Hermione jerked in surprise and fear; never had she felt as vulnerable as that moment when she clung to Draco, naked and exhausted, her eyes traveling instantly to the source of the noise.
A black-haired man blinked in the dim light of the room. “Lumos!”
As light washed over the bed, Draco was already lunging for his wand, which lay next to the bed in the pocket of his discarded pants.
“Harry!” shrieked Hermione, recognizing the intruder. She scrabbled for the thick comforter to cover herself.
“Bloody hell!” cried Harry, dropping his wand as he took in the sight of the naked body of his best friend.
Draco snatched up his wand and pants, sliding them on quickly before he faced Harry, livid.
Harry looked utterly horrified.
“Accio clothes,” Draco snapped coldly, summoning Hermione’s Auror uniform from the chair near where Harry had appeared. They’d left them there earlier that evening after Hermione had changed into the dress. He tossed the clothes to Hermione. “Mind if we dress, Potter?” he hissed angrily, blocking Harry’s view of Hermione.
Harry swallowed audibly and bent to scoop up his fallen wand. He couldn’t even argue through his shock and dismay at the revelation that Draco and Hermione were clearly sleeping together. “I’ll leave the room,” he choked out, green eyes very wide. “But I need to talk to you once you’re...decent,” he said to Hermione, his face very red. He nearly ran from the room.
Absolutely mortified, Hermione began quickly dressing. She recovered her bra from across the room with a flushed face.
“I’m going to do it—I’m going to do what the Dark Lord never did—I’m going to kill Harry bloody Potter,” Draco growled furiously, stalking to a massive mahogany armoire and rummaging through it for a shirt.
“How did he find us?!” Hermione gasped, buttoning up her shirt. “I thought you said that no one could track us here!”
Draco turned to face her, fully dressed. “There are so many wards on this place that it would take months just to take half of them all off,” he growled, taking her head in his hands. His words were harsh and angry, though his hands were gentle; they shook as they cupped her cheeks. “I may actually kill him for ruining this moment,” he confessed, his face flushed and lips red from their earlier activities.
Hermione blushed at his rare display of emotion. “Try not to,” she said, a small smile on her face.
“If he tries to arrest either one of us, I can’t make any promises,” Draco said, completely serious this time. He lowered his head and pressed a soft kiss on Hermione’s lips.
Hermione shuddered at the thought of Draco and Harry fighting. Though Draco knew many Dark curses that Harry didn’t, Harry had defeated Lord Voldemort. She honestly didn’t know who would win a fight between the two of them and did not want to find out. She followed Draco out of the bedroom, a tight grip on her wand.
As they entered the living room, Harry stood up quickly from one of the sofas. Face pale, he faced the two angry lovers almost sheepishly.
Draco’s posture was openly hostile; his wand was in his hand at the ready, his eyes were snapping with anger, and his mouth was a hard line.
Harry appeared to ignore this, focusing instead on Hermione. “Listen, Hermione, I just—”
“How did you find me?” Hermione interrupted. Her keen mind was focused on that before all else.
Harry blushed even more than he already was. “While you were in St. Mungo’s, I configured your Auror badge to have a wizarding sort of GPS chip in it so I can always find you,” he confessed, his eyes focused on the floor. “It works like a rubber band; it snaps and pulls me to the object—allows me to bypass anti-apparation wards.”
Draco looked confused, but being muggleborn, Hermione knew exactly what GPS was. “That’s actually really clever,” she admitted. “Completely out of line and intrusive, but clever.”
“After you left, I didn’t know how else to find you,” Harry said desperately. He looked haggard. “I had to warn you! These people are incredibly dangerous—you don’t understand! Earlier tonight we found a woman who had been choked to death with her own tongue. Do you have any idea how sick someone has to be to do something like that?”
Hermione glanced sideways at Draco, who had gone pale. Though not a member of the group who had created the curse, he was the one who had cast it. His face was composed into the cool mask that Hermione knew so well, the one that revealed nothing.
“I know how dangerous they are, Harry!” she exclaimed. “You can’t honestly still be on about not wanting me to get hurt, are you? I am not a child!”
Harry ran his fingers through his hair anxiously. “No matter how I try to protect you, you find yourself in danger anyway! Don’t you understand that I don’t want to lose you, too?! This job is insanely dangerous,” he yelled, anguish in his voice. He hadn’t slept in days—his worry and stress level were at an all time high. “I never wanted you to be an Auror, but you wouldn’t listen to me!”
Thrown off-guard by Harry’s sudden outburst, Hermione just stared at him blankly. Finally, she managed to say, “I’ve solved a lot of cases, Harry. You know that I can take care of myself.”
“Ron died to protect you!” he yelled, tears in his eyes.
Hermione froze as her best friend erupted. Her mouth dropped open in shock. “Are you blaming me for his death?” she asked disbelievingly. A sinking feeling rushed through her as Harry voiced the thought that had lurked in her own mind for years.
“What the hell is wrong with you, Potter?” Draco snarled. He gripped Hermione’s hand firmly to lend her his quiet support.
“Mr. Potter?” said a sleepy voice.
Harry whipped around at hearing Gary’s voice coming from the hallway. “Gary?!” he exclaimed.
While he was effectively distracted, Hermione took her chance. “I—I’m sorry, Draco,” Hermione breathed, sliding her hand out of his. Before Draco could stop her, she had turned in a tight circle and disapparated right in front of him.
The night was silent as Hermione appeared at her destination. A few crickets chirped around her feet, and the crescent moon shining overhead provided ample light in which to see.
