A Day and A Night

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Chapter 14: A Clan and a Wrist:

Draco let go of her shoulders only to move one of his hands down to her wrist. The birds from earlier were once again flying overhead. Draco could see them through the opening in the trees, although he was watching Milo more than he was watching the birds.

“Call off your buzzards, Dorchester,” Draco ordered.

Milo held up the grey, wool coat he had given Hermione earlier and said, “I’ll call them off when you release her arm and let her walk over to me. You’re scaring her.”

“No, your flock is scaring her,” Draco said.

“Her can talk,” Hermione said with disgust. “Why are the birds here, Milo?”

“They smelled your blood, as did I, and they came to investigate. That’s all there is to it. One member from each clan came. They could tell it was blood of an outsider, and I could tell it was your blood. I’ve committed the smell of your blood to memory, from when you were shot. I tracked you as far as your coat, then I saw the birds overhead, and I made them leave the first time, although they had a valid reason for investigating,” he defended.

“And now?’ Hermione asked. She looked up toward the birds. So did Draco.

“Now they think Malfoy is a threat, so they mean to protect,” Milo said, cocking his head to the side, as if it were obvious.

“Protect me?” Hermione asked. “Listen, I didn’t mean that, what I said. Draco would never hurt me.”

“Oh, I know,” Milo responded. “At least, he wouldn’t mean to, but at the moment, he can’t quite control himself, and it’s apparent no one has ever explained his heritage. Nevertheless, the other clan members are here right now to protect me. They seem to feel there will be a fight between Malfoy and myself.”

Hermione looked from one man to the other, just as Draco, who had dropped her wrist, drew out his wand. Milo dropped the grey coat and drew out his. Hermione stepped between them and said, “This is stupid! Why would you two fight? There’s no need! I’m fine!” She turned toward Milo and said, “You said it yourself, he wouldn’t hurt me, so you don’t need to protect me.”

“I’m afraid it’s gone beyond that now,” Milo said slowly. “The fight is still over you, but now it’s not over your protection, but over something much more, isn’t that right, Malfoy?”

Somehow, Draco knew exactly what the other man meant. “Hermione, step behind me.” Draco held out his hand.

“No, this is ridiculous. Stop this! Milo, we’ve found another body!” Hermione started toward Milo, but Draco reached forward and grabbed her wrist again. He yanked her toward him.

“Let go of her wrist, Malfoy,” Milo said. “You know you aren’t in control at the moment. You’ve not been taught to control your bloodlust. What if she falls again, scraps her knee, or cuts her cheek on a twig? What will you do? It’s for the best. Let her come with me right now.” He too held out his hand.

“I don’t have bloodlust!” Draco shouted. “I’m not a fucking vampire!”

Everyone was still. Hermione’s heart was beating loudly in her ears. Both men were breathing evenly, Draco a bit heavier than Milo. Hermione finally said, “Milo, please, call off the other birds, because they do frighten me. Draco, please, let go of my wrist. We have a job to do. We have to take care of the new body we found.”

Milo nodded and with a mere wave of his free hand, the birds flew away. He placed his wand back in his pocket. Draco let go of Hermione’s wrist, and placed his wand back in his pocket, however, he did so reluctantly. Hermione pointed toward the overgrowth of trees and said, “Beyond the path is another body. We just found it. The grave looks new.”

Milo stood steady, then nodded, and then proceeded to walk toward the grave. Draco and Hermione followed. With reverence, he kneeled by the head of the makeshift grave. Removing some of the wrapping from around her face with his wand, he stood suddenly, sucking in his breath. “Her name was Jennifer Craven. She went missing five years ago, from the village across the loch. I had no idea she ever came to Glendora. She was not a witch as far as I know. She was a nice girl. I talked to her a few times. She always seemed lonely and sad.”

“Did you have a relationship with her?” Draco asked.

Milo nodded.

“Then you’re a suspect,” he accused with a point of his finger.

“Not that type of relationship. She was one of the few people from the other village that wasn’t afraid of me. I even told her about our village, and some of our secrets. I knew she wouldn’t tell anyone, because she told me her secrets, too. She was from an abusive home. I told her that someday, perhaps she could come and live here, if we ever let Muggles come. We were friends, nothing more.”

Draco walked up to him, pointed at his chest and said, “You’re still a suspect.”

Hermione looked back down at the exposed part of the body, the girl's face and hair, and said, “She’s been missing for five years? This is a corpse that has been here for five years? This is a new grave, but even putting that aside, this body is as preserved as the others we found. How could she have been killed five years ago?”

