Chapter 11 : The Attic
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“Hermione!” came the worried shriek of Narcissa as she threw the front door open, and ran out towards the two tired teenagers who were leaning on each other for support, “I was so worried! I came after you a few minutes after you left, but couldn’t find you at all! I checked back at the house, and only saw the last of the Death Eaters who had filed out from the gathering! What happened?”
Hermione opened her mouth to answer, but felt as though nothing would come out.
“Draco, are you all right?” Narcissa said as she gripped her son’s shoulders, “Your clothing is torn, and you’re bleeding.”
Hermione looked down where Narcissa was examining Draco’s knee.
“I scraped it on a tree that Hermione and I had climbed up on for safety. I’m all right. Let’s just get inside.”
The party of three walked through the entryway and into the living room that was still littered with the Malfoys’ belongings. Hermione and Draco both collapsed on the couch together while Narcissa sat on the coffee table in front of them.
“What happened?” she questioned again, glancing back and forth from one face to another.
Hermione and Draco both looked at one another. Hermione decidedly spoke up.
“I ran off back to the house to watch for Draco, and make sure that he didn’t go near the house and get caught—”
Draco interrupted, “Which she really didn’t need to bother herself with since we are under the protection of the Fidelius charm—”
“Which I really DID need to do because it would be a bit odd if all of the sudden the front door swung open with no explanation behind it.”
Draco smirked at Hermione for her correction, realizing that she really had done him a great favor.
“Sure enough,” continued Hermione, “Draco came strolling towards the house, so I ran out towards him and tried to knock him to the ground in order to prevent him from making any noise that would alert the gathering. I sort of took him by surprise, and he swung at me, which would explain the huge lump on the side of my head. But I ignored it, knowing that there were more important things to attend to, like getting out of the view of the house.”
Hermione continued the story, and allowed Draco to take over when it came to the meeting of his father and two other Death Eaters under the tree.
“That’s odd,” said Narcissa with an air of deep thought, “there hasn’t been any word on the escape of Lucius…nor any other Death Eaters. You haven’t seen anything in the Prophet, have you Hermione?”
“No,” replied Hermione, “and you would think that the Ministry would mention an escape, since they have finally come to terms with the return of Lord V-Voldemort.”
“But,” said Draco with a sudden explosion of dawning, “what if Azkaban is under the control of someone linked to Voldemort? I mean it makes sense, doesn’t it? How else could my father have escaped? It’s true that the dementors have left the prison, but it’s not like it’s that hard to keep tabs on all of the detainees in their cells.”
“Azkaban is monitored by the Minister, Draco. The head guard at the prison would have a tough time of sneaking prisoners out right under the nose of Cornelius Fudge. It would be a bit obvious when Fudge made his monthly trip to discover Lucius’s cell empty.”
“But what if the Head Guard snuck the prisoners in and out of Azkaban?” Hermione said thoughtfully, “and made sure that they returned to their cell before Fudge arrived? That could be possible.”
Narcissa sighed and shook her head. Hermione noticed that though Draco’s mother was very beautiful, there seemed to be something within her that suggested she was extremely worn out, and almost appeared as if she was aging rapidly. The small flicker of flames from the fireplace near where the three of them were sitting, highlighted her face, exposing several lines that were beginning to form around her mouth, and the top of her forehead.
“I think we’ve had enough excitement for one evening,” said Narcissa as she stood up from the coffee table, “you both are exhausted, I’m sure. There will be plenty of time to discuss things tomorrow. Draco, we will be staying here for the night. Hermione’s aunt has graciously asked that we stay until it is safe for us to come out of hiding.”
“Where is Aunt Loretta?” asked Hermione as she rose to her feet.
“She made a late-night run into Paris tonight. She’ll be back in the afternoon tomorrow.”
“Something about seeing if she could get some information about the house Draco and I were living in. She wants to see it get torn down, in hopes that it will keep the Death Eaters away.”
Hermione nodded, and said, “That’s a good idea.”
A few moments of silence made Hermione feel uncomfortable, so she said, “I suppose you both would like a place to sleep for the night…uhm, there’s a spare bedroom in the lower level of the house, and in the attic there is a small cot set up. I don’t know where either of you would prefer to sleep…”
“I’ll take the attic,” said Draco, “Mum, you can have the bedroom.”
