It was feeling rather cold. There was a soft, eerie, chilling that seemed to be riding across her stomach, crisscrossing about her navel and producing a small tickling sensation. Was it a hand? Gently tracing imaginary lines on her for some sort of amusement? No, it was someone’s breath. Someone was standing very, very near to her, and they were breathing onto the flesh of her stomach. If this wasn’t such a dire situation Hermione would’ve found this action to be enticing rather than frightening, and she tried to control her breathing. She didn’t want her stomach to flex. She didn’t want to be moving. But however much she didn’t want to, she found herself gently flinching at the feel of someone kissing her navel.
“If you’re going to rape me, then just do it.” Hermione found herself saying, her words were very soft, yet resounding loudly in her ears. She heard him laugh, chuckle really, and she could imagine the person staring at her up and down, a smile growing wide. And then the same breath that had been on her stomach was by her ear, and his voice was calm, certain, and very much amused.
“I’ve never had to resort to rape, Granger. And I never will.”
Hermione snapped her eyes open. Draco was standing much further away than she was sure he had been. She was gently swaying from left to right, now that she had begun wriggling around, and he just stared at her, his eyes only moving as she moved.
“You’re like a worm on a hook.” Draco commented, and then he huffed. “I wonder which fish you’ll catch.”
Draco shook his head readily as he began walking away. “I’m not attracted to this kind of bait, believe me.”
Hermione was furious. He was walking away and leaving her just the way she was. She groaned out of frustration, not caring about anyone who might’ve heard, and called to Draco before he was too far to hear her. “Don’t you ever touch me again.”
He stopped walking, taking a casual look back at her, and shook his head once again. “I never touched you.” Draco said calmly, and continued on his way.
Naturally Hermione didn’t believe him, but she wasn’t about to argue with him as he kept getting farther and farther away. It was then that she grew angry for the second time in five minutes because she remembered why she had gotten mad in the first place. Draco had just walked away. That was the second time that he had just left her, the first being on the ground near to Angela when he had told her to dig her out if Hermione had wanted to save her. She didn’t know what was tormenting her more, him just constantly leaving her, or the fact that he seemed completely uninterested in killing her.
“I’m losing my bloody mind.” Hermione mumbled to herself, determining that she had been hanging there for way too long.
“Mr. Atkins, we’ve narrowed down the possible places they could be.”
All eyes had turned to the Aurors that Atkins had sent out to look at the soil that Hermione had been so interested in. He ushered them in, glad to have the opportunity to look away from the screen after just seeing Charles McCoy get murdered and watching Hermione dangle like some ornament.
“The look of the trees and the ground is definitely telling us that they’re in some sort of rainforest, more than likely tropical.” An Auror explained. “Though knowing that only narrows us down to thousands of them in the world.”
“But, if we analyzed Hermione sniffing the air like she did correctly, we’re hoping that what she smelled was the salt of the ocean. That brings our search down considerably to those that are close enough to an ocean edge-”
“And of those, only twelve of them were heavily protected by spells and charms.”
“Twelve?” Atkins said in surprise. “Why so many..? They can’t all belong to the same bloody thing.”
“Maybe they do.” Harry piped up. “They can’t have the show in one spot all the time. They must all belong to whoever’s running this thing. The only question now is which one is Hermione and the others on.”
“We’re going to find out.” Atkins said sternly, and pulled up the screen that they had been watching the show on that had now gone to another commercial break. “I want a search team, a massive one. We’re going to each one of those twelve places and break down all those barriers. We’re going to find them.”
Everyone stood up from their seats and began following Atkins out of the room. Ron pulled Harry back for a moment and then gestured at the screen that was now gone.
“Hermione…Malfoy,” Ron swallowed and his face grew angry. “What the hell was he playing at?”
“I don’t know,” Harry frowned, knowing exactly what he was referring to. “But let’s just thank Merlin that Malfoy didn’t go any further. Come on, we have to stock up on potions before we get out of here.”
Hermione was now trying desperately to get down. She was swinging violently from left to right, trying to use as much of her strength to reach up to her ankle. It was proving difficult, and then to her delight, she saw from the corner of her eye a long stick protruding from what must’ve been her back pocket.
How could I have been so stupid! Her mind exploded, for she had completely forgotten that she had taken up Angela’s wand and kept it with her. Somehow it was still in her pocket even though she was hanging upside down, and no matter how magnificent the feat, she had no time to dwell on it now. Hermione took it out and pointed it at the rope around her ankle.
The rope severed and Hermione arched her body immediately so as not to land on her head. She fell onto her back and groaned at the feel of rough rocks poking into her back, one or two, she was sure, managing to break skin. She rolled over onto her side and looked down at her legs. They felt awful. Her right ankle by which she had been hanging was numb and her left leg, the force of gravity not giving her the ability or the strength to keep it extended, was sore and practically lifeless about the knee where it had been bent for…hours?
She sat up. She stared at the sky, trying to find the sun amidst all the trees that were blocking it and saw its position. She was guessing, but was sure that it had to be near four pm. That meant that she had been hanging in the air for roughly two hours, and right then and there Hermione began thanking Merlin because anyone could’ve found her within that time frame.
