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Chapter 6 : Serpent
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It was like the whole world had suddenly gone into slow motion while my senses became sharp. I could smell the faint sent of coffee beans covering the entire café like a thick fog and a faint musty scent……..cologne? I could hear the wind outside, slowed to a low howl, like a lone wolf calling for his pack. I felt static in the air as the tension slowly rose with the wand that was now aiming at the point between my eyes.
I watched the Death Eater’s smile twist cruelly as his eyes widened in triumph. His wand held steady in my direction. His eyes fixed on my own. I felt a light shiver as the magic cloaking my appearance dissolved. I felt naked and exposed without it.
Dear God I’m going to die.
We were all frozen. For a moment even the wind outside was still, as if it too was holding its breath in anticipation.
The Death Eater took one deep breath before he thought of the spell.
Bright purple flames erupted from his wand, spinning towards me in slow motion. I closed my eyes. My hands curled into tight fists. My nails dug into my palms causing a light trickle of blood to smear. I felt the beginnings of tears begin to form as I held my breath, bracing myself for the pain.
“Protego!” My eyes flew open to see Draco standing in front of me, blocking the Death Eater’s curse.
He had thrown himself in front of a curse for me!
I didn’t have much time to think then as the world suddenly snapped back into motion.
The lady from behind the counter screamed just as a bright red light burst out of Draco’s wand and hurtled towards the Death Eater. He blocked it with a flick of his wand and sent a jet of flames our way which Draco countered with Aguamenti. The two wizards locked into a duel, while I stood there completely useless.
I gasped as I felt a spell graze my ear. We were too exposed here in the open café. We needed cover. My eyes immediately flicked to the counter.
Laying my palm against Draco’s back I began to slowly move towards the counter. As if by some unspoken agreement Draco moved with me, his back pressed firmly against my palm as we backed away and quickly darted behind cover.
“Shit!” I swore as Draco sent a lightning bolt over the counter causing the air to buzz with electricity. The woman was by now crying hysterically, her face a bright red puffy mess. I nudged Draco who flicked his wand at her, causing her to flop over unconscious.
We huddled behind the counter as spell after spell was directed our way, mostly to unnerve us. My hand was still pressed firmly against Draco’s back and I felt his muscles tense with every shudder the counter gave as it was hit repeatedly. I tried taking deep breaths to fight off the panic that was threatening to completely paralyse me. Forcing myself to keep thinking clearly as I had been doing in the war I scanned my surroundings for an escape route. My eyes fell of the door that led to the back room. I felt tempted to run for it but logic hand me fast. What if there’s no door to the outside? He’d see you go through the door and then you’d be trapped! I jumped and huddled against Draco as the counter gave a particularly violent shudder.
Suddenly, the spells stopped.
Silence settled over the small café like a terrible black cloud holding a dormant storm. I could hear every beat of my pounding heart and thought perhaps that I heard Draco’s too. Fear was twisting its way through my gut. We sat in silence, waiting, neither of us willing to make the first move. I held my breath.
“I almost didn’t see you there for a second Miss Granger.”
His voice was like melted chocolate; it seemed to flow over the counter seductively and envelope me in a terrifying warmth. I fought the urge to gasp. I heard him take a slow, purposeful step towards the counter. My heart fluttered like a caged bird in my chest.
“Or you Draco. Does your father know you’re frolicking with a mudblood?” I didn’t understand how a voice could sound so mocking and cruel and yet so beautiful. I shivered involuntarily and told myself it was out of fear. It had to be out of fear.
Another step closer.
“You know, turning up in civilisation was….” He paused, giving a light snort of a laugh. “Stupid. Very stupid. Now I heard you were bright Miss Granger! Really, haven’t you ever heard of the Visibilis potion?”
I silently cursed myself. Of course! How could I have been so stupid! The Visibilis potion allows the drinker to see any magically cloaked object or person for what they really are! Obviously the Death Eater’s would have some!
Stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid Hermione!
