Chapter 1 : Safehouse
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A/N: So this is a little experiment of mine. Hopefully it's a good idea. // Edits are taking place due to critical reviews from apocalypse from the forums. Thanks for the comments, they really helped. Edits are not really changing the plot, I'm just making it more effective/changing dialogue/improving ideas. Hope you like!
Opening the curtains in the morning had become a little bit of a phobia for me. The last time I did that, a thick black smoke was rising in the distance, tarnishing the timid blue sky.
My tiny room had only enough space for my bed and a dresser, which had mismatched clothes and odd socks shoved in there. The evacuation was still unclear in my mind. I did not have time to get my good clothes or even any makeup or jewellery. The Ministry whisked as many magical people in the area to a safehouse in the centre of London. I thought that was a silly idea, seeing as the executions mainly took place here, but apparently the muggles thought we had all gone North and were looking for us there.
So, I had been separated from Harry, Ron and the rest of my friends. I had been visiting family when they told me to pack up, so I was rushed to a safehouse in Islington and the others were somewhere else. Everyday, I hoped that they were okay and that nothing bad had happened. I couldn’t even send them an owl. We had all been told not to have any pets, no owls, cats, rats nor toads and to release them or give them away. I missed Crookshanks dearly. Even magical creatures such as goblins and house-elves had the initiative to leave before things got too ugly.
I was living in an old hotel on a busy street. Like Hogwarts and St Mungo’s, it looked like a crumbling dilapidated ruin to muggles. Everyday more witches and wizards were checking in and rarely checking out. And we were under strict orders not to use any magic. We still had our wands, but they were for emergency purposes only and we could not take them outside with us in case the muggle authorities stopped and searched us. Us younger witches and wizards were banned from leaving until we turned twenty one because they thought we had less control of our magic. My first thought was, We’re going to be here for that long? Was this going to last years, forever?
Muggles … who knew that they would have the power to overthrow us? But we weren’t stupid. Obviously someone magical was helping them to track us, helping them with anti-apparition jinxes and such. But who would want to exterminate their own kind? Who would be that sick?
Curtains closed, I pulled on my dressing gown and went into one of the three bathrooms on this floor and turned the shower on. Sitting on the toilet, I let a tear fall down my nose and wrapped my arms around myself. It was cold here and it seemed that all the warmth from my life had gone. Here I was, shoved into a building with strangers, not knowing whether tomorrow would be my last day. What if they found out where we all were? What if the burnings became more widespread? I remember the first as if it was yesterday. I had read it in the last ever print of the Daily Prophet. With every rise, there must be a fall. I never understood that saying until that day. Indeed, Lord Voldemort had been vanquished but a much more terrible threat was looming. I mention Voldemort because his death was the catalyst for the demise of Wizarding kind.
People say that the celebrations of his defeat were tenfold of that of seventeen years previously - the morning after he killed Harry’s parents. This time. he was gone, and gone for good. Technicolor fireworks, bonfires and nationwide parties were among the more discreet celebrations among the community. But nothing other than sheer stupidity could have re-launched witch trials in modern Britain.
A couple of young wizards had been at a ‘Goodbye Voldemort’ party - so the Prophet fashioned them - and were on the dangerous side of drunk after consuming countless pints of firewhisky. Any reasonable person should have told those eighteen year olds to calm down, but the mood was far too joyous to reprimand them, I assume. They had gone some way away from the magically protected party to a nearby park where they began using magic. Just a simple hovering charm, but nearly the whole street of houses had witnessed it. Of course the Ministry sent out members to clear it all up, but someone within the department stopped it. Someone made sure we were exposed. It was too late. The muggles spread the news and tied up the two boys, taking away their wands and doing some kind of scientific experiment on them. And the order came to execute them. All over the world, they were alerted to the existence of witches and wizards and so the hunt began. Those two boys were made an example of and their blood stains the first pyre those muggle bastards lit.
More tears fell onto my lap. How was it that I had begun to hate muggles? They were only afraid of what they did not understand. And now we were in hiding - real hiding - even though we had the power to change things. But surely by now it was too late to change.
