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The Fires of Samhain

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Everything belongs to JKR and associates, I just play in her playground. No infringement was intended nor was any money made from this fic xoxo

 

 

Prologue

He liked to watch his wife when she thought no one was looking. He enjoyed the subtle emotions that played across her face when she saw him. She was always so careful; no one thought it odd that she chose that particular wizard to defend on a near constant basis. No one questioned how often she’d disappear for hours on end during the harvest, often returning with runes etched to intimate parts of her body and crackling magic. No one but he suspected anything was amiss. He had long since accepted the inevitable that his wife found love with another, that her side of the bed would be cold and untouched. But what hurt the most was her unwillingness to give him what her lover so clearly had in spades. What destroyed the wizard was that his reputation would be in tatters should his beloved wife’s indiscretions become public.

Every year it was the same, every Samhain was a familiar tale: between October 31st to November 2nd, his wife turned into a barely recognisable creature of passion and fire. Her cheeks would flush, her clothing would shrink scandalously, and her joy for life would become intoxicating. If only she held that kind of enthusiasm for their vows, for their sacred oath to be one until death.

 He should be content that she was his for 362 days of the year, that her presence slowly came back to him, although her sorrow only grew with each minute she was separated from her lover.

But he would never give her up. Even if his own affairs came to light—which was an inevitable occurrence, given that he no longer cared for deception or who he bedded—his wife would never be released. Her heart may not be his, but her body and soul would never be given to a Malfoy.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

October 31st, 2001

Hermione shifted uncomfortably between Harry and Molly as the last of the harvest carriages rolled through the Ottery St. Catchpole celebration, signalling the beginning of the Samhain festival. They would gorge themselves on delectable treats, bless the Gods and Goddesses for three disturbingly entertaining days, then go about their business for another mind-numbingly boring year until it all began again.

This was not Hermione’s first Samhain and if the Weasleys had their way, most certainly not the last. But the tradition was lost here in St. Catchpole. The local Wizarding folk used the festival as an excuse to get drunk, smoke copious amounts of illicit substances, and shag anything with female attributes but not necessarily the parts. For Hermione, the festival was different; she preferred the ancient blessings, the gifts for those long since departed, and the dance of life around the bonfires.

She sighed and allowed herself to be dragged down the cobblestones to the local pub where several fires burned brightly, witches danced half-naked, their skin painted with the runes of the gods, and wizards kneeled on the dew soaked grass, offering thanks to their deceased family members and giving praise for the harvest. And she was given a pint, a bag of crisps and told to ‘Get comfy, love! We’re pulling an all-nighter!’ She didn’t want to pull an all-nighter, she didn’t want to get pissed and stumble home to be accosted in her husband’s childhood single bed, and most of all, she didn’t want to be in this dingy little pub, surrounded by uneducated nincompoops whose idea of fun was shooting darts at Severus Snape’s picture and reminiscing about Hogwarts.

She wanted to be dancing naked around the bonfire, she wanted to be pushed against the wall and devoured by a blessed wizard. She wanted to be devoured by her blessed wizard.

With a sigh, she sipped at her beer, grimacing at the horrible taste but too weary to ask for wine or even mead, which would taste infinitely better than the swill she was currently being forced to enjoy.

‘Want to go for a walk, love?’

She shuddered and knew by the gleam in Ron’s eyes that he mistook it for lust and not complete and utter revulsion on her part. ‘No.’

‘What’s the matter? Want more crisps?’

‘No.’ She gave him a strange look before taking another sip of her beer. ‘I think I might...’

‘Go for a walk alone, yeah?’ Ron gave her a boyish smile, one that used to melt her heart, yet now it was tinged with sadness and the awareness of infidelity—and not just on her part.

Oh yes, Hermione Granger might be cunning and resourceful at hiding her own indiscretions, but her husband was not. She knew from the minute they’d wed that he would be out pulling the first awe-struck witch that crossed his path; the fact that he’d been caught numerous times and couldn’t remember was hardly the point, but it did help alleviate some of the guilt she felt. There wasn’t a single shred of love left for her husband. Not only did he refuse to work for a living, despite being given dozens of lucrative and satisfying job offers, he’d chosen to ride on Harry’s coat tails and glorified every aspect of their hellish childhood to whichever magazine or newspaper that would print it. After so many years, his imagination and embellishments had distorted the truth so badly that their actual lives read like a poorly constructed and over-indulgent fairy tale, complete with the happily ever after.

Hermione smiled gently and gave Ron’s hand a squeeze. ‘I won’t be long. I wouldn’t mind receiving a blessing this year.’

‘Again, Hermione?’ Ginny raised two perfectly plucked red brows in her direction. ‘Why must you be blessed every year?’

‘Tradition,’ Hermione replied and raised the sleeve of her robes where several runes were tattooed across her forearm. ‘Plus, it syncs my magic.’

‘What a ridiculous—’

‘Ginny,’ Harry said warningly and gave Hermione a big grin. ‘Go on, have fun; if you get caught up in the blessings, meet us back home.’

Harry always understood her need to escape the Weasleys, having married the most manipulative of them all. She’d often catch him hiding out in his garden, caring for his roses and tending the vegetables. He claimed it soothed him, and Merlin knows he needed soothing when the second half of the Weasley fame-whoring team was desperate to get as much publicity as possible.

She slipped between the rambunctious revellers and into the night, inhaling the spiced, smoky air as the bonfires roared towards the sky. Her magic tingled with satisfaction, urging her closer to the fire, to the joyful witches now painting each other’s skin.

Her eyes fluttered closed as large warm hands tugged on her robes, pulling them from her upper body and throwing them to the ground without care.

‘I bless thee,’ came the voice spoken softly into her ear. ‘I bless thee for the coming winter, and I anoint thee with the balm of protection. I bless your harvest with longevity and vitality...’

Hermione whimpered as his hand splayed across her stomach with the cool liquid of the anointing balm, drawing runes in a most languid, satisfying way. ‘Algiz,’ he muttered and drew the rune around her belly button. ‘Our bonfire awaits.’

His fingers twined through hers and he led the witch gently and carefully through the crowds of harvest worshippers and into the forest where smaller, more intimate celebrations dotted the copses of trees.

‘You're early.’

‘Are you cross?’ He sounded amused and brought their joined hands to his lips, caressing each knuckle with a tender, soft kiss.

‘No,’ Hermione replied carefully. ‘I just wasn’t expecting you.’

‘Ahh, disappointed you couldn’t lose a few brain cells amongst the paupers?’

‘Something like that,’ she whispered and gasped when he spun her quickly into his arms and walked them backwards until her bare back scraped against the splintering bark of the large oak tree.

‘Something like that?’ he repeated and lowered his head, brushing quick open-mouth kisses to her lips. ‘It’s been a year since I’ve had you, Granger,’ he drawled softly in her ear. ‘A year since I’ve tasted your lips, a year since I’ve felt them on my cock and a year...’ He paused and shrugged off his shirt, revealing a toned, pale chest covered in a smattering of white blond hair and colourful painted runes. ‘A year since I’ve been inside you. Forgive me for not wishing to wait a minute longer.’

‘Celebrations went well, then?’ Her eyes drifted to his chest and she absently traced the three newest additions to his inked skin.

‘The wards are stronger than ever. Father was pleased.’

Smiling, she leaned forward and licked the rune between his nipples, laughing softly when he whimpered and tangled his fingers in her hair. ‘Delicious, as always.’

‘Minx,’ he muttered, then whispered a spell to remove the remainder of their clothes. ‘Three days, Granger.’

‘Three days, Draco. We’ll make the most of the time we have; we always do.’

His grey eyes were unreadable as they stepped towards the fire and kneeled, heads bowed, to the silver tray of food, an offering to their fallen ancestors. Their hands remained clasped as the ancient rites were murmured from their lips and a sense of peace washed over their souls. ‘I hate him,’ Draco whispered and levitated the tray to the edge of their protective circle for the veil to consume. ‘I want to boil the blood in his veins for touching what is mine.’

‘And you think I like seeing Greengrass with her paws all over you?’ Hermione asked quietly and turned to face him, her knees protesting as they scraped across rocks on the forest floor.

