28th September 2004, Forbidden Forest
The moon was shining bright. Her rays of light hit the trees casting creeping shadows upon the earth.
The beast was ruthlessly pursuing its prey. The creature’s steamy breaths filled the forest, scaring all other creatures away.
Hermione had been fleeing from that terrifying animal all night, her cloak flailing in the air like a leaf carried by the wind. The woman’s lungs were on fire as she struggled to breathe the heavy air. Her head was pounding while she was trying to focus on a way to survive. A sense of despair and fear was clouding her mind. Though she knew it would be a mistake to do so; her eyes, seemingly beyond her control, glanced back. The wolf was a couple of metres behind her, she knew she had no time to stop and hex it, and the curses she had shot behind her back had all missed their target. Hermione felt hopeless. She couldn’t help but to be angry at Harry and Ron for dragging her into another of their Auror missions. She was furious that they didn’t allow her to research the pack of werewolves first.
They had been investigating a series of murders and their analysis had led them to the Forbidden Forest. There had been rumours of werewolves hunting there which had sparked their interest. Obviously, Ron thought that venturing there during a full moon was the best time to find them. The plan was to locate the pack, hide in a tree and then wait until morning to interrogate them. Stupid, idiotic plan. She should have known better. As a member of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures-Beings Division, she should have stopped them and taken a more subtle approach.
They had found the pack rather easily with the help of a very reluctant Hagrid who had pointed them in the right direction. The beasts were not as expected. Hermione had suspected all along that there was more to the story than rumours had told. The bunch was mostly comprised of simple wolves, born from two werewolves that had mated during a full moon. The cubs were true wolves that could never shift into humans. However, among them was a large white wolf with a slightly shorter snout and human eyes. It was clearly a werewolf and the alpha.
As a werewolf, the creature was a highly intelligent magical being programmed to chase and kill humans. It craved their blood. The alpha began to chase the two wizards and the witch the instant that its canine nose picked up their scent, leading the pack of wolves.
The three of them had fled in the same direction. They ran close to each other for a while, but they soon decided that splitting up would give them a better chance of survival.
The big white wolf with dark slate eyes had chosen Hermione as its designated prey.
Her stream of thought was interrupted by an eardrum shattering howl. The witch saw the edge of the forest in front of her where the waters of the Black Lake were reflecting the moon's rays in a captivating way.
Hermione made an abrupt turn to the left, letting her deepest instincts guide her muscles, but the creature must have predicted her movement because she felt its presence by her side.
She caught a glimpse of a white figure coming for her. Suddenly she was on the ground with the wolf top of her. The impact with the wolf’s body forced her to the cold ground knocking the air out of her lungs.
Paws and jaws were scratching and biting her cloak. All she could feel was tugging and all she could hear was the gnashing of its teeth. She was yelling any kind of shielding and attacking incantation she knew, but nothing seemed to work on the magical creature. She knew there was no hope. She was preparing to die when the lycanthrope body suddenly stopped moving and a low whimpering sound came from its wide chest. Hermione looked up and she saw its silvery eyes looking at the sky. Following its gaze, she recognized the violet hues that preceded dawn.
The night had come to an end. The werewolf was slowly and painfully changing back to its human form. The process was disgusting to witness but mesmerizing nonetheless.
She felt every change on her skin before seeing it with her eyes. The wolf’s body was shifting against hers. Paws turned into hands with the sounds of bone cracking. Fur turned into skin. The snout got shorter and shorter, turning into a human face and the low whimpering turned into cries of pain.
Now fully human, the grey eyes locked onto hers, strands of fair blond hair fell between them.
Hermione took a sharp breath as she recognized the young man on top of her. “Malfoy?”
The wizard blinked once, then twice. Then he pushed himself up with all his strength and his shuddering body fell backwards. “Granger?” He hissed out in between heavy breaths.
Hermione’s chest was heaving with fear but she hadn't had time to notice before. She inhaled from her nose and exhaled from her mouth a couple of times to calm down.
“Are you hurt?” The concern in his voice was so genuine that the witch forgot how bad the consequences of a werewolf bite could be. The witch shook her head, even knowing that she was bruised all over, the adrenaline wouldn’t let her feel anything. Hermione’s eyes took in all of his naked body. His broad shoulders, his sculpted chest, his chiselled arms and forearms, his long muscular legs and the penis between them. She blushed but didn’t turn away.
He smirked, slowly rising from the ground and letting her take in all his compact muscles and his height. He was dirty all over. Mud and leaves were scattered over his ivory skin and hair. Light bruises stained his perfect complexion where the bones had snapped during the change.
Tiny goosebumps were rising on his arms and Hermione realized he must have been freezing. The witch sat up straight and brought a hand to her side. Her bag was still there, and in it were the supplies she had stored. She grabbed a cloak and a glass vial, handing them to Draco.
He hesitated for a while but then took the offering. “Wolfsbane? Do you often carry that with you?” he asked, tilting his head.
“I..no. I'm here on Ministry business, looking for a werewolf.” She didn't want to give away the real reason she was there. “I thought that whoever I'd have found might be in need of some help.”
Draco scoffed. “Another attempt at some rubbish like SPEW? Werewolf society this time?” He drank the potion in a gulp. He then slowly put the garment on and walked away, giving her a last simper and licking off the potion leftover on his upper lip.
