Prompt Set: 100.3
Prompt: 44) Hope
Word Count: 2,187
Summary: My name is Hermione Granger, and I am a private investigator. My cases were simple, but Draco Malfoy changed all that.
Warnings: Descriptions of violent death.
Notes: In order to understand this, reading the earlier parts is a good idea. The chapter index can be found here.
Made by FairyQueen at The Dark Arts
Saying I hadn’t had a pleasant night’s sleep would have been a grave understatement. Twice the night before- or at least twice that I could remember- I had dreamt of both Malfoy and the two victims I knew for a fact had known him.
Each dream had been vastly different. In one it had been gruesome enough that I woke up feeling as though my heart was going to beat out of my chest. I had seen, quite vividly in my mind, Malfoy taking the lives of the women has had confirmed as his lovers. I could see him dragging a knife through their skin, smell the tang of their blood filling the air. And the entire time Malfoy had been mutilating these women he had a smile on his face. The smile had made my blood run cold. It was like an animal that had descended upon their prey and starting ripping it apart. He acted as though it were natural, even fun, to take these lives and remove them from the face of the earth. And perhaps to him the idea was in fact an appealing and fun one for him. Someone who had joined a group that had believed in the idea of eradicating muggle borns must not have had a hard time with the idea of murdering two women.
The second dream, however, had been vastly different than the other. Instead of Malfoy being a murderous monster he had actually seemed to have a vast amount of emotion in this one. He actually had seemed to be mourning the women. Surely it was the secret part of me that hoped I was working for an innocent man rather than a murderer that had made me dream of him in such a way, but even if that were the case this dream had comforted me much more than the previous one.
I sat at my desk, sipping what seemed like my twentieth cup of coffee that day and tried to figure out if there was any connection between Malfoy’s two lovers and the other women. Then I had to stop- was Malfoy carrying on a sexual relationship with both of these women at the same time? Was it possible that he had many casual lovers all at once? I tried to picture Malfoy being monogamous and the image wouldn’t form in my mind. It seemed almost impossible to believe that he could let himself be tied down to one woman. Surely the ‘great Draco Malfoy’ had scores of lovers at his beck and call, just waiting for him to decide that he wanted to be with them that particular night.
And why was I sitting there thinking about Malfoy’s sex life? It wasn’t as though I really wanted to know the intimate details. Or maybe I did- surely if I did the investigation could go much swifter than it was. Maybe the answers did lie there: maybe the other victims were lovers of his as well. And if they were, didn’t that just make him look a thousand times more guilty than he already had when he walked into my office?
So, somehow- I’m not even sure how- I found myself going into the inner sanctum of a possible murderer. Visiting the home of Draco Malfoy.
He sat across from me, his legs crossed at the ankles, the perfect picture of elegance. His eyes were cold and emotionless as he gazed at me, almost as though he were a doll rather than a living being. The edge of his lip twitched up every so often as I watched him, almost as though he was daring me to speak, daring me to ask all of the questions that were racing through my head. Did he know what I was wondering? Did he know I was starting to believe he was as guilty as guilty could be? Or maybe he had counted on that, playing this game with me and making me feel like I was falling into a bottomless pit of carnage and wonder. I wouldn’t have put anything past him to be quite honest. Sure, he was capable of such games, but would he actually waste his time playing them on me of all people? That was the ultimate question- and somehow I doubted I had an answer to it.
“You’re looking a little uneasy, Granger. Need a drink to calm yourself down?”
I pictured Malfoy’s aristocratic hands gripping the handle of a knife, dragging it through pale and smooth flesh so it split and blood flowed out of it. I imagined it caking under his fingernails, drying to a brick red and being picked out in little dust like pieces, floating down onto the beautiful wood that was the floor. I could feel myself pale at the image and had to shake my head a couple of times to clear my head. “I don’t need a drink, Malfoy.”
“You sure? You look a little sick, Granger.”
“I’ve been looking at pictures of dead girls. How should I feel?”
“I don’t know.” His hand brushed slightly across his lips, as if he was trying to wipe away a smile- or maybe a smirk- then dropped back into his lap like some kind of a loyal pet. He could be so unnervingly high class when he wanted to. It made me feel out of place in my casual clothes. It occurred to me that this was the only time that Malfoy had actually been able to make me feel uneasy merely by being in front of me. Of course he hadn’t been accused of being a mass murderer before now- just a spoiled and arrogant prat.
He tilted his head back, pale white hair reflecting light off of it. His eyes slide closed looking both bored and tired suddenly. “Feel free to keep looking through your little files, Granger. If you have a question feel free to ask. I might even answer you.”
“Do you know a woman named Marlene Atkins?”
“The name sounds vaguely familiar, yes.”
“Certainly not.” His mouth curved into a condescending smile. “I remember the names of all of my lovers very well. I remember a lot of details about them. Rather…intimate details.”
I blanched. “I don’t need to hear about your sex life, Malfoy.”
“Seems to me you’re rather interested considering you keep questioning me about it.”