‘Three days,’ he muttered again, reaching out to cup her cheek, his thumb grazing across her bottom lip. ‘One day you’ll be mine.’

Her answering smile chipped away at the ice surrounding his heart. ‘Of course, we can only hope.’

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Samhain November 1st 2002

The blending of the broom...

Ginny scowled as she sat amongst the elderly witches, twining birch branches with a weaving charm. Hermione sat across from her, happily chatting to some old biddy Ginny vaguely recognised from the previous year’s festivities. She would rather be anywhere but here— Merlin, even the bookstore would be more enjoyable—but her mother had insisted that celebrating the harvest was important in order to ensure that next year, the soil would be imbued with prosperity.

Pointless, the whole blasted festival; any fool knew that the weather was not controlled by worshipping, but by Muggles with their fellyvisions and pointing sticks. She felt smug about this, having glimpsed a rather odd looking man over Christmas the previous year talking about how he predicted rain and a light smattering of snow. She had been rather sceptical at first until it had rained and snowed, thus rendering this ridiculous festival a farce, once and for all. Her eyes lifted slowly from the broom she was currently weaving to Hermione who was dusting off her robes and making her excuses to leave.

She probably had a date with a book. Ginny snorted, drawing a disapproving glare from Augusta Longbottom. Hermione was a Weasley now, thus obligated for the more mundane tasks her mother set out, but she always managed to slip away unnoticed for hours at a time during Samhain and returned looking as though she was the cat that got the cream. She was probably off shagging her brother. Ginny grimaced at the thought and followed the witch as she hurried down the cobblestones and disappeared into the often overlooked inn.

Well, isn’t that interesting. Ginny smirked. It would appear that the Muggleborn witch wasn’t all books and cleverness after all.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

He stretched and yawned, pushing the long slender arm from around his waist and rolling to the side of the bed. Another awe-struck witch. He sneered down at her, hair messy and tangled, their combined release dried on her plump thighs...Hermione would never bask in the afterglow of their love-making; she was always so quick to bathe away the smell of him.

Hermione.

His wife.

The witch who he hadn't touched in years, so cold and unresponsive now to his needs. 

So lovely the day of their vows; how he’d celebrated that she was finally his. A witch to call his own, one that no one else had touched.

Merlin, what a fool he’d been. Ron could see it now: it was reflected in her eyes when she thought of Malfoy. And when he had the displeasure of running into the platinum prat in Diagon or at the Ministry, he wanted to Avada the smug, superior grin off the tosspot’s face. Draco Malfoy had seduced his wife, his pretty, intelligent yet naive wife, and had stolen her heart right from underneath his nose.

How he loathed Draco Malfoy.

It was merely a coincidence that his delicately prepared revenge would strike at the heart of Malfoy and bring disgrace upon his family.

Grinning with delight, Ron peered at the witch from over his shoulder, imagining the long blonde hair elegantly arranged and her robes pristine before he’d ravaged her.

Astoria Greengrass-Malfoy was certainly a lovely creature and extremely pliant to his debasing suggestions on what she should be doing with her mouth. And Ron had enjoyed every last second of making the wife of the most noble Malfoy writhe in pleasure and scream his name. And for once in his life, Hermione hadn’t warranted a single thought. That was a life he could get used to.

More importantly, his revenge would be sweet and Draco Malfoy would pay—with the dignity of his wife.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

‘You’re late,’ he snapped as she snuck inside the small room that held only a bed and a table.

‘I was weaving brooms, with your mother,’ she snapped back and threw her cloak to the floor, furiously yanking open the buttons of her shirt.

‘Ahh yes, the delightful art of broom-making. Did you ride yours?’

‘Ha ha,’ Hermione growled and ran her fingernails down his naked back. ‘You’re cross because I’m late or because you had to stay herealone?’

‘A little of both,’ Draco admitted and turned to smirk down at her. ‘I should be used to all this dirt by now, what with sullying my noble body with a—’

She crushed her lips to his, silencing his words by shoving her tongue into his mouth. ‘Child.’

‘Mudblood,’ he snarled and yanked her mouth back to his by cupping the back of her head. ‘I need to fuck you.’

‘I need you to fuck me,’ she replied and tore at his pants, pushing them down over his erection and urging him towards the bed. ‘It’s been a year.’

‘Hmm, I regret we weren’t able to be blessed this harvest.’

Hermione grinned, her small hands roaming his chest and pinching at his nipples. ‘Our ink is a permanent reminder of how...’

‘Spiritual we can be?’

She flushed. ‘I only feel connected with my magic around you.’

‘You’ve completed the rites with a noble, pure line; our magic yearns for each other.’

‘So do other things.’ She gave him a cheeky grin as her eyes drifted down to his cock, proudly erect and pointing directly at her.

‘Granger,’ he murmured and laid her gently on the bed, nuzzling her throat before licking along her jaw. ‘She’ll never be you.’

‘And he’ll never come close to being you.’ She reached between them, stroking his cock and pulling him closer. ‘I’ve missed you so much.’

‘It doesn’t have to be this way,’ Draco said and thrust inside her body, groaning, as she enveloped him and seized his heart like a vice.

Hermione moaned, dragging her fingernails down his back to cup his arse. ‘Sure it does. We agreed.’

‘Maybe I wish to change the terms of our agreement.’ He grunted and gripped her hips, entering her with an almost brutal passion. She would have bruises tomorrow but hardly cared. Marks left by Draco were marks she savoured.

‘Wh-what do you mean?’ Her eyes fluttered closed as his warm tongue swirled around her nipple, his cock, pulsing inside her, warm, hard and so intimately familiar.

‘I need you Granger,’ he whispered and rolled them over, pulling the witch up onto his body. ‘Fuck me, witch.’

‘Oh gods.’ She whimpered and rose up onto her knees, plunging down on his cock with such force that he whined, his back arching, thighs trembling in an effort to stave off his release. ‘Draco...’

‘Granger, you have to leave him.’ Elegant, manicured nails dug into her hips as he pulled her down in time with his rapid thrusts into her. ‘Leave him!’

‘I cannot!’ she cried out, her head lolling against her back as those delightfully sinful fingers stroked her clit. It took the simplest touch to send her careening over the edge into bliss and her heart burst, desperate to savour every stolen moment with her wizard.

‘Has he given you crabs yet?’ Draco snarled into her ear as he continued to move inside her, his arse clenching, and he hissed as her short nails dug painfully into his chest. ‘Can you even see his tiny cock under that fat gut of his?’

‘Shut up!’ Hermione snapped and tried to roll off him, but Draco held onto her tighter, angrily thrusting into her body, his lips bruising hers as he crashed them together and brutally forced his tongue into her mouth.

‘I shan’t,’ he said softly and caressed the runes adorning her unblemished chest. ‘Sowilo.’ His tongue licked along the dark green rune. ‘Brings you honour and protection. Jera—for a fruitful harvest. Kenaz—for the fire of your life.’ His touch burned as he traced the rune with his finger, following the path with his wicked tongue. ‘And our first...’

Her eyes were drawn to Draco’s neck where a small, almost unidentifiable rune blazed across his skin with her touch.

‘Wunjo—glory.’ He growled as her short nails scraped across the rune. ‘Ecstasy.’

She whimpered as he, in turn nipped roughly at the small rune etched into the underside of her breast.

‘Comfort. You are mine, Granger.’

‘I comfort you?’ She snorted and gave him a half-hearted push but he stayed wrapped securely in her body, unwillingly to leave her embrace or the joy he found in her arms. ‘I let you fuck me, Draco. If that’s a comfort—’

Her words were muffled as he roughly kissed her, licking along the seam of her lips, demanding entrance into her mouth. She hummed in delight when his fingers twisted her nipple and met his tongue in a passionate yet languid kiss that stole the very air from her lungs.

‘Don’t fool yourself into believing this is merely a shag, Granger. You and I both know the demands of Samhain and what the rites represent.’ He released her and sat on the edge of the bed, long white blond locks falling across his face, shadowing their combined pain.

