A Day and A Night

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Chapter 34: A Friend and a Foe:

Milo, Iver and one of their cousins found Draco and Hermione almost an hour later. Draco had no idea what time it was, but it had to be close to dawn. As soon as they entered the tunnel, Milo reached down for Hermione, and Draco let the man take her from his arms, much as he did the first night they arrived. He followed them out of the passageway, levitating the body of the dead woman along after them.

When they arrived at the basement, Draco placed the body of the dead woman with all the others. There, he found some of his fellow Aurors. He nodded to them, and then ran to catch up with Milo and the others, who were climbing the stairs to the Great Hall.

He walked through the archway, entered the hall, just as Harry Potter was taking Hermione Granger from Milo Dorchester’s arms. Harry looked at Draco, with a look of condemnation, and shame. Draco felt he deserved every look of disdain Potter threw at him, and then some.

“Someone show me to her room,” Harry said.

“I can walk, put me down now,” she said. The shock that she was in was wearing off, and she was now aware of where she was. Harry placed her feet to the floor, but she turned in his arms and hugged him tight.

He held her, looked toward the others and asked again, “Where’s her room?”

Iver motioned toward the stairs with his head. “I’ll show you.” He quickly climbed the stairs, Harry with Hermione following closely behind him.

Milo looked at Draco and asked, “Now that the Aurors are here, what will happen? What will they do to all of us?”

Draco sat on the stairs, and said, “Hell if I know, Dorchester.”

“Will they arrest my brother for the attack against Hermione? Is he still the main suspect?” Milo asked, pacing in front of Draco. Draco had never seen the other man so worried.

“No, he’s not a suspect any longer. No one is arresting anyone tonight, or I guess its daytime now, so today.” Draco rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hands. “If it was that easy to arrest the guilty party, don’t you think I would have already done it?”

“We can’t let the other clans know about Cat or the other body yet,” Milo said, mostly to himself. “I’m holding everyone together by a thread as it is. The elders will want to close off all contact with outsiders because of this, and all my work to bring our people to the modern age will be in vain.”

Draco stood up and spat, “Is that all you care about? The body count is rising, Milo! Cat, your own brother’s fiancée, a girl too young to die, only 22 years old, a girl you grew up with, was killed, and all you care about is what the other clans will think and do! Is that because if they close the village to outsiders, you know you’ll never find your mate?”

“Of course not!” Milo shouted. “Don’t push me, Malfoy! I’m on the edge!”

“This is entirely your fault!” Draco shouted back, only because he didn’t know what else to say.

“How is any of this my fault?” Milo asked, shocked.

“All of these girls were killed because someone thought they were potential mates for you! Either a jealous woman, or a man who has it in for you probably killed them!”

Milo’s mouth opened to respond, but no sound came out. “I know,” he finally said. “You think I don’t know that?”

“You had met all of the women in question, hadn’t you?” Draco asked, though it was more of an accusation. “You knew them better than you’ve let on.”

Milo nodded.

“What sort of magic do you use on them to see if they’re your mate?” inquired Draco.

“A spell of my own making. It’s a form of Legilimency. I delve into their minds, but I also have the uncanny sense of smell, and I try to…well, smell their blood. I know that sounds strange.” He sat on the stairs, where Draco had just sat, and continued. “I try to see what’s in their hearts, their minds, and I also try to picture my future with them. Usually, they don’t remember anything. To them, it happens fast. I touch them; say hello, smile, and sometimes they smile back.” He bowed his head. “Usually, they aren’t aware of time passing, though it takes at least fifteen to twenty minutes for my spell to work. It didn’t work on Hermione, though.” He smiled.

“It didn’t?” Draco asked.

Milo still smiled and said, “It made her ill.”

Draco sat next to him. “Why was that, do you suppose?”

“Maybe because she’s yours, or maybe my spell was never meant to work, and maybe by not working on her, it means she’s mine.” Milo looked directly at Draco to gauge his reaction to that statement. Draco huffed, stood up and went up the stairs. He had no response to that statement.

Iver, who was standing on the top of the stairs said, “After everything we’ve been through, do you think it’s wise to provoke him right now?” He walked down several steps.

Milo stood up and walked up the stairs. When he was level with his brother he ordered, “Come upstairs with me and get a few hours of sleep.”

