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The Black Mirror by blackroserei

Format: Novella
Chapters: 17
Word Count: 52,757
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Humor, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape, Lucius, Voldemort, Draco, OC
Pairings: Draco/Hermione

First Published: 11/27/2005
Last Chapter: 01/10/2011
Last Updated: 01/10/2011

Summary:
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Thank you so very much FairyQueen for the exquisite banner that you've made me ( it only took her 18 minutes...)
Mystery and seduction is not what Hermione Granger expected when Dumbledore sent her with five companions into the dangerous slums of the Wizarding World. Danger comes in the form of Malfoy and their two immortal companions, along with jealously, love and the enigma of the famed black mirror. 


Chapter 1: The Vamperum
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Vamperum


Hermione stepped onto Platform 9 and ¾ and dragged her heavy trunk alongside her. Hurriedly, she glanced around at the crowded space and scowled. Ron and Harry were nowhere to be seen. She pushed through crowds of people reuniting with their friends, pulling her trunk behind her.

“Hermione!”

She dropped her trunk and turned towards where the manly voice had called her from. Coming through the crowd, she could see Ron and Harry approaching her, beaming.

“Ron, Harry!” she called back, jumping on them as they drew nearer. Ron enveloped her in a hug first, before Harry drew her in his arms.

After she released them, Hermione stepped back to examine how they grew over the summer. They had grown to be handsome and some of the girls on the platform were eying them. Both were taller, although Harry was still shorter than Ron, and the red head’s hair now fell into his eyes. Harry’s eyes were still a bright green, shining as they always did behind his glasses, that were still taped up at the bridge.

Hermione grinned at him and held out her hand. He handed her his glasses.

Repairo,” she murmured, smiling as she handed them back to him.

“Thanks Hermione,” he said before leaning down to grasp the handle of her trunk.

“No problem Harry.” She looked at the two of them and noticed that they didn’t have any luggage. “Where’s your stuff?”

“Already on the train,” Ron answered, looking at her as though she had five heads. “Did you do something to your hair?” he added, cautiously.

Hermione raised an eyebrow. The amount of hair she possessed had weighed down the bushiness, and instead of it being frizzy, it was merely thick and quite shiny, in magnificent curls that fell down her back. Her face was a bit more sharp, considering that she had lost a little bit of weight over the summer (mainly from her face) and her high cheekbones were now more prominent.

“Nothing really,” Hermione told him, her rueful amber eyes looking him over. “But I see you decided to let your hair grow.”

Rom shrugged. “It suits me.”

“It does,” Hermione said to him, grinning.

“You look beautiful, by the way,” Harry put in from in front of them.

“Er… thanks, mate, but I don’t think that we have that type of relation-”

“Not you, you dolt,” Harry snapped back, as Hermione playfully hit Ron on his arm. “I’m talking to Hermione.” Ron nodded in agreement.

“Thanks Harry.”

He nodded and motioned for her to get in front of him before they climbed onto the train. Hermione pulled herself up, waiting for Harry who was struggling to pull her trunk into the train.

“Merlin, what in the bloody hell do you have in here?” he asked as Ron bent over to help him.

“I had more books this year,” Hermione said simply, flipping her hair over her shoulder like she always did when she was explaining something. “N.E.W.T’s are coming up and I have to start preparing.”

Harry rolled his eyes and grunted as he finally managed to get her trunk up. “That’s at the end of the year, Hermione. I’m sure that if we had to take it now, you’d ace it anyway.”

“I think so too,” added Ron, stepping in after Harry and motioning down the train hall. “The compartment is the tenth one down.”

Hermione sighed, walking down the hallway with Harry and Ron following. She pulled the door open, held it for Harry and Ron, and then sat down.

“No Crookshanks?” Ron asked, raising one eyebrow. He was holding Pig’s small cage in one hand and the little owl was flying around as fast as he could inside the enclosed space.

“I left him at home,” Hermione answered as she pulled a rather thick book from her bag. “He was getting too fat anyway. My owl’s waiting at school.”

She glanced over at Harry, who was looking at the window and stroking Hedwig’s feathers absentmindedly.

“Something wrong?” Hermione asked him, her voice soft.

He drew his gaze from outside at the train started to move, leaving behind the frantic parents of the first years and the worried ones of those who were returning. Sighing, he placed the snowy owl back in her cage.

“I have some things to tell you.”

Hermione looked up, her face worried at Harry’s grave tone. “What is it?”

She looked over at Ron in time to see him throw a fretful glance at Harry.

“What is it?” she repeated, her voice firmer and colder

“There’s a mission,” Ron told her, not meeting her eyes. He resorted to looking down at Pig. “ That we’re to go on around Christmas. It has to do…it has to do with Voldemort…”

“He’s trying to find something,” Harry cut. “Probably something in his search for immortality. But we’re going to Romania, Hermione. We have guides, and they‘re faeries and…”

“This is ridiculous!” Hermione exclaimed accusingly, her eyes hard. “First, you tell me nothing of the this mission thing, even when I did come to the Burrow to spend time with you. And now you have the nerve to tell me that you leave in a couple of months! That’s totally and utterly stupid and deceiving and-”

“Calm down, Hermione,” Ron said, trying to placate the angry witch. “We didn’t want you to worry and we didn’t want you to come because we’re afraid you’ll get hurt.”

She rounded on the red head, her amber eyes flashing. Ron immediately realized that he made a mistake and sat down.

“I’m not some little girl whom you can place in the corner and expect to stay still, Ron!” Hermione shrieked. “ And I don’t need you two watching out for me and deciding what’s best for me behind my back! I’m perfectly capable of making my own decisions!”

“We just want you safe-”

“Did you really think that I wouldn’t find out? Do you really think that I’m that daft?”

“No, but-”

“Honestly! I’m more apt with a wand than both of you!” she said, throwing her hands up in the air.

“Now, there’s no need for insults, Hermione…”

The sound of the compartment door being slid open quieted the three bickering friends and as they turned to identify the intruder, their eyes fell upon a man in the archway.

He was taller, taller than Ron, who had only gained more height over the summer. His features where sharp and he had long silvery hair that fell into his violet eyes. His body was lean and Hermione could see compact, lithe muscles moving beneath his shirt. High cheekbones accentuated his angular, straight nose. She didn’t really have much time for boys most of the times, but Hermione had to admit that this person, whoever he was, was absolutely beautiful.

But what drew her eye after a moment of observation was a calligraphic design, etched onto his forearm like the dark mark, in a deep blue ink. The color was startling against his pale and fair skin, like the shock of the color that his eyes were, and only added more brilliance to the tattoo.

“Is there room in this compartment?” he asked, leaning against the doorway casually.

Hermione was unable to speak for a moment, so Harry did it for her.

“Yea, there is…come on in.”

His voice was hesitant and he turned back to Hermione as the man went back out side, probably to get his luggage.

“We still don’t know who our guides are, but-”

“I don’t give a bloody damn about who your guides are, Harry,” Hermione snapped at him. “What I’m sure of is that I’m coming with you.”

“It’s dangerous,” Ron whispered hurriedly, trying to get in some words with her before the stranger returned. “I can’t let you stand the possibility of getting hurt!”

“I can handle myself,” Hermione hissed back. “And I’m going, whether I have to bring Dumbledore into this or not.”

“Fine,” Harry admitted in defeat. “If you get hurt, don’t say anything. We just want you safe.”

Hermione gave him a wary smile. “I know. But did you ever think that it would hurt me more to stay here and not be helping you?”

Before he could answer, the man had come back, pulling his trunk in after him. He smirked, although it wasn’t malicious, and sat down next to Ron, and across from Hermione.

There was an awkward silence before Hermione decided to speak.

“I’m Hermione Granger,” she told him, putting on the best smile she could muster at the moment, which unfortunately looked like a grimace. She elbowed Harry in the ribs to motion for him to speak, but he didn’t get the hint. “And erm…this is Harry and Ron.”

“I’m Meier,” the silver haired man answered, speaking over the hooting that Ron‘s owl was making. “Meier Link. I presume that you’re seventh years?”

“We are,” Ron said, poking Pig with his wand to try to get him to stop hooting “Your year?”

“Seventh, also,” answered Meier. “I’m new, along with my cousin Ferro. He’s in Slytherin though…I’m in Gryffindor.”

Harry smiled brightly at the seventh year, holding out his hand for him to shake. “Welcome to the best house, Meier.”

Meier took his hand, but not before studying Harry’s face and then the long, lightening bolt shaped scar on his forehead.

“So you’re Harry Potter.”

Harry winced, publicity and recognition a sort of peeve for him. “I am.”

“We haven’t heard much of you where I’m from,” Meier told him, a twinkling mirth in his eyes. “Not until now.”

It was when he raised his hand to brush away a stray strand of hair when Hermione saw them.

His tall pointed ears.

And that’s when Hermione knew, although she scolded herself for her blindness for not seeing it right away, who this flawless male really was.

“I guess we should save the introductions that are to be made later tonight and do them now,” Hermione said, setting her book down on the cushiony seat.

“What?” Harry asked, a perplexed look on his face.

Meier’s eyes met hers and he smirked. “I am to be your guide,” he said simply, placing his foot on his opposite knee and brushing some dust from his pants.

Again, silence filled the compartment before Ron spoke up.

“But…but you’re seventeen,” he said incredulously. “You’re the same age as us!”

“I stopped aging when I was seventeen. But I believe I‘ve been living for around one hundred and sixty years, although I‘ve lost count a couple of times.”

“So you really are a faerie,” Hermione said her voice holding a bit of awe.

“I thought that faeries were tiny things with funny wings,” Harry said, pushing his glasses further up his nose. “And you’re…well you’re practically human.”

“You’ve been learning about Fees,” Meier told them nonchalantly, a scoffing tone in his voice as if he were dismissing the idea. “They’re rather troublesome. They have no use what so ever. They don’t even have a coherent language.”

“So what are you?” Ron asked.

“I am an elf.”

“An elf?” Harry asked. “But I thought that faeries were-”

“Faerie is a very large category,” Meier interrupted trying to explain. “Elves and Fees are just some of them. But you’ll learn about that later.”

“So you’re our guide,” Hermione stated more to herself than anyone else.

“Yes, I am,“ Meier answered, turning his violet eyes on her. “But more specifically, we’ve been sent here to protect you, Ms. Granger.”

“From what?!” Hermione exclaimed. Not only did he just prove Ron and Harry’s point of her not being safe, she need not only one guide, but two.

“I’m sure Dumbledore will tell you,” Meier said softly.

“So he thinks that she should come with us?” Ron asked. He hesitated when Hermione threw a glare at him. “On the mission, I mean.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Well obviously Ron. I wouldn’t need protection at Hogwarts you know.”

He scowled back at her and leaned back in his seat, Pig’s cage resting in his lap.

“Why are you even helping us?” Hermione ventured. “Is there something at stake for your world or is it for another reason?”

“That, among other things,” answered Meier, looking down at his intricate tattoo. “It’s not often that we help humans, so you must understand how dangerous the situation is that you’re going into. We don’t have many regards for mortals.”

“So why are you here?” Harry asked.

“Because for once, the world of faeries has something to lose,” the silver haired man said simply. “And we don’t like to lose.”

Tearing her eyes away from his face, Hermione stood up, grabbing her school uniform from the seat beside her.

“I’m going to go get changed,” Hermione said. Harry was about to speak but she quickly cut him off. “ And we have a prefects meeting. They’re telling us who made the Head positions.“ Hermione slung her bag over her shoulder. “Come on Ron. Bye Harry, Meier”

Ron pushed himself from the seat and grabbed his bag. “See you later Harry. Nice erm…meeting you Meier.”
______________________________________________________________________________________________________

“Damn Snape,“ Hermione muttered under her breath as she changed into her skirt.

She was upset for two reasons.

One, they hadn’t announced who filled the Head’s positions yet.

Two, the Potions Master had convinced Dumbledore to replace Pansy, who dropped her prefect position, with another one. Now Slytherin had two male prefects, one of them Malfoy and the other, Ferro. His name…Iron in Latin.

Hermione paused as she thought of the faerie.

He was quiet throughout most of the meeting, although he did smile faintly at her when she and Ron walked in. She could definitely see the resemblance between him and Meier, both having angular faces with high cheekbones, and the same tall, lean body. Ferro’s eyes were the color of gold, almost like Hermione’s own eyes, but sometimes they seemed to flash silver. His hair was as black as night, so black, that it looked blue.

And just like his cousin, Ferro was stunningly handsome.

Now Malfoy was a different story. The blonde boy bore a dangerous resemblance to Meier, with their similar silvery hair and sharp features. He had grown taller, much taller, standing over Ron now. He certainly looked different from the little, blond rat she had become accustomed to.

Buttoning up the last buttons on her shirt, Hermione looked out of the tinted window of the empty compartment and her breath caught.

Standing in the hallway was Meier and Ferro, obviously talking in hushed tones. She cracked open the door, making sure that they didn’t hear her.

The last sentence she caught said by a grave Ferro, made her heart lurch with fear.

“Aegresco simulo celeries. Abhinc les conglacio nivampro…”

“Trouble is swift. The cold vamperum are here…”

But one thing that should’ve troubled her more than the foreshadow of something wicked, was the fact that she understood them, despite the fact that they were speaking a dead language.

Chapter 2: The Meeting of the Order
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The Meeting of the Order


The shock of the cold hit Hermione in her face as she stepped off of the train, helped down by Ron. She was shortly followed by Harry and Meier, who were levitating their four trunks.

Hermione gently made her way through the crowds of younger students, while Ron merely shoved them out of the way. She gritted her teeth as she looked around, her eyes landing on the tall silver haired boy who was approaching them.

“Don’t tell me that you’re riding with us too?” Hermione asked irritably, regarding the faerie with a bit of distaste.

“You may need protection,” Meier answered snarkily, smirking at her. “It’s not my fault that your Headmaster finds you incompetent…”

Did this arse just question her proficiency?

Hermione glowered at his remark, grinding her teeth together. “Shouldn’t we be questioning your ability since you’re the one who’s gone so low as to protect a human?”

“It’ll be harder than you think, Ms. Granger,” Meier said. “There’re some things about yourself that you don’t know.”

Hermione raised an eyebrow. “And what exactly do you know about me that I don’t? I mean, really, tell me. Because I’d like to know.”

“I know a lot of things that your small, human mind couldn’t even begin to comprehend,” Meier snapped, his lip curling into sneer.

Harry and Ron stood between them, uncomfortably.

“Small? My mind is small?” Hermione asked unbelievingly, her voice rising with her anger. “I’ll do things to you with a wand that you can’t imagine-”

“Hermione…” Ron placed a gentle hand on her arm, trying to get her to calm down. “The carriages are coming.”

She reluctantly backed down from Meier, scowling at him. Sure enough, as she turned around, the thestrals rode up to the students, nearly knocking her over in the process. She stumbled back a bit but Harry held on firmly to her arm. She smiled up thankfully at him.

Hermione slid in the farthest and made sure that Ron sat next to her, instead of the faerie. Unfortunately, Meier got in before Harry and sat across from her, smiling devishly at her. When the door closed and locked and the carriage began to move, Hermione spoke.

“Well this certainly has been a day,” she said. “First we have faeries as guides“ she threw a distasteful glare at Meier “ ….next you’ll be telling me that Malfoy joined the Order.”

She laughed quietly to herself but stopped when she realized that she was on the only one laughing. Harry was carefully studying the hem of his robes, while Ron had suddenly decided to pull out a book, which was hers, and read it. Meier, on the other hand, still had that god forsaken smirk on his face.

“What is it?” Hermione asked for the third time that day. “Are you really going to tell me that Malfoy has joined the Order?”

“Er…yes?” Ron said.

What!”

“He joined over the summer…“ Ron said carefully, not wanting to upset her.

“We don’t know why though,” Harry put in quickly as he saw her mouth open in protest. “But he’s told Dumbledore. And he seems to trust him.”

Hermione breathed easier when Harry mentioned the Headmaster…but she wasn’t completely sure if Dumbledore’s trust was enough for her anymore. There wasn’t anyone she trusted less (other than some obvious people, like Voldemort) than Malfoy.

“We don’t trust him in the least,” Ron said, voicing her thoughts. “But none the less, he’ll be coming with us to prove that he’s “worthy”, which I think is impossible.”

“Maybe we should try,” Hermione said slowly, as if tasting her words before saying them. “His ties to the other side could be of great help. Almost like a spy…like Snape.”

Ron looked at her incredulously but decided against speaking. She was in a state, as it was already.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“I would like to make some announcements,” Dumbledore said, his voice magically magnified over the noise of the Great Hall after the sorting hat had finished putting the new students where they belonged.

Everyone immediately quieted.

“I would just like to make known some well known rules. The care keeper, Mr. Filch, would like me to remind students that there is to be no magic or horseplay in the hallways. Accidents last year were at an all time high. I would also like to remind you about our grounds. There is a reason for the Forbidden Forest’s name because, as it has been for the entirety of Hogwarts, it is forbidden.”

“And now for the announcement of the Head Boy and Head Girl, although I am sure that they are very aware of who they are.”

“The Head Boy is Draco Malfoy from the House of Slytherin! Stand up Mr. Malfoy and give everyone a wave.”

Loud rounds of ovation broke out from the Slytherin table, along with some of the Ravenclaws, although groans were heard from the other two houses.

“And the Head Girl, without a doubt, is Hermione Granger from Gryffindor!”

Thunderous applause broke out from the Gryffindor table, along with Hufflepuff and half of the Ravenclaws. Ron and Harry were thumping the wooden table with their fists and yelling at the top of their lungs. She threw a triumphant glance at Malfoy, who sneered back at her.

“That’s all. Tuck in!”

The tables, like every other year, filled to the brim with an assortment of foods, awing the first years, and surprising the returning students with more dishes than there ever had been before.

Hermione looked warily at the food, still promoting S.P.E.W for all it was worth, but the slight rumbling of her stomach told her all she needed to know. She took only what she knew she was going to eat, unlike Ron and Harry and most of the male population, who piled their plates high and ended up vomiting half of it.

She looked up and noticed that most of the girls were watching Meier, Ferro, or Malfoy. It didn’t go unnoticed on her that many boys were also watching her eat. Scowling, Hermione turned to talk to Harry and Ron.

“I thought you were still going on with Spew,” Ron said playfully, stabbing a piece of steak with his gilded knife

“S.P.E.W,” she corrected. “It’s an acronym, Ron.”

“Well, are you still doing it?”

“I am,” Hermione explained. “But I can’t starve either. I’m just not going to squander their hard work by taking one bite out of each piece of food and not finish eating it. Or stuff my face until I get sick.” Hermione motioned towards a once hungry Seamus, who’s face was starting to turn green from all the sweets he had eaten. “Prime example.”

She yelped when a letter appeared in front of her with a loud pop. Snickering at her, Harry took it, slit open the seal and read it.

“We’re to meet him in his office after the feast,” Harry said. “But we should try to come separately. Apparently, we’re going to be starting a lot earlier than we originally planned.”

“How much earlier?” Meier asked from beside Hermione.

“Late October, early November.”

“How in Merlin’s name are we going to be that long without anyone getting suspicious?” Ron questioned, holding a piece of steak in front of his mouth.

“Golems,” Hermione answered, surprised with it herself.

“What’re golems?” Harry asked.

“Yes, please enlighten us,” Meier put in, smirking at her again.

Hermione threw a glare at him before explaining. “ Golems originally turned up in Jewish legend. They’re little figures made of clay and are often mistaken for voodoo dolls. Through potions and some spells, the golem is brought to life and can actually, nearly be a person, if the maker wishes it to be. It would look like that person, talk like them, have their intelligence, say things that that person would say. When the original returns, the golem turns to dust.”

“Interesting.”

Laughing could be heard from the Slytherin table and Hermione turned to see who was causing it. It was, obviously, Malfoy being an obnoxious prat as usual. Crabbe and Goyle were thumping each other on their backs, as if it was some contest, and Pansy had a hand on Malfoy’s arm, although he shook her off repeatedly.

His molten silver gaze met hers and although he had a cold smile on his face, his eyes were grim, as if something heavy was placed on him. Hermione turned away, breaking the connection, and resumed eating warily, waiting with the rest for the end of the feast that would bring them answers they needed.
__________________________________________________________________________________

Draco Malfoy leaned against an overstuffed green armchair in the dark Slytherin common room. Pansy, Crabbe, Goyle, and Blaise were there, sitting around him in a circle. Draco watched as the dark haired boy knelt down to the floor, drawing a muggle drug into thin lines that he then snorted.

Blaise shook his head a couple of times before grinning up at Draco. “Want some?”

“Of all the times you’ve asked me to do heroin, have I ever?” Draco replied, sneering at him in the process.

The other boy shrugged and drew up another line of the white powder.

“I can’t believe that you made Head Boy,” Pansy said. She was painting her nails a light green, a rather ugly color that resembled vomit. The stringent smell of chemicals filled the room and Draco wrinkled his nose.

“It would be easier if you used your wand,” he told her, nodding towards the bottle of polish.

She ignored him. “I’m just glad that they replaced me with the new kid. I hated being a prefect. Everyone was always thinking that you knew what to do.”

“That’s why they replaced you, Pansy,” Draco sneered. “You don’t know how to do anything.”

The other three boys laughed and Pansy threw an arm pillow at the blonde, but ended up hitting Goyle in his face instead.

“Can you believe that they made Granger Head Girl?” she continued. Draco rolled his eyes. “I mean a mudblood given the honor. Obviously the old fool has finally gone daft.”

“Who would’ve filled the position Pansy?” Blaise asked. “You?”

“No! But someone other than her.”

“For once in your life, be honest,” Draco snarled. “We all know that you’re jealous, Parkinson.”

“I’m not jealous of that…that thing!“ protested Pansy. “She’s a mudblood for Merlin’s sake!”

“Yes you are,” Blaise put in as he snorted up more heroin. “She’s prettier than you, smarter than you, better liked than you…”

“You think she’s pretty?” Pansy screeched, standing up. Her face was red.

Blaise shrugged and drew up another line of the white powder. “She’s gorgeous Pansy. Answer enough for you? You know that I‘ve fancied her since last year.”

“I can’t believe that you’d so low as to even think of a mudblood that way!”

“For fuck’s sake Pansy,” Draco said exasperatedly. “Shut up. Her being a mudblood isn’t a good enough excuse anymore. It’s because she’s her and you’re jealous. Admit it, sit down, and shut your mouth.”

Pansy went quiet and huffed as she sat back down, throwing Draco a venomous glare.

“Did you see the other new kid at the Gryffindor table?” Blaise asked him. “With the silver hair. You and him look alike.’

Draco snorted. “I look better than him.”

“Sure you do,” Pansy muttered under her breath, feigning a look of innocence when Draco glared at her.

“And that’s why you’re always all over me, Pansy, not to mention in my bed?” he sneered at her. “Because I’m ugly?”

“I’m just saying that you, Ferro, Blaise, and the other kid are neck for neck with this year’s “Hottest”,” she explained, referring to the school wide list that many girls made.

“You, and all the other slags, actually write this crap down?” Draco asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Yes,” Pansy sniffed indignantly.

“Loser,” Blaise said, smirking.

She glared at him and picked up her bottle of polish, opening it and letting the odor escape once again.

“Must you insist on painting your nails with that godforsaken crap in here?” Draco snarled at her.

“It’s Armani nail polish, Draco. It’s the best.”

The blond rolled his eyes. “You know that Armani is a muggle line right? A line run by a muggle?”

“What?” Pansy asked, her voice screeching with false disbelief. She glanced around at the other four as if she needed approval for something. “Well than I can’t use it,” she determined, setting the bottle down on the coffee table.

“You’re such a hypocrite,” Draco told her, as Blaise stood up to get another bag of heroin from a concealed pocket in his bag.

“Why?”

“All of those damn robes you’re so proud of,” he started, nodding towards her Dior robes thrown over an armchair, “are produced by muggles, Parkinson. They’re made for wizards but mudbloods produce them. Why are you wearing things made by people you despise?”

Pansy opened her mouth to speak but no words left her thin lips. Blaise snorted at the lack of her comment and began to draw up more lines of heroin.

Draco looked down at his platinum silver watch, and mumbled under his breath when he realized the time.

“I have to go,” he said, standing up. Crabbe and Goyle made to follow him, but he held up a hand. “Alone. It’s a Head meeting.”

The two lackeys grunted in response and sat back down. He swiftly made his way out of the Common Room entrance and ventured into the cold, dungeon corridors.
____________________________________________________________________________________

Draco’s eyes adjusted to the darkness of the first floor, with the occasional light of flames in the sconces. Students were still up, it being an hour before curfew, although many were still out after that. Giggling couples walked the halls while gossiping friends followed them. His gaze landed on a head of shining, auburn colored hair. Only one person had hair as magnificent as that.

“I need to talk to you, Granger,” Draco called out after her, his tone cold and condescending.

The figure halted and turned around, only to throw him a look of contempt. “What is it Malfoy?”

He approached her, drawing her against the wall by her upper arm where they almost melted into the shadows.

“The meeting is in ten minutes,” he said. “He wants us on time.”

Granger rolled her eyes at him. “When have I ever been late, Malfoy?”

They stood, looking at each other for a moment, soaking in the awkward silence.

“I don’t trust you,” Granger said, her amber eyes searching his own. She stopped as if she had found something, or a lack of. “But I won’t question you unless something you do forces me to, Malfoy.”

She turned to walk away but he said something in such a cool manner that made her stop and consider if what he was saying was true.

“I don’t hate you Granger, contrary to general belief.”

The words were true, although he knew she would doubt them. He grinned maliciously as he saw the perplexed look on her face. How he loved to confuse people.

“I don’t hate you either… not completely,” Granger replied. “But I certainly don’t like you.”

Ouch. A blow to his pride.

Draco’s eyes narrowed in anger. “Good,” he said, his voice deadly calm. “Let’s keep it that way.”

As he walked away, ignoring the girls who were coming onto him (which he would normally take advantage of), he had to admit to himself that the last words he spoke were far from what he wanted to be the truth.
____________________________________________________________________________________

Dumbledore sat in his large, winged, armchair with Snape standing to his left and McGonagall on his right. Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were also there. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were sitting before the Headmaster, while Ferro and Meier stood behind them. Malfoy sat next to Harry, rather uncomfortable at the thought of being in the same room of people who hated his father and partially him, although he had dealt with it much over the summer.

“I assume that we all know why we are here and in case someone needs some filling in, I’ll explain.” Dumbledore paused, touching his fingertips together. “ Voldemort-” The Weasleys, Tonks and Kingsley flinched. “- is planning something. We’re not sure, so we’ve enlisted the help of faerie guides along with two spies in his Deatheater ranks.”

“I have an idea that he is on a search for immortality, although this time it’s not rampant. We have little information but we do one thing that Severus has brought to my attention. He wants you, Ms. Granger,” he said slowly, looking at her over his folded hands. “We’re not entirely sure of the reason at this moment, but Remus may hold some of those answers.”

“Remus!” Mrs. Weasley gasped, clearly shocked and upset at the prospect of disturbing the sickly. “But Albus! He’s in a comatose state at St. Mungo’s!”

“His body is, but his mind isn’t, Molly,” Dumbledore told the distraught woman kindly. “I assure you that I’ll be able to talk to him.”

“Why are we sending Hermione out on this mission when Voldemort wants her?” Harry asked, a fire blazing behind his eyes. “We’re practically handing her over!”

“Don’t talk about me as if I’m not here!” Hermione snapped at the black haired boy angrily but she was ignored.

“That’s why we have guides Harry,” Dumbledore told him calmly. “I’m sure that Meier and Ferro won’t let harm befall Ms. Granger, unless she orders them to do so, which I find highly unlikely. It‘s not fair for her to be left out of important things like this”

Mr. Weasley spoke up from the corner, his arm around his worried wife. “Why are we sending children to do this? It’s highly dangerous, not to mention all the work they’ll have to make up at the end of the mission. They‘re missing a lot of school time”

“How old were you Arthur when you went on your first mission to retrieve information from our allies in Bulgaria, despite a high alert of Death Eater activity?” Dumbledore asked, his eyes twinkling at the younger man.

Mr. Weasley blushed. “I was eighteen.”

“And you Tonks?” he asked, turning towards the Metamorphous.

“Seventeen, Albus,” the pink haired witch answered proudly.

“What better way to bring them into adulthood, and let them experience what they’ll be doing for Merlin knows how much longer, than now, in the height of it?” McGonagall said, speaking for the first time. “Although I am still apprehensive, they have some of the best protection around, better than ten of us together.”

“They’re so young!” Mrs. Weasley protested, wringing her hands on the bottom of her robes.

“If it makes you feel any better Molly, they’ll be followed at almost all times by no less than three Aurors,” Dumbledore said. “Think of this as a test, where they have to prove themselves.”

“And faeries are good with magic?” Mrs. Weasley continued apprehensively, narrowing her kind eyes at the two men standing behind Hermione.

Dumbledore motioned towards Meier and Ferro, as if asking for them to explain…which they did.

“I alone can take down ten wizards,” Ferro said, his Italian accent apparent in his speech. “My companion will be able to defeat more for he has greater experience than I do.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. Faeries certainly weren’t modest.

Ron’s mother finally seemed reassured and sat down, her husband’s consoling hand on her shoulder.

Dumbledore continued. “On November 17, you will start packing, bringing all the essentials that you’ll need. At the same time as we are meeting tonight, all of us will meet again. That night, you’ll leave to meet pleasant associates in Diagon Alley and after a night, leave for the heart of England to meet more allies.”

“How are their disappearances going to be unnoticed?” questioned Kingsley in his deep, rumbling voice.

Snape’s upper lip curled into a sneer. “I’ll be taking care of that.”

“How?”

“Golems,” Snape said. “ Exactly as the original. A clone, if you please.”

“The golems will be placed in their beds a week before they leave,” Dumbledore interrupted. “The week before will be seclusion in extra dorms, filled with training, classes about Faeries ( Mr.’s Meier and Ferro feel that you should get to know about them), and of course, making up the work that you’ll be missing. The day before you enter seclusion, your appearance will be altered”

“But you don’t have any free time before then,” Dumbledore reminded them. “Severus still has to make the golems. Every Friday night, after ten, is time for training, and every Monday night, after nine, is still for making up homework, because yes Mr. Weasley (do close your mouth), you will have that much work given to you.”

“If not more,” Snape added nastily, leering at them.

Ron and Harry shot vehement glares at their Potions master.

“I still don’t understand why Hermione’s coming if he wants her so much,” Ron said. “It’s a ridiculous idea.”

His mother began to scold him from her seat. “Ron, don’t saying such things.

“What?! It’s true!”

“Don’t talk about me as if I’m not here Ron!” Hermione repeated. “You can’t stop me from going. And if you’re not going to send you me, then you might as well keep Harry here too because there’s more risk with him leaving.”

“That may be incorrect,” Dumbledore said softly. Everyone turned theirs eyes on the wizened Headmaster. “What Voldemort seeks, immortality where there’s no hope of him being killed, may lie with you. This is why you need so much protection. So you see Ms. Granger, I may actually, in time, regret sending you.”

Chapter 3: The Appearence of Golems
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The Appearence of Golems


Two months passed in the blink of an eye, with the making up of work and training. Preparation with Tonks and the two faeries did prove useful for all four of them greatly improved on dueling, although they still had a little ways to go. Hermione and Malfoy were the best at it, so far, until Hermione would be able to take the chance to maim him for life ( whenever that chance arrived).

It was a day before their seclusion began when Hermione was walking down to the Great Hall for breakfast. Not looking, she bumped into Harry, who had a letter clutched in his hand. His eyes had a glazed look to them and were strangely vacant.

“Hey ,” Hermione said.

Harry stopped, not looking her in the face.

“Harry, what’s wrong?”

“They’re dead,” he answered, his voice dull.

“Who, Harry?” Hermione asked worriedly, taking hold of Harry’s arm. He looked up and met her eyes.

“The Dursleys…last night…they were killed.”

