Chapter 18 : Déjà Vu
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Alone in her bedroom in the Head Tower again, Hermione hastily emptied the contents of her drawers into a small beaded bag that lay at the foot of her bed. She didn’t bother trying to sort out the most essential things from the least, nor did she organize anything the way she normally would have. She didn’t have time.
Neville had gone to find Ginny.
The very second that he had realised what Hermione was about to do, the one thing that went against every previous feeling she had felt towards Draco Malfoy in the past six years, he went to get backup.
And Hermione wasn’t going to stick around and wait for them to return.
Draco was out there, probably being tortured for information or something worse, and Hermione was not just going to let anyone, Ginny or otherwise, stop her from finding him. She was his only hope; anyone else would probably laugh in her face if she told them what she knew and how she knew it all.
After tossing in a few books – including Important Modern Magical Discoveries, which she had received from Harry and Ron for Christmas a few days earlier – her packing was complete. Hermione snapped it shut and extended the strap so that she could wear it across her body, before snatching up her wand and hurrying out of the room. She took the steps two at a time, her eyes darting round for any sign of the imposter she had been sharing a tower with for the past four months.
But not a soul moved.
She was alone.
With a hand on the inside of the portrait that doubled as a door to the Head Tower, Hermione took one last look back at the place she had spent the last four months in. It looked cold and uninviting to her now, unfamiliar and unappealing to her eyes. She shut them, shaking her head. Everything that had happened, she wanted to erase.
But no matter how hard she tried, it wouldn’t fade, not completely.
She pushed the portrait open, stepping out into the afternoon sunlight pouring in through the various windows lining the corridor outside. She managed to walk about ten feet away from the portrait hole before she noticed two people approaching her from her right and looked round.
It was Ginny, with Neville in tow. They walked right up to her, until they were standing in her path, giving her no choice but to stand and wait for them to get whatever they had to do over with. It didn’t matter what they were really there for – it felt like an intervention to Hermione.
She narrowed her eyes at Neville tiredly, feeling slightly betrayed.
“Hermione, it’s not his fault,” Ginny explained, interrupting her thoughts and stepping into her line of sight. “Neville was just concerned, and he thought that if this was what you wanted – if you really were going to do this, you shouldn’t have to do it alone.” Slowly, Hermione’s eyes met Ginny’s soft and sincere hazel ones. “I messed up, okay? I shouldn’t have snapped at you back at the Burrow. I- I just want you to be happy, and if this – if finding Malfoy and bringing him back will make you happy, I can’t stand in the way of that.”
A small, appreciative smile crept up onto Hermione’s lips as she sheepishly looked away and adjusted the strap of her bag across her chest. “So… what you’re saying is…”
Ginny took a deep breath, rolling her eyes toward the ceiling and exhaling. “What I’m saying is just that…” she met Hermione’s eyes then with a small shrugging, “I’ve decided that I’m going with you.”
For a moment, Hermione stood there, perplexed by the words that her best friend had just spoken to her. It was customary for the person on the receiving end of such a revelation to be happy, even grateful for those words, but now, Hermione didn’t know what to feel. Except, she did feel something.
It was fear.
“That’s really nice of you, Ginny, but I can’t let you do –” Hermione began, walking round the redhead before being stopped with a hand on her forearm.
“I wasn’t asking your permission,” Ginny told her firmly. “I want to do this with you, okay? I can take care of myself.” As much as Hermione knew that statement to be completely true, she didn’t really want to take that chance. What would her mum say if she found out about this? What if she did get hurt?
Hermione didn’t think she wanted that blood on her hands, either.
But as she stood there, eyes locked with Ginny’s, she felt a sudden sense of deja-vu. This was exactly how the conversation had gone with Harry and Ron just before they had left her behind. Her heart squeezed at the memory, and at that moment, she knew what she had to do.
“Fine, you can come,” she replied then, pulling her arm from Ginny’s grasp. “But we have to hurry.”
Draco had never been very patient, but being locked in a dark, dingy room for what felt like years certainly didn’t help much. He had spent much of his day sitting on the edge of his bed, staring across the room – or dungeon, as he liked to think of it – at the door as he bounced his foot up and down and ran his hands through his greasy, sweat-ridden platinum blonde hair, not caring how messy or dirty it got at this point.
He had come to the conclusion – though not completely convinced – that whoever it was that had put him in there wasn’t going to kill him anytime soon. In fact, he actually believed that this crazy bloke may have been keeping him alive for a reason. Every couple of hours, food would be delivered to him through a hole that would appear in the door one minute, and then disappear again the next.
He ate it – of course he did – never once thinking about the possibility that it could be laced with a malicious potion, drugs, or even a poison that could be coarsing dangerously through his veins at that very moment, slowly killing him over time. That is, he hadn’t thought of those possibilities until now.
