AN: Okay folks, I’m going to try getting this through the validation process before their vacation so you have at least one more new chapter, if not then at least we tried and it’s the thought that counts right!
The next morning Blaise, Stella, Draco and Hermione were found in the same office as last night, now talking out everything they had read, and ideas that had leapt out at them.
“So here were my first thoughts; sadly the only Hogwarts House that doesn’t have a victim is my own. Gryffindor’s have somehow not been touched. The second thing is the fact that we all probably know the perpetrator, and I will possibly definitely know him well.” Hermione said sadly, it was a physical pain for her to think one of her schoolmates and friends was responsible for what was happening.
“I agree, I think there is a connection.” Blaise said softly. “Hermione, I hate to say this, but as a female Gryff you might have information that you’re unaware of having.”
She just stared at him, knowing what he was going to ask of her and dreading it.
“Somebody else can do it. There’s Ginny, Parvati, Lavender, Katie Bell, Alicia Spinnet, lots of others who could do it.” She almost begged them, and Draco felt her pain and reached out to lend her strength.
“’Mione, you’re right there are other girls but you weren’t known as the Gryffindor Princess for no reason. You knew all of them personally or at least enough that they thought they knew you personally.” Draco answered. She just looked up at him with those big brown eyes of hers and finally nodded.
She took her seat and invited them to begin the questions.
Stella asked, “Hermione, how about we start at the very basic, was there a bully in Gryffindor while you were there?”
Hermione took her time answering because she was loyal to her housemates even after all this time; it was a characteristic that made her fit there. She also knew that she had a responsibility to the victims if she did know who he was.
“There were very few actually from my point of view, sorry guys, but it was the Slytherin’s that we were mostly watching out for. I’m not trying to bring up old grudges, I just only know one Gryffindor that maybe, might fit the profile but it isn’t him” Hermione said when she saw Draco and Blaise tense up when she brought up their own house. She rubbed her fingers up and down her forehead trying to rub out a budding headache.
“How can you know it isn’t him?” Stella asked calmly, giving the other two a silent warning to back off.
“Stell if you saw the guy you would know why, he’s enormous and his size would have been the first thing the victims discussed. Cormac was so big he hardly fit through doorframes.” Hermione said at first, but there was hesitation at the end of her sentence as remembrances of hiding from him during a party snuck into her head. The guys were trained to notice those changes in tone and body language, being Aurors.
Draco spoke finally. “There’s something you’re not saying, and Hermione personal things are left at the door, so I will remind you that I am a Ministry Auror investigating multiple violent crimes. If you’re withholding pertinent information you could be in trouble.” Hermione looked at him like he’d just smacked her.
“Draco Malfoy, you listen to me you little ferret! I am investigating the same damn crimes and how dare you suggest that I would protect a RAPIST?” She was yelling now. “The hesitation was because of a memory that hit at the end of my sentence damn you. Now if you want the information I will talk to Blaise and I will talk to Stella but until you get the fuck out of here, I’m not saying one more word!” She pointed at the door while yelling at him. They were toe to toe, in each other’s faces. He threw up his hands and slammed the door as he left.
Blaise opened his mouth to say something but Hermione beat him to it. “Blaise, do not defend the way he just treated me or you won’t hear this firsthand either.” She looked right at him, brown eyes to brown eyes, and he nodded.
“Ok, why don’t you tell us the memory that made it appear that you were reluctant to name someone.” He said instead.
“Do you remember Cormac McLaggen? Big, big guy kinda looked like he’s related to Hagrid by the size of him?” Hermione asked, and Blaise scrunched up his eyebrows, it was familiar and he couldn’t place it.
“Something is ringing a bell ‘Mione, but damned if I can put a face to him.” Blaise answered honestly.
“Slug Club.” Was all Hermione had to say and his eyes lit up with recognition.
“He was huge, I can see where you’re coming from now, it would be a tell-tale feature.” He agreed. “So what is the catch? Why the hesitation?”
“Because, remember that Christmas party in sixth year?” He nodded for her to continue, “Well Ron and I were supposed to go together but we had a major falling out over Lavender Brown. So I wanted to make him jealous and Cormac annoyed him the most, he hated the guy. So I asked Cormac to be my date for the party and man did I regret it. I couldn’t keep him off me; I even went to the extreme of eating foods to give me bad breath! Finally Harry distracted him so I could leave and get back to the common room and I just remember that being one of the first times I felt vulnerable because I was a smaller female to this huge guy.”
She took a deep breath, “See I have magic to protect myself, but when it’s a wizard who is also intelligent and strong it evens the field. He could definitely do damage to me physically and I was more than a touch scared. Luckily Malfoy got caught gate crashing and that distracted him and I got away and Harry stayed with me for a few weeks so I wasn’t alone with him again. The problem is that while that fits some red flags and early warning signs, you still can’t get past the fact that his size would have been the first thing mentioned.”
“I see what you mean. It’s confusing isn’t it? Was there anyone else you can think of that showed aggression toward females in your house?” Blaise asked.
