There was no doubt about it - school was Hell; "H" - "E" - double hockey stick. The epitome of Hades. The Ring of Fire. The Underworld. The Deep Dark Abyss. Abaddon. Gehenna. It didn't matter what name it was, Hogwarts for me this year was Hell. And it was only the end of October.
First off, I, Hermione Granger, am a vampire. So, of course, I needed regular supplies of disgusting blood to sustain myself. This also led to me lying to Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley, my two best friends. It also meant that my parents wanted nothing to do with me - or they would want nothing to do with me if they even remembered me. More so, the Clave was after me because I'm technically an "illegal" vampire and no one can find my maker to punish him and not me. Oh, and the feudal werewolf-vampire complex thing made me want to rip into Lupin whenever I saw him - which, with him being my Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, was quite often. And it's a mutual feeling, too. All of that stemmed from my being a vampire.
Second, I'm supposed to pretend to fancy Draco Malfoy - AKA, Draco Hawthorne. Not only will this cause best friends Harry and Ron to absolutely hate me, but it'll also make me a target for Voldemort - and all because of one of the stupid Clave laws, which I have somehow become completely and utterly tangled up in. Since, obviously, I'm a vampire.
Third, I have severe guy issues. Last year, as a normal, muggle-born witch, the only love interest in my life was Ron Weasley, and even that was so faint that it was nearly unrequited on both parts. Now, there's Ron - who still doesn't know about the vampirism, Andrew - a newly turned vampire like myself that I had a venom attraction for, Raphael - an ancient vampire that happens to be the leader of the group of vampires I belong in and who I have a major venom attraction and, dare I say it -
"Hawthorne wants to know what's taking so - Oh, my," Cece said, walking into my room without, once again, knocking. She was staring in shock at my costume for the Halloween Ball, which was thrown by the Prefects for a break from tradition but orchestrated by Hawthorne and myself - the Heads - to dramatically reveal our "relationship" to Harry and Ron to temporarily sever those ties to protect the truth of my vampirism and also to protect Hawthorne’s cover.
"What?" I snapped, fidgeting with my un-glamoured bronze curls. I’d decided to drop the glamour for the Halloween Ball and go as a vampire, which meant, ultimately, as myself. I’d accented my unnaturally pale skin with a long, flowing black dress paired with an equally flowing cape with a blood red interior. My lips were the same red hue with the prize of the outfit gently hanging over them – my fangs.
"I wish I’d thought to go as a vampire," Cece grumbled, pulling her tiara out of her fiery hair and looking at it in disappointment. Cece had opted to go as a princess, with a lavish blue and green ballgown that set off her hair beautifully and looked wonderful on her. She really did look like a princess. Well, now a vampire sugarplum princess, what with her fangs hanging out over her lips.
"You’re fangs are showing," I said teasingly, walking past her and playfully flicking her forehead with my finger as I walked by.
Ginny stood in front of the mirror, carefully getting dressed for the ball. Her blue gown, matching shoes, and masquerade mask was set out on her bed while she stared at her reflection, periodically glancing between herself and the picture tucked in the corner of the mirror of her former self, back when she was Ginny Weasley. The differences were obvious. She was paler, her hair was long and black, her feminine figure was more pronounced, her nose wasn’t as long, her eyes had a distinctly Asian tilt to them – there was no way anyone could see Ginny Weasley in her. Even her mother couldn’t see it.
Ginny’s eyes filled with tears, but she wiped them away quickly; she had work to do.
Four weeks earlier, Platform 9 ¾
Molly Weasley stood deathly still, stunned as this young woman clung to her, sobbing and choking out, "Mother, mother, mother," in a broken mantra. Uncertainly, Molly patted the girl’s back in what was meant to be a comforting gesture, but just turned out awkward. She did not know who this girl was at all.
"Dear," Molly said hesitantly, gently undoing the girl’s hold around her and pushing her back to armlength, "I’m sorry, but I don’t know who you are and I am not your mother."
