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Say Goodnight And Go

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It was Friday and Hermione only had a Potions lesson left before lunch then she was finished for the weekend. She was looking forward to doing nothing but her homework and prefect duties for the rest of the weekend but if recent events were anything to go by then she wasn't sure if she would even get the peace or the time to study uninterrupted.

It was sixth year and so far things were going well, Hermione was throwing herself into her studies as much as possible, trying her best to ignore that the Dark Lord was on the rise and threatening their entire existence, wanting, for once in her life, to just be a normal teenager with normal teenage worries. It seemed she was getting what she wanted even if the normal teenage worries she had wanted so much did seem to revolve around Draco Malfoy, yes the son of a death eater, the arch enemy of her two best friends. The irony of it was not totally lost on her but right now she could talk more to him than the two boys who were supposed to be practically family to her. It didn't help that she and Ron had barely spoken a word to each other in weeks, he always seemed to have his tongue down Lavender Brown's throat these days, which wouldn't bother her so much if it wasn't so constant and shoved under her nose everywhere she turned. That, plus the fact that they actually looked like they were eating each others faces. It made her sick and distracted her from her work. So she'd go to her dorm but that was always filled with the other girls and Hermione really couldn't bare to listen to gossip any more than she could stand listening to Won-Won and Lavender kiss Merlin, did they have to do it so loudly?

The cherry on the cake was Harry hardly ever seemed to be around much, he was either playing quidditch, taking extra occlumency lessons, with Ginny or on the rare occasion he could be seen actually doing his homework. Of course she still sat with him at meal times if she attended. But trying to eat while Ron and Lavender were draped around one another making those godforsaken noises was nauseating so she tried to either get there after them or eat as quickly as she could and excuse herself declaring she had prefect duties to attend to. She knew Harry could see through her excuses but he didn't try to confront her about it. She thought he probably felt the same way.

It was this situation that lead to her and Malfoy having the strange relationship they had. Of course they were not friends, far from it, but they were not exactly enemies either, at least that's what she thought. It had all started one evening when once again Hermione had trouble concentrating on her homework, she was really going to lose marks if it continued and as it was after curfew the library was closed so she decided to go to the room of requirement. It was the only place in the castle she knew she would be alone and able to get on with her assignments. Except she hadn't been alone for long when Draco Malfoy turned up seemingly with the same idea she had had.

"Granger, what are you doing here?"

Hermione looked at her classmate in veiled shock, trying to understand how they were both able to use the room at the same time. "The same as you I imagine." She sighed as she saw his school bag slung over his shoulder, the bulges that so obviously from books being stuffed inside haphazardly.

"You're hiding in the room of requirement too?" He asked with a raised brow.

"I would rather put it as 'doing my homework in peace," she answered testily

"You're out past curfew," he had said as if it wasn't already completely obvious

"And I see I'm not the only one. Good job we're both prefects. Why are you here, Malfoy?" She asked wondering why they were managing to be halfway civil to one another though the boy in front of her looked more tired and drawn than any other she knew. Of course she knew why.

"I guess we both had the same idea. I needed to go somewhere quiet before my brain exploded." He muttered quietly.

Hermione looked at him through narrowed eyes and went back to her work where she was sat at a desk covered in books, parchment and quills and a fire lit on the wall to her left. The room resembled a small study, big enough for about maybe four people, lit with lanterns and candles, a large battered leather couch was on the back wall and a rug covered the hard cherrywood floor.

"How did I get in here if you're in here already?" He had asked her though it was clear it was already on her mind. They both had much experience with this room, her hiding in it with Dumbledore's Army and him trying to infiltrate it with the Inquisitorial Squad. It was only when the walls had been knocked through that the room had revealed itself to those not invited. It had repaired itself of course, that was one of the charms of the room.

"I guess it's because we both came here with clear intentions and were not here to bring harm to nor specifically hide from anyone. It's all I can think of," Hermione mused loudly and hopefully as she glanced at him.

"I guess that makes sense," he said obviously thinking about what her answer meant. "So what's going on in the Gryffindor common room that is rendering you unable to work there?" Small talk, he thought to himself. He was making small talk with her now? What was he going to do next, join her?

Hermione made a disgusted face just at the thought of what she knew what happening up in the Gryffindor tower.

"I take it the Weasel has something to do with it?" He said with a grin.

