Published at 2nd of April 2024 01:23:59 PM

Chapter 135

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It was late afternoon, and Hermione was about to give up and head home, ready to rethink her approach. She has been surveying the two supposed entrances, alternating between them every two hours, without results. There was simply nothing suggesting that wizards were using any of them. With a bit of disappointment, she had already stood up from the bench she had been sitting on the past half an hour or so when it happened.

It was a man wearing something that made him stand out amongst the crowd. He was dressed in a blue, sapphire-colored robe that swept alongside the sidewalk as he looked around nervously. Evidently, he was unfamiliar with the place, holding a yellowed paper, searching franticly, and sticking out within the muggle world like a sore thumb.

"Poor bastard... but thank you." Hermione whispered, looking around the street, hurrying to the other side, not wanting to lose the man from sight.

The supposed entrance she was observing was an old barber shop. Going by the windows, it looked like something from a century ago, lost in time or preserved as an art project. What she learned about it was that the door leading into the shop would open if someone tapped it in the correct rhythm with their wand, but the code had changed frequently since the war had broken out. Learning it was the hard part, but this was her best chance.

"Come on... show me..." she grumbled, observing the man like a puma stalking its prey in the jungle. The only difference was that she had to weave around men and women who were going about their lives and often blocked her view. "Tsk...!"

With an aggressive impulse, something that she mustered from her frustration and a bit of headache, she managed to push through a group of students, ending up receiving their annoyed curses aimed at her back. No matter what they threw at her, she was tuning all of it out as the wizard was holding a crooked, old wand, tapping at the door.

"Knob, knocker, upper right hinge, knob, knob, knocker, knob." She repeated to herself, without blinking or drawing breath, right until the man opened the door, walked through, and disappeared into the void behind it the next moment. "Bingo!"

"Hey, bitch, we are talking to you!"

"Sorry, I don't speak English!" Was her answer, without looking back, hurrying along, stunning the group so much they failed to react in time.

"But..." Confused, the head guy turned towards his friends, "She spoke perfectly... no?"

Hermione didn't even think about them, holding her wand, quickly repeating the sequence, and when turning the knob, the door opened, letting her slip in without hesitation.

The inside was dark, damp, and filled with dust. It was hard to breathe, but she was already walking forward, heading to the door at the back. Its bronze handle was way too shiny and fresh, unlike the rest of the old barren shop. When she finally stepped out, breathing fresh air again, she was standing on a cobblestoned road, surrounded by previous-century homes, reminding her how Diagon Alley was in London. There were not many wizards walking about, but enough to not make her stand out. Even in her muggle clothes, she could blend in easily as not everyone is keeping up with wizarding tradition nowadays.

"Now what..." she asked herself, feeling a bit lost. This was the extent she planned, and she needed to rethink it once again. Her most important stuff was in her backpack, so she wasn't worried about not returning to her room that night. She couldn't risk the code changing again, not when she finally got in, so it was out of the question to leave. "Hotel. There has to be one here somewhere..."

With that in mind, her brain began making plans once again, lifting her spirits as she looked for a place to stay. It took her an hour to finally stumble on a two-story high building that, when she entered, turned out to be a multi-story inn, enchanted on the inside.

"Can I help, missy?" Asked the old man staying in the lobby, greeting the arrivals, causing her to flinch.

"Y-yes, sorry. I am looking for a place to stay for the night." She answered, walking up to the counter and making the red-haired, big-bellied man nod.

"For a night with dinner, it's one galleon and ten sickles. One galleon without dinner."

"I'll take it!"

Her quick agreement clearly surprised the man, but he didn't complain, taking the money and giving her the key to room 111 on the second floor. After spending the whole day looking around and searching, she finally realized how hungry she was, so instead of heading up, Hermione decided to find an empty table in the dining area, sat down, and ordered her dinner for the day.

"Using house elves for this..." With a grumble in her mind, she was about to raise her hand to catch one of the elf's eyes to hail one over when a stern-faced young man sat down at her table without asking, looking at her like a hawk.

"Can... I help you?" Hermione asked, unsure, her heart rate immediately doubling.

"Where you from, miss?" He asked with a somewhat broken English, betraying that she was not a local.

"England?" She answered, half-sarcastically and with a bit of fighting spirit, not wanting to back down and show that he successfully scared her. "I could ask the same!"

"Fair point. But I ask question, not you, Miss. Where you from?"

"I didn't know this place was for interrogating guests, hmph! Is this how this business operates?" She snorted, beginning to raise her voice, but the man shook his head, and it made Hermione realize nobody else was really bothered by it.

"Hands. Show." He commanded, and it was certainly not a request.