Hermione’s eyes widened with shock. “Deatheaters?”

He nodded, and smiled as if he couldn’t believe it. “They killed my uncle and my cousin. But not my aunt. She’s still alive, although she’s a bit mad after what happened.”

“Why…why would they leave her alive?” Hermione questioned apprehensively.

“I dunno,” Harry said. “It still hurts you know, even if it’s not that much. They were still family.” He paused, as if debating on whether or not to ask her what he was about to. “Am I a horrible person for not missing them as much as I should?”

Hermione didn’t answer, but instead gathered Harry into a tight hug.

“Am I?” Harry repeated, crumpling the letter in his tight fist over her shoulder.

“I think…I think that you’ve lost so much Harry,” Hermione said softly in his ear. “That sometimes, you stop caring.”

She released him but held him by his shoulders. “But you have us Harry. You have us, you have the Weasleys, you have the Order. We’re your family.”

Harry smiled weakly at her and followed her into the Great Hall. Ron was already there, Ginny at his side, stuffing his face with a rasher of bacon and biscuits. Hermione rolled her eyes as she sat down.

“Hello,” Ron said cheerily, giving everyone a view of the crushed food in his mouth.

Hermione pulled a disgusted face. “Close your mouth Ron. I don’t want to see a half masticated pig rolling about.”

He obediently shut his mouth after murmuring his apologies to them. Spreading some jam on her toast, Hermione smiled up at Seamus as he sat down.

“Hey Seamus.”

“Hey,” he replied. His voice sounded shaky, as if he was nervous and he was twiddling his thumbs as if his life depended on it.

“Are you okay?” Ginny questioned, holding in a giggle as he upset his goblet of orange juice when Hermione looked up at him.

“Yes, you do seem a little jumpy Seamus,” the brunette witch told him, looking at him worriedly. “Do you need to see Pomfrey?”

“I’m fine. I was just wondering if you would want to go to Hogsmeade with me on Saturday.”

Hermione didn’t notice that he was speaking to her until she looked up from the newspaper in her lap.

“What?” she asked, noticing that it had gone quiet.

Seamus paled at the thought of repeating his inquisition. “I- I wanted to ask if you’d like to come with me to Hogsmeade this Saturday.”

Ron’s eyes narrowed at the Irishman. “Sorry but she’s going to be busy,” he said rather coldly.

“I didn’t know that you were dating,” Seamus said, raising an eyebrow as he looked back and forth between a confused Hermione and a livid Ron.

“Well, we are-”

“No we’re not!” Hermione interrupted, throwing a violent look at Ron. “It’s just that…I’ll have to let you know later.”

“You don’t have to go with me if you don’t want to,” Seamus said. “I understand that you’ve probably been asked by a lot of blokes-”

“What?… No, I’d love to go with you…I just…I may have plans that day.”

His face brightened considerably and he picked up his books that he had just set down. “Well I’ll see you later tonight Hermione. In the common room?” She nodded.

Seamus got up and left. Ron scowled at his back before turning to Hermione.

“Why are you going with him?” he asked, still glaring at Seamus, who had passed through the doors.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “What’s your problem? It’s not like I’m dating Snape.”

“Nothing…just…argh!” Ron got up, angrily snatching his backpack from the bench. The three watched him go in surprise. “I’ll see you later,” the red head spat out before storming out of the Great Hall.

“You still don’t get it, do you?” Ginny asked Hermione, grinning mischievously.

“What?”

“Never mind, Hermione,” Ginny said, her creepy smile still on her face.. “I have to study for Potions. Will I see you guys later on tonight?”

Harry and Hermione exchanged glances.

“I guess not,” said the youngest Weasley, returning to her book.

“Well that certainly put a damper on things for the rest of the day,” Hermione said, helping herself to a piece of bacon.
_________________________________________________________________________________________

The rest of the day passed and it was nearly night time when Hermione’s charmed watch went off.

“Meet Snape!” it squealed in a high pitched, ear bleeding voice. “Meet Snape!”

Harry looked up at her from his essay on the coffee table. She nodded at him and he began to roll up his essay. Ron came down from the boy’s dormitory, sulking.

“Where're you two going?” he asked, noticing his two best friends packing up hurriedly.

Hermione looked at him incredulously. “Don’t tell me you forgot Ron!” she snapped. “We go into…er…that thing in Potions tonight.”

A look of recognition crossed over the red head’s features and he nodded. Seamus came bounding down the steps, nearly colliding into Ron in the process.

“Sorry bout that mate,” he apologized. He noticed Hermione and quickly strode over to her. Ron scowled behind Seamus’s back.

“Hey, Hermione, about tomorrow-”

“I’d be glad to go with you,” Hermione said. “As friends, right?”

His face fell. “I was kind of thinking as on a date.”

“Oh!” Hermione’s eyes widened. “Oh. I…well…I…”

“You’re going to be kind of busy tomorrow, remember Hermione?” Harry put in. “It’s her mother’s birthday on Sunday and she has to go shopping.”

“I’m sorry Seamus,” Hermione told him, throwing a sideways appreciative glance at Harry and giving Seamus a convincing show. “I completely forgot.”

“It’s fine,” Seamus said, smiling sadly. “Maybe some other time then?”

“Absolutely,” Hermione replied brightly. “Next weekend?” The brunette boy nodded and grinned handsomely at her.

Smiling at Seamus, Hermione grabbed her bag and slipped it onto her shoulders. She ushered the other two boys out of the portrait, waving goodbye to the Irishman behind them.

It took them a good full ten minutes to get down to Snape’s dungeons, mainly because they had to dodge behind statues every time somebody walked by to avoid being seen.

“Ouch!” Hermione complained, punching Ron on his shoulder. “That was my foot!”

“Sorry,” he replied, rubbing his arm where she’d hit him. “You know how clumsy I am.”

Harry stopped and the two nearly ran into him. Once Ron had finished apologizing and Hermione had calmed down, they realized where they were. The door leading to Snape’s dungeon was darker and more foreboding than it was during the day, and certainly more so than in second year when they had stolen ingredients for the Polyjuice Potion.

“Well, go on,” Hermione demanded, inching away from Ron who had almost trodden on her foot again. “Open it, Harry.”

“I don’t want to.”

The brunette witch rolled her eyes and nudged Ron. “You open it then Ron.”

“Why?”

The lights along the walls, which barely did a thing in the dank, cold dungeon corridors, flickered and Hermione jumped. They flickered again and then completely went out, as if a wind had blown across them at the same time.

“Open the door, Harry,” Hermione whispered urgently, clutching onto Ron’s robes. She could make out nothing in the dark. Ron unconsciously put a comforting arm around her.

A muffled sound came from Harry and the distinct jingling sound of a doorknob being turned followed.

“It’s locked,” Harry said, grunting as he threw he weight against the door. Hermione felt him move back. “You try it, Ron.”

“I can’t see a bloody thing Harry. How am I supposed to open the door?”

Hermione pushed them aside and searched the pocket of her jeans for her wand. She groaned when she realized that she didn’t have it.

“Does anyone else have their wand?” she asked.

Something touched her and Hermione let out a little scream, nearly toppling over Harry’s legs, who had decided to sit down.

“Sorry Mione,” Ron said affectionately, grasping her forearm to keep her from falling. “It’s just me.”

She righted herself, running a hand through her hair. “Thanks, Ron. Do you have your wand?”

The slim wood of a wand was pushed into her hand and Hermione turned back to face the door. Harry and Ron stood behind her.

Alohamora,” Hermione muttered. She patiently waited for the click of a lock being unbound but it never came.

“It didn’t work,” she said sadly.

“On the count of three, we push,” Harry said, standing up. “One…two…three!”

Just as they pushed against the door, it opened, sending the three falling forward into the dimly lit Potions chamber. Hermione groaned and tried to move, only to find that Ron was lying on top of her and Harry was partially lying on him.

Harry slowly got to his feet but jumped when he realized that she was still crushed under Ron.

“Get off, Ron,” Harry said, tugging at the taller boy’s arm.

Ron grunted and touched his head gingerly and frowned when he saw that blood was on it. It seemed as if he had hit his head on the stone floor. He looked down and saw a glowering Hermione, red in the face, who began to hit him.

“This isn’t comfortable,” she snapped angrily, pushing at his chest with her hands. “If you would kindly get off-” Ron stood and dragged her up with him. “- thank you.”

The three got up, only to face a worse site. A very angry Severus Snape and the two amused faces of Meier and Ferro.

“I distinctly remember telling you 9:30,” he snarled, his arms folded over his black clad chest. “It’s now 9:25.”

“It’s only five minutes before Professor,” Harry protested, fixing his glasses.

“Thank you for proving that you can do basic arithmetic, Potter,” Snape snarled at him. Harry scowled darkly at the professor “But I don’t remember telling you to be here five minutes early. When I say a certain time, I mean it.”

“Your clock says 9:30,” Ron pointed out, nodding towards Snape’s magical clock that hung above his desk.

“Weasley!” Snape roared warningly. “Sit down!”

Instead of the usual desks, there were four rigid, wooden chairs. With a flick of his wand, the Potions Master conjured a large mirror which hung beside a door that led into his many storage rooms.

Grudgingly, Snape handed Ron a piece of cloth for his head and a small vial of healing potion that he had retrieved from his desk.

“Clean up Weasley,” he said coldly. “I don’t want you bleeding on my floor.”

Ron glared up at Snape before dabbing at the blood on the side of his face and then downing the potion. The door to the dungeon opened quite roughly and Malfoy walked through, taking the seat next to Hermione.

“Now that you’re all here,” Snape said. “We can begin. And Ms. Granger, you‘ll be with me.”

“Mr. Potter, if you could come with me…” she heard Meier ask behind her.

Hermione stood nervously and walked through the door that Snape held open for her. The room was filled to the ceiling with shelves, except for one wall where there was a large wardrobe. There was, again a wooden chair that he motioned for her to sit on. Hermione sat and swallowed as Snape drew near her face with his wand and another vial of indigo colored potion.

“Don’t flinch,” the Potions Master said, as he placed the cool tip of his wand against her skin. “It’ll only make it worse.”
______________________________________________________________________________________________

Hermione was the first one done and she could already tell some changes, although she hadn’t seen herself yet. Her vision was lot clearer and she picked up hues and colors that she didn’t even know existed, off of ordinary objects. Her sense of smell had intensified as did her hearing. Cautiously, she made her way to the large mirror beside the door.

One main difference she immediately noticed was the color of her eyes. They were still amber, but they were changed somehow. They were a tone of russet that she had never seen before on a human, save on Ferro. It was light, like the color of gold, although the hue got darker around her irises where it was the shade of green and silver.

Her hair was pretty much the same, although it was now a little more wavy and ended in curling tendrils instead of her usual cascading curls. While her hair had been an reddish brown normally, it was now the color of melted dark chocolate, so deep, that it seemed black. Her ivory skin was much fairer than it normally was and that, combined with her darker hair and lighter eyes, led to a stunning, beautiful face.

While she was studying her face in the mirror, Harry, Ron and Malfoy stepped in.

“You’re so modest Granger,” Malfoy sneered sarcastically from behind her. She scowled at him through the mirror.

She turned around to examine the other‘s new appearances. Harry had no glasses and his hair was now a dirty blonde. His nose was longer, much more like his dad’s, and he had no scar. His eyes were a bright blue. Ron’s hair was still the same length but it was deep brown. He had no spattering of freckles like he usually did and his eyes, instead of being blue, were now green.

Reluctantly, her eyes fell on Malfoy. He was paler than normal, the same color as she was, and his hair fell a good length past his shoulders. His cheekbones were higher. He looked like he normally did, but not…

“You look almost the same,” Ron said. “But then again you don’t…you don’t look human anymore.”

Hermione’s eyes met with Malfoy’s and they widened in realization. She and Malfoy weren’t suppose to be humans…were they supposed to be faeries? Her fingers went up to touch her ears and she bit back a scream. Instead of her normal ear shape, her fingers had come in contact with a pointed tip. She looked up to see Malfoy smirk at her with a knowing look on his face.

“…beautiful,” she heard Harry finish.

“What?” she asked, tearing her eyes away from Malfoy. “What were you saying?”

“You look beautiful,” Harry repeated, blushing as Hermione raised an eyebrow. “You did before, but there’s something about your eyes…”

At that moment, Meier stepped in next to Malfoy and Hermione realized then they nearly looked identical. They could definitely pass for siblings. The door behind Hermione slammed as Snape stepped out, his bellowing robes following, and walked up to a large cauldron. The potion inside was hot and bubbling, a pale gray color.

“What’s that?” Harry asked, nodding towards the concoction.

“The potion used as the base for the Golems,” Hermione answered, studying the potion from where she was standing. “We have to add in some things from us to make them realistic.”

Snape scowled up at her once more before explaining more thoroughly. “I will split the potion into six bowls, since the six of you are leaving. Eventually it will solidify into a clay like substance, so before this happens, you need to add hair from your head and three drops of blood. I will then take each of your voices and make a copy. The same will be done to your mind.”

“So these Golems are us?” Malfoy asked, his arms crossed over his broad chest as he studied the potion.

“On the outside, yes,” Snape answered. “On the inside, no. Their organs are made from the same substance that’s brewing right now. But they will think like you, talk like you, have the same intelligence as you, make the same decisions as you would in certain situations. So yes, these Golems are copies of you, imprints in clay that will dissolve once you return.”

“Can they do magic?” Hermione asked.

“No,” the potions master said evenly. “The excuse for you, Granger, and Mr. Malfoy, is that you will have to get along for a couple of months without magic. For you others, your punishment of something you have done is the confiscation of your wands-”

Snape abruptly stopped as he glanced down at the congealing mixture and nearly ran to his desk where six silver, rather large bowls were resting. He laid them out around the cauldron and began to carefully pour the potion into the dishes.

“Stop standing there like idiots and come choose a bowl,” Snape snarled at his students when he noticed that the potion was starting to congeal around the sides of the dish.

They all quickly chose a bowl.

“Sit down,” the potions master commanded. “And take out a piece of your hair. Don’t drop it in until I say.”

So the six of them sat there, waiting for Snape’s order when Hermione asked a question.

“How will this work, professor? The Golem will take on the appearance of what we look like now, instead of what we used to look like.”

“Just because your appearance changes does not mean that your DNA does. Now be quiet and do what I say!”

Hermione closed her mouth and turned to glare at Malfoy, who was snickering beside her.

“Drop the hair in now.”

Small puffs of greenish light emitted from the bowls and Hermione began to cough as a smell similar to sulfur rose from the bowls. Snape flicked his wand and a silver needle appeared in front of them.

“Now add three drops of blood. No more, no less.”

They all did so and the smell dissolved. When the smoke cleared, the liquid was now a silver glob of clay, resting at the bottom of the bowl.

“You’re all dismissed,” Snape snapped, levitating the bowls over to his large desk. “I’ll shape the golems myself. I don’t trust you fools to do it correctly.”

“What about the copies of our voices and stuff?” Ron asked as Hermione attempted to push him out of the door.

“They’ve already been produced. What do you think the smoke was for, Weasley?”


Chapter 4: An Encounter with Two Snakes
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An Encounter with Two Snakes


As I walked through my beautiful garden
To her as to me, ‘tis be my Eden
My Eve, the night so dusky and dim
Talked of fruits and abominations of scarlet skin
I saw before me, instead two great snakes
Of undying darkness and glorious sin
- "Night" by Arielle Gray



The six of them sat in the common room of their new dormitories until they left on their mission. The fire was crackling merrily in the hearth and Harry and Ron were playing Wizard’s Chess on the coffee table. Meier had his feet propped up and was gazing into the flames, as if he was thinking about something that had great importance. Ferro sat beside him, his eyes wandering over towards Hermione rather often. Malfoy was writing an essay.

“I’m going to the library,” Hermione told Harry and Ron, although the other three probably heard her also. It was deadly quiet in the room, except for Ron and Harry’s occasional jabbering and the crunching sound of chess pieces being smashed.

“Why?” Ron asked, looking up from the board to study her.

“I need some books for an essay,” she lied, wincing as she did so. Hermione was a rather truthful person.

“You’re a horrible liar,” Harry told her.

“Thanks, Harry,” Hermione said sarcastically. “But I’m going anyway. I need to research some things.”

“You’re sure that you don’t want me to go with you?” Ron asked.

“Or me?” Harry put in.

Hermione rolled her eyes as she slung her backpack over her shoulder. “I’ll be fine. I have my wand. And if I’m not back in an hour, you can come looking for me.”

She turned away from them and stepped between the couches to reach the portrait that led out of the common room.

“Where’re you going?” Meier asked from behind her. Hermione sighed exasperatedly.

“Good God, I’m only going to the library,” Hermione snapped back at him.

“We’re supposed to protect you,” Meier told her, making to stand up from the couch.

“I’m in Hogwarts. I don’t need “protecting” from anyone,” Hermione spat.

“Fine. Ten minutes.”

“I’ll be gone an hour,” Hermione told him.

Malfoy glanced up at her from his essay and sneered, “Is the library even open, Granger?”

Hermione turned her amber eyes on him. “Actually it is, Malfoy. Not that you would know since you’ve never been there.”

“I don’t need books to prove my intelligence, Granger,” he spat back at her, rolling up his parchment.

“And I don’t need my father’s money to buy me positions that I don’t deserve,” Hermione snapped back. She passed by him swiftly.

The others winced at her harsh response and turned their eyes on Malfoy as Hermione flounced out of the common room angrily.

He merely took out another piece of parchment, dipped his quill in more ink and continued writing with a smirk tugging at the corners of his lips.



Hermione was on her way back from the library, several rather large and heavy books cradled in her arms, when she was stopped by someone

A hand had wrapped around her upper arm in a vise like grip, startling her in the process. Hermione winced as her books hit the ground with a loud ‘thud’. Calming her shaking nerves, she looked up into the face of the person who had stopped her.

He was very handsome with caramel colored skin and slanted deep, hunter green eyes. Long black hair that turned to gentle curls at the ends, partially hid his face, and what wasn’t hanging free, was tied back in a low ponytail that fell a little past his shoulders.
It was his voice, really, that gave away his identity that was partially hidden in the dark. He sounded like Malfoy, although she rarely heard this man talk. Soft, but dangerous, like silk covered iron.

“Who are you?” he asked her softly.

Blaise Zabini.

Hermione tugged her arm, trying to get away from his grip, but it didn’t loosen. Blaise forcefully turned her around so that she faced him. Hermione cast her eyes towards the ground, hoping that he wouldn’t recognize her.

“You look exactly like Granger,” he said, peering at her face. Hermione grimaced. “Although there‘re some differences.”

“Yes, well…erm… I’m her cousin, here to visit the night,” Hermione lied. “But I have to leave now. So if you’d be so kind as to-”

“You’re beautiful,” Blaise murmured, drawing her closer to his face by her arm. His eyes peered at her. “You sound like her too.”

“Well it’s in the genes…”

Blaise studied her for a moment before picking up a tendril of long hair from her shoulder. “I think you’re lying,” he concluded, twisting her hair between his fingertips. “…only one person has eyes like yours-”

“I have to go,” Hermione interrupted harshly, her fingers fumbling in her pockets for her wand. She paled when she realized that she had to get to her bag in order to get her wand…and her bag was on the floor, nearly behind Blaise.

“Can I get a kiss, Granger?” he asked, his voice ragged, yet soft against her lips.

“I don’t think so Zabini.”

“When are you going to open up those creamy, long legs of yours?” Blaise said softly in her ear, making the tiny hairs on the back of her neck stand up. “When are you going to let me in?”

Hermione shivered at his words and was embarrassed to feel that he was actually having an effect on her.

Slowly, very slowly, he backed her against a wall and molded his body to hers, allowing her to feel his hardness through his robes and trousers.

“I’ve been watching you, Granger,” Blaise continued. The tip of his tongue traced the shell of her ear and stopped at her throat. “You should know better than to be as beautiful as you are.” He stopped and pulled away, searching her wide eyes with his own. “But you don’t even know how stunning you are, do you?”

Hermione turned her head, not wanting to meet his intense gaze. Heat was gathering in her stomach and she knew that it would progress into something more if he kept on going the way he was. She shouldn’t be feeling like this, especially in the arms of Blaise Zabini, second only to Malfoy in the intricate game of seducing girls, bedding them, and then dumping them.

He paused a millimeter from her lips. “Let me show you.”

“Is this what you say to every girl before you shag them, then leave them?” Hermione asked him, her breathing caught in her throat. “I don’t bed Slytherins…sorry.”

“So far, to my knowledge, you haven’t bedded anyone yet,” he replied smoothly, trapping her against the wall between his arms. “And you won‘t be, unless it‘s me.”

Hermione reddened at his comment. “I wouldn’t sleep with you if you paid me, Zabini,” she snapped back.

“Believe me, Hermione.” Hermione looked up at him with surprise at the use of her first name. “Money won’t be my currency.” He pressed against her suggestively, raising his hand to stroke her cheek with long finger.

Hermione opened her mouth, and whether it was to steal another breath of air or to spit out a comment at him, she wouldn’t know because she didn’t know what she was going to do anyway. Instead, Hermione found a pair of soft and demanding lips on her own. His tongue traced her mouth, asking for entrance and Hermione found it hard to yield. She struggled to get away from him, pushing his broad chest with her hands and she even considered biting his tongue. The kiss was fiery, caresses with his lips and those hands…those hands were weaving themselves in her silky tresses, moving down to her back and resting on the swell of her…

“Zabini!” a male voice growled from down the hall. “What in the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Hermione jumped back from Zabini’s mouth, startled and staring at the intruder like a deer in headlights. Her cheeks were growing red from embarrassment that she was actually letting Blaise kiss her. She inwardly groaned when she saw a shock of silvery blonde hair approach them.

Malfoy.

He was most likely going to make matter worse by telling Harry and Ron when they got back. He really was the last person she wanted to see.

“Taking what’s mine,” Blaise said silkily to the blonde, although there was an malicious undercurrent in his voice, “before anybody else does.”

Excuse me?” Hermione asked. “I don’t belong to anyone, least of all you-”

“Let’s go Granger, we need to patrol again,” Malfoy said gruffly, grabbing her arm and pulling her away from Blaise. “It’s been over an hour,” he added in a lower tone in her ear, as he snatched her bag from the stone floor.

“She doesn’t want you,” Blaise said to the blonde nastily. “You’re too fucked up for her, Malfoy.”

“What in the hell are you on about?” Malfoy asked in a dangerous tone, as if challenging the other boy.

Blaise stepped forward, now chest to chest with Malfoy. “I’m telling you to stay away from her. I know what you want Malfoy.”

“I don’t want her, Zabini,” Malfoy snapped. “And if I did, what makes you so sure that she’d want you?”

Malfoy then grabbed Hermione’s arms again and roughly pulled her along the hallway, away from a seething Zabini.

“What is he going on about Malfoy?” Hermione asked, almost tripping when Malfoy abruptly tugged her into a corner as a group of conversing Hufflepuffs walked by.

“Are you daft?” he snapped, his hand still wrapped tightly around her arm. “He likes you, Granger. He has since last year. I guess he’s finally snapped.”

“Let go of me!” Hermione said, pulling herself from Malfoy’s grip. “And what do you mean “snapped”?”

Malfoy rolled his eyes and wiped off his hands on his robes as if his fingers were dirty. Hermione scowled at his gesture, that once again implied her uncleanness.

“Finnegan told Brown that he was going to Hogsmeade with you, Granger. Naturally, she told the whole school.”

“Well why hasn’t Blaise told me?” Hermione asked curiously. “He didn’t have to get all schizophrenic on me and scare me out of my wits.”

“Muggles aren’t kindly looked upon in our world,” Malfoy replied, referring to the bigoted Pureblood aristocracy run by Voldemort. “I don’t know why he likes you anyway. You’re just a filthy, little-”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “When are you going to stop using Daddy’s pathetic comebacks and come up with your own, Malfoy?” she interrupted.

“As soon as he starts making them for me,” the blonde sneered. “Believe me mudblood, my retorts are all my own.”

She decided to ignored the last bit of his sentence and continued. “And since you think that muggles are so vile, you decided to join the Order? Are you too dense to realize that that doesn’t make any sense?”

The two finally reached the portrait of the silver haired knight with stunning blue eyes and he stopped before they entered.

“I’m not doing it to save your kind, Granger,” Malfoy said. All of the sudden he seemed rather tired, as if the excuse he had come with wasn’t working for him anymore. “Not everyone who joins the Order is a fool looking to be saved in the act of helping human kind.”

Hermione searched his stormy eyes with her own, a small part of her hoping that what he was saying was a tired excuse. Because if it was, there was still a small hope of salvation for him. For him to prove her wrong, that people do change in the bouts of war. And just this once, she hoped that the opinions that she had made about Malfoy were untrue or misunderstood, because for once, she wanted to be wrong. She needed to believe that there was some good worth saving in everyone.

He paused, looking down at her and nothing but exhaustion was apparent in his gaze.

“They do it for their own good, as I am. I have no desire to follow some half blooded lunatic all of my life and risk my fortune and everything that I have. I hold no use to Voldemort and once he realizes that, he’s going to kill me.”

His voice seemed to grow angrier at her ignorance of his situation, that she dared to think that there was anything worth saving in him. He didn’t need her hope or her pity. He needed her hate, because that was all he knew, all that he’d been taught.

“Not everything is black and white, you stupid mudblood. Are you colorblind or do you just not notice those shades of gray?”



Hermione held her breath as they walked into the common room, hoping that Malfoy would keep his mouth shut and not mention her little snog fest with Blaise. It looked as though Harry and Ron were about to leave the common room, probably to go looking for her. They jumped up and glared at Malfoy as he sat down.

“It’s been over an hour,” Ron complained, his arms crossed over his chest.

“Well all of me is still intact, Ron” Hermione said, sitting down in her armchair. “If you were so worried, why did you send Malfoy to come get me?”

“We didn’t,” Harry answered, glaring at Malfoy. Hermione raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t flatter yourself Granger,” Malfoy spoke up from his position on the couch. “I went out to “visit” Parkinson.” Hermione rolled her eyes. “By the time I was leaving I ran into you. If I hadn’t come back, Weasel and Potter would’ve accused me of killing you or something stupid like that.”

“It’s Weasley,” Ron snarled, his ears turning red at the tips. “And who knows, Malfoy? You‘ve done so much shit, that no one can trust you.”

Malfoy smirked at him. “Like I would touch the mudblood filth anyway, Weasel. Why don’t you tell her you like her already? The other’s aren’t going to wait forever .”

Hermione’s cheeks began to turn scarlet and she attempted to stop them. “That’s enough Malfoy. And Ron, don’t-”

“What others?” Ron asked through gritted teeth, his fists clenching and unclenching.

“I don’t know Weasel. Zabini seems like a good start,” the blonde answered, as though he was in deep thought. “You know he’s been eying the mudblood for quite some time. From what I’ve heard, plenty more blokes-”

“Okay!” Hermione interrupted loudly, her fiery eyes swinging over the two young men. “You’ve really said enough Malfoy. Let’s just all calm down before something happens that we’ll regret.”

“Like what, Granger?” Malfoy sneered, standing up to his full height. He really was quite tall, a good three inches above Ron’s 6’1 frame. “Having your worthless boyfriend attack me? Because if it is, by all means, allow him so I can beat the shit out of him.”

“No, Malfoy,” Hermione seethed. “I have my wand. And that means that I can remove the only thing that makes you a good shag for all the disease carrying slags in school.”

All five of the men visibly paled at her threat and Harry protectively cupped his crotch. At this point, Meier stepped in from his seat in front of the fire.

“I suggest you all retire,” he said softly, although his voice held a tone of undisputable authority. “Your day of seclusion begins tomorrow and there is much to be done.”

Rustling of possessions being drawn together filled the room and Hermione stood up, snatching her bag now full with books from the floor. The three of them, Harry, Ron and Malfoy, had to share a room, although Dumbledore had to place a charm on it that allowed no physical damage to be done to the occupants by another. If one attempted it, they would fly back five feet.

After murmuring goodnight to her friends, and receiving no response from Ron, Hermione opened the door to her room next to the chessboard and threw her bag down. She slipped into the bed, fully clothed, too tired and exhausted to do anything about them. It was some time before she could sleep due to the yelling coming from the boy’s room, which was conveniently, next to hers.

Chapter 5: What's in a Name?
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What's in a Name?




We say that names mean nothing,
What we mean is that they have nothing to do with the person we are
Or the person we are meant to become.
They have nothing to do with our mind
Or our abilities.
But if we chose to,
we inadvertently follow a path that a name has bestowed upon us.
In all of it's meaningless, it holds great significance.
Whether we choose to acknowledge it's control
Or ignore it.
So what is in a name?
Only you can decide.
-M. E.



The next day was the first real day of seclusion. They were in a completely different wing of the school, one that had been blocked off and warded now that they were staying there.

The rooms were actually pretty large. The only way in was by the portrait which led to the common room. All of the bedrooms branched from the common room. To the left of the fireplace, there was a short hallway led to another corridor surrounded by large stained glass windows. On one end, the hall where they ate was, and on the opposite, was their library. For training, they merely used empty classrooms on the second floor. They could also walk across the grounds, disillusioned of course.

Night had fallen, after the day, during which the four of them caught up on their homework. Dinner had already been served and they were anxiously waiting for Ferro and Meier to come fetch them for a “new” subject that they were going to teach them about.

Hermione was sitting on the couch with a stack of books beside her, flipping through each tome with annoyance and then throwing it down.

She was trying to find stuff on the Vamperum. Since the day she had heard Ferro speak of it or them, Hermione had been enticed into an endless web that held no information whatsoever.

“I can’t find anything in these damn books!” Hermione said exasperatedly, dropping another book onto the carpeted floor.

Ron looked up at her with a frown. “Why are you just dropping them on the floor? You usually don’t treat books and things that way, ‘Mione. And did you just swear?”

She looked up sheepishly at him before bending over to fix the books into a neat stack. Glancing back at Ron, she saw him scowl at something behind her. She turned her head and noticed that Harry and Malfoy were staring at her arse.

Harry turned away with blush staining his cheeks and continued scribbling down answers on his five foot essay on the Draught of Living Death. Malfoy kept his eye fixated on her bottom for a moment, before raising them to her flushed face and smirking.

“Nice, Granger.”

In a flash, Hermione had the tip of her wand pointed at him and she muttered something under her breath. A second later, Malfoy’s chair collapsed, his pants caught fire, and two rather large and angry boils had broken out on his forehead.

As he tried to beat the flames down, Hermione turned back to Ron. “I’m not in my right mind, anyway. And I called you a clumsy ass, the other day. I do swear.”

“No you don’t,” Ron said simply.

“I only do it when I see the need to, Ron,” Hermione sniffed, sitting back down and crossing her legs. “I just don’t go and throw out words whenever I feel like it, just because it sounds good coming out of my mouth.”

“Really Granger?” Malfoy called out angrily from behind her, the fire out from his pants. “Then why doesn’t that explain why you like to listen to yourself talk so fucking much?”

Hermione scowled blackly at him, although she chose to ignore him. She picked up another book and proceeded to continue her attempts about finding something on the Vamperum.

A couple of moments later, the giggling portrait swung open to reveal Meier and a rather disheveled Ferro behind him. In one long stride, Meier stepped inside the common room.

“Get up,” he said, his voice harsher than it had been last night. “You’re coming with us.”



The four of them were seated in desks in an empty classroom, this time on the fourth floor. The two faeries sat in front of them, Ferro leaning his lean body against the wood and Meier in the chair, with his feet propped up on the desk.

“Does anyone here know anything about our world?” Meier asked. “And when I say our, I mean the world of faeries.”

Hermione raised her hand cautiously and Harry and Ron looked over at her with surprise.

“Did you really expect me to go into the mission without knowing what I was getting into?” she hissed at them, before turning her eyes back to Meier.

“Ms. Granger?” Meier asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Not much is known about the origin of faeries…there’re myths about how they came to be. One is that they’re fallen angels, separated into groups of dark and light. Another is that they’re the maggots that began to eat away at the body of the giant, Vladimir, in Norse mythology.”

