Pairings: Cedric/Hilda. Possible Hermione/Jasper
Warnings: Dumbledore bashing, Weasley bashing save for Bill, Charlie and the twins, siding with Voldemort-fic
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter and any of the characters, but the OC characters belongs to me
Chapter Twenty Two: The Forbidden City
Hilda was up extremely early on the morning of September the first.
The sun wasn't even up when she had woken up, and she was careful not to wake Hermione and Padma who were both sleeping in her room on extra mattresses that Ethan had brought in.
It had been arranged with both their parents that Hermione and Padma would both be staying at Starlight's Hall for the remainder of the summer holidays after the party that they had three days ago, with the issues that Padma had with her twin, and Hermione's parents had some dentist conference that they have to attend. Thus, both sets of parents couldn't be any happier that Ethan had an alternative solution to solve all their problems, and will be able to make sure that their children got onto the Hogwarts Express safely.
The clock on Hilda's bedside table currently read 04:45AM, and even as Hilda watched the clock as she pulled on her clothes quietly, another minute ticked on it.
Not a sound could be heard in her room save for the quiet breathing of the two other girls in the room. Even Hedwig was fast asleep on her perch, with her head hidden beneath her wing, and Hilda resisted the urge to crack a smile at this. She had always found the way that her owl slept rather funny.
Quietly, Hilda picked up the black cloak that is draped over the back of the chair in her room, and made her way out, closing her bedroom door quietly behind her.
The lights in the hallways of Starlight Hall were dimmed, but not so much that one could barely see anything. Ethan had made it so that the lights of the hallways would be dimmed considerably during the ungodly hours of the day, and will be turned back on once the customers start waking up.
Ethan and some of the house elves were already awake and busy on the ground floor when Hilda had started making her way down. The vampire looked up from where he is reading the Daily Prophet only to see Hilda already draping the black cloak around her shoulders.
"…Be back in an hour," was all that Ethan said. "I'm serious, Hilda." He insisted, looking at Hilda in the eye. "You have a train to catch at 11AM. Besides, you're gone forever whenever you head there."
"…I know." Hilda said quietly. "My trunk's all packed. Padma and Hermione knew where it is since we've been packing our stuff yesterday. I'll be back soon."
Ethan sighed. "If you aren't back by 9AM, I'm coming to get you," he warned, and Hilda nodded. Without a word, she touched the pendant hanging from the choker around her neck, and she then vanished silently.
Hilda reappeared again near a large stone building with ominous looking stone gargoyles above it, with black iron gates barricading the building and the surroundings, with the small dhampir standing just outside the gates. The place was silent, with not a single sound to be heard, and just behind the stone building that almost seems to be a catacomb of some sort, is a graveyard.
Hilda opened the gates silently before stepping within the grounds of the Forbidden City. And almost like being summoned by her mere presence, beings dressed in black cloaks with silver shackles visible around their wrists appeared, looking as if they are almost gliding over the ground.
"I am here to visit." Hilda said simply, holding up both hands to show that she's unarmed. "I mean no harm."
Looking as if they are nodding, the restraining presences that had surrounded Hilda ever since she'd first arrived disappeared almost immediately. And just like every single time whenever Hilda came to the Forbidden City, she heard a voice in her head.
"No," said a voice from behind Hilda, and bewildered, she turned only to see a solemn looking Ethan behind her with Cedric beside him. A black cloak was draped over Ethan's arm, and Hilda's eye twitched in annoyance. "One more."
One of the Silent Reapers seemed to be surveying a nervous Cedric. An Outsider?
"Yes, but we trust him." Ethan said simply. "He will not be alone. Hilda will be with him." He then held the black cloak out to Cedric. "Put it on." He told Cedric quietly. "They won't allow you to pass the gates of the Forbidden City if you don't."
Cedric nodded before putting it on. Hilda looked at Ethan, annoyed. Why the hell did Ethan bring him here? Even Draco had actually only been here once, and that had been several years ago when they're really small. The Forbidden City is named as such for a reason. It is forbidden by all except for the people of the Dark World—the Midnight Society to step foot in.