“Milo,” Iver interjected, “I’m serious. I’ll give you the same advice Cat gave me. Leave her alone. She’s his.”

“Maybe she isn’t. Maybe she’s mine. Maybe I’ll make that happen. We’ll see.” He patted his brother’s arm and walked up the rest of the stairs, down the hall, and out of sight.

Iver sat on the stairs, and leaned his head against the wall. He closed his eyes, and said to himself, but aloud, “And maybe I’ll make sure that never happens, brother, the same way you made sure I would never have my mate.”

After being attended by a Healer, Hermione slept for several hours, and woke up around noon. After she had bathed, Harry walked into her room without knocking. She was slowly getting dressed. As she slipped a cardigan sweater over her blouse, she winced, her shoulder still causing her discomfort. He rushed to her to help.

He turned her to face him, smiled, a sad smile, and touched the outline of her bruised cheek. She said, “Did they tell you about the note found on Iver’s fiancée’s body?”

“Yes, I’ve taken it for evidence,” he responded. He pulled the covers up on her bed, sat down, and then took her hand. He pulled her to sit next to him.

“I was supposed to be the next victim, not her,” she said.

“That could be, I don’t know.” Harry didn’t want her to worry. He didn’t want to think about it either. “I think you should go back to London today. I’m having the rest of the evidence, and the four new bodies taken there. You can work from the University.” He stood up, resolute in his decision, and started toward the door.

“I have to finish what I started, Harry,” she replied.

He turned to face her. “And so you will, in London. We shouldn’t have let you come here. You could have died. I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if that happens. Pack your things, because you leave this afternoon.”

She stood from the bed and said, “No I don’t! I hate to tell you this, but you’re not my boss. I work for the University.”

“Maybe you do, but I still have the authority to relieve you from the case. I’m ‘Auror in Charge’, and that’s my decision to make, not yours. You either go back and work on the case from London, or stay here and do nothing more on the case. Well, I guess a third option would be go back and do nothing on the case,” he finished.

Hermione glared at him in anger and said, “You need me, Harry Potter.”

“I do,” he agreed, “In more ways than one.” He knew that she meant for the case, but he meant that he needed her to stay safe because she was important to him.

Her face softened, she smiled and took his hand. “Listen, it’s sweet of you to want to protect me, and I know it’s hard to argue that I can take care of myself when I’m all battered and bruised, and with all the other terrible things that have happened since I’ve arrived, but Harry, I’m an adult. I can take care of myself. I started this job, and I want…no, I need to finish it. For all of these women, I need to see it through.”

“Damn you, Hermione Granger,” Harry said, though he smiled. “Let’s go have some lunch, and maybe you can persuade me to let you stay.” He linked her hand through his arm and escorted her down to the dining room. She knew that meant that she was going to stay.

Draco was in the office, poring through all the evidence. He had carefully arranged little piles throughout, mostly on the table. He had pictures of all the girls, and on top of each picture, he had the piece of jewelry that was found on each body, as well as any other evidence that was connected with each victim.

For one girl, it was a journal. For another, it was a mirrored compact. One girl still had a shoe on her body. He placed each item on each picture, when he noticed something. He knelt down to examine something he had placed on a chair. It was the picture of Jennifer Cravens, Violet Edgewater’s niece. Potter obtained the picture from the village, and it was a Muggle picture, unlike the others, which were all magical. It was a picture of a pretty girl with long dark hair, smiling at the camera, and she had a necklace on in the picture, a necklace with the emblem.

However, when they found her body, it was earrings that she was wearing, not a necklace. He picked up the two small earrings and looked at them closely. Of course, since she was from Dorchester, where the jewelry came from, and Violet’s niece, it wouldn’t be farfetched to think that she might have earrings as well as a necklace, but still, something wasn’t right.

Milo identified this body as Jennifer Craven, and they took his identity of the girl as the truth. He said he had struck up a friendship with her. He said that she wasn’t even a witch. Perhaps, he lied.

He stood up to cross the room, to go find Hermione, when she came rushing into the room.

They stood there, staring at each other. He frowned when he saw the large, purple bruise on her face, and the fact that although she rushed into the room, she still limped. He hadn’t seen her since the tunnels.

