Chapter Thirty-One: Turmoil
When the first year had delivered the message their first weekend back after Easter Holidays, Harry had looked like someone had punched him. The only thing he said, after burning the message, was that they were to meet Blaise that night. Ron didn’t ask questions, though he had a bad feeling. They pretended to go to bed, and once everyone else was asleep, they snuck away.
Harry was following the Map as they hid under the Cloak. Ron was positive their feet and half their legs were probably showing, but no one was around so it didn’t matter.
‘Why exactly are we meeting Zabini at two thirty in the morning?’ He asked. ‘Couldn’t this have waited?’
‘No,’ Harry said. ‘Zabini said it was urgent.’
Ron fought back a sigh. As much as he wanted to be in bed right now, he knew that whatever it was, it couldn’t wait. ‘Thank Merlin it’s the weekend, and I can sleep all day tomorrow if I have to,’ he said.
Harry smirked. They stopped a few minutes later at a classroom door. ‘Cygnus,’ Harry whispered.
The door opened, revealing an empty classroom lit with a dozen candles. Blaise sat on a cushion, and Astoria Greengrass sat next to him. It wasn’t Astoria’s presence that surprised him, but rather their fellow Slytherin sitting across from them.
‘Ron. Harry. Thank you for coming,’ Blaise greeted them. He nodded to the other two cushions across from him, and they sat down. Ron made Harry sit next to Goyle. ‘I’m sure you’re wondering what Goyle is doing here.’
‘You better have a bloody good explanation, Zabini, because the last time we saw this slime ball was when we were saving his life. And may I remind you that before he ran like the bloody coward he is, he was fighting for a bunch of Death Eaters?’ Ron said, giving Goyle a dirty look.
‘We don’t have time for the whole story,’ said Goyle, ignoring the look. ‘I was forced into becoming a Death Eater thanks to my father, and I was only pretending to fight for them. I never enjoyed torturing people. I hated it, actually. Long story short, I took a leaf from Snape’s book and went undercover. I’ve been undercover for two years now. Nott and Parkinson think I’m on their side. I know who they’re working for. I’ve met her, and she’s not a woman to mess with.’
‘Who is she? Is she the person that has Ginny?’ Ron asked, though he was pretty certain that she was.
‘Her name is Griselda Granger. She’s a Pureblood witch, and she taught at Hogwarts way back when it was founded,’ Goyle said. ‘She’s an extremely powerful witch. She had an affair with Godric Gryffindor, and they had a daughter. But their daughter, for some reason, was born without magic. Her entire magical bloodline has been wiped out. Hermione is the only Granger that’s ever had magic.’
Ron stared at him. ‘Do you mean to say that no one in Hermione’s family has ever been a witch, except for this Griselda person?’ He asked.
‘Exactly,’ Goyle said. ‘I don’t know how genetics work, but somehow the magical gene never developed in any of her family members.’
‘Hermione’s related to Gryffindor?’ Harry asked, stunned.
Goyle nodded. ‘Very distantly, but yes,’ he said.
Ron wasn’t all that surprised. Sure, he was amazed, but it wasn’t all that surprising to him. He had always known his Hermione was special. Being related—no matter how distantly—to Godric Gryffindor had nothing to do with that. That was just a bonus, really. Hermione was special all on her own.
‘Why is it that you don’t look surprised at all? Don’t tell me you knew about this already,’ Harry said.
‘I had no idea, honestly,’ said Ron. ‘I guess it’s just not as surprising to me as it is to you. Hermione’s always been special to me.’
‘I agree with Ron,’ Blaise said. ‘Sure, it’s pretty neat that Hermione’s related to Gryffindor, but in my eyes it doesn’t make her more or less amazing than she already was.’
‘Did you just call her amazing?’ Ron demanded, whirling on Blaise. Again, he felt a surge of jealousy towards the Slytherin, and it wasn’t the first time. Back before Christmas, when Blaise and Hermione had been friends, Ron had been envious of him and felt as if Hermione had replaced him entirely.
‘For the record, I thought she was amazing ages before you even clued in that she was a girl,’ Blaise said.
Ron opened his mouth to argue, but Goyle cut him off with a glare. ‘We’re wasting time, and we didn’t have much of it to begin with,’ he said. ‘Hermione being related to Gryffindor is not important right now. What’s important right now is that we—and by we, I mean the Order and I—have found out a way to rescue Ginny.’
‘It will be highly dangerous. So dangerous not even an Auror would dare to attempt something like this,’ Astoria put in, speaking for the first time. ‘And we wouldn’t attempt it either, but we have to get Ginny out of there, and we don’t have the time to wait for another opportunity.’
Ron gulped, and Harry paled. ‘If getting her to safety means dying, I’ll do it,’ said Harry, determined despite the fact that he looked like he might throw up. Ron nodded his agreement.
Astoria looked like she’d been hoping for another answer, but she nodded. ‘OK. So far, we know that Griselda’s going to be expecting an attack. The Order decided that we’ve waited too long to rescue Ginny, and we can’t wait for her to leave. We’re going to have to attack, because Griselda’s not giving us another opportunity.’
‘Is anyone else going to be included in this plan, or is it just going to be the five of us, and the Order?’ Ron asked.
‘We’re not including Draco, if that’s what you’re really asking,’ Blaise said. ‘It’s too dangerous. He needs to stay here to protect Hermione.’
‘Besides, Draco already knows too much as it is,’ Astoria added. ‘I won’t put him in danger. Not for something that has nothing to do with him.’
