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I updated! Again, I hope this chapter doesn’t confuse anyone and thankyou to my reviewers I’m glad you like this story so far! Oh, and Merry Christmas to everyone! CHAPTER 6 The beast bent in front of his mirror, trying adamantly to flatten the fur that stuck out in all direction on top of his head. When he could not succeed, he growled deeply and sneered at himself with frustration. He thrust the wooden comb onto the floor, resulting in it scattering to bits. ‘Having a bad hair day master?’ Bardy said with amusement, watching the sight from the door. ‘Come in and close the door.’ The beast said dismissively. ‘Is there anything you could do to fix this?’ ‘Your…hair?’ The elf said, hiding a smile. ‘Yes, hair…or fur. Whatever!’ The beast snapped in his usual grumpy manner. ‘You’re not telling me you are suddenly vain just because there is a beautiful lady in the castle master?’ The elf mocked, but not arrogantly. ‘Of course not, I’ve always despised my hair.’ The beast replied a little too quickly. ‘Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Are the kitchen elves serving breakfast yet?’ ‘As soon as you arrive sir.’ Bardy replied, reinstating a tone of servitude. ‘Good. I will come now.’ Bardy was about to leave but he was interrupted. ‘Just one more thing, do I look alright?’ Bardy’s eyes glimmered and he smiled despite himself. ‘Fabulous.’ He replied. It was true, the beast was in fact becoming quite frustrated by his own appearance, especially now that there was a guest in his home. He needn’t have much to worry about however because Hermione had grown accustomed to his brutal exterior after three weeks of spending half of each day in each other’s company, and was instead liking herself to his personality. Looking beyond the reserved and cautious harshness of his immediate personality, it was easy to see and lonely individual who longed for company and kindness. From experience, Hermione knew that his actions reflected the lack of love and attention in his past. Perhaps it was his gnawing need for a friend that made him keep her at his castle. By now Hermione was certain the wolves had disappeared, probably the day after her arrival, but she stayed, not wanting to desert the wretched creature. It was almost as if she had taken him into her care. It was upon meeting with the beast for breakfast that morning that Hermione once again noticed the beast’s humanlike qualities. This realisation continually reminded her of the need to find information about the history of the castle, especially who the owners had been. An opportunity arose that very day, August 15th. The beast had a surprise for her. ‘I have something to show you this morning.’ He said. ‘I wonder what?’ She said curiously. ‘You’ll see. I thought it would be of some interest to you.’ He replied mysteriously. Hermione looked at him with open eyes. ‘You have to tell me now, I’m so curious!’ ‘Really?’ Replied the beast. ‘I hadn’t taken you for a curious person.’ Hermione stared confused at the statement, not knowing what to make of it. The beast merely smiled and said, ‘You will see soon enough.’ Hermione hadn’t thought that the beast would actually show her anything worth while so she was utterly thrilled when he led her into a very large, majestic library. ‘I’ve never seen such a large library, not even in London!’ She exclaimed with joy. ‘I knew you would like it.’ He replied, unable to hide his glee at her reaction though he knew she would love it. ‘How could you know that?’ She asked briefly. He shrugged. ‘You just seem the type that likes books.’ ‘You have excellent intuition then because I do love books!’ She said. ‘What books do you have here?’ ‘Why don’t you take a look?’ Hermione raced from one bookshelf to another, almost skipping the whole time. The beast watched her with amusement. She hardly opened any books in her ecstasy but simply read the titles, looking for something familiar or interesting. She felt a sudden wave of concern and disquiet upon noticing that many books were related to the dark arts. This was curious information indeed; she would take note of this new clue and write it on her parchment. The beast studied her, unaware of her calculating mind. It had not occurred to him that she might be suspicious of his dark art books; in fact, it had been a while since he had examined those books himself that he hardly thought about the consequences of Hermione’s discovery. But she had turned to him with a brilliant smile and thanked him for the delightful surprise. He felt warmed, as usual, by her bright moods and even a soft glow of contempt at her happiness. So this is what it felt like to be nice to people? The beast had never really been kind to anyone. He realised it wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be. He felt a stab of regret and resentment toward his father and family of death eaters. Once again they had deprived him of something useful that could have helped him a long time ago. Why, he would not be in this mess now if it