Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
Amelia Bones wasn't entirely sure what to think.
On the one hand, as the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, she had no business interrogating a suspect. Such things were generally entrusted to the Auror department, and she wasn't at all interested in setting a precedent of not trusting them. On the other hand, when the suspect in question was the thirteen year old son of a Wizengamot member, there was a certain level of courtesy expected. Considering the crime and the name of the one accused of committing it, Amelia wasn't certain that courtesy would be observed.
Or even that it needed to be observed, to be perfectly honest. She had been incredibly surprised when, upon hearing of the accusations, Lucius Malfoy had promptly withdrawn all protection from his son. She had his full, signed permission to use Veritaserum, Legilimency, or any other method necessary to interrogate him. The elder Malfoy wasn't even demanding that his heir have legal representation. It was… suspicious, to say the least.
Had she been the only one to know of the Malfoy heir's lack of familial protection, she might have been willing to allow the Aurors to proceed as normal. Unfortunately, she hadn't been alone when she'd been given that information, and there was no way of knowing who might have overheard. She could not, in good conscience, allow Aurors who may be thinking of his father's crimes to interrogate Draco Malfoy. He was innocent until proven guilty, and she would not allow him to be punished for crimes that were not his own.
"I'll be the one to interrogate the suspect," she said finally, into the silent room.
"Amelia, my Aurors-"
"I will be the one to interrogate him," she said once more, and stared hard at Scrimgeour.
The man eventually dropped his gaze. "If you insist."
"I do." She stood, then, and added, "And I'm going to handle that now, before anybody takes this as an opportunity to get a little revenge against his family line."
"My Aurors would never do any such thing," Scrimgeour insisted.
Amelia simply offered him a thin smile and swept from the room. Neither one of them believed what Scrimgeour had just said, but it would do no good to call him on it. Truth be told, she wouldn't mind getting a bit of her own back against the Malfoy family herself. But she, unlike many of the Aurors in the department, understood that the son was not the father.
Although, looking at him from the doorway, it was easy to see the resemblance. Much as the elder Malfoy had been, years ago when he'd been brought up on charges, this Malfoy was sitting cool and collected, as though he hadn't a care in the world. He looked entirely unafraid, and that didn't sit well with Amelia.
With what he stood accused of, defiling a sweet girl like Ginny Weasley, he should be a bit more frightened.
"Mr. Malfoy," she said as she entered the room. "I am Madame Bones, the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. I will be interrogating you today."
"Shouldn't you wait for my father? I'm a minor, after all." He met her gaze as he spoke, and held it until she blinked and looked away.
The kid was unnerving, she would give him that. It wasn't just the way he'd held her gaze, something hardened Death Eaters had rarely managed to do, though that was a part of it. It was mostly the way he sat there, so composed and unaffected, when the charges he was facing could send him to Azkaban. Most teenagers would be at least a bit more panicked than he was.
"Your father has said that he wishes for us to interrogate you without him. He had several appointments that he couldn't miss and did not wish to delay what he phrased as 'the swift hand of justice'."
The Malfoy heir smiled, like he'd expected no less. "Then go ahead and ask me your questions," he said, still with that unflappable calm.
As though she needed his permission. She had his father's permission, and that was what mattered. She settled across from the boy and offered him a level stare. "So, Mr. Malfoy, where were you on the night of October the 31st?"
"I went to the Halloween feast with everyone else. After that, I returned to Slytherin House. I had an appointment with somebody after curfew, and after I left the dorm for the appointment, everything goes blank. I don't remember anything after leaving the dorm."
"And who was your appointment with?" she asked.
Malfoy shook his head. "I can't say," he said quietly. "But it wasn't with the Weasley girl. I wouldn't…" He stopped, took a deep breath, and said, "To the best of my knowledge, I never touched her."
Amelia frowned. "You do realize that you're facing an extensive Azkaban sentence for the crime you stand accused of, correct?" Had nobody explained to the child just what he was facing? He should be spilling all the information he had, not holding things back out of some strange sense of… she didn't even know. What could possibly keep a child from giving her all the information she needed to potentially keep him out of Azkaban? Unless he was guilty, of course.
But even so, his behavior wasn't at all what would be expected. If he were guilty, he should be offering her excuses. Alibis. Anything. Not… dodging her questions. There was something very odd about all of this, and Amelia was determined to get to the bottom of it.
He looked down at the table between them, now. "I understand that Azkaban is certainly a possibility," he said quietly. "But I doubt that I'll wind up there. Even if somehow I am convicted of a crime I didn't commit, they don't send children to Azkaban."
