Title: Interregnum [Chapter 16]
Pairing[s]: Harry/Draco and others.
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 3000 words
Summary: I was angry with my friend: I told my wrath, my wrath did end. I was angry with my foe: I told it not, my wrath did grow. [William Blake]
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Interregnum - Chapter 16
Draco lifted his head. He hadn't just heard Potter say the papers would announce his death, did he? "What?"
"The papers will announce--"
"I heard you the first time," snapped Draco. "You can't do that without my consent. I've got rights--"
"Rights?" Potter's eyes were very round behind his glasses, the corners of his mouth downturned. "These people very nearly blew England off the map, Malfoy. Fuck your rights."
Draco sneered, though he felt like screaming, or laughing, or both. The indignity of being stomped on by the Ministry thugs was eclipsing the horror of what had happened tonight, and he felt blessed for this respite, however brief. "Oh, is that what Minister Happy is still telling people? That he averted a nuclear disaster?" Draco sketched invisible quotation marks in the air with his fingers.
Potter's eyebrows shot up. "You think he didn't?"
"I know he didn't. There was a training exercise, and your bone-headed Minister thought it was the real thing. Everyone knows that. This is why Aurors should never be allowed in serious politics. Great reflexes, not much brain power." Draco gave Potter a withering look. Blood pounded in his temples, and his headache was getting worse.
Potter hooked his thumbs in the belt loops of his jeans. "Who told you it was a training exercise?" he asked with unmistakable condescension, challenge flashing in his eyes.
"Blaise did," Draco shot back. "Eva Kay told him." He lifted his chin and glared at Potter.
Potter nodded. "Thanks for the information," he said, his tone once again dispassionate, and Draco realised he'd been had. Potter had only goaded him to get information, and he wasn't taking Draco seriously. Once again, he felt trapped, fettered. For the first time in years, he wished his father would come and take him home.
Father. Draco had wondered how the intruders had been able to get inside his flat without Draco's pocket-watch alerting him, but if Father had been with them, he would have known exactly how to disable the alarm. After all, it was from him that Draco learned all he knew of such magic. But had he been with the intruders or had they forced him to let them in? Was Father responsible for Blaise's death?
"What does he remember?" asked Draco, not looking at Potter. "My father."
"Nothing," said Potter quietly. "He didn't even know his own name."
Draco's vision blurred. "Why was he in my flat?"
"We don't know. We don't even know how he got into Germany without the authorities knowing. Berlin Floo never authorised his entry."
There was pity in Potter's voice, and that was more than Draco could take. "Well, what good are you?" he shouted, fumbling uselessly in his pocket until he realised his wand lay in his lap. He snatched it up and leapt to his feet, advancing on Potter. "What do you know?" Potter made no move, and Draco's fury reached a new height; there was a dull roaring in his ears and he couldn't even see properly; Potter was keeping him here against his will, and Draco wouldn't stand for it. "Cruci--"
Potter's right hand shot out, seizing Draco's wrist. Pain spiked up his lower arm, like a sword piercing his skin, numbing it. Draco's wand fell from his unfeeling fingers, and Potter shoved him backwards. Draco staggered and fell onto the bed, the veil of fury fleeing before fear and despair -- caught unawares, he was unable to keep it at bay any longer. His heart thudded heavily against his ribs as he struggled to his elbows, keeping his eyes on Potter.
Potter's face was very white, and his eyes held no trace of pity, now. "Draco Malfoy, you're under arrest for attempting an Unforgivable Curse against an Auror. Your rights before the laws of your country are forfeit pending an investigation--"
"You provoked me," whispered Draco. "You knew you couldn't hold me here unless you arrested me--"
"--anything you do or say will be used against you in a formal trial, to be held at a date to be determined by the Wizengamot." Potter picked up Draco's wand and put it in his pocket. He hadn't even taken out his own wand.
"You can't do this," said Draco, fighting panic.
"I just did," said Potter. "You will get up and walk slowly to the bed at the far end of this room. No sudden movements."
