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Friday, 5 March, 2004
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Draco pressed his forehead into his desk. He'd called Harry's office so many times that morning he was starting to feel like a stalker. He hadn't been able to sleep the night before and his head was pounding. His eyes had been so irritated that morning that he couldn't even manage the vision charm; he'd had to wear glasses today.
He hadn't made any progress on his work, of course. Manny had been in and out all morning, and when he was there Draco tried to look busy. He refreshed his inbox every few minutes, hoping Harry would reply. He had even dashed to the toilet and back as quickly as he could, afraid of missing Harry's call. And he replayed the scene from the night before in his mind, over and over again.
“Hungry?” Manny asked, startling Draco from his thoughts.
“No, not really.” Draco refreshed his inbox once more. Nothing new appeared.
“You look like shit today.”
“Thanks ever so.”
“No, I mean it. Are you all right?”
Draco only shrugged in response.
Manny stood. “I'm going to get something to eat. Come on.”
Draco groaned. “I really don't–”
“Oh, stop being so noble. Something's wrong and you need a break. I'll even buy you lunch.” Manny crossed his arms over his chest and gave Draco a mock-stern look.
Draco sighed and glanced at the computer screen again. Harry hadn't called or emailed yet, and as much as Draco wanted to sit there and wait to hear from him, it was rather pathetic.
They made their way down the street to a small Indian place Manny was fond of. Draco kept waiting for Manny to ask him what was wrong, but he didn't. He just walked quietly at Draco's side, chatted inanely with him after they ordered, and said very little while he scarfed down his lamb curry. Draco mostly pushed his shrimp vindaloo around on the plate, staring at the patterns on the tablecloth.
The silence became increasingly uncomfortable, and Draco finally couldn't bear it. “So… how are things going with Hermione?”
Manny paused mid-chew and looked up. “Pretty good.” There was a pause while he swallowed. “I mean, it's been a little quick for my comfort, but god – she's so amazing. And her kids are sweet, and we fit so well together.” He grinned, and it was a moment before Draco realized it was meant to be a pun. He gave Manny a weak smile, and Manny shrugged and continued: “Anyway, she's a wonderful woman. Beautiful, smart, funny – I'm starting to think this could be for real.”
“How do you know?”
“I don't know. But we're already so comfortable together. She makes me laugh. She makes me weak in the knees. When I think about where I'll be in a few months or a year, I think about her being there too, with Cally and Harley.”
Draco managed to smile. “Your mum is going to love her.”
“I just told my parents about her a few days ago, actually.” Manny paused to take another bite of his curry. “They were starting to ask questions. I think they knew something was up.”
“What did they say?”
“They were a little concerned that she has kids. Mama gave me the whole speech about how children can be the ones most easily hurt in these situations. I told her it was serious, though, and that I wouldn't have started this if I didn't think it was going somewhere.”
Draco paused for a moment before continuing. “If Hermione asked you to move in, what would you say?”
“What?” Manny nearly choked on his water. “Wait, do you know something I don't?”
“No,” Draco replied, laughing for what felt like the first time that day. “I'm just wondering… if you know now that this relationship is good and you want it to be a long term thing, how do you know when to take the next step?”
“Well not now. It's only been three weeks, for chrissakes. We've spent a lot of time together, and we both know we want a serious relationship, but we aren't thinking about living arrangements yet.” He stared at Draco for a long moment. “Oh, I see. Something happened between you and Harry, didn't it?”
Draco slumped down in his seat. “He asked me to move in.”
“Whoa. And what did you say?”
“I said ‘no'. He wasn't terribly pleased.”
“Did you say no because you don't want that, or…?”
“You know I want this, more than anything.” Draco sighed and focused on his barely-eaten food. “But it's too fast, isn't it? It's only been three weeks – even though it feels more like three years sometimes.”
They were silent for a moment. Manny twisted his water glass in his hands, making patterns in the condensation on the table. Draco watched, wondering if that was the end of the conversation.
“When I asked Victoria to marry me,” Manny began, “I had no idea what I was doing. I was in love with her, and the sex was great, and we were so excited to run off to DC and change the world.” He paused, smiling at Draco. “So we got married after only a few months of dating. At first it was good, but it didn't take long for us to figure out it had been a mistake. We didn't know each other very well, and neither of us was really grown up enough for that relationship. So it failed miserably.”
Draco nodded, listening. He had only heard bits and pieces of this story before.
“But the worst thing was that we both just gave up, you know? Neither of us wanted it enough to work for it. It was easier to walk away than to try to fix it.”
“Do you regret it?”
Manny shook his head. “Not really. It was hard, but I learned a lot. I really did love her. And there's nothing like the intimacy that comes with marriage. You don't think it will change, but it's different once you're married.” Manny's eyes darted up to Draco's again. “I'm sorry – this is a bit of a sore point for you, isn't it?”