“Wait! You’re a werewolf!” Hermione pulled herself up and it took all her effort to do so.
“No shit Granger, and if we are here to state the obvious, then you are suicidal. Walking these woods on a full moon, it’s plain moronic. I need my wand.” He concluded, talking more to himself than to her. He kept walking, avoiding her gaze.
“I need to find Harry and Ron. We got separated and-”
“Fuck! Of course, they are with you. Well, I guess I'm going to have to obliviate them too.”
“What?” she shrieked.
“You really thought I was going to let you walk back into the world and tell everyone what I am? I have a reputation to maintain.” He informed her, looking over his shoulder.
The witch sped up her pace and passed him with the intent to stop him, but her foot got caught on something and she fell face forward.
What she landed on sent shivers up her spine.
It was a cold human cadaver. The stiff back was covered in matted black curls. The clothes were slashed and the skin was carved with long gashes. The ribs were visible underneath the mangled flesh.
Hermione screamed and Draco pulled her up by her arm with ease.
“Were there any more suicidal people with you last night?” His face was contorted in a painful grimace as the fear of being the reason for that death crept into his mind.
“N-no.” She stuttered, trying to steady herself but he had already done it for her.
“Hermione?” A worried voice called from the distance.
“Ron! I'm here!” She hollered back.
Draco let her arm go and scoffed.
Soon after, Harry and Ron appeared from the thick vegetation. “Are you okay? We saw the werewolf following you when we split. We hexed the wolves and tried to track you down but... Malfoy?” Harry abruptly stopped his apologetic monologue when he realized who was standing next to her. He studied his scruffy appearance and his jaw fell open. “You’re the werewolf!”
“Brilliant Potter!” Draco rolled his eyes, saying Harry’s name like he was spitting something foul out of his mouth.
“Bloody hell.” Finally, Ron saw the body on the ground. He approached it slowly and turned it over.
The three Gryffindors gasped at the same time. Malfoy shrugged.
“It's... it's…” Ron stammered.
“Romilda Vane.” Harry finished for him.
“Check her mouth, please,” Ron asked while aiming his wand at Draco. He didn’t want to touch that cold corpse again.
“It's here. Red this time.” Harry said, removing a little scarlet origami from her mouth. The magic piece of paper, folded to resemble a wolf, ran a couple of laps on the palm of his hand letting out a creepy laugh.
“Malfoy, you are under arrest. Please, don't resist.” Harry declared while extracting his wand.
The wandless wizard knew he had no options but surrender. He was clearly the prime suspect, even if he would have never remembered doing it.
Case number ᚫᚴ37ᚾ0ᛦ
Officers in charge: Potter, Weasley
Victim: Augustus Rookwood. 31st of July 2004
Cause of death: Exsanguination. Deep claw marks to the chest.
Discovery details: Found by Muggles in Kensington Gardens, Obliviation performed.
Calling card in victim's throat. Enchanted Wolf origami. Slytherin symbol on one side, riddle on the other: You might have nine but they will all be mine.
Daily Prophet 30th August 2004
Lycanthrope strikes again
Another gruesome murder flusters London
By Rita Skeeter
Another body was found in the misty morning, displayed in the very core of the Ministry of Magic this time.
The victim, the infamous Dolores Umbridge, was found face down in the fountain of Magical Brethren. The slashes on her body pointed to another werewolf attack. Rumours are that the killer had left another calling card. A yellow origami wolf bearing a clue about the next murder.
We can say with a strong degree of certainty that we have a serial killer on the loose in wizarding London.
Let’s not forget the first victim, Augustus Rookwood, former Death Eater on the run since You-Know-Whose defeat.
The Muggles that made the macabre discovery-causing a diplomatic incident- found not only the corpse but also a magic green origami wolf.
We all shall hope that Auror Potter, our Golden Boy, will be able to apprehend the killer before they strike again!
Harry snapped the folder shut with a frustrated growl. He then reached inside the evidence box and retrieved a crumpled looking piece of yellow paper.
All you do will be in vain. Vane. Romilda Vane.
A sense of guilt engulfed the Auror while he asked himself how he could have prevented the assassination of his fellow Gryffindor. His eyes fell on the scarlet wolf, still enchanted and running all over his desk. His wand moved rapidly, extinguishing the magic in it.
Once the piece of paper was completely unfolded a Gryffindor emblem and a new riddle revealed.
Dark is the night of the one who ate death. Dead is the night.
It didn’t make any more sense to him than the previous riddle. Logically, it meant that another Death Eater’s life was at stake but which of Voldemort’s followers was about to die, Harry didn’t know.
Nothing made sense, not even the colours of the wolves. He had thought that the green one on Rookwood had something to do with his house at Hogwarts as the deceased had been a Slytherin, but then Umbridge died and it no longer made sense. Inside the former professor’s mouth, there was a yellow Hufflepuff wolf. Umbridge had been a Slytherin.
“Blueberry muffin? You look like you could relax for a second.”
Harry jumped in his chair.
Ginny was leaning on the door frame, with a delicious looking dessert in hand.
Harry’s face relaxed instantly and his mouth opened in a relieved smile. “Is that from the bakery down the street? It’s my favourite.”
