A Day and A Night

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Chapter 17: An Explanation and A Hello:

Hermione heard a man clear his throat and she looked up into his face and smiled.

“Ahem, Miss Granger?” It was Iver, Milo’s brother.

“Hello Mr. Dorchester,” Hermione said.

“Iver please, and I’ll call you Hermione. Are you aware that you’ve missed dinner?” he asked. He got down on his haunches and smiled at her.

“Noooo!” she hissed. She looked at her watch. “NO!” She was two hours late.

“We waited almost an hour, and neither you nor Mr. Malfoy showed, but then we at least got an Owl after about an hour from him saying that he was in the village. You, however, well, there was no word, and if my brother hadn’t had a meeting with the other clans tonight, he would have been out looking for you earlier. We should let him know I found you. He’s deep in the forest, convinced you were there. So much for his superior smelling ability.” The younger man laughed, stood, and held out his hand for Hermione as he held his wand with the other hand to send off some sort of sparks, as a message to his brother.

She took his hand after putting everything back in the rucksack, and said, “I was so engrossed in my work, and I meant to come right to the castle, but as usual, I got lost in my work. I am so, so sorry! I’m so hungry, too. Will your brother be angry?”

“Undoubtedly, but so what?” Iver said, nonchalantly, letting her hand fall freely. “He’s often angry, so that’s nothing new.”

Hermione wondered what Iver meant by that statement. She didn’t ask, because he had already started walking back toward the castle. “I’m usually not so rude,” she said as she walked along beside him. “Malfoy’s usually the rude one.”

“I think I could tell that on my own. He’s very angry with you as well. He’s just arrived back himself, and when he found out that you hadn’t returned he was set to look for you, too, but Milo told him that we would find you. He didn’t think that Draco should be out alone at night.”

“Too much danger for strangers alone at night?” she asked, for clarification.

“Especially for him,” Iver said. That comment confused Hermione, but before she could ask him to explain, he said, “You’re under Milo’s protection, so no one will touch you, or else they would be punished severely.”

“Then he should put Malfoy under his protection as well,” Hermione reasoned.

“It doesn’t work that way. A male Valdes can’t put another male under his protection, because males from the other clans wouldn’t respect either man for that,” Iver said.

“Draco’s not a Valdes,” Hermione said.

Iver shrugged. “Close enough,” he said cryptically. They had reached the castle when Iver asked, “Did you make much progress today?”

“Yes, I found an interesting link between both of the original bodies and something inside your ancestral home,” she admitted. They both entered the Great Hall at the same time.

“Really? How interesting, and my brother told me you found another body today. That was the reason for the meeting tonight. He’s put all the clans on high alert, and he’s warned them all again that you’re under his protection. He’s afraid something might happen to you while you’re here.” He started down a long hallway, and Hermione continued to follow.

“Wait, back to this protection nonsense,” she started, grabbing his arm so that he would stop. “Were the murdered girls under his protection?”

Iver looked disturbed for a brief minute, but said, “Yes, and that’s part of the thing he can’t abide.”

“Right, because his word is law, but if that’s the case, what makes you think I would be safe out there, if they weren’t?” she asked.

He frowned and said, “You probably weren’t, and that’s why he and Mr. Malfoy were so upset.”

They walked through another set of doors into a large sitting room. There was a roaring fire in the fireplace, but the room was completely empty. Iver called for a servant to take Hermione’s coat and bag. Iver looked at Hermione and said, “When I left, Mr. Malfoy and Cat were in here, but Milo said that he would have another meal prepared for you, so perhaps everyone’s in the dining hall. Shall we look for them in there?” He didn’t wait for an answer. He offered his arm, which she accepted.

They started down another flagstone floored hallway and she said, “May I ask you another question?”

“You just did,” he joked.

“Okay, besides the one I just asked,” she pointed out.

He grinned and urged her to continue with a motion of his hand.

“How old were you when you discovered that Cat was your mate?”

He stopped walking. He leaned against a wall, in front of a large tapestry, dropping her arm in the process. “Oh,” he said, unexpectedly. “You see, not everyone gets to marry their mate, but didn’t my brother already explain that to you? I thought he told me that he had.”

“He did, but I guess I still assumed she was your mate,” she said truthfully. “I didn’t mean to pry. I’m curious about all of this, that’s all.”

“I do care deeply for her,” he defended. “She’s an amazing, caring, lovely girl, and she will make me a wonderful wife, but she’s not my mate. It doesn’t matter, as I’ve never really met my mate. I had my vision on my fourteenth birthday, to the day. I saw a woman, blonde hair, blue eyes, but nothing else was clear.”

