6. Getting (not so) comfortable
The room was silent and the occupants were hanging their breaths waiting for Silenus's explanation. She turned to Professor McGonnagal and said politely, "I'm sorry if I'm being vague and if my remarks make all of you feeling uncomfortable, but please, let me explain."
"As a vampire I am able to reach certain levels of unconsciousness. Usually, we use this ability to diminish physical pain during battle. However, my magical abilities concerning mental powers are broader, because of my wizard ascendancy." She glared at her audience and continued, "Therefore, immediately after you told me what Severus had done, I connected with his subconscious in order to talk to him."
"Severus told me that Headmaster Dumbledore warned the Council of Elders about what he would have to do. The Headmaster even had sent a memory of an argument he had had with Severus regarding this. . . er. . . situation. The Elders gave their permission to Severus, as long as they kept the memory if things got complicated."
"What is this Council of Elders?", asked Ron.
"They decide the Law of the Realm.", Draco answered quietly, as not to interrupt Silenus' speech.
Hermione released a breath that she did not know she was holding. He was safe for the time being, even if being safe meant to recover only to get back to a battlefield. She noticed that everybody relaxed a lot, only Harry kept a pensive expression, which turned to a determinate one as he stated, "I want to see that memory. . . er. . . if it is possible."
Silenus rose from her chair, went to him and hold his chin turning his head up to her face. She answered in a kind voice, "I understand what you are feeling, Mr. Potter. I'll make sure that you are able to see it as soon as possible." She hesitated, retreated her hand and continued, "I wonder if I could see it too?"
Harry nodded and gave her a reassuring smile, "Of course."
"Thank you." Silenus turned to the group and continued in a pleasant and sarcastic tone, "Now, if you excuse me, I'll talk to Nyx and Zimerah, before they find a way to lock me up and save Nyx's dearest boy!"
At last, they were able to resume lunch, which was still hot, thanks to Ron's Stasis spell.
-- / --
"WOW! They are incredible!", said an excited Ginny, "I wonder if we could ride them? Please Tara!"
"Of course! They are very docile, you just have to pick one.", Tara smiled to her.
Tara and Ginny got along perfectly well since the first moment, as Hermione noticed. Although Hermione felt they were pretty different in some aspects, they complemented each other nicely.
Tara was sweet and kind, but also more austere than Zimerah and Silenus. She had a hot temper, and a tendency to jump into conclusions, but was also able to listen and acknowledge other people thoughts even in hard moments. Hermione presumed that it was pretty much do to their training to be in the army, as Zimerah had explained that all of them were commanders in the Realm Army.
Ginny, on the other hand, was more coquettish, she also was very sensible when listening to people, although Hermione thought that she was still very impulsive, especially in difficult situations. Perhaps both of them could learn from this easy friendship they started.
Hermione was taken from her musings when she finally arrived at their destination and admired the view. And what view that was! They were in a hill in front of a clearing filled with vampire horses. Ginny and Tara had already descended the stone stairs and were picking the horses to ride, Hermione and Professor McGonagall were behind them. The boys and Zimerah were already at the clearing riding the horses.
After their lunch, Tara and Zimerah invited their group to ride the vampire horses. Everyone was excited, except for Hermione who tended to put horses and brooms in the same category, especially if said horses had wings. However, she went with all of them all the same, and made an effort to not complain about the insecure liaison they were about to submit themselves.
Therefore, there she was, seated on the last step of the stone stair reading her Sherlock Holmes book, whilst lazily observing her friends have their fun. Even Professor McGonnagall, well, Minerva – as she asked to be called while away from Hogwarts – was happily riding a brown stud along with Harry and Draco.
Suddenly she saw a bright spot in the sky. It shone like a coin in contact with the sunlight, but it was bigger. Much bigger. It was coming in the stables direction and suddenly it stopped. Stopped? Hermione found herself observing that point intensely. Now it was flying in circles and stopped again. Of course, a horse! A winged horse!
Zimerah had told them that winged horses were kind and tamed like the others, but needed to fly by themselves sometimes. Hermione never guessed that they would actually shine like that one. At least the other horses didn't shine that much. She decided to follow that horse because her curiosity wouldn't allow her to finish the book. After all, she had already read that story.
Hermione stood up and looked at her friends. They were happily riding and didn't pay attention to her, so she followed the spot.
She walked sometimes in circles, sometimes straight ahead. Sometimes she would run to catch up with the horse. Hermione had a feeling that the horse was toying with her, because when she actually fell, it stopped as if waiting for her to stand up and continue their liaison. Your liaison, not mine! She thought angrily.
"Did it hurt?"
Who said it? Hermione looked around frantically, searching for the person that said it. At least she hoped it was a person, a friendly and non violent person. However, there was nobody. Taking a better look she saw that she was alone and away from the clearing. How long have I being following the spot?
