Malfoy's smile widened. "I thought that would get your attention."
"This better not be a joke," I said in a shaky voice. In fact, my whole body was shaking.
He eyed me with an expression I'd never seen on his face before—concern? "Sit down before you collapse."
Despite my pride, I did as told. He tucked the note safely back into his pocket before sitting on his heels.
"I realize you must have a lot of questions, but this is neither the time nor the place to discuss them." He reached into a different pocket and withdrew a vial. I recognized the contents immediately.
"Polyjuice isn't going to open this cell door."
"But it will enable you to walk out once the door is open."
He reached into yet another pocket and pulled out a ring of keys. I raised my eyebrows.
"Time for explanations later, Granger." He handed me the vial.
I eyed it for a moment before looking back at him. None of this seemed real. My instincts told me not to trust him, that I was being played. But even if I was, what was the worst thing that could happen? If I died, I'd owe Malfoy a thank you. If I was brought back here, I'd be no worse off than I already was. Besides, I had no doubt I could play Malfoy at his own game.
Resolved, I pulled the cork out of the vial and downed the liquid. Malfoy's smile returned, wider than ever. As the potion began to take effect, he stood up and fiddled with the lock. I forced myself to breathe slowly, let my body transform into someone else's.
The transformation settled as I heard the lock click, and my cell door swung open. My heart jumped. Malfoy extended his hand to me, and I allowed him to help me to my feet.
"Here, put these on." He handed me a bag he'd been carrying, then turned around. The robes were elegant and obviously very expensive. They were also tiny-for a moment I thought he'd turned me into a child.
Once I finished dressing, he took my arm and led me down the halls. Though my body had been transformed, I hadn't regained any of my strength. I stumbled worse than ever as we travelled down what seemed like endless halls and staircases. We walked in silence. Any minute I expected to be caught, to be returned to my cell.
By the time we reached the ground floor, I was struggling to remain upright. We entered the main hall, and I gazed at the countless fireplaces on the walls, each with two guards in front of it. It had been years since I'd seen this place, since I'd seen anything but the stones in my cell, but it seemed larger than before. No doubt the new "Emperor" had expanded the prison.
A man in a servant's uniform bowed deeply as we approached. Malfoy motioned for him to stand.
"Miss Greengrass isn't feeling well," he said. "I'm afraid the dementors have had a stronger effect on her than I anticipated. Take her home, and escort her to her room to rest. Make sure no one disturbs her. I will be along shortly."
"Yes, Master Malfoy," the man said with another bow.
Malfoy kissed my forehead before handing me over to the servant. I tried to hide my surprise. He walked away, and I allowed myself to be led toward one of the fireplaces.
The guards barely blinked as we walked past. The man supporting me cleared his throat as he threw a small handful of Floo powder at our feet. Green flames sprung from the hearth, engulfing my freezing body in warmth. I almost gasped at the sensation.
"Malfoy Manor," the man stated.
I shut my eyes. The sensation of travelling through the Floo network again after so long was nauseating enough, I didn't need to watch grate after grate appear and disappear in front of me. Only when we finally stopped spinning did I open my eyes again.
I froze. In front of me was an elaborate drawing room, a room that was all too familiar. I looked up. The chandelier had been restored to its former glory, but that wasn't how I remembered it. I remembered it shattered on the ground.
"Is everything all right, Miss Greengrass?"
I glanced at the servant and nodded. He continued forward, and I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other. Echoes of the past, of my screams, filled my mind. That day, being tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange, had easily been the worst day of my life.
Until the Battle at Hogwarts, of course.
We walked through the drawing room, into the entrance hall, and up the grand staircase. Through a maze of hallways, we arrived at a pair of double doors. The servant released my arm and opened one of the doors, bowing deeply.
I opened my mouth to say thank you, but thought better of it—I'd still sound like Hermione Granger, after all, not "Miss Greengrass." Instead, I gave him a curt nod before entering the room.
The door closed behind me. Now that I no longer had adrenaline rushing through my system, my legs couldn't hold my weight any more. I managed to make it to the bed before I collapsed. I let out a sigh and closed my eyes. I hadn't been on a bed, or even a chair, since I was eighteen.
How old was I now?
My mind was filled with questions. What happened to my friends? How did Malfoy orchestrate my escape? Why did he do it?
Was Harry really alive?
Slowly, I felt my consciousness slipping away. I struggled to stay awake, but it was no use. Exhaustion overcame me, and I drifted into a troubled sleep.
A/N: Thanks so much for reading! I look forward to your reviews