Chapter 15 : And the Games Begin
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I was a little dreadful and stirred up with motion sickness early the next day. Both of which I attributed to the fact that I’d have to work with two Gryffindors just for the survival of my mate.
“So what’s on the agenda today?” Zabini asked as we walked up the flight of stairs to the direction of the Great Hall. “Are we really going through with the DA idiocy you came up with yesterday? Because that’s just making me queasy, and it’s not a good feeling, I’m telling you.”
“I don’t like it one bit either, but hey, every step to not dying, is a step well taken, I’d say.”
Zabini sighed. “I don’t like this at all. It’s unsettling, you know.”
“I do, actually. I’ve been feeling weird ever since I woke up. The sooner we get this over with, the sooner we get to breathe again. This motion sickness is very peculiar.”
“I admit, we’d be going through all sorts of nausea with just the thought of having to work with a bunch of sissy Gryiffindors, but motion sickness is not one of them.”
I shrugged. “It may be a Malfoy thing,” I said with an air of world-class snobbery I learned from my mother.
As we reached the top most stairs, a scrawny but firm pair of hands grabbed me by the collar of my shirt and pinned me to the wall so quickly, I saw colourful swirls of red, white and black.
“Where’s Hermione?” the owner of the hands asked furiously.
Weaselby. I should’ve known.
I smacked his restraining hands away from me and straightened my crumpled shirt. “While I do love being blamed for things I have not been clued on, I must say this: I really don’t know what you’re going on about, Weasel.”
“No one’s seen Hermione, we were waiting for her to come down but she never did. Lavender says there’s no one else left in the girls’ dormitory.”
I frowned. “Go on.”
Weasley shot me a frustrated look. “What do you mean go on –“
“Exactly as I said: go on. Continue. Do tell us the more delightful part of your story. Because I swear to Merlin, you red-headed freak of nature, if that’s the only reason you ruined my shirt and pinned me to the wall, I will box your ears until they are no longer attached to the sides of your head.”
“Hermione’s gone missing and that’s all you have to say for yourself?”
“Potter, do control your friend, he’s acting like a wildebeest. It’s too early in the morning for me to face this sort of lunacy.”
“You haven’t seen Hermione either?” Potter asked instead.
I rolled my eyes. “What part of ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’ don’t you understand? Honestly, Gryffindors can be so slow.”
“She’s not in Gryffindor Tower, surely –“
“Perhaps the library?” Zabini sniggered, interrupting Weasley from another babbling rant. “It’s not unusual for her to spend her days and nights there, is it?”
“This early in the morning?” Weasley practically yelled. “I doubt it’s even open at this hour.”
“Have you ever tried going to the library this early, Wee-Wee?” I asked condescendingly. I sincerely doubt he’s ever stepped foot inside the library, let alone know the library hours.
“Well, no,” he answered grudgingly, looking at his shoes which were marred with mud and grime.
“It’s open from eight in the morning til eight in the evening. And oh, look at that,” I feigned surprise as I looked at the hourglass by the window on the right. “It’s eight-fifteen.”
Weasley frowned at me, allowing that Granger might indeed be in the library. Merlin only knows what she could possibly do there so early in the morning.
“Now if you’ll excuse us,” I gave them a dead patronising look, “we’re hungry and have no time for bumbling Gryffindor idiots.”
Zabini and I traipsed towards the direction of the Great Hall, relieved to be relieved of Potty and Wee-Wee. The two definitely complimented each other. The Potty being able to contain the Wee – if you know what I’m saying. (Enter smirk here).
“What the – ouch! That hurt,” I grumbled, feeling like I was just thrown out of a moving carriage and landed right smack on my behind.
Zabini looked at me, bewildered. “What hurts?”
“Did someone just dare to kick my arse?” I looked behind me, but there was no one there. Except for the Bloody Baron, and he looked menacing enough for me to shut my mouth. It’s not like ghosts can physically hurt humans anyway.
My friend looked even more bewildered, but also amused. “No. Would you want me to?”
