PREVIOUSLY AQUIRIIS, NOW INTRICACY

This chapter reminded me of the fact that both Hermione and Draco are characters in Greek myth/history, which prompted a sudden inspiration of a story line of a Draco/Hermione story. However, this will not be written until sometime later in the school year, after we've read Homer in class, so I get a better basis for the story. So keep an eye out for future fanfic Rule of Greece.

So… I'm back! Thanks for all the well-wishing comments! I am back! Luckily, my flight home was in between two typhoon dates (my poor, poor friends who returned to America on the typhoon dates. XD) so my trip was pretty successful. As well as camp.

Sorry about the delay. I hit writer's block with… well… all my stories. So this chapter might not run as smoothly, but I'll try my best. (Last time I hit writer's block in this part of the story, I rewrote the entire thing. Heh.) Hopefully you guys will enjoy it. Sorry it's mega short… better than nothing? Cause if I wrote it to the normal length (around double this length), you wouldn't get an update until next year July. XD

Just a note that (if you didn't see my author's page) I will NOT be able to update much this school year. I get home around 5:30 everyday and I'm stuck with homework and studying and utter chaos and confusion. However, my goal is to update weekly over the summer to try and catch up. So start counting down days! XD


Chapter Ten

Hermione lifted her fork and knife as she cut herself a piece of meat. It was well into dinner, and no one had spoken for a good while now – though this was perfectly fine for Hermione, as she did not intend on speaking to Zeus at all. In fact, it would have been even better if Zeus had not been present, but she supposed she shouldn't push her luck. After all, him not trying to snog her senseless was quite a rarity, and she was thankful for it.

"Ahem."

Someone cleared his – or her – throat. Hermione cursed inwardly. That either meant they were about to speak, or they had some remains of food stuck in their throat. She sincerely hoped it was the latter. Closing her eyes, she thought silently, Please do not talk… please do not talk…

"Hera."

Sighing, Hermione forced a smile on her face, suppressing her feelings of annoyance. "Yes?" she said, her voice strangled.

Zeus was looking at her in a concerned manner: a frown, his eyes glaring at an angle at her, his brows furrowed. His jaw was working, perhaps on a piece of meat, or maybe he was only mad. His shoulders were squared, and it seemed as though he was restraining himself from something.

"I noticed," he said in a forced calm, "that you and Aries have been spending a lot of time together lately." He cleared his throat once more, his eyes never leaving hers. It was quite unnerving, actually.

Hermione bit her lip, her mind racing for an excuse. Aries – god of war. Was there a war going on? Zeus mentioned something along the lines of a war on the first day of their adventure… what was it? Zeus was drumming his fingers on the dinner table now, waiting for an answer. The longer she took, the more suspicious it would seem.

In a disregarding manner to buy her time, Hermione flicked her hair behind her back and laughed lightly. "Oh, Zeus," she said teasingly, "you jealous so easily."

Troy! Zeus mentioned the battle of Troy on that first day –

"Well, then," he said in his controlled voice, "would you care to explain?"

- but Hera purposely distracted Zeus from the battle of Troy, according to Greek myth. If I break away from Hera's role and bring up Troy, what would happen? She was running out of time. Letting her simplistic smile turn into a frown, she said, "I've heard of Troy's current state and wondered about it." Keep it simple and vague; it should explain enough.

"Oh, yes," Zeus said, his angry expression lifting and fading away. "Troy." He'd seemed to have forgotten about that. Nodding slightly, he said, "Yes, yes; that is terrible…"

His voice faded away into thought, and silence consumed the dinner once more. The silverware clinked against the cutlery as she ate, hoping the silence to last. However, her hopes were to no avail, as, once again, Zeus decided to speak.

"Yes; what is the latest on Troy?" Zeus said.

Had he neglected his entire country that he did not even know what was happening to it? The thought was quite laughable, and indeed, Hermione almost laughed aloud. However, she managed to restrain herself and said in a confined voice, "Nothing brilliantly interesting. However, I must credit Aries; Helen is a work of masterpiece, though I cannot say so much for her husband."

She was reflecting on the myth she vaguely remembered from her youth. Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite fought over whose beauty was most profound. They descended to the mortal world and asked a man and, when he determined Aphrodite the fairest and rewarded her with the Golden Apple, Aphrodite in turn blessed his wife, Helen, with the most magnificent beauty. No doubt Hera resented this, and she used it to her advantage.

Zeus had noticed this comment and he remained silent for the remainder of the meal, and for her, the drama ended that day. But it was not such the case for everyone.

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"Aries."

It was late at night, and Zeus came in all his glory to the god of war, his toga billowing in the gust of night wind. Draco, his platinum blond hair in a contrast to the surrounding dark, turned around, bowing slightly in respect to the god. "Zeus," he said courteously.

