A Day and A Night

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Chapter 10: A Mate and a Mistake:

Draco Apparated to the side of the loch to find Milo already there. Milo turned to him and said, “She doesn’t know, does she?”

“Know what?” Draco asked, though he knew what the man was asking.

He grinned and said, “You are not that lacking in perception. You know what I mean. I sensed it when I saw you together in the bookstore. I could almost smell it, the connection is so strong. I knew she wasn’t mine when I held her hand, so I can only assume she’s yours and that’s why you’re with her. Tell me if I’m wrong.”

Draco almost snarled and said, “I really don’t have to tell you a thing.”

“That confirms that she doesn’t know,” Milo said triumphantly. “When did you know? Most Valdes males have the first inkling as to who’s their mate when they’re around 14 to 15 years old. It’s sketchy, not a fully realized picture, but when they meet them, they know.”

“I’m not Valdes am I?” Draco snapped.

“No, but we are closely related. No matter how diluted your Veela blood, it’s still there. I’m just curious. You don’t have to tell me anything,” Milo said. He looked around and then he said, “Shouldn’t Miss Granger have been here by now?”

Draco hadn’t even noticed that she wasn’t with them, which upset him more than the questions this man had been asking. So much for Dorchester’s theory, if he couldn’t even tell she wasn’t with them! He immediately Apparated back to the alley, followed by Milo. The alley was empty, save for the satchel, the abandoned broom, and a small puddle of blood.

Draco inhaled deeply and drew his wand. He closed his eyes and tried to sense her. Milo bent down and inhaled the smell of the blood. He too, closed his eyes. He looked up at Draco and said, “The blood is hers. I’ve never had her blood, but her smell is distinct.”

“Where the hell is she?” Draco began to pace the alleyway, ignoring the rage he was beginning to feel at the statement 'the blood is hers'. He ran toward the back of the alley, near the back entrance of the store and he discovered a body.

Milo was right behind him. It was obvious that it was the body of a man who had been killed by magic. Draco knelt by the man and turned him around. There was a gun in his hand. Draco stood and kicked the dead man in the ribs. He cursed, swore, and then he hit the side of the brick wall, almost breaking his hand.

Milo said, “Are you finished.” The other man was eerily calm. “I will take care of this man’s body. I trust you can follow her scent?”

“I’m not a dog. I don’t follow scents!” Draco bellowed.

Milo merely raised his eyebrows and said, “Fine, just find her. I’ll take care of this cretin, dispose of his body, and search for his friends. I have their scents firmly stored to memory. Meet me back at the loch. If you’re not there in an hour, I’ll join in the search for her.”

“No one has to search for me,” said a soft voice.

Draco rushed toward the backdoor of the bookstore. She sat huddled in the threshold. He fell to his knees in front of her. She was holding her upper left arm with her right hand. “I killed that man, Draco. I’m going to go to prison.” She looked as if she wanted to cry.

“Did he hurt you? Are you shot?” Draco cupped her cheek, and then forced her hand away from her arm. Her jacket was crimson with blood. Draco couldn’t tell how badly she was injured, however her pallor was almost as pale as his, and her eyes were glazed with tears. He wanted nothing more than to bring her to his arms, and take her away from here, but he couldn’t.

Milo came to them and he said, “How badly is she injured?”

Draco shook his head and said, “I can’t tell. Hermione, we have to remove your jacket.”

She shook her head too, and replied, “No. Just take me to St. Mungo’s. The Aurors will want to question me, and I would rather be back in London when they do so.”

“Why would Aurors want to question you?” Milo asked sternly.

She looked up at him and said, “I killed a man!”

“I gather it was self-defense, or at least a fair fight, correct?” he replied, matter of fact.

“Yes, but that doesn’t matter. The other man saw me. He saw I had a wand! He ran away! After it all happened, I came back in here to see if the third man was still in the store, and he is, but still, the one man is bound to tell someone!” She looked directly at Draco and she said, “I don’t want to go to jail. I can’t believe I killed someone.”

“I can’t believe it either,” Draco said sincerely. He stood up and pulled her to her feet. She swayed, so he put his arm around her. “I suppose we’ll have to abandon this investigation, before it’s even started. You’ll need to go to Hospital, and I’ll need to call my superiors and Potter.”

Milo interrupted and said, “No. You must find the murderer of the young girls and of the witch Violet Edgewater. We cannot have this hanging over our village. We are vilified enough, without being thought of as murderers. I want to bring our village into the modern age. I want to bring it respectability. I want so much for my people!”

Hermione had not heard him speak so passionately since she had met the man. She leaned her head on Draco’s chest. “I’m sorry I failed you, Mr. Dorchester.”

“Mr. Malfoy and I failed you, Miss Granger, but all will be righted. I promise from this point on that you have my protection, and that is not an oath I make to just anyone. Once it is given, it cannot be retracted. I will destroy the body of the man in the alley, and I will locate his friend and kill him as well, and then we can go about our business,” he said, once again without passion.

This time Draco was slightly appalled. “You speak of respectability, and of bringing your people into the modern age, but killing people and disposing of their bodies isn’t the way to go about that.” To Draco, this man’s ideology was reminiscent of the mind-set that he grew up with…that of Death Eaters. This man felt the ends justified the means, and it was exactly the way his father always thought. It made him sick.

Draco then said, “I may be a bastard, and according to Granger, a rude one at that, but I have some morals. I won’t be a party to this, and I won’t let her be a party, either.”