“Thank you,” said Narcissa with a weary smile.
“The bed is already made up, and there is a bathroom connected your room. I’m sure you’ll be able to find everything you need.”
Narcissa muttered another grateful “Thank you,” and strolled towards the set of stairs that lead below the living room, leaving Draco and Hermione to retire off to bed.
“I’ll show you where to go,” said Hermione, and she began to walk up the steps with Draco trudging along behind her. She stopped at the top and retrieved some bedding out of a small closet, “You’ll have to excuse the mess that I have up there,” said Hermione as she motioned with her eyes up to the ceiling, “I haven’t paid much attention to tidiness lately.”
At the end of the upstairs hall, a door stood looming in the darkness. The hall lights weren’t turned on, so it was difficult to see. She pulled the door open once they had arrived, and flicked on a light switch with the tip of her finger. The light above them blasted away the darkness, and led them up a set of old, dusty stairs that seemed as though they hadn’t been taken care of in years. After reaching the top, Hermione looked upon the items that littered the floor of the attic. Bits of crumpled paper sat waiting to be tossed into the wastebasket, and books were strewn about the powdery floor, lying open on their spine. A golden-colored telescope sat on its three legs, as it pointed out of a set of open doors that lead to a balcony, overlooking the landscape beyond it. Pieces of parchment scribbled with calculations accompanied a chair near the telescope, and fluttered as the slight summer breeze waltzed its way into the attic, ridding it of the dusty smell it held. Hermione walked over to a cot backed against the wall that the balcony door was set into, and began to make up his bed. He walked around the room, and stopped to examine the astronomical calculations that were scattered about the chair.
“What’s all this?” he asked as he picked up a single piece of parchment, and turned it around and around in his hands, not understanding the meaning of all the complex numbers and symbols.
“Astronomy calculations,” answered Hermione as she unfolded a bed sheet, and shook it so that she could spread it over the cot smoothly, “I’ve been measuring the distances of different stars from one another. I’ve also been working on my own map of the stars as well.”
Draco scratched his head as he gave the paper a befuddled glare, and set it back down in its place. He began to help Hermione tuck the bed sheet into the sides of his cot.
After they had finished putting all the covers on the cot, Hermione walked out onto the balcony, and looked off in the direction of where the Death Eaters had been that evening.
“It’s amazing,” she remarked as Draco joined her, “to think that there can be so many people out there who will stop at nothing to get what they want. The Dark Lord’s crowd, for instance. I just can’t believe they’d be willing to kill a human being just because they don’t come from a pure, magical race of people.”
Hermione felt Draco’s hand clasp around her own, which was resting on the balcony.
“Don’t worry,” he comforted, “this will all be over sooner than we know it.”
“I know,” she agreed, “But there will still be people out there who will keep their grudge against—against people like me.”
Draco let out a short laugh, and said, “I’m sure I know what you mean. So many people despise my family now because of my father. I will be judged because of my background for a long time, just as you have been, and will be,” Hermione felt Draco’s gaze, and took her eyes away from the scenery of France’s countryside to look at him. He bent forward and kissed her forehead softly.
“You’d better go and get some sleep,” he said to her as she felt her eyes droop and her head fall to his shoulder, “it’s been a long night.”
He led her off the balcony, down the attic’s stairs, and opened the door that Hermione indicated with the pointing of her finger as being her own. Hermione fell onto her bed, while Draco sat next to her.
“Goodnight,” he whispered.
“‘Night,” she said in reply.
Draco lowered his head, and kissed her gently on the lips. After hearing Draco’s footsteps cross the room, and the creaking of the door as it shut softly, Hermione had no recollection of consciousness from that point on. There was nothing but deep, dreamless sleep.
A/N: So, I suppose that some of you are about to kill me for not updating on Saturday like I said I was going to…Well, when it comes down to it, I had to work, do homework, and babysitt for my little sister on Saturday. When I put her to bed, I worked on Chapter 10 a little until I became as tired as Hermione was. Sunday I worked all day, so I was once again too exhausted to finish when I came home. But, here’s the latest posting anyway…hope you enjoyed it and didn’t find it to be too boring. The chapters from here on will become far more interesting. Thank you for the mountains of reviews! –SilverWhisper-
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