Chapter 6 : Azkaban Trips and Lies
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With a deep inhale Hermione broke the silence. “You prided yourself on being a great Healer.” She said to Draco. “I admired you for that, but sometimes you have to say no.” She sighed heavily and blurted her next sentence out. “Thorn was your last patient.”
Ginny gasped, Ron stared wide-eyed, and Draco showed no flicker of emotion. Instead he sucked his teeth, stuck his hands in his pockets, and shrugged.
“You’re mad at me for tending to him, aren’t you?”
“You sound like you remember doing it.” Hermione accused. “Do you?”
“No, I don’t. But I know why I would have. How would it have looked if I had turned him down? I had no reason to do it.”
“The man had forced us to try to kill each other. You had every reason.”
“He may have, but Christopher Reid didn’t.” Harry countered. “Chris didn’t know him. He may have known what he did, but a Healer is a Healer, ‘Mione. Who’s to say even after all this time the Ministry still isn’t suspicious? Turning Thorn away would just make people think and wonder again like before.”
Hermione groaned in frustration and massaged her temples. “…Okay, fine… But knowing that Thorn has come into our lives again doesn’t make things simpler.”
“Damn right it doesn’t.” Ron agreed. “What was he doing at St. Mungo’s anyway? I thought Azkaban had its own facilities for people who got sick or hurt?”
Harry looked towards Hermione and egged her on with a nod of his head. All eyes turned to her then and, very guiltily, she took out a beige folder from the inside of her jacket. “It’s Draco’s work file.”
“You nicked it from St. Mungo’s?” Ginny smiled. Hermione ignored the rouge in her cheeks and nodded.
“I’m hoping no one notices. From what I gathered Thorn was sick. Azkaban officials thought that he was going to die so they sent him to St. Mungo’s to see if he’d get better.”
“And I die instead?” Draco scoffed as he crossed his arms. “Well, that’s fair.”
“Maybe that was the point.” Ron suggested. “Maybe there’s a way to transfer sickness. To transfer death,”
“That can’t be possible.” Hermione protested. “I know my magic. You can transfer a lot of things, but fatal sickness isn’t one of them.”
“I hate to tell you this Hermione, but that’s not true.” Draco sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “You know good magic. Dark magic entails some things you couldn’t believe. And if Thorn could get me out of Azkaban all those years ago, I’m betting he could kill me just as subtly.”
“But that doesn’t make any sense. This sort of murder takes planning. Thorn would’ve had to have known that he’d get to you if he was sent to Azkaban. He’d have to know who you were! He couldn’t have known your alias. No one does-”
“Except Ian,” Harry brought up. “Ian knew everything.”
“And he’s dead.” Hermione added. “He died a full two weeks before all of this happened.”
“But in the end Ian still shared Azkaban as a home with Thorn. They still could’ve met and talked. Who knows…Thorn could’ve carried out what Ian failed to do. A friend helping a friend in a sick sort of way,”
“‘Sick’ doesn’t seem quite to describe it.” Ginny frowned. “You’re going to have to talk to Thorn, Hermione. If he hasn’t died yet, that is.”
Hermione nodded. If he hasn’t died yet… To think that there would actually be a time where Hermione prayed to Merlin that the bastard was still living and not buried six-feet-deep.
Hermione wasn’t sure if she’d be able to see Thorn. She had no legitimate reason to see him; especially almost twenty years after suffering at his hands. But luckily Merlin was on her side. She had gone to the Head Azkaban Official and, as politely as she could, asked if it would be possible to see an inmate. At first he was rough with her, asking if who she wanted to see was a family member of some sort. “We’ve got the lowest of the low here, Miss. Not many people come around here for visitation.” Hermione had replied that she would’ve been surprised if the inmates had visitors and that they didn’t disserve any. With a deep sigh she said that she wanted to see Matthew Thorn. After that the HAO took in her face, smiled, and then relaxed.
“I’d do it too, you know.” He said with a nod of approval. “See the damned devil before he went. Let ‘im see my face before dropping straight to hell. I’ll let you in.”
Hermione thanked him for his cooperation, but as she was led to a visitation room in the basement of Azkaban away from the Dementors, she felt ambivalent. What would she do when she saw him? The man had introduced her to a full twenty-four hours of hell that felt like years. Just thinking about it made her envision herself choking him. But once Thorn was sitting in a chair in the middle of a small and empty room, Hermione felt hollow. Her anger had been replaced with pity as she watched Thorn cough and wheeze repeatedly.
“You’ve come to torture me before I die.” Thorn coughed. Hermione lost her sympathy then and angrily crossed her arms.
“You did the same to me once. Or have you forgotten?”
Thorn nodded and rubbed his arms up and down. “What do you want?”
“You tell me. You’re the reason that I’m here. You know what you did to my husband.”
“I haven’t a bloody idea who your husband is.” Thorn gave a pitiful asthma-like wheeze and then sighed. “In case you’ve forgotten, I’ve been here for the last two decades. It’s not like I get a daily news letter as to who’s married who.”
“Fine, I’ll give you a hint. He was the one who treated you when you were sent to St. Mungo’s in the early summer.”
Thorn cocked a brow in the air. Soon he began nodding. “That was him, eh? Good man. Knows his magic... What happened to him?”
Hermione felt herself shaking. She had an uncanny ability to read people, and to her utter dismay she couldn’t help but feel that Thorn wasn’t faking at being naïve. He was sitting there, looking as though he was on death’s door, and staring at her expectantly. Hermione let her arms fall to her side and her hands slip into her pockets. With a gentle rock back onto her heels for a split second she gave a sad sigh. Thorn, as though her sigh let him know it was something truly terrible, gave a nod of acknowledgement.
