A Day and A Night

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Chapter 25: A Fight and a Flight:

Milo and Mr. MacNeill were standing just outside the castle, and standing around them were perhaps twenty other men. Hermione heard raised voices, and she could see that Milo had his wand drawn. Draco started out the door, his wand in his hand, when he turned to Hermione. “Please, stay inside with Cat. If anyone tries to get inside, kill them first and ask questions later.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Hermione replied.

Draco didn’t hear her, as he was already outside. Hermione turned to Cat and said, “Where’s Iver?”

“He’s up in his room.”

“Are these men from the other clans?” Hermione asked.

“Yes, and when my father heard that there was another body found, he told Milo to get the other members of our clan to come here, in case there was trouble, but then these men got here first,” Cat answered.

“Cat, is there another way out of the castle, a way that won’t be seen by the crowd outside the door?” Hermione asked.

“Yes, why, are you leaving? Don’t leave,” she begged.

“I’m not leaving, you are,” Hermione replied. “You need to get the other men from your clan to come to help Milo, Draco, and your father. Can you do that?”

She nodded. “Yes, and I’ll get the members of the beta clan, too. They’re second after the Alpha clan, or the Primal clan, which is ours. They won’t like that the other clans are challenging Milo’s authority.”

“Good. Be quick and be careful,” Hermione urged. She reached out and grabbed the girl’s hand for encouragement.

Cat nodded and ran down the long, great hall, and out of sight. Hermione strained to hear what Milo and the others, including Malfoy, were saying, but she couldn’t hear a thing. She looked up from the doorway, toward the tower where she and Draco had just had their date. She wondered if she could climb up there, and use a charm to hear the conversation. She was about to do just that, when she looked around to the other side of the castle and spotted Iver on another tower. She decided to join him instead.

She climbed the stairs to the top and pushed open the door. The door to this tower was a trapdoor on the floor. She pushed it open partially before she called out, “Iver, are you out here?”

“Hermione?” he asked. He looked down through the crack in the door, opened the heavy door the rest of the way, and then offered her a hand. She saw that he was still badly bruised and battered from his fight with his brother. Wincing, she felt partially responsible.

He hurried back over to the wall, looked down, and said, “They want to take me away. They found another body. They think I’m responsible.”

“Can you hear them from up here?” she asked, coming to stand beside him.

“No, but I heard them when they first came to the door,” he said. “Milo forced me to go back up to my room. They heard about the attack against you, and they think that I killed those other girls. They said that I was here when each of them was killed, and that because of me, outsiders are now going to come and destroy our village. They want to hand me over to the tribunal, and have them pass judgment over me.”

“Then we’ll just have to prove that you’re innocent, if that happens,” Hermione said.

Iver shook his head no. “They won’t find me innocent. I’m already guilty.”

“Of what?” she asked, outraged. “You didn’t kill anyone, and you can’t help it if you’re ill. You were born this way, and surely there are others people in the other clans who also suffer … .” she stopped talking, because he was slowly shaking his head no.

“I’m the only one, and no one knew about it, until you were attacked today, and they only knew about it then because several of the other clansmen were drawn to the forest by the smell of your blood, and then also by the smell of mine and my brother’s blood. It’s a terrible crime for Milo to have fought me in such a way, because one is never to draw blood from their own brother, so when they questioned him about it, after the attack, he had to explain the reason for it to the other clans, so now they know my dark secret.”

Hermione felt even more guilt when he explained this to her. If she hadn’t cut her hand in the chamber, none of this would have happened. “But Milo told me, and so did you, that it was an infliction, suffered by several members of the clans. You said you were born this way, that it’s an illness.”

He sighed. “We lied. We didn’t want you to know the truth. I was cursed at birth, we both were, but Milo’s curse is different from mine. His curse is that he'll never be able to find his mate. My curse is this plague, this blight, this stain, this evilness.”

“You said it’s against the law, but if you’re cursed, you can’t help it,” she offered.

“They won’t care,” he said, motioning to the men down in the courtyard. “It’s because of the sins of my father that we were both cursed anyway, so the other clans will feel that it’s our just rewards. Vampirism has been outlawed by our village for hundreds of years, as is blood exchange, although it’s well known that some clans still exchange blood with their mates, it’s just kept secret.”

