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Chapter 8 : Shocking Discoveries
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Author's Note: I'm sorry for the long wait, but I've been absolutely swamped with school work. The next chapter may take a while for me to get up, so please be patient.
This chapter is sort of a filler. You get more of an idea of what happened and it builds up to the oh so delicious next chapter. You'll understand what I mean after you read it and please, I beg you, don't kill me for the ending.
.: Chapter Eight – Shocking Discoveries :.
Saturday, May 4, 2002
It was one of those nights. If he had any say in the matter he’d be back at home, asleep like any other sane person. Instead he was rostered on for the third night in a row, patrolling the ministry’s deserted halls without incident. It was pathetic really. Maybe he should have applied for extra training, adding another two years on top of the three that was generally required to become an Auror. The Hit Wizards were always on the roll, attacking and capturing criminals everyday. Maybe he should have considered joining them rather than branching off into the Interrogation Division. He had to patrol like any other unspecialised Auror. But when someone was actually brought in, he had the licence and skill to interrogate them.
“Do you understand what I’m telling you, Zabini?” Gawain Robards asked, his voice snapping with impatience. He tried not to outwardly scowl at the man – being the Head of the Department and all – but found it extremely hard.
“Be subtle, I’ve got it,” he ground out as politely as he could. “But I would like to know why there is such a need for delicacy before I agree to anything,” Blaise added as an after thought, inwardly smirking at the tick in his superior’s jaw.
“You will be questioning a child,” the man replied carefully, nodding his head at the two Auror’s waiting nearby – one a replacement for him – before resuming their patrol.
Blaise blinked. “A child?” surely he was joking. There were certain procedures they had to follow, abstaining from questioning a child wherever they could being one of them. Children were…messy. They rarely remembered things objectively, noting their feelings rather than what happened. This was potentially problematic.
“This particular child has to be dealt with carefully, she’s already disposed of Mathews and Carter through a series of violent outbursts,” Robards explained, motioning for him to follow.
“Disposed?” He didn’t like the sound of that.
“Basically she scared the shit out of them, kicking and screaming. She scratched Mathews pretty bad when she went to give her a blanket,” his superior offered, turning a corner while conjuring a file. “This is an overview of what we can gather happened. You might want to talk to Mathews before going into the room. She might be able to give you a better insight into what not to say as she just finished interrogating the father,” Robards inclined his head abruptly and retreated into his office, leaving him alone in the corridor.
“Did someone say my name?” a tall, lean blonde came into view, hair pinned messily atop her head.
“Speak of the devil and she shall appear,” he quipped sarcastically, walking forward to join her in the lounge.
“Miss me, Zabini?” she asked sardonically, throwing him a saucy smile before plopping herself into one of the empty armchairs.
“Not a chance, Mathews,” his reply was easy, a smirk reaching his lips as he looked at her more closely. “You look like shit,” her hair was bedraggled, hastily bunched and knotted. “Were you asleep when they called you in?”
She scowled. “Of course I was bloody well asleep,” her voice rose, shrill with irritation. “It was my night off,”
Blaise whistled low and long, ignoring her glare. “Robards said you interrogated the father, care to tell me anything before I go in there?” he asked, making himself a cup of coffee in the process.
“So, he roped you into questioning the girl then?” she asked, rising from her chair to move and stand beside him.
“It looks that way,” he shrugged, adding a dollop of cream to his coffee. “Want to fill me in on what happened? I’m not particularly in the mood to read another one of Gellard’s longwinded reports,”
“Domestic dispute turned nasty,” she said nonchalantly, reaching for a coffee cup.
“Aren’t all domestic disputes nasty?” he asked, taking a sip of his hot drink before turning to look at her.
“The mother’s in hospital, unconscious but apparently stable. It’s nastier then most,” her hair bobbed to the side, strands falling loose as she shrugged her shoulders. “I talked to the husband but he seems too placid to have intentionally done anything. Besides, it’s not really in his character to do something like this,”
Blaise frowned. “Do you know him or something?”
