Chapter 17

Author's note:
Yes, I know, I know, I was sad to kill him too, but it was necessary.

and this up date is the last one of my old chapters. I'm working on chapter 19 but real live is running hot on my heels and sometimes I simply lack the energy to turn on the pc, but I NEVER ABANDON A FIC. Don't worry, the up dates might be slow, but they are coming.

And again: I don't own anything, really, not even in the real world so, don't sue.

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Narcisa and Draco stepped out of the fireplace gracefully. They had been to Riddler Mansion quite a few time and knew their way around. They were greeted by the guards as usual. There was always two Death Eaters guarding each entrance to the Manor, the floo was no exception.

There were a few surprises, however. The hallways were much brighter than usual and there were a lot more people coming and going. A lot was going on tonight and no one had said a word about an upcoming attack, which was odd, more than once a party at Malfoy Manor had been used to give fellow Death Eaters alibis.

They were led towards the Riddle infirmary and exchanged worried glances. Maybe Lucius was hurt. But once they entered the waiting room their guide took them to the far end of the room where they could see the Dark Lord talking to three women. Two of them with flaming red hair.

Narcisa could easily recognise them, Weasles.

"What are they doing here? Why is the Dark Lord talking so nicely to them?"

Years of social knowledge were working in her favour, she greeted them all amicably, taking her hint from the way the Dark Lord was treating them. He introduced her to the third woman, Sibil Trelaway, the name did sound familiar but she couldn't put her finger on it. Draco was the one who solved the mystery for her.

"Mrs. Weasley, Miss Weasley, Professor Trelaway"

The two red heads were a mess, their faces were red and swollen like they had been crying for hours… which was not unusual or unexpected, but they were not in the dungeons, didn't seem to be hurt, there were no blood anywhere, nor chains and… did they had tea cups on their hands? Draco was at lost.

"Ah! Mrs. Malfoy, young Draco, how nice of you to join us in such short notice" the Dark Lord was being… civil? Narcisa started to feel a sting of fear. The Dark Lord was never civil unless he was about to became extra vicious with you.

"We come as soon as we received your message, my lord" said Narcisa as she and Draco bowed.

"Yes, and I am in great need of your assistance, my dear lady Malfoy. Sibil, dear, would you escort young Mr. Malfoy here to see his father. I don't think he will be particularly entertained with our conversation here. The matters discussed downstairs will be much more of his liking."

Narcisa froze and felt Draco tense under her hand. He was been taken to the dungeons, way from her and in to a chamber of torture. If the Dark lord wished he could be held down there suffering for days, and if Lucius had done something wrong in the Dark lord eyes… he would have no second thoughts about inflicting on the son the punishment for the father, but there was no backing up now.

She watched as her son and the professor left the room and turned her attention to the trio sitting in front of her, maybe she could do something to undo whatever it was that made the Dark lord send Draco to the dungeons.

"Mrs. Malfoy" started the Dark lord "the reason I called you here is because I need a clear and collected mind to help me find a solution for a delicate matter"

"How may I help my lord?"

"You see, Mrs. Weasley here just suffer a terrible loss…" Narcisa felt her worse nightmares were about to come true "and since you so well no how to make the general public believe on your version of the story, we would like you to help our dear friend here to… share a more ministry friendly version of the facts"

Narcisa took a few seconds to fully understand what was been said. There was no punishment, no anger to be dealt with, she was there because the Dark Lord needed her expertise in cover ups. She felt the iron grip around her heart began to loosen and she regained her usual poise as she gathered the details she needed to… adapt the facts.

"So" Narcisa thought over what she had heard and filtered the facts she needed "Dumbledore manipulated Harry's life even before it had begun. Set up a girl to become his love interest and when that didn't work out he…" she turned to Molly, her new friend as it seems "I'm sorry to put it in such crude terms, dear… took out the competition?"

"Exactly" said the Dark Lord.

"and now, if we are to do something about it we have to find a way to hide from him that we know all about his participation in the attack…"

The Dark Lord nodded.

"but he does know that there was an attack, so we need to give him some results… and since he is the headmaster we can not hide the passing of one of his students from him"

Narcisa took a sip from her tea thinking about the problem before her. They had one dead body, one injured young man and the girl in front of her had reached her limit. What could it be done?

"I know I will sound terribly cold hearted but here is what I think we should do: There is a reception tonight on the Ministry. You and your husband have to be there"

"What?" said Molly shocked.

"It's a very important reception for the French Ministry of magic. In this reception there will be an incident and your husband will solve it… don't worry I've known Marcel for years, it can be arranged, he is also a faithful follower"

"That is true, but I don't see how this will help, my dear" said the Dark Lord.