The girl stared up at Molly with the most heartbreaking eyes, her mouth opening a little as if she were about to say something. Then it closed with a snap and she straightened up, still staring at Molly as if she were searching her face for something. Ronald coughed, obviously not knowing what to do.
"My apologies," the girl said formally, though her eyes were once again filling with tears. "You looked like my mother from that far away. I am sorry for have bothering you."
Before Molly could say anything, the girl spun on her heels and walked away swiftly, disappearing into the crowd as quickly as she had appeared. Molly’s heart squeezed for the mother the girl was looking for, wishing her own Ginny were here to hug her.
"I bet you she’s feeling fairly embarrassed," Ronald joked, though he put a soothing hand on Molly’s shoulder and gave her a slight squeeze of reassurance. Molly jumped as if she had been asleep and murmured, "Yes, I suppose she is."
"Remember to smile," Hawthorne murmured and took me into his arms and began to dance with me. I ignored him and closed my eyes, letting the slow, steady song move my feet to match his. His scent washed over me and immediately made my knees weak, but I refused to let them buckle. I just gripped his shoulder and hand tighter and allowed him to spin me, making my long, bronze hair and black dress and cape flare out dramatically.
Without opening my eyes, I felt their stares as we swept across the floor. I could feel Harry and Ron’s anger and betrayal without even looking at them, hear their hearts beating harder as they became angry at mine and Hawthorne’s show of a relationship. I broke my attention from them and the man that I danced with and instead concentrated on the song playing. The singer was singing something about somebody loving someone else for a thousand years – impossible unless they were immortal, I mentally scoffed.
This brought me back to my guy issues. Ron and I could never be together unless I turned him into a vampire – and, besides, he would never allow that, even if he got over the fact that Hawthorne/Malfoy and I had entered together in matching costumes and automatically began dancing to a romantic song. I may escape the issue of mortality with Andrew or Raphael, but to be with them for eternity with no love? I couldn’t do it.
And Hawthorne. Well, with him, there were more troubles than with Ron, Andrew, and Raphael combined. For one, he was mortal. And he would never, ever allow me to change him into a vampire, a Downworlder. Two, we weren’t even allowed to date because of a law from both of our kinds. Three, I didn’t even know if I could love him – I could barely distinguish Hawthorne from Malfoy.
"Deep in thought?" Hawthorne asked, pulling me closer to him. I followed his lead and laid my head on his shoulder, muttering, "Something like that."
"I know something that’ll make you feel better," he whispered, still twirling us around and around to the music. I dimly was aware that the song had changed to something more upbeat and less slow. I cut my eyes to his then closed them, feigning contentment. He didn’t wait for me to answer. Instead, he pushed me slightly away and stopped our dancing, smirking when I looked up at him, confused. He leaned in, closing his eyes, angling his head toward mine. Right before his mouth met mine, I tilted my head and let his mouth just barely brush the corner of my mouth, which quirked into my own smirk at the patronizing smile he gave me.
Ginny looked at her appearance, nearly complete. After an hour of intense spellwork, Ginny had given up on changing the glamour on herself back to her original appearance, but had decided to glamour the glamour. She now resembled the girl she used to be very closely, right down to the last freckle. Her normal brown eyes looked back at her anxiously as she twisted her red hair nervously in her hands. The ballgown she had chosen was a deep, midnight blue with sleeves that reached to her elbows. Scattered along the material were tiny crystals, giving off the effect of a starry night. Her mask was only a half-face mask of the same deep blue with the same tiny crystals. Tonight, she would be the heavens.
She would be her own shooting star.
Ginny placed the mask on her face and fastened it in the back with a black clip, admiring herself in the long mirror in her dormitory. She’d paraded around school as Darling Malfoy for the past month, talking to none, not even Draco Malfoy. She’d avoided Ron and Harry. She had even ignored her mission of capturing Hermione Granger, saying in her letters to her mother that it was difficult to get Granger on her own because she was constantly surrounded by people. Tonight, she would Ginny Weasley.