“What was your father’s sin, which precipitated the curse, and who cursed you?” Hermione asked.

“My father’s sin was to marry outside of our people, or the Valdes. I already told you that. Centuries ago, when the Day people left, the oldest witch of our village put a curse on them, so that they could never speak of our secrets, and we could never share our secrets with their descendents, either,” Iver explained.

Hermione looked back down at the crowd. Milo was shouting at someone, and Draco was holding the young man back from the crowd. She said, “Violet Edgewater, the witch that was killed in our hotel room said something about that. She was from the Day people, I think.”

“Yes, as was my mother, and somehow, our parents found a way around that curse, and they fell in love, but in secret, and that was deemed a sin in the eyes of the other clans. They could do nothing about it really, because my father was Prime, the Prince, by birth, so his word was law, but MacNeill often told us that he suspected that someone, or more than one person, from the other clans killed our parents as punishment.”

“But if your mother was from the Veela line, the Day people, then it’s not as if he really married outside your people, since the Day people are related to the Night people, right?” she asked.

“The Night people have never considered the Day people as part of our clans, and visa versa, and my father was supposed to marry his mate, who was a witch from the third clan, but on the eve of their wedding, he left our village and married my mother instead, because he said he could no longer live a lie. This caused a great scandal among the clans. It was considered a terrible transgression against our people.”

Iver sat down on the stone floor and continued his story. “Likewise, my brother and I were cursed at birth, to pay for his sins. Milo with the curse that he could never find his mate, which was reference to the fact that my father went outside his own people, gave up his mate, to marry another. And so that I too would never have a mate, I was cursed with Vampirism, which was fitting, because that was the cause of the split between the Day and the Night people from the start.” He got up on his knees to peer back down at the crowd.

She leaned down, took his hand, and quizzed, “But who cursed you?”

“The woman that was originally supposed to be my father’s mate. Her name was Cairison. She died many years ago. She never married, never had children, and all hope to lift the curse from my brother and I died with her.” He sunk to the floor of the tower, placed his head in his hands and said, “It’s all so hopeless. Whoever killed those young girls wanted this to be the outcome. They wanted everyone to think that I was the murderer. It’s probably the same person who locked us in the chamber together.”

She knelt beside him, her hand on his shoulder, and she said, “I don’t think those girls were killed to frame you. I think there’s another reason, but despite that, I agree that whoever locked us in that room is probably the real murderer.”

The shouting from below was getting louder. Hermione and Iver both stood up and looked over the ledge at the same time. They were also noticed at the same time by Draco and by another wizard, who pointed up toward the tower. The wizard raised his wand toward the pair and sent out a hex. Hermione grabbed Iver’s arm and pulled him to the floor just as the beam from the curse whizzed by their heads.

Draco panicked. He thought that Hermione had been hit by the curse. Milo thought the same thing. They both drew their wands, and began to fire off curses, just as falcons of all shapes and sizes began to descend upon them, along with eagles and a few other large birds. The birds became men, and began to assist Draco and Milo against the other clansmen.

Iver tried to stand up again, to see what was happening, but Hermione kept him on the ground. She rose up instead, and she said, “The others are retreating. They’ve turned into birds and are taking flight. This is bad, isn’t it?”

“There hasn’t been fighting among the clans for hundreds of years,” Iver confirmed. “If it comes to a feud, our clan is Prime, our brother clan is Beta, or second, and we are the two largest and most powerful. We probably would be able to get one or two of the lesser clans on our side, but yes, this would be bad. This could be the end of our people. I have to give myself up to them, Hermione.”

“No,” she barked.

“I can’t be the cause of the end of my people,” he said. “There was a split centuries ago, when the Day people left, and our clans have never quite gotten over it. I can’t let it happen again.”

“NO!” she said more forcefully. She heard footsteps on the tower steps, and she sat in front of Iver and blocked him with her body, to protect him, even as she drew out her wand.

The hatch door opened, and Draco and Milo were both standing before them. Draco ran to her, scooped her into his arms, and stood her up. “I thought they hit you!”

“Of course not,” she said, as if his worry was unwarranted. “I can take care of myself, you know.”

