DISCLAIMER: The Harry Potter series and all the characters associated with it are the property solely of J. K. Rowling, her agents and publishers. No infringement of any rights is intended from the creation of this story. Nor is any money being made from it.

Circles of Power

Part Ten - Veritas Et Perfidias

By Mad Martha


"Where do you think you're going?"

Harry froze in the act of pulling his trainers on and looked guiltily over at the bed. Ron, whom he had thought to be sound asleep, was staring back at him accusingly in the dim light, still in the same position Harry had left him five minutes before.

"I thought you were asleep - "

"Obviously!" Ron sighed and sat up, pushing his hair back from his face with both hands. He looked unusually wide-awake for such an early hour, and it dawned on Harry that he had not gone to sleep at all. "So much for thinking I tired you out and you wouldn't do something like this."

"Something like what?" Harry tried feebly.

"Oh, I don't know!" Ron retorted sarcastically. "Something like sneaking out to visit Malfoy in his cell, maybe?"

"I wasn't - "

"And don't tell me you weren't." Grumpy from a lack of sleep, he glared at Harry. "I guessed what you were up to when you started rummaging around in the closet last night. Since you're clearly not pleased to see me, that lump in your robes has to be your Invisibility Cloak."

"Ah." Harry sat back, feeling awkward and embarrassed. "Sorry."

"Harry, you silly git, what the hell do you think he's going to tell you that warrants breaking into the Facility at three in the morning?"

"I don't know! I just … I need to find out." Harry ran his fingers through his hair and scrubbed at his scalp roughly. All his muscles felt tight with frustration. "Voldemort's after you now, Ron. If there's something Malfoy can tell me that would help us protect you - "

"Bollocks. Maybe we should be checking you out for this Enviwhatchermaycallit Curse. You're certainly acting like someone's put a compulsion on you." Ron sighed and swung his legs out of bed, reaching for his jeans.

Harry blinked. "What are you doing?"

"What does it look like? I'm getting dressed."

"But - "

"Look, I'm not going to be able to stop you, am I?" Ron gave him a look of mingled frustration and affection. "If I made you get back into bed, you'd just stick a sleeping charm on me or something and sneak out anyway. So I might as well come with you. We might even look less suspicious as a pair, although somehow I think the Invisibility Cloak will ruin the effect."

He pulled his jeans on briskly and grabbed a t-shirt; and Harry, bemused at the sudden turn of events, slowly resumed lacing up his trainers.


Ron's pessimistic comment about breaking in was inaccurate; in fact, the Auror Facility never closed. The offices were always manned, with most senior Aurors taking a turn on the night shift once a month. All the same, it would have been rather foolish of the two of them to try entering the building by the front entrance during the middle of the night, so after some debate they tried a side entrance that was guarded only by a portal similar to the one used at Kings Cross Station to access Platform Nine and Three Quarters.

Walking through a brick wall is always a peculiar experience but nothing stopped them gaining entry, and once they reached the other side Harry reluctantly fished out his cloak and the two of them ducked underneath it. There was barely enough room, for they had both grown considerably since their days of wandering around Hogwarts at night. The Invisibility Cloak wouldn't fool any sensitive guardian spells that might be set inside the building, but it would mask them from any casual glances by the night workers.

They ghosted through the half-lit corridors of the Facility, giving the few of their colleagues who were working a wide berth, and made their way down the unlit stairs to the dungeons. Halfway down, Harry pulled the cloak off and whispered "Lumos" to his wand; the steps were too treacherous to risk walking down them in total darkness.

Row 50 was a long way underground. There was moisture dripping down the walls, and weird, luminescent lichens growing everywhere. And it smelled … old, unused. Which, of course, it generally was.

When they finally got there, the two of them peered cautiously around the entrance to the passage. There were two Aurors on guard halfway, as there had been for Ron, and they knew there was no way they could ever convince the pair that they were there on legitimate business, let alone lure them away.

So Ron dug into a pocket in his robes and brought out a handful of some sparkling dust. It was something Fred and George had invented; they called it "The Sandman's Best Friend". He held it up - then hesitated and handed it to Harry instead.

