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Hermione took a deep breath, listening to the sounds of three people moving through the trees. They came into view, two men bearing the symbol of the Order of the Phoenix on their caps, a Death Eater shuffling between them, chains linking his wrists.

The shorter of the two Order members raised one hand as he shoved his captive to the ground.

"Stay back, Hermione! He's dangerous!" He staggered when his compatriot smacked his arm, then looked back to Hermione. "Shit, um. Sorry. Captain Granger," he added with a cough.

Hermione raised a brow, nodding to acknowledge when he corrected himself.

Murphy. Miller. Macklin. Something that started with M. She knew that she should remember his name, but at that moment, she couldn't think of anything except the man in front of her.

A man responsible for so much tragedy, so much pain. Dragged in chains before her, shoved to his knees in the dirt.

Draco Malfoy.

Killer. Death Eater.

Traitor. Informant. Spy.

Draco looked up at her, wiping blood off his lips as he smirked. "Hey, sweetheart." His smile widened, flashing red-stained teeth. "Miss me?"

"I can hardly miss you when I know you're coming," she said. "We do have a deal. You give me information, and I don't let my men kill you."

"Just how many men do you have on the leash? Thought I was your one and only."

"Stop talking, Malfoy," she said, curling her nails into her palm. She looked over his head at the men who'd caught him. "Dismissed," she snapped. "I'll take him from here. Go back to patrol."

"Captain Granger," one replied. "We were told to escort you with him. He's dangerous."

"And I am telling you differently. Go." She waited, arms folded, until they had walked away, then looked down at the man at her feet. "Blood looks good on you."

The point of his tongue touched his lip. "You do like it rough."

"How badly are you hurt?" she asked quietly. She could see several of his injuries — split lip, grazed cheekbones, scraped forehead. Blood sticking in his hair and staining his open shirt collar. Her fingers twitched for her wand but she tightened them into a fist behind her back.

No mercy, not here in the open.

Draco hesitated, then cleared his throat. "Broken ribs. Punch to the jewels. I don't mind getting slapped around a bit, but they went a touch far."

"New recruits tend to get a little enthusiastic when they have a Death Eater handy to shove around. I'll have a chat with them when I can."

"Busy plotting to take down the Dark Lord, understandable. That takes a lot of time."

Hermione shook her head. "No. Busy trying to investigate my own people without setting off any alarms. I suspect there's a leak in the Order."

Draco met her eyes. "Thought I was the only traitor here."

"No. Just the only one I trust." Her eyes softened for a moment, a flash of emotion in them before she straightened and pushed up her sleeve. Touching her wand to the phoenix burned into the crook of her elbow, she spoke. "Two coming in. Granger and Malfoy to Annex Six."

Draco struggled to his feet, a pained grunt caught in his bloodied teeth. "Annex Six? Damn. I was hoping to get that little place by the sea again. Good views there."

"Blame the arsonists in your lot. Annex Four is gone." Hermione gripped Draco's chains and Apparated.

They landed in the middle of a clearing before a ramshackle hunter's cabin deep in a forest, a dozen wands leveled at them.

Hermione snapped out a code phrase and tightened her hold on Draco's chains. "Ron," she said as one wand stayed up. "He has information. You know the deal we have with him. Safe passage in exchange for intel."

"Doesn't mean you had to bring him here. You could have questioned him when he was taken, not let him come into our territory."

"That's not your call," Hermione said, stepping forward and hauling Draco with her. "It's mine."

"Here. A safe house. An Order house. With a Death Eater in it." Ron's eyes narrowed. "You know who he's killed. How many he's killed."

"And I also know how many he's saved." Hermione tugged Draco another step closer, until his dark robes brushed her calves. "I'll be questioning him. Alone. Now move."

She led Draco into the cabin and to a small alcove at the rear, wand flicking to drop a thick cloth wall that closed them off from the others. A second flick of her wand muffled their voices, keeping their conversation private.

"Don't think he trusts me as much as you do," Draco said. "And speaking of trust." He lifted his hands and shook the chains.

Hermione gave him a considering look. "I like you this way," she said. "Helpless. At my mercy."

"Covered in blood."

"Can't forget that." She moved close and wiped her thumb across his mouth. Licking the blood off her hand, she smirked. "Filthy little pure-blood."

She turned around. In a heartbeat, Draco had dropped his arms over her and jerked her firm against him. He wrapped one blood-stained hand around her throat, breathing hot along the curve of her ear.

"Who's at whose mercy now?" he murmured.

