Chapter 22 : A Narrow Escape
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Draco was sitting uncomfortably in his father’s office, sipping tea, and trying to focus on what the man was saying. Suddenly, there was a ruckus in the hallway, then the door swung open, where his mother lead Greyback the werewolf, along with several other snatchers, into the office, dragging five prisoners. Immediately, Draco saw Hermione’s bushy hair, and nearly called out. The group began to argue with one another, but Draco was hardly there. He only wanted them to turn the group, so he could see Hermione.
“Well, Draco, is it?” His father leered. “Is it Potter?”
Draco was snapped back into the moment. “I can’t be sure.”
Still the questioning went on. Draco, who was trying his hardest to keep his thoughts locked tight with occlumency, kept his answers short, to I don’t know, and it could be. He nearly slipped for a moment, when they turned the group so he could identify the ‘mudblood’. His heart leapt into his throat. Hermione was crying, staring at him like some lost, helpless creature. He wanted to cut her free, wash her tears, and get her out of those muddy, wet clothes. He wanted to have some sort of power over the group he was standing in, but he had none, so instead, he said “Could be.”
The group decided without his help that is must be Harry Potter. Draco was still staring at Hermione, trying to say something with his eyes. It seemed she was trying to do the same, only the tears were refracting the message, and he wasn’t sure what she was saying. He was however, painfully aware that Hermione’s ring was not on her finger. He prayed it had just been taken when she was captured, not that she had given up. perhaps even regretted Draco. His thoughts raced back to his own watch, to the two arrows, now both at peril. Hermione saw the flash of his eyes for a moment, when the light glinted off the water forming there.
Belatrix ordered them into the cellar, then decided to keep Hermione for questioning. Before Draco could quell his urge to call out, Ron beat him to it.
“No, leave her alone. Take me instead!”
Draco’s mouth opened, and he felt his heart break a little more. Draco was ushered out of the room by his father, before his aunt and parents closed themselves in the room with his fiancé. He leaned his forehead against the wall, gripping his wand tightly in his pocket. He was weighing out which would be the stupider thing to do, rush in and take Hermione away when he had no plan, no idea how to get Harry or Ron out, and he couldn’t go with them. His dark mark made him trackable by the dark lord at any moment. It would be an instant before he would be dead, just as soon as the news reached him. Then again, he couldn’t do nothing. Belatrix had killed people she was ‘questioning’ before.
Draco cringed as Hermione let out her first scream. Draco let go of his wand and sauntered into the room once more, getting a look from both his father and Belatrix. They both knew he was a shoddy excuse for a Death Eater. He still hadn’t killed anyone.
He winced each time Hermione did, but he kept his eyes locked onto hers. He was trying to keep her looking at him, keep her focus on something, anything that wasn’t her current predicament. She screamed and sobbed but tried to look at him as well, when her eyes weren’t sealed shut in pain.
Then Belatrix yelled crucio, and Hermione began to writhe.
Draco found the most arrogant, nonchalant voice he could and said, “You know, you might not want to harm her permanently, Bella.”
“What are you on about?” She had stopped the curse and was now looking at him, with her wand in his direction.
“Potter wasn’t exactly a genius at school, and god knows Weasley is a sod. I imagine if they’ve planned or are planning anything clever, it’s her doing. The Dark Lord might not want you damaging such a resource.”
“If I can’t get the information out of her,” Bellatrix began.
“Then the Dark Lord can break it out of her mind in a second.” Then, he had a thought,“Even Snape could. Perhaps we should get him.”
“No, no one else is getting involved until we’re sure what to do.” His father said sternly, “But he’s right, Bella, don’t kill the girl.”
The woman leered at her nephew before turning back to Hermione, who was looking gratefully at Draco. Draco couldn’t help but smile, half from her safety, half from the locket, which in the struggle of the cruciato, had come out from under her shirt. And hanging on the chain of the locket, like a tiny jeweled bead, was her engagement ring shrunken at least four times smaller, so as to hide.
Narcissa saw the two share this look as well, and she also saw the locket around the girl’s neck and remembered it had been hers, a treasure that Draco had once cherished.
Harry and Ron had burst into the room, as Bellatrix threatened to kill Hermione again. Ron’s yells covered up Draco’s own. Then, as they battled and lost, and as Bellatrix continued to threaten Hermione, something happened. The Chandelier on the roof began to sway with the rhythm of Draco’s thoughts, just as things had once done when he was a child.
“I’ll kill her. I’ll kill her. For Hermione, tonight, I’ll kill her.”
