A Day and A Night

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Chapter 1: An Auror and an Expert:

Something about this case bothered Hermione, on many levels. The brutality of the murders were enough to disturb even the most seasoned Auror, but it was something else that bothered her, and she couldn’t even define it.

Two young witches disappeared two weeks apart, on the coastal town of Glendora, in Southern Scotland. It wasn’t long after they disappeared that they were found murdered. The town was remote, on a small inlet, surrounded by water, and connected to the mainland by a narrow loch, and it was a completely magical community. More than that, it was well guarded against outsiders.

The inhabitants were known not to associate with other witches and wizards. They had their own schools, and businesses, and even considered themselves separate from the laws that were put forth by the Ministry of Magic. It was an ancient village, and the residents were known to abhor outsiders. It was founded in 1673, and it was rumored that the first populace were wizards who had powers and abilities greater than, and different from, other wizards of the United Kingdom.

Years of intermarriage and isolation left the inhabitants even wearier of outsiders, but when one archeology student, who was studying ancient runes nearby, was reported to have taken a boat across the loch to the village, and never returned, the authorities were called.

Then, two weeks later, another young girl disappeared. Finally, the Aurors found their bodies, and both were mutilated in similar fashions. The reason for death could not be determined in either case.

Not because the bodies were deeply decomposed, as one would suspect. It was because they weren’t. Neither body had decomposed at all. It appeared they both died by a salvage animal attack, and probably died due to massive hemorrhage, except that besides the wounds and the obvious state of death, neither girl’s bodies had decomposed at all. It was as if they died earlier that day, instead of months ago.

Hermione was perplexed, as were the many other pathologists witches, and wizards who had examined the bodies. The markings on the bodies were odd as well. If an animal killed these girls, (and if it wasn’t an animal, what was it?) then it was not an animal known in the Muggle or Magical world.

The bite marks were shallow, almost human, except they were deeper than human bite marks, but not deep enough to be considered animal. There were numerous claw marks, and they too were deep, but unlike an animal’s claws, each slash wound had five, not four, marks. Other slashes had two evenly spaced marks, which looked as if they could have been caused by a bird’s talons.

There was venom found in their bodies, and though numerous tests and experiments were conducted, it was not identifiable venom, so it could not be ruled as the reason for their deaths.

The oddest thing of all was that when the first body was found, it was wrapped in a white sheet, almost reverently, and placed in a shallow grave. No known animal would do such a thing. The second body, found ten days later, was found the same way.

Hermione put aside the photographs of the bodies, and pushed aside the massive amount of paperwork she had on the case, which now littered her desk. She placed her head in her hands and sighed. What terror did these girls face the moment before they died?

Harry knocked on her office door and smiled his hello. She placed all of the papers and photographs back in a folder and stuffed it in her satchel. She said, “Are you ready to go?”

“About that,” he began, “I’m not going. I’m still the Auror in charge, but it was decided by the Minister himself that a better trained Auror would go with you.”

Hermione wanted to laugh. “Who’s better trained than you?”

“Let me rephrase,” he said, with another smile, “They’re sending someone whom they think might be able to shed some light on the case, which apparently I can’t.”

“Who might that be?” she asked.

“Me.”

Hermione turned to face the person who spoke, stared into a pair of silver-blue eyes, and then turned back to Harry. Her eyes beseeched him to tell her that it was a lie, a fabrication, a joke of some type.

Sensing her ill ease, Draco said, “I’m not thrilled about this either, Granger.”

“How is he an expert?” Hermione asked Harry.

“You can address your questions to me, you know,” Draco said.

Hermione stood right in front of him, but not facing him, and she asked Harry again, “Harry, how is he an expert?”

Harry said, “I don’t know, Hermione. I’m sorry. It was decided by the Minister.” He walked by Malfoy, shouldering him hard as he walked through the doorway, and then he said to him, “One reminder, Malfoy. If one hair on her head is so much as pulled out, you’ll answer to me.”

“I think she can take care of herself, Potter, and seriously, did you have to use a hair analogy? Her hair seems to have a life of its own,” Draco said. Harry didn’t look amused. He merely walked away, back down the hall, and both Draco and Hermione stood in the doorway and watched him leave. Draco turned to Hermione and said, “He needs to get a life, he does.”

“Tell me about it,” Hermione offered. She went back over to her desk to get a few more files from the drawer, and then she said, “Are you an expert of Scottish lowlands or something?”

“The most I know about Scotland it that Hogwarts is there, they like to wear tartan, and that they talk funny,” Draco said sarcastically, taking a chair in front of her desk.

“Are you an expert on animal attacks?” she asked.

“Not in the least,” he muttered.

She sat down hard on her chair and said, “Then why you? I don’t understand.”

“The better question is, why you?” Draco asked. “You aren’t an Auror, you don’t work for the Ministry, so what do you have to offer this case that a qualified Auror can’t offer?”

She regarded him a moment and then said, “First, your qualified Aurors have been trying to solve the case for six months, and in the meantime, two families are still mourning their daughters, and are still wondering what happened to them. People everywhere feel unsafe, wondering if something similar could happen to them. Even the Muggle authorities are going to have to be called soon, if we can’t find out what happened to them.”

“Fine, fine, what a boring soliloquy, Granger.” Draco stood up and said, “But that didn’t answer my question as to why you? Don’t you write little books about ancient artifacts and such? Why you?”

