A Day and A Night

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Chapter 7: A Crowd and a Spell:

The rest of the day was strained between the Auror and the Expert. After Hermione’s bath, she had a relatively busy afternoon. She worked more on her computer, looked at the crime scene photos from the previous murders and the one from today, went to their old motel room to collection trace magical DNA from the most recent crime scene, and then she sent a secret Owl to Harry to ask him to send her the latest notes from the murder of the witch from that morning.

On the other hand, Draco’s day was boring. After contacting Harry regarding gaining permission to charm two brooms, to turn them into flyers, he watched as Hermione worked on her computer, looked at crime scene photos, collected magical DNA from their previous room, and then he watched as Hermione wrote Harry a note and sent it by secret Owl.

They didn’t talk about anything important. They were polite and courteous to each other, which was odd and stressful for both of them. When Hermione needed a file, she would say ‘please’ and he would hand it to her, so then she would say ‘thank you’. When Draco wanted to read something she had just written on her computer, he would ask her politely, she would move to the side and say ‘of course’ and he would nod his thanks.

They said words like ‘pardon’ and ‘excuse me’. They smiled plastic little smiles. They touched each other, he on her arm, she on his hand, he on her back, she on his shoulder, and though it always seemed as if it was by accident, it was deliberate on both their parts and it made them both dizzy with something close to desire.

The fact that they weren’t acting themselves made them both ill. She liked when he called her names and tried to bully her, though he never succeeded. In turn, he liked it when he flustered her, teased her, and when she would give in to him in the end.

Neither talked about the ‘almost’ kiss from earlier, which Draco now denied, and Hermione was now certain she had misread. They didn’t fight or bicker or call each other one ‘name’. All in all, it was a terrible afternoon.

When the darkness of evening finally came, early since it was now autumn, Draco decided to go back to the pub to get them some dinner. This time he asked Hermione what she wanted to eat, and this time she told him, “Anything but fish and chips.”

As he was leaving the room he paused. The whole nice thing was bordering on the ridiculous. He turned back to her and said, “Listen, why don’t we just go eat at the pub together, Princess? When we get back, we’ll pack, and leave. I already stole us some brooms, and they're charmed and ready for use, so we don’t have to wait until midnight if we don't want to wait.”

She wanted to smile because he called her Princess. It was the first time he called her anything besides Granger all afternoon. “I think that sounds like a good idea, because I don’t really relish ending up at Glendora at midnight. Do we know where we’re going once we get there?” she asked.

“To some castle called Rhodeana Castle,” Draco answered. He put on his jacket and then held hers up for her. As if it were a natural thing, she let him place her jacket on her arms. She turned once she had her arms in the sleeves and in a bizarre, intimate gesture, he buttoned the top button.

She looked down at the top button and then up to his face, but he had already turned to walk out the door.

In reality, he had rushed out the door to cover for his embarrassment at having buttoned her top button. He really didn’t know what was happening to him, but he didn’t like it one bit. He was being too nice to her, and it was too easy to be nice to her, and he was becoming more and more attracted to her, and being nice, and finding her attractive wasn’t going to do either one of them any good. He wanted things to go back to the way they were just yesterday! He wanted to find her annoying and irritating and not in the least bit attractive. He wondered if it were too late for that. He knew it probably was. He warned Potter this would probably happen it HE were the one to accompany her here. Damn that former Gryffindor.

He didn’t even wait for her. He walked down the sidewalk alone, and when he arrived at the pub, he opened the door and walked in to find that the establishment did as bustling a job in the evening as it did for breakfast. He sat at the bar and ordered a pint of ale. He looked up as the door opened and she walked in a few minutes after he did. She looked around, and when he realized that she didn’t see him he rolled his eyes, and held up his hand.

“Over here, Granger!”

She acknowledged him and walked up to the bar. “Can we sit at a table or a booth?”

“You can sit wherever you want. I’m sitting here,” he pointed out, being openly rude. He needed to distance himself from her. He needed to be rude again. He needed it! He knew he should stop and examine his feelings and that he owed her that much, but the very thought of it caused him so much pain that he could barely stand it. If he wanted to protect her, he needed to detach himself.

The barman asked him if he knew what he wanted and he ordered, turning away from her. Hermione felt slighted, but she sat next to him anyway.

“What will you be havin’ Lass?” the man asked.

“Just some water to drink and I think I’ll have the special to eat,” Hermione ordered. The man smiled at her, but before he could walk away, she asked, “Sir, can you tell us anything about Glendora?”

The man frowned and said, “Your boyfriend here already asked us about it earlier, so there’s no need for you to be askin’.”

