Warnings, disclaimers, etc.

A/N's -

- she's aliiiiiive, she's aliiiiiive. Sorry about the slow update.

- I'm not following the courseloads or schedules given in Half-Blood Prince, mostly because I had my arrangement prior to that book's release.

- I'm also not using JKR's NEWT-selection scene. It doesn't make any sense to me to not have the 6th-year schedules arranged until the morning that classes start.

- barrister: known as a lawyer in the United States

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Ch. 11 - Transcription

The grandfather clock was chiming two when Draco, eyes crossing from exhaustion, trudged into the Slytherin common room. It had taken nearly four hours for his parents (usually mindful of etiquette and the moods of both guests and hosts) to notice the growing impatience of the Aurors and take their leave of Hogwarts. Four hours, all spent catching up on the summer's lost family time while not letting any hints of Dark Lords or Japan drop... Draco never thought he'd be glad of an Auror's presence!

His head spinning, vision narrowed, Draco almost walked right past the couches near the hearth. But something lying on it shifted and began snoring, catching Draco's attention. He blinked in incomprehension, mind needing a long second to process the image.

Pansy, Crabbe, and Goyle lay slumped on the black couches: Crabbe and Goyle's bulky forms filled most of one couch, while Pansy was tucked in a prim little ball in the corner of the opposite sofa.

... had they tried to wait up for Draco? That was... Gryffindorishly stupid. Maybe even Hufflepuffian. And Draco didn't care if those were words or not.

He drew his foot back to kick the couch leg, then paused. Did he really want to wake them?

Pansy would go back to crying and clinging. Which was great during the day, or when he was awake and could appreciate having a girl plastered to him. She had a decent figure ... that is, she'd had one prior to OWLs and Draco's disappearance. She could stand to have a good meal or ten right about now. But the point was that she'd wail and fuss, and if she didn't wake up the whole House she'd at least wake Crabbe and Goyle. Those two would probably just go right to bed without any complaint or more than a couple of token questions... but would they go to sleep, or just stare at Draco's bed like big dumb dogs for the rest of the night?

It was a question Draco had no interest in finding the answer to. He set his foot back down and edged away from the couches, creeping to the boys' halls in silence. Most of the lanterns back here had long since run out of oil, only a tiny nightlamp at the entrance to the bathrooms still burning, and Draco found his way to his door mostly out of habit.

The dorm was brighter than in the hallway had been. Someone had left the window curtains open, and the moon was high enough now to shine into the dorm. Draco stepped inside, letting the door swing back into place. The quiet snick of the latch faded against the rustle of heavy fabric; somebody was awake.

"Welcome back."

Kurama. What a surprise, Draco thought sarcastically as he glanced to the right. The redhead was sitting up in his bed by the door, curtains barely closed, open curiosity on his face.

Draco sighed. Dammit. He wanted to sleep, not give a report disguised as a greeting. "Did I wake you?" he asked.

"Yes," Kurama replied simply. His next word was expectant. "So...?"

"I'm sure the whole school's heard that I didn't know it was September," Draco muttered, before flashing the steel cuff. "So I've been chained to Hogwarts until they catch the guy."

If Draco hadn't been looking for it, he would've never caught the flicker of smug relief that Kurama let him see. "Interesting," Kurama murmured. "May I look?"

Draco held out his arm wordlessly. No doubt he'd be getting used to the gesture over the next several days.

Kurama peered at the little portrait for a long moment, considering the elderly woman studying him in return. "I don't think she approves of me."

"Big surprise," Draco muttered. "She's somebody's prim, bitter spinster of an aunt, I bet. I probably won't even get to read the good magazines this year. And I don't know how I'm supposed to bathe with her around," he added, tugging his wrist free of Kurama's grip to glare at the old woman. She hid a smirk behind a lace fan. "Yeah, laugh it up, lady; I'm not required to be polite to you." She waved that off, and Draco snorted, shoving the cuff back up his sleeve. "Better than the alternative, I guess," he told Kurama, carefully working his way to his own bed. (There were a few loose shoes and a book ready to be tripped over, as far as Draco could tell from the shadowy shapes on the floor.) "Could've had some real person following me around all year."

If Kurama had any opinion of that, he wasn't saying, and Draco wasn't interested in checking the demon's expression anymore. He was home.

A set of pajamas in Draco's size were waiting for him on the coverlet. He took them with faint relief. So much better than the box of musty castoffs he'd had in Japan, though they still weren't his own high-quality garments. He'd probably outgrown his old clothes... he would have to check after his trunk arrived from the evidence lockup.