There the food sat, on a cold metal tray by the door, where it had been for the past few hours. And he had no intentions of picking it up anytime soon. Draco scratched his forearm and stood, beginning to pace around the room for something more exciting to do. He rolled his neck and ran his hands over his tired face, ignoring the grumbling of his stomach for the hundredth time that day. His eyes darted to the window for a split second, but that was all it took for him to start thinking again.
Thinking about life outside of this cruel prison.
He felt depressed, then his eyes started to sting with tears. He already had the tracks of old tears etched into his dirty cheeks, from nights spent crying himself to sleep every time he realised that he would have to spend yet another night in this place. He missed his mum, his dad – if he was really being honest with himself, even that stupid Potter, the Weasel, and their annoying Mudblood friend.
Draco stopped at the wall and punched it so hard that his knuckles started to throb, before resting his forehead against it and exhaling, images of that bushy haired Granger clouding his vision. Of all the girls he’d been associated with back at Hogwarts, this was the first (and only) one that he had been able to think of? This girl, with a big mouth and an even bigger mind, stupid teeth, and a knack for glaring at him whenever he pointed out the things that no one else had the guts to? Why not Daphne, or Astoria? Or Pansy – he’d even shagged her a few times.
Why the Mudblood?
Maybe this place really was starting to make him lose his mind, or maybe –
His thoughts were interrupted by a faint creaking sound that came from his left. Draco straightened up, slowly turning to face the direction from which the sound had come from, his eyes narrowing in resentment at the figure that now crowded the door way. But then, as he realised who it was, his eyes widened in shock.
He couldn’t believe who it was.
“Alright, this is it,”
Ginny’s brows furrowed as Neville helped her down from the thestral that they had been riding. She would have rode it alone, but given the fact that she couldn’t see one herself, she decided to just ride with Neville. It took quite a bit of care, but eventually Ginny found herself on two feet again. Her eyes found Hermione a little ways away, approaching what looked like a building half-submerged in the sand.
Neville tossed some raw meat between the two thestrals to keep them occupied, before they caught up with Hermione. She had stopped in front of the building. Ginny looked round, squinting as her eyes passed the horizon, where the sun was starting to go down in the west.
“Where are we?” she asked.
“Alexandria, Egypt,” Hermione replied, studying the gaping hole in the side of the building, before looking at the others and brushing her hair out of her face. “This is the lost tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony,” she explained, “I came here, among other places, just before school started, with my parents.”
“This… tomb,” Neville said, taking a step toward it, “You think Draco’s in there somewhere?”
Hermione shook her head. “No,” she admitted. “I think he’s been taken back to the palace that Chione and Cleopatra had lived in when they were alive, but it’s never been found. I’m just hoping that we can find some clues here,” And with that, she took the lead and ducked into the dilapidated building through the crumbling hole in the wall without delay.
Neville glanced at Ginny, before lighting his wand and following her inside.
The smell of the dark tunnel was harsh to an untrained nose, but Hermione knew it all too well. She kept her eyes on the floor, looking for the place where the floor had given way beneath her all those months ago, but it seemed so much farther away now. Behind her, Hermione heard a gagging noise.
“Bloody hell, Hermione,” exclaimed Ginny, putting her nose into the crook in her elbow and grimacing as her eyes darted round their surroundings. “How much further is it? I don’t think I can take this for much longer.” There was no response. Her brows furrowed. “Hermione?”
Again, it was dead silent in the tunnel. Ginny and Neville exchanged yet another, skeptical look and stopped. “Hermione, where –?”
Suddenly, a beam of light from Hermione’s wand, no less, shone up at them from the bottom of a hole in the floor a few inches from their feet. “What fresh hell…?” Ginny said, eyeing the hole in the floor.
Neville shrugged, putting his wand between his lips and lowering himself through the hole to the next floor below. Once he was on his feet, he helped Ginny down – the drop wasn’t as far as it seemed, but it was too dark to tell from above. They looked round, finding that they were now standing in a new, hidden room. Ginny coughed, putting her arm up to her nose again.
Down here, it smelled faintly of rotten eggs.
“What is this place?” Neville inquired, walking up to one of the walls covered in paintings and running his fingertips over the faces in his wandlight. He looked over his shoulder at the far end of the room, where Hermione was searching for something, anything at all.
“The tomb of Cleopatra’s lost sister Chione,” Hermione replied distractedly, feeling the wall in front of her.
Ginny’s eyebrows furrowed as she sidestepped a small spot of dried blood on the floor. “Lost sister?”
“She disappeared before her sister and her sister’s lover, Mark Antony, were killed in battle with the Romans,” explained Hermione. “No one knows where she went, or if she even lived much longer after that. That’s why she’s sometimes refered to as the lost princess.” Hermione’s eyes met Ginny’s for a long, lingering moment, before returning to their previous searching.
