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Chapter 8 : Chapter Eight
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An inch of fresh snow adorned the back garden of the Remi Inn. I pulled my cloak tightly around me and it had little to do with the sharpness in the air. In truth, it was more my paranoia than anything else. Being wrapped up in a thick heavy coat didn’t make me invisible, but it helped me convince myself that I was. I had chosen to step outside for a while to clear my head whilst Maeve prepared dinner. I had offered to help but she had politely declined in the way Maeve always had when anyone ever offered her any help of any kind.
I watched the wind play with the loose snow that covered the surface of a bench at the end of the garden. A robin flew around it, bobbing slightly in the wind before taking flight and coming to a stop on the garden fence. Watching the snow with particular interest. The whole scene reminded me of something out of the snow globe I once saw in Dumbledore’s desk. It was fifth year and the first time I had set foot in his office. Fred and George had slipped me some ‘Bruise Remover Paste’ to heal a black eye I had gotten from a punching telescope, which ironically was another one of their inventions. One thing led to another and the paste gradually left a large piss-yellow stain under my left eye. All I could remember of the aftermath was being called into Dumbledore’s office and being so terrified I thought my stomach was going to sprout limbs and crawl up and out of my oesophagus. Dumbledore had taken a quick five minute examination of my face before he sat back down in his seat and started laughing to himself before offering me a sherbet lemon and sent me off on my way. The stain had taken a good few weeks to disappear and I remembered wearing my hair down and in my face for the duration of those weeks. Much to the amusement of Fred and George.
I had only visited the headmaster’s office once after that and this time it had belonged to professor McGonagall. It was a week before I left school for good. She had sat me down and explained to me, after a long hard sombre look, that my parents were dead.
My heart started to pound inside my chest and I closed my eyes and shook my head. Taking a long breath of the cold air. Trying to force the disturbing thoughts of the months that followed out of my head. They were replaced my visions of me running through a dark wet forest, Giants thundering through Hogwarts castle, Fred’s dead body, So many dead bodies. I started shaking slightly on the spot as I remembered the battle and that awful night where I could not even attend my parent’s own funeral because I was rotting away in a cell in Malfoy Manor. The night where I had received my very first dose of torture, a few weeks after Voldomort’s death. A night I had tried so hard to erase from my mind.
The deafening explosions of the battle and the serpentine hiss of Voldomort’s as he spoke into the night. Harry Potter’s dead body, the final battle, the wild mass of Bellatrix Lestrange’s hair as she fell at Molly Weasley’s feet. Running from Yaxley and the slippery, wet mud under my feet sundry with the burn of lactic acid and the blur of the ground beneath my feet. A part of me wanted to recall every two ticks of that night, moment my moment. But I knew that doing that would defy the whole purpose of why I was standing outside in the cold wet snow. In order to clear my mind not to guide it into further turmoil.
I took pity on my own sanity; I knew the longer I spent in just my own company, the longer I would have to mess with my own head. I broke in two the small piece of snow I had been rolling in my hands and dropped the pieces to the ground with a thud, startling the robin that had been watching me with a spirit of enquiry. The bird squeaked slightly before taking off somewhere and getting lost amidst the many rooftops. I sighed and trudged up the path that led back into the inn. Apparently the only living thing I was capable of scaring was a bird the size of my hand.
I sent Maeve an inward blessing as soon as I stepped into the kitchen. She had turned the fireplace on and the room smelt pleasant, like sun baked apples and deep mulled wine. For the first time in days, I welcomed the hungry growl of my stomach. I took a seat in front of the fireplace, enjoying the warmth.
“How did it get so late so soon?” Maeve appeared from what I assumed was the pantry, wiping her hands on her apron, “my goodness how the time has flown”
I smiled in reply and watched her silently as she pottered about the kitchen mumbling to herself.
“Maeve?” I called out to her softly.
“Yes my dear?” Her back was stooped over as she arranged utensils in a drawer, she was a woman in the autumn of her life. I felt sad to see her like this. I remembered the times when every Saturday Maeve and I would walk a mile into town and she would show no signs of tiredness. I have never seen her wear shabby clothes, always clean and fresh. She has the most angelic and warm smile I had ever seen but even through all that, I could not help but feel terrified.
“Where are Arian and Draco?”
“Downstairs,” She replied, “Draco wanted to have a look at a few books, Arian led the way”
I nodded, watching as she brought over a tray of mugs and a pot of tea to the table in front of us. I watched as Maeve poured the brown liquid into my mug and set a slice of pie on a plate and placed it in front of me. I had to stop myself from attacking it, not remembering the last time I had a proper meal. I settled back in my chair and took in the warm dancing flames of the fireplace. We sipped out tea in silence for a while and I was beginning to think that the day might actually turn out alright. I glanced over at Maeve over the rim of my mug, watching her with interest. She looked sad and a little frustrated, like she was battling hundreds of complications in her head.
