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10 Years Later by Tiny
Chapter 9 : All in Good Time
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1


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Another day passed and Hermione began to wonder if maybe Neville had been right all along.

They’d been in the dingy apartment for two days now, waiting for the crow to come back with an answer. She missed Ron and her children, and her parents. Her arms ached with the absence of her babies in them, and she wanted nothing more than to hold them. She thought vaguely that if Harry and Ron did decide to write back, she’d ask about the children, but she highly doubted that they’d write back soon. Neville suggseted that maybe they were trying to make a plan that respected her wishes not to sacrifice someone for them, but Hermione shook her head and said “The rarely listen to me when I’m not with them” and Nevile sighed, wanting to die for ever putting that thought in his friend’s head.

Neville himself missed Hogwarts. He had just become professor of Herbology when Malfoy took power, and he had enjoyed it rather immensely. Professor McGonagall had become the new Headmaster and he’d enjoyed his lunches with her, as she was his mentor. He missed the young, eager faces and most of all, he missed John, the small boy he’d come to look after. John reminded Neville so much of himself in those early years at Hogwarts- clumsy, nervous, causing a wreck everywere he went- but bright and motivated. Becoming someone’s mentor had changed him, but now he couldn’t even remember the last time he’d seen John.

Luna, who had taken over the Quibbler after her father had died, and who had become many things besides that- painter, writer, and a strong supporter  of Muggle Rights- mainly missed her pets, and just wanted to go home.

“Loony! Time for Hogan’s bath!” Amber yelled, then cackled stupidly. Luna sighed and walked over to Hogan, who was walking into the bathroom clutching a towel and a washcloth. There were tiny travel size bottles of shampoo and body wash on the sink’s counter, apparently unused by the last inhabitant of the apartment.

He closed the bathroom door after letting her scoot in. Then he embraced her, and Luna breathed “I thought she was going to make Hermione do it next”

Hogan let her go, chuckling softly. “I think she prefers you do it, seeing as you have less to do around here than Neville or Hermione” he said, and Luna smiled. He reached behind her and started the water. “Have they gotten any word from Hermione’s husband or Harry?”

Luna shook her head as Hogan undressed, leaving his boxers on, and climbed into the bath. “Not since the last time. I’m not losing hope, though. I think they’ve got something, but if I were them, I’d be doing the same thing…waiting, I mean. To give the Death Eaters false hope”

Hogan nodded from the bath and Luna knelt, dipping the washcloth into the water and starting to run it along Hogan’s back, admiring his muscles. Hogan sighed and said “Do you think that maybe…Harry or Ron or whomever this Ava person is can help me too?”

Lune nodded. “I think they can, but it’ll take longer to convince Harry” she said. “He doesn’t exactly trust Death Eaters, even if they’ve joined the good side. I’d have to write a note myself”

Hogan nodded and leaned up to kiss her. She kissed back, glad to have someone to talk to, even though she had been a very independent person and rarely needed anyone. She had started talking to him when Amber first assigned her to give him baths, trying to make her “Just like those Muggles you fancy so damn much” by giving her a common slave job. At first it was a bit dehumanizing and Hogan would treat her as if she wasn’t there, but gradually they began to talk, and then fell in love. Luna didn’t dare tell Hermione or Neville- she was afraid of their take on it, and she didn’t want to lose them as friends. So the only time she spent with Hogan was here, in the bath, or wherever they decided it was fit to give him baths. Outside of this, Hogan had to keep up appearances by taunting Luna or calling her names. It wasn’t much of a cover, as Hogan was never too harsh, but Amber seemed to buy it.

They heard a small bang and pulled apart. They listened carefully, trying to hear over the water, but nothing else was heard. They didn’t relax until they heard the sound of Amber yelling at Oy- business as usual.

“What is his real name, anyway?” Luna asked Hogan.

