A Day and A Night

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 Chapter 21: A Vampire and a Violent Act:

Hermione decided that there was a haunting, loneliness to Iver. There was something about him that reminded her of Remus Lupin. Bound by duty, ruled by fate, trapped by sadness and isolation. She wanted to find out more about this old castle, but she also wanted to find out more about this man, for his sake.

“I think I’m done in the room,” Hermione said, walking out of the cavity only a short time after entering. Iver was waiting for her at the bottom to the staircase at the end of the long corridor. He had told her he would wait for her there, and she didn’t ask him why, she accepted it as it was.

“Did you find what you needed?” he asked, coming to stand beside her.

“I think I did. May I ask you a few more questions?” she asked.

He didn’t say yes right away. “My brother doesn’t want me talking to you about our people.”

“That’s very to the point,” she said. “He pretty much warned me against talking to you about all of this as well.”

Iver gave her another sad smile. “It’s just - we aren’t to talk to outsiders - it’s preordained by old magic. We can’t, unless the head of our clan gives us permission, and that would be Milo. No permission, no talking. I’m so sorry, Hermione. I want to help you, but I think Milo is afraid I’ll be dragged into this somehow,” Iver explained. He motioned with his hand that she should start up the stairs. She remained by the wall at the bottom step instead.

“He wants to protect you, but why?” she said, more to herself.

“I’m his baby brother,” Iver said with a chuckle. “He’s always protected me."

“Can you at least tell me about your illness?” she asked.

“I, well, no, I can’t,” he stuttered. “Hermione, I’ll help you, take you places, explain about our people without getting specific, but I’m limited in what I can do. I do apologize.”

“Did you meet any of the girls that were murdered?” she asked.

“Hermione, I can’t talk with you about these things!” he shouted, his voice showing a hint of despair, and dare she think, anger.

“I’m sorry, Iver,” Hermione said, also with a bit of ire. “Go on back to the castle. I still have some more work to do, and I don’t want to take up any more of your time.”

“Don’t be that way,” Iver moaned. “And you know I can’t leave you here by yourself.”

“Why not? I’ll be safe. I can take care of myself. Believe it or not, I’m very capable of taking care of myself, and I’ve never needed a man to protect me. Go on, leave.” She turned back around, walked back down the narrow, dim corridor, and entered back into the large chamber, although her work was already done.

Moments later, Iver knocked on the doorjamb, and poked his head inside.

“Hermione, I am sorry,” he said. “I know you’re a strong woman, and I meant no disrespect. I know you can take care of yourself, it’s just that my brother is worried about you.”

“I suppose you can’t tell me why,” she said sarcastically.

He smiled, leaned against the old wooden doorframe and said, “He thinks that some of the men of the other clans are going to soon start staking claims for you.” He continued to smile.

“Staking claims?” she said, aghast. “Well, no one claims Hermione Granger!”

He laughed and said, “I know. I’m sorry. It must sound terribly old-fashioned and antediluvian.”

“Why would anyone want to claim me?” she wondered aloud. She came to stand by the doorway.

He laughed again, and then he reached out for her. He touched her hand slowly, but not in a romantic way. He touched her as a man who needed contact, who needed a friend, who needed a human connection. “Why indeed?” he said. “Malfoy seems to want to claim you, no matter how much he may deny it. I also happen to know that though Milo doesn’t think you’re his mate. He’s smitten with you. If I didn’t have my sweet, dear Cat, I might find myself smitten as well.” His smile brightened more, and in the soft light of the torches on the wall, Hermione saw how very handsome and kind his face was.

She squeezed his hand and said, “Cat's very lucky to have you.”

“As Malfoy is very lucky to have you, if only he knew it,” he said with a sigh.

“From your lips to his ears,” Hermione said with a sigh. They both laughed.

“If you truly have more work, I’ll wait for you right here by the door, but if you only came back in here because you were angry with me, then I suggest we go back to Rhodeana.”

