Chapter 29 : Prelude
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CHAPTER 29: Prelude
Her head felt like it was splitting apart. There were voices around her, hushed, some whispering, some yelling. She tried to move, but she found that she couldn’t. She was being weighed down by something….
“She’s my bloody friend, you stupid dolt!”
Hermione winced as the voices went louder. Her head hurt so terribly. She wanted to tell them to be quiet, but she couldn’t quite find her voice.
“Do not use that tone with me, sir, or you’ll be thrown out of the room at once!”
She knew that voice. It was a familiar voice… A really familiar one.
“You think I’m joking, don’t you, wiggy? Well, I’m not. Her bloody head got smashed against a bloody wall--”
“And her ears will be bloody too if you don’t shut up,” Hermione moaned, voice cracking from dehydration.
She heard a few pairs of feet scuffle over to her bed. A shadow came up over your face. And only then could she place the voice. She didn’t know how she didn’t pin it before. “Yes, Ron?” She managed weakly.
She could hear the deep concern in his voice. She felt like a cat who’d been run over more than once, but decided that he didn’t need to know that. “I’m fine, Ron.”
“You’re lying,” he said, not being accusing at all: if anything, it was an understanding tone. Like he knew she didn’t want him to be concerned.
Well, she was just going to stick to her story. Hermione peeked up at him with one eye. “I’m fine.”
His eyes were laughing down at her. “I’ve reasoned this out,” he started. “When girls say that ‘they’re fine’, it means that--”
“What happened?” she interjected, trying to stop his mad tirade. He was starting to understand women far too well (scary), and she wasn’t about to encourage that knowledge. Her head throbbed smashingly. She tried to open her eyes all the way, but the light hurt them too much. “Who saved me?”
She looked up and Ron’s ears were flaming red. “Well, no one really saved you, Hermione.”
She tried to make an exasperated face, but her muscles simply didn’t want to comply. Ron sighed. “It was an accident, really. The military got up early this morning, and one of them-Robin, decided he’d get into a fight with one of the other guys, and-don’t ask me how- but a canon blew and it just happened to go through the hallway and crash into your room.”
“Ah,” Hermione answered. “So who was there the second after it happened?”
“I was walking through the hallway.”
“So you’re my hero,” Hermione grinned weakly.
“I didn’t know that you needed saving.” Suddenly, Ron’s voice acquired a mean edge. “What was Malfoy doing in your room?”
Hermione sighed. “Long story.”
“I want to know,” Ron persisted. If Hermione had been watching, she would have seen his face hard with anger. It was a new type of anger, one that she would never had seen on Ron’s face, typically. “What was he doing there?” He repeated.
Hermione sighed. “We were fighting about the treasure.”
“And you were losing,” Ron finished for her.
“No, I wasn’t--”
“But you were,” He answered. “I saw. You were all wrapped up in some sort of goo.”
“Spider webs,” Hermione corrected. “They were spider webs.” She tried to sit up; Ron took her elbow and propped her pillow behind her back. The sheets came up with her: she had tucked it under her bare arms. She rolled her neck around: the action seemed like nonchalance to Ron. That made him angry. Can’t she see the trouble she was in?
“It doesn’t matter what they are, were, whatever! He was trying to hurt you! No one hurts my friends.”
Hermione said nothing to this. What he said was true. “Where is he?” Hermione asked, fiddling with her bed sheets. They were heavy and raw. They felt scratchy on her skin. She ducked her chin a little to look down at what she was wearing, then realized that underneath the sheets…
She wore nothing at all.
And if anything was a problem: her clothes in her room had probably been obliterated. She tried to calm her nerves, it was the only thing she could do right now. She had to plan her getaway. Time was running out., “Where is he?” Hermione asked again, when Ron didn’t answer.
Ron looked away from her, and she saw the anger. “I put him in the dungeons.”
“Good,” Hermione sighed. “That’s good.” She dropped her head back in relief. He was out of her way for now. She just had to get out of this blasted bed and get a plan in motion. She had to get Harry’s signet and leave as soon as she possibly could.
A friendly silence filled the room, and Ron just sat there, looking at Hermione. “When’s the wedding?” She asked.
“In about an hour. Everyone is dressed and ready to go.”
Hermione’s eyes flew open wide. “An hour? Why aren‘t you there yet?” she feigned innocence. There was no way she was going to ask if she could go. She had almost died. She would use that excuse so her operation could stay undercover.
“Oh, go Ron. I’m fine! You’ll be missed. You’re the best man, right?”
Ron sighed. “They don’t have best men in this age, Hermione. Get a grip.” He grinned though, as Hermione rolled her eyes. Of course she knew that.
“But I do have to be at the wedding. Do you want to come?”
Hermione sighed, and then feigned pain. If she was going to ‘stay here’, she was going to have to convince Ron that there was no way she could go. “I’m still in a lot of pain, Ron.” She winced as she spoke.
He looked at her strangely. “Are you sure?”
Hermione was almost annoyed at her friend’s politeness. She had to go, already! Time was being wasted. Precious time that Draco was plotting to get out of the dungeons. Hermione almost had no doubt that he would figure out a way. He was a Malfoy. His father had bought out the ministry, surely it wouldn’t be too hard to bribe a jail keeper. “Positive,” Hermione answered. “I really wish I could go Ron, I just… I ache miserably.”