“His name is Brian, I believe” Hogan said, and Luna nodded. “I think I heard Amber call him that once when we were all alone and she wasn’t shouting at the top of her lungs at him”

“He has a nice name”Luna said. “Wonder where he comes from”

“I don’t know” Hogan said, and he turned and smiled at her. “I want to give you something”

Luna stared at him curiously and said “What is it?”

He pointed at his pile of clothes on the floor and said “Look in my left pant pocket”. Luna did so and pulled out his wand, which she was about to lay aside until he said “No! That’s what I want you to keep!”

Luna gaped at him, holding the wand as if it were gold. “Are you kidding me?” she asked, and Hugo almost laughed too loud. He beckoned her to come closer and she did, still staring at him.

“I want you to keep it” he said again. “The time when you’ll be rescued is coming nearer and nearer and I want you to have a wand, just in case. Hermione has made one, I have seen her hide it, but her’s won’t be enough. Please accept it”

Luna shook her head “I can’t…what if Amber?-“

“Amber will know nothing” Hogan said, smiling. “I’ll just tell her I lost it and she’ll ridicule me, and I’ll just have to get another wand from somewhere else”

Luna sighed, then kissed Hogan deeply. She stowed the wand in her pocket, trying to keep it at an angle that looked somewhat natural. Then she continued to wash Hogan, thinking.

 

                                                                ***

 

 

Ron waited for Harry outside of the restroom, wondering why it was taking so long for him to come out. He needed to pee. BADLY. And he also wanted to nag at him just as bad.

“Harry hurry the hell up! You’re such a girl!” Ron taunted, but Harry did not respond. Ron thumped on the door, hard, but still nothing. Ron began to worry, but he knew a way of getting him out.

“Harry, Hermione!”

Harry flung the door open, saying “What?” and Ron reached behind him and closed the door, not giving him a chance. Harry sighed and glared at Ron. Ron glared back.

“What was that about?” Harry asked, not hiding his annoyance.

“That was about me wanting to piss” Ron said, “but now it’s more about, oh, I don’t know, finding Hermione?!”

  Harry stared at him, understanding exactly why Ron was angry. It was true- he’d been avoiding with the executing of the plan after he’d kissed Ava, not wanting to be near her, scared for some reason or another. Ava hadn’t been to the room either.

“I’m sorry” Harry said, not looking at his best friend. “I just..”

 When Harry took too long to finish, Ron shouted “Just what?!”

Harry sighed, frustrated. “I..I kissed her”

Ron, confused, turned red in the face, somehow taking this as some old hidden secret between him and Hermione. He clenched his fists and said “What? She’s…no, this isn’t true, she would never do that to me”.

Harry blinked, startled, and looked at Ron, who was getting redder and redder by the second- his face was almost identical to the color of his hair. “What do you mean?”

“You know exactly what I mean!” Ron yelled. “Did you not notice that she was married?”

Harry frowned, this time thoroughly confused and a bit frightened. Then it dawned on him. He’d forgotten what a jealous git Ron was at times. He smacked Ron over the head and said “No, you idiot, Ava! I kissed Ava!”

Ron blinked, backing away, close to punching Harry after being smacked in the head like a schoolboy. “Oh… Well you should have been more specific!” he said. Harry shook his head and walked towards the bed.

“And when did this happen?” Ron said,embarrased, but more calmed down. Harry sighed deeply and laid down, suddenly very nervous.

“When she was trying to convince us to let her fight, to give us more time. When she follwed me ” Harry said, kneading his forhead as if he had a headache. “She was just…going on about how we had more to live for than she did…and I don’t know why, but I kissed her.”

Ron sat down next to Harry. “Did she kiss back?” he asked, and Harry sat up and glared at him. Ron didn’t rattle- instead he asked “Well?”

Harry nodded. Ron laughed and patted him on the back.

“Good on you, mate-“

“That’s not the point!” said Harry. “I can’t see her, I’m too…I don’t know…”

“Nervous?”

It took a little longer than usual for Harry to say “Yes!”