She would be herself.
Ginny threw one last glance at the mirror, knowing the glamour she did would only last for an hour, and walked out of the bathroom; she was on her own mission.
I twirled Granger around again, slightly irritated at her cheek-turn.
"We’ve given them enough show," Granger sighed, slowing our dance down to a stop. She casually glanced in the crowd of different costumes, all dancing, and said, "Nott has been watching us for the past twenty minutes and just walked out, presumably about to inform your higher-ups of our relationship. Why don’t you step out and beat him to it and tell both Voldemort and the Clave their variations of the plan? That way I can get the confrontation with Harry and Ron out of the way without you there."
"You sure you’ll be able to handle it?" I asked uncertainly. I knew all too well that Weasley and Potter suffered from obnoxious anger issues. She nodded absentmindedly so I shrugged, kissed her forehead for appearances, and stepped back and walked away after bowing to her.
I laughed hysterically as Styx spun me around and around the dancefloor, prompting many of the dancing people to jump out of the way. I'd had no idea that it was possible for vampires to feel dizzy - but that's how he made me feel as I twirled and twirled, sending my ballgown flaring out around me. He laughed with me, fluidly pulling me back into our "waltz" position and dipping me in the same move. The Hogwarts students eyed us warily, not sure of what to think of these newcomers.
He gave me a big wink and dropped me right on the ground, making me land in a huff. Chuckling, he left me there on the floor, throwing another wink over his shoulder. I surpressed a growl and pushed myself up, brushing off nonexistent dust and walked as dignified as I could to where he stood at the double doors of the Great Hall, waiting for me with a smirk on his face.
"Ass," I said with mock briskness, walking past him and ignoring his arm outstretched.
"Arse," he corrected me, dropping the arm and easily matching my pace down the hall. I rolled my eyes, but made no comment. After a moment, he gently grabbed my arm, tugging me to a stop. I threw a sarcastic smile his way, but dropped it when I saw the seriousness in his expression.
"I want to talk to you, Cece," he said in a serious way. I was distracted by the way he said my name; he didn't pronounce it as "See-see," as people usually pronounced my nickname - he pronounced it as "cease," - short and bluntly; I liked it.
"Okaaaay," I said uncertainly, dragging the word out. He stared at me intensely for a moment, making my discomfort grow, and stepped closer to me, our faces almost five inches apart. He hesitated and leaned in, closing his eyes as he did so.
I was frozen.
I mean, I'd thought about this days ago, when he held me against the tree, but now that it was actually happening - my breath caught. I didn't see Styx's laughing, warm eyes anymore.
I saw emerald green ones, heavy with lust as pale hands reached for me.
I gasped, snapping out of the memory, and turned tail and ran.
"Cece, wait!" Styx shouted, sprinting after me. I didn’t slow down, but instead continued running down the hall, the tapping of my heels echoing as it bounced off the walls. Many portraits shouted in objection at being woken up in such a rude manner, but neither I nor Styx cared. I was running from him, and he was chasing me.
I made a sharp turn, and suddenly the tapping of running heels stopped. Styx turned it and found me in an empty classroom, sliding down the wall and falling to the ground, wrapping my arms around my ballgown-covered knees and holding them close to my chest as I laid my head on them. Styx closed the door and quickly dropped to my side and crouched there, waiting for me to say something. I pulled in a deep, shuddering breath and began speaking quickly.
"His name was Adrian and I met him during my fifth year at Ballard, the American Academy of Magic. He was my first boyfriend, my first love. We were together for five months, but it felt like five years."
"What happened?" Styx's tone was even, as if he wasn't sure he wanted to know, but felt as if he had to. My following words were hasty; I wanted to get it out of the way.