"Molly, you never went home because you went to buy yourself a new dress… a present from the twins who now have a rather successful store. You went from… wherever you were to the twins shop were you got the message from your husband, you send your youngest home to get things ready and went to buy your dress, you have no idea what happened yet"

"but…" Molly was still confused.

"No, dear, let me finished" said Narcisa holding her hand "since your husband will make such a good impression tonight, he will be nominated the Liaison Officer to our friends in the continent. Then you will go home to find the horrible news, the young man injured may attest it was a Death Eater attack and you will be heart broken, Mr. Potter will be terribly distraught and so on and so forth… since Ginny took it so badly she will need to get away for awhile and as the new Liaison officer your husband will be offered to take her to Beaux Battoux for the next school year. Let's face it, it has been quite a lot for her to handle so far, if we put her in front of Dumbledore she will crack, besides it is a lovely school for any young lady" she said smiling at Ginny. Everything on the girl screamed liability, it was actually for the best if she went away. One look at the Dark Lord showed her she had said the write thing, he wasn't comfortable with the though of sending the girl back to Dumbledore the way she was.

"I don't know…" Molly started, but the Dark Lord settle the question.

"It will put her out of danger, Molly" and that was it. Ginny was going to France.

"Well, now we took care of why Molly wasn't there, Ginny's safety…" said Narcisa "and refinement" she thought before going on "the injure and the casualty… let's see… why didn't the attackers go back to Dumbledore? Why did they leave one alive? Well, this one is easy, so they could be identified as Death Eaters… or… someone arrived and they had to leave early. Molly, who could have arrived at your house and cause the attack to stop?"

"Remus Lupin" said a voice from the door.

"He would never agree, Sibil" said Molly as Trelaway made her way to the group.

"He would if he knew everything. Do I have your permition, my lord, to seek him and bring him in to the fold?"

"Do you think it is wise, seer?"

"Yes, my lord. He will be a powerful ally."

"Then do it. Bring him before me before the night is over so the whole wizard world can read about the horrible new attack of the Death Eaters in a lovely wizard family"

Trelaway bowed and left, leaving the three of them to elaborate more the story they would be presenting to the world. Ginny was laying with her head on Molly's lap, finally beaten by the sleeping draught they had slip her in her tea.

"That will take care of part of the problem. Now, Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley have to go back or their absence will be noted. Molly needs a new dress. One or both of the twins and… well, Ron, needed to be at the Burrows to be discovered by… auros, we have to find a way to send a distress signal, well, I suppose that after loosing the 'Death Eaters', Mr. Lupin could go back and get help. No problem there. We will send Mrs. Tawer with him, being a med-witch would explain the healing in the wounds. She could be his date or something… and the attacker… oh, well, they simply disappeared. Let Dumbledore worry about them"

"Yes, that is very satisfactory. We will go with that plan" said the Dark Lord "Now, if you ladies excuse me, I have an interrogatory to attend. I will send your husband up, Molly, dear. The two of you have a reception to get ready to"

Voldemort made his way to the dungeons to find Severus and Lucius teaching Harry and the Weasleys how to cast a perfect Crucio spell. The two remaining order members were bruised and bleeding on the floor.

"Severus! Lucius! You started without me! How rude" he said mockingly.

"No, my lord, we haven't asked a single question yet. We were just passing time and teaching our friends here a few 'new' spells" answered Lucius as Snape corrected Arthur's wand movement.

"Well, them, I think it's time for us to begin… but first, Lucius, your wife just came up with the perfect explanation for a few things that happened tonight" said the Dark Lord before putting the man apart of what had been decided upstairs.

Arthur was against it, he wanted to stay and 'help interrogate' the men who had killed his son, but Harry and the others convinced him otherwise. They also promised to wait until he, Harry and the twins returned to actually start asking questions. What helped a great deal in convincing him.

Draco was stunned. He would have never expect to see any of the Weasleys so at easy with the Dark Lord, or anybody else for that matter, much less Harry bloody Potter, but there it was, they were all getting along brilliantly.

More than that. Harry was Snape's son and the Dark lord's grandson, what made him a very interesting life partner, even Lucius would agree. Harry was switching sides and now they could be friends or maybe even more, ok, so he was grieving over the death of his boyfriend, nothing that time and a friendly shoulder to cry on wouldn't cure. Not a problem, now he knew he had the time and the chance of pursuing Potter, he could wait and play his game the way he liked it… knowing that in the end he would win.

Now there was something he could grow very much used to.