He almost didn’t buy it. She could see it on his face. He had gotten a lot more perceptive, she should have noticed that earlier. He sighed. “Alright. Just ring that bell,” he said pointedly, looking at a little bell on a stand beside her bed, “If you need anyone. There are still a few nurses bustling about around here.”
Hermione nodded her head. She looked over at the bell and noticed her wand laying beside it. She itched to reach out and hold it. In a friendly gesture, Ron squeezed her hand, leaned in and wrapped his arms around her in a hug.
Hermione, almost belatedly remembered that she was ‘aching’ and hugged him weakly as she protested. “That hurts, Ron.” She let out a faint laugh, inviting him to laugh with her.
He stood up and looked down at her. “Take care, Hermione, alright? I’ll come and check on you after the wedding.”
Hermione nodded with a small smile. “Thank you, Ron.”
He gave her a smile in return and opened the door, then turned around, “Hermione?”
“Yes?” she answered, looking at him.
“Remember to ring the bell if you need anyone.”
Hermione grinned. Friendship. She had begun to miss it. “I will, Ron. Now shoo. You have a wedding to catch!”
He almost grimaced.
“Poor Harry,” Hermione commented.
“You have no idea,” Ron answered with chagrin, and then he left, out the door, with one more glance back at her.
Then the door shut: leaving her room still and quiet as before.
She waited for a few minutes, fidgeting with the covers, before she reached over and snatched her wand off the table. She shot a healing spell at herself, and her headache vanished. She looked at her naked body: just a few bruises was all. There was a bandage on one side, but she peeled it up and muttered a spell at a nasty gash. The would resisted for a moment, and then seamed together.
She looked around, feeling very odd. She was naked: and there were no clothes in the room. She looked at her bedcovers and groaned.
This was going to be humiliating.
Stealth and Bed sheets do not go hand in hand.
Regretfully, she reached out and grabbed one of the bed sheets.
McGonagall wasn’t kidding when she said this was going to be an adventure.
With that last thought, Hermione opened the door and peeked into the hallway.
Yes, Hermione conceded sarcastically, today is a great day to go streaking.
McGonagall wasn’t kidding when she said that people changed in this game either. Hermione closed her eyes for a moment to calm her hectic nerves. She was level headed, she could do this.
And then, with a butterfly doing circus tricks in her stomach, she stepped out into the hall, wearing nothing but a bed sheet.
Pansy grabbed Ron’s arm as he walked briskly around a curve. She was dressed nicely, which almost shocked Ron. Her light green dress was very modest: the neckline wasn’t plunging to her navel, there was no slit up to midthigh..
She almost looked…. sweet.
Ron knew better. She was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
“What did she say?” Pansy asked, loping her arm through his, as if she just hadn’t jerked him within an inch of his life.
“She’s not coming.”
Pansy could hear the disappointment in his voice: it annoyed her. She didn’t know why. He wasn’t supposed to care about the Mudblood. He was supposed to be completely devoted to being her boy toy. Her eyes narrowed. “Good.”
Ron shrugged. “I wish she could go.”
“But she’s not,” Pansy said scathingly, “So you’re just going to have to deal with it.”
Ron took his hand and pushed her had off of his other arm, eyes wide as he looked at her. “What do you mean?”
“She’s not coming, so stop moping around,” she almost hissed and stalked away two steps before Ron’s hand snatched her upper arm and jerked her so she’d be looking at him. “What’s your problem?” she spat.
“What’s yours?” Ron retorted. “Everything was going just fine until now. You’re being--”
“Don’t you dare finish that sentence, Weasley. Don’t you dare.”
“So we’re back to Weasley, now?” He said, eyes narrowing. His red hair hung lower on his forehead than usual. He had to tie it up in the back because it had gotten quite long in the time he had been in the game. He looked slightly like his brother Bill. All he was missing was the earring, but he wasn’t going to get that any time soon.
He looked right into her sparkling green eyes. “I may not be the smartest wizard, but I’m not stupid.”
“I never said you were,” Pansy said, shrinking back slightly from the anger in his eyes.
“You didn’t have to say it. Stop treating me like it.” He let go of her arm and starting walking away from her down the hallway.
“Just where do you think you’re going?” She called after him.
He didn’t even turn around as he turned a corner. Pansy’s eyes narrowed at the empty hallway. No one treated her like that. She felt an odd strong feeling rush through her veins. Anger and something else she couldn’t place. She turned and stalked the other way, having to pick up her skirts so she could walk faster. Her face was set with sheer determination. She had things to do today, and one of them was go to a blasted wedding. Her date had just walked off without her.
She turned the opposite corner and went off to find Theodore. He would be perfect.
Her lips curled into a smirk. I wonder what Ron will think about that.
And then she realized, she didn’t care what he thought. She just wanted him to hurt as much as she was hurting right now. And that’s all that mattered.
Susan buttoned the last silk covered button on her white glove with her left hand as she walked out the door. She turned around and locked it, and hung the key around her neck.
She turned around to walk into a solid body. “What--”
“You should never let the guy who’s head over heels for you see where you put your key. It makes it so much easier to steal.”
Susan blushed as Thaddius let her go. “What are you doing here?”
He shrugged. “I came to see you.”
“In my room, or out of my room?” She gave him a saucy wink and tried to step away from the door, but Thaddius took her shoulders and pushed her back into the wood. He looked down at her, eyes dancing. “Depends if I can get my hands on that key of yours.”
