Hermione stirred, still lying in the warm sand which was surprisingly comfortable. She was lying in the shade, it seems and there was something soft underneath her cheek. Her pack seemed to be gone and there were pleasant smells of freshly cooked food wafting all around her.
"Hi there, sleepy head," sounded the pleasant voice of Bellatrix. It took a few moments for Hermione to register where she was. Her eyes opened and she found herself lying in the shade of the pitched tent next to her. The sky above her mimicked a noon sun while Bellatrix sat at the camping stove cooking a meal.
"Hmmm," Hermione groaned. "What time is it?"
"Just past noon," replied Bellatrix. "I woke up about an hour ago. Left you sleeping, set camp but put a pillow under your cheek. You didn't even notice."
Hermione sat up and let out a yawn before taking in her surroundings... which were utterly breathtaking. The two witches were camping on the beach of a pristine and beautiful atoll environment with the green of a mountainous jungle island behind them and the stark blue ocean ahead… though she supposed said 'ocean' was technically speaking a lake. The island snaked around like a ring along a sinkhole filled with almost clear blue salt water. Most impressive yet were all the floating islands: all of them surrounding them on all sides, floating slightly above.
"This is the center island," said Bellatrix after following Hermione's gaze. "You can get a good sense of the cosmology of this place too. And, so far, no monsters or mind-altering fog. Things are looking up."
The wasp was doing much better too, teleporting around from the roof of the tent, to the cooking stove, to the beach ever so often. Zipper was certainly paying at lot of attention to the food. That wasp, it seems, was always hungry.
"Hm, smells nice," said Hermione as she regarded the pot on the stove: beef stew. "And you still managed to avoid blowing us both up with that propane tank."
Bellatrix chuckled. "Don't underestimate me, Hermie," said the curly-haired witch. "I'm not just a pretty face, you know? Here."
Bellatrix held out a wooden ladle with a bit of cooked beef on it. Hermione took a bite and chewed. "It's good."
"Oh, of course it is," she said. Bellatrix seemed a bit distant, however, and her bravado melted like snow in the sun in an instant.
"What's wrong?" asked Hermione.
The curly-haired witch cast her eyes down a bit. "Back there... in the fog. There were parts of me which were screaming at me to kill you. Or to leave you behind as a distraction so I could escape. I..." Bellatrix muttered and Hermione could see the shame in her eyes.
"But you didn't," Hermione whispered.
"You didn't," Hermione repeated, reaching out to caress Bellatrix' cheek. The curly-haired witch offered a brief smile before looking away. "Besides, I wasn't exactly a model of courage back there."
By now, Bellatrix had poured the stew into two bowls and served it to them both, along with a cup of tea. Of course, a hot meal and a hot drink in this climate might be a bit counterproductive, but national pride won out: they were Brits, after all. Together they ate inside the coolness of the tent and spent some time documenting their experiences. It was mostly contained to log entries, as there had not been many photographs or samples from the fog biome to catalogue other than a few scrapes and pictures from the corpse of the one creature which followed them. But they had wanted to preserve at least something of their experiences.
They emerged from the tent barely an hour later. Looking at their surroundings, Bellatrix took out her omniculars for a peek. "How about get some more exploring done?" asked Bellatrix. "We're both well rested and it'd be a shame to waste a full day."
"Heh," Hermione chuckled. "This might look like a paradise, but who knows? We might come across a flock of rabid piranha-poodles."
"Always the optimist," Bellatrix winked.
From their location on this floating island, they got a good sense of its layout. The atoll they were standing on was ring-shaped, wrapped around a large center sinkhole. The best way it could be described was an atoll without an ocean around it, as where the ocean would normally be was instead the edge of the world leading off into the void. The inner ocean gave it a sense of calm, however and the place seemed to be teeming with life.
Benign life, for a change.
