Chapter Thirteen - Dover
Draco had overcome some of his aversion to dirt. He lay stretched out on the floor with his head resting on his rolled-up Death Eater robes. He amused himself by expelling various notions from the end of his wand: fireflies; iridescent bubbles, tiny multicolored sparks that spiraled crazily around the cave before exploding in a mini-fireworks display; a hoard of sparkling blue butterflies that melted into vapor; and a shower of sweet-scented red rose petals that now lay forgotten on the cave floor.
"I've been thinking," Luna announced suddenly, after a miraculous two minutes of silence.
"Not about the Crumple-Horned Snorkack, I hope, because I've heard enough about those to last several lifetimes."
"No, I've been thinking that my father would never have set up a one-way Portkey to a place with no exit. That would be idiotic."
"Of course. No one in your family would ever be idiotic."
She either ignored, or didn't catch, the sarcasm as she got to her feet.
"Exactly. So there must be an exit. We only need to find it."
Draco rolled over onto his stomach to watch her as she plucked her wand from the center of the floor. She had lit it, candle-like, and braced it with rocks while they waited. She marched to a wall and examined it closely while running a hand over the surface.
"You might have thought of this an hour ago."
"Actually, I did, but you seemed interested in the Crumple-Horned Snorkack, plus I really enjoyed watching you conjure—who would have guessed someone so nasty could make such pretty butterflies?"
For a moment, Draco considered conjuring a nest of venomous snakes, but he clamped down sharply on the urge by taking several calming breaths. He congratulated himself on his patience when she said, "Aha! Here it is."
A large section of the cave wall suddenly opened up and emitted a welcome draft of sea-laden air and bright sunlight. Draco scrambled to his feet. He joined Luna on a ledge overlooking a vast expanse of ocean. Far below, a wave crashed upon jagged rocks and sent up white spray. To the right, the cliffs curved away out of sight. To the left, nothing was visible but the rock wall and a few Muggle ships far out on the water. Draco stood at the edge of the ledge and looked up, hoping by some miracle to spot a path or ladder or even a weathered rope. As expected, there was nothing but fifty feet of unscalable rock. Draco sighed and lifted his coin.
Granger, I know where we are.
Well, not really. We're on the White Cliffs of Dover. And when I saw 'on' I mean literally. Miss Snorkack found a door, so at least we're outside. I'm going to take us to the top and try to get our bearings.
Draco knew she meant be invisible. Couldn't have any bloody Muggles spotting us now, could we? He Accioed his Death Eater robes and shrugged them on. He looked at Luna, who was peering at the waves below as if transfixed.
"I think I see a Merclops," she said. Draco didn't dare ask.
"Come here. I need to Apparate us to the top."
She stared at him in horror. "Heavens no! Are you trying to kill us? Apparition, honestly."
Draco clenched his jaw so hard he felt his teeth might crack.
"Then, how do you propose we get up there?" he asked through his teeth. "I don't happen to have a broom with me."
"Can't you cast a flying spell? Even I can do that one. Except I can't right now. Underage magic, you know."
Draco rubbed a hand through his hair and began to realize why Potter's was constantly in disarray. How could he be around these people on a daily basis without turning them into something horrific?
He cast Wingardium Leviosa on the girl and then caught her sleeve as she began to drift seaward. He cast one on himself and then spent the next ten minutes trying to keep them headed in the right direction, instead of floating about with every breeze. He was dripping with sweat by the time they floated over the green grass and he terminated the spell. He looked around through tired eyes.
"Any idea where we are?" he asked.
"Britain?" she suggested.
"Remind me why I shouldn't kill you."
If she reminded him, he didn't hear it, as he was holding the Galleon once more.
I'm seeing a lot of green. Hang on, we're in a depression. Let me get to the top.
He walked until he stood atop the rise and looked around. Aside from limitless green, he spotted what looked to be a pier jutting out into the water.
He described his surroundings in detail.