"It was Valentine's Day and he had planned to spend the entire day with me. We went to the dance that our school holds every Valentine's Day, but we left early to see a play in a neighboring village. Afterwards, it was night, and he told me he had a surprise for me." My voice caught here. I was so close to telling him The Secret.
"He took me to this small inn in the village called the Sorcerer's Solitude. There, he had reserved a room for us and had it filled with flower petals, firewiskey, candles - the works."
Styx made a sound of understanding in the back of his throat, but didn't interrupt. Throughout the entire description, his face had stayed in a neutrally blank expression.
"However, I told him I wasn't ready for what he wanted," my voice broke as a sob caught in my throat. "He got angry and began yelling at me. I didn't know what to do - he was my first boyfriend."
I broke down crying, tightening my hold on my knees for security. Styx automatically pulled me against him, rubbing my back as he did so. I made myself continue so he'd be able to understand.
"He f-forced himself o-on m-m-me, telling me o-over a-and over how m-much h-he l-l-loved me," I could barely get the words out, I was sobbing so hard. The only kind of emotion I got from Styx was the tightening of his arms around me. "It's w-why I d-d-decided to l-like g-g-girls."
"That son of a bitch," he said through clenched teeth, surprising me. I looked up from his chest and saw the expression of hatred etched into his face. I hiccupped and asked in a faint voice, "What?"
"If I ever get a hold of him, Cece, I'll kill him, Clave be damned," he told me hotly, staring at me with a look so intense, it made me want to shiver. He went on heatedly, "Why didn't you curse him or turn him into a frog or something?"
I sniffled, trying to hold back the dry sobs and said, "I d-dropped my w-wand w-w-when he g-grabbed me. A-a-and, after, h-he t-t-told m-me if I-I ever t-t-told anyone h-he'd k-k-kill them." The relief of finally getting it off my chest brought on more sobs and I started crying all over again.
"You mean you've never told anybody?" Styx asked, the realization dawning in his voice. I shook my head wordlessly, clinging to him. He swore quietly and pulled me even tighter against his chest, whispering words of comfort and stroking my hair. Part of me noticed how I didn't feel scared around him like I did most guys; he made me feel safe.
"I'm sorry, Cece," he murmured into my hair as my sobs subsided. Completely spent, I snuggled closer to him, thankful for him beyond words. We both faced each other as if to say something, though no words came out.
Before I could stop it, my mouth met his in the darkness. The kiss was like a secret, something only we knew about, and it sent all of kinds of electricity between us. It was sweet, but mounting like a mountain rising from the ground. Just as I had begun it, I ended it before it amounted to anything more.
We sat there for a while in silence. My head was on his chest and I could hear the unsteady beat of his heart, quickened from the kiss, which didn't even make me thirsty. Instead, it was like a soft lullaby.
"We’re in a pickle," Styx whispered hoarsely, his voice rumbling through his chest. I nodded silently, knowing what he meant; because of the vampire law banning vampire/Shadowhunter relationships, we were both breaking the laws of our own kind. If the vampires found out about us, I would be staked and killed by them. If the Shadowhunters found out – I stopped, stunned.
"What would happen to you?" I asked hesitantly, glancing up at him. He looked down at me and smiled ruefully, saying softly, "I’d be stripped of my marks and thrown out, made into an ordinary mundane."
I opened my mouth to object, saying that we needed to stop this before anything bad were to happen when he interrupted me by crushing his mouth down on mine, throwing a lit match in a pool of gasoline. The kiss was nowhere near like the other one. It was urgent and fiery, taking even my breath away. I threw my arms around him and almost moaned when he grasped at the back of my dress. He broke away from the kiss but began kissing down my neck, saying in-between the warm kisses, "Clave be damned," kiss, "but," kiss, "I want," kiss, "to," kiss, "love," kiss, "you."
As he said, "You," his mouth reached my cleavage. I gasped as he kissed the space between my breasts and felt electricity and heat flare up from the kiss. I’d thought such emotions were gone to me now as a vampire. I closed my eyes when the dress loosened as he undid the back, still trailing kisses everywhere. A shiver from pleasure couldn’t be help as he gently slipped my dress down, exposing my chest; his heart was beating so quickly, it might as well have been beating for both of us.
