The resounding echoes in the small cell bounced from wall to wall as the high-pitched clanging grew louder. It pierced through the boy’s ears, but he ignored it, staring straight ahead with his lips sealed shut.
“There. That should do it.” Ronald Weasley said, as he tapped in the last of the spikes to the stone wall. “Now I won’t have to worry about you hiding behind the cell door and sucker punching me as I enter any longer, Malfoy.”
Draco leaned back into the wall, lightly tugging on the thick, steel cuff around his wrists. He wouldn’t give the weasel the satisfaction of knowing he was fully petrified. That simply was not the Malfoy way. Especially to a Weasley.
Ron walked over to the small cot that filled over a quarter of the dingy room and rested down on it, facing his nemesis. “You’ve got the Dark Mark on your arm I’ve noticed. Congratulations, you must have made your daddy so proud.”
Draco continued to stare at the cell door in front of him, utterly resisting the gnawing urge to lash out at the fiery Gryffindor with every stored comeback he had. He clenched his fists, pressing his beautifully manicured fingernails into his palms to remind him to keep his lips shut.
“Don’t feel like chatting, then? You’ll talk. I’m going to make you talk.” Ron said, standing up and advancing closer to the silvery eyed Slytherin. ”I’m going to make you tell me all the nasty little secrets you’ve stored up inside you’re warped little mind.”
Draco‘s lips curled up in an wicked smile, narrowing his eyes while looking directly at him. Ron jerked back, taken by surprise. “You don’t want to know what I’m thinking about right now.” he said in a deep, low growl.
He backed away then, turning to the cell door. “It would be best just to cooperate. This could be over fast for both of you if you did. No one wants to see you hurt.”
Draco dropped his high and mighty act the second the door slammed shut behind Ron. He closed his eyes, feeling the tears burning under his lashes, hoping Harry was fairing a bit better than himself.
In a slightly smaller room, on a slightly smaller cot, Harry sat quietly with his knees pulled up into his chest as he cradled himself for warmth. Albus Dumbledore stood over him baring no expression. He removed his half moon spectacles, rubbing the bridge of his nose to lessen the pressure slowly building up behind his eyes.
“It was only in your best interests that I kept you hidden there. I only wish you would have spoken the full truth to me. Even I can make mistakes.” said Albus, knowing he would get no response, but hoped it would at least lighten the tension hovering over the room.
He studied the boy’s face, resting on his knees, pouting in sadness and betrayal. Occasionally a single tear would escape, trickling down his cheek, captured and devoured by the cloth of his trousers as soon as it reached them.
“Perhaps we can hold off on the interrogation, Harry. Maybe you would like to talk to me now, alone.”
Harry shook his head slightly, keeping his eyes forward, not trusting himself to look up at the man he had idolized since he got his first glimpse of him in the Great Hall, five years before. “Where’s Draco?” he asked in a choked voice.
Albus blinked, surprised the boy had found the courage to speak to him. “He’s in another cell. He’s quite well, no need to worry yourself about him.”
“I was happy.” he said. “For once in my life, I was happy, and you’ve managed to ruin that once again.” He wiped his face quickly, shuddering out light, puffy breaths.
Albus frowned as he replaced his spectacles over his nose. “If you think checking passages for Voldemort is something I can overlook, you’re sadly mistaken. There are hundreds of innocent children lodged in this school, something I would have thought you of all people would take into consideration.”
Harry winced, pulling his knees closer to his chest. “I just wanted to go outside,” he whispered, “I hadn’t really thought about what I was doing.”
“You both are still so young, so naive. He used you, can’t you see that?” Albus said, placing his hand over the boy’s shoulder.
Harry jerked back, shoving it away. “I really don’t think we should discuss using people between us, do you? I may be naive and stupid and trusting, but I’m not completely blind. Last year wasn’t the first time you used me, and I’m certain if there was a tunnel to Riddle House you needed investigated, I’d have been out there in a heartbeat.”
Albus lowered his head, shaking it sadly. “I suppose we should stop here. This conversation hasn’t gone as I’d had hoped.”
