Chapter 8 : The Aftermath of the Explosion
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It was worse than the Cruciatus curse had been during that final battle.
It was worse than holding Ron and watching the light leave his eyes as he passed into the void.
It was worse than anything she had ever felt before in her life.
She screamed and screamed and screamed, but nothing stopped. No relief was given.
She could feel her limbs burning from the inside out. Her entire body was twisting and sizzling as fire ran through her veins.
She could hear voices around her, panicked and frightened, but they did nothing for her.
She screamed and begged and pleaded, but the pain dragged on and on, endlessly. Her eyes were tightly closed as she twisted and thrashed.
A cool hand was suddenly placed upon her forehead, but it felt fiery hot to the tortured girl.
“Can’t you do anything?” snarled a voice that should have been familiar, but in her semiconscious state, nothing penetrated her brain. Hermione opened her eyes deliriously, desperate to make this end.
“I healed her skin on the outside!” was the cried response. “I don’t know what curse is affecting her now!”
Malfoy was looking down on her, looking quite terrified. Hermione dimly grasped that she was in a different room of Malfoy Manor and that she was in a comfortable bed that—at the moment—felt like a pool of acid eating away at her skin.
“Stop!” screamed Hermione, struggling and thrashing in the arms of two men who were trying to hold her down.
There were three other men in the room besides the two holding her. One was Malfoy, one was the man who had healed her skin, and the third looked incredibly familiar, but she couldn’t place his face in her memory as she closed her eyes again, falling silent.
Pain continued to wrack her body as she convulsed on the bed.
“You need to fucking fix this!” ordered Malfoy, his voice shaking.
“Boss, I’m not a Healer,” protested the man, shrinking away from the angered man.
“Then get a fucking Healer!”
“You should take her to St. Mungo’s,” said a deep voice belonging to one of the strong men who were holding Hermione down so she didn’t harm herself.
“That can’t happen, you fool! She knows everything about us,” snarled a familiar voice that wasn’t Malfoy. But the sneering tone was all too familiar to her.
“Ractor,” panted Hermione, opening her eyes again to confirm that it was indeed her fellow Auror standing next to her. The Auror whom she had known (and, yes, disliked) for over a year. “Why?”
Sweat drenched the girl’s face, and her pupils were dilated as her body jerked uncontrollably under the influence of the pain coursing through her body.
“Why am I a member of the Hunters?” Ractor asked amusedly. “This pays much better than the Aurors. Plus, it’s advantageous for Malfoy to have an ally on the inside of the Ministry, don’t you think?”
“Malfoy, please make it stop,” begged Hermione, tears running down her face. It felt like a million angry knives were slitting her defenseless body open. She could concentrate no longer on Hayden Ractor’s betrayal.
Draco Malfoy looked extremely uncomfortable. He was torn between two choices: taking her to St. Mungos, which would result in his eventual arrest, as well as the downfall of the Hunters; or hoping that the mixed-up effects of the cursed explosion would just go away on their own. Or…was there a third option?
“Kidnap a Healer,” he said heavily. “I don’t care who or how, just do it. Ractor, go back to your house—you can’t do anything more here.”
There was a loud crack of disapparation.
“Malfoy, it would be better if you just killed her,” murmured Ractor, looking mercilessly at the girl lying on the bed. “If you let her go, all that you’ve worked for will be gone when the instant she tells Potter who you are.”
“Then it’s a good idea I pay so much to keep you around, isn’t it?” said Malfoy coldly. “I’m sure you’ll find some way to explain this, should I decide to let her go.”
Ractor disapparated without another word.
Hermione let out a long, drawn-out scream that made everyone left in the room wince.
“Leave,” sighed Malfoy to the others. “Clean up my bedroom. And two of you, stand guard outside.”
When the room was empty but for Malfoy and the agonized girl, Malfoy sat on the edge of the bed next to Hermione. Hermione was sobbing as her body continued to convulse with the force of her pain.
“Make it stop,” she screamed again, tears and sweat pouring down her face. Her entire Auror persona was completely gone and shattered; this pain was reducing her to nothing more than a child. “Please!”
“I would if I could,” Malfoy snapped, not knowing what to say to someone in this state.
“Knock me out,” she begged.
“I already tried. The Stunning charm won’t work for some reason,” admitted Malfoy.
“Hit me!” Her words started off as a pleading whisper, but ended up as a tortured shriek when a particularly painful stab came at her heart.
“I’m not going to hit you,” said Malfoy, looking at her like he thought she was insane.
“Please! Oh, GOD!” she screamed, desperately grabbing at him. Her fingers found his arm and grabbed tightly.
Malfoy sighed, but didn’t pull away from her. He winced as her grip tightened involuntarily on his arm.
“Come here,” he murmured, moving onto the bed.
He picked up Hermione’s twitching body and arranged it so that he was behind her and she was in front of him. He noticed with worry how high her body temperature was. He slid his right arm around her neck so that it pressed against her jugular and then pulled back, applying as much pressure as he could.