It is why they had people like the Silent Reapers as guardians for the Forbidden City, though 'people' is really too kind a word for it. They might be once human, but Hilda really doubts that they can even be called human any longer.
Willingly undergoing the most powerful of rituals and runes to strengthen themselves, and to give themselves the power to act as the protectors of the Hidden World—the world beyond the Veil, the Silent Reapers are the ones that are said to be the closest to stepping beyond the veil of life and death. They are also archivists, researchers, scholars, librarians and medics.
Even still, not even the vampires would approach them unless they had no other choice. That is just how intimidating and frightening that the Silent Reapers are.
"Ethan." Hilda said, annoyed, looking at Cedric.
"He needs to know, Hilda." Ethan said simply, looking at Hilda.
He didn't even have to say anything. He already had a feeling that Cedric would come looking for Hilda in the ungodly hours of the morning that day just because 'he felt something'. That is just how it is with mate bonds. They feel what their mate feels, especially in the early stages when the bond hasn't been finalised yet.
Hilda sighed. "Fine," she said. She then looked at Cedric. "Do you want to come? There's someone I want you to meet."
Cedric looked at Ethan nervously who nodded encouragingly, and he then took a step forwards—beyond the iron gates that encircled all of the Forbidden City. Before he can take another step however, Hilda stretched up on her tiptoes and pulled the hood over Cedric's head.
"Let's go," she said simply before pulling her own hood over her head. Ethan teleported away soundlessly since he had a great deal of preparations to do for the bar that day, seeing as how he'll be away for at least half-a-day, with Hilda scheduled to return to Hogwarts that day.
"So…" Cedric was only brave enough to speak up once he had deemed themselves far away enough from the Silent Reapers who thankfully didn't follow them. "Is it some sort of rule here or something?" He wanted to know, tugging at the hood of the cloak that he is wearing.
Hilda glanced at him as she led the way towards the graveyard. "Not exactly," she said. "It's just that everyone who comes to the Forbidden City must come in black. It is a sign of respect for the rules here, and the Silent Reapers. Black is the colour of battle for the Midnight Society as well. You might notice that nearly all of us wear black whenever we have our Samhain Nights or even Ritual Nights. That's the reason why."
"Oh…" Cedric said, not knowing what to say. "So this place…" He glanced around him.
"The Forbidden City." Hilda said knowingly, knowing what he is going to say. Everyone always asked the same questions whenever they came here. Hilda and Alec have been the ones to bring Draco here themselves years ago when they were about seven. The blonde had been the first wizard that had ever stepped foot in the Forbidden City—a sacred place to the Dark World. "It is sacred to us. And well, as you can see, it is the base of operations for the Silent Reapers, the guardians here. It is best for you if you do not mess with them. Not even we would think of interacting more with them than we ever need to. They generally don't wander out of the Forbidden City, and you are insane if you even think of fighting them." She said curtly. "That's how dangerous and powerful they are."
"What are they anyway?" Cedric asked curiously as they stepped foot onto the graveyard, and he then followed Hilda through it. The mist is rather thick in this part of the Forbidden City, and he is careful to keep Hilda in his sight. "Are they vampires? They sure don't look human to me."
"They are…" Hilda hesitated, wondering how to explain it to Cedric. The truth is that no one knew exactly what the Silent Reapers are. Once one becomes a Silent Reaper, they become that: Silent Reapers. They do not speak another word after becoming one, only conversing through the mind. They are masters of mind magic. "I don't really know how to explain it, but they aren't anything that you know of." She said patiently. "They are a guarded secret amongst the Dark World. They might be once human or vampire; no one really knows. But they're not that any longer. They're the guardians of the world beyond the Veil."
Hilda repeated what Ethan had told her a long time ago when he had first brought her to the Forbidden City after her adoption. The beings of the Dark World, the vampires especially, always made it a point to have their young protected against harmful magic. Hence, for the Dark World, they brought their children to the Forbidden City to be 'baptised' by the Silent Reapers once they're old enough to wield their magic consciously.
"Oh." Cedric has no idea what to say to that. He is well aware that there are many things in Hilda's world that he couldn't understand or know. He is old enough to know that there are laws that prevent the vampires from telling any human about it, and could only assume that this is one of them. "So… What are we doing here?"