“The term ‘faerie’ encompasses a large variety of species and races, such as Cornish Pixies and Doxys. But you…” Hermione looked tentatively at Meier and Ferro, both beautiful in their own right. “…you are the Fay or the elves. The most human likes species of faerie.”

“Correct,” Ferro said. “We will continue from there.”

There was a breath of silence and it was so normal in the celestial like atmosphere they were in, that it seemed abnormal. Hermione steeled herself to take in misinformation, rather upset that she’d forgotten to bring a quill and some parchment.

In a cool, alluring and steady voice that they didn’t hear too often, Ferro began to speak.

“Elves are by far the most intelligent and human like species of faerie. We have a society, as you do, with laws and such. In the older days, the world of faeries were separated. There were two courts, alike and different in so many way. Elves ruled the courts, considering that our magic is stronger and more advanced than the other species”

There was the light or the blessed court, basking in the growth of the world and promoting peace, although there were rather malicious, ulterior motives to the light court’s actions. Queen Mab was and still is the queen. The elves that belonged to that court had lighter colored hair and rather light eyes. As you can see, Meier would belong to the blessed court. Water and wood nymphs and pixies were usually found in this court. They dabbled in lighter arts and conversed with mortals regularly.

The opposite was the unblessed court, the kingdom of dark. These faeries usually had trolls and ogres in their ranks, along with the darker species of faeries, including redcaps and pogrebins. The ones belonging to the dark courts used to hunt humans for fun, or other smaller faeries, depending on the area they were in. These are the ones who create mushroom rings and entice mortals into games of wits and riddles with the consequence of losing life. The elves belonging to this court had darker hair and almost translucent eyes. I would’ve been a part of the unblessed court.

“Almost four hundred years ago, The Queens of the two courts decided to unite, considering the number of faeries being killed by their own kind, not to mention that the two rulers were sisters. The Queen of the Unblessed Court, Isle, was killed, although no one is quite sure of who murdered her. Queen Mab then became the ruler of both courts.

“We have been joined since, and the elves of dark and light of mixed, creating hybrids of faerie, stronger than those before considering that we have natural power from both sides. Our grandparents were from the dark and light courts…

“I believe that they met Shakespeare in a little tavern in England and suggested some modifications to his some of his plays. Their names were Oberon and Titania, and I also believe that they appear in another of his works as the king and queen of elves. ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’, is it called?”

“Yes,” Hermione breathed, in awe of the fact that the faerie standing before her was the offspring of those who inspired Shakespeare.

“Can I ask you a question?” Meier queried from behind the desk, his amber eyes boring into her own.

“What is it?” Hermione asked softly.

“Who are you named after, Hermione?” He spoke her name as if it were a prayer on his lips…it made her shiver.

“A distant relative,” Hermione said, repeating her mother’s words. “But my grandmother was also aiming for Shakespeare when she suggested my name.”

“Well that’s quite a coincidence,” the silver haired faerie said, his lips curling into a smirk as if he knew it wasn’t a coincidence at all. “Our grandparents used to tell us of a remarkable, magical mortal that they knew, who had your name. Supposedly, she met Shakespeare in 1609. They described her and remarkably, you resemble her.”

“Didn’t Aladinia tell us something about transferring their magic to her?” Meier continued, looking at Ferro. He then turned his eyes back on her. “We can do that, you know.”

Ferro was looking at her strangely. “I believe she did.”

There was once again silence and she could feel the other’s eyes on her, as if asking for some type of explanation. Hermione’s cheeks flushed with embarrassment

“It’s only a name,” she said, her voice more shaky than she would’ve wished it to be. Her was heart racing more than a human heart should’ve. “What’s in a name?”

Meier looked at her, his eyes grim and his smirk gone. “Everything,” he answered evenly.



"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet. "
-William Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet”





Chapter 6: Truth
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Truth


“…When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle




Once again, the time they spent in seclusion flew by. They had all finished the wagon full of make up work that they had to do. Snape had given them extra, the snarky bastard, to take advantage of the situation. Ferro and Meier came to them, the day before they would leave for Diagon Alley. All four of them were in the common room, exhausted and hot from training with Shacklebolt and Tonks. Malfoy had his long limbs thrown across the couch and Ron was laying on the floor. Harry was leaning against Hermione’s legs, as she sat in a poufy armchair.

Sunlight streamed into the room, throwing patterns of colors from the glass across the floor. Hermione stared at the hues for a moment, transfixed, before she felt her eyes start to close. As soon as she was about to drift off into a blissful sleep, the two faeries came in.

They looked grim, as if they just came to a disturbing conclusion. She wondered if it had something to do with her and what they were talking about yesterday.

“We’ll be evaluating each of you separately to see if you truly are ready,” announced Meier, his eyes sweeping over the four teen’s sore and sweaty bodies.

“You’re first, Ms. Granger,” Ferro said, his voice callous. Hermione tensed.

“Bring your wand,” Meier said to her, a cruel smile curving the ends of his lips. “You’re going to need it.”

Harry and Ron looked at her worriedly. The green eyed wizard moved away from her as she pushed herself up from the couch to a standing position.

“Gladly,” Hermione answered.

She followed them into the hallway.

And the funny thing, is even though it was day outside, the only thing that she could see was darkness.


The two faeries led her to a room, which she presumed to be on the fifth floor, for her “training”.

Hermione wrinkled her nose slightly as they entered the room. A sheet covered the grimy glass window, which allowed slivers of light to slither into the room, throwing distorted shadows on the cobblestone floor. There was a crooked old teacher’s desk at the far end, with a cracked black board resting behind it. There were no desks, just an empty expanse of filthy floor that seemed to taunt her.

Meier waved his hand and all of the dust that had accumulated over every surface was gone. The room was still dark and shadowy. He went around the desk and sat on it, his long legs reaching the floor. Ferro stood beside him, his back resting on the corner of the wood.

“Sit,” Meier commanded, motioning for her to settle with a flick of his wrist.

“I would if I had something to sit on,” Hermione bit back, her eyes flashing with annoyance at the silver haired faerie.

“Glance behind you and then sit down,” Meier added in a voice that suggested that he was talking to a small child. “Please,” he added with a small grin.

She looked behind her and with embarrassment, realized that the reason for his hand motion was to conjure a chair for her. Her cheeks flushing with embarrassment, Hermione sat down in the chair. It was hard and had a straight backing to it, making her sit straight, although all she wanted to do was slouch and close her eyes.

“Wandless magic?” she questioned, raising an eyebrow at Meier.

He nodded. “Exactly. What do you know of it, Ms. Granger?”

“That it takes some time to learn. That some never do pick up on it.”

“How long do you think it took me to learn how to do wandless magic?” Meier queried, his indigo eyes sweeping over her.

“A couple of months maybe?” Hermione tried, grimacing when he shook his head.

“Try a few moments,” Ferro spoke up from his spot. His intense gaze was on her, making her shift uneasily. “For all of the elves”

“Well do you even need wands?” Hermione asked. “There’s no transition from magic to wandless magic for wizards and witches, without having a wand first.”

Meier scowled. “We can use them, but those fooled, wooden contraptions make our magic duller. Less accurate.”

“Well your magic is different,” Hermione told him, her voice going into lecture mode. “It’s older, so of course more modern methods may not be compatible with yours. It is, however, with ours.”

“Oh, contraire,” Ferro said softly. “You are an exception. We think that you may have our magic in you.”

“I’m of muggle parentage,” Hermione said as if he was stupid. “I don’t have any wizarding blood in me, and definitely not faerie blood.”

“We think you do,” Meier told her. “The human we spoke of, Hermione, is indeed a relative of yours. She had much elvish magic in her. She passed it to you.”

“Either that, or you’re her reincarnation,” Ferro added, smiling at her shocked expression. “It could be likely.”

“What do you mean ‘relative’?” Hermione asked Meier, ignoring Ferro’s comment. “Shouldn’t it be ancestor?”

“Yes, it would be more polite if she were dead. But she’s not.”

Hermione’s eyes widened with shock and she decided that she was going to listen to what they have to say.

“Our grandparents transferred their magic to her,” continued Ferro, his voice silky. “This forms a bond. We think that this is why we’re so drawn to you, so intent on protecting you. We’re connected, Ms. Granger, no matter how you try to deny it.”

Meier stretched, leaning back in the rickety chair and then stood. “This is why we think that you’ll be able to master wandless magic as quickly as we do Your magic is too powerful to only be conducted through that piece of wood.”

Hermione gasped as Ferro began to murmur in her ear, his breath on her skin sending shivers down her spine. She hadn’t even seen him make his way over to her.

“Can you feel it Hermione?” he said huskily, his slim arm reaching down, intertwining his fingers with hers. She gasped as she felt something that felt like a small electrical shock shoot up her hand. “Feel it and use it.”

“I feel it,” Hermione replied softly, marveling at the feeling that had now spread to her hands. It felt as if her hand had fallen asleep and that strange buzzing feeling happened, as if it was waking up again. She hold her hands in front of her, pulling them apart to cup something that wasn’t there. She looked at the empty space between her palms and could’ve sworn that she saw a shimmer of light, like the sun on a fish’s scales.

“Are you concentrating?” Ferro asked, folding his arms over his chest. “Concentrate and form the spell that you want in your mind.”

Hermione complied and trained her eyes on Meier, who was to be her guinea pig today. “I’m concentrating.”

“Now say it.”

Hermione hesitated a moment, but slowly spoke the word. “Imperio.”

Meier immediately stiffened and looked as if he was ready to do anything she commanded. His eyes, though, were angry but shocked.

Ferro smiled from beside her, looking at the witch next to him with amazement. “Yes,” he commended breathlessly. “Now make him kneel.”

Hermione turned her eyes from the praising faerie beside her and once more, focused her attention on the silver haired man standing before her. She brought her hand down slightly, her fingers dropping to point to the damp, stone floor. As soon as she did so, Meier’s body buckled, as if he was fighting against a great force. None the less, his knees bent and he kneeled on the floor, his hair shadowing his face.

With a dismissive flick of her wrist, Hermione released the spell she had over Meier. His torso shagged with relief and his hand clutched onto the end of the desk so he could pull himself back up.

“You’re strong,” he told her hoarsely, his violet eyes gazing at her. A muscle in his hand seized up and he had to stretch it a few times to get it to relax. “I may’ve been able to resist it, but I doubt it. That was stronger than any spell that’s ever been cast on me.”

Ferro frowned as if he was thinking. “Maybe it has to do with the combination of her magic,” he suggested. His eyes widened as if he had realized something. “Why I think we’ve just created something revolutionary.”

“What?” Meier asked, a confused look on his face. “The mixing of two different forms of magic has never…” he trailed of as he understood what Ferro was saying.

“A new hybrid,” the black haired faerie finished. “A fusion of fey and wizarding magic.”

Hermione bit her bottom lip from lashing out at him for referring to her as a “creation”.

Ferro looked at her with a small smile on his handsome face. “Why, Hermione, I do believe that you’re the start of a new race of being.”




Hermione decided to ignore Meier and Ferro’s declaration of her giving birth to a new species and just go about her life as if she hadn’t heard a word they had said. It was better for her if things didn’t get anymore complicated.

She woke up the next morning to find herself in the common room, stretched out in the armchair. She looked around and realized the four of them must’ve fallen asleep in the common room while finishing up the little bit of work they had left. Ron was on the floor, sitting up, his head resting on one of her dangling legs. Harry was sprawled out on the floor, a Transfiguration book strewn across his chest.

Malfoy was up, on the largest couch and Hermione looked up to see him watching her intently. As soon as their eyes met, he turned away and gazed at the fire. She stared at him, at the fire dancing on his pale hair, his lean body hunched over his legs that were stretched before him on the couch.

She had never seen him look more human than he looked at that moment. Or more beautiful. Hermione was so targeted on preserving this memory, that she didn’t notice when he spoke.

“We should leave soon.”

His cold voice snapped her out of her trance. “What?”

“We need to leave soon,” Malfoy repeated, standing up. “For our marking.”

“Our marking of what?” Hermione asked, confused. She didn’t remember anything about getting a marking.

She cautiously stood up and made to wake up Ron and Harry from their slumbering positions.

“Leave them,” Malfoy said icily, taking long strides towards the portrait. He murmured the password and the picture swung open. “They’re not getting it Granger. They have a different one than what we’re getting.”

“Well maybe I’d know what you were talking about if you’d tell me what the marking was for, Malfoy,” Hermione snapped at him, walking through the portrait. The tall blonde followed her.

“Protection.”



“The Thilene,” Ferro said to them, pointing to the intricate design he had drawn up on the blackboard behind him. “Every elf of the two courts has one. It provides protection, burning when those who are connected are in danger.”

Hermione’s brows furrowed. “Like the Dark Mark, but his is for summoning.”

“Again, another idea that fool has stolen from us,” Meier said, scowling at the mention of Voldemort. “He attempts to recruit us and use our magic, also.”

Ferro cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention back on him. “The thilene is different according to your rankings,” he continued. “Such as a knight, which is what Meier and I are, or just a common citizen. You two will be known as knights. It’s the only way we’ll be connected.”

The thilene was indeed a work of art upon itself, the calligraphic lines forming a diamond and then forming an intricate pattern inwards. In the middle, although it was hard to see, was the rune , Uruz, standing for courage, strength, tenacity, and action.

“Those of the Dark court who still have their knight ship have a thilene in black ink. Ours is in blue however, because we‘re tied to both sides.” Ferro explained. “But those who have Uruz inverted or reversed are dangerous. They represent brutality and lust. These are the faeries that lure young women with their good looks and charming manners and kill them when dawn has come.”

Hermione involuntarily shivered, thinking back to the body of a woman found inside a ring of mushrooms in the forests near her town. A voice interrupted her thoughts and she looked up to see who was talking.

“You’re ready for the marking now,” Meier said. He was leaning over her, his violet eyes boring into her own. “It’ll have to go around your bellybutton, Ms. Granger. It’s more discreet than your arm.”

She glanced back at Malfoy and Ferro who were watching her. She stood up and turned so she was facing opposite of the other two gazes.

“You need to turn around,” Meier said to her, a smirk playing on his lips. He was obviously enjoying her embarrassment. “Those you’re connected with need to witness your marking. Almost like those muggle procedures you call a wedding.”

Biting her lip with embarrassment, Hermione spun back around angrily to face her “audience”. She grasped the hem of her shirt and pulled it up a little past her bellybutton, exposing some of the smooth skin of her stomach.

Hermione squirmed as Meier approached her with outstretched fingers. “You’re beautiful,” he breathed, as his hand landed on her skin.

She had to actually refrain from crying out as Meier touched her. His touch was so cold, it was scalding. She could feel his fingers trace the path of the thilene on her ivory skin. She gritted her teeth and blinked back the heavy tears that threatened to fall from her eyes. After a moment, he pulled away hesitantly, admiring his work on her stomach.

“Perfect,” Meier purred in a low voice, one that sent shivers up her spine. His stunning eyes met her tearing gaze. “Learn to love it, Hermione. It’ll be there till the day you die.”

Her eyes widened at the use of her first name. Once she comprehended what he was saying she narrowed her eyes at him.

“I don’t need it after this mission,” she stated slowly, lowering her shirt. “I don’t need your protection after this.”

Meier raised an eyebrow, still crouching so that his head was level with her stomach. “Oh, but you may, Hermione. You’re not just human anymore. You never were.”

Hermione jerked back angrily from him, her amber eyes flashing with fury.

“I’m not a start of a new race!” she snapped at him, moving so that she had a clear path to the door. “Not only is that a ridiculous notion, it’s also impossible! My parent’s are muggles, and they’re dentists!” She declared it as if their boring practice was more proof that they weren’t magical. “So unless you give me hard proof, I’m not going to listen to you spouting ideas of me being not human!”

“You’ll get your proof,” Meier told her, his voice sharp and condescending. “And you’d do well to remember who we are. Lying to you is in no way a benefit to us.” He paused, his eyes washing over her like a wave. “We’re connected now. We ask you to wait for Mr. Malfoy and then you can return to your room. Tonight, you leave.”

Hermione crossed her arms over her chest and huffed her way over to where Malfoy sat, looking down at him expectantly. He stood languidly and walked over to the waiting faerie.

“You’ll need to lift your shirt, Mr. Malfoy,” Meier said coldly, his eyes shifting over to a angry Hermione. “Again, it is more discreet.”

The blonde hesitated and then took his shirt over his head and pulled it up so his chest was bared. Hermione bit her lip to keep from gasping at the sight of his body.

He was lean and had the same tall, lithe build that his father possessed. His skin was pale, like the rest of him, and flawless, save a scar that ran along half of his hipbone. His chest was well defined, with compact muscles shifting beneath his skin and ( Hermione swallowed at this) six, distinct abs. He looked as though he was carved from marble, like statues that the Greeks and the Romans made of their handsome Gods. Malfoy would’ve definitely been a commodity if he had existed then.

Meier kneeled once again and ghosted his fingers along Malfoy’s skin, as he had done to her. She could see that the faerie was murmuring something silent, now that she studied him. Malfoy’s jaw clenched as if he were in some sort of mild pain. His head was bowed, his silvery hair covering his face.

Through his bangs, Malfoy’s stormy eyes met hers.

And for the second time that day, she was so entranced with the site of Draco Malfoy being so beautiful, so human, that she couldn’t bare to tear her gaze from his.



Hermione left as quickly as she could to avoid Malfoy at all costs. There was a chance that she wouldn’t look at him the same way for some time after seeing what she had.

Until he said something disgustingly insulting, that is. Because at that point, his handsome face would melt away and the uglier side of Malfoy would be apparent. And all feelings of seeing something so flawless would flee because she really knew what a monster he was.

Yes… she would wait for him to say something hurtful.

She entered the common room, with Malfoy barely four steps behind her. Her two best friends looked up at her arrival and smiled.

“How does it look?” Ron asked from the floor where he was playing Exploding Snaps with Harry.

“How does what look?” Hermione asked innocently, dropping herself onto the couch. She hefted her legs up, which felt like dead weights at this point from so much training and lack of sleep, and laid full length. She sighed as the softness cushioned her.

“Your marking,” Harry finished for Ron. He yelled as a rather loud explosion went off and leprechaun hats began to dance around his head, before settling onto his hair like a wreath. Hermione and Ron laughed at Harry, who was scowling. Malfoy was smirking.

“I don’t feel like playing anymore,” Harry said, dismissing the game as he stood up. He swiped at the hats on his head and they disappeared with a slight pop and a flash of light.

“You’re such a bad sport,” Ron said, grinning.

“The stupid things aren’t supposed to do things like that,” Harry protested. “Besides, I lose to you at chess all the time.”

Ron shrugged, gathered up the little scraps of paper and looked at Hermione. “Well?” he asked.

Hermione’s eyes met Malfoy’s for a moment, with a question. Should she tell them? He gave her a slight nod and turned away, sitting in the armchair across from her.

“It looks fine,” Hermione said. “Like the one Meier has on his arm.”

“Can we see it?” Harry asked in a keen voice.

“No!” Hermione said, a little loudly. The two looked taken aback at her outburst. “No…It’s erm…it’s on my stomach.” She noticed how both their eyes lit up, although their faces remained calm. The sneaky little buggers.

“We’ve seen you in a bathing suit,” Ron said. “We’re not asking you to strip.”

Hermione raised an eyebrow.

“Weasel, you know she’s a prude,” Malfoy spoke up from his place by the fire. “If she hasn’t let anyone in her pants yet, what makes you think she’s going to give you a peek?”

Ah…there was the insult she needed.

Ron leaped up, ready to attack Malfoy, but fortunately, Harry caught his arm and forced him to sit back down. Hermione decided that she didn’t feel like doing anything with her wand, so she chose an alternative method.

She yanked off one of her shoes, weighed it in her hand for a moment, before hefting it and throwing it so that it would hit Malfoy rather hard in his face.

The rubber bottom of her trainer caught his forehead and part of his nose before bouncing off and landing in the fire. Hermione groaned as it began to melt, giving off a pungent, plasticy odor.

After a moment of disbelief, Harry and Ron burst into peals of laughter, their eyes watering with the force of it. Malfoy cursed and held a hand to his swelling head and red nose. His angry eyes landed on the grinning witch.

“You filthy wench,” he growled at her, grabbing his wand. Hermione’s hand immediately went to hers, although she relaxed once she realized that he was just healing himself.

“You deserved it,” she shot back at him triumphantly. “You little piece of sh-”

At that moment, the portrait swung open to reveal Dumbledore, dressed in midnight blue robes etched with twinkling bundles of silver. His blue eyes, as always, were twinkling.

“What were you saying Ms. Granger?” Snape inquired from behind the Headmaster, a creepy grin on his pale face.

Hermione’s cheeks reddened. “I was just…er… complimenting on the pinkness on Malfoy’s forehead. It makes him look less dead.”

Harry sputtered on his spittle from behind her. Malfoy’s eyes got larger at her insult and then narrowed.

“I see,” Dumbledore said, smiling. “I’m glad to see that you four are getting along.” He ignored the coughs of disbelief and continued. “ You leave tonight so I came to remind you. The meeting that I scheduled for us earlier is canceled. Other members cannot come today.”

“So what do we do until tonight?” Harry asked.

“Whatever you feel is necessary to prepare you from what’s ahead,” the Headmaster answered. “Meet at the main doors at eight tonight. Dinner will be going on so the halls should be vacant. You may want to catch your last glimpses of Hogwarts for the next couple of weeks un-illusioned.”

Giving encouragement through his wizened eyes, he swept out of the common room, the Potions Master in his wake.

Hermione took a shaky breath, trying to calm her rattling nerves. Her eyes met Harry’s changed blue eyes, which held fear. Hermione was surprised with Harry and herself, for the both of them didn’t feel nearly as much fear as they should’ve.


“Truth is more of a stranger than fiction.”
-Mark Twain


Chapter 7: Leaving Hogwarts
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Leaving Hogwarts



The staircase was empty when the four of them reached it. They could hear the laughter and talking that filled the Great Hall and they were careful to slip past the large open doors without being seen. Hermione gently eased her trunk full of books and clothes down the last few steps but turned around when she heard a loud thunking sound from behind her.

It was Ron who was struggling to bring his trunk down the stairs. He was pulling on the handle so hard, it seemed as if he would yank it straight from the wood.

“You’re being daft,” Hermione hissed at him. “Use your wand, Ron!”

He smiled sheepishly at her and took out his wand. “Right,” he said. “Locomoter Trunk.”

She rolled her eyes and resumed walking down the steps. Hermione stopped abruptly when she saw that it was only Meier and Ferro standing by the doors, waiting for them. She walked up to them, scowling.

“I thought a member or a professor would see us off,” she murmured irately.

“A professor missing from a meal would be noticed,” Meier said to her. “Besides, you’ll be fine without one. You have us.”

Hermione raised an eyebrow. “That’s supposed to make me feel better?”

He scowled at her.

“We don’t have much time,” Ferro interrupted, motioning towards the Great Hall. The voices were growing closer and they knew that the other students had been dismissed. “We need to leave now.”

With a wave of his hand, one of the mammoth doors that was the entrance to Hogwarts opened slightly, just enough space for them to get through with their trunks. Quietly, the six of them slipped through and into the unusually warm night.

As they walked to where the Knight Bus would meet them, a little past where the train stop was, Hermione looked around. The Great Lake glistened like a black jewel and ripples disturbed the placid surface as the squid raised one of it’s tentacles to wave goodbye. With a small smile, Hermione waved back.

After a few moments of quiet walking, they reached the road that led to Hogsmeade. Meier held out a silvery colored wand which glowed in the dark air. The loud bang ,which sounded like a gun being shoot echoed into the still night, signaled the appearance of the Knight Bus, which came rolling to an alarmingly close halt right in front of them. The purple of the outside of the bus seemed to lighten the mood for Harry and Ron, because they both smiled. Hermione found it contagious and grinned too.

The metal steps sprang from the bus and Stan jumped off, dressed in his purple uniform. He held his card which he was too read from to greet the guests.

“Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand hand, step on board and we can take you anywhere you want to go. My name is Stan Shunpike and I will be your conductor this evening.”

“Thank you,” Meier said, a little gruffly although he shot the conductor a smile. “We need six beds, preferably next to each other.”

“Sixty-six Sickles,” Stan determined after a moment, turning the handle on his receipt machine “Where choo going?” he asked, looking at the six of them with anticipation.

They stood there, wondering what to say when Stan broke the silence, once again,

“Well come on,” he ushered, moving out the way to give them a clear way onto the bus. “We needs to be goin’ some places tonight, eh Ern?”

The elderly bus driver, who had on thick spectacles, smiled, revealing missing teeth, and nodded.

Meier walked up to Stan, digging in his pockets and producing a bag that jingled. “Keep the change,” he said.

Stan grinned and looked at the rest. “Where choo goin’, tonight?”

“Diagon Alley,” Harry spoke up. “School project.”

The conductor’s face grew grave. “Yes, a little bumblebee ‘as told me an’ Ern about choo’s. Get up on.”

The five of them made to bring their trunks but Stan stopped them. “Leave ’em. I’ll be gettin’ those.”

Ferro made his way on first, followed by Hermione. Stan stared at her for a moment before smiling.

“If you need any thin’, any thin’ at all, just tell me,” he said, leaning towards Hermione with a slight leer on his face. She shrank away with mild disgust that the pimply conductor was hitting on her.

“She’s taken,” someone said from behind her, and when he turned around, she was surprised to see that it was Malfoy. He possessively pushed at the small of her back with his hand and she obediently climbed onto the bus.

Hermione had never ridden the Knight Bus and she was stunned to see that was looked like a regular double Decker bus on the outside, resembled nothing that was on the inside. From what Harry last told her, it was just a bus with beds. It seemed as though they had gotten upgrades.

In the middle of the bus was a small fountain and the width of the floor was definitely larger than what was represented on the outside. Numerous beds lined the walls, clad with blue and white striped flannel sheets. A spiraling staircase at the far end of the bus led to the upper floor.

Hermione inwardly groaned as she made her way to the staircase when she saw that nearly every bed was full…and there were at least fifty beds on the bottom floor alone.
She followed Meier to the upper floor.

The silver haired faerie led her to a pole surrounded by seven beds. There were around ten passengers up here. When they were settling down, one of them awoke and made his way over to Stan, who was handing them their receipt.

“I got another stone Stan,” the wizened man told the conductor, opening his wrinkled hand. “I’m thinkin’ that Martha may like this one.”

Hermione glanced at the stone in the man’s palm. It was small, about the width of her thumb nail, but beautiful. It looked smooth and had many colors, like the underside of a seashell, although the predominant color in this one was a deep blue. It shone in the dim light. One side looked raged, as if the stone had broken away from something else.

“Nice, Gill,” Stan said, as if it was anything but. “But choo need to be sleepin’. Choo need rest for tomorrow.”

The older man nodded and padded back to his bed, slipping under the covers.

“He’s on his way to a wizardin’ nursin’ home in dat Spain area,” Stan whispered to her, nodding towards Gill. “His wife is there too. He been on here for a day and a half now.”

Ferro met Hermione’s gaze and looked over at Gill inquiringly.

“Well, shall I be’s wakin’ choo or do you want a shock?” Stan asked, pausing before he made his way back down the steps.

“Shock,” Hermione said quickly, turned off at the thought of Stan leering over her in her sleep and having to shake her awake. “Thank you.”

The conductor nodded and his purple hat disappeared from their sight.

Hermione dropped onto the bed, enjoying the softness of the mattress against her aching body. They had at least five hours of sleep. She knew Dumbledore well enough to know that he would let the Knight Bus take them other places first, to shake off any possible trail that may’ve been connected with them.

She felt Ron and Harry settle on either side of her and soon, after someone had laid cool fingers against her cheek, Hermione fell asleep to the now gentle rocking off the bus.


A sharp and rather painful shock shot up her fingers and into her arm . Hermione yelped and sat straight up. She calmed when she realized that it was just the signal for her to wake up. The others were already awake and either sitting at their beds or resting their eyes once more.

“Glad to see that you’re up,” Ron said to her. “You slept later than the rest of us, right through the first couple of shocks.”

She grinned back at him, and ran a hand through her hair, wincing when her fingers met the tangles in her wavy locks. Conjuring a brush with a flick of her wand, Hermione began to untangle her hair rather roughly.

“Did one of you touch my face last night ?” she asked, brushing more easily now that she had gotten through the worst of the knots.

“No,” Ron answered, a perplexed look on his face. He turned to Harry, who was digging through his trunk for some gold. “Did you?”

Harry shook his head.

“Strange,” Hermione murmured, pushing her hair behind her ears. “I could’ve sworn that someone touched my cheek last night…” She shivered when she remembered Stan. “I hope it wasn’t the conductor,” she added, getting up from the bed.

Ron scowled as Harry gave her a toothy grin. “I don’t think Stan is that demented,” he told her. “He’s just pervy.”

Hermione nodded and turned to look out the window, staring at the landscape that was blurred by the bus’s high speed. Realizing that it was still relatively dark out side, Hermione turned her wrist to glance at her watch. It read 1:30 in neon letters. They had only gotten five and a half hours of sleep. Hopefully, wherever they were going next, they’d get more of it.

She was slinging her backpack over her shoulders when the bus came to an abrupt and hard stop, sending her flying into Ferro, who was bending over to tie his shoe. He caught her and she looked up at him sheepishly, giving him an awkward smile. He grinned back handsomely at her.

“The Leaky Cauldron, London,” Stan’s cracked voice announced over the magic speakers.

They hurried down the steps, and giving their last regards and thanks to Stan and Ernie, the six got off of the Knight Bus.

The cool night air hit Hermione’s face with a sickening jolt and she realized how hot it had really been on the bus. Ron, who was behind her, tripped over his own foot and fell into her, knocking her into the back of Meier. The faerie turned around and scowled at her.

“Thanks for causing me a concussion, Ron,” Hermione said sarcastically, rubbing her elbow from where she had fallen into the metal frame of the bus.

“Sorry,” Ron mumbled, helping her to stand straight again.

She sighed and nodded, following Meier and Ferro into the Leaky Cauldron.

It was dank and damp in the inn, as it always was at night. It was fairly full, considering that it was the middle of the night, and the innkeeper, Tom, was still at the counter, wiping out mugs with a worn and stained rag.

“Do you need rooms?” he asked, showing his missing teeth when he smiled at them.

Hermione looked up at Meier and realized that he had somehow changed his appearance. He had gray hair, but not the color that matched him beautifully. He was balding, with glasses and shabby robes. Ferro seemed the same age as he normally was but looked a lot less inhuman. He had long, lank brown hair, with brown eyes. He had a rather large nose, reminiscent of Snape’s.

“No thank you,” Meier answered in an unusually deep voice, flowing with an accent that he hadn‘t possessed before. “We’re from Brazil. We just need to get through to get supplies.”

“Oh,” Tom said, his smile falling a little. “These your students?” He nodded towards the other five in the group.

“Yes,” Meier answered. His voice was friendly although his eyes were narrowed. “They’re parents are researchers in Brazil, so they attend school there. I’m afraid that they don’t speak much English; mainly Portuguese.”

“That’s nice,” the bartender said, his toothy smile returning. “We get many magic folk from all around the world so maybe you’ll see some from Brazil. Well go on through to Diagon Alley. I hope that you find London welcoming.”

The faerie nodded and motioned them forward towards the door at the back of the pub. Hermione walked past, willing herself to keep her eyes in front of her. Strange things came to the Leaky Cauldron at night. She could smell the rancid meat and alcohol in the air, so pungent that she could almost taste it on her tongue. She breathed a sigh of relief when Meier held the door open for her.

The back was filled with trashcans, now overflowing with garbage that gave off a terrible odor. Hermione groaned with disgust, as did Harry, Ron and Malfoy when they entered after her. She held her hand over her nose and waited for one of them to open up the doorway to Diagon Alley.

