A Day and A Night

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Chapter 36: A Vow and an Awakening:

“Where have you been, Potter?” Draco asked from his place behind a tall pine tree, deep in the forest of Glendora. Harry Potter walked up to Draco Malfoy, and threw him his invisibility cloak. “I’ve been waiting here almost an hour!”

“Here, take this,” Potter said as the cloak went flying through the air. “I had to wait at the loch for a very important Owl, and it just now arrived. It has the forensic evidence that Hermione needs to prove if the last body is that of Marcella O’Brien, and not that of Jennifer Cravens.”

“Then Hermione was right, as usual. She’ll be pleased as punch. The meeting is well underway, and we’ve miss half of it,” Draco complained with a low hiss. “I got as close as I dared, but I can’t hear or see a thing from this far away.” Draco shook the wrinkles out of the cloak and placed it over his shoulders. Harry joined him under the cloak and Draco said, “A bit close in here isn’t it?”

“Sh,” Harry warned. He pushed on Draco’s back and the two Aurors went closer to the secret meeting of all seven clans, held in a clearing, deep in the forest, up the path from where they were previously standing.

The men, under the veil of the invisibility cloak, hid behind a large patch of bushes. They saw at least one hundred men, all in black robes, in a circle, and in the middle of the circle was Iver, not Milo. Iver was explaining, with dramatic flare that it was now time for all the clans to stick together. He declared an outsider was killing these girls. He said that no one felt the loss of Cat MacNeill more than him and his family. He said the death of MacNeill’s wife was unfortunate, but that she must have been trying to run away all those years ago, became lost in the tunnels, and perished within, but that it had nothing to do with the deaths of the young outsiders and Cat.

Draco looked over at Harry and raised his eyebrows. Harry shrugged. Apparently, Iver had decided not to tell the clans that Cat’s mother had been killed in the same fashion as all the others, but many years before.

Iver told everyone that perhaps it was time for equal rule amongst the clans. He said that clan hierarchy was antiquated and that he and Milo wanted the village to start to govern themselves by a council that was made up of representatives from all the clans. He promised that as soon as the sordid business with the killer was behind them, they would pursue that very thing.

Draco whispered to Harry, “I wonder if that is just Iver’s fondest hope, or if Milo really wants that, too. Milo seems to love his power a bit too much. Where the hell is he, anyway?”

“I don’t know, but shut up, won’t you, and listen,” Harry begged.

When a young blond man walked toward the middle of the circle, from his place in the crowd, and demanded to know where Milo was, Iver looked back toward MacNeill, and his cousin, Angus. Then he turned back toward the crowd and he said, “I’m speaking on behalf of my brother, and myself. He’s in deep meditation at this time. He’s trying to determine what we should do next.”

Men began to shout all sorts of things… “Close the borders to outsiders,”… “Get rid of all the Aurors,”… “Milo is to blame,”…some even began to call for an all out war with the Ministry. Iver raised his hands and begged for silence. “Now is not the time for dissention. Now is the time for peace among our clans. We must cooperate with the outsiders, and the Aurors. As soon as they find the killer, they will leave. The Auror, Draco Malfoy, is one of us. He is a descendent from the eighth clan, and he wants to bring peace to our people. He won’t allow the Ministry of Magic to interfere with the village or our people. He and Hermione Granger, his mate, are very close to finding the killer, so please give us more time. I ask that of all of you.”

An old man stood up, with the aid of a younger man. He held up his hand and begged for silence. “We will give the prince and his brother the time they seek. We have no right to question their authority.” He turned to Iver and said, “But know this, Prince Iver, if this Draco Malfoy, son of the eighth clan, cannot find the killer soon, then we shall not continue to hold Milo’s word as law. We will exact the ancient edict and have him declared unfit for rule, and your family’s tenet, which goes back to our forefathers, will end, and we will announce a prince from the second clan, as is our authority to do so.”

“Give us two weeks,” Iver pleaded. “We need to bury our dead, mourn our loss, and then find the killer. Two weeks.”

