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Chapter 11 : Unpredictable
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Draco snapped back to reality, shaking the thought of silvery grey eyes from his thoughts and refocusing his vision as he took in his surroundings. The elegantly decorated living room, the long dining table, and the large family portrait above the fireplace reminded him of where he had been for the past four hours before he drifted off into his own world—the Greengrass household.
“Hmm?” Draco asked, raising an eyebrow and looking at Astoria with hazy eyes.
“Well if you would pay attention,” she snapped impatiently, “I would like to know which one you like better, the pink or the orange.”
The space in front of him, which had been previously occupied by two sets of cake toppers, then two sets of napkins, and then two sets of table cloth, was now inhabited by two tall vases: one with bright orange chrysanthemums, and the other with vividly pink roses. His upper lip curled in the slightest as he tried to repress his disgust at both of the hideous centerpieces. He resisted the urge to shield his eyes from the garish things.
“Maybe we shouldn’t have any centerpieces, love,” Draco urged, looking at her hopefully.
She returned his hopeful look with one of anger. “Shouldn’t have any centerpieces? Are you daft?”
“They’re just flowers-“
“Just flowers, you say! Well, excuse me for wanting to include you on our wedding day! I could have just not asked you to come at all!”
“That’s not what I meant-“
“Then what did you mean, Draco?”
“Astoria, I’ve had a long day at work and I just want to go home.” This statement couldn’t have been truer; his day had been exceptionally stressful. It seemed that Gawain decided to take a few personal days without notice and had left the office in nothing but disarray. Aurors were running around like headless chickens, unsure of what to do without their fearless leader's command.
Astoria’s cheeks became a scarlet red and her chest rose and fell at an alarming speed. Throwing her hands in the air, raising her voice, and severely scaring the skittish little florist who had brought in the awful flowers, she began going off about her ‘perfect wedding,’ that she had dreamed of since she was a little girl, and Merlin knows what else because Draco had tuned her out.
He watched as she paced back and forth, desperately trying to make Draco feel the unnecessary urgency of the situation. Everything about her was beautiful. Her thin figure complemented her long legs perfectly, and she seemed to glide rather than walk. Those baby blue eyes of hers were what had made Draco fall in love with her in the first place, and her smile. Draco didn’t even want to get started on her smile. The creature that stood before him, in all of her wedding crazed glory, was dazzling. But lately, he found her eyes to be a dull shade of blue, and her thin, frail figure made her look weak. His perfect image of a woman was beginning to shift.
“Which one do you like the best?” Draco asked, interrupting Astoria’s wedding rant.
She glanced at the vases, holding on to an inhale before she exhaled, “The pink one.”
He stood up and planted his hands firmly on her shoulders. Draco kissed her forehead and hugged her before he softly whispered in her ear, “Then I like the pink one as well.”
Astoria smiled and went in for a kiss, tenderly touching her lips to his. As he pulled away, he noticed the glistening red gemstones that hung from her ear lobes and gave her a small smile. “I love the way those earrings look on you.”
“I’m a lucky girl to have a fiancée who spoils me.” She went in for another kiss, but this time Draco pulled away, avoiding the sensual touch.
Draco hated the color red.
Anaxandra stood in front of the bathroom mirror after unraveling the three-day-old bandages that seemed to endlessly wrap around her abdomen. The bandages littered the floor, and she lifted her shirt to trace the raised areas of thin skin that served as a reminder of the night she should have died.
You don’t know who you’d be dealing with, or more like what you’d be dealing with.
This phrase, in the same scratchy tone, was replaying in Anaxandra’s mind until it was all that filled her thoughts. The shifty little goblin did the one thing that was keeping her from going out into the world and tracking down the heathens that killed her family—he made her question everything.
