Chapter 4

Chapter 4

I grunted at my contact with the floor again, glad I was able to catch myself before my face could slam against the marble. For a moment, I thought he would let me stand, but instead, his boot made contact with my face, and pain erupted through me. I stumbled, feeling what I recognized as blood coming from the busted lip he'd caused. I could feel a bruise forming, too. I braced myself for a second blow, but it never came.

"Get up." I did as he said, wiping the blood from my mouth, but not showing any weakness otherwise. Instead, I focused on my surroundings. It looked like some kind of parlor, with a fireplace and some chairs haphazardly thrown about. Though the room's original intent was to entertain guests, the blood staining the walls and floor told me they were using it for something entirely different. It was a struggle to hold by the need to gag, but I managed, straightening my shoulders and meeting my attacker's gaze.

Something in the back of my mind tugged with familiarity at the sight of him. The man looked to be my age, maybe a year or two older. His hair was black, his eyes, small, and his teeth were horrid. When he smiled, it was more of a snarling, baring of his teeth than anything else. I recoiled slightly, though I tried not to show weakness. My eyes shot to his hands, where he was twirling what I assumed was his wand.

"The great Hermione Granger. You have no idea how hard it was to find you." Again, a smile. He began to circle me, in what I guessed was an attempt at intimidation. Although not as snake-like as Voldemort, he did remind me of one.

"You have me at a disadvantage. You know me, but I don't know you." I crossed my arms, trying to relax. It was then I noticed we were alone – the man that dragged me here must have left soon after putting me here. In the back of my mind, a plan started forming. Wand or not, one-on-one were good odds.

"I'm insulted you don't remember me, Granger." Although he tried to be nonchalant, I could tell he actually was offended. Again, I struggled to remember him. The hatred in his eyes was familiar, that's for sure. And then it hit me. Marcus Flint, a name that floated up from the recesses of my memories from school. I'd hardly ever had any interaction with the man, which would explain why I didn't remember him.

"Marcus. Marcus Flint?" Second-rate Quidditch player at Hogwarts. That's basically all I could recall about him.

"I guess there's some truth to your intelligence after all."

"More than some, I'd say." I shrugged. Something in his face twitched, and he seemed to be getting annoyed with me. Was it because I wasn't scared? "So what do you want, Flint?"

"Revenge. Clearly." He stopped twirling his wand, his grip on the thin piece of wood tightening. He was furious, and something about the way his eyes scanned me sent fear straight through me. He'd never been intimidating in school, that I could remember, anyway.

"What did I ever do to you?" I took a step back, my body working on instinct. Anger flashed in his eyes, and I could see his fist shaking.

"I thought you said you remembered me."

"From school, yeah."

"Think more recently…" More recently? He actually gave me a moment to think, and I tried to remember if I'd seen him or even heard of him more recently. Once again, I was surprised by my own memory.

The man in the center of the room was furious, clearly. The Winzegamot looked down their noses at him from behind me. It didn't take much of a prosecution to convince them of his guilt. He wasn't doing much for himself, either, yelling the usual slurs at me while being carried away. Somewhere, in the background, I registered a familiar figure I couldn't quite place. I'd been told he was the man's son. The younger man looked on as his father was taken away, to be prepared for a lifetime stay in Azkaban as a result of war crimes. His mother soon followed.

"Oh." Another idea started forming, and I suddenly knew how I would be getting out of this. Taking a page out of Malfoy's book, I'd goad him into losing his temper, much like Malfoy did to Ron so many times before. "My apologies Flint. I don't make a habit of remembering low-rate criminals I've put away. Too many names to keep track of, I'm afraid."

He was shaking with fury now, and I couldn't really say I blamed him. I put both his parents away, after all. As the memory of that particular trial started returning, I remembered Flint himself had kept out of the war, and therefore hadn't followed them to Azkaban. Now, though, it looked like he was right behind them. "Mudblood bitch!"

In a flash, he lost it, shooting a spell I didn't recognize my way. Blinded by anger, his aim was off, and I was able to easily jump out of the way. Instead of hitting its mark, the spell hit a window, glass shattering as it shot into the night sky. I ran behind a large arm chair, crouching to gather my bearings and figure out how to take his wand off him.

