Author note: This is something I came up with as my Buffyverse muse is currently on strike. I hope you will enjoy it.

The Harry Potter timeline has been moved by ten years (2001 being Harry's first year in Hogwarts in this story) to better mesh with the Rosario + Vampire manga start around 2004, as the R+V universe is more technology-dependent.


Summary: The Occident and the Orient often have different ways of handling things. When this concerns the British Wizarding World and the Japanese Yokai, things can get interesting, in the Chinese meaning of the word. Hermione-centric, merged AU.

Fandom I do not own anything of:

- Harry Potter

- Rosario + Vampire (manga)

- Jurassic Park (comes later in the story)

While the universe is not directly used as a crossover, some concepts of 3x3 Eyes will make their apparition in this story.

Rating: FR18

"Now Hermione, the treatment for this is not very complicated but it is slow. The partial animal transfiguration has to be undone progressively using a mix of spells and potions to make sure you do not suffer damage," said Madam Pomfrey.

The catgirl sitting on the bed nodded, sniffing. At least she wouldn't stay stuck like that. A short time ago, she had been readying for an infiltration mission in the Slytherin dorms. The goal had been for Harry, Ron and her to discover more about the Heir of Slytherin and hopefully discover how to end the whole mess with the Chamber of Secrets. Except she had made a mistake. While the Polyjuice had worked perfectly for Harry and Ron, allowing them to transform into Crabbe and Goyle, the hair she had retrieved from Millicent Bulstrode had not come from the girl, but from her cat. Polyjuice was not made for cross-species transformation and the victim ended in a hybrid – and potentially biologically defective – state that, contrarily to a same-species transformation, would not revert after the end of the potion's effect.

So, here she was, feeling very uncomfortable. Her fur was itching in the worst way against her robes and the changes to her other senses were making her dizzy. She had trouble concentrating and she didn't trust her reaction if someone did something like dangle some yarn in front of her or worse, scratched her behind the ears.

"Can we start? I'm… before I do something cat-like?"

"Of course," replied Pomfrey while taking a potion vial out of a cupboard. "Professor Snape will need to brew your treatment but this will already help you by neutralizing any ongoing effect of the Polyjuice that may remain. Once you have drunk it, I will cast a few spells to help it along."

Hermione gulped the vial without hesitation, ignoring the foul taste. She had no intention of spending a second more than necessary in that state. She lay back on the bed, refraining from swearing about the whole tail issue and particularly about how sensitive it was. Instead, she tried to remember what the potion was doing. It was probably some kind of general antidote that helped neutralize any potion that could have been in her organism. The spells Madam Pomfrey was now casting looked more like dispels of some sort, targeted on some key points. She could already feel the strain they caused on her magical core…

She screamed, arching her back as black geometric patterns tinged in purple light appeared on her skin. She could not see Pomfrey starting to panic as this unwanted reaction, nor could she observe herself, which would have probably let her analytical mind deduce that the patterns on her body looked distorted, forced into a corrupted shape. All she could do was continue to scream as the patterns shattered with a crystalline sound.

The pain receded, just enough for her to catch her breath. Feeling a metallic taste in her mouth, she managed to turn around and heaved. She vaguely felt her skin starting to flake, the fur the Polyjuice had given her falling apart but she didn't have time to wonder about it. She let out another scream as she felt the bones of her face rearrange themselves, the feline muzzle turning back into something more human, her ears migrating back to their original position. She barely managed to spit out her semi-feline teeth as they were pushed out of her jaw, replaced by new ones, not that those were any less sharp than the cat ones.

She could feel her tail ripping itself apart, her nails being forced away, replaced by new ones like her teeth. She clawed at the bed, not realizing that the pointed nails were gouging through the mattress as if it was tissue paper. A last bit of pain finally erupted from the top of her head and she managed to pass out.