“Maeve, can I ask you something?” I asked quietly.
“Of course dear”
“What would you say if I told you that I want to meet them, now?”
“The other three, we can’t afford to waste anymore time”
Maeve sighed, “I would say that it’s late Imi, and you should wait till tomorrow”
“That’s another 12 hours wasted, another 12 hours in which Yaxley has a head start” I said, “He already has so much to his advantage, and we cannot give him more”
“Your determination is astounding” She sighed and put her tea down, taking my hands in hers once again, “This is not just your battle alone; you must learn to allow mistakes from time to time Imi”
I smiled weakly, “It’s not that Maeve, it’s the promise I made my mother, what right have I got to call myself a good daughter if I don’t give my life for the promise I made her?”
“Your mother was a very convincing woman” Maeve laughed and patted my hand, “Sacrifices and promises are a part of life Imi, They’re something to aspire to, not regret, Make sure your mother’s sacrifice was not in vain”
I bowed my head towards my lap in an attempt to hide the tears that stung the corner of my eyes. It was a useless thing to do because it was near enough impossible to hide anything from Maeve but it was good that I did because at that moment, Draco strolled through the doorway, closely followed by Arian.
I roughly wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and sat up, “I think that we should go and find these other three people,” I turned to Arian who was leaning against the doorframe, frowning slightly at Maeve, “You know where they are don’t you? You’ll take us?”
Arian didn’t reply, his gaze fixed at his grandmother.
“Arian” I snapped.
He tore his eyes away from Maeve and looked at me, “Sorry what Imi?”
“Will you take us to the other three?” I repeated.
“Good” I said, standing up, “We should go while it’s still slightly light outside, Maeve, thank you, for all this”
I bent down and gave her a hug, patting her slightly on the back. I was always a bit thorny when it came to displaying affection. She looked at me with a hint of amusement in her brown eyes. I frowned at this but smiled back at her all the same.
“Imogen, come here” Draco said.
I looked up at him, in the middle of fumbling with the clasp of my cloak, “What?”
“I said – Come here” Draco’s words came through gritted teeth and I shivered.
I walked over to Draco confused, “What’s wrong? Did you find anything?”
As soon as I was close enough, Draco nodded to Arian who walked briskly towards me and grabbed both my wrists with one hand, pulling me away from the room.
“Arian – Arian what are you doing” I struggled against his grip, “Arian please you’re hurting me”
“Imi please stop squirming” He said softly, loosening his grip slightly, “This is for your own good”
“What? Arian have you lost your mind, let me go!” I startled trembling slightly in his grip, “I thought you were on my side!”
“I am on your side,” He hissed, “She however, isn’t”
I looked over to see Draco towering above Maeve, his wand raised at her. She cowered underneath him and I felt sick at the sight, “Stop it,” I pleaded, Resisting as hard as I could but my wrists burnt from where he was pulling me towards him, “Arian how can you watch this, are you mad!” I was shrieking now, my throat burning.
“Imogen, this is not your precious Maeve” Draco crooned, “It’s a traitor”
Arian held me to his chest while I struggled, but he was stronger than I was and I had tired myself out, “No you’re mistaken, you’re lying Malfoy”
Draco laughed, “No, you’re just too blind to accept reality”
“Leave Imogen out of it” Arian spat, one hand holding my waist, “Just do what you have to do, but leave her”
Draco just sighed in reply, turning back to Maeve, “Tell me where your wand is” He said calmly.
“I-I’m not a witch-I don’t know what you’re talking about-“
“Lie” Draco hissed, “You’re a traitor, Yaxley sent you, there is no use lying, I won’t ask you again – Where is your wand?”
“She’s just an old woman and she’s scared” I was crying now and I hadn’t even realised, “Arian do something”
All Arian did was tighten his grip on me, he was shaking slightly too and I wanted to curse Draco. I wanted to get my wand and hex him right in the back of his head but I was frozen from panic and fear.
“Stop, please” I said weakly.
Draco turned his head and looked right at me, his eyes ablaze with anger, “Arian, take her outside”
But Arian did not move, instead he enveloped me with his arms so that my eyes were looking into his chest and not at the frightened face of Maeve at Draco’s feet.
“Draco’s got it all wrong Arian, he’s wrong, tell him, tell him” I muttered the same thing over and over again, I could feel him running a hand through my hair but all I could think about was Maeve’s terrified face.
“Why did Yaxley send you?” I heard Draco say, “How does he know where we are?”
“Yaxley knows everything” The next voice that came did not belong to Maeve, it was a man’s voice and it was not gentle and timid like Maeve’s either. It was rough and it was mocking.
I moved my face away from Arian’s chest to find that in place of where Maeve sat before, there was a man. A squat lumpy looking wizard with a lopsided leer. He was kneeling at Draco’s feet, showing no signs of any remorse.