"They might, when it's a child with your name." His eyes flashed up to meet hers once more, and… yes. There it was. The boy was afraid, now. As well he should be. The Weasleys were good people, and the crime Malfoy stood accused of was particularly heinous. There was every chance that, if he was uncooperative, he could go to Azkaban. Even if he was cooperative, he might still wind up there if he was guilty. There were a lot of people out there that would see his name and punish him for that alone.
"I never touched her. I don't remember what happened after I left the Common Room. I don't know what more you want me to say."
"Tell me where you were going. Why did you have to leave the Common Room after the feast? What could you have possibly needed to do that couldn't wait until tomorrow?" She drummed her fingers on the table and tried to look bored. Like what he said didn't matter. Perhaps if she could unnerve him entirely he might actually tell her the truth.
Honestly, sticking to this story that he didn't remember what had happened that night was a little bit ridiculous. He should know that she wasn't going to fall for that.
He should tell her.
He should tell her exactly what he'd been doing out of the Common Room, and then let his father deal with the consequences. It would only be fair, right? If his father really had him punished at school out of love, then there wouldn't be any consequences, right? So there was no harm in telling her that he'd been on his way to his punishment, and he should do so.
He couldn't tell her.
He knew that what his father subjected him to was wrong. Draco had fought so long against admitting it, but the time for that was over. So he should still tell her. Maybe his father would go to prison for the things he'd done to his son, for the things he'd had done in his name. Or maybe he wouldn't. Maybe he would use his political influence to get out of the charges that would be filed against him just like he'd used his influence to escape Azkaban after the first war. And then Draco would be worse off than he'd been before this entire mess had started.
"I already told you, I had an appointment, one that I couldn't miss," he said finally, staring down at the tabletop once more. It was wooden, and scarred, like somebody had raked his nails against the wood. There was a spot of red near one of the gouges, like maybe he'd bled as he'd done it. Draco shifted his gaze to a less scarred portion of the table and tried not to imagine how many real criminals had occupied the seat he was now sitting in.
"And you don't remember a thing about that night?" Bones asked, sounding exasperated.
Had she thought he would just confess to something he hadn't done? Draco almost wished that they would just bring out the Veritaserum already. Once he was dosed with the truth potion, they wouldn't be able to doubt his answers. Of course, he also wouldn't be able to stop himself from telling her where he'd been going. So maybe he didn't want the potion.
"I don't remember anything after the feast," he answered.
He heard her shift, and then felt her hand gently touch his own. He glanced up and found her staring at him, her eyes warm and compassionate. She was faking, of course. Nobody was ever compassionate with a Malfoy, least of all the head of the DMLE. Like he would fall for that.
"I'm here to help you, Malfoy. I can't get you out of this if you don't help me to help you, so I need you to tell me the truth about what happened that night." Her voice was soft and gentle and Draco could almost, almost believe that she meant it.
She didn't mean it. Draco knew that. "I don't remember anything after the feast," he said once more.
As he'd expected, she withdrew her hand and the compassion was replaced with frustration. "Fine, Malfoy. If you want to play it that way, then you'll just have to sit in a cell until we can have some Veritaserum administered. Is that what you want?"
"I want you to believe me when I tell you that I don't remember anything after leaving my common room," he said flatly. No, he didn't want the Veritaserum, but at this point there didn't seem to be much of an alternative. He cursed his father for not fighting for him and making this entire situation possible.
Bones stood with a harsh scrape of her chair. "I'll be back with the Veritaserum, then," she said, and stalked from the room.
Only when the door had slammed shut behind her with a heavy clang did Draco allow himself to bury his head in his shaking hands. He wouldn't go to Azkaban, that wasn't at all what he was afraid of. But the things he might say while under the influence of the serum… his father would kill him if he said anything about the punishments.
This wasn't his fault.
If his father hadn't wanted him to say anything then Lucius should have been with him during the interrogations. Not that Lucius would see things that way. But… but maybe…
Maybe it was time to let Harry do what he'd been asking to ever since he'd found out about the punishments.
And maybe Draco was just borrowing trouble. Things were bad enough; he didn't need to worry about eventualities that may or may not come to pass. Perhaps once Madame Bones realized he really didn't remember anything after leaving the common room, she would drop the interrogation.
Draco couldn't have said how long he was forced to wait for Madame Bones to return with the Veritaserum, only that it seemed like an excessively long period of time. Nobody had come into his cell to see him since she'd left, and his stomach was growling and he was feeling a bit nauseous from hunger. He hadn't eaten since breakfast, and that had been interrupted with Weasley's little… announcement.
