SPOILER ALERT I don't own Harry Potter.
Draco Malfoy knocked on the office door in front of him three times. Putting his hands in his pockets, he let his eyes wander around the auror office of the ministry of magic, in which he was currently standing.
It was a large room, though fairly dark, given that there were no windows. It was the conference room for aurors, who all had their own private offices leading off. Each door had an auror's name on it in golden script. The walls were all coated with pictures of dark wizards currently on the loose. There were substantially less wizards on the walls than in the past, given that the Dark Lord was dead and gone.
It had been seven years since the battle of Hogwarts, where the ever so annoying boy-who-lived had finally put Voldemort where he rightfully belonged. All the mysteries: Voldemort's immortality, the various disappearances, and Potter's fake death had all been solved. Since then, the wizarding world had been ever so light. All the death eaters who had survived were tried and sent to Azkaban, including Draco's father. Pure blood supremacy had been stamped out, the wizarding world cracking down on anyone who showed the slightest sign of bigotry. Knockturn alley had been closed down and raided; all dark objects discovered had been destroyed on sight.
The wizarding world had destroyed any remaining possibilities of the dark washing over and choking the world until nothing remained. Draco didn't particularly mind that. The last year that the Dark Lord had been in power had been hell for him. He couldn't go back to Hogwarts because of his involvement with Dumbledore's death, so he was stuck with his parents and crazy aunt at the Manor. He had spent his time torturing prisoners and occasionally doing missions. He had felt so alone, so guilty and so evil. He had quickly learned that everything he had ever known about purebloods, and Voldemort had been drastically wrong. He could still remember the screams of the tortured as he caused them unimaginable agony…..
Draco shuddered. He pulled his mind back to the present. He avoided thinking about that year at all costs. He had hated it; that year had represented everything he had ever wrongfully wanted and all the mistakes he had ever made. Surprisingly, though Draco still had no idea how, he had managed to escape Azkaban, along with his mother.
His mother escaping Azkaban was understandable: she had lied to Voldemort and saved Harry Potter after the incident in the woods. That incident was now legend. Everyone knew the tale of how Narcissa Malfoy had put her life in jeopardy to stop Potter's death fraud from becoming the knowledge of the Dark Lord. This had led to the death of Voldemort at the hands of the chosen one.
But Draco escaping Azkaban was still a mystery. He hadn't done anything good at all. He couldn't show that he didn't deserve a life in prison. He was responsible for Dumbledore's death. He had tortured and killed. Even worse, he had stood back and watched people being tortured and killed. He had never protected anyone. He felt as though he should be punished for his sins; he was incredibly guilty. He wanted to feel the hurt he had caused others. But yet, no punishment was thrust upon him. He had been pardoned by the wizard courts, and let back into the world. The only piece of punishment was a heavy warning that if he ever so much put a toenail out of line, the courts would get him a family cell for him and his death eater father.
The office door in front of him opened, shaking Draco from his thoughts. Draco looked at the man in the doorway. Blaise Zabini stood in front of him with a goofy, lop sided grin on his face. Draco smiled at his best friend.
The tall, buff, and dark haired man stood at ease in the presence of the ex-death eater. Blaise had stood by him throughout the entire process of his trial and the aftermath of the battle. His other friends had abandoned him, even though they had also been involved. Blaise, with his exceptional morals for a Slytherin, hadn't been involved with the Dark Lord in the slightest. He hadn't even bullied people at the school level.
After Hogwarts, he had managed to get himself a place in auror training, something he had always wanted to do, but would never admit. Draco, who had known Blaise well enough , had put the clues together simply based on his choices for NEWT classes. When Draco had confronted him about it, Blaise had simply said,
" I don't want to be a death-eater like the rest of you. I don't even want them to exist. I'd rather fight evil than take part in it. But there is no way in Merlin's name that I'm going to admit that surrounded by the offspring of dark wizards. I'm not a total moron." Draco respected his not total moronicness.