I decided to leave my parents in Australia so that they would never know that their daughter was a witch. It would be too painful to drag them back here to go through that. We would never be able to live together even if I did. Other muggleborns in the safehouse had either been abandoned by their families or left home for their safety. Some purebloods did not understand how much of a betrayal it was for us with muggle families. They just thought it was another reason for a takeover, for retribution.
It was still unbelievable, the whole sad thing. I never had one peaceful sleep. Every night, my dreams were plagued with fires and death …
There was a tap on the door. I ignored it.
An irritated bang followed.
“Could you hurry up in there!” came a male voice.
Heaving myself up, I crossed over to the door and opened it. It was Draco Malfoy.
At the sight of me, he froze and then said, “Are you going to be long?” in an uneven tone.
“Not too long,” I whispered.
His eyes met mine and he registered my teary face.
Before he could say anything, I closed the door and hopped into the shower.
I skipped breakfast that morning and went to sit in the living room. After picking a random book from the shelf, I sat in a soft armchair as far away from the window I could get and began to read. I wasn’t really focusing on the words, I just needed an excuse to ignore everything and everyone around me.
Behind me, someone entered the room and turned on the television.
I looked up to find Malfoy lounging across a chair flicking through the channels with the remote control. We had taken up watching the television and various muggle channels to find out about any news; it was our only way of being up-to-date with everything on the outside.
He looked at me. “What?”
“I was reading.” I held up the book.
“In silence,” I emphasised.
“You can go and read somewhere else,” he reasoned.
“I was here first!” I said, outraged.
He shrugged and turned the volume up.
Throwing the book down, I stormed up to my room.
Being stuck in one place can make you very irritable and very crazy. On most days I would lie on my bed facing the ceiling, thinking back to a time when we did not have to hide. Things were better when Voldemort was alive, crazily enough.
At dinner that evening, I removed myself from the table and sat on the stairs eating my chicken salad. The large hall had about one hundred people in there eating in small groups as if nothing was happening. I was beginning to be known as the recluse. Socialising with these people was not on my agenda. I just needed to get away …
“Excuse me.” Malfoy was there again.
“Are you following me?” I said instantly.
He laughed. And wow was it a lovely laugh. Not filled with scorn and hatred, it was genuine and light. I hadn’t heard one like that in months.
“No,” he said. “I just want to get to my room.”
Malfoy had arrived at the safehouse two weeks after I had and we had both been here for six months. His mother had been caught by the muggles and was facing trial soon. I must say, she was doing a very convincing job of pretending that she was a muggle considering how much her family and ancestry hated them.
I leaned over and he started up the stairs. Abandoning my tray of food, I followed him up to the second floor.
“Are you following me now?” he said grinning.
I held onto the banister lightly. “I just wondered … how you were feeling.”
Malfoy looked away from me and then said suspiciously, “Why do you want to know?”
“I’m scared, terrified. I suppose you’ve noticed that I don’t talk much. And you’re the only person here I know.”
“Unfortunately.” I nodded. “And your mother …” He began striding down the corridor. “I’m sorry,” I called.
He stopped just outside his bedroom door.
“It’s just …” I began. “Don’t you ever feel like we can’t stay here forever? Don’t you ever want to leave, to find your friends and family?”
He looked at me, his light blond hair hanging over his silver eyes. “All the time.” He stepped into his room and slammed the door shut.
That was Draco Malfoy all over, wasn’t it? Shutting other people out. Shrugging, I took the stairs up to my room. My lame attempt at a conversation with that bully made no indentation on my plans to leave. I had had enough with this place. I needed to find Harry and Ron. Had they forgotten about me? Where did things stand between myself and Ron? Were they alright? I was dying here without them with me. They could have been anywhere. I had heard that people were gathering at Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic so I would check there.
