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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.


“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.

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