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An hour later, Draco sat in his cell, still fuming over the events of that afternoon.

 

Goody-goody Granger? That's the best the Ministry could come up with for my defense?

 

Draco knew the Ministry had been corrupt during his father's time, but it obviously hadn't changed. Now it was just corrupt in the opposite direction.

 

Clearly, the Ministry was so convinced of his guilt, they weren't even going to attempt to give him a fair trial.

 

He could just see the courtroom now.

 

"Why no, Minister," he pictured Granger saying in her snotty know-it-all voice, "I don't believe Mr. Malfoy is a danger to the whole of wizarding society. Just Muggle-borns, Squibs, Muggles, and house-elves. Here, I've drawn up a chart in chronological order of all his misdeeds, starting with the first time he called me a Mudblood." The crowd would ooh-and-aah over her thoroughness.

 

Draco ran a rough hand through his unkempt hair. It was getting longer and more ragged every day, annoying him to no end. He felt the walls of his cell closing in on him, tormenting him with the urge to be in a larger space.

 

Six to eight weeks before he could even get a new Defense Inquisitor. A new Inquisitor who would likely be as much of a joke as his last one.

 

More time in Azkaban seemed unbearable, but six to eight weeks was merely a drop in the ocean compared to the amount of time he likely had left there.

 

He couldn't think about that. Unwittingly, his thoughts went back to Hermione Granger. What was she doing now? Walking outside in the sunshine? Enjoying the smell of fresh air? Was the wind blowing through her hair?

 

Ironically, his thoughts veered. What happened to her hair? It had been straight when he saw her this afternoon. He almost didn't recognize her at first. Maybe she'd finally had enough of that bushy rat's nest of a mane she called hair at Hogwarts. Besides that, she looked mostly the same as he remembered.

 

The last time he'd seen her had been after the Battle of Hogwarts. She'd looked battered and tired, but somehow, remarkably vibrant.

He was sitting in the corner with his parents after Voldemort's defeat, mostly being ignored by everyone. Almost every person he saw seemed relieved, and Draco had been too, but he also knew a new set of problems was coming for him and his family.

 

After all, they weren't really on the winning side. Sure, his mother had helped save Potter and that would count for something, but would it be enough? For her, maybe, but not for Draco or his father.

 

So, he and his parents had left Hogwarts quietly and gone into hiding the next day. They evaded capture and lived a free, albeit stifled, life until a few months ago. They'd gone to one of the Malfoy estates in France to collect money and valuables so they could continue to live, only to be arrested by Aurors almost immediately upon arriving.

 

"Visitor!" A gruff voice and sharp knock on his cell door broke Draco from his memories.

 

Who could possibly be visiting him? His thoughts went to Granger, but he quickly dismissed them. She didn't want to see him anymore than he wanted to see her. She wouldn't be back. He'd made sure of that by what he'd said to her.

 

Draco followed the guard to the same room he'd met Granger in earlier and saw his mother sitting at the table.

As soon as he entered, Narcissa Malfoy rushed to his side and grasped him in a firm hug.

 

"Draco, darling!" She sounded pained. It was an overly emotional display for her, but the situation being what it was, Draco assumed she was not thinking much of social convention.

 

"Mother." Draco returned her embrace wholeheartedly. He was starved for company and had missed her. "How are you?"

 

"My charges have been cleared." She smiled but there were tears in her eyes.

 

"Good. I knew they would be—you never hurt anyone." Draco returned her smile. Even though he knew he wouldn't be so lucky should his case ever make it to trial, he was relieved his mother would have her freedom.

 

"So, how did your meeting with your Defense Inquisitor go?" Narcissa asked.

 

"How did you know about that?" Draco eyed her as they both sat down.

 

"I requested it." She sniffed. "It's atrocious how long you've been sitting in here waiting for a trial."

 

Draco groaned. "Even if I get a trial, it's not going to do me much good. Besides, I need to be assigned a new Inquisitor. The one they sent was a farce."

 

"Who did they send? I specifically asked for that Granger girl!"

 

"You requested her? Why would you do that?"

 

His mother spread her palms. "She's the best. Of all the Ministry's Inquisitors, she's won the most cases. In fact, she got Mrs. Parkinson's charges cleared by proving her husband was forcing her to act alongside him. Poppy's followed her trials ever since and said the girl is a real genius."

 

"She hates me, Mother!" Draco threw his hands in the air. "You know that! She hates our whole family and has every right to. Don't you remember what Bellatrix did to her at the Manor? Hermione Granger's not about to turn around and start proclaiming my innocence!"

 

"You didn't torture her." Narcissa waved her hand. "Besides, all the other Inquisitors have grudges against your father. They'd be much more likely to have it out for you. The Granger girl is Muggle-born, so she doesn't have those kinds of ties to us. She's the best option."

 

"Mother, I don't think you understand. I was terrible to her at Hogwarts—and her friends. There's no way she could be impartial."

 

Narcissa shook her head. "Poppy assured me. The girl has integrity and a strict moral code. Apparently, she joined the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to free house-elves. Can you imagine? That girl is a bleeding heart."

 

"It doesn't matter! I'm not—"

 

"I don't care what you have to do. Make her feel sorry for you. Seduce her, for all I care. Just get her to trust you, and she will plead your case."

 

"Mother, I—"

 

"Listen to me, Draco. I lost your father. I will not lose you too. Do you understand?"

 

Draco could see the desperation and fear in his mother's eyes, and he softened towards her. "All right." He sighed. "I'll try. But it might be too late. I already told her I didn't want her to be my Inquisitor."

 

Narcissa set her mouth in a firm line. "I'll take care of it. Just work with her. You can get out of here, I know you can."

 

Draco knew better than to argue with his mother when she was that determined. He sighed again and changed the subject. Like it or not, it looked like Hermione Granger was about to become his Defense Inquisitor.


A/N: I apologize this is such a short chapter. To make it up to you, I plan on posting again on Sunday. Hope you enjoyed it! I had a lot of fun writing Narcissa in this story, so I hope you like this introduction to her. We will be seeing more of her.

 

As always, please leave a review if you like this story so far! I don't think if words can properly express the joy I feel when I get a new review (I know, I should probably get a life, but alas . . .)

 

In other news, the Amazon pre-order page is up for my debut novel, Desperate Forest, so I'm super stoked about that! You can check it out by searching me (Cece Louise) on Amazon, or "Desperate Forest" in the Kindle store. Or just click here!

 

Until next time!

Cece Louise

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