(Un)Happily Ever After by smprsgrrl
Summary: After eight years in France, Ginny finds herself a stranger in her own family. When she returns to Britain, she goes to work as a barrister. And that was how she ended up defending Draco Malfoy against accusations that he murdered Harry Potter.
Categories: Works in Progress Characters: Arthur Weasley, Draco Malfoy, Ginny Weasley, Molly Weasley
Compliant with: None
Era: Future AU
Genres: Humor
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 3 Completed: No Word count: 6501 Read: 10149 Published: Dec 01, 2006 Updated: Jan 04, 2008

1. Chapter 1 by smprsgrrl

2. Chapter 2 by smprsgrrl

3. Chapter 3 by smprsgrrl

Chapter 1 by smprsgrrl
(Un)Happily Ever After – Chapter 1


When I think about it, I can’t help but blame my parents. It’s definitely their fault. Don’t get me wrong – I love my parents. Mum and Dad did the best they could for all of us, but by the time I came along, they were exhausted. Sometimes I think they were exhausted with Ron as well, but because he was the sixth boy they were just going through the motions at that point.

And then there was me. A girl. I was only the third girl born to either a Prewett or a Weasley in four generations. I’m sure there was a magical reason behind it, but there were always boys. In the beginning, Mum and Dad hoped they would have a girl, but by the time the twins were born, they knew their fate was to never have a girl. But then there was me. So despite the fact that they were bloody exhausted, they did the best they could.

When I young, my dad would read Muggle fairy tales to me before bedtime. You know the stories that always have a beautiful princess who is rescued by a handsome prince, and they always lived happily ever after. After a while, I began to resent those stories. I didn’t see myself as beautiful, and there were certainly no handsome princes riding up on their white horses to rescue me. When I turned nine, Dad decided I was too old for the fairy tales and I was relieved when he started bringing Bill’s outdated history books up to read to me. I know it sounds boring, but I loved hearing about the different battles wizard-kind had fought in. In his own way, Dad was preparing me for that fateful day when I would receive my owl from Dumbledore requesting my presence at Hogwarts.

My time at Hogwarts was special, but it wasn’t Earth-shattering. When I meet someone today and mention that I attended school with Harry Potter, they start asking all sorts of questions about him. That would be how I would describe it in general. At Hogwarts, I was so busy with the people around me that I almost forgot to get to know myself. Of course, I didn’t realize this until my sixth and seventh year when Harry, Ron, and Hermione weren’t there. I missed them dearly, but during that time I found out who my real friends were (Luna, Neville, and Colin) and weren’t (Lavender and the Patil twins).

I also got over Harry Potter. Even though I never admitted it, Harry broke my heart during my fifth year when he broke up with me. I know it’s unlikely that people begin dating at Hogwarts and stay together forever, but I thought we’d have more than just a few months together. During the summer, before he left, things were increasingly more awkward between us as he wanted things to go back to how they were. He didn’t seem to understand that I couldn’t go back. I waited for him for a bit, but at the beginning of my sixth year, I knew it was never meant to be. Funny enough, it was Draco Malfoy who helped me realize that. He told me that if “Potter had wanted it badly enough, he would have found a way to make it work.” At the time, I had rolled my eyes at him and stormed off, but his words hit their intended mark. Not long after that I sent Harry an owl telling him I understood why he broke things off and I hoped he found someone who made him happy, because that’s what I was planning to do.

That was then, of course. Eight years ago. I went on to finish Hogwarts as the top student in my year and immediately went to work for the Daily Prophet. By that time, Magical Britain and Voldemort were at war. My mother was fearful that something would happen to me, especially if I was sent to cover the story on the front line so she had my father pull some strings and have me reassigned to Paris. I wasn’t happy about it, but I couldn’t fault my parents. Bill was still recovering from the attack by Fenrir Greyback, Percy was still estranged from the family, and the rest of their children were fighting on a nearly daily basis. They wanted at least one of us to be safe. With tears in my eyes, I packed all of my belongings into a tattered suitcase and used a Portkey to France.

