Chapter 6 : Draco: Countdown
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She had slipped away from me as we ran as fast as we could away from the muggles. Instantly, I turned back searching for her hand, for her touch. But all I saw was blood. Blood seeped from her cranial wound like a red river. That pain in her eyes was enough for me retract in agony too. It hurt. Somewhere inside me, somewhere in the middle of my chest, it hurt to see her in discomfort. Her body curled up on the ground as I searched for what had hit her.
Then I found it; a glass bottle lay smashed at her feet with stains of her crimson drops smeared all over it. On the bottle, on her hands, on the ground, leaking from her fragile body as those filthy people charged at her. My eyes lost her when they came forward; full grown men, middle aged women, teenagers, different groups of people surrounded Granger.
They pulled on her matted brown locks, yanked off her woolly red hat and she squealed and cringed. They pulled on her clothes, yanked at her arms and legs trying to see her face, to get her to the muggle authorities as quickly as possible. And all the while, Granger - my sweet Granger - hunched her shoulders and cried her eyes out on the ground.
“LEAVE HER ALONE!” I yelled. “STOP IT!”
Why could nobody hear me? I was using everything I had in me to push into them and to tell them to get away from her. My eyes were watering out of a sheer desperation to be seen and heard - or was that because I didn’t want them to take her away from me?
This wasn’t fear. If they truly hated our kind, they wouldn’t want to be anywhere near her. Surely they could see that she was no harm. But through their blind hatred, they refused to see the monsters they themselves became. Horror-struck, I watched them bear down on her.
“GET AWAY FROM HER!” I pulled a tall man away by his collar and threw him to the ground so that I could wade through the crowd. “GRANGER!”
She moaned and sobbed as someone twisted her around to remove her bag from her shoulders. It was cast away and I fell to my hands and knees to retrieve it. I was being trampled by the crowd, but I needed to get it from the hands of the muggles. Snatching it up, I witnessed the destruction of her wand beneath the foot of a strong-looking grey-haired man. Not knowing why, I leaned up and threw the hardest punch I could muster around his rough, angular face. He stumbled but just as he came at me, the crowd stormed forward again.
Her scream echoed in the space between us.
Shoving as I went, I looked over the heads of the crouching people. A red hot rage grew inside me as I witnessed what looked like a well-respected lady hit Granger with her heavy bag. It struck her back and Granger collided hard with the ground and yelled out in pain, cowering innocently.
Oh, I hated these people more than I ever did. In my childhood, I was taught to dislike them, to pity them for their saddening lack of knowledge in their primitive world, but only now had I attained a valid reason for wanting to do to them what they planned to do with every single one of us. I wanted them all to pay for what they were doing to her.
Just beyond my line of sight, floods of muggle men dressed in black outfits with large plastic shields came out of nowhere and charged at the crowd, swinging batons and shouting incoherently at the people. They were moving towards Granger. I needed to get there first.
“MOVE OUT OF MY WAY!” I yelled at a couple of young kids. They stepped aside giving me filthy looks. I slid through a group of scowling ladies.
I could see Granger. Her face was hidden by her shaking arms.
Diving, I crawled through multiple legs and reached forward to touch her hand. But she didn’t respond. After all, how could she differentiate between my hand and all of the others? I suppose I had hoped that she would recognise the feeling of my hand on hers …
Scrambling around, I located her hat on the ground and shoved it into my pocket to keep it safe from the thundering footfalls of the muggles.
There was a pull on my shirt and I was standing up and being dragged away from her by a muggle officer. He was huge and stong, but, all the same, I pushed him backwards. He barely moved and he held onto the front of my clothes threateningly.
“GET OFF ME!”
“You’re not going anywhere,” he stated simply and stood in front of me, blocking my path with his large rectangular shield.
Leaning against him, I looked over the crowd to see Granger hauled up and handcuffed by two policemen, arms behind her back.
Then I heard my name escape painfully from her mouth amidst her sobs.
