Chapter 1: Lord Who?
The morning owls came fluttering in, delivering papers along with letters and packages from home to students. With graduation mere hours away, many of them were weighted down with last minute dress robes and for a select few jewels and the like; three large owls beat their wings above the teachers table waiting on the haunted faced potions master to direct them to come close.
Severus paid them no mind not even realizing they waited for him until Minerva touched his arm and quirked her eyes up to them. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Maybe that snakebite had taken his attention span when it failed at taking his life.
No, he knew it wasn't the snakebite that had sapped his will to live that was entirely because of the long haired twinkling eyed bastard of a wizard who usually sat three chairs to his left.
Albus had lied and cheated, tying him to Hogwarts as his jail for the rest of his natural life in doing so.
All his hope at finding himself alive, free and a begrudged hero of the Wizarding world was gone, maybe he should have killed him that night on the AstronomyTower. He would have, had he known that Albus had made changes to his estate bequeathing the entirety to the Order! He himself had only a faint unspoken dream of living but Albus had not even allowed him that! Only his books that he had stringently made arrangements for remained his thanks to Irma Prince who had returned each and every one when he left the hospital, now he was just waiting on Albus to retire tomorrow and then he would become Headmaster again.
No home, if Spinners End could have ever been considered such, a sparkling new near empty Gringotts vault, a reputation just barely on this side of good; hero or not his past still loomed large. They should just send him to the Dementors, Dark Saviour his ass!
Minerva patted his arm again dragging his mind away from dreams of castrating, and mounting Albus' body above the Great Hall entrance.
Severus gathered three pieces of bacon, no need to add owl faeces to his morning, and one by one took the packages giving the owls their treat. The first carried a Ministry seal. He popped that one open first. You never knew when the Wizengamot would pass an Anti-Death Eater law. It was a Ministry death notice his great aunt had died. He didn't remember this aunt; he'd probably never met her, hell he didn't know most of the wretches his mother had called relatives. He took it the same way he'd taken the rest of his failure of a family's death notices like a stranger had died.
Shrugging he reached for the second parchment a solicitor's seal this time, Oh goody who was trying to sue him this time? Didn't the dunderheads understand they could not sue him for acts of war? Anyway fucking Albus had made sure there was nothing for them to get. Most of his books could not be sold at least not legally, they were grandfathered into a new law so they never could be passed on to non- familial connections unless dozens of rigorous rules were followed, not even to mention he didn't know ninety-nine percent, OK, ok ninety-seven percent of the people the Dark Lord had had murdered. He'd killed a fair few, yes, but not every single one.
Surprisingly the second parchment was a notice of the reading of his aunt's will. As next of kin the solicitor offered to come to him at his leisure. Severus thinned his lips to minuscule threads, with his luck he was about to inherit a bunch of substandard dark magic books and debt, just a banner closing of a year for Snape! This followed the death notice once shrunk into his voluminous pockets.
Finally was an unexpected Gringotts package, the matchbox package expanded with a tap of his wand to the size of a shoebox inside lay several parchments. Severus opened the top one which stated this was his aunt's magical accounts which were now his and his wand had automatically at her death become the soul one capable of opening her vaults, he was asked to come to any location to finalize the turn over, it also noted her solicitor would contact him about her Muggle accounts. The second parchment was an account statement, one with an impressive amount of zeroes at the end of it. Merlin she was richer than Malfoy! Merlin's left bollocks HE was richer than Malfoy! Lucius was going to piss himself!
Heart beating a military tattoo in his chest Severus kept going, next came a smaller box with four numbered vault scrolls, who needed four vaults? Under them keys, one key drew him; he remembered it from his childhood his mother sneaking him to visit her own mother behind both their husband's backs. Oversized with a worn leather tassel as he touched it he was surprised at the sound of elf apparition. Three elves stood before him the oldest he knew, Plum!
She had apparated to the Snape home bringing food and treats when possible for a few memorable years of his childhood when they had found themselves barred from the ancestral home, his grandfather had put a stop to that final kindness; the elf gazed at him with large kind eyes filled with tears.
"Master young Prince, but this glamour is no good for the Lord Prince, no good!"
With that, Plum snapped her fingers and a mere house elf undid the very best of Albus Dumbledore's glamour work. The hall went from silent to still. Severus Snape the greasy git and great bat of Hogwarts had just had over 30 years of glamour removed and he looked 25 years younger.
His sallow skin had now had a somewhat healthier glow, gone were most of the harsh foreboding lines except for the one between his eyes but it was no longer such a gulf.
His face had smoothed, his perpetual, thin, lipped sneer relaxed as if his facial muscles had long been pulled too tight. Thin lank hair that had gotten him the moniker of greasy git now looked thick, lush, small glints of mahogany highlights showing. His nose however remained the same large hooked beak that it ever was.
The elf then gave a self-satisfied nod and smiled baring her sharp teeth "we wanted to look for Young Master but Mistress said looking was futile, then you became a Death Eater! We were so angry, Mistress cried for days, we were so happy you were secret.".
Plum slapped him neatly on his hand then held his face between her thin long fingers looking into his black eyes with a look quite similar to that of a parent with a beloved child, oblivious to the looks of the students and teachers, finally one of the younger elves pulled her way.
"Lord Prince we are pleased to serve!"
He bowed low, ears scraping floor white starched pillowcase trembling, as a gasp went thru the hall from those students closest and started a rushed avalanche of whispers.
Severus finally remembered where he was. He stood and barked an order for the elves to follow sweeping from the room
The Great Hall was abuzz but Ginny Wesley summed it up almost perfectly with "blimey the greasy git was near good looking just now wasn't he?"
The Slytherin table was abuzz, Lord Prince they had all heard Snape called Lord Prince!
There had been no Lord Prince for at least a couple decades. They had all read the same Who's Who books. The last Lord Prince, Professor's Snape's grandfather, had been dead longer than any of them had been alive. If Snape was Lord Prince he would have become that as soon as Snape's grandfather died, many rushed to get owls to out their families, Professor Snape no matter his spying and not being true to pureblood ideology as Lord Prince was interesting news to send home.
The other tables were much slower on the uptake, the most worried of them was Hermione who after nodding agreement to Ginny yes Professor Snape looked much improved, ignored some silly comment by Ron, whispered to Harry "Do you think Lord's take apprentices?"
Hermione rushed to finish her breakfast and go down to the dungeons if Professor Snape was leaving her Master-less for her apprenticeship she needed to know immediately, apprenticeships were hard to come by and this was her future, his Lordship had bloody well still be willing to teach!
Chapter 2: Albus Fricking Dumbledore
Albus Dumbledore was having a wonderful day, pumping between his legs was an all too attractive Hufflepuff, Rupert, who at 60 was a perfect specimen of middle aged wizard, a deliciously deviant one at that. They were set to be wed in a few weeks, and head off to live out the rest of their days in a Wizards village on Meganisi, a tiny island in the Ionian Sea off Greece. He'd stuffed the job of Headmaster on Snape as quickly as Severus's reputation could be relatively rehabilitated, the Dark Saviour they called him ha!
He would have given it to Minerva but she had threatened to castrate him if he tried. Nobody really wanted to deal with the new Ministry, who seemed to be eternally involving themselves in school affairs. Albus was quite over with saving the Wizarding world, after two wars with delusional megalomaniacs, numerous melees, Hogwarts, The Order, The Wizengamot, and The Ministry of Magic. Harry Potter and his tiny band of brigands who were now ear marked to be the new up and coming stars of the Wizarding world could have it. He was happy to foist Hogwarts atleast on Severus, and let Rupert spend their time rogering him.
Severus had been groomed for this. Granted he had truthfully been groomed for his power with no idea how that power was going to be used, power he had just minimal access to due to his mother's fear that he would be turn out like his father angry and violent. Even as Albus had bound the child, he had never destroyed those tenuous links to Severus's power. How happy Albus was that he hadn't severed it when Tom decided to shape himself into the Dark Lord. Severus had come to him begging for Lily's life when Severus realized that yes; he could follow a mad man but not one who threatened the one person in his world he loved.
Albus had slowly opened some pathways to Severus's power, and it had kept him alive as a spy but even now he didn't have the half of it. Albus grinned, he would return Severus's power in full to him when he was reinstated to the headmaster's position, it would have to be under a guise of some type of conferred power of the position given never taken, but yes Severus at full power would be a thing of beauty, and great distress for the ministry when they found out their new headmaster was even more powerful than Albus had ever been, let them deal with that!
Feeling pleased he once again turned his full attention to the man stuffed into his arse; it was good to be Albus Dumbledore.
Chapter 3: One meddling elf!
In the Dungeons of Hogwarts
In the Potions Master's office stood one bewildered Potions Master staring at himself in a mirror, three house elves in various states of upheaval, and Draco Malfoy who was also staring at his godfather who wore a face he'd never seen him in, a hawkishly attractive one at that.
Plum ignored Severus to look at the young dragon. Oh, this one wasn't as attractive as his father had been even if he was delightful to the eye, but he bore no ill will to young Lord Prince. She was quite sure he loved the dour man with his jaded heart so she spoke to him kindly, ushering him to the door and telling him to come again later once Lord Prince had been given enough time to get accustomed to his new face.
Draco stuttered and left, passing Granger half way up the corridor, and even warning her the bossy old elf was most keen to keep everyone away. She continued on mumbling about her future, and he continued up, time to owl a letter to his father lest he be the last of the decimated Slytherins to pen letters of Snape's arrival to the aristocracy.
Inside of the office, Plum stood in fury! "Why young master let them bound his power?"
Severus sniffed imperiously; Plum was becoming quite a mother hen in her dotage.
"Plum I believe you are mistaken my powers have never been bound."
Plum sucked her sharp teeth, ears twitching she stood in front of her Lord and beckoned him to bend, where she gave him a swift box to the ears and enfolded his face in her long fingers.
"This will hurt."
Her voice was regret tinged as she unfurled her power ripping the binding of his power off, they both screamed in agony, Hermione one hand raised to knock hearing the cries rushed inside paying no mind as the door closed behind her and the wards went up.
Professor Snape was on his knees, hands wrapped around the elf's hands that held his head, power engulfing him, Hermione stepped forward but was stopped by an elf,
"Do not touch! His power will devour you!"
She stared in wonder, the old elf was encapsulated in a green shield but the Professor his body was light, out of his open mouth it streamed black, oily, and blindingly iridescent, the room strummed with power she could feel it lifting her hair off her neck, how could light be black? What was happening?
She looked down to the grim faced elf,
"What are you doing? Is the Professor in pain?"
The elf nodded, "His powers were bound, very old, very bad magic Miss! Plum freed it and is taking some of the pain."
Hermione nodded, she wanted to ask questions, she wanted to know who bound the Professor's power, how it was done and why and why he spoke so well, but instead she started towards the Potions storeroom.
"Pain potions for both of them?"
The elf shook his head no, "Just for the Master, essence of dittany and burn healing paste as well."
Hermione started to question why the dittany and burn healing paste when Professor Snape's body was wrenched from kneeling to floating in the air, the power around him glowing bright red across the black, the grim elf swore and shouted to the other in a language she had no idea of, as he disappeared the elf looked at her
"Murtlap Essence as well, now Miss!"
When she returned from gathering the potions, Professor Snape's body was still engulfed in the power now glowing orange. The grim elf looked at her and with a small twitch levitated the Professor as the colour around him slowly paled. In the Professor's private rooms the third elf stood at the bathroom door, Grim as Hermione had taken to thinking of the grim faced bossy male elf followed him in.
"1 full vial of dittany, half of the Murtlap essence, quickly!"
From the other room a weak discombobulated voice streamed thru the door, the old elf with the Professor.
"First the pain potion Couton, magic it thru his skin!"
Hermione handed the potion to Grim, well Couton, he withdrew the stopper of the vial and with one swift movement half the vial disappeared and so did Professor Snape's clothes, the low moan Professor Snape had been making was now silent; Grim handed her the dittany and Murtlap pointing to the huge tub, she quickly moved to do as he directed standing aside when he gently lowered Professor Snape, she had never used either in these great amounts on one person, dittany was used in drops 1 to 10 even for great wounds no one used these large amounts but then she had never seen anyone submerged in a bath like this for treatment.
She looked into the bath at him, he was lean, finely muscled, a swimmer's body, she glanced at the trail of fine hair eyes going down and caught herself, she was not going to look at Professor Snape's penis!
Severus floated, first on a sea of pain, later cocooned in warmth with the stink of burn paste what in the hell had that elf done? He could hear the Granger girl's voice along with elves; he could feel his wards had sealed and now were being battered.
He moaned and tried to raise his head to let them know, but instead he felt his lips pried opened pain potion poured in and his throat massaged to force it down. Severus sputtered, raised a single finger towards the door and moaned "no." That one word, a simple moan, the Potions Master imbued just a bit of power, it flowed from him into his wards, the castle responded to his power with swift action of its own and locked down Severus's private rooms, Head of House office, and private labs with a resounding return of its own power.
Inside Hermione looked at Grim- Couton, Plum and the last elf Whimble, they felt the power slam around them. This was not good.
Professor Snape's skin was healed soft as a baby's behind and smooth but his power still over whelmed, and now they were warded twice, not only the Professor's wards but also Hogwarts. It would have been hard to leave when it had just been his wards up, now Hogwarts had decided to lock them in and there were seemingly no options, Hermione's Patronus frolicked around the room not allowed to leave, the elves not being Hogwarts elves couldn't apparate out, they were collectively screwed.
Chapter 4: In for a Penny
Innie Outie was the creation of Miss Figg, may she rest in peace.
Outside the private rooms of Severus Snape stood a knot people in various emotional states. Albus had been called back to the castle after being alerted that something powerful had been unleashed within the walls, he stood with Minerva, six senior Aurors, and the Minister of Magic, Kingsley. Lucius Malfoy was present as reinstated head of the school board, along with Draco, Ron and Harry. Albus was livid! He could feel the power in the rooms beyond him, they all could! Severus Snape's power made the Dark Lord's pale, made his pale infact. It strummed feeding the wards of Hogwarts! Each person within the walls felt its warmth like the heat of the sun on their skin. This was power! How in Merlin's putrid blue bollocks had Severus's elf released this? He had already been told ad nauseam how his glamour had been removed in the great hall in front of a nearly full breakfast seating, owls were coming to his office at this moment and the Prophet had already deposited a photographer and Rita at the gate eager for an interview with Lord Prince, now this! Severus Snape had always been too much damned trouble.
Draco looked around, the Headmaster was near apocalyptic with anger, the Deputy seemed mostly concerned Hermione was last seen going into the Potion's office now. An office that was warded beyond any of their skills, and there was a surge of unknown power! Lucius was plotting Draco could tell, he knew the look. He rolled his eyes at his father. The Aurors were petrified to the man there was just too much power for their comfort. They had carried out offensive strikes on death eater strongholds with not a tenth of this power in the collective. This was not good.
Draco looked at Kingsley who was looking at the Headmaster; the old bastard was as always in charge.
Harry was worried more about Hermione than the Potions Master, no matter how much respect he had for the man all he had only asked about Hermione, and the red idiot was definitely angry Hermione was locked in a room with Snape! The only one who seemed in anyway concerned for Severus was Draco. He looked at the assembly; all were utterly untrustworthy in his eyes. He focused on Albus, the Minister, and Harry, the powerhouses, and the hothead. When Snape stepped out of his rooms,these were the three most likely to act or to direct the reaction. The Minister could incarcerate then ask questions, the Headmaster would smile in his affable way and blackmail, Harry depended on how Hermione looked when she exited the room.
Draco scoffed at the others no real power to speak of, although Ronald would probably be good for a tantrum of some sort.
He hoped Severus had a good plan, because things had changed and it had everything to do with his apparent new power.
Hermione and Plum had been arguing on what to do with the elves unable to apparate out, when Grim had whispered to Plum in that guttural language again, and Plum in her wizened voice had screamed for Maize, the head Hogwarts elf.
The Head Elf had carte blanche to enter any room of Hogwarts even with wards up. Allowances not even the Headmaster had, old rules from when Headmasters and faculty had secreted mistresses and paramours in rooms out of sight of the students, staff and spouses, Couton with his love of arcane elf lore was indeed precious to their Master today.
Hermione had cringed at hearing the name. The sharp sound of apparition seconds later, the short crone of an elf gave them all a disapproving look, Hermione had been reminded of when she was called to meet the elf in her days of SPEW.
Maize had spoken to her like a mentally inept child. When Hermione refused to back down, that "slavery of all types is wrong," the elf had frozen her with a look and explained to her that "Little Miss not be freeing Hogwarts elves dooming them to death or I will make Little Miss an elf!" Then she had touched Hermione letting her feel her primordial power tied to Hogwarts, and every elf under its protection; leaving no doubt that yes she could make her an elf. SPEW had been retired that night with no word as to the reason.
Maize gave a stern look around the room, "You act in haste Plum! Headmaster is angry! But Hogwarts, Hogwarts sing in joy, Potion Master is feeding her well!"
The pair of younger elves slipped closer to Hermione, and let the two crones talk in low murmured voices, finally Maize stepped back and looked at Hermione,
"It is decided Little Miss and Little Dragon will bond, accept and share Potion Master's power."
Hermione opened her mouth to argue, but was stopped with one raised finger, the old elf's tone permitted no reply.
"You do or he dies and Hogwarts devours. His wards accept only two, apprentice and the little dragon, Hogwarts allow only me! You will bond!"
Hermione shook her head no and stepped back, searching her mind for stories of shared power finding herself short on information,
"What will happen to me? Why must I share his power? Why does he have so much power? Who is the little dragon?"
Maize gave her a look and long sigh, "Always questions Little Miss."
Then she turned to Plum, "Answer! I return with Little Dragon!" and with that she was gone.
Plum looked at Hermione and patted the chair next to her as she looked thru the doorway at Professor Snape, laying in his bed his power still visible now a golden-yellow encapsulating the black, looking in her large kind eyes it was clear she cared about the Potions Master.
"Young Master's powers were bound by the Headmaster! Now his power free is too much, it never stopped growing that is not the wizard way, you become big wizard your power slow. Young Master never slow.
Now we give you and Little Dragon Lord power, Young Master cares for you and Little Lord, Maize knows these things, you all strong, you will be stronger."
Hermione was tempted to argue but arguing with elves would only end in deadlock, there had to be other options she nodded to the old elf and went to the book shelves there had to be answers here.
Draco was on his way to Slytherin house, with a short detour to the kitchens on his return from the crowd standing outside of the Potion rooms. He was sitting thinking in the bustle of the elves when Maize appeared next to him, the old elf scared him, no she petrified him! He had sneaked some Malfoy house elves to Hogwarts once when the Dark Lord lived at the manor, he would not allow his childhood nanny to become snake food!
She had looked at him as if she knew all his secrets and tisked, just that one sound and a look she had conveyed pride, sadness and utter contempt, he had never wanted her to look at him again after that.
"Your Potions Master is in danger."
Draco moved to stand; her hand was stronger than it looked her grip tight forcing him to stay seated
"Wait Little Dragon, his power is plenty, too much even, we thought to share with you and the one that frees elves, it will save him but will bond you three, you understand the old ways?"
She looked at him, and he nodded, she smiled showing her sharp yellow teeth,
"Little Dragon you cannot go to your sire again."
Draco nodded slowly, Severus or his father, there was no choice; he would follow the man who had placed his soul on the proverbial line for him. He wouldn't allow his father to use him again.
"Take me to him?"
Maize smiled her fierce smile again and took his hand, in a blink he was Severus's private rooms, Granger was reading an elf next to her explaining some point, her eyes were wide he suspected she had just figured out why wizards never shared their powers and rarely if ever wrote of it.
She raised her head all wild hair and eyes the colour of good whiskey, her voice soft, "They are marrying us aren't they?"
Draco wanted to spit the facts at her as deftly as she had done in class but instead he came towards her and the elf moved so he could sit next to her on the floor,
"No Granger this isn't marriage, this is more elemental and stronger than marriage could dream of being"
She looked at him her lips between her teeth, was she afraid? Resigned to what they were doing? Maybe, she wanted answers, and knowledge? That he had and would give her all, if it would save Severus's life.
"This is a story told from the beginning of time. Chaos, Eros, Gaia, their children, or grandchildren, some say great-grandchildren, mated with man. The Gods begat children some had magic. Some had so much magic they challenged the Gods in power. At first bonding was used to control the powers of the Children of Man. Their parents took forms, bringing them to their beds or sometimes just offered more power, laid with them and killed them after stripping their power.
Later some found that they could give the power they didn't want to those of lesser strength living not as god's but normal lives.
A connection was forged in giving power, a synchrony developed, partnership. In the sharing of power, the Gods, and the Children of Man gained deep connections, greater than what they had with their spouse if they had one.
Their minds linked, their bodies recognized this bond. They were incapable of having children with anyone other than their bond mate. Then eventually they realized this was actually a soul bond, their very essence filtered through the other. For generations this is what the very strong did when they cared about someone weaker, then slowly we forced the strong to hide because of our fears, or submit to being bound to living half-lives bonded for wealth not love. We bred the trait of strength out and those with power kept it silent and even they were few."
Draco looked to his side, Granger was thinking her bottom lip clasped between her teeth still; he wondered if she would gnaw into it.
"I would be bonded to you and Professor Snape"
"Yes, you should probably start calling him Severus."
"I have to have sex with...?"
At this they both raised their heads to look Severus in his bed unmoving, Hermione was first to speak
"Plum how can we initiate ... if the Professor is unconscious?"
Plum and Maize shared a patronizing glance, Plum spoke first, "We elves have ways, but Little Miss you have three days to innie-outie with the Lords."
"But know little ones after this, to the world the bond is complete, Plum will say she used elf magic, their magic will tell them the bond is complete! You will not tell that it was not complete until innie-outie," Maize spoke, her words an order.
Hermione and Draco shared a look; in for a penny in for a pound, they were doing this.
Chapter 5: Call me Hermione
Severus wanted to scream, "Let me die! Do not do this!"
In fact, he was sure, that at least Maize was well aware of his subconscious screaming to, 'Avada me and end this shameless fuckery,' but had chosen to ignore him and do what she believed was best! Elves had strange ways.
He was going to be bonded to these two with or without his consent! Fuck!
He cared for Draco. He knew the boy was somewhat infatuated with him. He'd protected Draco when his father had thrown him to the wolf of the Dark Lord. When Narcissa had been murdered suspiciously within days of the family being cleared, mostly due to her aid of Potter during the final battle, Draco had come to him first with his suspicions of his father's role, Draco trusted him.
Granger, he was not sure why she had asked to apprentice under him or why she would do this. He owed her a life debt not she him. He had of course thanked her for her aid; the bezoar and potions he had taken coupled with the few potions she carried and her fleeting nursing had been enough to push him fully towards life. Not to mention she had been the one to come stomping into the Shack with medical aid, Aurors for his security, and fucking Albus smiling charmingly swearing for his innocence while shooting him daggers with his eyes that he had the gall to live.
She had said nothing of the life debt incurred that night and neither had he beyond the acknowledgement of its creation a curt, "Thank you Miss Granger for your assistance". He imagined she'd take of advantage of it one day in the future when the red-haired idiot proved just how stupid he was. He fully expected Weasley to father a bastard, on one of the witches that seemed to gravitate towards the three heroes of Potter, Longbottom and Weasley and bring it home for her to raise. Poison was an artform.
Instead here she was saving his worthless life again, he screamed from within his prison once again.
"Plum, Maize let me die!"
And was shocked when Maize answered him back, her voice spoken in his head not near as wizened as her speaking voice
"You ungrateful thrice doomed bastard! They both care for you in their ways! You will accept their gift with grace and treat them very well, you understand me Potions Master?"
Severus felt quite like a child spoken to by an irate parent but still he tried to plead his case
"But Maize they are children."
"No Potions Master they are a man and a woman worn with war, hunted for their fame and infamy! You are Lord Prince, you have wealth, you have power, you were Death's hand! You can protect them better than anyone can. You have protected them! You need them and they you, this will be done."
Severus wanted to argue but found himself alone in his head again.
Hermione and Draco had shed their school robes, and were sitting on the settee hashing out perceived injustices,
"I just wanted to shake his fucking hand!"
"I don't care about you and Harry bloody Potter you minging tosser , you made my teeth huge!"
"Come off it Granger, Madame Pomfrey did a knockout job with your teeth after, you should thank me!"
"Your twat of an Aunt did this to me in your house!"
She ripped up her sleeve to show him Mudblood carved into her arm.
He frowned and stood pulling his shirt from his pants and showing her a collection of healed gouges.
"Bella was admittedly a bit of a cunt"
He turned his back raising his shirt where his back was stripped, then dropped it ripping his left sleeve up and the faded dark mark.
"So was the Dark Lord, so is my father, I assure you Granger I know only too well what you faced. If we bond, I will do my best to protect you, never again will I be fodder for others' cannons and I will not allow anyone I'm bonded to face it either. I protect my own Granger, I have seen and done things that no one should have to, I have lost my mother to my father's greed which has taken him from me, my future to my own ignorance, if not for Severus I would have lost my soul"
Hermione gave him a considering look
"Call me Hermione, Draco."
Maize looked at the young ones, they didn't worry her, the war had stripped both of their families by choice and by force, they would cling to each other in this new one they would create. The boy loved the Potions Master, he would give everything easily, his body, his heart, his soul
The girl now she carried guilt at leaving the Potions Master at not doing enough, even with the life debt she believed she had fallen short, fool child!
She had never met a downtrodden soul she didn't want to save, and the Potions Master was first on her list, but behind that, she recognized him for his intellect and as a man.
Maize studied Hermione, yes she would do well paired with these two. They were strong they didn't need to be led like children, they would all learn from each other but she would not have to guide them each step, they would take turns each with their own strengths, they would challenge each other, and the children oh such power they would have.
Maize clapped her bony hands, "Little Lord, Little Miss the time is now."
Chapter 6: Spinning on emotions
Maize and Plum held hands in the Professor's bedroom, it was more spacious than her head girl room, and she noted no green but that was all the time she had to observe before Plum spoke
"When bonds are made we will have few moments Little Ones, just time for you to speak to your bond mate before he and Hogwarts lower the wards. Little Dragon Maize will take you, it would be wise no one in your home know of your power until you are no longer under your father or the Headmaster. Couton will be with you, he will your Prince elf, if you are in danger he will take you to safety. He will not be seen but you will feel him."
She hissed a low sound from between dangerous teeth
"We cloak you, but the power is strong, and this is dangerous." She gave a long look, "Hidden things never stay hidden." She closed her eyes and made a small noise. "Hogwarts will help you if you need it."
Maize turned to Hermione with a much sterner look than the fond one Plum had given Draco.
"Whimble will be with you, if you need him, call."
She tisked her teeth
"Only you know your heart and why you are doing this, but know you will have to fight those outside this door, those who love you and hate him"
She jutted her pointy chin towards the professor
"Those who care for you will try to protect you by stifling this power in wrongly laid blame, in pride. Start as you mean to go on! How do you mean to go on Little Miss, as a victim or a equal partner forcing these two and everyone else to understand you are a force to be reckoned with?"
Hermione raised her chin defiant,
"I do not love them but I respect the Professor, and I believe Draco and I have reached an agreement."
The blonde man nodded
"We enter this freely understanding that this is a lifetime commitment, that in saving the Professor's life we link our own with his, we accept this."
Nothing else needed to be said; Hermione and Draco stood at the Professor's bedside holding his hands. Plum and Maize at the foot of the bed started to chant, strange words unsuited to the human mouth. The chanting continued until they were standing in red flames conjured out of no where. The elves reached for the Professor's feet, guttural chants raised to a crescendo and the words washed thru her warm, sticky, clinging to her. Draco's hand tightened in hers he felt it too!
Then it consumed them, a heat-less fire that swept them from head to toe. Hermione felt Severus and Draco connect. She felt her own tug towards them, sensed the power in the bond forged without their active involvement sweeping them along. She was keenly aware that she had entered something bigger than her.
Hermione felt the moment Draco released and gave himself to the bond seeking the Professor, and the Professor's, no Severus's flinching reaction that fuelled her own push of her will into the bond. Met with Severus's begrudging push of his formidable will, in that moment it clicked; no matter what they had been before in that moment they became a cohesive unit, they became one.
They spun a collective of feelings and memories, all of them with overwhelming fears of failure. Severus's unrequited love now sated through his actions, Hermione's love of her parents, her guilt for their murder by death eaters in Australia not even aware they had a child. Draco's love of his mother, him sitting with her brushing his hair, his growing hate of his father, his guilt at his actions. Severus tender emotions towards the young man, Hermione's guilt at not doing more to help Severus, all of their fears that their actions during the war had tainted them. Draco walking with his father feeding peacocks, Hermione laughing with her mother their last summer together, Severus learning to cook at a muggle stove his mother standing next to him teaching him. So many emotions bore down overwhelming the trio. There would be no lies, no ambiguity, no where to hide.
They came to a pile on the Potions Master's bed, the three of them alone holding hands, Maize voice came through the door way
"Speak quickly my Lords and Lady, Hogwarts will only do so much."
Hermione looked at Draco, he was smiling at Severus whose eyes fluttered open.
"Severus you look better than I can ever remember"
The Potions Master scoffed, but Hermione was quick to agree with Draco
"He's right Sir..Severus, you look ... healthy"
Severus raised himself up pulling at the sheet readying to let them know how he felt about the risk they'd taken, and realized his arm was bare, there was no dark mark! Severus grabbed Draco's arm dragging his sleeve up and was met with pale pristine skin, they looked at each other shocked, their link flared in what could only be jubilation. Their joy pulling Hermione along, she smiled.
Maize walked into the room,
"Ahh the mark is gone, good. Tell your husband and wife good bye Little Dragon."
Draco gasped in realization
"When can we be together Severus? Hermione?"
Severus blushed, embarrassment reached across the bond from all sides
Hermione gave an uncomfortable laugh,
"Tomorrow after graduation? Can we all meet here...?"
"Tomorrow after the ceremony it may behoove you to take one final walk around the lake, you all know to where I speak of.'
Guilty nods from Hermione and Draco. Yes every eighth year knew the dead spots where since the war apparition was possible from
"The elves will bring your things to Prince Hall, that includes your things Potion Master. I think you no longer will be Headmaster next year?".
Severus nodded, his pleasure streamed over them
"I will resign tonight I believe with this new power I will be deemed quite unsuitable a replacement for Albus" He stopped,
"Prince Hall Plum is it suitable for muggle borns?"
Plum stepped into the room
"Yes Young Master your Aunt she wished all to be welcomed, it is far from what you remember."
Severus felt relief at that, as a child there were traps that endangered him as halfblood, he remembered clinging to his mother's skirts least his skin was flayed, or his ears bleed. Atleast now nothing would devour him or Hermione.
He sighed. They were a triumvirate, he could feel the power filling him, he doubted they would know but Draco looked ethereal, Granger no Hermione glowed with power.
He folded his hands on his lap, fighting the urge to hold them close, and verbally slaughter them for their actions.
"This is not what I would have chosen, triumvirates are rare, rarer still is shared power.' He swallowed, "I am not kind no matter what either of you think of me, but I will take this opportunity at a new life, I have wealth"
He granted a small smile to Draco
"More than your father, you can create your dream without his input. Miss Gra..Hermione this is my second life debt to you, I do not know what your dreams are but I can promise what is within my means I will give you."
Hermione gave a small smile
"No life debt was created today Professor, the book said"
Draco and Severus groaned, but Hermione noted the upward quirk of the Professor's lips.
"I want to learn, as for our relationship I would like children in the future. I'd hope for respectful caring parents for them. I know I am not what you would have looked for in a wife, neither of you, but maybe love will come? "
She looked from Severus to Draco unable to follow the small burst of emotions that fed along their connection. Draco blushed, Severus spoke
"Miss Granger you are intelligent, loyal and beautiful. Any man would be proud to call you wife no matter his blood status, you will have your children although this maybe something best discussed in the future, we have time. What of what most young women dream of dresses, jewels, to be swept off their feet by young men?"
"I desire knowledge, I prefer books. Draco has a better sense of style than I."
She smiled at Draco, who laughed
"Well we have a deal, you will be my model won't you."
"No I think the Gringotts balance is safer if you let me dress myself."
It was Severus turn to give an uncomfortable laugh, he doubt she would understand as Draco had when he spoke of more wealth than Malfoy. Yet it was refreshing to know he was safe from flights of fancy.
"We talk of finances and flipperies later. Draco you must go back to Sytherin house, I will call for you."
Draco hopped onto the bed wrapping Severus in a tight hug, Draco's emotions tumbled over them fiercely, love, worry, lust. Lust that tumbled along the bond as Draco kissed Severus. Hermione wondered how the hell this would this work.
Maize grabbed Draco by his arm pulling him out of bed and Severus' arms and down to her
"No time for innie outtie Little Dragon!"
She ran a single slender finger down the side of his face and Hermione felt her connection with Draco and Severus contract
"You tell Miss goodbye now and we go!"
They looked at each other unsure of what to do, she reached out a hand to shake and Draco pulled her into his arms, holding her possessively
"You are mine Granger, both of you! Don't forget what I said"
He released her with the softest brush of his lips against hers; she blinked and he and Maize were gone leaving her in Severus Snape's bedroom.
He spoke his voice warm sunshine pouring over her.
"They are at the door, I can feel them, The Headmaster, Kingsley, Lucius and Potter's power, your head of house is there as well and the red headed fool I believe. Dear God please tell me you have not just bonded with me while associating with Molly Weasly's spawn!"
Hermione barked a laugh,
"No you have not poached me from Ron, plus he's already got Lavender up the duff, just don't tell his mother."
The both sniggered at the thought of Molly's reaction
"Miss Grang...Hermione are you truly ok with this?"
Hermione bit her lip, her eyes lowered to the white sheets.
"I don't know, But I couldn't let you die now could I?" She raised her eyes to his and huffed
" What's done is done, now I advise you lay there and look as worn and innocent ... hmmm innocuous as possible"
"I will do my best to be as inoffensive as I can."
He started to get out of bed, and was stopped by her arm braced against his chest.
"No Professor ..Severus look just lay there! Plum and I will say you were incapacitated, we were locked in and we had no choice. You will lay there tired, supercilious ranting that I took advantage of you and toss us out, if anyone tries to attack you I will simply speak the truth you had absolutely no say in our actions. Do we understand each other?"
"So this is how you've gotten Potter and the red headed dullard to acquiescence to your wishes all these years, you've run roughshod over them?"
"Why yes Severus, and would you look they are both still alive. As a matter of fact you have benefited too, you would have been long hexed had they had their way"
Severus flounced back onto the pillows
"Fine there are mostly Gryffindors out there anyway, use your wisdom of your compatriots but know I do not trust them!"
Hermione walked to the door, she glanced back he was looking at her as if he was seeing her for the first time, or realizing just how duplicitous the brains of the trio could be. There was a pull as Severus dropped his wards and seconds passed before Hogwarts answered in reply dropping its.
Chapter 7: What next Veritaserum?
All hell broke loose when the wards were lowered, Albus was first thru the door his face a mask of barely concealed anger wand drawn, next auror after auror after auror after auror and Kingsley! The Minister of Magic good lord why did they send for him? Next came her head of house who made a beeline to Hermione wrapping her arms around her, then Ron, Harry and finally not taking any risk Lucius Malfoy, most started talking at once and Hermione shushed them.
"Can someone please get Madam Pomfrey? Professor Snape was unconscious for quite a bit! I think he may have a concussion, Ron, Harry please Poppy?"
The boys ever used to obeying Hermione quickly started out the door, Hermione felt Severus's amusement, and matched it with her own that with all of these people no one thought to use a patronus to call Poppy, how the hell did they think she saved him that night? Pure luck? No, judiciously applied potions and a patronus to Poppy!
Next Plum stepped up, furious scowl across her face she folded her arms and looked at Dumbledore with her teeth barred.
"Headmaster very bad, Headmaster bound young Master's power, Headmaster glamour young Master most unattractive. Headmaster almost made young Master die! Evil evil Headmaster.!"
Every head in the room looked at the interaction between the tiny elf and the Headmaster of Hogwarts.
"I only did what his mother asked of me Plum, I did not endanger the child!"
Severus voice came through the doorway low timbre-ed, lacking the usual resonance, damn he was good thought Hermione!
"Why didn't you tell me Albus? How many days I suffered when power could have made a difference, you painted me a dark saviour and neutered me!"
"Severus please we can't speak of this now, Kingsley please remove the aurors it's clear Severus is no danger to anyone, MrMalfoy you also are free to go."
Kingsley nodded to the aurors
"I'll see you back at the ministry, you can go."
They trooped out silently annoyed at loosing the good gossip.
Lucius on the other hand was defiant, his lip curled in a snarl
"I believe I will stay, you think to instate Professor Snape as the new headmaster? A man of dark secrets, unknown power, and much vaunted anger management issues? You believe that this would be best for our children? For Hogwarts? Minister you agree? Snape the Dark Saviour was powerful yet somewhat controlled now with this?"
His snake head walking stick cut thru the air and slammed into the stone floor.
Severus voice cut through the ensuing argument calm, cool, he was occluding. Hermione didn't know how she knew but she did as she stood wrapped in Minerva's arms.
"I am resigning, there is nothing to fear. I will leave after the graduation ceremony tomorrow, I will not be a danger to Hogwarts."
Lucius could have crowed with joy as Hermione watched him, he was so pleased his body betrayed him, no wonder he had failed the Dark Lord time and time again! He was no spy.
Albus spoke first
"But you have no home Severus where will you go?"
Lucius smiled, predatory slash of white perfect teeth and started towards the bedroom door
"Severus no matter what our issues in the past you are my friend, know Malfoy Manor is always open to you as long as you need it"
He was stopped by an unseen force at the door and Severus chilled response of
"That will not be necessary Lucius I find myself not quite destitute at this time."
McGonagall tittered in Hermione's ear, clearly pleased that Severus had turned down Lucius and whispered in Hermione's ear
"Are you ok Miss Granger?
Hermione smiled at the kind woman who had all but adopted her in the months since the end of the war.
"Quite Professor McGonagall sharing Professor Snape's power has left me replete I had no idea how low my magical stores were until Plum did the ritual"
Professor McGonagall's face took on a stormy visage, she was clearly fighting the urge to pull her wand from her sleeve.
"Did he hurt you girl?"
Hermione gave her a quizzical look
"Professor he was unconscious he couldn't hurt me, Plum did everything it was quite calming really"
Professor McGonagall looked at her then whipped her wand out and performed a test to see if her virginity was still intact, the room could see plainly it was.
Hermione on the other hand couldn't help but to feel hurt.
"You thought I lied to you? Supposed I'd had sex with a previous boyfriend would you have had me examined? Or would you have avada-ed Professor Snape first? Would like to see his sheets?"
She turned walking away and was surprised to see Severus in the door to his bedroom, in pajamas and a long robe, broad shouldered and trim he filled the doorway.
"My god Minerva what did you do? She's bereft!"
He looked at the blue glow still obvious at her womb and laughed, it was the first time Hermione had ever heard him laugh, head thrown back, mouth opened laugh
"Oh Minerva, you do so love to think the worst of me."
Hermione walked up to the Potion Master, she raised her eyes to his in a silent plea and he opened his arms, it became clear he was some what accustomed to soothing troubled females, he patted her back and murmured in her ear. Hermoine thought he must be a much more hands on Head of House than Professor McGonagall and noted the room was silent at their action.
His voice was a deep rumble in his chest
"Never thought I'd see the day the Princess of Griffindor would run to the arms of the bastard of Slytherin house from those of her own" His voice was snide
He waved his hand ending the spell on Hermione.
"Miss Granger please your head of house was only concerned for you."
Hermione stepped back bristling.
"What will she do next Veritaserum? I am nearly 20 years old! A woman, a student yes but a woman! I have slept in a tent with 2 horny teenaged boys for months, one who pawed me as much as humanly possible! Has no one thought of that? What had I not been a virgin? Would she have trained her wand on you? Is my word not worthy?"
Kingsley finally spoke his voice calming and direct
"Severus what happened? I'm sure if we understood we would be much less likely to jump to conclusions."
Severus eye brow raised at this comment, his trade mark sneer crested his lips, yet he gave a small nod
"As you wish Minister" he spun his tale of of the letters, his newest station of Lord Prince, the elves appearance and the removal of glamour and magical confinement as he believed it, he moved from standing to sitting on the divan back against the wall leaving the settee free, Hermione sat with him, Plum stood to his side interjecting at points, staring daggers at the Headmaster. He left out certain things, his new great wealth and Draco; hedged on others, such as when Kingsley asked just how much magical core strength he had, his reply back of
"At this point barely enough to get from bedroom to the divan!"
Harry and Ron accompanying Poppy returned somewhere in the middle this tale and when he finished speaking Poppy hustled him off to the bedroom for a physical, plying him with potions. Leaving Plum and Hermione to finish the tale with Plum casting furtive looks towards the door while speaking on ancient elf bonding rituals that bonded their Masters if their lives were in danger, and barring her teeth when ever asked for exact details on what was done
"Elf magic! I sing. I give my magic. I give bond!"
At one point she began the guttural song but was quickly shushed by the Headmaster, while Hermione spoke of finding the Professor in pain, body alight, she glazed over the bath, and went on to the bonding,
"So we decided since there was no way out for us that bonding not only saving Professor's Snape's life but our own since Hogwarts refused to release the wards or allow the Professor's elves out, it was the wisest decision"
Harry being muggled raised as she was clueless, he looked at the displeased faces of Albus and Minerva for his cues, Ron however pureblood knew and exploded
"You fucked the greasy git! How could you Mione? How could you!"
Hermione stood fury washing over her, her wand was out quicker than any eye could track and Ron was pushed back towards the door,
"I do not understand the need to cast aspersions on my character today, first Professor McGonagall cast a virginity charm on me, now you! You Ronald that has laughed at me time after time about my puritanical ideals about going to my marriage bed a virgin!
You who left me for Lavender Brown not once but twice, you Ronald! In 7 scant months you will be a father. Who I give or do not give my favours to is none of your bloody business!"
Lucius coughed delicately, brushing a invisible piece of lint off his razor-sharp pants seam and in a snide voice commented
"Vituperative comments about witches conquest are always a sure way to find ones self hexed."
Hermione smiled a baring of teeth anything but friendly, never moving her eyes from Ron. She felt Severus coil waiting to strike, someone was getting ready to act not Lucius he could care less if she hexed the bullocks from the entirety of the Weasley clan, that left Harry, the Headmaster, Kingsley or her head of house. She knew it was Harry instinctively, kind Harry that wished and hoped that she would find her place in the Weasleys at Ron's side like he had with Ginny. Now both orphans he viewed them as his family, yet he would always defend Ron even to her his "sister"
"Harry sit down! I'm tired and cranky and I've missed lunch, tea and probably dinner as well, I have no time for this! Ron you are one of my best friends in the world, I don't expect you to understand but don't be an arse about it, you have Lavender, you never wanted me! Stop acting like Padfoot pissing on my leg!"
She turned her back, and trusted that Ron wouldn't try to hex her as she walked away, although the scowl on Professor McGonagall's face as she rounded on him made it clear he would have no time to hex her.
