Chapter 10 : The Time is Now
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Behind the dense curtain of fog, the intimidating silhouette of Malfoys Manor was to be seen casting a nebulous shadow over the long and cobbled path. Dead trees waved their long spindly branches in the air, like veins in the blood of the night. The bark had flaked off in spots, diseased with a forging moss that stewed for years and ate its way into the tree’s innards, killing it from the inside out. Instinctively Draco reached out, wrapping a protective arm around Hermione. Her skin was numbing.
“Should have brought a jacket…” Draco muttered. Hermione looked up at him in disbelief.
“Draco, we are about to walk into a death trap and all you’re thinking about is how we should have brought a jacket!? To be perfectly honest, I think pneumonia and frostbite would be a much preferred cause of death than whatever is in that house.” She snapped, jabbing her finger towards the manor. Before he could reply, Hermione began marching towards the gates.
“How are we supposed to get in?” She demanded, rattling the gates hopelessly.
“Hermione, don’t you think you’re being a little hasty?” Draco asked smiling at her weakly, alarmed at her bubbling and instantaneous temper.
“Sorry, am I expected to stand outside worrying about the foreboding that lives inside of that hell house?!” She spat, tears streaming under her temper.
“That hell house happens to be my home, Hermione.”
“Don’t get all defensive now, Malfoy! How do I get in?”
Malfoy, that was the first time in days that she had referred to him by his last name. He tapped his wand against the metal gates which silently swung open. Hermione swallowed as she cautiously stepped through them. Draco followed, his eyes unable to stay fixed in one spot for more than a fraction of a second.
“Maybe you should put the cloak on?” He offered. He pulled out the cloak and draped it over her shoulders. All doubt Draco ever had of the cloak dispersed as he watched in awe as Hermione disappeared into the foreground.
“You’re going to have to keep talking to me, Hermione. I can’t see you!”
“That’s the whole purpose of the cloak, Draco. Come on, let’s go.” He heard her reply nervously. By the tone of her voice, Draco knew how scared she actually was. Of course she had confessed that the thought of going to the manor frightened her, which was only understandable considering the raw facts; Malfoys Manor was the headquarters of the deatheaters and Voldemort himself. However Hermione was strong, courageous and brave, a true Gryffindor, so no matter how weak her voice was her facial expression would never betray her and would always remain strong and fearless no matter what the situation.
Granting that the two were approaching the foreboding chalky home belonging to the Malfoys, their sketchy plan was now being questioned by the two of them. Up to now, they had established that they needed to return to the manor, more than likely to the room where Draco’s untimely death occurred, however their plan consisted of nothing more than that. Before arriving, they were both confident and certain that this was how Draco would move on to the afterlife he deserved, so he could finally be at peace with himself. Although, if Draco was to be honest with himself, with Hermione he was at peace with himself, he couldn’t think of a better afterlife
.A biting chill trickled down Hermione’s spine as Draco pushed open the medieval black oak door that stood between them and hell itself. Glancing around nervously, she saw sombre portraits staring at her from behind layers of dust that had gathered over the many years of nonelection, seemingly penetrating her very being. Cold, hesitant light streams in through a cracked window, casting eerie shadows on the walls. As she began to warily walk forward, Hermione couldn't help but feel that someone was following her. Whirling around, she saw nothing but the empty hallway and the faces in the portraits staring back at her, apparently they could see through the enchanted cloak that was protecting her.
“Even I can’t walk through this door without feeling that there’s someone stalking me, Hermione… don’t worry, I’ve got your back.” He swallowed.
“Young Draco! I see you have returned with a friend!” Draco twisted abruptly to see the portrait of his Grandfather, Abraxas, smiling down at him. Even when he was alive, his smile was always hiding something, never did he smile for simply being happy to see someone, oh no, this was Abraxas Malfoy, questionably more cold hearted than the Dark Lord himself.
“Evening, Grandfather.” He stated simply, politely even. Hermione stood holding her
breathe, so far she had acknowledged that the portrait of the elderly, sour looking man was Draco’s Grandfather Abraxas and as far as she was concerned, despite being covered by the cloak, she was still perfectly visible to him, however she was still struggling on the “how”.
“Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?” He asked, his smile widening. Coming from anyone else, this question would have been an innocent one, however coming from Abraxas Malfoy, the man who was father to Lucius, this question caused Hermione to quiver.
Before Draco was given the chance to answer, the door at the far end of the foyer swung open and in stormed Narcissa Malfoy. Hermione’s head instantly snapped towards Draco whose face had turned sorrowful. His glassy steel-like eyes had turned watery and his already opal skin had turned bloodless. Narcissa’s featured were sharp, very much like Draco’s. Her long blonde hair fell gracefully to her waist, forming natural curls at the tips. Just like Draco, she was beautifully pale with sky blue eyes. Despite belonging to the Black family before the Malfoys, Narcissa’s appearance showed no signs of this.
“Abraxas,” Her cold, clear voice started, “May I enquire as to whom you are speaking?”
“Good evening, Narcissa! Wonderful night, is it not?” He slickly answered. Narcissa folded her arms impatiently.
“I have no time for you childish behaviour, Abraxas! You will tell me who you were talking to, now!” She commanded, now clicking her heels against the cold stone floor.
“Oh Narcissa, your tone offends me.”
“Do not eve-”
“I was talking to Draco, Cissy.” Abraxas interrupted. The change in her body language was impossible to go unnoticed, much like Draco had when he saw his mother, Narcissa’s skin had turned deathlike, her eyes full of fury.
“What kind of sick game are you trying to play, Abraxas?” She screeched. Hermione shuffled closer to Draco and laced her fingers through his, giving him a reassuring squeeze. Draco couldn’t help but remember back to his death, when he locked eyes with his mother and wanted to give her hand a reassuring squeeze.
“You know full well that Draco’s gone, and you know full well how much that affected this household!” She continued, tears streaming down her cheeks. Hermione had been told of the close relationship between Draco and his mother. She couldn’t even begin to imagine the pain the both of them were feeling right now. Draco not being able to speak to or be seen by his mother, and Narcissa being played by her father-in-law about her recently deceased son. Hermione knew that Narcissa adored Draco, and Draco, in turn, held his mother in great esteem. If anyone dared insult her, they could expect a hex or two and a trip to the hospital wing.
“You will speak no more of this!” She finished. Swiftly turning on the spot, she marched in the direction from which she had just appeared, slamming the door behind her.
Hermione turned, about to ask Draco if he was okay, however before she had the chance to open her mouth Draco spoke smoothly and hastily. “Nice to see you again, Grandfather.” And headed in the direction of the door that had recently been slammed by his mother. Hermione shot a weak smile towards Abraxas, who smirked in reply, before trailing behind Draco through the door.
They entered a poorly lit hallway, with numerous doors spread out leading to unknown rooms. Shadows appeared to swirl around their feet, sucking them in. Hermione reached for her wand, “Lumos” she whispered, however the room remained immersed in darkness. She shot a look of utter panic towards Draco, who, despite living here, appeared to have duplicated her panic.
“Which room is it?” Hermione breathed.
“That one, I think.” He said, pointing at a door to their left. Hermione examined the bottom of it, no light was to be seen seeping through, however no light seemed to be seeping through from anywhere.
“How will we tell if it’s vacant?”
“Well, I could go in and inspect it?”
“Because no one’s going to notice the door opening and closing?”
“We’ll just have to find out, won’t we?” He shrugged. Draco shuffled towards the door and hesitated to look at Hermione who nodded in encouragement.
“It’s going to be okay.” She whispered back, she nodded for the second time and watched as Draco opened the door and crept in.
Relief washed over Draco as he realised there was nobody but himself in the room. He turned to call for Hermione who obeyed and hurriedly scuttled in, shutting the door gently behind her. She peered around anxiously, the room had a sorrowful aura, it reminded Hermione of the dementors, all the happiness that once could have filled the room had been drained.
“This is the place?"