Glancing around again, she came to the realization that she was surrounded. All the guests were looking at them, and she could see multiple wands pointing toward their table, aiming at her. Slowly, she pulled back her sleeves, showing it to the man who, after a glance, put his own wand against her skin, performing a spell... but nothing happened, making his face soften a little.

"She clear."

"Of what?" Hermione asked, her fear showing through her mask of braveness.

"Of Death Eater mark."

"I am a mudblood." She blurted out, making multiple chuckles echo within the room, further softening the man's expression.

"Let me start new. My name is Krum. Victor Krum."

"..." It took a moment for Hermione to find the name in her mind, but then realization hit her. This was like winning the jackpot all of a sudden, and the fear she was feeling was evaporating very quickly, replaced by excitement. "Hermione. Hermione Granger. You partook in the Triwizard Tournament!"

"Yes?" Krum answered, not really getting why it was that important for her. Was she another fangirl? He had enough problems as is.

"You then must know Conrad Anguine!"

"...!" The name alone made Krum furrow his brows, making him blink multiple times before leaning closer. "Who are... you?"

"I am from Beauxbatons Academy..." She answered, rummaging in her purse, pulling out her old library card, showing it to him, "And I met them once... I was there when Fleur Delacour attacked them and... when she died."

"Fleur dead?" Krum asked, surprised, leaning back, crossing his hands, and thinking rapidly. "I know not... we need to talk."

"Yes... I was about to say the exact same thing!"


Getting to classes was vastly different now than before. Nobody has tried to talk to us or confess to Quincy, which I really appreciated. Most of them weren't distant because they agreed with bullying Dimitris—I bet many of them don't even know him—but it was sheer fear that prompted them to keep their distance from us. The fact that we fought and there were no consequences was more scary than if we were expelled. I think everyone understood that a storm was brewing, and most of them wanted nothing to do with it.

Well... Most of them.

"Hoy, outsiders!" Shouted a boy after us as we were heading from one classroom to the next. When we turned and looked at him, he was maybe a year or two older than us. It was hard to tell because his looks were more mature than his voice.

"Yes, baboon?" Quincy asked before I could open my mouth, making the corridor deathly silent, amplifying the sound of my chuckles.

"If you think you can anger me with cheap insults, like some kind of deformed mudblood, then you are vastly mistaken. Don't dare strut around in our school like you own it when you are nothing but extra baggage, accepted because once your ancestors did something worthy!"

"Dear, this is not an ordinary baboon..." I leaned in, whispering into her ear but making sure everyone heard it, "He can form complex sentences! This one is a chimp!"

"Um, um, you are right. But monkeys do look the same."

"I only have one question," the guy continued, and I was impressed by how easily he ignored us. "Which side are you on?"

"Hm?" exchanging a look with Quincy, I couldn't help but be confused. "Well, if we look at it from there, we are on the left side, but if we look at it from here, we are on the right side. You see, your question doesn't make any sense... Don't you have any spatial awareness? Or monkeys don't vibe with that?"

"Maybe he is just stupid." Quincy added with a thoughtful look.

"Hmph... it is best if you inbred twins watch yourself." He scoffed, looking at us with a smirk, "Your overconfidence is going to be your undoing."

"Ah! One moment!" I shouted after him as he wasn't stopping at all, already turning around and leaving, "Tell your owner of a teacher that if he wants, I am willing to face him in a duel! Don't send his monkeys; I bet he can throw shit around by himself! If the big gorilla wants it, I can show him what teaching the true Dark Arts means!"

That made him flinch once and broke the silence as many of the students began whispering amongst themselves. I wasn't joking... I was willing to face off against Andrei. I would have preferred it... These nasty games he was going to play with us were already annoying, and they hadn't even started yet.

"This will happen more and more, huh?" Quincy asked, shrugging as we continued on our way, deciding to skip the next class and instead head to the library.

"Probably." I answered with a shrug, "First come the threats, then the sabotages and covert curses before they realize none of it works and begin attacking us. A whole lot of cliché if you ask me."

"Then don't you want to go ahead and flip the table?" She whispered with a playful, mischievous giggle.

"What do you have in mind? I'm game if you are!"

"Well, we still remember those idiots who came to fight you in the corridor, no? Let's go find them. They can't do nothing if they are incapacitated, hm?"

"You know what? You are right. I do have some bad blood in my veins, don't I? A little bit of dark wizardry... Let's be the villains then!"

"I'll be your henchman, fufu!"

"Nah, you will be my evil queen!" I grinned, holding her waist and giving her a kiss. Who cares if anyone sees us... She is right. Let's flip those tables, and while making a mess, we may find the last clue we were looking for.

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