Prompt Set: 100.3
Prompt: 3) Picture
Word Count: 3,612
Summary: My name is Hermione Granger, and I am a private investigator. My cases were simple, but Draco Malfoy changed all that.
Warnings: Mentions of death, talk of sex.
Notes: In order to understand this, reading the earlier parts is a good idea. The chapter index can be found here.
Image by SwissMiss @ TDA
I had kissed Draco Malfoy back. That was the simple- and yet disturbing- fact. I was sorely disappointed with myself. And no, it wasn’t just because I had a boyfriend, though that was reason enough. There was also the fact that he was Draco Malfoy- the Slytherin that had made my life a living hell in school. He was also a murder suspect who had admitted to having a vast amount of lovers. He wasn’t exactly the ideal choice when it came to picking someone to- for all technical purposes- cheat on your boyfriend with. Yes, I felt stupid and a little bit gross knowing I had kissed him back.
Now, him kissing me really wasn’t my fault. How was I to be expected to stop him from doing so? If I had hexed him it would have caused a whole big mess. Besides, I didn’t make it a habit to hex my clients. That would have made me look bad and when you look bad in my line of work you lose business. No, I wasn’t about to hex him- and if I hit him I was pretty sure with his strength I would have been in a whole world of hurt. And considering what he was accused of doing to those women I wasn’t about to risk my life by pissing him off.
I had opted not to tell Levi about the kiss. I didn’t think that Levi would have been angry at me- people sometimes do things they wouldn’t expect given certain stimuli- but I was afraid that he’d get angry enough at Malfoy to do something foolish. Sometimes you have to pick and choose what you tell people and this time I chose not to. Call it being overly cautious if you will, but I call it being smart.
But Levi was a smart person as well and he could instantly tell that something was bothering me. Dinner was quiet and a bit awkward, to say the least. I didn’t really want to rehash my day and though I knew he must have been curious about what happened to cause my less than stellar mood but he had opted not to ask, just like I had opted to keep the kiss a secret. True, most times the idea of keeping secrets wasn’t the best one when it came to relationships, but there were times when keeping things to yourself was the best was to make sure your relationship stayed healthy. And besides, a few small secrets never hurt anyone, right? Then again I’m sure these girls that were dead had their secrets. And look how they turned out.
It had been nearly a full night of silence. Even when we were cleaning up after dinner that night we barely spoke. We just took up our normal positions- I washed, he dried. A part of me wondered why he seemed so reluctant to ask me about my day. Did he somehow instinctively know that he wouldn’t like the answer no matter how I spun it? Or was he just trying to play it safe despite his curiosity?
But it was after dinner when we were sitting in the living room that he finally decided to speak up. I was, as I had done so many times already, going over the crime scene photos of those poor girls. For the most part I hadn’t let him get a look at them, but he had gazed down over my shoulder and at the pictures, his cheek brushing against mine. “You’re working far too hard on this case, love. You’re going to drive yourself completely nutter if you don’t start thinking of other things as well.”
“I need to find out who killed these girls, you know.”
“No, love. That isn’t your job.”
“In a way it is. I’m being paid to find out the truth.”
“Love, you know I have complete faith in you and your ability to do your job, don’t you?”
“Of course I do.”
“Then know I mean absolutely no disrespect when I tell you that I highly doubt that you’ll be able to solve this case, Hermione. If the authorities haven’t been able to do so, what makes you believe that you can? Yes, you’re good at your job, love, but so are they. And there are certain things that you just won’t ever be able to do, even though I know you hate to admit that.”
I hated it even more because I knew he was right. There was no way I could do every single thing I set my mind to, but that fact didn’t comfort me any. Even I knew I had limitations- despite my desire to deny it- but I was also stubborn. I wanted to get my job done and then, of course, be free of Draco Malfoy. And it seemed he wasn’t about to go away without me working on this case. Funny how things worked sometimes.
“I know you meant what you just said in the most supportive way possible,” I assured Levi. “But I want to work on this. Just for a little longer. I promise to be extra careful.”
