Prompt Set: 100.3
Prompt: 99) Sordid
Word Count: 2,938
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 obviously394 @ TDA
I felt like I was falling. Even my stomached jerked as though it was about to twist into some great big knot. Opening my eyes I felt my stomach jolted at the intense copper smell of blood. It made my head start to spin, my eyes felt like rolling back into my head. Reaching up I put my hand on my head to stop the uncontrollable throbbing pain and flinched at the pressure of my hand on my skin. My scalp felt warm and wet and as I pulled it back I saw my own blood coating my fingers. Reaching back up again I could feel the blood all across my scalp both warm and sticky. “Shit.”
“About time you woke up, Granger.” It took me a moment to focus on the voice. I knew it, of course, but my eyes were closed again from the pain and at the moment I couldn’t place where I knew that voice from. And not knowing was driving me crazy. I knew deep down that I should have been able to place the voice without an issue and at first I couldn’t.
Taking a slow breath I tried to push down the pain that was coursing through me. Once I was sure the pain wasn’t going to make me vomit I opened my eyes and tried to focus on the figure standing in front of me, black slacks the only thing in my immediate line of vision. Tilting my head up would have sent me right into another headache but I also knew that if I wanted to see who it was I had to either look up or they had to crouch down.
“I was worried I hit you too hard. You’ve been out of it for a while.” I knew that voice, I was positive. And then he crouched down and Malfoy’s pale face came into view. There was a cool detachment about him at the moment. Like he was gazing upon something mundane like a log rather than me on the floor with blood clumping my hair against my scalp. Perhaps to him this was mundane, uninteresting.
Opening my mouth I tried to say something but found my mouth too dry like it had been stuffed with cotton. Closing it again I flinched at the feeling. My throat felt like someone had taken sand paper to it or made me gargle broken glass. It was raw and felt like there was blood dripping down it but I knew there wasn’t. It was just a throbbing pain I couldn’t seem to get rid of.
Malfoy’s hand came towards me slowly and I flinched away, trying to get as far from him as I could. But whatever wound he had caused on my head made moving quickly bring on dizziness and nausea. It hit me like a tidal wave as I tried to move and stopped my efforts in a snap. Then his hand was on top of my head. No, not his hand. A cloth in his hand. A very wet cloth that felt icy against my skin and made the laceration sting. “You really should stop moving so much,” he scolded. “Makes you just feel like you’re going to throw up, doesn’t it?”
He pulled back the cloth, rich with blood, and dipped it into a small bowl of water by his side. How had I not noticed that? He wrung it out and then placed it back onto of my head, slowly wiping the blood away from the wound. “You’re lucky you have such a thick head, Granger. Probably would have killed you with that blow otherwise. Bloody lucky.”
“Sod off.” Even to me my voice sounded weak and scratchy. The strain of talking made it feel like blood was running down my throat again and I coughed against the feeling. Which in turn made my chest, my throat and my head hurt all at once. It was a bloody lovely feeling to be honest.
“Lovely to know your wit hasn’t been damaged, Granger. Merlin knows I’d miss our banter if I knocked that out of you.”
I wanted to tell him to ‘sod off’ again but it wouldn’t do me any good. Malfoy was Malfoy and no matter what you said to him he did things his own way. And I was pretty sure his only goal at the moment was to me to death. If so he was probably going to succeed.
It took him only a few more minutes to finish cleaning off the laceration on my scalp. With each movement the wound stung and there was a shooting pain going through me but I wasn’t about to scream out against it. I honestly don’t think Malfoy would have cared much.
“You really are something else, Granger.” The edge of his mouth threatened to curl up into a smile as he dropped the cloth into the water. “I know bloody well that you’re in pain right now and yet you won’t show it. As if hiding it will change anything at all. My, my. You really do know how to confuse and fascinate people, don’t you?”
The sad part was that I wasn’t sure if he was being serious or not. Malfoy always knew how make you wonder, that was for sure. But now really wasn’t the time to be trying to figure out how Malfoy’s mind worked. He had knocked me unconscious and though I wasn’t exactly sure of the reasoning behind it I was almost positive that I wouldn’t like the answer when I found it.
