Status: Work in Progress

Lost in the Echo

Chapter Two

"Syndil was snatched the year Voldemort rose to power. Do you recall what happened to Neville's parents?"
"Longbottom?" Malfoy asked to clarify, and Hermione nodded. "They were tortured into insanity, weren't they?"
"Yes... Syndil suffered the same fate." Hermione said, looking away from Draco.

How could this have happened? Syndil had lost her mind? Who would have done such a terrible thing to such a sweet girl?

"W-Who?" Draco asked, his voice breaking a little bit.

Hermione looked very uncomfortable now and she tugged her collar to the side. "Erm... Perhaps we should have this discussion elsewhere, somewhere more private. Please, follow me to my office. Harry, Ron, you guys go back and try to finish up your work for the evening. Ginny won't be happy if you're late again. Go on now."
"But..." Ron protested and Hermione cut him a glare.
"Ronald Weasley he's not going to hurt me. Honestly! The only person who still seems to have an issue with Mr. Malfoy seems to be you... And Lord knows I have far more reason than either of you to dislike or distrust him. Yet here I am, being an adult. Please, Ron, for your own sanity, move on from it!" Hermione said, then sighed in exasperation as she led Draco back to her office.

"My apologies, I didn't mean to cause a disagreement between you and him." Draco said, politely, even though his mind was reeling with the news of Syndil's fate.
"Oh, it's quite alright. Ron still holds a massive grudge against you for what happened at Malfoy Manor, but Harry and I have both explained to him that it is foolish. I get tired of hearing him complain whenever he sees my scar."

Draco hung his head in shame. Although he personally wasn't responsible for the scar that spelled out 'mudblood' on her arm, he still felt as if he was as much to blame for his aunt's cruelty as his aunt, herself, was.

"I am truly sorry about what happened with Bellatrix. What she did was unforgivable, and I am truly amazed that you can even stand to be near me or anyone in my family, for that matter. Scorpius values his friendship with Albus a great deal."
"I admit that sometimes it's still difficult to sleep at night, because my arm aches. However, I can't hold you accountable for your aunt's choices. I'm sure that if you had been able to choose the family that you were born into, it would not have been her that you picked as your aunt. You and Harry are far more alike than either of you want to admit." she chuckled, as she rounded the desk and took a seat. "Have a seat. Would you like any tea?" she asked, politely. This felt more like a personal matter for Draco than a business one, and he seemed as if he was taken aback by what had happened to Syndil, so Hermione thought it best to treat this as a casual meeting.

"Oh, um, yes, thank you." he said, and he saw a tray with a tea kettle and two cups on saucers floating towards them. 'Funny,' he thought, 'I didn't even hear her say anything or wave her wand.' and he couldn't help the smirk that slipped onto his face, because that fact alone had great implications for Hermione's magical skill.

The tea poured itself and Draco gingerly took the teacup and saucer from where they floated in front of him, and took a whiff of the blend of tea leaves.

"Cream or sugar?" Hermione asked as a cup was poured for her as well, and a couple lumps of sugar and cream made their way into her cup. Draco shook his head.
"No, thank you. This smells lovely." he said, then took a slow sip and set the cup down on the desk. "How do you mean Harry and I are similar?"

Hermione shrugged. "You were both just children when you were thrown into things that were so much bigger than either of you. Neither of you really had a choice in the matter. You were forced to do Voldemort's bidding because your father supported him... I do not, however, think your mother did, which is why I was saddened to learn that hers and your travel will be monitored by the Ministry until you pass. Harry was much the same. He was thrown into the middle of a war that had been raging for years, and all because of one man who was fearful. Honestly, Voldemort would have probably lived longer if he hadn't been so power-hungry." Hermione shook her head sadly. "Anyways, we did not come here to discuss our pasts, but rather the past of another. Why is it that you're interested in Syndil all of a sudden?"

Draco felt his face flush and took another sip of tea while he composed himself before answering her question. The truth was that he didn't know if he SHOULD tell Hermione his reasons... but he had a feeling that she would refuse him anymore information if he lied even a little bit.