And speaking of dying, Hermione checked the wristband to see if anyone else had been crossed off the list. Her answer came out to be yes and now she was the only Auror left. She sighed, nodded, and accepted it, having no other choice but to. It was hard to tell from the photo but it seemed to her that there was blood everywhere. After a few seconds she determined that Charles must’ve died from an old-fashioned bleed-out. Whether by Draco’s hand or not, Hermione wasn’t sure, but she now felt extremely uncomfortable, and even more unsafe, knowing that she was the only one left. All the Aurors were always taken out first before the convicts turned on each other. It was now three against one and Merlin forbid they all found her at once. She wouldn’t stand a chance.
Hermione sighed. She found the wand that she had dropped lying near to her and she picked it up, placing it in the back pocket she had taken the other from. She looked down at her legs again and decided to test them out. She got up on all fours and then slowly made it to her feet, wincing terribly because of her right ankle and left knee. She was taking small steps in a circle to get the strength back in them, and it proved to be working. There was a small limp where her left leg was concerned, but there was nothing she could do about that except give it more practice.
Now feeling a bit more confident Hermione decided to head on her way and go into hiding. The sun would be setting in three to four hours and she hoped that by then, if the convicts couldn’t find her, they’d begin to kill each other, lowering down their numbers and giving her a fair shot. Hermione figured that with a place like this there was bound to be a cave somewhere or a ditch at the very least. It would provide as an excellent hiding spot until the morning.
Hermione was almost free of the clearing when she stopped. There were a pair of eyes on her, she knew it, and when she turned around she found that they had belonged to Vandy, who was wearing a wicked smile on his face and standing where she had previously stood.
“Merlin must hate me.” Vandy said with a faux-frown. He was near the rope that Hermione had cut, and his fingers were gently tracing it up and down as though it was a sincerely precious thing. “I set up this little trap, came back here every hour and a half or so to see if I had gotten lucky, and when I finally do, my catch escapes me.”
“A little lesson in setting traps, Vandy.” Hermione stared him in the eyes and made sure that the grip on her wand was steady. “You should never leave them unguarded.”
There was a short pause and without a warning Hermione casted a spell at his feet and took off without looking back. She flew through the forest at a speed that she didn’t know she had. The pain in her ankle and leg had disappeared completely due to the sudden adrenaline rush, and she kept going, refusing to slow down to see if what she had done had any positive effects. When there was a loud explosion, a terrible snap, and a tree ahead of her beginning to fall, Hermione knew that all she had done was pissed Vandy off. She quickly came to a halt as the tree hit the ground, but the force of Vandy’s next spell, though it had missed her by a few inches, was enough to throw her forward and over the tree, sliding onto the ground.
Vandy was fast. Before Hermione could lift her head up from the ground, she let out a shriek and took shallow breaths as she felt her head rise up by force, Vandy kneeling over her. He had grabbed a fistful of her hair and yanked on it hard, and then took his wand and pressed it against her throat.
“Now I see why Conrad is obsessed with you.” He breathed into her ear. “You’re a feisty one. If only all Aurors were like you.”
Hermione swallowed, feeling Vandy’s wand move against her throat as she did so. She was breathing through her nose furiously and knew that if she didn’t do something quickly her life would be ended with a simple spell. But what could she do? Her wand had rolled away from her hands and disappeared in the dirt and among the bushes and the one in her back pocket was completely out of reach with Vandy hovering over her like this.
“Get off of her.”
Hermione’s heart jumped at the voice, but she couldn’t look at who had come because Vandy was still holding her head back and all she could see was the trees. Her first thought at who their little visitor was, was Draco. She was praying feverishly that it was Draco, for so far during this little game he seemed to be on her side. But what their guest said next made her hope fail and her body to shake uncontrollably.
“I thought I told you that she was mine.” Conrad said as he slowly made his way towards them. He stopped not too far off, and Hermione knew that he was looking down at her, probably staring obsessively at her neck and the sweat and dirt that covered it.
Vandy sucked his teeth as he gave Hermione’s hair a rough tug in order to pull her up with him as he stood. She was in his arms now; pressed against the front of his body, his hot face against hers. She grimaced in disgust, though still thankful for pulling her into him like this. Though he was still hanging onto her hair pretty tight and his wand was pressing into her throat, Vandy was stupid in thinking that Hermione would do nothing with her hands which were now free and hanging limply at her sides.
“Yeah, yeah, I heard what you said down in the cell.” Vandy said gruffly. He gave Hermione a fond, yet maniacal look and then smirked as he turned back to Conrad. “But we’re on a bit of a schedule, now aren’t we? You don’t think I could’ve waited around just for you to kill her, do you?”
“Of course not… But I’m here now, and you need to give her up.”
Hermione’s breath quickened because she knew that Vandy and Conrad would battle it out right there with her directly in between them. Would they care if she got killed or severely hurt in the crossfire? Of course not, but she sure as hell would, and figured that she would have to cause the biggest diversion of her life. No, she wouldn’t attempt to rid of one of her competitors, much less the both of them, right then and there. That would just be suicide. Instead she would just run for her life.
