Ginevra Weasley's eyes were full of sleep and her whole look resembled someone who had just been dragged out of bed. Draco couldn't help but remember how she looked just after... He stared for a bit before realising he was doing it and averted his eyes.

“We need to know where you have been since the moment you were released yesterday,” Potter interrupted Draco’s musings.

“May I inquire as to why you need to know about it?” Briggs asked. “Mr. Malfoy was released only a few hours ago with no charges.”

There was a brief argument while Draco rubbed the bridge of his nose, only half listening. A dull headache was thudding away somewhere behind his eyes. Draco just hoped there hadn't been another murder that he didn't have an alibi for.

“Now, where were we?” Potter turned back to Draco. “By your looks, Mr. Malfoy, I presume you didn't go home.”

Both Aurors gave him a critical once-over and Draco felt that even his own representative was dripping disapproval. A twinge of irritation went through him; It was ridiculous to feel so self-conscious about his appearance, but it seemed that even after being arrested and having spent over twenty-four hours in jail, he still did. Draco struggled not to drop his eyes in embarrassment. The best he managed was to stare at the wall behind the Aurors, while thinking what of his night would be harmless to admit to.

“It was about ten in the evening when I left here. I didn't feel like going home, so I went to my office, took a shower and changed. Then I went to a pub called Midget's Cabin, (it was probably about eleven by then) and sat there until half-past one. When I got tired of the place, I started walking towards the City. Blue Boar, a small place I quite like, was the next. After that… Queen’s Head? Queen’s Arms?” He shrugged. “That's where things get a bit fuzzy. It was probably the Arms, but it is somewhere near the Blue Boar, I suppose you’ll find it easily. Anyway, somehow I ended up upstairs with one of the patrons.” Draco paused, but as he felt a blush creeping up on his cheeks, he quickly continued. “A woman. Had a bit of a quarrel with her and Apparated home.” He mulled over something. “I'm pretty sure she didn't see it, or if she did, she was drunk enough to dismiss the occurrence.”

He paused again to see if this was why he was summoned to the Ministry but apparently it wasn't, so he went on.

“At the Manor, I made it to the first floor when I decided that the ugly tapestries annoyed me. So I Flooed back into the Leaky Cauldron and exited into Muggle London. Arrived somewhere in Soho, crawled from pub to pub. About an hour ago, I made it back to the Leaky, where good old Tom, Merlin forgive him, administered me Pepper-up, Anti-Hangover and Sobering potions.” Draco sighed, put-on. “Unfortunately, it only served to give me a massive headache. Can I go back and kill him?” He looked at both Aurors hopefully. At their non-answers, he gave them his fake sigh again and finished resignedly. “And that's where your young Stevenson found me.”

“We will need the full list of the pubs you went to, Mr. Malfoy,” Potter said.

Draco resisted mimicking Potter's 'Mr. Malfoy' that the Auror so religiously used in the solicitor's presence. He looked at Ginevra and almost sighed for real this time. Funny how little she talked to him lately. Half the time, she wasn't even there and when she was, she just stared at him from under her fringe with that look in her eyes... The only thing Draco could say about it was that it made him feel like crap. Like...

He was half-automatically listing all the pubs he could recall, when it hit him.


He felt guilt. Why the hell would he feel like that? He hadn't done anything wrong!

“All right, we'll check those places. Now, Mr. Malfoy, please tell us about your relationship with Theodore Nott.”

Draco gave a long suffering sigh.

“Why? I've already told you about half the people I know. Do you enjoy torturing me with asking about the hundred most boring wizards alive, or is he dead or what?”

The-man-who-annoyed looked grim. “Do you have any reason to think that he's dead?”

Draco blinked and chanced a look at Ginevra again. It had been two days since he had last seen her. Despite the messy hair, she looked just as beautiful as ever. The thing that bothered him was that she also looked worried. He turned to Potter.

“No. Is he dead then?”

He got his answer in the form of two identically grim looks. Suddenly, an irrational wave of anger hit Draco. His fists clenched and the room swam before his eyes. How dare he?! He thought that if Nott were to suddenly come back to life, he'd really be tempted to kill him all over again.

“-all right?” He suddenly heard a voice in the distance.

“You know what, Weasley?” he turned to Ginevra. “I changed my mind. I do want to catch that bastard. As grateful as I am to him for offing my dearest wife, I don't want to get blamed for it or any other murders. Ask me anything and I'll tell you everything I know.”

“Good,” Potter said. “Then start with what really happened the night of your wife's murder.”