She took out another piece of parchment and proceeded to copy a rune that she had already copied the first day. She ignored him, because she was embarrassed that he had figured out that she only came back into the chamber because she was angry. She sat down on one of the larger rock formations on the ground, and drew the backpack on her lap, to give her a place to put the paper while she copied the runes.

Iver walked inside the room slowly. “I haven’t been in here since I was a child. I always hated this room.”

She looked up, having just noticed that he had entered. “Why?”

“Dark magic was used in this room,” he revealed. “It was used as a mating chamber, but for other things, too. Dark, sinister things.”

“I don’t suppose I can ask you what those things were, right?” she asked, with disdain.

He smiled and said, “My mother was of the Day people, did you know?”

“That’s some way to change the subject,” she laughed. “Okay, tell me again about the Day and Night,” she pressed, turning on the small rock to face him. She placed the bag at her feet, stuck the paper inside, then she said, “Or can you not tell me about that, either?”

“I don’t know much about the origins of the terms Day and Night, but I suppose I can tell you what I do know, because it’s in that book of folklore you have, so you’ll find out soon enough. You see, my mother was not a Valdes. She was from the village of Dorchester. She wasn’t even my father’s mate originally. He had his mate dream when he was an adolescent, but then he met my mother one day when he went to Dorchester, and it was love at first sight.”

“Love can rule over the power of finding a true mate? Don’t Valdes love their mates?” Hermione asked, surprised.

“Yes, they do, almost absolutely, so it was a shock to my grandparents when my father, who was set to be the prime, or the clan leader someday, decided to marry a descendent of the Day people,” Iver said.

“The terms originally pertained to those with pure Veela blood, Day people, as opposed to those with pure Vampire blood, Night people. The original Veela, or so the story went, couldn’t venture out in the night, and you know Vampires had an adversity to daytime.” He came to sit on a small rock beside her.

“Well, when the first Veela and the first Vampire mated, they shared blood, thus reversing the curse of each of their races. Veela could then go out in the night, and Vampires wouldn’t burn at the sight of the sun. In addition, their children, the very first Valdes, had the best of both worlds. They had the magic of both, the qualities of both, but the traits and temperaments of both, as well.”

“But how did the term stick?” Hermione asked.

“Legend has it that Katrina had seven sisters. She and six others married vampires, thus forming the Valdes and our present seven clans. The last sister, the eighth one, the youngest, married a regular wizard. All of these people lived harmonious in the beginning, until some great battle. I don’t know what the battle was over, but it had to do with the vampires and the taking of blood.” Iver stood up and walked over toward one of the walls before he continued.

Leaning against one of the stone walls he said, “Some great schism happened, and the purely magical group, the ones with no vampire ancestors, left Glendora. One group formed Dorchester, some three hundred years ago. It was the smallest group, and it has mostly died out. The other groups splintered off and went elsewhere, one group to the Netherlands, one group to what was then known as Prussia, and one group to France, which is Malfoy’s Veela line.”

“I wonder what really caused the battle and the split,” she said. “I’m sure it had to do with good verses evil, light verses dark, etc, etc. All good stories do.” She smiled at him and stood up. “Thanks for telling me this, Iver.”

He smiled back. Then, at that precise moment, all the wall torches extinguished. “That’s strange,” Iver said. “We best head toward the door.” He held his hand out for Hermione, and she almost took it, when the door, inexplicably, slammed shut, enveloping them in total darkness.

Hermione gasped. Iver called out to her, but she didn’t answer. She tried to find her wand in the darkness, but realized that she left it in the backpack, which was on the floor somewhere.

“Stay put, Hermione,” Iver said.

“Do you have your wand,” she asked hopefully.

“Of course,” he answered. She heard him curse. “Damn, no. I don’t know where it is. It should be in my pocket. Where’s yours?”

“In the backpack, in the middle of the room, wherever that is,” she moaned. She had never felt so disoriented. After a long moment of silence, Hermione said, “Stay where you are. I’m coming to find you.” She knew that she was in the middle of the room. She knew that he was by the wall. She started taking small steps, her arms out in front of her, cold, stale air assaulting her senses, and she felt a wave of nausea and foreboding pass through her, which she recognized immediately as fear.