“I want to see Draco.” he whispered.
“That can be arranged, Harry, in due time. Right now we need to concentrate on other things, like why the two of you were in that tunnel.” Albus waited patiently for the boy to reply, but nothing more was to be said, it seemed.
“Harry...” he said once more, and the boy shifted his eyes to his direction for the first time. Albus’ lips parted slightly with an inaudible gasp seeing the slight shading of crimson in the flecks of the startling emerald irises in the torchlight.
Severus Snape hurriedly placed the small bottle of Veritaserum on the seemingly unstable table they had erected next to the oversized wooden armchair resting next to it. He glanced down at the chair nervously, giving it a shake with his fingers, tapping it several times with the toe of his shoe before nodding to himself.
Pulling his robes close over his fully black garmented form, he quickly exited the interrogation room. Shifty beetle black eyes scanned the low ceilings over and around the walls, stopping on the dirt floor as he paced himself steadily. No turning back now. Seeing Harry’s cell door at the end of the corridor released the adrenaline flow in his veins, urging him on further.
Nervously fingering the wand in his pocket, he closed in on the small metal casing surrounded by thick, unforgiving stone. He glanced around glaringly, sensing the magical signature looming off towards a darkened thatch in the passage and knew at that instant- he had lost. He pulled the wand, raising it up, pointing it towards the shadow. “Who’s there?” he growled.
“Ah, Severus. I had feared it would come to this. I had so much trust in you in the past, but I knew during our last meeting you weren’t being completely honest.” Albus said, moving into the torchlight.
“I had really hoped I was wrong about you. Now the children will have to suffer even greater as I certainly cannot allow you to stay by them.” He held his hand out, flicking his finger once, and the wand sprung violently from Snape’s grip. “I’m placing you under house arrest by The Order of the Phoenix, Severus. You will remain here for now, until the Minister arrives.”
Severus nodded silently, allowing himself to be moved out of the area, to the third cell door in the corridor. Ron waited patiently by the door, slamming it shut as his ex-potions professor climbed inside.
“We’ll take Harry first.” Albus said, suppressing a frown. “We need to do this now. Send your brothers to get him, I don’t want him anymore upset with you right now.” said Albus, patting the boy’s shoulder.
Remus sat quietly, eyeing the table with his peripheral vision of two wizards and one witch sharing drinks slightly of to the side behind him. His cloak was wrapped snuggly around his shoulders, hood in place to shadow his features as he sniffed the air silently, remembering their scents.
Arabella Figg, a gentle old witch, sat quietly with her back to the werewolf, but he could sense her fear all too easily without seeing the look on her face. She was worried about something greatly, and had no capacity to hide it any longer.
Alastor Moody and Arthur Weasley sat to the sides of the woman, one nursing pints of strong butterbeer, the other drinking something very strong from his flask as they quietly discussed the situation under their breaths. It mattered not how low they spoke, Remus could hear every word leaving their lips.
He gripped his talisman tight in his palm and sipped gingerly at his potion as he absorbed each detail they revealed to him, casting his eyes down occasionally when Moody’s magical eye would rest on him as it casually scanned the room throughout their chat.
Arthur shifted glances his way more than once, showing the wrinkling around his eyes and forehead.
He knew he hadn’t much time before the moon would rise fully, and even the talisman would no longer conceal him. He had to get back, information obtained.
Tom sat at his desk allowing the raw smile to snake over his lips.
“I would just love to know what could be so humourous as to make you smile at a time like this, my Lord. Severus Snape was just arrested. They arrested him before he got into the fucking cell!” Lucius sneered, slapping his palm over the overly antique desk. “My son is in there!”
“Oh, Lucius, my dear, sweet boy.” Tom purred. “Nothing is perfect. That part of my plan was never foolproof.”
The platinum blond stood back, straightening himself up as he gaped down at his master. “What do you mean exactly?” he asked in a curious manner, arching his eyebrow slowly.
Tom stood up and rubbed his hands together furiously. “They will no doubt interrogate Harry first. It would have been Draco, but not anymore...”
