Endgame Part Two: Time Is Running Out
"Ginny, you can't represent Malfoy," Lupin said, taking a seat across from Ginny in the conference room that evening.
"You can't take me off the case," Ginny declared, lifting her chin.
"Yes, I can, I'm your boss," Remus pointed out, "and you're too close to it, between him being your friend and…" he trailed off, not wanting to poke at a wound. He saw the same parallels to what had happened to Harry as Ginny did.
"That's why you'll be helping me," the redhead answered, undeterred. "You're not too close to it. You won't lose perspective."
Remus couldn't think of a counterargument, so he sighed as he watched Ginny gather up her things and prepare to head home.
"I'm sure I'm forgetting something and will wind up calling you in five minutes," Mrs. Potter remarked, earning a smile from her employer.
"Why should this night be any different from every other night?" Lupin quipped, as she headed out the door.
Sure enough, a few minutes later Lupin's phone rang. He answered it, assuming it was Ginny and wondering what had slipped her mind this time. His amusement was chased away by a cold feeling of dread as the disguised male voice spoke.
"Tell the redhead this is just a warning. If she doesn't drop the case…"
Lupin didn't stick around to hear the rest of the threat. He grabbed the first thing he could and ran towards the parking lot.
Ginny picked up her pace in the parking lot. She sensed she wasn't alone. Suddenly, a man jumped out to attack her—
—And was promptly sent flying into the windshield of one of the cars by a now familiar piece of fabric.
Once the threat had been neutralized, her pulse started to slow. Before she could thank her rescuer, Lupin jogged over carrying…
"Is that a stapler?" Ginny asked.
"It was the first thing I grabbed," Remus replied, defensively.
"What were you thinking, letting her take that case?" the Cape rounded on Lupin.
"Excuse me?" Lupin asked.
"You knew it was going to put her in danger. You saw what just happened here—and why did you let her walk to her car alone?"
"Hello, I'm right here!" Ginny said, indignantly.
"She wanted to take the case," Lupin said. "Do you know what she's like when her mind is made up?"
The vigilante started to nod, and then caught himself. He scowled.
"And you think you do?"
"Hey!" Ginny protested. "Alright, we've established that I'm stubborn. Now, take it easy. I'm not going to drop the case just because some thug was sent after me. Understand?"
Harry listened as his partner's words came over his earpiece, before addressing his wife.
"We need to have Malfoy transferred to federal custody. My friend is setting up a proffer session."
"What—I'm perfectly capable of contacting the feds myself," Ginny began.
"I'm sure you are, but we need to move fast—faster than," he cut himself off.
"Than who?" Ginny asked.
"Just trust me, there's no time to waste. Get Malfoy to do the proffer session tomorrow, and then we'll get him and his family the hell out of Palm City before it's too late."
The next day, Ginny headed into the Detention Facility, ready to visit Malfoy and tell him about the meeting scheduled with the Assistant United States Attorneys.
She was not ready to be told that her client was not in his cell, he was in the process of being released on bail. She paled.
"That's impossible," she told the officer. She hadn't submitted his bail application; she hadn't finished it yet. And between what had happened last night and the upcoming meeting today… "No one was posting his bail. He was supposed to…" Why was she wasting time talking to this man? She spotted Malfoy being escorted out of the building by two guards and chased after him.
"Malfoy!" she called. "I told you to sit tight! What happened?"
"I don't know," he replied, feeling as anxious as she was as he was led outside. A crowd of reporters had gathered, somehow tipped off about his release. Hidden amongst them, a sniper took aim…
"GET DOWN!" the Cape roared, seemingly materializing out of thin air. He threw Ginny and Malfoy to the ground and covered them as bullets flew in their direction. When the shooting stopped, he let them up.
Camera flashes went off around them as reporters got their first glimpse of what, until that point, had been only a rumor—the Cape. The Cape's green eyes scanned the crowd for a moment, trying and failing to spot the would-be assassin. Finally, he tossed down a couple of smoke pellets.