She found a wall, and trailing one hand against the smooth stone, she stumbled toward where she assumed he was. She could hear him breathing. She heard a loud crack, the sound reverberating though the stagnant air, startling her, causing her to gasp and she asked, “What was that?”

“Wasn’t that you?” he asked. Then he said, “Is someone else there? Who’s there?”

She stayed by the wall, panic gripping her, stirring her senses. Squaring her shoulders, she said, “I’m going to go back toward the middle of the chamber and find my wand.”

She started walking away from the wall, hands again in front of her, but then the unthinkable happened: she tripped on one of the rock formations on the floor. She fell hard, unable to brace herself. She cried out in pain and fear.

“Hermione? Are you alright?” Iver asked anxiously.

“I fell.” Worse than that, the hand that she had previously injured, the hand that Draco had healed after he had tasted her blood, was once again bleeding. She also had incredible pain in her right knee, and her elbow hurt.

“Are you bleeding?” he asked, his voice laced with even more caution.

“How can you tell?” she asked back.

“I smell it Hermione! Oh no, are you? Please, tell me that you’re not!” he asked anxiously.

“Yes, I am. I busted open my hand again, the one that I lacerated, and I can’t stand up because my knee is hurt and swollen,” she complained.

“Oh no, oh no,” Iver chanted softly. “Your blood. I smell it. Hermione, I can’t, I mean, please, you don’t know.” He sank down to the floor, and covered his nose with his hand. “Hermione, my illness, the one that affects certain family members, it’s a form of vampirism. I crave blood, and when I don’t get it, I get terribly sick. I mean, all members of our clans crave blood to some degree, from both their Veela and their Vampire ancestors, although the taking of blood and vampirism has been outlawed for centuries, but there’s a mutated gene that’s passed on through the male of two of our clans, and it causes the traits of vampirism. I have it.”

“What does that mean?” she asked.

“It means that someone locked you in here with a vampire who very soon won’t be able to control his bloodlust. You better find your wand, because you’re going to need it,” he said urgently.

“Oh no, is right,” Hermione repeated his sentiment from earlier, her voice a mere whisper in the air. She crawled along the floor, dragging her hurt knee, reaching out continually for her bag. Her fingertips met only air and the smooth surface of the granite floor. “I can’t find it. Where is it?” she asked frantically.

She searched and searched to no avail. She wasn’t sure where she was any longer, she couldn’t hear Iver breathing, and she was afraid to ask him where he was. There was nothing as terrifying to Hermione as being plunged in total darkness. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt this much fear and dread. She wondered if Draco would be able to feel her fear. She was sealed in a dark tomb, away from the rest of the world, imprisoned in her own despair, with a man who told her that he might not be able to help it if he attacked her.

“Hermione?” he finally asked. She was afraid to answer, although she knew that even in the darkness, he could find her. “Are you okay?”

“Are you?” she asked.

“I think so. It’s hard. I want you so bad. It’s so hard. I’ve never had to fight it this hard before. Your blood is so strong and sweet. It’s so different. I can’t explain it. I’ve never smelled anything so intoxicating before,” he said with a wince. “Now I know what Milo sees in you.” Hermione could almost hear the pain in the tone of his voice. She cringed.

Her fear sang loud in her heart, alerting her that she may die soon, and that she didn’t want to die, at least not like this. She suddenly had a terrible thought. “Iver, did you kill those girls?”

“NO!” He seemed outraged. “NO! I don’t ever act on this! Ever! I've never taken human blood without consent, I swear! When I was young, my brother and I would hunt animals and he would help me feed off them, and twice he let me feed off his own blood, but since then, I feed off volunteers, or I don’t feed at all. I know, I’m an animal. I know it’s wrong. I know I’m repulsive!” He seemed thoroughly disgusted with himself. “I can’t even marry my darling Cat because of my illness, because she doesn’t know about it, and because I might hurt her. It’s all hopeless!”

