"In other words, if they're consistent, they should be coming for me soon." The thought made me colder, and I hugged myself, rubbing my arms to retain as much warmth as I could. Leaning back against the wall, I tried to measure how much time we might have left.
"Yes. But I doubt you'll be able to get their wands from them. They usually come in pairs, never alone." His voice was dejected, defeated.
"It sounds like you've tried this before."
"You're not the only one with a brain, Granger." Granger. The name echoed in my head, in a voice I didn't want to believe belonged to the person sitting next to me. "However, that was my second escape attempt, the one that forced them to blind me and put me down here."
"Where were you being kept before?"
"Upstairs somewhere." Silence hung between us for a moment, until I realized what he'd said about being blind.
"Wait – you weren't blinded when they captured you?" I couldn't help the excitement that bubbled in my voice. "So did you see who did it? Could you recognize where this is?"
"Yeah. Not that it matters unless we get out." Again, the defeat in his voice was undeniable. It seemed out of place in him. "It's the Lestrange estate."
The image of Bellatrix Lestrange flashed through my mind as I lay on the floor, writhing in pain, at her mercy. I knew she was dead, had been there to see Molly obliterate her, but my fear didn't process that information. My entire body began to shake, and I knew my companion could feel it. At my side, he shifted, letting me take the cloak completely. Maybe he thought I was cold. After taking a moment to collect myself, I spoke, "Well, since you've already tried to overpower the guards, I doubt they think you'll try again. Besides, we're both blind."
"You're right. It would take a miracle for us to overpower anyone."
"Your positivity is really helping." I rolled my eyes, though I knew he couldn't see them. Trying to overpower the guards would end in failure, though. On that, he was completely right.
"I try." Again, with the feeble attempts at humor. I ignored him, allowing my mind to continue reeling, hopeful I'd come up with a solution.
"Well, what if I let them take me?" I could feel the tension in the air at my suggestion.
"How is that an escape plan?"
"They'll probably give me my sight back before killing me, won't they? Something tells me they would want me to see it. With my eyesight back, I might have a fighting chance, and then I'd come back for you." I couldn't help the hope in my voice. It was plausible. Not likely, but possible enough.
We didn't have much time to discuss it further, as my companion was cut short from whatever he was about to say by the sound of metal somewhere on the other side of the door. A moment later, footsteps echoed towards us, and apprehension started building inside me. His arm came around me on the bed, grip tightening protectively as the door opened. Whoever was there didn't say anything, simply grabbing me by the arm, ripping me from my prison mate's grip. I heard a scuffle, and it sounded as if the guard shoved the man back into the cot. "Pathetic."
I didn't recognize the new voice, but I didn't need to. The venom in his one word was enough to tell me I had nothing good to look forward to. The door to the cell slammed behind us as he dragged me along.
"Where are you taking me?" I struggled, or pretended to, trying to pull my arm from the death grip.
"Shut up, mudblood." The insult didn't hurt, not like it used to, when it came from one person in particular…
"Why are you helping me, mudblood?" Malfoy's scowl seemed permanently etched into his face as he stared at me from across the table, arms crossed as he leaned back in his chair. Despite the scowl, and the hurtful intention of the slur, his voice didn't hold the usual venom.
I looked up from the paperwork, the various testimonies for and against the Malfoys strewn all over the table. His father was beyond my help, but he and his mother could still go free, and they would, if I had anything to say about it. Annoyed at Malfoy's lack of cooperation, I sighed, putting the papers down and assuming a similar position to his. "Because, Malfoy, as terrible a person as you are, you're still innocent. You were just a kid, doing what you did out of fear, and you're not fooling me into thinking otherwise. Prejudices aside, you wouldn't hurt anyone, not even me."
"Besides, your mother saved Harry's life. Harry does not let debts like that go unpaid." He'd asked me to take on the Malfoy case for that particular reason, as he didn't really care for Malfoy himself. He was only concerned with repaying Narcissa's mercy. At the mention of his mother, Malfoy stiffened, his jaw setting in what I imagined was a combination of anger and annoyance. "Do you think she'd be able to go on if she had to alone?"
"You could have given someone else the case. There are plenty of lawyers." He was right. I was granted my pick of the cases that came in, and I always favored those involved with magical creatures, and Harry would have understood if I'd refused. Still, I couldn't help but want this particular one, if only to prove a point.
"You're right. Just be grateful I didn't, or you'd be on your way to a cozy cell in Azkaban right now…" I stopped myself from saying anything more, hearing the clicking of heels on marble coming our way. Entering the kitchen, Narcissa looked exhausted. The regality of her features was diminishing as a result of the war, and it saddened me somewhat to see what used to be a beautiful flower wither so quickly. I returned her kind smile as she took her place between us at the table, eying the paperwork with dread.
After a moment, she spoke, "Would you like some tea, Ms. Granger? I'm sure Draco hasn't even thought to offer you some…"
"Thank you, Mrs. Malfoy; that would be lovely."
I was shaken from the memory with a violent shove from the guard. Distracted, I fell over myself and landed on all fours. The floor was cold, though not nearly as bad as the one in the prison cell. Smoother, too, reminding me of the floors at Malfoy Manor. My hands roamed the area immediately around me, but there was nothing, until someone's heavy boot kicked against my hand. I recoiled, shocked at the contact.
"The great Hermione Granger, reduced to a quivering mess." It wasn't until he mentioned it that I realized I was still shaking. Another voice I didn't recognize, I struggled to come up with an image.
"If I'm such a quivering mess, why not stop being a coward and show yourself?" I did my best to be defiant, despite my obvious helplessness. Inside, I was counting on my goading to force him to give me my sight back. Without warning, he was right in front of me, grabbing me back the back of my head and pulling me up. A second later light blinded my eyes, the burning sensation almost enough to make me pass out. The room wasn't even that well lit, and it shouldn't have taken so long for my eyes to adjust. The man threw me back down, but this time I saw it coming, able to catch myself, though not entirely gracefully.