So he had entered the auror program, alongside the famous Harry Potter. Blaise, being a good guy, had shown no animosity towards the chosen one. The Pothead had responded vigorously. Blaise and the boy wonder had struck up a friendship, and now, seven years later, they were partners in the auror office.
"Draco!" Blaise exclaimed, his voice booming out. He pulled Draco into a hug. Draco knew there was no use resisting. Blaise was ridiculously strong, even if he was as cuddly as a giant teddy bear.
"How was Moscow?" Blaise asked, gesturing Draco into his office. Blaise's office was much brighter than the rest of the auror department. He had fixed windows, which shone into his office all day and night, (you've got to love magic). The walls were not covered with wanted wizards like the rest of the auror department. They were instead covered with photos of Blaise's family and friends. There was one of Draco right in the centre of the wall; his photographic self was continuously tripping over a chair. Blaise had gotten him pissed drunk and proceeded to take a photo as he fell over. Draco was usually agile and coordinated, but being drunk had wreaked that birth given gracefulness. He had fallen face first onto the ground. He had been unconscious for hours.
"Good, good," said Draco, walking over and leaning on the desk, gazing out of the window. "The new office is up and running smoothly."
"Awesome," exclaimed Blaise, walking over and clapping him on the back. "We should go celebrate! I swear, Draco; Malfoy Industries will be worldwide soon enough."
Draco smirked his trade mark smirk. Malfoy Industries was his pride and joy. The company he had founded after the war was booming, in locations across three continents, raking in galleons from across the world.
"Sure, mate," Draco nodded. "I'm in need of vodka. I am seriously missing Russia. Merlin, what a place."
"Yeah, it's the vodka you're missing," Blaise chuckled, winking suggestively and wagging his eyebrows. "Are you sure it isn't a lady you're missing? Russian girls, oh merlin."
Draco rolled his eyes. Blaise was so predictable. "Aren't you engaged mate?"
Blaise laughed again. "Yep, but Padma knows that she's the only girl for me. You know, because she's so gorgeous, lovely, kind and amazing."
Draco shook his head, smirking. "I still don't know how you managed to snag Padma Patil."
"Hey!" Blaise retorted, looking offended. He gestured to himself. "I'm a charming and handsome man!"
"Sure, Blaise," Draco said, trying to keep a straight face.
Blaise rolled his eyes. "Are we getting that drink or what?"
"Yeah mate," Draco said, turning, so Blaise couldn't see the smile still upon his face. "Shall we?" He said, gesturing to the door.
"Yeah," Blaise replied, grabbing his coat and exiting the office. "Ladies first," Draco muttered, still trying not to laugh, and following him back out to the auror department.
Blaise pretended not to have heard him. He probably didn't even care though. Draco and Blaise had common banter; insulting each other was their version of a conversation. It seemed to only strengthen their friendship. Screw logic.
They had just started to walk towards the elevators at the other side of the office when a voice called them back.
"Oi! Zabini!" the voice shouted. They turned.
Rushing up to them, his glasses lopsided, was the original Scarface himself, Harry Potter. Looking virtually unchanged, with his unkempt black hair, bright green eyes, and annoying scar, he handed a file to Blaise. Potter practically threw it into his hands, the Slytherin fumbling to catch it.
"Could you look into that for me?" Potter burst out. Blaise looked confused, but shrugged, nodded and opened the file none the less.
"Hey, Scarface," Draco drawled, drawing the chosen one's attention to the him.
"Ferret," Potter replied, nodding. Over the years, the two had learned to deal with each other, mainly because of Blaise. Their mutual friendship and respect for the moral Slytherin changed things. Blaise had told Draco once that Potter thought that since he was friends with Blaise, he wouldn't hate on Draco too much, emphasis on too much. Potter was unwilling to cause friction between the two of them. Though the years of hatred could never be erased, Draco, though he would never admit it, was very thankful to Potter for saving his life in the final battle of Hogwarts. It had slightly lessened the quantity of annoyance Potter caused Draco.
"How was Moscow?" Potter asked him, eyes still on Blaise while he sifted through the file.