Draco remained still. His mind was a confused haze of memories -- his father lifting him onto a gaudy carousel horse, the smell of his robe sleeves smouldering in Fiendfyre, his mother stroking his hair as Draco was sick after the Dark Lord forced him to use the Cruciatus Curse, Blaise falling to the floor with a smile on his face...
"Malfoy, I'm not going to tell you twice. Do as I say or I'll use force."
Gingerly, Draco rotated his wrist where Potter had struck -- pinched? -- him. The pain had chased the last of his anger down into a place where it merely seethed but did not stir. He couldn't fight without a wand, and there was no way out. He got up from the bed and walked, his knees barely bending, to the far side of the room. No sooner did he reach it that he felt a whoosh behind him, and turned to see black bars encircling the bed. A cell. Arrest. Prison. And he hadn't even done anything. No longer caring about what Potter would think, Draco sank down onto the bed and hid his face in his hands.
"You're the new recruits?"
"Yes," said Patrick, stepping closer to the Auror's cubicle. "Millicent and Patrick Vaisey."
"Mr Robards is just having a meeting with the Minister," said the Auror. The name tag on her desk read Stangerson.
At that moment, the door marked Head Auror, near which Patrick and Millicent stood, opened, and Kingsley Shacklebolt strode out. Gawain Robards, a heavy-set, strong-jawed man with an unforgiving gaze, walked a little behind him. "The Germans aren't going to be happy about this," he said in a surprisingly pleasant voice. Patrick had expected him to speak as gruffly as he looked. "They're being kept out of an investigation that happened on their turf, international law or not. All I'm saying is we should give them something."
A woman with a mane of frizzy hair followed the men into the corridor, muttering to herself as she scribbled in a notebook. "Well, we can't give him Malfoy," she said without looking up, and then she frowned at something her quill had scratched. Hermione Granger, Kingsley's Senior Something-or-Other.
"Ah, Patrick," said Kingsley, noticing him at last. "Good to see--"
"No, I will not!" came a shout from further down the corridor. "Let go of me, you useless creature; let go this instant!"
A tall woman emerged from the lift. She looked like a carved statue of some South American deity, all dark planes and chiselled edges. Madam Zabini, Blaise Zabini's mother. She had always been so very haughty and cold, but now she strode down the corridor with her eyes flashing, her hair in disarray, the collar of her robes loose, exposing a large silver pendant clasped at the base of her neck. A building guard trailed behind her, making feeble attempts to seize her robe sleeve, but mostly looking glumly resigned.
"Shit," murmured Kingsley as he straightened up to face her. "What is the meaning of this?" he asked in a booming, deep voice that made Patrick want to bark his readiness to follow orders. Millicent took his hand, and Patrick gave her a sidelong grin.
"I'm sorry, Minister," panted the hapless guard as he approached. "I didn't know she'd--"
Kingsley raised a hand. "It's fine, Stebbins," he said. "Go back to your post."
"Minister," said Madam Zabini, stopping abruptly. "I didn't expect to see you here."
"I don't usually expect citizens in the Auror office, either," said Kingsley, stepping forward a little, as if to shield Robards and Granger. "I assume there is a good reason for this intrusion, Edna."
The woman touched the pendant at her neck with her slim, long fingers, and her expression of indignant fury disappeared. She only looked tired, and far older than Patrick remembered. It was as though years, not weeks, had passed since the wedding. "My son," she whispered. "They will not let me see my son."
Kingsley glanced at Granger, eyebrow raised. She gave a small shrug and a barely perceptible shake of her head. Kinsgley gave the tiniest of nods. Granger hurried forwards, stuffing her notebook into an impossibly small beaded bag. "I'm sure there has been a misunderstanding," she said. "If you'll please follow me, Madam Zabini, I'm sure we can sort this out--"
Madam Zabini followed Granger down the corridor after a stiff nod to Kingsley. Patrick burned with curiosity. He had suspected that Blaise Zabini was somehow involved in the whole bad business on July twelfth, but what was going on?
