Minerva felt Hermione long before she saw her step through the door of Trickle's Coffee and Tea. She shouldn't have been surprised that Hermione had shown up for their monthly meeting, after all, she was here; but it didn't negate the fact that she had been surprised to see Hermione. At once, brown eyes leveled upon hers and she felt her heart skip a beat before tamping down her innate reaction at seeing a healthy Hermione staring back at her. "Good morning, Hermione."
"And to you, Minerva." Hermione stopped opposite of her.
"You are looking far better than the last time I saw you," Minerva stated as Hermione drew out a seat.
"And you tireder," Hermione gently relayed while sitting, "things at Hogwarts going alright?" She asked, concern lacing her tenure, "Or has something else happened at the Ministry?" A partial smile passed her lips, "I haven't been asked to assist with anything past my usual duties the last few weeks, as Kingsley wishes to ease me back in."
"Of that, I must admit to being relieved to hear." Minerva permitted a smile to flutter over her own face, "With regards to your previous question, I fear Hogwarts has kept me rather busy the last month." She continued on, the truth covering what could not be, "Nothing more."
Hermione's momentary doubt at Minerva's statement was waylaid by Elaine's timing, "Hermione, I was hoping you'd meet the Headmistress. It is so good to see you up and about," Elaine continued gushing, "you had us real worried." She leaned down, voice dropping conspiratorially, "Even the Headmistress last month." Blue and brown eyes slid to green ones and Minerva expanded on Elaine's statement.
"I was here."
Hermione breathed in as she realized why, "Our monthly meeting." Her voice trailing off, as a flash of an unfamiliar face jolted from her memory.
"If you could bring a pot of green tea, some honey and two biscuits, Elaine." Minerva stated kindly, having noticed the way Hermione's mood had sharply shifted. Elaine cheerfully agreed, unaware of what was transpiring as she turned, humming some forgotten tune. Minerva, reached out, hand coming to rest atop of Hermione's, "What is it?"
Brown eyes jerked back to green ones, "A face," she murmured, "and I think he spoke to me." She closed her eyes desperately trying to recall the fragmented thoughts, "I…" she shook her head, "I don't remember."
Minerva inched forward, "Do you recall what he may have looked like?"
"Not specifics, rather shapes. His face was oval, eyes diamond and sparkled as if the light had refracted…" Minerva immediately withdrew her hand, back becoming straighter, "off them. Minerva, do you know who this was?"
"Rather what, Hermione." Minerva swallowed her personal unease at the topic that would undoubtedly ensue, "A vampire."
"There haven't been any confirmed vampire sightings in…" Hermione thought back to Binns' class and felt her brows furrow as she tried to reconstruct the factoid, "three almost four centuries."
Minerva nodded, careful not to give the exact year amount; but one she knew far too well. "Quite, and it bodes ill if they are wishing to return to the Isle."
"Why?" Hermione accepted the cups of tea and pot as Elaine placed their biscuit plates in front of each, "I've never understood why there aren't any vampires living in England. I mean, I read about the war back in 920 A.D. but I'd have thought that they and wizards would have settled their differences. Especially as the wizarding world accepts, begrudgingly, werewolves."
Minerva didn't immediately respond, her long fingers gently twirling her cup in a lazy circle. How do you respond to something so profound? So close to the heart? So personal? "I believe…" she finally began clearing her throat to eliminate the emotion that wanted to creep into her voice, "there are vampires whom do live on the Isle; and have met some throughout my life. You'd never know they were vampires, and comport themselves as normal witches and wizards." She brought her reserved gaze upwards, "However, the war was not against vampires as a species; rather those who believed in a form of superiority."
"Superiority because they were vampires?" Hermione frowned, "I have never read anything…"
"There were not many survivors of the war," Minerva answered the percolating question, "and history noted the event but if you recall the details are scarce."
She swallowed her bite of the sweet tasting biscuit, "Then how do you know?"
"My family," Minerva answered, "fought in the war, and there are journals from the time."
"Why have you not had them published? The scholarly aspect alone would be huge, let alone what insight it would give to modern day relations and if there really is a problem with a group of vampires, what that problem is."
"They are personal journals, and contain their heartache and also the horrors of the time; and while I have read them, I would not wish to betray their memories by having the world read their struggles."
"Surely, they aren't…"
Emerald eyes flashed with underlying steel, "They are," Minerva breathed, "and I won't have it."
"But that's how you knew the images, shapes I stated related to vampires; isn't it?"