‘I never thought that, Draco,’ she said quietly, running her hands down his back and then embracing him, pressing her cheek to his damp skin. ‘You comfort me as well.’ Idly, she traced the runes that dotted his back, not nearly as many on his chest and arms, but enough to know he asked for countless blessings over the years. Draco had never bothered to hide his pain from her; he would receive no judgement or scorn, just love and compassion. ‘I never thought our lives would be like this, did you?’

Draco chuckled darkly.   ‘My dear Granger, had you asked me ten years ago if I’d be sitting in this—’ He paused, pale grey eyes observing his surroundings with a prominent sneer. ‘Hovel, having just fucked Hermione Granger, I would have hexed you six ways to Sunday.’

Hermione smiled against his back, placing tender kisses to the scars gained during Voldemort’s reign. ‘And, if you had warned me that I’d be knee deep in Pureblood propaganda, I’d have turned your hair red and gold, just for a laugh.’

‘Thought you’d have popped out at least five Weasel babies by now, Granger. You’re letting the blood traitor’s dreams go to waste.’

‘Draco,’ she whispered, warning evident in her tone, ‘he’s still my husband.’

‘And you’re still mine!’ Draco hissed and turned, quickly pushing her back down onto the bed. ‘When will you leave that sad pathetic excuse for a wizard and take your rightful place next to me?’

‘A Mudblood in Malfoy Manor?’ Hermione scoffed. ‘I’m sure Lord Malfoy would be pleased by that.’

‘They know about you, Granger.’

She lay there stunned, staring up at the angry wizard who straddled her thighs. ‘What do you mean?’

‘They know about you—about us—about the rites. My unwillingness to prefer them with Astoria—Father is not stupid. He doesn’t need Legilimency to know my heart is not in my marriage.’

‘Why are the rites so important to you?’

‘The rites of Samhain, Granger,’ he drawled slowly, rolling to Hermione’s side and pulling her up against him. She felt her face flush as he gently played with her nipples, his eyes darkening with lust when her knee caressed his burgeoning erection. ‘For centuries, blood magic has kept the Manor safe from intruders, protected those of our blood and kin, and blessed our lives. Every year during Samhain, we conduct the rites on Malfoy land, spilling the blood of our kin to fortify the wards and protect our family. Once I married, it was expected that our vows would be in blood, our union consummated in the circle of my ancestor’s coven as hundreds of Malfoy before me have done.’

‘But you didn’t?’ Hermione whimpered as Draco trapped her knee between his thighs and pinched her peaked nipple.

‘Use that overly large brain of yours, Granger. Would I be here— now— taking pleasure in you, had I taken a blood oath to my wife?’

‘Shut up, Malfoy,’ she snapped and reached between them to squeeze his erection. He winced and she smirked. It was an odd sort of union between the heroine and the former Death Eater.

 

 One drunken tryst many years ago during the final hours of Samhain had propelled them into a life of secrets, dark magic, lust, and a bond that neither was prepared for, yet were unwilling to reject. At first, both had fought their mutual attraction: harsh words were spoken; hexes were cast; and long-held prejudices were maintained firmly in place, until the magic of Samhain had called upon them once more to the second festival after the fall of Voldemort. All the survivors had congregated in Diagon Alley to pay respect to the fallen and to light the night sky with the combined magicks of their most powerful witches and wizards. They’d wanted prosperity and a healthy harvest; after the soils had run with blood, the innate earth magic had faltered and waned.

 

Lost in a sea of happiness and bright futures, Hermione had choked on their joy and had found herself drawn to a strange blue door with its peeling paint and numbers askew. The Stirring Rod had been her salvation. Calling it a pub was a slight exaggeration; it was more suited to the title of hole-in-the-wall-with-chairs-and-beer. But she hadn’t minded the quiet and had been left by herself until he had arrived and all sense of peace and tranquillity she’d managed to scrounge for herself had been shattered. At first, she’d tried to rationalise the sex: they had both been drunk, and thus it had meant nothing. She had felt nothing and had been sure that seeing him again would not have provoked any emotion other than hatred.

She had thought wrong.

Draco Malfoy had wormed his way into her heart and soul that night; drunk and full of arrogance and anger, she had allowed him liberties that no other wizard had enjoyed. He’d touched her in places she’d thought held no feeling. She had cried as he’d held her and in turn, she had stroked his beautiful hair until he’d fallen asleep, exhausted, sated and comforted by the sound of her heart rapidly beating against his cheek. And although she’d tried to fight her feelings, believing her heart as belonging to Ronald, the next Samhain had found them standing across a bonfire from each other as the harvest festival began. And she had known then that all was lost. Hermione was Draco’s and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

However, the fates were always destined to be fickle when love was involved, and they had other plans for the witch and her wizard.

‘Mother guessed,’ Draco murmured directly into her ear, sending a thrill of delight shuddering down her spine and yanking the witch from her musing. ‘She saw us together at the Ministry and the way you looked at me.’

‘And how do I look at you, Draco?’ She nuzzled his cheek.

‘Like a witch in love.’ He sounded smug and she laughed, kissing his cheek before moving slowly to his lips.

‘I would imagine she saw the same look in your eyes?’

‘Imagine all you like,’ he replied and bit her lower lip just as she started to suck it between her teeth. ‘She knows, Granger, and doesn’t judge me or you. In fact, if she had her way—’

‘What?’ Hermione pulled her knee free of his thighs and slung her leg over his hip. ‘She’d welcome me to the Manor with open arms?’

‘She would do anything for my happiness.’

‘And I make you happy?’

‘The second you divorce the pauper, Granger, I’m going to claim you.’

‘And if I never divorce him?’

His smug smirk was all the answer she needed as he rolled on top of her body and kissed her soundly. ‘You have the patience of a saint, Granger, but even you have limits, and I’ll be there when Weasley pushes you off the edge.’

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Samhain November 2nd 2003

‘Are you sure about this?’ Her fingers entwined with his and he sighed, leaning heavily against her smaller body.

‘No, but I have to.’

‘No one is going to be happy.’

‘I don’t care about anyone else,’ he whispered and buried his face into her neck. She could feel the wetness on her skin as he cried softly against her.

‘I’ll stand by you always.’

Harry pulled back and smiled a genuinely happy, carefree smile. One she hadn’t seen—well, ever, really. ‘Ron will make you take sides.’

‘I can handle Ron.’ Hermione’s lips thinned to a harsh line and her eyes gleamed dangerously.

‘Hermione, I...’

‘Stop, Harry,’ she murmured and held him tightly. ‘I only want you to be happy.’

‘I want the same for you.’ Harry kissed her cheek. ‘When will you admit that it was a mistake?’

‘What?’

‘Your marriage to Ron.’

‘Harry, don’t start.’

‘Why?’ he asked and grasped her hands tightly. ‘Are you going to waste away forever letting him make a fool of you?’

‘You think I’m a fool,’ Hermione said flatly and slumped down heavily on the worn settee.

‘No!’ Harry said softly and surrounded the witch in his embrace. ‘I think he treats you as a fool and you let him. When will you realise what an arse he is?’

‘Ron’s your best friend, Harry.’ Tears sprang to her eyes and she yearned so desperately for Draco that her heart hurt. She wanted nothing more than for his arms to be around her, his lips touching her neck, his fingers delving inside her body, that wicked tongue berating and soothing...

‘You’re my best friend Hermione. Ron is—was—my brother-in-law. It’s been a very long time since I’ve called him friend. And if I look back, it’s been even longer since he was there for either of us.’

‘And what do you expect me to do?’

‘Admit you made a mistake.’

‘Marrying Ron?’

‘Not marrying Malfoy,’ Harry said quietly and kissed her temple.

‘Wh-What did you say?’

She pulled back, her hands shaking as Harry looked down at her sadly. ‘Three years ago when everyone was in their cups, I snuck away into the village and received a blessing.’ He tugged down the collar of his shirt and Hermione’s eyes widened in shock. ‘As I’m sure you know’—Harry smirked—’Kenaz blessed me.’

‘Ginny wasn’t the witch.’

