Chapter 23 : Mercy
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I hope you are doing well and are enjoying the New Year, which has hopefully brought nothing but good times thus far for you and your families.
I am writing to you today to finally reward your unbelievable patience and support with the next installment of Blinded, a chapter I know I promised you several months ago but has only come to me as of last night. It appears that as I get closer and closer to the end of this story, my writer’s block gets more and more severe, making it extremely difficult to finish a chapter.
I hope you do enjoy this twenty-third chapter, Mercy. I hope it clarifies some of the ambiguities of the previous two chapters and provides a little bit of direction as to where the story is headed.
In this chapter, we see a return of the elemental magic alluded to in Chapter 17 and though a bit technical I hope you find it interesting as I dive into new facets of the Rebound-of-Fate. New relationships continue to develop as old ones fall apart; and, we see Inter-house solidarity continue to be of great concern, as does the past. I hope to come back and revise this chapter at some point but I thought I would post it for you anyways.
As always, thank you for your patience and support. You are the reason I have yet to give up on this story, in spite of my writer’s block.
More is definitely to come!
Just a few yards away, Hermione sat up disoriented by the sound of screaming. It was dark but not completely because she could see Draco’s face, cold and immobile right beside her.
Her legs were intertwined with his and though she tried to be careful so as not to disturb his beautiful form, she had no choice but to rather ungracefully place one arm on either side of his chest to support herself in a very awkward push-up pose.
As if on cue, Draco came to, dragging with him a haze of unconsciousness and confusion. He stared up into Hermione’s face, and she was very grateful to know that he could not see her.
He could, however, feel her sweet breath on his face and knew that she was very close. He smiled, “What are you doing?” he whispered, resorting to hushed tones, as he was unsure of their location. He, too, could hear the screaming and looked in the direction of the quidditch pitch. “What is that?” he scrunched his face in discomfort; the noise was giving him a headache.
“I don’t know!” she said while trying to look in the direction of the evident panic, still awkwardly perched overtop of Draco’s body.
Ignoring the distressed voice, he pulled her close, her arms collapsing at the surprise of his embrace. “Where are we?” he breathed seductively into her ear.
She used his obvious curiosity as an excuse to break from his grasp. “I don’t know,” she admitted, sitting up. It was strange—the screaming had stopped and something much more troubling had taken its place—it couldn’t be laughter, could it?
“One minute we were in the corridor arguing over…” and then she saw it, lying lifeless about three feet from Draco’s right foot.
“The rose,” he finished.
“And the next, we are plunged into the darkness of the night on what seems to be the outskirts of the quidditch pitch,” she remarked rather perceptively.
“It’s dark huh?” he mused. “So, now you know what its like!” He smirked so that she could tell he was just being his usual sarcastic self. She stood up, however, gesturing for him to follow.
She was leading the way towards the center of the pitch where she could make out two distinct voices. It was strange, how familiar one of them seemed to be—she shivered, it was definitely not a good familiar. She tightened her grip on Draco’s hand, leading him albeit a bit more slowly towards the source of the sound.
They could pick up on distinct pieces of the conversation now. Hermione knew that they must be close.
It was faint but definitely audible. A female voice managed, “What are you thinking about?”
Draco stopped at the sound of this, listening intently. His face had gone all rigid and pale but Hermione forced him to inch closer to the pair sitting in the direct center of the pitch—close, almost arm-in-arm.
“Honestly?” a voice responded, this one male, deep and inviting.
“Yeah, honestly,” the female voice replied. Draco stopped again. Hermione turned to him, his face was cold as ice—he seemed to be entranced by the female voice as if he found the bittersweet enunciation to be familiar.
“I was thinking about,” there was a slight pause and Hermione smiled. Maybe from personal experience but she could tell the man hesitated ever so slightly because he liked her, whoever the graceful blonde was sitting beside him. “I was thinking about how Slytherin would definitely give Gryffindor a run for the Inter-House Quidditch Cup if they had you as their seeker,” he continued, flatteringly.
Draco was completely beside himself. No longer ineffable, his eyes were wide with fury.
“Draco, are you okay?” Hermione whispered tapping his shoulder in an effort to retrieve his attention.