“Things are changing,” Draco said with a shrug. “But I never thought it was something I'd have. For my entire life, I thought marriage was for straight people – normal people. The best I thought I'd ever do was to have a few good friends I could fuck around with.”
Manny pushed his plate away. “I can't imagine. From the time I was small, I always knew I'd get married and have a family one day. I have no idea how differently I'd look at life if that weren't an option.”
“Yes, well.” Draco pursed his lips. “The problem is that Harry wants to run headlong into this relationship, despite the fact that this strategy hasn't worked for him before. He's still coming to terms with the whole gay thing at the same time that he's getting settled in with me. I have no idea what he's thinking, or how he'll behave in public. And of course, this is all new to me, and I'm… terrified, really.” Draco flinched: He'd just told Manny far more than he'd intended, more than he had even been able to tell Harry. What was wrong with him?
“I've seen the way he looks at you, you know. He cares about you. He'll wait until you're ready.”
Draco looked away. “After last night, I'm not so sure.”
:: :: :: :: ::
Draco's inbox was empty when he got back to the office, and Harry still wasn't answering his phone. He stared at the screen for a long moment, then got up and headed to the apparition room.
Once at the Investigative Services complex, he headed straight for Harry's office. The door was open, but no one was inside. The computer monitor was on, and several papers were strewn across the desk next to a quill still standing in the inkpot – so Harry couldn't have been gone long.
Draco stepped inside to wait.
Ten minutes later, he was still waiting, and growing more and more frustrated by the minute. The twinge in his forehead from the smothering spell wasn't helping matters. Draco pressed his fingertips into his temples, hoping to ward it off. He was far too distracted to block the smothering spell today.
He looked up again to see that Harry's computer had finally gone into standby. He couldn't help but wonder… Draco glanced back toward the door and then crossed the room, circling behind Harry's desk. He jiggled the mouse and the screen flared to life. Harry's inbox was open on the desktop. The emails from Draco were marked “read”.
Draco's heart sank. Harry was avoiding him – it was the only explanation.
He jumped a foot back and looked up. Hermione was standing in the doorway, staring at him.
“What are you doing here?”
Draco hoped he didn't appear as panicked as he felt. This didn't look good, to say the least. “I was looking for Harry.”
“He's in a meeting, I think.” Hermione stepped through the door, still watching Draco, a strange expression on her face. “He didn't say you were coming over.”
“Yeah, well.” Draco walked around the desk and stopped before Hermione. “I guess I'll just wait until he gets back.”
Hermione pursed her lips. “He's in a horrible mood today. Did you two have a fight or something?”
“Sort of. I was coming to apologize, actually.”
To Draco's relief, Hermione smiled. “It might take more than that. What did you do, anyway?”
Draco shrugged. He didn't feel comfortable talking to Hermione about this. Manny would probably fill her in later, anyway. “Do you know when his meeting is over?”
“It'll be a while. It was called at the last minute, and it's closed door. My security clearance wasn't high enough to get in.” The tone of her voice indicated she was a little bitter about that fact.
Draco nodded. “Will you tell him I was looking for him? He won't reply to my emails.”
Hermione looked thoughtful for a moment. “Draco… I never thought I'd say this, but Harry needs you. Please don't give up on him. I know he's not the easiest person to have a relationship with.”
“Neither am I.”
“But he cares about you. And I know you care about him too. Just don't give up on each other, okay?”
Draco smiled. “I don't intend to.”
He walked past her and out the door, hearing her close it as he walked away. He was nearly back to the apparition room when someone called his name.
He turned to see Arnold Bass smiling at him. “Sir,” Draco said in greeting.
“I've been meaning to speak with you,” Bass said. “I don't suppose you have a moment now?”
“Yes, of course.” Bass had barely looked at Draco before. He hadn't even been sure the man knew his name.
Bass led him down the corridor to a small conference room and closed the door behind them. They sat across from each other, and Bass stared at Draco in a way that unnerved him. The twinge in his temple was threatening to turn into a full-blown headache, and it set him on edge. He tried not to squirm in his chair.
“How is your investigation going?” Bass asked at last.
“Slowly, but it's moving forward,” Draco replied. He wasn't sure how much detail Bass was interested in, nor how much he could safely give him.
“I understand you've made progress on the smothering spell?”
Draco nodded. “I'm sure Harry and Hermione could tell you more about it, though. I was only brought on board yesterday.”
“Do you think their theory is correct?”
“That the spell is generated by an individual? Yes, I do.”
Bass looked thoughtful. “Why?”
Draco blinked at him. “Why? Well… It makes sense, I suppose. They have data that supports–”
“But you know something more. Something you haven't told them.”
Draco gave him a quizzical look. “That's… Why would you think that?”