Malfoy stood up, bowl in hand, and then disappeared from my line of vision for a couple of minutes. I could hear the sound of water running, hear dishes moving around. Where the heck was I? Hell, did I even want to know?
He came back over and crouched down in front of me, holding out a glass of what appeared to be water, but I wasn’t about to put my faith in that. Trusting him was not the safest thing to do. And apparently that showed on my face because he laughed. “Just water, Granger. I promise. Your throat sounded dry before. I figured you could use some. But if you don’t want it that’s fine with me. I’ll just pour it out.”
The problem was I did want it. But I didn’t want to let him know I needed anything from him. Being at his mercy was probably the worst thing I could think of but my throat was dry and it stung like mad.
“Do you want the water, Granger?”
To talk or to nod? Either one would have been painful, but talking would have probably sent me into another coughing fit so nodding a bit was the lesser of two evils. So I did nod a bit, swallowing against the bile that started to rise up.
He moved the glass so it was against my mouth and waited until my lips parted before tilting the glass up enough to pour the contents into my mouth. The water was cool against the dryness of my mouth and stung slightly on the way down as it hit the rawness of my throat but it was a good sting. So much better than any of the other pain I had felt today.
I easily drank half the glass before he pulled it away and set it down next to me. “There. That wasn’t that big of a deal, was it? Just water, just like I said it was. And I’d wager your throat feels much better now.”
Much better was an exaggeration, but yes, it felt better. Not that I was about to tell him that, of course. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction.
“No need to answer,” he assured me. “Your facial expressions are rather easy to read right now, you know. Perhaps the pain from that lovely cut on your head is making it too hard to concentrate. Is that it, Granger? Can’t concentrate hard enough to stop your emotions from showing through now? No worries. I probably could have read them either way.” He had this arrogance about him, like he always did back at school. And even if it was the usual Malfoy cockiness I wanted to have the energy to punch him right in his bloody mouth right about now. Unfortunately for me I was lacking said energy. This whole thing was becoming more and more of an annoyance with each passing second. It was really beginning to get old.
Malfoy stood up abruptly. Tilting my head up to look at him made it feel like something was sloshing around in there. It was a disgusting sound and an even more disgusting feeling. It was almost enough to make the bile rise up in the back of my throat. But I swallowed against the sudden nauseous feeling that threatened to take control of me.
“You know, Granger, sometimes I really do believe that you try far too hard to figure me out. You have to know by now that figuring me out is the last thing in the world you’ll ever be able to do, don’t you? I’ve always been rather good at making people see exactly what they want to see. Hiding is almost like a specialty for me.”
It wasn’t exactly clear what he was prattling on about but I had the distinct feeling that when I found out what it was I wasn’t going to like it. With Malfoy that almost seemed to be a given but this time something seemed different. There was something in the air that was almost ominous, kind of like how it feels right before a horrid storm. It was that eerie kind of calm that makes you feel like there’s something crawling up your spine.
“It disappoints me, you know. That you haven’t stopped trying to figure me out by now. If I were really that simple don’t you think you’d know all there is to know about me by now? You have known me for a very long time, Granger. Now, I know you wouldn’t have called us particularly close but being around me so much if I were simple you would have figured me out in my entirety by now. Wouldn’t you?”
Would I? Most likely not. But if he wanted to believe that then he was free to do so. Didn’t affect me either way.
“But I think that perhaps by the end of tonight you’ll understand me a lot more than you do right now. And I don’t think you’ll like what you happen to find out.”
“What?” My voice sounded wrong, like I had been gargling glass for the last hour. Well, at least my voice sounded about as good as my throat felt. That was, surprisingly, very comforting.
“Now, now Granger. There will be plenty of time for questions later. Besides, if I told you everything there wouldn’t be any fun in all of this, would there? No, the surprise is the best part.” He almost sounded giddy at the idea of whatever he was going to do making me angry. Then again this was Malfoy- strange things did seem to amuse him. “I do love surprising you, Granger. It gives me such pleasure.”
“Good to know I can be useful.” Talking was hurting my throat but I was getting tired of staying silent. Furthermore I doubted he was going to stay silent whether I spoke or not so I might as well try to make him as pissed as me as I was at him. “Not that I live to serve you.”