“I said she went missing five years ago. I know there was a massive search for her. I even helped,” Milo said.

“You did a ruddy bad show of it,” Draco complained.

“Malfoy, shut up,” Hermione said. She felt sorry for Milo. She could see that he felt genuine sadness seeing this dead girl.

“You shut up and let me do my job,” he harked. “For now I say we conceal the body. We must do that for now. I need to examine it some more, and I’ll put up wards and protection spells, take some more evidence, and then you can do you little DNA thing later, Granger, and then I guess I’ll tell Potter, but only him.”

“We can’t do that,” Hermione complained. “I mean, yes, we should examine everything, and tell Harry, but we can’t conceal it. Someone is still missing her…a mother, a father. Draco, you’re an Auror. You can’t hide a crime.”

He approached her carefully and gently he touched her arm. “I’m not hiding the crime, but for now I think its best that we don’t tell everyone at the Ministry what we’ve found and I also think its best that the murderer doesn’t know we came upon the body.”

“Especially as it looks as if the body was recently moved,” Milo agreed. “The killer might have been afraid you would find it where it was previously hidden, and they moved it here, so perhaps we might lay a trap here. See if they come back to this spot.”

“I agree,” Draco said.

“What? You agree with your main suspect?” Hermione snapped.

“Oh, he’s not really suspect, well, maybe he is, but mostly he just irritates the hell out of me,” Draco said openly.

“The feeling is mutual,” Milo said without emotion.

Draco began to put up protection and concealment charms and wards, which would only admit him or Hermione to the crime scene. He concealed the body back in the grave. While he was working, Hermione stepped closer to Milo.

“How did you know to come here? How did you know I needed you?”

He reached for her cheek. He brushed a single finger down her face and said, “I told I would protect you. I told you all you needed to do was to call for me and I would be there for you.”

“I didn’t call for you,” she pointed out.

“Not with words,” he said, “but in your heart.” He picked up her previously injured hand and looked at it. There was now only a slight, white line to show that it was ever injured. He touched it with his finger. “Don’t be scared of Malfoy. He’s not accustomed to our ways yet, or to what he’s to become, but he wouldn’t hurt you. He couldn’t. I knew that even when I challenged him a moment before.”

Draco stood and watched the pair, and a surge of jealously coursed through him, even though the words the other man stated seemed to be on his behalf. The feeling almost knocked him over, it was so strong. He approached the pair and said, “If your intimate tête-à-tête is over, we have an old castle to look at, and the morning is all but over now. Come on Granger.” He took her wrist again. For some reason, he was afraid of touching her hand. He looked at Milo and said, “Fly away, bird; we don’t need you here.”

Milo smiled, lifted the grey jacket from the path and said, “Do you need this coat, Hermione?”

“No, I’m fine,” she answered, even as Draco said, “She doesn’t need anything from you.”

He dropped it back on the path, which Hermione found strange, and he pointed toward another path and said, “Take that path north, for almost half a kilometer, and then go east, and you’ll see my old ancestral castle. That’s the place where both girls were studying the runes. There’s a chamber in the old dungeons that were used for ceremonies, and there are runes on the walls, and stone carvings on the floors.”

“Why don’t you live there now?” Hermione asked.

“It was destroyed in a fire when Iver and I were very small. Both our parents were killed. MacNeill was our godfather, so we came to live with him. Rhodeana Castle belonged to my mother’s family. Dorchester castle is the one that was destroyed.”

“Did Mr. MacNeill and Cat live in Rhodeana Castle before you came to live with them?” Hermione asked. Draco looked bored, but he was actually interested in hearing the answers as well.

“Yes, MacNeill was my mother’s second cousin,” he said. He leaned forward, and with a smile said, “It’s all so incestuous, all this intermarriage, pureblood nonsense, you know?” He laughed when Hermione made a funny face and he said, “They’re part of our clan.”

Draco began walking, deciding that if Hermione wanted to keep talking to the man, she could. Without realizing it, Hermione and Milo began walking behind Draco, and he continued to answer her questions.

“Tell me about the clans,” Hermione asked. She almost stumbled on the path again when she stepped on a wobbly rock, but he reached out to steady her. As he did so, he purposely looked up at Draco at the exact moment that his hand touched her arm. As he expected, Draco had looked back at that exact moment, too. Draco glared hard at the other man, but Milo kept her arm. In fact, he laced her arm through his. Draco fumed, but turned back around. He knew the other man was challenging him somehow.