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A few days later, Harry was sitting in his bed at Grimmauld place, Shadow sleeping in the pillow next to him. They had just returned from Ron's funeral and he felt numb, not even the knowledge that Mrs. Malfoy's plan had worked flawlessly help improve his mood.

Mr. Weasley had his promotion, Ginny was going to France in a couple of days, the prophet was, for once, printing things the way they wanted, Dumbledore was convinced, Hermione was hitting on him discreetly and Remus was on their side.

He never did find out what exactly Trelaway had said to him, but it seemed to have worked and now all the pieces were falling in to their places.

Snape had returned badly beaten and telling everyone he was able to convince Voldemort he was not a spy, Pettigrew, he said, was dead, but he had no idea why, he did, however caught a glimpse of mad-eye-moody, Mundungus and Kingsley chained to a wall, but he was too weak to do anything at the time. That last piece of information had left Dumbledore quite worried.

Trelaway was still missing, but they had no reason to bring up her name in any conversation, so no one talked about it.

Harry was brought out of his thought by an common looking owl bringing him a letter. He took the letter and read it twice before destroying it with a smile on his face.

"Tomorrow begins faze two of our plan" he said to Shadow.

"Is that good?"

"Oh, that is the best, wait and see. Absolutely the best"

Chapter 18 - The Illusion

Harry made his way through the Ministry with Dumbledore, Remus and Hermione. Fudge was determined to regain some popularity by putting on a big show of just how much he was working to bring Ronald Weasley's assassins to justice… and of course, his first suspect was Harry. That was way Harry found himself at the Ministry just one day after Ron's funeral.

"Good old Fudge. You would think that after so long he would at least learn not to make such a huge PR mistake, I mean, come on, bring the grieving best friend/boyfriend for questioning the day after the funeral and 'leaking' to the press the fact that he considers me a suspect! Not to mention the fact that the whole wizard world knows I'm here today, great security job"

Harry notice Tonks standing near by and smiled at her. She smile at him back a tad nervous and Harry signed, she had an important role to play today, that was a lot at stake for her and Remus and nothing could go wrong. Today's stunt would have to be flawless.

Harry remembered the letter he received not 24 hours ago with the details of what would happen today. It was risky, but nobody wanted to endure the alternative. Family was too important.

"Dear Harry.

I wish I could have been with you at today's ceremony, but we all know we are forced to wait until our present situation is solved one way or the other. I just want you to remember that my thoughts are with you always. I also wish you could have more time to grief, but we need to haste with our plans doe to a small complication, nothing bad, rest assured, but it is something that demands our attention rather sooner than latter.

This letter is fairly safe and it is spelled to look like a mere condolence letter from one of your fans, but it would be wise to read alone or in the presence of our trusted friends only.

As for the matter at hand. It appears our werewolf friend has been busy and now the Wizard World has a new family on the making. Which presents a hole new problem, you see, our steamed ministry has passed a law stating that werewolfs are not allowed to have children… some nonsense about passing the curse on. Totally impossible, the child will be human, only with stronger senses and instincts, but because of that law the werewolf's girlfriend will be forced to… dispose of her child. It is needless to say that both of them are very distress over the matter and asked us for our help, which will be given tomorrow at the ministry. What can I say? It will be a blast, just stay out of the way.

You will, however, be needed to establish confidence on the soon to be the new member of the Order of the Phoenix. The meeting will take place at muggle book store outside the Leaky Caldron, with my position as a spy compromised the old fool will be looking for a new set of eye inside the inner circle. All you need to do is make sure he gets the attention of the right person. Don't over do it.

I have the utmost thrust on you, my son. In spite of everything I have said in the past years, and I know everything will be fine. I'll be waiting to hear from you as soon as possible and, please, do remember to burn this letter as soon as you finish reading it.

Love,

Your father.

PS: The seer sends her regards. What do you think, should I invite her for dinner one of these nights? I do feel the need to thank her for reuniting us.

Harry was brought out of his thoughts by a sickening sweet voice.

"Well, well, Mr. Potter. In trouble again, hummm?" said Umbridge walking up to them in the hallway "It appears you are always in need to come to the ministry to explain yourself"

"Well, of course I do, the ministry is not competent enough to perform a simple task and add two and two together, so I always have to come here and show you the wrong of your ways, not that Fudge has enough brain power to comprehend the facts at any case"

"Why you…" Umbridge's face was purple and she pointed her wand at Harry before she could control herself. A flash of light cought her attention. Rita Skeeter and a photographer from the Daily Prophet were standing not five feet away from them.

