"So why did you do it, save Ms. Granger's life that is?" Dumbledore began simply. He stared at the sullen boy who had thrown himself back on his armchair after he had got over the first shock of seeing his housemaster.
"I did what was right, noble and good, and you ask me why? I am deeply insulted!" said Draco. He made no attempt to mask his contempt; he was determined to make this interview as difficult as possible.
"You did what was right, noble and good, but surely for not those reasons?" Dumbledore's voice was still amiable, despite the words.
"I am not going to sit here and explain myself just to earn your favours!" Draco snapped. "Granger told you what happened, and if you do not believe her, then…"
"But I do believe her," cut in Dumbledore gently. "I believe she has told me the truth for most parts, and yet she has let things slip by unsaid for some reason. Now correct me if I am wrong, Mr Malfoy, but the reason is you."
It was too close to the truth for comfort, and Draco was on his feet as he spluttered angrily.
"Oh yes, I threatened and tortured her into lying in your august presence."
"Don't be absurd, Draco." Snape said in a low voice. He had been watching the interview from where he stood near the fireplace. He'd kept as quiet as possible, ignoring Draco's glare which seemed reserved for him.
Draco might dislike Dumbledore, but Snape…Snape invited a whole new level of revulsion. He screwed up his face as he shouted,
"Don't you dare talk to me, you…"
"Now…now…" interrupted Dumbledore jovially, " that's no way to talk to your new guardian."
Both Draco and Snape started, and all the ill will in the room was again transferred unto Dumbledore
"Albus, you shall explain at once as to why in Merlin's name, you keep throwing that word at me," said Snape. He tried to glare down at Draco, who was muttering in not so quiet whisper what he thought of Dumbledore.
Dumbledore seemed to grow serious all at once. He said wearily, "I know it is sudden for both of you. But we must act as quickly as possible. Severus you must remember that Draco is still underage. Lucius Malfoy can legally determine where Draco should be sent."
"He is an escaped convict, Albus. Surely it will be impossible for him to take Draco away."
"Ah, but lawyers, Severus. You forget that it would be perfectly legal for Lucius' lawyers as his representatives to take the boy away and put him under what they consider appropriate guardianship. It is not difficult to imagine what appropriate in this case would be."
Draco sat down, as his legs suddenly felt like they'd been cursed with jelly leg. Draco had to make an effort, not to put his head in hands and groan loudly as the implication of Dumbledore's words hit him. Draco could see the sort of people he'd be sent to. Worse, he was quite sure it would involve seeing his father at some point in the near future and the thought terrified him. Sure, he had stood up to his father in a moment of brilliant lunacy but to see him again…
"Surely someone else can take this responsibility? Albus, if this has anything to do with the way I felt about Narcissa…"
"Felt about Narcissa?" Draco cut in, ashen faced and disgusted. "Excuse me while I go get sick"
"Not like that," snapped Snape, but he seemed a little flustered, by the fact that he had been foolish enough to mention it before Draco.
It wasn't lost on Draco, who said in a gagging voice, "I think I am going to be mentally scarred forever."
Dumbledore cut in before, Snape could cut Draco down, " I have thought of this, Severus. There is the matter of Draco's safety. Placing him in your care is a risky proposition but I am convinced that he would be the safest with you. Voldemort needs you to remain at my side, he would hardly jeopardize that by having Draco attacked when I have entrusted his safety to you; too suspicious for your position. It would be temporary this protection as once Draco turns seventeen we could easily provide him with some alternative."
Snape didn't argue, even though it was obvious he was not pleased with the solution being trust on him. Draco had no qualms of showing his protest however.
"I don't care." Draco spat out. "Surely, there's someone else."
Dumbledore seemed to consider his request for a while, before he said with a sigh
"Well, there is someone else I could ask."
Snape seemed surprised at this. Surely, Dumbledore wouldn't change his plans specifically for the boy; and even if Snape did not wholly agree with it, he had grudgingly accepted its logic.
Draco was however obviously pleased.
"Thank god!" Draco said with a theatrical shudder as if he was getting rid of an awful memory.
