“Oh, for Merlin’s sake,” Judge Crawford Firethron muttered as he read the list of cases that were to appear in front of him that day. “These two again?”
“I’m afraid so, sir,” Lilian Loriss, the Ministry clerk said. “Apparently, this time, they got into an argument over whether or not Malfoy can keep an Abraxan horse in the garden of his London abode.”
Judge Firethron raised an eyebrow as he glanced at Lilian. “Malfoy wants to keep an Abraxan? He looks like he wouldn’t be able to handle a Shetland pony. And I assume that Potter is opposed to it?”
“Indeed,” Lilian nodded, closing the file. “Ended up causing chaos on Diagon Alley when he released a conjured herd of miniature Abraxans that charged at Malfoy, but ended up running roughshod through some of the shops, including Eeylops.”
“Give me strength,” Judge Firethron groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Very well. Let’s get on with this. Bring them in first, I don’t want them to be in my courtroom for longer than necessary.”
“Very good, sir,” Lilian nodded, turning and leaving the room swiftly.
“I’ve got something in mind that should stop them showing up here again,” Judge Firethron said, tapping his chin thoughtfully.
Draco nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“Do you have experience of handling Abraxan horses? They are rather powerful creatures,” Judge Firethron continued. “Certainly not a breed for the faint of heart.”
“Not as such,” Draco replied. “But I was prepared to learn.”
Harry snorted from across the room.
“Quiet please, Mr Potter,” Judge Firethron said. “Mr Malfoy, do you realise that it would be a monumental task to raise an Abraxan horse in the confines of a London garden? Not to mention incredibly difficult to keep it concealed from Muggles?”
Harry nodded enthusiastically, but kept silent. He’d done this plenty of times to know that if he spoke, he’d be in trouble.
Draco sighed and nodded. “Yes, sir,” he said. “I was never really intending to get an Abraxan horse. I did have plans, but they were never serious. I… I just wanted to wind Potter up.”
Harry looked at him furiously and opened his mouth to reply, but was silenced with a look from the judge.
“Mr Malfoy, your little ‘prank’ has resulted in an enormous amount of disruption, not to mention lost business for Eeylops Owl Emporium who had to spend several hours retrieving owls from the length and breadth of Diagon Alley,” Judge Firethron said, sternly.
Draco did his best to look abashed.
Judge Firethron looked at him for a few moments longer, before turning to Harry. “Mr Potter, is it also true that you were responsible for the herd of miniature Abraxans that rampaged through the street?”
Harry felt himself turn red as he nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“Exactly what did you think would happen when you conjured those horses?” Judge Firethron asked.
“I, er, well, I thought that they’d just, sort of, charge him down,” Harry said. “You know, make him run.”
“Mr Potter, I would have expected you to have better judgement than that,” Judge Firethron said, as a few spectators sniggered. “While conjured animals are not capable of existing for long, they are capable of causing very real damage in the short time they are in existence.”
“Yes, sir. I realise that now,” Harry nodded, looking down.
“Do the two of you realise that you are my most frequent visitors in this courtroom?” Judge Firethron asked. “This the fourteenth time. Fourteenth. This must stop. Therefore I am ordering you to attend a couples therapy course.”
“What?” Harry yelped.
“We’re not a couple!” Draco protested at the same time, looking at the judge with wide eyes.
“I am well aware of that,” Judge Firethron said. “However, it appears that no punishment issued to you by this court has any effect. So I see no other alternative than to send you to couples therapy to attempt to work through whatever deep-seated issues you have with one another.”
“No buts! Your first appointment is this afternoon and you will attend weekly for a period of at least six weeks,” Judge Firethron said. “And that is my final decision. Next case!”
Harry stared at Draco across the room, an expression of horror mixed with disbelief on his face. This was not supposed to happen.