Chapter 21 – Quiet Contemplations and a Scream
Lord Harry Potter arrived back at Potter’s Hall later than he had expected. He had spent the day in London, trying desperately to find some proof, either documented or from eyewitnesses, who could give him insight into his mother’s past. His mother and her older sister, Hermione’s mother, were both born in London, and at around the ages of seven and five, they were left at an orphanage. This fact was just brought to light by Remus Lupin. Furthermore, they were taken from the orphanage, six months later, by an elderly aunt, and that was where they stayed until the went out on their own.
The reasons for Lord Potter’s search were two-fold. He had a burning desire to know more about his mother. He knew a lot of his father, from Remus, from Sirius before he died, and from residents of Godric’s Hollow, who knew him when he was young. Much less was known about his mother, and Harry ached for knowledge of her, just as he had ached for her arms around him when he was a boy.
Second, Lord Malfoy had hired his solicitor to find out as much about Hermione’s past as he could, and he informed Harry of this quest. Harry was also curious, hence his trip that day. His endeavors were fruitless, however, and he garnered no new information about his mother, his aunt, or his cousin. He even visited Hermione’s stepfather, but the man did not even know Hermione was a witch, so he was of no help at all.
One thought occurred to him. What if, somehow, his mother’s parents were magical? Would that not explain why Hermione was a witch, just like his mother? Perhaps her own mother was a witch, and she chose to hide the fact, or never developed her skills. Things would be so much easier for Hermione, and also for Lord Malfoy, if it could be proven that she was not a Muggle-born. No proof had been obtained thus far, however.
It was well after dinner when Harry arrived home. He asked his housekeeper to send dinner up to his chambers. He started upstairs when his personal valet came up to him, solemn faced, and silent.
“Yes?” Lord Potter asked.
“Mr. Lupin requests your presence in the drawling room, Sir,” his valet said.
“Tell him I have had a long, hard day, and I am tired and hungry. I will speak with him tomorrow,” Harry said, as he untied his cravat.
“Sir, I believe it is urgent. It pertains to your cousin,” the man said.
Harry turned to the man, and saw the concern on his face. He ran down the hallway to Hermione’s room. It was empty. He ran down the stairs, all the way to the drawling room, and threw open the double doors. He said, “Where is Hermione?” He saw the somber face of Remus Lupin, who appeared much older than his years, as well as Ron, Charlie, and George Weasley, and Theodore Nott. The person he sought, Hermione, was missing.
Remus stood and met Harry’s gaze. He put his hand on the younger man’s arm and said, “We do not know where she is. She has not been seen since lunch.”
Sitting by the fireplace in the lounge at Malfoy Manor, Draco Malfoy threw his glass of firewhiskey across the room. He was done in for, but it was over, it was done! He informed his godfather and Miss Clearwater of his intentions NOT to marry the young lady, and it went badly, very badly indeed. The young lady cried, threw things, and even struck him. His godfather told him he was ashamed of him. In the end, Draco had to draw his wand on the pair. He ordered that they leave his sight. They both left, but with ominous, though very different, messages.
Miss Clearwater said, “This is not over, Lord Malfoy! There are ways around things, and you will see in the end that we are a fortuitous match. I shall consult my friend Mr. Zabini, and ask for his guidance.” That message left Draco confused and concerned.
Severus Snape said, “You have shamed me more than I ever thought possible. I, who have been like a father to you, to be cast aside so you can throw away everything for the love of a Mudblood! Do not be a fool, Draco! You will come to your senses and see that she is not a good match for you! You will be forced to come to that conclusion, Draco!”
Draco told Snape that it had nothing to do with Hermione Granger, except that it did.
Snape said, “I tried to convince her just today to leave here and go to Hogwarts, to teach! I feel she is convinced. I would not be surprised if she had already left! She is not meant for you, Draco.”
“Leave Miss Granger alone, Snape, or you will answer to me,” Draco warned the older man. Draco did not believe Snape told her that! After all, when would he have seen her today? No matter, Snape was lying. She promised she would wait for him. After their silent declaration of love this morning, he felt they shared an understanding. She would wait for him! She was a woman of her word.
He used his wand to levitate the entire bottle of firewhiskey to him, and he drank right from the bottle. He would drown his miseries in drink tonight, and pray for an anchor tomorrow.
Harry paced the room like a caged animal! “Who was the last to see her? Who was her visitor today? Why did she not tell anyone where she was going?” These questions were poised to the other occupants in the room, but none of them had any answers.
The only thing they knew for certain was that Lord Malfoy, per the butler, arrived this morning, and gave her a lesson. The butler also saw Lord Malfoy leave. He said that after Lord Malfoy left, Miss Granger received a guest, but the guest was admitted into the home by a downstairs maid, who had suddenly disappeared as well. After that, there were no answers.
