A/N: As promised, the first of a few stories about 'The Seekers' that I've been working on in order to give myself some background for 'It is the Cause, My Soul'
Hope you like - let me know your thoughts x
All characters are property of J.K. Rowling, and quotations are taken from A Tale of Two Cities
THE SEEKERS - 1 - DRACO RECEIVES A VISIT
The Ministry cells had some sort of warding on them that made them impermeable to magic. Part of him was interested in the quality of the charms, but mostly he was struggling with the incipient nausea that the absence of magic brought on.
They'd given him a muggle novel to read, which was frankly insulting, but after a few days he was almost climbing the walls and so reluctantly picked up the soft, worn paperback. Who even jacketed a book in paper? Honestly it was as though muggles were determined to broadcast their inferiority. He ignored the way it flexed in his hands, and the sweet, vanilla-like scent of its yellowed pages.
It took him less than a day to finish, and when he flicked the soft, orange cover closed Draco sat back on his cot, staring at the blank stone wall in front of him.
Lucy Manette was utterly infuriating in her goodness, and Sydney Carton…he blew out a breath and tugged on his hair before smoothing it back over his head in a futile attempt at neatening it. In the week that he had been in the cell, the week since the final battle at Hogwarts, he had been offered only minimal access to hygiene facilities and his normally impeccable hair was suffering the consequences.
He felt like bloody Charles Darnay in his stupid cell, only he wasn't a complete twat.
After lying and glaring at the ceiling for an hour or so Draco had just sat up, had just turned back to the beginning of the book, was just reading the first paragraph again, and was just refusing to admit to itself that this Dickens chap might have a way with words, when the door to the cell rattled and then swung open.
He threw the book on the floor and crossed his arms almost guiltily, glowering at the now open doorway and the pair who stood framed by it. If he could have deepened his scowl he would have, but Draco found that his heart wasn't really in it. McGonagall gave him her trademark piercing stare over the top of her spectacles, her mouth moving into a not-quite smile as he met her eyes. Beside her was Shacklebolt, his calm face completely impassive.
Draco waited for the familiar swoop of hatred, but felt nothing except resignation. Unbidden, the novel's words came back to him – "I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss" – and he realised that he was surely seeing two of the architects of the future of wizarding Britain.
A future where there could surely be no place for a former Death Eater.
He cast his eyes down to the novel on the floor, and then looked back at McGonagall with a wry twist to his mouth. "It is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known?" He lifted his voice, making the quotation a question.
McGonagall's eyes actually twinkled at him, and Shacklebolt let out a low laugh. "It would appear I owe you a drink, Minerva."
Draco's eyes darted between the pair of them, and narrowed slightly. They weren't behaving like people who had come to deliver a death warrant. "Why would you owe her a drink?" he asked, trying to keep the note of childish petulance from his voice.
McGonagall smiled at him then, which was thoroughly unnerving. She turned and spoke to someone out of sight on the other side of the door, "I think we can lift those wards for the time being," and Draco felt, like descending into a warm bath, the return of magic.
He wished he could have helped the choked sigh of relief, but he didn't really have much dignity left. McGonagall was still smiling as she waved her wand, conjuring a table, three comfortable armchairs and a tea set as if from nowhere. "He owes me a drink because I bet him you would read the book. Now, won't you join us for some tea?"
Trying to compose his features into a suitably frosty glare, Draco rose from his cot and came to sit down at the table. McGonagall poured three cups of fragrant tea and gestured encouragingly to Draco, who sipped carefully, never moving his eyes from his former professor's face. He could feel Shacklebolt's unwavering gaze on him but chose to ignore it for the time being. When they had all sat in silence for nearly a minute, Draco cracked. "Why are you here?"
McGonagall glanced at Shacklebolt before giving Draco a small smile. "The Minister and I have managed to secure terms for your release, and we would like to propose them to you."
Draco tried to stay very, very still, but frowned at Shacklebolt, "Minister?"