"Better you do it," he mouthed, and Harry nodded. Doing anything like this was too risky for Ron while he had the Seal of Honour on his back.

Holding the dust on the flat of his palm, he pointed his wand at the two guards and blew it in their direction.

"Sleep," he breathed. The dust drifted in a silent, nearly invisible cloud towards the two guards, enveloping them before they were aware of it.

The pair collapsed, one buckling at the knees and dropping to the floor, the other slumping heavily against the wall.

The guards temporarily disposed of, Harry and Ron dashed down the passage to Cell 50.

"You'd better stand back and keep watch," Harry whispered. "He might not speak to me if he knows someone else is listening."

Ron nodded and backed away, stepping carefully over the fallen body of one of the guards.

Faced with the section of blank wall that was the front of Malfoy's cell, Harry discovered that his palms were sweating. He and Ron had just committed two quite serious breaches of security, and what he was contemplating now just might buy them a night in the neighbouring cells.

But having come so far, he had burned his bridges. He tapped the wall twice with his wand and a section cleared at once.

Malfoy was lying on top of his bed, fully dressed and apparently staring up at the ceiling. The only other objects in the room were a very large pitcher of water and a cup, neither of which looked as if it had been touched.

Harry cleared his throat. "Malfoy!"

The blond head snapped around and grey eyes narrowed for a moment. Then his brows went up and Malfoy slowly swung himself up into a sitting position.

"A little late for a social call, isn’t it, Potter?" His voice rasped slightly and Harry saw him swallow. "Or should I say, a little early?"

"You wanted to talk to me," Harry replied curtly, "so talk."

There was a pause, then Malfoy slowly stood up and approached the clear barrier between them. He didn't look well. His pale skin had developed an unhealthy tinge and his eyes were too bright.

The process of dehydration starts well before the body registers thirst, and proceeds steadily through headaches, weakness, bodily pains and hallucination before death occurs. From the look of him, Malfoy was already experiencing the headaches and weakness, not to mention an all-consuming thirst that was probably worse than all the rest. Harry remembered Moody's comment about the young Death Eater already being dehydrated, and had to fight an irrational surge of compassion. Malfoy, he reminded himself, was inflicting this torture upon himself. The remedy was readily to hand.

"So?" he demanded impatiently.

Malfoy regarded him through those too-bright storm-coloured eyes. "Are you alone?"

"Look, get on with it - I don't have all night, and I'm already in enough trouble - "

"You're not alone, are you?" The blond youth's mouth twitched into a smirk. "Who did you bring with you? Weasley?" Harry said nothing, but stared back as impassively as he could. Malfoy raised his voice slightly. "Are you there, Weasley?"

To Harry's exasperation – he could have brazened it out if only Ron had stayed back - Ron walked back into Malfoy's line of sight, arms folded and jaw clenched. His glare could have fried eggs at ten paces.

"Against my better judgement," he said tightly.

Malfoy was watching Harry though, seemingly well entertained. "It's rather sweet, really," he commented mockingly. "Where one goes, the other follows. Well, well, well …. Can it be possible that the Boy Who Lived plays Seeker for the opposing team?"

The taunt stung more than Harry liked, for until now he and Ron had never been on the receiving end of any malice about their relationship. For a moment he was stuck for a suitable retort but Ron, a veteran of a thousand quarrels with five older brothers, had no such problems.

"I dunno, Malfoy," he sneered back. "If it came down to a choice between this and screwing Pansy Parkinson, I'd take Harry any time – or even you, and that's saying something."

This was a heavy handed slap at Malfoy, who had kept the fair Pansy dangling for three years at Hogwarts by blowing first hot, then cold on her. The obsessed girl had eventually been driven to such extreme, attention-seeking antics that even he didn't find it funny anymore. But even Harry had found it hard to feel much sympathy for her; Pansy's spiteful tongue and crass stupidity had made it hard for even her fellow Slytherins to like her much.

Malfoy's pale face flushed angrily at the insult. "At least I'm not a – "

"We're going," Harry interrupted. He didn't need to hear any more comments about his sexual preferences. "This is a total waste of time. Come on, Ron." He had to grab his friend's arm to make him move; Ron was more than keen to take his old enemy on.