"Madame Umbridge, why does the ministry feels necessary to have a wand pointed at Mr. Potter? Can a sixteen year old present such a threat?" and before Umbridge could recompose herself enough to answer Rita has turned to Harry "Mr. Potter, why were you called here? Is it true that you are being charged with your boyfriend's murder? How do you feel about being accused without any evidence again? Are you…"

"Wait, Rita, Darling. How about another exclusive?" Harry could see Umbridge turning a deeper shade of purple at the mere suggestion of an interview, he could clearly remember her reactions to the one he had given the year before. So could she, apparently "Now, that wouldn't be fair of me. Would it? I should wait for the other reporters that are dieing for an interview also…"

Harry could see Umbridge start to sweat.

"Mr. Potter, I do believe the minister is waiting for you, perhaps we should…" but Harry cut her before she could go any further.

"Yes, the ministry. Tell me Mrs. Umbridge, why does the minister finds so important to interrogate me about an attack that I did not witness and where I lost someone who was dearly important to me? And since we are talking about that what security measures did he take to ensure the safety of a minor, namely me, who is a main target for the Death Eaters and had to leave the safety of my house and answer to his accusations of murdering my boyfriend on a, thanks to him, very public event?"

"Well, Mr. Potter, I would hardly call your interrr… interview with the minister, just a friendly interview, a public event…"

"Really?" asked Harry holding the Daily Prophet in front of her, the head line said: Potter will be escorted to the ministry of magic today to explain the murder of Ron Weasley.

"I assure you that this place has the highest security…"

"Yeah, yeah… I've heard that one before, and my… interview with the minister is not suppose to happen for another 20 minutes. Rita, how about that interview?" said Harry offering his arm to the reporter who could not hide her surprise or her pleasure while taking his arm and walking away from Umbridge, who ran as fast as her legs could carry her to the lifts and disappeared.

Remus was openly laughing while Dumbledore's eyes twinkle like mad. He was quite pleased with Harry. The boy had been nothing but respectful and obedient to him, Mr. Weasley's death had left him too fragile too argue with Dumbledore about anything, but his attitude at the ministry had shown that he was not broken, just back under Dumbledore's control like he should had been all the time. Yes. Dumbledore was quite happy indeed.

Hermione sat at Harry's side while he talked to the reporter. She was also happy, Harry was accepting her presence and support, even seeking her out to talk. Pretty soon he would turn to her looking for comfort now that Ron was out of the picture. Hermione smiled and took Harry's hand pretending to support him while he answered the questions. Everything was going as planed.

Harry had been sitting there for less than 3 minutes before Fudge simply appeared out of nowhere with Umbridge at his side.

"Mr. Potter, It came to my attention we are having a little misunderstanding" he said with a large fake smile.

"Is that so, sir?" asked Harry raising an eyebrow.

Rita Skeeter saw an opportunity to jump in and get her scoop.

"Mr. Fudge, how do you answer the many accusations the ministry has been receiving of trying to incriminate Harry Potter of any crime it can find in order to diverge the publics attention from the fact that so far no a single Death Eater has been arrested ever since the return of the Dark Lord other than the ones Mr. Potter delivered himself?"

That was all it took for all hell to break loose. All of the sudden all the grown ups were yelling at each other and Dumbledore was trying to get them all to shut up and listen, but Fudge and Umbridge were not listening to anybody and were voicing quite loudly the virtues of the ministry while Rita Skeeter's questions became more and more daring.

Harry got up to his feet and turned to Hermione.

"Hermione, let's go. They are not paying attention to us right now and I really need to get away for a while"

"Harry, I don't know…" said Hermione looking at the group arguing a few feet away.

"Don't you want to spend an afternoon with me in muggle London?" Harry said with a smile holding out his hand to her.

Hermione blinked and considered her options for half a second before smiling at him and taking his hand. They ran to the ministry's exit and in a few minutes they were in a cab driving away.

Harry and Hermione spend the whole day walking around muggle London and getting to know the city. Harry bought himself a camera and decided to "immortalize" what he called "their day off". Eventually Harry manage to "discover" a small café where he convinced Hermione to sit for awhile and eat something.

He and Draco nodded at each other and Harry made sure Hermione sat facing the blond wizard.

Sure enough it took less than a minute for Hermione to notice a couple sitting a few tables away and recognize Draco Malfoy. The silver blond teen was kissing a pretty brunette and complete ignoring the rest of the restaurant.

"Oh, God! Harry, look it's Malfoy… with a muggle!"

Harry pretended to look shocked and surprised. Inside he was laughing, everything was going according to the plan.