Hermione struggled against him with all her might, but after about ten seconds, the sleeper hold kicked in and she fell limp in his arms.
Malfoy slid off the bed and placed her back in her original position, checking to make sure that she was still breathing. Her body still convulsed with the effects of whatever curse was running through her, but her eyes were closed in blissful unconsciousness.
Thirty long minutes passed with no change in Hermione’s condition.
“Boss!” cried Marcus, finally coming back into the room with a blindfolded woman held firmly by the wrist. “We found a Healer.”
Malfoy glanced towards the door. “Bring her over here,” he ordered.
The woman’s blindfold was removed and she stood next to the bed, shaking with terror. “What do you want?” she squeaked in fear. She was a thin, mousy woman with stringy brown hair and dull hazel eyes.
“This girl has been hurt,” said Malfoy, gesturing towards Hermione. “Heal her, and nothing will happen to you. If you fail—well, I won’t go into that now.”
The woman paled and looked at Hermione. “What happened to her?”
“She had a backpack with different vials of potions,” said Malfoy, sounding bored. “They broke, mixed, and exploded.”
“I need to know the exact kinds of potions,” said the woman timidly.
“Then ask her!” snapped Malfoy.
The woman gingerly tapped Hermione on the shoulder. The girl stirred, a look of discomfort on her face that all of a sudden changed to agony.
She opened her eyes, whimpering with pain.
“What sort of potions were there?” asked the Healer.
“Paralyzing Potion, Smoke Shield Potion,” Hermione began painstakingly, but she suddenly gasped, clutching her chest. She began to take deep, shuddering breaths as a look of utter terror came onto her red face.
“She’s not breathing!” cried the Healer.
“Then make her breathe!” yelled Malfoy, pacing angrily in front of them.
A wheezing sound could be heard coming from Hermione’s throat.
The Healer wrung her hands anxiously. “I don’t have any of my potions!” she cried. “Her lungs are swelling up and I don’t have any anti-inflammatory potions!”
Malfoy made a sound of rage as he grabbed the woman by the arm and looked directly into her eyes. “If you don’t figure out a way to save her life, I will personally make sure that you suffer the same fate.”
Tears fell from the woman’s eyes as she began to mutter spells under her breath, her wand aimed at Hermione.
Finally, just before Hermione passed out, a silvery shadow seeped from the girl’s open mouth. It floated into the air and dissipated after a moment. Hermione’s breathing steadied and her eyes fluttered closed.
Completely and utterly exhausted, she fell into a deep sleep. She knew that she needed to get the hell out of Malfoy Manor, but her body refused to let her eyes stay open.
“C-Can I go home now?” the Healer stuttered tremulously.
“Take her back and modify her memory,” Malfoy commanded Marcus wearily.
The tall, black man nodded and dragged the Healer from the room.
“Granger, you dumb bitch,” growled Malfoy once the room was empty again. “What am I going to do with you now?” He ran his fingers through his blonde hair impatiently. “I have to admire your persistence, though. If you would just give up trying to arrest me, we wouldn’t continue to have these problems.”
Hermione let out a small sigh in her sleep, but didn’t wake up.
The door opened a crack, and a voice drifted through it. “Uh, Boss?”
“What is it, Marcus?” Malfoy asked wearily, wanting nothing more than to go back to sleep. Marcus stepped inside the room then, and the anxious look on his normally impassive face woke Malfoy up instantly.
“We have a problem.”
“What?” snapped Malfoy.
“We just received news from Ractor that Harry Potter is on his way here to the Manor!”
Malfoy’s face drained of all color. “How long do we have?”
“Execute the evacuation plan!” Malfoy rapped out, snapping into action. Marcus rushed out of the room immediately, wand in hand.
Wasting no time, Malfoy picked up Hermione and slung her over his shoulder. He carried her down three flights of steps, pausing a few times only to issue orders to passing Hunters.
He stowed Hermione’s limp body in the secret compartment under the drawing room floor, casting a Silencing Charm on her in case she woke up. Just as he had completed the Silencing Charm, he heard a loud banging on the front door of the manor. Malfoy straightened his robes and walked calmly to the front door.
Along the way, he looked around at the house, satisfied that he didn’t see any of his men still around. Before he opened the door, he saw Marcus standing a few feet away, ready to assist him should anything go wrong.
Malfoy opened the door.
A fist sailed through the air and connected hard with Malfoy’s face.
Malfoy stumbled backwards into his house. He threw a hand out in warning to stop Marcus from attacking or showing himself.
“Where is she?” growled Harry Potter, taking a step into the manor. He didn’t notice the tall black man in the shadowy corner to the right.
“Where is who?” hissed Malfoy, gingerly wiping the blood from his split lip. He saw with relief that Potter was alone.
“Don’t play stupid, Malfoy,” said Harry, advancing on Malfoy. He shoved Malfoy hard against the closest wall. “I’ve had a tail on Hermione for the past 24 hours and she was last seen entering your manor.”