As Conrad made a move to cast a spell at Vandy, Hermione was making hers as well. She had reverted to the simplest of ways of defense and stepped on her captor’s foot. Vandy let out a yelp as he instantly let go of her hair, too distracted by the pain he was now feeling. Hermione gave him a hard shove, causing him to stumble backwards and she quickly snatched her wand from her back pocket and did swift wand movements that resulted in Conrad being knocked over onto his left.
Hermione wasted no time and directed her wand at all the trees that surrounded her. She blasted them to pieces, sending debris flying everywhere. About three of the trees that she had destroyed weren’t able to be held up any more, and they all began falling one by one. Hermione watched in horror and amazement at the sight and then ran from the scene, one of her many desires being not to get crushed. As the trees hit the ground one after another, she heard a scream and knew that one of them had got someone.
If only I could know who… screamed Hermione’s thoughts, but she wouldn’t stop. She wouldn’t look back, and only began to slow down when instead of running across a level ground it began to feel like she was going downhill. She came to a full stop when her wrist began to tingle, and she saw Vandy’s face, utterly disappointed that it wasn’t Conrad. That’s when she started to think.
“If Conrad’s not dead, where is he?” Hermione said aloud, and her answer was immediate when she was tackled to the ground. Conrad came on strong like a brick wall, and she could feel all of his weight on her as she struggled against him. She was flat on her stomach, trying to wriggle free, but Conrad was no pushover. Hermione’s wand was free from her hands, and she watched it sorrowfully as it rolled away from her –far from ever being found. She was extending her arms as if trying to swim out from underneath Conrad, but he quickly grabbed them, forcing them behind her back and placing a huge amount of pressure.
What can I do! What can I do! Hermione thought frantically, and then tried as hard as she could to hit Conrad in the head with her own. At that attempt Conrad laughed, releasing one of her arms in order to place his hand around her throat. With one of her arms free, she suddenly thought of Evans’ and managed to place her hand on what was either a rock or a tree branch. She swung it up awkwardly, sure that he had seen, and he had, catching her arm and somehow being able to turn Hermione over so that she was lying on her back.
Thank Merlin… She smiled, and kicked Conrad awkwardly, but it still had the desired effect. She had never heard a man yell harder in her life and was more than happy when he rolled off of her to attend to himself. She saw that they were fighting each other at the top of a hill, and was soon to be all too pleased at watching him roll down it when Hermione noted horribly that Conrad still had a grip on her. As he went down, she went down also, and the two of them became tangled in one another as they tumbled with great speed down the hill.
Hermione could feel wounds opening up as she fell and possibly the spraining, if not breaking, of a few bones. She wondered when they would stop falling and hit the level ground, but there was none in sight. Instead her eyes grew wide as she found herself freefalling into the air, below her a deep, brown-colored lake.
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. The water was absolutely freezing, and it caused Hermione to snap her eyes open fiercely at the feel of it. The drop had been long as well as the swim up to the surface. She took a deep breath once her head was above the water, and then gasped when she was yanked back down below it.
Hermione had momentarily forgotten that Conrad was just a step behind her, him too falling into the lake with a huge splash. He must’ve had lost his wand, but that wasn’t stopping him. He would drown her, and Hermione tried kicking at him to make him release her leg, but her movements under water were of no help to her. Instead she stopped struggling, allowing Conrad to bring her down to eye-level. Hitting, punching, or anything of the sort would do no good, so Hermione did a very animalistic thing.
She bit him.
Hermione drew close to Conrad and bit him in the neck. He let out a cry that was masked by the water, but only understood as one due to the bubbles. Temporarily distracted, she swam down to his feet, having caught the sight of rope that was drifting nearby and attached to something that she couldn’t see. She messily wrapped it around his ankle before he realized where she had gotten to. Hermione wasn’t even sure if a knot had been made, or if at the very least it would hold, but she wasn't going to stick around to find out.
Conrad darted out for her, but Hermione swam out of his reach, heading towards the surface. She was running out of air and took the biggest inhale of her life once she had reached the surface for a second time. The was a loud splashing sound not too far from her and Hermione faced it, realizing that it was Conrad erratically flailing his arms, trying to get to the top. She continued swimming away, looking back from time to time to see if he was still stuck under the water. He still was, his struggles slowing down until they were nothing, the water suddenly looking as though it had never been disturbed.
Hermione crawled onto land, clutching onto the rough soil for dear life as if she would somehow roll back into the lake. She laid there on the ground, panting, and then sat up in a pile of dirt and stared at the water. Flinching in disgust, she saw Conrad’s arm float atop the water while the rest of it lay submerged underneath the surface. Her wrist began to burn and Hermione winced as she looked at it. Conrad’s face was illuminated and a second later a red X was placed over it. Hermione huffed, wondering whose face would become that way for the last and final time.
author's note:well, hello again to all :) first about draco, must say that he's such a cute type of dangerous. second, hermione managed to kill two birds with one stone, and third, its only her and draco left... oh the possible things that could happen lol.
thanks for your previous reviews, all of your reads and i hope that you guys liked the new chap!
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