Prompt Set: 100.3
Prompt: 16) Hands
Word Count: 1,810
Summary: Someone is watching her. Someone is stalking. The grounds are bathed in blood. And someone wants her dead. Hermione has to figure out how to keep herself alive....if that's even possible.
Warnings: Descriptions of violent death.
Notes: The chapter index can be found here.
Something was wrong. She could tell as soon as she sat down that there was something foul on the air. What it was she couldn’t put her finger on, but she knew, with absolute certainty that there was something strange. The teachers had begun acting weird nearly the moment that school had restarted, their eyes lingering over the students at all times. It was like they were on high guard, trying with all of their might to shield the students from the horrors outside. Glancing around it seemed that she was the only one in the little group that noticed something was wrong. Was it that she was the only one that had been observant enough to notice? Or was there really nothing going on?
Ginny’s eyes jumped to her, concern etching across her face. Was it that obvious she was worried about something? Could they all see it but not even begin to understand what it was that was bothering her? That was entirely possible, she supposed, but idea was rather unnerving. After all, if she seemed worried when the others saw nothing to be worried about it wasn’t as though they would think it normal. Quite the opposite: she was sure they’d think she was going absolutely mental.
Curling her legs closer to her body she gave Ginny the best smile she could muster up, trying to reassure the younger girl that everything was perfectly fine. What was there not to be fine about? It was a lovely day and she was sitting on the grass with her friends. Surely that meant that there was nothing to worry about. Didn’t it?
Then why couldn’t she shake this feeling in the pit of her stomach like something was terribly wrong? Even while Ginny tried to engage all of them in a conversation about the radio show she did for Hogwarts, Hermione Granger couldn’t find herself able to concentrate on the other girl’s words. She heard them coming out but they all seemed a jumble, a running mess inside of her head that she couldn’t seem to clarify.
Once she found she could no longer handle the jumble of words coursing through her head she politely excused herself finding some excuse that she knew they would believe- she had to start reading for a class- and gathered her things. She was half way across the lawn, half way to the main entrance before the jumble started to die and she found herself able to think a little bit more clearly. But even without the jumble she couldn’t shake the sense of dread that had taken location deep in the pit of her stomach.
“Tired of listening to their drivel already, Granger?”
Her entire body went rigid mid-step, her blood running cold. No, this wasn’t helping her sense of dread any. She turned, as slowly as she could, to meet the cool gray eyes of the student that had been a thorn in her and her friend’s sides since their first year. Draco Malfoy gazed back at her impassively. He’s just trying to get a rise out of me, she thought. She wasn’t about to give him that satisfaction. Nor was her mind in any state to handle any banter between them. She had to get inside and to quiet to give herself some time to think. “Since when do you care what I do, Malfoy?”
“I don’t,” he responded coolly. “Just rather odd of you to leave your friends like that. I thought you were all attached at the hips. Bloody annoying really.”
“I’m not in the mood for this, Malfoy.” She turned then to walk away from him, craving silence and time to think. She had to clear her head, was desperate to do so.
“You knew that muggle girl Melody, right?”
“Melody?” She turned back to him, her interest suddenly heightened. “Melody McIntire?”
“That’s the one, yes.”
“Yes, I know her.” Melody was a year behind her. Last year she had taken it upon herself to help the girl with a paper for one of her classes when she saw her struggling in the library. Unlike the times when she would help Ron with his work she was actually only helping Melody instead of doing the work. It was a refreshing change.
“You mean you knew her,” he corrected. “Past tense.”
“What are you talking about, Malfoy?”
“You didn’t notice she wasn’t here, Granger?”
In all honesty she hadn’t. She wasn’t in the habit of taking a roll call of everyone in the entire school and only two days into the school year she didn’t think it was unusual to have not seen the people she knew. The building was rather large, after all, and seeing as she didn’t take any classes with her there would have been no reason to notice her absence. “Of course I didn’t. I don’t make it a habit of stalking people or ensuring their presence. Why are you asking about Melody?”
Ice settled deep within her gut. Melody was dead? Was that the sense of dread she had been feeling? Was that why the professors were looking at all of them so intently? Were they worried about their safety? Or perhaps worried some of the students would notice Melody’s absence and be unable to understand why she was no longer there. “What do you mean?”
“Just like I said, Granger. The stupid mudblood is dead.”