The first year I spent in France was the hardest of my life. I think I cried for my parents and brothers every night. I wanted to go home, but Mum wouldn’t hear of it. She kept me abreast of the situation in Britain, but we both knew I couldn’t come home until it was completely safe. The war raged for seven years and I never saw a battlefield. Two of my brothers (Charlie and Percy) died, and I was not allowed to come home for their funerals. What’s more, my parents expected me to be happy while I was in Paris. They wanted me to travel and enjoy myself, which seemed like an impossible request. My body might have been in France, but my heart and soul were in Britain with the rest of my family.

After the first year, it became easier for me. I resigned myself to the situation I was in and knew I had to make the best of it. I worked hard at the newspaper, and when I wasn’t writing I was studying. I knew from the beginning I didn’t want to be a reporter for the rest of my life – even if I didn’t know what I wanted to be. I studied creative writing, teaching, and business at the local university before I finally settled on law. It was a bit odd, because I had never wanted to be a barrister, but the first time I stepped into a basic law class, I loved it. For the next five years, I worked hard, barely slept or ate, and had no social life. I know I could have done it differently, but I wanted to return to Britain with a way to support myself. What’s more, I wanted to be able to support my parents and I wanted them to be proud of me. I also knew that if I didn’t finish it while the war continued to rage, I never would. Once Voldemort was defeated, there would be little to keep me in France.

That’s not say that I didn’t have any relationships while I was in Paris. There were a few men that I saw more than once; even three or four, I would say I had relationships with. After I’d been there about a year, I met a wizard who was just a year older than me. He had dark eyes and hair and had attended Durmstrang. His name was Jean-Michele and we dated seriously for about six months. At the time, I thought I loved him. With time and distance, I realize that what we felt was more like lust, but I still have good memories of him. He was the man I lost my virginity to, and about that I have no regrets. We remained friends for a long time after we stopped seeing each other, but I stopped writing him not long after I came home.

The owl from Mum arrived on a Thursday afternoon. The bird, which I didn’t recognize, swooped in through my kitchen window and landed on the table. I took the parchment from it and it immediately flew off. I recognized Mum’s handwriting immediately and my hands began to shake. She hadn’t written in months and I was immediately fearful that this letter would bring more bad news about my family. Instead, she simple wrote, Voldemort is dead. Meet us at 12 Grimmauld Place on Saturday.. I couldn’t help it and immediately broke down in tears. For a long time I hadn’t even considered the possibility that I might ever go home again. I was curious about why I was going to the old Black townhouse, but it wasn’t something I could think about at the moment. I was going home!

The two days following were busy. The paper I’d been working for wasn’t happy that I was quitting and giving them no notice, but I reasoned I didn’t need a reference from them anyway. As soon as Monday morning came around, I planned on applying to various barrister firms in Diagon Alley. The rest of the time I was there, I spent packing up my flat. I’d gone to the French Ministry of Magic and requested a Portkey for Saturday afternoon back to Britain, and I needed to get all of my things packed and mailed by then. When it was time for me to leave, I was surprised by how sad I was to go. Even though I had hated being there for the longest time, France had become my home. I hadn’t stepped foot in Britain in over seven years now and didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know anything about my family or friends, I wasn’t even sure if I had a home to go home to.

When I arrived at 12 Grimmauld Place, it looked much worse than the first time I’d been there a decade before. The black paint on the door was chipped and the silver knocker was rusted, but it still worked. I heard footsteps inside almost immediately. When Mum answered the door, I only had a second to study her before her arms enveloped me in a hug. I heard her call for my dad and he came quickly and wrapped his arms around the both of us. I felt Dad press a kiss to the top of my head and felt Mum’s tears against my cheek (or were they my own?). After it felt like Mum might squeeze all of the air from my lungs, she released me and stepped back. “Ginny.”

“Hello, Mum. Dad,” I smiled. My parents both looked like they had aged twenty years since I’d seen them last. Both of them were thinner than I’d ever seen them, but they were smiling.

“Come in, dear. You wouldn’t want to catch cold.” I thought about telling her that it was warm out, but I decided to let her be. Mum hadn’t had the opportunity to mother me for years now, so she had some catching up to do. I looked around the hallway and noticed how different it looked since the last time. There was the clock from the Burrow, and the pictures, and…

“Mum?”

“Yes, dear?”

“Why is all of our stuff here?” I turned to face her, my eyes searching for answers. “What happened to the Burrow?”

