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Chapter 15 : Of An Abduction and Infection
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Hermione stood in the middle of the common room, her dance tights on beneath her shorts and tee. She reached up and pulled the hair from her face, securing it with a tie behind her head. She took a deep breath as she turned to face the window on the other side of the room.
It was daybreak. The sun was just rising over the edge of the mountains, but she could not sleep. She hadn’t slept at all last night. She had found herself tossing and turning. The sheets kept twisting about her legs and midriff; constricting her. The pillow kept lumping up and choking her; cramping her neck. And then to add to all the turbulent emotions she was experiencing; Ginny snored. Even down here in the common room she could hear the light and airy snore erupting from her friend who dozed blissfully unawares up in Hermione’s room.
Hermione took a deep breath and turned away from the window. She didn’t know why she was doing this. She didn’t see why she bothered. Dance had left her. She had given up on it so it had given up on her. Could you use lose talent? If you ignored it did it get taken away and given to someone else? Someone who deserved it?
She sighed and closed her eyes. 1...2...3. She breathed deeply and planted her feet firmly beneath her. 1...2...3. Another deep breath. She curved her arms in an arch and slowly raised them before her as she exhaled. 1...2...3. Deep breath. She extended her left leg and traced a semi circle on the floor before her, allowing her arms to fall slowly in an arch to the opposite side. 1...2...3. She stepped forward, her upper half bending backwards in a slow fluid movement. She stepped to the side, her right arm trailing behind her as if dancing on a slight breeze. 1...2...3. The dance was a slow waltz. In her mind she could hear the lilting tune of a music box she had had as a child. Just a simple dance, yet she found a tear falling from her closed eye lid and making it’s way down her cheek as she turned again. 1...2...3. Three steps to the left, three to the right. Her arm extended behind her, then swept past her and then above her head. She turned, making her way around the room, humming the music box’s song to herself as she twirled. 1...2...3. Her arms swept above her head and then separated, pushing out to the side. Always there was that base step: 1...2...3.
She allowed her body to give into to the music entirely. She let her mind drift away from the confusion she felt. She let it breathe on its own. She stopped thinking and just did what she had ached to do for so long now; she danced. She really and truly danced. She didn’t worry what she looked like. She didn’t think about her mother, or her father. She thought of nothing.
She made a second sweep around the room and found her dance suddenly changing. Suddenly she was dancing around an imaginary partner, swaying like the breeze towards each other but never fully touching. His hands briefly graced her waist and she spun away, coming back to nothing but the emptiness of the air around her.
Her leg arched backwards off of the floor and she turned, her arms arching over her head. The music in her mind began to wind down and she came to a final resting position, her arms bent delicately to the side, and one foot extended behind her. Her eyes stayed closed.
“Wow,” interrupted her violently.
She jumped, startled, and reached back to pull her hair out of its binding. “Ginny,” she said in embarrassment.
“You can dance,” Ginny breathed. She was sitting on the staircase, her hand on her chest as if she was struggling to breath. “You can really dance.”
Hermione reached down and rolled the tights up so they were hidden by her shorts. She said nothing.
“This entire year you’ve been at the bottom of our class, and yet, you can dance like that,” Ginny stood and made her way down the staircase. “Did he teach you that?”
Hermione went to the window and cracked it open. It was uncomfortably warm in the room. “I suppose you could say he did.”
“Suppose? Did he teach you that dance?”
“No,” she admitted softly. “He just taught me that it was alright to do it.”
Ginny sighed and settled on the back of the couch so that she was still facing her friend. “I don’t understand,” she admitted.
“I gave up dancing,” Hermione said. “I gave it up a long time ago and he showed me that it was safe to come back to it. He’s taught me that I need to dance what I feel, and in doing so I can find what’s missing in here,” she put a hand to her heart. “When I stopped dancing, something abandoned me in here. I don’t know what it was, and I don’t think he even knows he showed me all of that, but since he started tutoring me I feel closer and closer to finding it again.”
Ginny stared at her, unblinking. “That is so romantic,” she said slowly.
