Chapter 27 : Chapter Twenty seven
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“What’s the occasion?” He questioned and invited them to sit. His eyes lingered on Carmella particularly.
“Firstly, get some aurors to catch Paolo Parechi.” Hermione ordered.
“What? Why?” Ron asked sharply, utterly perplexed now.
“Just do it!”
“I need a reason, first. I can’t just do it.”
“Because he’s the one that murdered Carmella’s father,” Hermione explained and watched as Ron froze before sighing and he shook his head in disbelief.
“Hermione,” he began in a wary voice. “If this is the latest thing to prove Malfoy’s…”
“It’s not. Carmella, tell him.”
Carmella relived her story and shock and horror dawned on Ron’s face. He stood up abruptly and rushed out of his office for a while, gone to get some aurors before he returned. Hermione was feeling delightfully exultant and energized; she was only a short period away from seeing Draco again.
“We wait until he comes. If he doesn’t confess, we use veritaserum. It shouldn’t take them that long.” He said in a low voice, his eyes, still unable to believe what had happened. “This is going to make me a laughing stock. I can’t believe I got it so wrong.”
“Don’t worry, Ronald. We all make mistakes.” Gabriella said soothingly and he looked up at her and smiled weakly.
“Thanks,” he said meekly. “Congratulations by the way. Harry told me all about your engagement. He’s here somewhere, do you want me to call him?”
“Thank you. And yes, I’d love to see him.” Gabriella smiled, her eyes brightening at the sound of Harry’s name. Ron got his secretary to find Harry and soon, Harry was walking towards them. Gabriella kissed him in greeting and Hermione rushed up to hug him, almost yelling the good news.
“What? How did this happen?” he asked, his curiosity highly piqued. Deciding not to burden Carmella with having to relive her story once more, Hermione quickly explained with the help of Gabriella and Harry’s emerald eyes were wide by the time they were done.
“That was a pretty well thought out conspiracy,” he admitted. “I bet Ron’s kicking himself.”
Hermione turned to look at Ron and found him scowling to himself as he paced behind his desk. He was kicking himself: mentally. She left Harry and Gabriella and sat down in one of the comfortable leather chairs, her thought wandering out of the Ministry and to Azkaban. Did Draco know that within a few hours he would be free?
For almost two years, she had not seen him and it had been two years too long. Her eyes closed and she revived the last time she had seen him, being dragged away from her, his hands in manacles. It had been almost pitiful to see the Draco Malfoy, son of Lucius Malfoy, being dragged away reluctantly to Azkaban. And wrongly accused of murder at that. They waited. Every second that seemed to tick away felt like an hour to Hermione.
Ron got called away after sometime and his eyes widened and he grimaced as he read the owl that had been sent to him. “He’s put up a chase. The others are after him but he’s got some bloodthirsty vampire friends with him. I’ll have to go help the others. Harry, coming?”
Gabriella looked like she had every intention of telling Harry to keep his arse firmly seated, but she shook her head in a resigned sort of way before pulling his face to hers hungrily.
“Don’t get killed. We’re going to get married remember?” she muttered ruefully against his lips before she let him go, her fingers lingering on his hand. Hermione quickly wished them good luck and watched as they disapparated. Don’t get killed, her thoughts echoed Gabriella hollowly.
Hours passed by. How long they stayed sat in silence in Ron’s office, Hermione did not know. All she knew was that it was nearing midnight. Gabriella was nervously pacing the office, her eyes sparkling, on the verge of tears. Carmella was sat, almost immobile, in a corner of the office, her eyes hard and staring down at the floor. Hermione would have gone to try and calm Gabriella but she was feeling agitated herself and she feared that what comforting words should come out of her mouth might turn out to be untrue. In a moment of absolute lunacy, she wished she’d continued Divination.