“Yep. I know you, Harry.” The witch winked, moving through the room, her long red hair bouncing on her shoulders. Ginny planted a kiss on Harry’s lips and sat on his lap. “I missed you last night. How did it go?”
Harry sighed and grabbed the muffin from Ginny’s hand. “We found another body, unfortunately, but we have a suspect in custody at least.”
Ginny watched her boyfriend taking a bite of his treat. “Tell me more.” She requested, stroking the hair on the back of his head.
“ I can’t. Sorry. I have to go meet Robards.”
Ginny pouted and unwillingly stood back up, letting Harry walk out of his office.
Robards was standing in front of the interrogation room, fidgeting with a vial of Veritaserum.
“That won’t work on Malfoy, sir. He’s a skilled Occlumens.”
The wizard looked at the younger Auror, a frown creasing his forehead. “Potter, I know. We have to release him. There’s no blood on him. No motive. No evidence whatsoever and Miss Granger already gave a statement on the suspect's whereabouts last night. He has an alibi.”
Harry scoffed in frustration. “Sir, we could at least ask him if he knows other werewolves-”
“I did and he denied it. I also asked him to be a part of your team for the remainder of this investigation. I need this killer captured and it looks like you need all the help you can get.”
The boy who had defeated Voldemort felt the hit to his pride. He opened his mouth to retort, but his superior continued, adjusting a strand of greying red hair behind his ear.
“The Minister will have my head if these murders keep happening. Release Malfoy, his knowledge on those monsters will be crucial. Trust me.” With a pat on Harry’s shoulder, Robards was gone.
When the Auror entered the room he found his old school rival leaned back in the chair with his feet on the table and arms crossed.
“Potter, you took your sweet time.”
Harry didn’t take the bait. He was not in the mood for banter. “Robards told me that you will be part of my team.” He stressed the possessive preposition so that Malfoy would know he would be his subordinate.
“Oh yeah, about that...I will help on a condition.” Draco smirked, stroking his lower lip with his thumb.
“I wouldn’t expect any less from you.” Harry prompted him to make his request with a hand gesture.
Draco swung his feet off the table and sat straight up, suddenly very serious. “Nobody will know of my sickness. Delete my name from your records.”
Harry nodded, shrugging. He didn’t care about exposing him, but at least he had something to hold against him. A wand wave released Draco’s wrists from the magical cuffs.
The former Slytherin rose and quickly reached the door, only to stop on the threshold. “Make sure everybody gets the message. Especially the ginger.” Draco left the Ministry in a hurry, eager to go back to the Forbidden Forest and find his wand and clothes. He walked with his head low, trying to conceal his face with the hood of his cloak, hoping nobody would notice that he wasn’t even wearing shoes.
Draco spent the rest of the week studying the case files Potter had sent him via owl. This series of murders was actually an interesting twist in his boring office life. As the wizard was focusing on the meaning of the last riddle, his house-elf interrupted him, announcing that he had a guest.
The girl with the bushy head of walnut curls entered his office, dressed in Muggle clothing. A simple outfit of jeans and a blue button-up shirt.
“Well, couldn’t you wait for the meeting at the Auror Department to see me?” Draco asked, leaning back in his dragon-leather chair and sneering as he saw her getting uncomfortable at the question. He grabbed his wand and summoned a chair for her to sit on at the other side of his desk.
Hermione shuffled in her purse for a while until she found her neatly organized work binder. She placed it on the table before Draco then seated herself. “I’m here to ask you to cooperate with the Beings Division at the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. I have been trying to push the motion to classify werewolves as beings and reinstate the Werewolf Support Services.” Her amber eyes were shining with pride but she quickly scowled at Draco after he started laughing at her. She watched his face light up with pure amusement and she couldn’t help but notice the way his eyes had brightened with a mesmerizing shade of azure. Her Gryffindor dignity made her cross her arms and glare at him with a daring look.
He quickly stopped his laughter and sat forward in his chair, putting his elbows on the desk and sliding Hermione’s folder right back into her lap with a silent incantation. “I don’t need to read it. Didn’t you get the memo from Potter? Nobody is to find out what I am.”
Hermione grabbed her own wand and levitated her documents over to him. “You would not need to be exposed but your name as a sponsor would shift the purebloods’ opinion on the matter. Your name, regardless of the fact that I find it unbelievable, still means something.”
Another flick of Draco’s wand and Hermione’s work disappeared altogether. “I hope you have a copy of that.” He smirked at the way her face grimaced. “You know very well I won’t be involved in this.” Draco rose from his chair and walked behind her with elegant strides.
Hermione was painfully aware of his gaze on her. She could feel it crawling over her skin.
“Let’s get to the real reason why you are here.”
She felt his hands squeezing her upper arms and a pleasant shiver told her his mouth was breathing next to her throat.
“I can smell it on you.” The werewolf whispered in her ear.
She blushed as the raw power of those words hit her stomach. She felt his lips smiling on her ear. Draco’s hands slid up her arms, stroking her shoulders and collarbone. His right hand unbuttoned the first two buttons on her shirt. The cotton material tickled her shoulders while he slid the garment off her, his fingers trailing after it. Hermione groaned in pain when he touched a sore spot on her collarbone. Draco’s arms stiffened when his eyes met the deep bite mark he had left on her. He had known he would have found it, he just didn’t expect that he was able to do that much damage. “Why did you hide that for a week from me? Gryffindor pride or something?” he hissed.
