* * * A/N: Huge apologies ! I've been out of fanfic for this whole school year; but now that classes are done, I've jumped right back in. Provided a lengthy chapter for your enjoyment :) While I had originally intended to make this only three chapters, I think I'm going to go the distance. Expect a few more in the coming weeks ! * * *
Pathos. Although she'd never admit it aloud, passion was her guiding principle. Most would suspect logic as her master; she was, as everyone knew, the brightest witch the wizarding world had seen yet. Still, others would proclaim she was a slave to ethos; Hermione did, after all, have a strict sense of right and wrong. She was a strong moral backbone as Harry Potter's 'sidekick.' Creating S.P.E.W., seeking out potential Death Eaters in her spare time and trying to convert them, telling Harry and Ron off when they were doing something immoral. But pathos—
If she had no feelings, she wouldn't have brazenly marched forward under the hood of reason. If she had no emotions, she wouldn't have made her principles clear, wouldn't have argued for her stance on life.
If she had no passion, she wouldn't be here, now, gathering her strength and imprisoning Theodore and Draco at their secret location.
Hermione smiled softly and stood up, pushing herself away from the table. Her stomach content, her mind alert…everything, so far, was going smoothly.
She snuck a glance at Draco, who was still stupefied. Hermione contemplated performing the counter-curse, deciding against it at the last moment. Better he stay quiet than conscious. Theodore watched her, his hair loosely covering his face. Hermione patted her robes, making sure the two Slytherins' wands were still tucked safely inside.
"Show me your communication device," Hermione commanded as she turned towards Theodore.
He crossed his arms over his chest and glared defiantly. Hermione briefly wondered if he was trying to fool an audience or just himself.
She waited. Theodore showed no signs of faltering. Hermione pointed her wand at him and began muttering a curse. His eyes showed signs of confusion, of unfamiliarity—No, Theo, not even you would know this spell. She flicked her wrist towards Draco and muttered the same curse.
A neon green wisp of light floated between the Slytherins. Draco continued to float unconsciously; Theodore opened his mouth to speak but stopped short when his body slowly started to float.
He struggled to get down. Hermione chuckled. Theodore snarled.
"Herm—" he shut his mouth and tried again. "Granger!"
She looked at him expectedly.
"Stop—get me down from here!"
"I'm not doing anything," Hermione said nonchalantly.
Theodore's body mirrored Draco's unconscious one. "Then how the bloody hell are you doing this?"
"You're linked to Malfoy, now," she answered, suppressing a grin. "You'll be stupefied in a minute if you don't tell me where your communicator is."
Theodore narrowed his eyes at her. "It's a catch-twenty-two, regardless," he said as he floated. "You still won't know where the communication device is."
"True," Hermione murmured. "But how long will it take me to find on my own? Perhaps you'd rather wake up at the Order to be dealt with by Harry and Ron and Lupin and—"
"Fuck, Granger," Theodore muttered. He seemed silly, very un-Theodore-like, floating quietly in the air wearing a frown. "I'd tell you to follow me, but what good would that do?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Just tell me where to go, Nott."
He crossed his arms over his chest. "Rennervate Malfoy first."
"Why the bloody hell would I do that?"
Theodore smirked. "You wouldn't. Unless you want my help. Or…" Theodore glanced around mockingly. "You could always just find everything on your own."
She fumed. How dare he turn the tables on her like that? Hermione mulled over his proposition quietly.
Theodore uncrossed his arms and scratched his head. "You really hate Malfoy that much, then? And here I thought it was just some pent-up tension."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Tension is always pent-up, Theo." She aimed her wand at Draco, hesitating slightly. "Rennervate."
The blond Slytherin came to. He blinked before shuffling drastically in mid-air. Hermione laughed as a flashback of Draco as a ferret, bouncing in the air, played before her eyes.
"What the bloody hell is going on?" Draco yelled. Theodore sighed, keeping still—or at least, as still as one could be when suspended in the air. It reminded Hermione of Muggle astronauts. She wondered briefly if any Wizards had ever been into space.
"Granger's locked us in a curse," Theodore explained.
Hermione lifted her chin slightly. "It's an invisible connection between you two," she explained matter-of-factly. "It links you so that—"
"For Merlin's sake, Granger, would you just bloody shut the hell up!?" Draco was fuming. Hermione narrowed her eyes at his impatience.
"It's just a little further until we reach communication," Theodore said softly to Hermione.
Draco swirled in Theodore's direction. "Are you crazy?! We're helping now?"
Theodore refolded his arms over his chest. Draco threw him a dirty look which, Hermione mused, was usually intended for her.
"You would think," she said aloud, "that after spending so much time in your Death Eater camps or whatever, you two wouldn't mind spending time together." She disabled the levitation spell and watched as both Slytherins dropped gracefully to the floor. "Now, we've got somewhere between five and forty-five minutes to get out of here, depending on which one of you is correct about the time. Seeing as I don't plan on playing the role of the hostage bit any longer, let's be on our way."