"No - wait!"

Harry's green eyes flicked over Malfoy coldly. "Why should I? I took a huge risk coming here tonight, Malfoy. I can't imagine why."

"Aren't you curious about that?" The grey eyes bored into him almost feverishly.

"Not really. I've had my fair share of stupid impulses over the years, and this is obviously just another one."

"Is it? That's really odd, Potter, because I've been fighting off the impulse to visit you for weeks."

"Oh, gimme strength!" Ron spluttered, disbelieving.

But Harry stared at Malfoy. Once again, he had the oddest sensation that the blond youth was speaking the truth. He folded his arms and regarded him suspiciously.

"Go on."

Malfoy relaxed slightly now that he had Harry's attention. He too folded his arms and tried to look nonchalant. It wasn't working very well; his advancing thirst was affecting his concentration and balance.

"I had a strange dream the other night," he said conversationally. "We were in a room at Hogwarts – you, me and carrot-top there. There was a big, circular mural of a phoenix on the floor, but other than that the room was empty. It wasn't a room I recognised. I was wearing a black robe, you were wearing red and Weasley was wearing blue. We were arguing. Sound familiar to you at all?"

Silence. Harry had to really fight the urge to turn and look at Ron to get his reaction to this. But Malfoy was smiling triumphantly.

"I was right! You've been dreaming the same things!"

"And if I have?" Harry stared at him. "What difference does that make, Malfoy? You still haven't told me anything that justifies me coming down here. You'd better start talking, or we're leaving you to enjoy Moody's nightcap there."

"I said I'd talk to you in private." The smile slipped and Malfoy's eyes slid towards Ron, glinting maliciously.

"Harry – " Ron warned him quietly.

Harry shrugged. "This is as private as it gets. Like it or lump it."

A sneer. "Do you always do what he tells you?"

Harry grinned in spite of himself. "When it makes sense – and it often does, when I think about it. Besides, you've already confirmed that Ron is the key player in all of this. He has a right to know why Voldemort wants him."

Malfoy let out a sharp breath of frustration. "I've already told you and your Auror friends – I don't know why he wants him. He still wants you too, but for some reason he's willing to sacrifice you if he can get his hands on Weasley in the process."

"All right. Tell us about the business with the curse on Ron. What was that all about?"

"Two reasons. They wanted to find out if he would be susceptible to the Enviolus Curse, and they wanted him put in a position where they could readily get their hands on him without alerting suspicions."

"You keep saying they," noted Ron. "Voldemort and who else?"

"My father, and a couple of others - "


"Why should I tell you everything?" Malfoy snapped. "I do that, and there's nothing left to guarantee your lot won't send me to Azkaban."

"You're going to Azkaban anyway," Ron pointed out coolly. "How long a sentence you get depends on how co-operative you are now."

"It's not the length of sentence that bothers me, Weasley!"


"Ron ...." Harry looked at Malfoy. "Tell me about the Enviolus Curse. Why did they think Ron might not be susceptible to it?"

Malfoy shrugged. "Because of his Auror training. The Enviolus Curse is the original root of the Imperius Curse. It has a lot of the same characteristics, but the difference is that the control is far more precise, allowing the subject to act more naturally, while blanking the memory in the process. It's been lost for centuries, though, so no one was really sure whether – like the Imperius Curse – it could be effectively resisted by someone trained to do so."

Harry found he really didn't like the sound of this. One of the few assurances wizards had about the Imperius Curse was that it could be fought, provided you had the training and strength of character. If it wasn't possible to fight the Enviolus Curse, then they were all in trouble.

Clearly Ron was thinking the same thing. "What does it take to cast it?" he demanded. "Can anyone do it?"

To their relief, Malfoy shook his head. "No. It depends on the strength of the wizard casting it, and the resistance levels of the subject. The casting wizard has to be much stronger." He looked at Ron and grudgingly added, "Lord Voldemort himself cast that curse on you, so I suppose you can't really be blamed for succumbing to it."

Ron stared. "If You-Know-Who was in Pontypridd, why didn't he just snatch me there and then, instead of going through this rigmarole?"

