Chapter 2 – Consequences

Hello everyone! Wow! More than 10 reviews overnight! Thank you =D So, this chapter...well, there's not really much to say, except that the exciting stuff will be coming soon. Patience!

So...enjoy!

Harry and Hermione arrived at the Ministry by themselves, having sent the other Aurors ahead of them and using one of their portkies to have Draco transferred to a holding cell at the Ministry. The commotion when they arrived however was far from expected. Clearly someone had leaked the news of a new group of "Death Eaters", and the press were all over it in an instant.

"Mr Potter! Could we have - "

"Miss Granger, you are a delightful - "

"Is it true that Draco Mal - "

"Are the Wizarding World in - "

"How will the Ministry - "

"Two notorious leaders? The - "

"A tip-off led to - "

"Can we have a stateme - "

However, only one reporter had the audacity to actually approach the pair, and Hermione found herself being gripped viciously tightly by the arm and face-to-face with none other than Rita Skeeter herself.

"Still in the business, are we?" she spat, jerking her arm away from the despicable woman.

"Hermione." Harry said warningly, having fought his way back through the throng to rescue her.

"Now, now," Skeeter began, nauseatingly patronisingly, "I have no need to swarm over the trivial news of some new rebel group like the rest of these people." She dismissed the matter with a wave of her hand. "No, I've had a tasty piece of information about you," she pointed to Hermione, "and you," she giggled, and flirtatiously stroked Harry's arm, much to his disgust, "having a juicy love-affair. Now what can you tell me - "

"FOR THE LOVE OF MERLIN!" Hermione screeched, but Skeeter was saved from being on the receiving end of one of her lectures by none other than the Minister of Magic himself.

"LADIES, AND GENTLEMEN." Kingsley Shacklebolt's voice resonated throughout the foyer, and it was almost difficult to tell whether he'd actually used "Sonorus" on himself or not. "The Ministry will be releasing a statement about this issue shortly, but at the moment we should be obliged if you were to remove your presence," he phrased this politely, but his disgust was evident, "from our building." He paused. "Or further measures will have to be insured." He spoke authoritatively, therefore reporters slowly began to disperse, muttering amongst themselves furiously.

"Mr Potter, Miss Granger, we don't we head up to my office where we can have some more privacy?" and he began to steer them away to safety.

ooooo

When Kingsley had pushed open the door, however, Hermione was not prepared for the sight beyond. Quickly, she whipped out her wand and shot a full body-bind curse at Malfoy, who had been casually leaning against a chair and picking at his nails. He toppled to the floor, as Hermione ran forward to tower over him. The rage was evident in his eyes; if looks could kill, Hermione would've been lying dead on the floor beside him.

"Hermione!" Kingsley hurried forward, using her first name now that they were in private. "I had Mr Malfoy brought up here – he is of no threat to us. Remove the curse at once!"

She blushed furiously. The fact that Kingsley wore an amused smile which he was trying – and failing – to conceal only made the situation worse. She quickly muttered the counter-curse, and her embarrassment increased as she realised that Draco's wrists were circled by two rings of a green-tinted light. She knew all too well that he could move freely, but couldn't perform any magic as long as the Ministry maintained the "magical cuffs" there.

"Mr Malfoy," Kingsley began as he helped Draco to his feet, "has already been charmed. And he was searched on arrival: his wand has already been confiscated, we presume, by the Lestrange brothers." He motioned for Draco to sit down opposite his side of the desk. When he refused with a slight rebellious smirk, Kingsley only had to raise an eyebrow before he quickly sat down, defeated.

The Minister turned to Harry and Hermione. "I must congratulate the pair of you on your achievement. Particularly you, Harry." He smiled, fondly. "You led the team wonderfully. I will be speaking to you later about the case, however at the moment, we have more pressing issues. I've already been filled in about what happened by some of the other Aurors, and Mr Malfoy's situation is…unique to say the least."

"You can say that again." Harry muttered, shooting a warning glare in Draco's direction. Clearly their previous school-rivalry had escalated in the two years following Voldemort's defeat.

Kingsley cleared his throat. "I've decided that we'll be using Veritaserum on Mr Malfoy - "

"I should think that - " Draco had begun to protest, but a quick silencing charm from Harry allowed them to continue their conversation.

"As I was saying, we will be using Veritaserum on Mr Malfoy, as we have done on the other "rebels" in the holding cells downstairs."

Draco continued his silent tirade.

"Once the interview is over, I will explain the purpose of having the pair of you present for this – and myself, actually."

Hermione quickly raised her hand, staring at Kingsley. At his quizzical look, she realised that she wasn't in school anymore: clearly Hogwarts had left her with some peculiar habits. She slowly lowered her hand, her sheepish expression making Kingsley let out a deep, rich laugh – despite the tense atmosphere.

