For everything a reason
Draco scurried out of his bed and rubbed the sleep off his eyes. He yawned as he walked straight to his private loo. He took a quick shower and brushed his teeth; he exited his room and padded straight towards the Grand staircase. He was about to descend when he noticed his cousin passing by. "Good Morning."
Luci threw him a dirty look and ignored him fully.
He was confused by her uncanny reaction so he trailed behind her, "Someone's not friendly this morning," he teased.
"Hmp," Luci huffed and continued her pace.
"What's gotten into you?"
Luci ignored him and kept walking.
He grabbed her arm to stop her, "Are you mad at me?"
Luci rounded on him, her face pretty face contorted with annoyance, "I definitely am!"
He let his hand drop, "What did I do this time? I don't remember doing anything that might upset you."
"You're really thick, no?"
He only quirked an inquiring brow as a response.
Luci stomped her feet like a petulant child, "You promised me that you'll introduce me to Theo last night, but you didn't!"
Their earlier conversation before dinner crossed his mind, "Oh."
Luci's eyes narrowed into slits as she spun on her heel, "You're such an arse!" she harrumphed.
"I'm sorry! Please don't be mad at me, sweetheart - I promise I'll make it up to you."
He hurried his steps and pulled a chair for her, "He'll be visiting again soon, I'll make sure that I'll leave you two alone so you can get to know each other, I promise."
Luci sat down, "You promise?"
He took the seat next to her and offered a reconciliatory smile, "You like him that much?"
"What gave you that idea?" Luci lifted her chin snottily and started stirring milk into her coffee.
He grabbed a scone and began spreading marmalade on top of it, "You seldom get mad at me."
Luci wrapped her dainty hands around her cup, "Am I that obvious?"
He chuckled again, "No, I just know you too well."
Luci nodded and threw him a coy smile, "Any plans for today?" she asked, changing the topic.
He wiped the crumbs off his lips and leaned back on his chair, "None in particular, but I'm thinking of asking Hermione out, I'm just not sure if she's free today."
Luci beamed, "I want to meet her!"
"But you already know her, you met her last week, remember?"
"I want to meet her as your cousin and not as your pretend girlfriend."
He thought for awhile and nodded, "Okay, as long as you keep your head in check, I won't mind setting it up."
"I always have my head in check!"
"I was just joking! I'll check with her later and ask her if she's amenable to meet."
Luci reached forward and patted his shoulder, "Do that, I'm tired of pretending to be your pseudo-girlfriend. Plus I want to meet her; I want to be able to shake the hands of the woman who made you grovel."
"Ha! Malfoy's don't grovel."
Luci made a show of rolling her eyes, "And I'm not half-French," she said with heavy sarcasm.
Hermione was jerked out of her daydream when the fireplace burst into life, "Ginny?"
"Who else are you expecting? Merlin?" Ginny joked as she stepped out of grate.
"Ha ha, very funny," she grumbled.
Ginny shrugged off the remnants of soot from her clothes, her nose wrinkled in disgust. "I should've apparated, I really loathe flooing!" she whined.
She snapped her book shut and stood up; "Want something to drink to take off the edge before we start our mini interrogation?" she called out as she padded towards her kitchen.
Ginny trailed behind her and perched herself on one of the high chairs near the breakfast bar, "You're still buckets of laugh, I'm crying out of laughter here."
She stopped right in front of her fridge and opened it, "I have pumpkin juice, tea-"
"Do you have one of those brown fizzy Muggle drinks?" Ginny interjected.
She leaned forward and grabbed two cans of soda, "Yep," she replied.
She closed the fridge and walked towards the counter. She placed the can right in front Ginny before popping hers open, "Drink up."
Ginny opened the can and took a sip, "Taste better than pumpkin juice, why don't we have this here?"
"Because of bigotry, what else?" she replied wryly.
Ginny burst into fits of giggles, "Bigotry, I haven't heard that word in a while," she mused. She then folded her arms on top of the counter and stared at her, "So…."
She feigned ignorance, "So what?"
"Out with it, what happened?" Ginny huffed impatiently.
She shook her head, "Nothing much happened, we just went to McDonalds."
Ginny's eyes widened with interest; "Isn't that a Muggle fast food chain near Leakey?"
"One and only," she replied. She took another sip of soda before pulling one of the chairs, she sat down and copied Ginny's pose. "I was shocked when he told me he wanted to go there, he was Pureblood after all."
