Chapter 6 : The Hangover
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Her head felt like it has been hit by a thousand Bludgers. The all-too-familiar nauseating feeling sank in. This was only a part of the after-effect of drowning in firewhiskey. She looked around and saw that it was morning, and she was definitely not in her room. She was in a familiar-looking gazebo. It was the gazebo in the Greengrass Mansion’s backgarden. Then beside her, something stirred.
She turned sideways and came face-to-face with a peacefully sleeping Draco Malfoy. So she stared. His tousled hair was swaying lighly in the breeze. The strands were so silky that she had the urge to brush them. His long lashes were resting peacefully on his cheeks. He looked so relaxed, almost angelic. Then all of a sudden, his eyes opened. A pair of unfocused bluish silver iris stared back.
“Astoria,” he mumbled. “Even in my dreams you mesmerise me.”
Astoria wondered whether she was dreaming. But her pounding headache punctured the idea.
“This isn’t a dream,” she whispered. This isn’t a dream…..this isn’t a dream!
She sat up, suddenly, and regretted it, as her head sent her into a whirlpool of vertigo. The nauseating feeling was stronger than ever. But she didn’t relent. She got up and walk away from him.
“Oh dear Merlin! What the hell did I do?” she barked to herself. “I can’t remember anything from yestarday! I fell asleep with Draco Malfoy! What if my parents found out? What will they think?”
“I thought you didn’t care for your parents and their socialite rules,” drawled Draco. Who seemed to have gotten over his sleepy state.
“Yes, but if they find out were here together, they’ll want us to get married!”
“And that would be a very bad idea,” he said, sarcastically.
Astoria stilled. She didn’t know what happened last night, but she knew something has changed between them. It was apparent in the way he was looking at her, like he knew her. A warm departure to his cold flirtation.
“Come on, I’ll take you to your apartment,” he said, getting up.
“How do you know I live in an apartment?” she asked, suspiciously.
“You told me,........ among other things,” he said, teasingly. “I guess you don’t remember.”
She heard a slight sadness as he said the last part.
“Come on, princess.” He pulled her into his arms, and Disapparated.
The next thing she knew, she appeared in the middle of a busy muggle street.
“What in the name of Azkaban?” asked he, complete shock visible in his face.
“Did I forget to mention that it was a wizarding complex? Security includes an Anti-Disapparation spell,” she said with glee.
Draco noticed a lot of muggles staring at them with suspicious eyes.
“Never mind that,” he muttered. “Which apartment is it?”
She pointed at the most queer- looking apartment in the street. He could not believe he had missed it. It looked more like an underwater palace, with its skeletal and coral quality. The façade had irregular oval shaped balconies and stained glass windows. The arched roof had been decorated with reptilian scale-like tiles.
“It is rumoured to have been done by the muggle architect Antoni Gaudi. His memory was probably erased later. Poor fellow, he was very much talented.”
Draco only grunted as he pulled her along with him. Astoria, who was having a vertigo, was caught off- balanced and fell.
“Sorry,” she muttered, trying to get up.
Draco, without saying anything, picked her up in his arms and walked into the building.
“Draco!” she hissed, blushing. “I can walk.”
“Sure you can. I’m not leaving you until you feel better. From your greenish complexion, I can tell you are feeling nauseated.”
The doorman gave one look at them and flicked his wand at the door of the lift, which instantly open. Then, when they reached her floor, Draco tried to magically open the door of her apartment.
“Only my wand can be used,” she said, as she did the same thing. This time, the door opened with a click.
Draco stared at her apartment. It was warm, clean and cozy. A beige sofa set was by the fireplace. On the right side was the kitchen with a built-in dining space. On the left side was a small corridor. He walked into the corridor, with Astoria in his arms, and opened the door at the end.
The door led to a spacious bedroom with an attached balcony and bathroom. The windows were open so the white linen curtains were flying, creating a dreamy effect.
He gently set her on the bed, and removed her footwear. He then went into the kitchen and got a glass of water for her. As Astoria was drinking, two things happened: there was a knock on the main door, and someone was yelling Astoria’s name from the living room.
Astoria set the glass down to get up, but he forbade her from doing so. Then he went the living room and discovered the source of yelling to be the hovering head of Potter in the fireplace.
“What are you doing here?” they asked simultaneously.
“Hold on to that thought,” he said, as he rushed to open the door. Outside was a strikingly beautiful young woman, who looked very troubled.
“May I help you?” he asked, politely.
“I should be asking you that. Where’s Astoria?” she asked.
“She has taken ill. I’m sorry but she isn’t accepting visitors,” he said, as he made to shut the door.
“Draco! That’s my friend!” exclaimed an outraged Astoria.
“But you need rest,” he said, matter-of-factly.
“It’s okay,” said the girl. “I just came here to see if you were okay. Sorry for intruding you, er…..”she said, with questioning look at Astoria, who blushed and didn’t reply. Then the young woman walked away.
“Greengrass!” yelled Harry.
Astoria jumped as she heard her boss’s voice.
“You are late for your work! Do you know time it is? It’s noon!”
As Astoria opened her mouth to reply, Draco spoke, “She isn’t coming to work today. She is ill.”
“I’m fine,” she snapped. But then her leg turned jelly again.
“You’re unstable,” he said, catching her.
“No. You both don’t understand. There’s been another murde,” said Harry, with urgency.
They both stared at him in shock. “What?!”
“Actually, it’s a double murder. This time, its Triton and Arista Burke.”
“I know them,” whispered Draco, colour draining from his face. “They were in third year when we started Hogwarts.”
“Well you gotta get here soon. I’m sorry Astoria, I have to have to ask you of this.”
Draco looked at Astoria, still looking pale and greenish.
“Okay, I’ll get ready,” she said.
Harry, looking relieved, vanished.
“I do not like him,” said Draco. “Are you sure you want to go? You don’t look too good.”
“I’ll be fine. It would be helpful if I could get some breakfast.”
“I’ll make it, while you get ready. Then we can both go to the Ministry of Magic together.”
“But you haven’t freshened yet.”
“I have an office with a bathroom. I also keep extra clothing there. I’ll be fine.”
“It’s the same situation,” commented Astoria.
“No sign of breaking in; no sign of any evidence of the murderer; the victims show clear signs of tortured; similar burn marks on their hands,” listed Harry.
“In short, we have a serial killer on the loose,” finished Ron.
“But we have something else. We can find the connection between Blishwick and the Burkes. Other than their House, and bloodline, that is.”
“But how will you find out?” asked Astoria.
“Professor Mcgonagall has allowed entry to the Archive of Hogwarts. You will go there and find out everything you can about these three.”
“There is an archive at Hogwarts?”
“Yes. I didn’t know it until I became an Auror. It’s like the Hall of Prophecies. It has all the students in Hogwarts since the beginning of Hogwarts itself. It was created by Rowena Ravenclaw. As the students grow up, a public announcement of the pupil, like a newspaper article, is stored there.”
“How will I enter?”
“I don’t know. The librarian will tell you.”
“This is the first time I’m going to Hogwarts!” exclaimed Astoria.
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