Albus Dumbledore was looking at the… girl sleeping. A few minutes ago, his phoenix familiar Fawkes had started to panic and the school wards had reacted to an immense amount of a very peculiar kind of dark magic. The kind that usually went with creatures like vampires. All the school house elves and the ghosts had felt it as well. Some of the former had come to peek, whispering about the Ancient Ones while the latter…

Well, the reactions of the House Ghosts were interesting to say the least.

The Fat Friar had signed himself profusely before saying he would try to fetch his old exorcism kit. The Grey Lady had not said much but Dumbledore had little doubt that she knew exactly what Hermione Granger had become. Sir Nicholas... had not been able to say anything, unfortunately. He had been one of the victims of the attacks of those last months and currently laid petrified in a nearby room. No doubt he would have been worried at the idea of her rooming with his Gryffindors. The most interesting reaction had been that of the Bloody Baron, who had told him she should be re-sorted. From what Dumbledore had managed to decipher of the ancient Saxon dialect the Baron used when he grumbled, he had said something about bringing back some true nobility in Slytherin… which left little doubt that the Baron knew exactly what Hermione was, too.

Thankfully, the students and most of the teachers just felt some unease for a moment… Miss Lovegood excepted.

The first year Ravenclaw was, according to the portraits, even more agitated than usual. Given what just transpired in the hospital wing, he could not fault her, particularly if she had the Sight as he had been led to believe. He could count on one hand the occasions where a member of this species had been seen in Britain since the time of the Roman Invasion.

I wonder…

He had known that there were some inconsistencies in Hermione Granger's background, particularly the fact that her maternal grandfather was completely unknown. He had sometimes wondered if the girl's mother was not in fact a squib born from an affair between a wizard and a muggle. Pureblood sons being a little… adventurous before they settled in their arranged marriage was certainly not unheard of. Could it instead have been that 'man' he encountered forty years ago as part of his duties with the International Confederation of Wizards?

"Albus… what is she?" asked Pomfrey. "I mean; she cannot be…"

They were both looking at the two most obviously inhuman traits Hermione Granger now sported. Both were situated on her head. The first was a pair of small golden horns coming out of her bushy hair. The second was the third eye in the middle of her brow.

"In the British Isles, we would call her race Fomorians, Poppy… make sure she stays asleep for now. We have no idea how this may affect her personality."

"We cannot keep her like that for long."

"No, we can't. Thankfully, there is someone I can contact who has a lot more experience with all sorts of creatures than I do."

Tenmei Mikogami, headmaster of the Yokai Academy, was relaxing in his quarters. This place was one of the few where he discarded the white monk robes people had come to associate with him. Not that he was really a monk, a priest or even Christian, despite the crosses he often used and the friends and contacts he had among the priesthoods of various religions. His garb had been chosen with care to not match any monastic order in any significant way, something his Jesuit friend had helped him to put together when he created this public persona. Some of his female friends had flat out told him that it was a shame that he hid such goodness under loose robes.

He lifted his head, abandoning his reading as he felt something come through the school's wards. He wondered briefly if one of his spellcasting students had played with summoning again but his usual, slightly sadistic smirk turned into a sigh when he noticed the red and gold bird who had just landed on the handrail of the balcony. He toyed briefly with the idea of letting his youki flare a little bit, just enough to see the phoenix squirm. He let the urge pass. He had spotted the letter the bird was holding in his beak and got up to open the balcony's French door. He had a good idea of who this bird belonged to. Even though they disagreed on quite a few points, they respected each other.

"Fawkes, I presume?" he asked, extending his hand.

The phoenix let the message fall into his hand. It was rather obvious that the magical bird was rather unhappy to be here, probably knowing that he was in front of one of the few beings that could permanently kill him. Tenmei just read the message. As he had suspected, it was from Albus Dumbledore and it said that one of his students just went through a very unexpected evolution. The message also included a small family tree of said student which pointed quite bluntly at a certain hole in the child's lineage.