"I'm visiting a friend," said Hilda simply. "This is where we honour our dead. It's why the Silent Reapers guard this place." She then led the way towards a fairly elaborate looking gravestone that had a small bouquet of glowing flowers before it. Hilda smiled to herself, pulling the hood down around her face. "Looks like Alec has been here." She mused to herself.
"What are those flowers?" Cedric asked with interest, eyeing the glowing flowers. He had never seen anything like it, and he thought that he had seen most magical plants, as he had often helped Professor Sprout with her greenhouses for extra credit.
"Lumen Flores." Hilda told Cedric. "Otherwise known as Firefly Flowers, or Glow Flowers as is the common name. It's only native to the vampires as it only grows on vampire soil. And even so, it only grows in the northern lands—in Silverstein territory."
Hilda lit one of the candles before the gravestone. In vampire culture, the lighting of candles represents a mark of respect for the deceased, and also for them to find their way to the Gray Road—the road to the other world.
"Hi Eve. It's been awhile." Hilda said in a low voice. There were several moments of silence before she turned to look at Cedric. "Eve has been my first friend—before anyone else, even before I'd met Draco. When Ethan and the Nightwing clan first took me in, it had been Eve who had helped me to settle in. She is distantly related to the Nightwing clan, a third cousin or something. In fact, she has closer familial bonds with Alec than with anyone else. Much like with the wizards, most of the noble vampire clans are all inter related in a way. Alec too is kind of my third cousin, only related through marriage." She added.
Something in Cedric relaxed upon hearing that for some reason. "How did she die?" Cedric asked, and upon seeing the dark expression on Hilda's face, suddenly realised that it might not have been the best way to ask that. "Sorry! I wasn't thinking!"
"Nah, it's okay." Hilda reassured Cedric. "Her death is still a sort of sore spot for us—me and Alec especially, since she had actually been trying to protect us at that time." She admitted. Hilda was silent for several moments. "…I was six at that time," she said at last. "The vampire lords of the four regions were called for a summit, and it was to be taking place at the Silverstein Castle—Alec's home. Ethan and his brother were called there too, and they took me with them." Hilda closed her eyes briefly. "I won't go into detail, but several wizards appeared there—to hunt the vampires. And later, we found out that it is by Dumbledore's order. Until today, we still don't know why he'd made such an order." Cedric's eyes widened. No wonder Hilda had never liked Dumbledore! "Eve tried to protect us. She was the oldest of the vampire fledglings at that point in time, and thus, the only one who could at least fight against fully fledged wizards whilst trying to buy us enough time to escape. She succeeded. But at the cost of her life." Hilda murmured. "At that time, as things for the vampires were already bad enough, the vampire lords decided that they didn't want to risk war with the wizards atop of everything happening. But they made no point to hide what they think of the wizards, and actually warned them that if they should find any wizard on vampire soil, they'll drain them dry. It is why the vampires have never liked wizards except for a rare few after that, and why I've been catching so much fire from the Ministry and Dumbledore when I'd first came to Hogwarts."
"I…didn't know." Cedric said at last, not knowing what to say.
"Wizards have never liked the vampires. We are always portrayed as the bad guys in the history books." Hilda said simply. "Surely the mere fact alone that more than half the school had never liked me must tell you something?"
Cedric couldn't say anything since it is true. His Fourth Year texts last year from DADA had a portion to it dedicated to vampires, and it only made him angry when he'd read it. True, the books are set by that idiot Lockhart, but even so…
"It's just not fair." Cedric said at last. "Ethan, you, Alec, and even all the other vampires… You will never harm anyone. Why couldn't anyone see that?"
"I've stopped asking myself that when Eve had died." Hilda said simply. "There simply is no point. People believe what they want to believe." She sighed, turning around to look at Cedric. "Come on, we should go. Before we miss the train."
It was with a very sombre mood as they got to King's Cross Station.
Hermione and Padma have gotten worried when they've woken up that morning and found Hilda's bed empty. But a quick check with Remus and Ethan have allowed them to rest their minds, though they were of course curious about where Hilda could have gone on the day when they're due to return to school.