“GRANGER!” I replied, half-jumping over the police officers in an attempt to reach her. Her eyes met mine sadly. “GRANGER!” My arm stretched out to her but she was dragged away from me towards the reporters and the rows of cars. As I sidestepped in and around people, I saw them spit and kick at her when she passed them. Her flinches and outcries of pain caused my heart to twinge and my body to fight through the crowd harder.
“HERMIONE!” I bellowed one last time, my voice cracking. “I’ll get you out! You’ll be okay!”
She couldn’t hear me. I could barely hear myself as vile threats came her way. And all the while, I was getting closer and closer to her as she was shoved into the back of a small black van. While tearing through the reporters, I approached the van. The windows were totally blacked out and I couldn’t see a damn thing.
“Shit.” Hating myself, I sat down on the edge of the pavement with my head in my hands.
This was all my fault. If it wasn’t for me she wouldn’t be facing the stake. Because of me and my stupidity, Granger was going to die.
What was so hard about just admitting that I loved her? I was afraid to say something which had never ever passed my lips in honesty, afraid to lay myself bare and to actually acknowledge that I had changed. I should have said it because now I might never get the chance to say it again.
Granger was so beautiful. In the safehouse, I would occasionally watch her saddened features grow even sadder. I had actually felt sorry for her. She was alone so I jumped at the opportunity to leave with her. I was cracking up staying in one place for months without being allowed to use magic or go outside. And her face just lit up once we escaped; it was like we were both living again. But she couldn’t blame me for being distant towards her. I had no idea what was going on with me. I actually liked a mudblood; I was entitled to panic.
I pushed her battered bag into my own and put it on my shoulders, sighing. What was I going to do? I had just let them take her away. I couldn’t possibly have used magic. There was too many people and besides, that would have meant that both of us would be facing trial. Hopefully she would understand …
Many of the angry muggles had fled from the scene where Granger was taken, but I was still sat on the roadside going through my options. I could leave and save my own skin, so that there would be one less wizard in the custody of the muggle authorities. Or I could stay and try to save Granger. Look at me, playing the hero! But what other option was there? If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have lasted as long as I have in the muggle world. I owed her everything. I had to repay her the only way I knew how. If I couldn’t break her out, I would damn well try to help her during her trial.
Pulling my hood over my face, and with my hands in my pockets I strolled down the streets looking for a place to stay. There were no rooms for rent anywhere and I was also on the point of giving up until I passed a television store. All of the electrical devices were on and a crowd of muggles were watching the evening news outside.
“ … today where a witch was found using her magic in public on an innocent man down by the market.” There was a low-quality picture of Granger holding her wand out near my unrecognisable face and then at the muggles. “This woman is not yet identified but has been in custody for several hours now. Investigations are underway and the commencement of the trial will be announced soon. Another story, perhaps linking with the main headline is the raiding of a hotel in Islington where hundreds of witches and wizards were found to be in hiding. The Prime Minister apparently tried to stall the raid however members of parliament convened and voted for it to go ahead. Police received an anonymous tip-off and seized all of the beings and their magical wands. All of these suspects, including the young female attained this morning, will be held at the City Prison until further notice.”
So the safe house had been taken. It was only a matter of time. And now I was the only one out of the entire household that wasn’t taken; I was the survivor, one of over two hundred witches and wizards who were hiding out in that old hotel.
I did learn something today. I learnt that muggles were pure evil, some of them at least. I had also learnt that my hatred for them is wasted if I spend my energy on revenge; I needed to focus on Granger. I had never known where they had kept my mother and I guessed that she was where Granger was too. And so the City Prison was my next destination.
There was no time to find somewhere to stay. Instead, I walked all the way across town, the entire two and a half hour journey, to Maxwell and Sons.
The building was bustling as usual, men in suits traipsing up and down to photocopiers and fax machines, perky receptionists alert and bright answering phones, clients in waiting rooms and offices, magazines spread across coffee tables.
People stared inquisitively at me as I strode through the corridors, dirty, ill-dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and tired.
“Mr Maxwell!” I said sternly as I entered my former boss’s office, out of breath.
Maxwell, middle-aged, greying and tall, swung around in his chair to face me.