"I don't know. But it is fun! Let's play!"
The voice was definitely from a child. A little boy. She looked up and for the first time saw what she was pursuing. It was a big winged horse flying above her head. It came to the ground and stood in front of her, some steps away.
The vision of him was astonishing. He was a winged horse far different from the other horses. His skin was dark grey, and looked like dragon skin. His wings were very big almost touching the ground, different from the winged horse statue Hermione saw at the Realm Castle entrance. His mane and tail were white blond, pretty much like Draco's hair, but it was his eyes that could have given the frightening touch to his appearance. They were blood red with black irises.
Hermione knew that the horse was probing her mind and decided to show her that although he was not a standard beauty, Hermione found him cute and vulnerable standing in front of her with his head bent to the side like a curious child.
"I'm Chimera. Who are you?"
"I'm Hermione. Were you playing with me Chimera?", Hermione answered out loud.
"Yes! I play with Master, but he is ill", he said with a sad tone. "Nyx said he will need seven days to recover."
At her reply Hermione knew instantly who Chimera's master was. Hermione was not surprised at all to know that Severus Snape was a sensitive man, although she also knew that he would rather kill himself than to admit it.
"Do you ride?"
Hermione felt her cheeks become red in embarrassment, "I'm afraid of hights. . .", she trailed off thinking that it must be a weird scene to see. A bushy haired young woman talking out loud to a winged horse with red eyes.
Chimera snickered, "You're fun!", and continued amused, "We all can talk, but only in your head."
Of course, Legilimency. Hermione thought and Chimera responded, "Yeap!"
"Actually, I'm not so much fun, since I don't know how to ride.", Hermione answered good naturally.
"I'll teach you! I'll be gentle!"
Hermione had the distinct feeling that if Chimera was really a boy, he would be grinning wickedly at her in that moment. Against her better judgment, she climbed Chimera.
-- / --
The next day Hermione woke up with a sore back. Chimera was definitely gentle, but Hermione kept holding on his neck and now Hermione's back was having its saying on the matter. Whilst going to the kitchen, she remembered how amused Zimerah was to know that the feared horse liked Hermione. Chimera sense of having fun could be frightfully dangerous in some occasions and because of that, he was feared amongst the horse caretakers in the Realm. Hermione smiled to herself thinking what kind of fun would make the caretakers to be scared, but her smile died as soon as she crossed the lounge.
"You lied to me! You said you would do everything you could to find that memory!", shouted a furious Harry.
"This is my house Mr. Potter and you will treat me with due respect! I'm no liar!", replied an equally furious Silenus, "I asked them, and they said no, it's simple like that.", she finished more composed, arching her eyebrow, pretty much like her brother.
"'Simple' according to your convenience?", Harry answered in a tone that dripped pure venom.
Silenus was taken aback with Harry's ill reply, but remained silent. When Hermione entered the lounge she could see that they were alone. Silenus acknowledge her with a curt nod and left the lounge without saying a word to Harry.
He fell in a cushion disappointed and stared at the floor. Immediately, Hermione sat by his side and asked gently, "Have you considered that maybe this memory will hurt you?"
"Please Hermione, just be by my side this time, ok?" his tone was tired but not unkind as he continued, "Have you considered that I truly need to see this memory, to understand why he had to be killed?"
Harry seemed defeated as he explained himself, but even with a defeated tone of voice and trembling hands closed in fists, his eyes never left hers whilst he slowly finished his point, "Everytime I remember Dumbledore in that weak position, pledging for his life, the image fades to when I saw him fighting against Voldemort in the Ministry. I still can't understand how that man could be enslaved!"
Hermione could relate to her friend's feelings perfectly. First she had to accept that Dumbledore was not so ethical as she always imagined, than the painful sight of Severus' pledging eyes in Azkhaban that haunted her dreams made Hermione decide what to do.
She hold Harry's hands and said with a calm and determined voice, "Give me some time, Harry. I'll help you find a way to get that memory."
For the first time since Dumbledore's death, Harry smiled wholeheartedly.
-- / --
During that same afternoon, after much deliberation and some arguments (thanks to Draco's scanting remarks on Ron's mental abilities and Hermione's strategy), they decided to follow Silenus and Nyx in order to find out any information on the Council of Elders location and how to get the memory. The quest started the next morning.
Ginny and Draco were responsible for entertaining Tara and Zimerah during the day whilst gathering information on the castle's plant. Ron was responsible for following Nyx around, officially trying to get the recipe of her legendary grapefruit pie (a task that he took with great sense of honor), whilst trying to find out if Silenus was able to see the memory. Harry had to come back to Silenus' good graces (which made Draco actually laugh out loud). Hermione had to go to the library and study the Vampire Law, in order to talk to the Elders and convince them to hand the memory (and at this point it was Ginny's time to laugh, unfortunately starting the fifth argument of the meeting).