What if Harry and Ron were killed? Would Paolo escape and come to find Carmella and kill her? Would he bring his bloodthirsty friends with him? Who would be here to let Draco free? She hated to dwell on the thought. A few minutes passed in silence and Hermione was surprised by the several ‘pops’ that broke the silence after a short while. She flinched and stood up to find the office filled with half a dozen aurors, all injured and supporting cuts and gashes but looking triumphant, their wands pointed to the centre of the office. In the middle of the office stood Harry and Ron, Paolo stood in between them, swearing fluently in Italian and snarling irately.
Carmella had risen to her feet tentatively and was staring at her cousin apprehensively. Paolo made to lunge out of Harry and Ron’s grasp towards her and she instinctively took a step back as Harry and Ron restrained him, their wands simultaneously pointing to his head.
“You don’t want to try anything you’ll regret, Mr Parechi. Any inappropriate behaviour here and you just might find yourself ready for a kiss from the Dementors. I’m sure they’d be happy to see you; they’ve been awfully hungry lately,” Ron hissed threateningly and Hermione finally saw him in his element. He was good at what he did…when he did it correctly.
Harry set him down in a chair before immobilizing him and he sat opposite him, his face hard. There were several cuts on his face and he was supporting a bleeding gash in his arm. Gabriella looked like she was restraining herself from rushing over to tend to his wounds.
“Mr Parechi, we expect you to cooperate, otherwise we’ll have to do this the hard way,” he said seriously. “We want the truthful answers from you. There is no use in lying. We’ll find out if you have been lying.”
Paolo’s immobile face was bitter and his eyes showed as he struggled against the charm but to an avail; he remained as still as a statue.
“There’s no use in resistance, Mr Parechi. That spell can only be revoked by the person that initiated it. I don’t have any intention of releasing you soon. Cooperation, Mr Parechi.” Harry reminded him grimly. When he put up no struggle, he continued.
“Good. Now there are a few questions we’d like you to answer. Can you do that?”
Paolo did not reply. His eyes flashed dangerously to Carmella, death spitting out from them before they scanned the room. His eyes landed on Hermione curiously before they narrowed into a glare.
“Okay,” Harry sighed. “Did you murder your late uncle, the previous Italian Minister for Magic, Francesco Parechi?” Harry asked in an official tone, starting with the easiest first.
Paolo did not reply. His dark, mud-brown eyes glared hatefully up at Harry, who didn’t look surprised by this reaction and proceeded to ask another question.
“Did you slip the poison into the medicinal potion Mr Malfoy regularly gave to your uncle?”
Harry seemed well informed of the story despite Hermione’s rushed explanation. Obviously, Ron must’ve filled him in. Paolo did not reply and his lips contorted before spilling out a profanity in Italian. Clearly, he wasn’t going to cooperate.
“Mace, get me some veritaserum.” Harry instructed lightly to a young, dark haired Auror. He nodded and left. Harry got up and briefly left Paolo to go and greet Gabriella and Ron sat down next to Hermione. They sat in silence for a while before he broke it softly.
“I’m sorry,” he muttered, almost inaudibly.
“What?” Hermione breathed sharply.
“I’m sorry for…well, pretty much everything. I’m sorry I wrongly accused your…boyfriend…of murder. I’m sorry I haven’t been keeping in touch with you as frequently as I should have. I’m sorry for not supporting you when you needed me. I’m sorry for not congratulating you on the birth of your son and I’m sorry I’ve been such a bloody useless friend.” He avoided her eyes.
Hermione was expecting all but an apology from Ron. Especially for all the things he’d mentioned. Her eyes wide, she turned to fully look at him and said in a low voice, “Ron, you’re my best friend, if anything was to happen to you, I think I’d go insane. You and Harry mean more to me than brothers. I can forgive all you’ve done.”
He looked up, his blue eyes wide and surprised, his expression innocently shocked. “Seriously, Hermione?”
She laughed quietly, unable to restrain herself. “Seriously. Now get back to your job.” She nodded at Mace who had come back, a small clear bottle in his hands. He handed it to Harry who moved back towards Paolo, his fingers pulling the wooden stopper from the neck of the bottle.