Snow was falling outside over the street. As it fell onto the vacant pavement, I wondered for a moment whether what I was about to do was crazy. Just for a moment. My hands trembled as I shoved changed into a pair of jeans and a jumper and threw some extra clothes and underwear into a backpack. I threw in nearly everything I owned, grabbed my toothbrush, my wand and some money.
Pulling on a warm winter jacket, I stepped out of my room once it hit eleven. Most people were usually in their rooms by this time, some in the communal living spaces downstairs, but many were definitely asleep. I hoped that the staff and elder wizards who were in charge were tucked in bed as I slowly tiptoed across the corridor and down a staircase.
Hearing footsteps ahead, I froze. Someone was coming closer. More than one person …
Glancing around for a hiding place, I stepped sideways and into a room, hoping that the occupant was asleep or elsewhere.
Heart hammering and facing the door, I leaned my ear close and listened.
“ … everyone should stay here indefinitely for the next few weeks.”
“What about their rights to fresh air and a walk? The younger ones will definitely be upset.”
“Who cares what they think? This is about being hidden.”
“Or being controlled …”
“Do you have a problem with that?”
I let out a gasp.
The two people, whoever they were, passed my door in silence. Who was that? Clearly it was some of the ‘staff’ who looked after us and guided us. They were apparently ministry members or ex-ministry members drafted in to help, but I didn’t recognise anyone. How unfair was it that I was the one left with absolute strangers in my safe house?
“Did you want something?” came a voice from the other side of the room. Malfoy was laying on his bed, fully dressed with his wand in hand.
“Oh, what do you want?” I automatically said rudely.
“Erm - you’re in my room,” he stated.
I looked around. His room was just as small as mine, but messier, with clothes everywhere. And his curtains were open. I went over and closed them.
“Sorry, impulse,” I said.
Blinking at me, he asked, “Going somewhere?” He looked me up and down. I was fully dressed with a bag and winterwear on, so it was pretty obvious, but I lied anyway.
“Mmm-hmm,” he muttered, sitting up. “What are you doing in here, Granger?”
“I was nearly caught,” I whispered. Suddenly, the lights went out and we were submerged in darkness. Lights-out occurred at quarter past eleven every night.
Malfoy sat quietly, much calmer than I expected seeing as I was in his room. “Do you know where you’re headed?” he asked curiously.
“I have ideas,” I said honestly. I leaned to the door and listened. People were coming up the stairs, so I shook my head angrily.
Nodding, he waved his wand silently.
“I do that too.” He dropped it onto his pillow as I smiled vacantly to myself.
“It’s been nearly seven months since I last cast a spell.” I nodded. “I feel like I’m forgetting,” he admitted solemnly.
“I don’t want to forget magic, Malfoy, but the longer we all stay here …” I paused. “You’re probably wondering why I’m talking to you.”
“It had crossed my mind.”
“Like I said, you’re the only person I know here.” I sat on his bed beside him. “And I’m going to leave. I suppose I don’t really have anyone to say goodbye to.”
“So don’t say goodbye to me,” he stated plainly.
“Right.” I walked across his room and looked as the white light from the snow brightened the shadows.
“All you have to do is check out,” he said, watching me figure out a plan while I paced.
“No.” I shook my head. “I tried. In the first few weeks, I told them I was leaving but they wouldn’t let me. They said it’s too dangerous.”
“Do you want me to help you?”
I stared at him cautiously. “And why would you help me, Malfoy?”
He shrugged. “Anything to get you out of my room.”
It was odd; even though his mouth said one thing, his eyes said another. He reeked of loneliness. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who forgot the sound of their own voice recently.
“All I need to do is reverse the charms over the windows and doors and I'm good to go,” I said spontaneously as he stood up and opened the curtains.
“It seems like you’ve thought this through.”
I smiled briefly. “You’ve thought about leaving too, haven’t you?”
“Every damn day. Sorry to break it to you, but, you do know they have alarm systems for uses of magic here, don’t you?”
“What?” I said, aghast.
“I cast a spell when I first got here. I tried a Patronus to send a message to someone, anyone, but they got me by the time I could send it out. Must be some kind of silent alarm and my wand was confiscated for a week.”
