I own nothing.
Additional Disclaimer: There is a subtle nod to a favorite term of endearment from Supernatural's Bobby Singer later in the chapter. As I wrote the scene, I couldn't but feel as if the man who utters it and Bobby would be kindred spirits and had to add it.
Harry knew he held something very dangerous in his hands. He should have known the minute he touched it that it was not meant for his eyes. When he showed it to Daphne, her reaction spoke volumes.
"You took the girl's diary!" she yelled, followed by a hard punch to Harry's shoulder.
"I didn't mean to…I mean I did mean to…I mean I wasn't thinking," he stammered.
"You're damn right you weren't thinking!" She then angrily shoved him. "Honestly, Harry, taking a girl's diary is like stealing her knickers and wearing them on your head."
"Hey now, I'm not talking about some girl's knickers," he fired back defensively.
Daphne's voice then went extremely low, almost like she was possessed. "You better not!"
Harry felt a chill crawl up his spine. He had messed up before, but this seemed like a new level of anger. He could only hope his explanation would pacify her somehow. "I just…I thought it was suspicious, that's all. No one goes to Myrtle's bathroom, but she has. I thought she may have seen something and, maybe, she wrote about it in here," he pointed and lightly waved the book.
"And did she?" Her eyes still blazing with the desire to cause him harm.
"No…I mean…" he continued to struggle to find his voice. "I-I wasn't really try to read it all. A lot of it had to do with...errr…"
"Personal things," she offered as if it was the only possible thing a person could find in a personal diary.
Harry liked that answer. "Personal things." And a whole lot of lovey-dovey doodles of her and Danny. The girl really needed a reality-check.
"Really now?" she said, replacing her death stare for a faux state of shock. "And why would that be?"
"Because it's a diary," He replied meekly, barely able to meet her eyes.
Daphne started hitting him again. "I can't believe you did this!"
"Hey!" he cried as he fought to make her stop. It took a moment, her punches were wild and random, but he finally managed to grab hold of her arms. "Instead of hitting me, you could, I don't know, help me!"
"It's simple, you idiot!" She ripped her arms out of his. "Give it back to her," she said like it was most obvious thing in the world.
"It's not that simple. Lockhart obliviated the whole thing. I can't just go up to her and hand it back without an explanation."
All anger suddenly disappeared from her face as Harry witnessed yet another near smile. "I have a wonderful idea."
"Oh Harry, you've murdered us." Fred said with despair.
"Sweet Merlin, Fred," George wrapped a comforting arm around his brother's shoulder. "There was so much we wanted to do before we died."
"It can't be that bad," Harry responded drily.
"You don't know Ginny like we do." They said at the same time, like they had a secret no one else knew.
George then started to explain. "Mum was always a bit overprotective—"
"—and lenient—" Fred quickly added, as if it was a complete injustice that they weren't afforded the same benefit.
"—being her only daughter after six sons and all."
"She may act shy while she's here, but, at home, she runs the house."
"Alright, I get it." He interrupted the twins. "But can't you just chalk it up to another one of your pranks?"
They both shook their heads. "We don't prank Ginny. Not after the first time."
"Do you know what her first bit of accidental magic was?" Both of them shuddered.
"Imagine your boogies flying out your nostrils, shaped like bats, and start punching you in the eyes," George said as he mimed the effect of the spell.
"Did you know there's a Bat-Boogie Hex? What deranged mind could possibly envision such a mockery of nature?"
Harry could tell that this more than just the twin's usual melodrama and that the two actually feared their little sister's reprisal. "I'm sorry, mates, I'll make it up to you, I swear."
"Oh bloody hell," Fred suddenly said with wide eyes. He turned to his brother. "What if Bill finds out? He gave her that diary."
George pitifully turned to Harry. "It was nice knowing you, Harry."
"Remember us fondly."
"Plan to be in the library in an hour. I'll pick the back table, the one we used to meet at, and leave it there for you to pick up," Harry said as way of goodbye.
"It's our final hour, Fred."
"Let us live it well, George."
The next day, there was a noticeable limp in the way Fred and George walked into the Great Hall. They had large, blood-stained cotton swabs up both nostrils and were easily startled by any one passing them. If it had been a different day, Harry would have expected Daphne to be humming happily, maybe even see another near smile. But a very unsettling thing was occurring at the Slytherin table.
Harry and Daphne were the only ones present.
Slytherin House was still the only house with nearly all its members in Hogwarts. The odds that the two of them would be the only ones seated at their table were incredible low. There was something wrong, they both knew it, but neither of them wanted the other to know how worried they were.
Harry could tell, though, by the simple fact that Daphne had attempted to begin eating—without success—about four times already. He found himself staring at the door every few seconds, just waiting for someone from their house to enter the Great Hall. The thought had occurred to him that they should go back to their common room and see what was happening. An idea was growing in his mind (and in Daphne's too, probably) and he wasn't eager to see if it was right. Something was about to happen, however, that was going to force the issue.
Jacobs had just stepped into the Great Hall. He had a very dour expression and didn't seem eager at all to deliver the news he had.
"I'm sorry, sir. I didn't know."
Harry came to his feet, Daphne at his side. "It's alright, Jacobs."
"They want to see you in the common room." Jacobs's eyes drifted to Daphne. "You as well, Ms. Greengrass."
"We were just heading there, anyway." Daphne would never let others see her worried.
Daphne's hand slipped into Harry's as they followed Jacobs back to the Slytherin common room. A fleeting glance behind him and Harry noticed that no one had watched them leave. The twins' odd state held everyone's attention.
The halls were quiet, like they always were nowadays. Only the clip-clap of their feet made any sound. Both Harry and Daphne knew what they were likely walking into and their minds raced on how the matter would be approached.
Harry went through the wall first. He was immediately met with the sight of the entire Slytherin body standing and waiting. Harry was soon joined by Daphne and Jacobs, who both stood behind him.
"Thank you, Jacobs." Draco emerged from the crowd. Harry would have expected to see one of Draco's trademark smirks, but, at the moment, he was all business.
Both Daphne and Jacobs took the step forward to stand directly beside Harry with Daphne on his right and Jacobs on his left. Turning to Jacobs, Harry spoke softly enough that no one could hear him.
"Get over there, Jacobs."
A moment of indecision flashed across Jacobs's face. Harry could tell there was some defiant sense of loyalty that might make Jacobs remain at his side, but Harry could not allow it.
"Go." Harry said with finality.
The two locked eyes and Harry's message became clear. He was trying to save the young Slytherin again. With unspoken words, Jacobs conveyed his gratitude and continued loyalty before he reluctantly joined the rest of the Slytherins.
Harry then turned to Daphne but it was only to gain a little extra fortitude. He knew with absolute certainty that she would always remain at his side.
"I want you to know before we begin that I take no pleasure in this," Draco said with surprising dignity.
Harry, not fooled for a moment, folded his arms. "Get on with it, Malfoy."
"Of course." The first trace of a smile played across Draco's face. "Harry Potter, you have been found unworthy as leader of Slytherin House."
"Who thinks they are capable of replacing me?" Harry flicked his wrist and his wand appeared presently. His intent was not lost on anyone. The only one to not step back in caution was Malfoy.
"I will, as decided by the house." He gave a quick glance at Harry's wand. "Would you challenge their decision all at once?"