The old man shook his head and said, “The second clan agrees to this request. We will give you two weeks. You have our pledge and our loyalty, as always.”

A younger man stood and said, “The fourth clan gives allegiance to Prince Iver and Prince Milo. We will give you all the time you need.”

Another stood and said, “As leader of the fifth clan, I too give you my alliance and my pledge that we will follow your decree.”

“I speak for the seventh, and the lesser clan,” an old man said, standing near the edge of the circle. “We give you our agreement to wait, as we need your protection and power.”

Another young man stood and said, “I speak for my father, who is too ill to attend, and the sixth clan will do whatever we must to seek peace and we will follow the words and decrees of Prince Milo and his brother.”

Finally, the man from the third clan, the blond man who spoke earlier, and the same one who brought the dead girl to the castle the other night, and the one that cursed Draco in the ensuing fight, stood in the middle of the crowd again. Once inside the inner circle he said, “I will only give my allegiance to Prince Milo himself, not to his brother. Tell him that.”

“Please, brother,” Iver said. “May I have your word, and your peace? My own beloved Cat was a descendent of your clan. In her memory and her name, won’t you help us to find her killer?” Iver walked closer to the man and said, “Please, Donald. Please. You have my word that the person responsible will pay with their life.”

“That is the word of Prince Iver,” the man said. “I need the word of Prince Milo.”

Iver drew his wand, which surprised Harry and Draco, since the other man had not drawn his. Harry looked at Draco, and slowly pulled out his own wand. Draco followed. They both held their breath, and their wands, under the cloak, to see what would happen next.

Iver held his wand up in the air, and cast a spell in Gaelic. A ring of green and blue smoke surrounded both men. The entire throng seemed shocked, and surprised. Draco realized the spell had to be one of great importance. When the smoke dispersed, Iver put his arm to his side and said, “Is my word good enough for you now?”

“Under pain of death, yes, Iver, it is,” the other man said. He held out his hand and Iver shook it. Everyone began to leave. Iver inhaled a visible sigh of relief.

Draco looked at Harry and said, “Well, I think we missed the best part, because we really didn’t learn anything.”

“I think we learned a lot,” Harry argued. “Where’s Milo, anyway?”

“My thoughts exactly, and I asked you the very same thing moments ago and you told me to shut up. Let’s go ask Iver,” Draco said.

Iver remained in the middle of the clearing, with members of his own clan and family milling around, as Harry and Draco approached. He turned sharply when he heard them come nearer. “Where’s Milo?” Draco asked.

“That’s a good question,” Iver said back. “I was rather hoping he would be with you.”

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Milo paced back and forth in front of the body of Hermione Granger. He took a deep breath again and looked down at the woman at his feet. She had been sleeping for almost an hour. When would she wake? This had never happened with the spell before. He was worried, afraid, and confused. She had begged him to take her to Malfoy right after he first started his spell up in their office, but he had refused. Instead, he took her deep into the forest, to the old ruins of Dorchester Castle, which is where they remained.

He knelt beside her body, as it lay on the cold floor of the old mating chamber in the dungeons of Dorchester castle and he touched her cheek lightly with his fingers. She was cold.

He sat beside her body and took her hand. He cupped her face with his other hand and said, “Hermione, you must wake up now. Listen to me, you must wake up.”

She didn’t move. She was so still, that it scared him. He stood up and walked around the chamber. He knew it was late, and that the meeting must be over. He wondered if it still happened without him. Did Iver speak to the clans? Was Draco searching for Hermione? Would they come here to search for them?

He was at the point where he was certain he had done nothing wrong, but then she wouldn’t wake up, so now he wasn’t so certain. Why would she not wake up? He crossed back over and looked at the beautiful girl lying on the stone floor. In the soft light from the torches on the wall, she looked more beautiful than he had ever seen her. He wanted her. He didn’t care if she belonged to another. He only cared what he wanted, and he wanted this young, fresh, beautiful, intelligent woman before him, if only she would wake up. Was this the anguish that his father felt, so long ago? He knew it was wrong to want a woman that wasn’t his, yet he still took her, and now Milo was faced with the same dilemma.