“In fact,” Bass continued, “I believe you know a great deal more than you are telling any of us.”
Draco's expression was one he'd perfected while working in New York . “With all due respect, sir, that's ridiculous. I'm one of the lead investigators on this project. Why would I keep information from anyone?”
“Why indeed? I trust you have your reasons, though.” He seemed to be studying Draco.
Draco's smile became tight. “I really must be going, sir. If there's nothing else you wish to ask me–”
“There are many questions I wish to ask you. Unfortunately, I doubt you would answer any of them.” Bass pushed his chair back and extended his hand. Draco took it, confused about what had just happened. “Thank you for your time. I won't keep you.”
Draco felt Bass's eyes on him as he left the room. He wasn't sure if he should be intrigued or alarmed, but he had the distinct impression Bass knew more than he was letting on as well.
Someone was in the apparition room and Draco had to wait until the light above the door indicated it was empty. His head throbbed so much he wasn't sure he'd be able to concentrate enough to apparate safely.
He managed, though, and was back at his own desk in a matter of minutes. He switched on his monitor and checked his inbox, just in case. There was nothing from Harry.
Draco stared at the screen for a moment, and then began to write.
Draco hit send and leaned back in his chair. If Harry didn't respond to this, he wasn't sure what he would do. He should probably give him some time, a few days to get over it. Draco still wasn't convinced he'd done anything wrong; even Manny had thought Harry was pushing things a bit. But Draco wasn't above groveling.
On top of everything else, he had got very little work done that day. He was still unnerved after his encounter with Bass. The director was suspicious of Draco, that was for certain. Unfortunately, he was right to be.
Draco pressed his fingertips against his temples. His headache was beginning to lift, thankfully. He didn't know how Harry could bear to work under the smothering spell every day. That was probably why Harry had been so anxious and grumpy of late. Draco could have been a bit more understanding, under the circumstances. Instead, he had insisted they keep the spell up for as long as possible.
There was little he could do but wait for Harry to reply, so he might as well get some work done. He sighed and glanced at his desk. Where to begin? A parchment envelope in his inbox caught his attention. It was addressed to him; the handwriting appeared to be Tonks's. He picked it up and it unsealed itself.
Draco whistled. Those files should contain surveillance information on many known Death Eaters. He only needed to copy them – a duplicus spell should do it – and he could spend the weekend reading through them, looking for clues. He hoped a pattern of some sort could be found.
Tonks was really sticking her neck out for him. He would have to do something very nice for her in return.
An hour later, he had packed a bundle of parchment for the duplicating spell into his bag and had compiled a list of suspects whose files he wanted copies of. There were 30 names in all, alphabetized and color-coded by priority. Some were people whose allegiances he knew, such as Avery and Snape, and others were people he suspected would never side with his father. Draco tucked the list into his pocket and scanned his desk.
His email inbox beeped.
Draco nearly jumped in his chair. He glanced at the screen – sure enough, the sender of the email was marked as ‘Harry Potter'. He gave his stomach a moment to settle before opening it.
Draco was both relieved and concerned. Relieved because Harry had finally written him back; concerned because the email revealed nothing about Harry's state of mind. Still, it was better than nothing.
A 7:00 dinner was cutting it close, but he was fairly certain Tonks wanted him in and out of the Ministry complex as quickly as possible. He could drop the files off at his flat afterwards and walk to the restaurant.
He couldn't remember the last time he'd eaten Indian food twice in one day. Harry wanted to see him, though, and that was a good sign.
:: :: :: :: ::
Draco decided to apparate home and change clothes before heading to the Ministry. He picked out a shirt that Harry had always liked – it was dark grey and clingy, made of an expensive silk-like magical cloth. The first time he'd worn it, Harry had asked him to keep it on while they had sex, saying he like the way it felt against his skin. Draco grinned at the memory.
He cast a glamour charm on himself before heading out the front door with his bag of parchment. Public transport was the safest way to travel to the Ministry's main complex, since the apparition wards around it were very sensitive. It was best if no one knew he'd been there.
The Underground was crowded with Muggles heading home from work, and it was easy enough for Draco to blend in. He thought about Harry while he waited for the train, as he sat squashed in a crowded car, and while people rushed off and on around him. He thought about the pain he'd seen in Harry's eyes last night. He thought about the sincere tone with which he'd asked Draco to move in. He thought about the way Harry's hand had shaken when he gave Draco the key.
The key that was probably under the sofa in his flat at this very moment. Draco frowned. He should have found it before he left. It would probably mean a lot to Harry if he carried it with him. He'd have to pick it up on the way back.
He changed trains at Embankment, already rehearsing what he'd say to Harry tonight. It was time to confide everything, all of his secrets, even the ones he'd sworn never to tell Manny. He would come clean, and he would tell Harry how much he loved him, and then he would let Harry decide what to do. Harry could take him as is, or he could break it off.