Susan blushed and pushed him away, grinning foolishly. “You could only be so lucky.”
Thaddius’s eyes lit up wickedly. “Oh, is that so?”
Susan grinned mischievously, and took his arm. “Maybe later.”
“Maybe?” Thaddius repeated, in mock shock. “I need to improve my chances. I don’t like the sound of ’maybe’.”
Susan looked over at him as they walked down the hallway. “Well, you’ll just have to do your best, then.”
He stopped in the hallway, and pushed her up by the window, looking around to make sure no one was watching. He took her hand into his, and traced the button on her glove, looking at her for a moment. Her eyes were wide, and darker than the usual brown that they were. They sparkled with something that Thaddius didn’t need a dictionary for to understand.
He unbuttoned the first button, and she her mouth parted as his finger gently traced the naked skin underneath. He peeled off her glove from her fingers, and while having his gaze locked with hers, he lifted her knuckles to his lips and grazed them lightly.
She was burning up, as his gaze bored into hers. She bit her lip as he turned her hand over and placed a kiss in the center of her palm.
Then, she just couldn’t take it anymore. She gripped his shoulders and pulled him to her. His hands slipped around her waist, and she wrapped her fingers around his neck.
Their lips locked for a moment, and fire consumed them. The roaring in their ears was so loud that they didn’t hear the heels clicking down the hallway. “Wow.”
Thaddius and Susan sprung apart, to look at the person who disturbed them.
Pansy glared at the couple, green eyes angrier than they had ever seen them. “Go get a room.”
When she was sure that Pansy wasn’t going to stab her, Susan laughed. “Get a life, Parkinson.”
Pansy opened her mouth to say something, but then thought twice about it and continued stalking down the hallway.
Thaddius watched her leave and then grinned at Susan. “I think we should take her advice.”
“Take Pansy’s advice?” Susan raised a brow. “That might not be a good idea.”
“Actually,” He returned, tugging the key out of it’s hiding place, finger around the chain, “I think it’s the best idea she’s had yet.”
He pulled her to him again, and meshed his lips against hers.
Thaddius broke away from her again. “Is it impossible to snog without interruptions?” he asked to no one in particular.
He turned away from Susan again, and then froze. Every single one of his muscles locked in place except for the one in his jaw. It ticked with extreme agitation. “Zabini.”
But Blaise wasn’t looking at Thaddius. He was looking at Susan, shock riddled all over his face. Susan’s face was pale, as if she had just seen a ghost.
His look of shock and disbelief slowly transformed until his dark eyes glittered with anger. “Don’t ever call me by my first name again. You don’t have the right, Bones.”
Without another word he strode away, and around the corner: the same direction Pansy had gone.
Thaddius tore his eyes away, and looked back at Susan, whose eyes were blank. “Sooz?”
She looked at him, as if she didn’t know him. “I need to be alone.”
No. Not after I just got her! “Susan, please don’t do this. Please,” he asked, eyes pleading with her.
She shook her head, brown eyes sad. “I need to think.”
She lifted her arm, and her fingers touched his cheek over so softly. Then her hand dropped at she turned away from him, and walked away.
And he let her. It tore him up inside, but he let her.
Theodore sat in the room, watching Raven struggle to button up the back of her dress. It was almost funny. “Hey, Theo, can you--“
“No.” He closed his eyes and leaned back. She could deal with it herself. His muscles just started relaxing when someone banged a fist on the door.
He stood up, annoyed, and yanked the door open. “What do you--”
Pansy swept into the room, cutting him off. He felt the anger roll off her in waves. “What slipped into your pumpkin juice, Pansy?”
She shot him a glare that cut him cold. “You’re escorting me to the wedding,” she ordered. Raven looked at them for a moment before wrestling with the button again.
Thaddius’s eyebrows flew up. “Excuse me?”
“You heard me,” she said whirling around and walking over to the closet. Their rooms were connected by a door in a wall. Theo had been in the girl’s room. She rummaged around, cursing under her breath, until she pulled out a crème fan. She tucked it into her ribbon band and went over to the mirror.
“I thought you had a date,” Theodore said, moving his jacket with a smooth motion and put his hand into his pocket. He leaned against the wall as he watched Pansy re-apply make up.
“I do. It’s you.” She looked at him through the mirror with a look that stopped all the questions in his mouth. He raised a brow at her.
Raven looked at Pansy over her shoulder. “Pansy, could you--”
Then, someone else knocked on the door. Theodore’s jaw locked, irritated.
He walked over to the door, agitated, and yanked it open, like he had before. “What do you--”
Blaise shouldered him out of the way. “I’m so sick of this game,” he exclaimed.
Pansy looked over her shoulder at Blaise. “Ditto.”
Raven’s eyes lit up. “Blaise! Do you think--”
“No,” Blaise snapped.
Raven narrowed her eyes, stopping her fight with the blasted button. “Will someone tell me what’s going on?”
Pansy whirled around. “Maybe we will, when you stop prying in everyone’s business.
Wow. Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed, Theodore thought angrily and sat back down in the seat with force, splaying himself. He watched Pansy and Blaise communicate without words. “You and Blaise just go together.”
Pansy gritted her teeth. “Fine, Knott. Get your knickers out of a bunch, would you?”
“My knickers are in a bunch?” Theodore let out a harsh laugh. “Look at your own, would you?”