Draco smirked.

"I was just wondering why we were having this procedure up here, Minister?" she asked, ever the curious one.

"I will explain that, Hermione." Kingsley started, "Once we're in more…private circumstances." He nodded at Draco with no hint of subtlety.

"I see."

"Shall we begin?"

ooooo

The interview passed in a blur which Hermione found difficult to recall, and when she checked her watch after Harry had left to "escort" Draco to a more secure area, she found to her evident shock that they had been throwing a series of questions at the former Slytherin for more than three hours. She suppressed a yawn, shaking her head to remove the image of Draco blowing his fringe away from his eyes with barely concealed irritation. It hadn't been slicked back how he'd styled it for so many years at school. She found the sight unnerving; mainly due to how much it altered his appearance.

"Hermione." Kingsley started, with no traces of exhaustion. "Take a seat."

She sat.

"I have a series of matters to discuss with you - "

"Sorry Minister, but shouldn't Harry be here?" she interrupted, hurriedly.

Kingsley sighed. "Harry is already aware of the situation, being in charge of this project. You may not be aware of this, but we do have a system of order in use – though I have only just made this decision, Harry has already been informed of it, and agreed to my terms. The wonders of magic, Miss Granger."

"I see. Please do continue." She swallowed, and sat down after his ominous warning.

"I have a favour to ask of you. Actually, it is not so much a favour, but should you deny this, then I'm afraid…your status as an Auror will have to be removed."

"Removed?! But…why? I don't understand! That's so drastic…I…"

"It's complicated. I'm sure you're aware of the Zabini Movement."

"I am. Blaise Zabini, former Slytherin at Hogwarts, son of a seven-time widow. Turned dark after the defeat of Voldemort, and soon after began a series of killing sprees," she hesitated, "of muggles, muggle-borns and "blood traitors". Currently one of the most sought-after Wizards in England." She recited.

"Very impressive, as always."

Hermione smiled at the praise.

"Due to the Zabini Movement, we are suffering a drastic loss of Aurors, as we have vast numbers of them posted all over England and currently dedicating a huge amount of time and effort to finding Zabini."

"I see…"

"From the interview we have conducted, I'm sure you can tell that Mr Malfoy is innocent. "

"Innocent!" She spluttered, "He's hardly innocent! Dumbledore! Need I say more?!"

"In regards to the Lestrange brothers' scheme, he was innocent and forced to partake."

"Fine." She sighed.

"Hermione, as I'm sure you understand, Mr Malfoy is in great danger right now. He is probably being hunted down as we speak, and Rodolphus in particular is a vengeful character. I can only imagine what would happen if he were to get hold of Mr Malfoy once more."

"Yes. I understand."

"But not only is he in danger, but he is danger himself. The bonds we had to use to prevent him from using magic were more extreme than you could imagine, and he has access to some of the powers of the darkest witches and wizards currently alive. Including Rodolphus and Rabastan."

"Merlin. That's dangerous, Minister."

"Indeed. And due to this, we have to keep him away from the Ministry. It is far too obvious to have him held here, and if we did, we could be subject to uncountable attacks. Moreover, Mr Malfoy would be in danger. Now, we cannot keep him in Azkaban, and though we could easily move him to a secluded location, we cannot only have him guarded. He needs to be protected too."

"That makes sense." She sighed.

"Hermione, our lack of Aurors means there is only one person who qualifies for this position."

Her eyes widened. "No! You don't mean… I can't! What about Harry?!" she cried out, desperately.

"Harry is in charge of more than one operation already. But he is also involved in this. I propose that you, Harry, and Mr Malfoy are re-located to a secure location, which no-one except for myself will know about. You will be free to do as you please, and will not be locked away, but one of you must always stay close to Mr Malfoy. He, of course, will be able to use no magic whatsoever."

Hermione slumped in her seat. "For how long? When?"

"Until this situation is resolved. I cannot say. And as to when you should be leaving…your things will be sent to you. Now, Hermione."

She gasped. "I can't do this!"

Kingsley shook his head sadly. "I'm sorry. I wish there was another way, but you know what the consequences are if you refuse."

Moments passed in silence, before Hermione slowly stood up, more determined than ever.

"I guess I'll be moving in with Malfoy, then."

*GASP*

Yep, two enemies stuck in a house together...now I wonder where that'll lead? =P

Well, since we're already doing so well for reviews, I'm going to be greedy and ask for 15 for an update. Okay, well that's not the real reason. The truth is that I can't write fast enough to keep up with posting every day at 10 reviews - so yeah. At 25 reviews (okay, that's 13 reviews, not 15, but still =P I like round numbers...) I'll update.

Thank you all for your support!

Tris xx