A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
Hermione held Draco in her arms for what seemed like hours, crying until she could cry no more and her tears dried salty and bitter on her face, but when she lifted her face from the hollow of his neck and her gaze drifted over to the large tower clock adjacent to the Manor she realized with a start that it was only ten past eight. She had only been weeping for a little over half-an-hour.
Hermione returned her gaze to Draco’s face, innocent and kind in death as it had not been in life, and a sad smile flitted across her face before she straightened her shoulders, lifted her chin defiantly, and gathered herself up. Draco slumped back down to the ground, his head rolling around sickly on the ground before stilling. Hermione stared at him, her gaze inscrutable, for a few moments before raising her wand hand a shooting two twinkling, bright red sparks into the air. They hovered for a minute or two about thirty or so feet above her head, then suddenly collapsed, began to swirl around, and exploded into nothingness. Hermione slid her eyes from where the sparks had been only moments before to see Draco being gathered onto a stretcher by wizards from St. Mungo’s. Their robes whipped crisply in the wind.
A man with a quill and a long piece of parchment that trailed down to the ground walked up to her, chewing on his lip. As he neared her and looked up, Hermione caught his gaze and saw that it was filled with fear, animal and instinctual. She smiled broadly, a smile that left her eyes cold and dead, and saw his eyes grow, if possible, even wider.
When he finally spoke, he was flustered.
“Hello..er..Ma’am...er...Mrs. Malfoy...ummm...Hermione?” His voice shook with each stuttered syllable.
“Yes?” Hermione answered back politely. Her eyes did not move from the man’s face, nor did her cold eyes gain warmth. In fact, if possible, the man could have sworn her eyes had hardened to match her murderous heart. For he knew what had happened, he knew what the great witch Hermione Malfoy was capable of. It took all of the strength he held in his body to repress the shudder that threatened to wrack his body. He had seen the cold white face, the blank staring eyes, of her late husband, and he knew – Avada Kedavra.
He knew but he had no proof.
“Well, er,” he began twiddling his thumbs and chewing his lip worse than ever, “hello there, my name is Mr. Scriddle and I just have a couple of questions for you about, er, your late husband’s.....unfortunate death.” He looked up at her expectantly and couldn’t suppress a slight shiver as he took in her features, still completely devoid of any emotion whatsoever. It was as if she were a robot, a humanoid of sorts.
Robot or not, Hermione would not be cowed by the stout man before her, despite the fact that he wore the fancy robes of the Ministry of Magic team responsible for the justice of the Wizard World. “Yes?” she said yet again.
Mr. Scriddle blinked heavily, caught under the spell of her flat gaze, before clearing his throat to speak once more. “What, er, do you suppose happened to Mr. Malfoy here?” he squeaked out before averting his gaze again.
“I don’t suppose anything,” Hermione replied in a razor sharp voice. She sounded brittle, breakable for the first time that day. She lowered her eyes, which filled with silent tears. Mr. Scriddle watched in amazement as the salty drops slid down her snub nose. Her voice shook when she spoke next. “I know what happened to him,” she whispered.
“What?” Mr. Scriddle was surprised to find that he too was whispering, as if speaking too loudly would shatter the young woman in front of him. She seemed to easy to break now, so thin and frail, now that her rock facade had evaporated.
But then when Hermione spoke next, her voice was loud and clear. “Heart attack.”
“Heart attack?” Mr. Scriddle was skeptical, and he let it be known.
“Yes,” Hermione whispered softly. “He always comes out to walk in the morning, at seven-thirty to be precise, to enjoy the fresh air and early morning sun. To relax, you know. I came out at around eight, to find him like this.” She looked up at Mr. Scriddle earnestly. “He’s always had heart troubles, ever since he was a baby. Maybe he forgot to take his medicine, or...I...I...” Hermione broke off into a fresh peal of sobs.
Mr. Scriddle moved in and patted her back lightly as she hiccupped. “There, there,” he said lightly. “It’s okay, if what you say is true you have nothing to worry about.”
Hermione stopped sobbing abruptly and looked up at him, her face stony once more. “What?” she said bluntly.