He paused, closing his eyes, his hands frozen in a half rub. “They need to find out. They have to know. He knows now that Harry’s the key. They‘re taking him there, he‘s crying...”
“You’re rambling. That doesn’t explain a thing to me.” Lucius snapped.
Tom opened his eyes, feeling slightly nauseous. “I think I need a drink. I’m seeing things.” he said breathlessly.
Lucius twisted long strands of hair around his fingers anxiously as he watched his master stumble over himself. “You’ve gone mad.” he whispered angrily.
Tom braced himself on the desk with his left hand, glaring suddenly at his second in command. “I wouldn’t suggest ever repeating anything like that again, Lucius. It could cause you several physical problems in the very near future. If you can’t put your full trust in me, I have no need of you.”
“No! My Lord, I’m sorry!” Lucius groveled, cursing himself for letting his worry for his son override his emotions. “I have complete faith in your abilities. I won’t falter again. You must forgive me.”
Tom held up a hand, silencing the man in front of him. “Sit, I’ll explain everything. I worry about the boys, too. This wasn’t something I would put them through if I had any other choice.”
“I understand, my Lord.” said Lucius.
He sat quietly as he listened, nodding his head and drawing up a smile of his own.
The misgivings Harry was experiencing were nothing compared to the sudden fluttering in his heart as his cell door opened. Bill and Charlie Weasley stepped into the room appearing forlorn in the task they had to accomplish. Harry backed himself into the wall as they closed in on him.
“We’re not here to hurt you. We just have to move you to another room.” Bill said in a soft, careful voice.
“What room?” Harry asked excitedly, as they each took one of his hands in theirs. “I didn’t do anything. I just want you to know, I‘d never hurt anyone here.”
“We know, Dumbledore only wants to ask you some questions. Ron will be there, right by your side the whole time.” said Charlie, as he tugged at the boy as gently as he could.
Harry shook his head, tugging back at his hands. His heart was pounding hard in his chest now as the two men began to walk him out of the room. “I don’t think I want to see Ron right now. Please don’t make me do this yet.”
Charlie lifted him up in his arms, tossing him lightly over his shoulder. “I swear, we will be right there with you, too. No one is going to hurt you. Please don’t cry.” he whispered in a heartfelt voice as the boy trembled under his arm.
Albus sat stone-faced as Harry was set into the large wooden armchair, avoiding the slight whimpers that escaped his lips as the Weasley boys bound his wrists to the chair’s armrests.
Harry gripped the arms, digging his fingernails into the dead wood to center himself from feeling as he may float away from the spinning in his head.
He quickly looked around the room, seeing the faces he remembered so vividly. Ron and Hermione sat together on a low bench, cuddling each other for support with their eyes averted consciously from his view. He shook his head in disbelief. This couldn’t possibly be happening.
“I missed you both so much... I‘m sorry.” he said softly, gathering his calm. Neither looked up, but both acknowledged him respectfully with a slight nod.
Albus nodded as well, gathering hope as he felt the strength return in the boy. “We all missed you very much, Harry. I’m certain all will go back to normal when this is straightened out.”
Harry’s ears pricked up as the tiny clanking of a glass bottle chimed out. He gripped the chair harder, noticing quickly that his bindings were loose around his wrists, most likely the weakness of the two elder Weasley boys. He kept his eyes to the room, not daring to look down at himself in fear of giving it away.
“Charlie, if you would please administer the dosage, one drop only.” Albus instructed, and he nodded reluctantly, uncorking the bottle he held in his hand.
Harry opened his mouth, allowing the dosage of Veritaserum to fall over his tongue and he swallowed it. He knew he had to get this over with, he only hoped the questioning would be painless. He leaned back as his body relented and calmed the muscles that were stretched beyond belief as he shook uncontrollably.
“Is the potion working, Harry?” Albus asked, standing over the boy.
“Yes.” he said, not resisting.
“I’m going to ask you some questions about your life since the day you disappeared, it might be something you don’t wish you speak of, but we must know.”
