Chapter 7 : Tied Up
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The small room bathed in the rays of the setting sun; it was the last hot days of autumn. The slightly open window of the Slytherin Head Boy room let in a breeze of fresh air, and even though its cooling effect was non-existent, it gave an illusion to the two people sitting on the floor, holding each other’s hands, that they could actually do something about the wet hot stickiness of their situation.
Hermione held her quill lightly, tickling her cheek with its feathery end. She was deep in thought.
Why had he said it? It couldn’t be true, could it?
She glanced at him.
Gasping for breath, she watched as Draco brushed his white-blond hair back behind his ear, letting his long fingers linger on the back of his neck a moment too long. It was as though he was unconsciously trying to seduce her.
What had he meant with it?
There was something transfixing about the way he bit his lower lip from the inside as he concentrated on the highly difficult Transfiguration essay McGonagall had sent them earlier that day.
He was sitting on her left, their united hands resting between them. Parchments, books, ink bottles and quills were lying messily in front of them, giving out the fact that they had been studying for quite a while now.
She was so close to him she could actually smell him. The mystical scent of a Slytherin Head Boy. It was something between clean sheets dried in the wind and needles of fir on a sunny day. He smelt clean and summery. She wanted to lean on him and take a deep breath.
Blood traitor was so much more than two words put together. It meant that she was a real person to him. Didn’t it? Why did it even matter?
She sighed heavily and in vain, turned back to her own essay. He was just too damn distracting.
He moved his right hand almost unnoticeably. His arm was now touching hers from elbow to fingertips, and the warmth of his skin made her feel light-headed and weak. It was unbelievable how sensitive her own skin had become; she could feel his skin even through his shirt. She wished she hadn’t rolled up her own sleeves - or abandoned her robes. She felt naked in her white shirt and short Scott-print skirt.
Most of all, she wasn’t quite sure if his actions were entirely unintentional.
She tried to breathe steadily, keep her calm; she tried very hard to ignore the butterflies flapping frantically inside her stomach. She didn’t want him to know the effect he had on her.
As he leaned further down on his parchment, she let her eyes roam over him freely, marvelling, questioning, wanting. He wasn’t wearing his robes either, so she got the rare opportunity to see him as he was at home.
The white shirt with frilly sleeve ends made him look a bit like a pirate, and the black trousers complemented his lean figure. He looked nothing like the Draco Malfoy she had known for so long. He was at ease. He was relaxed. He was calm.
How dare he be so calm while she was almost shaking just because he had … kidnapped her arm? The brute.
‘You’re the worst … making me a blood traitor.’
She leaned closer to him and blew lightly in his ear; blindly following the need to distract him, puzzle him. “Stop teasing me, Drrraco.” She whispered the other words, but his name she purred, very deliberately.
The movement of his quill on the parchment never stopped, but he shifted his arm ever so slightly so it wasn’t touching hers anymore. There was no other hint that he had even heard her words.
She felt like a fool.
What if it hadn’t been intentional? Was he laughing at her now, thinking that she was an arrogant little girl who had no idea what was actually going on.
She pretended to check something from her textbook, hoping that she looked as casual as he did. She started writing again, trusting her ability to do homework under any circumstance. Nothing could stop Hermione Granger from studying.
Except his voice.
“Do you have the copy of Advanced Transfiguration?” He sounded so indifferent, and it made her feel … unimportant. She sighed and was just about to answer when he reached for the said book on her right.
He was mere inches away from her.
He froze, looking into her eyes, swallowing hard. That had been a mistake. The potion was still inside them, working desperately against the pairing magic and making it fight back with every means necessary. Now, one of those means had activated.
He tried to move, tried to push his body away from her but couldn’t.
She held her breath, eyes widening in realisation.
“I’m … don’t do anything. It will go away.” He tried to sound rational, but all he could think of were her lips, slightly parted, wet, inviting. He leaned closer, feeling her warmth, tasting her fear.
Her thoughts were scrambling; she was losing herself. She closed her eyes, hoping that he would vanish. If she just willed him to go away, maybe … it was a childish thought.
When he spoke again, she could feel his breath on her cheek. “Move. Get away from me.”
Her voice betrayed her, and she just shook her head, thinking desperately, I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.
They were losing the battle.
Then suddenly, the whole castle shook as a loud BOOM echoed through the halls and grounds of Hogwarts. It startled them both, turning their attention to the open window - their eye to the outside world.
