"What's the matter, Brown Eyes? Bored?" Fenrir asked after God only knew how many strained and silent moments had ticked by between them—but not until he'd noticed her wand arm starting to tremble from the strain of keeping her weapon at the ready.
"Not bored, irritated. And don't call me that!"
He pursed his lips and tapped his finger against his bearded chin. "Oh, why not? Don't want a nickname from someone like me?"
She gritted her teeth, holding in another little growling sound he'd undoubtedly love to hear from her pretty little throat. "No, I don't honestly care what you deign to call me, Greyback, just so long as it's not that. I hate that name."
The werewolf seemed to consider that for a time, his—unfortunately chiseled—features taking on a pensive expression as his gaze wandered over her again and again.
She was pretty sure he'd committed her measurements to memory long ago, though.
"Ah. Perfect. I'll call you Skönhet."
Hermione frowned thoughtfully in spite of herself. "Is that a Scandinavian language?"
"Sorry, did Fenrir not give that away? Yes, it's Swedish."
The witch rolled her eyes impatiently. "What's it mean?"
Smirking once more, he leaned back on his elbows as he held her gaze. "Beauty."
"Oh, I get it, because you're a 'beast', right?"
He chuckled. "Admit it. That nearly got a laugh out of you."
"I'll admit no such thing and—" She cut herself off at the sight of him suddenly sitting bolt upright.
Fenrir held up a silencing finger as he climbed to his feet in a quick, fluid motion and tilted his head. It was more than obvious he was listening for something. Not wanting to disturb the process, but keeping her wand trained on him, still, she shrugged and mouthed the question, What is it?
He whispered back, his voice impossibly low, "Someone's coming."
She held her breath for a few nerve-jangling seconds. They'd been expecting someone to come back, so if the werewolf seemed on high alert about it, she wouldn't drop her guard, either.
Relief swept through her so fast, Hermione was surprised she didn't collapse on the spot. "Madam Guir! Oh, thank God!"
"I'm . . . I'm so sorry, my dear."
"They are working on getting you out, but there's a complication. It may be while before the wall can be raised."
Fenrir's lips peeled back from his teeth in a vicious snarl. "She's lying," he said to Hermione in a hissing whisper.
"What? Why would she?"
He glared at the wall that separated them from the rest of the world. "I've no idea."
"You'll just have to keep yourself safe, all right? It shouldn't be very long."
The tones buried in Madam Guir's voice told Fenrir she was being deceitful, and that she was upset by it. Not upset enough in his view.
"Stop lying you old crone!"
Hermione jumped at the werewolf's unexpected booming bellow. "Don't speak to her like that! How can you be so sure—?"
"Because I've got the hearing of a fucking wolf, Skönhet, and I can hear that that woman is lying to you."
"In this situation? What could she possibly have to lie about"
"That there's a complication? That they're working on getting you out? Take your pick, I'm a werewolf, not a bloody mind reader."
"Madam Guir," the younger witch shouted, hating that she could feel tears clogging her throat—could Fenrir Greyback be right? "Tell me he's wrong! Please?"
There was a terrible silence following her question. And then . . . .
"I'm sorry, Miss Granger. There's . . . there's nothing I can do to help you."
"What?! Madam Guir?" More silence. "Madam Guir!"
"It's no use, she's walking away."
Hermione could feel those tears gather in her eyes as she met Fenrir's gaze. "What the hell is going on?"
She hated that a genuine look of confusion flickered across his face as he said, "Fucked if I know."
"What're we going to do?"
His shoulders slumped as his gaze shot from hers, to her wand still aimed at him in a trembling and weary grip, and back. "Well, first thing you're going to do is put that down."
"Not bloody likely," she snapped, giving him an incredulous once-over.
A soft growl rumbling in the back of his throat, Fenrir shook his head. "Think for a goddamn minute! As long as that wall's down, there's no getting anything through to us. No food, no water . . . no air."
