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These Dark and Hollow Nights by DracosGirl012
Chapter 2 : Chapter Two: The Right Choice
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 6

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Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, or the quote used in the summary. It is from Harry Potter & The Halfblood Prince (Film) which is owned by Warner Bros. Studios and J.K Rowling, respectively.  



  Chapter Two: The Right Choice 




Draco Malfoy had thought Ronald Weasley to be many things—poor, stupid, and even a blood traitor—but he had never expected him to be a cheater. He was the last person on earth Draco expected to cheat, and especially not on Hermione Granger. He had received that morning’s paper, and felt slightly sick looking at the image of Weasel kissing that Brown girl. Lavender, he thought her name was. He had expected to feel nothing but emptiness, perhaps a little annoyance at seeing the Weasel’s face on the front page again, but instead he felt anger. Pure, cold-blooded rage, and it surprised him. He had no idea why he would have such a reaction.

The worst thing was, sitting at the desk in his room at the Leaky Cauldron, drinking yet another glass of Firewhiskey, Draco still felt the anger coursing through him as he looked at the image yet again. And now he understood why he was so angry. Weasel had cheated. On the Mudblood Draco had been under the impression he was head-over-heels in love with.

‘I drank too much,’ he muttered, setting the glass down. ‘Why do I even care? I ought to be congratulating him.’

But he didn’t feel like congratulating the Weasel. In fact, if he looked at the Weasel’s face again, he might actually be sick.

Draco pulled out his wand, got up from the desk, and walked over to the fireplace. He had been able to afford a nicer room with a fireplace, and he threw the Prophet into the empty, unlit fire.

‘Incendio,’ he said.

He watched the Prophet burn with some satisfaction, and imagined what it would be like to watch the Weasel burn. Very fun, he thought to himself, if it didn’t get me landed in Azkaban again.

He shivered at the thought of Azkaban, and immediately pushed the thought out of his mind. He didn’t like to be reminded of the four months he’d spent in the prison, freezing. He was just lucky that Dementors no longer guarded the place. But it was still miserable, and he was grateful when he was released a month ago. They’d released him, but he still had to show up for his actual trial in a few days. He reached for the letter on the desk, which he’d already read six times. He opened it, and began to read it a seventh time.

Dear Malfoy,

Of course Harry, Ron and I will come to your trial. I’m not too sure about Ron, and if you’ve read the papers, you’ll know why. But Harry and I will be there on the 25th. Sorry about your father.

Best wishes,

Hermione Granger.

He smiled, ever so slightly. He had sent nothing but a quick “OK, see you there”, in reply. She had not replied in return, but he knew he’d see them there. He’d sent the letter regarding his trial to Granger, rather than Potter, because he knew she would reply right away. Plus, he admitted, he wanted to shock her. Draco Malfoy, sending a letter to a Mudblood. It was unheard of, honestly. 

Hoot, hoot.

He looked up to see a Ministry owl sitting on his bed. The owl carried a letter.

Sighing, he took the letter. It had been addressed to Mr Draco L. Malfoy, Room 143, The Leaky Cauldron, London. He scowled a little, and opened the letter.

Dear Mr Malfoy,

We request your presence at the Ministry of Magic on July 25th at 2:00 sharp. The location is Level 2 of the Ministry of Magic. Please note that attending this trial is mandatory and there will be consequences if you fail to attend.

Thank you, and good day.


Yolanda Malkin, Head of the Department of Wizengamot, Auror

Draco threw the letter on his desk, paid the owl, and got up. He began to pace. ‘This is stupid,’ he said to himself. ‘I haven’t done anything wrong.’

He knew, of course, that he was lying. He had done things that were certainly reason enough to be put in Azkaban. He may not have wanted to do them, but he had done them. He’d tortured a child simply because she was a squib. He had stood by while his Aunt tortured Hermione. He had even killed a man because he dared to try and fight the Death Eaters who were torturing his wife and children. There were so many things he had done, and he had nightmares every time he closed his eyes.

He deserved to go to Azkaban. He knew that it was a strong possibility that he would be sent there, even if Potter and Hermione testified. He would accept his punishment, because he deserved it. And when he died, he would die cursing Lucius, who was in Azkaban at the moment. It was the only good thing that had happened since long before the war.

He would happily accept any punishment Wizengamot decided, as long as he knew his father was locked away, rotting in the cells of Azkaban.






Ron was currently passed out in his bedroom. Hermione was sitting in the living room, staring at the Weasley’s clock, her forehead creased and her eyes narrowed.