Hermione closed her eyes, trying not to shiver at the heat of his body pressed close to hers. He tensed his fingers on her throat and she bit her lip to hold back a moan. He knew her too well.

Draco slid his free hand down her chest until the length of chain stopped him, his fingers dipping into the valley between her breasts. "You didn't answer me before," he said, lips moving on the shell of her ear. "Did you miss me, sweetheart?"

"Damn you, Malfoy," she whispered. "I did."

He drew her earlobe between his lips and sucked, teeth scraping her skin. "We should do something about that."

"Thought you were injured," she said. "Broken ribs?"

"I can work around that."

She pushed one hand between them, set her palm over his groin, and squeezed.

Draco swore, thumping his head on her shoulder.

"Punch to the jewels," she said with a grin. "Can't work around that, no matter how much I missed you."

"Cruel." Draco lifted his arms over her and stepped back. "But sadly accurate. Questioning first, then?"

Hermione dissolved his chains with a snap of her fingers and pointed to a chair. "Treatment first," she said.

Draco sat, wincing. "Let's combine the treatment and the questions. Save time for the more fun things."

"Take off your shirt." Hermione put bandages on the table next to him.

"Bossy," he said, unfastening his robes.

Hermione went still. Draco's shirt was splotched with blood. She'd suspected that he was hiding injuries under his black robes, but the extent of them were more than she'd expected.

"Who did it?" Her voice dropped to an unfamiliar growl.

"Team effort," he said. "Congratulations, those drills are working. Get the short one to work on his stealth, though. I heard him coming well before I saw him. Think he has buckles on his shoes. He jangled when he put the boot in."

Hermione unfastened his collar and pulled at his shirt. The material stuck to his skin. "Where's your knife?"

"Same as always." He gave her a challenging look. "Care to handle my weapon, Captain?"

She slid her hand down his spine, tugging his shirt to free the charmed dagger concealed at the small of his back. A charm kept it disguised as a short hilt, but she knew how to bring it to life.

A stroke of her thumb extended the hidden blade by several inches, resulting in a long misericorde dagger. Draco's favorite weapon, used to give the final, merciful blow to a fallen enemy. She'd seen him struggle to cast the Killing Curse more than once, but his blade never failed. Clenched tight in his fist or thrown across a battlefield, that knife had killed more than a dozen people in the previous two years.

He had saved more than a dozen people from long and agonizing torture with that dagger. That made it as precious to her as it was to him.

Hermione held the dagger up and slowly drew one finger along the sharp edge. No pressure, barely touching it, just enough to glide the metal along her skin. She kept her eyes on Draco's as she caressed the dagger, watching his pupils dilate and his throat flush red.

He wet his lips and spoke in a low voice. "You know it turns me on when you play with knives."

"I do." Smiling, she kissed the flat of the blade and dragged the point across his collarbones. She gestured to him to put his hands behind his back, keeping him apparently restrained as she straddled his thighs. She wanted him to touch her, to wrap his hands around her hips, slide his palms up her sides, but it was risky and they both knew it. He had to appear under her control, or there would be questions. "At my mercy again, Malfoy."

"No objections, I have to admit," he said with a hint of a smile.

She slipped the dagger into his collar to cut along the seam. "The last attack," she said, looking into his eyes. "Your lot were ready for us. How did you know?"

Draco tipped his head back to watch her through his lashes. "You're right. There's a leak. He came to us three days before, telling us where you were going to be, how many were coming."

Hermione peeled the shirt away from Draco's shoulder and chest, grinding her teeth as she exposed more injuries. "Who is it? Who's my traitor, Malfoy?"

"Don't know," he said. "Man, average height, slender build. Dark hair, if he was stupid enough to come to us without a glamour. Young voice. I didn't recognize him when he spoke."

Hermione cut his sleeve down his arm, dried blood sticking. Draco flinched as the shirt stuck to a wound and hissed when Hermione jerked it free. She flung the shred of Draco's shirt on the floor, then slowly set her palm over the cut she'd uncovered. There were dozens of scrapes and bruises on Draco's torso, evidence of the Order escorts taking out their frustrations on a supposedly captive Death Eater.

Forcing herself to concentrate on her task and not her anger at the men who'd hurt him, she cleared her throat. "Could be disguised. Your voice alters when you're in your mask. I can recognize it, though."

Draco watched her, the lines of his face going still. "You're telling me you can pick out my voice through that? The hair, I could see that, or even my height. But my voice? Through my mask?"

"Yes," she whispered, stroking gently around the edges of a bruise on his side, a treadmark clear on his pale skin. He had been kicked in the ribs. "I can tell."