“Mr Malfoy … you haven’t come to work for the past few days.”
“I know, Sir, but -”
“What makes you think you can just barge into my office like this, dressed like that, without even an apology?”
“I’m sorry, Sir, but this is important.” Mr Maxwell stroked his dark moustache and permitted me to continue. “You’ve heard about the so-called witch they caught today in town?”
“Yes, it’s all over the TV. Nasty bunch if you ask me.”
“Well I’m not asking for your opinion. She’s innocent,” I lied. “I know her, she wouldn’t hurt a fly, she -”
“Listen … I can’t do anything to stop the authorities when it comes down to witchcraft and that kind of thing. The police force are very hard on this sort of matter.”
“You’re a lawyer!” I yelled at him, frustrated. “I came here for help.”
Maxwell shifted in his chair, uncomfortable. “If you’re going to ask me what I think you’re going to ask me, then the answer is -”
“Yes, I’m asking. Please, John, represent her in her upcoming trial.”
“Who says there will be one?”
I frowned. “Excuse me?”
“Listen, Draco …” He gestured towards the chair opposite his desk and I dropped my bag and sat down, listening intently. “In matters such as these, the police could surpass the trial completely. There isn’t much legislation or precedent for the matter of punishment for those accused of being magical.”
“But they can burn who they like?” I asked, outraged.
“It would seem so.”
“This is ridiculous!” I said, banging my fist on the hard, wooden desk.
“Calm down, Mr Malfoy!” I stared at him moodily. No way was Granger going to die.
“Let me think …” Maxwell rubbed his chin in thought. “Seeing as you asked me so … politely … I will see what I can do for this young woman …”
“Hermione Granger,” I filled in quietly.
“Hermione Granger. Now, you are positive that she is not a witch?”
“Positive. She grew up near London, went to school there,” I reeled off imaginatively. “Her parents moved to Australia recently and I am positive that she’s not what they say she is. She’s not this monster they make her out to be. She doesn’t deserve to die.”
He stared at me curiously and then smiled. “You really care for this girl, don’t you?”
“I do,” I admitted.
“Very well.” Maxwell stood up and went through a filing cabinet behind him, taking out a large folder. He flicked through it until he got to what he was looking for. “Recent statutes … blah blah blah … witchcraft, wizardry … 1999 … those persons accused … yes … the High court of HRH Queen Elizabeth II … alright … representation …” He mused for a moment and finally said, “Miss Granger may not necessarily go to trial if they have compelling evidence for her guilt. However, if she has compelling evidence for her innocence, we will have a chance.”
“So?” I asked, excited.
He closed the folder and placed it on the desk. “So, I think I will have to take a visit to the City Prison. I have a seventy-two hour window before they consider moving her to another location. Hopefully, I can nominate myself to represent her before someone else does or they provide her with representation themselves - and no doubt it will be lax because they will want a guilty conviction.”
“Let me come with you.”
“Mr Malfoy, I hardly think you are qualified for the job.”
“I’m your assistant!”
“You were my assistant before you missed days of work.” Maxwell opened a briefcase and threw in lots of paperwork. He turned to the white computer on the desk and began to type on the thick keys.
“Fine, don’t pay me! But please, let me come. I can help. I know Hermione.”
My boss gave in and I was delighted. “Alright. Come back here tomorrow morning at the stroke of eight. We’ll take a car into town. Dress correctly,” he said, looking at me. “And take a shower. We want to make a good impression.”
That night, I spent in an empty home a few streets away. Gazing up at the ceiling, thinking, pondering, contemplating my life. Hermione must have been doing the same, only coming to terms with how much time she has left, how little. Sitting in the dark on luxurious fluffy carpet, I reached into my pocket and pulled out her dirty, frayed red hat, fingering it loosely. It smelled of her and of dirt and there was a darker red patch of dried blood. I brushed it, suddenly worried and feeling sick thinking about what the police were doing with her. Surely, they would mend her wounds, but I wouldn’t put it past them to leave her in pain. There was a tear in the centre, chunks of glass still stuck in the fibres. Dusting it away, I sat in silence, focusing purely on what I would do next, on how I would save her. I couldnt possibly tell her about the safehouse, that would only scare her more and extuinguish whatever hope she had ...