Their wasp friend followed them along, having recovered as well. In fact, they encountered more giant wasps, as well as a flock of borses trotting along the shade of the judge. Several cat-like creatures were lazying about underneath the palm trees... or what looked to be palm trees, at least, seeing the shade of green was inordinately bright and the sheer amount of coconuts they bore was staggering. The island was also home to a large variety of colourful birds... birds which emanated a magical glow as they traversed the island, changing colour to match their surroundings much like chameleons. Hermione made sure to gather a few shedded feathers as samples.
Hermione could only close her eyes and enjoy the feeling of the sun and the breeze on her skin: this place was absolute paradise.
For one, Bellatrix was enthusiastically taking photographs again while Hermione was getting more samples of the local flora. Of particular interest were a group of flowers which resembled orchids, but were seemingly leaning into the breeze to always catch as much light as possible. By now, she had gathered so many different kinds of seed pods that she could fill a whole greenhouse with and she honestly couldn't wait to try to grow some of them.
The plan was to make a walk along the inner ring of the atoll to get a good feel of the lay of the land, pitch the tent again on the beach and, after a good's night rest, head inland to explore the jungle. It was about five in the afternoon when both witches came across a familiar sight.
"There's another one!" said Bellatrix as they encountered yet another shimmering wildlife crossing. "That's seven so far."
"Hm," said Hermione after she watched Bellatrix place a conch-beacon near it. "I'm willing to bet that you can get to every single biome from this central island. It certainly explains why there's so many different species of animal walking around here."
The wasp teleported with a crack and was sat on Bellatrix' head, which he usually did whenever he seemed to be getting tired or hungry. At least Trix didn't seem to mind. "Let's finish exploring this island first before we head to another one."
"Perhaps we should try to find one which leads back to the grasslands biome first," suggested Hermione. "So we won't have to pass through that fog biome again on the way back."
Bellatrix made a face. "You sound like you want to go back home."
"I don't," said Hermione quickly. "Not yet, anyway. But it's always good to have a plan. I mean, do you really want to go through that hell a second time?"
"I suppose not," said Bellatrix, looking less than convinced. "I wonder what makes this island so special, though. Or maybe it's just because it's the center one that all the other islands connect to it?"
"Hm," replied Hermione as they stood at the edge of the jungle. "We haven't even scratched the surface. I feel we could spend years here in the Fae Realm before we'll get a complete picture."
Bellatrix grinned at her. "That means... we'll have to return plenty of times." There was an eager glint in her eye when she spoke those words. Eager for more adventure, more exploration, more freedom. With her. Hermione would be greatly lying if she said that sounded unappealing.
"Hopefully better prepared," said Hermione. "We prepared for savanna land safaris, not for arctics, desert or mind-altering foglands. Hell, we're still dressed too warmly for the humidity of this island. I don't know about you, but I'm sweating like a pig. This is not a climate for an Englishwoman."
It was then that Zipper took off and rushed to the treeline, causing both girls to turn their heads. There, sat on piece of driftwood, were three more giant wasps. Hermione looked in fascination as Zipper approached the three wasps, sat down on the driftwood and twitched his antennae. The four wasps started to move in unison, dancing around each other for a moment before turning their heads towards each other, twitching their antennae in unison.
"What are they doing?" asked Bellatrix.
"Communicating, I think," replied Hermione.
All four wasps turned their heads and hopped to face in the direction of the two girls.
"I think Zip just pointed us out," chuckled Bellatrix.
With a crackle, the four wasps teleported right in front of the girls, causing Hermione to start. Though Bellatrix was amused and giggly, Hermione felt rather uncomfortable having four giant wasps circling them. Thankfully, they was not aggressive, but rather as curious and friendly as Zipper was. They seemed to be studying them, and so Hermione made a point to study them in return. Hermione noticed that these seemed to be steady patterns in the way they hovered, the way their antennae twitched and… were they clicking their mandibles together? The wasps seemed to have a very sophisticated method of communication, perhaps even a language. The wasps were more intelligent than Hermione had given them credit for.
