A/N: *peeks out from behind the couch*
*squeaks, startled to find you still here*
*panics, flinging the chapter over the cushions*
*dives for cover*
Working with the Weasley twins was unlike anything Thorfinn had ever done before. They were a particularly peculiar pair, and practical jokesters to the extreme. Already in only two days in their employ, they had pulled six pranks on him and Thorfinn was unsure whether he was expected to respond in kind, or if this was their form of hazing given that they were aware to some extent, that he was in bed with Granger.
Or had been in bed with Granger.
She hadn't spoken to him in days and she wasn't going home. Even Antonin hadn't been able to find her and that usually meant things were looking pretty bad because Antonin could typically find just about anybody. No ward or curse or spell ever stood in his way, so if he was having trouble finding the witch he'd been casually stalking since their release from Azkaban, it probably meant she was dead or deep, deep underground somewhere no one would ever think to look for her.
Thorfinn shook his head, sighing heavily. He understood her reasons and her insistence that it was doomed to failure, and the more he ruminated on it, the more he thought Toshka's plan was a good one if it would mean he might get a kid on her. The truth was, he found himself missing the little witch. She was a good shag, and she was swotty and bossy and feisty. Hell, he fancied her, if he was honest with himself. He fancied her a lot and he wanted to find her and hold her again.
Maybe she was right. Maybe they were wasting their time and setting themselves up for heartache. It would be easy to fall for her. It would be easy to love her. And he didn't think they would survive it if he had to get a kid on someone else to stay out of prison when he wanted Hermione instead. He didn't imagine she'd ever be able to love such a child if he had to shag some other woman to get the kid, especially if they were going steady. He doubted he'd survive it if their roles were reversed and it was her having to shag some stranger and get pregnant and then have him help her raise it.
He wasn't built that way. Hell, he had never regretted being a Death Eater more than he did at the thought of needing a damn kid just to remain free. He really didn't want to go back to Azkaban. He liked his freedom, even if the wizarding world had a nasty habit of spitting on him for the crimes he'd committed during the war.
"You're moping," Dolohov told him when he got home and Thorfinn looked up, frowning at the Russian and sighing again.
"Thinking," he said by way of explanation.
"And it's causing you pain. Of course," Dolohov nodded solemnly as though that was to be expected, and Thorfinn shot a stinging jinx at the prick, laughing in spite of himself
"You seen her?" he asked, flopping down on the couch beside him roommate and putting his feet up on the coffee table.
"No," he answered. "She is avoiding us. I haven't seen her since I chased her across the flat the day after her outburst."
"Think she might've been serious about telling me to take a hike," Thorfinn sighed.
"She thinks it is doomed," Dolohov nodded in agreement. "If you cannot father a child with her, perhaps she is right."
"What are you going to do about getting a rugrat on some poor witch to keep your freedom, anyway?" Thorfinn asked his friend, frowning and thinking that they were both running out of time on the matter.
"I will find someone," he shrugged his shoulders. "Perhaps your witch will be agreeable to help us both out."
"Fuck off," Thorfinn narrowed his eyes, though he suspected the wretched bastard was riling him for kicks, as was his way.
"She might be amendable," Dolohov argued.
"Yeah, that's why she ran for her life the last time she found herself alone with you."
"I have not forgotten that wet spot she left on my trousers," Dolohov argued.
"You're twisted, Toshka," Thorfinn shook his head.
"How will you find her?" he wanted to know.
"I've been waiting for you to find her and then I was going to accost her and ravish her until she sees sense."
"I think that might be considered illegal if she is unwilling," Antonin pointed out. "Don't want to wind up back I your cell, do you?"
"I wasn't planning to force her," Thorfinn rolled his eyes. "I was just going to kiss her until she caves to my seductive charms."
"She is stubborn, not a moron," Antonin argued and Thorfinn hexed the prick again for good measure while the bastard laughed, dodging the spell easily.
"You haven't had any luck tracking her down?" he asked. "She's not going to her office or anything?"
"I suspect she has quit or taken extended leave," Antonin said seriously, his teasing tone fading. "None of them have seen her, and her supervisor hasn't made mention of her in my earshot."
"You think she's really run for it?" Thorfinn frowned. "She did say she might quit after she didn't get that research grant, even though she didn't think the project she'd been assigned was worth further investigation and funding…"
"She has probably gone to her parents," Antonin mused. "They are in Scotland. She retreats to them when she is scared or sad."
"Any idea where abouts in Scotland?" Thorfinn asked.
Antonin raised his eyebrows, looking over.
"You want me to take you there?"
"Do you know the way? You haven't already checked for her there?"
"She has warded it well. Magical beings are driven from the area by the magic and enchantments she has cast over the place. It causes me a terrible headache to try and seek her out there, so I haven't checked for her there, yet. I hoped she would come home on her own. She usually does."
"What is your obsession with her, anyway?" Thorfinn frowned, wondering how much effort the man had put into stalking the witch, though he'd given no indication that he was hurt or jealous over Thorfinn shagging her.
"She is an enigma," Antonin shrugged. "My magic is latched into her very flesh and moves with her still. Why? For what purpose? How did she survive the curse that killed so many?"
"Do you have a theory?"
"Several," Toshka nodded.