If Hermione hadn’t looked up towards Draco, she would never have got his response. His lips read the word “yes” however no sound came out. The memories all came flooding back to him, having the chains bound around him, his mothers in tears mouthing “It’s going to be okay” and the ripping pain of the crutiatus curse. A tear escaped the corner of his eye, he never even had a chance to say goodbye to his mother. He felt Hermione’s hand take a hold of his as she reached up and planted a soft kiss on his cheek. As he looked up, he’d realised she’d taken off the cloak, however before he warned her that it still wasn’t safe, something else caught the corner of his eye; the Malfoys family tree. He trailed over to the wall that held pictures of his ancestors, he traced the tree until he eventually found his mother and father and right at the bottom, himself. Instead of his picture turning greyscale, it had a brutal black smudge smeared across his face with the word “deceased” scribbled carelessly underneath.
“That bastard.” He muttered, bowing his head.
“Draco…” Hermione started softly, however he refused to allow her to attempt to comfort him.
“In front of my mother? How cold hearted is that… that beast!” He bellowed, “He could have at least taken me to a separate room, to save my mother the burden!” As he finished, he turned to Hermione.
“This was pointless, I’m still here.” He sighed, dropping his shoulders.
“Is there somewhere else?” She asked hopefully.
“Nowhere… let’s go”
Hermione pursed her lips and nodded. She took one final glance at the inanimate melancholic room before following Draco out of the door. They walked briskly towards the door leading to the foyer, where Abraxas would surely be awaiting with a crude comment or a sly smirk.
“I think you should put the cloak back on, it’s not safe!” Draco muttered to Hermione.
“I quite agree.” An unexpected sharp voice cackled.
Hermione turned recklessly and gasped. Facing her was a woman with dark hungry heavy-lidded eyes and wild menacing ebony hair. A fierce smile played along her thin lips as she came to recognise the girl standing horror-struck in front of her. Hermione opened her mouth to scream however Draco’s movement was quicker as he raised his hand to cover her mouth.
“If you scream, you’ll be faced with something a lot more terrifying than my aunt Bellatrix.” He hissed into her ear. He lowered his hand and Hermione slowly shut her mouth. She started backing away slowly, her footsteps echoing through the dark, ominous hall way. Bellatrix let out a high-pitched giggle.
“Where you going, sweetie?” She whispered. Hermione refused to answer and instead continued to back away, accelerating after each step.
“Hermione, I want you to listen very carefully to me,” Draco started, walking hurriedly besides her, “when I tell you to, you have to run.” Hermione remained silent but nodded, not daring to take her eyes off the intimidating figure approaching her.
“Run!” Draco yelled at her. Hermione turned and bolted down the lurid corridor, ignoring the cramp that was building in her abdomen.
“Don’t you run from me, you filthy mudblood!” She heard Bellatrix screech, “Avada Kedavra!”
“No!” Draco bellowed as he watched Hermione’s body turn limp and fall to the ground. He couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed, he felt physically and mentally sick. Tears fell from his eyes as he leant over her lifeless body; she had been so strong, so strong for him and now she was gone. He couldn’t help but blame himself for her untimely death; he had asked her to assist him to the manor. Draco looked up to see his aunt turn round the corner. The hatred he felt for at was impeccable. He brushed Hermione’s hair from her face and caressed her cheek.
“Hermione?” He asked, stupidly awaiting a reply, “Please wake up, please! This is my entire fault, I brought you here. Please Hermione, you can’t die, Hermione. I’m so sorry!” His voice cracked under the tears, he rested his head on her shoulder and whispered softly “I love you, Hermione.”
“I love you to, Draco.” An angelic voice said softly from behind. He turned to see Hermione standing there, wearing the most beautiful smile he had ever seen. He stood up in disbelief and embraced her, not wanting to ever let go. He felt her warm breathe travel down the back of his shirt, he inhaled her sweet scent and he finally felt at peace. He looked into her deep seductive tearful eyes and smiled, he raised his hand to catch her glassy tears.
“You once told me it was going to be okay, Hermione, and you’re right, it is going to be okay.” He embraced her once more before brushing his lips against hers.
As their lips collided, a door swung open, lighting the atramentous corridor into a golden blaze. The two broke apart, first startled by the sudden change in atmosphere however it soon dawned on them that this was suppose to happen, this was their fate.