Chapter 14 : In The End
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“What’s wrong, Haley?” Hermione asked seeing the terror on her friend’s face.
“It’s Cameron, I haven’t seen him for two days now, so I got worried and went to his room to look for him. I just thought that he was storing himself away like he had first done when you brought him here.” Haley’s eyes pleaded for forgiveness before she even had to say it. “I’ve smelled the Rogue on you before, and his stench is all over Cameron’s room.”
“Get Marius into his room right now and see if he can tell how old the scent is. I need to find Iris and tell her. She’s going to know better than any of us what he wants with Cameron.” Hermione said leveling her voice and staying as calm as possible in front of Haley. The motherly vampire was never a fighter, and she couldn’t deal well with stress when it came to the younger ones in the Hotel, especially the youngest Cameron.
“What can I do?” Haley asked desperately.
“It’s very important that you get the others out of here now. Go to the Reformers and tell them the favor is owed and stay there until I come. I don’t care how strong and fast he is Winston won’t make it to the heart of the Reformers headquarters I promise you.” Hermione said just as Draco walked up behind her and put a strong hand on her shoulder. Haley nodded once and disappeared down the long hallway after the others.
“He won’t hurt him,” Draco said and pulled Hermione into his chest.
“For once, Draco is right.” Isleen said coming into the room just as doubt began filling Hermione’s mind. “Cameron is the only pure vampire Black has been able to create here, and if he’s planning on making any sort of move, he’ll want him healthy and strong to take with him. Cameron is everything Black has been working for here for God’s sake.”
“We’ll find him, love.” Draco whispered into her neck and kissed her gently.
“Christian is angry that you have Haley forcing him to head to the Reformers. He overheard you just now. He wants to stay and fight, but I told him that you’re judgment is safest. I think you should talk to them all. They’re going to be afraid, Hermione. You’re the only one that is going to be able to pacify them right now, so they need to hear they’ll be safe from your mouth.” Isleen said.
“Collect them in the lobby and have them wait. I don’t want them to see me panicked, so give me a few minutes.” Hermione said and Isleen nodded and left. She turned quickly to her closet and began fishing out clothes from the masses dangling from hangers.
“You aren’t sending me to the Reformers, right?” Draco asked thinking about Christian being sent away from protecting the one he loves. He was already sent away once and it took eleven years to fight his way back, and he wasn’t strong enough to do it again.
“No, though I wish that I could.” Hermione said honestly and glanced momentarily at the ugly ink marring his arm. She pulled up her jeans and switched out her old beaten pajama shirt for a plain cotton long sleeve.
“And I wish that I could send you away to safety. This isn’t your battle you know. Isleen is plenty powerful enough to handle Black without you risking your neck.” Draco said bitterly and slowly began to change his clothes as well.
“Draco, this became my fight when <I>you</I> became the only way to kill him.” Hermione shot back at him angrily. “There is no other way to slice it. We’re in this fight and we can’t change that no matter how much we want to.” She murmured sadly. Draco reached out to hold her face, but she pulled away and went for the door.
“Hermione stop,” Draco demanded and her hand fell from the door knob. “It will all be over soon, and then we can finally get back to living our lives together. Don’t give up on me when we’re so close now. We survived the entire Second Wizarding War! We can get through this no problem.”
“I’m just so tired of battling all my life.” Hermione said softly. She felt so weak and useless without Isleen with her. All those years of blood and sweat just to prepare herself for anything that might come, and it was for nothing in a blink.
“I promise to you that this will be the last time. After this, we’re going to be living so quietly that you’ll be bored silly.” Draco said causing her to crack a smile. “Now, come on, you have a family to tend to.” He wrapped his hands over hers and gently led her from the room and down the hall.
Piles of luggage laid carelessly in front of the entrance doors. All the couches and chairs were filled with confused and anxious vampires watching the main staircase for any signs of movement. Hermione descended and kept her eyes close to the ground, not wanting to meet the expectant eyes she knew were waiting. She felt the tension thick in the air and finally looked up once she met the large rug in the lobby.