"Not all Pureblood is as bigot as Dray," Ginny teased while wiggling her brows.
Ginny grinned, "Wow, a couple dates and you're starting to defend him, he must be doing things right."
She felt her cheeks burn, "Oh lay off of it!"
"Okay, fine," Ginny conceded. "Since you don't want to talk about your beau, let's get back on topic, did you sort things out with Blaise?"
She took another sip of her drink, "Yes, and surprisingly, I did not need to say much. He pretty much knows everything."
Ginny furrowed her brows, "What do you mean?"
"He already knows that I already made up mind."
Ginny smiled, albeit sadly, "Blaise is catch, if the circumstances had been different, he would've made you happy."
She folded her arms on top of the counter and rested her chin on top of it, "I know, he is a good man and I'm having a hard time forgiving myself for hurting him the way I did," she said sullenly.
"Hey, I was just saying - I didn't mean to make you feel bad, I'm sorry."
She shook her head, "Yeah."
"I love him, but not the way he wanted me to. He is my friend and I just," she cut herself off and let out sigh.
Ginny reached for her arm and gave it a soft squeeze, "We can't force our heart to love someone, just like we can't our breath."
She shifted and buried her face between her arms, "Argh!"
"Don't blame yourself too much; I'm sure Blaise knows that you didn't mean to hurt him."
She turned her face to the side, "Do you think so?"
Ginny squeezed her arm again, "I know so."
"He also asked me a favor."
"Favor? What sort?"
She rolled her eyes, "It's a very childish favor, he asked me not to tell Dray yet."
"He wants payback, he was not impressed that Dray kept them in the dark about our relationship - they're best friends."
Ginny burst into fits of giggles, "Slytherin to the core."
"When will we start our plan, Master?"
The hooded figure stood in front of the window and smiled, "Today."
"I'm in here, Mum," Draco called out, his eyes still fixed on the documents he's reading.
Narcissa entered his office, "Aren't you suppose to be in your shop?"
He signed his name on the dotted line before lifting his gaze, "Are you getting tired of me already?" he teased.
"Of course not, I'm just confused as to why you're not tending to your shop," Narcissa replied as she took her seat on the chair right in front his desk.
"I don't feel like going in today," he said with shrug. He stacked the folders together before leaning back on his seat, "I hired competent people to run the shop, I'm confident they'll be able to handle it for a day."
Narcissa smiled, "When will you let me meet her?"
"Don't play dumb with me; you know I'm talking about Ms. Granger."
He threw his hands up in the air and huffed, "I don't have privacy in this house, I really should move out."
"Invite her over, if not, I'll do the inviting myself," Narcissa said. She stood up from her perch and started making her way back to the door, "I'll leave you to your work."
Emotions flooded his chest at his Mum's easy acceptance of the woman he was in love with. "Mum?"
Narcissa paused to look at him, "Yes?"
"You haven't forgotten that Hermione is Muggleborn, right?"
"I haven't and I also know that she's Harry Potter's best friend."
He swallowed thickly, "And you're okay with that?"
"As long as she makes you happy, I'm good with that," Narcissa replied. "And besides, blood purity is just hodge-podge, I regret that we have to learn that in the hard way," she added with a sad smile.
Before he could think, he's already on his feet and walking towards his Mum. He wrapped his arms around her dainty figure and hugged her tightly, "Thank you," he whispered.
Narcissa hugged him back, "You are always welcome, my little dragon, always."
R . I . N . G . . . R . I . N . G . . .
Hermione plucked the phone from the receiver, "Hello?"
"Hermione, its Draco, are you free today?"
The corner of her lips arched up, "Good morning to you too."
"It is, now that I've heard your voice."
"Laying it thick, no?" she chuckled. She shifted on her seat and made herself comfortable, "About your question, yes, I'm free, why?"
"I want to take you out for lunch."
"How about I meet you at Hogsmeade?"
"You're not picking me up?"
"You know I want to, but I don't think I can. I'm on my way to work."
"So, what time should we meet?"
She checked her watch, "Is 1 o'clock alright? I still need to finish some chores."
"That will be perfect; I'll meet you there then?"
"Don't be late, I've got a big surprise for you that I'm sure you'll love."
Her interest was piqued, "Surprise? What kind?"
"You'll just have to wait and see."
"Okay then, I'll see you later."
"Everything is ready, Master."
