A Day and A Night

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Chapter 3: A Walk and a Hand:

Hermione had a terrible night’s sleep. She tossed and turned all night. Twice she found herself staring at Draco as he slept. He seemed to sleep like the dead. He never moved. He didn’t snore. Once his hand moved and once he murmured something, and once he moved to his side. She stared at the small mole she found so interesting earlier, and this time she even reached out and touched it. Even that didn’t wake him up.

Finally, when daylight came, she decided to forgo the act of sleep, she got up, dressed, and went for a walk. She walked around the little hamlet, which was the closest village to Glendora. She knew this was a Muggle community, so she wondered if the members of this small town would know anything about the magical village. She decided she would find out.

They were close to their destination, but without a car, she wasn’t sure how they were going to get there, since they would not be able to Apparate, due to the strange magical barrier that protected the little village. She also wondered if Apparating was something that the residents of Glendora could perform in and out of their village, since other wizards could not. She continued to walk and think as she walked the quaint streets of the small community.

She didn’t know if they could rent a car from here or not. Perhaps they could get a ride from someone. Maybe she could call her contact from the village, Milo Dorchester, and ask him to send someone for them.

She walked from the little hotel, to the main road of the town, (since she didn’t have a car) to a pub a few blocks away. The village was quiet and quaint, but it was apparent that this little establishment was a local gathering point, as it had a bustling breakfast crowd. She sat by herself in a corner booth, and ordered coffee, eggs, bacon and toast.

When the waitress brought her food to her, Hermione asked, “How much farther is it to Glendora?”

The girl openly frowned and said, “You’re not going there are ya?”

Hermione smiled and said, “Well, yes, I am. I’m an archeologist, and I’m going there because I’m writing a book on its history.” Draco and Hermione had decided the night before that their cover story for the local Muggles would be that they were archeologists from the same University as the murdered witches.

The girl sat right in Hermione’s booth, on the opposite side, and said, “Na, do not go there, Miss. It’s not a good place. Have you not heard? Two young girls were murdered there round ‘bout six months ago.”

“I know, I worked with them,” Hermione answered. She decided to continue her lie. “I’m picking up where they left off, in their findings, that is.”

The girl actually reached over and placed her hand on Hermione’s arm. “Those people in that village will not welcome ya. Ye stay away, ye hear. It’s a far way, anyway, and I heard your car was destroyed last night, so ye will have no way to go.”

Hermione removed her arm from the girl’s grasp and said, “And how would you know that?”

“It’s a small village, and my brother works for the volunteer fire division. You’re a stranger here. It was an obvious conclusion.” She smiled and stood up and said, “So really, you cannot go now, anyhow. It’s too far to walk, and ye will not find anybody from here to take ye. It's 50 kilometers from here and it would take ye almost 40 minutes to drive these roads, and it’s too far to walk.” The girl walked away, satisfied that she had deterred Hermione from going.

The problem was that nothing could deter Hermione Granger from doing anything.

Hermione found the whole conversation curious. She continued to eat when she felt a strange undercurrent throughout the little pub. She couldn’t explain it if she tried, but the air literally felt charged with electricity. She looked up, and she saw a dark-haired, handsome, younger man walk into the pub. All of the locals seemed taken aback by his presence. A few walked out the door when he entered. Most turned their attention to their food. A sort of hush filled the previously jovial crowd.

And the man stared right at Hermione.

And she stared right back.

He sat in a booth at the other end of the restaurant. He continued to stare at her with a dark, brooding look. Hermione felt slightly uncomfortable, but more than that, she felt highly aware of everything. Her skin felt on fire. The hair on the back of her neck stood up. She knew she was blushing, and she felt flushed. She started to shake, and she didn’t know why. She looked down at her food, to hide the fact that his stare unnerved her.

She took a steady breath, because she honestly felt as if she was having some sort of anxiety attack. Then, she felt a hand on her shoulder; she looked up, and gasped.

It was Malfoy.

She looked from him, over to the booth where the man was, though it was now empty. How odd.

“What’s wrong with you?” he asked, sounding more perturbed than concerned. He removed his hand from her shoulder. “I just asked you a question, and then I said your name, and you didn’t even look up until I touched your shoulder.”

She looked up at him and frowned slightly and said, “Nothing’s wrong, now what did you ask?”