The family who owned the house must have been on holiday; it was empty and so I used their bathroom, took some food from their full fridge, slept on the armchair and headed out again the next morning dressed in my work clothes (a grey suit, dark blue tie), backpack over my shoulder.
Flattening my hair down, I approached Mr Maxwell at the doors of his company at eight sharp.
He looked down at me. “Better,” he muttered.
A dark car with tinted windows was waiting beside the pavement, engine running; we slid in silently and patiently waited until the driver took off.
“I have another meeting on the other side of London at eleven so we must be quick and straight to the point,” he said as the car rolled into the prison car park.
The building was large and thick, concrete, sturdy and dark. There were few windows and security guards wherever you looked; I couldn’t imagine that there was a more secure location than this one. Rows of black police vans were lined beside the wall, the kind that brought Granger here. I gazed over the building, wondering where she was inside this beast. I could imagine her body curled up, afraid behind the walls. Granger was a strong girl, but in a situation like this anyone would break down. And I had the feeling she had. This was different to Azkaban. No, there weren’t any dementors, but the threat of exposure was large. If I tried to get her out or if we slipped up once, she would be done for. And whoever was helping the muggles would make sure more witches and wizards went down.
I followed Mr Maxwell out of the car, across the car park and to the entrance, where we met plenty of security. Once they took us to the main reception, Maxwell talked with the leading detective, a short, stern-looking man with a clean-shaven face and dark blonde hair. After he explained why we were there, we were searched and left all valuable items at the desk to collect later.
Finally I was going to see her.
The walls, floors and ceilings were all a dull grey, lights flickered on and off and the people never smiled or showed any emotion; the place rang with a loud silence. A person could really think in a place like this and that wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
Our footsteps echoed, my heart pumped faster as we trod along a dark corridor to the cells, lead by three heavy-built guards. We seemed to be going further and deeper into this monster as we took the elevator down to the basement levels. They were keeping her here?
My eyes focused on the keys jingling on one of the guards’ belts. He had blonde hair and fiddled with it as he walked, almost as if he was worried. He couldn’t possibly be scared of Granger, but his statement confirmed it:
Breaking the silence, he said, “Brave men.”
I simply looked at him while Mr Maxwell replied, “Pardon me?”
“T-to come down here and offer - your services,” he muttered nervously. “No one else has.”
Maxwell smiled at him. “Don’t be so worried. Innocent until proven guilty. Right?”
The guards scratched his head as he slowed to a stop. “I don’t know, they caught it fair and square.”
“Her,” I muttered, staring at him darkly. “Her … not it.”
“The suspect is in here,” another guard said, this one with dark hair. “You’ve got fifteen minutes alone to discuss whether you will be representing her. If so, tell the receptionist on your way out and Detective Vance will contact you about the trial.”
“Excellent,” Maxwell said, waiting.
Granger’s cell was locked down like a bank vault. They used two keys, a combination code, and there was multiple walls that slid across electronically once they had it open. A small door appeared before us, which was finally unlocked with a brass key.
“I’ll be going in with you,” the dark-haired guard said. “The other two will wait outside.”
“Be careful,” the scared guard said. “You don’t know what its capable of.”
I refrained from challenging him to a muggle duel, gritting my teeth and putting my hands into fists.
“Very well. Come on.” Maxwell went in first and I followed. He turned the handle and pushed the door open; surprisingly, light flooded in from the high barred window on the other side of the room. It was square, quite wide with concrete flooring, a small toilet on the farther right corner, with a bed directly beneath the window. Granger was sat on the bed.
“Would you two like a chair?” the guard asked.
We nodded and two black plastic chairs were brought in for us to sit on.
The officer locked the doors once again and stood silently behind us.
