Chapter 19 : Gryffin Castle
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“Better, lass?” Dageus asked.
“Oh yes,” she said with a contented sigh.
Leaning back against the seat of the SUV, she stretched out her legs. She was feeling tremendously better, heartened by the discovery that Godric was somewhere safe, and quite frankly delighted at the prospect of seeing the Gryffin Castle.
Everyone had always believed that there were descendants of Godric Gryffindor hiding about in the world. To find out that there really were descendants in the world and so close by was a fascinating surprise.
“Have I told you how sorry I am?”
“Only about a hundred times now,” she told Dageus dryly.
“Tis but that I feel like a complete idiot, lass. I’d never have taken the mirror if I’d thought ‘twould leave you in any danger. Please believe that.”
“I do,” she assured him. “It’s all right. Everything turned out okay. I’m here, Godric’s safe, my friend Harry is going to meet us at the Castle to help with brain storming, and no one’s the worse for wear.”
Although, she appended silently, she wasn’t going to feel a hundred percent okay until she saw Godric with her own eyes. She glanced over at Dageus. It was full dark outside and the only light in the SUV came from the faint green glow of the dashboard’s electronics.
He looked a lot like Godric in the low light; same strong features, long hair, powerful body. His quiet respect and responsibility toward women reminded her of Godric as well. He’d been searching for her for almost an hour, he had told her, before he thought to check in the diner.
Truthfully she had been surprised to see the stolen SUV pull up in front of the diner. She sat at the booth dumb founded for a moment until she saw Godric’s descendant step out of it. Moving quickly, she met him at the door. Hey, she had blurted out to him, without thinking, I know you! What are you doing with our SUV?
The sudden fear that he might be a bad guy, too, had spiked through her then, but when she saw the expression of pure relief on his face her fears vanished. There you are, lass. I have been looking all over for you!
He’d told her, with the first of his many apologies that he’d only taken the vehicle because he had seen the Dark Glass in it and been worried about what was being done with it. He’d been home already when he’d discovered Godric in the mirror, and been sent back by his furious ancestor to find her.
Although Dageus had referred to Godric as “kinsman” in the diner when they first met him, Hermione had decided that Dageus must have believed they were somehow distantly related in current day. Certainly not that he was an ancient ancestor who’d been trapped in a mirror for eleven centuries.
Really, what sort of person would readily accept that kind of nonsense? She certainly hadn’t. She had resisted until the last possible moment, only when she’d been forced to concede that her life was at stake, but Dageus wasn’t having any problem with it at all. Which pointed to only one logical conclusion.
“So, I guess none of you Gryffindors are normal, and that’s why you all have been in hiding all these years, huh?” she probed.
He smiled faintly. “Nay, not exactly normal, I’m fair certain my wife will tell the tale better than I.”
Hermione blinked. “Did you dabble in the black arts too?”
Dageus made a choking sound. “By the sweet saints, is Godric a dark wizard?”
“Don’t you know anything about your ancestor? I figured that even though all the wizard world knows about Godric is that he helped found Hogwarts, but his family would have more information in their own personal records.”
“His name was stricken from all Gryffindor annals eleven centuries ago. Verily, until just recently when I found a journal from that time period under a loose flag stone, we believed him a legend just like the rest of the wizard world. Is he a dark wizard, then?”
“He seems to think he is, but I don’t believe so.”
“How did he end up in the mirror?”
“I don’t know the full details. He won’t talk about it. Yet, “she added firmly.
Hermione had several epiphanies today while hunting for Godric, terrified that she might never she him again. The time had seemed to stretch on and one, and alone with her thoughts and fears, certain facts had attained a stark clarity in her mind.
One was that she wanted to know everything there was to know about Godric Gryffindor. All of it, good and bad. She knew from the parts of his stories that had penetrated her stupor the night he’d killed the assassin masquerading as Room Service, that he’d had a wonderful childhood in the Highlands.
She knew also that, somewhere, something had gone terribly wrong. She wanted to know what it was; how he’d ended up in the mirror; how he could think he was a dark wizard when every time she looked at him, she saw light.
He was what psychologists and anthropologists would call an Alpha male, men who were defined by an inherent lawlessness. They obeyed only their own code, and if it happed to briefly converge with the laws of society at large, it was mere coincidence.
One could never be completely certain what an Alpha male would do if he, or those he considered his, were threatened. One could only hope to stay within an Alpha male’s protected circle, or as far out of his line of sight as possible.
