Even the smell of coffee wasn’t enough to distract him from the pile of paperwork currently sitting on his desk, Harry discovered mournfully. He took another sip and stared at the file at the very top–Requisition Form HCJ-8494, filed with the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office, announced the title helpfully–in vain hopes that it would start to fill itself out. It did not.
Perhaps a short break would help; he hadn’t had breakfast yet, his stomach rumbled in reminder, as he’d overslept and nearly missed the weekly Department meeting, which he’d ended up nodding through anyways. In any case, he decided, glancing again at the files scattered over his desk, more caffeine would help the process go faster. Probably.
He traversed the hallway, nodding politely at the tired faces of the other employees of the DMLE. Harry yawned and blinked blearly, nearly walking into a pair of Aurors.
“Morning, Stevenson,” he mumbled apologetically, and was about to walk past when he realized both of them were looking at him uncertainly. “What’s the matter?”
Stevenson hesitated, exchanging glances with the other Auror–Fiona? Flora? The one who’d just past her Auror training, he knew that. She squared her shoulders, turning to Harry. “We received reports that some wizards were using magic in a Muggle-inhabited area…we’ve brought them in for questioning, but we don’t really know what to do with…him.”
She nodded towards the interrogation room, and Harry followed her gesture. He had to rub his eyes to make sure he was seeing clearly.
“That looks like Draco Malfoy,” he said out loud.
“Uh. Right,” replied Stevenson.
“No, you don’t understand,” said Harry. “Malfoy hasn’t been seen in the Wizarding world in ages! Why would he reappear now? What is he up to? Was he using magic against Muggles?”
He noticed, oddly enough, that Stevenson and the other Auror had seemed to take several steps back while he was talking. They exchanged glances again–really, what is with everyone doing that? Hermione and Ron did it in front of him all the time–and then Stevenson said, “Actually, we think he was being targeted by the other wizards…he didn’t even have a wand on him, and his magical signature wasn’t one of those we detected.”
Harry frowned. “What did they cast?”
“Looks like nothing too illegal,” said Stevenson, glancing at the report clutched in his hands. Petrificus Totalus, and Stupefy, although it looks like their spells were interrupted midway. But we haven’t gotten them to tell us much, yet.”
Harry nodded, thoughts moving quickly. “All right, let me in, I’m going to talk to him.”
They didn’t move. “We’re not sure that’s a great idea,” said Francine.
“What, why not?” said Harry, indignant.
“Well,” said Stevenson, “you know how we have those monthly Auror Morale Inspiring Parties? Sometimes the Head Auror drinks too much and gets a bit nostalgic about his youth.”
“We know you liked to follow Malfoy around a lot,” said Freya sagely. “We don’t want anything to…happen.”
Harry was going to kill Ron. “Nothing’s going to happen, I promise you. Now please open the doors.”
Stevenson and Felicity exchanged glances again–Merlin, really?–and then Stevenson struggled and casted the unlocking spell at the door. It was a neat invention from the Department of Mysteries, a modified version of Alohomora combined with a lock code that a caster would initially input, but the additional security came with a lot of hassle, as Harry could attest to. He couldn’t even visit the bathroom last week because someone had accidentally spell-locked the door.
“After you,” said Stevenson, and Harry slid through the doorway. Malfoy looked different up close–the last time Harry saw him was at his trial, a few years ago, looking half-starved, face gaunt and hair lanky. Harry had to admit he didn’t look much better now, although he’d filled out some, and he even dared to look Harry straight in the eyes, unlike before.
“Er…hello, Malfoy,” said Harry, finding himself a little lost for words.
Malfoy, quite rudely, rolled his eyes. “What do you want, Potter? Can I leave now? I know you might be surprised, but I actually have better things to do then sit around with you playing games.”
Well, there was the Malfoy he knew and detested. “I’m just here to ask you a couple of questions, Malfoy. The more you cooperate the sooner you can leave. What were you doing with those wizards?”
Malfoy sighed loudly. “Nothing,” he said, “I was just minding my own business when these dimwits recognized me, okay?”
“What did they do to you?”
“Nothing I couldn’t handle.”
“What were you doing all this time?”
“Quite frankly, that’s none of your business, Potter.”
Harry peered at Malfoy closely. Both his clothing and hair appeared a little disheveled, but he otherwise seemed to be perfectly fine, despite his unwillingness to talk.
“Look Malfoy,” said Harry, opting for another approach. “We’re just trying to help you out here. Any reason those wizards might have attacked you?”
“Merlin’s beard, Potter, you cannot be this dense,” said Malfoy. “It wasn’t anything new to me, so if you don’t have any more questions, then I’ll be glad to take my leave. Good day, Potter.”
Harry sat back, frustrated, as he watched Malfoy leave. Just wait–he would get to the bottom of this.