Hermione freed herself from his touch and stood up, turning to face him. A sudden rage took over her and she finally let go of the anger and the shame she had felt the past week. Big warm tears fell from her eyes as her chest heaved. She had fought the need to see him for a week as she was craving his presence for some unexplained reason. She had suffered silently, alone, until she had decided to go to his flat with a stupid excuse. She needed him to help her cope with the fear that had been eating away at her mind. “Do you have any idea how I felt the day after you bit me, knowing my life has changed forever? I just turned twenty-five!” She shouted at him in between sobs.
Draco braced his stomach with one arm while the other hand rose to his mouth and slightly pinched his lower lip, a sad smile tugging at the side of his mouth. “On June first 1996 it was a full moon and the Dark Lord kindly gifted me with a visit from his pet, Fenrir. Four days later I turned sixteen.” His unapologetic retort caught her unprepared.
“You are not even going to say you are sorry?” The words came out in a whisper.
“I won’t apologize for something I possess no control over. The only thing I’m sorry about is the fact that it had to be you who put herself in the path of a wolf. Now we are stuck together.”
Hermione felt defeated and weak. She wasn’t sure what she had hoped to find in him, maybe some guidance in a world that was so new to her but all she received was disappointment and accusations. The witch lowered her eyes and moved towards the door. “I won’t bother you again.”
He grabbed her arm firmly, moving quickly, stopping her. “We both know it’s a lie. I’m the one who sired you. You need me. You crave my presence. It’s the most animalistic instinct you’ll ever feel. I hated Greyback but he was my mentor and I often sought his advice.”
“I don’t need you.” She replied, perhaps too quickly.
“Your body says otherwise.” With a swift movement, he spun her around and she was in his arms. “You want me. I can smell that too.”
Hermione moaned in his mouth as he pressed his lips on hers. Something in the back of her mind still told her hands to push on his chest but he held her still, a hand strongly gripping the back of her head and a hand pressing on her back, just above her bottom.
The movements of his tongue inside her mouth sent electric signals to her very core. The hand, that was resting above her buttocks, stroked it on its way to the front of her jeans. He quickly popped the button open and slipped inside her knickers. A low growl escaped his mouth when he found her wet and ready. He slid two fingers inside of her and started pumping.
Her moans were driving him insane. She wanted more but he abruptly stopped their kiss and locked eyes with her, a crooked grin on his lips. “I know there are many reasons why I should not be doing this. But nature is a bitch. Stop me if you want.”
Hermione bit her bottom lip and her hands trailed down his stomach until they reached his trousers. She undid the zipper and got rid of the thin layer that was separating her from his big hard cock.
He didn’t give her the time to touch him. He spun her around again, bending her over his desk as he pulled her jeans and knickers down. Draco took her with so much force that she had to brace herself on the corners of the desk to avoid falling off. Her legs had become suddenly weak. His thrusts inside her were deep and powerful, and she quickly reached an overwhelming orgasm that made her scream. As she was contracting around him, Draco found his release as well. “I told you...animal instincts…” he whispered between heavy breaths.
Hermione froze, suddenly aware that she had let herself surrender to her primal desire and she suddenly felt ashamed. She remembered all the good reasons why Malfoy was the worst wizard to be getting involved with.
He pulled out of her and she pulled her jeans up, mumbling an excuse and running out of his office.
“See you at the meeting tomorrow!” He shouted behind her and he licked his fingers off with a satisfied smirk, tasting some more of her.
6th October 2004-Potter’s Office
“The killer is obviously a werewolf vigilante,” Ron stated, confidently.
Draco scoffed from where he was standing over Potter’s desk. “Romilda Vane looks like a merciless criminal indeed.” He mocked.
Harry shuffled his dossier and pinched the bridge of his nose.
Hermione, crossing her legs and looking very uncomfortable, puzzled the three calling cards together. She’d been trying to look everywhere but in Draco’s direction.
The composition of three house emblems resembled the Hogwarts crest itself.
“This murderer is someone very fond of Hogwarts history and culture. The details of these drawings are admirable.” The witch stated.
“Are you confessing, Granger?” Draco insinuated.
She felt her cheeks getting warmer. “What do the victims have in common?” She asked, trying to remain composed as she looked at Draco’s hands and the enticing way he was playing with his thumb ring.
“Nothing.” Draco pointed out and he continued, gazing at Ron. “And I can tell you for certain that even if the wounds are obviously the work of a lycanthrope, the mastermind behind this is not the werewolf. I black out during the full moon. There’s no way someone could plan and commit these murders without the help of a non-infected person. We are looking for two killers. Or a hitman that is using an unsuspecting wolf by luring their victims to the beast.”
Ron raised one of his eyebrows and crossed his arms. “There’s no innocent wolf, you wanker! George helped Lupin once. Remus could remember chasing his friends’ Animagus forms during his transformation.”
Draco took a step toward the Auror, glaring at him.
A scroll flew in and Harry caught it. Unrolling it, he read it quickly. “It’s the autopsy report from St Mungo’s. They found a long red hair on Romilda.”