“I must say though, you look much better as a brunette my dear. Rather attractive for a mudblood actually. It’s a shame Lucius wants you killed.” He drawled out the words, his voice becoming purposefully husky. “Such a shame.”
A torrent of flames sprung up suddenly from the counter and Draco and I leapt away from it in shock. We were immediately fired upon and forced to leap out of the way of a bright orange spell. My eyes widened as I saw the large, black hole the spell had left in the wall where we had been stood not one moment before.
It was while I was stood there, staring dumbly at the destruction the spell had caused, that I was hit.
I was thrown against the wall of the café, my arms and legs bound by thick magical ropes. I struggled vainly and screamed in pain as they tightened around my body, snaking over my stomach and ribs until I was completely immobilised. I tumbled to the floor, the air shoved violently from my lungs. I rolled and kicked and screamed as I felt my bonds tightening further.
The Death Eater lunged for me; his piercing blue eyes seemed to say: I’ve got you now. Draco shoved him away at last minute, both of them hitting the floor hard. The Death Eater shoved Draco away roughly and proceeded to crawl slowly towards me.
The ropes dug into my skin as I struggled to push myself away from the cold eyed Death Eater. I screamed as I felt his hand close around my ankle, kicking out as I felt the cold wood floor grate against my back.
I felt pure terror as the Death Eater pulled himself up until he was lying on top of my bound body, his weight pinning me down. His face was leering down at mine as his hand slowly moved up over my breasts to rest on my heart. He chuckled coldly as he felt it beat frantically against his warm palm.
“Scared sweetheart?” He murmured as his hand rested on the bare flesh of my chest. I didn’t answer. I couldn’t. My voice was lost somewhere in my throat.
“How did you get it?!”
I closed my eyes against the memory and choked on a sob as I fought to gain control. I fought against the terror and tried to move, tried to at least wriggle away from him.
But I was frozen.
His face lowered until I could feel his warm breath against my skin, until I could taste it. I stared into his eyes; a terrified animal trapped in the coils of a huge python that was slowly squeezing the air out of its lungs, as if relishing the moment. His lips brushed against mine in a mock loving kiss.
“Such a shame.” He murmured against my lips as I began to cry.
“How did you get it!? Filthy mudblood tell me!”
“Stop.” I whispered.
“Please.” I sobbed, unable to think with the wash of memories and emotions which were taking hold.
“Stop!!” I screamed, causing him to recoil slightly in shock. “Draco! Draco help me!”
As if on cue I saw two strong, pale hands grasp the Death Eater by the shoulders and hauled him off me. I stared at the ceiling, sobbing as I listened to the sounds of fists colliding with skin. I heard someone take a deep, shuddering breath. I winced at the sound of bone cracking against a hardwood floor. Heavy breathing. Footsteps.
“Obliviate.” Draco’s voice.
I let out the breath I hadn’t even been aware I was holding in relief. I felt more tears swell and pool over onto my cheeks in fat droplets.
I felt my bonds go slack before seeming to dissolve into the air and felt a pair of strong arms wrap around my frozen body. I thawed and threw my arms around him, clinging to his strength and warmth. Clinging to him. I sobbed into his shirt as I felt his hand move up from my back to stroke my hair gently and soothingly.
“I’m so sorry Hermione. I’m so sorry.” He whispered into my ear, his voice sounding so sincere and so full of pain. I couldn’t speak, I could only sob.
“Let’s get out of here.” I murmured against his shirt after several minutes of silent sobbing. Draco grasped me to him tightly and I felt myself fade into blackness as we apparated away.
The ash rained down slowly, in thick grey flakes. I found myself walking forwards, my footsteps leaving marks in the thick blanket of grey. The ash was like a twisted, grey mockery of snow; covering the ground in a thick blanket as it floated down to the earth and choked all life it could find.
I looked up at the sky and gasped. It was like the heavens were ablaze. The red sky moved and swirled as huge black clouds drifted ominously across it. I blinked as fat flakes of ash landed in my eyes. I shook my head and kept walking.
