasily. She wanted me to hurry up and talk so that we could go, I could tell.
“I’m not leaving with you.”
“I was afraid you would say that.” She held onto my hands. “I’m going to be in Hogsmeade Village until ten this evening.” She checked the grandfather clock. “That gives you three hours to decide.”
“I won’t change my mind,” I told her defiantly.
She smiled and kissed my cheek. “I’ll be waiting. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
She Disapparated, without wishing me a Happy Christmas.
Damn her! Why did she have to come back now? Why did she have to come back at all? I was getting on with my life without her and now she swanned in expecting me to rejoin death eaters. She knew that we were both better off without them, so how could she expect me to up and leave? Besides, I still had to find the Grangers and -
The fire went out immediately and the air turned cold.
My wand was in my back pocket.
I reached for it, but the front door, the back door, the windows, everything seemed to welcome the sound of footsteps.
It was too late to Disapparate now.
Suddenly, I couldn’t see a thing.
I dropped my wand and fell to my knees, coughing, heaving.
My lungs felt restricted. What was in the air?
“GET DOWN!” Voices shouted at me from all directions. About twenty, I would say.
Then about ten people Apparated beside me.
Someone grabbed my shoulder and I instantly pivoted and struck him with my fist. It landed on his jaw and he flew backwards as I stood to deal with the next one. I heard one come towards me and struck low; he got a thump in the stomach, but before I could move on again, nearly all of the Aurors - and they must have been Aurors - Apparated closer to me in a tight circle.
Then about twenty spells came my way.
It was an odd feeling. I thought I had been Stunned, but it felt different. It felt like I had been hit twenty times with a leg-locker jinx as well as a muting jinx and the Cruciatus curse all in one go - or was that the pain of me falling to the ground, barely conscious with all of them folding in on me?
I felt a punch in my stomach and another in my face. I suppose that was retribution for the injuries I had inflicted on two of them.
Manacles had formed on my wrists as I was hauled up and held between five aurors. The chains had five different links leading to each of them.
I still couldn’t see. I was blind.
“Take him,” a robust voice said. “And for goodness sake, get his wand!”
“Yes Sir,” someone else replied.
“Ready?” an Auror beside me said.
The four around him agreed they were ready to take off and then they Disapparated. It was uncomfortable being squeezed between five other people and a large set of chains but what else could I do?
As soon as we landed on solid ground, my knees buckled and I fell to the ground. It hurt like hell, but I daren’t complain. I just winced uncomfortably.
“Get up.” Before I could attempt to move, I was dragged up by my shoulder. The force of it ripped the black shirt I was wearing.
If I could have protested, I would have. They had not lifted the jinxes on my eyes and mouth.
“Walk,” someone commanded as I felt a wand jab me in my back.
What the hell was this? Auror brutality was never usually a part of their jobs. Eyes still closed and water still dripping from them, I stepped forward calmly, but they dragged me. Apparently I was much too slow for them.
Eventually I was stopped and pushed into a room. I was shoved into a hard chair and for a moment, the chains loosened and then they were just as tight.
After a cold shiver, I could see and I could talk. My eyes still hurt and burnt like hell and my throat was extremely dry. I could have shouted and sworn at all of them, but I didn’t. The five Aurors milled out of the room, but not without giving me the dirtiest looks they could muster between them.
Blinking did not stop my eyes from searing with pain; water still fell from them as I looked around. The room was the size of a small shack - only a few feet wide - had plain brownish walls and looked pretty clean considering what I was here for. ‘Here’ was an still unknown concept. Where I was, I had no idea. I must be somewhere within the Ministry of Magic seeing as no one because only they could have found, located and brought me in. I was surprised that they had not thrown me straight into Azkaban without asking me what crime I had supposedly committed, but what was Azkaban like now? Were the Dementors back under the control of the Ministry?
I was here for an interrogation, I expected. The chains around my wrists and ankles were attached to fives secure spots on the walls and in front of me, there were five chairs. The two centre ones were at the front, the two outer ones were further back and one final chair was further back still, almost in the shadows by the door. Looking around, I could see that there was some kind of magical barrier between myself and the five chairs as there was an eerie transparent glow splitting the room in two. I had room to walk and move, but if I got angry, I would not rise to their torment. I was not going to lose my cool for their benefit so that they could charge me with something else.
The door on the other side of the room was reinforced with some kind of metal and probably had a secure locking charm on it. There was a small window in the corner of the room, showing an evening sky. There was no way that I could force my way out of here.
Candles in brackets around the room added to the ambience. Whilst I wasn’t in the mood to commend these people for the lighting, I contemplated my chances of ‘survival’. I knew this interrogation would be tough.
Would I ever make it out of here? Would I ever see my mother again?