When the smoke had cleared, the Cape, Ginny Potter and Draco Malfoy were gone.
"Welcome," Moody greeted Ginny and Malfoy when they arrived. "Hagrid, a friend of mine, has graciously allowed us to use his store for the time being."
Harry went right past his mentor and made a bee-line straight for his partner.
"We need to get them out now," he insisted, "before Snape—"
"Sets up blockades around the city?" Hermione asked. "It's too late for that."
"But," Orwell continued, "the AUSAs got here first. We do the proffer session, get Malfoy to enter that deal, and the feds will escort Malfoy out of the city themselves. Snape won't be able to do a thing about them pulling jurisdiction on him."
"They're here now?" Harry asked, a hand affirming that his mask was still in place as he glanced about in search of the prosecutors.
"Right this way," the brunette replied. Before she led him to them, she held up a hand. "Harry, about the deal…"
"Malfoy is not to volunteer Chess' identity or—"
"You can't be serious? That's what will get him the best deal. Hell, that's what will clear my name!"
"It's also what will get him killed," Orwell said, quietly but firmly, "along with his family and perhaps yours." She took a step closer to her friend and ignored the voice in her head saying it's also what will destroy your father. If she hadn't told Harry who her father was when she needed the Cape's help to save him from Dice, she sure as hell wasn't going to tell him the secret now.
"If Malfoy talks about Snape, he won't be safe anywhere. Chess will hunt him down. But if Malfoy leaves Snape out of this, Snape won't follow him. He'll let it go. If you want to save your friend, Harry, you'll tell him to leave Chess out of this. You know I'm right."
"So, let me get this straight," Draco began. "In order to protect myself, I need to protect Snape. That's what you want me to do?" the blonde asked that evening.
"It's not that I want it," the Cape let out an aggravated sigh, as the two men stood alone, conversing on the roof. "I just don't see another option. If Chess knows you're ratting him out, jurisdiction or no jurisdiction, he'll have you murdered at the first checkpoint."
"Maybe that's what I deserve," Draco mused, gazing out at the city. "You know, I'm not that good a guy. I'm not like you or Harry—it's my fault he's dead.
"I knew it was a trap and I let Potter walk right into it. But you know, right up until he was knocked out, I had a plan. I was going to pull my weapon and help Potter and we were going to fight our way out of there and fuck anyone who tried to stop us.
"But when the time came to act, I just couldn't. I froze. Some friend I turned out to be. Potter would never have frozen. If it had been the other way around, Potter would've saved my arse. He wouldn't have been afraid of risking his life.
"He wouldn't want me to chicken out now. He'd want me to tell the AUSAs everything."
"Malfoy," Harry couldn't believe his ears. He'd harbored the pain of Malfoy's betrayal since the night his life had been turned upside down. Now to hear Malfoy's genuine remorse, to see it written all over his face as his longtime friend resolved to do something truly suicidal… Harry took a deep breath as he made his decision.
"Malfoy, you didn't kill Potter," Harry dropped his hood, letting his old friend get a good look at his messy black hair. "I'm right here."
Assistant United States Attorney Patil frowned down at her notes. She looked up and addressed the informant.
"That's it? You're offering to testify against Lockhart, Zambini, Yaxley and Dursley, but you won't give us anything on Snape?"
"My client has told you what he knows," Ginny intervened. She didn't believe that was strictly true, but she did believe Malfoy had said all that he was willing to say. She rather wanted to ask Patil and Hopkirk to leave the room so she could speak privately to Malfoy, but she sensed it wouldn't do any good. She eyed the vigilante and the blogger sitting off in a corner of the room with suspicion. She hated being left out of the loop.
"And you can't tell us anything about Chess?" Hopkirk asked Malfoy. Once again, his lawyer answered for him.
"He's not here to offer you evidence against a dead man," Ginny's voice was like ice, "and I'll thank you to leave my late husband out of this."