Gravestone after gravestone littered the healthy green grass of the famous Harry Potter Cemetery. Harry had protested the name, but the woman in charge of naming the cemetery had named it after him anyway. This cemetery was reserved specifically for those who had died in the war against Voldemort. Flowers littered the graves, charmed to never fade or wilt.
Hermione quickly aimed her wand at the Auror badge gleaming on her uniform. “Finite Incantatem,” she murmured, hearing the soft whoosh as the tracking charm on it dissipated. Next she said the incantation that would prevent Locator charms from working on her. Hermione made her way past the gravestones, recognizing names along the way. Tears came to her eyes as she approached her target.
Some graves were so surrounded by flowers that the headstone could barely be seen. Ron Weasley’s was one such grave. Hermione walked up to it, holding back her tears. Flowers moved and encircled her as she sat down, leaning her back against the headstone.
“I miss you, Ron,” Hermione said softly. Harry’s words had crushed her and made all of her grief return in full. Harry was right. If she had just been stronger, Ron wouldn’t have needed to jump in front of her to save her. She’d blamed herself for years over it, but had finally managed to convince herself that it hadn’t been her fault. Harry’s words had brought all of the guilt back.
She probably shouldn’t have run off, and she knew that Draco would probably call this insane and foolish, but she didn’t care. She just wanted to be with Ron. It had been a long time since she had visited him.
She closed her eyes and inhaled the scent of the flowers. The fragrance of the flowers filled her nose and lulled her into a half-doze. She was truly exhausted. Everything that had happened so far that day had tired her to such an extent that it was impossible for her to keep her eyes open. Before she knew it, she had fallen asleep, her wand clenched tightly in her lap. She was so completely unconscious that she didn’t hear soft footsteps approaching her several hours later.
It was the bright sun warming the ground that woke Hermione the next morning. She sat up straight, sensing that something was wrong. She could hear nothing; the cemetery was absolutely silent. There were no sounds of birds, insects, nothing. She pressed her hands to her ears in confusion. As she lowered them, she gasped as she noticed a translucent quality to them that was certainly not natural. “I’m under a Disillusionment Charm,” she realized aloud. Though she knew that she had indeed spoken the words, she heard nothing. She tried to speak again, putting her hand to her throat, where she felt her vocal cords vibrate. Her speech was fine—it was her ears that weren’t working.
“Finite Incantatem!” she cried, beginning to be frightened. The Disillusionment Charm broke, as did whatever deafening charm she was under. Sound filled her ears—the chirping of birds, the chattering of a pair of nearby chipmunks, the gentle whoosh of the breeze.
Hermione scrambled to her feet, wand at the ready, looking for whoever had cast Disillusioning and deafening charms on her. The cemetery was empty but for her and the graves. But the graves around her...some of them were scarred with what looked like spell-marks that definitely had not been there the night before. Had some sort of fight transpired while she slept?
Hermione bent down to look at the grass around her. It was trampled and broken as it hadn’t been last night.“What is going on?” she murmured uneasily. Why would someone have cast those two particular spells on her? And what had happened while she had been hidden and deaf so that she wouldn’t know what was going on?
The neatly-kept cemetery seemed to change from a comforting place to threatening, all in a few seconds. She shivered and stretched. Draco would probably be worrying about her, so she decided to go back to his penthouse. She disapparated quickly, leaving the troublesome scene behind.
The apartment was completely empty. Harry, Gary, and Draco were all gone. Hermione wandered the empty rooms, noticing no signs of a fight or struggle. Where had Draco gone? Had he gone to search for her? Perhaps he had gone for a walk or to eat breakfast somewhere. She decided to take a shower while he was gone.
The bathroom in Draco’s penthouse was incredibly luxurious—much more so than in Hermione’s humble flat. While she only had a shower, there was actually a bathtub in this one. She looked longingly at it for a moment before deciding that she would be better off just taking a quick shower.
Hermione relaxed under the comforting hot water, washing away the sweat and stress of the past few days. A blush infused her cheeks as she imagined taking a shower with Draco. A sudden urge swept through her to find him, and she hurriedly finished her shower.
As she stepped out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel, she noticed an owl perched on the window sill in the one of the bedrooms. At spotting her, the owl gave a soft hoot and fluttered over, dropping a letter on her head.
“Ouch!” Hermione cried as something hard inside the letter smacked against her head. The owl ruffled its feathers and flew back out the window. Hermione rubbed her head ruefully and picked up the letter. Holding her towel against her with one hand, she used the other to open the letter.
Brooke, wrote the neat handwriting, your presence is required at an auction tonight at 6 p.m. We’ve located Draco Malfoy and will be reprising a few curses for our patrons’ entertainment. This Portkey will activate at 5:50 this evening. August.
The brass knob that had accompanied the letter fell from Hermione’s nerveless fingers as she slumped against the wall, feeling faint. The surge of horror that swept through her was shocking in its intensity.
A cold dread settled in her heart as she looked shakily at the clock. It was only 11 o’clock in the morning. She had nearly seven hours until the Portkey would activate. Even once she got there, she would have only a few minutes before the auction began—nowhere near enough time to rescue him.
These thoughts and more surged through Hermione’s brain as she quickly dressed in her Auror uniform, which she cleaned magically with her wand. Grabbing her things from the kitchen, she disapparated quickly to find Harry.
Sorry about the long wait for such a short chapter, but I needed to get this chapter out there before I could post the next one, which will be much longer :) I promise that it will be less than a week until the next chapter's up! Thank you for your patience.
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