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Chapter Three- Something simple, like the truth

 

Tuesday, August 16th

 

   The door opened and Draco was ushered unceremoniously inside. His son's lawyer was sitting at the small table, brown curly hair pinned back from her youthful face, and an array of papers in front of her. A woman: he hadn't been expecting that. But it wasn't until she glanced up that he understood the full gravity of the situation. Of his son's situation.

 

   "Granger." he said incredulously, when her familiar brown eyes met his. "Is this a joke?" He turned to the guard beside him, "Is this a..."

 

   His voice trailed off at the annoyed expression on the Guard's face, and he fell silent as he was propelled into the middle of the room. "Sit down, Malfoy. And don't let me hear of any misbehaviour." The Guard then turned his attention to Hermione Granger, who had risen from her own seat, placing her hands over the files on the table. The Guard smiled an apparently reassuring smile, "I'll be right outside, Miss, if there's any trouble, so don't hesitate to call. Mr Malfoy will also be detained in cuffs for the duration of your visit with him, so you needn't worry about being in any physical danger." Draco felt himself being handcuffed to the chair as the Guard made his promise.

 

   "Oh," Granger said with a slight hesitation in her voice. Something which certainly hadn't been there, the last time he'd spoken to her. "Thank you very much, sir." she sat down again, diligently avoiding Draco's eyes as she rearranged the papers in front of her. "I will be sure to inform you when Mr... Malfoy, and I, are done here."

 

   "Very good, Miss."

 

   The Guard left the room, and Draco felt silence settle over its remaining occupants like puddled water. His eyes were firmly rooted on the despondent Lawyer in front of him, and he felt his lip curling into a sneer as the truth of the situation finally became clear to him.

 

   "Oh," he said sharply, causing her to glance up and meet his eyes again, "Everything makes perfect sense now, doesn't it Granger?" She frowned, and made to open her mouth, but Draco interrupted again, "I had wondered why the Ministry were even bothering to assign a Lawyer to my... Nephew's case, but I suppose they have to get a laugh out of all this somehow."

 

   "Mr Malfoy, if you'd just-"

 

   "Please, Granger, I think it's safe for you to drop the formalities now." Draco sneered, "We both know why the Ministry chose you to work on my nephew's case, and I'm fairly certain it's got everything  to do with that long and loyal friendship we have shared over the years." In that instant, Draco's anger dropped into despair, and he placed his shaven head into defeated hands. "I was an idiot." he hissed at himself quietly, "Did I really think that the Ministry were going to play fair? That they were going to give Scorpius a fair chance?"

 

   "Mr Malfoy, I'm afraid I don't quite understand."

 

   Draco looked up sharply, "Don't play dumb with me, Granger." he snarled, giving his chained wrists an animated tug, causing her to flinch pathetically, "You hate me, I hate you. What do you think the Ministry are hoping to achieve through assigning you to Scorpius's case?" Granger's face remained laughably blank, and Draco ground his teeth together as he said, "Let me put it simply for you, Mudblood. You might as well cut out the middle man and suck the soul out of my Nephew yourself."

 

   Hermione Granger's back arched proudly, as if she'd only heard the brutal pet name, and not the man's voiced fear. "You will treat me with respect, Malfoy, if you want to see me do my best for your Nephew's case."

 

   Draco groaned. "Haven't you been listening to me, Granger?" He snapped, "If the Ministry are prepared to sink to such obvious depths so soon, then my... My boy's fate is practically sealed already."

 

   Granger frowned, giving Draco a strange look as she stood up, moving away from his seated form. "Mr Malfoy," she said in an odd voice, (odd, because formality had never been something which the two of them had shared before now), "I understand that you have been confused by your Nephew's case. I have already been informed that despite having the evidence explained to you, you have not yet accepted that Scorpius is responsible for the deaths of Mr and Mrs Hamilton."

 

   "Have not yet accepted?" Draco repeated loftilly, "What are you? Scorpius's defence attorney, or the prosecution." Draco turned away from her, closing his eyes in exasperation of his son's doom. "This is a joke- a bloody joke. Not that it's particularly funny."