Hermione knew where she wanted to be, smack at the center of Godric Gryffindor’s protected circle, and not just because someone was after her, but because he wanted her there under any circumstances. That was the second epiphany she’d had today while frantically hunting for him.
“But you donna think he’s dark, eh, lass?” Dageus jarred her from her thoughts. “You think he’s a good man? Do you believe in him, lass, with your heart?”
She looked at him curiously. There was a note of urgency in his voice, as if the question was very important to him.
“You don’t even know me. Would it matter to you if I did?”
“We have heard much about your courage Miss Granger. Your name is as famous as ours. Mostly a woman’s thoughts and feelings always matter to Gryffindor men. So do you?” he pressed.
“Yes,” Hermione said without reservation. “I do.”
When they got to the castle Dageus guided her through as such breakneck speed that her surroundings whizzed by and she hardly managed to see a thing.
She got a brief, astonished glimpse of a magnificent great hall with a fabulous fairy tale staircase that descended from both sides of the upper stories, a rapid look at a stunning suit of armor, that reminded her of Hogwarts, in an alcove, and a much too hasty glance into a darkly paneled room adorned by ancient weaponry.
After steering her into a library, he deposited her there, and then hurried off to ‘gather the rest of the clan and bring your man in.’
Now, waiting by herself, she proceeded to take a thorough, fascinated peek around.
The library was a beautiful, spacious, yet cozily inviting retreat, reminding Hermione much of the understated, impeccable elegance of Professor McGonagall’s old transfiguration office.
The tall bay windows were draped in blue velvet and overlooked a manicured garden of roses. Cherry bookcases were recessed into paneled walls. An enormous, dusky-rose stone and marble fireplace climbed one wall, the elaborate mantel climbing all the way to the ceiling.
There were many richly brocaded, overstuffed chairs and ottomans arranged in various conversation areas, beside lavishly carved, leather detailed occasional tables. The trey ceiling had ornate embossing and three tiers of elegant moldings. A stately bar was custom crafted into a section of the middle bookshelves.
Centuries old tapestries adorned the walls. The room was illumed by exquisite, and she was willing to be real, Tiffany lamps that cast a stained glass amber and rosy glow about the room. The majority of the books on the shelves were leather bound and some looked quite old resting with care on their flats, not their spines. Her fingers itched with the urge to read them.
A massive desk with a top inlaid of three gleaming burled panels divided by intricate Celtic knot-work occupied one corner, with a tall leather chair behind it. Library tables perched beneath spotlighted portraits of Gryffindor ancestors.
Muted antique rugs warmed the room, accented by an occasional plush lamb-skin. A pretty ladder with sides of carved scrollwork slid along the walls of bookcases on padded wheels, atop the gleaming perimeter of wood floor.
She was just moving toward the ladder, to push it to an especially interesting looking pile of manuscripts, when two pretty blondes burst into the library, followed by a man she initially mistook for Dageus.
“Welcome to Castle Gryffin,” one of the blondes said breathlessly. “I’m Gwen and this is my husband, Drustan. This is Dageus’s wife, Jenna.”
“Hi,” Hermione said tentatively. “I’m Hermione Granger.”
“We know. Dageus told us,” Gwen said. “We can’t wait to hear your story. You can start now if you’d like,” she said brightly. “We’ve been waiting for what seems like hours.”
Dageus walked in then, toting the mirror, holding it by the sides. She’d half expected to hear furious bellows heralding his approach, and was somewhat surprised that the glass was silent.
He crossed the room and propped the mirror up against the bookcase, near the conversation area where she and the Gryffindor’s had gathered. She peered at it. It was flat silver and there was no sign of Godric.
Hermione hurried over to the looking glass, reaching instinctively for it. At the same moment, Godric’s hand rose within the silver as he stepped forward, making himself visible. She heard feminine gasps behind her.
“So there he is,” one of the women exclaimed. “Not only did he refuse to answer any of our questions, he wouldn’t even show himself until you got here.”
The world receded around her and narrowed down to nothing but Godric. The expression in his gaze was stark.
“Och, Hermione,” he said, his butter-rum voice rough and low. He was silent a moment, drinking her in. “I’m not much of a man when I can’t even protect my woman. The bloody glass reclaimed me and I couldn’t get to you!”
She could see in his eyes and hear in his voice that the hours of worrying had been awful on him too. She was sorry it had been; and she was glad. Glad it hadn’t been just her going crazy. Glad because it meant his feelings matched hers.
“Yes, you are,” she told him fiercely. “You’re more man than any I’ve ever known. You’re more man than any other man could ever hope to be. You’ve saved my life twice! I’d be dead if it weren’t for you. Besides, you couldn’t possibly anticipate that your stupid descendant would steal you. Who could have seen that coming?”
