Chapter 1: Prologue
Arriving in Australia only to find out that her parents had died in a tragic car accident the day before was the final cap on a horrible week for Hermione Granger. She sat in the police station and bawled her eyes out, and the officer stood uncertainly to one side, extremely uncomfortable with the situation he’d found himself in. When she was done crying, he helped her fill out all the paperwork so that her parents’ bodies could be shipped home, and she could arrange for burial. She cried all the way to the Australian Ministry of Magic’s International Portkey Office, and had to explain, through her tears, why she needed an earlier portkey than the one she’d had scheduled. A floo call to Kingsley Shacklebolt seemed to help cut through a little red tape and she was home three weeks earlier than she’d planned. Hermione stopped off at number 12 Grimmauld Place to pick up Crookshanks, explained to Harry and Ginny why she was home so early, which caused another crying spell, and finally made it back to her small flat where she crawled into bed absolutely worn out and fell into a deep slumber.
The sun shone brightly the next day, and Hermione glared at it as though it were a nice day to spite her. She slumped over her tiny kitchen table and forced herself to drink some strong tea and eat a bit of toast. The gentle tap of an owl at her kitchen window surprised her. No one except Harry and Ginny knew that she was home. She opened the window curiously and handed the owl a treat from a small bowl she kept in the kitchen. He was a sleek, beautiful animal and he hooted at her imperiously before he deigned to take the treat from her fingers. She turned the letter over and over again in her hands, frowning to herself. The paper was thick vellum, and very expensive. Hermione hesitated for several moments, and owl hooted imperiously again.
“Are you supposed to wait for a response?” Hermione asked him curiously. He hooted again, and Hermione cautiously broke the thick seal on the back.
Miss Hermione Granger
56B Wizard Towers
Dear Miss Granger,
Our office has been informed of the unfortunate demise of your parents. We offer our condolences to you at this sad time. It is my duty to inform you that we have been handling your family’s legal matters for the last four hundred years, and we need to discuss your inheritance with you at your earliest convenience. Archimedes has been instructed to await your pleasure. If you will please note a date and a time that is convenient to you this week for us to meet, I would be most appreciative. I apologize if this seems unduly hasty to you, but the law requires that heirs be notified in a speedy manner. Again, we offer our condolences on your loss.
Patricius Flint, Solicitor
Offices of Burke, McKinnon & Greengrass
Shock gripped her, and her eyebrows seemed permanently lodged in her hairline. Was this a joke? It seemed rather extreme for a joke, the thick vellum paper, the engraved letterhead, the beautiful owl. Archimedes was obviously a thoroughbred among owls. She sighed and stared at the strange letter again. This was obviously a wizard solicitor. How could they have been handling her family’s legal matters for four hundred years? She was a muggleborn. Her parents were muggles. What was going on? Well, the first part was easy enough. She’d lost her job last week at the Ministry of Magic when she’d punched a supercilious ass right in the nose after he made disparaging comments about several clients under Hermione’s care. Adrian Pucey probably wouldn’t have said anything to anyone, but Dolores Umbridge had walked in and witnessed it, the horrible toad, and she’d been positively gleeful when she’d reported the incident to Hermione’s superiors. She should have listened to what her teenage self had told Minister Scrimgeour. If she wanted to actually do something good in the world, the Ministry was not the place for her. She sighed heavily and wrote a brief response, asking Mr. Flint if they might meet this afternoon. The sooner I solve this mystery, the sooner I can focus on other things.
The Offices of Burke, McKinnon & Greengrass were imposing, the age of the building hinting at the age of the practice. Hermione stood on the sidewalk and stared at the discreet placard for several minutes. She bit her lip nervously and shifted her feet. Finally she sighed, squared her shoulders, lifted her chin, and walked up to the door. It opened automatically, and Hermione sailed up to the receptionists’ desk. The receptionist looked sleek and professional. Her robes were conservative, well cut and expensive. She looked up with cool politeness.
“Welcome to the offices of Burke, McKinnon & Greengrass,” she recited carefully, and flashed a professional smile. “How may I be of service?”
“I have a two o’clock appointment with Patricius Flint,” Hermione said crisply. The receptionist’s smile grew slightly warmer.
“Of course,” she said with a nod. “I’ll let him know you’ve arrived. Please have a seat. May I get you a refreshment? Would you care for gillywater, pumpkin juice, or perhaps elderflower wine?”
“No thank you,” Hermione replied, sitting nervously on the edge of her seat. The receptionist nodded again, and left her alone in a plush waiting area. Only moments later a large man, with a broad chest entered the waiting area. His strong resemblance to Marcus Flint made her wonder if this was perhaps an uncle or maybe even his father.
“Miss Granger?” He asked politely. She rose immediately. “I regret that we are meeting under these circumstances, and I again apologize that we must make you come down here so quickly. If you’ll come with me?”
Patricius Flint showed her into a beautifully appointed office and directed her to sit in an overstuffed chair in front of his desk. He moved around his desk easily, but waited to sit until she sat down completely. He organized his paperwork, and glanced over it for a moment, Hermione growing more nervous by the second. Finally he sighed and looked up at her.
“Miss Granger, after looking over your paperwork, I can only guess that you might be slightly confused as to why I have contacted you. I must say, you are the most unusual client I have ever had the privilege of working with, and I look forward to serving your needs. If you ever have any questions, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to share them with me, and I’ll attempt to help you in any way I can,” Mr. Flint said sincerely. Hermione blinked at him, at a loss for words.
“I…I am confused Mr. Flint. I’m a muggleborn witch, how on earth could your firm handle my family’s legal matters for over four hundred years?” Hermione asked carefully, confusion evident in her expression and her tone.
“Ah, well, that may be the first hurdle,” Mr. Flint said in a carefully polite tone. “Miss Granger, you are not a muggleborn witch.”
“I am! My parents were dentists!” Hermione’s voice was rising in volume and register, anxiety shining in her wide eyes. Mr. Flint cleared his throat and frowned slightly.
“It appears as though your parents believed that they were muggles,” Mr. Flint explained gently. Hermione frowned.
“What do you mean, they believed they were muggles?” Hermione demanded, her eyes narrowing on Mr. Flint’s face. He looked uncomfortable, and frowned at his papers before he raised his eyes to hers. He looked embarrassed, and Hermione swallowed nervously.
“How familiar are you with the treatment of squibs, Miss Granger?” He asked quietly.
“Not at all, sir,” Hermione said honestly. Mr. Flint nodded, and sighed heavily.
“There are no particular laws in place,” he said quietly. “Nothing that says that a squib must leave the wizarding world, but many choose to do so of their own free will. It is…uncomfortable for squibs in our society, and they are often treated poorly. That is the best case scenario, unfortunately. Many are disowned and abandoned when it is discovered that their magic is negligible. They are unable to inherit, vote, or engage in wizarding society. Their legal status is limited and is similar to a minor child in many respects.”
“But that’s terrible,” Hermione whispered, horrified. Mr. Flint nodded.
“I agree,” he said calmly. “My great-uncle was a squib, and his brother made sure that he had everything he needed, and arranged a marriage for him with a young lady in similar circumstances. He was lucky compared to many.”
“Why are you explaining all of this to me?” Hermione asked quietly.
“Your grandparents, both sets, were similar to my great uncle in that they had loving families that had cared for them and attempted to find suitable matches for them. Your grandparents, for whatever reason, never told your parents of their heritage. They were neighbors, and they strongly encouraged the burgeoning relationship between your mother and father, which resulted in their marriage and your birth. Unfortunately, your grandparents died before you were born, but I’m sure that all four of them would have been very, very proud of you,” Mr. Flint explained carefully. Hermione stared at him for several long minutes.
“You’re trying to tell me that my Grandmother and Grandfather Granger, and my Grandmother and Grandfather Wilkins were squibs?” Hermione shook her head to clear it. This was impossible. This was beyond impossible, it was insane.
“Well, the Grangers’ legal name was actually Blishwick, and the Wilkins were technically Rabnott, but yes,” Mr. Flint said smoothly. Hermione’s forehead wrinkled in confusion.
“What do you mean? Are you telling me I’m not a Granger?” Hermione demanded. Her head was spinning.
“Well, Granger is the name that your grandfather, Cadfael Blishwick, chose to use in the muggle world. He was very conscious of any perceived shame that might fall on his House. Your other grandfather, Aloysius Rabnott, chose to do the same thing for the same reasons. They were good friends and had discussed it beforehand,” Mr. Flint explained.
“Perceived shame to his House?” Hermione echoed, anger making her cheeks pink.
“Because of his squib status,” Mr. Flint clarified.
“So am I a Granger or not?” She demanded, tears trembling on her lashes. Mr. Flint flushed and sighed.
“Technically, in the wizarding world you are Miss Hermione Blishwick,” he said softly. She was crying and he silently handed her his handkerchief.
“So I’m not a muggleborn, and I’m not Hermione Granger?” she asked tearfully. He sighed again.
“No, I’m afraid not. Technically, you are a pureblood, and your name is, as I said, Miss Hermione Blishwick,” he murmured, averting his eyes to give her some semblance of privacy.
“Why are you even telling me any of this? Couldn’t you have just left me alone?” She asked after several minutes of crying quietly into his handkerchief.
“I’m afraid not, Miss Blishwick. The law is very clear about inheritance rights, and the punishment for us would have been most unpleasant,” Mr. Flint assured her. She flinched when he called her Miss Blishwick.
“You keep talking about an inheritance, but you said my grandparents and my parents were squibs. You said that squibs can’t inherit, so why am I even here?” Hermione asked sharply, her eyes narrowed on him. He smiled slightly.
“I did say all of that. Squib status is limited legally, and they are unable to inherit on their own. However, they do not release their inheritance rights, which is why some families choose to disown their squib children. Any child born to a squib that is fully magical may claim the inheritance that would have gone to his or her parent or parents. You, as pureblood with squibs on both sides, can claim all four of your grandparent’s inheritances,” Mr. Flint explained carefully, watching her. Hermione frowned at him.
“All four of them? I mean, I don’t mean to be rude, Mr. Flint, but wizarding society has never struck me as being overly egalitarian when it comes to the sexes. I would have thought that my grandmothers inherited nothing,” she said coolly. Mr. Flint shifted slightly and rolled his shoulders. He sighed and shuffled his papers for a moment.
“It depends on the family,” he said finally. “There are a few that dictate that only males inherit, but they are very few. As it is, your grandmother Eugenia Blishwick was born a Marchbanks, and your grandmother Hepsibah Rabnott, was born an Urquart. The Marchbanks line is still extant, but you have a nice inheritance that has been held in trust for you, and the same is true of the Urquart family.”
“And my grandfathers’ families?” She found herself asking curiously. He smiled slightly, but she thought that it seemed like a friendly smile.
“That is a slightly different matter. The Blishwick and Rabnott lines are both extinct, and you are the only known living heir for both families. As you can imagine, there is a lot of paperwork involved, but if you have the rest of the afternoon free I will try to get you through as much as we can. Tomorrow, if you are free, I would be happy to accompany you to Gringott’s so that we can straighten out your vaults,” he said politely. Hermione nodded dumbly.
“Yes, that sounds fine,” she whispered, staring at him.
Later, Hermione could not have told you what all she signed. There were stacks and stacks of paper, and Mr. Flint tried to explain each one. They did her inheritances from her grandmothers first. They were much smaller, and did not involve that much paperwork. The pile of papers required to transfer the Blishwick and Rabnott inheritances made her blanch slightly, but she soldiered on, despite the cramping of her hand. Finally, Mr. Flint pulled out two crisp sheets of vellum, and laid them on the desk in front of her.
“These two are perhaps the most important. They require that you prick your skin and allow three drops of blood to fall on each declaration, which proclaims your acceptance of the House of Blishwick with all its responsibilities and privileges, and the House of Rabnott with all its responsibilities and privileges,” Mr. Flint said firmly. Hermione looked up at him, anxiety in her expressive eyes once more.
“What does that mean?” She asked him carefully. He rubbed the back of his neck and thought about the easiest way to explain it.
“It means that if the House of Blishwick has made any legally binding promises or oaths that it is your duty to uphold them. For instance, I know that the House of Blishwick swore an oath of Alliance with the House of Potter during the Goblin Rebellion of 1612, which entails the right to beg hearth space, and the duty to look after Harry Potter’s children, should he be unable to do so,” Mr. Flint explained with a slight smile. Hermione snorted.
“So if Ginny kicked Harry out, and he came over and begged me to let him crash, I’m honor-bound to let him sleep on my couch?” Hermione asked dryly. Mr. Flint nodded gravely.
“Yes, Miss Blishwick. Among our people, this is a very serious thing, and you would indeed be honor-bound to offer Mr. Potter a place to sleep,” he said firmly. She shrugged.
“Well, I don’t see any harm in something like that. I would do that for Harry anyway,” she said with a slight smile. Mr. Flint handed her a small obsidian knife and she jabbed her thumb with it, and watched three crimson drops fall onto the thick vellum. She repeated the same process with the other piece of vellum, and when she was done she realized that the blood had transformed to her neat signature…except that ‘Hermione Blishwick’ was scrawled across each page. She frowned at the documents.
“Thank you for your time, Miss Blishwick. I will meet you tomorrow at Gringott’s at 8:45 a.m. We have a 9:00 a.m. appointment with your account manager, but I’d like to discuss a few things with you before the meeting,” Mr. Flint said with a polite smile. Hermione nodded, and allowed him to see her out of his office.
The next morning Hermione was loathe to get out of bed. She’d lost her job, her parents had died, and now she’d found out that, technically, she was a pure-blood. It seemed though things just kept getting worse and worse and she had no control over anything anymore. She knew she had to get up, the last thing that she needed to do was offend the whole Goblin nation, and have them declare her anathema, or something. They already didn’t care for her after that whole breaking into the LeStrange vault incident. The Goblin nation had officially absolved the Golden Trio, but she would swear that whenever she went into that bank they watched her with narrowed eyes. With her current luck, they probably thought she was casing the joint for round two. She sighed heavily, rolled over, opened her eyes and screamed at the top of her lungs. Bending over her, watching her with concern in its wide blue eyes was a house elf.
“Mistress?” It squeaked at her fearfully. Hermione had scuttled across the bed, and was pressed against the wall.
“No, no, no, no, no,” Hermione was chanting, holding her blanket against herself protectively. There was a crack, and another house elf appeared, and looked disdainfully at the first one.
“You was only to be waking the Mistress up,” it sniffed. “Not to be giving her frights.”
“I was startled,” Hermione said, and glanced from one house elf to the other. “Why are you here?”
“Oh! I is the representative from House Rabnott,” said the first elf, the one that had startled her.
“And I, is the representative from House Blishwick,” said the second elf with a sense of dignity and austerity that the first elf seemed to be lacking. Hermione nodded, faintly. Of course. She had inherited house elves. Just the icing that her cake needed. Maybe she’d be hit by a bus on her way to Diagon Alley.
“What are your names, please?” Hermione asked politely. The elves frowned slightly at her.
“You isn’t going to be handing out clothes, is you Mistress?” The second elf asked with a disapproving air. “I has a cousin at Hogwarts and she is telling the most disturbing stories.”
“No,” Hermione said shaking her head. Once she’d learned about the link between the house elf/wizard bond and the health and magic of the house elves she had been thoroughly ashamed. She had never meant to hurt anyone.
“Good,” said the second elf with satisfaction. “My name is Dory, and I is the elf in charge of House Blishwick.”
“And I is Bicky, and I is the elf in charge of House Rabnott,” the first elf said with a slightly shy air. Hermione smiled warmly at her.
“I have an appointment at 8:45 a.m. at Gringott’s,” she said suddenly, glancing at her clock and sighing in relief. She had two hours before her meeting. “If one of you would please prepare breakfast, and if the other could find robes suitable for a meeting with my lawyer and my account manager that would be wonderful.”
“Of course, Mistress,” Dory said firmly, with a gimlet stare for Bicky. Hermione had truly regretted her teenage behavior toward the house elves of Hogwarts, not realizing that if she had succeeded with her underhanded tricks of hiding clothing under garbage, that she might have unknowingly murdered one of them. Her brief stint in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures had been truly eye-opening. She still despised the poor treatment of many house elves, but she no longer advocated breaking the bonds that supported them magically. She nodded politely to both of them, and went to the bathroom to take a shower and brush her teeth.
At 8:40 a.m. Hermione was waiting anxiously on the steps of Gringott’s, and sighed in relief when she saw the large, imposing figure of Patricius Flint moving toward her. He nodded at her, and she smiled at him tentatively. In one hand, he carried a briefcase, and he was dressed in conservative dress robes. Hermione had carefully dressed in conservative robes that she’d originally purchased for Ministry functions. As silly as it might seem, she felt as though it provided a protective layer between her and the outside world.
“Miss Blishwick,” Mr. Flint said with a hint of relief in his voice. “I’m pleased to see that punctuality is among your many charms. Now, we’ve filed your inheritance paperwork with the Ministry as we are required to, and they sent us acknowledgement this morning. Everything should be in order, and we shouldn’t have any issues. However, if there are any problems when they test your wand, or at any other time during this meeting, I ask that you remain calm and allow me to intercede on your behalf. It is, after all my job, and your family is paying me a healthy retainer to do so.”
“I’m rather glad that you are here,” Hermione said anxiously, glancing up at the imposing edifice of the Goblin bank. “It’s been a trying week.”
“I can only imagine,” he said politely with a small nod of acknowledgement. “Now, after you?”
The meeting at Gringott’s went as smoothly as Hermione could have hoped. The Goblins did not seem surprised that she was claiming to be Miss Blishwick. No one stood up and pointed a gnarled finger at her condemnation. She wasn’t fed to the dragons. She wasn’t descended upon by Goblin security guards waving swords and gnashing their teeth in rage. There was, however, more reams of paperwork, which required signatures, and more blood. Hermione pulled out her own tiny obsidian knife, and Mr. Flint’s eyes shone with subtle approval. The Goblin watched her dispassionately as she allowed three drops of blood to drop onto the strange device he’d held out for her. It glowed briefly, and the Goblin nodded in satisfaction. It slid two keys across the table to her.
“These are the keys for the Rabnott and Blishwick vaults,” it told her flatly. “There are other assets which Gringott’s has held in trust for the two families for the last one hundred years while the Houses were in abeyance. As they have been declared active by the Ministry, we will send over portfolios that you will need to respond to within 72 hours. I believe you will find everything in order.”
“I am sure that Gringott’s has taken exemplary care of my assets,” Hermione said calmly. It felt like the right thing to say, and the Goblin seemed pleased with her response. Mr. Flint seemed pleased with her as well, but it was very subtle.
By the time Hermione got home, she was exhausted again. Dory and Bicky had prepared tea, and Hermione gratefully ate her finger sandwiches, and drank her tea. Dory insisted that she go take a nap, and she complied without argument. It didn’t seem worth quibbling over, and grief over the loss of her parents had stretched all of her nerves taut. When she awakened, she shuffled out to her tiny kitchen to find a small mountain of even more paperwork. She sighed heavily. Dory handed her another cup of tea, and she sat down heavily, contemplating her paperwork with an expression of extreme distaste.
“It isn’t being my place to say so,” Dory observed, not looking at her Mistress. “But this paperwork must be completed within a certain time frame, or the Ministry is being most fractious about it.”
“I can only imagine,” Hermione said in disgust. “Is there anything, like a hand salve? I’ve been signing paperwork for days and my hand has become quite painful.”
“Of course, Mistress. Give me just a moment. I shall just be popping over to Blishwick Manor, and then I’ll return with some hand salve,” the house elf said with a slight smile for Hermione.
“Wait…did you say Blishwick Manor?” Hermione said faintly. The elf nodded.
“Of course, Mistress. The ancestral home of the Blishwick family,” the elf explained politely.
“Of course,” Hermione repeated faintly. “Er, where might my ancestral home be located?”
“It’s in Wiltshire, Mistress. I’m sure there is paperwork for it in that pile,” Dory said with another slight smile. Hermione sighed.
“I’m sure there is,” she muttered in irritation.
Several hours later, after a refreshing shower, a filling breakfast, and some hand salve, Hermione was attempting to attack the pile of paperwork. Her wards shifted, and she turned with a tired smile for Harry and Ginny. Harry was looking at her with concern, but Ginny looked annoyed. Hermione sighed and set down her pen.
“Hermione, are you all right? You look like hell,” Harry said bluntly, his worry for her health overriding courtesy. Ginny frowned at him.
“Never mind about how she looks, Hermione what is this all about?” Ginny demanded shoving a newspaper in her face.
Houses of Blishwick and Rabnott have been restored at last! The Heiress to both is the indomitable Hermione Granger, war heroine and friend to Harry Potter!
This reporter can only imagine the embarrassment of certain former death eaters upon finding out that the most well-known muggleborn witch in wizarding Britain isn’t a muggleborn at all. The venerable offices of Burke, McKinnon & Greengrass filed her official family tree with the Ministry, and she has been acknowledged by the Ministry as both the Blishwick heiress and the Rabnott heiress. Sources say that everything was carefully documented, and thus the transition was one of the smoothest in the history of the Department of Magical Inheritances.
“This particular case highlights rather obscure points of wizarding law,” Octavius Dippet explained to this reporter. “Suffice it to say, that because Miss Blishwick’s immediate ancestors were squibs and not muggles she is actually a pureblood, and not a muggleborn. Her status change has been duly noted, and acknowledged by the Ministry.”
Hermione continued to read the rest of the article, which was rather more detailed than she might have wished, but objective for the most part. Perhaps it was because the reporter was forced to explain so much minutiae of wizarding law that he or she didn’t have a chance to twist things so that Hermione was a horrible person? Although she couldn’t figure out why that would stop them, it never had in the past. She looked up at Harry and Ginny who were waiting for her response.
