Chapter 3 : Chapter 3
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“Not now Hermione, if he does anything suspicious then we can go to Harry. Until then it’s just his word against mine.”
“You’re probably right, Draco. But this really burns my butt.”
“Don’t let it do that, I should imagine it’s a very cute butt. I’ll see you later Hermione.” A blushing Hermione thanked him for lunch.
It was the next morning when Draco burst through her office door. He was breathless and excited, “Come on Hermione we have to see Harry now! Something has happened. Come on!”
In Harry’s office they sat down and Harry handed Draco a sheet of parchment. Hermione looked over his shoulder to read it with him.
The Malfoy child is alive and being well cared for. She will be lovingly raised by our organisation and eventually will take her rightful place at the head of the New Pureblood Movement. Her pedigree is immaculate, even if her father is now a blood traitor.
You will not find her, although you will no doubt waste thousands of man-hours trying. You can, however, assure Mr Malfoy that his child will come to no harm; she is far too valuable for that. That will only change if your Aurors do anything stupid.
You have been warned.
Draco slammed the parchment back onto Harry’s desk, “More damned pureblood nonsense, what do you know about this New Pureblood movement?”
“Nothing,” replied Harry. “It’s the first time I’ve heard of it. I have Ron checking the archives now but so far they haven’t found anything.” Hermione could not stop herself saying,
“I hate to say this Harry but keep an eye on Ron. He made a veiled threat to Draco at lunchtime yesterday.”
“What kind of threat?”
Yes, something about being nice to him and that he could help or hinder the investigation.”
“I see. Well I’ll keep tabs on him.” Harry mentally rejected Hermione’s suggestion, being certain that Ron would not do anything so stupid.
Down in the archives Ron was examining a very old parchment. His eyes lit up and he carefully folded the parchment to a size small enough to fit in the back pocket of his jeans. He slipped on his jacket and left the archive office. As he passed the desk near the entrance the security guard approached him, “Did you find what you were looking for sir?”
“No I’m afraid not. The boss ain’t gonna be too pleased.”
“Not your fault if we haven’t got what you’re looking for, is it?”
“Try telling my boss that.” He thanked the man and left the archive trying to decide what to do about the information he had discovered.
That evening Hermione settled herself in her armchair and picked up her present from Draco. Given its age, she thought, the book was in remarkably good condition. The pages turned easily and she glanced idly through the chapter list. Her eye lighted on a chapter called ‘Blood purity does it matter?’ Turning to that chapter her heart leapt into her mouth. The chapters author was one Montague Mercado. I knew I had seen that name before. It was in my copies of Hogwarts, A History. How could I be so stupid? She started to read.
Two hours later she finished the chapter and was tempted to contact Harry immediately. However it was now very late and she did not want to disturb Harry and Ginny. First thing tomorrow she decided and went to get ready for bed. Draco had moved into the Cauldron on a semi-permanent basis and she hoped he was looking after himself.
Draco, meanwhile, was propping up the bar. He was not drinking heavily but he was drinking, and thinking about his missing daughter. He contemplated a meeting with her abductors; about how he would have to prevent himself from killing them. He would be no use as a father if he was banged up in the new wizarding prison at Hazelwood in Cumbria for the rest of his life. He swallowed the last of his drink, paid his tab and went to bed.
Not standing on ceremony, Hermione entered Harry’s office the next day. She was excited and immediately began to talk. “Harry, I may have something. There is a chapter in Hogwarts, A History titled ‘Blood purity does it matter?”
“Good morning, Hermione, please come in. Now slow down and start again.” Hermione took a deep breath and repeated her statement.
“I’m not seeing the connection Hermione.”
“The author of that chapter is Montague Mercado. So there are two connections, one to the missing woman and one to the note you received. Do you see now? Montague Mercado was a pureblood fanatic.”
Ron entered the room, “Hi Hermione, you here again?” Harry answered before Hermione could blow her top.
“She might have given us a lead Ron, when you searched the archives did you come across the name Montague Mercado?
