It was around 4 p.m. when Hermione woke up from her nap and not because she was feeling well rested but because she heard some muffled conversations downstairs. She blinked two or three times; the bed was empty but as she craned her neck over the foot of the bed she saw Draco sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall and reading something.
He heard her shuffle and looked up. “Oh, did I wake you?” he asked.
She nodded lazily. “Your reading is so disruptive,” she joked sarcastically to which he smiled. “What book is that?”
“They’re documents,” he explained, holding it up to show her. “From the Ministry.”
Barring the first few seconds of utter confusion, Hermione understood the voices from downstairs. “Harry’s here?” she asked.
“He’s talking with Eli right now,” Draco said. “I figured I should stay up here. He doesn’t seem too keen to talk to me.”
“He’s upset about Ron,” she said. “It’s not your fault.”
Hermione got off the bed and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Her face was worn and aged beyond her years with mild remnants of the salty tears. She was wearing the same clothes that she had worn two days ago and her hair had convulsed into a large mass of frizz.
“I’m going to go shower,” she said. “I’ll be right out.”
“The burns were sealed,” Eli explained. “Fortunately, they weren’t as bad as Master Malfoy’s injuries so he will just sustain some minor aches until it all clears up.”
Harry nodded but couldn’t hide the concern on his face. “And he was alright when you last saw him?” he asked.
“I assure you, Mr. Potter, that he was.”
There was the sound of a door closing and then Draco appeared into the kitchen a few minutes later, carrying the thick pile of papers which included official Ministry documents, newspaper clippings and personal letters. Harry stiffened very slightly at the sight of Malfoy but not so much that an impartial observer would have noticed.
“Here,” Draco said, placing the stack on the table. “Around three of them seem to fit.”
Harry nodded. “Which three?”
“Edmund Abbott for sure,” Draco said and then reached for a small set of papers from the top as he took a seat across from Harry at the dining table. Eli began to prepare some sort of a dinner. “It says in the missing persons file that he was last seen leaving the pub at around three in the afternoon but never came home.”
“Right,” Harry agreed.
Draco put his finger on the map that accompanied the report. “He probably got taken right around here, near the Valley stretch. It’s surrounded by a whole load of trees and the path is also very sketchy. Hector was most likely the one who did it too. He’s the only one big enough to physically take on Abbott.”
“What about Sigmund Jewell?” Harry said.
“Too much physical evidence left at the scene,” Draco said, shaking his head. “Lestrange may be a dramatic killer but he’s a very clean kidnapper. That’s why he’s bringing everyone to the Manor before killing them: he wants to savour it and for the moment, Malfoy Manor is the only place he’s safe.”
“Margo Oswald also fit,” he added. “Has her family reported her missing yet?”
Harry shook his head in frustration. “She’s forty nine years old with no living relatives and no friends. Her boss at the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes insists on reporting her only after she’s been missing for more than a week.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “But I think she fits,” he said. “She was taken from her apartment and not a shred of disturbance left in the wake; that one was probably done by Marcus and his dreadfully ugly girlfriend – she has golden eyes, mind you, very disturbing.”
“But why these people?” Eli asked. He had been silent for most of the discussion but as he began to place bread rolls on the table, he skimmed over some of the documents on top.
Draco shrugged and then looked at Harry. “Any ideas?”
“I don’t know,” Harry said. “I’ll get their profiles once we’ve confirmed something. There’s clearly not much evidence.”
“Oh there’s never any evidence with Lestrange. When the man kidnaps, it’s like his victims vanish into thin air.”
“Well, I’ll check the profiles to see if anything comes up.”
“Just for the record, Potter, this is all being done under the table, right?” Draco asked.
Harry reluctantly nodded. “I know what it’s like to want revenge but the lives of my best friends are hanging in your hands,” he said. “Lestrange is yours only if you can guarantee that no one innocent gets hurt.”
“He is mine,” Draco said, feeling an odd surge of gratitude towards Harry. “I’ll have the Manor evacuated before anything happens.”
“I’ll have aurors on standby,” Harry offered and then seeing that Draco was about to protest, added: “No one will do anything unless you ask, don’t worry. But I’d feel better knowing that if all else fails, we could at least save whoever we can.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Draco assured him. He looked at the door, ensuring that Hermione wasn’t anywhere near and then said, “I’m going back to Malfoy Manor by the end of this week to search for Weasley and Pansy. If a fight happens, it happens but I’m going to try and avoid it. Hermione can’t know of it.”