“Ow!” I grasped my elbow, feeling it scrape against something. “Okay, I’m definitely feeling some voodoo magic here. I’m sorely being beaten up, and I can’t even retaliate!”
“You know, it’s when someone tries to – ouch, quit it!” I glowered at Zabini when he smacked me upside my head.
“I know what it is, you retard. Why would someone do that to you?”
”Jealous? It’s not rare that someone –“ I paled. I felt sick to my stomach, and… fear? I was afraid. Of what, I didn’t know.
“What’s wrong with you now?” Zabini sighed.
“I’m scared.” I said this in a pitiful way, girly and trembling with a slight strain on my voice – borderline strangled scream if I’m to be honest.
Zabini looked at me – stoic at first, and then bellowed out in laughter, grasping his knees in support. “Funny, Malfoy, ever the hilarious Slytherin. Now can you stop your thespian mode for just an hour? I’m hungry.”
I clutched his arm. “I’m serious.”
“You better be glad I’m not Crabbe or Goyle, you’ve been keeping me from breakfast far too long. And I’m starting to get crabby. Speaking of seafood, let’s go check the Great Hall for something to eat, alright?”
“Alright already,” I said and picked up our pace to the Slytherin table. Before I had a chance to sit down though, I was being dragged from the back of my robes to the opposite direction.
This being dragged around in places was starting to get tiring.
“Oy!” Zabini called out, standing up from his seat, followed by Pucey.
“What the bloody –“
“Hermione’s not in the library,” a voice said from behind, the instigator of the pulling of robes.
“Thank you for that information. I know this may come as a surprise to you, but – ouch! That has seriously got to…” I blanched, finally connecting the dots. Granger was no where to be found. My arse and limbs are being abused every other minute or so. I was afraid of something for no particular reason.
“Perfect, just perfect,” I said sarcastically, pulling my robes out of Weasley’s grimy, filth-infested hands. We’ve come to a stop of playing pull-and-be-pulled and were now at the very back of the Great Hall. “My robes have been tainted with blood-traitor hands, and my muggle has been kidnapped. Is there anything else that could go wrong today?”
“Oops,” a pale, quivering Hufflepuff said, looking at me helplessly and in horror.
Apparently so. The Hufflepuff just spilled a smelly concoction on me that has now spread over my robes and seeped into it. Whatever it was, it was quickly turning my skin to a putrid shade of green.
I closed my eyes in frustration. “Tell me what this is and how it can be countered, or I will Avada Kedavra your sorry arse right this minute!” I growled out.
Ugly Clumsy Hufflepuff had no answer for me. Instead, his eyes watered and started gasping for breath in between sobs.
“Answer me!” I shouted. I saw him jump in fright. “Or you’ll be serving detention with Filch for the rest of your Hogwarts life. And don’t think that just because I’m graduating this year, I won’t see your punishment carried out until your seventh year.”
“It’s – it’s non-reversible,” he squeaked out. “But it will fade within twelve hours!”
I heard muffled laughter from behind me. If there’s one thing that can join two Gryffindors and two Sytherins together, it’s the sight of me in a faded green colour.
“Fifty points from Hufflepuff for carrying potions unsupervised outside of the classroom,” I barked out. “And be thankful I have other pressing matters to attend to, or your arse would be Filch’s.”
Ugly Clumsy Hufflepuff trembled and nodded quickly at his punishment before running away from me. Stupid first years and their overeager attempts at magic.
I turned back to Potter and Weasley. “Granger’s been abducted. No idea who’s done it, all I know is she’s being bruised up badly.”
Potter’s eyes narrowed. “What’s happening?”
“I can feel her fear; feel her arm scraping against… it feels like soil. Definitely not asphalt.”
“Where is she?”
“No idea,” I muttered darkly. “I wish I knew, that way I can get my hands on her abductors and Crucio them until they wish they were sent to dementors instead.”
“We have to find her.”
“No, you have to stay here, Potter. The Dark Lord is targeting this place. I can handle searching for Granger.”
“You don’t even know where to look for her,” Pucey argued.
