The Pensieve: Part TwoAuthor:
Thea witchiepooh Pairing/Characters:
Eventually Draco/Hermione, Ron, Kingsley ShackleboltRating:
PG-13 for nowDisclaimer:
I don't own Harry Potter or any of these characters.Summary:
Hermione prepares to enter the memories of Draco Malfoy. You can read Part One here
Thanks to those of you who provided me with feedback and encouraged me to continue this story. Special thanks to reetinkerbell
for letting me bounce my ideas off her and for chanteur_dombre
Hermione lounged on her second-hand sofa, eating a late morning “breakfast of champions” (which consisted of Cadbury’s Flake and a Diet Coke). Two vials of potion – for Insta- and Dreamless Sleep – sat unopened on a nearby counter. They were blatant reminders that she was ignoring Kingsley's orders. But she couldn’t sleep – not yet. First she needed to sift the events of the past few hours through her overly active mind.
It was no surprise Kingsley wanted her to be the one to delve into Malfoy's Pensieve. Among the many things Hermione excelled at, "memory extraction and analysis" came near the top of the list.
Although Hogwarts remained open after Albus Dumbledore’s death, Hermione, Harry, Ron and a number of other students had been allowed to skip their final year. In lieu of a formal education, they were given Ministry of Magic approval to receive “on the job” Auror training. Hermione decided to become a Memoria, an Auror who specializes in examining the memories of dark wizards. This particular discipline emerged in large part because wizards had become more adept at using the Pensieve for strategic purposes.
During the war, the devices were often used to probe Azkaban prisoners for information. At first their memories were taken by force, a practice Hermione found barbaric. It seemed another example of how archaic the Wizard world could be when it came to individual rights. But when the Ministry found that many of these coerced thoughts were incoherent and unusable, they developed ways to compromise with inmates. They allowed them certain privileges in exchange for their willing cooperation in what became known as the Pensieve Program.
Hermione was drawn to the program. In particular, she was fascinated by how incidents in their past could motivate wizards and witches to act in certain ways. As a Muggle-born, there was an additional layer of human psychology she applied to her studious approach.
But this was a double-edged sword for the brainy witch. On one hand, her insatiable appetite to discover every last detail – often viewing a Pensieve like a living, breathing library of the individual – is what made her so damn good at finding the hidden crevices. On the other hand, it made her vulnerable. Visiting so many wounded personal histories, so deeply, became a burden on her own soul.
Also, much to the dismay of Harry and Ron, she often empathized with prisoners after witnessing their memories. To her, many appeared abused and forced – through hate, lies and fear – into their lives of servitude at the feet of Lord Voldemort.
Given this, it had been no shock when Ron vehemently objected to Kingsley’s request. But if it could help them find Harry, she argued, it was worth going inside the Slytherin’s past.
Or so she told Ron and the others. She had to admit – though only to herself – that the idea of breaching the inner landscape of Malfoy's mind was daunting. With all the wizards and witches she'd studied through the Pensieve, she had never analysed someone she had a real history with, since most of the prisoners were older. With Malfoy, it was very possible she could encounter her own image. And if that did happen, she knew it wouldn't be a pretty sight.
There was also the problem of this particular Pensieve, which, among other things, contained a multitude of memories. Rather than having the luxury of placing them in one by one and reviewing each individually, she would have to navigate with the steady assurance of one steering a small boat through a hurricane. The key was to find the eye of the storm, then move from there into each thread of thought. It wouldn't be easy.
But she knew it was the only way to discover what happened to Malfoy. Questions assaulted her from every side. For instance, why was he in New York? Why alone? Why did he have nothing but the Pensieve when he was found? Why was he unable to speak or even react? It was so frustrating that in order to solve the puzzle of where Harry was, she first had to solve Malfoy's mystery.
Was he running away from something or someone – his father, perhaps? Or, had he ended up in the hotel intentionally, a trap set by a man Hermione knew would not hesitate to dangle his only child as bait?
But no, that didn't make sense. Lucius Malfoy had his prize. Whatever brought the younger wizard to that point, and made him a shell of a person, was an accident. Yet even that seemed off. In all the years she'd known Draco Malfoy – from his first nasty, childish sneer to the tall, pale figure she'd seen in a flash of wand light – he was always calculating his next move. She had no evidence to support it, but she felt sure he had planned his own unexpected appearance. It's just the plan had gone terribly wrong.
Hermione sighed, settling further into the soft cushions and their womb-like comfort. Her body was beyond tired, but her mind continued to race.****
"Hermione, why must you be so bloody difficult? I'm going with you and that's final," insisted Ron. They'd been arguing in her office at the Ministry for over an hour. As expected, he had decided the only way he would allow her to go into the Pensieve, would be if he went too.
A very big part of her wanted to scream "Yes, please come with me, I don't want to go alone!" But in order to do her job – to search through each memory and its individual nuances – she had to go alone. Even if he was there just as reassurance, it would be a distraction. "You know that won't work, Ronald."