Ron laughed at his friend’s sudden shyness. He shook his head and said “Well, we have to get her. We need to save them, Harry”

Harry nodded, staring at the carpet and trying not to implode emotionally, knowing full on that Ron wasn’t about to call her. “I’ll get her” he said, standing up. Ron sniggered and he turned and looked at him fiercely, seeing a very Weasely twins-ish smile on his face. “You keep quiet, I don’t want her to know I told you!” he said.

Ron nodded, still sniggering, tracing hearts in the air and blowing kisses. Harry smiled in spite of himself and went down the stairs. As he went down he thought of rehearsing some sort of apology, but had no time, as she opened the door just seconds before he could knock. She was fully clothed this time, but he still had to step back a little to avoid being pistol whipped. She held the gun a little longer than usual then let her arm drop. Without saying a word, she walked back into her room. Harry followed, wondering if she ever used the damn peephole.

He closed the door and turned to see her sitting on her bed, ignoring him. The telivision was on- a jingle about the Ministry of Magic was playing, but Harry didn’t  pay attention. “Can we talk?” he said. Ava didn’t answer- instead she pretended to be interested in the commercial. He looked down at the carpet and saw bloodstains. His heart raced. “Are you hurt?” he asked.

She shrugged, not answering him. Harry lost his patience. “Look, if you don’t want to talk to me…it’s fine, just hear me out, okay?”

She looked like she was about to give him an evil look, but averted her eyes instead and said “I’m hearing” coldly.

Harry sighed and stuttered his way through his explanation. “Look, I..I’m sorry I didn’t really…talk to you after I…  But I was just really scared… of what could happen, and I didn’t want to hurt you, I really didn’t, but I guess I did, and… I’m not sorry it happened.”

This time Ava looked at him, and his heart dropped-her eyes were glassy.

“I don’t care if you regret it, but I didn’t” he said. “I just…I like you, a lot, and I’m very…”

After a few moments of Harry waving his hands about trying to conjure up the word, Ava said “Impulsive? Stupid? Reckless?  ”

Harry let his arms drop and said “Yes, all of that”

Ava nodded. “So why didn’t you at least come out the next night, when I came to the door?”

Harry blushed. “Um…I was…scared”

Ava snorted. “Yeah. Big bad Harry, scared of little ‘ol me”

“I was!” Harry said. “I just…I got really nervous and I’ve been avoiding you, yes, but not for the reasons you think I’ve been”

He sat on the bed, finally gaining some confidence. Ava looked at him warily, and Harry spotted it. Her left arm was bandaged- she’d tried to cover it up with her shirt. “You’re hurt” he said softly, and Ava let a few tears fall. Harry felt his heart sink again- he was going to let her face those Death Eaters alone, and now she was hurt. He looked at her face and realized that her skin was shiny with sweat. “Ava, why didn’t you tell me or Ron that you were hurt?”

Ava shook her head. “I can handle it” she said. Harry let himself giggle.

“What are you playing at? You’re crying” he said,not unkindly, lifting the sleeve gently to expose her bandages. The blood had seeped through and was staining her shirt a little. “Can I?” he asked. Ava nodded. He removed them slowly, glancing at Ava as he did so, amused- she was trying to hide her pain and biting the inside of her lip. “You don’t have to do everything on your own you know” he said as he surveyed the wound. It was a clean slash, but it looked infected and some parts of the cut were actually black. Harry pretended that it didn’t break his heart to see her hurt and said “I learned that the hard way. You think I survived all those years in Hogwarts, while Voldemort was still in power, by myself?”

Ava didn’t answer. Harry poked the skin just outside of the cut and she jumped, crying out. She glared at him and smacked his arm, hard. Harry grinned. “The fuck was that for?!” she shouted, and Harry laughed louder.

“Nothing, just testing it, seeing if you could still feel your arm” he said. Ava shook her head and smacked him again, which only made him laugh harder as he reached inside his robes to pull out his wand. She cringed at the sight of it.

“What are you going to do?” she asked, and Harry shook his head and waved it once. A tiny bottle appeared, and he unstoppered it.