"I'm for bed," he finished, in case Kurama hadn't gotten the hint that this conversation was over. "Night."

He nearly didn't hear the quiet, cool reply. "Good night, Draco."

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Evidence: Potion samples (To Be Tested)
Date: 2 Sept. 1996

Location: 1. Hogwarts potions office (vials labeled A-4) 2. Hogwarts potions classroom (vials labeled B-4) 3. Hogwarts potions supply cabinet (vials labeled C-4) 4. Hogwarts potions storage cupboard (vials labeled D-5) 5. Hogwarts infirmary (vials labeled E-8). Cross-reference to Diagrams 4, 5, 8.

Copy of stock list attached: amounts of ingredients and relevant potions verified. Cross-reference samples to full list, note discrepencies.

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Morning came too early for Harry, who'd spent far too long trying to figure out Malfoy's reappearance before sleep had finally taken over. Breakfast, at least, came none too soon, and he piled food onto his plate and tucked in with all the enthusiasm of any teenage boy.

The schedules' typical arrival gained the same response as the past five years: Ron unfolded his one-handed, made a face, and muttered about first-thing Potions. He didn't even bother to sound surprised anymore.

Harry sighed. "It could be worse," he said. "It could be taught by... I dunno. Hey, can you imagine what would happen if Gilderoy Lockheart taught Potions? At least... I mean, with Snape, you pretty much get what you expect." He shoved Hermione's plate toward her again, since she had been inching it away as she studied her schedule.

The morning post came a few minutes after that, a package landing next to Ginny's plate. She turned it to read the address, then rolled her eyes. "The twins."

The four people nearest her edged away.

Yuusuke was looking on interestedly. "Oh, that should be something cool," he said casually, ignoring the horrified looks of those around him. "Open it! Let's see!"

"Okay, okay!" she said, waving him back. "Let's get this over with." And she opened the box.

Every sixth-year in the Great Hall disappeared. In their place, over forty lizard-like amphibians sat, blinking beady black eyes in complete bewilderment. Laughter sputtered around the Hall.

Ginny picked up the lizard nearest to her. "Newts," she muttered. "Just remember you asked for it, Urameshi."

Yuusuke-newt stuck his tongue out at her and slid back onto the table. Clumsily, he crawled onto his goblet, peering towards the Ravenclaw table with his tail flicking.

Colin Creevy gingerly picked up the note that had accompanied the package. "Well," he said, after a moment, "It should wear off after five minutes or so, according to the note. They don't want anyone to 'miss expanding the horizons of their knowledge'... I think that was supposed to be sarcastic."

Ginny regarded the Yuusuke-newt with a bemused expression, then took the letter. "They're dead men," she sighed. "The entire Sixth Year class will be out for blood."

Her words slowly sank in. One by one, the Gryffindors began snickering.

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Date: 2 Sept. 1996

Subject: Hermione Granger

House: Gryffindor

Age: 16

Interviewer: Kingsley Shacklebolt

Summary of conversation: Subject claimed to have not been on train car in question, though admitted to using toilet 5 (see Diagram 1-A) on afternoon of incident. Subject went on to deduce official suspiscion of herself, as evidenced by timing of interview. Subject admitted long-standing grudge towards victim (statement corroborated by many, list attached), highly advanced magical skill (see school transcript, OWL report, Jan. 1993 medical report re: misused Polyjuice), and ongoing private research into several fields of study (see library register, Sept. 1991-June 1996). Further questioning served to agitate subject (see notes, below) on topic of NEWT courseload. Subject requested and was provided with a note for missing class. Subject accepted an apology for poor timing of interview.

Notes: Subject has been advised to refrain from using her wand until such time as it can be examined by Analyst Dubois.

Transcript of conversation attached.

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Granger's return from her interview, late in the morning during Transfiguration, left her, Potter, and Weasley with detentions from Snape and fifty lost points total.

Draco carefully held onto his smirk. It was her own damn fault for missing Potions. And it had been entirely too easy to lead the non-Gryffindors (except Kurama and Yukimura, damn them) in sharing rumors of Granger's guilt. The Aurors wouldn't interview her first if she wasn't the top suspect, now would they.

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Date: 2 Sept. 1996

Subject: Thomas Urquhart

House: Slytherin

Age: 17

Interviewer: N. Tonks

Summary of conversation: Subject expressed cursory interest in case. Subject denied all involvement. When asked about Transfiguration scores, subject informed interviewer to check school transcript (see attached). Subject demanded to see setting of Quick-Quills, was denied due to protocols re: tampering. Subject refused to answer further questions without a barrister present.

Notes: Subject is uncooperative and hostile. Call barrister prior to further questioning.