"You held back in the fight," he said, voice taut. "I thought you did. I saw you take aim and you didn't attack. Because—"

"Because it was you. I always know when it's you."

Draco shut his eyes. "Goddammit, Granger. We swore. In the field, there's nothing between— We're not—"

"But we are. And there is."

The tip of his nose brushed hers as his voice dropped to a breath. "So fucking dangerous, sweetheart. Letting this affect us out there. You know we can't."

Dagger held across his throat, she tipped her head to brush her lips over his. "I know the risk. And I won't refuse to fight, but if I can avoid taking a hit on you, I will. I will every time."

She dragged her tongue across his lip and licked the blood off his mouth. Before she could kiss him, Draco pulled back, hissing in warning.

She'd heard the same creaking floorboard he had, and she straightened up as Ron called her name from the outer room.

Hermione yanked Draco's head back, dagger held in place. "Death Eater," she snarled as the curtain opened behind her. "Not so cocky with a Mudblood in your lap, are you? Answer the questions."

Draco gave her a slow smirk. "More action than I've had in weeks. I can deal."

"Answer," she insisted, shaking him by the hair.

Draco glared, eyes turning to steel. "A week," he said. "Next attack is in a week."

He looked over her shoulder, flashing his bloodstained teeth. "That's seven days, Weasel. Can you count that high?"

Hermione twisted the dagger, tip prodding under Draco's jaw. Looking into his eyes, she lowered one lid in a slow wink before pricking his skin, a trail of blood dripping down his throat. "Where?"

"Ireland. Mallow."

"Seamus," Ron said behind her. "Who else does he have with him? Dean? Hannah?"

Hermione kept her eyes on Draco's face. "Take a squad. Get them out. Move slow, don't be obvious."

"Better move fast. In two days they'll be under watch." Draco gave a short, snickering laugh. "Or under clock, shall I say? Nice building, though. We'll try not to burn this one down."

"Son of a bitch," Ron muttered. "Think you're funny?"

"Hilarious. I could write a song about it if you want."

"Cut his throat, Hermione," Ron said. "One less Death Eater around."

"Tick tock, Weasley." Draco looked at him, smile widening. "Full moon in a week. You definitely want them out before we release the hounds."

The color drained from Ron's face. He dashed out.

Hermione sagged, her head drooping forward as she released her aggressive interrogation stance. "Please say that was a lie."

Draco stayed silent, staring past her shoulder at the curtain.

"The werewolves are joining the attack?"

"Fenrir's bored. My Lord decided to throw him a bone, if you'll pardon the expression." Draco shrugged. "But I did lie about anyone watching the clock house. Someone looks in from time to time but no one's surveilling. If you time it right, you can get them out without anyone being the wiser and you all can celebrate that you got one over on us. Thought Weasley could use some motivation, though."

"And? You never have just one motive."

"And I wanted him gone. Wanted you all to myself."

She exhaled and set the dagger on the table, picking up her wand to start healing his wounds. "I need you to give me something important this time. Something vital."

"Actual intel?" Draco lifted a brow. "Depends. Have you been teasing me or do I actually get time with you tonight?"

She tucked her wand into her hair for a moment, both hands cradling Draco's cheeks. "I don't know if I can. A couple of people have wondered why I insist on questioning you in privacy so often. And why it takes so long. I don't think they know what we're actually doing but—"

Draco tipped his head and kissed her, the taste of his blood hot on her tongue as he swept the inside of her mouth. He gripped her hips and pulled her closer, hands spreading across her back.

"I have an idea that will solve that little problem," he whispered against her lips. "You just need to answer one question. Am I alone tonight, sweetheart?"

Hermione didn't hesitate. "No."

She shoved her fingers into his hair, holding his head in place. Draco's fingers flexed against her sides, then relaxed as he let her take over the kiss. She sucked blood from his tongue, licked blood from his teeth. She kissed the breath out of his lungs before releasing him.

His eyes were glazed when she lifted her head. "I surrender," he muttered. "Do what you will, Captain."

Hermione stifled a laugh, resting her forehead against his for a moment, and returned to healing his hurts.

She left his cuts and scrapes to keep his cover story intact, only healing the more serious injuries. He jerked, a flash of pain across his face when she fixed his broken ribs. Hermione wrapped her hand around his side, squeezing gently in apology.

She considered the fresh nick on his throat, then ducked her head to press her mouth over it, licking the blood from his skin. "There," she murmured. "You're in good condition to be roughed up again."

"Think I'll enjoy your version a little more," he said.