Of course, there was a chance that his nausea could be due to nerves. He was certainly nervous enough for that to be the case. Given that his stomach was growling, he didn't think that was the case, but there was still a chance.
According to his father, Malfoys didn't get nervous. Not ever. But when his father had been sitting on the wrong side of an Auror's interrogation, possibly in this very seat, he'd had the backing of the entire Malfoy family. He'd had his Lordship. Draco had neither of these things, and he supposed it was only natural to be nervous.
The door opening once more pulled him from his thoughts, and he struggled to collect himself. Madame Bones had returned, and had a vial with her. The potion inside the vial was clear and colorless, and was almost certainly Veritaserum.
Draco didn't want to take it.
He still opened his mouth when directed, and felt the three drops hit his tongue. At once everything went foggy and indistinct, and he could no longer recall why he felt so reluctant to take the potion in the first place.
He could hear Madame Bones, as though through a distant fog. "Tell me about what you did after the Halloween Feast," she said.
"I went back to the dorms with Harry and Ron. We watched Ron open his Courtship gifts. Ron doesn't know who's Courting him, but with this most recent gift I'm pretty sure his first suitor is Blaise Zabini. I don't know who his second Suitor is. Given the pattern, I'd imagine it's a Gryffindor of some sort. I then left the common room to go to my appointment. I don't remember what happened after the door closed behind me."
Apparently Veritaserum didn't just force him to tell the truth, it made him spew words. That was… disconcerting, to say the least.
"Why was your appointment after curfew?" she asked.
Draco didn't want to answer this question. Wait. Why didn't he want to answer? Telling the truth was a good thing, and he should do so. "Because that's the easiest time for me to make my way to my appointment."
"Who was the appointment with?"
No. No, Draco couldn't answer that question. If he answered, she'd want to know why he left the dorm to have the appointment and, "Prefect Rosier," he said, and hated himself for saying it out loud.
"Why did you have to leave your common room for an appointment with the seventh year prefect of your own House?"
He couldn't answer that. He absolutely couldn't answer that question. Answering that question would ruin everything. But he couldn't stop himself from opening his mouth, and saying, "We were doing something that the rest of the House wouldn't approve of."
It sounded illicit. It sounded like something entirely worse than it was. It was better than giving the proper answer, because the proper answer would incriminate his father and get him in trouble. Not with the Ministry, but with his father. And Draco didn't want to be in trouble with his father.
"But you didn't make it to the appointment with Prefect Rosier?"
"I don't remember anything after leaving the common room to go and see him," Draco answered easily. He didn't remember anything about that night after leaving the common room. How many times would she ask that?
Amelia didn't know what, exactly, the Malfoy boy got up to with Prefect Rosier, but that wasn't the point of this conversation. She couldn't afford to get side-tracked onto that topic. The issue at hand remained: Malfoy legitimately didn't remember anything that had happened the night of the Halloween Feast. That meant that there were two possibilities: Malfoy could have had one of his friends Obliviate him in an effort to make himself look more innocent, or Malfoy was just as much a victim as the Weasley girl.
Either way, she'd learned what she needed to, so she gave Malfoy the antidote to the Veritaserum. "You're probably feeling a bit nauseous now, so we'll give it a few minutes and then somebody will be by with lunch for you. You'll be our guest until such time as you can visit with a Mind Healer to see if we can't do something about the apparent block on your memories. Do you have any questions for me?"
"No, ma'am," Malfoy said quietly. He didn't meet her gaze, now. Something she'd asked must have rattled him, likely her questions about his appointment. Of course there was a part of her that wondered what exactly a seventh-year was getting up to with a third-year, but that wasn't a question for under Veritaserum. If there was something… unsavory… going on, then Malfoy was the victim in that and not the criminal, and she couldn't ask him about that.
Perhaps, while he was having his visit with the Mind Healer, she would ask her to poke around at the issue a bit. If she was unwilling, perhaps Amelia herself could pry after this first mess was handled. She didn't like the thought of a child being mistreated under her watch.
"How long do you think it will take before the matter goes to trial?" Ginny asked.
Hermione frowned. Ginny didn't sound upset, not even a little bit. Considering what had just happened to her, she seemed remarkably calm. Shouldn't she be upset? But… well, everybody dealt with grief differently. Maybe she was in shock. Hermione knew that she would have been in shock had somebody assaulted her.