Shacklebolt gave that deep, rumbling laugh again, "Indeed, Mr Malfoy. And I have been working with the new Headmistress of Hogwarts to see how we can go about," he gave a pause, seeming to search for the appropriate word, "…rehabilitating those former students who came under, ah, unfortunate influences over the past few years."
Draco's mind whirred as he interpreted the older man's words. "You mean to say, if I agree to doing what you tell me to do, I won't have to go to Azkaban?"
Shacklebolt and McGonagall shared a look, before McGonagall turned back to Draco, "There is a house arrest option, but you would have to surrender your wand, and given that we suspect you can work wandless magic," she gave him a penetrating look that had Draco swallowing nervously, "then your place of residence would have to be warded."
"Fuck that," Draco snapped, blushing as soon as his mind caught up with his mouth.
Shacklebolt gave him a smile at that, but McGonagall's expression held the tiniest hint of worry. "We thought it likely you would see things that way. Both of your parents have received hearings before the Wizengamot, and your mother has accepted a pardon under caution, much as we hope you will." She paused slightly, before continuing in a business-like manner, "Unfortunately your father felt the terms of such a pardon to be 'humiliating' and so has been placed under house arrest at Malfoy Manor."
Draco was unsurprised by this, and felt it best not to voice his suspicions that his father would not be a problem much longer, given the well-hidden stock of poisons at the family home. He and Lucius had barely been on speaking terms by the War's end. He felt certain that by accepting this pardon he would probably drive the final wedge between them, and noted his own indifference. If Lucius was going to put pride ahead of survival under the new regime then that was his problem.
Shacklebolt and McGonagall were both watching him, waiting for a reaction, so Draco took another sip of tea while he gathered his thoughts. "My mother is safe, then?"
McGonagall nodded, her face relaxing slightly, "She has taken up residence at her Paris apartment, and is assisting the Ministry in conducting new treaties with their European counterparts."
Draco allowed himself a small smile: bossing people around and performing a vital role, in one of the most fashionable cities on Earth. How very like his mother. He tried to keep his mind on his own situation, "What do you want from me then?"
At a wave of McGonagall's hand, Shacklebolt took over, "We're putting together a little team of young wizards and witches who have proven themselves equal to challenging circumstances over the past few years, and we'd like you to be a part of it."
Draco's eyebrows pinched together, "That's a hell of a lot of trust to put in me."
Shacklebolt nodded, "Ye-es, but your wand will be tested and we will be fitting you with a tracker for the first twelve months, after which –"
"After which," McGonagall cut in, "We will consider options for continuing your education. You'll be taking private lessons with Shacklebolt and me over the course of this year to prepare you, and we'll consider the direction that we'd like things to take in a few months' time."
She was hedging deliberately, he could tell. "What aren't you saying?"
McGonagall huffed an irritable sigh, "Honestly, Mr Malfoy, why you can't just trust that we have your best interests at heart?"
"Because you've also got your best interests at heart," Draco shot back, "What am I to be taking lessons in, and where will you be sending me to study?"
McGonagall didn't answer straight away, but her eyes drifted behind Draco to where he knew the tatty little novel lay on the floor. He felt the blood drain from his face. "Muggles. You're going to teach me about muggles. That's…that's…" Did this Dickens happen write anything else? "That's just cruel."
She gave him a sharp look, and Shacklebolt's laugh rumbled through the room, "We never said we wouldn't make the punishment fit the crime, Mr Malfoy. Do you accept our terms?"
Draco made a heroic effort to kill Shacklebolt with the power of his stare as he finished his tea, then, screwing his face into a grimace, heaved a sigh. "I accept your bloody terms, Minister." He felt the charge of strong magic, and realised the verbal contract had also taken the form of a magically binding oath. Typical.
Still, he'd be free, and working with this force of…Draco paused, horrified, as played back the Minister's words.
Young wizards and witches who have proven themselves equal to challenging circumstances.
He had to suppress a growl.
Why did it always have to be fucking Potter?