Pansy rolled her eyes, and finished applying the charcoal to the tops of her eyes, throwing her innocent look to the wolves.
“I’d be glad to take you,” Blaise said. His voice wavered angrily.
Raven hopped around, trying to get the last button fixed. “Blaise, will you--”
“Forget it, Trapper.”
“Merlin, what is your problem?” Thaddius said, leaping out of the chair. “Either tell us what’s going on,” he said pointedly to Pansy and Blaise, “Or stop being arses.”
“We’re being arses?” Pansy scoffed. Her eyes trailed up and down his figure.
Theodore’s eyes glittered as he stalked over to Raven and buttoned her last button for her. She didn’t even say thank you. His face was too angry for anyone to say anything to him.
Pansy and Blaise looked at each other and remained silent. Theodore growled in frustration, and grabbed Raven’s arm, and headed towards the door. “But I haven’t put on my--”
“I don’t care,” he said, as he pushed her though the open door. Right before he slammed it shut, he looked at Pansy and Blaise, “When you guys are ready to be normal again, let me know.”
The door slammed shut with such force that a splinter of wood shot out and clattered onto the floor.
Pansy looked at Blaise. He shrugged and went to sit down in the seat that Theodore had vacated.
It was going to be a bloody long evening, that was for sure.
Harry sat alone in his room, trussed up like a goose. It was worse than the masquerade outfit that he had worn. And he had asked for understated clothes. Seemed that the Wigs didn’t know what ‘understated’ meant. If this was understated…. Harry sighed and looked into the mirror. “I look like a grandmother playing dress-up," he muttered under his breath.
He turned this way and that, a scowl on his face. The person who made this should be shot! Normally, Harry was a benevolent, kind person… Just not when he was trussed up like a goose.
There was a knock on the door. Harry gave one last nostalgic look in the mirror and sighed. “Come in.”
And then regretted it. “Cho! You’re not supposed to--”
Cho shut the door, and held up a hand. Harry’s words died in his mouth when he saw the look on her face. “I’m putting it out on the table right now, Harry.”
Harry nodded, almost relieved that she didn’t make a jibe about his clothes.
“I’m not going to be faithful to you, and you’re going to protect me while I do it.”
Harry’s green eyes went as wide as his circular glass frames. “Come again?”
“You heard me.” She sighed. “This marriage is a bad idea.”
Harry looked at her, beautiful in her pristine white gown. At least she doesn’t look like a clown. “It’s just a game, Cho.”
“But not to them!” She said, referring to the Wigs. “They don’t think it’s a game. They don’t know.”
Harry sighed. “Who is it?”
She looked taken aback for a moment. “Who is who?”
“They guy you’re going to commit adultery with.”
Cho’s face blanched. “Harry--”
“Kidding, kidding,” Harry said with a wry smile on his face. “So, who is he?”
Cho murmured something under her breath that sounded suspiciously like ‘eggville’.
“Pardon?” Harry asked. “I didn’t quite catch that.”
“YES, Neville.” Cho’s eyes lit up with fire. “What, do you disapprove, your highness?”
Harry tried to choke back a laugh. It took him completely by surprise. Cho and… Neville. “No, I don’t disapprove. I’m just shocked.”
Her eyes narrowed--
“No! Not like that!” Harry said, almost defensively. “What I mean is, when did it happen? I didn’t know.”
Her eyes searched his. Harry was almost afraid of what she would find there. The cover-up he just made? Most likely.
To his relief, she took in a deep breath. “It’s been on for maybe the third week of the game.”
Harry grinned. “Really?” Neville’s been working hard! Must’ve given up that sweater he was knitting because he’s been snogging so much! “Yes, really!” Cho had the decency to blush. “So, you’ll do it?”
“Do what?” Harry asked, almost too innocently.
“Don’t make me ask again, please Harry!” Cho pleaded. “It was embarrassing enough the first time.”
Harry made a ‘tsk’ noise. “Embarrassing? You stomped in here and demanded--”
“I did not stomp!” Cho said indignantly.
“Whatever. You marched--”
“Harry…” She warned.
“Fine, I’ll do it,” Harry said, done taking the mickey out of her. It was almost funny, but he was happy for them. Oddly jealous that she would cheat on him, but found that he didn’t really care at all. He had Ginny and that’s what matt---
Cho crossed her arms. “What?”
“Well, since you’re being… unfaithful, I guess…”
“You guess what?” Her eyes narrowed.
“Yes?” Cho prompted, almost impatient.
“I’m seeing someone else, too.”
Her face went white. “What?” She spluttered.
“Well, I just thought it was fair that if you--”
“You can’t do that!” Cho said, suddenly angrily, throwing her hands up in the air.
“You’d disgrace your own wife like that?” She raved angrily. “You would--”
Then Cho laughed. She laughed. What in bloody--
“Kidding,” She said, her eyes alight with genuine laughter.
Harry’s green eyes went flat. “From where.”
“When you started stuttering. As long as the girl is Ginny, I’m fine.”
“Oh, it is!” Harry sighed in relief. Then, after a moment's pause to cool his embarrassed cheeks, he muttered: “Thanks, Cho.”
She shrugged, “It’s not a problem. You’d do--You’re doing the same for me.”
Harry leaned back and smiled at her. She smiled back tightly, and then walked over to the door.
“Wiat!” Harry said, and put a hand on her shoulder. “You can’t be seen. You weren’t supposed to be in here anyway.”
