Sweet, sticky mead slid down her throat, warmth radiating from the golden liquid. Swaying hips moved back and forth to the hypnotic beat undulating through the Irish air. Hermione gazed at the lush landscape under the setting sun, brilliant warm hues saturating every blade of grass and tree trunk. Unlit bonfires sat at the center of the clearing as people milled about, preparing the rites for the moonrise.

The war raging within England and Scotland felt like naught but a blurred nightmare. Maybe it was the wine, or the beguiling, festive atmosphere, but the young brunette woman felt transported. Fellow revelers drank and made merry all about her, laughing and joyous shouts suffusing the large ritual grounds. If not for the newly ingrained paranoia, nor the depressingly horrific memories of the past twenty-four hours - No, don't think about that now, Hermione.

Instead, she let the surreal trance of the magical holiday anchor her mind to the present. An odd mixture of wizards who honored the ancient ways and muggles who maintained the traditions mingled about the ever darkening clearing. She reflected, another sip of mead sliding down to her stomach, that the wizarding world truly was not as repressed as those in power made you think. A small grin bloomed upon her face as she remembered her first summer holiday with Augusta Longbottom.

With the ease of a story teller, the energetic woman related all manner of tales regarding the ancient rites. Hermione always thought that those things, the solstices and equinoxes, were only important to older societies. In some ways, she was right. However, the plucky old woman explained not only the magical significance, but the more spiritual feeling of these events. A knowing sparkle flickered in her hazel eyes as if looking towards the past. Interspersed with these tales were lessons her friend's grandmother deemed fit to teach the young brunette. These romantic tales tempered the often confusing and demanding wizarding etiquette.

Though excited to learn more all such holidays, Hermione did not get the chance until after the World Cup. A fond expression found itself to her face, watching as twilight cast its glow upon the world. Despite spending time with the Longbottoms as an adopted granddaughter to Augusta and sister to Neville, Hermione did not get the chance until after the World Cup. In the rush of keeping everyone safe, the young witch found herself whisked away to the secluded cottage of her transfiguration professor upon the Scottish Highlands.

There, she found books and journals about more than just the ritual holidays. Pages upon pages, volumes and tomes and scrolls, dedicated to the ancient magics. Ley lines, elements, and more knowledge not taught at Hogwarts filled her head during those weeks at the picturesque cottage. Her professor happily indulged the eager and young Hermione in all of her questions.

Perhaps what caught her attention the most was the romanticism associated with everything. How the Dark God and the Goddess would awaken in each person, and, for the lucky few, how they would claim one another, finding their mates. These individuals, Professor McGonagall explained in a faraway voice, were always perfectly suited for one another. From the moment they claimed one another, only death could keep them apart even temporarily. Starry eyed and admittedly hopelessly romantic daydreams distracted her for much of September and October of her fourth year.

Her professor fed the unquenchable thirst to know more, and, soon, Hermione noticed similarities between Christian holidays and their magical counterparts. Intellectually, she knew long before that the Catholic Church chose the pagan holidays to overlap their own celebrations. Both arbitrary and hypocritical, many of the holidays retained similar activities and overarching themes. Recognizing the overlap still surprised her. By the end of her fifth year, Hermione had learned more about the ancient ways than large majority of the wizarding world, pureblood snobs included.

Upon every bucket list she drew up, the very top was to attend just one of these rituals, to experience the Goddess within her, and to bask in the euphoric feel of magic. Looking back to the events of just a few weeks ago, Hermione knew her time to be limited. Being the muggle born best friend of Harry Potter gave her slim to no chance of surviving the next few months, let alone the next year, and once they rescued him from the Dursley's, she would not be able to leave. With as many provisions in place as possible, Hermione sent her parents away just before coming to Ireland at one of the largest ritual sites.

A hushed silence filled the clearing as the elders enacting the rites filed in from the forest. Every person stood in anticipation, tense and excited. Hermione watched as the robed men and women stood in a circle around the bonfires. The silvery glow of the moon's rays began to creep over the forest's edge, and, as one, the robed wizards began to chant. Guttural, sing-song syllables filled the air, magic humming it's current through each person. It felt like fire and energy and adrenaline, coursing through her blood. With each beat of the drum, tempo accelerating until it came to some unknown precipice.

