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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.”
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.”
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