Harry knew that even with his superior dueling skills that he stood no chance against them all. Looking across the crowd, most had no ill intent, but there was still a fair number that stood ready to back up Malfoy's words. He felt a hand on his back grab a fistful of his robes, out of sight of the rest. He would look to Daphne to assure her that he was not planning to strike but he would not be seen turning away from the challenge before him; more precisely, Draco Malfoy.
'It would seem that Draco has finally decided to adopt more of his father's ability to play the room.' Another flick of his wrist and Harry's wand retreated up his sleeve.
"I thought not." Malfoy turned and smiled at the people behind him. "For too long, this house has been held back by you. Forced to follow rules preventing us from showing our clear superiority." Draco spoke as if campaigning and it became clear the kind of the things he'd been saying to persuade people against Harry. "Forcing us to acknowledge those beneath us. It's a small wonder as to how you didn't lose your prefect badge sooner: the first Slytherin to ever do so."
"I've heard enough, Malfoy." Harry could only listen to so much of Malfoy's drivel.
"And yet I'm not finished speaking," was Malfoy's immediate answer.
'Maybe not all his father's tricks.' A better wizard would know when to accept his victory and not antagonize a still dangerous foe. Harry would remain silent and allow Malfoy to dig his own hole before he had even started his 'rule.'
"That hurts, doesn't it Potter, having to follow my rules now." Draco now sought to speak more to the room than to just gloat at Harry. "And they begin with this house once again showing its power over the others. They are weak, now more than ever, while we are still strong." Draco raised an empowering fist. "This school is ripe for the taking and we will act to solidify our control. It'll be as it was always meant to be, just as the noble Salazar Slytherin intended it. For 'what a Slytherin wants…'"
"'…They find a way to get it.'" The rest of the house finished along with Malfoy.
Harry felt his mouth drop slightly and noticed Daphne step level with him in shock. Both saw the same thing in Draco's face and neither of them could believe it. Shock then quickly gave way to anger.
Harry slowly took the few necessary steps to be close enough to speak so that only Malfoy could hear him.
"We should speak privately," Harry said quietly through gritted teeth. It was taking all his will power not to lash out.
"I don't think that will be necessary," Draco replied, a condescending sneer on his face.
As it turned out, Harry had only so much will power. In an instant, his wand appeared again and he held it against Malfoy's throat.
"I insist," Harry growled.
Before Malfoy could respond, Harry noticed movement from the corner of his eyes. Harry quickly pointed his wand at the crowd.
"He's right. I can't take on all of you, but it will take more than one." Harry took aim at multiple targets. "So who wants to be first?"
Not everyone was even willing to attack him, and those who were most likely would stay true to their Slytherin nature. In that no one was willing to go first. After all, that was why there were 'lesser' people.
Harry returned his wand to Draco, digging it deeper into his throat. "I think it's time for us to speak alone, Malfoy. Have a proper transfer of power."
Malfoy took the second he needed to assess the situation, before he turned his head to the crowd and gave them a nod. Very slowly, the crowd made their way out of the common room, either down the staircase to the dorm rooms or into the dungeon hallway to parts unknown. Crabbe and Goyle were the last to leave; ever the faithful bodyguards.
Once they were alone, Harry dropped his wand in favor of grabbing Malfoy by the collar.
"Tell them this isn't why you did this," Harry demanded forcefully.
"Did what?" Draco responded with feign ignorance.
"You risked people's lives just so you could be in charge of Slytherin House." Daphne interjected in disbelief.
Draco looked at her before turning his attention back to Harry. "I did nothing of the sort. I'm just showing what it truly means to be a Slytherin by taking advantage of a most fortuitous situation."
"Fortuitous!" Daphne exclaimed in disbelief.
"Who, Malfoy?" Harry demanded with a violent shake, tightening his grip on Malfoy's collar. "Who are you using?"
"No one. Like I've said, I have done nothing." Malfoy replied with a practiced ease.
Harry let him go with a violent jerk. "You're the lowest form of scum, Malfoy."
Draco made a show of straighten his robes. "At least I won't end up in Azkaban. Father says it'll be any day now before the Board forces Lockhart to make an arrest. I wonder who he'll choose. I mean, all the evidence points toward you and when the attacks stop after the Aurors drag you away, that will seal it, won't it?" Malfoy's weasel smile spread across his face.
"You're not getting away with this, Malfoy."
"Don't be so cliché, Potter." Malfoy smirked. "And you can't prove a thing."
"You'll see what I can do, Malfoy." Harry's eyes blazed in anger and seemingly for the first time in this whole encounter, Malfoy started to understand what that meant. "And trust me on this: you won't like it."
Malfoy smiled faltered slightly but still stood confidently. "I'm sure." He then slowly sashayed, as if taking a victory lap, out of the common room.
"What do we do, Harry?" Daphne asked.
"I've got to talk to Lockhart." Just then a bell sounded, signaling that classes would begin shortly. Harry appeared annoyed as he mentally checked his class schedule. "We've got Defense after lunch, hopefully nothing changes by then."
"Do you realize what you've done!" Lockhart shouted near hysteria.
"I just found out for certain who's behind the attacks!" Came the equally loud response from Harry.
"And at the same time, revealed to the culprit that they're being investigated!"
Lockhart placed his hand on his desk in frustration. It was clear that public pressure was starting to take its toll on him and Harry suspected that he wasn't accustomed to failing.
"Damn it, Harry!" He violently swiped everything off his desk. "I had maybe one chance to land the biggest story in centuries, let alone my career. The publicity alone would have netted me piles of gold."
"We could still follow Malfoy to his accomplice."
"Only if he is an utter fool! And Draco may be one, but his father is not. And if Lucius Malfoy is involved in any capacity, then you'd be damn certain that Draco is not going to set one foot near the Parselmouth!"
With each word, Harry felt a sense of shame crept up over his impetuous actions. If what Lockhart predicted was true, then he couldn't help but feel responsible for losing this opportunity to bring down the Malfoys. Once again, the anger he thought he was getting under control had reared its ugly head.
"There's got to be a way we can still catch him."
"There is." Lockhart stared Harry right in the eyes. Both knew exactly what that plan was. They continued to stare at each for a moment with Harry remaining steadfast that he would not allow himself to be bait.
"Any other ideas."
Lockhart dropped his head, visibly shaking from the frustration as he balled his hands. The Defense professor knew he couldn't pressure Harry into being bait. It would be incredibly dangerous and if something went wrong, not even a successful defeat of the infamous Slytherin Monster would overshadow the scandal of the death of the Heir Apparent of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Potter.
Meanwhile, Harry was racking his brain for a solution to the problem he had created. If only they had suspected Draco when Creevey had been attacked, Harry could have been tracking him on the Marauder's Map. He even had the thought of allowing Lockhart to use it. It was then that Harry suddenly had an outlandish idea, one he hoped that his family could help him pull off.
"Professor, if we can't catch Draco now, what if we could find where he's been in the past."
Lockhart definitely looked like he wanted to roll his eyes. "Mr. Potter, I realize you're young and haven't learned everything about magic, like I have, but it does have its limits. So, I'd appreciate it if you didn't waste my time with inane ideas."
Harry couldn't stop an arrogant tone when he spoke next, not after all the times of having to listen to Lockhart talk down to him. "Have you ever heard of the Maruaders, Professor?"
"Can you do it, Dad?"
James looked like Harry had just spoken French. "You want to know if I can do what?"