“Hold out your arm” he said. She shook her head.

“I cant, it’ll hurt” she said, finally allowing her voice waver a little.

“Okay then, hold still” said Harry, and let a few drops fall on her wound. She hissed as her wound began to mend itself. She looked at Harry.

“What is that?” she asked.

“They’re Pheonix tears” he said, stoppering the bottle again and putting it in his pocket. “Has healing powers”

“I can see that” she said, and smiled as her wound mended completely, with no scarring. “Thank you”

He nodded and smiled back, grateful that she had stopped being so depressing. She threw the bandage away from her and onto the floor, not bothering to throw it away properly even though it smelled a little. She had stopped prespiring as heavily as well- her overall health was completely different.

“I’m sorry, Harry”

Harry stared at her, confused. “Why?”

She shook her head. “I caused all this” she said. “You being backtracked in getting Hermione and the others. It should have been done by now.”

Harry laughed. She stared at him. “What’s so funny?”

“You’re apologizing for stuff I’m supposed to be apologizing for” he said, then he leaned in, not afraid, and kissed her again. She kissed back, this time not letting herself hold back, and this time the kiss lasted longer and felt less awkward and more...right. He pulled back and touseled her hair.

“We have to get going”

 

                                     *                              *                           *

 

Hermione was startled awake in the middle of the night by the horrible feeling that she was crushing something that was alive. She stared into the darkness and then she felt it again- that wriggling under her ribs. She almost cried out, but put her hand to her mouth to stifle her cry and instead realized she was lying on top of the canvas bag where the portrait was, and she sat up slowly and quietly.

The crow that had appeared out of the canvas bag three nights earlier wriggled out of the canvas bag and dropped a letter on her lap before flying noiselessly to the sitting room window, perching herself calmly and – Hermione swore she saw this, but blinked anyway- gave her a nod. She opened the letter silently, using the moonlight coming from the window to read.

Just play along and wake the others…GET READY. Muffliato…

Hermione nudged Luna, who had fallen asleep beside her on the floor, and she sat up, somehow knowing not to make any noise. Hermione silently passed her the letter and nodded at the crow; Luna nodded, comprehending. Neville was on the other side of the room. Hermione felt on the floor for something to throw at him and found a coaster. She threw it at him, hitting his head, and he woke up with a start. Luna pulled out her wand and whispered “Muffliato!” before Neville could make a sound. He sat up, muttering sleepily.

“What the… That hurt…”

“Shh” Hermione hissed, and Neville spotted the crow and nodded. She looked at Luna.“Where did you get that from?” she asked, looking at the wand.

Luna shook her head and instead walked towards Neville. Hermione, annoyed, did the same. They all sat together, Hermione clutching the portrait tightly. She looked into it but saw no sign of Harry or Ron. She saw the crow fly out to the tree just outside the window and peck at the medallion that was hanging there. It fell, and she heard a small tinkling that was the thing breaking.

 As if an alarm had gone off, Amber, Brian, and Hogan all jumped into the sitting room, their wands drawn and looking around with confused expressions at the lack of extra people in the room. They didn’t notice the crow perched on a brach on the tree outside.

“What’s going on?” Amber growled, pointing her wand at Hermione, who looked at it as if it with a bored expression on her face. “What did you do, Mudblood?”

“I didn’t do anything, what did you do?” Hermione asked, and Amber reached down and slapped her. Hermione took it, not saying another word.

“What broke?” Amber asked herself, then she looked out the window at the tree. Hermione’s heart stopped. She glanced at the window but the crow wasn’t there anymore.

Amber walked to the window and looked down. She snorted. “The medallion’s broken, Hogan” she said, turning, and was kicked in the face.