Despite the commotion, Draco felt a ridiculous urge to ask her, “Did you feel the Earth move?” but managed to swallow the words just in time. What a stupid thing to ask.
They stood up hastily and darted towards the window. Draco climbed on the desk and motioned her to follow him as he opened the window further and leaned out of it, trying to see what was going on.
At first he could see nothing, but then, behind the clouds emerged the all too familiar green Dark Mark. Morsmordre. He tasted the word on his tongue, and it was more sour than he remembered. It was impossible; they couldn’t be…
“What is it?” She sounded frightened. She must have guessed.
He jumped off the desk, pulling her with him, and took the first two steps towards the door when he felt her hesitation. She had stopped him, their connected hands stretched between them.
“What?” he lashed at her, eyes narrowing dangerously.
She shook her head, trying to collect herself enough to speak again. Finally, she managed to blurt out, “The separation process. It’s not over yet.”
If possible, he looked more frightening than a second ago and said venomously, “I have to go. I don’t trust your precious Headmaster; he doesn’t care about Slytherins.”
Hermione just stared at him for a moment, blinking in dismay. “Of course he cares.” She felt like she was stating the obvious, but to Draco it seemed to be far from the truth. Why did he think that way? “We have to find out if we can go out safely. It won’t help anyone if we rush to our deaths.”
“You know what that sign means. They are here and they’re going to kill whoever gets in their way.” He was standing defiantly in front of her, head tilted to the left, clearly thinking if he could just knock her out and carry her with him.
“Why are you so eager to get to the rescue? You’re practically family to those … bastards. You’ve nothing to worry about and neither have any of the other Slytherins.” She was shaking with fury. He was being a hypocrite.
Draco didn’t answer immediately.
There was something very disturbing in the way he looked at her; it felt as though she was a mere animal to him. How did that happen? Just moments ago he had looked at her like she was the most exciting thing he’d ever seen. How could it all change so fast?
“What do you suggest we do then?” Draco snarled. “Stand here and do nothing? Shrivel up and die? Are you that scared, little Gryffindor?”
His words stabbed her sharply. She was as eager to get out of the room as he was. She wanted to run to her friends, help the others to get the first and second years to safety. She wanted to ready herself for the upcoming fight.
But the potion was a threat she wasn’t going to take lightly. Too many times she had rushed in when she should have questioned. She wouldn’t let an overgrown child cloud her judgement.
“First, take that big ugly foot out of your mouth and stop acting like a spoiled brat,” she shot back, a pleasurable feeling swelling inside her as she watched his face turn paler and his mouth thinner. “And then we can contact Dumbledore. Where did I put that ball?” She went to find her book bag, Draco following her reluctantly.
He was counting to one hundred. He was so close to letting go of her. He didn’t want to hold her hand. He didn’t want to be near her.
While she was kneeling on the ground, rummaging through her bag, he imagined dropping a heavy object on her head. He could do that, couldn’t he? That stupid spell wouldn’t stop him? He didn’t know, but he could try.
He put his left hand’s forefinger into his mouth and pulled a ring off the finger and spat it out on his palm. He dropped it on Hermione’s head, and it really did hit her, making her look up and shoot an angry glare at him. “What the bloody hell was that?” she demanded, face reddening in frustration.
He grinned but said nothing, waving his free hand, urging her to continue. A suspicious look on her face, she returned back to her bag and continued to search for the Connector.
So, he could hurt her. His eyes scanned the room, looking for a suitable object to drop on her. He couldn’t find anything – except his copy of Hogwarts, A History. Oh, the irony of it, heavy literature really was life threatening. He smirked maniacally, reaching for the book on the shelf, when Hermione suddenly stood up, almost colliding with his hand, and gleefully turned to face him, holding the transparent ball.
She was just about to say, “Found it,” when she noticed the expression on his face. She gaped at him, opening and closing her mouth like a fish out of water, and then she frowned at him, quiet questions flashing in her eyes. Why did he look so … evil?
“What?” they both said at the same time, Draco sounding menacing and Hermione dubious. He was definitely up to something. She felt mortified; he was being so horrible to her even after all they’d been through. Had nothing changed between them? Hadn’t they shared life-changing thoughts, dreams and beliefs?
