Chapter 16 : Surrender
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This made Draco oddly aware of himself. He took notice of how much louder his footsteps were than Anders’s, although they were quiet enough to not disturb their prey. The clothes he wore hung loosely from his body, considering how much bigger Anders was compared to Draco. A suit wasn’t the best attire to wear while trekking the forest, so while not out of the kindness of his heart but because of the nagging of his sister, Anders lent him a couple jumpers and pairs of jeans. His hands were cold, feeling brittle and sluggish in the winter weather as they clutched the extra bow and quiver of arrows.
“Is it possible for you to not breathe so loudly?” Anders whispered, never tearing his eyes away from his target.
Draco rolled his eyes. “Want me to just hold my breath?”
“That’s the smartest thing I’ve heard come out of your mouth, Nancy.”
When they had gotten close enough to the deer, Anders held his hand up to signal for Draco to keep still and be very quiet. It was the perfect position for Anders to shoot; even Draco could deduce that. A clear shot through a few broken branches, just fifteen yards away with the prize in the open. Readying his bow, Anders raised it over the bush they were hiding behind and slowly took aim.
Draco hadn’t realized how crouching down low for so long could slow the blood flow to one’s legs. He was beginning to lose the feeling in his feet, and began to wobble until he fell forward and the sound of arrows snapping beneath his weight seemed to pierce the silence. The sound of an arrow whizzing over his head was not greeted by the cry of a wounded animal, and he knew it was his fault.
“Dammit!” Anders threw his bow down in frustration. “The first deer we’ve seen since we’ve been here and it’s gone!”
Draco awkwardly pulled himself to his feet and saw the quiver full of a few broken arrows lying pathetically on the ground next to the bow. “I don’t understand why we can’t use magic,” he said as he tried to stand more firmly, but the blood had only just rushed to his legs and the electrifying pain of it all made him stumble before he could stand properly. “It would be infinitely simpler. It’s quiet. No scavenging for materials to make weapons and no having to carry said weapons around, just your wand.”
“You are so thick,” Anders laughed sourly. “You and your damn reliance on these wooden things! I’ve seen the way you lot abuse it. You use it to clean your dishes, dust your shelves, and cook your food. How lazy can you be?” Anders had started working his way back through the forest, and as much as Draco didn’t want to follow, he had no idea how to get back to camp on his own. Every which way he looked, it all looked the same to him—trees, bushes, and mud.
The walk back to camp was short and silent. If Anders was anything like his sister, saying anything to him would be similar to walking into a trap. And judging by how white his knuckles were as he clutched his bow, one word out of Draco and he would earn a swift punch to the jawline. He didn’t want to make a habit out of getting hit by each member of the Synder family.
Anaxandra sat at the center of camp, roasting some small dead animal over the fire while Tobin was still chained to the ground and snoring. Little Agnatha seemed to be building a small house out of twigs that riddled the forest floor. Her facial expression was a blend of confusion and worry as Draco and Anders re-entered camp with nothing but broken arrows and empty hands.
“You wanted him here, you take him. I’m not having this bloody spoon-sucker messing up my hunts.” Anders plucked the arrows from Draco’s quiver that were still intact and stormed off through the trees without another word.
“Somebody’s in trouble,” Agnatha sang, raising her eyebrows and looking at Draco like he had done something very wrong. She found this to be amusing and that unsettled Draco seeing how similar she was to her older sister.
“Come on then, eat,” Anaxandra commanded, tearing the cooked meat into pieces and handing some to Draco while popping a few pieces in her own mouth. Agantha rushed up to Anaxandra, pulling a few pieces of meat from her hands and running to her tent.
This was the oddest feeling for Draco. Just a couple days ago, he was working through his routine. He had woken up and ate his buttered toast, visited Astoria, went to work in his well-tailored suit, and planned on going home to a steak dinner, but a single turn of events threw everything off-kilter. Day after day he was a square peg going through his comfortable square hole in his familiar angular world, and now more than ever he longed for that because he was finding it difficult to fit through this new round universe he had been thrown in.
