It took Hermione nearly an hour to find her way back to the SUV, or rather back to where the vehicle had been in her other life, the one in which her possibilities for survival hadn’t looked quite so grim.
When they’d stormed from the diner earlier, Godric had swiftly rearranged the mirror to his satisfaction, then he’d turned and loped down the streets at such a furious pace that it had been all she could do to keep up with him.
She’d hardly glanced left or right, and hadn’t paid any attention to where they were going, nor had she even bothered trying to gather the breath to talk to him, until they’d finally stopped at the clothing store. Ergo, she’d not realized how far he’d taken her, evading his descendant, until she’d attempted to retrace her steps through the unfamiliar Scottish streets.
Then because she’d been watching for the SUV, not the store, she’d actually sprinted past the diner twice before realizing their rental vehicle was no longer there. She glanced farther down the street, thinking perhaps that she had just forgotten exactly where she’d parked it on the cobbled avenue. Nope, not a single black SUV on either side of the street.
How bad could one person’s luck get?
“Don’t answer that,” she snapped at herself hastily. “That was a purely rhetorical question, not a show me proof one.”
She was beginning to suffer the paranoid suspicion that the Universe was using her as the butt of a series of perverse jokes.
The whole time she’d been winding down street after street, she’d been damming a rising tidal wave of panic, assuring herself that everything was going to be just fine, that this was only a minor setback, that Godric had just been sucked back into the mirror earlier than either of them had expected, and that Harry was only a patronus message away so she need not worry.
Once she got back to the SUV she would see that she was just overreacting and she would proceed to drive the two of them to Hogwarts castle without delay.
That wasn’t to say that she hadn’t been pissed when he’d vanished because she had. She’d left her purse inside her backpack in the SUV, figuring she wouldn’t need it because Godric was bound to Voice whatever she wanted, and her fifty dollars certainly wasn’t going to very far.
Then, when he’d so abruptly disappeared, she’d stood in the clothing store with a cart of freshly picked out items realizing that she was going to have to leave them behind, because she didn’t have even a few dollars stuffed in a pocket somewhere.
She had been so annoyed by having to wear the same clothes for more than two days in a row, even if she had magically cleaned them, that she had considered shoplifting at least a pair of jeans. Thinking back on the incident she was appalled to realize that it had not been a stab of conscience that had prevented her from embarking on a larcenous spree, but fear of being caught, because then what would happen to Godric?
Harry could more than likely get her out of trouble, but during that time she couldn’t be sure that Salazar’s men wouldn’t end up finding Godric and taking him.
With that worry foremost in her mind, she had left the store and dashed off to find him, only to find this great big empty parking space.
Where was he? Did Salazar’s men get him?
She slumped down onto the curb and perched on the edge of it, propping her elbows on her knees, her chin on her fists. She just couldn’t let herself believe that Salazar had found them so quickly. If he had, wouldn’t she be dead? Wouldn’t there be an assassin attacking her right now?
She glanced hastily, warily around. No one was staring at her or moving toward her in a menacing manner. That left only two other possibilities that she could think of: 1) a thief had stolen their auto, which in addition to pushing the limits of the absurd, sucked because, for the life of her, she couldn’t see a way she was going to be able to track down a thief even with Harry’s help.
Two she had somehow violated some village law and the local muggle police had impounded it, which just seemed to improbable to her mind to have happened.
Deciding that she couldn’t just sit there on the curb waiting for the SUV to suddenly reappear, she checked to make sure no one was watching and sent a quick patronus to Harry with a small summary of what had happened and where she was.
His answer came to her three minutes later telling her to stay put, that he was currently in an Auror meeting and wouldn’t be able to get there until after it was over.
She assumed she could have just gone ahead up to the castle without him or Godric, but she couldn’t bring herself to do so. Standing up from the curb with a sigh, she went back into the diner in order to wait for Harry.
Dageus grimaced as he tugged the Dark Glass from the back of the SUV. Although he had no desire to make contact with it, he wanted it in the castle proper, the most heavily warded portion of the estate. It will be safest there, and he hoped mayhap those wards would diminish the pull it was exerting on him.
There was no protection spells laid around the vast, detached garage behind the castle, where he’d parked the purloined SUV. It was too new of a building, and one of which he’d not overseen the construction.
He intended to properly ward it soon, for he hoped to make use of it. He was developing quite a liking for modern modes of transportation since marrying his muggleborn wife. They were far easier on a man’s privates than a broom betwixt the thighs.
He was already sorry he’d left his Hummer down in the village. The muscle packed Hummer was the first vehicle he’d purchased after getting home from his honeymoon, and it was a truly magnificent machine. A man could go virtually anywhere in the rugged Highlands in it.
He’d gotten attached to it in the manner a lad did his very first racing broom. He hoped that his barbaric ancestor was a responsible driver.
“Arrogant Neanderthal,” Dageus muttered, standing the mirror up on end, at arm’s length, and taking a good look at it.
He inhaled a sharp, fascinated breath. The legendary Dark Glass was in his hands, it was astonishing. He traced his fingers lightly over the cool silvery surface, and then across the runes chiseled deep into the golden frame noting the chill it caused to go down his spine.