She did not move. Her face was turned to the window. Granger was wearing the same clothes she wore yesterday when they caught her - no shoes, a black ripped dress and a green jacket about two sizes too large for her - although wrinkled and stained with more dried blood. Her thin arms were wrapped around her knees, which were against her chest. She seemed so far away; she didn’t even turn around. Did she know I was here? Did she care?
“Hello, Miss Granger. I am John Maxwell of Maxwell and Sons Legal Services. I am here to talk to you about your case.” His hand was held out to her to shake, but she still didn’t move. “Miss Granger, please, I am on your side. Tell me what happened.”
Maxwell looked at me, willing me to help him. To be honest, I feared what she would say or do when she found out I was sitting there. Would she be happy or would she be mad at me for leaving her to the mercy of the muggles? I could not bare for her to think that this was all my fault.
Carefully, I studied the back of her messy hair and eventually said, “Hermione … look at me.”
The first thing I noticed was an intake of breath. She was shocked yet I still did not know whether this was good or bad.
All she did was look down at her knees and I saw a teardrop glisten and fall onto her leg.
“Hermione, please …” I said, softer.
I couldn’t imagine what she was going through right now. Thinking, knowing that death was coming was a thing I had already experienced but not like this. Burning was another subject matter entirely, especially, when you mean no harm to anybody. I just wanted to wrap her up in my arms, keep her safe and away from everyone and everything.
She sniffed and Maxwell looked at me, realising that this visit meant so much more than he had originally thought.
“I-I’m sorry …” My throat felt rough and contracted. I suddenly found it hard to speak as my eyes watered uncontrollably. “I didn’t mean - mean for this to -”
I breathed outwards for a moment, gathering my bearings. We were only there to help, Granger, so please don’t make me break down in this room.
Beside me, Maxwell slowly went into his briefcase and pulled on a pair of rimless glasses.
“I am also sorry for your situation, Miss Granger,” he stated solemnly. “And this is why we are here, Mr Malfoy and I. He begged me to help you and I accepted. You need representation and I pride myself on being part of the best legal team in the city. As you may or may not know, we need to provide substantial evidence of your innocence in order to get your case to trial. Mr Malfoy has told me of your innocence, but we need proof. So we’ll probably pull up government files of your housing, schooling, medical and family history etc. That should be enough to get you through for now, postponing any … erm … judgement they wish to pass on you. I just need you to state whether you would like me to do this or not and sign this declaration form.” In his hand, was a contract stating her agreement to him being her defence in court. He placed it on his closed briefcase, held a pen and waited, not even holding it out to her.
“Miss Granger?” he said slowly and concisely. “Do you understand me?”
Lips barely moving, she whispered, “I understand you … Mr Maxwell.”
My heart leapt when she spoke and even Maxwell shifted excitedly in his chair once the tiny progress was made.
Her hunched shoulders lowered and her head fell down.
I saw her wipe away a few tears with her dangerously shaking hands, each finger pale and ghostly white.
Maxwell gave me a brief look as she sniffed to herself, still facing the window where dark grey clouds began to gather outside.
Granger’s voice sounded once more, light as a feather, gliding on the air despite the fact that every syllable bore the weight of her pain: “A-and what if … what if the evidence fails?”
“Well, Miss Granger,” Maxwell replied, “according to the Dangerous Magic Act 1999, substantial evidence is proof of at least three government records that state eligibility to be in the UK (or risk extradition) as well as this evidence having no ties to a magical existence and, in your case, that should not be a problem because of your innocence. As soon as I get back to the office I’ll contact the City Council to get your records and -”
Her head moved slightly to the left. “Innocence,” she repeated quietly.
In my head, I begged and pleaded that she would not ruin this for herself, that she would be strong enough to do this. Yet, just by looking at her lost and afraid figure, it made me wonder how much she had left in her and whether or not she could handle more stress. In actuality, she would be lying because she is a witch. But surely …? Okay, I am a pureblood, so I should not be penalised for thinking that it should be okay for her to lie; she was basically a muggle, she had been until she was ten years old and received her Hogwarts letter. As far as a young Hermione Granger knew, she would have lived a normal life not having known about the existence of magic, so why not pretend that she was that same girl only nearly a decade older?