Mum sniffed and I saw tears well in her eyes. “Ginny, love. There’s so much to tell you that I couldn’t tell you in a letter.” She reached out and took my hand, like she did when I was still a little girl, and led me to the kitchen. “Come have a cup a tea, love. We have a lot of catching up to do.”

As I sat in an unfamiliar kitchen filled with all of Mum’s things, I couldn’t help but wonder what else had changed. And how much of I had missed. “Mum?”

She looked up from the stove. “Yes?”

“Where’re Ron and Hermione? What about Harry? Shouldn’t they be here too?” Even though she tried to hide it, I didn’t miss the way she flinched when I said their names. Something had happened to them. I felt myself start to cry. “Please tell me the truth.”

I felt a familiar hand cover mine and I looked up into Dad’s familiar blue eyes. “We’ll tell you everything, Gin. It’s just going to take some time, okay?”

I nodded. “Time is all I have these days.”
Chapter 2 by smprsgrrl
A/N: Sorry for the delay... I've had this chapter on my harddrive for a long time. I was hoping to get the next chapter written before I posted, but it seems that I don't have the time I would like. However, I'm hoping I'll find some time in the next few days in order to get some writing done. Special thanks to Cyn for being the best beta a girl could ask for. And to those of you who took the time to reply to chapter 1, this is for you.

(Un)Happily Ever After – Chapter 2


Harry was dead, which wasn’t as shocking as I thought it would be. I think some part of me always knew he wouldn’t survive the war. I’m not even sure he wanted to survive the war. Maybe that’s what he was trying to tell me when he broke up with me all of those years ago. He was letting me go then, so I wouldn’t have to let him go now. What I did find shocking was the way he died. Not at the hand of Voldemort. But several weeks after his defeat of Voldemort, apparently Harry lay down to take a nap and simply never woke up. I’d like to think he knew it was his time to go. Since Voldemort was dead the Death Eaters were falling on a daily basis, the war would end in a matter of weeks, and Harry must have been exhausted.

What I did find a little shocking was that Ron and Hermione weren’t married, or even dating. In fact, Hermione was married to Viktor Krum. From what Mum told me, the two of them had a falling out when they were searching for the last Horcrux and ended their relationship. Even though they remained friends, neither of them brought up the idea of dating again. Hermione said that Viktor was working as a liaison between the Bulgarian and British governments when they met each other again. Surprisingly, she said it was like no time had passed. I can’t help but be happy for her. Every time she talks about him her entire face lights up and it’s obvious to anyone that she is genuinely happy with Viktor.

As for me, I can’t really say. I’ve been home for a month, and I’m not sure if I’ve adjusted or not. Ron and I are both living at Grimmauld Place with Mum and Dad. Bill and Fleur have started building a house on the land where the Burrow used to be. Fleur is expecting their first baby in a few months. Mum is so excited at the idea of being a grandmother that she has been helping them nearly every day. Dad is back at work at the Ministry. They gave him a promotion and he’s now the Deputy Minister of Muggle Relations. Basically, he is in charge of any decision dealing with Muggles, including his old job in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office. He seems very content with the work, and it doesn’t keep him at work as late as it did before the war.

Last week the twins reopened Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley. Fred is living in the flat above the shop, but George married Luna and they live in a more residential neighbourhood. At first I thought they hadn’t moved on, but the more time I spend with them, the more maturity I see. Even though it’s still technically a “joke shop” they’ve stopped trying to kill their customers and seem to really care about providing quality products. It must be working, too. Every time I go by there, the store is busy. Luna says that the true test will be the last week of August when Diagon Alley is full of new Hogwarts students for the first time in seven years. I happen to agree with her.

Having Luna as a sister-in-law was a bit weird. Yes, she was one of my best friends at Hogwarts. But I also hadn’t seen her in nearly a decade. Some days I can’t wrap my head around the fact that she married George (even though they dated for years, apparently). Her father died during the war, and she inherited The Quibbler, which was now a respectable newspaper. Under Luna’s leadership, they focused on honest war reporting instead of various yeti sightings. I was more than a little shocked to learn that The Daily Prophet was now nothing more than a gossip rag. They ran sensational headlines, such as the one from that morning: MURDERER! over a picture of Draco Malfoy. Of course, they were alleging that he had murdered Harry while he slept.

“Good morning, Ginny.”

I looked up to find Mum standing there. I swallowed the last bite of my croissant and smiled. “Mum. You’re up early.”

