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I. SOLITARIUS

 

'We are the lions in the world of lambs.'

 

The reason behind her tears was simple, but yet difficult to explain. She cried for all those stares, insults, jabs at her. The loneliness was killing her, choking her like metal wall, pressing against her chest, sucking the life out of her slowly.

Maybe she was depressed and needed help, but that would change nothing. It won't bring her friends back, it won't bring her heart back. She felt like her sanity was about break, dangling on the thin line. And for the second time in her life she was more than afraid. She let out a laugh, it sounded empty, bitter.

Hermione was always afraid to be left behind.

Since the day when her irresponsible parents forgot her. How in the world could you forget a four-year-old ? Leaving her in empty, dark house, filled with shadows too clear for her childish and wild imagination.

For 'a few minutes' they said. Only to return after six hours drunk and laughing their heads off, not caring for a small whimpering girl, curled up in the corner of their corridor with her plushy rabbit toy, sobbing her eyes out, hungry and scared shitless.

Of course they were happy, almost glowing when they find out that she was a special.
A witch, capable of things simple humans wouldn't even be able to think of. Not even trying to hide the happiness of getting rid of her. They didn't care that she would be sent away. Into a whole 'another world.

She was happy too. Despite her young age all she wanted to do since that night, was to get away.

Hermione almost all her life felt like she didn't belong in this simple, bland world. With these people who don't take responsibility for their actions, 'Muggles' she later learned they were called. Even they could sense that she was different, strange, almost out of this world. Since the first day she stepped her tiny foot in the kindergarten. An outcast.

But nothing changed when she got to Hogwarts.

Just because she was a little smarter and could actually use her brain. Naturally, she was picked on. Her so called 'friends' were nice to her but behind her back she was the topic of many jokes and laughs. She pretend not to hear them when their whispers got louder and louder but then later deep into the night they were haunting her, making her shed big, sad tears.

She had Ron and Harry, at least. Maybe, that, was what kept her sane all this time. Just maybe, she was finally happy with them. The Golden Trio.

Huh, what absurd that was. As years went on they started to talk less. Most of the time she would be alone, only remembered when there was a paper due or yet another mystery the boys were stuck at figuring out. The war, Hermione thought, was her happiest and the most saddest part. Because she was needed the most then but this is now.

Alone.

That word hurt her inside, tearing her apart slowly. She would scream inside, but her face showed nothing. It was blank. Now days it usually was like that, blank. Their friendship, that once was un-breakable, now was shattered and it was all because of one person.

I didn't help that Ron was fancying her. She was disgusted, all though not showing it with her face. Blank once again. Politely trying to inform him that she didn't feel the same and that he was just a friend, she declined his offer to 'go out' and that his constant touching made her feel uncomfortable.

Things went downhill from there and it was only the beginning of their last year in Hogwarts.

He got red, redder then his hair and proceeded to say every curse word he had learned from his brothers. Shouting at her, how horrid, ungrateful she was, throwing things without aiming. Yelling how no one with sane mind would be with her, saying she was asking for it, flirting shamelessly with any bloke who came through the door.

It was amusing actually, to see him so angry and her so calm, her arms crossed, waiting patiently. If you looked closely you could actually see her smirking. She got confused when she caught her doing so.

What sick pleasure she got from that ? She didn't know, at least not now, when he was all in her face. After Ron's little rage episode he calmed enough to wheeze out a threat to her.

'You were just a toy, no one wanted you here, no one will ever want you, you're weak and fragile. You're stuck-up little know-it-all, alone and helpless. You will forever regret humiliating me like that.' She flinched at his words. 'I will ruin your life, 'Mione, I will make sure no one will remember you and your little face here.'

'I'd like to see you try, Ronald.'

Then it happened.

Almost in slow-motion his hand collided with her cheek. Her hand shot up, holding her now red and throbbing cheek. There was a tense silence, only for a few seconds.

Once she gathered what happened Ron was immediately blasted into a nearby bookshelf. Her eyes were wide and now filled with tears but she refused to let them slip, refused to show what he called her weakness once. She lowered her hand, that was holding a wand and went closer to her now ex-friend, who pathetically scrambled from her away.

"If you will ever, ever dare to put hand on me or any other unfortunate girl in this Merlin-dammed place I will kill you." She knelled in front of him slowly "Got it ?"
Ron was at loss of words. Never had he seen her eyes so full of anger- pure rage, even. He looked away, somewhere deep inside him he felt shame but it was too concealed with his bruised pride.

"No one will ever love you anyway, you scarred freak !"

Hermione quickly left, her feet carried her as fast as they could. She cried that night, once again, wishing upon the star to disappear.

Apparently he was serious with his little threat because the next day when she arrived to the Common Room, everyone's eyes were on her. Like that time when she was all dressed up for Yule ball, only this time the looks were more angry, no- more like disgusted and shocked even.

Hermione scanned the room, carefully reading each expression and then slowly walked towards where her friends were sitting. Only her usual seating place was now occupied with Lavender Brown.

Harry had his eyes fixed at her, they were filled with sadness and disappointment and so much anger. Ouch, that sure did hurt her. In the mean time, no one had noticed Ronald pretending to be sad but with an evil glint in his eyes, sneering pathetically at her. She saw right trough him and almost laughed.

"Will someone explain to me what's going on ?" Harry suddenly stood up and grabbed her wrist, painfully might she add, and dragged her back to the hall from where she just came, it was empty, a few students there and then.

"How dare you to ask what's going on ? Are you out of your mind ?" He shouted not bothering to keep the volume down. She frowned at him, a weird feeling started brewing inside her.

"What are you talking about, Harry ?" He laughed, but that laugh was empty, like hers in the present time. "You, blasting Ron into a bookshelf ? Suddenly our goodie-two-shoes doesn't remember, now does she? "

"What did he tell you, Harry ?"

"Enough things for it to be true."

"Really ? Are you sure about that ? " She saw the hesitation in his eyes and desperately tried to hold on to it but it was gone in a blink of an eye.

"Don't try to play this around. Always thought that you should have belonged in Slytherin." She scoffed at his childish words. How is this happening right now ?

"So what now? You won't let me tell my version? The truth." Hermione wanted to uncover her concealing charms that were hiding the nasty redness on her face but something in her head stopped her.

"Harry, he h-"

"-Truth ? Oh, Merlin that's great." He took step back and she was starting to panic.

"I'll tell you what happens now, 'Mione. You," He pointed at her."Will not come near my friends, my family. You will forget about us, because from now on we are just unfortunate classmates." He pointed a finger at her. "Don't. Test. Me. Or you will regret it." It seemed like he almost wanted to say more.

"Please, Harry, listen to me." Hermione tried to step closer but he instantly backed away.

"The only truth here is that you are nasty, sad little girl who will forever be alone. You've done your part here, you helped us through the war and that it, we did everything else ourselves." She let out a laugh of disbelief, her eyes were starting to sting from unshed tears.

"Is that what you really think, Harry?" She tilted her head a little, trying to understand if she really was talking to her dear friend.

"That's what we all think, Granger."

She felt it. It came back and hit her right the heart. Corrupting it like black ink, clouding her mind with only one word.

Alone. You're alone.

At that moment so much was going through her head. All these emotions raging from anger to sadness to right down homicidal thoughts, which should've scared her. Sometimes she felt like these thoughts weren't her own, like it was someone else thinking for her, perhaps even with her. Making her feel nothing but fury and at that moment, she only saw red, blood-red.

"If that's what you want, that's what you'll get. But mark my words, Harry Potter, when you'll realize the mistake you've made by trusting your 'best friend' and try to reach me, I will be gone." The first tear fell and hit the hard ground, making her regret ever getting out of bed.

"Don't worry a mudblood like me knows her place in this world." She turned around and lifting her head up high marched down to corridor, back to her safe place.

And that's what brings us here. Right now in the present time.

 

~

 

It has been long and tiring weeks in Hogwarts School, freshly out of the war the halls still held so much lost blood and tears. But everyone tried to move on and keep up the school spirit, trying to live again.

 Most of her time Hermione was occupied with homework and reading, ignoring all the annoying voices in her head, telling her that that's exactly why she's alone. Hermione  knows she sounds crazy but she can't do anything about it.

Sometimes she finds peace and quiet, sometimes. Mostly it happens when she's reading some book, when it's so fascinating and wonderful, then the violent thoughts calm down for a while but, sadly, books end.

The whole school now knows what a pathetic girl Hermione is. Rumors spread out faster than any disease about the 'Golden Trio' and her 'betrayal'. At least most students didn't give a shit or they didn't believe the trash that was spilling out of Ron's mouth.
Almost everyone.

She got hurtful comments about her daily, about her hair, body and all other nasty stuff. Hermione didn't care about that that much  to be honest. In the beginning they did sting but the old stuff got boring to her and now she just lets out a sigh and moves on. Her house on the other hand made her mad as hell.

Loyal, she scoffed . What a load of bullshit. They wasted no time to turn their backs on her, none at all.

Fortunately, this year Hermione is the Head Girl along side with Blaise Zabini who was the Head Boy, they shared the head common room and surprisingly they got along well. Since they sat together during Defense Against the Dark Arts, and had to work on few projects, they didn't insult one another, simply talked like civilized people. Putting aside their differences.

So, she was surprised when she got called to McGonagall's office, concerning her deeply. She sat in front of headmistress' table and was told to wait until the boys arrive.

Hermione was confused. What boys ? She bit her lip, lost in her thoughts, slightly fearing that she was talking about Ron and Harry, fearing what kind of trouble they caused her now.

But  when the door or the portrait, name it however you like, swung open she turned around to see Blaise and-

"Mr. Malfoy, Mr. Zabini, please take a seat." McGonagall  gestured with her hand at two chairs beside the young witch. Hermione turned around and gulped.

Oh boy.

Hermione felt his eyes on her and shifted uncomfortably, like she did in these past days whenever she felt him near her.

Since the big 'you're not our friend Hermione' thing Draco's eyes followed her everywhere, in classes, library even when he would visit Blaise in their shared living room. But yet not single remark, insult or the word 'Mudoblood' came towards her. It was strange, but she never cornered him about it, admitting that she was afraid to bring it back, the unwanted attention.

She had enough of it already.

"My apologies for troubling you this evening, Miss Granger, but it's an important matter that we need to talk about." Hermione nodded at the headmistress, letting her continue.

"You see, Mr. Zabini here, requested to switch places with Mr. Malfoy." Hermione's eyes widened a little, but she stayed silent. "And since Draco shared the same place with Blaise in Slytherin house regarding grades, he will replace Blaise."

McGonagall looked at her and was taken aback slightly by Hermione's reaction, a lack of it more like. She expected an outburst, but only saw how empty the girl's eyes looked.

"But I thought that is not allowed ?" Calmly Hermione asked the professor, raising her perfect eyebrow and turned her head quickly to look at the boys- men next to her.

Blaise was sitting quietly and Malfoy just stared at her with amusing expression, waiting for something to begin. She was disturbed by the look in his eyes, when they met hers.

"Ah yes, but Mr. Zabini thought that Head Boy's duties were too much for him to handle with homework on top, we broke rules this once, since our students education is more important and we don't want them failing." Hermione almost scoffed at that and broke the weird eye contact she had with Malfoy.

What lots of bullshit she was hearing now. Blaise always complained how bored he was after doing his homework, his annoying sighs always drove Hermione to lock herself in her room.

But through the whole talk she managed to smile and look at the ground, understanding why it was happening.

"That's fine." She lifted her head and stood up abruptly."Can I be dismissed ?" She asked, perfectly calmly.

McGonagall blinked a couple times looking right in her eyes as if lost. "Oh um, please take a seat, Hermione, just a few minutes in private with you." As Hermione sat down again she let out a silent sigh, not happy with the thought about alone talk with her Professor.

"Mr. Malfoy, all your things will be transferred tomorrow morning. You can ask the password from Mr. Zabini or Miss Granger." She politely  smiled, but heard nothing from either of the boys in front.

"I hope there will be no trouble caused. Dismissed, boys." Draco didn't even look at McGonagall, not once.

When they left the room Hermione looked at McGonagall and waited patiently.

"Hermione, you're the one of the most smartest students in Hogwarts-"

"Sorry, Professor, but if it's about my grades then I can try harder just-"

"Oh no, no, dear, it's just that I heard what happened with Mr. Weasley and Mr. Potter." Hermione blinked and strangely felt nothing."Not the exact story but..."

"What they said- It's - I-I."  Hermione stuttered, her heart sped up.

"Dear, I know that if something serious happened you would come to me and tell me right ? " Hermione blinked and inhaled slowly "I just don't know how Mr. Potter doesn't see it. It's none of my business, I know that but-"

No, it isn't.

"With all due respect, Headmistress, but I would like to go."

"Ah. Yes just one more question." Hermione stopped almost at the door and then turned around, clearly annoyed but Minerva pretended not to see that. "Yes ?"

"Are you okay ?"

She lost herself and her ability to talk for a minute not knowing what to say, but a smile was across her face, looked right in her eyes and with calm voice said.

"I'm fine." With those words she turned around and left. McGonagall was surely taken aback by her voice.

It was cold and empty, exactly like her eyes.

Chapter Text

 


II. TENEBRIS

"If you rattle a snake, be prepared to get bitten by her."

Hermione practically flew down the stairs, fleeing that conversations as fast as she could, hoping she wouldn't run into anyone or anything. You never know in Hogwarts. She was about to turn the corner, already nearing her common room, soon to be shared with her tormentor. Although, she thinks, that spot will be taken away from Malfoy quite soon. The girl was so immersed in her thoughts that she let out a scream when a strong force tugged her against something solid quite harshly.

Hermione looked up and took a sharp breath. Only he would act so stupidly. Her delicate wrist was in his tight grip, raised slightly in the air. She tugged at it but he wouldn't budge.

"Malfoy." She gritted her teeth and again tried to take back her arm.

"Granger." He said back and slowly smirked. She had to admit that on anyone else it looked ridiculous, but on him it looked almost normal, if not natural.

"I could've hexed you, are you insane ?" She stopped moving, waiting for his response but when she got none, only a small squeeze that made her hiss slightly, she continued . "What do you want ?"

"I need the password, of course." It sounded like it was so obvious.

"And Zabini couldn't give it to you?" She asked lifting her eyebrow once again.

"No, Daphne was calling for him. Desperately." He said,  a disgusted look on his face. "Pathetic actually how he's whipped with her."

Hermione groaned and tried to take back her arm once again , but his grip was like iron. She was so not in the mood for girl talk with Malfoy right now.

"Let me go and I'll tell you." She tried the bribery approach, a helpless look in her eyes.

He pretended to think about it and hummed. "Hmm, how about no."

And with a sudden move, with the air whirling around them, Draco pressed her against the cold stone wall. Her body connecting with the surface made her yelp out of pain. Somehow she felt like this wasn't a situation where he wanted to hurt her, in fact, it seemed like complete opposite.

"Now tell me the password, darling." Hermione raised her eyebrows at the nickname, surprised and shocked at the same time. That's a new one. She wasn't sure which sounded more disturbing from him

"Fine. Not that it matters anymore or that you actually know it, since I saw you multiple times without Blaise coming in as you please." She grumbled under her nose.

"Observing witch you are." He smirked and waited. She sighed and glanced around for anyone, seeing a group of students nearby she slowly leaned forward on her tip toes. Her lips were near his ear, not too close but enough for him to feel her breath on his neck.  

"Tenebris et lux." Hermione whispered in his ear and pulled back. Ever since the beginning of the year she was  worried that someone could overhear her saying the password and it freaked her out.

She noticed how close they were, closer than any time before in their lives. She looked and saw how his grey eyes were darker and how his lips parted, lightly wetting them with his tongue. How with each breath she took, he seemed to be mimicking her, moving with her too. There was a sound not far from them and that broke her analysis of Draco Malfoy and his lips, which sounded ridiculous in her head.

"Now will you let me go ?" Hermione cleared her throat, leaning away from him and he finally let go of her arm. "Because I don't think you want to be seen by others in such position  with me." His eyes lit up and he laughed, actually laughed. She was disturbed and annoyed that he still had her caged in between the wall and himself.

"What's so funny ?" She asked and urged him to let her go, pushing at his chest lightly. The exhaustion and her lack of sleep made her head dizzy and all she wanted was to just lay in her bed.

"The fact that you think I care about others." The amused part of his voice was replaced by a low and somewhat threatening one.

"Well it's not so hard, since you couldn't stand me all these years. I would touch you and you would run off or tried to hex me, not that you would succeed, but still." His eye were back to being icy and it made her shiver, not from fright just from how deadly they looked.

"Things change, Granger. New people come and go, they change or stay the same. Have new obsessions." He looked at her funny.

"Look-" She started to say but he suddenly backed away, as if she burned him and with simple "Goodnight." walked away, leaving her stunned and confused as hell.

What happened just now? Not a single insult and even sort of a compliment ? And all this touching, making her skin shiver up. Was everyone off their minds this year or was it just her ?

"Ether I'm going bonkers or the world is turning upside down." She decided and left shortly afterwards, ready to forget the whole thing but the aching feeling on her skin made her repeat the scene for the rest of that night.

~

The morning was strange to say the least.

Never in a million years would Hermione think that she will wake up one morning and see Draco Malfoy, of all people, quietly reading in front of the fireplace. She paused for a moment, slightly lost thinking that she was imagining things. Perhaps she fell down the stairs yesterday.

"Good morning?" She greeted/asked him, testing the waters. Or maybe he was drunk yesterday or something ? Now he will definitely throw  some kind of remark at her.

"Granger." He turned around and simply greeted her with short nod of his head. This is getting weirder and it was freaking her out.

"Okay tell me your plan, I don't have time for these games." She said while sitting on the other couch beside the one he was sitting on, crossing her legs, watching him suspiciously.

"What are you talking about, love ?" He looked up again at her from his book, pretending to be innocent. The innocent look was funny when he was the one pretending to be one.

"Where did all those insults about my hair, teeth or blood go?" She was waiting, not buying his bullshit. Merlin, she's not that pathetic. He let out a sigh and dropped the book on the small table with small 'thud'.

"I told you, Hermione, people change. I'm not the person that I was before." Her mouth was slightly agape, her name sounded too natural coming from his lips. She didn't like it one bit. "I have more important things in life to take care of than play the same game of 'My House Is Better.' "

 "Yeah and I'll believe that when pigs learn how to fly." Hermione stood up left the head's common room, practically rushing out of there. Draco smiled and talking to nobody in particular said the words that would freak her out more than ever.

"I'm way worse than before, so you just wait."

~

Hermione was so confused and distressed about this whole deal. This year will be on top of her 'Worst Years Ever' list for sure.

While she walked to her next class she thought about what Malfoy said, about how it's actually possible for a big to fly and that made her glare at the floor harder. He actually knows her name, which let alone is impressive and scary.

Sighing to herself she didn't notice the wall of Gryffindors walking in front of her. Two guys and one girl, only the girl slowed down and let the boys create a wall in front of her. 

Still thinking about this morning and how she needed to talk with Blaise, she unexpectedly  was pushed hard to the floor. Hitting her head on hard stone ground, everything became a little blurry for her, but she managed to stand up and shoot a nasty look to the group who were walking away, laughing. Her vision doubled but shortly it got better and she stood up. 

She'll find them later she supposed, she was late to her class anyway. Hermione groaned at the aching feeling and picked up her bag and books, walking off.

Of course she could have taken points, but she was just too tired and wanted to get to her class faster, without any more . There was no reason anyway, they  would still pick on her no matter what right ?

Draco Malfoy, who stood not far from her but out of her sight, saw everything and was worse than mad. Oh, he was furious, no not even that could describe him. The only thing stopping him from going there and ripping their hearts out was the thought about how Hermione will disapprove of it. And the fact that it could compromise his plan, which is a big no in his book.

He watched as she stood up weakly, gathering up her things and walked off without any spare words.  No one around her, that saw what happened, helped her and that made his blood boil even more.

Take away the points ? Oh no, that won't cover it, not even a little. How else will they learn that their actions have consequences, especially when its concerning her ?

Draco turned to Blaise and with one look, his somewhat of a friend knew what he had to do. With a nod, he pushed himself off of the wall that he was leaning on and followed the group of Gryffindors, who just passed them. His eye betraying the satisfaction of having an interesting job finally.

While Draco just followed after her, walking a few feet away from her, carefully. He felt like an predator, stalking his prey. How beautiful she looked and how elegantly she walked. And then there was a slight pause in her steps, her putting a hand on her forehead, then she continued walking, disappearing in her class shortly. It made Draco realize that her impact with the floor was causing her more than pain.

How dare they to touch her? He raged in his head although managed to hold a calm face, while walking down the hall. One thing he didn't understand was why she just simply huffed and walked away? What happened to her lioness spirit that now she let's anyone treat her like that?

She didn't do anything and that was happening for over a week now, but she was so vulnerable and it annoyed the fuck out of him. Not standing up for herself, even he knows it would be piece of cake to do.  She fought with blood-thirsty death eaters for fuck's sake !

Of course once she accepts the truth, she will never be treated like that and even if it continues, there will be murderous consequences, he'll make sure of that.

He knew that in that short period when he wasn't in Hogwarts, he blamed his hearing for that, something happened to her. Something that caused a huge rift between the heroes. But The rumours where changing each day and night, nothing was clear anymore, only that everyone apparently hated her.

Hermione was already so broken when he came back, all that he needed to do, was to use that and make her his. Not that in his mind she wasn't. Oh, he had her in his mind since forever now. Her hair, curves and fired-up and breath-taking eyes. Everything in her screamed for him and it made his hand itch with anticipation.

They had so many things in common though... even the view on her so called 'friends' was shaping already, similar to his.

Potter and Weasel, two headaches that couldn't just fucking die.

How dumb could scar-head get ? Honestly. It was so evident in Weasel's eyes and all the nasty lies coming from filth like him and Saint Potter jumped at the floating boat, leaving her in the holed filled one to drown. Oh, but she won't... no, never. Not anymore, he was back and ready to sort out this shit.

They will suffer for this, for hurting her the way they did. All of them.

Draco despises Ronald Weasley, with a great passion. In fact, for the last few weeks now, he was thinking of a plan how to wipe him from the surface of the ground. Not that it was hard, Draco just didn't want to end up like his father in Azkaban, rotting away when he could have her in his arms forever.

Draco wasn't afraid of death he was afraid of something far worse than that, at least for him. It was losing her. Not being able to be with her, to live together with her. Merlin, he sounds like a school girl with a crush but he knows it's much more than that really.

He had a plan. At the end of it she will be his.

With or without the help of magic.

~

He was pretending to eat his dinner, but in reality he was watching her, observing like for the past months or even years. She was sitting further away from everyone, of course, where else could she be sitting.

"On my lap" he muttered to himself, but beside him Grabbe caught that and stupidly opened his mouth filled with chicken chunks.  

"What was that, mate ?" If there would be a look, that could kill, Draco would be the owner of it and the whole school would be dead. Seriously.

"Did I turn my head to speak to you ?" He asked, making Grabbe swallow his food, definitely out of fear.

"Well n-"

"That means I wasn't talking to you, mate." Draco sneered at him and turned away, positive he won't be disturbed again.

As much as he wanted to stay here and just look at her, he had to sort out something. Draco stood up abruptly and headed towards the main door to search for Blaise. To his luck the latter was entering the Great Hall right at that moment.

"Well?" Malfoy sneered once again, his patience running low and deep down Blaise was slightly afraid, but knowing his 'friend', it was better not to show it or he will use it against you.

"Told them that after the dinner McGonagall wanted to see them at the library for 'important information'." He didn't say their names or their last names because he knows it doesn't matter anymore.

"And they actually believed that ?" Draco scoffed, pathetic.

 "Unsurprisingly, yes." Draco nodded and glanced back, shooting a look at the Gryffindor table. First at her, then scanned every seat till he found the three missing. So they were younger huh?

Without another word he left and went towards the library, evil glint in his cloudy, grey eyes.

~

Hermione was sitting and eating her dinner, more like playing with it, while reading her book when she felt a shadow over her.

"Hermione, can we talk ?" She lifted her head up, looking straight and immediately recognized the voice, judging by the faces of others sitting at the table a little further, she was right.

"Hello, Blaise, thought you were packed with homework ?" She turned around and saw him standing with his hands in his pockets. Daring to look sheepish. It wasn't a good look on him.

"Look I - "

"Don't worry about it. I'm not dumb, I get it." Suddenly losing her appetite she closed her finished book and stood up. Not bothering to look at him, she walked towards the big door, ready to leave this conversation. A hand shot up and stopped her from going, but unlike Dra- Malfoy's it was more gentle and she hated that.

 She already heard some 'whispers'.  'Look at her, hanging around Slytherins like the traitor she is.' followed by 'Disgusting.' made her cringe and move her hand out of his grasp. Only thing was that she could hear them clear as the sky in the early morning. She finally looked at Blaise who was glaring at them whisperers, making them silent with his stare only.  

"Don't bother with them, let's talk outside." He nodded at her and they made their way through the door into a cold corridor.

Once they were out of there she let out a heavy sigh and slowly walked towards her destination, knowing Blaise was following beside her.

"I know how it looks okay ? But I promise that that is not the case here." He  glanced at her to make sure she is listening. She was.

"Oh really? Then tell me the reason you suddenly got so worked up with your 'homework', I'm sure it's an interesting story."  She gripped her book a little harder, carefully, not damaging  it.

"I-I can't" Hermione stopped abruptly and took a deep breath. Blaise stopped too, waiting for her, knowing that he will probably get it from her, once she knows the truth.

"Are you serious ?" Her knuckles were white now and Blaise gulped.

"Please don't make this harder, please. I'm sorry, but I can't tell you because that would be like a one way ticket to death." He actually felt bad. Wow.

"Okay." Oh there we go-

"Wait, what ?" He looked her in the eyes and saw pure rage, it was weary how recognizable it looked. "Of course, Blaise, It's perfectly fine. I'm just going to live with the person who hates me, but thinks I'm so dumb and believe that he changed." She laughed, actually finding it funny

"Oh not to mention that he has some dark magic tricks up his sleeve" Blaise widened his eyes, how did she know that ...

"Are you kidding me ?" She practically screamed, attracting some unwanted attention to them. Blaise tried to silence her , but she got heated even more. Her eyes looked murderous.

"Don't freaking shush me you, bloody idiot." Hermione hit him with a book. Hard. Each word she said, he got a hit and it made him cower from her. It was funny how he has dealt with more deadlier people and yet she managed to make him surrender by hitting him with just a book.

 "You, arsehole, I actually thought you were my friend. At least a good classmate. " She scoffed. "Oh my Merlin, I'm a complete idiot." She put a hand on her forehead, holding the book with the other one. 

"That I can agree." Hermione rolled her eyes and turned around to find Ron, with lovely slug on his arm, oh wait no that's Brown. She just fake smiled and started walking again, not facing them anymore.

"Not now, Weasel, don't you see the grownups are having a conversation ? " Blaise asked, a question not needing an answer, and turned around to followed Hermione, fixing his tie.

That was his instructions after all, to follow her.

"How fucking dare you speak to me, you Death-Eater ?" They heard a shout coming from behind them. Hermione groaned and, again, turned around to see a wand pointed at their direction. How unoriginal.

"Incredible." She murmured to herself, but Blaise heard it and snorted.

"I suggest you to shut your trap, snake."  Lavender shouted at them and it was hard to tell who exactly she was talking to. "You should be dead anyway, no place for you here."

"You cast one hex from that wand and I swear you will be in detention for the rest of the year, Brown." The blonde gasped, but didn't lower her wand, true stupidity right there.

"Merlin, I'm done with this shit. Fifty points from Gryffindor. There , happy ?" Ron begun shouting, but the look on Hermione's face was murderous and they backed away, lowering their wands finally.

A thought crossed Blaise's mind again, how similar Draco's and Hermione's actions were. He felt a shiver run down his spine.

 "Try me, Ronald, I. Dare. You." Something flashed in her eyes that made them reconsider their actions and then they slowly backed away.

"You're a bloody traitor you, bitch." He sneered pathetically but was already walking, fast, to their group in the Great Hall.

"And you're a liar you, sodding git." She screamed back and let out a trembling sigh. "One day." She muttered.

"You okay ? "

"Yeah, thank-." Her voice broke and she hid her face behind her curls, swiftly turning away and walking faster. She wasn't crying in front of him, no way.

 "Where are you going ? "

"T-To the library. Books."  Oh no, that's bad, Blaise though.

"No !"

"What do you mean 'no'. I'm going to the library." Mind you, they were still going fast and Blaise was panicking a little.

"I mean we still need to talk-"

"No we don't, I over reacted, you do as you wish, I'm no one to stop you, we're not even friends for me to rant like that." He grabbed her arm only for it to be harshly pulled back.

"Blaise what the hell ?" She was sick of people grabbing her like a rag doll.

"Look, it's not a good idea." He calmly said. "The library is probably closed, you can go in the morning."

"I'll just say that I'm patrolling." Hermione shrugged looking at him suspiciously. "What has gotten into you ?"

"N-Nothing." Just trying to save your arse. She was turning around the corner and Blaise was about to grab her forcefully and drag her back, but then the same three Gryffindors appeared in front of them.

Blaise's mouth was metaphorically locked and he looked around for Draco, praying that this won't backfire on him. She pretended not to notice his weird behaviour.

"Oh." Hermione gasped at the sudden movement and stopped.

Their faces were completely pale and one of the boy's trousers were wet, while the girl had her shirt cover what looks like puke. They completely ignored  the two older students and went straight ahead. Their eyes seemed dazed and out fo focus, feet dragging them to wherever they were going.

"Um, hello are you okay ?" Hermione called out but got no reaction. She recognized them from this morning. She turned to look at Blaise and ask him when he just shook his head at her.

"I don't know, Granger, don't ask." She shut her mouth, thinking to herself that she will find out.... eventually.

Hermione let out a tired sigh, silently hoping that no one will interrupt her anymore. She moved to turn the corner, ignoring Blaise's nagging behind her, only to find herself stumbling forward. Apparently her shoe caught on the uneven slab of stone, making her loose balance. But before she could fall the second time that day, strong hands had caught her and Hermione dropped her book, grabbing on for support.

"Look what I caught." In sing song voice, Draco was holding her and not letting go. Hermione looked up and met his icy grey eyes staring back at her. 

"Merlin, the world hates me." She whispered and trying to break free, wiggling her way out of his hold.

"What are you doing here, Malfoy ?" He raised an eyebrow and clenched his jaw, looked at Blaise then back at Hermione, who picked up her book and dusted off the cover.

Blaise is dead.

 

"Having fun, and I assume you're here for the book, right ?  " He asked while leaning with one shoulder on the stone wall. 

"Having fun ?" She repeated. Bullshit. "Let me guess, that fun somehow is connected to the group of Gryffindors that just walked by? You know, all pale and freaked out." Her sarcastic tone was dry and she rolled her eyes at him, making Draco chuckle.

For Blaise the show in front of him would be quite amusing, if it wasn't for the fact that he will get shit storm after this. Besides he knew Hermione won't leave this alone, she looked determent to know how everything is connected.

"Well I just spooked them that's all. "

"Oh really ? I can't remember the last time someone would puke just from a joke." She pretended to think, humming slightly. "Yeah somehow, I don't believe that."

He let out a bored sigh and started explaining, lies shamelessly leaving his mouth.

"Since the library was about to close and they refused to leave, not to mention they were at the Restricted section, I decided to play a little prank on them." He grinned, that sent chills down Hermione's spine, but she didn't give it away. "It went so well, the idiot pissed himself and the girl puked all over the floor. Simple."

Blaise knows it's not true and that scares him, but it doesn't surprise him ether. He continued to stand there silently watching them interact and how odd but fitting it looked.

"You're lucky I'm not in the mood to serve your arse on the plate for McGonagall." Hermione just shook her head at his excuse and stepped around him, leaving both boys alone in the dimly lit hallway. Her skirt and hair flawlessly 'swooshing' behind her. Draco didn't even hide the fact that he looked at her up and down, with tongue between his teeth.

Then, when she no longer was in sight, he turned to Blaise and shot him a dangerous glare. Then Draco walked away. Blaise already knew what was coming for him so he just followed and didn't say a single word.

~

Draco arrived at the library just in time to see those three entering and looking around.

"Perfect." He murmured to himself, following the group inside.

 

The scent of old books hit Draco and he twisted his lips into something familiar to a smile, a smirk some would call it. His thoughts filling with certain someone yet again that day. But now he has a problem, that needs to disappear, so he had to do this without any distractions.

 

Even though it's dinner time and library was closing in an hour or something, there were still some students studying, not paying attention to their surroundings. The group turned around the corner, of the last row of books. Draco, not noticed by them, stopped and hid behind the corner of the bookshelf near them, listening closely.


"That old hag finally understood who needs to be the 'Golden Trio'." One of them snickered, his hands crossed while leaning on the wall and Draco rolled his eyes at the ridiculous name.


"Shut up, you'll get us in trouble with those comments of yours." The girl hissed and glared at them.

 

"Oh look who decided to take Granger's role." The boy laughed, finding his remark funny.

 

Draco almost scoffed out loud, foolish idiots, digging their graves further and further.

He looked around and saw the last person, besides them, finally leaving and his smile tuned into full sadistic sneer. 'This will be fun' he thought to himself.

 

When the door closed he casted Silencing charm and turned the corner, finally coming face to face with the group. At first their faces showed confusion, but then anger replaced it and they pulled out their wands, only for them to be left disarmed and completely defenseless.


"What the hell ! " One of them shouted and immediately regretting this choice, because as soon as the last word left his mouth he was suffering from intense pain. His knees giving up on him and he fell while clutching his head and yelling like madman. His two friends just stood there, watching with fear.

 

"Try again, politely." Draco's head turned sideways a little, his eyes cold casting each of them a look that resembled death.

 

 Soon in front of him were three bodies, yelling from pain, trying to fight, but in the end loosing. It felt like fire was liking them inside out, making everything burn. Draco slowly kneeled in front of squirming bodies and with venom dripping from his words calmly told them

 

"Touch Hermione ever again and McGonagall will find three dead bodies, who will need fucking magic to identify." His word were clear and he made sure that they responded.

 

"I'm not letting go until you will confirm that you heard me you, dipshits. And believe me this will hurt more with each second." With their head low and in suffering from pain Draco heard small whispers.

 

"Y-Y-es-s."

 

"Marvellous." He stood up, not impressed when he saw that one of them pissed himself and the girl puked on herself , laying there on the ground. The first one wasn't even making any sounds, only watching with tear filled eyes. Pale as snow they were finally released.

 

Draco Obliviated them, only leaving the information they needed to know, and quickly made his way out. Slowly the trio stood up too and followed.

 

Draco was hiding in the shadows, looking at them as they left, distressed and not saying a single word, but a few grunts from pain still could be heard. Seconds later Draco himself followed their path.

 

~

"He fucking shouted at her with his slug beside him, it was rather funny how he was mad and Granger just stood there not surprised or scared. At least for a while." Draco lifted an eyebrow and took a sip of his fire whiskey. He and Blaise were sitting in Slytherin common room, after making sure Hermione was back in theirs, safe and sound.

"Slug ?"

"Oh yeah, my bad, Lavender Brown. Practically climbing on Weasel." Draco looked unamused and sipped again, the burning feeling gone a few gulps ago. Getting the fire whiskey in school was easier than anything .

"And what did he say to her, exactly ?"

"Something along the lines of how she's a traitor and didn't even belong her, stupid shit." Blaise saw the evil look fill Draco's eyes once again, not that it ever left.

Draco gripped his glass hard and it shattered in his hand, small pieces hitting against cold floor, making Blaise wince. His face stayed calm, but at the same time you could see he was furious. You could feel the heavy atmosphere, filled with anger. His blood boiling with hate.

"Bloody traitor, huh ?"

Speaking of blood, a few drops hit the ground from the cut the he made inside his palm. Draco lifted his hand and looked at it, how it glistened in the firelight. The light from a fireplace made his blood look dark and Blaise took a step back, grimacing, but staying calm.

"You're bleeding." Draco didn't react he just stood up and walked out of the common room.

"Weasley should sleep with his eyes open now." Blaise shook his head and went to his new bedroom thinking what was going inside his friend's head right now. It made him shudder out of fright slightly.

~

Hermione was sitting in front of the fireplace, finding herself not being able to sleep or read. Something was off and she knew it, but couldn't put a finger on it.

Hermione felt something for a while now, that weird familiar feeling. Since the war was over and everything came back to normal or at least as much as possible, she felt something deep  inside her. A strange pull towards something but she didn't know what. She also couldn't tell whether was it bad or good, but something important she knew.

Hermione jumped at the loud sound of the portrait door being opened. She instantly searched for her wand on the table, trying not to take her eyes off of the door. Draco stepped trough and she didn't sigh of relief.

"What the hell are you doing, storming in like a madman." She yelled and groaned when she hit her small toe on the coffee table then went back to her sitting position, pouting.

"Maybe I am a madman." He replied, seriousness lacing his voice and she snorted, taking it as a joke. "How about that ?"

"News flash." Hermione whispered and turned to see him walk closer to her. She looked at him up and down quickly, that feeling returning, then she noticed his clenched hand, bleeding and hurting, she guessed.

"Malfoy, you're bleeding."

"News flash." Draco repeated her sentence and she pursued her lips in annoyance. That wasn't so  cute. Hermione stood up and spitting at her warning bells, she walked towards him, taking his bloody hand in hers and examining it. Strangely feeling the need to make it better.

"You need to-" She was about to suggest for him to go and check his hand at their Hospital wing but he interrupted her, already knowing what she was about to say.

"I'm not going there." He said abruptly, his eyes roaming her face, a gaze so intense she had to ignore it. Hermione scoffed and led him back to the place where she was sitting before, shaking her head she sat next to him and took her wand. Professional medical attention didn't interest him as she could see.

"Why did you break the glass ? " She asked quietly, hoping to fill this silence. The witch pointed her wand at his injured hand and murmured a spell. "Episkey."

 Several cuts healed, not leaving scars and the corners of her mouth lifted up a little which didn't go unnoticed. He had a look of admiration on his face.

"How did you know it was  glass? " Stupid question she thought but let go of his hand and put away her wand still weary of it though. Just in case.

"I can smell alcohol coming from you, Malfoy." He smirked, his murderous mood forgotten for a while, the only thing that he was focusing on was her.

"Heard what happened with Weasel today." She tensed and looked up, meeting his grey eyes.

"You talked with him ?" Hermione felt her heart beating faster.

"Of course not, don't be dense. Blaise told me about your little meet up today." His eyes were staring deeply in hers, trying to read her emotions and succeeding.

"Blaise is worse than an older granny, I swear to Merlin."  Draco laughed at her comment which made her freeze in her seat, with his hand still in her hold.

He actually laughed breaking their eye contact and catching Hermione off guard. She noticed little wrinkles in the corner of his eyes and it made her feel strange, nostalgic almost. They looked good on him, made him more human like.

Who would have thought that Hermione Granger made Draco Malfoy laugh. Unbelievable.

"Indeed he is."

Hermione let go of his hand and stood up abruptly. The girl was about to leave, trying to escape this weird and amusing scene, but a hand shoot up and gripped her wrist.

She was forced to lean down towards him.  Letting out a quick gasp she looked up and their eyes met again. Not understanding what was happening, suddenly she felt his hot breath on her cheek.

His lips softly pressed against her skin and she was about to scream bloody murder, but he beat her and as fast as he kissed her he stood up and walked past her.

"Thank you, Hermione." He smirked at her shocked expression and retired to his room. The air stirred her loose curls and tickled her face illuminated by fireplace.

"Prick." She muttered and after  couple of minutes she retired to her room too, choosing to forget this moment and called it a hell of a night. But the burning mark where he kissed her didn't let her sleep all night, instead it was plaguing her mind.

It had to be the her imagination but it seemed like Draco was actually a changed person.

Chapter Text

 

III. SUAVIUM

 

" Forbidden pleasures alone are loved immoderately; when lawful, they do not excite desire. "

 

Hermione was always an early bird, waking up before her parents, friends or even before the chirping of the birds could be heard outside. She loved the quiet time, it was so calm.

The fired up sun was rising, illuminating her room with light and she slipped from her bed. She washed herself and got dressed, took her book from the bedside table and sat on her big windowsill. Reading peacefully and not thinking about anything, but the plot of the story, easily slipping into another imaginary world. Imagining that everything was fine, that she was happy and not miserably alone.

In all honestly she wanted to skip every class and just be read without any looks or whispers around her for a while, but this wasn't possible.

After a couple of hours Hermione put her book down and feeling hungry, left her room. Slight anxiety rushed over her body and mind. Hogwart's Halls were now filled with students who were going to get something to eat.

After making it to her spot where she always sat didn't miss the ugly looks from Gryffindors and other students in the Great Hall.  She gritted her teeth and walked a little faster, wanting to eat quickly and move on with her long day.  

The only difference today was that at the end of the table, beside her usual sitting area, she saw a feathered, blue hat and instantly knew who was sitting there.

"Hello, Luna." She greeted her, testing the waters as to see where she stood in this mess. Hopping for the best she slowly sat down, not taking her eyes off of the blonde girl.

"Oh good morning, Hermione, I hope you don't mind that I'm sitting here ?" She asked in her dreamy voice. Hermione smiled a small smile and shook her head.

"Not at all."

"A lovely girl asked me to switch places with her so she could save her boyfriend, who supposedly, was afraid of me." She explained while eating a buttered toast.

"Oh, well in that case I'm glad she did that." Hermione smiled back, believing Luna understood quite clearly what happened.

Luna smiled wide and they didn't speak for a while, a comfortable silence filling the space. It was silent for a while, the only noise was people around them talking and the sound of cutlery, but then Luna broke that silence.

"It looks a bit weird doesn't it?" Hermione lifted her head from Daily Prophet, that she was reading and her one eyebrow shot up in the asking manner. "Blue mixing with red and gold, but I think it would be more fun if we mingle with colours." She was talking about sitting arrangement.

"I guess." Hermione looked around and accidentally met his eyes. Brown was mixing again with grey.

"I believe you, you know." This snapped Hermione out of the staring contest and she whipped her head quickly to look at blonde girl sitting beside her. Her heartbeat picking up.

"What ?"

"Neville does too. We see how Ron is lying." Said Luna "Shame others are so blind to hate, especially Harry." Luna looked at her. "Mostly people care about the show not the truth." She purposely looked into Hermione's eyes and saw no emotion which chilled Luna to her bones.

Luna Lovegood wasn't afraid of many things but the void she saw in once fired up Gryffindor's eyes was gone, replaced with emptiness, scared her greatly.

"It's so sad after everything you've been trough they choose this path you know ?" Hermione nodded and stood up completely forgetting to eat something, just hearing her pounding heart in her ears. Too much on her plate for the start of the day.

"Thank you." Were the only words that left her mouth and she stormed out of the hall leaving, almost sad looking, Luna sitting alone, wondering what exactly happened.

Soon Neville joined her and asked her if she was alright. Luna wasn't because she felt the energy shift around Hermione and it worried her more and more.

Draco also stood up, as soon as he saw her storm out with disturbed eyes, frantically looking for a way out. He glanced at Looney-Girl and sneered, having a hunch that she had something to do with this. Draco saw her talking with Longbottom, who joined her shortly after Hermione left, completely oblivious about her surroundings.

Draco quickly stood up and left, catching up to Hermione easily and took her wrist in his bigger and stronger hold, stopping her from moving.

"Stop."

"Let me go Malfoy, I'm not in the mood." Hermione felt her voice cracking a little and she hated it. She felt weak and insecure.

"And I'm in the mood to kill someone, if you don't stop I will kill someone." She gritted her teeth and spun around, fearing deep inside that he wasn't joking.

 "What do you want ?" She asked, trying not to cry in front of him, not giving him the pleasure.

He just shook his head and pulled her along, they walked not saying a word, expect her protest of course, until Draco stopped abruptly making the witch behind him crash into his back.

"What in the world-" Hermione yelped when she was pushed in the random classroom. She would fall if it weren't for his hold on her.

"Let me go, Malfoy, or I will knock those teeth out of your skull." She threatened and pulled her wrist from his hand. Gritting her teeth at the stinging feeling.

"You let yourself be too vulnerable, Granger, you should stop it right now." Draco scoffed at her and she felt like a small child. "I cannot have you running around being so weak."

"Why does it matter?" She looked at him confused, also noticing the closeness of their bodies and took a step back, needing more space.

"Now what did Lovegood tell you, that it had you running away like scared child?" He completely ignored her question.

"Why should I tell you ? What gives you the right to drag me across the halls and demand questions.

There. He saw it. In her eyes that flick of the fire he loved so much. IT was there, barely alive but still there.

"You should tell me now before I hand her right outside for everyone to marvel at." He looked in her eyes and saw no hint of fear, so drastically different from before.

"Oh really ? Will you put a bow on her for me too ? " Hermione just rolled her eyes at him and he smirked at her boldness. Her emotions changed so fast it was ridiculous.

"She told -" She stuttered, still shaken about the whole thing, cleared her throat and continued. "She told me that she and Neville believed me... about the whole Ron thing."

She looked away from him, his gaze so intense on her that it made Hermione uncomfortable just talking about this with him more.

"That's it?" He seemed intrigued, determent to find out what he needed in her answers

 "Yeah, although I don't need to tell you anything more." She mumbled. Draco closed his eyes and pinched his nose in irritation. He pretended not to feel that weight being lifted off his chest when he heard her what was said.

"Why did you storm off then ?"

"Too many questions, don't you think ?" She furrowed her eyebrows and his eyes snapped open.

"Fucking answer me !" Draco yelled losing his patience and pressed her against closed door, making her wince in pain. He twisted them around so quickly it seemed humanly impossible.

"What is wrong with you, Draco?" Hermione yelled back at him and tried to push him off of her. "You go around thanking me, apologizing even, dare I say, worrying for me then pushing me against any surface possible. Whatever you're planning it needs to stop now." She looked up, his face inches away from hers, her angry breathing mixing with his. Then she saw how his face relaxed and he loosened the hold on her.