Harry didn’t even bother asking why she couldn’t know. He knew that the moment Hermione would find out, she’d go flying to the Manor as well and that would endanger her. She was a brilliant fighter but Lestrange was a monster. “So you’ll clear out the Manor by the end of this week? Good.”
“It’s very likely that Lestrange won’t even be there,” Draco thought aloud. “I’m not in any physical shape to fight at the moment regardless.”
Eli had started to put the place settings on the dinner table when Hermione walked in with slightly damp hair, a clean face and a blue sweater over black pants. She looked tired but her disposition was significantly more relaxed.
“Harry,” she said, greeting him. “What’s going on?”
The two men shared a quick look before Draco spoke. “We’re figuring out who Lestrange is kidnapping. We’ve got two so far: Edmund Abbott and Margo Oswald.”
“Oh yeah,” Harry began. “Who’s the third one?”
Hermione sat down at the table, inhaling the scent of beans and beef with joy as Draco began to look through the stack of papers. “Ah, here,” he said, pulling out a newspaper article. “Christopher Bruty.”
Hermione took the piece of paper and began reading it out loud. “Though Ministry regulations don’t permit Mrs. Bruty to file a missing report just yet, the 39 year old witch is convinced that her husband, 43 year old Christopher Bruty, has been kidnapped. There is no evidence, however, to suggest that he has been missing except for a faint muffling sound that Mrs. Bruty thinks she heard at night. The following morning she claims to have woken up with unexplained bruises on her arm.”
“Her memory’s been modified,” Draco suggested. “She probably struggled with whoever came in at night, most likely Hector: his memory charms are so badly executed.”
“There are probably more people that he’s taken,” Hermione said.
“Probably,” Draco agreed. “But unless some more articles or reports come up, there’s no way to know.”
“So is that all that’s happened since I fell asleep?” Hermione asked.
“Pretty much,” Draco said. “Eli came back an hour later and he told me everything that had happened. A few hours later, Potter showed up with all the paperwork.”
“Dinner?” Eli said, placing a large bowl of beef and bean stew in front of the three of them.
“You’re staying for dinner, aren’t you?” Hermione asked Harry. “I’d imagine you haven’t eaten anything since yesterday.”
“Well, I kind of have to,” Harry said. “Ginny’s kicked me out of the house.”
“What?” Hermione asked.
Eli began pouring tea into Hermione’s cup as Harry explained his story. “I got home this morning and she obviously asked me what was happening and I didn’t tell her. I said that you guys were safe but at the risk of endangering her and Teddy, it would probably be best if she knew as little as possible.”
“Does she know we’re here?” Draco asked.
“No, and even if she did, she wouldn’t be able to get in,” he said. “She just got really angry and said that if I didn’t trust her, then maybe we weren’t ready to live together. She’s just angry.”
“I’m sorry about this, Harry,” Hermione said. “You can stay here of course.”
“No, I think I’m going to head back to my apartment,” he said. “The Weasleys are coming back from their trip to China in a few weeks anyways. I’d rather not get Ginny involved in this.”
The dinner was eaten mostly in silence since none of them had had a proper meal in a while. Occasional comments were passed about the next steps and it was concluded by the end of the meal, around 5:30 p.m. that Harry would retrieve the personal profiles of these potential victims and drop by tomorrow night with whatever information he could find. Harry also said that it would be best to keep an eye out for any other potential victims in the Daily Prophet, especially before the end of this week which Hermione didn’t understand but Draco seemed to agree with. When Harry left around 10 minutes after that, Hermione realized she had only about an hour in which to tell Draco about Cassius before she had to go meet him.
In her moment of extreme weakness and fear last night she had realized that lying to Draco was causing her guilt. There was no real reason to conceal Cassius’ aid and he would eventually figure it out so it was better he hear it from her than someone else.
The sun had almost set and the beauty of the orange glow that veered itself into the kitchen and onto the white walls stalled Hermione’s confession for a while. She admired the distinct diagonal pattern the rays formed because of the wooden shutters on the window.
“What do you want to say to me?” Draco asked, suddenly.
Hermione had been worrying about how to bring the subject up but she would never have imagined Draco to pry through her thoughts and force her confession onto her lips. “What?” she asked.
“All through dinner you were looking at your food like you had committed a murder.”
“How does one look at food when they’ve killed someone?” she asked. She was stalling, not on purpose but her subconscious kept steering off topic.
