Chapter beta: Olivia
Chapter translator: Nik (& Aivy)
When I came to a stop, Dad was the first to envelop me in his strong arms. I returned the embrace from the bottom of my heart and enjoyed the familiar smell of lemon that he was emitting. I tried to commit it down to memory.
“Hello, my darling! How was school?” Mum chirped excitedly as she also embraced me. I inhaled her familiar scent of Chanel No. 5.
“Exciting as always,” I beamed at the two of them falsely. I was happy to see my parents looking so well.
“Well then, let's go. I'll drive,” Dad said importantly and pushed the suitcase trolley. It was good that Orange was with the Twins.
With her, we would have been very conspicuous. My parent's bewilderment wouldn't have helped either as they had supposedly given her to me for Christmas which of course wasn't true. These were all things one must always consider when one starts lying.
It results in a vicious cycle!
We got into the BMW and raced away. When I climbed the three white steps to our townhouse, a profound sense of melancholy came over me. Soon this house would belong to me alone. I sighed sadly.
We stood somewhat lost in the hallway with its beautiful, elaborate stucco ceiling which I had always loved as a child.
“It is nice to have you back with us, sweetheart,” Mum said, stroking my cheek tenderly, and I smiled at her fondly as sadness threatened to arise within me.
“I'm happy to be back too! Do you have anything planned for today?” I enquired curiously and tried to pull myself together.
“No, nothing special. It's already late. If you want, we can go out for dinner tonight or stay in and cook here,” came my mother's well-intentioned offer.
“I would love it if you would cook; I have missed your cooking skills,” I flattered her. Honestly, I did like her cooking, but this was also a way I could easily mix the wine with a Sleeping Draught. Let's just put it like this - I was in for another long night.
“Oh, I'm so glad to hear that! Thank you for the compliments! We'll have to make another trip to the grocery. What are you going to do in the meantime?” Mum was getting herself into a frenzy, beaming from my praise.
“Perhaps, I will take care of a couple of things but first I would like to get unpacked...” I announced and looked over at my trunk.
“Good, you do that, sweetie; I will accompany your mother. See you later!” My father proclaimed and just like that, I was alone again, just like I wanted. I pulled out my wand and directed the now floating trunk into my room.
I love magic! A wave of my wand and I had cleared out everything I wanted. It sure made life a lot easier. I then took the time to read the Gringotts letter Rangok had written me with great care and focus.
Two months ago, my parents' practice had been successfully sold at a handsome price. From the proceeds, the goblins bought them a chic, stately house with extensive grounds in an exclusive suburb of Brisbane and a high-quality new practice in the city centre. At one PM tomorrow, the transfer of their practice to the new owner was to take place. How fortunate that I looked quite similar to Mum. Just a few transformation spells would be needed; no disgusting Polyjuice Potion necessary. As long as I could get around it, I wouldn't take it. It was very complicated to make and, yes, it just tasted foul.
As it was, there was some cash left even after the purchase of the real estate and two cars. Not much, but combined with the money from the closed accounts in England, their new Australian accounts had a large amount of cash and savings. Mum and Dad would be well off and could lead the same affluent life in Australia as here in England. They would have better weather too, I thought with a grim sense of humour.
I looked at the photos that Rangok had enclosed so that I could see the properties before I gave my approval. They were quite nice. The goblins understood how to carry out their clients' wishes to the fullest satisfaction.
The view that the land offered was incredible. Although it was a bit too dusty for me, I knew Dad liked such a climate and the house was much more spacious than ours. They would both be fine.
Then I reached back into my briefcase, where I stow all my Gringotts paperwork, and retrieved the official-looking document that Rangok had recently sent me by owl mail. It was the guardianship records showing that Gringotts formally took over my guardianship for the remaining two months. It still lacked the signature of my parents with a blood quill that was needed to make it official. Afterwards, it would only be used should anyone demand it.
If not, it would forever disappear into the mills of bureaucracy. It was my protection from the Ministry and Dumbledore, but I would only use it as a last resort if given no other choice. There was a second alternative now. Thanks to Draco, I belonged to the Malfoy family with its draconian head that was nominally my guardian now. While it was the simplest solution, I wouldn't place myself into Lucius' clutches so easily. It was best I had more than one way out.
I had instructed Rangok that the document which magically testified that I was one year older, was not to be sent to the Ministry until I was of age. I wanted to draw as little attention to myself as possible from the magical world. After the dramatic and exciting last few days and weeks, my name was just too prominent. It was better not to be the focus of so much public attention.