‘Of course not, she thinks Samhain is just another excuse to head to Diagon for a sale. I didn’t know her the first year; she was just a nameless, faceless witch who shared a bonfire with me and allowed me into a ritual I hadn’t known existed until that night. It was then I realised just how powerful the magicks of All Hallows Eve. I was re-energised, I’d never felt so alive—when she painted my skin and chanted to the otherworld to heal my soul...’

‘Oh, Harry...’ Hermione wrapped her arms tightly around his waist and buried her face to his chest. ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’

‘That the Weasleys suffocated me with their magic?’ Harry snorted. ‘That’d be a good idea. I was terrified you’d go running to Ron, telling him I’d been unfaithful.’

‘How could you think so little of me?’ Hermione asked softly. ‘Not when I...’

‘Have been blessed every year?’ A rumbling laughter vibrated against her cheek and she felt her face warm. ‘I truly didn’t understand, Hermione, how you could leave the family and go off on your own, until I saw you.’

She swallowed thickly. ‘You saw me?’

‘Hmm, yes. It was enlightening.’

‘How so?’ She peered up at him as he pushed his glasses up his nose.

‘You were dancing by the public bonfire, and you didn’t have a t-top on.’ Harry flushed brightly and averted his gaze as she laughed. ‘I was embarrassed, all right?’

‘You saw my boobs?’ She laughed harder, pushing away from the wizard to settle against the arm of the settee.

‘Amongst other things,’ Harry muttered. ‘Look, what’s important is that I recognised your need to escape and I finally realised we aren’t so different, you and I. Victims of obligation and open hearts.’

‘Severus would call that ridiculous, foolish sentimentality.’

Harry grinned. ‘He’d also take fifty points and assign us detention for our impertinent ramblings.’

Hermione laughed, then sobered quickly as the roaring fire glinted off her plain gold wedding band. ‘I admire your bravery, Harry. You are far more courageous than I am.’

‘What is keeping you there?’

‘Loyalty, honour. My vows? Shall I continue?’

‘Yes, please do,’ Harry implored. ‘I know you don’t love him, I know you aren’t faithful, so why carry on with a sham marriage?’

Hermione remained silent as tears slipped down her cheeks.

‘Tell me why you won’t leave him. Tell me why you can’t be happy?’

‘Because I’m afraid!’ She shouted and roughly pushed his hand from her knee. ‘I’m bloody well afraid, Harry! Gods be damned, Ron is comfortable, I know him, I know he’s out shagging everything that moves, I know he doesn’t love me, need or respect me, but Merlin help me, I’m so very afraid.’

‘Malfoy loves you,’ Harry stated and looked as if he’d swallowed a rotten fish with the disgusted grimace that adorned his face.

‘How did you find out?’ Hermione asked softly, not daring to meet his gaze.

‘I told you I’d followed you to the bonfire and I was about to join the festivities when the witch appeared and dragged me into the shadows. She whispered at me to just watch you, so I did. At first, I was ashamed at ogling your boobs but then it was as if the world spun in the opposite direction: you changed, your clothes fell away, your entire body was bared to me but it wasn’t vulgar or erotic—just beautiful.’

‘That’s very sweet of you to say, Harry.’

‘It’s not sweet of me to say! I was bloody well turned on by all that shaking your arse was doing. I was so embarrassed! I couldn’t look you in the eye for weeks!’

She snickered. ‘I remember that.’

‘Do you also remember what happened after the blessings?’

Hermione’s face grew hotter. She remembered; how could she ever forget? Draco dragging her into the woods and shagging her most violently against the first available tree he could find.

‘I thought he was hurting you, but she said, look at their love; watch them. And I did. Gods! I watched as his costume fell to the ground, and as soon as I saw that blond hair, I knew. You love Malfoy.’

‘I do love him.’

‘And he loves you.’

‘I suppose he does.’

‘No, he does, Hermione. I watch him now more than ever; he is so careful in public to maintain his pikey reputation, but I see the way he looks at you, like a desperate hunger. He needs you.’

Hermione sighed. ‘He wants me to leave Ron.’

‘And what are you going to do about it?’

‘The festival ends tonight. There’s a party—’

Harry grinned and held up a thick cream enveloped embossed with gold leaf and platinum braid, declaring that Sir Harry Potter was cordially invited to Malfoy Manor to celebrate the closing of the veil with the feast of Samhain. She recognised it instantly because a similar invitation had arrived at her home earlier that day. Ron had snatched it up and had replied in the affirmative before she’d even been allowed to read the contents.

‘Make a decision, love. You won’t regret it.’

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hermione’s body was rigid with tension as she traversed the glittery lantern-lit path that led to beautifully manicured gardens of Malfoy Manor. Her hand was clutched tightly against Ron’s forearm and he didn’t seem to notice, or care that she was in a great deal of pain, not only from his firm grip—as if she’d try to escape—but also from the despair she felt in every blade of grass, every branch and every tree. Even the flowers seemed to wilt in their wake as if they felt her misery. The very magic in the Malfoy estate felt as though it was waning and crying out for help, and she couldn’t stop the niggling feeling that suggested Draco’s unwillingness to bond with his wife was to blame.

She didn’t really want to be there on the arm of her devoted husband. This was all about appearances for him, another headline and another meagre rise in his fame. He never once thought of her or her discomfort in being back here after so many years, to see that horrid drawing room, to remember the pain that seeped through her pores with the Cruciatus curse and the scars that ran too deeply to heal.

‘You’re not to go near Potter tonight.’

‘Potter?’ Hermione scoffed. ‘This isn’t second year Hogwarts, Ron, and Harry has been your best friend for over a decade.’

‘He divorced my sister!’

‘Yes, he did,’ she replied calmly. ‘And he had every right to do so.’

‘I knew there was something shifty about those Muggle vows.’

Hermione’s heart stopped. ‘What do you mean?’

Ron snorted. ‘Really, Hermione, it just makes it easier for Half-bloods and Muggleborns to leave their marriages without punishment. If they’d bound by blood, Harry could have only left Gin if he died.’

‘That’s barbaric.’

He shrugged. ‘It’s tradition. But I mean it, Hermione, stay away from him tonight.’

‘You would presume to tell me what to do?’ she snapped and attempted to yank her arm away only to find her fingers crushed painfully within his.

‘You are my wife,’ Ron hissed. ‘Potter deserted my sister for a whore and I’ll not have you associating with him and bringing our name down. Gods, could you imagine the headlines if the press saw you with him?’

‘Are you serious?’ Hermione jabbed him in the ribs with her free hand and broke free of his tight hold. ‘Harry is my friend, my dearest friend, and I shan’t be denied my right to speak with him just because you’re afraid that Skeeter might write something bad about you.’

‘I’m warning you, Hermione.’ His upper lip curled and he wrapped his hand in her hair, yanking the witch toward him as he loomed over her menacingly. ‘If you know what’s good for you, you’ll do as I say.’

‘Are you threatening me?’ Hermione asked and winced as he squeezed her head hard.

‘I do believe I am. You are my wife and I am the master in our relationship. It’s about time you recognised the rights I have over you. Let me tell you, Hermione, after tonight, the state of our marriage will change: for starters, I want a baby.’

She gaped at him, her heart beating wildly, her head aching with pain.

‘Problems?’ drawled a soft yet dangerous voice behind her husband.

‘Nothing to concern yourself with, Malfoy,’ Ron spat out angrily and shoved Hermione away, barely sparing her one final glare before he stalked to the bar.

 ‘Mrs. Weasley, your distress was brought to my attention by a very eager to please house-elf. May I assist you to the bathroom?’

Hermione blinked slowly as the elder Malfoy held out his arm and looked down at her expectantly. ‘Thank you, Lord Malfoy.’

His brow quirked at her use of his wildly disputed Muggle title. ‘My dear, think nothing of it. I was simply ensuring such a ravishing witch did not look a fright when the other guests arrived.’ He patted her hand gently. ‘Your husband has an uncanny knack of unravelling even the most carefully constructed plan. My son will be disappointed he was not here to receive you, but it would appear your husband released some intimate pictures of you to the press and Draco is less than pleased.’