Draco wasn't sure what he would do in the second case, but he didn't want to dwell on it. Harry would understand. Harry would forgive him. He simply had to.
There was no room to sit on the next train, so he stood near the door, holding a rail and pretending to read the adverts. Perhaps he shouldn't tell Harry he loved him. Maybe it would seem insincere after everything else. On the other hand, it was how Draco honestly felt – and he wasn't going to keep anything from Harry anymore.
It was drizzling when he surfaced to the street again. He made his way to the entrance Tonks had described, trying to be cautious while not appearing suspicious. He had once come through this entrance with his father late at night when he was a small boy. It had been very exciting to be out on an errand with Lucius, and he'd tried his best to be quiet and good. There was a nice lady there who had watched him while Lucius disappeared to talk to someone important. She had given him sweets and smiled at him, telling him how pretty he was. He could still remember the scent of her perfume.
A vacant shopfront marked the entrance. He stood before the doorway and pressed his hand against the glass, and then looked up and down the street before saying, “Aberforth.” The glass shimmered, and he stepped right through it. He felt his glamour charm melt away as he did; the Ministry's wards were set to dissolve them as a security measure.
He found himself in a vacant entry hall. There was a desk at which he assumed an administrative assistant sat during the day, but it was empty now. He walked down the dimly lit corridor to a stairwell and descended to the third level, assuming it would attract less attention than using the lifts. He followed the signs to the records office, winding his way deeper and deeper into the Ministry complex.
He finally turned a corner and saw Tonks pacing back and forth by a water cooler. Her hair was short and brown, with light streaks in it. It made her look a bit mad.
“Hi,” he said, smiling at her.
“You're late,” she replied, folding her arms over her chest. She looked rather agitated. Draco felt a wave of anxiety pass through him for the first time since he'd come in.
“Let's go.” She nodded her head towards a door at the end of the corridor: the records office.
“Thanks,” Draco said, elbowing her as they walked. “I really owe you one.”
Tonks looked away, saying nothing.
“Are you all right?”
She stopped and touched his arm. “Are you sure about this, Draco? It's not too late to turn around and leave.” There was something strange in her eyes, something he couldn't place.
He shrugged. “This information should be very useful. I'm really close to learning what happened as it is.” She nodded, her expression fading, and he frowned at her. “Is something wrong?”
She started walking again. “No. It's just been a crazy week, and all this sneaking about has got me in a bit of hot water.”
“Really? I'm sorry.”
Tonks stared firmly at the floor. “But I've just made a little deal that will let me keep my job.” She paused outside the records office door. “Here we are. Don't dawdle in there, now.”
Draco smiled at her. “Thanks, Tonks. I mean it.”
“Draco,” she began, and then paused. She looked up at him. “I'm sorry I couldn't do more to help you.”
He gave her a quizzical look. The expression on her face was unreadable.
He turned the doorknob and opened the door. The room was dark, so he retrieved his wand and said, “Lumos.”
The door closed behind him, the lights came on, and no fewer than four wands were pointed directly at him. His wand flew from his hand before he could react – someone across the room had cast a quick disarming charm.
A split second passed before he was able to process what was happening. Five people were standing before him, each pointing a wand at his chest. They were dressed in robes decorated with an insignia he didn't recognize, and all of them were glaring at him.
In the center of the group was Cho Chang. She stepped forward, twirling Draco's wand easily in her free hand. “Draco Malfoy, you are hereby placed under arrest. If you resist, you will be restrained.”
Draco could only stare at her for a long moment. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out on the first try. “On what charges?” he managed at last.
Cho's smile was cold. “Charges enough to ensure you'll remain in Azkaban for the rest of your life. Treason against the government. Conspiring with known Death Eaters. Murder.”
Treason and conspiracy were probably fair charges, but murder? He allowed himself to glare at her. “This is ridiculous! Who have I allegedly murdered?”
Cho stared at him for a long moment before replying. “Ronald Weasley.”
Draco felt his breath leave him in one great rush. There were a hundred things he wanted to say, but his tongue simply wouldn't work. A voice in the back of his head told him to remain quiet, and so he did.
He didn't protest when a binding spell was cast on him. He didn't struggle when he was roughly turned and walked down the hallway. Tonks was nowhere in sight, and he pushed thoughts of her out of his mind, not wanting to think about how she had betrayed his trust – or about what a fool he had been.
Ten minutes later, he was sitting in a holding cell in the lowest levels of the Ministry. Alone.
:: :: :: :: ::
Saturday, 6 March, 2004
Draco had no idea what time it was.
He assumed it was Saturday now, but it could be three in the morning or noon for all he knew, as his cell had no windows. He'd spent the first hour there in a daze, and then reality had settled in – he had been arrested and it was very likely that he was going to spend time in Azkaban for a crime he had no memory of committing, if he had committed it at all.