"What makes you think that?" She snapped back.

"Because the whole school has had to witness those two sucking faces for the past few weeks, it's disgusting and if it was going on in my common room I'd have had to leave too, or hex them."

"I've been pretty tempted to hex them." She admitted.

"I thought you two were supposed to be friends anyway? Why don't you just tell him he's putting the whole school off their food?" Draco asked.

"I've not even spoken to him in weeks. I think he's forgotten I even exist." Why was she even confiding this in him? She asked herself. What a bizarre night it was turning out to be.

"What about Potter?"

"He's around less than I am right now."

"Some great best friends you three are. What happened to the golden trio?"

"Hormones, it seems" She replied with a soft laugh. "Ron's always got himself glued to Lavender and Harry is with Ginny whenever he's not off doing whatever it is he's doing these days so I'm enjoying the peace for a few weeks. I could do with more quiet in my life anyway."

"What, no boyfriend?" He teased. He was asking her about her love-life now? Why?

"Hardly" She scoffed. "Well, I need to get back to this essay, I've got so much to do. You're welcome to stay if it keeps your brain from exploding." She said to him though more out of politeness than anything else so she was shocked when he put his bag on the other side of the desk and pulled out his own homework.

 

She thought back to that night three weeks ago, the night that started off all the secrecy and hiding. She didn't mind it. In fact it was partly her idea, it just wouldn't do if the occupants of the castle found out that Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy were meeting up in a secret room after curfew and studying together late into the night, even if it was some of the most intellectually mind-blowing conversations either of them had engaged in for some time. It had fast become Hermione's favourite time of day when they met up each night. She found she was even spending more time there than the library these days, only using the library to check her books in and out since there always seemed to be hushed arguments and students who couldn't study in the proper manner.
Since it was Friday afternoon and the common room was about to start coming to life for the weekend she packed up her bag and headed for the door, she would go the the room of requirement after lunch. A much better idea than being around riled up teenagers all evening.
Hermione walked into the great hall and sat next to Ginny feeling very thankful that Ron had not arrived yet, she started to plate up her food and just enjoyed spending a few moments with her friend since it had been so long that they had had the chance.

"Hey Gin! how's fifth year going?"

"Awful! We've only been back six weeks and already I feel like I'm going to have a breakdown from all this homework. Did you know Professor Snape gave me a six foot essay yesterday on the qualities and uses for Draught of Peace, I'm half in a mind to brew it just to give myself some peace!" Ginny exclaimed.

"Six feet? What did you do to earn that much homework?" Hermione asked as she slathered butter on her bread roll.

"Well I didn't exactly do anything more than I said something." She replied with a grin.

"Ginny, you should know better than to talk back to professors." Hermione scolded.

"I didn't say anything to or about Snape, he just happened to be in the vicinity when I was talking to that idiot Crabbe. Anyway, it's okay my best friend got an O in her O.W.L's last year and I'm sure if I asked nicely she will help me if I need it." Ginny said with a quick wink and smile to Hermione.

"You're relentless, you know that? Fine, I'll help but only and I mean only, if you do your best then I will check it over for you and help where I can. Deal?"

"Deal." Ginny replied with a much brighter smile than before.

"Anyway, since when have I been your best friend Gin?"

"Errr since we met, obviously." The red-headed girl replied with a roll of her eyes.

"Okay, okay sorry, so other than this wonderful six foot essay you have what else are you doing this weekend?" Hermione asked.

"Well I have tons of homework to do, then a date with Harry tomorrow as it's a Hogsmeade weekend, then probably more homework on Sunday and some quidditch practice when our wondrous captain gets off his arse and lets the rest of the team know when the practice actually is. Staying as far away from Won-Won and Lav-Lav as possible and somewhere in all that I am going to find out where you go every night when you think no one has noticed. What about you?" Ginny answered with a smirk that made her look like the cat that got the cream.

"What do you mean?" Hermione's heart was hammering in her chest but she ignored it as she tried to play dumb. Not a good look for her she had to admit.

"Oh come on 'Mione, the boys may not have noticed because you know, they're boys, but don't think I've not noticed that you disappear every night until well after curfew. Last night you only came in after 3am and don't even tell me that's because you're in the library or being a prefect because I'm a prefect and I know the library shuts before curfew." Ginny said looking pointedly at Hermione clearly giving her no choice but to answer.