“Where’s the rest of the food?” Draco asked, looking around camp for another dead animal.
“That was the rest of the food.” Anaxandra glared at him. Waking Tobin up from his enchanted sleep, she handed him the rest of the meat and he thanked her by blowing her a kiss. She was not amused.
“We had a good amount last night,” Draco said, thinking back to the fat pheasant and rabbits. It wasn’t exactly the best meal he had, but it filled him up nicely.
“When you’re done whining, you should tell me how it tastes.”
“Tell you how what tastes?” He asked.
“That silver spoon in your mouth.” Anaxandra shook her head.
“So please tell me why you wanted me to be here if you think I’m so pretentious?” Draco asked. He had walked over to the nearby water basin to wash his hands as thoroughly as he could. This feeling of filth coating his hands was enough to make him feel disgusting.
“You are an auror that has very useful skills that will benefit what we are doing,” she responded quickly and precisely, like she had been telling herself this same line over and over again until it was branded into her memory. “And given the choice, you chose to stay.”
“I told you, I have nothing to go back to,” Draco replied, leaning casually against a tree, running his hands through his hair.
“You’re such a liar,” she replied, washing her own hands. “You’ve got a job and a family. You’re telling me those things aren’t worth returning to.”
“My parents are off traveling somewhere for another year, they won’t miss me much, and neither will my job. It’s not like they really wanted me there anyway.” He crossed his arms and looked at the floor, his eyes focused on a gnarled tree root. “I don’t really want to talk about this anymore.”
Pushing himself off from the tree, Draco walked back to the fire to warm his hands. Although not nearly as cold as before, it was still freezing and his hands still ached. He then wondered if he should have said something about Astoria and what happened in Diagon Alley that one day. Surely she deserved to know, but he never mentioned Astoria to her before, and that day in Diagon Alley had long since passed. He decided it wasn’t important.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Is it obnoxious having someone asking you questions you don’t want to answer? I would have never thought.” Anaxandra threw Draco an expression of fake surprise while holding her hand over her heart.
A small giggle came from the other side of camp. “You two are so precious! When’s the wedding?”
“If we didn’t have to feed you to keep you alive, I would never wake you up,” Anaxandra groaned, shooting him a dirty glare. Tobin continued to hum and tap the toes of his feet together gleefully while still chained to the ground.
The bloke was mental. Draco couldn’t come to any other conclusion. The man must have been soiling himself but still acted as though everything wass perfectly fine and normal. Was this his normal behaviour? Draco wondered. He concluded that he honestly didn’t want to know.
Anders emerged from the forest with an arrow in hand, the tip being occupied by the head of a squirrel. His expression hadn’t seemed to have changed since Draco last saw him, and he found it wise to stay a fair distance away from Anders unless he wanted to end up like that skewered rodent; an arrow straight through the eye.
“Lunch is served,” he scoffed, yanking the arrow from the eye socket of the poor creature. He threw it near Anaxandra, expecting her to clean it. “Alright Tobin, let’s do this again.”
“Maybe you should take Draco with you,” Anaxandra suggested, frowning and picking up the dead squirrel. Watching the way Anders’s body tightened at the thought, Draco suddenly became reminded of the fact that he was not a courageous man.
“Or, you know, maybe I shouldn’t. That’s a pretty good idea as well,” Anders spat, unchaining their prisoner and getting a firm grip on his shackles. Anaxandra did nothing but stand firmly, her hand on her hip, and an expectant look on her face. “Okay, stop looking at me like that. You look like mum and it’s freaking me out.” Yanking the shackles hard enough to give Tobin whiplash, Anders motioned for Draco to follow. “Come on, Nancy.”
Yanking the shackles hard enough to give Tobin whiplash, Anders motioned for Draco to follow. “Come on, Nancy.”
Although he was hesitant, Draco followed. It was a relief thinking that he could use skills that he already possessed, rather than clumsily try to hunt a deer. The three walked for about five minutes, just long enough to get out of the charmed boundaries of camp, before Anders re-chained him to the forest floor. Draco made sure to stay a few paces away, making sure there was plenty of room between him and Anders.