 

   "Listen," Granger picked up one of her files, "If it's closure you're after, then I have all the evidence right here. Finger prints, the description of Scorpius's wand, eye-witness accounts, and the last sightings of your Nephew. If you want to see them-"

 

   "No, I don't want to see them!" Draco interupted hotly, his eyes turning to narrow slits as he glared at her, "Because it's all a load of bull. Scorpius is innocent, and you're the one who's supposed to be fighting to prove that!"

 

   "Mr Malfoy, I think you have been rather misinformed of my purpose here." Granger looked almost pitying as she sat back down in front of Draco, "That Scorpius Hamilton is guilty has already been passed. My purpose is simply to lobby for a life sentence, rather than the Dementor's Kiss."

 

   And just like that, Draco Malfoy felt the world crashing down all around him. "Already been passed?" He repeated, his eyes stinging dangerously, "I... I don't understand. They... They can't just decide that, not without hearing... He's innocent, Granger. You have to know that."

 

   Hermione Granger closed her file quietly. "I'm sorry, Malfoy." she said, her tone oddly terse, "I would like to believe it, but the truth is-"

 

   "No!" Draco interrupted desperately, "Granger, you're his only chance. Don't you understand? The Ministry have assigned you because they know you won't overexert yourself in trying to prove my Nephew's innocence, but if I know you at all- and I'm fairly certain that I do- then you wouldn't want to see an innocent boy convicted for something he didn't do, even if he is mine."

 

   "Malfoy..."

 

   "Listen, much as I hate to say this, you have to trust me."

 

   Granger stood up abruptly, reaching for her bag and opening her mouth as if to call out to the guard. But then she felt fingers around her wrist, and she looked down to see one of Draco Malfoy's hands clamped around her exposed forearm. It made her shiver, and she looked up swiftly into his dark eyes.

 

   "Don't." he said, "Not yet. Please, I just..." He glanced over his shoulder at the door, but did not release her wrist. Then he leaned in very close, and whispered into her ear.

 

   "A mobile phone." He said quietly, his eyes flitting over her shoulder. "One of those Muggle devices, with the numbers and little screen which lights up. Do you... Do you have one?"

 

   Granger wrenched her wrist clean out of his grip. "Why?" she asked, her tone sharp. It seemed he'd gotten a little too close for comfort, and evidently unnerved her.

 

   "My Nephew has one. And if I could just speak to him-"

 

   "Oh, Malfoy, I don't know if that's such a good idea." Granger interrupted, reaching for her bag again. But for a second time, Draco stopped her.

 

   "Please." He whispered, staring up at her with earnest eyes. "Even if it's just for a moment. I... I just need to know that he's alright. No one'd ever have to know. Please, Granger."

 

   She hesitated, and then he knew he'd gotten to her. "Alright," she said softly, "But only if you swear to tell him to hand himself in today. The courts will go easier on him if he shows remorse."

 

   "Sure, yes, of course." Draco blurted, overwhelmed that she was really going to let him. "Granger, I don't know how to thank you for-"

 

   "Then don't." She interrupted coldly, "I'll get in enough trouble if anyone ever finds out anyway. I don't need a convicted Death Eater's thanks to make this an even more uncomfortable situation."

 

   Draco nodded curtly, then watched as Granger pulled a strange looking Muggle phone from one of the compartments in her bag. It was ridiculously small, but it was a lifeline, and Draco looked at it as if it were Heaven-sent.

 

   "My top pocket." he said, pushing his chest out towards Granger, who gave him an appalled look. "Please," he added, "The number's in there. I can't-" he wiggled his cuffed hands, "-quite reach."

 

   "Oh. Of course." Granger said, but she hesitated before reaching into his dirty, decrepid robes. "Here." She pulled out the card his son had given him with ease, and she placed it down on the table in front of him. "I must insist," she said, before he could press the numbers into the keypad, "That you set the volume to speakerphone. I refuse to hold that device to your ear, Mr Malfoy."

 

   Draco nodded obediently, and watched as she typed the numbers in, then set the phone down on the table top.

 

   A moment or two of silence passed, but then the phone at the end of the line began to ring.

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, August 13th

 

   Neither Draco nor Scorpius had known what to say after the older of the two finished his story. The silence was roaring between them, and they both felt the intense shiver in the air which told them things would never be the same again. Scorpius had found his father, and Draco had found his son.

 

   But more than that: Scorpius had found that the love he had always been missing, was waiting for him all along. Just waiting to be discovered, and let loose.