Looking closer at the wasps themselves, Hermione noticed that there seemed to be a variation of colour and patterns on their chitinous hides. Of note were smears of luminescent pollen in other places than their legs and it didn't seem haphazardly applied by randomly scrubbing against a large flower. It fact, it seemed to be more deliberate. Was this… decoration? A form of self-expression, maybe?
Bellatrix was taking some pictures. The flash confused the wasps momentarily before they took interest. After taking more pictures, Bellatrix decided to reward the wasps for their time with some food. The curly-haired witch took out yet another one of their largest chocolate bars and undid the wrapper. The smell did immediately catch the attention of the wasps. After reaching into her pack, she took out a jar of jam and started smearing the contents over the chocolate bar with a knife.
"Will you please stop feeding all our good stuff to wasps?" Hermione raised an eyebrow. Bellatrix made a face and ignored her as she held out the yummy treat to the curious wasps. Naturally, all four wasps feasted enthusiastically from the jam-covered chocolate. When their meal was finished, the four wasps seemed to communicate some more. Both girls looked on in fascination as the four wasps teleported up into the trees and moved towards one of the coconut-like fruits. They started chewing at the stalk with their mandibles and, in total unison, held on to the heavy fruit before it could fall to the ground. The four wasps moved like synchronised swimmers as they flew into the air with their heavy prize, moving it to hover above a large rock on the breach. The coconut was dropped and neatly split in two when it hit the rock at just the right angle.
Bellatrix had been taking pictures the whole time, and was just as surprised as Hermione was when the wasps teleported behind them and started to nudge them towards the fallen coconut. The inside of the coconut was not white as expected, but glowing blue. Hermione carefully picked up one half, as did Bellatrix.
"Remember to take some samples. I'm not sure…" Hermione started to say, but Bellatrix had already scooped up the blue glowing coco with her finger and popped it into her mouth.
"It's good," said Bellatrix.
"What are you doing?!" hissed Hermione. "You don't know if that's poisonous or not!"
"It isn't," said Bellatrix. "It feels right."
Hermione was about to retort when she realized that, once again, Bellatrix was simply far better attuned to magic than she herself was and Hermione did, in fact, sensed the magic emanating from the juicy fruit. Perhaps the wasps were trying to repay them for the tasty treat.
"Come on, eat it," Bellatrix smirked. "Don't be rude."
"Rude to wasps?" Hermione raised an eyebrow. "Perish the thought."
The wasps were looked at her expectantly. Carefully, she took a small scoop of the coco and put it in her mouth. Not only did it taste really good, but the magic did have an instant effect. All her senses were seemingly doubled in strength. She could see better, she could hear better. She felt the caress of the breeze as it passed gently over her skin and through her hair. The buzzing of the insects became louder and more intrinsic.
"Whoa," Hermione blinked as her vision become starkly eagle-eyed in such a way that she needed to adjust herself for a bit.
"Yeah," giggled Bellatrix, her Mancunian voice sounding incredibly melodic to her ears.
"We really, really need to bring some of those nuts with us," said Hermione. "If we can grow these back home…"
"Way ahead of you," smiled Bellatrix as she strode over to a few fallen nuts which were seemingly already sprouting. Though she struggled a bit to fit them, Bellatrix managed to gather five of them in their largest sample container.
By now the wasps were pleased that their gift had been appreciated. There was a bit more dance in the air before the three other wasps took their leave to apparently forage some more food along the shoreline, leaving Zipper with the two girls.
"Amazing feeling. Intense," said Hermione. "Only now, I feel even warmer."
Bellatrix perked up a moment, gazing towards the jungle. "Hear that rumbling in the distance?" she spoke. "Thanks to that coco, I now do. And I think that might be a solution to our problem."