“Is all of that true?” Ginny asked sharply, her features pinched. Hermione frowned at her.
“Why are you so upset?” She asked in confusion. She turned to Harry, and caught him rolling his eyes. She blinked in surprise. She’d known that Harry wasn’t happy, but he usually tried to conceal it.
“Ron,” he said succinctly. Hermione’s expression changed immediately. Her eyes became cold and remote, and her face became a mask.
“Ron made his choices, Ginny. I gave him and Susan Bones my blessings, and so did you.” Hermione said coldly. Ginny blinked at her in surprise.
“But if he’d known the truth!” Ginny said with a dark scowl. Hermione scowled back at her.
“I didn’t know the truth,” she said sharply. “The only way for me to be notified was for my parents to die. Excuse me for being grateful that that didn’t happen any earlier than now. In addition, I certainly would never marry a man who didn’t want to have anything to do with me until he found out I was an heiress.”
“You are all right though, yeah?” Harry asked her quietly, a gentle hand on her arm. She rubbed her temples and sighed.
“It’s rather a lot to take in. I’ve been signing paperwork for days,” Hermione said tiredly. At that moment, Dory popped into the living room.
“Will Mistress be wanting Dory to make a tea tray for Mistress’ guests?” Dory asked her solicitously. Ginny blinked and Hermione could see her face becoming pinched and red.
“No Dory,” she said with a hard edge to her voice. “Our guests were just leaving.”
“Yes, I was,” Ginny snapped, and she apparated after an angry glance around Hermione’s apartment. Harry looked pained, and Hermione put her hand on his arm.
“Harry, love, if you’re unhappy, you should file paperwork,” she said softly. He grimaced slightly.
“I’m starting to feel very, very relieved that Ginny insisted on a handfasting, just like Bill,” Harry told her quietly. His green eyes were sad, and Hermione impulsively hugged him.
“If you need a lawyer, I highly recommend the offices of Burke, McKinnon & Greengrass. They’ve been wonderful,” Hermione said with a shrug. Harry snorted and shook his head. “I should also inform you that as House Blishwick, my family has apparently sworn an Oath of Alliance to yours, and I’m honor-bound to support you.”
“Really?” Harry asked with a disbelieving laugh, which faltered slightly at the serious expression on Hermione’s face. He frowned slightly. “Really?”
“Yes, Harry. Really,” Hermione said firmly. He rubbed the back of his neck and sighed.
“Well, regardless of your last name, whatever it is, you’re always Hermione, and I’ll always be there for you, too,” Harry said earnestly. He hugged her, and Hermione clung to him for just a moment.
Ginny and Harry had been married for three years, and most of it had been fairly rocky. If Hermione were forced to offer her opinion, she would say that the main problem was that each of them thought they were marrying someone else. The war had changed everyone, but Harry had been fighting since he was a child. He wanted peace and quiet. He wanted to be left alone. Ginny wanted the safety and prestige of the Potter name. She wanted the tangible rewards of marriage to the savior of their world, and she was disappointed to learn that there weren’t any. Harry hugged her again, told her to take care of herself, and left.
Hermione sat back down in front of the pile of paperwork and sighed again. She picked up her pen, and began signing more papers.
Chapter 2: Marriage Most Foul
There is a little more to the whole being a pureblood thing than Hermione has been lead to believe.
Again... this is one of my very first HP stories. I will warn that this chapter is about magical oaths and contracted marriages, and should therefore be considered dub-con. I don't really write dub-con, it's not something I'm comfortable with, and my regular readers know this. So if you came here because you've read my other stuff--I'm warning you now. This might not be your fic. I'll add tags for that, but some people don't pay attention to tags.
Chapter One - Marriage Most Foul
"Let specialties be therefore drawn between us,
That covenants may be kept on either hand."
-Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew Act 2, Scene 1, lines 126-7.
June 1950 Malfoy Manor, Wiltshire
“Druella Rosier was killed last night in a tragic broomstick accident,” Irma Black observed mildly while she sipped her tea delicately. Her best friend, Artemesia Malfoy, betrayed no emotion, and nibbled at a tea cake.
“How unfortunate,” Mrs. Malfoy said contritely. “It appears as though your son is in need of a new betrothed.”
“Well, he’s young yet. He’s only thirteen years old. I have asked Pollux to be patient and wait awhile, and he agrees that that might be the best course of action,” Mrs. Black said with quiet dignity.
Both women knew that Druella Rosier had been pregnant, and that the ‘tragic accident’ had no doubt occurred at the hands of her father after young Cygnus had protested his innocence and cast the paternity charm on his fiancée in front of everyone. Gawain Rosier had assumed that the betrothed children had gotten in a little early practice. Such things happened occasionally, he had announced, with a pointed look at Cygnus’ parents. Irma Black had flushed in embarrassment, and Pollux Black had glared at his son’s future father-in-law. Gawain Rosier had gone on to insist that the wedding take place immediately. Cygnus had violently protested his innocence, yelling at the top of his lungs that he’d never touched the girl. At the time, Irma had been shocked at this volatile outburst, and hardpressed to explain the reason for it. In her heightened emotional state, she hadn’t noticed her son’s best friend, Abraxas Malfoy, still in the library where the boys had been working on their Dark Arts study, watching the unfolding drama with narrowed eyes. She also hadn’t noticed the relaxation of Abraxas’ features when Cygnus protested, and then proved his innocence.
“Abraxas is also in need of a betrothed,” Mrs. Malfoy noted carefully, “but after the recent unpleasantness, I believe that we might wait a bit, as well.”
“There’s plenty of time, dear,” Mrs. Black said with a blithe smile for her friend, and Mrs. Malfoy nodded.
“True,” she said contentedly.
March 1960 Black Estate, Somerset
“Cygnus, boy, we’ve been patient, but the time has come and passed for you to choose a bride,” Pollux Black said firmly, slamming his fist down on the table.
Cygnus scowled at his father. His older brother Alphard had been lucky enough to contract some sort of strange illness that rendered him sterile. He wasn’t expected to marry some simpering pureblood miss who believed the world should bow down to her just because she existed. No, that was all for Cygnus, who would rather not get married at all. He knew Abraxas was listening to the same speech right now from his father, Hyperion Malfoy. It was one thing to lie in each other’s arms in the dark and whisper about defying their families. It was another to face his mother and father in the cold light of day and listen to speeches about the importance of duty and responsibility to the family.
“If my lord husband would permit,” Irma said gently, “I believe I might have a solution.”
“I would dearly love to hear a solution to this issue,” Pollux growled. Irma smiled sweetly at him and then looked at her son, and bestowed a gentle smile on him as well. Cygnus’ scowl became more pronounced. He didn’t like upsetting his family, or disappointing his parents, but he felt as though he didn’t have a choice.
“In our family vault I have discovered a betrothal contract with the House of Blishwick,” Irma said excitedly, her cheeks pink with pleasure. “I know, Pollux, the House is currently in abeyance, but if I produce a scion of House Blishwick she would be compelled to marry Cygnus, and he would be compelled to marry her.”
“It is an old contract then? Signed and sealed with blood magic?” Pollux asked curiously. Irma nodded firmly, and Pollux looked thoughtful. “Very well, if you can produce a Blishwick heiress, we’ll marry him off whether he likes it or not.”
At the exact same time in Malfoy Manor a battle of wills was taking place between Abraxas and Hyperion. Artemesia looked on, unable to do anything to stop what was happening, and her heart breaking for her son. Abraxas had grown up to be a gorgeous young man, who turned heads whenever they were in public. His platinum blond that hair fell passed his shoulders, his silvery grey eyes, his full sensual mouth, and the strong line of his jaw all drew women’s eyes to him. Abraxas was tall, and he had broad shoulders, just like his father, but an active lifestyle ensured that his waist was trim. In short, Abraxas Malfoy had women drooling over him whenever his mother forced him to attend public functions on behalf of the family. Unfortunately, Abraxas didn’t want any of those lovely pureblood girls. He wanted Cygnus Black, his best friend since their Hogwarts days.
“Father, I love him,” Abraxas said flatly. Hyperion snorted.
“Fine. Fuck him until he can’t walk on a regular basis,” he snapped rudely. “That doesn’t mean you can’t get married to nice pureblood girl and produce a few heirs. You’re the last of your House, boy, and I’ll be damned if I let you destroy it.”
“Wait!” Artemesia said when she saw her son about to lose control. “Hyperion, dear, can’t we come to some sort of compromise?”
“What if Cygnus and I bonded with the same girl?” Abraxas demanded. “It’s perfectly legal.”
“What family is going to allow their daughter to marry the both of you?” Hyperion snapped. “Cygnus is going to have a hard enough time with the Rosier scandal hanging over his head.”
“What’s so bad about marrying Cynus and me? We’re not that terrible, we did well in school, and we come from good families,” Abraxas growled in irritation, his control slipping again.
“It’s more the fact that your relationship with Cygnus is rather well known, dear,” Artemesia said gently. “They would be worried that they wouldn’t get any issue from the union. Some parents might also worry that their daughter might be ill-treated or neglected.”
“We like women!” Abraxas bellowed, red-faced at his father. He took several deep breaths. “I would never mistreat my wife, and I’d be more than willing to fulfill my duties if she were pretty, or even decent really. I’m just not willing to give up Cygnus, and he wants to be with me, too.”
“Hyperion?” Artemesia came forward, and touched her husband’s arm gently. Her husband turned his furious gaze on his wife, and his features softened slightly.
“You have a solution?” He asked dryly, quirking a brow at his pretty wife. Artemesia smirked at him.
“I do, my love,” she murmured, squeezing his arm slightly. “In our family vaults, I found an old betrothal contract. It’s open-ended, and hasn’t been fulfilled yet. It’s between the Houses of Malfoy and Rabnott. I’ll just fetch a female of House Rabnott, and the contract will take care of the rest.”
“Ah, it’s a blood contract then?” Hyperion asked curiously. Artemesia nodded. “That might work.”
“It’s a brilliant plan. Irma gave me the idea,” Artemesia said with smug satisfaction.
“Aunt Irma is going to marry Cygnus off to some old maid from some ancient bloody contract?” Abraxas demanded, jealousy rising in him.
“Yes, just like I’m going to marry you off to the first Rabnott heiress I can find,” Artemesia said with a cool smile for her son. “Like your father said, whether or not you’re married will have no bearing on your relationship with Cygnus. You two can keep on as you always have.”
“But, mother,” Abraxas said, his voice rising slightly in his agitation, “you can’t just do this.”
“I think you’ll find that I can, Abraxas, darling,” Artemesia said with a wintry smile.
That night, Artemesia and Irma each dragged their respective sons and husbands down to the ball room at the Black Estate because it was large and it had enough space. The spell they were casting was ancient, and tied to the contracts that each family had made. The betrothal contracts simply stated that when a suitable female of House Blishwick, or House Rabnott was available, the family would give that child in marriage to Houses Black and Malfoy, respectively. They had been created with blood magic, and sealed with the signer’s blood. To activate them, Pollux and Hyperion had to spill a little of their blood upon the contract, and a little of their sons’ blood as well. Artemesia and Irma did their part, casting the spell that would produce the heiresses, no matter where they might currently be located. The power in the room grew ten-fold as soon as Pollux and Hyperion added their blood, and Cygnus and Abraxas’ blood.
A blinding white light appeared for a moment in the center of the room, and when it disappeared there was a young woman wearing a high collared, long-sleeved nightgown. She was a beautiful girl, with thick wild curls that tumbled down her back, and amber colored eyes that promised at hidden depths. Her features were small and delicate, with a small nose and a full, lush mouth. Her little chin rose imperiously as she tried to come to terms with her surroundings. She turned and stared at Hyperion and Abraxas in undisguised horror, and she frantically tried to apparate out of the room. When that failed, she glanced around the room, looking absolutely terrified.
“Dory! Bicky!” She screamed frantically, backing away from them, as far as she could. Two house elves popped in and hurried toward her.
“Mistress!” One of them said in surprise. “What is you doing here?”
“I don’t know,” she practically wailed. “I can’t apparate through the wards, but it doesn’t affect elf magic. Get me out of here, and get me out of here now.”
“But Mistress,” the other said, shocked. “You is not in the right place. Your quarters are not available here. We can be taking you to the Estate, if you is willing.”
“Wait!” Artemesia stepped forward, and the girl cringed away from her. Artemesia stopped in mid-step, shock on her face. She cleared her throat and glanced at Irma, who nodded. “Which heiress are you? Rabnott or Blishwick?”
“I…I’m both,” she said warily glancing at them and edging closer to her house elves. “My paternal grandfather was a Blishwick, and my maternal grandfather was a Rabnott.”
“Are there any others?” Irma asked with a glance at her son.
“I’m the last,” she said sadly, grief shining in her eyes.
“See?” Abraxas said with a smirk, pleased that his suggested compromise was now the only choice. “According to the contracts, she’ll have to marry us both.”
“Over my dead body,” hissed the girl, rage contorting her features. Irma sniffed coolly.
“It may very well come to that, my girl. These are very old contracts, crafted with blood magic. If you refuse uphold your family’s oaths, the magic may require just that,” Irma explained flatly. Bitter comprehension flooded the girl’s face.
“I knew I shouldn’t have signed those stupid papers,” she snarled to herself.
“There is nothing wrong with either House Malfoy or House Black,” Pollux snapped in irritation. “They are both noble and ancient Houses, and they are worthy matches for your Houses.”
“Who are you people?” She asked in confusion. “Where is Lucius? Where’s Draco? And who are you lot supposed to be? Are you planning on bringing back Sirius, and having me marry him, because I’ll tell you right now that I am not into necrophilia.”
“I am Pollux Black,” The tall, black haired man said coolly. The girl looked at him nervously. He knew that he looked like the quintessential Black, and so did Cygnus standing next to him. Long, black hair, dark grey eyes, features that were almost too handsome, that were just this side of pretty or beautiful. They were tall, but lean and slender as opposed to the wider frames that the Malfoys seemed to favor. “This is my wife, Irma, and this is our youngest son, Cygnus.”
“Cygnus Black?” She asked sharply, her face draining of blood. The girl appeared to know of him. “Weren’t you supposed to marry Druella Rosier?”
“She died in a tragic accident, ten years ago,” Irma Black said calmly, as though they were discussing the weather. The last thing they needed to be discussing now was that whole sordid business. The girl in front of them looked stunned, but then the strangest expression came over her face.
“She died?” She shrieked and then started laughing hysterically, tears streaming down her face.
“Why is Druella’s death so amusing to you?” Cygnus asked with a frown. Abraxas moved closer to him, and he could feel the comforting presence of his lover at his back. He relaxed slightly, and felt the light touch of Abraxas’ hand at the small of his back. She panted for breath for few minutes, and pulled her sleeve up to her elbow.
“Druella’s oldest daughter, your daughter, did this to me,” the girl snarled, tilting her head back so that they could see the fine line of a scar that went across her throat. Then she held out her arm. “And she did this, too, because she was unfamiliar with my family tree. In between, for a change of pace, she used the cruciatus curse on me.”
Mudblood stood out on the girl’s arm, the letters forming pale scars that were clearly visible. They stared at the defiant girl standing there, and then looked at one another. The cruciatus curse had been used on this girl, by one of their own family? This girl seemed impossibly young to the parents in the room to have been through the sort of torture she’d just described. They schooled their features carefully, but knew one another well enough that the tightened eyes, and flared nostrils revealed their distaste to one another.
“How is that even possible?” Pollux asked with a frown. One of the house elves tugged at the girl’s nightgown and she looked down.
“Yes, Dory?” She asked curiously.
“Mistress, we is telling you, you is in the wrong place. Mistress shouldn’t be here,” Dory explained, wringing its hands. The girl frowned, and then crouched down so that she was at eye-level with the house elf. The Black and the Malfoys watched this with wary surprise.
“What do you mean, I’m in the wrong place?” She asked cautiously, her eyes wary.
“This is not where our Mistress should be,” the other elf said, looking worried. The girl shook her head in confusion.
“Is it because it’s the wrong time? This is definitely not the right time,” the girl said, glancing at the group of people who stood in front of her.
“No,” Bicky said with a firm shake of her head. “Linear time is being construct of humans. No, you is not where you should be…this is not your place.”
“This is not my place?” The girl bit her lip, her eyes narrowed in concentration. Then she gasped and turned to the house elves. “This isn’t my world? Is that what you mean?”
“Yes, Mistress is seeing it now,” Dory said happily, relief evident on her face. The girl frowned again.
“Wait, how can you be here then? And if this isn’t my world, is there another heiress? Oh Sweet Merlin! I don’t have to do all that paperwork again, do I?” She asked, looking horrified.
“We is bound to you, and we is carrying out the orders of our House, which is our jobs. We came because you called us. As for your status here, it is being the same as it is at home. You is being acknowledged by the Goblins, and they is able to track you no matter to what place you has gone. You is still having access to your vaults and your estates. When you complete the contracts, you is being listed with the Ministry, and your status is being noted,” Dory explained.
“When I complete the contracts?” She said blankly. Dory nodded earnestly.
“They has been activated. They requires your blood to seal it. Your family made Oaths, Mistress, and you is seeing them fulfilled,” Bicky said firmly. The girl shook her head.
“But…but this isn’t even my world. In my world, he married Druella Rosier and they have three daughters. You must be the Malfoys…which means that one of you is Lucius’ father,” she said slowly, frowning. Irma and Artemesia conferred quietly for a moment.
“It might be,” Irma said slowly, her expression carefully neutral, “that you were not needed in your own world because there Cygnus and Abraxas had wives, and didn’t need the contract. Here they do not, and so here you have come.”
“Yes, but…I can’t marry both of them, can I?” The girl said in surprise, her eyes sliding to both men almost against her will.
“Of course you can,” Artemesia said, equally surprised.
“It’s not overly common,” Hyperion noted mildly, “but it is perfectly legal and acceptable by the Ministry.”
“But,” The girl turned mutely to her house elves, her amber eyes wide with pleading. “Are we stuck here now?”
“Yes Mistress. The magic has called you here, and because the contract is being activated, your family’s blood Oaths require that you fulfill them. You has no choice, Mistress. Dory is sorry.” The little house elf did look sad for its mistress.
“A…a Malfoy and a Black,” she muttered, unable to control the shudder of revulsion that ran through her. Abraxas and Cygnus frowned at one another. She turned suddenly and looked at the group of them together. “When do we have to do this?”
“As soon as possible,” Pollux said quietly. “Now would probably be the best for you. The longer you wait, the worse it will be for you.”
“Of course,” Hermione said flatly. She looked around and Irma handed her a small obsidian knife. She nodded her thanks and moved forward.
“Right here, and then right here as well,” Hyperion said smoothly pointing to the spots on both contracts.
The girl made a small, neat incision in her thumb and pressed her blood into each contract. Magic rose from each contract and swirled around her in colorful spirals. Abraxas stiffened as the same thing happened to both him and Cygnus. He reached out a hand, and Cygnus took it automatically, their fingers entwining. Once the magic was spiraling about all three of them it began to shimmer, and to coalesce, forming a rope of magic that bound the three of them together tightly. It seemed to sink within their skin, into their very blood and bones. Abraxas could feel the magic of the contract binding every part of him to the other two people. He felt like his skin was too tight, as though there was too much of him inside himself. He rubbed absently at his shoulder. She blinked at them, and then turned to his mother, and Cygnus’ mother.
“Is it supposed to feel like this?” She asked flatly, rubbing at the skin of her arm. Artemesia and Irma frowned at one another.
“What does it feel like?” Pollux asked cautiously, frowning at her. She bit her lip, and rubbed urgently.
“Like I’m made of fire,” she said absently. “Like…like I’m a being of flame that’s been trapped inside a too-small case, and any moment the fire will break free and burst through my skin.”
“Does it pain you?” Hyperion asked. The girl shook her head.
“No, it’s just very, very uncomfortable. How long will it last?” She asked anxiously, her amber eyes watching them.
“Until the bond is consummated,” Artemesia said quietly. The girl’s eyes narrowed suspiciously, and her delicate little jaw tightened.
“You said it was a betrothal contract,” she said in a dangerously quiet voice.
“It was,” Artemesia said, surprised.
“Our blood activated the contract,” Hyperion reminded her. The girl waved a hand at him imperiously.
“Yes, yes, you said all that before. Dory, what do they assume that I know?” The girl turned to her house elf.
“They is assuming that you are understanding the natures of betrothal contracts. The Oath your family was swearing was a betrothal oath, and activating the oath means they is calling for a bond to be made, not a betrothal. You is married, Mistress. Dory is sorry, she thought Mistress understood what they meant. Mistress is so very smart, and so well-read, that Dory thought that she would have known. Dory is a bad, bad elf,” the elf started to tear up, and the girl turned to it sharply her finger pointed straight at it.
“Dory, I forbid you to punish yourself,” she said angrily. “It was my mistake. Mine. No one else’s. Right, so I’m married to…you two. And we have to… consummate…the bond.”
“Are you going to be sick?” Artemesia asked in concern. She transfigured a bucket quickly and held it out to the girl. The girl took a deep, shuddering breath and attempted to rally.
“I don’t…I don’t think—oh!” She grabbed the bucket and heaved into it, huddling over it miserably. When she was done she sat uncertainly next to it, in case she had need of it. Cygnus moved toward her and frowned.
“Are we really that repugnant to you?” he asked cautiously, his face and his voice solemn. Abraxas had moved again, to stand protectively by his elbow. The girl watched the two of them for several moments, and nibbled on her lower lip.
“Come here for a moment,” she said quietly. Then she gave a slight shake of her head. “Just him.”