Malfoy snorted. "Don't be stupid. He wasn't in Pontypridd. He used another Death Eater as an intermediary. Besides, he let you go under the curse because he wanted to find out how effective it would be. If you killed Potter, so much to the good. If you got sent to Azkaban for it, even better. Since the Dementors were removed from the place, it's been a simple matter for him to remove prisoners whenever he feels like it. The human guards who replaced them aren't exactly the cream of society and are easily suborned. He could have got his hands on you there with the minimum of fuss and the chances were that no one would have even noticed you were missing."

Harry was silent, horrified. The Dementors had been removed from Azkaban at Dumbledore's insistence, as they were unreliable guardians of the facility, all too likely to join Voldemort under the right circumstances. The idea that this had simply made the prison more accessible to the world's most evil wizard was ...unthinkable.

"You should be happy to be sent there, then," Ron managed after a moment's stricken silence.

The grey eyes flashed. "You must be insane. The last thing I want is for him or my father to get hold of me again. You might think this cell is uncomfortable, but believe me – this is the safest I've felt in a year. Why the hell do you think I took the first opportunity offered to escape and come to you?"

Some of Ron's cynicism returned. "We're touched," he sneered, "but oddly enough, at the same time I feel utterly unmoved."

Malfoy responded with a barrage of abuse that left him exhausted and Harry very curious. The look on the blond youth's face when he had spoken of feeling safe seemed sincere.

"What have they been doing to you, and why?" he asked.

"You know what they've been doing," Malfoy said, his voice rasping and weary. He swallowed a few times and closed his eyes, leaning against the barrier heavily. "Look, whatever it is they want Weasley for was originally planned for me – and I never did find out what it was. For years, ever since the Dark Lord returned, my father told me I was part of some grand scheme, a masterstroke that could be turned against Dumbledore and his followers. But when it came to it and they tried to use me for whatever it was, it didn't work. I don't know why – I don't know anything. All I know is that Lord Voldemort was furious about it, and it damaged my father's standing in his circle badly. After that, I wasn't much use to them. Then about a year ago, my father started power-draining me to supplement his own strength, probably to give him an edge over the others around the Dark Lord."

Malfoy's mouth twisted with bitterness. "He said it was the least I could do for him, having failed the cause so badly."

"They found plenty of use for you last weekend, palming that spellcloth off onto me," Ron retorted angrily.

"Well, that was a job anyone could do, even me!" The sneer was back, but it was directed at himself, and Harry felt sure he was quoting someone; probably Lucius Malfoy. "Although the information on how to get it to you came from me, too. No one else could have told them that."

"Not something to be proud of, Malfoy," said Harry, dryly.

"At this stage, Potter, I'll take what I can get."

"Forgive me if I don't drip sympathy over you! What the hell did you expect from someone like Voldemort? What he wants, he wants for himself, Malfoy." Harry flapped his arms in exasperation. "Oh, he'll throw a few crumbs to his loyal henchmen now and again, to ensure their loyalty, because even a powerful wizard like him needs someone to run his errands and do his dirty work! But the real power, the thing he craves, he'll keep to himself. There's no room for rivals with a creature like that, don't you get it? You and the other Death Eaters, you're just means to an end."

"And you're not?" Malfoy raised a pale, mocking brow at Harry. "You're an Auror, Harry Potter, a foot-soldier in Dumbledore's war. The Muggles have a term for it: gun fodder. You're as expendable as I am, and you'll get just as little out of it – less, in fact, because there's always a chance that sacrifices on my part will win me the Dark Lord's favour, but for you there's nothing at the end of it except a lifetime of looking over your shoulder, like Mad-Eye Moody."

"You're wrong," Harry told him quietly. "If we win, the satisfaction is in knowing that the world – wizard and Muggle – is safe and can live without fear. There's the satisfaction of knowing that we've rid the world of the most horrifying menace in wizarding history. Apart from that, I already have just about everything I want."

"Not if they take Weasley here from you, you don't. You think I don't remember that he's "the thing you'll miss most"?" Malfoy pushed himself upright, with an effort; his hands were trembling slightly. "To stop Lord Voldemort doing that, you're going to need me."

