Eye For An Eye:: Part I:: Ron and Hermione
Disclaimer: Characters from the Harry Potter series belong to J.K. Rowling. All original characters belong to ladykyo and the separatesisters.
NOTE: This story will jump around from pov to pov, so I'll let you know whose pov is being used at the start of each new section/ where the povs change.
Chapter 11: The Long Trip Back
I spent the night in Ron's bed, rather our bed, and we talked late into the night. He told me about growing up with Harold and Ginny, and I shared with him my own experiences getting to know Ginny and fighting along side her. I finally fell asleep in his arms, my head on his chest. I could hear his heart beat and I felt my breath fall into rhythm with his.
Ron woke me with a gentle shake not long after I fell asleep, to my reckoning. My eyes felt grainy, and my body felt weak.
"Ron, what's wrong with me?" I asked, forcing my body into a sitting up position.
"Hermione, I think I've been accidentally using your energy to sustain myself. That's how I live now I siphon life energy off of other beings to fill my own reserves. Between the kisses and the sex, I must have drained you without noticing. I'm so sorry, Hermione, but we have to get moving. I can't travel by daylight. I conjured a broom for you to use. I'm sorry, Hermione," Ron said, getting out of bed and grabbing clothes for himself and me.
"You're not a vampire, are you?" I asked.
"No, I don't drink blood. At least, I haven't so far. I probably could survive like that, but I've never tried. Why does that matter?"
"It just makes a difference. I would not like the idea of a mouth that had drunk blood kissing me. It would be gross, and very unclean. So, you think you drained me without knowing? How do you typically feed?"
"I change form and hunt an animal, or I hunt an evil mortal. The animals usually end up sacrificing their lives for the better cause, but the mortals are typically so overcome with honesty that they turn themselves in, if only to get away from me. However, I keep tabs on every mortal I feed off of, and any that turn back towards their evil ways pay with their lives. It is a rather simple existence," Ron said flatly.
"Are you an animagus? What do you change into? And you kill things and people? A law unto yourself," I said, searching his face for answers.
"I can change into many things. And don't get on me about killing things that deserve it you and your friends are the ones who are a law unto themselves. You said it yourself: you practically have carte blanche in the wizarding world, you and your friends. And I never kill without a reason; the animals bite it because I need them, the mortals die because the world doesn't. Don't get self-righteous with me, Hermione. How many people have you and your friends killed or tortured?" Ron said, looking directly into my eyes.
He had me there. I wouldn't tell him that, though. But it would appear that he was a metamorphagus, like Brenna and Andrea. I slipped the clothes on he had passed to me. I was silent as I thought on what he had said.
"I guess that the whole not drinking blood is a good enough thing for me right now. Where are we going?"
"You need to track down your companions. Preferably Gin first."
"No can do. We have to go through Tonks or the Sisters."
"Brenna and Andrea. They're Tonks' seconds-in-command, and the oldest of those of us who attended Hogwart's together. They should be in Romania or there-abouts now. Once we get onto the continent, I'll send an owl and we can stay the night at the house of a contact of mine. Do you need a basement to rest in, or will a regular room do?"
"A regular room will do, with blackout curtains. We must travel at night," Ron replied, grabbing my hand and leading me out of the room.
We put things aright in the castle and headed out to the greens. Ron handed me a broom and I climbed aboard and kicked off, hovering above the ground while I waited for him to do the same. Instead, Ron put his hands out, palms parallel to the ground and concentrated, and he began to float.
"You can fly?" I asked, incredulous.
"Yes, I can. A neat trick for my years of servitude."
"Can I fly with you? I hate brooms!"
"After all the trouble I went through to get you a broom?"
"Please. You willed it into existence, didn't you? And it probably didn't faze you at all. Let me fly with you!" I was whining, and I didn't care: he could fly without a broom, and I wanted to experience that at least once.
"You're going to continue to bug me about this, aren't you? Alright, come here," Ron said as he held his hand out to me. I lowered myself to the ground and got off the broom as he lowered himself back to the ground as well. It disappeared and I glared at him. Ron just smiled as I took his hand. "Come closer and wrap your arms around me, facing me. Later on, you'll be able to fly with me without being so plastered to me, but for now, best to side with caution."
I stepped into Ron's arms and twined my own around his waist. I closed my eyes as he and I floated above the ground. I felt rather than heard the soft, low rumble of his laughter. I held him tighter as he spoke again.
"Hermione, I promise I won't drop you, I promise. But if I pass out because I can't breathe, we'll both be in for a rude awakening."
"Do you even need to breathe, Mr. Immortal?"