Hermione gave her a questioning look, to which Bellatrix smirked and grabbed her by the wrist to pull her into the jungle. It didn't take long for Hermione to let out a relieved sigh as the thick, lush jungle was mercifully much cooler and shaded than the beach they had come from. As the trees stood close together, the underbrush was relatively sparse underneath the thick canopy. More colourful birds had chosen their sanctuary here and Zipper flew in right behind the two witches, but soon buzzing up to go snack on a ripe piece of fruit hanging from one of the trees.
A still grinning Bellatrix kept pulling Hermione forward as the roar was getting louder and louder, a roar Hermione soon recognized as falling water. The source of which became clear soon enough: a large, pristine clear pool of water at the base of a ten meter high cliff which sported a tiered waterfall while, at the base of the pool, several smaller streams led further into the jungle. The canopy was partially broken above, allowing the sun to shine down upon parts of the water. It looked to be deep enough for a really nice swim.
"I was hoping we'd find this," giggled Bellatrix, finally letting go of Hermione's wrist. While Hermione was still contemplating just how beautiful this partially shaded pool was, Bellatrix had already dropped her pack on the ground and was unbuttoning her top. Honestly, it was quite bewildering just how adept Bellatrix was at taking off her clothes, as scant half a minute later, Bellatrix stood on a rock wearing only her silver necklace. Again, Hermione could only admire her sculpted body, long curly hair cascading over her back.
With a whoop, Bellatrix rushed forward and dove into the pool with a resounding splash. She remained under water for a moment, gliding underneath the surface of the water like a dolphin. And when she emerged, she burst from the surface of the water, throwing her hair back as if she was a siren of old.
"Come on in!" Bellatrix beckoned over a with a smile. "The water is nice!"
Hermione swallowed hard, but soon steeled herself. She'd been in this position once before and wasn't going to miss out on having fun skinny-dipping in an idyllic forest pool for a second time. This time, she wasn't a nervous virgin anymore and could hold her own against the amorous Bellatrix. This time, there wasn't a damn monster to interrupt their fun. This time, Hermione started to undress as swiftly as she could and, now unabashedly naked, dove into the pool after Bellatrix.
Oh, it felt so good. The fresh water on her skin was just the right temperature and after hours of traipsing around a rather hot beach, it was just what she needed to cool herself. The magic from the coconut made it feel even more soothing. Her head popped up from the surface and found a smiling Bellatrix swimming towards her.
"See?" Bellatrix smirked. "I always have the best ideas, don't I?"
"Oh, pish-posh, you love it!"
The two girls swam towards each. The water was deep enough for them to swim in, but shallow enough for Hermione to feel her toes touching the silty bottom of the pool. They were still facing each other when Hermione suddenly lunged forward and wrapped her arms around Bellatrix. The two girls giggled and had a bit of a light struggled before they pressed their bodies together and lips were crushed to lips. Hermione swooned when Bellatrix kissed her with a tremendous hunger, feeling her soft tongue circling around hers playfully. The young witch swooned and tilted her head slightly, allowing Bellatrix to deepen their kiss even further. Pleasant sensations which were doubled by the power of the magic coconut.
She felt the brush of butterfly wings in the pit of her stomach. Here, in this pool, being kissed by the girl she loved, Hermione felt completely and utterly content. She felt soft hands sliding over her skin, coming to rest on her shoulders... until she suddenly and unceremoniously found herself being dunked into the water.
A startled Hermione resurfaced, coughing up a bit of water which had found its way into her lungs by Bellatrix' nasty prank. She narrowed her eyes and looked around where her girlfriend had swam off to since. Naturally, this meant war and Bellatrix had to be punished!
Bellatrix had found her way over to the tiered waterfall, and stood underneath it. The plunge of roaring water poured over her, causing the curly-haired witch to laugh in merriment. Hermione showed a wicked grin and swam towards it. The water was much shallower here, only coming just above their knees. Perfect.
Hermione approached Bellatrix from behind, joining her underneath the waterfall. Immediately, she felt the water cascade upon her, threatening to push her down under its weight. "Hush!" she yelled over the roar of the water. "You're mean and I have to punish you!"