"I think the thirst is starting to get to you," Ron commented acidly. "Get this into your head, Malfoy: The only thing we need you for is information."

"No, you don't." Malfoy was watching Harry. "There was another dream, which I'm sure Harry remembers. We were on the Hogwarts Express, weren't we? We had a little chat about co-operation and working together."

"The day I work with you, Malfoy, is the day I check into St. Mungo's for treatment," Harry advised him.

"And am I ever glad to hear you say that," a new voice commented.

Harry's whipped around, staring.

Sirius Black and Remus Lupin were standing at the end of the passage. It was Sirius who had spoken, but from the look of things they had both been there for some time.

"Damn," Harry muttered under his breath, although he had known all along that it was more than he could expect to escape this scenario without being caught at some point.

But Ron, who normally panicked far more in these situations, seemed quite calm.

"It's about time you two showed up, isn't it?" he said.


"You're getting a bit sneaky in your old age, aren't you?" Harry demanded fifteen minutes later, not sure whether to be angry or not at Ron's deception.

"What can I say?" his friend replied unrepentantly. "You must be rubbing off on me."

"But you couldn't know I was going to come down here – "

Ron rolled his eyes. "No, of course not. Because you've never done anything like this before, have you?" He snorted rudely. "Like I said to Hermione – "

"Hermione was in on this too?"

" – it was asking for trouble just telling you not to do it!"

Harry sat back, feeling indignant and just a little bit hurt.

"You could have told me," he said finally.

"We thought you'd act more naturally if you didn't know," Sirius said.

"But – "

"Harry, sometimes you're just too honest," Lupin said kindly. "You can't tell an outright lie without it showing in your face. You're like your father in that respect," he added, and traded amused looks with Sirius. "Lily could really be quite devious, but James .... But that's beside the point. We thought that if you walked in there knowing that someone else was listening, Malfoy would take one look at you and know. He guessed Ron was there as it was. Actually, I'm surprised he agreed to talk after that."

"He was having too much fun taking the piss out of us to care," Harry said sourly.

"Well, whatever the cause, you at least got some useful information out of him – not much, but it'll help."

Harry made an effort to tear his mind away from his aggravation. "About this Enviolus Curse ...."

"Dumbledore already knew of its existence, as it happens," Sirius assured him, and both Harry and Ron breathed a little easier. "The problem is how to counteract it. He's fairly sure it fell out of use because there's a counter-spell, but given the length of time since it was last used, it might take a while to find out more about it."

"Unfortunately, we still don't know any more about why Voldemort wants Ron," Lupin said gravely, "and that's a blow, because it means he's not safe anywhere for the time being, except possibly in this building or at Hogwarts."

Ron began to look alarmed. "Does this mean I have to stay under house arrest or something?"

"No! That's not a viable option. But it does mean the pair of you won't simply be able to roam around as you have before – "

"No more cosy little shopping trips in central London," Sirius put in blandly. "I think we can strike trips to Quidditch matches off the calendar too."

Ron looked a little disgruntled at this, but he made no protest.

"What about Malfoy knowing about my dreams?" Harry asked uneasily. "That can't be a coincidence or a lucky guess, can it?"

Sirius and Lupin looked at each other for a moment.

"We need to talk to Dumbledore about that one," Sirius said finally, but he looked across at Ron. "You're the expert – what do you think?"

Ron chewed his lip and shrugged. "I don't know what kind of precognitive abilities Malfoy has," he said, "although even if he didn't have any at all, it would still be possible for him to dream true about something really important to him. Even Muggles can do that. I've never heard of people sharing dreams before, though." This came out very reluctantly; clearly he was not happy about this aspect of things.

"He seems to think we should be working together," Harry said neutrally. Ron said nothing, but he could feel him tensing up at the suggestion.

"I note that he didn't specify on what," Lupin replied dryly.

Harry looked around at them all, and finally said what he felt sure they must all be thinking. "Is it possible that Malfoy could be under the Enviolus Curse?"

"Anything's possible," Sirius replied. "But one thing Dumbledore did remember about the Enviolus Curse is that someone under its influence can still be successfully questioned under Veritaserum. So we'll know tomorrow if young Draco is hiding anything. Moody won't wait longer than that to get answers from him."