"Change the map so that it shows where a person has been instead of where they are currently."
James had to lean back in his wheelchair as he tried to wrap his head around the notion. Change the Maruader's Map? What an outrageously insane idea!
"Dad?" Harry asked to get his father's attention. James must have been silent for a while.
"I'm not the one to ask, Harry." James replied as he rubbed the back of his head. "My part in making it…well…let's just say we kept the details from each other so that we could never make another without all of us being involved. Specifically, I was more in charge of security." He couldn't remember all the different password phrases he had thought up before finally settling on 'I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.' And keeping it from bursting into flames should someone speak the wrong password had certainly been a long and arduous task.
"Is Uncle Moony there?"
"Moony couldn't help you either." Moony was involved in much of the spell work, but it was more about getting the map to see through any concealments, like invisibility cloaks and people in their Animagus form. Being able to study James's cloak and that they were all Animagi had certainly helped crack that challenge, though they never could get anyone under James's cloak to show up, but that cloak had always been unique.
'It's an old family heirloom.' James would always say because not even he knew its origin.
"Sirius?" Harry asked incredulously.
"Ha! Definitely not." In truth, Sirius hadn't done very much. Padfoot had many talents; spell-crafting and enchantments were not among them. A soft smile played across his face at the thought of what Sirius had contributed.
'Who knew that Sirius's pretty handwriting would come in handy?' James had to chuckle at the thought. To be fair, Sirius had also written the jokes that would insult whomever tried to dissect the map, but really, it had been his neat and pretty handwriting that helped make the map possible.*
"Peter?" Harry sounded even more dumbfounded.
"A lot of people underestimate Peter, but he probably knows more about that map then all of us combined. If what you're asking for is possible, he'd be the one to do it."
James let out a small chuckle. "He's around here somewhere." James had a look around, but he was alone. "I'll let him know he's needed at Hogwarts. Should be there by tomorrow."
"Thanks, Dad." Harry said with some uncertainty.
"Give Peter a chance, Harry, he may surprise you."
Apparently having someone visit Hogwarts while under Auror guard was a tad more difficult than Harry had expected. Nominally, it was still the Headmaster (or, for now, Deputy Headmistress, as McGonagall hadn't officially taken the office yet) that decided who could come and go, but it was the Aurors that were truly in charge. Luckily, Lockhart had insisted that Peter Pettigrew be let through for he was going to play a vital role in taking down the monster and the matter was cleared.
Watching Peter Pettigrew walk into Lockhart's office was never something Harry would consider inspiring. There was no denying that the most unassuming of the Marauders was nervous being there. Harry felt the same way but tried to put on a brave face—this had been his idea, after all—when he introduced Lockhart to Peter.
"Hello Gild…Mr. Lock…Professor Lockhart." Peter finally managed as the two shook hands.
Lockhart, for what it was worth, didn't reveal any sign of an opinion of the man Harry had sworn could solve their problems.
"Welcome, Mr. Pettigrew. I understand you know of something that could help us."
"I'll try my best."
"Excellent! Now could explain what that means?"
Pettigrew almost appeared confused by the question. Harry quickly stepped in. "When Peter and my parents were in school, they were able to make a map of Hogwarts that shows where any person is at any moment."
"Yes, Harry, I understood that when you told me." Lockhart cast a glance at Peter again, as if not believing that the wizard before him was capable of something so unique. "And a few months ago, your possession of such a map would have made a case against you very easy. But, I'm asking Mr. Pettig—"
"Peter, please, call me Peter."
"—Peter, how he is going to do what you said he could do."
Peter didn't immediately realize that he was being addressed or that Lockhart expected an answer. "Oh! Right! Ummm…I'm really not supposed to reveal anything about the map."
Harry nodded his head knowingly. "Marauder Law," he said to Lockhart.
"Yes, indeed," said Peter in agreement.
Lockhart looked like he couldn't believe he was in such a situation. "Very well. What do you need?"
Harry reached into his robes to pull out said map. Peter's eyes lit up when he first saw it. When Harry handed it over, Peter received it with absolute reverence.
"I never thought I would hold this again." Peter traced the edges and ran his hands gently over every inch of the old parchment. He leaned in and closed his eyes. "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good," he whispered as to a lover.
As the map came to life, Peter began inspecting it top to bottom and front to back before he let out an excited yelp. "It's just like how I remember it. Haha! Look! McGonagall is pacing in the headmaster's office. Dumbledore used to always do that, too."
"Peter!" Lockhart was doing everything he could to restrain himself. "If you'd please. We are in a bit of a time crunch here."
"So sorry, it just brings back so many memories," he said with a warm smile to Lockhart and Harry. "I'll need a quiet place to work."
"So you can do it?" Harry asked hopefully.
"We'll see," Peter said playfully.
That was not the answer Lockhart wanted. He tried to put on his best smile, but his tone was very passive aggressive. "I want to be very clear, Peter, if you don't succeed, then my investigation is effectively over." A quick, guilt-inducing glance was given to Harry. "I would highly encourage you to try your very best." Lockhart finished slowly and deliberately.
"Y-Yes, of course. Where can I work?" Gone, once more, was the air of confidence from Peter.
"My office." Lockhart pointed to the door behind him.
"Thank you." Pettigrew gave them both a nervous glance before he scurried into Lockhart's office. It was after he shut that door, that Lockhart turned to Harry.
"I am not filled with an overwhelming sense of calm here."
"He can do it." Harry proclaimed, trying to convince himself more than anything.
"He better," replied Lockhart, trying to stay positive, but there still seemed to be a large amount of doubt in his eyes. "My publisher is getting quite impatient." It was like he was watching the galleons slip through his fingers.
Harry could not believe it. How could all Lockhart care about still only be about money and fame? Harry took a seat on the top of one Lockhart's desk.
"Professor?" Harry asked, just to get Lockhart's attention. "Why do you do it?"
"What?" Lockhart didn't know what Harry was asking about.
"Why do you do this kind of work?" Harry clarified.
One of Lockhart's dazzling smile slowly spread across his face. "If I had a galleon for every time that I'm asked that question, I'd never have to write another book."
It seemed like that all Lockhart was going to say on the matter, but then he soon spoke again and took a seat next to Harry.
"Tell me, Harry, if I asked you to name a famous Auror, you'd have an answer, wouldn't you?"
Harry did. His father had told him plenty of the great Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody and all the things he accomplished during Voldemort's war. And that was just the first name that came to mind.
Sensing that Harry could, Lockhart then asked. "How about just any famous wizard? There are many, are there not?" Harry nodded but still didn't know what Lockhart was getting at.
"So imagine you're me." Lockhart stared off wistfully. "Your whole life, people have told you that you will do extraordinary things. That you have the possibility of becoming the most talented wizard of a generation. That one day, everyone will know your name." Lockhart turned back to Harry. "And you want it. You need it. But not just be the best of a generation, but of all time.
"But then you realize, the world has been filled with greatness for a long time. All the impactful wizards and witches in our history, it's hard to see where there is room for little old me, is it not?" Lockhart held up a finger. "But then I realized something. The entire pantheon of great wizards all had a single path in life that allowed them to shine. Aurors, healers, alchemist, sorcerers, spell-makers, school-builders," he finished grandiosely while waving his hands to all around them.
Harry finally started to see the point. "But no hunters."
