“I’m going in,” Harry said as he and Ron were outside the gates of the Malfoy Manor. They’d been staking out the home for nearly two days as it was the only idea Ron had to keep Harry from doing anything else stupid.
He’d been sarcastic when he suggested the idea to Hermione, but it was the only one he’d had that Harry would even consider. And while staking out Malfoy Manor wasn’t ideal, it was certainly preferable to breaking into the Ministry.
Both men were looking rather ragged as they hadn’t been home since they’d begun staking out the Manor. Harry was afraid if they left he’d miss something important and Ron thought Harry might go to the Ministry if left alone.
Hermione had been right about the press coverage on his resignation. The story hadn’t hit the papers yet, but the Ministry had already begun painting him as out of his mind with grief. It was only a matter of time before his resignation was announced.
“You’re not going in,” Ron said, no longer paying attention. It was a conversation they’d had before.
“It’s been two days. If Malfoy knows something we need to act now,” Harry protested. He was slowly losing his resolve on the idea that Malfoy had something to do with his daughter’s disappearance. The only reason he’d stuck with the theory this long was because it was the only one he had.
“You said it yourself. If he knows something. We can’t just go breaking into houses unless we know he was involved. Know for sure.” Ron shook his head. He didn’t really think Harry was serious about breaking in.
“Hmm?” Ron asked, already beginning to doze off again.
“It’s been thirteen days. She’s been gone for thirteen days. You know what happens after two weeks?” Ron nodded. He was still an Auror, even if his job now consisted mostly of consultant work and he’d taken a leave of absence.
After two weeks if there were no leads, no evidence of foul play, the Aurors would begin to back off the case. They still left it open, they still searched for leads, but it was the unofficial death of an investigation.
“This is different,” he said, knowing that it wasn’t different at all. “It’s high profile. Those have a longer life span. Can we please give up on Malfoy?”
Harry glared at him. “I’m not giving up on the only lead we have. He’s out, his wife’s out, I know I can disarm any spells they have protecting the place. We’ll be in and out in just a few minutes.”
“We learned how to disarm security spells to help the Ministry, not work against them,” Ron complained as he followed his friend through the gate and onto the Malfoy property.
It was an expansive acreage of land, perfectly gardened and looking much friendlier than it had before Astoria Malfoy had come to live there. She had brought life to the place in the many flowers she planted.
None of this dissuaded Harry on his course. He continued straight to the front door and pulled out his wand, placing it beside the large oak knocker.
With a sigh, Ron added his wand on the other side and waited for the door to be lit from the spells. When nothing happened, he dropped his wand. “It doesn’t work. He must have something else in place,” Ron said as he turned to leave. “Let’s get out of here before something tries to eat us.”
“It is working, Malfoy just hasn’t any protective spells. Let’s go.” Harry pushed open the door and entered the Manor. Ron glanced around, waiting for something to come out of the walls, but when nothing happened he followed his friend.
“I really don’t like this,” he whispered, feeling as though they should be quiet even though they were alone. Every creak of the house made him jump and turn. He’d liked searching it much better when they did it legally with the Ministry backing them up. “The Aurors already went through all his rooms. What do you expect to find that they didn’t?”
“I’m not sure, but we know he’s hiding something,” Harry said in his normal tone. “And stop whispering. There’s nothing around that can hear us.” He found Malfoy’s study on the first floor rather quickly and opened the desk drawers.
Ron stood nervously by the door, checking to see if anyone was around. “Care to hurry up?” He asked as he shifted from foot to foot.
“Come here,” Harry ordered, eyeing on sheet of parchment carefully. When Ron did, he showed him the figures. “What does this tell you?”
“That he spends too much money on his robes?” Ron asked with a shrug. “I dunno.”
“Look at these account balances,” Harry said and he pointed out the important ones. Ron’s eyes widened with understanding.
“How can he afford to live the way he does?” Ron asked in surprise. “I’ve seen the way he dresses and behaves. I had no idea his Gringotts account was running so dry. Wasn’t his father richer than anything?”
“He had to pay the Ministry after the war,” Harry said, but he was already thinking about what it meant. It gave Malfoy motive, even more than just revenge. If someone paid him to take Lily- Harry grabbed another stack of parchment and handed half of it to Ron. “Look through these tell me if there’s anything strange.”
“You mean besides an entire outfit of dragon hide clothing?” Ron asked. Harry ignored him and continued to look through the accounts for any transactions of large sums of money.
He and Ron finished without any signs of blood money, though. If he had been hired to kidnap Lily he certainly hadn’t left any evidence. “Maybe he did it for ransom,” Harry suggested when he put the parchment back in the drawer.
“But there never was a ransom,” Ron said as he too put the parchment back in the drawer. “Malfoy may be low on funds, but I don’t think he did this.”
Harry shook his head and continued through the house. Ron had flashbacks in nearly every room from when they’d been taken prisoner as teenagers. He could see Bellatrix Lestrange pointing her wand in rage at them and the teenaged Draco Malfoy cowering by his father’s side.
“Down here,” Harry said, jolting him out of his memories. Ron followed Harry down the steps to the dungeon where they’d been kept hostage.
