Playing with Fire

Chapter 16: Incendiaries

Song: BITE - Troye Sivan

The Daily Prophet - August 9th, 1998

“Mystery Attacks Across Europe”

By: Rita Skeeter

Sources tell us that there has been suspicious activity in seemingly random locations across Europe over the past few weeks. These attacks appear to be in no particular order or fashion, and the source of these attacks remains unknown.

Many have referred to the responsible parties as “terrorists”, “incendiaries”, and “cowards”. As far as we at the Daily Prophet are concerned, they are all three.

“It’s absolutely horrifying, how are we supposed to feel safe when these terrorists can get to the best of us?“, one resident in Bucharest, Romania says. “One minute, we all feel perfectly safe, protected in our beliefs and following the Dark Lord. Now, Death Eaters are dropping like flies, and no one has an explanation?“, a Poland native says.

Over the past few months, the Dark Lord strategically placed Death Eaters to ensure laws were being properly enforced and followed in the Dark Territories - Romania, Poland, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. “I only wish for my followers to feel safe, they are the elite of this world and deserve nothing less”, the Dark Lord stated in his speech last Friday.

While not much is known for sure, we are fully confident that the culprit of these attacks will be discovered and handled in a timely fashion.

~~~

All Draco could think about - worry about, rather - after reading the article, was Theo. He was stationed in Romania. Was he one of the Death Eaters who had been killed?

As far as anyone knew, any remaining members of the Order were too weak and scared to put up any more of a fight after the Battle of Hogwarts. Unless the Dark Lord knew something they didn’t, which was likely. He wouldn’t be caught dead in a compromised position. So the question was, who was responsible for these attacks if not the Order?

Since Draco’s promotion, he had been moved next to the Dark Lord at his table, his right-hand man. Minister of Magic.

“Minister, what do you think should be done about our little problem?“, the Dark Lord asked him. All eyes switched to focus on Draco.

“My Lord”, he began, “I believe sending more Death Eaters to replace them would only result in more losses. My suggestion is that we deploy a few undercover Death Eaters to investigate the situation and return with answers for further evaluation.”

The Dark Lord nodded in thought, “yes, a good suggestion indeed”, he stroked Nagini’s head. “All those opposing?“, he questioned the table. More of a dare really, his word was always final.

Quickly, Bellatrix raised a bony, grayish hand, “My Lord, if I may”.

The Dark Lord nodded at her, wearing a gruesome smile. “My Lord, I fear sending undercover Death Eaters would do no good”

“Why is that, Bellatrix?“, he hissed the last sound in her name.

“Clearly these terrorists know more than they should, these attacks are calculated and precise. These incendiaries have never been caught. What good would it do?“, she asked him.

Draco rolled his eyes. “Dear Bellatrix, you doubt the plans that I deem best?“, the Dark Lord threatened. Daring her to continue. She was already in too deep. She was from the moment she raised her hand, but Draco didn’t feel sorry for her. She wasn’t family, not anymore. She hadn’t ever been in his eyes.

“No my Lord! Of course not! I simply-“, he cut Bellatrix off, “then why have you not stopped talking?“, he was standing now, voice echoing across the hall. If she was looking to work his temper, she had succeeded.

She shook her head aggressively, fear in her eyes as well as admiration. Fucking loon. Her mouth shut with a pop and she averted her eyes.

“We will move forward with the Minister’s plan, seeing as no one else in this room can be bothered to use the pureblood brains they’ve been blessed with. What a waste”, the Dark Lord clicked his tongue.

He waved his hand to dismiss them, but Bellatrix stayed. The Dark Lord didn’t have to tell her to, he knew she would. She knew she was to be punished, and she wasn’t the type to try and avoid it.

The last thing Draco heard before flooing to the manor was his Aunt’s screams. He laughed at the sound.

~~~

It was 8pm that night when Granger came in to update Draco. The same routine, just another day.

Draco was surprised when she turned to leave immediately after finishing her recount.

“No questions today? You’ve given up on seeking answers already?“, he asked her, a smile playing at his lips. Come on Granger, show me that fire.

She angrily turned to him, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”, she crossed her arms. There it is.

“Do you often quote famous muggles and try to pass their words for your own, thinking no one will notice?“, he laughed. Draco knew this would make her angrier. And that was exactly what he intended to do.

“You know who Albert Einstein is?“, she said genuinely shocked. He didn’t, but her words were clearly quoted, and he would have recognized them if they were said by a famous witch or wizard. He assumed it was a muggle, and he assumed right.

“Just because muggles are rudimentary doesn’t mean I’m ignorant to their history”, he told her as if that should have been obvious. Checkmate. Too easy to push your buttons, Granger.

They both stared at each other in silence. Draco was sure she had more in her, but apparently he was wrong. She turned to leave. Fuck. He hadn’t meant to drive her out of the room.

She began to walk so he called out, “Up in Flames is a good book - by T.L. Maddox - Section N.” She didn’t even stop.

The book he mentioned was also one of his mother’s - another one of her favorites. He knew Granger liked to read, and he hated the thought of his mother’s books never being read again. Collecting dust in section N of the library.

He missed her every day, but it was easier now. As much as he hated it, Granger’s updates were the best part of his dreary life. Hearing her voice, watching her squirm under his gaze on the days he decided to use it.

He loved hearing the irritation in her voice when he riled her up, it certainly wasn’t hard to do. But their brief interactions were always over far too soon. He’d take what he could get.

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