Transcript of conversation attached.

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Thomas Urquhart was not late to dinner, much to the surprise of his Housemates. The rumor mill was a grand and glorious thing: within an hour (which was when the last classes had ended), every Slytherin knew the details about who, why, and exactly when the first of their number had been summoned by the interviewing Aurors.

According to what Kurama heard, Thomas Urquhart was the top Slytherin student in NEWT-level Transfigurations, and well-ranked in Charms. His family wasn't rich, and their pureblood stance relatively moderate... meaning that, in theory, they didn't object to Muggle heritage, as long as they weren't expected to marry people with any.

In theory, this kept the family completely under the sights of both political camps. In practice, Thomas had lost relatives to both sides in the last war. It seemed highly unlikely that Thomas would wait this long to attack Draco, had the older Slytherin had any issues with that, but still... his abilities and affiliations did put him on the suspect list.

Kurama managed to wrangle a seat within earshot of the studiously placid older boy, and loaded his plate as he waited for the inevitable question.

"That was quick!" one of Urquhart's roommates said pointedly.

Urquhart shrugged, leaning on his elbow. "I demanded my barrister," he said, purposefully loud enough to be easily heard by nearby tablemates... including Kurama. "It's the best strategy," the boy added. "They don't let you see what they've set their Quick-Quotes on."

Quick-Quotes? Kurama wondered. Must be a transcribing device... wait, several students use them in History, don't they?

A first-year, seated closely enough that he had to be one of Thomas' relatives, piped up, "Doesn't that make you look bad, though? Refusing to cooperate?"

"Better to refuse," Urquhart told them seriously, "than to let a propaganda-set quill write a blubbering confession that never happened."

Kurama took a bite of food, adding an understanding hum to the chorus of agreement that went up.

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Date: 3 Sept. 1996

Subject: Orla Quirke

House: Ravenclaw

Age: 12

Interviewer: N. Tonks

Summary of conversation: Subject admitted to spreading word of victim's reappearance, and gave names of fellow gossipmongers (see list, attached). Subject attempted to expound on rumors re: incident, namely the contradictory nature of removing as well as returning victim. Subject gave opinion that there are multiple perpetrators. Subject advised interviewing Weasley family (see: Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes; Fred, George, Ronald, Ginevra Weasley). Subject also advised interviewing various Muggle and animal rights activist groups (see list, attached), Muggleborns, victims of YKW, and various Hogwarts staff (see list, attached).

Notes: Subject seems unreliable.

Transcript of conversation attached.

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Keiko reported that Orla's interview had resulted in a six-hour debriefing with Luna Lovegood, a fifth year Ravenclaw. Rolling her eyes, Keiko added that she wouldn't be surprised if the Quibbler ran a piece about a conspiracy among the Aurors to frame both the Weasley family and the DLF (Dragon Liberation Front) for the summer-time disappearance of Draco Malfoy, when in fact it had been the Aurors who had carried it out from the beginning in order to brainwash the Malfoy heir into betraying his family.

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Date: 3 Sept. 1996

Subject: Rose Zeller

House: Hufflepuff

Age: 12

Interviewer: Kingsley Shacklebolt

Summary of conversation: Subject claims to have observed victim leaving toilet 4 (see Diagram 1-A) at approximately 7 pm on Sept. 1st. Subject did not interact with victim, and is of the opinion that victim seemed abnormally calm. Further speculation indicates that observed abnormality of victim's behavior is due to subject's assumption that victim was aware of disappearance, contradictory to victim's statement. Subject proceeded to burst into tears and deny all involvement.

Notes: Further questioning is not advised.

Transcript of conversation attached.

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By lunchtime on Wednesday, the whole school knew that little Rose Zeller had fled from her interview sobbing. She'd been found an hour later in Moaning Myrtle's toilet, with three second-year Slytherins outside the door loudly discussing how the Aurors were going to arrest every person they interviewed. Said Slytherins shortly found themselves in the hospital wing with bat wings in place of their ears, courtesy of a quick-wanded Ravenclaw.

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Date: 3 Sept. 1996

Subject: Botan Shinime

House: Hufflepuff

Age: 16

Interviewer: N. Tonks

Summary of conversation: Subject reiterated claim to have slept in compartment 9, car 13 (see Diagram 1-A) through most of Hogsmeade-King's Cross connection (statement corroborated, see list attached) in June. Subject does not recall seeing victim until morning of Sept. 2nd, as was near the back of the crowd. When questioned re: core magic (materialization of flying oar), subject demonstrated (see photograph, attached). Subject permitted interviewer to examine flying oar. Subject claims typical lack of skill in vanishing spells (see school transcript, attached).