He had quickly pushed that thought aside since it was far too difficult to comprehend, and had focused instead on something much closer to his heart: Harry.
He imagined Harry sitting alone at a table in the restaurant at quarter past seven , getting irritated that Draco was late. After half an hour of waiting, he had probably given up and ordered something to take away. Draco imagined him sitting alone in his flat at eight, eating Indian takeaway and fuming that Draco had stood him up.
The thought that he may have lost his chance to patch things up with Harry made Draco's stomach churn. Surely Harry knew by now that Draco was punctual to a fault. Maybe Harry was worried.
Or maybe he had heard about the arrest by now. The thought of that nearly sent Draco into a panic. He stood and paced the width of his cell, arms wrapped around himself. There was nothing he could do. No one had come in since he'd been left here. He'd been given no opportunity to communicate with anyone.
And he wouldn't get one for a while, most likely. British Wizarding law was fairly archaic, and he had very few rights – particularly with the charges leveled against him. Murder was a Class One offense, after all. Draco felt the panic rise in his throat again.
He stilled at the sound of footsteps approaching the door. A moment later it slid open, revealing Tonks.
He forced himself to look at her. She stared back for several seconds and then looked away. When she finally stepped inside, she was flanked by two Unspeakables.
“Good morning,” she said.
Draco snorted and sat on the room's single hard bench. “Is it?”
“Will you wait outside?” Tonks asked her guards. After a round of whispering, the two men exited, closing the door behind them.
“Come to gloat?” Draco asked, looking up at her. Her hair was pink and curly today, falling in ringlets around her face. It made her look like a doll. A sad, tired, defeated doll.
“I just need to know. Did you do it? Did you do the things they say you did?”
“What have I supposedly done? I've only been told of vague charges.”
“They said you've been meeting with known Death Eaters. That you're actually working with them, not investigating them like you've been telling everyone.”
“Has no one here heard of undercover work?”
“And they have a recording of you saying horrible things about Harry.”
“A recording?” Draco repeated, baffled. “What does it say?”
“You seemed to be implying that you were just stringing Harry along, using him for information,” she replied. Her voice was hoarse, as if she'd spent most of the night talking. “I didn't believe what they were saying about you until I heard that.”
Draco started to argue, and then paused. It was possible that someone had recorded his remarks at one of the many meetings he'd attended. And if Tonks had heard the recording, perhaps Harry had as well. “Those remarks were taken out of contex,” he said. “It isn't what it seems. I'm being set up, for fuck's sake!”
“Did you…” Tonks swallowed and looked away. “Did you really murder Ron?”
Draco stared at the floor. “I don't know. I don't remember. And I don't understand why they're charging me with this now. Ron was killed over three years ago.”
“You don't remember?” Tonks frowned, apparently skeptical. “They claim to have evidence that you did it.”
“Evidence they've yet to show me. No one believes me, of course.”
“Can you blame us?” She looked away and sighed. “Look, I'm sorry it had to happen like this.”
“Had to happen?” Draco snapped. “I thought you were on <i>my</i> side, not theirs. You didn't have to walk me into a fucking trap. You could've given me a hint, you know.”
“I did give you a hint! You weren't listening!”
Draco didn't respond. He had been far too distracted last night, and he'd already spent hours berating himself for being so stupid. He knew better than to put himself in that situation, but he had made a mistake.
“I trusted you,” he whispered, though it seemed a ridiculous remark even to his own ears.
“And I trusted you,” Tonks retorted. “So did Harry, and Merlin knows who else. You've been sneaking around behind our backs this entire time, and you have the nerve to talk about trust?” She turned towards the door.
Draco pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes. It was true, and he knew it. He'd been walking a very thin line for so long that it seemed normal. He hadn't even hesitated to hide things from Harry as well.
“You're right,” he said. “But I had my reasons. I thought I was doing the right thing.”
“You ask so much loyalty of others, Draco, but you don't give it in return.” Tonks was still facing the door, but she stood still, as if she couldn't bring herself to leave just yet.
“I'm sorry.” He knew he sounded frustrated and desperate, but he didn't care.
“So am I.” Tonks turned around. “Look, I was backed into a corner. The Unspeakables came after me on Tuesday, and they had all of this evidence against you. They also knew I'd been helping you, and they told me if I didn't cooperate, I'd be brought up on the same charges, as an accomplice.”
“And the evidence they had made you suspicious of my intentions,” Draco finished. “I understand. I probably would have done the same thing.”
Tonks rubbed her face with her hands. “Look, if there's anything I can do…”
“Does Harry know?”
She shrugged. “I don't know. The arrest is supposed to be a secret. They don't want people panicking about a Death Eater infiltrating the Ministry.”