Hermione leaned against the wall next to him. “How do you know that isn’t Cat? She has blonde hair. Does she have blue eyes?”

“She does, but knowing your mate is a primal thing. To hear others tell it, when it happens, you know immediately,” he said.

“You can’t wait for your mate, because of the ancient law that Milo told me about, right, the one where one person from each family must marry from within their clan?” Hermione asked softly.

“It makes no matter to me,” he replied, although Hermione thought he seemed sad. He pushed away from the wall.

“May I ask another question?” she asked.

“I have a feeling you will anyway, no matter what I say, so go on.” He laughed.

“I just noticed something, and tell me if it’s true, since I haven’t met very many Valdes. It seems to me that all Valdes are either dark-haired and eyed, like your brother and you, or blonde and blue-eyed, like Cat and her father. Are there no ginger-haired Valdes? No one with hazel eyes? No one with light-brown or ash-blonde hair, green eyes?”

“No,” he answered lightly. “In ancient times the differences were called ‘Day and Night’. The blonde, blue-eyes Valdes took after the original Veelas, who are naturally fair. The darker haired and eyed Valdes took after the Slavic Vampires, who were all very dark. There was a break in the clans, many centuries ago, and many of the fair coloured Valdes left this village, and joined the regular magical community.”

Hermione found that fascinating. She wondered if Draco could be a descendent of these people after all. “Why were they called ‘Day and Night’?” she asked.

“I think there’s a story about it in that book of folktales that Mr. Malfoy told me you stole from the old woman’s bookstore. You’ll have to find out from that, because I truthfully don’t know where that came from,” he answered. He gave her a weak smile, but again, she thought he seemed extraordinarily sad.

Hermione wanted to tell this young man that he didn’t have to marry anyone that he didn’t want to marry, no matter what his brother said, no matter what their ancient law stated. She wanted to tell him that there was a big world out there, and that love was important, and that everyone should wait for their soul-mate. 

However, she was an outsider, and her opinions wouldn’t matter to him anyway, so all she said was, “I’ll read that story first thing tonight, and I hope you and Cat are really happy.”

They had continued their walk to the dining room of Rhodeana castle, but before they could step inside, Milo stepped outside. He gave his brother a stern look, which Hermione could not decipher. Iver stepped around him and entered the room, and shut the door.

Milo looked down at Hermione and said, “Don’t ask my brother anymore questions. If you want to know something, ask me.”

She didn’t know how he had known she was asking Iver questions, but she said, “He seemed perfect amicable and willing to answer my questions. He escorted me here from the field near the castle, and we began to talk, that’s all.”

He took a step closer, which pressed her practically into the wall. Glaring down at her, with one hand on the wall by her head, he seethed, “My brother is not to be questioned. Leave him alone.”

If he was trying to scare her, or bully her into submission, it wouldn't work, and she was about to tell him so.

He didn’t seem bothered by me,” she said firmly. “And stop trying to intimidate me. I’ve known the biggest bully of them all for over half my life, and his name is Draco Malfoy, and if I’m not intimidated by him, I won’t be intimated by you.” She pushed him away, stepped around him and started into the dining room.

He grabbed her arm. “Why didn’t you come right back to the castle?” he asked.

“I got lost in my work,” she answered honestly. She looked down at his hand on her arm. He was holding her almost ‘too’ tightly.

Before she could ask him to let her go, Draco walked down the long hallway, directly toward them. Milo dropped his hand from her arm, which was good, because Draco was about to demand that he do that very thing. Draco turned to Hermione and said, “I got back here, and imagine my surprise when they tell me that you didn’t make it back. Is it your goal to give me a heart attack so that I die before I’m thirty?” he shouted.

“If there’s nothing in it for me, then no,” she answered flippantly. “And I apologize. As I was just explaining to Mr. Dorchester, I got lost in my work.”

“Potter warned me that you would become one-minded about all of this!” he yelled. “Do you even want to know what I found out about the missing girl?”

“No, I don’t want to know,” she said sarcastically. “I like to be kept in the dark, remember.” He gave her an annoyed look and she said, “Of course I want to know!”

“I do, too,” Milo agreed.

“I went to the local newspaper to look at the old issues and I saw that there were reports of her missing, and they search for her, a long time before the first two girls went missing, almost a year before. I think she must be our first victim. I also asked a few people about her, including that waitress from the pub, and she said that everyone always thought Jennifer Cravens was weird, different. She said that people even suspected her, and these were her words, of being a witch.”