“Well,” Mr. Scriddle fidgeted, “we’re going to keep you here under house arrest until we know for certain that the late Mr. Malfoy over there wasn’t murdered...”
“And just how will you do that?” Hermione interrupted him sharply.
“Oh, there are ways,” Mr. Scriddle replied vaguely. “Magical procedures, certain spells...confidential, I’m sure you understand.”
“Well, anyways, we’ll just be going now. Thank you for your help.” Mr. Scriddle turned around to leave, but Hermione spoke before he had managed half a dozen steps.
“And exactly how does this house arrest thing work, then?” she asked carefully. Mr. Scriddle turned around and eyed her suspiciously, but she kept here face innocent, free of any guilt of suspicion.
“Well, I guess there’s no hurt in letting you know that,” Mr. Scriddle mumbled into his bushy moustache. He gestured at a bunch of wizards in Ministry of Magic robes who were expanding to encircle the Manor. “Some of my men will surround the Manor to ensure that you don’t escape. This particular manor, as I’m sure you know, is protected so that no one can apparate in or out.”
“I’ve noticed,” Hermione responded dryly. “Caused me a nice bit of trouble over the years.”
Mr. Scriddle gave an uneasy laugh. “Well, then.” He cleared his throat again, a habit that was beginning to royally annoy her. “ You’re free to do whatever you please as long as you don’t leave.”
Hermione thought deeply for a moment before nodding that she understood and would comply. “Okay.”
“Well, then, I must be going.” Mr. Scriddle turned around, barked a few orders, and he and the men who weren’t staying strode off the property, then apparated, Draco and his stretcher in tow.
Hermione stared at the empty air where they had disappeared for a few moments before striding back into the Manor.
Once inside, Hermione shut and locked the double French doors, all six of the locks that the Malfoy’s had installed ages ago to protect the manor from any intrusion. Hermione had always found them a nuisance, but now she was grateful for them. She didn’t want anyone uninvited to interrupt what she was about to attempt.
Hermione strode into the kitchen and collapsed into a chair, burying the palms of her hands into her eyes to make them stop watering. Any breath she took was short and stunted. She reached across the table and picked up the invitation to Hogwarts’ fifteenth reunion that she had found beside her wand. She had no where to go, nothing to do. She would soon be convicted and tried for Draco’s murder, a part of the process that she hadn’t quite anticipated.
Hermione quirked a smile. She couldn’t run forever. But at least she could have a bit of fun and say some last goodbyes before she was taken down.
Hermione fingered her wand, hoping desperately that this would work. She remembered Malfoy telling her, long ago, that the Manor was unapparatable because of the Malfoy presence: the house was connected, in sync, with its owner or owners. But now there was no Malfoy presence, no protection. Surely that must mean that the house was no longer protected, and that she was no longer barred in.
Hermione breathed in deeply, hoping desperately that her logic was correct, or the Ministry would detect her attempt to escape and would be on her in a matter of seconds. She closed her eyes tightly and envisioned the gate that closed off the Hogwarts grounds, envisioned landing right in front of it. Then, suddenly, she felt very sick, spinning around and being stretched until she thought she might puke. Oh, how she hated apparating! Then Hermione’s feet hit the ground jarringly and she opened her eyes. The gate loomed over her and the lush grounds of Hogwarts beckoned her from behind it.
“Mrs. Malfoy, you’re early.” Hermione looked around for the speaker, and it took her a while to realize that it was the gate itself talking to her, a new magic that had not been in place while she was in school. Hermione forced a smile onto her face.
“Yes, I know,” she responded lightly. “Just wanted to wander the grounds before the party, like old times you know.” She crossed her fingers that the gate had not been informed of her recent house arrest.
It hadn’t. “Of course, Mrs. Malfoy,” it responded cheerfully, opening up for her. “Come on in.”
Hermione entered. “Thank you,” she murmured, and began to walk away, but stopped. “Oh, and Mr...uhhh...gate?”
The gate chuckled. “Yes, Mrs. Malfoy?”
A smile stretched across her face. “I’m going by Miss Granger again.”