Severus cleared his throat
"May I suggest a wand oath to not speak of today's events to those not involved? Not long term mind you, and Minister you certainly would be waived I am sure the Auror Headquarters await your opinion on today, but until Miss Granger and I have a few days to speak of the consequences of today's actions, two months perhaps? Hermione needs time to familiarize herself with the mores and traditions of this wizarding customs since, as a muggleborn she was not instructed in some of the more arcane conventions."
Lucius gave a disapproving sniff,
"I have long said there is a great disservice done to muggleborns by not teaching them their wizard culture for Merlin's sake they live as wizards they should know these things."
Albus narrowed his eyes all twinkling long gone and opened his mouth to speak when a slight touch from Kingsley on his arm stilled his tongue, Poppy and Minerva looked at each other then Hermione both with looks of pity. Harry didn't care he would talk to Hermione, Ron was angry but also ashamed after being taken to task and nodded quickly his acceptance, he had other things to worry about his mother was going to lose it!
Kingsley's deep voice broke the silence
"Two months is too long Severus, a month to refrain from public discussion would be better broken at anytime that you both acknowledge the bond publicly within that time. I am sure the press has already gotten word of your new status and Hogwarts unusual behaviour, we will have to speak of it. Direct them to me I will give a statement."
He gave Severus a long look,
"We will need to meet to speak of these developments, but for now the oath."
Wands were produced and the oath made, Hermione looked at Severus, only those involved today. He'd made sure to keep Draco in the loop, she wondered what her future held, two husbands dear Merlin what had she done? Two husbands!
It was clear Draco loved Severus, would he come to love her? Would she love them? She held great apprehension at this future. She had leapt guilt and the urge to make everything right doing most of the thinking. She stayed wrapped in her thoughts as the Professors spoke to Kingsley, and Lucius insinuated himself into the conversation, the Headmaster arguing some point which she had no interest in since Severus through the link seemed disinterested. Lucius stood next to Severus' chair and she saw Draco in 30 years, her Light and her Darkness they would be. So lost in thought she missed when Harry came along side her and started to speak, it was only when he touched her arm she looked towards him startled, Severus eyes were on them.
"I'm sorry Harry you said something?"
His worry was stark on his face, his green eyes flicked to her,
"I was worried Hermione! You're sure you are ok"
"Are you still going to your house tomorrow after the graduation party? You know Grimmauld Place always has room for you, you don't have to be alone, and you don't have to do this." He looked meaningfully at Professor Snape.
She smiled again and wrapped him in a hug,
"Harry I need to figure this out and staying on neutral ground is probably for the best, plus I've had my fill of Mrs Black screaming, and Molly well I don't know what she will say after Lav and Won Won tell her their news, I know she hoped we'd... anyway let me tell the Professor I'm leaving and you can come back to the head's room and we'll talk yeah?"
Harry watched her cross the sitting room to the tall dark man, he respected the Professor, he had saved them countless times, none of them would be here without him. Harry sighed his issues with the Professor now seemed childish, and petty. But Snape was so dark Harry wondered how Hermione would survive. They were the smartest and bravest people he knew, intelligent and loyal to a fault, maybe that would help them find an answer to ending this bond, or making it work if what everyone said was true, there was no way out.
Severus turned away from the terse group as Hermione started towards them, Lucius nodded to him and slipped from the room he didn't care where the Granger girl spent the next few months, or if she would still apprentice to Severus. The Order took care of their own, she was not his problem.
His voice ran over her warmth and safetly,
"I am going back to my rooms Sir, I need to finish pack and prepare for tomorrow"
He gave a sharp nod
"I would like to speak to you next week sometime if possible?"
"I'll be at my parents home Sir."
They nodded to each other, accepting their complicity.
He turned from her speaking to the room at large,
"I must speak to my Slytherins, I'm sure you all know your way out."
He walked into his bedroom to prepare for his visit, Hermoine scampered to Harry's side desperate to not be caught in the clutches of her head of house or the headmaster and Ron despite his anger joined them, the trio quickly fled the room as Kingsley asked to speak to the Headmaster and their Head of House turned her eyes to them.
In the head girl's suite they flopped to the floor, Whimble appeared bowing low and deposited a large tray of food and tea on a nearby table,
"I'll pack the Lady's things" and winking out of sight.
"Blimme Hermione, you are really Lady Snape?"
Ron was looking slightly green
"I'm Lady Prince I guess?"
Hermione cut him off
"Because he didn't deserve to die Ron!"
Ron had the grace to look ashamed and shrugged, he opened his mouth to speak and closed it before finally saying
"You are right it's just, it's Snape Moine, Snape! You are bonded to Snape! Oh Merlin on a blast ended skrewt you are married to Snape, you'll kill each other!"
The small group burst into laughter that settled into contemplative thought.
Hermione spoke first,
"Ron I'm sorry about outing you and Lavender."
"It alrite Mione I couldn't hide a baby now could I? And I was a right prat anyway it's just well it's Snape! Oi are those mince pies?"
He took off to the table and Hermione and Harry followed, everything forgiven.
Chapter 8: Yours Severus
Slytherins were a collected bunch, their Head of House turning up looking years younger after becoming a Lord, while glamour was ripped from him, then school cocking up right after, they could handle.
Him resigning his position and leaving guidelines to be passed on to future Syltherins along with strict rules to contact him should they need him, pish! this was nothing they had lived thru the days of the Dark Lord, they took the news magnanimously almost to a one, there were a few tears here and there, students who he'd protected and helped but he made sure to note he was only an owl away should any of them need him, and they believed him.
As Professor Snape billowed from the room calling for "Mr Malfoy to see me in my office" the room dissolved into chatter.
Draco left behind the Potion Master slipping from between Blaise and Pansy leaving them discussing their trip to muggle London the following week.
Pansy was seeing a French halfblood and was leaving to study there, with her family decimated due to their small size and entrenchment in the death eaters it left her the last free member of the Parkinsons, a rich one at that with no one to answer to and no fears of being forced into marriage or anything else.
Blaise simply liked shopping in London, now his mother was taken with husband number eight and was off on her honeymoon he would be traveling. This would be the last time the three would be able to slip away together for a while, Draco pushed the logistics to the back of his mind and followed Severus.
Draco knocked and waited as the wards dropped, the sign to enter. Closing the door behind him he was glad to see the staid man standing in front of the desk, Draco remained silent as the wards returned and a muffilato cast. Severus looked at him with a small smile and he gratefully walked closer.
"So you meant to have me one way or the other Draco?"
"Yes..no, I don't know Severus! I had to do it, I had to help you"
A finger slipped over his lips silencing him
"I understand; I have a gift for you I would have given you it tomorrow but due to circumstances I believe this would be best."
The silver wrapped boxed passed from one's sure hands to the others trembling hands, Draco unwrapped it slowly, and opening the plain wooden box found a wand, he looked at it in awe.
"14 inches, mun ebony, double core of pegasus and dragon heart."
Draco's heart clenched,
"Touch it Draco"
He lay a single finger on it and it leaped into his hand, the wand veritably sang, he called for his patronus calling up his happiest memory, he was now bonded, he had a family!
"You will find it will find it will respond to you flawlessly, however it has less spring than your first, this has been made to stringent requirements to magnify to your strengths. Now come sit we must speak of Ms Granger."
"Hermione Severus, Hermione, Lady Prince, Mrs Snape if you will."
Severus sneered and nodded as they sat knee to knee on the settee, Draco spoke first
"I have a gift I would like to give her, I had it goblin made for mother but it came after...after"
He paused and took a breath
"I believe it to be good gift for a wife, may I send it to her?"
Severus looked at the young man he'd seen grow from a babe, who he would share the rest of his life with,
"Do as you feel led Draco, I am... inadequate as it comes to relationships, I believe you and Ms Gra .. Hermione must be comfortable with each other and in the end care for each other independent of how you feel about me. However you have now pointed out a great flaw in my newly acquired relationship, I have no gift for her. I had no idea I'd be in procession of a spouse further more two when I ordered your gift!"
Plum snorted from the side of the room where she and Couton were sitting waiting
"No gifts, no gifts the whole of the Prince wealth at his finger tips and he says he has no gifts, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, goblin mined blue garnet, paraiba, gold, platinum? What would you seek to give your wife my Lords?"
"If it helps the piece I had made for my mother is Goblin gold, a dragon of emeralds wrapped around a diamond with protections of course"
Plum looked from one to the other,
"emeralds and diamonds then my Lords? And rings?"
Severus paled, Draco sputtered
The old elf laughed as she apperated with a crack, leaving Severus to update Draco on the day and the time he had bought them with the oath
She returned minutes later bearing a jewelry box of fine gems, when paired with Draco's necklace they found what Draco considered suitable demi-parure of earrings, necklace, bracelet along with a few other pieces Draco deemed "Perfect!"which was quickly delivered to Whimble to give his Mistress, no rings however that statement could wait.
Draco asked for ink and parchment and scribbled off 3 letters handing them to Severus for his seal before he sent them off by Couton, Severus didn't ask he was acquainted with the stores Draco had sent the letters to, he only asked to send one final missive to Hermione when the flutter of activity died down, before he packed Draco back for his last night at Hogwarts.
Hermione awoke with a start, she felt full as if her body was going to be torn apart. Whimble appeared at the bottom of her bed
"Mistress? Lady Prince!"
Finally when she didn't answer the tiny elf levitated her placing her hands against the walls of her room and whispering to her softly as if she was a baby as the excess of power was drained into the castle, she sunk to the stone floor feeling Severus concern leak through and sent back what she hoped was reassuring emotions towards him.
"Mistress needs Masters."
She nodded wearily her eyes closed the elf was right the bond was a siren song calling her to go to Severus and Draco, instead she began reciting the 50 uses for lavender in sleeping potions as she breathed deeply feeling the power inside still its tumultuous roll, finally opening her eyes again Hermione was greeted by Christmas morning, she looked around gobsmacked, Whimble chirpped in a pleased little voice,
"The Masters have sent gifts"
"They've sent the whole of Diagon bloody Alley!"
"There's a letter Mistress."
She took the parchment and ripping the seal quickly.
Please excuse the munificence of our mutual amitie, it is done with a warm if inordinately lavish heart.
From the more sedate of your future household I hope that you will be pleased with your parure.
Please destroy this note.
Yours Severus, she held the parchment for a moment, then lit it with her bluebell flame which came quickly and with startling power devouring the note in the blink of an eye.
"Ok Whimble let's see what Santa Malfoy and Snape sent"
The elf sniff
"Prince Mistress, Prince you are all House of Prince"
Hermione decided silence was wise and reached for the top box in the stack, Christmas had come a full 6 months early.
When she was done Hermione held the emerald dragon on her hand running her finger over the inscription carved into the dragons body, "à la mère de votre petit dragon" To mother from your little dragon; Hermione wondered if Draco's mother had ever worn the piece, and how she would feel about her son giving it to a muggle born, but she recognized that he had given her something of great meaning and to refuse to wear it would be to reject him on some level, this was beyond a peace offering.
She slipped the chain around her neck the dragon settling between her breast, she snuggled him in the cup of her bra, there little dragon wasn't going anywhere, and looked at the other pieces; Slytherin evidently meant that your jewelry cried your house allegiance, dragons made of emeralds, snakes of gold, had they ever heard of understated? She slipped a simple bracelet on, gold with a single diamond braced in a pair of tiny snakes the rest she packed back up and sent to her trunk, no emerald snake earrings today.
At least the clothing was classic in styling and surprisingly muggle looking, clearly for her graduation the long minimalist gown was carmine silk with a high neckline and a beautiful drape to the back, the heels charmed so she wouldn't break her neck on the stairs, were a black silk peep toe pump.
There were underthings made of an unknown silk, the bra had almost no back to allow for the drape of her dress yet cradled her breast, the panties left no lines even under the smooth silk of the dress, a dragon hide leather wand holster meant to go around her leg when she wore no robes to slip the wand up her sleeve, charmed to slip into her hand thru whatever clothing she wore. There was no doubt in her mind Draco had set out to make sure she was the bell of the ball as she sat at the end of her bed petting the silk of the dress.
An hour later Hermione soaked in a bath scented of neroli and vanilla, sipping a cup of sweet oolong tea Whimble had pressed into her hand, as head girl the small private room had been a lifesaver when she returned to school, today she was even more grateful
The morning paper had come it's front page blaring, "Mystery At Hogwarts- Potions accident forces lock down!" underneath that "Dumbledore's Man new Lord Prince! Potions Master retires.", Rita of course had a field day running a picture of Snape in arm and leg irons from during his trial, while casting aspersions left, right and center. Hermione sighed and decided she would stay in her rooms while the younger students had breakfast and left. She could feel the echoes of Severus and Draco and as time went on the urge to go to them slowly became stronger, she'd fought it even as she wrote a quick thank you note and gave to her elf.
A knock on her door and Ginny barged in
"Oi Hermione where are you?"
Whimble appeared a shimmer in the corner of the room and she shook her head while answering
"In the bath Ginny!"
"Merlin's balls Hermione where did this dress come from? Are these La Nuit panties, ohh is this from Viktor then? Is he coming today? Blood hell you could have told me!"
Hermione wanted to just sink under the water, thank god she had Whimble pack away the jewellery and the rest of the dresses what comments would those have gotten her! She looked at the dragon between her breast and groaned, she'd need sticky charm to keep the robe closed for sure.
"No Viktor isn't coming, give me a min I'll be out soon Ginny."
"Have you heard Ron and Lav Lav are getting married, first Bill and Phlegm now these two!"
A loud groan came thru the door way
"I hope the twins and Charley have better taste!"
Hermione thought better of it, she knew she shouldn't say anything but she couldn't help herself
"She's pregnant you know? She let Ron do the charm and he did it wrong or so she told Pav."
"Mum will kill him!"
Hermione gave a small smile and stood to start drying off.
Draco and Blaise were watching the last of the Slytherins leave, they had made sure there were no stragglers, given the first years all a talk on how to get to safety if they needed to, they were pretty sure they were muggle born and half bloods in Slytherin this year. They had not asked, the motto was once you were in they protected their own no questions asked and now they provided a network just incase they were fostering the next Dark Lord, Harry Potter or Severus Snape in their house, these kids would not find themselves left to abusers, they would have options.
"So Draco who's the piece? I saw the note, haven't seen you smile like that in a long time."
Draco nose flared Hermione was not a piece!
"She's is no piece Blaise, next week we'll talk about it."
"Alright then mate, just invite me to the wedding yeah?"
Wrapping his hand around his friend's shoulders.
"Sure Blaise, come on let's go get dressed, I'd like to get my scroll, drink some of Dumblebores horrendously cheap champagne and be gone from this infernal place!"
Severus was standing at the door of Hogwarts as the students tromped by slowly gazing at his face, quite a few had come up to him to thank him for all he had done! That was shocking, even more shocking was the beguiling looks some of the older females had given him, he'd already had one fourth year Ravenclaw try to slip him her address, he'd called Flitwick immediately and left him to deal with his wanton student. In a matter of minutes he would no longer a teacher, he couldn't be arsed to care about the morality of a puffed up Ravenclaw bint.
His mind was other places, a covert midnight trip with Plum to his new home had shocked him, held under Fidelius Charm it looked nothing like the dark monstrosity of his childhood as he had said aloud,
"Prince Hall is in Carmarthenshire South Wales"
Brightly lit a peek in the lower windows showed a beautiful welcoming home, Celia Prince clearly had a defined idea of what a home looked and felt like and it did not include allowing the mold to take over the brick, turning the house black with climbing vines, velvet drapery or cursed paintings that if you spoke to them as a half blood your lips bled, surprisingly it was bereft of tweed and toile also, things that he merely disliked rather than hated, but it was nice not to have his new home need redecoration immediately.
Plum had shown him around the house as they choose office spaces and dithered over the master bedroom's size and where Draco and Hermione would sleep, the elf not backing down that they would all sleep together of course!
There was a large basement waiting for a potions lab, the library was a treasure and when he was finished adding his private collection it would be one of the best collections of Potions and Dark Magic books in the country! There was a computer room Plum had rolled off facts about charms woven into the house that allowed the electricity to work with the magic, this would revolutionize their world if allowed electricity, television, internet, all were things of dreams to the wizarding world.
He left the house with a strange sense of pride of a woman he'd never met, only spent a few minutes speaking to her portrait, with her refusing all thanks before she had sent him off to look around, although when she had called Albus
"... a simpering mingebag working with half a wicket" she had gained his instant respect.
Ce as she liked to be called had spent the last years of her life hoping to bring the wizarding world to a new century and remove the fear of the muggle world, the Americans had done it why couldn't the British? He'd asked for her portrait to be moved to his office before he had left. He hoped for many conversations over the coming years.
Now standing at Hogwarts door watching the dunderheads leave he was surprised at the anticipation strumming through his body he'd always believed leaving Hogwarts would fill him with a great despair. Today he was devoid of much of his usually negative feelings, he had a home, he had a wife and a husband, money and a future, the clocked chimed 12 o'clock Severus Snape 23rd Lord Prince smiled shocking the last stragglers heading to their summer vacations, he was free.
Hermione was sick and tired of Ginny why had she said they could get ready for graduation together? Usually she wouldn't have minded spending this girl time together, getting dressed to go out with Ginny was usually delightful and fun filled, but after she had admitted the burly Bulgarian wasn't the one who who had sent her the dress and underwear Ginny had been relentless! Every few minutes Ginny would glance at her dress guess some random wizard, throwing names without rhyme or reason she utterly refused to stop guessing thinking it some exciting game.
Harry and Ron had peeped in and said their hello's reminded her she was invited to the party at the Burrows after the graduation reception and when Ginny turned her questions to them they quickly left; she'd disappeared for a few minutes and came back with the Patil twins who after a good look at the dress given their two sickles, a older man definitely a rich one! Snickering their congratulations they left the room and Hermione turned to a laughing Ginny her mouth a tight line.
"I think you need to go Ginny."
Ginny sobered quickly, "We were just having fun Moine, Merlin ohh Hermione who is he?"
"No one! And if you can't respect that I am done!"
Ginny stilled truly looking at Hermione for the first time that day, Hermione looked like she had during the battle, powerful and strong. Ginny had no idea if she had ever seen anyone look as if they could truly devour her without a thought since first year. Suddenly a small elf popped up grabbed Hermione and twirled her to touch the wall, while sending Ginny the most disapproving looks while twittering away that Mistress shouldn't allow her witch friends to anger her so and she should send the little one away as Hermione shuddered her fingers grasping the bricks of Hogwarts.
After a few minutes Hermione stood up once again thanking the small elf and sending it away.
"Don't ask Ginny!"
Hermione nodded, Ginny gave her a considering look and chuffed.
"Ok. So can I do your hair?"
Hermione smiled recognizing it for what it was a piece offering.
Chapter 9: He's a Malfoy
The graduation had been tedious at best, filled with pompous speeches from wizards who had never trained their wands against a Death Eater, never stood up for what they said believed in, infact they had done nothing and left the war to the students many of whom were now gone!
Hermione had growled low in her throat at one moment startling Ron and Harry, her anger must have traveled thru the bond, Severus has raised a single eye brow and sent soothing emotions and undisguised amusement though the bond.
There was the moment as she went to the podium to give her valedictorian speech the Potions Master had offered her his hand on the steps and Draco had offered her a hand down, both instances sending murmurs through out the hall.
Ron muttered to her as she sat
"Oi what's up with Malfoy?"
Harry had whispered in reply
"Well he is Snape's godson."
They had nodded to each other, clearly Malfoy was only following his godfather's lead it was that simple. She rolled her eyes and caught McLaggen smiling at her again, when would this be over?
Dumbledore was giving another toast did the blighter ever shut up? Draco stood beside his father looking from Severus who was standing next to Dumbledore with his lip curled in a half sneer, to Hermione who one of the the Weasley's was keeping in conversation while keeping the panting masses of Hogwarts newly graduated males at bay. He wasn't sure which Weasley until he turned his head ahh the curse breaker, the scar across his face was striking.
"You seem to be paying much attention to the mudblood? She is impeccably adorned but do not forget what she is Draco!"
Draco turned to his father
"Muggle born father, remember that or you may find yourself locked in strife of your own creation"
"You dare to correct me?"
"Don't wait up for me father, I find myself of mind to spend the night in London."
Walking away as Lucius spluttered in indignation, Draco was ready to leave, now!
Hermione watched Draco walk out of the Hall, she was sure he was going to the lake, now if only she could get away. Since entering the reception she had been besieged by her male classmates and even some of the guest, apparently it took one dress, a pair of heels and some makeup for them to realize even with brains she was a female and now they were vying for her attention. Which is where Ron's brothers had come in, first Charlie and Harry, then Fred and George, and now Bill, they had taken turns fondling their wands and being increasingly rude to any male who came close, after Hermione had wandlessly hexed a rather fresh Hufflepuff who had tried to run a finger down her spine as she walked past.
She smiled at Bill and made her goodbyes, lying blithely. Knowing he believed she was going to meet what ever man had prodded her to dress so femininely. Ducking into the crowd she spied Harry besieged by the guest, and smiled ruefully as Cormac tried to track her while she caught the sour faced potions master's eye.
The Professor had said a short insincere toast of thanks, and was now standing next to the Headmaster sneer in place with the still full glass of champagne that he had started the evening with. As curious parents and ministry officials asked about his future, his face and the Prince legacy. He answered in half truths, and out right lies; while Dumbledore stood next to him seething. Severus watched Draco and finally Hermione leave, the back of that damn dress causing a tightening in his pants.
It was an hour later that Severus finally extricated himself from the clutches of those in the hall and found himself next to the lake, the giant squid raised up took one look at him and sank back to the bottom as a small charmed paper airplane whizzed around his head and took off to a stand of trees to his left where he found his bond mates sitting under a tree sipping champagne, while the three elves shared a bottle of butterbeer.
Hermione and Draco were sitting hip to hip and Severus felt as he came close the bands of elf magic slough off, it felt right the sudden awareness of the pair of young people who were toasting and speaking low among themselves.
"Are you all trying to become intoxicated?"
Draco looked at him peevishly raising an immaculate eyebrow and banished the bottles and glasses, standing as Severus offered Hermione a hand to help her to her feet.
"You've just cost me a first edition Pure and Defined Charms Severus! My most grateful thanks. Can we please leave now?"
Severus, smirked, nodded and opened his arms, they stepped into him, his elegant robes closing around them as he disapparated them away.
They landed smoothly in an open field, Severus released them although Hermione, and Draco both were much slower to let him go until he stepped out of the circle of their arms.
"Repeat after me, Prince Hall is in Carmarthenshire South Wales"
Hermione gasped as the house appeared, it was beautiful! A three story great country house of white brick, the path was lined with roses atleast 20 different types, all different colours in full bloom, scenting the air with a multitude of notes of myrrh, spice, citrus, sweetly fruity all the fragrances melding into one of rose. Closer to the door jasmine, the magical variety, sweeter, heavy with lemon merged with the rose unseen but obvious.
Couton stood at the door opened wide in welcome, at his side a tiny female elf trembling in anticipation a bunch of sanguineous roses in hand almost as big as she was, she bobbed a curtsy as Hermione stepped in presenting her the roses in a courtly gesture while her fragile childlike voice sang out
"Welcome Lady Prince."
"Please call me Hermione"
The elf flushed in pleasure,
"Yes Lady Hermione."
Hermione didn't even bother correcting her, as she turned to Severus and Draco the elf bobbing in curtsey again,
Couton gave a low flourished bow
"Welcome to Prince Hall Lords and Lady Prince we are filled with joy to serve."
17 other elves popped up behind him and bowed, the 3 newest members of the house all went for their wands (Severus's was actually in hand) out of pure habit, stopping when they realized that they were looking at 17 pairs of bright trusting eyes.
Plum next to Severus started introductions and from there was a tour of the house, two hours later when they collapsed at the sumptuously laden dining table brains reeling with elf names Mupmus? Hihuhi? There would be some control with the naming from now on! Laughing at Draco's levitating Hermione out of the library; and the resulting hexing of his hair Weasly red, which Severus refused to lift telling them to work it out between themselves. They were generally delightfully surprised at how good they had gotten along, Severus hadn't insulted or snarled, Draco made any insensitive comments, nor Hermione question them unceasingly. They were each quite pleased.
It was the dessert course they were all tip toeing around the inevitable end of the night, praising the triple chocolate torte with strawberry and rose puree, Harry's patronus galloped in stopping at Hermione's side
"Oi you are late, don't make us come get you! Get out of the books, Snape can't kill you if you don't study!" with a bawdy laugh.
"Oh Merlin" Hermione lowered her head to her hands
"You know we are all invited to the Burrow for the party, Mrs Weasley been doting on me since the final battle I guess switching sides and all." He shrugged
"I'll go with you, I'd just need to leave early to pop in Pans party, you can come back here if you'd prefer not to go to London."
Hermione looked from Draco to Severus, one nervous, the other irritated contemplating hours with a house full of her friends and the Weasleys, the later pinched his nose. The bond tugging at whatever was left of his heart, he wanted to make her happy, if she had to choose it would be difficult for her. This fucking bond was going to cost him his reputation!
"I am leaving for the Burrow in half an hour, should you care to join me it maybe appropriate to change"
They made a mad rush for the door, Draco bossily telling Hermione what she would be wearing.
Fourty eight minutes, two threats of leaving, and after returning Drcao's hair to it's pale glory when he refused to step out of the house as "a ginger menace" they apprated from the front door to the Burrow. Draco flirting shamelessly with Hermione in her blue sequinned dress and strappy heels, as Severus held them in his arms for side long.
The youngest Weasly squealed running towards Hermione as soon as they apparated
"Morgan le Fay's pink panties Hermione you look amazing! Goodnight Professor, Draco, if you find my dad you'll find the firewhiskey! Don't drink the punch Charlie, the twins, Seamus and Dean have all gotten to it! You'll be pissed in half a glass and probably turn into something with feathers."
She spun around taking Hermione who gave a apologetic glance over her shoulder.
"So Hermione Draco huh? Don't say anything I know the oath, But I expect all the dirty details at some point.
Ohhhhhhh you missed Won Won dropping to one knee and proposing it was sickeningly sweet, now she and the Parisian princess have gone off to the living room to look at magazines, and her mother and mine are held up next to them trying to plan it as quickly as possible so they can lie and say the baby comes early!"
The girls laughed as Harry came around the corner with Andromeda carrying Teddy
"You're finally here, good! Fred and George just set up the dance floor outside and I've got Sirius's record player!"
He laughed as he swung her in a hug and she laughed with him.
"Hullo Teddy!" She cooed at the baby giving Andromeda a small smile; it was still very disconcerting to see Bellatrix face sad as Mrs Tonks often looked, even with her kinder eyes. They all snickered as Teddy's hair colour became a pale Malfoy blond, which turned into a full blown laugh as he turned both his hair and eyes soot black, she wheeled to see Severus and Draco coming up the incline behind her.
"So Teddy you think the Professor is interesting?"
"It would appear so Miss Granger if only marginally more so than Malfoy."
Teddy giggled at Severus's voice, babbling unintelligibly with a large drool filled smile reaching his little hands out to the austere man who accepted the little boy without question.
"Hello young Mr Lupin."
Hermione's heart melted just a little, she could feel Draco yearn for Severus to hold his child in the same way, tears blossomed she blinked them away, nodding as Ginny whispered
"I will never get over how much Teddy likes him"
She smiled as Andromeda, Severus carrying Teddy and Draco moved towards the house leaving her with Harry and Ginny
Severus walked on carrying Remus's son, Draco babbling to the child in baby talk. He reminded himself to have a talk with Andromeda later, it would be good if Draco had someone who could tell him about his mother's life before she had bonded to Lucius.
Teddy's hand flailed swatting him in the nose, he looked at the boy
"Yes Mr Lupin?"
More unintelligible bubbles and laughter, he chuckled
"Yes Mr Lupin I quite understand."
Draco his aunt's arm held in the crook of his arm giggled, a sound Severus wondered if he would ever hear from his lips after everything he had been through, it was good he was healing.
They continued to the house, Albus and Rupert stood with Kingsley, and Gawain Robards. Albus looking from him to Draco with a smirk probably believing he now had some type of leverage against him, Rupert scowled as if Severus had buggered Albus at the alter in the middle of their bonding instead of resigned, Kingsley nodded, Gawian gave him a proud smirk, Slytherin Pride.
He acknowledged them with a nod of his own and a curt
"Good night gentlemen" as he went inside, where was that fire whiskey?
Outside the music was going and the punch was flowing, Hermione stood to the side of the crowded makeshift dance floor sipping butterbeer watching Harry and Ginny simultaneously grind on each other and spin like crazy people. There was a ravenclaw girl on Neville's arm, and every few minutes they would try to remove each others tonsils. She was pretty sure the twins had disappeared into the stand of trees about a hundred meters away with one of the Patils' cousins who was visiting. She smiled as Luna came traipsing up, they traded greetings Hermione commenting on Luna's pretty pale yellow dress and lemon earrings, Luna looking at Hermione smiled brightly tipping her head to one side
"Your aura is beautiful Hermione! I think you will be very happy, they both need you in their own ways, and no nargles to worry about!"
And then she was spinning off to the dance floor leaving Hermione open mouthed in shock after her.
Draco had been pressed into the marriage planning conversation, nothing against Molly she was a lovely woman, but it was clear Mrs and Miss Brown along with the younger Mrs Weasly wanted to plan a different type of wedding than what Molly had in mind when it came down to it, plus after she'd said the wedding would be "right out back where the party is now" Mrs Brown's left eye started to twitch, and Miss Brown teared up and said she wanted an indoor wedding like muggle church but magical.
Draco with Teddy asleep in his arms lessening the chance that Molly would hex him immediately, asked if they had every visited McBruntwich castle, stain glass everywhere just like muggle church! An indoor apparation point to keep out the unwanteds, a lovely ballroom and best of all, ministry of magic owned, the rental fee was nominal!
Severus across the room in conversation with Gawain, had watched and listened as Draco had turned what he was sure was going to disintegrate into a hexing battle between the mothers of the intended and smoothly create an ideal that left all parties happy and smiling at the pale young man.
Gawain standing cross from him sipping his firewhiskey had smiled in appreciation, "Think he'd be open to working for the Ministry? The social secretary in my office is a horrible troll with no tack rather like you Severus just short and grey haired" Severus shrugged
"You'd have to ask him"
Gawain called to Draco and directing him to the side where they could talk without interruption, leaving Severus standing alone.
"Severus a word?"
Oh Merlin Minerva.
"Come to threaten me Minerva?"
She had the grace to look ashamed
"I'm sorry Severus, is that what you want to hear? I was wrong again."
Severus looked at her he found it hard to be considerate in light of everything she had done and not over the years.
"No Minerva that's not what I want to hear, in reality I don't know why you are bothering to apologize because the next time something happens you again will be one of the first to believe me evil. You've deluded yourself, in your mind I have always be complicit in my suffering, you never protected me as a student, never had confidence in me as a fellow educator, nor trusted me as a fellow order member. I find myself not caring if you hold me in regard at this time or any other, Albus didn't trust you either."
She looked at him her eyes hard yet melancholy.
"No matter what you believe I did my best Severus!"
"Tell that to Hermione Minerva."
The witch turned and fled, Molly gave him a disgusted look and went after her.
"Very good Severus, you've finally succeeded in making Minerva cry!"
Severus turned, anger bitter tangible flowed thru the bond, Draco across the room raised his head, Hermione outside started towards the house, something was wrong!
"What do you want Albus?"
"Oh nothing my boy"
"I am not your boy!"
"Severus come now you must know I care for you?"
Severus looked at the man he'd once thought of as a father, who had lied to him for the entire time he'd known him, allowed him to be tortured by the Dark Lord, who had stripped him out of every penny he'd work for, all his hard work for naught. Albus who had kept his power from him, he was enraged!
His power undulated within him, he wanted to hurt him like he had been hurt, he wanted to tear the room apart, then he felt them Hermione and Draco, one said I respect you , the other I love you, both said we have a future and his anger waned, he took deep breaths.
"Albus you care for me like a dog cares for where it pisses, Minerva cared for me as long as I was your lap dog, if that snake had killed me I would have been given a portrait and not nary another thought!"
His voice pitched resonant much like he did in class,
"Who sought me out that night Albus? A child! Miss Granger! Who doctored me that night Albus? A child! It was Hermione who at wand point forced my medical care, my sanctuary! She was coming back for me thinking me a murderer when she saw you and shamed you into coming! It was Draco freed from prison who sat at my bedside, who visited me in Azkaban while you head of the Wizengamot allowed me to sit imprisoned for your murder, murder of a man very much living. Oh sorry not murder, erroneous the use of an unforgivable it was? Do you think me as insipidly gormless as the rest of the wizarding world Albus. One word and I would have been released yet you didn't speak until the very end!"
Albus lips thinned
"Severus this is better spoken within the order"
Every eye in the room was on them, Minerva teary eyed stood at the kitchen door, Molly beside her, Kingsley, Gawian and Arthur all with their glasses in hand looking from him to the Headmaster. Andromeda stood on the lower rungs of the stairs. Rupert with the Brown family along with Ronald, and the half veela wife of the were bitten Weasly and lastly Draco in the door way Hermione at his side.
Severus looked around the room, shame, distress, every physical representation of shock possible.
"Order? This is order business? Did you tell them Headmaster? Did you sit and plan with them to steal my patents? To sell my home? To empty my vault? To leave me dead or a paupered with no choice?"
Gasps, murmurs, so they weren't apprised of Albus's actions.
"If you care for me Albus, I beg you make me an enemy, you cared more for them than you ever had me but know this, I want nothing to do with you! I abhor everything you stand for, you sent me to my death, Potter to his, how many hundreds of children? You are no better than Tom Marvolo Riddle ever was, both of you were megalomaniac bastards. Tom was just patulous with his hunger for power."
He turned sweeping from the house, Draco and Hermione behind him, he felt her guilt at bring them here tonight, he felt the bond wanting to reassure her, but not here not now! He kept going turning only when his long strides crossed the boundary and they came to him folding themselves around him; he turned disapparating them.
They landed in an alley way London somewhere from the sound, none of them letting go, Severus cleared his throat
"Hermione I'm sorry I ruined..."
"Did the Headmaster really take everything from you"
"Why didn't you say something?"
"Who would have acted? The Wizengamot? I spoke to Gawian but there was nothing he could do and now it's over, I spoke my piece there is nothing more to say."
Draco held him tight, he placed a chaste kiss on each of their foreheads.
Draco snuggled him close.
"I don't think Pans will mind if I skip tonight, I think we need to be away from the wizarding world for a while"
Draco gave his bond mates a considering look, Hermione was perfect in her blue sequins and pretty heels, hair delicately curled down her back, her make up light, Severus now he hummed no this would not do! He pulled his wand out daring Severus to say no as he started to transfigure his robes, black 3 piece suit, charcoal grey shirt, black tie, he left his boots, to muggles they'd look like any exotic skin shoe. Before running his hand along his clothing, keeping his shoes, black pants, black shirt, slim black tie, blue velvet jacket.
He flashed them a wicked smile as he lead the way out of the alley
"I think we need to go toast to new beginnings."
Hermione looked at Severus
"Does he always think alcohol is the best way to deal with problems?
Severus shook his head his voice pitched low as he gave a tight smile.
"No not all problems, he believes in friendly coercion, extortion, hexing and cursing in that order, he's a Malfoy."
Chapter 10: I want to taste
If Hermione had made a bet she'd end her night in London in a muggle bar, music playing sandwiched between Draco and Severus she would have lost every sickle she had betting against herself,
But here they were surrounded by muggles, Draco looking very comfortable wiggling his bum, singing madly along off tune. When had he found time to learn the lyrics to Livin La Vita Loca?
Severus with several single malts in him had slowly started to unwind, even sharing a story with them of going to a pub with Lucius in their youth which had ended with Lucius slapped, and the bouncer chucking him out ass over tea kettle.
Hermione realized how little she knew of these men as she snuggled into Draco's the more openly affectionate of the pair arms, while holding Severus's hand under the table; the bond sated at the touch. She was sure there had been looks, after her third glass she had soundly kissed Severus on the lips, whispering apologies for perceived or actual wrongs he was unsure, lighting him on fire? Yes. Not standing up to the boys enough? She could hardly be held accountable for the dunderheaded pair's idiocy! At the fifth drink, a vile green concoction named sex on the golf course which contained atleast five different liquors mixed at the heavy handed bartender's fancy, she had tired to stand to toast to her husbands but Severus had threatened to hex her with the tarantallegra. So she had snogged Draco instead. She was pretty sure their fellow bar patrons thought them some kinky threesome which was true to a point, and besides she'd never see any of them again anyway
Five hours later they were pissed, well Draco and Hermione were, Severus was no more drunk than he had been after his first drink, a little more open, but no singing or dancing, Draco had patted him down looking for sobering potion, there was none the man had an amazing ability to consume liquor, and not show a hit of inebriation!
The bar was at last call the other patrons ordering final rounds when Severus had made it known it was time to leave. They, Draco and Hermione that is, had stumbled out of the bar draped around Severus who had navigated them to a alley tucked them close to him and apparated them to Prince Hall, fed them a potion of his creation that would ward off their impending hangovers, and tucked them into bed before climbing in himself.
Draco awoke to breast against his back, he slowly peeked where was he? Whose breast and soft breath was against his back? White drapes, white bedding, a hotel? Why was he at a hotel? He heard a door close, surreptitiously reaching for his wand he sat up to a very amused Severus,
"Would you like some wit sharpening potion? You seemed a tad disoriented."
Draco sneered at him
"No I feel quite well, better than I should, thanks"
Severus smirked and started to dress giving Draco the view of his back.
Outside the door Couton, Plum and Maize stood, Plum's face was grim
"They haven't sealed the bond."
Maize huffed, wizardkin was too damn temperamental, waiting until the last minute to do what needed to be done, unwilling to cull from the start.
"Give them food for the day and seal the suite!"
Couton's large eyes bulged even more
"But Masters and Mistress.."
"Are taking too long Couton! What we do has limits and they test them, 3 days! The old ways, 3 nights not the hours they use, today is the last day! Get the food Plum and I will take it to them."
Couton looked to Plum who nodded, he wasn't old enough to know these things, these secrets kept by his elders, he deferred to them on this, and left for the kitchen.
Hermione awoke to the bond singing through her body with desire. Draco's desire she tasted it on her lips sweet with heat, pepper jelly, so unlike yesterday's waking feeling of immense anguish as the power struggled to be released. Maybe Whimble had been correct she needed her bond mates, severing them from her consciousness in the bond clearly had deprived them of a flow where she atleast could function fully in all situations. She'd have to ask Severus. It was then she realized they were talking, Draco was telling Severus about Gawian she guessed he meant the head of the Aurors and a job he'd been offered, and she was warmed when he said he needed to wait on her so they could all discuss the impact, when Severus spoke.
"Gryffindors, how they lack any sense of stealthy manner, and you Hermione I am ashamed pyromania, pilfering, a violent streak a mile wide Dolores Umbridge can attest too and you can't pretend to sleep worth a damn!"
Hermione sat up, the sheets slipping down to her waist, unknowing giving them the view of her dusky nipples through the pale pink of her nightgown.
"I wasn't listening to your conversation I'll have you know, I was laying here thinking."
Draco sitting at the end of the bed turned to her,
"About what Gran.."
He never finished her name, she felt his awareness of her as his desire for her blossomed the heat waned, whatever he felt for her lacked the bite of what he felt for Severus she realized to him she was sweeter with an astringent after taste, she licked her lips pomegranates, his desire for her was flavoured like pomegranates.
She wondered if they tasted anything when she looked at them. She had never thought of them sexually before, Draco was attractive, and no matter his ethical standings for the first 6 years she'd known him she would grant him that. She may not have given a thought of him in that way, but she could acknowledge his attractiveness.
And Severus Snape, the man had animal magnetism. He prowled, he snarled, watching him duel was a thing of elegant deadly beauty. His eyes when he looked at you, truly looked at you, it was as if he flayed your skin found your soul gazed at it and found it sorely lacking. Yes Snape, she had thought about him once as she rubbed herself to completion after someone, Ron, had pointed out that Viktor wasn't that attractive just a younger Severus Snape. She had thought about it and found it not disgusting. Severus Snape's power even then unattainable to her, but there had been a tangible draw to the sour man. There was something about the bastard that made several girls in her year wonder just what that focused passion directed at them would feel like, but then he'd snarled at her in potions the next morning taking fifty points, and that fantasy became fleet footed.
Severus cleared his throat and threw Hermione a robe,
"We should go down for breakfast."
"Or we could eat in bed"
The look that crossed his face clearly said that he would prefer to eat the food off of a body of his choosing rather than plates.
Severus's nose flared "Don't be vulgar Draco."
"I disagree Severus I'm certainly not vulgar, I am however hedonistic!"
He gave a wicked smile and wiggled his eyebrows, Hermione couldn't help it she broke into gales of laughter.
The knock on the bedroom door was soft, the door whisked open the elves not waiting to be given permission, Severus thought he'd have to have a chat with them on this rudeness, when a table, chairs and matching sideboard appeared replacing the comfortable reading area in the sunlit corner of the room and platter after platter topped with doomed silver cloches were floated onto them. Behind the food came Plum, and Maize stern faced, the three wizards looked at each other, they were being given the look as if they were errant children caught sneaking a snack before their meal in the kitchens of Hogwarts, they had definitely done something wrong.
Severus sneered "Really all of this food for breakfast, we shall be corpulent in months if you continue to feed us thusly."
Plum smiled, but Maize flicked her finger and they found their lips sealed, then she spoke
"It is good then Potions Master that we have no intentions of feeding you so much, that is your meals for the day, prepared and perfect."
The little elf looked at the three, shaking her finger
"Three days we tell you and you spend your 2nd night in your cups! This bond will be sealed today! There sits your breakfast, lunch, tea and supper, you will not leave this room until the bond is sealed or the Potions Master is dead"
She flicked her finger an assortment of wines, and beverages appeared on the sideboard.
"You are lucky tonight the moon wanes gibbious, but when it rises red in the sky and you have not bonded you shall die Potions Master, don't take too long to make up your mind the young Lord and Lady may want to leave if your choose death, our stories say the pain is of a thousand deaths."
Maize looked at them one final time and left the room, Plum approached touching each wizard unsealing their lips, ignoring their questions. She looked at them with large, kind wet eyes and closed the door behind her.
They sat at the table silent, Severus refusing to look them in the eye, Draco folded in on himself sipping sweet milky tea, Hermione looking between them understanding that something had passed between these two and she had no idea what.
"What am I missing?"
Severus stayed statue like in his haughty refusal to communicate, Draco looked at her with sad eyes,
"He's prepared to die rather than have us complete the bond"
"No one is that stupid Draco, least of all Severus Snape he gave us his word and he will bloody well keep it, or he won't need to wait for the power to kill him!"
The threat was clear, Draco gave her a considering glance. The Potions Master swivelled slowly, power started a slow crawl down her spine settling at the base.
"I am not prepared to die, I am" he paused, "concerned for your futures, at what the world will say."
Hermione bit her lip.
"That you gave me a potion? That I'm a Death Eaters whore? That I fucked you for my grades? That I'm fucking Malfoy for his money? I don't care! I made a commitment to you and I am keeping my word!"