Harry and Hermione looked at each other and had a quick wordless conversation.
“Ron, how’s George been lately?” Hermione worded the question cautiously.
“Depressed and unstable, he goes to St Mungo’s mental ward often and…” Ron’s eyes went wide as he gazed between his two best friends frantically, his face grimacing and deeply offended. “Bloody hell! You can’t possibly think it’s him!”
Draco couldn’t contain a chuckle. Hermione scowled at him, shaking her head to suggest he stop it.
Harry sighed and stepped toward his fellow Auror, who was now pacing back and forth. “Rockwood killed Fred, Umbridge had physically punished the twins multiple times and Romilda used the love potion that led us to Slughorn’s office, where you almost died, Ron. He knows Hogwarts so well and he likes to play games and joke, the calling cards-”
“He hated school! He is not a werewolf and he doesn’t know any! Just let me talk to him.” The redhead yelled.
“No, I’m sorry, you can’t interrogate a family member. I’ll go to his flat with Robards. You wait here for me, please.” Harry instructed.
“Bollocks, Harry! I’m going home. Mum deserves to hear this from me. I’ll be there, waiting for an owl with your apologies!” Ron shouted storming out of the office.
Harry exhaled loudly like he had been holding his breath for a while, adjusting his glasses on his nose.
“Well,” Draco began, “as much as I enjoyed watching the Trio implode and the way you just crushed Weasley’s feelings, I’m hungry.” Then he proceeded to leave, only to stop and turn back. “Granger, care to join me for lunch?”
Hermione’s jaw dropped and Harry’s eyebrow shot way up in his forehead. Surprisingly, the Chosen One didn’t say anything and he just waived both of them off and went to find Robards.
Draco and Hermione sat at a little round table in a cafe, each with their own coffee and a bloody steak.
“It was fascinating to see you lose control. I know you are an uptight control freak, it must have felt good to just let go for once.”
Draco’s words almost made her choke on her beverage, as images of their encounter floated in her mind.
He licked his bottom lip, snickering and enjoying the way her skin turned red. “Anyway,“ he continued after taking a long sip from his mug. “We should actually talk about the monsters inside of us. I’m sure you already sacked the Ministry archives and read every book on lycanthropy, but there’s something those books could never teach you.”
“How to accept yourself. Shame anger and fear come with the condition. I had to learn to live with my problem with little aid but you have me and I’ll help you accept what you are. It took me months to stop being scared and perhaps years to learn to let go of my anger. Shame lasted the longest for me and I still feel it sometimes. If people knew what I am, the Malfoy name would be finished.”
Hermione took a bite of her steak. “Do you always go back to Hogwarts?”
“Yes, mainly because no one goes there at night...at least I thought nobody would be that careless.” He winked at her.
“Oh my god! The forest! Why haven't I thought about it before!” Her eyes glazed over as she thought.
“Granger, stop that spinning brain of yours and include me in your reasoning,” he said grabbing her hand.
“Come with me.” She pulled him up and dragged him away.
Back at the Ministry Harry was exiting the interrogation room, shaking his head in frustration and scruffing his hair. George didn’t have an alibi for any of the nights of the crimes and Robards had ordered his incarceration until the next full moon. Harry had tried to dissuade him but he had been inflexible. When he entered his office, he found Draco and Hermione bent over his desk, shuffling through the case folder. Harry observed their interaction with astonishment, as they finished each other sentences.
“The first two murders happened in London.” Draco started.
“But the third was in the Forbidden Forest.” Hermione finished.
“Totally unrelated, unless-”
“The killer wanted us to find the bodies.”
“Wasn’t Potter’s birthday the day of the first murder?”
“Yes, and we were celebrating in a pub next to Kensington Gardens! On the day Umbridge was found Harry had an appointment with Skeeter at the fountain to release a statement!”
“Somebody is toying with Potter!”
“Did anybody know where to find him all three times?”
Harry watched them as they inched nearer to each other at every sentence, their lips were getting dangerously close. Really embarrassed by the scene displaying before him, Harry cleared his throat and Hermione’s head snapped sideways, locking eyes with her best friend.
Draco straightened his back and put his hands in his pockets.
“You getting along is creepy. Anyway, there aren’t many people that knew where I was. You, Ron, Ginny and Robards.” Harry walked closer to his desk and observed the green, yellow and scarlet calling cards. The clue struck him and he slapped his forehead. The young Auror leaned toward Hermione and Draco and whispered. “I went to Robards’ house once. He is obsessed with Hogwarts. He has memorabilia from all four houses!” Harry brought a hand to his mouth.
“Merlin’s arse! His hair is red!” Shouted Hermione.
Draco grinned at her. “I need to teach you how to swear, Granger.” His grey eyes, then, locked into Potter’s green ones and he said, “Robards captured Greyback once. He was a young Auror then. Maybe Fenrir put him in contact with other werewolves.”
“We need to set him up next full moon,” Hermione suggested, frowning when she realized she wouldn’t be able to partake in the mission.
28th October 2004-Robards’ residence garden
“Don’t you think Death should have enchanted this cloak to adapt to the size of whoever is wearing it?” Ron complained while he tugged on the lower hem of the garment, trying to cover his feet.