Ferro pushed past them and tapped out the sequence of bricks with the tip of his silver wand. Eventually, the wall shifted and turned to create the archway that led into the alley. Once again, it was unusually crowded. Witches and wizards were flocking all over the place, talking loudly and drinking. Hermione turned to Ferro, who grinned at her.

“Why do you think we chose this night?” he asked. “There’s some sort of Quidditch thing going on. Almost every adolescent in the wizarding world is here tonight.”

She smiled faintly at Dumbledore’s carefully laid out plans and shuffled forward through surging crowds, trying to levitate her trunk behind her. She couldn’t see a thing but the brightly clothed people all around her and Ferro’s back in front of her. Hermione stopped in her tracks when Meier stopped in front of a store, the sign illuminated by the dim streetlamp on the sidewalk.

Weasley’s Wizard’s Wheezes, it read.

And outside stood two, identical redheads, both wearing the same grin of mischief.

Chapter 8: Trepidation
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Trepidation


“Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears
Men reckon what it did and meant
But trepidation of the spheres
Though greater far, is innocent”

-John Donne, “A Valediction of Forbidding Mourning“


The twin’s swept her up in a bone crushing hug when she approached them, surrounding her on both sides.

“We missed you Hermione,” they both said in unison, stepping back to look at her.

“You saw her over the summer,” Ron pointed out, scowling at his older brothers. “And all you did was talk about her che-”

Fred elbowed Ron in the ribs as Hermione looked at the twins with narrowed eyes.

“My what?” she questioned, her voice starting to rise.

“Hermione, dear,” Fred began, motioning for her to go into the store.

“We were just discussing-”

“-your womanly attributes.”

“What?” Hermione shrieked, folding her arms over her chest. “You were talking about me? That’s disgusting!”

“Oh please,” Ron put in, rolling his eyes. “They couldn’t stop talking about how much you’ve “grown up”, Hermione. All they did at dinner was stare at your chest or bum, when you got up.”

Her cheeks began to turn red with embarrassment. “I should hex both of you, but you’re lucky that I’m exhausted.”

They both grinned at her.

“Take it as a compliment,” one of the them said, although she couldn’t tell who was who now. “We think you’re pretty. Ron, here, does too.”

Ron blushed to the roots of his hair and he punched his brother on his arm.

“May we go in?” Meier asked, his eyebrow raised. His appearance was back to normal and his hair seemed to shift in the moonlight.

“Sure, old chap,” one of the twins. “Anyone who’s with the bee is with us.”

They began to walk in, but one of the twin’s stuck out his arm when Malfoy approached the doorway, blocking his way in.

“Except for you, you little cockroach. You sleep outside.”

Malfoy narrowed his gray eyes at the twins. “As much as it would be an improvement from the hovel that you live in, I was ordered to stay with the group.”

He pushed his way past the two brothers, scowling blackly.

The inside of the store was vibrant, with reds and ambers and golds that went together magnificently. There were shelves and shelves of their products and even books on how to be a prankster and jokes to say. Small, round, wooden tables were set out across the store for eating and reading purposes. There was a small animal shop in the far corner of the store, and the birds that they had were screeching loudly. Hermione looked at them, grimacing, before turning to the twins, who were locking up the doors.

“You’ll silence them before we go to bed, right?” she asked, motioning towards the birds.

“No,” Fred answered. He had pulled on his sweatshirt that had a large “F” on it. “The bottom part of the store has a silencing spell on it. You can’t hear any noise in the rooms upstairs, unless it’s an attack of some sort. Then the alarm will go off.”

“Good,” Hermione said, sighing softly and rubbing her temples with the tips of her fingers. “Well can you show me to my room? I need some more sleep.”

“You do,” Malfoy spoke up, from where he was sitting at one of the tables with a sneer on his face. His long hair was up in a ponytail and he had bags under his eyes. “ You look like a corpse.”

Hermione scowled. “Well at least I’m not like you and look like I’m dead all of the time.”

“Ouch,” Harry said. The twins grinned at her.

“It would be my pleasure, Hermione,” George said, offering her his hand. Hermione took it with hesitation; this was usually the time when they sprang some other trick on her.

She said “goodnight” to her friends and the others, before making her way up the steps, arm in arm with George. The upper hallway was quite long, with five rooms, two of them bathrooms and the other’s bedrooms. He showed her to the second one and opened the door.

It was nicely decorated in Gryffindor colors, with a large bed that look incredibly soft. Hermione made a sound of approval, dropping her trunk on the floor, before she turned back to George, who had his arm crossed over his chest.

“Are you going to tell them?” he asked her.

“Tell them what?”

“Don’t give me that innocent bullshit, Hermione,” George snapped harshly. His boyish humor had faded and she could see that he was deadly serious. “That act ended over the summer.”

“George-”

“When are you going to tell them that you were attacked?” he pressed, leaning his tall frame against the doorway. “Or that you were there when Lupin was attacked and put into comatose? Or what that bastard, Raldophus, did to you-”

“Stop!” Hermione exclaimed, sitting on the bed and putting her head in her hands.

“When are you going to tell them that you almost died?” he added quietly. His expression had softened and she could see that he was never really angry with her.

“I’ve told Dumbledore about happened to Remus,” Hermione started, her voice shaky. “Everything else…everything else needs to stay buried.”

George sat next to her, taking her hands into his own large ones. Hermione lowered her eyes; she couldn’t bear to meet his gaze.

“So you’re going to ignore everything that happened when you went on your internship?” he asked, his voice sad.

She sighed again and pressed her fingers over her eyes. “ I can’t, George. I don’t know how they would act. I’m already a handicap and they don’t need another broken toy to fix. And I don’t need the extra security that would occur if they were to find out…”

“You may need it,” he concluded, still gazing at her. “Your wand may not always be around. Without it, you’re helpless.” He paused, licking his lips as if he was thinking. “They deserve to know.”

Hermione abruptly pulled away and stood by the window, leaning her head against the cool glass. “I’m sorry, George,” she said softly. “I need…I need time to think about it. I’m perfectly fine and safe with the people who I’m with right now-”

“Malfoy,” George interrupted, protesting against her declaration of normality. His eyes narrowed. “I’ve seen the way he looks at you-”

“He’s a prat, George, but I think that he’s changed, even if only a little. I need to believe that change isn’t out of reach for someone like him.” She paused, smiling. “Besides, I can kick his arse with, or without my wand.”

George cracked a small, lopsided grin, although his eyes still seemed troubled. He walked to the doorway but stopped before he stepped out into the corridor, turning to look at her.

“I won’t tell them about it,” George told her. “I understand...but you‘re going to have to tell them, even Dumbledore, about what you’ve been through eventually.”

“Okay George,” Hermione said, hugging him tightly with relief. “When the time is right, I promise that I will.”

“And I want you to stay away from Malfoy, Hermione. He only looks out for himself.”

Hermione nodded. “I know, George. I know him well enough to not trust him.”

The red head took one last look at the witch who sat on the bed before him and shut the door as he went back downstairs.

Sighing with exhaustion, Hermione lowered herself on the bed and almost as soon as her head hit the pillow, she was asleep.


Hermione was sitting at one of the tables downstairs in the shop, which was bustling with activity, trying to read on extra material that Professor Vector had given her. Harry and Ron were at the table next to her, once more playing Exploding Snaps and Meier was sitting behind her, the twins showing him samplers of their new products. He was quite amazed at how much they had come up with.

The noise began to increase as Harry and Ron began to play more furiously and Hermione slammed her book shut with frustration. She slid her chair back and got up.

“Where’re you going?” Harry asked, looking up from the game.

“Out,” Hermione said shortly. “I have to get some air. I’m going upstairs and then I’m leaving.”

He looked at her worriedly as she stomped up the stairs, obviously upset at being disturbed so often.

She came back down a minute later with her school bag (devoid of any identification) slung over her shoulder and a murderous look on her face.

“Who’s been in my room?” Hermione asked them, her voice low with anger. “I’m missing over a dozen books from my trunk.”

Harry and Ron threw each other looks before shaking their heads. “We didn’t do it.”

Hermione rolled her eyes and pushed past them to get to the door. She was about to leave when Meier stopped her.

“Going somewhere without me, love?” he asked mockingly, moving to stand in front of her. He raised an eyebrow inquisitively when she scowled darkly at him.

“ I was, actually,” she said to him. “And in case you didn’t notice, I don’t want your company either.”

Meier narrowed his eyes at her. “I thought I made it clear, Hermione, that I was to protect you at all times.”

“For Merlin’s sake, I have my wand!” Hermione protested. “And Diagon Alley is full of people, not to mention the Aurors who should be tailing us.”

“If you die, don’t be like that Myrtle girl in the bathroom and blame me,” he said nastily, moving off to the side to let her through.

“I won’t” Hermione snapped back. “What makes you think that I’d take the initiative to see you in death when I can barely stand your presence while I’m alive?”

Before he could answer, the seething witch walked past him and into the bustling alley. It was a bright day and the remnants of last night, like empty Firewhisky bottles, lined the streets. It was rather crowded, more than it was usually, so it was easy for her to blend into the crowd.

She hadn’t been paying attention when she accidentally walked into someone. Her bag fell to the ground and a few books spilled out. Hermione looked up to see a handsome, brunette.

“I’m so sorry,” he said to her, bending down to pick up her books and her bag. He straightened slowly, meeting her eyes before standing fully. “I …I never really watch where I’m going.”

Hermione began to speak, but stopped, realizing that she was supposed to be from Brazil. She steeled herself for a short conversation and hoped that she managed to pull it off.

“It’s fine,” she answered, looking away from him shyly. “No damage was done.”

Hermione inwardly thanked Meier, who must’ve placed a charm on her voice before she walked out. Her voice held an accent that sounded half way authentic.

“None, despite the fact that I ran into such a beautiful woman,” the brunette answered, studying her face. Hermione resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “You aren’t from England are you?”

She sighed before she started to walk. The man walked beside her, waiting for her answer.

“I grew up in Brazil,” she told him, sliding her backpack over her arm. “My parents are researchers there. I’m here with my class.”

He nodded. “What’s your name, if I may ask?”

“Esperanza,” Hermione answered, telling him the first thing that came into her mind.

“Hope,” the man commented, looking down at her with a look she couldn’t place. “Did you bring your parents hope, Esperanza?”

Hermione paused, thinking. “I don’t know. I don’t know what it is that they hope for.”

“Anything,” he pressed, stopping and moving to the sidewalk. He leaned against the wall of a store. She followed. “A new life perhaps? Hope doesn’t always have a specific situation that it’s applied to.”

“Well if there’s no situation, I guess I can’t answer you,” Hermione said, grinning.

“Really?”

Hermione shrugged. “Perhaps. But my parent’s wouldn’t know… my grandmother named me.”

Still smiling at him, Hermione turned and walked away, making her way through the crowd.

“Wait!” a voice called from behind her. Hermione spun back around to see the brunette running to catch up with her.

He stopped in front of her, out of breath, with his hands on his knees. He stayed like that a few minutes before he caught his breath.

“You don’t know my name,” he told her, looking up at her face through his bangs.

“What makes you think that I want to know?” she asked, raising her eyebrow.

“Besides the fact that you stopped to have a conversation with me?”

Hermione considered that. “Yes.”

“It’s Steven by the way,” he told her, ignoring her comment with a grin. “Steven Armesto.”

“That’s a nice name,” Hermione complimented, holding her books to her chest. “It was a pleasure meeting you Steven.”

“The pleasure was all mine,” Steven said, taking her hand and placing a gentle kiss on her skin. “Could we possibly meet for coffee one day?”

Her breath caught in her throat as her mind scrambled for an answer. “I would love to, but I’m leaving soon, Steven.”

His face visibly fell when she gave her answer but he composed himself and tenderly dropped her hand so that it was back at her side.

“Well I won’t forget you,” Steven told her softly. “I may see you again, in the near future. Perhaps someplace else other than this crowded alley.”

“I hope so,” Hermione said. “Well goodbye, Steven.”

He said something, which sounded like “at nine” but was probably that’s fine, before he said goodbye and placed a gentle kiss on her cheek. He walked off into the crowd and disappeared.

Hermione shook her head and walked on, entering a random shop to gather her thoughts. She looked around and saw that she was in a book shop and she felt herself begin to grow excited. There were shelves upon shelves, not to mention the stacks of books that lined the walkway that she had to go through. There were several large armchairs scattered throughout the store.

She walked over to the nearest bookcase, dropped her bag beside her foot and began to read the spines of the books. Hermione jumped when she felt a breath in her ear and saw a long arm reach around her to grab a book from the shelf.

“Away from your bodyguards?” a male voice asked softly, although his tone was taunting.

“What do you want Malfoy?” Hermione asked, turning around and narrowing her eyes at him.

The tall blonde stepped closer, as though he was trying to get a better look at a book. She found that it hadn’t been a good idea for her to turn around since they were now only an inch apart. Her hand began to tremble although she wasn’t sure why. There was something about him that made her feel things that she shouldn’t be feeling towards the boy…no man that she had hated for seven years. She found that she couldn't think when he was standing this close to her, his body radiating a heat that met hers. His mercury eyes looked down, almost accusingly, and there was a foreign emotion there that she couldn’t read.

“I’m looking at these books,” he said, answering her question. “I do read, you know, despite what you think.”

“Since when do you care what I think?”

“ I don’t,” Malfoy answered shortly.

Rolling her eyes, Hermione pushed past him and sighed, trying to sort out what she was about to say to him and the consequences it would have. Her hands were still trembling slightly and she found ridiculous that she could let Malfoy affect her so much.

“I wanted to say thank you,” she said slowly, tasting the words as she said them. Malfoy raised an eyebrow. “For the whole Stan thing on the Knight Bus.”

“I was only saying what Potter or Weasel was going to say ,” Malfoy answered, crossing his arms over his toned chest.

“Well I just wanted to thank you,” Hermione pushed, meeting his gaze.

He looked at her a moment, but for some reason Hermione didn’t feel like he was calculating her, like he always did. It looked as though he doubted her sincerity, for a reason unknown to her, and was searching her face for an answer.

“You’re welcome,” he said back, his eyes stormy.

They had grown closer, both staring to find something that wasn’t there, something that was absent. Hermione vaguely realized that they were leaning into each other to kiss, but she couldn’t have cared less at the moment, when all she could think about were his eyes,

As he went to capture her lips with his own, coughs erupted from behind Malfoy, and the blonde turned slowly to see who was interrupting them.

It was George, obviously upset at seeing the two enemies in such a position. Hermione’s cheeks flushed when she remembered that she promised the red head that she’d stay away from Malfoy.

“All of us are wanted at the shop,” he said coldly, his eyes narrowed. “It would be wise to stop what was ever going to happen and come back now.”

It all seemed to happen in slow motion, when Hermione pushed Malfoy away from her as gently as she could manage and tried to ignore the look in his eyes that told her something completely different from what she had been expecting. Too afraid to see Malfoy’s reaction, Hermione followed George back to the shop.


Chapter 9: Purity
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Purity


Speak of hope and lasting love
And finding the key to the damned lock
I beg to differ, my dear, there is no dove,
This world hath no Pandora’s box

For whether you find lock to key
Or love to share the world with thee
In time, this world shall see
The inevitable death of purity
-Anonymous



When they reached the shop, everyone was there, including Meier, who still looked a little miffed about her treatment of him earlier on that day. Dumbledore’s head was in the fire, and the old headmaster had a grin on his face as he watched Fred demonstrate one of their new products. The door slammed behind Malfoy and the headmaster’s eyes averted to them.

“I’m glad that you’re all here now,” he began as the three that had just came in, sat down. Ron looked at Hermione’s flushed face inquisitively before deciding that he’d ask her about it later.

“Something of great importance has just happened,” Dumbledore continued. “You’ll need to go to an alley off of Lembard Avenue, in Surrey.”

“Lembard?” Harry asked, his brow furrowed. “Where’s that?”

“A little past your former home, Harry, in Little Whinging. You’ll be flooing to the Dursley’s house and walking from there.”

“What are we supposed to be looking for?” Hermione questioned, biting her lip.

He turned his forever twinkling eyes on her. “I’m glad you asked. Ms. Granger. Your expertise on Runes will be needed for this particular case.”

Hermione raised an eyebrow and mentally began to checklist the books that she might need to correctly decipher the meanings of the Runes.

“You should leave soon,” the Headmaster said, fixing his glasses that rested on his crooked nose. “In a hour, by the latest.”

There was a stunned silence before Meier spoke.

“We’ll be ready,” he promised, his voice soft as it always was when he was thinking.

“Thank you, and good luck,” Dumbledore told them, looking specifically at Ron, who reddened. “And be careful. You’re not untouchable…remember that.”

With a small pop, the Headmaster’s head disappeared from the fire. Everyone looked at each other in the noiseless atmosphere before Hermione got up swiftly, hefting her bag over one shoulder. The edge of a bulky book hit George’s head through the worn leather and he glared at her, scowling as he rubbed the back of his head.

“Whoa, whoa, Hermione,” Harry said, looking at her as she made to walk up the steps. She paused and glanced back at him. “Where are you going?”

“We leave in an hour, right?” Hermione asked, in a tone which suggested that she knew exactly what she was talking about.

Meier nodded, standing up from his seat by the fireplace.

“I need books,” she said. “Ancient Runes are complicated and a book ,or four, is necessary.”

“You’ll be fine,” Ron told her, placing his hands on her shoulders. “You’ve memorized everything in the library. I imagine that you’ll remember everything you need to know about these Runes tonight.”

Hermione frowned at him and was about to walk up the stairs anyway when Meier interrupted.

“He’s right,” the faerie said. “And we don’t have time for this, Hermione. Everything you need to know is something that you already know. All you need to do is remember it.”

She reluctantly moved away from the stairs.

“Meier and I will go through first,” Ferro said. “To make sure that there is no danger on the other side. Everyone else follow in whatever order suits you best.”

They all nodded.

She stared as Ferro’s body disappeared in to the flames.



Hermione spat out a mouthful of ash as she came out the fire place, wrapping an arm around her queasy stomach. Flooing always had a bad affect on her. There was a noise behind her but she didn’t move quickly enough because whoever was behind her pushed her right into another foot of ash.

She deduced that it had been Malfoy when she heard him complaining. She opened her eyes and panicked when she realized that she couldn’t see.

“You pushed me right into more ash!” Hermione spat at him angrily. She heard Harry and Ron come through, asking why she was on the floor.

“If you hadn’t been stupidly kneeling right in front of the fireplace, I wouldn’t have knocked into you,” he said nastily, using his hands to pick himself up from the floor.

Ferro walked over to Hermione, who was trying to clear the soot from around her eyes, and placed his hands on her cheeks.

“I need you to hold still,” he told her, caressing her face to soothe her. She nodded and calmed herself.

With his fingers, he gently wiped the ash from the creases of her eyelids with a touch so soft that it made Hermione shiver. He then placed his cool fingertips over her open eyes and muttered some things under his breath. After a few moments, Hermione realized that she could see and that she had been staring at Ferro for a good thirty seconds. She blushed.

“Thank you,” she said, getting up and wiping soot from her clothing. He nodded and walked over to the door.

“I wonder why there’s so much ash,” Harry said, looking around the dark living room of the Dursley’s.

Ferro opened the door and the light from the street lamps outside flooded the house. Hermione let out a small gasp before covering her mouth with the back of her hand.

The walls were charred, almost as if there had been a fire, but had a shimmer to them, signaling that they had been caused by hexes and spells. The furniture was broken and bashed, covered in a couple of week’s worth of dust. There were also rust colored stains on the soot covered carpet, which (Hermione swallowed when she realized this) was undoubtedly old blood.

She looked over to Harry to see his reaction but was greeted with a strangely vacant stare, as if he couldn’t believe the demolishment that his home of fifteen years had gone through. Hermione placed a comforting hand on his shoulder before leading him out of the house, behind Meier and Ferro.

It was cold out, much like the night before, when they had left Hogwarts, and Hermione wrapped her arms around herself in order to create some heat. It was eerie, walking down an empty muggle street, with only lamps for light. Meier murmured an incantation under his breath and the lamps dimmed significantly, shadowing them so an untrained eye wouldn’t notice the company.

The six of them turned on to another street, although this one wasn’t completely desolate. There were teenagers, around their age out, drinking and talking with their friends. They took no notice of six solemn people walking down the street.

Meier stopped abruptly when they reached the alleyway. A light shone from it, although it was barely noticeable and they walked down it cautiously.

The alley was a dead end, and on the wall that signaled the end, there were runes written in a shimmery, white liquid that looked suspiciously like…

“Unicorn blood?” Hermione asked incredulously, her eyes growing wide. “Please tell me that isn’t unicorn blood.”

There was a pregnant pause. Meier stepped up to the wall and wiped one long finger along the side of one of the runes. He smelled the liquid, before dropping his hand dismissively.

“It is,” he concluded, his eyes grim, but his face expressionless.

“Well this is the first part of symbolism,” Hermione said, moving in to study the wall better.

“Of what?” Ferro asked.

“The death of purity,” Malfoy answered, interrupting Hermione with a smug smirk. She threw him a nasty look before turning back to the sigh in front of her.

Sitting back on the balls of her feet, Hermione stared at the wall, memorizing every line of the runes.

“It looked as though he completely drained the unicorn,” Malfoy said. She turned to see that he was standing a couple of inches behind, his breath warm on her neck.

“Yes,” she agreed, looking back to the runes. “I think that he’s telling us that he doesn’t need old methods of preserving his life force.”

“Such as?” Meier questioned, leaning against the adjacent wall with his arms crossed over his chest.

“In our first year, he was using Unicorn Blood to keep himself from dying, to lengthen his lifespan so he could find the Philosopher’s Stone. He’s moved on to more refined and most likely more dangerous methods of living.”

“Why can’t he make another Philosopher’s Stone?” Ferro asked.

“He’s past that now, not to mention that it would be difficult. He wants complete immortality and the stone doesn’t offer that. It only offers a lifespan as long at it can help produce the Elixir of Life.”

Harry frowned, obviously disturbed at the new news. “So he’s saying that he is on a quest for immortality.”

“I think that quest is over,” Hermione said, standing up. “He wouldn’t be taunting us with information if he didn’t already posses what we’re looking for. It’s a game and a trap. We have something that he needs…”

“You,” Ron said, his voice cold. “He wants you, Hermione.”

She ignored him and pulled out a pen from her pocket and a crumpled napkin from the shop. She sketched down the runes and placed it in the bag that Meier had allowed her to bring.

“What do the runes mean?” Meier asked her, although she could tell that he truly didn’t know the answer and that he wasn’t testing her.

“I know the runes,” she told him.

“So what is he telling us?” Harry questioned.

For the second time in her life, Hermione uttered three words.

“I don’t know.”

Chapter 10: The Fey
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The Fey


“Down the hill I went, and then,
I forgot the ways of men
For nights-scents, heady, and damp, and cool
Wakened ecstasy in me.”

-Sara Teasdale, Flame and Shadow



Four chaotic days later, Hermione was sitting down at one of the tables in the twin’s shop, surrounded by open books on Runes. She knew that Voldemort had written the runes of Isa, Hagalaz, and Uruz, and she knew each individual meaning, but no idea what they were supposed to mean together. He had also written ‘novem’ beneath his evasive message.

The bastard was playing with them and at the same time, leading them into his arms.

She sighed and let her head drop to the wooden surface of the table.

“Too many books,” Meier said, coming up behind her. He voice startled her and she visibly jumped. She scowled up at him as he grinned down at her.

“Excuse me?”

“You’ve read too many books,” he repeated, sitting down across from her. “When you need to remember something of particular importance, you have much information to shift through, to ignore, and to acknowledge.”

She let her head fall back to the table, tired of hearing him speak but only had to raise it again as Ferro came down the stairs.

“We go into the Faerie World tonight,” he told them, his amber eyes watchful as he observed them.

“Why?” Hermione asked, pushing her chair away from the table.

“You two need to be indicted,” Ferro explained, nodding towards Hermione and Malfoy. “You have the thilene of a knight, you need to be known as one.”

“The court of the faeries is in the lower end of the city, where odd things aren’t noticed,” Meier said. A meeting is held tonight and it is imperative that we go.”

“The lower end?” Hermione asked, her eyebrows raised. “You mean the run down part, with clubs, ladies of the night, drug dealers, and where most crime happens?”

“Yes,” Ferro replied, smiling. “No one notices a man with a hollow back or a person the color of grass.”

There was silence.

“You’ll need to change,” Meier said. “Both of you. Faeries that attend these meetings wear darker colors to draw less attention to themselves. Your outfits have been chosen and are laid out for you upstairs. Please go and change.”

Hermione swallowed thickly and walked up the steps as quickly as she could. Despite everything Dumbledore had said about the excellent protection they had, Hermione couldn’t help but be afraid. She pushed open her door and saw something dark draped over the back of the chair that rested in front of the desk.

She held it up with trembling hands and mentally cursed Meier and Ferro.



Hermione’s face was flushed as she walked down the steps ten minutes later. As she reached the landing, they all stared at her, their eyes wide. Ignoring their gaping expressions, Hermione pulled her hair over her shoulder and placed her other hand over her abdomen. It was a lovely top piece, but it was suffocating her.

Ferro had given her a black corset, studded with what looked like black diamonds. They had also given her a black bell skirt which oddly stopped at her knees and ended in tattered ruffles. Black ballet flats graced her feet. The look was dark, yet beautiful.

“Is there any way someone can loosen this blasted thing?” Hermione gasped, obviously in pain. “I think your maid did it up too tight, Fred.”

Snapped out of his reverie, Ferro walked behind her and undid the spell that caused the corset to tighten or loosen. Hermione breathed a sigh of relief.

“Thank you.”

Hermione’s eyes reluctantly fell on Malfoy. He was dressed in a black shirt with a black leather trench coat and what looked like black breeches. His pants were tucked into tall, black boots. His overall look was eclectic yet, made him seem even more beautiful than he already was. She had to admit that he looked very good in the clothing. Meier and Ferro were dressed similarly to Malfoy, but without the overcoat and different shoes. Ferro was wearing a deep green shirt which went well with his hair and Meier’s shirt was a dark shade of blue which contrasted beautifully with his violet eyes.

Ron and Harry wore their “club wear”, which they liked to call it, which consisted of loose jeans and tight shirts in varying colors. Tonight, Ron had picked black and Harry had picked a green that matched his old eye color.

“Let’s go,” Meier said, opening the door and holding it open. Hermione stepped out and almost ran into someone.

“Steven!”

The tall, handsome brunette stared up at her before recognition crossed his features.

“Esperanza?” he asked, smiling. “I thought you were leaving.”

Hermione realized that he still thought she was from Brazil, so she tried her best to do an accent.

“I leave tomorrow,” she explained. “Tonight, I’m going to visit a friend.”

She saw his eyes avert to something behind her and she turned around to see the five men standing behind her, waiting expectantly. Then Malfoy did something unforgettable.

“Esperanza, love?” he asked, moving forward and wrapping a long arm around her bare shoulders. “Do you want to introduce us?”

“Everyone, this is Steven,” Hermione said, moving nervously. Malfoy’s arm felt strangely comfortable around her. “I met him today in the Alley.”

The tension between Steven and her companions could be cut with a knife. Hermione swallowed nervously, and wiped her clammy palms on her skirt.

“Steven this is er…my boyfriend Rouen. And these are Richard, Billy, John and David. This is my class that I’m here with from Brazil. “They looked at her with brows raised at her choice of names.

Steven nodded, his hard gaze landing on Malfoy once more.

“Well I suppose that I may see you later,” he said to Hermione, grasping her hand and then pulling her into a tight hug. She felt him bury his head in her hair and she shivered. “Have fun at your party.”

He released her, reluctantly, and disappeared back into the crowd.

“Who’s that?” Ron asked accusingly, as they moved out of the alley and onto a vacant muggle street.

“That’s what I’d like to know too,” Malfoy put in. “You were supposed to be discreet about walking in the alley.”

“I told you who he was,” Hermione said, rubbing her arms with her hands. “He’s just some guy.”

There was silence as they walked along the street, the houses slowly turning into dilapidated buildings and various clubs. They had reached the “younger” part of town where the young people went for entertainment.

Ron and Harry were behind her, talking about Quidditch and the similarities it had to muggle sports. Meier walked behind them and Ferro walked in front. That left her to walk with Malfoy, which provided plenty of opportunities for awkward silences. It had grown a little colder and Hermione began to shake from the frigid air and anxiety.

“Take my coat,” Malfoy said to her, holding out his trench coat on his arm.

“But-”

“Just take the coat Granger,” he said forcefully, thrusting the fabric in her hands. “You’re wearing nothing around your shoulders but your hair.”

“Won’t you have to burn it afterwards?” Hermione asked, cautiously. “A mudblood wearing it and all?”

“It’s not mine,” he said. “But no, I’m not going to burn it.”

She shrugged the coat on, although it was overly large on her. Malfoy looked at the witch beside him, who barely reached his chin. She looked good in his clothing, he decided as they walked.

Another turn onto a wrecked sidewalk, and they were on a dead end with a black building at the end of it. It was large with one large dash on the front in neon green. People littered the street leading up to the club, either drunk or high, stumbling along the cracked cement. The six approached the door, which practically blended in with the building. A woman with ridiculously colored orange hair was at the door, bumping her foot to the music that pumped inside. She drew a long, green colored nail into her mouth as they approached.

“Do you need something?” she asked, sucking on her lip ring.

“We need to get in,” Meier said. His voice held no position for questioning.

“Nice top,” the bouncer said, her eyes flicking over Hermione’s corset.

“Thanks.”

The woman’s eyes turned back to Meier and she nodded, rolling her eyes as he smirked at her. “Go in. If the cops come, go through the back. There’s another alley there.”

She opened the black, plastic rope that blocked the door, letting them through and into the club.

Hermione almost cried out at the loud music that erupted as they stepped through the door. She opened her eyes and only saw mayhem. The walls of the club were also black, although neon streaks of paint were on the walls. There were huge speakers in each of the corners and the DJ sat up on the half sunken in stage. The tops of the bars were flooded with alcohol and the liquid was spilling onto the floor.

People were every where; on the floor, on the stage, on the bar, even some on top of the speakers, dancing and drinking or attempting to have sex. As she looked back over at the bar, she saw a woman break down into hysterics over a man who was having a seizure on the floor, obviously having over dosed on some drug. Slowly, a small crowd developed around the two and they were blocked from Hermione’s sight. Biting her lip, she looked back at the dance floor that was completely packed with people. As they moved through, Hermione found that she had to simply follow the flow of people rather than resist them.

“Where’re those sounds coming from?” Malfoy asked, his eyes hard, yet confused as he looked around at the dark club.

“Someone will explain it later,” Ferro told him, as he grabbed a hold of Hermione’s wrist. “But right now, we need to get to the opposite side and through that door.”

He pointed to the faint outline of a doorway, next to the stage. It was strange because it seemed as though no one else took a notice of it.

The six made their way through the crowd, pushing and puling on each other in a long chain. After a few moments, they reached the door.

Meier pushed open the door, and it seemed as though he was struggling.

“Do you need help?” Harry asked, moving towards the silver haired faerie.

Meier shook his head. “No. I have to push through the glamour.”

Harry, Ron, and Malfoy looked at her, as though they needed an answer and Hermione shook her head.

“I have no idea what a glamour is,” she said, moving back as a couple pushed in between the group.

“You wouldn’t,” Ferro commented. “It’s a faerie term. It’s basically an illusion. That was what you saw in the Leaky Cauldron, when we suddenly changed our appearance. This one was made so that if anyone not intended to get through, opens the door, it looks like an abandoned room.”

“What happens if they decide to, you know, do something in it?” Malfoy asked, a lewd smirk crossing over his features.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “You’re disgusting.”

Malfoy cut his eyes at her and was about to snap back when Ferro carried on.

“They could if they wanted to. It would seem real. For us though, we have to push through that and into the true room.”

They became silent, the loud music pumping brass, metallic beats that shook the floor until Meier grunted and finally managed to open the door. Strangely, no light flooded from it and Hermione found out why once she walked through.