“Let me look out first, ok? And if the coast is clear, you can go.”
“You should’ve been a pirate, Harry.”
Harry grinned back. “I could have only been so lucky.”
He opened the door up a few inches, to look out, when his nose got brushed by someone’s coat.
“Harry!” Seamus grinned at his friend. “Playing peek-a-boo, are we?”
“Oh, no,” Harry answered almost too quickly, and shaking his head. “Not at all.”
“Then, why don’t you open the door?”
“It’s nice and cool in there, and I don’t want the heat getting in.”
He opened it a little further, and wedged himself between the doorway and the door, so that Seamus couldn’t see anything.
“The heat.” Seamus repeated, disbelievingly.
“Yeah,” Harry said, almost unconvincingly. “Anything you needed?”
Seamus shook his head, then opened his mouth as if to say something, then shook his head. He grinned. “Cho Chang, huh?”
“Guess so,” Harry shrugged.
“Thought you were too young to get married, mate.”
Harry sighed. “So did I.”
Seamus punched him lightly in the shoulder. “It’s just a game, mate. Just a game. Good Luck!”
Harry muttered a thanks as Seamus walked away. He looked up and down the hallway. He turned into the room. “The Coast is clear.”
Cho rolled her eyes with a silly grin. “You’re being stupid.”
Harry shrugged with a smile. “It’s the least I can do, really.”
She rolled her eyes and walked out the door. “See you for our doom, Harry!”
“Oh, yeah. Our doom. How optimistically put.” He said under his breath as he shut the door to the small room.
He looked in the mirror again and sighed. He fell into a cushioned chair that was sitting in the room, and buried his face in his hands. It was almost damning, this game. It wasn’t fun anymore. In fact, it was getting old, old, and boring.
He was getting married, for Merlin’s sake, and he was only seventeen.
“Did you mean it?”
Harry shot out of the chair, “Who’s there?” he asked, blood that had been racing an instnat before slowing down. His eyes darted around the room. A creak from behind him caused him to turn around. “Who’s there?” he repeated, again.
Ginny stepped out from behind the closet door, all trussed up. “Sorry,” she said, cheeks flaming. “I just couldn’t--”
“Help yourself,” Harry finished for her. He walked the two steps it took to get to her and enveloped her in a hug.
They stayed that way for a moment. “You know, it’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding,” she said, her voice muffled into his shoulder.
“I could only be so lucky if something were to go wrong,” Harry chuckled and released her.
“So, did you mean it?” She asked, looking up at him.
He looked down at her and smiled. “Of course I did.”
“But you’re still going to go through with the wedding?”
“Yes,” Harry sighed. “It’s part of my role as the King.”
Ginny sighed. “I don’t want to commit adultery, Harry,” she said, her voice slightly sad.
Harry felt frustration run through his body. “It’s just a game, Ginny!” He said, voicing his thoughts. It was so agitating, why were people taking it so seriously?
“So don’t marry her!” Ginny replied, her eyes sparking with anger. “If you really loved me, you would drop all of this playacting, and--”
“Die?” Harry asked. “You know I’d do that and more for you!”
“So why are you still marrying her?”
“Duty?” Ginny let out a chopped laugh. “What about your duty to the woman you supposedly love?”
“Supposedly?” Harry repeated, disbelieving. His green eyes glittered with suppressed emotion. “You doubt me?”
Ginny shook her head, ruefully, eyes glittering with tears. “You know I don’t.”
“So why are you--?”
Ginny held a finger to his lips. “Me or her. That’s your decision.” Her eyes searched his for yet another moment longer, and then she backed away. He opened his mouth to say something, but she jerked the door open, and slammed it shut before he could say another world.
Harry stood still for half a minute and then groaned aloud, running a hand through his hair. This was more that he could handle. The obvious choice was clear. To die, or not to die? That is the question.
And it wasn’t only his head on the stake, it was his, Cho’s, Neville’s, and Ginny’s. Harry sighed. If only---
Harry felt a sudden hope flare to life in his chest. Maybe she’d help this time. He just had to find her--
He headed to the door, but suddenly, it flew open to reveal a pale faced Ron Weasley. "We have a problem."
Earlier that day:
“You’re toast, Malfoy.”
Draco groaned as he felt his body return from the floating blackness he had been in for the past…. He wasn’t sure how long. “Who is that?” He asked, rubbing his eyes. His hand hovered to his head, where he felt a bump. He pressed lightly on it, then winced. That hurt!
“Take a guess, Malfoy.”
“I would, but that would be wasting my time.”
He inched his eye open to see a fluff of red in the gloomy darkness--- “Weasley.”
“And we have ourselves a winner!”
Draco smirked, as he pulled himself up, trying not to wince as his body groaned in pain. “I always win.” It smelled stale, and there was no light save for the torches on the wall. The ground he was on was cold and grimy. He almost curled away in disgust: if he had anywhere to curl to…
“And look where it got you,” Ron sneered. “Nowhere.”
“Actually,” Draco shot back, “I’m obviously somewhere.”
“And you’re not going anywhere.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Are you done acting like a toddler, blood traitor?”
Ron’s jaw ticked with anger. “Shut up, Malfoy.”
“Let me out, and I won’t hurt you,” Draco said menacingly.
Ron laughed at him. “You can’t hurt me from in there. Your wand and everything is on that table over there!” Ron said, as he pointed to a banged up table far down on the other side of the hall. “And unless you can do wandless magic, which I know for a fact that you can’t.”