"Truthfully, Syndil and I grew up together. She was my closest and best friend up until we started at Hogwarts. We even got on the train and sat together. The only reason our friendship ended was because -"
"She was sorted into Gryffindor and you into Slytherin." Hermione said, matter-of-factly. She was right, so Draco just nodded.
"I hated having to ignore her, but my parents had explicitly told me that if she were sorted into Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff, our friendship could continue without any problem, but that if she were sorted into Gryffindor I was expected to cut all contact, even if we shared classes. So I did."
"Your parents said that, or your father said that?" Hermione asked, as she, too, sipped from her teacup.
"Mostly my father, but my mother agreed."
"I see. So you and her were childhood friends. But out of curiosity, why did you never think to wonder about her before now?"

Draco felt his face heat in shame.

"The truth is that I never forgot her. From our first year at Hogwarts, I always managed to find one Slytherin that didn't have such strong blood supremacy views as my parents, and I had them keep tabs on her. What she was up to, how she was doing, little stuff. I cared about her a lot and I felt terrible cutting ties, but I had to keep face for my father. Anyways, up until Sixth Year, after the whole... Dumbledore thing... that was what I did. But since I didn't return for my Seventh Year, I didn't have my usual connections."
"That's kind of sweet... but also a little odd... but that doesn't quite answer my question. Why now, after all these years?" she asked again, and Draco fiddled with his teacup before he sighed.

"It's quite ridiculous, honestly. I was looking through my desk drawer for a new pen because my old one died while I was in the process of going over my books, and my pens are silver, see. And I finally saw something silver, but when I pulled it out it wasn't a pen. It was a locket. Because I haven't seen it in nearly thirty years, I didn't quite recognize it and thought it was something of Astoria's that I could give to Scorpius...until I opened it. Syndil had given it to me as a gift, and it had both of our pictures in it from the day we left for Hogwarts that first time. It brought on a wave of nostalgia, and I remembered that she had become quite good friends with you, Harry, and Ron, and so I assumed she had fought against Voldemort in the Battle of Hogwarts. But I didn't know if she had survived or not, so I logged onto the web to do some searching. She wasn't listed in the official archives as a casualty of war, and so I thought there was a chance she might still be alive, but I couldn't find any information regarding her current whereabouts." Draco said, his face turning red from how silly it all sounded.
"I see." Hermione said, thoughtfully. "Unfortunately, Syndil is rather out of her mind nowadays. She was tortured into insanity along with several others. They were able to return some of the other victims of the Cruciatus Curse to normal, but her attacker was particularly vicious with her, I'm afraid."
"Who..." Draco began, then swallowed the lump in his throat before continuing. "Who was her attacker? Do you know?" he asked, softly. Hermione looked visibly distressed again, and Draco knew he wouldn't like the answer. "Please, Ms. Granger, I need to know."

Hermione sighed and then stood up. She searched her bookshelf for a moment until she - presumably - found the book that she was searching for.

"This will be difficult for you, Draco, but if I recall, you were rather skilled in Occlumency and Legilimency, so perhaps you will have better luck than any of us did. Right now Syndil is in St. Mungo's. She's not quite insane in the sense that she doesn't know how to take care of herself anymore, but rather in that she acts very peculiarly. She has been under intensive care since she was found, but even the best Occlumens and Legilimens have had no luck in restoring her mental well-being, but perhaps, because you had a personal connection with her, you may fare better. But be warned... She is in a very fragile state. If you pull or push too hard, you could seriously hurt her."
"I'm sorry, I don't quite understand what you are -" he began, but she cut him off.
"It seems as if you very much want your friend back, Draco. Is that correct?"
"Yes, but how -"
"You are a smart man, Draco. I want you to attempt to work with Syndil and see if perhaps you can help her return to how she was."
"What if I fail?" he asked, and she gave him a small smile.
"It's no matter, then, because she will not recall what you were trying to do. She is in St. Mungo's under the guise of Porticia Washburn - we did not want any remaining Death Eaters trying to finish the job."

Draco stood then, and accepted the book from Hermione, which turned out to be a photo album from their years at Hogwarts, and then Hermione was more or less shoving him out the door.

"Oh, wait, Ms. Granger. You didn't answer my question."
"Which one?" she asked, nervously.
"Who did this to her?" he asked again, this time more confident in what he was asking.

Hermione sighed.

"...Syndil... was yet another victim of Bellatrix LeStrange."