Hermione whipped around. Romantic? As in tender and loving? As in the one thing she didn’t dare associate with their relationship? “Hardly,” she said, not entirely sure if she was assuring herself or Ginny. “It’s his job. He has no choice but to instruct me.”
Ginny crossed her arms, a frown coming over her face. “Please, Hermione. Even if you are going to lie to me, don’t lie to yourself. There’s something going on with the two of you.” She caught her friend’s hand and pulled her to the couch, forcing her to take the seat next to her. “Tell me what has happened between the two of you. Has he kissed he you?”
“Yes,” she said. “One night in tutoring; after I failed the arabesque exam. He was so angry with me he threw me into this tango I couldn’t do and ripped me from one side of the studio to the next and then threw me into a dip and kissed me.”
Ginny sighed. “And has he ever held you?”
Hermione fidgeted uncomfortably in her seat. “One night I ran out of the studio and he followed me all the way back here and into the loo. I told him about my father and he held me as I cried.”
Ginny was shocked. “You told him about your father? He held you in the loo?”
“And then one night after that I was having a nightmare and I woke up screaming and he was there in my room and he held me then too. That time he fell asleep there-”
“DRACO MALFOY FELL ASLEEP IN YOUR BED?!” Ginny cried in horror.
Hermione cringed. “Good Merlin, when you say it like that it sounds so horrid.”
“I think I need more air,” Ginny said as she ran towards the window Hermione had cracked earlier and threw it open completely. Snow drifted over the window ledge and into the room, but Ginny didn’t care. “I can’t believe this.”
“He hasn’t kissed me since that night,” Hermione said as she stood up and went towards her friend. “But every day I find myself thinking about him and agonizing over him and the worst part of all of this is,” she took a deep breath and met Ginny’s eyes, “I miss him. I know it hurts all of my friends and I know it’s wrong in every way possible and it’s not like me at all, but I miss him so much it hurts and I can’t sleep. It’s tearing me up inside. I don’t understand it at all.”
Ginny smiled. “I think you love him,” she said.
Hermione looked out the window. “Do I?” she asked.
Ginny took her hands. “Hermione, I don’t think you’re asking the right question.”
“What is the right question?” she asked her redheaded friend.
Ginny sighed. “You shouldn’t be asking if you love him. You should be asking can you love him.”
When Draco awoke the next morning, at first he didn’t know where he was. The hangings on the wall were familiar. The bed sheets were familiar. Even the clothes draped across the chair next to this bed were familiar. But the air was foreign. The scent about him was entirely foreign. He refused to sit up, just stared at the ceiling above his bed for a few minutes as he pondered this. Then it hit him; her shampoo. Hermione took a shower every morning and he would wake up, every morning, to the scent of her shampoo. The air here was stale. He groaned, pushing a hand to his forehead as he sat up.
“About time you opened your eyes,” a voice said from his left.
He jumped out of the bed and had his wand in his hand in a second. The man on the other side of the bed laughed, his three chins wobbling on his chest. “What are you doing in here?” he demanded.
Gustave smiled at him, an utterly repulsive grin filled with yellow and decaying teeth. “Who is “Hermione”?” he asked. “You talk about her a lot in your sleep.”
Draco brandished his wand. “Get out of my room,” he said through grit teeth.
Gustave laughed again. “Lower your wand little boy. I’m not here to have a morning duel. Why, I haven’t even had my second breakfast yet.”
Draco’s brow arched as he thought to himself, Second? Why does that not surprise me? The big tub of lard with legs is sitting in my room. “What do you want?” he asked, slightly lowering his wand.
Gustave regarded him for a moment. “I wanted a proper look at you,” he said vaguely.
“You got your look. Now get out.”
Gustave shook his head, oily hair bouncing on his forehead. “I’m not finished yet.”
“Finish quickly,” Draco pocketed his wand and pulled a shirt from the chair behind him, sliding it over his head.
“You’re Father doesn’t like you very much, does he?” Gustave asked.
“It’s a mutual feeling,” Draco retorted.
Gustave made a noise of interest. “I have heard that you are not a philanthropist, but I wasn‘t entirely prepared for such a cold demeanor, I must admit.”
“I am a Malfoy,” the boy replied. “We are not known for our loving and joyous interiors.”