I had to admit, I was worried, scared, but if I kept my mouth shut, surely nothing bad would happen to me.
The door opened and I looked up.
An elderly man walked in wearing his Ministry cloak. Although he had grey hair - and not a lot of it - he looked quite strong and perfectly able to hold his own. Beside him, was a brown haired witch who had her cloak tied tightly around her waist, showing off her figure. She was attractive, but the emotionless look on her face lead to me look away from her. Behind her, came in Potter and his shadow, Weasley. They looked very pleased with themselves and I wouldn’t be surprised if they had personally volunteered to be here when I was questioned.
Then my heart literally jumped out of my throat. Hermione crept in at the rear and sat in the chair in the corner. She did not even look at me. She had her arms filled with a quill and parchment. She wasn’t wearing the ministry cloaks like the others were, but she was in smart purple dress robes and her hair was tied back. She did look nice.
I shifted a little to wipe my eyes. I didn’t want Hermione to see me like this, but the water leaked out anyway. My hair hung over my eyes and I slowly pushed it back.
“Miss Granger,” the old wizard said.
“Yes, Sir.” She whispered quietly, raised her wand and then the parchment unfurled. The quill rose and was poised above the parchment.
“The date is the twenty fifth of December 1999 -” The quill sharply scratched on the parchment annoyingly. “ - and the time is exactly seven-thirty pm. We have suspect 00012005061980 in Interrogation Room One. Name, Draco Malfoy, age 19. Interrogators are myself, Gawain Robards and Evelyn Puckle. Witnesses are Mr Harry Potter, Mr Ronald Weasley and Miss Granger, who will be recording the meeting.”
Is that what he called this?
He cleared his throat and sat twiddling his thumbs. It was quiet for about six minutes, so I decided to say, “Are you going to say something?”
Robards looked at me as if I was guilty as charged - for what, I wasn’t sure.
“Mr Malfoy, we have had intelligence that you’ve been out of the country on multiple occasions in the past few weeks.” This came from Puckle.
Was that it?
Robards frowned at her. “We’re not here to talk about illegal Apparition, Evelyn.” I thought as much.
“Well, we weren’t talking about anything at all, Gawain, so I thought I may as well start with something we know he’s done.”
Smirking while Robards puffed angrily, I said, “I agree.”
“Shut up,” she said to me. Weasley chuckled.
Rolling my eyes, I said, “What about it?”
“It’s illegal,” she said. “Why didn’t you get a cross-continental license from the Ministry of Magic?”
“Right,” Robards said, probably wishing that I had splinched myself half to death. “As much as we care about his expeditions to the plains of Australia…”
Granger looked up at me sharply as he continued to be rude to Puckle. This was the first time that she looked into my eyes since she came in the room. I held her gaze and eventually she looked away and her eyes fell to the parchment. She knew why I was in Australia and I did not need to confirm this to her. I hope she felt bad too.
“Mr Malfoy.” I jumped and looked at him. “We have reason to believe that you are and/or were in league with certain dark individuals and therefore participated or are participating in illegal activities.”
“And where did you get that information from?” I asked, yawning.
“You think this isn’t worth your time?” Robards sneered.
“No, I just don’t appreciate fifty Aurors bursting into my home before I got a chance to eat or sleep. In case you hadn’t noticed, I had been in Australia all day and Apparition across continents can drain you.” Robards turned red and Hermione closed her eyes for a moment. “But I’m sure, illegal Apparition doesn’t get you a cell in Azkaban, does it?”
“No, it doesn’t,” Puckle said. “Mr Malfoy, is this -?”
“Call me Draco,” I said with a grin.
Her tired eyes blinked at me. “Mr Malfoy, is this your wand?” She held up the wand I had been using since Potter had robbed my own.
“For all intents and purposes, yes. You have Potter here to thank for me not having the one Ollivander had given me when I was eleven.”
Potter whispered to Robards and Puckle, no doubt giving then a cliffnotes version of how he had claimed ownership of it.
“Whose is it?” she asked.
“How am I supposed to know?” I had picked it off the ground in Hogwarts because I knew I would have to give my mother hers back.
“Theft too …” Robards muttered annoyingly.
Puckle turned and gave Hermione the wand, telling her to take it for examination once they were done for the evening.
I hoped that they would not keep me overnight.
“Let’s get down to it,” Robards said, impatient. “Everybody knows that your family have been in league with Lord Voldemort. Your father is in Azkaban for being a very loyal death eater and word has it that you have followed in his footsteps.”
“I certainly do have his height,” I said nonchalantly. “And I think we are the same shoe size…”
“Malfoy…” he grunted.
“Since when were rumours ever true?” I looked at Hermione. “Well, sometimes they are.” I was careful to let Weasley see who I was looking at. His ears steadily turned pink. He was such a prat.