"You called me Draco." He genuinely smiled down at her but she ignored it, killing the soft feeling in her belly at the sight.

"Well that's your name isn't ? Bloody prick, let me go !" He backed away and let her go, putting his hand in the air.

Draco watched as she scrambled to get away from him, ripping the door open and hurrying through. Now his smile was gone and was replaced by his legendary smirk. He followed her, knowing she felt him behind her.

"Sod off, Malfoy,  I'm not your crush for you to follow me." She yelled over her shoulder, ignoring the looks they were attracting. He caught up to her easily with a short laugh.

 "I don't do such things as crushes, love, but there's no denying you belong to me." She stopped in her tracks, her eyes blown wide. Hermione Granger was in a complete shock. She couldn't even speak or think properly. She slowly turned around to face him, not believing those words just left his mouth.

"What possessed you, you moron? I'm not your possession." She huffed out after a few seconds of shocked silence. "You don't get to shit all over my life only because others do, got that? I told you before, Draco-" She pronounced his name clearly "-I will not play these stupid games."

Hermione is so beautiful when she's angry, he thought during her rambling. Now he can see her spirit fired up, loud and clear. He felt it, even now he felt the energy shift around them, responding to her anger, making him shake with excitement.

"I'm not playing, Hermione." Draco looked into her eyes, her honey-brown eyes that could burn him alive, slowly coming towards her. "Not anymore." She laughed out loud, thinking he was joking around still. There were other students now watching them and their little play.

"I will never be yours, you sodding gi-" Hermione didn't finish her sentence when her lips were sealed with his.

He kissed her.

Draco kissed Hermione in front of everyone and he bloody enjoyed it. Her brain shut down completely and she stood there frozen in her place. After standing there, his hand behind her head and his other one on her waist supporting her, she finally snapped. Her palms pressed against his chest and pushed. He smirked, stumbling back and licked his lips.

"How dare you ?" She sounded outraged and furious. He knew what was coming even before he kissed her.

Draco was about to get punched and he waited with excitement.

Smack.

His head even turned. Draco must admit he was really proud of her and how her punching skills got better since their last encounter. It would've have stung if not the adrenalin running through his veins, the victorious look made her even more pissed.

"That's my girl"

When Hermione noticed all the eye directed at them she couldn't take it anymore and chose the cowardly way, yet again. Hermione's head felt light and she ran, small tears flowing down her checks. How could he ? What was he thinking ? All these thought were jumbled in her head and she felt like suffocating.

Of course Draco was aware that basically the whole hall saw them, but that's what he wanted. Gossip and rumours spread in Hogwarts faster than any infection and that's what he need right now. For rats to do their jobs.

For everyone to know that from now on Hermione Granger was untouchable.

~

Hermione ran off not looking where, only stopping when she was alone in the huge cold hall, away from everyone. Taking deep breaths she pressed her hand on her chest and let the reality hit her like am unforgivable curse.

He kissed her. In front of everyone, Draco Malfoy himself.

She laughed and laughed even some more tears escaped. She wiped them off and giggling to herself headed to library, finding no point in her going to first class.

"This has to be a sick joke of his." Her mind was spinning and she still felt his lips on hers. Tracing with her fingertips the part he dared to touch."He's insane."

So are you.

While sitting in the library she pondered what will happen now. They will not just forget what they saw, everyone, even teachers, will know. She sighed and put her head in her hands, trying to lessen the dizzy feeling.

Everyone probably already knows by now and she will not escape it. Well...one more reason for Gryffindors to hate her, for everyone basically.

Maybe she was dreaming, she even pinched her hand until it turned redder then mad Dolores Umbridge. She knew small marks will show up now but she didn't care, not  anymore.

Hermione thought about this kiss and felt  shiver run through her whole body. Malfoy was tender, almost like he didn't want to hurt her and gave her space to pull away, Hermione then also realized that she didn't.  He wasn't gripping her that hard, wasn't forcing her into it and the worst part was that she didn't move away from him.

Not right away at least. Hermione almost kissed back and it terrified her to the core.

"I hate him . I hate him. I hate him." She whispered harshly, repeating the words, almost yelling and leaned on her chair.

Hermione heard someone dropping the books and probably running away, not that she cared anyway. Although not remembering seeing anyone in here besides her. Turning her head she looked through the window. It was raining again and she felt calmer now, tired form all the things happening at once. What could get worse no, she pondered.

Nothing.

Draco's going to get some laughs, she's going to forget and they will get on with their boring, worthless lives. She shook her head stood up, realising the first class ended. She also decided that she will ignore what happened as hard as she could, hoping no one will comment or ask her about it.

~

Draco was elated, practically glowing first time in years. Oh how good it felt when her lips were pressed against his, like they were in their right place. Of course everyone already heard, already talked about it.

'Oh my Merlin you will not believe what...'

He only laughed and touched his lips again for the millionth time that day. Blaise looked at him when they were sitting in class waiting for it to begin.

He never saw Draco so... calm and it scared him because Granger didn't know what power she held in those small hand of hers. He felt all eyes on them and shook his head lightly.

Bloody school rats.

"What if she won't agree ?"

"Of course she will not agree, Zabini, it's Granger were talking about, she will deny it as much as she can but not for long." Draco's eyes turned cold again, as if he realized he was showing feelings.

"What will you do then ?" He asked, lifting one of his eyebrows in question. "Force her ?"

"Everyone has their weak spots, Blaise, even her." Draco smirked. "The hardest thing to do is to find it. Break it."

"You're a madman you know that ?" Blaise wasn't sure if it was a question or a statement.

"It runs in my genes don't you think, my friend ?" He turned his head away from the board, self-cleaning itself, and looked right in Blaise's eyes, then back to the board again.

"She hates you now, what makes you think that she'll fall for you or even share a heart anytime soon ?" He whispered, not wanting others to hear this conversation. He didn't need more blood on his hands.

"Don't you see Blaise ? She's already breaking, of course I need to thank our good friends Potter and Weasley for whatever they did." He chuckled bitterly. "They made it more easier. I suppose I'll send them a gift basket when this is all over."

"You're a sick person Malfoy." Blaise shook his head.

"Blood,  Zabini, it runs in my blood." He sneered, ending their conversation.

~

Hermione will kill him. She will end him and then burn his dead body until its nothing but ashes. No. There will be no ashes, she will destroy everything that will be left of him. As Hermione suspected she couldn't ignore the whole thing for that long, not as long as she wanted anyway.

Every single person with eyes looked at her, even some portraits, already knowing what happened. She felt sick, disgusted and furious. Her jaw hurt from gritting her teeth so damn much and it was only the first half of the day.

Hermione felt trapped like an animal who was about to get skinned and put on the display. She took a few more deep breaths while trying to concentrate on what the professor was saying.

"I suggest everyone to start writing what I'm saying down or I'll take away hundred points of each house. Your call." She thanked the professor in her head, silently praying that no one will look at her from now on. "Now as I was saying..." She let out a sigh of relief and closed her eyes for moment, trying to calm her nerves down.

Oh he's going to get plenty from her tomorrow. She had seen plenty of him tonight.

"Slut." The girl beside pretended to cough, but clearly some students who were sitting around them heard it and snickered. Hermione just rolled her eyes and fake smiled at her.

"Patil dear, close your legs before speaking about others." Hermione bit back with calm face, not affected even a slightest, still writing everything from the board.

"Bitch." The girl sneered and Hermione laughed quietly, thinking how ridiculous she looked doing that.

Oh if looks could kill, Hermione thought.

~

The next morning all hell broke loose.

"Hermione, hold the fuck up-" Draco ducked once again. A small horse figure smashed above him, leaving it unmoving and shattered into tiny pieces.

"Don't talk to me you idiot, stop looking at me, stop breathing near me. I'm done with your jokes, Draco, you crossed the fucking line !" Hermione was furious again, her small hand gripping a small vase so tightly that her knuckles turned white, ready to throw it at him.  

It's been hell of a morning for Draco. She threw everything that got in her hand, of course missing because of the Quidditch skills that Draco possessed, unfortunately for Hermione.

Half an hour later they were in a weird position, Draco with his wand in his hand, shielding himself every second while Hermione was screaming and throwing various things at him but he felt the adrenalin and anger leaving her body and mind in quick seconds. Her breaths became short and heavy, and her hair was everywhere.

The bun she did this morning on top of her head now looked deflated and sad to be honest, hanging lower on her head. Her eyes still looked dark and angry but those rosy cheeks made him think all sorts of things in his head, not shy things at all. But soon her voice snapped him back to reality, making him leave his fantasies.

"You arsehole, couldn't just leave me alone, could you ?" She groaned in frustration and lowered her hand a little when her hand got tired of holding it. "I will nail your balls to a banana plant, I swear to Merlin."

Draco saw this as an opportunity and jumped over the couch, since it was the only thing separating them. Slightly annoyed by her throwing showdown. She didn't even had time to react when the vase from her hand disappeared and strong hands wrapped around her wrists. She growled lowly, venom lasing her voice.

"Let. Me. Go." Draco smirked, liking her attitude and noticing the shivers on her sink from his touch. He liked that quite a lot.

"As hot as you sound when you're angry, Granger, you need to stop throwing things around." She pursued her lips in annoyance, ignoring the feeling in her belly again.

"Make me you, prick." Oh such hurtful words.

"As you wish, love." She widened her eyes, realising what she just said, mostly because of what he mistook her words for and opened her mouth to protest but this was another huge mistake.

Draco pushed her against cold, wooden wall beside their fireplace and kissed her for the second time this week. Her lips felt hot against his and he felt her melt a little in his hold. Trapped between the wall and him, her nerves spiked even more. More than she thought was possible.

He broke the kiss, smiling into it and gave her time to collect herself, to stop her erratic breathing.

"I will castrate you if you won't let me go, I swear it." She said calmly, her head turned, but eyes still closed. Draco, still smirking, admired her face for a few seconds. Eyes closed, cheeks coloured red and short breaths coming from her plump lips as well as from his.

"Come on, Granger, don't you feel the pull." She refused to look at him, her hands pressed against his chest, definitely not feeling his hard muscles under his dress-shirt. "Don't you feel like the excitement running through your veins, knowing you're doing this with me. Knowing you like it."

Hermione whipped her head around again, the tip of her nose touching his. He looked at her, leaning down so their eyes would be the same level. Then when he thought she would scream at him or ramble again, he liked the idea of ravishing her more.

Draco  silenced her again, only this time just a little softer. He felt her body press against his which almost made him lose control. The things she could do to him was astounding.

With his kiss he urged her to surrender, give up already. His body was pressed against hers completely, every gap between them disappearing. Hermione moaned into the kiss her brain once again deciding to quit on her in that moment and she will never admit it but she felt something again.  

Hermione almost kissed him back, but her mind came back, snapped at her and she broke the kiss by turning her head again with great struggle this time. She felt as if she was doing the wrong thing and it made her feel sick.

Draco finally released her and stepped back, aware of her fighting skills, since. Hermione let out a long sigh and opened her eyes. She smoothed out her skirt and gathered her hair into a bun again not looking at him once but feeling his eyes on her the entire time. The tension in the room felt heavy and intense.

Looking around the room and examining the damage that she caused, provoked by him of course, she shook her head pushed past him roughly, casting repairing charm behind her. Soon every little thing came back in place, like it wasn't just thrown at someone seconds ago.

"Let's go. Potions will start soon." She turned around and exited their common room with Draco following her.

It was odd how now they walked in silence, side to side with their heads held up high. As if the kiss they just shared was nonexistent, to her at least. Draco, on the other hand, was wearing a smug grin and his hands were tucked into pockets of his trousers, his posture lazy but at the same time radiated self-confidence, like always.

"I thought you don't care what other people thought of you ?'' He asked while they were sitting in their places, waiting for professor to finally show up. She was staring blankly in front of her, but heard his question clearly.

He took it upon himself to sit next to her in each class they shared, kicking out the poor soul that once sat near her and it made her irritated.

"I don't." She glanced at him and saw him looking at her intensely.

"Then why does it matter if I kissed you in front of everyone ?" He asked again, eager to know the reason. She sighed and turned around in her seat, looking directly at him.

"I don't know what your intentions are, Malfoy. To me it still looks like a sick joke." This brought a flustered sight out of him and his hands clenched, white knuckles showing. After a few seconds he looked at her again, now his tone showed anger and annoyance.

"Fine. Let's make a deal then."

"A deal ?" She scoffed. What a childish tactic.

"Yes. A deal." He nodded and continued. "You'll go to my Quidditch match in a few days and I'll tell you what I want from you. Deal ?" His big sneaky grin made her shit in her seat, feeling that there was something hidden behind it.

"Fine." She shook his hand outstretched hand, ignoring the electricity that went through her body at the touch.

"Perfect." He smiled at her and she felt like she just signed a deal with Voldemort  himself. She shuddered at the thought of it.

Thankfully she didn't need to think about too much, or anything that happened, because the class started. But she knew that the troubles of him sitting beside her were not over.

They were already done with their assigned potion, of course doing it perfectly and now were busy making small talk. Well, Draco was busy bothering her with his comments and making her red all the time. 'It's a good look on you, love.' He said while playing with the lose strand of her curly hair.

"Show offs." Someone coughed out behind them loudly, making a few others murmur in agreement. And how did they regret it seconds afterwards. Draco turned his head slowly, eyes filled with venom ready to kill someone. The boy, a Hufflepuff, gulped and put his hand in surrender motion, trembling in his seat.

"Want to repeat that ?" Hermione tried to say something but strangely the protest died on the tip of her tongue.

 "N-No, I'm s-so sorry, Draco. " Draco smirked and waited while the teacher turned around and helped other group, ignoring the back of the class.

With a quick motion Draco was beside the boy, tall and menacing. His strong hand tightly gripping the boy's hair making him whine in pain then out of nowhere he  slammed his head on the wooden table. The boy hollowed in pain and everyone around them gasped from the action, except Hermione, who was now pinching the bridge of her nose, a frustrated sigh leaving her lips.

"Draco, for Merlin's sake get back here." She hissed at him, noticing that the professor was turning back around. Hermione didn't have time to think about why she was so keen on saving Draco's arse.

Professor turned around and asked what happened, concerned and disturbed by the sight in front of him. Draco just pretended to be worried and twisted his words so he seemed innocent.

"Oh nothing, sir, just helping out my fellow classmate here, poor boy slipped and almost cracked his head open while trying to get something." His sarcasm was so obvious and it  worked perfectly in his favor.

Draco gripped the boy's shoulder, making him cry out more, while holding his bleeding nose in his hand. Hermione rolled her eyes at that, thinking about how she will scold Draco afterwards.

"Oh, my boy, be careful next time." The professor patted the boy's head lightly and dismissed him to the nurses and then returned to his seat. The fake smile that was on Draco's face moments ago was now replaced with sneer, a dangerous one, Hermione recognized.

Draco looked around, shocked faces were looking at back him with worry and fright in their gazes except Hermione. He cleared his throat and fixed his robes. Everyone knew not to tell a single soul. Funny thing you get putting popularity and fear together.

"Was that really necessary ?" Hermione asked in hushed voice, looking up at him.

 "You heard what he said-"

"That doesn't mean you need to smash his head open." She rolled her eyes and he smirked, winking at her.

He loved the flushed look on her face even more and she pretended not to feel satisfaction every time someone would fumble and look away whenever her eyes landed on them. Just because Draco showed them what would happen.

For some reason she didn't eve care for the violent action and it freaked her out more than ever.

Chapter Text

 

IV. CUPIO

 

“I was never insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.”

 

After the war days went so painfully slow, that Hermione was forced to think about everything that happened to her for the past few months.

Sure she found out who to trust, sort of and she managed to survive that long so that's an achievement right ?

Hermione must admit, she hated everything right now and those looks she got really didn't help. You want to know where she is now instead of hiding in her bedroom studying or even getting a small bit of sleep ? She was sitting in the bleachers, waiting for fucking Quidditch to start.

"Never should've made the deal, what's wrong with me, Merlin." Hermione grumbled to herself silently while putting her hands on her knees and after a few moments tensed up, feeling someone sitting next to her. She tuned and expected some angry face looking back but was met with Neville's smiling relaxed face instead.

"Hello, Hermione" He greeted her, despite seeing her narrowed, kind of unfriendly eyes. In the end she just nodded and let herself smile a small smile.

"What brings you here ?" He asked curiously, not remembering seeing her at any games not involving her friends... or ex-friends, he didn't know. (Since this was Slytherins versus Ravenclaws game)

'A dammed devil with bleached out hair.' Hermione wanted to say, but knew it would raise more questions.

"Nothing special, just hanging..." She trailed off, it sounded to pathetic to even finish that sentence. This whole situation was awkward now.

"Well, do you mind if I sit here ?" He questioned again, deciding to ignore her last response, knowing well that it was a failed attempt to hide something.

Neville knew she was lying but decided not to play with fate tonight. She shook her head 'no' and returned her gaze at the field in front of her filled with players sitting on brooms. Until the start of the match they had time to train and warm up.

Hermione was already bored and lost in her thoughts again when her vision was blocked by the devil himself. She lifted an eyebrow at him, unimpressed and slightly frustrated.

"Shouldn't you be warming up, seeker ?" He smirked at her sarcastic call. He was hovering on his broom next to the bleacher's barrier, looking calm and not nervous at all. 

"Already did." He said and tilted his head to the side. "Glad you showed up, love."

"Yeah, needed to see you falling off that broom to lift up my spirits. " Her fake smile made him chuckle.

"Maybe you could do a few tricks with it, come on, boy, spin around." She mockingly waved a non-existent treat in her hand and he narrowed his eyes at her.

"Ah I see, well sad to tell you this but not today." He winked at her, decided to play along but ignore her last comment.

"Well that gives me hope that someday you will." Hermione rolled her eyes at him making him laugh a little and with last look at her, flew away, since the announcer started to speak. Neville, who's been watching this whole interaction with amazement, would dare to say the look resembled something to adoration.

"Good riddance" She whispered, her checks slightly red and eyebrows furrowed.

"Uh, Hermione ? May I ask-" Neville tried to ask, while popping a popcorn into his mouth still amazed and slightly terrified of what he saw just a few moments ago.

"No." Fair enough, he nodded and decided to live another day and not to piss her off more.

"It'll rain soon" A gentle but sudden voice made them both jump, Neville's buttered popcorn with red and golden beans fell onto the floor loudly, making him curse. Hermione whipped her head around and saw Luna sitting one row higher than them, watching the sky above.

Neville and Hermione looked at each other, not understanding.

"What makes you say that, Luna ?" Neville asked patting his hand on the bench in between him and Hermione as an invitation for the blond witch to sit there.

"On my way here I saw your Crocus flowers blooming bright blue, Neville."

"Oh yeah, Grandma sent those seed to me not long ago. They bloomed already ?" He was slightly confused. "They weren't supposed to.." He trailed off to himself silently.

"Of course, with an energy like this it's only a matter of seconds..." Luna trailed off, now inspecting her hands and picking at the spots where there's still dried paint was left.

"Wait, what are Crocus flowers ?" Hermione asked confused about the whole conversation more than ever, she never heard of those before, then again Herbology is not her strongest skill.

"Crocus flowers can broadcast the weather in a way.. you see they bloom blue when the rain is coming, although I'm not sure if it's true." Neville shrugged and returned to watching the game. It made Hermione pout at the thought of rain.

Hermione looked at the sky, some clouds were forming but she wouldn't say that it would rain. Oh well, she brushed it off and also returned to watching the ridiculous activity before her.

The second she looked a Ravenclaw player, Roger Davies, she recognised him, he came crashing down with his broom next to him. Her eyes widen a little at the brutality that she couldn't swallow down still.

The game was messy and brutal, she has to applaud both teams though. Both seemed to not give up the win. As she expected. Hermione would sooner die than admit that she searched and found her blond tormentor... she can admit that he has a sharp eye and mad skills.

In the middle of the game she felt a few drops of rain hitting against her cheeks and soon the whole sky broke down on them. It started to rain and everyone pulled out their umbrellas with house colours or something else painted on them. Hermione shivered at the sudden cold and wet feeling and put her arms around herself, her clothes already damp and hugging her body.

Hermione groaned, annoyed that she didn't take her jacket or something with her. Thankfully, the bleachers soon were covered with floating roof, shielding the watchers from rain.

Groans were heard and she was sure if she looked at the faces of the girls, she would see mascara running down their faces. Despite the heavy rain and the lighting hitting closer and getting louder each time the game didn't stop.

She even checked to see if he's still on his broom...again she'll deny that she did that.

Hermione saw Draco flying around, zooming past her and under the stage, around the whole pitch, honestly, she could barely keep up with him. He was now high above in the sky with the Ravenclaw seeker, they pushed at each other and violently tried to get rid of one another but Draco's force was much stronger, she even felt that energy radiating off of him. She pondered if anyone else could feel it.

Soon they disappeared into the clouds.
Hermione heard gasps around her, also shocked at the sudden disappearance and took it  as something bad.

She stood up and came closer to the barrier of the stage, letting the rain surround her again, this time not paying attention to that. Neville tried to call her back but she ignored him, her eyes focused on the spot in the dark sky where they vanished. Hermione heard her heartbeat in her ears loudly, and her hands clenched around the railing.

She felt slight fear, not for Draco but for that boy who was battling against him, knowing he will have it harder than anyone. After a few seconds searching through the clouds, the rain making it much harder, she saw something fall. She covered her mouth with her hand and heard gasps and screams around her.

The Ravenclaws' seeker was falling from the sky above with high speed, in only seconds he will hit the ground in front of everyone and... She looked away, seeing blood never brought good memories, especially after the war.

Then she heard nothing.

It seemed like everything stopped in time. She gingerly turned her head and opened her eyes looking at the bloody mess but saw nothing. The boy was hovering a few meters above the ground and seconds later landed on his front with a 'thud'. It seemed like everyone let out a collective sigh of relief.

Still no Draco though and as Hermione looked up again, seeing him flying down, she even felt his smugness. One of his hands was held above his head, with... a golden snitch in his grip, tight. He stopped in the center of the pitch, the announcer officially ending the game.

Slytherins won.

The team flew up and huddled together but Draco paid them no mind, his other hand rose and he pointed straight at Hermione, who was now gaping at him. She felt eyes on her again, too much attention for one day. 

"What are you doing you bloody idiot !" Hermione screamed, the sound was dulled by the rain and stormed off, not wanting more stares on her. She had enough of this stress and anxiety.

Hermione quickly climbed down from the bleachers, almost tripping on the stairs in the process and took a turn, walking through the dimly lit corridors. Under her nose she cursed at everyone and everything.  

"Hey !" She stopped in her tracks and turned around, the drops of water hitting the ground. There stood Draco Malfoy glorious and... wet.

Still in his uniform, hair clinging to his forehead, he managed to look handsome. He let go of his broom and it fell down on the floor, echoing in the empty halls, since most of the students still celebrated or did Merlin knows what elsewhere. Hermione lifted her eyebrow and crossed her arms on her chest, partially trying to cover up herself, since the white blouse became see through.

"What do you want ? You got your show, now go and enjoy it and leave me the hell alone." She raged, still angry at him after the whole pointing thing in front of everyone oh and let's not forget the kiss, or kisses should be said. They surely will talk now, if the whole school wasn't rumbling with rumours now.

"Don't I get congratulations ?" He came closer to her and now they were a few meters away from each other. Draco's face was calm and not showing any emotions, eye dull and clouded. "Or at least a pat on the back ?"

"Oh hell no." Her face was stone cold but then she remembered the deal and her face morphed into sarcastic expression.  "Oh wait, I remember why I came to this stupid thing. Tell me now, Malfoy, or the only thing you'll kiss will be your pearly white teeth goodbye." She threatened, now pointing her index finger at him.

He looked around them, making sure no one else was nearby and with a few strides he was in front of her, hands on her waist throwing her across his shoulder without any trouble.

"As you wish." Hermione was taken aback by the sheer force of his hold and how he quite literally picked her up and carried her into empty classroom. Honestly who leaves these room unlocked all the dammed time ? She should probably panic more about her situation.

"Let me go!" Hermione felt his hand on her bare thighs and she has to admit that she shivered because they were colder than ice. "I said-"

He let go of her and she thumped on her arse, right on the stone floor she let out a small 'ow'. Hermione glared at him ready to punch him in the face, once she'll stand up of course.

"Before you punch me, shut the fuck up and let me talk." He offered her his hand and when she didn't take it he forcefully lifted her up by her forearm. Hermione took her arm out of his grasp and backed away a few steps, her behind bumping on the working bench.

"Talk." She demanded.

"I'm not going to bullshit you, Hermione, not anymore." He looked at her intensely, skin shinning form the light. "For now, and only for now, this stays only between us got it?" His serious voice startled her. His eyes were dark and cold, mirroring hers.

"Does it look like I have someone to tell ?" She asked and felt her throat closing, her heart clenching and it probably showed on her face. All those memories still haunting her and no matter how much she wants to forget them, she can't. Even now, thinking about it, brought tears.

"Stop doing that," He took a step towards her, anger slowly rising in his voice and she automatically took one back. "Stop being so fucking vulnerable all the time, Granger !"

Draco raged and she gasped as he came even more closer to her, he could freely touch her now. His hand rose and touched her neck, while she put her palm against his, slowly rising, chest, trying to push him away.

"What are you on about, Malfoy ?" She asked, her voice slightly trembling, the effect of his closeness. For some reason she couldn't concentrate, couldn't think or even breathe near him and it drove her mad.

"I'm going crazy, Granger, and I can't control it anymore, you can't either." He exhaled, his hand gripped her waist tightly and with ease he lifted her up on the bench. He stood in between her parted legs and their faces where close to each other.

"You need to stop, Draco-" She tried but her voice got caught in her throat, her hand gripped his board shoulders now. The battle against her morals was a lost cause. "We can't-"

"I know you feel it too, every time when we touch, when we kiss-" He pulled her closer, their noses touched and she looked into his eyes, illuminated by lighting. It was already dark outside, no one was walking around the halls and she shivered, knowing that one  will hear them here.

His eyes, they looked so dark, Hermione was sure hers were dark too but she couldn't help it. Each breath they exhaled got heavier, the whole room felt heavy and charged with electricity, it got so hot that she forgot about them being wet from rain and shivering a few seconds ago.

"You just need to accept it, accept me and you'll feel true happiness, Hermione, I know you will." He almost sounded pleading. "I will make you happy."

She closed her eyes and bit her lip, when she felt his other hand going up her thigh, her whole body shivered and she lost all her control that she possessed. Hermione was already lost, so, so lost in him. 

"You'll be mine and I'll be yours-" And at the loud crack of thunder she kissed him, not letting him finish.

Draco gripped her so hard, afraid that she'll just run, she was sure it'll leave a mark but at that moment it didn't matter. He kissed her roughly, biting and sucking on her lip, pressing her harder against him. His hands traveled up from her waist, brushing past the side of her breast, sending shivers down her spine.

She felt him, she felt so much at that moment too. The magic around them fired up, it got so hot and it looked like they were trapped in a box, only two of them. She didn't mind that thought now.

Her hands tangled in his almost-white, wet hair, gripping hard, making him groan. Draco trailed kisses down her neck and then he heard the most beautiful sound ever. She moaned his name.

"Draco."

He let out an animalistic growl at that, her moan went straight down his body, igniting his desire and need for her even more. Draco had her in his arms and it wasn't his usual fantasy, it was real. Hermione felt his fingers travelling all round her, she inhaled his scent, even without showering he smelled good. He smelled like home.

They both couldn't pull away and that triggered something in her head finally.

With all the strength she could muster, Hermione pushed him away and he stumbled, not expecting it to end so soon. They looked at each other, she felt dizzy and the whole room started to spin around her. Their heavy breathing filled the empty classroom, they ignored the rattling of the windows.

"W-w-" Her voice trembled like her whole body and she looked at her hands. Strange thing for her was that he was trembling too, his hands itching to touch her again yet he tried so hard to control himself.

"What's h-happen-n-ign to me?" Hermione asked, not understanding anything that was going on.

Hermione felt sudden power in her hands, like she will blow up with all the strength she felt right now. She looked at him and shook her head, jumped off of the bench, legs slightly wobbling and after a few seconds tore her gaze away from him and ran.

Draco knew she'll run even before she jumped off that stool but remained still, forcing himself to stay still. She brushed past him and he looked at the door now slammed shut after her. He tried to control himself but it didn't work, this was one of those rare times where he completely lost it.

Out of that anger and mostly lust, he gripped the bench and flipped it, took the chair and slammed it against the wall sending broken pieces of wood flying around him.

After a few moments the whole classroom was a mess, everything was broken and messed up, the books lying around scattered, torn papers all round him. He brushed his slightly bruised and throbbing hand through his damp hair and left without another word or action, slamming the wooden door with force.

~

Hermione came back still shaken and confused but mostly angry at herself.

Her head stopped spinning when she left that room, when she left him standing there which felt so wrong. She climbed the stairs, went to her room and slowly undressed herself, her body now freezing from a sudden heat loss. She filled the bath and slowly sat down in it the water warming her up but it felt so different from his heat. Hugging her knees closer to her chest she buried her face in her knees.

"Pull yourself together." Hermione harshly whispered to herself.

She thought about everything that happened once again, what lead to it, what will happen now. She would be dumb is she still thought he was joking, now she knew Draco wasn't fucking around. Everything is much more serious. There were so many questions, so many, and she hated not having answers.

Hermione tried to relaxed and stretched out her limbs in the tub, convincing herself to try and not panic, not yet. There's something else isn't ? There has to be.

What happened there was not normal, that's not how people feel when they kiss. Sure she heard about fireworks and all that but she knew for sure there was no drug-like effect included.

Hermione bit her lip until she felt it bleed just thinking about it. She hated to admit it but she felt alive back there. Like her soul came back to her after all the suffering, the hurt she felt. She shook her head, dismissing her unreasonable desire and reminded herself just who she was thinking about.  Those thoughts need to be killed and she needs to figure out this with clear head, with or without him.

She climbed out of the bathtub and dried herself. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a bruise on her skin. Hermione turned and looked at herself in the mirror, her full body before her. She gasped at the sight in front of her.

Dark blue marks, his fingertips, were forming on her waist and hips. Hermione inspected herself more, walking a bit closer to the mirror and looking at her face. She gulped when she saw it. Saw the life coming back to her, saw how alive she looked after months.

It looked like she wasn't experiencing hurt and suffering at all. Hermione looked beautiful. And in her head everything sounded so dramatic and so overrated but it was the truth. She left the bathroom quickly, hearing footsteps climbing up and a door slamming shut.

Hermione changed into her sleepwear and laid in her bed, trying not to think about it too much, about him in the other room. She closed her eyes tightly and curled on the bed, silently praying that sleep would take over. It didn't.

Hermione woke up an in a middle of the night, her head throbbing with pain. She sat up in her bed and groaned. The storm outside now calmed down, only light rain could be heard hitting against the glass.

She stood up and put on her robe hiding her exposed skin, since she was wearing shorts. With her wand she lit up the candles in her room and winced at the sudden source of light, making her headache worse.

Silently she opened the door and stepped outside, waited a few seconds listening for any sounds, trying not to wake him. She took calming breaths and tucked a loose strand of her hair behind her ear, trying to relax, saying to herself that he's asleep and she shouldn't worry so much.

With an intention to get a glass of water she climbed downstairs to their common room and saw the fire place still burning, illuminating the room. She turned to walk to their private small kitchen, when a voice stopped her and her heart dropped.

"Rough night ?" Draco asked sitting in front of the fireplace on the sofa, she didn't know how she missed him sitting there, but it all became blurry for a second.

"M-My head hurts, so don't mind me." She quickly said, praising herself for sternness in her voice.

Hermione left him alone then took a glass of water and drank some muggle pills since they helped the best, in her case at least. She came back and for some reason, nothing makes sense to her anymore so she doesn't even try to explain it, instead of avoiding him she came closer to him, swallowing the slight worry back down.

"You okay ?" She asked unsure about the place where they stood now, relationship vice she guessed.

Draco turned his head, looked at her and whispered something but she couldn't hear what the words were.

"What ?" He shook his head and stood up, putting his glass on the coffee table and came closer to her. She could smell firewiskey coming from his breath and fear struck her slightly.

Since when she was such a coward ? She asked herself with her eyebrows furrowed. He looked into her eyes and raised his hand, gently touching her cheek and smiled lightly. A rare sight, Hermione learned.

But that still shocked her because it seed so private and intimate, just a smile. She waited for something, yet she didn't' know what. Hermione looked down and his hand dropped, she turned around and slowly walked up the stairs, uncertain if she was making the right choice.

 His voice stopped her however, right in the middle.

"Hermione ?" She inhaled turned her head to the side, desperately in her head she pleaded.

Ask me. Ask me that question please.

"Do you regret it ?"

If he would've seen her smirk at that moment, he would be proud of his work. After what felt like millennia for Draco, she answered. Simply, but that was enough for him, more even.

"No."

If she could've seen his smile at that moment, she would be too shocked to believe it.

Chapter Text

 

V. IRA

" The break would never come as long as fear could turn to wrath."

As Hermione expected, she got sick from standing in the rain for so long and not taking a hot shower sooner. As a consequence she had a headache for the past few days and whenever she stood up too quickly her vision became blurry for a few seconds. She would just feel awful, like all her life was drained.

Now addressing the elephant in the room, after the encounter and the late 'talk' with Draco she has turned the cowardly way and tried to avoid him as much as she could. Instead of coming down into their common room, she usually stayed in her room and left or returned early. Not knowing how she managed to avoid him so well, except their shared classes, she thanked whoever helped her up there. And the tensions between them was unbearable.

Hermione would sit in the far back where no one would notice her, no one would pay her attention. That didn't help though since he would always know when she entered the room, his gaze would fall on her, making her shiver slightly. And then she was forced to skip all her classes where he made her sit with him. She avoided Blaise as well, still not understanding why he switched places but it wasn't her concern she tried to remind herself.

Since the school rats spread the word about her kiss with Draco, and him dedicating his win for her, quite publicly, she was more hated then before. Hermione honestly couldn't believe they still cared about the house rivalry or who kissed who thing, it seemed childish to her and quite frankly immature. Sure, not all of her fellow classmates where nasty to her but she didn't even try to befriend others since there was no point in that, at least in her eyes.

Even if you don't hate the person, you still don't want to be associated with them, she understood that.

Most Hufflepuffs were gawking at her just because, let's face it, she seemed scary to them without her usual smile, so that's that. Ravenclaws didn't pay any attention to her or were silently judging her, smart enough to hide it or not showing it. Slytherins, especially girls, wanted to murder her for obvious reasons, so she had no one left basically.

Well, she can't say that either.

Luna, bless her heart, has been around her when Hermione didn't disappear into her room or library rows, she would just sit and draw while usually Hermione did her homework.

As well as Neville, they seemed pretty friendly to her and didn't try to hurt her yet. She almost hit herself for saying the 'yet' part, trying to convince herself that not everyone is after her head but that didn't help. She couldn't shake the feeling of the danger around them and it was suffocating her silently.

How much her former friends hurt her was astonishing to her, how without any action towards her they still could affect her that way.

About her ex-friends, well she was basically bullied by Ron and his small army of fans. Delusional idiots, she called them. Hermione was about to hex him one time but her stupid hand trembled so much she couldn't concentrate and stopped.

Harry avoided her like a deadly disease and good for him honestly, because Hermione can't promise that he would pass her without an injury. Overall, every person she cared about, abandoned her in her life now, left her like a used up trash.

But losing Harry hurt- still hurts the most. She thought that they would stay together forever, best friends my arse she thought, bitterly and blinked away her tears once again. The stinging feeling made her head hurt more and it sucked.

Hermione successfully stopped herself form crying, swallowing the lump in her throat and got up from her bed, once again she held her bedside table for support, since her head seemed to spin more than usual this week.

She was supposed to patrol the halls this night and she remembered that only this morning. Hermione let out a sad, pathetic, Malfoy would comment, sigh and got dressed in her comfy, warm clothes, since the air started to get chilly. Grabbed her book just in case and left her bedroom. Lazily coming down the stairs she found, thankfully, the common room empty.

"He must be out with Blaise or something." Hermione murmured to herself and left quickly.

Walking slowly around the halls she got bored easily and pulled out her book. With quick charm it levitated before her and she continued her patrolling, slowly walking.

As Hermione neared the Armoury hall, filled with suits of armour, who were once summoned in the war, she heard noises nearby. She stopped walking for a few seconds trying to listen, her wand in her hand ready for an attack but didn't hear anything else so she just brushed it off, deciding she just imagined it and was just paranoid.

She was seriously going bonkers, Hermione thought. Stupidly, she tucked her wand back and continued down her path, whishing for this to be over soon. Looking back at this moment, she cursed herself for doing such idiotic thing.

Not long after, the sound neared her quickly. Hermione recognized it as footsteps but it was too late since her wand was knocked out of her pocket. She only had time to look up at her attacker. There stood two students, one girl she recognized from Ravenclaw and a boy from Slytherin.

"What do you think you are doing ?" Hermione asked, anger filling her voice. "Twenty points from- " She didn't get to finish her sentence and at this moment she was disappointed in herself for not doing anything quicker and blasting them both across the hall.

"Patrificus Totalus !" One of them shouted and she felt mobilized in her place, not being able to move just to stand there like one of the statues. Her levitating book also fell down with a 'thud' on the stone floor, the sound echoing in the hall and she gulped, sensing that this won't end good for her. Was this karma getting her revenge for Neville ?

"I knew we'll find you here, you scum." Hermione inhaled sharply, felling her anger rising at the nickname but still she couldn't do anything, truth be told she felt pretty pathetic at the moment.

"How dare you walk these halls huh?" Asked the Ravenclaw girl, her wand raised and pointed at her."You don't belong here, you worthless muggle, you don't have enough strength to exist in our world" She spit right at Hermione's feet.

If she'll get out of here alive, she will choke that girl with her bare hands, Hermione thought.

"Tell your friends- oh wait, you don't have them any anymore. Miss Perfect screwed up big time." They both laughed and it almost stung.

"Anyway, tell them thank you for putting my worthless father back in Azkaban and as a present, I'll hang you near the Griffyndor's portrait myself." The boy lifted his wand and came closer to her, putting it near her throat.

"Not if I hang you there first." Came a fourth voice, which she recognized instantly and relief washed her body. Never ever in her life she thought that she would thank Draco for showing up.

The two attackers didn't even have time to react when they fell on to the stone, cold floor, screaming form agonizing pain. She looked at them and strangely felt no remorse, none at all, she even enjoyed it.

Draco came closer, stepping over their bodies gracefully, she might add, and shook his head at her, disappointment on his face showed clear and loud. Draco Malfoy stood in front of her now, wearing his black but casual suit, with his almost white hair glowing in the candlelight. She saw his clenched jaw, making it even more sharper and his cold, rage filled eyes.

All of them were in trouble now. Including her.

"What did I tell you, love, stop being so weak, it doesn't do good for both of us." He sneered her turned away from her and kicked the boy on the floor hard probably breaking one of his ribs or at least leaving a nasty bruise.

Hermione was afraid, again, not for herself, but for those two bodies tossing in pain on the floor, knowing what Draco was capable of. She suddenly got released from her hold and fell on her knees, her head started to throb again, and the ground looked much closer and blurrier.

One thing Hermione knew that she should stop him or he will kill them but... but her head, everything felt heavy and loud and she was exhausted, so tired despite sleeping so much.

Everything was spinning around and she just wanted to close her eyes, just to- no. Hermione tried to stand up, her hands barely supporting her and she was slipping quickly. She felt herself being picked up, a strong hold supporting her limp body. She tried to get away but she didn't succeed, not even close since she couldn't even lift her hand. His cologne filled her nostrils and she felt calmer and safe.

"Stay awake for me, Granger, just a little longer." The harsh whisper made her wince.

Hermione wanted to, really she did, but everything felt too much for her and she just wanted to sleep so bad. Her vision blurred heavily, black dots appeared and with their screams in her ears she fainted in Draco's arms.

~

First thing Hermione noticed when she was conscious again was that she wasn't in her bed. This bed was more comfortable and smelled really nice, really nice.

Hermione slowly blinked, surprisingly, no sun blinding her vision or making her wince from the brightness. She groaned and put her hands on her face, rubbing the sleep off.

Hermione felt much better than before, noticing that her head wasn't exploding or that she wasn't feeling like throwing up. She sat up in the bed, still not recognizing her surroundings or anything at all.

Someone cleared their throat and she looked at her side, where Draco was sitting in his armchair but with him sitting in it, it seemed like it was a throne. His face showed that he felt annoyed and possibly worried. More annoyed, she decided.

"Good morning, sunshine, how was your sleep ?" She recognized the fake sweet voice and it made her cringe. He threw the newspaper he was reading on the coffee table, aggressively she might add, it making the loud slapping noise.

Okay, scratch that, he wasn't annoyed, he was mad. At her. And for some reason she didn't like it at all.

"How-" She tried. She failed.

"No, Hermione, you will shut up and listen now." He interrupted and stood up from his seat. Crossing his arms together on his chest, looking like a disappointed parent.

"I tried to give you time and space to fucking pull yourself together after our last encounter, it was advised for me actually, but now I see how fucking wrong that was." She was truly taken aback by his honesty and sincere worry. Hermione stood up too, feeling overpowered by his voice alone.

That's why I didn't see him so often.

"Now you see what it came to ? You going around fainting like a weak duckling-" Weird comparison but okay. She has to admit she lowered her head, slightly out of shame. "You could've taken those two fuckers easily" He scoffed, running his hand through his hair, tousling it.

Hermione bit her lip and waited. They stood in silence for a while and in that time she noticed that her clothing changed. She was in a black oversized t-shirt and her underwear only. She'll ask him later but for now she knew what she had to do.

Draco on the other hand started to pace around his room, Hermione decided, considering the black and emerald green colour scheme. He stopped however when he heard her speak. It was soft, too soft for her but he turned around to face her.

"What ?" He asked too harshly, making her furrow her eyebrows.

"Thank you, for  you know." She trailed off, he could've sworn he saw her blush "Thank you for saving me, Draco." Hermione looked up at him and Draco felt a pang he hadn't felt for so long, right where he guessed his heart would be.

Draco let out a sigh and with few strides came to stand in front of her. She didn't even have time to react when she was enveloped in a tight embrace, his scent filling her nostrils again, making her close her eyes.

Draco Malfoy was hugging her. And after a slight hesitation she hugged him back, wrapping her arms around his middle tightly. She felt his head come to rest on top of hers.

She missed it, the warmth you feel when you hug someone, the care you feel.

"Please." He almost pleaded, his voice was softer now and it surprised her. "Please don't avoid me anymore, Hermione." He asked her and pulled away slightly, his hand came to rest on her right cheek. His thumb caressed it gently, while his eyes locked with hers and for the first time in a while she felt completely safe, here in his arms.

Hermione knew that this couldn't be a game, this is real and Draco cared. How or when it happened she didn't know but something still didn't give her peace in her mind.

Several things actually.

"What- " She hesitated. "Did you kill them ?" She asked, not knowing what kind of response she wished to hear. He lifted one of his eyebrows at her.

"Would you like me to ?" He was hopeful.

"No." Hermione pretended she didn't consider the other option for a while.

"I think you just hesitated right there." He tilted his head to the side slightly.

"Just answer the question, Draco." She stepped away from the embrace, now annoyed and he chuckled.

"No, but I was really damn close." He crossed his arms again, ignoring the want to pull her back or push her back into his bed. She seemed to fit there really well in his eyes.

"Good, I don't want to know anything more, since I'm assuming they don't remember anything right ?"

"Clever little witch." He admired her and she cleared her throat, her cheek getting warmer.

"Now, who changed my clothes ? " She mirrored him and crossed her arms also and he smirked.

"Someone had to right ? Anyway, yours were dirty from the filthy ground and I won't let you sleep in my bed with filthy robes, if you're naked on the other hand..." He trailed off and Hermione gaped at him and was ready to punch him in his satisfied looking face.

"Don't worry I closed my eyes, although on the second thought I don't remember if  actually did." He winked at her and she pushed past him, exiting his room with frustrated groan.

Hermione heard him laugh at her, a sound she will never get used to, and pretended not to feel his eyes following her behind and bare legs. She felt much better.

~

Everything came back to normal after that, as normal as it could get, and she seemed okay for now. Suddenly her appetite rose and she seemed healthier. He was around her more frequently and she wasn't trying to avoid him that much.

But Hermione had  several questions for Draco still and planned to get them out of him, since her health strangely seemed to coordinate with his presence.

She was having lunch with Luna and Neville, when she felt someone sitting next to her. Since she was looking down at her newspaper she didn't see who it was but judging from a few gasps around her and murmurs starting she guessed correctly.

"Hello, Draco." She lifted her head looked to her side where he sat facing her, his head on his palm.

"Hello, love." Neville seemed  to choke on his pumpkin juice at that moment, Luna softly hitting his back unfazed by the exchange in front of them. Hermione noticed Blaise standing next to them, looking bored as usual.

"Hi, Blaise." He winked at her, earning a glare from Draco who got ready to say a few words to his friend but got interrupted by Hermione.

"What do you want ?" Draco looked back at her and took one of her curls, twirling it around his finger, smirking. "Here to ruin my image even more for hanging around snakes ?" Her smirk in return made him swell with pride and he chuckled at her remark.

"We have a meeting today with McGonagall, after dinner." He said, still oddly fascinated with her hair, he looked quite interested in it, watching it wrap around his index finger. She let out a sigh and nodded, her plan of reading thrown out of the window.

"I'll be there." After a few second of them staring at each other he got up and without another word left, bunch of eyes followed him. He glared at those who watched Hermione.

"Drama queen." She mumbled under her nose.

"Look, Granger, I hope you're not mad about me changing places ?" Zabini asked her still standing there, feeling like playing with fire today. Hermione looked at him and smiled while shaking her head 'no'.

"I'm fine, Blaise, I suspect you didn't have another choice." He grimaced at the memory.