That was not what Draco had meant exactly, but at this point, he had little to lose. “You were right about me meeting Witty Wally at the bar. We were going over the last minute details. I hired him to break into my office.”

“To get your marriage prenuptial?” Potter asked.

He more sensed than saw Ginevra's shock at the question. “Yes,” he answered. “We were together up to half-past twelve. Then I threw the wand I got from Knockturn Alley into the Thames and Apparated near the pub Ginevra saw me enter.” Draco stopped, ill-at-ease. He shouldn't have called her by her name.

“It was the wand you used for breaking into your safe?” Potter asked as if he hadn't noticed.

“Yes. Didn't want him messing with my things. I only needed someone to break the Manor's basic wards and take the documents and whatever else took his fancy. I disarmed all the more dangerous wards for the night.” He saw Potter nodding to himself as if the man had already guessed what had happened. Draco continued, “Normally, there should have been some of my acquaintances in the pub. That's why I chose it... But, as no one I knew was present, I tried to hook up with...” He glanced at Ginevra but dropped his gaze, a bit embarrassed.

“At what time was Walters supposed to go in?” Potter went on.

“At one. Astoria would have been in bed by that time, her own or not. And house elves, as you know, were ordered to stay clear of the area.”

“Which means that when Walters came, Astoria must have already been dead and the place crawling with our people,” Ginevra said. “He must have stumbled upon the killer before he even entered. You didn't lie about nothing being taken, did you?”

Draco shook his head once. “How did Nott die?”

“He was Avadaed in his study during the night,” was all Ginevra said. “Would you tell us about Theodore Nott now? What do you know of his character and his relationships with other people?”

Draco thought a bit. “At school, he was always very quiet, a good student and mate, but very introverted. You never really knew what he was thinking, which of course worked out fairly well for him since he was self-serving in the extreme. Always siding with power. And he had amazing instincts! I still marvel at how even back when Potty here was walking around with a sad and pasty face, Nott had already known the Dark Lord would fall. I was half tempted to come over just because of it.”

“You did come over, Draco,” Ginevra retorted.

“Yes, but not because Nott was on your side.” His tone implied that she was a moron.

“Yes, tell us about that, Malfoy,” she said, genuine curiosity in her tone.

“That is not what's important now, is it?” he replied coolly, all mirth gone.

“What relationship did Theodore Nott have with other people?” the male Auror cut in.

“I assume you've already seen his family?” Draco asked. “Uncle and aunt and the rest? Cold people. Theo never really talked about them at school, so I don't think they had a very warm relationship. Friends? Theo only had them on the basis of exchanging services or information. Higgs might know more, but I doubt it. Nott always was a dark horse.”

“Anything else? Any girlfriends?”

Draco shook his head; he had no idea.

“All right. Now, Mr. Malfoy, we need to know about your intimate relations with your wife.”

“What?” Draco said a bit harshly.

“We are not asking out of personal curiosity,” Ginevra intervened quietly. “This is something we really need to know.”

After a moment, Draco nodded curtly. “What exactly are you asking?”

“What we are trying to do is to get a general idea about what type of person Astoria might be interested in. Part of this information is what she liked in bed.”

Draco smirked. “That doesn't sound too general to me.” He leaned back in his chair, outwardly relaxed. “Astoria liked different things, was creative. But if you are asking what type of person she would enjoy the most, the answer is someone she could manipulate. It took me a while to understand how power-hungry the woman was, but when I did... I think she took her first lover after I sussed her out. When she discovered that I wasn't willing to dance to her fiddle, she turned somewhere else for it.”

“And did she like to play power games in bed?” the male Auror asked.

“No, she didn't like...” Draco stopped as the realisation dawned. “But she did with other people, didn't she?” He raised his hand. “No, whatever you know or think you know, don't tell me. The answer to your question is that she never played those types of games with me and I didn't think she liked them.”

Potter nodded. “When was it that she first asked for a divorce? When you, as you say, 'sussed her out'?”

Draco frowned. “No. I don't think she really wanted to divorce. Not unless it made her a wealthy woman. She only started talking about it after I found those letters in 2005 and things got real bad.”

“Pansy told us that Astoria had been in love with the person she was writing to since 2002.”

Draco laughed. “In love? Ridiculous. Would she have waited three years to ask for the divorce if she had really been in love?”

“What about those clothes?” Ginevra asked. “The ones she said you destroyed?”

