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Chapter 5 : Swallowing pride
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21 days till Halloween
1. Go to the Auror’s and ask for protection.
2. Get in touch with original delivery company in order to find out more about who sent the mirror and where the professor got it.
3. Flee country.
Hermione finished the last of her coffee, pushed aside the mug, and sighed. She was still feeling shaky in the pit of her stomach, but after taking the time to sit and think about her options had helped to calm her down quite a bit. She just needed a moment to herself in order to grasp hold of a realistic view on what she was going to do next.
Number one was out. Even though she had already told Harry everything, she wasn’t sure she was ready to tell anyone else.
Plus, Hermione knew that if she agreed to Auror protection that it would involve being sent to a safe house where she would be watched 24/7, and would not be allowed to continue working on this mystery. Being watched all the time like a child in trouble, was bad enough in Hermione’s mind, but the idea of not being able to help to solve this mystery was even worse.
There had been times during Hogwarts that Hermione had doubted her abilities. Sure she had been able to figure out how to get them through the obstacles during first year and yes she had been able to figure out what the monster in the chamber of secrets was even when the professors could not.
Time and time again she helped them all to get through obstacles and challenges that others their age would never had been able to accomplished. However, that only made her worry even more that she was just the brains of the group, and nothing more.
Being tortured for hours in the Malfoy Manor by Bellatrix Lestrange had only made her doubts grow and become even worse. That feeling of helplessness that Bellatrix had tortored into Hermione never truly seemed to go away after the war.
In her mind,if she allowed the Auror’s to protect her, then it would be as if she was admitting to herself that she really was helpless and couldn't do this on her own.
In a way she felt that this could be the perfect opportunity to prove to herself that she wasn't helpless anymore and that she could overcome anything that was thrown her way. It would be one more step towards healing herself of the horror's that she and the loved one she cared about the most had endured during the war.
This left option numbers two and three as potential solutions.
However, fleeing the country seemed way too cowardly for her taste. Plus, she had already been on the run once in her lifetime during the last war, which was more than enough in her opinion. So that left her with only one option left.
She glanced around the university café, the cushioned wood booths were sparsely populated at this time of night and no one was sitting near enough her booth to eavesdrop on her.
Pulling out her cell phone from her bag, she flipped it open, dialed information, and got the number for Allied Certified Deliveries, the name she’d seen emblazoned on the side of the delivery truck.
At almost nine o'clock at night Hermione didn't expect to get an answer, so she decided on the message she would leave quickly in her mind before dialing the number that information had given her for the delievery company.
"Hello," a womans voice sounded through the phone.
Surprised that anyone had still be there to answer the phone it took Hermione a moment before she was able to convey the reason for her call.
Making no effort to mask her irritation, the woman on the other end informed her that the office was closed for the day, and she’d only answered because she’d been talking to her husband when their call had been dropped, and she thought it might have been him calling back.
“Try again tomorrow,” the woman said impatiently.
“Wait! Tomorrow might be too late. I really need to know more about who sent this package,” Hermione exclaimed panicking.
“Got an invoice number”
"No, that’s why I am calling. The guys who delivered the package forgot to give me one.”
“We never forget to give out copies of the invoice,” the woman bristled. “We do hundreds of deliveries a week. Without an invoice number, I have no way of knowing what package you are talking about.”
“What about searching the records by last name?” Hermione asked.
“Computers go off line at eight. You’ll have to try back tomorrow.”
“It was a late night delivery,” Hermione pushed, “just a few nights ago; I can describe the guys who delivered it.”
There was another long silence.
Then, “Those men were murdered over the weekend. Police won’t leave us alone as if my husband’s company had something to do with it,” a bitter note entered her voice, “what did you say your name was again?”
She refused to go straight to him.
The thought of such a swift show of defeat was too chafing. The past few days had been a study in Humility for her. She had been the brains that kept Harry alive throughout their years at Hogwarts. She had survived being tortured for hours and had battled an unknown number of death eaters during the last stand at Hogwarts.
There was no way she would let him know that she was giving in too quickly.
Stubbornly Hermione sat in the university café until half an hour past midnight, drinking more coffee than her nerves really needed, savoring what she suspected might be her last magic free moments in a long time.
She has no desire to die. She wanted at least another sixty or seventy years of life to do the things she hadn’t gotten the chance to do yet.
Since that mirror had crossed her path she felt like one of those heroines in a murder mystery, or one of those silly romance novels, the loose end that needed tidying up, the one the psychopath kept coming after.
A helpless, girly girl and she despised considering herself as helpless at any time in her entire life. It was enough to frazzle even the best of nerves.
Now, standing outside the door to Professor Keene’s office yet again, Hermione stiffened her spine mentally preparing herself to make a deal with the devil.
Either he would protect her as he claimed he would or he really was a dark wizard who had been justly imprisoned and once free planned to kill her. She glanced at her watch, it was one in the morning. Guessing that she has stalled long enough, she unlocked and pushed open the door stepping into the office.
“Okay,” she told the silvery surface with a sigh, “let’s make a deal.”
He was there before she’d even fully formed the word “make”. A slow exultant smile curved his lips.
“Deal, my ballocks. Get me the bloody hell out of here, woman.”
20 Days till Halloween
Salazar stood before the tall windows of his study, staring out at the lush Irish dawn as the first faint streaks of sun peaked out over the horizon burning off the early morning fog. The sky beyond was still dim enough that he could also see his own reflection superimposed on the tinted glass.
It was Thursday morning. He had twenty days left to get that mirror back and the thought that he didn’t have the mirror already in his possession frustrated him beyond belief. He turned his gaze to the darker spot on the silk wallpaper where the Dark glass had hung for so long.
For the first time in centuries, he felt a whisper of unease.
At least he knew exactly where the mirror was. That alleviated some of his unease. Still, he worried that if his minions couldn’t bring the mirror to him soon, then he would have to go get it himself and that was one thing he preferred not to do.
Surely, after a thousand years, he’d surpassed Godric Gryffindor and was the greatest wizard at last!
He turned away from the windows, wishing he felt certain of that statement. It had not been his superior powers that put the man where he was. It had been well played deceit and treachery.
His hands fisted, his jaw clenched with renewed determination. That empty spot would be filled again, and soon. Moving away from the windows, Salazar sauntered back over to his oak desk and sat down in his brown leather chair. Picking up the phone he dialed the number for his number two assassin.
“Carson,” he snarled into the phone. “Roman is dead. I need Athena there now.”
“Don’t give me excuses,” his irritation evident in his voice, “tell her to put her other contract on hold. The Granger woman knows she’s in danger now. There’s no telling what she’ll do. I need her taken care of immediately.”
His upper lip curled and his anger seemed to increase as he listened to Carson mumble even more excuses.
“I don’t believe you have no way of reaching her. Find one. Get her there today or else.” He listened a moment, holding the phone away from his ear.
“I don’t think you understand. I want her there now. I’d advise you to pass on my orders to her and let her decide.”
He punched off the phone, terminating the call. He knew what Athena would decide to do. The woman had trafficked in death for most of her adult life. It was the only way she knew to make a living. Even though she feared little, she definately feared Salazar.
He rubbed his jaw, eyes narrowed. Time was moving too swiftly for his state of mind.
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