Abraxas paused, and frowned at his new wife. Cygnus moved cautiously until he was standing next to her. She clambered to her feet and stood next to him, a thoughtful look on her face. She held up one finger and touched the bare skin of his hand. She shrugged, and sent Cygnus back to Abraxas. Then she motioned to Abraxas and he went to stand next to her, his wife. She was very short, he thought as he stared down at the top of her head. She repeated the same actions to him, and when the tip of her finger touched the bare skin of his hand he controlled the shudder that his body wanted to indulge in.
“No, you don’t make me ill. I’m not sure what it is,” she said pensively, turning to look at her house elves. Dory frowned too, and then tugged on her ear.
“Mistress? Dory is thinking that it is Mistress’ bond might be making her ill. The blood contract is demanding consummation, and it is making Mistress comply.” Dory said fearfully, her great eyes even wider than normal. “The new Masters is having only one blood contract forcing them to comply, but Mistress has two.”
“This is just my luck,” the girl grumbled in irritation. “Fine. Just fine. Come on blondie, and you too, blackie. Let’s just get this head-on collision on the road.”
“I have a name,” Abraxas said indignantly. The girl rolled her eyes.
“Yes, and so do I,” she said tartly. “No one’s bothered to ask it, yet, but you don’t see me whining about it. Come along then Abraxas Malfoy and Cygnus Black.”
“Wait,” Cygnus said, touching the sleeve of her nightgown. He gave her a slight smile that made the girl smile slightly back. “What’s your name?”
“Hermione Blishwick, or well, I guess Black-Malfoy now,” she murmured to herself, nibbling on her lower lip again.
“Why not Malfoy-Black?” Hyperion asked curiously, a wry smile tugging at his lips. Hermione sniffed and her little chin rose imperiously. Artemesia and Irma exchanged a look. This girl was going to be a feisty one. Irma doubted that this girl had ever set foot within Slytherin House. She would bet quite a few galleons that her son’s new wife was a Gryffindor. She sighed. Well, it couldn’t be helped, and at least her son would be carrying on the family name, now.
“I liked Andromeda, Sirius and Nymphadora. That’s three more Blacks than Malfoys that I’ve liked and trusted,” Hermione said tartly. “Now I’m starting to feel nauseated again so we need to go somewhere and consummate this bond before I throw up on something you like.”
Abraxas and Cygnus stared, looking at her in consternation and then led her up the stairs to Cygnus’ bedroom. She followed them lightly, glancing around herself curiously. Abraxas and Cygnus were trying to communicate without speaking, attempting to discuss several concerns about the rest of the night without saying anything untoward in front of their new wife. Cygnus shook his head slightly, and Abraxas’ eyes turned molten silver, and his lips thinned. Cygnus sighed. His lover…or should he say co-husband, it had a nice ring to it Cygnus decided with a mental smile, was upset with him. Still it couldn’t be helped. It was the girl’s wedding night, Hermione’s wedding night he corrected himself, and it was their responsibility to make sure she didn’t hate them in the morning. That meant that tonight would be all about her, they would see to her needs, and attempt to establish a good basis with her. After all, they were bound for life, they might as well attempt to make the best of it.
Chapter 3: Fulfilling a Contract
Magical Contracts force Hermione, Abraxas, and Cygnus to consummate their marriage.
Chapter Two - Fulfilling a Contract
“If I get married, I want to be very married.”
“This is my room,” Cygnus said quietly. He opened the door and waited while Hermione and Abraxas entered. Abraxas walked over to a wingback chair and settled himself comfortably. Hermione glanced about the dark furnishings, and shivered slightly. Both men noticed and exchanged another glance.
“It’s lovely,” she lied with a weak smile. Cygnus quirked a brow at her.
“You’re a terrible liar, did you know that?” he asked curiously. She sighed, and her cheeks flushed pink.
“I have been told so, yes,” she murmured.
“How do you want to do this?” Abraxas asked Cygnus quietly, his molten silver eyes watching Cygus’ face.
“Well, I…,” Cygnus started and then paused. He turned to Hermione. “What are you comfortable with? We both must consummate the bond with you. Would you rather that it was just you and one husband at a time, or are you all right with both of us being here?”
“I…,” Hermione’s whiskey-colored eyes were wide and her lush lips were parted slightly. Her face flooded with color. “I…can we have the lights off?”
“Why?” Abraxas asked sharply. Cygnus was looking decidedly unhappy, and that just served to irritate Abraxas even more. “So you won’t have to look at us?”
“Where I come from,” she whispered, not looking at either of them, “there was a war off and on for over twenty years. I fought in the war from the time I was eleven years old. I have…scars.”
“Oh,” Abraxas said softly, flushing in embarrassment. Cygnus glared at him. Great. Now they were both upset with him, and he’d barely been married for a half-hour. This was a brilliant beginning. “Well, it might be easier for Cygnus and I to, er, be able to see you.”
“Hermione,” Cygnus said haltingly, “we are your husbands, and we will accept you as you are. I…prefer to have the lights on, and I’d like to think that we will be welcome in your bed on a regular basis.”
“I see,” the tiny girl said, her eyes quite wide, taking in both Cygnus and Abraxas.
They were both tall, but Cygnus was slightly taller than Abraxas. He was beautiful with his long black hair and his dark grey eyes. He had a strong jaw line and a nice mouth. It wasn’t overtly sensual, like Abraxas’ full lips, but it was the sort of mouth that made Hermione wonder what it would feel like against her own mouth. He had a slender, lean frame. His shoulders were broad enough to give him a strong, masculine air—but not so broad that they screamed it at you. Abraxas was just slightly shorter than Cygnus, but his shoulders were wider, and his broad chest hinted at the sort of muscle that most likely lay underneath his robes. He was just as beautiful as Cygnus, but where Cygnus was dark Abraxas was light. He had platinum blond hair just like Lucius did, and his eyes were molten silver. His skin was paler than Cygnus’ too. His jaw was just as strong, but his chin wasn’t quite as pointed as Draco’s was. He had an aristocratic sort of nose and a sensual mouth that promised all sorts of sinful things that made her feel even hotter than she did already.
“Is there a bathroom? I’d like to brush my teeth,” Hermione said faintly, not answering their questions.
“Of course,” Cygnus said smoothly. He moved forward and showed her into the bathroom.
Hermione scrubbed her mouth frantically with a toothbrush and the powdered toothpaste that Cygnus had on the shelf. She rinsed her mouth and stared at herself in the mirror.
“What do I do?” she whispered at her reflection. Her reflection sniffed.
“If I were you, I’d relax and have fun,” her reflection said in a haughty sort of voice. Hermione blinked in surprise. She rinsed the toothbrush, and left the bathroom. Cygnus and Abraxas were having a low, intense conversation in the corner. As soon as they noticed her, they both immediately turned toward her…like she was a lodestone or something.
“Hermione,” Abraxas said softly, and she turned her head slightly to look at him. “Come here.”
She moved forward, and when she drew close enough he took her hand and pulled her the rest of the way toward them. Abraxas cupped her face in his hands and touched his lips to hers. He pressed gentle little kisses at the corners of her mouth, and then pressed his lips to hers. His tongue lightly flicked at her lower lip, teasing her and she opened her mouth willingly. Abraxas was a playful kisser, but he was dominating as well. His tongue stroked hers surely and deftly. The fire that was inside of her was starting to burn her from the inside out. She pulled away from him gasping, her eyes wide.
“It’s getting worse,” she panted. “Please…help me.”
“We are love,” Abraxas murmured, kissing down her neck. “We’re going to take care of it, I promise you.”
“Please,” she gasped when he nibbled on her collarbone. He chuckled against her skin.
“Shh, patience, love. We’ll get you there, I promise,” he whispered against her ear. She clutched the front of his robes, her amber eyes watching him. He carefully disengaged her fingers from his clothing, and turned her gently into Cygnus’ arms.
“Hello,” he said softly, and he lowered his mouth to hers.
Cygnus’ kisses weren’t playful at all. They were forceful, and a little wild. He invaded her mouth and took no prisoners. His tongue invaded parts of her mouth that she hadn’t realized were there. She realized that he was naked when her hands tried to hold onto the front of his robes and found only skin. He moaned into her mouth when her hands ran up his chest, skimming past his pebbled nipples. Hermione pulled back slightly and stared at him. She didn’t look down, she couldn’t, but she stared at the lean muscle of his chest and looked up into his stormy grey eyes. He watched her pensively and then bent his head toward her again, kissing along her jawline and down her neck. The fire was still licking at her insides, and along her limbs. Her skin still felt too tight, but this seemed to help. When she felt Abraxas move behind her, she started slightly, but he put his large hands on her hips.
“It’s okay,” he murmured in her ear, and then pressed his sensual mouth to the skin on her neck and she decided that it was so much more than ‘okay’. Her head fell back against Abraxas’ shoulder, allowing him and Cygnus greater access to her neck. The fire was licking at the inside of her belly and she moved impatiently against Abraxas. He chuckled against her throat and suddenly he was pressing against her, and there was something very hard, and very insistent digging into her hip.
“Hermione,” Cygnus said softly, and he stroked the side of her face with the back of his hand. She focused on his face, looking at his eyes which were almost black with desire. “Please, let us look at you.”
She hesitated. He could see the uncertainty in her eyes, the fear, but then something flickered in her eyes, and she pulled her nightgown over her head. She stood before them, naked save for a scrap of blue lace around her hips. Cygnus sucked in his breath at the sight of her. She was beautiful, far more incredible than the shapeless nightgown could have hinted at. Her breasts were small and high, but they were perfectly shaped, and big enough to fill a man’s hand. Well…maybe not Abraxas’ hands, but it would take a prodigious pair to do that. Her waist was tiny and it flared out into full hips, and a round, plump ass that begged for attention. He licked his lips at the thought of bending her over and taking her from behind, and he knew that Abraxas was rolling his eyes at him.
“You are beautiful, Hermione,” Abraxas breathed at her, holding out a hand to her. She placed her hand in his uncertainly and frowned at him.
“But,” she glanced down at herself, and Cygnus saw what had bothered her. There was scar tissue on her sternum, just below her lovely breasts, and more he could see on the hip closest to Abraxas. He pulled her flush against him, and slid his hand down her back so that her pelvis was pressed tightly against his. She could feel, quite forcefully, that he was attracted to her. She stared at him and bit her lip.
“You are beautiful,” he said firmly. She nodded slowly. “Now, come on. Let’s move a little this way.”
Abraxas swept her off her feet, and she squeaked in fear, clutching at him. He chuckled at her, and deposited her in the middle of Cygnus’ large bed. Then the both of them climbed up into the bed with her. She unconsciously scooted back until her back was against the headboard and there was nowhere else for her to go. Cygnus sighed, and shifted closer to her. He kissed her slowly, and sweetly, and then he pulled away, watching her eyes. He pulled her down until she was laying in the bed and then he leaned down and deliberately kissed the criss-cross pattern of scars that covered her ribs. He realized that the criss-cross pattern extended up to touch the soft, silky skin of her breasts. He kissed the scar and then continued up to her nipple, which had tightened in anticipation of his arrival.
The fire was raging inside her so heavily, that Hermione was fidgeting. When Cygnus’ warm mouth latched onto her nipple, she arched up off the bed gasping, her hands in his hair holding him in place. Abraxas’ large hand was covering almost her whole stomach, and he leaned forward to kiss her again, his lips and tongue teasing her. When his hand started to slip down her belly she wriggled slightly, but Cygnus protested because it took her breasts away from him. His hot wet mouth moved to the other breast and began to suckle the other nipple. She whimpered as Abraxas’ fingers stroked her gently, and nudged their way inside her. His thumb was circling her clit, and he was slowly stroking one large finger in and out of her. She whimpered again, her hips moving against him.
“That’s right, love, just like that,” Abraxas whispered against her shoulder. Cygnus looked up at her, his dark eyes feeding that fire that was pushing her. He turned to Abraxas who grinned at him. “She’s wet for us, Cygnus. Want to taste her?”
“Yes,” Cygnus said quietly, his dark eyes smoldering at Abraxas. Hermione’s breathing hitched in her chest at the look they exchanged. Abraxas held out his fingers and Cygnus sucked on them, his eyes closing in pleasure.
“What do you think, love,” Abraxas drawled, smirking at Cygnus. His dark eyes snapped open and he stared back at Abraxas.
“She tastes like honey,” he rasped out, his voice husky. “I want to taste more.”
As with everything else, Cygnus’ invasion of her most hidden places was forceful, and a little wild. His tongue was everywhere, and where his tongue went, his fingers followed. The fire was on racing through her now, and it was spreading everywhere. He was holding her buttocks in his hands, kneading the flesh and he’d tossed her legs over his shoulders. His tongue swirled around the tiny bundle of nerves at her center and she was moaning his name.
“Cygnus,” she whined, her hands fisting in his hair. Abraxas was suckling one nipple and pinching the other. One hand released its strangle hold on Cygnus’ hair so that it could wind into the long platinum tresses of Abraxas’ hair. “Please, I need…I need more.”
“Greedy,” Abraxas murmured against her breast, and nipped it. She gasped.
“Abraxas,” she begged, and he moved to kiss her.
“Okay, love,” he murmured, he turned to Cygnus. “Cygnus?”
He looked up, his eyes dark and hooded, his chin glistening with Hermione’s essence, and Abraxas knew he’d never seen anything sexier in his life. He wanted to kiss Cygnus, and lick his chin, but he’d promised his lover. Tonight was all about Hermione. She was their wife, and they needed to build a good relationship with her. Ignoring her on her wedding night was not going to make that happen. He saw the look in Abraxas’ eyes, and turned to Hermione who was watching them, naked need in her eyes. He turned to Abraxas.
“It had better be you, Brax,” Cygnus muttered, frowning for just a moment. Abraxas nodded. “Be careful, though, yeah?”
“I do know what I’m doing,” Abraxas muttered as they traded spots. Then he looked down at Hermione whose glazed amber eyes were watching him warily. He smiled gently at her. “Cyg and I decided it would be…um…more pleasant for your first time if it was me. He’s…blessed?”
“More blessed than you are?” Hermione asked faintly, her eyes on his proudly jutting penis. He bit back a snicker.
“Yes, love, ‘fraid so,” Abraxas said solemnly. Her eyes widened and she stared at Cygnus for a moment. Then she turned back to him. “How did you know?”
“We have been with women before, Hermione,” Cygnus said dryly. “It’s not that hard to tell, especially when I’ve got my fingers inside you.”
Hermione blushed a brilliant red and glared at him. Abraxas smacked him on the arm.
“What happened to ‘let’s make this night special for her’?” He asked tartly. Cygnus had the grace to blush. He ducked his head.
“Sorry,” he muttered. Then he sat up, and looked intently at his wife. “Would you allow me to do something to help?”
“To help what?” Hermione asked warily. The flames felt like they were dancing along every nerve of her body now, and she needed them to make it stop soon. Cygnus touched her, stroking her slick lips and she moaned with pleasure.
“I can, erm, make you just a bit numb. Just enough that it won’t hurt,” he said softly, a faint blush on his cheeks as he glanced at Abraxas who was staring at Cygnus in surprise.
“That would be nice,” Hermione gasped, as Cygnus’ fingers slid inside her. “Oh!”
“Wandless and nonverbal?” Abraxas muttered at his lover, his gaze narrowed. “That explains a lot.”
“Shush. We can try the alternative sometime, you can compare,” Cygnus muttered back. Abraxas ignored him.
The picture that Hermione was currently making was intoxicating to both men. She lay back amongst Cygnus’ pillows, her wild hair spread around her like some sort of nimbus. Her whiskey eyes were glazed with lust and need, but there was a slight wariness there that both men longed to soothe. Her hard nipples were clamoring for attention, as was her wet core. Abraxas slid his fingers up her hip, stroking her ribs and belly. He leaned down and kissed her, his tongue teasing her mouth as his fingers teased her nipple. Cygnus’ dark head brushed his chest as he slid in and captured a nipple for himself. Hermione mewled and gasped.
“Abraxas,” she moaned.
It was an unspoken order, and he obeyed. He positioned himself carefully, gripping her thighs in his large hands, and slid home. He groaned as he slid into her. It was very, very different from Cygnus, but it was just as incredible, just as good. She was bloody tight, and warm, and wet. It was like heaven and hell: it felt so good he never wanted to leave, but he hoped to Mordred he could last long enough to make it good for Hermione. She was watching him with wide eyes, surprise on her beautiful face.
“Okay, love?” Abraxas managed to grit out.
“Yes,” she whispered in a thready voice, and then nodded to back up her faint voice. He moved inside her and her eyes widened even more. “Oh! Do that again.”
“My pleasure,” he growled at her, and moved inside her again. She gave a breathy sigh and her head fell back. Cygnus was watching the both of them and his eyes were smoldering black orbs.
“Be careful, Brax,” Cygnus murmured, one hand on Abraxas’ shoulder. Abraxas nodded, and that hand with those sensitive fingers traced his spine. He shivered in pleasure, and then concentrated on the woman in front of him.
This was what the fire wanted, Hermione realized with Abraxas’ first stroke, which was why she’d asked him to do it again. With each stroke, the fire seemed to transform to something else. It was pleasurable, it made her moan and gasp and writhe beneath Abraxas like a wanton woman, but it wasn’t the flames anymore. Her skin still felt a little too tight, and every touch from either Cygnus or Abraxas heightened that feeling. Everything seemed to be moving toward a point where her skin was going to burst and those not-flames were going to break free. Hermione wasn’t completely ignorant of sex, but this seemed to be so much more than anything she’d ever experienced. Abraxas was a large man, he was filling her fuller than she’d ever felt before. She was nervous about Cygnus if he was even larger. In addition, Abraxas and Cygnus were both attentive and tender. They touched her everywhere, teasing her body to do things she hadn’t even realized were possible. Abraxas’ strokes were becoming deeper, harder, faster, and she moaned her approval. He was pushing her toward something and she wanted it, whatever it was.
“Please,” she gasped, clutching his forearms. His face had a look of fierce concentration, but he leaned down to kiss her swiftly and deeply. He was pounding into her now and she was encouraging him with every cry and every moan. She felt the not-flames breaking through all over her skin so that they were dancing on her skin. Her back arched and she screamed at the ceiling, the not-flames wrapping around the both of them. Abraxas’ loud roar echoed back to her, and he slumped over her for a moment, his forehead pressing against hers.
“All right, love?” He asked her softly. She nodded. He rolled off of her to catch his breath. Cygnus leaned forward and scooped her up in his arms. She blinked at him in surprise. He pressed a light kiss to her forehead.
“My contract is still in effect, Hermione,” he said gently. “Let’s draw a bath for you, and then we’ll seal our contract.”
“Oh,” she murmured. Cygnus gently slid her into a bath that he’d already drawn for her. He picked up a washcloth and began to wash her carefully, she snatched the washcloth out of his hand, blushing. “I can do it myself.”
“I’m sure that you can,” Cygnus said gently, pushing a wild curl over her shoulder. “I was trying to be a gentleman.”
“I’m sorry,” she murmured, with a shrug. “I’m not exactly used to this.”
“I would imagine not,” Cygnus said dryly. She splashed him with the bathwater and he laughed at her. “Now, I will allow you a few minutes of privacy, and then I shall come collect you.”
Hermione took her time to clean herself. She didn’t feel overly tender, as she had been afraid of, rather she felt relaxed, calm. She shifted in the bath, and she felt the fire begin again. Her eyes widened and she stared down at herself. Apparently, Cygnus understood how these contract things worked. The fire feeling must be because of the contracts. The flames were licking along her nerves again, and Cygnus walked back into the bathroom, as though he knew that it was time or something. His eyes were dark, watching her. Her eyes swept down his frame and stopped at his pelvis; she stared at him, and swallowed hard.
“Are you sure that this is going to work?” She asked nervously. Cygnus chuckled, and it was a deep, sexy sound that made the flames dance inside her.
“I’m sure,” he said with a smile.
“Okay, then,” Hermione said, and she stood up in the bath.
Cygnus stared at her naked, wet body and swallowed hard. He helped her out of the bath, and then cast a quick drying spell on her. He led her back out into the bedroom where Abraxas was waiting, reclining on the bed and watching her with molten silver eyes. Her belly tightened at the look he was giving her, the promises those eyes were making. They helped her into the bed, and she sat there watching the both of them while the flames raced along her nerves. Abraxas leaned in and kissed her, while Cygnus’ fingers slid down her belly, passed the neatly trimmed hair at the apex of her thighs, to slide inside her. The slightly cool sensation made her look at him with a raised brow. He shrugged.
“I just want to make sure I don’t hurt you,” he said with a slight blush on his cheeks.
Abraxas chuckled against her breast, and then captured the nipple with his teeth. She gasped when he bit down slightly, but then she moaned at the pleasure that seemed to make the flames race faster. Cygnus laid down on his back, and watched them, a small smile on his lips. Hermione turned to him, her eyes drawn to his rather impressive cock.
“You can touch it if you want to, love. He likes that,”Abraxas breathed in her ear. Hermione looked at Cygnus and he nodded. She touched him lightly, and he watched her with those black eyes. She grew braver and wrapped her small hand around him as well as she could. His breathing grew a little erratic, and when she moved her hand against the silky skin he groaned. She pulled her hand back as though she’d burned it. Abraxas laughed in her ear, and gently led her hand back to Cygnus. He wrapped her fingers around Cygnus, and then wrapped his own fingers around Cygnus, just below her hand. “Just like this, love. See?”
“Abraxas,” Cygnus bit out between clenched teeth. Then his eyes rolled back and he groaned even louder.
“He’s just mad because the both of us are making him crazy,” Abraxas whispered in her ear. Hermione could see that this was true, and she giggled. Abraxas kissed her swiftly, his hand still stroking Cygnus. Hermione leaned into the kiss, her own small hand still sliding over the silky soft skin of Cygnus’ cock. She moaned into his mouth, but Cygnus was the one who groaned in response.