There had also been a logistical change in my plan. My parents' car was now supposed to be waiting at six pm at the edge of the forest just before entering Dover, but that too wasn’t going to be a problem, Rangok wrote me.
I rubbed my tired eyes. It was already quite late, almost six in the evening and I could not afford to forget a single thing. Tonight would be very eventful, so I was a little excited. I rigorously squashed every doubt.
To distract myself a little bit, I showered extensively and tried to scrub my brains out. Slight shivers of disgust coursed through my body when I thought of what I had planned for today. I needed all my mental discipline to master myself and not abandon the whole scheme before it was too late.
Why did I always think up such shitty ideas? Why did I let myself get involved with these kinds of things? If only anyone knew. What I was about to do in a few hours I hadn't entrusted unto anyone, not Draco, not the Twins!
Everyone would have lost their minds in horror. I agreed with them; it was a genuinely daring undertaking. Bile forced its way up my throat and caused a sour taste in my mouth. Yuck. I brushed my teeth once more to banish the gross, stale taste from my mouth. I should be careful with what I ate today because I didn't want to puke. That would be counterproductive.
Some time later, when I entered the fragrant kitchen in black jeans and a light, tight-fitting, black half-length T-shirt, with my hair tied back into a tight bun and smiled at my parents, I had gotten enough of a grip on myself to play the loving, well-behaved daughter who wouldn't hurt a fly. They had set the table on the terrace and barbecued outside on account of the warm summer night. I went to my cheerful, clueless parents, and sat with them.
It was a pleasant, entertaining evening that lasted a good two hours. We laughed a lot. All of a sudden, both of them slumped down unspectacularly on their chairs in front of my eyes. A glass shattered loudly. I had increased the dose this time because they had to sleep soundly. It wouldn't do for them to wake up, I thought as I stared at my unconscious parents wistfully.
If only they knew... So it began. With a Locomotion Charm, I floated my parents' unconscious bodies into their bed. I hexed their pyjamas on them and approached them, throwing a worried glance at their sleeping, peaceful faces. They had no idea what shocking things their daughter was about to do. How many lines would I cross today? They didn’t know that they had just spent the last evening of their lives with their daughter today. Wasn’t I evil?!
What did I feel?
Not much, I realised, since I had long decided to wipe my parents out of my life. That's why I had prepared myself for today and only felt a bittersweet overtone of farewell but certainly not the severe and cruel panic that would occur if our parting had come unexpectedly. It was a gentle breeze that drove us apart forever, not an uprooting hurricane.
I bent over my mother, brushing her curly, dark brown hair from her beautiful face. I grabbed a handful of hair, ruthlessly pulling the strands out of her scalp. Although she grimaced painfully, she didn’t wake up. Hadn’t I known that my potions would be powerful enough? Smiling contentedly, I placed the hairs in a vial.
I did the same with my father's short, dark blonde hair. On the way to the door, I took a look at the blissfully sleeping couple who would soon forget everything about me. If they had ever experienced my true self, they would probably be even grateful for this. Who would want such a daughter? I drew my devastating conclusion.
Composed as I was, I walked back to my room. It was almost half past nine. I was making good time. I put on my coat and looked at myself in the mirror. My face showed deep, haggard lines of determination for what I was about to do would require a lot of will power even from me. I had thought about it for a long time and this was the best, the only plan I had come up with that I could go through with to the bitter end.
I knew I was crazy. But well, I'd do it! I was truly bonkers; my heart was beating unnaturally quickly in my chest. Why did I always come up with plans like this? This was no good, no good at all! However, I successfully fought the panic threatening to overwhelm me. An unbelievable bluntness and hardness stepped into my brown eyes, which even left me speechless for a second. Well, the dice had been cast, Hermione! Phew. Well then... In my mind's eye, I focused on my destination, Hope’s Lane in London.
The next evening, the first of July, I found myself in the family suite of The Marquis Inn in Dover, in the so-called The De Parmier Suite. I was cuddled up in my light blue silk nightgown on a brown sofa with silvery floral cushions. Even the wallpaper had these intricate patterns and seemed to smile at me in the glow of the dimmed lamps.
I looked at my shimmering blood-red wine spreading its fragrant bouquet in the bowl of the wide wine glass and inhaled the scent. It reminded me of cherry wood with a pinch of cinnamon.