It looked as though they were underground, underneath a hill, which seemed to be carved out hollow, like an upside down bowl. Tree roots hung down from the domed ceiling, as if trees were growing right on top of them. Moss also made up the roof, along with other plants. Although it should’ve looked messy, the way the roots twisted seemed to be so precise that it was beautiful. There were only lamps on either side of the gargantuan room that exuded light, which made the ambience even more eccentric and dark.

The floor, when they first walked in, was made of brown dirt, but then slowly turned into deep green grass. There were many wooden tables with carved feet that ended into a gruesome face, piled high with foods that Hermione had never seen,. There was also a black fountain that spewed an amber liquid that smelled rather sweet.

Her eyes fell onto the occupants and her breath caught.

They were all faeries, yes, but as diverse as anything could be.

There were brown trolls, but obviously of a different species than she had seen, because they were having an intelligent conversation with a coherent language. Glittery things zipped past the group in the dark air.

A man who, to Hermione’s horror, was green and who had tusks protruding from his bottom jaw, snatched one out of the air. She could see now, that they were tiny faeries, the fees that they had learned about in class. He squeezed it until it squealed then slammed it onto the ground. He raised his booted foot, but Hermione snatched up the fee before he could stomp on it. He caught the wing of the little faerie, which, when he lifted his shoe, was a smeared, shimmery mess in the grass. The man grinned at her, a smile entirely too large for his face, and jaunted off.

After she was sure that he had gone, she opened her cupped hands and the fee tittered out, although it was already growing another wing to replace the one it had just lost.

“He was about to kill it,” Hermione whispered to Ferro, stepping closer to him, as ladies with twisted faces in low cut dresses walked by. She turned to look at them and noticed that their attire was designed to show off their backs, which were as hollow as the ceiling.

“One of the darker kind,” he answered, pulling her closer by her wrist. “Killing smaller things for fun is still recreational. You have to remember, that 500 years is like ten years in your world, and is not long. It takes time for the darker ones to get out of their habits.”

Soon after, they stepped into what was obviously the lighter crowd of the faeries, for Ferro let her go, and it didn’t reek of something black. She noticed that those who were here were practically all male. The only females she had seen were the ones in the dresses.

Chairs wrought from the roots of trees that were connected to the floor, were all in orderly lines, filled to the brink with faeries. She could see that there was a dais, and in the chair on it, there was a woman, with a man standing beside her.

Meier ushered them into a row with a few empty seats and told them to site down quickly.

“Take off that coat,” he hissed at her, as the woman began to speak.

Hermione hastily took it off and handed it back to Malfoy, who was sitting next to her. They waited nervously for a few moments, while someone talked, although thy were so far back that they couldn’t see who it was.

“When I tell you to, you and Mr. Malfoy will walk up there,” Meier whispered, his indigo eyes trained on the dais. “You will bow and sink to your knees. And ignore anything that the faeries say to you on your way up, Ms. Granger- they have not seen a young female in a long time.”

“Why?” she whispered back.

“A lot of the females don’t live around these parts,” Ferro answered her, cutting off Meier. “And if they do, they take up with Mortal men; they’re much easier to seduce and manipulate.”

There were a few more moments of silence, before Meier nudged her and whispered, “Now.”

Taking a trembling breath, Hermione stood, followed by Malfoy.

“Walk arm in arm,” Meier called out softly after them.

Hermione straightened her back while waiting for Malfoy to reach her. She looked up at him and realized how tall his was. Nodding to her, his silver hair falling into his eyes, he gently looped her arm through his and started to walk. She had to repeatedly tell herself to keep her eyes straight ahead.

Whispers followed the two down the dirt path, lewd comments about doing indescribable things to her and how “nice“ she looked. He gritted his teeth and looked over to Hermione, who was beginning to flush red.

“Shut it out,” he whispered, a little more harshly than he intended to.

“Believe me, I’m trying,” she shot back under her breath, biting her lip.

As they drew nearer to the dais, Hermione noticed the woman sitting in the throne. She wasn’t really old, maybe around sixty,, and she must’ve been beautiful when she was younger for she was breathtaking now, in an elderly way. She was completely bald, with intricate patterns in black diamonds covering her head. Her eyes were as green as emeralds and seemed to glitter in the dim light. Hermione’s breath caught as she realized that this must be Queen Mab, the ruler of both courts of the faeries. She quickly averted her eyes as they drew closer to the aging woman.

She and Malfoy sank to their knees, bowing their heads so that their eyes were parallel with the dirt floor.

“Welcome to the court,” Queen Mab said, her voice as smooth and velvety as a cat’s purr. “You can rise now, my two new knights.”

Taking another, ragged breath, Hermione rose, dragging a reluctant Malfoy up with her.

“Dumbledore has told me of your predicament,” the queen commented, her chin resting on one slender finger. “And of that fool, Voldemort.”

“He gives his regards,” Malfoy said, his voice very silky. Hermione figured this is what he sounded like when he was in seducing mode. “And thanks you greatly, for your willingness to help.”

“I don’t do it for your race,” Queen Mab scoffed, her eyebrows raising. “That tyrant has something that belonged to my mother…something very important that our kind has kept quiet. It was not for mortal hands to touch, those sullied with the stench of death.” The old woman paused, her eyes flicking over the two again. “I do believe that he will ruin it…”

“We believe that he is looking for immortality,” Hermione said, her voice clear and strong, although she had believed that she had lost it. “And is using whatever it is that he has stolen from you, to obtain it.”

The woman’s green eyes turned from Malfoy and onto Hermione. She felt a surge of fear shoot through her, before a strangely placate emotion washed over her,

“Maybe you’ve heard of it,” Queen Mab started, her voice soft, as if she was in a memory. “A black mirror, as dark as endless night, wrought from the black gold in the fires of Germany. It shows things meant for yours not to see and offers something that should not be offered to humans.”

“Endless life,” Hermione said.

“Yes,” the queen agreed, her voice back to it’s normal volume as if she had snapped out of a dream. “What it does, you will find out soon enough.. . But I will tell you one thing about my dear mirror. It needs a key to give immortal life, an object that is a combination to become parallel with the mirror.

“For that is what this mirror really is…a blend between the afterlife and life. The only stopper between them is death, and once that is eliminated, there is no recognition of difference between the two worlds. In this, it grants immortality.”

“We will do our best,” Malfoy answered, bowing his head to the queen. “And we are honored to serve you as long as you may need us.”

Queen Mab’s eyes rested on him once more. “Yes, yes…now for your initiation.”

She turned to the man standing beside her and Hermione looked at him also, to see who he was. She wouldn’t have stopped staring if Malfoy hadn’t elbowed her in the small of her back.

He was absolutely beautiful, more than Meier and Ferro put together. He was tall and lean and was wearing jointed black armor, as if he had just come from battle. The thin line of scarlet blood trickling down the side of his face proved that theory.

His face was angular, with high cheekbones and slanted eyes, which were a stunning shade of silver like Malfoy’s, but seemed to shimmer to an icy blue when his body moved. He had long, lush, brown hair, the hue of her own, that fell down his back and curled gently at the ends. His skin reminded her of Blaise’s…toffee colored, which differed beautifully with his eyes and hair.

He whispered something to Queen Mab, and Hermione was startled to see that his eyes were trained on her while he was talking. The queen pulled away, a smile on her face. She moved her gaze back to Hermione and Malfoy.

“You may stay in rooms that we keep for guests,” she told them, idling toying with a large ruby ring on her hand. “You have access to the library that is connected to them. Use them as you see fit.”

The man stepped out from his place beside the queen and before them. “I will be leading you to your rooms,” he said to them.

“What about the indictment?” Hermione asked, a frown on her face.

“The queen has decided that she likes you,” the faerie answered. “That is all one needs.”



“The maples stamped against the west
Were black and stately and full of rest,
And the hazy orange moon grew up
And slowly changed to yellow gold
While the hills were darkened, fold on fold
To a deeper blue than a flower could hold.”

-Sara Teasdale

Chapter 11: More
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More


Goodly they all that knight do entertaine,
Right glad with him to have increast their crew:
But to Duess' each one himselfe did paine
All kindnesse and faire courtesie to shew;
For in that court whylome her well they knew:
Yet the stout Faerie mongst the middest crowd
Thought all their glorie vaine in knightly vew,
And that great Princesse too exceeding prowd,
That to strange knight no better countenance allowd.
-Edmund Spenser




Hermione stood at one of the wooden tables full with food. She awkwardly held a cup full of the amber liquid that she had seen spouting from the black fountain earlier. Apparently, it was “out of this world” and “ten times better than butterbeer”, because Harry and Ron kept bugging her to try some.

She had just told them to get lost because they were becoming a little tipsy, when Malfoy stepped up next to her.

“You’re not drinking,” he said simply, taking a sip from the silver goblet he held in his hand.

“Thank you for stating the obvious.” She didn’t know why she was being so snappy with him, but it felt good. Retribution for all those years of nasty name calling.

“It’s not spiked,” Malfoy said to her snarkily. “These aren’t desperate men, Granger. They could get any woman they wanted.”

“He couldn’t,” Hermione pointed out, nodding towards a troll who appeared to be half asleep on the chairs.

Malfoy picked up an apple, throwing it up a little in the air and catching it. Hermione rolled her eyes at his theatrics and crossed her arms over her chest.

“Try this,” he told her softly, handing her the apple.

She took it from him and studied the fruit. It was a strange apple, the color of molten gold instead of the usual colors that the fruit possessed. She brought it up to her mouth and gingerly bit into it. As soon as the juices hit her lips, her eyes went half lidded with pleasure.

It was sweet, sweeter than anything she had ever tasted, and had a taste that she couldn’t describe. Almost like thick honey. After she had finished biting a piece off, she looked down and realized that the flesh of the apple was a wine red, with tiny veins running through it. The sweet nectar slid down her hands and onto her arm. Hermione licked off the trail of sweetness and looked up to see Malfoy staring at her.

“What?” she asked, licking her lips before taking another large bite of the strange fruit.

“Nothing,” the blonde replied.

She finished off the apple, and took a small sip of the liquid in her cup. She raised her eyebrows at the taste but kept on drinking. The drink was sweet, less so than the fruit, but had a bitter taste also, which provided an interesting contrast. The combination made the liquid delicious.

Malfoy’s eyes locked onto something behind her and she turned around, only to face the beautiful faerie who stood by Queen Mab during their indictment.

“I am Asriel,” he said, taking her hand into his own and giving it a gentle kiss. “I have come to deliver you something.”

When Hermione opened her hand, there was a stone, midnight blue although it changed to different hues when she shifted her hand in the light. She studied it for a moment because it looked strangely familiar. But when she tried to remember where she’d seen it before, she felt a strange pounding in her head and decided not to pursue the memory. The stone was on a silver choker necklace, studded with deep green emeralds.

“Let me put it on you,” Asriel suggested softly, holding the necklace up in his hand.

Hermione nodded and pulled her hair over her shoulder so he had access to her neck. Her eyes met Malfoy’s stormy ones and there was something there that she hadn’t expected to be present. He was angry by the way his eyes were heating up, and how he had suddenly clenched his hands into fists worried her for some reason. She pretended not to notice and looked down at the now dirt floor.

“You have a lovely neck,” Asriel commented. His fingers softly touched her skin and she shivered. “Like a swan…long, graceful and fair.” He had done the clasp of the necklace and his fingertips were now running over where her spine started, tracing patterns on her skin. “You must be careful about your exquisite neck…someone could easily snap it. You are far more fragile than you let other’s know.”

He finally stepped back and she glanced over her shoulder to look at him. The Prince of the Fey stepped around so he was beside Draco, who shot the brunette faerie a deadly look as he approached him.

“Why are you giving me this?” Hermione asked, touching the stone with her hand. The choker felt odd around the once empty expanse of skin and she felt like it would tighten any moment.

“It was meant for you,” Asriel said simply, his silver eyes washing over her. “It looks even more beautiful on you than it did on the last mortal.”

Hermione had to contain an eye roll and instead forced a smile. “Is it just a decoration for another one of your hopeful possessions or does it mean something?”

Asriel raised an eyebrow and gave her a smirk before deciding to answer her. He took a deep drink from a random goblet on the table beside them.

“I like your wit,” he said his smirk morphing into a grin. “You’d make a good wife for one of our kind.”

Hermione fought back a smile as she saw Draco’s mouth twitch. “I’m sorry but I want to stay within my species when I date someone.”

He grinned at her again and picked up an apple, biting into it and then looking up at her.

“My mother wished me to give it to you,” he told her. “I advise that you take care of it…it may be important.”

“Really?” she queried, touching the blue stone. It’s color changed from blue to black in the dimming lights as she twisted it in between her fingertips. “But what makes you think that I need your advice?”

His lips quirked at this and he raised an eyebrow. She decided to continue since she had him off guard.

“If humans are so incompetent and if you have the key, why can’t you take back the mirror yourself?” she asked.

Asriel’s eyes darkened. “It is your race that contacted us for aid.”

“But if you had been able to protect the mirror,” Hermione began, twiddling with the pendant, “we wouldn’t be in this predicament.”

They stared at each other for a moment, malice in her eyes and surprise in his. Draco took another sip of his drink and turned away, knowing that some words were going to fly that weren’t going to be too pretty.

Asriel suddenly drew her body to his and tilted his head so that his lips were brushing against her ear. His ragged breathing stayed there for a moment, sending sweet shivers down her spine.

“You’ve heard of the vamperum, yes?” he asked softly, nuzzling her neck with his forehead.

Hermione could merely nod, her body numbing at being in such close contact with such a beautiful being.

“Vamperum and our race…we don’t get along. I will tell you that Voldemort plans to use them somehow and we can’t come into direct contact with the mirror. He is a threat to your world. What he’s trying to unleash is a threat to ours.”

“So why can’t you defeat him yourself?” Hermione asked, her eyes slowly closing with the skin on skin contact.

“Why do we need to lose men over a man who isn’t directly a threat to us?” Asriel explained. “You kill him, we stop what he’s trying to let lose on this world that would kill, not only us, but your kind as well. I’d say that’s a fair trade, human.”

Hermione pulled away from him although his hands were still wrapped around her upper arms.

“I will also tell you not to fool yourself into thinking that you have nothing to do with this, that you’re a victim of mere circumstance. This pendant was meant for you and you’ll find out soon enough why your destiny is hidden from you so well.”

Hermione suddenly felt very tired and her eyes flickered shut. She had to struggle to keep them open. “Why is it hidden, Asriel?” she asked.

“To keep you from destroying yourself.”


Hermione, Harry, Ron, Draco, Ferro and Meier sat in the small but extremely valuable library that was connected to their rooms the night after they arrived at Queen Mab‘s court. They were around a round wooden table with the Daily Prophet in the middle of them.

“Thirty muggles?” Hermione repeated, her voice soft, yet incredulous. “All around the area of my house?”

Harry had a dismal look on his face as he nodded. “I’m so sorry Hermione.”

She slumped sideways so that she was leaning on Ron, who began to run his long fingers through her hair and whispered to her in a soothing voice that everything was going to be alright. Harry took her hand in his own Quidditch calloused one and gave her a reassuring squeeze. Half of those people she had known. They were neighbors, patients of her parents, childhood friends. It was the first time that Voldemort’s actions had intimately affected her.

“My parents?” Hermione asked in a rather small, yet strong voice. “Are my parents okay?”

Harry looked at Meier, who took a rather deep breath. Hermione’s heart clenched, not knowing what her reaction would be if she did lose her parents.

“Yes. It seemed that the Deatheaters found what they were looking for in Spain though, because they attacked and killed many more muggles there”

Hermione sat up straight, although Ron still had an arm around her bare shoulders.

“Well what happened?” she asked, her voice still grim.

“Your house was attacked, but nothing was irreversibly damaged,” Meier told her, giving her a tiny smile. Even if he didn’t show it, she could tell that he felt empathy. “Your father has broken his leg and your mother has a few cuts and bruises from the ceiling falling in, but other than that they’re both fine.”

“Where are they?”

“Protected,” Ferro interrupted. “At their cottage by the sea, they told us?”

Hermione let out a brief grin. “We have a house on the beach. They must be under the Fidelius Charm.”

Meier gave her a brief nod. “Dumbledore,” he told her.

There was a lengthy pause before Hermione decided to speak.

“I have some information,” she said quietly, reaching down to get her notes that she had taken on spare pieces of parchment.

Meier raised an eyebrow. “Oh really?”

“About the runes?” Malfoy asked, leaning forward with his forearms resting against the table.

Hermione met his eyes fully before continuing. “The Queen mentioned the Black Mirror to us and we believe that it is what Voldemort needs for immortality. This is obviously in connection with the recent incident where he wrote the runes Isa, Hagalaz, and Uruz. Underneath them, along with his name, he wrote another word. I’ll give you a brief description of each before I go on. Uruz is a rune that stands for masculinity, strength and courage. Isa, a challenge and Hagalaz stands for the wrath of nature. Voldemort inverted the runes, changing the meanings. Instead of courage, Uruz stands for violence, instead of a challenge, Isa represents illusions and deceit. Hagalaz symbolizes loss and suffering.

There is a connection between the runes. Isa is ice and Hagalaz is hail. They are to be coupled. Now Uruz is a completely different story. Every rune to it’s opposite is negative but I think that Uruz is for a different reason, although I‘m not sure what it is yet. I mentioned another word…underneath the runes. It was written in runes, and when translated into our phonetic alphabet, spelled novem.”

“Novem?” Harry asked. “Nine in Latin?”

Hermione nodded before drawing her bottom lip in between her teeth in concentration.

“You’re too smart for your own good,” Meier said, a smirk on his handsome face.

“So what do we do now?” Ron asked, his fingers slipping from her hair as he stood up.

Hermione sighed, pressing her fingertips to her temples before answering.

“We wait.”

“Why are you really here?” Hermione asked Draco in a soft voice, laying on the large couch by the fire.

It was only the two of them in the library since he had stopped being an arsehole for a moment and offered (almost reluctantly. It was a suggestion of Meier’s) to help her research the significance of the number nine. Harry protested but realized how tired he was after he walked straight into a marble column. Ron had to help him to his room.

Draco was sitting across from her in the matching loveseat, his legs so long that they hung over the armrest.

He turned his head to look at her and met her eyes from beneath his molten colored bangs.

“I thought I’ve already explained this to you Granger,” he said, trying his best to sound angry. That was the last thing he wanted to sound like, since he was looking at her in a way he’d only witnessed twice.

Hermione had to contain a smile at his scathing comments. For the past couple of days, he had stopped insulting her and they had actually had a few decent conversations. She found that they had a lot in common, despite their differences.

Draco watched her gaze flicker with thought. She was unguarded and soft in the jaws of sleep. Her eyes were threatening to close any minute now and her breathing had become heavier. It was in these times that Draco tried to take in as much of her as he could because those times would be the only ones where she wouldn’t look at him with contempt in her eyes.

“Humor me, Malfoy,” Hermione told him, a sleepy smirk gracing her lips. “Do tell me again.”

Draco took a breath, sitting up from his comfortable position on the couch. The pillow his head had rested on fell to the floor and it seemed as if that sound was what really brought Hermione out of her reverie. Her eyes seemed to awaken, the spark that was absent in sleep springing forth as she witnessed Draco’s reaction.

“I don’t need saving,” he explained to her, gazing into the fire. “So don’t even allow yourself to think that.”

Hermione sighed and propped herself up on one elbow, twisting a loose thread on the blanket that covered her between her fingers. “There’s something more than just looking out for your own skin. There has to be.”

“Why?” Draco asked, his intense gaze trained on her now. Hermione felt shivers go down her spine, although she didn’t know why. “So you can believe that there’s something worth saving in me?”

“I think that the reason why you’re here is what you think I assume,” Hermione said. She averted her gaze as she heard Draco make a noise that would most likely morph into a protest. She hurried on. “You need to believe that there’s something in yourself worth saving, that you can be a good person. You need confirmation that you won’t be like your father.”

Draco’s gaze seemed to darken when he fully heard her accusation. “Why do you think that?” he asked, his voice going cold.

“Because you aren’t him,” Hermione said, as if it was a simple concept.

Malfoy let himself fall back to the couch. “Sometimes I doubt that.”

“Malfoy.” Her voice was serious now, losing it’s playfulness. “You may look like him, and you may’ve been brought up like him, but you’ll never be him.”

“I don’t want to end up in Azkaban with a wife and son who hate me,” Draco went on, his eyes looking at her again with an emotion so deep that it moved her. “And I don’t want to throw my life away to some half- blooded hypocritical lunatic who raves about Pureblood aristocracy when he isn’t pure himself.”

“You’re going to be similar to him,” Hermione told him truthfully. “Merlin knows that you have the same attitudes about blood, the same arrogance and snobbiness and you two could be brothers. But you’re as different from him in as many ways that you’re the same.”

“How do you even know this?” Draco snapped at her, his eyes once again like ice. “You don’t even know me.”

“True,” Hermione retorted. “But there are general conclusions that I can draw to tell you that you aren’t going to end up like your father, at least not in the ways that you think of.”

“Like what?” he asked, his angry gaze a little hopeful. “Tell me Granger.”

Hermione seemed to think about it for a moment before she answered. “For one, you had enough courage or whatever it was to leave behind a lifestyle that you’ve been accustom to and born into, turn on your family who controlled your life, and reject the maniac who your family and friends worship. I think that’s a pretty big difference between you and your father, even if you’re only helping us out for your own good, as you so eloquently put it. He lacks the strength that you have.”

He didn’t smile but she could see some warmth in his eyes now.

“What else?” he questioned, his voice less harsh and a little softer than the tone he should’ve been using to talk to somebody of her status.

“You look a little like Sirius,” Hermione said, her voice quiet now also. “You have his nose, I think.” Draco made a face at this but she ignored it. “I presume that that comes from your mother…and you’re less cruel. You have emotions, Malfoy, as much as it pains me to say it.”

“Anything else?”

“You’re talking to a mudblood,” Hermione said, giving him a tired smile. “You’ve touched me, helped me, given me your coat. And you haven’t killed me yet. Or burned off your own hands due to contamination. I’d said that’s a major difference, Malfoy.”

There was silence. Although this time it wasn’t awkward. They sat like that for a little bit, staring at the flames dancing in the hearth. Hermione felt her eyes weighing down with exhaustion once again. The warmth and the smell of leather books was like a sedative. It was Draco’s voice, soft yet strong, that woke her a little, although she was sure he had said it.

“I think that I’m starting to like you more than I should, Granger.”



“Like saving a silver flower’s breath
To save someone from decaying blackness
Is to save them from a darker death.”



Chapter 12: Eyes
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Eyes


Sear me with your florid songs
Not with palpable pleasures of the earth
For me, the joys of youth have since long gone
And the jaws of death are at my door
Since experience brings the woes of life
But To Suppose
Youth surely is a hellish place
Experience forgotten without pace
Where life is lived with eyes wide closed

-"One to Another" M.E


Hermione awoke in one of the rather large bedrooms that Queen Mab had provided their company with. She glanced out of the windows and she could see light, that indicated daytime, streaming in through a forest canopy. Obviously the glamour worked on providing fake environments on the outside also.

When she looked at her watch she saw that it was indeed morning. 10:30, to be exact. She ran a brush through her hair until it glistened and pulled on a spare outfit, which consisted of pants and a form fitting gray t- shirt, that she had hastily put into her bag, when they left. She minimized her belongings, picking up the tiny satchel and putting it in her pocket.

As she was about to leave, she caught a look of herself in the mirror.

And she stopped.

She looked so much like herself, as she had before she went on the mission, but eerily different. The pendant around her neck served as a reminded of how far from Hogwarts and the most normal life she had been living for the past seven years, really was.

Hermione pulled open her door, which led to the library, and was greeted by the other five, who were around the wooden table, plates of food in front of them. Ron was actually taking time to chew his food, to Hermione’s amazement. Harry had a bandage on his head and was spreading jam on two pieces of bread. Her eyes fell on Draco, who was once again wearing all black. He was staring down at a piece of paper and his brow looked creased, as if he was concentrating extremely hard on something.

They all looked up at her as she entered.

“Did you sleep well?” Meier asked her as she sat down between Ron and Harry.

Hermione eyed him suspiciously. “Yes, why? Did you do something?”

“Yes, I watched you as I hid in your closet,” Meier snapped back rolling his eyes. “I meant that I came out here and you, and Mr. Malfoy were asleep on the couch. It seemed as though the both of you had fallen asleep while researching. But when I came back to actually move you to your bedroom, so your snoring didn’t wake us all up, you were gone along with Mr. Malfoy here.”

Hermione flushed with embarrassment although Draco didn’t even raise an eyebrow. She opened her mouth to give an explanation when Harry and Ron looked at her, but all that came out was:

“I don’t snore.”

Ignoring the looks that the others were giving her, Hermione dumped some eggs on her plate along with a jammy dodger.

“So how did your research go last night?” Harry asked, narrowing his eyes. “While, you know, I ran into marble and was bleeding from my head.”

She slowly finished chewing her eggs and had swallowed when she decided to answer. “We did find a lot of data on the number nine,” she told him, ignoring his hint that she had done something with Malfoy.” Now I just have to piece everything together.”

Harry viciously tore off a bit of his toast, trying to intimidate her into telling him something before the food went down the wrong way and he began to choke. Ron thumped him on the back a good couple of times, before Harry raised a hand, signaling for him to stop. Clearing his throat, Harry blushed a little, before shredding his toast into smaller pieces and then eating them. Hermione held back a laugh and continued to eat her eggs.

“I’m glad that you’ve founded what you’ve needed,” Meier said, pushing his plate away, which disappeared with a slight ‘pop’. “We need to move today. The queen has offered us more time to stay, but I do believe that we’ve extended our welcome here.”

Ron nodded in agreement. “It’s too quiet here.”

“I can only imagine,” Draco began sarcastically. “how lovely and loud it must be in that cardboard box you call a house, Weasel.”

Hermione threw him a vehement glare before placing a hand over Ron’s to calm him down.

“It’s Weasley, you little ferret,” Ron said angrily, his ears turning red “Get it right!”

“My bad,” Draco said sarcastically, leaning back in his chair with a smirk on his face.

“Well where are we going?” Hermione asked Ferro and Meier, trying to change the subject to a more pleasant one. She soon found out that it was a mistake.

“Malfoy Manor,” the blonde answered from beside her.

Hermione looked at him incredulously before letting out a strained laugh. “That’s funny Malfoy, because I thought you just said that we’ll be going to your house-”

“He did,” Harry said darkly, gingerly feeling the bruise on his head. “Like that’s any safer than hiding underneath Voldemort’s bed and holding up a neon sign that says, ‘Kill me, I‘m right here’.”

“Don’t they use your house as a Death Eater country club or something?” Ron asked, taking another bite from his bacon. Harry sniggered from beside the redhead

“No,” Malfoy snapped at him. “But it is where your mom works part time.”

Ron sputtered furiously on his food before making to stand up, his hands curling into fists

“That’s enough!” Hermione said, her voice holding the authoritive tone that she kept for lectures and Head Duties. “You, Malfoy, are lucky that I don’t hex you right now. Mrs. Weasley is a lovely woman and you shouldn’t say such nasty things about her.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “But he’s allowed to make assumptions about my mum?”

“I didn’t say anything about your mum,” Ron shot back from behind Hermione. “I just said your family. And your parents are Deatheaters, aren’t they?”

“Stop!” Hermione said angrily to Ron, hitting him on his arm. “No more “your mom” jokes or name-calling about family. The next person who says anything that is remotely an insult will have my wand trained between their eyes.”

The two young men glared at each other for a moment before they both sat down, Ron huffing and Draco scowling. Meier looked at the four amusedly before taking a deep gulp of pumpkin juice from his goblet.

“When do we leave?” Hermione asked, keeping her eye on Malfoy and Ron.

“Today,” Ferro answered, raising an eyebrow as she shrieked in response.

“What?!” Hermione stood up, an exasperated look on her face. “I still have more information to collect!”

“There’s a library in the manor,” Draco told her, refraining from insulting her. “You can use it if you’re that obsessed with deciphering Voldemort’s message.”

“She won’t find anything in there,” Ron snapped at the blonde. “Those are just instruction manuals on world domination, how to be a snaky bastard, not to mention torture techniques for muggles.”

“Ron!”

He gave her an “I’m sorry but he deserved it” look, before taking another bite of toast.

“Our time is no longer flexible,” Meier said, interrupting the insult competition. “I suggest that you start packing as quickly as you can. It may be morning here, but it’s near seven o’clock at night in your world.”

Harry opened his mouth to protest but Hermione beat him to the punch.

“Is there a reason why we didn’t wake up any earlier?” Hermione said, interrupting Harry’s oncoming tangent.

“And since you’ve decided to waste time on asking questions, we’ll just have to use magic,” He said, ignoring her comment

With a flick of his slim wrist, all of their belongings, even the ones from the shop were piled beside the table. Another flick, and their trunks and bags were as big as tea lights (a/n those are little candles). Ferro conjured up a back pack and stuffed the little trunks in it, swinging it over his shoulder.

“What are you waiting for?” the black haired faerie asked, impatiently. Hermione winced; she’d never heard him use a tone so sharp with any of them. “We need to get moving.”

“But-”

“Oh shut up and move your big arse through the door,” Draco interrupted, pushing her in the small of her back.

Hermione rounded on him, her eyes flashing. In a second, her hand had connected with the side of his face with a resounding ‘smack!’. Draco’s hand shot up to his reddening check, cradling it as he glared down at her.

“Don’t tell me to shut up,” Hermione said, her voice getting higher due to her anger. “And my arse isn’t big!”

Draco removed his hand from his face and smirked down at her. “No, it’s not Granger. You have a great arse Granger. It’s just the perfect size to-”

Hermione raised her hand again to slap him, but he moved out of the way in the nick of time. He swallowed when he realized that he was standing right next to Harry and Ron.

“The next time you even mention any of her body parts in a sexual way, I’m going to break your face,” Ron said threateningly to him.

“I would listen,” Draco began, looking over at her. “But I think that she likes it.”

They all turned their eyes on Hermione, who had flushed to a pretty shade of pink on her cheeks.

“Next time I’ll use my wand,” she said, her voice low.

Draco raised an eyebrow. “Threatening me, Granger?”

“Now? Yes. If you talk about my arse again, no. It’ll be a promise Malfoy.”

“Why I do believe you’re a Masochist, Granger,” Draco said, that god forsaken smirk on his face again.

Hermione rolled her eyes and instead of snapping back at him, she decided to follow the two faeries out of the door.



“Why is it so cold?” Ron asked, grimacing as he was forced to pull on one of his mother’s famous wool sweaters, with the large “R” on it.

“Maybe because it’s November,” Hermione answered, her voice sarcastic. “We are entering winter you know.”

Hermione had started to shiver, considering that she was only wearing a t-shirt. She was surprised when a coat was thrust in her hands and turned to find that Malfoy was walking beside her.

“Thank you,” she said softly.

He gave her a curt nod. “I might as well let you keep, considering that you wear it more than I do.”

She smiled, although it was barely noticeable in the night air.

They were all walking, disillusioned, to where Malfoy Manor was. It was quite a way’s away, and they had to take both the Knight Bus, and Apparate to get to where they were.
Where they were now was more rustic and more rural, than the urban spread of London. There were little shops and even cobblestone sidewalks. As she glanced around, she noticed that she scarcely saw any people.

“Do the people here not go out at night?” she asked out loud, wrapping Draco’s coat tighter around her slender body.

“The people here are aware that sometimes, magical things happen,” Draco told her, looking around at the deserted street. “There are three more manors here, also owned by Purebloods, and every so often, a couple of muggles go missing.”

Hermione shivered, although it wasn’t from the cold. “That’s horrible,” she commented, making a face.

Draco shrugged indifferently. They walked for a few more moments, not really looking where they were going, as long as Draco told them when they reached their destination.

Eventually, the blonde wizard abruptly stopped and held out his arm, signaling for the others to halt their motions.