“Like you don’t deserve a good meal,” he explained, quite seriously. “You were staring at it as though all you should be eating is stale bread and rancid butter. So, tell me.”
Hermione sat down on the chair again and took a deep breath. She looked out the window at the comforting golden streaks across the sky before Draco took his seat beside her and his grey eyes fixed themselves on her face.
“Yesterday when I left,” she began and noted a twinge of guilt flicker across his face. “No, no… forget that.”
“Just tell me,” he said.
She needed to start at a different point in the story. She knew she should have planned this out but doing so would only have made her feel guiltier, as if she was constructing a story to tell Draco. “Cassius knows who I am,” she said.
Draco didn’t seem completely overthrown with shock and Hermione remembered that he predicted that Cassius had been the one to intercept her personal records. He was, however, distressed as though the confirmation added another worry to his mind. “It’s alright,” he said. “The Fidelus Charm will keep him out.”
“No, it’s not that,” she said. “When you left me at the ball that night in the master bedroom, he was there.”
There we go, she thought as Draco’s expression morphed completely. He stiffened and the mix of curiosity and fear had settled itself in. “He talked to me,” she continued, “about Adria. He’d read the book that I was reading about Adria and then he told me that he wasn’t going to kill me and… he let me go.”
To her surprise, Draco didn’t even bother wondering why Cassius didn’t kill her. In fact, that seemed to be the least of his concerns. “What book?” he asked.
Oh boy. “Flames of the Fiend by Matilda Frogwart,” she said quickly. She didn’t realize that she hadn’t told him about it.
“What else?” he asked.
“I went to meet him yesterday,” she said. She looked away like a child who hadn’t done her homework and lied to her parents about it. “I’m sorry.”
It seemed like everything within Draco collapsed at that very second. Physically, he remained taut but a huge explosion took place within his mind, the remnants of which could be seen in the sudden flicker in his eyes. It was even worse than she had imagined in her worst case scenarios and in an effort to make it go away, she kept on talking.
“He didn’t harm me or anything. I mean, he let me go so how bad could he really be, right? It’s just… I asked him to go back into Malfoy Manor and bring me the book and some other stuff about Matilda Frogwart’s family – I think there’s a connection to Adria.” That was good news, right?
But Draco couldn’t care less about the book. “Are you going to meet him again?”
Hermione pondered her only two options: lie or tell the truth. If she lied, he probably wouldn’t believe her but if she told the truth, she’d feel like a traitor. But then again, the very complicated surge of emotions within the blonde man had probably pinned her down as one of those at the beginning of this conversation. And that’s what really bothered her. She knew that she shouldn’t have lied to Draco but she had now become of the many others who had betrayed his trust.
“I’m supposed to, in forty minutes,” she said, checking her watch – another excuse to avoid his gaze.
The conversation didn’t last long after that but the turn it took was most unexpected. Draco got up and told Hermione that he’d like to accompany her, if she didn’t mind and then left the room once she agreed. She sat there, confused and wondered where the real Draco Malfoy had fallen through during the conversation.
They arrived in the freezing village with two minutes to spare. Draco walked at his own calm pace but Hermione hurried her footsteps over to the Three Broomsticks, worried that Cassius might leave when he didn’t find her. However, by the time she was halfway there and noticed that Draco’s strides still remained slow, she reduced her speed as well and walked by his side as they approached the small pub, covered in snow.
“I see him,” Draco said slowly, pointing to the corner of two streets where a figure, draped in an argyle sweater and blue jeans was sitting comfortably on the bench.
Cassius appeared to have seen them coming from a distance because he stood up and dusted the snow off of his shoes before greeting Hermione. Draco stood a few feet away as Cassius approached.
“I see you brought a friend,” he said, smiling.
Draco came in closer and nodded curtly. “Cassius.”
“Do I detect a sense of hesitation in your greeting?” he asked. “I suppose you weren’t too thrilled to come see me.”
“Not at all,” Hermione interjected as she motioned for them to enter the small pub. It was less crowded than usual so they managed to find a corner table where Cassius insisted on ordering dinner, which Hermione kindly declined but then agreed to have a round of drinks. The waitress brought Hermione a cup of mint tea, and a butterbeer for both Cassius and Draco.
“Here you go,” Cassius said, handing Hermione a packet. “Your book and the genealogy maps that you asked for are all in there.”
She smiled, impressed. “I didn’t think you’d show up today,” she said truthfully.
Cassius laughed. “Neither did I.”