“You know I’m always up this early.” Mum glanced up at the clock and frowned. “But it is a bit early for you. Are you going somewhere?”

“First day, remember? I wanted to get there early.” I flipped to the second page of the story about Draco. “Can you believe this? They’re accusing Malfoy of murder.”

“That sweet boy?” she asked. “He wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

“Mum—”

“Dear,” she interrupted, “I know you and your brother didn’t get along with him well at school, but he was very helpful during the war. If not for him, I’m not sure we would have won.”

I nodded because I didn’t know what else to say. “Do you want to know who they say he murdered?”

“Who?”

“Harry.”

Mum’s head snapped up. “What? Let me see that paper.” She took it from me and scanned the front page, reading the details. “That’s impossible. Harry died in his sleep.”

I shrugged. “They must have some proof, Mum. Or else they’re opening themselves up for a libel suit. I wouldn’t put it past Malfoy to go visit his barrister this morning and see if he has a case.”

Mum smiled at me. “You sound smart, Ginny. I’m so proud of you.”

I couldn’t help but smile back. “Thanks Mum.”

~*~*~*~*~


“Weasley!”

“Yes sir?” I slipped my shoes back on and went to Mr. Mincy’s office. “What do you need?”

“We have an important client coming in. You’re needed to take notes for the meeting in the conference room in ten minutes.”

I nodded. “Yes sir.”

I’d only been working for two hours and already I was being called in for an ‘important’ client. That was pretty impressive. Yes, I would be taking notes in the meeting, not actually participating. But at least they wouldn’t expect me to fetch them tea and biscuits.

I went back to my desk and grabbed my wand before going to the loo. I performed a refreshing spell on my robes to get rid of the wrinkles and a straightening charm on my hair. I checked my teeth for any leftovers from breakfast this morning. After I was satisfied with how I looked, I returned to my desk for a roll of parchment and quill and made my way to the conference room.

There were already some secretaries setting up and one of them looked up at me and smiled. “Ms. Weasley?”

“Yes.”

She pointed to a chair at the end. “That’s your seat. We use a Quick-Quotes Quill to record the minutes in the meeting, but the partners prefer if there is someone else also taking notes. I’m not sure how long the meeting will be. Mr. Malfoy called first thing this morning, rather upset about the headline in the Prophet.”

“Malfoy?” I questioned. “You mean Draco Malfoy?”

“The one and only,” a masculine voice from the door answered.

I turned to find him studying me carefully. It was obvious he recognized me, but couldn’t place from where. I couldn’t help but blush when his eyes ran down my body, lingering on my chest and hips. It had been eight years since I’d last seen him and I was no longer the scrawny little girl I’d been at Hogwarts. Finally he asked, “Have we met?”

I nodded, amused. “We have. In fact, we attended Hogwarts together.”

Draco crossed the room and took my hand in his. “That’s not possible. I’m sure I would remember you.” He leaned down and pressed his lips to my hand. “Would you remind me, then?”

“Ah, Mr. Malfoy I see you’ve met Ms. Weasley.”

The blond immediately dropped my hand and took a step back. “Weasley?”

“Yes,” Mr. Mincy continued. “She’ll be here taking notes today and if all goes well, she will join your legal team.” For the first time, Mr. Mincy looked up from the paper he was holding and noticed the expression on Malfoy’s face. “Is that a problem Mr. Malfoy?”

I could see him thinking about it, but he shook his head. “No. Ms. Weasley and I know each other from Hogwarts. This will be an excellent time for us to catch up.”

I released the breath I hadn’t known I was holding. And then a second later, I realized I had a reason to be grateful to Draco Malfoy.

“Let’s get down to business, shall we?” I nodded and sat down in the sat the secretary had pointed out to me earlier. I was a little surprised when Malfoy sat down next to me. Mr. Mincy sat across from me.

I wrote “In Attendance: D. Malfoy, J. Mincy, G. Weasley” at the top of my parchment and looked up. “Will anyone else be here?”

“No, it’s just the three of us. Ms. Weasley, the purpose of you being at this meeting is to pick up things that the Quick Quill won’t, okay? Don’t focus so much on what we say, but how it is said and what we agree upon. Any questions?” Mr. Mincy spread the newspaper out on the table between us. “Mr. Malfoy, I’m assuming this is the reason you’re here today.”

