I awoke in a darkness that unnerved me, unable to open my eyes. Being a vampire, the night should have been lit up like it was daytime, brightened by the shining, pale moon. However, it was dark, which made me uncomfortable. No matter how hard I tried, I saw nothing, not even my body or anything, nor could I move. Along with that, the fact that my heart was still beatless in my chest and not pounding madly made me want to hyperventilate, except for the fact that vampires can't hyperventilate.
I tried to calm my thoughts by thinking about the last thing I did before ending up in this situation. What had it been? Ah, right. I gritted my teeth, figuratively speaking, as the image of the demons bursting out of the small store engulfed my mind. Styx had taken me out to get some fresh air and, not even ten minutes later, Hell itself had followed.
Watching it in my mind's eye, replaying the scene in my head, I remembered grabbing Styx's hand and narrowly escaping the attack of a demon, disapparating into what should have been the forbidden forest off of the edge of Hogwarts. True, I'd never been there, but I'd felt that Hermione had told me enough about it that I could do it. That was where my memory ended, aside from semi-waking up wherever I was. Having been brought back in a full circle by my thoughts, I focused on trying to move. No luck.
I felt like I was in a steel box that cut off my senses, keeping me in some kind of black hole. I clung to the feeling of the void, terrified that this was what death was like or, even worse, that I was dead. Was this what vampires got in the afterlife? An eternal existence in oblivion? My questions were completely squashed as it happened.
A faint whispering sound was going by my ear, paired with the orchestra of trees groaning in the wind. Leaves whistled as, I assumed, that same wind whipped across them. I quickly became aware of the shallow breathing of someone next to me, though not on the same level as I. It became apparent that I must have been laying on my back.
The unmistakable sound of a heartbeat flooded my ears suddenly as I regained the sense of smell. I inhaled Styx's scent deeply, reassured one hundred percent that I wasn't dead. His musky scent filled me up, seeming to drag from the top of my body all the way down through my toes as I pulled the air in greedily. Shadowhunter scents were different then human ones. While humans smelled good in a hamburger kind of way, Shadowhunters smelled good in a nice kind of way, not in one that made me hungry.
And Allex Styx happened to smell the best of them all.
"Cece?" if I'd been able to move, I would've jumped a foot in the air at the sudden word that was practically yelled in my ear. Yepp, that was Styx alright.
"Please don't be dead," he whispered fervently. He was the only person I'd ever met who could really whisper loudly.
I heard a whooshing sound as well as a creaking one. It took me a moment to realize he must have been shaking my shoulders to wake me up, and the creaking sound was my bones grinding against each other as my head whipped back and forth. After a minutes, those two particular sounds stopped.
"Damn you and your pulseless body," Styx snapped a little bit further from my ears. Apparently, he'd tried to check my pulse. More like damn my senseless body, I mused to myself, chuckling inwardly at the silent pun. "How the hell am I supposed to tell if you're dead or undead? Damn it!"
Since I knew I was obviously not dead, everything he was saying was somehow hilarious to me. Hysterical relief, I decided. I briefly wondered what he would say if he knew I could hear everything that he was saying.
"They're alive. Hermione and Hawthorne are alright," he muttered before asking louder to no one in particular, "Now, are you alive?"
There was a pause in his breathing before I heard him crouch down to where I was. Confused, I strained my ears to hear anything else. His breaths were slow and even, closer to me now, only getting closer and closer. Though the air coming in and out of his lungs was rhythmic, not breaking pattern once, his heart was pounding crazily. Why did it sound like it was practically beating on top of me-
Then I felt it.
Soft, warm, and sweet; his mouth covered mine, pushing the sense of feeling back into my lips. Tingles flared throughout my body, starting around my mouth and spreading like a wildfire, chasing away the numbness everywhere. The steel cage was pulled off of my body, gradually, as the sense of feeling took over.
I gasped, throwing my eyes open in shock as the heat of his lips registered to me sluggishly. Styx was kissing me!
He pulled back abruptly at the sharp intake of breath and didn't even have the decency to look sheepish. All he did was give me a half grin, patted my knee, and pushed himself up off the ground. Even though he kept the outside perfectly calm, smug even, he could do nothing about the heartbeat that was thundering away in his body at getting caught. It was kinda cute, in a weird way.
"I was giving you CPR," he explained indifferently, whistling cheerfully as he looked at me out of the corner of his eye and winked, hands in his pockets. I felt a growl build up in my chest at his words, rumbling through my throat, stopping at my tightly clenched teeth.
"What made you think a vampire would need CPR? I was breathing just-"
"Shhh," he cut me off, covering my mouth as he whispered dramatically, "No you weren't."