Remus said, “We have searched everywhere for her. We have combed the woods and the town. We used every spell and charm I can think of to locate her. She is either far away from here, or under some sort of concealment charm. I called Mr. Nott, since he is a member of the militia. He has men out looking for her as we speak. We tried to get a message to you earlier, but no one knew where you were.”
Harry felt helpless, standing there, and doing nothing. He marched out of the house, to try to find her himself.
Theo Nott slipped out as well. He wanted to tell Malfoy.
Well, good riddance, it was over and done. Everything from this point on could go to hell in a hand basket, and Draco would care not. It did not ease his heart however, because he was still not at liberty to take Hermione as his wife, though it be his fondest wish. Someday, perhaps, hopefully, some day. Thus, the reason for the thrown glass. He was heading upstairs when there was a loud banging on his door. He smiled when he thought how he told Hermione it was improper for her to answer the door herself, and how she shut it in his face. He called out to his butler that he would answer the door. He opened it, and outside was Theodore Nott.
Draco opened the door to let him gain entrance and said, “Well, it’s over old man. I told them both. I told them that while I may still have to marry a pureblood to retain my title and home, I could also just as easily remain single. It would appear neither gave that little notion a thought. I owe you, Nott.” He smiled widely at the man, who did not return his smile.
Draco said, “Whatever is the matter with you? You look like the man who has just lost his best friend.”
“It is not I who has lost their best friend, Malfoy,” Nott said. He put his hand on the other man’s arm and said, “Lord Potter request your help in locating his cousin.”
Draco gave a short laugh and said, “Did she become lost in that massive house of his?”
“No, she is missing, and has been missing since right after your lesson today,” Nott informed him.
Draco felt his heart sink to the floor. He buttoned his jacket, and rushed out the door, to Disapparate away.
In a cold dark room, in places unknown, Hermione Granger lay on the hard ground, with nothing but some hay for cushioning. There was no use denying it, she was alone and afraid. She was bound and gagged, with a blindfold over her eyes. She had been cursed, although with what curse, she did not know. If she knew more about the unforgivable curses, she might have thought it was the Crucio, for the pain she felt while the curse was rendered still coursed through her body.
She was confused. She did not know where she was, or why. She did not have any notion to the day or time. She was utterly alone and full of fear and despair. She willed darkness to overcome her again, so she would not have to feel afraid. If she could just sleep, perhaps her nightmares would be less frightful than her real life.
She wondered if she was missed. Had Harry returned from his business, to find her gone? Had anyone told Lord Malfoy? Her thoughts had gone to him frequently over the last few hours. She wondered if she would ever see him again. She regretted that she might die and never feel his lips upon hers. She knew it was a strange thought, since it might be her last, but she thought it all the same.
Someone walked in the room. For a moment, Hermione thought she might have heard two sets of footsteps, but than only one person approached her, and by the way the person carried himself, and the way his footsteps fell on the rock surface floor, she knew it was a man. He knelt beside her and without compassion or gentleness, pulled her to a sitting position. Then a spell was cast, the same spell as earlier, and all she could do was scream. Her body was a beacon of pain. When the pain subsided, for it never completely stopped, a familiar voice said, “That is enough. Lord Potter has just discovered you are missing, Miss, and by now, so has Lord Malfoy. We do not have much time. Think of him one last time, before he ceases to exist for you!” Hermione was jerked into a standing position, her blindfold removed. Then someone pointed a wand at her and said, “Obliviate!”
Harry stood in the middle of the town square, with half the residents of the village around him. They all respected and admired the young viscount, and if they could help him, they would. He begged for silence, while he held his wand aloft and uttered the four-point spell. He demanded his wand to point him to his cousin. It pointed due east, so Harry and company followed.
Draco Malfoy stayed behind in the village. He went to the little church, sat in a pew, and waited.
His mind went to this afternoon. What would he say to her when presented to her once more? Would he finally admit his love outright? That was his fondest wish. His biggest regret was that he left her alone this afternoon, especially after he and Lord Potter admitted that she was not safe. Harry had received an anonymous letter stating that the attack that day on Malfoy’s carriage was actually an attack on the young lady. Though two of the rakes did not know Miss Granger would be in the carriage, the third did. It was his intention, nay, his order, to find her and cause her harm. He did not succeed, but that did not mean he would not try again.
What would he say when he was once again face-to-face with the young woman? He could offer her no more than he offered her this afternoon. How he wished it were as easy as giving up his title and home, and running away with the woman her loved, but it was not that easy. It was not that simple.
During their lesson that morning, after she had successfully completed three Apparitions, and before she tried the one from the inside of the small structure to the outside, she told him, “I have never felt more like a witch than I do right now.”