 "Just be careful okay ? I know what happened and I heard things around..." He trailed off, remembering where they were, and glared at everyone, especially where their heroes sat.

"Yeah I know, thank you," She genuinely thanked him, not surprised that he knew, he was observant in that way.

Blaise crouched next to her and looked at Luna and Neville but they were busy arguing about some new magical creature, Merlin knows Blaise doesn't care. He directed his gaze back at her, a somewhat concerned look greeted her.

"Listen, Granger, you know what to ask him don't you ?"

"To be honest, I'm really confused. I have more questions than before and I'm not sure I want the answers to some of them." She whispered, putting her hand on her forehead in annoyance.

"Just don't give up please, you have no idea what power you hold in those hands of yours." He said putting his hand on her shoulder, showing support. "Just give each other time okay? This is much bigger than you think." He smiled at her, which rarely happened and she, according to others, should feel blessed right now.

Blaise Zabini always was a secretive person, not showing emotions or getting in anyone's business, which worked for Draco well. They were similar like that but Blaise had more humanly qualities in him. He always seemed to know everything about anyone, his charms and hidden charisma getting him what he wanted.

The dark-skinned boy would hate to admit it but the brilliant witch before him held a soft spot in his heart, not romantically of course because Draco would kill him without any second thought. The need to protect her always was there, even before the war.

"I don't even know what we are, Blaise, I'm really confused."

"Let's hope you're as brave and smart as everyone says," He chuckled." Because if you're not, we're all fucked."

"Oh sod off, you arse." He winked again and hearing Draco yelling to get away from Hermione, left. Not before saying silent goodbye to Luna and Neville who were now giving each other the silent treatment but said their goodbyes to Blaise back. Blaise only spared one last glance to Luna.

Hermione huffed and pursed her lips, what was she supposed to do now ? She stood up after a few minutes too, taking her books with her.

"Come on, Neville, we have potions with those two." She rolled her eyes in annoyance when someone walked past her and bumped into her accidentally. She also didn't miss the glare.

"Oh yeah." Neville laughed at the thought, finding it funny for some reason and stood up too.

"I'll walk with you. Zabini's looks like a fun creature to talk with." Luna's light voice waved through air and they moved towards the halls.

Hermione laughed with them, for the first time not letting her dark thoughts cloud her thinking and she felt free, at least for a while.

"Wow, so it's really true ?" She stopped in her tracks making Luna and Neville stop too. Her hear dropped down to her feet at hearing those words.

Hermione could easily recognize the voice of Harry Potter. She turned around facing him, her hands gripping her books tighter to her chest, as if trying to protect herself with them.

"What do you want, Harry ?" Hermione already knew nothing good will come out of this. She had this sinking feeling in her gut.

"I just want to know how much lower could you sink?" He shrugged, not paying any attention to Neville and Luna, who stepped away from Hermione slowly.

"Me ?" She asked in disbelief. "How dare you talk like that ?" She handed her books to someone, who scrambled to gather them. She walked closer to her former dear friend, folding her arms on her chest instead of where her books once were.

"You're so weak, Hermione, that you seek shelter from blokes like Malfoy or that Zabini ?" He shook his head in disappointment, his eyes looked cold. "And here I thought you were a decent girl who didn't spread her legs just because she got rejected by her crush."

Oh she was proper mad now, so mad that you could feel it radiating from her. In fact, everyone could feel the strange aura that surrounded her when Harry finished his sentence.

"Harry Potter, I suggest you watch what you say next before I shove my wand down your throat." Hermione said, using his full name.

She was aware of all the students gathered around them, enjoying the show because they obviously had nothing better to do. Unfazed by this she didn't back down.

"Ask Ron what really happened that night, make him drink the fucking truth serum I don't give a shit but make sure he says the truth." She dared him. "I can even lend a hand to you, if you're not capable of doing it yourself."

Harry Potter didn't know yet but he forever will regret the words that'll come from his mouth in seconds. His bruised ego and pride let him talk foolishly.

"You're a desperate, lonely and pathetic little girl who needs more attention than a spoiled brat and who will do anything to get it. I will forever regret wasting my time on you, Granger." They heard gasp around them.

At that moment Hermione lost it, not in a crying way, no. Inside she was in complete chaos now. Her mind completely shut itself down, she felt her blood boiling and others felt it too, everything seemed to get darker around them. Even the wind inside the halls, seeping from the cracks of the windows, picked up, tossing her hair around slightly.

"Oh no, not now." Hermione heard Luna say behind her. She imagined the girl gripping Neville's hand tightly. "Neville, get Draco right now." Neville listened and took off running.

"Are you done spitting that bullshit out of that hole you call a mouth, Potter? Because if you're done, I'd like to point some things out." She slowly walked to him, her eyes fixed on his face.

Not realizing what he's doing, Harry backed away from her. For the first time in his life he was afraid of his former friend, of what she has become. He never saw her eyes so dark and malicious. He knew Ron stood somewhere in the crowd and heard everything, saw everything they did.

"Now listen here you, absolute prick, I don't know what possessed your nut-sized brain to come after me and believe the absolute shit that Ronald said but don't you dare talk about me in that way." Hermione raged, pointing at herself angrily.

'Destroy him' she heard actual Draco's words in her head. 'Don't be vulnerable, you're stronger than he is.'

"I have done nothing but help you, you arsehole, I gave my trust to you, I gave you everything I could !" She screamed her voice breaking out of the anger she felt. "So don't you dare say that you wasted your precious time on me, because dear, Harry, it's me who wasted my time on your sad life, filled with daddy and mommy issues." This hurt him she saw but she didn't care, not anymore.

"And for the record, never in my life I wanted to be with Ron." She said louder for everyone to hear.

"You both were my friends and I was prepared to die with you but not anymore. Let it be known, Harry, that you made the biggest mistake of your life. You're a coward, Harry Potter, and sooner or later everyone will see that." Hermione came so close to him he felt like he might suffocate, he could almost choke on her dark energy.

"I will destroy you." She sneered, reminding Harry of Draco and then she smiled slowly afterwards. "I will make you beg on your knees.'

Slowly Hermione turned around and walked away, her head held high. She even heard claps starting.

Draco who was now in the crowd with his wand ready in case someone tried to interfere. The sight in front of him was astounding. Blaise stood next to him, they left the classroom as soon as Neville wheezed out the words. 'Harry. Hermione. Bad. Fight.'

He smirked, already knowing what is about to come.

When he arrived there, the whole atmosphere was tense and heavy. He heard Hermione screaming at him, he saw how beautiful she was when she put him in his place, down where he belonged.

And when she passed Draco, with her head held high, he swears he could've burned the whole world at that moment jus for her. Draco knew that she was starting to break, was starting to get done with this shit. She was breaking free from the chains by herself and he didn't even need to help her that much.

Hermione Granger is glorious.

He followed her afterwards but not before seeing Weasel coming to Potter's side and putting a hand on his shoulder. What a coward.

Draco saw how miserable Potter looked and smirked, making eye contact with him. Potter didn't knew what a grave mistake he did and breaking the said eye contact, shrugged off Weasley's hand harshly, he left without another word. Draco also saw the scared look on Weasley's face and that satisfied him to the core.

~

Hermione disappeared afterwards in the rows of her beloved library, deciding to skip her last class. It was too much for one day.

Strangely enough she didn't cry, she didn't yell, she just felt like a stone rolled off of her chest and she could breathe for now. After a few moments of  her just sitting and reading she got tired and put her head on her folded arms, her eyes getting heavy.

She dozed off, sleep taking over her.

And in her dreams she was walking in the forest, usually people were scared of dark forests but she loved them, ironically, she always was attracted to dark things. She walked and walked without any purpose but knowing that something awaits her at the end, so she took off and ran. Stopping however when she saw him standing, looking like a dark knight only without any armour, just his tight, black suit defending him. The branches that she could see above his head looked like devil's horns and it made her shiver with excitement.

Suddenly the trees cleared and the moonlight shined on them both. He turned around and smiled at her, taking her breath away. They seemed to levitate towards each other and when they met in the middle, Hermione felt the need and desire, he seemed to feel it too. Draco leaned in and kissed her, like that time.

It was hungry, it was aggressive kiss and she loved every second it. Hermione felt tiny raindrops on her cheeks and when she opened her eyes she saw that they weren't clear droplets, they were dark, almost like... blood.

They smiled at each other, he intertwined their fingers together and kissed her again, soon, like out of the horror movie they were soaked in blood and she glowed out of happiness, she never felt that kind of power in her hands before.

Hermione woke up from the sound of someone moving next to her. She pouted sadly and she opened her eyes slowly.

"Hello." She greeted Draco who was looking at her intensely, head tilted to his side. "What time is it ?" She asked, feeling heat rising to her cheeks from his stare.

"It's already after dinner, we're supposed to meet McGonagall in a few minutes." He answered her, nonchalantly. "Did you dream about something ?"

"I don't remember now but I know that I was happy, although something tells me I shouldn't have been." She furrowed her eyebrows, trying to remember but not succeeding. They sat in silence, just enjoying it - the quiet time.

"We'll have to talk, Draco, something is happening to me- to us..." Hermione trailed off, breaking the said silence."I feel different when I'm around you and also when I'm not... and this whole thing with Ron and Harry it's just- " She gulped and looked into his icy eyes.

"I felt something inside of me that scared me, something that called for me and what happened today was clear evidence that it wasn't a coincidence. I felt powerful, Draco, I felt alive just like the time when we k-kissed." Hermione stuttered, blinking away a single tear. He gently wiped it away with his thumb and left his hand there.

"I know this looks scary and you felt too much for these past few months, years even and I promise you, Hermione, I'll tell you everything." She saw how honest Draco's eyes were and without hesitation leaned into his touch, surprising him but he didn't show it, he never does.

"But the things that I'll tell you will not be easy." He warned her and she nodded. "Now we don't have time for that but after that meeting we will have that dreadful talk." He put one of his hands on top of hers.

She nodded again and with that they left the library. On their way to the headmistresses' office he whispered in her ear.

"I was really proud of you today." And she smirked at him, unnoticed by them both they still held hands.

~

They stood a little further back from everyone else, closer to each other than normally, but no one dared to look at them since they got an instant killer glare from Draco. Hermione would just roll her eyes, too focused on hearing what McGonagall had to say, to busy getting her job done.

"Since the holidays are coming, the annual Christmas Ball will take place soon." Minerva McGonagall  looked at the gathered students

"We will start by dancing in pairs, so find yourself a partner. I will have to ask the Head Girl and Boy to start the dance, so that would be you, Mr. Malfoy and Miss Granger." They both nodded without any complains which made the room too quiet. Since no one expected for them to take it so calmly and seriously, the headmistress cleared her throat, clearly disturbed by the lack of reaction.

"Right then, I'll announce the details later. All dismissed."

Everyone left and Hermione knew that the hardest part of her day will come soon, since Draco took her by the hand again and turned to walk to their common room. His eagerness to tell her everything dulled anything else around them.

Finally, he thought.

Chapter Text


VI. VERITAS

'He used to call me DN
That stood for deadly nightshade
Cause I was filled with poison
But blessed with beauty and rage
[...]
He brought me back
Reminded me of when we were kids
With his ultraviolence'

Did she want to know the truth ? Of course. Did she felt nervous about talking with Draco ? Yes. Did she try to distract him and postpone their talk ? Absolutely.

But unfortunately it didn't work and his grip on her arm was iron-like. It might even leave a mark on her forearm if she tries to tug it back to her again. She was annoyed and flustered, her heart was ready to jump out trough her throat and he, unsurprisingly, noticed it.

"Stop with scared little girl act, Granger, it's really childish and unbecoming." He shook his head, his voice laced with annoyance.

"I will when you'll stop with the harsh pulling, Malfoy." She gritted out and crashed into his back when he suddenly stopped walking.

She groaned and sent him a glare when he turned around. Of course it was met with an unimpressed expression and a lifted eyebrow. The pressure on her forearm was gone, instead he took her hand and grimaced at how damp it was from sweat.

"Oh don't be a prissy." Hermione rolled her eyes and reminded him. "You don't even have to hold it, I can walk without guidance, thank you very much." She huffed out of helplessness, she truly behaved like a child at some times, she must confess.

Draco turned around again and continued to walk to their dorms. "Can't have you running and avoiding me again, love." He smirked and looked back over his shoulder to see her offended expression.

"Excuse me ?" That little shit.

They continued to walk quickly. More like she was jogging to keep up with his huge steps, Hermione though to herself. He seemed more eager to start talking than she was and it wasn't even his idea to begin with. As far as Hermione knows, he probably would've been happy just sit in silence and read a book with her or something like that... now that she thinks about it, it does seem like a nice evening.

After a while and a few turning stairways, they arrived at their destination. They entered in silence, only that electric but still tension between them.

Draco led her to the couch and sat her down, with the flick of his wand he fired up the fireplace and a few candles. Sighing, Hermione took off her shoes, summoned her blanket and curled up on the couch, leaving an empty place for him to join her.

While she was doing that he already came out of the kitchen with two cups of warm tea and placing them on the coffee table he sat down, lazily spreading his hands on the armrest and crossing his legs. They sat like that, listening to fire crackling noises for a while.

Hermione felt an anxious feeling hitting her, and bit her lip, her hands trembling slightly. She didn't know why she felt so unsure and, truth be told, scared but the feeling of something going wrong didn't leave her.

"Are we talking or what ?" He disrupted the silence making her jump in her sitting place.

Draco looked at her and noticing her shivering, he took her legs and put them in his lap, rubbing them gently, making her melt form the touch. She moaned at the feeling and relaxed a little in her seat.

It's just Draco right ? She thought to herself, forcing her nervousness to step aside. Hermione looked at him then, wondering where to start this pressing conversation. What to ask.

"Look, why don't we just start easy?" He asked her instead.

"How ?" Her eyes focused on him.

"You ask a question and then I ask. Back and forth you know ?" She nodded, agreeing with him. That did seem easier solution on how to start. "You can go first." He let her with a small nod, still massaging her feet.

She thought for a second what first thing she should ask and then cleared her throat.

"Why did you change places with everyone, including Blaise ?" At the sharp pain at her foot from him pressing to hard on the place he was massaging, once again this day, she hissed in pain and kicked him on his leg in return.

"I made him." She got a short reply and furrowed her eyebrows.

"Wh-"

"Not your turn to ask, Granger, play by the rules now. " He tsk'ed at her like an owner calling for his cat, cutting her off.

"Do you like him?" He asked and spared one glance at her, trying not to press too hard this time but his eyes looked murderous.  

"As a friend ? Sure." She noticed how he relaxed slightly and it raised her curiosity but for now she put that thought down.

"Anyway Luna's been talking about him and how exotic he became over the years, whatever that means." She shrugged, thinking that she didn't want to know what the blonde girl thought more of him. "Why ? You jealous ?" Hermione huffed out a laugh, a mocking one, finding it hard to believe that indeed he was.

"Of course." The answer left her gaping like a fish, as she tried to make sense in her mind and he smirked at that, finding it amusing.

"I don't think you realise how many guys I had to beat up just to stop them from asking you out or even looking at you. Turns out you're quite a popular doll." He snorted, looking at his knuckles remembering how much blood there was on them once.

"What ?" Outrageous, she thought, feeling her cheeks heating up. It would be a lie if she told that she didn't feel some kind of way when he said that.  Some kind of good way. Partially form his last comment about her.

"Muggle tactics seemed to seal the deal nicely, while others needed to be taught in other ways." He said and observed his hand again, which broke so many jaws he lost count, not that he cared though, a more satisfied look was on his face.

At her shocked expression he sighed and leaned closer to her, making her breath quicken.

"Hermione, I said it before and I'll say it again as long as you'll get it through you brilliant but at times slow mind." He leaned in more closely and pulling her closer to him by her shins, whispered. "You're mine."

Draco's eyes looked so serious and her heart fluttered, his hand felt hot against her cool skin. Green does look good on him, she mustered. He noticed her red cheeks and she fumbled with her words.

"W- But - I-..." She trailed off her mind completely frozen. Meanwhile Draco was satisfied with her outraged look and leaned back in his seat again.

"What happened to you parents ?" She sobered up  at his question, suddenly feeling the weight of that sentence on her shoulders.

"Found them shortly after the war but they looked happy without me and with a dog, so I left them in Australia." She shrugged not feeling sorrowful anymore. "They weren't fit to be responsible parents either way." Hermione looked at the fireplace, at the logs burning away before them.

"What about yours ? After your sentencing I left so I didn't hear anything, even the papers kept everything hidden."

Hermione remembers that day clearly, leaving everyone shocked about her testimony. How she denied that Draco was a Death Eater by his choice. Unconsciously she looked at his arm where the mark was supposed to be.

"Found guilty, not that I'm complaining." He also shrugged. "I bet he's dead already."

Remembering all the things his father made him do and it angered him again, made him hate the man with passion. Hermione noticed his anger and took his left hand, squeezing it lightly in support, knowing that somewhere deep inside Draco still held hurt.

Draco looked at her again and was surprised at how quickly she dissolved the irritation inside him, almost like a drug which made him forget, made it seem like it was just two of them.

"Turns out everyone has daddy and mommy issues, not just Harry." She tried to  lighten the mood and it worked when his face broke, a small smile appeared.

"Ah yes, finally, one thing that Potter does have in common with everyone else." They laughed together and she liked it very much. It sounded perfect.

After a while of them joking, or rather of him just making snarky comments about her, making her blush, they stopped when he accidently touched the place where her own scar was. Even when it was covered, he noticed how her breath hitched but he wasn't sure if it was out of sensitivity.

He gently took her arm and lifted her sleeve up, exposing 'mudblood' forever engraved in her perfect skin.

"Does it bother you ?" He asked, still inspecting her skin and tracing his fingers lightly over it, making her shiver, her hair stood on the ends.

"Not anymore. I hated it with passion and it looked ugly but now, I guess it's just a reminder." He glanced at her and slowly lifted her hand to his mouth, kissing the spot softly.

In return Hermione took his hand lifted the sleeve, revealing his now skin-coloured dark mark, not black anymore. "Does yours bother you ?"

"No, just a reminder as well." Draco half smiled, telling honest truth. He was worse than all of those Death Eaters combined, but she didn't have to know that right now.

However, he didn't expect her to repeat his action. Hermione smiled at his shocked expression, slightly proud that she could impact him as much as he could. They gazed at each other, sitting closer now.

She looked away, pretending to remember her, now cold, tea. She reached for it and took a sip, the forest fruit flavour filled her taste buds. He clicked his tongue and chuckled. What a tease.

 "Right then." He pondered for a minute and narrowed his eyes at her when she put the cup down and faced him. For being a such tease she sure looked too comfortable.

"Can't help but be curious, Granger, what happened between the 'Golden Trio'? " He expected a slap, loud yelling and slamming of things but in return her eyes just glazed over and she laughed bitterly. Her hands clenched and he felt the room fill with melancholy and anger.

"I-I don't even know where things went wrong honestly, one minute we were the saviours of the world but the other I'm being outcasted by two people I trusted the most in my life." Hermione felt hear heart skip out of sadness, and they say a heart can't break.

"They did break my heart you know? I gave them everything, absolutely everything, my trust, my love.... but Ron." The first tear fell and hit Draco's hand still laying on her lap. At Weasley's name he felt his fingers twitching, the thirst to kill something filling him.

"H-He wanted m-more and I didn't feel the same way... but he didn't care he... he wanted to get his way."

Draco furrowed his eyebrows and for the first time in all these years he felt something strange for him. He felt sadness. He felt sad for her and how the world hurt her, if he could he would burn in it to the ashes for it.

"He hit me when I told him that I don't want him in that way and then the anger took hold of me and it felt like this dark energy surrounded me, I blasted him into a near bookshelf really hard." Her tears flowed like a river, making him angrier and angrier and after learning that he hit her, he knew that Ronald Weasley should start digging his grave, there are no chances of him surviving anymore.

"Then he proceeded to tell everyone the other way around, he made me look like a desperate slut who didn't get what she wanted and that I hurt him for it."  She continued, letting out a breath.

"But that wasn't the hardest part, the hardest part was when Harry, the person who I cared the most about and would've sacrificed everything for, chose to believe Ron over me, when we went through so much... I-I felt like my whole world shattered at his words." Draco took her hands and mirroring her actions, lightly squeezed them.

"He called me all those names and didn't even try to listen to me, I guess today confirmed it, that he never was my friend." She finally let out a sob and covered her face with her hands.

After all this time, Hermione let it all out and it felt good, it felt like a stone was lifted fro her soul. It was the first time she shared how she felt with anyone and that person was Draco Malfoy.

Draco gathered her in his arms while she sobbed, while she let it all out. He rocked her back and forth for a while and after she calmed down, only small, hitched breaths could be heard from her, he stopped.

Hermione rested her head on his chest, hearing his heart beating again. She pulled away afterwards, now properly sitting on his lap and he reached out his hand, wiping away her tear remains.

Oddly enough, Draco stayed silent not saying anything, fearing that if he will, he will lose control and now was not the time to do so. She also felt this and now she finally understood how sever the situation was.

Without any words they understood that they trusted each other, depended even on one another. Hermione just had a freaking breakdown in front of him while he comforted her as best as he could and she felt like she could tell him anything. She did it again, she trusted again and without thinking about consequences.

Her hand went to touch his neck and his warped around her waist. They simultaneously pulled each other closer, their noses touching and breaths mixing together. Her lips ghosted his and his grip on her tightened like iron chains. She felt good being in his arms like that, she looked good too, he decided.

"They made the biggest mistake in their lives, Hermione," He whispered, his lips grazing hers. "And they will regret that they hurt you, I'll make sure." He promised and completely pressing her to him, he kissed her.

She closed her eyes instantly, ignoring the threat and moaned softly feeling him touch her. His hand trailed down her thighs, gripping gently while his mouth worked with hers.

Breaking the kiss, he trailed kisses down her neck, leaving wet and red marks along the way, marking her. She felt the heat rising in her body, making her tingle and feel the light tickle in her belly.

Hermione brought her hand to his hair, running her fingers through it, making him groan out of pleasure. Hermione straddled him now, pulling him by his hair so his head was tilted back and kissed him harshly. They both felt so content with each other it should've scared them but now it didn't seem important.

They broke apart, their heavy breathing filing the space around them. She felt it again, the pull of her magic, like it was begging to be freed.

"I feel it too, Granger." He said while sealing his mouth with hers. She moaned into his mouth, the butterflies in her stomach were getting wilder and stronger. He made her wrap her legs around his waist, then he stood up with her in his arms, making her gasp out of surprise.

"You need let it go, Hermione, just let it go." He whispered making her furrow her eyebrows in confusion.

"I-I don't-"

"Just feel and let it flow." He walked around the coffee table and helped her stand on the ground, where there was more space. "You wanted to know what was happening to you so I'll show you."

Draco took one of her arms and lifted it up in the air also doing the same but not touching her, leaving empty space but close enough to feel the heat. She looked at their hands and then at him, still not understanding. He caught her gaze started to move his hand, encouraging to move it with him. She picked up the idea and tried to keep up with his pace. He turned his hand, twisting his wrist.

"Just look at me and let it find itself." He said and lifted his other hand, she copied him. "You feel it don't you ?" He asked, looking at how her hands picked up his pace, knowing his next move already.

"Just simple things at first, like different feelings emerging in strange situations, suddenly you feel sad, then happy, even sometimes dark feeling coming back right ? Then your magic pulling you towards something you're not sure what."

 He explained, now taking her hips and spinning her around, pressing her back to his chest. His hands now moved with hers in front of them. She closed her eyes, just like he said, letting it flow with his movements without any hesitation.

"When you try to ignore the pull, you start to hurt all over your body, headaches, trembling, loss of magic at times." He whispered in her ear, enjoying how she was pressing into him more. "It's a rare thing to have, Hermione, and we both do." She shivered at those words, she felt like she just took hardcore drugs and her head was spinning, everything felt charged with electricity, with desire.

Now, listening to his words, she begun to understand.

"Like a bond..." She breathed out and he smiled into her neck, now his hand trailed down her waist.

"Yes." She turned around and put her hand on his chest, needing something to hold on to.

"Why do we have it ?" This raised more questions than there were answers.

"That's the only thing I don't know, love." Hermione should be freaking out by now but oddly it made sense. Everything felt right.

"For how long did you feel it ?"

"Since the first day you touched me..." He leaned in, their noses touching. "...Or punched me rather." Draco chuckled, remembering their third year with slight pain in his nose area where she punched him, hard.

"For that long?" The disbelief showed in her glassy eyes.

"Yes, but given the circumstances and how ignorant and idiotic I was, I pressed it down. Hard." Draco shrugged and pulled her closer, trying not to remember the night when he suffered the most. "I'm sure you couldn't even feel it since everything else was more important but now when it's all over, when no one is troubling you, you're starting to feel again."

"But what does it do with our magic ?" She questioned him, still not scared or feeling uncomfortable with the thought of them sharing some kind of bond which couldn't be explained.

"It strengthens it of course. For example, when you're angry, I feel it filling the room, your magic I mean, and I feel my own hands twitching just out of the force of it." Still she wanted to find out more about it.

"So those times when I wanted to do something bad to someone... it was affected by you- us ?" She gulped, slowly coming to her senses again, the dizziness leaving her vision.

Hermione remembered all those times when she wanted to hurt someone so bad but always managed to stop herself in time from casting any spells. So it was him.

"I wouldn't say that it has something to do with me." Draco narrowed his eyes at her, already seeing the conflict rising on her face. "Maybe there's something in you, not evil necessarily, just powerful enough to know when someone is out of their line."

He shrugged and she stepped away from him, not understanding his comment. He rolled his eyes at her stubbornness and tried to pull her back towards him but Hermione backed away.

"Don't be like that, Hermione, you know damn well what you're capable of. Merlin, you could've killed Potter and his sidekicks hundred different time-"

"No ! Stop !" She growled at him, actually growled, and he had to admit it sounded hot. "I know what you're doing, Draco." Just in case, she silently summoned her wand, gripping it in her hand.

"You know who I am and it won't work." 

"Oh yeah it will, because if you won't do anything about those filths - I will. "

Draco now felt his anger rising, slowly boiling his blood. Stubbornness just drove him mad sometimes. He noticed her hand gripping her wand tightly, her knuckles white. He swallowed down his smirk.

"Come on, Hermione, we all know who  was the real force behind the famous Harry Potter." He moved like a predator towards her, testing to see her limits. "You can cast any spell out there, you're just too afraid and it shows weakness."

"I'm not-"

"No you're not weak or a killer but since I care about you too damn much I won't do anything, to you at least. " He smirked now, watching her eyes glazing over once again but now in fury. "If you won't do anything I will kill them and that's a promise I can keep. "

It was extraordinary how the atmosphere between them could change, how quickly they could go from ravishing each other to actually wanting to kill one another.

"No ! " She yelled and aimed her wand at him. "I won't let you hurt them." She shouted feeling the control slipping from her hands.

"They hurt you, Hermione, and that alone is enough reason for me to kill them. " Hermione sobbed and heard the windows rattling around them, the fire seemed to get bigger in the fireplace.

"You can't be this naive and blind to actually defend them. " Draco shouted his hands moved violently, showing irritation.

But there was something that caught his eye instantly. She seemed to be battling with herself, to hex him or not, her lips trembled and he saw the war in her eyes.  

"Do it." He gritted out, his shoulders tense and all amusement left his expression. He had to show her and is this was the way, he will do exactly that.

"Wha-What?" Her glassy eyes seemed confused at his demand but deep down Hermione knew what he wanted.

"I said, do it." The daring look was tempting her, mocking her even.

"I won't." Hermione shook her head and backed away from him, her back pressing against the wall. The edge of the painting awkwardly digging into her ribs.

"You will or I will turn around and I will hunt down Potter. Perhaps he will get cursed tonight, I promise I'll make it look like a suicide." Draco came closer and closer to her, but she didn't lower her wand instead she gripped it harder, if that even was possible.

Another second and it seemed like it would have snapped in pieces.

"Do it ! " He shouted, rage evident and abusing in his voice.

Curcio.

Draco felt the familiar pain and fell to his knees. He looked up to see her face. Her beautiful, angry face and he smirked feeling the power of her curse, he has to admit that he was proud. He swallowed his groan but it got harder to breathe and Draco felt like the room was spinning.

What Hermione felt that moment was indescribable.

She hated herself for doing this and not stopping. Why would he push her ? Why couldn't he just stay silent ? She desperately yelled inside her mind but didn't stop until he couldn't hide it anymore and a grimace appeared on his handsome face. Then she stopped abruptly and reality of what she just did to him, to her hit her.

Draco heard her let out a wail. Hermione covered her mouth with her hand, wand now rolling on the ground near her sock-covered feet. Hermione couldn't believe that she actually did it.

"I-I..." She just casted a forbidden curse to someone who comforted her and helped her today, minutes earlier. She did that and the hardest part for her to accept was, that she felt good, she felt like she was worth much more and that she had the control, the authority.

He stood up after a few seconds, still trying to clear his mind and  concentrate on one thing which was standing still.

"I-I I'm so, so sorry, I d-don't know- wh-. " Hermione tried to apologize but couldn't continue, still not moving from her place even though she wanted to run up to him and hug the shit out of him for doing such cruel thing to them both.

Draco lifted his hand slightly, the sudden energy wave hitting him, then passing shortly after and whispered but she heard him loud and clear

"I'm proud of you." She felt disgusted with herself, at her emotions, at her weakness and she didn't understand how he could say that.

Blinking away her tears Hermione took off, running up to her room and slamming the door shut, locking it. She felt slight hesitation and wanted to come back to him but she buried those thoughts deep down, angry at him for provoking and making her do such thing. Realising and analyzing what he had said to her, what she had learned.

That night she sobbed sadly and angrily into her pillow while he smashed everything in his room, not even bothering to put a silencing charm, just to let off some steam. Then he laid on the floor in the middle of his room, the exhaustion from her curse still affecting him and smiled to no one in particular.

One thing neither of them felt that night, while thinking about everything that happened to them this faithful night, was regret.

They were just longing of each other.

~

Hermione, after calming down, was livid to say the least. And Draco knew that, felt that. Seemed like everyone knew because they cowered at near sight of her.

She ignored him for the past week and it has been a great torture for both of them but if that's what she has to do, then so be it.

One thing she didn't understand is why he was so driven to hurt her former friends, just because she got hurt. Sure they did bad things to her but at the end of the day she didn't see the point of doing anything to impact them, because they will always be on top. That's how it is and she can't help but think like this every day. Draco should've learned that long ago.

And those empty days were hell.

Hermione didn't see Harry that much and if she did, she just pretended not to see him and walk past, it seemed like he did the same.

And Ron ? Well he still used the glory of being the hero and abused it every single day. Still surrounded by his fangirls, he made comments about her, her looks and it got vulgar more and more. At some point she just gritted her teeth, trying to restrain herself from repeating her actions prior, involving Draco.

Oh, she would give anything just to see Ronald's face in pain but as those thoughts came she made them disappear, still trying to stay true to her morals, to be good. Trying to remember that somewhere inside they were good and honest people who once were her friends.

Karma did exist right ?

Luna seemed to be mad at her for her choices. And mad Luna is quite horrific, the girl even offered to hex the Gryffidors herself, while Neville just seemed sad at seeing once brave, happy and ambitious witch turn into someone's punching bag. But they didn't leave her, to her surprise, they stayed with her through and through, and she was more than thankful.

Draco seemed to respect her decision of staying away and didn't try to corner her anywhere yet. She wondered what took him so long, since when was he so patient ? Then Hermione remembered that he had to live with this pain since third year and felt, strangely, guilty.

Hermione never was so confused about her feelings more than now. She wanted to kiss him so, so badly but then kick him until he begged for mercy for doing such thing to her. She wanted to read with him again in silence, to laugh at her awful jokes together but then remembering that he quite literally manipulated her feelings, pushing her into cursing him, she just wanted to hurt him. Bad.

At this point she knew what he was capable of and saw the looks he casted towards the other side of the Gryffindor table, specifically at Ron. It made her uneasy and nervous, he was planning something, now that he knew what happened.

Overall she thought about what happened, Hermione still is grateful that he kept his mouth shut but it seems like he is boiling over just to hurt someone, and they all know who specifically Draco would be delighted to get his hands on.

Will she try to stop him ? She doesn't know, not when it involves Ron. But for now, she'll just try to drown the missing feeling of his arms and voice and lips-

No. Stop it, Hermione. She thought and shook her head, scolding herself internally.

Before leaving the table and getting ready to do her late night rounds around the school, now out of habit, she casted one look towards Draco and met his gaze. Her heart clenched at the intense look. She felt a lump in her throat, her hands clenching the table sides. She forced herself to look away and regretted it so much, deep down in her soul, but she had to go.

Hermione bid a small goodbye to Neville, Luna was nowhere in sight, and practically ran back to her common room. Her head hurt and her heart hurt. Few tears escaped but she wiped them away harshly, trying to hold it in. This longing couldn't be normal, she though, the bond couldn't possibly be that strong.

As soon as she entered through the portal she hurried upstairs, eager just to hide from everyone and him. She managed to undress herself and stepped into the shower, after getting clean clothes out of her drawer. Under the heat she let herself think about what awaits her.

It was her time again to do the rounds and she felt miserable just thinking about it, since the last time she was attacked. Hermione now always felt on edge, the feeling of sinking dread haunting her. 

The hot steam made her relax a bit, and the scent of honey and green apples filled the bathroom, soaking into her skin. Her mind filled with memories of him and she felt the sadness again. What should she do now, she had no idea whatsoever. Her mind raced at the thought of him, haunting her at every mind corner.

She shook her head again, trying to clear her mind from him. After an hour or so , she noticed her wand lighting up, informing her that her time was up. She stepped out and changed into her comfortable clothes. She took her wand and safely put it in the her holder, now more aware and learning from her mistakes.

Hermione got down and was about to exit trough the portrait-door when Draco stormed in, making her gasp form fright.

He stopped curtly however, noticing her in front and their eyes meting once again. His hair was messy and his Quidditch robes were dirty, small patches of dark red color could be seen and she felt anxious, fearing of asking who's blood was soaked into his uniform.

But what caught her attention, when she looked at him up and down was his bloody and bruised hand, like the last time, but now it wasn't glass shards anymore. He stepped aside, letting her pass through but she wasn't having any of that.

"What happened?" Despite everything, raw concern laced her voice and he had the nerve to look away from her face.

"I asked you a question, Draco, what the fuck happened and who's blood is that ?" She stepped closer to him and grabbing his bruised right hand, before he could escape , she brought it closer to inspect it. Seeing how swallowed and how red his knuckles were, dried blood remaining on them, she lifted her head up and raised her eyebrow at him in annoyed manner, waiting for an answer.

"Doesn't matter." He grunted out, his voice raspy, he was still visibly angry at someone or something.

"Well as much as I'm mad at you, I still bloody care about you, you arse ." She took her wand out of the pocket with the intention to heal him. "So who did you put into infirmary this time?" When she looked up at him again she saw the shocked expression on his face. Now, that she caught up with what she just said, she felt her cheeks redden.

"You care about me ?" He asked his eyes softer now, making her squeeze his bruised hand and that made him hiss slightly. She let go of it suddenly.

"Oh shit, sorry," Hermione apologized and taking it again, healing it quickly, then put her wand back and forced her braveness to come out, finally admitting it to him and to herself.

"But to answer your question, yes, in fact I do care about you." She looked away, embarrassed but quickly looked back and pointed at him. "But as I said, that doesn't change my anger towards you." His traditional smirk appeared and he leaned towards her, his face now closer to hers. He kissed her nose lightly, catching her by surprise.

"Thank you for healing me again, Hermione." He passed her, not before taking a mental picture of her dazed expression, calling back at her on the top of the stairs.

"I care about you too, love." And then he disappeared. "Enjoy the present !"

Her face was in flames and she bit her lip, trying to contain her childish grin.

Soon she remembered that he didn't even say what had happened and it brought an annoyed groan out of her but eventually, after debating whether to go after him or no, she decided to let it go, sooner or later she'll find out about it anyway.

Shortly after this she left, thinking about what kind of present he conjured.

~

Hermione was really bored. Really, really bored.

Without her book, since she knew now how dangerous that was apparently, she had nothing to do while walking and checking things out. Strangely, no one was breaking any rules tonight at Hogwarts, which is odd for this school.

She smiled to herself thinking of all the memories she made here, how happy she once was, walking these halls with her best friends. She wished she could take back the time. Back when they were kids, untouched by horrors of the dark world and fears of death. But even now, she realizes they never were safe from that.

Hermione silently wondered what her life would be without Harry Potter in it, wondered if she would've chosen Ravenclaw, or even Slytherin. She laughed at that thought. Yeah, a mudblood in Salazar's house, what a joke.

But even now, when she has Luna, Neville, or even Blaise and Draco, she feels like there's something missing, something important that she has to do and it nags her every day.

After a while of walking around and not meeting anyone else, she headed back to her dorm, stiffing a yawn into her palm. Her headache was getting worse and worse by the second, making her wince in pain after moving too quickly.

She was too busy rubbing her temples, trying to lessen the sting and didn't notice how a shadow passed her. Hermione's hair stood on the ends, the cold air hitting her out of nowhere. She turned around swiftly but was, again, too late to pull out her wand, also her quick spin made her pain worse and her sight started to blur but cleared up after her rapid blinking.

What is happening ?

Hermione finally pulled out her wand, feeling nervous and unprotected. Not again, she thought. She won't let herself be weak again, her bravery was tired of her weakness. Where was this confidence coming from, she didn't understand.

"Hello, Hermione." A familiar voice said, and once she got her eye sight back, she didn't seem too surprised to see Ron Weasley standing there.

"Late walk around the school grounds ? Hasn't your little boyfriend bought you a leash yet?" He sneered and it made him look pathetic, she held back this comment though.

"What in the world are you doing here, Ronald ?" Hermione asked him, crossing her arms in annoyance and rolled her eyes. "And what happened to your, quite literally, bloody face ?" She could almost laugh, if this wasn't so alarming.

Once he came closer to her, she noticed his swelled cheek and cracked nose, the blood running down his neck. Her heart skipped a beat, once she started to connect the dots.

Oh, Draco. She mentally hit him for doing such idiotic thing.

"You should ask you little reptile pet, Granger." Ron licked his lips and hissed in pain when his tongue ran through his cut on the corner of his mouth.

Hermione tried her best to ignore the little insult he threw at Draco, which angered her more than the things he said to her. So she was right, Draco came back after beating him up at practice.

"He went ballistic on me, threatened to kill me if I came near you ever again... or try to touch you." Ron glared at her and she narrowed her eyes at him again, finding this situation too childish.

"Assuming you let your mouth do the work, I decided to pay you a little visit, just to remind you what we agreed on about our little past incident. He did embarrass me in front of others." He said and she huffed a laugh, not believing what she just heard.

"What we agreed on ? Poor, little boy, Draco must've hit you pretty good if you're imaging such things." She laughed at his mad expression, his face turning alarming shade of red. Quickly her fake smile disappeared.

"Do me a favour, darling, and get going now, we wouldn't want your friends to worry about you now, after I put you in detention for being out this late hour, of course."

She rolled her eyes at him and turned around, her wand at her hand lessened, not even considering the fact that he would do anything to her, he was Ron after all. All words and no actions.

And that was her first mistake, one that she made again.

Hermione didn't have time to react when she was blasted a few feet away, across the hall, his casted spell didn't contain enough power to make her unconscious but she did hit the cold surface, quite hard. She rolled on the floor, her skin scrapping against the harsh surface.

Hermione's wand was thrown away from her and she cried out, feeling the pain from the harsh contact. She tried to stand up, her head was spinning around and she blinked, she felt like throwing up but that was almost normal feeling to her now. Ron came next to her and roughly pulled her up, his hands definitely leaving bruises on her forearms, leaving nasty marks. She gritted her teeth from the pain and the harsh tug.

"You bloody moron, let go of me now or so help me Merlin I'll make you regret it." She tried to pull back, her legs were shaking and she heard her heartbeat in her ears. Hermione was in a shitty situation and she needed a plan fast but her mind was spacing out at the moment of him hauling her up.

"Oh no, we will have a little chat now, 'Mione, Ferret needs to learn how to treat the real heroes. You will be a message to him in other words." Ron dragged her across the hall, nearing the wall.

"What are talking about you, prick?" Once she finished her sentence she felt a sting on her cheek and she froze.

Her eyes filled with tears once she realized that he hit he once again. The fear returned and all her returned confidence was shrinking with each second. The sinking feeling of her heart made her first tear fell, hitting his hand which was white with the force.

"Shut up you, bitch." Ron harshly pushed Hermione against the wall, keeping her hand locked in his and  leaned his face against hers. Hermione was scared and he noticed it.

"Oh poor little book-worm, no one will come save you now." He laughed in her face and she gulped. "Merlin knows those two couldn't do the job." He spit at her face, making her wince from disgust and humiliation.

"Let go of me, Ron, you don't want to do this." Hermione didn't plead, she didn't scream, not yet. She silently prayed that somewhere deep inside he was there, Ron, the friend for who she was ready to end her life.

 "Don't tell me what I want !" He yelled at her, making her wince and turn her head to the side, her hands felt numb now. "You don't get to do that anymore !"

Hermione Granger, never felt such fright like right now.

Not even when they got ready to die with a huge snake coming to bite them, or when Bellatrix was breathing in her face, her rotten voice tattooed into her brain. Hermione never felt that fright because she knew what was coming next and her panicked mind couldn't think of a plan yet. She couldn't place the sinking feeling of knowing what will happen next, once she saw the look in his eyes.

"Let me show you what a real man feels like huh?" Ron took her wrists into his one hand and pinned then above her, his other hand trailed down her buttoned-up blouse, feeling her up and down and she cried out.

"Oh no don't cry now, 'Mione, you want this ! " Hermione shook her head and tried to scream for help but he silenced her with his mouth on hers.

He felt disgusting on her and she wanted to get rid of him right now. She turned her head and screamed. Hermione felt pathetic, completely weak.

"No one is here, you're alone." He laughed at her helplessness.

His free hand took hold of her blouse and he ripped it, buttons flying everywhere. The sound of them hitting the ground echoing through the hall, making her panic worsen.

"Plead, Hermione, beg me on your knees." Ron assaulted her mouth with his again, since she wasn't responding. In her head she pleaded for someone to save her.

Hermione felt like her last seconds were ticking, she wanted to die so bad right now. No one could help her now... she only had herself now. If she could look back into her life, Hermione would pick this as her breaking point.

From his touch on her, Hermione felt something in her mind click. It seemed like in slow motion, she realized what was happening to her, what will happen if she won't act now.

As he was getting more into it, she decided, with tears running down her neck, that Ronald Weasley won't be the one to make her feel this pain anymore, she won't be a victim of his abuse any longer. She won't be a coward. He was a monster who needed to be wiped away from this surface.

Draco was right. To hell with his.

Hermione bit him on his tongue hard, metallic taste filling her mouth and she enjoyed how his face twisted at the sudden pain. He screamed, his hand releasing her wrists and then he covered his mouth, blood now running through his fingers.

Hermione growled from anger and used this to her advantage. While he stood a little further now, still moaning out of added agony, she kicked him hard on his groin, making him fall to his knees

"Blue balls look nice with that beat up face." The gritting of her teeth made it sound scarier.

Hermione slowly walked over to her wand, on her way she fixed her blouse, trying her best to cover herself and rubbed her sore wrists. A slight limp was noticeable from her fall.

She picked it up and looked back at him, trying to crawl and get his wand on the floor but she walked over and kicked it away, making him actually sob. Hermione wiped away her tears and a sadistic smile appeared on her face. Hermione saw how his eyes showed pure fear of her but what she was looking for was regret yet she knew he wasn't capable of it.

"I told you before, Weasley, that you'll regret ever touching me." She spit back at him, venom laced her raspy voice and she raised her wand at him.

"You know what they say, payback's a bitch right ?"

Hermione didn't even need to say the curse, as disturbing as it is, it came out naturally with a spark from her wand. Green never looked so good, the spark of the curse still in the air around her, making her shiver.

Of course, she didn't forget the Silencing charm, she wasn't a fool like him. Hermione couldn't take the chances of someone hearing them, not even a spirit.

Ron's red face turned white as a sheet, the blood on it looked darker, making her smile widen and the sick satisfaction filled her inside. Soon his limbs started to twitch, his eyes open wide and his mouth open, what probably was a piercing scream.  

"No one is here, Weasley, you're all alone." She sneered properly and felt the absolute vindication of seeing him writhing in agony, at her feet. And at this moment she decided that, that's where he needs to stay.

Ronald screamed and screamed but she didn't stop, not like with Draco. Unlike with him, Hermione didn't feel that immediate regret, she wanted this, she wanted him to hurt like she was.

Was she aware of what she was doing ? Probably, but the hurt and the fury she had  coped up inside her, needed to be released. Now, when Ron tried to assault her, to take what wasn't his, she knew that there's no good in him left.

"You made my life a living hell, Ron, and you will regret hurting me the way that you did." She kicked him again for good measure, hearing a crack after which he finally passed out.

Hermione stood there for a while, just trying not to break down right there. She knew that there was no going back and yet there was no single thread of regret flowing. The only sound now was her dry hiccups. She stood there for a while, hugging herself. The torn blouse not providing her any coverage or her dignity back.

After trying to think logically, she decided that the best thing to do now is to Obliviate him, not needing a visit to Azkaban any time soon. The curse she used would be unforgivable before the Ministry, let alone on their beloved War Hero. With a limp and uncontrollable shuddering she levitated him above the ground. Hermione left his injuries unhealed and dropped him off at infirmary, erasing traces of her ever coming here.

She left quickly, feeling her emotions boiling over and the only one who she desperately wanted to see, was Draco.

So she ran to him. As much as she could with her bruises and injuries.

Chapter Text

 

VII. PERSECUTUS

 

"O, from this time forth,
my thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth"

 

Draco Malfoy was sitting on the windowsill in the shared common room, quietly reading his book about ancient runes and their meanings but his mind would always wander off against his will.