‘Intimate pictures?’ Hermione’s blood ran cold. ‘What kind of intimate pictures?’

‘Perhaps it is best to see for yourself, hmmm?’ Lucius asked and bowed over her hand before wandlessly opening the door beside them. ‘You may freshen up inside, my dear, but make haste. I would hate for your bumbling husband to enlist a search party.’

Hermione stepped into the darkened room, moving quickly towards the only door and source of light, a tiny flickering warm glow that emanated from the candles. She moved to the sink, splashing water on her face then cupping her hands to drink greedily from the tap.

She was mortified that Ron had caused a scene almost instantly as they’d arrived, angry that he had dared to tell her she wasn’t permitted to speak to Harry as if she were some kind of paid slave, and foolish for having stayed in such a miserable marriage for so long. Her hands shook as she carefully charmed her hair back into obedience, and her mind drifted to what Lucius had said: Ronald had apparently published intimate photos of her, but that was impossible as she hadn’t slept with her husband in years.

With a deep sigh she left the bathroom, her heeled feet sinking into the luxurious thick pelt of the carpet. It was darker than before, the sun completely gone now and the stars twinkling madly from the deep purple sky. Her hands rested on the large floor to ceiling window, her forehead following thereafter as the cool glass soothed her heated skin. She needed to see Draco, if only for a moment, to know that he still loved her, to know that nothing could come between them, but his wife would be there tonight. His wife fawned over him when in reality, she’d simply been contracted to the right family, and there wasn’t a shred of love between the pair.

A gasp had the witch whirling around, her hand gripping her chest in fright as a lit wand tip emerged from the shadowed room. A bare arm followed, and she could see the gleaming dark mark still proudly inked upon his skin, the lithe chest that followed with its smattering of golden blond hairs and then his face, that beautiful face with cupid bow lips that could destroy lives and whisper words of love and desire. ‘Draco?’

‘Fuck, Granger, what are you doing in here?’

He whispered, ‘Incendio’ and the fireplaces roared to life, drenching the room in a bright orange glow. It was then she realised the room Lucius Malfoy had led her to was not a simple dressing room with bath attached but a bedroom, a rather lavishly decorated room with a large four poster bed and several pieces of antique furniture.

‘I was using the bathroom,’ she replied.

His eyes widened slightly then darted to the open door of the bathroom and back to the witch. ‘Granger, this is my bedroom.’

‘Oh?’ She felt slightly faint at the look he was sending her way, one mixed with desperate hunger and need. ‘Your father—’

‘What does my father have to do with this?’ he asked sharply and in less than five long strides was in front of her, his fingers gliding up her bare arms, hands cupping her cheeks as he leaned down to drink from her lips.

‘I had a row with Ronald. Your father brought me here to calm down and freshen up.’

Weasley!’ Draco snarled. ‘That little fuck is going to get my wand up his arse, Granger.’

‘Your father said he had pictures of me published. Is that why you’re so upset?’

Rage gleamed in Draco’s eyes as he kissed her hard on the mouth and tugged down the delicate straps of her dress, baring her breasts to his hungry gaze. ‘Playwizard.’

Hermione stiffened as he leaned down slightly and sucked her nipple into his mouth, scraping his teeth across the sensitive bud and sending a delicious shiver across her body. ‘What?!’

‘Don’t stress, love.’ He lightly kissed her lips as his thumb caressed her breast. ‘It was before you were marked.’ The slight flutter of fabric stroked her skin as her dress fell around her ankles, leaving the witch clad only in a sheer pair of black knickers and her inked runes. ‘Before I found you.’ He groaned deep in throat as her entire body was bared to him, his soft fingers tracing each rune with a practiced ease, his desire growing in strength with every touch, his heart bursting from his chest. His need to take his witch and spill her essence on the Manor’s soil was almost overwhelming. ‘I need you, Granger.’

Her chest rose and fell with rapid precision and she shakily reached out for him, her small hands finding the buttons of his trousers and pushing them down his legs. ‘Malfoy…’ She panted, then squealed in surprise as he threw her over his shoulder and strode towards the bed.

‘I’ve had you during the Samhain for almost a decade now. Tonight, it ends.’ Hurt filled the witch but he was quick to soothe away her fears. ‘Tonight, I will take you during our most sacred night. Tonight, we will bring forth the power of our ancestors and the sacrifices we have made to strengthen our union. Tonight, we will discard those that seek to destroy us.’

‘Our spouses?’ Hermione asked, a low desperate whine falling from her lips as Draco crawled up her naked heated body.

‘Astoria’s contract will be null and void tonight thanks to my father, and your Muggle contracts with Weasley are just as easily broken. We must bond under Samhain: we must spill our blood and our combined’—he licked his lips, blond hair falling into his eyes as he gripped his cock and ran the engorged head up her soaking folds—’release at the henge and then we will be together.’

‘You want me to divorce Ron and marry you in the same night?’ Hermione hissed through gritted teeth as Draco thrust inside her willing body.

‘Problems?’ Draco murmured against her lips.

‘My marriage is a joke and I won’t be apart from you another day,’ she whispered and plunged her tongue into his mouth, drawing the very air from his lungs.

‘Then you won’t be,’ Draco promised and held her tenderly. ‘You’ve always been mine, Granger, and I’m finally going to be rid of those Weasleys.’

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Within seconds of appearing in the constructed ballroom tent, Hermione was pulled roughly against Ron’s chest. ‘Where the fuck have you been? Mum’s been asking for ages; thought you’d run off.’

‘Get your hands off me.’ Hermione growled. ‘We’ve been through this before, Ronald. I might be willing to take a lot from you, but hurting me is not one of them!’

Instead of being chastised, Ron merely grinned at her nastily. ‘Where have you been, Hermione? I know it wasn’t with Potter; he’s with the whore, and I know it wasn’t consoling Ginny because she’s with Mum. So, where were you?’

‘None of your business, Ronald!’

‘You are my business, Hermione, and it’s about time you started acting like a proper wife!’ Ron loomed over her again and she felt a flicker of anger rush through her thoroughly sated body. ‘Malfoy wasn’t here either; his delicious little wife was though, and so were Mummy and Daddy. Could it be that you were hiding away with the Ferret?’

Hermione’s heart leapt into her throat. Surely he didn’t know, not after all these years of carefully hiding her affair. But what did it matter, really? After tonight, she’d no longer be bound to her horrid husband and instead be in the secure embrace of her lover. ‘And what if I was?’ she demanded and smirked as surprise darted across her husband’s face. ‘What, Ronald, did you think I would hide it forever?’

‘So, it’s true then.’ His face that had once seemed so incredibly boyishly handsome to her many years ago twisted into fury, his ears burning red and his eyes darkened frighteningly. ‘You have been fucking Malfoy?’

‘Yes,’ she replied and didn’t feel even a spark of fear as she was surrounded by hundreds of people and had Draco’s watchful eyes on her at all times.

Ron’s eye twitched and she noticed for the first time in a very long time just how unhinged her husband appeared. His clothing—although the finest tailored robes—hung wrinkled and skewed on his body, his hair, which had always been so vibrant and red, lay limp against his scalp, and his skin was greasy and sallow. ‘The Prophet has already interviewed me for Monday’s edition: you’re going to be leaving your job and raising a family. Mum is really pleased, as you can imagine.’

‘Ronald, I’m not having your child.’ She tried to remain calm, truly she did, but Ron was sounding more and more like a madman.

‘I hope he gave it to you good and proper.’ Ron smirked, having not heard a word she said. ‘Because it’s the last time he’ll have you.’

‘Ron, what’s happened to you?’

His face spun to hers, fury dancing across his blue eyes. ‘What’s happened to me?’ He snarled and backed her against the hard metal supports of the tent. ‘You happened to me, you selfish bitch. I was happy until I married you; I had witches dying to be with me, Quidditch teams eager to promote me, jobs that even the Minister would envy, yet you ruined it all!’

‘What?’ she hissed. ‘I encouraged you to take those jobs, I let you go on a fame whoring trail of destruction leaving your family, your friendships, and me in the wake and yet you blame me for it?’