He just stood in front of her desk, shaking his head. He was determined to win this one
"Look, you can be there, I just need to enter the Pensieve by myself." She looked at him sternly. "For Harry."
"For... " He threw his hands up in the air, "For Harry, are you daft? Do you think he would want you to enter the malicious evil memories of that... that..."
"That what, Ronald? Killer? Do you think all this time when I've been observing Death Eaters in Azkaban it's been sunshine and lollipops?" Her voice had developed a tone that straddled the line between firm and hysterical. "Yes, right, Bellatrix Lestrange certainly had a number of cute puppies in her
memories. Well, until she drowned them." Hermione shuddered. Those were definitely snapshots she would like to erase. A hazard of being a Memoria was that sometimes it was hard to forget the visions. They became her nightmares.
Ron looked as if he was trying very
hard not to explode in the way he always had when they were younger. "Look, Hermione. I know what you've done before... and... to be honest I don't really like it." When she looked like she would be the one to blow up this time he quickly added, "but I accept it. I do. But... this is Malfoy, for fuck's sake. I know you've probably seen worse but... well... it's Malfoy
." And then he sat down, slumping in the chair. He knew from her chin-up, stony expression that Hermione would not move. What was the point of tearing himself up, shouting and pleading? When it came to fighting with Hermione, he could be a raging ocean crashing against her and it didn't make any difference. She was an unbreakable rock.
She recognized the defeat in his body language. For some reason, it made her feel an almost unbearable sadness. Tears started to form in her eyes, but she stopped them. "Don't worry," she reassured him – or maybe herself. "I'll be fine." ****
No personal visitors had come to see Draco Malfoy since his arrival at St. Mungo's – just a parade of Ministry officials. None of them lasted long. The open-eyed vacancy of the blond wizard was unsettling. Even as he lived and breathed, the light was turned off behind those grey orbs. He stared out at nothingness and yet his gaze seemed to penetrate everything.
Malfoy had been at the hospital for two days when Hermione stood – hesitating – in the entryway of his unadorned room. She walked in slowly, her heart beating fast. When she saw that he was turned away from the door, she let out the breath she'd been holding. At least she could avoid that steely, unseeing glare for a moment longer. He sat, dressed in drab grey robes, in a chair next the window. Hermione could see as she drew near, that it provided a magicked vista of a beautiful, tranquil looking seaside.
"Malfoy?" she asked softly. But of course there was no response. Cautiously, as if he was a predator – frozen yet ready to attack – she pulled up a chair and sat next to him. Once seated, she really looked at him. The first thing she noticed was how still he was. Only the slow rhythm of his breath betrayed the fact he was more than a statue. His silky blond hair had been shorn close to his scalp and he was so thin and malnourished he seemed a spectral version of the once handsome, aristocratic wizard Hermione knew.
She leaned in closer, getting a glimpse of his eyes. She swallowed, nervous again because of his proximity. There was a part of her that expected him to suddenly come out of his trance-like state and snap, "Get away from me, Mudblood
." But as she placed her face near his, blocking his "view," he didn't budge. His eyes – still cold and beautiful in their way – remained those of a lifeless doll.
Hermione's chest tightened as she observed him. An emotion that felt suspiciously like pity began to creep over her. Her hand moved up, just centimetres from his face. Her fingers were drawn to the pale skin. Then she realized what she was about to do and violently jerked her entire body back. She did her best to shove away the compassion, reminding herself he was a brutal murderer. Maybe the gaunt figure before her was the true reflection of Draco Malfoy: an empty, uncaring, unfeeling husk of a human being.
Yet even as she thought this, a stronger observation moved to the forefront of her mind: This isn't Draco Malfoy. He's not here.
With that, Hermione stood abruptly and rushed out of the room. It was time. ****
Shortly after leaving behind the body of Draco Malfoy, Hermione found herself standing above the swirling silvery light within Malfoy's Pensieve. Ron and Kingsley were nearby, watching anxiously as she prepared for her mental journey. She turned back toward them for a moment. "They have no idea how many memories are in here?"
Kingsley nodded sombrely. "Unfortunately, Malfoy – or somebody – just threw them all in together."
Ron, looked uneasily between the two of them. "Well, don't you think we should, I don’t know, do more tests on the thing to make sure it's safe?"
"The Ministry lackey who inspected it before was fine when he came out, just a bit confused," said Kingsley. He addressed Hermione, "I wouldn't send you in there if I thought you could be in physical danger. It could be a mental strain, which is why we're here. I'll give you 20 minutes and then I'm going to perform the spell to pull you out automatically, okay?"
Hermione glanced down at the liquid white substance – for a moment it reminded her of Malfoy's eyes. She looked back at Kingsley, "Give me a half hour."
He didn't object so Hermione took it as acquiescence. She glanced at Ron. It was clear from his expression he wanted to stop her, but held himself in check. "I'll see you soon," she promised, then turned and bent over the Pensieve, plunging her face into Malfoy's stormy thoughts.