The Cape suppressed a wince. Did Ginny really believe he'd been Chess? Surely not; he'd have to talk with her sometime… But he didn't know when he'd have the chance. Malfoy had appeared to be his best shot at clearing his name and yet he'd persuaded the former chief of police to keep Snape's secrets as well as his. Malfoy might be the one going to prison, but right now Harry didn't feel too free, either. He pulled his hood lower over his face, wondering how long he'd have to remain a fugitive.
"I'll have to call my boss," Patil said, at last when Malfoy didn't contradict Ginny.
"Not from here!" Harry interjected. "Every cell phone acts as a tracking device!"
"Yeah, yeah, Julia warned me earlier," Patil replied, narrowing her eyes at the vigilante. He and Julia had been very vague about who would track them down. "Maybe you should be the one turning confidential informant. You obviously know more than he's telling us."
"I wish it were as simple as you make it sound," the hero replied.
"Shall we discuss guidelines?" Ginny asked, referring to the federal sentencing guidelines that the judge would take into consideration when deciding Malfoy's fate.
"We can if you like," Patil answered, "though you know as well as I do that the judge will have to do her own calculation of the applicable guidelines."
"Right," she did know that; she was licensed in the Southern District of Franklin, even though she'd only had state cases lately. "I meant shall we discuss what charges Malfoy will be pleading guilty to?"
"Does it matter?" Malfoy scoffed, before Ginny could shush him. "I'm going to be in a cage for a long time to come, aren't I?"
"Malfoy," Ginny gritted her teeth. "Do me a favor, shut up, and let me do my job."
After the proffer session, Patil and Hopkirk had left Hagrid's to go and call the U.S. Attorney to sign off on the proposed plea bargain. They'd returned early in the morning with the agreement for Malfoy to sign, and a number of very big, very armed F.B.I. agents, but not before the agents had arrested Gilderoy Lockhart.
A message was swiftly sent, courtesy of Orwell Is Watching, to ARK, letting Snape know that federal agents were on their way with Malfoy out of Palm City. Attached was the rundown of who Malfoy was to testify against and, by extension, who he wasn't. Snape quickly dismissed the idea of warning his men that they were being targeted. They and Lockhart were expendable, just as Malfoy had been.
Malfoy wouldn't be sentenced for a few months, yet, but he'd be doing some serious time in federal prison, that was clear. If Orwell was to be believed, Draco had no intention of testifying against him. Very well, Snape could live with that, or, to be more accurate, he could allow Malfoy to live.
"Can I interest you in some snake wine?" Moody offered Potter. The feds had gotten Malfoy and his family safely out of Palm City. Snape had seemed content, at his latest press conference, to rail against Goldilocks and this new threat that the public had just been made aware of—the Cape.
"Snake wine?" Harry repeated, staring at Moody. He shook his head vigorously. "No, thanks. Don't you have something a little more normal, like, I don't know, whiskey?"
"If that's what you'd prefer," Moody obligingly poured Harry the requested drink, "though an old friend of mine said snake wine was sure to make the drinker immortal."
"I see. And did this friend of yours survive an explosion, an attempted drowning, being poisoned, falling out of a penthouse window, or having two world-renown assassins sent after him?"
"Got me there," Moody conceded. "What shall we drink to?" he asked, holding up his flask.
"I don't know. I suppose to Malfoy—for not turning out to be such a bastard after all."
"And to the Cape," Moody added, "for being something different, maybe exactly what this city needs."
"Cheers," Harry raised his shot glass.
Author's Note: I know, I know. Loose ends, right? But I refer you to whatever other fics in the fandom you'd care to look at, and specifically to my latest crossover, "Black Bird; Green Arrow."
Thanks to dem bones for reviewing! And thanks again to those who have added the story to your list of alerts/favorites!
Chapter title, since I couldn't remember the names of the final segments of the episode anyway, is from the La Roux song, "Bulletproof."
Chapter not beta'd. Quibble away.