“Why should you be?” Hermione snapped at him. “You’re the same man under whose control many people died. People like you show no remorse.”
“Years under the shadows of Dementors put remorse in me.” Thorn admitted. “I doubt you’ve ever had the luxury of being at their disposal? Days, weeks, months, and years under that kind of hell has made me to regret… And now look at me. A pitiful soul dying of a bloody disease... Not even a proper wizard’s death. You think I had something to do with your husband’s death, don’t you? As payback for landing me in here..?”
Hermione turned cold where she stood. “…I never said that he died. I said that you did something to him.” She suddenly walked over to where Thorn sat and lead over the table that separated them. “It’s Azkaban rule that a visitor’s wand is turned over to the HAO before going into the visiting room. He failed to take mine. What did you do?”
Thorn eyed the wand she was referring to inside her pocket. Flicking his eyes back to her, he coughed to the side and resettled himself in his seat. “...I save my own arse because I’m selfish, Miss Granger. Or should I say Ms. Reid? I was presented with an opportunity and I took it. Your husband’s death will benefit me in a very good way, and I’m looking forward to it.”
“What does his dying have anything to do with you? Is it just the satisfaction that I’m suffering?”
“…Not in the slightest,” Thorn said nonchalantly. He then shrugged and produced a smile. “I think a question like that would be better asked to another inmate. Unfortunately for you, he’s been dead since the summer.”
Hermione’s mind was running ragged. Instead of getting answers she just got more questions. Thorn wasn’t as innocent as he had first seemed (as if she had actually believed it), and he knew about Draco’s death. But did he know that it was really Draco in disguise? Maybe, maybe not… But what was even more troubling was what Thorn had said last. Did he mean Ian? Maybe Harry had been right and Ian and Thorn had talked. Perhaps they had formed a plan to get Draco dead, but even then what was the consequence of it all? What was it that Thorn was getting out of all of this of which the prize he had alluded to he had not yet gotten?
It was all too confusing and when Hermione arrived home she wanted to think about none of it. She closed the door behind her when she entered and took off neither coat nor shoes. Instead she headed into the kitchen with the intention of making a cup of tea. The tea was already prepared for her when she got there however, and Hermione smiled. Draco was there as well, staring out of the window.
“…Do you remember how dead set against living in a muggle neighborhood I was?” Draco asked as he turned to her. Hermione nodded as she sat down at the kitchen counter.
“And when I said that we should buy a car and put in a phone,”
“Did you know it then?” He continued, a frown having set upon his face. “Did you have any inkling that there was something wrong?”
“Of course I did…” Hermione admitted. “I thought of you every day. And then I felt ashamed because you were supposed to be at some undesignated location; not here in my house and as my husband.”
“I sensed that. Your shame that is… Sometimes when I looked at you, you looked so sad. And I hate to say this love, but I was rather proud of it. The fact that even though, in essence, you married another, you still loved me.”
“Yes, I did.” Hermione smiled and then she sighed. “What are we going to tell the children? No…not we. Me… What am I going to tell the children? This’ll blow their minds apart. Especially Xavier… A whole seven years of Hogwarts ghosts couldn’t get Ron’s mind wrapped around it. Our son will have a field day looking at you…”
“If this whole situation gets resolved before he and Cat come home for Christmas then looking at me won’t be a problem.”
“What do you mean?”
Draco saw the confusion of his wife’s face and took a deep breath in and out. With reluctance he spoke again. “…You can’t avoid the light forever, Hermione.” He said slowly. “It comes back. And when we figure this whole mess with Thorn out, the light will be there. I’ll have to go.”
Hermione’s mouth went numb. She removed her hands from the table top and placed them in her lap to keep them from shaking and then she spoke only when she thought her voice wouldn’t quiver. “Why? Why can’t you stay?”
“This world isn’t for me anymore, you know that. And besides I…” Draco’s words trailed off as he stared at the floor. “I’ve seen what my presence does to you. You’ve lived with guilt for almost twenty years. I can’t let you live with desperate anxiety for the rest of your life. Once I know that you and the kids are safe, I’m leaving. Now, what happened when you saw Thorn at Azkaban?”
Hermione couldn’t think of it. She couldn’t think of Draco leaving her again, but this time for good. What would she do then? Live the remainder of her life in a house all alone? Xavier just started Hogwarts and would be calling it his home for a full seven years. Yes, Catalina was in her sixth year and would be finished soon enough, but Hermione’s dear daughter already expressed her desires to go to wizard university once Hogwarts was over. Sure, Hermione had friends, but they had their lives too. In the end she was convinced that she would be alone at heart and in reality without Draco there.
“Hermione..?” Draco called. Hermione snapped out of her reverie and stared at her dead husband. “What did Thorn say to you?”
“…Nothing,” She lied. “The man’s aged about one hundred years since he’s been in Azkaban and looked to be on death’s door. I got nothing from him.”
author's note: ello all!! well, we see Thorn again and i've got to admit it was kind of hard for me to hate him here. the man IS dying after all, and yet he's still up to no good. what kind is still questionable *evil smile*
and as for hermione, well can't say that i dont feel sorry for her at the end. how she'll simultaneously keep draco in AND out of the loop will be an ineresting one ^_^
hope that you guys liked the chap and i can't wait to read your reviews! and on a sn my birthday is on wednesday. WAHOO!!! i'm excited, can't you tell? ^_^
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