“There is so much that I wish I could tell you all about what is happening, but I know I could never lie just to ease your minds. The Rogue is Cameron’s sire, and he’s taken him from us. Marius, Isleen, Draco and I are going after him to rescue Cameron and to kill the Rogue. But, if we fail, he may come after all of you. So I’m sending you to stay with the Reformers until we return. At least there you will all be safe,” The annoyed grumblings drowned her voice out. Sam and Xavier looked outraged for never being offered to join the fight. Becky was shaking as her nerves took hold of her mind. Rori, Dean, and Haley murmured to each other in quick whispers, looking back and forth between the four fighters.
“Quiet!” Marius roared over the talk and all fell silent. “He is stronger than any of us, probably stronger than the four of us combined as is. There will be no more sacrifices made by our side. You will go to the headquarters, and you will stay there in safety.”
“But -” Sam barked, and Haley’s gentle hand on his arm settled him instantly. She nodded her head and he turned away from Marius.
“We’ll come back.” Isleen said determined and squeezed harder onto Christian’s hand. It had been centuries since she had something to fight for, and she wouldn’t allow herself to die now.
“Let’s go everyone, we must be quick.” Haley said to them all and ushered the quiet group like a mother duck towards the door. “Be careful.” She hugged each of them tightly and returned to the moving group. Christian leaned close to Isleen and whispered silently into her ear before kissing her passionately, as if he’d never see her again, or that’s what he feared most. Without another sound, the hotel emptied into the bustling night and Hermione let out a long sigh.
“Now is as good a time as ever then.” Isleen said raising an eyebrow to the others.
Isleen had figured out where to find Winston Black easy enough. It wasn’t as if he wished to stay hidden from them, he reveled in the fight and wanted it to be simple. Within only fifteen blocks of the Hotel, Marius caught his scent and the chase began too quickly. Hermione wasn’t able to find her thoughts, she could only let her muscles move her how she needed to be moved. She could hear Draco’s pounding heart beside her, but she focused ahead. If Draco looked worried or anything but confident, she knew her resolve would melt and the fight would end before it began.
“He’s close,” Marius whispered and suddenly bolted into a dark and empty church. They followed closely to him as he darted down the aisle. Each pew was hidden in black darkness, causing the hairs over Draco’s neck to stand on end. The entire place smelled of Winston, it was hard to pinpoint where he actually was. The four split off and moved through the aisles alone.
“Cameron is through here!” Hermione hissed and pushed quickly through the door to her right. The others were at the far corners of the hall, taking a split second to chase after her. Hermione raced down the narrow corridor that was quickly lighting up from the brightness at the end. She broke out into a decent sized study, lit magnificently by a roaring fire and bright overhead chandeliers.
“I knew you would miss me.” The smooth voice of Winston swept over her shoulders. She spun around quickly and faced him with all emotion wiped from her stone face.
“Where is Cameron?” Hermione ground out. She could smell him so clearly and yet found nothing else of him in the room.
“He’s safe in the parish private quarters. You see, he was taken from me and I just can’t bear to see that happen again, so please do not push your luck.” Winston said calmly, but his voice carried a sharp threat.
“He belongs with us.” Hermione said sternly.
“No,” Winston growled and rounded on Hermione. “He is my creation. And you disgust me for believing that you are better than being mine as well.” He took a long draw of air and smiled wickedly. “I can smell the expulsion of that parasite from you so clearly. You are one of the greats once more, my love. And I am so delighted that you’ve come home to me.” The echo of footsteps sounded from the narrow corridor and Hermione caught the dangerous glint in his eyes as Draco’s smell leaked into the room.
“Don’t touch him.” Hermione threatened causing Winston to laugh.
“Stop me.” He hissed as Draco, Isleen, and Marius rushed into the room.
“Draco, run!” Hermione screamed and jumped forward after Winston. She grabbed onto the top of his arm and ripped him backwards against the far wall. In a flash, she planted herself firmly between Draco and the angered vampire only meters before her.
“You dare fight me?” Winston asked with shocked aggression.
“We all do,” Marius corrected with a vicious smile. With a low guttural growl, Winston picked up a large antique chair and launched it directly at Hermione. She quickly turned and covered her head as the chair shattered into pieces over her back. The shards of wood landed all around her, and she looked up to check for Draco, but tight fingers wrapped around her throat from behind.