“Of course not. But you are rather handy to have around when I need some amusement. Now, I must ask you to stop talking now or I’ll have to hex you. The show is about to start.”
“Didn’t I tell you to stop talking, Granger? I know you really don’t want me to hex you.”
I wanted to tell Malfoy to sod off but now I was curious. What show was he talking about? Was he going to do something or had he gone completely mental? Either way I wasn’t exactly keen on the idea of being hexed on top of everything else so I clamped my mouth shut, narrowing my eyes at him to show that I was less than pleased about being ordered around.
He smiled at me sardonically, like this was all some big game. “Good girl, Granger.” Bloody prat. “Now the show can begin.” His smile slowly changed into something dark, something primal. It made my blood run cold in my veins, made dread wash over me.
Holding up a finger to tell me to wait he disappeared into the equally dark hall leaving me to gaze around the basically empty room. The floor was concrete and cold enough that I could feel it through my trousers. Other than the light hanging from the ceiling there was nothing there but me, not even windows. I could only conclude this was some kind of a basement room.
Malfoy returned pushing what looked like an office chair. There, in the chair, looking absolutely terrified sat a young girl, arms strapped down by tape. Tape also ran across her mouth. Her eyes met mine, wild and frightened, her cheeks tearstained. “Granger, this is Grace. Do be polite and say hello, won’t you?”
“What’s going on, Malfoy?” The sense of dread was mounting with every passing moment. Whatever was going on her I was positive I wasn’t going to like this.
“Grace here is our guest. She’s part of the show, aren’t you?” He wheeled her into the center of the room and then came around to stand next to it, pressing his face close to hers. She flinched away, trying to move herself away but was unable to. “Now Grace, I’m going to remove that tape. But if you scream I’ll be very angry. And things will be so much better for you if you don’t make me angry. Do you understand?”
Grace nodded slightly, eyes wide like an animal. His long fingers grabbed the edge of the tape and tugged it off in one smooth motion. As her mouth became free a sob escaped her, her entire body shaking. “Please…please, let me go.”
“Now Grace, this is a show, remember? And what kind of a show can there be without the star?”
“What are you playing at, Malfoy?”
“You were curious about whether or not I was responsible for those deaths, weren’t you?” Reaching into the deep pocket of his overcoat he smiled at me, pulling out a long knife. The blade glinted in the dim light. “I’m going to give you the answer to that question, Granger.”
“Malfoy…don’t.” Grace had started to struggle against her restraints, small whimpering sounds escaping from her. “This is insanity, Malfoy. Stop this. Right now. Let us both go.”
“How often is murder logical, Granger?” He pressed the blade of the knife against Grace’s neck and the girl’s struggling ceased. “Isn’t the act of taking someone else’s life for no real reason illogical?” Pressing down on the blood he watched as the skin of Grace’s neck split just enough for blood to run down her neck.
“Malfoy….please, stop this.”
“But I promised you a show. And I intend to keep my promise.”
He raised the knife and if came down, splitting open Grace’s skin.
I screamed and the world went black.
I jumped up, reeling back from the hand that had come down to rest on my shoulder. My heart was racing.
Malfoy stood in front of my desk, one eyebrow arched towards his hairline. “Having a nightmare, Granger?”
“Stay away from me.” I pushed my chair back against the wall, fear gripping me with an unshakeable hold.
Malfoy’s eyebrow shifted up higher as he glanced to either side of himself as if to see if I was talking to him or not. When his gaze returned to me he didn’t even attempt to hide his confusion. “What is wrong with you, Granger? Have you gone completely mental? Looking at too many pictures of dead people will do that to you.”
“Just stay away from me.”
“I haven’t gotten any closer to you, Granger.”
The sad part was he hadn’t. I was just being overly paranoid and illogical. “What are you doing here?”
“Checking up on how the investigation is going, but if this is a bad time I’ll just go and check in later.”
What was I really going to say? That I had apparently had a very vivid and realistic dream of him murdering some innocent girl? Right, he would think I really had gone mental for being this upset over a dream. “No, now is fine.”
“Good.” He sat down in the chair in front of my desk in a slow and calculated motion, like he was afraid I was about to have a panic attack or a break down.
Great. Malfoy thought I was mental. This was the last thing I needed right now.