He said nothing until he heard the woman’s reply. “James Potter, you are such a liar.” Hermione’s head snapped to the couple sitting before her very eyes, a painful realization finally stepping from the shadows of her subconscious.
“Hermione, is that--?” Draco scathed, inaudibly.
“Your mother,” she confirmed. He made to leap in the direction of his mother’s voice wanting nothing more than to tear her from her companion; but, Hermione was too attuned to his every move. She held him back.
“Draco, we can’t. Draco, calm down!” she said as loudly as she could without risking detection. He heeded her words, still glaring menacingly in the direction of their voices. “Draco,” her voice was quivering with panic as she said his name for the third time in less than ten seconds. “I think something has gone horribly wrong.”
“Yes, my mother in the company of that James Potter,” but he choked as he said the name, coming, at last, to the same realization Hermione had made just minutes before. “James Potter?” he questioned.
“James Potter,” Hermione nodded, trying very hard not to breakdown at the mere thought of her being stuck—yes, stuck—in the past with Draco Malfoy.
Chapter 23: Mercy.
Caught between an onslaught of nausea and disbelief, Draco felt his knees buckle under, his head spinning out of control under the weight of that name. James Potter.
From a young age, he had been taught to loathe that surname without giving thought as to why. Yet, the only thing Draco felt was a wave of unexpected shock that hit him hard in the abdomen, leaving him ineffable with a deafening ringing in his ears. He fell to the ground, cushioned by the grip of silent resignation, which spread quickly through his veins filling every cavity in his body with an inexplicable anger.
“Draco!” A hurried whisper graced his eardrums. Draco’s eyes fluttered open at the sound of Hermione’s voice, blinking rapidly as if trying to clarify an image—though the reflex ultimately did nothing to brighten the obscurity in which he remained.
“Draco, are you alright?” she whispered again. Sounds were becoming clearer, as he regained control over his remaining four senses. His head was still pounding with a mixture of confusion, anger and incredulity—but the sound of her voice was truly calming. He felt his heartbeat slow to a measurable pace as the reality of his surroundings began to set back in.
He sat up suddenly, knocking with great force into Hermione, who out of genuine concern had been leaning over his fallen self.
“Ouch!” she unleashed, managing to keep her distress to a low whisper as the throbbing in Draco’s forehead quickly spread to her own.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” he pleaded, trying to reach out to her in a gesture of comfort. Unable to see, however, he missed her by at least a broom’s length, waving his arms around like a fool in the complete opposite direction of where she too had fallen.
His words were not as muffled as Hermione’s had been and were met consequently with a compelling, “Shhh!” rather than a bout of reassurance.
Draco surrendered to the silence between them, allowing instead for Hermione’s thoughts to flow freely through his head.
His mind was greeted by a long list of concerns, which he could now feel emanating from her body language and quick pacing. Apparently, Hermione had recovered quickly from their accidental collision and was now standing up right, lost behind a veneer of calm panic.
It was an incredible feeling, being trapped. The air seemed colder and sharper on her skin knowing that she had nowhere to turn and no one to depend upon, her one companion incapacitated by his own panic.
Draco frowned at this, but was comforted by the quick realization that she neither blamed him for his moment of presumed weakness nor was he alone in it. Though Hermione’s initial disorientation had long passed through her system having been well versed in the art of time travel since her third-year at Hogwarts, traces of panic still filled the hollow cavities in her chest with silent hysteria and sharp pangs of nausea.
Only after forcing herself to ignore such impediments to collecting her composure did she begin to recall something Dumbledore had mentioned to her in her third year.
“You must not be seen,” Dumbledore had stated explicitly.
Images of the Ancient Ruins and Divinations classrooms and snippets of conversations with Ron followed this particular memory, streaming through Draco’s head as they did hers. For some reason, he found his cheeks flushing red with heat, burning with jealousy even at the thought of Ron, which of course did nothing for the traces of pain still residing between his temples.
He shook the feeling from his beneath his skin and continued to peruse her mind, hopefully still undetected.
Can this be time-travel? James Potter, Narcissa Black—yes, yes of course, it must be. There is no other explanation.