“You are all too young to have learned that humans are only distractions that will one day get you killed.” Winston closed his fingers over her throat.
“She’s not the one you want to fight, Black. Deep down, you know that you’ve been itching to finish what was started centuries ago.” Isleen shouted forcing his attention on herself. The instant his eyes left Hermione, Draco pulled out his wand and quickly cast the spell to pull the magic of the tattoo into himself. His eyes darkened and he could feel the warm magic surging through his veins.
“Ah, Isleen you always were right about me. She isn’t the one I want to waste my energy on.” Winston said smirking wildly. He jerked Hermione into his chest and pushed a stray strand of hair away from her neck. Before Isleen realized what was happening, Winston bit down onto Hermione’s neck and she screamed out as the potent venom leaked into her body. Draco lunged forward and collided himself into Winston, knocking Hermione away from his grasp.
“Hermione, are you alright?” Marius asked kneeling down to her. She faintly nodded and turned to see Draco get slammed into a desk. Isleen was on top of Winston inside of an instant, struggling desperately to pin him still. Marius knew there was only one way to sufficiently immobilize Winston, but it was a trap. He was the only vampire in the room that wouldn’t lose something. Draco was helping Isleen hold him down, but he couldn’t perform the implanting spell with both hands occupied in fighting the flailing limbs. “Live your life as it is meant to be lived.” Marius said down to Hermione and smiled softly to her before standing and moving towards the struggle.
“Marius, what the hell are you doing?” Isleen barked as the old vampire knelt down and placed a gentle hand over Winston’s shoulder. “Fucking hold him with me!” She shouted when he shut his eyes. Winston suddenly began laughing maniacally to himself.
“Just hold him and we can finish this!” Draco said frantically. Swiftly, Marius sunk his teeth deep into Winston’s shoulder causing his muscles to tighten and spasm. Isleen stared down at the sedated vampire below her.
“Draco, quickly, do it.” Isleen directed and Draco performed his instructed spell. The blackness from his eyes flooded away from him and raced into Winston’s chest. Marius lurched backwards and fell still on the floor next to Winston. Isleen slowly stood and watched silently as the blackness leaked into every inch of his body, burning and destroying everything in its path.
“Hermione, please wake up,” Draco whispered and held her face in his hands. “Oh, fuck she won’t stop bleeding. Isleen, help me!” Draco shouted and turned for the girl. Winston was jerking on the floor, blood pooling from his mouth and Isleen just watched as his body fought against the poisonous spell. “Isleen!” Draco screamed and snapped her back to reality. She turned and noticed the massive gash in Hermione’s neck and her body immediately began working again. In a single swift movement, she had a piece of cloth torn from her shirt and drenched it in Winston’s blood.
“Move away from her.” Isleen said quietly and dipped her finger into the blood dripping from her neck and smelled it. “His venom is deadly to other vampires. You have to drain the venom from the wound before it works into her system or she’ll never survive.”
“What about Marius?” Draco asked looking at the eldest vampire still unconscious on the floor next to the now lifeless and burning black body of Winston.
“We can’t help him, he drank from the Source.” Isleen said and dropped to the floor next to him. “If you would have just helped me hold him down we would have been fine you idiot!” She screamed in anguish and pounded hard on his chest. Draco spit out a glob of blood from the bite mark and noticed as Hermione’s eyes began moving rapidly under her lids.
“I think she’s coming to.” Draco said and Isleen took a long breath of air.
“She’ll be -”
“Where’s Marius?” Hermione jolted up and looked around. “What happened?”
“Black is dead, Draco was able to implant the spell into him. But, Marius drank from him to immobilize him.” Isleen explained sadly and rubbed Marius’ face. Wrinkles were travelling out over his skin from his eyes and mouth. He was aging quickly right before their eyes. Hermione went silent and just watched as Marius aged to dust. “I don’t know why he didn’t just help me hold Black. He didn’t have to be the god damn hero!”
“Isleen, I don’t understand.” Hermione whispered through her hands. The man that had taken care of her like a father for so many years was suddenly gone, right before her eyes.