Ron opened his mouth to retort when a gentle cough sounded behind them. ‘Hello, you two!’ Neville grinned, bouncing on his heels. ‘Sorry to interrupt, but I knew this was Hermione’s favourite song and since you hate dancing Ron, I thought I’d ask your lovely wife.’

Sneering down at his one time friend, Ron pushed Hermione into his arms and stalked away with a furious ‘Take her, she’s all yours.’

‘Are you all right?’ Neville said softly and instead of leading the witch onto the dance floor, he held her hand gently and took her outside to where the stars glittered brightly and the moon shone beams of silvery light upon them.

‘I’m not sure to be honest. He’s been steadily turning into a right bastard but tonight he was so physical, he actually hurt me, Nevillle!’

‘Come on.’ The wizard urged her down the cobblestone path and away from the party. ‘I didn’t really want to dance; there’s someone who wants to see you.’

As they rounded the corner Hermione cried out and ran forward, launching herself into the arms of her oldest friend. ‘Harry, you’re here!’

‘I said I would be,’ he said gently and kissed the top of her head. ‘Nev said Ron’s been slobbering all over the serving witches all night. I asked him to rescue you so the Weasleys wouldn’t give you a hard time for being seen with me.’

She tilted her tear-stained face towards him and let out a desperate sob. ‘He knows about Draco, he knows everything. I’m leaving him, Harry. Tonight. I promise you.’

‘Did he hurt you?’ Harry said kindly and searched her face for any evidence of harm.

‘Just my wrist and he destroyed my hair, but it was easily fixed. I think the fame has finally turned him batty:, he actually believes he’s some kind of master and I’m just his lowly wife. I won’t allow him to turn me into a brood mare, nor will I betray Draco.’

‘What are you going to do?’ Harry asked.

‘Perform the Samhain rights with Draco at the Malfoy henge tonight. He seems to think that the rites will void the vows and that a wizarding bonding will supersede any Muggle contract.’

‘I’d have to agree with him there, Granger.’

Hermione whirled around, her eyes wide and wand in her hand at the ready. ‘Parkinson! What are you doing here?’

‘I invited her,’ Harry said softly and held out his right arm which bared the rune Eihwaz. ‘We were blessed again tonight.’

She watched the pair in shock as they embraced and kissed ever so sweetly, Harry’s mouth descending on the witch’s neck to where her identical rune shone brightly.

‘Pansy is the witch who blessed you?’

‘She is.’ Harry smiled and slung his arm around Pansy Parkinson’s neck. ‘I love her, Hermione. Can you accept this?’

Her gaze flicked to the witch who looked unsure and frightened, not at all like the smug confident and somewhat vain witch of her youth. ‘You blessed Harry?’

Pansy nodded. ‘I needed to atone for my part in the final battle. Everyone else had been far less enthused to see me. I counted on the Samhain bonfires to confuse old Potty here so I could get close enough.’

‘Potty?’ Hermione could barely say the word for it sounded all wrong on her tongue.

‘A nickname,’ Pansy explained.

‘Bellatrix Lestrange used to call Harry,Potty,’ Hermione said quietly and did not miss Pansy’s gasp.

‘Hermione, that’s enough,’ Harry ordered and released the witch to go to his oldest friend. ‘Please understand that I never intended to fall in love with Pansy or for her to open my eyes to magic that I only ever dreamed of. I won’t give her up.’

She smiled slightly at Harry’s loyalty before hugging him tightly. ‘I understand Pansy is Draco’s third cousin? Will she bring you to the henge tonight?’

Harry grinned. ‘You’re really going to do it?’

‘Yes, Harry, I’m really going to do it.’

Unbeknownst to the three hiding in the garden, a blonde witch, one scorned, unloved and about to lose her husband, scurried off to tell tales of the heroes.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

‘There you are.’ His voice drawled softly from the doorway and as she turned to him, her breath caught in her throat as the firelight flickered across his pale face. Merlin, he looked so handsome with his black trousers snugly fit against lithe toned legs, his hands hung loosely at his sides, and his shirtsleeves rolled up and baring his Dark Mark to her very interested gaze.

‘I’ve been waiting for you,’ Hermione murmured and stood slowly from the settee, her long black flowing gown shimmering against her skin like a thin layer of water. ‘Do you like my dress?’

‘You’ve changed?’

‘It’s a traditional dress for the Samhain blood-letting, isn’t it?’

 His eyes widened slightly and he nodded. ‘It is,’ Draco spoke slowly. ‘But why are you wearing it?’

‘You were right, Draco. I can’t do this anymore. Ronald stopped being my husband.’ She paused. ‘Well, I don’t know when really, but what I do know is that I love you, and being with you three days a year just isn’t enough anymore. I want everything.’

Draco licked his dry lips and took a small step towards her, his hands gliding across her silk covered hips, touching her reverently. ‘And the pauper?’

‘I wanted to see you first.’

‘Is that so?’ Draco whispered and pressed their bodies together, his large soft hands kneading her buttocks as she moulded herself to him. ‘I must say, Granger, I’m flattered that I rank higher than Weasley.’

‘Always,’ she whispered back, and then she kissed him, and it was unlike any kiss they’d shared before. Desperate love coursed through their lips, anxiousness and fear melted away, joy spread and arousal spiked. They would finally be together and she couldn’t wait. ‘I’m going to tell Ron that I won’t be going home with him.’ She caressed his pale cheeks, lingering over his plump wet lips. ‘He already knows about us, so it shouldn’t be too much of a shock.’

‘We have an hour before the rites begin. Mother will wish to cleanse your body. I will escort you back to the party.’

Hermione’s smile radiated contentment as she stood on her toes and kissed him languidly. ‘I love you, Draco.’

The wizard smirked and squeezed her bum. ‘Granger, my delightful little—’

‘What the fuck is going on here?’ The door flew off its hinges as Ron stormed in, his face red and eyes bloodshot from too many whiskeys. There was no explanation needed for the scene he stumbled across: Draco’s hand cupped her breast, her lips lingered near his, her hair was thoroughly out of place, and their magic so uniquely tuned to each other that it radiated from every pore in their skin.

‘What does it look like, Weasley?’ Draco spat and withdrew his wand. ‘Did you really think you’d leave here with your pathetic marriage intact?’

‘I’m going to kill you, Malfoy,’ Ron said with a sneer. ‘And if Hermione gets caught in the crossfire, so be it.’

Draco laughed and pushed Hermione behind him. ‘If you think for a minute, you spineless, cowardly wanker, that I’d let you anywhere near my witch, then you’re clearly more deluded than I thought.’

‘Oh, you stupid little ferret,’ Ron snarled. ‘Did you think I’ve just been sitting on my arse doing nothing all these years? Hermione’s got some pretty dangerous books in her collection, and I’ve been learning some rather inventive curses. Would you like to see?’

Keeping his composure like any good Malfoy would, Draco merely smirked and took a defensive stance. ‘Do your worst, Weasley.’

The curse was hissed through Ron’s teeth and Hermione screeched as Draco threw her to the ground and erected a powerful shield, grunting as the tail end of the spell, which was oddly strong, broke through his defences. ‘A blood letting curse? My, my. Wouldn’t your mother be proud!’

‘My mother will always be proud of me, Malfoy. Can you say the same of yours? I heard she fucked every Wizengamot member to get your Death Eater family off. How does it feel to have a whore for a mother?’

‘I don’t know, Weasley,’ Draco said almost lazily as he flicked his wand and Ron was dangled upside down. ‘Why don’t we ask your mother that question? I’m sure her answer would be more gratifying.’

Ron screamed like a banshee and said the counter curse to Levicorpus, falling to the ground in an ungainly tangle of limbs. ‘You leave my mother out of this, Malfoy!’

‘Or you’ll what?’ Draco drawled and twirled his wand around his fingers, his smug smirk growing wider as they circled each other. ‘Call your friend Potter to help you— oh wait he’s shacked up with Parkinson, isn’t he? Or perhaps your wife will defend you.’ He tapped his wand to his chin in mock thought. ‘Nope, sorry, Weaselbee. Your wife prefers me.’