Hermione had quickened her pace, engraving into the ground beside him a distinct trail of footprints as she walked back and forth. Draco could hear the firmness of purpose she placed in every step she took. For a moment, his heart raced in excitement only to be replaced by the haunting anger he continued to feel.
Hermione continued. But how did we get here? If not by time turner, the only conventional means of time travel regulated by the Ministry, how is it possible that we are here—with them?
Hermione stopped. She looked up into the near distance. Just a few paces away, James Potter and Narcissa Black were sitting side by side, their gazes locked in mutual and growing admiration despite the quickly rising sun. She had but an hour to figure out a plan, before the grounds were plunged into the effervescence of the morning sun illuminating her and Draco’s now hidden location. If they were in another time, they had to remain hidden so as not to effect history. She continued her pacing.
Draco turned in the direction that Hermione had just been gazing, his ears straining to hear the voices of his mother and her unanticipated companion. They weren’t saying much; yet, he could hear the flirtatious undertone now lining every word to escape their mouths and knew intuitively that their conversation on some level had long strayed from its innocuous beginning. He growled inaudibly, his facial expression festering with disgust.
I just can’t understand how this happened. After everything we’ve been through in the last few months and now this… Hermione’s frustration distracted Draco momentarily from his seeping repugnance as he turned back to her thoughts.
Having grown tired of pacing back and forth, Hermione had finally sat down next to him, twirling the rose, which had apparently made the journey with them, carefully between two fingers so as to avoid its piercing thorns.
One minute we were crouching on the floor, she continued to herself unaware of Draco’s furtive lurking, and the next we were here, sprawled under the stars next to Narcissa and James. Coincidence? Hermione paused for a moment, distracted by her sharp, momentary pain in her right index finger. Preoccupied, she had allowed the rose to prick her finger. Coincidence? she thought again, the rose in her hand hiding a minute trail of blood now seeping towards her palm. The rose radiated with an unusual beauty even for a rose— so simple, almost elemental, she thought.
That’s it! Draco interjected. Hermione jumped at the sound of his voice, once again streaming unexpectedly through her head. The look of fury upon Hermione’s face to follow her realizing he had been eavesdropping in on her mind this whole time was probably fiercer than anything Draco had seen prior to this moment in his life, and he was thankful for the first time that he would not be able to “appreciate” it due to his current disability. She must have picked up on this and supplemented her look with an effective slap across the face that quite easily got her message across, in spite of his being vision impaired. How she wished the occulmency had worked.
I deserved that, he continued massaging his cheekbone with the palm of his hand. But will you at least hear me out?
He could hear her huff with indignation and took her subsequent silence to mean, “go ahead, if you must”. The rose—it was a kind of portkey that transported us from Hogwarts to the quidditch grounds, right?
But Draco, Hermione protested telepathically, the rose if it was any kind of portkey transcended time. No normal portkey has that capability only time turners do.
Exactly my point, he affirmed. Think about it. A rose is quite an unusual choice for a portkey isn’t it?
Hermione had never given the idea any thought. She was intrigued and remained silent, waiting for Draco to continue his telepathic tirade.
Ordinary muggle objects are usually used for portkeys like shoes, pots, pans, and trash, even by my pureblood parents.
Hermione smiled inwardly as Draco continued. Perhaps for the first time in their entire relationship, she noticed that Draco had used the word muggle without hesitation, without derision. Perhaps, more importantly still, he had separated himself from his “pureblood” parents. She couldn’t explain it but she felt something flare up at the pit of her stomach—something that felt oddly like hope, but even so, the flame extinguished as quickly as it had come. She had gone down that path once before—she knew it would never work, not with him anyways.
But the rose—the rose is far from ordinary. Draco was getting very excited and almost forgot to keep their conversation strictly telepathic, slipping every now and then into hushed whispers.
The rose is elemental—and holds the same powers as the four elements Dumbledore mentioned—what were they? He made a face as if using all of his mental capacity to remember exactly how Dumbledore had phrased it. Fire, rain, earth and wind.
Hermione could finally see where he was going with this. So because the rose had been the portkey instead of a random object, it transcended established laws of magic making it possible to travel between times with out a time turner? She posed, intrigued by the implications of his hypothesis.
Draco was nodding fervently. It must have tapped into the rebound-of-fate somehow, giving it a medium to control us further—to impose on us directly.