“I must be in hell.” I murmured to myself as I took in the scorched landscape. I was walking through what used to be a forest, the burnt, black stumps of trees sticking up in odd places all around me. I coughed as I inhaled some of the lingering thick black smoke. My nostrils and throat seemed to burn as the hot gas seeped out of my lungs. My eyes stung and began to water, but I kept moving forwards. I wasn’t sure why.
I noticed the black tree stumps becoming more spaced apart as I continued forwards until there was nothing apart from thick grey fog before and around me. I swallowed the fear that was rising in my throat and kept moving forwards.
I couldn’t see anything in the fog, but I felt myself moving up a slight hill. I felt blind and stupid as I tripped over stones and roots. My leg collided with a particularly large rock and I gasped as I stumbled forwards. I landed on it, my body pressed against its flat side. I glanced down and felt my blood run cold. I knew this stone.
It was a piece of the castle. A fallen piece of debris from Hogwarts. I didn’t want to move forwards anymore.
But my legs ignored my wishes and I found myself standing up and continuing, slower this time. My heart thundered in my chest and I felt myself break out in a sweat. I tried to turn around, I tried to force my legs to turn back but I couldn’t. I could only move forwards.
I stepped out of the fog and found myself standing in front of the huge Hogwarts gates. I froze as my eyes moved up to the ruined, smouldering remains of the once magnificent castle. Smoke rose around the bent and broken iron gate. Finally, I looked at the foot of the gate and my heart stopped.
Standing in a long, ominous line in front of the gate were Death Eaters, all of them clad in long black robes and ghoulish silver masks. Kneeling at their feet, also facing me was a long row of slumped figures with black sacks over their heads and shackles around their wrists, chaining them to the floor.
“Oh god what is this?” My voice was tiny, frightened. It was carried away by the wind. Never to be heard.
The smell of burning and death was everywhere, stifling me. Tears burst to my eyes. I didn’t want to see this. I didn’t want to see them.
The sound of drums filled the air in a low crescendo, the ominous slow beat vibrating through the ground. The deep, dark music of an execution.
Dear God, please no.
As one, the Death Eaters moved in a sort of military dance. They pulled their wands out and held them up by their masked faces before pointing them down and into the necks of the slumped figures before them, where the point of the spine meets the skull, all to the beat of the drums. Each Death Eater then reached forwards and pulled off the black bags. My eyes widened in horror and I wished more than ever that I could run away, back into the safety of the fog. But my legs were rooted in place. All I could do was raise my hand to my mouth and hold back my terrified sobs.
Kneeling before the Death Eaters was all of my friends: Ginny, Luna, Neville, George, Charlie, Bill, Fleur, Molly and Arthur. In the middle of the group, kneeling right in front of me was Harry, Ron and Draco. My heart stopped. My world stopped as my friends looked up at me, their eyes pleading for help when their gagged mouths couldn’t. I was paralysed, my body a frozen tomb preventing me from reaching my friends.
My eyes slowly met each of theirs, my heart giving a tight squeeze at every shared glance. Harry’s bright green eyes shone with sparkling tears. He gazed at me, begging for help while at the same time begging for me to turn away, to run before they threw a bag over my head too. I couldn’t bring myself to meet Ron’s eyes, to watch the terrified tears flow over his pale cheeks as he begged me to save his family. I met Draco’s eyes instead, his beautiful grey eyes that shone with pain and fear.
But he didn’t cry.
I gazed at his perfectly dry eyes and his gaze seemed to strengthen still. I stood frozen under his intense gaze and I could almost hear his voice in my head.
“Run Hermione! Run now!”
I shook my head no. I tried to run to them. My feet wouldn’t move. I moaned, a low animal sound escaping from my parted lips.
“Draco.” I whispered, tears streaming freely down my cheeks.