“Yes. Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to this trash.”

“Okay. So you’re here to explore your legal options?”

Malfoy nodded. “Yes. I want to sue them.”

“Mr. Malfoy, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The first step would be to contact them and ask that they print a retraction. They have to know they’ve opened themselves up to a libel suit. I would assume they have some kind of proof.”

“Proof?” Malfoy questioned. “There is no proof. Harry Potter and I fought on the same side during that damn war. Besides, I wasn’t anywhere around when his body was found. I was kilometers away. And all of the sudden they come up with this rubbish that I poisoned him, and I have to defend myself against it?”

“Mr. Malfoy, I’m not accusing you of doing what they said. I’m only saying that this newspaper must feel like they have something in order to print this story.”

“Mr. Mincy,” Malfoy interrupted him. “Your firm has represented my family for decades. You have managed to get my father out of more trouble than one man should ever get himself into, surely you can handle a simple libel suit. If you cannot, I will take my business elsewhere. Is that clear?”

The older barrister nodded once. “Mr. Malfoy, I need you to understand if there is even the smallest grain of truth in these allegations, I need to know so I can incorporate it into plans for your defense. I do not want any surprises.”

Before my eyes I watched as Draco Malfoy became a block of ice. “This story is incorrect. It’s your responsibility to either have them print a retraction or I will sue them. If that doesn’t work, I will buy the damn newspaper and force them to print a retraction before I shut it down for good. You can tell them that, if you want. If you don’t want to, then I will find a barrister who will.”

Mr. Mincy pressed his lips together to stop his smile. “Yes, sir.”

Malfoy put his hands on the conference table. “Very well then. I have a lunch engagement I must get to. I’ll be in touch later this week to see how things are going. I don’t expect to see any more stories like that one in the paper.” He didn’t wait for a response before he stalked out of the room.

Once the door was shut behind him, I turned to my boss and offered him a weak smile. “What do you need me to do?”

He gave me a kind smile back. “You still want the case?”

I nodded eagerly. “I learned a long time ago that Draco Malfoy is all bark and no bite. He doesn’t scare me.”

The older man laughed. “Ms. Weasley, I knew I liked you for some reason. Right now, I need you to start researching. Find whatever libel cases you can. I still think the Prophet must have some proof, given what they printed. See if you can’t find out what it is.”

I made myself a note. “My sister-in-law is the editor of the Quibbler. I’ll see if she knows anything about this story. I’ll also look into other cases. I would think this might be very hard to prove, considering Harry is dead.”

“Yet they printed it anyway.”

I knew he was right. “If you need anything else, let me know. Right now I’m going to go see Luna and then to the archives for some research. I should be back at my desk later this afternoon.”

Mr. Mincy nodded. “Good work, Ms. Weasley.”

By the time I returned to the office, it was long after dark and the house elves were cleaning up for the night. I went to my desk to retrieve my purse and keys when I noticed a white envelope lying on top of my calendar. I frowned. That hadn’t been there when I left. The outside simply read G. Weasley, and when I pulled the slip of parchment from inside I couldn’t stop my smile.

Who would have guessed a Weasley would run off to Paris to avoid the war, so a Malfoy could fight their battles for them? It was nice to see you again. –D.M.

Only Malfoy.
Chapter 3 by smprsgrrl
(Un)Happily Ever After – Chapter 3

DENIAL!

“Mr. Malfoy refused to speak to the Prophet, but the legal firm which served his father so well in escaping justice delivered a demand for a retraction to the Prophet’s editorial board. However, this newspaper will not be bullied by Draco Malfoy or his blood money. We stand by the story we printed yesterday and we will continue the excellent reporting that has defined this newspaper over the years.”

I couldn’t believe it. Today, along with the picture of Malfoy, was a picture of Harry. Now with their bloody statement that was most definitely not a retraction they continued with their ridiculous allegations against him. I stared at the paper for a moment before I turned to another page. I would have to deal with it soon enough. There was no need to look at it while I was trying to eat breakfast.

I looked up when Dad came downstairs. He was dressed in his Ministry robes and had his briefcase in his hand. “Morning, Gin.”

I smiled up at him. “Good morning. Would you like some breakfast?”

He sat down across from me. “What’re you having?”