“Black is the Source vampire, and any vampire that drinks from him is cured. But cures aren’t so fairytale nice. Without the virus, the body ages to how old it would naturally be. Marius was centuries old…” Isleen couldn’t finish. She turned away from the two dead piles and closed her eyes tightly.
“He had to have known what he was doing. Marius was too smart to be impulsive.” Draco said, but neither listened to him. Isleen looked over at Hermione and held out her hand with a bloodied cloth in her fingers.
“Here, it’s the only bit of Winston’s blood left.” Isleen said gently giving her a knowing look. “You could leave this terrible world and go back to England where your family and friends are.” Hermione glanced over at Draco and caught his eyes. He was smiling softly at her, understanding that this was only her decision.
“What if you don’t like me old?” Hermione asked sheepishly and chewed her lip.
“Twenty-nine is far from old, love.” Draco laughed. Hermione slowly took the soaked cloth and gave Draco a last single look.
“I promise that it won’t hurt.” Isleen said encouragingly and Hermione lifted the cloth to her mouth and squeezed out the blood. The taste was heavy and bitter, but she forced herself to swallow. Her body felt as though it was buzzing and floating on water. She tipped forward and Draco easily caught her and pulled her up into his chest.
“Is she going to be ok?” Draco asked frantically and lifted Hermione’s unconscious form into his arms.
“Give her some time, she’ll be alright.” Isleen said with a slight smile. She bent down and pulled out a ring from the pile of ash. “Marius’ wedding band. I don’t want to leave it behind. We need something for everyone to remember him by. Get her out of this awful place and back to the Hotel. I’ll find Cameron myself.” Isleen instructed and headed out of the study, further into the basement of the church.
Draco paced fervently past the open window. He continually glanced over to the bed where Hermione was sleeping contently. It had already been an hour and she had yet to wake. Her body had changed during her rest and he wondered how she would react when she finally woke. Would she remember what happened these past eleven years? Would she remember him? She had only ever loved him as a vampire, and without that side of her, he feared her love would fade from him. He had no idea what was wrapped up in the virus that she had killed inside herself. Though he knew that no matter what happened when she woke up, he’d love her as always. The bed creaked as Hermione tossed in her sleep and he held his breath as she stretched her arms forward and clung onto the sheets. Her brows wrinkled and the sleepy smile fell into a frown. Draco walked over to the bed and crawled slowly in next to her and let her arms wrap tightly around him.
“Hermione?” Draco whispered lightly and her eyes blinked open. She gazed up at him with confused eyes and suddenly all his fears enveloped him.
“Draco,” Hermione said slowly and pulled away from him with what looked like fear. She jumped from the bed and rushed over to the tall vanity mirror on the other side of the suite. Her hands shot up to her mouth and tears filled her eyes. She touched her reflection and let out a choked sob. “I’m not dreaming.”
“No,” Draco said shaking his head and came up behind her. “Isleen said that it would be a big shock at first.”
“I can’t believe it. I finally have my life back.” She said sobbing and turned quickly to face him. “Do you still love me as a human?” She said with a strangled laugh.
“I would love you as a troll, Hermione Granger.”
“Though I’m sure you prefer this.” She added. He pulled her roughly into his chest and wrapped his fingers into her hair. He breathed in her scent and let the feeling of her wash through him. “I’m so happy. I love you Draco.” She snaked her arms around his neck and pulled him down to her. She kissed him with every emotion she could find inside herself and still felt like she needed to give him more. He pushed back and smiled through his rough breathes.
“There’s something else...” He drawled and tapped the small of her back. She turned and looked into the mirror and saw the tiny black box pressed against her back in his hand.
“Draco,” She swung back in his arms and smiled through her tears as he pulled away and dropped to one knee. Her entire world melted around her and all that was left was Draco’s shining face and the beautiful diamond band sparkling in its white casing.
Author's Note: I know that this took forever, but finally the sequel to Secret Lusts is finished! It was a long and tiresome journey, and I want to thank all the readers that have stuck with me all these years since I first started Secret Lusts, and all the way through to the end with A Vampire's Lament. Thank you all!!