“I don’t like the idea of you spending time around an accused killer.”
“Believe me, I don’t like being around him anymore than you like me being around him. But this is a good paying job- and an interesting case on top of it. Try to understand.”
“I do, love. Once you get your head wrapped around it is nearly impossible to get you to let it go. I’ve come to terms with that a long time ago. I don’t have to like it though.”
“No, you don’t. But your support is greatly appreciated.”
“And you have my support.” His lips brushed against my cheek and then he took a seat on the couch, picking up the book he had taken to reading while I worked. This was a comforting feeling- us going about our normal routine, especially after the annoyance that had been handling Malfoy earlier in the evening.
Levi left for work early in the morning and that left me alone in my kitchen going over the file for what seemed like that thousandth time since it landed on my desk. What was going to happen was something I couldn’t even begin to comprehend but I knew that whatever it was I was along for the ride. Yes, it was safe to say that I was working with a full plate.
“Working on anything interesting, Granger?”
“Damn it.” Putting down my tea mug I turned to see Draco Malfoy standing in my kitchen doorway. He had this insufferable smirk on his face, dark trench coat hanging around him like some kind of a dark aura. “What the hell are you doing here, Malfoy?”
“I came to help you on the case, of course.”
“Help me?” Now this was a change of pace. Up until now it seemed like he had been expecting me to do all of the investigating all on my own. “And what exactly can you possibly tell me that can help?”
“That last girl you came to me about.”
“Yes, that one. I found out something about her.”
“And what might that be?”
“The lovely Allison had been dating Blaise Zabini.”
“As in the same Blaise we went to school with?”
“The very same. So, I spoke to him. He told me that Allison claimed to have been getting some rather strange letters from some anonymous person. They were basically threatening to hurt her if she didn’t break up with her, and I quote, Death Eater boyfriend.”
“Hmm. That is rather interesting.”
“I know that. I wouldn’t have brought it up if it wasn’t.” He pushed himself away from the wall and sat down without asking, reaching out and pulling the corner off of my piece of toast and popping it in his mouth. He smiled at me while he chewed, eyes never leaving my face. “I figured you’d want to know that tiny bit of information. It might get you somewhere.”
“Does Blaise have any of those letters?”
“Why would he? It wasn’t like they were sent to him, right? They were sent to her.”
“Well, she didn’t still have them. I’m sure the ministry would have found them.”
“According to Blaise she burned them. Apparently they really frightened her and she wanted to get them as far away from her as possible.”
“Hmm.” Glancing down at the picture of Allison on my table I couldn’t help but wonder if this whole letter thing was the answer I was actually looking for. Was that the reason behind this girl’s death? “So, whoever wrote the letter made a point of stating the fact that Blaise had been a Death Eater, right?”
“According to Blaise, yes.”
“So…that means that all of the girls were involved in some way with a former Death Eater.”
He pulled another piece off of my toast and popped it into his mouth, leaning back in the seat. As he chewed his eyebrows drew together like he was in deep thought, head tilting to the side so his hair fell over one eye. “Well, yes, that seems to be a safe assumption.”
“So, what if that’s the answer?”
“What do you mean?”
“What if these girls were all killed because they were involved with a former Death Eater?”
“And where would the logic in that be?”
“I don’t think there is often logic in murder, Malfoy. Once someone fixates on something and believes that a person should be punished for said fixation all logic goes out the window.”I moved my plate far enough away that he couldn’t reach it in his relaxed position, annoyed that he kept snatching my food when he was more than capable of getting his own. “Pretend for a moment that you think there may be some kind of a possibility that I’m right.”
“Alright. I’m pretending.”
“Then stop and think for a moment: any other girl you may be involved with or who may be involved with a former Death Eater could be in danger of being slaughtered like these girls were.”
“Well, considering how many girls are involved with former Death Eaters that would mean a lot of potential victims. Which would in turn mean too many possible victims for you to possibly go around trying to protect, Granger.”