He paused, waiting for an objection. When I brought my mouth to his, he swiftly pulled the gown down, leaving me only in my underwear as he kissed me with a fever and pressed his body to mine. The heat of passion clouded everything as I pulled the jacket of his tux off, accidentally ripping it in places because of my vampire strength. He chuckled against my lips and yanked his tie off just as I pulled the buttoned shirt apart, sending buttons flying everywhere.
His hands roamed over my body, fiery against my cold skin. I gave up on trying to unbutton his pants and instead just pulled the fabric apart, popping that button off too and ripping the cloth.
"Wait," he said, putting his hands on mine to keep from pulling his pants down. I looked up in confusion, asking, "Don’t you want this?"
"Yes," he groaned, but gently pushed my hands to myself and sat up away from me, brushing his fingers through his hair quickly. "It’s just, I really do like you Cece, and I meant what I said. I’m willing to risk everything because I want to fall in love with you."
"I want to love you too," I mumbled, wrapping my arms around myself. I drew in a deep breath, which really didn’t help since I technically didn’t need to breathe.
"Cece, how about we take this slow?" Styx suggested, shrugging his torn shirt on and pulling his pants up. I didn’t answer but did stand up and pull my dress back up to cover my body. After a moment, I nodded and murmured, "Slow would be nice."
He stepped behind me and began to lace up the back of my gown and leaned forward to kiss my cheek. I gave a small smile and dropped my arms as he finished the lacework. He put his hands lightly on my arms and slowly turned me to face him. I grinned softly at his disheveled and torn appearance before I pulled my wand out of a pocket sewn into the layers of my dress and fixed it with a nonverbal spell. His hair flattened out into less of a hot mess and his clothing sewed itself back together, leaving him as dashing as he was moments before.
"We never finished our dance," Styx whispered as I put my wand back. We stared into each other’s eyes, momentarily lost, until Styx – still staring – slipped his arm around my waist and grasped my hand with his free one. I put my other hand on his shoulder and began to dance with him even though there wasn’t any music.
We danced in beat to his heart.
I busied myself with walking to the refreshment table that was full of Halloween themed dishes and opted for a cup of "blood" punch that I wouldn’t drink while Hawthorne walked out to do as he said he would. I brought the cup to my lips, pretending to take a drink while observing the dancing crowd, when I heard their steps walking purposefully toward me. I held back a sigh and looked over at them, Harry looking disturbed and concerned, Ron looking downright murderous.
"Hello," I said coolly over the rim of the orange plastic cup. Harry opened his mouth as if to speak, but Ron – ever so hotheaded – beat him to it.
"What the bloody hell was that, Hermione?" he demanded, almost getting right up in my face. I clenched my teeth, willing my fangs not to sink out lower than they already were, and prepared myself for the ultimate deception and possible ending of our friendship. Harry gripped Ron’s arm and pulled him back slightly, his expression strained.
"Whatever are you talking about?" I asked as impassively as I could, letting my attention drift as if distracted by casually searching for someone in the crowd. To them, it would seem as if I were looking for Hawthorne/Malfoy. To me, I just didn’t want to meet their gazes.
"Why are you fraternizing with Malfoy?" Ron spit out, wrenching his arm out of Harry’s grip. In all honesty, I’d expected him to do that sooner, I thought dryly before giving them a theatrical eye roll. Harry pressed his lips into a thin line, but remained suspiciously quiet.
"Maybe I want to fraternize with Draco," I snarled loudly, claiming the attention of many people around us. Ron looked as if I’d slapped him, but Harry showed no emotion except for a frown, still saying nothing. Ron sputtered for a moment, his face going from pink to a dangerous raspberry color before Harry grabbed his arm again and started pulling Ron away, muttering, "Let’s go."