Gustave laughed. “You are much more amusing than your father, however. I tire of his company.”
“Why are you here?”
“I told you, I wanted to get a good look at you.”
“No. Why are you here in my house?” Draco was still standing stiff on the opposing side of the bed. His wand was gripped tightly in his hand. This man had an aura of danger that emanated off him in waves.
Gustave smiled again. “Ah, that is the question, is it not? My question for you is what would you do to find out?”
Draco snorted and pocketed his wand. “I am not that interested in you,” he informed him.
Gustave rose to his feet, a mountain in the room. Draco crossed his arms against his chest and leaned against the metal bedpost. “I like you, Draco Malfoy,” Gustave nodded in approval. “But you’re not in a position to be so forthright,” his voice turned dark and his presence suddenly filled the room. Draco felt suffocated. “I hold your future in the palm of my hand, boy, and you don’t even know it.” Draco snorted, daring him to step closer. Gustave’s presence settled and the air lightened. He smiled. “Your father demands to see you,” he said politely. “I’m sure he has missed his only child and wishes to catch up on things.” Gustave made his way to the door. “Remember, young Malfoy,” his voice drifted to Draco as he opened the door and made to leave. “You are a Malfoy. You are but a playing piece in a very large game.” And with that he was gone.
With frustration Draco kicked the edge of his bed. Bloody Hell how had that overgrown mushroom gotten into his suite? He ran his hands through his hair. His father wanted to see him. He had no choice but to go. Today he would devote to finding out what was going on in this house and then he would catch the first train back to Hogwarts. The back of his mind added a small ‘and Hermione’ to the end of his sentence and he kicked the bedpost again.
In his study, Lucius Malfoy was eating his breakfast before a roaring fire when his son entered without even knocking. “A fat hippogrif appeared in my bedroom this morning and said you wanted to see me,” he said.
Lucius gestured coldly to the seat across from him. “Sit down, my son.”
Draco made his way to the table, but did not sit in the chair. “What did you want to see me about?”
Lucius cut a piece off of the chunk of meat on his plate and regarded it coolly. “Your mother has been causing me many headaches these last few months.” He said it conversationally. As if it was the same as stating the weather was very warm.
“If you weren’t so cruel to her then-”
“A woman needs a firm hand,” he informed his son as he put the meat in his mouth. “She needs to be taught discipline.”
Draco’s mind strayed to Hermione. He pictured her in his mother’s shoes and his stomach contracted. “Have no worries, Father. I will be leaving very soon.”
“That is good to know,” the man smiled. “Do you see that vial there on the desk?” he asked. Draco turned. “Take it.”
Draco reached forward and picked up the vial, turning the glass this way and that in order to examine the fluid green contents. “What is it?” he asked.
Lucius ignored the question. “Gustave is a man of many talents. He never attended a wizard school, so his powers were never honed as society expects of all wizards. They are rather…rampant.” Lucius speared what looked like a hard boiled egg with his fork. “He attended a muggle school where he received the knowledge that he is using to assist me in our…business adventure.”
“I truly could care less,” Draco informed him as he lowered the hand clasping the vial to his side.
Lucius’s eyes strayed to that hand and he continued. “Your mother has been locked in her apartments. If you wish to see her you will have to request my permission.”
“You cannot cage her like an animal,” Draco said, anger in his voice.
“She has been snooping about this house and attempting to interfere in my affairs. I can do whatever I wish.”
“You cannot make everyone around you comply with your every whim,” Draco informed him. He was getting angrier.
“Ah, but I can,” Lucius said as he took a sharp dagger to the meat left on his plate. “It is about time for you to initiate, Son.”
Draco would do no such thing. “I have no desire to be a part of your scheming.”
Lucius laughed. Draco did not see the irony. He was already wrapped so tightly in his father’s scheming and he could not see it, never mind escape it. “You will initiate into the ranks of the Dark Lord. You have no choice.”
“I have every choice!” he yelled, his fists clenching tightly. “I am not your puppet!” He didn’t realize the glass in his hands was so fragile until the force of his contracting fists caused the glass to shatter and drive the shards deep into his hand. He yelled in pain, grasping his wrist. The glass pieces stuck out of his palm like mountains out of a valley. The green liquid had already absorbed into his skin as he ripped a napkin off of his father’s table and held it beneath his hand to catch the blood.