"This is why most of my friends are male," Hermione muttered back.

"Come on, tell me, you know I won't stop until you do and I'll even follow you if I have to." Ginny said all sing-song like.

Hermione sighed in obvious defeat. She knew she'd lost this one but it would also be good to have someone to talk to about it. Whatever it is.

"Okay but you have to promise not to tell anyone. I mean it promise me. No one can know, especially not Harry and Ron"

"I swear on Godric 'Mione, I won't tell a soul. Is everything okay?"

"Everything is fine." Hermione reassured.

"Well then tell me!" Ginny exclaimed.

"I go to the room of requirement to get away from the common room, it's not exactly the best place to get work done these days with the Ron and Lavender show that's on repeat. It's a wonder how any Gryffindor's are getting any work done outside of class, I dread to think how much Ron's work is suffering!"

"Okay so every night you go, alone, to the room of requirement and do homework until the sun is practically up? That's your big secret that I can't tell? I have to say I am a bit disappointed."

"I never said I went alone," HErmione muttered, feeling her face flood of colour.

Ginny's eyes narrowed. "You always leave alone and come back alone."

"Okay well I guess I do go alone but I'm not there alone." Hermione admitted.

"So you meet up with someone while you're there? Who the hell can you be meeting up with that needs to be such a secret?" Ginny's interest clearly becoming too much for her.

"Draco Malfoy." Hermione replied resignedly as she tried to look at anywhere but the Slytherin table.

There was silence for a few moments while Ginny recovered the ability to speak.

"Draco Malfoy? Really?"

"Yeah, it was just a coincidence the first time it happened. I went there like I usually do and he turned up while I was doing my homework"

"And that was that he just stayed?"

"Well no, I guess we talked a bit first, you know the way we usually do. He asked why I was there and out after curfew, I asked back. A few smart remarks here and a smirk there and he decided to stay. We did our work in silence that night. I went again the next night and he turned up again. For the first week or so we just sat in silence doing our work then one night he got really worked up over something in the Runes book he was working from so I had a look at it for him and helped him with it. After that we helped each other and end up in discussions about Runes or Charms, basically whatever we are working on. He's actually really intelligent and a good study partner to have." Hermione admitted, biting her lip, waiting for her friends reaction.

"And these discussions last until 3am?"

"I guess they do."

Ginny narrowed her eyes just slightly."He's not being a prat is he? I mean everything is okay?"

"Ginny, he's Malfoy, of course he is being a prat but I can handle myself. Anyway I've already warned him I knew the ferret trick, just in case." Hermione replied mischievously.

"Oh you're so bad 'Mione!"

"Where do you think the boys learnt it all?"

Ginny just laughed at her friend and moved on to her chocolate ice cream.

"So what are you doing this weekend then? More studying with the ferret?"

"I guess so. I'm heading there after here just to get some peace. I'm not sure I'll be going to Hogsmeade though. I don't fancy going alone and you're going with Harry, Ron will be with Lavender although it's not like he's even spoken a word to me in weeks anyway so he wouldn't even notice."

"Come with us."

"I am not coming on your date with you Gin, thanks for the offer but I don't feel much like being the third wheel."

"Oh come on, it wouldn't be like that!"

"It would be exactly like that but it's okay. I have loads of work to do anyway and I don't really need extra supplies, we only started the school year a few weeks ago I'm not about to run out any time soon."

"You sure?"

"Positive" Hermione smiled to her friend.

"Sure about what?" Harry asked as he sat across from both girls

"Nothing really, I just decided to stay in the castle this weekend. Catch up on my homework. I'll let you two love birds make the most of the freedom though whilst I make the most of the quiet common room for once. Anyway, I'm going to enjoy the rest of the afternoon with a book, see you later." She said as she stood from the table and picked up her bag.

"Bye," Harry and Ginny replied in unison as she started to walk back towards the entrance of the great hall where she walked right past Ron and Lavender and immediately headed in the direction of the room of requirement.

Chapter Text

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Hermione was asleep on the couch of the magical room when Draco entered. It looked the same as it always did, books lining two walls, a large rug in the middle of the room with a desk placed over it perfectly and four chairs around it. On one wall was a large window overlooking the lake and on the other, was the fire that was always lit. The couch was pulled back from the wall and facing the fire there was another rug, this one much fluffier and perfect for sitting on.