Ron ignored him. “You better be happy you didn’t kill Hermione, and there’s a wedding going on today, else I’d hang you until your toes were blue.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Is that all you’ve got Weasley?”
Ron’s ears went red. “No, it--”
A man rushed into the hall. “She’s awake!” he called.
Ron looked at the man and then at Draco. “We’re not finished.”
“Oh, but we are,” Draco returned. “Go to your precious little Mudblood, will you? Give her my best.”
Ron’s eyes narrowed, and he threw Draco a vulgar hand gesture. Draco laughed, and sagged against the wall as Ron almost ran down the hallway. Stupid muggle-lover, Draco thought.
The man who had just run down the hallway to tell Ron ‘she’ was awake, came and sat in front of his cell. He was an ugly bald man, an extra, no doubt.
“No dog bones to throw me?” Draco asked sarcastically. He could pick a lock with one of those.
The man grunted menacingly.
“I thought not.” After a moment’s silence, Draco tried again. “Thirty gold pieces if you let me out. "
The man grunted again.
“Just let me out, and I’ll stop aggravating you.”
The man narrowed his eyes, and his voice came out guttural and bear-like. “Shut up, or I kill you.”
Draco narrowed his own eyes, and opened his mouth to say something when the man grunted again. "I serious. I feed you to piggies when I done cutting you up."
Then, Draco decided that he better not say anything.
So he glared at the man, and then went over to the cot on the side of the room. He was dirty, and filthy, and…. He pulled his shirt off anyway, and put it on the cot. His head was pounding with pain, the bruise hurt the most. He stretched on the bed, and closed his eyes, his mind plotting.
It was preposterous, a Malfoy in jail, and he wasn’t even helping the Dark Lord, damn it!
He dozed off, head heavy, for a few hours, and woke up to a delicious aroma traveling through the cells. It smelled like…..food. His stomach grumbled.
He looked at the jailer in front of him, who seemed not to have moved. He was still being glared at. “Really?” Draco asked the man, knowing that making him angry wouldn’t help at all. He was acting on that stupid Weasley’s orders, and would do nothing.
He tugged his shirt back on and was moving up the buttons when he felt something. His fingers froze. The man looked at him suspiciously. Draco shrugged and kept buttoning his shirt. He was being very casual, for just figuring his way out. It would take some cunning, and some great acting, but he could do it. And fate, it seemed, loved Slytherins, and everything just clicked into place.
Seamus was strolling down the corridor. “Come on, Francis, we’re going to eat.”
Francis? Draco looked around. There were no girls here. Then, he saw his jailer moving away from his cell. Francis? Draco suppressed a snigger, and struggled to keep from smirking. Well, that was a pleasant surprise.
“But Mis’ser Weasley says I need ta stay ‘ere. Said this ‘un wazza snake, this ‘un.”
Seamus rolled his eyes. “Ron is often a little dramatic. Let’s go eat. Malfoy isn’t going anywhere,” he said pointedly with his Irish accent. Seamus narrowed his eyes at Draco. “Stupid Slytherin.”
Draco arched a brow, and refused to say anything. He could be his nasty self later.
Seamus rolled his eyes and walked off with the bald man to go and eat. Draco waited three minutes after they left, and took off his shirt and pants. He stayed in his trousers, and with a grimace tried to clean himself up a bit. If he was going to do what he was planning, he’d need to look clean, and gentleman like. After cleaning up, he shoved the shirt and pants under
And it was going to work. Well, he hoped they’d miss a few things in their panic, but who knew? Maybe it would work, maybe it wouldn’t. There was only enough in the vile for a few minutes. Five, tops.
He pulled out the vile hidden in the seam of his shirt and held it with one hand as his other went to the bar of the jail. No one else was in this dungeon, he knew. He would have heard it already. Then he did something a Malfoy never would have done, which was why everything was going to work splendidly. He started jerking on the bars, the sound of grinding metal echoing on the stone cold walls. “HELP!” he shouted at the top of his lungs. "HELP ME!”
Ron grabbed some cheese and put in on a piece of bread, as Seamus and Ed came up the stairs. Dean came over, “I thought you were watching Malfoy,” he said in his aristocratic accent. “He’s top priority, you know that.”
Seamus shrugged. “He’s not going anywhere.”
Ed rolled his eyes. “If ‘nythin’ ‘appens to the boy, es na’ ma’ fault.”
Ron nodded slowly, and let Ed go. Then he turned on Seamus. “He’s a snake, he’s going to get away,” his eyes were glinting angrily.
“Chill, he’s between bars.”
Ron’s stance relaxed slightly. “You’re right, we’ve got the bloody snake, and he’s not going to get away.”
They ate, listening to ale glasses being hit against each other, laughing, talking, chattering….
“What’s that?” Ron asked, cocking his head to the side. It was something he hadn‘t heard in a while. Something… terrible about it. It was a faint sound. He stood up abruptly. “Do you hear that?” He asked Seamus.
Seamus looked at Ron like he was mad. Dean shook his head. “I don’t know what you’re--”
Ron ‘shushed’ him, and started walking around the room, trying to find where it was loudest. It was very, very quiet, but obviously loud, where it was coming from. Then, it hit him. He moved into a small hallway, Dean and Seamus hot on his heels. He almost started running.