"Idiot," I hissed against his hand, considering biting it just to cause him some pain. My stomach grumbled at the thought, reminding me that I had only drank breakfast today, causing venom to well up in my mouth as my fangs slowly slid down. I cut my breathing off automatically so as to not let the scent of any possible blood on his hand tempt me.
"Remove the hand," I commanded, using up the oxygen in my lungs. The sharpness of my order was lost in the fact that it was muffled against said hand. Another growl rumbled in my throat, threatening to escape my lips.
"Whoa, whoa, tigress," he said, dropping his hand and chuckling. It was then that I saw the fading marks on both of his hands, the two of them leaving behind faint scars on the back of his palms, one over lapping the ever-black rune of Sight on his left hand. I let my eyes roam further up his arms, noting every big and small thinlike marks left by the Angels' Runes. They covered most of his body, over his shoulders, torso, legs, and so on. Most of the scars were around the right area of his chest, over his heart. There were even some permanent ones that were woven in with the ones that weren't so permanent.
"Done ogling my body?" Styx asked, shimmying his chest dramatically. I laughed as he put his hand on his hip, doing an elaborate show of snapping his fingers in front of my face while saying in a high-pitched voice, "Don't make me take my stele off, girlfriend."
"It's scary how well you can do that," I cackled, doubling over at the very feminine look of fake outrage on his face. "Oh. No. You. Just. Didn't. Girlfriend."
That did it. I fell to my knees laughing, clutching my sides, even though the expected cramps never came. Sometimes, it was just plain weird being a vampire.
"So, where are we?" he asked in his normal voice after my lingering chuckles had subsided. I glanced around, suddenly unsettled. Giant trees were around us, there was some fog everywhere, and, now that I wasn't clouding up my ears with laughter, I heard the bone chilling noises that creeped through the woods.
"The forbidden forest, I think," I murmured quietly, jumping in to a predatory stance as a twig snapped from between some trees in front of us. Barely breathing, I slipped my hand into a pocket on my robes and pulled my wand out, not moving from my position.
"I'll take it from here, Shadowhunter Styx," a low voice said from the darkness. As my sight was the last of my senses to return, it wasn't as good as it should have been as my eyes struggled to adjust to the darkness of the space between the trees. Seconds after the voice had spoken, a man in long black robes seemed to glide from between the trees and towards us.
He stopped in front of us and looked down his slightly hooked nose, through the greasy-like curtain of hair that hung on either side of his face to his shoulders, and at the two of us. As soon as Styx caught sight of the man's face, he dropped to his knees, a look of respectful awe on his face. I was bemused. Since when did Styx show any respect to anyone other than himself?
"Shadowhunter Epans," Styx breathed, still looking at the greaseball of a man in obvious devotion. The man gave him a tight smile before turning his black eyes on me, going from an uptight mentor to a disgusted zookeeper all in the amount of one second. I felt an instant dislike for the Shadowhunter as he narrowed his onyx eyes at me.
"Downworlder," he hissed before jerking his head in the direction that he had come from. I suppose he had meant for me to follow, but for some strange reason, my feet stayed glued to where I stood, even though he was obviously the Shadowhunter that was to be assigned to me.
"Excuse me," I said through gritted teeth, keeping myself firmly planted still as he glowered at me. "Where will Sty-I mean, Shadowhunter Styx go?" It was safer to put a formal distance between myself and Styx in front of this man, I quickly decided.
"Shadowhunter Styx," Epans began quietly in a dangerous voice, glancing at Styx before putting those blat pits that were his eyes back on me with a warning glare, "Is going to go back to his station."
"But, Shadowhunter Epans, sir, Shadowhunter Madrid told me to give you this," Styx cut in hastily, pulling a folded sheet of paper from a pocket in his Shadowhunter gear and stumbling over to Epans, tripping over a tree root on the way, before finally getting the thing to the man. Epans snatched it from his hands and unfolded it, skimming whatever was on the small slip of paper.
"It seems," he said, looking up at Styx suspisciously, "that Shadowhunter Madrid has decided that this Downworlder will be your charge for the next year, young Shadowhunter Styx."
"I accept the assignment, sir," Styx said a little too innocently, even widening his eyes to add to the effect. I smirked at the livid look on the older Shadowhunter's face as he turned his glare on to Styx instead of me. Score one for Cece, I thought to myself gleefully. I wasn't sure what I felt for Styx, a guy that related to me in a way no other guy (or girl) had. Sure, we'd only known each other a few days, but those few days, plus that moment of 'CPR' that Styx performed, had me questioning my sexuality. I gave a small smile at that thought, reminding myself that Styx would be spending the next year with me. Gleeful was a slight understatement.