My heart thumped inside my chest. “You mean they’re controlling us from in here? You don’t think …?”
“I do. I think that whoever is helping the muggles is somehow involved in these safehouses. I don’t know how long we’re going to be safe here.”
That must have been what the people in the corridor were talking about. It was all about control and nothing more. Before I could tell, there was tears in my eyes. I knew it. I knew something wasn’t right. “We have to leave. As soon as possible.”
Malfoy stood up and pulled out a rucksack. He began filling it with his things although it was already mostly full. “I thought you’d never ask.”
“What? I didn’t -” I had meant it as a general statement. As in, every single witch and wizard needed to leave.
“As much as you irritate me, Granger, there’s no denying that this is not the time for fighting with each other. There’s something strange happening here and I’m not waiting here for it to bite me in the behind.” Malfoy stopped going through his things and commanded, “Check the corridor.”
I jumped across the room and peered out. There was stillness, but I could hear voices clearly; plenty of people were still awake.
“People are still awake, Malfoy. How will we -?”
He pulled a black jacket on and shoved on some trainers. “It doesn’t matter. It’s not like we’re using the front door. Now or never.”
“Where are you headed?” I asked him.
“Home, I guess,” he said. "Should only take a few days if no one follows me. And I can’t Apparate. I won’t risk it.”
“Good idea. The less magic used, the better.” I laughed. “Listen to us! Giving each other advice, co-operating …”
“If it means I can leave …” he said with his wand out. He gazed at the glass in the closed window as I stood beside him. “This is crazy.”
“I know. Escaping. With you of all people.” I pulled on a thick woolly hat and covered my ears. “I know I hate you, but, good luck … I hope you get as far away from here as possible.”
“You too, Granger. Ready?” I nodded. He turned to the window. “When I open this we’ll probably have about a minute or two before they come.”
“Okay.” I gripped my wand tightly.
“You better put that away,” he told me. “Somewhere safe.”
I stowed it in the inside pocket of my jacket and pulled on a pair of grey fingerless gloves. By the time I looked up, Malfoy had the window open after casting a spell and was climbing out onto the edge. He looked out and came back in.
“Oh God.” I stepped out onto the ledge. We were three storeys up and it took a lot of strength for me not to look down at the white ground. It was freezing and it was beginning to snow heavily.
“Faster,” he encouraged beside me.
I shuffled faster and then jumped down onto the roof of the closest house. He was right behind me.
“Get down!” He shoved me down as a spell came from his bedroom window. He sent one back and grabbed my arm. We slid down the roof and stopped at the drain. He shuffled round to jump onto the house’s garage. He held out his hand and I took it, jumping down beside him.
Once we were on the ground, he put his wand away and we walked quickly around the corner and onto the busiest street we could find. It was nearly midnight and the sky was pitch black and the stars were out.
“Stay close,” he whispered. And I wasn’t about to disobey him. I was terrified. Who had shot that spell at us? Why? Would they try to follow us?
We slid into a bar a couple of streets away from the safehouse and sat in the warmest corner. I ordered us two orange juices and we sat silently drinking.
Ten minutes later, he spoke.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
I nodded, lying. I was terrified for my safety, having not been out of the safehouse for weeks.
He sipped his juice. “Where do we go from here?”
“We?” I muttered. “I thought we were going our separate ways?”
“Eventually,” he said. “I just think we’ll have a better chance at survival if we stick together. Just for a few days …”
“I suppose,” I replied. “To be honest, I have no idea what to do now I’m out.”
“Where were you going to go for tonight?”
“I-I don’t know.”
“I thought you had a plan!”
“I’m sorry. I’d only gotten as far as escaping. I didn’t think I’d actually get out.”
“You didn’t say thank you,” he said. “For me helping you.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Malfoy smiled and finished his drink. “So any ideas?”
“Well, we could go to my old house. I think it’s still up for sale and it’ll be empty.”
“Your house, it is.” He stood up and announced that he was going to the toilet. While he was gone, I drank and looked around cautiously at the people around me. There was a few old people eating a meal and a few suspicious-looking males at the bar.