I sipped the full-bodied fine wine and listened to the macabre sounds of Handel's ‘The Messiah’. The most famous part of the oratorio, a loud ‘Hallelujah’, was playing. It resonated with something deep inside me. I enjoyed the peace that had encompassed my mind and closed my burning eyes. I hadn't slept since yesterday but it would only make my acting more credible.
I relaxed. It was the calm before the storm.
My thoughts wandered back to the last twenty-four hours. In those hours, a lot had transpired. A relieved moan escaped me when I recalled all that had happened:
I apparated into Hope’s Lane. The building I stood in front of, which was my destination, was built of red bricks in Italian style. It had a long, narrow hall interrupted by round arches. In the middle of the beautiful structure was a tower reminiscent of a birdhouse out of which a striking chimney jutted out.
Quite pretty, it was situated across from the Jewish cemetery. The building itself was surrounded but vast grounds spotted with lakes and bridges. It was all very idyllic, considering it was a mausoleum and crematorium.
The Golders Green Crematorium had been opened in 1901 and was regarded all over the world as the golden standard of cremation and its methods in this area of expertise. It was also my destination. I had researched hard where I could get what I was looking for, and thereby I had found all the information about this crematorium. What was so special about their methods wasn't entirely clear to me; I mean, cremated is cremated, right?
Protected by the spreading darkness, I scurried over the gravel-covered pathways to the door, which was locked as expected but could not withstand my Alohomora. I slipped through the fittingly loudly creaking door and quickly closed it again. I looked around and cast a Confundus Charm. Should there be cameras anywhere, they would see nothing but a dark, thickly mummed figure anyway but I wanted to be thorough and careful.
There was an astonishing coldness prevalent in the brick building, almost like in the dungeons of Hogwarts. It was also hauntingly quiet. The silence of the dead. There were only a handful of objects around - mostly benches - everything else was kept very clinical. It was very dim since the only source of light was the passing, sinking summer sun shining through the windows. It didn't help making my surroundings any more appealing.
I became unnerved as my first steps clattered loudly. I cast the Sonus Ex on my shoes and scurried silently through the cold, empty corridors of the dark crematorium. It produced a sinister effect. A tense, oppressive atmosphere, similar to the one when standing late at night on a lonely, deserted cemetery, and here too the dead were stored, laid out and displayed behind windows, all beautifully decorated and restored for their family members who mourned their deceased. I paid no attention to the dead in their waxy deathly pallor. I had another goal. It is a good thing that I don’t scare easily because it was quite desolate here.
A moment later, I found it and stopped abruptly. The sign attached indicated that this was my goal. The locked door was no obstacle for me, and I closed it again behind me after I had passed. I groped for the light switch as it was pitch black in the windowless room. The artificial light of the neon tubes came on with a ping and bathed everything in an unnatural, pale and sickly white. The room reflected it from top to bottom; sterile, cold, and dull. The antiseptic smell, reminiscent of a hospital and of death, settled in my nose and I wrinkled it involuntarily. This smell was not pleasant.
One wall was full of small doors and behind them: corpses! Exactly what I was looking for.
Corpses that no one would miss; preferably deceased homeless people, only carted here to be burned, for whom no one would come looking for. I went to a register attached to the wall and flipped through the charts of the deceased in the hatches.
Very nice. I noted a total of three bodies that were suitable. Wonderfully fresh, just delivered today; precisely what I wanted. These were No. 3, No. 8 and No. 12. Well, let's see who I liked more! I felt astonishingly calm and felt in control both inside and out.
I approached the white metal hatch with the number 3. I grasped the silver-coloured locking mechanism and turned it to the right, the loud squeaking of the metal informing me that the bolt was open. Noisily, I opened the door and pulled out the silver stretcher. The body was wrapped in a white plastic shroud. I pulled off the loudly crinkling sheet hiding the deceased man's face without a second thought.
I stared at the face of a young man, about twenty-three years old, who had died of a drug overdose, according to the notes. He didn't seem to have any family and was, therefore, a good option. His face, eyes closed, looked emaciated. The corpse’s pallor was also less than beautiful. However, he had no visible injuries which was also advantageous. The drugs I could remove from his blood... I was astonishingly indifferent as I assessed the dead man in front of me.
So I left him unshrouded, lying in the open, and opened the next hatch closer to the middle of the wall, No. 8. In here lay the only woman in question. I folded back the sheet and revealed an elderly woman who was almost seventy years old. She had died alone in her apartment two days ago. She didn't seem as fresh as the young man, but it could still work. Thoughtful, I looked at the dead, wrinkly, emaciated face of the old woman.
