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Chapter 2 : Pity Parties can be deadly.
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A/U: A huge thank you to my Beta Broken Butterfly. Thank you to those who have taken the time to write a review on my story. The reviews have been immensely helpful. Enjoy and keep reviewing please.
Beautiful chapter image by randompotterink@TDA
Chapter 2: Pity Parties can be deadly
Monday, 23 days till Halloween
Professor Keene lay in his hospital bed, a jumbled of emotions bouncing inside of him. He was frustrated with being stuck in a hospital bed. His left leg was in a cast that went up past his knee, was being suspended in a sling, and his left arm was also in a cast. The doctors had said that it would be another two days before he would be allowed to leave the hospital and even then; it would be under strict orders.
He had fractured his leg in four places, cracked a bone in his forearm, and suffered from a minor head injury. Personally, the professor felt that his injuries were not as bad as the doctors seemed to say they were. He figured that they just wanted to keep him in the hospital as long as possible so that they could charge him more money.
It didn’t help matters that he was anxious to get his recent purchase out of his office at the university. He was worried that someone would notice the crate in his office and either report him to the Dean for an unauthorized delivery, or that someone would decide to steal it.
The professor was also scared that by some meager chance the authorities would find out that the crate contained an illegally obtained black market artifact and would end up confiscating it.
At the same time, Keene was itching to be able to lay eyes on his lovely treasure, to be able to get a closer look at those mysterious cravings around the edgings and to start deciphering their meaning.
Out of boredom and anticipation, Keene had already called his assistant, Hermione Granger, to have her grab a few books out of his office and bring them to him as soon as she could. The way he figured it, if he was to be stuck in this hospital bed he might as well try to get a head start on researching the origins of his newly purchased antique mirror.
While he waited for his assistant to arrive, Keene decided to catch a quick nap. Just as he was closing his eyes, he heard the door to his hospital room open. Looking up Keene expected to see either one of his nurses, since his doctor had already been by a few minutes ago, but to his surprise his visitor was a young blonde man.
“Are you Professor James Keene?” the mysterious young man asked walking further into the room.
“Yes,” Keene answered puzzled as to what this young man might want with him.
“Did you recently purchase a large antique mirror?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about?” Keene was now getting worried that this young man might be with the authorities.
Had they already found out about him purchasing the mirror on the black market?
“I think you know exactly what I am talking about,” the young man coldly said moving another step closer to Keene, while pulling something Keene couldn’t see out of his pocket.
Before Keene had the chance to respond the stranger shot him with a stunner spell. The stranger then made sure that all the hospital equipment was turned off and wouldn’t be able to alert any of the hospital staff to what was going on in the room.
Since Auror’s could track deaths caused by the killing spell, Salazar had ordered that all murders be accomplished by muggle means. Grabbing the pillow from behind the Professors head, the stranger placed it over Keene’s head.
Once he was sure that the job was done, the stranger pulled out a cell phone from his pocket.
“Let the boss man know that the professor has been taken care of. I am heading to the university to deal with the girl and get the mirror now.”
It was late Monday evening when Hermione found herself heading back to Professor Keene’s office. Right after she got out of her last class, Hermione had noticed that the professor had left her two voice messages.
She had been pleased to find that the first message only contained a list of items and books that the professor needed for her to get from his office and bring to him as soon as possible to the hospital. However, that feeling turned into mild annoyance upon hearing that the second message was that he wanted her to do all the grading for his classes.
“One hundred twenty papers to grade,” Hermione muttered to herself, while wondering how long she could put off grading them, so that she could finish grading her own class’s papers first.
Approaching the door, she shifted the load of papers she was carrying so that she could unlock the door, and walk into the room; a part of her noted that something didn’t seem quite right, but she was too engrossed in her own private pity party to give it even a second thought.
Had she not been muttering to herself about the huge stack of papers that she now had to grade because Keene didn’t trust Matt to grade them correctly, she might have noticed that she had locked and then unlocked the door again before entering the office. Maybe if she had noticed then she would have closed it again, locking it for real this time, and walked away.
Nudging the door open with her hip, Hermione pushed her way inside the office, leaving the door ajar behind her. She didn’t bother turning on the light, partly due to the fact that she was the one who had organized the office, so she already knew where to find the books that the Professor wanted, and partly because she was determined not to get distracted by the mirror, and the slow, relentless burn of questions that it ignited within her mind.
Hermione immediately made her way over to the desk and placed her burden of papers and her wand down next to the computer screen before heading over to the book shelves on the opposite wall. She’d made peace with that weird trick of the eye she had suffered from on Friday night, it was nothing more than a product of her over active imagination, low lighting, and extreme exhaustion.
Hermione refused to believe that she had really seen a half-naked man within the mirror. Considering all that she already knew about magic and everything that she still had yet to learn, Hermione knew that there was a possibility that the mirror might really be more than what it seemed.