"Danielle…" he said with a smile as he noticed the maiden name of the girl's maternal grandmother. "Guess that million-to-one chance was a nine out of ten in the end," he added, paraphrasing one of his favorite authors.

He looked at Fawkes who was obviously waiting for him to state his intentions.

"I know you won't like it, but can you transport me to Hogwarts? This is important," he asked to the phoenix.

The bird trilled affirmatively.

"Give me a few minutes to gather a few things."

He went to his study and filled a satchel with a few emergency tools, before redonning his robes. It would have to do, at least until he could bring her back to the school for more thorough exams.

Hermione woke and wondered briefly if this was how a hangover felt. She remembered Madam Pomfrey starting the treatment to rid her of the effects of the Polyjuice and then… nothing. No that wasn't exactly true. There was some kind of ludicrous nightmare where she was wrestling with a monk in white robes who called her Mina-chan.

As she raised her arm to rub her brow, she interrupted the move to look at the bracer around her right wrist. It was made of silvery links maybe an inch long, each inlaid with a golden cross. The links formed a chain going thrice around her wrist and the ends were closed by a small padlock. From the way it snugged around her wrist, the only way to remove it without breaking it was to open the padlock.

It was then that she noticed another thing. The bedroom she was in wasn't in Hogwarts. She was quite used to the castle's medieval stones and what she was seeing around her was different. The walls and the furniture were gothic, but more in a nineteenth century Romantic interpretation of the term. There were also several modern appliances like the digital alarm clock on the nightstand, the electric lamps and the hi-fi system next to the desk.

Nearly noon… if that clock is on time.

She got up slowly, noticing she was wearing a white shirt designed for a man a lot bigger than herself as a nightshirt. Well, not Hagrid big, but definitely in the tall and broad shoulders department. She blushed as she realized she wasn't wearing anything else.

Wait… where is the fur? The tail?

Noticing that one of the bedroom's doors seemed to give on a bathroom, she rushed there and looked at her reflection. Her face was… mostly human. Shaking, her hand went first to the small conical, yellowish growths she could see pointing out of her hair. Touching them, she realized they were attached to her skull. But, as disturbing as the fact she now had horns was, the main offender was her eyes. All three of them were staring at her form her reflection in the mirror. The golden irises were not that bad but the third eye in the middle of her brow was another matter.

She screamed, hoping to wake up in Hogwart's hospital wing after another nightmare. She let herself fall on the ground and sat against the bathroom's wall, face in her knees. She sobbed, not wanting to think about the tears she could feel coming out of that eye that shouldn't be there, not wanting to think about the fangs she could feel against her lower lip.

"Granger-san?" said a voice coming from the bedroom.

She continued to cry, not wanting to let anything distract her of getting into some comfortable numbness. When she felt arms hug her, she didn't even look up and just cuddled against the person's chest, barely noticing that the person was female.

"Here… I won't tell you it's all right," continued the person as Hermione noticed she spoke English with an accent. "It's a huge change you have to go through but it will be all right."

"All right? How? How can it be all right? I cannot…"

"There are techniques we will teach you, techniques to take a human appearance. Here, look!"

The woman lifted Hermione's chin. She was human, maybe in her late twenties, with sandy blond hair, blue eyes and glasses. She was also smiling gently at her but suddenly two locks of her hair changed shape, becoming cat ears while her eyes' pupils became slits. Hermione looked at them, her mind taken away from the fear, from the grief about her lost humanity. She watched as she saw them morph back into human features on the woman's face.

"I'm Miss Nekonome. I'm a teacher at the Yokai Academy in Japan, where you are now."

"What happened? I…"

"I don't know all the specifics. The headmaster brought you here two days ago, saying there was a problem with a potion while you were in Hogwarts. He has been checking on you, making sure your… changes would not cause too many problems. Unfortunately, he had to go away today, so he asked me to keep an eye on you. I will tell you what I can but for the rest, you will have to wait for the headmaster to come back, tonight at latest."

"'kay… I'm some kind of demon?"