“You make it seem as if the rebound-of-fate has a life of its own,” she said a bit too loudly. She clasped her hands to her mouth, glancing in the direction of James and Narcissa who were thankfully too lost within each other’s company to notice her fleeting outburst.
Actually that is exactly what I am saying. Draco continued, returning their conversation to the security of their own minds. I don’t know who enchanted the rose in the first place but they surely had some knowledge of its elemental significance. Once it came into contact with the rebound, its effects must have been exacerbated or intensified bringing us here for no other reason than the rebound wanted us to come here.
Hermione was astounded by Draco’s knowledge of elemental magic. His conversation with Dumbledore must have affected him more than he had let on when he was describing it to her afterwards; nevertheless, she quickly released herself of her disbelief. His logic made sense and that was all that mattered to her at the moment.
Draco continued. Dumbledore told me that elemental magic is extremely powerful, incomprehensible even to the average witch or wizard and can rarely be tampered with. He said few people have been able to harness its power, able only to manage its effects.
So the question remains why does the rebound want us to be here? And do the problems of regular time travel still apply? Hermione asked, Dumbledore’s warning still underlying her every thought.
At her last comment, Draco stood up. “There’s only one way to find out.” With a huge intake of air, he belted out a huge scream to rival even the most terrifying of banshees, piercing the tranquil silence with all the strength his vocal chords could muster.
A painful silence followed in which Hermione saw her entire life, as she knew it, flash before her eyes.
If Hermione hadn’t been horrified by the possible consequences of Draco’s rash decision, she would have found the scene to be quite comical. If she hadn’t known any better, Draco quite resembled the muggle Tarzan, beating his chest ferociously like an ape heading into the depths of the jungle preparing for the battle of the century; but again, she was absolutely horrified and found the scene to be anything but comical.
Whipping around to see whether or not Narcissa and James had heard or at all been affected by Draco’s eruption, she was elated and admittedly a bit confused to realize they persisted, undisturbed and unaware of their co-existence.
Despite his triumph, he received another momentous slap in his left shoulder from Hermione that not only knocked the wind out of him, but also had him keeling over in painful exuberance, his groaning muffled by simultaneous fits of laughter.
Idiot! You could have risked everything! Hermione screamed across to his mind.
“No risk, no reward,” he chuckled. He knew he was capitalizing a little bit too much on the state of her nerves but the Slytherin in him just couldn’t resist. A little more seriously, he continued, “At least we know now that normal rules no longer apply.”
Hermione had tuned him out, pondering their situation further while still recovering from the near heart attack Draco had almost induced. “It seems,” she began, abandoning their efforts at telepathy now that they knew they were incapable of impacting their surroundings, “that we are in a kind of memory.” She was tracing her own memory back to Tom Riddle’s diary and Harry’s ability to relive certain memories Riddle desired to show him.
“Memory travel?” Draco questioned.
“Yeah, and until we’ve seen what the rebound wants us to see, experience or realize, for that matter, we cannot return back to our time,” she finished, slightly disheartened by her own recitation. “I guess you could say we are at fate’s mercy.”
“So, what is it that the rebound wants us to realize?” Draco asked, rather rhetorically.
“Something to do with your mother and James,” she offered. Draco shuddered at the mentioning of his mother’s name in conjunction with his. “They were affected by the rebound just like us, Draco,” Hermione said, noticing the familiar scowl on his face at the mention of Harry’s father.
It did make sense. He just still couldn’t wrap his head around the idea of his mother and him. All this time, his parents had been hiding this deep secret, masquerading behind what he now realized to be a fallacious allegiance to the Dark Arts. Draco felt like such a poser within his own skin, unaware of who he truly was. It was an uncomfortable feeling, itchy even.
“What do we do now?” he asked.
Hermione picked up the rose that had fallen between them. She revolved it slowly within the palm of her hand, counting the number of thorns in its stem. “We wait.”
Ron sat in the Great Hall, starved yet unable to satiate his hunger. It had been almost twelve hours since leaving Dumbledore’s office with Pansy and though the Headmaster had assured them that they were not in fact the cause of Hermione and Draco’s disappearing act, his guilt had been anything but assuaged.