One, final shouted word echoed, and an orgasmic joy and jolt sped through Hermione's body, sublime and transcendent. Pure, unadulterated magic used her physical form as a conduit, infusing her very soul with power she never knew. She could feel the Goddess within her now a nebulous cloud of energy. Her very being bared for all to see, to celebrate, and, perhaps, for one to worship.

Joyful shouts, incredulous laughter, and general amazement greeted her ears, eyes closed somewhere along the way. When they fluttered open, a kaleidoscope of color suffused everything. Bold, bright pinks and yellows mixed with the mellow greens and blues. Obnoxious oranges mixed with purples, neutral colors dancing among the chromatic mess. For a time, Hermione leaned back, sipping the mead in her goblet, and watched the dancers twirl around the lit Midsummer bonfires.

Just as she finally became used to the enthralling sway of those around her, a new sensation licked down Hermione's spine. Warm and familiar, exciting yet unknown, it felt as if someone trailed a teasing finger down the length of her spine. With a certainty that surprised her, cinnamon eyes turned to find the source. A man, whom intense gaze excited her very core met her searching glance. While no defining features could be distinguished through the visible haze of ancient magic, something about him called to her.

Feet led the way, gracefully twisting through the crowd, before conscious thought went into the action. Forgotten laid the currently amorous lovers, mates or not. Some propped against empty kegs, forgotten carts, or bales of hay. Others found corners and niches away from the main throughway. Yet, Hermione saw nothing. Her world narrowed into the mysterious man, his navy and emerald aura swirling with power around his lithe frame. Eyes never leaving hers, he lead her behind a far set of hay bales, behind a copse of trees, and into a more intimate clearing.

Fired followed his fingertips as they grazed up and down her arms. Thrice twined voice, boy, man, and elder, spun words of seduction, hot breath tickling her ear and neck. Heat radiated off of him, drying her mouth and wetting her core. She, the perfect, virgin sacrifice, responded in kind. Surreal and herself at the basest level, Hermione had few coherent thoughts of how she just did not act this way.

Goody-goody, know-it-all bookworms do not moan into sweet kisses. Nor do they curl a leg around a man's waist, wanton and needy. They do not arouse strange, mysterious men, whether or not the ancient magics claim him as her own. Groaning, grunting, whimpering, begging were all unbecoming of all straight laced, perfect students, and they most certainly do not caress men so unashamedly in such private places. Then, her partner would nibble her earlobe, suckle her neck, or start to disrobe her entirely, and she would forget any and all objections and thoughts.

By the time they completely disrobed each other, limbs tangled together, she lay a whimpering mass of nerves upon the soft, green grass. A feminine power swept over her as she saw this god, her very own Dark God, her mate since the most ancient of times, nestled between her thighs. Only she had this power, to reduce an obviously powerful man to worshipping her and no one else. As she shattered at his talented fingers and tongue, much harder than her hand provided, a simple look recalled him to her lips.

Their coupling began slow and tender, exploring the sensation of being one. A raw need began to consume Hermione, which made her lover respond just as she wished. Something powerful laid on the horizon, it built deep within her belly, coiling and tightening its hold upon her. Lusty moans mixed with his deep, rough grunts and groans, a soundtrack rounded out by the singing cicadas and night creatures around them. As the moon crested, full, bright, and directly overhead, they reached their shared climax. Magic poured out from every pore, heightening the pleasure to the point of nearly passing out. Hermione swore she saw the incarnation of the Dark God take over her lover right at the moment.

Together, they collapsed and, after a moment, he rolled off of her. A firm, possessive arm snaked across her waist, pulling her close as their hearts slowed. Music drifted from the main ritual site, the moon providing the only light as it began its nightly descent. A flick transfigured her cloak into a quilt large enough for two, and they burrowed together as one. At some point, Hermione must have drifted off, for he was gone when she opened her eyes. Her only companion hung low in the sky, and she could feel the magic beginning to recede within herself.

Exhausted and deliciously sore, Hermione stretched and stood, quilt wrapped tightly around her shoulders, wand in hand, as she laid upon one of the bales of hay. She slept a long, dreamless, restful sleep, and awoke only as the sun peaked in the sky. Around her, revelers still slumbered. She watched the world with a strange, new duality, one she knew would stay. The Goddess, now awake within her, gave instinctual knowledge. Just as she knew her name, Hermione knew her mate had left a gift. Deep in her bones, the truth echoed within her whole being. Thoughts and plans flitted through her mind, emotions fighting to the fore. Both exhilarated and petrified, the young brunette looked towards the future.