Below them were the dungeons. There was only one person in the dungeons. And something was wrong. He threw the door open to the dungeons and the yelling intensified at least tenfold. Ron hurtled down the stairs and into the dungeon hall, where it was still dimly lit. “Malfoy!” He yelled, stalking down the hall.
That’s not Malfoy’s voice. Ron realized this with shocking clarity. He hurried faster down the eternal hall to the end cell, when another thing hit him. Malfoy’s too bloody proud to scream for help.
He whirled on the last cell, and his breath whooshed out of his lungs. “Who are you?”
The brown haired, blue eyed, scantily dressed man in the cell was obviously a gentleman: his skin was clean, as if he didn't belong there. He didn't belong there. “Dommanic Aymes Lafroy,” the man answered, voice hoarse from yelling, “at your service.”
“Harry talked about you.”
After Dommanic said nothing, Ron’s brows furrowed. “How did you end up here?” Ron asked, fire shooting from his eyes. He could not believe this! “Where’s Malfoy?”
“You mean the slimy blonde-haired g-”
“That’s the one,” Ron answered, shaking with fury. “Where. Is. he?”
“I was asleep,” the man said, “or at least…. I thought I was, they must have drugged me… “ he talked as if really remembering, and Ron stopped doubting him. A man wouldn‘t be yelling and dressed only in his trousers if he was guilty. “And then, I gained consciousness when they tossed me in here.” He turned to the side to show them an ugly shoe print on his side that was red. “The slimy blonde one sneered at me, and kicked me in the side," He showed a print of a shoe on his side, confirming his own story. "'Said I didn’t belong here. He doesn’t go to Hogwarts does he?”
Ron looked into the sincere blue eyes. They were sincere as they could get. He turned to Seamus and Dean. “We have to find Malfoy, now.”
“Who’s Malfoy?” Dommanic asked.
“A filthy excuse for a wizard,” Ron said angrily, and pulled out his key ring and jerked Dommanic’s door open. He pointed to a little banged up table down the hall. Malfoy took his stuff anyway… “There’s a change of clothes in the second drawer. They might be your size. "
“Oh, thank you,” Dommanic answered.
Ron gave him a curt nod, “You know your way out?”
“Down the hall and up the stairs.”
“That’s it. It was nice meeting you, Dom, and we’d wait for you, but--”
Dommanic smiled oddly. “I know, I know, Go catch your criminal.”
Ron didn’t spare him another glace and grabbed Seamus. “Let’s go!”
Draco waited until they were out of the hallway, and he heard the door swing shut. He crept out of the cell, and pocketed the empty vile. He had taken it just as they burst into the hall. It would give him two minutes, max, and it had, and they saved him. He stalked down the hall, sweat glistening on his chest; he grabbed his wand off the top of the chest: they hadn’t even bothered to look at it, as he had predicted. It had all went as planned.
He pulled on the extra clothes, which seemed to be about his side, although the pants were too short. He had to go and find some clothes of his own, and some expensive feeling ones too. He was getting tired of these coarse fabrics.
But he had no time to waste. He pulled open another drawer and found a cloak. He pulled it on and over his head. It was a monk’s cloak, he noted with irony. A Malfoy, a monk.
He smirked under the cloak, and pulled out a book from the first drawer. It was enough. He walked up the stairs, and out into the world; his stomach growled.
But first things first: Killing and stalking could come later. Right now, he was hungry. He grabbed a chicken leg and took out a generous bite, a bit of grease let on the corner of his lip. He brushed it away with a long finger.
After he ate, he would be ready. Ready for anything, and everything. He walked by Ron, Dean, and Seamus, who nodded at him as he walked by, head bowed low.
No one could see the devil’s expression in his glittering grey eyes. He smirked as he went on. A Malfoy in monk’s clothing.
It was classic, that was for sure.
“We have a problem.” Ron had said.
What an understatement, Harry thought dryly. “What is it?”
And when Ron answered, he should have known, he really could have guessed. Since everything that could have possibly went wrong could go wrong, it really had come down to one fact.
Ron grimaced as he said one word. “Malfoy.”
“How did he get out of the dungeon?”
“So, how’d he get out?” Harry repeated, when Ron looked blankly at him. He watched his friends ears turn red.
“I don’t know,” Ron answered, eyes darting to the floor. “I really have no idea how he got out. I just .... got a dispatch that he did.” There was no way that he was going to tell Harry it happened on 'his' watch.
Harry put a hand on Ron’s shoulder. “He’s a snake,” he said. “He would have found his way out of there anyway.”
“I guess so.“ Slimy git. “So what do we--?”
“We do nothing,” Harry shrugged. “Looking for a single man here in the midst of a wedding would be suicide. Let him be. There’s not much that he can do. I‘m just happy he didn‘t kill Hermione.”
“Me too,” Ron answered. He looked at his friend, “Well-”
A knock on the door interrupted him. Ron rolled his eyes. “What now? What else could possibly be important--” he jerked open the door, murder written all over his face. He glared at the wig. “What do you want?”
The wig looked over Ron’s shoulder, and his eyes locked with the king’s. “It’s time.” he said.
Harry wanted to laugh helplessly. It’s just a game, he said to himself, Just a game.
Or was it?
A small, insignificant seven letter word that ends most cliché stories/fairytales and is far too often mistakenly translated into: Happily ever after. Of course, anyone who’s been married knows that that simply is not true. It's not the end. It's a beginning. Some of you are lucky enough to find out that the adventure after the ceremony is happy and argument-void. You, my friend, are the exception. I’ll get you your certificate later.