‘He’s waking up,’ said a voice behind her.

She turned to see Harry standing there, dark circles under his eyes. He ran a hand through his messy hair, yawning. He was exhausted.

‘Alright,’ she said. ‘I think I better go then.’ She didn’t want to leave the Burrow, but she also didn’t want to see Ron.

‘No,’ Harry said. ‘I mean, you don’t have to go. I’ll make sure he doesn’t do anything to you. I can’t believe he did that.’

‘It’s fine, Harry, really. I sort of expected something like this to happen,’ she said, shrugging.

‘You expected him to cheat on you?’ Harry asked, bewildered.

She hesitated, trying to decide the best way to phrase it. ‘Not exactly,’ she said at last. ‘I just sort of expected him to break up with me before we went back to Hogwarts. I can’t believe we’ve been together this long anyway, you know? I guess a part of me was just waiting for something to happen,’ she said, fighting back tears. She didn’t want Harry to worry about her. He worried too much as it was.

‘Alright, Mione,’ Harry started to go back upstairs, but he stopped. ‘You can stay if you want, you know. Molly’s not going to let him near you.’

She sighed. ‘I know. I think it’s just… better, if I go. I need some time to myself,’ she said.

Ginny came into the living room, grimacing. ‘He’s awake,’ she said. ‘He’s got a nasty bruise on his head, but he’s awake.’

Hermione almost Apparated on the spot, but Harry grabbed her arm. ‘Stay. He won’t bother you, not if he values his pathetic life,’ he said.

Hermione sighed again. ‘I’ll come back later. I promise,’ she said. ‘But I need some time to myself. To think.’

He looked like he was about to protest, but a look from Ginny shut him up. He nodded, and hugged her, telling her to owl him if she needed him. She apparated, and half a moment later, she was standing in front of her parent’s house. Of course they didn’t live there anymore, but it still belonged to them. Though technically, it belonged to her. She went inside.

This house was full of memories. After she’d returned from Australia, Ron had come here with her. They’d spent the night in her old room. She hadn’t had nightmares that night.

She went upstairs to her parents’ bedroom, and sat on the bed, holding her mothers pillow. It didn’t smell like her anymore. The tears started slipping down her cheeks before she could stop them. It wasn’t fair, she thought. Why couldn’t Ron just love her the way she wanted him to, wholeheartedly? Why did he have to be so selfish?

But Hermione didn’t know the answer. She didn’t know why he didn’t love her like she wanted. She certainly couldn’t make him. In fact, Hermione had never been able to make him do anything, not once in their eight years of friendship. It was just that… well, she wanted him. There. She’d admitted it. She wanted him more than she thought she would. Was it so much to ask for him to do the same?

Someone coughed, and Hermione looked up, startled, to see George standing in the doorway of her parents’ bedroom.

‘How did you find me?’ She asked, both surprised and curious. Only Ron and Harry knew where she lived.

‘Harry told me. So I apparated here,’ he said sheepishly. ‘I didn’t mean to… um, stupefy Ron.’

‘He deserved it,’ she said. ‘You didn’t do anything wrong, really. Anyway, if you hadn’t knocked him out I probably would’ve used an Unforgivable on him.’

‘Well, he definitely would’ve deserved that,’ he said.

They both started laughing then. It was nice to hear him laugh again. George hadn’t laughed much since Fred died. Nobody had done much laughing since Fred died. And Ron had been right about that, that Fred wouldn’t have wanted them to be miserable. He would’ve wanted them to be happy.

That was when Hermione decided that she wasn’t going to be upset about Ron cheating on her, that she wasn’t going to beat herself up and wonder what she’d done wrong. Too many people had lost their lives fighting for the Trio in the Battle, and it suddenly seemed childish to be upset that Ron had cheated. Ron had always been selfish. She wasn’t going to sit and cry about his cheating, because there had been too many losses to be upset about something that seemed so stupid and childish to her. Maybe it wasn’t a stupid thing, and it definitely hurt, but she wasn’t going to cry about it. She had wasted too much time crying over Ron Weasley.

George had stopped laughing, and was now looking at her curiously. ‘What are you thinking so hard about? I can almost hear the wheels turning,’ he said.

‘Ron, actually,’ she said. ‘I’ve decided that I’m not going to waste my energy being mad at him.’

‘What!’ George exclaimed. ‘That’s absurd. How can you not be mad at him, after what he did to you?’

