Draco sat in the Headmaster’s office, eyes locked on the ground. He could hear the portraits on the wall whispering, and it took all his concentration to block their words out. He already knew what they were saying anyway. Lucius Malfoy had tried to kill Harry Potter, he had almost killed the little Weasley girl. Students were hurt. A giant snake. There wasn’t a person in the wizarding world who wouldn’t know by the time the Prophet was delivered the next day.
He had been surprised when his father had come to the school. Lucius had seemed very excited about something, the board of Governors would be meeting soon and Dumbledore would be out on his ass for not protecting the students from Slytherin’s serpent. It had all seemed so certain. The board would need to appoint someone else to run the school, and Lucius would cash in some of his many favors to make sure the right sort of wizard got the job. Draco had never seen his father so excited, the man had practically oozed malicious glee.
That was before Dobby showed up, and Lucius got caught in a hallway with his wand out, threatening Potter. It had all fallen apart, the whole plan unraveling around him. Lucius had been under investigation by the Ministry since the disappearance of Lord Voldemort. His money and status, along with claims of being under the Imperius Curse, had protected him from being sent to Azkaban along with many other Death Eaters. But it had not kept the aurors from keeping close surveillance on him when he was not protected by the charms and wards around Malfoy Manor.
Once Potter had emerged from the Chamber of Secrets with the little Weasley girl and the tattered diary, the events had become quite clear. An auror had indeed witnessed Lucius and his son in Flourish and Blotts the day the Weasley’s had been there. Tom Riddle’s Diary was traced back to Malfoy, and the freed house elf, Dobby, had been more than willing to divulge his former master’s secrets to the authorities. Lucius had been dragged out of Hogwarts in chains.
“Ah, Draco, I am sorry for keeping you waiting.”
Draco started, trance broken at the sound of the Headmaster’s voice. The old man had just come up the staircase, and Snape was standing behind him, a pained expression on his face.
“Hello sir,” Draco mumbled, eyes going back to the ground. The carpet in the office was a bit worn in some spots, he wondered how old it was. The house elves at Hogwarts were terrible compared to the ones at the manor.
“Draco,” Snape took a steadying breath. “Draco, your father has been taken into custody. It will take some times for the trial and sentencing but right now he is being held by the ministry.”
Draco nodded mutely. He had known this was a possibility. Had known it for years, his parents involvement in dark magic and ties to the Death Eaters was something he had been aware of for some time. Numerous ex Death eaters and supporters of You Know Who were frequent visitors.
“Your mother…” Snape hesitated, unsure of how to explain the situation. “Is gone.”
“Gone?” Draco whipped his head around to look at the older Slytherin.
Snape winced slightly at the look on the boy’s face. “She fled as soon as she got word that Lucius had been captured. We haven’t located her, but most likely she has gotten help form contacts of your aunt’s.”
“Ah. Aunt Bellatrix.” Draco leaned back in the chair, head spinning with the news. His mother was gone, most likely disappearing to the continent to seek refuge with other dark wizards and and witches. “And if she returns?”
“She would be arrested and tried, same as your father. There is evidence she was aware of his plans, even if she didn’t do anything directly,” Snape answered.
Draco nodded. It made sense. His mother didn’t share Lucius’ ambition, surely, but there had never been secrets between the two. Whatever his father had done, his mother was just as guilty.
Dumbledore circled around draco and took a seat at his desk, settling back in his seat and steepling his fingers in front of him. “Draco, first I must express my sadness at this situation. Your parents have left you in a difficult place.”
Draco nodded. It still hadn’t really sunk in, it felt more like a nightmare. He couldn’t shake the feeling that at any moment he might wake up, comfy and warm in his bed in the dorms.
“Since your parents are…” Dumbledore searched for a word. “Unavailable, and you are still under age, you will need to be placed in the care of an adult witch or wizard.”