Hermione was aware that she was somewhere cold and dark. She was on a floor, on her side. Her body immediately began to protest its placement on the floor. She hurt everywhere, and her eyes would not open. She willed herself to breathe. Breathe. BREATHE. She heard a familiar voice call out her name, stroke her cheek, cup her face, and now lift her upper body into their lap. It wasn’t Draco. Why wasn’t it Draco?

“Milo?” she whispered, almost in disbelief. Please, don’t let it be him. It made no sense that he was here with her. Where was here? Where was she? She opened her eyes, and tried to focus them on her surroundings. Oh God. Not this place. Anywhere but here with this man. She closed her eyes again, and willed it to be a dream.

His hands continued to touch her lightly. He continued to stroke her hair and face. She felt him place a small kiss on the crown of her head. He said her name again. He said he was sorry. Why was he sorry? He was being gentle and kind. He swore under his breath and begged her to open her eyes again. “Open your eyes, Hermione. Open your eyes.”

She opened her eyes.

“Look at me.”

She looked at him.

“You’re safe. Do you remember anything?”

“I don’t,” she managed to say.

He placed his fingertips on her lips. “Say no more,” he urged. He lifted her farther, so that he cradled her on his lap, as he sat against the wall of the chamber. He began to talk, soothing words, mostly to himself. “This has never happened before. I was holding you on my lap, much as I am now, in the castle, in your office. I began to delve into your mind. I tried to press my influence on you, but you resisted. I’ve never come across such resistance before. All I could see was the love you felt for Draco Malfoy, and I became so angry. I was certain that you felt something for me. Some spark. I had some hope, but no, everything you felt was for him.”

“My anger began to consume me, and it rebounded from your brain back to me, and suddenly, you began to convulse in my arms. I was so afraid. I thought you might die. I wrapped you in my coat and brought you here. I’ve been watching and waiting for you to wake up. Don’t be afraid of me, Hermione. I won’t hurt you. I could never hurt you. I only wanted to know what all of this means. I thought…I mean…I’m never wrong. I know I saw something there. You felt something for me, and it wasn’t hate. It wasn’t.” He looked down at her finally.

Her eyes were closed again.

She expelled a long held breath and looked up at him. “I’d convinced myself that I hated you. I told Draco that I did. I’ve tried hard to avoid you, ever since that kiss outside the dining room, or even really before. I want to hate you. You’re an enigma to me. I can’t figure you out, I can’t decipher my own feelings for you, and that’s what I really hate. I can’t stand not being in control.” Hermione swallowed and then said, “I guess what I’m saying is that I’m as confused as you are. I don’t know what I feel. I don’t think I hate you, but I do know that I love Draco.”

“Then you aren’t my mate.” He sad it sadly, and with finality.

“You must know that I’m not.” She brought her hand up to touch his face, but thought against it, and put it back in her lap.

“If you’re not my mate, then why do I feel attraction to you?” he asked. “I know I asked you the same things outside the dining room that night, but I really have to know! If you’re not my mate, why do I think about kissing you? Why do I want you? Why can I imagine myself with you?”

“Milo, maybe you need to stop looking for your mate, and just open your heart to find love,” she said. “Do you think I love Draco Malfoy because he thinks I’m his mate? Do you think I love him because of the ancient magic of this place, or because it’s preordained? No. I love him because of the man he’s become, and because of the way he makes me feel.”

“I could make you love me, you know,” he said. “And I once told you that I could take you from him if I wanted to. It’s within my right as the Prince of these people. Even if someone else has made a claim, I can usurp it. Hermione, you tell me that perhaps I’m looking for a mate, when I should be looking for love, but have you considered that perhaps you’re confused, too?”

He took her hand, the one that was previously injured. There was not even a scar. He kissed her open palm. He kept the hand in his and said, “Maybe you only think you love him because of the magic of the bonding. I forced a blood bond on you and Malfoy. I knew after I did that, you would then make love, which was the second step to bonding. I did that because I wanted you so much, and I knew it was wrong, because you were his, so I forced you two together, thinking it would stop what I was feeling.”

