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Straightaway Dangerous

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Much Madness is divinest Sense -
To a discerning Eye -
Much Sense - the starkest Madness -
‘Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail -
Assent - and you are sane -
Demur - you’re straightaway dangerous
And handled with a Chain

— Emily Dickinson

 

 

Prologue

May 2, 1998

Malfoy fell off the broom and lay face down, gasping, coughing, and retching. Harry rolled over and sat up: The door to the Room of Requirement had vanished, and Ron and Hermione sat panting on the floor beside Goyle, who was still unconscious. — Chapter 31, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

🌕 🌕 🌕

Harry was panicking over Ginny, but Hermione was doing her best not to vomit all over herself. She didn’t like brooms, and she was shaking, though she told herself over and over that it was done with, and the fire was trapped in the Room of Requirement, and she wouldn’t be consumed by burning flames or fall to her death tonight—probably. 

All she could think about was the Fiendfyre. She’d read about it, how it burned your soul long after your body died, how you suffered for centuries before you found peace… if you ever did. Looking at Malfoy’s stunned face and singed skin, she didn’t have the heart to tell even him, evil twat that he was.

The important thing was that they had destroyed all of the horcruxes save for the snake now. The end was in sight, and by God and Merlin, they would win this fucking battle. Hermione could say such a word in her head at least, even if she never would aloud. 

Then Percy and the twins backed into view, duelling the Imperius’d Minister, Thicknesse. 

“Hello, Minister!” Percy bellowed. “Did I mention I’m resigning?”

The twins cackled and Fred was saying, “You are—” but something large and growling pounced upon him, sending him flying back. Fred collapsed under the weight of it, and then it lifted its head and evil yellow eyes stared hungrily down at him. 

Hermione screamed, shaking uncontrollably. Greyback, she thought, her body frozen in fear. Bellatrix had wanted to give her to him. 

Greyback grinned maliciously and said, “Heard your little taunts on the wireless, Weasley. Didn’t think anyone would figure out your passwords, did you? Tsk, tsk, ain’t much a good round of Crucio won’t get out of a Mudblood. You first, methinks, and then your delicious brother.” 

Then quick as a flash, he lunged forward and bit down on Fred’s shoulder. Fred screamed, his voice raw and wet, and Hermione’s brain caught up with her fear; she lifted her wand to Greyback, a Reducto on her lips, but the castle wall imploded before she could get the words out. 

Had she somehow cast wordlessly? She’d never succeeded in that before, but magic did tend to amplify with stress and emotional trauma. 

Stones and rubble and portraits flew at them. Hermione ducked and covered her head. I’ve just kissed Ron for the first time, and now I’m going to die, she thought. 

She was knocked backwards into the blank space where the door to the Room of Requirement had just been. The stone was warm to the touch and she scrambled away, coughing and choking on the dust swirling in the air. Fred had stopped screaming, but there were panicked voices and sounds clouding up the corridor. Hermione stumbled towards them to help, but then the rubble began to move and Greyback pushed himself up, unharmed, leaving Fred surrounded by a pool of blood and the remains of a castle wall. 

Please be alive, Hermione screamed in her head, crawling towards Fred. Percy and George were yelling, climbing over the stones to get to their brother, and Hermione’s mind was spinning. She was so dizzy. Please just be unconscious

Greyback shook the dust from himself and stepped out of the mess. Fred’s leg was trapped beneath the rubble and George and Percy were trying desperately to free him. Ron hit him with an Ennervate and Fred’s eyes shot open. He gasped in pain, his hand going automatically to the gaping wounds on his shoulder. 

“Thank Merlin,” Harry cried as he stumbled over to help. 

Yeah, thank Merlin Greyback was mauling you, Hermione thought dazedly. Fred was right in the middle of all the rubble, and would doubtless be dead if the Werewolf had not been covering his body and head with his own. 

There was a terrified, aborted cry behind her, and she turned dazedly. Malfoy was staring straight at something right behind her. She turned back again and there was Greyback, so close she could smell the whiskey and blood on his fetid breath, feel it hit her face as he laughed. 

Hermione screamed. 

Greyback eyed the two of them for half a second, deciding who to take first, and in the end, swiped one big arm around both her and Malfoy’s shoulders and tackled them down together. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t hear anything but Malfoy’s raw, broken screams as Greyback’s teeth ripped into him. She reached blindly out and grabbed hold of Malfoy’s hand, struggling to free them both. Greyback was too strong, too heavy. 

The metallic scent of blood rose up, so heavy she could drown in it. Malfoy’s screams were becoming hoarse and sticky-sounding. He coughed and Hermione could hear the blood in it. We’re going to die, she thought again, squeezing Malfoy’s hand harder. He squeezed it back and she began to cry, even as she continued to struggle against Greyback. 

Malfoy stopped screaming and Hermione only had a second to understand why before she felt Greyback’s teeth clamp down on her thigh, searing right through the heavy denim of her jeans like they were not even there. Hermione threw her head back and screamed and screamed and screamed. Her body shook with adrenaline and violence. She couldn’t reach her wand; it was lodged under her leg.

