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Chapter 10 : Göndul
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Oh this is soooo overdue haha. This one is also kind of short, but I'm already half way through the next one so it will be along pretty soon. Reviews are love!
“… Eliza Williams is at the scene of the tragedy. Lesley?”
The reporters kept their distance. Despite an all-clear having been given by the British gas board, no-one was too eager to get close to the rubble and debris that was once a street - a gas leak powerful enough to eviscerate thirty houses was not something to be toyed with just for a news story. Eliza Williams was at the very edge of the cracked tarmac; ashes blowing about her heels. “Alan, the mood in central London today is one of disaster. The police estimate that the gas explosion has claimed the lives of up to twenty four people, with sixteen badly injured - and that’s just the first few buildings.” she recited, looking solemnly into the camera. “All I can tell you is that I have been on the scene since ten minutes after the police arrived and I haven’t seen one citizen of this street get out of the rubble and walk away…”
Lucas’s home appeared to have been at the centre of the gas explosion. The walls had crumbled, leaving the skeletal framework charred and collapsing and layering the street floor with six feet of ashes. Beneath them, Lucas himself was nothing more than blackened and disintegrating bones, crushed and unrecognisable. Logic dictated that the explosion should have swept away any remnants of his person, but at the time he had been in the outhouse gathering coal for a fire, and rather than being instantly eviscerated he was left to the mercy of the flames.
Twenty feet away from him, two other figures lay trapped beneath the rubble. Despite both being very dead, their corpses were surprisingly intact considering that they had both been inches from the core of the explosion.
The street stank of death. Bodies were hauled out of the mess and deposited at the side of the road, covered respectfully with sheets and towels while the ambulances arrived to take them away. Inexplicably, ravens had started to gather in the middle of the road. They ignored the abandoned bodies in favour of shuffling through the ashes, cawing loudly whenever any of the police or fireman stepped too close in their search for survivors.
Beneath their claws, seventy dead bodies lay waiting to be unearthed. And then one of them twitched.
Her name was Hermione.
Max Becker passed out the second the street exploded, his eyes fading to white and blood rolling out of his nose. At the time he was halfway between the basement and the kitchen, and so when he fell he was alone.
(Two storeys above him in a large bathtub, Cassiopeia opened her eyes)
Eventually it was Pansy who found him, tripping over his body and cursing like a sailor. After damning him to hell a few times she stooped and lifted him, hauling his limp form into the library where his cousin would undoubtedly be buried in some book. Becker met her at the doorway. “What happened?”
“How the fuck should I-”
“He’s seeing something big,” Draco mumbled, cutting her off and shoving her aside. “This is bad. Someone needs to wake him up.”
Max twitched in his cousin’s arms, mumbling something. Becker and Draco leaned closer to him. “What is it, Max?” the latter murmured. “What can you see?”
Pansy realised that she should have seen it coming. Something this big; why in the hell would it be anyone other than that stupid frizzy-haired mudblood?! When did anyone else ever cause this much drama? When Max managed to spit out Hermione’s name, Pansy was already out of the door and vanishing into the gardens, content to remove herself from whatever situation her housemates were about to get dragged into. Blaise watched her with dark eyes.
(Cassiopeia smiled. She enjoyed irony, and she could see what had just happened in central London)
“Blaise, come with me. Becker stay here with Max.” Draco commanded, folding his wings away and already jogging for the front door. “Cast a disillusionment spell on yourself before we apparate. Something tells me that we don’t want to be all too visible when we reappear.” he continued to Blaise. The urgency of Max’s message implied that they didn’t have the time to apparate to somewhere hidden and then make their way through muggles going about their daily business. Instead, they would make themselves invisible and then apparate straight into Hermione’s Uncle’s living room.
Hopefully not landing on anyone.
They reached the greenhouse and skidded to a halt, turning to face each other. “What are you expecting to find?” Blaise asked, wand out.
“I don’t know. But be ready for anything, and if shit goes down either Max or Cass will make sure someone comes in after us.” Draco cast a disillusionment charm on himself and stood, braced, ready to disapparate. “Let’s go find out what the hell is going on.”
Then they vanished.
And re-appeared in a state of extreme confusion. For a long moment, Draco thought he had apparated to the wrong place - he had been visualising Hermione’s Uncle’s house so vividly when he closed his eyes… and yet when he opened them, he was standing knee-deep in ash and surrounded by the ruins of… he didn’t know what.
He heard the faint thud of Blaise appearing beside him. A few feet away, a muggle police officer looked their way, frowning, and then returned to striding through the wasteland. Blaise exhaled in shock. “Where the hell are we?” he breathed. “Is this the right street?”
Draco looked around. Muggle officials were patrolling the mess; on the edge of the broad circle of destruction, more town houses stood charred but steady. A thick crowd of morbidly-fascinated Londoners had gathered at either end of the road. Before he could open his mouth to speculate on the likelihood of them having the right street, another gentle thump sounded from behind them and a set of footprints appeared in the dust.
“It’s me,” Zoey’s voice murmured, sounding strained. “I came from Cass. This is the right street, Draco… the muggles are calling it a gas explosion, they think a pipe burst or something like that. Cass says that this was Ava.”
“What about Hermione?” Draco hissed.
Thump. “You sound like you give a shit.”
“Pansy. We need these muggles out of the way.” Draco whispered as yet another police officer strayed close to them and looked their way. “A distraction, if you please.”
There was an irritated pause while Pansy weighed out her desire to get this over and done with against her desire to be completely and utterly unhelpful. Muttering under her breath, she stormed away from them. They watched the trail of ash she kicked up as she strode fifty feet away, to the end of the street closest to the crowd. Then, seeming to come out of nowhere, another section of road exploded in a ball of orange fire, scattering the muggles in a wave of screaming and pushing.
“Cass said to follow the ravens.” Zoey offered, against a backdrop of sirens and screaming muggles. “They’re crowding around something over there…”
Draco was already heading through the rubble as fast as he could, stepping over exposed rebars and chunks of concrete. At one point his foot sank into something soft, but he didn’t look down. The rest of the group followed him.
The ravens were pecking around the rubble over what had once been Lucas’ living room. They stood immobile at the approach of the witches and wizards, staring up at the sky through dark, glassy eyes - Draco didn’t fool himself for a moment into thinking that they didn’t know he was there. He stepped carefully around them, coming to a stop in the middle of the room.
Then he saw the hand.
It was whole - bruised, covered in dust, but whole. Considering that this was the area of the street most damaged by the explosion, finding a fleshed limb seemed near impossible; Draco crouched down and started picking chunks of building away from it. He had soon uncovered a whole arm.
“It’s not Hermione.” Zoey said, over his shoulder. “It’s too old.”
Draco continued carefully pulling debris off the body, aided by someone else (he assumed it was Blaise), until they finally hauled a whole section of wall away from a head. It was Hermione’s mother. Draco frowned. She was whole. She was barely marred. She was…
“Alive.” he breathed. “Shit, she’s alive!”
He stepped over her rising and falling chest to help Blaise uncover the rest of her. When they finally used their wands to relocate a small pile of bricks and plaster off her other arm, they both froze and stared down at it. Four battered fingers, and a thumb with blood lining the outside of the nail, were folded securely around Hermione’s mother’s forearm, in a grip tight enough to turn the knuckles white.
She was grazed and burned and bruised and bloody (Draco was already half way through tearing the rubble away) and covered in a thick layer of dust and ashes, but Hermione Granger, by some unexplainable phenomenon… was alive.
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