‘George,’ Hermione sighed. ‘I didn’t mean I’m not mad at him at all. Of course I’m mad, and hurt. I just decided that… well, I’m not going to hold a grudge.’

He shook his head at her. ‘You’re crazy, Mione. But I guess if you’re forgiving him, then I will too.’

She smiled. ‘Good. You should probably go home now, though.’

‘Are you sure? I could stay,’ he said. ‘I don’t think you should be alone.’

In truth, she wasn’t sure she wanted to be alone either, but at the same time she wasn’t in the mood for company. All she wanted to do was curl up in bed and read and try and forget what had happened. ‘I’ll be fine,’ she said. ‘Really.’

He still hesitated, but then he left, after giving her a quick hug. When he was gone, she changed into her pajamas—despite the fact it was only a little after noon—and curled up in bed with a book and a bowl of potato chips. As much as it hurt her that Ron had cheated on her, she couldn’t bring herself to feel the rage she wanted to feel, to curse his name and cry and scream and wish he’d never been born. Sometimes, you couldn’t hold a grudge against someone you loved, and you couldn’t really hate them either, even if they currently had their wand stuck up their arse.




Draco paced back and forth in front of the courtroom, hands stuffed in his pockets. His hair was combed, and he was wearing a suit and tie, which felt like it was strangling him. His palms were sweating and he had never been more nervous, and it felt like he had something large stuck in his throat.

‘Argh,’ he muttered. ‘This is agonizing.’

He had come far too early for his own good. There was still an hour left before the trial started. And he was completely sober. He’d wanted to be sober so he’d have a clear mind going in, but now he was beginning to regret it. He’d give anything for his nerves to disappear right now. He wasn’t used to being this nervous.

‘Better get used to it; you’ll be spending the rest of your day here. Hope you didn’t make plans.’

Draco looked up at the voice, and felt a small, relieved smile appearing on his lips. He quickly changed that smile to a smirk. Pothead and the Mudblood stood before him, both wearing suits, no redheaded Weasel in sight. Granger had managed to tame her hair, and it was pulled into a bun. The outfit was extremely unflattering, and did nothing for her, but she looked professional. All she needed was a briefcase and she’d look perfectly at home in the courtroom.

‘Granger, Potter,’ he said, tying to seem civil.

Granger nodded curtly. ‘Malfoy,’ she said politely. ‘How are you?’

‘Oh, I’m fantastic. Having the time of my life here, you know,’ he said. ‘Isn’t the décor just lovely? We’ve just renovated. You know, to make it look more gloomy.’

Potter snickered, and quickly covered it with a cough. ‘Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, Malfoy,’ she said.

He rolled his eyes. ‘So, where’s Weasel? I assume he’s in the bathroom. What, do you not have working showers at the Below?’ He asked, though he wasn’t exactly in the mood for the insult

‘It’s the Burrow,’ Granger corrected. ‘And the showers are perfectly fine.’

She avoided his question, and looked away, suddenly interested in the wall. ‘Malfoy,’ Potter said warningly. ‘If you know what’s good for you, you better shut that big mouth of yours before it gets you into trouble. And it’s not any of your business, but Ron couldn’t make it.’

‘Oh, I see,’ Draco said, smirking. ‘Has the Golden Trio turned into the Bronze Duo now?’

Granger was on him before he could even blink, her wand at his throat. ‘Shut up,’ she hissed. ‘Remember who you’re talking to, Malfoy. Don’t say things like that in public, unless you want to spend the rest of your life in Azkaban like your father.’

Draco paled, remembering that the press was waiting for something big to happen again. They were still gossiping away about the Weasel’s cheating, but it appeared that the Prophet no longer had anything good to publish unless it was about the Trio.

‘Look at that. Malfoy’s speechless,’ Potter said, laughing.

Granger pocketed her wand, smirking. ‘I guess I have that effect on men,’ she said, laughing as well.

Draco straightened, barely managing to keep a straight face. ‘You wish, Granger,’ he muttered.

Before she had time to reply, a woman in a suit came down the hallway. ‘Ah, Mr. Potter, Ms. Granger. Mr. Malfoy. Good, you’re all here. Wonderful. The trial will begin shortly,’ she said.

Potter and Granger nodded, smiling politely, and Draco pursed his lips. The woman shot him a dark look, and walked into the courtroom. ‘That was Yolanda Malkin. She’ll be interrogating you.’