I turned to the last corpse, a man lying in the row above, in hatch number 12, who had committed suicide unspectacularly today, hanging himself in a public toilet. This at the age of forty-six; where was humanity heading? I shook my head in disapproval.
I eyed at the person lying in front of me emotionlessly, the extended stretcher hovering at eye level for me given my short stature. I could see the wound where the pull around his neck had cut into his skin. It wasn’t pretty to look at and the broken larynx could be easily made out as the bump in the middle of the neck was unmistakable. The rope, or whatever he had used, had cut deeply into the tissue. But also he looked freshly dead, which was perfect for me. I would take the two men, I decided quickly. I was happy that Lady Luck was so kind to me and had bestowed upon me two perfectly suitable specimens.
I pushed the old woman back into the hatch and closed it conscientiously and then let both men float up from their metal stretchers without inhibitions with a Locomotor and left them in the air. I closed both hatches, grabbed both by their feet without hesitation and apparated. I arrived with my cargo in my family's garden and let go of the cold, dead feet. Sometimes it astonished even me that things like this didn’t cause me any nausea.
I walked through the garden to our small, picturesque garden shed and let both corpses sink to the floor. I shrunk the lawn mower and other tools that were in the way with a flick of the wrist and banished them to one side.
A satisfied, devilish smirk escaped me as I inspected my stolen goods. I was so about to commit desecration of corpses. Perhaps the name of a Death Eater would soon suit me better than anyone else, I thought cynically. I put both stasis and cooling spells on my two dead men. They were supposed to be nice and fresh. After all, they would have their big outing tomorrow.
Who would have ever thought that I, Hermione Granger, would one day hide two corpses in my parents' garden shed?
I felt great satisfaction at the thought that everything had gone so smoothly so far and an almost hysterical giggle wanted to escape my throat.
It had all taken longer than I thought, so I hurried back into the house and hurried up the stairs, ripped my coat off my shoulders and pulled out the copy of the book I had borrowed from Sirius' library and studied the whole process carefully. Everything would depend on how accurate and how good I was.
Damn... I had forgotten something. Sluggishly, I got up from my chair again. The long hours of learning at the desk hadn’t passed by me without leaving a mark, nor my concern that I had to do everything right down to the smallest detail and already I had made a mistake!
This was exceedingly annoying. I prayed the potion was still strong enough while I scurried back into of my sleeping parents' bedroom.
Slowly and deliberately, I pulled out one of my Horus daggers. The cold, silver steel flashed brightly in the light of the falling moon. I walked towards the bed with it in my hand and kneeled at my mother's side. Carefully, I took her hand off the blanket. I didn't hesitate as I grabbed her palm firmly and cut deeply into her flesh. She flinched back and started whimpering quietly, but I held on tightly. I needed the blood and held a vial labelled with her name underneath and could watch my mum's dark-red blood flow into the tube; then I closed the wound with an Episkey.
I performed the same task again with my father, but he wanted to turn around which I wouldn't let him do. I left the room quickly, but relieved. They hadn't woken up.
It was almost five o'clock, and I had thought of nearly everything. I would have to improvise anything else.
I didn't go to sleep that night. It wouldn't be worth it. I stepped under the warming spray of the shower and though I washed abundantly, the smell of the morgue didn't want to disappear from my skin and hair. It seemed to me as if this septic smell had dug into every one of my pores.
I desperately brushed my teeth again, but even here this sterile, rotten smell could not be dispelled. When I closed my overly tired eyes, I kept seeing the three pale, waxy faces of the corpses I had inspected. It hadn't been pretty.
The only good thing was that I had been looking at fresh flesh. Otherwise, I would have been seriously sick. It surprised me a little that it didn't bother me that much, that it didn't unsettle me more or upset my mental balance. When I raised my hand and it didn't tremble, I knew I would stay cool; it remained very steady and I chuckled in relief. I shook my head, getting dressed again. Once more, I wore jeans and a T-shirt; today I would get filthy.
I stood in the kitchen, brooding over my hot coffee cup and inhaling its scent to remove the stale smell from my nose. The idea that there were people who showed up for work there day after day seemed absurd to me. How disgusting! I hoped for them that they got paid well because I couldn't see any other reason why one would choose that job.
At seven o'clock, Mum and Dad entered the kitchen, handsome and appearing very well rested. I looked at them resolutely.
“Good morning, sweetie. Up so early?” Mum enquired in a good mood.
“Yes, I usually get up early at Hogwarts. How was the night?” I asked casually.