Suddenly, without a word, Epans turned on his heel and began to stroll through the trees at a brisk pace. I kept up with him with ease, irritating him probably, which might have been why he quickened his steps. I snorted quietly. Who did this mortal think he was? Poor Styx was practically jogging, trying to keep up with the two of us.
"Shadowhunter Epans, sir," Styx panted as he sprinted along side us, "What will the sleeping arrangements be? I understand that Section B, subclause seventy-two of the Accords regarding Fledgeling Charges states that a Shadowhunter and his or her charge-"
"-must sleep within ten feet of the other," Epans finished for him stiffly before continuing. "Section B, subclause seventy-three of the Accords regarding Fledgeling Charges also states that there can be no romantic entanglement-" insert glare at me here, "between the two due to the Vampiric Law against vampire and Shadowhunter relationships."
"Why?" I cut in, not even blinking from the loathsome look Epans sent me. I was already used to the prejudice nature most Shadowhunters seemed to hold against Downworld. Thankfully, Styx wasn't most Shadowhunters.
"It is not my job to try to understand the twisted workings of Downworlders," Epans snapped, making his legs move faster. Without warning, a hiss slipped through my teeth and I sprang in front of him, shaking with anger. He nearly walked in to me, but stopped himself to where we were practically nose to nose. Well, not nose to nose because he was considerably taller than me. All the same, we were glaring at each other.
"Let me make myself clear," I whispered in a deathly silent voice, not even wincing as my fangs split through my gums slowly, extending to their full length, which I knew was half an inch over my bottom lip. I hoped to Buddha or whatever higher force there was that this Shadowhunter was scared of me. As it was, his heart was beating fiercely against his ribs as he stared at me impassively.
"I am not just a Downworlder that will take your stupid comments-I am your equal or your superior. You treat me like your equal and I'll be your equal. You treat me like I'm lower than you and I'll show just how superior I am to you."
After my words, I bared my fangs in warning, letting the anger I'd been feeling for the past few hours leak out into what I said. Epans looked down his hooked nose at me before saying over his shoulder to Styx, "When was the last time she fed?"
That was it.
I sprang, knocking him to the ground, shrieking indignantly. How dare he speak about me as if I were not present?
I was no longer Cece, the hothead with a temper. No, I was a vampire with a hothead temper. Growling, I leaned in to rip his throat out, anger pounding through my body like nothing I'd ever felt before.
Right before my teeth met his skin, something pulled me off of him, pushing me into a tree. I hissed and struggled, only succeeding in elbowing the tree, causing splinters and wood chips to be knocked out of it in chunks. I was blind with rage. Nothing matter right now but for me to kill that snivelling, greasy-
"Cece," a warm voice said in front of me, tight with panic. The scent washed over me, hot and tingling-the scent of Styx. I relaxed automatically, noting the unusually strong, heated hands that held me against the tree that was now moaning unhappily as it swayed, about to probably fall over.
"This isn't you, Cece," Styx murmured, still holding me up to the tree in an iron clad grip. My moment of fury over, all I could register was the warmth of him and how his breath caressed my face softly. "You're not a bloodthirsty animal. You're Cece."
Just kiss me already, I begged silently, clenching my eyes shut. My mind flitted to the way his lips had brought me back from the mysterious void, flooding me with life. What would it feel like if my senses were working while he kissed me? Why had he even kissed me to begin with? Hadn't I made it perfectly clear from the beginning that I was not attracted to guys? And, because of that, why was I obsessing over the fact that he had kissed me like some butterfly-filled schoolgirl?
Against my will, my mind painted me a picture, one of Styx holding me up against a brick wall instead of a tree, in an American city instead of a creepy forest, whispering these things as he leans in to place his mouth on mine.
The picture turned to ashes as his hands dropped from my sides. I struggled to open my eyes, but realized I couldn't. Quiet air flew past my ears as I crumpled to the ground. Even that sound was muffled, like I was underwater. The sense of touch began to recede from my toes and my fingertips. The numbness washed over my body slowly, giving me barely enough time to open my mouth and let out a wordless scream that I couldn't hear, but could feel it vibrate through my body before the steel cage clutched me again, choking it off. The last thing I could sense as the void sucked me up in its darkness again was the smell. Styx's smell, to be exact.
And then it was black.