Hermione snaked one arm over her waist, hand rising to cup one of Trix' lovely breasts. The other hand lingered on her thigh.
"You've been very mean to suddenly dunk me," said Hermione. "And now you must face the consequences."
Apparently, that was more alluring to Trix than Hermione would have liked it to be, judging from the laugh. Already, she felt Bellatrix' nipple hardening against her palm. Hermione gently started nippling on her earlobe. Her hand slid up, two fingers gently rubbing between Bellatrix' legs before plunging into hotness.
The gasp and the shudder came instantly, with Bellatrix letting out a series of moans with every crook of her fingers. Oh, Hermione was a relative newcomer to the world of physical pleasures, but she was a quick study and learned by doing. The past few days, Bellatrix had only been to happy to teach her or let her use her for practice. Hermione would be the first to admit that she was just starting out, but judging by the way Bellatrix' body responded to her ministrations, she was getting the hang of it. Of course, she probably had a little help from the coconut.
"You're so wet..." Hermione whispered.
"Duh," replied Bellatrix, managing to smirk in between sighs.
"Oh, be quiet!"
Quiet was something Bellatrix wasn't going to be. With water cascading down upon the both of them, sighs turned into moans as Hermione treated her to gentle, rhythmic strokes while kneading her lovely, impossibly soft breast with her other hand. Bellatrix craned her neck back, laying her head on Hermione's shoulder. The young witch took the opportunity to gently trail kisses over her cheek while continuing to pleasure her as best she could.
Moans turned into mews... something which she learned happened to Bellatrix when she was close to going over the edge. Hermione slowed somewhat to give her love some more time to enjoy the moment until finally a shudder went through the curly-haired witch's entire body as she finally died her little death.
Hermione was sure to catch her as Bellatrix was going weak in the knees and having her girlfriend hit her head on the rocks would surely be a poor end to a fun experience. Hermione guided her from under the waterfall and let her slide into the pool where Bellatrix floated for a moment with closed eyes and a rather satisfied grin.
This only lasted a moment, though. Quickly, Bellatrix rolled around in the water, satisfied grin turned into a cheeky one as she raised her hand and wagged a finger at her, her alluring eyes giving her a look of 'come hither'. It made Hermione smile as she left the waterfall and entered the pool again where the two girls first embraced for a loving kiss.
Again their tongues met and again Hermione was overcome with the gentle softness of Bellatrix' exploration and the wonderful feeling of her body pressing against hers. When Bellatrix broke the kiss, she gently whispered in Hermione's ear. "I know just what to do with you, you filthy little witch," husked Bellatrix, licking Hermione's ear for good measure.
Hermione found herself pushed backwards into the waterfall, gently lifted up to be sat on a rock. She was underneath the waterfall again, but this part of the waterfall was much wilder: the water fell over her with more roaring intensity. With the water up to the underside of her ribs, Bellatrix pressed her body against hers after parting her legs for easier access, nipping at her skin on a steady trajectory downward. Hermione groaned when her curly-haired girlfriend stopped at her breasts and gently rolled the tip of her tongue over an erect nipple … and was disappointed when Bellatrix stopped to continue her path downward.
She could hear Bellatrix whisper the words to a bubble-head charm just before submerging herself. Hermione arched her back and let out a strangled exclamation when receiving the first lash of the tongue.
With fingers digging into the skin of her legs to keep her in place, Hermione was subject to a relentless onslaught. Through the distortion of the clear water, Hermione could see exactly what Bellatrix was doing... a mass of curly-hair wafting through the water between her legs like black seaweed dancing in the currents. She threw her head back, into the path of the fierce falling water and grit her teeth. Hands searched for something to grab and found it in the curly black hair.
This did serve as a stark reminder that Hermione still had so much to learn. Bellatrix' tongue traced irregular patterns and mixed speeds, making it hard to prepare for the onslaught of pleasure. And when she felt two fingers enter her as well to work in unison with that merciless tongue, she was well and truly lost.