“Stop, please,” Cygnus panted at Abraxas, and he took his hand away, smirking at his lover. “Hermione, sweet, come here.”
With gentle hands, Abraxas helped her straddle Cygnus, and positioned her so that she could slide onto him. Inch by delicious inch, she slid down onto him, and he wasn’t sure if he could bear it. She was stretching to take all of him, but she was very, very tight. He closed his eyes and tried breathing through his nose. He couldn’t look at her beautiful whiskey-colored eyes, or her full lips parted in surprise and pleasure, or her perfect breasts that jiggled slightly with every labored breath and pant. It was too much. He’d lose control and Abraxas would spend the rest of their lives together never letting him hear the end of it. When she was fully seated on him, she wriggled against him and his eyes snapped open.
“Hermione,” he groaned a warning, and a plea. Abraxas was smirking at him again, the smug bastard. His fingers dug into her hips and he carefully guided her, so that she lifted herself up, and then slid back down.
“Oooh,” she moaned, her head falling back, exposing her throat.
Soon she found her own rhythm, and Cygnus clung to her hips, hanging on by a thread, waiting for her with the just the vestige of control. She slammed into him, screaming his name, and he let go, pumping into her, clinging to her hips until he shouted his release and fell back onto the pillows. She was slumped across his chest, her hair fanned out on his skin. He gathered her to him and kissed the top of her head. She sighed and burrowed into his side, her hand draped across his chest. Her breathing became deep and even, and he knew she’d fallen asleep on him. He felt Abraxas snuggle up against his other side and he turned his head slightly so that his lover could kiss him. Abraxas’ lips pressed against his firmly and then he laid his head on Cygnus’ shoulder.
“Love you,” Abraxas muttered into his neck. Cygnus smiled and turned out the lights with a wave of his hand.
“Love you, too,” he sighed, and felt his eyes close in weariness.
Chapter 4: Facing the Consequences
The Morning After-- Hermione struggles to understand her changed circumstances.
Chapter Three - Facing the Consequences
"Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune."
The sun’s rays fell right onto Hermione’s face, and she shifted irritably trying to escape the relentless, piercing light. The subtle movement of her hips caused her to ache, and she hissed in pain, which made Cygnus’ arms tighten around her. She wriggled against him, trying break free, and he pressed even tighter against her. She brought up her hands, to try and move his muscled arm and stared at her wrist in shock. Surrounding her wrist was a platinum band—almost like a bangle, but thicker—except that there didn’t appear to be any kind of hinge or clasp. Her breath came in small pants, and she felt around for her husband’s wrist. She found his right arm and pulled up his hand. Standing out against his golden skin was a platinum band that matched hers. She managed to get out from under his arms and looked around for Abraxas. She found him spooning against Cygnus’ back, and grabbed his pale, right wrist, which also had a platinum band. She wriggled out of the bed, and slipped on her nightgown. Then she snuck out of the bedroom and out into the hall.
“Dory! Bicky! You get your house elf selves here, NOW!” she hissed into the hallway. They popped in almost immediately and regarded her with surprise.
“Mistress? Is you needing anything?” Dory asked her cautiously. She thrust her wrist under their noses.
“What the bloody hell is this?” Hermione demanded furiously. Bicky looked at her curiously.
“It’s a wedding band, Mistress,” Bicky explained, carefully, her face registering confusion and uncertainty.
“But…it’s a what? Why doesn’t it look like a normal wedding band? Why isn’t it on my finger? How did it get there? What does it mean? What does it do?” Hermione fired off the questions that were bothering her the most, still staring at the strange platinum band on her wrist.
“Mistress might be wanting to read through those contracts herself,” Dory suggested. “These is very old wedding bands, from a very, very old type of magic. It is being the ceremony that binds enemies together…the wedding that brings peace to warring factions. It is not being done anymore. Those contracts must be centuries old.”
“Does Blishwick Manor have books on this sort of thing in their library?” Hermione asked as calmly as possible. Screaming and running up and down the hall waving her hands in the air would accomplish nothing.
“They is, Mistress,” Dory said with a small nod.
“Rabnott Manor is having such books as well, Mistress,” Bicky said eagerly, not wanting to be left out.
“Dory, take me to Blishwick Manor,” Hermione commanded, holding out her hand. Dory took her hand and they apparated out with a crack. Bicky followed because even though she hadn’t been directly ordered to come along, she had a feeling that her Mistress would want the Rabnott family’s books too.
In the informal dining room, Pollux Black stood up suddenly, and stared at his wife. She stared back, her eyes wide. He looked at Hyperion Malfoy, and his lips tightened.
“The wards shifted,” he said finally. “She’s left.”
“What have those idiot sons of ours done,” Hyperion ground out between clenched teeth. Artemesia sighed and rubbed her temple, which had begun to throb suddenly. Could their sons have been that stupid? Sweet Morgana, she hoped not.
“Hinky,” Irma Black called crisply. A house elf appeared at her elbow.
“Yes, Mistress?” Hinky bobbed politely.
“Go and wake Cygnus and Abraxas. Tell them to report to the informal dining room, immediately,” Irma’s voice was coldly furious. “Do not let them override you. They will get dressed, and they will come down, NOW.”
“Yes, Mistress,” Hinky said with resignation. He cracked out.
Cygnus and Abraxas were still spooning in Cygnus’ bed, and both were sound asleep. Neither man was the sort that usually got up at the crack of dawn, and they enjoyed cuddling in bed for a couple hours in the morning. Abraxas had snuggled against Cygnus’ back, and had his face pressed into his lover’s neck. He’d wrapped one arm around Cygnus’ waist, and his hand trailed down Cygnus’ chest and belly toward his semi-hard cock. Cygnus mumbled in his sleep and shifted slightly as Abraxas’ hand closed around him and stroked leisurely. He sighed in his sleep, and Abraxas grinned against Cygnus’ shoulder.
“Young Master Abraxas? Young Master Cygnus? Mistress insists on your presence in the informal dining room. Now,” Hinky said in a loud, firm voice. Both men groaned in irritation. Abraxas growled in frustration, and released Cygnus.
“Hinky?” Cygnus said groggily. He sat up and looked around blearily. “Brax, where’s Hermione?”
“I believe the young Mistress is gone, and this is why your lady mother desires your presence, Master Cygnus,” Hinky said with a slight frown at the two young men.
“She’s gone?” Both men said at the same time.
“How?” Cygnus asked in shock. The wards for the Black Estate had anti-apparition measures built in.
“I believe the young Mistress used her house elf to leave,” Hinky said with a slight sniff.
“Bloody hell,” Abraxas groaned, and fell back into the bed.
“Get up, Brax,” Cygnus snapped. “It sounds like mother’s on a right rampage.”
“The Mistress is most unhappy,” Hinky agreed firmly.
“Why did she leave?” Abraxas asked quietly. “I thought last night went well.”
“I had thought so as well,” Cygnus mused thoughtfully. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He looked thoughtfully at his wrist. “We’ve got the bands to prove we’re married. That should stop some of mother’s rage.”
“Thank Mordred,” Abraxas muttered, picturing his own mother’s irritation.
“I knew she was going to be stubborn,” Cygnus sighed as he pulled on his shirt and buttoned it.
“She’s ours now, we might as well get used to it,” Abraxas said dryly, and Cynus snorted.
“Let’s go talk to them,” he muttered.
Blishwick Manor was in perfect order, and the house elves seemed to be happy that they had a mistress again. Hermione decided that it was better to divide and conquer, so she ordered them to go to any of her estates and bring her all the books that had to do with the type of marriage she now found herself in. One of the house elves found some old witches’ robes for Hermione to change into, and she spent the rest of the morning reworking Blishwick Manor’s wards. In the late morning, she took Dory and Bicky with her to Gringott’s, straightened out her affairs, and she decided that after that she would go on to purchase clothing since all of hers was in an alternate universe and she didn’t fancy wearing her nightgown for the rest of her life. However, at Gringott’s, she hit a slight snag.
“What just a minute,” Hermione bit out through clenched teeth. “I’m a what?”
“You are the Duchess of Aumale,” the goblin repeated himself with a sour look.
“But—but there aren’t any rulers in the wizarding world,” Hermione protested wildly, her head spinning as she tried to recall exactly what Remus Lupin had explained to them during her sixth year at Hogwarts. “There are no princes, no kings and queens.”
“Perhaps not in your wizarding world, your grace, but in this one there have been. The current Queen is a witch, and the House of Blishwick has served hers for centuries,” the goblin explained curtly. Hermione’s mouth opened and closed several times. The goblin looked at his paperwork, and smiled slightly. “You are also the Countess of Wiltshire, and…oh yes, the Viscountess of Welles.”
“Is there anything special I have to do because of that?” Hermione asked faintly, her eyes wide in shock. The goblin shrugged.
“You must request an audience with the Queen and swear fealty to her. I imagine you’ll need to have your husbands with you as well,” he said dryly. Hermione paled slightly.
“How does that work?” She asked with a growing sense of dread. “I mean, um, are they both Dukes, or what?”
“Whoever married the heiress of House Blishwick is the Duke of Aumale, and whoever married the heiress of House Rabnott is the Earl of Wiltshire,” the goblin said with a twitch of his eye.
“I see,” Hermione said faintly, but she wasn’t sure that she saw anything at all. The goblin frowned at her, and stroked his chin.
“Your grace, I feel that perhaps I should point out that the audience with the Queen is more of a…how would you say…it is a public thing—it doesn’t affect your status. When the Malfoys and the Blacks activated their betrothal contracts, the magic pulled you here. The magic recognizes you as the heiress of Blishwick and Rabnott, and nothing the Queen can say or do will change that. You are still the Duchess of Aumale, and the Countess of Wiltshire because here, in this world, those titles are directly tied to your blood and your magic,” the goblin explained carefully. Hermione blinked.
“Thank you for explaining things,” Hermione said quietly, shifting uncomfortably in her seat. The goblin watched her with unblinking eyes.
“You wonder at my friendliness? It is strange to you?” The goblin guessed. Hermione nodded. The goblin shrugged. “In this world, the House of Blishwick has supported our kind in the Wizengamot multiple times. Your House is considered friendly to us, and I should like to think that that tradition will continue,” the goblin said matter-of-factly. “Further, we are aware that despite your unfortunate escapades in the London branch of your world, you have always been a champion of other magical beings.”
“I…I see,” Hermione managed to get out, her mind still spinning.
“Now, if your grace would be willing to go to the vaults, we need to collect ducal regalia for your grace’s audience with your queen,” the goblin said firmly.
“Oh, yes. Let’s do that,” Hermione murmured, stunned.
When she left Gringott’s, Hermione still felt a little odd. She had had Bicky take her ducal regalia to Blishwick Manor, and then take her card to the Queen’s Wizard Chancellor to inform him of her ‘arrival’ and request an audience with her majesty. Apparently, in this world, the muggle and wizarding worlds were still kept completely separate. The only major difference was that the Queen was in on the secret, and she had a separate palace where she handled wizarding affairs. Hermione wondered if Blishwick Manor had any firewhiskey because she was beginning to think that getting nicely drunk might help her current mental state.
Now the whole idea of purchasing clothing became slightly more important. Hermione would bet a galleon or two that if one were going to a royal audience, wearing one’s nightgown just wasn’t the done thing. She nibbled her lip and looked up and down Diagon Alley. Finally, with a sense of resignation, Hermione opened the door to Twilfitt & Tatting’s, which seemed to be an upscale sort of shop. She wondered if they had any ready-to-wear ducal robes, and then stifled an hysterical giggle.
“Good morning,” the saleswoman said with cool politeness. “How may I be of service today?”
“I need an entire wardrobe,” Hermione stated coolly, her eyes quickly taking in the inside of the shop.
“Indeed,” the saleswoman said smoothly. “And where should we send Madam’s things?”
“Blishwick Manor,” Hermione replied. “How soon can things be ready?”
“We could make a few pieces for Madam right now, and the house elves could take them for you. The rest could be ready within a few days,” the saleswoman explained. Hermione could tell that the woman was trying to determine who and what she was, exactly.
“I see,” Hermione said thoughtfully, and nibbled on her lip. “That will just have to be sufficient.”
“If one might know what sorts of clothing Madam might be needing,” the saleswoman suggested with one raised brow. Hermione frowned slightly. She turned to Dory.
“Can you go to Mrs. Malfoy and Mrs. Black and see if they’re free?” Hermione asked her house elf curiously. Dory nodded.
“Of course, Mistress.”
“Please tell them that I require their assistance,” Hermione instructed her house elf. Dory nodded her understanding and left with a crack. In a matter of moments, Hermione’s entire new family was standing inside Twilfitt & Tattings. She blinked at all of them in surprise. The saleswoman looked deeply impressed.
“Hermione!” Abraxas exclaimed and pulled her into a hug. She looked up at him, and then looked at her new mothers-in-law.
“You wouldn’t happen to know what I need to wear for my audience with her majesty, do you?” Hermione asked calmly. Mrs. Malfoy and Mrs. Black both stared at her, and then looked at their husbands.
“You have an audience?” Pollux Black asked nervously. The four parents exchanged glances. Was their new daughter-in-law trying to break the marriage contract already? Hermione shrugged.
“Well, not yet, but I’ve sent my card. Cygnus, you’ll need something ducal, and Abraxas you need something Earl-y.” Hermione turned to her husbands to inform them of the last bit. Abraxas frowned.
“Excuse me?” He said slowly, his brow furrowed. Hermione frowned at him. Was he upset because Cygnus’ title was loftier than his?
“It’s not my fault,” she said firmly. “You married the Rabnott heiress, and the goblin at Gringott’s said that makes you the Earl of Wiltshire. Cygnus’ contract was for House Blishwick, so he’s the Duke of Aumale.”
“What?” Hyperion Malfoy said in confusion. Hermione sighed heavily and turned to her mothers-in-law.
“Can we please get rid of them? We only have a few hours to select an entire wardrobe, including court dress, and I need your help.” Hermione explained quickly. Both women’s eyes widened in understanding and they nodded.
“Hyperion, take Abraxas to Gringott’s to pick up the things we’ve already discussed. Then you and Pollux can go and find us a nice restaurant to take lunch in. By then, we’ll be done here and you may escort us to wherever it is,” Artemesia directed her husband crisply. He nodded and kissed his wife on the cheek. Abraxas kissed Hermione on the cheek and followed his father out the door. Irma Black turned to her husband and smiled slightly.
“Pollux, dear, you and Cygnus need to straighten out a few things as well. You might also talk to Hyperion about properties. We will all need to sit down together to discuss the particulars, I’m sure,” Irma said firmly. Meanwhile, Cygnus had dragged his new wife off to a quiet corner of the shop. His hands were on Hermione’s shoulders and they squeezed slightly.
“We’d thought you ran away,” he said in a low voice, his dark eyes stormy. Hermione shook her head, mutely, watching his face.
“No, of course not,” she said softly. “I just didn’t know what this bracelet thing meant, and I had to come to Gringott’s to straighten everything out. Then my account manager said that I’d have to meet with the Queen, and I decided I needed clothes even worse than I thought I did. You must remember, Cygnus, the only clothing I had was the nightgown you pulled me here in.”
“Oh,” Cygnus said softly, and he flushed slightly. “Sorry about that. Abraxas and I…last night was…I’m glad you’re the one the magic called.”
“I think maybe I am, too,” she whispered, looking up into his handsome face. “Even if this is all too, too weird to be true.”
“Cygnus? Come along, let’s leave these ladies to their work,” Pollux called his son firmly. Cygnus gave her a lop-sided grin, and then he kissed her lightly on the mouth.
“Until tonight,” he breathed in her ear, and looked at her with those smoldering eyes.
“Now, Lady Hermione will require a number of robes in formal styles both for court and for regular formal functions. She will also need some semi-formal and some informal robes. In addition, she will need hats and cloaks to match said robes. My dear, do you have any color preferences?” Mrs. Malfoy had been speaking to the saleswoman, but she directed the last question at Hermione.
“Yes, um, blue, I suppose,” Hermione said after a moment. Mrs. Black smiled at her fondly.
“I think her grace will look lovely in a deep, emerald green. Perhaps some Gryffindor Crimson, as well,” Irma Black said thoughtfully. Hermione snorted.
“Mrs. Black, have I acquired other titles that perhaps I ought to know about?” Hermione asked dryly. Her mother-in-law smiled smugly.
“Cygnus doesn’t have any titles of his own, but when his father passes, he’ll be the Duke of Brambley,” she confided. “His father will be quite non-plussed to have Cygnus equal to him in rank.”
“Abraxas holds the courtesy title of Baron of Clary, and when Hyperion eventually dies, he’ll be Viscount Thuress. The next wizarding court function should be fascinating to watch,” Artemesia Malfoy said mildly, with a slight smile playing around her lips.
“If their graces, and Viscountess Thuress would please come this way,” the saleswoman seemed slightly overwhelmed to have this many esteemed personages in her small shop at one time. Hermione followed the saleswoman with a heavy internal sigh.
Standing still in one spot for hours, turning slightly, while needles and pins magically moved around Hermione was a fairly new experience. In the past, she’d just purchased whatever had come to hand. As long as it was clean, neat and serviceable, that was all that mattered. Needless to say, her new mothers-in-law were absolutely horrified at the thought. They wanted to discuss each and every outfit with her. Did it flatter her figure? Was this the right shade for her complexion? Was it fashionable? Hermione withstood it all patiently with a martyred expression. The saleswoman left them alone for several minutes, and her mothers-in-law turned to her with serious expressions.
“Hermione, dear, last night,” Irma, or well…Lady Irma, asked cautiously and then stopped turning to Artemesia Malfoy.
“That is to say, erm, the boys,” the Viscountess tried, and then paused. She turned a pained expression to her friend who sighed and turned to Hermione.
“They…they were careful of your feelings, yes? They were attentive?” Lady Irma questioned her carefully. Hermione’s cheeks turned pink.
“I—I…yes…they were…attentive,” she managed to get out, blushing darker and darker with each word. The two women looked at one another and then turned back to their daughter-in-law.
“Hermione, may I call you that? Er, you may hear things at court, or at the reception we’re throwing to celebrate the marriage, but please don’t believe everything that you hear,” Artemisia said slowly, looking at Irma occasionally.
“What are you trying to say?” Hermione asked carefully. Irma’s lips pressed tightly together.
“Our sons,” Irma said with a slight frown. “They have certain reputations, which are not entirely warranted. I would hate for you to hear something, and make an assumption based on a falsehood.”
“Are they Dark Wizards?” Hermione joked lightly. Irma and Artemisia blinked at her.
“Of course they are,” Artemisia responded immediately. “Just as you are a Light Witch. Why on earth do think our families had those contracts?”
“Wait, what?” Hermione demanded, absently rubbing her head. Her mothers-in-law exchanged a significant look.
“I think perhaps we ought to get you some history books about our world,” Irma murmured. “Perhaps things are more different where you come from than we had imagined.”
“Wait, they’re not Death Eaters, are they?” Hermione was panicking. If she had just married two Death Eaters, she was going to figure out how to get the hell out of this marriage, NOW. Even if it was a ‘till death do you part’ sort of a deal.
“I’m sorry, what?” Artemisia asked curiously.
“They’re not followers of Voldemort?” Hermione clarified. Both women looked at her in surprise.
“Of who?” Irma Black asked, perplexed. Hermione racked her brain, trying to think of Voldemort’s other aliases.
“Oh! Erm, Tom Riddle?” Hermione said in triumph. Irma Black’s face became closed off…almost like a barrier had suddenly gone up between them. Artemisia looked as though she’d just smelled something awful. “So you have heard of him, then? They…they aren’t followers of his, are they?”
“Certainly not!” Artemisia said in shocked surprise. Irma looked at her in confusion.
“He’s a leader, in your world?” She asked cautiously. “You said Cygnus married Druella Rosier? When did that happen?”
“Oh, er, they were rather young,” Hermione said blushing slightly. “I remember asking Sirius about that. He said it, er, it happened, sometimes, but usually the people involved…liked each other…and that his Uncle Cygnus couldn’t stand his wife, Druella. His eldest daughter…Bellatrix…she’s the one that gave me the…the scars. She had an unholy fascination with Voldemort, er, Tom Riddle. She worshipped the ground he walked on, was terrified of disappointing him.”
“Hmph,” Irma Black grunted, her lips curling slightly. Artemisia tried to control her shock, and was failing.
“Irma,” she was whispering desperately. Irma glared at her friend.
“It’s over and done with,” Irma said icily. “There is no need to bring up that whole unpleasantness.”
“Yes, but in her world, he became some sort of leader, and she thinks our sons might be followers of his, which means in her world…they are.” Artemisia was whispering frantically, her eyes scanning the shop for the saleswoman. Irma turned to look at Hermione, her eyes searching.
“Is it true?” Irma hissed in displeasure. Hermione took a step back, her eyes wide.
“Your, um, your grandchildren definitely were,” she whispered through numb lips. She wasn’t sure what was going on, but she had a feeling she was treading in deep waters. “Bellatrix and Narcissa both. Andromeda was disowned because she married a muggle. Um, Abraxas’ son Lucius married Narcissa, and they both served Voldemort.”
“Unbelievable,” Irma growled to herself. Artemisia looked at Irma, and then looked at her daughter-in-law.
“Druella was pregnant when she, er, died,” Artemisia whispered. “Cygnus swore it wasn’t his, and he cast a paternity charm in front of all of us. It…it said that Tom Riddle was the father. He, erm, met with an unfortunate accident around the time of Druella’s death.”
“Nimue’s toes,” Hermione breathed, her eyes wide.
“Indeed,” Irma agreed darkly.