He smiled now when considering that comment. It was a sweet, endearing comment. If this young woman had, had the opportunity to hone her skills over the years, it was hard to tell how powerful she might be. The magic that coursed through her veins, be it from magical ancestry or not, was prominent.
Had it really been only a week and a half since they had met? What madness. When he lay in bed at night, he longed for her touch, her smell, and her hands upon his body. Was it desire that drew him to her, or love? He was certain it was love. For if it was only desire, he would have taken her in the gazebo this afternoon. She was willing.
No, it was love, for only love could have given him the resolve to stop his lovemaking. Only love could make him long to just look upon her face. Only love could warm his soul, and cause the fire that existed deep down inside his very core. He loved her, and the next time he saw her, he would tell her as much.
Hermione Granger, no longer bound, gagged, or blindfolded, walked up an abandoned lane of the village, all alone. The surroundings were unfamiliar. She did not remember this path. It would do no good to cry. She needed to find someone, to beg for his or her help.
She entered a small village square. The only light, as the day was coming to an end, and darkness had begun to envelope the daylight, was coming from a candle in the window of a small church. She walked toward the church and opened the large doors. A man, who seemed isolated and sad, sat at a pew in the front, with his head low. He did not sense her entry. She made her attendance known by opening the door wider and making her footsteps louder than expected. The man stood, faced her, mouth agape, and said, “Where have you been?”
All she said was, “Excuse me, Sir, but I seem to be lost. Can you tell me the way to Kent? My mother must be worried for me.”
Draco approached the lady in question and said, “Miss, do you know where your are?”
“No. This place does not seem familiar. I must be lost. Where am I?” she wondered.
Draco took in her appearance, which had so altered since he last saw her. Her hair was down and wild. Her pretty dress was covered in dirt, and what appeared to be blood. He approached her slowly and said, “The date, Miss, do you recall the date?”
She looked worried and confused. She said, “You must think me a simpleton, Sir, but I do not recall either.”
“Do you recall me?” he asked.
“I do not believe we have ever met. My name is Hermione Granger,” she said, with a slight bow at her waist.
Draco Malfoy felt he could not breathe. His world was falling in around him, and he was useless to stop its impending fall. He said, “My name is Lord Draco Malfoy. Do you know Lord Harry Potter?”
“He is my cousin, Sir, do you know him? Are you a friend of his?” she asked.
“Where does he live?” Draco inquired.
“A small village, called Godric’s Hollow,” she said.
“That is where you are,” he explained, approaching her slowly. “What is the last thing you recall?”
“Just pain, Sir. I recall terrible pain and a scream, which I know was my own,” she said softly.
Draco wanted to scoop her in his arm, but he did not want to scare her. She actually held her hands out in front of her, as if to ward him away. He said, “You will be fine, Miss. I want you to stay here, while I go outside to send my patronus to your cousin.”
“You are a wizard, Sir?” she asked.
He wanted to answer, “I am a wizard and so much more,” but instead he just said, “Yes.”
He knew not what had happened. He just knew she was back and safe. He went to the door of the church, and sent his patronus to Harry Potter. He walked back in the small church, where true to his order for her to stay put, she had not moved a muscle.
“I beg you to sit, Miss, before you fall over,” he demanded. She sat in the very last pew. He sat on the wooden, scrolled arm of the pew across the aisle. He did not know how to proceed. He asked, “When did you last see Lord Potter?”
“I do not recall if I’ve ever met him, but we have corresponded often during my life. He is my cousin. My mother and his late mother were sisters.”
Draco just realized something. She did not know her own mother was dead, because she had met Harry at her own mother’s funeral, though she didn’t recall meeting the man at all. That was when Harry invited her to come live at Potter’s Hall with him. At first, he thought her confusion might be the result of stress, or a head injury, now, he knew it must be the result of a curse or spell. If he ever found the person, or persons, who did this to her, he would kill them. It was as simple as that.
Harry Potter ran alone up to the small church. He opened the door and started to run to his cousin, though Lord Malfoy stopped him. The young girl in the pew coward in the seat, afraid of the man rushing toward her. He took Lord Potter’s arm and said, “I believe her memory has been Obliviated. I also fear she is suffering the after effects of the Cruciatus curse.”
Harry approached her more slowly than before, and said, “Hermione, I am your cousin, Harry Potter. Do you recall me?”
“Yes, we have written often,” she said. She stood up, but instead of walking toward the aisle, where Harry and Draco stood, she walked toward the other end of the pew, and stood by the far wall.
“We have more than written, you live with me now,” Harry said.
“That is not possible, Sir, I live with my mother and stepfather in Kent,” she said, now afraid.
Harry felt his heart beating out of his chest. He raised both hands toward her, walked closer, and said, “Hermione, your mother is dead.”
The girl sank to the floor and screamed.