Again, Ron jerked his arm from Harry’s grip and gave me one last look of betrayal and disgust before turning abruptly and stalking off. By now, more than half of the students present at the ball were watching our little exchange. Good. Maybe word would get to Voldemort quicker. As the yelling stopped, people resumed their dancing and otherwise ignored us.
Harry stared at me for a moment, searching my face, before raising his eyebrow ever so slightly. So, he knew that Hawthorne and I were up to something – he just didn’t know what. To acknowledge that he was right, I allowed the smallest twitch of a smile at the corner of my mouth and barely nodded. He stared a moment longer and gave a nearly imperceptible nod of his own. I glanced in the direction where Ron had stomped off in and gave a little shake of my head. He gave another nod and walked away, our "conversation" having lasted the length of about ten seconds. Message delivered.
I sighed, set the drink on the table, and went in search of Hawthorne.
Harry walked away, his mind on this new ordeal with Hermione. First, she doesn’t ever answer their letters over the summer, disappearing for so long. Then, she avoids them when school starts up again, being careful to not be in the Great Hall during meal times and even abandoning the library – he would know because he and Ron spent loads of time sitting in there, waiting for her. And tonight, letting herself be seen so publicly with Malfoy? What game was she playing at?
For one panic-stricken second, Harry considered that maybe she was betraying them. Maybe she was actually with Malfoy and had joined forces with Voldemort – no, that couldn’t be it, Harry instantly berated himself. Hermione was one of the purest souls he’d ever met. She’d never be tainted by any promise of Voldemort’s side, no matter what. She was probably doing some undercover assignment for Dumbledore.
But, if that were the case, then why wouldn’t she or Dumbledore tell him and Ron? And, no offense to Hermione, but what could she have done or said to actually secure a "mutual" attraction from Pureblood King Malfoy, Sex God of Hogwarts? Harry’s stomach churned uncomfortabl, so he hastily moved on from that disturbing train of thought.
All he knew was that Hermione was up to something and she didn’t want Ron to know what. Harry exhaled in agitation at knowing so little.
"Keep glowering at the ground and your face’ll stick like that."
Harry’s heart stopped at that voice. It was a voice he would’ve known anywhere, a voice that haunted his dreams and pained his memories. He slowly turned around, barely noticing that he’d somehow gotten outside, and found the source of the lingering melody standing behind him. Harry’s heart seemed to get stuck in his throat as she stepped out of the shadows.
Her dress was a midnight blue, and seemed to reflect the constellations above them. Even motionless, she sparkled like an angel from the night sky, her long red hair gently lifted in the chilly autumn air. A half-mask was across her eyes, though he could see the glassy twinkle of unshed tears in her brown eyes, once the warmest parts of his life. Now, they were slightly cold, like the chilly wind, but they still held a bit of the old warmth.
Before he could even form a coherent sentence in his mind, he stepped forward and ripped the mask from her face, needing to see every little detail. The freckles were there; her lips – although twisted into a rueful and mocking smile – were still the same shape. The tears broke free of her eyes and dripped down her cheeks as she looked up to his unblinkinly.
"Ginny," was all he could choke out before she threw herself into his arms and kissed him, her mouth as sweet and warm as he remembered. He dropped the mask and wrapped his arms around her, picking her up and spinning her around in his elation.
Unknown to either of them, an onlooker deeper in the shadows watched their romance with unease. Unsure of whether or not to report this, he shifted his great wings in uncertainty and discomfort. Lilith would want to know about this, he was sure.
But he couldn’t bring himself to turn Ginny in.
So, he waited.
Taaaadaaaaa! Happy Birthday to me! To...you? Hahaha, well, this is my present to y'all in celebration of my birthday! I worked really hard on this chapter (I think it's the longest one out of this story yet! And the most dramatic!) so please, pretty please with birthday cake topped with Harry Potter candles - leave me a review on what you thought! :)