I needed her to look at me, so I could communicate all of this to her through my eyes, but she refused to do so, her back facing us, shutting us out.
“You are innocent?” Maxwell asked Granger while looking at me sternly.
“She is,” I replied instantly.
“I was talking to Miss Granger,” Maxwell said heatedly as I looked away. “Miss Granger?”
“What does it matter?” I said after the silence. “Hermione is not guilty of anything and she certainly doesn’t deserve this kind of death!”
“I cannot and will not go through with this if she is not what she says she is,” Maxwell decided heatedly, his voice rising.
“She isn’t a witch,” I said again loudly, raising from my chair.
“Sit down, Draco,” Granger said, not even needing to look at me to know I was about to lose my temper.
I did as she said, putting my face in my hands. These two were seriously pissing me off. Here was Maxwell, a second away from backing out and Granger wasn’t even defending herself.
I raised my head and, with gritted teeth, said, “What is going through your mind right now?”
Granger’s head lowered and she moved her hair from her eyes slowly.
“Seriously, Hermione, what happened to you?” The anger was rising inside me and no matter how much I tried to suppress it, my stupid mouth kept moving.
“What happened to me?” Still facing away, her voice fell quiet. “I got dragged through a crowd of-of … animals … kicked, spat on … stamped on … and all because I’m … I’m a -”
She abruptly stopped speaking and dissolved into light tears, placing her face into her hands and curling up on the bed, falling forward completely into the sheets.
Instantly, I shot up to place my hand on her back. To my surprise, she did not push me away and so I waited until she stopped crying before I took my seat again.
“In all … in all of my life, I never imagined that I would be here …” Granger sat up and for the first time, I saw her dirty, wet face. Her eyes were sunken and red, mud smeared her cheeks hiding bruises, her lip was cut and bleeding, there was blood everywhere, pain everywhere, oh God … “ … Here, f-facing … and without my best friends …” She took a large intake of breath and heavy tears spilled down her face. “I don’t want to d-die … but I wonder w-whether -”
“No,” I told her. “No. You’ve done nothing wrong.”
“I’m here, aren’t I?” she yelled.
I turned to Maxwell. “Could you give us five minutes please?” I asked politely.
Sighing, he checked his watch. “Three. I’ve got that meeting, remember?” I nodded. “I need to know what she wants to do,” Maxwell said before the security guard let him out.
Gazing at the guard in the corner, I stepped forward carefully towards Granger as she wept. My eyes looked to her tired body and her shaking limbs. I sat beside her on the bed.
“Come here,” I told her, holding out my arms.
She fell into them weeping horrendously, eyes pressed together tightly, tears falling down my shirt, her hands grasping onto my shoulders as though I were the last thing she had on earth.
“Hermione …” I tried to lift her up and make her look into my eyes, but she held herself down. “Hermione … what happened to you? I thought - I thought that you were this strong girl. Y-you’ve been through so much in the past that -”
“Nothing like this!” she squeezed out terrifyingly in a higher pitch. She then began to hyperventilate. “Draco, I-I don’t know what to do. I’ve had … all night to think about this … and I-I can’t see a way out. Even if they find evidence of my innocence, they’ll p-probably kill me anyway, just to show t-that the authorities have the upper hand, to send a message and I d-don’t … I can’t …”
I held her shoulders up and looked into her brown eyes, my own letting a tear fall hopeless down my cheek. She looked terrible, like she had given up entirely, like today was that day she dreaded.
“Why do you think I’m here?” I whispered to her so that the guard would not hear. “I’m here to save you.” I began to wipe the tears, snot and saliva from her face with my hands, but she shook me away.
Chest heaving, she muttered quietly, “But I am a witch, Draco …”
“The muggles don’t know that,” I whispered. “They’ll never know. You’re muggleborn, all your records should be enough to -”
“But what if they aren’t?”
I paused to think. There was all the chance in the world that they did what she thought they might. They might hurt her anyway.
“Take your jacket off,” I muttered.