The hooded figure let out a maniacal cackle, "Brilliant, now it's my turn."
Draco was stuffing the documents inside his leather bag when the floo burst into flames. He turned his head towards the fireplace and was surprised to see Hermione stepping out of the hearth, "Well, look what the kneazle dragged in," he said playfully.
Hermione threw him a seductive smile, "Hi handsome, miss me?"
Her smile and words threw him off guard, but he paid it no mind. He rounded the table and made his way towards her, "You know I've missed you, beautiful," he replied as he pulled her into a quick hug. He planted a kiss on her curly head before pulling a fraction, "It's not that I'm not happy with your surprise visit, but what are you doing here? No work?"
Hermione placed her hand on his chest before moving it towards his neck, "I have work, but I wanted to drop by before my day gets busy, I hope you don't mind," she purred.
He felt his brows rose with her bold move, "I - err - of course not," he stuttered. He cleared his throat and took a step back, "Uhm, did something happen, Mi? You don't seem to be you're normal self…"
Hermione let out a chuckle, "I'm peachy, nothing's wrong," she replied. She then slowly trailed her hand down, her pointer finger tracing his chest, "I'm thinking, I want alone time with you."
He caught her wondering hand with his and laced their fingers together, "Alone time?"
She pressed herself to his front and stood on her tiptoes to reach his ear, "Yes, just you and me, Drake, don't you think it's about time?" she whispered.
Alarm bells rang inside his ear upon hearing the familiar nickname, but again, he ignored it. He swallowed the lump inside his throat and let out a shaky breath, "N - now?"
"Later, at Hogsmeade," Hermione replied as she righted her stance.
"How about quarter past 6? I still have tons of books to read."
He furrowed his brows, "Don't you think that's late?"
Hermione boldly dropped her gaze to his belt, "Let's just say that I fancy a little tryst in the dark."
He felt his eyes widen in shock, "I - err…" he snapped his mouth close when he can't think of an intelligible response.
She stood on her tiptoes again to kiss his lips, "I'll see you at 6, lover boy, don't be late," she winked before strolling towards the fireplace.
He felt his jaw drop as he watched her disappear from the green flames, "What the bloody hell was that?"
Hermione was fixing her cloak when the clock chimed 1; she hastily grabbed her purse and dissapparated with loud crack. She appeared in Hogsmeade within seconds and righted her clothes; she pasted a big smile on her face and began walking aimlessly towards the snowy streets. "Damn! I forgot to ask Dray where to meet him," she mumbled.
She turned around and saw a familiar figure walking towards her, "Hey, what are you doing here?"
"Just popping by for a quick shopping, how about you?"
She adjusted the strap of her bag on her shoulder, "I'm here to meet someone for a late lunch."
"Oh I see, where are you supposed to meet?"
"Actually, I'm not quite sure," she paused and checked the streets for Draco. "I forgot to ask where," she added with a chuckle.
"That's a bummer."
"I know, right?"
"Since you're not yet sure where to meet, why don't we go to Florence and sit for awhile? We'll able to see the streets there and you'll be easily spotted."
She thought about the suggestion and nodded, "That's a good idea, hold on, let's see if I could reach him," she replied as she pulled her mobile phone from her pocket.
"I didn't know those things work here."
"It does, just not in close proximity of magic," she replied as she thumbed through her phone book for Draco's new mobile number.
She pressed the phone to her ear and waited for the line to connect. When she didn't get any answer, she opted to leave a voicemail. "Dray, it's me. I forgot to ask you where we're supposed to meet. I'll be at Florence with a friend; I'll wait for you there. See you in a few, bye."
"He's not answering?"
She pulled her phone away and slipped it back into her pocket, "Nope, but I left him a message, he'll be there."
"Great, shall we?"
"Lets," she replied. She was confused with the direction they were taking, but she didn't stop. When her friend walked right into an abandoned alley, she stopped and braced her hands on her waist, "Where are we going? I thought we're heading to Florence?"
S I L E N C E
She furrowed her brows and took a step closer. She placed her arm on her friend's shoulder, "Hey, didn't you hear me?"
Her friend turned her face towards her, her features contorted with a sinister smile. "Portus."
Before she could react, she felt the familiar tug on her navel and heard a familiar crack.
"Well this is a pleasant surprise," Draco drawled.
Blaise entered his office and stood right in front of his desk, "What are you up to today?"