 

   "I just don't know if I can call you... Dad, yet." The boy eventually admitted, finding himself unable to look away from the man who was his father. "It's hard."

 

   There was something inside of him, fighting to be free. A desire. A... longing to let himself be loved by this man, but at the same time, an unbearable fear about letting him in. A fear of being hurt. A fear of... becomming him. Or maybe, a fear that all of this might not be so real after all.

 

   "I understand." Draco said, "I wouldn't expect you to. In fact, this is... More than I ever expected."

 

   "I wish I'd known."

 

   "I wish I hadn't had to lie to you."

 

   The two statements seemed to cancel each other out, and father and son stared at each other wordlessly. There wasn't anything that either could say now, but the time would come. They knew that the time would come, and now there was absolutely no reason to rush it.

 

   "You really didn't... Kill anyone?"

 

   "I promise." Draco Malfoy said, his voice almost soft against the silence. "I won't lie to you, Scorpius. I was eager to join the Death Eaters, just as I was eager to do the Dark Lord's bidding. But when it came down to it..." he shook his head gently, "These days, I'm glad that I was too much of a coward to kill. It keeps my conscience a little clearer than it would be, otherwise. Keeps me... sane, in fact."

 

   Scorpius nodded, and Draco found himself reminded that the boy was still just that- a boy- as his eyes shimmered slightly with the overwhelm of new emotion. He was fifteen years old, and this was all so much for him to take on.

 

   "Listen," Draco said, feeling a sadness riverberate in his tone, "I know that this is a lot for you, and if it's too much then you can tell me. I'd understand. I'll always understand."

 

   Scorpius felt a thumping in his chest, "No," he said, shaking his head before his father could even finish the sentence, "I want this-" he paused to think of what to call him. 'Dad', as he'd said, was too intimate for him to use so soon. 'Mr Malfoy' made him sound like a strict teacher, and not a parent. 'Father' was hideously formal, and completely innapropriate for their fragile new relationship. So perhaps 'Draco' would have to do. "I want to know you... Draco."

 

   The older man smiled. "You can come as often as you like."

 

   "Well, I have the whole summer off now, so..."

 

   His father, it seemed, understood without further clarification. "I'll see you soon, then?"

 

   Scorpius smiled widely. "Yes, I'd..." he scratched his head a little awkwardly, "I'd like that."

 

   Draco stood at the same time as his son, holding out a strangely formal seeming hand, following the reconciliation they had just shared. Still, Scorpius took it after only a second's pause, and both men felt the same bolt of electricity pass through them as earlier. It was like they'd discovered something in common, and that thing can only be described as longing. The longing to be loved.

 

   Strange, that they had both gone fifteen whole years, longing to be loved by the other, and not knowing that it was that very feeling which had left them feeling so empty. So very alone.

 

   As their hands clasped, and the time apart elapsed into nothingness, they knew that things would be better now. There was still time, and with time, came hope. They were so full of hope.

 

   "I'll see you tomorrow." Scorpius said, and his dad smiled.

 

   When they pulled apart, the boy pulled a photograph from his pocket and placed it into his dad's hand. It was the only photograph he had from his infancy, and it showed the baby Scorpius being held by a pair of arms he'd never been able to identify before. Before now.

 

   "Have it." he said softly.

 

   Draco clasped it gratefully, then watched his son leave. He turned the picture over, and on the back was a number. He frowned.

 

  

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, August 16th

 

   Ring.

 

   Ring.

 

   Ring.

 

   Ring.

 

   Ri-

 

   "Hello? Who is this?"

 

   "Scorpius?" Draco called out hesitantly, glancing at Granger who was watching him very closely. "Scorpius, is that you?"

 

   "Who is this?" The boy repeated in a voice of increasing desperation, "Please, I haven't done anything wrong. I haven't done anything. Please, stop following me. I just... I just want to go home."

 

   "Scorpius-" Draco tried, in a voice that was slightly choked. He hated the fear that he could hear in his son's voice. And he hated that it was his own fault that the fifteen year old was in this situation.