"It depends what you mean by that. If you mean that in a Christian way, then the answer is: hell, no!" replied Miss Nekonome with a smile.

She could not help but smile a little bit at the woman's slight outburst. She wiped her tears, also remembering to dry her third eye.

"Right… so what kind?"

"I will answer this last question but you should take a shower after that. Then we can discuss more while we eat. That's all right?"


"Good. You will hear that your species is called by many names like Kishin, Rakshasa or Fomorian. You may already know the bad reputation attached to some of those names and yes, some members of your species were serious jerks. But you're a sentient creature. No matter what your instincts tell you or the affinity of your species with magics of death, darkness and destruction, you have a choice. Always remember that you have a choice, Granger-san, and prove the legends wrong."

Hermione raised her head. What the cat woman had said was right. Even with these changes in her body, she was still Hermione. She had already dealt with one life-changing experience when she learnt that magic was real and it didn't fundamentally change what she was. She was a girl with a love of knowledge, maybe a little bossy sometimes… though with Harry and Ron, it was for their own good in her opinion. They really needed someone to tell them to do their homework. She might be a demon but she would not be a monster.

"Thank you," she said as she got up and looked at the shower.

"One last thing before I let you shower: do not try to remove the chain around your wrist. You were not raised as a Kishin and you have no idea how to control your innate magic. The chain partially blocks it, meaning that you will have to make a conscious effort to activate it."

"I… I think I would have loved to have something like that while younger," she replied as she held her wrist in front of her face. "Some of the accidental magic I did was… embarrassing."

Miss Nekonome left her, saying something about fetching clothes. Hermione removed the shirt and got under the shower. She sighed with delight as the warm water cascaded down on her, chasing some of her stress away. Thankfully, apart from the two little horns and the third eye, there weren't other obvious demonic traits. She would really have freaked out if she had ended up with something like cloven feet.

Well, just the teeth, she thought as she ran her tongue along her fang-like eyeteeth.

As she washed her hair, she wondered if her horns would have a growth spurt, too. She would have to do some research about her new species' physical characteristics, maybe ask that headmaster Miss Nekonome had told her about.

She got out of the shower and dried herself. As she looked again at her reflection in the mirror, she realized that there were some definite pluses to this whole mess. For starters, even if she had fangs now, she had lost those buck teeth she hated so much. Her fangs weren't even that big, not big enough to hamper her speech…

On impulse, she started to smile. It was not a gentle or a radiant smile but a sadistic, toothy smirk that was quite amplified by her fangs and the fact that her eyes now seemed to shine slightly. She wondered about the effect that smile would have on Malfoy and she just knew that she would enjoy seeing him whimper at her fe…

Her smile faded as she remembered something Miss Nekonome had said: 'No matter what your instincts tell you'.

"Right… apex predator instincts probably."

She got her mind back on the pluses she had been listing, which brought her to the matter of her hair. From what her mother had told her of her own childhood, she had known that she would ultimately outgrow her 'bushy' phase and she was glad to see that her recent changes had helped on that matter. While still a little wild, her hair was also straighter now and she would probably be able to tame that beast in a reasonable time.

Well… it's actually not that bad. With the right hairband, the horns will be easily hidden and I can probably arrange my hair to hide my third eye. That should work until I know… okay, another point I didn't notice.

She was looking at her nails. She usually trimmed them short but they were now longer and pointed, though not unwieldly so. Following a hunch, she took a tissue paper and clawed at it. As she had feared, it was easily ripped to shreds. She continued her experiment, pushing her nails delicately against her palm. She was relieved to see that her skin was not pierced easily and wondered about the reasons. Did she have some kind of armor? Did it have something to do with the intent to destroy something?

She ran a nail along the towel, delicately, thinking that she just wanted to feel the cloth's texture. She smiled as she realized that her nail had just reacted like a human nail. She made another swipe without any particular thought behind it. Again, the towel was unscathed. In her initial test, she had expected the paper to be shredded.