“I needed to know if you slept with Marlene.”
“Well, I can honestly tell you, Granger, that I didn’t sleep with her. She is rather pretty, if I remember correctly, but I never had the pleasure of bedding her. And since you’re supposed to be working on the case I believe that it is safe to assume that I’ll never have the pleasure to do so.”
“You’re right. She’s dead as well. How did you know her?”
“I know who she is, Granger. I didn’t actually know her.”
“Just answer the question.”
“She dated an…old friend of mine.”
“You mean a Death Eater?”
“I’m being purposely vague, Granger. I thought you of all people would be able to pick up that subtlety.”
“If you want my help, Malfoy, you have to stop being vague. I can’t properly investigate if you keep things from me.”
“You know who I have associated with in the past, Granger. Surely you can figure things out for yourself.”
My mouth snapped shut, refusing to argue semantics with him. If he didn’t understand that it would be nearly impossible to even gather a shred of doubt without him being completely honest with me than who was I to remind him of that fact? Surely he wouldn’t listen. I knew Malfoy well enough by then to know that he believed himself to always be right. No one knew better than him, of course. Especially when it came to his own life. And if he didn’t want to help me with this I wasn’t about to force him to. Let him be convicted of murder. He had crimes to pay for anyway- these may just have been the newest ones.
I returned my gaze to the files, not expecting Malfoy to be any more forthcoming, at least not right away. Perhaps after the fun of picking on me in the current moment passed he’d be easier to talk to. Or perhaps I was just getting my hopes up.
Marlene gazed back at me in the picture that had been taken of her in life, dark brown eyes shinning. Her smile was lovely, her teeth perfectly straight. Her hair had been pin backed, cascading behind her shoulders in elegant curls. Malfoy was right- she had been a rather beautiful girl in life. Glancing at him I noticed his chest rising and falling rhythmically. Somehow, in the midst of all of this he had managed to doze off. Sighing I returned my gaze to Marlene’s file.
In death her skin was deathly white, dark circles under her eyes making them look sunken in. Her lips were slightly parted as if she had started to gasp but never got the chance to complete the action. She lay sprawled out on her living room floor. One hand was thrown up so it rested next to her head, almost looking like she was imitating a swoon. The other hand lay flat, palm on the floor, resting next to her hip. Her body was laid out like she was a dancer- all pale and graceful beauty, naked body exposed to the cameras and the investigators. The blood on her skin was still stark red, thick and disturbing against the beauty that was Marlene.
How could someone do something like this to another human being? Didn’t it make something inside of them break a little to watch the life drain from another person? Weren’t we supposed to care enough about other people for that to be the case? Of course I knew there were horrible people in this world, but most of them I had encountered hadn’t handled their cruelty with this kind of brutality. This was a whole new level of darkness and malice. I was pretty sure I would never be ready for this to be a part of my reality.
From across the room I heard the chair Malfoy had been lounging in creak, the leather groaning in protest as he moved. My eyes snapped up to him. His face seemed paler than normal, his eyes wide and almost frenzied. His mouth was parted slightly, chest heaving. “Malfoy?”
His eyes didn’t even move towards me as he lurched to his feet, throwing all of his weight into the movement. He stumbled slightly, unable to handle gravity that quickly but quickly regained his balance. He took off running then, long legs carrying him down the hall.
I didn’t even think about it. I stood up and dropped my files onto the chair I had just abandoned and was off after him as quick as I could go. His legs were longer than mine making his strides wider and it impossible for me to catch up to him, but I did my best not to fall far enough behind that I’d be lost in the vastness that was his house.
I came skidding to a stop outside of what turned out to be a bathroom. Malfoy was hunched over the sink, back shuddering as though something were crawling beneath the skin he couldn’t quite control. Water dripped down off of his face as his hands dipped under the faucet to catch more water before he threw it against his face, gasping as it hit his skin. “Malfoy? Something wrong?”
“I’ll be perfectly fine, Granger. But your concern is touching.”
“I’m only concerned with keeping you alive long enough to get paid. If you die then I don’t get a payment.”
“As I said, I’ll be fine. Just a bad dream, Granger. Surely you’ve had them.”
“I didn’t know snakes could dream.”
“How very clever.” He straightened himself up, squaring off his shoulders and shoved his hair back from his face with one wet hand before grabbing onto a nearby towel and proceeding to dry off his hands. Water dripped down off of his face, wetting the expensive fabric of his shirt. “I, like most people, tend to have dreams.”
“What did you dream about?”
“Nothing you want to hear about, Granger.” He turned to me and pressed his palm against the door frame, leaning down so his face was eerily close to mine. “Believe me when I tell you that you don’t want to know.”
His breath was hot on my face. I took a deep breath. “And what if I do?”
“Then you have to pay me for that information.”
I decided that I didn’t really want to know about his dream. With his face that close to mine I could feel my breath hitch. No, I didn’t want to pay him for information. Because Malfoy wasn’t talking about actual money. His payment would be far more intimate than that. And there was no way whatever he had to say would be worth that.