“He’s…he’s dead? Just like that? Poof? No Death Eaters? Sweet Merlin’s staff, I—I,” Hermione fell over in a dead faint. Irma and Artemisia dropped to their knees and began patting at her cheeks and chafing her wrists. After several moments her lashes fluttered, and she was looking up at the concerned faces of her mothers-in-law. “Sorry, it’s just such a shock. If you knew the things he’s done in…in my world. The atrocities that he brought about.”
“Perhaps it is a good thing that our Cygnus was smart enough to cast a paternity charm,” Irma said softly, watching her daughter-in-law. Hermione was still extremely pale and she swayed slightly.
“What’s wrong, dear,” Artemisia asked gently, helping Hermione to her feet.
“It’s a bit much to take in,” Hermione said faintly. “In my world, he started wars that went on for years.”
The bell above the door tinkled merrily as all four gentleman re-entered the shop. Cygnus and Abraxas both looked slightly anxious and moved immediately toward her, frowning slightly at her. They exchanged a look and then turned to their mothers.
“What happened?” Abraxas asked shortly. His mother shrugged.
“Hermione had a bit of a shock,” she said evasively. Hermione looked pensively at her husbands when they turned to look at her.
“Remember my scars?” She asked them quietly, not looking at her in-laws. Both men nodded.
“Of course,” Cygnus said with a slight frown, his hand moving protectively to the small of her back.
“I just found out that the person responsible for them died years ago. The war I told you about won’t even happen here,” she said shakily, her face still pale. “All the people that died…none of that will happen.”
“That’s a good thing, right?” Abraxas asked, confused. She smiled slightly.
“Er, yes, it is. I’m just adjusting to the idea,” she murmured softly.
“Let’s go eat then,” Cygnus said firmly, gently steering her toward the door.
Black Manor was an impressive estate, Hermione decided as she followed her husbands into Lady Irma’s family parlor. All of them sat down gracefully and Abraxas pulled Hermione down in between Cygnus and himself. Artemisia and Hyperion briefly touched hands and Pollux stood behind his wife with his hands on her shoulders. Hermione could tell that both of these couples liked and respected each other. She glanced quickly up at Abraxas who had his gaze trained on his parents, and snuck a look at Cygnus, who was watching her with a slight smile. He patted her knee gently and turned his attention to his parents. Hermione turned toward the Blacks and the Malfoys and waited patiently.
“I believe your grace had some questions?” Pollux began politely. Hermione twisted her hands in her lap and Abraxas’ hand immediately covered her two smaller hands and stilled them. She bit her lip nervously.
“I want to see a copy of my marriage contract,” she said with quiet dignity. She held up the hand that had the platinum wedding band. “I’m still not sure what this is, I’ve never seen one.”
“It’s a wedding band,” Irma said slowly and clearly as though Hermione might be slow. She held out her wand and touched it to Hermione’s band. Above her wrist it showed her name and little links that connected her name to the names of Cygnus Black and Abraxas Malfoy. The names glowed for just a moment and then faded. Hermione watched all of this carefully.
“I see,” she said slowly. “Why is it on my wrist?”
“The wedding ring being worn on a finger is a rather new concept for us,” Hyperion explained with a slight smile. “Your wedding contract is several centuries old.”
“But it’s still valid?” She questioned with a slight frown. They all frowned back at her.
“Of course, it represents the sworn oaths of our families. That’s not something that just goes away,” Pollux pointed out, concern evident on his face.
“I’m so confused,” Hermione muttered rubbing her temples.
“We understand that this world must be very different,” Artemisia said with an uncertain look at Irma who nodded encouragingly. “However, we want you to be happy here with us.”
“That’s part of why I’m so confused,” Hermione practically wailed. “You admitted that Cygnus and Abraxas are Dark Wizards. Shouldn’t you have me chained to a wall in the dungeons with heated clamps on all my most tender bits?”
“Er, would you like us to do that?” Abraxas asked with curiosity, a certain gleam in his eye. Hermione stared at him and then blushed.
“Why are you all being so nice to me?” She demanded finally. Pollux sighed and handed over the marriage contract, which was intimidatingly thick.
“I think, your grace, if you read that, it will help you to understand everything,” He said firmly. Hermione accepted it, and nodded uncertainly. She looked around at all of them.
“I was planning on going to my house to research and read this contract,” she said quietly. “What time is dinner?”
“We will be coming with you,” Cygnus announced firmly. Hermione raised an eyebrow, and a haughty expression slid over her features. Irma and Artemisia traded small smiles.
“Are you ordering me?” She asked icily. His dark grey eyes were utterly calm.
“No, I’m merely telling you. Mother seems to think that your world is very different. Would wizards there allow you to go somewhere alone that might or might not be safe?” Cygnus asked. Hermione thought for a moment about Harry and his strong tendencies for overprotectiveness. She remembered other wizards who, while they had been alive, had been very protective of her safety.
“No,” she admitted finally.
“Well thank Mordred they’re somewhat civilized,” Abraxas muttered with a slight frown at the idea of his wife wandering off by herself into unknown dangers.
“Excuse me, but…did you say ‘thank Mordred’?” Hermione squeaked nervously.
“Of course he did,” Artemisia said firmly. “He’s a Dark Wizard. Really, Irma, the girl needs that book you mentioned as soon as possible.”
“Yes, I think I do,” Hermione said faintly. Lady Irma sighed and nodded.
“I’ll have Hinky bring it to Blishwick Manor. Dinner will be at eight and we do dress for dinner, dear,” Lady Irma said kindly.
Hermione nodded and then rose gracefully to her feet. Her husbands rose immediately to their feet as well, and she glanced up at the both of them. She turned back to her in-laws and noted that Hyperion had also risen to his feet. Pollux had been standing, and he remained so. Hermione shook her head slightly. This was definitely going to take an adjustment period.
“If you would please use the family’s apparition point,” Pollux said in a slightly strained voice. Hermione flushed and nodded.
“Of course, er, your grace,” Hermione said at once. He smiled at her.
“We are all family, Pollux would be acceptable,” he said warmly. Hermione nodded again. Then he frowned slightly as something occurred to him.
“We need to add you to the wards,” he said firmly. A slightly pained look crossed his face. “It would be more polite…if and when you go to other homes…to not have your house elf pop you in. Certain families would not appreciate your whimsy.”
“I understand…Pollux,” Hermione said with a slight blush on her cheeks.
The addition of Mrs. Cygnus Black to the family wards was slightly more complex than Hermione had realized and she paid careful attention to the process. He pricked her palm with an obsidian knife and used the single drop of blood that welled there to key the wards to her and her magical signature. Pollux then pointed his wand at her palm and healed the tiny incision.
“You are now free to come and go as you will to our house,” Pollux explained. “The wards recognize you as family.”
“Thank you,” she said politely. Cygnus took her elbow and led her to the family’s private apparition point.
Research in the Blishwick Manor library was exciting due to the sheer number of volumes. There were a number of books that Hermione had never seen before and she practically salivated over them. If she thought that she was going to be left alone in the library, she was pleasantly surprised. Her husbands sat down across from her and each pulled a book off of one of the piles. They also grabbed parchment and quills and began to skim through the books. Abraxas had tied back his long, platinum blond hair so that it wouldn’t get in his way, and his head was bent studiously as he looked through the book he’d grabbed. His shoulders were so broad, and his hands were so large, that Hermione would have guessed that he would feel more comfortable outside, perhaps playing Quidditch or something, but he seemed perfectly content to sit in the library with her and study. Cygnus’ midnight-black hair fell in a concealing curtain around his face as he read, his quill scratching softly across the parchment. She stared at both of them for several moments, which caused both men to glance up at her with questioning looks.
“Hermione?” Cygnus asked curiously. “Are you well?”
“Of course,” Hermione said, shaking herself slightly. “I’m just unused to anyone joining me in my research.”
“Cygnus and I both enjoy reading,” Abraxas said mildly, one brow quirked, “but research is an important weapon for any battle. We’ve both been instructed in proper research technique.”
“I think I could get used to that,” Hermione said with satisfaction. Both men snorted.
“You don’t have a choice, dear wife,” Abraxas said firmly. “This is forever—that much I can tell you.”
“Oddly enough, I don’t have a problem with the forever part,” Hermione muttered, blushing furiously. “I just want to know the parameters of the bond.”
“That’s completely understandable,” Cygnus soothed, patting her on the arm.
Chapter 5: Acceptance
Research helps Hermione come to grips with the reality of her marriage.
Chapter Four - Acceptance
"Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose."
-Zora Neale Hurston
Was there such a thing as information overload?
Was it possible?
Hermione had read everything she could get her hands on for days. She spent every second she could researching her new life. Well, almost every second. Cygnus and Abraxas were wonderful research partners, but they insisted that she take regular breaks to eat and sleep and, er, to enjoy her new status of wife. Both men were openly affectionate with her when it was just the three of them, but when they visited her in-laws they were always proper and polite. Hermione learned a variety of things from her research. Her primary concern had been her marriage bond.
The conjugium pax was an ancient way to settle wars amicably. It bound two (or more) prospective mates together for eternity. Their magic became inextricably linked so that trying to break the bond could remove their magic, leaving them squibs or completely magic-less if it didn’t kill them. Further, to protect the individuals who were usually marrying those who had been their bitter enemies, any pain inflicted upon one member of the marriage could be felt by any other members of the marriage. One of the more noted side effects was that the husbands became full participants in childbirth, they could feel their wives’ pain as their own. The bond had been designed to protect all of the participants as much as magically possible because the marriage itself represented the peace that it forged. Her particular marriage contracts, the both of them, had reinforced all of that.
In the distant past, there had been several blood feuds between her Houses and the Houses of Black and Malfoy. All parties had worried for the safety of any children who would be joined in the conjugium pax, and each side had demanded redundant safety measures. She was bound on a number of magical levels to the Houses of Black and Malfoy for all time, but her health and safety was tied to theirs. If anything happened to her, the Houses of Black and Malfoy would fall.
Her secondary concern had been all this talk about Dark Wizards and Light Wizards. Hermione learned that in this world, somewhere in the misty mists of timelessness the gods (or whoever) had decreed that the Balance of the world’s magic was paramount.
Apparently, there was Dark Magic and Light Magic, and many families had an affinity for one type over the other. Hermione’s families, both Blishwick and Rabnott, had held an affinity for Light Magic for centuries. She wasn’t sure if she believed that—after all, wasn’t magic simply ‘magic’ and neither dark nor light? Abraxas and Cygnus explained that it had more to do with how one accessed one’s magical core, and the types of spells that one seemed to cast proficiently. For instance, there were very few Dark Healers, and their methods of healing were vastly different than Light Healers. Hermione listened very carefully to everything that Abraxas and Cygnus explained to her, and she nodded politely and took careful notes. Both men exchanged poignant glances and small smiles; they both laughed at her at several points and she finally grew cross and demanded to know what was so funny.
“I think I’m rather glad that you’re from a different world,” Abraxas said fondly, kissing the tip of her nose playfully. She frowned at him and Cygnus tried to hide a smile and failed.
“He means, sweeting, that a Light Witch—one from here—would have spent the last few days weeping and wailing and arguing every single thing we’ve explained to you,” Cygnus explained to his tiny wife. She bit her lower lip and he felt himself grow hard. He shifted uncomfortably.
“Why, are you lying to me?” Hermione demanded indignantly. Both men shook their heads adamantly.
“No,” Abraxas said firmly. “It’s just…in your world there must be prejudice? Isn’t there someone that no one will listen to? Something about which no one will discuss anything? They refuse to hear the truth because they already know it?”
“Yes,” Hermione said flatly. She pursed her lips thoughtfully and studied the two men in front of her.
“How do…how are Muggleborns treated here?” Hermione asked carefully. Confusion crept into both men’s faces.
“You’ve used that phrase before, muggle,” Cygnus said slowly. Abraxas nodded.
“Yes, but what is a Muggle? And what is a Muggleborn?” Abraxas asked curiously.
“Perhaps it is slang from my world? Okay, um, a human being with no magical powers whatsoever, what do you call those?” Hermione asked curiously.
“A human being,” Cygnus said slowly, sure he must be missing something.
“So you have no slang terms for a non-magical person?” Hermione asked in surprise. Both men shook their heads slowly.
“This is a, what did you say, a Muggle?” Abraxas asked with a frown. Hermione nodded.
“So wouldn’t every Muggle be a Muggleborn?” Cygnus asked in confusion. “I don’t understand why you would even have the second word, it makes no sense.”
“No, a magical child born to non-magical parents is called a Muggleborn witch or wizard,” Hermione explained. Both men snorted and shook their heads.
“’Snot possible,” Abraxas said flatly.
“What isn’t?” Hermione asked with a slight frown.
“Look, I’ve got blond hair, yes?” Abraxas asked suddenly. Hermione nodded. “Both parents have to carry the gene for it, did you know? Blond is a recessive trait.”
“I did know that, actually. I’m surprised that you do, though,” Hermione murmured her eyes wide. Abraxas frowned.
“Why?” He asked.
“Modern science isn’t really popular in the wizarding world,” Hermione said drily. “Regardless, what does that have to do with Muggleborns not being able to exist?”
“Well, can people without the genes for blond hair have a baby with blond hair?” Cygnus asked pointedly. Hermione shook her head.
“Of course not, but what does that have to do with anything?” Hermione asked in exasperation. Cygnus and Abraxas looked at one another, and then turned to their wife.
“In our world, science and magic have been found to be complementary to one another. You know that magic affects electricity, yes? We have worked very carefully with Squib scientists who were sworn to protect our world’s secrecy, and they discovered what our legends had already told us. We, the magicals, aren’t exactly human. Well, we are, but we are a mutant variant of humanity. We carry a gene for magic and we pass it along to our children. If one does not have the gene, one cannot produce magical children,” Cygnus explained carefully. Hermione’s eyes widened to comic proportions.
“I’m a…a mutant?” she whispered in shock. Abraxas and Cygnus moved toward her, to hug her and soothe her.
“In scientific terms, yes,” Abraxas said softly, “but remember that blue eyes are a mutation as well. You do not look at a blue-eyed person and think ‘mutant’, do you?”
“Well, no, of course not,” Hermione said sharply.
“There you are then,” Cygnus said with a small smile.
“So…so you don’t have any sort of discrimination against magical children whose parents are not witches or wizards?” Hermione asked carefully. Cygnus and Abraxas shook their heads.
“No, but prestige in our world is tied to one’s family. If one has no family or House to support one, it can be difficult. Often, when a child is discovered to be magical one of the first things that he or she will do is try to establish his or her family tree. If one can prove ancestry, one can approach one’s House and ask to be accepted by the Head. As the official Head of the Blishwick and Rabnott families you may have supplicants approach you,” Abraxas observed thoughtfully. Hermione’s eyes widened.
“I don’t know if I’m ready for that,” she murmured. They both shook their heads.
“You must be,” Cygnus told her. “Without you, without a proper House, their futures would be severely limited. Would you condemn them to that?”
“No,” she said uncertainly. She nibbled on her lower lip again and Cygnus could not help himself. He pressed her against the table and kissed her fiercely, his tongue demanding entry into her mouth.
She had been officially married for less than a week and already she knew that she loved this part of marriage. Sex with Cygnus and Abraxas was incredible, and she knew it wasn’t just because she had so little experience. They were skilled, deft, passionate lovers, but what she appreciated the most was that they always made sure that she was comfortable with what they were doing. They spoke to her, asked her opinion, adjusted their technique to please her. The boys and men that she’d been with in her limited sexual experience seemed to feel that their technique was just dandy and that she ought to enjoy it—if she didn’t, well, obviously the problem lay with her. Cygnus and Abraxas never made her feel that way. Their behavior implied that every woman was different and liked different things. Their behavior implied that what she liked, what she wanted, was important to them and that meant more to her than almost anything else. What made her even happier was that they carried that attitude to all realms of the relationship. However, at that particular moment Cygnus’ lips were moving steadily down her throat and his fingers were busily undoing her robes.
“I do hope you plan on sharing, Cyg,” Abraxas drawled from his seat. Cygnus lifted his dark head and quirked a brow at his co-husband.
“I might,” Cygnus allowed with a casual shrug. “If you get your arse out of that chair and make yourself useful.”
With a snort, Abraxas rose to his feet and strode over to them. To Hermione’s surprise, Abraxas buried a hand in Cygnus’ thick black hair and held him still for a bruising kiss. Her heart rate accelerated as she watched the two wizards attack one another with lips and tongues. They were beautiful together and seeing them like that—passionate and wild—turned her on more than she had ever thought possible. Her breath hitched in her throat and she felt her knickers grow wet. A dark blush spread across her cheeks as she felt her thighs grow slick. When the two men parted, their cheeks flushed and their breathing labored they turned toward her. Cygnus looked worried and he brushed her cheek with his knuckles.
“Hermione?” Cygnus asked uncertainly, his almost black eyes fixed on her. Abraxas suddenly looked nervous. Hermione cleared her throat slightly and turned to face Cygnus.
“Yes?” She asked softly. Abraxas’ fingers were at the nape of her neck, stroking the skin there.
“He’s worried,” Abraxas said roughly, not looking at her. A dull flush crept up Cygnus’ cheeks but he didn’t say anything. “That you’ll be repulsed, or something.”
“Repulsed?” Hermione said blankly. She was honestly confused, which may have been due to the soaked state of her knickers. Had she missed something because she was slightly embarrassed by how turned on their kiss had made her?
“I think that’s a no?” Abraxas said uncertainly, turning to look at their witch. Confusion had furrowed her brow and she was looking at both of them quizzically.
“I think perhaps I missed something,” Hermione murmured finally. Cygnus frowned at her.
“The kiss,” he said flatly. Hermione blinked.
“Am I repulsed by the kiss?” She asked slowly, unsure that she understood. Both men nodded. She blushed furiously, and took Cygnus’ hand in hers. He cocked his head slightly, watching her warily until she slid his hand under the elastic band of her knickers and his fingers slid into her slick folds. His eyebrows flew up his forehead and he stared at her in wonder for a moment. Then he smirked at her and flicked her nub with his long, elegant fingers. She bit her lip and her breathing hitched again. Abraxas frowned at the two of them until Cygnus offered him his fingers.
“Ah,” Abraxas managed to choke out as he grabbed Cygnus’ wrist and sucked on those fingers. “Not repulsed at all, I’d say.”
“No,” Hermione managed to gasp as Cygnus bent his dark head toward her chest and captured a nipple between his teeth. A moan was wrung from her as Abraxas found the other nipple and both of them began to nibble and lick and suck the area each had claimed for himself. A lower, more primitive moan burst from her lips when she saw them reach for one another, deftly undo each other’s trousers, and stroke each other’s cocks leisurely whilst their mouths were occupied. She felt as though she were on fire, every nerve ending sensitized beyond belief. It was almost as bad as the bond compulsion. Abraxas raised his head and looked at her with a wicked grin.
“Definitely not repulsed,” he murmured before he bent his head back to her breast. She whimpered helplessly.
Cygnus licked his way up her chest to nibble on her lips. He sucked on her lower lip for a moment and then pulled back to look into her eyes. He stood up and Abraxas raised his head in surprise to look at Cygnus. The dark-haired wizard began to unbutton his robes and Abraxas smirked and began to do the same. Cygnus laid down on the thick carpet and held out a hand to Hermione. She stopped breathing for just a second because she knew that this moment was important somehow. She looked at him uncertainly, but placed her hand in his. She had not known either man for more than a matter of days, but she trusted both of them. They could not hurt her, their bond made it impossible.
So though her heart was hammering in her chest, she moved closer to Cygnus and allowed him to grasp her hips in his hands and helped him impale her on his rather large cock. He was still unfamiliar to her and his size stretched her to the point of pain. She hissed slightly and his hands were stroking her hips soothingly, his voice murmuring in her ear, his lips pressing light kisses along her shoulder. Once she had grown accustomed to him, she shifted on him slightly and he made a strangled noise.
“Morgana and Mordred,” Cygnus ground out between clenched teeth. “So tight, Brax, so bloody tight.”
“I know, love,” Abraxas purred at him.
He knelt down by Cygnus’ head and ran a hand through his thick black hair, tugging a bit causing Cygnus to moan slightly. Cygnus looked at Hermione for several long moments, his dark grey eyes weighing something. She found herself holding her breath again, watching him and waiting for…she didn’t know what.
Then he leaned up, grasped Abraxas’ thick, hard cock, and wrapped his lips around it. Hermione heard herself whimper again as her nipples tightened almost painfully and felt the incredible tightness of her passage ease just slightly as she grew even wetter. She blushed furiously and bit her lip. She had never suspected this about herself—never in all of her wildest fantasies had this ever crossed her mind. Now that it was here, right in front of her, she couldn’t believe how excited she was becoming. Cygnus' clever tongue licked along the length of Abraxas' shaft as his hands stroked gently. Abraxas tilted his head back and moaned low in his throat. Hermione watched everything with wide eyes, leaning forward in her eagerness. Abraxas’ fingers slid into her hair and he pulled her lips toward his, causing her to move against Cygnus whose moan was somewhat muffled, which only turned her on even more. Hermione was convinced that her cheeks would be permanently red; they would stay that way for all time.
At first, Hermione was self-conscious. Even though she was impaled on Cygnus, and rather front and center, she felt almost as though she were intruding between Cygnus and Abraxas, but Abraxas’ wild, passionate kisses soon made her light-headed enough that she forgot to be embarrassed and instead rocked against Cygnus wantonly with her head tossed back and loud gasps and cries wrung from her throat. When Abraxas came with a loud shout of pleasure, Hermione’s own orgasm was not far behind and Cygnus easily flipped her onto her back and shagged her right into the carpet. When she began to keen her release, Cygnus sped up his thrusts, pistoning into her until he bellowed at the ceiling. Then he was gathering her against his chest and began kissing all over her face.