Then the door flapped open. Two suited officers walked in.
Shit. Stop and Search.
Ever since magic was exposed, police officers were allowed to search people for magical items if they thought they looked shifty and these occurred increasingly at night. Well I had news for the police: wizards aren’t vampires - we don’t only come out at night. I bet they missed loads of us in the broad light of day.
While they started on the other side of the bar, I slowly and discreetly pulled my wand out of my pocket and shoved it into my bag. Then I pushed my bag underneath the table with my foot. Eyes focused on the wall ahead of me, my foot shook nervously. Where the hell was Malfoy …?
“Excuse me, Miss. We’re just doing a quick search.”
“For?” I asked as lazily as I could make it.
“Witches and wizards,” he said matter-of-factly. “Beings of the magical community. Just a regular check. I’m sure you’ll have nothing to worry about. Could you stand up please?”
“Of course,” I said, putting down my half-full glass. I was shaking insanely and he looked at me. “It’s freezing,” I said laughing.
The bald man smiled. “Arms out.”
Praying, I did as he asked. “I haven’t seen any of those magical folk in this area,” I said, trying to make conversation.
“They wouldn’t let themselves be seen,” he said as he patted down my arm. He moved to my middle and I refrained from throwing up all over him. I was sure that only female officers could search female members of the public. His fingers all over me made me retch.
“What the hell are you doing?” Malfoy had just come back from the toilet with an angry look on his face.
The officer looked taken aback when Malfoy flung the man’s arms away from me and pushed mine down. My panicked eyes met his and he rounded on the man while standing in front of me.
“What the hell are you doing searching her? Does she look like a witch to you? Do you see her with a broomstick or a fucking black hat?”
“Please, Sir, just calm down. This is only procedure -”
“Procedure, is it, harassing my girlfriend when we just came in here for a quiet drink?”
Girlfriend? Hands shaking, I pretended to play along for the time being. I put my hand on his shoulder lightly and said, “Calm down, he didn’t mean anything by it. He’s just doing his job.”
“No,” he told me. “He’s got some nerve.”
The other officer came over and said, “We’ll have to search you too.”
Thank goodness, they moved on from me without searching my bag which had all sorts of incriminating evidence in it.
“Are you okay?” Malfoy asked me in this new and surprising concerned tone. He turned to me and landed a gentle kiss on my lips. My body froze for a second then I forced myself to play along, allowing him close to me. It was brief, yet somehow got my heart racing one million times a minute and my breath was taken away as if we had been at it for minutes.
“I’m fine,” I muttered, breathless while staring into his eyes, trying to relay a morsel of my shock.
He gave me a hug, his arms going over mine tightly, bodies pressed together. “Wait over there,” he told me in front of the officers - and then he whispered, “Take it out of my pocket” right into my cheek, hot breath skimming my skin and ear, giving me a surprising tingle all through my body.
With my eyes closed, I shoved my hand into his open jacket and to the inside pocket and took his wand out. I shoved it up my sleeve and moved away from him - but not too quickly, like I felt I needed to.
From the corner of the room, I watched as they patted him from top to bottom. When they found nothing, he used the opportunity to swear at them some more.
I kept the wand under my sleeve and pulled my bag onto my shoulder.
Malfoy came over and sat next to me. “We’ll wait ten minutes after they leave and then we’ll go.”
He had kissed me. I kept telling myself that it was because he needed me to help him, but nothing in the kiss was forced. It seemed easy, normal. Either that or he was a very good actor. That scared the hell out of me. He must have felt as uneasy as I felt right now, mind running over what had actually occurred between us. And what was worse, I wasn’t repulsed. There was just shock …
I said nothing when he put his arm over my shoulder as the two officers left.
Malfoy smiled at them and I nestled into his chest a little - to make it look real, of course. No other reason.
He left his arm there for the whole ten minutes we waited.
A/N: So there it is. Please review and let me know if it is a good idea and if you liked/noticed the changes :)