“Where’s Maeve?” my voice came a lot bolder than I expected, “What have you done to her?”
The man gave me an ugly smiled, his teeth yellow and crooked, “the same place that you are not, rotting in a cell”
Arian’s arms dropped. At that moment, I tried to be forgiving. Anger is a feeling that drives us insane. All you need is to push that wrong button and something sends electricity through your spine. And this fat, witless death eater had done just that. Anger is absence of control. And it was that Alive, raw anger that made me step away from Arian and point my wand straight between the man’s eyes.
“What’s your name,” I whispered.
“Bagman, Ludovic Bagman” His voice came in brisk panic, “please – It was a mistake”
I shook my head, “The mistake was mine, for trusting you”
It was bizarre how Death Eaters were profound to be loyal. To always adorn and commitment to their master. Funny how this one had no backbone now that he had been caught. What irritated me most in that entire situation was the fact that I
wasn’t feeling humiliated, or annoyed, but rather angry that Maeve had suffered at the hands of this man. A component of nothing but fat cells and blubber. Insulating his inner sins with a layer of fat.
“Why should I show you mercy when you have never shown mercy to anyone else?”
“I was following Yaxley’s orders-
“The choice to become a death eater was yours” I said.
“Miss – I beg you to see reason-
I stared at him through my eyelids. ‘Miss’ It was funny how people changed their loyalties when they knew they had failed. I kept my wand pressed deep into his forehead for a minute longer before lowering it again, “Take this as a sign of good will” I sighed.
“I know what i’m doing Draco” I snapped, “Maeve would not have wanted me to kill someone, not for anyone”
Draco’s grey eyes searched mine for a moment before he sighed and turned towards Bagman, “What information have you already passed onto Yaxley?” He spat.
“None! None!” I watched Draco’s face twist at disgust at the man almost begging at his feet, “I got no chance too, I swear”
I walked back towards Arian who watched the scene with a strange emptiness in his eyes. It broke my heart to know that I could do nothing for him, so I just smiled at him and squeezed his arm. Feeling pathetic.
Bagman looked at me and then Arian and opened his mouth to speak before Draco cut him off.
“If you are lying, you will beg for death when I return” He said.
I shivered at the verity in his voice. “Come on,” I said to Arian, leading him out of the room.
I turned my head back towards Draco who still had his wand pointed at the man at his feet, “Obliviate” He whispered and I turned away before I could see Bagman fall.
It had been Arian’s idea to burn the inn to the ground and it was Draco who had done it. Arian had dragged Bagman into a nearby alleyway and set him down behind restaurant bins, looking very satisfied with himself. I cast a concealment charm around the inn and then stood back with Arian and watched as Draco sent a fireball through one of the Inn’s front windows. The fire spread through the building as if it was burning in a dry forest. Fast and angry and when it was over, there was nothing left of the house but a simmering ruin.
Arian and I returned back to the hotel whilst Draco went out to enquire about the names of the three people which he had found out from Arian. I had told Arian to go upstairs and lie down whilst I had a little nose in the kitchen and managed to convince the cook, after much altercation from him of how it was not time for dinner yet, got some food for us. When I returned, I found Arian sitting on my balcony with his eyes closed. A cold breeze blew back my hair as I stepped onto the balcony, setting the tray of food down on the plastic garden table.
“May I join you?” I asked softly.
He opened on eye and then the other, “If you like”
I sat down on the opposite chair. We sat quietly for a while and I sat there listening to him hum along to a song that I had never heard of before.
Down below on the street, A couple passed. The girl hanging from the man’s arm. They laughed. It was cold and their breath misted in front of their faces but they didn’t seem to mind. The woman spoke in fast French with intervals for laughter and the man did nothing but smile at what she said. Maybe he could not speak French? Or perhaps he was just in awe with everything that she said. Nearby, a restaurant was still bursting with life. The voices of the people that sat outside rose like ghosts. Soft and haunting. I never did understand the point of spending your time doing useless things like that. They were just stupid people in large groups.
“She’ll be okay won’t she Imi?” I jumped slightly, forgetting for a moment that Arian was even there.
“Just tell me, don’t sugar coat anything, just say it how it is”
I sighed, “Arian – They won’t hurt her, she knows more about the stones than any of us put together, they can’t hurt her”
“We’ll get her back wont we?” No matter how hard he tried to hide it, Arian was terrified.
I gave him a weak smile and took his hand in mine, “You’re forgetting why we’re here Arian, We came here for you and Maeve, we’re not going to leave her behind”
At that point, I should have realised that Promises mean nothing and I am certainly not good at keeping them. Promises are made to wipe tears and lull the soul. Words mean nothing. The word ‘Promise’ is just a label we give to the words we use to comfort a broken heart. Some people do not understand the implications of promises when they’re making them. People like me. The wisest person is the silent one. But I have never been wise.
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