She looked at her feet for a moment, gathering her strength before turning to face him, looking straight to his eyes, feeling extremely betrayed. “I don’t know what you’re planning, but could you wait for a little while longer? I want to do whatever I can to save this school and all the innocent children, who have done nothing to deserve this. I can’t do that if I have to constantly watch my back because of you.” She tossed the Connector on his bed and took his left hand in hers. “Could you?”
He closed his eyes, unable to hold her penetrating gaze. She was too good to be true. He let out a breath and then confessed, “I want to see my father. That’s why…” The words got caught in his throat.
She squeezed his hands. “I know.” She paused for a second and then added quietly, “Please don’t let it hurt us.”
All the things she said were too much. How did she always know what to say? He tried to keep his face expressionless, tried to suffocate the tears behind his eyelids. He would not let himself be weak in front of her. She had already seen too much.
“I won’t. I’ll be a good boy.” Draco smiled slightly, and when the tears finally promised to stay away, he opened his eyes. “Let’s get started then. We’ve wasted too much time already.”
Hermione nodded, released his left hand and took the Connector from the bed. “You have to help me,” she told him. “Turn it four times clockwise on my palm, anti-clockwise from your perspective, of course.”
He did that.
She dropped the ball, and near the floor it started to hover like the first time she had used it. It rose up until it was level with her eyes and then, she drew the same weird letter or a picture in front it as Draco had seen earlier. He had been too tired and too shocked to be curious then but now, he had to admit it, he was interested to know how the thing worked and further more, what it was.
“What did you just do? What’s that thing? Why haven’t I seen those before?”
“It’s one of Dumbledore’s inventions. These work only in the school area… oh, look it’s him.” She pulled Draco in front of the floating ball so they could both see and hear everything clearly.
“Professor Dumbledore…” she greeted. He was walking quickly through a corridor - to Hermione it looked like the second floor.
Dumbledore smiled at her but the smile didn’t reach his eyes. “I’ve been waiting for you to call. Amadeus is coming to get you. Wait for him. He will give you instructions. Everyone is safe at the moment, but the castle is under siege.” He stumbled, and for a short moment he was too distracted to talk. Hermione held her breath, afraid that someone might have attacked him, but there was no one in sight. Soon he continued, his voice urgent, “And one other thing, do not use any of Amadeus’ teachings. It’s very important. They mustn’t know. Only – ”
There was a knock at the door.
Dumbledore waved at them. “Go. Let him in. Be safe.” With these words he disappeared.
They looked at each other in confusion, and then went to let Amadeus in. Just as Draco was about to open the door, Hermione grabbed his arm. “How do we know it’s him?”
“We don’t.” He took his wand from his belt and Hermione followed his lead. “Do you trust me?” he asked, questioning if she would let him be the one to stand wand at the ready as she opened the door. She nodded and reached for the doorknob. Hesitantly she opened the heavy wooden door.
The very stretchy and slightly transparent Amadeus walked into the room without a word. He was wearing dark-green robes and his long black hair hung loosely on his shoulders.
Draco lowered his wand.
Hermione wasn’t sure how to address Amadeus outside a classroom; and even then it was a problem. She had sometimes wondered with Ron and Harry why he went by his first name and had no ‘professor’ attached to his name. It was a bit strange.
“Sir, what should we do?” she asked finally, deciding to be at least polite.
Amadeus eyed her from head to toe, making her feel like a lowly bug under a magnifying glass. He didn’t seem to be at all pleased to see her.
It made her realise that he probably disliked them both for being too weak to handle the pairing magic. That would also explain the two essays they had received that morning, both of which were due tomorrow. The war probably wasn’t a good enough reason to be late.
Finally he nodded to them in acknowledgement, and then went straight to the point.
“This has never been done before,” he said, taking something out of his pocket and putting it behind his ear. “I was not willing to take the risk earlier, but now we have very little choice.”
Amadeus sniffed the air, as though scenting something, and then suddenly moved so fast, neither of them had a chance to react. He struck his hands through them, grabbing something inside of them, struggling to keep hold of whatever it was he had leashed. He pulled something out, something shining, colourful, beautiful. Both Draco and Hermione were gasping for breath; it hurt, it ate them alive. It was nearly impossible to hold in a scream.
“I have only the knowledge, and there is always a possibility that even parts of it have faded from the memories of our ancestors.” With a mischievous grin he added, “Hopefully none of the important parts.”