"You can run all you want mudblood. Before the night's out, you'll be begging me to kill you." His confidence was marred by the fury still in his voice. Taking a deep breath, I concentrated on what I remembered about my surroundings. I'd only ever accomplished wandless magic a handful of times before, and under perfectly calm circumstances. Now, I needed to be as precise as possible, as controlled as possible, if I had any chance of getting out and retrieving my prison mate. Taking a moment to peek around the side of the arm chair, I scanned the room as quickly as I could, for anything I could use as a weapon. Flint shot another spell at me, this time only missing by a hair, but I had what I needed.

"Somehow, I don't think that'll happen." Just the sound of my voice and false confidence was enough to set him off. I pushed myself off the floor and ran to the other side of the room, his spells missing every shot. I focused on a large, withered plant on the mantle of the fireplace that was now behind him. The plant was dead, but the pot was sturdy, apparently stone. Putting everything I had into this one move, I clenched my fist and pulled. For a second, I didn't think it would work, but a moment later, the large ornament was flying full force towards the back of Flint's head, until it made contact with a sickening crash, and his body slammed to the floor, out cold.

I ran over to his body, grabbing his wand and immediately jumping back out of reach again. Although he was already unconscious, I stunned him with the wand, ensuring he wouldn't wake up for a while, before healing the nasty wound I'd caused at the back of his head. He would die otherwise, and I'd rather send him to Azkaban than kill him.

Apparently, there had been someone standing guard outside the parlor, as they rushed in now. I assumed this was the man that had taken me from the cell, and before he could register what happened, I stunned him too. "Stupefy!"

After grabbing his wand, as well, I stopped, listening for footsteps or any sign that someone else had noticed what happened. The halls were unnervingly empty, and I wondered exactly how many people were involved here, or if they were all out trying to find other muggleborns to kidnap. Trying not to think of what Flint's associates might be doing, I decided to contact Harry, conjuring my patronus and sending him a message, before running out into the hallway and trying to find the way back down to the dungeons.

It felt like hours before I finally found the right door. The Lestrange estate was more confusing than Hogwarts, although it wasn't anywhere near the size of even Malfoy Manor. It seemed I'd been on the main floor longer than I thought, and my body had warmed considerably, since now the chill of the dungeons hit me harder than ever. I shivered as my feet touched the stone of the dungeon floor. My footsteps were silent, and I hesitated to speak until I found the correct cell. All of them were empty save for one. When I peeked into what I assumed was the cell I'd been in, I saw him. Although the cell was dark, some moonlight shone in from the window.

Of course, I knew it was him, no matter how hard I hadn't wanted it to be true. His voice was not one I could forget if I wanted to. It still hurt though, the sight of his once silver-blond hair now marred and dirty as he sat on the cot, back to the wall and his head hung low. His clothes, what was once a white button-up and pair of slacks, were dirty, worn out. How long had he been stuck here? Why was he here? Saving my questions for another time, I took a deep breath, mustering what little of my courage was left over to speak.

"Dr-Malfoy? It's me. I came back to get you." His head snapped up at the sound of my voice. Eyes unseeing, his head turned to the door. Although I knew he could actually see, his gaze still burned through me, intense as ever. I ignored what it did to me, focusing on the task at hand.

"You can see?" Of all the things he could have said, he chose that?

"Yes. Alohomora." I opened the cell and walked inside, though I tried to maintain my distance. "Flint thought it was a good idea to take me on alone."

For the first time in longer than I cared to remember, he chuckled, a smirk lighting his features. He stood, and the movement brought us closer than I would have liked, so I took a step back. "So your escape plan worked?"

"Of course it did." An awkward silence descended on us, and I struggled not to feel overwhelmed. Taking on Flint alone and at a disadvantage? Easy. Being alone with Malfoy? Not so much. It seemed he was experiencing similar issues, if the look on his face was anything to go by. "I got his wand and someone else's. Here." I reversed the spell on his eyes and handed him the extra wand.

Once he'd regained his sight, his eyes immediately sought out mine. There was relief in them first, before they took in the rest of my face, darkening at what I assumed was the bruise I now had and the healing lip. His hand immediately came to my skin, his thumb brushing the cut on my lip. The gentleness of his touch was a stark contrast to the fury in his expression. "He did this to you?"

"I'm fine." I pushed his hand away, taking a step back and moving towards the entrance of the cell. "We should go. I sent word to Harry, but I don't know how soon they'll get here, or how much time we have before other Death Eaters notice we're missing."

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