A plot bunny, free to a good home. I want to concentrate on ‘Atonement’ at the moment, but this one was keeping me awake at nights, demanding to be written. So here it is – if you want it, take it (please send me a link to any stories you write with it – amber_and_ash@yahoo.com)

Surety

The war was finally over. It was strange to be back here, in Hogwarts hospital wing. Strange to feel safe. Strange to have so many people missing; strange to have so many people together again. Even Malfoy was here – he hadn’t been hurt in the battle, just some normal accident, but with all the hospitals full he had been diverted here.

My thoughts were interrupted by a furiously whispered argument.

“We can’t delay it any longer, Poppy. We will have to turn over Draco to the ministry tomorrow.”

“You can’t do that, Albus!”

“Why do they want Malfoy?” I interrupted.

“Harry! We didn’t realize you were awake. We’ll go and talk some-where else. Sorry for disturbing you.”

“No.” I was no longer a child to be that easily placated. “Why do they want Malfoy? He wasn’t even in the war.”

“Well, you see, after it turned out how many death eaters they’d released the last time, the ministry is being much less forgiving with suspects. I’m afraid Draco is the son of a confirmed death eater, and as you pointed out, he wasn’t on our side.”

“He wasn’t on their side, either!”

“Can you prove that?”

“What, are we going with guilty until proven innocent here?”

“Yes. I’m afraid they are.”

They couldn’t be serious.

“But that must mean dozens, if not hundreds, of people!”

“”It’s not as bad as all that. Most people have some one to stand surety for them. Unfortunately, Draco has no family member whose name is entirely clear to do so for him.”

“Stand surety?”

“Swear to ensure that the other person will not perform any dark magic in the future,” Poppy filled in, tight-lipped.

“So why can’t you stand surety?”

Albus’s resigned tone was beginning to infuriate me. I couldn’t believe Albus Dumbledore, Hero of the wizarding world, was knowingly going to let one of his students rot in Azkaban for something he hadn’t done. Even Malfoy didn’t deserve that.

“I wish I could, Harry, but it too big a commitment. It would mean having to personally grant permission each and every time the other wanted to use magic. It would mean having to live at close quarters for years, possibly even decades, until the ministry is satisfied of the other’s loyalties. I have a school to run. It wouldn’t be fair to my students for me to devote that much time to a single person.”

“Then I will.”

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