Harry chuckled, casting the Muffliato charm.
As they settled themselves behind a bush in front of Robards’ residence, Harry offered Ron a piece of raspberry jam Roly-Poly that Ginny had baked for them.
From their position, they could see their superior sitting in an armchair in his studio and reading an ancient looking tome.
“I’m glad you decided to come with me. I feel so bad for George. Sorry-”
“You’ve been apologizing for weeks, enough already. I know it’s deplorable to say but I hope there’s a murder tonight just to prove George’s innocence.”
Harry nodded, gazing at the swirl of raspberry in the sponge.
Ron took a bite and his blue eyes lit up. “Merlin’s sweet beard,” he hummed in contempt, “Ginny used mum’s recipe! I need to find a girlfriend that cooks for me.”
They kept watch in silence for a while, enjoying the treat, until Ron aimed his gaze at the sky. The moon was a full grey circle. “I can’t believe Malfoy turned Hermione into a werewolf. I hope she’s okay.”
“Of course she’s not, but at least she’s not alone tonight. Although I wish she were here.”
Robards stood and poured himself a glass of Firewhiskey.
“Malfoy is an arsehole. If Hermione hadn’t put herself between my fist and his jaw, the day she told us, I’d have wiped that bloody sneer off his face for good.” Ron huffed.
“Have you noticed how he always seems to be protective of her though? The way he positions himself to shield her when we walk down the Ministry lobby. And she always looks up to him in awe.” Harry’s eyes were locked on Robards, so he didn’t notice that Ron’s brow had cocked up.
“You’ve always noticed the weirdest shite, Harry.”
“I did a little research. Hermione would be proud.” He chortled. “Usually the victims hate their creators, even if they want to be around them for guidance and protection. But, if sire and victim are of opposite sex, they often develop a strong sexual attraction toward each other.”
Ron’s face contracted in a look of pure disgust and he restored his third piece of Roly-Poly in its container. “Ewww.” Ron didn’t have time to voice his disgust with better words, because someone screamed, shattering the night silence.
The two Aurors saw the Head of their Department extracting his wand and running outside his house with a concerned look on his face. They immediately followed him, still covered by the invisibility cloak, while he tracked down the source of that sound.
In a narrow dark alley behind Robards’ building, there were an old woman and her little dog. They were both scared and shivering and when she saw Robards she pointed at something not far.
Behind a rubbish bin, there were scattered pieces of what was once a human body. Every inch of the visible skin looked like it had been chewed up by large jaws and the torso was missing chunks of flesh and bones. The head of the victim, attached to the neck by just a little strand of tendons, was covered in fresh blood but the terror that distorted the face lines was still visible.
“Merlin bollocks. He was eaten alive!” Ron shouted as he and Harry both emerged from nowhere, causing the old lady to let out another scream.
“Potter? Weasley? What are you two doing here?” Robards questioned lowering the wand that he had instinctively raised toward them.
“Long story, sir. Let me obliviate this lady and then we can talk.”
While Harry approached the Muggle, Ron spotted a bushy red tail with a white tip behind the rubbish bin. “A Fox?” And he watched the little animal disappearing into the dark alley.
“Yes, London has plenty of them. I hope it didn’t tamper with the evidence.” He opened the dead wizard’s mouth with a groan and extracted an origami wolf, it was blue this time. Robards’ shot an incantation and stopped the jumping laughing wolf, therefore, he unfolded the parchment.
Four corpses. Four houses united. The Dark of the Four Horsemen will take me too.
Harry, who had joined them in the meantime, gasped when he saw the deceased at the light of his Lumos. “It’s Nott Senior! He was there when Voldemort returned during the Triwizard Tournament. And I also know him from the battle at the Department of Mysteries!”
Hermione was laying on a bed of dry leaves. She could sense she was awake but her eyelids were too heavy and sore to be lifted. Her body was aching so much she couldn’t pinpoint where she was hurt. Everywhere, she assumed. She felt a movement against her side and she finally managed to open her eyes.
Draco was lying next to her, his legs intertwined with hers. His grey eyes looked into her brown ones, a grin spreading on his lips. “You look delicious.” He hissed leaning toward her and touching her temple with his lips.
A furrow creased her forehead as she doubted she looked anything but ruffled.
“I never thought changing with someone would make such a huge difference. I actually remember running and hunting with you. I never remembered anything before, even if I ran with the pack of wolves in this forest.”
“I can’t remember anything but pain. It hurt so much.”
Draco leaned in again and kissed her. A tender and meaningful kiss that made her feel strangely safe and warm. Her feelings for him had grown in the past month and she was afraid that after the closure of the case she would have had to see him only once a month. “Have you ever thought about my proposal to fund my project?”
“Granger, is that really what you are thinking now?” He fixed his grey eyes on hers like he was trying to read her mind.
“Let’s just go back to London, I need to talk to Harry and Ron.” The witch pretended she didn’t see him making a face at the mention of her best friends and she stood up and started walking away, searching for their belongings.
Back in Potter’s office Harry and Ron had just experienced how furious Robards could get if his subjects went behind his back. They were lucky to still be able to call themselves Aurors.