“You know what I’m going to ask you, Tobin.” Anders pointed Draco’s wand at the man, touching the tip of the wand to his forehead. “Tell me who raided my home that night.”
“Or what? You’re going to torture me? Use the Cruciatus curse on me?” Tobin grinned, pushing his head forward and making the wand push harder into his flesh. “DO IT!” He screamed.
His eyes were wide and he began laughing madly, as if this was all a huge joke to him. But instead of being frightened, Draco began his interrogation process and studied him. He watched his body language, the way he talked, and tried to put himself in the mindset of this man but found that he couldn’t. The man was literally mental.
Tobin kept coaxing him to curse him, torture him, even kill him, but Anders didn’t move for a solid three minutes. Draco waited for something to happen—a burst of green light, tortured screams, a slap to the face—but nothing came until a growl escaped Anders’s lips. It was deep and guttural and so animalistic that it made Draco’s hair stand on end. He could feel his heart racing as another growl met his ears, this time much louder, and Anders threw a hard left hook to Tobin’s face.
“Yes, you are very strong,” Tobin replied after recovering from the hit, running his tongue inside of his cheek. It seemed that nothing could wipe that smile off of his face. “But I’m still not telling you anything.”
“TELL ME WHAT YOU KNOW!”
Again and again Anders sent punches colliding with Tobin’s face, but it was futile. Tobin just seemed to take each hit, no matter how hard or fast they came. He just kept grinning.
This was never going to work. It was a fact that physical torture would never work in trying to obtain pertinent information. Against his better judgment, Draco stepped closer to the two men and yelled, “Stop!”
Anders turned around, his face sweaty and red. “Excuse me?”
“Let me handle this,” Draco said, looking Anders directly in the eye. “It won’t hurt to let me try, right? If I fail, you can go back to beating the living hell out of him.”
Anders stretched his knuckles a few times before stepping aside and letting Draco through to Tobin. He was in rough shape, with one swollen eye and his face almost totally bruised. Draco squatted in front of him, making him and Tobin at eye level. Now that he was much closer to the prisoner, he looked incredibly familiar. Tobin’s one good eye also squinted, as if trying to recognize him.
“Tell me what you know about the people who tried to kill the Synder family.” Anders snorted behind Draco, and shook his head in disbelief.
“I’m not telling!” Tobin sang, clapping his fingers together. “Are you sure we’ve never met before?”
“Why? Is someone paying you to keep quiet?” Draco asked.
“You’re not going to get anywhere with him doing that!” Anders burst, his fists tightening once more.
“Your method wasn’t any better, and I’m not finished so shut up,” Draco sneered, shooting a glare at Anders. Silence fell between them as Anders lowered his fists, and Draco began his interrogation process again. “Tell me why you won’t say anything.”
“Because,” Tobin answered, twisting a gold ring around his pinky that had escaped Draco’s notice before. “I know he won’t kill me. It’s against his code. I do not fear him!”
Draco’s eyes narrowed as he stood, looking down at Tobin with a devilish smirk. “But it’s not against mine. Does that mean you fear me?” Tobin’s grin faltered. “Oh, don’t worry. Killing isn’t my first option.”
The grin had been wiped off of Tobin’s face as Draco snatched the ring off of his pinky finger. “Give that back,” he demanded.
“This ring is a bit small for you, isn’t it? Too thin to be a man’s ring, and judging by the age of it, it looks to be quite old. Whose is it?” Draco tossed the gold ring into the air and caught it again, keeping it just out of Tobin’s reach.
“Just give it back! GIVE IT BACK!” Tobin cried, trying to yank free of the restraints. “IT’S ALL I HAVE LEFT OF HER!”
“Your wife’s ring? Maybe your grandmother’s?” Again, Draco examined Tobin’s every move, looking for something that told him the truth. “Maybe it’s your mother’s—“
“GIVE IT TO ME!” The words reverberated off the trees, and that is when Draco knew he had finally found what made the mental man tick. Tobin’s veins were bulging from his neck, and his face was scarlet.
