A Dragon and a Phoenix

Chapter 22

When I finally woke up, it was nearly lunch time. Groggily, I rubbed my eyes and sat up in bed. It had been so long since I had been afforded the luxury of sleeping that long. I absentmindedly got dressed and brushed my teeth.

Having finished my usual routine, I wondered into the sitting room. A folded piece of parchment with my name on it was lying on the table.

Poppy has been told to assist you with whatever you need. When you wake up, summon her and she will lead you to the library.

Draco

"Poppy," I called.

With a crack, she appeared in front of me. "Y-yes Miss?" she stammered.

"I've been left a note stating that you're to help me find the library," I answered.

With wide eyes, she nodded emphatically. "Yes Miss. Poppy is supposed to do whatever Miss wants. M-master Malfoy says I'm to be at your disposal. If Miss Daniels is wanting to go to the library, Poppy will take her there now."

"Yes, I need to find Draco," I replied.

Without further comment Poppy was out the door and leading me through the maze of passages to another set of stairs. Apparently the library was on the third floor. Across from the stairs were the doors to the library. Inside, I found Draco sitting at a large oak desk. There stacks of aged books surrounding him as he pored over a particularly large tome.

He looked up as I stopped in front of the desk. The sunlight filtered through the window behind him, illuminating his hair and creating a halo. He looked relaxed and comfortable in charcoal colored trousers and dark blue sweater.

"Doing a bit of light reading?" I smirked.

"Oh yes, I find the tedious descriptions of the original layout and building of Malfoy Manor very thrilling," he retorted.

"Looking for something in particular?" I asked.

"As a matter of fact, I'm looking for any hint of additional secret passages and hidden spaces. I know there was one near the mantle over that fireplace, but I was never told how to access it. I saw my father removing something from it several years ago," he replied.

"Well, are there any others here that we need to be looking at? Maybe I can look for something while you research the secrets of the manor," I said.

"Well, there are several false books with potions and documents hidden within, but I've found most of those already. I didn't really expect her to leave them somewhere that simple. It would be too easy for me to find them. I suppose we can go to the drawing room and see if she's put them in there. I need a break from reading this anyway," he remarked.

We left the library and went down the entrance hall. This time we went through the opening to the right. This corridor was lined with several doors. The first of which was open to reveal a well decorated, brightly lit sitting room. We passed by and entered the fourth door which led into the great room. There was only one other door in the room which led to the drawing room. A grand piano stood to one side along with several smaller instruments. Between the sofa and chairs there was a large oriental rug. Draco flicked his wand in the direction of the rug and silently that section of the floor lifted to reveal a set of stone steps.

He turned to look at me with a grave expression and said, "While we're down there, don't touch anything unless I say. This is where father kept many Dark Artifacts, and some of them remain. Mother could have hidden the contracts here. She doesn't know that he taught me how to open this before his arrest."

"I won't touch anything," I assured him.

As we descended the steps, torches flared to life in the hidden room. Glass cases and shelves lined the walls. Some things had tiny labels attached, and others were needed no such warnings. They were clearly meant to kill.

I stood with my hands folded, waiting. Draco walked past the shelves, wand in hand, muttering spells to reveal hidden objects. Nothing happened.

"Okay, there's one other place in here, but it's going to take both of us to open it," he grimly reported.

There was a safe in the room. Only, there was nothing ordinary about this particular safe. He explained that once he turned the handle and opened it, he would be paralyzed, and it would only release him when I closed it.

"If there are any documents in it, summon them out, but don't touch them," he ordered. "Oh, and one more thing," he remarked off handedly, "be quick about it. It's going to clamp down on my wrist and begin to drain blood from me once I open it."

Before I could protest the wisdom of going near this contraption, he had grabbed and turned the handle, yanking the safe open. Immediately, something extended around his hand and clamped down on his wrist. He had already been immobilized and without further hesitation, I ran to the safe and peered in at its contents. However, there were no documents, only some very dark objects indeed.

Quickly, I slammed the door shut, freeing Draco from its hold. He retracted his hand swiftly, cradling his arm against his chest.

"You bloody nitwit!" I exclaimed. "What if I something had gone wrong? What if it hadn't let you go?"

"I've seen my father open it once before. I know what it does, and I knew it would release me. That's why I didn't give you a chance to argue," he calmly replied. "Now, if you're done throwing a wobbly, perhaps we can get out of here. I rather fancy sitting down for a bit."

Frustrated with his antics, I stomped back up the steps and into the drawing room. Following behind me, he resealed the hidden chamber.

Not wanting to linger there, we went back to the comfortable looking sitting room that we had passed earlier. Here, Draco dropped wearily onto the sofa. He looked none too worse for wear, only a bit tired.

I stood in front of him, arms crossed, glaring down at him. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine. At least I will be. I just need to rest for a minute. Something to eat would be good as well," he commented.

Snatching his hand away from his chest and sitting down next to him, I examined his wrist. There were two angry red marks on either side of the soft flesh of his inner wrist. His skin was cool and a bit clammy.

"Poppy!" I called.

In an instant she appeared in front of me with a slightly nervous look about her. Without pause I ordered, "Bring food for Draco and water as well." Almost before I could finish my directive, she had disappeared and returned with a tray of food and water.

Instructing her to leave it on the table, I turned back to him. "Here, drink something," I insisted. As a testament to how poorly he felt, he didn't even argue with my bossiness. When he had drained the glass, I took it and handed him half of the sandwich that Poppy had delivered.

After he had eaten, he looked a little better, and I wasted no time interrogating him about his foolish stunt. "Why the hell would anyone need a bloody safe that tries to kill you when you open it?"

Sighing, he replied, "Well, it's more of an anti-theft precaution. You just have to make sure there is someone with you when you try to open it. Otherwise, it will drain you completely, release your body, and close on its own. Depending on the size of the person in question, it only takes about three to five minutes to complete the process. Good thing you were quick about looking around in there."

With a look of horror, I sputtered, "Three? Three to five minutes! You gormless nutter! If I had taken my time, you'd be dead and I'd be worse than dead when your mother found out. If we're going to look for these damned contracts together, then you're going to have to be honest with me and let me know what the bloody hell I'm in for before you do something that witless again. Honestly, how would your mother have even gotten them in the safe without help anyway?"

"Aw, Kim I didn't know you cared for my safety so much," Draco mocked. "And she would have just used one of the house elves," he added.

Standing up and turning on him I snapped, "Look, you might be a complete tosser most of the time, but that doesn't mean I want you dead. I've had enough of this for now. I'm going back upstairs. I'll see you for dinner."

I stormed out without a backward glance and went straight back to the quiet sanctuary of my room. Once there, though, I realized that I didn't really have anything to do, so I wandered over to the bookshelf and found something to read before curling up on the sofa.

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