weren’t for their philosophies. But that was in the past; he would not continue to dwell in another time when he had enough to deal with in the present. It was no use wasting his thoughts on the people he despised anyway, it would only place him in another fowl mood. He couldn’t afford black moods when he was trying to win a lady’s heart. THAT NIGHT: Somewhere in the distance, the sound of thunder echoed luminously. Any sign of pale moonlight or stars had vanished, replaced by stark black. A low moaning sounded through the night and the forest trees danced in unison to the fast rhythm of the wind. Hermione woke with a start by the sudden ear-splitting sound of panicked birds chirping outside. Rushing to the window, for the curtains were almost blowing away, the alerted witch gazed at the scenery that met her eyes. She had not seen weather this bad in a long time; in fact, she had never seen such a violent storm brewing. The sky was plagued with flashing lightning and the dark clouds moved quickly, looming over the countryside, stretching beyond the distant hills. Hermione grabbed her cloak, shivering as a cold draught entered from under the rattling shutters of the rickety windowsill. The pressure against the glass was frighteningly powerful. It must have been very strong glass to keep from cracking. Hermione fought to keep her mind from thinking about what she had learned from Divinations. Naturally she had dropped the class after a few lessons, but before hand she had read the entire textbook for the subject, learning it back to front. What was troubling her was the distinct feeling that told her this storm was a bad omen; that something dreadful was or had already happened. However, she forcefully brushed the thought aside, reminded herself that Divinations was a load of rubbish. Outside her spacious compartment, Hermione heard the sound of scattering feet, and hushed but hurried voices. She crept to the door, holding a lantern in front of her. She poked her head out of the door, frightening the small group of elfs with the sudden light. ‘Why is Miss not sleeping?’ One elf asked, it’s trepidation revealed through it’s trembling voice. ‘I was awoken by the storm.’ Hermione replied calmly, accustomed to the nervous nature of the elfs. ‘Is this weather normal around here?’ The elfs merely exchanged glances as they usually did when they were asked a question but his time decided to ignore hers. ‘Miss should go back to bed and not worry. The storm will be over in the morning.’ They scattered away into the deep darkness before Hermione had the chance to retort. How odd She thought. It was obvious that something was wrong and her curiosity got the better of her. Barely minutes later, the brunette found herself wondering through the dark in close pursuit of the tiny creatures. All she wore was her fluffy slippers and her cloak that were not doing much to keep her warm. It was not long before she ascertained the location where the vague sound of conversation, or argument, was taking place. With furrowed brow, and with long stretched ears, Hermione again wondered what on earth was going on. Surely it was not a simple case of storm phobia? The voices grew clearer as she drew nearer… ‘All your talk of fate is not helping the master Bindy. There must be something we can do!’ ‘Like what? We is not able to make it happen.’ A high-pitched voice sounded, announcing Bindy’s reply. There was silence. ‘But…there is only two petals left now. We is not knowing what time is left.’ The first elf’s voice was somewhat softer this time. A few voices murmured, ‘Poor Master’ and Hermione felt herself moving ever closer to the ajar door that lead to the kitchens; and the assembly. A few faces reached her view as she spied on the group. Not taking much careful precision, Hermione managed to let her weight slip casually onto the door, causing it to move ever so slightly, yet also created a tiny creak. Fortunately the sound of the storm outside drowned out the sound but to Hermione’s horror, one head turned around suspiciously. She hid in the shadow, holding her breath tightly and hoping she wouldn’t be caught. She realised it was time to leave. It was no use getting into any predicaments and lose the beast’s trust. She began making her way back to her apartment but stopped in her tracks when a thought struck her. It was the perfect time to investigate the library for information. Nobody would interrupt her or be suspicious and she could stay there as long as she wanted without disturbing anybody. It was a direct rout to her destination. She felt the familiar exhilaration upon entering the hall full of ancient looking books. Even the aroma of paper excited her senses and she itched to bury herself in a large book. She fought to control these urges and managed – just. It was a horrible realisation, seeing just how many books related to black magic and seductions into evil complacency. She feared that the beast was involved in black practices but discharged the notion by reminding herself of his gentle spirit and kind regards. He could not be a servant of evil. There was no way. Hermione frowned in concentration. That meant that whoever lived here previously was or were heavily influenced by it. And if that was so, they had probably been in league with Voldemort, unless of course they had lived a very long time ago. Another thought presented itself. Her discussions with Lediny, Bardy’s young daughter, had given her the impression that the castle had been thriving and a busy place before ‘…it happened.’ And she was only ten years old. After reading several passages from a book on animal experimentations a crazy thought popped into her head. What if the beast had been some sort of experiment by the previous owners of this castle? At least it would explain the fact that she had never heard of that particular type of creature. Somehow she doubted this new theory. Even magic couldn’t create a new species. But could it manipulate the genes of an animal, and transform appearances? She wondered around the library some more, wondering if she was ever going to find what she was looking for when all of a sudden the large windows at the end of the room flew open and a gushing wind came blowing in. Hermione ducked as books flew out of their posts and hurtled across the room. She had to get out before one knocked her unconscious. Unfortunately for her there was no escaping until the books closest to the window had all fallen out of the shelves. The books closer to the door were still in their rightful positions. She crouched on the floor with her arms over her head until finally and miraculously, the windows closed on their own accord. It seemed the wind had swung them back into place and astonishingly they hadn’t cracked or broken. Hermione heaved a sigh of relief until she noticed the mess. She groaned loudly but realised she couldn’t possibly be put to blame. The house elves would certainly have a big job ahead of them, she thought sympathetically. Maybe she should help them out. She was about to make an exit but taking one last look at the bare shelves she noticed something peculiar. One book alone stood unmoved. It was large and black and had no inscriptions upon it. It was curios that this book alone should not fall though it was in the most vulnerable position to the blast of furious wind. Something drew her closer to inspect this detail. She was just tall enough to reach the height of the book and closed her fingers around its cover. Her attempt to bring it down was futile however, because it only moved downward about forty-five degrees, and that took some force. She could not pull it any further. How could it be stuck when there wasn’t anything holding it to the shelf? All of a sudden, the bookshelf began moving on its own. Hermione froze as it came forward and then slid to the side revealing a tiny cluttered chamber. Hermione, having realised the purpose of the book, warily peered inside the chamber. It was dark and her lantern had extinguished due to the forceful wind. But a shade of moonlight appeared momentarily from behind a blanket of dark clouds and revealed a small section of the room. It looked a bit like a study really, with a desk and cluttered books. There were many spider webs, Hermione observed. For how long had this room been deserted and forgotten? She shivered with the powerful sense of foreboding. She mustn’t stay here. She began to edge away, the moonlight having now completely vanished. Quickly she turned hoping the shelf would put itself back in it’s place when something suddenly touched her foot. She jumped. Turning, heart pounding in her chest, Hermione saw that it was just a scroll that had rolled out of the room. She picked it up just in time to see the shelf move back to its original position. Opening the scroll to see its contents was futile for the room was far too dark to see any writing. So she resigned to having a look once back in her lodging. She was once again startled. What lay in front of her both frightened and bewildered Hermione. There was nothing on the floor. It was as if the wind had never knocked the books over for they were all back on the shelves neatly tucked away. What’s happening? She asked herself, now frightened beyond control. She ran for it, not turning back until she was safely in her quarters. She lit every candle in the room and buried herself within a pile of blankets. Something very strange had just occurred. Was she hallucinating? Going mad? Shakily she unrolled the scroll that was evidence of her sanity and stared at what lay within. It was a family tree. Suddenly her eyes widened with curiosity. Finally she had found something useful. She read the names slowly, looking for familiarity. It was a long scroll, many names. It took some time before she reached the bottom section. And there, in neat ink writing, were the clear names of the final generations. This time, the names were very familiar: Lucius Malfoy---Narcissa Malfoy Draco Malfoy Hermione slumped back against her pillow in a dead faint.

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