“Oh, it’s your mummy’s? How sweet.”
Draco snatched his wand back from Anders and used it to levitate the ring just out of Tobin’s reach, observing the terror in Tobin’s eyes as they widened in fear. “Tell me who is after the Synder family.” Tobin swallowed hard, his eyes flitting between the ring and Draco’s face. The ring began glowing red hot, and Tobin screamed as if he were in pain. “I’ll tell you! I’ll tell you everything please, just give me back her ring. Please!”
“Not until I get the information,” Draco countered, never letting the ring cool down. It was beginning to deform.
“S-Someone’s…” His eyes were brimming with tears and he couldn’t bear to tear his eyes away from his precious ring.
“Oi.” Draco snapped his fingers in front of Tobin’s face. “You look me in the eyes when you talk to me.”
“Someone’s been asking for them.” Shakes began rattling his body as Tobin fought back the sobs. Draco knew he had his complete attention and honesty once he tore his eyes away from the red-hot piece of jewelry.
“Who?” Draco asked calmly.
“A woman, I don’t know her name! Please, stop!” He pleaded once more. Draco did not stop, and the metal was verging on molten.
“She paid me three hundred galleons to track them down and keep quiet. I couldn’t find their home, but I gave her all the information on places that they had been, and after I have her all that I could she paid me and I never heard from her again until just a couple months ago. She was going to pay me double to find the Synder kids and threatened to kill me if I said anything or lost contact with her.” Tobin began calming down as he saw the ring drift slowly to the ground with the more information he gave up. The minute the ring was still, he began to silently cry.
“Where does she live?” Draco asked.
“I don’t know. I met her in an abandoned shack when I would give her information. Somewhere in Scotland, I don’t know the exact place. I used the Floo Network to get there through a shop in Diagon Alley. Now please, I’m begging you. Let me have it back.” No longer the happy, mental Tobin from before, the man in front of Draco was reduced to a sobbing mess over his dead mother’s ring.
“You could be lying,” Draco said, pocketing the ring. “I’ll keep this until we know you’re telling the truth.”
“I-I know you,” Tobin whispered, only loud enough for Draco to hear. “I recognize your face.”
“Enough of your bollocks, Tobin.” Anders came up behind Draco and took a hold of Tobin as they walked back to camp.
The three walked back in silence, save for the sobs coming from Tobin, who was now trying to caress the imaginary ring around his pinky finger. Once inside camp, Tobin was put under another sleep spell and chained to the same tree as before. Draco was grateful. Anders didn’t need to know about his past.
“Maybe this idiot isn’t as useless as I thought,” Anders admitted to Anaxandra, which caused her to smile.
“You’ve got something useful out of him?” She asked eagerly, checking inside Agnatha’s tent. Probably making sure she was asleep.
“We have a starting point,” Anders replied. “Let’s plan tonight, then we’re off in the morning.” Sighing, he pulled the wand out of his pocket and handed it to its rightful owner. “Don’t make me regret this,” he warned.
“I won’t.” Draco took the wand and pocketed it. Anders walked to the other side of camp and entered his tent.
“I don’t know what you did,” Anaxandra started, walking towards him, “but thank you.”
“I’m an auror that has very useful skills that benefit what you are doing,” Draco replied, repeating what she had said an hour before he left camp. “It was no problem.” He smirked at her as she rolled her eyes.
There was a familiar feeling in Draco’s chest when he saw Anaxandra smile at him. A bright, genuine smile that he had seen only once before in Diagon Alley, was what caused his chest to tighten and his heart to falter in the most pleasurable way. She bit her lip and turned away, and it was almost too much for him. It was only when he entered his own tent that he allowed himself to be fully immersed in this feeling. He was tired of fighting it, and he had to admit, he liked giving in.
"Malfoy, don't think you're off the hook! Your shooting lesson starts in ten minutes!" Anders called from outside of Draco's tent.
Well, it was nice while it lasted.
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