“Veritaserum, Mr Parechi. Three drops and we can have you spilling your innermost secrets. Now, I’ll give you one last chance or…” he swung the little bottle between his thumb and finger, wordlessly indicating what would happen. Paolo stared at the Veritaserum with great loathing and he remained silent, his lips firmly together in a hard, disapproving line. Evidently, he didn’t like the sound of Veritaserum, but the idea of cooperating clearly didn’t appeal much to him either.
“Very well, then,” Harry sighed and pulled out his wand. With a light flick of his wand, Paolo’s lips parted and he slipped three drops of the translucent potion onto the disgustingly moist, plum tongue. Paolo’s eyes went out of focus before they readjusted and all aversion was gone from them now. Simply submission remained.
Satisfied, Harry sat up straighter and began his interrogation. And to every single question, Paolo replied in a low, hollow tone.
“Did you murder you uncle?”
“Because I wanted to take up his position as Minister and because it also gave me a chance to frame that Draco Malfoy and imprison him.”
“How did you commit the murder?”
“I sneaked into Draco’s room and slipped a poison into the medicinal potion he always gave my uncle at dinner. Simple and cunning.”
And it had been simple and cunning, but the consequences of what had happened had been terrible, especially to the ones who had been affected by it. Harry had told him as much and he had shrugged, saying he didn’t care for other’s feelings.
“That’s good to know. I’m sure the Dementors will feel the same way about you,” Harry had said grimly, his tone sardonic. Harry finished interrogating him over an hour later before he turned to Hermione, a small, tired smile upon his features.
“We’re taking this filth to Azkaban, Hermione. And while we’re there, we’ll get Malfoy with us.”
Tears, warm, salty and happy, escaped her eyes and she flung her arms around a shocked and confused Harry. He had certainly not been expecting that reaction.
“Thank you,” she mumbled thickly into his shoulder and pulled away from him.
“No problem. Go back to the chateau and we’ll bring him back there. Gabriella, you go with Hermione. I’ll take you home when I’m done,” he yawned.
“Don’t be late.” Gabriella said, her hands reaching to tenderly stroke his cut before she kissed him lightly. He, Ron and the aurors left to take a portkey to Azkaban and Hermione, Gabriella and Carmella were left.
“I cannot thank you enough for your bravery to come and tell us. You have no idea how much it means to me,” Hermione gratified. Carmella smiled.
“Thank you too. Without your encouragement, I probably wouldn’t have come here and Paolo would still be at large. Please remain in touch, it’d be awfully good if you could tell me how you are doing every once in a while.” She said softly, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear.
“Of course. It was great meeting you.”
They shook hands and she disapparated. Hermione turned to Gabriella.
“We should head home and tell Narcissa the good news,” she smiled.
“We should. We should also get some sleep,” she yawned. They disapparated to the chateau and found the house quiet. Gabriella fell asleep on the sofa downstairs and Hermione went upstairs to check on Narcissa and Alex. Alex was fast asleep in his cot and Narcissa was gently sleeping in her room but she woke up with a start at hearing Hermione enter her room.
“Hermione? Is that you?” she asked, her voice sleep-worn.
“Yes,” Hermione replied softly into the dark.
“How did it go?” Narcissa asked curiously, all traces of sleep deserting her and she rushed to Hermione, pulling on a warm robe to keep herself from the bitter cold.
“They caught Paolo and they’ve gone to put him in Azkaban. They’re bringing Draco back with them.”
Narcissa could read the smile in Hermione’s voice like brail and she smiled too. She would finally see her son again. Finally embrace him like she’d used to do to him as a child. Finally have him safely with her. She’d be more than content soon enough.
“Go get some rest, Hermione.” She suggested to Hermione, but the brunette shook her head.