“Hey,” Abraxas protested. “Where’s mine?”
Hermione grabbed his silky blonde head and pulled it down to them so that she could kiss him. Cygnus grinned at her and snuck in a kiss of his own as well. Abraxas smirked at the both of them. For the rest of the day, Cygnus could not stop smiling. He kept touching both Abraxas and Hermione in little, intimate gestures and grinning like a loon. Hermione blinked uncertainly at him and looked to Abraxas for an explanation. He shrugged helplessly.
“If I had to guess, which I suppose I do,” Abraxas said thoughtfully when Cygnus left to go to the lavatory, “I think it’s because he thought that we might have to hide, er, us, for the rest of our lives together. There are rather a lot of Light Witches who would be repulsed by Cygnus and me—well, our relationship I mean. You, though, you’re not. I’m glad about that, of course, because you’re ours and we’re all going to be together for the rest of our lives.”
“Oh,” Hermione said thoughtfully. Should she be repulsed? Why? They were both so beautiful and together they were even more beautiful. It was like watching art. Pornographic art. What was it the Victorians had called it? Erotica? Yes, and they were all hers. She twisted the platinum wedding band around her wrist and bit her lip. She felt very possessive of the both of them—was that the bond? It couldn’t possibly be her, could it? She’d only known them for a matter of days. Surely you had to know a person for at least a month or two before you were allowed to get this territorial?
“What’s wrong, pet?” Abraxas asked with concern. He pulled her into his lap and cuddled her against his chest. It unnerved Hermione how touchy-feely Abraxas was because it was so very different from her experience with Malfoy men. However, there were worse fates in the world than being cuddled by large, physically affectionate, blond men. Hermione slipped her arms about his neck and stayed there, thinking.
“I feel quite possessive of both you and Cygnus,” Hermione confessed after a few minutes of silence. Abraxas chuckled and his large chest reverberated against her.
“Good,” he said succinctly. “Why does that bother you?”
“I’ve only just met you,” Hermione said quietly. Cygnus snorted as he reentered the library.
“Yes, but you’re our wife,” Cygnus pointed out. Hermione frowned.
“Is it the bond then?” She asked curiously. Cygnus and Abraxas frowned at one another.
“It very well may be,” Cygnus said thoughtfully, his dark eyes taking on a distant look. “I believe part of the conjugiam pax were runes for love, lust, fidelity, family, kinship and peace.”
“Really?” Hermione asked curiously, her eyes widening with academic interest.
“Hmm,” Abraxas grunted in agreement. “Something to study later. Let’s eat and then Cygnus and I can go over court etiquette.”
“Oh! You’re right, we need to do that right away,” Hermione agreed.
An interview with the Queen of the United Kingdom went much smoother than Hermione had expected. To be honest, she had had no idea what to expect so she supposed almost anything would be smoother than her panicked suppositions. Still, she felt rather good about the whole thing.
“We are told that you were brought by blood contract from another dimension,” the Queen had stated quietly as she looked over her new subject. Hermione inclined her head.
“Yes, your majesty,” she replied.
“Fascinating. In this dimension, your family has served ours for centuries. The sons of your house have always been part of our personal bodyguard and the daughters have always been ladies-in-waiting,” the Queen explained carefully. Hermione inclined her head again.
“I look forward to it, your majesty,” Hermione said quietly. The Queen’s gaze slid over her husbands and back to her.
“It’s unusual anymore, to see a mixed marriage,” the Queen observed thoughtfully. She leaned forward slightly and lowered her voice a bit. “They’re good men, Lady Hermione, the both of them. Do not credit the court gossip as more than the whinging of the petty and the jealous.”
“No, ma’am,” she said in surprise, her eyes wide. The Queen nodded and smiled at her.
“I think I’m going to like you,” the Queen murmured so quietly that Hermione wasn’t sure at first that she’d heard properly. Then she curtseyed as deeply as she dared to without pitching forward onto her head and backed out of the audience chamber.
“I think she liked you,” Cygnus murmured near her ear.
She gave a small nod to show she’d heard, and his hand tightened on her arm. She knew it was meant to reassure, to comfort, and oddly enough…it did. Abraxas was on her other side, keeping pace with Cygnus. It was rather difficult to not feel safe and secure when one was flanked by gorgeous, large, imposing wizards who had a command presence about them.
“Come along then,” Abraxas muttered under his breath, “let’s go tell the parents how it went. Mother’s probably pacing a hole in the carpeting.”
They used the floo and Hermione stumbled out of it, almost tripping over Abraxas to make room for Cygnus. She stood up and looked around herself and felt her heart begin to race wildly.
It was the drawing room of Malfoy Manor.
Her breath came in ragged gasps and her eyes were unfocused, staring at ghosts that didn’t exist anywhere in this dimension except her own mind. Fear skittered along her spine and panic galloped through her blood. She heard a maniacal laugh, the laugh that haunted her nightmares and she stuffed her hands in her mouth. Hands tried to grab her and she screamed—she screamed and screamed and screamed. She realized she was running, that someone was chasing her and suddenly a burst of speed she didn’t realize she had, came from somewhere within her, and she was able to pull ahead of her pursuers. She fell when someone cast a bodybind on her, but she was still struggling wildly, crying and panting, her eyes wild.
“Hermione!” Cygnus called her name frantically, cupping her face in his hands. She blinked several times until her eyes came into focus. Then she realized that Cygnus and Abraxas were the ones who had been chasing her and she began to cry hysterically. Cygnus pulled her into their arms and they sat on the floor of the hallway, rocking her and soothing her.
“Well, your mother will be pleased, Cygnus,” Abraxas said after several minutes of murmuring nonsense words into Hermione’s hair. Hermione pulled back and stared at him from watery eyes. Abraxas shrugged. “The reception will definitely be at Black Manor. There’s no way they’d expect you to stay here.”
“Poor Artemesia’s probably beating herself up right now,” Cygnus said with a dry chuckle. “Your mother’s got a soft heart, Brax, and she already likes Hermione.”
“I can’t go in there,” Hermione whispered, her eyes wide. “I can’t.”
“No, no, pet,” Abraxas soothed her. “Father says you may call your elf to take you home. He and mother both apologize, and mother will no doubt want to check on you to make sure you’re all right. She doesn’t trust Cygnus or me to put our trousers on properly, let alone care for our wife.”
“Dory,” Hermione whispered, still curled in Cygnus and Abraxas’ arms. Her house elf appeared immediately, her eyes wide with distress.
“Oh, mistress,” Dory fretted, patting Hermione’s hands and feeling her forehead. “You come straight home with Dory. Bicky is drawing your bath right now.”
“Thank you, Dory,” Cygnus said quietly, and the house elf beamed at him. “You take Hermione home, and we’ll be there in just a few minutes. Our mothers are worried about her, and we want to talk to them before we leave.”
“Of course, Master Cygnus,” Dory agreed. She took her mistress’ hand in hers and with a loud crack they were gone. Cygnus and Abraxas looked at one another and grimaced.
“Well, we knew it had been bad,” Cygnus said carefully.
“Your daughter, in my son’s house,” Abraxas said in disgust. “No wonder she was terrified of us all the night she came.”
“It’s never going to happen,” Cygnus said firmly. “She knows we had nothing to do with it, or she never would have let us comfort her.”
“I suppose,” Abraxas said doubtfully. Cygnus snorted at him.
“Come along,” he said with a sigh. “We’ve got to go speak to the parents so that we can go check on our witch.”
“Our wife,” Abraxas corrected with a small possessive smirk. Cygnus inclined his head toward his lover.
“That too,” he agreed.
Chapter 6: Presentation to Society
A formal introduction of the new bride of Abraxas Malfoy and Cygnus Black. Will gossip affect Hermione's perception of her husbands?
trigger warning for attempted sexual assault. It is not graphic, and it is very brief.
Chapter 5 - Presentation to Society
"The world is governed more by appearance than realities so that it is fully as necessary to seem to know something as to know it."
To host a wedding reception without ever having had an actual wedding seemed strangely inappropriate to Hermione, and yet here she was standing near her mothers-in-law and flanked by her over-protective husbands, smiling and nodding at people she’d never met before. Many of them gave her deep curtsies because she outranked them. In fact, she and Lady Irma were the highest ranked women in the room. Hermione noticed rather stilted curtsies from quite a few people and Abraxas had whispered in her ear during a lull that they were Light families that were suspicious of her marriage to not one, but two Dark wizards. She’d snorted in amusement and looked over her husbands with a jaundiced eye.
“Dark wizards my arse,” she’d snapped irritably. “I have yet to see either one of you torture or kill anyone. I would think you’re dreadfully behind on your quota, you’ll most likely be disbarred from the Evil League of Evil at the next meeting.”
“Such a delicious arse, though,” Abraxas purred at her while her face went up in flames. She’d smiled weakly at her mothers-in-law and elbowed her husband in the ribs. Lady Irma and Lady Artemisia smirked at her and then smiled fondly at their sons.
“We’ve already explained, Hermione. Dark doesn’t mean evil, it certainly doesn’t mean we’re out torturing or killing anyone,” Cygnus sighed in exasperation. Hermione gave an indelicate snort.
“They act like you are,” Hermione said with a wave of her hand. “To be honest, I’ve seen known Death Eaters treated with more respect.”
“What’s a Death Eater?” A curious voice asked. Hermione whirled in surprise and found herself staring at a tall wizard with messy, black hair.
“Harry?” She said in surprise, her voice throbbing with emotion. Her husbands frowned darkly and moved closer to their wife.
“Lady Hermione, this is Lord Charlus, earl of Bracken and his countess, the Lady Dorea,” Lady Irma said smoothly at her elbow. Hermione nodded to her mother-in-law and then graciously inclined her head toward both the Earl and his countess. “My lord, this is her grace, Lady Hermione, duchess of Aumale and Countess of Wiltshire. Her duke, Lord Cygnus and her earl, Lord Abraxas.”
“A pleasure to meet you,” Charlus murmured, bowing politely over her hand. His lips brushed the silk of her glove and she could almost feel her husbands bristle slightly.
“And you as well, Lord Charlus,” Hermione said politely.
“You thought my lord resembled someone you knew?” Lady Dorea asked curiously. Hermione nodded slowly and turned to look at Lord Charlus again.
“Yes, my best friend in, er, my world, Harry Potter,” Hermione explained quietly.
“Well that explains it,” Artemisia said with a smile. “Lord Charlus is the Head of House Potter.”
“Really?” Hermione said in surprise. She bit her lip, frowned slightly. “Forgive me if I am doing this incorrectly, but in my world House Potter and House Blishwick had an Oath of Alliance. Is it the same here?”
“I’m not sure,” Lord Charlus said thoughtfully. “Your House has been extinct in our world for some number of years. I’d have to look through my obligations in abeyance.”
“I will look through my House’s records as well,” Hermione murmured, her brow furrowed in concentration.
“I must say, Lady Hermione, you were not at all what I thought you would be like,” Lord Charlus said carefully, watching her. She lifted her chin slightly and Ladies Irma and Artemisia smirked at one another.
“And what did you expect to find?” She asked coolly. He grinned and shook his head.
“I’m not sure, but I think that it is a good thing, perhaps. I look forward to seeing you again. Ladies, lords,” Lord Charlus bowed politely to all of them and took his wife by the elbow.
“Cheeky bastard,” Abraxas growled under his breath. Cygnus gave a short nod of agreement. Hermione rolled her eyes.
“I hardly think so, Abraxas,” she said flatly. “He seemed perfectly polite.”
“Overly friendly,” Cygnus murmured, his grey eyes turning darker as he watched Lord Charlus make his way around the room, his pretty wife in tow. Hermione bit back a sharp retort.
“I’m going to go freshen up,” Hermione said firmly. Cygnus and Abraxas turned to her and frowned.
“Freshen up what?” They asked in unison. Hermione stared at them for a moment and then turned to her mothers-in-law who also looked confused. She paused uncertainly.
“I’m going to powder my nose?” She tried tentatively. A look of understanding lit in her mothers-in-law’s eyes and they nodded.
“Of course, dear. You know where it is,” Lady Irma said, patting her daughter-in-law’s arm. Hermione moved confidently across the ballroom’s floor. Cygnus and Abraxas made to follow her, but paused at the stern looks from their mothers. “She doesn’t need your help using the facilities, Cygnus, regardless of what you may think.”
“Oh,” he muttered, flushing slightly. “Why didn’t she just say so?”
“As a lady of delicate sensibilities, her grace was attempting to be subtle,” Lady Artemisia sniffed imperiously. She glared at her son and his husband. “The poor dear hasn’t yet learned that such things are a lost cause with her husbands.”
“Mother,” Abraxas said coolly with a warning look in his eye. Her eyes narrowed dangerously and Abraxas stalked off toward the library, followed only seconds later by Cygnus.
“That will only start the gossips’ tongues wagging, Artemisia,” Lady Irma scolded sharply. Lady Artemisia snorted indelicately and muttered something quite rude under her breath about gossips. She snagged a champagne flute as a tray floated by and took a swallow to steady her nerves. It was going to be a long night.
Magic was brilliant for a number of reasons Hermione observed cheerfully, but one of them must surely be the ability to use the toilet whilst wearing ornate, voluminous ball gowns. With the flick of her wrist, she removed her elbow length gloves, took care of her needs and washed her hands. Another flick and her gloves were back on, and Hermione looked over her appearance to make sure that she hadn’t accidentally put her dress on backwards. Lady Irma had done something with her hair which made is smooth, sleek and shiny. She wasn’t quite sure if she cared for it, but she had to admit it went well with the gown.
Both of her mothers-in-law were exceedingly kind to her, which amused Hermione when she stopped to think about it. Irma Crabbe Black and Artemisia Nott Malfoy would have been the last women that Hermione would ever have expected to be genuinely nice, caring people. She expected that they would have been rather like Walburga Black’s portrait, their lips pulled back into a permanent sneer. She shook her head and smiled to herself as she left the facilities. In front of her, an aristocratic looking man was blocking her path with a polite smile on his lips and a hungry look in his eyes. She stopped and eyed him warily. Hermione had seen that sort of look in Fenrir Greyback’s eyes, and she doubted that it boded well in this situation either.
“Pardon me, may I get by?” Hermione asked coolly, trying to copy the clipped tones of Narcissa Malfoy.
“I wanted to take this opportunity to offer you my services, my lady,” he purred at her, his eyes caressing her. Hermione frowned at him.
“I don’t think that my wedding reception is the time or place,” Hermione said, her voice growing glacially cold. “If you leave your card with our house elf, we’ll contact you if we find ourselves in need of service.”
“I believe you misunderstand me, my lady,” he oozed at her. Hermione held herself completely still, and fingered the secret pocket of her ball gown where her wand resided. “Everyone knows about Cygnus and Abraxas. They’ve been friends since they were children and lovers since they were teenagers. There hasn’t been a witch yet that’s been able to turn their heads away from one another. As we speak, they’re alone together in the library doing Merlin knows what to one another. I doubt that they’ll be able to see to your…needs…and I’m offering myself in that capacity.”
“Please stand aside,” Hermione snapped icily, her chin lifting and her eyes narrowing dangerously on the man in front of her. He made her skin crawl, but she was Hermione Gr-er, Blish-, oh damn! She was Hermione, damn it! One third of the bloody Golden Trio and she wasn’t going to let some imbecilic lech get one over on her.
“Your grace, are you well?” asked a gentle, well-bred voice. Hermione wasn’t sure who the voice belonged to, but she would rather be anywhere but here. The man, whoever he was, looked irritated, but he stepped aside. Hermione practically bolted passed him and almost ran down the woman who’d called to her. It was Lady Dorea, the countess of Bracken. Hermione had to physically stop herself from flinging her arms around the countess’ neck.
“Lady Dorea,” Hermione said gratefully. “I am feeling a bit peaky, thank you for asking.”
“Why don’t we take a turn in the garden?” Lady Dorea asked with a polite smile and an icy glare for the man who'd tried to accost Hermione.
“That would be heavenly, thank you,” Hermione said feelingly. The two ladies linked arms and slipped out one the sets of French doors that were thrown wide to alleviate the crush of the reception.
“Are you truly all right, your grace?” Lady Dorea asked carefully as they took a turn about the garden. Hermione found that her heart was racing and that her hands were shaking just a bit.
“Could we sit, perhaps?” Hermione asked hesitantly. Lady Dorea smiled understandingly and guided her over toward a bench. The two ladies sat and Hermione sighed.
“He didn’t take liberties with your person, did he?” Lady Dorea asked with some concern, her grey eyes scanning Hermione for signs of abuse. Hermione shook her head.
“No,” she whispered. “I just…I’ve met men like him before…”
“I can’t say that I’m terribly surprised. You’re a beautiful woman,” Lady Dorea said with a proud smile. That made Hermione pause for a moment because it was the sort of look that Lady Irma and Lady Artemisia had sometimes when they looked at Hermione. Her eyes narrowed and she looked closer at Lady Dorea. Her thick black hair had been arranged into some sort of elaborate upswept hairstyle. Her features were aristocratic, her grey eyes full of intelligence, pride, and cunning.
“You’re a Black, aren’t you?” Hermione blurted out, and then gasped and clapped a hand over her mouth. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude.”
“Yes, I am a Black,” Dorea said proudly, lifting her chin slightly. Then she smirked slightly. “Well, a Potter now, too, I suppose.”
“I can’t imagine what dark spells they must have used to bind that poor girl in that farce of a marriage.” A high-pitched, nasally voice drifted toward them. Lady Dorea stiffened next to her and her grey eyes flashed angrily. In that moment, Hermione realized that whoever it was, was talking about her.
“I’m sure I wouldn’t know,” replied a catty sounding voice that grated on Hermione’s nerve. She wondered if Walburga was possessing her because she could feel her lip curling in distaste. Lady Dorea gave her an appraising look, but tilted her head to better hear the gossip.
“It’s a shame the poor thing will never know the joys of the marriage bed,” Nasally Voice said condescendingly.
“If she’s smart she’ll just pick a wizard with either blond hair or black hair to warm her bed,” Catty Voice mocked lightly. “That way no one will be any the wiser.”
“She’d better be careful, or her husbands might steal him from her,” Nasally Voice said gleefully and then giggled at her little joke.
Thinking back, Hermione had recalled several instances where people (never Cygnus or Abraxas) had asked her not to listen to gossip—that Cygnus and Abraxas were not what others might portray them to be. She hadn't really understood what they meant, and had assumed it had something to do with Dark Wizards since that was what her husbands spoke of the most often. She knew that Abraxas and Cygnus liked her and were attracted to her. Merlin knew that they could barely keep their hands off of her when it was just the three of them. She refrained from leaping to her feet and telling Nasally and Catty Voice a few choice facts about her husbands.
“Don’t listen to them,” Lady Dorea whispered furiously. Her grey eyes flashing angrily. Hermione shook her head.
“I won’t,” she whispered back.
“There you are darling,” came a smooth voice, warm with affection. Lady Dorea and Hermione turned to face Lord Charlus who’d come searching for his wife.
“Charlus,” Lady Dorea said with a smile, rising elegantly so that her husband could pull her close and kiss her brow. She turned to Hermione and took her hands, squeezing them gently. “Welcome to the family, dear. Unfortunately, Charlus and I have to leave a bit early. We have a baby at home and we can’t leave him too long.”
“Of course,” Hermione said politely. Lord Charlus frowned slightly.
“Your grace, please let me escort you back inside. I feel uncomfortable leaving you out here alone,” he said firmly. Hermione's chin lifted slightly and her eyes flashed. Lady Dorea hid a smile.
"I assure you, Lord Charlus that I shall be fine. I need to go speak with my mothers-in-law and I am quite sure that they are capable of protecting me," Hermione said coolly. The countess of Bracken smirked at Hermione.
"Lady Irma and Lady Artemisia are a dangerous pair," she agreed. "I certainly would never try to cross them both."
"There, you see? I shall be fine. I thank you kindly for your offer, Lord Charlus," Hermione said somewhat stiltedly. She felt like an idiot half the time when she was forced to use these formal phrases. He nodded, still frowning slightly. Lady Dorea rolled her eyes and smiled at her new friend before giving her a light wave as the couple headed toward the doors. Hermione shook her head and smiled and then turned toward her mothers-in-law only find her way blocked by the creepy man from earlier in the evening.
"Hello again, poppet," he purred at her. "I see your protector's gone home for the evening. Now that it's just the two of us, why don't we play a little game?"
"I don't think so," she bit out between clenched teeth, panic swamping her. He grabbed her arm and dragged her toward a secluded corner of the garden, his fingers digging into her skin. Her breath hissed between her lips and she struggled, trying to reach her wand.
"Ah, ah, ah, poppet," he purred again. Hermione felt fear grip her as he stroked the skin of her neck with a finger. She whimpered, struggling.
Suddenly the too-tight pressure on her arm was gone and she sagged toward the floor, but she never quite made it there. Strong arms pulled her up gently and folded her against a broad chest. Silver-blonde hair brushed against her cheek. Abraxas. She wound her arms around his neck and shuddered against him. His arms tightened slightly. She peeked up at Abraxas' face to see him glaring viciously at something so Hermione turned slightly so she could see what it was. Cygnus appeared to be choking the man who had tried to accost her with one hand. He was muttering under his breath, his wand moving in complicated patterns in his other hand. Hermione pressed closer to Abraxas who stroked her hair gently.
"Are you all right, love? We could feel your fear, and the pain," Abraxas murmured into her hair. She nodded silently. Cygnus released the man only to have Topsy pop him out of the house and off of Black property. Then he turned to her, his eyes black with anger. His back was rigid and his jaw was tight. Abraxas grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled Cygnus to him, holding the both of them close. Cygnus put his head on Abraxas' shoulder and drew a shaky breath. He turned to look at Hermione and stroked her cheek with his fingers.