Hermione panted, trying to delay the moment by doing calculus in her head... anything to distract her... anything to delay what she knew was coming.
It was a fruitless effort.
Waves and waves of pleasure crashed upon her shores. An exclamation of such a volume escaped from her lungs that near them flocks of birds fled from the trees. Her entire body went limp and her body slid into the water, carried by the currents of the wild waterfall. Bellatrix was there to catch her, however, holding her in her arms until her motor control returned.
Hermione smiled at her. A loving smile, she imagined.
"Hm," Bellatrix joked. "Teachers always told me I had a filthy mouth."
"Keep it that way," Hermione managed to say before both girls giggled.
After their rather amorous stint in the waterfall pool, both witches laid out towels on the beach to simply lazy about. Perfectly positioned in the shade of some overhead palm trees, Hermione was content to let her bare wet skin dry while feeling the warm air above her and the warm sand below her. Normally, she would never ever do this, but considering the only other human here was her equally naked girlfriend lying mere inches away from her, she no real problem with this level of decadence. The coconut was still doing its job, though the effect was very slowly diminishing.
"Who would have thought months ago," Bellatrix spoke softly. "That I'd be lying naked on a beach on a tropical atoll in what's possibly another dimension right next to my muggle-born lover after a naughty romp under a waterfall."
That made Hermione laugh. She looked up to watch the rays of sunlight breaching through the palm canopy above. "I'd have to say that the past few months have been completely unreal."
"I've always wondered," said Bellatrix. "I mean, we pure-bloods talk a lot of shit about muggle-borns, I freely admit that. But I wonder if the muggle-borns talk shit about us."
"Hm," Hermione closed her eyes and suppressed a giggle. "Well, you know, I'd like to say I've kept the moral high ground and refuse to play that stupid game of prejudice Olympics."
"But?" Bellatrix asked.
"You bunch of chinless, inbred, stuck-up, infuriating, smug, snobbish, arrogant, condescending, pretentious, vain, inconsiderate, self-centered, patronising, pompous, dishonest, Machiavellian, resentful, overemotional, lazy, narrow-minded belligerents are just too bloody annoying to keep quiet about it!" Hermione exclaimed, turning her head to see an incredulous Bellatrix staring back her her. But when she cracked a smile, the curly-haired witch simply had to giggle.
"We're not that bad... are we?"
"Oh, you have no idea."
"I suppose a lot of the things we say about muggle-borns aren't too flattering," Bellatrix muttered.
"Judging by the things pure-bloods say to our face," said Hermione. "I shudder to think what you say behind our back."
"Pretty much the same, I'd wager," said Bellatrix with a shrug of the shoulders. "Generally speaking, you're lazy thieves riding the coat-tails of the real wizards who had to do all the hard work and endure all the hardships. Or you whore yourselves into a proper wizards' bed to legitimize your own bloodline by ruining another. Not willing to work a day in their lives, just take government hand-outs and attend school for free which we fund through our tax money."
"Heh," Hermione snorted. "That sounds a lot like the things my grandparents used to say about foreigners."
Bellatrix thought for a moment. "Funny you mentioned foreigners. Part of me is foreign blood. Pure foreign blood, but foreign blood nonetheless. If you look at my family, you can clearly see the difference in attitudes towards muggle-borns between the family on my mother's side and my father's side."
"Oh?" Hermione replied.
"Hm," Bellatrix nodded. "On my father's side, the true Blacks, that's where you find all the hardliners. Those who actively despise anything muggle or muggle-born. All for purification of the wizarding race. On my mother's side, things were quite different. They are more... uhm, how to say this right? Subtle? I mean, my oncle Achille really doesn't like it, even when we're just joking around, but he's really only focused on his artwork to bother with society on the whole. Even so, my father's side of the family considers him a bad influence on us. And mum, well, she's mostly just thinks that muggle-borns should be helped to prevent them from becoming beggars, cut-purses and thieves on the street."