"I don't know the exact limits of my immortality or lack there of. When we separate my soul from your body, it may invalidate the agreement, and I could age just like you. Or I could actually be immortal and everlasting. I don't know, and I used to think that Scáthach just wouldn't tell me. Now I think that not even she knows. That is part of what finding Harold and Gin is about. Outside of that, whether I need to or not, breathing feels right. And I'm sure that you want a living, breathing, hot, hard body holding you, not some immortal stone."
I wriggled against Ron as he started to levitate us over the river that had flooded and left me to his mercies. I laughed. "Something's stone!"
"'Mione, not now, please, I don't think I could take it, and I don't know how it would work in mid-air," Ron smiled and kissed the top of my head. "You may want to close or shield your eyes. I'm going slowly now, so you can get used to flying like this, but shortly I'm going to have to pick up our speed, or we won't get to shelter before the sun rises. When we get moving quickly, the wind could hurt your eyes until you get used to it."
"Will I get a chance to get used to it?" I asked as we lifted higher, gaining little speed as Ron kept his word.
"Yes, Hermione, but please, close your eyes now. Your eyes will hurt if you don't, and at the speed we'll be going at, you may get motion sick. So close your eyes and think things at me. Harold and I can communicate like that now, and I think you and I may be able to. And nothing dirty right now. Just mundane things, alright? I need to concentrate, but your presence will help."
I closed my eyes and I felt the air and wind pick up. I knew that it was us, not the wind, but the most muggle parts of my brain still couldn't accept that it was us traveling that fast without benefit of broom, car, and whatnot. I thought things at Ron, images of my childhood, my years at Hogwart's, my joy at meeting the others, my time with Ginny before she became Andrea and Brenna's favored mercenary. In response, he sent me images and thoughts about Harold and Gin and their youth, images of Harold and Gin when they were joined, and the fistfight he had gotten into with Harold when he refused to marry Gin before a Druid or priest and the resulting hug when Harold explained everything to Ron.
At some point, I fell asleep, or perhaps Ron spelled me, because I opened my eyes and we were in the alleys of Amsterdam. I shook my head and looked at Ron.
"Why are we here?" I asked, still shaking the fog from my brain.
"I sensed someone. Do you know this city?" Ron asked, face worried.
"Yes. I've been here before, on assignment from Tonks. What did you sense?"
"One like me. Belonging to Scáthach and the Don as well; luckily, not one who belongs to Morrígan. He's so close by, but he should be getting inside to the dark; dawn is coming, and it is one of the few things that we fear, after all these years."
"Let's find him," I said, pulling my wand out. "Lucio!" I whispered, and an orb of light appeared above us. "Lead the way. The light will only appear to us. A nifty little spell that combines light-giving qualities with a discretion charm. "
"Very nice. Keep behind me as we search him out. I know that this one is not Harold, and probably not Draconus, but other than that, I have no idea who he is."
"He? You know that this one is a guy? How?"
"All those taken were men; men who were left with nothing, so they gave up what they didn't even know they still had for the chance for revenge. Scáthach and the Dôn are tricky like that."
"Have you met the Dôn?"
"Yes, once, briefly; it is not an experience I choose to repeat. This way."
Ron led me out of the alley and down to the right, down a long hill filled with window hung with various-colored curtains. I knew what they all meant, and my breath quickened in anxiety.
"Ron, if he's in this district, we probably don't want to find him. This is the worst part of the city: what Americans politely call the 'Red Light District'. This is all prostitution."
"Trust me, no one in the Dôn's service would risk being found with a prostitute. It was one of the few things he couldn't tolerate. We're so close. He's over there, I think; he's in the park over there!" Ron pointed and moved more quickly than I ever could have. I ran after him and caught up to see him battling a young man to the ground.
"Ron! Ronald, stop! You'll kill him!" I yanked Ron off the man, surprised at my strength. Probably a gift from Ron, I thought.
The man spoke. "Ronald?! The Ronald of the Celtic Roman wars? Are you going to kill me?"
"No, boy, shut your mouth. Trust me, if you go down that easily, you're not worth the effort," Ron sneered, brushing dirt off his cloak.
I glared at Ron and turned my attention to the boy.
"I'm Hermione, and he's Ron; what's your name?"
"Neville. I'm a mite younger than Ronald, here; I was called by Scáthach during the Irish rebellion against England after my family was killed by British soldiers," Neville said, his brogue thick, although not as thick as Ron's.
"So, Ron is 1500 years old, give or take, and you're what, about 300 years old?"
"350 years, lass. How'd you find me, anyways? I thought you and Harold left Scáthach to find your souls and soulmates?"
"I did find her, you dolt!" Ron pointed at me and groaned, scrubbing his hands down his face. "You may be young, but use your eyes, boy. I found my soulmate, and now I'm looking for Harold. Any idea where he is?"
"I'll tell you, and I offer my residence for the interim, but I'm on my way to Ireland. I felt something last time I was there, and hey, if you've found your ladylove"
I had to physically restrain Ron at that point. I smiled at Neville. "That would be fine. Where is your dwelling?"