Draco glanced at Snape out of the corner of his eye. He knew Severus had been appointed to be his guardian in the event that something had happened to his parents. The man was pointedly not meeting his gaze, eyes locked on some point on the far wall of the room instead.
“Professor, I was under the impression that in the event my parents were not able to care for me, Professor Snape would be my guardian,” Draco said flatly.
Dumbledore ignored the boy for a moment, instead diverting his attention to the large crystal bowl of candy on his desk. “Would you like a jelly baby?” he asked, pushing the brightly colored gummies forward.
Draco’s lip curled in distaste. “No, thank you.” He had no idea what the candies were but they had the distinct look of a muggle sweet.
Dumbledore shrugged and looked to Snape, who also declined. “Well alright,” Dumbledore said, popping a few into his mouth. “The problem is, Draco, that your parents are being charged with crimes related to Voldemort and Severus was known to be a Death eater. Putting you in his care in these circumstances would be seen as an irresponsible. We simply cannot allow him to be your custodial guardian at this time.”
“Then who will be watching me?” Draco demanded, a feeling of panic rising in his stomach.
Dumbledore opened his mouth to respond, but stopped at the sound of feet coming up the stairs. “Ah, here they are now.”
Draco spun in his chair, eyes going wide at the people he saw. The Weasleys. The parents, he didn’t know their names, but the red hair and shabby clothes left no room for mistake. He had seen them before term started, at the bookstore, herding around a small army of ginger haired brats.
“Hello Draco, I’m Molly.” the woman smiled sweetly and leaned down, extending a hand for him to shake.
Draco regarded the limb as if it were a basilisk, recoiling back into the plush upholstery of his seat. “No.” He looked at Dumbledore and shook his head. “You cannot possibly be serious.”
Dumbledore pulled at his beard thoughtfully. “Unfortunately Draco, your parents had very few friends or family who the Ministry could deem fit guardians. In their absence it is either be placed with the Weasleys, or be remanded to the muggle foster care system.” he let the last statement hang in the air.
“Hello there Draco.” Arthur stepped forward and forced a smile of his own. “I know this is all a lot to take in, but you know it shouldn't be too bad. We have a few lads of our own, so you’ll fit right in with the family.” He seemed to perk up a bit as a thought occurred to him. “You I think we’re cousins of some sort actually. Cedrella Black got cut right off her bit of the family tree for marrying a Weasley, but still there you are!”
“So you’re family already!” Molly grinned and clapped her hands together, abandoning her failed handshake.
Draco’s already pale face went a shade whiter. It was a dream, a bad dream, a nightmare. He was not going to live with a bunch of blood traitors. And they certainly hadn’t done something as awful as suggest he was related to them. It was too much.
Snape cleared his throat and moved forward to shake Arthur’s hand. “Hello Arthur, Molly.” he nodded to the woman. “It’s good to see you again. I was happy to hear you would be able to take Draco in.”
Molly shrugged. “Oh what’s one more? We already have a house full of children, and Harry and Hermione often visit over the Summer.” She leaned in and whispered loudly. “I actually love having the house full, feels cozy.”
Arthur turned to Draco. “Well then, it seems everything is settled. Why don’t you head down to the dorms and collect your things. You can come back with us right after the school feast, that way you have time to get sorted.”
Draco recoiled slightly, eyes boring a hole into Snape’s skull. The man refused to look at him. “Home...with you…” he echoed hollowly. He felt lightheaded. This was a joke, or a nightmare. He was certain his next encounter with a boggart would leave him staring at the smiling, freckled, faces of the couple staring down at him.
Dumbledore stood, robes sweeping across the floor. “That sounds perfect. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, you will of course join us for the feast, you can eat at the staff table as our guests.” He moved behind Draco and leaned on his chair a bit, tipping the boy out of it and onto his feet.
Draco stumbled, body numb. He moved in a jerk mechanical motion towards the stairs, the sound of the adults behind him fading behind the dull roar of his own blood in his ears. It must have been a joke. A very bad joke.