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.
“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.
“Why is it even in the front yard?” she silently wondered, gazing at it.
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-”
“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.
Then the wind came.
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