Sometimes he would glance at the portrait, hoping it'll swing open in any second and she would walk through. Hermione was supposed to be back from her rounds and that played with his damaged nerves alright. But he gave himself a few more minutes before going out and searching for her. The bad feeling in his gut getting stronger and sharper.

He growled out of frustration and shut his book with a loud 'smack'. He stood up and was about to march out, having enough of this nonsense, but the door opened and he held his breath, noticing the sudden change of the atmosphere and felt his heartbeat again.  

Hermione was a mess.

Her cheeks were red and wet from her evident crying, tears sadly running down her neck. Clearly she wasn't bothered to wipe them away any longer. Her left cheek was redder than the other, making his chest tighten, already knowing that something was definitely wrong. 

Her blouse was ripped, showing her bare skin and her hands desperately tried to wrap themselves around her, trying to cover herself from not only him but it seemed like the world. The bruises were horrible, shining on her perfect skin, he saw that every little movement hurt her, the limp not making it easier for him to calm down.

His breathing quickened, his blood mixing with anger and his book fell on the floor loudly, making her jump and look at him. He wanted to kill whoever did this to her, because the aching, sadness... and fear in her eyes felt like torture to him. The whole room changed once she came in, it became harder to breathe.

Noticing him, Hermione stopped breathing for a second and after a few moments she ran to his arms, forgetting about everything else, just wanting to feel safe after everything that happened this horrid day. He moved towards her at the same time and they met half way, he took her in his arms, his hand tangled in her hair the other warping around her shoulders, carefully not trying to hurt her. His hand possessively and protectively wrapped around her, shielding her away from everyone.

Draco made them sit on the floor and rocked her gently as she sobbed, her face pressed to his chest, wet spot already forming on his shirt. If he could, he would cry with her.

Draco didn't ask who, didn't ask when or how, he had a feeling he knew what happened. He just wanted to calm her down, when she started to shake in his arms, clearly shaken from what happened.

Hermione clenched his shirt, trying desperately to hold on to him, like he would disappear after a few seconds, leaving her all alone again. She wanted to feel safe, in his arms, wanted to get away from everything. The girl was so tired and exhausted and the trembling didn't help either.

After what felt like hours of just him rubbing her back, a reassuring touch and all the safe words whispered into her ear, hours of her shedding tears and then having her just quietly whimper in his arms with her closed eyes, Hermione felt herself being lifted up from the ground.

Draco took her in his arms, bridal style and walked up the stairs, into his room. He laid her down, not before gently taking off her ripped up blouse along with her dirty leggings and threw them  in the fireplace, not taking off her undergarments. Then took off his midnight-blue sleeping shirt and dressed her in it, she wasn't even responding to his touch or actions, completely trusting him, it seemed.

He wanted to pull away and bring a washcloth from the bathroom but her hand gripped the hem of his sweatpants, not letting him leave, not letting him abandon her. Draco heard faint, raspy and broken whisper coming from her mouth which only made him see red.

"Please don't..." Her eyes gazed over again and he hurried to take her in his arms again, walking them to the bathroom and letting her sit on the counter, after pushing all the things on the ground, bathroom filling with the sound of things hitting the ground.

In the faint light, her face looked more damaged and in that moment Draco Malfoy swore to himself to never let anyone touch her ever again, not when he's still alive next to her, nor in the afterlife, he'll make sure. He will kill for her without any second thoughts.

"I will kill all of them for doing this to you, love, I won't let them walk free." She didn't respond just stared.

Draco washed her face and tied her hair into a bun, not his worst attempt at doing this. Hermione would be proud if she wasn't staring blankly into the space over his shoulder and blinking slowly, more tears following.

Draco looked at her bruising again, her wrists now covered in violent shade of blue, fingernail marks on her chest, resembling animal scratches. He healed her quickly, watching them fade away but he knew that on the inside it hurt more, hell, even Draco, who doesn't know much about  feelings and shit, only guessed what she felt like. She looked so small and vulnerable, sitting there with her hands in her lap and glassy eyes.

After a few moments she was laying in his bed, tucked in, on her back, breathing slowly. He was beside her, kneeling only in his sweatpants, wiping the few tears that rolled down her cheeks, but a few got past her ear and disappeared in her hair. She couldn't sleep at all and he practically heard how her heartbeat sped up every time she closed her eyes, the images of him flashing each time.

"Can you lay next to me, please ?" Her voice was hoarse, breaking at the end.

"Of course." Without any hesitation he laid beside her. Spooning Hermione in his arms, pressing her against him and wrapping his arms around her in protective manner. Her arms warped around his middle and she pressed herself harder against him, her face buried in his neck.

"Don't leave, please." Her begging voice got him inhaling slowly and closing his eyes.

"Never." He promised and kissed her forehead gently, feeling her body slowly going limp.

Draco stayed up all night, or what was left of it since the sky wasn't so dark already. He just watched Hermione sleep and tried to make it so she didn't wake up screaming or terrified again. And if she did, he would hold her tighter in his arms, wiping away the sweat of off her forehead.

During the most petrifying night of his life, he noticed how her eyebrows furrowed once in a while, how her heartbeat quickened  and sometimes a soft sigh left her slightly parted lips. Her heart would stop beating so quickly and after that she would whisper Draco's name in the night, making his heart clench for the first time.

It wasn't right.  

Hermione shouldn't suffer like that, shouldn't feel such pain. And Merlin help everyone because he will burn this school to the ground if someone dares to make her heart break again.

Hermione woke up after a few hours, just before the sun could show the first rays. She was slowly blinking, trying to adjust to the light coming from the candles next to the bedside table.

She felt warm and safe, warped in someone's arms and when Hermione looked up she saw Draco, watching  her warily, not knowing how she'll react being in this position with him nothing less. Hermione was laying on her back, close enough for their skin to touch, his one hand wrapped around her middle protectively while his other arm supported his head.

Hermione didn't speak, feeling her throat dry and aching. She just let out a sigh and buried her face in his bare chest, too tired to react in any other way. If she was in different mind set, she would feel embarrassed or ashamed but now all she wanted to do was sleep with Draco. Just sleep. Her eyes closed again and sleep took over her, but she immediately felt his hand wrap around her tighter.

Draco waited a few moments for her breathing to even out and then he let go of her, tucking her in safely.

Even if Draco didn't want to, he had to get out of bed, he won't sleep anyway. He dressed in his casual robes and took his wand, not before writing a note to notify both his and Hermione's absence from today's lessons. Phrases like 'contagious flu', 'immediate treatment' all the other bullshit no one will question them about later.

After sending the owl away, he turned towards Hermione and kissed forehead gently with a silent whisper against her skin. Draco lifted his wand towards her sleeping form and casted a charm.

He knew that what he was doing was, quite literally, invading her privacy and if she would find out about it she would probably hex him into the nearest wall but he needed to protect her and if this is the only way he will do it.

Plus, she won't find out, he was skilled in this subject after all.

Hermione's memories and feelings clouded his mind, making him see and feel what she experienced, what she lived through. Draco felt the blow of the spell, saw Weasley ripping her blouse, heard his words and felt Ronald's hand cutting off his oxygen like it did to Hermione.

Then he saw her battle with him, she was smarter after all, and hitting him with a Cruciatus curse. Draco felt the poisonous rage fill her veins and he never felt more proud of her. Finally, she did what she had to. 

He wouldn't deny that at that moment, seeing that filth, rolling on the floor, his pale face twisting in absolute pain made Draco feel gleeful, no, fuck that, he felt glorious, knowing that his girl made it happen. That's what Weasley deserved, he thought to himself, when he came back into his mind, standing there in front her sleeping, exhausted form.

Ron Weasley touched what he shouldn't have an got burned.

Hermione didn't even react, only her turning on her side, soft snores filling the room. He has to admit, he let out a sigh of relief. Using Legilimency was quite risky but in this case, Draco needed to risk.

Thank Merlin for his unhinged aunt teaching him the 'silent' way of doing this. As much as Draco hated that lunatic, aunty Bella dared to touch what was his after all, he appreciated the time she took to teach him more efficient ways of casting curses.

Either way, Draco had to pay his friend a little visit.

~

Now, knowing where to find that red-headed imbecile, Draco left quickly, casting a charm to notify him if she'll wake up, just in case. The halls were empty still. Only the top of the sun could be seen through the window, illuminating the school halls. Sky turning lighter shade with seconds passing. He didn't have much time, so picked up his pace. 

Draco soon stood in front of Infirmary's doors, his hand clenching around his wand, his knuckles white from boiling anger. He entered silently and found other injured students asleep, some with broken bones, from the past Quidditch match, he guessed but didn't care enough to think about it.

The one Draco was looking for, was further back, away from everyone, unlucky for him. Draco came closer, now standing in front of Ron Weasley's sleeping body, his face was healed but the pale colour still was persistent, making his already red hair flame up. 

Draco sneered, he tried to stop himself from strangling the filth in front of him, knowing that Hermione wouldn't be too happy visiting him in prison but the temptation seemed strong.

Instead he closed the curtains around them, just in case of noisy rats, and concentrated on the air around them, feeling the familiar stench of the curse still lingering.

Assuming that the nurses here, still idiotic as always, haven't figured out what spell was used on him or something like that, didn't check up on him. So with a quick flick of his wand, he erased the traces of Hermione's casted curse away.

"Cruciamentum eximo." He silently said, the tip of his wand flashing white for a second and then nothing.

Draco felt the air freshen up, as much as it could in a hospital wing, and saw the colour returning back to Weasley's face. Draco wanted to kill him desperately but this needed to be planned carefully. He whispered so that only Ron could hear it in his sleep, and dream nightmares, Draco hoped.

"I will kill you, Ronald Weasley, I promise you that."

With one last look, filled with rage and detestation at the pathetic man, he left unnoticed, returning to his dream sleeping in his bed.

~

Hermione woke again, only now cold and feeling confused. Her throat hurt and her head was ripping apart it seemed. She felt quite interesting, head aching and her eyes blinking rapidly. Despite the whole pain she felt, it didn't bother her, in fact, she felt great. Her movements, slow and graceful. Hermione felt like she was freed.

She looked around and her eyebrows furrowed, it was dark outside and the moon was shining through the window. The only light source was the fireplace and few lit candles in the room.

Where's Draco ? Has she slept all day ? What time is it anyway ?

All these questions rose up, making her head hurt more. She looked around again, trying to locate her belongings, including her wrist watch. On the table beside her, she saw her wand, her trusted watch and a glass of water with some pills beside it. Checking the time it was past eight in the afternoon. Her eyes widened out of surprise.

"Oh lord." She whispered, hoarsely.

Hermione cringed at the raspy sound and tried clearing her throat, making it much worse. She put back her watch on the table and picked up the glass with pink coloured pills. Hermione thanked the Gods for listening to her and drank the whole glass, feeling better already.

She noticed slight moving in the front. She watched closely, seeing a silhouette of a person, sitting in the chair in front of the fireplace. Hermione stood up, wrapping the duvet around her, covering her bare legs, keeping the warmth. She padded to him quietly, just in case he was sleeping. Indeed he was dozing off, his eyelids closed midway but the movement next to him startled him and tuned his head towards her. Draco looked up at her, not saying anything.

Instead of being chicken-shit, like she usually was with him, she sat on his lap, forcing his crossed legs to even out. Her duvet falling at his feet but quite frankly, he didn't care, nor did she for that matter.

"Will you tell me what happened ?" Draco asked softly, if that was possible for a Malfoy, and looked at her intensely, trying not to anger her or make her feel uncomfortable.

The images of her past days flashed, making her blink and her heart to clench, just a tad bit. Her hand instantly covering her neck, where the bruise was, or she hoped used to be.

Hermione's gaze shifted towards the fire, the flames illuminating her face, her red but always beautiful eyes. She won't avoid it, of course he'll find out, one way or another, if Ron hasn't opened his mouth once again.

Just taking about it made it more... more true, like a nightmare she once dreamed became real. And it actually did.

"Ron attacked me." She whispered into the night, her hands balling into fists on her lap. "He tried to rape me." Hermione continued, ignoring white knuckles of Draco's, gripping the armchair. Hermione swore, she heard it crack.

"And I hurt him bad... not like I hurt you, no, I hurt him more, because I liked the feeling when I did it to him, I liked the look on his face when I tortured him." She said her eyes glossing over but no tears escaped, she refused to let them run down.

Truly Hermione was tired of crying. Enough is enough right ? They glossed over because the pain made her livid now. It made her realize what kind of thing were coming her way and what she had to do to protect herself.

She then stood up and went over to the fireplace, her figure covering the light, making her look like a divine Goddess, to Draco's eyes. Even with her wild, messy  bed hair she looked stunning. 

"I didn't- don't feel regret of doing it and that is the hardest part." She turned around, facing him.

"And I would do it again, Draco, without a heartbeat, because that poor excuse of  a man deserves nothing but pain for what he's done." Her voice got louder and he didn't dare to interrupt. Not when she was burning brightly before his eyes with anger.

He was waiting for this point in her life, where she would finally see what horrible people her friends are. The sudden confession did startled him, he didn't know that she'll come around so soon but leave it to Harry Potter and his pathetic lot to help him out. To fuck up and lose one thing, one person who's worth more than anyone.

Draco's attention was drawn back to her, never actually casted away. He noticed how her bare legs, looked divine with her figure, just in his shirt. How her venomous voice made him shiver or the way her body spoke too, showing her emotions. But most importantly he was hypnotized by her blazed up eyes, the ones she had when they were younger and how magnificent they are.

He felt the room heat up, despite the cold air outside, even the fire didn't warm it up enough to be this heated, oh but she did, she always made him feel warm and at first he hated it but now.

"I will make them beg for forgiveness, I will make them pay for all the shit they put me through." She gritted her teeth, anger clearly visible on her facial features."They will wish for death when I'm done with them."

Hermione's chest felt heavy but the words she spoke out loud, made it lighter to breath, finally.

"I promise to you, Harry Potter will regret ever betraying me, I will end him and his little army of fans." She promised and felt the magic on her fingertips flickering, slowly making it up her arms and all over her body, inflaming her with power she never got a taste of before.

Draco felt it too, slowly standing up. It felt like the whole place was shacking, the fire, like the last time, blazed up, flames licking the walls but not setting them on fire yet. Unlighted candles also flamed up but neither of them noticed the things around them levitating or windows shaking slightly, the glass rattling with their breaths.

He only saw her and she only saw him.

Draco got closer to her, with breathless urgency it  seemed, walking towards her as if she was a pulling force, not caring that he potentially could get himself hurt. It seemed like the power she was beaming with, drew him in and soon they were close. Hermione looked deep into his eyes, right now needing to know one thing only.

"The only way I can do this is with you, Draco, so tell me this now..." She grabbed fist full of his robes, near his exposed skin and drew him closer to her eye level, making them gasp when her bare fingers touched his uncovered collarbone.

"Are you with me or against me ?" She whispered out softly, but the words were more than enough to cause a shiver run down his spine, making his blood run faster.

He kneeled down on one knee, as if he would be proposing marriage or unity and without a second to spare let out one word.

"Forever." He breathed out. "Forever yours, if you'll have me." She smirked, satisfied with his answer or more like a promise, secretly liking him on his knees.

One thing she knew that Malfoys don't kneel and this was much more than a promise, perhaps a start of their new life even. He lowered himself in front of her, making it clear that this was more than real and that was enough for Hermione to know that they had something true, something special that no one could take away. He always was truest of them all, after all.

"Hermione, promise me there will be no mercy." He almost pleaded out. "Promise me you will get revenge for what they did to you."

"Draco, when I say there will be no mercy, that means there will be none." She kneeled down with him on the carpet, clearly showing him that they were equal, their souls as one. "I keep my promises."

"We will make them suffer, I'm done playing nice, Draco." She shook her head and he smiled at her words. "They never were my friends, none of them." Draco was truest of them all.

They looked quite powerful right there and then, even with her hair messy and with dark bags under his eyes. They looked like two pieces coming together and the aura around them could make anyone shrink. Darkness always looked good on her.

They faces were inches apart and everything slowed down around them, as if they were living in slow motion for a moment. They smiled at each other, fully knowing what awaited in the future and finally, Hermione closed the gap between them. When their lips touched, everything felt amazing around them, once again, like all those times before, the pull got stronger.

Draco drew her closer by the waist, their bodies touching. His hand was grazing her belly under the shirt she was wearing. She moaned softly, when his kisses trailed down her neck, her hand gripping his shoulder when he lifted them up so they were standing. Then he picked her up in his arms by her waist, carrying her towards his bed.

Hermione giggled when he crawled on top of her, his eyes dark and predatory. Pulling her closer to him, he kissed her again, feeling the unfamiliar warmth spreading through his body like wildfire. The only time he feels this is when he's with her. He would hate this feeling if he wouldn't so be in love with it.

He rocked into her and she didn't hold back her moans, making it harder for him not to rip her shirt in half. She should feel scared, Hermione knows, it's not normal to trust a person so much like she does now with him, not to mention so fast.

In the beginning of her year she would slap you if you would've told her she would be under Draco Malfoy, enjoying the feeling of his lips on her skin, letting out all these sounds which could make anyone red. Truth be told, she didn't give a single shit about it. Not anymore.

Hermione just wanted to feel Draco's hands on her, wanted to forget Ron and everything that surrounded him or anyone else. She just wanted to feel again.

Draco growled, feeling her hand run through his hair, tugging at it harshly. His body felt like it burned inside out, when her fingers traveled down his chest, under his robes.  And her smell made him go crazy, if he wasn't beforehand messed in his head. His hands were holding her captive, daring her to try and move. Her skin felt warm and soft like silk. He never wanted to leave this bed, he thought.

The only thing that could be heard in that dark room was her wicked sounds and right then, laying on the covers of his bed she decided that she liked him between her thighs.

~

That night Harry Potter woke up gasping in the dark, laying in his bed, a horrible nightmare still clear in his mind.

Cold sweat dripping and soaking in his shirt, deep breaths not helping at all.

Horrid shiver ran through his body, remembering the blood, the lives, everything.

He knew something was coming. And he feared that something had a name.

Chapter Text

 


VIII. INTENTIO

 

' Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.'

 

The days got colder and darker, chilly air, frozen windows and all that. Hermione loved it.

After a day or so, both she and Draco came out of their dorm, looking better now that they've spend more time together, nurturing the bond unknowingly. Of course, if it would be up to Draco, they would've stayed locked up in the room forever but Hermione's need to learn got in the way.

They didn't speak much about what they'll do next. Part of it was because she wasn't ready to leave her safe space, trying to forget what happened, forget Ron's hands and smell, his hurtful words and actions. The nightmares were still there but each time she woke up, screaming and petrified, Draco was always there, nurturing her back to sleep, whispering all the things he will do for her.

"I won't rush this and get caught, Draco and that's final." She said while they lay on the couch, her reading a book while he his newspaper.

Nothing is changing in politics, as usual, he thought while reading the headline. Draco scowled at the moving picture of Shacklebolt in front of him. Then he proceeded to throw the newspaper on the coffee table. He should get his hands in politics already, it was useless cause with him running the Ministry, nothing was changing. But who would elect an ex-death-eater for that position.

Blaise accompanied with Luna came up to check on them, since Luna didn't stop with her predictions or guesses about what happened. Most of them were about bizarre happening and it drove Blaise and Neville crazy. What Hermione told them was that she got sick with flu, neither of them bought this excuse but the look from Draco shut them up, at least Blaise.

"Funny thing colds are..." Luna trailed off, her soft voice filling the space, making Hermione smirk and Draco grit his teeth in irritation. "Sure does leave a lot of lovebites on the skin, yes I heard." Blaise quickly left with Luna in his arms, making her laugh out loud. He wasn't risking, seeing Draco's murderous eyes directed at the poor, innocent blonde girl.

Hermione will tell them eventually, she had to, but for now she wanted to sort this soul bond thing out, so that's why they are in the library this moment, searching for answers or at least Hermione is.

"Shouldn't you have all the answers, anyway ?" She asked him while he lounged in his chair, his feet on the table. Eyes closed and his shoulders relaxed, since he wasn't getting his sleep and it was partially her fault.

"Some books here are worth a read but since this isn't a common thing, people forget to document, typical." He said, unimpressed at her questioning, rather annoyed, tone of voice.

"Oh so you didn't try to find any other information out there?" The tone she used was mocking.

"My apologies, love, but since the whole war thing was happening, you know choosing sides and what not, I didn't have much time, unfortunately." Draco bit back, his tone matching hers now and he smiled sweetly at her, while she narrowed her eyes at him, both of them not backing away.

Hermione would've said something, already opening her mouth but the sudden noise nearby interrupted them. It was too loud for a library. She lifted an eyebrow and looked at Draco who shrugged and stood up, ready to scare someone off. He too recognized the heard voices, making him roll his shoulders back in annoyance. Hermione came closer, hiding behind the bookshelf, enough to see the intruders. She felt Draco come up behind her, interested as well at hearing and seeing more.

"Harry Potter, if you won't let go of me this instant I-"

"Shut up, Ginny, and listen to me for once." Harry Potter himself graced them with his presence, his hand gripping Ginny's wrist tightly.

Ginny Weasley looked mad, if that wasn't her natural look already, her fired-up eyes glaring at Harry. He shushed her when she opened her mouth again and that made her even more angry, her pursed lips clearly showing that this won't end well for him.  

"Right then, speak before I lose my mind with you completely."

"Ginny, the dream was morbid and realistic, okay? " Harry's hand let go of her and he looked around for any listeners. Good thing they were hidden between the old books, where no one looks or comes but with just enough space to look at all the others.

"I've - we've been through enough to know that this, my dreams rather, are no joke." He said, gesturing to his head.

"You sound ridiculous, Harry, Voldemort is dead, Harry, dead." He cringed at the name and her hushed but still scratchy voice. "He's dead and not coming back, and whatever you have going on in your head, well it's about time you sort it out and I can help you, dear." She harshly said and Hermione's eyebrows rose at the stinging words, if it would be up to her- never mind. They continued listening, silently.

"Ginny, something's going on, please, believe me. It's not V-Voldemort, not him anymore at least. " He gulped slightly hesitating. "It's Hermione." Ginny laughed out loud, although she saw no humor in this, clearly.

"Granger ? Oh please that girl can't hurt anyone." Ginny said, not knowing if she believed her words herself. "Stop talking about her, Harry, okay ?" She asked, ready to walk away from this conversation but he stopped her once again.

"Don't you think that at the same time that Ron gets put in infirmary she disappears ? With Malfoy nowhere to be seen too ?"

"No, I don't think that's weird and you should- no, you will leave. It. Alone." Ginny Weasley said through her gritted teeth, her voice shaking in anger again.

She looked visibly pale and nervous now, making Hermione ponder the reason. Was Ginny afraid of Hermione ? Or was she afraid of the thoughts in Harry's head about her.

Their fallout was the hardest, since the girls always backed each other up, since they were little. But Hermione always had that uncertain feeling when Ginny would smile at her, the smile which wasn't completely genuine, a spark of jealousy always behind the redhead's eyes.

"But-" Harry tried, his small voice pleading.

"No !" Her voice got louder and that caught attention to everyone around. The book net to her opened and shushed her immediately, then hid itself in the shelf again.

"We will not speak about Hermione Granger any longer, she doesn't exist, she's nothing anymore okay? Okay ?" Ginny hysterically waved her arms around, her voice breaking in slight panic and she left quickly, while Harry followed a few moments after.

Hermione turned around and looked at Draco who's eyes were equally angry and his sneer gave out his annoyance at the sight. Or the words he heard spilling from the bint's mouth. His hand twitched and the thirst of hurting something, or someone was rising again.

On the other hand, Hermione looked more content, with her small but now certain smile on her lips and when Draco looked at her he was mildly surprised, not showing this on his face though. With her hands crossed on her chest, she looked like she was planning something. He waited for her to say something, anything and then finally she looked up at him, his hand lazily spread on the top bookshelf above her head, giving them shelter from anyone, his back covering them too.

"Doesn't Ginny look too nervous ?" She asked innocently, while he lifted an eyebrow. "Paranoid even."

"Fear ?" He tried.

"Perhaps." She considered.

"At least we know that scar-head is not doing too well, it's not good that he suspects you. "

"I'm not guilty right ? So from now on we need to be more careful." She cleared her throat and moved passed him, he followed.

"We will need more people. People we trust." Hermione said after some thoughts and gathered the books she needed, they didn't even walk out of the library when the books were in Draco's hands. "We'll have to tell them."

"And if they will be against it ?" He asked her, needing to make sure if what he's thinking is true. He wasn't risking it.

"They won't have a choice." Draco was indeed correct and with a smirk on his face he followed her, the students walking in the halls parting for them to walk by, their eyes following them but for the first time Hermione wasn't annoyed by it. In fact, she enjoyed it.

~

Hermione sat down in front of them, them being Luna, Blaise and Neville.

They were seated in one sofa while she sat in her comfortable armchair, looking calm and composed with her hands and legs on top of each other. Draco's stayed back a little, near the door, drinking his dark tea with no sugar in it, just in case, with his wand in his hand.

That didn't went unnoticed by Blaise but he knew better than to question it.

After the whole true story, about Ron and Harry, all the shit she's been through lately, she waited or their reaction, casually sipping her tea, sweeter than his. Their faces ranged from disgusted to angry, especially Neville who's eyes looked watered.

"How idiotic Harry could get ?" He asked no one in particular, since no one could've answered him that question anyway. "How could he ? I-I trusted the guy for so long."

"What I didn't tell you is that I won't sit here quietly." Hermione sat her cup down gently, her voice calm as ever and Draco came closer to her, still not trusting anyone yet.

"I won't let Harry or Ronald, anyone basically, walk free from this. They don't deserve it." She said looking at each of them, trying to read each of their faces and body language.

Luna, sitting between two men looked unreadable, while Blaise sneered at the floor, still not believing what he had heard but her words registered in his mind. He wasn't the risk after all, already knowing half of the things Draco did. Neville on the other hand looked ready to kill someone, if that was possible for the sweet guy, his face determined, which honestly surprised Draco. He recognized the familiar look on his face too.

"I think we're all here smart enough to understand what I'm saying." Hermione's voice held authority daring them to deny.

Neville stood up and came closer, only stopped by Draco's wand instantly pointed at him but the small feminine hand on top of his lowered it instantly. Hermione came closer to Neville, her eyes analyzing him further, guessing his next move. She noticed she did that more often, trying to predict someone's steps ahead. Blaise stood up too, coming behind Neville, slowly his hand inched to touch his wand.

Luna just sat on the sofa, still staring blankly into space. She usually did that but the look on her face now was something resembling of a broken bird, eyes filled with void and perhaps even hate. The girl ignored the group, knowing how this will end already.

"I cannot let you leave now, Neville, you know too much." Hermione whispered, silently paying that he wouldn't do anything stupid that her would regret. "Don't make me do this, please."

"Longbottom, don't do anything that will make you regret it." Draco suggested, as if he heard her exact thoughts. He didn't care for the man but Draco knew how important he was to Hermione, she couldn't afford to lose him too.

Neville shook his head and came closer to her, taking his wand and dropping it on the table, letting it roll off but Luna caught it gracefully, coming down from her trance.

Hermione expected a curse, a punch even or some degrading words but soon she was embraced, strong hands around her, supporting her. She blinked a couple of seconds, caught off guard about what just happened, but then felt her arms hugging Neville back. Her heart beating fast.

"I'll help you with anything you'll need from me, Hermione, I swear." He promised, whispering in her ear, making her smile slightly, tears gathering in her eyes.

Draco growled silently, while watching them. Blaise just shook his head and shut his eyes at the sound of Hermione's cries, hand forming into fists. Luna came closer to the hugging duo, despite being the smallest of all them, she hugged them both too. Supporting her weight and crying with Hermione too.

Draco glared at the floor but somewhere deep inside, he felt relief that she wasn't alone anymore.

After their little meeting they decided, well rather Hermione decided, that they will work quietly, not show themselves together too much or flaunt their new found friendship. It was too risky and she need people closer too Harry and his group, since she couldn't come close to them, even if she wanted.

Only two weeks before the Christmas Ball they got a one-day-trip this weekend to Hogsmeade.

Did Hermione care about which dress to wear ? To be honest, not really, but since the ball will be 'officially' the first time she will be with Draco, she had to look presentable, well that's what he said anyways. Shaking his head at her hanging dresses in her closet, promising that he will buy her anything she wanted if he could burn them all. Mother though him well, she laughed silently.

"It's tradition, Hermione, then they will know not to come near you, because you'll be officially mine." He said once with a roll of his eyes which earned him a slap on the chest and a breathless 'arse'. He smirked at her flushed cheeks and continued, not minding his wet dress-shirt, now turning see-through.

Hermione was in the bathtub, bubbles covering the surface, hiding her, and the smell of honey mixed with apples filled the bathroom. He was kneeling beside the tub, his hand grazing her naked shoulder, making her shiver despite the hot water. Draco's light hair was slightly damp and she laughed at the bubbles on his chin, wiping them away.

"A a piece of jewelry with Malfoy's crest engraved on them and hanging from your neck will show that the courtship has begun. The Wizarding world will know that you're off limits and will stop looking at you or try to sway you, especially the ones here." He said with a sneer, remembering some talk amongst the male population and those talks usually included Hermione. "Not that I haven't taken care of them already."

Hermione covered her laugh with coughing and he lifted an eyebrow at her, unimpressed. This was a serious topic of course.

"Sorry but I've never imagined that you'd be the person to say 'courtship', to me nothing less. A muggleborn can only dream." She still chuckled quietly, while Draco just smirked and looked away, pretending that his hand didn't lower drastically below the surface of the hot water.

So that's how she found herself in a fancy dress shop with Luna, further form everyone else, looking for something to wear since all her dresses where gone or hideous. Plus she wanted something new and not so girlish anymore. Hermione had to agree with Draco and his idea of a new reign and all that, public image is important, especially for their plans.

Luna already picked out hers, a beautiful baby-blue classic dress, with flower prints. It looked modest on her, with her light hair and pale skin.  But the moving print, and blooming flowers on the blue fabric made it look elegant and appropriate. It smelled like wild flowers too.

Hermione stood in front of the mirror with blood red long dress, puffier than her hair in first year. It did look quite good on her but that's what everyone expects. Gryffindor with a red or golden dress and honestly she's over it, also guessing that other girls weren't as clever and would pick something similar. Her lips were formed in a pout and her arms caressed the waistline, thinking and analyzing.

"I think you should leave an impression, something that will leave a mark in history." She heard behind Luna say behind her and turned around, almost falling from the length of this, now horrid in her eyes, dress."I have a feeling that everyone will remember that  day."

Luna walked through the racks of dresses, her fingers lightly brushing past them until she stopped at dark fabric and pulled it out. Ignoring the lady who tried to persuade her to pick something dark purple for Hermione. Hermione cringed, imagining herself in something like what the lady was offering.

The dress, which Luna separated form everything else, floated in front of them in the air. Hermione let out a laugh when she saw it, but she must admit the dress was flawless and she will make sure that everyone will see it during the ball. Despite only seeing it for a few seconds, she already loved the idea of it on her, knowing how well it'll mach Draco's costume.

"I think so too, Luna." Hermione agreed and proceeded to unzip this distasteful thing off of her, Luna clapping lightly out of excitement. She ordered another glass of sparkling water, excited to see Hermione in her battle dress. Luna will make sure to congratulate Harry and Ron for their loss.

"Luna, can ask you something ?" Hermione bit her lip, while they waited for their dresses to be packed and prepared for a journey back. Hermione asked for extra protection, just in case.

Luna stopped her humming and playing with some kind of toy in her hand. With her two index fingers stuck in that thing, she looked at Hermione and nodded.

"Of course, is it about Sylphs ? I see them too you know, funny things-" Hermione blinked confused at the girl's rambling and then with the shake of her head smiled, interrupting her passionate explanation.

"No, it's about some pureblood traditions. Draco said he will get me something to begin a-" She hesitated, sounding stupid in her head and holding in her embarrassing sigh.

"Courtship ?" Luna guessed really.

"Even after asking not to get me anything, he was really persistent. No surprise there, really." Hermione let out sight and with their bags, both girls left the shop, now walking in cold air, their steps leaving a print on light coat of fresh snow.

"Well it is a quite the big deal in pureblood families, for Malfoys especially." Luna shrugged, still concentrating on her toy. "It just show that he's ready to take this more seriously than it already is, quite poetic don't you think, courtships are ?" She asked, her voice light and Hermione felt tickling in her belly about that thought.

"It's almost like an engagement in muggle world, only much stronger. Everyone will know that you're off limits, but this tradition is almost extinct now days. " Luna said with great struggle, finally setting her fingers free from the torture toy. Blaise was amusing for giving her this, she decided, funny it belong to his mother.

"Well, should I get him anything ? I mean I know my blood is not pu-" Hermione's still red cheeks heated up more about the word 'engagement'.

"Of course, he will be joyous, maybe it'll erase that wrinkle on his forehead, I am concerned it'll get stuck there." Luna pondered, her face deep in thoughts and Hermione laughed loudly at that, attracting some attention to them.

"Look who dragged herself here!" Someone yelled behind them, their voice stopping Hermione in her tracks, already knowing it was meant for her.

She instantly knew to who that voice belong to, ii only played a part in her nightmares greatly. Hermione looked around and saw a few people around, students with bags in their hands and since it was a busy day soon there will be more. She guessed that fate was on her end this time.

"Luna, I'll handle it, go." Hermione urged her friend to go, knowing that it won't take long.

With a fake, sickly sweet smile Hermione turned around and was greeted with a mop of red head. She refused to let her discomfort show n her face, keeping it friendly. But her heart was beating fast, seeing as this was her first time seeing him alone after the attack.

"Ron, so nice seeing you here." She said and maneuvered her body so it was standing back, to the now forming, crowd, clearly showing Ron's face to everyone. She had to be careful.

"And what poor lad got to take you to a ball huh ? Or are you just pretending to be important." Weasley chuckled coming closer to her, a nasty look on his face. "Let's be honest, 'Mione, no one would like a prude like you." He said, his harsh words not affecting her in any way but her face mimicked a hurt impression.

"Ron, why are you doing this ?" She asked her hand on her chest, pressing against her heart lightly. "We were such dear friends, Ronald, do you remember ?"

"Don't talk bullshit, like always, you were just a piece of convenient trash. " The crowd got bigger and bigger when they noticed who stood in the middle of the town street. Some whispers could be heard around them, not believing the scene.

Sure, Ron used to follow her around the school with phrases like these but he made sure to do it not so noticeably, not everyone around him tolerated such stupid and hurtful words. Whether they like Hermione or not. He was discreet in front of the teachers too,  especially McGonagall. And since none of them were here, he felt free to show her, her place again.

"You were and still are a no one. Pathetic." Weasley came so close that she had to hold in her breath, still remembering what happened, her memories fading but still there. Now noticing the bruising on his face, his one leg limping.

Doesn't he remember anything ? He should know what she can do.

"How's your leg by the way ? " She asked when he was face to face with her. "Heard you were unconscious for a few days ?" Her fake concern made him scowl and his face got redder.

"A fucking Quidditch game but don't worry, I'm not leaving you alone. Not when I can have so much fun with you." He licked his lips, looking her up and down.

Hermione didn't show it on her face but now she understood that he didn't remember anything. She wasn't sure if it was luck or the power of the curse that landed her a hand.

"Ronald, you won't win. I won't let you." She whispered so that no one could hear. Only him. "I told you that I will make you pay dearly for what you did."

"Shut the fuck up, Mudblood !" He yelled and numerous gasps could be heard at the use of that nickname.

Clearly panicking and not using his small amount of brains, he made day by pushing her down. His hands came in contact with her forearms, knocking her down to the ground. Her heel got stuck between two pieces of stone, laced with snow and she fell on the cold ground with a loud cry from the pain. Hermione instantly clutched her right ankle, her face twisted in pain and she cried out again, the sound reaching everyone's ears.

And when she heard the crowd again letting out sounds of disbelieve she knew her plan had worked.

Ron, for that matter, looked around horrified, a single flash of a photo being taken and he knew that he majorly fucked up.

"No I- no, she just- Fuck." He looked around the faces, looking and judging him, missing a smiling Luna and ran out of there almost slipping.

Soon Hermione was lifted into someone's arms and her nose filled with a familiar scent. Secretly she smiled but it quickly disappeared and she hid her face in Draco's neck.

"Check the dress, Draco, if  he ruined it I'm seriously going after him." Hermione shook her shoulders, faking a cry.

Another flash went off, the sound of it making her joyous. While they walked down the street, everyone parted ways, giving them space to walk. Hermione being carried bridal style in Draco Malfoy's arms was something you don't see every day. He noticed the shocked and petrified expressions, clearly shaken about what happened minutes ago.

"Don't worry, love, for those acting skills I will buy you every dress out there. Just say a word." He said while carrying her away from everyone and kissed her temple. She somehow knew that he would actually do what he promised her.

"The plan worked wonderfully."

Of course, it worked  and her dress was in a perfect condition too. 

The next day Hermione's crying face graced Daily Prophet's first page, followed by Draco carrying her away and Ron looking murderous.

Safe to say she was happy when Harry grabbed Ron by the arm in the Great Hall and practically dragged him out, eyes following them while she kept her face natural. Her toast was extra buttery today.

The plan indeed worked.

Chapter Text

 


IX. METUS


' You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.'

 

Hermione sat back in her chair and let out an irritated sigh. Her arms were crossed on her chest and in front of her, several books were spread out on the table, most of them open and read through by her.

She hoped that the restricted section would have some answers about hers and Draco's situation but unfortunately everything she read wasn't helpful. It also didn't help that McGonagall was working on transferring all the books from restricted section into unknown location.

Hermione couldn't be mad though, she was actually doing her job of protecting the students, finally.

Still, not knowing all that Hermione could about their problem- well not a problem per say, more like a perk, irked her. She bit inside her cheek, deep in her thoughts.

Hearing steps behind her, she didn't turn around, only gripped her wand where she put it nearby on the table. Hermione was getting more aware of her surroundings when she was left alone, only letting herself go when Draco's near or someone else she trust.

"Knew I could find you here." She heard a voice behind her.

Not jumping in her seat like it's always expected of her, she turned sideways, letting go of her wand and breath that she was holding in at the same time, recognizing familiar face.

Neville stood above her, a gentle smile on his face and two large cups in his hands. Hermione greeted him and carefully pushed away the books, making room for him to set the cups, then he took a seat beside her. The hidden corner of the library was dimly lit, most students were eating dinner, getting ready for sleep or just breaking rules in different ways.

"I'm full of surprises, aren't I ?" Sarcasm dipped words made Neville let out a laugh and look around the table.

"Tough night ?" He grimaced at the picture of some creature in front him, closing the book for his own well-being.

"Yeah, something like that." Hermione smiled lightly, taking a sip and groaning at how good the tea was. "This is amazing, thank you." She relaxed in her seat for the first time this evening.

"No problem, not going to brag but I'm a master at tea making, without magic and all." He shrugged, putting his hands in the air making Hermione laugh and after a few seconds he joined her.

"How are you feeling ?" He asked after a few moments, making her sober up at the serious question, not prepared for it.

Hermione looked at him, wondering about how she should answer to his question. His eyes were laced with slight worry, eyebrows furrowed. She thought about lying to him, just to get rid of the concern on his face but then decided against it, strangely feeling guilty about the thought of lying to Neville.

"Better." She decided to go with this short answer but then she couldn't stop. "Draco helps me through the nightmares mostly, they're quite vivid. I now know how Harry felt all these years." She let out a bitter laugh, making Neville put a hand on her shoulder. The contact felt soft and genuine.

"I can still feel his hands on me and the horrid feeling of being trapped but his eyes are the worst, you know." On tear ran down her face and she felt betrayed by her emotions again.

"After knowing him for so long, so long." She wiped it away quickly. "I never knew he could do this to me, to us. He's not the same Ron, my dear friend, my brother, the person with who I survived the war. No, that Ron died and this is a monster walking through the halls." Hermione shook her head, memories still fresh and clear but now she didn't feel the same fear overgrowing her.

Hermione looked at Neville again, surprised to see his eyes tearing up too. He hugged her gently, giving her space to pull away if needed. But she hugged back after awhile, not expecting this reaction. She didn't open up like this to anyone besides Draco and only at night, when no one could hear them.

It felt good. It felt like she was setting something free after long torture.

"I'm really thankful for you, you know ?" He said after pulling away and wiping away a few tears that were running down his cheeks. "For all these years, I looked up to you. You always were so kind and bright, always smiling." Neville spoke softly, remembering his old school days.

"I still do, Hermione. How you manage to stay strong after everything just amazes me." Hermione looked at him, a surprised look on her face. She never heard anything like this from anyone before. "I swore to my grandma on her death bed to never betray my friends and I intend to keep that promise."

"When I saw how sad you looked walking in the halls, I vowed to do anything to help you." His eyes spoke the truth and she almost broke down at the mention of his grandma. She didn't even know. "I was never a violent person but Merlin knows those bastards deserve everything that's coming their way." Neville whispered into the silence, the dimly lit library making his words darker.

After a couple minutes he felt a head laying on his shoulder and a hand warping around his. He put his head on hers and they stayed like this in silence for awhile. A silent 'thank you' he guessed and Neville was happy with that.

After a long time of them just drinking their tea, Neville let out a sigh.

"If Draco walked in right now, I would probably die right ?" He pursued his lips, debating his chances.

"Yup." Neville gulped loudly at her answer, shuddering at how quickly and without a second thought Hermione answered.

She laughed loudly when he slipped away and pulled his chair further from her.

"Where is he anyway ?" The question rang out in the empty hall accompanied by the sound of their footsteps. The air felt chilly, halls illuminated with candles hanging on walls.

"Draco ? He was supposed-" Hermione's sentence was cut off by the sound of a silent sob.

She stopped walking and grabbed Neville's hand making him stop too. He furrowed his eyebrows, visibly questioning her and before he could ask what Hermione was doing, she pressed her pointer finger against her lips, quieting him instantly.

They listened again, it was deadly silent for a while even at the point of hearing a faint ringing in their ears. That quiet was disturbed by another sob, a harder one this time and Hermione's body tensed up.

They both drew out their wands out of their holders and made their way closer to the sound. It was coming up the small stone staircase, leading to one of the balconies in the castle. Hermione noticed a few paintings were empty, as if they were abandoned by their owners out of fear, seeing the sight before them.

Against Neville's silent wish she stepped forward first, leading them up slowly and closer to the sound. Her gripe tightened on her wand when she saw a lost shoe, small enough to be a female's size. In her head she was thinking about all possible scenarios, horrible thoughts and scenes played in her mind, almost the same ones as she saw during the war.

Hermione could almost feel Neville's' anxiety radiating off of him but she should applaud him for his cautious steps, she was proud that he was such strong wizard after everything that happened. He did prove so many people wrong. She gritted her teeth, knowing that it's not time to think about that, scolding herself, in her head sounding almost like Draco.

As they approached the top of the stairs, she expected a trap or even a group of people still hanging there or something else but what she saw was much worse. And her blood tuned cold at the sight in front of her because she dreamed the exact same scene only with her.

~

Draco walked swiftly and quickly through the halls, eager to appear in the library as soon as possible. He was already late and the fact that their little mission did succeed didn't help him at all. His annoyance was clearly written on his face, pale and cold eyes piercing a few walking past him and who dared to look at him got chills running through their spines, seemed like Draco's aura spread fear.

The staring got on Draco's nerves today more than any other day and without Hermione's presence the students were in more danger to get cursed away. And the fact that he didn't see Hermione for a few hours made him more disgruntled.

His annoyance reached a high peek when a certain person headed towards him, blocking Draco's way. Draco tried to remember what Hermione told him and tried to count to ten. Over and over again in his head.

Harry Potter stopped in his tracks when he saw Draco walking towards him, his gaze not meeting his eyes, looking past him as if he didn't exist. That slightly annoyed Harry and unnerved him, since this wasn't a usual scenario when two enemies met in the halls.

Were they still enemies ? Harry sometimes wondered but then dismissed these ridiculous thoughts. Of course they were. Even if he helped them in war in his own way, he still was an evil snake lurking to do evil things, evil things to Hermione of all people. And that, supposedly clever, witch trusted him ? What a load of crap. 

So he got ready to have a few rounds with insults with Malfoy but he was extremely surprised and taken aback when Malfoy walked past him, not a single jab at him not even a look.  To say that Harry Potter was in slight shock was a light thing to say.

He was so not used to this he even turned around, slightly tipsy and yelled after him. Now, normally he wouldn't do this but today he did have a few rounds of Firewhisky with Ron, Merlin knows where that bloke was, since he left him after he-

"Potter, I don't have time for your bullshit." Draco interrupted his attempt at thinking. "In fact,  I won't ever have time for your bullshit so don't bother."

He didn't even turn around and made a move to resume walking but Potter just won't learn to leave things alone. A dumb manner he picked up from Weasley, Draco thought to himself, or maybe he always had it.

"Leave 'Mione alone, you prat." Harry spat, his voice loud and in Malfoy's opinion quite rude.

Draco halted in his steps, counting long forgotten and anger slowly clouding his thoughts. He slowly turned around, his hands in his pockets, not bothering to even take out his wand. Harry's eyes narrowed at him, slightly pleased he got the attention on him.

"You want to repeat that, Potter, because I think you said something stupid." Draco asked his voice calm but if you listened closely deadly. "A recurring thing I might add, you should seek professional help for that, I know a few mind healers in fact-"

"You have no right to be friends with her, do you hear me ?" Harry came closer, making Draco let out an annoyed sigh, not the first time this day.  Potter came close enough for Draco to smell the alcohol. Brilliant, Merlin is testing him today.

"An you do ?" Draco asked. "Or do you think you're better friend than me, Potter ? Last time I checked she was crying in my hands because her dear friends treated- no excuse me- treat her like she's worth nothing, like she's some nuisance." Draco noticed how Harry looked away, slight guilt showed on his face. Draco might as well plant the self-hatred seed now.  