“Hm,” murmured Ginny to herself as she mulled this new information over, her eyes roving the dark space. She noticed the open (and empty) sarcophagus in the middle of the room, and the walls that were covered in paintings that she knew to be common during this time period in Egypt.
On a small rack pushed up against the wall, there were little jars. Ginny picked one up, blowing some of the dust off of it to watch the gold accents gleam in the light of her wand as she examined it.
“Oi, you guys,” called Neville, “I – I think I found something.”
He was standing a little ways to her left, about halfway between where Hermione stood and where Ginny was. Ginny set the jar back down and walked over to him, curious. Neville was looking at the wall in front of him. Hermione glanced at Ginny, catching her eye for a moment before looking back at Neville.
She ran a hand through her dark hair. “What is it, Neville?” Hermione inquired, shining her wand light on the wall in front of him, where he was pointing.
“Maybe it’s just me…” he began, slowly looking at Hermione, “but doesn’t that look a bit… familiar?”
Almost instantly, Hermione’s hand went to her chest, between her collarbones, where her time turner lay. Hermione pulled it out, looking down at it for a moment before taking it off and raising it to the indentation in the wall.
It fit perfectly.
She opened her mouth to speak, but suddenly there was a burst of light and they all jumped away from the wall. The light filled each of the cracks in the wall around the time turner, and the sand swirled round in the glass. Slowly, a section in the wall began to disappear, leaving the time turner to float aimlessly in the air where the wall used to be.
Hermione took the time turner from the air, her eyes transfixed on the corridor that had just appeared in front of them, and without hesitation, she moved toward it. “Come on,” she murmured, walking through the doorway that had just materialised before their very eyes.
Neville and Ginny followed after her without delay or a single question.
Stranger things had happened.
The floor was covered in cracked and very dull tile, some spots of gold, untouched by age and dust, gleaming every now and then. The walls were dark, long extinguished torches hanging on it uselessly every few feet or so. Ginny looked back the way they had come, but the doorway they had entered through was gone now, replaced by a new doorway with strings of beads handing from the frame to separate them from the darkness beyond them.
Ahead of the others, Hermione continued on down the corridor. Every few minutes an image would flash before her eyes like a photograph, the same as the scene before her only brighter, more regal and extravagant. She rubbed her eyes in irritation, but nothing she did could stop the images from coming.
Eventually, she stopped in the middle of a large, circular and high-ceilinged room. Across from her, she found there was a rise with four dust ridden, high-backed thrones that appeared as though they had once belonged to royalty. Once her eyes had fallen on those four thrones, the scene changed.
She stood in the middle of the hall, but everything was brighter and looked well-kept. Dishes gleamed in the torch light, filled to the brim with fruits and various types of meat; goblets were filled to the brim with deep red wine; and a quartet in the corner enveloped her in upbeat music. Across from her, three of the four seats were filled. A woman, in her late thirties with dark, pin-straight hair, a golden headband and matching bracelets encrested with gorgeous jewels, and wide, beautiful eyes. To her left was a young boy, clapping enthusiastically as the woman next to him sips from her goblet of wine, with a hint of a smile on her lips. On her right was a man, with dark eyes, shaggy blonde hair, and a gaze that seemed so familiar…
With one blink and a sudden gasp, Hermione was pulled back into the present, and she swayed on the spot. A hand on her shoulder steadied her, and she looked at Neville gratefully, only to find that his eyes were on something in front of them. His gaze was narrowed and suspicious.
“Neville, what’s –?” she began, following his gaze slowly. When she saw who it was she sucked in her breath.
Sitting in the last seat on the right was a man in a dark cloak with his hood pulled down low over his eyes. He was twirling a wand in his fingers, and a smirk could be seen just below where the edge of his hood stopped. When she looked at him, he slowly raised his head, and pushed his hood back to settle around his shoulders, his gray eyes finding Hermione almost immediately.
She swallowed hard, her jaw clenching. Ginny stepped up beside her on her right, tightening her grip on her wand and not taking her eyes off of the man that was now sitting before them for a second.
“Hello, Hermione.” The corners of his lips pulled upward ever so slightly, and his eyes flickered with malice.
It was Mark Antony.
Author's Note It's been two months, two months since I've updated this story. Can you believe it?! I am such a horrible, horrible person and should be subject to some horrible form of punishment. *hides under the covers of her very comfortable bed* You guys probably hate me so much for leaving you hanging like that for so long, but I'm trying! I won't promise that I'll update more often now, because I know that probably won't happen, but don't give up on me (well, I s'pose you could give up on me, but don't give up on the story!). I haven't forgotten this story!
Let me know what you thought about this chapter! All questions/comments/concerns/suggestions/praises/feedback in general is welcome. Feel free to yell at me for being so bad at updating, too. Anyway. Thank you so, so much for taking the time to read! You have no idea how much it means. :)
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