"Right in one, Harry, yes. In the long history of dark creature hunters, none had sought to make themselves known, and there's a very simple reason. It's not why they do it. Every fellow hunter I've ever met does so because they've experienced loss. A spouse, a parent, a child, taken from them in an instant by one creature or another. They're broken people, Harry, truly. They hunt, they kill, and then they hunt again. They'll hunt until they finally meet their match, the one that will end their misery. And when that's your life, you lose everything about yourself that makes you a human being. There's a very simple reason why people like Lord Malfoy think so little of them, I can tell you. Not a good reason, mind you, but you get the point."
Harry felt like he'd been told something he had always known, and yet, forgot. They were stories he'd read about. Stories of a magical creature that was killed or of a wizard that was killed by a creature. Harry had never given them, especially the people involved, much thought. An entire branch of society that were overlooked and looked down upon, and while Harry's mind would never go the route of Lockhart, he understood the opportunity that it presented for a person with ambition.
"So why do I do this, Harry, because no one else has and in a world like ours, that is a rare thing indeed."
Lockhart had finished and had given Harry a lot to think about. He understood that there was an aspect of wealth and fame that Lockhart wasn't mentioning behind his motivation, but that wasn't what Harry was focused on. There was a parallel, no matter how slight, that he tried to ignore between Lockhart's story and his own life, but the truth was unavoidable. Harry didn't need a history of amazing wizards and witches to compare himself to, he only had to look to his closest kin. Would he ever become like Lockhart? He was powerful, he was smart, he had the potential to be the best of his generation.
But his brother was Daniel Potter. How could Harry ever compare to the power of his little brother? Sure, Danny was hiding what he truly was capable of, but the day would come when no one could doubt his power. And on that day, where would Harry be? Could there come a day when Harry desperately sought a place of his own? To add his name to the history books as more than a relative to someone famous?
Harry violently shook the thoughts from his head. Not because he had an answer but because Lockhart's office door opened.
"I think, maybe, it's ready." Peter announced timidly.
Lockhart immediately twirled around the edge of the desk and hopped off, as if he hadn't just wreaked havoc on Harry's world, and gave Pettigrew the first genuine smile since his arrival.
"I never doubted you for a second, Peter. Let's see what you've accomplished."
Peter timidly returned the smile and gave a nervous glance to Harry at Lockhart's sudden enthusiasm. Harry motioned for him to continue, he couldn't really explain Lockhart's idiosyncrasies to him right now, could he?
Peter walked over and placed the map onto the table.
"We must be very delicate. I've changed, I think, the map to do what you need, but it could backfire, literally, if we push it too hard."
"What do you mean?"
"The map will burst into flames if we mess up," Peter stated bluntly.
"I'm willing to risk it," said Lockhart, but he didn't have the emotional connection to the map like Harry and Peter.
"Why don't you handle the spell work then, Peter?" Harry offered.
"Ummm…yeah, ok." He did not seem very confident. Peter placed his wand to the top edge of the map and swiped down. A small menu appeared with a series of runic symbols. He then taped one that Harry vaguely recognized as something to do with tracking.
"Was that always there?" Harry asked.
Peter's cheeks flushed red. "Don't tell your Dad. I kind of added it without the others knowing."
"T-there was a-a girl that I-I…" Peter suddenly found his shoes very interesting.
Harry didn't need to hear more. He now had a very uncomfortable thought as to why the map was created in the first place. It didn't help that save for Remus, all the Marauders fit the concept as well.
"Right, so where is Malfoy?" said Lockhart, sensing a need for a change in the conversation. Harry was grateful for it.
"Check the Slytherin common room."
They flipped open the map to show the dungeons. It didn't take very long to find Draco's dot moving around inside his room. Peter tapped it with his wand and the rune attached itself.
"Ok, now for the really tricky part."
"What's going to happen?"
"The map will work in reverse."
"Like going back in time, like a Time Turner," Lockhart simplified.
"Sort of, I managed to convince the map that it made a mistake and must correct it." A small smile appeared on the edge of Peter's mouth. "She doesn't like to make mistakes."
Harry ignored the odd use of pronouns. "What's next?"
"Well…I try not to mess up." Peter laughed nervously.
"You'll do well, I'm sure," encouraged Lockhart.
Peter began to wave his wand over the map repeatedly. Harry's eyes locked in on Malfoy's dot and watched it slowly stop moving forward and start to backtrack.
"It's working." Lockhart almost sounded surprise.
As the dot began to move more quickly, Harry realized something. "How will we know when Malfoy meets the Parselmouth?"
Lockhart was silent as he processed Harry's question, but then, his eyes lit up. "You! We watch for when you were at the prefect bathroom with Ms. Chang. Malfoy would have had to meet the Parselmouth soon before that happened." Lockhart then went to one of his desk drawers and pulled a stack of parchment. He flipped through it furiously until he triumphantly pulled one of them out.
"Auror Hume had him going to the library that night. Right after you went to the prefect bathroom. He must have gone on a little and quick detour because he still reported on time to Auror Locke."
"That was three weeks ago." Harry eyed Peter who was still repeating the same wand motion over the map. He didn't want to doubt Peter, but that was a lot of time to move back. Harry hoped Peter could manage it.
"Don't worry, Harry. I can do this." Peter began to move faster which caused the same to happen to Malfoy's dot. It was risky, if Peter didn't repeat his wand motion in the same exact way each time, then things would end in fire.
It took them a moment to find Harry's dot on the map. They couldn't afford to stop the process to place a tracker on it, so Harry kept a close eye on it while Lockhart watched Malfoy.
Minutes that felt like hours passed. Sweat was starting to fall profusely down Peter's face and he was breathing heavily. Harry wanted to ask if it were possible for them to take a break so he could rest, but was afraid that it would break Peter's concentration.
"We're getting close, I think," whispered Lockhart. He also could sense that Peter was straining to keep up the wand movement.
Harry thought they were close, too. His own dot had just left Lockhart's office. It was the third time he had watched that happen and they had only had three meetings after Cho's attack. They only needed to go back four more days.
"At this rate, maybe ten more minutes," said Lockhart.
"I don't want to worry you all, but I have maybe half that left in me."
"Hang in there, Peter," Harry encouraged.
"I'm trying." Peter strained to say.
As they moved closer and closer to the date, Peter's motions started to slow. He was not used to this much extended magic use and what happened next almost seemed inevitable. A spark appeared from one of the map's corners. Harry immediately went to extinguish it.
"No, you can't!" Peter cried. "You can't touch the map. I'm sorry. I'm just so tired." Peter's arms started to shake and his wand movement got sloppier. Soon more parts of the map started to ignite in flames. There was a look in Peter's eyes like he wanted to stop to save the map, but Lockhart quickly interjected.
"No Peter, keep going! We only have a little further to go. A little further and we'll finally have him."
Harry returned his attention to his dot, he was in the Headmaster's office with Dumbledore and Lockhart. It was the night of the attack.
"I…can't…" Peter finally collapsed. The map was fully on fire now.
Harry and Lockhart watched as the last of Peter's magic moved Harry's and Malfoy's dot backwards in time. Harry's was at the prefect bathroom with Cho Chang. Malfoy's was moving quickly along the first floor away from the library and it wasn't taking the most direct route to the Slytherin common room. Instead, it was moving down a corridor that lied just above the Great Hall. A corridor that had only one true destination.
"Merlin's beard," gasped Lockhart.