Hermione realized, as she and the others looked up, that they really hadn’t been paying attention to where they had been heading. For if anyone had paid attention, they would’ve stopped a long time ago.

They had walked up the hill, and it was on this hill that Malfoy Manor sat on. She looked behind her and noticed that it seemed to overlook the rest of the town. They had stopped at huge, black iron gates and behind those gates was a stone mansion with pillars out in the front that led to a large archway door. Large, cathedral like windows looked out over the immaculate lawn.

“Don’t people notice that you never leave the manor?” Harry asked, looking up at Draco’s home with an unreadable expression on his face.

“It’s unplottable, for one,” Draco answered, before muttering something under his breath. “And we have charms on it like Hogwarts does. It appears empty here, though if people decide to travel up here, they get a feeling of danger and turn back around.”

They became quiet as the huge intricate, iron gates began to open with sounds of metal grating against stone.

As the entrance to Malfoy Manor opened, it began to rain.



“The house elves here will appear if you call for assistance,” Draco told them as they set their luggage down in the entrance of the manor. “Don’t worry, they won’t tell anyone about us. Dumbledore has promised that.”

Hermione slipped off Draco’s coat and ran a hand through her damp hair, mentally reminding herself to hand dry it later of else it would frizz up. Her breath caught as she looked around.

They were in the foyer of the manor, standing on slick floors of beautiful marble. The grand stairs were in front of them, huge and also made of patterns of dark and light stone. As she walked further into the house, she could see that the room to the left of the stairs was a gargantuan sitting room, accessorized with large, poufy couches and arm chairs and a fire that was cackling merrily in the hearth. She threw an inquisitive glance at Malfoy.

He shrugged. “The house elves were informed of guests. I guess they cleaned and lit the fires of the house.”

She looked to the right and saw a vast dining room, complete with a long, polished mahogany table that could seat fifteen people on each side. There was a pale green runner going down the wood surface, edged with silver, topped off with crystal dinner ware and candle holders, that wept diamonds. The tall candles were lit, although it wasn’t needed because the massive diamond and crystal chandelier that hung above the table was illuminating much light. As she peered in closer, Hermione saw that the room was much bigger than what she thought because the table only took up one side, and the other looked as though it was used for entertaining when company was over.

“The ballroom is further along on the left,” Draco said, nodding towards the sitting room.

“You have a ballroom?” Harry asked incredulously.

“Every manor does,” Draco answered, shrugging nonchalantly. The tall blonde began to walk up the steps. “I’ll show you to your rooms. The house elves will bring up your luggage.”

They followed him up the grand staircase. Hermione let her hand slide along the shiny banister, musing about the irony that a muggle born had touched an object in the infamous “Malfoy” household. Lucius would turn in his grave, if he were dead.

They reached the landing and were greeted by a long corridor that went off on separate ways, lined with family portraits and sconces. Draco opened the door that was right before them and motioned Meier and Ferro inside.

“These are your rooms,” he told them. “Your house elf if Henria. Call her if you happen to be in need of anything.”

The two faeries nodded and walked inside, shutting the double doors behind them.

The remaining four walked down the corridor to their left until Draco stopped five doors down from the room Meier and Ferro were in.

“Potter, Weasley, you can have this one,” Draco said, pushing open a door. Hermione looked over the three boys to see into the room.

It was rather large, consisting of matching queen sized four poster beds, draped with emerald green sheets. There was also a large fireplace and a door that most likely led to the bathroom.

“My Great- Uncle Damien died in this room,” he told them nonchalantly, leaning against the doorframe. “Well murdered really.”

Both Harry and Ron paled considerably and Harry threw a wary glance around room before questioning Draco. “Who killed him?”

Draco shrugged and answered. “His wife.” He motioned for them to walk inside, which they did hesitantly. “Good night Potter, Weasley.”

Before they could turn around to reply, Draco had slammed the door shut and was tugging Hermione by her wrist further down the hallway. They passed an opening to an upstairs sitting room and three more doors until they reached her room. He turned the silver doorknob and the door swung open without a sound, unlike Harry and Ron’s door.

He ushered her inside while levitating her trunk in after. He had given her a lavish room it seemed, because compared to the other’s rooms, hers was overly large and richly furnished. In the middle of the room, a large king sized, four poster bed stood. The emerald green curtains that went around it were drawn to the corners. A bedside table stood next to it, with a decorative lamp on it‘s surface.

A fireplace roared on the wall opposite the bed, surrounded by two large, arm chairs, upholstered in a deep green fabric. The coffee table was low and sleek. A huge wardrobe was opposite her, next to a door, which inevitably led into an even more lavish bathroom. A bay window was on the other side of the door, the moon shining through the glass panes. All of the furniture was a dark wood and provided a stunning contrast with the shades of dark green.

“Did someone die in this room too?” Hermione asked dryly, dropping her bag on the floor and giving the place a glance over a second time.

“No,” Draco answered. With a flick of his wand, her trunk was beside her bed. “No one’s really stayed in this room.”

“Odd,” she said softly, running her slim fingers over the wood of the bed. “It’s such a nice room.”

The blonde shrugged and watched as she pulled a book from her bag, settling down in one of the chairs by the fire. As he made to leave she spoke.

“Why’re you doing this?” she asked.

He turned back around and saw that, instead of the books in her lap, she had her knees drawn up to her chest and her arms wrapped about them.

“You asked me this the other night,” Draco told her, his voice cold.. “My answer is still the same.”

“With me, I mean,” Hermione elaborated. She turned her amber eyes on him. “Why have you been so… I don’t know. You don’t hate me anymore, I suppose. If you did, I’d be in the worst room right now, wouldn’t I?”

He didn’t answer her, unsure of what to say in order to show her that he actually had feelings for her and keep his pureblood, not to mention Malfoy, dignity and pride.

She continued, as if she hadn’t noticed his lack of response. “Aren’t you worried about a mudblood defiling the house of your family?”

“I was going to burn the place down anyway,” Draco answered, folding his arms over his broad chest.. He had to refrain an amused smile at the dark scowl that she threw him.

Hermione turned back around in her seat and pulled a book into her lap. This one was particularly fascinating, mainly about Norse mythology. It also happened to explain and give her some more answers about what Voldemort meant about the number nine. As always, it only took her a few seconds to get absorbed into the book, and she didn’t notice that Draco had moved across the room to stand behind her.

She felt his warm breath on her neck before she heard him speak and the tiny hairs on her skin stood up.

“You need rest, Granger,” he said softly. He reached around her and pulled the book from her fingers, setting it down on the floor next to the chair. “Even you are prone to exhaustion.”

Sighing, Hermione had to acknowledge that he did have a point. She looked a little paler than usual and dark circles were beginning to appear under her eyes more frequently. Not to mention that she felt more physically drained than she had in months.

“I never thought I’d say this, but you’re right,” Hermione told him. She turned in her seat to face him. “I-”

Whatever she was going to say caught in her throat when her eyes landed on his face. The moonlight was splashed across his body, making his skin glow. Draco looked eerily and heart wrenchingly beautiful at that point.

He leaned in, using the armrest to support his weight as he came closer to the confused girl in front of him. All he wanted to do at that point was wrap a hand in her luscious hair and pull her to him.

Hermione blinked, hoping it would help clear her head but it only made her conscience worse. “Malfoy, I don’t-”

Draco interrupted her with a kiss, one far from gentle and rather harsh but full of the passion and other emotions that he felt for her. Hermione seemed shocked for a moment, before she opened her lips and let his tongue sweep the cavern of her mouth and dance with her own tongue. She curled her fingers into his long hair, pulling him closer to her in a desperate attempt to feel more, feel anything more than what she wanted it to be.

Wrapping his arms around her waist, Draco lifted her and moved so that she was sitting on the armrest with his body nestled between her thighs. He felt her gasp into his mouth as she felt his need and arousal for her press against her center, and instead of pulling away like he thought she would, she moved so that their bodies were flush against each other.

A moment later however, Hermione pulled away abruptly, her chest falling with her rapid breaths and her eyes glazed with her lust.

“What are you doing?” she asked, almost hysterically. “What’re we doing?”

Draco knew at that moment, that it was easier for her to deny that she actually may feel something for him, because she wasn’t supposed to trust him, and most certainly wasn’t supposed to snog him and enjoy it. It was simple for her to think that he just wanted to shag her, because a relationship was almost unfathomable between them.

So he decided to make it easy for her, until he decided that he would finally take her for his own. Draco did what he did with almost every girl who had thought that he had wanted something more with her, other than sex.

“I’ve always wanted to see what you taste like Granger,” he said with a sneer, trying his best to hide his anger at her rejection.

Hermione’s eyes flashed with fury and she bent down, picked up the heavy book, and hurled it at him. If he had expected that type of behavior from her, Draco would’ve moved, but he hadn’t, so the large tome struck him in his shin.

Cursing her, he clasped his hands over his injured leg and hobbled over to the door as she ranted at him.

“Get out!” she yelled. “I’m tired of you messing around with my emotions and I’m sick of your perverted games!”

“It’s not a fucking game!” he snarled at her, standing straight as the pain subsided in his leg. “If you didn’t believe that I’ve changed, why didn’t you tell me so? Why don’t you tell me now, Granger? That you think I’m twisted and that I’m everything you hate?!”

Her eyes widened at his accusation. “Malfoy-”

“Open those god damn eyes of yours!” he continued, his voice harsh. “ And instead of looking at something, fucking see it!”

“What’s that supposed to mean?!” Hermione yelled back.

Draco looked as though he was going to explain, but instead threw up his hands, as if in defeat, and walked out, slamming the heavy door behind him. The painting above the fireplace rattled in his wake.

“Well excuse me,” said a haughty looking woman in the portrait with long black hair. She was obviously upset about her frame being rattled about. “What a dismal temper that young man has!”

Hermione dropped in the chair, her head in her hands, trying desperately to figure out what she felt, what she wanted, and what he meant.

Chapter 13: Apples and Trees
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READ THIS!
-Hello, it’s blackroserei (this is like my first a/n ever) I just wanted to give you guys a heads up. Some of the upcoming chapter is a bit cheesy so beware! But sometimes I like that sort of thing, so I decided to leave it in. Enjoy and thank you for reviewing!


Apples and Trees


"I ran down to the forests edge
To see the faeries games of plight
Instead, startled they, by my human tread
And vanished into starry night

These beings of lovely, beauty told
Show lives plagued by deathly strife
Left me an apple of shining gold
And the ambrosia of sweet nectar life"

-M.E sig 1991 "Fey"


Hermione was in the Malfoy library, once more researching the significance of the number nine. She didn’t have a lot of feasible information at that point, which could aid them in trying to find out what the nine signified. Hearing footsteps approach her from behind. Hermione turned around, expecting Harry or Ron. Instead her eyes met the figure of Draco Malfoy.

They looked at each other in awkward silence for a moment before he turned back around and walked back to the door, undoubtedly to leave her to her work.

“Your father was a hypocrite!” Hermione called out after him, wanting to give him a reason to stay. She felt a desperate need to have him near her, even if they were arguing.

To her relief, he turned back around with a slim eyebrow raised. “Why is that Granger?”

She contained a pleased smile and bit her lips before answering. “He condemned muggles as slovenly, incompetent and below the race of purebloods. But as I looked for information, I noticed that the infamous library of the Malfoy’s contains many books by muggle authors. So-”

“-why are they gracing the bookshelves of Malfoy Manor?” Draco finished for her. He slid onto the wooden table and seemed relaxed, now that the tension had been transferred to another subject. “I’ve said the same thing about Pansy’s robes. I have to say that it makes little sense, so I’ll explain it in the only logic that I can.”

Hermione quirked her lips, as if to challenge him and nodded as a sign for him to keep talking.

“A chef,” he continued, laying down on the table so that he was looking at the ceiling that was enchanted to look like the night sky. “They’re good enough to cook your food but you don’t converse with them.”

“If muggles aren’t good enough to live, look at, or touch, how can their literature possibly be good enough to read?”

“I asked my father something similar to that once,” Draco said. “He told me that there were some exceptions, that the majority of mud- …muggles, are unintelligent. I didn’t understand…”

She bit her lip. “He didn’t give you a very good explanation.”

“There is no explanation in brainwashing,” Draco snapped at her, his voice getting angry. “You’re taught to think one thing and there’s nothing else to know. You don’t question it.”

“You’ve questioned it,” Hermione told him softly.

He snorted, and his voice held a strange bitterness as he spoke. “Because of you.”

“What?”

He sat up and leaned on his side, resting his head in his hand so that he look straight at her.

“You’ve challenged everything that I’ve ever been taught,” Draco explained, his eyes cold. “And since our first year, I’ve hated you for it. You’ve crushed the only world I’ve ever known.”

“The world you know is delusional,” Hermione said casting her eyes downwards.

After a few moments of heavy silence, Hermione dared a glance over at Draco. He was, strangely, running the tip of his finger over the edge of a glass, nearly filled to the brim with water that had appeared a couple of seconds before. He was looking at it as if he had something to say. But whether it was to the cup or to her, she didn’t know.

“Water,” he said softly, pushing the glass away from him. He abruptly took her hand in his larger one. He intertwined her fingers with his own and Hermione looked up, surprised with this gesture. “Water is polar- simple chemistry- with both negative and positive charges. Water is one of the strongest elements, Granger, eroding metal, clearing soil, extinguishing fire, made of opposites. Does it seem funny that we, so different, have come together now?”

“Chemistry Malfoy?” Hermione asked wryly, raising an eyebrow. “Isn’t that too muggle for you? Besides, I’ve come to help others, and you’ve come to help yourself. There’s nothing complicated about it.”

“No, it is simple,” Malfoy agreed, his eyes suddenly going hard. “But I’m getting to the reason why I hate you, Granger. So bare with me.”

“You’re against everything I stand for. You have everything that I’ve ever wanted. A purpose, a choice that I never possessed, two paths for your future while all my life, I’ve only had one.”

“And that blood.” He stopped, tracing the slight raise in her skin where the veins in her hand lay. “That dirty blood, that proved me wrong. You, Granger…you have destroyed the only world I’ve ever known, where you’re inferiority is always proven. With you it’s different. And that’s the real reason why I hate you, Granger. You’ve disproved everything that I thought I knew, taught to me by the only people who’ve ever shown me acceptance or anything close to love.”

There was silence for a moment, and Hermione felt oddly relieved. Swallowing the lump that had gathered in her throat, she spoke.

“Why are you telling me this now?”

Draco picked up a stray tendril of hair, holding it between his long fingers. “Because right now, all I can think about is your hair, and how it used to be. Like copper set on fire and how is was as beautiful as you are now. And it pains me because something so stunning shouldn’t be so filthy. The worst thing is, though, that no matter how much I try to convince myself that you’re below me, I can’t.”

If it had been any other day, a normal day, she would’ve reveled in his proclamation and taunted him that she was right with a smug expression on her face. Instead, her lips parted but nothing came out and the only thing that she wanted to do was either turn to flee or kiss him.

“What are you trying to tell me?” Hermione said, her voice angry when she didn’t mean it to be. She wanted to believe him, she really did, but her gut wouldn’t allow her to.

“Merlin, you are so naive!” he exclaimed incredulously. “Why can’t you just see things for what they really are and look through the farce that people put up?!.”

“I can see through them just fine,” Hermione answered coolly.

“Then why can’t you see what I’m trying to tell you?! Why must you insist on being so innocent and stupid?!”

“Now is not the time to call me names, Malfoy!” Hermione snapped at him. “Especially when you’re trying to get me to listen to your half-ass explanations!”

“If you weren’t so fucking blind Granger, I wouldn’t have to explain things to you!”

Hermione’s eyes flashed, remembering his harsh words from the night before. She snatched her bag and made a bee line to the door. His fingers encircled her forearm, preventing her from walking any further. She backed away from him until she was flush against the library wall. He followed.

“If you weren’t so blind,” Draco repeated. “You’d see that I actually like you, despite your annoying habits, your nagging, your psychotic obsession with books and the fact that you have the dirty blood that I’m supposed to hate. That I despise you and abhor you so much because you make me feel these things that I shouldn’t for someone so low. And all I can think is how dare you make me feel this way about you and not even feel the same way about me?”

For some reason, when we finally started this, I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I found myself watching you while you slept and caring about whether or not you were cold, when a couple of days before, I wouldn’t have given a damn. And all I can think is how you’re going to end up with someone like Potter or Weasley and I hate the fact that you make me feel like I don’t even have a chance with you, a mudblood, when you should be begging me for it.”

“Maybe that’s not what I want,” Hermione said, meeting his gaze. “Maybe I’m tired of doing what everyone expects me to do.”

He raised an eyebrow and unconsciously ran his tongue over his bottom lip. “What is it that you want?”

“Despite your annoying habits, Draco,” she told him. He shivered as the word rolled off her tongue. “I like you too. In spite of the fact that you’re a high maintenance, arrogant, self- centered, and prejudiced prat.”

“What do you want?” Draco repeated.

She looked up at him through her long lashes. “I want you to kiss me.”

Draco could never deny a beautiful woman.



“We’re leaving tomorrow night,” Meier announced at dinner, as the house elves brought food out to the table.

Hermione dropped her fork onto her china plate and received a nasty look from the elf setting her salad in front of her.

“Um…we’ve only been here for one day,” she said, looking at the faerie incredulously.

“I know Hermione,” Meier answered sharply. “I can do math.”

“Then you can explain why you totaled the number of days here wrong,” Hermione shot back. “Seeing that you can do math.”

“Ouch,” Harry muttered under his breath, putting a forkful of lettuce in his mouth when Meier glared at him.

“It’s for your safety,” Meier said angrily, his annoyed gaze still on Harry. “May I remind you that you’re the one who needs the most protection.”

“Moving around isn’t helping!” Hermione pointed out. She was about to continue but Ron took his chance and interrupted her.

“Well where else can we go to?” he asked. “We’re out of places to go.”

“It’s what he wants!” Harry joined in, his voice frustrated. “He wants to chase us, smoke us out! Like bees. So that he can get her!” He looked pointedly at Hermione, who rolled her eyes.

“First off, bees were a bad analogy. And he probably only want me because I’d be a lure for you.”

“Dumbledore said that you had something to do with him gaining immortality,” Ferro pointed out.

“The key?” Meier suggested, his eyes widening with surprise.

Hermione raised an eyebrow. “How do you know about the key?”

“I’m a faerie, Hermione,” Meier said, letting out a small laugh. “We all know about the key.”

“I don’t think that’s what Dumbledore meant,” Hermione pressed, spreading her napkin over her lap. Something fluttered from the fabric onto her knee and she picked it up, keeping it low so that the others couldn’t see it over the table.

With slightly trembling fingers, she unfolded the small piece of paper. Once she had smoothed it out, she faintly recognized the loopy, elegant handwriting.

Meet me at the bottom of the staircase.

10


As the others began to argue about whether she had to do with the mirror or not, she looked at Draco, who was sitting across from her. He gave her a small smirk before returning to his dinner.

“You have something that he wants,” Meier said.

“That’s obvious,” Ron grumbled under is breath.

Ferro ignored him. “You obviously know something about the Mirror or he needs you for something.”

At this point, Hermione fiddled with the beautiful pendant around her neck that Asriel had given her the other night. She watched as Meier’s eyes followed the fluid motion of her wrist to where her fingers were wrapped around the stone.

“Where’d you get that?” he asked the table going quiet at how serious his tone of voice was.

“Asriel,” Hermione answered, her voice soft. “He said that it was for me.”

“No faerie has been able to wear it,” Ferro told her, leaning over so that he could take the pendant in his hand. “Touch it yes, but wearing it is another matter. The last person to wear it was-”

“-Hermione,” Meier finished, his eyes as hard as stone.

She rolled her eyes. “Can we stop having this conversation now?”

Meier shrugged, although he was glaring at her as he did so. The salads then disappeared from the table and were replaced by plates of smoked salmon

“By the way,” asked Ron, who already had some fish in his mouth. “Who’s house are we going to next?”

“Mine,” Ferro answered simply.



At ten that night, Hermione stealthily made her way down the staircase, the candles along the walls lighting the way for her. She had to be careful not to stir any of the portraits from their sleep or else they would wake up the whole house. She froze, though, when she heard a door open.

Grumbling followed the creaking of the hinges and was followed by cursing when that person ran into something. Hermione quickly recognized the voice as Ron’s and closed her eyes as she mentally grimaced. Her stomach dropped to her knees when she realized that he was heading to her room and she held her breath as he knocked on the door. He frowned and tried the handle. Knowing him, he’d alert the whole house to the fact that she wasn’t in her room so she spoke up.

“I’m here, Ron.”

Hermione sat down on the stone steps and waited for him to approach her. She heard his footsteps before he sat beside her. She glanced over at him but turned red when she realized that Ron had no shirt on.

“Where’s your shirt?” she asked, her cheeks still flushed.

“You’ve seen me without a shirt on before, Hermione,” Ron pointed out, leaning back on the cold marble.

She threw him another look and noticed that his chest was muscular and chiseled. Just like Ma-

“Are you alright?” he asked, looking over at her. “You seemed…”

“Upset?” Hermione suggested. She rubbed the goose bumps on her arms. “I know.”

“I just wanted to see how you were,” Ron continued. “You don’t tell me much anymore and…it worries me.”

Hermione felt a pang of guilt and turned her head to give him a warm smile. “I’m sorry. This whole mission has just drained me. I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I’d be. But if you’re worried about us growing apart, don’t be. I’ll tell you everything…just give me time.”

“I just wanted to tell you…” He paused, chewing his lower lip. “I just wanted to say good night. I don’t want to see you look so exhausted in the morning.”

“Goodnight Ron,” she said, letting out a silent breath that she hadn’t known she’s been holding. The conversation could’ve gone on for much more time if he had pressed her about telling him everything. “I think I’ll sit out for a little bit.”

She listened as Ron got up. He laid his hand on her shoulder before he went back to his room. It was only when she heard the door close and the lock click, that she made her way down the rest of the staircase. Hermione reached the bottom and realized with a sinking feeling, as she looked around her, that it was completely dark and she had forgotten her wand.

She mentally scolded herself and was about to go upstairs to get it when long fingers roughly pulled her back against a hard chest. Her scream would’ve rang through the manor if it hadn’t been for the hand covering her mouth.

“It’s me,” said a familiar voice from the body pressed against her.

Sighing with annoyance and relief, Hermione pulled away and spun around to face him. “Did you have to scare me like that?”

Draco’s face was hard and she knew that he had heard her and Ron’s conversation. Instead of confronting her about it like she had expected, he wrapped his fingers around her wrist and led her through the large dining room and into a huge kitchen. Strangely, there was absolutely no one in the kitchen and she looked at the space curiously as they walked through.

He slowly pushed open the door with one hand and rested the other one on the small of her back to lead her outside. As they moved through the doorway, Hermione’s eyes widened and her breath momentarily caught in her throat.

They were standing in a magnificent, gargantuan garden filled with weaving path ways lined with hedges, flowering trees, and flowers colored with vivid hues that she had never seen before in her life. She could see now, that this was where the house elves decided to spend their time at night for many were sitting down on the flagstone paths and looking up at the velvety sky, studded with bright stars.

Smiling at her stunned reaction, Draco once more took her hand and led her down a path to their right until they were in the precise spot that he wanted. Again, Hermione looked around and she was speechless with the beauty of it.

Magnolia and Cherry Blossom trees were positioned to make a circle which the path led into. She looked up and noticed that their pink and white blossoms made up a stunning canopy, which allowed slivers of moonlight to permeate through and hit the ground.. The soft dirt was littered with fallen flowers.

“Beautiful,” Hermione said breathlessly, looking at a cherry blossom petal that landed on her open palm with an amazed smile.

A soft breeze went through and began a steady rainfall of flowers from over head.

“My mother’s,” Draco said, motioning for her to sit down.

She did and was surprised when a silver bowl, filled to the brim with large scarlet colored apples appeared in front of her. Taking one in her hand, Hermione bit into it, enjoying the sweet flesh and nectar that landed on her tongue. She turned her amber eyes on him as a signal to continue.

He sat down in front of her, taking an apple for himself. Draco looked at the fruit for a moment, before taking a large bite. As he finished, he resumed his story.

“She planted flowers,” he said, nostalgia glazing his eyes. “Well she liked to watch. Purebloods aren’t supposed to get their hands dirty. But she came up with the design for the garden because she hated what it looked like before. Apparently, my grandfather used to use this space for blasting practice.”

“Blasting practice on what?” Hermione asked.

“Let’s just say that sometimes muggles would go missing and never found.”

Hermione shivered with disgust and looked around, thinking of how something so beautiful was used for purposes so horrid.

“Anyway, she had the house elves plant everything. My mother placed charms on the plants so that they wouldn’t die, unless you want them to. She could never stand to see things die.”

“I’ve seen your mother once,” Hermione said softly, biting her bottom lip. “She’s beautiful.”

Draco scowled. “On the outside yes, but after years of constant pampering, she became very vain and somewhat self absorbed. My father wasn’t always around because he constantly catered to Voldemort, but it worked out. We weren‘t the perfect happy family, like some think.”

“You weren’t happy here?” she asked, her voice so incredulous that he knew she was trying not to be sarcastic. “In a place as beautiful as this?”

“Money can’t buy everything, you know.”

Hermione raised an eyebrow. “This is a shocker, coming from you.”

“I liked to be alone a lot,” he answered, giving her a small grin and ignoring her comment. “And nothing was enough to please my father. I’ve spent my whole life trying to please him and I keep coming up short of his Pureblood standards.”

“This certainly isn’t helping,” Hermione joked, motioning to the two of them.

“I’ve already sinned in his eyes by thinking of you,” Draco said, leaning in so that she could see the sincerity in his eyes. “Why not go the whole way?”

Hermione blushed and was thankful that he couldn’t see it in the darkness. He took her hand in his own and flipped it over so that her palm was up. He lightly traced patterns with his long fingers over her skin, traveling up and down her arm. She shuddered and closed her eyes. He felt her shiver and looked up. “What about you?”

“What about me?” Hermione asked, opening her eyes to look at him.

“Your parents…your childhood.”

“My child hood was nice. My parents met in college, when they were training to become dentists, at twenty. A year later, even though they hadn’t finished school, they married. Five years later, I was born.”

“Are your parents in love?” he asked, watching her face intently.

“Oh yes, very much so,” Hermione said, nodding. “My father was actually going to leave school to become an author but my mother persuaded him to finish. It was him who really got me into reading.” She played with a plant that sprang from the dirt beside her foot. “When I was five, he gave me a very old copy of The Lord of the Rings. It wasn’t until I was seven, in primary school, when I could actually begin to read it. It fascinated me though, this other world where the impossible happened. It gave me an escape from everyday life. It was through that master piece that I became infatuated with the thought of magic and other worlds.”

“From that day on, strange things started to happen, although they began small. Once, when I was eight, I levitated all of my furniture in my room.”

“Wow,” Draco said.

Hermione shrugged. “Almost four years later, Professor McGonagall came to tell us about Hogwarts.”

The two lapsed into silence, both watching the blossoms fall off of the trees and dance to the ground. Hermione was itching to ask him if he had heard her and Ron’s conversation but as always, Draco beat her to it.

“Was Weasley hitting on you earlier?” he asked, trying to sound nonchalant. She could tell that he had to mask the anger in his voice, though.

“No,” Hermione said, rolling her eyes. “So don’t even ask me if there‘s something going on between us.”

“How can someone not think that something’s going on between you two?” Draco countered.

She picked up another apple. “ I hoped that there’d be something between us at one point, but that feeling’s gone. He has made it very clear that he doesn’t want to be with me.”

“Are you that blind?” he asked, his eyebrows raised. “It’s obvious to anyone with two brain cells that Weasley is infatuated with you.”

“I don’t think so,” she said, shaking her head and giving him a grin. “We’re friends, Draco, nothing more. Besides, I agreed to come out here with you, didn’t I? That must mean something.”

Hermione sighed and laid back, looking up at the awning of brilliant flowers. He laid down beside but propped himself up on one elbow so that he could study her face.

“Didn’t this all happen a little too quickly?” she asked, her fingers toying with the fabric of her tee shirt.

“What do you mean?” the blonde questioned. His mercury eyes held an emotion that she couldn’t place.

“We weren’t even friends first, if you think about it. You come out and tell me that you like me, despite the fact that we’re enemies and then kiss me. I tell you the same. It’s all happened very fast.”

“I had to make up for lost time,” Draco answered. His long fingers played with the tendrils of hair that rested on the soft dirt ground. He wished that he could take a picture of her, so beautiful and serene.

“It’s just odd,” Hermione elaborated, shivering as he massaged her scalp. “We really had no basis to even begin with.”

“Basis? I think that the fact that I like you very much and you like me very much is a pretty good basis.”

Hermione shrugged. “Usually people who date are friends first. They get to know each other.”

“Well we aren’t those usual people are we?” Draco questioned, his eyes boring down into hers. “And believe it or not, I do know a lot about you, just like you do me. Your habits, your favorite book, what you do after class…It’s our job as enemies to know as much as we can about the other; it’s a war tactic.”

“You’re right,” Hermione told him softly, turning on her side so that she faced him directly. “We aren’t normal are we?”

“No, love,” Draco said, standing up to his full height. “We aren’t” He brushed some dirt from the back of his pants. When Hermione looked up, he was holding out his hand to her. She took it and Draco pulled her to her feet.

They walked back into the garden, joining the House Elves in watching the night sky. Draco wrapped along arm around her shoulders and pulled her against his hard chest.

“I never figured you to be a romantic,” Hermione said softly.

“I’m not. But I figured since this is the first ‘date’, I might as well try.”

She let out a laugh at his blunt comment. “I’m not really into cheesy stuff anyway. You’re lucky. Most girls are.”

“Ever wonder why I like you, Granger?” he asked, smirking as he used her last name. “Because you aren’t most girls. You have an opinion, a mind, and you aren’t bloody afraid to stand up to me and you certainly didn’t give a damn that I was, by far, the best looking guy in school.”

Hermione rolled her eyes with a grin at his arrogance. “Hmm, I sure.”

They laid like that outside, falling asleep until the sun rose over Malfoy Manor. Hermione woke up as the light hit her eyes and glanced around, seeing that Draco was still there with her. He’d hogged the blanket that she’d conjured for them. He awoke, as if sensing that she was looking at him. She grinned at him but that quickly fell when she heard a voice behind her.

“Well Ms. Granger and Mr. Malfoy. Is such behavior appropriate?”

Both turned to see a smirking Meier standing above them.

Oh bugger.



ANOTHER A.N!
As all of you probably know, Lord of the Rings is a trilogy by J.R.R Tolkein. I also have suggested reading. Tithe by Holly Black is one of my favorite books of all time- its where I got my inspirations of the faeries and creatures in my fanfic. If you like this story, nothing will please you more than her book.

Chapter 14: Blackout
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Blackout


Don't kid yourself
And don't fool yourself
This love's too good to last
and I'm too old to dream

Don't grow up too fast
And don't embrace the past
This life's too good to last
And I'm too young to care
- "Blackout" -Muse (my muse!)



The six of them, once more, were walking down a random street in the cold. Hermione pulled her thick jacket tighter around her slender body but was still shivering, despite the fact that she also had on one of Mrs.Weasley’s home-made knitted sweaters. The cold seemed to be persistent and permeated through all of her clothing anyway.

It shouldn’t be this cold on the eighth of November, Hermione thought glumly, kicking up a piece of the sidewalk that had been cracked from the rest of the path. It felt like they were in the fitful throes of a fully furious winter, but without the snow. And usually, she was warm with the clothing that she had on now. Hermione could see her breath and it was getting to a point where her fingers, although she wore warm gloves, were starting to numb.

“You okay?” Ron asked, putting a hand on her shoulder since it seemed as though she was going to topple over any second. Hermione could feel Draco’s glare at Ron over her head.

She steadied herself, using the red head as a brace, before she continued walking. “I’m fine,” Hermione assured him. “It’s just that…the cold has never made me this faint before.”