“I know, I know,” he said into her hair, holding her tight. “Except that you sort of can’t.” She hit his chest hard at that comment.

She looked over at Milo, who looked white as a sheet as he stared down at his brother. Milo said, “I also thought that the curse hit you both. Are you certain that you are both unharmed?” Iver swallowed hard, looked up at his brother, and nodded his head yes.

Hermione pushed at Draco’s chest, walked over to Milo, and said, “Who did they find? Who’s dead?”

“One of the missing girls from Dorchester. One of the ones that went missing many years ago. I don’t know which one it is, or how they found her, but they left her body here. MacNeill is taking care of it.” He looked at Iver and said, “You had nothing to do with this, right? Promise me that you had nothing to do with this!”

“What?” Iver asked, standing up beside his brother. “How can you ask that?”

“I just fought against our own people!” Milo shouted. “I have to know! I’ve broken so many of our laws to protect you, or because of you, Iver! I have to know if you had anything at all to do with these murders!”

“I wouldn’t do that!” Iver shouted back, struggling to come to stand in front of his accuser.

Milo pointed to Hermione and said, “You almost killed her today!”

“No!” Iver said. “I wouldn’t have killed her! I wasn’t in total control, but I know I wouldn’t have killed her!” He looked at Hermione, then quickly back to his brother. Then they all heard a gasp … Cat was standing on the stairs, and Iver’s stare went directly from his brother to her. “I wouldn’t have killed her, Cat. I swear.”

“You attacked Hermione today?” Cat asked softly. “How could you do that?” She turned and ran down the stairs, crying the entire way.

Milo sunk down to the floor. He admitted, “I don’t know what to believe, anymore. I don’t know what’s happening here. I’m losing all control. Everything I’ve ever believed is being questioned.”

There was a prolonged silence, because no one knew what to say to that statement. Finally, Hermione asked, “Will they be back?”

Milo shook his head no. “No, it was really just one clan. The Tri clan or the clan from the third sister. They are suddenly questioning my authority, but they have the other lesser clans following them, the Ceither, the Coig and the Sia. Our Gaelic name is the Aon, or number one, the Beta clan, the Da Dha, will stand behind us, as will the seventh clan, the Seachd. The eighth clan was the one that left our village all those years ago, and they were of pure Veela and pureblood Wizard blood. They were known as the Ochd.”

Hermione said thoughtfully, “One through eight, right? In Scottish Gaelic? You said that the symbols on the jewelry found on the girls also stood for the seven clans, correct?”

He nodded. Hermione sat down on the floor beside him. Draco paced back and forth, looking down below to make sure that no one remained behind, even as Iver did the same, searching the sky.

Milo explained, “The symbol on the front of the jewelry is the symbol for all of our clans combined, the two entwined 8’s. I might as well tell you now that you didn’t quite have all the symbols correct. You didn’t notice them all. On the back of the earrings you only saw the snake, the crown, the horse’s head and the bull’s head, surrounded by a wreath, but there were more symbols that you didn’t notice.”

“I didn’t see more,” she said.

Milo said, “Look again sometime. There were symbols, smaller than the others, in between each one. Under the snake is a star, under the crown is a moon, under the horse’s head is a sun, and it ends with the bull’s head. Each of these symbols, seven in all, represents the seven clans of the Valdes. The wreath isn’t a symbol. It represents the binding together of our people. The eighth clan had their own symbol, but you won’t see it anywhere around here.”

“What is it?” Hermione asked.

“We don’t even know,” Iver explained for his brother as he came to sit on the floor beside Hermione. “All remnants of that clan were wiped away from our village right after the great feud, after they left.”

Hermione frowned. She looked up at Draco and he said, “Don’t look at me; I don’t know what the hell it is. I don’t have some tattoo, or some secret birthmark on my arse, which has their symbol on it or anything. Why does it matter, Granger? What do these symbols have to do with anything?”

“I don’t know, but I think it’s important,” she said. She stood up and then walked over to Draco and gasped when she saw that he had a tear in his jumper sleeve. She moved the soft wool to the side and said, “You’re injured! You’re bleeding!”

He looked at his torn sleeve. “Oh, yes, a mild flesh wound, a slight graze from a deflected spell.”