“My boyfriend?” she questioned, completely confused. She looked over at Draco.

Draco placed his hand on her arm, which was resting on the bar, to warn her not to ask anymore questions. The man skulked away, and Draco leaned over and said, “Enough questions, Granger. Besides, I already questioned this man earlier today.”

“Well I didn’t know that, did I? Why would he assume you were my boyfriend?”

“Why would he assume I wasn’t? I could be your boyfriend if I wanted to be,” Draco pouted. He knew it sounded stupid the moment it left his mouth, and he also knew the man assumed they were together because Draco had told them so. “Anyway, I’m the one that should be offended. I’m not exactly happy that he assumed I would have someone like you for a girlfriend.”

She sighed loudly. “I’m sorry he assumed that, Malfoy,” she said sarcastically. “You could have told me you already asked around about Glendora today. You haven’t exactly been terribly forthcoming with me. In fact, you’ve barely spoken to me this afternoon. If you'd like, I'll tell the barman that we aren't dating later, okay?” She took her water and she moved to an empty booth near the front of the bar.

A large, older man walked in the bar and held up his hands. Everyone turned to look at him. “Everyone, I have an announcement.” Draco turned on his stool. “Violet Edgewater was murdered this afternoon. Her body was just found in an abandoned boat, in the loch between our village and Glendora, and the local officials say that she died the same way that those two young girls did, six months ago.”

The man looked right over at Hermione as she sat alone in a booth and he said, “You’re new to town, and you’re traveling alone, aren’t you? What are you doing in our town, Miss?”

Hermione caught Draco’s eye. She looked distressed, and suddenly he knew that his feelings weren’t paramount any longer, and damn it all, how had that changed in the course of a couple of days? She had made him care for her, and he didn’t like it one bit. He was always used to everything being about him, but right now, he wanted to shield her and comfort her and protect her, and wasn’t that a fine kettle of fish.

The metaphorical knife he felt twist in his gut at seeing her distressing gaze shook him to the core, and he knew he had to ignore the odd feelings of want and frustration if he wanted to gain his control, and if he meant to truly protect her, which she was in constant need of, apparently.

Before Hermione could answer the first man’s question, someone else spoke. “I saw you go into her store today,” a person said as they pointed at Hermione. “And you’ve been asking everyone about Glendora.”

The man who made the announcement turned to Hermione. “The constable said that Violet’s boat was coming from Glendora. Tell me, young woman, what business do you have there? Why are you asking so many questions about it? What business did you have with Violet today?”

Hermione saw at least twenty people look directly at her. She stood up and decided to continue with her cover story. She said, “I’m an archeologist, and I work for the same University that the murdered girls worked for, and I’m continuing their work. I’m heading there this evening, and as far as the murdered woman goes, well, I didn’t even know her name. I merely went into her bookstore today, and I asked her if she had any books on the place, that’s all.”

“I saw her outside the bookstore with that man from Glendora! That Dorchester man! He had her hand!” another woman yelled. She pointed her finger at Hermione as well.

Draco took a step toward her.

The barman said, “She just asked me some questions about it, too, and apparently, this chap said that Dorchester said something distressing to the young lady earlier. What did he say to you, Lass?”

“He didn’t say anything!” Hermione insisted. She started to back toward the door.

Draco felt for his wand, just in case.

“Make her show her credentials!” a man shouted. “If she works for a University, she should have some credentials!”

Two men blocked the door. One pushed Hermione toward the crowd.

The crowd started to circle around Hermione. Everyone began shouting at once. Some began to make bogus claims…”I saw her last week asking questions,”… or “I saw her on the moors with Dorchester last evening,” and one person even said, “I think she was in the boat with Violet.”

Draco moved around the back of the crowd. He didn’t know if he could stun an entire room of people, or if he could Obliviate the memories of this many people, but he knew he had to get Hermione out of here.

The man who delivered the bad news about Violet said, “Why are you really going to Glendora, woman? No more lies! Who are you?” He made the mistake of grabbing Hermione’s arm. He tugged her near him, but she pulled out her wand, and before Draco could rush to her side, she flicked her wand in the air, and then suddenly, everyone went still.

They were suspended in time. Draco looked at her with surprise and he said, “What the hell kind of spell was that?”

“The question really is, Malfoy, how long will it last?” she asked back. She held out her hand to him and nodded.

He looked at her hand, smiled and asked in return, “How long will it last?”

“Let’s put it this way, last one to our motel not only has to kiss Harry Potter on the lips, but they have to get away from a mad, angry crowd.” He took her hand, and they ran toward the door. This time he held it open for her, and they ran all the way to their motel.

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