Notes: Witnesses do not recall seeing a broom rider outside the train at any point on the days in question.

Transcript of conversation attached.

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The Hufflepuffs caught Botan on the Quidditch pitch three hours after her interview. Her hair and robes were sticky with sweat, and bits of grass clung to her. A streak of mud from ankle to ribs showed where she'd crashed at some point in her workout. Two of the girls frog-marched her back to the dorm for a bath and a healthy dose of Calming Potion.

Later, she admitted to the Tantei that she'd been venting her relief at not getting caught. The Hufflepuffs, and in fact the entire school, believed otherwise.

Slowly, inexorably, Hufflepuff House began to close its ranks.

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Date: 4 Sept. 1996

Subject: Hiei Jaganshi

House: Gryffindor

Age: 16

Interviewer: Kingsley Shacklebolt

Summary of conversation: Subject gave evidence that he was not on train at time of first incident. Subject claimed to have eaten lunch at The Three Broomsticks with sister and professor (statement corroborated: Yukina Koorime, Prof. Genkai, Madam Rosmerta), tentatively identified meal (see copy, bill of sale, attached). Subject claimed to have continued to Ben Nevis, reaching the mountain that night (statement could not be verified). On day of return incident, subject claims to have not seen victim until reaching Hogwarts entry hall (statement corroborated: see list attached). Subject claims no quarrel with victim, and that the incident deeply upset his sister (victim's tutor). Subject was openly hostile re: sister's distress.

Notes: Subject could not be reached for interview prior to Sept. 1st.

Transcript of conversation attached.

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By dinnertime on Thursday, the Gryffindors had given up on coaxing Hiei down from the roof. Instead, some enterprising young soul rallied teams of the 4th- and 5th-years in a faceoff of charmwork: Banishing Charms (the 4ths) vs. Summoning Charms (the 5ths), using random debris and Hiei's swordwork. The more pieces an object wound up in, the more points; each round ended when an item was lost off the rooftop or returned into the school.

Hiei pretended not to notice.

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Date: 5 Sept. 1996

Subject: Gregory Goyle

House: Slytherin

Age: 16

Interviewer: N. Tonks

Summary of conversation: Subject inquired if interview would extend through dinner. After some prompting, subject gave opinion that those with Muggle heritage or lack of money could not have overpowered victim. Subject eventually offered list of possible suspects (see attached).

Notes: List given does not take into account presence on train or actual abilities as evidenced by school transcripts.

Transcript of conversation attached.

TBC

A/N's -

- vanishing spells are taught in 5th-year Transfiguration. (Best Defense, Ch. 14)

- Thomas Urquhart: "Urquhart" was the Slytherin Quidditch captain in Half-Blood Prince, and therefore is most likely a year older than Harry. (Information: Harry Potter Lexicon) The old Urquhart barony is located near Inverness, Loch Ness, Scotland, and I named the character after an author from the 1600's. (Information: houseofnames dot com)

BONUS: DVD commentary

JoIsBishMyoga: I can't make the first breakfast interesting.

LadyViolet: why not? curious

JoIsBishMyoga: Harry: Woe, I am a cardboard cutout.

Ron: I am a cardboard cutout with a black hole in place of my mouth. Watch me vaccuum up food until I get my course schedule.

Hermione: And you're surprised to have Potions first again... why?

Ron: Because this is a cardboard cutout breakfast and therefore I must whine about Potions.

Harry: Yeah, what he said.

Hermione: Why aren't we doing the canon NEWT selection?

Harry: Because Jo thinks it's weird and everybody's read the canon anyway.

LadyViolet: So?

LadyViolet: Do the first breakfast from Yuusuke's POV when he gets bored and books over to Ravenclaw to torment Keiko

LadyViolet: Because he thinks this looks an awful lot like the breakfast from last year

LadyViolet: oh wait

JoIsBishMyoga: yyyyyyeah

LadyViolet: Yuusuke isn't one of your POVs

LadyViolet: damn it

LadyViolet: do it from Harry's POV, and have it start out normal, but then take a left turn at weirds-ville. Ron's picking at his food. Hermione says "We've got Potions first" and Harry and Ron go "So? How is this different?" And then have Ginny open a package from the twins (and she really should have known better, honestly), and all the Sixth Years get turned into Newts for five minutes, but then they get better.

JoIsBishMyoga: SPUTTER

JoIsBishMyoga: The twins WOULD do that.

LadyViolet: yup.

LadyViolet: Then, everyone gets to deal with newt-ification and interviews