Draco’s glad his father isn’t here.
The entire wizarding community seems to be crammed into the room, which Draco is starting to suspect is subtly and magically expanding every time someone steps through the courtroom doors, but Lucius Malfoy is notably absent.
Not much freedom to attend your son’s trial when you’ve been locked up in Azkaban for murder and association with the Dark—
Draco feels exhausted, wrung-out and hollow. There’s an ever-present ache gnawing at the pit of his stomach, and he can feel his mother shaking beside him, even though Narcissa Malfoy is standing ramrod straight, chin tilted proudly.
Not a Malfoy by blood, but someone has to save the family’s pride and Narcissa seems to have shouldered the mantle.
But this is it, isn’t it? They’re not likely to be shown any mercy by a community hungry for retribution from those who aided a maniac’s second bid for world domination.
So who gives a fuck about pride now?
Merlin, he’d been so bloody stupid. Draco Malfoy, Death Eater. A glorified pawn more like, scurrying to please You-Know-Who. But in the end, he hadn’t even been able to do that, had he?
That sick, guilty relief when Snape had stepped out of the shadows that night on the Astronomy Tower.
The night is burned into Draco’s mind, something he doesn’t even think an obliviate will be able to erase. That night had started something horrible – and it wasn’t until Draco had been standing there in his own home, stomach clenching in horror as his aunt traced long-nailed fingers down his cheek and told him he was a good boy, draco… such a good boy… just like your father, you are… that he realized how much trouble he was truly in.
Was this really the world he’d been picturing when he’d accepted the Dark Mark?
It’s still now, an ugly black scar on his forearm that no amount of magic will ever erase.
Something like that doesn’t fade easily, and he’ll have plenty of time to contemplate its shape in Azkaban.
Maybe they’ll put him in a cell near his father.
The Wizengamot is called to order and Draco and Narcissa stand together in the middle of the room.
A hush falls over the crowd – and there is a crowd. It’s a high profile trial, Draco supposes. The Malfoy family’s fall from grace, aiding and abetting the rise of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named from the shadows.
“Did you hear about the Malfoy family? Death Eaters, the lot of them. Helped You-Know-Who rise to power again. My third cousin was killed in the battle, you know. Arrested, for being a half-blood.”
Draco can’t look Kingsley Shacklebolt in the eye and looks at the other members of the Wizengamot instead. There aren’t many friendly faces in the crowd. Some openly scowl at him, and Draco knows with a sinking heart that his fate and that of his mother’s has already been decided.
These people don’t want to hear his story – they want revenge. They want retribution.
It passes in a blur – there are testimonies, there are arguments. Draco can’t speak – can’t find the words to defend himself. What’s the point?
Narcissa answers the questions readily —
“Did you knowingly harbor Death Eaters such as Bellatrix Lestrange in your own home?”
“Did you ever knowingly and willingly harbor Lord Voldemort himself in your home?”
“Did you have knowledge of your husband’s activities?”
It goes on like this, Narcissa’s quiet voice almost drowned out by the angry muttering and whispering sweeping the onlookers.
Quills scratch and bulbs flash around them – this will be in every wizarding publication for weeks.
The Minister of Magic raises his gaze to the room. “If there are no other witnesses for the defendants, then we’ll begin the vote.”
The door to the courtroom opens with a loud creak.
An amazed whisper ripples through the room faster than light and Kingsley Shacklebolt pauses.
“Sorry to interrupt,” Harry Potter says and the room explodes into noise.
Draco thinks he must be hallucinating. Potter looks thinner than he did when Draco last saw him, last caught a glimpse of him broken and tiny in the half-giant’s arms.
HARRY POTTER IS… DEAD.
Merlin, he’d thought—
And then he’d turned his back on Hogwarts again.
Then Potter had moved, had somehow become the Boy Who Lived Twice, and pandemonium had struck the school, a final desperate bid for freedom.
They’d fought back. And they’d won.