He gulped. ‘You’ll be alright,’ Granger said, so quietly that only he could hear. ‘It’s going to be OK. I put a spell on them so they have to let you off.’

He looked at her so fast that he almost gave himself whiplash. She shook her head, mouthing ‘Harry’. He assumed that Potter didn’t know about her spell, and that he should keep quiet. Draco, not wanting Potter to take the spell off and doom him to Azkaban, nodded once. He was surprised that Granger was actually willing to do something illegal for him, but he was grateful. Anything to escape Azkaban. And if they caught on somehow, then he would say that he’d forced her into it. It would be easy enough—they already believed he was capable of doing so.

Professor McGonagall, to his surprise, arrived a few seconds later, wearing the emerald green cloak she was so fond of.

‘Professor McGonagall!’ Granger said happily. ‘How are you? We haven’t seen you since…’

‘I know, dear. I know,’ McGonagall said. ‘I’m doing well, thank you. Keeping busy, what with the repairs and all. Though I suppose it’s Headmistress McGonagall now, not Professor.’

Granger let out a small gasp of delight. ‘You were made Headmistress?’ She asked excitedly. ‘When?’

Draco rolled his eyes at her enthusiasm, but he was secretly pleased. He thought McGonagall should’ve gotten it all along, really.

‘Shortly after the Battle,’ she said. ‘I trust you have been well, Ms Granger? I was sorry to hear about the… erm, break up.’

Granger, for once in her life, fidgeted. ‘I’m well, thank you, Headmistress,’ she said. He could tell that was a lie, though. Underneath the makeup and the smiles and laughter he knew that she was probably far from fine.

‘Are you sure, dear? It is a tough thing to deal with after losing so many,’ McGonagall said.

‘I’m sure,’ Granger said. ‘Really. I’m fine.’

Draco wanted to tell her that she was a horrible liar, but it wouldn’t be true. She seemed to be fooling everyone except him. And frankly, he was glad that she had broken up with Weasel. She deserved better than him, even if she was a Mud—muggleborn.

Wait, what? He gave himself a mental shake. Since when do you care what she deserves or not? This is Granger we’re talking about, for crying out loud!

‘Malfoy?’ Potter was studying him curiously. ‘You okay?’

He blinked. ‘What? Yeah, I’m fine,’ he said.

Potter definitely didn’t believe him, but he nodded anyway and turned to Granger. ‘Trial’s about to start. We should take our seats, Mione.’

Draco almost laughed. Mione? What a stupid nickname, he thought. He would’ve called her something else. Mia or something like that. Wait. I’d what? He shook the thought away. He was just nervous. That’s why he was thinking like that. He was nervous and a bit freaked out.

‘See you in a few, Malfoy,’ Potter said, giving him what he thought was supposed to be an encouraging smile, but wasn’t.

Potter and Granger went into the courtroom, but McGonagall lingered. ‘Are you alright, Mr. Malfoy? You look paler than usual,’ she said.

‘I’m fine,’ he said. ‘Just… nervous.’ He couldn’t believe he’d just admitted that. He felt like kicking himself.

‘I understand. There’s nothing to worry about, you know. You’ll be alright. I know of Ms. Granger’s spell, and her spells never fail.’

He was surprised, at first, that McGonagall knew, but then he decided that it was possible Granger had gone to her for help. ‘Thanks,’ he said, surprising himself by meaning it. ‘I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me.’

McGonagall nodded, squeezed his shoulder, and went into the courtroom. He was alone then, and he had never been quite so alone in his life. But it wasn’t long before someone came to get him, and he was escorted into the courtroom. Draco sat on a chair in the center of the room facing the Wizengamot, and his stomach turned over as he saw the panel of judges. He didn’t doubt Granger’s spell, but he had no idea what to expect.

‘Trial on the twenty-fifth of August, into offences committed under the Misuse of Magic by Draco Lucius Malfoy, resident at Number 143, the Leaky Cauldron, London. Interrogators: Kingsley Alan Shacklebolt, Minster for Magic, Yolanda Elizabeth Malkin, and Teresa Leanne Brown.

‘Witness for the defence, Harry James Potter.’

Draco looked over at Potter just as he stood, and Granger followed suit. ‘Witness for the defence, Hermione Jean Granger.’

McGonagall also stood, much to his surprise. ‘Witness for the defence, Minerva Catherine McGonagall.’

‘Witness for the defence, Narcissa Cordelia Malfoy.’