Neville took us to a modest yet elegant house, with blackout curtains in every room, yet they looked quite normal. Neville explained that he was a very social creature, and with advances that humanity had made, he could claim illness due to the sun and still have a number of visitors and friends. He showed us to a small, comfy room and Ron and I lay down to rest. We still had the bulk of the journey ahead of us, and the night's travel was beginning to wear on us.
I woke a few hours later, when a whisper of sunshine was peeping under the blackout curtain at the window. I climbed out of the bed and pulled the heavy curtain around it. It was a four-poster that had been modified to accommodate the heavy material of a blackout curtain. Ron slept quite soundly, and I heard the soft rumble of activity downstairs. I shut the door behind me and headed downstairs, in the direction of the noises.
When I reached the source of the noise the kitchen I saw what I guess I should have expected: Neville, in a kitchen darkened by blackout curtains yet lit by artificial light, wearing an apron and offering me a seat at his small kitchen table. I sat down and he set a plate of meat and rice down in front of me. I looked up at him and smiled.
"I have very good hearing, and I figured you'd be hungry. Don't worry, I didn't hear anything you wouldn't want me to," Neville added hastily. He sat across from me and picked up his own fork.
"You eat food, too? Not blood, or energy, or life-force?" I asked, genuinely curious.
"I prefer food, however, if I have to live on it, I have to eat a lot more. Ergo, I only eat for sustenance in my own home. I feed on life-force when I am with others so as not to disturb them. I gather you would be disturbed if over the course of a full meal, I ate nothing and you ate everything in front of you, yet you felt rundown. You see?"
I laughed. Neville was so matter of fact about the whole thing, as if I would just accept everything he and Ron said as gospel. We both dug in and chatted about life while we ate and waited for Ron to rise.
Neville was really quite shy, according to him, but he was learning to get over it in hopes of finding his own lifemate. I told him about my research, and the secret sisterhood I had with my closest friends, and how we mourned the loss of Luna.
"I'm sorry for your loss. But you'll have to forgive me when I say I'm also sorry for the one whose soul she held. There's no way to get the soul back if she's gone. But one thing I've learned over the years is that nothing is ever absolute. I should be dead many times over, but I'm still here. Don't give up hope. Ever," Neville said firmly, putting his fork down. "On another note, don't let Ron drain your energy so much. It will hamper the continued growth of your power."
"I'm twenty-three years old. I'm a grown witch; I'm not going to gain any more powers. That's just not how things work," I said, amused by his perception of me. He may only be 350 years old, but he was out of touch with how the wizarding community did things.
"Because you're completely normal for a witch. All the extra powers you already have, how your friends exhibit a form of metamorphism that hasn't existed for years all very normal," Neville said dryly.
I had to laugh. "You have a point, Neville. I guess I'm not as normal as I'd like to think. But why would I continue to gather powers?"
"You won't necessarily gain more powers, but rather, more power," Ron said as he entered the kitchen. He was slightly sleep-rumpled and utterly gorgeous. My jaw dropped when he smiled at me, and I mentally slapped myself.
"I think you're having quite the effect on dear Hermione, elder," Neville laughed. I blushed, and I sent a quick thought to Ron.
Don't even think about it. You know I find you highly attractive. Don't make a scene I thought at Ron, and his eyes were swimming in merriment.
Ron sat next to me, digging into my plate. I rolled my eyes towards the ceiling and listened as he and Neville conversed.
"We're heading deeper into the continent, to the south. You can join us if you like," Ron offered, looking at Neville as he waited for an answer.
"No, I'd already made up my mind when you two showed up. I'm going to the isles. I think she's there," Neville said, looking from Ron to me. "I assume you have many friends who are like you?"
"Not too many. And with Luna gone, our number is down one. There are only so many men looking for us, ergo there are only so many women holding those souls. I can put the word out once I can get in touch with my friends," I said apologetically. "Once the rest of the girls know the situation, I'll see what we can come up with."
"You can use this place as long as you like, but I'm leaving when the sun sinks next. Lock up when you leave. I'm going to pack," with that, Neville got up from the table and left, leaving both of us curious.
"Ron, was he dodging our questions?" I asked quietly. In part of my mind, I knew that Neville would hear whatever I said, but old habits die hard, so I still whispered.
"No, he answered what we asked; I think we just weren't asking the right questions. Now that he, Harold, and I all know that there is a limited number of you lot, any hint that one of you is gone, the one who holds that specific soul, is disheartening. He probably just wants to make sure that his soul isn't lost," Ron said, finishing my plate.
I glared at Ron. "That was my breakfast, Ron. I was really hungry, you know."