“Bit late for that.” Of course, this meant they could just keep him locked up here as long as they liked, and there was nothing he could do about it. He ran his hands through his hair and looked up. “Would you tell him what's happened and ask him to come? I think I owe him an explanation in person.” The idea of facing Harry made him want to vomit, but it was the right thing to do.
“I'll let him know. But I can't guarantee I can get him in here to see you.”
:: :: :: :: ::
An hour later, he finally had to urinate so badly that he relented and used the exposed toilet in the cell. He'd avoided it for as long as possible, as if not pissing there would somehow mean he wasn't stuck in that room for the foreseeable future.
But he was. He sat on the floor, leaning his head against the wall. Why had he come here? He could have just gone to meet Harry last night. Maybe they would have patched things up and topped it all off with a nice shag. He could have awakened next to Harry this morning. Harry liked sex in the morning. And it was Saturday, so they could have lounged in bed, had a shower, made breakfast…
What if Harry never wanted to see him again?
Draco closed his eyes.* There was nothing he could do about it. Nothing he could say. Nothing he could negotiate with. Less than 36 hours ago, he'd been handed everything he'd ever wanted, and he had refused it. And now here he sat, for Merlin knew how long.
Hours passed, and he fell asleep at some point. His dreams were dark and twisted, full of images of Harry and Ron together, laughing and smiling, and then turning to Draco with looks of suspicion and hatred. He dreamed about Cho too, but she was kind to him, holding out her hand and laughing at something he'd said. But he couldn't hear his own voice. He tried to scream, and nothing came out.
He was wrenched awake bu a strange sound, and it was a moment before he remembered where he was and what had happened. He looked up to see Cho Chang standing in the doorway of his cell, unrecognizeable from her dream self. She stared down at him, flanked by the same two Unspeakables who'd accompanied Tonks earlier. Draco wondered if they had been standing guard outside the door all this time.
“You look like shit,” she remarked. She stepped forward and the guards followed. The door closed behind them.
“Thanks,” Draco replied. “So do you.”
Her face was oddly expressionless. “I've been waiting a long time for this.”
“Good for you. Satisfied?”
“I will be when you're safely locked away.” Cho walked forward until she was towering over him. “Even your father won't be able to get you out of it this time.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “If you're quite finished with the melodrama, I'd like to know what my rights are.”
“You were arrested under new security regulations designed to combat magical terrorism. You are a threat to the safety and stability of our society, so we can hold you for as long as we like.”
“Can I speak to an attorney?”
“You won't be needing one.”
“Will I have a trial?”
“Maybe a hearing before a judiciary committee.” Cho's eyes glimmered. “But they'll just follow our recommendations, of course. No one wants someone like you running loose. There's no telling what harm you might do.”
“Good to know I'm innocent until proven guilty.”
“You shouldn't have come back. I'm stunned that you were stupid enough to do so.”
Draco pressed his lips together in frustration. A witty retort would do him little good now. “May I hear the evidence against me, or am I to simply accept that I'm being framed for crimes I didn't commit?”
Cho's eyes narrowed and she shook her head, as if she couldn't believe what she was hearing. “I should have arrested you years ago.”
“If you thought I killed Weasley then, why didn't you?”
“Ask your father,” she retorted. “It wasn't for lack of evidence, certainly.”
“My father?” Draco heard his voice crack with frustration, but he didn't care. He wasn't sure he wanted to know what his father had to do with all of this. “I haven't seen any of the evidence you supposedly have against me.”
“Where would you like me to begin? Eyewitness accounts of you meeting with known Death Eaters, perhaps? Or recordings of your conversations, copies of owl posts you have sent and received from your father – who is currently wanted on a range of charges related to conspiratorial activities, by the way.” Her eyes lit up and Draco felt a chill run down his spine. “Of course, that's just what you've been up to recently. We can always go back three years, to the spell that killed Ron Weasley – cast by your wand.”
“By my wand?” Draco gaped at her. “That's ridiculous! My wand was in New York with me when Ron Weasley was killed.”
“Oh, drop the innocent act, Malfoy. I was there, remember? You may be able to lie to Harry, who can't remember a thing, but you can't lie to me.”
“I was in New York !” Draco cried. “I never left. My passport shows nothing. It wasn't me!”
Cho only stared at him in response. Draco felt blood drain from his face as the reality of the situation began to sink in. It didn't matter if what she was saying was true or not. If the government believed that the killing curse was cast from his own wand, the only possibility they would accept was that he'd done it. His wand had a heavy protection spell placed on it, after all, as did the wands of all Aurors.
Had he done it? Was it really possible? He had no memory of those weeks, so he couldn't even defend himself. But Snape had told him he'd been there, and Snape had never lied to him before.