I placed my hands on her body and just as I was about to help her take it off, the guard beside us yelled, “Hey! What are you doing?”
Holding my hands up, I told him.
I gently pushed the battered jacket from her shoulders and looked over the wounds that debilitated her.
“I’m okay,” she said, watching me as I winced. She looked terrible. Her clothes were ripped, she was bruised everywhere and she moaned nearly every time she moved.
“Liar,” I said back. “They haven’t offered to clean you up?” I asked.
“What do you think? I’m a criminal. I don’t deserve a f-first aid kit.” She wiped her face with her hands. “Have you seen your mother?”
Shaking my head, I replied, “Believe it or not, you were my first priority.”
“She’s your mother,” Granger argued weakly.
“And she’s smart. Already she’s got people convinced she’s a - Well, she would have been executed sooner if they didn’t believe her,” I said under my breath.
“Still … you should see her …” Granger looked out of the window vaguely. I peered out, realising that all that was there was an empty field bordered with an old barbed wire fence. It began to rain lightly.
“I love you, Hermione,” I whispered softly. Startled, she turned to me with her mouth slightly ajar. I was scared and nervous and didn’t quite know why I said it, but I needed to.
She attempted half a smile. “Are you sure you’re not just saying it because I’ll die?”
I held her face in my hands as she looked down. “You won’t. I’ll see to it that you’ll be safe. I love you, Granger. I wish I said it earlier. B-because if I did, we wouldn’t be here right now.”
“This isn’t your fault.”
“No,” she said, tears forming once more, clutching my arms. “I shouldn’t have … done what I did. I was j-just being me - being -”
“Being Hermione Granger?” I suggested.
“Yes!” she whispered to me. “Thinking that magic could solve everything. I should never have - and now we - I’ve never been more stupid.”
“The one thing you are not is stupid, Hermione.” I pressed a deep, loving kiss to her lips, heart bursting as if I had been waiting years for it. She reciprocated by closing her eyes briefly. “I’m just asking you to trust me,” I whispered to her lips. “I have your wand, I have everything under control. I’ll get you freed, the proper way, I promise.”
“Break it up,” the guard ordered sourly as he looked down at us.
We pulled apart.
Granger held onto my hand. “Draco … I’m scared. I-I need my parents, Harry, Ron -”
“You'll see them all again,” I told her.
“You don’t know that.”
The door behind me opened and Maxwell stepped in again, looking at his watch, restless. “She ready?” he asked.
“Yes, Sir.” Granger frowned at me, her face sown with worry and despair. I stood up and leaned down to kiss her cheek, her hand in mine. “Do this for me,” I whispered to her.
“If it doesn’t work, I’ll save you anyway,” I said to her cheek.
“How?” she asked, trembling.
I smiled at her while rubbing my thumb over the skin of her hand. Then I stepped away from her.
“Are you ready to sign the agreement, Miss Granger?” I asked her, taking the paper and pen from Maxwell and giving it to her.
Reluctantly, she nodded.
Before she could sign, Maxwell interrupted. “Who will be paying for your representation? My company is private, not state-funded.”
“I’ll do it,” I told him. My family had a lot of money. Although there was no guarantee that I could find someone in the magical world to change the galleons into muggle money to settle the charges seeing as Gringotts was closed, there was no doubt that I could afford it.
“Alright then,” Maxwell said to Granger.
She quickly read through the fine print and signed the bottom quickly. Maxwell took back the paper and put it in his briefcase. He put his hand out to her and I watched him carefully. He was firm and polite as Granger shook it, but I couldn’t quite tell whether or not he believed her. Not that it mattered. He was a lawyer and all he wanted was money - money I was not sure that he would ever receive. I didn’t care. When this was all over, Granger and I would leave, go somewhere where no one would recognise her face, where we could live happily without fear.
“Thank you, Mr Maxwell,” she muttered after she wiped her nose on her arm. Her eyes were much more puffy than when I entered, but there certainly were traces of hope within her expression.
“Well,” Maxwell looked at me, “I have somewhere to be right now, Mr Malfoy. We are done here.”
“What happens next?” I asked him.