Self-preservation had driven him from the battlefield but Draco had turned his head, just once, his father’s grip tight on his shoulder, and tried to catch a glimpse of Harry Potter again.
They could have been friends, maybe. Once upon a time.
But now, here’s Harry Potter at his trial, standing framed in the gigantic doors of the courtroom, frowning against the bright lights of the cameras and ignoring the murmurs and the whispers. His hair is all over the place, like he’d raked fingers through it before coming inside, and his muggle t-shirt is a size too big, hanging off him like sackcloth.
He wore muggle clothes to a Wizengamot trial. Draco might be losing his mind.
Harry strides forward, down the aisle, past the seats and the crowd and towards Draco and Narcissa in the center of the room.
“Got a bit lost, there, Minister,” Harry raises his voice and the chatter dies instantly. The whole world is hanging on Potter’s every word, and for the first time, Draco gets the strange impression that Potter loathes the attention.
It strikes him that maybe Potter’s always hated the attention, that the deep-seated jealousy Draco had always felt for Potter’s casual fame was misplaced.
And Draco’d thought he couldn’t feel worse.
Next to him, Narcissa is frozen in shock.
Kingsley Shacklebolt sits back in his chair. “Is there something you’d like to add to the record, Mr. Potter?”
There’s a strange look on Kingsley’s face, like perhaps he knows what Harry is going to say.
Harry strides past Draco without looking at him, placing himself square in the middle of the room in front of the Malfoys, standing between them and the Wizengamot and stands tall.
“I would like to witness for the defendants,” he says, clearly, and the room erupts.
Draco gapes at the back of his head.
Shacklebolt motions for silence and it takes a moment, but the room quiets.
“Go ahead, Mr. Potter,” Kingsley Shacklebolt says, and Harry rolls his shoulders. Draco notices his fingers, tapping anxiously on his thigh, and wonders what the bloody hell could have possessed Potter to stand in front of the Wizengamot like this.
“Draco and Narcissa Malfoy saved my life,” Harry Potter announces to the entire wizarding world. “Without them, I would not be standing here. And neither would many of you.”
Draco’s knees go weak. Potter cannot be serious right now – he can’t possibly think that defending a Death Eater isn’t going to come back to haunt him, no matter how famous he is. He cannot possibly be throwing away his reputation on the Malfoy family.
The room is dead silent – even the reporters’ quills have stopped in shock, frozen on the parchment.
Shacklebolt motions for Harry to continue.
And continue he does.
“There’s a lot you don’t know about the night that Voldemort died.”
Draco grips the railing, unable to stand straight without support, and listens as Harry Potter spins a tale. He talks about the night in the mansion, the night Draco lied, and Draco can picture it like it’s happening right there in the courtroom.
He’d known it was Potter – he’d knelt there on the stones, Bellatrix breathing heavy over them both, and stared into an impeccably cast Stinging Jinx and known, deep in his bones, that Harry Potter knelt in front of him.
He could open his mouth – one word would bring the Dark Lord to his living room and Potter would be dead, wiped from the earth forever and Draco’s family would be back in favor. Back at the Dark Lord’s right hand again, and he’d be safe and protected, his reputation restored, honor back to the Malfoy family name in the eyes of the Dark Lord.
But that was the crux of it, wasn’t it? Draco is a coward. He hadn’t been able to rid the world of Albus Dumbledore and he couldn’t get the words to pass his lips to condemn Harry Potter either.
Potter’s eyes were green and huge against the horrific disfigurement of his face.
“I can’t be sure,” Draco had croaked, even though every fiber of his body was screaming at him surety, positive that the boy in front of him was the same boy who’d refused to shake his hand six years ago.
His parents and Bellatrix had immediately started bickering, the noise far above where Draco and Harry were kneeling, and Draco’s blood had surged.
Stop him, he’d thought, fiercely. Merlin’s sake, Potter, you’re probably the only one who can.
