Chapter 14 : I Hate Everything About You
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Why do i love you?
//Three Days Grace
Hermione thought she would lay awake for hours, possibly the whole night, but the second she threw herself onto the bed the warm covers enveloped her body and the moon sung her a soft lullaby that sent her drifting off to deep, restless sleep, in which disconnected images kept flashing in her head.
Ron, laughing and smiling, toasting her on a warm summer's night as he spoke warmly of the future.
Ron kissing a strange, tall brunette.
Malfoy, showing a different side of himself until the slumbering wolf inside him broke free.
Malfoy, and the way he would look at her when he thought she wasn't looking.
Malfoy, and that disgustingly smug smile of his that Hermione had always found oddly appealing.
Malfoy, and the eyes of shining silver that just once had turned to pure gold.
Hermione awoke the next morning, feeling warm and shaky, for a second befuddled not to find herself on Malfoy's flowery couch, but instead in a soft four-poster with sheets of lilac.
She yawned and stretched, trying to shake off dreams of Malfoy as she looked around in the room, surveying all the feminine details that only a woman's touch could have provided.
'Who's room has this been?' She wondered vaguely, her eyes settling on the beautiful, laced curtains framing a gorgeous view over the forest. She slipped out of bed and walked over to the window, and, leaning on the whitewashed frame, she looked out. She felt a small stab of surprise when she recognized the only house within sight.
On the other side of the forest, next to a pond that glittered in the wintry sunlight, lay her grandparents' cozy home, where she had spent her last happy, peaceful days before her life had been turned upside down.
So it had been the same forest in which she had been bitten, the forest Adrian had pulled her through the day before.
Chills went down her back as her eyes keenly skimmed the treetops, knowing that somewhere, in there, was the very spot where her life had ended.
She turned her back on the window.
All she really wanted to do was to lay down in the soft, comfy bed again and sleep, and never have to wake up to see the silvery face of the moon glaring down at her to greet her with bestial change.
For a moment strange thoughts overcame her. Scary thoughts, about how easy it would be to end it all, right there, perhaps to jump out of the window and fall the twenty or so feet down to the cold, unforgiving stone below and let that be her deathbed. Or maybe, she thought, turning to the mirror. Maybe I could throw an Avada Cadavra spell right at the mirror, and let the rays of green death reflect back on me?
However, when she caught sight of the mirror, all suicidal thoughts were dropped at once.
She was staring back at her gaunt reflection, but even as she looked the Hermione in the mirror was changing. The rosy color of her cheeks came back and it appeared her eyes were ignited again, losing all specks of gold as they turned a deep, dark shade of mahogany.
Mirror-Hermione smiled, and the brilliant sun in the window behind her exited the scene to let a full moon, round and silver as a sickle, be her background.
'Oh no,' Hermione thought, expecting to see herself changing under the influence of the moon, but to her surprise Mirror-Hermione didn't. Instead she simply stood there, smiling brightly in the silvery moonlight. Hermione noticed that the seemingly ungrowing wound on her neck was gone, replaced by soft, flawless skin the color of apple flesh.
Then something, someone, was entered the reflection, and Hermione held her breath as she waited for the man to reveal his identity. He stepped up behind her, in the shadows, and let his hands slip around her possessively. Mirror-Hermione closed her eyes and leaned back, melting into the man's touch, and just as Hermione expected Ron's freckly, familiar face to peek out of the darkness she was instead surprised to see the pale, pointed features of the boy she had once believed to be her worst enemy.
She held her breath, and she thought she felt a soft breeze behind her which made her spin around, actually expecting to find Malfoy standing there only to look into the golden irises of a woman somehow familiar, yet so unfamiliar all the same.
She was Hermione's height exactly, her frame was light and almost elvish, and though there was a distinct air of decay around her she still appeared more graceful and brilliant than Hermione had ever been, or even hoped to become. Her hair, once blond and shiny, had lost both color and sheen. It looked dead, as Hermione had noticed the night before that it had a tendency to do on werewolves. But, perhaps most peculiar, was the fact that Hermione could see right through this woman as though she was smoke.
"What did you see?" the woman asked, in a carrying whisper. Her eyes widened and she seemed somewhat manic, staring into Hermione's eyes.
