A Day and A Night

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Chapter 37: An Admission and a History:

Hermione was angry. She was angry at Milo, at herself, and for some reason, at Draco. Where was he? Why hadn’t he felt her fear, and come for her right away?

She still felt ill, if not slightly odd. She also felt extreme fear. She was afraid of Milo, of the killer, and mostly of this chamber. She tried to stand, but wavered, so she sat back down. She didn’t have her wand, which also angered her. Locked in a cold, dark chamber, with her only light source being a few lit torches, she had no idea if the man who locked her in would come back or not. She had no idea if the man she loved would come and open the door or not. Damn everyone!

She wondered if Draco and Harry would ever find her here. Would Draco ever be able to sense her fear again? He told her that he sensed her fear and anxiety when she was in the tunnels, and that led him to her. Perhaps, just perhaps, her overwhelming cavalcade of emotions she felt now would lead him to her again. On the other hand, maybe there was something in the chamber that blocked their bond. She could only wait and see.

Milo almost raped her. He didn’t, but he might have. It was as if Draco’s dream of raping Hermione in the chamber came true, only instead of Draco being the culprit, it was Milo. She also realized that Milo said that he knew who the murderer was, and it was a she. What if the murderer found her here before Draco did? Then, she might have an even bigger problem. Yes, she was very angry indeed.

Harry, Draco and Iver started back to the castle and Harry said to Draco, “I can’t wait to get this information about the body to Hermione.”

“She’s probably in bed already,” Draco said. He meant to see her safely to bed before he left for the meeting, but she wanted to speak to Milo, so he left them alone. Now he wished that he hadn’t left her alone with him. He tried to concentrate on her, to see if he could ‘feel’ or ‘sense’ her the way he had the other night when she was lost in the tunnels. He sensed nothing. He didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. He turned back toward Harry while they were walking and repeated, “I’m pretty sure she’s asleep. You’ll have to wait and give her that in the morning. My question is, where in the hell is Milo?”

“Milo must be back at the castle,” Iver said to Draco, as he led both men down the path. “I know I told him that Hermione wanted to speak with him, and he went to find her, but that’s the last time I saw him. When I noticed that he wasn’t in the clearing for the meeting, I started it without him.”

“Yes, I left him there with her, but there’s no way they could still be talking. I know she talks a lot, but seriously, there’s no way, is there?” Draco was aware he was babbling, but he was nervous as hell. He wanted to get back to the castle and check on Hermione. What if she wasn’t in bed?

The night was not as dark as it could be, as the moon was full and bright. A large black bird flew overhead, and Iver looked up and said, “That’s Milo there. I would bet my life on it. He’s heading back toward the castle. It looks as if he was coming from Dorchester castle.”

That made Draco feel somewhat better, to know that he hadn’t been at Rhodeana castle with Hermione. Harry walked ahead of Draco, with Iver, and when they reached the courtyard of the castle Harry asked, “Iver, what was the spell that you performed to convince the man from the third clan to give us more time?”

“I gave him my oath that we would find the killer, and if we didn’t, I would take my own life, as punishment,” Iver said. “It’s an oath called, ‘under pain of death’.”

“That’s crazy. We might not be able to solve the murders in two weeks,” Draco reasoned from behind the other two men.

“Well, we’ll have to now,” Harry replied.

Draco came up behind them. “Now I have a question for you.” He pulled on Iver’s arm, as he continued to walk away. Iver spun around as Draco asked, “Was it your idea or your brother’s that the clans should forgo the prince hierarchy, and begin to rule as one central governing body?”

“It was my idea,” Iver said.

“What if Milo won’t go along with that?” Draco asked.

Iver shrugged and said, “At this point, I hardly care what Milo wants. It’s what I want from now on that matters. I’m the true prince of the first clan, not Milo and it’s time I exert my authority. Everyone already knows it; they just need to accept it.” He sat on the steps leading to the front doors.

He hung his head and said, “My father’s bonding with his mate was complete, all three steps, the blood exchange, the becoming one of body and soul, which amounts to making love, and then the third, most important…the pledge that they would never forsake each other, or love another, in the bonding chamber. All that was left was the actual wedding the next morning.”

“What happened?” Draco asked. He sat beside him on the steps. “Why didn’t he marry her?”

“He was selfish. He cared only for himself, not for his people, not for his mate, not for the baby she carried inside her.” He looked up into the surprised expression of both men before him. “She was pregnant with my brother. Of course, my father didn’t know that when he cancelled the wedding the day after the third step in the chamber, but he kept putting off the wedding, and she was increasing more and more each day. He would leave for days at a time; no one knew where he would go; only that he would leave. The last time he left, he was gone for three months, and his younger brother, Angus’ father, Michael, was temporary ruler. He was the one that finally declared that she should marry MacNeill, so the baby would have a father, because it was near her time to deliver. Everyone in the other clans knows this story.”

“Two weeks after MacNeill married her, he came back to the village with my mother. He had already married her. Later, Milo was born, and my father took him from the woman, and decided that he and his wife would raise him. Both my father and MacNeill cast her aside, and the third clan declared war on our clan, for the disgrace placed upon the woman. The woman cursed my mother, who by this time was pregnant with me. They cursed my future mate as well. Even when peace was finally brokered, and the woman taken back by MacNeill, the members of the third clan never forgave my father.”