There was no way Potter had heard him – Draco was no Legilimens– but he’d felt it all the same.
And Potter had gone and done the impossible.
And now he’s standing in front of Draco again, back to him, putting Draco in his debt with every word he speaks.
Harry’s describing the forest now and Draco listens.
Listens to what his mother had done.
Listens to how Potter, lying prone on the grass while You-Know-Who gloated his victory, had breathed into Narcissa’s ear that her son lived, and how Narcissa Malfoy had straightened her back and lied to the Dark Lord.
Draco tears his gaze away from the back of Potter’s head and stares at his mother. She’s looking down at him and he’s shocked to see she’s crying, tears streaking her cheeks, chin trembling minutely. She reaches out and takes his hand and Draco feels dangerously on the edge of crying himself.
It’s all too much – his head is full and confused, stomach in knots and pride shattered in pieces on the flagstones.
He just wants it to be over, but Harry Potter is still defending them.
“Were it not for the bravery of Draco Malfoy and his mother, I would not be standing here today. They lied to someone who could invade their minds, and by doing that, they saved my life on two separate occasions.” Harry turns his head then, and his eyes find Draco’s for the first time since Malfoy Manor all those weeks ago.
Harry gives him a tiny, exhausted smile. “And I think that probably means something, don’t you, Minister?”
He turns back to face the Wizengamot. “Questions for the witness?” he asks, mild, like he hasn’t spent the last twenty minutes turning the entire trial upside down and inside out. He’s hoarse from talking and Draco wants to drag him out of the room, away from the eyes of the world, and shake him.
Why, you idiot? Why would you do this? You saved my life in the Room of Requirement, you don’t have a debt to repay, why why why why why—
Consumed in his thoughts, Draco misses the Wizengamot muttering amongst themselves, misses Harry incline his head Kingsley’s way and step off to the side.
“In light of this new evidence and testimony,” Kingsley’s voice is booming, deep and gravely serious, and Draco’s spine stiffens. “certain actions, while not excusable, have been given deeper meaning.”
The Minister of Magic lifts his eyes and looks down at Draco and Narcissa. “I move that Draco and Narcissa Malfoy be cleared of charges on the condition that they report for mandatory Ministry check-ins and undergo Auror surveillance.”
The room erupts – again – into chaos, but Draco can’t hear anything over the ringing in his ears, because the members of the Wizengamot are raising their hands, voting yes, and there’s one, two, three, too many to count and it’s a majority, barely, but it passes, he’s not going to Azkaban, his mother isn’t going to Azkaban, they can go home, they’re—
Narcissa crumples, face in her hands, shoulders shaking as she cries and Draco’s knees go weak, dropping to her side and putting a numb arm around his mother’s thin shoulders.
Shacklebolt is calling for order, but no one is paying much attention. There’s a wave of reporters trying to reach Potter, and—
Potter. Potter, bloody hell, he has to say something. Draco can’t just let this go – he’s so deep in Potter’s debt now that his children will be paying it back to Potter’s children.
“Potter,” he croaks and looks for him, but there’s a crush of bodies in his way and Potter’s nowhere to be seen, and come on, no one can Apparate out of the courtrooms, Potter has to be somewhere around here—
Something brushes past him. There’s a wide circle of space around the Malfoys – they may be absolved in the eyes of the law, but they’ll never be absolved in the eyes of society – and a hand touches his shoulder.
Draco can’t see him, but he gathers the tattered remains of his pride around him, scrounging for whatever scraps are left, and tips his chin up.
“Thank you, Harry,” he says, firmly, and the hand squeezes his shoulder once before slipping away.
Draco returns his gaze to the stones beneath his knees and holds his mother close and tries desperately not to miss the contact of Potter’s hand on his shoulder.
Someday. He’ll make it up to him.
The Malfoy family never forgets a debt.
And then, maybe, once they’re finally back on even ground, Draco will offer his hand for Potter to shake.
And maybe this time, Potter will take it.