"Frankly, I think I'm doing an amazing job. Want me to tell you secret, Potter ?" Draco also stepped closer, his face no longer holding back, showing how truly irritated he was. His cold and harsh voice cut through the thick air filled with tension between two males. He leaned closer slightly towering over Harry.

"She absolutely hates that nickname." He smiled a cruel smile on his face. Harry stepped back. "In fact, the one thing she hates more than that horrid name is you, Harry Potter, she loathes you more than anything." Draco sneered. "You are responsible for everything that she had to suffer through. Oh but don't worry, I will take care of everything."

For the first time Harry was afraid of Malfoy because when he looked in his eyes, not only did he shudder at the emptiness mixed with hatred but he didn't detect any lies.  Anger and hate filled words seemed to sober Harry up, making him shake his head in denial.

 "You're lying. You're nothing but a lying bastard, Malfoy." Harry shook his head. "She knows what she's done."

"Oh, Merlin, the only thing she's responsible for is saving your arse from well-deserved death so many times and yet here you are, poking it with a stick." Draco flat out laughed at Harry's dumbfounded expression.

"It's rather fun to see you so doubtful. I would love to stay and ruin you more but that would be a lie because I. Don't. Care." Draco said and tuned once again to leave only to see another bloody idiot rounding the corner.

Ron Weasley came around the corner his red cheeks matching his hair, clearly drunk judging by the stumbling and his hand gripping the wall for support. His clothes were messy and wrinkled. Draco already felt a headache coming from just standing near them.

"Oh great, another one." Ron looked up hearing the voice speaking and instantly furrowed his eyebrows, anger clear on his face. "Honestly, Weasley, how could anyone call you a man when you're walking around looking like a used-up rag ?"

Draco asked, not waiting for response since, like he said, he didn't care, besides he was sure no one in Weasley's life called him a man. But as expected Ronald didn't get the message.

"You little ferret, I-I will kill you, 'Mione will be m-min-" Ron waved his hand around chuckling between his words but he stopped when he saw how angry and sad but more importantly scared Harry looked .

Potter stood there trying to think about Draco's words, trying not to puke from his abuse on alcohol tonight and perhaps even guilt that was growing heavier with each day. Weasley cleared his throat and pointed at Draco, his aim missing him completely.

"What the f-fuck did you do ?" His words were more clear now but still slurred and f's drawn out.

"I did nothing, matter of fact you both fucked up and now I'm just enjoying the show." Draco answered, or rather sneered back. "Sad that I have to pass this event of you making absolute fools of yourselves but snogging the fuck out of Granger tonight seems far more better."

"Fuck you, Malfoy, fuck you !" Harry finally yelled, his voice trembled, starling Ron but Draco didn't even flinch. He did turn around and his gaze met Harry's cowardly one.

"Nah, Potter, that's Granger's job." And then Draco was gone but not before saluting them away with his hand raised lazily . "I would be more careful from now on, boys, big things are coming."

Ignoring the shouts behind him since there was no real threat when both of them were drunk and their aim was defiantly off. Draco's hand did itch to turn around and use some new curses he learned when he heard Weasley's kind slurs targeted at Hermione but for her and everyone's sake he held himself from doing it.

He will remember though. Draco started counting again.

Ron yelled, cursed and trashed around. He looked like a spoiled kid who didn't get what he wanted. Harry just walked away, still thinking while Weasley was taking deep breaths, looking like a bull ready to pounce but in his drunken stance he barely could stand.

Even he understood what Malfoy said, then he spit on the ground where Malfoy stood and followed Harry.

That night Harry Potter lay in his bed, covered in sweat, dread slowly clouding his thoughts and turning his blood cold, freezing his body so he was paralyzed. He dreamed about his former friend again.

He dreamed how she slowly torn everyone apart in front of him, while he could only watch. Screams filled his mind, he heard those screams before. Even though Harry battled with most fearful wizard in the world and won, not even Voldemort made him feel this fear.

But Hermione did.

When he woke up, with sweat running down his face he shuddered, knowing that something is coming and no one could help him.

He wasn't even sure if he deserved help.

~

Hermione's heart dropped, her eyes were wider than the moon hanging in the sky.

On the cold, stone floor lay a sobbing girl, her clothes were torn, exposing her skin to cold weather, messy dark hair covering her face. Her skirt tossed aside, along with her broken wand.

Her whole body shook, she was curled into a ball, trying to shield herself from everyone and anything that could harm her again. Her sobs were filled with pain, that kind of pain that even you could feel it, as if something terrible happened to you.

Hermione knew what it was. She knew exactly what happened. Somewhere behind her, she heard Neville's gasp and a silent pray to Gods, she was sure he was looking away, trying to give at least some kind of respect for this girl.

Hermione put her wand back and came closer to the girl, her hands were shaking but her face stayed calm. When the girl tried to crawl away, visibly putting herself in more pain to even move, Hermione slowed down and crouched beside her.

"I won't hurt you, do you hear me, I won't." She promised, her voice stern but kind. "I want to help. Let me." Hermione tried again to get closer, this time succeeding. But she had a feeling that wasn't because of her words but because the girl was getting more exhausted and weak.

Hermione tried to get a closer look, how much more damage was done, and put her hand on the floor. Feeling that the ground was damp she lifted it and held her breath when something dark shined under the moonlight.

Hermione remembered how she once talked with Draco about how blood looked black in the night. The iron smell soon filled Hermione's nostrils  and she reached for her wand.  She tried healing spells, everything she could muster but the bleeding didn't stop, the girl's sobs didn't either.

"Neville, help me." Hermione put her wand back in her holder but not giving up. "Neville, now!" She almost yelled when Neville didn't move but at her words he jumped and ran up to her, kneeling beside the girl.

Hermione took off her sweater and covered the girl's body, Neville's did it also, his sweater was much more bigger, providing some kind of warmth to her. Hermione took it and wrapped around the girl's middle, shielding her lower body from anyone that could stumble upon them. She pushed back the girls hair that covered her face and almost didn't recognize the face, which was painted with red, bloody bruises.  

Pansy  Parkinson was laying before them, helplessly depending only on them, bleeding out fast.

"We need to take her to a hospital wing." Hermione said and Neville instantly picked Pansy up.

He didn't say anything when she gripped his shirt desperately. Her bloody hands leaving imprints on his shirt. He didn't know if it was out of fear or desperation. Maybe both.  Hermione followed them down the steps, holding Pansy's hand on Neville's shoulder and whispering to her reassuringly.

"You're safe now. You'll be fine, Pansy, I swear." I'll make sure.

Neville almost ran, making sure not to hurt Pansy more. Trying to get there as fast as possible, his steps larger than Hermione's making her stay behind. Thankfully, the halls were mostly empty, so no one saw them and helped him to get there faster.

Suddenly Hermione stopped, or rather somebody stopped her, her wrist held in someone's grip.

Hermione was thrown back, suddenly loosing speed and her footing, but she hit a hard chest instead of falling down on her behind. She turned around ready to punch someone but saw a familiar blonde hair and grey clouded eyes. Draco looked down at her and furrowed his eyebrows, pulling her closer to him but she pushed back on his chest.

"Let me go, I-I need to-" She gasped for air, her heart pounding in her ears. She didn't have time to explain.

"Breathe, Granger, breathe and tell why are you crying and running." Draco said calm but his shoulder tensed once he took in her appearance.

Her hair was sticking out of her bun, cheeks wet from crying and only in her white blouse, shivering. Her hands were trembling and now being close to her he felt panic coming from her in huge waves. He took her right hand, covered in blood and his heart dropped for a second before she spoke.

"N-Not mine."

He will make sure that Weasley's death will painful for making him late.

He knew something was off  once his heart started to beat faster on his way here. It was her.

Hermione wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand, she didn't even notice the tears running down to her chin, she didn't have the time. Her hands were shaking until he took them in his large ones and then she finally broke down. He hugged her, holding her close, pressing her as close as possible to him and slowly rubbed her back.

"Shh, love, I'm here. You're alright." He whispered in her ear like he always did in the middle of her nightmare at night. She pulled away and looked up.

"M-me and-, w-we found P-pansy, she was- " She looked away and wiped away her tears again but more followed and her voice trembled.  Draco was looking at her, listening and trying to understand what the fuck happened.

"Pansy was raped, Draco, I- I tried everything- I-It didn't help." She whispered and cried out again.  Her voice breaking at the end, making Draco angrier. "I couldn't help her."

Even though Draco didn't care for Pansy that much, he knew Hermione once could've been in her place. He gritted his teeth, hands clenching. He cursed and wrapped her in his arms again, pressing her against him again.

"It's not your fault, darling, you found her and helped as much as you could. That's what matters." She buried her face in his chest deeper, her sobbing was muffled. After calming her down a bit he took her hand in his and they ran to the infirmary.

Once they reached the door, Hermione was already composed and gathered herself. Draco being near and calming her down helped dearly. They saw Neville sitting on the floor his hand were bloody, his white undershirt painted red. His head was hanging low, legs nervously bouncing up and down.

"Longbottom." Draco called out, they came closer and stopped before him.

Hermione kneeled in front of him, letting go of Draco's hand with a comforting smile on her face. Neville looked up, his eyes were red and he stood up with her, Draco helping him since his legs were shaking. He nodded a silent thanks to Malfoy.

"They kicked me out. Said she was in critical condition." He looked at Hermione. "She almost died, Hermione, if it wasn't for you she would've bled out on that stone floor."

They stood there, waiting.

When Hermione pressed herself closer to Draco he took off his jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders and hugged her again afterwards, gently pressing his chin against the top of her head. Their height difference paid off greatly for him.

The silence was interrupted by the door suddenly opening and a tired nurse came out. She took in their appearance and smiled a small smile, an indication to Hermione that they hadn't lost her.

"She'll be fine. Lost a lot of blood but fine." Hermione could finally breathe and Neville pressed his head against a cold wall, relaxing a little.

"When can we see her ?" Draco asked, rubbing shooting circles on Hermione's back, she was too exhausted to speak, both her and Neville.

"Tomorrow, after breakfast. She should wake up by then. As far as the situation and how she got her injuries, we'll talk when she wakes up." She said, already knowing that this wasn't some accident. "Now go and get some rest, kids."

Later that night Hermione sat on her bed, her small hands gripping the sheets, her head felt like it will explode any second. When Draco came out of bathroom and kneeled in front of her, giving her the muggle medicine, she gulped the whole glass of water down and thanked him silently. Draco put the glass on his bedside table and took her hands in his, gently rubbing her knuckles. She still felt like there was blood on them still, despite washing them a few times already.

"That could've been me." Hermione whispered, making Draco tighten his hold. "She didn't deserve it."

"We'll talk tomorrow, love, now go to sleep." He pulled the cover back, letting her to get comfortable and then slid beside her. She laid her head on his chest, while he wrapped his arms around her, securing her from the world.

"That won't be you, Hermione. Not as long as I'm alive." He whispered into the night when her breathing slowed down. "Even Death won't stop me from having you."

He kissed the top of her head, missing the way her heart skipped a beat at his words.

~

The morning after was dreadful, instead of having normal breakfast Hermione sat nervously behind the table. Her face and body didn't show how she truly felt inside though.

She was composed, firmly holding a cup of coffee in her hand, gripping it tightly. Strong scent giving her a bit of relief and the hot liquid soothing her nerves. She wasn't about to show weakness and look sad or depressed again, she won't give them the satisfaction.

Her eyes often met with Draco's who was informing Blaise at the moment about what happened. They looked like they were having a normal conversation but judging by Blaise's tensed posture and a slight grimace on his face, no one would say it was a pleasant talk. Hermione wasn't sure if Pansy would agree to say anything to Blaise but she trusted Draco when he reassured her that they were somewhat friends.

Hermione glanced at the empty seat, where Pansy usually sat, her friends didn't seem to raise questions yet but she was sure they'll come looking around.

To Hermione's relief, and later Pansy's she was sure, nobody talked about her and where she was or what happened to her. She looked at teachers table, McGonagall was missing, a few other teachers talking but they weren't alarmed also. That confused Hermione.

Maybe McGonagall was already talking with Pansy ?

Her thoughts were interrupted by loud laughter and chatting in the middle of the table where Harry and Ron sat. They joked around, their laugh obnoxiously ringing through the space. Brown was leeching herself on Ron's arm while Ginny seemed to pretend like she was not mad, chatting away with Patil twins and Luna nearby.

The plan worked then.

Hermione sat her cup down with a little too much force and her face twisted into a sneer, mirroring Draco completely. Irritation was evident. If anyone looked at her reaction right now, they would probably feel uneasy at how familiar was the look she possessed.

Ron just laughed with his mouth open but Hermione noticed how Harry seemed out of place, pretending to be fine, letting out a small chuckle here and there. But she knew that wasn't the case, he wasn't fine and his red, exhausted eyes confirmed it. No one noticed it of course. Even way back when they were younger, only Hermione could tell that something was off with her friend. As well as Ginny.

Maybe another fight, concerning his dreams, Hermione pondered.

Another thing she noticed was how often Harry was looking at the Slytherin's table, particularly at Draco. That caught her interest because Draco seemed to notice it too and when he looked back at Hermione, she lifted her perfect eyebrow in question. He just winked at her in return, small smirk on his face visible. She did write a mental note to ask Draco what happened yesterday and why he was late. Clearly something happened between those two.

After breakfast Hermione walked towards the hospital wing, two Slytherins behind her making students part ways, this way it was easier and faster for them to get there.  sometimes fear was a good thing. Neville was already at the door, waiting for them, previously pacing back and forth. He was here since early morning, checking up on her condition.

He would tell you that he felt somewhat responsible for the girl, even if she never talked to him before. Neville greeted them, smiling slightly but the bags under his eyes said everything about how he felt and what night he had.  He didn't have such nightmares since the battle.

After awhile they entered. Only a few students occupied the beds, one with a broken leg, another girl puking her guts out, making Blaise grimace and look away. Neville walked first, Hermione trailing behind him, while both Slytherins followed at the end. Blaise more in front since he did know Pansy before Hogwarts, he did feel remorse and sad for a girl.

They walked in deeper, near the corner of the room. Parkinson's bed was covered by a curtain, shielding her away from other eyes and talks. A nurse came and pulled the curtains apart for them to come in then casted a silencing charm, so they could talk privately. She did inform them that they should be careful and not try to rise any commotion since Pansy was not in such good state mentally and physically.

Well obviously, Draco thought glaring at the nurse but calmed down when Hermione pulled on his sleeve, a warning in her eyes.

When they entered Pansy looked at them, her face was healed now but her eyes showed how truly broken and hurt she was. Bags under them darker than Neville's. She was slightly taken aback, when she saw who came. Feeling ashamed that they saw her in such state.

Neville went to the other side giving more space for the other three. Hermione came forward, expecting Pansy to curse at her and send her away. Let's be honest , both girls barley knew each other, never liked one another but this seemed like an unfortunately good start and when no curse was sent her way, Hermione felt relieved. She was surprised when Pansy offered a small smile and patted on her bed, an invitation for Hermione to sit down.

They talked for a while, Pansy not so much but Blaise expressed how sorry he was and Neville came closer now, Pansy surprisingly letting him near her more than Blaise. The male presence made her feel crowed, a feeling she never experienced before, especially when there were three of them.

"I-I'm sorry, Pansy, I'm really sorry I couldn't come sooner." Hermione broke the silence. She was even more surprised when Pansy moved to take her hand, which laid on Hermione's lap.

"Not your fault." Pansy rasped out, her voice horse and almost inaudible. She screamed it all out, during the night and, Hermione only guessed, during the attack.

Draco stepped out and went to find a nurse, a few things still unclear to him and he wasn't such an emotional person.

"I just want to thank you, Hermione," Pansy's voice got a little better the more she talked and drank water. "And you, Neville. If it wasn't for you, I would've died." She shook her head, a tear running down her cheek.

"Id' hate to go that way. " She whispered the last part.

"I will make sure that they catch whoever did that to you, Pansy, I promise." Neville said, his eyes locking with Pansy's and she smiled at him.

Pansy looked nervously at Hermione and then at Blaise. She opened her mouth to speak but her voice got stuck in her throat as more tears rolled down her cheeks. She gripped Hermione's hand who in return griped back, encouraging her. Pansy knew exactly who did it since no memories were wiped away. Draco would probably comment that an obvious idiot would make such mistake. As she got ready to speak again, Draco stepped back in.

Since both her parents were missing, presumed dead after the war, the girl didn't have any relatives left. So they didn't have anyone to inform about her condition. Draco felt something similar to pity.

"They will question you later, when the Aurors arrive." Draco sneered, not pleased. "Apparently an attack in school means jack-shit, even if it has almost resulted in death. " He rolled his eyes and crossed his hands on his chest while Blaise murmured in Italian, probably some curse words. Neville seemed torn and confused.

"What the hell, what about McGonagall ?" Neville asked, anger lacing his voice. "Doesn't this concern her ?"

"She's out today, some bullshit business she was needed for. I saw her leave this morning." Blaise said looking through the window now.

That explains why she wasn't at the table, Hermione thought. She would lie if she said that she wasn't disappointed or surprised.

Pansy looked down at her lap, trying to not to have a breakdown. She didn't know whether because of how the school treated her situation or at how angry these people she didn't have much history with felt about it. About something that didn't concern them but they cared anyway. Pansy felt like she mattered to someone. Truly. 

"They won't do anything even if I tell them w-who did it." She said, making everyone look at her. "I-I can't-" She let go of Hermione's hand and buried her face, crying out.

Hermione sat closer now, weirdly enough silent throughout this whole thing. Maybe because she felt different then the boys. Maybe because she knew exactly why Pansy was breaking down in front of them, not telling a single soul about the monster and who he was. Hermione already knew and was holding everything back to not go after him.

"Pansy, look at me." She pulled Pansy's hands away from her face and saw a reflection of herself, she saw how she looked right after Ron's attack. Then she made a final decision which took a lot but was necessary.

"I know how much you want to crawl out of your skin so you couldn't feel the pain anymore, so that you couldn't feel his breath or touch on you ever again. " Pansy was sobbing but her eyes were locked with Hermione's, now understating what happened to her, why she was reacting differently than others would. "I know what you're going through. He didn't rape me but he tried and didn't succeed only because of dumb luck." Hermione gritted her teeth painfully at the memory but now that's all it was. A memory.

"And I won't lie to you, it won't get easier right away. I'm still suffering because of him but that doesn't mean that you won't ever be alright because he doesn't have that power you. Do you hear me ?" Pansy could only nod slightly.

"He doesn't have the right to have that power over you. And I will make sure he'll suffer enough to wish he didn't even lay his hands on you. I will be here as much as you'll need me to. But I need to know who." Hermione herself had tears in her eyes but was holding them back with all she had because she owned it to Pansy. She owned it to herself.

Pansy never in her life thought that she would sit and cry with Hermione Granger, who she secretly admired but hated when they were younger. While sitting there on her hospital bed, with her in front, Pansy Parkinson decided that if she had to, she would protect this woman with all she had. Because even though they were from two different sides, the girl opened up to her, saved her and now was willing to take revenge for her. She trusted Hermione and these boys , who were willing to help her, more than anyone right this moment.

Pansy nodded. Deciding that she won't suffer anymore than she is now. She won't let them win. Not again.

"The person who r-raped - " She took a deep breath, still hearing his panting in her ear, still feeling his breath on her skin, crawling and bruising her.

"The person who raped me was Ron Weasley." She wiped her tears and looked down but not in shame. "But the person who let him do it was Harry Potter. " Pansy cried out.

The silence was filled with tension and silent cries from the girl in the bed. No one said a single word. Neville and Blaise seemed to try and swallow the anger and shock from learning the new information but their faces clearly showed how they felt. And it was clearly more than anger, anyone could tell that.

Draco stood still and cold like ice, his face, as usual, not betraying him but inside ? Oh inside there was a storm. But his feelings weren't the reason he felt like he could break someone's skull open right now.

No, he was feeling that way because of what Hermione felt at that moment. He felt every dark little thought that she could come up with, the wrath seeping into his veins matching hers, the thirst for revenge getting bigger and stronger.

Draco looked at her, looked at her face, her pretty face and saw pure rage. Saw how angry she was and he must admit that he hasn't seen anything more beautiful in his entire life.

He stood still, not moving but observing Hermione's every move and everyone seemed to hold their breath when she moved from her spot. She took a few deep breaths, trying to calm down and sat closer to Pansy. The girl buried her face into her hands, hiding but stopped once she felt warms wrapping around her. Embracing her and giving her comfort for the first time in Pansy's life. She didn't remember when was the last time someone touched her so gently and made her feel protected.

"Pansy, I swear to you, I will make them pay for everything they did to you okay ?" She heard Hermione whisper in her ear and she knew from the coldness and calmness of it, that she wasn't joking.

"I promise, they will hurt and feel pain." Chills ran up Pansy's spine, thinking about how deadly Hermione sounded. Pansy nodded, calming down for a bit, enjoying the reassurance.

They stayed like that for a while, Pansy relaxing more and hugging Hermione back. Neville seemed like he wanted to yell, curse but his head was in his hands. He felt completely broken.

Blaise and Draco stayed silent, not uttering any words. The nurse came in just after both girls separated. She informed that Pansy had to rest before speaking with the Aurors and exited again, clearly trusting the students inside to leave by themselves. 

Hermione wiped a tear rolling down Pansy's cheek and still with calm but sharp voice asked .

"Can you trust me ? " She looked deep in Pansy's eyes, searching for trust in them when the girl in front nodded her head. Both girls never imagined that they would trust each other but fate was full of surprises.

"Then don't tell them who did it, okay ? Act like you don't remember for a while but keep them on a bait. Mention us and how you survived." Hermione said and Pansy knew that this was thought through before her attack. Hermione had a plan and now she was a part of it. She was part of the revenge now.

"Say that you remember fragments, pieces but you'll need time. Have a panic attack if needed." To anyone those words would sound harsh and they were. Hermione couldn't deny it but that was necessary for their plan to work. They can't know.

Not yet.

Pansy agreed and when the curtains opened again, an annoyed look on the nurse's face clearly showed that she won't leave, Hermione moved to stand up and smiled a genuine smile. Draco took her arm and laced their fingers together, secretly trying to hold back from punching the nurse since she annoyed him and they headed towards the exit. And the nurse knew what he wanted to do too, because the shiver that went through her body when Draco glared at her made her shrink a little.

They exited first and were followed by Blaise who winked at Pansy, making her smile a small smile, feeling the support even from him. Neville was last, his smile was the warmest and gentlest. He waved his hand a little, making her return the gesture.

When Pansy was left alone, she took a moment to gather herself. Suddenly feeling tired she laid back, her eyes focusing on the ceiling, thinking about how her life turned out to be.

She wondered if she deserved what she got after everything she's done in her lifetime. She thought about how much she trusted the girl she despised not long ago and how now, without a heartbeat, she would give her life to Hermione. It was an unusual feeling, Pansy knew, even a little scary how completely normal it felt.

 Pansy fell asleep and didn't dream any nightmares for a while.

 

Chapter Text


X. PRAECEPTUM

'One should rather die than be betrayed. There is no deceit in death. It delivers precisely what it has promised. Betrayal, though ... betrayal is the willful slaughter of hope.'

 

Hermione looked down at one of the schools' courtyards where she saw some students pass by, hurrying to escape the cold weather and get inside as soon as possible, seeking warmth and protection. Some were talking between themselves, walking slowly, unaffected by the cold or unbothered to hurry like others.

The first snow fell during the night, making everything around them white and frozen, a shining blanket of white on the ground, snow crunching under each step. The trees looked withered, lifeless, not a single proof of life around them.

A little fountain stood in the middle of the courtyard. The temperature got so low during the night that even the water stream froze in its place, looking magical, like they usually showed in muggle movies Hermione once saw.

She observed everyone from the tower, where almost everything was laid out on her palm but close enough to recognize familiar faces passing by and letting her clearly see their expressions. Hermione's icy stare focused on three students who stood near the fountain, hard to mistake who they were since two of them had familiar flaming red hair.

Hermione knew both of her former friends were getting a lecture from Ginny since loud talking- yelling could be heard only from her. Judging from how Ron had his hands folded behind his back, shoulders tense, he wasn't happy as usual about having to listen to his sister. While Harry couldn't do anything more than look tired and embarrassed, his eyes searching for anything else but not Ginny's murderous glare.

Knowing what happened just a few days ago, what they both did, made Hermione scowl at them even though they didn't know she stood above them, watching. Her hands itched to pull out her wand and kill them right there, right now. But the rational side of her brain just tried to calm down, knowing that she'd be doing a favor for them, even without them knowing it.

Draco stood further back, not visible for anyone in the shadows, studying her further. Catching every little twitch of her nose, every hitch of her breathing. Admiring how the wind caressed her curls, exposing her face and neck. She wasn't shivering though, not when she had all this hate to burn her, dramatic isn't ?

He knew what, or who, she was watching right now, just by the look on her face.

Draco came closer slowly and stood beside her, their hands touching. Her fingers instantly held the tips of his cold ones. The contact made his skin heat up, just because she touched him, making him feel something twitch where his heart was supposed to be. This girl didn't know what power she had, what she could do to him, to everyone.

Draco looked down too, his head tilted sideways as he judged the scene before him. It was a typical sight in front of him. Even up here, he could hear the anger in youngest Weasley's voice. He scowled at how scratchy it sounded in the winter air.

"Do you think she knows ?" Hermione asked, her expression mirroring his.

"No." Draco already knew why. "I had an counter with them that night. They were both pissed out of their own heads. That's why I was late." They didn't take their eyes off of their targets.

"So they  don't remember it themselves." Her eyes narrowed. She wondered if it was good or bad for them. Harry would be eating himself alive right now, if he remembered letting Ron do that.

"I didn't find anything about the bond in the restricted section. McGonagall moved almost half of the books." She took a moment to look at him and how his white hair almost matched the snow and his grey eyes - the cold ice below.

He turned to look at her too, a know-it-all expression that was usually possessed by her was now gracing his face instead.

"And what did I tell you, Granger ?" He asked, really not expecting an answer, humor hidden in his voice. She rolled her eyes at him and tuned look back down again.
He was watching her again, mesmerized by her natural beauty. He sounded like a lovesick puppy, which made him feel weird but not that bad, as he imagined.

"We'll check The Manor's library when the weekend comes. We probably have something in there that wasn't destroyed." He said after a few moments. Ignoring the slight excitement in her eyes about visiting one of the largest and oldest libraries in the magical world. Honestly.

"How's Luna doing ? Did you succeed ?" Hermione asked again, still watching the show in front. Ron was yelling now too, Ginny of course didn't back down while Harry had his head in his hands. Draco scoffed at the scene or maybe at the question.

"Of course. She's fine." He straightened up, fixing his black jacket. Neither of them were cold, despite the harsh wind. "Blaise said that it will take a little more of convincing but Potter's desperateness is making it much easier to her, everything will be ready before the ball." He smirked at how well their plan was coming along.

"Perfect. I hope she's not bullied by them, Merlin knows they can be foul people." She hoped that they just don't notice her half of the time while she sits near Harry and his fans. Like they didn't notice when she hung out with Hermione and Neville. That's why she was useful right now, for this kind of thing.

"So we'll spend weekend at your place ?" She glanced at him, small smile on her face, someone could mistake it as a shy one but they couldn't be more wrong. She already knew the answer anyway.

He turned to look at her again, eyes narrowing dangerously. "We will. Why ?" He asked with a signature smirk on his face. "Scared, Granger ?"

"Not at all." She shook her head lightly, making him come closer. She was still looking down but her mind was somewhere else right now.

Draco went behind her, pressing his front against her back, pushing her even more closer to the railing. His hand came to rest on both her sides, he was trapping her in her place it seemed. Hermione shivered when she felt his lips come dangerously close to her ear.

"You should be." He smirked, feeling her press back against him but before he could torment her more, they got interrupted by a loud yell bellow them.

Draco looked over Hermione's shoulder, their height difference made it easy for him to see everything clearly bellow even standing behind her. He gritted his teeth in irritation, his hands gripping the railing harder, even his knuckles turned painfully white. Her hand covered his right one and he calmed a little, still annoyed.

Ron's yells were loud enough to startle the crows resting not far from them on the bench, sending them to fly up into the sky, far from the loud noise. Apparently, in return, they scared the trio and their gazes followed the birds flying up, coincidently passing where Hermione and Draco stood.

Their eyes met and Hermione's face twisted into sweet-fake smile, clearly patronizing her friends. Hermione lifted her hand and wiggled her fingers, a wave at them. Harry looked startled, his hand coming up to rub his neck as if he felt death herself behind him, he shivered at the sensation.

What caught Hermione's attention was the same fear she saw in all their eyes, how they reacted when they saw them, standing above them. As if they could feel the growing power they both had. Ginny tried to hide it but didn't succeed that much, then she pointed a finger at Hermione, said something to Harry lowly and left, stomping angrily away.

Harry followed, still looking back at her and Draco, as if he was uncertain if it was them he was seeing so close together. He still didn't believe it was possible. Harry slowed down though when he saw that Ron didn't move from his spot.

Weasley on the other hand had the nerve to stare, his face clearly showing anger, his fists clenched on his sides. Draco knew already what exact buttons to push and pressed his face closer to Hermione, his lips grazing her cheek softly, agonizingly slowly. Surprisingly, she played along.

Hermione moved her face a little to the side, making it easier for him to touch the corner of her mouth with his lips, while they still looked at Ron below. Draco's lips formed onto even more evil grin as he did so, knowing what it did to Weasley.

As a result Ron almost moved to climb up to them, cursing and yelling loudly, attracting attention from some people walking by.  Harry caught his forearm harshly, moving him back and yelling to him in return, failing at calming him down.  It caused enough sound for a Professor to come and look at what was happening outside.

He rushed towards the boys, demanding an explanation only to get yelled in return by Weasley. That caused few gasps around them where small amount of people were watching, how dare he to raise his voice and yell such things at professor nothing less.

Professor's eyes widened and he instantly gave two boys detention, ignoring how Ron tried to explain, gesturing towards where Draco and Hermione stood. Harry gave up completely and practically ran from there, overwhelmed and embarrassed more. Ron followed to with a loud growl, feeling jealousy eating him alive, crawling under his skin.

Before coming back inside, the professor looked up at the tower, looking to see what the boy was yelling about only to find an empty spot. He shook his head, already thinking of what he will write to the Headmistress. The boys were completely mental.

They walked down the spiral steps, Draco trailing behind her, a smug expression still on his face. He imagined how Weasley was battling with his jealousy right now, and successfully loosing. Draco had something that Ron would never lay his hands on again. His beautiful girl, walking in front with such glee, it filled him with pride and admiration.

Hermione's smile was wide and bright, clearly she was satisfied with their impromptu act. Karma was truly on their side, she thought, not even a bitch as they liked to name her. And the fear in Harry's eyes is what she needed to keep her going. She should corner Ginny somewhere, to find out what was her little problem with Hermione but the bint was avoiding her a flu.

The spiral steps were wide enough for them to walk side by side but Draco didn't step beside her for some reason. Hermione stopped and turned around, only to be pressed against the wall harshly, strong hands gripping her hips. She gasped at the contact, her eyes closed for a few seconds form the sudden movement and when she opened them again his eyes were piercing hers.

Draco pressed her against the wall with his body, lowering his head down to hers so their lips were millimeters apart. His leg parted hers, making him press himself even closer, she shivered at the feeling, her breath mixing with hers, everything, in fact, in his life was mixing with her it seemed.

His mind, his thoughts, his heart.

Draco's right hand rested above her, open palm against the cold wall, while his left one sneaked around her waist, trapping her against him. Hermione looked up at him, biting her lip to stop herself from smiling and also from making any embarrassing noises.

Their eyes locked and everything stopped in time, even little specks of dust seemed to slow down around. There was just the two of them right now. The scene was intimate and heavy, if anyone would walk on the right now they would probably be in shock and red  from head to toe.

Slowly Draco pressed his lips against hers, letting her warm hands to cover his cheeks. She kissed back, matching his passion and need. They kissed like they were apart for centuries, the need to be closer than humanly possible was clear. His hand lowered down to the back of her neck, holding it firmly but obviously not to hurt her. Hermione moaned into the kiss, making him even more crazier at how responsive she was. How the sound was the most beautiful thing he's ever heard throughout his years.

Draco's hand tangled into her hair, curls wrapping around his slim finger and he remembered how many times he thought about this, how many times he imagined her in his arms, her lips somewhere on him but the reality was even more breathtaking than his wicked thoughts could muster at night.

She felt like she was high, she felt dizzy because of his touch and it made her smile into their kiss. Even when Draco kissed her down there that night, she hasn't felt this rush of electricity. This was something else, something more powerful and darker almost.

She absolutely loved it.

They broke the kiss when oxygen ran out on both ends, filing the empty staircase with their heavy breathing and small laughs coming from her. She traced his lips with the tip of her finger in wonder, how immortal he looked in this lightening.

Draco kissed them too, the tips of her fingers, which were near his mouth, moving his head to bite the spot on her neck, just below her ear. It made her moan once again, pinning herself against him harder and he groaned into her skin.

"Stop, before I completely lose it." He warned her, his voice low and dangerous.

Hermione smirked but flattered and took in a shuddered breath when his hand traveled to grip her tight and simultaneously biting her again on the spot. After she giggled again, closing her eyes and he pulled back, questioning her mirth.

"Who would've thought." She opened her eyes to look at him once more, while caressing his cheeks softly. "That I would stand here, in school, with Draco Malfoy, snogging." She giggled again.

"Past Hermione would curse someone who would've told her that." Draco smiled with her too, couldn't help himself.

They stood there for a while, just caressing each other and kissing. He stepped away from her, although not willingly, when it was time to return to class. Draco protested of course but she dragged him away, trying so hard not to give in into his sweet-talk. And how sweet it actually was.

~

Once again they had connected class with Slytherins and Gryffindors, meaning that Draco and Hermione were probably awaiting a scene from the two Gryffindors. Their show earlier couldn't be more well timed. They walked in the classroom, some students were already sitting in their seats, some just walking in like both of them, getting ready.

Blaise saw them walk in, smirking at their, more Hermione's, appearance. His hands in his pocket and a lazy walk towards them, got Hermione narrowing her eyes at Blaise. Clearly, he had something to say to them. She didn't like it. At all.

In the corner of her eye she saw Ron and Harry watching them but then turning around once they felt Ginny glaring at the back of their heads. So no show then, Hermione was surprised, disappointed even.

 "Nice hair, Hermione, were you aggressively dueling someone out there ?" Blaise joked, trying to contain his smile but failing.

Draco smirked at that and didn't wince when Hermione hit him on his forearm, showing her irritation once she understood what Blaise was talking about. Her cheeks were red, and not only from embarrassment, hands frantically trying to smooth out any evidence of someone messing with it. Draco tugged her closer, his hand gripping the sleeve of her robe, wanting her closer.

"You're an arse for not telling me, Malfoy." Hermione looked at him pointedly, still flustered since people around them could hear everything crystal clear. Some understood exactly what they were talking about but didn't dare to snicker or comment. "But then again, you never were nice."

Draco leaned in closer so he could whisper into her ear.

"Don't worry,  love, those blood-red marks on your neck are not so obvious." Her eyes widened and Draco winked at her, making her hand fly up to cover her neck.

"Unbelievable." She muttered silently, biting her lip, getting it even redder now.

Blaise snickered at the scene, for a moment realizing at how at ease Draco looked now, how controlled he seemed. Some time ago even he feared to say anything to Malfoy, fearing for his life around him and now...

It made Blaise fear at what would happen if Hermione disappeared.

"Did Longbottom already ditch you, Zabini ?" Draco asked, his question directed at Blaise who shook his head.

"Were you mean to him ? Zabini, I swear-" Hermione pointed at him,  her stern voice ready to scold him like his mother did when he was just a child.

"He's hanging out with Pansy all morning, seemed to skip all classes so far." Blaise's tone hid something under it, like he knew something that Hermione had no clue about, yet like it was so obvious. And before Hermione could question it, they had to separate since the professor already came in and demanded attention from them.

Draco though, while walking towards their seat, didn't miss how Potter tensed up again and how his breathing seemed uneven. He observed how Ron looked away, hiding his face form everyone and how his hands clenched. Draco smirked evilly. So they do remember their talk but not what they did ?

They were already seated at their desk, Hermione getting ready and Draco only watched how Weasley, not so subtly, turned his head over his shoulder and stared at them, his eyes burned with anger but more important raw jealousy.

Since Hermione and Draco were seated in the middle, far back into the classroom, Draco could see everything and everyone. He locked eyes with the redhead, a malicious expression on his face made Ron gulp but he would rather die than admit that Malfoy looked menacing and scary. Like Draco had all control and Ron was just another part of his game.

Ron had to control himself and not make another scene, since for a while now his relationship with Harry seemed to be rocky. That Hermione fucked everything up. He couldn't afford loosing Harry's support now, not when he messed up so many times. He's useful to him especially now when Ron is getting the deals for a profession as Quidditch player.

But it seemed like Harry's nerves have been killing him even more lately, he jumped at every sound and the only thing that he seemed to think about was Hermione, he was paranoid. It seemed like their life only revolved around her, Ron remembered his sisters words from this morning. And what a fucked up morning it was.

He remembers watching them from below. But they were watching down on them like they were peasants worth nothing but a pity look.

Deep down Ron Weasley knew what he caused, what curse he dawned upon himself and others by lying and humiliating Hermione in front of the whole school, in front of her only friends and what's left of her family. But he won't admit that. Never.

Plus he knew that Hermione wouldn't do anything to her friends, well ex-friends but still. She still had a soft spot for them, for him. 'Mione just needed to get over herself and stop being a prissy bitch, Ron decided.

That didn't stop him from glaring at them though, his eyes focusing more on them than on his work, making the professor give him a few warnings. He stopped ogling less when Harry nudged him harshly and he turned around finally. 

~

Hermione never liked those couples who fooled around during serious moments, for example, like now in the classroom, while others were busy learning. For others, Hermione and Draco were that couple now.

Draco seemed to pay attention to her only, ignoring everything and anyone else. His focus was on her alone, admiring her while she took her notes. His gaze was so intense and directed only at Hermione even Daphne Greengrass, sitting near them, felt embarrassed for just glancing at them, like she was the one at fault for interrupting .

Draco's hand slipped on Hermione's knee when she refused to look at him, her cheeks colored  red but she continues to ignore him. She tensed up and her eyes widened when she felt his palm pressing against her, travelling up her thigh, leaving her skin tingling where he touched. Hermione pressed her both legs together and bit her lip, then looked at him, her expression of utter panic making him laugh silently.

"Stop." She whispered harshly to him, leaning closer so no one could hear if they tried.

Draco just had the nerve to wink at her, his hand still pressed on both sides by her legs. An amazing feeling really, he would say. He also leaned in, their faces inches apart, and looked directly into her eyes.

They both seemed to forget where they were completely, of course no one dared to shush them or scold them. Whispers went around the school of what Malfoy did to that boy for saying something. Needless to say,  everyone felt quite afraid of getting their arses handed to them afterwards.

"Why ? Nervous ?" He smirked at her look of disbelief. His words familiar.

Hermione's face was still red and her mouth now slightly open at his words. So he decided to continue their earlier chat from the tower.

"Draco Malfoy, I will shove this wand so far up-" Her whisper was dangerously low but Draco didn't look scared even for a second, only looked at her lips, which were dangerously close to his.

She completely lost her sentence, her eyes looked downward also, noting how slowly he wetted his lips. If Hermione could see them right now form others perspective and how they were behaving she would scold herself quite harshly.

"Prove me wrong, Granger, or are you too scared to disrupt the lesson ?" Draco fake pouted, exactly knowing that this would irk her more. "Little miss goody-shoes right ?"

Hermione looked scandalously at him, her eye narrowing down. How dare-

Fine then.

She fixed her posture, leaned away from him, making him furrow his eyebrows. Hermione looked away from him, towards the board, focusing on writing down everything and opened her legs, relaxing in her seat. His hand was freed, as if access was granted to him.

Draco's mouth was slightly agape when he looked at her, not expecting this at all. Before anyone could notice, he also fixed himself and deciding that she was just playing, so will he.

Draco made his choice to test the limits of her game. Surely she wouldn't let him to go that far in class. He heard her breathing hitch when he was so close, so dangerously close-

"Get your hand away from her you ferr-"

"Mr. Weasley come with me Right. This. Moment !"

A sudden yell, well yells, broke though the classroom, making some people jump. They glared at Ron who was standing, his face covered in his red, messy hair, matching his red, angry face. His glare was fixed on Draco, who sat comfortably and looked right back, a mocking smirk on gracing his face but otherwise he looked almost interested in the scene playing out before him.

But then most students noticed Minerva McGonagall, standing near the door, an opened letter in her hand but a much more furious look on her wrinkled face. She looked right at Weasley and when he finally noticed the person who interrupted his grand outburst - his face paled drastically.

Still looking, or glaring at him more, the headmistress with deadly calm tone spoke.

"I'm terribly sorry, Professor, for bragging in like that but after receiving this letter by our colleague I couldn't wait. " She put up the letter higher. "I will need to take Mr. Weasley to my office right this minute."

"But, Professor,-"

Ron tried.

"Now !"

Ron failed.

No one dared to say anything , the silence was murderous. Ron packed his stuff into his bag and moved to follow McGonagall, his heart racing and the embarrassment fell heavy on his shoulders. He felt like his mother just caught him eating cookies before dinner. Ridiculous. He wasn't five years old, so what the fuck.

'Maybe the whore opened her mouth- or the other-' His thoughts got interrupted when he passed their table. When Ron passed her. And he swallowed hard when he saw Hermione's vile smirk, her strong glare piercing him painfully, full of hatred it seemed.
And then he was out of the classroom but the fear already planted itself inside his mind.

~

After all her classes passed, Hermione convinced Draco and Blaise to find out what happened to Ron, since the whole school already knew what occurred during their lesson. While they took care of that, she decided to visit Pansy and let Neville to get something to eat, since the boy was missing all day and surely didn't have time to eat.

Hermione wondered what was going on between these two. Since the attack Neville never let Pansy be alone, always protecting her but more importantly taking care of her. They did look cute together, she must admit. Smiling to herself, she silently wished for them to find their happiness. Or in other words she will make sure they will.

Hermione entered carefully, not making too much noise, since other student were resting, some sleeping since it was already dark outside. She saw them, well Neville, sitting near Pansy's bed, leaning close his hand clasped around the girl's. Pansy was smiling, just barely noticeable but it was there and to Neville it seemed like the most wonderful thing.

Hermione cleared her throat, making both of them pull apart, well again mostly Neville, since Pansy was laying on her bed. His face and neck red, clearly not expecting someone to show up.

"Sorry for interrupting this sweet moment between you two." Hermione smiled, a genuine and sweet smile that Pansy never thought would be directed at her. "Neville, go freshen up and eat something, I'll be here, don't worry." She put up her hand, stopping his protest that was already forming and coming out of his parted lips.

Hermione lifted her eyebrow at him and Pansy giggled at how defeated Neville looked. She put her hand on his again, making him glance at her.

"Go, I'll be fine. We will chat, girl talk, you know ?" She reassured him, smiling and he nodded.

"I'll go find the guys, be right back." He passed Hermione and patted her shoulder in a greeting way.

"Eat !" Hermione rolled her eyes and sat on Pansy's bed.

"Girl talk huh ?" She asked, a joking tone clear. Pansy let out a breath and both of them laughed quietly. "Never in million years I thought I will have girl talk with Pansy Parkinson, oh Merlin, today is a realization day isn't ?"

"I mean you are dating Draco Malfoy, you tell me." They laughed again, making someone shush them.

They giggled like old friends, it was quite an interesting sight to see. When they sobered up, after a few more jokes of course Hermione broke the comfortable silence. "When you'll be out ?"

"Tomorrow morning. But I get to stay in dorms for a whole day. " Pansy grimaced, nervously twisting the sheets.  "Then I'll have to roam the same halls with both of them." She bit her trembling lip to stop herself from crying.

"If you think that they will touch you or even come near you, you're wrong,  I will personally execute them." Hermione covered Pansy's hand with hers.

"Plus, I took care of your seating arrangements, they won't be sitting near you in any classes and you'll have at least one person walking with you everywhere. I already made everyone's timetables. " Hermione shrugged. The girl didn't have anything to do one night while Draco massaged her aching feet.

"Thank you, really." Pansy let out a breath, her nervous shaking stopped but she still felt horrible.

~

Draco watched Ron Weasley leave the boy's bathroom, heading down the spacious hall. His steps large, boots connecting with the ground, the sound echoing loudly. Clearly he hurried somewhere and judging by how he's gripping his wand tightly in his hand, Weasley was pissed as well.

That got Draco's attention.

Malfoy decided to follow the red-headed idiot, knowing that Blaise will take care of finding about certain gossip flying around this forsaken school and also find the blonde loony girl.

Draco passed down the halls, silently following Weasley but staying a good distance away, unnoticed in shadows. He was used to following a specific person silently anyways, only this time he despised his target even more than Scar-head.

Only Merlin knows what Draco thought about doing to Weasley, how he would make him paralyzed with pain and fear. He would scream until his vocal cords would be torn, possible or no, Draco would make sure it'll happen. Someday.

He halted in his steps when he saw Weasley heading up some stairs, the entrance was further from the hall making it harder to notice it if you didn't look for it. Carefully Draco stepped closer, and followed behind Ron's shadow, his steps not making any sound.

After a few seconds Draco was at the top but hiding behind the stone wall. He recognized the annoying and all-too-well recognizable voices of two siblings. Without any noise, he walked further into the space, using their backs turned to him and hid behind the large pillar, leaning against it and listening quietly.

Ginny couldn't even properly turn around when her back was pushed against the cold wall and she was being strangled, her breathing was completely cut off. She gasped for air, her face turning angry shade of red. Her hands came to cover Ron's on her neck, trying to desperately free herself.

"Did you tell her !" Ron yelled in her face, his eyes were rage filled and burning, his posture shaking.