Then it came crashing and it fell down on Bellatrix, Ron, Harry, Hermione, and the goblin fled.
“After them!” Lucius called.
Draco was already out the door.
“Which way did they go?” Another lackey called.
“I’ll go right, you left.” Draco said, fully knowing they had gone right.
It wasn’t long before he caught up to the foursome, who were cornered and lost in the maze of a manor.
“Where are you going?” Draco asked.
Harry was still pointing a wand at Draco. Ron was trying to, as he held Hermione up. She was weak, and sobbing to herself.
Draco quickly took her from Ron. “Only Malfoys can apperate in and out of the Manor. Tell me where you’re going.”
“Shell Cottage.” Harry finally gave in, “Bill and Fleur’s.”
As the words left his mouth, the group left the ground. When they got to the cottage, Ron helped Draco get Hermione inside, as Harry made sure no one had followed.
“I’ve only got a few moments.” Draco said to Hermione, kissing her on the forehead. “But I’m here for now.”
She was still weeping, she was nearly hysterical. She wouldn’t stop.
Ron was trying too, to no avail. He was looking terrified, and kept touching her stomach, before being swatted away by Hermione.
“What’s going on?” Draco said, watching the two.
Hermione was still in his arms, but she had crumpled into them and wasn’t paying attention to anything.
“Tell me what is going on!” He bellowed, fire in his eyes going from Ron to Harry, who had just entered the room.
“Erm,” Ron mumbled, swallowing.
He was barely audible over Hermione’s sobs. Bill and Fleur, who were waiting quietly in the kitchen for it all to stop, could barely hear the conversation.
“I swear, I’ll-“
“You’ll upset her more.” Harry whispered. He pulled on Malfoy’s arm, urging him to leave Hermione with Ron and follow him.
They went into the hallway, out of Hermione’s ear shot if she was paying attention.
“What’s wrong with her? What’s going on?” Draco pleaded.
“She’s terrified, she-“
“I can see that!”
Harry held up his hand. “I don’t want to be the one telling you this, and I wish it weren’t at a time like this, but something has happened since you’ve left. Something-“
“Spit it out, Potter.”
“Hermione is-was pregnant.”
Draco nearly collapsed. “Me?”
Harry watched him turn pale, “Think, did you do any spell to stop it?”
Draco opened his mouth, then closed it.
“She was doing fine, I promise. Ron was taking care of her like a mother hen. Only, now with the cruciatus, it’s possible that it…”
Draco slumped to the floor. “If I had known…”
“It’s my fault we ended up there to begin with.”
But Draco wasn’t listening. He dug into his pocket, pulling out his watch. He stared at it for a moment though tears, before shakily getting to his feet and making his way over to Hermione. Draco leaned down in front of her, where she was weeping now in Ron’s arms.
“Everything’s going to be okay.” Draco said, kissing her on the lips. “It’s still there.” Draco’s hand came close to Hermione’s stomach, but couldn’t will himself to touch it.
“You’re lying to me. You don’t want me upset.” She mumbled out.
“No, darling.” Draco now took Hermione from Ron, and pulled her into his lap. “Just after I left, a second hand turned up on the watch. I didn’t know what was going on, but now I know it was us. That hand is in the same place it was before you showed up tonight. Look.”
Draco showed Hermione the watch, which as he said had another small arrow. While it was pointed at peril, it was not at the ominous heading Hermione had begrudgingly yet decidedly put on the watch all those months ago. ‘Death’ was at the very bottom of the watch, where 6 would usually sit. Hermione hadn’t wanted Draco second guessing anything about her absence these past months, so had put it on. Now, she could see that in fact her own arrow was leaning from peril just slightly in the direction of death, but the much smaller one was still squarely at peril.
She laughed a little.
“It’s been ten minutes,” Bill whispered from the opening into the kitchen.
Draco kissed Hermione firmly and she lead the intwined hands to her stomach, before he broke apart from her and apperated home.
Back at the mansion, he made his way to his father’s office.
“Where have you been?” His father shouted.
His mother looked on the verge of tears.
“I was searching everywhere, making sure I didn’t miss them somewhere.”
“Alright,” Lucius’ shoulders loosened a bit.
Draco was lying on his bed, staring at his pocket watch as slowly both hands began to creep a little away from peril. It was a fraction of a degree, but it still made Draco grin. His mother knocked once before letting herself into the room.
She stared at her son for a long time, as he looked up from his bed at her.
She placed a small scrap of paper on his desk, then turned quickly and ran down the hall.
The paper said, “I’ll try to keep your secret. I love you.”
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