"It likely won't go to trial at all, which is a good thing because the simple memory wipe I performed won't stand up to Veritaserum. I should have altered his memory rather than just erasing it, but I ran out of time," an older, male voice answered.
Hermione's frown grew fiercer. That didn't… that didn't sound good at all. That sounded suspiciously like… no. No, the Headmaster wouldn't be a part of something like that. She couldn't imagine that he would… but. But, if he'd noticed the same things that she had, if he'd seen the darkness in Harry that she had, maybe he would.
Hermione shook her head. Of course he wouldn't.
"Then what was the point of all of that? I thought that we were going to take Malfoy out of the picture for good!" Ginny exclaimed, and now she sounded upset. "I gave up my virginity for this plan, Headmaster!"
"The point was to drive a wedge between the three of them," the Headmaster said patiently. "Ron will take your side, of course, because he's your older brother. He'll be furious. With Draco away for questioning, Ron will be able to convince Harry that he's no good. When he's released from Ministry custody, it will look like the Malfoy family paid his way out of a trial. Ideally, Harry will be much less willing to listen to Draco after this."
Ginny heaved a sigh. "And you think that he might eventually realize that I could be a good replacement for Malfoy?"
"I think that Ron will certainly steer him in that direction. Ron is bound to feel guilty for the way he's treated you over the past two years," the Headmaster answered quietly. "If we get very lucky, Harry might share that guilt. He might even feel bad that his best friend… defiled you. There might be a marriage contract in your future.
"Do you think so? You know that I would love to be the Lady Potter," Ginny gushed.
Hermione backed away from the entrance to Ginny's private room in the hospital wing feeling ill. She'd only wanted to offer Ginny her condolences, to give her a friendly shoulder to cry on should she feel the need. She'd wanted to look out for a housemate, not learn… this. This was disgusting. This was terrible.
They were going to ruin Malfoy's life, and they were going to do it for a scheme that likely wouldn't work anyway. Hadn't they seen Ron's expression in the Great Hall? He hadn't looked at his sister with concern, he'd been staring at Malfoy. And there had been no anger or hatred in his gaze. He'd only looked worried.
And from what it sounded like, Malfoy was the rape victim, not Ginny. He was the one who should be in the hospital wing, not Ginny. He needed counseling, not interrogation. Even if he apparently didn't remember what had been done to him, he'd been… he'd been raped. That would take some recovering from.
She couldn't, in good conscience, keep this information to herself. But who to tell? If she went to another teacher, chances were they wouldn't believe her. This sounded ridiculous even to her, and she'd just heard them speaking of it. She could get her point across eventually, she was certain, but should she go that route? What if she couldn't get a teacher to believe her? Who would she even go to? Professor Snape had never liked her and likely wouldn't listen to her no matter what she said, and Professor McGonagall… she was the Headmaster's deputy for a reason. Had she been in on this?
That led to another concern. If she chose the wrong person, if she would up approaching someone who was in on this, Hermione knew that she could easily be Obliviated as well.
That left her one option. It was a terrible option, because she knew what she'd be dooming Ginny to. Harry Potter's temper was… frightening. She'd been watching him for a long time. He was dangerous and, she was almost certain, he was a little bit mad. If she went to him with this, Potter would believe her. And Potter would…
Potter would kill Ginny.
If she went to him, Ginny's blood would be on her hands. There would be no stopping Potter, she knew that. He'd killed Lockhart, after all. He'd done it just because he was annoying. This was… Ginny had proven herself to be much more than annoying. She was dangerous, and she'd hurt the boy that Hermione was almost certain Potter loved. Once Potter found out what Ginny had done, Hermione was certain that he would kill her.
Hermione closed her eyes and leaned against the wall. "Then Ginny shouldn't have done that," Hermione finally whispered to herself.
She couldn't let this stand. Ginny was clearly in the wrong.
She headed off to find the Weasley twins. They had a strange way of knowing where to find people. Perhaps they would be so good as to find Potter for her.
It was dinner time, and Harry was no closer to figuring out whether Ginny Weasley was actually innocent in all of this or not. Draco had been in a Ministry cell for almost a day being subject to who knew what, and he'd found nothing. Nothing. He was useless.
He shoved away from the table and stalked from the hall. He wasn't hungry. He couldn't possibly think about food right now. Not when Draco was…
Ron followed him, and Harry was grateful for that. He was pretty sure that being alone right now wasn't a good idea.
"Potter!" a sharp voice called from behind him.