Ginny only spluttered some noises and that made the older Weasley really unhappy because he pulled her away and then smashed her again against the wall, creating a nasty sound. "I asked, did you tell her, Ginny ?"

Ginny's face was now horrible shade of purple and once her grasp loosened on his hands Ron stepped back quickly, his deep breathing now matching hers. She slumped against the floor, her hands flying up to cover her neck, deep, harsh breaths coming out of her and her whole body shook with her voice.

"N-No-o." Her voice was raspier than usual and she coward away from him into the corner. Her legs were pulled up against her chest. Ginny looked small and fragile like that.

He still stood there his wand still in his holster but his hand visibly twitching to take it. "Well someone did, they got an anonymous letter stating that I assaulted some stupid bint." Ron looked at her and she shuddered at how menacing his eyes were, this was not her brother. "If I find out that you told someone, or more specifically if you told her I will-"

"Kill me ?" She finished for him, her voice not recovering but she stood up now leaning against the wall for support. "Haven't I heard it before." She scoffed and it made her throat hurt even worse.

"Filthy little- "He came closer but she stepped further into the corner and lifted up her hand, a wand tightly grasped in her shaking hand.

A small light went off and Ron was blasted a few meters away, his body contacting the hard floor and his grunts filling the space. He groaned from pain, gripping his ribs, familiar pain surrounding him. Those were defiantly cracked.

"Don't come closer, Ronald, or it will be I who will kill you. Brother or not." She said and moved towards the door, ignoring his silent cries of pain. Her face hard and neck already bruising.

Draco watched the whole scene silently. He then watched how, finally, that pathetic scum stood up and with a limp left the room, his hand connecting with the wall before exiting, producing yet another groan out of pain.

Malfoy followed them but with a different mood. His face was graced with an award-winning smirk, because now he finally started to connect the dots. This game of theirs got a little more interesting indeed.

Draco's smirk dropped when his heart felt cold once again, when the warmth he was starting to get used to suddenly disappeared. He let out a shaky breath, his teeth gritting when he thought that something might have happened to her. Then he started to walk again, fast, his hand clutching the spot where his heart was and a low, dangerous growl escaping his lips.

He felt empty again.

~

Hermione was  still talking with Pansy when the evening fell and it was time for them to head back.

Luna, Blaise and Neville joined both girls not long ago. They joked around, still getting used to each other and Luna's unclear but beautiful thoughts. Yet Hermione's mind always wondered off,  always wondering when in the world her personal Devil had gone off.

"Haven't seen him since we parted ways, he was with me on second and then he was gone the other." Blaise said when Hermione asked him.

That got Hermione even more worried, horrible scenarios playing in her head. She left them first, promising to stop by tomorrow to help Pansy and the hurried out, her hair flying everywhere in her rush.

The group looked at the now closed doors, Neville silently laughing at how unusual it was to see Hermione worrying about Malfoy. Then Pansy slapped him on his shoulder and he said sorry almost immediately. They also left shortly, leaving Pansy to rest.

When Blaise walked Luna back, their hands clasped together loosely, in case anyone walks by, Luna spoke about all sorts of things making Blaise smile and nod along, also expressing his opinions.

"I sometimes see their bond, it's getting stronger each day." Her soft voice pulled him out of his own thoughts about some creature that she was talking few seconds ago. He halted, stopping her also.

"Wait- You know about the bond ?" He asked, is eyebrows were furrowed. Luna laughed lightly, pulling him to walk again.

"Of course, silly, it's quite hard not to. " Sighing dreamily she laid her head on his shoulder.

"How ?" Blaise's eyes held wonder and he glanced at her.

"How do I see it ?" Luna's dreamy, light voice made him shiver sometimes.

"Yeah." She shrugged, not knowing exactly how to explain it."Usually it's not visible and I have to squint really hard to see it but I feel it. Don't you ? " He wanted to say no but then stopped.

He does fell it, but rarely. And even when he felt the aura changing around them, it usually was gone by the time Blaise figured what it was in the first place. It almost felt weak. Blaise looked lost, deep in his thoughts and before he knew it they stopped, only now, thanks to her.

Both of them stood further away from the Ravenclaw's entrance. Aware of other students walking.

"It makes me quite fearful of what happens if one will be taken away." Luna said, voicing Blaise's long developed but silent fear. "I fear that if that happens, all of us will pay a huge price, more than we did with Voldemort."  Blaise was quite surprised at her bold usage of the well-known name.

"Why's that ?" He knew the answers even before she responded, her hand tightening in his hold.

"Because Voldemort had no one, he was pushed forward by his foolish need of power and not by purest of loves existing in this world. Imagine, Blaise, what would happen if we take Hermione away." He shuddered at the thought, knowing what it could lead to.

"Draco will burn the world and us with it." Her eyes looked sad but happy at the same time and he was mesmerized by them despite the truth coming from her mouth.

"And with time I understood that it would be exactly the same vice versa. Hermione will burn us too if anything happens to Draco."

"There's no going back now."

~

Hermione rushed down the halls, her heart was beating fast. She didn't know why but she felt worried. Like something was wrong or something horrible will happen not to her but to him. She was half jogging, half fast walking, almost knocking down some poor girl who got in Hermione's way.

Hermione rounded the corner, her mind still focused on finding Draco. She stopped when her head connected with something hard.

She looked up, hear eyes angry and a scowl on her face, clearly unpleased that something was in her way, blocking it. But her eyes narrowed even more when her eyes met familiar green ones.

Harry looked almost surprised but his face turned into a frown when he also recognized her.

"Watch where you're going, Harry." Hermione spat at him, voice laced with anger and stepped around him to continue her search but he grabbed her forearm, not letting her pass. She tried to pull her arm out of his hold but his grip was tight. "Potter, let go of my arm or you will regret it."

"What ? Your little boyfriend will hurt me ? " He mocked her, noticing how she addressed him. "Don't try to fool yourself or anyone else in this school, 'Mione, I know your game." She lifted her eyebrow at his words. Excuse me. And that horrendous usage of her name.

"I won't tell you again, Potter, let go of me or I will break every finger on your hand." She leaned closer, now her voice calm but strained. "I don't have time to chat with you, darling, so fuck off." She really didn't. Hermione had to find Draco, now.

His grip tightened, probably leaving a bruise. She refused to let Harry know that it hurt. "Better not leave a mark, Potter, Draco doesn't like other's hands on me and bruises set him off even more." She grinned at first but let her smile drop fast, quite dramatic she knows.

"He will slaughter you if that'll turn blue. And I won't stop him, this time." Hermione didn't know what he saw but his eyes widened and he pulled away from her as if her skin burned him. It seemed like her real threat worked.  He collected himself fast despite that.

"S- Stop with this spectacle, Hermione, it won't work. I know that you're just hiding behind his back but you don't see that he's using you for something." Wow. "He will hurt you."

She scoffed- no, full on laughed at his face and clapped.

"Wow, Harry. I didn't think you could get your IQ even lower than before but look at you, you astound me. Truly." Her harsh and mocking laugh made him grimace.

"Don't even for a second think that you have the right." She pointed her index finger at him. "The fucking right to worry about me and try to warn me. You, Harry, have lost that right when you chose a liar over me. When you spat on our friendship and threw it away like it meant nothing to you." She came closer, backing him up against the wall.

"I once told you that I will destroy you. Don't forget that, Harry, 'cause I didn't." Hermione  said, her eyes were now filled with menace, and Harry felt trapped in her anger but he saw hurt also.

"But then again you and Ron are doing a fine job yourselves. " Voice filled with pure venom.

"W-what do you mean ?" And that venom was slowly poisoning him.

"I know things, Harry, that you don't, that you probably don't even remember."

"So you're the one who's messing with my memories aren't you ?" Harry yelled at her, his voice was loud and he reminded Hermione of a madman. He seemed like he was triggered into a fit. "You make my memories go away." He accused her, his hands shaking.

Hermione furrowed her eyebrows in confusion but soon her expression tuned into neutral, making him even more mad. She was a clever witch after all, she understood what happened.

"Don't look at me like that and try to deny it. You're taking them. " He seemed to be more and more unstable with each passing second.

"I don't know how but you are. That's the only explanation." He slumped on the floor, his head in his hands and ten let out a breathy laugh.

Now Hermione knew exactly what this was. She looked down at him, at how pathetic he got and shook her head. She heard him murmur over and over again 'It's your fault, it's your fault...'

"Listen to me, Harry Potter, and listen to me good." She kneeled before him and took his jaw in her hand harshly making him wince but look at her as if he was paralyzed. "Never have I taken your memories from you and if you are losing time, getting bat-shit crazy on me, I suggest you to look closer around yourself and question yourself well."

"Now get up and walk away like a man and not a scared little boy because this is not how it'll end." Ending him now would be too easy and she liked to throw herself a challenge.

Hermione dropped her hand and he pressed his back against the wall, shuddering but still staring at her. When she motion him to go, he quickly got up on his shaky legs and hurried away, his hand messing with his hair. She sneered at his back, certain he could feel her glare at him.

Hermione rolled her shoulders back and composed herself, remembering her task at hand and cursing Potter for getting her distracted. She moved to run again but stopped in her track suddenly. Hermione gasped deeply, her hand moving to cover her heart. She felt alone again. Like the slight pull she had was gone, taken without her permission.

She moved to sprint down the halls in search, a terrible feeling clouding her head and making her desperate. Hermione couldn't feel Draco anymore.

~

Not that long after, they finally met.

Hermione noticed him before he did and ran towards him, only seeing Draco. Draco did, in fact, get surprised when suddenly legs were wrapped around his waist, making him hold the sudden weight on him with his hands gripping her body.

"What the fuck happened ?" Hermione gasped out, feeling him relax and hug her back.

Her head was buried in his shoulder and hands around his neck, pressing him closer to her. She didn't care even if they fall right now, she finally had Draco in her hold again. His one hand was already lost in her tresses, his other one holding her waist tightly, supporting her on his hips.

Draco felt at ease, finally breathing again, noticing she did too. Their hearts beating the same rhythm and he breathed in her scent, calming down.

They stood, well, Draco stood like this for a while. Just holding each other as if they haven't seen one another for ages, centuries even. She finally climbed off of him but still held her arms around his neck. They stared at each other in silence, once in a while his gaze shifted to her lips briefly. Hermione noticed the feeling was back again, as if it never was gone.

The warmth was back again. Now in Draco's arms too.

"Aw, Granger, where you worried about me ?" He half mocked her, still knowing how serious the matter was.

 Hermione furrowed her eyebrows in clear concern, not finding it funny. Something was wrong, she was sure.

"Of course I was, you idiot, I worry about you all the time." She confessed, an lowered her hands to his chest while he pressed her against him even closer than before. " I care about you more than anything in this bloody world."

"I-I don't know what happened, Draco, it was gone for a moment, I thought that something really bad happened." Hermione pressed her forehead against his chest, feeling his heartbeat against her fingertips and his heart was beating unusually fast. So fast that she had to look up to see if he was fine and because the silence was un-familiar. He didn't even comment on what happened and she knew he felt it too.

She was taken aback by what she saw in front of her.

Draco was smiling, genuinely smiling. It was the prettiest thing Hermione saw and it made her warm from the inside and outside. She was certain her cheeks were covered in a blush. How heavenly he looked.

Draco looked down at her, now pressing his forehead against hers.

"I care about you too." She caressed his cheeks softly, smiling with him. So that's what made him so... happy.

They looked ridiculous like that in the middle of the huge hall, illuminated by candlelight but neither of them could care. The warm and soft thing they were mutually feeling right now was more important than anything else.

Not once did Hermione Granger think, that her world will become this.

She battled in the war, helped to win it but lost so much at the same time. Draco did too and now they were embracing each other, and for once smiling in the same school where everything happened. Where she was bullied by him and where she punched him. Hermione wouldn't trade this for anything in her lifetime, neither would he she knew.

This only moment was theirs only, no one was present and nothing was more important to both of them than each other right now. The world could burn for all they cared.

His head lowered slowly and hers lifted up, their lips grazing softly. Hermione closed her eyes, just enjoying the feeling of having him back.

Draco pressed his lips against hers finally, lifting her off of the floor once again by her waist and holding her close, her hand now rested around his shoulders. He deepened it, making her shudder out of pressure and whine quite loudly.

On their way back to their shared dorm room he never once let her go, carrying her back in his hands.

Never again, he said to himself.

Chapter Text




XI. VINCULUM

' Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.'

Hermione and Draco both laid on their couch, well, more specifically, Draco was laying on Hermione while she was pressed against the said couch. His head buried into the crook of her neck, the tip of his nose touching her jaw while his eyes were closed, she guessed he was half-asleep. His hands wrapped tighter around Hermione while enjoying the feeling of her fingers playing with his hair.

They didn't talk, just listened to each other breathing, enjoying the sound of the logs burning in the fireplace. They both looked exhausted, neither of them got enough sleep since Draco liked kissing her at nights too much but at the same they looked alive, pressed against each other like that.

Hermione knew they needed to talk since Draco had new information and she did too but neither of them seemed to want to start. Plus the whole accident with them temporary loosing the feeling was nagging Hermione since.

While Draco was breathing softly on top of her, his palm caressing her side slowly as if he was in some kind of trance she wondered about upcoming week. So much has happened it seemed that she only blinked and the Christmas Ball was already right here. Only a week.

This weekend, while everyone in the school got permission to go back home, since the emotional support was still needed after the war, they choose to go over their plan again and stay at the Malfoy Manor. New information meant possible change of plans and also they need to finally figure out what's exactly going on between them.

Considering everything she lived through in that place, Draco once called his home, she wasn't exactly joyous about the idea of returning there. But since she was sure Molly Weasley will not let her near their new, renovated now proper house, she decided that the Manor was the best option for her. Hermione glanced at her wrist where the scar still burned, memories fresh but not that hurtful, not anymore.

Something else she deeply wondered about, was what possessed Ron to take Harry's memories ? He didn't do it with Pansy and she was the actual danger to him. And yet Hermione's not even sure if Ron's responsible for this act either. What did happen is that she planted a seed of doubt in Harry's already messed up mind and that will only aid them.

There were so many parts missing in this game and she could give herself a headache just trying to think about it or solve it but when there is a beautiful man on top of you, you just can't force yourself to think about those you loathe instead of those who you love-

Love ? Hermione's heart skipped a beat when she caught herself saying that word. She did admit to him that she cared for him deeply, more than anyone in her life.

Love was quite a difficult subject for Hermione and Draco. Both were deprived of that feeling since early childhood in one way or another, then even if she found someone she could love they got taken by war or hurt her in ways she never knew they could. Hermione always loved Harry but that was a long time ago.

He hummed quietly, alerting her that he didn't fall asleep on her, thankfully. She did feel warm and cozy but she figured that either he would fall on his arse during the night or she would suffocate form the lack of oxygen. Neither of those options seemed cute.

Draco reached for her hand, which stopped during her thinking period and now was pressed against his head. He took her wrist in his hand indicating for her to start massaging again, getting used to the feeling. He jumped though when she hissed in pain, his head snapping to look at her but still held on to her wrist. Hermione's eyes widen slightly when she realized what happened.

Hermione watched how Draco sat up slowly,  deciding to have a better look and rolled up her sleeve, exposing her bruised skin. It wasn't that bad but you could definitely make out, now dark purple, fingerprints. And judging by Draco's hard glare at her hand and then his head turning sideways, silently questioning her, made her heart drop a little.

She won't admit this but once in her life Hermione was scared of this look on his face but now, knowing that this was directed at the person who hurt her, made Hermione feel things yet again. The girl knew she should probably feel threatened or scared but those emotions were long gone, besides, she knew he won't hurt her.

Draco squeezed her bruised hand a little, making her hiss yet again and jump from admiring him to glaring daggers and muttering 'prick' under her nose silently but she knew he heard. So much for that last sentence, she thought bitterly. Rolling her eyes at him and knowing that he won't drop this she looked away from Draco.

"I ran into Harry while searching for you. Nothing serious." She shrugged.

Then snapped her head at him when he lifted her wrist, gasping at the sudden contact when his lips touched her skin softly. But as he love to do so, Draco then ruined the moment by biting her already bruised up skin and she hit him on the shoulder. The wet spot glistening in the firelight.

"So next time you don't forget to tell me." He said but then kissed her wrist again, and after summoning healing paste with his hand, begun to add it lightly on her bruises, now sitting on his knees while she crossed her legs.

While doing that, he mumbled threats under his nose, like she did minutes before him, about 'strangling Scar-head with his bare hands' and 'next time won't even happen'.

"Someone from his side is removing his memories," Hermione watched him stop just for a second and then continue to rub the cream, now silently listening to her speak, his interest peaked. "Ron is stepping over every line written by the law, it seems." She shook her head in disbelief. Draco's eyes narrowed and he stopped applying the paste, throwing it on the coffee table.

"I'm quite sure he didn't blame Weasley... right ?"

"No, he blamed everything on me and had a total breakdown, I honestly could've killed him right there but that would be no fun." She shrugged and rolled down her sleeve again, thanking him silently and kissed his cheek. "Besides, I can see that he's crumpling under pressure. The end is near."

They got comfortable again, of course him not passing the opportunity to lay down between her legs. Only now, his back was pressed against her front, both of them facing the ceiling, while his fingers played with hers playfully, which were around his neck. Both of them were thinking, Draco more about beating Potter up when he sees him.

Draco cleared his throat and spoke, breaking their shared silence. "Weasley seems to be winning the race of scums in this world." He felt her questioning look above him and continued. "I followed him this evening and now I know why Ginevra is so pissed and scared of you."

"Well, let's hear it." She urged him, nudging his side with her thigh.

"She knows something, or rather, Weasley fucked up and she saw something. He seems to threaten her a lot and even raised a hand on her, never seen her face so pale before." He scoffed, feeling no remorse but noticed how Hermione tensed up. He rolled over again and faced her, still staying on top of her, between her legs.

"Once, really long time ago, I saw bruises on her forearms, like she was held too tightly. But she pulled her sweatshirt down quickly and didn't see it clearly enough." Hermione's eyes were hard, anger in them showing to Draco. "She said she fell off the broom during practice and I dropped it because she was getting angry but now it makes more sense, why both of them seemed angry and distant after that."

Her eyebrows were furrowed, trying to convince herself to not feel guilty but her only thoughts revolved around that word for years. What if-

"Stop that, you're not feeling guilty about what happened years ago." Draco interrupted her, his palms now on each side of her head, holding himself above her. "Not your fault, Granger.'' She eyed him curiously and then nodded, her lips pressed into a thin line.

Hermione noticed how he glanced at her lips and then licked his own, slowly lowering himself down to her. She smirked at his obvious want and the look in his eyes made her shiver, forgetting what they were talking about earlier or what she was thinking entirely.

The tip of his nose touched hers, and then, agonizingly slowly, he pressed their lips together. Draco seemed to need to cover her with his body from head to toe, not letting her escape, not that she wanted really. Hermione sneaked her arms around his waist and he buried his in her hair. The sounds she made drove him quite crazy.

Needless to say, they forgot the nagging problems for a while.

~

 
Draco always tried to keep his true feelings from showing on his face but today it seemed like he didn't even think about hiding them.

If you looked closely enough, you could make out his tensed jaw line and clenched hands. His knuckles were pale white, evidence that he wasn't feeling quite cheerful this morning. Not cheerful indeed, in fact he was furious.

Draco walked in the center of the hall, his suit was black, shiny and expensive shoes hitting against the floor, the sound echoing through the walls, which were filled with students getting ready to go home for the weekend.

Everyone seemed to feel dark power and malicious energy radiating off of him, since most of the students who were heading towards the train station stopped and looked at him, bags in hand and all that. Those who stood in his way, moving to the side immediately, not daring to disturb Draco in any way. Their looks seemed to annoy him even further and he sneered, looking straight ahead, scaring a few first-years away.

The only thing he was thinking about was how can he make the chosen one suffer.

He didn't stop when he saw that wanker, not even a small halt. He was bloody laughing with a few younger girls, obviously and shamelessly, despite having a girlfriend, flirting with them. His tired look still plastered on his face, bags visible but with a, one would say, charming smile.

Draco's anger was reaching its limits, 'If he has any limits.' , Hermione would comment. He walked right up to him, not sparing any seconds.

"Hey, Potter !" Draco came close with a gust of wind following him and punched Harry right in the face, sick sound ringing loudly through the space. His fist contacting with Harry's cheek painfully.

Potter didn't even registered what happened, the blow knocking him right to the ground his glasses falling and breaking somewhere near his feet. Those who were present around them gasped and some hurried off, those girls backing away slowly but watching with sick interest. The moment stilled but soon enough Harry turned and looked at his attacker who's eyes looked ready to kill.

"What the fuck, Malfo-" He didn't even get to finish when strong hands gripped his white shirt, crumpling it from the strong hold.

Harry was forced to stand now, gasping at the sudden change, he scrambled to hold himself properly. Another blow too his stomach made him kneel on the floor, almost kissing it in fact, and the familiar taste of blood now invading his mouth. He gaped at the ground his vision blurry.

"Touch her again, Potter, and I swear you'll meet your daddy sooner. I will skin you and burn you." Draco spit out his words, rage so clear even the paintings hanging on the wall  flinched from the tone. Painted birds flying away in a hurry. "I will bury you alive do you hear me, Potter ? Don't ever come near her again."

Everyone heard the threat, no one doubting Draco's capability of actually doing what he promised. Some people caught the fuel behind the threat.

'Harry did what ?' 'What happened ?'

But soon the whispers stopped when Draco let go of Harry's shirt, making the boy hit the round roughly, still shaken and disturbed by aggressive words and the sudden act of violence.

Draco fixed his robes, cracked hi neck from one side to another and with one last disgusted look at Potter, turned around and left. His sneer was now replaced with a smirk, fingers shaking from the power and satisfaction he felt. This wasn't planned and he will probably get shit for this but the crack he heard made his day better.

Harry Potter scrambled off of the floor and hurried away to the other side, embarrassed, with maniac like eyes. His hands were shaking, not even thinking that Draco joked.

Needless to say, the school gossipers did their job and by the time the train arrived, everyone knew that Harry Potter the war hero, turned the cowardly way.

 ~

They apparated right in front of the Manor, Hermione's hand in Draco's and they walked towards the large metal doors. Her hand clenched around his, dark memories flooding her mind but she refused to think about the aching scar on her arm. He gave her a reassuring squeeze and let go of her hand while opening the doors for her with a flick of his wrist.

Hermione had to admit that the Malfoy Manor indeed looked dark, marvelous and beautiful. Knowing what happened inside there made it look hauntingly beautiful even but not more pleasant. They walked together through the dining hall, the ball room for special events, Draco twirling her around and talking about the yearly banquets his mother used to throw there.

She noticed lack of life here, old curtains covering paintings, collecting dust. No elves or other creatures could be heard working or living here, keeping this place alive and breathing. It was cold and lifeless.

Hermione gathered that no one lives here anymore, Draco seemed to hate this place with grand passion.

"That man made my life miserable, Granger, I hated every second here. And then Riddle came with his little army and destroyed everything good left of this place, if there was anything left to destroy." Draco scoffed and looked around, brushing the dust of the grand fireplace in the library, where they stood now. The book were the only thing left that has been taken care of and kept neat, securing the knowledge they possessed.

"I'm selling this place as soon as I get out of Hogwarts." That was silent but Hermione heard.

Hermione listened to him, to his tales about what he found here, what secret doors he discovered and what torture he had to endure for misbehaving in his childhood, if you can call it that. He didn't look at her while talking, his head hung low as if he was reliving the past, the icy tone cutting through the air.

While he gazed at the burning fire, Hermione insisted they light it up since it was freezing cold, she hugged him from behind. Her hands wrapped around his middle tightly, the side of her head pressed against his back. He covered her arms with his, in his head only bitter memories left of this prison he desperately wanted to call home.

They stood there for a while, just listening to the crackling of the fire and the harsh wind outside.

When both of them calmed a little and settled on one section to look through, despite Hermione wondering off and trying to snatch more interesting books she found on the shelves, they began to research. Almost all the books that she touched and looked through had dark covers and were written by hand. Written by his ancestors and given from generation to generation, Draco explained.

They searched for answers until the late evening when the moon already shined upon them, but candles surrounding them made everything bright. While he was busy setting up their food on the table that was covered in papers and books, she reached for one book that caught her interest under the section named 'Prohibeo'.

The cover was dark, blood-red color, covered in soft material, reminding her of soft fur belonging to a rabbit or a cat. A silver symbol on top of the cover, seemed like two sharp hearts crossed, only one was upside-down.

Hermione stood up and climbed down the round steps while examining the cover. Draco indeed wasn't kidding, the library was grand, with few floors of books and enchanted scripts laying around.

"Found something ?" He asked her, his blazer long forgotten , the sleeves of his shirt rolled up, reaching his elbows.

He crossed his hands on his chest while she put the book on the table, near the food, holding the book close, scanning it with her eyes. Sighing at her, he moved their plates aside, giving her enough pace to open it. This woman, honestly.

"It seemed to appear out of nowhere, I didn't even see it just had a feeling to look." She shrugged. "Looks interesting enough."

To their surprise when she pried it open, the pages looked empty, only old parchment instead. Hermione and Draco furrowed their eyebrows, mirroring each other, not understanding where's the trick or perhaps a joke. Until Hermione remembered that jokes and laugh didn't exist in this place.

"Perhaps you-" Draco reached down to the book before them. His fingers grazed hers, still holding one page, while simultaneously touching the cover too.

In that moment both of them felt a shiver running from the tips of their finger to down their spines. Hermione gasped at the sensation, while Draco just took a sharp breath. Both looked at each other and then back to the book, standing closer together now, just in case.

Hermione flipped through the pages carefully. Now the pages were filling up with black ink, words and some pictures clear on the once bank space. Both of them looked with fascination at the words, most of them in English but a few spells, they guessed, were written in Latin or other foreign language, neither of them could recognize, few hieroglyphs here and there.

They had a long night ahead of them, both seemed to understand that, also the fact that Hermione tied her hair up messily, getting ready. When she was determent to get hers, or had a plan in her mind, she always tied her hair, Draco learned that.

Since both of them took Ancient Latin and were now fluent in speaking the once frequently used language, there was no hard work in translating the book, aside from other languages. The very first page only had one sentence scribbled 'Animae ostrae in aeternum implexae' which quite literally translates to-

"Our souls entwined forever ?" She lifted her one eyebrow, looking up at him while he was busy researching the book's purport, now standing on the other side of the table with dictionary. He glanced at her and smirked, an amused look in his eyes.

"I guess that's what we were looking for." Draco shrugged and came around the table looking over her shoulder at the book. "Never seen this book before in my life."

They both begun to read the first page but then a sound of someone clearing their throat got them to look up, searching for the source of the sound. They looked around finding the room empty besides them. Draco pulled Hermione behind him slightly by her hand, both of them had wands ready.

"Mr. Malfoy, if you would be so kind to remove this horrendous sheet off of me I would be delighted." Overly sarcastic and deep, also too recognizable, voice echoed through the space from the wall in front of them. 

Draco soon realized what produced the sound and with his wand waved towards the wall, on which a painting was hanging, indeed covered with an old sheet. Hermione was too disturbed to laugh at Draco's regretful face.

Familiar and unimpressed expression on Severus Snape's face reminded Hermione of her potion classes, his comments about Harry now making much more sense. Professor glared at them both, his dark eyes narrowed.

"Hello, dear Godfather." Draco glared right back, not caring if he seemed rude to the portrait.

Hermione didn't cower at the look too, to Snape's surprise. Turns out his portrait was moved during the Aurors raid in the manor a while ago.

"Never thought that such girl like you, Miss Granger, would be here with Draco." His mocking jab at her didn't affect her too much. "Out of all people in the Wizarding World nothing less. How did you even set a foot in this place ?"

"We seem to be quite close these days, Professor." Hermione smiled a polite but nearly rude smile, her eyes flashing dangerously at him. Her former teacher was taken aback but successfully hid it.

This wasn't a know-it-all Gryffindor golden star he knew from his days, back when he was breathing and bloody alive. Present Hermione was now standing with her head held high and with a posture of grace and power, a mature and strong young woman, he never knew she could become. Indeed he was surprised.

"Ah, yes. Judging by the book you got there laying around, really close." His remark made them glance at the named thing. Clearly he has spoken to them because he knew something they didn't and wouldn't otherwise.

"Even I couldn't predict this, Hermione Granger as your soulmate?" Hermione could almost make out a tiny smirk on Snape's face. "Your ancestors would be really disappointed for bringing a Mudblood into their bloodline, Draco, marvellous job as always."

Draco rolled his eyes at Snape's words, his hand tightening on his wand but despite what some would think, Snape's words didn't affect him at all.

"If  you're here to bless us with your cryptic bullshit, you can go back to wherever you came from,  Severus, we don't have time for your or my ancestors nonsense. Tell them 'Hello' from me." Hermione didn't even register the name coming out again, almost certain that it wasn't actually meant to hurt her, she was too busy watching a show in front of her.

"And if you're here to help, please feel free to start speaking now." Draco finished with a sharp smile.

Snape's eyes narrowed and he sneered at Draco and his choice of words. In a weird way, Hermione thought, there was a hint of proudness on their professors face.

"Excuse me, Professor, but did you say soulmate ?" Hermione broke their match. Now Snape's eyes found her and he leaned back, fixing his posture in the portrait.

"Yes, you imbeciles, a quite cliché wording but yes." Draco growled at that but Hermione shushed him. "The book you have there is about the strongest bond in this universe, the power of your bond is unimaginable. And since I'm so kind this day, call it a Christmas miracle if you want, I'll explain what you have there." He gestured not towards the book but towards them.

"Each century, two dark stars are born, both destined to find each other, to share one life, create power that no one has ever seen in this world." Hermione listened with fascination while Draco turned to look at her instead. She indeed reminded him of a star.

"No matter who, no matter the circumstances around them, they were meant to be together until their last breath. No one has ever seen that kind of pure and passionate way of love ever, leading to normal people fear the powers that the two stars possessed."

"Of course, over the years everyone forgot about this supposed myth, thinking it was quite a load of rubbish. It was indeed rare to find those two stars."

Hermione felt her heart skipping a beat, now feeling his heart beating too, faintly but still there. She looked at him while listening, their gazes meeting, clearly understanding what Snape was indicating. Their fingers brushed, softly intertwining together.

"Unfortunately, what you both have here is a choice, a choice that is rarer than any magical creature you can think of. If you wish to separate you can, but it won't be pretty, nor easy and if you wish to stay together, well... " He trailed off.

"Remember that you both were chosen for this, make your choice wisely. Now, would you like me to continue ? Or shall I come back when you stop with love-sick eyes." He sneered once again, disgusted look on his face at their actions in front of him.

Hermione felt redness covering he cheeks and, despite the urge, looked away first, clearing her throat loudly. Draco licked his lips and turned to glare at his Godfather, who loved to torment them, even in his death he was pissed at everything.

"What if we choose to be apart ?" Hermione asked, out of the corner of her eye she saw Draco whip his head back to look at her, glaring. Her hand getting squeezed slightly in his grip.

Snape lifted his dark eyebrow at her, half expecting this question, just not exactly from her .

"Suffering. You'll be suffering and in torment just because you're apart, of course, with many moons passing by it'll be over. If the ritual isn't performed yet, of course." He shrugged, and continued as if they already should know this. "You will never love someone fully other than my Godson, Miss Granger, but it is possible to survive, if you can call it that."

"Good thing that we're not making that choice." Draco forced out through his clenched teeth, anger slowly building up. Hermione looked at him and let out a sigh, her eyes looking sad. 

"For now." She managed to get her arm from his hold which made Draco narrow his eyes at her.

"Granger, I will-" Draco started but Snape's annoyingly calm voice cut off his rant.

Severus already saw something in Hermione's eyes, he understood clearly why she was asking these questions about separation. Maybe in another lifetime he would've felt sad for her.

"You should discuss this further, as this is a quite tremendous commitment." His cold voice cut through the air.

"You will share one heart, if one feels sorrow the other will too, if one will suffer in pain or illness, the other will fall ill as well. Same thing with pleasure or happiness and etcetera." Malfoy tugged Hermione closer to him by her elbow, ignoring that they were not alone.

"And I see that sharing the magic skills already came in handy. I wonder, Miss Granger, which poor creature suffered from your Cruciatus curse ?" That made both of them stop and look at their former Professor. Their expression not panicked but slightly alarmed. Have they missed something ?

"Tsk, tsk, tsk now what would your dear friend Mr. Potter think if he knew ?" Severus noticed her gulp and he wondered if there's something there, something dark in her eyes.

"Excuse me ?" She was bold, Snape noticed, again surprised at her tone.

"Don't be daft, girl  I'm not idiotic like your little friends. I can see the evil streak in your magic, not as dark or vile like Draco's over there." Draco rolled his eyes, already hearing this story before. "But powerful enough to feel even here." Snape sounded like he approved but that must be Hermione's imagination.

"What will happen if we stay together ?" Draco asked, deciding that he should change the topic since Hermione went rigid after the comment. "What if we will continue being close."

"Have you started to lose the mutual feeling ? Like one of you disappeared into the void, the bond empty and cold for some time ?" Severus inquired them and got his answer when both of them exchanged looks. Malfoy rolled his neck uncomfortably, making it crack, a nasty sound indeed.

"Well then, you should hurry and complete the bonding ritual, like I mentioned, since both of you accepted each other already." He scoffed, again it seemed like this should be written in Daily Prophet and they were missing out.

"If the soul bond ritual is not completed you will die. You, idiots, wouldn't know any of this, weren't it for me. " Then he snapped at them and yet again, Hermione felt like she was back in his class,  scrambling to turn to that bloody page 394. She shuddered at the memory.

"Yeah, yeah, how to complete the ritual ?" His Godson's patience didn't improve as Snape could see and with yet another annoyed glare at the boy, he continued his already long explanation.

'Two smartest students my arse' , Snape muttered under his breath.

"Both of you need to exchange the vows written in the book, if you're really that smart, you'll find it, and then while saying those words , share your blood, doesn't matter how or when."

"That's all ?" Draco was getting impatient indeed, his anger already winning over and Hermione's silence didn't help it either. Both of them already feeling her thinking hard over this.

"If you'll let me finish for once, Draconis, you'd know so much more in this life. " Severus wasn't a patient man either and now was thinking that helping them was yet another miserably worse idea that he had in this lifetime. Draco gritted his teeth at the usage of his full name.

"Both of you will need to seal the bond with one of  the most intimate ways possible and I pray to Gods, that I won't have to explain further since you're no longer children are you ?" Hermione guessed she'll have tons of awkward moments in her lifetime but talking about sex with Severus Snape was not in her plans, and of course her blush got deeper shade of red, the room getting hotter and hotter.

Draco just scoffed and turned around, his back to the talking portrait. Hermione walked further away from both of them, near the fireplace and sat on the dark green sofa. She looked up, her fingers laced together, eyes closed from embarrassment.

"And after that ? What will happen ? Will anything change ?"  All these question, not much time.

"Of course, don't be foolish, after everything's done you'll feel each other much stronger than now. Since both of your magical skills will be the same and mixed together you'll know spells that  previously you couldn't even pronounce, including all Dark Arts and believe me, Miss Granger, my Godson knows quite a lot about those." 

Draco walked slowly towards, Hermione, his eyes narrowed at her but still listening to his Godfather, understanding what they have in their hands. "You can ditch your wands too, there will be no use of them since your magical powers will be higher than most wizards or witches. Of course Draco already perfected that art..."

Draco sat besides Hermione their legs touching but neither of them speaking. "What will happen if someone finds out ?"

"Best if they didn't, especially greedy, rotten friends who could easily use this to their own. The Wizarding world won't take too kindly of having a powerful pair roaming the streets, one of them being a former Death Eater nothing less." Snape warned them, while looking at their backs. No one can know about the proud look he gave them both.

"Remember what you have in your hands, Miss Granger, use it." And then silence.

When Draco turned he found the painting empty, only blank, dark green background. He guessed it was the last time he saw his Godfather.

They stayed seated for a while after that, not expecting to find out this much and so quickly. Draco's hand twitched, he couldn't stand this tense silence around them, a wrenching sound he hated. Hermione didn't ask questions, didn't throw a fit, she was just staring at the fire, her dark eyes focused on dancing flames, expression blank and un-telling.

"Might as well be done with this." Draco moved to stand up but he grabbed hi arm, not letting him leave his sitting place.

"Be done with this ? Are you insane ?" She exclaimed. "Didn't you hear what Snape said ?"

"Of course I heard, I was her wasn't I." The sarcasm was dipped in venom but not directed at her, never at her.

"How can you decide this just like that ?" Hermione stood up and stepped away, he was still sitting, not looking at her, but she knew he was paying attention, to her words at least.

"You can't expect me to be calm and accept this- this bond." He looked at her slowly when he heard doubt in her words. "I can't do this to-"

"Finish that sentence, Granger, I dare you." He sneered, his voice angry and cold, just like when they were kids. "If you dare to turn your back on me now, after everything-"

"Don't you understand what a serious matter this is ?" She half yelled, her hands waving around trying to get him to understand.

"Of course I understand." He yelled at her and stood up too, the small table moving harshly against the carpet leaving a mark on the floor from being untouched for so long. Hermione didn't flinch at the loud sound but stepped back and he narrowed his eyes at her for doing that.

"I understand perfectly what we have, what we can have, what is given to us but it seems like you're a bit confused." His hand twitched again and he went closer to her.

"Tell me, Hermione, what is truly bothering you ?" Draco demanded, now his tone was almost mocking.

"I'm bothered by the fact that you want this without thinking clearly about it." Hermione was just as angry as him. "We can get killed, Malfoy, killed." He knew this wasn't the problem.

"Then tell me, tell me that you don't want this, that you don't want me..." Draco was stepping closer and closer but Hermione stood her ground, not moving back like he thought she would.  

"Tell me that you don't love me." He was seething, furious at her but then saw- felt her heart. A faint sound that was getting quieter.

He noticed how lovely she looked right now in this light. Her eyes filled with tears and cheeks flushed, hands shaking at her sides. Hermione took a deep breath, wiped away one tear that escaped and sniffed, looking straight into his cold eyes. She had to do this, she had to.

"I don't love you." Hermione shook her head, a sob ripped through her and his eyes softened. The lie made her heart ache.

As she once thought about them, love was never present in their lives and yet the thing they had, must be love because letting go of him hurt her enormously. She prepared to be hexed or thrown out, ridiculed for believing this could work. What a foolish, naive-

"Liar." He whispered, suddenly smiling at her. What ?

"What ?" Hermione repeated the question out loud, not understanding.

"You're a liar, Hermione, I don't believe you." Draco was now standing right in front of her, gazing down at her and lifted his hand up. Softly he caressed her cheek, slim fingers brushing against her skin, running down her neck.

"You love me just as much as I love you. So tell me, darling, why do you want to leave me ?" Draco leaned in, using her surprised state at his confession and kissed her neck, right there where she liked.

Hermione shuddered and gave up quite easily and quickly, he saw right through her. It wasn't worth fighting it. Plus, how could she do this, when it's the first time she heard the word love from him which held such meaning.

"I-I can't do this to you." Funny how indeed she managed finished that sentence with her head getting dizzy. "I can't let you ruin your future just because someone out there tied you to me." She shook her head and he leaned back, his eyebrows furrowed but her own ones were lowered down.

"You heard what Snape said, your parents-"

"Are dead. Hopefully." He finished while shrugging but she continued, despite his joking tone.

"Your ancestors would be disgusted by you bringing a filthy Mudblood into your house, you'll be throwing the Malfoy name into fire, Draco, don't you see ? This is long time coming we-" Hermione chocked on her words slightly, trying to step away from him, pushing her hands against his chest. "You don't need me-"

"Blood ? This hysteria of yours is about blood ?" Draco grabbed her roughly by her forearms and shook her lightly. She broke away from him again and ran her fingers through her loosely tied hair.

"I don't care about your blood, Hermione, when will you get it ? I could care less what my fucking dead, already dust by now, ancestors think. I don't care, I just want you. You." Draco pointed at her but when he still saw doubt in her eyes, he let out a deep sigh.

"Fine." He went back to the grand table where the book was, he grabbed it roughly, ignoring her gasp at the action.

"What are you doing ?" Hermione asked when he flipped through the pages, then stopped  and read something a few times, repeating under his nose a phrase.

"Draco !" She tried again to get his attention back on her.

Draco dropped the book down, it slid down the table, and turned to look at her. Now his eyes held a look that only predators hunting their prey had. He decided to sort this out himself.

"Never in this dammed life I wanted something more than you, Hermione, the only person I have cared about all this fucking time was you." Draco was slowly approaching her, gracefully stepping closer and closer, making her heart beat harder. "I craved your body and your soul, wanting you and not being able to have you was the most horrendous torture I had to endure throughout this whole time."

"Every step, every move I made, was just to get me closer to you. I wanted you for all my life and now when I have the chance to have you forever and you try to get away just because we have different blood ?" He was waiting for her response, tilting his head at her but Hermione was at loss of words, not being able to say anything back to him.

"I call that bullshit, love." Hermione's mind felt numb of all emotions she felt at that moment. She never thought that this would take them here.

He used her short period of immobility and with the flick of his wrist summoned a knife, its sharp blade illuminated from the firelight. Draco gripped it hard, coming close to her and grabbed her arm, Hermione's palm facing upwards.

"W-What are you doing ?" Her nervous question didn't slow him down. She still trusted him and a small part of her knew what he was doing and she let him.

Draco put the cold edge against her palm and dragged it down, dark blood immediately slipping through his fingers, hitting the ground. Hermione took in a sharp breath, not being able to say anything to him, pain erupting form the gash the sharp knife left. She looked at the blood dripping down and her heart sped up, it was already running down her forearm.

Hermione lifted up her gaze at Draco and saw him do the same to his palm, dropping the knife somewhere around them, not caring about the blood that the carpet below them was soaking in. Merlin knows this place was filled with it.

Then Draco grabbed her wrist again, ignoring her attempts to break free, pressed their bloody hands together. The force of the hold made her wince in pain. Their mixed blood was running between their palms, down their hands, colouring their white clothing.

Hermione sobbed when she realized what he's done, what he's planning to do right now.

"Same blood, Hermione." Draco said in a plain voice, making her look at their bloody hands, the colour was indeed the same, dark and beautiful. Even with tear-filled eyes, she noticed that there was no difference, hers wasn't muddy and she for sue knew his wasn't pure.

"We have the same blood, Granger, you and I are the same." Now he whispered and wrapped his other, clean arm, around her waist, pressing her closer to him, while their injured hands were lifted on their left side.

"It'll always be you, Hermione, always." He pressed their foreheads together and she sobbed out, not being able to hold it in anymore. Despite her tears, she wasn't feeling sad or frightened, in fact, she felt relieved, knowing he wanted her as much as she wanted him.

"Now repeat after me and don't butcher it." Draco barked out, not really asking her and at the last part Hermione laughed through her tears.

Draco gripped her harder by the waist, making her hold his arm, until she gave up and wrapped it around his shoulders, hooking it behind his neck. Their faces were close, breathing the same air, sharing the same blood.

"Cor unum, et anima una," He whispered steadily, and she swallowed down her another sob, forcing herself to stop shaking but not succeeding.

"C-Cor unum, e-et anima-a una," Their bloody hands felt warm, the painful stinging replaced with warmth and pleasant tingling, slowly spreading from their hands down to their bodies. Hermione was breathing deeply and has already stopped crying, suddenly feeling calmer despite the situation she was in.

"There you go, Granger, trust me, feel me..." Draco trailed off, his breath hitting her face gently and after a few seconds she nodded, a sign for him that she knew what they were doing.

"Ut amore nostro fine nos,"

"Ut amore nostro fine nos," Hermione repeated and felt that warmth travelling from their hands further, touching her heart, their hearts.

Hermione felt his breathing lining up with hers. The atmosphere around them felt steady and calm but at the same time erratic and chaotic. She felt her magic, felt his magic connecting, like they formed a web between them, making her gasp slightly from the power t they shared.

"Nec mors nos partem,"

"Nec mors nos partem..." She felt lightheaded, shuddering at the sensation running over her body and judging by Draco's closed eyes and his grip tightening on her body he felt the same thing.

Hermione thought she imagined it but their joined hands seemed to start to glow, a small light inside their closed palms, only seeping through the small gaps. Everything around them started to shake with a power neither of them felt before.

They felt a rush go through their bodies, their breathing hitching. It seemed that they didn't want to let go of each other, only gripping each other tightly. The burning fire got bigger, flames almost reaching the carpet. The, still empty painting, was shaking and they didn't pay attention to the falling books around them. The papers that were scattered on the long table were flying around in the air, getting caught on the chandelier above.

Draco opened his eyes slowly, she did too, their eyes meeting and locking. He leaned in slowly, his lips parting slightly and then after a few amazing seconds he touched Hermione's lips with his.

The kiss seemed to be like a fresh breeze of air, small hairs stood up on their skin, the electricity running high. The kiss was getting headed quickly and they let go of their hold. Not caring about the blood, Draco wrapped his second, bloody hand around her waist, holding her closer. Hermione ran hers against his white shirt, the blood leaving a trail.

Neither of them felt something so mundane.

And then they broke apart and everything was normal, like nothing ever happened. Draco ran his tongue along his lips, savouring the moment. Both of them looked at their cut palms, surprisingly not finding a wound, not even a scratch, as if he didn't' slice their palms open. They took a moment to take a breath and gathered their scattered thoughts, feeling like they were drugged and only now were getting sober.

But now Hermione Granger felt it stronger and better than before , the bond between them, connecting them. She felt... happy, because he was feeling happy.

Hermione lifted up her head, still dizzy, but could make out Draco's smile, his bright and hauntingly beautiful smile. He was content, having her in his arms finally.

~

Harry jolted in his seat, again feeling the same breeze on his neck as once before.

He stood up quickly and clenched his shirt where his heart was. His heart speeding up and his breathing was cut off. Suddenly feeling cold sweat breaking through his body and his legs felt like jelly. Harry knew that feeling of fear, of complete dread surrounding him and suffocating  him, because he felt it before.