Hermione chuckled for a moment. "No offense, Trix, but from what you've told me about your mum, she rather strikes me as being a classic example of a champagne socialist. Someone who might mean well, but actually lacks a lot of understanding about how the people outside of her circle actually live their lives and what their motivations might be."
"You're probably right," laughed Bellatrix. "Still, when you compare attitudes towards blood purity in different countries, you'll find that the UK has the most hardliners. It's generally a bit toned down in most continental countries. And it's completely non-existent in the Americas... which is why uncle Orion has forbidden the three of us to ever go there."
"Sounds like an excellent reason to visit," Hermione said.
"Hah, you decadent rebel," Bellatrix winked. "Still, I wonder why blood purity idealism is strongest in the UK. If pure-bloods are superior, surely they are superior everywhere, no?"
"Hm," said Hermione. "Perhaps it's just less subtle here. Even if people don't talk about it as much doesn't mean the idea isn't there."
"True, I suppose."
"Do you still believe in pure-blood superiority?"
Bellatrix remained quiet for a time. "I don't know," said Bellatrix. "So far I've seen one example of brilliance. But one example doesn't necessarily prove or disprove anything."
"I suppose that's fair," said Hermione. "Still not very nice, but fair."
"I'm not in this life to be nice."
Hermione looked at her for a moment. "Stop acting so tough. You don't have to prove anything to me. I know you have a soft side. You should let it out more."
Bellatrix grumbled. "After almost seven years of Slytherin and growing up in my family, it's something I've learned to switch off."
"I'd like to think that after all our chats and adventures, you've become a bit more open with your vulnerabilities."
She heard Bellatrix shift slightly. The talk was obviously making Bellatrix uncomfortable. "Only to very few people," she finally spoke, her voice almost a whisper. "Hermie, you... you don't have to prove anything to me either."
Hermione turned her head towards Bellatrix. Her curly-haired girlfriend had a bit of an awkward look to her expression. She merely smiled warmly. Perhaps it was time to strike when the iron was hot.
"Do you trust me enough to come back to 1998 with me?"
Bellatrix closed her eyes and sighed through her nose. She sat up and looked away from Hermione. "Not this again… Look, what we share together is wonderful, don't get me wrong? And I realize that you know certain things. But what you're asking me is just too much!"
She stood up now, her pale sculpted body accented by the shadows underneath the trees. "Family is important to me! You expect me to leave my sisters behind?! I'm not afraid of a laughable charlatan with a circus tent!"
Perhaps it was the power of the coconut making her bolder. Perhaps she was just desperate after days of agonizing over it, but Hermione closed her eyes and took the plunge. Hermione rose from her own towel, desperation creeping into her voice. It was now or never, and before she knew it, she blurted it what had been on her mind for days. "Trix!" she heard her own voice cracking as she felt her own breath quicken. "If you go back to 1968, you will have no future!"
All that could be heard was the calm ocean, the breeze rustling through the leaves and both their laboured breathing. Slowly, ever so slowly, Bellatrix turned around to face her… with tears in her eyes. She was absolutely seething. "YOU PROMISED ME!" shrieked Bellatrix with an intensity which made Hermione wince. "You promised me you wouldn't tell me anything about my future! YOU PROMISED!"
Hermione stepped forward, grabbing Bellatrix by the shoulders. "I KNOW WHAT I PROMISED!" Hermione shouted back. "I'm sorry! But I'm desperate! And I'm selfish! Because I love you! That dark wizard you so lightly refer to as a 'charlatan with a circus tent'. He… he will…"
Bellatrix expression was one of turmoil, absolutely torn between anger, sadness and terror. She started pacing back and forth. "I... I can't... I... That charlatan is full of shit! I know that! You know that! He… He can't… He can't be… My... sisters! I... I have to go back! If he's really that dangerous, I need to protect my family! My sisters! "
"Trix," Hermione whispered, eyes red with tears while shaking her head slowly. "If you go back to 1968, your sisters… They… They will suffer for it."