“Of course.” He turned to Granger. “The trial date should be confirmed within the fortnight and then I will return here to discuss your case and your plea in another room, another location within the prison.”
“So I’ve already been charged?” Granger asked, panic coming over her once more.
“I’m afraid so,” Maxwell said. “Witchcraft is a thing of great fear. And I’m afraid, in that case, there will be no offer of bail either.”
Granger’s breathing became erratic again, even though we both knew there was no way they were going to release her even if it was for a brief amount of time.
“A-and Draco … will you be coming back?”
I looked at Maxwell.
“I’m afraid, I am your representation therefore I will be the only person given clearance from this point onwards. Mr Malfoy will have to come during visiting hours … that is, if they grant you the luxury of having visitors.”
Granger nodded as though she should accept the cruelty they were putting her through. She pushed her knees to her chest again and resumed her position at the window, weary.
Sighing, Maxwell left the room.
“See you soon, Hermione,” I told her. “Get some sleep.”
She said nothing, returning to that closed person she was when I arrived. I desperately wanted to bound across the room and take her up in my arms. I wanted to stay here with her all night, every night, but I knew that was out of the question.
My heart broke when I had to turn away from her and leave.
I ran down the corridor to catch up with Maxwell and the guard locked up her cell.
“What did you mean about them refusing her visitation rights?” I rushed, panting.
“They can,” he said shrugging. “She’s considered as a danger to society so they can keep her in her cell until further notice.”
“As well as not healing her wounds?” I said, outraged.
“I’ll talk to them,” Maxwell ensured. “I’m very persuasive when it comes to Human Rights.”
“But they don’t think she’s -”
“The one thing she definitely is is human,” Maxwell said firmly. “I’ll see to it that they treat her like one.”
Feeling slightly better, we took the lift up and stepped into the reception, waiting to collect our belongings from the front desk.
“You look more worried than when we arrived,” Maxwell speculated.
“I am,” I admitted. “I think I just realised that there is a huge possibility that she won’t get out of this.”
He placed his hand on my shoulder comfortingly and then removed it. “I’m not here to make you feel better, I’m here to display the facts. This could be bad, Draco.” He took me aside to the wall where the receptionist could not hear. “Before we met this morning, I read over a previous case where someone was accused of witchcraft. A young woman by the name of Bridget Wenlock. It was four months ago, I don’t know if you remember.” I shook my head. “She was found innocent, but … but the courts, the judge was considering bidding to the Court of Justice for a different form of execution.”
“Drownings and hangings like in the seventeenth century,” he said quietly, his face gaunt.
Anger came over my face, followed by an intense fear that made my knees weak.
“You okay?” he asked as he steadied me. I said and did nothing. “Now, the one thing I know, Draco, is that there is a high chance that most of the people they convict of possessing these powers are probably just normal people like you or I. So I know that this could just be murder, a way for the government to scare people, the real witches and wizards away. If that’s the case, they need to be stopped, so I will represent who I can to stop this conspiracy.” He paused and glared at me with conviction. “I saw the news, Draco, and they said that she had a wand and was using magic on someone.” I shifted a little, hoping he did not know that that person was me. “I don’t know or care whether it was the truth or not.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that I saw Miss Granger today and she was terrified. I can’t let a young girl die whether she is a witch or not.”
Nodding, I let him walk away from me. There was the very high chance that he knew Hermione was a witch but he had a heart and that was what everyone else lacked. I turned back to the door I had just come through and kicked it as hard as I could, not caring that my body was screaming with pain. The people around me just looked on - Maxwell included - sympathetic but motionless, continuing on with what they were doing.
It was raining outside.
Maxwell left the building in a hurry as I collected my bag. I stepped out into the entrance and then the car park, walking on the grey pavement in any direction, my body soaked by the heavy rain. Thoughts and memories ran through my mind randomly while I stuffed my hands in my pockets and tried to formulate something along the lines of a plan; if there was one thing I knew, it was that both my mother and Granger were getting out of there whatever the cost, even if it meant risking my own life and exposing my magic.
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