"There is a rather distinct description detailed in the notes regarding some of their characteristics, but the one that is pertinent is the diamond attribute of their eyes."
"Why? Isn't that an attribute of all vampires?"
"Only those that feed upon magical creatures."
"I don't understand how that's relevant. Everything I remember pertaining to vampires is their inability to eat normal food; their diets mainly consisting of blood, raw meat and water. They also could only be killed if their head was severed from their body; extreme blood lost; or if something occurred to remove and destroy their major organs. The killing curse doesn't kill them as they are partially or mostly already dead; which never really made sense as their organs remained functioning."
Minerva almost replied without thought as the knowledge was as familiar as transfiguration, if not more so; but she reconstructed her thoughts and subsequent response while reminding herself that her base instincts were skewed when pertaining to Hermione. And would be for the foreseeable future after recent events. "From what I've been able to glean, what you described would classify characteristics of a traditional vampire, whereas, the diamond vampires solely ingest blood of magical creatures, witches, and wizards. And unlike traditional other wizarding persons, they were able to last much longer in a duel and as they've ingested large quantities of magical blood, sinew and other aspects; their reserves were said to have been far greater. Additionally, it was stated in one journal; some of the diamond vampires had ingested so many magical creatures and persons that they no longer needed a wand to cast spells. The war eliminated most of the vampires this side of the Isle; as it was a collective effort of wizards, witches, and vampires; including both wizarding and muggle ones, to defeat the diamond vampires."
"Do you think…" she remembered her scar across her back, "I was bitten?"
"If a diamond vampire would have bitten you, Hermione, you would never have woken up. They would paralyze you, and slowly drain your blood over the course of several weeks."
Hermione narrowed her eyes as she withdrew her wand and with practiced ease, she cast a silencing spell upon them. "That sounded more like the voice of experience, and not literary knowledge."
"I do have some knowledge pertaining to vampires; either way, I am comforted in knowing that you are well."
Their conversation began to shift, Minerva steering it away from vampires and towards the progress Hermione had been making in attaining equity across magical creatures and wizarding persons. Another hour passed, and Minerva found herself standing – Hermione joining her.
"It has been lovely this afternoon, but I need to return prior to dinner in the Great Hall." Minerva said while dropping several sickles onto the table.
"I believe it was my turn," Hermione mildly admonished as Minerva tucked a small satchel back into the depths of her robes.
"Next time," Minerva assured her as they began walking out of Trickle's, "as I stated previously, it is wonderful to see you about."
Hermione waited until they had stepped off the main part of Diagon Alley before responding, and she laid a hand upon Minerva's arm. "Regarding that," she waited until Minerva turned to her to continue, "the last thing I remember before losing consciousness was…"
"An old witch's nonsensical musings," Minerva interjected, "which I shall ask that you forget they were ever uttered aloud."
"I can't," Hermione countered, "and won't." She stared meaningfully into emerald eyes as her voice dropped a full octave, "But that wasn't what I wished to speak of, rather after I lost consciousness."
"I stayed with you for about twenty more minutes…"
"Did you…" Hermione swallowed her nervousness aside, her desire to know what had happened far outweighing any other feeling, "cast a spell or do something that night to save me?" Perhaps it was luck or that she knew a small measure of the woman opposite, but she immediately saw the flicker of hesitation pass across refined features and she knew the truth without Minerva's statement, the words quietly falling from her lips, "You did."
Minerva shifted her head to look away, not able to see the multitude of emotions pass across her face. "Do not ask me for the details, Hermione." She forced her gaze back up to meet the younger woman's, voice thickening as she added. "I beseech you."
Hermione was truly and utterly torn, mouth hanging momentarily agape as she struggled with Minerva's request. "I…" she shook her head, tears instantly pressing against her eyes, "Merlin Minerva, I can't…because I need to know what you did." Her voice barely coming out in a whisper as she continued on, "If for nothing else than my own sanity, as I feel compelled…" she leaned closer to Minerva, relishing the heady scent of ginger, mixed with lemon; "to follow you to Hogwarts and join you in your bed. I've always known there was an attraction between us, but…the draw has become incessant." She breathed across the shell of Minerva's ear, the painful truth being ripped from her soul. "And I can't stop various images of you from invading my thoughts no matter how hard I try; as I am married to Ron but Merlin Minerva," she pulled back, heart pounding in her chest and blood thrumming through her veins, "I want you."
a/n: As always – hope you enjoyed.