Draco and Hermione found them silent, each standing awkwardly at opposite sides of the room. After Harry filled them in on last night's murder and lack of evidence against the Head Auror, Ron commented on how mangled this body was compared to the others. “I thought Rookwood’s corpse looked bad with his chest all carved out and all, but Merlin, Nott’s has been ravished.”
Suddenly Draco's eyes went wide and he gasped saying, “Wait...Shite!” And he began pacing Potter’s office, shaking his head and talking to himself, repeatedly saying that it was not possible.
“Malfoy! What are you rambling about?”
“I just remembered something. Rookwood was a werewolf. I know this because Fenrir was jealous of him. Being a pureblood, he was closer to the Dark Lord.”
“You lied to Robards!” Harry accused.
“He asked me if I knew a werewolf that could have done it. The ones I know are all dead. Moreover, I just remembered it.”
“Why is it relevant then?” Hermione wondered.
Draco grabbed the case folder from the desk and looked for the Daily Prophet article on Umbridge murder. “See this in the picture? Right behind you Potter.”
Harry studied the magical portrait of Skeeter and him. The green-eyed man inhaled sharply when he saw the tall wizard behind himself.
“Greyback always bragged about the way werewolves bit the sons of whoever failed the Dark Lord. I always thought he was just talking about Lupin and myself. I wonder if Theodore got bit by Rookwood because Mr Nott failed to retrieve the prophecy as my father did. Theo likes riddles, the hat wanted to sort him into Ravenclaw, but he didn’t want to upset his abusive father. He loves Hogwarts and all the houses. It was his safe haven. He was always talking about house unity and similar dragon dung. The four calling cards assembled together look like Hogwarts crest, the four houses united. He wrote it also in his last riddle. Shite, the ‘night’ in the previous riddle was Nott! Nott means night.”
“Theodore Nott is our killer! He hated his father and this led him to hate the werewolf who turned him and let’s face it everybody loathed Umbridge. We should all thank him for that one.” Hermione said.
Draco gave her an appreciative nod, proud of her very Slytherin remarks about the former Hogwarts professor.
“Vane, though, her death doesn’t make sense. Maybe the second killer wanted her gone.” Ron pointed out.
Harry’s face went white. He sank in his chair because his legs couldn’t keep him up anymore. He took his glasses off, tossing them on the desk and hid his face behind his hands.
“What’s wrong, Harry?” Ron asked.
“Romilda had a crush on me. She had applied for a job here at the Ministry back in June and the day of her interview I ran into her. She asked me out on a date.” Harry explained but it didn’t make sense to any of them.
“What are you talking about?” His fellow Auror was very confused.
“Ginny made a huge scene when I told her! Ron, isn’t it funny? George is innocent but another one of your siblings is a killer!” The Boy Who Lived was now laughing hysterically and looked like he might not survive this.
“She was with you on the night of the first murder. Remember? We went out drinking for your birthday!” Ron said shaking his head, a sad frown on his face.
“Ron, you were legless, you never saw Ginny leaving! She said she wasn’t feeling good and she left the pub! It was before dusk.” Hermione pitched in, also in a hysterical rambling.
“She knew where I would be on every full moon because I’m stupid enough to tell her more details about my cases than she needs to know.” Harry had stopped laughing and was now whispering, trying to contain the emotions from escaping, either in the shape of tears or in an explosion of anger.
“You are not making any sense. Why would she work with Nott?” Ron desperately tried to dispute the theory one more time.
“They are friends.” Draco finally joined the discussion.
They all turned to look at him.
“It happened during seventh year. Theo refused to practice the Cruciatus curse on her during one of Carrow’s lessons and they got detention together. I think the Carrows tortured them both. Since that day, I often saw the two of them together. He knew where the DA was hiding towards the end, but he never betrayed her.”
“Well, fuck.” Ron punched the wall. “My sister likes origami too. Her room at the Burrow was full of the damn things! She liked to create birds and make them fly with magic, even before getting the letter.” The younger of the Weasley brothers finally gave in and provided the last detail that incriminated Ginny Weasley as the second killer.
Hermione read the last riddle out loud, more to try to think of something that wasn’t her best friend’s distraught face.
Four corpses. Four houses united. The Dark of the Four Horsemen will take me too.
“You Aurors should hurry and go arrest them. That last riddle points to Nott committing suicide, I doubt he’ll wait till next full moon.”
“Just let me go home and talk to her.” Harry wasn’t thinking straight.
“I’m sorry mate, another team should handle my sister, we can’t interrogate friends and family. You know the rules.”
Harry sunk lower in his chair, but then a sudden determination sparked in his green eyes and he rose, grabbing his glasses and his wand. “Let’s go get Nott!”
Potter, Robards, Granger, Malfoy, and Weasley, with a half dozen other Aurors, entered Nott Manor at dawn on Halloween. They found the killer in the drawing room and he looked like he had been awaiting their arrival.
He was lounging on a leather sofa, with a smirk on his face. On in lap sat a fluffy reddish animal, a fox, and Theo was gently petting the back of its ears. On the coffee table in front of the couch, there were two empty glasses of mead. He greeted Harry with a smile and the Auror noticed that the man looked amazingly like him. Black scruffy hair and deep green eyes. He wondered if Ginny found in him a substitute for a boyfriend that had left her alone and disappeared into the woods for months.