Ron’s nostrils flared. ‘You’ve bewitched her, Malfoy, with Samhain., Once you’re dead, your spell will be broken and she’ll be mine again.’

Draco threw his head back and laughed. ‘Oh, Weasley, you really are a pathetic sod, aren’t you? Even if I die tonight— which is highly unlikely—Granger wouldn’t let you dip your wand into her again. She’s mine, Weasley, and keep your grubby hands off her.’

‘I don’t think so Malfoy—NOW!’ he cried and Hermione yelped as she was yanked against a slim feminine body by her hair.

She saw the fear in Draco’s eyes and the cool metal blade of a knife against her neck. He certainly wasn’t prepared for a Muggle style attack and it left him open to Ron’s next spell. The bright purple seemed to take an age to wind across the room before it hit Draco squarely on the back, his mouth opened into an ‘O’ of surprise before he hit the ground with a sickening thud.

‘What have you done?’ Hermione cried, tears falling freely down her cheeks. ‘How could you do this?!’

‘Easily,’ Ron said and strode towards her and grabbed a handful of her hair, dragging the witch in front of the fireplace and throwing her to the ground. ‘Everyone will think Malfoy did it, won’t they?’

She could barely see through her tears as her captive glided towards Ron, her pale blonde hair and waif-like features becoming clear as they moved closer. ‘Astoria?’

The witch grinned with a mad glint in her eye not unlike Ron’s. ‘Hello, Granger.’

‘Why?’ Hermione sobbed as the witch handed Ron the long curved knife and he eyed it with interest.

‘Because I want Ron and you’re in the way.’

‘And your husband? Where is your loyalty?’

Astoria Greengrass laughed uproariously. ‘Oh, Granger, you’re too much! Loyalty? Draco was never loyal to me or our vows. He spent his life moping over you. Even when he had you in his bed, it was never enough. I WAS NEVER ENOUGH!’

‘Second place isn’t so nice,’ Hermione said snidely and grunted as Astoria dug her heel into her fingers.

‘Get up,’ Ron commanded. When she didn’t move fast enough, he lunged at her and dangled her a foot above the ground. ‘Malfoy’s prints are on the knife and his blood will be on your body: they’ll all think he killed you. Are the letters in place?’

Astoria gleefully held up a stack of parchment held together with twine. ‘You see, Granger, we’ve been planning this for a while now. I have my own spies here at the Manor. I knew it was only a matter of time before Draco tired of me and dissolved our union. At least this way I’ll inherit all his money and never have to work again!’

‘All this for money?’ Hermione asked, incredulous that they’d destroy two lives for the sake of Galleons. ‘Draco would have been generous in your settlement. You didn’t have to go to these lengths!’

‘Sure we did.’ Astoria cackled, then leaned forward and kissed Hermione’s cheeks. ‘You’re a very nasty witch, Hermione Granger. The blame lies with you and Draco for the lives you’ve ruined. We were just innocent bystanders.’

‘Innocent bystanders?’ Hermione shouted and struggled against Ron’s grip. ‘Ron was never an innocent bystander and you practically salivated every time you saw Draco: he was a meal ticket!’

Astoria shrugged. ‘Of course he was. Now, as much as I’d love to just stand around chatting with you,  I must cover our tracks. Ron, would you do the honours?’

Ron smirked and leaned across his wife to kiss his lover.

‘You’re sick, the pair of you!’ Hermione cried and dread coursed through her body as Astoria plucked the knife from Ron’s hand and dangled it in front of her.

‘We’re what you made us, Granger,’ Astoria said sweetly and licked the blade of the knife.

‘Gods…’ Hermione sobbed, shuddering in disgust as Ron mirrored Astoria’s actions but instead licked his wife’s neck.

‘I watched you and Malfoy, Hermione. If only you’d acted like a such a slut for me, I may have stayed home more.’

‘I wouldn’t have wanted you anyway!’ Hermione hissed in response, and with the last ounces of her failing strength, struck back with her elbow, connecting with his ribs and sending the wizard stumbling back with a startled ‘Oompf!’

‘You bitch!’ Astoria cried as Hermione lunged for the knife, both witches struggling to grab the black hilt. ‘He should have killed you years ago!’

‘Yes, and Draco should have had you committed, you crazy fucking bitch!’ Hermione snarled, grunting when Astoria’s free hand punched her in the nose.

‘Crazy?’ Astoria murmured, her left eye twitching. ‘CRAZY? I was crazy to have let you live when I first found out you’d slept with my husband, but I stood aside and let him ruin his life with a filthy little Mudblood! You are a disgrace!’

Hermione heard the whisper of a spell and her back burned viciously as Ron stumbled back towards her, holding her arms behind her back. ‘I wish things could have been different, Hermione. If only you’d kept your filthy legs shut, we could have been happy.’

‘Ron…’ Hermione pleaded as Astoria’s eyes glinted with a telltale madness.

‘Do it,’ Ron ordered, and the slim blonde haired witch sauntered towards her, the knife twirling in her hand.

‘Where should I do it?’ Astoria asked, the sweetness leeching back into her voice. ‘Should I slice her from ear to ear?’ The blade of the knife touched her ear, then the other. ‘Should I cut off her tits? Draco does seem strangely fond of them.’ She caressed the swell of Hermione’s breast with the sharp blade, breaking the skin. ‘Better yet, why not here?’

Hermione screamed as Astoria plunged her arm forward, the wickedly sharp curved blade slicing into her stomach. The blood flowed freely, down her hand and onto her pretty robes. 

‘Oh Ron!’ the witch whined. ‘Look at the mess Granger made!’

Ron tutted in Hermione’s ear before reaching around and pulling the knife from her body. ‘Nothing a quick cleansing charm won’t fix.’ He smirked nastily.

 ‘What have you done?’ Hermione wheezed, her hand pressing to her bleeding stomach, the betrayal ripe in her eyes as Ron stood over her, smirking horribly.

‘Did you really think I’d let you go that easily?’ His eyes flicked to Draco who had fallen at a very bad angle, his arm twisted unnaturally and his breathing ragged and filled with pain. ‘Astoria has proven to be a lovely distraction in the wake of your betrayal.’ Ron licked his lips and beckoned the blonde witch forward. ‘Once they’re gone, we can leave and no one will ever know what happened here. The Aurors will think he tried to kill her, especially with the letters we’ve planted.’ He laughed. ‘It’s not exactly a secret that they used to hate each other.’

Astoria smiled weakly and clutched Ron’s chest. ‘Please, can we leave? I cannot stand the sight of blood, it’s simply horrid.’

Hermione fell to her knees, blood seeping through her clenched fingers, panic now coursing through her weakening body.

‘If only you’d picked someone else to betray me with, I’ve might have been more forgiving.’ Ron leaned forward, his bloodied hand cupping Hermione’s cheek in a caricature of familiar intimacy. ‘You just had to choose Malfoy, didn’t you? Fucking Ferret boy! I was never good enough for you, was I?’

Hermione simply blinked and he laughed right in her face.

‘I wish I could say it was nice being married to you.’ He laughed again, and hope flared in Hermione’s chest as Draco’s prone form begun to move. ‘But I fucking hate you.’

She coughed and blood sprayed up Ron’s arm. He grimaced, rearing back to strike her when his eyes suddenly went wide and his mouth slack before he fell forward, his head connecting with the low table in front of the fire.

‘Fuck, he’s a cunt.’ Draco grunted, rising unsteadily to his feet and sneering down at the now deceased Ronald Weasley. ‘Astoria…’ His voice was low and menacing as he advanced on his wife, yanking her up quickly by her hair and whispering a spell Hermione had never heard before. Her body went still, her eyes closing, and with a bone cracking thud, she slumped to the floor next to Ron.

‘D-Draco…’ Hermione sobbed and lost the feeling in her legs, falling sideways to the ground. ‘He stabbed me…Draco…’

‘Fuck!’ Draco cried and sunk to his knees, gathering the witch into his arms and murmuring every healing spell he could think of. ‘Granger, nothing’s working!’

‘Goblin silver—nothing will work, you have to let me go.’ Blood gurgled from her mouth and despair filled his very being.