He grabbed the ends of both souls with his left hand, took the oblong object from behind his ear, and tied their souls around it. “This should hold you together even if you walk among other people.” He let go of them and took a step back, admiring his handiwork.
Recovering from the shock, Draco reacted first, pushing Amadeus with his left hand, yelling, “What the bloody hell was that? Who the hell are you? I gave you no permission… Who are you?” He swallowed hard as he realised that he had just attacked a teacher. But he wasn’t going to take back his words; they had the right to know.
Amadeus lowered his head, letting his hair fall on his face.
All light fled to the far ends of the room, leaving them standing in the red hot darkness. Shadows encircled around them like living creatures, and hungry whispers could be heard everywhere. With each breath Amadeus took, the room kept shrinking and widening, breathing as one with its master.
Hermione tried to calm herself. He was their teacher. He wouldn’t hurt them. But no amount of reasoning could hide the uneasiness, the fear she felt in her heart. The man in front of them seemed as crazy as Voldemort’s followers. She wanted to flee, and was about to signal Draco to follow her, when the light returned, and Amadeus collapsed on his knees.
Hermione wanted to go to him but Draco held her tight.
Amadeus’ voice was raspy when he spoke - raspy and very tired. “Please go now. Help Dumbledore and the others. Don’t use anything I’ve taught you, and if you start feeling dizzy or if either of you feel like melting to the other, leave everyone and find a place where you can gather your own thoughts and separate yourselves from one another.”
“But, Sir…” Hermione tried to object.
“Ffwl,” he muttered. “Just a moment ago you were ready to flee. Do that. They need you.” He lowered his fists to the ground and rested his weight on his hands. “Run!”
She still hesitated but Draco didn’t. He ran to the door, forcing her to follow him. She watched in despair as Amadeus shook uncontrollably. What was happening to him?
“We can’t leave him,” she pleaded just as they walked out of the door.
“You heard him.” He paused for a moment, pondering. “Besides, he’s crazy. The man has power, but he clearly can’t control it. I don’t want to be near him if he decides to lose his grip.”
“How can you be so cruel and selfish…” It wasn’t a question, just a statement. She had a hard time understanding the boy walking ahead of her. “You know nothing about him.”
“And you do?”
They were running down the stairs. Draco was leading her to the dungeons.
“Well, Dumbledore told me some things,” she said vaguely.
Draco tried to bite his tongue, but couldn’t help asking, “What things?” He was interested to know who Amadeus was. He was far too powerful to be so young. He wanted to know how that was possible.
She let the silence grow between them. He was so eager to know, so willing to listen. It intrigued her that he was so interested in something, and needed her to get the knowledge. She smiled evilly. “He’s a Celt, even though his name is of German origin. He can’t leave his homelands entirely, and that’s why he’s a mere shadow of himself when he travels in other places. Amadeus is some kind of an heir … that part Dumbledore didn’t explain too well and neither the reason why he’s here…” She let her voice fade off.
Soon the only sounds were their rhythmic footsteps on the stone floor, and their ragged breathing, echoing off the walls. It was strange how quiet the castle could be while under an attack. Did ‘quiet before storm’ mean this?
“What did he do to us?” Draco finally asked, breathless.
Breathing rapidly, Hermione answered, “Tied us together, I think.”
She was starting to feel scared. Now she could hear people screaming. It was terrible to know that the War was raging close to home. It wasn’t somewhere far; it wasn’t about nameless, faceless people. It was about everyone she knew. People were going to die. Harry could die. Ron could die.
Draco could die.
Please don’t let them die.
She squeezed his hand, begging silently for him to stop, asking him to acknowledge her distress.
Why did she even care what happened to him? He was very unpredictable. He was still unreliable, still walking the dark path. Why did she care?
He slowed down and started walking stealthily along the corridor. They could hear small explosions everywhere. How many Death Eaters were there? Was Lord Voldemort himself with them? Hermione just wished that all the smaller children were safe. It was their duty as Head Boy and Girl to confirm that all the first and second years were guided to the shelters in the dungeons.
Suddenly Draco stopped on his tracks and pulled her against the wall. There were footsteps, lots of them, hurrying in their direction.
Hermione felt her heart in her throat. It was impossible to think about anything except the closing people, the sounds of their feet, the eagerness of their movements… she closed her eyes tight, praying for it all to be a dream. But was it ever?