"Granger," Hawthorne's voice sounded as if it were a thousand miles away, ringing in my ears. I groped around blindly, taking quick breaths, trying to calm myself, as my body began to feel like it was full of lead. The taste of everything around me dissolved into nothingness while the scents turned dead. The sounds of my lungs working overtime shut off, even though I knew instinctively that I was still breathing. The darkness overwhelmed my eyesight, closing my body away like a flower shutting against the sun. I didn't know what to do.
After we had apparated to the gates outside of Hogwarts, I'd had to sit down because I felt so faint, which was strange because, being a vampire, I rarely ever felt the restrictions of any sort of mortality. But I'd felt sick, so I had sat down on the wet, cobbled stone as Hawthorne sent a message to someone who might have been in the castle to unlock the gates. The feeling that I was going to hurl was made worse by the memory of the death of Ginny.
And now I was in darkness, going mad with fear that something weird had happened to me. I racked my brains, picking it for anything from Leaguer Academy, trying to find a logical explanation for this, while also distracting myself from my grief. I didn't think I was dead, but that was still a possibility. There was also the fact that-
My internal ramblings cut off as my mind registered something softly touch the area that must have been my mouth. If I'd been able to move, I would've stiffened in surprise. A quick release of breath escaped my throat as I felt what seemed like hot water poured over my lips and spread throughout my body, warming me up and awakening my nerves. I stretched out my toes and fingers, mildly surprised to feel something hard and damp beneath my fingertips. It was the wet stone, I realized a moment later before my hearing returned along with my sense of smell.
"-loss of blood, Draco," the withering voice of Albus Dumbledore broke through the fog that filled my ears. I went rigid on the ground, listening to the sound of their heartbeats, of the lungs whistling down to their lungs, and the brushing of lips as they spoke.
"She's been using too much magic lately. Plus, the blood she's been drinking is muggle blood, so it's bound to have some sort of negative affect on her."
"But what about when I closed her mouth?" Hawthorne asked quickly, surprisingly close to my left ear. "She moved then!"
"Well, yes, but that's because her body felt the closeness of your blood to her mouth. It was enough to shock it out of its self-preservation state," Professor Dumbledore sounded cheerful as he explained this to Hawthorne, almost as if he were telling him something quite delightful like how sugar quills are made, whether than how my vampiric body worked.
"Self-preservation state?" the interest in Hawthorne's voice sparked my own, and I was suddenly very eager to know what had happened to me to make me go into that dark void. A shudder went through me as I recalled the utter blackness of the place.
"You see, Draco, when a vampire loses blood, or the venom in their body burns it out and it's not replaced, the vampire then shuts down so that the venom does no harm to their body in its search for the blood to burn. The vampire loses all of its senses and is unable to move until it's touched by something with blood in it. That something is usually then attacked and drained dry, therefore leaving a very healthy vampire and a very dead something."
At the end of the mini lesson, I felt my face get prodded gently before having my shoulder shook. I opened one eye and found myself gazing into the ancient face of Professor Dumbledore, who, of course, was giving me a large smile.
"Welcome back, Miss Granger," he said softly as he helped me up off of the ground. My legs wobbled but, to my surprise, Hawthorned lurched forward and held onto my waist before I could fall over.
"Thanks," I stammered as fire flared where he touched, even though it was through the thick robes. He smirked and tightened his hold as we began to walk in silence, making sure I didn't fall from my "self-preservation state".
"You arrived just in time," Dumbledore was walking ahead of us and through the gates that had been closed before I'd blacked out. "For one, you're American friend made it here not ten minutes before you did. Apparently, her and Shadowhunter Styx ran into Shadowhunter Epans in the Forbidden Forest. They exchanged words and now Shadowhunter Epans is in the infirmary from a slight concussion and Miss Cicily is drinking down blood to recharge her system."
"Professor Dumbledore, sir, you should know that we came from Diagon Alley and-"
"-it was overran by demons, but, Shadowhunter Hawthorne, the senior Shadowhunters came to the scene and managed to stop the madness and close the portal before anymore chaos could follow."
From the sadness in Dumbledore's voice, I assumed he knew about Ginny. I stared at my feet as we walked up to the castle, not even bothering to put in any input. It was my fault. If I could've gotten to her sooner, she'd still be alive.
"Have the Weasleys been notified?" I finally asked; I felt like I'd just been forced to dry swallow three giant pills as Dumbledore stopped abruptly at the double doors and gave me one of his X-raying staredowns.