It's intent… destruction magic of course! This is what Miss Nekonome meant about the chain making things require a conscious effort!

There were probably other things but she would think about them later. She got back in the bedroom and found clothes laid on the bed. It was a school uniform, composed of a rather short light brown checkered skirt, a white shirt, a teal blazer with thin white borders, black knee-high socks and a red bow tie. There was also underwear which was the first thing she put on, then followed with the skirt, shirt and socks. There were no shoes but she found a pair of slippers… she lifted the man's shirt she had been wearing as a nightshirt and compared it with the slippers, coming to the conclusion that they probably belonged to the same person.

She exited the bedroom and found herself in a hall with several doors. She could hear some noise coming from the other end of the hall, where the dining room probably was. She was stopped by a sight that was always welcome for her: bookshelves.

I can spare a few minutes, just to look at the titles…

She entered the library and nodded approvingly. The person who set this up took his books seriously. Two thirds of the room were occupied by mobile aisle shelving and the air in the room was kept at carefully controlled temperature and humidity by… yes, there were runes engraved in the threshold. Pairs of self-sizing cotton gloves were readily available and everything had been neatly catalogued. The languages in the catalogue were multiple: Japanese, Chinese, Sanskrit, Latin, Greek and many others. Finding a few of the English titles, she recognized some titles she had seen in Hogwarts, like the Moste Potente Potions. She exited the room without checking any further. If she started to open the rolling stacks or look at the books, she just knew that she would read avidly until someone forced her to get out. Thankfully, she was hungry and she still had many questions to ask to Miss Nekonome, which made resisting temptation easier.

She reached what was probably the house's – or the flat's, she wasn't sure about that – living room. It was a big room separated in three spaces. First a dining one with a table big enough for ten and then a well-equipped kitchen kept separate from the rest of the room by a bar. Miss Nekonome was there, putting their lunch together.

The purely sitting room part was slightly lower, separated from the rest by a single step that ran the full length of the room. There was a big L-shaped leather couch occupying the center of the space and facing a white screen, which led her eyes on the home cinema projector in the ceiling. As for the walls… more books, though paperbacks rather than ancient tomes and also a set of French windows leading to a balcony. She went there, noticing the overcast sky and the nearby forest that managed to look even creepier than the Forbidden Forest next to Hogwarts. That, despite the whole horror movie setting vibe, was not so much of a problem. The blood-red sea below the cliffs she could guess in another part of the landscape definitely was.

"How… where are we?" she asked, looking at the teacher.

"The school and the grounds around it reside in a dimensional pocket created by the headmaster," replied Miss Nekonome. "You don't have places like that in Britain?"

Hermione frowned but suddenly realized that, yes, she could think of several places falling in the same category. Diagon Alley, which had never been spotted by the air traffic above London and managed to stay completely unscathed despite the Germans bombing the city rather thoroughly during the Blitz. Platform 9¾ in King's Cross, in a place where a simple notice-me-not charm would have broken down under the level of scrutiny.

"A few, but… how big is it?"

"Roughly ten kilometers, with the school at the center."

"The headmaster must be a great wizard."

"Not in the sense you mean… there are some things I have to explain to you about Japan's magical society, it functions differently from Wizarding Britain. But first, let's eat!" replied the catgirl, motioning for Hermione to come join her at the kitchen's bar.

As she passed near the table to rejoin the teacher in the kitchen area, Hermione noticed the stack of tests the teacher had probably been busy grading while she was sleeping in that room. They were written in Japanese of course, but it wasn't what was interesting her. No, it was the fact the questionnaires were computer printed paper sheets and that the students used pens, not quills and parchment. Whatever other differences there were between the magical sides of Japan and Britain, the former seemed to have much less of a problem with modernity.

"Itadakimasu?" she said tentatively as she sat in front of Miss Nekonome, remembering a time she went to a Japanese restaurant with her parents.

