Disclaimer: The HP world remains the property of JK Rowling
"This is a waste of time," Dickinson muttered the moment the other two Aurors had apparated beside him.
"No one made you come with us," Ron replied lightly, turning to Harry and effectively dismissing the older man's complaints.
"You two made me!" he protested, but he was ignored.
"What do you reckon?" Harry asked, looking around the abandoned scrap yard for any signs of danger.
Ron shrugged. "It's probably nothing. It usually is."
"If it's nothing then why do I need to be here?" Dickinson grumbled, and Harry shot him a glare. Kenneth Dickinson was notorious for his ability to complain about literally anything, and although he was an excellent Auror, his dislike of Harry that stemmed from Harry being made Head of the Department at just 22 made Dickinson insufferable at the best of times. Had any of the other Aurors been available, Harry would have much preferred to bring one of them, but as it was, he was bound by his own policies that said any rogue Death Eater sightings were to be followed up by a minimum of three Aurors.
"If it's not nothing we'll need the backup," he snapped. Dickinson glared back at him, annoyed at being designated the role of 'back up' but he didn't say anything more. He didn't like Harry and Ron's methods, no matter how successful the pair was, and had called them reckless and stupid on more than one occasion. Harry doubted the man would stay quiet for long. He looked back to Ron.
"Right, so what did the message say?"
"One of the Death Eaters you're looking for has been spotted. Hemingway's Scrap Yard," Ron quoted. "It doesn't look like there's anything here though." He and Harry walked forward, Dickinson following.
From the looks of it, the yard hadn't been used for several years. Rats scarpered away from them as they walked slowly, disappearing into the piles of scrap. Ahead of them was a rundown warehouse. It had panels missing from the roof and the glass was shattered on the windows that they could see. Harry very much doubted the sighting had been genuine, but he couldn't discount any messages they received — not since the anonymous tip they had been sent two years ago had resulted in the capture and arrest of a trio of rogue Death Eaters just outside Watford.
Just ahead of him, Ron paused.
"Do you feel that?" he murmured. Harry and Dickinson stopped as well as the unmistakable hum of magic vibrated around them.
"There's something here," Dickinson said quietly. "Homenum revelio."
Ahead of them, above the warehouse, a single blue spark of light appeared. It hovered for several moments before disappearing.
"Someone's here," Harry said. Maybe this wasn't going to be another dead end after all.
"We need to call for more back up," Dickinson said immediately.
"We don't have any more back up," Ron reminded him. "Everyone is either on holiday or on a case." He shook his head. "This is what you get for being too lenient, Harry."
Harry rolled his eyes.
"People are entitled to time off." He looked back to the warehouse. "Come on, you saw the blue light; there's only one person in there, and if they are dangerous we need to get to them before they get to us."
Ron raised his wand, muttering under his breath.
"There are no wards," he said after a moment. "They're not trying to keep anyone out."
"They might not have thought anyone would be looking for them," Harry suggested.
"They'd be idiots then," Dickinson remarked in annoyance. "Someone could be luring us here on purpose!"
"It doesn't matter either way," Harry said. "We still have to go in."
Without waiting for a response he approached the door of the warehouse. He used his wand to open the unlocked door, having learned early on never to trust a seemingly innocent door handle. He winced at the memory of the burns he had suffered on his very first case as he stepped inside.
The warehouse was one large room. It was almost completely empty except for scattered pieces of old parchment littering the floor and a single table pushed crookedly against one wall. There were bursts of light breaking though the broken windows near the door they'd walked through, but the rest of the windows were boarded up, causing shadows to cover most of the room. And against the far wall, almost shrouded completely by darkness, was a man.
He appeared to be bound by thick ropes to the chair he was sitting on and he didn't move as the three Aurors crept towards him.
"Is he awake?" Ron whispered.
"Looks knocked out," Harry replied, though he knew better than to assume anything and ignored the scoff that came from Dickinson.
"Accio wand," Ron said, and from the table a wand flew towards him. He caught it easily. "Well, he's unarmed then."
"Why would someone leave a wand here? This is a fucking set up," Dickinson growled.
"Someone wanted us to find him," Ron agreed hesitantly.
"He's a Death Eater," Harry said suddenly, his eyes catching sight of the exposed skin on the man's left arm, where a faded but still decipherable black mark was etched.
"Fucking hell," Ron breathed, seeing it too. "He is."
"Whoever tipped us off wanted us to find him," Harry said evenly, though his heart was racing now. "If we were going to be ambushed, though, it would have happened by now. We need to take him in."
Dismissing Dickinson's protests, Harry proceeded forward with his wand trained at the man's chest. He hadn't stirred; his head was slumped forward and the shadows obscured his face from their view. Harry stopped in front of him and tentatively reached out a hand.
"Potter," Dickinson hissed from his left, his wand raised as well. "Be careful."
"He's fine, Dickinson, relax," Ron murmured from Harry's other side. "There are three of us, the guys out cold, and he hasn't even got his wand on him."