“Me? She said I did it?” Draco's voice was full of incredulity, but really, he didn't even know why he was so surprised, it was such an Astoria-like thing to do! “Of course she did,” he answered his own question. “But how did you hear about it? It was ages ago!” He frowned. “She sliced them herself one day, as a part of a desperate crying fit when I refused to take her on an unscheduled holiday trip.” Draco shook his head. “And when I still refused to yield, she probably ran to one of her lovers to cry about how dreadfully I was treating her. I bet that the person who told you about it is the lover. Why else would they still remember something like that?”

“Unfortunately, it was Pansy who told us.”

“Ah. Of course she would remember. She hates me.”

“We noticed,” Potter said sardonically.

“Do you know why?” Ginevra asked.

Draco looked from one Auror to the other. “You know, I've always thought that it was because we used to date at school, but now...” He paused to think. “It was the fifth year and we were practically children then. The break-up was quite amicable. We weren't in love with each other, but we certainly didn't hate each other either until Astoria came into play.” He glowered at the table top. “She must have turned Pansy against me at some point and I didn't even care enough to notice.”

“Why on Earth would Astoria do that?” Ginevra asked.

Draco's lips twisted in a mocking smile. “Because she could? Because it was fun? Who knows?”


She was wearing a lovely light dress that would have made so many other girls look pasty but Astoria looked beautiful in anything she wore. Maybe it was because she was happy. “I love you,” he said.

“I know.” She laughed happily. “I love you too.”

They twirled among all the other couples, but Draco felt as if they were all alone on the dance floor.

“Everybody is watching.” Astoria looked embarrassed, but even embarrassment looked good on her.

“I know.” He smiled. “Don't you love being the centre of attention?”

“You do.”

Draco smiled. “True.” She knew him so well.


“So, junior Auror,” Harry Potter said, “tell me, what do we know about Nott's murder?”

Ginny sighed. It was late evening; they had been questioning the witnesses, aka suspects, most of the day. By the end of the day, Ginny was so sick and tired of the grey walls of the Auror Headquarters that she'd invited Harry to Floo into her kitchen for the customary round-up and brainstorming session.

“He was having his friends over,” she started her revision. “There was a lot of drinking, dancing and a fair share of gambling. At about two o'clock, Nott disappeared into his study and some guests think he'd got a Floo call and Mrs. Rubleynikoff thinks she heard Malfoy's name being said behind the study door. Aside from that, no one knows anything about what went on behind the closed door. About half an hour later, Higgs remembered that they should have a host somewhere and when he went looking, he found him dead in his armchair near the fireplace. There are no apparent signs of violence and our people will verify the Avada curse.”

“Your conclusions?”

Ginny sighed. “Either the killer is one of the guests or someone who actually Flooed in.”

“The simplest explanation-”

“Is often the correct one, I know. Let's see... Higgs kills him and then 'finds' the body? Flint was out of the count by then, sprawled on the couch, drunk.”

“Unless he faked it and then sneaked into the study while no one was looking.”

“Too risky a scheme to be premeditated.”

“True. But maybe it was a spur of a moment thing?” Harry shook his head and Ginny agreed. “Then there were Flint's business associates, Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Rubleynikoff.”

“Any motives for them? Gambling debts? Blackmail?”

“They are quite well-known people on the stock market. It shouldn't be too difficult to find out if they gambled more than they ought.”

“Except that then it's not connected to the Malfoy crime at all and that's too much of a coincidence for my taste, but I'll get some junior Aurors on it.”

Ginny nodded. “By their own admission, they didn't even know the Malfoys and since they've been in the country only for a couple of days, I tend to believe them.”

“Worth checking though.”

“Of course.” She thought for a moment, then continued. “Other people present were Cornfoot, both Zabinis and Alicia Ferguson, that elderly woman who apparently is a fanatic card player.”

Harry nodded. “Did anyone tell you anything interesting?”

“You were there, Harry!” Ginny exclaimed, annoyed. “Stop playing the 'experienced Auror' to my 'junior'! The only interesting thing was that Ferguson thought Higgs was a nervous goat and Nott a sleeping dragon.”

“But that is interesting, Ginny!” Harry smiled. “Anything else about anyone?”

“Why the hell is her insulting Higgs interesting?”

Harry shook his head mock-sadly. “Oh, my young and inexperienced friend!” Ginny thumped him on the arm. “Ouch!” He dropped his patronising tone. “What I meant is that Nott being the dragon was interesting. Surely you noticed?”

Ginny's frowned. “Um... Nott's a dragon that never woke up?” she asked uncertainly.

Once more, an indulgent smile lit Harry's face. “Yes,” he said. “You know the saying, before you kick a sleeping dragon, have a plan for when it wakes up? I think that someone made sure that he didn't need such a plan.”