‘No, Granger, don’t you dare, witch, not after I finally have you to myself! Minsy!’ A tiny house-elf popped into the room, her eyes wide with fear as the carnage was revealed to her. ‘Gather my father, mother, and any other blood Malfoy you can find. Tell them to meet me at the Henge to bring their sacrifice as we will be blood-letting—quickly now!’

Tears fell freely down her cheeks as the world around her spun, making her dizzier until her eyes closed almost at their own will. ‘They planned this.’ Her bloody fingers entwined in Draco’s hair, smearing the red liquid through his platinum locks. ‘Frame you…gods, Draco, it hurts so much.’

‘Oh, Granger, if you think you’re leaving me now, you’ve another thing coming!’ he hissed into her ear and she felt the sting of forced Apparation and the cold ground beneath her backless gown. ‘We haven’t time for the cleansing!’ She heard Draco shout as the soft murmuring of voices met her ears. ‘We need to start the ritual now!’

‘Fuck, what’s happened?’

Harry?

‘Your mate Weasley and my darling wife tried to kill her, Potter,’ Draco snarled menacingly.

‘Hey, it’s not my fault!’

‘There’s no time for arguing,’ a gentle coaxing voice chided. ‘Come now, she is fading and the magicks of the land can only do so much.’

‘Is everyone here?’ She heard faint shuffling of feet and could smell the rich aroma of freshly cut grass and the tangy scent of her blood.

‘Seven,’ Lucius Malfoy drawled and fell to his knees beside the fallen witch, his soft hands anointing her forehead with a sweet smelling oil that burned her skin. ‘This will protect you from the souls that wish the Malfoy family harm and guide you to the other side of the henge.’

‘Mister Potter, you must step out of the protective circle.’ That same soft voice spoke again and then she was being lifted but felt no pain, only bliss.

‘But Hermione—’

‘She will be safe with us, Mister Potter,’ Lucius said gently and in a voice so unlike him, Hermione wasn’t sure if it was just her mind playing tricks on her. ‘Narcissa, do you have the potion?’

‘I do.’

Hermione felt gentle fingers on her left check and another oil being carefully applied.

‘Lucius provided Eihwaz,’ the voice she now knew to be Narcissa whispered in her ear. ‘It will protect you against evil, and since Lucius is the head of the Malfoys, Eihwaz is the strongest protection we can offer you. I bring Kenaz for regeneration and the fire that ignites your magic. Stay strong, my dear girl; the power of the henge is already beginning to heal you.’

Three soft and equally soothing voices murmured in succession: ‘Uruz for your courage and strength’, ‘Gebo for your sacrifice’, and  ‘Jera for peace’ before a familiar witch was by her side, carefully brushing her hair away from her face.

‘You will never forget this moment, Granger,’ Pansy whispered into her ear. ‘I anoint thee with Algiz as a shield of protection against those who wish you ill.’ The oil was pressed to her wound and Hermione shuddered as the powerful and ancient Malfoy magic slithered across her skin.

Her body twisted and went numb; she felt the cool grass beneath her feet, and as she opened her eyes, she felt alight with warmth and love. Each Malfoy stood around a roaring bonfire which surrounded the small yet powerful henge, their wands raised toward the sky, magic leeching from their bodies and sending the fire higher and higher. Blue and purple sparks joined the orange flame and she could hear the voices of Malfoy past, their murmuring and support lending her energy and magic she’d all but thought lost.

‘Hermione.’

She turned her head slightly, a gasp wrenching from her throat as Draco walked towards her. He was naked except for a long white flowing robe that hung loosely from his shoulders. His body was anointed in a similar fashion and he held a goblet tightly in his hand. ‘Are you ready?’

Hermione licked her lips, nodding slightly as he grinned at her.

‘Come here, witch.’

She moved towards him slowly, her own long robe flowing freely behind her as the magic of Samhain danced across her skin. ‘Draco,’ she said softly and allowed him to take her hand, drawing her into his embrace. ‘What happens now?’

Standing next to a small chalice, he placed the goblet on the flat surface and held picked up a small bowl. ‘I anoint thee, Hermione Granger, under my protection as the Malfoy heir, into my heart as my wife and into my blood as my family. Do you accept this pledge?’

Her mouth felt dry and she croaked out, ‘Y-Yes.’

He smirked devilishly and dipped two fingers into the red liquid, smearing it first across her lips then slashing through the runes his family had so carefully applied. ‘Each mark upon your skin was given in love and protection. Each Samhain we have consummated our love and bound our magic in the ancient ways.  Tonight you will be Malfoy; do you accept this pledge?’

‘I do accept.’                      

Cupping her hands within his, he transferred the bowl to her. ‘Do you know what to do?’

A small smile grew across her ruby red lips and she nodded, dipping her fingers into the mixture she knew now to be the blood of Malfoy and herself.

‘I pledge myself to you, Draco Malfoy, for your love, protection and for the blood of Malfoy.’ Smearing the liquid across his lips, he moaned softly as their lower bodies touched and she could feel his arousal pressing insistently to her stomach. ‘Do you accept my pledge?’

‘I accept your pledge,’ he murmured and pushed the white silk fabric off her shoulders, sending it fluttering to the ground around her ankles. ‘Finish the ritual, Granger. I need you.’

‘Each mark upon your skin was given in love and protection. Each Samhain we have consummated our love and bound our magic in the ancient ways. Tonight, I will become Malfoy and your wife. Do you accept my pledge?’

His eyes burned with need as she drew long strokes through the runes his family had anointed him with. ‘I accept your pledge.’

Gently taking the bowl from her fingers, he tipped the liquid into the shimmering goblet and picked up his wand. ‘On these hallowed grounds this sacred night, I pledge my love, my honour, and my blood to Hermione Jean Granger.’

The goblet bubbled and shook and Hermione gasped in shock as the blood within shifted and twisted, slowly snaking its way up the sides and dripping down Draco’s wand and his hand.

‘G-Granger,’ he croaked. ‘Your wand!’

Hermione held out her hand and the wand she’d left on the study floor whooshed into her fingers. Giving the wizard a smirk to rival his own, she pressed the tip to his and shook violently as the centuries old Malfoy power careened down her wand, the blood splitting in two and seeping into their skin and across their bodies.

‘Fuck, I love you, Granger.’ Draco moaned as the magic invaded his body, his robe falling to the ground and leaving him beautifully naked and aroused. ‘You are Malfoy.’

The voices surrounding them disappeared. The fire crackled once, then twice, before reducing to tiny embers and she reached out for him, tracing his arm from fingertip to shoulder, cupping his cheek and leaning down to place a small kiss on his lips. ‘I love you too, Draco.’

‘Of course you do.’ He smirked and gripped her bum in fierce possession. ‘I need to be inside you.’

Hermione blinked quickly, a horrid blush racing down her cheeks and staining her chest. ‘Your parents, Draco!’

He licked his lips, red with his dried blood, and leaned closer, nuzzling her anointed cheek. ‘They know what happens next; everyone’s gone back to the party.’

‘What happens next?’ Her body felt on fire as he carefully laid her on the ground and crawled up her body. ‘Do we shag out here in the wilderness?’

Draco laughed softly and licked his favourite rune on her breast before trailing hot wet kisses to her jaw where he licked the painted marks from her skin. ‘I prefer to think of it as making love, Granger, but if you like, we can shag later in the gardens after Father sends away all the guests.’

She shivered underneath him, not bothering to hide the desperate moan that fell from her lips. ‘I need you, Draco.’

He licked her lips, savouring his witch before plunging his tongue into her mouth. ‘I’ll never stop needing you, Granger, and when tonight is over, I’ll bring the Wizengamot to its knees and destroy Weasley’s and Greengrass’ entire fucking families for daring to hurt you.’

Hermione moaned, her legs opening impossibly wide as he surged forward, entering her body with a desperate thrust. ‘Together,’ she murmured, cupping his cheeks and digging her heels into his bum. ‘Together we’ll destroy them, Draco. Together, they will be brought to justice.’

He smiled then, a brilliant smile filled with happiness and love for his little witch. ‘Together, Granger. Together.’