"Yes," he murmured after a slight pause before glancing at Hawthorne, "But they are still unaware of your position, Shadowhunter Hawthorne. Therefore, I hope you understand when I tell you that I would appreciate it if, when we walk into the Great Hall, you go to the Head's dormitories while I take Miss Granger to the Hospital Wing to be examined by Madame Pomfrey-"
"Why can't I go with Granger? She's my charge," Hawthorne said hotly, glaring at Dumbledore. I was shocked as Hawthorne threw a quick glance at me before going back to glowering at him. Why did it matter?
"Draco," Dumbledore began evenly, looking over his half-moon spectacles at him. "The Weasleys and Mr. Potter are in the Hospital Wing waiting for Miss Granger so that she can tell them what happened to Miss Weasley. I am sure you do not want your cover revealed and-"
"Fine," Hawthorne said abruptly, dropping his arm from my waist as if it were diseased. I stumbled at the sudden loss of support, but caught myself as Hawthorne stormed off through the large double doors. A strange ache filled my chest as I watched him leave.
"Well, Miss Granger," Dumbledore said, looking at me, frowning slightly. "Although I hate the thought of asking you to do this, I have to, so if you could tweak your story slightly so as to make it sound like Draco Hawthorne was not with you during Ginny's death?"
I nodded, clenching my teeth shut tight. I couldn't trust myself to speak. I knew my voice would break if I did so.
He gave me a small smile before frowning to himself. His brows furrowed as he said, "I'm supposed to tell you something..."
After a second of muttering incoherently, Professor Dumbledore shrugged and began walking through the doors of Hogwarts. I followed him, feeling nervous about seeing Harry, Ron, and all of the Weasleys. I justified my lying to them about Ginny by telling myself that, one day, I would be able to tell them the truth. I could only hope that they'd understand why I'd lied.
Shadowhunter Madrid moved through the rubble that used to be the storage area of the warlock's joke shop. Countless pieces of products littered the destroyed room, making it dangerous to even take on step. Mentally cursing warlocks of all types, Madrid quickly drew the rune for strength on his chest using his stele and set about moving the bits of wall and ceiling around to expose the crumbling hole that was the portal.
A vast circle of blackness was open below him, making him slightly nervous as the High Warlock, Sterling Wholf (one of the few that became immortal before the law against warlock immortality was passed) strode up behind him, muttering spells underneath his breath. Madrid pushed debris away from the outer edge of the portal, fascinated with how quickly it was closing, due to the Wholf's magic.
As the portal shut with a startling clicking sound, Madrid stalked out of the room, not even bothering to thank the warlock that had followed him out. It was his job, after all, to take care of his race when it came to portals from Hell opening. All the Shadowhunters were required to do was keep the piece between the Downworlders and kill the demons-which they'd done. Every last demon had been hunted down and destroyed using the various weapons Shadowhunters used, and with only two Shadowhunters and seventeen warlocks dead or injured in the process. That, Madrid rationalized, was something to be proud of.
It wasn't everyday Hell opened up and only killed a handful of Downworlders. They should be grateful, in Madrid's opinion. The Shadowhunters did most of the work, albeit closing the actual portal.
While Madrid and Wholf left what had been the portal, both failed to notice the tall woman that stood in the shadows of the room, waiting for them to leave. As their footsteps died, she stepped out into the light, holding the body of the girl who had opened the portal.
The woman had long raven black hair that barely brushed the floor, moving in dramatic waves whenever she shifted her body, almost as if she were under water. Large, scarlet eyes flattered her white skin, sending a quick thrill of fear at anyone who had the bad luck to meet her cold stare. A flowing black dressed twisted and writhed on its own as she walked forward, still holding the girl whose life had been given to set the woman free of her demonic prison.
She set the girl down where the portal had been, placing her palm on the girl's forehead while pulling her red hair free of the blood-covered braid as a mother would for her daughter before she went to sleep.
"My darling, my daughter, you are not dead. Children of Lilith will not die when they help their mother, no they will not," the woman whispered, smiling a sly smile as the young girl jerked suddenly, taking in a sharp breath as her heart was set into motion once more. "Come back, my daughter. Come back to serve your mother."
Ginny Weasley's eyes opened as air was forced in and out of her lungs, as her heart pounded loudly against her ribs, as life was brought back into her body.
Hey readers! I am so sorry for the weeks of making you wait! You see, I was at my cousin's house and they don't have internet, so I couldn't update as fast as I wanted to, but it's ok now because I've finally updated and I hope you enjoyed everything that happened in this chapter! Oh, and I'm also sorry if it was too long for you guys but, once again, I hope you enjoyed it! And thank you so much to my wonderful reviewers! Y'all have given me such inspiration!! I was sooo happy when I logged in and found all of those reviews:)) Thank you guys and girls. Really does make my day to hear how much y'all are likin' my story:)
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