There was no gradual shift from Hermione’s magic-induced unconsciousness to consciousness this time—it was instantaneous. The incredible heat in her body was still present, boiling below the surface, but she pushed it out of her mind.
Her eyes flew open, seeing black fabric in front of her. She immediately registered where she was. She was soaring through the air, her legs on either side of a broomstick that was speeding through the night. But she wasn’t riding alone; her hands were around the body of the person in front of her. When she attempted to move her arms, she realized that her wrists were tied loosely in front of her to prevent her from falling off while in flight. By the smell of cologne on the shirt of the man in front of her and the white-blonde hair, she knew that it was Draco Malfoy.
Rather than being relieved, she felt anger turning her face red and making her blood boil. Gary was back there somewhere in the night, quite possibly dead. If he died, she would never forgive Malfoy—never.
As they sped through the air hundreds of feet above the ground, Hermione feigned continued unconsciousness until they touched down lightly in the grass before the huge expanse that was Malfoy Manor.
The second they landed, Hermione was all fluid motion. In one smooth movement, she slid her tied wrists over Malfoy’s head. Malfoy was equally as fast, though she’d caught him off-guard. By the time he’d reacted to try to neutralize the threat, Hermione had slipped her wrists free of the rope binding them and attacked. She still did not have her wand, as it had been taken from her by Lorelei, so she was left with only physical attacks. And she was angry; blisteringly angry.
Her body slammed into his muscular one, knocking the wind out of them both. Off balance by her crude method of attack, Malfoy fell backwards with a cry of surprise. Hermione landed on top of him and began striking every part of his body that she could reach.
“How dare you stupefy an Auror!” she yelled, punching Malfoy in the stomach and chest with every word as he lay beneath her. “Gary’s my friend and he could be dead because of you!”
“All right, enough!” growled Malfoy, hooking his foot around Hermione’s leg and flipping her over.
Hermione let out a grunt as her back hit the ground. “Let go of me!” she snarled, struggling to kick him. Malfoy straddled her easily, pinning her to the ground beneath him and restraining her hands. She glared up at him, spitting mad.
“If I let go of you, will you behave?” Malfoy asked,
Hermione nodded. Malfoy released her hands and Hermione clenched them together to hit him hard in the solar plexus. With a wheeze of pain, he fell sideways onto the ground. Hermione scrambled to her knees and fumbled in his pocket for his wand. Still struggling for breath, Malfoy offered no resistance as Hermione quickly located the smooth wood of a wand in his pocket. As she pulled it out, she realized with delight that it was her own!
Just as she made this realization, Malfoy managed to recover enough to forcefully shove her away from him, getting quickly to his feet. When the two of them faced each other, both standing, Hermione saw that he had his wand in hand as well.
Both breathing heavily from adrenaline and exertion, they circled each other warily.
“You Gryffindors are all the same,” panted Malfoy, his wand aimed levelly at Hermione. “You throw all caution to the winds when it comes to saving your friends. You don’t care about the consequences! You don’t even think about how detrimental that could have been for our mission! You don’t care that you could have died—that I could have died!” His face was flushed with anger and his eyes blazed with a deadly fury.
“You don’t make decisions for me, Malfoy!” Hermione spat. Though it was a cool spring evening, she felt hot with anger...or was it the fever? “How dare you take me from there against my will! You could have just left on your own; I didn’t need you to stay with me. Do you know the penalty for stunning an Auror?! I should bloody arrest you right now!” In contrast to Malfoy’s calm, steady hand, her wand hand was shaking.
“First of all, you were in no condition to mount a solo rescue mission,” retorted Malfoy, the smirk on his face mixing with anger to make him look almost frightening. “In case you didn’t know, a raging fever and battered body is not the best condition to go into battle with! If you couldn’t handle them when you had a group of Aurors at your back, what makes you think you could handle them now?”
Before Hermione could reply, he plowed on. “If you want to arrest me, then take your shot, Granger.” He spread his arms wide, mocking her.
Boiling mad, Hermione shot a nonverbal stunning curse winging in Malfoy’s direction. He didn’t move, a puzzled look on his face as the stunner flew high, missing him completely.
“Nice aim,” he mocked, putting his arms down.
Confused, but still furious, Hermione yelled, “Stupefy!” The red light that fired from her wand once more missed Malfoy by a considerable degree. The heat of her anger seemed to take over her whole body, but it no longer felt like anger as much as hot, slippery mass of emotions and sensations inside her body.
Malfoy seemed now more bemused than angry, his smirk melting on his face. His eyes looked like they were melting, too, dribbling down his face like silvery pools of moonlight. In fact, the entire landscape began to melt behind him as well; trees turning into a feathery gauze of green.
“Granger?” Malfoy’s voice said, but she couldn’t see his mouth move.
