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*Told you it wouldn't take as long this time! This lovely chapter was actually betaed (I know i never do that), by one of my most wonderful best friends. So I hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think*

Chapter 7~ The Lair

“What do you mean he’s gone?” Vance scowled over his reports at Vee, who happened to be delivering the unfortunate news.




“He’s vanished. I can’t find him anywhere.” She said flatly.




“He can’t vanish. He has no wand and no one can perform magic in here.”




“Well what would you like me to tell you? That he’s hiding somewhere and I am too incompetent to find him? Or would you rather me tell you that I know where he is, but refuse to tell you because I’m saving him from your interrogation?” Vee cocked an eyebrow in iratance.  




“Vee I don’t need this right now.”




“You never do.” Her lips formed a thin, tight smile.




“What are you talking about?” Vance was beyond exasperation. 




“Nothing, Vance. I’ll go see if anyone else has made any progress.”




“Vee, I can tell your upset.”




“I’m not upset Vance. I’m about fifty years past upset.” Vee turned to head for the door.




“Vee-”




“Don’t worry Vance, I’ll find Malfoy for you and then you can pretend that you still need me. Good night.”




“What the hell?” Vance muttered as Vee exited the room. He would never understand women, dead or otherwise.




 




            *                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *




 




“Welcome to our lair, Hermione.” Miles spoke with a sweeping brow as he ushered her into the main room. Hermione held her breath as she entered the basement of downtown London parking garage. The trip from Headquarters had been relatively uneventful. She was introduced to the rest the clan, which was smaller that she had initially thought. The sight that met Hermione’s eyes as she entered the large expanse of cement was enough to send the most stable person into acts of revulsion, but Hermione was not a normal, stable person. Hermione had seen things in the final battle that no one should ever be subjected to, and Hermione had heard things in the vault that no one should hear. Swallowing the bile that rose in her throat, Hermione took two steps into the room. One half of the lowest level of the parking garage was covered in various scraps of cloth and clothes; a sleeping area of sorts. The other half was what Hermione was reluctant to look at. The stench of fresh blood was almost nauseating, but Hermione knew she would have face whatever it was the Vampires called their home, or they would never accept her as one of their own. Bodies were strewn across the floor, all of them gone white from the absence of the blood that the vampires craved. All of their eyes were open in states of shock, lips parted in a never spoken cry for help.




“Hungry?” Miles asked, passing by her into the room.




“No.” Hermione managed to squeak out. “I fed just before we came across each other.”




“More for the rest of us then.”




 




            *                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *




 




What the hell? Draco thought to himself as he entered the manor. The place had been almost completely stripped of everything that had any value. All that remained were bare walls and broken bits of furniture. Slowly Draco climbed the winding staircase that connected the upper and lower levels of the manor. The floor beneath him was the same that he had walked on just less than a year ago when he had come home on holiday from Hogwarts. Hogwarts, it seemed like it was an eternity away from where he was now. He could barely remember when he had little more to care about than what first-year he would torment next. Or which of the golden trio would be next to be insulted. In the end, even they had not been able to save the world. Draco kicked a piece of furniture out of the way as he stepped across the threshold of what had once been the door to his room. Upon reaching the bed, he collapsed onto the sheets. They still smelled of newly pressed linen. Draco briefly wondered if his mother had been here, in this house, when the Order had come in June. Was she reading in the sun room, or maybe ordering about house elves in the dining room. Did she know that it would be the last time she would set foot in her own home when they dragged her from the premises? His final thought before he drifted into slumber was his last memory of his mother, scolding him about not being prepared enough for the Dark Lord’s task. He still failed, Mother.




 




            *                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *




 




“Hermione. . . Hermione?”




“Huh?”




“Are you alright?” Miles’ voice broke through the thoughts that were storming Hermione’s mind. She couldn’t really be pretending that she was ok with the murder of innocent people, but she was. She slid to the cement floor of the parking garage, allowing her mind to adjust to her new surroundings.




“I’m fine.”




“It gets better you know.” Miles said sliding down to sit beside her.




“What?”




“The being a vampire. I know it seems hard right now, but it does get better.”