“Is it true you have the Dark Mark?” Well Puckle certainly got down to business!
There was no point in me lying about this one because they could easily strip me down and find it. It had faded, but it was there nonetheless. “Yes.”
“You see,” Robards said to Puckle. “This is enough for a charge and conviction.”
“Look at him,” she said sharply. “The boy’s nineteen.” I did not appreciate being called a boy and gave her a glare that showed this. “When Voldemort finally got killed he was about seventeen years old. That would mean he would have been a minor when it was administered.” She turned to me. “Did you take it willingly?”
“No,” I said clearly.
“And you’re going to take his word for it?” Robards asked.
“You’ll have to,” Puckle said.
“Mr Malfoy, where is your mother?” Robards continued.
“I don’t know.”
“Why was she not at your home?”
“Beats me. Besides, how did you get in? We have loads of security on the place.”
“I ask the questions here,” Robards grunted. “When was the last time you visited Borgin and Burkes establishment?”
“I don’t believe you.”
“And how is that my problem?”
“Have you participated in or organised any murders?”
“What do you know about the murder of Albus Dumbledore?”
I quickly glanced at Potter and he had the decency to look away. My mother had helped him and here he was handing me in to the authorities. And he knew that I did not want to kill my headmaster.
“Nothing.” My cousin was dead?
“That wasn’t murder, that was stupidity.” I was thinking the same thing and I was shocked that it was Hermione who had finally spoken up.
“Was it now?” Robards said to Hermione.
“Yes, it was,” Potter said.
It seemed that Robards had believed him because he said, “Remove his name from the Murder Victims List, Miss Granger.”
“So you know nothing?” Robards said.
“That’s right. Nothing about murders. But I do know that I’m entitled to a break, some rest and a nice cool beverage. And a few biscuits if you have some.” I leaned back in my chair surprised at the amount of power I had despite the fact that I was the one chained to the walls.
“Do you have anything else to say for yourself, Malfoy?”
I hesitated and then smirked. “Merry Christmas.”
Robards’ eyes gleamed angrily as he said, “Interrogation terminated at eight-twelve pm. Take him to his cell.” He said this to no one in particular as he strode from the room, steam billowing from his ears.
Puckle told Potter and Weasley to go and they left pretty quickly. Hermione dawdled a while. Puckle waved her wand and the barrier disappeared from between us. The chains from the walls fell away, but there was still some on my wrists and ankles.
“Come with me.” She gripped onto my arm and pointed her wand at me.
With Hermione locking up behind us, papers in her hands, we walked down the light corridor. Hermione joined us.
“Where the hell is security?” Puckle said. Someone came around the corner and she - we - fell into step with this man as she barked at him furiously for leaving the corridor empty.
As she spoke, Hermione whispered to me. “They’re planning to use Veritaserum on you tomorrow.”
“How do you know?” I hissed.
“It’s in your file. If you don’t speak on day one, they’ll force it out of you on day two.”
“So I’ll be going to Azkaban?” I whispered distantly.
“No. You haven’t done anything. All you have on you is the Mark and that’s not enough to -”
“How are you?”
She stammered a little. “I-I’m fine. You?”
I looked at her left hand, then her ring finger. It was bare. “Weasley not get you a ring?”
She blushed and whispered, “Not yet.”
“Cheap bastard.” I sneered. I would have gotten her diamonds. God, I wished Weasley had died when he drank the poisoned wine in sixth year.
She bit her bottom lip. I wanted to kiss her so badly. My stomach tingled just at the thought of us together.
“I can’t help you tomorrow,” she whispered.
I was beyond help anyway. If Veritaserum was going to be used, who knew what I might say? “Why would you?” I whispered spitefully.
She said nothing.
“In you go, Mr Malfoy.” The room was enough for the single bed and a half a metre walkway. There was a light in the ceiling and a window. Puckle turned to Hermione. “Could you take the wand for examination now?”
“Sure.” Hermione did not look at me before she left.
I stood as Puckle took off my chains. The door closed, then she opened a gap in it and looked at me through it.
“Where’s my food?” I asked.
“I’ll get someone to bring you something soon.”
I would have sat down on my new bed had it not been for the look on this woman’s face. “What?”
“Do not attempt to communicate with Hermione Granger again.”
“She communicated with me.”
“Don’t piss me about, Malfoy. You know what I mean. You think we all missed what you implied about the two of you? About the gossip in the paper? I bet you wanted us to pick up on that.” I smiled crookedly. “Stay away from her. She won’t help you get out of this. And ruining her relationship with Ron won’t help anything either.”
“Really? It would make me feel a whole lot better.”
She threw me a nasty look, locked the door and left me to consider her threat.
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