“No, I didn’t” Ron replied brusquely, thinking about the parchment that was lying in his underwear drawer in his apartment.
“I have to get to work, Harry.” Hermione said, “I’ll see you later.”
“Ok Hermione, I’ll probably see you at the weekend.” Hermione brushed past Ron and felt his body tense. She avoided making eye-contact and hurriedly left the room. There was something about Ron these days that she did not trust. Not in the slightest. She went to the Reference Library and decided to do some investigating of her own.
She hurried through her allocated work for the day and by four o’clock was ready to start her self –imposed research. First she checked through the records of all the requests for access to the archives. The name of Ron Weasley was prominent in the last couple of days. Should she see what Ron had been looking at? She wondered. No, she decided he hadn’t found anything, had he? He had made forty or so applications for various files. Help or hinder? His words came back to her giving her pause.
She began by selecting anything to do with the word ‘pureblood’. While there were a lot of files, books and parchments there were not as many as she had expected. Still it would be enough to keep her busy for several days.
For the next week Hermione would finish her days work and continue the research she had inflicted on herself. The only interruption had been one evening when Harry had approached her. “Ah at last, I thought I might find you here.”
“What’s up Harry?” she asked calmly despite feeling a slight twinge of annoyance.
“It’s Draco. He’s in the cells, drunk as a skunk and totally out of order. Do you think you can calm him down?”
“Why me? Why can’t you just use a sobering charm?”
“I think it’s deeper than that ‘Mione, He is a mess. You helped him before and I thought well…”
“You thought he’d listen to me.” She began to tidy the desk in front of her. “I’ll be there shortly Harry.”
“I’ll wait if you don’t mind, Hermione.”
A guard opened the cell door and Hermione stepped nervously through followed by Harry. A dirty and dishevelled Draco stood by the barred window with his back to them. “Draco, what’s going on?” She asked softly and sucked in a lungful of air when he turned round. He was bleary eyed, unshaven and stinking. There was a scar on his lip and one of his front teeth was missing, his nose was broken and pointing to his left.
“Well, well if it isn’t the big boss Auror and his friend the mudblood.” The scar on Hermione’s arm seemed to flare and burn, a different kind of feeling, anger or disappointment, did the same in her heart. She had never expected to hear that word again. Harry pushed past Hermione and forced Draco back against the wall.
“I know you’re pissed Malfoy but watch your damned mouth.” Draco shrugged him off and spoke again to Hermione. “Nice to see you again after what… it’s been about three weeks, hasn’t it? So much for helping me. All very fine at the start and then nothing for three fucking weeks. Grace has been missing for over a month and you and Pothead here have no more idea where she is than you had at the start. When the fuck are you going to do something? Please for fucks sake DO SOMETHING!” His voice rose to a yell. Hermione lifted her wand and said,
“Soberous.” She watched as Draco collapsed slowly on the cell’s cot. After a few seconds he began to stir and sat up even more slowly than he had collapsed. He looked up at Hermione,
“Soberous?” he asked sounding as if his tongue was three sizes too big for his mouth. She nodded her confirmation. “You seem to have forgotten the bit about the hangover cure.”
“No I didn’t forget it, I just didn’t use it. I think you deserve the headache.” Her knowing grin annoyed him.
“Thanks a bunch, Hermione. That’s really thoughtful of you.”
“You’re welcome, Draco. Now what’s going on? What happened to your nose and tooth?”
He touched his nose, “OWW, fuck that hurts. I seem to remember seeing the pavement approaching at a rate of knots. Must have been when fell I reckon. I think I need to see a medic, Potter.”
“We’ve got one on the way, Malfoy.” Hermione sat down on the rickety chair which was part of the cells furniture.
“I’m disappointed in you Draco. I’m not officially involved in the investigation. So I don’t know what you expect from me. you know I’m always available if you want to talk.” She fiddled with the hem of her skirt before smoothing it down over her knees. “I had thought I had made that clear.”