"Just pushing papers, why?"
"Have you seen Theo?" Blaise asked as he plopped down on one of the chairs.
He cocked his head to the side, "Knott? No, why?"
"We're supposed to go out flying, but the wanker stood me up."
He leaned forward and braced her elbows on his desk, "I'm free, I could go with you," he offered.
Blaise seemed to perk up with his unexpected olive branch, "Yeah?"
"Yeah, where do you usually fly?"
"It's my turn today; we're supposed to fly by the woods behind the Manor."
He nodded, "We can go."
Blaise stood up from his seat and grinned, "Great, we can go now."
He also stood up from his seat and flicked his wrist to summon his gears, "Lead the way."
Hermione felt herself being dragged inside a large room and being thrown to the floor. She landed with a loud thud that made her arm throb with pain. She quickly scrambled to her feet and backed herself towards the nearest wall. "Who are you? What do you want?"
"Still feisty after all these years, aren't you, Mudblood!?"
She balled her hands into fists, ignoring the fear that's churning inside her stomach. "W - who are you? What do you want from me?"
"The person who will make you pay, Crucio."
Her training during the war kicked in, making her leap to her left, landing on her knees. She felt pain shoot up her hip, but she scrawled towards the nearest loveseat to use as a shield.
Loud maniacal laughter erupted from her captor's mouth, "Do you think you can hide behind that stupid furniture? Incendio!"
Large flames burst, almost scalding her back. She scampered away from the burning couch and tried to stand up, but she staggered on her feet when pain shot through her knees. She managed to gather her bearings and began backing away, "Why are you doing this?" she said through gritted teeth.
The perpetrator took a step forward, "Do you have an idea how long I've waited for this, Mudblood? How much hardship I endured seeing you polluting the place where you do not belong?"
Tears roll down her cheeks, but she held her ground; "I belong to this world whether you like it or not! I maybe born of Muggle heritage, but the magic that runs through my vein is real! You don't have the right to spout such stupidity when you can't even show your face!" she spat.
"It's the truth! You judge me because of my blood, but you hide behind that stupid cloak! You're a bloody coward!"
Her whole body turned taut as the familiar sensation of being stabbed with hundreds needles assaulted her. She felt her breath leave her chest as she dropped down to her knees, "S - stop it, please," she cried.
"Keep your mouth shut! I don't want to hear anything that comes from your filthy mouth! You will die tonight and your blood traitor lover will be next!"
"Bugger!" Draco hissed when he caught sight of the time.
Blaise raised his brow, "What?"
He snatched his wand from his back pocket and started accio-ing his gear, "I'm late!"
"Late for what?"
"I'm supposed to meet Hermione at the Hogsmeade!"
"I should be there by 6; we haven't even talked about where to meet!"
Blaise took a sip from his glass, "Relax, it's just quarter past 5, you'll make it."
"I hope so," he replied. He then brisk walked towards the fireplace and grabbed a handful of floo, "Bye, Blaise, thanks for the game," he called out.
"No problem, have fun!"
He stepped into the grate and threw the powder at his feet, "Malfoy Manor!"
"Is it dead?"
"Not yet, but she will be."
"The blood traitor is already on his way, I should go."
"Go on, it's time for phase two."
Hermione remained prostate on the floor, "Oh Merlin, please - not Draco…" she prayed.
Draco appeared in the alley beside Honeydukes and straightened his cloak. He stepped out in the street and began searching for Hermione's familiar face among the throngs of people. When he didn't see her, he decided to go to her familiar haunt, the newly opened bookstore near Florence.
He stopped and turned his face towards the voice, "Yes?"
The blonde woman smiled at him, "My name is Katie and I'm Ms. Granger's secretary."
"Oh, I remember, Hermione mentioned you before," he replied with a smile. "What can I help you with?"
Kate pulled her bag to her front, "She actually sent me here to meet you; she wants me to give you something."
His brows furrowed in confusion, "Really? We're supposed to meet here at 6; do you know where she is?"
"She got called for an emergency meeting in the Ministry, so she sent me to inform you that she will be late and to give you something," Katie explained.
He let out relieved sigh, "Okay, that's good to know; I thought I was running late."
Katie pulled out a folded piece of parchment from her bag, "Here it is," she said. She propped the paper towards him, "I don't mean to be rude, but I really can't stay long, I'm needed somewhere, here take it."