"You know Japanese?"

"A few words here and there… I suppose I will have to learn," she replied, separating her chopsticks and starting to pick in the sushi plates between them.

"Well, what you just said is indeed correct but it means 'thank you for the meal' rather than 'enjoy your meal', which means the usage is different. As for learning… while it is always a good thing, you should discuss your options with the headmaster first."

"I supposed… the uniform."

"Just a temporary solution… unless you decide to transfer to Yokai, of course. We will go shop for some clothes this afternoon if you want. The headmaster left me funds for that."

"Why… why is he doing all that for me?"

Hermione thought about her experience in Hogwarts and how oblivious the teachers had been about some things like the bullying done by the Slytherin blood purists. She doubted that Dumbledore would go that far for any student, maybe except Harry, so why was a stranger…

"Let me rephrase: what is the relationship I have with your academy's headmaster?"

"Ah… Mina-chan, I am so glad to see that you inherited more than my good looks," said a male voice coming from another hall that she supposed led to the flat's entrance.

It was a very creepy man in white monk robes with a headdress that let only his face uncovered. She corrected herself: the headdress was not normal given the way the shadow that hid his eyes had nothing to do with ambient lighting and the way his eyes appeared as two points of ghostly white light. His smile was somewhat cruel… exactly like the one she had seen in the mirror a short while before.

"My name is Hermione… we're the same species, right?" she asked on a hunch.

"Very, very glad," replied the monk as he removed his headdress.

Without it, his face was handsome, surrounded by a wild mane of white hair. His stance changed a little bit, as if he was relaxing. Two golden, half-foot long horns came out of his head, starting above the temples and going up and backwards.

"If you're wondering why I do not have a third eye," he continued, "the answer is that it's not an automatic trait of our species, but something that appear only on a select few, usually the most… magically-inclined of us. For example, Balor had it."

"Wasn't he a cyclops?" she asked back, remembering that Miss Nekonome had told her that her species was called Fomorians and the role Balor played in Irish legends.

"The old bastard sacrificed two of his eyes to create his death gaze. Anyway, my name is Tenmei Mikogami, headmaster of the Yokai Academy. Things will be a lot simpler if you call me ojiisan or grandfather, though."

Grandfather… Since she knew about magic, Hermione had often wondered if her mysterious maternal grandfather was not a wizard. Officially, or rather from what her grandmother had said when she was still alive, her grandfather was an American scoundrel who got himself killed during the Vietnam war. Danielle Hawthorne had raised her daughter alone, making sure her child would be rational woman.

Did she know? If yes, what would have happened if she had still been alive when I had my first 'accidents'?

"I think we have a lot to talk about," she said, eyeing him warily.

"Headmaster?" asked Nekonome.

"Please stay, Nekonome-san. Hermione will feel safer if you are here."

"Madam Pomfrey?" asked Harry as he entered the hospital wing. "Is it possible to see Hermione?"

"I'm afraid not, Harry. She had to go see a specialist about her problem," replied the healer. "I don't think she will back before the beginning of the term. I am sure she will send you a message once she is well enough to write."

Harry left the Hospital Wing with a frown. Something was wrong here. Shortly after the Polyjuice incident, there had been something… like a feeling of dread seeping through the whole castle. Then some of the portraits had been chatting about a monk in white robes who was seen chatting with Dumbledore. It was also said that Peeves the poltergeist had flown screaming after catching a mere glance of said monk.

He didn't know what was happening. Was it related with the Chamber of Secrets? Was it something completely different? Where was Hermione? He couldn't shake the feeling that both Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey were hiding something about her.

Hermione was sitting on one end of the couch, the headmaster at the other while Miss Nekonome had resumed grading her tests at the dining area table. The lunch had been… cordial she guessed. As messed up as the situation was, starting with her now being non-human and transported without her agreement to the other side of the planet, things were still more or less legit. Mikogami had shown her a note written by Dumbledore saying that she could trust his 'Japanese colleague' and that he wished her a speedy recovery. Her 'new' grandfather had also told her how she had been brought here, using a phoenix's teleportation ability. So she had decided to play along for now. She needed information before she could make intelligent decisions anyway.