“No. I’m going to wait for him. I want to see him. I said I’d wait for him…” And she left Narcissa’s room and went downstairs. She walked out of the chateau and sat on the marble stairs that lead to the magnificent doors and waited. He’d be here soon enough. Soon…
Her eyelids were heavy but her heart felt giddy. She would finally see him again. She would see that straw-coloured hair of his, those mesmerizing silver eyes, that angular nose of his and those peachy lips. Those lips that drove her insane. Her eyes closed and she savoured the memory of the last time they’d come into contact with her skin. Almost two years ago…almost seven hundred and thirty days ago…a time too long and too painful… Cold, icy droplets of rain began to fall and she felt them fall sharply onto her face. She sat up and spread her arms wide and let the rain wash over her, washing away her pain with it. The rain became heavier and she stepped under the archway of the stairs leading to the doors, sheltering herself from the incessant, irate rain. The air was icy cold and the night was bitter but she did not care. She could feel nothing. Nothing but the anticipation of his arrival.
She waited. And waited. And waited. The rain had not ceased but she continued to wait on the steps and she got her reward. Through the sheets of rain pouring from the heaven above, she saw three blurred figures appear from nowhere and without thinking about it, she rushed down the steps and ran to them, her eyes set on the tall blonde on the right. She hit him forcefully and flung her arms around him, clinging on for dear life. Her tears fell heavily but it was hard to distinguish them amongst the rivulets of rain rolling down her face.
He did not pause to think and hugged her back tightly, lifting her to her feet and spinning her before his eyes. He had not seen her for a long time…too long a time. The other two stepped away, watching briefly before disappearing inside the chateau.
Draco looked down at her and sighed in peace. She had proved him innocent and she had earned his liberty and now, he wanted to spend the rest of it with her. He looked down at her and drank her in greedily. His memory had not done her justice; she looked far more beautiful than he had cared to remember. Her eyes were large and tearful, their astonishing hazel colour almost black in the dark of the morning, her nose so small and angular, her skin so smooth and her lips…so sensually full and soft. He wanted to kiss her. And so he did.
Cupping her cheek, he bought her lips to his in a heavenly, slow, loving kiss. He had forgotten what it was like to have her lips on his. Like velvet, smoothly gliding against his. A warm glow spread through his body at her touch and he withdrew slightly, his lips resting softly against hers.
“You came back,” she murmured against his lips.
“To you. I came back to you. Remember, ‘come back to me’?” he breathed, his lips moving to trail light kisses across her wet jaw before resting at her ear. He had not forgotten the location of her sensitive spot and he kissed gently, his lips sucking lightly at her sweet, wet skin.
“Draco,” she gasped in that voice he adored and he pulled her lips back against his, this time meeting in a greedy, fiery kiss. She responded to him, her lips moving furiously against his, her tongue clashing with his in a battle for dominance. Her hands held on to him for dear life, making sure that he was real, that this was no figment of her imagination. His hands ran wildly through her wet hair whilst hers played with the hairs on the back of his neck.
She pulled back, gasping for air and studied him closely. He hadn’t changed much. His hair had grown a lot and he had stubble but that was the only change about him. His eyes were still silver and mesmerizing, his lips smooth and peachy, his skin still chalky pale and a mischievous glint was still shimmering, though faintly, in his eyes.
“I missed you,” she breathed sincerely into his ear, burying her face in his neck and inhaling deeply, the scent making her light-headed.
“I missed you too,” he replied quietly over the din of the rain and pulled her in for a soft, slow, tender
Kiss, much unlike their previous heated one. A lot of emotions went into this kiss wordlessly: Longing, guilt, grief, happiness but above all, love was the main element. She sighed into his mouth, knowing that he was here now and that he would not be taken away from her again.
A/N: Finito. Hope you all enjoyed.
Just a few people to thank: Melissa, Parise, Janelle, turtle, Zaineb and the lovely Daisy. And just thought I should tell you what happens to Jasper.
Jasper: Well, he obviously lived in Cannes. In my head, he obviously meets me there and we have a whirlwind Romance before getting hitched in Vegas and then going to live in Auckland. But honestly, I think I might’ve thought him gay at one time coz he was way too hot to be straight. But no, we are currently living in Auckland by the harbour and beaches (in my head).
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter characters are copyright to JK Rowling, many parts of the story, some of the plot belong to Melissa D, who wrote . I merely wished to take a different interpretation on the story.