Hermione moved off his lap and Draco stood, pulling his robes over his bare chest. Hermione returned his dagger to him. He slid it into place at the small of his back, then silently extended his arms.

Hermione restrained him again, the iron lightened with a charm. A long chain between solid cuffs around his wrists, another leading up to loop completely around his neck. "Are you my captive, Malfoy?"

"Yours? Always. And definitely tonight, if you agree to my plan."

"Mmm. What is this plan of yours?" she asked, stroking the chain against his chest.

Draco stepped in close and whispered to her. Hermione shuddered, a heated throb starting between her thighs. "God," she muttered as he bit the arch of her ear. "That's an evil plan."

"Dark wizards tend to specialize in evil plans. Part of the training. We can't help ourselves, really."

Hermione kissed him again, a quick flutter of lips, before stepping back and lifting her chin. "Try to remember those are supposed to keep you from casting spells," she said. "Or I'll put real ones on you next time."

Draco rolled his eyes but nodded.

She led him into the main room of the cabin, stopping as Ron pushed away from the door to face them.

"You should be flying over the channel by now," she said, fist clenched at her side to steady herself. She'd expected him to be gone. Expected she'd only have to deal with a couple of grumbles and nasty looks, not the potential of a full-blown argument. She took a slow breath. "I told you to take a squad to Ireland."

"Sent them ahead," he replied, glaring past her at Draco. "Thought you might need help with the Death Eater. Another person there to get information out of him."

"No. I know what I'm doing."

Ron met her eyes. "Do you? Doesn't seem like he ever says anything really useful. Can't see why you keep letting him come to us. Kill him and end it."

Draco stayed still as Hermione glanced back at him. His expression was blank; his eyes were steady. He looked at her, then dropped his chin just a touch. A hint of a nod, and she took a firmer grasp on his chains. "We made a deal this time. He's providing something crucial. For a price."

Ron looked at Draco. "What price?"

Draco stirred. He deliberately looked Hermione up and down, then gave a slow and wicked smile, his teeth still stained red, eyes gleaming bright silver. "A very high one."

She knew that look. She'd seen it time after time, in hidden shadows and brief moments. Open, avaricious want. The heat between her thighs renewed and she squeezed her legs together, hiding a shiver before she turned to Ron. "A very high price. And I agreed to pay it."

Ron snarled, moving closer, hands curled into fists. "You bastard. You can't force her into your bed!"

"He isn't. He has information we need. If this is what it costs? Fine."

"You'd fuck a Death Eater?"

"For this intel? Absolutely." She stepped back, Draco's chains rattling as she moved. "It's my call."

"Harry would never let you do this."

Hermione lifted her chin. "Harry isn't here. If we ever find him, he can shout at me." She pointed her wand at the bunks at the far end of the cabin. "Out of my way."

Ron's face turned bright red. "Here? Hell if I'll let him—"

"Not here," Draco said.

Hermione gave him a startled glance and Draco lifted a brow. "Unless you want eavesdroppers and witnesses, and isn't that a fun little thing to know about you. But as I intend to extract every bit of my price from you, I had someplace less inhibiting in mind. A little privacy for you to moan my name."

"Shut up," she said, shaking his chains and turning enough to give him a warning flick of her eyes. Ron's breathing was too loud, too frustrated, and she didn't want this to come to blows. "If not here, where?"

"You're not the only one with safe houses, Granger."

"Hermione, don't be ridiculous. This is insane! How do we know he's not just trying to abduct you?"

"In case you failed to notice, Weasel, I'm in chains here," Draco said. "Magical ones? Can't cast a spell so I'm not exactly in charge. Though on the bright side, neither are you."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Means that you don't have one damn say in anything here, do you? Can't even protest when your leader decides to quite literally sleep with the enemy. But I'd guess you're used to getting pushed aside for your betters."

Draco ran his tongue over his teeth. "And Weasel? By tomorrow, she'll know how much better I am."

"You son of a bitch."

Hermione whipped around, slicing her wand across Draco's face, cutting down his jaw. "No, Ron," she said, staring at Draco's eyes. "Can't you see what he's doing?"

Draco stood with blood dripping off his chin. Hermione stared up at him. "He's trying to get you angry. He wants you distracted, riled up. Because the longer you stand here arguing, the less time you have to help the squad rescue Seamus."

Draco blinked slowly and smiled. "Caught me."

Ron swore, his face darkening with anger. He grabbed a bag from a table and slung it over his shoulder. "This isn't finished," he said, pointing at Draco. "You'll pay for this."

"She's paying the price," Draco said. "Didn't we just cover that?"