She wanted to curse him for using that word, but she found herself unable to comprehend what he was saying. “How do you even know that?”
“Heard the professors talking.” He crossed his arms over his chest looking both arrogant and aristocratic at the same time. “Sometimes they don’t know how to be all that discrete.”
“What happened to her?”
“Killed, they said. In her home. With an axe. Stupid muggles, killing each other in such a bloody way. Magic is so much more efficient- no blood, no mess, just death.”
“Death is never clean, Malfoy,” she snapped. She felt the ice in her stomach grow. Someone had murdered Melody. Someone had killed her. With an axe no less. A painful death, she reasoned. A painful and scary death. “Do you know what happened?”
“I know what they said happened.”
“Well? What did they say?”
“Not much, Granger. Just the girl and her sisters were killed. Mudblood was supposed to be watching them while her parents were out and they all wound up dead. Bloody mess for her parents to find, don’t you agree?”
“All three of them are dead?” Melody had mentioned her sisters to Hermione, briefly. Both younger than her, both a bloody pain, but both loved very much by their older sister. She supposed that younger siblings were always a nuisance to their older siblings but she knew with absolute certainty that Melody would never wish any harm to come to them.
“I just said that, Granger. Supposedly she got strange messages on the….I think they call it a phone or something. She got a bunch of messages on it and then they were all dead. Snape says according to the girl’s mother all of the messages came from the house itself. How in the bloody hell that’s even possible is beyond me.”
“A second line.” But she was saying it to herself, not to him, and when his blonde brow arched she didn’t even bother trying to clarify. She wasn’t in the mood for a muggle studies lesson.
“Well, your little friend died after her sisters. Or so they said. Not that it matters. Dead is dead, isn’t it?”
Strange calls. That sounded so bloody familiar to her that she couldn’t help but forget to breathe for a moment. Where had she heard that before? “Why are you telling me this, Malfoy?”
“Wanted to see the look on your face. Bloody worth it, too. You look like you swallowed a fly.”
“This isn’t funny, Malfoy.”
“To you maybe.” He had that insufferable smirk plastered on his face.
A legend, she realized. A legend that muggle children told each other to scare themselves and others. A legend about a girl babysitting and getting menacing phone calls from some stranger. A girl who calls the police only to find out that the calls are coming from inside the house. A girl stalked by a man just upstairs, upstairs where the children she was watching were sleeping. And even if the details weren’t exact she knew that Melody’s death- if Malfoy was right- was a pretty close mirror to that legend. She could almost imagine the axe that killed Melody, the hands that gripped it becoming slick with blood. Would their grip have slipped? Would they have scratches on their palms from the wood? Or would their grip have remained firm the entire time?
But who would take a legend and make it a reality? Could it have been just a coincidence that she circumstances were so similar? Or was the killer no stranger at all but a friend? Was the person who ended Melody’s life a friend of hers that had gone mad? Or a boy who wanted her love and didn’t receive it? And if this had been about love, why kill her sisters as well? Why ruin so many lives? Then again, she figured, murder was rarely sane or logical and never really considerate of others. Murder was cold. And murder was unforgiving.
“Did you actually swallow a bug, Granger?”
“No.” Her voice came out sharp, both annoyed and scared. “You’re sure you heard them right?”
“I am capable of listening to people, Granger, despite what you may think.”
“Damn.” Poor Melody. Poor, poor Melody.
She took a deep breath, gathering her thoughts. That cold feeling was explained, she thought. “Well, you delivered your little message, Malfoy. You had your fun.”
She turned away from him then, her pace much quicker than before as she made her way towards the main entrance. She needed to get inside, needed to get away. She had to think and she couldn’t do that there. She couldn’t stop, wouldn’t stop until she was alone with her thoughts.
A student at Hogwarts had been murdered. And it hadn’t been by magic- nor was it by Death Eaters she was sure. They would never resort to using such a muggle tactic to kill someone. They would merely cast a spell on them and be done with it. No, this wasn’t the work of Death Eaters and it was that thought that terrified her.
As she reached the doorway she felt eyes on her. She turned quickly, expecting to see Malfoy’s smirking face, but Malfoy was long gone, already half way over to where his pathetic group of friends sat. But she could still feel it, someone’s eyes on her. Intent, studying.
Watching her from the shadows.