“A croissant and coffee.” I laughed at the face he made at me. “I’ll make you some eggs and toast, if you want.”

“And tea?”

“Yes, I’ll make you some tea.” I stood and busied myself with Dad’s breakfast. “I stopped drinking tea when I was in Paris, and I haven’t gotten used to it again. That’s why I drink coffee.”

“I know, love.” He looked up at me. “You spent seven years there. I know you’ve changed; you don’t have to keep explaining yourself to me and your mum.”

I felt tears prick my eyes. “Thanks, Daddy.” I turned back to his breakfast, not wanting to burn the eggs. Behind me, I heard the rustle of the paper and glanced back at him to see him reading the story about Malfoy. “You shouldn’t read that. It’s all rubbish.”

He raised an eyebrow at me. “You sound pretty sure about that, Gin.”

“I’m actually working on that case. For Malfoy. He is very adamant that he did nothing wrong and that he wasn’t even around when Harry passed.”

Dad nodded. “He wasn’t. In fact, Harry was by himself. But the Prophet says he was poisoned, so Draco wouldn’t have to be there.”

“Draco?” I questioned.

He shrugged. “Draco is the Deputy Minister of Finance, so we work together occasionally. It’s a professional thing, love.”

I put his eggs and toast on a plate and put them in front of him. “Dad?”

“Yes?”

“Do you think he did it?” I put a cup of tea next to his plate and sat across from him to finish my breakfast.

I could feel my father’s blue eyes on my face. “Do you, Ginny?”

“I don’t know yet.”

“You have to find out, love. I can’t tell you what to think.”

I nodded. “I know, Dad.”

“But, no. I don’t think he killed Harry.”

“Why?” I questioned. “We’re he and Harry friends?”

Dad shook his head. “No. But there was respect there. It took Harry two years to track down all of the Horcruxes, and when he returned, Draco was helping our side. He showed a lot of regret over his part in Dumbledore’s death. They never became friends, but they learned how to live with each other. And they saved each other’s lives more times than I can count. If Draco had planned on killing Harry, he would have taken the Mark and joined his father and Voldemort. Does that make sense?”

“Yes.”

“He shouldn’t be judged on decisions he made as a child, Ginny. He’s a man now, and he was a man when Harry died. He’s gained maturity that he didn’t have when you were at Hogwarts together. Sometimes I think people look at him and see his father, and they want him to pay for the crimes his father committed. Which isn’t right.”

I couldn’t think of anything to say, so I just nodded. Dad picked up the paper again and we finished our breakfast in silence.

~*~*~*~*~


When I arrived at work, the secretary immediately sent me to the conference room. I wasn’t surprised to find Malfoy sitting there with Mr. Mincy, and another barrister I didn’t recognize. “Ms. Weasley, do you have your notes from yesterday?”

I nodded. “I’ll need to get them from my desk, and I’ll be right back.” I waited for Mr. Mincy to nod at me and I left the room. I went immediately for my desk and pulled the file labeled ‘D. Malfoy’ with the pieces of parchment I’d taken notes on the afternoon before. I pulled an extra quill from my desk drawer and went back to the conference room. The three men stood when I entered and waited for me to sit down.

“Mr. Malfoy, Ms. Weasley spent the afternoon researching libel suits so we know what precedent is out there and what to expect. It seems rather obvious from the paper this morning that the Prophet has no intention of issuing a retraction, so it is my recommendation we go ahead with the legal suit.” Mr. Mincy turned to look at me. “Ms. Weasley?”

I cleared my throat. “I found several that are useful to us, and we can discuss them at a later time, but there are two that are directly related to our subject. In Jackson v. the London Daily News the plaintiff sued because the Daily News ran a series of stories claiming that Mr. Jackson, who had previously worked in an adult care center, was responsible for the death of several members of the center. The proof that they had was circumstantial, and their witness was unreliable, and the jury sided with Jackson, and awarded him damages.

“The second case is Stimpson v. Williams. In this case, Stimpson had been found innocent of murdering Mr. Williams daughter, yet Williams continued to publish his belief that Stimpson was indeed guilty of the crime he’d been found innocent of. When he started posting signs about the neighbourhood they lived in, Stimpson sued him for slander and libel and was awarded damages.”

Mr. Mincy said, “Thank you, Ms. Weasley.”