Malfoy lashed out with his fist and caught Harry in the jaw. Using the distraction to his advantage, Malfoy pulled away and straightened his shirt. “What would you do if I were to report you to the Ministry for assault, Potter? How dare you come into my house and attack me with no provocation?! Get out of my house this instant!”
One room away, two feet under the floor, Hermione woke up.
Darkness surrounded her.
“Where am I?” she murmured, or tried to. No sound came out of her mouth. I’ve been Silenced! she thought angrily. She searched her pockets for her wand, but came up empty. Shifting to feel out her surroundings, Hermione winced as she felt soreness in every muscle from the cursed explosion.
A quick examination revealed that she was in a small compartment lined in smooth wood. There was no way to open the trapdoor from her side. Suddenly, she realized that she was able to hear raised voices in the other room and listened carefully.
“One more step, Potter. I’m warning you—take just one more step into my house,” snarled Malfoy’s voice.
Then came an extremely familiar voice—Harry’s! “As Head Auror, Malfoy, I am completely within my bounds to arrest you right now for attacking a member of law enforcement,” Harry threatened him. “If you tell me what Hermione was doing here, I’ll let you off with a warning.” Harry’s voice suddenly changed to a softer, more vulnerable tone. “I need to find her.”
“I haven’t seen her,” Malfoy replied coldly, not missing a beat.
“Accio Hermione’s wand!” Harry yelled loudly.
There was a loud ripping sound. “Fuck, Potter! This shirt was more expensive than your bloody house!”
“What are you doing with Hermione’s wand?” Harry asked, his voice deadly and quiet.
There was a pause before Malfoy replied, “I found it on my front lawn.”
“You’re under arrest, Malfoy,” Harry stated, his voice shaking with anger. “Expelliarmus! Incarcerous! Hey!” Harry suddenly said in surprise. “Who are you?! Back up or you’ll be arrested as well.”
“Marcus, back off,” snapped Malfoy, sounding pained.
“Hermione!!!” bellowed Harry.
Hermione realized that this was her only change to be revealed. She lay on her back and kicked upward at the drawing room floor as hard as she could, trying to draw attention to herself. Nothing but a small, muffled tap could be heard, as there was something soft attached to the top, probably for this very reason. She heard the front door slam, and her heart sank.
Long minutes passed before she heard footsteps above the drawing room. Moments later, the secret compartment opened and light flooded in, blinding Hermione. A hand reached down and dragged her out of the compartment.
“Finite,” said a deep voice that Hermione recognized as Marcus’s. The Silencing Charm was removed.
“Let me go, you bastard!” she screamed, jerking against his hard grip.
“If you think for one second that I’m going to let such a delightful piece of ass escape, then you’re foolish as well as reckless,” Marcus sneered. “Malfoy’s gone, little princess. You’re all mine…”
Hermione went pale. “Marcus, you could trade me for Malfoy,” she said, trying not to let her desperation show. “Harry’s only going to interrogate Malfoy because he wants me back. He has no idea that he’s part of the Hunters!”
“True, true,” said Marcus, pulling her over to the leather sofa against the wall, placing his wand behind her on the window ledge. “But before I do that, I’m going to have a little fun with you.”
Marcus pushed Hermione down onto the sofa and straddled her, trapping her between his body and the sofa.
“Malfoy said that you’re not allowed to touch me,” Hermione said faintly, shoving ineffectually against Marcus’s strong muscles.
“Malfoy’s not here now, is he?” Marcus said chillingly.
“Listen, Marcus,” Hermione said quickly, playing for time as she eased her hands behind her, “If you leave me alone and don’t hurt me, I promise I’ll leave you out of whatever Malfoy’s gotten himself into. I won’t mention your name to Harry or anything. You’ll be able to escape unscathed. Just take me to the Ministry and I’ll forget everything about you. This is your way out.”
A glimmer of shrewdness came into Marcus’s eyes, cutting through the lust in his gaze.
“But you see, my little Auror, I can do whatever I want, as long as I put a Memory Charm on you afterwards,” whispered Marcus, his hands sliding down Hermione’s body.
“How are you going to do that with no wand?” she growled angrily, her fingers finally closing on Marcus’s wand. “Stupefy!”
Marcus slid backwards and landed hard on the floor.
Hermione got to her feet, shaking, and kicked Marcus hard in the ribs. “Don’t ever EVER touch me again!” she shrieked, kicking him again. She took three deep, steadying breaths. Knowing that the other Hunters could return any moment, she hefted the unconscious man into the air and tried to disapparate, a clear picture of Harry’s office in her mind.
Nothing happened, and Hermione remembered what Malfoy had told her about a certain tattoo that she had to have in order to apparate or disapparate in the Manor. She laboriously dragged Marcus into the front yard, where she once again attempted to disapparate.
Ahem...it appears that I forgot to post the last part of that paragraph the first time I published this...so sorry guys!!
Thanks for reading, and please drop me a review =]
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