The organized mess of Anaxandra’s brain was struggling to forge a comprehensive plan. Tons of information on various creatures, survival strategies, and combat tactics were all squared away in the perfectly organized filing cabinets of her mind, but were currently serving no purpose to her. She never went into a mission unless she knew everything there was to know about what she was facing, ranging from special abilities all the way down to its weak points. Anaxandra held dearly on to the notion that “knowledge is power” and she knew that every single miniscule piece of information was important. It could potentially save her life in the long run. Her Hunter training dictated that each move she made be calculated and precise, never going into a fight not knowing your opponent or what to do in the occurrence of an unsuspected turn of events. Nothing took her by surprise, and she took pride in that.
Now here she is, faced with the menacing question, ‘what am I dealing with?’ Armed with no knowledge of her enemy, she might as well have been paralyzed. Jeffrey Tobin, her current target, was the first piece of her puzzle, but she had to find him first.
The sun shone through the frosted bathroom window, just begging Anaxandra to bathe in its rays. The warmth was incredibly welcoming, and little goose bumps began traveling up her arms in excitement as the prospect of going outside became more appealing. She let the hem of her shirt fall back down before she exited the bathroom, heeding the sun’s call.
As she walked down the short hallway, Anaxandra noticed that the door to Harry’s office was slightly cracked open. No light came from within and, after checking that Harry wasn’t anywhere near, Anaxandra was granted access to the one room she was specifically instructed to not step foot in. The phrase she once told Draco, ‘curiosity killed the cat’, came to mind, but she was as much of a cat as she was a caged bird.
There was nothing spectacular about the room. It held what any office would: a few bookshelves on magical law, a tall lamp, and a rather worn looking desk. A few folders lay atop the desk’s surface, the top one having her name written in capital letters on the tab.
Her thoughts were going a million miles an hour as she was beginning to wonder how in the hell the Ministry had gotten a hold of her name. Taking one last look down both ends of the hall, Anaxandra rushed to the other side of the desk and opened her folder, reading the very top page where her profile should be.
A small note lay on top of the paperwork, a few short sentences scribbled messily across a couple lines.
Show no knowledge of witness’s identity.
Moving the note to the side, she began to read the reports on the front of her file.
ROBARDS, GAWAIN 18/9/2001
The witness’s identity remains unknown. Several officials have tried their hand at gaining information, and only one has mildly succeeded. After placing an unauthorized silencing charm on the interrogation room, Draco Malfoy (Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Auror) has gained the information that the witness’s home had been raided and her family killed. He has gained a warning for his blatant disregard for the rules. He is now lead on the case, gaining the position of ‘warden’, and under strict orders to deliver any pertinent information on the witness.
ROBARDS, GAWAIN 2/10/2001
Draco Malfoy (Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Auror) had come in today asking for a reassignment. He said that watching over the witness was not a good use of his abilities, whatever those may be, and that he would like more field time. In exchange for reassignment and pay raise incentive, he gave up her identity. Case file name will be changed immediately to SYNDER, ANAXANDRA.
ROBARDS, GAWAIN 5/10/2001
Draco Malfoy (Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Auror) has been relieved of the position ‘warden’, and is now off the case due to possible “relations” with the witness that had been hinted at when I had informed him that he had been removed from the case. Harry Potter (Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Auror) is now lead and has gained the position of ‘warden.’
Other reports resided in the folder, but Anaxandra didn’t want to risk being caught. She quickly closed the folder, the feeling of betrayal and hurt growing in her chest. Closing the door silently behind her and pushing her thoughts to the deepest and darkest corners of her mind, she made her way down the stairs.
“Going out?” A voice drifted from the dining room as Anaxandra’s hand had just wrapped around the doorknob. She turned her head to see Harry, still in his pyjamas, sipping a mug of coffee and looking over paperwork that was messily strewn across the dining table. An oddly familiar scene, Anaxandra thought to herself.
“If that’s alright with you,” she replied, letting go of the doorknob and holding her hands in the air as if to suggest that she wasn’t armed.
With a flick of his wand, red sparks began trailing their way to Anaxandra’s position, dissipating as they reached mere inches from the tip of her nose.
“Fine by me,” Harry replied nonchalantly, waving his wand again before setting it on the table. The sparks ceased. “Just be back in an hour.”
