The beginning…

"These are the facilities that have offered you community service, Mr. Malfoy."

Draco stared at the blank parchment that lay in front of him. He lifted his gaze back to the Minister's assistant, Percy Weasley, and found himself confronted with a polite smile. Unable to tell if Weasley was joking, Draco shoved the parchment back towards him.

"There's nothing written on it," he drawled.

Weasley's mouth twitched and he suddenly let out a chuckle that startled Draco. Shifting in his chair, he offered Weasley a wary look and watched the freckled cheeks slowly become red.

"Not funny?" Weasley looked hopeful, but Draco remained cold.

"Not funny," he said and leant back in his chair, folding his arms in front of his chest. "Where's my list?"

Weasley pointed at the blank parchment. "I'm sorry, Mr. Malfoy. This is everything we can offer you."

"You offer me nothing?" Draco was shocked. Although he knew that after the War it would have been hard for him to find a job, he had not expected that there was not even one person that would engage him even for no money.

"There's nothing I can do. Your name is well-known, Mr. Malfoy," Weasley said and folded his fingers on his desk, forming a perfect triangle on Draco's blank parchment. "The people are scared to work with a former Death Eater from V-Voldemort's inner circle."

"Inner circle? I wasn't engaged in any activity of the inner circle. I was… am a teenager." Draco hoped that his pouting mouth would give him the same advantage that it did during his hearing. Otherwise he would definitely have ended up in Azkaban for his Death Eater activities, instead of only being forced to work for the community. But if no one wanted him to even dispose of the dragon dung at Gringotts, then Azkaban was certainly waiting for him.

Weasley eyed him over the top of his glasses. "We have detailed information in which activities you were involved, Mr. Malfoy."

Apparently, Draco's puppy eyes did not work with Weasley. He tried harder.

"I was scared. Like everyone else," Draco said, leaning forward to make sure Weasley saw every glittery tear Draco forced into his eyes. "Isn't there anything you can do? I don't want to go to Azkaban."

"I can't think of anyone who would want that," Weasley replied dryly.

Draco pressed a hand against his eyes as real tears welled up. Azkaban was as good as a return to the nightmare he had lived during the last year. He would be reunited with a lot of familiar faces, who would love to see him dead because his mother helped Harry Potter. This might have helped him escape Azkaban at first, but it had not rebuilt his reputation in the wizarding community. It certainly had destroyed the last remaining bits of sympathy he had held within the Dark Lord's circle.

Azkaban would be his death.

"There might be another option…" Weasley's voice made Draco look up, hope suddenly flaring in his chest. "You can search yourself –"

Draco interrupted him with a snort. "I barely have time to suck up to someone until he offers me a place to work. The Ministry will send me to Azkaban before that happens."

Weasley pressed his lips into a firm line and stared intensely at Draco. Then he cleared his throat. "I might be able to… to offer you a position."

"At the Ministry?" Draco asked warily.

Weasley laughed. "No, no… a Malfoy at the Ministry… That would be… no…" He laughed again and turned the noise into a soft cough when Draco scowled at him. "I remember you having a talent for Potions, Mr. Malfoy?"