To Harry's relief, he was not expected to sit in on Malfoy's second interview the next day. Watching someone being questioned under Veritaserum was almost as unpleasant as being subjected to the potion himself – something he had experienced as part of his early training. Apart from the horror of having his mouth open and spill his innermost secrets entirely against his will, Harry had never got over the experience of seeing Bartemius Crouch questioned under it when he was fourteen.

Instead he and Ron got some of their routine work done. They were pleased to discover that they had been granted a warrant to bring Mundungus Fletcher in for questioning over the curses sent to Percy Weasley. Neither of them seriously believed that they would be able to charge him with anything – he had friends in high places, not least of whom was Dumbledore – but they hoped that at least showing him that the Aurors were taking the matter seriously would be enough to persuade him to leave Percy alone for a while.

In the event, the interview with Fletcher went much as Harry expected. At no point did he admit to anything, but he did raise the roof with his outraged protests at being brought into the Facility in the first place. Harry was accused of using his 'celebrity status' as a bludgeon to beat down law-abiding members of the wizarding community, while Ron was told he was a disgrace and that his mother was going to hear about his behaviour.

"Although what good the old goat thinks that'll do is anyone's guess," Ron snorted after they'd sent the old man away with a sharp lecture about the misuse of both curses and valuable Auror time. "My mum's more than a match for him! Especially after some of the stuff he's tried on Dad over the years."

"Your mum's more than a match for most people," Harry chuckled. "Come on - we've still got time to look into that crate of poisoned tea before lunch."

Since Hermione was still tied up looking into the runes that had been used on Malfoy, their partner on this project was Meg Cottley, called "Silent" because she had lost her voice to a mispronounced curse at school. The handicap did not seem to curb her ability to communicate – rumour said that she had been her school's Debating Champion for two years in a row after the accident – but she was rather lacking in a sense of humour, which made the work drag a little.

By lunch they had narrowed the search for a possible supplier down to two or three notorious wizarding shops, which left Ron at least in a very cheerful frame of mind.

"Yes! A raid on Knockturn Alley!" he crowed gleefully, and laughed when he saw Harry's sour expression.

The last Auror raid on Knockturn Alley had led to Harry being sprayed with a perfume called Jezebel by an angry Veela who owned a scent shop there. The perfume turned out to be a powerful aphrodisiac concocted from succubus musk, and it had given him several painfully embarrassing hours until they had worked out how to counteract it. The incident still caused a lot of mirth among Harry's colleagues.

Harry was about to say something cutting in response to Ron's amusement, when the door of the main interview room opened and Sirius stepped out to summon the two guards to escort Malfoy back to his cell. The young Death Eater looked dazed and confused as he was led away, not even noticing Harry and Ron as he passed them.

Sirius went back inside the interview room, and the door shut tight behind him. Ron and Harry exchanged glances.

"Sirius looked a bit grim," the red-head commented. Harry nodded, staring at the closed door.

A sudden tapping sound made them both look around; Meg was glowering at them. She pointed imperiously to the location-spell bags they were making up from some of the poisoned tea, which would be used to help them identify the guilty retailer that afternoon. They reluctantly got back to work.

Perhaps half an hour later, just as they were about to stop for lunch, Sirius suddenly appeared at the door of the interview room again.

"Harry, Ron – a word with you, please."

He still looked grim.


"We think there may be more to young Mr. Malfoy's current predicament with his father than meets the eye," Dumbledore told them quietly, "and it almost certainly has a bearing on Voldemort's interest in Ron."

Harry wondered if it was his imagination that made him think the elderly professor was studying them with unusual sharpness. Ron was shifting unhappily beside him; whether it was from that perceptive stare or because he disliked the idea of any kind of connection with Malfoy, it was impossible to tell.

"Unfortunately," Dumbledore continued, "he is telling the truth when he says he knows nothing of Voldemort's plans either for himself or for Ron – or indeed for you, Harry, other than that they most certainly involve your death at some point."

"Not exactly something we didn't already know," Moody snorted.

"He's telling the truth when he says he's afraid of what Voldemort and his father have in store for him, though," Lupin put it. "He doesn't know what it is, but he knows it's something he doesn't want to be a part of."