Hermione gasped. She looked at Milo. “Do you know if that’s true?”

“I don’t think she was,” Milo said, who seemed as shocked as Hermione was. “I told her about the magic of our village, never quite going as far as saying that we were wizards, but I told her the ancient stories, I made them sound like fables and folklore, but I think she would have told me if she was a witch. She told me so many other things about her life.”

“She worked in the bookstore with Violet Edgewater, the witch that was killed in the other village,” Draco said. “The waitress said that Violet was her aunt.”

Hermione sighed. “Then she probably was a witch.” She looked at Milo. “You had to have known. You knew who I was immediately. You even tried to use Legilimency on me that first day. I know you did. How could you not know she was a witch, if you became her friend,” Hermione accused. “Malfoy’s right, you are a suspect.”

“Granger!” Draco chastised.

“I didn’t kill Jennifer, and I didn’t kill those other girls!” Milo protested. “Why would I ask for an Auror and an Expert to come investigate, if I was guilty?”

Iver stepped out of the dining room and said, “Our dinner is getting cold for the second time tonight. Shall we all stop arguing and come in and eat?”

“Go in, Iver,” Milo said, with a softer tone. “My apologies. We’ll all be there in a moment.”

Iver left them in the hall. Milo looked at Hermione and said, “I reiterate, I’m not guilty, but if you want to accuse me again, kindly do so with a softer tone, so that my family doesn’t hear you. I won’t warn you again. I won’t have my brother upset.” He turned and walked into the dining room.

Hermione frowned and said, “I’m starving, but I’m not eating with that horrible man.”

“Who, Iver?” Draco asked. Hermione frowned at him. “I’m joking. I know you meant Milo,” Draco reaffirmed with a smile. “Listen, you haven’t eaten all day, it’s very late, and I’m tired and hungry, and I know you are as well. I know you, Granger. I might know you better than I know anyone, and Milo has hurt your pride a bit, so you’re peeved at him. Forget it and come eat.”

“I’m not peeved, and you don’t know me that well,” she whined.

She started down the hall, to leave the dining area, but he grabbed her hand. He pulled her back toward the dining room door. He smiled down at her and said, “I know you. I do. For instance, since this afternoon, I know you expect kisses hello and goodbye.”

“That I do,” she said with a half smile.

“I also know you get very cranky when you fail to eat, even violent sometimes. Shall we go have some dinner finally?” he asked.

Her smile faded slightly. She was hungry, but she would rather have a kiss. Where was her kiss hello?

“Oh, before we go eat, I have something for you.” He leaned forward, one hand on each side of the wall beside her head, and he pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead. “Now, let’s have some food. By the way, I talked to Scarhead tonight. He met me in the village across the loch, and that kiss was a kiss hello from him.”

“Harry?” she asked. She placed her hands on Draco’s shoulders as Draco placed his hands on her hips.

“Well, yes, do you know any other scarheads?” Draco asked.

“And that kiss was from him?” she asked sheepishly.

“Of course,” he said, affronted, even if it was feigned. “I would never kiss you hello with a simple kiss on the forehead. I would kiss you like this,” and he leaned down again, and pressed his lips on hers, kissed her briefly, looked at her, and then kissed her again.

“Hello, Granger,” he said.

“Hello, Malfoy,” she said back.

“Don’t scare me like that again, do you hear?” he said in a rush.

“I won’t,” she promised.

“If I know you as well as I think I do - you probably will,” he said contritely.

“Again, you really don’t know me that well,” she insisted.

“But I do. Shall I prove it to you?”

“What?” she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.

“Tonight, I’ll prove to you how well I know you, Granger. Shall we go eat?” he asked. He nudged his nose along her jaw, to her neck.

“Are you okay?” she asked. She suddenly pressed her hands against his chest, and pushed him slightly away. “Are you no longer afraid of hurting me?”

“Afraid? Me, afraid of you? How silly,” he teased. “Where did you get that idea? That would be as silly as you being peeved at Milo, which you insist that you aren’t.” He smiled, opened the door to the dining room and ushered her inside, his hand on the small of her back.

No, he was no longer afraid. Potter wasn’t good for much, but he had assured Draco that love could reign over terror and darkness just as long as Draco remembered that he did love her, which by the way, he realized that he did. Draco Malfoy loved Hermione Granger, he knew he did, and he'd told Harry Potter that very thing this evening.

Now he would have to tell Hermione Granger sometime. Maybe tonight, he would even show her.

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