“You think Nott knew something?”

“I think it's a definite possibility. Don't you think so, too? Evan never found his additional source of income.” Harry raised his eyebrows in a suggestive manner.

Ginny frowned. “But he was gambling. Maybe he was just cheating or very smart or something?”

“If it were true, we'd have heard about it a long ago from Higgs or someone. Nott clearly was living on at least twice his Ministry salary, Ginny. Unless-”

“Unless there's some underground gambling club no one would tell us about?”

Harry nodded, but Ginny sensed that it was actually a novel thought to him.

“That's certainly possible,” he said. “Wherever he got his money, there is no official record of it. He got it either in cash or in something that could be sold easily.”

“So...” Ginny was thinking aloud. “What we have to do now, is find out if Nott was distributing anything to anywhere on regular basis and try to find that hypothetical club.”

“Right,” Harry said. “If there is that kind of club, I bet Higgs knows.”

“And if Higgs knows, we'll know.” Ginny smiled. Harry smiled back. “You want one more cup before you go?”


The next morning Ginny and Harry were knocking on Higgs' door at the Magical Research Laboratories. There was no answer. Instead, they heard a rustle, bang and a thump, then the sound of glass breaking, which was followed by a string of muffled curses.

When the door finally opened, Higgs was red in the face and apparently ready to kill someone. Some kind of dark protective round spectacles sat crookedly on his forehead, and his light hair was ruffled and dusty.

“What?” he barked. “I don't know anything! Unless you came to arrest me for animal torture, go away!”

“Um... What?”

Terence ignored Ginny's question, looking behind him as if listening.

“May we come in?” Harry asked.

Higgs must have heard or sensed something, because he hurriedly stepped back in and closed the door with a bang. The noise they heard next consisted of a dull metallic bang, a wood clatter and more glass shattering, along with a cry of triumph. After a moment, the door opened again and panting Higgs came out, holding a black-and-blue-spotted cat by the scruff.

“That beast!” he said with a feeling and threw the pirate-faced feline as far from him as he could. The cat landed softly on its feet and walked down the hallway with a mildly satisfied look on his snout, as if having achieved something important.

“Dirty creature,” Higgs grumbled as they all walked into his lab and closed the door.

The inside was as colourful as the noise they'd heard earlier had allowed Ginny to imagine. A huge table in the middle of the room was covered in numerous devices and appliances, the purpose of which Ginny could never even guess. The walls around it were filled with bookshelves and file cabinets. Ginny squinted at the overhead lights, which were as blinding as the desert sun.

The researcher took to cleaning some spotless spot on the table in the far corner, all the while muttering about filth and fleas.

“I thought cats were considered clean animals?” she asked Higgs.

The man looked at her incredulously. “Cats aren't clean, they are just covered with cat's spit!” He squatted down to look at some dark angular mass lying on the floor. “Ruined! Absolutely ruined!” He flailed with his hands, sighed and preformed a wandless Scourgify with a practised ease. “And I don't think you came here to discuss the finer points of feline infestation, did you? So what is it?” He stood and turned back to them.

“We know about your secret, Mr. Higgs,” Harry said, his face hard and unreadable.

“What? Wh-What secret?” Higgs' legs gave out and he sat heavily in a chair which, luckily, was just behind him.

“Just tell us, Terence, we can help you if you confess of your own free will.” Ginny assumed that Harry had assigned her the 'good Auror' role.

Higgs' face was ashen and his jaw was working but no sound came out. Neither Auror said anything, just waited. Finally, Higgs swallowed and said, “I didn't mean to! I-I-I... Well I did, but what choice did I have? So I embellished a little a-and... I needed the money and then Theo would have told Grandmother! But I didn't k-kill him!”

Twenty minutes worth of upset babbling gave them the following facts: First, while pushing accounting papers for the Ministry, Nott had noticed a couple of thousand vanishing into thin air in Research Department projects. Second, he had no problems detecting the culprit and working out a way to disguise the shortage, to which Higgs readily agreed. But then, the threat of being exposed to the family matriarch came and since then – about a year and half ago – Higgs had been supplying Nott with a small but steady side income.

“The numbers don't add up,” Ginny pointed out as they were leaving the building.

“I know. It seems that our dragon was sleeping on a lot more than one egg.”

Ginny nodded.

They were just entering the Ministry building when it hit her.

“I have to go back to Nott's flat!”


“Evan and I found a notebook, full of what we assumed to be gambling debts in the safe. But what if he was writing down how much everyone was paying him?”