Theodore and Draco both stared at her. "You are aware you wasted about, I'd say, maybe half of your allotted time sophistically explaining what we are dully aware of," Theodore said.
Draco snorted in response. "You know, Nott, I'll wager that not only was she dreadfully aware of wasting time, but she fancied a bit of showing off before leading us to our doom."
"She does get a lovely color in her cheeks when she's listing off answers," Theodore added thoughtfully.
"Couldn't help but notice she tints that same color when someone plays with her—"
"Enough!" Hermione squeaked with eyes wide before Draco could finish. "Of all the wizards in all the world, I had to be stuck with you both!" She walked up to Theodore and poked him in the back with her wand. "Now move."
Draco rocked on his heels. "The best part is, I bet he's utterly used to that sort of thing." Hermione glanced back at Draco. He looked around, as if it were obvious. "You know," he said as he imitated Hermione. "The poking?"
"You would know, Malfoy," Theodore replied before walking through the corridor. Draco felt a tug and was forced to follow pursuit. Hermione trailed at the end, gripping the wand tightly.
Calling it a "communication device" was putting it simply.
Hermione was not a technological person. In the Muggle world, computers held no sway over her. Knowledge had to have texture, like the type found in lectures and musty ancient books and on notes. Anything regarding dry and cold mechanics could not, in her mind, produce the same results as colorful and real as the wizard techniques around her.
With that being said, it was with a strange combination of awe and disgust that she looked upon Theodore's invention. It wasn't quite a telephone, nor was it a radio. On one side, there was a two-way speaker of which the wizard on this end could delegate a conversation. Next to the speaker was a series of tubes; green, yellow, blue, and even pink—"No, red," Draco had persisted—floated down it's designated glass case and into the mechanics. Hermione assumed it ran multiple potions at once, dealing with transfiguring sound waves or whatever they called it in the Wizarding world.
Instead of voicing her opinions or giving away her amazement, Hermione turned to Theodore and tapped her foot several times. She finally opened her mouth to speak, not trusting the words which might tumble out of her. "How?"
Theodore grinned. Draco stepped forward and pointed to himself. "I helped build it, you know. In fact, if it weren't for you and your intolerable appetite for shoving information down other people's throats, perhaps Theodore would never have even researched your good friend, Thomas Edison."
"Or any other Muggle studying the underlying currents of electricity," Theodore mused. "I had always known about electric things, but it wasn't until that night of experimentation I actually understood what electric was."
"What 'electricity' was," Hermione corrected automatically.
Draco stepped between Theodore and Hermione. Theodore looked at the ceiling in annoyance and placed his hands in his robe's pockets. "Next time," Draco said, "if there is a next time, I mean, you might want to think carefully about who you encourage to read. Didn't know you were such a dolt as to go around handing valuable information to Death Eaters, eh?"
Hermione looked past Draco. Theodore kept his eyes at the ceiling. She sighed quietly. "Back then, we weren't enemies." The witch shook her head and recomposed herself. She raised her wand in both Slytherins' direction. "Now. Connect me to the Order. Let me speak to Harry."
Her voice was frantic. She gripped the machine tighter with her hands and shook it. "Harry, can you hear me? Harry!" A pause. She bent over the device and tightened her grip. A few strands of hair fell over her face and she, too frustrated to move it, yelled into the speaker.
"Harry, please respond!" She shook it. "Someone, say something!"
Hermione waited. Only a few seconds managed to go by before she got impatient. She kicked the table and the entire device rattled. Draco and Theodore watched her closely from the corner of the room.
A static emerged from the depths of the speaker. There were words, mumbled words, and it cut out every few seconds. "Hello?" Hermione asked loudly. The static remained. She wondered if the person on the other line had the common sense to walk up to the object broadcasting her message. Theodore informed her she had to think of something tall and metallic within the stronghold of the Order. Hermione chose the coat-rack she so clearly remembered in her mind.
Perhaps the reason the communication had been so shoddy was because of the coats possibly present on the rack. She inhaled. Lifted her chin. Straightened out her robes. With a gentler touch, Hermione fingered the tubes and knobs of Theodore's device. She leaned over the speaker and spoke in a softer voice, with more authority.
"Hello," she stated. "This is Hermione Granger. I have been taken hostage by a Draco Malfoy and Theodore Nott while running with Colin Creevey to safety in Hogwarts. I suspect I am being held underground, where there is water above us, and I have reason to believe we are still physically connected to Hogwarts. I repeat, this is Hermione Granger. I have been taken hostage by Draco and Theodore, and I am trying to escape inevitable doom."
Hermione clicked off the machine as Draco snorted. "Inevitable doom, eh?"
"I've never known Granger to be a blind optimist," Theodore responded.
The witch swallowed. Ran her hands over her ridiculously tangled and frizzy hair. Theodore watched her intently. She knew he recognized her psychological patterns; they had spent so much time in and out of Hogwarts under the most stressful of conditions.