Draco was sitting quietly, watching disapprovingly as Hermione accepted the package from Cassius and then reached back into her own bag. He took the package suspiciously then sneered at Cassius before placing it on his lap.
“You don’t seem to be too pleased to see me, Draco.” he asked. “I haven’t given you a single reason not to trust me, have I?”
“No, you haven’t,” Hermione interjected, worrying that Draco might insert some obscene comment. She continued rummaging through her purse messily. “I know it’s in here.”
The winter air began to settle as a new gust blew in when two new customers entered. The three broomsticks was extremely crowded with couples pushing past people to get their butterbeers and children angrily pulling at their parents’ coats so that they could go to Zonko’s Jokes Shop. The thick layer of snow that had set in on the ground outside was being broken as boots dragged the soiled ice in which eventually melted.
“Here,” Hermione said, grabbing a thick vile and handing it to Cassius. “This is it.”
Cassius took the bottle and examined it with disinterest. “Doesn’t seem like a fair trade off,” he said sourly.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “This is the antidote to the Fiendfyre,” she explained. “You need to take it as soon as your mood begins to decline. Don’t bother with any pain killing potions. I made this dosage really strong so don’t take more than a few drops at a time otherwise you might begin to feel a little uneasy at times.”
“Thank you,” he said and pocketed the clear glass container.
An awkward silence followed, broken only by Hermione’s attempts to comment about the weather. “Isn’t th-”
“Hermione, can you please give me a second alone with Draco?” Cassius asked, without looking at her. His gaze remained fixed on Draco.
Bewildered and slightly offended by this request, she turned to Draco who looked at her with a staid expression. Though he didn’t say anything, Hermione clearly got what he wasn’t saying. Go and let me be alone with him. You owe me this much.
“Right,” she said, uncomfortably as she got up.
She looked around foolishly for a place to go but her steps took her walking aimlessly so that she wasn’t standing around where she wasn’t wanted. She turned her head back, pretending to see if she stepped on anything but as her eyes darted over to the corner table she saw Draco and Cassius sitting in silence and she guessed they were waiting for her to actually go somewhere out of earshot. Where could she go? She didn’t really know anybody here. Madam Rosemerta had sold the place to a cousin of Seamus Finnigan years ago and retired with a nice sum of money.
She finally ended up in the washroom, receiving odd glances from the two other women in there as she grabbed a discarded Daily Prophet and began to read it. The wizard world seemed fairly ignorant of the trouble that was brewing beneath the surface; there were stories about the new Windblade prototypes that had leaked onto the market, a new use of mandrake juice as discovered by Neville Longbottom – wait a minute. Neville’s discovery had been over a year and a half ago… almost two years ago. She went back to the front page and saw that indeed, this daily prophet was almost two years old.
“Gross,” she said, tossing it aside.
“Excuse me!” an indignant voice came from behind. Hermione turned around in time to see a pudgy little woman picking up the daily prophet with her upper lip curled in disgust and her cheeks red. “This is mine!”
“It’s two years old,” Hermione said, and then regretted her words. The woman became angrier and began to mumble something in another language. Probably French, she guessed.
“I’ll have you know that the story of my niece’s death was reported in this very issue!”
Hermione was puzzled. “Uh sorry?” she said, not understanding why anyone would want a memento of such a tragic occasion. “Well at least you’ll always have this story to remind you of her death,” she added, as an insult to the injury she had already caused.
“Well, I never!” the woman said, brandishing her newspaper in Hermione’s face at which point she caught glimpse of a black and white photo staring at her, maddened with rage and twisted with insanity.
“Lestrange!” she cried.
“What?” the woman asked, clearly confused.
Hermione ripped the paper from her hands and read the article as the woman stomped her foot irritably and demanded that she be returned her artefact. “Rodolphus Lestrange still on the loose…” Hermione read aloud. “No signs of him… death eaters fleeing… Malfoys… Malfoys in capture… Lestrange’s trial postponed… only four witnesses brave enough to come forward… shall remain unnamed…”
The woman had left the bathroom huffing and bellowing, threatening to get the manager to reprimand this awful woman who has no regard for others. But Hermione couldn’t care less. “Leak in witnesses… though their identity is supposedly kept a secret to protect them, it is believed that Rodolphus Lestrange has already been informed of their names and an anonymous informant, claiming to be one of them and identified as a 47 year old from the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes-”
That’s where she stopped. It was so obvious. It was so clear all along and so simple. They were witnesses. He was killing the witnesses from his trial, erasing any evidence that could link him to the events that happened after Voldemort’s death. Naturally, in his days as Voldemort’s loyal servant, enough evidence had been collected and he had been condemned to life in Azkaban but his new killing spree would have surely earned him a dementor’s kiss.