Cho's stare was piercing, and he realized a moment too late that she was inside his head, probing.
“Stop!” he shouted, scrambling against the cold floor. He was usually quite good at defending himself against such things, but he'd been caught off-guard.
When he looked up again, Cho had taken several steps back. Her face was blank, and she wasn't looking at him.
“Find what you were looking for?” Draco growled.
She didn't answer. She simply turned and walked away. The Unspeakables followed, closing the door once again.
Draco lunged for the door, screaming obscenities. He pounded it until his fists ached, shouted until his voice was hoarse. No one came to tell him to be quiet. He heard nothing outside the door. For all he knew the cell had a silencing charm placed around it.
“Oh god,” he whispered, stepping back. What if no one knew he was here? They could be holding him illegally, and there was nothing he could do about it. After all, there were Unspeakables cooperating with his father – what if Cho was working for the other side? What if all of this had been an elaborate operation to kidnap him, to prevent him from exposing their treason? No one would know he was here. No one would be able to do anything to help him.
Tonks knew, he reminded himself. Tonks would get a message to Harry. He had to trust her. But what if Harry didn't want to help him once he found out what Draco had done?
He sank to the floor in the center of the cell. Even if they were holding him legally, the situation was no better. It certainly appeared that he had been responsible for Ron's death. There was no way around the evidence, if it was all real. No one else could have cast the killing curse with his wand. He'd been trained to resist imperius as well, so it was highly unlikely he had been forced to do it. And he'd been here, apparently.
Images from his dreams flooded his mind: dark alleys and Ron standing over him and glaring and This was your doing and a hand around his throat – Draco stifled a sob. It all fit together: his dreams, the evidence, his and Harry's memory lapses, Snape's story.
He was a murderer. Worse, he had murdered someone Harry loved dearly. Harry couldn't forgive him for that – for Hermione's sake, if not his own.
Draco pulled his knees into his chest and shivered. He was defeated. There was no way out of this. And the worst part was that he'd done it to himself.
:: :: :: :: ::
One of the Unspeakables came in to bring him food. The man had looked vaguely familiar before, and now Draco realized why – he had been at the meeting of Death Eaters Draco had attended two days earlier. Perhaps he was the one who had produced the recording. Draco looked away when the man's eyes met his.
Lunch was a bowl of an unidentifiable soup. Draco didn't eat it. He wasn't hungry.
Several hours passed, during which he alternated between thinking of nothing and thinking of everything that had gone wrong in the last few days. He hated having no idea what to expect. He might be here for a week, or for a year, or just a few more hours. No one would tell him.
It must have been late afternoon when his cell door opened again. Draco didn't bother looking up until he heard Manny's voice: “Draco.”
He was on his feet and across the room in a second, throwing his arms around Manny. “Oh, I'm so glad to see you, you've no idea what–”
But Manny only stiffened and pushed him away. Draco stepped back even further, embarrassed – he had just been so glad to see a friend at last that he hadn't even stopped to think.
“Well?” Manny asked, folding his arms over his chest. “Did you do it?”
Draco resisted the urge to wrap his arms around himself; he let them hang limply by his sides instead. “Do what? I've been charged with so many things.”
“Lie to everyone? Conspire with the enemy? Murder Hermione's husband? Take your pick.”
Draco stood his ground, even though he wanted to melt into the floor. Manny's face told him that he already believed it all. Perhaps he'd seen the evidence the Unspeakables had been collecting. “They're making it look worse than it is.”
“How can you make murder look worse than it is?” Manny gaped at him, shaking his head. “And the other things too – you've been meeting with Death Eaters?”
“I was trying to get inside! I was learning a lot about what they did to Vol–”
“Then why didn't you tell anyone what you were doing? If it was really part of the investigation, why go behind our backs like this?”
Draco shrugged and looked away. He had no explanation that would satisfy Manny.
“We've been friends for years, Draco. I've put my neck on the line for you half a dozen times. You should know by now that you can trust me. The fact that you didn't tells me you were engaged in something else altogether.”
“That's not true.” Draco's voice was so small he wondered if Manny could even hear it.
“And you've been talking to your father, after everything that happened in New York , after what he tried to do to Harry?”
Draco took a deep breath. He had to come clean now, or it would only get worse. He looked up at Manny and gestured to the room's bench. “Sit down.” He settled on the floor and waited. Manny hesitated for a moment, but finally crossed the room and sat.
Draco took a calming breath. “Five years ago, I started working for the FBI in New York . And six months later I was approached by Death Eaters who recognized my name, who'd heard of my father. They offered me a lot of money to do some work on the side for them. I had blown through my trust fund a year earlier, which was why I'd had to do Auror training in the first place. And by the time I got to New York , I was broke. I wasn't used to living hand to mouth, and I had no particular loyalty to the FBI.”