He accepted the parchment and thumbed the seal open, "It's okay, thanks for giving this to me, have a good night," he said with a smile. He was about to turn around when he felt a hand on his arm, "Did you forget-"
The recognizable sensation of being sucked into a tube pulled at his navel, "What the bloody hell?"
Draco landed on his feet and hastily drew his wand.
He felt the wand slipped through his fingers, "Fuck!" he thought. He kept his face impassive and took a step back, "Who are you and where is Hermione?"
Katie stuffed his wand inside her pocket, "I already told you who I am, so would you do me a favor and just shut up?" she spat.
"I'm not asking you again, where did you take her?"
"Don't you dare call her that! She's more than what you'll ever be!" he sneered.
Katie threw her head back and laughed, "That is, if she's alive," she taunted.
He felt his heart drop to his stomach, tiny shards of ice prickling his veins. "You're lying," he snarled. He balled his hands into tight fists and made an imposing step forward, "You're lying!" he shouted.
Katie held him at wand point, "T - take another step and I won't hesitate blasting your head off."
He noticed the tell-tale shake in her voice so he knew he she was all talk. He took another step, his vision clouded with a red haze of rage.
Katie took a step back, "Incarcerous!" she yelped.
Ropes appeared out of thin air and started coiling around his body, "Where did you take her? What do you want from us?" he demanded.
"I don't answer to you, but since you look pathetic, I'll humor you," Katie said as she lowered her wand to her side.
He subtly flicked his wrist and almost instantly he felt the rope loosen, "Why are you doing this?"
"Someone wants to settle a score with your Mudblood girlfriend, you just happen to be a bonus," Katie replied dryly. "And for the record, I have nothing against you or Hermione; I just needed the money that comes with this job."
"But you already have a bloody job; you work for the Ministry for Merlin's sake!"
"The measly pay? Oh please!" Katie scoffed. She folded her arms on top of her chest and narrowed her eyes into slits, "And for your information, I only took the job at the stupid Ministry to get close to her, I have no use for the meager pay."
He tugged the rope close this hand, "It doesn't make sense - you're not making any sense," he spat.
Katie shrugged, "It's doesn't have to make sense," she said. She then spun on her heels and began making her way towards the door, "I'll be off my way then, bye."
He pushed through the ropes and felt the bond break. He charged towards Katie, not caring if she's a woman.
"Get off me!" Katie yelled in panic.
He wrapped his arms around her and tackled her to the ground, "Wrong move," he sneered. He pried the wand out of her hand and leapt back to his feet. He pointed it towards her prostate form, "Expelliarmus!" he shouted. His wand zoomed towards him and caught it with his other hand. He pocketed the other and pointed his towards Katie, "Incarcerous!"
"How? When?" Katie rasped out, her eyes wide with fear.
"You underestimate me, Katie. I did not survive the war and served the Dark Lord for nothing," he sneered.
Katie struggled with the restraints, "How did you escape? You were bounded!" she cried.
He threw her a disgusted look, "I don't have time for this, where is Hermione?"
"I don't know where she is," Katie gulped.
"I don't think I heard you correctly, but did you just say that you don't know where she is?" he asked while twirling his wand.
"I swear to Merlin, I don't know where she took her!"
He moved closer and dug his wand to her neck, "Her? Who are you working for?"
Katie shook her head, tears spilling down her cheeks, "I can't - she'll kill me!" she cried.
"And you think I won't?" he bellowed.
"You won't kill me, you love her too much to taint your hands with my blood," Katie sputtered. "And she won't forgive you!"
He dug his wand deeper, "Who says she'll have to know?" he asked with an intimidating smirk. He shot up from his perch and started tapping his wand on his arm, "Don't test me, Katie, because you don't know me. You don't know what a Malfoy is capable of," he sneered.
Katie tried her best to sit up, but without her hands, it's futile. "I'm not going to tell you, because I don't bloody know where she took your Mudblood!"
He felt his blood boil upon hearing the loathsome slang. He pointed the wand towards her frail form, his whole body taut with the hostility he's trying to rein. "I'm not going to repeat myself about that word. It's either you tell me where she is or I'll find ways to extract it from you, what's it going to be?"
Katie clamped her mouth shut and threw him a defiant look.
He shrugged his shoulders, "Torture then," he said with nonchalance. He gripped his wand tighter and shifted on his feet, "Don't forget I gave you an option, Merlin, I hate using unforgivables - Cru-"
"Stop! I'll - I'll tell you where she is, please, stop!" Katie cried.