Draco shrugged, "I'm already a traitor twice over, I don't care what people think."
He grabbed a muffin his appetite back, flashing a wicked smile
" Hermione will you be Granger-Malfoy-Snape? Or Malfoy-Snape?"
Severus scoffed and in a reasonable mimic of the pitched voice most elves spoke with said.
"Prince my Lord you are all Prince."
They shared a comfortable laugh.
Hermione looked from Severus to Draco, how could they all 3 do this? Freshly showered and dressed in what Draco believed to be suitable virgin deflowering wear that or high priced courtesan wear she wasn't going to ask which he'd modelled her lingerie after, she sat on the side of the bed plucking at the lace edge of her robe, the charmed vial to hold her virgin blood was on the night stand, she was about to have sex! With Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy! Her mind wandered over the logistics of 3 people in bed and she paled.
It was Draco who spoke first
"Stop thinking so much Granger...Hermione."
He sat next to her gingerly running finger along the lace edge of her chemise looking at her with an entirely open facial expression, eyes weary, waiting for her to pull away. The bed on the other side dipped, and Professor Snape, oh god would she always think of him in unguarded moments as that! Severus approached her from the other side, he held himself stiffly
"You do not have to do this Miss Granger."
She looked from Draco's pale grey into his black fathomless eyes
"I want to."
And it was true she wanted this what ever it was, them the light and the dark. Severus released the tight control of the bond they had no clue he had been holding, leaving her and Draco breathless, panting puppy like for breath and watched them. His eyes holding more promise than she ever knew eyes could hold.
Draco kissed her demurely holding himself back, then hugged her
"Go to him, he won't make the first move"
He said said it aloud for Severus to hear he didn't care. Hermione looked at the dark man dressed in black, and beckoned him with a finger. They met half way, the kiss soft, gentle, her tongue tracing his lips, his lips barely whispering over hers. Draco sighed behind her, wrapping his arms around her, ghosting his fingers over her breast, she deepened the kiss spurned on by Draco and the emotions he was pushing through their bond; Severus moved, one hand held her cheek, the other met Draco's hand on a breast over her chemise. She didn't know who was holding, and whose fingers traced circles around her nipples as she felt her desire unfurl. Draco moaned the hand holding her breast tightened and the one tracing the nipple began to roll it softly between fingers, she broke the kiss looking into onyx eyes
"Too much Hermoine?"
That voice was illegal!
They stilled, then moved as one, predators hunting. Her robe and chemise were gone in the blink of an eye, if she was thinking clearly she would have looked for a wand, she would have reached for the sheet to cover her body, she would have done something; but then she was pushed back against the plush bedding, Severus's dark head slipped between her legs. Draco smiled as he slipped down her body and breathed across her nipple, anticipation sped her heart, together they devoured her.
Draco laved her nipples, then blew warm breaths across them, a tongue flicked it's way up and down her inner thigh and backup again pausing at her inner labia, Severus breathed teasingly across her clitoris and she raised her hips, a breathless "please"
Severus laughed and parted her lips, running his tongue up her slit and over her clitoris, her body alight with sensations. The first tug of her clit between Severus' tongue and the top of his mouth she felt the deep throb intensify. He slipped a single finger inside, patting the roughness of her gspot with the pad of his finger. Her entire body trembled at each touch of the tiny spot inside of her, Hermione felt a warming rush starting at the base of her spine, climb. She tried to speak but the words were an incoherent mess, higher level functioning gone she growled, hips lifting off the sheets grinding against Severus's face, she came, and light shattered.
Flush from her orgasm, legs still shaky and more than a little breathless Hermione lifted her head to Severus's hooded gaze between her legs, his lips still moist from her juices, she blushed
"I didn't know. That was amazing!"
"It gets better."
Severus sat up, his thumb gathering her juices from his lips in fluid movement
"No! I want to taste her on you."
Draco sat very still waiting on Severus finger still touching his lips for an answer, the later who tilted his head slightly giving Draco a considering look then a small sharp nod.
Draco crawled to Severus slowly as if not believing he'd said yes, settling on the side of Hermione leaving Severus between her still splayed legs.
He started on the thumb first, his first lick was tentative, accompanied by a moan, running his tongue from base to tip it seemed much more phallic like watching him. When Severus tipped his head up with one finger under his chin, the blond bleed desire so strong Hermione moved to pull her legs closed, but they pinned her legs open as her need scented the air. Draco didn't move, he let Severus dominate every movement of the kiss until they broke apart and he laid tiny kitty like licks on Severus lips.
"Premièrement, notre Hermione, puis je vous prendrai mon amour "
The younger man shuddered, his eyes fluttered closed
Hermione looked between the two men,
"You do know I speak french?"
Draco opened his eyes,
"Vraiment? Bon. Je veux regarder Severus, Va te faire foutre, je tiens à vous regarder orgasme comme il vous comble. Comprenez-vous que notre Hermione?"
He started a slow crawl up her body
"Did you understand that Hermione?"
She nodded, her eyes watching him, the silk of his pants gliding on her legs.
"What do you understand Hermione? I want to hear you say it."
"Severus is going to make love to me."
Draco looked her in her eyes and laughed.
"Yes I suppose he is, but what about me Hermione? What will I do?"
It was a dare, what was the opposite of making love? Hermione's cheeks blazed red,
He kissed her passionately, one hand tangled in her hair and the other pressing on her mons, a finger rubbing her clit, she moaned into his mouth. With her eyes closed her nose filled with the scent of Draco, and Severus, leather and spice.
Hermione understood the bond in that moment, she felt it and knew what no book written would ever say, it was a ravenous beast knitted within each of them, in their magic, set out to make sure that they created a single soul, a single magic, a multi conscious oneness .
She would draw from Kants and Plato years later to explain what this dawning felt like, this ghostly entity that knew her better than she knew herself and laid her bare at her bond mates' needs, she understood she muggle born could have never comprehended the half of what this bond was if presented in words alone, no words could explain as she spread her legs, pleading, knowing that as he would sink into her they would be one, this second bonding would make whatever had happened in the dungeons of Hogwarts seem like a single flame in a forest fire.
Her eyes opened Severus replaced Draco above her,
"Forever? Always. I will see you both in my next life? Yes!"
He took her then one fluid movement breaking her maiden head and stilled, nuzzling her neck murmuring softly at her yip of pain filled surprise. He stayed unmoving letting the vial do it's job, the bond sang, magic crawled along her skin as she became accustomed to his size and his magic.
She looked for Draco as Severus began a slow rock, he sat at her head and she reached for him, he came.
"Look at him Hermione."
She did, Severus eyes were lidded to mere slits, naked his magic halo-ed his body, she looked at him tautly muscled, each movement sending thrills through her body, her eyes crept lower she watched his hips as he snapped them driving into her. Draco plucked a nipple, the magic arced between them, she arched her back and closed her eyes, they played her body and she whimpered as sensation after sensation lapped her body, he asked the question then in Latin
"Hiscine vinculo isto? Vis autem iudicium gratiam?"
Hermione's climax began it's roll through her body, she spoke breathless as she started to grind into Severus's thrust
The word left her mouth a rushing flame, hot, unstoppable, daring anything to stand against it and be whipped apart by it's power; she felt that same flame of power remake her magic, voiceless it called her witch powerful beyond measure, it called them wizard creation incarnate as it flared whipping screams from their throats. The power strummed soul deep and screamed for more, eating them alive with broad swaths of power.
Behind her closed eyes she saw two large cats play pouncing on each other, the smaller one looked at her and crept close, grey blue fur its eyes pale and cold hunter's eyes, it sniffed in her direction once, twice and ran back to the larger black tiger before running forward again sitting with its head on his paws watching her with a feline smile, the larger tiger prowled towards her lethal power radiating and sat at her feet chuffing, behind them in shadow a golden lioness stood, she never moved, the bond tightened and Hermione knew she had seen Draco's and Severus's animagus forms and potentially her own, she sank into a peaceful sleep a small smile on her lips.
Draco Malfoy was a snuggler, pressed between him and Severus, Hermione questioned her need to use the bathroom but her bladder reminded her quickly that it was master of its domain. She looked between them and choose the lesser evil, one eye carefully keeping Professor Snape in view she moved to poke Draco and heard Severus clearly say
"I'd prefer you didn't wake him."
But his lips didn't move!
He pursed his lips, giving her a look she's only seen previously used on horny hufflepuffs caught in rose bushes, Ron and Harry.
"The bond Hermione"
She gave a hopefully contrite look
"That look would only be effective if the bond were not so strong that I knew your only thought was of not relieving yourself in the bed."
She bushed deeply, scrambling over him and out of bed rushing naked to the bathroom.
"Lovely arse witch"
She shouted through the door
"Don't be vulgar Severus!"
"I am never vulgar I was merely complimenting you witch, while you are in there the vivid pink vial is yours to take for …... soreness"
Hermione fingered the empty vial, the incandescent drainings of the peppermint flavoured potion making small rainbows before putting it down and coming out, pink tinged at her nudity.
"How will I keep you out of my head?"
"Occlumency, pray that you are a more skilled student than Pot ..Harry, Draco is adequate, we can shield from you but it would be most appropriate if you could learn not to project every thought"
"Great praise from you for Draco."
"He learnt under a particularly stress-filled situation, Bellatrix teaching methods were often crude ... he is not unskilled."
Hermione remembered Draco's scarred body, his father, his aunt and the dark lord, how did he survive?
"His mother's love."
Severus rolled from the bed taking the time to slip into his pants, his face melancholy, Hermione didn't ask. She knew Bellatrix was mentally unstable at the best of times. Obviously he knew what Draco went through and it disturbed him, she could only imagine and preferred not to. She stood naked in pooled sunlight streaming thru the windows, finger tracing where her lover's aunt had once carved into her skin, and stared at the sleeping man.
Severus stood in the bathroom door minutes later looking at Hermione still standing watching Draco sleep, mind tumbling at how he at done it, how he'd survived how he had borne so much, silent tears making trails down her cheeks and on to her naked chest.
She stayed unmoving in her vigil, he came to her standing behind her his lips to her ear.
"Do you think he wants your pity witch? He survived, he lived, do you have tears to spare for Vincent Crabbe martyred to his father's hatred, too stupid to think for himself? Do you cry for Caeruleo Hopstiff?
She looked at him puzzled
"That name means nothing to you, nothing but the fact that he too lied to the Dark Lord saving my undeserving arse one night taking so many bouts of crucio he choked on his tongue and died, save your pity for those who didn't survive, for those who have nothing and no one.
Do you know Draco uses the Black legacy left from his mother and aunt to help provide for the children of the death eaters left orphaned? Cry for them, cry for children who were sired by rape and have no one, no magical family, a muggle mother who wishes never to see the eyes of her rapist abiding in the body of a child she bore. But do not be so disingenuous as to pity that man, he has fought too much in his short years to have a woman in his bed whose heart is softened by mere pity."
She didn't stop him when he turned leaving her alone in her self appointed vigil, she knew he was right pity had no place in a relationship.
Wine and a warm bath are amazing restoratives, Hermione sat in scented water to her chin languid limbed and relaxed, Severus hadn't bellowed about her "mental apocryphal snake that was threatening to send him to the Janus Thickey ward" for at least ten minutes, Draco sat at her feet reminding her to still her mind, "encase, keep within, do not allow any thing out."
She looked at him, his hair was brushing beyond his collar it was the longest she'd ever seen it. He held himself with a certain gravitas, long gone was the youthful arrogance she remembered from their first years at school, he carried his patrician looks well, then her apocryphal snake of a brain took off and she wondered aloud
"Draco have you ever been with … with another man?"
He looked at her quizzical, then something dawned and he smiled.
"You have no idea do you?"
She returned his questioning look
"Purebloods do not limit who you part take of sexual pleasure with, before you quote Molly Weasley to me you have to remember they have turned away from pureblood ideology and that would include the sexual aspects I believe"
Hermione sipped her wine
"So if it's acceptable to have a relationship with a man why are they so few same sex based relationships?"
"Well I know Albus"
"The second oldest Weasley?"
Draco laughed and stood water dripping from his body,
"Wait until I take you to the club."
"You never answered my question Draco."
"Oh you are smart enough Hermione, you'll figure it out at some point."
Tea was a light affair atleast what the elves had set out had been light relatively, a selection of scones, crumpets, clooted cream, treacle, jams, and fruit, then Draco and Severus got to it. The roasted leg of lamb that had been Hermione presumed for dinner had been sliced and placed back under stasis, heavy yeast rolls also part of the dinner menu and thick slices of tomato came together for a sandwich, Draco found an Argentina malbec declared it "decent" and poured glasses, the tea in the charmed pot stayed hot and un-touched
Draco in what Hermione was beginning to see was his own irrepressible way, announced mid tea time conversation if Hermione should try to find her lioness before starting her apprenticeship that he'd like to have "a proper ménage à trois, unless either of you are opposed, of course."
Severus choked on his lamb! Hermione forgot that she was a witch and ran to beat him on the back and in a moment beckoning back to her mother's reaction to stress filled situations started to repeat the Great Litany a line slipping out before she stopped herself. Draco stared at her as if she was mad, waving his hand he said a charm Severus breathed easily. Hermione clutched her beating heart, Draco shook his head pouring more wine wishing he'd laced it with a touch of calming draught.
Severus took it in stride
"So I suppose we'll be expected to go to Christmas Eve or Old Years Night mass?"
Hermione gave a bright smile
"Midnight Christmas Eve mass."
He cringed, Draco smiled excited
"I've never been in a actual church before!"
Which got him a sneered
"Don't forget your cushioning charm or you'll never want to go back either."
That earned the Potion's Master a nasty look from Hermione.
Draco looked at them,
"Will we always do this? Pick at each other like children? Test every boundary?"
Draco drained his glass and walked to the window eyes watery, they came to him wrapping him in their arms, Hermione kissing his cheek
"You know picking doesn't mean we don't like each other, Harry and Ron are like bothers to me and we pick at each other all the time!"
Severus and Draco's eyes met, Draco's eyes widened Potter and Weasley as brothers in law, they needed a good stock of fire whiskey.
They stood looking out the window wrapped in their own little worlds watching the faery children in the garden, Draco looked at Severus staring at the faery dust flittering down,
"Galleon for your thoughts?"
"I believed the going rate was a knut."
"That's not how I was taught, however you may set it at any rate you wish as long as you tell me what you were thinking about."
"Nundu blood, I have twenty thousand galleons worth of it in my potions stores, and it has no value beyond dark magic. Enough of this dreary talk, I can think of a million ways I'd rather spend tonight than talking of the dark arts."
Severus turned capturing Darco's lips in a soft kiss releasing him only to give a small smile.
Hermione watched the play between the men, the gentle kiss warmed her, they cared for each other deeply, more than a small part of her hoped that when this was done she would also share with them beyond the bond, a caring relationship based on trust and time.
"Now Draco what would you like?"
The blonde shuddered as the Potions Master spoke to him, Hermione smiled she knew exactly how he felt.
"Both of you together." Draco's voice was sure
"And have you done this before?"
A flick of warm tongue traced the lobe of his ear eliciting a small moan.
"Never at the same time."
"Perchance you should ask Hermione her views on this hmmm" another lick, stygian eyes found whiskey brown
Malfoys' didn't beg but she didn't need to look to know Draco's eyes would show near palpable desire, she wouldn't deny him this.
He breathed a huff of air out, he'd been holding his breath waiting for her answer; she gave him a small smile finally looking at his relieved face and started to worry that she would be good enough for him.
"Kindly don't start thinking too much."
"I can't help but wonder.."
Severus started the delicate manoeuvring to the bed; Hermione's and Draco's first threesome.
If Hermione was truthful she had expected Draco's bond to come much like hers had been, fire hot singeing everything but it hadn't. Draco was inside of her, Severus him. They were doing this all together too slow movement which tantalized, she moaned, Draco eyes closed, ecstasy written across his face, every thrust pulling a near mewl from his throat as Severus stroked, hand fisted in pale blonde hair and whispered in his ear much as he had done to Hermione.
Draco's bond gave goose pimples all over Hermione's body as if she's stepped into the Scottish winter naked, her heat rose to meet it, she flushed, shivered, sweat began to dot her body.
He gave a small movement of his hips and grazed her gspot again, her orgasm began that slow build, a knot of pressure in her lower back, she closed her eyes unable to handle any more stimulation between sex and the bond; she refused to look at them, looking at them would be her undoing.
She heard the words.
"Hiscine vinculo isto? Vis autem iudicium gratiam?"
Draco's hitched reply
She wished she had kept her eyes open to see his startled surprise, but she heard his gasp.
He repeated it again, "Imo."
That released the spiral of pleasure knotted in her spine, it raced up, summer intensified sang in her blood. Draco followed, his cold swallowing her heat unleashing what felt like a pelting of graupel pellets on their skin. Now she knew they had felt her fire exactly as she had, she felt his cold. Eyes squeezed tight, hands clinging to the top of her head as if that could stop the feeling of her head exploding from absolute euphoria. Hermione was lost until the very last moment the bond finding its nexum fullfilled allowed Severus's power to flood them.
Severus's power devoured, heat, cold, it cared not. It consumed. It moved through the bond with a feral speed, Hermione felt her eyes rip open only to see Draco breathe out tiny crystals of ice that were engulfed by an entirely too powerful blue bell flame that escaped on her gasp of amazement, she could do that? Behind Draco Severus, whom to all appearances was in a continuous exhalation, inky power streaming from his nose and mouth filling the quickly darkening room as it filled them. At its precipice it ate the light swallowing them, it brought the very wards of Prince Hall down and replaced them, it filled them to engorgement.
The red moon was high in the sky when they finally awoke on the shattered frame of the bed, when did that happen? When had the power splintered the aged mahogany like badly cured cheap pine, beyond the ability of repair spell or charm? When had they acquired branded runes across the right wrist? Alcohol forgone, they ignored the now released doors, and drank tea coupled with a rich chocolate cake, watching the red moon in a slow march across the sky as Hermione and Draco fought to control their new powers.
Hermione taught Draco to bled his power into the wards as Whimble had taught her at Hogwarts when they both became overwhelmed with the sheer amount of power that strummed through them
He continued helping her with her occlumency, even as his failed battering her brain into mush.
In the corner Severus sat still, composed, eyes closed. At best bet he was mediating but they could sense his worry beyond that excitement, his energy pulsed with it. He opened his eyes, flicked his hand banishing the remnants of the bed and gave a satisfied grin, he had found the core of his power.
This was how their first week passed learning how to control their new powers, they duelled in the back gardens, blew up enough cauldrons to make Neville look like a potions master, split several pieces of furniture into matchsticks with simple charms and in the process learnt control.
Hermione found it disturbing that it came hardest to her, one word about Harry and she would lose control her bluebell flame bursting forth.
Yet even when Severus taunted Draco he was too weak to save his mother Draco managed to not allow his power to cascade out, he pulled into himself, frost running up his wand the first few times as he duelled against Severus. Hermione gained a new level of respect for Draco.
Oh and they shagged.
Draco was a sybarite, or maybe being raised Malfoy meant he was raised to be a sensualist, not be ashamed of his love of luxury or wanting and enjoying sex. He made sure they slept on the finest sheets, the elves created meals more suited to Roman lords than the British palate at his urging; although as long as there was meat Severus never complained even if it near bled on the table, "well done is an insult to the meat!" Ha!
He awoke them with kisses and caresses, he said exactly what he wanted and what he wanted to see, he taught Hermione la pipe, laughing as she blushed red when he called it noshing and redder at blow job.
They knelt as Severus's feet as he guided her by example while whispering to her "It is more personal isn't it? This is about his pleasure, a gift to him, you can't shut off and think of Merlin or the muggle Queen."
At the end of the fourth day Hermione had begged off because she was sore, she had pointed her wand at Severus and told him in no uncertain terms that the randy dandy was his responsibility, and if Draco came anywhere near her she was going to hex his bits off. He smirked as he summoned the pink potion he'd given her the first time pressing it into her hand, as he walked away sotto voiced carrying along the hallway
"There were no complaints last night witch."
Chapter 12: Must come to light.
They didn't plan to lock themselves away for a month. Shut off from the world inside of each others heads, it couldn't be helped. Working alongside each other to control their magic they grew comfortable, there was no where to hide, the bond laid them bare.
June had turned into July when Plum noted while setting afternoon tea that Maize sought permission to visit. Severus made a cutting remark about her never needing an invite previously, Plum smiled with pride as she replied back that was then, and this is now!
Maize came, her Hogwarts tea towel starched to perfection, ears trembling with emotion, bowing low
"Lords and Lady Prince"
"Don't start with that eejit bowing Maize!"
The elf pulled herself straight
"You were always a bit manky Potions Master, but Merlin it is with your new station I give respect."
"You didn't respect me when I was a snotty nose child you stuffed with treacle in the kitchens, you didn't respect me as a teacher at Hogwarts you threatened to hex if I didn't drink your horrible healing teas, which I may note where substandard to any of my potions. So if you start now I'd cock up!"
She smiled her sharp tooth grin at him before sitting across the table looking from Draco to Hermione.
"You two have been declared missing. The Headmaster refused to declare Lord of Snark here missing, but Molly Weasley in her misplaced love, and your father because, he is a Malfoy."
She shrugged, and pushed a stack of papers across the table.
Star crossed lovers? Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy the real story. Page 3!
Lucius Malfoy - "I love my son no matter whom he loves."
Severus massaged his forehead, Hermione thought it wasn't that important, walk up to the Ministry of Magic, and go "I'm fine"; ten maybe twenty minutes at the most and they would be out. Molly's well meaning interfering behind them, but Draco had gone still his hand on the table surrounded by a ring of frost.
Severus saw it first, he moved to stand behind Draco's chair clasping his shoulders giving silent support.
"He knows you and Hermione have bonded. Even with no idea of our link he's trying to insinuate me into your relationship atleast in the public eye."
Severus pulled him up into a hug
"The Dark Lord kept your father for his perspicacious political mind Draco, Azkaban dulled and may have even maddened him some but he is still sharp witted. A relationship between you and Hermione would bring honour to the name Malfoy"
Draco looked into Severus eyes
"I will kill him of he tries to hurt either of you."
"Now now young dragon no need for threats. Speaking of threats the goblins have been sending owls to the school for the House of Prince apparently your new wards have made it impossible for owls to come? And they won't say what they want, you know how they are. Now sit, talk, I've brought you much to think about."
She stood, winked and left the room.
Hermione stood pressing a kiss to Draco's temple
"It will be ok."
That night cuddled in each others arms sleep was slow to come, Draco tossed and turned restless with worry, distressing his partners with his mumbled cries when he finally slept, finally Severus gave up on sleep choosing instead to sit up, Draco's head on his lap, Hermione curled around Draco acting as a sleeping guard.
Breakfast was silent each man drawn within, their demons their own, not allowing anything to breech their occlumency and reach Hermione. None of them ate much preferring instead to drink the strong black coffee an elf served, their full English breakfast went cold, the fried bread growing soft, the eggs rubbery as they sat.
Hermione looked at Draco who fingered the cuff of his robe where his second wand lay, he had dressed and slipped both his wands in his sleeves, Severus had looked at him the softened vertical crease between his eyebrows deepening with worry, said nothing, instead slipping into his black robes, into Professor Snape, cold, mordant, dangerous.
Hermione had dressed carefully depending on their lead to guide her, Draco wore a navy linen suit its long overcoat buttoned with small snakes, his starched white shirt and silver blue tie barely peaking out. So she'd chosen a dark blue dress with a modest neckline and a middling hem, a over robe of a slightly darker hue with an intricate pattern along the edges with a single closure under her breast that Severus had pinned a small golden chatelaine to after she'd closed it
"It's a portkey, if anything happens it brings you back home, you know how to use one."
She'd opened her mouth to argue but one look at Severus's face made it clear there would be no argument, even if they knew she would never listen, she would stand and fight. It was all too much before breakfast.
Severus raised his head,
They stood together walking to the door, Plum handed Hermione an oversized clutch in the same snake skin as her flats
"Every lady needs a handbag" She winked.
They walked out and into Severus's arms choosing to allow him to side long them, they disapparated near silently to Diagon Alley.
Goblins are not fools, Severus Snape now Lord Prince was now their largest depositor, his aunt had played the muggle markets, investing heavily for over fourty years in businesses, muggle, and wizard owned alike. that always exceeded any reasonable expectationof return . There was certain conjecture that the late Lady Prince had the gift of sight, but nothing had ever been proven.
Now her nephew the new Lord Prince whom had never been known for his charming disposition, had some how according to the Prince Legacy bonded to the Malfoy whelpm and the muggle born girl who had broken in with Harry Potter. More astonishing the wizarding world didn't seem to know a thing!
Snape as was his wont, had pushed open the great doors of the bank in a great show striding in with the other two behind, the girl's elbow held by young Malfoy. Uncher the head goblin near vibrated with excitement two of his largest depositors, the Malfoy boy receiving the half the Black and entire Lestrange bequeathments not to mention he was still the only son of Lucius Malfoy and Lord Prince, and them bonded! So much gold!
He stood hurrying over to greet them.
"Save the grovelling Uncher!"
Money or no, Severus Snape was still a rude, officious bastard.
"If you'd follow me Lo.."
"Do not call me that!" His whisper was soft and threatening, Uncher nodded
"This way." leading them into his office, the few wizards and witches there at 8am on a Monday morning were concerned with their own business and paid no attention to the trio, luckily.
The first few minutes was easy, vaults were merged, Draco requesting his be added to the Prince vaults, Uncher nodding and pulling parchments had thought nothing, just handed Hermione one as well as Draco, and Severus, obviously she would had her trifling few galleons to the hundreds and hundreds of millions of her partners? She had been loathe to give it up but then this was for life, she'd filled it out leaving a lone 10 galleons to keep it open to the displeasure of the goblin.
Wands were given vault allowance, the new crested rings that most establishments would accept for larger amounts of payments ordered, muggle credit cards conjured. Then the goblins explained the three vaults on the eight hundred level, it was the Prince vault, the family vault that caused Snape to let loose a stream of profanity so foul the goblin wondered where he'd learnt such language. Then remembered he was a half blood, no self respecting pure blood would have ever said such things, but then few of them truly had self respect anyway, Uncher sniffed his displeasure, he seemed to be doing quite a bit of that this morning.
Lord Malfoy was much more polite in his dealings,
"So neither Lord nor Lady Prince may enter the vault, but I may?"
"There is no currency however in the vault?"
"No the Prince vault holds nothing of monetary value, nothing in there can be sold, bought or passed to anyone not in the direct line of ascension, and they must be atleast full to one thirty second blooded."
"What is in the vault then?" Hermione added to the inquisition
"Lady Prince, the late, noted here." a heavy ledger was flipped to show them
The enumeration of cursed, damned and other superfluous items of Prince Hall
1- Portrait of Argos Prince – Founder,
2- 1 Golden chalice of Argos Prince, poisons any muggle, half to one sixteenth of blood who drinks from it,
3-Portrait Flugian Prince nee Mulhaptom -cursed, ears bleed of any muggle, half to one sixteenth blood whom she speaks too.
4- Diary of Lady Flugian Prince, hand written in muggle blood, filled with curses and cures, several cures use muggle children as ingredients.
The list went on and on, nearly two thousand items long, books, cups, beds, a chaise that dark magic had been imbued into so that a virgin deflowered upon was sure to get pregnant; generation upon generation of hatred, over ten years of labour for his aunt if the dated entries were anything to go by, Severus wanted to burn or banish everything but the others stayed his hand this was not the time for rash behaviour; instead they travelled down in the carts to the safe vaults so they could learn how to open them and grab some walking galleons, Severus insisted.
Five hours after they had arrived they left the bank, Hermione light headed from the cart ride up, that much curves would be illegal on a roller coaster, and with a missed breakfast she was adamant that lunch was next as they stood on the steps of Gringotts allowing Severus to apparate them away to muggle London.
They landed in an alley the scent of curry and fried fish wafting in the air, Severus transfiguring his entire outfit into a black suit, before he lead them into a chippy where he was apparently well known, as he nodded to the gentleman behind the counter
"3 of my usual and cokes please Harcourt"
His usual turned out to be a particularly spicy fried cod, chips and mushy peas. Harcourt had found Hermione's reaction at the first bite humorous, he'd barely concealed his laughter, his pag bouncing rhythmically, his hand over his mouth while she shot him, and Severus nasty looks. Draco had the grace to look contrite as she took great glups of her soda.
Severus apologized and Harcourt graced her with a gapped tooth smile and a plate of traditionally done cod, she smiled at them both and settled into lunch.
To the Minstry
The Ministry call box should have been demolished, it smelled slightly ripe as if a homeless person had slept in it, Hermione covered her mouth as Severus back in his usual robes dialled, and the welcome witch's voice surrounded them.
"Good afternoon ministry of magic, how may I help you?"
"Severus Snape, Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy, we would like to visit the auror headquarters ."
The welcome witch twittered, their badges appeared on their clothing just as the call box started it's drop, Hermione's stomach tumbled and she closed her eyes, holding on to Draco. Her other arm pressed to Severus's back as they went down before it shuddered to a stop spitting them out in the atrium.
The atrium was bustling wizards and witches spinning in and out of Floos, yet the presence of this three seemed to still hands just a tad too long on the floo pots, and slow others on the walk to security.
Severus looked around lip curled and motioned for Draco and Hermione to walk in front of him. Draco offered his arm and they walked purposely down the corridor, Eric Munch sat as usual next to the gates
"I'm no longer a Professor Mr Munch"
Munch barely tried to suppress his laugh lifting the Severus's wand onto the scale to register it before handing it back and taking Draco's
"You'll always be Professor Snape, Sir."
He took Hermione's last glanced at the read out, giving a small smile as he passed it back.
"Congrats. If you please, the Minister would like to see you in his office."
They moved to the lifts, curious murmurs running through the room as Draco dropped behind moving to allow Severus to offer his arm to the young war heroine. At the floos a voice called out "Daily Prophet".
Elephine Eadberht had seen a lot in her days as a secretary at the ministry of magic, as Kingsley Shacklebolt's secretary most of that had been incredibly boring when compared to his predecessors, he didn't accept bribes, didn't cheat, drink to excess, or any of the other things that generally kept the secretarial pool in gossip.
In the last month however she had to wonder what secrets he kept, this last month his office had seen multiple visits from Headmaster Dumbledore looking gaunt and upset, Gawian Robards Head of the Aurors, a shouting match with the Weasley matriarch who seemed to have put aside her feud with Lucius Malfoy to come to speak about their missing children together, now their "missing" children and Severus Snape were on their way up.
Robards had been called along with the Headmaster and the parents, if the red headed harridan could be considered such; Alhfrith Brown had just announced the engagement of his daughter to the woman's son that the Granger girl had been seeing, the woman had no dog in this fight, none!
But there must have been something interesting going on the Minister had an unspeakable cast spells that had shimmered along the walls of the office, and now not even the long standing attention spells that alerted her when he wanted her worked.
She watched the black void of Snape come down the hall, girl on his arm and the Malfoy boy walked behind, each kept a wand hand free, hmm there was something going on, she wondered if the two young people had married after all? That would have been truly romantic.
She smiled at them as they came to her desk
The Professor dipped his head to her, "Miss Eadberht"
"Professor Snape, Miss Granger, Mr Malfoy, the Minsiter is waiting for you."
Snape graced her with a slight lift of his lip as he lowered his head in a quick bow, and the other two thanked her as they walked past her, giving a soft knock before stepping into the office.
Elephine sat back, hmmm Professor Snape looked quite handsome just now in a ruggedly magical way she whipped up an inter departmental memo sending it flying to the secretarial pool, the girls would love to know that the rumour that Snape had lost quite a few years and was deliciously better looking since becoming Lord Prince was true, she hoped his temper had improved with his looks and station.
Kingsley had greeted Severus with a easy smile, Draco amicably, and Hermione by sweeping her up in a warm hug before she could sit at the long table between the two men, a move that made both of the men glare at him, Kingsley caught the look as he pulled away,
"Is there something I have missed Severus?"
Severus eyes narrowed to dangerous slits
"I do so appreciate how you cast your suspicions on me Shacklebolt"
Hermione looked at Kingsley,
"I may not have given the full scope of what happened in the dungeons when the Professor was unconscious, decisions were made to exclude some pieces of information...for the greater good."
"Draco was part of the bonding, we are a triad, Draco, Maize, Plum and I believed it was too dangerous to include Draco's participation at that time, his father is not without admittedly limited power."
"And Severus you had enough power for three?"
"It is my understanding that it could not have done it without both of them."
They raised their right hands turning their wrist over, one whispered word and the runes became visible.
Kingsley shook his head,
"You don't do anything half way do you! I haven't heard sharing of power in centuries, and there are almost no documented stories of triumvirates in near as long
. Although I must admit I'd prefer you not make any of it common knowledge." Kingsley eyes swept across the books that lined the walls of his office. "Severus your magical strength and stores have always been formidable and any whisper that you are even stronger.. you would be christened a Dark Lord."
Kingsley shook his head
Draco was calm,
"We actually didn't intend to tell anyone that, the less people who know the better. We only need to say that we bonded by choice in the old ways as a triad."
Kingsley thought for a moment
"That would be preferable but others know, I just don't know how we can accomplish this. If this had been just us four, yes, maybe the Headmaster he's a jammy bastard at keeping things tied up, but Pomfrey and Minerva? Harry, Ron, and your dad? We can't keep all of this secret with a wand oath"
He sat down heavily.
A knock sounded and Gwain strode in all smiles closing the door behind him.
"Don't look so damn happy Robards, these two missed informing us that they'd actually created a triumvirate when they bonded."
A booming laugh was the only answer.
Two hours later Molly was seething, she and Arthur had been left outside the Minister's office which was sound proofed, not even the twins extendable ears heard a whisper when directed to the door.
Inside the office was Minerva, the Headmaster, Lucius Malfoy, Poppy! Harry and her Ron along with Merlin knew who else! No one would tell her anything beyond Hermione was fine.
Inside the office...well Ron's wand had been taken away after he'd threatened Draco. Draco hadn't said anything at first just looked at him as everyone else had as he ranted and raved about how worried they had been and her disappearing until finally, Draco rolled his eyes
"Shut up Weasley! You look like a lunatic!"
Ron had spluttered and raised his wand and Gwian had taken it from him
"Learn control, or your days in the Aurors will be exceedingly short."
Ron had shut up and sat dejectedly down.
Hermione sat poised, Harry wondered if she'd always been this person underneath waiting to bloom, she was regal sitting looking at Lucius as if she could see his every short coming.
She'd given them bright smiles and a small wave as they entered, staying seated between Professor Snape and Draco Malfoy, and done near the same with Madame Pomfrey, and Professor Mcgonagall, just smaller tighter smiles and no waves, Dumbledore and Lucius Malfoy were greeted with long cold looks.
Kingsley called the room to order.
"We have a new development, It seems at our last meeting some information was missing"
Severus cleared his throat
"I would like to state the extirpation was done for purely reasons of safety."
"Thank you Severus, ladies and gentlemen was what was created in the dungeons was triumvirate." he pointed a thumb towards the trio seated to his right and waited for the raised voices to subside.
"Now if everyone is done shouting.."
Dumbledore's soft authoritarian voice stopped him.
"I think no matter our past we need to support Severus, Miss Granger and young Mr Malfoy. What's done is done, disparaging this relationship...them, will not gain us...any of us anything but heartache. Or we destroying our own relationships with them. Regardless of our views of the creation of the triumvirate or our personal feelings of those in it." Albus finished his short speech with a long hard look at all seated around the table.
Kingsley nodded looking at the old man who had seemed quite broken in the last week, maybe he now understood his machinations were not always beneficial. To destroy one for the greater good, was to destroy the least of us; all were worthy of his protection, maybe now he would do better.
"Thank you Headmaster. I agree completely. I believe the best option is for all of us who were there that day to would be to enter a binding magical contract to speak nothing of the first bonding as we know of it.
He looked around the room
"We spoke early and decided that a new bonding, a hand fasting feast would be best, it gives the press something to pick at and makes their disappearance less of an issue, I'm sure Rita will just print they were off shagging, and for the rest of us they have simply fallen in love after working together and have decided in the way of old to form a triad."
Lucius Malfoy stood, the room grew silent
"And I have no say in this?"
Draco stood meeting his father's eye
"None. If you don't like it father you may remove me from succession, go find yourself a new wife and have a perfect pure blood child, but you will not leave this room without being part of this contract. I will not have this held over our heads now or ever!"
"How dare you! I am your father!"
"I know who you are father, don't force me to divulge things that are best left for dead at the Manor. I have bonded and will stay bonded with Severus and Hermione. Here are you options, see me as adult and stay in my life, or try to treat me like a child whom you can control, and I will remove myself, take the name Snape and you will never meet my future children!"
Lucius looked at Draco, in much the same way of a wizard seeing nargles for the first time, incredulous disbelief he turned his head
"Severus? What say you?"
Severus straightened himself even more if that was possible.
"Draco has made his decision, I will stand by his decision. Why do you even quibble on this Lucius, you know the old ways. Would you have him slit my throat and bathe in my blood to create your perfect world with a wife of exemplary blood?"
Lucius sniffed impertinently raising his walking stick only to meet Draco's wand as he raised his eyes, tension shimmered in the room each person reaching for their wands but Severus and Hermione, they understood Draco would do this alone, he didn't need their wands, he needed their support. That they gave pushed through the bond in love, respect, a yearning for the future.
"Do not test me father!"
"You are but a boy infatuated with a man and a mud blood slut!"
"No! I was a boy before I was sent to murder my teacher. I was a boy before my body withered under the pain of taking the dark mark puking bile from the pain, your friends laughing. I became a man because I had to protect myself! I had to learn at the point of Aunt Bella's wand and the Dark Lord's lash."
Lucius wand trembled
"Lower it father; I will take your life before I allow you to take his."
The words hung unsaid in the room
"I didn't allow your mother to be killed, I ...lacked the power to protect her, I tried but I couldn't safeguard her life."
"And you couldn't help the aurors? You couldn't talk to me? Or Severus? You could only scheme your return to the la haute bourgeoisie, and their petty intrigues."
Now Lucius cane faltered, landing heavily on the table
"Everything I've done, I've done for you Draco."
"No! Everything you've done, you did for the name Malfoy. I still hold you responsible for mother's death you are as guilty in our lack of reaction as you were in your lack of action."
Malfoy's do not cry, but there was a barely perceptible shake of the shoulders that alerted those who saw it to the delicateness of Lucius's control. He turned his cold eyes to Hermione, then Severus, and finally Draco giving a long look at his son who had become a man and stood against everything he had raised him to believe, he had failed as a father.
"I will support you in this."
The room exhaled.
A binding wizarding contract usually took weeks to hammer out, the fine print often longer, today it took twenty minutes for the wording to be near perfected by those in the room quickly ripping each word apart, assuring that the wording was just so that even under vertiaserum they would never spill the secret they pledged to hold.
When it was done, written in the pale blue ink of promise and honour each person touched their wand to the slip of paper which then disintegrated until it was no more than a smudge on the desk easily wiped away.
Kingsley looked around the room, smiling genially.
"Now Molly." A shudder ran threw all of them.
Chapter 13: Plan? What plan!
Molly Weasley was a termagant of a woman before she had slain Bellatrix, the howlersthe twins had received at Hogwarts were legend for a reason. Today after near three hours of waiting she was in her best argumentative form even before she had found out about the coming nuptials.
She had pulled Hermione out of her seat and pressed her to her bosom berating her for not coming to visit, answering owls and generally disappearing causing her to worry, then patted Draco and asked him to budge up, tisking at his rudeness when he refused and pointed out a space for her across the table next to her husband.
Grudge-fully she sat across the table staring daggers at Draco and Severus, arms folded, lips pursed, refusing tea and her favorite cookies baked by the ministry elves, a cross between a jammie dodger and a chocolate shortbread.
"I'm not here for cookies and tea! Professor I've always thought better of you! How could you allow these two to run away?"
"I beg your pardon Madam, I what?"
"You, Severus Snape allowed these two to run away together!"
"I can assure you Mrs Weasley I did no such thing! Draco and Hermione were with me at my home for the past month. There has been no absconding, no hiding nothing of the sort, all who were assembled here understood that Miss Granger and I had business to attend to, it is not our fault that you were not made aware of such."
Severus sat back folded his arms and matched Molly's glare with one of his own, while she whipped towards Lucius,
Lucius pulled at the cuffs of his robe.
"I had no idea where they were nor was I sure if my son and ...Miss Granger were together, however since they were both unaccounted for I took the opportunity afforded me to assure my son was given as much press as your young gryffindor, Rita Skeeter did the rest."
He then also folded his arms and sat back, as Molly glared from person to person
"You all knew? Albus?"
"We were aware that Severus and Miss Granger had previously made arrangements to meet at some point, and that even if we had no way of reaching them they would remain in communication."
"And when I worried you said nothing!"
Arthur tried to hold her hand but Molly pulled it away.
Albus gave her a stern look.
"No Molly I said I believed that they were quite safe and that alerting the press of the situation would not be beneficial to those involved, in fact when you stated that we should declare Severus missing I denied your request as did Kingsley, you choose to go to the Prophet, you allowed Lucius his infernal tinkering due to your actions! Now you will sit down and listen or I will petrificus totalus you!"
Molly narrowed her eyes
"Albus I do respect you but I would like to see you try!"
Albus's hand never moved, it was clear to all he saw her as no challenge, she needed a wand, he did not.
Kingsley cleared his throat,
"There is no need for this, Molly will you please listen for Merlin's sake listen?"
"Why should I? You want me to watch her throw her life away on a Malfoy! A family she was fighting a war against mere months ago!"
She looked pleadingly at Hermione,
"I love you like a daughter and I'm sure Charlie or the twins, in one of them you'd find a suitable husband..."
Ron's loud cry of "Mum!" silenced what every else she was going to say
Finally Hermione could take no more,
Her power fluttered through the room bringing a flush to all assembled, little gasps and sounds of shock erupted
"Molly I care and respect you as I would my own mother, but I am not a child! I will not be your daughter in law at any point! I have chosen whom I will bond with and although you seem to disagree with one of my choices your displeasure will not change my mind! Further more if Lucius Malfoy can be somewhat more gracious in this situation than you are being you should consider if this is a sign that you have gone beyond a caring mother but rather a cantankerous and argumentative shrew! Even Severus disputatious at his best would have atleast let me say my piece before throwing husbands at me!"
"Hermione please you are young and we often regret the rash actions of our youth!"
Hermione looked from Draco to Severus, before looking across the table.
"I find myself more than willing to see this through regrets and all! After all I fought the Dark Lord not Draco!"
Albus looked at Molly
"Molly do you forget your youth so soon? Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.** You forget the flush of first love, look at her, flushed with emotions newly discovered, allow her what you had, a place to land if it should fail."
Molly's eyes brimmed with tears
"A Malfoy Hermione?"
"And a Snape."
"Child this is no time for jokes!"
Severus tone was snide
"I can assure you.. both of you, this is not for anyone's amusement."
The tears that had threatened fell, Molly took great gulps of breath, Arthur looked between them,
"Severus my god you are nearly paupered how will you support a wife?"
"I am not."
"But you said."
Severus raised his hand,
"We all know what I said, do you think there is nothing advantageous to being Lord Prince? I am not destitute. Additionally I am knowledgeable in my field which is always valuable."
Arthur gave them a hard look.
"And you will treat her right? Both of you?"
Draco spoke first
"I would protect her with my life if need be, there is no question."
Severus sneered a supercilious look on his face, the room waited for his reply.
"I've given them equal parts of everything I have, saved both their lives multiple times and yet you lot pant like dogs at a bone to see me promise to treat her well. Shall I declare my troth upon a Christian bible? Or will you accept my word?"
Hermione swatted him as he finished, his lips formed a small smile directed at her.
Ron and Harry shared a look as Ron blurted
"Blimey he smiled! I owe you two knuts Harry! He can bloody smile!"
The room burst into laughter, tentative peace found
The conversation was much more mellowed that followed, if Molly and Lucius glaring at each other and making disparaging remarks could be considered mellow, the wedding was set for a week before Ron's own nuptials, a mere twelve days away, which was as quickly as could be settled when a Malfoy was involved as Lucius pontificated on about their oh so long history, auspicious moons and the need to go through official channels to import the correct champagne while giving Kingsley nasty looks.
He was stopped when he tried to give input on the guest list, Severus made his opinion known small and private, those involved and Hermione and Draco's closest friends, no hangers on, business associates, long lost cousins or sycophants of any type!
The next argument was where to hold it, Molly suggested the Burrow, Lucius the Manor obviously and the unusually silent Albus, Hogwarts, they argued among themselves yet again picking apart the worthiness, appropriateness and other measurements that deemed their choices perfect to hold the ceremony without once asking what the intended wanted.
This time Hermione spoke up, prodded to after Molly said she knew that Hermione had always dreamt of a wedding at the Burrow, Hermione saw herself an apparition in Molly's ideal confection of a wedding dress, silk roses and ribbons trailing and shivered; looking to Severus and Draco who held mutual looks of barely disguised horror, while Minerva and Pomfrey passionately argued Albus's choice of Hogwarts against Molly and Lucius.
"I think we, would like to have it at Prince Hall, the back garden is beautiful, it's secret kept but that can be changed and therefore private, warded thoroughly and the elves would truly enjoy cooking for more than just us."
Albus eyes brighten, Lucius looked greedily at Severus
"Truly Severus? Abraxas spoke of the curses that the Hall held is it safe for one such as yourself or Miss Granger?"
The Potions Master sighed worn thin by the day
"Invulnerable I assure you, we've lived there for over a month thus far we've endured."
They exchanged sneers, Draco looking between them scowled at his father. This wasn't over his father would keep their secrets, speak kindly of them in public and maybe even private but Draco knew his father viewed their relationship as a slap in his face, a half blood that he believed to have betrayed him and a muggle born, smartest witch of her age or not he would hold her birth against her, he wished he could drop his shields and speak to Severus and Hermione but he didn't dare with the Headmaster in the room or his father, he sat back and closed his eyes wishing for a cold pack and one of Severus's pain potions.
Severus rose then offering Hermione a hand, and looking at Draco.
"We are leaving, it has been a tiresome day."
The others rose, all trying to pull one of them away, Hermione saw Harry and Ron quirk their eyes at her, Molly stood to move, Minerva looked between Severus and Hermione, Gwain looked to Draco along with Lucius, Kingsley and Albus sought out Severus.
They sighed in unison they would have to do this, be picked part in the name of concern, Severus nodded to Kingsley ignoring Albus, Draco went to his father flashing a regretful smile at Gwain, they would speak later better to placate his father now. Hermione to Ron and Harry who pulled her into a hug and into a corner peppering her with questions, why didn't you tell us about Draco? where is the Hall? Did you...you know ...do them..both of them?
It was Gwain who opened the door intending to slip away, (he did not do overly emotional scenes) to see a room full of press Rita Skeeter heading them squeezed into Miss Eadberht's small space shouting questions, he shut the door swearing like a pirate setting Molly off like Mrs Black's portrait,
"Shut up woman it is your unwanted meddling that has brought these opportunist bastards to our door!"
"I have nothing to do with your language!"
"And everything to do with Rita Skeeter out there leading the charge to see the love birds of the Princess of Gryffindor and the Son of Slytherin!"
"What have I done?" her hands flew to her face as she crumpled against Arthur.
Gwain looked around the room wicked grin on his face,
"So ladies and gents what's the plan?"
Chapter 14: Stuff your gullet
14- stuff your gullet
Draco and Hermione had gravitated towards Severus at the first slam of the door, by the time Molly had melted against Arthur they both were within arms reach of him reaching out within the bond occlumency forgotten.
"Oh God I don't know if I want to do this now! Rita is such a ravenous bitch!"
"Profanity Hermione! Has your vaulted vocabulary failed you?"
"Profanity Severus because she will rip us apart, when she's done you will be a dirty old man feeding your perversions on not only one but two nubile young bodies you have lusted behind as you watched them grow. I don't want to do this now!"
Severus groaned aloud. They came together in a knot standing a hairs breath apart eyes darting from face to face as the conversation amongst themselves continued; the rest of the room watching them and wondering what was going on as they ignored as they were called out to.
It was Harry who braved the gulf to touch his hand to Hermione's shoulder
Three wands were immediately pressed to his face.
They lowered the wands soft apologies given,
"We were talking Harry."
"Hermione you were looking at each other not saying a word!"
"It's the bond we have a connection similar to the one you had."
Harry look wide eyed from one to the other,
"Blood hell that's horrible!"
Severus gave a gruff chuckle
"I find I do not mind them ruffling through my mind as much as I detest you doing so Mr Potter"
Hermione gave a small smile her cheeks pinkening, lowering her eyes only to raise them again to Severus and smile even larger,
"Thank you Severus."
"Do not thank me until we are away from that crowd of cannibals out there!"
Harry looked from face to face determined and grim, "Don't tell me you mean to go out there."
Draco rolled his eyes,
"Of course we are! We can't live in Kingsley's office Potter!"
Lucius strode forward then smiling an oily smile, the slick smile of a man peddling snake oil and rejuvenation.
"Draco haven't I taught you better? The media every single one of them is an opportunist, you must craft what you allow them to have. You must play their game better than they, you will give them what they want, a production."
He looked them over carefully giving appreciative smiles to Draco and Hermoine and shaking his head at Severus.
"You can't go outside there like that!"
"You look like a lecherous old pervert compared to these two! The elves out did themselves with your de-aging you must use that to your advantage. You are Lord Prince Severus, you shouldn't be in your teaching robes looking like the snarling beast most of these people remember from potions class!"
He looked at Hermione
"I take it you've seen his closet does he have anything not black? No green either, nothing overtly Slytherin!"
Hermione gave a blank look, Draco spoke before she could,
"You are asking the wrong person father, they share a strong dislike of fashion. Severus has blue robes, the cut is more fashionable than his potions robes."
"I own no such pieces of clothing."
Draco gave him a wink "Yes you do! I ordered them."
"I really don't care how they got in his closet, you needs those robes Severus."
The small elf popped up looking around the room with a startled look,
"Oww the wards here sting! Oh! Hello Minister."
She bopped in a small curtsey, and gave a smile towards Kingsley before turning to Draco.
"Yes young Lord?"
"Do you mind getting Severus's blue robes? Only if coming thru the wards here isn't dangerous, if not we can have someone meet you outside."
Plum smiled and winked away, popping up seconds later not a word of the pain of the wards thrusting the robes towards Severus,
"Here you go young Master!" And popping back out.
Kingsley looked around the room, "You've just given the unspeakables months of work placing new wards"
Lucuis looked at Albus who shrugged "Don't bother, there are too few of them left to be a concern." Before turning back to Severus, "Why aren't you dressing? You've seen an announcement of betrothal before, get dressed."
Severus groaned in frustration feeling the weight of the garment bag in his hands, was he really going to trust Lucius Malfoy not to completely cock up his life as magical cameras documented every moment?
"Where do I change?"
When Severus exited the small bathroom the entire room stared. Gone was the billowing over robe, the black, the constricting clothing. Severus Snape potions master had stepped in, Severus Snape Lord Prince had stepped out a soigne figure in blue.
Hermione and Draco standing together silent holding each others hands smiled warmly. Lucius stroked his walking stick looking at him from head to toe appreciatively. Minerva, Poppy and Molly stood in a corner whispering to each other, when he moved to pull his hair forward Minerva spoke out
"Please don't, it would make you look quite severe Severus." she walked over looking at him waiting for him to give her permission to touch his hair, he wanted to push her away, tell her to stay as far as possible away from him as possible and leave him to fuck alone. But Hermione was faint in his mind asking him to forgive and move on with Minerva atleast, and her misplaced sense of honour to the Headmaster.
He raised an eyebrow, his question, are you brave enough?
She accepted his challenge running her fingers through his hair this way and that fluffing it and making it lay just so across his shoulders, when she was done she stood back.
She patted his cheek as if he was still the snotty nose first year she'd help pick up,
"I'm proud of you Severus and I'm sorry, I've not always done right by you. I was wrong."
She pulled him down placing a soft kiss on his cheek not waiting for his acceptance, or maybe believing she had already acquired such just by his allowing her in his personal space that he had been known to grudge-fully protect.
Lucius step towards the door,
"Headmaster, Weasley? I believe a united front is called for..."
"Why the Headmaster?"
"Well why him? He's done nothing but bring Severus pain."
Lucius turned thin lipped
"Because he's the closest thing Severus has to a father. For a betrothal announcement we will go out speak of our joy in having you two back, and announce with even more joy that a new relationship based on honour, and respect that grew from your work in the order has brought a new day, one of love between you, Draco, and Severus. I'm sure Albus will spew blithely of your embracing the old ways and bonding with the two men who gained your heart, and other foolish sentimental tales. While Weasley and I stand beside each other proving this world has changed."
The last words were near snarled as he contemptuously curled his lips before he started to speak again.
"Questions will be asked, you will answer without hexing anyone Severus!" There was an unintelligible reply back.
He turned to Ron and Harry
"Mr Potter, Mr Weasley, you are to support your friend, if they asked your opinions on them shagging in the forest on the skins of unicorns, you are.."
Harry narrowed his eyes
"I believe I know how to support my friend Mr Malfoy."
His voice brook no reproach, and Lucius took it as it was meant turning his back on Harry, a dismissal.
"After you Albus, Weasley, Minister."
There were certain things the wizarding world never expected to see nargles no matter what the Quibbler printed, Ablus Dumbledore and Lucius Malfoy trading smiles was another as Arthur Weasley and Minister Shacklebolt trailed behind them. But this is what greeted the members of the press congregated outside of the minister's office their beloved elder statesman standing with the scoundrel that was Lucius Malfoy, questions flooded them.
"Why are you here? Was your son found? Has Miss Granger been found? Headmaster! Headmaster! Is Miss Granger pregnant?"
Rita slipped to the front quill poised
"Gentlemen in checking with reputable sources I have found that Mr Malfoy and Miss Granger were seen exiting Gringotts this morning, do you know anything about this?"
Lucius smiled a bright open smile that had charmed the panties off every witch he'd ever focused his attention on.
"While I have no idea where they went this morning but I'm happy to say that they are home, with wonderful news."
A reporter shouted from the back of the throng
"More Malfoys then?"
Albus stepped up, a displeased look washing over the crowd
"I find that in very poor taste. Today we ask you to celebrate with us the Hogwarts family as well as the Weasleys, and Malfoys a return to the ways of old, a hand fasting."
He smiled and the room of reporters believed they knew what was coming, the Malfoy brat had run off with the Granger girl and now was bonding with her probably a ploy to regain some respect for the tattered name.
"Severus Snape newly conferred Lord Prince, Draco Malfoy of the House of Mafloy, and Hermione Granger have formally pledged to us their families and loved ones their intentions to hand fast within the ways of our forefathers as a triad."
The room devolved into mayhem, questions were screamed, mostly inappropriate ones and there was no settling them down until Severus stepped out of the office, he looked resplendent and youthful, smooth faced, clear skinned, a man in his prime, Draco behind him was classic Malfoy, ethereal beauty, Hermione stepped out between them gracing each with a small smile, and gone was the frizzy haired girl they remembered from even just a few months prior, this was a witch! She matched them stride for stride, her hair curled in gentle waves down her back, her lips pinked, a small blush on her cheeks, but her eyes like the men at her side cold.
Rita Skeeter of course would be the first to scream into her face
"So have you been involved with your Professor long Hermione?"
Severus levelled a cold look at her and she took a step back.
"I'm not surprised that you would ask such an unseemly question Miss Skeeter, but I assure you that would never happen at Hogwarts!"
The flood of questions started and they answered as truthfully as possible, some they just refused to answer, they were too personal bordering on salacious. Some actually made them think. Rita's were annoying always.
A few questions were directed to those who stood behind them in solidarity. Some at Ron he'd lost the girl, mostly at Harry this was the man he had famously outed as a near twenty year spy for the side of the light who had done all he had out of love of his mother. Was he upset that his mother's memory had been removed as the woman of paramount importance in the Potion Master's heart.
"No not at all! I do not believe he's spent his life loving a memory and never having relationships no matter how it may have seemed to those of us found in the halls of Hogwarts after curfew!"
A laugh went out from a full third of the reporters,
"I also believe Hermione and my mother would have had lots in common, obviously I can understand why Hermione loveable as she is would be loved by others, she is loyal, and as smart as.. Severus and sure to challenge both of them, I wish them good luck."
Harry stepped back flashing a smile at Hermione, she smiled back at him brightly, cameras flashed at the smiling friends, they such have used the lull to slip away, but for one reporter hidden in the throng.
"Professor? Do you love them?"
Severus moved to speak, as did Draco and Hermione, this is a word they had never spoken, what passed between them was deeper than the flights of fancy most called love, sweet words spilled from lips as bodies contorted in pleasure. Maybe they were being parsimonious with their emotions? Maybe this was love? Having made a choice to care, to support, to respect each other until they drew their last breath. Was it even the business of the wizarding world?
"That's rather intimate!"
"That is none of your business!"
They looked at each other in barely concealed surprise before Hermione and Draco laughed, Severus joined them last, a small laugh that excluded the world and included only them.
The room went silent. No one had expected an answer yet this was an answer in and of itself. Few of of them had ever heard the Potions Master laugh. It was an eloquently emotional moment for a man known for his coldness, shocking the room into silence.
Kingsley stepped forward, "The Ministry is closing it's really time we all went home, thank you ladies and gentlemen."
With Severus and Draco at her side Hermione was pressed through the rabble to the lifts where they along with Harry, Ron and Lucius filed inside of the first one.
Draco sighed looking around,
"So I take it we are taking you home with us?"
Harry smiled "I guess so, it would look strange if you just popped away after the whole piffle wouldn't it!"
Severus scowled as the lift shivered to a stop, Potter had a point to leave them would open them to questions.
"Weasley you will be with me, Draco you can side along Lucius, Mr Potter with Hermione."
They left the lift as they had gotten on it, this time Harry and Ron standing behind Hermione protecting her back from the unknown, as they stepped into the evening sun and cast an eye over the masses going home from long days at work Draco and Severus released Hermione and turned, it was a fluid movement one moment they were standing alone the other they had taken ahold of the person they were to apparate and had turned disapparating away.
They appeared in the same field from just a few weeks before, Hermione smiled at the scent of the roses, Ron was looking around and Lucius could barely conceal his glee, Severus spoke the words then
"Prince Hall is in Carmarthenshire South Wales"
And home came into sight,
"Oi this is bigger than bloody Malfoy manor!"
"Tactless as usual Mr Weasley. Mr Potter, Weasley I trust that you have learnt the most basic of manners? No unannounced visits, you as well Lucius, I am not a pleasant host nor do I intend to ever be!"
The walk up the front garden was filled with questions from Ron and Harry and Hermione answered as best she could, inside they separated, Severus was loathe to leave Lucius alone but figured the two dunderheads would keep a close eye on him, he requested the elves to prepare a meal and offer refreshments leaving to change and Draco and Hermione followed him up the stairs.
Inside the room they changed in silence until Draco spoke.
"Did anything today go to plan?"
Hermione groaned "Nothing! I'm going gown shopping with Molly and Minerva tomorrow, I hope Ginny will tag along and I know nothing about bondings, I had hoped to do some reading but I don't think our guest will leave anytime soon! "
Severus sucked his teeth
"These three are bad enough but the Fidelius Charm must now be lifted, I dread our future. Tomorrow Lucius will be back, then the Weasleys en masse' and if Molly comes Minerva will follow, as will the rest of the cackling hens I once had for workmates under the pretense of checking on us while whispering to each other about my good fortune and the furnishings of our home."
Draco captured his hand before he slipped on his slacks,
"And what was Albus on about today?"
"You mean his side ways acknowledgement that he may have been wrong previously as he requested the rest of the obsequious fools support us? Yes ... I rather think he needs to grovel at some point preceding our nuptials."
"Severus will you forgive him?"
"I want to say no but that would be foolish. I will never trust him, as a child my mother broken dragged me to church one Sunday in her hunt for something to make everything better, the rector read a Bible verse that stood out to me as a child no taller than my mothers hips, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped." I trusted Albus with my heart and he helped himself, to trust him again would make me a fool."
They dressed wrapped in thoughts, Severus left first eager to keep an eye on Lucius sharing a smile with Draco as Hermione slipped on her top.
"May I braid your hair?"
"If you braid I hair I fear we will end up with you between my legs."
His wicked smile made her giggle.
"Should I be offended that you have hit so close to the truth?"
"What's taking her so long?" Ron moved to stand
"Mr Weasley kindly continue to stuff your gullet with the hors d'oeuvres, Hermione and Draco are dressing and while I would enjoy the hexing you would be treated to should you try to enter my bedroom I abhor the paper work Gwian would be obligated to force me fill out. Neither I do not I wish my lover to form his personal opinions of the accommodations of Azkaban, nor would I riskHermione's displeasure should I hex you myself; although she may hex you and nothing would please me more."
Ron sat back reaching for the crostini platter ignoring the Potions Master, and made his best effort to stuff his face as if eating would wash the idea of Severus Snape greasy git as a sexual being and worse yet a man who would have sex with his ex girl! A girl who refused to bed him and now bedded not one but two men and one of those men just admitted he was the lover of the other man, that meant Hermione had probably seen these two men have sex yet she had refused to have sex with him.
Oh hell he pushed the crostini away and reached for the fat scallops wrapped in near see through pieces of ham,
"Can I get a glass of fire whiskey?"
Harry gave him a questioning look, Ron frowned at him
"Well don't you see he's shagging them both ain't he!"
Lucius flopped his head into his hands laughing loudly
"Oh trust Molly to raise her bunch prudish believing anything but missionary is licentious and with more inhibitions than the entire lot at Beauxbatons combined! I would have thought the older four would have spoke to you by now."
"If you have to ask you really don't need to know!"
Harry had been silent the whole conversation eyes ping ponging between Lucius and Ron
"Ok explain to me, I'm muggle raised, infact I was raised to believe I shouldn't touch a woman before marriage in a sexual way and there were things you never did even with your wife, you are saying that the Weasleys have it wrong?"
"Arry!" Ron's open mouth spewed food particles in the air soliciting a scowl from the Potions Master and a curled lip from Malfoy senior.
"What Ron! I'm just asking questions."
"Not wrong Mr Potter no merely muggle influenced, see wizard kind tends to be more open and free, wonder why all the sex at Hogwarts why has there been rarely a case of a student pregnancy? And if there is it's mostly between muggle borns and half bloods? And no, there are no wards to conveniently disable conception, because then it would affect the teachers and for years Hogwarts had married teachers."
Harry looked at Lucius
"So it's a personal option?"
"Quite. Almost all pure blood families have a charm passed down generation to generation, mother to daughter, father to son that impedes nature."
"But Molly said!"
"Don't tell me what she said! Look around boy, they are the only family grown to near paupers with their off spring! My sincere apologies Mr Weasley."
Ron huffed and mumbled under his breath.
"I never thought of the amount of children the Weasley's had as a bad thing"
"Of course not! As an orphan I can understand how they called to your need and want of a family dynamic, it is wonderful but only if you have the means. if it was Severus here now with the might of the Prince gold, or myself with the Malfoy legacy, even you with the Black leagacy six children would be affordable, but Molly and Arthur didn't have near the wherewithal to have them and in the wizarding world we have always looked at these factors, we live near three times longer than muggles, we can't prepare for the long winters of our twilight years if we have large families and give each child every opportunity possible while in our magical prime."
Hermione and Draco choose this time to come down bringing the conversation to a close. Hermione glowed as she came through the door greeting the room at large, her soft pants whisking against the hardwood as she walked.
Before sitting she pressed a kiss to Severus's forehead as Draco had done before her, a practice the blonde had instituted the day after the bonding, as she moved away he clasped her around the waist whispering in her ear her only response a throaty laugh, she moved around the table to sit next to Harry and pulling him and Ron into a conversation, ignoring Draco's father as he focused on her every move.
"I'd rather you not stare at Hermione father."
"I'm sorry Draco, but Severus domesticated is a sight I never believed I'd see and this little witchling has done it. Yes with help from the transference of power but Severus welcomed her touch quite unlike him."
The person in question slowly lifted his eye brow,
"And you, Sir Potter and his ginger side kick sitting under my roof scoffing my food and not a wand out? Yes I believe I dreamt of this once, I was being crucio-ed by Bella or it maybe have been pursued none the less tortured."
"Yes well Mr Potter and I managed to have a chat while you, my son, and Mrs Snape were gaining carnal knowledge of each other.'
"There was a temporary peace made in light of the missing status of our loved ones, it maybe mere conjecture on my part but with the new relationship status I believe he and I will agree to continue to be ..polite."
Lucius gave Harry a hard look, so much like his father with those damnable eyes of his mother, if he'd had his father's eyes the Dark Lord would have had a true chance with Severus.
It was too late now to think of what could have been, this was a new day his son bonded to probably the most powerful wizard alive a half blood bastard, and a muggle born witchling.
Maybe Draco was right he should get a new wife, a new start. Cissy was gone and he missed her terribly, the manor was lonely without her.
The vineyard in Bordeaux? Paris was a quick floo to his pied de terre. Beauxbatons had graduated several impressive women over the last few years, Lucius smiled to himself and sipped Severus fine wine, American the label said maybe just maybe he'd even go across the pond see what they had to offer, a new start there. When he'd travelled there before he'd found the ladies quite liked his accent, yes a new start! Draco could be all he had never been.
He lifted a spoon against the glass it rang like bells
"I've an announcement, tomorrow I will be abdicating the position of Lord Malfoy"
Draco, Severus and Ron understood the unspoken as soon as they were spoken, no one gave up a title they were passed on at death, Lucius giving it up spoke to the failures he believed he'd tainted the name Malfoy with.
They understood the weight that was being placed on Draco. Understood that Lucius had given up and admitted that he had spent his early years an incorrigible bastard for nothing or worse less than nothing.
"As Draco kindly pointed out I have always conducted myself in accordance with the legacy I grew up with one of hate, it has brought shame to my family and death to my door. I wish now to step aside, my son is undoubtedly a better man for the job than I."
Draco didn't stand, he sat loose limbed Severus had taught them never to show their tension and he was doing his best to stay true to this lesson.
Feeling his cold curl in his belly, wanting nothing more but to reach out hold his father and feed it down his damnable throat! Share with him a fraction of the pain he'd felt these past few years. He felt the frost across his finger tips and slipped his hands under the table.
"Bloodly focking hell no Father! If you try I will remove myself from succession, and the Malfoy line will die or past to any number of boot licking mardarsed inbred cousins that you and mother never would speak about and I will watch as they rip apart the manor and turn the Malfoy legacy into an indigent title with not even two knuts left!"
Lucius's cheeks flared
"Quicker than mars bar head here killed off the Dark Lord."
"Draco think of the good you could do?"
"I'm already doing it without a soul knowing that they are living under the auspices of one of the bastard Malfoys! I may not be titled but I'm rich and can't be arsed to care if I'm loved or hated by the teeming masses. Go travel, remarry, sire ten bastards off whores I really don't care, but hire a damn steward and stop trying to salvage something that doesn't need it! They hated grandfather, they'll hate you and when you die they'll hate me too."
"You think it's really that simple?"
"Yes! Look around the room father, a half blood that spied, a muggle born who walked into a new world and fought for it, a pure blood well Weasley may need a kick up the arse but he's a damn good strategist and a sure wand hand in a fight! If his parents had money he'd be well on his way to grandmaster already, and me a right git, I did what I wanted and got me a medal of Merlin 2nd class! Harry Potter the man who lived twice! You are the only one not making your destiny!"
"I'll think on it."
Dinner took a normal turn then conversation was stilted at times, Hermione, Severus, and Draco seemed to float off in their own world inside of each other's heads slipping into the patterns of the last month. After dinner surprisingly their guest took their leave, Severus unblocked the floo allowing them to leave, Harry and Ron to Grimmauld Place, Lucius to the Manor.
The last thing they did before falling into bed was to change the wards, now once again owls could come and patronuses could pass, dropping the wards was nothing to be done when already tired only drained them more, they fell into bed that night and slept.
eeling his cold curl in his belly, wanting nothing more but to reach out hold his father and feed it down his damnable throat! Share with him a fraction of the pain he'd felt these past few years. He felt the frost across his finger tips and slipped his hands under the table.
"Bloodly focking hell no Father! If you try I will remove myself from succession, and the Malfoy line will die or past to any number of boot licking mardarsed inbred cousins that you and mother never would speak about and I will watch as they rip apart the manor and turn the Malfoy legacy into an indigent title with not even two knuts left!"
Lucius's cheeks flared
"Quicker than mars bar head here killed off the Dark Lord."
"Draco think of the good you could do?"
"I'm already doing it without a soul knowing that they are living under the auspices of one of the bastard Malfoys! I may not be titled but I'm rich and can't be arsed to care if I'm loved or hated by the teeming masses. Go travel, remarry, sire ten bastards off whores I really don't care, but hire a damn steward and stop trying to salvage something that doesn't need it! They hated grandfather, they'll hate you and when you die they'll hate me too."
"You think it's really that simple?"
"Yes! Look around the room father, a half blood that spied, a muggle born who walked into a new world and fought for it, a pure blood well Weasley may need a kick up the arse but he's a damn good strategist and a sure wand hand in a fight! If his parents had money he'd be well on his way to grandmaster already, and me a right git, I did what I wanted and got me a medal of Merlin 2nd class! Harry Potter the man who lived twice! You are the only one not making your destiny!"
"I'll think on it."
Dinner took a normal turn then conversation was stilted at times, Hermione, Severus, and Draco seemed to float off in their own world inside of each other's heads slipping into the patterns of the last month. After dinner surprisingly their guest took their leave, Severus unblocked the floo allowing them to leave, Harry and Ron to Grimmauld Place, Lucius to the Manor.
The last thing they did before falling into bed was to change the wards, now once again owls could come and patronuses could pass, dropping the wards was nothing to be done when already tired only drained them more, they fell into bed that night and slept.
Chapter 15: He cares for you
This chapter includes sex, warnings and all that.
FYI- Lucius quotes Shakespeare Sonnet 18 in his note.
italics - non-verbal speech. Bolded italics - written.
Severus Snape did not sleep late anyone who had ever worked with him knew this, and apparently so did the owls of every paper they took.
At five am the first fluttered to the window and another, and another. Most carried their story on the front page Rita's story was eye roll worthy, someone had gotten to it and tempered her acerbic commentary with prose suited for a Victorian bodice ripper, making erratic jumps from implied sexual favours for NEWTS scores to the romance of falling in love with a spy during war, and snide commentary just shy of framing Hermione a gold digger snapping up the Malfoy heir and the new Lord Prince in one swoop. Most of the others seemed to temper their harshness due to Kingsley and the Headmaster's obvious welcoming of the relationship, they delved in the history of triads commenting on the rareness of the relationships, questioning the structure of it. All carried a picture of the shared laugh, the Potions Master's smile as he looked at the pair at his side.
Couton brought tea up, setting it up in the small reading nook looking out onto the garden as he did every morning. Severus stopped him as he was about to leave explaining the upcoming nuptials would be at the Hall, and the elves if they needed help should ask. Couton smiled brightly winking out and back with a large book and stood to the end of the bed trembling with excitement waiting.
It was Hermione who smiled sweetly at the elf and asked what the book was for, he lifted it careful into her arms, the name faded gilt against the leather.
"The Acts of Unions?"
The elf expounded greatly on the book being passed down from generation to generation, over eight generations of brides had put quill to parchment and written of their experiences leading up to and directly after marriage, leaving future brides with sage advice to follow.
Severus snorted impolitely offering his opinion that the book should have gone into the vault with all the other items of antiquity that his family had held on to; while Couton looked as if he would leap onto the bed to snatch the book into his safe keeping once again as he chastised Lord Prince of his uncouthness and ruthless towards his family's history as Hermione and Draco hid smiles watching the tiny elf castigate one of the most feared men in wizarding England fearlessly.
Hermione finally stopped Couton's rant promising she would go thru the book with him and Plum over breakfast before going gown shopping.
Bath time had the previous month been a leisurely time for all. Severus awoke first at an ungodly hour, took his bath, did his meditation or whatever it was he did, in time to join them for breakfast on the patio. Hermione took a bath, sometimes Draco joined her in the bathroom half way through her soak to take his shower, she silent enjoying his off tune singing as he bathed, it had been a relaxing way to start the day.
This morning however the elves started to bring mail up soon after Couton left, mail that had been forwarded by owl from Hogwarts, fewer pieces through the floo. Severus stalked off to the bath snarling under his breath that when it was over the whole of the wizarding world would know where he lived and invite themselves to tea.
The first note was from Ginny sent via Ron asking if she and Luna could join Hermione dress shopping. A second from Lucius stated that he'd arranged a portkey to Paris so Hermione could see the same dressmaker who'd done his late wife's dress; portkey to follow.
Minutes later thru the floo came a box that Azure a small elf with eyes the color of her name brought with a bright smile, moving to hand it to Hermione Draco took it, running spell after spell over it before he caressed the box sadly, passing the accompanying letter to Hermione.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
From my beautiful Cissy to you, may you bring joy to their hearts as she did mine
Finally fluttering out the envelope was a pale white peacock's feather, the portkey, she reached towards the box.
"I wonder what it is?"
"It's my mother's wedding jewelry."
Hermione's hand going towards the box stopped.
"Are you sure? Would he send me, a mudblood something so precious?"
"I think he really means to prove he's committed to changing."
Draco opened the box giving scant commentary to Hermione about the history of the pieces, but nothing he could have said would have prepared her for what she saw as he lifted the lid.
A parure of diamonds and emeralds fit for the queen, made of a layered collet, two pairs of earrings, a ring and a bracelet. Draco lifted the first pieces out and below was a tiara, and jeweled hair combs, Draco lifted the tiara gently as if it was a child.
"My mother's bandeau."
He placed it on Hermione's head eyes filled with tears, mind with memories, enfolding her in a tight hug.
Severus stepped out of the bathroom minutes later still wet, water running down his body, somber faced he pulled the embraced pair into his arms.
They stood holding each other lending strength for long minutes, it was Azure the same small elf who had brought the jewelry box popping in with yet another note this one from Minvera that sent Severus off cursing once again that the whole fucking wizarding world had his floo information, his rant brought some levity to the room Severus no matter what he looked like or his title would remain a grumpy bastard.
Hermione packed away the jewelry, Draco watched with warm eyes and thinned lips, joy and hopefulness encased.
Elves have very clear ideas on what their Masters should do, if any elf says different they are lying to save your feelings because you have displeased them by going against your own best interest in their view, Plum and Couton were no different.
As far as they were concerned there was no question about the handfasting, Hermione would wear red embroidered with gold, the same sanguine red she wore her first day entering the manor. Her hair piece would be woven of roses red as blood, hyacinths sweet and white for her pale love, and bittersweet, poisonous yet precious in potions for the Potions Master. Severus didn't get away either, he as Master of house of Prince would wear ivory, so would the young Master, there was no question. Arguments were passionately made for ivory for the bride and dignified black for the grooms, that's when Plum had pulled the large book forward, her skeletal fingers tracing word after word, there was no arguing semantics it was plainly written as the nose on the Lord Prince's face.
When Hermione stepped through the floo into the Burrow Plum was at her heels, the small elf followed not for one moment willing to risk Hermione going off and coming back with an unsuitable dress. Couton likewise would accompany Draco and Severus in their shopping to guide them according to the Acts of Unions, the other elves had been given their jobs Prince Hall would welcome it's guest with perfect hospitality.
Hermione tumbled out of the floo at the burrow into Ginny's waiting arms, the shorter young woman had been sitting with Luna waiting for it to glow green since begging Ron to send the note. Minerva and Molly were in the kitchen whispering over cups of tea.
"Hermione Granger! How could you not tell me?"
"Tell you what?"
"I am not Rita Skeeter, I saw your power the morning of graduation, you'd already bonded!"
Hermione pulled her close
"You must never tell anyone anyone! Promise me!"
Ginny looked at the fear in her friend's brown eyes and pulled her wand
"I Ginerva Weasley promise never to speak of what happened with Hermione's power the morning of our graduation."
Hermione pulled her into a hug, "I didn't need a wand oath Ginny!"
"Yes you did, it's ok cause you are going to tell me all the dirty details of your sex life, what's the Professor like? I always thought that focus, that passion, he'd been an excellent lover if not for the nasty attitude and horrible hair! And Draco is he selfish in bed? I want all the details!"
She pulled Hermione onto the settee between her and Luna, who's pale silvery eyes took in everything, a secretive smile on her lips.
Hermione cast a muffliato and the girls sat on the settee speaking softly, when the floo flared only Luna noticed as Severus stepped out dressed in black slacks, his linen shirt peeking out his jacket, cancelling the muffliato with a wave of his hand.
"Does he call you Miss Granger in bed too? And take points?"
Hermione blushed as Severus pulled her into a corner of the room, slipping a small gold ring onto her right index finger and speaking low.
"Your Prince crest for purchases, however Lucius has asked that you grant him a boon and use this at Madame Isaure's."
He pressed a small silver crest into her hand, it was too heavy for silver, platinum from its weight, hanging from a delicate chain.
"It's worn on your chatelaine." Severus explained
She stood still as he worked the opening expertly slipping the Malfoy crest on to the chatelaine at her waist.
"Also Draco has said I must ask, diamond, ruby or emerald?"
"I will wear what ever you give me, I just beg you nothing ostentatious!"
He gave a gruff laugh,
"You leave me chaperoned by two Malfoys and don't want an ostentatious display? I shall try but I make no promises."
He allow her to press a soft kiss to his cheek before he flooed back.
Minerva stepped from the doorway after the floo dulled.
"He cares for you."
"It is hard to hide yourself when there is no where to hide."
Minerva gave Hermione a thoughtful look and smiled,
"So are you ready for dress shopping? To Diagon Alley we go."
Hermione shook her head, fetching the feather from her bag,
"Paris via portkey, compliments Lucius Malfoy."
Ginny clapped her hands in glee.
"This is going to be so much fun!"
An hour later sitting in Madame Isaure's Couture sipping a fine champagne Hermione figured Ginny was right this was fun if you liked trying on dresses, for her it was torture.
Madame Isaure was an austere woman dressed in pale yellow robes, her silver hair pulled back in a pony tail hair hanging as straight as her spine, with warm violet eyes that assessed Hermione's body within minutes of meeting her.
When Hermione proved herself clueless of the handfasting rituals of her house, Madame Isaure had sat with Plum and discussed what fabrics were allowed within the rituals of the house, before she sat again with Hermione and asked
"Do you want a muggle gown or wizard robez? What iz your wish, you are lucky we can use silk but only silk, you may have your hearts desire."
Hermione stared at the rainbow colored racks.
"I've always thought my wedding dress would be like my mum's simple, not big and poffy." Flicking an eye to the dress that Molly was petting with large flaring skirts.
"I'd like it to be simple yet beautiful."
Madame Isaure gifted her a smile,
"That I can do."
The dresses were all colours she tried on, if it felt like the one Madame Isaure would whisper a charm turning it the correct color but none felt right, she wished for a lighter feel, a different look, something lacking in every dress, they were not her grandmother's or mother's ivory lace.
After the tenth dress she pulled Hermione to the side, "Tell me what you want, exactement!"
Hermione described her mother's dress; long graceful flowing down the body with a hint of a train, tips shoes barely peaking out. The top fitted, made of the lace of her grandmother's dress, the long sleeves beautifully trimmed at the wrist and waist, classic seventies beauty.
As Hermione spoke Isaure sketched, long simple lines, gone was the flowing bohemian seventies dress and in it's place a gown, runic embroidered top, long structured skirt, it wasn't her dress as she'd dreamed of but it was her's.
Madame Isaure summoned stacks of fabic, silks so diaphanous they looked ready to float away, dupionis the classic white of wedding dresses every where, raw silk nubby, discolored and lustrous.
"Touch, tell me what feelz good to your handz."
They had lunch in a small shop, a patisserie and boulangerie combined, drinking strong coffee and enjoying the plat du jour a yeasty chewy bread with thin slices of ham and sharp cheese, dessert a soft flaky croissant with a creamy centre.
They walked the streets of Paris wandering from street to street the young women pulling each other into interesting stores, it was almost time to go when Ginny squealed and tugged Hermione and Luna into the tiny shop with a red door and single window shouting at her mother and Minerva not to come they'd be right out!
They stepped thru the door and a tiny copper head popped from in the back
"Nous sommes désolés rendez-vous seulement" (Sorry we are by appointment only.)
"Nous excuser désolé" (excuse us, sorry!)
She started to pull Ginny back out the door, who in turned cried out at the woman
"Please no, she's getting married in less than a month!"
Copper hair came from the back, she was petite maybe five foot flat, she was bare foot her walk was sensual, her hips swaying as she walked, she looked older as she got closer, a muggle, forty and extraordinarily beautiful, with blue eyes the colour of the deep ocean, a button nose, high cheek bones and full painted red lips
It was unusual a muggle working in a wizarding corridor, but they said nothing.
"You are getting married?"
"Aren't you too young to be getting married?"
"I'm sorry I'm being rude, congratulations! It's just I don't normally see such young women coming in we aren't particularly cheap, I'm sorry."
"I understand, it's ok, do you mind if I look around?"
Copper hair shrugged, "Go ahead."
They walked back to where Luna was standing fingering a silk negligee, she smiled as Hermione and Ginny came over whispering
"It feels like acromantula silk!"
Ginny moved on drawn to a slip of pale pink lace, Hermione and Luna went to a corner where Luna found a ruffled panty and matching corset in the pale grey of Draco's eyes in Hermione's size,
"You need this!"
Hermione nodded running a finger over the corset, she hadn't thought of under-things she had enough, the elves slipped new pieces in almost weekly.
She knew that was Draco's doing, he'd laughed at her plain cotton panties their first week and soon after the transformation of her underwear was underway; laces, silks, satins in every pattern possible, in rainbows of colours; maybe it was time to choose some pieces of her own.
She moved on in the tiny shop drawn to a black negligee with silver roses embroidered along the edges, long, silk with lace panels along the side the back was simply open, she lifted it down it was heavy!
Copper hair came up then
"It's embroidered with spun silver."
Ginny and Luna had found them by this time, and with their prodding she added this to the corset set, copper hair wrapped it in soft tissue paper and gently laid it in a box the same red as the door, looking under her long lashes as Hermione paid.
"Many long years with your intended."
They slipped from the store, Molly and Minerva giving unamused looks.
"Do you know what type of place that is?"
Ginny grinned "Yes!"
Luna caught Hermione by the arm steering her ahead ignoring the tit for tat between mother and daughter, pointing her towards the portkey zone where they had landed that morning, "If we ignore them it'll end faster."
Back at the Burrow the girls giggled in Ginny's room as Hermione tried on the negligee. The tap pants and corset were beautiful, satin ties at the sides kept on the panties, the corset's lush brocade of grays oh so reminiscent of Draco's eyes left her wondering what he would say when he saw it. But it was the black silk with it's silver roses and artful back that silenced the giggling.
Luna stood walking around her, running a finger down her near naked back,
"This is for your handfasting night, it's perfect!"
Ginny nodded, Hermione smiled.
Over dinner they shared the tales of their day, Severus and Draco also steamed rolled by an elf, Couton with his ideas of what the Lords would wear had frowned as they tried on their suiting and finally pulled Lucius down to whisper in his ear at which point Lucius had stood and demanded of the tailor
"Ivory suits! The color of carved bone."
And the poor man in fear had pulled out every bolt of off white fabric in the store, until they had found the perfect ivory, the suits would be ready in seven days.
That night they snuggled in bed Draco placing small nips along Hermione's breast, listening to her moans and giving small laughs as she begged him to stop or don't ever! She reached for Severus connecting with his covered thigh, he slipping his leg from under her grappling fingers,
"No, tonight I want to watch you"
He watched, long fingers stroking himself as Draco slipped between her legs covering her in tiny licks, suckling on her clit, as his fingers pressed against her g-spot, Severus watched silent as she became undone crying Draco's name, clawing his shoulders leaving welted lines across them.
And when Draco pulled her to her knees entering from behind, her eyes met Severus's, he smiled and stroked himself as Draco methodologically brought her to the peak and slipped out making her scream in frustration, and when Severus seemed to throb as she looked on as if his dick had a heart beat of it's own, Draco urged her to climax, she came as Draco emptied himself in her, and Severus over his hand.
Chapter 16: Meek or Weak?
I believe we are now 1 nice long chapter away from the handfasting. Thank you all again for the follows and adds.
Wedding planning is not for the meek or weak!
The day after her visit to Paris Severus and Plum had taken off to see more of his aunt's now his properties. He'd come back hustling them outside to side long apparate them away, where they'd found themselves in a beautiful cottage although the cabbage roses would have to go!
They had prowled around and decided that this was quite lovely. With a stream running not 30 feet from the bedroom window, surrounded by what was sure to be beautiful snow filled meadows in the winter that were now filled with wild flowers this would be their secret place.
They returned home and Severus set about removing the charm off the house.
The fedilus charm is not easy to remove, at its core it is not meant to be removed but to last until the very last soul holding it's secret had passed.
Prince Hall had muggle repelling charms and like Hogwarts for most of it's years merely looked like a ruin, muggles stayed far away. There were few enemies, no one sought the Princes out unless they wanted knowledge and were prepared to pay the high prices that were often set, no the secret keeping was merely a spiteful move by Severus's grandfather to keep his daughter out.
The final nail in the coffin of her relationship with him, the final nail with his sister and him, the final nail that made his wife certain he was a cold hearted bastard; and he had put every ounce of hatred he'd felt for each of their rejections into the charm. Severus even as powerful as he was felt it wash over him as he broke the charm, bone shivering cold, hate had bound the charm even more thoroughly than any other emotion could have, it may not have tainted the wards but the house felt lighter as they re-entered, but now they would have to deal with guest.
Harry and Ron found them the next day dragging along Neville, Luna and Ginny, the boys clearly expected this to be as it always was but Ginny had other ideas, she pulled Luna and Hermione out into the garden where they could talk, leaving Draco with Harry, Ron and Neville; this did not promise to be good at all!
Draco believed in The Rules to get what you want use friendly coercion, extortion, hexing and cursing. But this was Hermione's friends, hell family, there would be no hexing or cursing preferable though they maybe, extortion would be frowned upon, he really wouldn't want her beautiful blue bell flame directed at him, leaving coercion as the only way to deal with these three!
Weasley liked chess and food and not in that order, Draco called for an elf and tea was served a working man's tea, with yeasty breads, thick slices of meat and cheese, small meat pies, and for dessert slices of victoria sandwich with a tangy lemon curd and apricot jam, no dainty finger food.
After they had eaten he directed Ron to a magical chess game, the pieces smiled eager for a new opponent, the black queen Severus's preferred was a blood thirsty bitch, Weasley would spend hours fighting the good fight if he was any good.
Longbottom? Plants! He pointed him in the direction of the green house, nothing poisonous really but enough rare orchids, and potion ingredients that he would be sure to find his joy for hours.
Harry gave him a rudeful smile, as he sipped his tea
"So what are you going to throw at me?"
Draco stood going to the side table and pouring two glasses of digestif,
"I needed to make overtures of peace to them well Longbottom, I only wanted to keep your red headed sycophant silent and did that the surest way I knew with food, but to you I will make none. I've fought at your side, I've said my apologies, spilled my blood, lost my mother, most of my friends and nearly my father, you Potter Lord of Black can kiss my arse!"
He slipped a glass in front of Harry,
"You can kiss my ass too Malfoy."
They sat in companionable silence.
Severus walked through the house, from his window he'd seen Hermione along with Miss Weasley and Lovegood in the gardens, an elf had alerted him to Longbotton in his greenhouse, and coming up he'd passed Ronald playing chess with his set in the library, now in the parlour Draco and Harry Potter sat sipping port and chatting, this was madness!
He was now certain he had lost all his marbles, knuts and whatever other measurements of sanity usually used, he was going back to his brewing!
As he passed the library he was amused by Ronald's language directed towards the board, he couldn't help himself as he watched the black queen slaughter Ron's white king,
"Mr Weasley there is an erroneous assumption you are talented in chess, I take it by talented they mean your free use of vulgarisms force your chess partner to concede I agree, you are quite talented."
He watched Ron's colour rise
"It's the pieces Professor it's as if I'm playing one level and they another"
"Perhaps because you are?"
The staining spread from his cheeks
"But I touched the board and the pieces lined up?"
Severus sighed and sat across from the young man,
"Yes quite but this board is set to play at master's level, if you have been playing a leisurely game, I assure you this one" tapping his black queen "was not."
Severus tapped the board the pieces lining up once again, the black queen made movements as if cleaning her sword smiling wickedly across the board, Severus tapped the board again and she frowned not happy to be playing at a lower level.
Ron held out his hand,
"Can we play at masters level Professor?"
"I will not go easy on you Mr Weasley"
"Oi you never have!" the game was off.
When the day was done and Hermione snuggled in Severus arms seated next to him amused by Draco's seemingly inability to work a computer mouse, she was amazed it wasn't that Draco and Harry had spoken without hexing, or Neville had sat at their table and eaten without spilling a thing and even managed to add to the conversation.
No it was coming in and seeing Severus and Ron playing chess, wrapped up in the game, not one word expended carelessly, focused on each move and the man across the table, they'd finally seen the other beyond the greasy git and the bumbling side kick, Severus had shook Ron's hand with respect and told him to come again, worthy opponents were hard to find.
Ron had promised he would, although he would be short on time, today had been very short notice with his upcoming wedding, work, and pregnant wife to be, he was short on time.
"I was thinking."
"Severus Snape thinking? Could it be?"
"There is no need to be rude Draco. As I said I was thinking, Ronald, Mr. Weasley is skilled in chess; he has the makings of a grand master I have a mind to sponsor him or rather I believe Lucius would make an excellent sponsor, I would have to cultivate the connections Lucius already has them"
He cleared his throat looking at Hermione.
"The remuneration surpasses any thing that the aurors could offer as well as being safer and more prestigious although magical players work between the magical and muggle worlds but I think it would be a great disservice to send him off to the aurors letting this skill go unused."
"I think it would be better if the offer came from Lucius, Ron has a lot of pride, from you it would be a handout due in no small part to our involvement, Lucius he would see it as nothing less than his worth to a man only interested in galleons."
"it is your opinion that he would find it acceptable."
"He's not stupid is he?"
Draco growled in frustration and Hermione stood,
"Geroff Draco! Sit and watch!"
"Is there a bowl and biscuits if I wag my tail too miss?"
"There's a thump if you bang the keyboard anymore!"
The eagle owl beat it's wings soaring high above the hotel, it had been a long flight first he had gone to Paris only to be turned away the elves sending him after the second person he'd been sent to, he'd peck a finger off if they weren't below, he banked and started his decent.
The owl at the window was large and loud, Blaise groaned and threw a shoe towards the window, Pansy's hand came down on his bare behind.
"Don't do that!"
She wrapped the sheet around her as she moved to push the window up
"Blaise it's Draco's owl!"
She took the letters off it's leg giving it a pat on the head, "Sorry Hermes, go on down and get fed and a nice long nap!" The owl gave her hand a small butt and flew off.
Pansy sat at the end of the bed handing Blaise his letter before opening her own, they read in silence then Blaise started laughing,
"Snape and Granger? He's hand fasting Snape and Granger! This is bloody amazing, we need a portkey home Pans! Pans?"
Pansy letter in hand was crying silently, she stuffed the letter in Blaise hands, Blaise sighed, fuck you Draco you wanker!
It was the final lines he understood why she had cried
I'd always believed that you and I would end up together at some time our souls entwined, I know now that was never to be, not in the ways I believed.
Maybe we were always meant to be friends, loving each other with the surety that only those who share bloody hands and twisted souls could understand. Would it be vulgar to call you sister? For I love you with the feverence of the orphaned.
I would be proud for you to stand at my side and tie my knots as I step into this unknown future, the muggles call it a best man, will you be my best witch?
Blaise held her mumbling sweet nothings, he understood there was a part of her he would never touch, he knew she no longer held Draco in her heart with the childish avarice they had called love, hell he didn't believe Pansy had ever held anyone in her heart with pure love, yet she and Draco egocentric as they were had bonded over being forced into positions they were clearly too young for in a time of war and that bond was strong.
He kissed her forehead, "You'll do it? You'll tie his knots?"
She nodded into his chest.
Hermione sent Harry her letter, according to the Acts of Unions the letter had to be written and a formal invitation to tie the knots made, Harry replied quickly an eager yes, she exhaled.
Draco was still waiting on Pansy's reply, Severus was ambivalent.
The person who tied your knots was your connection to the wizarding world, your support, they were already breaking the mores that said they should be neither too young to be intemperate which surely Harry and Pansy counted as, or too old to be unbridled in lust of things lost, Hermione thought maybe Severus would ask the Headmaster, he had been his father figure for thirty years and a legitimate choice no matter their feelings. Draco had thrown his coin to his father, Severus didn't have a ton of friends to ask.
They would later be surprised when he asked Gwain who suited the rules perfectly and suited Severus as well.
Hermione had her first fitting the same day that Hermes was spit out a portkey squalling in a cage letting his disgruntlement be known to the entire international portkey office.
While she twirled teary eyed in Paris, running her finger along the lines of the delicate gold runic embroidery of her top, Luna and Ginny smiling their appreciation for Isaure's work; Draco marched down to the portkey office to get his bird sans Severus, keeping his eyes pealed, wand ready, trust no one!
He got into the office only to find Blaise holding Pansy's hand, heads together whispering, the ministry summons to collect his owl had said nothing of them, he smiled to himself watching them talk, then steeled his face and walked forward.
"And why may I ask was it impossible to send my owl back the way it came?" he asked, lips unable to help themselves curling into a smile.
Blaise stood hand out
"Because the bloody ponce who sent him sent the poor feathered bastard all the way to America! We decided to save the blood thing the flight back."
They pulled each other into a masculine hug, stepping apart and laughing in the way of old friends.
Draco looked at Pansy, "So you've come all this way to tell me what?"
She gave him a stern look, "That you're mad handfasting with Snape and Granger! But I'll tie your noose around your neck."
He pulled her into a hug lifting her off the floor, "Thank you."
Hermione understood now what Severus meant by "living in a maladaptive daydream" after their dinner with her friends.
She had returned home with Luna with the intention of having a crash course in pure blood nuptials.
Ginny had gone back to the Burrow Ron's own bonding preparations also in full swing and Lavender was not pleased at all with the lost of attention to her vows. Ginny was expected back to try on her brides maid gown that afternoon and had only minutes to apparate to Madam Malkin's, before angering the bride.
So she and Luna had come to the Hall were they could have quiet time, instead they ended up having tea with Severus, Draco, Pansy, and Blaise, Lucius had popped his head through the floo looking for Draco and Plum had invited him to tea and he had joined them.
Now Draco, Blaise, Severus and Lucius were speaking of politics, while Luna and Pansy had drawn her into a chat about the cords she would choose for the handfasting; both of the pure bloods were aghast she hadn't chosen the cords yet, what was she waiting for?
Pansy slipped closer
"The colors are a bit like muggle vows"
Hermione's shock that Pansy knew of muggle nuptials traditions was unsubtle, it was clear in her face prompting Pansy to ask
Pansy shrugged, a small smile tugging the corners of her mouth as she smugly laughed
"I've dated a muggle." She didn't stop to see the reaction to her comment, she continued on
"The cord shows your wishes for the future and the esteem you hold the person in, it's more than just a string you tie, it signifies your affection, your aspirations for your future, it should show your love or hope of it."
Luna nodded, "My parents chose the same colors when they handfasted, my father said it was proof they were meant to be together."
Pansy nodded, "I've heard of couples like that" they fell quiet, letting the men's voices wash over them, lost in their own thoughts.
As Blaise and Pansy flooed out with a promise to be back tomorrow for Sunday lunch, Luna walked to the door preparing to go to Diagon Alley, at the door she smiled beguilingly at Lucius "Mr Malfoy... Lucius may I interest you in a glass of wine with me?"
Lucius shock was palpable, Draco hid his with a snigger, Severus lifted his brow shocked at the audaciousness of the young ravenclaw, Hermione's mouth gaped; it was Lucius who came to himself first. "I would be honored Miss Lovegood, Severus, Hermione, Draco a good evening to you."
Luna smiled and waved as they walked to the appariation point, as Lucius wrapped his arm around the witch disapparting them away Draco finally burst into laughter at the final wisps of color disappeared.
Hermione looked at Severus, "What just happened?"
He mirrored her inquiring look, it was Draco tears running down his face breathless with laughter who replied,
"Looney Lovegood just hit on Lucius Malfoy! And my father the bloody degenerate accepted!"
"Don't call her that!" Hermione cast a harsh eye on Draco, Severus laughed "Yes Draco you should show more respect, as you know Lucius is single, Miss Lovegood potentially may become your step mother, she fits his criteria."
Draco eyes bulged and he burst into laughter again
"Fucking hell Draco what's so funny?"
"Severus could you imagine my father crumple horned snorkack hunting?"
Sunday morning broke with chaffinches singing in the garden, Hermione snuggled into an arm and sniffed, humming in appreciation, Severus! "Did you just sniff me witch?"
She giggled "I did."
"You are a most unusual woman!"
"Because I enjoy your scent?"
"The miasma of flobberworm and toad is nothing if not an antithesis to the enjoyment of the olfactory system."
Hermione rolled her eyes, displeasure leaking thru the bond, early morning before she'd had time to rebuild her occlumency it was hard to keep her emotions to herself, Severus and Draco had years of practice under the most strenuous conditions, even as they slept their defenses never slipped but hers in their infancy glided away as she slept leaving her open, and now it flowed
"Kindly do not tell me what I'm supposed to feel!"
"I'm not telling you that your emotions are invalid Hermione! I am a potions master, many of the ingredients are persistently odoriferous in nature, I hardly expect anyone to find my scent pleasing least of all a young woman, and before you say it yes I know you are not like other young women but this is all strange to me, a woman in my bed day after day, hell both of you in my bed wanting me, caring about me, it will take some time to become accustomed to this."
Hermione settled "I understand, each time you or Draco tells me I'm attractive I wait for the but. The bond can do many things but it can't change our past, it can't change that we aren't used to being thought of as attractive, or that we are slower to accept that someone else likes us for us, or our past."
She raised her eyes to Severus who tucked her hair behind her ears, "we all have our issues we will have to negotiate through" He pulled her close allowing her to lay her head on his chest and listen to his heart beat, her head was going a mile a minute compartmentalizing what her issues were and his and then thinking of Draco, she neatly divided them up thinking of ways to improve their communication, she smiled to herself forgetting her barriers where down and she had broadcast-ed through the bond every thought, but he said nothing, their relationship entwined as they were it was hard to have space for yourself as it was, she needed to do something his gryffindor why should he begrudge her this.
She slipped from the bed, "I'm going to floo call Luna."
"Shouldn't you bathe first?"
"I'd rather not wait."
"He's not going to kill her you know?"
"I know but it's Lucius and Luna, how can I not?"
Slipping on her robe she left the room, Severus didn't understand, Draco thought it funny, Lucius Malfoy and Luna were not couple material she didn't know what they were but it made her uncomfortable.
She threw a pinch of floo powder in calling "Lovegood House" poking her head into the green flames, Luna's name on her lips when she head the blonde cry out she thrust more of her body into the flames then slowly started to back out, Lucius Malfoy and Luna Lovegood had never made it to the bedroom, they were on the floor in front of the fireplace laying on a blanket, clothes strewn around the room and Lucius's head was between Luna's legs.
Hermione slipped from the floo watching it quickly dull, the thud of heavy foot steps on the stairs alerted her to Severus coming, he stepped in his Snape sneer firmly in place.
"I take it that Miss Lovegood is well?"
"And you were treated to a sight you'd rather not speak about?"
"Oh I'll talk about it, I just saw Lucius Malfoy's naked ass Severus Snape! My soon to be father in law and one of my closest female friends! What happens if they end badly?"
"We hex him."
"Yes! Come now, time for some nice strong tea, it does wonders for shocks."
Chapter 17: Muggle clothing?
Ok here you have the beast, somehow I thought I'd enjoy planning their hand-fasting- I did not, I didn't enjoy planning mine either so eh.
Let's call this the beast, it was meant to be 1 chapter but words.
Next chapter will be the hand-fasting and we will be playing in Draco's mind for it.
Before the bonding time had been separated as before the war and after the war.
After the war; filled with plans to gain her mastery, enter the Ministry and change the wizarding world.
Now Hermione looked at it as before the bonding and after the bonding, at this point she wondered where the hand-fasting would fall in her memories, if it would stand as a definitive moment of her life.
The elves in their peculiar ways had slipped Ais in between breakfast and her delayed bath.
Ais ruled the kitchen as far as Hermione could tell. The elf came with the menu for the wedding, ears drooping as she stated the Master didn't care, the young Master had given his guidance, however it was the young Miss job as the Lady to give the final approval.
Displeased elves make life hard for everyone involved. Hermione pulled her robe closed and sat to discuss the menu, making no changes to Draco's choices.
He had taken over the planning of the hand-fasting, truthfully without him she and Severus would have left it in the hands of the elves completely, there was no need to question what was done. She trusted Draco.
As Ais slipped out an elf introducing himself as Poure came bearing a strangely thin bouquet, when Hermione reached to take the flowers he had patted her hand way.
"For the hand fasting!"
He'd played with the roses finding the perfect bloom for Hermione's fancy, neither too closed nor too full.
Questioned if the scent of the hyacinths was too cloying, and plucked bittersweet flowers one by one wondering aloud of their placement. Plum brought her head piece, he wove the flowers with sure fingers leaving the haloed emeralds peeking from the center of the roses, jeweled hearts of green gleaming against the deep red. The other stones covered by hyacinths, the bittersweet seemingly few yet their color brilliant against the white and red. Poure declared it perfect and motioned her down, she lowered her head and he slipped the jeweled head piece on, he was right it was perfection.
This is where Draco and Severus found her looking into a conjured mirror staring at her reflection amazed, she looked like a princess!
"You look beautiful"
"I'm getting married!"
"I guess that's would be the best approximation of a hand-fasting"
"Merlin Severus just say yes!"
"Fine Draco. Yes Hermione you are getting married."
Draco cleared his throat,
"You should probably turn around for this."
"I'm unsure how muggles do this, the film I saw the man slipped the ring in to a glass of champagne, Severus advised against that."
He took a deep breath and looked at Severus.
"What Draco means to aks Hermione is will you do us the pleasure of wearing our ring"
Draco held her hand ring poised to be slipped on, Hermione stared at her hand, at the ring held over her finger shocked,
"Generally you should reply in the affirmative at this point Hermione"
"Sorry ..I.. Yes I'll wear your ring!"
Draco slipped it on, it fit perfectly as magic tingled up her fingers, Hermione stared at her finger as Draco rattled off specs of the ruby and meanings of the stones, all Hermione could note was the colors, the buttery yellow halo surrounding the ruby red as blood and as she moved her hand both the ruby and the diamonds shimmered lit from within.
Draco pulled her into his arms "Do you like it?"
"It's amazing, it's more than I ever could have wanted or hoped for."
He smiled, "The diamonds are from the Malfoy vaults, and the ruby from the Prince, the gold is goblin mined we wanted a piece that both of us had created.
Hermione pressed a kiss to his lips, "Thank you." next she kissed Severus "It's beautiful."
"Did you manage to catch what Draco said?"
"Absolutely nothing but where the stones came from."
He shook his head, and adapted what she came to think of as his Professor Snape demeanor, standing tall he held her hand.
"Rubies are the most powerful of the gems, gifted it symbolizes love and friendship. Some call it the stone of passion which you are boundless with; it is also said to aid contentment and peace."
"Diamonds have no true meaning rather they supplement and aid, however yellow is the color of intellect, renewal and hope, and there are six diamonds because six is the number of harmony and justice which you my dear embody. I believe you will see beyond being a pretty bauble, this expresses how we see you as a partner."
Hermione thought this is the way of Slytherins, what to her before had just been simply a beautiful ring if one where they had conceded to her love of her house colors, had become imbued with meaning conveyed with two colors and seven small stones. Simple? Never.
Lunch was butties scoffed over a guest list that had swelled due to a seemingly innocent use of the protean charm, and word of mouth. It included much of the DA, a significant amount of the Order and those who had helped in the war efforts; even Severus's Healers from St Mungos!
Lucius seemed to be the only person who had respected the small and intimate declaration made, their hand fasting had become the party of the season.
Poure laughed as they worried over space for everyone assuring them that they had more than enough seating space plus Lord Malfoy had promised supplies, cases of champagne and wine to supplement their own cellars.
Draco conferred with the elf over cabanas, and seating for two hundred if not more and beds...
That caused worried looks until Draco explained his mother in her travels had once gone to a wedding where there were beds laid out in cabanas, where groups or couples could sit and talk privately. There were also fire works, a gift from Lucius. Hermione cringed at the thought of the twins involvement in her wedding but let it go, Lucius had not invited fifty of his closest friends she would allow him his well meaning intrusions.
Truly the man didn't seem half as horrified as she thought he would be with a mud-blood for a daughter in law.
Ais swore she could feed an army, and none of them were brave enough to question her as she smiled with glee plotting the meal; prime rib, roasted halibut, dessert upon dessert and a wedding cake to rival the Queen, at one point muttering
"An rud nach leigheasann im ná uisce beatha níl aon leigheas air."
Hermione asked to no one in particular "what did she say?"
"What butter or whiskey does not cure cannot be cured."
"Do we know any teetotalers?"
With the news that the wedding instead of being small and personal as the Lords and Lady had said for the last week, had grown into an event the house became alive with elves scurrying about.
What hours before had been good enough for them and a few friends was no longer acceptable for guest.
An unused wing of the house was opened the sound of carpets being beaten was all that was heard as lemon scented the air. Smiling elves were every where; Draco laughingly said he was pretty sure Hogwarts was missing a few elves, Severus didn't doubt that may have been true.
When Blaise and Pansy slipped through for drinks before dinner the decision was made to eat out rather than inquire of the elves about a meal, least someone end up polished.
Dinner was enjoyable tucked into a dark corner of a new restaurant in Diagon Alley, no one dared to interrupt as they ate.
Blaise was irreverent, Pansy actually had a keen intellect that paired well with her sharp tongue as they discussed the changes made since the end of the war.
It was as they discussed the war that Hermione asked Pansy why she had said to send out Harry during the final battle, Pansy gave a long look.
"You've grown up in a home, your father making all the decisions, you have been told who your friends maybe and whom you may marry. You go to school and you keep these same friends and it's not hard since you are despised because of your house at school; the house of your father and his father before him."
"Now you are young woman but really a child, and without a doubt that's what we were all of us, child soldiers! Your father is standing on the other side of a door, a man you have never disobeyed directly, standing along side a wizard who is fighting a boy; would you bet against your father, against generations and throw you knuts in with the boy who despises you?"
"I'd never thought of it that way."
Pansy gave an unreadable look
"You will. You sit Lady, future mother to two houses of pure bloods, generations upon generation have lain the foundations of these houses and every other house expects you to respect that history, and to do less is tantamount to treason."
"So you are saying that if I do not abide by pure blood rules some infinitesimal, pure bloods will see it as disrespectful?"
"Of course. Come on Hermione think! We did muggle studies but not magical studies, they taught you how to do magic but not what being magical was! I can bet that without a war you would have walked out of the magical world and besides weekend visits probably never looked back. You're idealistic, you want change but the magical world doesn't change. Only Hogwarts has always placed the onus on the pure bloods who aren't going anywhere to understand the muggle borns coming in, yet never taught the muggle borns the way of the pure bloods, then the cultures clash because there is only so much change one can take being stuffed down your craw. And only so much stagnation is bearable for those coming in, and there you have it dark lords are made"
Hermione thought for a moment
"So it's your opinion that muggle borns need to study how to be magical?"
"No. Not how to be magical, you are magical within your soul, your muggle dna permeated with so much magic that its structure changed, you are magic.
You can't be taught to be magical, you are or you're not that simple. You haven't learnt what it means, our history is more than the goblin wars and Merlin. Generations of witches and wizards have built this world and even today they give us their wisdom.
For us, Draco and I, we are aware each day of them from childhood. They talk to you from portraits and tell you your history, muggle borns don't feel that connection, they lack that feeling of belonging totally, completely."
Was Pansy right? Did she as a muggle born miss critical parts of what it meant to be a witch? Hell was Hogwarts participating in obscurantism? Sending muggle borns half educated into the wizarding world.
Blaise cleared his throat "And with that ladies and gentlemen I believe we've had quite enough of sober conversations for one night, I suggest we adjourn this this for another time."
Sitting in bed reading the Acts of Unions Hermione had to concede Pansy may have had a point, The Acts kept by brides for centuries was a historical prize.
Now she understood Plum's adamance she wear red, an old wives tale if there ever was one Prince's married in the color of passion for the women and faithfulness for the men, in the days of old where fidelity was woven into the bonds of many, the Princes had rejected forced fidelity, instead depending on commitment borne of love, a strange thought for pure bloods yet touching all the same.
She looked at picture drawn by hand by a bride of her husband to be, Severus's nose without a question was from his mother's family. The nineteenth century ancestor's bride wrote of a ring he wore passed down by his father an opal sized nearly half a knut that flashed red, green and blue as he moved his hands memorized her and her failed hunt to find a walking stick for his wand with a head of similar opals.
She wrote of her own nervousness as she approached her hand fasting, questioning her choice of colors chosen and changed again and again and what was to come.
Pansy was right, having a direct link to a history, knowing you shared now hundreds of years later the same emotions and experiences as those who came before you grounded you in ways that weren't easily explained.
Hermione thought of her mother's wedding dress created with the lace of her grandmother's dress from the 50's long gone in the flames of death eaters wands, she had always dreamed of wearing something similar, ivory lace with a train.
Yes she loved her red gown with the gold woven much like lace in runic patterns, but it wasn't white! And she witch or not had dreamt of her white gown.
She fell asleep dreaming of her mother, grandmother and untold generations of Prince brides before her, walking up the aisle in white lace on her father's arms and smiling at her grooms. Her dreams leaking through the bond leaving Severus uneasy at his impotence to make these dreams come true as he sat reading and Draco thinking.
The next day Draco sent owls, he couldn't make her dreams come true exactly but he could give her the representation of the love so many held her in.
The Weasley's owl was the first back both Ginny and the patriarch replying in the affirmative.
Madame Isaure's reply dripped with disgust as if his letter had antagonized her, who knew the perennially picky woman would be insulted by his asking if she would make a dress?
He replied back quickly with every detail that he could think of before she sent a second owl telling him to stuff himself as she was known to do, her second owl back was much more gracious yet cursory the artist within placated, the dress would be sent along with the wedding dress it would be as he asked, she went on about Italian lace and seed pearls but he lost interest after getting his answer, as long as Hermione loved the dress he did not care.
Choosing his cords with Pansy, Blasie and his father at his side he requested his father's help with acquiring black tuxedos,
"Muggle formal wear Draco really?"
"Yes really! It's a dream of her's, I can not give her parents, but I can give her this."
Lucius sniffed, nose held in the air.
"And why am I expected to participate in this foolery?"
Draco smiled in the moment looking every bit his father's son.
"As befits the position of the father of the bride, the father's dance with his daughter."
"And why not Weasley? Molly would throw every son of hers at Miss Granger's feet hoping she would bond with one."
"He's already walking her in to the hand fasting circle"
Lucius gave a questioning look
"Should I point out.."
"No need for you to point out anything Father."
"Why not Albus?"
"Tout au contraire with my bond mates still."
"Of course so I must debase myself to bring joy to the heart of your wife?"
Draco snorted, "Please you've debased yourself for the muggle Prime Minister and Merlin knows how many of their aristocracy in muggle clothing before, the mother of your grandchildren you should most biddable, she is the wisest witch of our age father. Intelligence like hers comes few times in a generation, and she is powerful, think of my children."
Lucius gave Draco a shrewd look the boy knew his weaknesses; family and power. Powerful witches begat powerful children, was a muggle suit worth possibly alienating his son? And women, small gestures often meant much more to them and he did need more ways to ingratiate himself with the girl this maybe just one way.
"I will do this only because one day you will have daughters, I will tell them of this dance and the importance of the suit and watch you bow to their wishes, now come choose your cords you are dwaddling."
Severus choose his cords alone he did not want nor need help, he wondered how Draco's plotting had gone as he stood looking at the selection of reds some with a tonal difference so slight he could barely see the differences, and only because of his years looking for the smallest signs of decay within his stores. He reached out pulling his final choice signaled to the proprietor he was done and the charms around the room released.
Hermione had the last appointment of the three, with Luna and Harry she walked around the small room enthralled at the sheer amount of colors and styles of cords, silks, cottons, hemp, woven in sizes from as thin as spider silk to larger and flat like the friendship bracelets she had woven at primary school
"Bloody hell Hermione how many yellows are there?"
Frost the owner, the only wizard she'd ever seen with paler eyes than Draco's sighed,
"There are as many yellows as we can think of, subtle differences may look like nothing to you but everything to the bond as it weaves itself onto the skin."
He pointed at the spools of blacks
"Tell me Miss Granger you see black, but which one reminds you of Snape and which Malfoy?"
Hermione walked over, she knew this was a test of some type, one of those situations that Pansy had spoken of where growing up in a pure blood home she would have been gifted this information from childhood.
She thought of Severus of his power, his sullen silences as he brooded, his love of the printed word and reached for a cord the color of ink, silk and hemp threaded with minute metallic black threads that added an infinitesimal something to the cord, yet made it harsher to the touch, with the hemp it refused to slip thru her fingers, it resisted, it was perfect for Severus.
Draco egotistical waters that ran deeper than anyone could see. He still had not told them what he had seen in his journey as they sealed the bond, he kept secrets seared in his heart, and despite what anyone would say but those who knew him best he was no play boy who was weak, he would give his all to protect those he loved, a hard learnt lesson.
She chose an cord that gleamed with the slightest of silver, pure silk and unlike Severus's this retained it's slip as she ran her fingers over it yet it's imperfections were obvious to the touch.
Frost looked at her choices and nodded approvingly, moving to take them from her and replace them.
He shook his head
"You want what your hope is for the future, not what they are now."
She released the cords into his weathered hands
It was much easier to choose the colors when she kept the men and bond foremost in her mind, thinking not of what they had done but their reasons, family, love, friendship.
She could have chosen a rainbow, six colors a piece for each man, but knowing that they would be hand-fasted as one she decided was best. Three single colors encapsulating how she saw them in her past, her present and her future.
The cord boxes were all stacked on top of an empty bureau in the bedroom, none of them peaked, they didn't ask what colors were chosen nor how many, they sat on the table until given to their delegate who would tie them.
Tuesday four days before the handfasting Hermione was at The Burrow dealing with Lavender and her unnecessary snide remarks on everything, Fleur, Molly, Parvati, Padma and Mrs Brown hanging on her every word, Ginny rolling her eyes and Hermione contemplating murder.
She had already had Lavender comment on her necklace that hung outside her pink tee shirt, "A dragon? Really?" A sharp comment on it being Draco's mother shut her up quickly; when Hermione yawned covering her mouth with her left hand Fleur's "mon dieu" signaled an onslaught of comments.
Ginny closest grabbed her hand,
"You got Snape to give you a ruby? How!"
Lavender sniggered to Parvati behind her hands "Oh we know how she got that ring?"
Fleur gave Lavender a severe look,
"Look at it! The stones are perfect! And the size of them amazing"
Mrs Brown and Molly cast considering looks at the ring and Molly spoke first. "Hermione dear you are muggle born how I wish you had married one of the twins or even Charlie you don't understand the significance of the stones dearie, they are asking for quite a bit." She frowned with sad eyes.
Hermione seethed inside and thanked every diety that Severus had explained when he had realized she had missed every word Draco had said,
"A ruby from the Price vault for friendship, love and passion, yellow diamonds from Draco's family's vault for building new life and hope, six of them for harmony, the metal mined by the Gobins for a new foundation for our family. They told me."
Mrs Brown smiled, patting her hand in a sign of near motherly affection, "Well then that's lovely! It's always good when everything is laid out isn't it?"
She kept up a non-ending stream of chatter to Hermione through the rest of the planning, peppering her nattering with advice on keeping a home, keeping elves in check and keeping a budget
"although I can't say you'll need it dear, the Princes were always miserly for no reason, and the Malfoys! You'll be quite comfortable."
Hermione nodded, lips pursed.
Lavender seemed to think she was the Queen of bloody England. It was bad enough she was stuffing the bridesmaids in yellow dresses and had even tried to get Hermione in one until Ginny had snidely pointed out that Hermione should match the rest of the groomsmen and wear black, she had demanded that Hermione straighten her hair and come prepare with the rest of the women so she could have her makeup done.
Hermione smiled sweetly wanting nothing more but to reach across the table and strangle the bitch!
The knock on the door startled the women, it was too loud to be polite really, a demanding sound requiring immediate action; Molly grumbled as she got up about rude people.
Hermione recognized the voice as the first low words were spoken and smiled unbidden as Severus swept into the room dressed all in black behind Molly, eyes assessing the situation, a small quirk of his lip towards Hermione.
He directed nod towards the room
"I'm sorry for interrupting ladies. Miss Granger, Madame Isaure has flooed and requested an immediate final fitting.
Hermione plastered a suitably unhappy look on her face, glee behind her eyes, and started making apologies, Ginny stood when she did stating she would go with her least Severus (these young people were really taking advantage of his new relationship with Hermione to test their boundaries) see the dress, the three walked out the door apparating at the boundary to Prince Hall.
"Where's the portkey?"
"There is none."
" The longer you were there the more ….uncomfortable the bond was for us"
Hermione stared, "Pardon me?"
"Your distress was sent through the bond. Draco was getting rather snappy with the elves"
Ginny started to laugh, Severus thought it wise not to comment instead sitting with his wand and a small book on potions ingredients he created a portkey, pointed staring at Hermione
"If you are going to Paris it would be wise to change."
Ginny laughed pulling Hermione out of the room.
Paris with Severus was seeing everything new, while her friends had pointed out pretty shops, Severus a polymath delighted in pointing out the history behind the said same shops, facts spilling from his lips like honey.
It was the name that drew her in and not the display of diamonds and sapphires, Cœur de Opal, Opal's Heart, Severus sniffed choosing to stand at the door and wait; the attendant was young, blonde, and handsome with a ready smile reminding Hermione of Professor Lockhart.
When she asked for opal pieces for men he pulled out a tray of ostentatious pieces like the one the bride in the Acts had written about, large opals on thick bands of silver and gold.
"I'm looking for pieces that are less extravagant? Simple, able to be worn by a potioneer?'
He slipped the tray away replacing it with another
"These rings are a bit more costly, most are antique bespoke pieces sold during war time, they are well charmed."
Hermione nodded looking at the rings, she reached for 2 side by side every different yet the color of the stones were near perfectly matched, multicolored fire dancing across the black
The first the opal was flanked by pale green stones
"Green diamonds very rare."
the attendant pointed out, the second the opal was a strip of stone incased in white metal on both sides.
Hermione watched fire dance across them as she held them in her hands, trying to think of what she'd learnt over the last few days reading each night before bed, although the stones spoke to her a link between Severus's ancestor long gone and Severus a new generation, she wanted, no needed to be sure that what meaning each piece imparted as she gave the rings, Draco's ring with the green diamonds would speak of balance, protection, and love, Severus's with opal alone spoke only of the power of the opal's alchemical meanings, the metal one of precision and endurance. Three, three stones, a ring with three parts signaling growth, she sighed and looked at Ginny who shrugged, "We should have brought Mother, she knows all this stuff."
Hermione shrugged in reply, "yeah but she looks like she has gas whenever we do wedding stuff."
The girls laughed and Hermione handed the rings over pressing her crest to the piece of parchment the attendant lay on the counter before slipping a simple black bag across to her.
Chapter 18: It was perfect.
3 days before the handfasting
Excitement thrummed in the air, the house filled with elves wearing Hogwarts and Malfoy crested pillow cases and towels, smiling shyly.
Over breakfast Plum casually commented they would be expected to sleep apart the following nights Severus scoffed, Draco looked longingly at Hermione's breast, prompting Severus to declare
"It's only two nights man! Pull yourself together."
They spent the day mostly apart wrapped in the hustle and bustle of wedding preparation. Hermione's dress came, Plum charmed it to stand covered in the beautiful garment bag in the corner of the master closet.
In another wing Draco and Severus's robes also stood, sharp creased in a closet, next to their robes Draco's surprise.
As they sat down to dinner people started to tumble out of their floo, Lucius and Luna along with Andromeda, Blaise and Pansy, Harry, Ron, Ginny, Lavender whose eyes bulged as she looked around the room.
Another batch came spitting into the room Neville, Dennis Creevey carrying his brother's camera which was confiscated immediately by Lucius, Cho and the Patil sisters, Angelia, Katie Bell, Seamus, Dean, Hannah, they lost count as more and more spilled out.
Gwian and Kingsley, Albus, Minerva, Professors Flitwick, Hooch, Spout, Sinistra and Slughorn, Poppy who gave Hagrid's apologies.
The twins came through crashing to the floor in a flourish of arms and legs laughing hysterically.
Bill, Fleur, Arthur and Molly came from the Burrow. The elves were besides themselves, offering each new comer a drink. Ais slipped from the kitchens to ask if she should cook a large meal, but was stopped by Lucius clearing his throat and raising his glass,
"We have been remiss in celebrating these nuptials, tonight my dears are your hen and stag nights."
a cheer went up around the room.
Severus groaned loudly moving to stand only to be stopped by Draco's hand on his leg and a quick flick of pale eyes towards Hermione, Severus looked Hermione was smiling excitedly at her friends, he sucked his teeth silently, stuck he would go along with Lucius tosspot ideas.
Luna popped a penis hat on her head, Molly choked on her drink, what ever Lucius was saying was washed away in a flood of laughter.
The groups were divided solidly along the lines of age, Gwian raised a glass to Severus from a corner, who replied with a lift of his wine glass, maybe to night wouldn't be so horrible?
As first group started to slip away to aethonan pulled carriages littering the front garden Lucius cast a disdainful look around the room Potter, multiple Weasleys, Longbottom, and other young mostly gryffindors.
"Stop! I don't know if you young people understand, hen and stag nights are single gendered, ."
Hermione gave a dejected smile at Harry and Ron, shy kisses to Draco and Severus and scampered over to Ginny and Luna laughing excitedly "Luna who planned this?"
The blonde gave a dreamy smile,
"Lucius and the lady at the club, it's going to be such fun just you wait and see!"
The women filed out to the carriages, Hermione making sure to pull Pansy from the outer edges of the mostly gryffindor grouping, Luna smiled at the dark haired woman and she returned the grin with a guarded one of her own.
As they left Lucius looked around the room, when the door clicked shut he spoke.
"Gentlemen for some of you this will be your first time at activities of this nature. I leave you with a muggle saying I was taught once in my travels, what you see here when you leave here let it stay here! There will be things of the exotic nature tonight. Things I do not need mothers and wives accosting my being for providing, if you have a problem with this you should accompany the ladies."
Fred, Bill and George sided up along Ron, who blushed deeply as Lucius looked around the room,
"No one? Good the carriages await."
Unlike the women's chestnut colored steads granians pulled the carriages for the men, the sleek grey beast pulled in sets of six large carriages that moved like ghost in the evening sky.
In a carriage with Draco, Lucius, Potter, Longbottom, Albus, Gwain, Blaise, and too many red heads for it to be a good idea, Severus dared to ask first
"What are these exotic activities you have planned."
"Oh Severus don't you trust me?"
"No!" small laughs scattered through the carriage
"Good, however I doubt half veela dancers will be a problem."
Draco quirked his lips
"Half veela dancers for the men and what of the women father? I know you would never be so neglectful as to not gift them an erotic show for themselves."
"I would never, however that is for Hermione to share if she chooses as you are free to also share with her of your activities tonight but not for me to say, I merely paid for the entertainment"
Severus rolled his eyes, he had been down this road over twenty years before on Lucius's own stag night, a liquor filled bacchanalia where Abraxas had rented two ballrooms and filled them with young people, liquor, and provided pleasures of the flesh. He had then brewed for three days after to provide all the prophylactics requested, atleast this time they had separated the sexes by more than a ballroom door.
Hermione looked around the room there were penis ballons, and candies clearly muggle. Luna had stuffed a bride to be tiara on her head, it flashed red and green, Hermione worried that it would burst into flames setting her hair on fire at any moment.
Molly had already banned the dancers from the room, just one had stepped on the stage before she had pulled her wand threatened the young man's business and tossed him out, fretting with Minerva and Poppy that Lucius was trying to recreated his own bachelor orgy and she would have none of that!
Hermione frowned as the dancer left she didn't know what he was but she was aware as he walked away he was no wizard, Luna near by pouted
"I've never seen a selkie dancer before, I wish she'd let them dance!"
Hermione had nodded the affirmative, she'd never met a selkie herself, but she allowed Molly this it was much easier than dealing with her moods.
The servers were all very attractive shirtless wizards carrying bottles of champagne and trays of finger foods, they made eye contact with each witch as they served, making her feel as if her happiness was their sole achievement in life; charming every woman there.
Luna called the room to order before Cho jumped a blonde haired server who she had just slipped her floo address to.
"We have many traditions as a people that we share with our brides, in the ways of the mabinogion I ask you to share a tale of your own wedding or those of a parent or ancestor passed down through your lines with Hermione.
To show her we not only support her in the now but we invite her as part of our families and a link now and forever to our ancestors, gifting the vast pool of feminine knowledge."
Hermione burst into tears, pulling Pansy close whispering in her ears shocking the whole room as to the newly flourishing nature of their friendship, when she dried her tears Hermione sat back and listened as each woman shared a story. Some she would forget, some she would always remember; she would never look at Poppy the same.
Some she wished she'd never heard, yet every single story was a link to the culture of the wizarding world.
A well of information not held in any book, gifted via word of mouth only within families and here she was recipient of multiple tales of many families each calling her sister, daughter, friend, and in Lavender's case bitch.
Hermione bubbled with joy surrounded by the affection and love.
Meanwhile the men were enjoying the food, drink, and dancers; well the younger men were enjoying the dancers.
The older men congregated in a corner with a bottle of fine fire whiskey where they barely spoke.
Lucius considered this an unmitigated success watching a dancer straddle the lap of the savior of the wizarding world. Longbottom had disappeared some time before with another, one twin was watching a stripper spit flames of fire whiskey from orifices that flames should never come from with a critical eye. The other enjoying lap dances, flashing smiles at the curse breaker and poor Ronald sitting sandwiched between Severus and his married brother forlorn.
Lucius sighed and signaled the young man over, if he was not filled with foolish pride he would leave here tonight just as happy as any man bedded.
Hermione was the last home, eyes rimmed red from crying tears of joy, tipsy from the champagne she tumbled into bed stripped to panties and bra waking Severus and Draco.
"Did you have a good time?"
Tears pricked her eyes,
"It was beautiful, Molly tossed the dancers out instead of allowing them to dance, so Luna had them share stories passed down through the families. Andromeda talked about your mother as she prepared for her own handfasting they had slipped letters to each other behind their father's back, she brought them tonight written on vellum folded into tiny slips. They traded them for much of the first year of her marriage until well you know. Your mother was so in love with Lucius!"
"It was perfect! Did you two have fun?"
"It was enlightening, young Mr Weasley has no head for liquor. Albus has found a muggle lemon liquor that he drank liberally, a drunk Albus is not enjoyable to any degree! He pulled me to the side to give his apologies and cried on my robes. I accepted the apology and allowed him to hug me if only to get away from his drunken humiliation."
Draco looked at her,
"oh he didn't just cry on Severus, he clung to him like a child with its mother teat giving him no choice but to accept the apology or put him in a full body bind and peal him off"
He stood dramatically
"Severus please I beg of you forgive me"
and broke unto gales of laughter,
"I know it's not supposed to be humorous and I'm sorry but it's Albus Dumbledore I would have bet money that he would never apologize."
Hermione gave thin lipped smile at Severus "Well atleast he apologized"
"Yes alcohol soaked as it was it was unlike him, and with that I would advise you take the potion on the bedside table least you end up acquainting yourself with the porcelain throne in the morning."
The next morning the elves awoke Hermione and Draco tisking that they would be late to eat with the Minister; they were right Draco and Hermione rushed to the dining room to find Severus and Kingsley waiting patiently sipping strong tea, the papers spread before them.
The Prophet's headline screaming "Handfasting of the Year!", Witches Weekly "The genuis of Handfasting" with pictures of the three of them standing receiving their medals of Merlin terse faced and haggard from weeks of trials, Draco sniffed "couldn't they find better pictures?", Kingsley smiled "you should read the article, it speaks of your collective bravery and how the trials drew you together, fighting to keep the man you loved out of Azkaban." eyes rolled around the room.
They walked out to the circle already set out, Kingsley pushing them to consider exchanging rings as well as the handfasting and them promising to talk about it.
The circle with large flat white stones and rounder black ones marking the cardinal points and at true center a stone that had been naturally shaped into a tooth, creating a new circle for a new family.
Closer to the house was a great tent, inside was if they had produced a ballroom in the back garden. The floors, highly polished wood shined; the tables were draped in pure white table cloths with exquisite white and gold settings, the table pieces great floating balls of white roses with a single red rose.
It was Draco who looked up and gasped, the ceiling was thousands of fairy lights draped behind swaths of white silk.
Above the seating area elves worked with thousands of roses and hydrangeas floating them to the ceiling, as they tried to see more they were shushed out the elves frowning they were spoiling the surprise.
Kingsley laughed as they allowed themselves to be scolded, looking around at the hustle of elves laying out seating areas thru the garden, the cabanas with the wide white beds inside, he had a good feeling about this as he said his goodbyes, a very good feeling.
There were rings all over the dining table, prompted by Kingsley's request they use rings coupled with the tying of the bonds, an unknown of blending of traditions.
Severus had found two tiny diamond bands to encircle Hermione's ring which were not objectionable and now they were looking for their rings.
Severus hated rings, it's why they had not discussed rings for the nuptials.
It was only when Hermione shyly summoned two small boxes from some hidden spot passing one to each of them she had managed to shut him up. The ring was painfully simple yet it held intricate spells of protection, strong and hidden deeply much like the new owner as a plus Severus admired the understated look of it, he smiled at Hermione and thanked her with a soft kiss.
It was only then that Draco opened his box, he had expected the same thing as Severus and had been prepared to give a heartfelt thank you for her thinking of him. Instead she had chosen a ring just for him, pale yet intense green diamonds flanked his opal which matched Severus's perfectly, each ring was a statement of each man's personality.
He found it hard to understand how this woman that he'd fought for six years could find space in her heart for him, yet still she strove to understand him and his ways; showing how much she absolutely cared in such powerful ways. He pulled her into his arms thanking her with silent tears. He would spend his life seeking absolution in her arms if she would love him.
No one tells you the day before the wedding even if you have everything taken care of craziness descends.
Due to the blooming guest list all the guest had been told to congregate at Hogwarts, the wards would give some protection from uninvited guess who tried to tag along.
Kingsley in a show of adroitness had provided ministry portkeys for two hundred.
Wards had been placed by Severus and Draco, they hadn't spoken about them, she didn't ask.
Hermione thought they probably lay in the lines of grey magic, protective mostly, capable of imparting great harm. Any conversation would result in an argument as she questioned the need for heavy handed protection, and Draco and Severus argued that they were needed, it was an argument she would lose so she didn't start it.
She had questioned Draco about entertainment days before and found out Lucius had taken control of it, after hen night she questioned if that was wise but he had shook his head and assured her balls held at Malfoy manor had always been filled with decorum. Severus had nodded laughing at her worry, she once again was left trusting Lucius Malfoy.
She'd also found out during the craziness of the day Draco had sent Luna and Ginny off to have dresses made, although with the hand fasting there was no bridal party unless you included those who tied the cords.
She questioned him unceasingly until Severus told her to stop trying to ruin his surprise. She thought of the rings she had chosen, the joy they had shared the morning when she had unveiled her surprise to them, she would leave him his secrets.
The night before
Falling into bed alone that night each of them thought of the other, it was Draco who released his occumency first.
Severus answered first
"Draco I believe this is against the spirit of removing us to separate rooms."
"No if I walked over there and slipped into your bed that would be against the spirit! This! this is just talking."
Hermione's laugh tinkled through the bond
"He has a point Severus, really there is no reason why we couldn't sleep together, we have done so every night since we have bonded, it's not like you will have a blushing virgin bride walking down the aisle."
"She sounds boring, I'd scowl and she'd cry!"
"Oh please men love blushing women who flutter their lashes!"
"I would prefer you not tell me what I'd want Hermione."
Draco chimmed in
"Exactly! I have grown quite attached to my warrior queen. I see you as Athena courageous, and wise, fighting for equality and justice!"
"Did I say something wrong?"
"Sometimes you are so sweet it's touching."
"And both of you need to go to sleep! Tomorrow will be a long and trying day with two hundred of our previously unknown best friends, we should sleep."
"Could we keep the bond open tomorrow Severus? It would be a shame to enter our hand fasting with it closed."
"Yes, now good night."
Chapter 19: Yes
I've rewritten this chapter three times, it has fought me to be "right". After all that I then split it, so you get the handfasting and reception followed by the handfasting night; which will not be all roses.
It's written from Draco's point of view starting about a third of the way in, he's often been a silent third and it was time his voice be heard.
Once again I want to thank all who have followed, reviewed, and favorited.
So as to not butcher the Pagan rituals please excuse me not doing a detailed handfasting and writing castings etc. I spoke to a Priestess friend and decided I could not do it justice, this is rather half assed, a mish mosh of conversation, books and google, I have changed things for dramatics etc.
Later Plum would smugly laugh that Ais had slipped something to make them sleep into their dinner; it wasn't true yet they had slept like babes until the elves woke them the next morning, even Severus.
Hand fasting in the old way was a show of familial unity, bathing that person in love on a day when marriage often meant literally sending a love one away, sometimes with a stranger, the last few hours spent with those who cared for you the most.
This day would be no different.
Draco had his father, Andromeda, Pansy and Blaise, Teddy toddled around the room in miniature robes grasping onto chairs to steady his steps.
With Severus, Gwian, Kingsley, and Poppy, who had laughed at the idea that the man she had spent more nights waiting on than her own husband would hand fast without her sharing his morning. Along with Albus uninvited with his twinkling eyes dragging a still pouting Rupert along.
Hermione settled with Ginny, Molly, and Minerva who fluttered to Severus's room several times during the day. Along with Luna and at times Harry and Ron who managed to visit both Severus and Draco in the spirit of being friendly while slipping overt threats into conversation.
She laughed as Minerva and Molly gossiped about handfastings and weddings long gone telling stories of run away brides and grooms, wizards led to the hand-fasting circle at wand point, and romantic elopements.
When the cleansing came it was Molly who oiled her body in place of her mother with neroli and rose before sending her into the bath, and Molly who fought her thick hair into one long single plait down her back, the three strands symbolizing past, present, and future
Luna helped her slip into the robes buttoning the million tiny buttons, Ginny laughingly placed her jewelry save the headpiece.
Andromeda came to place Narcissa's bandeau on her head entwining the flowers herself, shushing the elves away.
Hermione allowed them to do as they must her heart aching for her mother, preparing herself for the walk into the bonding circle alone; wishing her father could have been there to walk her up the aisle.
When Arthur knocked and stepped into the room she sat taking deep breaths waiting until Plum would come to tell her it was time to go down; she met him with a smile which he returned, he sitting next to her and reaching for her hand.
"I am not your father, but you mean as much as one of my own and it would bring me such joy to walk you down the aisle."
Molly started to cry, Hermione felt tears pick her eyes and started frantically fanning her eyes.
"But tradition states.."
"Tradition will be broken. Hermione you helped to end the wizarding war, you three helped change the tides of a war! So what is a small diversion of marital tradition?"
He pressed a kiss to her forehead.
"Today I am the father of the bride, a man proud to walk his beautiful daughter down the aisle. Proud that the men you will spend the rest of your life with were thoughtful enough to allow me this."
She nodded her acceptance, unable to speak choked with emotion.
Hogwarts was mayhem!
Albus had apparated back to see Hagrid dressed in his finest, Madame Maxime at his side tossing Rita Skeeter out the gates of Hogwarts.
" 'Ello Headmaster, Professor Snape was right, we done caught 3 of them sneaking in their animagus forms, the witch from Witches Weekly did make a pretty pussy; Russian blue kneazle mix she was. And sure enough I'll be planting plenty snapping citronella come spring for Miss Skeeter."
Their laughter rang out as they started the walk up to the school where everyone had gathered.
The great hall was abuzz, dressed in their finest, gossip slipping from loose lips around the room the guest waited with bated breath. Not one person who had received the protean charm message had declined the opportunity to see this handfasting. The hand-fasting of Snape the bitter, uncouth bastard, would have gotten atleast half of them out to see the unfortunate soul who had chosen to link her life with his, but the combination of Draco and Hermione as his husband and wife had sent them on a formal wear buying frenzy.
Today the outcome of their crazed rush could be seen through out the great hall, never had the wizarding world been more fashionable.
The Headmaster stepped into the great hall silencing the room with his presence, smiling widely, with quick words with those closest to him.
He cleared his throat and spoke loudly,
"Now ladies and gentlemen, the Minister has kindly provided portkeys for easy travel. Ten persons to each portkey, apparition is not allowed due to the ...nature of the wards where we are going."
He looked around the room meeting eyes
"I will remind you we are going to Professor Snape's home, the wards are not to be challenged! Portkeys returning you to Hogwarts are available, as well as floo out, anti apparation wards are strictly enforced, you have been warned."
He smiled warmly clapping his hands
"Now if you'd follow me?"
Severus came to me when he finished dressing, annoyance clear in his pinched features fighting to keep it from flittering through the bond, protecting Hermione and I.
He gave sharp nods to those in my room and called for a strong cup of tea, Plum dosed it liberally with whiskey.
I went to him, sitting at his feet resting my head his leg, his hand raised itself automatically to my hair, I don't think he noticed.
My father frowned at the submissive gesture, I ignored him.
"Six hours from now they'll be gone"
"If they aren't we can leave for the cottage."
He smiled fleetingly, drained his cup and stood offering me his hand,
"Gentlemen, ladies, shall we?"
We passed the Weasley patriarch on the way up the stairs, by the time we reached the doors Hermione was a jumble of emotions, the joy at Weasley walking her down the isle and the kindness of her friends, sadness that he parents weren't there, warm pleasure towards Severus and I.
Was this love?
The urge to see her happy always? For him to know peace?
Outside the gryffinor photographer was snapping way as we came out the door, Severus stiffened next to me, yet another invasion of his privacy. I wanted to hold his hand, instead I reached across the bond.
He nodded, fingers ghosting mine, I returned his nod with a sharp one of my own.
We walked past the blooming roses, the tent with it's doors still closed, elves darting around us laden with too large trays filled with glasses, we stood there for a long moment waiting.
I fingered Hermione's ring in my pocket, feeling her reserved happiness in the bond. I tried to center myself, feeling butterflies fill my stomach at the voices behind the trees. Severus thrummed next to me, the more the guest spoke, the louder they became the straighter he stood, the darker his mood became.
Finally I could take no more, I wrapped my fingers around his tugging him towards the nearest cabana, Potter objected, my father threatened to hex him,
"Severus is tense, if Draco can calm him all the better unless you want to see him snarl like a beast the first time a well meaning idiot tries to touch him."
Thank Merlin for my father.
I cast a muffilato leaving them to fret amongst themselves; turning to give a quick kiss to Severus, he accepted it without question allowing me to melt into his body and deepen the kiss, chuckling as Hermione scolded us to wait for her and when we didn't stop begging.
"I haven't got any knickers on!"
"I can feel your excitement, both of you. You are more excited by this than the bonding, why?"
I waited for Hermione to answer, she didn't. I looked at Severus in his white, immaculate, his hair pulled back he looked so young! Gone the pinched man I'd known so many years. Our eyes met, he expectantly awaiting an answer.
"This ..this is infront of our world. It is real in ways the bond could never be, shared with the wizarding world, our friends, our people.
The bond is real but private, hidden in our souls tempered with power, it is in our every breath, it is a constant awareness of you, both of you. Plus I was too scared you were going to kill yourself to be excited."
"All of our friends, everyone important to us..that's left.. is out there. It's taking what we've shared and sharing it with them. It's a declaration to them."
Outside Gwain, and Kingsley had joined Pansy and my father. Potter was gone, I didn't need to ask where, he'd come to the circle with Hermione.
They were all too polite to ask questions, they shared a look. Severus sniffed derisively, I laughed, let them think what they will.
We walked the path to the circle together, shoulder to shoulder, our suits brushing at each step, heads together I spun tales around the cacophony of colours our guest wore.
Heads turned, people stared, the low murmur silenced.
Lady Longbottom slapped the person on her left with a fan, her vulture bobbing as she moved. I regretted offering Lillet and champagne as they arrived, was it too late to give fire whiskey and tequila? Drunken them so they would forget us? Hermione reprimanded me, and Severus offered euphoria elixir. I smiled as we stopped outside of the circle.
The Weasleys, unofficial ushers pressed into service by father stood to the side, each cast his eyes about carefully, war had made them warriors even in this place it showed.
Minutes later the gryffindor photographer proceeded Hermione on Arthur's arm, I heard the click of his camera, saw the guest stand, but if music played I know not, if they spoke I can't remember.
She walked on in on Weasley's arm, and Severus and I knew nothing else but the witch in red, our minds chanting
She was. And each step she took brought her closer to us.
Kingsley had stepped into the circle the altar beside of him laden with the signs of the first harvest, corn, fat grapes, apples, large bellied squash, bunches of maize and breads.
His deep voice intoned the quarter casting, calling upon east- air, south- fire, west-water and north-earth at each element an offering. Finally he rang a small bell signifying spirit and spoke to us.
"How do you enter this circle?"
"In perfect love, and perfect trust."
We held hands stepping into the circle, Severus in the middle, our foundation; the sigil of our relationship.
Kingsley smiled at Hermione.
"I would ask who brings the bride, but I ask you Hermione. Do you come with free will, and the blessings of your tribe?"
A polite laugh went up from the assembled as she answered,
"And who accompanies each of you?"
Gwian, Harry and Pansy each stepped forward claiming us.
We exchanged rings first, Kingsley reminding all accompanied of the purification process of bringing ore to the perfect circle, of continuity as we slipped the rings onto each others fingers. My hands trembled as I placed Hermione's, she squeezed my hand as she placed mine, fire met ice a thrill raced through me.
We turned back to Kingsley stretching forth our right hands.
Gwain took his place, Severus wondered if allowing the three of them to choose the reading had been wise; we could feel as he cringed internally. Hermione told him to have faith. I...I sniggered.
Gwain looked at our hands pulling the witches length cords out, in their single braid of three, and started to wrap it around our hands. I looked at the cord braided tightly in a utilitarian pattern, I noted the colors and reminded myself to be present as Gwian spoke.
"We will keep this simple and short out of respect for the intended."
He gave a rueful smile.
"Severus chooses for his cords; red for passion, love, fertility and courage. Black, really Severus? Black!"
Laughter ran out through the assembled, I shivered as the first knot was tied feeling magic start a slow trickle up my arm.
"Black for pure love, wisdom and strength, and finally Blue for understanding, patience and tranquility."
He smiled at Hermione and I,
"You will need it."
He tied the final knot, holding the long tail up
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark."
He stepped back, Pansy taking his place, face stern, oh so serious about her job. I wanted to tell her to smile, but it would have been a wasted breath.
She pulled my cords out, my three the braid looser than Severus', a pretty weave that glitter with the sheen of gold over each cord.
"Draco chose for his cords, Black for empowerment, strength and pure love. Red for passion and fertility, and Gold, for unity, and prosperity."
As she closed the knot the trickle became a thrum, she raised the ends of the cords up
"That looks on tempest, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks"
She moved next to Gwain as Harry stepped up broad smile across his face, his hand holding Hermione's loosely twisted cords
My heart quickened, please let them be three, please? I counted once, then twice, they were and two were oh so familiar.
"Hermione chose for her cords. Black."
The crowd twittered.
"For wisdom. Red for passion and strength, and finally Purple for power and healing."
He then raised the accumulated cords
"Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error upon me be proved
I never writ, nor no man ever loved."
They pulled their wands as Kingsley once again stepped to the middle and asked us the questions long asked of generations.
"Will you honor and respect one another?"
We spoke as one.
"Will you share each others pain and seek to erase it?"
"Will you share the burdens of each so your spirits may grow in this union?"
"Will you share each others laughter, and look for the brightness in life and the positives in each other?"
At that final word, Potter, Pansy, and Gwain spoke the invocation, touching their wands to the cords
"So the binding is made"
There wasn't supposed to be fireworks, the cords should have melted into our flesh silent quicksilver-ed movement of ribbons becoming liquid, the tails curling up and disappearing silently.
Instead it sizzled fiendfyre hot, blinding colors becoming a spiraling rainbow washing the garden in color. And it tickled; I would never say that aloud, but as brilliant colour became flesh, the cords becoming an intricate tattoo of runic, us looking in amazement as the color pulsed on our skin, ignoring the assembled, looking in awe at our hands, each other, and after above as the bond made itself known without question across the sky.
Severus smiled then laughed, his joy spilling to us, and then we three were alone in the circle, his fathomless eyes drawing us in, the bond humming along our skin, singing a song with no words just a rhythmic hum that made us soar as fire, ice and darkness became one.
It sang and there was no need for Kingsley to close the quarters, the god and goddess blessed us in the bond the quarters closed with honey, sweet milk and whiskey scenting the air, and laughter ringing.
We held each other, giddily laughing, Hermione pulling us into quick kisses as Kingsley and Gwian shook hands and smiled broadly. Harry and Pansy giving each other questionable looks.
"What just happened"
Draco sounded breathless even within their heads.
"The goddess and god blessed us."
"Is that even possible?"
"When have you every dealt with the possible Hermione"
"But the Acts?"
"Most books today wouldn't talk about this, it is wild magic. When man had no magic, when there was no wizard-kind, when magic was not held by man but gifted by the gods.
We would have hand fasted blessed by the goddess and god, then left to enjoy each other."
"Severus Snape! There will be no sneaking off for sex Severus! I'm only getting married once! I'm enjoying the day to the fullest! If the gods have blessed it, even better!"
I laughed, her happiness contagious.
"Well turn around then and let's show the harpies our hands, the sooner this is over the sooner I can have you both writhing in my bed."
"Severus you are horrible!"
He laughed and even in our minds it was deep, rumbling, and sensual.
"We will see, won't we?"
We turned and raised our right hands.
An almighty loud cheer went up as we stepped out of the circle, and began the walk up the path.
We forewent the the greeting line as planned, even as they stared at us in slight awe at the magic that was wrought. Lady Longbottom had been the first to approach us. Holding Severus face in her hands she'd pulled him close speaking low.
"I haven't seen a bond like that since I was a child! Now no matter what banal fabrications you tell these idiots I know Severus Snape what I saw today, you lucky bastard! May the Horned One and the Mother Goddess bless you always."
She pulled him in for a quick hug before wrapping Hermione and I in her over powering scent of jam roly poly, overly sweet evergreen, and baby powder.
She was the first of a long line of hugs and handshakes, questions we had no answers for, "We don't know, I'm as lost as you, Ask Dumbledore." became our standard replies behind "Thank you."
Lady Longbottom and Albus who soon found themselves surrounded with questions that only they knew the answers to. Wild magic.
It was over an hour before Weas...Ginny and Luna were finally able to pull Hermione away for the surprise.
I waited hands trembling in Severus' worried that she wouldn't like it, worried that it would be wrong, worried that she wouldn't be pleased.
Her amazement and happiness overwhelmed us. She didn't say much but what she did stole Severus' breath, and made mine catch.
"I think I'm falling in love with you two."
It's rude to scuttle away to a corner at your own hand-fasting, but oh how I wanted to. Surrounded by The Order and more Gryffindors than anyone needs to share an evening with; but this meant something to Hermione so I stood with Severus, my father with Love..Luna gone stayed close, with a easy smile for all talking with Pansy and Potter.
We stood for what felt like an eternity waiting as the guest were led inside the tent, gasp of amazement from the ladies were heard, the elves had clearly gone above and beyond.
It was just Severus and those who had stood with us in the circle waiting when Hermione returned down the path, Ginny and Luna smiling at her side. The long braid gone, the bandeau sat on a mass of delicate curls that framed her face, her smile was brilliant. She had been happy in the red and gold, but in white it was clear she felt like a true bride.
My knees shook when she passed the bouquet of flowers; the same flowers as she had worn in her hair to Ginny, and took my face in her hands, tears gathering as he planted soft kisses over my face.
"You Draco Malfoy are the sweetest man! Thank you for making my dreams come true"
She kissed me, it was pure and precious.
She turned to Severus when I released her,
"And you Severus,"
He stopped her with a caress of his fingers on her red lips.
"This was Draco, he wanted you to have everything you desired."
He gave her a smile, turning her to me, his arms around her.
"This was your husband's gift to you, no matter what our future remember this moment."
He spoke and his darkness descended and when it rose moments later we were in tuxedos, she gasped eyes turning from me to Severus to father, and Potter who also wore one.
I tugged at my tie, she slapped my hand away straightening it with her own hands, all the time babbling in the bond before turning to look at Severus in his suit, smiling at his ascot.
"Always for you."
She laughed the tinkling sound making us all smile.
Father offered Luna his arm, Potter..Harry moved to Ginny, Gwain stepped ahead of us, slipping into the tent he started to speak introducing us, Lords and Lady Prince.
We walked in and the band started to play, I released her hand with a smile the first dance would be with Severus.
I stood to the side watching them, Severus with his gravitas holding Hermione, my heart sped as they reached for me calling me to them yet I waited, watching them.
Her dress, ivory lace, draped along her body perfectly. The back clasped with buttons of rubies, left unlined her skin peaked through the lace bringing a tightest to my pants. I watched as Severus closed the dance bringing her to me, placing her hand in mine. They smiled as I spun her onto the dance floor,
"You should have joined us."
"And miss the view of your back? Never."
She giggled and I couldn't help it, I ran a single finger along the line of those rubies from the high neck to the last one at her tailbone, and felt her want quiver against me through the bond.
We danced then, silent wrapped in the music. When it ended I spoke to her softly, offering my father for the father daughter dance as we crossed the dance floor to him, she smiled at his bow and curtseyed easily bringing a smile to his face as he swept her off in a waltz.
I stood by Severus watching them as they spoke, her eyes rested on us, cheeks coloring, heat crossing the bond. Severus smirked.
"What do you think he's telling her?"
"More than likely something that should be never spoken about in polite company."
I looked at him to see if he was serious, I wondered what secrets my husband and father held, his fingers reached for mine with no robes it was obvious to any who looked, but he didn't seem to care.
"You worry about a past that is firmly there. Potter is going for Hermione's next dance; dance with me?"
My mouth gaped surely he didn't, and then he was pulling me into his arms.
I was still smiling as we crossed the tent an hour later, finally free to eat. Ais I would never doubt again, the sheer amount of food rivaled any Hogwarts feast, but and I would never say this to any Hogwarts elf, she surpassed anything I'd ever tasted at school even the Manor, the meal was sublime.
We stood with a carpet of roses, and hydrangeas floating above our heads to cut the cake, an over sized confection covered with sugar roses. The bright flashes of Creevey's camera glittering across the silver blade of the cake knife as it rose. Our hand fasting runes bright against our skin, the Weasley twins calling for us to mash the cake in each others' faces, earning them a stern look from Severus. I glanced around the room, this was madness! How was this my life? I loved it!
We fed each other delicate taste of the cake, chocolate and whiskey, lots of whiskey, blimey Ais was trying to get us all pissed!
As we finished Plum stepped forward, with a flick of her wrist the cake's top layer settled to the side, the rest divided itself onto plates each piece topped with one of the sugar roses which then disappeared only to reappear on the tables.
After cake the groups began to spread out, the older order members remained in the hall section around tables chatting, laughing, talking about wild magic and the future; young lovers slipped away for walks acquainting themselves with the cabanas.
Balthazars of champagne flowed, the dessert tables were still ladened; the elves started to slowly send food to the orphanage, I think the children would be happier about the banoffee pie and macarons than the petits pois à la française and rib roast, but it was more important to me they felt included in this day.
The six hour mark passed with Hermione pressed to my chest, Severus to my back, watching a full dance floor. She would have it no other way, her joy palpable we could do no less but put our feelings aside and bathe in her happiness, she would allow neither of us to slip away.
We watched our friends dance, Blaise held Pansy as they swayed to the music, Luna had dragged my father to the dance floor yet again. Potter and Ginny in her lilac robes matching Luna's swayed feet away. Ronald held Lavender's hand as they slipped back into the tent, thank Merlin she was already pregnant.
Then the first bang of fireworks went off sending everyone for their wands; we were a touchy bunch. The Weasley twins sent their patroni frolicking wildly demanding that everyone come outside. Now!
A pair of baboons doing cartwheels, and speaking in the twins voices of the fireworks of the century, it was far from the enchanting romantic ending for the night I'd thought we'd have.
Severus lead us out, each with a glass of champagne in hand, he kept us back from the guest, slowly we realized he was guiding us towards the house.
"The view will be better from the terrace"
We nodded and kept moving only then realizing he'd wrapped us in his darkness, no one could see us. When we were through the stand of trees, a quick and silent apparation, and we stood on the terrace watching the fireworks, holding each other.
As the last firework lit the sky we called our patroni up, it was shocking seeing the change, even knowing that as animagus they were our forms, seeing them corporeal stole every thought; we didn't think they would change.
Hermione's lioness walked towards us, she stopped sniffing the air as if she could smell the Chinese powder the Weasley's used. Severus' was Severus, his tiger stood still waiting; mine smaller, shy, walked slowly towards me until he curled at my feet.
We gave them our messages, thanking them for sharing this day, inviting them to stay and saying our goodbyes.
Chapter 20: I can wait.
This is a very short chapter, this is part of the edited 7000 words that got chopped and then my muse ran off with a teary eyed blonde who wanted her man and I let her because I preferred it to the f**kest. Have no fear there will be more sex
We are going to see a bit more Lucius coming next, let us call it the humanizing of him.
Thank you for the favorites, and so on.
Severus knew. As we apparated to the cottage, some change in me made him look at me as if he'd never seen me before, then he shuttered his eyes. Trying to lock his darkness away as if its siren song could be silenced.
He said nothing as I stripped Hermione before him, nothing as she slipped the black silk on, nothing as she undressed me and I eschewing tradition sat at his feet naked, all the while his darkness teasing me.
I ignored his tightening hand in my hair as he kissed Hermione, instead choosing to strip him of his trousers and pants, I took him in my mouth grazing my teeth along his length, his hand tightened in my hair, and I moaned.
I watched him take Hermione black silk knotted around her waist, as I whispered in her ears, licking the sensitive underside of her breast, placing soft bites on her nipples.
I stared as her eyes darken, as her need grew like a storm; watched the first flickers of blue flame light her eyes, it licked our skin where her hands passed as she struggled for anchorage when her body and mind released.
They gathered me close their bodies spent, I smiled pressing my cheek to her breast, sleep took us.
I awoke as Severus stepped out of bed, gingerly stepping over our wedding finery picking his way to the bathroom. I listened to the door close before I slipped out of Hermione's arms.
It wasn't long after he found me in the garden watching the sun rise above the tree tops, sipping lapsang souchong. I didn't need to look I felt his presence, the weight of his gaze on my back.
I continued to watch the early morning birds redstarts, sparrows and finches as they sang and fed, ignoring the man at my back, when he was ready he would speak; I had patience.
"Good morning Draco"
His voice was caress, I wondered if he pitched it just so to stir my need.
" 'morning Severus."
"We need to talk."
He let loose a resigned sigh, I wanted to laugh; no I would not make this..any of this easy.
"I felt ... I felt your need last night."
"And? It is with scant verisimilitude that I could promise to give you ...that."
I turned to look at him, his eyes focused at some place beyond me, beyond the cottage, beyond this time. He takes a shuddering breath.
"I risk my soul to perdition to bring that into this relationship."
My eyes take in his gaze, the hunch of his shoulders, I test within the bond to feel this, whatever it is, this entrenched fear, but his occlumency is flawless as always. I know this much, Severus is scared.
I step closer watching to see if he steps away, instead he opens his arms to me.
"Don't ask this of me."
"I can wait."
Chapter 21: If I die
Lookie a surprise. ;) I've ruined their honeymoon, I couldn't help it.
Lucius could feel them; three of them testing the wards, making his skin crawl with awareness, this would not stand!
He slipped from the bed gathering the duvet around Luna, her hair haloed on the pillow, soft breaths coming easily, Lucius pressed a kiss to her forehead.
He shook himself as he felt them prod the wards again, for fucks sake the damn pilocks were ruining his Sunday morning sleep in!
He strode from the bedroom clothing himself as he walked, mumbling as he pulled his wand from the cane, he intended to hex first and ask questions later.
Luna sat up, men! He must think she was a fool, he'd added her to the wards so she could come and go as she pleased, did he think she didn't feel this? She accio-ed her wand calling her patronus up with a happy memory of the night before, sending it to Harry before grabbing Lucius' robe.
She was at the gates as he fell, shock plain on his face. She looked at the men from whose wands flowed hex after hex, curse after curse, before this day she would have called them good men, now without a question she would call them evil, six to one! No better than death eaters! She acknowledged the irony in the moment, slowing to look as the men went back into the protection of the trees, slowing their cursing.
A curse hit her slashing across her calf she crumbed across Lucius's bloody body, her leg unable to carry her weight, screaming incantations.
"Protego Maxima. Fianto Duri. Repello Inimicum!"
The hexes and curses that they freed as she fell hit the glassy shield with thunderous splashes of color. Luna closed her eyes giving silent thanks to Hermione who had taught her the spells when they had returned to Hogwarts.
Constant vigilance and all that.
One of the men strode from the protection of a large oak, past the yews trimmed low into the clearing, intending to pull her away. She could hear him shouting at her, his voice low and dull after the booming noise of the spells against the shield, she could barely hear him.
All she could do is beg him not to touch the shield, he ignored her bending to grab her ankle and drag her out, as he touched the shield his body melted away, disintegrating to nothing.
This spurred a new round of hexes, Luna closed her eyes pressing her head to Lucius' chest his heartbeat was weakening, where was Harry? She couldn't heal him, fear leeched cold into Luna, Lucius was paling, he'd lost so much blood but the black of his clothing hid the worse, she ran her hand along his body feeling for the warmth of blood fresh from the artery, it was his leg! She pressed down hoping to staunch the flow, and he moaned.
"It's ok Lucius help is coming."
He moaned again, and moved trying to throw her off.
"Lucius Malfoy you keep still! I'm saving your thrice damned life!"
He murmured and stilled, she was so focused on Lucius she missed the first pops of apparation, the first of the men being taken down, Harry with Ron, Kingsley, and Arthur; more pops, aurors.
She breathed thanks, canceling the shield.
"Harry he's..he needs St Mungos!"
She couldn't bear to say it, that she feared he was dying; she allowed Harry to pull her off, Kingsley to pull Lucius into his strong arms, his eyes met hers as he stood.
"He'll be as good as new Miss Lovegood, promise."
She nodded, grabbing Lucius' wand as it slipped from his fingers as Kingsley turned to apparate, then she fainted.
They were having breakfast when Plum popped into the room, ears low, towel knotted in her long fingers, refusing to meet anyone's eyes. She tugged Severus down to whisper in his ears; he nodded and stood, pointing his wand at Draco and then Hermione transfiguring robes of their pajamas.
"Lucius has been hurt, we are needed at St Mungos!"
Draco paled, standing.
Severus shook his head,
"I do not know, but we are leaving now! Where are your wands?"
He stood tight lipped as their wands were summoned, not speaking as Hermione soothed Draco with useless assurances, he waited until the wands were sheathed in their sleeves and opened his arms to apparate them.
Arthur and Harry stood against a wall in the reception area of St Mungo's, as Severus apparated in they stood coming towards them.
Arthur gave quick nod, meeting Draco's worried eyes.
"Fourth floor, we need to go now, he's refusing treatment until he speaks to you."
Severus groan, Hermione gasped, Draco frowned and led the way pass the Welcome Witch, his mouth fixed in a displeased moue.
There were raised voices coming from within Lucius' room, Luna was pleading with him to drink a potion the Healer clearly wanted him to take. The second voice, the healer's held a firm reproach that
"He would advise Mr Malfoy to drink the potion before it looses its effectiveness."
was heard, what wasn't was Lucius' voice.
Draco nodded to Ron, and Kingsley before pushing open the door. Luna looked at him with tears in her eyes.
"Please make him drink it Draco."
He nodded, ignoring the Healer, Severus drew the Healer to him to ask questions.
His father looked frail, worse than he had when he'd returned from Azkaban. It shook him to his core, his father was strong, he couldn't loose him now!
He held his hand out for the potion not caring what it was, bared from the waist up Lucius showed multiple hex and curse bruising blooming, he needed to drink this!
Lucius voice was low
Draco's hands stilled.
"If..if I die I have a request."
Luna began to cry, Severus looked towards the bed and then back at the grim faced healer, Hermione placed a supportive hand on Draco's back.
Draco opened his mouth to speak, but his father coughed and a speckle of blood rested in the corner of his mouth, Lucius swallowed no doubt trying to hide the evidence of blood. Draco held the bottle forward, waiting.
He came near putting her ears to his father's lips, smelling his blood.
"If I die..I'd like to bequeath to Lu..Miss Lovegood, the villa in Barbados."
Draco schooled his body not to show his shock.
"We spoke of going, if I can not take her... she should have it"
Draco acceded with a single word, moving to pull away,
He stopped lowering his ear again
"and my ..my mother's spinels. I ..I would have given them to her if we married, they remind me of her eyes"
Draco sucked his teeth, rising to put a hand behind his father's neck to allow him to take the potion.
"If you'd take the bloody potion, you can do all that your sodding self old man!"
Lucius laughed, a choked sound, a single drivel of blood slipped from his mouth.
Chapter 22: Lex talionis
Three days Lucius was in a potions induced coma, three days for a curse breaker to unravel the knot around his heart that would have surely killed him, and the numerous other more benign hexes. Hermione scoffed at using the hospital's curse breaker, instead sending for the scarred Weasley offending St Mungo's without a care.
Three days of Draco and Luna sitting across the bed each holding a hand, talking to Lucius, making plans for an unknown future while discolored bags grew under their eyes. Severus in silent vigil. Hermione worrying her lip til it bled, living on weak tea and potions. Draco atleast Hermione could convince to eat something, if only a few bites due to her tears, both moving only when nature demanded.
Severus folded into himself, all visitors tasted the bitter tongue of the potions master, Ron after his first and only visit said it succinctly
"It's worse than being at Hogwarts!"
Lucius was a friend probably his only one left from his school days. A reprehensible rakehell, an amoral avaricious psychopath, xenophobic for the cherry on top, although that had started to change recently. Lucius faults were laid bare for all.
But to Severus he had been over the years friend, nemesis, family, castigator, confidant; atleast after he'd given up on trying to remake him into his dark haired clone, there were just somethings a man should not give up, a rare pint at the pub and crisp being one.
Despite their sordid history he cared, and he knew had it been him in that bed Lucius would have swept in insulted every healer present, and sent his personal healer to be at his beck and call. They knew each others best and absolute worse.
Then there was Draco, his bonded, Lucius' son; a man child he'd watched grow and now called husband, there was no explaining how seeing Draco's eyes drain of their happiness as he was told the news of Lucius, Draco's fear leeching through the bond had affected him. No, there was an explanation, he broke. He was powerless to protect Draco from this pain, he fought the urge to break everything within his sight, instead pulling the poppet of a Healer close to question him; then sending to his stores for the necessary potions, Lucius would not drink anything not brewed by his hand!
Hermione played mother forcing cups of milky tea, and food that she herself rarely ate, sitting in a transfigured recliner with a book staring unseeing at the words. They closed communication within the bond faltering as one.
They were the talk of St Mungo's, there had been a one picture in the Quibbler Sunday morning after the hand fasting. It started with a surprised look as a rainbow spread from their hands upward seeming to coat them as it flowed upwards, then surprise turned to pure amazement, then joy; it was proven in this single wizarding photo that Severus Snape was capable of smiling.
If anyone thought it was some plot by the Slytherins to further entrench themselves into the public's grace (which some did), the staff who had come into contact with them over the last 4 days would laugh in their faces.
All help was refused, the Lovegood girl bathed Malfoy with her own hands, bodily functions happened even when in coma, and the witch dealt with it without a word to anyone, not even the son.
Snape, Granger, and Malfoy's son, they gave him his medications, one holding him, the other pouring and one massaging his throat to force his body to swallow; there were less expatiate methods, but when the Healer spoke of them wand hands twitched.
Hermione and Severus had convinced well guilt-ed Luna and Draco into going home to take baths and change clothes, Severus left with Draco returning one hour later with the pink cheeked younger man seemingly lighter, his stormy eyes hopeful; she gave them small smiles as she kissed them good bye.
Sitting at Luna's dining table sipping tea Hermione stared at the Quibber's Sunday cover, had it only been a few days? She sighed and looked through the window.
"The first time I saw Lucuis, I was seven his aura was dirty, I asked my mother why it looked like a stormy sky, grey and dark, shot through with patches of light, she wouldn't answer me."
Hermione looked at Luna who was staring out the window, she remained silent there wasn't anything she needed to say.
"The next time I saw him it had even fewer places of light, he was such an attractive man but his aura was so dark, it scared me. Severus on the other hand has always been the opposite, he snarls and postures but his aura has fewer patches of dark, more than Harry yet less than the Headmaster, he never enjoyed ..."
Hermione startled at that but reminded herself of the headmaster's past, he'd seen war before any of them were born.
"When I saw Lucius at your house it was lighter, there was more places of light. It's why I propositioned him."
"He's changed Hermione, for the better, Lucius is a better man now than he's ever been."
Luna raised her pale eyes to Hermione's brown,
"I don't want to lose him."
Hermione's throat tightened.
Hours later the first signs of the potion leaving Lucius' system started, small movements in the extremities, soon after his breathing became shallow panting, then came the tremors near lifting his body from the bed. Hours later one long shuddering breath that sounded too much like a death rattle for everyone in the room brought Lucius back to them snarling as he regained consciousness, eyes wide, grasping for his wand.
He saw Severus first and relaxed infinitesimally opening his mouth to speak, Severus stepped back, Draco came into his limited line of sight pressing his forehead to his father's before moving back pushing the healer out of the way, and Luna forward.
Lucius took a shuddered breath and his eyes fluttered close, Luna grasped his hand as the first tear slipped from his eyes.
Severus stared down the healer until the poor man stepped outside of the room, no one had a right to see this! He moved to slip through the door as well when a burst of magic surged closing it.
Lucius hand was raised shaking as if it took every bit of energy he he had to do that one bit of pubescent magic.
His words were whispered, tears still trickling down his face,
"no. we are family, stay."
Severus bowed, it was formal, and stiff.
Draco raged in the small room, his cheeks were flushed as he prowled,
"This is how it must be Draco."
The room dropped several degrees, as Draco stared at his father, hoar frost started to chase up his cuffs, his lips were drawn tight, nose flaring he spat each word,
"They almost killed you!"
"Because I took someone from them! Every single one of them lost someone to the Dark Lord, be it by my wand or not."
Lucius shrugged as much as it could be considered a shrug propped up on a sea of pillows,
"Reciprocity? Really? You would let them kill you to be fair!"
The frost reached his elbow, movement caused some to flake away, and icicles started to form on the glass and metal in the room.
Lucius shivered and stared at his son, so much power! There was ice on his eye lashes, his magic spilled and began to carom around the room.
Severus' voice was quietus, sucking the passion of impetuous words out of the room; he moved from the chair and stood behind Draco, who leaned into him, his head falling back onto Severus' shoulder.
Lucius watched them dark and light, his son and his son's lover, he opened his mouth to speak when Severus closed his eyes, tendrils of magic touched him and his skin crawled. Lucius' magic began to curl within him seeking to hide from the stygian force moving over him, but it continued on until it reached it's aim the ricocheting magic, Draco's magic. It swallowed it.
Lucius had never felt anything so terrifying or awe inspiring, this was what his father had written panegyrics over with the fervor of those muggle believers in a one god.
He cursed Albus silently, this power had been cut off! This majestic power had writhed under the Dark Lord's wand when Severus could have ended him, and the war with a simple word, because Albus feared Gellert Grindelwald's plans of pureblood supremacy, and had refused to listen to anyone but sycophants. Albus had crippled his own people.
Lucius watched them, Severus hand on Draco's hip as he spoke to him, he couldn't hear what was said but he could guess, the frost was gone now.
This was the wizarding world's best choice for it's future, a half-blood, a pure-blood and a muggle born, a new way with vested interest in both the past and the future. He closed his eyes leaving them to discuss, later he'd talk with Luna.
Draco watched his father close his eyes letting sleep claim him easily. Severus was silent having said his piece on forgiveness, and grace; Draco knew he had been absolved of his sins so they said; yet this was too new, too raw to forgive at this moment. He turned to Severus giving him a long look,
"I..I need Hermione."
Draco found Hermione in the tearoom, picking at butties with Luna who stood and smiled as he came, gifting a kiss before leaving. He sat heavily before Hermione,
"How did you forgive?"
"The death eaters who ...took your parents, how did you forgive them?"
She looked at him guiltily, and the knowledge startled him into speaking
She shook her head, and cast a muffliato
"No, every hex I threw on the battle field was for them, every death eater I took down I took down in their names. Not the light, not for Harry or Dumbledore, for my parents muggles with no power who died because they loved me."
"Father wants me to forgive them, he will ask them to free all but the leader."
She nodded, waiting for him to continue, patience was a requirement in a home with Slytherins.
"He- Marius the leader is a dark lord sympathizer, he stirred them up to kill ...to kill Mother..and then took the news to the few death eaters left who taunted Father with his powerlessness. Then he stirred up a different group to come after Father, the first ones refused to do anything more, killing a wandless woman was apparently more that their pathetic hearts could take."
Hermione held out her hand and he took it,
"I killed on the battlefield, men who had bounced me on their knee, men who taught me to duel, they taught me a victor takes no quarter. Every hex I used, every curse I took a man down with was taught at the knee of my father and his brothers in arms."
He looked at her,
"Clive, Laurens, Wmffre, Gaenor, Haidrian,"
He took a breath and stared at her as if daring her to condemn him.
"Rastaban; the ministry gave me the the Lestange vault because I murdered my own uncle, proved I was really on the side of light you see"
He lowered his eyes, his voice dropped to a whisper.
"If I can't forgive myself, how can I forgive others?"
Hermione squeezed his hand
"Forgiveness isn't a quick thing, you work on yourself, I'll make no promises on the ones who took my parents, I rather think living well is my version of moving on as it comes to them. Together we'll see how we feel about the lot at your father's house. Right?"
He smiled it was tiny, but hopeful
Chapter 23: Formidable witches
If the hairdresser pulled Hermione's hair any tighter she was going to hex her! She and Luna had been dragged from St Mungo's last night, given dreamless sleep and put to bed.
If having one's father in law nearly murdered didn't excuse you from attending a wedding what would?
If Hermione was truthful as much as she loved Ron she'd hoped that Lucius being cursed would have got her out of this, or atleast allowed her to be just a guest; Lavender's fixation at dressing her in pink, and demands that she come have her hair and makeup done with the bridesmaids made her want to hex.. well everyone.
Maybe living with Severus was rubbing off on her?
Instead Draco was going to the wedding as his father's representative, they had sat through Severus' lecture on the proper actions of a benefactor, and the benefactor's representative, now tucked into the breast pocket of Draco's robes was an vault transfer for a suitably preposterous amount of money that Lav Lav would hopefully piss herself over, keeping her mouth closed for the rest of the night after Ron showed her, one could hope. Apparently wizarding bets on chess were very profitable.
Hermione sighed as the hairdresser poked the final charmed pin in her hair, conjuring a mirror with great flair. She said the correct things and smiled as the witch left with a large tip slipped to her by Draco.
Isaure had sent three dresses with an elf all in the same flat black as the grooms men suits and robes, classic styles, nothing near as pink, frilly or detailed as the bridesmaids. Even with the cursed scars now gone Hermione chose one which covered her arms, with a bateau neckline the dress swept along her body, the skirt's slight flair make it comfortable to walk in, a small gold lion broach for decoration a gift from her mother before..before.
Her shoes were low heeled, and as sensible as she could get by Draco. She wore her dragon necklace tucked into her top, her wedding rings and a pair of small earrings.
When she was dressed she kissed Draco goodbye, waved to Luna, then hefted the basket Plum set next to her into her hip enjoying the weight of it. A gift from Severus, whiskey and champagne. She hoped the boys had some control, Molly would hex her if they turned up drunk.
Severus sat with his back to the wall reading as Lucius slept. He'd packed his bond mates off home last night along with Miss Lovegood, then he and Lucius had spent the night talking, it had been enlightening and frightening.
Monday Lucius would go home, he'd talk to Hermione and Draco then.
The wedding had been ostentatious; 25 attendants, a dress to rival a royal, a blinding pink only Umbridge would have worn for the bridesmaids, Hermione smoothed the black of her dress and smiled, she had gotten out of the dress, and most of the matching flowers only having a small spring poked into her hair.
Draco was across the room talking with Kingsley, Luna was speaking with a Patel sister, when a strange woman sat next to her.
Hermione watched the woman carefully, the woman nodded and she gave a cut nod in response before speaking
"Excuse me this seat is taken."
The woman glowered,
"Lady Prince, "
Hermione stopped her with a raised hand,
"You want something that is clearly in the realm of my husbands, you'll find Draco with the minister, and feel free to make an appointment to speak with Severus."
The woman looked at Hermione and sighed.
"Muggleborns. I am Lady Edith Hawkson, Viscountess."
She offered her hand and Hermione accepted.
"You are being invited to a ladies tea, Lady Longbottom has said we should extend this offer based on the blessing of your recent bonding, your well known intellectual strength, and the fact that you are held in great esteem."
Hermione gave a curt nod Severus would be proud of. Esteemed, ha! She thought she along with her husbands were considered opprobrious at this point, she mentally exhaled wishing they had kept the bond open, Severus would have enjoyed this.
"I'll think about it."
The Viscountess nodded and stood.
"Do, you will find that we rarely invite one so young to join us, it is quite a coup."
Luna sat next to her minutes later,
"Everyone is talking about the fact that the Lady Manticore's have invited you to join them for tea."
Hermione stared at Luna
"Mrs Hawkson invited you to tea. She and Neville's grandmother head up the Lady Manticore's, I don't remember what they are really called though, they are all like Neville's new boggart!"
The blond's eyes closed, Hermione poked her, thinking of Neville's boggart, no longer Severus dressed as his grandmother, it had been replaced by his grandmother after she had left several death eaters not only well hexed but eunuchs after the final battle.
"Nasty bits of work?"
Luna opened her eyes and looked across the room, Hermione wasn't sure if she was following the spot lit dancers or lint.
"Formidable witches wizards fear."
Hermione sat back, maybe she would go to tea.
Draco rolled his eyes,
"Lady Prince, Duchess of Carmarthen, at some point you will become a Marchioness, I'd have to ask father. When all these people were calling Severus Lord didn't it occur it to you it was more than respect?"
"People called your father Lord all these years I didn't know he was a peer! A prat, yes! I wouldn't guess he was a magical tory!"
Draco rubbed his eyes,
"Well now you are a peer too, twice over! And you are having tea with the Mulieres."
"You'll have to wear a hat and gloves!"
Chapter 24: Tuatha de' Danann
Hermione rolled over Monday morning with a throbbing headache; Severus was right, reopening the bond was much too painful to be worth closing it off for any extended period. They would have to learn to deal with each others' emotional baggage as events happened.
She struggled to the bathroom, snatching a headache potion out of the medicine cabinet, and moaned as the potion worked.
She was putting on her over robe when Severus came out of the shower, hair pressed to his scalp, chest bare, the butterflies that had taken up residence in her tummy fluttered awake.
A tiny elf popped in with two cups of coffee, Severus' lips ticked up just slightly at first sip.
They dressed in silence, forgoing breakfast and disapparating to St Mungo's. Lucius' room was surprisingly empty when Hermione got there alone, Severus waylaid by a wizard on the second floor.
Lucius coughed as he sat up, giving her a long look.
"So are you taking it?"
He narrowed his eyes, "Severus will speak to you about it later."
"Or you could tell me now?"
He rested his head back, his eyes closing,
"What do you want to do with your life Miss Gra..Hermione?"
"I'm going to become a potions mistress, you know this."
He raised his hand to cover his eyes
"No! Before it was drilled into you that you must do something sensible, and all that tripe! Wasn't it the elves?"
"I was concerned about the plight of house elf enslavement!"
"They threatened me quite effectively."
Lucius laughed, and struggled to sit up.
"I want to give you my seat on the board of Hogwarts, no one will argue against you the darling of the wiazarding world, and now with no apprenticeship..." he shrugged
"What do you mean no apprenticeship?"
"You cannot apprentice to your husband."
Hermione gave him a shocked look,
"Oh he'll still train you, but in the matter of spouses it's believed that a warm heart overcomes cold intellect; they'll be loath to accredit you."
He waved his hand as it batting away a fly
"That is of no matter, I offer you a chance to make real change. I heard Augusta invited you to her ladies tea, you should go! Infact I think you should endeavor to become quite friendly with these women, then we shall talk in say.. 6 months?"
Hermione gave him a hard look,
"You are plotting! And considering using me!"
"No my dear daughter in law, I'm giving you the occasion to see the wizarding world at its most interesting. Then we'll plot, you little lions often are ill suited."
"The real world."
He lifted his head and held his hand out a Padeshah awoken from his rest.
"Now come, I'm ready to leave this place."
Severus' Aunt Ce was a delight! And unlike her taciturn husband Hermione trusted her to speak openly, and truthfully. Since her talk with Lucius she'd had Celia's portrait moved to the small office she used.
In an unusual departure from Slytherin tactics Lucius had warned her he was plotting. Severus and then Draco had agreed with his plotting; and while she was none the wiser to what exactly they wanted her to do, she was aware that this future somehow hinged on his placing her as his successor on Hogwarts board, and the fact that a little known group of women had invited her to tea.
Ce strightened the cameo at her throat, and smiled at Hermione with a cat got the cream look that was all too familiar.
"You've figured it out?"
The portrait nodded,
"You aren't going to tell me?"
She shook her painted head, loosening tendrils around her long face; Hermione was tempted to pout,
"It's not that I don't want to tell you, but he is a Malfoy." She shrugged a delicate move that caused her fine shawl to slip from her shoulders, "Malfoys' plot, like Prewett's breed.. plenteous. Placing you on the board is a sure move to reap the benefits not only of the wizarding world's respect of you, but your dislike of Albus. You should accept the offer immediately, no sense in letting people forget who you are. "
"His taking an interest in your occupational future is I think all together a different beast. Hogwarts board is not particularly time consuming if what I remember still is correct"
She shrugged and the shawl slipped again,
"Trust that Severus knows, trust that he will tip his hand at some point, nothing can be finalized without your involvement, and agreement. They are waiting for you to figure it out."
Hermione bit a cookie viciously.
"Are you or are you not a witch?"
A spell flash of purple came too close to Hermione's hair for comfort, Lucius' voice bounced over the garden in the chill of early morning mist, she thought she might hate her husbands right now, why was she the one fighting Lucius?
She sent a hex flying in the general area where the flash had come from, nothing; and started moving along the hedgerow when a 2nd flash intercepted her path.
She remained silent; Lucius was unsurprisingly an effective combatant, and this morning he'd joined them in their practice session, if she parted the trees to her left Draco and Luna would be sipping tea waiting on the terrace. Somewhere in the stillness of early morning Severus monitored them, she reached out to feel him, his power nipped at her. "Focus!"
She stilled, the bond. The magic! She closed her eyes, calling for her bluebell flame and found it an inferno, it teased her to send it out dancing along her finger tips, Hermione felt a giggle bubble up, oh yes Lucius I am a witch.
It took thirty long minutes before Lucius moved, the sun had risen, the mist burnt way, the birds were out, he started to slip towards the house when a flash of silver blond caught her eye. Hermione slipped to her stomach and directed the flame with her wand, what started as tiny droplets of flame blocked Lucius path as a wall, she threw her voice
"Do you concede Lucius?"
She closed her eyes calling her flame back,
"However next time Hermione, seek, and ye shall find. My knees aren't what they used to be."
Hermione couldn't strangle the laughter that spilled, making the birds take flight; Lucius quoting the bible? Ludicrous.
Augusta Longbottom was a bitch! Hermione was sure of this, as she was sure this invitation for tea for torture for some unknown slight to Neville during school. The chairs were hard, the tea tepid, and worse bland, the sandwiches horrible; and above all she had been forced to dress like her grandmother! Chanel or not this tweed monstrosity with matching hat and gloves, and the single mindedness of Severus that had her dressed with three! Three lengths of pearls, was too much!
She was going to be unable to attend anymore Ladies of Honor (who sit and talk about nothing) meetings for the foreseeable future. She had been asked one inane question after another.
This frame of mind was why when Lady Longbottom smiled at Hermione, and asked what her opinions of the Hogwarts syllabus were, Hermione hadn't thought to edit herself like Lucius, Draco and Severus had pressed her to do, but said plainly.
"I think we muggleborns are getting shafted, not that the purebloods have it much better! The only one that we learnt any history about is the Goblins!"
The room grew silent, Hermione raised an eyebrow in a move reminiscent of Severus, daring anyone in the room to disagree.
Some old biddy choked on her tea, her hard faced neighbour pounding her back. Augusta smiled, and offered Hermione a new cup of tea poured from her personal pot, piping hot the golden tea smelled of jasmine, lemon, and honey.
"Really Lady Prince? I've often said the same thing. I believe it will be quite a treat having you replace Malfoy, tea cake?"
Hermione sipped her tea and gave Neville's grandmother a long look, this tea was hot and sublime – jasmine and lemon, leaving a verdant after taste; the cake was moist and the filling was fresh berries folded into a lemon custard. She took another sip, watching the room, more of them met her eyes now. There were more open smiles, and Hermione was acutely aware that she had passed some unknown test, a weaker witch would be stroppy over this sort of treatment.
If Hermione was truthful she believed over that past few months she'd learnt the men she'd bonded to well enough, but right now she wasn't sure.
Severus lips were in a fine line, Draco's adam's apple was bouncing, and both had flared their nostrils at her. Silence dominated the room, and she was pretty sure the only way out of it was her apologizing for insulting Millicent Saddleson nee Bulstrode, and she hadn't insulted the witch! No, she had merely questioned if Millicent was a good choice to adopt a child from the orphanage, and that had sent Draco into a rage!
She's heard this before, in kinder language. The wizarding world didn't want the orphans, many of them children of death eaters found themselves without homes with their parents dead, or imprisoned, what remained of their families rejected them.
If Millicent with her American husband were willing to take not one but a silbling group, he thought it an excellent idea, anything that got them new names, and even better out of England.
Yet Hermione could only think of the big bubbied bully that had taunted her in school. She bit her lip, the Ministry had refused to allow two known death eaters to adopt any of the children, spies of the order or not, no matter how much money and time they gave to these children they would never be their parents. She'd hardened her heart to that fact sometime after Kingsley's refusal to bend the rules and allow the children to come to the house for a holiday. She'd held a curly haired baby with eyes the blue of sapphires and cried, until Draco had dragged her home. Maybe Millicent wouldn't be a horrible mother?
"I request a motion to reconsider the instruction of Wizarding Tradition and History at Hogwarts!"
Dumbledore stood quickly, and Madam Bones cousin of Susan and current pain in the arse Chairwoman of the board of Hogwarts dropped her gavel swiftly.
"Sit headmaster! Let us hear Madam Longbottom, this is the first time I've heard this motion raised."
Albus sat, casting his eyes over the 12 governors, the Hufflepuffs would vote with the Gryffindors and they had more of them than any other house with Hermione there, he sat back, let them chatter, he would doze.
He awoke as the gavel fell,
"The motion is here by passed for the introduction of Wizarding Tradition and History, an endowment for professorship and all materials necessary for competent education compliments Ladies Longbottom, and Prince, endowment is restricted strictly to this subject. The portfolio will be over seen by the goblin Uncher at Gringotts, Diagon Alley."
He stood spluttering but there was nothing he could do, the funding was there, at best he could delay finding a professor; he shot Hermione a displeased look, the girl smiled and waved.
It was the 6th month when she realized what the plan was, an embarrassingly long period of time if you didn't consider everything they had accomplished in that time.
Severus had his potions, she often spent time with him working. Draco was working on the charms that allowed the computer to work, and the orphanage; and she, well Albus was close to naming her the new dark lord along with Neville's grandmother, who'd told her to "call me Augusta, it's nice having some one to pull the old bastard's todger!"
Augusta invited them to dinner, and Hermione to a scarily large amount of meetings, where she would sit though droning speeches while Augusta whispered to her every secret the paragons of the wizarding world held dear.
They had also been working on finding the limits of their power, and their animagus forms, her lioness, their tigers.
And it would have continued like this if not for Imbolc. Yule had sped past, they had forgone the Burrow and spent it at the orphanage, with only one parent between the three of them it was apropos.
New Years had been spent in a church, asses numb; Draco dozing being roused with sharp elbows each time the liturgy called them to stand.
Valentines would pass with very little fuss for them, Ron's son would come into the world, red haired as his father before him.
They would spend the evening together, roses seemed to lose their romanticism when the elves made sure the bedroom had a fresh bouquet of the large red ones that Draco had taken to calling Hermione's reds each week despite the season.
They would give her scrolls, copies of ancient writings that left her fighting for the words to express how thankful she was.
She would gift them a healing potion from her virgin's blood, and Hermione and Draco would pretended that they did not see when Severus tucked his head to dry his eyes.
Imbolc when Luna and Lucius returned to them with Brigid's crosses, cakes sweetened with honey, a ritual bath mix scented with hyssop, sage, lemon balm and sandlewood; along with an invitation to a bonfire atop fine blood red robes.
Lucius greeted Hermione with an open smile, and a kiss on her hand.
"I'm told our little witchling has grown claws, and sleeping with snakes has made you quite untrust worthy"
"If I didn't have a wager for hosting tea for the Ladies riding on this I'd let you continue. So when did Albus contact you, to beg you to retake your seat on the board? Augusta says less than 12 hours, I say 1 day atleast ."
He grinned, ignoring her comment to pull Draco into a hug; when she huffed he laughed
"I expect an invitation for Luna when you host tea."
Hermione's eyes widened,
"How little time?"
Luicus gave her a measured look,
"Two hours. You along with Augusta have pushed through changes that Albus has stood against for years, if you weren't my daughter in law I would beg you to marry me, the children would hopefully have my hair, and share our cunning."
He smiled and winked again.
"I have high hopes for my grand children, even those sired off Severus, there's nothing there a few charms and some charm won't fix."
Severus never raised his head from his book as he raised his hand in a two finger salute.
"As I said charms and charm."
"Go fock a jarvey."
They bathed together, the tub enlarged even more than it's normal size, they neither touched nor spoke to each other, using the time in contemplation, standing from the water they each showered off and dressed in the robes pulling the hood that would hide their faces up, before holding the portkey.
The fires were freshly lit as the portkey spit them out in some field, snow crunching under their boots. Severus and Draco offered arms as they began the walk towards a phalanx of robed, some masked, wizards carrying torches.
At first it seemed as if the bond ignited, beating against their ribs searching for the shortest path out, they stumbled struggled to right themselves only to realize it was Severus power, the fount of their own that overwhelmed, twisting hunting the flames.
"we should leave."
They tried to move to the side the press of the crowd still portkeying in kept them in place pushing them forward; and then they were there, feet away from the robed, the flames; the power bayed, this was all? This was the remnants of the Tuatha de' Danann? A pidiling fire and a handful of weakling wizards, this was La Fheile Bride? A shiver ran through them.
If you had asked Severus if the power unleashed in him was capable of darkening the field he would have said no it was merely a parlor trick, slight of hand for small things, until tonight; it engulfed him, and he let it. He gave himself to a power more ancient than he could could perceive.
The bonfire became a firefly, flames a faint glow; his power ate night in a single swallow, he felt it feed and howl, colder! More flames!
Snow started, sheets of fluffy perfectly formed flakes that tickled the nose, the susurrus became loud, people cried out to the goddess.
Hermione clung to his arm, he felt her heat searing his side, Hermione muggleborn ignorant of this part of her history was fighting it and the power was devouring her from inside. He struggled to form the words that her assent was needed, necessary; moving his free hand to her shoulder, she raised her shadowed face to his, and he gave her an imperceptible nod, her shoulder loosened under his fingers and every torch flared. The bonfire blazed twenty feet staying high, bright, even though the fuel was barely enough for a fire Severus' height.
Surging the crowd started to dance around the fire, drums setting the beat, the masked making great leaps around the fire; the power laughed, Draco joined it, then Severus, and finally Hermione allowed the frisson of joy to tear a a slightly shrill laugh pass her lips.
Chapter 25: Darkness
Severus lips were chapped from the cold, his fingers numb having long forgotten warming charms, yet he was more energized than he could remember. He had a name for the power their shared! More than that, he had a history, more in depth than ever told. Tuatha de' Danann, the people of Danu, their stories had never said this was what had been shared, they had hidden it.
Tales of old said the Tuathade' Danann was forced into the little magics, theSidhe, the Fey, and Elves, lost before the days of Merlin.
The wise knew Danu was only one name for the Great Mother, unable to be forced anywhere.
The Old Magic had spoken to them, manifested in the feast, demanding more and they had given more! Hermione was bedraggled, holding back her flame had left her with something akin to magical backlash now the power had returned to its marginally dormant state, lying under skin waiting.
Hermione sat in bed eyes half mast, hands wrapped around a hot toddy the mug slowly slipping. Severus gave a small smile as he pointed his wand banishing the cup to the kitchens.
Draco, if Severus had ever questioned what Draco would look pregnant, filled and brimming with life he knew now. Draco had released himself to the Old Magic, using himself as it demanded. Now he sat sipping mulled wine, lips and cheeks pink, eyes bright, bubbling with a cascade of emotions that Severus wasn't sure he wanted to put names to.
When he sat his cup to the side and walked to him, Severus was almost sure he was going to kiss him good night, almost; Draco held a wicked gleam in his eye. Instead he dropped to his knees rubbing his face along the wool of Severus' trousers. He didn't speak as he sat back on his haunches reaching for Severus' belt.
Severus contemplated denying him. Draco's lips bloomed into a smile at Severus' indecisiveness; his hands worked the buckle and started to edge along the waist of Severus' pants, soft brushes against his skin, firm grip pulling it over the growing tent.
Hermione watched them through sleep laden eyes; Draco was beautiful, it would be an insult to call him less. Severus was striking, that nose or not. There was something about the way he looked at Draco especially, but both of them often enough; predatory, that left her holding her breath ... waiting ... for something she had no name for.
Seeing them together in bed left her on sexual tenterhooks, Severus always dominant, Draco always submissive to him, it sent delicious shivers down her spine. Severus moaned and her flittering mind again focused on the men in the room.
Draco laid a line of kisses to the underside of Severus' cock, the head glistened. Draco had taken him in his mouth at some point.
Her view was blocked when Draco moved, then Severus grabbed his pony tail pulling it taunt, she could hear the suction break as Draco released Severus' cock.
"I am still filled with dark Draco."
Draco hummed. Hermione fought the urge to laugh. Draco, horny Draco, didn't care about warnings.
"I will hurt you! Do you understand me?" demanded Severus.
"I want you to hurt me!" Draco begged, "But you won't."
Hermione fought the sound of shock that tried to force past her lips at Severus', "I can't!"
"No, you won't," challenged Draco.
"I won't argue with you!" snarled Severus.
"Good, fuck me!" demanded Draco.
Severus sneered gripping Draco's queue tighter jerking his head up, "Little kitties can be hurt, or would you rather I hit your nose with the prophet?"
"I'd rather you choke me with your cock," replied Draco.
Severus stilled at the salvo, conjuring a compactly rolled paper and smiled, "You will obey me boy."
Draco's back became rigid. Hermione was sure he'd taken a breath and forgot to release it while Severus spoke. Releasing the ponytail Severus pulled him close, Hermione couldn't hear what was whispered, but she saw the lowering of taunt shoulders, the slow release of held breath, paper falling to floor, soft kisses.
She felt soothing love and something stern, unknown. She closed her eyes this moment she would not intrude on, unlike the passion this tenderness was theirs.
The next few weeks were tense. The word had spread about what had happened at Imbolc, speculation was rife. Even Lucius refrained from his usual information gathering, giving them a considering look. He pulled them in tight hugs a silent admonishment of stay safe. He gifted Hermione yet another seat on a board, this time St Mungos, before following Luna on her hunt for the red hoofed Ashmore unicorn.
There was an excitement in the air tempered with fear. The purebloods and half-bloods were divided. The Muggleborn clueless, confused at what the whispers meant, was it a new dark lord? Surprisingly the press was mute, as was the ministry.
Augusta argued with Blaise and Harry during dinner one night, insulting them on their ignorance of their history with savagery they'd only seen before from her in battle. Wild magic was being talked about. It was more than pretty fires, and the Goddess blessing on a handfasting. It was the wild magic, the magic of honey and wine, of birth and new life, of renewal.
More children were adopted, a slow migration if the ministry had bothered to look, they didn't. Hermione was forced to admit that Slytherin, house of self-serving bastards their reputation may have been, took care of their own.
In this new world these children unwanted by the victors were taken into loving homes. Millicent was one of dozens. No one encapsulated it more than Xylia Blauman nee Trelawney, yes cousin to that Trelawney. A year mate of Lucius, Xylia, had raised 2 sons to adulthood in her adopted home of Germany with her husband. Her youngest off to muggle University, she had appeared at the orphanage; auburn curls pulled into a chignon, boxes of colourfully wrapped muggle chocolate in shrunk in her handbag, and demanded "the most difficult of your bunch!"
Months later the Selwyn siblings were the Blaumans. The eldest, Corvus would be over heard whispering to Nathan Rosier, grandson of Evan; "I know she's me new mum, and I can tell she cares, but she's scarier than me dad, the dead one and he was, you know, DeathEater!"
Hermione went to her first St Mungo's board meeting, a stirring debate formed on if to fund a new line of research on spell damage, Nundu blood apparently was found to aid in regenerating neural pathways, if it didn't kill the test subjects.
The astronomical cost of the blood, galleons for piddling drops, had the board members strongly bordering on no votes. The death of the testers made a no near certain, "How much blood do you need."
Heads swivelled to look at Hermione, "Pardon me?" St Claire head of the board he seemed to take it as a personal insult that she was there, Hermione pursed her lips.
"I asked how much blood, do you need?" asked Hermione.
"Are you offering to collect this blood, child? I'm sure your aid," St Claire's lip curled as if he was walking thru thestral stables, "in vanquishing He-Who-Must not be named was sufficient, that does not mean that you are powerful enough to obtain Nundu blood."
Hermione looked around the room. Most seemed content to allow St Claire his verbal evisceration of her; lest speaking out place them in his cross hairs. Hufflepuffs all of them, tender hearts, flobberworm for backbones! Severus seemed to have taken up even more space in her head.
Hermione smiled, "My name is Lady Hermione Prince, I'm told I am both a duchess and countess, and you, Mr St Claire, should note that I do not take kindly to the insult of girl. Nor was I a child when doing a man's job of helping my best friend to rid the world of evil."
Hermione cast her eyes over the room again. Interest in wary eyes, several lips crushed into thin lines to prevent smiles, she could work with this.
St Claire opened his mouth to speak, she spoke first. "My husband is the pre-eminent Potions Master in Britain, he has spent a lifetime amassing rare ingredients, and access to such. While you may not be able to pay for Nundu blood or this research, Lord Prince has not reached his dotage, and could be induced to provide his aid of access and knowledge as he'd done before, he did save Arthur Weasley when no one on your staff thought it could be done."
A murmur started, St Claire looked at her with hateful eyes, "Send Snape, we will talk."
Hermione thought back to the advice she had been given, Augusta's "Do not allow them to browbeat you." Lucius' advice of, "They are marginally powerful, bitter men, who will try their best to bring you to heel while insulting you, crush them before they crush you."
"You must think highly of my charms Mr St Claire, but I am not the one who must persuade him, that is your job. I am the representative of Lord Malfoy. I believe you said I was a mere mouth piece for my father-in-law. If you fail Sir, in getting Potion Master Severus Snape's aid, it is your failing, not mine."
St Claire met her eyes, glaring at Hermione; his nose flared, "There are rules gi..., Lady Prince!"
Hermione nodded, "Yes I know, rules demand obedience yet there are exceptions, however..." she thought of Lucius who had set her on these paths of intrigue, "my father in law is another matter. I am as I said merely a representative of the House of Malfoy, do as you will."
She would let them think what they liked, it mattered little, she had offered, if they failed Severus would still press along with the research, after all he had a small fortune of the blood in stasis.
When she trudged through the floo hours later, Draco met her mischief in his eyes, offering an aperitif as he slipped an arm around her waist.
"You wouldn't happen to know why St Mungos sent several owls requesting Severus' aid would you?"
Hermione coloured, "That was fast!" She turned to look at Draco, "Is he upset?"
Draco laughed, "Not very; they requested he come, he refused and told them to shove off. So they sent all the research they had instead. He cursed, shot a hex at the last owl, and locked himself in the lab. He's having the time of his life."
Hermione smiled "Good."
Days later sitting on the final day of Ron's third chess tournament surrounded by muggles, bored beyond belief, Hermione allowed her mind to wander.
Lucius in his munificence, she sniggered, by placing her on these boards had given her what she would have been locked out of as a muggleborn, a position of power.
Hermione was not blind to the fact that the higher one got in the wizarding world the fewer muggleborns there were, she had believed just like she had with the Elves that she would have been strong enough to force change, now she knew better.
The muggleborns were disadvantaged by the Headmaster's insistence on treating pureblood therefore wizarding culture as hackneyed ideas no longer talked about or used. Even though it was impossible to reach the pinnacle of their society ignorant of wizarding traditions, Hogwarts' continued to handicap the muggleborns.
This habit of spurning culture meant that she was only one in a long line of muggleborns condemned to this crippled place in society. As a minority, it was only a matter of time before some new dark lord rose spewing hate, ready to purge those ignorant of wizarding history, and wizarding customs.
Dark lords attracted the traditionalists and had proved time and time again that they were capable of bringing the wizarding world to a crushing halt, while the rest of them bit their nails and waited for an Albus or a Harry.
Bonded, married to a pureblood, and a half-blood both heavily invested in the history and culture of this world, she would ensure the history of their families were passed on. One day she would have children with these men, and they would have histories as deep and varied as the wizarding world, and she wouldn't want them to feel ashamed. One could only admire Lucius ingenuity.
Polite clapping and sharp jab of Draco's elbow pulled her out of her musings. Ron was shaking hands, a small smile on his face.
"He won?" asked Hermione.
Draco laughed "of course!"
"What now?" asked Hermione?
"I hate to say it, but dinner, Molly cooked," replied Draco.
Hermione shot him a narrow eyed look, "Is this a friend thing or a benefactor thing?
"Friend, he invited you I accepted, as his benefactor father only has to attend magical tournaments."
Hermione smiled at Harry, and waved at Ron when he smiled towards the small knot of friends and family, grimacing as she stood, "You are lucky I love my friends, or I'd hex you."
Hermione girded herself for the chat Molly would pull her into, asking her if she was expecting yet. Then Molly would ask if she'd talked to a healer, or had the Professor made her something. Molly would tell her she was a married woman and with two husbands she had double opportunity to get pregnant. Hermione would smile and say they were waiting, and Molly would natter on until Draco, or Severus, once Harry saved her. She'd been ambushed at the Burrow, while walking in Diagon Alley, and once in the ladies of the Three Broomsticks!
Hours later, Hermione needed this day to end; it had been at least three hours too long already! Draco was discussing charms with Arthur who was ecstatic at the idea of TV, computers and other Muggle electronics working alongside magic. Leaving Hermione to coo at the baby, ignore Molly politely, and try her best not to hex Lavender with her snide remarks.
Draco had shot her yet another apologetic glance, when the floo lit up; Severus face floating in the green flames, Hermione considered squealing and jumping up and down as his voice floated out. She stooped at the floo with her purse before Arthur could finish inviting Severus to come through; Draco lowered himself next to her.
"Are you ok? Is the research coming along? Do you need help?" Hermione's and Draco's questions came swiftly.
Severus eyes gave a long look to their left, Hermione didn't need to look the entire Burrow was probably looking at them have this conversation.
Severus cleared his throat; a tinge of pink could be shown even through the green of the floo traveling across his cheeks, "Would it be impolite to ask my family to come home?"
Draco laughed, standing to reach for the floo pot, while tossing a "Sorry, got to go, lonely husband to see to," over his shoulder
Hermione took longer, giving hugs, and kisses before tossing in a handful of floo powder to spiral home.
Ēostre, the Spring Equinox celebrating rebirth, arrived. The Triad went to the cottage; if the Old Magic rose, they wanted to be far from others. It was not worth the risk. The Old Magic did poke at their awareness seemingly happy to work its way thru the bond inflaming their senses. To Severus it told its first tale as it remembered Gaia, a tale of loneliness, of want and need.
The next morning they awoke to the meadow awash in flowers, all types and colours. Plum as she served breakfast smiled, "one day that will be your children, and children's children, plentiful as the flowers in the meadows."
Severus lip curled derisively "You dream of us breeding like Weasleys? Pray tell when have I ever appeared minutely paternal?"
Plum's cackling laugh was the only answer.
It was some weeks after this Hermione realizes that Severus has become rougher with Draco. It was clear watching Severus take Draco. Draco's legs throw over Severus' shoulders, as Draco reclined back on her; she touching Draco's smooth chest, murmuring words of encouragement as he races towards completion.
Severus barked "Don't you dare boy!" Draco begging her to, "Stop please Merlin stop," gasping her hands to his lips, his eyes glazed as Severus takes him. Finally Draco's spurting release as Severus tells him, "Now boy."
Draco's howling cries and tears Hermione dries with her peignoir, unable to not give Severus dirty looks.
Later Draco explained to Hermione just how welcomed Severus roughness was. Draco looked at Hermione with tearful eyes and told her, "Severus once told me, you may have me with all the love in my heart and none of the darkness of my soul." The tears start their journey down, "Hermione, I want his darkness." She pulls him close, promising to help him convince Severus.
Chapter 26: Fates and Rites
At Beltane, they returned to the cottage, this time refusing social obligations. They lit two small fires in the garden. The power, Danu they had begun to call her wailed, singeing nerve endings as sure as any curse, pulsing through them until the cottage shook with power, and they had only the ability to hold on to each other in grasps that left bruises. Nevertheless they felt empowered after.
Hermione especially seemed touched. She made love with Draco and Severus, and they worshipped her, words inadequate, they spoke with bodies. Each place they touched sang with emotion, each kiss affirmed love that they still tip toed around naming, every orgasm a tidal wave that wrapped magic, and souls around each other.
For weeks after Hermione would catch people looking at her, she lost count of the amount of witches who had asked her if she had changed her hair or makeup, if Severus had given her a potion. Molly summed it up with a quick, "I expect good news soon. You look in estrus" Hermione fought not to find the insult in being compared to an animal in heat.
Later sitting with the Board of Hogwarts, readying for yet another of the incompetents Dumbledore had chosen for the professorship. Augusta would succinctly put into words all the others had not, "Hermione my dear, you have come into your own. You carry yourself as a woman not a girl."
Hermione had argued she remained the same, the older woman laughed good-naturedly, refusing to hear Hermione's arguments, patting Hermione's hand like a grandmother with her favorite grandchild, "You'll see my dear, you'll see."
When Alexa Britteridge waltzed into the room, Augusta whispered to Hermione that Sybil would sit her throat for her bangles alone.
"Please call me Alexa" she wore turquoise and tiger's eye stones in almost every piece of her large silver jewelry, and despite her flowing bohemian dress instead of robes, it was clear from her answers she had a deep knowledge of traditional wizardry customs.
"My father's family, were wizards from England, who came over on the Mayflower and started the first Wizarding settlement in America their first winter." She smiled, "I guess we are American purebloods of a sort. My mom's from France, a Beaubatons girl, came to America on a vacation met my dad and never left. Her dad was English, as wishy washy pureblood as you get. I grew up with the traditions from both of them. I may not follow those paths but I know them intimately."
Hermione looked around the room after hours of questions; Dumbledore nodded, Augusta was looking at the young woman eyes narrowed. Augusta seemed to have found what she was looking for because her face relaxed as she sipped her water.
Hermione looked at the hippy woman and the power inside of her said "sister." Hermione smiled at Augusta, the students of Hogwarts were saved the desperate nuclear option; Neville's grandmother as a professor.
Alexa shook Hermione's hand, her hands unlike most women's were rough, her hand shake just a tad too strong, she looked Hermione in the eyes directly, but spoke low.
"You've been touched by the Great Mother." Not a question, a statement, Hermione smiled and said nothing.
Alexa returned her smile, "We'll talk later."
Later was a matter of days. Harry was over pottering about the library, his Auror trainee robes thrown over a chair, while he discussed the impotence of the Ministry with Blaise and Draco. Hermione gave him a long look, they needed to talk; something was going on.
Then Augusta was in her fire place, apologizing sweetly and asking if she would mind having Miss Britteridge to dinner. Neville had been bitten by a Lamppost vampire orchid and while it wasn't poisonous she wouldn't be settled until she saw him with her own eyes, she waved a tattered slipper, her portkey.
Dinner was pleasant Alexa asked and answered questions about America. Was it true that American elves had unions? Yes, and they were paid too. Plum floating in dishes of coq au vin, rice with herbs, roasted vegetables, and thick yeasty country bread, gave an impetuous toss of her head which spoke volumes of how she felt about that matter.
Alexa understood without cautious looks that there was to be no conversations about the Great Mother in front of guest, she joined them in the library for port, discussing the move to Scotland and the need for robes, "No one in the US wears them unless it's for something stodgy!" and the best ways to stay warm in Scotland in the winter, judicious use of warming charms, Muggle wool long johns, and charmed clothing.
Hermione accompanied Alexa to the floo saying they would do lunch and talk. When Hermione returned Harry and Severus were gone.
Dinner had been pleasant, the American was well read, and a welcomed addition to the table. What was surprising was as Hermione escorted their guest out; Potter had caught his eye, and asked to speak with him. Severus wasn't used to this yet, Potter had become a somewhat frequent guest to their home, Harry, as he was reminded every time he called him Potter, was in fact family now. Hermione's brother not by blood but choice.
Severus closed the office door and sat at one of the chairs that faced his desk, whatever this conversation was sitting behind the large imposing desk would not help.
Potter...Harry eyes fixated on the floor, played with his glass, opened his mouth to speak multiple times closing it swiftly each time. Severus tried to be understanding but found himself hard pressed after the fifth "hmmm"
"Potter!" snapped Snape.
Harry's eyes ripped from the floor to Severus' face, "Maybe you should speak with Hermione?"
Harry shook his head.
"Well then assuage my curiosity?"
"What do you want?"
The young man opened and closed his mouth again, colour starting to stain his cheeks. "How did you do it?"
Harry looked at Snape, he may have looked better since the elves had done their work but this was still, Snape.
"Be a good husband. Overcome your past, your childhood"
Severus gave him a long look; the question was startling. He had not overcome anything. Each day he fought not to snarl, not to hurt, not to break, not to be his father, not to make Hermione and Draco into shadows of themselves – his mother.
Harry's eyes dropped again, his words were mumbled, "Ginny, everyone says we belong together, it's fate. But she says I'm not demonstrative enough ...I don't initiate…," Harry trailed off "I'm not a good boyfriend."
Severus would have laughed had the boy not looked so despondent.
"I'm hardly effusive! Harry for some of us it is hard to be expressive in the ways our partners would like; although I am loath to say it, we have similar childhoods. Childhoods that did not teach us the give and take of romantic attachments... any attachment. Even if you change you may not be that partner that she has dreamt of, fated or not."
Severus pulled his robe closed, "I am unable to initiate certain physical activities, I fight each day not to shut them out, to be better. It is difficult...I would not wish you to emulate me, but find your own path"
Harry sipped his port, "It was easier when I was at school."
Severus made a sound of contempt, "Everything is easier at school Potter."
Harry gave a near pout, "You called me Harry before!"
Severus' lips quirked into a small, tight smile, "Momentary slip," Harry laughed.
Severus paused "You won't change overnight, you may not be able to change, you need to know if that will raise issues ultimately. You are young, unlike Hermione and Ronald you have no pressing need to marry, take your time. Find out if she can accept you as you are, if you never become everything she wants."
Harry nodded, taking another sip.
Severus breathed deeply understanding this was a declaration of sorts. The Weasleys were Ginny's, and this family that had been created with Hermione, Draco, and Severus was Harry's with all the rites allocated. Severus exhaled raising his glass to Harry, family.
Draco played with his wedding band under the table. He believed he had figured out how Severus' aunt had gotten the computer to work at the Hall. Since the old woman was just as secretive as his father he'd given up asking her, and found himself an electrician, a squib electrician.
Cuthbert Moreau was the first son of a pureblood family that refused to murder him when it became blatantly obvious he had no more magic than a common fly. Instead they had sent him off to live with another squib, and learn how to live as a Muggle, today that education Draco hoped would push wizards into a new age.
Cuthbert was exceptionally gifted according to his mother, (the only person in said family he currently spoke to) with allowing magic to work alongside of electronics, not that she would exactly know since her husband banished every item Cuthbert made for them.
Cuthbert was also painfully blunt; he sat across from Draco sipping his bitters, cigarette dangling from fingers, "So one of you fairy types finally figured it out?"
Draco wondered if it was too late to leave, "Mr Moreau."
The man pointed his cigarette in Draco's face, "Call my Cuffy. Mr Moreau is my da."
Draco sighed; he'd do unthinkable, unspeakable things for a shot...bottle of fire whiskey right now; its wet flame soothing his jangled nerves.
Amps, volts, electrostatic discharge, shields, wattage, grounding, Draco's head swam with new words. All those words made several things clear, it wasn't charms alone that allowed the computer to work; it was Muggle ingenuity combined with Wizarding skill. Cuffy was about to become the richest squib in history. A Malfoy was going to bring electricity to wizards, and a large portion of the Wizarding world was going to absolutely hate him for it. Maybe he should look into brewing instead there still wasn't a good potion for halitosis.
Chapter 27: Of purebloods and halfwits
Thank yous go to
Seren for corralling my massive comma usage, and butchery of my native tongue
And ChaosLady, dlsr94, BeccaLister
Draco was contemplating snarling, to be as surly as he'd been just a scant year ago. Hermione was giving him a patronizing lecture on the dangers of introducing Muggle technology to Wizards too quickly; "the societal implications of overwhelming pureblood culture."
Scant years into marriage she'd turned into a shrew. Severus gave a long look over his glass, and coughed indelicately.
Hermione caught herself and had the grace to blush while mumbling apologies. These men were not Harry and Ron, at moments she forgot that they did think of the long term implications of their actions, life had taught them to do less was unacceptable.
Severus raised his eyebrow. Draco responded in kind, they stayed at the impasse each stubbornly refusing to back down. Draco groaned, "I'm not doing to do anything stupid!" the eye brow raised sharply intended insult achieved.
Draco flounced back in his seat, "We, Cuffy and I, need to replicate the cage and the charms. I can't release anything until then, and even so we are dependent on the Office of Muggle Affairs for permission to allow electronics to be sold least they think it's an evil plan to bring Muggle pornography to Wizards, so they can wank their lives away."
Severus nodded, "In caecus terrae, luscus rex est"
Draco wondered if despair could kill. "In the land of the blind the one-eye-man is king", it had absolutely nothing to do with the topic of their conversation!
Severus gave his patented tortured sigh, "Get a contract done with Mr Moreau his father a right bastard and magically impotent or not Cuffy will be the same. File a patent with as much Muggle terminology as possible and general terms for the charms. Muggle Affairs need only be involved if you plan to sell electronics. You are selling a service, Mr. Moreau builds, you charm; resulting in the ability to use electronics, you will not sell electronics! Let them figure out their computers and television sets, Merlin knows I'd pay dearly to see Arthur in Conrad's."
"Uncle Severus! I'm home!"
Draco started and looked to Severus, "He's not moving in is he?"
Severus shook his head, "Don't be ridiculous, Potter has a perfectly functional home!"
"Yes but he eats here three nights a week, sometimes more."
Severus spoke through clenched teeth
"If you and Cuffy would cease your interminable discussions on materials, he could join the millions of Muggles wanking themselves to sleep each night!"
"I'll have you both know I don't need any help with wank material thank you!" Harry smiled, handing Draco a bundle of scrolls. "Your patents are filed. Nobody understood what you were trying to do so they called Arthur and me in for our Muggle expertise. Turns out we were just as mystified."
Draco's sly grin said it all, "You could have just sent them by owl."
Harry shrugged "Could, but I'm going to the club with a bloke from work, as you are the best dresser I know..." Harry turned, navy blue robes twirling, "This work for the fancy club?"
There is a stillness before violence be it a raised fist, or a drawn wand, Harry knew this stillness it was unexpected here. Severus lowered his book turning to Harry.
"You know The Club, no name, no address, you have to know someone, wink, wink. One of the guys at work invited me tonight."
"Really Potter ...tell me about this … bloke?"
Harry thought for a moment, "He's sort a poncy like Draco, sorry Draco. Parents sent him to America for school, good with defense."
Severus pressed, "Is this bloke heterosexual, bi sexual or homosexual?"
Harry frowned, "Never thought to ask, probably gay he was living with Stuyvant Bowersmoth and he flares around the Ministry looking like Albus' protégée when he's out of uniform."
Severus frowned, the almost smooth line between his brows slowly deepening,
"Potter...do you have some latent homosexual desires you've discussed at work?"
Harry rolled his eyes, "No Severus, I'm sure which team I bat for, I just don't talk to the blokes at work about my private life" he met Severus' eye, "never know when someone will sell a story to the Prophet."
Severus gave one of his small shrugs, "Perhaps you should share that information with your workmate? If you enter the club with another man, on this break," The word was spoken disparagingly, spat across the older man's tongue as fingers made quotation marks in the air, "from Ginerva. Tomorrow it will be thought you no longer have a preference for the fairer sex."
Draco smirked, "Potter consider it just one of those pureblood things we do." He pointed to a chair,
Harry nodded as Draco continued, "When two wizards love each other very much."
Severus lip curled, he fought the laugh that threatened, "Don't be a halfwit Draco, just tell him."
The answering pout could be considered cute, "Fine. It's not done maliciously but the club is where more open minded wizards and witches meet; it would be noted if a man previously believed to be straight accompanied another man. It would never be printed in the Prophet but people would talk, think of it as letting the dating pool know you were swimming."