All right, you're close to Dover to walk, if necessary. I'll meet you in front of Dover Castle, under the arch. Let me know when you get there. I'll Apparate straight to you as soon as you judge it safe.
Fine, Draco replied, although the thought of walking was nearly as unpleasant as the thought of finally revealing himself to Hermione Granger.
They made it to Dover Castle without Draco pushing Luna into the Atlantic, which he saw as a testament to sheer willpower.
"Prepare yourself," he said as they reached what he assumed was the correct spot, "She will likely go completely mental." He gazed about, but tourist activity seemed to be minimal.
We're here, he sent.
Hermione Apparated after a quick apology to Sturgis, whom she had left to wait for Mr. Lovegood, against his wishes. It took her an instant to get her bearings and she gasped in disbelief when she heard a shouted Expelliarmus! Her wand flew out of her hand. She stared at Draco Malfoy in mounting horror.
"You! What are you--?" She halted at the sight of Luna, whose right hand was wrapped around Malfoy's arm. Luna's wand was held loosely in her left hand and she smiled dreamily. It was not the sight of Luna clinging to Malfoy, but the fact that he was not shaking her off in utter distaste that finally penetrated Hermione's shocked mind. She doubted her jaw could open any wider and she simply could not find words for a moment.
Malfoy bowed sardonically and managed to make it look insulting.
"Devlin Whitehorn, at your service," he said and followed it up with his patented hateful smirk.
"You can't be. You simply can't be…" she choked finally.
"She's a bit slow today," Draco said to Luna, who sighed and released his arm after giving it a nice pat.
"I'll get her wand," she said. "You can explain it to her."
She wandered off across the greensward, humming. Hermione did not take her eyes from Malfoy.
"All right, Granger, I know what you're thinking, since you're terribly suspicious and mistrusting. Ask me something only your Devlin Whitehorn would know," he suggested.
Hermione gritted her teeth. "Last night… I ask you some questions."
"Quite a lot of them, actually, and some were rather personal questions to be asking a stranger, I'll have you know. Never would have guessed you to be so forward, but I suppose it's true what they say about the bookish ones—"
"The questions!" she snapped.
Draco grinned wickedly and his eyes seemed to gleam like polished silver. "You asked if I had any scars and I told you I had one on—"
"Stop, stop, stop! Oh God." Hermione could not have blushed any darker. She was completely mortified. "I can't believe this. I simply can't believe it." She had been teasing—and bloody fantasizing!—about Draco Malfoy! "You… you are responsible for Dumbledore's… Why did you tell me about my parents?" She felt her voice beginning to rise. "What possible self-serving reason could you have to warn me? And to save Luna? What kind of horrible trick are you playing?"
Draco sighed and actually wore an expression she'd never seen on him before. She couldn't quite place it before it was gone. "I knew this would be difficult for you, but I didn't realize it would be impossible. Look, would it help if I gave you my wand?"
He stepped forward and held it out to her, grip first. She eyed him suspiciously, wondering what wicked game he was playing. She nearly snatched his wand, but then she noticed the tension in his jaw. His fingers tightened slightly when she reached for it and she realized it was no trick—he really was giving up his wand to her. She drew in a surprised breath and grasped the dark wood gently. He released it and stepped back, grey eyes narrowed.
"Well, you have me at your mercy," he said. "What do you plan to do now?"
Hermione didn't answer. Her mind was spinning. She replayed every conversation she'd had with Devlin—Draco!—over the past two days. He'd been with Luna long enough to have disposed of her several times over. Or taken her to Death Eater Headquarters. Hell, she'd been holding his arm like they were the best of friends! She turned and stared at Luna, who had retrieved Hermione's wand and was spinning in the grass with both arms spread wide. Her blond hair flew out in a tumbled curtain. She staggered dizzily and fell down. Hermione sighed.
"I'd suggest you Confunded her, except that's pretty normal behavior for Luna," Hermione said.
