Harry sighed frustrated. As the glow of the sky turned from rich orange to icy blue, he wondered, for the umpteenth time, what was keeping Ron for so long. Ron had promised to return soon after he met with his sister. The look of joy on Ron’s face at the prospect of meeting his family had been so vivid that Harry had told himself that he was just spending some time with them. Of course, his heart had nearly popped out at the mention of the vivacious Weasley girl. The picture of her mischievous smile and wide eyes kept haunting his mind…
It was with great difficulty that Harry kept those feelings at bay.
After nearly three weeks since Ron’s departure, Harry began to wonder if everything was alright. It was by sheer exercise of control that Harry hadn’t abandoned his exploration and run amok in search of his best friend.
The progress towards the ultimate destruction of Voldemort had been slow, but steady. Harry had, with the help of many other unsuspecting members, found almost all of the Horcruxes. The time to fight Voldemort was nearing and Harry waited for the moment with all eagerness. Rage filled his heart, and finishing off Voldemort would provide him the much deserved respite.
Sighing, Harry rose, dusting away the mud. The place was cold and eerie. Many-a time, Harry had to face uninvited company of fiery beasts. But, thankfully, nothing had gone out of control up till the present. The hopes of Ron’s call for him that evening had died. Surely, after the dusk had settled, Ron wouldn’t come in search of him. It was moments such as these that Harry wished that he hadn’t let Hermione back at Hogwarts. Though his reasons had been noble, he couldn’t help but wonder if the mission would have been completed if Hermione were there with him. Not to mention the fact that she’d ease many of Ron’s mood swings.
Of course…Ron wasn’t here now.
Running a hand through his messy black hair, Harry let his eyes close. His body felt heavy as did his weary eyes. The search had been tiring. It had taken him weeks of travel to finally come across the fifth Horcrux, which now lay securely behind his invisibility cloak.
Just as his eyes shut, there was an explosion somewhere nearby. Harry sat up with a start. As his eyes adjusted to the surroundings, he felt another such explosion. It was pouring outside.
A mere thunder…
Was it an indication of something?
Time froze for Hermione. The sound of Harry’s urgent voice had made her rush past him and into the empty room. Everything around her was reeling.
She had been here…just moments ago. Harry was talking something, but she couldn’t hear. She couldn’t bring herself to hear any of it.
Hazily Hermione looked at him. “Harry…she-she was…she was just here…”
“Who else knows about Ginny being here?”
“Hermione, sit down. Relax. Tell me. Who knows about her being in your dormitory?”
“Draco…I mean, Malfoy.”
Harry stared at her. “You told Malfoy?”
“He-I-Harry, he helped me…helped me bring her here. It was because of…oh Merlin! Ginny is gone!”
“Exactly,” snapped Harry, fixing her with a murderous look. “I am sure Malfoy was behind this. Who else is here? Nobody! Who could have made her disappear? I…we don’t even know if he’s kept her alive or-”
“Stop it,” Hermione said feebly.
“-or killed her. I told you Hermione-”
“-but, you never listen to me. If only you’d-”
“STOP IT! Harry! If it weren’t for Malfoy, I’d probably be dead by now! He’s saved me more than once! Stop accusing him! I know we haven’t been at the best terms with Malfoy, but he isn’t the same Malfoy when you get to know him!”
Catching her breath, Hermione shot him a reproachful look. Harry clapped.
“Look at you! Angel is he? ‘When you get to know him’! Wow! He sure seems to have charmed you. In a matter of few minutes, you’ve spoken for him and against me quite willfully. How easy it is to hoodwink you, my dear Granger.”
“Harry Potter is dead. Or as good as dead.”
A loud knock at the door made the two of them veer around.
The smile hadn’t quite died down on Draco’s lips as he walked down the corridor, lazily. It had been days since a genuine smile had flittered across his face. With new found dose of mysterious zeal, Draco paced around enjoying the quiet atmosphere. He let his feet carry him wherever they wanted to. As he crossed the corridor which led to the Gryffindor’s liar, he wondered why he was here. Rolling his eyes, he moved on. It was some distance away that Draco saw him for the first time.
What was Blaise Zabini doing in here? He seemed to be alone, but, he moved around as though he was speaking to someone.
Frowning, Draco quelled the urge to shout in joy at the familiar face and walked closer. Blaise didn’t notice his arrival.
Before him was a transparent frame, which seemed to hold liquid glass. Mirror? The contents in them were unclear, but Draco instantly recognized the familiar bushy hair. After close observation, Draco recognized Hermione Granger and…
But, that was impossible! Blaise wouldn’t be standing there and watching Hermione converse with Potter. Such situation would be a feast to the fellow Slytherin, who’d have seized the opportunity and handed Potter. It was a common knowledge among the Slytherins that, apart from Draco Malfoy there existed one other boy, who wished to serve the Dark Lord with utmost devotion. People had wondered who among the two best friends would win the shield with the Lord. For Draco, the competition would’ve ended had he successfully killed Dumbledore.
Well, that was the thing of the past. But now, as he studied the other boy, who seemed to absorbed in his silent talks and brisk moments, Draco wondered if there was more to it than mere craziness.
Something didn’t add up in here.
And then, he saw.
The Harry Potter, who spoke to Granger, seemed to move and talk exactly like Blaise Zabini did. Suddenly, Draco knew. He moved as fast as his feet could carry him.
As he pounded on the Gryffindor’s portrait hole, Draco hoped that he wasn’t too late.
The blessed voice was like a blanket of calm which stole upon his body. Hermione Granger was still alive.
“Granger! Get away from him! This instant! That isn’t Potter…”
Hermione nearly crashed against Draco as he strode past her. A smile touched her lips as he stood before her, protectively. He turned to look at her. “You alright there, Granger?” She managed a nod.
“Well, well, well. So, we have some company. That’s wonderful,” drawled Blaise as he moved by the fireplace and sat down on the couch. Lazily, he put his legs on the table and gazed at the two. Honestly, he had made some miscalculation. But, it didn’t matter now.
“Let me begin with some niceties. I hope that you find yourself quite comfortable in here? It would be a shame if I heard from you that you did not like my…arrangements.”
“Cut the nonsense Blaise. What’s happening in here?”
“I admire your enthusiasm, Draco. But, you see, I am not at the liberty to reveal much in here. I thought, that maybe, she would execute the task given to her. Unfortunately, I was wrong.” Blaise paused, frowning. His violet eyes stared at the two and he shook his head. “I wouldn’t have seen this coming. Excuse me. But, with the change in plans, I have other business to attend to.”
Draco leapt forward. His fingers found the wisp of thin air. There was a smirk on Harry’s face, before the image disappeared.