“Honestly, no.” She said simply. “There are only two other’s that were bullying thugs to us, and one of them isn’t the rapist beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
Stella leaned forward thinking they were getting somewhere, “Okay, so who’s the innocent one, and who isn’t?
“The one who is innocent just walked out that door, and the one that was horrible to us was Zacharias Smith but he was a Hufflepuff. Susan Bones is one of the victims and she was in his house.” She got up and started pacing. “I need to go find Draco, can we pick this back up in a few minutes?”
Blaise and Stella agreed and went to go find out what information they could dig up on McLaggen and Smith while she was gone.
Hermione walked down the hall and was opening the exit to the stairway to leave when she smacked right into Harry. She let out a cry and threw her arms around his waist and started shaking, he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her out to the stairwell.
“What’s going on Hermione?” He asked in a caring but urgent way.
“Not here, let’s go up to the roof.” She told him and turned and led the way.
When they got there they found it was already occupied. Draco turned around when he heard the roof access door open.
“Draco I was just coming to look for you when I literally ran into Harry. Please, I need you to listen to me okay?” When he nodded, she smiled shakily.
“Harry, you know we got the rape case. Well it turns out there is only one house that doesn’t have a victim, ours. So they were asking routine questions and I remembered the night of old Sluggy’s Christmas party.” She started trembling again and Harry began to reach out, but Draco beat him to it. Harry hid his smile at the clear message being sent his way.
“I won’t pretend to understand what you are talking about, but I would never intentionally hurt you like this Hermione.” Draco soothed. She smiled wearily and leaned into his warmth.
“Cormac McLaggen happened to her that night Draco. He got a bit out of line and didn’t like to take no for an answer. He followed her for a few weeks until Ron, and I used magic to make him back off, but it was a scary time for Hermione. But I doubt he’s your guy, you’d know immediately if he was, he’s obvious in a Hagrid sort of way.
After another twenty minutes talking the three of them headed back to work, Hermione hugged Harry when they went their separate ways. She walked back with Draco glad that they had settled things. When they got back into the room however they were in for a shock.
“We think we may have something with Smith. When we looked up what he’s been doing since school there were more than a few violent assaults and one attempted rape. Stella and I thought we would go talk with him and that maybe the two of you could go talk to Susan Bones and Hannah Abbott. Susan is one of our victims and Hannah was the attempt.” Blaise told them quickly. “Oh, and Hermione? You were right about McLaggen he’s not our guy because he’s been in Azkaban for the last five years for the use of an Unforgivable.”
Hermione said hurriedly, “Go, we’re on it.”
They sent a Patronus to Susan that they were coming to see her, and since she and Hermione were friends when they apparated to her front yard she met them on the porch. She looked back and forth between the two of them in confusion.
“It’s okay Susan he isn’t the same prat we knew in school.” Hermione smiled at her. Draco smiled too and Susan relaxed.
“What can I help you with ‘Mione?” Susan asked shyly. She was always a bit introverted the whole time Hermione had known her, but once you broke through the shell she was the sweetest, gentlest person Hermione knew, that made the fact she’d been violated by this monster even more awful.
“We’re here on official business Suse. It’s about your attacker, would you mind talking with me and Draco about what happened?” She asked gently.
“I guess if you think it’s important.” She answered clearly frightened but trying to be brave.
“I know you’ve probably been through this over and over, and I am not here to make you relive that night wholly. I’ve read the file; I just wanted to know if anything in particular stood out? His size, his voice, was there a scent you were familiar with?” Draco asked calmly.
“He was medium build, nothing that would stand out in a crowd. There was something to the voice, like I should know it, but I just can’t place it. That part has been haunting me as well. I am pretty sure that I know the person but as soon as I heard him approach he automatically had me blindfolded and disarmed. It all happened so fast, and then it was over and he said ‘Sweet Dreams Princess’ and then he was gone.” Susan started crying.
“If you didn’t see him,” Hermione asked delicately, “then how do you know he’s medium build Susan?”
“I could feel him. I don’t want to talk about this anymore Hermione.” She cried.
Hermione hugged her friend and held her until she was cried out while Draco discreetly left the porch and walked down the block some to give the ladies privacy. The interview part was over, right now it was one friend reaching out to another friend in need. He really wanted to catch the bastard that did that to all these girls and not the least of all because Pansy was one of the victims. This guy was hitting them all close to home and he was angry.
“I think we should go talk to Pansy before we talk to Hannah. Pans is one of the victims and might be able to help narrow things down.” Draco told Hermione when she walked up.
“You think her information will be different?”
“What I think is that Slytherin House is a very isolated house Hermione. The other houses will gladly unite against Slytherin without batting an eye, we tend to bond closely for that reason. If it is a Slytherin that is close to our year, she’ll know him and that narrows the field by a fourth. Also I had another hunch that you won’t like at all.” Draco answered reluctantly.
When Hermione just looked at him he confessed, “I think it may have nothing to do with Houses, it could be about a certain group….”
TO BE CONTINUED!
AN: Who’s got guesses? I already have the rapist figured out, and the murderer on Harry’s case as well. Alright get to guessing my wonderful sleuths! Clumsy!
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