“She’s not going to be here,” Ron said, rolling his eyes. Even if Malfoy was behind her disappearance he wasn’t going to be stupid enough to hold her in the same cell in which he’d held her father.
The stones steps echoed ominously and Ron shivered. The memories came back in full force, seeing Luna and Ollivander for the first time, Wormtail, Dobby. He shuddered visibly and hurried to catch up with Harry who was in a cell near the corner.
“Isn’t it creepy being down here again?” Ron asked, trying to keep his voice steady. He didn’t want Harry to know how scared he was, how he felt like a helpless teenager waiting for death again.
Harry shrugged. “I guess so.” It was clear he didn’t feel the same fear that Ron was.
A sudden scream pierced the air and Ron jumped. “Did you hear that?” It sounded as though someone was being tortured. It sounded like Hermione.
Harry shook his head. “Quit imagining things. We’re the only ones here.” He sounded impatient so Ron crossed his arms.
He hadn’t come down to the basement when he’d helped search the house the first time, although he hadn’t told Harry that. He’d hardly gotten as far as the parlor before just hanging back to let the Aurors and hit wizards do the work.
Being in the dungeon again, seeing where he’d been held hostage, it made him want to hurl. The nausea built in his stomach until he had to turn away and close his eyes. He was hearing Hermione’s scream again from when she was tortured by Bellatrix and Ron gagged.
“I’ve got to leave. Now,” he said, covering his mouth with his hand.
Harry shot him a disgusted look and stood up from his crouched position. “There’s nothing here anyways. Let’s check the upstairs bedrooms.”
Ron nodded gratefully. He’d never been in the upstairs of the Manor before so he hoped that would be safe from flashbacks. He at least hoped he would stop hearing Hermione’s scream of pain echoing in his mind.
He followed Harry through the rest of the Malfoy Manor and found nothing of interest, although Harry had gone through nearly every drawer and tabletop in every room. If there was something to be found he would have found it, but there was nothing.
Ron was doing everything he could to keep down the minimal amounts of food he’d eaten in the last day. His stomach was trying to rebel. Harry seemed utterly calm which made Ron very uneasy. The anger of the previous two weeks was much easier to deal with than this calm and collected man, because he knew inside Harry was panicking.
Every lead they had was falling apart. Nothing tied Malfoy to the crime, nothing tied it to even being a crime. Lily could’ve fallen on her head and had amnesia for all they knew, although the Aurors had checked all the hospitals, muggle and wizard, for anyone matching her description.
“Damn it!” Harry shouted when they finished with the last empty room. He pushed a desk on its side, spilling all the quills, ink, and parchment to the floor with a loud crash. “Damn it,” he said again, although quieter this time.
Ron took a step back and pulled out his wand. He hoped no one was around outside or they would have heard it for sure. “It’s okay,” he said as he began to charm the desk back to its original state. “We’ll find her.”
“How?” Harry asked. “The Aurors are days from completely giving up, all our leads are rubbish, there’s nothing we can use except process of elimination.” He rubbed and hand over his face, smoothing out the wrinkles then letting them fall back.
“Let’s go home,” Ron said. “See our wives, get cleaned up, take a nap maybe. We’ll both work better when we’re rested.”
Harry nodded as though that idea was just occurring to him and Ron hadn’t been saying the same thing for last two weeks. “Yeah. That might be good. Clear our minds and we’ll work even faster.”
“Something like that, mate,” Ron said, thanking Merlin that he would get a chance to eat some real food and sleep in a real bed. He wasn’t sure when the last time Harry had slept was and hoped that after a nap he would fall out of his manic phase. Maybe even act rationally. “Let’s leave this hell hole.”
Ron clapped his friend on the shoulder and they turned to leave. They were exiting the grounds when a voice stopped them. “The hell were you two doing on my property?” Malfoy shouted, his wand point at Harry.
“Relax, ferret,” Ron said, rolling his eyes. “We didn’t disturb anything.”
“You were in my home? That’s illegal in several very different ways.” He hadn’t lowered his wand yet, but he shifted it from Harry to Ron and back again. “How would the Minister like to hear that his little pet advisor broke into my house? I could have you thrown in Azkaban for that, Potter.”
Harry shook his head and turned away. He’d given up on Malfoy as a suspect. The man wasn’t bright enough to keep the evidence out of his house so well. “We’re done with you, Malfoy,” Ron said.
Malfoy lowered his wand slightly, then tucked it into his pocket. “Oh. Well in that case I sincerely hope you catch the bastard who did this.” When Ron gave him a funny look Malfoy shrugged. “I have a child too.”
The two men apparated away and Malfoy entered his house, locking the gate behind him with several complex spells. He’d been instantly notified when they entered his house as he had only the best spells protecting it, but he’d decided to let them search.
It was best that they know for sure he had nothing to do with Lily Potter’s kidnapping or disappearance, whatever the papers were calling it these days. He knew in the future they wouldn’t both him anymore, they’d focus on the real suspects.
A/N: Yikes I'm late with this chapter! Sorry guys, was sick last week and totally distracted. I'll still be posting the next one on Monday so at least you'll have a shorter wait to make up for the super long one! Really sorry about the delay, though.