“Very good, I haven't slept as well as that for a long time. Now, where did I...?” Mother rummaged around in her far too-large handbag.
“What are you looking for, darling?” Dad asked, amused by his wife becoming more hectic.
“My schedule,” Mum said desperately.
“It's upstairs, on your vanity!” He rolled his eyes and Mum ran off quickly. I sat down opposite my father with my quill and the document and he commented: “Your mother's always been like that. What is that?"
“You have to sign that, Dad,” I handed him the quill and he reached for the parchment, looking at it with a puzzled expression.
“Sure, what’s this about...? Why -?!”
“Imperio!” I was sorry that I now had performed the third of the Unforgivables, on my father no less and taking away his free will, but I didn’t have enough time left.
At eight o'clock, the goblins were due to arrive. I felt a foreign power running through my veins and my father adopted a relaxed, blank face, gave up all resistance.
“Sign this, Dad,” I ordered and watched as, following my command, his red blood formed the contours of his name. He signed the document with zest. Today was the last day he would use this signature. Considering the fact that I had never used the curse before, it worked very well.
As I heard Mum rush through the door, I cast “Imperio” on her as well. Again, I had this intense, strange feeling as I took over her mind. I felt that they put up no mental struggle and I could easily control them both without having to fear losing control.
“Come here, Mum, you have to sign this too.”
She now also had a blank expression on her face and immediately did as I wished.
“And now go into the living room and sit down on the couch, I'll be right there!,” I ordered. They immediately executed my wish without resistance. I dropped my head on the kitchen table. Oh, my goddess, I would end up in hell, and I deserved it...
Frustrated, I screamed loudly and roared my frustration out into the world. At this moment, I despised myself deeply. I hid my face in my hands. Hermione, you have no time for this, I told myself, pull yourself together immediately, right now. Nothing can go wrong with the Obliviation, that would be fatal for their minds, so pull yourself together damn it. How good that the timetable was so tight. I hadn't the leisure to think much about my actions. Just do, don't think.
Resolutely, I stood up and walked with my head held high to the couple sitting close together on the living room couch, almost as if seeking protection. I sat down on the small, sturdy wooden table in front of them, looking at them sadly, but also very firmly.
I picked up my white wand and groaned resignedly when I first pointed it at Dad and looked into his dull, empty eyes. I swallowed hard.
“Obliviate,” I spoke hoarsely and observed how his gaze became even more absent. I concentrated very hard on my father, focussing intensively and exclusively on him. I deleted every memory of me relentlessly. When I had done this successfully, I gave him the story I had fabricated for them.
Sweat formed on my forehead from my efforts as I was proceeding very meticulously, but I pulled through.
I didn't change too much. He and Mum were married as long as before. They were dentists but no longer had a family. They wanted to escape the bad weather and start all over again in Australia.
When I had done the same with my mother, I walked towards the kitchen. I was exhausted and felt broken; I could barely look straight from all the exertion. I outright fled from the eerie living room where my zombie-like parents sat without their own will or memory and waited to be picked up.
I tried to breathe calmly and suppress the feelings that wanted to rise in me. I quickly drank the cold, stale coffee. One thing was sure; nobody could undo such an extensive memory spell. Tears threatened to pool in my eyes, but I bravely held them back. It was for the best. It was the fairest thing I could do since they had no place in the world I inhabited.
It was better, even if it was now irreversible. Fate or perhaps even I had chosen; the dice had been cast. These people in the living room were no longer my parents! More calmly and composedly than before, I stepped into the door frame and threw them a sad look, losing myself in reverie.
When it finally rang, I opened the front door, relieved but also very controlled, only to go wide-eyed at the sight that greeted me. Quickly, I caught myself. His sneering smile made his face dangerously distorted and it did not become more pleasant to look at.
“Mr Rangok,” I nearly shouted in disbelief. “How nice to see you! I didn’t expect you to come in person,” I confessed and greeted him with a respectful bow. I could see Grophok behind him whom I also greeted briefly. I recognised him as the goblin who had also warded Rose Cottage.
“How nice, Miss Granger, to see you personally again after such a long time and indeed, this is an exception but I was too curious,” he admitted with a broad grin and bared his pointed goblin teeth.
“Please come in,” I politely invited them in, leading the two goblins into the house and straight into the living room where my two motionless parents were still sitting on the couch.
“So you did it,” Rangok said soberly, after just one pondering look, and I nodded in confirmation.
