When the ministry had announced his pardon, Draco had hardly hoped that they would find a place for him. At most, he had thought that they would give him something remedial to do, like rolling scrolls for the rest of his life. To be honest, he would have been happy to even have gotten that...but a dragon handler? His mind was swimming with the possibilities. In the wake of the war, most of his previous friends had either been found dead, or he suspected were in hiding with their death eater parents, running from the aurors. With an internship like this, he had a real shot at a new life, and a new reputation, separate from his father's identity.
In an effort to help said reputation in the wake of the war, being the sole Malfoy to have survived it, Draco turned over Malfoy Manor and its contents to the ministry, and the library alone had been of great use to them for breaking dark curses. All he'd kept of the Malfoy fortunes was enough to put himself in a small London flat and keep himself alive, the rest had gone to various charities.
He turned over and cast a lumos, squinting at the tiny clock on the opposite wall. He sighed and turned back over, it was 6 am, he might as well get up now. After all, he wanted to make certain he was completely packed, and needed to shower, eat, and make himself look presentable before going to see the minister. Draco sat up and rubbed his eyes, breathing deeply, and began to ready himself for a new day, and a new life.
Walking into the Ministry of Magic for the first time since he'd been to see his father sentenced proved to be much more daunting than Draco expected. The large, cavernous entraceway seemed emptier than before, the ministry only keeping a skeleton crew, freeing others to help out with the restoration of their homes and towns. It took him much longer than he expected to find the minister's office, having to reroute around the rebuilding and without the aid of the portraits, who had all since been relocated until the ministry was fully restored to normal.
Climbing up what he hoped was the last flight of stairs, Draco entered into a large open waiting area, empty save for a small, harried looking woman sitting at a desk that was so large it made her seem childlike. Draco stood awkwardly in the center of the room watching her shuffle around the papers on her desk, mumbling to herself for a few minutes, before deciding to make his presence known. He took a few steps forward and coughed slightly, flashing his most friendly smile at the woman.
She looked up abruptly, clearly startled and agitated by his presence. Her scowl softened a bit when she caught his smile and she jerked her head towards a large wooden door.
"Minister's in and expecting you, go on inside Mr. Malfoy."
Draco nodded politely and fought the urge to bound over to the door, his excitement thrumming in his veins as he took a deep breath and knocked.
A deep, familiar voice boomed out for him to enter.
He leaned against the heavy door and it creaked open slowly, belying its age, and he was no sooner in the door than he found himself being clapped a little to strongly on the back.
"Mr. Malfoy, dare I say it has been far too long?"
Draco smiled hesitantly, "It's good to see they have someone sane running the ministry, Professor Moody"
Moody laughed sharply, "boy, I haven't been your professor in ages...plus, it's Minister Moody now, no need to skimp on the formalities."
Draco laughed heartily, the tension draining from his bones with every passing second. Maybe this was going to be great.
"So, Minister, if you could fill me in on my placement that would be helpful, the messenger didn't tell me much."
Moody motioned for Draco to sit, and sat himself down behind his desk in a large, tattered old chair that Draco recognized with a pang of guilt must have come from the remains of Dumbledore's office at Hogwarts.
Moody opened a folder, scanned its contents and then shut it again, clearing his throat.
"You'll be going to Romania, and apprenticing a dragon handler, as you no doubt already know. I don't know much about the place save for the fact that most of the wizards employed there are from England, and they will be providing you with food as well as lodgings. Now, a regular apprenticeship is a year, but to be frank, I had a hell of a time finding anyone to take you, boy, so this apprenticeship will last as long as your supervisor deems fitting. If you have any concerns while you're there, please send them along through my secretary and I will deal with them personally."
Draco expelled a breath he hadn't realized he was holding, smiled falteringly in an attempt to calm his nerves, and nodded. It hadn't occured to him that most of the wizards there would probably already knew who he was, and mostly through his father as well.
Moody leaned back in his chair, "It might not be much comfort to you boy, but I know the one that chose to take you on as an apprentice personally, and he's a good man. If anyone will give you a fair chance, he'd be it."
Draco nodded absently, and shook his head clear of disparaging thoughts. He would be fine.
Moody shuffled him over towards the floo grate, grabbing his bag.
"We'll be sending someone along to check on you in a week or two, Malfoy. Try not to get up to too much mischief."
Draco smiled determinedly and stepped into the grate as Moody bellowed out the name of the dragon reserve.
A few minutes later, Draco landed rather unceremoniously on his bottom in Romania and tried to stand, dusting off his robes.
Unfortunately, the floo network had a habit of making him quite dizzy, and he found standing a much more arduous task than normal.
As he struggled to get up he heard a low, rumbling chuckle from above him, and a hand appeared in front of his face to help him up. He hesitated for a second, and the voice the hand belonged to seemed to be amused by this.
"I don't bite, you know."
Draco shrugged and gratefully took the rough and calloused hand, feeling it hoist him upwards. He grabbed his bag and looked up to speak.
The thank you he was preparing to say died on his tongue and his mouth fell open, gaping like a stunned house-elf.
"You're a Weasley, aren't you?"
It took Draco a second to realize that it was he who had said it, and he blushed furiously.
Charlie just laughed loudly and stuck out his hand. "That obvious, is it? I'm Charlie Weasley, i'll be training you."
Draco grabbed his hand firmly and, regaining a bit of his senses, shook it. "Draco Malfoy, thank you for taking me as an apprentice."
Charlie smiled brightly, and turned around, still holding Draco's hand. "Come on, I'll show you where we live, and then introduce you to the rest of the guys."
The firm hold Charlie had on his hand shot small sparks up Draco's arm, and he tuned out anything else Charlie might have said. It wasn't common knowledge that Draco Malfoy's sexual preferences ran in a less than straight direction, and he allowed himself to be led to the barracks, revelling in the feeling of Charlie's strong hand on his more delicate one.
This could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened.