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Her Veela Knight

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 A Dying Fire

Hermione Granger has always lived a rough life. There were many other words that could've been used to describe the past 19 years of her life, but she was more preoccupied in surviving the next couple weeks than correcting the word use. Under her beaming smiles and warmth-filled eyes, I'm sorry to say Hermione Granger was a broken spirit; a dying fire. She had experienced more things than a grown adult should have, and her will was slowly dying every day. She found it increasingly harder to go to sleep every night, and wake up in the morning. It wasn't that she didn't want to live of course, her body had simply just given up. 

Mind you, this didn't necessarily mean that she was deteriorating outwardly. After the final battle, Hermione had become rather stunning, her bushy hair taming into silky brown waves and her figure filling out perfectly. Many people who had once hated her, including Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy had apologized to her. Although she hadn't been able to meet Draco, Hermione had become fond of the couple over the next few weeks, and had managed to figure out that Lucius had been threatened to work under Voldemort for his wife's life, much as Draco has for his mother. This rather surprising "secret" had been the top news for a few months, giving her a spectacular reputation to even those who had once despised her. Her golden eyes seemed to sparkle as the sun hit them, and her voice had only gotten sweeter with time. A numerous amount of boys had approached her over the summer only to be rejected as she told them she was already in a relationship. She had been chasing after Ron for as long as she could remember, and had finally gotten him as her own when he kissed her down in the Chamber of Secrets, but only when they were finally together did she realize he wasn't meant to be hers. Their breakup had happened just a few weeks after they had gotten together, and Hermione couldn't have been more relieved that they had split up.

-

"Ronald!" Hermione protested as Ron eyed Lavender Brown for what must have been the hundredth time that evening. 

"What?" He growled, finally peeling his eyes off her protruding chest before glaring at her.

Hermione involuntarily flinched back; She had experienced this look many times from her father and mother, and didn't know what to expect when it came from Ronald.

"Never mind," She cast her eyes down as they started pooling with tears.

Ron gave a rough sigh, rolling his eyes, and sauntered off towards his Quidditch team, dragging her with him. As they joined Harry and Ginny, Ginny's eyes immediately flickered down to her arm, where red marks were rapidly turning into a purply handprint that marred her sensitive skin, and flickered up to her eyes, silently questioning if Hermione wanted to talk. Hermione nodded, and Ginny gave a fake smile over to Ron. 

"Hello darling brother, would you mind if I took ' Mione away from you really fast?" Ron shook his head, his eyes flickering over to Hermione, and then over her head to where Lavender was smiling at him.

As Ginny walked Hermione over to the snack table, neither of them heard Ron talking trash about her to Harry, who abruptly stood up and left. Ginny  was the only person who knew of Hermione's past.

"What's going on 'Mione?" Ginny asked reassuringly.

"Nothing Gin, it's just Ron. Every time I see him out, he always pays more attention to the girls around him than me. Sometimes," Hermione hesitated, "sometimes I feel like he doesn't really love me. He just wants me because I'm Hermione Granger, like I'm just some trophy to be shown around." Ginny smiled sympathetically to her, but faltered as soon as she caught sight of Ronald.

"Mione, you might want to look at Ron."  Ginny whispered.

Hermione turned around and her heart sank. There they were; Ronald.. and Lavender. He had his arm around her as Harry seemed to be yelling profanities to both of them. 

"I'm going home, Gin." Hermione said quietly, and turned on the spot, disapparating with a loud CRACK!

-

After that incident, Hermione had started distancing herself more and more from her ex, and finally broke up with him on the day before his birthday. She hadn't intended to make it so close, but he had been busy on a trip with the Aurors, and had only gotten back that day. It had been devastating. He had called her a serious of horrible names, and it had broken her spirit onto a whole new level. After the war, she had been looking forward to starting over in a new year without Ronald at Hogwarts. But as she walked over to the platform she knew so well, Hermione couldn't help the doubts that plagued her mind. 

What if Ginny had sided with Ron over the summer? She hadn't been able to keep in touch, and her father hadn't allowed her to see any of the mail her new owl, Diana, had brought in. What if Harry sided with Ron again? Although she thought of Ginny as much closer, Hermione wasn't sure she would be able to survive the year without Harry. Biting her lip anxiety, she absentminded rubbed one of the fading bruises on her arms that was hidden under her lavender top. She absolutely hated the color, but ever since she had accidentally revealed that to her mother, it was the only color that had been bought for her. The summer had left more fresh memories In her mind, and Hermione was terrified that her friends wouldn't be there to help her forget. A quiet cough came behind her, and she startled back into consciousness. She hadn't realized she had been staring at the platform wall. She turned around to apologize, but faltered when she came face to face with Blaise Zabini. But Blaise wasn't looking at her. His eyes were trained onto her bruises that she had unintentionally revealed when pressing tenderly at it. She quickly pushed her sleeve back down and cursed at herself for her stupidity. She was Hermione Granger, smartest witch of her age! How could she be so stupid as to have let Blaise Zabini of all people too see her marred skin. But when Blaise opened his mouth to talk, there wasn't a hint of the arrogance she had become accustomed to.

"Alright there, Hermione?" He said in a low, baritone voice, his dark eyes finally swiveling up to her, searching them for her answer.

She was too tired to bat him away with another of her comebacks, he had probably undoubtably noticed the limp in her walk and the faltering of eye contact as she had met his gaze. Blaise wasn't an idiot; he knew how to put two and two together. 

"Hopefully," She sighed, turning away from him and crossing the border.

Immediately, she caught sight of Ronald, and grimaced. Maybe it had been better to stay with Blaise after all. As if he knew what she was talking about, Blaise silently crossed the border behind her, and walked right beside her. 

"Come with me," he offered a shy smile, and she offered one right back.

She would find Ginny later; Hermione wanted to know just how much Blaise Zabini had changed. She passed by her usual compartment half expecting to see Ron and Harry waiting in there for her. A part of her wanted to go sit with the patch of messy dark hair and vibrant ginger that she caught sight of as soon as her and Blaise boarded the train, but she needed time away, and Blaise would definitely want answers to his questions. She determinedly avoided the window where she could see bright green eyes regarding her curiously as she walked right past their department, and followed Blaise into a different empty room. "So what's going on?" He asked as soon as she sat down ahead of him. Hermione was very tempted to say nothing, but his eyes told her that he would get answers out of her one way or another. Hermione didn't trust people early, but Blaise hadn't left her a choice. if he asked around, then people would come asking questions that would be hard to answer. If he left her alone, and gin as gone, she wouldn't have anyone to help her, which had happened too frequently in the past summer. So she took a deep breath and started from the beginning.

"It started when I first got my Hogwarts letter," Hermione admitted, looking out the window as the scenery blew by them. Blaise waited patiently as she tried to get her thoughts under control. "We had gotten started on our Christmas tree, when an owl came swooping in.." She drifted into the memory, seeing it as if it was happening all over again. 

-

"Daddy, daddy, help me up!" 11 year old Hermione squealed through her laughter as she tried to put the star on the very top of her Christmas tree. Her father chuckled, lifting her onto his back with a loud  umph. She put the star on just right, and clapped her hands in delight as her mom turned on the lights, making the whole room glow in holiday colors. "It's perfect!" She declared, with a giggle. As if someone was trying to ruin her moment, there was a sharp rap on the window. Hermione yelped, and scrambled over to her mother, hiding behind her as her father warily opened the window, a baseball bat in hand. An owl came swopping in, and Hermione immediately gasped in awe as its snowy feathers brightened up the room. She was oblivious to her father's knuckles tightening over the bat, or her mother scowling in disgust. She giggled as the owl gave her an affectionate peck, and dropped a latter on her lap before flying away. before she could read it, her father snatched it away from her hands, ripping the latter open and reading its entirety, scowling deeper and deeper by the minute. "Daddy, what's going on?" She asked, not used to the dark look her father now cast her. "Dad-" she was interrupted by a blinding pain to her cheek, and opened her eyes dazedly to see her on the floor. Her dad loomed over her, an angry tint in his eyes that she had never seen.

"Cursed," he snarled, grabbing her arm so tightly she had been convinced it would fall off. "No daughter of mine is a witch. You're cursed," He snarled right at her. Hermione shook under his gaze, in terror and pain. Her father had hit her for the first time in her life, and she couldn't understand why. On top of it, her mother had done nothing to stop him after hearing those words, glaring at her as if she had done something. Her dad dragged her down the hall, ignoring her protests and sobs of pain and pleads for him to let go. He threw her into her room, and locked her in, ignoring her shouts of apology and needs to know what she had done wrong. She hadn't been let out for another week, after she had collapsed from starvation. 

-

"After that, it just got worse and worse every time I came back over the summer," Hermione finished her story with Blaise, looking back out the window.

At a time, she had believed that her parents had loved her; back when it wasn't so bad. But now, she felt less and less that that was the reality. She knew that parents were supposed to love you, but it seemed more like an echo of the truth, and she felt a wave of raw pain hit her all at once as she imagined an easier life, making her eyebrows furrow in thought. Back when she was a little kid just a few weeks after she discovered she was a witch, one of her friends had somehow convinced her father to let her sleepover. She had woken up in the middle of the night, almost surprised that her friend had been able to sleep so peacefully. It saddened her to no end that she had seen it as something out the ordinary after hearing so many nights of fights and accusations about her, talks about her that broke her heart, and of course, all of the physical scars that were left behind as well. Looking back at it, her life had been nothing short of a night. The thought brought tears to the edge of her eyes, and one managed to slip down her cheek. Blaise looked as if he was about to say something, but as she made eye contact with him, someone opened their compartment door, scaring the living daylights out of her. Ronald Bilius Weasley glowered at her, his hardened dark blue eyes reminding her so much of her father. She involuntarily pressed herself closer to the window, a subtle gesture that was not missed by Blaise. 

"Hermione, what the fuck do you think you're doing talking to the likes of him?" Ron sneered at her. Hermione couldn't find her voice to reply, as much as she wanted to explain herself to her once loving friend. "Is he the reason you broke up with me? You've been whoring yourself around to ex-Death Eaters?" Ronald's voice grew steadily louder and louder into a yell as more and more people came to see what was going on. Harry pushed past him with a scowl on his face. 

"Fuck off Ron, Hermione can do whatever the hell she wants to do," Ginny yelled back, interrupted whatever Harry had been about to say.

A swell of relief filled Hermione, leaving her on the verge of tears. Of course Ginny would never leave her. How had she found such a close friend? 

"How can I when Hermione's being such a slut?" Ron screamed, turning his face back to Hermione.

She winced, but didn't say anything. More and more people had crowded around, yet she couldn't tell who their expressions were aimed at, her or Ronald. As Ron threw around more profanities, something inside Hermione snapped. Finally she found her voice. With a flick of her wand, Ron was thrown back hard into the wall of the train.

Hermione got up calmly, and said "Get out, Ronald," before flicking her wand, and sending him straight into the compartment of thirty scowling Gryffindors, who started yelling at him as soon as the door slammed shut.

As the crowd dispersed, Blaise regarded her with amusement and sadness, and to her great surprise, put his hand on top of hers. She could almost hear Harry and Ginny's mouths popping slack as they watched the strange comforting gesture. 

"I'm sorry," He said quietly, the hidden undercurrent immediately distinguishable to her and Ginny. "I'll see you in class, yeah?" He smiled and left the compartment, waving to her as he walked off to go join his friends.

Ginny crashed into her with a hug as Harry just stood there. This was definitely going to be an interesting year, all right.

Chapter Text

As Hermione stepped out of the train, she was half terrified to see Hogwarts after so long. The last time she had seen the magnificent castle, it had lain in ruins by Voldemort's followers. Those dead bodies of both those whom she had loved and whom she had fought again had marked her vision back when she closed her eyes to sleep, and continued to now as she saw everything how it was 5 months ago. But as she lifted her eyes to gaze upon the structure, a smile spread onto her face. It was restored, and possibly looked even better than it had before. It was a sight for sore eyes; Her childhood was back, and almost glowed with positivity. As she entered the castle, she wasn't the only one who looked upon it with awe. As far as the eye could see, students were murmuring among themselves in joy and relief that their beloved home had been rebuilt into its former glory. Hermione brushed away a happy tear as Ginny embraced her along with Harry. As soon as they sat in the Great Hall, Hermione felt a rush of guilt she had not thought of asking Ginny what had happened over the summer.

"What've you been up to, Gin?" She asked, while reaching over for some strawberries. Ginny grinned, and smacked her friend away from her plate, causing the both of them to burst into chuckles.

"Harry and I broke up," She said, leaving Hermione speechless. 

"What?" She sputtered.

For as long as Hermione could remember, she had always envisioned Ginny and Harry together. It just made sense to everyone, the two were supposed to end up together; that's the way it was. But now as she pondered it, she felt a stab of guilt. That's what everybody had thought about her and Ron as well; it wasn't fair to treat someone else the way she was supposed to have been. Although she had originally thought they were good together, she had always been so focused on saving Harry's life, she had been otherwise occupied to one of her closest friends. 

"We decided that it just wasn't meant to be," Ginny shrugged, giving Hermione one of her strawberries. Hermione cast her a sympathetic gaze, and Ginny shook her head. "None of that; we just decided that we were together more for comfort than passion; you know how it is." Ginny explained.

Hermione nodded; she really did know. That's exactly why Ron and her had been together in the first place. The two of them had been after each other for so long that it had just made sense that both of them were supposed to be together; that's just how it was.

Suddenly, a hush spread throughout the Great Hall. The two girls looked around bewildered, and comprehension dawned on their faces. Professor Severus Snape had just walked up to the podium. 

"Welcome back, Hogwarts," He started talking.

As many people would have had to cast Sonorus, Snape was one of the few that demanded silence and respect without having to say anything. His voice was hardly more than how you and I might speak in a library, yet the words seemed to roll around to every student. The war had left every one in shock. After Snape had been viciously attacked by Nagini, Harry and Ron had gone ahead back to see the memories in the Penseive, but Hermione hadn't been able to. She had stuck with her once-hated Potions Professor, and helped heal the venom out of his body, and made sure he would be fine before she had gone and caught up with her friends. Although Severus had never said it out loud, Hermione knew the teacher now had a special spot somewhere in his heart just for her. As more and more people came to now just exactly what role the Professor had played in the war, the talk of suspicions of his position had declined drastically, and respect has taken its place.

"As most of you know, this is the first year that the Dark Lord is finally gone, thanks to Potter. As such, it is only fit that we have a small change in the Houses, isn't it? Each one of you will be resorted this year, and House Unity will be enforced." Murmurs started as quickly as it had ended. A resorting had been practically unheard of. 

"Before we get on to the Resorting, I would like to say something," he added dryly. Silence instantly spread throughout the large room. "Professor Dumbledore and the rest of the staff have agreed that I am your new Headmaster."

There was a moment of utter silence before applause broke out from every student that was in the hall; every student except Ronald, the bastard. Most people wouldn't have been able to guess, but Hermione saw the surprise in her new Headmaster's eyes quite clearly. He clearly had not expected such a warm welcome in his recent promotion. He wave his hands, and all of the food disappeared, and a list appeared behind him, taking up the majority of the wall as students were magically called out.

And so, the Resorting began. There was no talking about the Slytherins, as everyone had come to know (mainly through Hermione) that all of them had played no part willingly in the Second War. The students talked as friendly with them as they would their own house. One by one, each person went up. 

"Brown Lavender!" Ravenclaw. "Weasley, Ginerva!" Ravenclaw. "Weasley, Ronald!" Ginny tensed, and Hermione sniggered as she heard the prayers that Ron wouldn't be in her house. Hufflepuff. 

This time, she wasn't the only one. The whole hall filled with snickers as one of the "Golden Trio" was sorted into Hufflepuff. Ron flunked over to the other side of the hall, where all of the other students scooted over from him, snickering as they moved. Even his own House seemed to think that he was too lousy for them; not that Hermione would blame them. They were quite accurate. 

"Potter, Harry!" Slytherin. Hermione clapped among with the majority of the hall. The name no longer held the sinister and suspicious title it had before, it was simply just another house the students were born into. Harry grinned at her, winking as he went to go sit next to Blaise Zabini, who smiled at her too. "Malfoy, Draco!" The moment Hermione laid eyes on Draco, it was as if she couldn't take them off. Who was this man? He was certainly not the tired student who had worked his ass off last year in order to save his mother and father. He was gorgeous. His blond hair was no longer slicked with gel, but tousled messily, something that had always suited him more. His grey eyes seemed to pierce the room as they swept from student to student. He was taller, his shoulders broader, his muscles more prominent. Slytherin. 

"Holy shit," Parvati Patil drooled right next to her.

Hermione nodded along, dazedly. She wasn't the only one. Somehow, Draco Lucius Malfoy had seemed to stun all of the female students who attended Hogwarts. 

"Granger, Hermione!"

The moment she stood up, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear, whispers broke out everywhere, not unlike the way they had when Harry was first sorted. Is that her? What happened to Granger? Damn, she really changed. She's gorgeous. Are you sure that's the same Hermione? Murmurs could be heard everywhere as people speculated who this girl was, as they were convinced this was certainly not the bushy-haired, buckteeth Granger they had known their whole life. She sat down, and the Hat was placed over her eyes once again. 

Hermione, Hermione, Hermione. The Hat whispered into her mind, searching for whatever it needed. You've certainly changed from the first time you've sat down on this chair. Hermione couldn't help the peals of giggles that erupted from her mouth as memories of her awkward moments were brought to the front of her mind. She could hear some of the people in the Hall laughing with her simply because they found it amusing; after all, no one else had acted like this. You're smart, brave, and more ambitious than anyone here. And so much power locked inside of you. She sobered quickly. How can I unlock it? She whispered in her mind. She knew that she had more magic in her than ever before. She had been getting glimpses of it ever since the war, and had no idea how to contain it. It will save you, and your loved ones. And... ohhhhh. The hat whispered knowingly in her head. I know just what to do with you. SLYTHERIN! The hat shouted this word out to the rest of the Hall. There was a stunned silence before cheers and shouts erupted all over the Hall. Hermione grinned knowingly at her new Headmaster who just simply took the hat from her with a smirk. As she went to go sit with Harry, she caught eye contact with Draco, and it was like the whole world melted away. She broke eye contact, blushing lightly at his appreciative gaze as he watched her, and went to go sit between her two friends, which were smirking at her knowingly. 

"Oh shut up," She smiled softly, giggling at their silly antics before starting to have dessert.

Before she could finish her first bite, an outraged shout appeared from the Hufflepuff table. Ronald broke away from his table and marched over to Hermione, where he grabbed her chin tightly and forced her to look at him. A small crack was noticeably heard to everyone around them as they all witnessed first hand just how harshly he was treating her. Hermione met his eyes, and had a flashback to a situation not so different than this.

-

"Hermione!" Her father bellowed. She trembled. She had been washing the dishes, and one of them had shattered, cutting her feet, where she was now bleeding profusely all over the marbled tiles around her. "What the bloody fuck do you think you're doing? Bleeding all over my house?" He thundered, his hand smacking her so hard, she fell to the floor like a rag doll. Her fingers trembled as they brushed over her cheek, she knew that it was probably split open. Her skin had always been quite delicate, and it hurt so much more. He grabbed her shin so hard that she heard something crack before there was enormous pain that spread through her mouth, leaving it numb as he grabbed her hair. He lifted her up only to throw her back into the sink. "Clean it up, you bitch!" He snarled as he threw a ragged towel at her crumpled form. 

She raised her eyes to her once loving mother only to see her watching with an impassive expression. She could see just the flicker of empathy before her eyes dropped to Hermione's wand, and she shuddered in disgust. That's all she was to them now: a freak, unnatural, cursed. She turned her head down, unable to let her mother see her tears. This was what her life was like now, and there was nothing she could do about it. Just 3 more weeks, and she would be back with her friends. 3 more weeks, and she would be safe. 

-

Hermione snapped back to the present, gasping for air. She wasn't able to breathe properly as Ron's thumb was pressing hard on her throat.

"I will not have you whoring yourself around with these Death Eaters, Hermione, got that?" He growled as the whole Hall went silent.

Tears pooled in Hermione's eyes as she felt her jaw bruise from the pressure he was putting on it. Harry and Blaise stood up with wands raised, and Ron just ignored them.

"I don't care how much of a slut you are, you belong to me. Don't ever fucking forget that," He snarled in her face before roughly pushing her away and walking back to his table.

Hermione barely had time to touch her chin before Draco was in front of her, his eyes flashing with a mix of concern and anger. 

"Are you okay?" He asked, and just like that, it was just him and her again.

His eyes weren't grey, they were the most enticing color of silver she had ever seen; warm and inviting unlike anything she had ever felt before. Tears had dripped down her cheeks in her attempts to get away from Ron, and Draco lightly touched her jaw, right where he had pressed the hardest. It was like an electrical tingle had passed over her entire body the moment his skin touched hers; it was one of the most intimate feelings she had ever felt. Small fireworks seemed to burst throughout her body in a fit of pleasure, the point of him touching her the strongest. For that split second, she felt a strong warmth curling up inside of her; For that small second, she felt like she was home. Once he jerked his hand away, she almost protested at the lonely feeling that took its place, and could see the same emotions reflecting in Draco's eyes.

"I don't know," She sighed, lowering her eyes.

He lifted her chin back up unlike the way that Ron did; it was careful and comforting as she met his eyes. 

Somewhere outside of their little bubble, Blaise and Harry had attacked Ron, Binding him and Stunning him with multiple other students so that Snape could take him away and carry out his deserved punishment. As they looked back, they both exchanged confused glances as they saw Draco with his fingers lingering near Hermione's lower cheek as he knelt by her. They seemed absorbed in themselves as they talked back and forth in low tones, and as Draco got up to head back to his seat, Blaise and Harry didn't miss the conflicting looks on both of their faces as they touched the place of contact. Something was going on; something much bigger than just an innocent touch. Their beliefs were confirmed when Draco touched Pansy with the same hand, and dropped into a dead faint with pain distorting his handsome face. 

Chapter Text

Draco had his whole life planned out the day Hermione Granger punched him in the face. He was a rather arrogant git back then, and sometimes was now as well. He had boarded the train after giving farewells to both his mom and dad and couldn't help wondering why Grang- no, Hermione, had helped his parents at all. She was all they spoke about now, really- they had become quite taken with her. Unfortunately, he had been gone on a trip at the time, trying to build his confidence back into what it was now. He remembered the day she had quite literally hit some sense into him as if it was yesterday.

-

"You foul, loathsome, evil, little cockroach!"

She shrieked at him, her still bushy hair seeming to crackle with her anger. Ron and Harry had told her it wasn't worth it, but Draco could feel her magic crackling oppressive around him. She turned, and just as he let out a relieved smirk, she punched him right on the nose. It had been the hardest she had ever hit him, and he was blinded by pain. The moment he scrambled into his dorms, anger filled his whole being. How dare that filthy Mudblood hit him! He mailed an Owl to his mother right away; she would do what was right. But the reply he had been hoping for was far from what he had expected.

It had been Potions the next day when he had gone to Madam Pomphrey for a new bandage; despite what the Griffyndors had thought, the Hippogriff had scratched him rather deeply and Draco had fallen unconscious by bloodless before he had reached the Hospital Wing. That bloody oaf Hagrid hadn't said a word about this and he had had to endure multiple side comments on him "over-reacting." His mom stepped out of the hallway, smiling a smile that she only used for him, and he erased into her arms, already reaching her shoulders. 

"Look what she said to me Mother! How dare that little-" His mother cut him off with a severe look.

He glanced at her confusedly. Lucius had always encouraged him to call Granger 'Mudblood,' it was good of him to remind her who she really was. 

"You rather deserved it, dear. She waited an awfully long time before hitting you," Narcissa chuckled.

Draco's jaw dropped. Look at his Mother; she was laughing at him! With a hug, he stomped over to the door before she called him over sharply, leaving no room for disobedience.

"You've called that poor girl Mudblood since the day she stepped into this school. Have I not taught you anything? She doesn't know what it's like in the Wizarding World yet, regardless of her parentage. Don't be that wizard to ruin the whole thing for her!"

He couldn't help but feel properly chastised as his mother continued. Had he really been the first to call her a Mudblood. In that second of realization, he finally decided that he Ould try to stop messing with her as much as he could; his mother was right. He dutifully nodded his head, gave his mom a peck on the cheek, and headed back to class. 

-

Ever since, Draco had tried his hardest to be nice to the now Slytherin. The moment she had stood up in the Hall, he had been silenced at how beautiful she looked. She was an angel. Her hair was no longer the rather endearing bush it had been back in sixth year; it fell lusciously down her shoulders. She wasn't awkward anymore; this Hermione was simply an angel. Completely stunning. As she sat down, he could make out the murmurs across the Hall, and fought back the jealousy that irrationally filled him. He clenched his fists in frustration. Suddenly, peals of laughter erupted from his angel. He whipped over to look at her, and found her giggling at something the Hat was telling her. A smile curved his lips. The Hat certainly hadn't told him anything too interesting.

Draco Malfoy. You certainly have changed since the last time I met you. New identity, new character, and- Ohhhhh, I see. The Hat seemed to be smirking knowingly as he asked what it saw. Never mind that, you'll find out soon enough. I stand by what I said last time, SLYTHERIN!

 The word was erupted to him. He startled back onto consciousness, and grinned. Their very own Lioness had become a snake. As she walked their eyes met, and Draco swore up and down that his heart stopped. Her eyes were the perfect shade between gold and brown, and sparkled with mirth as she walked past him. He couldn't stop his eyes from lingering on her figure, and felt a rush of smugness as he eyed her pink cheeks. She was gorgeous. As she sat down, he could hear her voice -- it was much sweeter than he remembered. Suddenly, there was an outraged shout from the other side of the Hall. Weasel was walking over here. Great, he sneered.

Then his eyes landed on Hermione, and his sneer faded away. Pansy bumped his shoulder good-naturedly, her fingers woven with her new boyfriend, Theo Nott.

"What's going on, Drake?"

She eyed his somber expression. He nodded over to Hermione's fear-filled face, and both expressions changed to outrage as they watched Ron forcefully grab her. Draco growled lowly, an irrational anger filling every pore of his body. Judging by the way that Pansy cowered away from him, he knew his magic was rampant, flinging out to the people nearest to him. He couldn't hold back the wince when a crack was heard from Hermione's jaw. Her eyes were filled with tears, and as Ronald practically threw her back onto the table, he couldn't stop himself from rushing over to her. What the fuck was wrong with him? He prided himself on being level-headed, and yet here he was acting without a single thought on the consequences. Out of the corner of his eyes, he could see Blaise and Potter helping the Headmaster Disarm, Bind, and Stun the Weasel before he was levitated quite roughly over to the Headmaster's Wing. He knelt by Hermione, and all of his thoughts melted away: he needed to protect her. 