Hermione grabbed his chains and hauled him out of the cabin, wards sparking as they exited.

They hop-Apparated to a series of locations, muddling their path and preventing them from being followed, until they stopped at the edge of a lake. Hermione turned to Draco and healed the cut on his jaw. "Your turn," she said.

Draco raised his hands, chains rattling. Hermione shook her head. "No. For that little stunt at the cabin, you can just keep those on."

"You do like it rough," Draco said. "Fortunately, so do I." He grabbed her and spun in place, black smoke filling the air.

They landed by a tiny stone cottage high above a lake. With one door, one window, obviously just one room, it was more of an emergency shelter than any sort of house. "Where are we?" Hermione asked as the wind whipped past them.

"Highlands. Very isolated." Draco looked over the lake. "Alone."

Hermione slid her hand up his chains, pulling his head down and pushing up on her toes to press her forehead to his. "Not tonight. I told you. You won't be alone tonight."

"You also said you like me at your mercy." Draco grunted as she tugged at the loop of chain around his neck. "Planning to keep me restrained for this?"

"Tempted, yes."

"Captured Death Eater tortured for information." Draco swiped his tongue across his bottom lip and smirked at her. "Changing the definition of torture, if that's the game."

Hermione pulled him toward the cottage, her fingers tight around his chains. "Believe me, Malfoy. You'll be begging for release."

"If experience is anything to go by, you'll be the one begging, sweetheart."

Inside the cottage, Draco pressed close against her back, hands on her hips. "Robes, chains, bloodstains," he whispered into her hair. "Want me to wear my mask?"

Hermione shuddered, biting her lip. She went up on her toes and pushed back to him, hips rolling against his.

Draco's voice turned hoarse and rough. He yanked her tight to him, a sharp thrust in response. "Oh, sweetheart. You like that idea?"

The thought rushed through her. She'd seen him in his mask more times than she wanted to count. Fighting on the battlefield, the silver face splashed with blood. Standing over a body, his long knife in one hand and his wand in the other. Turning away from her as he pretended not to see her helping someone escape in the darkness.

She knew every inch of that mask, the carved designs, the wide dark eyes and the sharp jaw. When he shouted commands or cast a spell, it moved like his own face, like it was his own flesh.

The times they met in secret, he always dissolved the mask before he kissed her. She'd wondered, more than once, what it would be like if he didn't. If he would give her a cold, metallic kiss, hard as steel, or if it would be as hot and soft as his own mouth. She tipped her head back, kissing the underside of his jaw. "Yes."

He draped his arms around her, the chains at his wrists swaying over her chest. Eyes closed, head against his shoulder, Hermione listened to her heart rushing in her ears as Draco's hands moved over her. He stroked his fingers across her stomach, explored the flare of her ribs, rubbed his thumbs beneath the swell of her breasts.

He pressed his hand to her throat and she whimpered as he squeezed down. "Want me in my mask? I'll give that to you. I'll give it to you gladly. I've wanted to, so many times. Gets me hot thinking about it," he muttered. He grabbed one of her arms and wrenched it behind her back, pressing her fingers to his groin. He ground against her hand, his length already thickening.

Draco bit her ear, teeth sharp in her flesh. "Captain of the Order of the Phoenix, begging for a Death Eater. Your little friends, at least a couple of them already suspect that I'm slipping you more than information, don't they? And soon they're all going to know. That I had you, that I've put my claim on you, that I fucked you until you screamed for me. That you crave it when I'm rough with you, when I take you as I please. There won't be an inch of you, outside and in, that won't have my mark on you."

She shuddered in his arms, the weight of his hand on her throat adding sparkles of silver to the darkness behind her closed eyes. A stroke of her fingers along his length forced a soft grunt from him. Cold rushed past her, a metallic scent filling the air.

Draco's voice shifted, a dark echo on his words. "You're mine," he said in a low rumble. "Say it, sweetheart. Surrender."

She keened deep in her throat, pushing the words past his grip on her neck. "Make me."

Draco growled and shoved her forward. She staggered into a table, palms scraping across it, and Draco was on her before she could catch her breath.

He flipped her over and kicked her feet apart, one knee shoved between her thighs. Leaning down over her, chains swaying from his neck, he held her wrists beside her shoulders. "Say it," he hissed.

Hermione hooked her feet behind his legs and wriggled underneath him. "Make me," she said again.

The silver mask moved in a deep smile and Draco locked both her wrists in one hand. He shoved the other between her legs, fingers pressing hard on the seam of her jeans.