He kept his wand leveled at her face, "So soon? I haven't started yet."
Katie curled on her side and shook her head, "Please - don't use that on me, I'll tell you –- I'll tell you everything I know!" she sobbed.
"Tell me something first, is she still safe as we speak?"
Katie sniffed, "Yes - she hasn't contacted me yet. We have a plan - Hermione is still alive."
He felt the knot in his chest loosen. He sent a silent prayer and lowered his wand, "Good. Now start from the beginning and make it quick - I need to find her."
Harry felt a sinking feeling inside his stomach, but he can't understand why. He folded his arms on top of his chest and began pacing like a caged animal.
He heard his wife calling, but he blatantly ignored her.
"Potter!" Ginny shrieked. "I swear to Merlin, if you don't stop that, I will hex your arse to next Sunday!"
His head snapped to his left and saw Ginny glaring at him, "Huh - what?" he asked distractedly.
She rounded the couch and sat down, "Come here, you're making me dizzy." She patted the space beside her, "Did something happen?"
He walked towards her and sat down, "No, but I don't feel right," he admitted. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, "I can feel it in my gut, Gin, something is wrong, but I don't know what it is."
She placed her hand on his back, "Have you tried checking in with Ron?"
"I did, everything is fine," he sighed.
"Then it's nothing."
He willed his body to relax, "You're right, it's probably my over-reactive brain," he conceded. He then turned his head to the side to look at Ginny's face, his brows crinkling with confusion. "Aren't supposed to meet, Mi, today?"
Ginny rolled her eyes, "I was, but then Dray called this morning and begged her to have lunch with him. I'm quite sure those two are still together, making up for lost time and all."
"We're still talking about the same bouncing ferret, right? A begging Malfoy doesn't sound right."
"Nothing is impossible with true love," she sighed dreamily.
"I can't argue with that," he smiled. He leaned back on his seat and tugged her to his chest, "Care to show me how this true love works? I feel left out," he asked while wiggling his brows suggestively.
Ginny's smile turned sultry. She toed off her shoes and climbed on his lap, straddling him. She braced her hands on his shoulders, "Does this work for you, Mr. Potter? Do you still feel left out?"
He slipped his hand to her front and cupped her neck to pull her face closer, "Not even close," he whispered before claiming her lips.
She pressed her body closer and started responding to the kiss.
He nipped her bottom lip before scattering kisses along her cheek down to the column of her neck. He was about to unbutton her top when he caught glimpse of the green flames erupting from the fireplace, "W - hat the?"
Ginny let out squeak as she scurried off his lap. She turned towards the direction he's looking, "Dray?"
Draco bolted out of the fireplace, his face contorted with pain, "She's got Hermione - Potter, you need to help me find her!" he screamed frantically.
He shot out of the couch, "Who's got Hermione? What are you talking about?"
"She will kill her - we've got to find her!"
Ginny jumped of her seat and padded towards Draco. She grabbed his arm and forced him to look at her, "Draco calm down, who's got Hermione?"
Draco's knees buckled and he fell on his knees. He buried his face into his palms and let out a anguished scream.
Ginny dropped down beside him, "Draco, you have to pull it together, who has her?"
"G - greengrass," Draco managed to choke out.
"Daphne? Daphne Greengrass?" he asked.
"No - Astoria."
He started pacing, "I haven't heard about her in years - where the bloody hell did she come from?"
Draco seemed to pull himself together, "I don't know, I -"
He was about to open his mouth to fire more questions, but then he noticed the confused look on his wife's face. "Gin?"
She met his gaze, "We have to find her soon - Hermione is in danger."
"What are you talking about?" he asked.
Ginny stood up, "Astoria - she's insane."
"She is! She kidnapped the woman I love!"
Ginny wrapped her arms around her midsection, dread evident on her face. "Astoria Greengrass was one of our patients in the Spell Damage Ward-" she paused to clear her throat. "She was unstable and very violent-"
Draco shot up to his feet, "They why the fuck did St. Mungos discharge her?" he thundered.
Ginny leveled her stare on Draco, "They didn't, she escaped and was never found," she replied gravely.
"Why didn't the Auror Department heard about this?" he found himself asking.