“Wait, Draco,” Hermione said. “He has a slight point. If we call in the Ministry now, there will be a full investigation, and they’ll either go in with a variable army of Aurors to wipe out the Valdes, or they’ll forgo the investigation, fire you for dereliction of duty, arrest me, I’ll go to trial, and I might lose my job. The most important thing of all is that three women’s deaths will be pushed under the rug, and there’ll be no one who cares if they’re avenged or not.”

“Damn,” Draco muttered. “You need healed!”

“We have Healers,” Milo said. “I suggest we get back to the loch and leave now. The man left in the bookstore, is he secure?”

“He is temporarily stunned,” Hermione said.

Draco said, “You took on three men, one with a gun, and you were shot. I’m in awe of you, Princess. Complete and utter awe. You don’t need me at all.” He smiled as he said it. “Will you let me Disapparate with you, this time?”

“Where’s the satchel? It has all of our things,” Hermione inquired.

Milo held it up. He handed it to Draco and said, “I must go wipe the memory of the unconscious man in the store, and then I must locate the other man. I believe I know where to find him. Meet me at the loch.”

He started in the doorway and Hermione said, “Don’t kill him, or the other man, please. Just wipe their memories. There’s been enough killing, okay?”

“I’ll abide to your wishes, Miss Granger, for now,” he said. He bowed slightly before he disappeared into the dark bookstore, which Hermione found odd but endearing, and Draco found irritating. He placed the satchel over his shoulder, across his chest, and he held her against his body with his arms around her.

They looked in each others eyes. He said, “What a load of trouble you are, Granger.”

“You, too,” she said. She placed her head on his chest again. It had been a long day.

He said, “You do realize if you had just taken my hand and let me Apparate with you to the loch the first time, none of this would have happened, right?”

She had no comeback for that fine retort. He knew she didn’t, and even though it wasn’t the right moment, he smiled, because he felt rather smug. He Apparated them both to the loch, to await Milo Dorchester.

Forty-five minutes later, high in the night sky, following an eagle, Draco held Hermione in front of him on the make-shift, rickety broom. She leaned heavily against him, her eyes closed. He looked down at her arm again. The bleeding had stopped. They had no time to examine her wound, but he was sure it was more than a graze, as she kept insisting.

When they crossed the expanse of water, the trees grew larger, as they flew over a large forest. There were moments when he had trouble keeping the broom aloft, and their feet skimmed the tops of the trees. He felt an overwhelming sense of doom and gloom as they flew over the mass of trees. This place held primordial magic, and Draco didn’t like it one bit. The stench of it whirled in his senses, mixing with the desire he felt for her, and for one brief moment he felt off-kilter.

The eagle circled back around them, sensing Draco’s immediate confusion. Draco shook his head to clear his mind, wrapped his left arm around her tighter, and pulled up on the broom with his right hand, to clear the trees, which seemed to grow larger and larger still.

He closed his eyes again, and took in the scent of her. She was here in his arms, just as she had been in his mind and his dreams for the past ten years. For ten years, since Draco was fifteen years old, he had known, or felt, that she was to be his, and when he was younger, he hated that thought, because he hated her. He had denied it for so very long that it was hard to admit it now.

Yet, with her here in his arms, settled in front of him, cradled between his thighs, he felt a contentment that he didn’t know could exist. It settled over him like a calm in a storm. He was no longer in denial, she felt right in his arms. Would she ever accept it? Would he? He wanted it to be more than ‘ancient Voodoo Veela’ magic. He wanted to want her for her, and he wanted her to want him for him. He wanted their mutual desire to be natural, and not anything to do with magic. That was what he needed.

“Draco?” she said, bringing him out of his thoughts.

“Yes?” he asked back, in barely a whisper.

“Do you feel it?” she asked. “Do you feel the ancient magic?”

Before he could respond, the eagle, which was barely a speck in the dark sky, dipped low toward an approaching valley. Moonlight bathed a primeval, archaic castle, surrounded by the tall, primal trees. This was it. This was Rhodeana Castle. They were here.

Milo had already landed and assumed his human form. Draco landed as easily as he could. The other man was there, and Draco was forced to pass her to his waiting arms. Milo’s strides were long and demanding as he carried her into the massive manor, but Draco remained by his side. Draco could tell this land belonged to this man, and this man belonged to this land. It was in the way the other man walked. It was in the way he carried himself, and it hung in the air like a mist.

Once at the castle’s massive double doors, Milo utter a single word, in a language that Draco had never heard before. He said, “Teasairg,” and the doors unlocked and opened partially. Milo kicked the doors in with his foot, since Hermione was still in his arms.

A younger man, who looked enough like Milo to be his brother, a beautiful blonde woman, and an older man all came running into the hall. “Get a Healer, now!” he demanded. The pretty blonde woman ran out of the great hall toward the back of the castle at his command.

He started up the stairs, but turned and without grace or proclamation, handed her over to Draco. He said, “Forgive me. She is yours. Follow me.”

Draco started up the stairs, Hermione in his arms, and the magic in the air was so tangible he could feel it thrumming through his body, tingling his senses, and for the first time he wondered what they had gotten themselves into, and he also wondered if they would be able to get themselves out of it. He looked back down at her; she was staring at his face. He finally answered the question she asked earlier when they were in the sky. He said, “I feel it, Hermione. I feel it.”

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