Lucius smiled at him. “You will be a part of it, Draco,” he said. “You will be the center of it all.”
Draco left the room, anger dripping off of him. The pain in his hand was almost unbearable and whatever had been in that vial stung greatly. He made his way to his mother’s apartments without even realizing it.
He tried to open the door, but as his father had said, it was locked. At that moment a small house elf was making it’s way down the hall. He fumbled for a moment as he tried to recall the name that went with the face. “L-Lacy?” he asked.
Lacy bobbed a curtsy and looked at his hand, shock on her face. “Lacy see Master is bleeding!”
“Open this door, Lacy,” he demanded as he cringed. His hand was twitching and each contraction caused the glass to bite deeper into his palm.
“Yes, Master!” Lacy cried as she raised her hand to the door. “Lacy open the door!” The door swung open and he strode in, slamming it behind him. “Lacy get bandages to clean it! Lacy be right there!” he heard the creature scuttle off down the hallway.
He stood in the center of his mother’s parlor for a moment, completely unaware of what to do. He was seventeen. What was he doing in his mother’s room? Just because he had gotten a scratch? Was he running to Mum? At seventeen?
Before he could change his mind and retreat his mother came running out of her room, her hair trailing down her back and a night robe tied around her. “Draco!” she cried as she saw the blood soaked napkin. “Dear Merlin what has happened?” Lacy tottered in behind her mistress with a tray full of anesthetics and wrapping.
“Just an accident, Mother,” he said as she pushed him into a seat and took the napkin from his hand.
“This is glass!” she cried as she picked up a pair of tweezers. “Why is there glass in your hand?”
“It was just an accident,” he said again.
Narcissa knelt before her child and picked all of the glass from his hand with the small pieces of metal. Her touch was cold and gentle, and it shocked Draco. This was not how his childhood had been. If this had happened but a year ago his mother would have been too involved in some party for purebloods or her hair to sit here and pick glass out of his palm. Things were changing in his house and he wasn’t sure how he felt about it.
“There,” Narcissa proclaimed as she secured a white piece of bandage around his hand. “That should staunch the bleeding and keep it clean so it doesn’t get infected. We will have to change it later as I’m sure when the bleeding stops it will nearly have bled through.”
Draco was silent for a moment as he regarded the crisp whiteness on his hand. He tried to flex his fingers but found the tugging on his palm was painful. He met his mother’s eyes. “Thank you,” he said softly.
She smiled softly as she stood. “You’re welcome, Draco.”
“Mother,” he said as she turned to walk away. “I think I need to return to Hogwarts.”
Her expression fell. “You’ve talked to your father? You don’t think he’s up to something?”
“I know he is,” Draco said as he stood. “Which is why I must leave. I spoke to him this morning and it sounds as if whatever he is planning he wants me to join him.”
Narcissa’s face went white. “Draco, please-”
“I won’t join him, Mother.”
“He is your father you can’t-”
“I will not initiate as a Death Eater.”
Narcissa sighed and sat down. “Are you sure you are making the right decision? Leaving?”
“I can think of no other way to ensure he cannot use me as a pawn in whatever twisted game he is playing.”
Narcissa sighed. “I understand,” she said. “But we are all pawns, my dear one. We are all pawns in this game. We all belong to the Dark Lord, even you.”
“I belong to no one,” he said vehemently. “I have yet to decide at all if I will initiate into His service. But right now I want nothing more than to go back to school. I think you are safe here, Mother. Else wise I would not leave.” Narcissa turned her face from her child. “I know you love him, Mother. I don’t understand it, but I know it. I don’t think he is worthy of it, but I know it is there. I know it hurts you. I know he hurts you. But I know you love him even through it all.”
“He is Lucius,” she said. “He is my husband.” It was her explanation for everything. It wasn’t pure love. It wasn’t clean and it wasn’t white in goodness. It was a tainted love. Twisted and masochistic. It was painful. It was black, but it was all she had.
“Goodbye, Mother,” Draco said as he kissed her forehead.