The questioning began then, as Harry recalled nearly every day in his life with Voldemort. As the responses slipped past this teeth, he heard the audible gasps of Hermione and the growling under Ron’s breath.
“I had rather hoped Voldemort would have any decency left and not take advantage of a child of your condition, but I was wrong. Do you love him, Harry?”
“Yes, sometimes. I don‘t know why you need to know that.”
“Your loyalties are in question here. Not that it will matter after tomorrow. I’m going to make you forget all about that. You and your friend.”
Harry rubbed across the piece of spellotape under the chair arm he had found a bit earlier, letting it comfort him with it’s smooth surface under the pads of his fingertips.
“Why were you in the tunnels?”
“Tom asked me to see if they still worked. He said I could outside.”
“You haven’t left the mansion since the day you went missing?”
“Have you been casting unforgivables?” He asked then, looking into the boy‘s eyes in full view now.
“No.” replied Harry.
“Interesting. Have you been training lately with the use of them?”
“Yes, everyday with Severus and Sirius. They cast them at me sometimes to keep me alert, but I always avoid them, because they hesitate.”
“So, no unforgivable has touched you since you’ve been missing, and you haven’t cast any yourself?” he asked, boggled. It didn’t make sense.
“What about Draco? Does he cast them?”
Hearing his lovers name, he closed his eyes in sadness, gripping the arms once more.
He felt it then, the familiar, glorious humming of power under his fingertips, plain as day. His wand was taped under the chair’s arm, blazing with magic as he ran his fingers over it.
“I have no idea what spells Draco casts, I did not train with him.” he said robotically. He kept his eyes closed tight, allowing the room to believe his rapid breathing was caused once again by the questioning.
He knew that even if he got his wand into his grip, he wouldn’t have a chance. Five powerful magic users were gathered around him, but he wouldn’t leave it there. He had to get it.
“You and Draco will have your memories erased tomorrow morning, Harry. I’m taking custody of both of you and you will remain here, I’m afraid. I have no choice. The Ministry has called for your immediate arrest, but I have found loopholes around that.” Albus said as he scanned the room once more to all the faces looking down at the floor.
Harry moved quickly, softly peeling the wand from it’s prison, nimble fingers sliding it up into the sleeve of his jumper as he sat watching their eyes, hoping no one would notice.
“I’m sad to say Severus Snape’s fate was not as fortunate. I have to give Fudge something, and he reluctantly agreed upon the Death Eater.” he said scornfully, returning his attention back to the boy.
Harry frowned, feeling the pang of heartache. His world once again being spiraled away from him. His memories, all of his memories would be wiped away. His life with Draco, the only person he would openly smile about when he thought of him.
His life with Tom, a comfort he had willed himself through, now strongly an important part of him. He yearned to lay next to him in his arms, to feel his warmth radiate off of his skin.
The strong urge to pull his wand right then was suppressed, as a small voice spoke gently, guiding him to relax in the back of his mind. “Don’t do anything rash. Keep yourself calm.“
He ground his teeth, fighting it, but it was familiar. A familiar voice he could listen to and trust.
“Ask to see Draco tonight. one last time.” it said softly.
“Will I be able to see Draco tonight? Before you take everything away from me again, Albus?” he asked bitterly, casting his crimson flecked eyes up at the Headmaster.
“I will allow that, for a short period of time. You’ve done well, Harry. I’ll bring him to you after his questioning.” Albus replied with a soft smile. “Tomorrow will begin a whole new life for you, my boy. We all do care very much for you, and we‘ll take good care of you both from now on.”
The bonds fell away from his wrists as Albus waved his wand over them. He stood up quickly, rubbing them, pushing his own wand up his sleeve as far as he could manage.
“I’m ready to go back to my room now.” he said emotionlessly, seeing Ron and Hermione stand next to him. “We’ll take him back, Headmaster.” Hermione said, touching the boy lightly on his shoulder.
Albus nodded. “Bill, Charlie, please bring Draco in after Harry’s back in his cell.” he said sternly, keeping his eye on the trio as they exited the room.tbc