Hermione let out a screech as a woman swooped down from the ceiling where she was apparently hiding, floating to be more exact, and pointed two pistols and a long wand at Amber as she landed on Amber, two feet pressed firmly on her chest. Amber’s wand fell away with a clatter and Brian tried to curse her, but the woman countercursed him with the laziest flick of her wand and he went flying through the door and landed with an ominous crash somewhere in the bedroom. Next to Hermione, out came Harry from the portrait, and he too was holding guns and a wand. Hermione looked around, trying to comprehend what was expected of her, Luna, and Neville, and she turned to talk to Luna but was startled to see her in Hogan’s arms. Her heart sunk. Had Luna crossed over to the Dark side?

Like a swarm of bees fighting to protect their beehive, six Death Eaters appeared out of nowhere and started shooting curses at Harry and the woman, who Hermione now guessed was Ava, seeing the connection- she was an Animagus and was able to get through the portrait because of the birds that were able to move in it. She was the crow.

Hermione ducked away from the jet of green light that shot at her, coming from a huge Death Eater to her right, and pulled out her hand made wand and started testing it with simple curses. The Death Eater slowed down, but didn’t stop, and she had to keep concentrating above the sound of the gunshots that were making her ears ring. She heard Harry yell “Hermione, duck!” and she did, hearing a round of bullets , feeling the heat of them rush through the air above her and wincing at the thick thumps as they found their mark.

Avada Kedavra!” Hermione heard and turned to see Hogan, the Death Eater who had been holding Luna, killing Brian, who was pointing a wand at Neville threateningly. Brian fell with a thump that sounded like a sack of rice being dropped. She glared at Hogan, angry that Luna had never told her and Neville that she’d confided in a Death Eater and not really trusting him either.

 

                                                *                *                *

Ava had never been this scared in her life.

She was back to back with Harry, shooting at the Death Eaters that just seemed to be multiplying- they’d kill three and five would come after- and they seemed relentless. They had planned ahead, anticipating this kind of reinforcement, but had no idea there were this many that would respond to help. They had set a Caterwauling Charm among all the other charms and spells, just like Harry had predicted they would.

Malfoy was a good leader after all.

Harry suddenly grabbed Ava by the arms, still keeping his back to her, and she felt his shoulders stiffen as he lifted her slightly. She wound her arms in his and flipped upward, then she landed in front of him and they thumped their chests together. She stuck her arms under his and he rested his arms on her shoulders- she covered his back and he covered hers, respectively. A Death Eater decided to be clever and floated above them- Harry shot upwards once, getting him in the eye and not at all enjoying the splatter of blood across his face, and Ava screamed, as she got the worst of it.

“Sorry!” Harry said, kissing her quickly as he shot at another one that had appeared behind her. Ava received the kiss and continued to fire at the others appearing behind Harry.

Harry locked eyes with her, counted out loud to three, and they seperated, Ava floating up on the ceiling again,  kicking any Death Eater that went past her and using Avada Kedavra like it was in style. She saw Hermione cowering in a corner and a Death Eater advancing on her, and she shot towards him and landed on his back, making him fall face forward. Hermione looked at her, eyes wide, and said “Thank you!”

“No problem” Ava said and shot the Death Eater in the back, leaving him paralyzed and screaming for dear life and splattering blood all over her front. He stopped screaming just as quickly and she looked around, breathing heavily.

There was sudden silence as Death Eaters stopped coming in. Some disappeared, sensing something they didn’t, and Harry, Hermione, and Ava were left standing there looking like they’d just run a mile. Ava looked around and saw that Neville, a man she couln’t put a name to, and Luna were all huddled in a corner, Neville hiding behind Luna.

Nothing was heard for a while but their ragged breathing. Harry and Ava stood their ground, looking around the room and waiting. Ava was still facing Hermione; Hermione was sobbing silently, her eyes shut tightly.  “Hermione, it’s ok-“ Ava began.

A sudden shot rang through the air and Hermione cried out, opening her eyes.