"Are you that upset because I ate your breakfast, or are you upset because everything is moving so fast? You wanted to come along with me. If you don't want to come with me, let me know, and I'll set you along with Neville as your escort," Ron said slyly, cutting his eyes to me.
"You know better than that. I'm worried about how Gin will take this. She's always conducted herself as if she were alone in the world. Now that both you, her brother, and Harold, her husband are both alive and well will change things for her. I won't make any promises on her behalf because I can't keep them!" I shouted in frustration.
"I'm not asking for promises. I just want you to try. That's all. Don't be angry. Now tuck in, so we can leave when Neville does," Ron said tiredly.
I got up and walked over to the food service, filling my plate again, in case Ron was still hungry. I couldn't see why Ron wanted to leave with Neville. Neville was going in a completely different direction than we were. It would be nice to take a breath before we moved on.
"We need to leave when Neville does because Harold is still moving. We need to catch up with him. On top of that, the Horde is casing this house as we speak. We can move before they can, and we don't want to be here when they arrive," Ron said sternly, reading my thoughts.
"Have you fought them before?" I asked, forking food into my mouth as I spoke. Rude, but efficient.
"Yes. Every battle has been bloody and messy, without any sort of permanent resolution. Morrígan and the Llyr won't be happy until Scáthach, the Dôn, and all the warriors they created are gone. People die in these battles, even the ones like Harold, Neville, Draconus, and me," Ron said bitterly, standing up and walking towards the door that led to the rest of the house.
"Draconus?" I asked carefully.
"Now known as Draco. A Roman taken by Morrígan, without a thought to how we Celts would feel about the thing. He was a member of the regiment that was tracking my village. In fact, he probably killed one of my brothers himself."
"We have to find him, help him find his soul."
"I know. Now finish eating so we can leave."
I know we have to help that bastard, but does she have to sound like we should be happy about it? I mean, he's a fucking Roman, for hell's sake. They were so resourceful when they were systematically raping, pillaging, and burning our villages why can't he find his soul on his own?
I went up to the room we had shared, but we hadn't brought much with us, and we hadn't made a mess, so there was nothing for me to do there. I turned and headed for the direction from which I heard Neville's movements.
Neville was packing things away into sturdy boxes when I found him. After a box was filled, he concentrated on it and it disappeared. I smiled as I noticed the sweat on his brow before I spoke.
"I was wondering when I'd find someone with the power of translocation. I can conjure out of thin air, but this I haven't seen in ages. Literally," I said, grimacing at my age, even in regards to one like myself. I thought about it, and I had pretty much figured that Harold, Draconus, and I were the oldest left. Neville was ancient to Hermione, but to me, he was a child, not even an adolescent by our standards.
"I know you think I'm a fool, turning you down to go off on my own, searching for my soulmate all by myself. But you know, I'd have to make a life with her myself, so I think its better that I find her on my own," Neville said, looking directly at me.
"No, I know you're a fool. We're all fools, the men who made the deal with Scáthach. I want to help you, Neville. Once Hermione and I speak with the others of her sisterhood, I'll contact you. I know which direction you're heading in, so I'll be able to find you easily. And you've already said you wouldn't give up on hope of finding your soulmate, so I think you'll have some measure of success. We'll be leaving when you leave the Horde is preparing to attack here," I said, helping pack up some of the boxes.
"I didn't even know. I'm glad you showed up. I would've ended up as fodder for them if you hadn't come. I'm sorry that I won't be going with you, though. I've never met the elders before," Neville said with a grin.
"Don't call us that!" I groaned. "We're not old men, you know! We've just been around longer. Show some respect."
"Sure. The sun's down in about an hour. Be ready to leave then. We can head out and cross paths, weaving a few times to throw the Horde off. Then wait a few days before you contact me. Keep me in the loop, brother," Neville said, returning his attention to his packing and translocation.
I nodded and headed back towards the kitchen, where I knew Hermione would be waiting for me.
"'Mione, we're leaving in a few hours. Rest, get ready, whatever. We'll be doing a cut-and-back plan, to throw off the Horde. It is a good thing I can fly with you. Your broom wouldn't have been fast enough," Ron said as he entered the kitchen, presumably after speaking with Neville.
I smiled smugly. "Yes, it is a good thing you can fly with me, isn't it? Its such a shame I put up such a fight about the whole thing," I laughed finally, tweaking his nose. I walked past him to our room.
"Are you packing?" Ron asked, suddenly interested.
"No, there's nothing to pack. I was just going to sit chastely in a chair by the window, fearing ravishment by a handsome, redheaded old guy."
"I am not old. And you should start that 'fearing' now, poppet," Ron said as he lunged at me and threw me over his shoulder before I could even blink.
"What is this, 'me Tarzan, you Jane'?"
"Yah, but I'm open to suggestions."