I straightened my papers and nodded. “There were other cases, should we need them.”

He nodded. “Mr. Malfoy, I need to ask you again. Is there even one shred of proof in these allegations?”

“Excuse me?”

Mr. Mincy and I both looked at Malfoy. “Did you do any harm to Harry Potter, Mr. Malfoy?”

“No. I never touched Potter. I wasn’t even there when he died.”

“That doesn’t mean anything, Malfoy. They’re alleging you poisoned him, so you wouldn’t have to be there.”

He glared at me. “Whose side are you on?”

“Yours,” I answered. “But it’s our job to ask the obvious questions. They will ask you these questions, and they will expect answers. And being several kilometers away, off with your mates, is not an answer. Do you have an alibi?”

“I told you—”

“Mr. Malfoy, Ms. Weasley.” Mr. Mincy interrupted us quickly. “We are not here to bicker. We are here to determine the best way to defend Mr. Malfoy against these allegations. He has said he didn’t do it, and since he is our client we must believe him. Mr. Malfoy, if you are lying to us, then you should know you are seriously impairing our ability to defend you. Now, do you have an alibi?”

I watched as Draco dropped his head in defeat. “I was with my father when Potter died.”

“Pardon?”

The blond looked up. “My father? Lucius Malfoy. After Potter killed Voldemort, I set about finding my father so I could speak to him. I knew he was still alive and I hoped I could talk him into turning himself in. It took me over a week to track him down, and when I did, we argued and dueled. I had to bind him and then we discussed the possibility of him turning himself in. He was not agreeable to it.”

“And then?”

Malfoy pushed a hand through his normally tidy hair. “I left him there. In the middle of the forest, tied up like an animal. When I returned later, he was gone. I don’t know where he is now.”

I made notes about the timeline on my parchment and frowned. “Is there anyone who can collaborate your story?”

“What?”

“Is there anyone else who knows about this?”

Malfoy sighed. “Blaise and my mother. Blaise knew where I was going when I left the group, and I told Mum when I got home. We had to change the wards at the Manor so father wouldn’t be able to get in. I have people out there looking for him.”

I nodded. “If you’re telling us the truth, then you’re in the clear. There’s no way a poison would take that long to work. After we verify this information with Mr. Zabini, I will contact the Prophet and they will be forced to print a retraction.”

“Weasley, you can’t tell anyone what I just told you.”

I looked up. “Excuse me?”

“If you tell them where I was, they’ll print it and it’ll be even worse. I’d rather them think I murdered Potter than I let my father escape.”

“But you didn’t—”

“I had the opportunity to kill him, and I didn’t. He’s still free. I might as well have cut the bindings myself.”

I couldn’t think of anything else to say. Mr. Mincy cut in with, “Does anyone know if Mr. Potter was actually poisoned?”

I frowned. Mum and Dad would have mentioned something like that. “All of the research into his death I did indicated he died of natural causes. There wasn’t any sort of autopsy performed, but there was a residue of magic over Harry’s body. Of course, they were in the middle of a war and there was magic everywhere, so that can be easily discounted. There were no complaints of a stomachache, no sweating, no visible signs that he might have been poisoned. Most people agree he was probably just exhausted.”

“Good work, Ms. Weasley.” Mr. Mincy turned to Malfoy and said, “I understand why you want to block the truth from coming out, but you need to understand that it may be necessary at some point. We’re going to go forward right now with the idea that Mr. Potter wasn’t murdered, that he died of natural causes. If the Prophet and their source has information that contradicts that, then it’s time they show their hand. Ms. Weasley and I will finish the paper-work and file them with the Wizengamot this afternoon. The Prophet will be served notice before the close of the business day today.

Malfoy seemed satisfied with the way things had turned out. “Thank you, Mr. Mincy.” He turned his eyes to me and smiled. “Weasley.”

I returned his smile with one of my own. “Mr. Malfoy.”

“I will also receive a copy of the papers, correct?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very well, then. I will be in later this week for an update. Owl if you need anything else.”

When he was gone, Mr. Mincy turned to me and asked, “Is it me or was he almost nice today?”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “I told you. All bark, no bite.”

The older barrister reached over and patted me on the back. “I think you’re going to fit in very well here, Ms. Weasley. Very well indeed.”
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