The honey-colored eyes that were gazing at him so shrewdly didn't waver as he stepped back, swallowed heavily, then tried his best to play off her question.
"A vampire?" Angel asked, managing something that almost sounded like a laugh. Almost. The truth was, he was a bit out of practice with the whole laughing thing. "Whatever gave you that idea? I mean, me... heh... A vampire. Absolutely ridiculous. You've been reading too many horror stories."
Hermione gave him a level look. "You have no idea," she muttered, then tilted her head to the side, her gaze still on him. He was beginning to feel incredibly uncomfortable. Oh, who was he kidding? He already *was* incredibly uncomfortable. Hermione's eyes narrowed as she continued to look at him. "If it's so ridiculous, why don't you take me to the park this afternoon? It's such a lovely, sunny day."
"I, uh, I have to work. But perhaps Cordelia could take you-"
"Yes, because she and I have so much in common. We both have breasts," Hermione tossed back acidly. "I would sooner make friends with a blast-ended skrewt than that woman."
The girl sent him a side-long look as she began reading through Wesley's book again. "I believe you heard me, what with your improved hearing. Part of being a vampire, of course."
Angel couldn't help it. He looked at the book she was reading. "That's in there?"
The girl rolled her eyes, closing the book, which Angel could now see was on alternate dimensions. "No, it's not. I read of a vampire's improved hearing and eyesight before I ever came here. It also mentioned an aversion to sunlight, which would be obvious even without your abnormally pale skin. There's also a mirror behind your shoulder from which you show no reflection. And then there is, of course, your affinity for 'cranberry juice', which we both know is nothing of the sort. Really, I'd have to be an idiot not have noticed."
"And now that you've informed me that you know what I am, what's to stop me from killing you to shut you up?" Angel asked, knowing he would do nothing of the sort, but knowing she probably didn't know that and wanting to put her in her place for her know-it-all attitude.
"Your aversion to sunlight, of course," Hermione replied, and the room was suddenly nearly bathed in light as the drapes pulled away from the window. The girl's chair was right in the middle of it, and even though he was several feet away from her, Angel still had to step back to avoid being singed. She arched a brow at him, pulling something wooden from behind her back. "Plus, you know, I've also got my handy wooden stake."
Angel frowned, his gaze moving from the stake to the window, still uncertain how she'd managed to get the drapes to open so suddenly like that. He hadn't seen her pull on anything in order to open them. It was highly unsettling. "How long have you known?"
"That you're a vampire? Since my second week here. It wasn't that hard to figure out, really. You don't reflect in any of the windows downstairs, you almost always work only at night, and when you leave during the day, you always go downstairs to the basement in order to do so. I've never really seen you eat, only drink, and it's always something red that I know isn't cranberry juice. Plus, I saw you singe yourself on the cross I left lying on your desk."
Angel glared at her. That had stung like hell. "You left that there?"
"Yes, I did. And I watched from the top of the stairs to see what happened. Judging from the fact that no one seemed surprised that a cross had left a burn mark on you, I really must assume that they all know what you are," Hermione said, then smiled. "I just asked you if my uncle knew as a way to catch you off guard with the fact that *I* know."
"You know, most people that are aware of what I am aren't nearly so calm around me. If they know about the true nature of the vampire, that is," Angel said, still annoyed with this little girl, and his words earned him an almost amused look.
"I'm well aware that most vampires are horribly violent and vicious, but I expect your soul keeps in you line rather well," she tossed back, then smiled at his disbelieving look. "It's amazing the kind of information one can find online if she knows where to look."
"You are a pain in the ass."
Hermione's eyes flared with something that was a cross between anger and actual hurt, but the emotion was gone very quickly as the girl spoke again. "So I've been told. Apparently I'm far too clever for my own good. But I'm also a teenage girl who has recently been pulled away from everything she's ever known, so you'll forgive me for deciding that discovering why my uncle would deem to work with a vampire a good way to occupy my mind. Yes, I know that Uncle Wesley was once a part of the Watcher's Council. My parents think I don't know, but then... They don't know very much about me, as I haven't been around much for the past four years. I confuse them. I'm part of a world that they could never hope to truly belong in, and the funny thing is, I don't always seem to belong in it either. It's hard being part of two worlds," she muttered, then pushed a few stray strands of hair behind her ears. "I sincerely doubt Uncle Wesley has any clue as to why I was really sent here, and I'm just as certain that he has no idea how much I know about him."
"Or how you managed to smuggle that book over here," Angel put in, glancing at the heavy tome in her hands, wishing that he weren't so interested in what this girl had to say, but he was.
She smiled, just the slightest curving of her lips. "I have my ways, Angel. And if you and my uncle and your friends will try to be honest with me, then I'll tell you all about it."