“Four…” Hermione began to say to herself. “She tried to remember the names that Harry had mentioned… there was the woman in the article, who lived alone, the man whose wife was attacked as well and the man who went missing on his route home. That was three.”
Hermione heard the voice of a man calling from outside, with the pudgy woman poking her head through the door. “I’m the manager here and this woman claims you’re harassing her.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “For Merlin’s sake,” she muttered.
“Look, can you please just give her the newspaper?” he asked, through the door. “I’ve got my late rush coming in and I’m busy.”
Hermione scanned the article in a hurry, trying to find an allusion to the fourth witness. Someone who may have already been kidnapped or something they could still save. But there was no name, no description and no hints.
“Hey! Lady!” he called again, this time his voice got rougher. “I’m going to barge right in there if you don’t return her newspaper. Give it back or els- Oh yes, sir?”
The man’s voice suddenly went up an octave. Hermione wanted to peer out the door but she knew she should keep searching for the fourth name in her article. She began to read again, carefully keeping track of anything that might be a clue. Who are you, contestant number four?
“Is there a problem?” a man asked from outside, Hermione could hear the irritated tone.
The manager goggled and she heard some shuffling. “Absolutely not, sir. There’s some stupid woman inside causing a commotion. Please, I’ll be with you in just a minute.”
“Hermione, let’s go!”
Hermione turned just in time as Draco popped into the women’s bathroom. She opened her mouth to protest but before anything could happen, he grabbed her wrist and she felt the tug at her belly. The golden tiles dissolved right before her eyes and when she blinked again, they had appeared outside, in the cold night. She looked around, dazed when Draco removed his coat and put it over her shoulders and guided her towards a dry bench.
“What was that all about?” he asked.
Before she could answer, Cassius appeared from behind with a wide smile that reached from cheek to cheek. “That was fun.”
“That was you talking to the manager?” Hermione asked, suddenly recognizing his voice.
“We should leave,” Draco said, sharply as he stood up. “Let’s go.”
Without saying a word to Cassius, Draco took Hermione’s hand and began to walk towards the Floo station. She turned and waved once at Cassius before leaning in a little closer to Draco so that they could share the warmth of his coat.
“I’ve sent the letter to Harry,” Hermione explained.
Draco nodded, still a little distracted. “Good. He’ll be able to find out who the fourth witness is.”
They sat down on the bed, both cross legged. It was around eleven o’clock at night, so neither of them felt particularly sleepy and Eli had retired long since their return. “I suppose it would be stupid to ask what you and Cassius were talking about.”
Draco smiled. “I was waiting for you to ask me,” he said and then added: “But you know that I won’t tell you.”
“It’s nothing serious,” he assured her. “I promise.”
Hermione pursed her lips with force to keep herself from prodding further. She wanted to know, she had to know but she knew she couldn’t. She trusted Draco and she knew he would never lie to her so she just had to believe that whatever their conversation consisted of, it was of no effect to her.
“Tell me about this book,” he said. “The one about Adria.”
Hermione couldn’t help but smile at his transparent attempt to divert her attention. And she happily played along. She started off by explaining how she came across the text in the forbidden section and then showed him the book. She skipped through the first part of Matilda’s life and immediately segued into the part that mattered. She explained how Matilda tortured her mother and when she finally succumbed to the weakness, turned into the creature.
All through this conversation, Hermione watched with pleasure as Draco’s expression changed with every detail: from surprised, to confused, to enlightened. She was the centre of attention, granted it was the attention of one man, but the way that Draco listened to her made her feel more important than any of her symposiums and speeches at St. Mungos which took place in front of hundreds of people.
“Matilda Frogwart’s mother was a vampire,” Hermione explained. “She kept on trying to convert her daughter in the beginning with… experiments.”
Draco nodded. “Vampires really are trying to populate themselves. The small coven up in Northern Ireland grabs the occasional tourist now and then but it never works out.”
She twitched slightly at the thought of having her neck bitten. “That’s disgusting.”
“Okay, let’s go through all the similarities between Adria’s death and the mother’s,” Draco suggested.
“There are none,” Hermione sighed, exasperated, “except that they were both torture with dark magic before they were killed.”