“Ron Weasley,” she said simply, lifting her eyebrows in emphasis.
“Merlin’s Balls!” he swore under his breath, looking at her disbelievingly. “What the hell happened to make Weasel blow his top?” the question slipped out before he had time to refine his wording, the use of his friend, Draco’s, old nickname for the redhead causing his lips to curl upwards in a smirk.
“Don’t really know yet. He’s too shaken up to answer anything properly which makes me more inclined to believe that this was an accident. But Robards is pushing for a conviction considering the Malfoys were there – ”
“Malfoys!? You mean Lucius, Narcissa and Draco?” he couldn’t believe his ears. His best mate had no reason to be at Ron Weasley’s house – at least he didn’t think he did.
“Are there any other Malfoys you know of?” she retorted, light blue eyes sharp with annoyance. “Besides, Robards has his heart set on convicting them, which was why he pushed me to question Ron Weasley as quickly as he did. Apparently there was a bit of a tussle between Weasley and your friend Draco. But no one really knows why the Malfoys were there,” biting her lower lip, she stirred in the last of her chocolate concoction, deep in thought. “What form does Narcissa Malfoy’s patronus take?”
“A swan…I think,” he answered immediately, brow scrunched in confusion.
Her eyes lit up. “Here,” she shoved the coffee cup into his hand. “She might be more receptive if you have a peace offering to begin with. The poor thing’s pretty shaken up, so take it easy on her. I think that’s where Carter and I went wrong,”
“Mathew’s, where are you goi –”
“Lila,” she cut in, throwing him a quick smile. “How many times do I have to tell you? Call me Lila,” there was something behind her eyes that made him smile. She’d exited so quickly that he couldn’t help but think that she’d discovered something unexpected and quite possibly vital to the case.
Lila Mathews. She was the reason his parents had disowned him. The flirty blonde had been the first person to give him a chance after the war, easily becoming his friend. She was a half-blood and therefore an unacceptable friend according to his mother and father. When it came down to a choice, he’d chosen her over them, his inheritance vanishing along with the rest of his parents’ love. It didn’t matter now. Lila was his friend…potentially something more.
With a heavy sigh, Blaise braced himself, glancing over the file Robards had given him. It was all pretty much the same, only more longwinded than Lila’s quick brief. They’d given the child a small dose of a fatigue restoration potion, which would ensure that for the next hour or so she’d be awake enough to answer their questions. He didn’t particularly like the idea of administering such a potent potion to a child. But there was no use in arguing with his superiors over it now. The deed was done.
Using his elbow to twist the handle, Blaise opened the door, walking inside after a moment’s hesitation. The room was virtually bare, with only a table and two chairs to decorate its already bleak design. No wonder the child was scared, it was hardly a warm, cheery place. Looking around the room, he finally noticed a mop of blonde hair in one of the far corners, crouched down and almost completely hidden in the shadows. He would have to take an informal approach, especially since the child was so young.
After quietly closing the door, he made his way over to the child, uncertain of how to approach her. If she had reacted badly to Lila, then how would she react to him? In order to get what he wanted he had to gain her trust. How he accomplished that remained to be seen. He would have to wing it. Remembering Lila’s earlier advice, he tentatively lowered himself to sit on the cold cement floor, pushing the steaming cup of hot chocolate in front of him. All children liked chocolate, didn’t they?
He was careful not to make any sudden movements. It was important that the child felt comfortable with his presence and he didn’t want to speak too soon, choosing to wait for her to make the first move. After several long moments, a tiny hand reached out to take the cup of hot chocolate. Her figure was still hidden in the shadows, but he could make out a few features here and there. She was a pretty little thing.