He hadn’t noticed his mother, but as she stood, he felt a surge of relief. There were a lot of witnesses—more than he had expected. Maybe Granger’s spell wasn’t necessary.

‘Very well, then,’ Kingsley said. ‘Let us begin. Mr. Potter, you may go first.’

The others had all taken their seats, and Potter was the only one standing. ‘I was there the night Albus Dumbledore died,’ he said. He looked calm, his face expressionless. ‘I had seen Draco attempt to murder Professor Dumbledore twice before. Once when he gave cursed necklace and used the Imperius Curse on Katie Bell to get her to deliver it to Dumbledore. The second time when he used poison in a bottle of wine and gave it to Professor Slughorn, who was in turn going to give it to Professor Dumbledore as a Christmas gift. My friend Ron drank that wine and would have died if I had not used a bezoar to stop the poison. Draco has made mistakes, but he didn’t kill Dumbledore. Dumbledore himself had ordered Severus Snape to kill him. I do not believe that Draco willingly became a Death Eater. I believe that he was forced into it. Voldemort was very good at getting people to follow him and do what he wanted without using the Cruciatus Curse. At Malfoy Manor, he lied about who I was, even though he knew, and he also knew the consequences of what would happen if they found out he lied. Draco has made some mistakes, but he doesn’t deserve to go to Azkaban. I believe that he was only trying to save his family.’

Kingsley nodded, and Potter sat. Granger went next. ‘No one knows this, but I heard Draco place a numbing charm on me as his Aunt Bellatrix tortured me. Although I still felt the pain of her torture, and still bear the scars from it, he tried to save me in the only way he knew how. I believe that he did save my life. The numbing charm might not have taken the pain away entirely, but I feel that the Cruciatus wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and I don’t think I would’ve survived the full effects of the Cruciatus Curse. Draco saved my life.’

‘Is that true, Mr. Malfoy?’ Kingsley asked.

Draco swallowed. ‘Yes, Minister,’ he said. ‘It is entirely true.’

Kingsley nodded. Granger sat down, and it was McGonagall’s turn. He held his breath, waiting to hear what McGonagall had to say. ‘I have taught Mr. Malfoy since he was eleven years old,’ she said. ‘I care very much about my students’ wellbeing. During Mr. Malfoy’s sixth year, I noticed that he looked very unhealthy. He was pale and sickly, and he was not doing well in his studies. Until then, Mr. Malfoy had been an excellent student. He was distancing himself from others. I saw, during class one day, the Dark Mark on his arm, and I knew that things had gone from bad to worse. If you saw how terrified he looked, you would know that he didn’t want to do whatever it was he was being asked. I believe that Lord Voldemort told him that he would kill him and his family if he did not complete the task he had given him. Whatever the boy has done, he doesn’t deserve to go to Azkaban for it.’

McGonagall sat. It took several minutes before his mother finally stood. ‘My son… my son has suffered,’ Narcissa said. ‘It is my fault. If I had taken him away from his father long ago, perhaps none of this would’ve happened. It was not The Dark Lord that forced him into becoming a Death Eater, but his father, who told him that he would kill me if he didn’t. The Dark Lord was pleased, and when he granted Draco the task of killing Albus Dumbledore, he did not want to accept. But his father was very good at non-verbal spells, and he was very good at performing the Imperius Curse. So he forced Draco into accepting the task, and told him that he would kill us both if he didn’t do it. I should’ve gone to the Order for help, but I was too afraid, too ashamed of what I had done. Draco has suffered so much because of me. If anyone goes to Azkaban, it should be me, because all of this is my fault.’

Draco wanted to protest. He wanted to yell at his mother that none of this was her fault, and that he wasn’t about to let her go to Azkaban. But he didn’t say a word. She sat down, and he could tell that she was struggling not to cry.

‘Mr. Malfoy, if you have anything to say to defend your actions, now would be the time,’ Kingsley said.