Hermione wondered if this was the way in which Draco had felt when he was compelled to taste her blood. Did he feel this self-disgust, this vulgar sense of self-loathing? If Draco was from the Veela line, and not the Vampire line, then why did he have such a strong bloodlust? “You can’t help it if you’re inflicted with an illness,” she said, thinking once again of Draco, and then thinking again of Remus Lupin. “I had a very dear friend who was a werewolf, and he was conflicted, because he hated that side of him, though he had no control over it.”

“Did he feel like an animal? Did he feel like a failure?” he asked.

“Yes, often times he did,” she said sadly.

Hermione heard him moan, and then she heard the rustling of clothing. “I can’t breathe in here.”

“There’s plenty of air, just calm down, and perhaps Milo and Draco will come for us soon,” she urged.

“I have to get out of here!” No sooner had he spoken those words than she felt radiated warmth beside her body. Her fingers twitched at her sides, and the hair on her neck stood on edge. She smelled him, and she knew that he smelled her as well. He loomed over top of her one moment, and then he shifted beside her and the next thing she knew, she was pressed against the floor, and he was on top of her, the weight of his body pressing hard on hers, his breath fanning against her neck.

“Please, no, Iver,” she said in a shaky voice.

“I have to, Hermione,” he said. “Just a taste. I can stop myself, I promise. Just give me your hand.” He seemed desperate. Each word spoken was frantic, quick and hurried. He reached between their bodies for her hand.

She began to cry, cursing every tear, because at that point they were tears laced with anger, more than with fear. She didn’t want to die in a dark dungeon. She didn’t want to suffer as those poor girls suffered. She didn’t want to die without telling Draco that she thought she loved him.

She pushed against his body even as she screamed, but the next thing she knew she was groping at thin air, at the same time she saw a shaft of light. The door to the chamber opened and she heard two bodies collide. She was jerked back toward a wall, but then she felt something, (someone?) touch her, warmly, reverently, with love.

Time stood still, as her breathing almost stopped, her fear palpable, real. She placed her face against the person who had placed their arms around her. She heard growling and the worst sort of crying and keening sound coming from the center of the room.

Draco told her, “Keep your eyes shut, Granger. Don’t look.”

She didn’t want to look. She didn’t want to know what was happening. She stiffened when the sound subsided.

“What happened?” she asked, tears falling freely down her cheeks and onto his jacket.

Draco couldn’t explain what he couldn’t understand. All he knew was that Milo and he had gone to the village, had spoken to two of the village elders, had gotten permission to excavate some old caves that were once used by the clans for rituals, and on their way back to the forest, Milo suddenly started running.

Sensing Milo’s fear, Draco followed, when Draco was then faced with his own fear … only Draco’s fear wasn’t his own. He knew, deep in his heart, that the fear he was feeling was Hermione’s fear. He screamed her name, and Milo took flight, as he became a large falcon to fly over the canopy of trees.

Draco was forced to continue running, until his legs were like lead, his chest constricted from the cold autumn air, palms sweating, and his pulse quick. He ran into the dungeons of the charred castle just as Milo swooped down, changing back into a man. Draco ran into the chamber and pulled Hermione into his arms. After that, he wasn’t even sure what he witnessed, because the room was washed in darkness, but he entered right after Milo, and then he knew without a shadow of a doubt that Milo fought his own brother to protect Hermione. He knew that they both become some sort of birds, or monsters, or something, and they fought, and it was scary, and magical, and wondrous, and unreal.

Then both men where gone, and he was left alone with her. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and pressed herself closer. He stroked her hair. “What happened, Hermione? We started back into the forest to look for you, and then suddenly Milo started to run, and then I swear I felt that you were afraid, and I started to run, and then I heard you scream.”

Hermione hadn’t remembered screaming, but she supposed that she had. She was about to tell him what happened, when she noticed that Draco had her hand. Though one small shaft of light came from the opened doorway, and his face was in the dark, she could tell that his eyes were focused on her hand and the blood.