“Where did you go?” Draco asked again, sitting opposite her.

“Isn’t it apparent, since you found me?” she retorted. She moved to the side, to look around him, toward the now empty booth.

“What’s wrong with you?” he asked her again. He turned his head to see where she was staring. He snapped his fingers at the waitress to get her attention and spat, “Hey, I’d like some food!”

“That’s rude,” Hermione said.

“Goodness knows I need you around to point out all my faults,” Draco said. “You already told me I was rude last night. Point out something else today. Perhaps you'd like to comment on my clothing, or my hair.” The waitress came over and he ordered breakfast. He turned to Hermione and said, “Well, I’m waiting.”

She thought for a moment and then said, “Your faults are too numerous to mention.”

“But I’m sure you’ll find a way to mention them anyway,” he mumbled. “No, I meant that I’m waiting for you to tell me where you went this morning.”

“Malfoy!” she answered, now a bit perturbed herself. “You are not that obtuse! I came here! You see me with your own eyes. I was hungry. I was also trying to find out what the locals know about Glendora.”

“Yes, well, you could have just asked me. I already know that they don’t hold it in high regard,” Draco answer, taking a sip of her coffee. She gave him a scathing look and he said, “I know, I know, I’m rude, I’m rude.” He took another drink, set it down, and said, “I asked one of the Muggle police about it last night. I told him we were archeologists, as we planned, and that the girls worked for the same University that we do, and that we wanted to go there to continue their work, and he told me that we should stay away. He said that the village was evil. Not that someone was evil, but that the village was evil. He said that no one could even go in and investigate the murders, because they just couldn’t. What does that mean?”

Hermione shrugged, because she had no clue what it meant.

Their waitress brought Draco’s food and he began to eat as she pondered that very thing even more. The local Muggle authorities knew of the murders, which were apparent, from what both the police and the waitress told them, but no one was investigating it, because of their fear of the neighboring village. She wondered if there were any wizards or witches in this village. The man that was here earlier struck Hermione as a wizard, and she wasn’t sure why.

She leaned toward Draco and asked, “Draco, did you see a tall, dark, good-looking man sitting at the first booth by the door when you entered?”

“Gads, Granger, are you trying to find a replacement for Adrian already?” he barked.

She reached over and pinched his arm.

“You witch!” he said.

She cocked her head and said, “That’s not an insult to a real witch, you moron. Tell me, did you see a dark-haired man or not?”

“No, why?” he asked.

“Never mind.” She stood up and said, “Pay my bill, will you. I’m going exploring.”

He reached out and grabbed the back of her lightweight jacket as she started to walk away. He literally pulled her back to the table, and then forced her to sit beside him on his bench. His hand went from the back of her jacket to her arm.

“First, talk about rude, Granger! That was rude. You don’t just tell someone to pay your bill. You’re not a pauper. You can pay your own bloody bill. Second, you go no where without me. For all intents and purposes, and as much as it makes bile rise to my throat just to mention it, we’re in this together.”

She looked at his hand as it held her arm tightly, then back to his face. He let her go. She said, “First, of course I’m not a pauper, but you have more money than anyone I know, and I bought the snacks last night, so I thought you'd want to buy breakfast, but never mind. I’ll pay my own bill. Second, Prince Rude, may I at least go to the ladies’ room?”

“Give me your wand.”

“What?”

“I know you won’t sneak out a window in the loo without your wand.” He held out his hand.

“We’re in a Muggle pub, you git! I can’t just hand you my wand!” She felt like hitting him upside the head.

“No one will see. Your wand, Princess Pauper,” he teased.

“I’m not a pauper,” she huffed.

“Just a princess, right? Just give me your wand, and I’ll even pay for your breakfast while you go to the toilet,” he said. He held out his hand again. She slapped it away.

“I’ll give you my word that I won’t leave, but I won’t give you my wand,” she vowed.

He held out his hand again. She slapped it a second time. She tried to stand up, but he grabbed her arm once more. He reached inside her pocket, grabbed her wand, and then said, “Go pee, Princess.”

“You’re despicable,” she said steadily. She stood up, placed her purse across her shoulder, and started toward the bathroom. She looked back once, and saw that he was ‘snapping’ at the waitress again, because he wanted another cup of coffee. She called out, “Rude, Malfoy!”

He gave her a very rude hand gesture in return, just to prove her point.