“Thank you,” Anaxandra sourly said, taking a step toward him. As much as she wanted to take into consideration how he had defended her just last night, she couldn’t get over the fact that he, just like Draco, was a liar.
Harry chuckled, “I grew up in a cupboard under the stairs. I don’t think anyone deserves to be cooped up like that.”
Anaxandra rushed out the door, letting the cold winter air sting her cheeks. The sun was bright, but its heat was lost in the morning breeze as she walked down a large hill toward the glassy lake and waited. An opening in the middle of the thick wall of trees across the way was the center of Anaxandra’s attention, where every morning and evening, like clockwork, the same brown bear would come to the lake and dip its paw into the water. For three days she had looked out of the window to witness the odd behavior, and today her curiosity had finally gotten the best of her.
The destructive feelings began to resurface, and soon Anaxandra found herself kicking clumps of leaves on the ground, sending them flying into the air.
“That stupid, selfish git!” Anaxandra found herself muttering as she continued pacing and crossing her arms tightly over her chest. And to think she hugged the bastard…
He gave up her identity after she specifically told him that it would be dangerous for not only her, but those who knew of her existence, and they would be in danger as well. All for a damn pay raise and a promotion no less! It seemed that she had overestimated the young Auror, thinking that his moral values were high. Apparently the lives of others were no concern to him, and his motives were little more than completely selfish. The moments of unexpected closeness they shared were nothing more than opportunities to better his own situation. Had he not considered how she would feel?
That Harry Potter fool, too! The Boy Who Lived, the Chosen One, the pinnacle of all that is good in the wizarding world, ha! Were all Aurors low on moral fiber? Was there no such thing as honesty and justice anymore? These were the heroes, the dark wizard catchers, that her father had spoken so fondly and highly of when she was a child? The whole lot seemed like a bunch of liars and cheats, slithering their way to the top. It seemed that the world had taken a sour turn since her father had been a part of it.
Anaxandra stopped pacing and shook her head. The same thing that she was patronizing them for was the very motive she had. She was going to use Draco to get what she needed, and then she would leave. The feelings of anger, aggression, sadness, and betrayal were getting in the way of her logical thinking. This idea had been lost in her sea of emotions, and disappointment was beginning to wash over her. One of the core Hunting rules: Emotions should never play a part in missions. They cloud judgment and dilute reasonable thinking which led to inevitable failure, and when failure means death, failure is never an option.
Minutes passed before the brown bear emerged from the clearing in the trees, but instead of dipping its paw in the water, it just stood rooted in place. It stared across the lake, cocking its head to the side, as if returning the examining stare that Anaxandra had cast in its direction. For a moment it stood on its hind legs, and then fell back to all fours. The bear then shook its fur once before retreating back into the sliver of an opening in the forest.
By this time, her curiosity had peaked and the feelings of resentment toward her former warden had been suppressed. Anaxandra quickly made her way to the surrounding woods, keeping the lake within sight, its image segmented by the silhouettes of trees. The space between trunks was extremely limited, and Anaxandra found it difficult to maneuver through Mother Nature’s obstacle course. Birds twittered above her head, and a small fox had taken a keen interest to her as she quickly walked by.
The clearing was empty. She looked all around her, searching for any sort of clue the bear may have left behind that would lead her in its direction. There were no footprints, no droppings, nothing that indicated that a bear was ever there.
A twig snapped. An intense blow to the rib cage sent Anaxandra flying across the small clearing, and caused her to hit the back of her head on a tree. Her vision was blurred, and all that she could make out was a massive brown blob that seemed to growl at her. Rapidly, she blinked her eyes to try and regain focus, but the blob just grew taller, never really taking a definite shape. The edges of her vision began to go dark, and her awareness began to fade. In the last moments that she clung to consciousness, Anaxandra questioned if what she heard was real or if it was some sort of cruel figment of her imagination.
“You’ve gotten a bit soft, little sister.”
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