However, for some weird reason, most everyone, even little three year olds (who’ve been deviously brainwashed by the world famous makers of cartoon fairytales) associate wedding with happily ever after.
Sad, isn’t it.
A wedding is simply an event signifying the signing off of your individuality to a partner who you trust and depend on, and are probably far too head over heels in love with to notice that his or her breath stinks just as much as yours in the morning. In fact, at weddings, the two soon to be spouses are so blinded by youthful ‘love’ that it might as well be a wedding between Gary Stue and Mary Sue.
Well, that’s the normal wedding.
Another type of sadly overused plot for a joining of two people is the arranged, or forced marriage between two people who absolutely loath each other, and then somehow through living together, they discover that they have hearts, things in common, a secret love for poodles, and oh, lets not forget that hate turned lust factor that causes them to fall into some conveniently placed king sized bed where they do the inevitable romp in the sheets and discover that they simply can’t live without each other.
If by each other, we mean ‘mind blowing sex’.
Then, ten minutes later after the unspeakable, they’ve turned into emotional muffins and seem to have lost semblance of the very core reasons of why they are who they are. It’s almost akin to watching a dragon act like a cuddly teddy bear. Not only does it make no sense, it would simply never happen!
The dragon and cuddly teddy bear part, I mean.
You know it’s true. Don’t deny it. As much as you enjoy reading it, something ticks off in your brain that it’s just….
Well, I’ll let you think the incriminating words in your head by yourself. I don’t have to say it for you.
However, at the wedding today, neither is the case. Today, we are presented with a rare type of wedding. Not one of convenience, but one of carefully constructed indifference. In case you don’t understand Greta lawyer type, it’s the kind of wedding where the two soon to be spouses are indifferent towards each other and madly in love with someone else that isn’t going to be in the lovely wedding portrait.
The cliché catch? It’s a royal wedding. (But when is it never?)
The fun fact is, is that in a royal wedding, no one dares speak out for fear of the nice little convenience concept I like to call ‘Pride of Life.’ Cho won’t say no, because in every girl, there is that childhood dream that shoves away all others: the dream to be a queen or princess. Either or: it’s the ultimate career choice at age three. And it never leaves the back of your mind. Harry won’t say no because it is his duty, as king to accept the majority rule. Neville won’t say a word because he doesn’t want his head cut off, and Ginny won’t make a peep (surprisingly) because she ‘understands’ Harry’s duty as king. Oh, and she doesn’t want to get her head cut off either.
Instinct leads them to these decisions. Sure, it may be a game, but I imagine getting your head cut off in a game must be unpleasant.
Fear, pride, and love always turns out to be a lethal combination.
The last thing that they would expect is for someone to save the day! As the story would usually go, Harry and Cho would fall madly in love after one night in the bedchamber after the ceremony and realize that after all this time, they just couldn’t escape the past. Convenient, No? Then Ginny and Neville….
Or, they just live as king and queen, pride assuaged and then find pleasure and love elsewhere…. I guess you could say adultery would be a common cliché theme to add to the wedding list as well. Cho could be some female dominatrix, and Harry simply didn’t have it in him to be into that kind of kinky stuff, and he runs to Ginny for a more ‘gentle’ type of love. Cho would get angry and murder Neville and then get sent to Azkaban, or an insane asylum somewhere far away where she could never hurt anyone. Anyway you play it, anyway you put the words and characters, somehow, by some freakish rule of fictional nature, it ends in Happily Ever After.
The last word that any of our dear little brainwashed three year old's minds connect with the word wedding is none other than the little eight letter word ‘disaster.’ After all, where would the happily ever after be?
Unfortunately for you and luckily for me, I don’t specialize in happily ever afters. I find disaster intriguing, and exciting. It’s a surprise and puts people under special circumstances in which they show their true colors and feelings. Where as, in happily ever after, they bite their tongues and plaster smiles onto their faces and hope that no one notices that the expression fake.
But for the lovely couples sakes, you better pray that nothing bad happens, because if it does, heads will go rolling, and it certainly won’t be mine!
I hope you took your hangover potions and have your Sunday best on, all down to the silk covered buttons and stainless cotton gloves. You might want to put on some breeches under those dresses, ladies. You might have to run later. But from what, I can’t say. That would ruin everything wouldn’t it?
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen (if that’s what you really are) to the joyful wedding of Harry Potter, and the wanna-be-queen Cho Chang.
The ultimate Happily Ever After, no? The weather is perfect; skies blue, clouds a brilliant fluffy white. The birds are chirping, the flowers blooming, and everyone who isn’t hung-over from the masquerade last night is giddy for the fairy tale ending. Simply nothing can go wrong. By all rights, (according to the weather man), it’s a Happily Ever After for sure.
But then again, I find it my duty to tell you: Nothing is ever what it seems.
So please, take a seat to watch the perfect union. But please, leave me a aisle seat. I have a bad feeling that I’ll be ripping my heels off and running though the huge wooden doors of the catherdral very soon.
I could be wrong.
If I am, you can blame my screwy female intuition.
8/12/09: A/N: PLEASE VOTE FOR THIS STORY ON THE DOBBY'S!!!! : ) If you wish it, of course ;) I'm working on your next update and a trailer for the story. lol. Both will be up soon!
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