“Yes, I do. She’s out of the country, someplace tropical. I can feel it.” I closed my eyes, trying to feel our connection, thinking of her face, every line, every detail, until I could no longer see her. All I saw were trees lined up in a brown background, and two ignorant abductors fighting over how to tie my hands – no, Granger’s hands.
It was vivid, so vivid that I took in a deep breath, surprised at this sort of connection. I couldn’t hear her thoughts, but I could see exactly where she was. It was as if I have taken her place. But when I opened my eyes, I was still in Hogwarts, in the Great Hall and in the company of my friends. And my not-so-friends.
“Accio Nimbus 2002,” I said, holding out my hand and waited for my broom to come to me.
“What are you doing?” Zabini asked.
“Saving Granger,” I muttered. “Stay here, especially you, Potter. The Dark Lord’s coming, and you need to be here to save the day.”
“What about you?” Potter wanted to know.
“I know where she is, and I know how get to her,” I replied curtly as my broomstick arrived and dropped to the floor, completely missing my outstretched hand. I sighed and rolled my eyes before picking it up from the floor. What a wuss. If I had a Firebolt, it would’ve landed right in my hand.
“What about us?” Pucey demanded.
“You two stay here,” I said, going outside and stepping on my broom. “And tell Crabbe and Goyle they’re in for a world of trouble when I come back.”
I reached the gates of Hogwarts and looked for a good place to apparate. Clutching my broomstick tightly, I closed my eyes and focused on the place I saw a while ago. It wasn’t too hard to visualise, I’ve already been to that place last summer when father showed it to me. It’s one of the emergency hide-outs used by Death Eaters during a crisis.
I apparated just outside the camp (because I obviously can’t apparate inside as it’s protected by all sorts of magic) and flew around, searching for an entry point. Because I’ve already been there, it wasn’t hidden from me. I saw a red tent next to the campfire, and a lone person tied to a tree. They didn’t even bother with a guard. They were probably inside resting.
Slowly, I made my descent quietly and stopped to cover my broomstick under a pile of branches and leaves before making my way to Hermione. I mean, Granger. Whatever. My muggle.
Careful not to make a sound, I walked to her tree and quickly covered her mouth before she could make any noise.
“Ssh,” I whispered.
She looked at me with horrified eyes.
“I’ll try to get you out of here. Keep quiet, okay?”
She nodded her head. As soon as I took my hand off her mouth, she had the nerve to ask me why I was green. “What’s with the skin colour, Malfoy?”
“Can’t you just be thankful I’m here to save you from this hellhole?” I frowned. Some people are never grateful. “Your handcuffs have been magicked, I can’t undo it.”
“And precisely for this reason, we’ve magicked it,” Crabbe (the older, more grotesque looking version of Vincent Crabbe) stepped out from the shadows and showed me an evil look worthy of a Death Eater. “Whatever have you done with your skin, little Malfoy?”
Shit and double shit.
I was happy – for that one moment, I thought I was about to be set free from the two goons Voldemort deemed competent enough to hold me hostage and threaten Malfoy to join the Death Eaters again. Of course, my saviour turned out to be a wilting shade of avocado green, but a saviour is a saviour nevertheless.
“Whatever have you done to your skin, little Malfoy?” Older Crabbe asked, arriving at the most opportune time to have the upper hand.
“Oh, you know,” Malfoy answered, waving a hand flippantly. “School. Nasty business, that, but at least its Slytherin colours, don’t you agree?”
“Quite becoming,” Older Crabbe agreed. If Student Crabbe was vile when seen munching on anything edible (or inedible, for that matter, if I think about it again), Older Crabbe is viler. And even worse at trying to make conversation.
“Alright, let’s get this over with,” Malfoy said, a little exasperated. How he could even sound offish at such a delicate time is beyond me. But I suppose that’s part of his charm – wait, did I just say charm? Ugh, the African air must addle the brains a bit. “What is she doing here, and what can be done about it?”
“Simple: join us and she lives.”
“You do know that if you kill her, you’re just as well killing me, right?”