“My name’s Rose,” her voice broke the silence without warning, and within seconds she’d shuffled forward and out of the shadows. He was immediately struck by how familiar she looked. But for the life of him, Blaise couldn’t figure out why.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Rose. My name is Blaise,” he replied politely, frowning at how small and frail she looked. “Are you cold, Rose?” she nodded. “Would you like a blanket?” he didn’t hesitate to conjure a pale blue woollen quilt, her nod of affirmation all he needed.
“Thank you,” her voice was meek with exhaustion. Accepting the blanket, she hugged it close to her chest, startling him when tears began to pool in her eyes.
Fidgeting uncomfortably, Blaise tried to figure out what to do next. He wasn’t good with tears. “Uh – Rose, don’t cry,” as soon as the words left his mouth, he inwardly cursed himself for being so stupid. Because telling her not to cry is really going to work, he thought cynically. Accompanying the tears was now a quivering bottom lip.
“Why can’t I see my mummy?” Rose asked, sniffing tearfully. “The mean man said I couldn’t see my mummy,” her hands fisted against the blanket. “Why?” for the second time that night, she startled him. There was such a stubborn, demanding look in her eyes. He was sure he’d seen that expression before.
“I’m not sure, Rose,” he answered, inwardly cursing Carter for being such an idiot. “But I promise you I’ll take you to see your mother if you can answer a few questions for me?”
“Okay,” she answered slowly, an expectant look on her face.
“Can you tell me what happened to your mother?” it was probably one of the hardest questions to ask her, but he had to start somewhere.
Nibbling on her bottom lip, Rose stared up at him sadly, her large hazel-brown eyes filled with unshed tears. “They – They was yelling,” she said carefully.
“Who was yelling?”
“Mummy and daddy,” she answered plainly, sniffing away her tears. “They was fighting about me…” her voice trailed off.
“I’m sure it wasn’t your fault,” he reassured her, reaching out tentatively to pat her arm. “Can you tell me what happened next?”
She nodded. “Mummy told me to goes up to my room…but I didn’t. I – I hid on the stairs. Daddy was very, very scary and he was yelling at mummy,” her hands were moving around animatedly as she retold the story. “Daddy said something and mummy yelled back…I think she saids “I thought she was yours” or something likes that. I don’t really know,” Rose frowned in contemplation.
She doesn’t look like a Weasley, he thought suddenly. Blonde hair, hazel-brown eyes; her features were slightly pointed and completely unlike the rounded features of her father. If he is her father? Perhaps that was what they had been fighting about, Rose’s parentage. It would certainly make sense.
“Then mummy said somethings and I thought she had an ouchie, so I went down the stairs. Mummy always kisses my ouchies better,” she said matter-of-factly, drawing his attention back to her. “Daddy saw me and mummy fell…she wouldn’t wakes up,” her bottom lip began to quiver again, and before he could say or do anything, she was crying uncontrollably.
“Ros – ”
“The nice man said she would wakes up,” she wailed. “He prom-iss-ed!”
Nice man? There was still the matter of the Malfoys. Could Draco be this ‘nice man’ she was referring to?
“The nice man?” he asked, prompting her to continue. If he could just keep her talking, then hopefully she’d let slip something that could help Draco and his family. From what he could gather, they hadn’t been in the wrong…for once.
“H-he was very, very nice. And thens there was a lady – she was nice too! He called her Sis – Sisseh – Sissa…I think,” Rose hiccuped, rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand.
She couldn’t mean Lucius, could she? The thought alone was unfathomable, but at the same time it made perfect sense…sort of. Draco certainly wouldn’t call his mother Cissa, and considering that was Lucius’ nickname for his wife, it had to have been him. Why would Lucius console a child? And why would he console a Weasley, at that? But was she really a Weasley? Rose had said her parents had been fighting about her, hadn’t she? There was also the matter of what her mother had yelled. “I thought she was yours.” He was missing something.
“This nice man, was his name by any chance Lucius?”
Her eyes lit up and she nodded her head vehemently. The puzzle was getting stranger by the minute. He knew there was something he was missing, something important. What was more, he knew that he knew what it was. Blonde hair. Pointed features. The Malfoys. Rose. Blaise shook his head – it wasn’t possible.