“No, you can’t stay with us. No, this is not a drill. And no, Harry is not going to hold your hands just because you’re scared.” It was an annoyed voice, but to Hermione it was sweet music. She jumped behind the corner and ran to Ron, hugging him fiercely, repeating, “Thank god you’re safe. Thank god you’re safe.”
There were two very confused boys at both ends of her hands.
She released Ron and turned to Harry next, grabbed him by the front of his robes, pulled him close and kissed his cheek, making him blush heavily. “Nice to see you too,” he managed to stutter.
Finally she noticed that there were quite a few small heads, staring at them curiously; one of them had wide green-blue eyes and blond pigtails. She stared at Hermione for a second and then said with a high, carrying voice, “Are they your boyfriends? How come you have so many?”
All the small heads were now turned to her.
She ignored the question the best she could and let her eyes search through the group of children. There were all the colours of the Houses.
“We’ve got everyone. Even Slytherins, although Pansy wasn’t that keen on letting them in our care. She bit me.” Ron shoved his hand in Hermione’s direction and she noticed that it really had fresh, nasty-looking bite marks. “I hate that bi-”
“Ron,” she said in a warning tone and nodded to the direction of the children. He fell silent, but muttered something about evil Slytherins.
“That’s probably the closest you’ll ever get to a living girl.”
All heads turned to the blond boy, standing beside Hermione, holding her hand. There were whispers in the crowd, “Is he her boyfriend?”
Ron seemed to notice him for the first time, and turned furiously red when he noticed their interlocked hands. “What the bloody hell are you doing here?” He still had enough common sense to keep his voice down, but there was no question about the state of his mind. He was barking mad. “And what is that?” He pointed at their hands.
Hermione didn’t have time to answer, before Draco lifted their hands and said, “Oh this? It’s magic.”
Harry took hold of Ron, and Hermione punched Draco in the arm. “Shut up, you idiot.” She turned to look at her two best friends, one of whom was taking dangerously short breaths and slowly turning a bright shade of maroon and the other, looking at her accusingly. “This isn’t what it looks like,” she started, sounding stupid even to her own ears.
“No, this is definitely way beyond,” Draco commented yet again, before she had the chance to continue.
She shot him an evil glare that promised torture and eternal hell if he wouldn’t keep quiet. He shrugged and motioned her to continue her explanation.
All the while, the small heads were following their conversation like a highly interesting Quidditch match.
She breathed in and murmured desperately, “We’re trying to …well, it’s … I mean, Amadeus suggested this.” The horrified looks on the boys’ faces made her realise what she had just said. She tried to repair the damage by adding, “It’s for our own good.”
Draco grinned but said nothing. She would have to deal with it herself.
“I mean, we’re being separated. No more magic together.” She just couldn’t understand how all the wrong words kept coming out of her mouth. What was happening to her? “Stop looking at me like that. Nothing’s going on. This’ll be over soon. And besides we have to go. We’ve stayed here far too long already.”
Harry eyed Draco for a second and then asked, “Which side are you on?”
It took him by surprise. He really hadn’t expected for them to question his loyalties. It wasn’t a thing you did among enemies. “Honestly?”
Harry nodded, and the whole room went quiet. At least two hundred pairs of eyes were focused on him, even Hermione’s.
“I don’t know.”
There was a long moment in the corridor in which no one blinked or let out a sound. It seemed to go on forever.
Draco stayed completely calm the whole time he was watched.
“I can live with that,” Harry said finally, releasing Ron and then grabbing his elbow when he tried to launch at Draco again. “We have to go. Are you coming with us or d’you have other plans?”
“You have my plans with you.” Draco waved his hand above the group of Slytherins, slightly separated from the others.
“Good. Then let’s go.” Harry started to lead the group to the specially made magic proof shelters.
A/N: I'm terribly sorry it took me so long to update!!
By the way, Ffwl is Welsh and means Fool!
I want to thank FaymosAmos for editing this with me and for making me laugh and enjoy my own work.
And Jembo, you I want to thank so very much. You saved me from my evil Writer's Block. It really did some nasty hunting and destroyed half of my plotbunnies ... thanks to you, this story is on the safe side now.
And now finally, this chapter has been betaed by the lovely, adorable and kind Arithmancy Wiz! Thank you, dear. ^_^
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