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The sound of an owl tap-tapping on her window woke Hermione before her alarm clock had the chance to. Disgruntled, she untangled herself from her duvet and stumbled half-asleep towards the window where she was surprised to see Harry's tawny owl, Godric, perched on the outer window ledge. She opened the window, let him in, and removed the letter from his leg as he obediently stood on her dressing table. She pulled the small piece of parchment out of the envelope and unfolded it, smiling at Harry's ever-the-same untidy scrawl.


Me and Ron are going on a trail this morning, following a lead we got last night-will explain properly when I see you. Take the morning off and I'll send another owl this afternoon with an update.


She read the note a second time, trying and failing to find more information in the few sentences of information Harry had given her. He had found another lead-that was good news, but what was it? Who were they trailing? She sighed in frustration at having to wait for further news and grabbed a quill to respond to Harry.

As it turned out, Hermione had a lead of her own to follow, and so was glad for the free morning she now had. After Draco had left her at the Leaky Cauldron the night before, Hermione had opted to visit her favourite bookstore in Diagon Alley rather than returning home. It was one of the few in the street that remained open late in the evenings. The shop was now in the hands of Edwin Drella, who was no relation to a Flourish or a Blott but had acquired the shop recently and kept its name.

Hermione liked Edwin greatly; he was highly educated and could tell a customer everything about any book the shop sold, and those it didn't; he had a passion for literature that rivalled even Hermione's. She had spent hours of her free time discussing magical books with him and their discussion the previous night had proved rather useful. She had shown him the spell book that contained the information about the body-switching spell, having taken to carrying it around with her in the hopes that she would open it and find something on the two pages that she had missed before. It was then that Edwin had told her that the copy she had
was a first edition of the book and there had been several more printed after that date.

Being a respectable bookshop, Flourish and Blotts did not sell the latest, or any, versions of 'Dark Magic and its Ancient Roots', however Edwin was able to tell Hermione, in a whispered tone, that there was a bookshop in Knockturn Alley that she might have more luck in. The street known for attracting untrustworthy magical folk was not a place Hermione wanted to be at such a late hour, and so she returned home with plans to go there as soon as she could, not expecting it to be the following morning.

An hour after being woken up by Harry's owl, Hermione arrived in Diagon Alley, dressed in a heavy black cloak. She was glad for the grey skies and the continuous fall of fine rain that meant she wouldn't stand out by having her hood up as she took the left turn down Knockturn Alley. Being one third of the group that saved the wizarding world was certainly an inconvenience on a day Hermione needed to be unrecognisable.

Pulling her hood further down over her brow, an action that had nothing to do with the cold and everything to do with the surroundings, Hermione headed toward the shop bearing the sign 'Moribund's'. Its exterior gave the impression that it was closed down; there were no friendly signs advertising a sale, or even a clue as to what was sold there; no large window with a display; in fact, there was only one small window above the door that indicated something beyond it was giving off an orange glow.

The interior was just as welcoming as the outside, only Hermione's resolution to purchase the more recent version of the book in her handbag stopped her from immediately leaving. A counter was the only thing in the small room that she had entered, with a huge oil lamp atop it, casting just enough light in the room for Hermione to see the man standing behind it. He had grey wiry hair that covered both his head and his chin, and neither looked as though they had ever been washed. His eyebrows were thick and black, and they were raised as his beady eyes surveyed the woman that had just entered his establishment.

"Who are you, and what do you want?" he barked at her in a harsh tone.

She approached the counter nervously and took the book out of her bag. She placed it down on the counter and tried not to inhale any of the thick dust cloud the action had caused.

"I need the latest version of this book, I was told I would find it here." The tremor in her voice was audible when she spoke.

"Never seen you in here before," the man said. He hadn't looked at the book in front of him: his eyes were still fixed on Hermione.

"I've never had a need to be, until now," she said a little more confidently. "The book?"

He finally glanced down, flipped the book open to the inside of the cover, and then grunted before disappearing through a door behind him. There was no way of telling what the grunt meant; either the man was refusing to serve Hermione because she was unlike his usual clientele, or he had gone to get her the book. She waited several minutes, all the while praying that no-one would join her in the dark room, until finally the shop keeper returned. He slammed a book down on the counter and held out a filthy hand.

"Fifteen galleons."

"Fi-fifteen? That's rather a lot, don't you think?"

"I'd say that was a fair price to pay for me to keep my mouth shut about Mudblood Granger being in my shop buying a book about dark magic." Hermione gasped and the man continued. "That's right, I know who you are, and fifteen galleons is a special price just for the girl who helped Harry Potter kill the Dark Lord."

His tone and choice of words told Hermione all she needed: pay the money and get out. Quickly. She rummaged in her bag for her coin purse, handed over fifteen gold coins, grabbed the two books from the counter, and stashed them in her bag as she rushed out of the shop without another word.

Out in the street, the rain still hadn't stopped but it was considerably brighter than it had been in Moribund's, so it took Hermione a few seconds for her eyes to adjust. In the ten minutes that she had been gone, the street had gotten a lot busier; there was an assortment of strange and untrustworthy looking witches and wizards entering and exiting the shops. She wanted to be back in Diagon Alley now more than ever, so she adjusted the hood of her cloak once more and headed up the dark street.