“Rose, were the Mal – did the nice man and his wife say anything in particular?” he looked at her carefully this time, scrutinizing every feature.
“They asked if I was okay,” her face was scrunched up in concentration as she tried to remember. “And the lady saids I was beaut-i-ful…I don’t really remembers,”
It was there, but only for a second. An expression he’d seen so many times, he wondered how he hadn’t noticed it before. Of course he didn’t want to believe it. But as he went over all the facts in his head, he had to admit that it was the perfect explanation. Rose was roughly four years-old by his guess, which meant…
“Rose, can you tell me when your birthday is, please?”
“Sep-tem-bah 1,” she replied, counting the syllables on her hand as she pronounced the word.
Shit. That would mean – if his theory was correct that was – that Draco and Granger would have had have been together…The Battle of Hogwarts. What was it his father had said? Tardiness. He’d ranted about how Lucius had never taught his son proper manners, or how to be punctual. Double shit. Draco had been late, arriving seconds before the battle was about to begin.
“Can I see my mummy now?” Rose asked suddenly, staring up at him with clouded eyes.
Blaise gulped, standing up awkwardly. “Yeah, kiddo,” she took his hand easily. “I’ll take you to see your mum. But she’s a bit tired, so you have to be careful not to wake her. Okay?”
And after I’m done doing that, I’m going to have a nice long chat with Draco.
.: 3 Days Later :.
It hurt. Her whole body felt like lead, every muscle aching with a defined stillness. Hermione didn’t understand what was going on. The last thing she remembered was falling, her little girl’s terrified scream resounding throughout the room. After that, there was nothing. She faintly remembered hearing a deep voice trying to calm Rose, but it could have been her imagination. There was just so much she didn’t understand. Ron had been so upset, but the moment she’d told him he was hurting her, he let go. He would never hurt her. It didn’t matter how angry or upset he was, Ron Weasley was not a violent man, and he would never strike another in anger. But if that was true, then why did she hurt like this? If it was true, why had Rose been screaming?
Panicked, Hermione tried to sit up, the crisp bed sheets scratching uncomfortably against her skin. There was something wrong about the feel of them, something inexplicably clinical. It faintly reminded her of…St Mugos! Blinking rapidly, Hermione tried to adjust to the sudden onslaught of bright light. Her arms ached from the effort, but she gritted her teeth against the pain and forced herself into a sitting position. She definitely wasn’t at home.
“Rose,” she called out, voice hoarse from being unused. Hermione imagined that if she ever swallowed sandpaper, this would be the sensation that followed. “Ros –”
“Hush now, dear,” a soothing voice drowned out her scratchy plea. “Yer in St Mungos. Had a nasty bump teh the head yeh did. Now, drink this up and yeh’ll be better in no time,” Hermione felt a vial being pushed against her mouth, the woman’s Irish lilt calming her initial panic.
Drinking the vial’s icy contents, she immediately felt the muscles in her arms and legs begin to relax. After a few moments, Hermione opened her eyes fully and looked around the room, searching for the woman who’d soothed her pain. She wanted to know what had happened and the easiest way to do that was to ask questions. Hopefully this woman could answer them.
“I see the potion has taken affect,” Hermione looked up to see a small darkhaired witch enter the room. At seeing her expression, the woman continued. “I jus’ had teh pop outside for a bit and talk teh one o’ the interns. I’m Healer Finnigan by the way, and I’ve been lookin’ after yeh for the past three days. It’s good teh see yeh awake, dear,” the woman smiled as she scanned over her file, moving to stand beside the bed.
Three days? Had she been out that long? Who had been taking care of Rose?
“Finnigan?” instead of asking the obvious questions, her curiosity got the better of her.