Harry frowned and turned. It was Granger. Her face was twisted in a mask of anger and… nausea? It was an odd enough expression that he took interest. "Can I help you?" he asked, forcing himself to be polite. Someone like her would never be involved in something like this. At the very least, he should be polite to her.
"I need to speak with you in private," she forced out. It looked like it physically pained her to be having this conversation with him, and it was more than enough to make him very curious.
"There's an empty classroom on the way to the dungeons that we could duck into," Harry suggested.
She shook her head once, sharply. "Not good enough. I don't want there to be a chance that anyone could overhear what I have to tell you."
"I can make it secure," Harry said immediately. And he could, too. Tom had taught him many things, although he'd rarely had the occasion to use the privacy wards he'd been taught.
Granger's gaze flicked to his face, and after a moment of study, she nodded. "Fine," she said.
They made their way to the classroom in question and Harry secured the room carefully. He was careful to use only light and neutral spells while doing so because Granger likely wouldn't react well to the strongest of wards he had at his disposal. And if she was actually approaching him of her own free will when she'd never done so before, then it was clear that she had something important to say.
Maybe even something about Ginny. If that was the case, then he couldn't afford to alienate her.
Once the room was secure, he turned back to her and raised an expectant eyebrow. "Well?" he asked. "We're as alone in here as we can be."
Granger nodded. "I know what you are," she said finally, "So it was with a great deal of reservation that I chose to come to you with this."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Harry said quietly. "I'm just a student here, just like you."
Granger sneered at him. "You're a killer," she said sharply. "I don't know what you are, not exactly, but I know that you killed Lockhart, and I know that when you leave here you'll kill Ginny too. And I'm sorry for that," she said with a nod to Ron.
Harry's breath caught in his chest. She knew what Ginny had done. She had… did she have proof, or did she just suspect? Was she there to share her proof? "What do you know?" he managed.
"I want your word, first, that you won't harm me," she said. "I'll tell you everything, and I won't try to stop you, but I want you to swear that you won't try to kill me. Now, or ever in the future."
He took a step forward, his hand falling to his wand, and she held his gaze evenly. "If you kill me," she said, "You will never find out what you need to know."
Harry could feel his anger rising, could hear Tom distantly through the roaring in his ears trying to calm him down. Could hear Ron, too, saying that he didn't need to attack her, that she was here to give them the information, that all he had to do was make a very reasonable promise. What did any of them know? Draco was… and this little bitch was…
He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "So long as our interests don't conflict," he managed to choke out through gritted teeth. "As long as you don't stand in opposition to me, I swear on my magic that I will not seek to harm you."
There was a small flash and the feeling of a weight settling upon him. It was done. He'd made his promise, and he could never break it. As long as she didn't move directly against him, Hermione Granger was safe from him. It had better be good enough for her.
She nodded once. "I suppose I'll have to take that," she said. "I certainly can't stand keeping quiet about the information that I've got. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I did. I'm sorry, Weasley, but it doesn't paint your sister in a flattering light."
Ron closed his eyes as though pained. "There were only two ways this could go, Granger," he whispered. "Either my sister was as much a victim as Draco was, or she was going to die because she… she was in on it. It sounds to me like you have proof that she was in on it?"
"I heard her talking to the Headmaster," Granger said. "They were discussing how the way that Malfoy had been Obliviated would never hold up in court, and Ginny said something about how she'd given up her virginity for the plan."
Harry could feel his heart starting to pound, could feel his blood beginning to sing. His hands clenched into fists which shook with rage and he closed his eyes to try to stay calm. "The Headmaster organized this," he said finally, just barely able to force the words out.
"He did. He also told her that Ron would side with her because he was her brother, and that she would likely be able to take Draco's place in your friendship."
Harry felt something within him snap, something thin and brittle that had been on the verge of breaking since earlier in the day when the accusation had been made.
Rage flooded him, bright and sharp and clear with purpose. His hands stopped shaking and he unclenched his fists. He offered Granger and Ron a small smile. "Thank you very much for the information, Granger," he said courteously, because it was always good to be kind to those who provided good intelligence.
He disabled the wards he'd put on the door and spun to face it. "If you'll excuse me, I have an appointment I simply must keep."
He couldn't take on the Headmaster. Not yet. But Ginny… oh, dear, sweet, foolish Ginny. How could she have ever thought that she could take Draco's place in anything? Poor thing. He should pity her for her stupidity, but there was no pity in him. Not for her.
Ginny Weasley was going to regret having ever set eyes on Draco. He would make sure of it.