“I know that, but maybe we can figure out who the next victim is.”
“We could ask if they received any letters.”
“And how do you propose we find all of the girls to ask? Do you know how long that would take? How many girls could die between now and then?”
“At least I’m coming up with ideas. I don’t see you doing even that much.”
“I may not be coming up with any ideas but I do believe we’ve had a break through.”
“And what might that be?”
“You don’t think I’m guilty.”
“What?” He had to have been losing his mind.
“If you thought I was guilty you wouldn’t be asking me to help you try to find the girls. You’d want to do that all on your own, Granger. You think I’m innocent now.”
“I…I haven’t formed an opinion either way. But it would be a good idea to keep an eye on you, just in case.”
“You know if I didn’t know you any better I’d think you were just looking for an excuse to spend more time with me, Granger. Fancy that.”
“In your dreams, Malfoy.”
“In some of them, yes.”
I couldn’t tell whether he was joking or not. When it came to Malfoy it was more likely than not that he was in fact trying to be funny. Either that or trying to get a rise out of me. Either way I didn’t like where this conversation was going. This was dangerous territory after we kissed the night before. The best idea was to steer the conversation as far away from this as possible. But, then again, it usually wasn’t very easy to deter Malfoy. He was damn stubborn. “You disgust me.”
“Now Granger, don’t start telling lies. I don’t disgust you. I fascinate you and that’s what really gets to you. You don’t want to be fascinated by me but you can’t seem to help it. I just keep drawing you into my world, don’t I?
“You hired me for this case. Stands to reason that it would mean I’d have to be involved in your world in some shape or form, wouldn’t it?”
“And yet you seem to be so fascinated with this case that you can’t put it down for even a moment. I wonder: is it because of these girls dying or because of the suspect?”
“I wish you would stop flattering yourself so much, Malfoy. Of all the people in the world I would actually choose to spend my time with you can rest assured in knowing you would be in the bottom ten.”
“And why would that be reassuring to me, Granger? I must say as time goes on and you work more and more on this case I find you to be much more interesting than I had previously thought you were. Fancy that.”
“I don’t appreciate your games, Malfoy.” Glancing at my toast my stomach churned in protest. Yep, he had made me lose my appetite entirely.
Shoving the plate roughly towards him I stood up, grabbing my tea cup as I did so. “Your games are no more amusing now than they were back at school.”
“Who ever said anything about playing games?” Tugging off another piece of the toast he smiled at me. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to be a smart ass or if he was just in a rather amorous mood. “You assume far too much.” He popped the piece of bread into his mouth rather gracefully, amusement swimming in his eyes.
I scowled as I turned to the sink. “You’re far too amused with yourself for me to believe you aren’t playing games, Malfoy. If it isn’t enough to saddle me with an extremely complicated case that you are being less than helpful with, now you’re playing games with me and trying to confuse me far more than I already am by all of this. Keep up your games and I’ll quit the case entirely.”
“Is that what your little boyfriend wants you to do?” I felt the heat of his body behind me. He reached around me, placing the now empty plate into the sink, his heat radiating into my body. “Does he want you to quit, Granger?”
“What are you talking about, Malfoy?”
“Oh, don’t play coy with me, Granger. You’re not nearly as good at it as you think you are. Besides, there’s a picture of the two of you in your living room. And if you remember the layout of your own home the doorway you happened to see me standing in before connects directly to the living room.”
He was right, of course. Again. And I didn’t like it one bit. “I don’t need any snark, Malfoy. Just tell me why you’re bringing him up.”
“He looks rather…..mundane, doesn’t he?”
“Mundane?” I turned to look at him, eyes narrowing. “What does that mean?”
“Well, Granger, despite all of our differences even I can admit you’re rather smart. And for someone who is muggle born you’re rather talented at magic. Is he a muggle?”
“No, he’s not.”
“Then he doesn’t look like he’d be very powerful, you know.”