“Potter, you defeated Voldemort and you couldn’t figure out that your own girlfriend was running around with a werewolf, killing people.”
Ron grabbed Harry’s shoulder, stopping him from leaping over the coffee table to punch the killer.
“You are under arrest.” Stated Robards while slowly approaching the criminal, wand aimed at his chest, while the other Aurors surrounded him.
Draco and Hermione remained at the threshold, as instructed. Their wands were ready too.
Theo cocked his head, his hands were still stroking the fox. “Let’s talk first.” He hissed, looking at Harry and then Ron.
“Why did you do it?” The redhead queried, trying to keep an unbroken tone in his voice, even if he just wanted to give Nott a beating as well.
“I hate my father's guts!” Theo shouted glancing at Malfoy. Then he exploded in an evil deranged laugh, the kind that gives goosebumps to whoever witnessed it. “Fuck, I ate my father’s guts.” Subsequently, his laughter stopped and his gaze moved from Draco to the little animal in his lap, suddenly sorrowful. “Rookwood made a monster out of me, although my father’s abuses helped too. Umbridge and the girl were Ginny’s idea. Nobody misses the old bat!” Another demented laugh deformed the noble traits on his face. “You are welcome!” Theodore concluded, lifting his chin with pride.
“Why the riddles and the display of the bodies?” Ron was trying his best to conceal the shivers that had taken over him after he found out that Ginny had personally chosen two victims.
“I like to draw...” Theo said shrugging his shoulders, “my reproductions of the Hogwarts crests were perfect but who gives a shite, right?” He scratched the fox’s head, chuckling and the animal seemed to laugh as well. “I wanted people to talk about it and to know someone still cares about capturing Death Eaters! You Aurors stopped looking for them and to the ones that you captured the Wizengamot gave laughable sentences. Some got even released! So I thought calling cards would have ignited people’s interest! I was right. I need to send Skeeter some chocolates for her heartfelt articles.”
“We have everything we need.” Harry finally said, stepping toward Theo.
The fox jumped from his lap to the coffee table, putting itself between Nott and Harry.
Theo rose and so did all the wands in the room. “Ginny, I’m sorry. I’m done.”
Multiple sets of eyes began searching the room for the Weasley sister, but she was not there.
Then everything happened really fast.
Theo extracted his wand and disarmed the Auror that was standing closest to him.
Robards threw a Stunning Spell at Nott, who dodged it then quickly responding with the Killing Curse.
Harry pushed his superior out of the way while several Aurors shouted “Avada Kedavra” towards Theo.
The little fox that had been observing everything from the table, squeezed her eyes closed, focussing. In a magical whoosh, she turned into a red-headed woman. She launched herself in front of Theo casting a shielding charm that protected him from the green lights.
“Ginny?” Hermione gasped.
A small tug at the corner of Ginny’s lips was the first telling sign of the madness inside the witch. “He saved my life when Alecto wanted me dead. You won’t touch him.”
“Ginny, I don’t care if I die.” Nott voiced out, cupping her freckled face with his hands.
“I do.” Her firm response left everybody astonished.
Harry was gasping for air but he managed to ask: “Are you in love with him?”
Ginny’s chin snapped upward and she nodded, a large smile upon her face. “I love you both. I did this for you both.” Ginny sighed but then chuckled like a mad woman. “Theo needed to kill the men that ruined his life so I helped him find closure and then I placed the bodies for Harry to find. It took you a while to understand.” She grinned at Harry.
Hermione stepped into the room and Draco followed her, shielding her with a protective spell. “Why?” Hermione asked between sobs. “Hasn’t Harry suffered enough in his life? Now he’ll lose you too.”
“I wanted him to know that I am capable! He shouldn’t have left me behind!” She screamed.
Robards had listened to everything, but he still needed a motive from her. “Why Umbridge and Vane?”
“After Voldemort, Umbridge is the one that hurt Harry the most! He has scars because of her! Moreover, she called him a liar in front of all the wizarding world! As far as Romilda goes...I put that bitch in her place before she fed Harry Amortentia to force him to love a useless slag like her.” Ginny then hugged Theo and whispered something in his ear. He nodded and they both surrendered to the Aurors. “I hope they have paper at Azkaban,” Ginny blurted out. “I need to practice my origami art since you folks mistook my vixen for a wolf! You didn’t see the bushy tail and the cute ears?” Ginny was simply insane.
Malfoy observed the Aurors escorting the two killers outside and then he saw Hermione hugging Potter, her shoulders shaking.
The young Auror sunk to the floor, sobbing, but Weasley quickly pulled him up and dragged him out of the manor.
Hermione’s sorrowful eyes met Draco’s.
Malfoy instinctively moved closer and pulled Hermione in, letting her hide her face against his chest.
“Case is closed. Will I see you next full moon?” Hermione asked, afraid of not having an excuse to see him sooner.
Draco smiled at the fragility he had sensed in her voice. The wizard stroked her hair and gently pushed her shoulder away from him so that he could look her in the eyes. “Actually, I have a meeting with your boss tomorrow. I'm sponsoring your crazy ideas after all.”
She lifted herself to the tip of her feet and stamped a soft kiss on his lips. She felt him smile against her mouth.
“I’m all in, Granger!” he whispered.