“Talking won’t find her.” He growled.
“Oh, and getting pissed out of your skull and kissing the pavement will find her, will it? What would Amanda think of you?” She saw a different kind of pain cross his face at the mention of his dead wife.
“That was unnecessary but, point taken, Hermione, I apologise. Can I go Potter, or are you pressing charges?”
“If I see you like this again Draco, I’ll throw the damned book at you. Get a hold of yourself. Now you wait here until you have been checked by the medic and given the all clear. Then you can go.” He turned to Hermione “Thank you for coming, sorry to have troubled you.”
“No problem, Harry. I’ll wait here with Draco if that’s ok; I have more to say to him.”
“Why don’t I like the sound of that?” asked Draco quietly. Harry chuckled to himself as he left the cell.
When they were alone she asked quietly, “What on earth were you thinking Draco, why didn’t you come and talk to me?” he put his head in his hands and stared at the floor.
“I thought you had lost interest when I didn’t hear from you. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone.”
“Right well, that’s not happening again. Sounds to me as though you need a b… a sitter” she had nearly said ‘babysitter’ but had caught herself in time, “so you are coming to stay with me.” his head shot up and flinched at the pain in his nose.
“Oh no I’m not. Firstly I refuse to impose myself on you like that and second I don’t think it would be considered appropriate.”
“Considered appropriate… by whom may I ask?”
“By society, Hermione, especially the likes of Rita Skeeter. She wrote some pretty horrible stuff about you when we were at school, I seem to remember.”
“Yes she did Draco, and I know Rita Skeeter but have you never learned that it’s not who you know, it’s what you’ve got on who you know.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Skeeter hasn’t written anything bad about me or my friends for a long, long time because I know something about her that she would rather was kept under wraps, and she knows that I’m just looking for a reason to blab it all over the media. You’re staying with me and I won’t take no for an answer.” She produced a tissue from her bag and offered it to Draco.
Draco grinned, “Bless you.”
Hermione couldn’t help but laugh. “You idiot, your nose is starting to bleed again.” He winced visibly as he wiped the blood away. The healer arrived and introduced himself to Draco and started work.
“Ouch! You really did a number on your hooter didn’t you?” He commented as he gently probed the bridge of Draco’s nose with his fingers. After a few seconds he stood back and said. “You need to check into St. Mungo’s tonight to get that fixed as quickly as possible. All the underlying cartilage is crushed and damaged and it’s too much of a mess for a simple episkey spell. You may need surgery to put it right.”
Hermione apparated to her cottage after going with Draco to St. Mungo’s where the senior ENT healer had been swift to schedule an operation for the next morning. Draco had been checked in and was put straight to bed. Hermione had made a great fuss of tucking him into the bed which had not improved his mood.
“The operation was a complete success and Mr Malfoy will be able to leave hospital in a couple of days.” The healer replied to Hermione’s enquiry the next day. She went to visit Draco in his room. He was still drowsy but his face looked infinitely better that it had. His nose was straight but still very swollen, with a wad of bandage taped underneath it. His bruised eyes were open and staring right at her. He tried to smile at her but all he could manage was a grimace. She did not stay long and went back to work.
Sitting at the table where she usually worked she picked up the next file. On the outside was a contents list. Item four caught her eye immediately. It read 4: Letter from Montague Mercado to Simeon Black. Dated July 14 1351. Hermione opened the file eagerly and flipped through the contents. Her heart sank when after item 3 came item 5. Item 4 was missing. She looked to see who had been the last person to check out the file. Her heart sank even further when she saw the name Ronald Weasley. Oh no, she thought, he wouldn’t would he? There was no doubt in her mind but that she had to tell Harry. But tell him what? She could not accuse Ron directly because she did not know for sure that he had taken item 4. It was just a suspicion on her part because Ron had examined the file, and the item may have been missing at that time. In fact it could have been missing for centuries for all she knew and Ron could be just a coincidence. She would need to be very careful.
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