Rocking her head on the table, Hermione ordered herself not to moan each time Draco ground the stiff seam against her body, but she admitted that was a fight she would lose. He knew her responses, knew exactly how to excite her.

Draco pressed closer, pushing her thighs further apart, and Hermione instinctively raised her knees to lock her ankles behind his back. His deep growl was the only warning she got before he yanked her up by the wrists.

He caught her close, arms tight around her, chains pressed into her stomach and chest. One step, two steps, and he had her pinned to the wall.

Hermione swore under her breath, hands scrabbling at the fastening of his robes. She shoved them off his shoulders and spread her hands across his bare chest, nails raking along the paths of his scars.

Draco kissed her, hard and sudden. His mask gleamed, cold against her cheek and hot against her mouth. She opened for him, sliding her tongue against his, whimpering with each shift of his lips on hers.

He sank his teeth into her bottom lip and pulled until she felt the skin break. He licked the blood off her mouth, sucked it over his tongue, and fed it back to her in a deep and probing kiss.

Hermione groaned, wrapping her arms around him and letting her legs drop. The pressure of his body against hers kept her against the wall as she dug her nails into his shoulders.

Draco took the opportunity. His fingers dragged down her sides and hooked into her waistband. A grunt, a shove, and her jeans were at her knees and his hand was between her thighs.

She knew she should be blushing, that people would want her to be ashamed of how wet she already was for him, of how easily his fingers slid along her bare flesh, but she didn't feel an ounce of shame. All she felt was need and want and the heat of Draco's hand. She kicked her jeans down to her ankles, pushed them to the floor, and hauled her legs up to wrap around his waist.

His eyes were dark in the shadow of his mask, his own need burning in the depths of that charcoal grey. "Say it," he demanded, the echo of his voice sending flames down her spine. He stroked her, two fingers slick inside her, thumb hovering over her clit.

She shook her head.

His chains rattled; his belt jangled. A shift of his arm, the quiet teeth of a zipper sliding down, and she looked down between them to see him take himself in hand, thick and long and flushed scarlet at the head. His chains scraped along her thigh as he stroked his cock.

Hermione keened and took a grip on the loop of chain around his neck. She yanked on it, thrilling to the hiss he made.

"Say it." He pushed into her folds, found her entrance, but no matter how she wriggled and rocked, that was all he would let her have of him.

Hermione shoved her hands into his hair, took fistfuls of the pale strands, hauled his head up to meet her eyes. "Make me."

The silver mask moved, a snarl of frustration. Hermione caught the flash of darkness in his eyes and her heart pounded.

Draco surged forward, one solid drive that snapped her head back. She shrieked at the stretch of her body but Draco gave her no chance to recover. He braced his forearm on the wall, pressed his other hand to her neck, and fucked her relentlessly.

Her vision sparkled and greyed, Draco's mask gleaming like the stars, his eyes black with want. "Say it," he growled, each word matched to a thrust. "Tell me. Surrender, sweetheart. Say it."

Hermione fought for air, ankles tight behind his back. "Make. Me."

Draco's mask twisted in a vicious, triumphant smile, and he picked up speed.

She couldn't speak, could barely breathe. All she could do was hold on as Draco laid claim to her. Each hard thrust ground her into the wall. Draco's chain swung in counterpoint, adding a dark chime to each slam of his hips against hers, the wet slick sounds of her body welcoming his assault.

Sucking desperately for air, she choked out what he needed to hear, the words that drove him into a fury. "Yours," she said, her nails piercing the skin over his heart. She looked deep into his eyes. "I'm yours. My Lord."

He ducked his head, sank his teeth into her neck, and slammed into her, coming to the echo of her scream.

He groaned to a finish and slumped against her, his weight holding her up. The silver mask dissolved into black smoke. "Fuck," he muttered into her neck. "That was a good one. You do make me work for it."

"I like it rough," she said, stroking his sweat-damp hair. She snapped her fingers and removed his chains, then kissed him when he lifted his head. "And you know what else I like, Malfoy."

"I do. I know exactly what you like. Bloodthirsty little thing." One hand slid behind his back. He brought the dagger hilt up between them, stroked his thumb along it, and smiled as her eyes shone for the blade.

He carried her to the narrow bed, her thighs slick and core aching, and lowered her to her feet. Hermione tossed her shirt onto the floor and took the dagger from Draco. He stripped, stretched out on the bed, and folded his arms under his head.

Hermione shuddered in anticipation, listening to Draco chant a quiet spell, and knelt astride his hips when he nodded to her.

The first cut healed before she'd finished the drag of the blade across his sternum. The second took a moment longer. The third beaded up with blood and Hermione leaned down to lick it off his skin.