‘You don’t think so?’ Ron asked. ‘He loves Hermione. I may not like him, but that doesn’t mean I’m blind. He loves her; he wants to protect her. I know he does. And they’re together. If you ask me, I think he has a part in all this just as much as the rest of us.’
‘You can’t tell Draco, Ronald. If you do, I will make sure you will regret it. You’ll be black and blue all over by the time I’m finished with you,’ she said.
Ron gulped. He didn’t doubt that she was capable of it. ‘I won’t tell him,’ he said. ‘I would much rather he stay here to protect Hermione anyway.’
She looked almost smug. ‘Wasting time, you two,’ Goyle reminded them. ‘OK. Let’s go over the plan…’
Hermione’s instincts warned her something was wrong the moment she got the note from Professor Quincey, given to her by a small second year that had looked up at her with wide, awestruck eyes. But she’d figured it was just an effect of spending years around Ron and Harry, that all those years of facing danger had made her as cautious and paranoid as Mad-Eye Moody, so she ignored them.
It had been a few days since she and the professor talked. She had followed his advice and gone straight to the infirmary afterwards. Draco had been worried when she returned and told him where she’d been. He remained worried when she began vomiting after dinner. He was constantly fretting over her, and had even gone so far as to suggest not going to class—and was rewarded with a glare. He’d wanted to come with her when she got the note, but she refused, knowing it was possible he would find out what she had been keeping from him.
The note had said nothing except Meet me in my office at 9:00pm. It had not been signed, which was the reason Hermione took her wand with her. She wanted to be safe, just in case she was being tricked.
Indeed, by the time she reached Professor Quincey’s office, it felt as if she had a ginormous knot in her stomach. She still told herself that she was being silly, that there was nothing to worry about. Nevertheless, her fingers tightened around her wand anyway.
No one answered when Hermione knocked on the door. She braced herself, and pushed it open, cautiously walking into the room. ‘Hello?’ She called softly. ‘Professor? I got your note.’
But Professor Quincey didn’t answer. Hermione readied herself to attack, just as a cold, bone-chilling laugh echoed softly around the room.
‘And I had so hoped you were smart enough not to walk straight into a trap,’ a snide voice said. ‘It was so obvious you were being tricked, too. So much for being the brave, smart little Gryffindor we all know so well.’
There was a sigh. And from the shadows of the room, Theodore Nott emerged, shaking his head at her. It was almost as if he was disappointed, but he had a nasty smirk on his face that said he was clearly proud of himself.
She backed up, mentally kicking herself. As much as she hated to admit it, he was right. She had allowed herself to be led straight into a trap.
‘Theo,’ she said, and somehow her voice didn’t tremble. ‘If I had known you would be here, I would have dressed up. Is the Professor around? Or did you use his office to get me alone?’
‘Oh, I reckon Quincey’s gone off to protect his girlfriend. Or should I say, his wife? He left here in quit a hurry, once he was under the impression that Narcissa was in danger. Of course, by the time he arrives and discovers there was never any danger to begin with, it will be too late,’ Theodore said.
Her breath hitched. Somehow, Theodore had learned the truth. ‘Are you going to hurt me, Theodore?’
He gave a twisted smile. ‘Oh, yes. I think I’ll rather enjoy it, as well. After all, I’ve waited such a long time for this,’ he said.
‘Stupefy!’ Hermione shouted suddenly. Theodore staggered backward, and she ran for the door.
But somehow, Theodore was there before she was, stopping her. He glared at her. ‘Nice try, Mudblood, but you won’t escape,’ he said. ‘And there’s no one here to rescue you, either. Your friends have all abandoned you. And darling Draco has found himself rather sleepy just about now.’
‘You bastard!’ She shouted. ‘Leave Draco alone! You won’t get away with this! I’ll kill you. I’ll kill you!’
‘Really? Death threats? Not what I was expecting from you, darling,’ Theodore said smugly, crossing his arms.
‘Petrificus Totalus!’ She screamed.
Theodore froze. She ran as fast as she could to the door, and tried yanking it open. Unfortunately, it seemed to have locked. ‘Alohomora!’ She cried desperately.
But Nott must have done something more than a simple locking charm, because ‘Alohomora’ didn’t work. The door refused to budge. Tears ran down Hermione’s cheeks.
‘You can thank Quincey for that,’ Theodore said. ‘He’s the one who went and placed a charm on the door so Alohomora won’t work. You can’t unlock that door once it’s been locked. Not without a key.’
‘Let me go!’ She cried. ‘Nott, please. Just let me go. I don’t know what I did to you, but I’m sorry. Just please let me go.’
‘Not a chance, darling,’ he said, smirking at her. He had come closer. Close enough that Hermione was in touching distance. ‘And, for your information, you never did anything to me. Except for the fact that you were born, of course.’
‘What does that have to do with anything?’ She asked, trying to recall a spell that would knock him unconscious. All she needed was a few minutes, just long enough to get to the door so she could use Bombarda, and escape. That’s all she needed.
‘You’re special,’ Theodore said. The way he said the word, though, it sounded like something nasty. ‘My Master has been holding a grudge for a very, very long time. You’re the competition. And my Master doesn’t like competition.’
Sensing that she had him distracted, she seized the opportunity, and punched him. Hard enough that she heard a snap, and Theodore’s nose gushed blood. He howled in pain, and when he pulled his hand back and saw blood, he looked murderous.
‘You bitch!’ Theodore hissed.
He muttered something that sounded like a spell, and suddenly, the world went dark.