As the flames engulfed the Maruader's Map, Harry watched Malfoy enter Moaning Myrtle's bathroom and the next name he saw, appearing out of nowhere and only for an instant, was Adrian Grey.
Harry stepped away from the table. His eyes as wide as saucers. He missed a small bubble appearing over Malfoy's name with a word Harry couldn't read, as fire finally took the entire map.
"P-Peter, is it true what you said?" Harry's voice was low and soft, hoping for the answer he desired. "Does the map ever make mistakes?"
"No Harry. She's never failed," Peter answered confidently.
"Who is Adrian Grey?" asked Lockhart.
"He's…he was a friend." One he had hoped to never hear from again.
"An enemy." 'One I help create.' Harry added in his mind. Harry would not accept responsibility for Adrian's mental state, that, he believed, had always been there, but the unleashing of it; that was Harry's burden.
Lockhart and Peter shared a puzzled look. Neither had heard the stories, neither knew the history between Harry and his former first friend. If he had felt it necessary, Harry would tell them, but there was only one thing they truly needed to know.
"He won't stop until he has me."
Lockhart didn't appear that he fully understood but nodded anyway. The obvious change in Harry's demeanor told him enough that the young man was being serious.
"How does Malfoy fit in?" He asked.
Harry searched his memories, trying to find a connection. "It's possible that Draco helped Grey attack me and my brother last year."
"I don't know."
"I see." Lockhart raised his hand to chin as he stepped away to think.
Meanwhile, Peter stood over the ashy remains of his beloved map. Harry walked over to stand next to him.
"I'm sorry about the map, Peter."
"She did well." Peter's eyes never left the remains of his proudest accomplishment. "I'm glad she could give you the information you needed."
"Can you make another one?"
"I could. It would take a while, maybe a year, but I don't think I will. Not yet, anyway." He sucked in a shaky breath, still trying to hold back tears.
Harry wasn't quite sure on what to do. It was like trying to console someone who had lost a child; words were just words in times like this.
"Thank you for helping us, Uncle Peter."
Peter looked up at Harry, his eyes slightly wider. It was the first time that Harry had called him 'Uncle' like he did with Sirius and Remus. The two shared a smile and Peter gave him an affectionate pat on the back. They then turned their attention to Lockhart, who had been muttering to himself.
"Harry, you said that Draco is involved to gain control of Slytherin and the school. Why would Grey help him? What's he getting out of it?" he asked after a few moments.
Harry then explained the conversation he had had with Dumbledore last year. About how Grey suffered from a mental breakdown, a form of schizophrenia, that caused him to have two conflicting thoughts: help Harry or destroy him.
"It appears that Grey may have settled on one." Lockhart rubbed his chin. "So Draco gets the school and Grey gets you."
"What do we do?" Harry asked.
"Peter, what was that word that appeared over Draco's name?" Lockhart asked the still recovering Marauder.
"If a location has a password of any kind, the map will hear it and record it."
"Fascinating!" Lockhart then turned to Harry. "I believe I have a plan."
Harry nodded his head. Lockhart smiled as he began.
"It appears now that Draco has what he desired from their arrangement, but Grey does not. If Draco is anything like his father—"
"—He certainly tries to be—" Harry interjected.
"—Then it shouldn't be too hard to believe that Draco will no longer keep up his end of the bargain."
The idea started to take form in Harry's mind.
"Grey would believe it."
"Exactly, and as you said, he has a mental disorder and an obsession with you. In my experience, denying such a person of what they desire can lead to very nasty consequences."
"So, we make Grey believe that Malfoy has betrayed him."
"Yes, and thanks to that wonderful little map, we know the password Draco used to summon Grey from the Chamber."
Harry rose to his feet. "We can end this right now."
Lockhart held up his hands. "Not yet, Harry. We need them both to give this story its proper end."
Harry wanted to argue that Grey was the greater threat and he could tell that Lockhart only wanted to hold off to make his book better. However, if it were possible to take down the Malfoys as well, could Harry really deny them that chance?
"What do you suggest then?"
"We go to Myrtle's Bathroom, make it appear that Draco has reneged on their deal, and thus, force Grey out with the basilisk to confront his former partner!" Lockhart elaborated, like he was laying out the last twist of newest literary work.
"You want to set Grey and the basilisk on Malfoy. Isn't that a little…unethical?" Harry threw in.
"Harry, Harry, Harry, I will be there to intercept the basilisk before it can do any harm."
"And what about Draco and Grey?" Three on one (especially since it included a basilisk) were not desirable odds, in Harry's mind. Lockhart, however, wasn't bothered by it.
"Two quick Stunning Charms and they're down for the count."
"It'll be dangerous." Peter pointed out.
"That's why people buy the books, Mr. Pettigrew," the monster hunter explained with a satisfied smile.
The very next morning, Harry and Lockhart made their way to Myrtle's bathroom to execute the first part of Lockhart's plan. They had said goodbye to Peter earlier with him promising to inform Harry's parents about what they discovered. Harry also asked Peter to have Sirius find out if Lucius Malfoy had any kind of awareness of his son's recent behavior.
In the bathroom, they heard some soft sniffling in the far stall. It seemed that they were lucky enough to catch Myrtle on a good day.
"Remember what we practiced, Harry," Lockhart whispered.
Harry nodded. They had rehearsed this routine many times beforehand.
"Excieo," Lockhart spoke the password the map had shown them.
They gave it a few seconds before their charade began.
"Draco said that he'd come if we said the word, right?"
"Yes. Given his plea bargain, we get Grey, and Draco walks with probation and a hefty fine."
"Just as long we get Grey, that's all I want." They had spoken about Harry playing more into Grey's delusion. They wanted Harry to be the antagonist that Grey imagined.
"Settle down, now. You've gotten what you wanted, Harry. You're back in control, Malfoy is out of the way, and Adrian Grey is finally done for." Lockhart put his arm on Harry's shoulder. "You've won, Harry."
A loud clanging sound was heard beneath them almost immediately after that. Both of them decided to ignore it because both of them knew exactly what it meant.
Their message had been delivered.
Later that day, Harry was finally able to head back to the Slytherin common room for some much-needed rest. There was someone, though, that he needed to contend with first.
"Where have you been?" asked Daphne with controlled anger.
Harry took off his glasses and rubbed his tired eyes. "Helping Lockhart, like I told you."
"We made a breakthrough, something that will finally end this."
"Wait, what? You did?" For a second Harry saw actual surprise breaking through her anger.
"We were able to manipulate the map, it showed who Draco's been working with. It's Grey."
"Grey? As in Adrian Grey. As in the guy who attacked you and may or may not know about your brother. That Adrian Grey."
Harry walked up to her and cupped her face. "I'm done now, ok." He assured her. "Lockhart has all he needs now to end this." Harry forced a smile. "It's over. We're safe."
Daphne had closed her eyes at his touch and she visibly relaxed after hearing his words. When she opened her eyes to stare back at his, she spoke. "Then let's leave. We can leave Hogwarts now."
"Not yet, Daphne. I have to make sure this is finished. That all ends have been taken care of."
"And then we'll go?" she asked, seeking clarification.
"Yeah. I wanted to show you Potter Cove, remember?"
"You want me to meet your family?" Harry could hear a small tinge of nervousness amid her surprise.
"If you want to," he said with a shrug.
Daphne started to fidget as she tried to play it off like she wasn't terrified. "Do you think they'll like me?"