Older Crabbe nodded. “It’s a chance the Dark Lord is willing to take. He’s quite possessive of his followers, you know.”
Malfoy was quiet for a while. I couldn’t see his face as I was still pathetically tied to the tree and he had his back against me, talking to Older Crabbe.
“And if I refuse, do you kill her right away, or what?”
“If you refuse, we’ve been given permission to torture you ruthlessly first until you give in. If by the time the Dark Lord makes his move and you’re still a stubborn git, we kill you first – make the little mudblood here feel guilty first before doing her in as well.”
“Ah. Interesting choices. Mind if I have a moment with my mudblood?”
I seethed inside. It was one thing for Older Crabbe to call me mudblood, and a completely different thing for my betrothed (if you could call it that) to call me that loathsome name.
“Ah-ah. Can’t allow that. You see, if you’re left alone with her, you could easily find a way to take away her bindings… nope. Not a chance.”
“Then take a few steps back. I’m not spending my one time reunion with my mudblood with you hearing what I have to say.”
I bristled again at the word mudblood coming from his mouth.
“I’d rather hear them. Escape plans and everything.”
“I won’t be escaping! At least, not yet. Oh, fine. Have it your way. It’s going to be mushy ‘I love you’ bits anyway. I hope you throw up your breakfast.”
Turning my way, Malfoy crouched and touched my cheek gently. “I know this is not the best time to declare my love for you, but I’m doing so now, just in case I don’t get the chance to in the future.
“So what do you think, should I join them? Have you extend your life just a bit? Mine too. I’m quite fond of my life, you know. Which is why I kept wooing you and everything – why are you looking at me like that?”
“You called me a mudblood!” I seethed.
Malfoy looked at me in disbelief. “I don’t know where your priorities lie, darling, but we’re stuck in Congo with two beasts ready to attack at just the small sight of escape, and you’re going at me for calling you ‘mudblood’?”
“It’s something I don’t quite appreciate,” I hissed. I was not caving in. No matter how gorgeous his steely silver eyes gazed at me in frustration. I wanted an apology, and I was going to have it.
“Fine, I won’t call you that again. Now can we please continue with our flight plan?”
“Let me hear you apologise first.”
He looked at me – disbelief, anger and frustration clouding his eyes. “Are you bloody serious? You are, aren’t you? Oh dear Merlin, I have no idea – you know what? Fine, I’m sorry. Okay? I’m sorry I called you that name, it was wrong of me to do so and I am asking for your forgiveness.”
I sniffed. “Apology accepted.”
“I am this close to pulling my hair out with your absurdities,” he raised a hand, showing how close he was to madness.
I shrugged. “You call me mudblood, you lose your hair.”
He fixed me with a fierce stare (completely heart melting, if you must know, but let’s keep that between ourselves) and after a while, buried his head on the side of my neck. I felt him breathe in deeply before turning to look at me again.
“I’m not going back, I won’t be joining the Dark Lord,” he whispered, suddenly very serious, and very sad. “I know it’s not something you’d want me to do, even if it would save both our lives.”
I stared back at him. A part of me, the part that really wanted to live and spend my days with him, wanted to tell him to go rejoin the ugly bastard. The other part, the one with more sense and loyalty to Dumbledore, readily accepted his decision.
I leaned forward, wanting to be close to him. As if sensing what I wanted, he closed the gap and wrapped his arms around me.
“What if you pretended to fight on their side?” I whispered, very softly so Older Crabbe wouldn’t hear. “Play a double agent or something.”
“And leave you here, in the hands of two dim-wits?” Malfoy whispered back, caressing my face, lightly touching my lips, my collarbone. “I don’t think so. They’re not to be trusted.”
I sighed. “I don’t want to see you tortured.”
He looked at me straight in the eyes. It was like he was searching for something. He shrugged. “I’ve been through more torture at school seeing you kiss that bloody marsupial. I think I could handle this. Besides, I’m quite good with my wand.”
I nodded shakily. It was as if we had no choice on the matter anymore. He turned to face Older Crabbe again but I stopped him.
