If it hadn’t been for the eyes, Harry wouldn’t have recognized the man at his front door.
Held and chained between two Aurors — new ones, not personally known to Harry — he looked more like a scarecrow than a man. His hair was so dirty as to be a different color, dark and lank. The Azkaban uniform did nothing for him, making him look wan and sick. The heavy iron chains, the gaunt cheeks — there was only the faintest spark of his former rival in the man there.
We’ve decided to give you the younger Malfoy. The Head of Reconstruction, a former Gryffindor Harry barely recognized, had looked tired and clearly been braced for a fight. Because, quite frankly, we can’t trust his life with many other people. You might have been happier with —
Harry had stopped him there, not wanting to know who the head of thought he’d be better pleased with. An older Slytherin girl? One of the female Death Eaters themselves?
I’m happy to do whatever the Department and the Ministry need from me. He’d been saying that a lot lately. He wondered when he would finally stop saying it.
The leftmost Auror, nearly as ginger as the Weasleys, cleared his throat. “Mr. Potter, this is the prisoner-slave sent to you by Ministry Resolution Seven-Twelve. There are-” He looked around as if worried that the neighbors would see them.
“Fidelus Charm,” Harry sighed. The neighbors weren’t going to see anything. They had to know that; someone had to have told them where the house was. “But come on in. There are-”
The other Auror, shorter, female, and muscular, with four visible scars even in her auror robes, shoved forward a set of golden jewelry in her off hand. “You have to put them on him. The magic will attune to the person who installs, err, puts it on, err, who locks the jewelry on the prisoner-slave.”
Harry gestured them into the house. It was still a mess, but he wasn’t particularly in the mood to impress anyone. “He has a name, you know.”
“Well, uh,” the taller one cleared his throat. “That is. Technically, he doesn’t. That’s part of the terms of the urm, probation.”
“Probation.” The word left a bad taste in Harry’s mouth. “Slavery.”
He’d argued with Heathcote O’Flaherty — the Head of Reconstruction — about this idea for months before, advised by Hermione that there were bigger battles left to fight and pushed by Ron to drop it, he’d gone back to I’m happy to do whatever the department and the ministry need from me.
“Probation-Slavery,” the shorter Auror agreed. She held the - slavery-pieces? Jewelry? Chains? The things out to Harry.
Harry took them but didn’t look at them. He’d already done some reading - mostly he’d done just enough reading to be able to understand when Hermione did all the reading and explained it to him - and he knew how the things worked. And then the Head of Reconstruction had explained it to him again.
He looked at the prisoner instead. The last time he’d seen the man, he’d been speaking for Draco and Narcissa at their trials. He’d done everything he could. And he’d ended up.... Doing this for him, not exactly his best idea, but he’d been running out of other ideas and Hermione’d been up to her elbows in things she needed to get done.
Draco didn’t look at him. He hadn’t looked at anyone or said anything since he and his jailors arrived here. He was silent, not sneering, no real expression at all. Harry was struck again at how much not like himself he looked.
He cleared his throat and looked down at the things in his hands. The one was a collar, that much was obvious. And then there was - bracelets?
“They will bind his will to yours,” the shorter Auror explained. “It’s not the Imperius curse-”
It’s not the Imperius curse. The Head of Reconstruction had been very clear on that. Harry had been shouting at him; the man had responded with a snappish voice, standing up to show off how much taller than Harry he was. We are NOT performing Unspeakable Curses on the prisoners and I resent the implication that we might.
Of course. The taste in Harry’s mouth had been awful that day. You’re just making sure their owners - pardon me, minders - can tell them to do whatever they need to. Want to.
After that little tantrum, he’d been a bit surprised that the man had sent him a probation-prisoner-slave after all. He supposed they needed the good PR of the Boy Who Lived buying in to their gross program.
And he — well. We can’t trust his life with many other people.
He’d already seen Pansy Parkinson at the Burrow. He’d seen Theodore Nott placed with the remainders of the Diggory family. He wasn’t going to say no, not when the Department of Reconstruction had been known to turn on even its golden children.
We need them. Hermione kept trying to hammer the message home. And we know what happens when we get on the wrong side of the Ministry.
So he’d stopped yelling. He’d lent his name and his face to the Reconstruction efforts. He’d added as much input to the projects as they would allow him, and when Ron could be convinced, he seeded the input through his friend instead.
Meanwhile, they’d plotted Ron’s and Neville’s Ministry careers - and Percy’s, now - aimed Hermione’s further education, and planned out Harry and Ginny’s social engagements like they were strategizing for another war. They even did their best to plot Luna’s trips, although that was like herding cats on a good day and like catching fog in a net on a bad. They’d all continued to work with the Department of Reconstruction as much as they could stand, as that Department doled out those who’d found themselves on the wrong side of the war who were deemed too guilty for fines or house arrest and yet too innocent for Azkaban.
They were braced for anything. Somehow, that still didn’t make this any easier.
“It doesn’t actually make them do exactly what you say, nothing like that,” the shorter Auror continued.
“I know.” Harry gestured them past the entryway. “It binds their magic and their - his location to me. I helped design them,” he added. His mouth tasted like ashes. “Here, sit him down here.” He gestured into the sitting room, to a chair that, despite Molly Weasley’s best efforts, probably would not look dirtier for the filthiness of the prisoner’s uniform. “You don’t have to hold him like that. I don’t think he’s going to make a run for it.”
“Others have tried.” The taller Auror’s tone was meant, Harry thought, to sound ominous. Instead, it merely sounded pompous.
“You don’t have to hold him, still,” Harry repeated. “I don’t think he can walk without help right now.”
Indeed, the prisoner was limp in the chair. With clear reluctance, both Aurors took a step backwards, leaving Harry to the pieces of adornment, such as they were, in his hands.
“Malfoy.” He cleared his throat. “Are you-”
“Don’t call me that.” The man’s voice was rough, as if he hadn’t used it in quite some time. “That’s not my name anymore.”
What had they done to him? “Dra-”
“Anything but that.” He sounded terrified.
“All right. Hold out your arms, then.” He was going to have to figure out what to call the man eventually. He didn’t think he’d appreciate ferret.
As if what his prisoner-slave appreciated was the important thing.
The man held out his arms, the heavy chains jangling.
“Those don’t come off until the other ones come on,” the ginger Auror explained. Harry huffed and pushed the shackles closer to the man’s hands, giving him a clear view of chafed, abraded, bloody wrists.
He winced as he locked the golden cuffs on. They were lightweight, thin, decorative-looking. They were meant, or so he’d been told, to be a less cruel sort of thing. But they still bound his prisoner’s will and magic to his own.
And then, moving aside limp hair that had grown past the man’s neck, the collar, a match to the cuffs and layered in runes, glowing with magic as Harry locked it closed.
With a noise like approval, the shorter Auror took off the heavy iron chains. “You be sure to get back your own on this one,” she told Harry. “I lost a sister at the Battle of Hogwarts, you know.”
“I’m sorry for your loss.” He was getting really good at saying that without it sounding hollow. “Thank you for your service, and thank you for bringing him to me. I’ll walk you out-”
“No need.” The ginger Auror didn’t seem to like him. “We’ll see ourselves out. You get started on this one. We won’t be here to see it.”
“Thank you,” Harry repeated. He walked them halfway anyway, not liking people stomping around his house, even if barely was his house. “Thanks for bringing him to me.”