17: EscapeMature

Mr. Malfoy and Ms. Horwitz reached us sooner than I thought they would. She appeared angry and flushed, while he entered the room with an air of smugness about him. For some reason, I let out a sigh of relief when I noticed this.

I heard the sound of spitting from behind me and Ms. Horwitz hurried over to help Kassidy up from the floor. While they were preoccupied, Mr. Malfoy approached me and said in a low voice, "It's a good thing you called for me; I was not five seconds from doing the same thing to her aunt. What happened?"

It was hard to remain calm with him in such close proximity, but I shrugged in an attempt to appear nonchalant. "Something about . . ." I struggled for the right words, but couldn't find them. I quoted her instead. "-a slutty orphan."

Only when his hand balled into a fist around my wrist did I notice that he'd been touching me at all. I bit my lip, but couldn't suppress the "Ouch!" that betrayed my lips anyway. He looked down, surprised, and then released me.

"Oh, Sid - I'm sorry! It's just -" he began to apologize when he got cut off. A loud horn was honking throughout the building, over and over again. It sounded like . . . an alarm.

"What is that?" I asked.

Looking at his face was a mistake. Fear clouded his features as his head whipped toward Ms. Horwitz and Kassidy.

"You!" He bellowed. "How did you get here?"

My Transfiguration professor shrugged. "The usual way, of course."

"You git!"

I didn't understand what was going on, but I knew it was nothing good. Instinct told me to be very, very afraid. I wanted to run.

She wrinkled her nose at him. "What are you going on about? And will you shut off that alarm. It's going to give Kassidy a headache. You know, I could have that girl expelled for punching my niece."

"You raging imbecile," he continued shouting. "You led him straight here! I have unlimited magical protections set up against foes, but since you're not technically," he spat the word, "an enemy meaning us physical harm, you were able to get past the defenses, AND YOU BLOODY BROUGHT HIM RIGHT ALONG WITH YOU! DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE DONE!?"

Ms. Horwitz opened her mouth to speak, but he silenced her with a glare. "Get out of my bloody house right now. You will floo out. As much as I would love for him to intercept you, neither of you are the ones he wants. You'll be fine!"

Mr. Malfoy grabbed my hand and began dragging me along behind him at a jog. My feet barely had time to touch the ground in between steps; I was halfway flying through his house at a manic pace.

Everything finally clicked in my head as I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other just to keep up with him. He was here for me. The man who'd murdered my parents. The mystery enemy who Mr. Malfoy hadn't gotten to tell me about in his story. He'd followed Ms. Horwitz and Kassidy here to finish me off. I felt the floor vibrate beneath my feet, and I fought the urge to cry and turn around in surrender. I couldn't give up now.

I pushed myself faster, now keeping up enough so that I wasn't being dragged along behind Mr. Malfoy. I didn't know where we were going, but I knew were were going down. Literally. As in, we descended countless staircases. The vibrations coming from the floor were more constant now, occurring more and more violently every minute or so.

Our enemy was breaking down the last defenses around the house. As big as the house was, I knew it wouldn't take him long to find us once he got inside. Mr. Malfoy locked door after door behind us as we continued to fall further beneath the surface. It didn't look like a home anymore. The tunnels we raced through were dark and stone, with many winding passages veering off in forks.

I was afraid to ask where we were, but I didn't dare break the silence, for fear that we were being followed. I couldn't risk anything right now. Hand in hand, we kept on moving, our breathing heavy and heart rates soaring. Under normal circumstances, I would have been fretting over the fact that I was holding hands with my DADA professor. Right now, the pressure against my fingers was reassuring. It was dark and I couldn't see much more than a few feet in front of me. It would be easy to become separated.

For the first time, I noticed just how loud our footsteps echoed. Every few moments, Mr. Malfoy would take out his wand, turn around and wave it in the direction the way we came without a sound. I didn't know the purpose of this, and I didn't ask. As soon as he was done, he would pocket it again, retrieve my hand, and keep moving. I had no watch available to me. I don't know how long we continued running. I do know that my feet were screaming in protest, on fire almost.

The passage became very narrow at one point, and when I turned around with Mr. Malfoy to watch him wave his wand again, I managed to stub my toe against the wall by accident. This caused a long, loud stream of curses to escape my mouth in a way that was very uncharacteristic for me.

Mr. Malfoy stopped and leaned against the wall next to me, looking at my foot in surprise. "Are you alright? Why don't you sit down."

"Sorry, I'm fine. We don't need to sit. We can keep moving," I said, embarrassed by my weakness.

He shook his head. "Sit, let me take a look at that."

I checked down the passage, looking both ways. I was still unsure of how we'd ended up underground without appearing ever to have left his house.

I pulled off the boot I had been wearing and rolled down my sock with tender hands. I could feel the blisters swelling now. I hadn't thought to grab a more comfortable pair of shoes while running for my life.

"It's kind of gross," I warned him. "You probably don't want to get anywhere near it."

I didn't mention the fact that I bet my foot smelled bad, too.

He took my foot in his hands and, being very gentle, inspected the sores covering my foot. "Did you just get these now, from running?"

I nodded my head. "They were the shoes I'd had on at the visitation. I forgot to take them off."

"Sid, you should have told me your feet were killing you," he said, sounding horrified. I pulled my foot back, worried that I had disgusted him with my blisters. He grabbed it back with his light touch. I didn't feel any pain.

"It didn't seem important," I whispered.

"We're safe for the time being," he said, but he looked around anyway. "Let me heal those for you, at the very least."

I nodded my head, but held my breath in anticipation. He pulled his wand out and pointed them at my feet. He didn't say it aloud, but I knew the healing spell, "Episkey."

I'd been expecting it to hurt. Therefore, when the pain began to recede, I let out a little moan of relief. Mr. Malfoy's head snapped up to my face with a look in his eyes that I was embarrassed to find there. Something triggered inside of me besides my mortification. I felt something that bordered on desire. It may have even been lust. All I know was that his mouth was inches from mine, and yet i wasn't close enough. It would have been so easy just to lean forward and touch his lips with my own.

I was not that kind of girl. Even in the heat of the moment, I was far too chicken to pull anything as bold as that. He turned his head to the side and coughed, bringing me back down to reality. This man was my professor. He was looking after me as a faculty member might look after their student and nothing more. I was so foolish.

My facial expression as he pulled me to my feet after heeling the blisters must have been pathetic. "Sid . . ." he said, unsure of where to go from there.

I found myself apologizing, "I'm sorry."

Mr. Malfoy's brow furrowed in confusion. His hand reached out to touch my face, and I could feel the heat rush to my cheeks. His fingers lingered on my cheek longer than was necessary, but we stood like that for a moment anyway. He was too perfect. His blond hair, gray in the tunnel, was in a messy disarray atop his head. The way his piercing eyes scorched through me even in the dim lighting. My breath caught in my throat.

"Don't apologize," he whispered, dropping his hand. I nodded my head and swallowed the nervous bile that had begun to rise in my throat. Thank Merlin it hadn't come to that.

"We should keep moving," he said in a firmer tone. "We need to get you out of here and to a safer location. The exit isn't far now. Don't put those shoes back on. You won't step on anything down here."

As we made our way through the end of the tunnel, he did not take my hand again. We didn't speak once until he put his arm out in front of me and came to a sudden stop. It was pitch black in front of us, and I didn't know why. His hand reached forward to something I couldn't see. It curled into a fist and twisted, then moved forward again. He'd grabbed a door handle. I hadn't been able to see it because it blended in so well with the surrounding gray tunnel. A blazing light poured in through the cracks around the door.

We escaped.

The End

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