"You don't know that! It could still be a trap!" Dickinson snapped back, but Harry ignored them. He relied on his gut instincts when he was out in the field, he always had, and right now they were telling him that this, whatever it was, was important.
Murmuring a quick Lumos, he gripped the man by his hair and pulled his head back so that his face was illuminated by the light of his wand.
"Holy fuck," Ron exclaimed loudly, his cry echoing around the empty room. Harry almost dropped his wand in surprise as he stared down at the man's unconscious form.
"Isn't he supposed to be dead?" Dickinson demanded.
"He is. He was. I mean..." Ron trailed off, apparently lost for words.
His hair was several shades darker than Harry remembered, but that could be attributed to the thick dust coating it - possibly an indication that he had been sitting here for quite a long time - and his face was so swollen and bruised on one side that Harry doubted he would be able to see if he was awake. Regardless of what a mess the man was, Harry would have recognized his face anywhere.
"Draco fucking Malfoy," he muttered. "What the hell are you doing alive?"
Hermione's stomach grumbled loudly, pulling her out of the reverie she had sunk into as she read through her research notes. She glanced down at her stomach and tried to remember what the last thing she had eaten was. She'd been at the Ministry since it opened, trying to get further ahead on her work, and it wouldn't have been the first time that it had completely slipped her mind to eat.
She had eaten some fruit yesterday at around five, it was just after Harry had stuck his head in the door to say goodbye for the evening, but she couldn't recall having anything since then.
Her sleeping patterns were completely out of whack these days and it was wreaking havoc with her appetite. She was spending most of her time at work, preferring to be distracting herself with research rather than sitting in her apartment getting lost in her thoughts. She would arrive every day right as the doors unlocked and not leave until the guards told her that they were locking up for the night. She would have come in earlier but to her annoyance she had found out a few months ago that the Ministry's security team wouldn't open the doors for anyone before 6am.
Shaking her head, she tried to refocus on the parchment in front of her. She was meeting with Harry and Ron for lunch, something she had only recently started doing again, and she thought she could get through a couple more hours of research before she ate.
She had been trying harder lately to make more of an effort with her friends. They didn't understand her coolness or her distance over the last few months, and because she hadn't felt like she was able to talk about it, hadn't known how to talk about it, she couldn't get upset with them for their frustration with her. Things were slowly getting back to normal between the three of them, now that she was trying harder, and maybe, maybe, she was finally getting to a place where she could explain it to them...
A shout coming from somewhere down the hall was the first she knew of the commotion happening in the Ministry's atrium.
She glanced up from the paper in her hands and noticed several people rushing past her office door. Curiosity getting the better of her, and her mind too distracted to focus right now anyway, she left her office and wandered down the hallway, following several of her colleagues toward the atrium. She could see scores of people milling around the huge hall; it seemed that everyone in the Ministry had assembled down here, and excited chatter flowed around the room. She heard Harry and Ron's names mentioned a couple of times and shook her head.
"Merlin, what have they done now?" she muttered to herself, pushing her way into the crowd. She tried to remember what cases the pair had been working on this week. Half the Aurors were away, and it was only ten in the morning; what trouble could they have already found themselves in that would attract this kind of attention? She shuddered as she realised just how many possible answers there were to that question.
"What's going on?" she asked, giving up on getting through the throng of people and turning to a witch who was standing on her toes to try and see over the heads of the crowd. Hermione thought she recognized her as the new secretary from the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Department. Astrid, maybe?
"Potter and Weasley!" the witch exclaimed, the unmistakable awe of a new employee evident as she gushed their names. "They've arrested Draco Malfoy!"
"Malfoy's dead," Hermione snapped, hearing the harshness in her own voice before turning to leave. It was an obvious misunderstanding and she didn't need to stand here listening as ridiculous rumours began to circulate. Ministry employees seemed to relish in gossip, something Hermione had little time for.
She pushed her way through the hordes of people that were craning their necks to see whoever it was that the witch had mistaken for Malfoy. She was intent on going to the lunch room to get a coffee to keep her awake before going back to her office and would then get lost in research for the rest of the morning.
She happened to glance up at the same moment two wizards moved to the side and a flash of dirty blonde hair across the atrium caught her eye. She froze on the spot as Harry and Ron came into view, their wands pointed at the back of the prisoner they were escorting to the interrogation rooms. The prisoner had his hands bound behind him and his head was bowed as he walked. His robes were faded and torn, and his hair was covered in what she assumed was dirt or dust. His face was badly battered, and she wondered for the briefest of moments if it was Harry or Ron who had done that to him, before the realization crashed over her that it was him. It was unmistakably him.
She felt something pass through her — it might have been shock — but before she could comprehend anything more about what was happening, other than that he was here and he was alive, everything began to fade around her. Her knees buckled, and she passed out.
A/N - New Dramione! This will be approximately ten chapters and I'll aim to update once a week. I've got all these other half finished ideas and plots floating around at the moment but this is the first I've been able to finish. Let me know what you think! I live for your feedback!