"The other Healers tried to report it because she's dangerous, but the management won't relent," she said, her voice drenched with disgust. "They red-taped everything because they were more concerned about the hospital's image - that's the reason why I resigned."
His Auror's instinct kicked in, "We don't have time to waste, we need to find Hermione," he said. He grabbed his cloak from the couch, "Malfoy you're with me, we'll head to the Ministry first."
"I want to go to," Ginny said.
His head snapped towards his wife, "You are not going with us and that's final. Go to the Burrow and stay with Molly, we'll be back as soon as we have Hermione."
"Potter is right, you should stay at the Burrow," Draco said as he scurried towards him.
He scooped a heaping amount floo and turned his head towards Draco, "We'll find her, even if end up flipping Britain, we'll get her back, do you hear me?"
Myriads of emotions played on his once archrival's face, "Thank you, Potter," he breathed out.
He stepped into the grate, "Ministry of Magic!" he bellowed.
Hermione hugged her shaky knees to her chest and kept checking the room for a possible escape routes. After the Cruciatus, she was carted into a different room and has been locked in for what felt like hours. Her tears kept falling in a steady rhythm, her hope waning at every hour that passes without any sign of help. She rested her chin on top of her arm, "Draco…please be safe…." she prayed.
The knob rattled before the door slammed open, letting a sliver of line shine through the dark room.
She scrambled out of the floor and took a step back, "W - what do you want?"
"Bloody hell," The newcomer swore.
She knew in an instant that the person who's standing by the door was not her captor, but she still pressed herself to the wall in caution.
"Don't be scared, I won't hurt you."
"I won't trust you unless you show me your face."
The stranger stepped into the light, revealing her face.
She felt her eyes widen in shock, "D - Daphne?" she gasped. "What are you doing here?"
Daphne Greengrass lifted her hand to show her that she doesn't have a wand, "I was about to ask you the same thing, Hermione," she said. She flicked the light switch on the wall to illuminate the whole room, "Imagine my surprise when my elf told me that there's an unidentified woman in our attic."
"I'm in your attic?"
"Long story," Daphne said. She plucked her wand from her pocket and met her gaze, "I don't have time to explain everything, we have to get you out."
She licked her cracked lips, "Do you know who kidnapped me?"
"I have an idea, but I'll explain later. I have to get you out of here before—"
"What the bloody hell do you think you are doing?"
Daphne turned around to face her captor, "Don't take that tone with me Astoria; I'm still your older sister."
She felt her jaw drop in shock, "The cloaked figure was Astoria Greengrass all along?" she thought with disbelief. Never in a million years did it cross her mind that Astoria was capable of doing such, last thing she heard she was confined at the Spell Damaged Ward in St. Mungos.
"I don't care; get out of the way so I can kill that vermin!"
Daphne blocked her deranged sister, "Enough, Torry - let her go."
Astoria shook her head frantically, "NO - she deserves to die! She killed Mum and Dad and destroyed our family! She stole the only man I love - she deserves to rot in hell!"
"Listen to me, Torry - let Hermione go. She didn't kill Mum and Dad; it was the war that ended their life," Daphne said in a placating manner.
Astoria pulled her wand and leveled it at Daphne's face, "Don't make me use my wand, Daphne - I swear to Merlin I will!" she shrieked.
"Will you kill me?" Daphne subtly moved her right hand to her back, her wand sticking out towards her. "Your own flesh and blood?"
She understood the gesture so she peeled herself from the wall, her eyes trained on Astoria. She edged closer without being noticed, "Make this work, please," she thought repeatedly.
Astoria threw her a dirty look before moving her gaze back to her sister, "I will if you get in my way," she sneered.
"Torry, love, please don't do this - give me your wand," she cajoled with a soothing voice.
She found her opening; she managed to pluck the wand from Daphne's hand just before she lunged towards her sister, trapping her into a tight hug. "Run!" she shouted.
Pure adrenaline rushed through her veins, giving her legs strength to sprint towards the open door.
Astoria let out an angry high-pitched scream, "How could you - she is mine!" she cried as she struggled through her sister's grasp.
"Leave!" Daphne hissed.
She tightened her hold on the wand and pointed it towards Astoria, "I can't leave you, she'll kill you."
"That's the best decision you ever made, scum!" Astoria cackled.
Daphne tried tackling Astoria to the ground, "Leave, I can handle this!" she shouted.
"I won't let you get hurt, I can't do that!" she hissed back.