“You’re not all human now,” Meier explained with a smugness to his voice that suggested he withheld information from her purposely. “Your senses are heightened, including the coldness or warmth of the weather. You should’ve worn more clothes.”

“I would have, if I had known,” Hermione said irritably through chattering teeth, scowling at the silver haired faeries back. She had to be careful about what she said to him. He had threatened blackmail after he’d caught her and Draco if she wasn’t polite from here on out. “Besides, only an idiot would make us walk in this cold when we could just floo, Apparate, or take the Knight Bus. We even could’ve driven.”

“More to your training,” she heard Meier answer from in front of her. “You need to learn endurance and become immune to your surroundings. Plus, faeries don‘t do well with metal.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “I highly doubt that this helps.”

Meier didn’t answer her and Hermione let out a little sigh that seemed to crystallize in the air in front of her. Draco was suddenly next to her, having discreetly placed himself in between her and Ron.

“Lean against me,” he whispered hotly in her ear, slipping a slim arm around her waist. He saw her throw a worried glance at Harry and Ron and instead of reassuring her, tugged her to him.

Hermione let herself fall into Draco’s body, enjoying the heat that seemed to swelter from his skin. She looked up at him with raised eyebrows.

“Warming charms?” she asked almost inaudibly, noticing finally, that he showed no symptoms of being affected by the cold.

He nodded and grinned. “Upset that I thought of it first ?”

Hermione scowled and instead burrowed herself closer to him, her face pressed into his hard chest. He rubbed his hands up and down her covered arms in attempts to warm her since he could feel her shivering against him. She closed her eyes at the contact, which sent shudders down her spine. After a moment, Hermione looked up and noticed that his usually silver eyes had darkened considerably to the color of charcoal.

“What’s wrong?” she asked him, the bickering between the other four in the group masking their conversation. She had learned by now that the shade of his eyes most likely related to his current mood.

Draco looked down at her then, meeting her inquiring gaze. “I’m just thinking about how much I want to touch and kiss you right now.”

Hermione’s cheeks flushed to a light shade of pink and she pulled her lower lip between her teeth. He gave her a strange look before continuing.

“How did you know something was wrong?”

Hermione blushed to a deeper shade of pink. “I erm…noticed, since we started the mission, that the shade of gray that your eyes are always change.”

“You noticed that small of a thing?” he asked, smiling. “I didn’t know you paid that close of attention.”

“It’s pretty drastic,” Hermione protested. “It’s not like I stalked you or stared at you all the time. Your eyes turn from the lightest shade of silver to an almost black like color. And I’m a pretty observant person.”

Instead of commenting on it, like Hermione suspected he would, Draco pulled her even closer and pressed a warm kiss to the top of her head

“Call it lust, Hermione,” he said, his lips brushing the skin of her neck. “That’s the only time when my eyes go dark.”

Hermione smiled. “I thought it was because you’re angry. Your eyes were dark most of the time you’ve been around me for the past couple of nights.”

“Maybe you’re not as observant as you thought,” he whispered, mainly into her hair.

It was then, when the they had stopped talking, that they noticed that the others were beginning to go silent and that Ron and Harry weren’t engaged in their conversation anymore. Reluctantly, Hermione moved away from Draco, her left side feeling oddly empty as the cold rushed back to her body. He gave her a look that she couldn’t decipher but was probably one of warning because almost as soon as they parted, Harry fell into step with Hermione.

“Heard you couldn’t sleep last night,” he told her, staring straight ahead. He slipped his gloved hands into his pockets.

“I wonder who told you,” Hermione said sarcastically, looking at Ron, who was now beside Malfoy, discussing something rather heatedly.

Harry nodded. “Is there something wrong?”

“Not really,” Hermione answered, shaking her head. “Nothing that isn’t already obvious.”

“I know how you feel.”

“I know Harry.” She bit her lip and looked up at her best friend of seven years. “I’m just scared, that’s all. And you know that it takes much to scare me, other than the risk of being expelled.”

“Don’t be,” Harry said. He gave her a crooked smile. “You have some of the best protection around.”

“But he’s gotten to you,” Hermione pointed out. “And you had Dumbledore protecting you most of the time.”

“Yes, well I did things that put myself at risk,” Harry countered, wiping the lenses of his glasses on the hem of his thick sweater. “Besides, you’re much smarter than me.”

Hermione shrugged and kicked another rock. “I don’t know, Harry. Sometimes I feel like I should’ve listened to you and Ron in the first place and stayed at Hogwarts. What if I’ve endangered everything just by being here?”

Harry put a comforting arm around her shoulders, shushing her. “Nothing is going to happen Hermione. And we’re glad that you came or else it wouldn’t have been so much fun. Not to mention that we wouldn’t know half as much as we do now.”

They were silent for a moment and Hermione decided to lean her head back and look at the stars. They weren’t bright as she thought they may’ve been. Harry’s clipped tone of voice was what brought her out of her reverie.

“I think that Malfoy has even warmed up to you,” he said dryly.

Hermione’s heart quickened it’s pace and she felt her face heat up. “What makes you say that?”

“I don’t know,” Harry answered with a roll of his shoulders. “He hasn’t made any nasty comments lately, especially to you. Do you happen to know what that’s about?”

“Er…no,” Hermione said nervously, hoping that the chattering of her teeth covered up the obvious lie in her voice.

“I think he fancies you,” he continued, dropping his voice as he looked at the tall blonde who had stopped talking to Ron at that point. “He looks at you a lot, you know.”

“Really?” she asked, trying her best to sound surprised and interested.

Harry gave her a calculating look. “You should really start to notice these things, Hermione. Sometimes you’re oblivious to the obvious.”

It struck her hard that what Harry said was what Draco had said the other night, when he told her to see things for what they really were. “Really?” she repeated.

“Yes, really,” Harry said, rolling his eyes.

Hermione let out another soft sigh, her brow slightly furrowed with concentration. “I guess I should be more observant.” She paused, chewing on her lip. “Funny, I always thought myself as an observant girl.”

“You are, when you see things that you want to see. As soon as you see something that worries you or confuses you, you dismiss it by using excuses.”

“Mmmm…” she said thoughtfully, really thinking about what was said to her. “My, I think you’ve just proven me wrong Mr. Potter.”

He flashed her a grin. “Expect more of it, my dear Hermione.”

Ferro abruptly stopped them as they walked onto the sidewalk in front of a large two story house. It looked old and dilapidated, like no one had inhabited it for years. The large bay windows in the front of the house were boarded up with rotten wood and withered flowers littered the dead and brown lawn. The sides of the house looked as though they were sagging inwards, almost as if it was holding it’s breath for something. The Victorian style iron fence needed cleaning and the rusty hinges of the gate groaned loudly as it moved with the harsh wind.

“We’re here,” Ferro called out from in front of them.

Everyone, either physically or mentally, wrinkled their nose at the house. Hermione could practically smell the decaying wood in the air. She heard Draco mutter some insults under his breath and she gently elbowed him in his side. He threw her “you know I’m right look” before his face set into a stoic expression.

“It’s charming,” Harry said, forcing a smile.

The black haired faerie shrugged with indifference and kicked the rusted gate open with the toe of his boot. As they walked down the cracked path that led to the front door, Hermione turned her head to get a full look at the yard. There was debris everywhere, as though his lawn was the local trash mine of the town. What was odd, though, as she walked by, was that everything looked strategically placed, as if someone had purposely set them there for an ulterior motive.

Hermione watched as Ferro bent down to pick up a crumbling leaf. He closed his fingers around it and when he opened them, there was brilliant, shiny brass key in his palm instead. It had no notches on it, like a regular key. Eyes widening in amazement, she gasped as Ferro breathed over the brass and notches immediately appeared in the metal. The faerie then stuck the key in the lock but left it there instead of turning it. Ferro stepped back from the house looking up at it before it seemed to give a shuddering heave as the door swung open.

They followed the black haired faerie through the sinking doorway and for the second time in the past thirty seconds, Hermione let out another astonished gasp as they stepped inside the house. The filthy inside, which she had expected, was quite different from the scenario in her mind.

They had entered a very nice home, with polished stairs to their left as they entered, that led to the upper story. From there, they entered a large living room with a fireplace on the opposite wall. He had nice, overstuffed leather couches whose deep color complimented the dark wood of the sleek coffee table and entertainment system built around a ridiculously large television. This all left Hermione rather speechless because she thought that he’d be a lot more old fashioned, considering that he was born in the nineteenth century.

The modern kitchen was adjacent to the living room with a breakfast bar. As Hermione peered into that room, she could see various pots bubbling and coking on the five burner range until Ferro ushered the five of them into a room to the left of the stairs.

“The dining room,” he said casually motioning around them.

It was in this room, other than the living room, where the large bay windows were. He let them wander back into the living room where he dropped his backpack on the wooden floor. He left in the direction of the kitchen, and then was back in a flash with six steaming mugs of hot chocolate.

“Sit down,” he said, almost impatiently, motioning towards the leather couches

“Nice,” Harry commented, looking around once more. “I can’t believe that you have a telly.” He stared at the television as he spoke

Hermione nodded in agreement as Ron and Malfoy looked at them with confusion. “Me too. I thought that you’d be…er…well, more old fashioned.”

“I upgrade every ten years,” Ferro said shrugging. “Your rooms are upstairs, by the way. I had Hilde make them up for you.”

“Hilde!” he called out, getting up and draping his long coat over the back of the couch. “The guests are here!”

“Who’s Hilde?” Hermione asked, looking at the painting that he had hung over the fireplace. “Girlfriend?”

Ferro scowled at her. “Housekeeper. She sleeps down here in the fifth room.”

Loud clanging came from a part of the kitchen that couldn’t be seen from their position and then mumbling. A woman stepped into the room, fussing over the apron that was tied around her.

She looked to be around her early fifties, in human years, which meant that she was probably quite old although she was devoid of any winkles. Long black hair fell down her back with long streaks of gray in it. She was also short, just under five feet and had large, black eyes. Pointed ears knifed through her hair and as she frowned, folds of skin appeared around her mouth and forehead. The faerie woman’s skin was the shade of a powdery blue, striking in the contrast of her dark colored Victorian styled dress.

“Bloody apron,” Hilde fretted, trying to fit the piece of fabric over the fullness of her skirts. “This never lays properly.

Ferro cleared his throat loudly and Hilde looked up, blinking owlishly with bewilderment. The housekeeper nearly jumped for joy when she saw Ferro standing before her.

“A little hard of hearing,” the black haired faerie explained from the corner of his mouth as Hilde approached them.

“Ferro!” she exclaimed, petting his cheeks as if he were a child. “I wasn’t expecting you ‘till tomorrow! What happened?”

“We had to leave a day early,” he told her, giving her a hug. “I called you when we came in. Did you not hear me?”

Hilde shook her head as she stepped back to examine the rest of the group. “That one is too thin,” she decided, pointing to Harry. He flushed and looked at Hermione, who gave him a sympathetic look. He was looking a bit on the skinny side. “Don’t worry, a night of my cooking and you’ll gain as much weight as you can bare.”

“Are the rooms made up?” Ferro asked, pointing upwards. “ I know it’s a day early-”

“Of course,” Hilde interrupted, smiling. “Those rooms are always made. And the extra beds are there, as you wanted.”

“Thank you,” Ferro said. “These are our guests,” he continued, moving to the side so that she could get a better look at them.

“Meier, you already know. Ronald Weasley,” he said, pointing to the red head. “Draco Malfoy-”

“Is he your brother, Meier?” Hilde asked, interrupting Ferro once more, who scowled. “I never knew that your parents had another child-”

The silver haired faerie shook his head. “He’s mortal. Can’t you smell it in his blood?”

“I’m getting older,” she said, laughing. “My senses are not what they used to be.” She waved her hand, signaling for Ferro to continue.

Scowling, Ferro did so. “Harry Potter and Hermione Granger.”

“Well aren’t you a beauty,” Hilde said, examining Hermione.

She blushed. “Thank you.”

“You look like a mortal that we once knew,” the housekeeper continued, giving her a warm smile. “You have her name also…” she paused as if thinking but then proceeded. “Are you and Ferro dating? Because he really needs female company more often-”

“No we’re not,” Ferro answered quickly, laughing nervously. “And I have plenty of company Hilde. Family is always staying here.”

Hilde rolled her eyes dramatically and then gave everyone a brilliant smile. “Well dinner will be ready soon, because as always, I cook extra.”

She then turned and walked back into the kitchen, cooking in the spot that couldn’t be seen from the living room. Hermione felt a sharp tug at her gut because Hilde reminded her so much of her own mother and Mrs. Weasley. Ignoring her homesick thoughts, she glanced around again, only to notice that both Ron and Draco were still entranced by the television which was off at the moment.

“What is it again?” Draco asked, pulling on Hermione’s sleeve.

“A television.”

“Well,” he said expectantly. “What does it do?”

“It’s hard to explain,” Hermione said, her voice close to exasperation. “It’s like moving pictures but with sound and for a longer duration of time.”

He nodded with comprehension, considering that he knew some of what she was talking about. He then pointed to the cordless telephone that rested on the coffee table.

“And that?”

“Honestly, why haven’t you taken Muggle Studies?” she asked, annoyed. “It’s a telephone. It allows people to talk to one another from far away.”

“Why can’t you use owls?” Draco asked.

“Because.”

“So how do you readily communicate?”

“Using the telephone,” Hermione repeated. “Say, if you were in England and I was in China, I could talk to you instantly. On the telephone, we can talk as we are now, without having to wait for owls to return with replies.”

Draco shrugged, trying to seem indifferent when he was really impressed. “Convenient,” he said simply.

“Muggles aren’t as stupid as you think,” Hermione said smugly, relishing in the fact that he could see the point that she had been trying to make for the past seven years.

“Let’s watch the telly,” Harry suggested, reclining in the leather armchair that he had decided to sit in by the fire.

Meier shook his head. “We can’t, not yet. We need to keep focused on what we were sent to do. We can keep this mission under two weeks if we remain on track and use our time wisely.”

Harry scowled at the faerie as he pulled some notes from his bag that he had charmed back to it’s original size.

“First we need to know what everything means,” Meier said, looking meaningly at Hermione. “Ms. Granger?”

She sighed, frustration laced in her voice, and pushed herself up from the comfortable couch. Taking out the notes that she and Draco had taken, along with her older information, Hermione began to talk.

“First, let’s go over all we know. For one, there is a Black Mirror that Voldemort is in possession off, that originally belonged to Queen Mab. He wants to use the mirror to find immortality. To get immortality, he needs a key. Second, our dear enemy wrote Uruz, Isa, and Hagalaz on an alley wall. Isa and Hagalaz both have to do with ice.”

“Now before I go one, I want to mention the vamperum-”

“Who told you about them?” interrupted Ferro, his eyes widening.

Hermione shrugged. “Asriel. Do you want to explain?”

“They’re a race of beings in another world, only brought out in times of need, usually for darker causes,” Ferro explained. “We were once one, us and them, but they did something unthinkable so we decided to rid the world of them .”

“They’re imprisoned in their world, locked in by the rune of Uruz,” Hermione said simply. “Conveniently, one of the runes that Voldemort wrote in his message to us. And in order to unlock them, Voldemort needs to invoke Uruz and then he’ll have his own little personal army of ice. And that’s where Isa comes in, along with hail. At the end of the world, it will be covered in nothing but cold-”

“Ice,“ Draco finished, his brow furrowed, remembering what Hermione had told him. “The cold vamperum. So Voldemort is trying to-”

“Pierce the boundary between two worlds,” Hermione told them. “But he needs Uruz to do it. I think that’s what he’s also looking for… along with a key that will open the mirror so he can gain his immortality.”

Hermione paused, using a finger to flip through her notes before finding what she needed. She pulled out the page she had written on Uruz and how it was used to pierce the worlds. She handed it to Harry so he could pass it around

“To grant him immortality,” Hermione explained. “ he needs the key to unlock the mirror. The queen did not go into detail, but I believe that it gives you directions of some kind in order to give you never ending life. I don’t know what the key is that unlocks the mirror…it needs an object with a mixture of one component from this world and another from the other side to unlock it’s secrets.”

“So,” Harry began, looking over her notes again. “Voldemort needs a key to unlock the mirror to get immortality. And he needs Uruz to pierce the veil of worlds and unleash the Vamperum, which he most likely wants as a way to cleanse the world in the way he sees fit.”

“Yes,” Hermione said, the corners of her lips curving into a smile.

“So you still don’t think that you have something to do with the key?” Meier pressed, his intense gaze off of her research and on her face.

“I think I may know something he needs to find the key,” she said. “Or he needs to lure someone out who knows about the key. For all we know, he may want one of you two,” she finished, nodding to the two faeries. “And I don’t think that we need to worry about Uruz. He needs someone who knows how to pierce the worlds.”

“Who knows how?” Ron asked.

“Who ever created the key.”

They all looked to Meier, who held up his hands in defeat. “I know nothing more of the key than what you do.”

“Malfoy and I did research on the number nine,” she said carefully. “We found various clues. In Norse mythology there are nine worlds, eight of them centered around ours. The only other thing we could think of was Sagittarius, the ninth sign of the zodiac. Those who are born under Jupiter or Sagittarius, are born between November 22 and December 21. The only thing we could draw was that he plans to open the mirror sometime between then. But seeing as it’s the beginning of November, we can’t understand why he would warn us so early.”

With that, Hermione sat back down, folding her arms over her chest as she did so. Ron had just handed her notes to Meier, who was flipping through them and reading them with a certain precision, causing an anxiety in her that had never been brought on by another before. Scowling, she cursed his ability to make her so nervous when she should care less of what he thought.

Suddenly, three loud, heavy knocks landed on the wooden door and Hermione jumped as the rapping shot through the whole house. Ron snickered at her as Ferro stood up to open the door. She watched him disappear into the foyer and heard the faerie greet someone happily in another language before shutting the door. After a moment, Ferro returned with the visitor beside him.

“Everyone, this is my brother, Glacio,” he said, nodding his head towards his sibling who stood behind him.

Hermione, although she was starting to get used to the feeling, felt her heart stop once more as she looked at the brother of Ferro.

Glacio had on strange clothing, similar to Malfoy’s outfit, with black breeches coupled with a black sweater that clung to his broad chest. A trench coat of the same color fell to his feet, which were clad in worn, black boots. Glacio and Ferro seemed to be identical in their facial features, although there were some differences. Glacio’s eyes, which were a liquid sapphire blue, were more slanted. His black hair, which looked a deep green in the light he was standing in, fell almost to his waist and half of it was tied up. It was braided back from his striking face where it then leaked into loose waves. Creamy skin the color of coffee and caramel also made the hue of his eyes and hair a lot more noticeable. He was taller than Ferro but had a much less foreboding air around him. If so, he was more beautiful to look at than his brother because he looked exotic.

“Hello,” Glacio greeted warmly, giving them all a slight nod. “Glad to see you again, Meier.”

The silver haired faerie had gotten up and was now giving Glacio a hug. “Yes, we haven’t seen each other since the end of the second world war!”

Hermione exchanged amused glances with Harry at how old their guides really were.

“These are the humans I talked to you about,” Ferro told his brother, his eyes trained on the other four. “We are to specifically watch over Ms. Hermione Granger, as Dumbledore has told us.”

Glacio peered at her with his intense gaze. “ Our grandparents knew a girl of the same name.”

Hermione cleared her throat in irritation and straightened her back. “Really?”

“Is this her descendant?” Glacio asked, turning back to face his brother. “If so, you should’ve told me. I stopped in Romania on my way back to see Hermione. She would‘ve liked to hear of some family not six feet under.”

She felt her cheeks go red as the other looked at her with confusion. Mentally groaning, she turned to face them and prepared herself to answer their questions.

“How is she still alive?” Ron asked her. “Wasn’t she alive when Shakespeare was around?”

Hermione slowly nodded, biting her lip in anxiety as a throbbing in her head that could only be related to the beginnings of a migraine started She was actually trying to mask her surprise that Ron knew who Shakespeare was, let alone what period of time he lived in.

“So you are related to her?” the red head continued.

She shrugged, as if the subject meant nothing to her, and turned her amber eyes back on Ferro and his sibling. With his annoyed gaze still on her, Ferro called out to the cooking housekeeper. “Set out another plate Hilde! Glacio has come to stay!” She let out, what sounded like a squeal of surprise before an increase in the clanking of pots being pulled out was heard.

“Make yourself at home,” the faerie told his brother, motioning towards the couches. “You stay here enough as it is. I’ll bring your luggage up later.”

Glacio nodded his thanks as he unwound his gray scarf from around his neck. He draped it over the back of the loveseat and sat down in the armchair across from Hermione. His azure eyes moved over her in both a calculating and interested way, as if trying to find out who and what she was.

“You four are students at Hogwarts?” he asked, leaning back in his seat. He slipped one toffee colored hand into his overcoat pocket and drew out a pack of cigarettes.

There was silence before Harry nodded and replied. “In our seventh year actually.” Ron and Draco were too busy staring curiously at the cigarettes in the faerie’s hand to answer.

“Really?” Glacio asked, raising his brush stoke like eyebrows. “That’s when I stopped aging, actually. I think I attended Hogwarts for a period of time.”

“You did,” Ferro confirmed, going over to the fireplace and throwing a couple of more logs into the dancing flame. “We graduated in 1853, you in 1855.”

Hermione quickly did the calculations in her head while murmuring to herself. “So you all are162 years old and Glacio 160?”

“That sounds about right,” Meier said nodding.

“Why did you go to Hogwarts?” Draco questioned, his baritone voice soothing Hermione‘s starting headache. “Did you really need to learn about things that didn’t pertain to you?”

Glacio shrugged, putting a cigarette between his lips. He flicked his fingers, as if he was going to snap, but instead a flame appeared on the tip of his thumb. He lit the cigarette, blew out the fire, and took a deep drag before letting his hand drop over the arm rest. “The world was changing,” he said, his voice a little bitter. “Mortals were taking over more of the world, discovering our courts and our kingdoms.” He took another drag and puffed out a ring of smoke, watching it fade in the air. “It was either join the humans or blend with the wizarding world, which was also growing rapidly. Our family chose the wizarding world since wizards are used to strange occurrences, beings that aren’t human, not to mention magic. It meant expressing ourselves and our power instead of repressing it.”

Ron coughed, the smoke of the cigarette entering his lungs and Glacio looked up surprised. “If it bothers you, I’ll put it out. Nasty habit, it is, that I picked up while traveling.”

“I don’t even know what that is,” Ron answered, pointing at the offending object in Glacio’s hand. His eyes were watery from the strengths of his coughs.

“It’s a cigarette,” Hermione explained. “Basically tobacco rolled up in a paper cylinder. It ruins your lungs and has some other nasty side effect.”

“So why would you even smoke it?”

Glacio shrugged once more. “Habit. Addiction. Because sometimes it helps with emotional problems, like stress. People do it for different reasons.”

Ron nodded as Hermione questioned the faerie further. “I thought that smoking can cause faeries to die if done more than twice. Like when you guy’s skin burns after touching certain metals.”

Glacio looked at her with surprise, studying her as he stubbed out the cigarette on the sleeve of his overcoat. He flicked his fingers at the burn and it was gone. “You know a lot for one who isn’t part of our world,” he said, almost mockingly. “I-”

“No, most of us don’t smoke,” Meier answered, interrupting Glacio‘s oncoming comment. “It does cause us to die very quickly. Something about the ingredients. It feels like fire when you inhale it.”

“You have to remember that my mother was of the Nigerian fey,” Glacio said to Meier. “They’re different from you European kinds.”

The silver haired faerie rolled his eyes. “No. We all have the same restrictions. You don’t die because you remove the tobacco and put in those other herbs that that troll gives you in Spain.”

“So you and Ferro have different mothers?” Hermione asked, her eyes flickering back and forth between the two siblings.

Ferro nodded his head. “Our father was quite the romancer before he met Glacio’s mother. She was supposedly the most beautiful of all the African faeries and was boasted about quite often. Father went over there to see if it was true and it was. If she wasn’t Glacio’s mother, I’d probably wed her myself.”

Glacio made a face at his brother and pushed his hair back behind his ears before continuing. “He said that she had skin the color of chocolate and eyes as dark as night.”

“Where’re they now?” Hermione queried softly, her heart giving a little tug at hearing a love story. She had to keep from mentally berating herself for acting like Lavender.

All three shrugged, looking at each other for a hint of an answer. “Mexico, I think,” answered Meier.

“Where’s your mother?” she questioned, turning to look Ferro.

“America,” he answered simply.

Everyone lapsed into silence, which didn’t last for long, considering that Harry and Ron began to ask Glacio what he knew about the wizarding world. Hermione unconsciously leaned on Draco, who wrapped an arm around her waist. Their actions earned a raised eyebrow from Meier and a strange look from Ferro that she couldn’t identify, both of which she ignored.

“Are you going to face off with Voldemort?” Glacio inquired of Harry.

Harry nodded somewhat apprehensively. “We are.”

Glacio turned his head to talk to his older brother. “Can I come?” he asked. “I’ve always wanted to kill that fool and the imbeciles that follow him.”

“I have to talk with Dumbledore,” Ferro answered, glancing into the kitchen and noticing that the clattering of pots had quieted down significantly. “But that will have to wait ‘till tomorrow. Hilde is almost done with dinner and then we should all retire for the evening. It’s getting late.”

Hermione shivered as Draco’s long fingers intertwined and played with her own. They had to pull away from each other, rather abruptly, as Hilde came out of the kitchen to announce, cheerfully, that dinner was ready. Sighing, Hermione once more got up from her comfortable position on the couch and followed Ferro and Glacio into the dining room across the hall.

Pulling out an intricate wooden chair, Hermione sat down, only to be immediately surrounded on both sides by Harry and Ron, who were both drooling for food. She rolled her eyes and looked up to see Ferro gazing at her, rather intently.

“Yes?” she asked, somewhat annoyed.

He shook his head, as if trying to clear his head. “It’s just uncanny how much you look like Hermione…the one that we know. You even do some things the same.

“Like what, pray tell?” Hermione questioned, picking up her fork. She watched as his eyes landed on her hand and studied the fluid motion of her wrist.

“The way you handle things,” Ferro answered. “The things you say and the things you believe in. A lot of things about you remind me of her, Hermione, which only leads me to believe that you must be related to her in some way, fashion, or form.”

“Did anyone ever tell you that your exceeding observance is creepy?”

Ferro smiled in amusement. “I got that from my ex- girlfriend. But then again, you’re rather observant yourself. You, my dear Hermione, noticed a rather interesting attribute
about Mr. Malfoy’s eyes.”

Her gaze met the blonde’s over the table, and he was frozen like a deer in headlights. Everyone else had stopped what they were doing; Ron had even stopped devouring Hilde’s home made sour dough bread roll to stare at her. Harry blinked a couple of times, as if trying to understand why her name and Malfoy’s were even used in the same sentence.

“What is he talking about?” Ron asked icily after he had, thankfully, swallowed the food in his mouth.

“I er… kind of noticed,” Hermione began, her cheeks flushing to such a scarlet that it would put her red-head friend’s ears to shame, “that his eyes change the hue of gray they are, depending on his mood.” She timidly threw a glance at Draco, who seemed to be breathing again, but still in shock.

“You “kind of” noticed?” Harry asked, using his fingers to make quotations marks as he said “kind of”. “That’s something pretty small to notice.”

Hermione shrugged then, trying to look and act as nonchalant as she wished she felt, despite the fact that her heart was racing. “His eyes were really dark this one time, when we got into an argument,” she explained. “Of course I noticed. You would’ve too.”

Her unperturbed demeanor seemed to placate any angry emotions that her two friends were feeling, and they gave her suspicious glances and went back to eating the bread rolls.

She heard Draco let out an audible sigh of relief from the other side of the table and mentally told her stomach not to drop out beneath her. Unfortunately, as she braved a look at the three faeries, one at the end of the table, one across from her, and the last next to Draco, she noticed that they hadn’t been so easily fooled with her answer.

“So you two are dating?” Meier asked, his lips curving into a cruel smile as he raised his eyebrows. Draco scowled at the faerie’s attempt to prolong the subject and procrastinate as much arguing as he could.

“Gods no!” Hermione exclaimed quickly, shooting an apologetic look at Draco. “Psh…er…me and Malfoy? What are you, out of your mind?”

Meier merely raised his eyebrow higher, which Hermione found fascinating since it was quite high to begin with. He was obviously not persuaded by her unconvincing response. Draco caught on and speedily joined the conversation.

“Yes,” he drawled, turning up his nose at Hermione, who glared at him. “Why would I date such a hideous creature anyway?”

She let out a little screech, which was authentic, and was about to throw a hex at him for calling her ugly, before Ron launched himself at Draco. The red head tried to grab the blonde’s throat from across the table before Ferro and Harry were able to pull him back.

“Don’t make me body bind you!” Ferro threatened at the fuming red head, as he pushed some of his black hair from his face. “And don’t break any of the plates either!” he added as Ron’s plate came precariously close to the edge of the table. “Hilde will have my head if you do.”

At that moment, as everyone was once more settling back down in their seats, Hilde came in, carrying two platters with roasted chickens on them, oblivious to the mayhem that had just occurred. Hermione’s mouth watered at the aroma that wafted from the meat as she set them down on the table. The housekeeper left as everyone stared at the chickens, and soon returned with bowls of mash potatoes, gravy, corn, carrots, and biscuits floating behind her. She gently set down the rest of the food with a flick of her finger, smiled and wished them a good meal as she left.

Hermione shot a warning look at Ron, who looked like he was ready to snarf the whole meal in one sitting. Glacio, looking at her, noticed and fortunately caught on.

“Just pass around each plate,” he suggested, picking up the bowl of mashed potatoes.

Grudgingly, Ron refrained himself from eating half of the food and passed around the platter of corn he had immediately picked up. There was silence, interrupted only by Hilde’s mutterings in the kitchen, as everyone passed around the food.

Hermione gingerly ate the tender chicken, savoring the flavor that overloaded the taste buds on her tongue. She looked up from her plate when she noticed that Glacio was asking her a question.

“Pardon?” she asked him, finishing chewing and swallowing the meat in her mouth.

“I asked you and Mr. Malfoy what you thought of the thilene,” he repeated, his lips rounded in a smile.

Hermione gave him a strange look before answering. “It’s a tattoo,” she answered, as if the concept was simple.

Glacio raised an eyebrow. “That’s all?” he asked. “You do understand that you’ll be connected to our world for the rest of your life through that tattoo?”

“Yes. Meier-” she cleared her throat with distaste. “Already brought that to my attention.”

“So what do you know about us?” he continued.

“More than you think I know,” Hermione answered, wishing that he would stop asking her questions so that she could actually eat her meal. “But less than I should.”

“Wise words for someone so young,” Glacio said, leaning back in his chair with his arms folded over his chest.

“Thank you,” Hermione said, her voice challenging as she met his eyes.

As she took the bowl of gravy from Ferro, a sharp pain ripped straight down her stomach to her bellybutton. Gasping, Hermione dropped the bowl and pushed herself back from the table, doubling over. She watched as the gravy spilled from it’s place and onto the table cloth, making an ever widening stain of brown white. Everyone seemed to panic and she faintly heard Draco, over the roaring of her own ears, scream her name.

The last thing she could really remember was falling backwards and then being engulfed by darkness.





Chapter 15: Blackout cont...
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"Don't kid yourself
And don't fool yourself
This life could be the last
And we're young to see..."

-Blackout- Muse

Blackout cont...


Draco looked down at Hermione with a worry in his gut that he had never felt before for anyone, other than himself and his mother. After she had fallen backwards from the table and hit her head on the floor, they had all quickly moved her to the living room. She was lying on the carpet now, her head turned to one side with nasty bruise forming on the side of her face where her head had connected with the wood.

“What’s wrong with her?” he heard Ron ask from behind him.

“Don’t you think I’d do something about it Weasley,” he snarled at the red head. “If I knew what was wrong with her?”

Draco placed his ear over her mouth to see if she was breathing. His heart nearly stopped when he realized that she wasn’t and his fingers quickly went to her wrist to feel for a pulse.