 

   "Who IS THIS?" The boy cried, his voice more fear-stricken than ever, "How did you get this number? Are you tracking me? How did you know where I-"

 

   "Scorpius!" Draco interupted for the third time, "Please listen, there... There isn't much time." He glanced up at Hermione again, and saw that her eyes were narrowed thoughtfully. God, how he wished he could just see understanding on her face. Still, he lowered his voice, "It's... It's Malfoy, Draco Malfoy."

 

   He hoped his son would detect the low tone, or at least assume that he wouldn't be alone. But unfortunately, it seemed the frightened boy had very little comprehension of anything other than his own desperate situation, and a second later, Draco's eyes met Hermione's again as Scorpius blurted

 

   "Dad?"

 

   Draco stared at Granger, whose eyebrows had dissapeared into her hairline with surprise. In that moment, it didn't matter that Scorpius had never called him Dad before now, or even that Hermione Granger was now looking at him as if he were a filthy liar. All that mattered was that his boy was okay- for now- he was okay. As Granger's face contorted into something else, Draco lowered his eyes and said,

 

   "Yes, it's me. It's me son."

 

   "Oh God, Dad." Scorpius groaned, causing Draco's stomach to clench painfully, "It isn't true. What they're saying about me- it-it isn't true. You have to believe me."

 

   "I believe you, son."

 

   "Oh God," Scorpius wept, "They killed her. They came to my house, and they killed her. And they killed him too, and now... Now they're making everyone believe that it was me, and I... I don't know what to do, dad. I don't know what to do, or where to go, and I'm so scared. I've never been this scared, dad."

 

   Draco could feel tears stinging his eyes, and he didn't dare look up. "Where are you Scorpius? Are you safe?"

 

   "No. I don't know where I'm going, but I haven't been still for days. Every time I stop it's like they've already guessed, and then they're right behind me. I don't know what they want from me, dad-"

 

   Draco leaned towards his cuffed hands, and he rubbed viciously at his watering eyes, "Then you have to keep moving, son. They must have a tracker on you somehow, and until you figure out what it is, they're just going to keep coming."

 

   "Dad, I'm so scared."

 

   "I know." Draco choked, "I know you are. But you can't stop. If you're caught then it's over. I've spoken to... To your attorney, and she's..." Draco glanced back up at Granger, but his eyes were so bleary that he couldn't even make her out anymore. He looked away again, closing his eyes, "She's doing everything that she can for you, son. But you have to promise me- promise me- that you didn't-"

 

   "I didn't, dad. I didn't kill her. I love her, I loved them both."

 

   Draco exhaled his breath slowly from between his teeth, "I knew." He said, quietly, "I knew. I just had to be sure."

 

   "Oh, dad, it was so awful. They-- Oh-- God, no!"

 

   "Scorpius?" Draco asked, his heart rate leaping as he heard the sound of his son's trainers scuffing against the ground, "Are you running? What's going on? Scorpius?"

 

   "Dad, they're here! Oh God, how are they here? How did they find me again so quickly? Dad, I--"

 

   The line cut out.

 

   The phone sat in the middle of the table, humming into the silence. An offensive, high pitched squeal. Like a dying pig. Bacon.

 

   "Scorpius?"

 

   Draco leaned forwards, straining against his cuffs in a desperate attempt to get closer to the phone.

 

   "Scorpius? Can you hear me?"

 

   Granger reached forward hesitantly, before gripping the phone firmly in her palm and pressing the endcall button. The dying pig died, and Draco fell lax against his chains.

 

   For a very long time, there was nothing but silence between them, and then Hermione Granger spoke.

 

   "I have to go."

 

   Draco did not respond, so she rose slowly from her seat, picking up her files and sliding them into her bag as quietly as she could. It was obvious she was treading on egg shells, but Draco didn't even move. He couldn't.

 

   Hermione was halfway to the door, before Draco finally spoke.

 

   "He's my son." he said, in a small, broken voice. Hermione turned, fingertips poised over the doorhandle as she met his eyes. The man looked hopeless, and utterly defeated. "My son." He repeated, "And they want to kill him."

 

   "M... Draco..."

 

   "All I ask," he whispered, unable to meet her eyes no matter how hard he tried, "Is that you... Do your best for him. He deserves that, Hermione."

 

   She stared at him for another few moments, but then she nodded gently. "I'll try." she said, turning the handle. Then she glanced back again, "Draco... I would've tried anyway."

 

   He nodded. She nodded. Then the door opened and she was gone.

 

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