"Are you okay?" He searched her eyes.

Already, there were dark bruises marking her creamy skin, distorting her face shape. There was a slight swelling where he was sure that the cracking had come from. He lightly brushed over her cheek where the bruises had split his skin, and was hit with a wave of desire. It wasn't like how you'd think of course, Draco hated seeing Hermione in pain, no matter how much they hadn't talked, but the moment his skin touched hers, it was over. He jerked his hand back, but continued talking to her in a murmur. As he walked back to her seat, he was tempted to look back at her, but squared up, determined not to let anything break his facade. As he took his seat, Pansy grabbed his hand, hurriedly asking if Hermione was okay, watching the girl worriedly. Before Draco could answer, he was struck by the most horrible thing he had ever endeavored and dropped to the floor.

Wave after wave after wave of pain unlike anything he had felt before seemed to course through his veins, leaving him speechless as he tried to gasp for help. It was even worse than the Cruciatus. The world exploded into black, his brain not able to process anything through the intense fire in his body. He could make out a voice, someone was whispering to him. He tried to lift his hand as a fuzzy shape filled his mind's eye, but it was too heavy; he couldn't do it. He helplessly watched as the figure came closer and closer, cackling in a distorted voice as they seemed to land punches and kicks all over him. He couldn't feel a thing; the pain was all encompassing. They stopped and kneeled by his feet, grabbing his face much like the Weasel had done to Hermione. 

"Good luck trying to save her now," They snickered at his weak body.

Dread seemed to drop his leaden heart to the floor. He knew those voices all too well. He had been there as their bodies dropped dead to the floor. He had cheered along with everyone else, never thinking for a moment they could still be alive.

He saw the black eyes of Antonin Dolohov and Bellatrix Lestrange loom over him before his mind shut down, and his head dropped to the floor.

Chapter Text

Draco woke up disorientated, surrounded by dozens and dozens of Slytherins. The first one he laid eye contact was Hermione, and involuntarily flinched away from her. He couldn't bear to see the hurt that flickered in his eyes, and looked away guiltily. On her side, Blaise and Harry frowned at each other. What happened between the two? 

"Madam Pomphrey?" Draco called out.

The busy medwitch came bustling through the crowd, snapping at everyone to let her through. With a wave of her wand, she checked his levels and tsked disapprovingly.

"When was the last time you played around with too much magic, boy?" She barked concernedly.

Draco was almost offended, but knew that she was asking for his concern and health, so answered honestly.

"I haven't had any powerful magic near me other than my wand," he replied politely. Pomphrey frowned, and with one eye on him curiously, she shooed everyone away.

The second she pushed Hermione out of the curtains, Draco felt a pain in his heart, but dismissed it.

 "I detect immensely powerful magic around you Mr. Malfoy," She frowned at home from behind her glasses if it were his fault. "The only other person I've seen that in is Ms. Granger when she came in a few months ago."

"A few months ago? Why'd she come in?" Draco asked, his curiosity piqued. 

But Madam Pomphrey paid him no mind, and force fed him a Sleeping Draught.

"Go to sleep, Mr. Malfoy. You can leave in the morning."

That night as Draco slept, even with the Sleeping Draught, he couldn't get rid of the pain in his chest. It seemed to increase every couple minutes, and finally he opened his eyes with a gasp of pain. This was a different pain, unlike the one he had felt yesterday. He felt a seizure coming on, and began to panic. He didn't have the energy to call for Madam Pomphrey, and just laid there flopping in the bed, trying to calm down with occasional grunts and gasps of pain. Suddenly, there were footsteps. It was the medwitch! Draco focused harder to calm down, and was relieved to find the pain fading away. A hand pressed against his cheek, and he was hit again by that wave of pleasure. His eyes popped open. This wasn't Madam Pomphrey, it was..

"Draco?" A sleepy Hermione Granger asked softly.

He jerked away from her hand, and he almost apologized when he saw the hurt flash across her face.

"You should leave," Draco grunted, looking purposefully away from her, and turning to the other side.

The guilt in his chest grew stronger as he heard a barely distinguishable sniffle, and quiet footsteps. A thought struck him. Why was she even there? Had she been waiting for him in the Wing? Maybe she was doing patrols? She was a Prefect this year after all. Unwillingly, her golden eyes flashed in his mind, filled with hurt and confusion. What was wrong with him? He would never push her away; he was drawn to her like he'd never been to any girl before. What the hell was wrong with him? As if right on time, he groaned into his pillow as another wave of the prior pain hit him again. It was like only she could take it away; that was probably the most ridiculous thing he had ever thought. Another set of footsteps came shuffling over to him, and he looked up eagerly. But it was just Madam Pomphrey.