He grabbed the chair next to him and ignored the questions coming his way, the worried tone belonging to Molly Weasley and a high-pitched scream of help from Ginny. He felt like he was falling.

Indeed he fell, he fell right into death's hold and he knew it before passing out completely.

Chapter Text

 


XII. LUXURIA

" Baby, I wanna touch you
I wanna breathe into your will
See, I gotta hunt you
I gotta bring you to my hell
Baby, I wanna fuck you
I wanna feel you in my bones
Boy, I'm gonna love you
I'm gonna tear into your soul
"

They woke up on the sofa, Hermione's body on top of Draco's.

Sun-rays coming through the window, kissing her skin softly making her wake up form slumber first. Hermione lifted up her head from his chest and looked around, blinking slowly, dark eyes adjusting to the light.

She didn't feel dizzy anymore but the after effects of a magical ritual were there, she felt it around them, a faint sound she recognized easily.

Hermione rubbed her eyes with one hand since the other was pressed against him, a light pressure on his covered chest, supporting herself. Then she took in her surroundings. The room was a mess after all, their unplanned ritual came with materialistic consequences, papers, books scattered. She could she all the dust particles flying, looking like glitter because of the sunlight. It looked like a storm  destroyed the room. 

Finally, Hermione, hearing his soft snores, gazed downwards. Draco's hair was spread out and messy, she guessed hers was too, now free from the hair band. His face was completely relaxed, no usual frown lines or his trade-marked mischievous smirk present. Hermione smiled and gently caressed his cheek, making him murmur something in his sleep.

He looked peaceful. And usually that wasn't the case with him.

Hermione bit her lip thinking about yesterday, how everything  came to be. How she was tied to this man and in all honesty, she wouldn't have it otherwise. Hermione loved him and now she knew that he loved her too.

Slowly, Hermione lifted herself up, trying not to wake him since the man sleeps only a few hours a day if they were lucky. But then, she let out a yelp when Draco's arms suddenly grabbed her around her shoulders and waist, pressing her back against him. Hermione giggled when he turned them sideways, now caging her between the back of the sofa and himself.

Hermione felt their connection flowing, like a soft touch of the feather, unnoticeable but powerful at the same time. It made her feel what Draco felt and at that moment Hermione knew he was happy.

"Go back to sleep, Granger." His voice was rough from the sleep as he petted her head lightly.

Draco probably would've dozed off if she hadn't wiggled against him, trying to break free. Her laugh almost made him smile but he suppressed it, hiding his face in her hair. Which smelled like honey and it made him think about how she would taste down-

"Come on, I'm hungry." Her whine was muffled. "And keep those thought modest, mister." She pleaded again and felt him sigh against her skin.

"What did you read my mind ?" He pulled back and looked into her eyes, barley open since the light blinded him. "That's a crime, Miss Granger."

"I don't need to read your mind to know what you are thinking." Hermione laughed at that, poking him in the ribs which had no effect, especially after the time she found out that this man never was ticklish.

"I swear you'll kill me someday, woman. Get up." Draco, with great annoyance, sat up and glared at the floor and Hermione followed his movements, a small smile on her face. Like a child, Draco was cranky in the mornings but he would kill her she would tell anyone.

They sat there for a while, just enjoying the silence and calmness. Hermione put her head on his shoulder gently and Draco lay his on hers, their hands laced together. The ones that bled a few hours before only without no trace of the knife ever piercing their skin. She only now noticed how bloody they looked, her white blouse mostly red.

"Was there really so much blood ?" She felt him shrug, making her head lift up. Draco didn't look that fresh as well but neither of them seemed to care.

Draco lifted up his head and turned to look down at Hermione, making her do the same, their eyes meeting. Hermione bit her lip and he leaned in closer, now his gaze dark and hungry but not for food. Yeah, defiantly not for food.

Hermione felt some kind of thirst, but her throat wasn't dry and she exhaled deeply. He slowly lowered his head, their lips touching and she felt the need to touch him, feel him in any way possible. Draco let go of her hand and pushed Hermione down on the sofa again, his hands holding her waist, agonizingly slowly pushing them up her chest.

Draco felt her need and want, knowing that she was feeling the same things like him made him even more wide awake. The need to touch her was never this agonizingly strong.

He broke the kiss and lowered his lips to her neck, hearing her moan out of pure bliss, when he kissed right there where she loved. His hands gripped her buttoned up, bloody shirt and ripped it, a tearing sound reaching her ears.

The buttons went in the air but Hermione didn't seem to care, to busy trying to get his own off of him. Draco leaned back and removed it when his patience ran out, leaving him half naked now, chest bare. He went back to kissing her and felt her smile into the kiss.

Draco's hands went around her, holding her close to him as if he was embracing her. He was about to unbutton her skin-tight jeans but then stopped, his fingers in the middle of unbuttoning and lips unmoving. Hermione furrowed her eyebrows and pulled back, seeing his annoyed look. Feeling his strong anger running through her veins but not enough to make his happiness disappear completely.

"W-What happened ?" Hermione was out of breath and softly caressed his cheek, looking at him confused.

He growled lowly and picked up his shirt off the floor, covering her more. His eyes were focused on the door, a familiar sneer on his face. She thought there was danger when his eye flashed at the grand door of the library.

"Blaise is at the door. " Well they can get rid of him, she thought.

"And everyone else." Or not.

~
 
Now they were in the living room, since the library wasn't in a great condition and perhaps Draco wanted to keep it that way.

Draco, now in his sweatpants and a grey shirt, looking too much like a Muggle, was glaring at the floor again, his damp hair covering his eyes. While Hermione sat in his lap, not being able to move away from him, now showered too and dressed in his clothes, his dark blue shirt basically like a dress on her. She never was the one for public displays of affection but moving away from him looked impossible and besides, they weren't in public.

But that didn't stop the awkwardness of feeling theirs, now friends, eyes on them, their amused expressions annoying Draco further. He gripped Hermione's thigh harder, making her squirm in his hold, knowing that this quiet will be broken soon.

"Good night ?" Luna asked, while sipping on her tea, a small smile on her face.

Neville avoided their eyes, especially Draco's, since he was not keen on dying today, Pansy sitting next to him, closer than necessary despite the space on sofa they were sitting on. Blaise was standing near the fireplace, a worried look on his face, fearing for Luna's safety right this moment and planning their escape plan.

"Excellent." Draco turned to glare at her but that didn't affect her that much. She was the only person, he noticed, that didn't fear him or hate him from the start.

Hermione rolled her eyes at them both and leaned in, taking her cup of tea on top of the coffee table. Oh, if looks could kill, she thought. Hermione never understood how Luna was one of a few people, tow basically including herself, in this world that managed to get under Draco's skin, without suffering from the consequences.

"It seems you finally figured it out." Luna eyed them knowingly, her smile was genuine and soft.

"What are you talking about ?" Hermione asked her but it seems they all knew already what happened between them. Her palm tingled when she felt him stroke her waist.

"How do you know ?" She let out a sigh.

"I can feel it, everyone can-" Pansy shook her head at that, not understanding what they were talking about. Why is everyone so cryptic these days.  "-there's something around you, much stronger than before, of course." Luna shrugged and then put her already empty cup down.

"It was getting rather tiring." Blaise, instead of sitting on the chair next to the fireplace, sat on the armchair of Luna's. His hand softly caressing her back, a pleading look on his face for Luna to stop making Draco mad.

"Oh really ? Are we glowing ?" Draco scoffed and rolled his eyes when Hermione looked at him disapprovingly. His sarcasm was especially cutting today.

"Yes." Short answer was enough to make Hermione become red on her cheeks and Draco let out a mocking laugh.

"Oh please."

"Anyway, what were you going to tell us ?" Pansy, knowing that this was just another fight between Luna and Draco, well mostly Draco, waiting to break out, decided to change the topic. Fast.

Hermione told them everything that happened, her encounter with Harry, Draco's adventure and what happened between them, leaving out a good proportion of things not said but understood. She felt like they should know only the basics, her blush already deep shade of red.

And in a way, she felt quite protective of sharing what happened exactly.

"Neville, how's the project growing ?" Hermione asked him, interrupting his longing gaze directed at Pansy who was joking with Luna and Blaise. He quickly looked away and the chatting stopped, interested enough to hear what the boy had to say.

"I'm afraid that it won't be ready in time. The weather is too cold." He shrugged. "I tried every spell out there that I could find, even dipping in dark ones but nothing, not even a single leaf." A disappointed look crossed his face. Hermione was silent for a minute but then looked at Draco who raised an eyebrow at her.

"It'll grow, can you bring it to us ?" Hermione asked not looking at Neville, her voice was hard but with a hidden authority. "We can make it grow." Draco smirked at her, they seemed like they were communicating without any words, which would be insanity, of course.

"I-I can, in a pot, I guess." They all felt like they were interrupting a moment, which they did, like earlier.

"Excellent." She smirked back, already forming their plans further.

~

Draco cracked his neck, a floating cup in front of him refilled itself and then floated back down on dark-marbled counter. He lifted up his hand, palm turned toward him. He let out a breathy chuckle and then clenched his palm into a fist.

"Try again, love." Draco's voice broke the silence and he turned to find her frozen in her spot, a disappointed look on her face and a slight pout. A failed attempt to scare him. Some could mistake the face Draco was making right now was close to 'fond '.

"You're no fun." Hermione came closer to him and wrapped her arms around his middle, standing on her tippy-toes and kissed his jaw softly. He smirked and put his hand on her neck, looking down at her.

"When have I ever been fun, Granger, I'm far from fun." He laughed out loud at her thoughtful look and then grimacing face.

It was foreign to him, the sound of his laughter. He didn't realize how much he was doing it when he was with her.

Again that want flooded them, completely enveloping them both. As if the pull was getting stronger with each second.

Draco kissed her, taking her by pleasant surprise. His palms resting against her cheeks now, pulling her closer to her, even when there was no space left. Draco turned them around, pressing her against the counter roughly but at her satisfied groan and at the pull of his hair, it didn't hurt her that much. Quite the opposite.

Reaching behind her, he pushed the filled cup to the side. Hot beverage spilling on his arm slightly but the burn didn't matter at all to him. Instead he lifted Hermione up by her thighs, levelling them out now.

Hermione wrapped her legs around his waist, bringing them closer again, pressing him closer to her. Draco was breathing deeply, when he kissed her neck again, leaving wet, red marks across her skin, making her moan softly.

"S-Stop." Hermione barely could talk, her voice breathless and heavy.

She knew that stopping was something both of them didn't want to do but they had to. Neither of them wanting to do this here, or at least when anyone of their group could walk in on them. Draco pulled away fast form her, as if she burned him just by touching his skin, his chest was rising up and down.

They stood in silence, waiting for both of them to calm down, try and get back into rhythm. Hermione thought it would be harder to make him stop but it seemed like he was still in control, something she should be careful with.

"We, uh, we have to go and-" Hermione jumped off of the counter, her hands damp from the spilled beverage.

Hermione didn't finish the sentence and got out of the grand kitchen, fearing that is she didn't he won't stop again and the hungry look in his eyes gave away his exact thoughts. She was twirled around by his hand on her wrist, gripping it hard. Their eyes met and despite his dilated pupils, making Draco's eyes look darker than usual, she came closer, trusting him to behave. A dumb choice really.

"I'm selling the Manor." Draco said and let go of her arm, despite wanting to touch her everywhere.

"What ? Why ?" She was in disbelief, her shocked expression making him smirk.

"I know how uncomfortable you feel here, Hermione, every creak makes you jump and the fact that you avoid that place for dear life." He explained, not letting her protest. "Besides, I told you, I hate this house and since my parents are dead, everything here belongs to me. Us." Hermione tried to hold back her smile at that word. Us.

"Either way, I already bought another place for us, with a library and all that." He rolled his eyes, already picturing her with a nose in a book there. He would never admit it but he thought about that picture often. "Of course the baby-"

Draco stopped thinking when he felt her press herself against him, a warm embrace, making his breath hitch. The connection between them blossoming further, sending shivers down his spine. Hermione pulled back a little, her eyes looked like glass, his reflection shinning in them. She kissed him softly, not aggressive or passionate but rewarding to him nothing less. A soft grazing of her lips against his.

"Draco Malfoy, never in my life has it been this hard not to take you right here, right now." Hermione whispered against him, briefly kissing him again and smiling.

"Oh you, wicked witch, you better run or you can kick your friends goodbye." Draco growled out, his voice low and it sent shivers down her back, right to her core.

Hermione squealed like a schoolgirl and ran off, making him grumble and try to stay calm. Cold showers seemed to be a must in his days now.

~

Neville was standing near the window and was looking down at the lifeless and, barely, alive... vegetable. He lifted up his eyes in front of him, watching the pair looking at the poor thing on the floor.

"It's a good thing you put it in the pot, Longbottom, considering the fact that it's bloody dead." Draco was unimpressed, his hands folded on his chest and a sarcastic look on his face made Neville cringe. Hermione, though, looked lost deep in her thoughts. She crouched down, eyeing the plant on the expensive floor.

"Well, for one, it's not dead. Yet." She didn't touch the leaf, knowing the aftermath of doing so. They were risking it even standing near the deadly thing, withered or not. "We'll give it a try."

Hermione stood up and cleared her throat, mentioning for Draco to step closer, which he did, but with an annoyed look. Blaise and both girls stood behind the sofa, not risking it.  Neville stepped back slowly when both Draco and Hermione lifted up their arms, seemingly knowing what they were doing when in fact, Hermione was only testing her hypothesis.

Both whispered at the same time a charm under their noses and a soft, yellow light started to grown from their open palms. Directed right down to the plant on the floor. Neville- everyone present in the large room felt the power radiating from them, the life seemingly growing and flourishing before them. The leafs were getting darker shade of healthy green.

After a second they stopped and pulled back, Hermione's face looked concentrated, mirroring him. They both looked at their hands, amazed.

Pansy has never seen wandless magic before but she has to admit it looked more badass than it was described to her. If she was in Harry's shoes, she would kiss Hermione's feet right about now, bowing and apologizing. Indeed Pansy was at the right side, this time.

The, once withered, plant that Neville brought them looked healthy and full of colours, the petals almost glowing. They brought it back to life.

"Wow." Neville let out a breath, covering the plant with a glass hood. "That was awesome."

They were too busy looking at each other to acknowledge the complements.

~

Finally they were left alone for the night.

Now, the Manor was silent and more lifeless than ever but his room was lit by the fireplace and a few candles here and there, casting a warm light. A glowing look made his room a little more comforting and lively, despite the lack of decorations and pictures or even paintings.

It made her frown, now knowing what truly hard life Draco had, despite money and a family name. Cold and loveless.

Turns out Harry wasn't the only victim in this cruel world of theirs.

Draco sat on his bed, his gaze following her around while Hermione walked around his room. He was free from his shirt now, only in his sweatpants and he didn't exactly care how that happened. Hermione didn't take long, since there were only a few books and a couple of family heirlooms, that didn't interest her that much.

Well, that vase did look quite nice, she must say.

What interested Draco more was her and how soft and warm she looked right now, how her skin was glowing and her eyes sparkled. She looked alive, nothing compared too her at the start of their year or even before. He sounded like a love-sick puppy, and he didn't mind it that much, not when it's her anyway.

His mother would scowl he was sure but, oh, his father would either kill him or himself. Good thing they were both dead,  hopefully rotting. The letter he got not long after their visitors left was a cherry on top of his day. Azkaban was truly a morbid place. But now he had no time to think about all the paperwork coming his, no that can wait.

And how many years has Draco dreamed of her here, in his room. And now Hermione was truly here, alive and breathing, looking more real than ever. His mind remembering all the fantasies he thought about while laying on his bed at night, his thoughts circling only about her.

This woman corrupted him and completely poisoned his mind.

Hermione glanced at him and stopped in her tracks, the tips of her fingers dusting off the empty shelf, when she saw Draco Malfoy looking at her. His expression a little dazed and it seemed fully in awe.

She bit her lip softly and came closer, her bare legs catching his focus now. Hermione stood between his parted legs, her hands sliding on his bare shoulders, leaving him in shivers. Draco touched her exposed skin, palms caressing her thighs. Her breath hitched when his hands slid up and wrapped behind her back, his face pressed against her stomach, breathing her in.

Hermione ran her fingers through his hair gently, and lowered herself in his lap. Hermione straddled him, she was now at the same height as he, meeting his dark eyes. She pouted when Draco pulled away from her slightly, a familiar smirk on his face. Then she felt his hand travel up her back, under her, well, his shirt. She shivered when he leaned in and started kissing her neck, softly and slowly.

"I'm really not holding back anymore, Granger." He warned her, his breath tickling her neck.

"I'm not stopping you." She whispered back, her words registering in his head, making his grin wider and he resumed his job, kissing her skin agonizingly slow. "Need to finish what we started, right ?"

Hermione licked her lips and gripped his shoulders when he reached her spot, just there where she loved.

She shuddered, her grip tightened but Draco took her by surprise, earning a yelp from her and rolled them around. Now her back was pressed against the mattress and her hair sprawled around her, making her look like an angel.

Draco was standing between her legs with a smug look, looking down at her, blushing and all. Like a Goddess of temptation, waiting for his next move and looking ravishing, gazing through her lashes at him. He wanted to burn this image into his head.

"Eyes up here, Malfoy." Draco heard a whistle and she pointed her middle and index finger into her eyes, a smile on her face threatening to break out. Still bossy and commanding as ever. He could say something sarcastic or cocky but not now, he thought not when she was so-

"Beautiful." He breathed out, amazed. "You're so fucking beautiful, Hermione." That clearly took her off guard and the breathtaking smile he was rewarded with, made up for all of his tortures.

He would fall to the Cruciatus again and again if it meant to see her smile like that. Hermione's beauty could bring anyone back to life it certainly brought him back. By the dark look in her eyes Draco knew she felt it too. The fresh breath of life, flowing around them, making everything bright and warm.

Draco lowered himself slowly, while still being held captive by her eyes and practically crawled towards her. Kissing her legs, her exposed belly, his breath covering her skin, making her body tingle.

Draco reminded her of a great dragon, large and powerful, crawling above his prey and ready to devour it. She once read about those magical creatures and how possessive they are of the prizes and right now she felt like she was worth more than anything in the world, right at his mercy. For the first time she felt wanted and desired after, she adored the feeling.  

Draco looked astounding and dangerous, like he was breathing fire above her, ready to kill anyone who would dare to take her away.

He pulled off her shirt and threw it somewhere on the floor, not caring about it at all. Her dark-laced bralette making his body twitch and his eye darkened, pupils blown wide. Then Draco collected his prize and kissed Hermione and it was hungry and brutal. Their teeth clashed together, a show of power in that kiss was clear, neither of them ready to lose.

Hermione had him wrapped around her finger and both of them knew it.

Soon neither of them were covered in any piece of clothing, just kissing and exploring like they were lost in each other. Now both of them in the center of the king-sized bed, him covering her completely, despite the freezing air, she never felt cold. Not when his touch felt like a burning fire.

Draco's hands were on her hips, moving slowly, and Hermione's lips were whispering only his name, like a prayer, over and over again. Soon Hermione felt him, and gasped at the sudden fraction. Fearing of hurting her, he forced himself to slowdown but at her growl, he didn't dare to stop, not when she urged him so.

The bed rocked, the sound of the floorboard being scarped accompanied by their moans was the only sound that could be heard. And the air around them was filled with electricity, her nails leaving a scratch mark on his back.

He moved and moved and she moaned at every touch, her head was clouded and dizzy, unable to sense anything but him.

Hermione didn't know if it was in the heat of the moment but she felt like the sound of crackling magic surrounded them, like it completely covered them both, aligning their souls together. Draco's one palm covered hers, their fingers lacing together tightly, while the other pressed her against him, like an embrace. Holding and never once letting her go, just feeling her all.

Moments later, pure ecstasy washed down upon her, her toes curling and breath hitching. By the sound that Draco made, he felt it too. The silent curses mixed with her name and to her, it was the most beautiful sound ever. Both of their bodies were shaking and covered in sweat, skin against skin.

Hermione heard few thuds and a crashing sound, as if something made out of glass connected with hard floor. Unbeknownst to them, the whole room around them was a mess already. Luckily, the only place that got affected by their final moments of bonding. If there were any more things or vases in his abandoned room, they would be broken too, or if the room wasn't fireproof, they would have burned down the whole Manor by the time they were finished.

Neither of them felt the need to check, only their shaky breaths mixing together. His grip on her hip probably leaving a bruise and her long nails a bloody trail on his back he was sure. He opened his eyes to meet hers, her smile mirroring his one. Hermione felt dizzy looking at him, like she was seeing, sensing and loving only him.

Pulling him against her again, she kissed him harshly, no boundaries left and moved a little, making both of them moan into the kiss. She still had to be the one in control, just to annoy him in bed too. Then they took a moment to catch their breaths, tangled in the sheets, laughing between and trying not to get too heated again with small kisses they shared.

"I love you, Draco." Hermione whispered when the sun already broke and they finally were calm after all night of action.

Her skin was covered in sweat, as was his but neither could care, her back pressed against his front. Hermione's hand was in the air, his one playfully grazing hers, both feeling the bond finally settling in and their magic connecting. The feeling of power leaving them both exhausted but satisfied nothing less. Sensitive and happy.

"I'm in love with you, Hermione." Draco kissed her neck softly, burying his head in her hair and pressing her just a bit tighter against him ."Always you."

Hermione closed her eyes, love surrounding her and with only him in her mind, it made her feel like she's not alone anymore. Draco was her home.

Home.

~

Needless to say when Luna came into their train compartment that evening on their way back to Hogwarts and saw them passed out, she smiled softly. Hermione's head on Draco's shoulder while he lay his on top of hers, both deeply sleeping. Their hands laced together, the hold never lessening.

Fate seemed to smile down upon them finally, Luna thought and closed the door without any sound. Needing to get out of there because the air around felt heavy and intimate, definitely powerful.

Now, when Luna will be around them, she would finally take a breath. All of that tension and the energy radiating off of them made her dizzy sometimes. Her father always told her that she was too sensitive around people. Sexual tension was a dreadful thing after all.

Luna wandered around, trying to find a place to sit down, since she couldn't be seen with Blaise or others for that matter. Only a week left, though. Shame really, she always wondered how it would feel to do it in train's bathroom, the curiosity was always there. Oh well.

She stopped shortly and peeked back through the glass, seeing Harry sitting alone. His head leaning on the window and a gaze so empty she almost felt sorry. Almost. Luna slid the door open, making his head jump towards the sound and moved inside, knowing that fate had let her this way for a reason. She noticed how his hand lingered on his wand, almost out of the holder.

"Hello, Harry, don't be frightened, it's only me." Her voice filled the silence and he visibly relaxed, just a little. "Only me."

"Hi, Luna, didn't expect someone to join me." He let out a small laugh, it sounded sad. "I'm not so social these days."

"Well, mind if I sit here, everyone else seemed to save their empty spots for their friends." She smiled, a trained friendly smile and sat down in front of the boy, a small table in front of them.

Through the window you could see no sign of green, everything was covered in white, frostbite decorating the edges of the window, the patter moving by itself.

"Where are your companions ?" She asked him carefully, noticing how his smile flattered and his shoulders tensed a little. Hit right in the spot.

"They went somewhere, I don't quite know." He shrugged. "Ginny's with her friends so..." He trialled off, his stare focusing on anything but Luna's eyes.

"Well, have you thought about what I told you ?" Luna asked him, pressing her finger on the icy patter that reminded her of a snowflake, the ice dissolving around her finger from the warmth, melting quickly.

"Yeah, bought it yesterday." Harry whispered silently, a sheepish look on his face replacing the sad one.

He summoned a small velvet bag, and opened it. Harry took the shiny thing out showed Luna a golden bracelet, it looked expensive but not in a way to show it off, it wouldn't catch anyone's attention anyway.

"I'm sure Ginny will be moved." Luna smiled, secret malice in her tone.

"You think so ? Thought that she wouldn't like something big and show-offish." Harry smiled back and laughed a little.

Poor boy, doesn't know his girlfriend, Luna though. She remembered the talks she heard in bathrooms, during their brakes, or hushed desires while sitting near the named red-head. And those thoughts were alone more expensive than his little present.

But oh, how cute Harry looked while admiring his courting gift. An adoring look on his features, seemingly sweet but so naive. She knew something he didn't and at that thought Luna almost giggled.

"Thanks, by the way, for helping me find it." Harry sounded truly grateful and if he wouldn't have done the things he did, Luna would've helped him, but it was too late."Truly, I couldn't have done this without you."

"You're welcome, Harry." How ironic.

"Right, so I was-" Harry suddenly jumped in his seat when a few first-years ran past the door, their bags banging against the wooden door. His face was twisted into grimace, his hands were shaking and cold sweat shinning on his forehead. Now that she took a closer look at the hero, he did look ghastly and out of this world almost.

"Oh, don't be frightened, Harry, those are just silly first-years," Luna smiled, with her wand shutting the blinds quickly, but her face tuned into a small scowl afterwards. "Although, a few of them could be quite mean now days." She shook her head lightly.

"Yeah- I just-" He stammered, running a hand through his hair, making it messier than before.

"Are you alright, Harry ? You seemed panicky..." She trailed off, her dreamy voice not helping him to clear his head. "As if something is not giving you rest, care to share ?"

Harry wiped away the sweat off of his forehead, and cleared his throat, leaning in closer. He swallowed loudly before opening his mouth. His eyes looked like they were filled with fright and paranoia.

"D-Don't tell anyone but I think Hermione is out to get me, I mean, she threatened me, me, in front of the whole school, and, and to think that we were friends-" He looked outraged.

"-before you chose Ron over her." Luna couldn't help herself, her hand already in her small but endless bag. A gift from Hermione, truly a rare and useful thing, the blonde mustered.

"-and she dares- what ? N-No, it wasn't like that. I-I just know that Ron, our Ron, c-can't do things like- like hitting someone or-or-" His eyes were crazy and Luan saw a resemblance of Voldemort in them, it made her uneasy. Potter let out a breathless chuckle, wiping his glasses on his shirt.

"-he couldn't- can't rape someone, I mean, NO !" Luna stood up at his shout, not feeling safe, but he grabbed her wrist painfully. It looked like he was triggered into a panic attack.

"Harry, take a breath and let go of my hand please." But the boy was laughing manically under his nose and Luna now understood clearly what Hermione was talking about. "Harry, you're hurting me, please." She pleaded again, her heart raced and she clenched her hand that was hidden in the bag.

Harry gripped her harder and Luna didn't give single fuck whether they were in a moving train or technically in school grounds. Or about her original plan.

Luna gritted her teeth at the pain shooting through her wrist, and kneeled him straight in the groin. He took a sudden sharp breath and let go of her arm immediately. Harry crouched on the ground, his hand covering the spot where she made it hurt badly. His eyes were clenched and his mouth open, his saliva dropping on the wooden floor.

Luna took out the dust from her bag and lowered herself to his level. Before he could say anything, she blew the dust into his face, making him inhale them and pass out quickly after that.

She threw her hair over the shoulder and massaged the pain away, luckily he didn't grip that hard to leave a lasting mark on her. Blaise would not have taken a liking to that. She took out the bracelet from his pocket and replaced it with an exact replica, patting Harry on the head and then she stood up.

"You didn't betray her, Harry, you betrayed yourself." Luna turned around and left, disturbed and angry more than ever.

Sadly, he didn't hear the words that were spoken, too busy having his memory cleared from this conversation ever happening.

~

Hermione grimaced when she sat down behind the table, the slight ache between her legs, made her glare at the table in front of her, where Draco sat. The smug look on his face was enough to get the message across.

Blaise caught her look and raised his glass full of pumpkin' juice, a mocking salute towards her. She smiled sarcastically and flipped him off, making Draco laugh out loud. Some people around him, hearing that sound jumped in their seats and looked surprised, if not disturbed.

Hermione grumbled under nose, taking a sip of her juice too and focused on a book, she snatched from the Malfoy library. While reading it she nibbled on the piece of buttered bread.

She stopped and turned sideways when she felt a presence next to her, too close yet far away. Beside her stood a girl, her eyes looked bloodshot and her appearance all in all terrible. She looked exhausted and scared. Alarm bell rang in Hermione's head instantly.

"Can I help you ?" Hermione asked, lowering her book down, her tone neutral.

The girl looked as if she was about to tell something but then closed her mouth quickly and scurried away, looking behind her shoulder. She looked younger than Hermione but not much, still Hermione couldn't recognize her.

She was about to stand up and go after her, clearly she needed help with something, but McGonagall's voice booming through the Great Hall stopped her. Hermione would go anyway but the unnecessary attention to her and that girl wouldn't be appreciated, she guessed.

The evening went by smoothly, besides that encounter, a few loud students here and there and new information about the Christmas Ball. Hermione kept making eye-contact with Draco, who was clearly undressing her in his mind, his lower lip caught between his teeth. She mouthed 'stop' and he winked at her, making Hermione bite down her smile.

Besides that, her mind kept wondering about that girl and what bothered her so much. Now that she thought about it, she did remember the younger Gryffindor staring at her a couple times before, her look seemed hallow then and now it was pleading. It unnerved Hermione greatly.

~

"So we need to wait 'till the Ball to complete it ?" Draco asked, his head turning to look at her.

"No, you're not listening," She sing-sung the last part. "We will need to change the plan all together, the poison will start to work as soon as we bind it to the body. I just thought that the night of the ball will be the most fitting, the dress has to serve its purpose after all." She giggled and turned to look at him too, their eyes meeting.

They lay on the rug in their living room, bare and exposed. They shared a duvet, covering most of her body and only his lower part. Hermione balanced her head on her hand and squinted at the fire, thinking.

"You think the horrid plant will grow until then ?" Draco was asking question after question but it was a given, both of them sharing the same trait of wanting to know everything that was possible.

"Of course, it has too." Hermione confirmed, nodding her head.

"Neville will take care of it." She added and hit him on his chest when he snorted. "Stop it."

"Make me." He bit back, making her raise her eyebrow at him and giggle, which he found to be too cute.

"I know your tactics, Malfoy, try me bitch." Draco fake-gasped at her usage of words, putting his hand on his bare chest in fake-hurt. It made her laugh louder, the beautiful sound echoing through the room.

"I would never use my tactics on you, Miss Granger, you should know better." Draco tsk'd at her and smiled when she lay back down, gripping the sheet. Hermione calmed down a bit, her laughter dying down with her hand pressed against her belly.

"I think a girl is in trouble." She whispered after a few moments, she felt his finger tracing on her arm.

"What girl ?" He furrowed his eyebrows at her, not understanding. The sudden topic change making stop.

"During dinner a girl came up to me, she's one year younger, and she had this look on her face, as if she was dreading something but it wasn't me." Hermione chewed on her lower lip and he just listened.

"She was about to say something but the ran away, I couldn't go after her because McGonagall-" Draco rolled his eyes at hearing that name. "-started talking but I think something horrible happened to her. Or will happen."

Hermione was thinking deeply, her nose twitching slightly with each thought, plans brewing and it showed in her eyes. He squinted at her, raising his head and coming into her view.

"We'll sort it out then." She blinked at him a few times and smiled when he shuffled closer, their breaths mixing together again. He kissed the tip of her nose gently and when she pulled away, giggling, he practically pounced on her, covering them both with their duvet.

The only sounds that could be heard in the room were their laughs mixed together.

~

Indeed they sorted it out.

The next morning Draco came up behind her when she was eating breakfast. He leaned over her shoulder and with a kiss to her cheek left. Hermione didn't pay any attention to the looks they still got when he was doing things like that, instead she noticed a small paper note in her palm. She knew most people thought he was using her or vice versa, no one believed there was something real between them.

Hermione unfolded the little piece of paper, a name scribbled on it in his writing.

Elladora Vane, first class History of Magic.


Hermione grinned at his retiring back, his walk as always filled with power and richness. She wiped the corners of her mouth with napkin and stood up, her bag over shoulder and with similar grace like Draco, walked out of the Great Hall, moving towards her destination.

Hermione was about to walk through the open grand doors but then a loud voice behind her stopped her movements. She turned around and with a lifted eyebrow looked at the angry red-head.

"So you've turned to a Slytherin's personal skank now huh ?" Ron hallowed to her. The voices in the Hall dying out, interested in the scene before them more.

 "Please, Ron, take this somewhere else." She told him, her voice laced with boredom. "In fact, take it to someone who cares, because Merlin knows I don't." She turned to walk away but he moved closer and at that she gripped her wand tighter but stopped, daring him to make a move.

"You're just scared to face me like a real witch, you're nothing without us, 'Mione." He grinned at her back, a tragic sneer on his face. Hermione rolled her neck and turned around, yet again, her mocking smile glowing.

"Be careful, Ronniekins, I think you're projecting your fears." Her face was neutral, but the mocking tone oh her voice got Ron twitching.  "There are people who could help you, Ron, honest." Hermione put her hand on her chest, a fake concerned look crossing her face but then was quickly replaced by a glare.

She glanced over his shoulder, seeing Harry avoiding her look and chewing on his nails, his body shaking. Ginny moved up from her seat, after her failed attempt to make Harry stop Ron and came closer to them.

"I suggest you to drop it before you fuck up and return back to your place, Ron, right in Harry's ass, because you seem to like kissing it."  

"You fucking bitch, I will teach you how to talk with your superiors." He moved to grab Hermione but a hand gripping his forearm stopped him.

Surprisingly Dean Thomas, stood there, much taller than Ron. His features dark, a glare directed not at Hermione for once but at Ron who was looking around the Hall now.

"Calm down, mate." The tone of his face was far from friendly. "You're embarrassing yourself, leave Granger alone or I will make you."

Ron saw how displeased people were with him. How angry some looks were and they were directed not at Hermione but at him, how murderous they felt on his skin. Realising what he had said and was about to do he cursed under his nose and moved to get his arm away from Dean, who's grip was like iron.

Hermione's smirk got his blood boiling the most, how she enjoyed his humiliation, he moved once again to get closer to her but now another hand on his other arm stopped him.

"You don't learn do you, Weasley ?" Seamus looked the most angry of them all and without any warning they locked his arms behind his back and took him out of the Great Hall, pissed looking Headmistress followed the boys out.

Hermione heard a few claps somewhere down the Hall and her small smirk got a little bigger, then she turned and left, leaving stunned and shocked people behind her, realizing things about themselves and people around them. The seed was growing, their doubts about their heroes becoming stronger.

Hermione winked when she passed Ginny who looked red and yet again angry beyond this word, making Hermione laugh out loud.

That sounded haunted Harry's dreams and he buried his hands in his hair, trying to remember what he had dreamt this night. He couldn't.

Chapter Text

 

XII. DESPERO


“We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.”


Hermione patiently waited outside the classroom, not having the first lesson sometimes really paid off. She continued to read the book with leather cover, neatly hand-written recipes for various needs. Thank Merlin for magical charms, keeping the old scribbles clear and in-tact, considering the age of this thing.

The one she was studying for a while now was 'Le Tourment Désespéré'. Slow torturous venom, as Draco described it, created by French to aid them in battles.

"Elladora Vane ?" Hermione's eyes followed a girl, who exited through the door, students stumbling behind her. Hermione shut her book with a 'slap' sound, tucking it in her bag, doing this without looking down. The younger girl looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Her eyes were wide and filled with what seemed like worry.

"Y-Yes ?" Hermione wouldn't have heard her small voice in the crowd of loud passing people if she hadn't come closer to her.

"Hi, I'm Hermione Granger, Prefect of Gryffindor's house." She extended her hand, her smile warm but her eyes showed authority. Of course Elladora knew who Hermione was.

"I guess you already know my name." She shook Hermione's hand lightly, her damp palm showing nervousness. She looked around them and that made Hermione frown but once the girl turned to look at her again, her face became friendly and nice again.

"Care for a stroll to library, I could use a hand ?" Hermione wasn't exactly asking. Moving past the girl knowing that she would follow. Indeed she did, her footsteps coming behind Hermione quickly, making her smirk.

~

Draco already caught whispers around him about what happened, his almost calm reaction to it made Blaise wary. Ron didn't even get suspended from playing on the field that day, for Merlin's sake. Is there no justice in this world, or do they have to take care of everything, Blaise thought.

"Why is Weasley still standing with his limbs attached ?" His head was tilted sideways slightly but his face was natural. The fact that Draco was calmly putting on his gear before their Quidditch practice with Gryffindors was making Blaise's warning bells ring.

"I already beat up Potter for putting his hands on Hermione." Draco finally spoke when they stood on the frozen ground, strapping his right glove on, making it tight. "I have to get creative, don't I ?" He sneered, humor missing from his tone. Blaise smirked, already sensing trouble for the red-head.

Draco kicked off from the land on his broom, zooming a few laps around the pitch, cracking his head from one side to another. Blaise followed him closely behind but he wasn't as fast. The cold weather didn't bother them at all. The pitch was enchanted so they could still play during the winter, wouldn't be fun otherwise.

Draco's face was so calm and collected it even un-nerved Ron Weasley himself, who was watching Draco fly past carefully. Flying steadily on his brand new broom, that Ron spent hundreds on, his eyes followed Draco around, knowing that he was up to something even if the named boy didn't bother to cast single glance at him.

It was a friendly match, only practice of course, but since when do Slytherins and Gryffindors ever play nice ? Slytherins were winning by more than a couple points, thanks to Ron getting distracted every time Draco flew a little closer to him. It caused quite the disturbance, his teammates getting angrier with each point that Ron had lost.

When Ginny started to yell at him down from the ground to get his head out of his arse and play, for fuck's sakes, he nodded dumbly, only managing to swallow hard. The glares form his teammates and mocking laughs from their enemies got his nerves worked up.

He shook his head, wobbling a bit on his broom, when Blaise scored again. The bludger came too close to Ron's head that time, making him sharply sway. Sweat ran down from his forehead to his chin slowly, his heartbeat erratic.

"Oh come on, Weasley, don't be a disappointment for your sister now." Blaise had time to look menacing and sneer at Ron, then he flew away, ignoring the 'Sod off!' from the red-head.

He wiped the sweat away, gulping the air like he was starved for it. Why was he so nervous ? His heart felt like it would explode right now. He managed to block a few hits, but one Slytherin girl could still get one point though, a cocky smile on her face making Ron angry even more.

"What's got you so worked up, Weasley ?" Ron almost twisted his neck when he turned his head sideways. He could recognize that voice anywhere. "Maybe you have something to be afraid of ?"

"Fuck off, Death Eater." Draco looked unfazed by the so-called-insult, casually hovering near, as if he was bored. He didn't even look at Ron, his eyes following his goal and a poor boy who was trying to catch it desperately, golden Harry Potter nowhere to be found.

"You should be, you know." Draco lazily turned his head, eyes, no mistake about it, filled with menace. "You should be very afraid, Weasley-boy, I protect what is mine."

"What the fuck are you on about, you freak ?" Ron almost blocked that hit. Still not focusing on the game, ignoring his sisters harsh yell at him. He'll talk to her later, this was more important.

"How's your girlfriend doing ? Brown right ?" His face was cracking a bit, anger seeping through. "Do you keep her satisfied ? Girls love it when a real man can do his job."

Draco chuckled to himself. "Hermione sure does." An wiped his lower lip with his thumb lazily.

He didn't miss the way Weasley chocked on his spit, cursing loudly through the hole pitch.

"You fucking-" Ron made a move forward, flying closer to Draco, his intentions to strangle the traitor. He almost reached him when a crack was heard. As if someone's broom got brutally split in two.

He didn't realize it was him falling off of his broken broom, hit by a badger, when it was already too late. He twisted in the air, losing the battle with simple physics and soon lost the grip on the brand-new but now completely broken broom.

He only caught a satisfied sneer on Malfoy's face, a threat was made clear but Ron already passed out. Later when the read-headed boy was taken away, Draco complemented Blaise on his accuracy, both boys left for the showers, satisfied smirks on their faces.

~

Hermione was walking slowly through the library, the girl following her, a stack of books in her trembling hands. Hermione took one off of the top, putting it up in the right direction, watching it float up into its place. It was a relaxing job.

"So, is there anything you would like to tell me ?" Hermione carefully approached the subject.

Seeing the girl stumble a bit, almost dropping the books in the ground, reminded her of Neville. She took a few more off of the pile, silently laughing at Elladora's embarrassed face.

"N-Not really." The lie was so poor, even a dumb person could smell the bullshit. After a stern look Hermione gave to her she swallowed and waited until they put all the books in their right places.

"I-I guess, there's s-something- I promised." She silently cursed when they were face to face sitting further back. " - please promise me that you'll help me."

"Of course I will, darling, that's my job. Protecting you." She put a reassuring hand on Elladora's one and smiled, now a true smile. "I've done it since first year, actually." They laughed quietly.

"I promise, I'll do everything in my power and more to help."

After a few long minutes of nervous debating, Elladora finally spoke. Her dark brown eyes, looked deeply into Hermione's.

"It's not about me- I mean- I didn't get hurt. I-It's about someone else." She whispered as if she was afraid to even speak of the name. "Someone you keep really close to you."

~

Lavender Brown rushed towards the hospital wing, her hair flying everywhere. Her heart was beating fast and her hands were shaking.

She neared the door and stormed in, immediately spotting her boyfriend on the bed, withering in pain. His cries were the loudest in the huge empty infirmary. She kneeled beside his bed, taking his hand in hers, stroking it gently.

"Oh my, Ronniekins, does it hurt ?" Her overly sweet voice made the nurse nearby cringe.

"Of course it fucking does, you bloody cow." He said through his clenched teeth, holding his forearm.

Lavender swallowed the hurt, already used to it, besides, he was talking like that only because he was in tremendous pain. She looked around the room finally, seeing the people who were present.

Ginny was standing a bit closer, her scowl never leaving her face and near the door lingered Blaise Zabini who didn't look guilty in slightest. His arrogance showed on his face, content with sight before him. He wasn't here because he felt guilty, Merlin no, he was here because he needed to wait for headmistress.

"You." Brown pointed at him, accusingly. "What did you do ? Are you out of you mind ?" She stood up, ignoring the whine from Ron when she moved his right hand, which was broken.

"You could've killed him !" She came closer to him and he lifted an eyebrow at her.

"Sadly, I didn't, now if you don't know how Quidditch is played and what dangerous game it is." He looked bored. "I cannot help you here, Brown." He turned and left, seeing that McGonagall didn't have time for these childish games and won't show up. At least he agreed with her on this matter.

"Stop right there, hey you-"

"Shut up !" Ginny didn't hold back, ignoring the nurse who hushed her while tending the other student and then leaving with him, clinging to her hand.

"Shut up, Lavender, it's not Zabini's fault." Ginny rolled her eyes.

Lavender looked scandalized and shocked, Ron would protest too but his face was twisted and he looked ready to puke his guts out. She spluttered and huffed, her hands folded on her chest.

"Or what ? You're their slut now huh, like that traitor Hermione ?" Brown looked up and down at Ginny who had to control herself not to slap the blond. "Didn't take you too long."

"Shut your hole, Brown, or I swear to Merlin I'll knock your teeth in. How dare you compare me to her?" Ginny was slightly higher than Lavender so that made the blonde girl cower away. "Now walk away before you talk more shit you'll regret." She turned around and went to look for Madam Pomfrey with Ron's potion. It seems that no one's working today or at least weren't interested enough t help the students.
 
Lavender huffed again, her worried look fell on Ron again and she sat on his bed. She moved to hold his bruised but not broken hand but he moved it away as quickly as he could being in pain. Hurt flashed on her face but was quickly replaced by a loving smile.

"You should leave, Lav." He looked away from her, anger mixed with agony in his voice. "Go before I say something we both know you won't like." He tried to move away from her and her smile flattered.

"W-What ? I-I don't... understand, Ronniekins." Her nervous chuckle angered him more.

"I said, fucking leave." His angry eyes scared her, not the first time he frightened her. "Come back when you'll be useful." Ron almost spat at her.

"What do I have to do for you to love me ?" She stood up and with tear filled eyes asked him. "Why don't you love me !" Her voice got louder.

"Because you're not her !" He yelled in her face then groaned in pain when he moved, his skin was already covered in purple patches.

"Fuck you, Ron, fuck you." She wiped away her tears that escaped and ran away, sobbing into her hand with her heart broken. Her footsteps echoing and then a door slam followed.

"You're such an arsehole, Ron, mum would be disappointed if it weren't for your fucking galleons." Ginny said with a small bottle in her hand, puke-green substance in it.

"Shut up and give me that bloody thing." He cursed under his nose and she scoffed at his pathetic attempt to threaten her. "You threatened her too."

Ginny lifted her hand with the potion it and looking straight into his eyes, she let go of it. It smashed on the ground, a sound echoing the empty room. Some of the goo splashing on her black shoe. His face, filled with so much agony and rage was worth it.

"Get it yourself."

She turned around and walked out, ignoring his shouts at her, cursing and then finally pleading.

~

"Someone close to me ?" Hermione repeated her words, head tilted to one side slightly. Elladora nodded her head, confirming her worlds.

"I-It happened some time ago, I was walking down the corridors a-and I heard someone yelling and cursing." She rubbed her hands together, warming them up. "And I knew I already had to be sleeping by then but I just wanted to get this one book I saw and I came around the corner."

Hermione wondered if she was talking about the same thing that Hermione was thinking about.

"And then I saw P-Pansy Parkinson and Harry there, they looked like they were in a heated argument. He seemed pissed at her, she kept pushing him. I couldn't make out much of what they were saying but I could see everything." She shrugged, her words stern, voice tense.

"But I could see him trying to calm her down and t-then he started to get angry, honestly I would mistake them for a couple." She chuckled nervously but fully knowing that there was nothing funny.

"One thing I could hear coming from him was 'I love you' and I could be mistaken but... "She trailed off and after hearing silence on Hermione's end she looked up. "Then Pansy, laughed... b-but it sounded mean."

Hermione's eyes looked murderous but her posture didn't change just the look gave the girl chills. She felt herself shiver just from the sheer power that Hermione projected.