"I..." Hermione said, "I saw myself. I was happy."
The woman smiled scornfully. "Happiness is illusion." she said mysteriously. "You can never be truly happy."
"That's not true." Hermione said stubbornly, crossing her arms over her famished frame.
"You will never be content, there will always be something better out there, and thus, you can never be happy."
Hermione thought about this for a second, "Well, if you did get everything you wanted..."
"Everything you thought you wanted." the woman corrected her almost automatically, her eyes empty and cold. "No one really knows what they want. I thought I knew what I wanted, I thought I would be happy, but I was wrong. I got everything I pointed at, only to discover that I should have pointed elsewhere."
Hermione chewed her tongue and looked at the woman, strangely enough not scared at all by what she was facing. She was rather sure nothing could scare her anymore after the horrors of the last few days. Her heart had been torn to pieces, and whatever was left of her did not seem to care what happened next.
"What did you see, exactly?" the ghost urged her.
"I saw myself." Hermione repeated. "Before I was bitten, when I still had a future. I saw the moon rise behind me, but it didn't effect me at all."
The woman scrutinized her. "Do you think you will be happy if things would go back?"
Hermione did not need to think about the answer. She nodded, fiercely.
The ghost smiled. "I used to be like you, once." she said. "Young... and foolish. I thought that if I could only go back, if I could only turn down the handsome youth that humbly asked me for my hand and promised me forever, that I would be happy. But I realize now that I am wrong."
Hermione found this rather interesting, in spite of herself. She looked the ghost up and down, and the more she surveyed her, the more she realized how the woman showed all signs of having lived an exceptionally tormented life in spite of appearing to have everything while she lived. "So what does the mirror show?" Hermione asked finally, when she realized the woman was not going to continue her tragic story. "The past? The future?"
"Don't you recognize it, Hermione Granger?" the woman whispered, nodding towards the mirror, making Hermione turn to face it again.
Hermione's jaw fell as she looked above the alluring reflection. She had never looked into the mirror herself, not before now, but she had heard Harry and Ron tell her about it's magic.
"But, didn't Dumbledore destroy this many years ago?" she said thoughtfully, turning back to the woman, only to see her slowly making her way towards the window with long, tired steps. "Wait!" Hermione exclaimed, because there was something foreboding about the way the ghost impossibly unhinged the window and climbed onto the white sill.
Hermione ran, screaming for the woman to stop, but it was too late.
Narcissa Malfoy jumped, and when Hermione looked down, scared to see the sight that was bound to face her far below, she saw nothing.
A sound behind her made her turn, the heart still beating in her chest from what she had just witnessed.
It was Marietta who had opened the door, looking livid.
"What?" she said, obviously annoyed at the lack of drama inside Hermione's room. "Why did you yell?"
"There was a woman here." Hermione said, and she realized her fingers were trembling. She hid them behind her back. "A ghost."
Marietta didn't look surprised at all. "Oh, that was just Narcissa." she said lazily, picking off some painted flowers off the doorframe with her long, chapped, claw-like nails. "This was my room when I first came here. I had to move out, she was driving me insane. She's quite harmless though, it just gets wearing to see her kill herself every night."
Hermione nodded slowly, eyeing the window.
"So, Remus wanted me to go up here and invite you to eat breakfast with us. We always eat together on the morning of transformation."
Hermione's stomach grumbled, and Marietta eyed it with satisfaction and pity mingled. "I know." she said. "It's hard to find food when you're a lycan. Don't worry, though: there's plenty of blood downstairs."
At the sound of the word 'blood' Hermione's stomach turned over, and then grumbled once more. Her mouth seemed oddly dry and, though she did not notice it herself, her eyes flashed gold.
Marietta smiled. "Come." she said, and like an obedient dog Hermione followed her downstairs, through corridors of stiff, unblinking Malfoys, until the pair reached what was clearly the dining room. It was huge, and Hermione had a hard time imagining the times when only three people were sitting around the handsome, dark-wooded table opposed to the eleven, soon to be thirteen, currently seated.