"So it's a gay club?"
"Wizards are not fond of that term, but no! If you went with Weasley or Severus no one would question your sexuality, they are married and safe, at worse you may be thought bisexual, at best they are introducing you to the depth of sensual wealth the Wizarding world holds. Witches would continue to prostrate themselves at your feet."
Harry nodded, "But if he's gay it's a declaration?"
Severus rolled his eyes, "It is by invitation only you have numerous friends who are members. To spurn a friend and visit with a man of certain inclinations ..." the unsaid hung in the air between them, you open yourself to questions.
Harry stumbled over a reply, finally he just sat heavily, "Sod it all! I was looking forward to a night out."
Severus sighed "Quite, although one would think you'd be more concerned that it was about to become public knowledge that you've gained a taste for ..." Severus left eyebrow twitched up and a smirk crested his lips, "sodomy."
Harry glared, "One can survive everything nowadays, except death, and live down anything, except a good reputation."** And I already beat death." he added with a rueful smile.
Severus gave him a long look, "We may not yet have to compose threnodies in your honor Potter."
Hermione returned from another meeting to the three of them sitting in the library having liberated Lucius finest brandy.
Sybil Trelawney had some idea of what people thought of her, fake. Sitting in the staff room as Albus introduced the new teacher, such lovely bangles. She wondered what it would be like to leave Hogwarts.
It was unthinkable yet she felt such longing, a hand waved in front of her face, "Professor Trelawney? Hello, Alexa Britteridge nice to meet you."
Sybil took the hand, rough palms for a woman, and looking into the prettiest pair of violet eyes the world fell away.
Sybil's voice became deep, near sensuous. She sounded like a woman who'd lived aiming to be a pretty corpse. Drank too much moonshine, smoked too much everything; it was a voice that belonged to a voodoo priestess in the Bayou Alexa thought, incongruous to the body that held it and the place they stood
"My ways have fallen
My children suffer, my land cries.
My daughters come, and they shall set loose upon my people great blessing.
My daughters come, maiden, mother, crone, martyr.
She who feels, she who would birth my nation, she who knows, she who has walked in dark and breathed in light
My ways will light the old forest and new towns.
Upon the people will rain new blessings of old gods."
Alexa with Sybil hanging in her arms looked around the room at shocked faces, "Does she do this often?
The first owl to leave Hogwarts was large, strong, built for long flight. The second was small, sleek, and fast. More owls were sent from the school over the next few days. Sybil's rare true prophecies were not to be ignored. More interestingly the call of old gods and old ways left an uncomfortable pall over those who had heard it, except for the new teacher who smiled in a beguiling fashion and said she'd known a few seers and seen a few things, and she didn't think it was all that bad to have blessings.
Alone she questioned the inclusion of a Persephone daughter who had touched death, but she kept counsel with herself.
The Order had been called together to 12 Grimmauld Place copies of Sybil's prophecy were handed out. A pensive stood in the corner for those who wanted to see it as it happened.
Harry smiled and nodded, playing host happily secure in the knowledge that this time it had absolutely nothing to do with him, he wasn't a girl.
** One can survive everything nowadays, except death, and live down anything, except a good reputation.- Oscar Wilde
Chapter 28: Meet Martyr
The woman turned looking behind her, she hated this forest. Even with the sun beating down the trees formed a near impenetrable canopy in some areas, leaving the path chilly, dark and foreboding.
Granny would have laughed at her, she had walked this path each day to school and back as a child. With her babies tied to her as a woman, and swore that the trees revitalized her.
Even in death she had believed in the forest, Granny's ashes lay under her favorite gnarled root pine not one hundred and fifty yards away from the path the woman walked.
But for her granddaughter this strange cool place left her uncomfortable, she shivered something felt wrong, and started to run.
She was dying! Her breath caught in her lungs, boiling hot and with no where to go, her hands fought against nothing searching for anchorage, finding an abyss. Lips opened wide in silent scream she never knew when the magic took her body.
At Hogwarts Sybil sipped her overly sweet tea and smiled at Minerva, Sybil considered saying something but Minerva considered anything that wasn't backed by atleast three peer reviewed articles trite. They sat in companionable silence, each woman wrapped in her own thoughts.
The cup slipped from Sybil's hands to the floor, a smokey voice from her lips. Minerva startled and stared, there was no time to call Albus; Minerva flicked her wand at her quill to write and wondered when this would end.
"Reborn! Darkness and pain no longer yours daughter.
Hedgewitch thy name is power, new birth, new life.
In you the past, and the future.
Death and life."
"Is she or isn't she!"
The Unspeakable pursed thinned lips, nose flaring at the tone he was being spoken to in, "You must understand Professor Snape that we have never seen anything like this before, and until she is conscious it is impossible to give a definitive answer."
"Don't insult my intelligence! She clearly looks like her! Her magic is as wild as a child's I can feel it from here, I have bonded with that magic in oath I know it! I also know she took no steps to return should she die, and neither her son nor husband sought to return her to this life."
The man gave a chirp, "You see Professor Snape that is exactly the problem, her magic is at this point pubescent, and growing. She had muggle identification, she is a muggle, our investigation has left no question of that, born and raised in Cowal."
The slight man gave a long look at the woman in the bed.
"The fact is that she has always borne a striking resemblance to Mrs Malfoy." The Unspeakable sighed, "There is a chance... there is a familial bond, there is some talk in the village..."
The unsaid hung heavy in the air, Cygnus Black had taken muggle sporting to new levels, it was entirely too possible that there were children borne to him and muggle mothers, and that some of their mothers, oh who were they fooling, all of the mothers probably held no memory of their child's conception.
The Unspeakable cleared this throat, "At this point there is no question, Mrs Malfoy's magic has been implanted into her. It maybe that her awareness has also been part and parcel of the transference. We have no idea how this was accomplished however, and no way to tell until she awakes."
Severus gave a small grunt, "How did she come to be found?"
"There are some questions, she was supposed to be in the forest close to her home, she had left only an hour before yet she was found just outside of Hogsmeade, an impossible trip without magic."
"Tell me, what do you know?"
The Unspeakable pursed his lips.
Severus glared, "Any ideas on permaculture homesteading?"
The man stared at Severus in total confusion.
Severus sighed and walked to the bed to look at the woman, Narcissa at twenty five; life had just become even more complicated.
"We have to tell him!"
"No buts Hermione! The first time he lays his eyes on her he will wish to possess her."
Hermione gave an angry huffed, "Severus!"
Severus gave her a long look, "She is the living embodiment of a woman he thought was dead! He cares for Miss Lovegood, but if that body holds Narcissa's soul he will tear down St Mungo's brick by brick to reach her. If she isn't he will still tear it down, and rebuild love in a new image."
Severus reached for Hermione's hand, " Lucius carries much guilt, and he will not be denied a chance to correct his mistakes. "
Hermione's heart broke for her friend, "You write to him, I'll write to Luna."
Severus held a battered blue lotion tin up, "We leave in an hour."'
Hermione thought this conversation would have been harder, Luna's smile at hearing there was a chance that Narcissa was alive in some strange way, was bright, and happy.
She held Lucius in a hug, "Imagine you can have your second chance."
Lucius on the other hand paled, pinked, stuttered, then sat heavily. Severus pressed a glass of whiskey into Lucius' shaking hand, as Lucius lowered his head between his knees.
She opened her mouth and screamed, a banshee wail that would have echoed except the hospital had charms to keep sounds within the rooms. The four men standing at the end of her bed turned as one to her, the first one in green poked a stick in her face, and started asking questions.
"Do you know where you are? What's your name? How old are you?"
She would have answered, she opened her mouth to answer, but found that she didn't have any answers. She raised her hand, silk sleeves slipping on her skin felt familiar yet strange.
"I.. I don't know!"
One of the men, dark haired and eyed cursed. The blondes stared at her, she didn't know them, yet there was a memory of the younger one smiling, and the older holding her almost intimately with soft haunted eyes, there was wildness, love, and pain.
She closed her eyes, heart ache as deep as the lochs she had no memory of clawed it's way up. She wept as she slipped away from consciousness.
"Luna how can you be so calm!" Hermione folded her arms and stared at the witch sitting across from her.
Luna gave a sad smile,
"Because I held him when he woke crying for her? He loves me, but if there is such a thing as soulmates and how could I not believe they are? She is his."
Luna's eyes glittered with unshed tears, her voice ethereal yet roughed clearly she had cried at some point.
"He was never mine Hermione! And I was never his, our time was never meant to be forever no matter what we thought. I was a pale excuse for her. He would have gotten bored traveling the world looking for beast he does not believe in, and I don't like wine."
They shared brittle laughter. Luna spoke again, "How is Draco?"
"Ecstatic, scared." Hermione said no more Luna understood her perfectly; loving a Malfoy man was perilous, they were delicate in their own way.
She awoke and yawned, how strange this bed felt, pillows flat, the sheets coarse. She took a deep breath, scents medicinal and caustic ripped her eyes open, reaching for a wand on a bedside table that wasn't there.
A healer hustled into the room "Hullo dearie, you're up are you?" The woman continued on not waiting for her to answer.
"Mighty long sleep you've had, two whole weeks!"
The healer's wand came up lit, "Look to the left..right..up..down. Lovely! Now do you remember who you are?"
The healer smiled, "And the year?"
"Nineteen hundred and ninety eight."
The healer, smiled again.
"Where are my husband and son?"
"Your husband will be in around in an hour, or we can owl him if you need his sooner. Your son, such a delightful young man he is, comes in with Professor Snape later in the afternoon, the wife usually joins them later. But I'm sure we'll be seeing them earlier today."
Narcissa opened her mouth to ask wife of whom, Severus with a wife was a pleasant idea but scarcely likely to happen in a few weeks, and Draco well he and Pansy had seemed to drift apart.
And mother's intuition, she thought he was more likely to settle with a wizard than a witch.
She closed her lips as a spell rippled over her body, bringing her back from mental wanderings; ablutions done by spell..the mark of the very ill, and infirmed; the mediwitch chattered on, Narcissa went back to thinking.
Lucius stood outside the doors of Narcissa's room, next to him an Unspeakable. He caressed her wand in his pocket, the pale wood warm in his hand.
He worried about the woman in the room, her too young face, and bright blue eyes that the last time he saw them had none of the wariness that Narcissa's had held for the last near two decades.
They said she was awake and aware of whom she was, that she'd answered questions, and left so many more unanswered. Where had this spirit been near two years, what had she seen?
Lucius took a deep breath, Draco, and Severus were on their way, Hermione would come later, after the long difficult talks. He breathed out, the Unspeakable looked at him and nodded, as he pushed open the door.
It had been a long morning, Narcissa had taken the news better than expected. Of course she had needed to see the papers and have a mirror provided to believe them; standing infront of it touching herself, noting the differences, fingers running across places that once were scared, and scars she had no memory of getting. Running her fingers through waist length hair tisking in annoyance at the ends. Her dismay at finding her once pale skin tanned, and her scream when she opened her top to see nipples pierced, muggles did the strangest things.
She took the news of Draco, Severus and Hermione well enough, "Harry Potter's little friend with the wild hair? I do so hope you've taught her the requisite charms?"
Glossing over the fact that her son was involved in a relationship unseen in the wizarding world in several decades. It was only important that Draco was safe and happy.
It was Hermione's entrance that marked the true difference of Narcissa returned; her magic had always been cold, somewhat like it's owner.
When the door swung closed behind Hermione there was an earthy reaction, the air in the room warmed; each breath tilled soil, peat, and freshly mowed grass on a hot summer's day, rich feminine magic.
Warm brown met cool blue, surging magic making the men swallow uncomfortably, broken by Severus releasing a stream of profanity.
"Maiden? Meet... Martyr "
Hermione's gasp of surprise and denial carried thru the bond, and the room.
"Virgin hidden, daughter of my son.
Lost soul, searching.
You are mine, marked, loved, wanted.
You have entered my lands and I shall keep you.
Blood wite to cleanse."
Sybil collapsed alone in her tower.
Chapter 29: Pax tecum
Looking back it was obvious, the staff that had entered Narcissa's room carried themselves with an air of secrecy, they barely spoke with the exception of the happy Healer who waltzed in every morning, and the Medi-wizard.
Lucius thought back to the dreaded words, "Ministry determination...". Oh if he could have hexed the bastard he would have, he was sure Draco's wand hand trembled at one point.
Augury had decided they said, castings, arithmancy, numerology, and sortilege, as if that mattered when they were ripping the last semblance of self from a woman had lost herself, who was questioning everything!
But she had allowed it, she had no choice, they had no choice! Narcissa his personal Persephone renamed common Elspeth; Scottish brogue spilling from her lips as the Unbreakable was sworn, ministry charms laid thick.
He would not forget her reaction, for the first time since he had set eyes on the golden haired girl that was to be his wife Lucius had feared her. The room had warmed, sticky moisture filled heat, choking humidity that he thought in the moment would drown their lungs if left standing in it too long.
The Unspeakable had given her a calculated look, and shrugged. It mattered none to him, she was a thing they were unable to study, this ability only made her slightly more interesting.
And so they carried on, she bore the distrust of people who once respected or atleast feared her, with grace and a smile. Ignoring the snide comments of her being cast as a replacement; the snider ones on her age, and what such a lovely young woman was doing with a man old enough to be her father.
He'd also caught her laughing with Hermione, whatever it was that they shared, the power that recognized itself in each was a laconic method of forging friendship.
She had managed a long conversation with Luna; he had not asked what they had spoken about.
Lucius lifted his face to the sun, and smiling at the memory of the pairs of pale eyes that had rested on him when the door had opened, they had flicked looks towards each other sharing a knowledgeable look.
Luna was gone now, she didn't say to where, Nar...Elspeth and Hermione would know. He no longer had the right, friendship he understood would take years before he could share it with Luna again. Maybe when dreams that had been whispered at midnight had found new ears to be whispered against, they could once again look at each other without twinges of pain.
It was enough that Luna and Nar.. Elspeth respected each other today.
Beltane was days away, Hermione was unsettled. The Headmaster and Kingsley had come only a few days before sequestering themselves with Severus. The topic of conversation, prophecies, Narcissa and the unknown women it spoke of; the danger it carried.
It left Hermione deeply uneasy, them behind closed doors discussing her unknown future based on a nunce's prophecy; she was cognizant of how her life had come to parallel Harry's, even if Severus discussed with her every word spoken.
The energy in her bubbled on still, it was something she found shared with Elspeth, she found it much easier to think of returned Narcissa as such; a subtle feminine awareness growing each day.
Danu cackled long before daybreak, washing scorching energy over them setting the tone for a difficult early morning, pricks of power making simple spells spiral out of control.
Draco watching from over a cup of tea wondered if Severus and Hermione realized what was happening. As interconnected as they were, sometimes he couldn't help but note that they both looked to books for knowledge, even Severus who was as intuitive a spell and potions creator as any of the greats.
Draco smiled as power trailed along his arms, taking a deep breath of tea, bergamot, vanilla, fainter orange that until that moment he'd believed Severus had told tales of, today was going to be interesting.
Long before they would have eaten breakfast had they been allowed a full night's rest the first explosion rocked the house. Severus temper bubbled through the bond hot and bitter, Draco sent along the same pathways assurances and love, and hoped Severus would call it a morning before he destroyed the cellars.
When he sent the elves to prepare the cottage, there was relief in the young elf's large eyes who took the message to Plum and Ais. If the elves were fearful it was time to leave.
Draco bundled Hermione out first, her purse filled with books, too worried about learning some arcane bit of knowledge to acknowledge the power creeping over her body, or rather using books to ignore what was going on; she had been doing that frequently.
Severus was harder to get out of his labs, persuasion useless, Draco threatened him with Potter, Severus walked out the lab lips pressed into a thin snarl. He twisted into nothingness rubbing the spot on his arm of the now gone dark mark, the look in his face uneasy. Draco frowned they needed to get this out of the way.
"Breathe in through your nose and out your mouth"
"Hermione must you curate every step?"
Draco bit his lip to keep his laughter contained at Severus' snarls, and Hermione huffed "Fine!"; before they lapsed into silence.
Breathe in seeking the magical core, breathe out casting out fears; breathe in, follow intuition, repeated until done without thought. Following a magical trail he had learnt at his Father's knee and could repeat before he was old enough understand.
Draco startled as pale blue eyes stared back at him, his tiger.
It looked at him judging his worth, huffing as it walked towards him scenting the air, then it jumped mouth opened wide! Draco flailed, back pedaling as he opened his mouth to scream, instead what came out his lips was a roar.
This body felt ever so strange, scents and noises assailed him from all sides, he sniffed...mates. Hermione gasps of amazement, Severus a harsh bark of a laugh.
"Can you understand me?"
Draco shook his head at the voice.
Hermione smiled, "You can? You can understand us! I was worried that you would be limited to animal intuition, oh this is wonderful. You are beautiful! You are a Maltese, do you know how rare they are? My goodne..."
Draco roared, a small one, making Hermione shriek in surprise,
"I believe Draco would like you to stop asking questions, and accomplish this task."
Draco chuffed in response, and sat flicking his tail in impatience, there was prey outside, he could smell it.
Burrowing his muzzle into his front paws he watched them settle, the female giving him shy awestruck glances. He flicked his tail again, must wait on mates but maybe there was time for a nap? They would take a while.
The moaning woke him, an intuitive sound that he understood was meant to calm. His mates! Their lioness was laying panting, head laying on her flank, the large black tiger standing over her protectively moaning at her, trying to get her to stand; doing it wrong.
Draco stood and fought the instinctual urge to arch and hiss at the bigger cat, he walked forward slowly ears and tail up, stopping when he came close and the larger tiger's eyes pinned him with a stare. He waited for the tiger to give him permission to move, ears perking up. Going on the opposite side of the lioness, rubbing his body against the black on black fur. A rumble escaped the big chest, a purr, happiness.
Draco trailed his tail along the great spine, the big tiger stepped back allowing access to the lioness; Draco sniffed her, she smelled right, a home had had no idea he had missed. He purred in her ears, and she flicked her head away. Draco stepped back stealing looks at the big male, then he lunged nipping her rump. She stood immediately as he danced away from her and the big male mischievously, amber eyes flashing she grunted, Draco turned and started to run she gave chase, the big male roared his displeasure.
Hermione sat on the bed gingerly, "I can't believe you nipped me!"
Draco smirked, "I can't believe you were laying there cataloging your animalistic behaviors!", Hermione's pouted reply may have been considered cute. Draco sat to the end of the bed, "You know you'll be a animagus for the rest of your life? You have plenty of time"
"I think I'll take that under advisement Mr I ate a hare."
Draco laughed, "It could have been worse, I could have licked my own ass!"
Severus voice cut Hermione's cry of displeasure short, "And I assure you that you wouldn't be kissing anyone."
Severus went to the window, looking over the blooming flowers they had run roughshod through only an hour before, "Why was today so special that we had to become animagi?"
Hermione reached for a her bag doubtlessly going for a book; Draco flicked his hand sending it skittering across the floor, "Just tell us!"
Her nose flared in anger, she started to draw herself forward.
"Please Hermione? You know you don't need a book" Draco reached for her foot starting penitence immediately.
She flounced back, "It's Beltane, animals were blessed on Beltane, I believe Danu will consecrate our animagus forms today, in 1278 there was a report of animagus being..."
For Draco her voice fell away, their fur had been damp with Beltane dew still suspended on leaves and grass as they had ran outside; he remembered stories his mother had told him of pure blood ladies washing their faces with Beltane dew, the goddess' hand remained in everything they did.
Severus never turned as he interrupted Hermione, "Have you noticed that the elves have only placed yellow flowers?"
Hermione's and Draco's eyes darted around the room large vases usually filled with Hermione's roses and whatever the gardens were producings, were filled instead of rowan branches, gorse and primrose.
"The elves have evoked the tree spirits." He turned then leaving the room much in the way that he had entered every class room while he taught, "I must prepare for the bonfire."
Hermione moved to follow Draco held her foot shaking his head, Hermione returned look was wary, "leave him! he needs to prepare without us."
Hermione gave him a doubtful look.
"Don't you see how he's been acting? He's worried and stressed about this, you, us. If you go he'll pout and snarl, give him time."
Hermione frowned but lay back summoning her bag. Draco rested his head back, no she wouldn't have noticed, she was too wrapped up her her own worries.
Severus hoped they stayed inside, stayed away from him. Danu chuckled, "My son you can not fight yourself."
Severus started rolling his sleeves up, he could cut the wood with magic but he needed physical exertion today, "I can fight you though."
"I am a goddess and you are the last in what was a very great line, named Prince because they were borne of royal blood, my blood! You are me!" Her whip like voice centered his attention.
"This! All this cutting trees, bonfires, festivals, this was human doing, seeking to control me. I used it and became encapsulated in their limits! I want my daughters back my son, I want my people."
Severus scoffed, "Pureblood nonsense."
He should have chosen his words carefully, the power she ran from the top of his head to the tip of his toes was a lightening bolt.
"Blood means nothing unless it is mine! My people, my works, pure, mud, it matters not what you call it! If magic quickens within, they are mine!"
She released him then and his body dropped like a marionette with its strings cut; "You are a fool my son, you read, you think, but you, you have stopped feeling. You will feel!"
Severus twitched on the grass, wave after wave of emotions battering him, serenity so great tears pricked his eyes, grief that took his breath and left his heart bereaved- torn, fear, disgust, anticipation, pity, amazement, rage, ecstasy, and finally love. Danu wrapped unseen arms around his trembling body, goose-bumped, tear stained, and sweaty, and rocked him mother to babe. Telling him he was wanted, loved, beyond blood, beyond what he could do for others, because he was. Severus cried himself to sleep.
When he awoke, Danu's presence was there. "There'll be no bonfires tonight my son, As the muggles say Pax tecum."
Severus throat tight from crying laughed, "I knew I would regret going to Mass."
Chapter 30: Well done
If you have followed this story on FF you know that I am now picking it up again after an almost 1.5 yr break.
I should apologize, I am sorry I thought this would have been done ohh a year ago, until brain fog set in and I was unable to write more than one shots.
If you are a woman thinking about sterilization, skip Essure. I ended up with horrible brain fog, debilitating pain, more allergies than I know what to do with, and having major surgery.
No beta because seriously at this point, I'm just stubbornly committed to finishing it
But if someone wants to corral commas, let me know.
Draco met Hermione's eye over Severus' shoulder, they rocked as one. Severus moaned deeply, want wrapped in a sensuous breath that drove desire through her stomach. She tightened her grip on his cock, Draco sped his movements up.
She kissed Severus, and felt his arms pull her tighter, her hand stilled unable to move, the kiss was slow, tongue teasing submissive sweetness. He broke the kiss to cry Draco's name, Draco smiled and licked a trail of sweat making its way across Severus' shoulder. Severus writhed between them gripping her tightly, his chest against her breast. Hermione felt as Draco's control slipped, his movements stilled, his patrician nose flared, he licked his lips, his muscles against her finger fluttered, she contemplated running a finger against the pulse at his throat, but Severus moved again. It wasn't meant to be but it was a seductive slide, brushing her breast, tightening around Draco, his cock throbbed in her hand.
Hermione's other hand brushed along Draco's ribs, she could feel them Severus and Draco so close to climax, so achingly near, caught in a moment of stillness, drawing out the inevitable.
“Come for me.” she whispered, Severus sighed, Draco moved, eyes fluttering closed, she felt two pairs of hands grip her as they crashed over the precipice, warmth coated her hand.
The Goddess sighed sweetly, departing with the barest gust of wind.
They slipped onto the bed, head against breast, arms tangled, dry mouthed and panting.
“I wish she should stop that.” Severus voice roughen, a low rumble in the darkness.
Draco laughed, “And end her enjoyment? She's sooner raze the world than give up this.”
“Yes how I yearn to be wank material for other worldly beings. I thought that was over with when he with no nostrils ashes where scattered to the four corners of the earth.”
“Potter come away, there's an order of Merlin in that cauldron, and more galleons than you make in a year!”
“You know I'm not eleven anymore, you don't have to talk to me like I'll pop some pixie hair in it and blow it up to get at Draco..”
“And risk Hermione's displeasure? You wouldn't dare.”
“What is the lady who lunches doing today?”
“Trying to get Dumbledore fired.”
Harry was glad he had stepped away, the stirring rod that he had been holding slipped from his fingers shattering. “Pardon me?”
Snape waved his hand and the glass vanished, ignoring the stuttering shock of Potter.
“It has come to our attention that the students have taken to … torturing Slytherins. Lucius is of the opinion that all purebloods should pull their children from Hogwarts. My wife has decided it is time the Headmaster retire if he can't control the little miscreants. I myself have sent word that Slytherins are to hex first and ask questions later.”
“How will that solve anything.”
“I have no idea, however if it keeps a first year from having her head shaved.”
“My god! It's the Gryffindors isn't it.”
“Leading the charge with great bluster.”
Harry's frowned, nodded twice, “Alright.” He took two steps, “Amm I'll be back for supper.”
Severus waved Harry away keeping his head down, pretending to read his book.
As he listened to the heavy steps of Harry's boots going up the stone steps of the cellar Severus thought he should feel some what guilty for going behind Hermione's back but he didn't, nor would he ever.
His tiger prowled as it took shape from the mist, “Lucius, the Lion has gone to the cubs.”
Hermione was sitting with Augusta Longbottom, Madam Bones, a man who was even older than Dumbledore whose name slipped her mind, probably because he never spoke just nodded in agreement with Augusta. Across from them Professor MacGongall thin lipped and grey coloured, Dumbledore, and the head of Slytherin a watery eyed nincompoop if there was ever one.
“This cannot continue Headmaster either you find some semblance of control, or we will.”
Madam Bones was an impressive witch, she didn't raise her voice, in fact Hermione thought if she closed her eyes she could pretend they were talking about something quite innocent, Hungarian Ironbellies perhaps?
Instead they were discussing how the students, her house members especially, were treating the Slytherins.
Dumbledore unusually wasn't making excuses, he'd expelled the boys in question, but Hermione doubted he had the stomach to do what must be done.
From behind Dumbledore Headmaster Black was grinning ear to ear, his handkerchief over his mouth, infact a number of the portraits seemed in states of distress.
“Dumbledore, the portraits are just as barmy as you are!”
“Madam Longbottom I have no idea, oh!”
He turned to look at the wall, just then one of the older portraits slipped almost all the way out of their frame leaving a hand waving madly.
“... I have NEVER! NEVER! Been more ashamed to be a member of Gryffindor House!”
Harry's voice carried into the office filled with emotions.
“Slytherins saved my life! Mrs Malfoy and Draco lied to the Dark Lord, Professor Snape the bravest man I've ever known, was a spy for as long as I have been alive. Without them I would be dead!”
Oh Harry, his voice choked, “Dead!” He cleared his throat and Hermione felt hers tightened. “Slytherins have welcomed me with open arms to become my family. Futhermore I will not have anyone who hurts others dare to call themselves wizards and witches of the light. That is not who we are, we are better than hurting innocent people, Voldemort hurt innocent people! And I say if you lift a finger to hurt an innocent you are no better than he!” Harry stopped a heavy sigh punctuating the end of his speech.
A slow clap started, a whisper came from the portraits, “Hufflepuff.”
It slowly got louder, “Slytherin.” And louder, “Ravenclaw.”
And then even louder still, “Gryffindor!” There was the sound of benches being pushed, “The Gryffindors are going to the Slytherin tables!”
A soft feminine sigh “Oh oh my would you look at that, they are apologizing!”
Hermione let the tears fall. Oh Harry.
“You should have heard him, all righteous indignation and disapproving snarls!”
Harry blushed, and stuffed a forkful of potatoes in his mouth as Draco toasted him. He hadn't really meant to lecture the whole of the Hogwarts student body, it was just when Snape told him what happened, he'd gotten so angry, he couldn't help himself.
His wine glass started to fill and Harry looked up, Snape, Severus loomed over him filling his glass, the man looked at him as he finished pouring.
“Well done Potter.”
Chapter 31: Femi
Where a woman rules, streams run uphill. ~ Ethiopian proverb
Elspeth sat with Hermione sharing a lifetime of Pureblood teachings, their magic worming it's way along spines as they waited and worried.
“I have considered asking Miss Lovegood to visit.”
Hermione wondered if this was a test, “Are you sure that's a good idea?”
“I didn't ask him to choose, I never have.”
Hermione wondered what the correct answer to your mother in law telling you that she had somewhat of an open relationship was, “Oh.”
“You should see your face!”
Elspeth laughed, it was loud and full bellied, very un-Malfoy with this new voice of hers.
“The laugh of a woman well sated, and in love; the magic of a Black. How strange.”
The shock pushed them wands out to their feet, the woman in the door way looked at them, Elspeth blushed, and bowed her head, but kept her wand in hand, “Madame Oyinlola.”
“Call me Femi.” She sniffed, “And I shall call you?”
“And an oath you are.”
Femi slipped into the room closing the door, then just stood there looking at Hermione and Elspeth, and they her.
She was old Hermione thought, you knew this even though she looked younger than Dumbledore, hell she looked around McGonagall's age, little birds nest of wrinkles at the corners of the eyes, and laugh lines that spoke of a happy life, and nary another winkle; but her eyes and voice were unfathomable.
Her voice invocative of brittle parchment and too young wine, whip sharp yet thin with age. The eyes reminded Hermione of Severus', she knew they held secrets.
Madame's lips moved, her eyes fluttered closed, Hermione felt her own heart flutter, and smelt the ocean, molasses, melon, and in time a scent she would know as birth, sweet, fresh, intoxicating.
A voice whispered to them in a tone that could only be called seductive, sounding like ocean waves, no words formed but they understood. It sent chills down their spines, Hermione felt her magic throb in response.
Hermione looked at the older woman. Her lips stilled, her eyes were open watching them.
The scent of the ocean hung in the air for a moment and then was gone.
Madame sucked her teeth, a loud stream of sound, she ran a chocolate brown hand over her head full braided long grey hair.
“So the half dead gods of the Gauls seek to rise again?” She chortled a laugh that set her full breast bouncing, “How special. ”
Femi did not stand on ceremony, or maybe she was a ceremony. Hermione thought of what Blaise had told her before he'd packed his bags, and Pansy up, and taken off for America again; wanting to be far away when his twice great grandmother came.
His great-great-grandmother was near royalty, but more importantly she was a priestess in the oldest ways of her people. A bastard child of a Yourba priestess and a Irish man, too dark for her father's people. Blessed at birth, her mother's tribe said she was her own grandmother reborn.
Severus had thought she would have been able to help them find a crone, instead she was their crone. It was apropos, even her name spoke of the gods, Oluwafemi- God loves me.
She did magic without a wand, “Wands! Crutches to keep you controlled, take an English wizard's wand you take his life!”. She shared her opinion in the same way, freely. “You want explanation, you want reasons for the sun setting and the fowl scratching! You want neat gods that come when called and disappear from sight. Ha! Gods are petty beings.”
Her eyes fluttered closed for infinitesimal moments before she ate or drank, she made small movements with her hands, quick ones that you blinked and missed, and sometimes she sat silent seemingly listening to nothing. The glass of water at her right hand? Its surface never stilled.
She was strange, and beautiful in the way of natural disasters, unrelentingly powerful.
Femi set the pace of the afternoon, she was the guest, she was the oldest, she wanted nor needed anything from them. So they drank tea and picked at the food, Femi and Elspeth mostly making polite conversation until it was unbearable for Hermione.
“How did you know?” Hermione tried to make her voice less demanding, and more please tell me.
“Know what?” She curled her lip and made a sharp job with her chin towards Elspeth, “About her? Or about your goddess?”
Femi licked her lips, “Her magic, I knew her when she was but a babe at her mother's breast, death did not change that much.”
“But no one knows”
Femi smiled, cocking her head to the side, folding her arms. “In Africa it is nothing for the gods to walk among us, use our bodies as their own, for the dead to rise. Did you know I can taste yours too? It reaches for me tainted with your men, and the blessing of your goddess. Does she know?”
“All little one? Does she know that you will carry the lineage of a goddess?”
Hermione shook her head, scared to part her lips and choke.
“Did you take oaths little one? Pledged never to speak of the gift you share because they'll fear you, remake you into a dark lord, rip you apart with their dread of the unknown?”
Hermione nodded eyes big, reaching across the bond for Severus and Draco.
Femi dipped her fingers into the glass of water, and flicked it at Hermione. “Do not involve your men in the talks of women.”
“I have to tell them.”
“Did you think Severus Snape would ask me to visit without thought?”
Hermione shook her head, but through the bond came Severus his intent strong, ' do not fear her!'.
“He dangles you like sweet fruit, a child of Danu. A child of my father's people.”
She closed her eyes for a long moment, and Hermione fought to find the right words to explain that she was not a treat, as she opened her mouth to speak Femi spoke. “My mother goddess will gladly open the door for your mother goddess.” She stood pulling her shawl around her shoulders, “I will see you both two week thus, find your virgin. I will not live forever.” sweeping from the room, bangles clinking.
Elspeth let out a deep breath, and grinned at the look on Hermione's face, “Oh don't look like that, it went well, no one was poisoned.”
She walks among us, goddess cloaked in flesh
Bathed in the waters of life.
Forming nations with the sway of her hip
Dea sub numine viget seculo seculorum***
Sybil coming back to herself watched Dumbledore's lips narrow to a line, and reached for the bottle of whiskey Minerva had taken to storing behind the crystal balls.
Alexa fanned the cards out as she had done every new moon since she'd come to Scotland. Three deep breaths, passing her hands over the layout again and again she pulled five cards. She held her breath as she turned each. It was time! Holy shit it was time!
Dea sub numine viget seculo seculorum- Under goddess spirit she flourishes forever and ever.
Or something close to that. I've never done latin
Chapter 32: Hope
To run is not necessarily to arrive. ~ Swahili proverb
Severus paused at the door and looked at the young man at his side. “Mr Longbottom you understand the dangers?"
Neville put a hand up, “We've been through his before Sir, I know there are risk.”
He swallowed and met Severus' eyes, “I trust you. If not this potion there will be another.” He pushed opening the door, and waited for Severus to follow.
Healer Strout looked at the two vials, “Are you sure dearie?”
Neville nodded, “I've signed everything absolving the hospital of any responsibility. It's ok, if you want I'll give them.”
“No no, that's my job, I just wanted to be sure. You know Agnes' son he's the same always trying, but...” she sent a sad look towards the hairy woman sitting at the window, “Well nothing ever helps, I'd hate for your heart to be broken.”
Neville nodded, and glanced at Snape who was staring at Strout, his right hand seemed twitchy Neville thought. Apparently Hermione hadn't changed him that much.
“I have hope Healer Strout.” He smiled at the older woman, “Professor Snape is the best potions master in a generation, if anyone can do it he can.”
The woman nodded and turned to give his parents the first dose, the reminder of Snape enough to keep her mouth shut.
Snape waved his wand and two chairs clambered across the room, one to him, the other settled behind Neville who gave a grateful smile; today was going to be a long day.
I do not promise miracles, it is anathema to being a potions master, potions are a science; brewing an art.
Miracles I leave in the hands of the gods, and once I thought all religion charlatan. But as we leave Longbottom's mother reaches for him, patting his cheeks in a manner that is maternal, and patronizing both.
“Goodbye my Neville, my son, my only son.”
Her eyes tear up, her lips tremble, forming shapes but no words come.
“Bye mum, we'll see you tomorrow. You'll get more potion tomorrow, and you'll get better, won't you?”
She gives him a blazing smile, “Tomorrow?”
We are out the door before he turns and grabs me by the shoulders, “That's hopeful right? She called me by my name I hadn't reminded her of it the whole six hours we were there!”
I nod, “It was.”
He beams at me, I don't even demand he release me when he grabs me in a tight swift embrace.
Femi sat on the ground pulling darkness around her like a second skin, it annoyed her to spirit walk in strange lands even if here was as much part of her as Africa, it did not feel that way to her spirit. She shook the annoyance away, closing her eyes, settling her body in the night.
She breathed, that was all, no more, no less. She breathed and waited, and when the time was right she slept, and her spirit searched.
Being without a body is strange, and frightening, glorious and freeing, all at once, even now, even after near two hundred years.
Femi thought of staying like this, there was a man she'd met once from Tibet, his teacher had done it. Or something similar enough as far as two people with only half a language in common could understand each other, telling stories of countries neither of them had ever set foot on.
But the great rest was for other times, and greater things.
She brushed off the urge to wander, and began her search.
She could feel her, the wild woman, she could always feel them. They called to her a siren's song of kinship.
She followed the call.
Femi felt the tingle of wild magic even in spirit form, Dumbledore was a fool! She wondered if he still felt magic as he had in his youth, or like his country men he'd depended on wands so long he'd forgotten. Poor Albus, so wrapped in the good and light, ignoring history, and intuition.
Femi let her spirit move over the black lake, she hoped the magic did not belong to a child.
When the girl finally caught sight of her, she smiled, Femi smiled in return. And beckoned her come near, allowing her to clasp incorporeal hands, and kiss cheeks that weren't there.
“Grandmother I greet you.”
Femi laughed, “And so well trained you are. What is your name?
“Such a pretty name, tell me which mother do you keep in your heart?”
The girl came closer, Femi almost sighed as she whispered.
The girl, they were all girls when you were Femi's age, stepped back, and waited for Femi to speak, hands still clasping Femi's tightly.
Femi swallowed around the lump in her throat, and squeezed the hands that were clasped in hers.
“Magna dea est.” (the goddess is great)
Chapter 33: 33
I lost a lot of this story, twice. Once I lost my entire back up harddrive, and several months of work after a lightening strike.
This has been painful to write, because I have repeatedly thought about what I've lost. That's unfair to everyone who waited for me to finish, so I'm finishing, and I'm trying to do it as strong as possible.
When I finish this I will then share all the smaller story lines as shorts, like Harry and The Club; but I feel that to finish I can't delve into every story line, a goddess needs to be freed.
Hermione could have ignored their distress, if she wasn't stressed.
She could have pretended that Draco yearnings didn't leach into her as they lay in bed, and Severus' denial didn't make her fingers itch to dig themselves into Draco's perfect hair by rough handfuls.
She could have, maybe; this loomed very small compared to goddesses, cures, and body switched witches, this was the easiest of the worries to sate, sex.
Hermione knocked softly on the door to the cellar, Severus' grunt beckoning her in. She picked her way between crates of newly delivered ingredients, and new cauldrons
They had realized months ago that Severus Snape spent money on two things- books, potions ephemera mostly; and six good robes a year, a hold over from his teaching days.
He was seated at a desk tucked into a corner, glasses on, books opened in front of him.
Hermione took a deep breath as his eyes left the page,
“Would you please just fuck Draco!”
His eye brow rose.
“The way he wants you to.”
“You do realize that I am more than a walking prick sent to quench his surfeit of desire?”
Hermione's lips pressed thin, she echoed his tone.
“You do realize that I share a bond with you, I feel him, I feel you! You like his desires.”
He pushed the book away,
“One can imagine.”
“Sarcasm does not become you.”
“It's not just about sex you know.”
“I.” she paused pursing her lips, “I know that's not all but I don't understand, and I don't know if I can. But that doesn't matter as long as you both get what you want from it. You need it, and rejecting what ever it is won't make it better.”
They stared each other down, neither willing to break eye contact.
He nods, still refusing to break the staring competition, and accepts her kiss goodbye.
Severus Snape was a bastard, Hermione contemplated sending that thought screaming across their bond, but didn't.
He and Draco were doing... she didn't quite know what they were doing. It wasn't sexual and it was, it was a mating dance Slytherin style, long looks, snark, and soft touches, it had been going on three weeks, but tonight was the worse.
They've already ran Harry off, Draco's parents were staying away until “they stop posturing like two randy dragons”.
Hermione's considering hiding out in the library when Severus takes Draco by the hand and calls to her.
In the bedroom he points her to her chair, while walking around a wide eyed Draco.
“You should thank Hermione Draco. She advocated for you quite effectively.”
Draco's Adam's apple bounces, he stares pass Severus's shoulder at Hermione mouthing “Thank you.”, she's sure that he's teared up.
It's a demand, Draco freezes staring at Severus, then strips by hand dropping each piece of clothing on the floor.
He's beautiful nude, she knows this, but usually they are all in the bed, even when it's just two of them going at it, the voyeur role is still participatory.
It's rare to be a true voyeur, sitting, watching.
But she is.
They are brutal in their love, much more so than when she was participating.
This was what Severus wanted her to know, and what she had shied away from acknowledging, the ferocious power that lay between them, a quickening of the darkness that they yielded to. A shudder ran through her.
Severus held a handful of Draco’s white gold hair in his fist, and Draco beamed at him through friction plumped lips, ignoring what had to be a ridiculous amount of pain as his stripped behind was pressed into by his heels.
“You were phenomenal Draco.”
If she hadn’t been watching she wouldn’t have known, not even via the bond did Draco leak what had to have been an enormous amount of emotional weight he carried, but Severus words shook him, a tear fell, then another, Draco kept his eyes on Severus.
“Thank you Sir.”
Severus gathered him up in his arms, and then to bed, his large hands soothing along Draco’s striped back. He whispered to Draco, and the silent tears turned to sobs that shook Draco’s body, until he gasped for air.
She left them alone, her heart full and brimming as Draco slowly rewove his walls, allowing them in a bit more.
She smiled from the doorway at her men, they were damaged that much she was sure of, but they were made strong in their bond, and in whatever it was that they alone shared. Hermione slipped into the bathroom to draw a bath, giving them privacy for this intimate moment.
The soul of the land is in the womb of woman.
When they have met, and be of one accord.
My songs will travel in loosed mouths.
My spirit will quicken their wombs
My land shall be fertile
My women shall be fruitful
My spirit shall roam free.
Sybil pulled her pillow close, and rolled in her sleep.
Centuries later skeptics, and philosophers would argue if the documented prophecies were complete, or if Dumbledore had “in his 'wisdom'” refused to document the believed to be missing sections. They would discuss, loudly, sometimes violently, about the women. Who had they been, what they had done, how they had done it. But they all would agree that there had been a true prophecy.
Draco watched her with pride layered in admiration. Hermione standing at the lectern, her speech passionate, every eye following her as she spoke with zealousness on the role of mental health, the leaps in options to heal the mind, and just what the Narcissa Malfoy Ward was going to accomplish.
Lucius next to him smiled, this is what he had wanted for Draco; that would never happen. Draco was ill suited to it.
But Hermione gave him what he had sought for so long, the Malfoy name lacquered with respect. She was the representative of the House Malfoy, on her breast its crest in black gold, onyx, bloodstone, and diamonds.
After they stood to the side, and watched them, the intelligentsia, the powerful, those would wanted nothing to do with them- Malfoys, fluttering around Hermione, moths to her blinding flame.
“You have done well Draco. You have exalted what I often ignored, love. You have made a place for yourself, your family, and your children to come. I am proud of you.”
Draco, forced himself to keep his eyes forward, swallowing around the lump that suddenly sprang into his throat, and nodded. Hermione looked across the room towards them, and smiled, her bright sunny smile that he knew she had always kept for those she loved. He rolled his shoulders, his back still sore from Severus’ heavy hand, and smiled back, before resting a hand on his father’s shoulder.
“Thank you father.”