"I like you," he said, knowing that he had avoided answering her question.
His answer caused her nervousness to disappear and replaced with a scowl. "So, that's a no."
Harry tucked a strain of her hair behind her ear and then rested his hand on her shoulder. "It's important that you said that, not me."
One Week Later
It was supposed to be over by now. They had done everything that Lockhart had said, but nothing had happened and nothing had changed. The wards that Lockhart had placed around Myrtle's bathroom to alert them when Grey surfaced never activated. Harry and Lockhart had gone to Myrtle's bathroom three different times to try and coax Grey out, but it did nothing. Lockhart was about to pull out his hair given how close they were to resolving this conflict and yet were unable to finish it. Or at least unable to do so in an appropriately climactic fashion.
Daphne was starting to get agitated as well. For every time that Harry had to get back involved once more caused her to become increasingly annoyed with him. The same could be said with Harry's family but it was with Daphne that Harry always felt the most tension with. Maybe it was because he spent the most time with her, due to the curfews, or because she was always the most vocal about him separating himself from this investigation.
But Harry wouldn't do that. He couldn't. No matter what happened, he couldn't stop the feeling that Grey was his problem. He thought long and hard about what Dumbledore had said about Grey. He tried to rationalize the deceit. That, perhaps, Dumbledore didn't know that Grey was the one responsible. It was revealed, however, by a simple visit from Sirius, that St. Mungo's had never had a patient by the name of Adrian Grey. They had tried to contact the Order, but Dumbledore was unreachable. There was no explanation as why the former Headmaster lied to them.
It was for that reason that Harry wouldn't quit until Grey was apprehended.
"What more can we do, Professor?"
Lockhart did not answer. For the first time, Harry could see the cracks in Lockhart's ever-confident façade. Blonde stubbles lined his jawline, bags went unconcealed under his eyes, and his hair was unkempt enough to show that the pressure was getting to him. But there was a look in his eyes that Harry hadn't seen before. A sense of crazed desperation and it heralded unfortunate ends.
Harry had gone to bed for another ordinary night, or, at least, ordinary for Hogwarts nowadays, when the castle was shaken awake, literally. Harry's eyes flew open as his bed shook and rumbled. Distant screams of panic were heard but Harry paid them no mind. He was already on his feet, barely dressed with wand in hand, and out the door. When he made it to the common room, many other students were there, still in their pajamas and wrapped in blankets. Auror Hume stood at the exit wall doing his best to keep the students calm.
A presence came up beside him and a hand found its way into his. Harry looked down at Daphne, seeing the worry in her eyes.
"Do you know what's happening?"
"No…" Harry looked around and noticed something peculiar. Judging by the crowded common room, all the dorm rooms were empty and there was someone missing.
"Malfoy isn't here."
"What?" Daphne did her own search around the room and came to the same conclusion. "You don't think…" Harry was already walking to Auror Hume.
"Auror Hume, did Malfoy leave?"
"I'm not at liberty to divulge any information."
"Please, you've seen me a lot with Professor Lockhart." Hume looked down at him to acknowledge the fact. "I've been helping him. I need to know."
Hume suffered from a moment of indecision before he relented. "Professor Lockhart came here about an hour ago and took Mr. Malfoy."
"Thank you." Harry made his way back to Daphne.
"Well?" she asked impatiently.
"Lockhart took him. I think Lockhart may have tried to force a confession."
"That's pretty desperate."
"Have you seen him lately?"
Daphne couldn't deny that the Defense Professor had seen far better days.
"So, what then?" Her eyes scanned the crowd in the common room. Many of them were also starting to notice the absence of their newly christened leader.
"I don't know." Harry could see Goyle and Crabbe standing dumbly by the main fireplace where Malfoy usually sat. Pansy Parkinson was hugging her knees on the sofa, rocking back and forth.
Daphne wrapped herself tighter in her robes. "You'd think they'd announce something. Tell us it's over."
"If it even is over." Harry corrected. Harry didn't like this. He didn't like not knowing.
'Tell me you got him, Lockhart. Tell me you got Grey.'
Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody was the kind of person that didn't have trouble commanding a room. A lot of it had to do with his appearance. He towered over everyone even though he only stood at about six feet tall. His face was so riddled with scars that it looked like it was made of wood, and a chunk of his nose was missing as well. He stood on one good leg, the other being a prosthetic made of metal. He walked with a long staff that could also act as a wand, if he was ever disarmed. His most striking feature, however, was the large magical eye on his left side, a byproduct of single-handedly taking out ten Death Eaters in Wales during Voldemort's war.
But Moody did not hold any grudges, no sir. It was damn useful having a magical eye and it should be standard issue. If only those idiots at the top of the department would just get over the whole eye-extraction part. After all, he had a complete 360-degree view with the capability to see through enchantments and invisibility cloaks.
'Except the one that fool Potter owns,' he thought sourly.** If he could have only exacted some revenge on that fool-hardy young Auror before the Potters had been forced into hiding, Moody would be a happ…slightly less grumpy old man.
It was with that magical eye that he examined the scene before him. He was in an empty corridor on the first sublevel, just above the dungeons. It was close to the main staircase so it was unclear if this was where this was supposed to have happened. What was clear was that there was a fifty-foot basilisk lying dead on the floor. Moody's magical eye went from the head all the way to the tail. He let out a grunt at the sheer size of this centuries old beast. He limped his way to stand next to the massive head, which was a bloody mess with both its eyes gouged out and a sliver sword poking out of the top.
'Of course, the fairy had a sword,' Moody grumblingly thought. 'Probably named it too, the idjit.'
For the life of him, Moody could not understand how this entire investigation was conducted by a civilian. And not just any civilian; Gilderoy 'Bloody' Lockhart. Moody scuffed at the memory of the man. He had been there when the Department of Law Enforcement had tried to recruit Lockhart. All the bells and whistles were brought out to try and lure him to their ranks. The boy had talent, there was no denying it, but his ego did not endear him to the grizzled old Auror.
'A bloody two-faced peacock, he was.' Moody looked at the floor near the basilisk head. 'It's a damn shame.'
Lying there in a pool of blood on the ground was the body of Gilderoy Lockhart. A single basilisk fang lied embedded in his shoulder, making obvious the cause of death.
What proved to be even more shocking was the other body a few feet from Lockhart's. The boy's eyes were still open, his body limp, proving that this was no petrification. Draco Malfoy was dead as well.
"You there! What are you doing here?" A voiced cried from behind him. Moody didn't even bother turning around, instead using his magical eye to see who had arrived.
"I'm here to do your job, now shut up and get away from my crime scene," he said to the two Aurors behind him, one he recognized as Auror Shephard and the other he did not know.
"You there, what's your name?" he yelled as he turned around and pointed at the unknown Auror, making both jump.
"Who cares. Who set up this perimeter?"
"Stop talking!" Moody snapped. "It's terrible. I don't know who trained you idjits but anyone could mosey their way into my crime scene and contaminate it. Get your ass to the staircase and don't let anyone pass without my authorization."
The Auror knew better than to question and scurried away to do as instructed.
"And you." Moody pointed right at Auror Shephard. "Tell me what we have here."
"I ain't no sir, Auror!"
"Sorry, Auror Moody, at approximately 11:34 PM this evening, Professor Lockhart extracted Draco Malfoy from his dormitory. He requested no additional support, only that he meant to question the boy."