“She’s not breathing!” he told the others, his voice panicked. Suddenly, he remembered a muggle procedure that had learned in his one term of muggle studies about bringing a person back to life.

“We can do CPI,” Ron suggested, voicing Draco‘s idea.

“It’s CPR, you idiot,” Draco snapped at him.

“Take off her clothes,” Ferro said, thrusting Harry and Ron aside to stand next to Malfoy. He handed the shocked blonde a kitchen knife

“What?!” Draco, Ron and Harry exclaimed at the same time. Draco threw a look at the other two before continuing. “I’m not going to take her clothes off in front of everyone!”

Ferro’s eyes flashed. “If you want her to live, you’ll do what I say!”

Biting his lip at the irony that the first time he’d be undressing his girlfriend was in front of five other people, Draco cut her thick sweater with shaking precision, down the middle. Quickly ripping the Weasley abomination of what they called clothing from her slender frame, he then cut open her shirt, leaving her in a black bra. Moving back from her, Draco scowled with jealously as the others stared at Hermione half naked, sprawled on the floor.

Ferro snapped out of whatever trance he was in after a couple of seconds and got on his knees beside Hermione. He muttered something under his breath, while holding his palms over her stomach and blue lights shone from his hands onto her ivory skin. Suddenly the lights flashed red and the faerie then made an intricate pattern with his finger while keeping his other palm out. The flashing of the lights stopped.

Draco felt anger flare and noticed that Ron had gone completely red with fury, as Ferro leaned over Hermione and placed his mouth on heir’s, obviously for mouth to mouth necessitation. Her chest rose as he exhaled and he did it a couple of more times before she began to breath on her own. Ferro stood and stepped back with a smile on his lips.

They watched as she took deep breaths, waiting for her to regain consciousness. Draco was about to say something to the faerie when Hermione shot up as if she’d been stabbed, screaming.

Everyone jumped with surprise and whipped back around to look at her. She was shrieking incoherent words, her hand over her heart and her chest moving up and down rapidly. She seemed to calm down after a moment as they stared at her with shock. Looking down at her almost naked upper half, her eyes widened and she looked back up at them. Draco was about to try to beat Harry and Ron and get to her first, when she spoke.

“Why am I in my bra?” she asked, her voice hoarse.

There was stunned silence before Hilde let out a relieved laugh and rushed over to Hermione, draping a blanket over her shoulders. “You scared us out of our wits, young lady.”

Hermione drew the blanket tighter around her body with one hand, and pressed the other to her head as if she was thinking. Raising her eyes to look at the six men surrounding her, she asked, “What happened?”

“You knocked yourself out,” Ron told her, his eyes still worried as he watched her take another shuddering breath.

She fervently shook her head. “I think I blacked out before. I remember falling backwards and then darkness, but I never felt myself hit anything. I would’ve felt the floor first and then I would’ve been knocked out.”

“You weren’t breathing,” Draco said to her softly. He wanted to go over to her but she looked as though she wanted her space.

“I remember pain in my stomach and then waking up,” Hermione said, her gaze meeting his. “But what was wrong?”

Ferro spoke up from beside his housekeeper. “Something shocked you so much that your heart had stopped beating. Did you see anything while you were unconscious?”

“No,” Hermione said, standing up and wobbling a little. Harry reached out to steady her but she brushed him away. “I don’t think so.”

They watched as she made her way past them, getting to the foot of the steps before Meier stopped her.

“You aren’t going to eat?” he asked. “It may do you some good to have food in your stomach.”

She shook her head. “I just need some sleep.”

Hilde gasped in amazement, and the other stared at her with surprise, as Hermione conjured another shirt with the movement of her finger. She slipped it on before levitating the blanket back to the housekeep, who gave her a sad smile. Hermione slowly made her way up the steps, disappearing from their sight.

“She does wandless magic?” Draco asked, turning around to face Meier, who shrugged.

“She obviously has more of our blood in her than she thinks,” Ferro said, walking back to the dining room to finish his dinner.


Hermione was sitting on the bed with her knees drawn up to her chest, looking out the window. The lights were off so that she could observe the night sky better. She noted that the stars were unusually bright and mentally asked herself what the centaurs would be predicting. Looking down at her hands clasped over her knees, Hermione noticed that she was trembling. She kept replaying what she had seen when she blacked out over and over again in her head. Whatever happened had physically drained her and she felt more tired than she had in days; it had taken all of her strength just to walk to the steps and climb them.

Her door cracked open, squeaking as it went and Hermione spun around, ready to snap at Harry or Ron, whom she suspected would come by. She really didn’t need their pestering right now. Instead, as it had happened before, Draco was standing there, leaning against the doorway. He was shirtless and Hermione was entranced at how his compact muscles moved underneath his skin as he made his way towards her.

She held her breath when the bed sunk a little as he got on. Not knowing what to do, Hermione stayed silent as he slid closer to her.

“Look at me,” he commanded softly.

She refused and bit her lip, training her eyes on the dying tree outside of the window. He hooked one long finger underneath her chin and forced her head up so that she could meet his eyes. He looked worried and she managed a watery smile.

“I’m not going to ask you what happened,” Draco told her, the tone of his voice assuring her that his decision was final

His words made her ache for some reason, and she had a sudden urge to touch him. So she did, running her fingers over the rifts in his stomach that his muscles made. Draco stared at her motions for a moment before he grabbed her wrist, drawing her hands away from his skin. He pulled her against him so that she rested between his open legs, her head laying on his chest. Hermione sighed at the skin on skin contact and shivered as he drew lazy circles on her shoulder blades.

“You scared me,” he said, looking down at her. She raised her head so that she meet his eyes.

“I’m sorry.”

His fingers made their way into her hair before he continued. “I’ve never been that scared for anyone else other than my mother, you know.”

“I know,” Hermione said, cracking a large smile. “If I couldn’t read your eyes, I’d think that you were lying just to get a good shag.”

“If I wanted that, I would’ve accomplished it a long time ago,” he assured her with a grin, his hands slipping down the curve of her back. “Why would I be on a suicidal mission of dating you when I could’ve just taken what I wanted a long time ago?”

“So you’re saying that I’m killing you?” Hermione asked playfully, her voice muffled by his chest.

“I’ve never gone through this much trouble to get what I wanted,” he said. “But now that I have you, it feels good.”

“Was that another compliment?” she questioned, once more drawing her fingers over his marble like skin. “It sounds like you went through a war so you could date me.”

“I did,” Draco answered. “Mainly with trying to get you to understand how I felt. It’s only going to get worse when our friends find out.”

Hermione shrugged. “I hope not because that would cause a rather large problem.”

Silence enveloped them and she turned her head so that she could once more look out the window. She was snapped out of her reverie a couple of seconds later when Draco spoke.

“When we get back to Hogwarts, I want you to be careful around Blaise.”

Not wanting to ruin the moment, Hermione bit her tongue and kept silent, burrowing closer to the hard body beneath her. If she answered, she knew that she would argue with him about her competence to defend herself. Draco shifted and kissed her on the top of her head and moved so that he could get up. Hermione quickly grabbed his wrist to keep him from leaving.

“I want you to stay Draco.”

“What?”

She sighed and drew back. “I want you to stay with me. Just lay with me, Draco.”

“Why, Hermione, so early on in the relationship?” Draco said humorously, raising an eyebrow as she turned red. “I never thought that you’d-”

“Not like that, you prat,” Hermione said. “I just want to be with you right now.”

His grin still on his face, he slid back onto the bed. He laid on his back and mentally thanked any deity he could think of as Hermione positioned herself so that one leg was thrown over his and her face was buried into his neck. She tilted her face and planted a soft kiss on his lips, which Draco returned with fervor. Pulling away after a moment, she gave him a sleepy smile.

He pressed another kiss to the top of her head. He felt her chest rise against his as her breathing became slower. The scent of vanilla filled his nose and he breathed it in, wondering why he never realized how good she smelled before. As Draco looked down at Hermione, whose eyes had finally closed with exhaustion, he realized that for the fourth time, he was watching the beautiful woman in his arms, sleep.


Chapter 16: A Whirl of Wind
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A Whirl of Wind



It was night again and everyone was in the living room. Harry, Ron, and (to Hermione’s great surprise) Draco were watching the television in silence, which Ron broke every ten seconds to ask a question about the show they were watching. Ferro was reading and Meier was asleep, snoring lightly, beside the fire. Hermione was talking to Glacio about the world of the fey as he smoked another cigarette.

“So what happened to the humans who were captured by the Unseelie Court?” Hermione asked, leaning forward in her seat, listening to his responses intently.

Glacio shrugged, smoke coming out through his nostrils. “Depends. If you were a beautiful human, they may’ve kept you as a toy or a servant perhaps. Some are even taken as husbands or wives and recognized in the courts as citizens. If you weren’t fortunate enough to be pleasing to look at, they would use you as rabbits. They’d release you, let you run for a couple of seconds before hunting you down like a dog. Either that or they’d give you to a troll to be eaten alive.”

He noticed her shiver with disgust and raised an eyebrow.

Glacio leaned forward so that their faces were only inches apart. “Don’t ask frightening questions if you don’t want scary answers,” he said, the corner of his lip curling into a smirk.

Hermione rolled her eyes and sat back in her seat. “Who says I’m scared?” she asked haughtily.

“I can see it in your eyes,” Glacio answered, still grining at her. He brought the cigarette back to his lips.

“Oh please,” she said, rolling her eyes again. “It’s just disgusting how they treated humans, like they were just playthings.”

“What’s disgusting is that fool of a wizard stealing our secrets and passing them as his own,” Glacio countered, pointing at her with the cigarette. His sweater sleeve fell back from his hand, and she noticed for the first time that he had a tattoo of a mercury colored snake curling around his wrist. The fangs of the silver snake bit into the base of his thumb.

He noticed her staring and looked down at his tattoo also. “I got it when I was in America,” he told her. “Do you like tattoos?”

“I already have one that was involuntary,” she said, tearing her gaze away from the snake. “But maybe I’ll get one after this whole mission is done.”

“Let me guess,” said Draco from above her as he sat down. Hermione smiled up at him. “You want one of a lion?”

“Gryffindor?” Glacio asked, raising an eyebrow. Hermione nodded, scowling at Draco. “I was in Ravenclaw, myself. Ferro was in Gryffindor. He’s always been the courageous one.”

Hermione was about to speak but was interrupted by a yelp from Ron. They looked over to the fireplace, where he was pointing too, and realized that Dumbledore’s head was in the flames. He was smiling loftily, crackles of the flames imitating the twinkle in his eyes that he had in real life.

“I see that you all are getting along fine,” he said, his voice sounding more cheery than it usually did. “I just thought that I would stop by for an update on anything that you’ve found.”

Ferro cleared his throat and shuffled around the papers in his hands. Muttering a spell of protection over his arm, he handed the stack to Dumbledore through the flames. The old heamaster received them with a smile and began to rifle through them.

“As you read, we’ll explain,” Meier said, shifting so that he was facing the fireplace. Evryone else crowded around, waiting for the silver haired faerie to speak.

“Go on,” Dumbledore urged, nodding his head. “You have my upmost attention.”

Sighing Hermione spoke up. “Since you were the one who told us about the runes, we assume that you already know what they mean. “Dumbledore inclined his chin, signaling that he did. “We figured out that he has somehow stolen the Black Mirror from the Queen of the Fey and is going to use it to gain immortal life. He needs a key in order to open the mirror. As he’s gaining immortality, he planes to pierce the worlds using the rune Uruz, to unleash the vamperum as his own army. Not only will he then be incapable of dying, he’d also be unstoppable.”

Ferro spoke up from beside her. “We haven’t figured out what the key is yet but we do suspect that Hermione holds some information that he needs, possible because she is a descendant of a human with faerie blood. Novem or nine was also written and we suspect that he’s going to try and open the mirror between the dates of November 22 and December 21.”

Dumebledore’s eyes, even in the fire, looked troubled and he seemed to think intently about something before answering them. “The Order had been able to figure out that he has the Black Mirror and needs Ms. Granger in some way to open it We did not know, however, that he planned to unleash the vamperum on us. Ferro, and Meier, did bring it to my attention that something concerning the vamperum was taking place on the first day of school.”

“Well what do we do now?” Ron asked the headmaster, his voice soft. “Is our mission done?”

“There’re some other things that I want you to adress,” Dumbledore told them. “I may even send you to Spain to investigate the murder of muggles there since most Aurors and members of the Order are occupied at the moment.”

Hermione smiled widely as she heard Dumbledore mention Spain. She’d never been to Spain before and it would be lovely to go there, despite the circumstances.

“Could we really?” Hermione asked hopefully. The other looked at her and she blushed. “I mean, it would be great to help out as much as we could while we’re away.”

“You do still have two weeks leave,” Dumbledore said thoughtfully. “I guess you can spend two days in Spain investigating. I’ll have two escorts meet you at the Ministry of Spain tomorrow morning at ten o’clock.”

“One more question,” Ferro interrupted before Dumbledore oucld pull himself from the fireplace. “My brother, Glacio, has asked if he could join us on our mission.”

Dumbledore blinked blankly a couple of times before comprehension dawned on his features. “Glacio! I do remember him. He was Heady Boy in my fifth year at Hogwarts.”

“Hello, Albus,” Glacio said, giving the Headmaster a small wave. “It’s been a long time.”

Hermione looked at the others with surprise. All three faeries sitting around them were older than the Headmaster, who seemed to be the oldest person they knew. A strange sense of disjunction filled her gut, but Hermione shook it off. Dumbledore had apparently said yes, because when she looked back up, Dumbledore’s head was replaced with the usual flames and Glacio was grinning rather widely.

“What did he say?” she quietly asked Harry, who had moved to sit beside her.

Harry shrugged and pushed his glasses further up his nose. “He told Glacio that he could accompany us and that if we needed anything, he’s in Romania.”

Hermione nodded and mentally began a checklist of what she would bring with her to Spain. It was Draco’s gentle hand on her arm that brought her back to reality.

“I see that you’re excited,” he said in her ear, his breath tickling her skin.

“I am,” Hermione said, smiling. “The history and sites there must be amazing. And it’ll give me a chance to get a much needed tan.”

He looked up at her with a frown, running his fingers over the skin of her forearm. “Your skin is perfect the way it is now. The only way you’re getting a tan is if you’re in a bathing suit.”

She hit him on his arm as he moved away. Glacio was telling the others what Spain was like since he had lived there twenty years ago. As he was describing what the weather was like in winter, Hermione felt the air constricting around her. Fearing another black out, she got up with the intentions of taking a refreshing walk outside. She had almost made it to the door when Meier spoke to her from his place by the fire.

“Where’re you going?” he asked, using the same authoritive tone that he used with her so often.

“I need fresh air,” Hermione said. She placed the back of her hand against her forehead dramatically. “I feel very faint. I don’t want to black out again.”

“One of us has to go with you,” Ferro told her, moving to get up and follow her out the door.

“About that,” she said, twidling her thumbs. “I want to go by myself. Be alone for once.”

“No,” Meier said simply.

Hermione scolwed blackly at the silver haired faerie. “I don’t need constant surveillance!”

“You do, obviously,” he snapped back at her.

“I order you to let me go outside by myself,” Hermione said with exasperation. “I won’t be long and I’ll be in the yard. Besides, you have protection spells along the perimeter, right?”

Meier cut his eyes at her and sighed angrily before turning back around. “You have thirty minutes, Hermione, ‘till 9: 20, before I come out to get you. Dinner will be ready by then.”

“Thank you,” she said softly, giving the irritated faerie a bright smile. He grudgingly returned it before waving his hand dismissively at her to tell her to leave his sight before he changed his mind.

Hermione grabbed Draco’s long coat from the back of the couch and slipped it on before she opened the front door and walked out in the cold.

She sighed as she breathed in the crisp night air, looking up at the eerily bright moon. Watching dead flowers dance in the air across the lawn, Hermione sat down on the brick front steps. Hermione stared, engrossed, for a good couple of minutes, at the large oak tree in the front yard away in the icy wind. As the night slowly progressed, the frigidity was starting to seep into Draco’s leather coat and into her bones.

Deciding that moving about would warm her. Hermione stood and began to walk around the yard, bending down to examine various trash that was in the grass. Something in particular caught her eyes as she kicked a stone back towards the house.

It was a number that one nailed to the house or fence to indicate the address of that particular location. It was a little old and rust had cut into the dull metal surface. Turning her head, she also noticed that the number was a six. She jumped as the local church clock began to strike down the hour.

One.Two.Three

“A six?” Hermione said, voicing her thoughts as she picked up the number, turning it over in her hand. “The address of the house is Fifty- One,” she continued, her voice laced with wonder.

It shone even brighter as the moonlight hit it the brass surface, brighter than something should’ve, considering that there was build up of at least five years worth of rust on it.

Four. Five.

“Why is it even in the front yard?” she silently wondered, gazing at it.

Six.Seven

Suddenly, a cold current of air whipped across her back, making her shiver through the usually warm leather. She glanced around, feeling as though something or someone was watching her. Once more turning her head sideways, she realized that the number wasn’t a six, but a nine.

“It’s nine o’clock,” she said to herself. “It’s the ninth of November. Why is it-”

Eight.Nine

“At nine,” Hermione thought, her heart racing as she remembered Steven’s words that she had mistaken for something else.. “See you later- at nine.”

“Oh God,” Hermione said, her eyes going wide as the metal number shone a bright silver.

Ten

Then the wind came.


Chapter 17: Captured
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Captured


Meier checked his watch and narrowed his eyes when he realized it was ten minutes past when Hermione was supposed to come back in.

“That little chit,” he mumbled beneath his breath, stalking over to the door.

“You knew she'd stay out late just to irritate you,” Glacio commented from his place by the fire, a smirk evident in his voice.

His scowl growing blacker, Meier roughly opened the door.

“Ms. Granger, you've been out long enough,” he snapped loudly. When there was no answer, his eyes narrowed and he stepped outside, looking around in the blackness. “Ms. Granger, I'm in no mood for games...”

His ears perked up, listening for any sign of breathing and when he caught none, his heart almost skipped a beat. She wasn't there. She was gone.

He ran back inside. “We have a problem!” he yelled, getting everyone's attention.

“Let me guess,” Glacio said sharpy, unfolding himself from his armchair. His violet eyes regarded the disheveled Meier. “She's gone.”

Everyone else stood up and Hilde dropped the platter of cheese and bread she was carrying. “Oh my,” she said softly.

“What do you mean she's gone?” Draco spoke up, his voice low and deadly.

“Exactly what it means,” Meier said, his own anger rising. “Ms. Granger is missing.”

“That can only mean one thing,” Ferro said from the shadows, a sigh in his voice. “The only way out of this property would be the floo or...”

“A portkey,” Draco finished. “Which means she isn't just gone, she was taken.”

“Who would do such a thing?” Hilde asked Ferro. Everyone already knew.

Harry, who was staring into the fire, his eyes hard answered with one simple word. “Voldemort.”




Hermione already knew she was most likely going to die, even as she roughly hit a stone floor. An all encompassing murmuring which existed briefly before she landed immediately ceased. Wincing from the pain in her hands and knees, Hermione slowly stood up to her full height though her stomach was twisted with fear.

She was completely surrounded by figures swathed in the tell tale inky black robes and bone white masks of Deatheaters. She expected to be immediately attacked and her hand automatically went to the handle of her wand in her pocket. Eyes burned into her, searing through her skin.

“You've arrived just on time,” came a melodious, maniacal, deep voice from beyond the ring of Deatheaters. “You never fail to disappoint, Ms. Granger.”

Like a falling black tide, the Deatheaters slowly parted until Hermione was directly faced with a huge throne, wrought of twisted hunks of metal. Her eyes found feet clad in black dragon hide boots first, and slowly traveled up his long body. She hesitated not sure if she should look directly in her face.

“Raise your eyes mudblood” the voice said, as if reading her mind (which he very well could've been). “You can gaze upon my face if you wish.”

Hermione hesitated again, preparing her mental shields to withstand the assault she knew she'd undergo once she met his eyes. Slowly, she raised her gaze and was completely shocked into silence.

Rather than the reptilian being who held only a slight resemblance to human, Hermione was looking into the face of Tom Riddle, young and devastatingly handsome. His brown eyes had a strange red glow to them and there was a haze of black around him, as if all of his evil condensed to form a dark halo. Like Harry, Voldemort radiated a type of power that felt like a sucker punch to the gut. Hermione gasped for breath a couple of times before completely raising her head and meeting his eyes. She was surprised to find her mind totally untouched.

“Brave,” he murmured, a smirk on his thin lips. “Just like a Gryffindor.”

Hermione swallowed a thick ball of fear before replying, “It has nothing to do with bravery.”

Voldemort raised an eyebrow. “Oh really, mudblood? Then entertain me and tell me what emotion compels you to directly look into my eyes, when I could freeze the blood in your veins quicker than you could blink.”

“Its-” she paused, licking her suddenly dry lips. “not bravery. I just don't see someone I should bow my head to.”

Astonished murmuring erupted again from the crowd before it was silenced by a wave of Voldemort's hand.

“Like I said,” he repeated silkily. “Brave. But surely you know bravery will get you nothing in an abode of serpents?”

“I'm not brave because its rewarding,” Hermione replied. “But because I value my personal integrity.”

There was a pause and Voldemort made a hissing sound in his chest, almost like a pleased purr. “You amuse me, Ms. Granger. As I said before, you never fail to disappoint.”

“I don't aim to please you.”

His glowing red eyes rested on her, his gaze intense as he observed her. “Of course.” His lips stretched into a smile. “Do you happen to know how you joined us on this wonderful evening?”

“A portkey.”

“Partially correct. Do you know how we finally managed to pinpoint your location?”

Hermione stayed silent, her breathing still labored before answering, “No.”

He threw something at her and it landed at her feet. Hermione gave him a strange look before daring to glance down. It was a thick old book and it took Hermione less than five seconds to recognize it as Hogwarts, a History.

“Open it,” Voldemort ordered.

Trying to stop the trembling of her hands, she bent and picked up the book, lovingly running her fingers over the cover before opening it to the first page. And written, in a small, tidy script she knew all too well, was This book belongs to Hermione Granger.

Instantly everything clicked and she berated herself for not piecing it together sooner. When she and Steven had bumped into each other, it was very likely that he had no idea who she was. Until she dropped her books and he caught a glimpse of her name on the open cover. He must've been ordered to somehow tail them and he placed the portkey in Ferro's yard, hoping she'd see it and pick it up.

“I must say that it worked flawlessly.” Voldemort's voice cut through her thoughts. “We weren't even trying to find you Ms. Granger yet in the most divine sequence of events, you somehow managed to find us.”

Anger and shame seeped into Hermione's veins and she immediately looked around her for the face of Steven. She found it slightly to her right- he'd removed his mask and was smirking with smug satisfaction.

She lunged for him, half expecting to be shot back by one curse or another but surprisingly there were none. She collided with him, punching him square in the face before knocking them both heavily to the ground. Using her training tactics, Hermione quickly straddled him and whipped out her wand, pushing it deep into his jugular, so hard he was choking for breath.

'Now, now Ms. Granger thats no way to treat an old friend.”

Voldemort's words only inflamed her rage more. Because of him and...because of her, all that they'd worked so hard for was lost.

Before she could utter the curse hanging on her lips, a hand wrapped tightly around her upper arm and painfully hauled her up. She viciously fought whoever was holding her before she was backhanded across the face. She felt her lip split and her cheek bruise.

“Such a hellcat,” Voldemort said, his voice soft and steely. “Exactly how I'd imagine she'd be. After all these years, I've finally found her.”

“You've found nothing,” Hermione snarled, spitting blood and saliva at the edge of Voldemort's throne. “They won't come for me and you will gain nothing! You might as kill me now because this is all the use I'll ever be to you!”

“Oh Ms. Granger if only that was true,” Voldemort drawled with false sympathy. “ You have absolutely no idea of your worth to me- and when you realize it, I'm sure you will wish your own death.”

Hermione, exhausted and in pain, smiled sardonically and rolled her eyes. “Stop speaking in riddles and speak the truth for once in your miserable life.”

Before she could blink again, Voldemort was off his throne in a flurry of gray robes and right in front of her. He placed a long finger beneath her chin and forced her to look into his eyes. She shivered with revulsion as he cupped her cheek with his other hand.

“You, my dear girl, are the key to making all of my wildest desires come true. You are the fruition of all my dreams.”

“Thats still a riddle,” Hermione replied smartly.

The Dark Lord pulled back from her with a strange, bemused expression. “It seems as though they've failed to fill you in on the details of your extreme importance in this war Ms. Granger. They decided to leave you ignorant...in the dark.” He clucked his tongue disapprovingly. “How inconsiderate and...sneaky, isn't it Ms. Granger?” His voice almost sounded genuinely sympathetic.

Hermione felt irritation and anger well up in her gut. She did always feel like there was something being kept from her, hidden from her. And the neglection of telling her what everyone else always knew led to her capture. A small fleeting feeling of betrayal coursed through her and Voldemort smirked when he saw the battle of emotions on her face.

It only took that for her to remember...Ginny, and her eleven year old self being so heart wrenchingly manipulated and used by Voldemort. He was a prime manipulator, both physically and mentally, like a true snake. He was the serpent trying to convince her to eat just one bite of that forbidden apple of darkness, whispering in her ear that surely, it could not be so bad. Oh he was far more devious and cunning than she had fathomed. She noted with a feeling of self- derision, that she almost fell for his farce.

“Wrong,” she managed to whisper past her doubts. “Nothing was hidden from me. I didn't want... didn't want to know about my path. I remained ignorant by choice, contrary to what you believe.”

“Well let me lift that veil of ignorance from you,” Voldemort said with a sinister smile on his thin lips.

“Whether I am ignorant or not,” Hermione spoke up, her voice louder as the Dark Lord turned his back on her. “It'll make no difference. I won't help you, not now, not ever.” She suddenly had the urge to curse him and say something that'd make him boil with fury, but she couldn't think of anything bad enough to say.

“We'll see about that precious mudblood,” Voldemort said, turning his head to regard her. The red glow in his eyes had deepened to a scarlet. “I've broken toys far more superior than you.”

“I'm not a toy,” Hermione quickly spat back. “Especially not yours. You flatter yourself in thinking that I will ever belong to you.”

Suddenly, a chiming went off and everyone froze. Hermione's eyes widened, recognizing it as her magical cellphone. It was a secondary mode of precaution Dumbledore had given them the other night in the fireplace.

Voldemort caught sight of the surprise on her face and narrowed his eyes. He moved closer, listening for the origin of the ringing and deftly picked the phone out of her pocket. She could see on the front as he regarded it backwards in his hands, that it was Dumbledore calling.

“What is this?” Voldemort hissed. He turned it over in his hands and Hermione almost laughed at his expression when he saw that Dumbledore was calling her. His expression twisted into one of fury and annoyance, like a child constantly being meddled with by an older sibling.

“Infernal, stupid fool!” the Dark Lord roared before slamming the phone against the stone floor where it shattered into pieces.

“I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to replace that,” Hermione said mockingly, enjoying the spread of red on his pale face. “It was quite expensive.”

His face twisted further into a truly terrifying expression, his eyes no longer glowing, but... radiating an anger so intense that Hermione thought she could physically feel the heat on her skin. His long fingers wrapped themselves in her hair and roughly yanked her forward so that she fell painfully to her knees.

“I've had enough of your attitude you little mudblood,” Voldemort snarled. “Remember it is through my good grace and your fortunate importance to my cause that you remain largely unharmed.”

Hermione, truly feeling the danger of the situation, stayed silent.

“No smart words? No deliciously foolish retort?” His tone of voice was almost disbelieving. “I'm almost disappointed that a spitfire like you would be silenced so easily.”

“I'm not silenced,” she said. “Merely silent.”

He smiled, seemingly amused again by her words and released her hair. She sagged a little with relief.

“Take her,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand.

Hands came from behind her wrapping steely fingers around both of her arms. Two stoic Deatheaters stood on each of her sides, their wands pointed and ready to curse her into oblivion.

“Tell her caretaker he may...” Voldemort paused as if rethinking his words, “...play with her. But he must do no permanent damage. I need her pure and free from all physical defilements.”

Hermione felt a deep fear settle in her gut, knowing what the word “play” meant to a Deatheater. It meant peeling the skin off of their victims' bones. It meant trying a new incendio spell on a muggle and watching them burn to death. It meant...torture.

She steeled herself as much as she could, thinking of them...Harry, Ron, Ferro and even Meier whom she added with a note of annoyance. Everyone she loved who was bright in this world of darkness.

And Draco...how it felt to have his arms wrapped around her, even only that last time. A deep sadness overtook her because she knew it was highly unlikely that she'd ever see them...him again.

As they led her away and her eyes met the sinister ones of Lord Voldemort, she had sick feeling of knowing in her gut.

Her fate was sealed.



Steven was not as smart as he smugly thought. If he'd known the loose ends he left behind, he would've no doubt been tortured mercilessly by Voldemort.

When he created the portkey, his magic was so weak and primitive that he left a trace of the destination in the magical signature of the object. All that had to be done was decipher the code.

Draco had been the one to find it, immediately noting its oddness in the multitude of things in Ferro's yard. Almost without thinking he touched it and he half remembered that it was a portkey. To his relief...and disappointment, it must've deactivated itself once Hermione had already used it to avoid an army following her. Steven had been clever in that respect.

He brought it inside and dropped it on the open book Meier was reading about portkeys. “This was it.”

Meier raised an eyebrow before taking the cold metal number in his hand, looking at it pensively. “its magical signature is not bound or locked,” he said, his voice holding an undertone of hope. “All is not lost.”

“What in the bloody hell does that mean?” Ron questioned impatiently.

Draco felt himself grin, a relief washing over him. “It means Weasel that the magical code of the object is not hidden. With the right methods it can be drawn out and all matters of its magical existence exposed.”

“Like a written code for a computer program,” Harry tried to clarify. “Its written in a code and the program has a certain function. When you look at the programming code you can see what it's built of.”

Ron shook his head, saying with exasperation, “What in the bloody hell is a computer program?

“But methods to do that can take years,” Ferro pointed out, interrupting Ron's frustrated monologue. “You are trying to observe magic in its most basic state- as symbols rather than a collective force.”

Meier ignored the other elf and ran his fingers over the number again, his face furrowed in concentration. He seemed to be trying to do something, but to no avail.

“Give it to me,” came Glacio's voice. Everyone jumped, momentarily forgetting that he was there, resting in the shadows. “My mother's fey were the originators of ancient magic- I have the blood to do this.”

Ferro hesitated, mulling over his brother's claim in his head before nodding his approval. “Glacio's right. But be careful- one wrong move and the symbols can shift and change the magic into something else entirely.”

Glacio rolled his eyes and grinned mischievously before taking the number from a scowling Meier. He turned it over in his hands, regarding it with narrow eyes before placing it on the table. He rubbed his palms together and between them grew something that looked like static. His movements grew faster until suddenly he clapped his hands together and pointed the wave of energy at the metal number.

A loud humming filled the room, like the drone of a thousand bees and everyone watched in fascination as Glacio's face twisted with concentration and what looked like pain. He gritted his teeth and slowly began pulling back his hands towards his face.

Hilde gasped and everyone continued to watch with awe as a long deep blue sliver coiled out of the number like a snake. Glacio took end of the sliver in his fingers and whispered something underneath his breath. Immediately it exploded into a nebula of dust.

Draco was momentarily blinded but when he blinked, the dust was gone and hanging in front of Glacio was a maze of ancient symbols. He was looking at them thoughtfully.

“Runes?” Meier asked, making towards Glacio to help decipher the code.

Ferro shook his head, holding his arm out to halt his friend's movements. “No. Something much, much older. Let him concentrate- this is in his blood.”

Glacio used his fingertips to shift through the code, stopping here and there to gaze intensively at a singular symbol. Five minutes later he seemed to have found what he was looking and grinned.

“Bingo.”

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