Draco arrived back at Malfoy Manor not knowing what to expect. After Bones had fallen everything had been a blur. Parkinson was fine. He thought that she'd been with Bulstrode, so Millie was probably okay as well. He didn't know about Nott, Baddock, the Greengrasses…
When he walked into the front sitting room, Nott looked across at him. His wand was out and he was healing a gash across Crabbe's shoulder.
No one had died then. The Slytherins knew better than anyone how to go into triage mode. If anyone had been hurt badly their best healer would not be wasting his time on a flesh wound that even Goyle would have been able to handle.
Theo's shoulders tensed as Draco came forward, but his voice came out even. "She's alright then?"
"Yes," agreed Draco, trying to figure out whether the shoulders meant that Nott was worried about him, or angry that he'd left the Slytherins for Bones yet again. "Sorry for leaving you with everything."
"You're not sorry," Nott pointed out mildly.
There wasn't a point in lying. Draco would leave anyone to go to Bones. He knew it wasn't healthy and that it wasn't what Bones would have wanted had she known about it; but he wasn't himself without her. Even when she couldn't remember him, knowing that she was there kept him in check. He didn't want to think about what he'd be if anything did happen to her. He shook his head in answer to Nott's comment. "Thanks for taking care of things," he said instead.
"Parkinson's furious," said Crabbe. A warning, not a reprimand.
Draco sighed. "I'll sort it out."
"Paperwork is something that you sort out, Draco Malfoy. I am not." Pansy strode in, eyes flashing dangerously. "Now, I don't know how you've gotten Nott wrapped around your little finger so suddenly, but don't expect me to go down that easily."
Draco took one look at her before turning to Nott anxiously. They should have come up with a contingency plan when Nott had suggested it.
Nott squared his shoulders, straightening up and turning away from Crabbe. "Parkinson," he said, voice composed and resolute as it always was when he was about to argue with someone.
"No," said Pansy. "We were meant to be together on this. You never liked Bones and I'm never going to forgive her."
"You don't need to worry about forgiving her," said Nott. "You need to talk to Malfoy, and then you can try to forgive him."
Pansy frowned, brows drawing together in a combination of puzzlement and annoyance. "Aside from getting back in contact with that Hufflepuff, Malfoy hasn't done anything wrong."
Nott laughed shortly. "Malfoy makes a business of doing the wrong thing. I think that he was attempting to do the right thing in this case at least, though I doubt that you'll forgive him more easily for that."
"Nott," Draco objected, scowling.
"She has to be told," said Nott. "And it should have been sooner than this."
Draco had forgotten that whenever he refused to come up with contingency plans, Nott would do it for him. Of itself, that was not so bad. It was just that Nott was so much more honest and tactless than Draco was. He didn't consider endgames when he was dealing with friends.
"I have to be told what?" asked Pansy dangerously. "And bear in mind that the only explanation that I want to hear is that you're working your way back into Bones' life so that you can fuck it up as momentously as she did ours. I can get on board with that."
Crabbe's shoulder was all healed, but he scrunched himself into as small as a bundle as he could, eyes darting from one of his friends to the next, looking as though he expected wands to be drawn at any moment. He slid off his chair and sidled out of the room before anyone could rope him into choosing sides.
"Bones' life is already monumentally fucked up," said Nott quietly. It was to his credit that the fact didn't make him happy, or if it did he hid it well.
"I'm delighted," said Pansy, voice high with emotion. Not solely anger, either. During the war Pansy had combed through every copy of the Daily Prophet, searching for information on Bones. Making sure that she wasn't dead. Pansy wasn't superstitious, but even she never tempted fate enough to wish for Bones to die in those long war years.
Sometimes Nott was probably right. The truth had to be easier than these layers of lies that Draco had built up. Draco lowered himself into the armchair by the fireplace and waved a hand at Nott to continue.
"You know the details," said Nott, a hint of frustration creeping into his voice. Draco knew that Nott hated having to shoulder responsibilities that weren't his, but he was so good at it.
"I don't wish to share details," said Draco, leaning back into the cushions of his chair, feet stretched towards the fire. If he could have left Nott to the explanation alone, he would have walked out. Someone needed to be around for the fall-out though. With Parkinson there was always fall-out.
She shot him a suspicious look. "What is he babbling about?"
"You remember how Bones didn't want anyone finding out that she was spending time with Malfoy at Hogwarts?" Nott asked.
Pansy licked her upper lip, shooting a worried glance at Draco. Oh yes, she remembered. Draco had thrown the temper tantrum from hell and subsequently been unbearable for days when he had realised that Bones was hiding him. Only weeks earlier, when he'd thought that she was concealing their relationship for his sake, he'd been pleased with it.
"What has that got to do with anything? She's always been ashamed of being seen with Slytherins so we're meant to forgive her for it?"
"Except that she was never ashamed of being seen with you," said Nott. "Or of being seen with Vince, Greg or Millie."
Pansy's eyes narrowed. "Just Malfoy?" She still sounded angry about the situation, but Draco could tell that she was beginning to see that there might be more to it. "Good for her, but when she dumped Malfoy; she dumped all of us as well. So obviously…"
"She never dumped Malfoy."
The Slytherins all spun toward the doorway. Hermione Granger undid her cloak at the throat and pulled it off her shoulders, folding it over her arm.
"One of the House-Elves let me in," she said by way of explanation.
Draco was already half out of his chair. "Is Bones..?"
"She's fine," said Hermione. "I came here to see you actually. I was going to go to the library but then I realised that you had all the information I needed and it would be easier to just ask."
"Ask what?" demanded Pansy.
"Ask whether Bones' parents wiped her memories," said Hermione.
Draco's heart skittered as any control he might have had over the situation imploded. He cast a desperate glance toward Theo.
"We have nothing to discuss with you," said Nott, eyes flinty but steady.
Pansy had hated Bones with a steely determination for five years. She had single-handedly and ruthlessly hexed any of her friends who dared mention Bones until they no longer did. Draco was pretty sure that Pansy had sent Bones a letter on the anniversary of her Aunt Amelia's death. The words 'if You-Know-Who hadn't killed her, the way you turned out would have' might have been used. And despite all of that, she pushed her hair behind her ear and looked Granger up and down. "Bones' parents wiped her memories," Pansy said. Draco knew that it was meant to be a question, but it came out like a statement. As though Pansy had always known that there was some explanation; or as though she had hoped for one so much that she was willing to accept the first that cropped up. She nodded once. "That makes sense."
"Does it?" asked Hermione. "How? What in the world could make a couple physically alter their child's brain?"
"I don't know," said Pansy. "But it makes more sense that they did than that she did."