One by one the Death Eater’s removed their masks, starting at ether ends like some sort of domino effect. I wanted to scream as I saw Bellatrix standing behind Ron and that bastard Death Eater from the café standing behind Draco. I saw Lucius standing behind Ginny and Peter Pettigrew behind Neville. The others were strangers, or at the very least men I couldn’t care to remember. My eyes slowly travelled to Harry, who kneeled in the centre of the line, and the Death Eater behind him, the only one who still wore a mask.
I didn’t want to see the man’s identity, though I already knew who it was.
Run! My mind screamed at me. For god’s sake run!
Slowly, a bone white hand rose and grasped the silver mask. He pulled it away from his face. The drums increased in tempo as the mask clattered to the ground by his feet. The sound seemed to echo around the dead castle.
Blood red eyes gazed into mine, their cruelty and malice scaring me in a way nothing else could. I wanted to look away but I couldn’t. I was trapped, a mouse hypnotised by the eyes of a serpent.
His lips curved into a slow smile.
He grasped Harry’s hair and yanked his head up so I had a clear view of his face.
Harry’s green eyes begged me to save him.
The night was filled with a bright green light.
The drums stopped.
My friends flopped forwards.
Voldemort’s laughter echoed around me as the night erupted with my screams.
“NO!” I sat bolt upright in the bed, my eyes wide and wild and my breath coming fast. Voldemort’s laughter still seemed to drift in the air around me and with a frustrated cry I flung my arms out in front of me, in an attempt to chase away the lingering images of the dream. I was still breathing heavily when I felt a warm hand touch my shoulder.
With a terrified cry I spun around, only to see a very tired looking Draco staring back at me. A tired yet reassuring smile appeared slowly on his lips. He held his arms open for me.
Without another though I flung myself into his waiting arms and sobbed. His arms came around my shaking body, holding me firmly yet gently. He rocked me soothingly and I felt myself gradually begin to calm down.
“He killed you.” I choked out the words, a fresh wave of hysterical tears following as I heard them spoken out loud. “He killed everyone!”
“Shh. It was just a dream Hermione, he can’t hurt you now.” I felt his lips against my hair as his hand moved to pull me closer. “I’m so sorry Hermione.”
We stayed that way for a long time, clinging to one another as minutes ticked onto hours. We were sat on my bed, back in the tent. Safe.
But I didn’t feel safe.
“Did you know that man? From the café?” I whispered. I’d stopped crying though my voice still sounded choked and hoarse.
“His name’s Victor Marx. He’s a close personal friend of my fathers and as you’ve probably guessed a Death Eater.” I felt his jaw tighten against my forehead. “I’ve always hated him. He’s so……….I don’t know, evil? Then against I suppose they all are.”
“You’re not.” I pulled away from him and stared into his deep grey eyes, remembering the way they hardened with strength and determination as they seemed to urge me to save myself. That dream had felt so real……..
Malfoy snorted. “The mark says otherwise.”
I reached forwards and took his hand before slowly pushing up his sleeve to reveal the faded dark mark. My fingers traced the slightly puckered skin gently before I looked up into his face.
“You saved my life, that’s what says otherwise Draco. Not some stupid mark.” I squeezed his hand gently and smiled at him before whispering: “Thank you.”
Draco stared at me, long and hard. My breath caught as I watched him lean forwards slightly, closer to me.
“Hermione...” He murmured, his deep voice becoming slightly husky.
“Yes?” My own voice was hushed and breathless. My heart thudded in my chest as I leaned closer towards him. Our faces mere inches apart. I felt his warm breath against my face and my eyes travelled towards his lips.
He pulled back suddenly. I felt a sharp pang of disappointment as I watched him abruptly stand up and glance away from me.
What where you expecting? He’s still a Malfoy. I thought bitterly.
Ron sends his love.
Oh shit Ron.
Guilt washed through me as I watched Malfoy start to walk away.
“You should get your sleep.” He said curtly as he reached for the flap. He turned to glance back at me. “Goodnight Hermione.”
Then he was gone, and I was alone.
“Goodnight, Draco.” I whispered to the empty room.
(A/N) Hope you like the chapter! Please leave a review to tell me when you think of the story and chapter!
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