"Sleep well?" Remus Lupin the second asked Hermione energetically as he beckoned for her to sit down on the free chair to his right. Hermione obeyed, once more, and she sank down in the soft cushions and looked up at the teenager beside her.
He looked like another man today, Remus Lupin II. It seemed the prospect of the gathering moon had re-lit a spark of life within him, because once Hermione and Marietta became number twelve and thirteen to sit down his entire face bursted into a sharp-toothed grin. His permanently golden eyes glittered in the glow of the chandelier as he spread his arms and each of the thin-stemmed glasses on the table was miraculously filled with a deep red liquid resembling red wine.
Remus lifted his own glass and held it aloft, and his minions followed his example, Hermione lagging behind, looking around at the others for a second before copying the gesture. She couldn't help but notice that all of them looked tired and almost sick; all, except for Remus Lupin II. "To a new full moon," the latter said gruffly, and his eyes met Hermione's for the briefest second. "And to new opportunities to do good in this world."
And with a short toast he drank, and everyone else followed.
Hermione put the cold glass to her lips, closed her eyes and drank, and the rusty taste of blood filled her mouth. She felt sick, nauseated, but her hands and lips did not obey her. In less than a minute she had drained the glass, and she put it down along with everyone else at the table. She looked around, scared, to see her fellow werewolves looking oddly refreshed. The ones that had looked pale and livid moments before had a new glow underneath their human masks.
Remus wiped away a trickle of blood from his chin with the back of his hand before grinning at all of them again. "How did that taste? Great, right?"
There was a murmur of agreement around the table.
"Thought so." Remus said smugly, and he clapped his hands twice. Something heavy fell to the table, making Hermione and several others jump. A dead deer had appeared on the tabletop, it's antlers pointing towards Remus; It's dead eyes staring straight at Hermione, reflecting the scared girl. "Dig in!"
All about manners were forgotten as the werewolves threw themselves over their prey. Legs were torn off, bones were gnawed hungrily and blood was spurting. Hermione was sure she was going to pass out, but a force inside of her that she recognized as the wolf made her reach out a bony hand towards the deer. Remus caught her short, however, and he held something she was rather sure was the animal's unbeating heart towards her.
"Here." he said, and smiled, his sharp fangs peeking out from underneath his upper lip.
Just then, as something in Hermione was about to reach out and accept the heart from his hand, the door to the dining room flew open with a loud bang.
The famished werewolves stopped dead, some of them with blood smeared across their faces, others with their mouths filled with deer.
The heart was dropped somewhere between Remus and Hermione, making a disgusting, soft, squelching sound as it met the surface of the table.
"Draco Malfoy." Remus spoke, nodding as he stood up and held his arms out once more in what seemed to be a warm welcome though Hermione could tell it was covered in ice. "You felt the call of the moon and decided to join us... Again?"
"Not exactly." Malfoy said through gritted teeth. He looked as though he had not slept for nights; his hair was disheveled and his pale skin bore dark circles underneath his silvery eyes. "In fact, I would rather die than join you."
Remus II smiled maliciously. "Is that so." he said, and the cold in his voice was tearing through his warm demeanor. "Then why are you interrupting our dinner? You know we come together once a month to dine."
"It has not escaped my notice." Malfoy said coldly, and his eyes fell upon Hermione, who had frozen in her seat with her eyes set upon him. "I'm simply here to pick up what I believe is mine."
"And what would that be?" Remus inquired.
Malfoy pointed towards Hermione. "Her." he said, and when Remus looked crestfallen the blond laughed harshly. "I'm simply following your policy, Lupin."
"What policy?" Hermione piped up, and several golden eyes flashed towards her before they returned to the drama playing out across the table and the dead deer.
"We werewolves have a policy." Remus said, looking towards Hermione with a sweet smile that did not suit him at all. "Which says that a bond is formed between a werewolf and whoever bit it. It's not just something I have invented; it's a proven fact that a special connection begins to exist the second someone is bitten." He paused importantly, before he went on: "I bit every person in this room, excluding him-" Remus pointed towards Malfoy. "And you."
"Who bit me, then?" Hermione said, though she already had her suspicions. She rose from the table, unsteadily, as Draco took another step into the light of the chandelier, his eyes still firmly set upon her.
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