Draco seems to know where Hilda had gone when he'd arrived at King's Cross, and just took one look at Hilda, and understood immediately.
As Hilda's long time friend, there are things that he knew about her that the others wouldn't understand. There had been times when Cedric had felt almost jealous or even inadequate, knowing that Draco understood Hilda better than himself. But as he knew that Draco is almost like a brother to Hilda, he could put his jealousy aside.
Almost as if sensing Hilda's sombre mood, Jasper, Neville and Luna who have joined them in their compartment later on opted to play a round of Exploding Snap. Hilda had politely bowed out of the game, and Cedric had declined as well, both of them preferring to watch the others play. Neville and the others who were raised in wizard families have to teach Hermione how to play the game first however, but apart from that, they have an enjoyable time playing the game.
"Ethan told me that you'd gone to the Forbidden City early in the morning." Draco spoke in a low voice to Hilda even as the rest of their friends were engrossed in their game. Cedric who is feigning sleep perked up as he heard the words. "Did you go and…visit Eve?"
"Yeah. It's been awhile since I've gone." Hilda sighed. "Alec has been there too this morning apparently."
"I still remember the first time I went there with the both of you." Draco grumbled. "Some warning would have been nice, you know? Those Silent Reapers guys plain freaked me out!"
Hilda cracked a smile. "Yeah. You screamed bloody murder, and if it hadn't been for Alec, you would probably have fainted." She laughed, and Draco scowled at her. "Jokes aside, they are intimidating. I was scared too when I first met them." She sighed. "Anyway, I probably wouldn't be going back for awhile. Seven years… It's time to move on. And if I know Alec, he will have the same idea in mind too."
Draco said nothing to that. "…I had never known Eve," he said at last. "So I can't speak for her. But Hilda, I know that if I had been Eve, I will want you to live your life. Alec too. You can't keep blaming yourself. She wouldn't have wanted that. I know Ethan had said the same thing too. She is his cousin."
"I know." Hilda sighed. She then decided to change the subject. "I'm looking forward to DADA this year though, with Sirius teaching it. I only hope that he don't annoy Severus too much."
Draco grinned at that. "Oh, that will be a good show," he grinned wickedly. "Anyway…" He lowered his voice even as Jasper let out a curse as he lost again. "I heard from Ethan and Remus about that elf in Hogwarts. Do you need help?"
"I will ask you if I need to." Hilda said at last. "I might need your help though, as it's his maturity year this year." She rubbed the back of her neck. "Anyway, we can go to Hogsmeade this year." She cheered up. "From the stories that the older years told me, it sounds wonderful. I hadn't been to a wizarding village before, so it should be interesting."
"I want to see the Shrieking Shack though." Draco said almost wistfully, remembering the stories that his father had told him about his own Hogwarts days when he had tried to court his mother. It wasn't until their sixth year when Narcissa had decided to give Lucius a chance when he had his head deflated a bit. "Oh, and the Three Broomsticks."
Hilda snorted. "You just want to see Madam Rosmerta after everything that Sirius and Remus have told us," she teased, and Draco blushed.
Cedric who was feigning sleep cracked an eye opened to see Draco spluttering protests to a grinning Hilda, and he smiled. An idea then formed in his head, and he then made a mental note to make Hilda's first Hogsmeade trip a memorable one. For a moment, he wonders if their friends would allow Hilda and himself to go off on their own for a bit.
'Maybe Cho would know what places in Hogsmeade that Hilda would like.' Cedric mused to himself, preparing to go back to sleep as he made a mental note to ask his Ravenclaw friend for her advice on taking Hilda out on a not-so-date date.
Cedric smiled to himself.
A/N: Okay, I honestly have no excuse for the late delay, but I do have many things to do, and not to mention I have graduation to worry about soon! Also, to those who visit my story site, please note that I can no longer afford to maintain the domain name, and thus, it will be shifted to Wordpress. The link is on my profile, under the heading 'Story Blog'.
Anyway, I hope that you like this chapter, and please read and review! Reviews give me inspiration to update!