"You sure you don't just want to shag her?" Thorfinn frowned at him.
"You are concerned that I would steal her from you?" he frowned in return.
Thorfinn remained quiet, letting the silence speak for itself and Antonin's eyebrows rose in surprise.
"If she would have me, I would pursue her, but she will not. And in truth, it would not be well-matched. She is stubborn and easily angered and brave and brilliant and brainy, but she does not need the same in a spouse. Luckily for you, braininess is not required."
Thorfinn snorted at the casual insult.
"She prefers you," Antonin shrugged. "And my days of forcing witches into situations where they are uncomfortable are behind me."
"Says the bloke stalking the poor witch."
"Studying," Toshka corrected him. "I study. I do not stalk. To stalk is to mean harm or to observe with malicious intent. I aim only to study, to understand, to… protect…"
Thorfinn looked over, frowning at the man again as Toshka trailed off, suddenly looking pensive.
"I wonder…" he murmured.
"Are you dressed to travel?" Antonin asked.
Thorfinn shrugged. Granger had seen him in nary a stitch, and her parents had already seen him shirtless, so he wasn't overly concerned with how he looked, and jeans and a jumper were acceptable.
"Think I'll need a cloak?" he asked.
"It's Scotland, durachit," Antonin reminded him, calling him a fool in his native tongue and shaking his head.
"Right," Thorfinn grunted, summoning his travelling cloak from the hook behind the door and shrugging it on.
"We go," Antonin said, doing the same before reaching to take Thorfinn's arm and twisting sharply, disapparating them both with a sharp crack.
They landed in a muggle village on the outskirts of the tiny hamlet, and almost instantly Thorfinn's knees practically buckled with the intense headache that walloped him unforgivingly.
"As I said," Toshka grunted beside him when Thorfinn reached for his skull with both hands, clutching it and wondering what in the hell the witch was playing at to have invented and employed such a spell. "She is thorough in her charms to repel any magical creature or being from preying upon her parents."
"Blimey, I feel like my head's going to split open," Thorfinn complained, his teeth gritted against the intense pain. It was almost as incapacitating at the Cruciatus and he wondered how in the hell it was even legal that she'd performed such a spell. He'd bet it wasn't, actually. He wouldn't put it past the witch to use illegal spells to protect her family. She wasn't the first and wouldn't be the last to have ever done so, but bloody hell, this was something else.
"Do you think you can make it to the front door?" Antonin asked, pointing up the garden path of a tidy stone cottage where a cheerful sky-blue door awaited with a shiny brass knocker, enticing them in.
"Does the pain get worse the closer you get?" Thorfinn asked, opening the garden gate and stepping inside the property.
The question was answered for him when the pain intensified tenfold.
"It worsens the closer you draw. The repellent charms she used are particularly potent."
"How do her parents stand it?"
"It only affects magical beings," Toshka shrugged. "Muggles can approach at will. Or at least, I assume that be true. I've witnessed them taking visitors before. I must ask her if there are charms targeting anyone meaning to approach the dwelling with ill will. If there aren't, they ought to be added, wouldn't you agree?"
"How the fuck can you think with pain like this radiating through your brain, Toshka?" Thorfinn wanted to know as they two of them soldiered forward in the direction of the house, intent on reaching it despite the pain.
"Talent," Toshka shrugged. "A lifetime under the Dark Lord's wand. Debatable mental stability. An affinity for pain. Take your pick."
Antonin had to use the knocker when Thorfinn's knees gave out as the pain intensified even more when they stood right outside the front door. He knocked insistently, not letting up until the locks began to turn in their tumblers.
"What's this then?" Arnold Granger demanded when he found his potential son-in-law and a stranger on his front doorstep, Thorfinn on his knees and clutching his skull like it might explode if he loosened his white-knuckled grip and Antonin's teeth clenched tight, his back ramrod stiff against the pain.
"Is Hermione here?" Thorfinn managed, his voice wrought with agony.
"The bloody hell's it to you, boy?" Arnold Granger blustered. "And what the devil are you doing on your knees? Who's this fellow? How did you find us?"
"Hermione?" Antonin enquired, his teeth clenched. "We need her. Immediately. There's a spell to keep anyone magical at bay…"
"Blimey. Must've put it on to protect us, did she?" Arnold chuckled unsympathetically. "Such a good girl, my baby."
"Please, Mr Granger," Thorfinn all but begged, his head splitting.
"Must be strong, too. Look at you, boy. What's the matter? Can't take the pain? Thought you were a hardened criminal, eh?"
"Dad?" Hermione's voice filled the air and Thorfinn began seeing spots.
He was going to black out. Shit.
"Dad who is it? Oh, for Merlin's sake!"
"Think you could lift the anti-magic charm, love?" Antonin appealed to her.
"Please," Thorfinn growled out, one hand releasing his skull to reach for Hermione where she appeared in the doorway beside her father.
"How the devil did you two find me?" she asked, obviously annoyed. "Damn it, Dolohov! You even know where my parents live? This is getting out of hand…"
Thofinn didn't hear any more. He was too busy slumping forward against Mr Granger's knees as the pain overtook his faculties and his body acted to protect itself, robbing him of consciousness and sending him spiralling into the dark.