Not even the thirteen dark wizards that had once possessed him knew the language with which the frame was adorned. It was said that the great Faery court had created the mirror into existence by the sheer magic of their tongue. It was a language allegedly forgotten by all but the most ancient and honored among the faery.
The chill was inching up his arms. It was not an entirely unpleasant sensation; in fact it was strangely invigorating and made him feel powerful. That was not good, legends say that the mirror entices those of pure power in order to imprison them.
Scowling, he turned, hurrying with it from the garage. The moment he stepped from the cool, windowless interior into the brilliant sunshine, he felt better, stronger. Still, he wasn’t about to dally with the infernal thing in his hands.
Tucking the glass beneath his arm with the silvery side facing him so as not to blind anyone who might be looking his way, he walked around the castle and began heading across the front lawn.
“Ye bloody frecking idiot!!!” the mirror roared. “Have ye any idea what you’ve gone and done?!!”
Dageus was so startled by the bizarreness of the Dark Glass roaring at him that he did what most men would have done.
He dropped it.
“Pick me up, you ham fisted oaf. The bloody frigging sun is blinding me,” the mirror snarled.
Dageus blinked down at the glass. It was lying face up on the lawn and was stuffed night to bursting with an enraged Godric Gryffindor.
One of his ancestor’s hands was braced at the side of the mirror on the inside of the glass, the blade of his other hand to his forehead as if shielding his narrowed eyes from a glare. For a long moment, Dageus simply couldn’t find any words with which to form a sentence.
Then, “What in Merlin’s beard are you doing in there, kinsman?” he managed blankly.
There was a man inside a mirror. His relative, his ancient relative, and there he had thought he had seen it all, but he had never seen anything like this.
“Sun is blinding me. Pick me up,” his ancestor snapped.
Dageus glanced up and noted that the sun was directly above him. He glanced back down. Mystified, he bent and stood the glass up on end, facing him. He handled it gingerly, trying not to touch much of it, because his grip was no firm, it slipped from his fingers and nearly went right back down again. He scarce managed to catch it in time.
“Be careful!” his ancestor hissed. “Tis made of glass, sort of, in an odd sense of the word. Are you always so clumsy?”
Dageus stiffened. “Are you always such a foul tempered arse? You’ve the manners of a blethering Lowlander. Tis no wonder you’ve such a bad reputation within the family.”
“I’ve a bad…,” his ancestor broke off, raising his hands as if to ward off further talk on that topic. “Forget it. I donna wish to ken what they say about me in the family records.” He glanced around the lawn. “Where have ye taken me?”
“Castle Gryffin.” Dageus thought a moment, and then added, “It was built not long after the original Gryffindor Castle was converted into Hogwarts.”
A muscle worked in his kinsman’s jaw. “And how far would this second Castle Gryffin be from the village you took me from?”
Dageus shrugged. “Twenty minutes or so.”
“Let me guess, ye interfering barbarian, for some reason ye decided to take my vehicle?” the mirror snapped.
“I’m a barbarian? Look who’s talking,” Dageus said indignantly.
“Ye bloody fool, ye will go back down there and get my woman, NOW!”
“Your woman, do you mean the lass in the diner?”
Dageus shook his head slowly. This was leverage he could use to get answers.
“Nay, not until you tell me what’s going on, and explain yourself to my brother. What are you doing in the mirror? I ken full well what it is. ‘Tis the Dark Glass, an ancient faery relic, and one that no Gryffindor should be dealing with. How are you using it”
His kinsman pounded his fists on the inside of the mirror, actually rattling it in the ornate frame.
“Go get my woman! Ye have left her unprotected, you idiot!”
“Nay, not till you answer my questions,” Dageus said flatly.
“Not a word until she is here,” Godric said just as flatly.
They glared at each other at an impasse.
A sudden thought occurred to Dageus. Why wasn’t his temperamental, formidably gifted ancestor bursting forth from the glass and going after his woman himself? What could stop a wizard as legendary as Godric Gryffindor?
“You’re stuck in there aren’t you?” he exclaimed.
“What gave ye that thought? Ye think I’d be sitting in here twiddling my thumbs if I could do something? Go get my woman!”
“But you were out earlier. How?”
“You said you had a woman of your own,” his ancestor cut him off roughly. “How would ye feel if she had been left by herself in the middle of a village she has not been in before, and there were trained assassins hunting her? My woman may be a witch in her own right, but she is still in danger. Ye must go after her, man! Then I will tell ye aught ye wish to ken!”
A fist closed around Dageus’s heart at the thought of Jenna in such a situation. He’d seen her in danger before and it had damn near killed him. A man’s woman took priority over everything else. Questions could wait. The care and well being of loved ones could never be deferred.
“Och, blethering hell, I didn’t know. I’ll go get your woman,” he said instantly.
Tucking the mirror beneath his arm again, he hastened with it toward the castle.
Few moments before inside the castle:
Drustan lay flat on his back, his arm around his wife. It was high noon and he was still in bed, which wasn’t to stay he was a lazy man and hadn’t yet been up that morning. He’d been up, but when his wife kidnapped him when he came in to clean up, who was he to say no.