Draco swallowed hard. ‘My mother has always done her best to protect me, but there were some thing’s she could not protect me from. I was forced to learn to defend myself against the Imperius Curse. I was forced to perform the Cruciatus Curse, and learn spells that would make you all hide under your beds. My father would have me in a room, and my mother would be there. If I didn’t perform them to his satisfaction, he would hurt her. I couldn’t stand watching my mother be tortured, so I did it,’ he said. ‘I was thirteen years old when I first preformed the Killing Curse. It was a dove, the form of my mother’s Patronus, which I was forced to kill. Perhaps you don’t need to know this. Perhaps you see it as an attempt to gain sympathy. My childhood was cruel. It is not an excuse, no, but that is the truth. My father told me that if I did not become a Death Eater, if I did not do what the Dark Lord wanted me too, my mother would be killed. He even said that I would be the one to do it if I didn’t cooperate. I attempted to kill to kill Professor Dumbledore by using the Imperius Curse on Katie Bell so she would deliver a cursed necklace to him, as Potter said. The second time I attempted to kill Professor Dumbledore I used a bottle of wine laced with poison. It is true that I was not the one to kill him in the end. It was Severus Snape who did that. But I attempted to, and in doing so I poisoned and cursed two of my classmates. It was not my intention to poison Ron Weasley, but I knowingly handed Katie Bell that cursed necklace. I knowingly placed the Imperius Curse on her. Of this, I declare myself guilty.

‘At Malfoy Manor, I knew exactly who Potter was, and I still lied about it, even though I knew that if someone found out my mother and I would be punished. I did so because Potter was my only way out. I’d heard whispers that I wasn’t supposed to hear, that Potter was the only one who might be able to destroy Voldemort. I lied because that was my last hope. I did murmur a numbing charm on Hermione, because if I hadn’t she would’ve likely ended up just like the Longbottoms, and I knew that if there was to be any chance of Potter destroying Voldemort, Hermione had to survive. I did what I did only out of fear. I won’t pretend to proclaim my innocence. I am not innocent. I cannot return the lives of those who have been lost because of Death Eaters like me. I would gladly give back the lives my family took. I’m willing to pay whatever price must be paid for my actions.’

All was quiet for a moment. ‘You think you can fool us, boy? You think you can talk your way out of this like your father did?’ Yolanda Malkin asked him. ‘You are lying fool, if you think we will let you get away with this. You claim you know about the Longbottoms, how your Aunt tortured them to the point where they went insane. Did you know your father tortured and killed my sister? That she screamed for mercy, but he just laughed? That your Uncle, Rodolphus Lestrange, killed not one but three whole muggle families for simply no reason at all?’

He gulped. ‘I didn’t know about your sister,’ he said slowly, ‘or about those muggle families. I already said that I would give back the lives my family took. But I can’t. I am sorry about your sister.’

‘I do not want your apologies, boy,’ Yolanda Malkin said, glaring at him as if she held him responsible. Maybe she did hold him responsible. It was his father that tortured and killed her sister. She probably hated him.

The court fell quiet again, for a minute. ‘Those who declare Mr. Malfoy guilty of all crimes, please raise your hands,’ Kingsley said at last.

Draco tried to count the hands as they shot up. Seven people, including Malkin.Seven, with plenty others still. Kingsley gave a nod, and they put their hands down. ‘Those who declare Mr. Malfoy innocent of all crimes, please raise your hands,’ he said again.

The rest of the room, including Kingsley, raised their hands. Draco nearly sobbed in relief.

‘The court declares Mr. Malfoy innocent on this day, July 25th, until further incident shall occur,’ Kingsley said.

Draco couldn’t breathe. Never in a million years had he expected to get off. He’d been expecting punishment—he’d been prepared for Azkaban. But this? This was… nothing could’ve prepared him for this.

And for a moment, he felt guilty. What had truly made them decide he was innocent? Had it been because they, somehow, truly believed he was innocent? Or was it because of Granger’s spell?

If it was because of a spell… well, Draco didn’t think he could live with that. He didn’t truly deserve his freedom, if that was the case. He also didn’t like that he owed Granger something now. He didn’t like owing people, and he already hated owing the Trio for saving his life. If her spell had been the reason he was free now, then she had saved his life twice. And Draco didn’t think he deserved it.

Malkin approached him as the court emptied. ‘Mr. Malfoy,’ she said. Her eyes were cold, reflecting her hatred for him. ‘I hope you know that I am watching you. You may have had luck on your side this time, but next time you should not hope to be so lucky.’

That was clearly meant to be a threat. Draco knew better than to reply, so he just nodded. Her eyes narrowed, as if she’d been hoping he would say something back, but she walked away.

His judgment day may have passed, but Malkin’s words were clear: The Ministry was going to be keeping a close eye on him from now on. Still, he was too relieved to worry about that now.

Once, I knew a boy who made all the wrong choices, Dumbledore had told him. Draco had been that boy, once.

And what are you now? A tiny voice whispered in the back of his mind.

I am Draco Malfoy, he thought back. And I will make all the right choices. 

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