The whole thing was driving her crazy with fascination. There had been quite a few times over the weekend where she had to force herself not to head back to the office just so that she could get another look at the mirror. The mysterious symbols on the mirror had really caught her attention.
Hermione had a thing for languages and even though, some of the symbols on the mirror seemed so familiar, at the same time they seemed so wrong, and she knew herself well enough to know that taking another look at the mirror would not be a good idea.
If she let herself give in to the temptation of the mirror, it wouldn’t take much for her to get so caught up in the mystery of the symbols that she would end up blowing a whole night searching through every book she could get her hands on until she was able to solve the mystery.
For now, Hermione mused; her curiosity would have to be left unsatisfied. Reaching up to grab a thick volume from the upper shelf, Hermione heard a soft click of the door closing behind her. She froze mid reach listening to the room around her, but after hearing nothing else, she figured it had just been a draft and continued on.
"The mirror,” a smooth faintly accented voice murmured from behind her.
Gasping, Hermione turned around so fast that the book she was reaching for went flying out of her hand, hitting the wall before sliding down the wall. Across the office, in the dim light afforded by the computer, she could just make out the silhouette of a man leaning back against the door, arms folded across his chest.
“I didn’t realize anyone else was still in the building. Are you looking for Professor Keene?” she asked.
With a hint of a grin the young man flipped on the lights. He was tall, well-built and extremely attractive young man. His blonde hair, dark expensive tailored suit, crisp shirt and tasteful tie reminded her of a young man she once went to Hogwarts with.
I wonder if he’s related to Malfoy, she briefly considered.
“The professor and I have already had our time together this evening.” He replied with a hint of a smirk as he stepped away from the door, moving deeper into the office.
“Are you the only one that has seen the mirror? Have any cleaning crews been in the office since it arrived Friday evening or anyone else with a key to the office?” he continued.
Hermione frowned, perplexed by the direction of his questions. That’s when she felt it, a kind of menace rolling off him. She hadn’t picked up on it right away due to her own brooding and his good looks.
Mentally cursing herself for leaving her wand on the desk, and suddenly the tiny niggling detail that had eluded her when she turned the key in the door rushed up to the front of her mind: The door had been unlocked! He must have been inside the office, concealing himself behind the door when she’d pushed it open!
Keep him talking, she thought, fighting the panic that was trying to bubble over inside her. She drew a careful breath, adrenaline kicking in, upping her heart rate, making her hands and legs feel shaky and unbalanced.
She concentrated on showing no sign that she knew the danger she was in. Knowing from experience how much the element of surprise could be a great advantage. She just had to get her hands on her wand before he figured out she was on to him.
“So how old is the mirror, anyway?” she asked, donning her best wide eyed ditzy girl look that she could muster.
He moved again. A few more steps and he would be past he desk. She slowly eased a bit to the right.
It seemed he was pondering whether or not to answer her for a moment, then he shrugged be, “You would probably place it in the third century.”
No way, Hermione thought he had to be kidding, there was no way in the world it was that old, she knew for a fact that the symbols on it were some form of writing and the earliest forms of writing dated only as far back as the fourth century.
“I am not that stupid,” she said laughing mockingly at him.
For a split second she considered screaming but she was nearly certain that there was no one else in the North wing this late at night that would hear her, and suspected it would be wiser to conserve her energy to defend herself with.
“However, for arguments sake,” she continued inching slowly closer to the desk. “Let’s just say that I go with this for a minute. You’re claiming the frame is from the third century, with the cravings added later, and the mirror inserted within the last century or so, Right?”
“No. The entire piece in sum is from the third century. However you have no need to worry about it any longer Hermione Jean Granger, I’ll make this quick. You’ll hardly feel a thing.” His smile was terrifyingly gentle.
“Bloody Hell!!” Hermione yelled lunging for her wand at the same moment he lunged for her.
When fighting for one’s life events have a funny way of slowing down, even though one knew the events were really rushing towards one another with all the velocity and surety of a high powered rocket.
Hermione noted every detail as the stranger lunged for her, the way his legs were bent, as if coiling inwards to spring forward, one hand reaching into his pocket pulling out his wand, eyes cold, face hard, and how his nostrils flared with a kind of sexual excitement.
His lips curled mockingly, and in that sharp edged smile. She was aware of her own body in a similar fashion. Though her heart raced and her breath came in hurried gasps, her legs felt like lead and the few feet that she managed seemed to take forever.
She just barely made it to the desk, snatching up her wand, casting a quick stunner spell over her shoulder as she ducked behind the desk for cover. At the opposite side of the desk Hermione chanced a glance to see whether or not her spell had hit the man or not.
She noted that the spell had missed. It was obvious that the man was quicker and more experienced than she was. It would only be a matter of time before he would be able to catch her, especially within the space of the office.