At first Ava didn’t know what had happened to her. She looked around for the source like all the rest of them, and then she heard Hermione scream and looked at her, confused. She was screaming at her. Then she felt it- a warm, liquid something flowing down her front and back, and she heard Harry screaming her name. She felt woozy and disconnected and fell back, but didn’t hit hard floor like she expected- instead she was caught by Harry, and she was almost deafened by his screaming. She felt her body go numb and she started trembling and crying sliently, panicking. Harry’s face swam up in her vision and she said his name. Harry held her an strocked her hair too hard, saying something but she couldn’t understand him- he was sobbing too. Then her head cleared, she was alert, and her eyes stopped being foggy. She was shot in the stomach but she couldn’t feel the pain, not yet, but she felt cold and hot all at the same time. Her head had begun to throb, threatening to implode with pressure. She looked at Harry, who had realized she was back mentally,and said , “It’s ok, I’m ok”.

Harry nodded and kissed her forhead. She could feel his body shaking, but she couln’t move- she felt too woozy and felt like vomiting. “Stay with me, okay?” he said. Ava nodded and gave him a weak smile.

She heard the cackle that seemed to emanate from the walls of the apartment, and she saw the sudden change in Harry’s expression.

“Potter, I didn’t think you had it in you!” came a high pitched voice. “You seemed very unfeeling the last time we met”.

Harry turned and glared at the distorted, pale, and dead- looking Draco Malfoy standing calmly in front of Hogan and Luna. Harry muttered “Hold her”, and Ava felt her body shift to the left as Hermione held her, stroking her hair less savagely as Harry had done. Ava relaxed, but not for very long- her body began to shake again, and she started feeling cold.

She heard a noise and turned her head slowly, seeing bright spots dance in her eyes as she tried to focus on what Hermione wa doing. The portrait.

“Do you think you can get through?” Hermione whispered. Ava nodded once and Hermione gasped as she reverted back to her animal form and flapped weakly through the portrait. Ava left a thick trail of feathery blood as she went through. Hermione glanced at the others and they started towards her and the portrait. Hermione plunged her arm through the portrait and was startled to see that her hand appeared on the other side. She then let herself fall into the portrait and landed upside down on her head on the floor of an apartment.

She righted herself and looked around and found Ava on the floor next to her, changed back to her human form but looking pale and prespiring heavily. Hermione began to cry again and once again cradled her and stroked her hair. She wished she’d had her wand- Ava wouldn’t have been suffering.

Neville and Luna came next, followed by Hogan. Hermione turned Ava over to her side and stood up, glaring at Hogan. Luna shook her head at her.

“Save it” Luna said, and Hermione tried not to show her surprise with Luna’s sudden bravado by staring at her. Luna held her gaze right back.

“Hermione..”

She turned and looked down. Ava was beckoning her weakely. Hermione bent down and said “What is it?”

Ava was crying. The Ava Hermione had first witnessed was gone- she was now as weak and powerless as all of them, more so now that she was wounded. Through a series of ragged breaths, Ava whispered “In the bedroom...closet..Harry’s jacket…Pheonix…”

Hermione understood instantly- the small bottle of Phoenix tears that Harry carried with him everywhere. “I’ll be right back” she said, and ran to the nearest door. It was the bedroom, and she looked towards the closet and spotted a huge black jacket that was hung on the doorknob. She rifled through the many pockets until she found the tiny bottle with the tears in it and ran back to the parlor, bending down over Ava, who had gone unconscious on the floor and was as white as a sheet.Hermione panicked.

“Ava?!” she yelled. Ava let out a barely audible moan and Hermione relaxed as she unstoppered the bottle and lifted Ava’s shirt.

As soon as she did so, more blood seemed to gush out of the wound, and Ava began to shake and turn blue. Hermione, terrified,  ripped a piece off her own blouse and started mopping up the blood around her abdomen, then poured a few drops of the tears on the wound as quickly as she could. It began to hiss and steam as though being branded. Horrified, Hermione watched as it only mended itself very little until it was still a deep, layered gash. Ava took in a hoarse breath and started screaming in pain, no longer in shock. Neville bent down and held Ava still as Hermione poured more of the tears on the wound, and Ava stopped screaming. The wound had healed. Ava sat up and started to talk and Hermione shushed her.