“Very good.” Harry nodded approvingly. “Bring it with you and make sure that it's the only one.”


“Will I see you on Saturday?” Ginny asked.

“Why Saturday? I thought we were meeting tomorrow.” The blond sounded put out.

“We were until Parvati invited me to a sleepover. I couldn't come up with a believable excuse to say no.” Ginny shrugged. She was sitting on his lap, with his arms around her. “So, what about Saturday?”

“Can't.” Draco nibbled her ear. “You could have told them you needed to study.”

“Hermione was right there! She knows me too well. Hey! That tickles!” She pushed him gamely away. “What are you doing on Saturday then? Can't you cancel?”

“No. I've made a bet and have to oversee the event so that I wouldn't be cheated out of my winnings.”

“What are you betting on all the time?”

“Whatever possible, Weasley. Surely you know that a man of vast fortune needs to get his thrills somewhere?” He smiled roguishly. “Especially since his secret affair of the moment seems to prefer the company of silly girls.” Draco pouted.

Ginny stood. “Fine, we'll see each other next week then,” she said and left running, a carefree smile on her face.


“I can't believe he fled!” Ginny exclaimed, trying to appear less upset than she felt. “It's just like he... puff! Gone!” Her hands flailed and a pile of files fell on the floor. “Oh, sorry!”

It had taken the Unspeakables a whole morning to track Malfoy's magical signature, but the only thing they could say for sure was that both Draco Malfoy and his wand were somewhere outside of Great Britain.

Evan gestured dismissively and squatted to gather the files. “He knew we'd find something at Nott's place.”

Ginny silently agreed as she, once again, opened one of Theodore Nott's notebooks. He had left seven of them behind. It seemed that his blackmailing business had a very long history. Names and dates were standing next to the numbers, and alongside Zabini, Greengrass, Higgs and dozens of other names, Malfoy's appeared with the regularity of a bad dream. And naturally, it had the largest amounts next to it. Although not a huge sum for a Malfoy in itself, it seemed that he had been paying Nott for the last six years.

Now, Draco had one more motive for one more murder, but what really disturbed her was that he had fled the country only after they had questioned him about Theodore Nott's death. Why?

“If he killed Nott, why stick around until the finding of the body?” she mused aloud. “Why let himself be 'caught' and brought in for questioning?”

Evan shrugged. “Maybe it was only after the interrogation that he realised his alibi wouldn't hold?”


House elves had said that after returning home from the Auror Headquarters, Draco had spent only a few moments in his room before Disapparating. There was no sign of him taking any possessions or money with him, but a man of Draco Malfoy's means hardly needed to. He surely had secret accounts in other European banks. Besides, he might have emptied some of his Gringott's accounts beforehand, they just didn't know it yet.

Where are you, Draco Malfoy, and why did you leave?

Had his candour at their last meeting really been just a pretence? Ginny swallowed the bitter taste of betrayal and told herself that she was just very, very angry.


Thirty-eight hours earlier.

Although he had abhorred the idea just the night before, now after the restless night of bar crawling and the questioning about Nott's murder, the thought of his own soft bed was very appealing. Draco was glad to be home.

As far as he was concerned, the bastard's death was a good thing. This time he was sure that the sleep would come quickly. Draco ascended to the third floor and headed for his room. “Seely,” he called once there. “Bath.”

Draco shivered as he took off his outer robe and pulled on his tie to remove it. The memory of those anonymous hands on his person still made his skin crawl. He was too exhausted to berate himself for his thoughtless behaviour. He just felt dizzy at the memory of her dark auburn, almost red hair. So foolish. There had been too many pubs lately. Too many pubs and too much alcohol.

He had finished with the numerous buttons and started to remove the robe when he noticed it. A strange, delicate chalice was standing on his bedside table. Draco vaguely recognised it as something belonging to his wife, but he couldn't remember seeing it in his rooms before.

“Seely? What is-” He reached out to touch it and cursed himself for being the biggest idiot on heaven and earth, as he felt the tugging sensation behind his navel.

There was a moment of disorientation and a splash. Cold, dark, no air, and panic. Water, he realised, he was in the water. Then, instinct took over, and Draco started to swim toward what he thought was up. Suddenly, he was gulping for air, grateful to have reached the surface. But when he finally had a chance to look around him, the horror of his situation set in.

In every direction, all he could see was water.


Author notes: Thank you for reading. Only two chapters more. Please review! The reviews really make it worth writing. (They make my day, even when I read them the second time. LOL)

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