After the lift descended, Kingsley heaved a sigh. "Poor woman," he said to no one in particular.
"Has something happened to Blaise?" asked Millicent.
Kingsley glanced at her. "You went to school with him, didn't you?"
"He was killed on Friday," said Kingsley. "In Berlin."
Patrick frowned. "Killed? How?" Saturday's Prophet had reported that Draco Malfoy had been killed in a freak accident, but Zabini--?
"We're still investigating," replied Kingsley. "At any rate, it's not something you need to worry about. Gawain, these are the new trainees. Patrick Vaisey and Millicent Vaisey."
Robards shook their hands in turn. "Dawlish should be along any minute to escort you to the Compound."
Millicent crossed her arms. "It has something to do with the July attacks, doesn't it?" she asked, staring straight at Kingsley.
Kingsley nodded. His eyes looked far away. "As I said, it's not anything you need to worry about."
"Is Eva Kay a suspect?" asked Millicent. Patrick fought the urge to groan and roll his eyes. It was fun watching Millicent dog Eva Kay, but this really wasn't the place or the time for her to trot out her pet theories.
Kingsley tilted his head to one side, his eyes narrowing. "What makes you say that?"
"I think she's involved," said Millicent. "I think she's right in the middle of it all. She showed up out of nowhere soon after the war, and right now she seems to know everyone who's anyone in wizarding England. And she keeps telling conflicting things to people, depending on who she's talking to. She just smells wrong."
Robards gave Millicent a look of appreciative recognition.
"Draco Malfoy let it slip that Eva Kay once told Blaise Zabini that the attacks on July twelfth were a cover-up," murmured Kingsley. "Orchestrated by me, no less. Yet when I last talked to her, she was expressing outrage at the villains' audacity, as usual, and wishing me all the luck in the world."
"At the wedding, she told me she barely knew Zabini, but I saw them together in the Mad Hatter on July thirteenth." said Millicent. "Me and Patrick have been trying to dig up everything about her past ever since the wedding."
Kingsley and Robards exchanged looks. Kingsley looked at Stangerson, who sat watching them all with avid interest. "Find Dawlish. Tell him we'll have to postpone the trip to the Compound." Turning to Millicent and Patrick, he added, "We'd better go into Gawain's office."
Hermione was late.
Edna Zabini had taken only one look at her son's body before coming apart completely, and Hermione couldn't very well leave her alone in the basement of St Mungo's when she was in such a state, so she took her to the tearoom on the fifth floor and found a Healer to sit with her until the woman could pull herself together. Now Hermione wished she hadn't promised to meet Ginny for lunch -- in her current state, Edna Zabini could've been a wealth of information. Oh, but it was so callous to think this way, so inhuman! The poor woman had lost her only son, and all Hermione could think of was her work. But it was important work. It might bring whoever killed Blaise Zabini to justice, and wouldn't that be a good thing?
As she hurried towards the Leaky Cauldron, she paused twice, thinking about going back and questioning Madam Zabini, but always changed her mind. There would be time for that later. Hermione was sure that the woman would cooperate; surely she'd do anything to punish her son's murderer. Abusing her distraught condition would only be insulting later, when Madam Zabini had a chance to think things over, and it might make her reluctant to tell Hermione anything else.
She pulled open the door to the Leaky Cauldron and stepped inside. Ginny sat at one of the centre tables, nursing a glass of something dark.
"I'm sorry I'm late," said Hermione, taking a seat. "There was a minor emergency."
Ginny waved Hermione's explanation away. "Guess what?" she said, beaming.
Hermione smiled back. "What?"
"I'm being considered for the national team's reserves," said Ginny. "Just found out this morning. Gwen was so happy she let me take the rest of the day off."
"Oh, that's wonderful!" said Hermione, who only vaguely understood how Quidditch teams worked. "Wait. Does that mean you'll have to stop playing with your team?"
"Oh, not at all--"
Kingsley's voice erupted from Hermione's bag. She snatched her two-way out and flipped it open. "I'm at the Leaky Cauldron," she said. "What's up?"