His face slowly moved sideways; why was everything falling sideways? As her head hit the soft grass with a thud that she didn’t even feel, Hermione realized that it was she who was falling sideways, rather than the rest of the world. There was a deafening buzzing in her ears that drowned out Malfoy’s words as he leaned down to peer into her eyes.
“Hermione?” The word was long and drawn out beyond recognition. A cool hand rested on her forehead, icy against the heat of her skin. Hermione’s eyelids felt leaden but she tried to keep them open. The world spun further as she was hoisted into the air. “Let’s go,” Malfoy muttered, storming towards the front door of his mansion.
“Malfoy,” Hermione groaned as her entire body throbbed with pain and heat. “It’s a cursed fever.”
“Of course it’s a cursed fever,” snapped Malfoy, kicking his front door open after nonverbally unlocking it. “What would be more helpful was if you told me how to counteract it.”
As he entered the comfortable familiarity of his manor, Malfoy saw Hermione’s lips part as she breathed a final heavy sigh before passing out. “Of course,” he snarled to himself. “Nothing’s ever easy when it comes to a Gryffindor.”
“Boss! You’re back!” came the familiar voice of Draco’s current second in command of the Hunters, Marcus, who was freshly out of prison for a brief stint. He grinned, his white teeth glinting. “Are you finished with your secret mission? The boys have been dying to get back to work. And who is she?” He didn’t recognize Hermione, as her body was still that of Brooke Locke.
“No, I’m not finished, and the rest of you lot will just have to be patient for a bit longer,” said Draco, a bit impatiently. “She’s a guest in my house and will be treated as such. Help me get her upstairs and into my room.”
Marcus winked lewdly at Malfoy. “Ah, that sort of guest, eh? Stunned her to get her here? I rather like using Imperio on them—it saves the energy of carrying ‘em!”
Anger surged through Malfoy at the very idea of stunning Hermione in order to force himself on her. The thought of taking a woman—especially Hermione—by force made him think wishfully of torturing Marcus.
He restrained himself from doing so and instead said acidly, “If you’re quite finished speaking, hold her while I find my key.”
Looking a bit stung, Marcus took Hermione’s unconscious body from Malfoy while he searched through his pockets for the key to his room.
Whenever Draco was away from his mansion for awhile, he locked the door to his room and the two rooms adjoined to either side of it. The lock could not be opened by any spell or charm without the key. Inside those three rooms were the most valuable items in the mansion—things that he wouldn’t want either a Ministry official or prying Hunters to find. Since ten of his thirty-four Hunters lived in the West Wing of his house, he didn’t want them going in his room either accidentally or on purpose.
His fingers closed on the silver key deep in his pocket.
“You might not want to have your way with this one, Boss,” Marcus said warily, looking down at Hermione suspiciously. “She’s on fire. I think she’s sick. You don’t want to catch something from her...”
“Just give her to me, Marcus.”
Wounded by his leader’s angry tone, Marcus nevertheless handed Hermione over, though none-too-gently. Her head hit the banister of the staircase with a soft thud.
“Watch it!” snapped Malfoy, cradling Hermione carefully in his arms.
Marcus stormed off down the hallway while Draco ascended the stairs that led to the East Wing of his manor. Outside his room, Malfoy fumbled with the key until it finally slid into the lock. Looking both ways to make sure no one could hear him, he leaned close to the door and whispered into the lock, “Wolfsbane.” With a soft click, the door opened.
Draco placed Hermione carefully on his neatly-made bed and walked across the room to the small glass table where his potions lay. He picked up a brick-red, watery potion and held it briefly in his hand, considering. “It can’t hurt,” he finally muttered, returning to Hermione’s side.
Her breaths were deep and slow—too slow, he thought to himself, though he was no Healer. If only Mark was still with the Hunters instead of a traitor rotting in Azkaban...
It was obvious she had a fever by the flush on her face and the heat of her skin. When he felt her pulse, it was racing.
After lifting her up into a sitting position, Draco aimed his wand at her, saying clearly, “Ennervate.”
Hermione’s eyes opened, gazing up at Draco dazedly.
“Swallow this,” he said, showing her the red potion.
Hermione shook her head. “It’s a cursed fever,” she repeated. “Anti-fever potions won’t work.”
“Then tell me, oh brilliant one, what am I supposed to do?” Malfoy said, a bit harshly. He didn’t like being wrong.
Hermione’s hair began slowly shifting color from black to brown as the Polyjuice Potion wore off.
“Harry," she said faintly. "I need Harry.”
I'm aware that this was a piteously short chapter, but I had to get out what I had written so far, because what I'm planning next deserves its own chapter. The next chapter will hopefully be out in a more timely manner than this one was. Thanks for reading! :)