She could have sworn that halfway up the dank street someone called her name, but she told herself that she was being paranoid. She ignored the voice in her head that was telling her the man in the shop had told someone who he had just sold a book to, but the voice shouted louder and there was no mistaking someone knew she was there. She picked up her pace slightly and tutted loudly at a puddle she had missed that filled her shoes with water when she stepped in it, and still the voice called for her.

She had taken a few steps in Diagon Alley when she finally found the courage to turn around and see if she could work out who had been shouting her name. The last thing she had expected was to find her face buried in someone's chest. The someone grabbed her shoulders and gently pushed her back.

"Draco!" Hermione gasped when she saw the face of the person she had bumped into.

"Finally, she stops," he replied. "I've been calling your name for ages!"

"That was you?" she asked, and he nodded. "Why were you in Knockturn Alley?"

"Gawain gave me an assignment to do with one of the shopkeepers. Question is, why were you in Knockturn Alley?"

"Trying to find your father."

Draco gaped at her, so she began to explain about finding out the book she had was an older edition, and how Edwin had told her where she could get an updated version of it.

"And?" Draco asked. "Did you find anything new?"

"I don't know. The man in the shop recognised me, so I left before I had a chance to read it, and then I bumped into you. I was going to grab a coffee at Cortessa's café and read it," she explained.

"Can I come with you? This case Robards has me on is a lost cause, at least for today anyway, and I'd like to know if there's more on this spell."

Hermione nodded and smiled, and the pair walked the short distance to the café that had once been Florean Fortescue's. Draco offered to buy their drinks; he headed to the counter whilst Hermione sat down on the squashy purple sofa that was near the window. When Draco returned with two large mugs of coffee, Hermione had already taken the book out of her bag but left it closed. He had barely sat down when she started flicking through the pages to find the part about the body-switching spells.

"Here it is!" she exclaimed.

Draco shushed her and glanced over his shoulder to see if anyone was watching. Thankfully there was only one other customer in the café: a witch who appeared to have fallen asleep at her table, her cup of tea next to her head was still stirring itself. He looked back down at the book and they read it together. Most of the entry was identical to the version they had already read, with the exception of a small note at the end of the two-page entry.

Testing of the spell has indicated that it will last one year from the date of casting. The incantation only (corporis commercium) must be repeated if caster wishes the effects to continue.

Hermione shut the book and looked at Draco, who had gone whiter than she ever expected his pale skin could go. She asked him what was wrong and he responded by swearing under his breath.


"Shit," he repeated, louder this time. "Shit, shit, shit! What have I done?"

"Draco, you're starting to scare me," Hermione told him firmly. "What on earth is the matter?"

"There's something I haven't told you," he said quietly. "Something I should have, but I didn't think it mattered, I thought it was a mistake. She lied to me, and I didn't even see it. How could I not have seen it?!"

"Seen what?" Hermione was getting impatient.

"My mother."

He took a deep breath and began to explain to Hermione how he had asked the Azkaban guards if anyone had been visiting his father, and how the guard had told him that once a year Narcissa had visited. He told her how he had confronted his mother, and that she'd sworn she hadn't seen Lucius since his trial and had no desire to.

"He was visited once a year, and this was why," he said, pointing at the book. "Someone needed to cast the spell again."

He put his head in his hands.

"She swore she hadn't been visiting, and I believed her," he finished, looking at Hermione for the first time.

"Draco-" Hermione began, a stern expression on her face.

"No," he cut her off and took one of her hands in both of his, looking her sincerely in the eye, "Hermione, you have to believe me. I know my mother, or I thought I did. I would have bet my own life that she was telling me the truth that day. If any part of me thought she was lying I would have told Harry and Ron straight away. Please tell me you believe me?"

She took her hand from him and placed it in her lap. "Even if I did, which I'm not saying I do, you should have told Harry and Ron. Whether you believed your mother or not, they needed to know this. You've kept far too much information to yourself in this case, Malfoy. Your relationship problems, the interviews, your mother's supposed visits to Azkaban-don't you see how guilty it makes you look?"

"I know. I know. I'm such an idiot."

"Wait," Hermione reached into her bag and pulled out a stack of parchment, "why would Stan not tell us that he'd been visited? Here, look, this is the transcript of the interview we did. He said no-one had been to see him, but why would he lie? If he knew there was a chance he would get in more trouble?"

Draco shifted in his chair and averted his gaze once more.

"Tell me you had nothing to do with that, Draco Malfoy!"

"I didn't, not really! It was the guard, Corbin. He was the one that told me mother had been going there, and I paid him to keep quiet about it. When the question came up in the interview he silently cast the Imperius Curse and made Stan lie."

"He cast an unforgivable curse? For a few Galleons?" Hermione's tone was increasingly incredulous with everything Draco told her. "Didn't you think that was a bit extreme?"

"At the time, no. I was just relieved he had kept the visits a secret."

"Well I think it's odd. An Azkaban guard is there to guard those who have done things like using the Unforgivable Curses, and he doesn't think twice about using them? I think we need to speak to Gawain, and Stan again."

"Why Stan?" Draco asked.

Hermione took a deep breath, and placed a hand on top of Draco's. "You say that wasn't your mother visiting, and I believe you. We need to find out who it really was, and I bet Stan knows."

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