"He touched you," Cygnus ground out, his eyes scanning her. Hermione moved so that she could touch both men at once, feel them close.
"But you came," Hermione pointed out quietly. Abraxas snorted.
"Of course we came," he snapped. "You're our wife, Hermione."
"Can we…can we go to our room?" Hermione asked uncertainly. They looked at one another and then turned back to her.
"I'll tell mother," Cygnus said shortly. Abraxas swept across the floor, practically dragging his wife along with him. He appeared solicitous of her, but in a hurry as well. Several of the guests raised eyebrows at one another as Cygnus went to go speak to his mother and his mother-in-law before he, too, swept out of the room.
Usually when they stayed at Black Manor, they used Cygnus' suite of rooms. Apparently even before Hermione had been added to the equation, Abraxas had slept here as well. He led her there unerringly and closed the door gently behind him. With a flick of his wand, Hermione stood before him naked. He took one of her small hands in his much larger, rougher hand and looked her over completely. Her arm was starting to bruise in the shape of the creepy man's fingers. Abraxas growled low in his throat and muttered a spell which caused the bruises to fade slowly. Cygnus entered the room and quirked a brow at his co-husband.
"I see you got started without me," he said drily. Abraxas growled again.
"I wanted to make sure she didn't have any more bruises," Abraxas replied stiffly. Cygnus moved forward and touched Abraxas' cheek with his fingertips. Then he turned to Hermione, his fingers stroking her arm gently.
"You are well?" He asked cautiously. Hermione bit her lip and nodded.
"I…I need you," she whispered. Then she blushed slightly. "Both of you."
"How do you want us, love?" Abraxas asked curiously. Hermione flushed a bit darker and turned to them, twisting her hands nervously.
"Is there a way to have you both? I feel—I don't know, maybe it's the bond, but I feel like I need you both," Hermione tried to explain. She knew what she was feeling, but she felt as though she were failing miserably in her ability to explain it. Abraxas smirked at her.
"I think that we can arrange that," Abraxas said solemnly.
Malfoys were usually cool, calm, and collected. Blacks were volatile, unstable. Cygnus snatched at her and pulled her roughly against him. His lips were wild against hers, his tongue sliding in to dance with hers. His hands were tangled in her hair and he held her tightly. He'd been afraid for her. Hermione realized that that fear was the impetus for his current behavior. She kissed him back eagerly, trying to show him how relieved, how comforted, he had made her. She felt Abraxas drop a kiss on her shoulder and then slide around behind Cygnus to hug him and stroke his back. Cygnus seemed to relax between them.
A quick flick of someone's wand and all three of them were naked. Hermione sighed with contentment as she trailed her fingertips across the very broad chest of Abraxas Malfoy. His alabaster skin stretched taut over thick, corded muscles. She laid her hands on his chest and reveled in the feel of the velvet soft skin with the iron-hard muscles beneath. He flexed unconsciously as he moved so that he was able to touch her and Cygnus at the same time. Her fingers ghosted over his belly and threaded through the silvery-blonde thatch surrounding his proudly jutting cock. Her fingers closed around him and he gave a muffled moan of appreciation. She glanced up and watched entranced as Abraxas and Cygnus kissed one another passionately. Her fingers were gently disengaged from around Abraxas' cock as Cygnus slid fluidly down to his knees. He grasped Abraxas in his hands and took him in his mouth. Hermione didn't have time to watch. Abraxas cupped her face and began to kiss her deeply, his tongue plundering her mouth.
Moans and sighs filled the room, making Hermione's nerves tingle and her skin tighten. Abraxas moved toward the bed, pulling Cygnus and Hermione after him. He stretched out on the bed and Hermione eagerly straddled him, impaling herself on his length. Abraxas gently pulled her toward him so that she was lying across his chest. She looked up at him, confusion in her eyes. He leaned up and kissed her nose. She felt Cygnus' hands on her bum and she looked over her shoulder at him, her eyes wide.
He grinned at her and stroked one round cheek fondly. His fingers drifted and she looked up at Abraxas who was stroking her back and holding her still. Cygnus of the numbing spells slid two fingers inside her. She gasped, waiting for the pain but none came. She wriggled a bit, pushing against Cygnus' hand and surprised herself by moaning loudly at the sensations that caused. A soft, brief kiss on one ass cheek was all the warning she had before Cygnus' considerable cock was buried deep inside her. Hermione wasn't sure what she was supposed to feel. At the moment she was surrounded by two wizards, and filled up by those same two wizards. She wriggled again and her eyes rolled back in pleasure.
Their gentleness, their caring, touched something deep within Hermione and it responded to them eagerly. Abraxas and Cygnus soon found their rhythm and Hermione was merely along for the ride. She gasped and moaned and cried out in pleasure. Wave after wave of pleasure inundated her senses and she rode the tide of it all as well as she was able. When she came, she slid under the waves of pleasure and into the sea of sensations. When she awoke she was wrapped securely between Abraxas and Cygnus. They each kissed her sleepily on the forehead and then they kissed each other.
"Love you, Brax," she heard Cygnus mumble.
"Love you, too," Abraxas yawned and flung an arm over them. Hermione lay between them completely satiated.
Chapter 7: Realizations
Hermione has been gone from her world for five, long years. Gone, but not forgotten.
Chapter 6 – Realizations
"One of the sanest, surest, and most generous joys of life comes from being happy over the good fortune of others."
- Robert Heinlein
Five Years Later
Love in all its permutations was an odd thing, impossible to pin down and regulate, which had made it the bane of Hermione Black-Malfoy's existence.
When had she fallen in love with both of her husbands? She wasn't sure, exactly. There was no light from the sky, she could not recall a chorus of angels or any other finite, quantifiable point. If there was one thing she did know, it was that she would rather walk on broken glass than ever tell either man.
They loved one another very much, and they were free to one another with the words. "I love you, Abraxas." "I love you, too, Cygnus." She heard it on a fairly regular basis. Not once in the five years that they'd been married had either man told her that they loved her. She wasn't jealous, nor was she angry. She knew that they cared for her. They valued her presence in their lives. She was their wife and the mother of their sons. She had added prestige and cachet to both houses. Her in-laws adored her, and not just because she had produced a son for each house.
Sometimes, when no one else was present, she might shed a tear or two over her situation, but then she'd laugh at herself. She was treated like a goddess by two gorgeous wizards. She wanted for nothing—her every care and concern was assiduously addressed by Abraxas and Cygnus. Yet she still felt empty, hollow.
"Mummy!" Four year-old Hypatius Malfoy ran into the room. He paused uncertainly before reaching for his mother because she was wearing the stiff silks and brocades of her court dress with her formal ducal coronet on her carefully coiffed curls. She knelt down, despite her robes and held her arms out to her oldest son.
"What is it, my little love," she asked gently. He pushed his white-blond hair out of his eyes and looked up at his mother.
"Mummy, can I have my very own broom? I'm four now and you said that I was a big boy, an' big boys get to have brooms," Hypatius began to speak rapidly in his excitement. Hermione laughed and caressed his soft hair.
"I suppose we probably—oh!" Hermione felt her skin pricking all over unpleasantly, and something within her twisted. It hurt, this odd sensation. She looked down at herself and realized with a dawning sense of horror that she could see through herself. She looked up at her son who was staring at her with wide frightened eyes. "Mummy loves you Hypatius! I lo—"
"Mummy!" Hypatius started screaming at the top of his lungs.
Both Lady Irma and Lady Artemisia were at Blishwick Manor because they had offered to baby sit Hypatius and his little brother Corvus while Hermione fulfilled her court duties. They ran into Hermione's rooms, breathless and looked around helplessly. Hypatius was standing in the middle of the room sobbing.
"Hypatius, love, tell Grandmamma Malfoy where Mummy is," Artemisia encouraged her grandson.
"Mummy's gone! She disappeared!" Hypatius wailed helplessly and then sobbed even harder.
"Hermione?" Irma could hear Cygnus' frantic voice. The boys must have flooed over from Black Manor where they had gone to discuss family business with Hyperion and Pollux.
"Cygnus, up here, dear," Irma called firmly. Abraxas and Cygnus pounded up the stairs and burst into Hermione's dressing room. Cygnus scooped up Hypatius and cradled him against his chest. Abraxas moved closer and stroked his son's back.
"Papa, Daddy, Mummy's gone!" Hypatius sobbed brokenly into Cygnus' neck. The two men stared at one another and then turned to the their respective mothers.
"What happened?" Cygnus asked in a husky voice. Both women held up their hands helplessly.
"We heard Hypatius screaming and we came running," Artemisia explained hesitantly. Irma nodded.
"We didn't see her leave, there is no way that she could apparate, and Dory and Bicky were playing a game with Corvus," Irma added.
"Where is she? Did she leave us?" Abraxas muttered, looking around the room with haunted eyes.
"What if we—what if Hypatius gave us the memory? Blishwick Manor has a penseive, Hermione mentioned it once in passing," Artemisia suggested cautiously. Cygnus and Abraxas looked at their son.
"Pay, would you let Papa and Daddy look at the memory of Mummy disappearing?" Abraxas asked gently. "We might be able to figure out what happened and bring Mummy back."
The look of horror in Hermione's eyes when she looked down at herself and realized she was see-through could not have been feigned. Neither could the initial look of shock and confusion. Hermione had not known what was happening, had been utterly surprised. Her plaintive cry to her son, her hand stretching out toward him, broke everyone's heart.
"She's been taken from us," Lady Irma said faintly, her eyes grief stricken. Lady Artemisia was crying quietly into Hyperion's shoulder and Pollux cuddled Corvus while Irma rocked Hypatius.
For days Abraxas and Cygnus couldn't eat or sleep. They started at every small sound, hoping it was Hermione's return. They both locked themselves in the vast library at Blishwick Manor and Dory and Bicky helped them research what could possibly have happened to their beloved Mistress. Finally, Artemisia and Irma intervened. They made both men bathe, eat and hold their sons for a while. Irma sat down delicately in a wingback chair and frowned at her son and her son-in-law.
"Forgive me, both of you, but…do you love Hermione?" She asked curiously. They both turned and stared at her for a moment. She smiled gently. "I only ask because you're both acting the way I thought you would if something had happened to either of you."
"What a question," Abraxas snapped in irritation. "Of course, we love her!"
"We've loved her for years, mother," Cygnus said with a slight frown. Artemisia blinked in surprise and glanced at Irma.
"Er, Abraxas, dear, have you ever told her that you love her?" Artemisia asked curiously. The expression on his face was priceless. He looked as though someone had hit him in the head. Cygnus' face had become ashy and waxen and he'd gripped Abraxas' thigh urgently.
"Mordred and Morgana," Abraxas whispered brokenly. He looked at Cygnus, whose eyes were bleak. "What have we done, Cyg?"
"She's never said anything," Cygnus muttered helplessly. His mother snorted.
"What woman is going to say 'excuse me, I know we're married and all that, but do you love me?' It would be so humiliating if he didn't, and as you're married there is nowhere to go, nowhere to hide," Irma said tartly.
"That and there's the fact that she knew about the two of you," Artemisia said firmly. "That may have added to her self-consciousness. Mordred, I can't imagine trying to tell someone I loved them if I knew that they loved someone else."
"I never thought about it like that," Abraxas said quietly, his silver eyes molten.
"What if we never see her again?" Cygnus whispered, his face pale and drawn. Irma and Artemisia glared at him and then looked pointedly toward the two little boys who had stopped playing on the floor to stare at their Papa with identical looks of horror and grief.
"No Maman?" Two-and-a-half year old Corvus asked sadly, his thick black curls hanging over his forehead. His dark grey eyes turned to his Grandmamma Black. She picked him up and stroked his silky, curly hair.
"Of course we'll find your Maman," Irma said staunchly. He stuffed his thumb into his mouth and clutched his Grandmamma's robes in his other hand.
Everything hurt…even her hair hurt. Hermione had been hung over once or twice in her life, but she'd never been in pain like this. She shifted a bit and couldn't bite back the moan that escaped her lips.
"Er, Hermione, is it?" asked a male voice. Hermione's eyes snapped open instantly. The man in the room was fairly young…maybe her age. He was tall and slender with long black, curly hair and dark eyes. She frowned at him coldly.
"You may refer to me as your grace, or my lady," she snapped automatically. When she had first begun to serve the Queen as a lady-in-waiting, she hadn't understood all the myriad rules and regulations regarding her station and status. The Queen and all of her other ladies had drilled them into Hermione so that all of that was second nature to her. "You do not know me and we have not been formally introduced. I cannot permit anyone to take such liberties with my person."
"Of course not, er, your grace," the dark-haired man said uncertainly.
She struggled to sit up, and he automatically held out a hand which she pointedly ignored. As if she would allow some strange man to touch her! Who did these kidnapping barbarians think they were dealing with? She managed to stand. She glanced into a nearby mirror and saw that her court robes had not been ruined. She wasn't truly surprised. The stiff silk and brocade could probably be used as a shield and still survive. She straightened her ducal coronet and tugged at her gloves. She turned to the young man and sniffed imperiously.
"Well?" She asked sharply. "Do I get to meet my kidnappers, or not?"
"Er," the young man looked slightly pained. "They're all downstairs," he muttered, flushing.
She swept regally out of the room and began to descend the staircase when there was a loud bang and she heard the truly unpleasant voice of Walburga Black, her husband's sister.
"Filthy, disgusting Mudblood, tainting the house of my fathers," she shrieked in a fine rage.
On the one hand, Hermione was absolutely stunned to realize that she was in number 12 Grimmauld Place. On the other, she had had almost more of her horrible sister-in-law than she could stand. She whipped open the curtains to the portrait and glared viciously at Walburga who blinked at her in surprise, taking in the elaborate dress robes and the crown on her brow.
"You listen to me, you pathetic hag," Hermione growled at Walburga. "I am as pure as they bloody well come. My solicitors are able to trace my lineage so far back it's actually a little embarrassing. I am the Duchess of Aumale, the Countess of Wiltshire and various, sundry other titles I can't quite recall at the moment. I outrank you by orders of magnitude, and if you don't watch your tone with me I shall insist that my husband speak both to Pollux and Arcturus about having you locked up in some sort of sanitarium for your health. When you address me you will call me your grace, my lady or Lady Hermione or I swear to you I will make your life interesting."
"Well said, your grace," came a cheeky voice. Hermione started and paled dramatically. She turned toward the kitchen and her jaw dropped open.
"Sirius?" She gasped in surprise before she fainted.
The next time she came to, it was to Sirius Black's concerned face close to hers while he gently patted her cheeks. The young man was standing nearby, watching them with worried eyes. Luna Lovegood was standing next to him, offering suggestions to Sirius who mostly ignored her. She blinked several times uncertainly.
"Are you all right, your grace?" The young man asked anxiously, his dark eyes on her face. Sirius snorted and glanced over his shoulder.
"Don't be ridiculous, Regulus. It's Hermione, for Merlin's sake," Sirius snapped irritably.
"Regulus?" Hermione goggled at the young man and then turned to Luna.
"What the hell has been going on around here?" She demanded. Luna smiled angelically.
"Well, let's see, you've been missing for about six years, Harry had the handfasting declared void, I brought Sirius and Regulus through the Veil, and I'm sleeping with Harry and have been for about three years," Luna ticked off each item on her fingers. Hermione's eyes grew wider and wider. Luna stopped and looked with some concern at her friend. "Where have you been, Hermione? Harry's been very worried about you."
"Ah," Hermione said faintly. "Well, when I signed all the paperwork that declared me the heiress to the Houses of Blishwick and Rabnott I sort of triggered certain things that I had no control over."
"Sweet mother of Merlin," Sirius whispered. He held up her hand gently, the platinum wedding band gleaming dully on her wrist. "The conjugiam pax. No one's been married like this in hundreds of years. Someone had a blood contract? Which house was it for?"
"Both," Hermione muttered blushing furiously.
"Bloody hell, Hermione," Sirius said, staring at her.
"But, why wouldn't you just come and tell us?" Luna asked with a slight frown. "Blood contracts mean other pureblood families—surely they would have wanted huge weddings with newspaper coverage."
"Luna, do you believe in alternate worlds? Parallel universes?" Hermione asked curiously. Luna grinned.
"Of course, Hermione," she said firmly. Hermione bit her lip.
"Well that's where I was. The contracts were activated and the magic pulled me to them," Hermione explained.
"Bloody hell, Hermione," Sirius said again, his eyes wide. "Who was it?"
"Er," Hermione blushed furiously and looked away from him for a moment.
"Merlin's Balls…it wasn't me, was it?" He asked in horrified fascination. She giggled.
"In the world I just came from, Sirius, you are only six years old and Regulus is almost five," Hermione said with a shake of her head.
"Who?" Sirius pressed again. Hermione stared at the wedding band on her wrist.
"Cygnus Black and Abraxas Malfoy," she said quietly.
"You're my aunt?" Sirius bellowed.
"Does that mean that you're Narcissa and Lucius' mother?" Luna asked curiously. Hermione recoiled slightly and her lips twisted in distaste.
"Ew! No! Er, Druella Rosier sort of…died…and that made it difficult for Cygnus to get a new betrothed. He had nothing to do with her death, of course. Um, Abraxas was just being a pig headed fool, I think. He refused any of the matches his father tried to make for him," Hermione said quietly. "So their mothers convinced Hyperion Malfoy and Pollux Black to activate the contracts…and they got me."
"Er, Hermione," Sirius said slowly, an odd look on his face. "In this world, Uncle Cygnus and Abraxas Malfoy, er, they were considered quite close."
"They are in the other world, too," Hermione whispered, her cheeks a brilliant pink.
"Oh, my," Luna said in an awe-tinged voice. "Hermione, I think you and I need to go speak somewhere privately. Harry says it makes people feel uncomfortable to talk about sex in public."
"Luna," Hermione said faintly, her face a very dark shade of red. "I am not going to discuss my sex life with you—privately or publicly."
"Fine," Luna sighed heavily.
"You aren't Lucius' mother, are you?" Sirius asked warily. Hermione snorted and shook her head.
"No, Sirius. Abraxas and I have a little boy named Hypatius and Cygnus and I have a little boy named Corvus," Hermione explained.
"No Bella? What a shame," Sirius said mockingly. Hermione shrugged and gave him a half-smile.
"That means no Andromeda, either," she said softly. He frowned slightly.
"That would be so…odd," Sirius said finally. Hermione shrugged helplessly and turned to Luna.
"You brought me back, then? How? Why?" Hermione asked curiously. Luna frowned thoughtfully.
"Well, Harry was worried about you. He was convinced you were in danger and couldn't tell him," Luna said slowly.
"So he decided to just pull me back? He couldn't just pop in for a visit?" Hermione demanded.
"He thought you were suffering, love," Sirius explained solemnly, his grey eyes watching her. She frowned and ignored the fact that his eyes reminded her of Cygnus. Her heart clenched painfully in her chest and she ignored it, too. "However, if you've got a conjugiam pax—that could change everything."
"What do you mean?" Hermione asked, her eyes wide. Sirius frowned and glanced at Regulus for a moment before turning to Hermione. He sighed heavily.
"The conjugiam pax, I'm sure you researched it, yeah?" Sirius said slowly.
"Well, of course I did," Hermione huffed indignantly. He smiled slightly and patted her hand.
"I knew you would, love, wasn't trying to impugn your lust for knowledge," he told her with a cheeky grin. She rolled her eyes at him. "Did you read the bit about how you cannot separate the bonded? How it would mean death for the bondmates?"
"Yes," she said quietly. Then her eyes widened in horror. "Oh! You mean, that doesn't just mean divorce or trying to break the bond, does it?"
"I'm afraid that it doesn't," Sirius said carefully, watching her face. Hermione paled slightly and sat down heavily in a chair that he shoved under her quickly. She turned to Luna.
"Can you send me back?" She asked quietly. Luna bit her lip.
"I…I can, but Hermione, Harry had missed you so much. It was for him that I figured out how to bring Sirius back and I accidentally got Regulus as well, no offense meant Regulus," Luna rattled off anxiously. Regulus shrugged.
"None taken," he said mildly.
"Where is Harry?" Hermione asked curiously. Luna flushed slightly.
"He's at work. I didn't tell him I was going to do this because I was afraid it wouldn't work. I didn't want to get his hopes up for nothing," Luna said softly.
"Oh, Luna," Hermione muttered in exasperation. She straightened her spine and tossed her head back. "That's fine. I'll just go to the Ministry and speak to him."
"What, like that?" Sirius asked, waving a hand at her ensemble. She looked down at herself and frowned.
"Oh very well," she groused. "I suppose we'll have to go to Twilfit & Tattings to have some robes made. I swear, I spend more time in my knickers getting measured for clothes than I do for anything else."
"Really?" Sirius drawled with a gleam in his eye. "I probably should come along. Strictly for your protection, of course."
"I would watch my step, were I you," Hermione said coolly. "Your Uncle Cygnus and Abraxas are not exactly willing to share. In fact, they get quite cranky when men attempt to take liberties with my person."
"Quite cranky?" Luna echoed, her eyes wide. Hermione nodded.
"Oh, yes," she said firmly. "Cygnus has the Black temperament and he's usually the first to wave his wand, or swing a punch. Depends on his mood."
"The Black temperament?" Sirius pouted. Hermione just raised an eyebrow at him.
"Hermione," Luna said slowly, her face scrunching up in thought. "Harry's kept all your things, he's never stopped hoping you'd return, you know. You've clothes up in your old room."
"That's perfect, Luna, thank you!" Hermione hugged the other girl and kissed her on the cheek before tearing up the stairs to change. She returned in a few minutes wearing jeans that had become slightly snug in five years and a jumper that clung to her womanly curves. She noticed Regulus and Sirius both staring at her for several moments before flushing and looking away.