"No one followed him anyway?" Moody questioned, incredulous at the lackadaisical attitude of the guard Aurors.
"No, sirrrr…Auror Moody, our instructions were to follow Professor Lockhart's orders."
"What a bunch of hippogriff shit." Moody mumbled. "Alright, go search Lockhart's office, look for anything that can explain this."
"Yes, Auror Moody." Auror Shephard gave a quick salute and left.
Moody limped around to the head of the basilisk and tapped it with the bottom of his staff. His one real eye turned to the bodies of Lockhart and Draco while his magical one zig-zagged to every part of the corridor. He tapped his staff a few times on the ground and a swirl of spells spread across the corridor. Many of them changed colors as they moved about the room. It all must have meant something to Moody because he nodded his head.
"Dear me, dear me." A new voice sounded from down the corridor.
Moody turned to it to find Minister Cornelius Fudge, bowler hat in both hands, looking very grave at the scene before him.
"Moody? I didn't expect to see you here."
Moody was less than pleased to see the minister and he did little to hide it. "I volunteered, Fudge."
Fudge appeared agitated. Whether it was because of the disrespect or the gruesome scene, Moody neither knew nor cared.
"I'd say you're looking at it. Only two magical signatures are present for any extended period of time, Lockhart's and Malfoy's. Lockhart reportedly extracted Malfoy from his dorm and took him somewhere to question him. Then he must have brought him back along this corridor, probably heading to the Slytherin common room, and found himself in front of the basilisk. Malfoy must have gotten a glimpse of the basilisk's eyes while Lockhart managed to kill it with a sword through the brain, but not before he got a fang to the shoulder."
"But why would Lockhart have Draco with him?" Fudge asked confusedly.
Moody only gave him a pointed look.
"Surely you can't be serious. Draco Malfoy is the Heir of Slytherin," Fudge said in a way that made the idea sound ridiculous.
"Auror! Get your ass over here." Moody called the first Auror he had spoken to when he arrived. The Auror, whose name was still unknown, raced to them.
"Yes, Auror Moody."
"Anyone else in the halls this evening?"
"No, Auror Moody, all students were in their dorms, all teachers in their quarters."
"You sure?" Judging by what he'd seen thus far, Moody wouldn't have been surprised if there was a leak somewhere.
"Yes, Auror Moody." The Auror pulled from his robe the clipboard they used to keep track of such things. He quickly handed it over. "All Aurors were at their posts, no movements were reported."
Moody turned back to Fudge with a look like his case had been made.
"My sense is that Lockhart grabbed Malfoy to force the truth out of him, and then it ended in this mess."
"There must be another explanation," the Minister insisted.
Moody opened his arms to allow Fudge to search the crime scene for himself. "You're welcome to look for one, but I'd say this as clear cut as you're going to get."
Fudge showed an obvious unwillingness to be any closer to the corpses of the basilisk and its two victims. Instead, Fudge turned to the Auror. "Has Lucius been notified?"
"An owl was sent, Minister," the Auror answered.
"Please go and wait for him, bring him here when he arrives."
At that moment, Auror Shephard returned.
"Auror Moody," Shephard then noticed Fudge. "Minister!"
"Shephard, what have you found?" Fudge asked eagerly, hoping for something that would debunk Moody's claim.
"Notes," Shephard held a small bundle of parchment. She seemed unsure on who she should be addressing. She finally settled on Moody. "It looks like he had begun working on his next novel." Moody snatched the parchment from Shephard's hand and started reading. Meanwhile, Shephard continued. "He must have only just begun writing, as there isn't much, but there is a mention of the Malfoys."
Moody held up a single page near a nearby torch and read to himself. The writing did mention the Malfoys but only the fact that it was Lucius Malfoy, acting on behalf of the Board of Governors, that had granted Lockhart the authority to run the investigation. It was hardly the damning evidence needed to solidify Moody's claim.
"Well?" Fudge asked impatiently. He was clearly not used to be left waiting.
"Nothing substantial here," Moody begrudgingly admitted. There was one thing, though, that did catch his eye. "But it looks like Lockhart figured out that it wasn't a true Heir of Slytherin this time. That anyone with the Parseltongue ability could have found the chamber and commanded the beast."
'And what beast this is.' Moody added in his mind.
"I'm still ordering a full inquiry on the matter. After all, the Malfoys have been devoted friends to the Ministry and this school. It doesn't make any sense. I would like one more sweep of the castle, Auror Moody. And a full roll call of every student, teacher, and ghost. I want us to be sure that there's not another suspect."
Moody appeared extremely annoyed. It wasn't the first time he had witnessed the minister show a willingness to give his 'devoted friend' a pass. "Auror Shephard! Get it done."
Shephard saluted Moody and left.
Moody then began to take a closer look at Lockhart's notes. Most of it appeared to be just random thoughts and bits about Lockhart's life at the school, none of which interested Moody in the slightest. What did catch his attention, however, was an analysis of the Auror reports that Moody was holding in his other hand.
"Here, make yourself useful." Moody shoved the clipboard into Fudge's hands.
"I beg your pardon." Fudge's patience with Moody's disrespect was quickly drying up.
"Find the page for February 12th," Moody commanded, ignoring Fudge's aghast expression.
Fudge was not pleased but did as he was told. "Yes, I have it."
"How many were reported out of their quarters after 7pm?"
"A few members of the staff, and about…" Fudge mentally counted. "…seventeen students."
"Notice anyone familiar."
Fudge slowly lowered the clipboard. "Draco Malfoy."
"You want my report, here it is. We know that the Heir must leave their dormitory to reach the Chamber, otherwise, we'd have way more attacks. Tonight, there were only two people that were reported to be so, and they're both right there," Moody pointed at the two bodies. "One of them just so happened to also be reported out of their dormitory the same night, at the same time, that Cho Chang was last seen unpetrified. Look at the time stamps." Moody pushed the clipboard that Fudge had lowered back into his face. "Draco Malfoy leaves the Slytherin common room at 8:03pm, Draco Malfoy arrives at library at 8:18pm. Now, it'd probably take me that long to travel that distance, but I only got one good leg. But a boy his age, it should have only taken half that. Now, we all like to pretend that everything was all sunshine and daisies with the Founders, but I don't think it's too hard to fathom that old man Slytherin put his little Chamber of Secrets near his dormitory, wouldn't it? A small little detour on the way for a little late night reading, I'd say."
"They are a good family." Fudge's voice shook with emotion. "They are friends of the Ministry."
"They have been Slytherins for generations. Poster boys for all that pureblood fanaticism malarkey. And if they didn't support You-Know-Who, then I'd eat my shoe," Moody replied and bowed closer, as if sharing a big secret.
Fudge was too flabbergasted to say anything. In the meantime, Moody's magical eye zeroed in on the two people that had appeared behind Fudge.
"Lord Malfoy, Minister." The still-unnamed Auror announced nervously. It was obvious that he and Lord Malfoy had heard everything Moody had just said.
"Back to your post, Auror. No one else gets through, am I understood?"
"Yes, Auror Moody."
Lucius slowly walk around the basilisk's corpse to look upon and stand beside his dead son's body. He tried desperately to keep his composure as he kneeled, but his lips were trembling and his hands visibly shook as he brushed them through Draco's hair.