"Oh, you've got to be kidding me." Her features pinched in a frantic look as she tried to sort her thoughts, as she darted her gaze about the cell. There was a metal cup of water, a dish of not-yet-touched food—though she used the word food loosely—even if they rationed that between them, it wouldn't last the next twenty-four hours. The cell was large, which meant it would take time before they ran out of air . . . but it would still happen if that wall wasn't raised. Which meant twenty-fours hours might find them both dead on the floor for all either of them knew, rationing of food and water or notwithstanding.
"The window," she said suddenly, the word spilling from her lips before she even caught up to her own thoughts.
His brow furrowed as he asked, "What?"
"There's . . . there's no window in here, but this corridor is above the water level. All the other cells above this floor have windows. Where is the window for this cell?"
Again, he said, "Fucked if I know. I think they covered over the windows in these cells when they decided to make this the solitary confinement wing following the War."
"They should've realized what a stupid decision that was when they put in this bloody security wall."
"You'd think, wouldn't you?"
Noticing the twitching of her own straining arm, she eyed him as she finally—reluctantly—lowered her weapon to her side. She didn't slacken her grip on it, though, keeping it at the ready in case she needed to snap her wand right back into position.
"Okay, neither of us knows what's going on, but our best bet right now is to find that window." She shook her head at the dubious look he gave her. "Look, barely any food, barely any water, yes, but the lack of oxygen will kill us before any of that even matters. The portions of the original wall would be more solidly reinforced against magical bombardment than simply some small window they filled in. We find where the window was, I can blast it open; we get air, and maybe a chance to not die in this ruddy little cell, okay?!"
He hid a smirk at her fiery display, holding up his hands. "I'd say we just repeatedly blast the wall until you make a hole, but I've a feeling you're reluctant to do anything that would allow me the slightest chance at escape, even if it means risking your own life to keep me locked up."
"And your feeling would be correct."
The werewolf snickered at that. She really didn't notice how at ease she actually was around him, even with her supposed dread of him, did she? Unless she typically had comfortable banter with those she hated and feared. "So, what's your plan, Skönhet?"
She rolled her eyes at the nickname, but let it slide. Some affectionate moniker was the least of her concerns right now. "Well, Beast, how sharp is your sense of smell?"
A puzzled expression crossed his face.
"You said you've got the hearing of wolf, right?" She gestured toward the where the window should be. "And you also said the covering of the window is new, yes?"
Realization dawning in his eyes, Fenrir nodded. "And you want to see if I can sniff out the difference between the new and old building materials, 's that it?"
The witch shrugged, a doubtful frown curving her lips as she thought back on glimpsing the cells on the floors above. "It's better than standing about doing nothing, isn't it? According to the prison's layout, the window should be in that wall, there," she said, jutting her chin in the suspect wall's direction.
Holding up his hands, once more, he turned toward it. "I could think of loads of better things we could do with our last breaths, but you're the one with the wand."
"And don't you forget it," she responded through lightly clenched teeth. The last thing she needed was for him to start making lurid suggestions.
Shaking his head, he turned his focus on the wall. Taking a good, long, whiff of the most visibly time-weathered portion, he started moving along the stonework.
She noted the way his head flicked to one side for the briefest moment, as though distracted by something. He didn't quite seem to notice it, himself, as he walked sideways, running his fingers across the rough surface as he took intermittent sniffs.
Hermione pulled her gaze from him as she realized her attention had lowered to wander the muscled lines of his back.
"What, um, what was that?" she asked.
"What was what?"
She arched a brow, though she refused to look up at any part of him again so soon after that very glaring lapse in judgement just now. "You did this funny little head-twitch thing."
"Oh." He shook his head as he continued his search. "There was something over there that smelled off. Actually . . . ." Fenrir paused, leaning close and drawing in a long, deep breath. "It actually smelled like this spot, here."
Stepping back just a little, he traced the edge of the different scent. Certainly looked like the shape of an Azkaban cell window. "Not newer materials. The make up of the stuff they used to block the window is different than the original materials, all together."
"Wait . . . that wall over there smells new?"