"Want to hear about the Crumple-Horned Snorkack?" Draco countered dryly. "I know all about them, now."
"No. We'd better get back. I haven't a clue what to do with you. I can't take you to the Order. Even if I wanted to. Which I don't. I suppose it would be a bad idea for you to return to—wherever you were?"
"And try to explain where I've been for the past two hours? To the Dark Lord? How about if you Polyjuice into me and go in my place?"
Hermione thought about that for a moment.
"Do you think that would work?" she asked.
Draco rolled his eyes. "You're not seriously considering it?"
She wasn't, but it suddenly worried her that someone could take on the shape of an Order member and walk straight into Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. She set the idea aside for later study.
"Let's take Luna home. Hopefully, her father's returned from wherever he disappeared to."
"She won't Apparate. Or use magic. Or a list of dozens of other things."
"I know. We'll have to take a Muggle cab."
Draco looked so horrified she actually laughed aloud.
"Contrary to what you may think, Muggle residue will not rub off and harm you."
She looked at him critically. "However, you simply can't march around in Death Eater robes. What do you have on under those?"
"Trying to undress me already, Granger? I've only just switched sides."
She tried hard not to flush and thought she managed it. "Spare me the cheek and let me see."
He shrugged out of the robes, to expose form-fitting black trousers and a blousy black silk shirt. With his silver-blonde hair and pale skin, he looked like every girls' vampire dream. That would never do. He'd have Gothic-punk chicks falling at his feet and trailing him around town.
Luna was sitting up, watching them. Hermione Accioed her own wand without comment. She pointed it at Malfoy and transfigured his trousers into jeans and his shirt into a white T-shirt. Draco jumped back.
"Blast it! Warn a person before you go rearranging their clothing, won't you? What the hell is this?"
Hermione's teeth worried her lower lip. In Muggle clothing, he was even more striking than in archaic wizard-wear. Jeans fit him perfectly and the T-shirt made him look like he belonged on a street corner with a fag dangling from his lips while he catcalled at girls and planned his next caper. Luna returned and watched curiously as Hermione tried again.
are you doing?" he demanded and actually gasped at the
outfit she'd put him in. "Bloody hell! No! Draco Malfoy does
not wear orange! Ever. And what kind of fabric is this? Did
you yank it straight off the goat?"
She'd put him in the most loathsome creation she could think of—an orange and brown patterned jumper and khaki slacks. The problem was he didn't look loathsome at all. He looked like a carefree student recently escaped from prep school. The type that would invite you to his flat to "study" and have you sitting on his lap in five seconds or less. A preppy angel.
"Damn you," she growled, realizing for the first time just how handsome Malfoy really was. He'd always been good looking, but his pure malice had completely blinded her to it. Now, he looked like a damned Adonis. An irritated, scowling Adonis. Even his damned scowl was beautiful. She put him in torn black jeans and a red shirt that looked as if it had been slashed by werewolves. A chain belt dangled from his lean hips. She realized her mistake as even Luna stared at him with her jaw unhinged. He looked like a sexy rock star. When the hell had he grown muscles? He was supposed to be thin and weedy!
"What exactly are you trying to do?" Draco asked in a glacial tone.
"I'm trying to make you inconspicuous. To blend in with the Muggles."
"I don't think that's going to be possible," said Luna in a dazed voice.
"Fine." She restored his clothing to the original vampire-chic. "Put your robes back on, then."
He obediently replaced his robe, and she transfigured it into a fashionable taupe trench coat, breathing a sigh of relief when he was mostly covered in fabric. He examined his outfit by shifting from side to side.
"Not bad, actually."
"Yes, well, you look like an international spy, but at least we shouldn't have girls chasing you down the street throwing phone numbers at you. Come along."
She turned on a heel and headed for downtown Dover.
"What's a phone number?" Luna asked Malfoy. "I'll throw mine at you, if I have one."
Hermione prayed for patience. She knew she was going to need it.