“I don’t know what you mean.” Hermione truly didn’t. She didn’t understand how it could be hard to be a vampire, it was a conscious choice that each one had made. A choice she would never make, she already knew she would rather die completely.




“Well, right now you probably feel more human than vampire. You probably only fed when you need to right? Only when you absolutely have to because you still feel like you’re murdering someone. Then you feel guilty afterward because you just stole someone’s life.” Hermione’s mouth gaped open. “Don’t look at me like that, it isn’t a big secret. Everyone has been there.”




“No one acts like it.” Hermione said softly, all the vampires she had come in contact with gave no impression that they had ever felt like that.




“You’ll lose your humanity little by little. And you’ll still feel it sometimes, when you least expect it.”




“It seems so sad.”




“Would you rather be dead?”




“Sometimes.”




“I don’t think you’ve realized yet what a gift it is.”




“A gift?”




“You get to be powerful for eternity, you can see amazing things happen, what else do you want?”




“Life.” Miles chuckled at her answer.




“You always want what you can’t have, don’t you?” Miles looked across the space between them into Hermione’s eyes. “If you see it is as a curse that’s all it will ever be, but if you see it as a positive thing then you can grow with it. And just because you aren’t quite alive, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t still things to fight for.”




“What are you fighting for?” Hermione challenged, staring straight into his limitless gray eyes.




“Freedom. It isn’t just the Order’s world, it’s everyone’s. I refuse to live under the power of someone just because they say I should.”




“That’s a good reason.” Hermione said, her mind in turmoil. He seemed to be such a good man, but he was still a blood-sucking vampire.




“It isn’t the only reason.” His eyes captured hers more intently. “Just because I’m one of the undead doesn’t mean I can’t feel. And feeling is something to fight for.”




“I suppose.” Hermione breathed, becoming more uncomfortable with every passing moment.




“You’re very intriguing, Hermione. You make me feel something that I-”




“Miles!” A voice from the door called out breaking into Miles’ sentence.




“What is it Holden?” Miles called out, rising to his feet.




“We have a message from Airie.”




“I’ll be right there. If you’ll excuse me, Hermione.”




“Of course.”




 Miles left Hermione sitting on floor. What was that about? Hermione wondered to herself. Miles had definitely been getting into something serious, something that Hermione was not prepared for at all. Under different circumstances, mainly if Miles were not a vampire, she could be attracted to him. As it was though, she could not begin to think about a relationship with someone who chose to suck the blood out of helpless people. But was it something he chose? The little voice in Hermione’s head questioned. Maybe he wasn’t offered the choice you were. You don’t even know when he became a vampire. You don’t know anything about him. Hermione was becoming irritated with herself. Oh do shut up.




 “Gather ‘round everyone!” Miles shouted across the room, his voice echoing across the walls. Hermione’s attention moved back to the physical manifestation of her thoughts. “We have news from Airie.” Who is Airie? Hermione wondered. “Join us Hermione, this concerns you too.” Startled, Hermione stood and walked over to where the rest of the clan had assembled. “Airie has sent us a message that our property to the north has been infiltrated. We don’t know if the intruder is accidental or if it is a member of the Order. She thinks it best that we go there and either dispose of this threat or if it someone that sympathizes with our cause, induct them into our ranks. We’ll leave at dusk tomorrow. Get some rest now, it’ll be a long journey tomorrow night.” After his speech Miles returned to Hermione.




“Miles, who is Airie and what is the property to the north?” Hermione asked, curious.




“Airie is our ‘benefactor’ I suppose you’d say. She sympathizes with the old causes; she isn’t a fan of the flashiness of the Order. She’s been a vamp longer than anyone I know. She resides in the north and recently acquired a house for our use. It’s this huge mansion that was owned by some really rich wizards. Airie doesn’t like to make her presence known to a lot of people, so she has us do the ‘dirty’ work I guess you’d call it. So we’ll go up there tomorrow night and see who has decided that our property is worth breaking in to.”




“Right.” Hermione turned away, once again deep in thought. A huge mansion in the north that belonged to wealthy wizards, it could be anyone’s house. Hermione had the sinking suspicion that it wasn’t just anyone.

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