She flicked both her wrists in habit. One of them made a cracking sound. Hermione checked over her robes once more, straightening them out with the palms of her hands, before speaking.
"I am about to do something unforgivable."
At this, Draco joined Theodore in staring at the witch. He fidgeted while Theodore stood still.
Hermione raised her wand. She calculated which wizard to hit, which one would be more useful. Draco's eyes widened. Theodore did not move.
"Granger," Draco said carefully. He slowly lifted his hands up to the same level as his waist, as if willing her to stop.
She thought back to what Harry had told her about Draco. She stared at Theodore and wondered if he had ever practiced this obscure branch of magic. Shifting her wand from each wizard slowly raised her heartbeat and strengthened her resolve.
Suddenly, she cast her arm in Draco's direction. "Imperio!"
A calm washed over Draco both mentally and physically. Theodore whipped his head to his partner's direction before turning back to Hermione.
"He doesn't even know the way out!" he blurted in a rare lapse of composure.
"I figured as much," Hermione said quietly, choosing to avoid Theodore's eyes. Draco walked to Hermione out of her accord. She handed him his wand.
Draco clasped his right hand over it, even though he was left-handed, and pointed it in Theodore's direction. "Legilimens!"
Theodore fell back and clutched his head with a yell. Hermione looked on with a stoic face. She reminded herself it was the best means of her survival, and it was much better than torturing the two until they led her to freedom. She remembered Harry had told her about his occlumency lessons with Snape; by a stroke of luck, she guessed right in assuming Snape would have taught his favorite Slytherin the skill of legilimency. Hermione hoped she guessed right a second time by assuming Theodore had no skill in blocking unwanted trespassers.
"Tell me what you see, Draco Malfoy," she said calmly.
"There's a door which hits the sun," Draco recalled, void of emotion. "That's the exit."
Hermione rolled her strained neck to relieve some of the tension racking her body. "And how do we get there?"
There was quiet. Theodore yelled in an effort to block the mental attack.
"Straight, right, left, curve, slope, left, left, straight, right—"
Hermione shook her head. Draco stopped. She took the nearest object to her and transfigured it into a piece of parchment as well as a quill and ink. Grabbing Draco by the arm, she led him to the table. "Draw it out, please."
Draco's inked lines visibly shook as he drew out a map. Theodore was breathing heavily, hands on his knees. He inhaled deeply before straightening. When he stood, Hermione saw a harshness in his eyes which had not been found on his features since before—well, before they both happened.
She glanced over at Draco, who was still drawing the details of the map. She preferred the impersonal mindlessness of the imperius curse over the dark, accusatory stare of Theodore Nott. Hermione shifted her weight from one leg to the other and tapped her wand against the desk, willing herself to stare at the map. What was she supposed to do, apologize?
"All's fair in love and war," Hermione said softly. She heard Theodore give a derisive laugh.
"Once a Muggle, always a Muggle," he said, quiet but scathingly. It was his tone which always alarmed her. Unlike Draco, Theodore wove his malice through a hushed voice. "It's not just pretty little magic tricks that make real women witches."
She stared hard at Draco's penmanship. She wished he would hurry so she could stop participating in such dark magic, get away from all of this. "And that's what it all comes down to, isn't it?" she asked. "What this war, all these conflicts, are really all about."
Theodore didn't reply. She wasn't going to turn around. With resolution, she kept talking as Draco kept drawing. "What logical or ethical reason is there behind blood purity? I've thought it over and I've rethought it over and I can't find the answer." Draco was finished with the map. She put down her wand and picked up the map, examining it carefully as she spoke. "It's fanaticism, really, which is drowned in passion and empty of moral consequence, of reasoning. Muggles are—"
Hermione felt it too late. A pull at her robes, and Theodore had grabbed both of the wands back. She reached for her wand before Draco had a chance to snatch it. With arm extended and wand pointed in their direction, she watched as Theodore handed Draco his wand back. They never broke eye-contact with her. She looked between the Slytherins in shock. "How did you—"
Draco smirked cruelly. "Rule number one about Unforgivables."
"Never break concentration," Theodore finished.
She ran. A hex was fired in her direction. Another one sizzled past, grazing her left shoulder. She stumbled with a gasp and forced herself onward. Feet traveled without thinking as she glanced down at the parchment, memorizing the steps ahead.
"You'll pay for this you fucking mudblood!" Draco yelled down the stony corridors. All in all, she was more afraid of what Theodore was planning. Even though she had violated Draco of his freedom, of his will, Theodore was the one who trusted her to begin with. She closed her eyes for the briefest of moments and pushed her momentum. Hermione turned right as a curse hit the corner.
The ceiling seemed to grow shorter; the hallways more narrow. The candles along the walls had not been lit; she had to be nearing the exit. Hermione whispered "lumos" to her wand, out of breath but determined to get out.