“Maybe that means something.”
Hermione paused. “Maybe but I’m sure there’s some sort of connection. The way Matilda describes her mother, it’s too similar to Adria. She gets really excited when she’s given a particular stimulant, just like Adria did.”
“What do you mean?”
“Whenever there was blood, her mother would freak out and get even stronger and harsher. Doesn’t that resemble Adria?”
“I suppose,” he mused. “But Adria got excited by screams. Whenever her victims would scream, she’d get stronger.”
Hermione threw herself on the pillow and grunted. “This is impossible.”
“Nothing’s impossible for the great Hermione Granger,” Draco said, lying down beside her. Both of them propped themselves up on one elbow and faced each other. This lying down together was starting to become a natural instinct.
“This is hard.”
“Okay fine, but you have to admit something to me,” Draco said, looking at her mischievously.
“Admit that you like this,” he said and a smile crept on his face. Hermione noted that he looked so much more attractive in the moonlight.
“I do,” she said with great ease. “I like being here, I like the mystery, I like the adventure and I like you.”
Draco looked down and smiled to himself, and then back up at Hermione. “Bet you never thought you’d say that, did you?”
“Do you like me?” Hermione asked.
Draco looked at her incredulously, as if she’d asked the stupidest question. “Of course, I like you.”
What an odd conversation this was. His face suddenly became sullen, draped in the blue moonlight. His eyes became distant and he turned on his back, looking up at the ceiling. Hermione remained where she was, keeping her brown eyes focused on Draco’s face.
“I’d like to go to Azkaban tomorrow,” he said. “I received an owl a few months ago that my mother’s been moved into the back cells.”
“What does that mean?” she asked.
“It’s when prisoners are close to death that they’re moved into the back cells. Imminent death begins to agitate the dementors.”
Hermione was sure what to say and so ended up awkwardly mumbling ‘I’m sorry’ and continuing her efforts to analyze Draco’s expression. His sad disposition had taken over once again and she knew that his trip tomorrow wouldn’t help him much.
“Can you come with me?” he asked. His voice almost quivered a little and Hermione felt that she was talking to a scared child.
He got up off the bed, much to Hermione’s silent disappointment and kissed her forehead lightly before yawning and walking towards the door. “Where are you going?” she asked.
“I need to send an owl,” he said. “Goodnight, Hermione.”
“Is she still listening to us?” Draco asked.
Cassius nodded, a smile on his face. “She’s thinking that if she looks busy, we won’t notice her listening in. She doesn’t know anything about me, does she?”
“Give it a minute and she’ll leave,” he said and surely enough, a few seconds later, Hermione trolled her way into the women’s washroom.
The Three Broomsticks was crowded enough now that no one would notice the two of them talking and moreover, no one would care. Cassius took a sip of his butterbeer and leaned over to Draco.
“You’re scared, aren’t you?” he asked.
Draco cocked his eyebrow. “No.”
“Oh yes, you are. The moment you came walking behind her to meet me, I knew you saw it too. I knew you’d realized it.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Draco replied coldly.
The mirth in Cassius’ face was evident now. “Pleading ignorance will do nothing for you, Draco. Especially now that you’ve wandered over to the good side, you should realize the dangers of ignoring the signs. You let Hermione come meet me, despite your own better judgement – now, don’t deny it. I know if you had it your way, you wouldn’t let her come within a hundred feet of me. So that tells me that you’re seeing it too and you’re afraid.”
“I let her come because I know you won’t do anything to stop me killing your sodding father,” Draco retorted sharply.
Cassius threw his hands up in the air, propped his feet up onto the table and spread his palms behind his head. “Now that’s just not true. Not the stop killing my father thing, that I will let you do. But that’s not why you let her come meet me.”
“Can you just shut t-” Draco began but the cries of a woman drowned him out. They both turned sharply and saw a pudgy woman squealing to the manager of the Three Broomsticks.
“It’s something about Hermione,” Cassius offered. “She’s not returning some…” he concentrated, “some newspaper?”
“Shit,” Draco muttered. “You distract the manager and I’ll apparate inside to get her.”
As Draco got up to help Hermione, Cassius put his feet on the ground to stand up. “Time is something not even I can control, Draco. History is beginning to repeat itself.”
A/N: Well, since you've all been very kind to me and given me over 1000 reviews, I thought I'd reciprocate with an early chapter!
Chapter 27: Azkaban
Draco smiled and winked. “Only for you, Hermione,” he said.