A Day and A Night

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Chapter 26: A Goodnight and a Question

Hermione Granger sat in a chair in the corner of her bedchamber, rubbed her eyes, and yawned. She felt so tired, but she wanted to continue reading. As soon as she got back to her room, she changed into her nightgown, forgoing another bath, and she opened the book as soon as she was able. She would read a story or two while she waited for Draco. The first story she turned to was the one about Milo and Iver’s parents.

Hermione was of the mindset that Malfoy was completely wrong about the fact that Violet Edgewater had not written this book. She undoubtedly wrote this book…because the story entitled, ‘Love From Another Land’ told the harrowing, sad story of Iver and Milo’s parents. It couldn’t be an old folktale. It was real. She felt it in her bones.

The story echoed what Iver had told her earlier, a young man, a prince of his clan, already bound through blood exchange to his mate, leaves on the eve of his wedding. He returns only two weeks later having married a woman that he had met ten months earlier in the neighboring village. He chose to marry for love, instead of marrying because fate had selected his mate. Many people of their village never forgave him, and though the young couple was happy, and had two beautiful sons, they met an unhappy ending. One night, on the eve of their 16th wedding anniversary, their castle burnt to the ground, killing both of them, leaving their children orphaned and alone.

In the story, the man’s jealous mate burned the castle, because she had been left at the altar. She was brokenhearted, and the jealousy and rage that twisted her mind, compelled her to seek revenge by murdering her mate and his true love. Hermione often thought that the murders of these young girls were a crime of passion, or jealousy. She wondered if perhaps someone was trying to kill Milo’s potential mate, before he could find her. It was plausible, all except for Violet’s death…that one didn’t fall in that theory.

When Hermione reached the end of the story, she found that she was crying. She also found that an hour had passed. It was well after midnight, and Draco had never come for her. She wondered where he was, and why he had yet to come, but she wasn’t worried. She knew that he would not disappoint her.

Hermione found it curious that Milo’s father would give up his mate to marry another woman. She naturally assumed that the Valdes, and Veelas, fell in love with their mates. Otherwise, none of this ‘mating’ thing made any sense to her. Milo seemed so intent to find his mate, because he seemed so unhappy without love. Hermione thought the two went hand-in-hand. If he could love without finding his mate, then why didn’t he just open his heart to finding a woman to love, instead of trying to find his mate?

These thoughts led her to thoughts of Draco. Had he been waiting for Hermione for years? Why? Just because he had a dream, that she was his mate. Did that mean that he loved her solely because of that dream, or because of her? She wasn’t even sure of her own feelings at this point. She knew that she found Draco attractive. She thought he was witty, charming, at times irritating and a pompous git, but overall, she was beginning really to fall for the man.

Nevertheless, it was too soon to call it love. It had only been a week. People don’t fall in love in a week.

Yet, she knew that Draco loved her very much. She placed the book beside her on the chair and stared at the dying embers of the fire. She brought her feet up under her, and placed a wool throw over her legs. Did Draco really love her already? Had he loved her for a long time, or had he fallen in love with her since they started working together? Was he merely ruled by his Veela heritage, and the magic of Glendora, or did he really, truly love HER?

Did she love him? She could honestly say that although she felt things for him that she had never felt for another man, she did not know yet if she loved him. It was simply too soon. She knew she was falling in love with him, and that was a start, and even that thought scared her. She was falling in love with the man, and she wondered if Draco’s love for her was shallow, and ruled by fate, by magic, and not by his own mind or heart.

She knew that he was worried about the same thing. He had said as much. She wanted to take things slowly, date him, get to know him, and then discover if what they felt was real. Right now, they were thrown together to solve these murders, and the heightened awareness of ‘mates’ and the danger they found themselves in surely fueled their feelings. She sighed and rubbed her eyes again.

She wanted to know if what she felt was real, or merely magic. Was it the romantic notion of pre-ordained love that ruled her heart, or was it the man himself? If they had met again at a bar, in London, or anywhere else, would she feel the same? She knew that he would, but would she?

Of course, she would! She chided herself for even considering otherwise. The small hand on the clock was moving toward the one. He wasn’t coming. She would close her eyes, for a moment. One small moment, and then go look for him.