He had been sure that what they had planned would bring Hermione closer to him—the one thing he believed he desired most in the world. Yet, sitting across from Pansy Parkinson at the Slytherin table in the Great Hall, the light of the evening’s moon radiating from the depths of her eyes, he was no longer so sure about what exactly it was he wanted.
He had loved Hermione, but after everything that had happened with Draco in the past several months he no longer knew if he still did. It was a realization he was having difficulty dealing with, as evinced by the untouched almost pristine plates of food sitting before him.
The Great Hall had emptied as usual following dinner, leaving Pansy and Ron among the last of the few stragglers to finish eating. Ron’s friends had all but disowned him at seeing him enter the room alongside Pansy. Though he usually gave a great deal about what people thought about him and his family, he ignored the stares for a change and followed Pansy to one end of her House’s table. He never thought he would be one to engage in the inter house camaraderie that had upset Hogwarts’ social homogeneity since Hermione and Draco “happened”, but sitting across from Pansy, he thought—albeit temporarily—that maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing.
He looked up at her, watching her sip the last of her pumpkin chowder. They hadn’t spoken since they had left Dumbledore’s office, nor had they actually looked at one another—simultaneously at least. It was disconcerting, how unbearable he found the silence between them to be. He wanted so desperately to break it, yet felt obligated to obey his patience—something he was not usually known for doing. Hermione, if she were here, could attest to that fact. Ron smiled inwardly.
How desperately he wanted to know what was going through Pansy’s mind; if she was freaking out as much as he was—if she had any inklings of a plan to rectify what they both knew needed to be rectified as soon as magically possible.
She looked up, a bit surprised to find Ron staring so intently at her. He was worried; she could tell by the slight frown in his bone structure and the melancholic profundity of his stare. She stared back into Ron’s eyes, forcing him to look away—his cheeks flushed in what appeared to be embarrassment as he looked down at his plate, but what really happened to be frustration with her and her presumed silence.
Neither she nor Ron would be the ones to break the silence. Instead with a rather dramatic cry, Parvati Patil came running through the Great Hall from the foyer, tears flushing down her cheeks while managing to annunciate three words of complete anguish between painful sobs. “I hate Slytherins!”
Pansy looked up, a bit shocked as she watched Parvati, a girl of conventional propriety, run through the Great Hall with impassioned fury, towards her sister who was still sitting amongst a small group of her Ravenclaw classmates at the neighboring table.
Padma was taken aback by her sister’s uncharacteristic outburst and looked extremely angered by the explanation Parvati seemed to be giving between howls of emotional torment. She was pointing towards the staircase, clutching her heart with the utmost intensity. Though Padma tried to calm her twin down, wiping the tears staining her sister’s face a rosy shade of red, Parvati was an absolute mess.
“Isn’t she dating, Blaise?” Pansy asked Ron, slightly confused by the Parvati’s emotional collapse.
Ron nodded. “Yeah, last I heard in the Gryffindor common room, the two of them were getting pretty serious. Seamus was going on an on about how she and Blaise have been spending all of this time together and how they are making plans for the holidays. I think she was going to meet his parents. Seamus was pretty torn up about the whole idea. He has always liked Parvati even when she went to the Yule Ball with Harry three years back,” Ron chuckled.
“I wonder why she is so upset. Hate is a pretty strong word to be using when her boyfriend is in Slytherin, isn’t it?” Pansy said.
“It doesn’t look like he is her boyfriend anymore,” Ron mumbled rather perceptively for his standards.
Pansy couldn’t understand it. Was the inter house solidarity she and Ron had tried so hard to discourage that easily broken? Strangely enough, after seeing Parvati in tears over a failed inter-house romance, Pansy felt a wave of unexpected disappointment befall her. Whether she was growing soft to the idea of Hogwarts’ changed social landscape or just disappointed to realize her scheme of removing Hermione and Draco in order to return things at Hogwarts to normal was working with little effort on her part, she had no idea.
All she knew was they had to get them back. Hogwarts without Hermione and Draco was not as she had expected. Gazing up at Ron again, who had finally managed to start eating, Pansy couldn’t help but smile to herself—Hogwarts without Hermione and Draco was definitely not what she had expected.
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