(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.”
To Be Continued.
smprsgrrl is the author of 10 other stories.
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