"Pretty good," Draco replied curtly. He had never really cared for small talk. He instead watched as Blaise eyes raced over the contents of the file, with Potter's anxious eyes never leaving his face.
Blaise sighed and shook his head. "Harry, I really don't think…"
"Please Blaise," Potter pleaded, cutting across him.
Blaise looked like he wanted to refuse whatever Potter was asking. After a few seconds of looking over the boy who lived way more than expected, he sighed, obviously giving in, and nodded. Years with the pothead had made him soft, Draco reckoned.
"Thanks Blaise," Potter said gratefully.
"I wouldn't get your hopes up, Harry," Blaise replied, looking grim. "It's been years."
"I know," Potter said, looking pitifully downtrodden. "But I can't lose hope."
Blaise sighed. "I'll look into it Harry, I promise, but right now, Draco and I need to go."
Potter smiled at Blaise, nodded at Draco, turned and left. Blaise looked after him, pity in his eyes. He then turned around and headed to the elevators, Draco trailing after him. Once they were safely isolated from the rest of the ministry in an empty elevator, Draco turned to Blaise, his eyebrow raised questioningly.
"Granger," Blaise responded curtly, averting his eyes. Ah yes, Draco nodded, fully understanding.
For that was the one mystery left after the war: what had happened to Hermione Granger.
She had been there by Potter's side up through the battle, fighting against evil, searching for horcruxes, helping the wounded. She had even been there as well in the immediate aftermath, making statements, cleaning up the world and helping Potter, who had seemed to go a little over the edge after killing the dark lord. Draco had personally thought he was just overworked.
Then, a week after the Dark Lord went six feet under, she had disappeared out of the blue. There was no trace of her anywhere. The Wizarding World had gone ballistic, understandably. Everyone had thought the dark side was dead and gone, never to question the light again. But then Hermione Granger, best friend of the chosen one, war heroine, and beacon of hope, disappeared from the face of the planet. Potter, using the influence being the boy-who-lived came with, had splashed her face across every wizarding newspaper in the world. He had sent hundreds looking for her; she was practically his sister after all.
Weasel King had been similarly distraught. After the war he had been helping out the same why Granger had been, but the second the bookworm had disappeared, he had locked himself up. He stayed in his pigsty of a house for months before emerging, and when he had emerged, he had been pale, sickly and skinny. The disappearance of his bookworm seemed to have sucked the life out of him. Potter had been very similar. It had taken the two of them years to begin living again. Actually, Draco wasn't even sure they had started to live again.
They had looked for her endlessly. The whole of society had looked all across the world for her, to no avail. Then here the world was, seven years later, no closer to finding her than the day she had disappeared.
Eventually, people had begun to forget about Hermione Granger. She had been gone for so long that people did a little double take if her name was mentioned. The case was still open, Blaise was the head of it, but there was never any news. Hermione Granger was gone, physically and spiritually. Draco hadn't even really thought about the bookworm in years.
"Did Potter find another lead?" Draco asked, a little dumbfounded that after all this time, scarface still had hope.
"Apparently," Blaise replied. The elevator had stopped. The two of them walked out into the atrium. "But I doubt it's real. It's been too long. I doubt we'll ever find her."
Draco nodded, completely in agreement. "Have you tried telling Potter that?"
Blaise shook his head. "The poor guy has lost so much in his life. He can't lose her. He'll break."
Draco nodded, somewhat understanding Potter's predicament. Potter had lost practically everyone he had ever loved, his parents, his godfather, professor Lupin, Dumbledore. He couldn't stand to lose his best friend as well. Even though the truth was that he had probably lost her the second she had disappeared.
"Leaky Cauldron?" Draco asked, trying to lighten the mood. Blaise nodded, still looking a little low. Draco knew that Blaise felt terrible for his friend. Draco smiled hopefully, gesturing Blaise into a fireplace, floo-powdering away. Hopefully, in a few drinks, Blaise would be the happy teddy bear he usually was.
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