Zeus cleared his throat. "There are some… affairs I wish to discuss with you." Draco nodded, prompting him. "I need you to tell me about Hermione."

Draco froze. His heart seemed to have stopped beating and blood rushed to his head. No, he was wrong. His heart didn't stop beating. It was beating so damn fast, so damn hard, that he felt lightheaded and couldn't feel it at all. How did he know? Was this supposed to happen? Did Granger slip up? "I don't know what you mean," he replied stiffly at long last.

Zeus was frowning now. Was he annoyed? What affairs did he mean? Did he mean the fake affair between him and Hermione that they'd decided to start on this afternoon to play to Hephaestus's demands? How much did he know? "Who do you think I'm talking about? What other Hermione is there?"

A pity for Draco that he did not study as many varieties of subjects as Hermione Granger, and his knowledge of Greek mythology was at a limit. All that ran through his mind was, He knows. He knows. Damn it, he knows! How'd he find out? Did she tell? Why, damn it? He knows! "How… much do you know?" he asked hesitantly.

Zeus sighed heavily, getting impatient. "Nothing that matters now," he responded, and his answer was far too vague for Draco's liking.

The anxiety that built up within him lessened slightly – but only slightly. Perhaps she didn't reveal the rest of them. "Well, what do you want to know?" he said tightly, avoiding giving any extra information.

Zeus was clearly irritated by Draco's evading. In an aggravated voice, he said, "I want to know what's her role in this war. I know you plan on using her sometime, Aries."

There. Aries. Zeus didn't know about him yet. The knot in his stomach loosened considerably, but not completely. Her role in this war. What war? Was he referring to the war between them and Hephaestus? Perhaps he'd noticed the little things they've done together already within Hephaestus's line of sight, in which case it would be a war between him and Zeus. But he wasn't using her. Well… not exactly

"I'm not using her," Draco responded. Zeus only looked at him strangely, slightly disbelievingly. "I'm not," he said firmly.

"But you're using her family," Zeus responded.

Draco couldn't understand. And before he realized it, he'd said, "I can't use her family; they already died in the war."

Zeus paused for a moment and Draco realized what he'd just said. He'd revealed a bit of Hermione's life. Horrified by what he'd done, he froze shock still, his heart beating. Fast. Horribly fast. After all, he still didn't quite understand the rules of the matrimony tradition – but he had heard of an heir who was trapped in an adventure after revealing one thing too many.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Roleplay. Pretend. Rules of structure and wisdom that had been passed down from wizard to wizard, and for a good reason. Purebloods needed to be able to act. Hide pain, hide secrets. Act like nothing's wrong. A pureblood's life is entirely acting.

And this, a pureblooded tradition… he doubted it would be an exception. Chances were, besides finding their soul mate, the matrimony celebration was likely to be a test. To see how worthy the pureblood is. To eliminate the laggards, as to keep the keep the pureblood family high and clean. Everything was always a test in the pureblood world. No wonder so many people turned away from tradition and fate, but they were called blood-traitors. They were called weak.

For some odd reason, Draco Malfoy had never noticed that before. He was proud of his heritage and mocked the Weasleys, the most famed blood traitors, often and openly. And while he still could not perceive why Muggleborns were supposedly their equals, he was beginning to relate, caught in a horrible tradition…

"Already?" Zeus repeated, yanking Draco out of his thoughts.

In a desperate attempt to mend over what he said, "Well, not quite." What he said was beyond him, but Zeus seemed to be somewhat satisfied, and that was all that mattered.

"On the verge, then," Zeus said, nodding. "We'll pursue this conversation tomorrow." He then turned to leave, headed toward the grand stone castle that kept Hermione captive. Only royalty resided there.

On the verge? What in Merlin's name…?

"Good night, sir."

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Oh, Merlin. Help me. Save me.

Did not the Greek myths claim that Hephaestus was supposedly the only hideous god? Crippled, they claimed. They said he was ugly! His leg was twisted – that much was certain. But his face… his face, though scarred…

And his eyes.

Merlin. His eyes burned through her, setting her soul on fire in pain and guilt. So much like the time so long ago… Only he could ever look at her that way. Only he could ever hate her so much.

"I didn't mean to," she whispered, her words swallowed by the heavy silence that hung closely around her, suffocating her. Her breaths came short and quick. A hand to her chest.

Merlin, if you could help me… But you didn't help me then, either…

He came back for her. Even as she escaped the confinements of her own home, he followed her in her nightmares, and now, into this imagined reality. She was courting another man, and still, he came.

His presence never left her.

He left his mark hard onto her soul, and she feared it would never wash away, no matter how many times she scrubbed herself until her skin turned bright red.

She could never run away.

Escape or destroy, he told her once. You can run away from your fears, but they'll follow you until you stand up and destroy them.

But she couldn't destroy her fears…

…because she already destroyed him once.

And she would do anything to bring him back.