"It would be a little sudden, but…"
"No one would refuse your request. You're Dumbledore!" Draco flicked his wrist in the air, as if he was conjuring up the name by magic.
"Draco…" Snape began warningly, but Dumbledore said with a smile.
"It's quite all right, Severus. It's not their refusal that I am afraid of, it is whether you would agree, Draco."
"Of course I'll agree. Anything is better than him." Draco said contemptuously. He knew he was baiting Snape, trying to get Snape to react, but Snape seemed to have perfected the act of appearing seemingly deaf to Draco's taunts and jibes, and remained silent.
"It would be a little crowded," Dumbledore continued.
"I love crowds!" Draco said with an overdose of enthusiasm.
" And you would have to adjust,"
"I would absolutely love adjusting!"
Snape had to hastily conceal his snort with a cough. He was determined not to interfere with whatever Dumbledore was planning, but the statement was the height of audacity
"In that case," Dumbledore said with a smile. "I will ask Molly Weasley."
Perhaps, Dumbledore had meant it as a joke. A harmless jab to bring the insolent boy down a peg or two. But an extraordinary change seemed to have come over the boy. He looked, as if he had been visibly struck.
He stood up, his fingers clenching into fists at his side. He said in a tight whisper.
" Father was right. You're a manipulative bastard."
"Draco, mind your words." Snape said sharply. Dumbledore however stayed quiet, looking keenly at Draco.
"I am right. You get a sick twisted pleasure, don't you? Making others suffer?" Draco said ignoring Snape.
"Draco," Dumbledore began gently. "I merely want what is best for…"
"Oh yes!" Draco cut in angrily. "Of course that is your excuse. You are doing what's right, aren't you and lo! The mighty Dumbledore could do no wrong in the process."
"You don't know what you are talking about." Snape said quietly. The boy seemed too angry as if something else was simmering beneath his outburst.
"I know plenty. Tell me, Sir," he said mockingly. "Do you remember Duncan Idanov?" not forgotten him, have you? Or his family? Was what you did for the best for the right?"
Snape was surprised that Draco brought him up. He remembered Duncan from Hogwarts of course but he had died a long time ago and to Draco to bring him up; what possible connection could Dumbledore have with this?"
Dumbledore seemed a little taken aback at Draco and it was a while before he said,
"I cannot justify my past actions. I…I have not always been right. But…I have tried to do what seemed best in a situation. I believe you will be safest with Severus; we shall discuss the arrangements tomorrow.
It was an abrupt ending to the discussion, quite uncharacteristic of Dumbledore and Draco seemed to see this as his victory and he stomped off with a smirk.
Once the door shut, Snape looked at Dumbledore intently. He wasn't quite sure what had just happened, and he was curious to know even though he didn't think Dumbledore would give him a straight answer.
"He isn't really off the mark, you know." Dumbledore said with a tired smile in the end.
"What do you mean, professor?" Snape asked quietly.
" I have hardly been infallible, and on many occasions-lo the mighty Dumbledore has been quite a fool indeed."
Well, this has been a long time. I wonder if anyone is still interested in reading this. It seems weird to be writing this…after so long. Especially since the seventh book ended and that epilogue…I better not start ranting on that.
I hate to give excuses to all you wonderful people who were reading this fanfiction, if I bugged you by stopping. I hate it when an author does that and rightly so. But life…can be an utter drama queen sometimes. I changed tracks. Decided I wanted to do law (that's right, I am going to be soul-selling lawyer. I am still going through the stage where I get a kick out of saying I am going to be a soul selling lawyer.) And moved far away, dorm room, no Internet, noisy roommate and Bloody Awful Amount Of Work. (I am developing muscles in my shoulders carrying just my normal course books.) and so on …more bla. At the same time I was torn with what to do with this work. It meant something to me – with all its mistakes and imperfections, it was my first piece of fanfiction, my first-born…and abandoning it broke my heart.
Especially since only a chapter was left. Ah well I began to write again, and I know this isn't long enough to be called a proper chapter, but I just had to put it up. Part two…should follow in a while and that is hopefully the end. I know I keep saying that…but there.
I want to thank all the wonderful people who kept urging me to write; it helped me post this even though it is very late in coming.