He turned to look at me expectantly and knelt down at my side, sweeping a stray lock of hair back behind my right ear.
He cocked his head, patiently waiting for what I was going to say.
“I… Draco, I love you too,” I whispered, closing my eyes, still a bit embarrassed at revealing what I felt. Especially in front of Older Crabbe.
And it was true, I did love him. Even if I knew he was doing this just because I was his lousy mate and he’d end up dying if I died, a huge part of me has fallen for him. He’s deeply compassionate, although it’s hard to tell as it’s all locked up in some strange Malfoy box of emotionlessness. He’s willing to befriend my friends whom he’s hated ever since who knows when. He’s willing to stand up for me, his (I have to say it) mudblood mate. And is completely defying the Dark Mark on his arm by coming here to rescue me. Of course it helps entirely that he has god-like looks.
What came next was a surprise – a good, heavenly surprise. I suddenly felt his hands on my face and as I opened my eyes, I saw his mouth descending on mine. It was hard and ragged, full of frustration and sadness. It was like he was packing everything on this kiss, which could very well be our first and last.
“Oh, that’s just sickening,” came a second voice from behind.
Older Goyle, I presumed. But I didn’t turn to look, and neither did Draco. He was intent on what he was doing, and I had no complaints. Except I wanted to be free from my binds as I also wanted to hold him, but it didn’t matter. He pressed himself upon me, twirling his hands round my hair, kissing me this way and that, pausing briefly for air. He tasted sweet, I noted, when I felt his tongue on mine. The best kind of sweet I’ve ever tasted.
“Alright, that’s enough,” Older Goyle growled out. “No need for us to see this. It’s time for your doom, Draco.”
He felt him sigh as he lightly nipped my bottom lip and traced my jaw line with his mouth. “I love you,” he whispered and gave me one last kiss before he stood and faced Older Crabbe and Older Goyle.
“Let’s get this over with,” he said wearily and pulled out his wand, pointing at them.
“Accio wand,” Older Goyle called out, a little lazily and smiled at us. “You didn’t think you’d have the opportunity of using your wand, did you? No, no, we have something much more special than an uneven duel.”
With another flick of his wrist, Draco went flying up to the tree next to mine, and dangled on it with a rope wrapped around his neck. I gasped, feeling a sickening shove in my stomach.
“No!” I cried, tears flowing out. I saw him flail in the air for a second, clutching the rope that secured his neck (magicked rope, no doubt), before a thick plank flew up beneath his feet, supporting him and I saw he was able to breathe again.
“Don’t worry, mudblood,” Older Crabbe said, smiling gleefully down at me. I returned his smile with a hateful glare. “We planned this just so, so that you’d feel guilty about his torment for days.
“You see that plank of wood? It stays right there today. Tomorrow, it goes a notch lower, until by the end of the week, you’ll see your lifeless boyfriend dangling like a piece of meat laid out to dry.”
Laughing, the two creatures left us. Draco was looking down from where he was; a deeply apologetic look on his still avocado-green face. I couldn’t bear it. I didn’t want him to feel like it was his fault, because it wasn’t. It was that stupid Voldemort who should be hung on a tree to die.
I hung my head and started to cry.
Authors Notes: Yay. We’re back. We’re really sorry for the delay (let’s blame the holidays and how it completely fills up writer’s block), but its all gravy now. You’ve probably noticed Hermione’s part as being shamelessly scathing and too… well, un-Hermione-like. Three guesses why. makes face but fear not! Skye has resumed her post as second writer (after I, Slone, have written the entire chapter), so expect more authentic Hermione POVs in the coming chapters.
Also, a massive thanks to everyone who has waited for this chapter and read until the very end (including this postscript), and most especially to those who offered to beta for me. I’ve been meaning to email two people back, but that was before the hols, and before I was beaten down to dirt by a horrible case of writer’s block. And since Skye has returned, well, I have my beta back! smiles
So thanks to everyone, sorry for the disappointment (if in case I’ve left any) and you’ll be seeing more of us in a hurry. We’ll try to update more regularly if possible.
Please review! :)
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