“Iver suffers from vampirism,” she said, watching him intently. She tried to pull her hand from his, but he held tight.

Draco closed his eyes. Then he said a silent prayer, a request, a plea, more like a benediction, and though it was silent, she knew he was uttering it, and it broke her heart. Her blood was tempting him just as it had tempted Iver, and she began to push against him with her hands, his pale fingers reaching back toward hers, to bring her hand back to his face.

He took a giant whiff and she kicked at him with her good leg and said, “Get control of yourself, Draco Malfoy!”

“What darkness is this?” he said aloud. Who was she that she had such power over him, to make him want to commit such dark, deeply depraved acts. He wasn’t a vampire! Why was he suffering from this horrendous want? Hermione had almost been a victim of something truly horrifying, and then he witnessed something equally horrifying when the brothers fought, and yet here he was, imaging doing atrocious things to her!

Swallowing hard he backed away from her, fighting hard for control. She was something precious to him, something he cherished and loved, and yet he was fighting for the control not to rape her, not to drink her blood, and not to take her right there. He was fighting for control over the desire for her blood and body verses the desire to keep her safe.

He stood up, and though the room was still mostly black, she saw something feral in his eyes. He didn’t have the restraint needed to stay in this room one moment longer. He said, “Can you stand on your own?”

“Just go,” she barked, confused, upset, and weary. Instead, he rushed to her and she screamed again. The sound ripped through him, bringing him back to reality, like a splash of cold water.

He stopped short, looked down at her, and the fear in her eyes, and he said, “I wasn’t going to hurt you! You know I wouldn’t hurt you!” Even as he said it, he wasn’t convinced that it was the truth. He reached down slowly, and she flinched, but she let him take her arm, trusting him. That was her mistake.

He swung her up against him abruptly, and she was unable to stand on both legs because of her dislocated knee. He grasped her injured hand tightly in one of his, his other hand went up and grabbed the back of her hair. He pulled hard on her hair, tilting her head upwards, as he placed her injured hand to his nose.

“Draco! Let me go!” she hissed. She hit at him, kicked at him and even tried to bite his shoulder.

He placed his lips next to the skin on her neck, her natural scent mixing with the scent of her blood, and it was exciting and intoxicating and embroiled his senses. Their faces were centimeters apart, and she felt as if she was standing on the edge of a precipice, about to be pushed off by him. She hit him with her fist as hard as she could on his ear, and he howled.

“Hermione, stop that,” he said, coming slightly to his right mind. He held her by her waist.

She felt desperate, and she latched onto that ardent, keen, tiny moment of sanity he displayed and said, “Draco, please, don’t hurt me!”

He was almost at the edge of all rational thought, but that one request, along with the trepidation in her voice, caused him to drop her abruptly. She tumbled to the hard ground by his feet.

She began to back away from him when Milo ran in the doorway, pushed Draco aside, said some sort of curse word in another language, which neither Hermione nor Draco understood, and he scooped Hermione into his arms. He looked at Draco with a reproachful look and said, “Get control of yourself and then get her things!”

He started up the stairs with her tightly in his arm. Draco grabbed her bag and followed, in a daze. Once at the top of the stairs, Milo said, “Help my brother, Malfoy. I’ll have to take her, because she’s bleeding too severely, and I’m afraid it will cause others to come. I’ll Disapparate with her, but you’ll have to walk with him.” He pointed his head toward one of the broken columns in the old castle’s former Great Hall. Iver sat on the ground next to it, a crumbled, bloody mess. It was apparent that the fight among the brothers was a severe one, and the Milo had won.

Draco helped Iver to his feet, and watched as Milo stepped out of the carcass of the old castle with Hermione in his arms. Her face was tucked in the other man’s chest, yet right before they Disapparated away, she lifted her face, reached out her hand toward Draco, her eyes pleading with him, beseeching him. Forgiving him.

If only it was that easy for him to forgive himself.

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