Hermione kicked at Greyback’s gut with her uninjured leg, and pounded his head with the hand Malfoy wasn’t holding, but it did nothing to deter him. He chewed on her flesh like a steak, lapping at the wounds and slurping up her blood, and Hermione turned away and vomited through her screams, disgusted and horrified and agonised in nearly equal measure.

Malfoy’s fingers were squeezing hers tightly and she could feel him struggling with Greyback too, despite his own injury. Over her own screams, she recognised flashes of spell-fire and voices. Suddenly, Greyback jerked away from her leg and Hermione hurriedly pulled herself and Malfoy back to the wall, putting as much distance between them and the Werewolf as she could. She was breathing so heavily she thought she’d die, and was acutely aware of the fact that she was having a severe panic attack, the likes of which she had not suffered since OWLs. How much blood had she lost? Was there enough left? Was she going into shock?

Harry and Ron were firing spell after spell at Greyback, but it was doing little beyond surface wounds. He lunged at them and Hermione’s heart dropped into her stomach as Ron went down beneath him. She pulled herself up to sitting, supporting herself as best she could against the wall, and sent the strongest spells she knew at the Werewolf. A well placed Expelliarmus sent him flying back, and he whirled around, advancing on her and Malfoy again. 

“No!” a woman cried. 

A black figure jumped between them, grunting as Greyback pounced, his mouth closing around a forearm. The pair fell backwards, landing atop Hermione and Malfoy and causing both of them to scream in agony as their wounds lit up in pain. The newcomer’s hood fell back and golden blonde hair spilled out, darkening with blood as it fell over Malfoy’s wounds.

“Mother, no!” Malfoy shrieked. 

Narcissa Malfoy struggled beneath Greyback, her teeth bared in fury and pain as his jaws clamped down on her arm. She wriggled beneath him, and then Hermione heard her speak. Her voice was as cold and contained as ice as she bit out, “Avada Kedavra.”

The green light that flared up reflected the surprise on Greyback’s bloodied face. He collapsed on top of the three of them, and all the other noises of the battle disappeared. Hermione could hear nothing but Malfoy’s panicked breaths, and Narcissa’s forcedly calm ones. 

Mrs Malfoy shuddered, and then said, her voice shaky, “Levicorpus.” 

She heaved her wand-hand outwards and Greyback’s body followed the movement, flying down the corridor and crashing into a suit of armour. 

Mrs Malfoy pulled herself up on trembling legs, then turned to help Draco. After a moment’s hesitation, she helped Hermione up, as well. Hermione favoured her good leg, feeling faint from blood loss.

“Ron,” Hermione cried, trying to stumble over to them, but not making it very far. “Harry.” 

Were they still alive? Were they bleeding to death? 

“Hermione!” Ron yelled. 

She couldn’t see him, but his voice was full of suppressed pain, and she choked back a sob as she crawled in the direction of it. George and Percy were robeless and shirtless, having shucked them to create bandages for Harry and their brothers. Fred was leaning against the wall already trussed up, looking woozy but alive and conscious. Ron was reaching for her, his face covered in tear tracks as Percy tightened a sling over his arm and shoulder. 

Harry stood by them, already wrapped up. He looked to be in shock. When he saw Hermione approaching, he shook his head and stumbled towards her, legs shaking. His eyes travelled down to her destroyed denims and then back up to her face, his expression grim. 

Harry licked his dry lips, and wordlessly held his hand out to her. The bandage over it was soaked through in blood, and the blood was black.

Hermione stopped and looked down at her leg for the first time. Blood as black as tar ran down her thigh and calf, pooling in a black puddle by her shoe. Hermione inhaled sharply — It wasn’t a full moon; how could—? 

She whirled around and saw that both Malfoys bled the same. The colour of infection, the colour of Lycanthropy, pouring from their bodies.

“We must dress these wounds properly,” Mrs Malfoy stated. “We need to retreat to a safe place for medical attention before we suffer too much blood loss to be helped.”

Percy nodded. “The Gryffindor common room isn’t far. It should be safer than out here.”

“Unless the Tower falls,” George muttered, already heaving Fred up. 

Harry looked suspiciously at the Malfoys, but seemed to think that Draco was of no threat in this state, and Narcissa less of one until Draco, at least, was saved. Goyle lay Stunned and untouched at their feet next to the broken diadem. Twice he’d been lucky tonight. 

“Good, you all go.” Harry’s mouth was set in that way Hermione hated.

“What about you? You were bitten, too,” Ron said, struggling to get up despite Percy’s hands keeping him in place. “I’m not letting you go alone!”

“Me neither!” Hermione said. 

“No, you have to get healed or you’ll bleed out,” Harry said. “Mine’s not as bad.”

Hermione nodded dazedly, thinking that she’d just Episkey the bite and be on her way, Harry’s opinion be damned. There was a bright flash that reminded her of Colin Creevey, and she giggled at how silly it would be to take a photo during battle. She aimed her wand at her thigh, but was having trouble focusing. Then a great wave of dizziness overcame her, and Hermione crumpled to the floor.