Backpedaling, he returned to his starting point and took a long whiff. "Yeah. That should be a solid wall, shouldn't it?"
Swallowing hard, she nodded. "Yeah, that should be foundation that runs right alongside the passage down here."
"Well, seems to me someone's—"
Fenrir lurched backward, throwing his arms over his head to avoid the splintered stone debris flying everywhere. Turning toward the witch, he saw her standing there with a furious expression twisting her face.
". . . Hiding something. Oy!" he bellowed, dropping his arms as the dust settled. "Want to warn someone next time you decide to turn a wall into shrapnel right in front of his face?"
Schooling her features, she met his gaze with a cool look and spoke with slow, precise enunciation. "I got very angry, and it was either you or the suspicious wall."
His eyes holding hers for a few heartbeats, he shrugged as he said, "Fair enough."
Hermione's gaze shifted from him to the destroyed wall. Her jaw fell open and she scrambled for something to say as she peered into the darkness. "That's . . . that's really a tunnel, isn't it?"
Following her indication, he nodded. "Seems so. I know you didn't want to let me out, but chances are, this is just some sort of workman's shaft that will let us out somewhere else in the prison."
"Can we be sure it's not a dead end?"
With a sigh, Fenrir stepped to the hole in the wall and ducked his head in, taking a deep breath. "The air's musty, but it's moving. This lets out somewhere."
As he pulled his head back, he could detect the sudden twinge of nervousness coming off her. "Or," he offered, his hands spread as he faced her, "We could just stay here now that we've got more air, and wait for them to come get us. You know, my jailors and the old bat who lied to you."
Hermione didn't like the jab at her mentor, at all. "I assure you that if Madam Guir was being deceitful with me, she had her reasons. I think it's fairly obvious something . . . unusual is going on here. Maybe she didn't even want to lie to me, did you think of that?"
"What the fuck do I care if she wanted to or not?" He gave her a skeptical once-over, as though he couldn't believe the words falling from her lips. "You Light witches really are daft sometimes."
She drew up to her full—comparatively meager—height, practically growling as she said, "I beg your pardon?"
Rolling his eyes, he sighed. "She lied. We have no idea how long we're going to be in this cell, and that," he said, stabbing his finger in the direction of his paltry prison meal, "is all the food or drink we have. And you are the one with the weapon, so obviously, I'm not going anywhere if you don't let me. So now, the question is, do we see where this tunnel leads, or stubbornly wait here and hope we get rescued before we starve, or dehydrate, to death?"
Hermione knew he was speaking sensibly. She knew that she just didn't want to agree because she didn't want to believe Madam Guir would willing allow her to be trapped with Fenrir Greyback. She didn't want to believe her being trapped here could be anything more than some terrible accident.
But she knew something was off, here. She'd felt it in those seconds before the wall had crashed down. And Greyback was correct, no matter what she wanted to think, if she waited for rescue, she might pay with her life.
And since when did she wait to be rescued?
"Fine, but you walk ahead of me," she said, before illuminating her wand. "I want you where I can see you."
Shaking his head as he breathed a snicker, Fenrir started into the tunnel. "You sure? I am part wolf, remember?"
"What's that got to do with anything?" she asked, crinkling her nose at the musty air.
Again he laughed, glancing over his shoulder at her. "I'm only saying I think you'd be pleasantly surprised with what I'd do if you allowed me behind you."
"Oh, shut up," she snapped, she cheeks flaming while she tried not to picture the werewolf behind her, at all. There was no way she was suddenly imagining those gorgeous back muscles rippling as he moved against her, or those teeth of his dragging across the skin of her throat in one of those not-to-harm-her bites he'd mentioned . . . .
The tension of the situation was giving her strange thoughts, that was all.
Humor edged his growling voice as he said, "I can smell that."
Scowling, she pretended she had no idea what he was talking about. "I said shut up."
Continuing forward, Fenrir smirked, deciding to keep any further observations to himself. That was all right, she'd figure that she actually wanted him, too, eventually.