"Ms. Granger told me you were in a lot of pain," she fussed over him.

He grunted in response. Had she really gone out of her way to tell the witch that he was in pain? Sadness overtook him and everything went black as Pomphrey injected something into his arm. He woke up, groggy and disoriented. The pain in his chest wasn't gone; in fact it was more sore than he had ever felt. Pomphrey came shuffling in.

"Last night, I took a sample of your blood, to see what had been causing you so much pain," She started gruffly. "And there seems to be some magic at play here. Chances are you might have been cursed with some dark magic." 

Draco felt dread and anxiety flood through his veins. if that was really true, then maybe it was the two Death Eaters that had appeared in his vision yesterday. Not even remotely listening to the witch blabbering beside him, Draco distractedly thanked her, and sauntered off to the Common Room. The Slytherin Common Room, despite what everybody thought, was not the dark, damp place that it was stereotyped. It was actually rather warm and comfy, but unfortunately for Draco, he was too disoriented to enjoy being back in his home as Blaise was waiting for him, watching with anger-filled eyes. As soon as he crossed the room, his best friend dragged him upstairs, and sat him down, paying no mind to his protests.

"What's going on?" He stuttered. 

Blaise regarded him with cool eyes.

"What did you do to Hermione?" Blaise asked.

Draco felt a burst of jealousy at the fond use of her name. What was exactly going on with the two? Were they together? Blaise rarely used that tone with anyone other than his parents. Anger exploded in his chest.

"What's it to you?" He sneered. Blaise crossed his arms and fixed him with a glare.

"It means something to me that she came back to our Common Room in tears after I asked her to go check on you," he snapped. "Does it mean anything to you?"

Draco jerked back in surprise. 

"She cried?" He said softly, more to himself than his friend. 

Blaise rolled his eyes.

"If you care about her, you dumbshit, you better start showing it," He sneered and walked out.

Draco sat there dumbfounded, unable to grasp what Blaise had just told him. He had made Hermione cry? For God's sake, on top of all of it, he was quite literally cursed. He sighed, rubbing his hand through his hair before changing into a new outfit and walking down the stairs. Hermione was the first person he saw, and just as they made eye contact, she flinched back and walked away, avoiding his eyes. He slumped, dejected. Draco had been hoping that Hermione would give him a chance to apologize, but it seemed like she was done. Like she should be. His mind reminded him of their earlier discovery about being cursed. The pain that had momentarily disappeared as he watched her rejoined him, as if to make a point. So Draco ignored the ache in his heart and the back of his shoulders, and sauntered off to his next class, only to find that Headmaster Snape was waiting outside for him, and by the looks of it, it was not good. 

"Come with me, Mr. Malfoy," he said dryly, and walked off robes swishing, not waiting for Draco to catch up.

As soon as they reached into the Wing, Snape waved his wand, and Draco collapsed into one of the chair.

"It's okay sir, I'm good. I can stan-" He was cut off by a shake of the Headmaster's head. 

Severus had never interrupted him on anything, even in his younger years, and Draco was hit again by the feeling that something major was going on.

"What happened?" He asked.

Snape sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. To anyone else, it would've looked like he was bored, but to Draco, he knew the Headmaster's eyes held concern.

"Yesterday, we interrogated the Weasel," Draco smirked at Severus's use of Weasley's name. "He was under a strong Veritseram potion and Imperius combined." Eyeing Draco's confused expression, Severus continued without pause. "His true intentions were revealed -yes that's what he truly thought about Ms. Granger" he replied to Draco's look of shock, "and those feelings were amplified through the Imperius. We were finally able to find out who cast the Spell, and I fear it is worse than we could've ever imagined." Headmaster finished, absentmindedly rubbing at his now useless Dark Mark.

Fear filled Draco's heart. 

"Who was it, sir?" A barely audible whisper escaped him.

Draco almost covered his ears when he couldn't bear to hear the reply. If it was truly who he thought it was, Hermione would be at risk, and every atom of his body told him without even knowing who it was to go and protect her. He was almost halfway out of his seat when Severus waved his wand again, and Draco was glued to his seat.

"It's Bellatrix Lestrange," Snape said softly.

Draco gasped, and unfortunately, he wasn't the only one. The small sound of exclamation had been through the door and was undeniably female. Within half a second, Snape sharply opened the wooden door, and looked outside.

"Who's there?" Snape asked loudly, but the figure was already gone.

Draco managed to undo the spell, and joined him, immediately recognizing the sweet floral scent.

"I know who it is," he said quietly. "That was Hermione."