"Right, I'm off to the Ministry then," she muttered. She glanced at Sirius and sighed. "Would you come along? If they find out I went out without an escort, I'll never hear the end of it."
"Of course, your grace," Sirius said cheekily. Hermione glared at him.
"I hate you," she growled at him. He snorted.
"You couldn't hate me if you tried, love," Sirius said carelessly. "Come along, now that we've gotten you into something a little less…what the hell was that anyway?"
"Court dress," Hermione said absently, "I was supposed to attend her majesty today during her audience."
"Excuse me?" Sirius said faintly. Hermione smiled slightly.
"In the world I just came from, the Queen is a witch. That's why I'm the Duchess of Aumale and the Countess of Wiltshire. Wizards there retained their titles," Hermione informed him with a small smirk.
"Bloody hell, Hermione," Sirius said faintly.
"Lady Hermione," Regulus and Luna corrected him. He glared at the both of them.
"Let's go, we can catch Harry while he's on lunch if we hurry," Sirius said firmly.
Chapter 8: Confessions
Hermione has been pulled back to her original world. Abraxas and Cygnus aren't going to stand for that.
Chapter 7 – Confessions
"There is no remedy for love but to love more."
-Henry David Thoreau
The Ministry of Magic was not quite what Cygnus and Abraxas had expected. Neither wizard had been overly fond of the idea of checking in his wand, and the Ministry was not organized in a way in which they might easily address their concerns. If one added to that the strange and unusual clothing that many of the witches were wearing, they both felt as though they had wandered into some sort of surreal dream. It did absolutely nothing for either Cygnus or Abraxas' patience that the officious twit behind the counter insisted on arguing with them.
"Listen to me, you Light-Plagued idiot," Cygnus snarled at the slender young man standing in front of him. "I bloody well know who my bloody wife is, and if you don't find her, and find her NOW, I swear to Mordred I will take apart this building with my bare hands!"
"Sir, there is no need for this attitude," the official protested weakly. Cygnus was so angry that his eyes were black and the force of his magical aura was almost overpowering.
"I want to speak to your supervisor!" Cygnus snapped angrily, Abraxas holding him back so that he couldn't reach the official and pull him over the counter.
"Thurston, do you require assistance," a cool voice drawled slowly. Reginald Thurston turned to his supervisor gratefully.
"Yes, sir," he said quickly, his eyes expressing relief. Lucius Malfoy refrained from rolling his eyes and then moved forward to speak to the agitated wizards at the counter. He stopped in his tracks and stared at the two wizards—the blond wizard trying in vain to restrain the dark haired wizard.
"Father?" Both wizards turned in surprise and glared at him.
"What?" They snapped irritably. Lucius took another step forward.
"Father," Lucius said faintly, staring at a much younger-looking version of his father. It did not surprise him at all that Cygnus Black, a very young-looking Cygnus Black, was standing right next to him. The two wizards stared back at him in consternation, then looked at one another and frowned darkly, barely suppressed rage vibrating in their well-muscled frames.
"Your daughter," Abraxas muttered under his breath, "at my son's house."
"Did you take our wife?" Cygnus demanded suddenly, his hands fisting in the front of Lucius' robes. He quirked a blonde brow at his father's…very dear friend, and carefully moved back out of range.
"Sir, did you say 'our' wife?" Lucius said slowly, his brow furrowing. Cygnus growled in irritation. Abraxas laid a hand on his arm and shot him a warning look.
"Yes, he did," Abraxas said smoothly. "Our wife went missing, and we've come here to find her. However, there is one rather important question I must ask you. You aren't, by any chance, Lucius Malfoy, are you?"
"You know that I am, father," Lucius said slowly, frowning at both men. Abraxas nodded.
"That's what I thought," he said calmly. Then he turned to Cygnus and gave an almost imperceptible nod. That was the last thing Lucius remembered.
Harry raced down the hall, chasing his fellow Aurors to see one of the strangest sights the Auror department had ever been privy to: a tall, lean man with dark hair and a slightly shorter blond man with impossibly broad shoulders were standing over the prone body of Lucius Malfoy, chests heaving, with satisfied expressions. When the Aurors arrived, wands drawn and trained on them, they looked irritated and haughty. Harry had the feeling that this was not going to end well. Personally, he felt that anyone who belted Lucius Malfoy deserved a pint at the Leaky, but he had a job to do and he meant to do it properly.
"Sirs, please step away from Mr. Malfoy," Harry said calmly. The men frowned at him and both took a step closer to him.
"You look like Charlus Potter," the blond said flatly. Harry frowned at him.
"Well that's a new line," he muttered under his breath. Then he shook himself and said politely, "Sirs, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask both of you to come with me to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to answer some questions."
"Very well," said the blond with an arrogant air. "We have questions to ask as well. Perhaps we will ask each other these questions."
"That's sounds fabulous," Harry muttered and led the men toward his department.
As he neared the Department of Magical Law Enforcement he noted with surprise that Sirius was leaning against the wall with an amused expression. Pacing restlessly next to him was a petite figure wearing skin-tight jeans that clung to her curves and a sweater that seemed to only emphasize her, er, assets. Wild curls bounced on the girls back every time she spun and paced. He realized with a shock that it was Hermione. He saw Sirius' lips move and Hermione stopped pacing to look up at him. Her eyes widened and he saw a variety of emotions flicker across her face. Then her eyes moved passed him and widened. Joy suffused her features and she ran towards them. He stopped and prepared himself to be tackled in a full-on Hermione Hug, which could be overwhelming if one wasn't ready. She flew passed him, however, and flung herself on the two wizards behind him.
"Cygnus! Abraxas! You came for me!" She was crying and hugging and kissing the two wizards he'd been escorting, and they were enthusiastically hugging and kissing her back. They crushed her to them, hugging her tightly and stroking her hair, pressing fervent kisses on her brow and several heated kisses on her lips. Then the dark-haired one pulled back, eyed her outfit and frowned darkly.
"What is this outfit? I do not care for it. Any wizard is free to ogle what only Abraxas and I should be seeing," Cygnus groused darkly. Hermione rolled her eyes at him.
"No one is ogling anything, Cygnus," she said tartly, failing to notice several wizards doing exactly that. Abraxas glared at them.
"That is beside the point, witch," Abraxas rumbled at her. "Who took you from us? You have been gone for months; Hypatius and Corvus have cried every single night for you."
"Months?" Hermione said in surprise. "It can't have been months! I've only been here a couple days and I've been unconscious for most of them."
"Her majesty has been most worried," Cygnus said quietly. "She's dispatched her spies to find out what's happened to you."
"She has?" Hermione said in surprise. Abraxas shrugged.
"You're one of her favorites, and a Blishwick. She thinks you were attacked so that you couldn't provide an heir to your house," he said carefully.
"Hermione?" Harry interjected uncertainly. Both wizards stiffened and glared at him.
"You will address our wife as your grace, my lady or Lady Hermione," the tall dark one, Cygnus, snapped coldly.
"Your wife?" Harry exclaimed in surprise. Sirius snorted and Harry looked in his direction.
"You think you've got problems, Harry? Her grace is my bloody aunt," his godfather drawled, rolling his eyes. The two wizards glared at Sirius until Hermione elbowed them both.
"That's Sirius, Walburga's oldest boy," Hermione informed Cygnus. He stared at his wife and then goggled at his nephew.
"Sirius?" Cygnus echoed faintly. The wizard in question gave a little bow and a mocking smile. Cygnus snorted and shook his head. "That's Sirius, all right. You must have led your mother a ragged chase."
"You might say that," Hermione said diplomatically. "That's why I have the boys over so often with Hypatius and Corvus."
"Hmm," Cygnus said noncommittally.
"Er, if you would rather," Harry said hesitantly. "I do have an office where we might have a more private conversation."
"Excellent suggestion, Harry," Hermione said firmly and looked at him expectantly. He looked at Sirius who shrugged and he led the way back to his office. It became rather crowded with Hermione flanked by her two, er, husbands, and Sirius leaning against the wall and smirking.
"So, you're married," Harry said carefully, frowning slightly. Hermione nodded.
"And you're not," she said with a raised brow. He sighed and nodded.
"It didn't work out," he muttered. Hermione nodded thoughtfully.
"But you've got Luna," Hermione pointed out. He smiled a small smile and nodded.
"I do have Luna," he said fondly.
"And because of Luna, you've got Sirius and Regulus," Hermione said calmly. Harry nodded again.
"Yes," he said slowly.
"Is this the one who took you?" Cygnus demanded irritably. Hermione patted him on the knee.
"Don't interrupt, Cygnus," she said absently. Abraxas snorted and Cygnus looked absolutely incensed.
"Uh, Lady Hermione," Harry said cautiously, eyeing her husbands. "I thought that you were hurt, or suffering. I…I thought maybe you'd been kidnapped or something. I practically razed Malfoy Manor to the ground looking for you."
"What is it with the Potter men," Cygnus muttered to Abraxas. "They have their own women and yet they insist on interfering with other men's wives."
"Cygnus," Hermione's voice held a warning note and he growled at her, glaring at Harry darkly. She ignored this and looked at Harry coolly and calmly. "I have children, Harry."
"Children?" Harry said in surprise. Then he looked slightly guilty. Hermione nodded.
"Yes, two little boys who miss me very, very much," she said quietly.
"There are others who have missed you," Abraxas said stiffly, his back ramrod straight. She blinked slightly and turned to him.
"What is that supposed to mean?" She asked with a frown. Cygnus growled again, his eyes almost black. "Abraxas?"
"We missed you," Abraxas said in the same stiff voice. Hermione looked startled, and then bit her lower lip.
"We are going to take our witch home, and you will desist in attempting to kidnap her and steal her from her home and family," Cygnus snapped arrogantly, his dark eyes fixed purposefully on Harry. Sirius smirked at Harry who looked at him.
"What?" he demanded of his godfather.
"If there's one thing you never, ever do," Sirius drawled while his lips twitched, "you do not mess with a witch who belongs to a Black. Other wizards might be possessive. We're just crazy."
"My nephew who is much older than he ought to be is correct," Cygnus said coldy, his dark eyes still on Harry. Abraxas shifted his position so that Cygnus was now between him and Hermione. Sirius could see Abraxas' hand resting firmly on the small of Cygnus' back and he watched his uncle struggle for control. Hermione ignored this exchange as though it did not involve her at all. She sat there coolly, looking calm and relaxed. Sirius frowned slightly.
"Hermione," Sirius said carefully. "Could I talk to you, alone, for just a moment?"
"Absolutely not," Cygnus practically seethed. Hermione looked surprised and Sirius smirked widely.
"Kitten, I think there's something that my uncle and your other husband have neglected to share with you," Sirius said smugly. Hermione looked at Sirius with wide eyes. She turned to her husbands who were eyeing Sirius warily.
"Cygnus? Abraxas?" Hermione asked curiously. Both men flushed and stared at their hands.
"It has come to our attention that we may have been remiss," Abraxas told his hands. Cygnus nodded in agreement.
"We…the both of us…love you," Cygnus said quietly his black eyes on Hermione's face. She sat very, very still, staring at the both of them.
"How long?" she whispered. Both men swallowed and looked at one another.
"A while," Cygnus admitted.
"I think maybe when you appeared in the Black Manor ball room and started yelling at us," Abraxas said thoughtfully. Hermione stood abruptly and started pacing in Harry office. She paused and stared at the both of them.
"You've never said anything," she said after a moment. Both men flushed again.
"Neither did you," Abraxas whispered and shrugged helplessly.
"Of course I didn't, you idiot man!" Hermione yelled at him. Then she calmed herself slightly and continued in a strained voice. "You and Cygnus told each other all the time. I knew what I was marrying into, I knew the deal, and I was fine with it. Both of you have treated me well and you have given me Hypatius and Corvus. It was silly to ask for more than that."
"And now?" Cygnus asked uncertainly, his eyes still black with emotion. Hermione chewed on her lower lip and stared at her husbands.
"Yes," she whispered, her whiskey-colored eyes wide. Cygnus and Abraxas were crushing her between them again, kissing her lips, her jaw, an ear—really whatever came near to them. At one point, Abraxas and Cygnus had hugged one another tightly and Abraxas had pressed an urgent kiss against Cygnus’ lips. Harry shifted uncomfortably.
"So, I guess you're fine," Harry said abashedly. Hermione shrugged from within the circle of both Abraxas and Cygnus’ arms.
"I think so, yes. You're more than welcome to visit if Luna can figure out how to swing it. Just…let us know in advance. Sirius and Regulus are my nephews and they are at Blishwick Manor on a regular basis. It would most likely be…awkward for them to walk into each other," Hermione said firmly.
"I will ask Luna," Harry promised. Then he frowned slightly. “I wish there were some way for us to talk. Owl Post can’t break dimensional barriers, can it?”
“No,” Hermione said thoughtfully. She looked at Abraxas, her eyes slightly narrowed. “What do you think?”
“It is an interesting puzzle,” Abraxas mused, his silvery brows drawing together. His silver-grey eyes lightened and his face became pensive. “We shall have to research it, I imagine.”
"You managed to find men who like to research with you?" Harry asked with a small twitch of his lips. Hermione narrowed her gaze at him, and then smiled fondly at her husbands.
Some years later
"Did you get it, Moony?" James Potter asked his friend. Remus looked pale and he was shaking slightly. He shook his head furiously, his lips pressed together.
"What's wrong Moony?" Sirius Black asked with concern, touching his friend's shoulders.
"It's not like you won't get another chance," Hypatius Malfoy pointed out. "You can always go back and try again."
Remus blanched even further. He sat down carefully next to Sirius and put his head in his hands. All of the boys in the room looked at him with concern. Hypatius frowned.
"It wasn't Perdita, was it? She's always trying to horn in on our fun," Hypatius said with the righteous wrath of an older brother.
"N-no," Remus muttered, rubbing a hand over his face. The boys frowned.
"So what was it then?" Regulus asked curiously. Remus' skin took on a sickly green cast.
"It…it was your mum," Remus said, looking at Hypatius who frowned in confusion.
"What about my mum?" Hypatius said flatly.
"She's in the library," Remus muttered.
"Mum's always in the library," Corvus observed with a roll of his eyes. Sirius, James and Regulus all nodded. That was true. Any time that anyone needed to find Lady Hermione, she was in the library.
"Lord Abraxas and Lord Cygnus are in the library, too," Remus said flatly. Hypatius paled.
"Right," Sirius said in an odd voice. "We'll just avoid the library for a bit. Er, how long would you say?"
"The rest of the afternoon, I'd wager," Corvus said drily. Sirius and Regulus looked disturbed.
"Surely not," Regulus said faintly. Hypatius rolled his eyes.
"You obviously don't know your aunt and uncles all that well," he retorted. "It's a miracle that we're as normal as we are. I'm permanently scarred in a variety of ways. Corvus still won't go out to the gazebo."
"You're one to talk," Corvus snapped irritably. "You refuse to go out to the stables by yourself and you always announce in a very loud voice at breakfast exactly where and when you plan to visit your horse."
"If you'd seen what I saw, you'd do the same," Hypatius said with a convulsive shudder. He tried very hard not to think about the stables, saddles or riding crops and mostly succeeding.
"I doubt that Mother and Father have ever done anything," Sirius said firmly. "I believe Mother figured out a spell to produce children without sex, and I bet Father was thrilled."
"You're lucky," James said with a snort. "My mum and dad are almost as bad as Pay and Cory's. I've walked in on them more times than I care to count. In fact, I think one of the safest places in the house is their damn bedroom."
"Urgh," Remus said faintly. They patted him carefully.
"It'll be all right, mate," Hypatius said comfortingly. There was a faint scratching on the door and Perdita Blishwick stuck her head into the room.
"Pay, have you seen mum? The house elves all swear they don't know where she is," Perdita asked fretfully. Hypatius smiled fondly at his baby sister.
"What's up Ditto?" He asked her. Perdita flushed.
"Don't call me that," she snapped irritably. She bit her lip anxiously. "I need to speak to mum."
"She's with Dad and Papa," Corvus said from his spot on a loveseat. Perdita paled and nodded.
"Right, I'll speak to her later then," she muttered under her breath. She sighed.
There was another knock at the door and an older man stuck his head into the room. Perdita saw him and squealed. She ran toward him and flung herself into his arms, hugging him and calling him 'Uncle Harry'. Sirius, James, Remus and Regulus goggled at the tall man with untidy black hair. He chuckled in a deep voice and teased Perdita about how much she'd grown. A dreamy blonde woman wandered into the room and waved at Hypatius and Corvus who stood and kissed the cheek of the woman they addressed as 'Aunt Luna'. Another, older wizard wandered into the room and nodded at Hypatius and Corvus. Perdita attacked this wizard as well, calling him 'Uncle Reggie'. 'Reggie' rolled his eyes, but put up with the hug. Two wizards who appeared to be older than 'Uncle Harry' and 'Uncle Reggie' entered and surveyed the rather full room with surprise.
"Er," One of them said faintly. "Where is Hermione?"
"Lady Hermione," the blond corrected absently. She peered at the gaggle of teenage boys. "You all appear to be infested with wrackspurts."
"Terrible that," The tall man with untidy black hair observed mildly. "D'you reckon they'll have to be put down?"
"Don’t' be ridiculous, Harry," the blond woman said absently.
"Mummy is with Daddy and Papa," Perdita offered angelically, with a sweet smile for her favorite uncle.
"Right, so in the library researching?" drawled one of the older-looking wizards with a roll of his eyes. Corvus had been sipping a butterbeer and he commenced to choking violently. Sirius gave him a good, solid whack between the shoulder blades and he spluttered and glared at his cousin.
"I guess that's one word for it," James whispered to Moony who paled again.
"They are in the library," Hypatius admitted with a shrug. The adults trooped downstairs in a group. Sirius, Regulus, James and Remus all stared at Hypatius and Corvus.
"How could you do that to your own uncles?" Sirius asked in a horrified voice. Cory snickered.
"It'll do them some good. Uncle Si—uh, well, they're always making smart remarks about Mum being a bookworm and living in the library," Cory said with a self-righteous air.
"One year, the tosser had the nerve to give mum the Kama Sutra in front of all of us and said that he bet it was the only book she hadn't read yet," Hypatius said in disgust.
"But, Harry, I wanted to see--," Luna was protesting as a red faced Harry dragged his wife back into the parlor the teenagers were hanging out in.
"No," Harry said flatly.
"But, Harry," Luna tried again. His green eyes narrowed dangerously.
"Absolutely not, Luna," He said flatly. She huffed in irritation and crossed her arms over her chest.
"Would I like to take notes, indeed," the older wizard was muttering irritably as he marched into the room behind Harry and Luna. "I could show her a thing or two."
"Not if her husbands remove your thing before you even get a chance," pointed out Uncle Reggie.
"You could have said," the other older wizard said in a pained voice to Hypatius who shrugged.
"I suppose," he replied, "but it wouldn't have been nearly as entertaining, and our motto is 'you can suffer as we have suffered'."
"That's an odd motto," Luna said with a slight frown. Corvus snorted.
"We made that up after the Christmas Tree Incident," Perdita told her aunt solemnly.
"Really?" Luna perked up. "Could we go talk about it privately?"
"Luna!" Harry barked. She sighed heavily.
"Never mind," she muttered.
"So, how are all of you? Doing well in school? Giving the professors hell?" Uncle Harry asked cheerfully.
The teenagers launched into a blow-by-blow description of their current term at Hogwarts, providing intricate detail on various pranks that had been pulled by rival factions. The older wizards laughed appropriately and suggested certain tweaks and adjustments to the pranks that had all the boys' eyes wide with admiration. Perdita was listening with half an ear, so she was the first who noticed when her mother entered the parlor.
In Perdita's opinion, her mum was the most beautiful witch in the world. Her Papa and her Daddy heartily agreed. Lady Hermione was the mother of three teenagers, and she was a bit softer around the edges than she used to be, but you wouldn't know it by her husbands. She slipped into the room, Her thick curls wound into a chignon, her robes pristine. She chuckled at a particularly funny story that Cory was relating when the visitors turned and spied her.
"Hermione!" Harry moved quickly to her side. He pulled her into his arms and hugged her tightly. A snarl made him raise his head and quirk a brow at Cygnus Black. "I haven't tried to steal your wife, yet, have I? I've got my own, and I'm quite happy with her."
"And yet you persist in fondling our wife at every opportunity," Abraxas drawled coolly, his silver eyes narrowed on Harry.
"Harry has never fondled me," Hermione said stiffly.
"Really?" One of the older wizards said with a frown. "What about that summer before fifth year? I caught you both in the—OW!"
"Oh, dear," Hermione said with fake sympathy. "I seem to have stepped on your foot. Let's go into the next room and I'll heal it."
"I'm fine," the wizard wheezed. Hermione gave a brittle laugh.
"No, no, I think you and I need to go into the other room," she said firmly. Cygnus and Abraxas were frowning.
"Sweeting," Cygnus said slowly. Hermione patted him absently.
"Yes, dear," she murmured.
"Please not in front of us, Papa," Cory pleaded and pointed toward a slightly green looking Remus Lupin. Cygnus frowned.
"I wasn't doing anything," he said with a self-righteous air. Abraxas snorted and whispered something in Cygnus' ear.
"Why don't we all go down and have tea," Hermione said smoothly. "James, dear, your mother and father will be here for dinner."
"Yes, Aunt Hermione," James said dutifully. The two older wizards snickered at this and Hermione automatically smacked them upside the head. She paused and blushed.
"Sorry," she offered weakly. "I'm afraid it's a reflex at this point."
"No worries, Aunt Hermione," one of them said with a cheeky grin. Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Mordred and Morgana help me," she muttered under her breath. Abraxas and Cygnus exchanged smug smiles and followed their wife downstairs.