“So you really were a double agent. Colby was right about you.”
Draco nodded, keeping his eyes fixed firmly on the floor. “I could have left the FBI altogether, but playing both sides was far more lucrative than I'd expected.” Draco had told everyone he'd invested his money wisely, that the steady supply of cash was the result of dot com dividends paying off – but it wasn't true. “My father started hearing about me, about how successful I was, and he finally decided I must be worth something. He wanted me to come home and work for him, but there was no way in hell I'd do that. So he started looking for ways to blackmail me, to force me to come back.”
“And that's where Colby came in,” Manny said. His voice had a strange tone to it. Draco looked up, but Manny's eyes were hard. “So our entire friendship was based on a lie, then?”
“You lied to me, and you used me, didn't you? You even told me you loved me once, and I've always felt guilty for leading you on.” He shook his head and looked away.
“I did love you. I still do. That was real.”
“I left my home and jeopardized my job to run away to San Francisco to help you, and it was all based on a lie?”
Not really, Draco wanted to say. He really was after me. But he didn't. He pressed his forehead into his knees instead and whispered, “Yes.”
“And then I followed you here on some imagined crusade, while you've been working both sides all along.” Manny made a sound almost like a laugh. “I am such a fucking idiot.”
Draco sighed and tried to keep the desperation out of his voice. “After my father went after Harry, it was different. I wanted to find out what had happened. I wanted to help Harry.”
“Then why didn't you tell Harry that? If you really loved him–”
“I do really love him!” Draco said, raising his voice for the first time.
“You must have a warped idea of what love is, then. Love is what Hermione's husband had for her and their children. And you destroyed it.”
“I don't remember it!” Draco spat. “I don't give a fuck if no one believes me, but I don't remember killing anyone! For all I know, this is all a lie and I'm being framed.”
“And why should we believe you? You've done nothing but lie to me from the day you met me. You manipulated me, and I fell for it.” He stood and glared down at Draco. “You're very good at what you do, I'll give you that.”
“Wait,” Draco said, scrambling to his feet as Manny crossed to the door. “I'm sorry! I don't expect you to forgive me–”
“–but I wanted you to know the truth.”
“Now that you've got no other options?” Manny turned to face him. “When would you have told me if this hadn't happened?”
Draco swallowed. He couldn't think of a way to answer that question that wouldn't make the situation worse.
“Exactly,” Manny said. “You wouldn't have because it wasn't to your advantage until now. You could have chosen a side long ago, but you didn't. You went whichever way paid you better, and never gave a shit about the people you hurt in the process. It's always about you , isn't it? Well, fuck you!”
Draco took a step backwards. Manny didn't say things like that unless he meant them.
Manny turned back to the door. When his hand touched the knob, Draco felt panic settle over him. He stepped forward and grabbed Manny's arm.
Manny shook him off and whipped out his wand, pointing it at Draco. “Don't touch me.”
There was nothing he could do, nothing he could say. Manny would never forgive him. Draco could hardly blame him.
Manny lowered his wand, still glaring. “Goodbye, Draco.”
“Wait – what about Harry?”
“What about him?”
“Is he… does he…?” Draco couldn't even manage a sentence.
“He has no idea what to think. When Tonks told us, he didn't believe it until she played a recording–”
“I see,” Draco said, cutting him off with a wave of his hand. There was nothing Draco could do now. “Will you tell him I'm sorry?”
Manny started to speak, but then paused. He nodded.
“Thank you,” Draco said. “For everything.”
Manny opened the door and walked out.
The sound of the door slamming shut echoed throughout the small room, almost like a Muggle gunshot. Draco stood still for nearly a minute, trembling.
It was over. His life was over. He'd done everything wrong, for all the wrong reasons. And he had just lost everything that was valuable to him.
This was what he deserved.
He collapsed to the floor, too drained even to cry.
:: :: :: :: ::
No one else came to visit him. Draco had clung to the hope that Harry might hear his apology through Manny and decide to come – to yell at Draco, if nothing else. That would have been better than silence, absence, nothing.
More food was brought at some point, but Draco didn't even look up. He wasn't hungry. If this was to be his new existence, he didn't want it.
He was sleeping when the cell door opened, long past midnight . He squinted up at the cloaked figure silhouetted in the doorway. The figure extended a wand, and then said, “Lumos.”
Draco couldn't see the face, but he knew the voice. “Father?”
Lucius tilted the wand light towards his own face. His expression was nearly serene.
Draco sighed. So this was his choice. He could stay in this cell, with no future to speak of, or he could go with Lucius. He knew what the price would be. Leaving this cell would mean he had indebted himself to his father.
Lucius quirked an eyebrow, as if to say, “Well?”
Draco hesitated a moment longer, then climbed to his feet and followed his father through the door.
:: :: :: :: ::
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