“Goodbye, my son,” she said softly.
“I spoke to your son this morning.”
“Was he as pleasant to you as he was to me?” Lucius drawled as he flipped through the pages of the book before him.
“The entire conversation was at wand point,” Gustave laughed. “How did it go this morning?”
Lucius smiled. “I gave him the vial and I goaded him until he let his emotions get the better of him. The vial shattered in his hand. He is infected.”
“A vial shattered in your hand a few nights ago,” Gustave reminded him. “You are infected as well.”
“Bloody good that does us,” Lucius growled. “I don’t interact with-” he paused and snarled, “-muggle borns.”
“Your son is nothing like you, you know,” Gustave said. “He fights back.”
Lucius looked up coldly at his business partner. “What is it you mean by that?”
Gustave seemed unperturbed by the threat in Lucius’s voice. “Your son will come after you when he realizes what you have done. I don’t see the power to be in the Dark Lord’s service in him. He likes leading far too much.”
Lucius settled back in his chair, slamming his book shut as he did. “Draco was a spineless coward when he left for school this year. He’s been a coward all his life. I don’t understand this sudden steel rod that is laced through his being.”
Gustave smiled and reached for the grapes that sat decorously on the side table. “I think perhaps I have an idea.”
Lucius raised an eyebrow, clearly conveying he was listening.
“When I met with your child this morning he was dreaming.”
“You’re trying my patience, Gustave.”
“He was having a nightmare I believe, judging by the thrashing and the name he kept mumbling. It all sounded rather painful.” He popped a grape in his mouth.
Lucius frowned. “What name?”
Gustave smiled. “I think you have a definitive way to spread our creation.”
“I swear to Merlin if you don’t start speaking sense I will Crucio you out of this room,” Lucius stood, his hands pounding onto the desk.
Gustave took a moment to analyze the grape he held and put it in his mouth before turning is eyes intently to Lucius. “The name,” he said slowly, “was Hermione.”
Lucius froze. His lip twitched ever so slightly on the right side. He could hardly form words. “W-what did you say?”
“A girl’s name; Hermione,” Gustave laughed as he squeezed a grape too hard and the seeds spit out across the floor.
Lucius walked calmly to the shelf next to his desk and stood before it for a moment before reaching up and pulling the entire shelf down on the floor. Books scattered with a loud roar.
Gustave chuckled as he pulled the vine skeleton out of the bowl. “I take it you are familiar with this name,” he laughed.
“She’s a muggle born. She’s a piece of filth not nearly clean enough to walk past my son, never mind him dream about her.” Lucius stopped. “He was dreaming about her.” He let that thought settle as he thought of every hex he knew. He was envisioning placing them on that idiotic brat of his. A Malfoy dreaming about a mudblood!
A house elf who had heard the commotion came running into the room and Lucius whipped out his wand, sending the tiny creature flying backwards into the wall with a startled squeak. “That jumped up teenager has stood by Harry Potter’s side for seven years, thwarting many of my attempts to serve the Dark Lord to the fullest.”
“Perhaps you may not need to worry about her much longer,” Gustave noted.
Lucius stopped. “I refuse to believe it. I refuse to believe my son is somehow involved with her.” He turned to the fireplace, watching the flames dance, he said; “But if it is true, she would be the perfect candidate, and if he does have-” he snarled, “-feelings towards the mudblood, he deserves punishment.”
Gustave sat up. “I know where you’re going, but she’s in Hogwarts Lucius. She’s impossible to get to.”
“It’s the Christmas holidays, Gustave,” Lucius said lowly as his mind formulated the final touches to his abduction plan. He turned to a portrait of a bent old woman to his left. “Go to your portrait in Hogwarts. Find out if Hermione Granger is in the school for the holidays.” He turned back to the fireplace as the frame emptied. Gustave thrummed his fingers on the side table as they waited. A few moments later there was a squeaky voice from the portrait.
“Barney the Blathering say she is in the Head’s Common room this instant. The castle is mostly empty.” The woman bowed.
“We’ll take her while the school is empty,” Lucius hissed. “We’ll bring her here to the manor and we’ll make my son regret every thought that was in his head that night.”
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