She carved lines into his chest, each cut taking longer to heal, until they stopped healing entirely. Blood dripped off his sides and filled the air with the scent of iron. Setting the dagger aside, she smoothed her hands up his chest, smearing the blood over his skin. With a dark smile, she licked her palm. "I like you in red."

Draco groaned, lashes fluttering, as she rocked her hips. His cock had hardened with every kiss and lick of his blood, and Hermione raised up enough to guide him inside her. She rode him, both hands pressed to the swirling curves of his cuts, healing them one by one.

Draco swore under his breath each time another cut sealed over, his numbing spell wearing off, and he tipped his head back with a long groan as Hermione healed the last slice on his hip. She sucked blood off her fingers, her eyes locked on his.

The taste of him in her mouth, the feel of him in her cunt, the sound of him in her ears. He was completely vulnerable in that moment, and for that moment, he was entirely hers. Hermione closed her eyes, dropped her head, and rode him to her quaking release. She collapsed on top of him and he rolled her into his embrace. "Rest, sweetheart," he murmured to her. "You earned it."

Hermione didn't know how long she'd slept when she finally opened her eyes. The cottage was silent and still, but she caught movement near the tiny window. Draco, robes hanging open from his shoulders, stood beside a beam of moonlight, dagger held low at his side.

He rarely slept when they managed to find more than a few hurried minutes together. He guarded her, stood watch over her. She could only remember twice that she'd woken in his arms, his eyes closed and breathing steady, his face relaxed and calm. Twice, he held her and kissed her slow, his grey eyes holding a glimpse of tenderness.

They were two of her most precious memories, moments that she visited in her mind night after lonely night. Moments outside of the war, moments where she could let herself imagine an alternate life, one where she and Draco could be together.

Throat tight, she pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind. The rope-sprung bed creaked as she sat up. "Glad you're awake," Draco said without turning around. "I need to go. Didn't want to leave while you were out."

She wrapped her arms around her knees, wincing as her strained muscles protested a new stretch, reminding her of what she'd done. Not that she needed the reminder. The evidence was all over her skin, bruise after bruise already starting to show. The clench of his hands, the slam of his hips. No tenderness, no gentleness, no quarter given. Draco's eyes had burned cold each time he took her again.

Neither of them had surrendered, not until they lay exhausted and curled around each other, Draco's back and Hermione's nails stained with blood. All of their passion had come with pain, and she'd reveled in it as much as he had. They left each other marked, claimed as spoils of war.

She tugged her fingers through her hair, fighting out a tangle. "I know you have to leave, but one day, I'd like to have more than a handful of hours with you."

He exhaled slowly. "Not this time. I've already stayed too long. My Lord presumes I sneak off to meet a lover. Assumes it's a supporter, so he allows it. But I can't push his patience."

"He presumes you have a lover," Hermione repeated. "Do you?"

Draco was quiet as he turned his dagger over in his hands.

Hermione took a slow breath. "Because I've thought that you probably do. That you have some other woman who would be acceptable, if anyone wondered. If he pries into your mind, you would want to—to be able to— I assumed you have someone safe. That you go to her when you leave me."

Even from across the room, she could hear him swallow. "Yes," he said finally. "I do."

Hermione closed her eyes and put her forehead on her raised knees. She couldn't blame him. If Voldemort became suspicious, if Draco's times away from the Death Eaters were questioned, he needed to be able to present a cover story that would pass even against Legilimency. He was a highly skilled Occlumens, one of the best, but having the memory of another woman, another face in his mind, would protect him even further.

"I understand. It's necessary." She lifted her head, looking at him. "It may be necessary for me, as well."

Draco's back stiffened, his fingers clenching tight around the hilt of his dagger.

Hermione kept her eyes on his jawline, his profile stiff in the moonlight. "I'm going to have a fight with Ron when I get back," Hermione said. "He'll whine and sulk and complain that I was willing to fuck a Death Eater when I won't sleep with him."

Draco's head moved, turning enough for him to look at her from the corner of his eye.

"I haven't in ages," she continued. "Nearly two years. But he's been sniffing around. And after tonight?"

Hermione wet her lips, fingers tracing the outline of Draco's fingers bruised into her thigh. "We'll fight. And it could create too much tension in the Order. The problems he could cause.... People trust him. They respect him. He is excellent at tactics and he's planned some of our most successful missions. If he wants to make trouble for me, then— I can't risk it."

She tightened her jaw. "I won't risk it. I'll go to him, as much as I hate it. I'll let him—"

Draco continued for her when she broke off. "Let him think you came to his bed because you were forced into mine."