"I met your grandmother in 1961," said Mikogami. "I was at that time helping Japan's ICW representative with a rather complicated dossier and had decided to use some of my free time to pay a visit to the British Museum… let's just say that we dated for a while but that things didn't work out. Your grandmother never told me she was pregnant but I had thankfully used a technique to seal my power when I dated her and the seal transferred to your mother… and you. One or two more generations and there would be have been too little of my blood left for anything to happen."

"I remember reading that Polyjuice doesn't work to copy half-humans… does that mean that half-humans cannot use it, too?"

"Indeed. The potion messed with your seal, particularly strongly because of the animal hair contamination. When the nurse started to apply the treatment to reverse it, she destroyed what was left. Had it happened elsewhere, you would probably have become a hybrid but Hogwarts was deliberately built on a chi nexus, a place where several ley lines cross. Your magic fed on it and pushed the mutation all the way, making you a pure Kishin."

"What happens now?"

"I see three solutions. Transferring to Yokai would probably be the simplest. You could spend a few months in our middle school to learn Japanese and then we could see about putting you in high school. However, the simplest does not necessarily mean the best. Unlike Hogwarts, Yokai is not centered around teaching sorcery as its goal is to help ayashi – magical creatures, which here in Japan also include wizards and witches – to mingle with the human world."

"It's… sorry but in Britain it's like the wizards don't care about that."

"There are some fundamental differences between Asia and Europe in this matter. While this is not the only reason, the fact wizards are a minority in Asia means that the magical society has a very different structure. You will also find that the Statute of Secrecy is applied differently here."

"Why?" asked Hermione, quite surprised. This was one of the most important laws of the wizarding world after all.

"You have to understand that the Statute was a European idea and exported to other countries with the colonial empires. You will therefore have several countries disagreeing with it even if no one – apart from some extremists – is actively fighting it at this point. My opinion is that the development of information technologies will make the Statute obsolete in the near future and that we ayashi must be ready for the aftermath. To get back on the possibilities I see, another that would be beneficial for your magical education would be to put you as an apprentice with a friend of mine. Do not get me wrong, I am a competent spellcaster, but my friend is the one who taught me magic. Whatever the solution we take, we will go see him so that he can examine you and also solve the problem of your wand."

"Do you have it?" she asked.

"Yes… can you try to use a simple spell?" he said while handing her the item.

"Easy… Lumos!"

She had to close her eyes. Instead of the small ball of light that should have appeared, she had created something with the intensity of a flak searchlight. She winced as she felt splinters hit her hand, her wand having shattered, sending fragments in the whole room. She gaped, horrified at the scorched remnant that was left in her hand.

"Exactly what I suspected: your wand was not adapted to you anymore and you need to get another one, with a larger channeling capacity. Do not fear, we will remedy to that in the next days. So… the third possibility is that you continue your education in Hogwarts. I will need to arrange for a few things but I have contacts in Britain I can use. In all cases, though, we need to speak to a few people before taking a decision."

"You mean…"

"Not Dumbledore, though we will have to talk about him. The man certainly has qualities, but he also has a rather strict stance regarding dark magic and he may be unwilling to let you back. No, before all, this is a family matter and we need to talk with your parents. Are they at home?"

"Yes… but with the time zones, it's probably too late."

"Can you write a letter? I will fax it to a friend of mine in Britain who has video conference equipment. We will organize a first meeting until we can make it so that we all meet in person."

Eldred Worple knew that many wizards would already have soiled their robes just by being here. In appearance, the place was nice enough, a red brick manor in Sussex, with a well-kept garden and a greenhouse containing the owner's collection of rare orchids. As far as his muggle neighbors were concerned, John Stockton Esq. was a gentleman who kept to himself and a select circle of friends he had made during his travels. Overall, he was a charming man, if a bit pale, with an old-fashioned sense of honor.