“That was amazing,” his wife said fervently just then, curling closer into his side, one of her small dainty hands caressing his lightly stubbled jaw. He turned his head slightly and kissed her palm.
“I love to serve you my dear.”
She laughed. “I love you, my loving husband.”
“I love you, woman,” he said fiercely, recalling their first time. It was a night he’d never forget, not a detail of it even after he was a hundred years old.
Gwendolyn Cassidy was his soul mate, they were bound in the ancient way, forever and beyond, and every moment of life with her was priceless. She’d enriched his world in so many ways, not the least of which had been the recent gift of two beautiful dark haired twin daughters who, at scarce five months of age, were already showing a rather startling signs of intelligence.
Of course why shouldn’t they, he thought proudly, between his wizard gifts and his wee Gwendolyn’s brilliant physicist’s mind?
On the topic of their babes…
“Think you we should…”
“Yes,” she agreed instantly. “I’m missing them too, even though it has just been three hours since I last saw them.”
He smiled. Although they had only been married a little over a year now, they knew each other’s mind and heart as well as their own. Even though they had the best of care for their daughters with two live in nannies, they were reluctant to be parted from them for long.
When she peeled herself from his side and moved toward the shower, he rose to join her, but as he passed the tall windows of their bedchamber, a flicker of motion beyond them caught his eye.
He paused, glancing out. His brother was standing out on the lawn, gazing down at the grass. Blinking, he looked closer at his brother from the window to see him conversing with a mirror. What in the world was his brother doing standing in the middle of the front lawn, holding it gingerly by the sides, and speaking heatedly to it?
Drustan rubbed his jaw, perplexed. He leaned against the windowpane to get a better look. Where had the mirror come from?
It hadn’t been there moments ago. It was taller than his brother and wider too. It was hardly as if Dageus might have been concealing it in a pocket. That kind of mirror would not have done well with a shrinking and enlarging spell.
How could he have overlooked it earlier? Mayhap, he decided, it had been lying on the ground, and Dageus had picked it up. Nay, why would a mirror be lying about on the front lawn? They had a grounds keeper that would surely have noticed such a thing lying about and brought it to their attention.
He was getting a bad feeling about this.
“Are you coming, love?” Gwendolyn called.
He heard the sound of the shower spray change as she stepped beneath it. Below him, Dageus was now shaking a fist and shouting at the mirror. Drustan closed his eyes. After a long moment, he opened them again and cast a longing glance in the direction of the running shower.
He glared out the window with a gusty sigh.
“I donna think so, love. I’m sorry,” he called, “but ‘twould seem Dageus is, for some unfathomable reason, having a heated discourse with a looking glass out on our front lawn.”
“Dageus is doing what with a heated horse and a looking glass?” Gwen exclaimed from the shower.
He sighed again. “He’s talking to a mirror,” he called much more loudly. “I must go discover why.”
“We’re going the wrong way!” the mirror shouted for the third time, as Dageus walked up the front steps and entered the castle.
“Nay, we’re not. I told you, I’m not taking you with me,” Dageus said flatly. “I will find your woman far more quickly if I donna have to be worrying about breaking you. I know what she looks like. I will find her, I vow it.”
Tossing his head back, he bellowed, “Drustan!” with enough volume to rattle the eaves.
“Merlin, Dageus, I’m right above you,” his brother replied, wincing. “There’s no need to go shouting the walls down. You will scare the twins.”
Dageus glanced up. His twin was standing at the balustrade that over looked the great hall entrance, gazing down.
“How was I to know that? Why are you standing there, Drustan?”
“Why are you talking to a mirror, Dageus?” Drustan said very, very quietly.
“I said ‘wait for me’!” Gwen cried at that moment, from somewhere down the corridor behind his brother.
Dageus shook his head. He had no time for explanations. The woman’s name, Godric has told him as they had crossed the lawn, was one that he had heard before. Hermione Granger was known to have fought in the war against Voldemort and she was currently in danger. He had to go, now.
Propping the mirror against the wall near the door, he waved a hand at it and clipped, “Drustan: Godric Gryffindor. Godric: Drustan Gryffin.”
“Dageus,” Drustan’s voice was soft as velvet, never a good sign, “why are you introducing me to a mirror?”
“Look in the mirror, Drustan,” Dageus said impatiently, angling it a bit so he could see into it from above.
His brother’s jaw dropped.
“I donna believe he can get out, Drustan, so he shouldn’t present a danger. However, you may wish to store him away from women and children until we know more.”
The mirror growled, “Away from women and children? I have never been a threat to women and children. Why would I create a school from my own castle if I was, ye lummox?!”
“Fine. Why donna you try explaining things to my brother while I am gone? Then mayhap somebody can explain them to me when I return.”
“Donna leave me here,” Godric hissed. “Take me with you.”
“I said I will find your woman, and I will.”
Above him, Drustan finally found his tongue. “Godric Gryffindor!” He exploded. “You mean our ancestor Godric?”
“Yes. I inadvertently left his woman unprotected. I must go get her. I’ll return as soon as I can.”
Without further ado, Dageus turned and raced from the castle.