"What happened next, Elladora ?" Hermione didn't waste her time, wanting to know everything.

Elladora knew what was coming and her words got caught in her throat, eyes turning glassy.

"I didn't know what to do, I-I'm really s-sorry..."She covered her face with her trembling hands, making Hermione put her hand on her shoulder, a reassuring gesture. "I got scared and they were drunk, I hoped she could run away, I truly did." She sobbed. "I'll end up in Azkaban because I-I'm a coward." Her cheeks were red and wet from all the tears, voice so regretful.

"Calm down, come on, breathe and tell me exactly what happened." Hermione pulled her arms apart gently and gave her a napkin. "I told you I will help you didn't I ? I can't do it, if I don't know everything that you do."

Elladora took a deep breath trying to calm down, tears still rolled down her cheeks bitterly.

"T-Then Ron, he uh, h-he joined them, he cursed and humiliated her right there. She looked at Harry for help I could tell." She gripped her skirt, crumpling it. "But he didn't pay any attention, just stared at the ground and then, uh, then Ron, he started to get physical and d-dragged Pansy up the stairwell."
The girl sobbed, some people who walked by stared but after catching Hermione's glare left immediately.

"Harry looked torn but then the screams started, I remember how she clawed and screeched... and he ran up too, t-then there was silence. I wanted to go there b-but my head felt dizzy, I-I was afraid." Now her eyes showed self-hatred mixed with sadness. "I should've done something, anything to help. I'm guilty just as much as those arseholes." She spit out and Hermione stood up. She dragged the girl up, gently of course, and hugged her like she did with Pansy.

For a while Elladora didn't react, only after a few minutes she hugged Hermione back, crying bitterly into her shoulder.

"It's not your fault, Elladora, do you hear me ?" Hermione whispered, she held the girl close, comforting and calming her down. The girl nodded and then they separated.

"Ron and Harry knew very well what they were doing and you know that too. Thank you for telling me this but you need to understand that we will have to go to McGonagall." That really wasn't a question, Elladora knew but she felt ready. She nodded again, pieces of her hair covering her puffy eyes. "I'll help you, we'll go together."

"They are no heroes of mine, they deserve to rot but I'm afraid no one will believe me because of that." She glared at the floor. Hermione hid her smirk very well.

"Not necessarily, it depends... What will you do to see them rot in Azkaban?" Hermione leaned back, folding her arms a daring look on her face, exactly knowing what Gryffindors liked to hear. A sick challenge, she knew.

"Anything."
 
~

Lavender exited, well, more like stormed through the door, her cries echoing. She turned the corner and went down the small steps, leading to empty, unused space with windows displaying the waters below them.

She sat on the steps, crying into her hands, sad sounds filling the cold air. The scene was so familiar.

"Weaselbee must've fucked up pretty hard huh ?" She was startled by a cold voice behind her, making her jump.

Lavender turned around to find Draco standing there, his hands crossed on his chest, leaning against the wall. He was now wearing expensive all-black robes instead of his uniform. You couldn't even tell he was exercising a few hours ago. His head was tilted to the side, his stone-cold face masking the mockery of his words.

"What do you want, you freak ?" Lavender demanded, making him look un-impressed with the words she used. Oh how unoriginal. He lifted up his arms in fake-surrender.

"Not brining any arm here, Weasley took care of it already as I see." He lowered his arms and his smirked when her glare flattered, eyes turning glassy again.

"Y-You don't know a-anything." He voice was comically unsure which humored him even more. "E-Everything's okay, better than okay you got it ? He l-loves me..." She puffed and wiped away her tears. Looking up at him she was taken aback by a concerned look on his face.

"Is it though ? Because I hear some nasty words every time the bloke looks at some girls, Merlin, even I know boundaries." His disbelieving tone made her crumble a bit. "Let me guess, he disappears for long periods of time, avoids talking about your future, doesn't' pay attention..." Draco trailed off, as if he was bored.

Lavender wrapped her hands around herself but she felt cold, oh so cold. She didn't know if the sound was her heart breaking or did she step on a piece of glass.

"Y-You're lying..." She shook her head but checked every box of his listed things. He came closer, silently and carefully, she felt like she was pressed into a corner.

"Listen, Brown, I won't pretend I came here to comfort you, we both know I'm not capable of that." She wiped away her tear, breath shuddering at cold and truthful words. "But what I can offer you is a deal." She looked up at the word 'deal'.

So he peaked her interest. Draco put his hands in the pockets of his trousers, slowly walking around Lavender, circling her. She felt like death was crawling up her spine. Then he stopped in front of her, making her back up.  Smart choice.

"What deal ?" Her voice was uncharacteristically weak and hushed.

"The one where we both win, of course." He huffed out a breath. "You want Weasley glued to your hip at all times right, not looking at anyone else, not desiring Granger..."

He trailed off, seeing that he hit right where she was the weakest. Her breathing changed to erratic and her eyes became clouded by anger. Lavender's clutched hands at her sides twitched with green feeling seeping in her veins.

Of course her problem was with Hermione, not that her boyfriend couldn't keep it in his pants. Pathetic, Draco thought to himself.

"I want Hermione for all to myself so, naturally, Weasley is a threat for me right ?" He was no threat, let's be honest. Draco was indeed laughing loudly inside but outside his face was worried and thoughtful.

"So I have a deal for you, Brown, the only question is, what would you do to keep your Ron to yourself ?" His smile was menacing and scary.

Despite what people think Lavender wasn't dumb. Deep down she knew this was a trap but when you get your heart shattered by the one person you have, hatred clouds your sight. Love is more dangerous than death, love can turn you into something you once feared yourself.

She hesitated for a moment but then her jealousy won and it doomed her from moment she uttered that word.

"Anything."

~

Hermione waited patiently, her fingers drumming against the table where she sat, waiting for a lesson to end. She drummed and drummed and drummed. So much that even the person beside her moved away slightly, feeling the dark aura around her.

Hermione was angry, no not angry, annoyed more. Perhaps it was the fact the Pansy didn't say everything that there is to know and annoyed because she didn't see Draco since the early morning but she felt him. He was too feeling annoyed but triumph swept her body too. She wondered what did he do now.

When the lesson finally ended, Hermione wasted no time and left quickly but slowed down when she got closer to two boys walking in front of her.

"Did you hear that Weasley got knocked down today ?" Her interest was piqued.

"Yeah, Zabini knocked him straight down, he's in bed right know, his leg and arm broken, or so my sister told me." The shorter boy said, they looked like they tried to whisper but she could clearly hear everything they were saying. "She told me that he hasn't stopped screaming and cursing. He's quite spoiled lad isn't he ?"

"Merlin, what a wanker, my parents don't believe that he and Potter will change anything in Ministry." The taller one, with lighter skin but darker hair said, shrugging. "Don't tell anyone but I think that they are just two power-seeking hero wannabes, showing off their riches." They both nodded their heads.

"Not like, Granger, she's basically un-noticed, like a real superhero that I've read about in muggle books." Hermione was surprised to say the least and she almost tripped, not expecting that at all.

"Yeah, she looks even happier without those two, I bet she was the brain of all their missions, without her they would be nothing, we wouldn't even be alive." He laughed a little but it wasn't a mocking laugh, more desperate and sad.

"Maybe she could run for the Minister's position." Once again they both agreed, nodding their head and then wondered off, talking about something of importance to them.

Hermione stood there, slightly shocked and with her mouth slightly agape. Things were catching up to her faster than she thought. Fixing her posture, she moved again but now slower. Minister ?

"Hermione !" She heard behind her, a voice she expected to find.

She halted once again, and turned to greet Pansy. She ran up to Hermione, a small smile on her face. Her eyes didn't look so sad anymore which was a good thing, she supposed but now they filled with worry.

"You won't believe who asked me to the ball-" She stopped, noticing the hard look Hermione directed at her. "What's wrong ? Why do you look like you're-"

"Come with me." Hermione said, her demanding voice interrupting Pansy. The look in her eyes sent shivers down Pansy's spine. She hurried to follow, without any more words spoken.

They entered through the portrait to the Prefect's common room, Hermione first, expecting Pansy to follow. And she did, of course. Dropping her bag on the coffee table Hermione sat down on the arm-chair and Pansy thought how eerily it reminded her of a throne. The girl sat on the big sofa, in front, the size of it making Pansy small.

"What's going on ?" Pansy was nervous. "Is something wrong ?"

"You know me by now, Pans, I don't jump to conclusions." The nickname sounded anything but friendly. "So I will make this quick." Pansy's heart drummed against her ribcage, her hands were shaking because she felt the tension crackling in the air.

"You either tell me what's going on between you and Harry Potter or I'll be forced to take away your memories right this moment." The words sounded plain but the meaning stood.

Pansy looked down at her folded hands but strangely, and to Hermione's surprise, didn't cry or cower away that much.

"I wish you wouldn't ask me this but I guess this had to come up someday, right ?" She was asking no one in particular. Hermione was silent and ready to listen.

"I fell for Harry this summer. We met couple times, I was, of course, hateful at first but the war broke me as much as it broke him. My parents they... well me and him have familiar stories let's just say that." She shrugged.

"I didn't plan for it to evolve to anything but casual meet ups but then we both made a move, I thought that we could forgive each other for the past and move on. But then final school year started." She looked really regretful, her eyes portrayed her tired soul it seemed. "And I chose to come back with him, despite the eerie feeling in my gut warning me not to."

"It went downhill from there. During the summer Harry told me he loved me, how he'll move on from Ginny. His excuse as to why he was still going out with her was because she lost so much, he lost so much  and I understood that, I did, I'm not a monster." She chuckled bitterly at the irony. Who was the monster now ?

"One month turned into three, and then almost half of the year gone, that's why I was so silent and non-existent. We met up in secret, classrooms, halls, we would talk and laugh and love... What a load of bullshit was that." Pansy scoffed, picking at her nails.

"Then I overheard him talk with Weasley and how he said that Ginny was waiting for a courting gift and Harry said soon, and I quote, 'I just have to get rid of someone'." Hermione's hand clenched, knuckles turning white.

"So I realized that I deserved so much better. I wasn't about to waste my life waiting around for Harry fucking Potter to make a choice. So I met up with him that one evening, he was drinking, I could tell, but at the time I couldn't care less." Now her eyes were wet but she refused to cry, blinking.

"I said that it was done, I wished him good luck and wanted to get out of there but then he went wild on me, saying that he would end it if I leave him, being the cold person I am, I said go ahead." Hermione was listening closely, her eyes hard.

"T-Then he grabbed me and I would've never guessed that Harry would do something like this. That he would let Weasley or anyone to do something like that to another person. He violated me as much as Ron did, just standing there and hearing me beg." Hermione's own eyes watered.

"I was laying there, bleeding out and thinking that this is how I'll die, that I deserve to die like this after all that I've done... but also realized that I wanted to live, I wanted to breathe and have a family, little dream house and a husband who would adore me." It broke Hermione's heart, hearing the spoken words, recognizing the dream.

"And you were the one who saved me, out of all people that night, you two were the ones who were there." Pansy moved closer to Hermione, taking her hands into her trembling ones. "You made me realize how blessed I am, Hermione."

"I felt ashamed about how weak and naive I was, that's why I didn't tell you what happened. Please, forgive, Hermione, don't take away the family that you gave me." She pleaded and Hermione hugged Pansy. Both girls embraced each other, Pansy breathing out a sigh of relief.

"I'm sorry, Pans, I'm so sorry." Hermione's emotion were a wreck today she realized. "You have us, Pansy, you have a family and I will be dammed if anyone tries to hurt the one I care about." She pulled away and smiled a teary smile. Pansy did the same.

Pansy finally could say that she felt happy for the first time in her life. She felt safe.

~

"Will this really help me ? Really ?" Lavender looked uncertain at the bag in her hands. Her eyes showed hope and slight fear, her voice small.

"I mean, if you're scared, you can give those back and run to your Won-Won who's eyeing Hannah Abbot in the Great Hall right about now." She looked at Draco who seemed bored out of his mind, looking at his nails.

Her eyes flashed for a moment and then she huffed out a breath of air, her hands shaking a little. Draco pushed away from the wall he leaned on and shrugged and taking the little bag.

"Shame, really." He turned to leave and stopped when she let out a yelp, of sorts.

"S-Stop- I-I... I'll take it." When he didn't turn around she whimpered and clenched her hands at her sides. "Please."

He turned around and smiled a sly smile, but to her it looked like a pitiful one. Lavender's eyes were full of tears and she snatched the bag out of his hand and held it closer to her.

Draco scoffed, turned around again and left not saying a word to her. 'What an idiot.', he thought. She looked around the empty space around her and left shortly after him, both of them couldn't be seen talking, not if she wanted Ron back.

Lavender hurried down towards the Great Hall, her hands clutching the bag against her chest, her heart beating fast. She slowed down when she neared the door, some students coming and going but the majority were eating their dinner. She stood there in the middle and looked around.

Malfoy sat at his table watching her, a daring look on his face pressured her more, next to him was that arse Blaise and surprisingly Hermione herself. Both of them looked at her, as if they were judging her, waiting for her to fail. Not today, she thought.

"What did you do ?" Hermione turned and asked him her harsh whispering made him smirk. She used that line way too much. She knew he did something but wasn't quite sure what. 'A present' he said to her when she sat down at the Slytherin's table

"Just watch and enjoy the show." He kissed her cheek and leaned back on his seat, his eyes fixed on the blonde girl standing there, one hand around Hermione's shoulders. They made it look like they were sitting on a throne, watching a jester before them waiting for it to make them laugh.

Her breathing stopped when she noticed her Ron sitting there, his casted right hand around some bitch she couldn't recognize. Her nostrils flared and her eyes burned when the green feeling returned, clouding her hopes and dreams.

Lavender opened the small bag and took the three black berries in her right palm, coughing a bit. Lavender looked up at her love, some people already giving her strange looks, noticing her tear-stricken face.

"Ron Weasley !" She called out to him, her loud yell echoing through the packed hall. Hearing his name he looked up and so did everyone else. He stood up slowly, an angry look on his face, ready to yell at her to leave him be.

"You promised me forever, you promised me you will never leave me, not for that traitor Hermione, not for anyone else." Her anger projected in her voice, her face red and wet from the tears. She didn't noticed how at the end of the hall all Professors stood up too, knowing that this won't end well for anyone.

"I gave you my life, Ron, I gave you my love and I never told to single living soul about the things you've done, not about how you abuse your sister, not about those poor girls-" She heard gasps around her and saw how Ron moved to stand, his one leg in a cast making him  sway a bit.

"Shut your trap, Lavender, if you know what's good for you." Ginny's face was white as a sheet of paper and Harry's expression looked blank. He seemed out of it.

She shook her head at him, raising her hand in the air, not enough to lose the berries.

"This right here will help us, Ronniekins, this will help you to see that you love me and only me. You made me do this, Ron Weasley." She smiled a pitiful smile.

"We'll be together," She whispered. "Forever."

"Miss Brown,-"

"Lav, don't-"

"Are those Nigh-"

She ignored all of those voices, her jealousy drowning her and corrupting her mind completely. Lavender lowered her hand to her mouth and took the black berries, after chewing them she swallowed.

At first nothing happened and she thought that this was just a joke on her, her broken smile flattered though, when she felt a pang in her stomach. Then her mouth started to burn, in fact her whole throat was burning as if she swallowed fire. Her head was dizzy and her sight blurry, making her sway a bit on her feet. She giggled and giggled then it turned into crying, sobbing and finally screaming out of pain. 

Red color painted her mouth shortly, making her gasp out for air. The sweet taste of berries replaced with metallic and rusty one. Her throat, no, her body it burned, she felt like everything around her was set on fire. Poison slowly traveled in her veins, murdering her. Lavender grasped at her throat, her nails digging into her skin, drawing out red, nasty marks.

She coughed up dark colored liquid which splattered on the stone floor. No one moved, not single soul helped the poor girl since everyone were in shook.

Her knees hit the ground soon, making the sick sound when her whole body connected with the ground. Blood soaking up in her curly blonde hair, making it a rich color of red. The sound of her sobbing-screaming mixing with the gurgling blood in her mouth sounded as if it came from hell itself.

Like my Ron, was her last thought before the burning fire within her swallowed her and took her last drops of life. Then there was silence, defining silence.

Her eyes, oh her eyes, they were blank, lifeless and cold. Her skin turned porcelain white quickly. But the blood it turned black like coal, slowly spreading around the floor, half of it soaking up in her clothes.

The empty eyes looked at Ron Weasley who was at loss of words, his mouth covered by his hand and soon he turned around to vomit on the ground. McGonagall rushed with other Professors on her heels towards the girl but it was too late, they were too late.

Even if they were yelling at each other about what to do, everyone heard only silence, a deadly silence, promising them more.

No mercy, Draco thought.

Chapter Text

 

14.

 

CORONA

 

 

Ron Weasley was in deep shit and he knew it. He sat there , waiting and waiting, not daring to flee, which in retrospect was a smart choice. He couldn't even if he tried, being bound to the chair by his broken leg and his arm and all that.

Ron smelled like sweat mixed with grease, the taste of his vomit still present in his mouth. He glared at the stone floor of McGonagall's office, his healthy leg bouncing up and down from all the nerves. The sight of lifeless body belonging to Lavender wouldn't leave his mind, her hollow and empty eyes staring at him, piercing his dark soul. It reminded him of Fred.

He waited and waited, chewing on his nails till the skin started to bleed and itch uncomfortably, making him twist his hands in his hair after that, ripping some of it out. He felt caged like an animal.
 
He jumped in his seat at the sudden sound of the doors opening when McGonagall returned with Aurors, the Heads of the houses and other important people from the Ministry on her tail, including Shacklebolt.

Ron cowered in his seat when he was pierced by a glare from his former teacher. Her eyes showed nothing but disappointment and anger, there was a hint of hate too. Ron's heart was beating fast and he was sure he was white as a sheet of paper, the fear creeping up behind him. What if they know ?

"Ronald Weasley," He heard his name coming from Kingsley Shacklebolt, who cleared his throat after wards. "Due the circumstances that occurred and previous allegations of you behavior in Hogwarts School I'm afraid you'll be suspended from your school work and privileges that were given to you." His dark eyes pinned Ron down, but he was nervous as well,  Ron could tell. "Including leaving the school's grounds."

"But I didn't do anything,  sure as hell didn't kill Lavender, why would I kill my girlfriend ?" His desperate voice cracked at the end. His fake tears didn't fool anyone present in the room.

"You should be grateful, Mr. Weasley, that they didn't arrest you today," McGonagall dared to interrupt the minister, her stern and strong voice canceling Shacklebolt's.
"Only letting you go with a light punishment and that's all thanks to your participation in the war but let this be a warning, my dear boy, it won't happen again." Ron was breathing hard and his left palm clenched into a fist, knuckles white.
"As well as not being able to leave the school grounds, you're not allowed to play in the matches of Quidditch and attend The Christmas Ball or other gathering expect those that are related to school."

He scoffed and buried his head in his hands, anger rising inside. His whole future depended on those Quidditch matches. Fuck this. Fuck Hermione. "Ah yes, you're also dismissed from your Perfect duties, that'll be it."

Then one of the Head-Aurors spoke. "The investigation will be proceeded quietly and considering that you're of legal age, your parents won't be accountable for your actions, Mr. Weasley. There will be two Aurors near you at all times." The man's voice, Ron didn't know who this man was, was deep and automatic, almost emotionless.

"Mr. Weasley, as of today you're the primary suspect of Lavender Brown's suspected murder and a suspect of a few accounts of sexual assault."

Yeah, Ron Weasley fucked up.

~

The walk back after the dinner was deafening, no one made a single sound, no one talked.

Draco had to hide his sick smile to himself when he felt the same power rushing through him, just from seeing the mass hysteria and reaction to his spectacle.

It turned out exactly as he planned, Brown didn't disappoint fro once in her short life. Brava to her for adding the theatrics and the whole speech, it was sure a great show in the end. And how easy was it to manipulate the poor girl, her action were more predictable than anyone else's.

Hermione stayed silent too, her face not showing any emotions, natural and calm. She comforted some first-years crying in the corner and whispered comforting words to a few boys who got lost in the process of going back to their dorms. She was helping.

Her kindness irked Draco greatly but he supposed he couldn't do anything about it. A selfish need to have her for himself only was bearing... for now. He did caught her gaze directed towards him a few times too. Hermione's eyes betraying an emotion he couldn't name yet, since it was gone before he could look closer into it, replaced by a gentle look.

He did his job too, taking care of his house and directing all of them back to the dungeons, not bothering to pretend to care about the disturbed ones. He left that job to Pansy and Blaise who were confused about the whole ordeal but did their job as well. They'll figure it out one way or another, Draco knew that.

Draco was eager to return after everything has been handled, already nearing their shared space. He stopped in his tracks when he saw Hermione standing in front, already waiting for him. Her posture still calm and relaxed, back straight and shoulders lowered. He narrowed his eyes at her, not letting his guard down just yet.

Once they both walked through the portrait Hermione wasted no time and took Draco by his necktie and dragged him up against the wall, pressing her body against his, trapping him. He lifted an eyebrow at her actions, surprised at her strength more than ever. He was about to ask her about it but his lips were covered by hers instantly, silencing him.

Draco's arms sneaked around her middle, lifting her off of the floor slightly, just enough for her toes to touch the ground. His hand lowering to cover her backside, finger tightening roughly. Her heartbeat quickened when she felt him deepen the kiss, eager to get a response from her too.

Then she pressed her hands on his chest and pushed herself away, not too far but not close either. Their heavy breathing mixing together and his smirk never left his face. Her eyes flashed at him when he looked at her up and down, then when he opened his mouth to speak again she smacked him. Hard.
 
The sound echoing through the space and his head tuned a little, just a bit. Draco scoffed at that and massaged the side of his face where her finger made contact, locking eyes with her again. He was impressed.

"I take it you enjoyed the show ?" The twisted words made her smirk at him and she came closer to him again, now her hand sneaking around his shoulders and the other pressed on his cheek where she slapped him.

"Plan something like that behind my back again and I'll make sure your balls will be framed above the fireplace." She smiled a sick smile again and not giving him the time of the day and kissed him once again. Only now she didn't stop, nor did he. Her hungry kisses driving him up the walls and causing a hurricane in his mind.

Draco understood the 'thank you' in the kiss quite well. She did enjoy the show after all.

~

Surprisingly, the Christmas Ball wasn't canceled.

Maybe, and just maybe, it was because Hermione stepped into McGonagall's office the day after of the unfortunate event and convinced that it would be for the best. Get students happy again. ''Lavender would've wanted this, trust me." She said and it worked.

With wary but trusting and quite frankly tired out eyes the headmistress agreed, sighing deeply and letting Hermione control the preparations. Minerva trusted the girl the most out of everyone, especially now. Harry Potter was nowhere to be found.

She wondered what happened to once kind and sweet boy like Ron Weasley. Was it glory ? Jealousy ? It was tragic what she saw in front of her. Of course, she didn't think he could've done those things... he couldn't possibly. But these days she wasn't so sure.

Now keeping an eye on him was quite difficult, the boy wasn't as dense as it seemed. He did, in fact, know all the secret passages, all the castle tricks. Besides she had other things to do, still not believing that the accusations were true.

She decided to leave it alone for a while, at least until the Christmas Ball passed, he wasn't allowed to attend that either way. McGonagall will keep that headache for the Aurors to take care of.

~

Hermione thrived in the panic and chaos that followed the accident. It seemed like she was standing in the middle of the game board, having all the trumps while everyone around her seemed to crumble down.

Many people were already spreading rumors about Ron and Harry, many people also turned their backs on the Golden Boys really fast, especially on Ron. Now the duo walked separately and alone, like she once did. The tension was obvious between two friends, besides that people were starting to catch on, asking the right questions silently.

Hermione smirked at that, her hands were folded and she stood confidently on the ground while she watched as Harry Potter's fan club crumbled between his hands. Still, some were so brain-washed that they ignored all the facts and still blindly worshiped the boy-who-lived.

Ron on the other hand, not so much. He lost all his fan-girls, that once were hanging off of him and no one seemed to believe the bullshit was spreading around. He was always angry and shouting, being aggressive towards anyone who looked at him wrong. Sure, nothing was proven and most of the look were similar to pity but his behavior didn't help him that much. Also the obvious Aurors always standing in the room where he was located.

Now when she thought about it, Ron wasn't seen around as much as usual, it seemed as if he was hiding, ashamed perhaps. Which disappointed Hermione but didn't leave her surprised. Deep down, knowing that the humiliation was eating him alive, Hermione knew that soon he will do something, she hoped it'll work too.

On the day of The Christmas Ball, everyone seemed to be too preoccupied to even notice anything around them. Some were adding a few things to their outfits, some were just hanging out, gossiping about couples around them.

Having been in the same position a few years back, Hermione knew exactly how on the edge Ginny Weasley was. She knew the girl was probably running around, getting ready and adding extra touches to her dress. Ginny wasn't focusing on anything else besides looking perfect, an official appearance with famous Harry Potter after all, almost engaged an all that.

Yes, in fact, he did give her the courting gift, a few days after Lavender's death, to cheer her up. That was a mistake on his part though. So naturally the whole school knew about the 'engagement'.  And Merlin did she show it off, never once was seen without the bracelet on her wrist, bragging and bragging. She talked about it so much that she even would sometimes choke up and have a coughing fit.

It made Hermione laugh out loud.

~

Harry Potter felt like he was trapped in a box, like he was back at his hole under the stairs.  He didn't know where did things go so wrong. Well, that's not entirely true, he knew that things went downhill in his life when he invited Pansy Parkinson on a date, despite having a girlfriend or maybe the moment when he decided that breaking Hermione's trust was good idea or even when he was born.

He very well knew that his parents would be disappointed if they were alive, they would scold him and perhaps help him but sadly alive they were not.

His mind couldn't focus in anything these days, fear always creeping up behind him. His memory suffered these days more and more, he was forgetting little details for awhile but lately it's been huge chunks of his days, of his life. Someone's at fault he knew that much.

This feeling was entirely different from Voldemort, he knew what he faced back then. They always had a plan, an army, he had friends and now he didn't have neither of those. He managed to lose his life, saw it crumble in her hands, her fault, his fault, his fault...

What he did was pretend that everything was fine, that they were fine. Ron couldn't possibly be responsible for Lavender's death and that thing with Pansy was just his imagination while being influenced by cheap liquor. It. Didn't. Happen. Surely, his mind was only stressed enough to make up those things right ?

The paranoia drove him insane but he managed to hide it well enough from the public, he pretended to be hero after all. But he knew. Oh, he knew that Hermione saw the real him, she always did. And every time he dared to look at her he feels the same death stench surround him.

He ignored it as best as he could. He was Harry Potter, for fuck sake's, the boy who lived. He won the war, destroyed the most evil dark wizard of their generation. Why was he so afraid of some girl ? Maybe, Harry thought, because she wasn't some stupid girl.

Ginny seemed like the only thing he could grab on in his life now days, and even then he felt like she was always looking for a way to humiliate him and control him. And it worked. Not being able to remember small things made him scared so Ginny was his only reassurance, he didn't have a choice. Not this time.

Of course he was foolish enough to think that that stupid bracelet will be enough for her. Laced with real gold it was not brilliant enough for the girl. 'Am I not good enough to you, Harry ?' She accused him only to have him beg on his knees for her to come back. She did the next day.

And Ron, well he didn't talk with him for a while now, his friend disappeared after his girlfriend's death . Harry felt as if Ron was always lashing out on everyone that walked past him or was always drunk with some girl on his arm. Of course his best friend couldn't possible hit his sister, both of the siblings denied it, it was just Lavender's stupid accusations.

He found somewhere deep inside him to trust the duo but the image flashing in his mind, of him shoveling his grave deeper, made him hesitate just a tad bit.

~

Finally on the day of the Ball, Hermione looked at herself in the mirror, admiring her work. The dress she and Luna picked out was indeed something new to her but daring too. Complete opposite look comparing to her Yule Ball dress all those years ago. Instead of the naive little girl stood a woman with new but healed wounds, her eyes held a hard but gentle look at the same time, no doubt laced with mischief and power.

Her black as midnight gown was floor-length, laced sleeves ending below her elbows and a bare back made her feel exposed a bit more than necessary but beautiful. Her long loose and neatly wavy hair covered most of her back, reaching her mid-waist. Small scattered diamonds shining on strands of her hair made her look magical.  She felt powerful looking like this, ready to get a message across the whole school and even world if needed.

Her nerves did built up about one thing though. As she walked down the staircase, she bit her lip, thinking about Draco's reaction to her look. She stopped at the last step, noticing his back turned to her. She cleared her throat, making him turn to look at her immediately.

Her nerves completely melted at the look he gave her. His eyes were darker than usual and they held a look only a predator could have while looking at his prey. If someone would've have seen it, they would have to look away just form the sheer intimacy it held. He walked closer to her. Stepping off the last step she waited for him to close down on her. Hermione's black heels not giving her enough height to be eye-to-eye with him.

At his silence and his eyes darting up and down her body she spoke up. "Well, do you like it ?" He looked into her eyes and smirked.

"It would even more beautiful on the floor but I don't complain when I receive a blessing." His gaze got caught on her blood-red colored lips. She felt her cheeks flush and smiled at him, then she noticed a black box in his hand. He lifted it up and opened it, showing her what's inside.

"Since we already completed our bond and now courting you is just a fun bonus, I thought it would be a nice touch to show that you're mine to everyone, finally." He shrugged and at her stunned expression he smirked. "As I said, a proper courting gift, nothing but best for Malfoys."

He took out a beautiful silver bracelet, the form of it shaped a dragon, his scales moving slightly, becoming alive in his hands. Draco took her hand gently and moved the bracelet towards her wrist. The dragon moved and warped itself around, fitting her perfectly and breathing out actual smoke out of his nostrils. It looked ancient but modern at the same time, no doubt expensive and rich. Nothing but best for the Malfoys...

She was still silent, her mouth slightly open and her eyes wide. It looked just right on her wrist, like it belonged to her all this time. She looked up at him and smiled, reaching up to kiss him. He wrapped his and around her waist and pulled her closer.

"If this is a way of proposing in the magical world my answer is yes." She kissed him again and then pulled away, making Draco let out an annoyed sight. "I have something too."

He looked at her weirdly and then replaced it with interest when she summoned a small ring box in her hand. Opening it she showed it to him and he felt that thing again in his chest.

His heart.

In the box lay a ring, shaped like a snake. It's eyes glowing with green emeralds in them. He took it out and slid it on his right thumb. It was big in her hands but on his thumb it looked just right. He swore with his heart to never take it off.

He moved to kiss her, completely not giving a shit that they had to be at the Ball tonight. His intentions to get her back into their room were destroyed when she cleverly and swiftly moved aside and past him.

"Come on, Malfoy, the show awaits us." She laughed at his irritated look but he followed her without any complains, hooking her arm around his elbow. They strode the hall and everyone moved aside to let them through, no questions asked.
 
~

"You know, you should confront her, right now, while she feels safe beside her knight-in-shining-armor."

"How can I do that when every single move that I make is watched by that old hag. Don't be stupid as always."

"Since when does she order you around ? Come on, mate, you're a hero. No one can say no to you now."

"...She deserves to be hurt, right ? I mean, she ruined my life. That bitch."

"That's what I'm saying, she betrayed us. And the Ball is a great place to do it, think about it. The whole school is there, so many eyes and you're going to show them that you're innocent, she has to be destroyed."

"She's a dead girl walking with her little pet. That Death Eater scum."

"Humiliate her, show her who is the real hero, everyone will love you, Ron, they will worship the ground you'll spit on, trust me."

"Hermione will be begging for forgiveness."

~

The Grand Hall looked beautiful. It looked similar to Yule Ball but the space was more elegant and extravagant. The floor was enchanted to look like ice, reflecting back like a mirror but not slippery, of course.

Fake snowflakes landed on Pansy's shoulder and then disappeared, not leaving a wet spot like the real ones would. She stood next to Neville, who just ran to her, being a little late. Their hands conjoined and shy smiles on their faces.  But she felt happy for the first time in months, not thinking about the awful things that happened to her. Neville erased most of the hurt, being patient with her and she was grateful beyond the words. Damage was done but it was better.

They stood there talking and blushing like fools. Merlin, they looked like pathetic children.

Blaise and Luna, on the other hand, stood nearby and looked ready to pounce on each other. Especially Blaise who seemed like her puppy, following her every movement and obeying her every command. 'Whipped' Draco mocked, ignoring the fact that he was the exact same.  

All four of them got looks more than any other time, no one has ever seen them all together before, talking like they were life-long friends. Especially Neville who looked so softly toward the former Slytherin Princess.

Harry, who looked outraged and with Ginny hot on his toes, came up to Luna, grabbing her arm harshly, not looking at Neville. He made Luna stumble away from Blaise. "What do you think you're doing with him ?" He threw a nasty look at Blaise who looked ready to kill.

Blaise, in return, with a not-so-gentle force took Luna's hand out of Harry's grip and sneered at him, daring the scarred boy to touch his girl again. Luna just patted him on the chest and smiled at Harry and Ginny, who was busy staring at Neville and Pansy with a look of shock and... fear.

"Both of you are traitors, you hear me. You dared to become some kind of Slytherins' whore and betray me ? You think I'm that dumb. " Harry was causing a scene, ignoring the whispers around them, people weren't happy hearing these threats from the hero. "I will have you thrown out-" He stumbled on his words when Ginny tugged harshly on his arm, making him spin to look at her, eyes on fire.

"I told you before, Harry, you shouldn't have betrayed her."

Her gaze was fixed on the Grand door, exactly in front of them. He missed the snide smile on Luna's face and didn't notice when the four figures disappeared in the crowd. Ginny looked pale and felt like she was about to faint form the sight in front of her.

Harry looked towards the Grand door finally, noticing that everyone focused on that couple that walked in. Harry's whole body went numb when he saw them walking in. Merlin, they looked like they owned the place, he even felt like he should kneel before them. Not a chance.

Hermione was like a Goddess, darkly beautiful and enchanting, the matching black color of their robes looked elegant. Everyone felt the power radiating off of them, felt the admiration at the way he looked down at her and then dread when he looked at anyone else.

They looked un-destroyable.

He saw how satisfied Malfoy was, despite having a stone-cold face. Hermione, on the other hand, looked radiant, she walked confidently her eyes dark and unforgiving but a smile so shy and soft. Harry knew what hid behind that smile, he already knew the familiar venomous look in her eyes.

And now, it was directed at him.

~

They  knew exactly what they were doing. Both of them knew exactly what people were talking and whispering about as they walked in through the Grand doors, undoubtedly noticing the courting gift on her wrist, shining in the icy light. She normally would be annoyed by all the looks but today, on this special day, she tolerates the attention.

She saw them as soon as she walked in but pretended not to see them at first, saying hi to familiar faces and catching Elladora's stare, the girl was smiling. Hermione smiled back and winked at her. She knew the younger girl won't betray her, she made sure of that long ago.

Then, finally,  Hermione directed her gazed at the pair in front of them, that had guts to not move out of the way like everyone else. Hermione and Draco stopped in front of them, a fake smile on her face was bright.

"Hello, Harry, Ginny, you look beautiful today." Her nice tone of voice made Harry gulp. "Love the red dress, Ginevra, very original."

"Cut the bullshit, Granger, we're no friends, not anymore." Ginny was the first to find a voice. She stuttered a bit but made it through at the end. "You think you'll scare us with your little act here ? Not even close, everyone knows what kind of whore you are. " She spit out, loud enough to make people gasp at the words.

"Please don't make yourselves  look more pathetic, Ginny, and stop this childish insulting game. It's really unbecoming of you, really." Hermione gripped Draco's forearm, feeling his familiar desire to destroy creeping up again. He stayed put but his eyes looked ready to tear the youngest Weasley apart, Harry noticing that moved Ginny back a bit. "Oh well, have a nice evening you two, enjoy the show."

And then they walked past them, leaving the duo in shock. They looked behind them and stared at the retiring backs. Soon enough they stopped and talked with the teachers, next to the lining up choir. Their friends joining them out of nowhere, Harry noticed how Neville leaned in and whispered something in Hermione's ear, causing the girl to actually smirk and look back at Harry with the same look that brought death to shame. Ginny puffed and stormed away, coughing into her napkin harshly.

Harry felt like this was only the start of the chaos.

~

'Kill her' his broken mind whispered as he stepped over two dead bodies that belong to assigned Aurors.

~

The first dance was theirs, as McGonagall planned. Eyes never left them, their unusual group causing a huge interest. They glided through the dance floor, elegant and graceful. The snowflakes following them and swirling around them, it looked a like a scene from romance books, but Hermione knew well enough this wasn't a romance novel, far from it.

Their dance was slow but fast at the same time, soft but sharp edged. Draco twirled her around, their energy mixing together and when he pressed Hermione against him in a painful way, she smirked at him. Not caring if anyone knew what exactly her thoughts or his intentions were. This was their show and the audience was captured in their dark dance, ready to succumb.

After they finished, the hall erupted into applauses and cheers, both of them bowed, of course. Etiquette and all that.

She smiled, now a genuine smile, and Draco pulled her closer to him by her waist gently. Knowing it's his queue after he noticed familiar flick of red hair. He was about to kiss her for the grand finale but his move was interrupted by a loud yell.

"Sorry I'm late to the party." Ron Weasley stood in the crowd, with his torn clothes, what looks like blood smudged on his cheek. His leg still broken but no cast on his hand, instead a bottle of some kind of cheap liquor. He pointed his wand directly at Hermione and giggled like a maniac. "Hello there, 'Mione."

"Mr. Weasley what do you think you're doing ?" McGonagall yelled and stood up from her seat at the Professors' table. Ron just looked at her and sneered. "Shut it, you old hag. Dare to move and I'll blow up Miss Perfect here." He gestured to Hermione again.

Neville almost moved towards him but Blaise stopped him and gripped him forearm, this wasn't the how the plan was supposed to work their group knew that. Pansy disappeared while no one was looking, her wand gripped in her hand and Luna behind her.
Plan B it is.

"Ron, please, what are you doing ? Stop this madness."  Hermione didn't panic, her back was straightened out and her eyes were trying to capture his. Draco put his arm in front of her, a protective manner and Ron growled at that. Then he lifted  a bottle in his hand, took one last swig and smashed it against the icy floor, sound echoing and making people around him gasp, they backed away slowly from him.

"Ron, stop it this instant." Ginny whispered harshly at her side with Harry beside her, who looked torn and confused. "What do you think you're doing ?" She didn't dare to come closer to him, coughing into her hand.

Ron looked at his sister and quickly flicked his wand towards her. Small glass shards from the broken bottle flew towards the red-head but Harry managed to blocked most of them, reacting  fast. But one peace pierced her Ginny's skin and went flying somewhere behind them, leaving a red gash on her forearm. She gasped and clutched her wound, crying out in pain and making everyone gasp out of fear, moving further away from Ron.

"Piss off, dear sister, I'm doing something that I should've done long ago." He returned his gaze at Hermione and smiled a sick smile. "I will get rid of you once and for all and then I'll be the everyone's truest hero, loved and respected." He laughed again, his face red.

"We can talk this out, Ron, please. I know that you don't want to do this, it's just alcohol talking okay ?" Hermione put hand on her chest, her pleading tone ringing out. "Please, Ron."

"You're begging me to stop, how funny." He laughed mockingly. "Exactly what you did that night, and you look scared exactly like before." His face turned serious and cold, he walked closer to them, making Hermione walk backwards with Draco who tried to cover her body more.

Ron didn't like that so he threw his second spell, blasting them apart. Draco, knowing that he had to play his part, pretended to not react quickly let himself to be torn from her. But deep down he felt what was similar to dread when he saw her hit the ground away from him.

He knew, of course, that Hermione was in control and Ron didn't match her but what if...

Hermione fell down a bit further, near the steps leading to the Professors' table, who were shocked and restrained from doing anything, too risky, they would say. She gasped from the impact and supported her body with her hands, standing up slowly. Well, that hurt.

"Not so tough are you now, 'Mione ?" She gritted her teeth in annoyance, the nickname just won't disappear... She narrowed her eyes at him, her stance now confident and all that fake freight disappeared, this wasn't fun anymore.

Hermione cracked her neck and scoffed at Ron who was busy looking smug and then at her small laugh, confused. She heard Draco growling out of anger nearby, now accompanied by Blaise and Neville who were busy holding him back from ripping Ron's heart out in front of the whole school. She lifted her hand in the air, stopping anyone from coming closer and helping her. This was long way coming...

The windows inscribed with ice rattled, and the sudden gust of wind blew towards Ron, making him shiver and stumble a bit. Hermione stepped closer, her pose relaxed, the sound of her heels could be heard.

"Well, well..." She trailed off, her smirk laced with menace. "It seems you have found your bravery after all, Ronniekins, how cute. " His eye twitched at the familiar name. She circled him, his wand still pointed at her but he was panicking at her clamminess, she could tell.

"Ladies and gentlemen, Professors," Hermione addressed everyone in the room, her eyes scanning the crowd, the faces of shock, horror and interest were the most common ones. She gestured towards the man who was looking with uncertainty at her, his hand gripping the wand like his life depended on it. And it did.

"This man right here, is the monster you've been looking for." She walked slowly in circles, caging him in and making him sweat more. "Stay away from me or I will kill you." He yelled at her but she just scoffed. His shaky hand couldn't aim properly and the sweat running down his forehead made his eyes burn.

"You stupid, stupid boy," She stopped and tilted her head at the side in semi-curiosity. "Do you really think you could kill me ? Do you know who I am ?"

"I-I will, don't fucking test me-"

"Do it." She said, lifting her perfect eyebrow at him, a challenge. The silence was deafening, despite how many people were around them. "W-What ?" He wasn't prepared for this, this wasn't supposed to happen. She was supposed to beg and cry and, and-

"Do. It." Hermione waited and waited, everyone held their breaths, not knowing what would Ron Weasley chose to do. He was lost at what to do, licking his lips in nervousness and anxiety that weighted heavy on his shoulders. He caught Harry's gaze and it must've been the nerves that made him see Harry nodding his head 'yes'.

Hermione hummed, a disappointed sound, her blood-red lips pressed together. "Shame."

He sneered at her and spit out "Fuck you."

He lifted his arm with the wand gripped tightly, his mind made up. The green sparks were already forming at the end of his wand, above his head and he swung his arm at her, the deadly curse leaving his lips but-

There was nothing. She didn't slump on the floor, nor did she scream in pain. She just stood there and smiled a venomous smile at him. He looked horrified at his hand when the wand wasn't in his grip anymore. Ron looked around and heard the sound of the wooden stick hitting the cold floor, near her feet. Impossible.
 
"B-But you don't-"

"Have a wand ?" Hermione finished for him and her laugh echoed in the Hall."Few tricks I've picked from the books that you hate so much." Yet again there were whispers and shocked gasps, people taken by surprise at the turnout of the event.

"You, Ron Weasley, have made you bed already. This man right here is responsible for so many crimes that he deserves nothing more than death itself." She turned to look around at the people, while Ron slumped on his knees, knowing that there was no way back.

"I have been a victim of his crimes as well as other people here, in this school. Many of you completely ignored his heinous acts just because he was Harry Potter's best friend, part of the Golden Duo." She walked and looked everyone in the eyes, satisfied when they lowered their heads in shame. "You ignored his behavior and worshiped the ground that this monster walked on, knowing what he did to me and countless others girls here, knowing the lies and bullshit he was spitting at your faces'."

She walked closer to him, their eyes meeting and he saw his death in hers. "You ruined so many lives, Ron, but I decided to put a stop to this. You did this to yourself and now you will rot for this." He growled and spit at her feet, missing her dress and then looked up at everyone.

"She's lying, people, don't you see. She's just scared weak girl who didn't get our world, who never knew her place, she's, she's just a-a mudblood." He laughed manically, finger pointed towards her. He looked around, people shaking head at him and some in anger. Ron looked pleadingly at his best friend but Harry just looked horrified. "Harry knows right, Harry ? You know what we did. You know what a traitor she is, what she did to us. You chose me over her, you believe me, me, me..." He laughed, his tone desperate. 

"I-Is it true, Hermione ?" McGonagall finally spoke. Coming down the steps closer to the scene. Hermione turned to look at her and Minerva knew just from the look in the girl's eyes. McGonagall shook her head and covered her lips with her fingers. Everything happened under her nose and no one talked, no one said anything.

"It's true." A voice rang out from the crowd but it wasn't Hermione's. "Ron Weasley raped me and Harry Potter helped him do it." Pansy stood in front with Luna beside her then she came forward, her eyes giving Harry a glare. Some people left, some just felt sick at the revelation and other were spitting curse words. Ron was falling apart in front of them, rocking back and forth, shaking his head.

Pansy came closer to Hermione who smiled at the girl and looked the crowd. "What this monster did to Pansy and me, and Merlin knows who else, is unforgiving, he abused his power long enough and now he has to pay-"

Hermione wanted to continue but yet another voice interrupted her.

"H-He did it to me too." A younger, much younger girl came out from the cried, her friends holding her hands while she sobbed. A few other girls stepped from the crowd too, angry and sad, crying and cursing.
Hermione looked furious and then she heard Ron's laugh. He laughed and laughed until he sobbed into his hands, the voices repeating words in his head he didn't understand. So many voices.

"I'm sorry." He yelled out, his tears and snot mixing together, "I'm so sorry..."  His voice was raspy and cracking at the end, hand gripping his hair, pulling it hard.

Harry Potter saw how his only friend was taken away by the Aurors that arrived shortly after, they dragged him screaming and cursing, trashing around. His voice breaking and pleading. He pleaded for forgiveness, for Hermione's forgiveness, he yelled for Harry to save him, for his mom to rescue him.

Harry, crouching beside Ginny and gripping  holding her in his arms while the girl sobbed, saw how Hermione stood there and sneered at the sight, her hands crossed together, Draco coming behind her his arm wrapping around her waist and then they looked at him.  Their group, including Luna, Blaise and Neville, looked at him and Hermione winked when no one was looking.

He's next.