“Good afternoon, Granger,” he said, rather formally. Then he swallowed. “Are you all packed to go? Potter told me he was sending you back to London.”

She licked her dry lips, shrugged and said, “Harry was persuaded to make me stay.”

He grinned, one side of his mouth higher than the other and said, “Really? Well, you usually do get your way, don’t you? Your new name is Princess Persuasion. I shouldn’t have doubted it.”

“So you want me to stay?” she asked.

“It’s alright with me if you want to,” he joked. “I don’t care one way or the other. Did you have something to tell me? You rushed in here like a bat out of hell.”

“You were running toward the door, too. Were you coming to find me, perchance?” she asked back.

“Yes, I think I’ve discovered something important,” he admitted. “What about you?”

She took a step closer to him. “I too, have discovered something of importance.”

“You go first,” he said. He reached out with one hand and cupped her cheek. He let it drop back to his side.

“I insist, you go first,” she urged. She reached toward him, pulled on the sleeve of his shirt, and then let her hand drop.

“I think it should be age before beauty,” he said with a sly smile. He grabbed her hand, gave it a squeeze, and then released it.

“I think Gentlemen should go first,” she argued. She touched his cheek with her hand; her thumb brushed across his bottom lip, and then went back to her side.

“It’s usually ladies first,” he disagreed. He leaned forward, and kissed her right cheek.

“In this case, I must insist that you go first,” she insisted. She placed both hands on his shoulders, lifted up on tiptoes, and kissed his right cheek. She fell back on her feet, and his arms went around her waist.

He shook his head and laughed. “Granger, Granger, Granger. Fine, I’ll give in to you, once again, but only because I love you so, and also, I know you’ll persuade me to do so in the end.” He let her go, but then leaned toward her without touching; his lips grazed hers with a gentle kiss. He took each of her hands in his, and then said, “I don’t think the body we found in the woods the first day is Jennifer Cravens.”

“I know it isn’t.” She smiled a somewhat cocky smile.

“Well, tell me how you know she isn’t,” he insisted.

“No, you tell me,” she said.

“Oh my stars!” he expounded. He released her hands and threw his up in the air. “Must it always be like this? Everything a struggle, a constant tug-of-war?”

She laughed and said, “Fine, I’ll go first this time.”

She sat down on one of the chairs near the worktable and moved one of his little piles from the table in front of her to an empty chair beside her. “The DNA, the Muggle DNA, doesn’t match. If Jennifer and Violet were related, as Harry found out that they were, then their DNA should match, and they don’t. That would mean one of those bodies has not been identified correctly. Since we both knew what Violet looked like, we know that the dead woman found in our room was Violet. However, neither of us ever saw Jennifer Cravens. We took Milo’s word that the body from the woods was hers. Later, Harry provided us with her picture, but we never went back to make sure it matched, besides, all the girls were so similar, and we never really compared the picture to the body. I don’t think that body was Jennifer Cravens. I think it’s the last girl. What’s her name?”

Draco walked over to the table, went through some notes, then held up a file, which had a picture attached to the front, and he said, “The last girl missing from Dorchester was named Marcella O’Brien.” Hermione took the folder from him, and removed the picture from the front.

“Give me the picture of Jennifer,” she said.

He leaned down and picked it up from the chair. He pointed toward the jewelry in the picture. “The jewelry doesn’t match either. That body had earring on, and in this picture, Jennifer has a necklace on, so that’s why I thought the body wasn’t hers.” He handed her the picture after he explained his theory and she smiled.

“I looked at this picture many times, and I didn’t even notice that,” she almost apologized. She compared the two pictures, and while there were many similarities: same colour hair and eyes, both girls very pretty, even Hermione wouldn’t have confused them for one another. “If Milo knew Jennifer, he wouldn’t have confused another girl for her. He lied to us.” Hermione looked up at him. “Is he our main suspect again, do you think?”

Someone from the doorway said, “He did lie, but I’m not sure that means he’s our main suspect.” Harry walked into the room.

Hermione turned in her chair and gasped. “You scared me Harry.”

Draco leaned forward and said in a mock whisper, “His face always scares me a bit, too. I think it’s the giant lightning bolt on his forehead that gives me the willies.”