A single tear fell down Fudge's cheek. "Lucius, I'm sor—"
"Lord Malfoy," Moody interrupted, not caring about cutting off the Minister. "What knowledge did you have of your son's activities?"
Malfoy rose to his feet but kept his back to them for a moment, no doubt to reapply his usual business-like demeanor, before he turned to Moody. "I had no knowledge of what Draco was doing. All letters he sent home were about school and friends. I can provide them to you, if such a thing is truly necessary," he rattled off like it was a prepared statement.
"You were unaware that your son was a Parselmouth?" Moody made sure to keep both of his eyes on Lord Malfoy. He wasn't going to miss a single tell of a lie from the aristocrat.
"I was," Lord Malfoy instantly replied.
"You are willing to testify to that fact?"
"Yes," Malfoy answered just as quickly.
"Can you explain why you decided to have a civilian run this investigation?" Moody completely failed in hiding his opinion of that decision in his tone.
"It was the Board's decision, not just mine. We felt that the hunt for a monster should be done by a professional monster hunter." Malfoy expertly maintained his stoic demeanor and his concise answers did little to aid Moody in finding a lie.
"A decision I supported, as well," the Minister piped in. "The public absolutely adored Gilderoy. It was about all we could do to keep the school open."
Moody motioned towards Lockhart's body. "I'm sure he'd wished you had closed it now, hmmm?"
"I still stand by the Board's decision to try everything possible to keep the school open," Malfoy reiterated.
Moody looked through more of Lockhart's notes and found an interesting discovery. "So you were aware that Professor Lockhart enlisted the aid of Harry James Potter to discover who was," Moody looked closer at the notes and read aloud. "'…Attempting to frame the Potter heir.'"
"I was not." To give Lord Malfoy credit, he hid his surprise well. Fudge, though, wasn't so skilled.
"Did you suspect Harry Potter as the Parselmouth?" Moody's magical eye zeroed in. All he needed was the tiniest clue that Malfoy knew more than he let on.
"The initial evidence supported such a conclusion." Still, Malfoy gave nothing away in his response or demeanor.
A twitch of Moody's nose was the only sign he gave of his frustration. He had to try a bolder approach. "Did you pressure Professor Lockhart to name Harry Potter?"
"What are you doing, Auror Moody?" Fudge finally interrupted. "Draco may be guilty, but it's obvious Lord Malfoy had nothing to do with it. Not after all the support he personally gave to see it resolved."
"Ahhh…yes…the whole 'help find the culprit so no one thinks it's you' ploy. I've seen it dozens of times," Moody said while staring directly at Malfoy.
"That is not the case here." Malfoy stated firmly, finally showing a crack in his armor. "And I'm confident that I'll have the full support of the Board of Governors, the Ministry, and the Wizengamot, itself, to that fact."
"Aye, we'll see how long that lasts," Moody all but growled. Internally, though, he was pleased to finally get an emotional response.
"That's enough, Moody!" Fudge demanded heatedly. "For Merlin's sake, the man has just lost his son! Allow him a moment." Fudge raised his arm towards the staircase and insisted that Moody follow him.
While Moody was certainly perturbed to end his questioning, he couldn't outwardly oppose the Minister's orders. He grumbly limped along with Fudge out of earshot of Malfoy.
"Your actions are reprehensible! To openly accuse a man over the body of his own son. It's-it's—"
"My job," Moody finished for him. There was a lot more he wanted to say, especially about the real reason that Fudge defended Lucius Malfoy so vehemently.
'Gold. Or as you would call it, 'campaign contributions.' If I hadn't already checked, I'd swear you were mind-controlled to love the man.'
"Well I have a new job for you. We need to re-secure the castle in order to assure the French and Bulgarians that Hogwarts will be ready to host the tournament next year. You won't believe the headache this whole ordeal has been, not to mention the embarrassment it caused me. We could have very well been the first school since the tournament's inception to have to skip their turn as hosts."
"We should do it anyway. Let the idjits seek their eternal glory at one of their bloody schools." Moody remembered when he was in school and the Triwizard Tournament was held at the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. He hadn't gone, of course. There was no sense in dying for something as silly as gold and glory.
'And who can stand the bloody French? A bunch of idjits, the lot of them.'
"Now I will not have that kind of talk. The Triwizard is a time-honored tradition and I'd be damned—as all Britain's—if we don't respect that tradition."
"Security will have to be a lot tighter, then."
"Which is why I've recommended an additional squadron of Aurors be assigned for next year," Fudge appeared a little skittish by what he planned to say next. "And you will oversee them."
"Hell no I won't!" Moody immediately rejected that idea. He wasn't a man to be around children.
"You'll have completely control." Fudge tried to sweeten the deal. "Full autonomy."
"Still no." He just imagined a tiny First-Year asking where a classroom was. It was horrible.
"You'll have the pick of any assignment you want."
"No means no." Now he envisioned catching a couple in a broom closet. It was equally as terrible.
"Damn it, man. What will it take?" Fudge asked desperately.
Moody was ready to say no again…but now that Fudge was so predisposed. "I want—"
Fudge held up a hand. "Anything but your crazy magical-eye initiative, please."
"Full control over recruitment and training, with the freedom to take any recruit as my trainee. No questions asked."
"Done," Fudge quickly agreed as if he was asked to give away nothing.
Moody hummed approvingly. It was about time someone cleaned up that mess of a training academy. For too long he had been forced to sit back and watch his beloved corps being filled with vagabonds and simple-minded bullies.
'A fine collection of upstanding citizens Lord Malfoy has sponsored, aren't they?' Moody remembered Fudge saying. 'Of course, the idjit can't recognize low-level Death Eaters his boyfriend invites into my Auror corps.'
"And one more thing," said Moody. "I'll only do it if Albus Dumbledore is the headmaster." Fudge looked about to object. "Non-negotiable," Moody insisted before Fudge could speak.
Fudge let of a sigh. "I'll speak with the Board of Governors."
'That's two you owe me now, Albus.'
Meanwhile, Lucius Malfoy now stood alone with his son. His now lifeless son. His gripe on his cane tightened. He was trying so very hard to keep his grief from completely overtaking him. This was never supposed to happen. All the years of planning and machinations. All he had done for his Lord. It was all for his son. His beautiful son.
His legs gave out and he had to catch himself with the support of his cane. He had nearly fallen on top his son's body. A heart-wrenching whimper escaped him as he stared into Draco's face. He sucked in a shaky breath as he rested on his knees by Draco's body.
"I know why you did this and why you kept it from me." He brushed a strain of hair out of Draco's face. "You never had to prove yourself to me, son."
Lucius then broke down in tears, unable to repress it any longer. He didn't know how long he remained there, but his senses were returned to him when a stabbing pain came from his left arm. It was the call and he would have to answer it soon. He gave Draco another look as he rose to his feet, his armor back in place.
"And now, my son, you have made Him very angry."
*This is based on the Marauder's Map first seen in the Prisoner of Azkaban film, which upon my viewing of all eight Harry Potter films before seeing Fantastic Beasts (which I thoroughly enjoyed), I noticed a lot of the map was covered in very neat handwriting and thought it would be funny that Sirius was one that did that.
**I'm not doing the Hallows but keeping the uniqueness of James's invisibility cloak. THAT SAID, little pet-peeve of mine, if it was a Hallow and meant to keep you hidden from Death, itself, then a magical eye or an enchanted map should not be able to find you under it.