“I’m merely making an observation, Granger. No use in getting offended by an observation.” He leaned casually back onto the table, his hands pressed on the wood behind him, head cocked slightly to the side. “I suppose he isn’t a bad looking man.”
“I don’t know whether I should be questioning how straight you are after that comment.”
A ghost of a smile danced across the pale lines of his face. “If a straight man is secure in his own sexuality than he can comment on another man’s looks, Granger. Honestly, are your friends so insecure that they can’t comment on such things?” He clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. “Shame on Potter and the weasel.”
“Thank you. I do believe I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“It wasn’t meant to be one.”
“I’m going to take it as one regardless. Now, where was I? Oh, yes, that boyfriend of yours. As I was saying, I suppose he isn’t a bad looking guy, but he seems hardly interesting enough for someone who spends their time doing what you do.”
“Perhaps I like simplicity outside of my job. Simplicity can be comforting, you know.”
“You mean boring, don’t you?”
“No, Malfoy, I said what I meant. I don’t appreciate you insinuating otherwise.”
“Oh, come off it, Granger. You love excitement. I think that’s why you spent so much bloody time with Potter in school. He always managed to get you all into some sort of a dangerous situation. And you could use that cleverness of yours to help get them out of it. Because, let’s face it, Granger: you’re not only smart, but your ego is nearly as large as you claim mine to be. You just love to show off your skills and your knowledge. And being around Potter gave you the perfect opportunity to do so. Especially working with someone as dim as Weasley.”
“Ronald isn’t dim.”
He waved me off, shaking his hair out of his face. “Say what you will about him but I say he’s dim. And nothing you can say will ever convince me otherwise.”
“You really are insufferable.”
“You never answered me, you know.”
“Answer you about what?”
“Whether or not your little boyfriend wants you to drop this assignment I’ve given you.”
“He has a name, you know.”
“I assumed he did. Unless the poor bloke’s parents called him ‘hey, you’ his entire childhood that is.”
I pursed my lips for a moment. His attitude hadn’t changed one bit since school. “His name is Levi.”
“Levi, great. That’s all well and good but that still isn’t an answer to my question.”
“Well….he’s just concerned for my safety. That’s natural. You see, normal people have these things called emotions, Malfoy. And I know that concept of them is one that’s far too complex for you to even begin to grasp, but those lovely things usually mean that when you’re in a relationship with someone you care about their safety. And as such you worry about them from time to time.”
“You’re under the misconception that I don’t care about anyone, Granger.”
“Do you honestly think I wanted any of these women to die? Honestly, Granger, just because I didn’t have a mutual exclusive relationship with any of them doesn’t mean I didn’t care about them in my own way. And yes, it is rather sad that they are dead. If I could change that I would, and not just so I could shag them again. But just so they would actually be alive.”
“Surprise, surprise. Malfoy knows how to feel things.”
“Quite well, actually.”
“Well, you have your answer now.”
“But only part of it.” He pressed himself away from the table, walking towards me until the counter was pressing harshly against my back as I attempted to get away from him and his body was merely pressed against mine. “Is he afraid of your safety because he doesn’t want you to get killed or he doesn’t want you to stray?”
“Stray?” My breath was catching in my throat. After that bloody kiss the day before I wasn’t exactly sure being this close to Malfoy was such a good idea.
“Yes, stray. As in become involved with someone else.”
“And who would that person be? You? Would never happen.”
“You keep protesting, Granger, but your body betrays you. Your heart it pounding in your chest right now, your breath is ragged. I know enough about people to know that this isn’t annoyance as you’d so love to insist. This is what we call lust- and before you can protest you can lust after people you don’t particularly like, you know. Sexual attraction has nothing to do with personality. It is strictly physical.”
“I don’t know what you think you know, Malfoy, but I’m not sexually attracted to you.”
“No?” He dipped down, brushing his lips barely against mine. I sucked in my breath, heart fluttering dangerously in my chest. “You really are a poor liar, Granger.”
And then he disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving me alone in my kitchen and contemplating whether or not I could get away with pleading temporary insanity if I murdered him.