Behind her, someone cleared his throat. She thought it might be Drustan, but he and Dageus were so alike that it was hard to be sure. Then she knew it was Dageus because, with a note of wry amusement in his voice he spoke up.
“His stupid descendant wishes to know how you release him, lass.”
She pressed her other palm to the glass. Godric aligned his to hers. They stared hungrily at each other. After being afraid she’d lost him, she needed to touch him, ached to feel his body against hers, to taste his kisses. His woman, he’d called her, and she was pretty sure those weren’t words a ninth century Highlander ever used lightly.
“Is it okay if I tell him?” she asked Godric.
He shrugged. “Aye, I suppose so.”
She said over her shoulder, “There’s a summoning spell, Lialth bree che bree, Godric Gryffindor, drachme se-sidh, but it won’t work right now because…”
Even as she was about to explain that not enough time had elapsed since that morning when he’d last been out, the runes carved into the ornate frame began to blaze with a brilliant inner light and the parameters of the library felt suddenly skewed. Her jaw dropped.
Godric looked just as startled as she. Then his dark eyes blazed with exultation.
“Mayhap because the last two times were so short, lass,” he exclaimed hoarsely. “Who care the why of it?”
He pushed forward, reaching for her. One moment Hermione had her palms pressed to cool glass, the next it was full black and icy, and then the warm strength of his hand was closing around hers. He separated from the mirror, peeling away from the silvery rippling pool, walking her backwards, his gaze glittering with passion and lust not to be denied.
She shivered with anticipation.
Distantly, she heard Jenna and Gwen’s startled exclamations, then heard nothing more when he ducked his head and slanted his mouth hungrily over hers. She melted into him, leaning against his big body, threading her fingers into his braids, parting her lips, yielding utterly to him.
Abruptly, he dragged his mouth from hers.
“Is this castle warded, kinsmen?” he grated over her shoulder.
One of the twins answered, “Well, aye.”
“Think you two puny wizards can hold this keep for a single night?” Godric cut him off.
“We two puny wizards,” one of the twins spat, “could hold…”
“…this keep for a blethering eternity if we so wished,” the other one finished.
“Good, go do it. Get out of here.”
He slanted his mouth over Hermione’s again.
Behind the passionately entwined couple, Drustan’s eyes narrowed, his nostrils flared.
“Of all the arrogant…”
“Remember the day I trapped you in the bathroom until you finally remembered who I was, my love?” Gwen interrupted softly.
Drustan swallowed the rest of his words. Did he ever! He’d been nigh crazed with desire for her. Naught in the world could have stopped him from making love to her then and there. In fact, they’d doffed every scrap of clothing the two of them had worn, right there in the great hall, and to this day, he was uncertain if they’d had an audience and to this day he still didn’t care.
From the looks of it, that was exactly how Godric and Hermione were feeling. In fact, there went the man’s shirt soaring over her head, to land on a lamp. The delicate stained glass shade wobbled a precarious moment, and then settled.
Drustan had no desire to see any more of his ancestor than he was currently seeing. Except, he thought, scrutinizing the man’s sculpted upper torso, blethering hell, what are those tattoos? Had he fallen from grace? If so, how far? He had wee bairn sleeping above stairs, a wife and clan to protect, and he’d like to know what to expect.
Who and what was this man and what was he doing here? Why did he have an ancient Faery relic? He wanted explanations, by Merlin, he deserved explanations. This was his castle, his world. He was the senior Gryffindor male, after all, or rather he had been until a few moments ago.
His scowl deepened. If his ninth century ancestor thought he was going to usurp lairdly duties of the clan based on birth order, he was sadly mistaken.
He regarded him irritably, but despite his displeasure, his expression softened. Godric and Hermione were kissing like the world might come crashing to an end at any moment, and Drustan knew exactly how that felt.
Each time he kissed his wife, each time he held their precious twins in his arms, it seemed the world couldn’t possibly grant him time enough to love, even if it spun out to eternity.
He didn’t need to try Legmency on his ancestor to know the woman Godric was kissing was his soul mate. Some things required no explanations.
The matching of a Gryffindor with their mate was one of them.
He heard the metal groan of a zipper. His or hers, he didn’t know, nor was he about to stand about and find out.
His questions would have to wait.
Pivoting, he ushered the lot of them from the library.
A/n: To those who have been reading and following this story from the very beginning I want to give a big thank you. For those new to reading this story please leave a review to tell me what you thought of it.
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