Astoria's wand hand slipped through Daphne's grasp, "Sectumsempra!"
"We have to go in, Potter! We don't have enough time!" Draco spat.
Harry threw him a dirty look, "This Manor has hundreds of the ancient wards, if you didn't notice, Malfoy," he growled. He moved his eyes back to the tall metal gates, his hand swishing and flicking with an invisible pattern, "If I could just blast through this, I swear to Merlin, we would be in there by now."
He pulled his wand from his pocket, "Let me try, maybe they have the same wards as the Manor."
"Why didn't you just say so?"
He ignored Harry and pointed his wand towards it. He felt dark magic lick his skin, but he pushed through with it. After a few minutes of chanting every spell he could think off, he felt the wards give in and the metal gates swung open.
Harry's head snapped towards him, his eyes wide in surprise.
He lowered his wand, "Let's go."
"Ever think of switching careers?"
"Not now, Potter."
Daphne's body turned limp, blood seeping to her dress.
Astoria's hand dropped the floor, her eyes wide in shock.
"Expelliarmus!" Hermione shouted.
The wand flew away from Astoria's hand, but she didn't seem to notice. She wrapped her arms around her sister, "D-daphne?" When she didn't get a response, her hate filled eyes snapped to her, "This is your fault, Mudblood - your fault!" she screamed. She struggled out of Daphne's body, "I will kill you!"
She shook her head, "It's over, Astoria."
Astoria looked more frantic; she scrambled to her feet and pulled a dagger out of nowhere. "I will kill you!"
"Lockhart!" Draco yelled while running towards the ground staircase.
"Professor?" Harry asked as he matched his pace.
"What the bloody hell are you talking about?"
"Lockhart - DADA, remember?"
Before he could respond, an elf appeared right in front of them. "Master Malfoy is calling Lockhart, how can help Lockhart help?" he asked with a bow.
Harry wrinkled his nose, "Who the bloody hell names their elf over that stupid-"
"Where's your Mistress?" he asked, cutting Harry off.
"Mistress Daphne is in the attic, Master. She is helping the Mudblood escape!"
Harry pointed his wand towards the elf, but he beat him to it; "Don't call her that or I will see to it that you're given a wardrobe full of clothes!" he barked.
The elf's eyes almost bulged out of its sockets, "Lockhart is bad, Lockhart won't do it again, I'm sorry Master!"
"We're wasting time, we have to find Hermione."
He pushed the elf out of the way and ran towards the stairs. He was almost at the landing when he heard a spell that made his knees weak, making him stumble back.
"What the hell Malfoy!"
He caught his bearings and bolted without a response. He yanked the door open and pointed his wand towards Astoria's back, "Petrificus Totalus!"
Astoria's body froze mid lunge before she stiffly fell back on the floor.
Hermione let her wand drop, her eyes rimmed with tears, "D - draco?"
He ran towards her and pulled her into a tight hug. He buried his face on her neck, "Thank Merlin! I thought I'd lose you again - thank Merlin you're safe, I've got you," he murmured.
Heart wrenching sobs escaped her lips as she clung to him tightly.
Harry walked towards Daphne's prostate form and started checking her. He let out long strings expletives when he recognized the spell that hit her. He pressed his finger to her neck and felt relief wash through him when he felt a faint thump, "Malfoy," he called out.
Hermione let her arms drop and pushed him, "Y - you have to help Daphne, she's - Astoria," she rambled almost incoherently.
"She's alive, but barely holding on," Harry said. He locked eyes with him, "It's Sectumsempra, I don't know the counter spell."
He felt guilt and shame eat at his gut with the irony of the situation but he pushed it aside. He kneeled beside Daphne's blood soaked body and began waving his wand in an intricate pattern, his Godfather's words circling inside his head. After a couple of seconds, the blood flow stopped, "We have to take her to St. Mungos, she lost a lot of blood," he said shakily.
Harry stood up, "I'll have to call for back up, but we don't have much time, can you-"
"We'll take her," Hermione interjected. She kneeled beside him and placed her hand on top of Daphne's, "You take care of Astoria," she said.
He copied Hermione's stance, "I'll see you at the Ministry," he paused to clear his throat. "And thank you, Potter."
Harry nodded, "You're welcome, now go."
He didn't need to be told twice; he wrapped his free arm around Hermione's waist and nodded.
Hermione swished and flicked her wand, dissapparating them with a loud crack.