"He wants to work with us to stop them," Sirius commented in a neutral tone.

Ron made a sour sound at this, but Harry was looking at Dumbledore. "Why?" he asked.

"Because he believes it to be the only way he can be free of them, short of death," the professor said heavily. "I must say that I agree with him."

"Then I vote we give him a knife, and some peace and quiet to use it," Ron said venomously.

"Ron!" Harry was shocked.

"Oh, come off it, Harry! This is Draco Malfoy we're talking about – he's not exactly going to be a loss, is he? And we'll probably all be a lot safer without him around."

From Sirius and Moody's silences, Harry got the distinct impression that they agreed with Ron, even if they wouldn't come out and say so; Lupin, grave and quiet in his corner, was giving nothing of his opinion away. But Dumbledore remained unmoved by Ron's outburst.

"I would ask that you strive to put aside childhood quarrels, Ron," he suggested gently. "I'm sure you haven't seriously considered what you are saying." Looking at Ron, Harry rather doubted that, but he didn't interrupt. "All life is precious, if only because once snuffed out, it can never be replaced. You might also consider that it took considerable courage for Draco to come to us, for he knew that at the very least he would encounter significant hostility. His escape from his father's manor was not easy, but he undertook it even knowing what would probably happen to him if he was caught."

"Getting away that easily argues for him being one of Voldemort's spies," Ron argued.

"The risk is certainly there – and about as likely as it is that you are still under Voldemort's influence," Dumbledore pointed out mildly.

Ron sat back with a jolt, flushing.

There was a pause, then Moody sighed and shifted.

"So now we have a problem," he growled. "Whatever we do, we're going to need the Malfoy boy under our eyes for a while. Yet as the law stands, we must either charge him and send him for trial, or let him go free."

"And despite everything, we really don't have anything to charge him with," Lupin said reluctantly. "Nothing the Council of Magical Law would be willing to try him for at the present time, anyway. He came to us. Actually, we're on very doubtful ground just holding him and questioning him under Veritaserum."

"So we need to stash him somewhere reasonably safe, where we can keep an eye on him and see what develops," Sirius continued. "And that's where you two come in."

Harry's stomach lurched. He felt sure he knew what was coming.

Nor was he mistaken.

"There's a spare room in that student house you live in, isn't there?" Moody asked.


End Part 10/30



SparkySparkles - Glad you're still enjoying it!

Becchan – Expect more Draco ... oh yes *smile*

Quoth the Raven – I don't know how in-character this Draco is; I'll leave that to others to judge, but hopefully he won't be too out of character. Regarding the ruthlessness of the Aurors, I think they're probably more ruthless under Moody and I feel he would be prepared to push the limits of what he's allowed to do. On the other hand, he does have strict principles and personal limits on how far he'll go, as was shown in GoF. I don't know how well I've done in showing that. But they're in a difficult position – Voldemort's return is an open secret but Fudge is still trying to keep a lid on it. As for unfinished fics – I'm always tempted to start posting early! And even though this one is finished, I'm still tinkering with it here and there as I go along. I can always see mistakes in the damn things later ....

Pale Rider - Hopefully this chapter answers the question of them being dim, although I agree – this isn't one of the stronger sections of the story. I'm glad it hasn't put you off though. Unfortunately, I do think that these early chapters show I wasn't clear in my mind where the story was heading when I wrote them, but hopefully things will shortly start coming together.

Sally – A Howler? Ouch! Sorry about that – I try to update at roughly the same time each time, but domestic situations sometimes interfere! Glad you liked the innuendo, though *grin*

Isolde – I'm glad I've converted you – Harry/Ron can be a fun ship to sail on! Compulsive-cleaning!Harry seems to be popular. I must see if I can write something else with him in.

Beth Ann – Neville's t-shirt is yours, my dear, in thanks for your support! (Actually, I do have some of those t-shirt transfers left ....)

WittchWay – Glad you like it!

Xxlangley – I was slow gearing up into the relationship stuff because I hadn't written slash in so long. There's more of it as the story progresses, though, so I hope no one will be disappointed, despite this being a PG13 rated fic.

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