Wizards knew better. Stockton manor was a terrifying place, one that even Voldemort would have thought twice before attacking. He was one of the few wizards with a permanent invitation here, in the domain of England's main vampire clan. John Stockton, who often took the nickname of Sanguini in his relationships with the wizards was indeed a charming man… for a centuries-old vampire. Eldred had also seen him rip off the head of a werewolf with a swipe of his hand and shatter a stone wall with a punch. He had absolutely no illusions about the capacity of any wizard to survive more than two seconds in a hand-to-hand fight against a vampire. Going all out with spells to keep the monster at bay was the only sensible strategy.

"You know, I still don't understand how you can use all these muggle contraptions," he said as he watched his friend close a cellular phone.

"Because I can wish happy birthday to my grandson in real time instead of having to wait for an owl to deliver my letter in New York, maybe?" replied Stockton with a fangy smile, an amused light playing in his crimson, slit eyes.

Eldred shook his head. Contrarily to what many muggle legends said, vampires were a living species that reproduced naturally. They lived longer than humans, but they were mortal. The siring process described in vampire novels was possible but it rarely worked. Most of the time, the poor human became a mad, blood-frenzied monster that the vampires called a ghoul. Stockton had also told him once that werewolves were the same way. The problem was that while the vampires had kept control of the ghoul problem, hunting them down ruthlessly, the true werewolves hadn't and whole packs of infected ones had been created.

"I'm just afraid that one day…"

"Please, Eldred," cut in Stockton. "My 'muggle artifacts' are not bewitched and you know how the Ministry is. They are quite satisfied with us dark creatures keeping our affairs in the muggle world. As long as we do not threaten the Statute of Secrecy, they have no reason to change that policy and if they did… well, I hope that the wizards remember the true meaning of war because we certainly do."

Eldred nodded. In his years as a friend to the Stockton clan, he had understood something that Voldemort himself had never gotten. The British vampires may be dark creatures but they were guided by a strong sense of honor and nobility. To them, the Death Eaters were trash and so was the Ministry. Eldred had learnt that much of their philosophy came from a woman they revered like a saint: Akasha Bloodriver, in fact a terrifying vampire who was rumored to live in Japan. From what little he knew, Stockton had been saved by that woman when he was a child, when his family was slaughtered during a magical war in the Far East, two hundred years ago. She had impressed on the then young vampire her ideal of pacific co-existence between humans and magical creatures.

He was interrupted in his thoughts by a ring coming from another machine on Stockton's desk. The vampire quickly typed something, frowning as another machine came life, soon delivering a sheet of paper Eldred retrieved and handed to his friend. While the technology behind a computer and a laser printer eluded him, despite the enthusiastic explanations of Stockton's grandson during his last visit, the wizard understood the possibilities… and found them seriously frightening regarding the Statute of Secrecy.

"You still have use for the printed word, then," he said with a smile.

"In this case, yes. This fax has the handwriting of a certain person and will be helpful in convincing her parents."

"Muggles?" he asked.

"Yes, but do not worry, they are aware of the magical world. Their daughter is in Hogwarts… though she has gotten herself involved in a serious mess."

"Brian, can you bring the Bentley to the front with a satellite comm suite in the trunk?" asked Stockton while pushing a button on his desk.

"Of course, Sir," replied a voice on the intercom. "Will you be away for long?"

"Probably two days. I will be reachable on the usual channels," replied the vampire, closing the communication.

"Do you want me to come with you?" asked Eldred.

"No," replied Stockton while opening a safe. "I need you to do me a favor and check your wizarding sources about unusual issues at Hogwarts. You know how Dumbledore is: always trying to keep things in-house," he continued, handing the wizard a pouch full of Galleons.

"Very well. What's the girl's name?"

"Hermione Granger."