Draco took a long, hot shower. He dressed and treated his own wound, although healing spells were not his forte. He started toward Hermione’s room, when he found Cat, alone in an Alcove in the guest wing of the castle. He couldn’t help noticing her tears and distress, so he stopped walking, and sat down on the window seat beside to her.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

“Iver’s a vampire,” she said quietly. “I can’t believe it, but it’s true. Milo just told me everything.”

“He’s not really a vampire, he was cursed, you know,” Draco responded.

The young girl continued to cry. “Milo told me that the reason he decided that Iver would marry me instead of him marrying me was because he knew he could detain it, put the wedding off, as long as he wished, if it was between Iver and me. If it were between him and me, the clans would have forced us to marry by now. He said that by betrothing me to Iver, he was protecting him. It doesn’t make sense to me. He said that he has searched for a cure for his brother for almost as long as he’s been searching for his own mate.” She looked up at Draco and said, “But he also said that because of his curse, he will probably never find his mate.”

“He could still fall in love, right?” Draco said. He phrased it as a question, even though he meant it as a reassuring statement. He needed to know that love could still occur without finding one’s mate, because he wanted to be certain that Granger could love him, even though she wasn’t of Veela heritage.

“Yes, of course. I’m not Iver’s mate, and we’re in love,” she answered.

Draco wondered if that was true, at least on Iver’s part. He felt that Iver was merely marrying Cat because his brother was forcing him to do so. Cat continued, “And look at Iver’s parents, they weren’t mates, and they were in love.”

“That’s right,” Draco said, pleased.

“I feel badly for Milo,” she concluded. “I wish I had known about the curses on both of them. I might not have been able to help, but it would have been better for me to know, don’t you think?”

“Yes,” Draco agreed. It was all he could say.

She said, “Milo said that he uses magic when he meets a woman, to see if they‘re his mate, since he’s never really had his mate dream, but that it never works. He’s lonely. He’s sad.”

“So is Iver, I think,” Draco said. He wanted to tell the young girl that many people were sad and lonely. Hell, Draco was sad and lonely. He closed his eyes for a moment and thought of Hermione. He wondered if his sadness and loneliness would subside now that he had her in his life. “Well, I best go to Granger. She’s waiting for me.” He stood up to leave, but stopped when Cat called his name.

“Mr. Malfoy?” she asked. He turned to her. “Do you really love her?”

Draco pondered that question. Did he really love her? He was sure that he did. He remembered his mate dream vividly. He was only a boy, a teenager, still young. He was at home, on break from school. He had been ill for a week…not eating well, not sleeping, irritable, moody. His mother even sent him to a Healer. His father sat him down on the fourth day of his ‘illness’ and told him everything, EVERYTHING, about their Veela heritage.

Draco was told back then about being a descendent of Glendora. His family could trace their lineage back to the eighth sister, Annsa, which in Gaelic means beloved. His branch of the family moved to France, and then later to England. His father told him that he was of an age where he would have his ‘mate’ dream. He told him what to expect, and not to be afraid. He told him that when he had his own dream, he went to his father, and his father explained everything exactly the same way to him.

It was that very night, after his talk with his father, that he had his dream. He dreamt that he was a man, not a boy, and he was in a dark hollow, that was endless, open. It was an empty abyss. He walked in circles, screaming, crying, and calling for help. He was bleeding. He had an open wound on his chest, near his heart. He felt pain, not from the wound, but from a loss that he couldn’t explain. He felt trapped in a void, the results were cataclysmic, and he knew that he was going to die.

Then, a light filled the chamber and he felt calm and reassured. He walked toward the source of the light, and he saw a woman. He felt immediate love for her. He felt peace and happiness. The wound on his chest closed and the bleeding stopped. She opened her arms to him. He ran to her. Then he took her in his arms and held her.

It was Hermione Granger.

When he woke up, he was so shocked and upset that he felt sick. He couldn’t get out of his bed for days. His father finally came to his room and asked him if he had his dream. He told him yes. Then he asked him if he recognized the woman who was to be his mate.

He told him no.

How could he tell his father, a Death Eater, Voldemort’s right-hand man, that his ‘mate’ was a Mudblood? Even worst, a friend of Harry Potter’s? Draco asked his father if his mother was the woman from his mate dream. He said that she was. Draco turned to his side and begged his father to leave him alone for a while.

His father left the room, and Draco Malfoy stared at the wall and then he cried.

Did he love her? He looked at Cat to answer her question.

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