“That’s a perfectly horrible story,” Draco said. He stood and began to pace. “Granger will be appalled. First, he bonds with his mate, knowing full well that he’s not in love with her, he gets her pregnant, his clan forces her to marry another, he comes back with a wife, they take her baby from her, and then make her go away. Why would she even come back to MacNeill? No wonder the woman cursed your parents and you, though you were an innocent baby. No wonder the third clan hates your family. It’s a bloody melodrama!”

“Believe me,” Iver stated, “I know. It was believed that the third clan was responsible for my parents’ deaths, many years later, on the eve of their sixteenth wedding anniversary, by burning down Dorchester castle. Milo was almost seventeen at the time, so he was of age, and could become prince, so they timed it well. My Uncle decided not to retaliate. He said it was a just ending, and that it was time for peace. However, someone must have retaliated, because of the way Milo’s real mother was killed. She wasn’t killed when she first disappeared, as you all believed. My father and MacNeill banished her again, after Cat was born. MacNeill lied to you when he said that she disappeared on her own. They forced her to leave. She went back to her people, but she never showed herself again. Milo never saw his real mother after she left, which was right after Cat was born. She either hid very well or she must have eventually left our village, because she seemed to have vanished, until we found her dead the other night in the tunnels.”

“I don’t know when she died, or who killed her. I wish I did. I don’t.”

“This is too much to take in,” Draco said. “Wait until Granger hears all of this. So what, that makes you the true prince or something?”

“I’m the legitimate heir, Milo’s not. He’s considered the lost prince, because he has no real place, since he comes from the third clan and the first, though he is the eldest son of the true prince. Cat was his sister, just as I’m his brother. That’s the real reason he could never marry Cat. He never told her that. She died not knowing that he was her brother. Milo means well and he’s had a very hard, confusing life. He’s never known quite where he belongs. He’s never had his mate dream, you see. He truly does feel lost because of it. He’s never felt like he’s part of any certain clan.”

“Was he really cursed when he was born?” Harry asked. “Or was that only you?”

“Only me. I was cursed, as was my future mate. My curse was quite specific. I suffer from this terrible bloodlust. The curse was meant to be that I wouldn’t be able to control it, therefore, I could never go through the mating ritual, because when it came time for the blood exchange, bloodlust would take over, and I would kill my mate.”

“And how was your future mate cursed?” Harry found himself asking.

Iver stood and sighed. “We found out later, from the woman’s journals, after she left, that if I ever revealed my mate dream to anyone, or who the girl was, then she would be cursed to walk the night as a creature from our ancient folklore. There’s a story about a beast in that book you have, Malfoy. It’s called a Valerian or a Valeriana if it’s a woman. A beast, half bird of prey, half-human, with the bloodlust of a vampire, and the allure of a veela. The poor girl was cursed, she has no clue as to the reason why, and the only reason was that I told someone that I had a dream about her. I’ve never met her, but I know she’s out there somewhere, because Milo claimed once that while he was searching for his mate, he found her.”

“And she’s our killer,” Draco said solemnly. “Do you know who she is, even though you’ve never met her?” He placed his hand on the other man’s shoulder.

Iver shook his head no. “I don’t. When I had my mate dream, I was very young, a teenager. I told Milo about it. Little did I know, by the simple act of me telling another person about my dream, I activated the curse upon the poor girl. He used his great talent of Legilimency to go into my mind and draw out the dream. He saw her face clearly. Clearer than I did, in fact. You see, in all his travels to find his mate, he’s also been trying to find mine, to stop her. I think he surely must know who it is. He found her, a long time ago, but he’s kept her from me and me from her. Perhaps, if he had told me about her, shown her to me, I could have stopped her from killing. Perhaps she would have accepted me as I am, and I could have prevented her from being what she’s become, or maybe, that’s all just a dream.”

Draco looked over at Harry and said, “The bastard has known the killer all this time, and he never said a word. Why?”

“I don’t know, but we have to find him,” Harry stated.

“First, we have to find Granger.” Draco bumped past Iver as he walked into the castle, and the envelope with the forensic evidence that Harry gave him earlier fell from his jacket pocket to the ground.

Iver stooped down, picked it up, and handed it to Draco, but he looked at it carefully before he did. He said, “What’s this, Malfoy?”

“The proof that the body your brother identified as Jennifer Cravens is instead that of Marcella O’Brien,” Draco said slowly. He held out his hand, for the envelope.

Iver handed the envelope to him and dropped back to the steps. He hung his head again and said, “Of course it is. How could the body be that of Jennifer Cravens when I suspect that she’s not dead?”

Draco didn’t know what Iver meant by that, but he ran inside the castle, his heart beating wildly the whole time, chanting in his head, “be there, Hermione, be there.”

Harry was right behind him. After they searched everywhere for her, they ran back down to the Great Hall, to find Iver. They found Milo standing there with his brother, just outside the door. Draco yelled at them, “Where is she? Where’s Hermione?”

Both men turned toward Draco, and then turned toward the door, before they became birds and flew away into the dusky purple hue of the impending dawn sky.

Draco cursed the day he came to Glendora!

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