“Its okay, Harry will be fine” she said, and Ava shook her head, her eyes tearing up. Hermione nodded. “Trust me, he’ll be fine”

“Hermione?”

Hermione turned and beamed as she saw Ron. Ron beamed back and she ran up to him and they embraced, kissing fiercely and muttering a million things at a time.

They stopped and held each other and looked at the rest of the lot. Neville had collapsed on the couch, knocked out. Luna and Hogan were both bent down and talking to Ava, who still seemed a bit scatterbrained. Ron gasped.

“Ava, what happened?” he asked, and Ava looked up at him and gave him a weak smile.

“I got myself shot” she said, and Ron ran to her. He took one look at her bloodstained clothes and blanched. “It’s ok, Hermione healed me” she added, and Ron turned and smiled at Hermione.

“I bet she did” he said, and Hermione blushed.

They all stood quiet as they heard a small explosion come from the portrait. Ava stood up and ran to it.

They all huddled around her and watched as Harry and Malfoy circled each other, not doing anything much, but talking.

                                                                *        *        *

“What happened to Ginerva, Potter?” Malfoy said, and Harry shuddered internally at hearing his ex- wife’s name being said by him. “Not good enough in bed?”

“Shut up” Harry said, and he pointed his wand at Malfoy threateningly. Malfoy merely grinned.

“Struck a nerve?”

“I said shut up, you little insect”

A green red jet of light flew at Harry and he countered it, sending it flying right back at Malfoy. Malfoy simply turned his body slightly to the left and sighed, tutting. “Insults will get you nowhere, Potter”

Harry glared at Malfoy, trying his very best to look confident and not show his unease as he thought about Ava. His heart raced and he prayed that she’d remember the tears in his jacket.

“So when were you going to tell me you had a girlfriend, Potter?” Malfoy jeered, flipping his hair arrogantly. “I was under the impression that you were a fairly monogamous man”.

He dodged another curse and dared to walk closer to Harry, not blinking. Harry was beginning to sweat. He was getting angry, and he was showing it apparently, because Malfoy smiled.

“Feeling emotional, Harry?”

 Before Harry could reply, he saw a shadow flutter behind Malfoy. He felt his body go numb as a familiar, brilliantly black crow flew silently out of the portrait on the floor, but he gave no indication that he’d seen something unusual. Malfoy was too busy smirking at Harry to notice it. Ava flew up to the windowsill again, then silently, slowly, transformed herself behind Malfoy, and sat on the windowsill, widening her eyes a bit at Harry to let him know not to give her away. Harry felt a surge of relief mixed with anticipation at what she was going to do.

“I’m fine, it’s you I’m worried about, Draco” Harry said, trying to say the dumbest thing he could think of to get his attention.

“Me? Why, I’m touched!” Malfoy exclaimed, flourishing his wand. “But honestly, I’d think you would confide in me about your new love interest, she’s pretty cute!”

“Oh, but we haven’t talked in years, Malfoy, I was starting to think you’d forgotten about me, I was hurt”, Harry said, and Malfoy laughed.

“You were always funny, even if it was because you were so stupid”

A jet of green light flew towards Harry and he moved to the left, then back to where he was. The curse hit the wall behind him with a thunk and a sound like a fork being thrust into a circuit board. He stared past Malfoy at Ava, who was slowly pulling out her guns from her coat and aiming them straight at Malfoy’s head. Harry’s heart thumped and he glared at Malfoy again. Malfoy was still smiling.

“You killed a lot of my good men here” Malfoy said, coming closer and nodding at some of the bodies that were carpeting the floor. “I’m a little impressed”.

"I'm thrilled to hear that" Harry said, smirking. "It's what I've always wanted to hear from you. But I'm telling you now"

Draco's face fell as he finally sensed the other person in the room.

"Flattery will get you nowhere"

Ava pulled the trigger.


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