"Sorry to interrupt, but I need you in Gawain's office right away."
Hermione nodded, snapped the two-way shut, and gave Ginny an apologetic shrug. "I've got to go," she said. "Sorry about this -- something else must have come up."
"It's okay," said Ginny. "I just hope your boss doesn't do that when you're having romantic dinners with my brother."
Hermione gave a weak laugh, not sure if she was more amused by the idea of Ron taking her to a romantic dinner or the idea of Kingsley interrupting such a dinner. She gathered her robes and got up. As she reached the door, she turned around to wave.
"Tell Eddie I said hello," called Ginny, waving back.
Hermione didn't tell her that she never saw Eddie Carmichael at work these days. How could she, with most of her time spent in the War Office or at Kingsley's side? She smiled at Ginny and gave a noncommittal nod before hurrying out the door.
Somehow, her work had taken over her life, and Hermione didn't know how she felt about that.
Harry sat on his bed, leafing through the St Mungo's report on Zabini's post-mortem. He saw the words and sentences, but he couldn't quite make sense of them. As much as he hated it, his thoughts were all about Malfoy. He had barely moved from the bed since Harry had arrested him, except to use the toilet, and Harry had to tell him to do that, had to practically force him to walk along. He wondered if Malfoy had planned to start relieving himself right on the bed, so as to make the air unfit for breathing and leave Harry with no choice but to move him. Harry wouldn't put it past Malfoy to do something like that.
Malfoy was ignoring offers of food and drink. He said nothing. Harry had resolved to try and spend as much time as possible away from the safe house, but he didn't like being out there after learning the Death Eaters were watching him, and he was terrified that they would somehow find a way into the safe-house despite its protective enchantments. He was afraid to try and move Malfoy with them watching -- a second of inattention would be all it took, and once Malfoy was anywhere else, he'd be a sitting duck. He had to wait. Wait until Malfoy agreed to talk.
Several times, Harry almost regretted the decision to arrest him, but then he remembered the look on Malfoy's face when he'd tried to cast the Cruciatus Curse. He had meant it. He had really meant to hurt Harry, and Harry still remembered, from the war, that Malfoy was more than capable of casting Unforgivable Curses. He'd watched Voldemort force Malfoy to use Cruciatus, and poor Madam Rosmerta had been under Malfoy's Imperius Curse for months. He hadn't succeeded in using the Killing Curse, that much was true, but six years had passed since that night atop the Astronomy Tower. People changed. People like Draco Malfoy rarely changed for the better.
He had arrested Malfoy rightly, for since the war's end, it was a crime to even attempt the Unforgivable Curses. He didn't understand why Malfoy had said that Harry had provoked him. Did he really think so? Was he really so unwilling to take responsibility for his own actions that he would cling to any excuse that lay all blame at someone else's feet? It was utterly deplorable, and yet Harry couldn't help but pity Malfoy, for what he had seen, and for what had happened to his parents. The Malfoys' condition remained unchanged.
"Look, Malfoy," said Harry, rubbing his temples tiredly. "If you tell me what this silver lion thing does, we'll catch them sooner. Then you'll be moved to a nice private holding cell in the Ministry catacombs until your trial."
Malfoy remained still. He lay on his side, his back turned to Harry, and appeared to be asleep. Except Harry knew he wasn't sleeping. He didn't sleep. Every time Harry looked at Malfoy's face since Friday night, his eyes were open, glazed and staring like a doll's. If Harry didn't do something, Malfoy would need a hospital, and Harry really did not want to explain that to Kingsley. How was he supposed to know that Malfoy would end up in such a stupor?
"The penalty for a single unsuccessful attempt at an Unforgivable is six months' incarceration, and that includes pre-trial time," Harry tried again. "But if the Wizengamot decides that you deliberately tried to spend as much time as possible in pre-trial holding, they can extend your sentence by up to six months. The sooner you talk, the better off you'll be."
Harry began to wonder which would crack first: Malfoy's stony silence or Harry's determination to uphold the law.