“Then we should be fast; the flight leaves at 11 o'clock. Do your parents have everything?” he asked, looking at the couple with a sly expression.
“Yes, I packed their suitcases just last night. Not much, just the jewellery and the clothes, photos, all without me, but enough to tell a story,” I reported in a business-like manner.
“May Grophok...?” Rangok requested and pointed upstairs. I nodded after which the goblin set off in a hurry.
“These are all your parents' important business-related documents,” he handed me two thick envelopes. “We took the liberty to falsify your parents' certificates. Do you wish to know their new names?” he asked solemnly. I thought about it carefully but shook my head after some time.
“It's already bad enough that I know where they're going. No, it's better if I don't know,” I decided deliberately, noticing a sad expression entering Rangok's eyes but he accepted my choice without comment.
I fetched my father's briefcase and cleared it out conscientiously, put the documents in it, and pressed the suitcase firmly into Dad's hand with the order to take very good care of it, as it contained some cash and all their important documents. I felt his fist closing firmly around it.
Then, I waved my wand in front of both of them and released the Imperio, but they were still spaced out as the Obliviate was still active.
“They are yours. How will you handle it when I end the Obliviate?” I asked anxiously.
“We have our means... Grophok, please, take over if you would. Miss Granger, please finalise the Obliviate,” Rangok requested. Grophok stood in-between my parents and held their hands. He had shrunk the two suitcases and carried them in his trouser pocket.
I did as requested and immediately the three disappeared with a plop. They were gone. I stood there, all alone. Just like that, my parents were gone forever!
“Excellent,” Rangok clapped his hands together and, after a questioning look at me, sat down on one of the armchairs just as Grophok reappeared with another plop.
“Done, Miss Granger. Everything went as planned! Shall my team and I prepare the blood wards for the house?” Grophok asked with zeal. I nodded.
“Yes, please,” I said and the goblin dashed away and fetched his team.
“So, Miss Granger, can I assume that you have something ready for me?” Rangok framed his demand as a suggestion.
“Yes, of course. Here you are,” I handed Rangok the document. He looked at it and put it away contentedly.
“All your documents from the Muggle world were falsified so that you are now of age in their world. Everything went smoothly. I hope you are satisfied.” A pleased, very devious expression scurried across the goblin's face.
“Very much, Mr Rangok. Without you, I wouldn't have known how to do all this. Thank you very much,” it came a little sluggish from me. I felt exhausted, but I couldn't relax just yet. We talked about some less important monetary transactions.
After a while, Grophok cautiously approached us. I gave him a questioning look. It had taken longer than protecting the small cottage in the relative seclusion of the countryside, but then this was understandable given the different location of the houses.
“Miss Granger, we'd be ready for you to give your blood, please.”
I rose following his weighty words and Rangok followed us.
“If you don't mind, we can go straight to the practice afterwards,” Rangok offered, and a Tempus confirmed that the time had come to hand over the practice.
As I stood before the front door, he asked me to put my hand on the handle as I also had done last time. As expected, I felt the needle pierce me and heard behind me the chanted rite of the ward woven onto my house by the goblins.
Again, a visible golden shield manifested itself, settling over my house and shining brightly and radiantly, all of it happening under the observing eyes of Rangok. When the shield faded, I loosened my hand from the handle and healed it quickly. I thanked the team with a bow. Rangok merely waved his hand towards them, and they all disappeared.
“Please understand, Miss Granger, since it has become official that the Dark Lord has returned, our warding team has been busy,” he excused their quick disappearance.
“I can imagine. Would you come with me?” I asked. Rangok honoured me by offering me his hand which I gratefully took. I apparated us thusly directly into the practice.
The transformation spells to look more like my mother were quickly cast which Rangok watched in silence. Just a moment later, the bell rang.
Fortunately, everything proceeded very quickly. I handed over the keys since the transfer had already been completed weeks ago by a notary. Rangok had made himself invisible during this time. I had no idea how the goblins could do it. I knew, however, that he was very close-by.
When we both arrived back in front of my house, I said goodbye to him and made another appointment so that we would meet again when I got my school supplies, which made him smile in pleasant anticipation. He coquettishly asked me what I still intended to learn. I blushed from such a compliment; goblins never did something like that.
After Rangok disapparated, I shook my tired head in a positively sluggish manner. I was happy to find some peace and time to think, so I turned to the door and grabbed the door handle, twisting it to open, and was about to cross the threshold of the house when I received a blow from behind, completely out of nowhere.