Hermione said, “I’m a pathologist, but I’m also an archeologist, just like those two young girls, and I’ve even studied in that same area of Scotland before. They think I might offer some insight. In addition, I’ve been working on magical DNA and how to trace it, for years. I’ve recently won a grant to help fund my research, and the Ministry is hoping that I might use my work to help discover what happened to these girls.” She grabbed her things, her coat, and her purse, and she walked out of her office. She turned off the light, leaving Draco standing in the dark room, alone.

He caught up with her out in the car park. Pointing toward a little sports car, he said, “My car's over there.”

“Oh, are you driving? I assumed we'd travel together, but all right. I’ll follow you,” she said as she loaded her things in her boot.

“You’re coming with me, Granger,” he said with a roll of his eyes. He took her keys from her and opened the boot of her car again.

“No, I’m driving,” she insisted. She slammed her boot shut, grabbed her keys from his hand, and opened her car door. He walked behind her and closed it.

She opened it, but he stood behind her and closed it again. She turned to tell him off, but he was RIGHT behind her, close as can be, and she was mildly distracted by his nearness, and for some reason, by the scent of his aftershave.

He loomed over her, placed one hand on her shoulder, and repeated, “My car is over there.”

Three hours later, they were still driving, and Draco mumbled something. “Excuse me?” Hermione asked.

“I asked, do you have to drive so damn slow? This is a thoroughfare, Granger! You aren’t meant to go slow!”

“My car, my rules,” she said. She smiled at him sweetly, but he frowned.

“I still don’t know how I ended up in your car,” he grumbled. He glanced over at her and growled again.

“Oh, stop making noises,” she said back. She turned on the radio to drown out his vocal rumblings.

“Why are we driving, anyway?” he asked. “At this pace, it’s going to take us ten hours to get there.”

“Yes, we’ll probably have to stop on the way, overnight, and we’re driving because the whole area around Glendora is enchanted, not just the islet of Glendora, but also the surrounding lochs and inland, and even the mountains around it. I also really thought I might need my car while we’re there, hence the reason we're driving.”

“We won’t be welcomed, you know. The Aurors who went in after the first girl disappeared were almost killed by unfriendly locals. They’re a bunch of inbred elites, who think they’re above our laws,” Draco offered.

“Sort of like purebloods, huh?” she joked. He did not look the least bit amused.

He added, “Seriously, they’re an unfriendly bunch, and they’re not known for their hospitality.”

“Yeah, Harry told me. He said that they’re a very tight group, and they don’t trust outsiders, but one of my former professors from Uni gave me a name of a man who might be able to help us. He’s a local, very well respected, from the oldest family there, and his name is Milo Dorchester. Apparently, these people are deep in patriarchal rules, and since his family is the oldest family of the region, he’s sort of the head of one of the clans. My professor already wrote to him to tell him that we were coming.”

“Clans?” Draco asked. Apparently that was the only word he heard in her whole sentence. He rolled his eyes again. “They sound absolutely barbaric and like they’re from another century.” Draco picked up the folder, which Hermione had placed between the two front seats, and he thumbed through the contents.

She asked, “Tell me seriously, how are you an expert on these people? It seems I know more about them than you do.”

He shrugged again. When it was apparent that no more information was forthcoming, Hermione kept quiet. She turned off the main road, and started onto a two-lane road. After several more hours of driving, she turned to Draco and said, “It’s about fifty more kilometers to Glendora, and it’s late. Do you fancy a bite, a respite, and perhaps a nice little Inn for the night?” She smiled at her rhyme.

“Are you propositioning me, Granger?” he asked, though his tone was cool.

“Not in the least, it’s just that I’m tired, and I say we stop for the night at the closest village, and head to Glendora in the light of day.” She pulled into a small Motel, and turned off the engine.

“Since you’re the boss, I guess we’ll do whatever you want,” he complained. He was out of the car before she shut off the engine. He stormed into the office, and she remained in the seat for a moment, wondering what she had done to deserve being paired off with Draco Malfoy.

He was still a first class bully. He was still a snob. Sure, he was an Auror now, but as far as Hermione knew, he kept to himself and he really didn’t have many friends. Sometimes she saw him when she was out with Harry and Ron. She had just broken up with one of his friends, and so had seen him occasionally when she had been dating Adrian, but she and Draco had never been friends.

It was going to be a long night, and a longer investigation.

There was a knock on her window. She opened the door. “They only have one ruddy room in this flea-bitten motel!” he shouted. “And we’ll have to eat vending machine food, because the dirty little man at the counter said that nothing in this village is open this time of night, and that the closest restaurant that’s open is 23 kilometers back, which is where I wanted to stop, if you’ll remember.”

She rubbed her hand over her eyes and said, “Do you want us to drive back there?”

“No, I want to get some over-processed, cardboard food from the stupid machines, and then go to bed, where I’m sure bedbugs and fleas will feast on me all night long!” He continued to stare at her.

She said, “Well, do you mind if I use the loo in your room first, and then I’ll come back out and sleep in the car.”

“You’re so stupid, Granger,” he said, less than eloquently. “I rather think I can trust you not to molest me for one night. We can share the bloody room.”

“Me molest you?” she barked as she exited the car. “HA! That’s rich, Malfoy. Really, you’re a ruddy comedian.” She walked around toward the boot, opened it, and took out her suitcase and all the folders she had on the case. He took the folders from her hand, and threw them back in the trunk of the car, along with her satchel.

“No work. Eat, bathe and sleep, then we’ll get an early start tomorrow. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can leave, and I can get out of this nightmare.” He took her suitcase from her hand, and with hers in one hand, and his in the other hand, he cocked his head to the side and said, “Come on, Granger. Room ten is waiting for us.”

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