Hermione had to be careful: Bellatrix' reaction to learning the full extent of her future madness had broken her mentally. Hermione would not mention specifics, or even think of them in case Bellatrix was trying to read her mind. But by mentioning just the hurt done to her much beloved sisters even in the vaguest possible way, meant she had struck proverbial gold. It was cruel, yes, but it had to done.
Of course, denial and anger came first. "No! NO!" Bellatrix shrieked in her face after taking angry strides towards her. "It's not true! That's impossible! We are the Black sisters! WE HAVE AN UNBREAKABLE BOND!"
Hermione merely looked at her sadly. "I'm so sorry, Trix."
For a moment, Bellatrix looked at her with wide, searching eyes as if she was hoping to find lies in Hermione's expression. Apparently, she found none when there was a distinct look of disbelief and resignation as the reality of the situation started to sink in. Hermione was upon her quickly as Bellatrix sobbed and sank to her knees. The young witch knelt besides her and held her, quite relieved that Bellatrix didn't push her away: she had, in her opinion, every right to.
"I don't know what will happen to you if you come with me to 1998. The future will be yours to make," said Hermione. "But I do know what will happen to you if return to 1968... and it's not going to be pretty."
"Don't tell me anything more," Bellatrix whimpered. "I don't want to know. I don't even want to think about it. Nothing more than you've already told me."
"I promise," said Hermione, closing her eyes. "And I'll keep it this time. Just remember... whatever happens in 1998, you'll have me. If you still want that, of course."
Bellatrix looked up, a half-smile one her tear-streaked face. "W-why would I not want that?" Bellatrix replied softly. "I... I just need some time to wrap my head around all this."
"I understand," said Hermione as Bellatrix stood up and looked in the distance, apparently lost in thought.
Bellatrix sniffed, shaking her head. "I should have known, really," sighed Bellatrix. "You were always so vague. So evasive. If there were good things in my future, you wouldn't have been. At least… at least we could use the Fae Mirror to travel back and forth, right?"
Hermione bit her lip. "It… It will stop working."
"March next year."
"How do you know…" Bellatrix demanded, before closing her eyes. "Someone from the past told you it will. Of course."
"Your uncle Achille did," Hermione confirmed. "And when the Fae Mirror stops working while you're at the wrong side of it, your fate will be sealed."
For a moment, it seemed as Bellatrix was about to say something when an odd look came over her. She took a few steps forward and peered in the distance, squinting her eyes a bit.
"What is it?" Hermione asked, but Hermione ignored her and kept peering. Hermione tried to follow her gaze to see what she was looking at. And then, she saw it: on the other side of the atoll, across the great water filled sinkhole, a black dot stood out in the distance. It was stood on the beach, having emerged from the jungle. Immediately, Hermione got a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.
"See that?" Bellatrix asked.
"Yeah," Hermione added. "I see it too."
Hermione looked over to her pack to grab the omniculars and aimed them at the black dot, hoping against hope that she was wrong.
She was not.
A hulking muscular beast, a fiery red mane and a large bloodied horn filled her vision as the black unicorn simply... stood there, looking in their direction. Then, it simply turned around and sauntered off back into the jungle, completely out of sight.
"Do you think it spotted us?" Hermione asked, her voice in a quiet hush despite the creature being so far away it obviously wouldn't be able to hear them.
Her face grim, Bellatrix kept scanning the jungle rim. "I'm absolutely sure it did," she responded. "Those six eyes aren't there for nothing."
By the time Hermione put down her omniculars, Bellatrix was already putting on her clothes hastily. "Come on," Bellatrix said. "We've got to keep moving."
"So much for some quiet time on the beach," Hermione sighed and started to gather her own clothes.
Bellatrix snorted. "You call what just happened quiet time? I shudder to think what you'd call tumultuous then!"