Less than elegant, I flew into the hallway, barely cushioning the fall to the ground with my hands. When I heard the door slamming shut behind me, I had already rolled over in one smooth movement and quickly turned around. My wand was out, ready to curse the intruder. I aimed, a curse about to leave my lips. I wouldn't let anybody overwhelm me quite so easily.
I paused, thanks to my trained, good reflexes because I recognised that familiar spiteful grin. Being the good girl that I was, I immediately lowered my wand with a resigned, yielding expression and sighed deeply. Why must he always push me?
“Sir!” I breathed, perplexed. What was he doing here?
The thought stayed with me; why did he think that he always had to throw me at something? A bed, a wall, a shelf, or now, the floor?
“Are you surprised?” he snarled provocatively at me. Casually, he pushed off from the door he had been leaning against and made his way confidently through my house and took a seat in the kitchen as if he owned the place. I followed him hesitantly and rubbed my knees.
“A little; what did I do to deserve the honour of your visit, sir?” The words escaped me sarcastically. It was now three o'clock, and my schedule was tight. I had no time for such games.
“Well, you should be happy to see me,” he said with a low voice, his long black hair framing his expressionless, pale face.
“Of course, always, sir! Would you like something to drink?” I remained polite, albeit a little ironic, but he denied.
“You don't appreciate me at all! Have you already eliminated your parents?” he asked with interest, and I noticed how he scanned his surroundings, my home, with his all-seeing eyes all the time.
“Yes, sir,” I replied brusquely.
“You actually went through with it?” He was audibly astonished and gave me an unreadable look. I didn't fully believe him.
“Yes, sir!” How monotonous of me, but I had no time and even less desire.
“You always manage to amaze me,” he muttered quietly. It seemed he was truly surprised. Wow. He took a very close look at my figure and I felt extremely naked under his piercingly sharp gaze.
“Thank you, sir,” I said cautiously.
“Well, come then, I will help,” he had me there. Help? Since when did Snape help anyone?
“With what, sir?” I asked a bit confused.
“You're packing!”, he drawled. Already, Snape had his old harsh tone back. Great, now he wanted to give me orders again. But my plan was set in stone, I didn’t need his ‘help’. Hence, I asked perplexed:
“Why am I packing?” I brushed over my tightly tied back hair when I asked this question.
“Please don't play dumb. You’ll come with me and don't get the idea of refusing,” Snape threatened, growling, almost piercing me with his dark eyes. I felt taken aback and swallowed. This couldn't happen, not now!
“Where to?” I inquired carefully.
“Malfoy Manor,” he firmly stated, as if there was no other place I could go.
“Does Draco know?” I breathed tensely.
“Of course, I talked to him about it last night!” The good professor seemed to be getting short with me. But what did he have to interfere with my plans for? I was about to blow my fuse.
“I don't believe it. I can't go, not now,” I answered resolutely and gave Snape a stubborn expression.
“What is the matter with you?” and here, Snape hit the table hard, “Lucius is making things very difficult for us right now; since he saw you on the platform, he is unbearable! He wants to sound the hunt, so you will come with me...” he hissed angrily.
“Please, sir, I'll come as you wish, but not today and not tomorrow.” I jumped up and walked to the bar. When I spun around to look at him again, I was met with his black-clad chest. Great, he had boxed me in again. I had been too careless, damn it!
“That wasn't a request,” he rumbled threateningly as he towered over me.
“Sir, I will do whatever you want... but give me this week,” I almost begged and let go of my pride.
“Why should I?” Snape pulled up his eyebrow suspiciously, but I didn't know either and, following my instincts, stood on my toes and quickly breathed a kiss on his disapprovingly contorted lips. Where was the detachment I had built up after what he had done to me? I didn’t know. My instincts guided me and I tended to listen to them.
I whispered against his closed lips. “Please, a few days of freedom,” and kissed the nevertheless so soft lips carefully, supported me with my hand on his broad, muscular chest, grabbing the fine material, and now boldly licked his pinched lips with the tip of my tongue. Clearly, I threw all my other concerns aside when it suited me.
He growled and his arms, which had hitherto hung uninvolved at his sides, suddenly wrapped around me and captured my head hard between his hands. That he had done all that just to turn my advances back on me took me by surprise, even though I had started it. He kissed me with a fervour that took my breath away.
I held my own against him, so trapped in his hands and arms, the counter behind me. I had never witnessed him behaving with such abandon before. This was an entirely new kissing experience and a sigh escaped me unwittingly. I knew that I shouldn’t lose sight of my goal but just now I was focused only on him.