After a day of hard work they got very few information. Draco gloomily reported that the castle had 145 rooms for nobles, an extension building, in which they were located, that had 71 rooms for the Army members in higher positions and 95 secret passages heavily guarded with blood magic and passwords. Ginny complemented his report explaining that the Elders lived at a mountain located a day trip away, also heavily guarded with blood magic and soldiers specially trained to do their security. She also reported that in order to enter the castle the Elders lived they would have to be accompanied by real vampires – no half-bloods – since they would be checked by their bloods.
Hermione also gave her report explaining that Harry would have to go to three stages on proving his right to see the memory. First he would have to show his physical strength, then he would have to show the logic of his mind and at last he would have to show the purity of his soul, for heart, mind and body should be pure to penetrate the Sacred Soil where the Elders kept their secrets.
Harry was very embarrassed to tell them that he has a difficult time to get a hold on Silenus, because she had to go to a meeting with other commanders of the Army, to report her actions. He was able to talk to her for five minutes and apologized, although she was kind and accepted his apologies, she was distant and very withdraw with him.
In the end, and to Draco positive dismay, Ron was the one that gave the best information – besides the grapefruit pie recipe – explaining that Silenus never went to see the Elders the day before, because she was very busy checking on the injured soldiers that came with her from the last battle against the Nation.
After that it was difficult to hold Harry in their quarters, without Draco stupefying him.
-- / --
The next day, they all woke up in a bad mood. Harry, Ron and Draco had to be separated from each other to prevent a fight. Ginny was angry with their attitude and decided to have her breakfast in Tara's chambers. Minerva took Harry, Ron and Hermione to have breakfast with her in the kitchen, whilst Draco went to Zimerah's chambers.
Hermione's mind was whirling over that information. There was only one explanation for the fact that Silenus didn't go to the Elders. The memory was not with the Elders. Silenus was hiding it. The big question was: Why? Hermione did consider the fact that maybe Severus didn't let Silenus show the memory to Harry, but she seemed to only use the "dreaming talk" when it was something urgent, and besides, she didn't know that the memory existed when they told her about the Headmaster death.
What Hermione couldn't understand was why Silenus would lie to them. Unless Severus was...
"...well, Miss Know-it-all doesn't know.it.wall, does she?", Draco's weak attempt to attack her whilst entering the kitchen, made Hermione come back from her musings.
She honestly considered telling Draco to sod off, but thought better about it. Emotions were running high enough on the table already. Hermione excused herself saying she would have to return some books to the library. She was so focused on getting the memory that she forgot to return them on the previous day.
Hermione could hear Draco's and Harry's shouting whilst leaving the room.
-- / --
The library was silent and dark when she entered. Hermione considered opening the windows but discarded the idea as soon as she heard whispers coming from behind a shelve. Each step she took the whispers became a soft low voice "…don't argue Nyx. It's not time yet. Just put it in the Heritage Room." – Silenus voice she concluded.
Positioning herself behind the shelve she removed one book to get a better view. Silenus and Nyx were near a Statue of Aphrodite talking low. Nyx appeared to be resigned. "The boy has being trying to see it Silenus. He has the right to know."
"I'm not taking his right, I'm delaying it.", Silenus tone was final as she handed the necklace with the Snape crest and guided Nyx to the statue. Nyx cut her hand and droped blood on the statue's breasts. It opened her eyes, looked at them and stepped aside allowing the two vampires to go through a dark corridor.
-- / --
Hermione gathered the wizards in their room, with the exception of Minerva, and told what she saw. Harry wanted to go straight to the library to end this, but Hermione surprised everybody when she spoke:
"There is only one reason for her to do this. Silenus lied. The Elders never had that memory. Professor Snape is still in trouble."
"What do you mean?" Ginny replied curious.
"Silenus wouldn't be able to go the Elders alone. She would need Nyx's blood and, besides, none of them knew that there was a memory, before we told Silenus that Professor Snape had to kill the Headmaster." After some consideration Hermione finished. "If it was a plan so well designed I believe Professor Snape would tell his sister. They seem to be very close…"
She was interrupted by a distressed Draco: "Why don't you forget about that stupid memory! What's the bloody difference?"
"What do you know Malfoy?", asked an angry Harry.
Draco didn't answer. He just left the room without a word.
-- / --
I know it's been forever since I updated! I know you must have forgotten the fic up to now, but I promise this one will be finished. Even if it takes years! Kkkkkkkkkkk
Next Chapter: Down to the memory land
"Of all the stupid things you've ever done, this should be recorded on Guinness", replied a sarcastic and tired voice behind them.