“Aye, yeh went teh school with me lil’ brother didn’ yeh?” she replied easily, plucking a blue ballpoint pen from behind her ear, making a note on her chart. “Funny lil’ things, these are. The hospital board’s makin’ us use ‘em yeh know? More efficient they say,” the woman shook her head, glancing abhorrently at the muggle pen. “But I s’pose beggars can’t be choosers,”
Smiling politely at the woman, Hermione tried to get into a more comfortable position, wincing as her head began to ache. “Do you know where my daughter is?” grimacing again, she reached up to touch the back of her head.
“The lil’ blonde lass impatiently stompin’ around outside yeh mean?” Healer Finnigan offered laughingly. “Aye, last time I saw she went teh get an ice-cream. She should be back soon though. I have teh say, she’s a cute lil’ thing if I ev’r saw one. This should help with yer head,” she said comfortingly, holding out what looked to be a very unappealing green sludge like potion.
Looking disdainfully at the potion, Hermione pinched the end of her nose and gulped down its contents. “I don’t suppose you could tell me what happened, Healer Finnigan?” she grimaced, trying not to splutter at the horrible aftertaste in her mouth. Regardless of the taste, the pain began to ease.
“Had a nasty fall yeh did. Them Aurors been sniffin’ about waitin’ for yeh teh wake up and tell ‘em what happened, but I s’pose it’s their job. Wouldn’ mind givin’ ‘em a piece o’ me mind, mind yeh,” by the scornful look on the other woman’s face, she could tell that something had upset the healer more than she was letting on. “Call me Charlie, by the way. It’s actually Charlotte, but only me m’am calls me that.”
“But why would the Aurors’ be interested in what happened, it was an accident?” she asked thoughtfully, smiling in appreciation as Charlie propped another pillow behind her back.
“Aye, but they don’ know that, do they? Been thinkin’ it was intentional an all with yer husband clammin’ up and yer little girl supplyin’ the rest o’ the story. Couldn’ be sure, but I think they’ve been waitin’ for yeh to wake up an tell ‘em yer side o’ the story before convictin’ him,” the darkhaired witch offered with a shrug of her shoulders.
“But it was an accident! They can’t convict him for something he didn’t intentionally set out to do…” she exclaimed, voice trailing off. “It was my fault really,”
She was beginning to seriously question whether she’d made the right decision or not. So much had happened in the wake of her confession that she couldn’t help but wonder if it had all been worth it. Ron was Merlin knows where, being accused of a crime he didn’t commit and Rose had apparently been subjected to the whole thing. The Aurors had questioned her little girl, which meant that Rose had to have been present when they’d arrived at the scene. It was then that Hermione realised Rose hadn’t gone to bed like she’d been told to. Rose was never one to play by the rules.
“Well, yeh best be tellin’ them that when they come by,” Charlie said in a soothing voice. “We healers’ are a very nosy bunch. Hear more then we should tha’s for sure and often come teh the wron’ conclusions we do – when it comes teh gossip tha’ is,” she joked, trying to cheer her up. “I’ll jus’ go and see if I can find yer Rosie for yeh, shall I?”
“Please,” Hermione nodded, offering a small smile to her companion. “And thank you for everything you’ve done,”
“Yeh should be thankin’ the Malfoys yeh know. They saved yer life,” Charlie said casually, not noticing the horrified expression on her face. “And they’ve been ev’r so good with lil’ Rosie, ‘specially the youngest one,”
Hermione barely noticed as Charlie exited the room, a cold dread seeping into her bones. They’d saved her life…and they knew about Rose. Her night couldn’t get any worse.
“Hello, Granger,” the icy drawl caused her to wince.
Spoke too soon.
Looking up warily, her eyes landed on an oddly calm Draco Malfoy leaning against the doorframe of her room, blocking any and all escape routes. Not that I have the energy to make a run for it, she thought sourly. Hermione knew better than to judge a situation just by looking at its surface. Draco Malfoy may have looked the epitome of a calm, uninterested man. But she could tell…he was pissed.
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