As he closed in on her, the silvery glint of the mirror caught her eye. Of course, the mirror, she thought to herself, the highly breakable mirror. Jumping to her feet, Hermione whirled around quickly casting the wingardium leviosa spell towards the mirror causing it to rise into the air.
“Stop right there!” she yelled.
The way she figured it if he was going to kill her, she had nothing to lose by smashing the object that he was obviously sent for into a gazillion silvery little pieces, no matter that her inner historian violently protested against it.
The stranger stopped so abruptly that he should have fallen flat on his face, which spoke volumes about how much lethal muscle was hidden behind his lean frame and expensive suit.
“One more step and I will smash this mirror to smithereens and remember that if you curse me while I hold this mirror up that the spell will be released and it will still be smashed.”
Was that the sound of a sharply indrawn breath behind her? Followed by a muttered curse?
No way, it can’t be, but then again maybe what she saw in the mirror Friday night wasn’t just a figment of my imagination, Hermione thought forcing herself not to turn around to find out, to not take her eyes off her attacker for even a moment.
A muscle worked in his jaw. His gaze skidded between her and the mirror and back again. He tensed as if to shoot a spell at her.
“Don’t even think about it,” she warned. “I’m serious.”
She shifted her grip on her wand causing the mirror to drop towards the floor before stopping it just an inch from the floor and bringing it back up again.
“Impasse,” he murmured. “Interesting, you have more spirit than I thought you would.”
“If ye wish to live lass,” came the deep rich purr of a brogue behind her, “then you best summon me out now.”
A chill shuddered through her entire body, and the baby fine hair at the nape of her neck stood up, quivering on end.
“Shut the hell up,” her assailant growled, his gaze fixed just a bit over her shoulder, “or I’ll smash you myself.”
Dark mocking laughter rolled behind her.
“Ye wouldn’t dare and well you ken it, ‘tis why you’ve not hexed her. Salazar sent ye with precise instructions. Bring it back, intact, nay? The mere possibility that the mirror might be shattered into a million pieces makes your blood ice.”
“What? No way…,” Hermione whispered under her breathe.
Her instincts told her that there was something, someone, some caged power behind her. She could feel the heat being thrown off like a forge at her back.
At the same time she could sense the blond man’s tightly leashed fury, knew if he thought that even for a split second that she might not smash the mirror to pieces she was dead. She was afraid to so much as blink, a split second decision needed to be made and she only hoped it was the right one.
"Fine what do I have to loose, how do I summon you out?” Hermione asked figuring what the hell, maybe this was just one big dream and she would wake up any minute now.
“Doona turn, woman. Keep your eyes on him and speak after me,-“
“No don’t do it! He will kill you and far more brutally than I,” the blond man smiled coldly with a shiver.
“Nay, he will kill you, lass,” rolled the deep Scots burr behind her, “and you ken it. Ye donna ken the same of me. Sure death or a mayhap death, tis a simple choice.”
“Oh, now that’s real reassuring,” Hermione retorted.
“I’ve no means to convince ye to trust me. Ye must hang your bonnet on faith. Him. Or me. Choose. Now, repeat this: Lialth bree che bree, Godric Gryffindor, drachme se-sidh!”
Hermione echoed the strange words without missing a beat the moment she heard them. She ended up saying them twice just for good measure. Suddenly a brilliant golden light flashed, the heat behind her increasing, and the room began to feel as if it was suddenly too small for all that was in it to fit. Strong hands closed on her waist from behind lifting her from the floor and sweeping her to the side.
She glanced up, lowering her wand and softly setting the mirror down on the floor, at the towering gorgeous muscle ripped man from her fantasies standing in front of her shielding her with his body. His long dark hair a tangle of dozens of braids bound with gold silver and copper beads, falling halfway down his oh so bare velvet skinned back.
“Protect the mirror woman,” he hissed
“Woman, who are you calling woman?!” Hermione shouted at the stranger, but it was not heard for in two strides he was out the door after her assailant slamming the door shut behind him.
With a shake of her head, Hermione gathered her courage and chased after the two men. They were fast and she had a hard time keeping up with them as she raced down the hallway towards the main doors. Pushing the doors open, Hermione ran out into the court yard and looked around for the two men.
It was a moonless night, but not dark; there was enough light reflecting from the clouds and coming for the building lights for her to be able to see quite well once her eyes adjusted. She ran across the courtyard, searching the shadows for any sign that the strangers had passed that way. Stopping to catch her breath, she watched and listened.
There was no breeze tonight, making it harder for her to pick out the sounds of campus night. After a considerable length of time had passed, it was obvious to her that she had lost the men.
Hermione was just about to give up and head back to the office for her things, when a scream echoed through the night. Racing towards the sound of the screaming, Hermione literally stumbled across the body of the blonde man lying in the middle of the walkway towards the east parking lot.
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