She went to the ladies’ room, found a small window, and climbed out, all without her wand and without magic. As she was climbing down the outside of the wall she said, “Take that, Prince Rude.”

She brushed off her hands and walked around to the front of the pub. She could see the little town square several blocks away. She started toward the little downtown, when a storefront caught her eye. It was a bookstore, of course.

She walked in and saw that it was a used bookstore. Perfect. She asked the old lady at the counter if they had any books on the area. She pointed toward a shelf in the back. Hermione knelt down and looked over several shelves, but saw nothing on Glendora. She stood up and went back to the counter.

“Excuse me,” she began, “I saw a few books on this village, but I was wondering if you had any on the surrounding areas.”

“Which areas are you interested in, sweetheart?” the woman asked with a smile.

“Glendora,” she answered.

The lady immediately frowned. “Why?”

“My partner and I are being sent there from our University. We’re doing some excavation and studying some of the history of that area,” she lied again.

“Did you hear that six months ago two young girls were killed there?” the lady asked. Yes, Hermione had heard. Hermione nodded. “Then why do you want to go?”

Before Hermione could answer, the old lady looked behind Hermione’s shoulder, and then she cowered back toward the wall. Hermione quickly turned and the man from the pub was standing in the doorway.

Hermione turned back toward the old lady, but she ran from the room, toward a room in the back. Hermione frowned, and turned back toward the man.

He said, “If you want to know about Glendora, no one in this village will answer any of your questions.”

Hermione thought he was another person warning her off, and she was beginning to be weary of the whole thing. She ignored the same anxious feeling that she felt earlier in the pub and said, “Listen, it’s my concern if I want to go there, so don’t try to warn me away, like everyone else in this town. If you can tell me where I might find a book or something on it, or how I might find a ride to it, then you may speak to me, but otherwise, please, don’t say a word.”

The man raised one eyebrow, in question, and then he smiled. “If you had let me finish my sentence, I was going to say that no one in this village will answer your questions, but I will, if you would like.”

“Are you not from this village?” she asked.

“Not in the least, Miss Granger,” he said. She looked confused, until he held out his hand. “My name is Milo Dorchester. I heard what happened to your vehicle, and I thought you might need a way to the village today. I could take you right now, if you'd like.”

She looked at his raised hand, but didn’t offer to shake it. He lowered it as she said, “I must get my things first, and we have to get my partner, Draco Malfoy. He’s an Auror, as I’m sure you know.”

“Oh, yes, I know of Draco Malfoy,” he said, though his smile vanished. “Perhaps I could take you to Glendora now, and he could come along later. Come along, let’s go. There's no time like the present.” He held out his hand again, but this time, it wasn’t for a handshake. It was apparent he wanted her to take his hand.

His hand was still in the air, so she placed her hand inside it, without conscious forethought. She knew immediately it was a stupid thing to do, because he was a wizard, and she didn’t know whether or not if he could Disapparate with her, but as soon as their skin touched, she felt an overwhelming feeling of apprehension mixed with worry, which she could not completely describe, but she knew the feeling wasn’t from side-along Apparition.

She felt faint, and she thought she might actually pass out. The feeling from earlier…the charge of electricity in the air, the utter feeling of anxiety, suddenly consumed her again. Most of all, she could not look away from his eyes.

He kept her hand in his, and ushered her outside the little bookstore. It bothered her how willingly she allowed him to lead her, but she felt she had to obey. He helped her to a set of stone steps, and said, “Sit down. You seem ill.”

She looked down at the cement of the sidewalk, the feeling of dread and darkness about to consume her, when she heard a man say her name.

“Granger!” Draco began to run toward her, from the far end of the street.

She looked up toward the sound of Draco’s voice, and she felt safer and more centered. She looked from Draco to the man still holding her hand.

Milo Dorchester looked toward Draco, then down at her, smiled and said, “I think your friend is calling for you. Perhaps I should allow you to make your own way to the village. Goodbye, until later.”

She closed her eyes, to ward off the overwhelming feeling of nausea that overtook her when the man let go of her hand. She opened them again, and the man was gone, and Malfoy was already by her side.

She looked up at him and said, “Tell me you saw him this time.”

Draco placed his hand on her shoulder, just as he had in the diner, and looked all around. He saw him alright. He saw him.

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