Hermione slapped Draco’s arm and turned in her chair to face Harry. “I’m ignoring you, Malfoy,” Harry said. He sat on the side of the table, by Hermione’s arm and said, “Mr. MacNeill just identified the body you found in the tunnels as his wife. She went missing twenty-one years ago.”

“Twenty-one years?” Hermione said. “That means Cat was only one when she went missing. I thought she was older than that, I don’t know why I thought that, but I did.”

“No, twenty-one years ago, she went missing, and they never found her,” Harry explained. “She was murdered the same way as the others, exactly. I would say she was our very first victim. I also have something for you, Hermione.” Harry reached in his pocket and pulled out two small envelopes.

“What are they?”

“Hair samples from Iver and Milo. You said you wanted their DNA,” he said.

“How did you obtain it, Potter?” Draco asked. “I’d been formulating a plan to get it all day, but hadn’t yet figured out a way to do it.”

Harry smiled and said, “I told them both I needed a hair sample for Hermione, and they gladly obliged.”

Draco snorted and said sarcastically, “Well, hell, if you want to do things the easy way, okay.”

Hermione smiled and leapt from the chair and gave Harry a hug. “Thank you. I somehow think this will be important. I wish we had something with Jennifer Cravens’ DNA on it, as well as something with Marcella’s. Harry, you’ll have to get those for me. We also still need to find that last body. We have seven bodies now, the three original bodies, the one from the woods, the one the third clan found, and Cat and her mother. One more.” It was as if she was talking to herself. She began to roam around the room, biting her bottom lip, looking at the floor. Harry and Draco exchanged amused looks.

She held up her hand, pointed her finger, and said, “The jewelry is still the key, so we might be able to find her by the jewelry. I also think that Milo is at the center of this, because I think most of the women, Cat, her mother and Violet excluded, were killed because they were potential mates for him.”

She faced the window, but continued to talk. “The first murder, which had to be Cat’s mother, may have been done by someone else and the rest were copycats. Violet was killed because she was helping us, that much is apparent. Cat was killed because someone wanted to kill me. In addition, we need to find out if Cat’s mother was related to the woman who was Milo’s father’s mate. We need to find out if she’s still alive. She might be the killer, exacting revenge against Milo since she can’t exact revenge on his father and maybe against her own sister for marrying into this clan, by marrying MacNeill.”

Draco looked from Hermione to Harry again, and Harry once again did the same. Hermione looked at them at that exact moment. She snapped her fingers and said, “Pay attention, gentlemen! I’m speaking!” She began to roam the room again, still deep in thought. She crossed her arms and said, “Of course, we don’t know that MacNeill’s wife and Milo’s father’s mate were related, but I bet my last galleon that they were.” She spun around and faced them and said, “What if Milo’s parents were murdered by the same person killing all of these girls! That makes sense, doesn’t it?”

Harry smiled at Draco and said, “I don’t think she even knows we’re here anymore. When she starts thinking aloud like this, she’s in her own little world.”

She walked to the end of the table, pushed Draco aside, and picked up the journal that had belonged to Sandra Parrish. “Milo knew these girls better than he’s letting on. We already know that he lied about Jennifer, so how do we know he hasn’t lied about knowing the others.” She placed the journal back on the table, and turned back toward the window.

“I agree, Potter, she’s fascinating to watch sometimes, isn’t she?” Draco granted, as he walked around toward Harry. He leaned closer to him and said, “Rather like being at the Zoo, and watching the animals in their natural habitat.”

Hermione turned quickly, faced both men and said, “Is Jennifer Craven possibly really alive? Perhaps we’re looking for a dead woman, when we should be looking for an alive one! Come on, Gentlemen, why are you just standing there, doing nothing? We have so much work to do it makes me dizzy! Let’s go!” She pushed Harry toward the door and grabbed Draco’s hand.

After they left the office, she sealed the door with magic. She turned toward the hall, and Harry and Draco were both looking at her with smiles on her face. “I love you, Hermione,” Harry said with a laugh.

Draco turned to Harry and said, “You stupid prat, stole my line.”

Harry looked aghast and said, “You love her? When did that happen? Gads, now I’ll have to be sociable to you, I suppose. Heaven help me.”

“You think it’s going to be hard on you, Potter? I’m the one that feels physically ill every time Hermione even touches you.”

The two men started down the hall, and Hermione smiled at them as they walked in front of her. She loved both of them, too.

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