He pressed himself closer and closer to me and tried to kiss me out of my mind. I struggled not to give in because I had a mission to accomplish, not to mention the grey eyes I could feel flashing in the back of my head... I couldn’t and didn’t want to go all the way.
I felt his oh so covetous lips, his tongue playing with mine and it certainly didn’t do nothing for me. However, I managed to slightly dislodge myself from the kiss and whisper against his mouth. To get through to Snape, only one thing occurred to me and I hoped I wouldn’t go too far with it.
“Severus...”, I dared breathing it deeply and roughly into the kiss and managed to reach him.
Violently, he ripped himself away from me. I had suddenly found it easy to pronounce his first name, but now, with his intense look aimed at me, I probably wouldn't be able to put his name in my mouth again.
He looked deeply into my lustful eyes. He did excite me, I had to admit to myself, and he must have recognised clearly that I never played my desire for him, which conjured a contented, diabolical smile on his slightly reddened lips.
“You are a cunning minx,” he hissed reproachfully.
“I thought that's what makes me perfect for you,” I responded provocatively. Snape replied by lowering his head again and re-conquering my mouth purposefully. I submitted to his demanding lips. It was different now, not as headless and passionate, but rather enjoyable, the duel very equally balanced.
Here I was standing in the kitchen of my parents' house, having sent my parents away today, never to be seen again. Outside in the garden shed, two male corpses were laid out and here I was snogging wildly with my professor, who was several years older than me! And I was enjoying it!
I seemed to be more emotionally affected than I wanted to admit. After I had felt so lost for a short time, Snape's body, familiar as it was to me, brought me a certain constancy in my currently unsettled life. In the knowledge of what was to come, I clung firmly to him.
Breathing heavily, he detached himself from me with an expression that I couldn’t interpret. He examined my face intensely and slowly ran his thumb over my lips which had been bruised and reddened by him. I was glad that it looked as if he didn't want more because I couldn't give him more than this.
“I cannot give you a week, Lucius is getting too impatient; it is good that you already have your parents... well, whatever you have done with them! It is good that they are gone. We must break the news to Lucius gently. Draco already has a nasty idea! But you see, the blood protection is not enough,” he said forcefully. He had yet to release me from the cage of his arms.
“Will I be a prisoner there?” I asked anxiously.
“I don't believe so.” He shrugged his shoulders.
“How much time can... will you give me?” I whispered.
“Two days,” he brought himself to concede with a heavy heart. I knew then that this was the utmost I could get out of him.
“Thank you!” Relieved and exhausted, I slumped against his chest. He embraced me, which I had never thought possible until recently. How could he do something like this and how could I enjoy being so close to him after what this man had done to me? Why did it matter so little, suddenly? Why wasn't I worried, or more afraid of his closeness or touch?
He just held me silently and I enjoyed the strong feeling of security he gave me.
Eventually, we parted as if on cue.
“You have two days; then I will drag you out of the cottage if I have to! Even if I am not tied into the Fidelius, do you understand? Draco will also not be pleased that I am coming back without you,” he explained seriously, and I understood he meant it deadly seriously. In two days, I would belong to the family with body and soul.
“It's all right, Draco knows I have appointments tonight that can't be postponed. I can't leave without the planning of almost a year going down the drain! The plan is too good and I’m not so afraid of Lucius that I'm going to break it off now,” I hissed angrily.
“Such a wildcat,” it came from him, scornfully as usual.
“Very funny! But thank you very much for the two days. I will be in the cottage the day after tomorrow! Send your snake and I'll let you in,” I cheekily gave him instructions. However, he ignored my tone and just nodded in confirmation.
“Who will be there?” he wanted to know matter-of-factly. It was as if we had never kissed, as if we had not been in each other's arms.
“The Twins - they live there - Blaise, and the Greengrass sisters”, I listed as requested.
“What, what are they doing there?” he was visibly surprised. From one second to the next, he was no longer calm but agitated.
“They will keep quiet, that's why I have to go to the cottage. I have to cast the spell on the two sisters, you see,” I explained business-like. He paused.
“Indeed!” He turned around. I noticed that today, he was wearing only a long, narrow-tailed frock coat, no over-robe or cloak. He hurried away without another word, farewell or otherwise. I collapsed on the chair with this new information. Phew. In two days, I would have to face Lucius.
Great, really great. Just my luck; I could pull my hair out. I went from one catastrophe to the next.