He shook his head when she made a disgusted noise. "Let him, sweetheart. If it stops him from causing issues for you in the Order, let him. Let him believe he can fuck me out of your thoughts, that you want his face in your mind. That he's the one you came to for comfort after I raped you."

"That I need him," she said sharply. "That he's the only one who can make it better. That no matter what you do to me, I really belong to him. That he has the right to what you took by force."

Draco whipped around, eyes dark. "Never." He strode across the room, dagger shining in the moonlight. "Never. He can want you, he can touch you, he can even fuck you. But he will never have a claim on you. You'll never be his."

Threading his fingers into her hair, he tipped her head back. "You're mine. You'll always be mine."

She looked up at Draco, at the fire in his eyes. She rubbed her cheek against his hand. Slowly, she wrapped her hand around his wrist and kissed the dagger he held. "I'm yours, Draco." She guided the point of his dagger to the hollow behind her ear, eyes closed in absolute trust. "Mark me."

Draco made a dark, needy sound, his fingers tightening in her hair to tilt her head to the side.

Hermione held her breath as Draco made small cuts beneath her hairline, the shapes coming to her easily.


Draco left his mark on her, cut his claim into her skin, and he bent down to kiss the blood away. "Mine," he murmured to her. "You fuck him if you have to, and you close your eyes to do it, sweetheart. If he makes you, you close your eyes, and you put your hand right here." He touched her fingers to the fresh cuts. "And it won't matter. He won't matter. Because you know that you're mine."

He tucked his blade away and cradled her face in both hands. "And because what I have for you is going to be good enough that the next time I come in, the next time I demand time with you as the price for even the smallest scrap of intel, no one will say a word against it. Not even him. We'll both do what's necessary afterwards — I'll go to her and you'll go to him and we'll both do what we have to do — but it'll be worth it. We'll be able to have uninterrupted, precious time together."

Hermione sighed. It sounded right, but at the same time it sounded impossible. "What do you have? What would be worth the price? Harry?"

"I don't know where Potter is." Draco bent down and lowered his voice. "But I do know who's holding Ginny." He nipped the curve of her ear and whispered to her, a name and location, a time a prisoner would be unguarded.

Hermione stared at him for a heartbeat, then dragged him into a ferocious kiss, bruising her mouth against his. "Thank you. Draco, thank you so much. This— We've been looking for her for months. I can't believe you finally got her location."

He exhaled roughly, something dark flickering across his eyes. "It was hard to get. I had to ... do a few things that weren't pleasant. But you wanted it. You needed that. You know how much I'll do for you." He lowered his voice. "For us."

"Anything," she said. "Except say one thing."

He looked at her for a long moment, then caught her chin, his fingers trembling against her jaw. Thumb pressing hard on her lips, he shook his head with his eyes squeezed closed. "We can't— No matter what we do, no matter what we feel, we can't—I can't."

Hermione's throat tightened up at the pain in his voice. He risked far more than she did, every time he went back to his master. He couldn't have that thought in his head, couldn't have that emotion in his mind. He couldn't hear, or even think, about love.

If he acknowledged it, if he let himself feel it, he might not be able to suppress it. Falling in love with her was a death sentence for him.

"We can't," she said quietly. "But I do."

"I wish," he said, so soft she barely heard him. He opened his eyes and looked down at her. "I wish I could, Hermione."

Her name, so rare in his mouth, cut her more than his knife. They both had roles to play, tasks to perform. And they both hated what they had to do to keep those roles real. She met his eyes and she let him have the lie he needed to survive. "Don't say it. Don't even think it. I know. I always know, when it's you."

Draco was silent for a long moment, then he bent down and pressed a soft kiss to the top of her head. One finger grazed the initials he'd left behind her ear as his voice came out rough and hollow. "I'll contact you when I can come in again, sweetheart. It may be a while, but I'll come back to you."

Hermione looked away from him, not moving until the soft crack of his Apparition faded. A breath, another, a swallow around a tightness in her throat, then she climbed to her feet. She healed the bruises he'd left on her, wiped the smell of sweat and sex from her body, and got dressed.

Outside in the moonlight, she flicked her wand. Flames roared to life, consuming the tiny cottage, destroying the evidence of their scant hours together.

She watched it burn and felt behind her ear, caressing his initials in her skin. Magically healed injuries left no trace, but that cut she would let heal naturally. She would let it scar, his mark on her forever.

Lifting her head, she turned away from the cottage to return to the Order.

She had a war to win.