Milo answered finally by saying, “Legend has it that there was one original Veela and one original Vampire who mated. My clan comes from them. Their names were Andre and Katrina. Our original surname would be unpronounceable to most humans; so many years ago the clan took a more Anglo sounding name, Dorchester.”

“Hundreds of years after this first mating, six more Vampires came and mated with six more Veela. Two of these Veela were Katrina’s younger sisters. Our clan is the primal clan, their clans became the known as the greater clans, and they rank right below mine. The other four are know as the lesser clans. The law of the greater clans, especially the primal clan, my own, is law.”

“Each clan has a leader among it, who sits on the council of elders. Each clan is free to marry from the other clans. The woman becomes part of her husband’s clan, so we’re all related in some way. There’s an ancient law that at least one member of each individual family within each clan has to have at least one pureblood marriage, to keep the clan bloodline's pure, which means for these people, they must marry within their own clan, meaning they can only marry those with no impurities and they cannot seek intermarriage from other clans. For my family, that marriage will be my brother Iver and Catrìona.”

“So they’ve already known from birth that they're mates?” she asked. Draco slowed down to hear the answer to this question. He was curious about the whole ‘mate’ thing.

Milo smiled and said, “Enough questions for now.” Draco wondered why the man was avoiding answering this one question, when he had been so open about everything else.

“Why wouldn’t you be the one to have to marry the pureblood from the original bloodline, since you’re the leader of the clan?” she persisted.

Draco finally walked over to them and said, “The man said that was enough for now, and besides, we’re here.”

“And besides,” Milo mocked, with a smile, “if we talk anymore right now, the top of Malfoy’s head might pop off from jealousy. I promise I’ll finish this conversation later. It’s already past lunch, so we’ll have an early dinner for you both, about six o’clock. Don’t be late coming back to the castle. This time of year, it will be full dark by then, and we don’t want you out past dark, do we?”

“What happens after dark?” Hermione asked.

He smiled and said, “You really don’t want to know.” He bowed slightly and said, “Until later, Miss Granger.”

“Hermione. Call me Hermione,” she urged. She held her hand over her eyes to shield them from the sun, as they were now in an open meadow, beyond the shade and covering of the trees, and the dark, grey clouds from earlier were replaced by white clouds that barely covered a very bright sun.

He took her hand down from her eyes even as he repeated her name. “Hermione.” He smiled again. He took a step closer, and his body covered the bright sun from her eyes. She wondered why his initial touch that day in the other village made her feel so odd, and now, it made her feel…dare she say, nice and warm, but not the same as Draco’s touch.

“Good thing you took off the coat I gave you. It seems it’s getting warmer,” he said. He let go of her hand.

“Actually, Draco took it off me,” she said with a smile.

“Of course he did,” he said back, grinning. “I’ll retrieve it later.” He placed his hand on her shoulder and let it skim lightly down the arm of her jacket. He took her hand again. “Is your gunshot wound better?”

“Yes,” she answered.

“Good.”

“Milo?”

“Yes, Hermione?” he asked back, softly, quietly, coming closer.

“You need to let go of my hand so I can go join Draco. He needs me,” she said.

He smiled again, looked past her, and saw that Draco had already entered the charred remains of the old, burned out castle. He said, “I’m not so sure how much he needs you, or how important it is that you join him.” He laced his fingers through hers. He touched her face with his free hand.

She felt uneasy. Not as she did the other day. She didn’t feel ill, nauseated, faint, or flushed, but she didn’t feel right. She felt that fundamentally this man had no right to touch her as such. She didn’t feel afraid. She didn’t feel disgust or anger. She merely felt it was wrong. He was wrong. He wasn’t the one who should be touching her.

Sensing her thoughts, he said, “When I touched you that day in the village, what did you feel?”

She looked around his body for Draco. She didn’t see him. She looked back toward his face, he was so tall she had to crane her neck upwards, and asked, “Truthfully?”

“I only ever want the truth from you, Hermione,” he said poignantly.

She said, “I felt faint, lightheaded, and like I was going to throw up.”

He threw his head back and laughed. He looked down at her and said, “Do I make you sick now?”

“No, but please, let me go. I need to go to Draco.”

“I’m not so sure about that anymore,” he said vaguely. “I might have made a mistake with you.”

She wrenched her hand from his and ran toward the old depilated castle. She didn’t glance back once.

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