“Let me see,” she began, pulling on his torn sleeve.

“I’m fine,” he said back. He pulled his arm from her grasp. Milo struggled to stand, as did Iver. Draco gave Iver a hand. When both brothers were standing, Milo offered his hand to Draco.

“Thank you for helping us, Malfoy. I appreciate it.” Milo shook Draco’s hand up and down several times before he released it.

“It’s my job,” Draco said, unabashed.

“No, it’s your destiny,” Milo said steadily. “You’re fulfilling a prophecy. You’re meant to come back, to bring the clans back together.”

“Bollocks!” Draco snapped. “I don’t believe in the drivel.”

“It’s the truth, just the same, whether you believe it or not. You don’t believe in mates either, yet yours stands before you, Malfoy,” Milo said without airs. “You’re doing more than just a job here. You’re fulfilling an ancient prophecy, as the lost prince of the eighth clan. You’re meant to come here and bring our people peace.”

Draco rolled his eyes, and Iver slapped Draco on the shoulder and with a slight grin said, “Yes, and you’re doing a bloody good show of it, Malfoy. A good duel, unsolved murders, dissension, and a battle always bring people together, I say.”

Draco looked at the younger man, who was actually smiling, and then he threw his head back, laughed, and said, “I think I like you, Iver. You’re as warped as I am, and I do believe your nasty little habit of letting your fangs down, so to speak, isn’t helping bring about joyous brotherhood to the clans, either.”

Milo shook his head and said sternly, “You both are seriously deranged.”

“They are, aren’t they?” Hermione agreed. “They’re both daft.” Milo and Hermione both shook their heads in disbelief, as Iver and Draco continued to laugh.

Iver pointed to the pair and said to Malfoy, “No sense of humour in those two is there? On that note, I have to go find Cat.”

“No,” Milo said. “You have to go back to bed and heal. I’ll take you to the springs tomorrow, which will assist your healing, because it’s too dangerous to go tonight. Malfoy and Hermione can go tomorrow as well. I’ll go talk to Cat.” He nodded goodnight to Hermione and Draco and then he opened the trapdoor, pointed at the stairs, and said, “Go to bed, Iver.”

“Yes, father,” Iver said sarcastically. He turned back and said, “Thank you again, Malfoy. And Hermione, I can’t believe how understanding you’re being. I really wished I hadn’t tried to attack you today. You’ve been a good friend, regardless, because you really don’t deserve such treatment.”

“Yes, trying to kill someone usually puts a crimp in a friendship, aye?” Milo said, somberly. Iver, Draco and Hermione all stared at him, shocked, before Iver finally laughed, as did Draco. Milo smiled and then said, “See, I can have a sense of humour, it’s just that I usually choose not to have one.” He walked down the stairs, with Iver behind him, still laughing.

Draco cocked his head toward the opened trapdoor and said, “I’ve never seen Milo smile before. I think he’s scarier smiling than when he’s serious. After you, Hermione.”

“What an exhilarating way to end our date, huh?” she asked.

“Is it over?” he asked. He raised one eyebrow.

She walked over to him and said, “We could end it with me healing your arm, if you’d like.”

“No, I want to finish what we started earlier,” he said. He pulled on her jumper, and brought her against his body.

“Do you know what I really want to do?” she asked, with a sweet smile.

He smiled back, and said, “Tell me, Granger, please tell me.”

“I want to read more stories in that book. I can’t wait to find out about the other clans, and the story about Iver’s parents. I’ll go get another shower, get in my nightclothes; you do the same, and meet me in my bedroom, say in twenty minutes?” She clasped her hands in front of her and almost squealed in excitement.

“I hope you’re showing me your sense of humour, because I swear you’d better be joking,” he said. She ran down the stairs and out of sight, laughing.

He frowned and he said to himself, “Damn, I don’t think she was joking, because she really doesn’t have that good of a sense of humour. I better at least get another kiss if I have to spend time in bed reading with her.” He started down the stairs and ran right into her.

“You’ll get a kiss, Draco Malfoy; don’t worry,” she said, “Maybe even more.” She touched his face lightly, smiled again, and took his hand, to pull him down the stairs with her.

“Alright then,” he said, with a grin.

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