“But I loved him before that,” she declared. She was suddenly struck by the oddity of the situation. They were together, her on his lap, him on the floor, in a secret chamber, far from everyone else, having the most inane conversation about love and mates, and yet, she wasn’t afraid…yet.

“Perhaps you did already have feelings for him, but perhaps I sped it along. Perhaps if I forced a blood bond between us, and if we made love, and then if we took the third step, and declared our bonding in this ancient chamber, you might find that your feelings for me are not so ambiguous any longer.”

“Please, Milo. Take me to Draco. We must find the killer. That’s what’s important.” She began to push against his chest, though she still felt weak. His arms, like bands of steel, tightened around her.

“That hardly matters at this point; besides, I now know who the murderer is, and I alone will stop her. I haven’t known all along, but after Cat died, and I saw the note, I knew. She will never hurt another person. I promise you that. Most of all, she will never, ever touch you. I plan to stop her. I plan to stop her tonight.”

“Who is it?” she asked. “Who is she?”

He placed his fingertips on her mouth to silence her. She trembled with fear under his touch. The silence wrapped with the shadows that danced throughout the chamber, and then danced inside his dark eyes. He lowered his mouth toward hers. She was certain he was going to kiss her; instead, his mouth grazed her bare neck and shoulder.

Then, radiating pain passed through her, and she cried out. She pushed against his chest as his teeth sunk into her, and he drew her life force, her blood, into his mouth. Her sharp intake of breath was one of shock and pain, not pleasure. However, the pushing on his shoulders turned to clutching. His hands pressed on her back, pushing her closer to him.

Her scent was alluring, he knew that from the start, from the first moment he met her, but it was nothing compared to her taste. Her taste was exquisite, rare, enthralling. He stopped sucking and pressed his tongue against the wound to stop the bleeding. She was now limp again in his arms, but she was fully awake. She had only stopped fighting. He pressed his lips against the warm skin of her pulse point, his senses heightened by his desire. He said against her skin, “Blood of my blood, may it bind me to you. The first step is almost done, Hermione, but you must now take some of my blood.”

He bit down on his own lip, so that it bled, and held her face in his hands and kissed her mouth finally, a hard, long, passionate, demanding kiss, so that his blood would fill her mouth. Her passiveness was not mistaken for want, and that angered him in a way, so he broke the kiss, and looked deeply into her eyes. Her body felt slack and weak in his arms.

“Kiss me back, Hermione. I want you to, and you want to, as well. We’ve just exchanged blood. We have started our bonding.” He gave her lips another quick kiss, and looked down at her again. Tentatively, her hand went to his face, but then she scratched his face as hard as she could. He pulled her hand away from his face, brought his mouth down on hers again, harder, hungry for her, ferocious and fierce, and she began to whimper and she continued to fight. She was no longer passive, and she was certainly not willing. The shock she felt earlier, from his bite, was waning, and now she was angry. He bit down on her lower lip, drawling more blood. His tongue circled the outside of her mouth, and then plunged inside.

She pulled his hair and pushed on his chest. He didn’t care. He didn’t notice. All sense of better judgment was shrouded by his intense pleasure for the woman in his arms. He placed her on the floor, off his lap, and placed his body on top of hers. He caressed her arms, neck, and breasts on the outside of her clothing, even as she continued to hit and scratch at him. She began to whimper and cry. She pleaded with him to stop.

His hand went down to cup her bottom, and then came back up to her hip, her waist, and then her breast. He smoothed his hand over her breast, as her fingers again pulled at his hair. Finally, he kissed her again, and her cries became silent. He lifted his head, and saw that she was crying, and that she was no longer fighting. She was lying still on the floor, tears streaming down her face.

He stopped. His head fell down to her shoulder and he said, “Don’t cry. Please don’t cry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m sorry. I just want you so much, and I thought you wanted me.” He rolled off her so fast that she was shocked by his sudden departure. Then he ran from the chamber, but to her fear, he shut and locked the door, leaving her inside.

She was all alone.

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