He looked down at her, she'd clearly fallen asleep reading, or trying to, he leaned down to pick up the book she had dropped to the floor. It was wizarding fiction about Vampires, Werewolves, Dragons and Wizards, one of seven in a series and his own favourite, he smiled as he put the bookmark in and set it back down then headed to the desk to start on his homework. 
It wasn't long until the scratching of his quill woke her up.

"Wh-what, where am I?" Hermione mumbled sleepily.

Draco smirked in the girl’s direction, "exactly where you were before you fell asleep."

"How long have I been asleep?"

"No idea" he answered with a shrug.

Hermione yawned and stretched out on the couch. "How long have you been here?"

"About fifteen to twenty minutes"

"And you didn't think to wake me?" She asked with a frown. Something made her feel uneasy about him possibly watching her sleep.

"I thought about it yes but decided I wasn't going to risk getting a hexing. How long have you been here anyway?"

"No idea. I came here after lunch to read. What time is it?"

"After lunch? Granger it's 7pm." He answered with a lifted brow.

"Oh Merlin. I must have been more tired than I thought I was." She admitted.

"Won't your friends not wonder where you are?"

"I doubt it. They're men, they never notice anything. And one of them is Harry who is literally the most oblivious person I’ve ever met." She answered with a chuckle.

"I'd hardly call Potter and Weasley men Granger, what about Weaslette, surely she will notice?"

Hermione bit her lip as she took the seat across from him. "She knows where I am. Or she will have a good guess at least." She admitted.

"She knows?" He asked looking at her quizzically.

"Like you said, she noticed. Cornered me at lunch asking why I was disappearing every night before curfew and coming in at 3am. I didn't really have anything I could say except the truth. She knew I wasn't with Harry and Ron, she knows the library is closed and she is a prefect, so I could hardly blame it on that, so I just told her truth."

His eyes widened just a fraction. "What did she say?"

"You mean when I told her I was staying up most nights to study with Draco Malfoy? Nothing. She was shocked to silence then when she regained her speech asked if you were still being a prat to me. Of course, I told her you were because that's who you are." She said with a grin.

"So much for secrecy, Theo figured it out too." He replied.

"He did? How?"

"Same way as Weaslette except he also heard her talking to that blonde from Ravenclaw saying that you were out all night and coming back to the dorm at 3am, since he knew I was doing that too it didn't take much for him to realise we were doing it together. Although he did think there was more going on than just studying. I'm not even sure he believed me when I told him there wasn't. He still found it hilarious we're studying together though."

"Urgh, really?"

"Hmm...so you like the Magical World of the Forbidden series?" He asked, changing the subject.

"How did you know?"

"You fell asleep reading it," he said nodding in the direction the book lay.

Hermione blushed as she looked back to the book on the floor in front of the fire, in all honesty it wasn't often she lost herself in fiction, she much preferred books she could learn from, but fiction was still her guilty pleasure when she needed an escape from reality.

"I guess I did. It's clichéd but it's my favourite series, I must have read them all at least twenty times each." She admitted.

"It's my favourite series too, book four is the best.”

"Without doubt! When she has to cross that bridge to find him and the dragon won't let her pass!" Hermione exclaimed excitedly.

"I never took you for a fan of fiction"

"I just like the escape, the adventure, the happy endings." She admitted.

"Yeah because the Princess of Gryffindor needs more adventure in her life, doesn't she? Let’s see; in first year if I remember right there was a troll and a three-headed dog you had to pass in order to go to do even more crazy stuff and rescue the Philosophers stone from a Professor no less. Second year, petrified by a basilisk. Third year was quite the year though if I remember it well, I was even on the receiving end of some of your anger myself. Good punch though.” He said with a smirk as his hand came up the scratch at his nose. “You turned your wand on another Professor, roamed around the castle with a convicted murderer, werewolf and a man thought to be dead, rescued a Hippogriff from decapitation and rescued said convicted murderer from a Dementors kiss then pledged innocence. Fourth year was spent keeping Potter alive and helping him win the Triwizard Tournament whilst dating the most renowned Quidditch seeker in the world. And I have two things to say about last year, Umbridge and Department of mysteries. Yes, Granger I can see why you of all people need to read about adventure."

"Well when it's in a book I know it's not me living it. That sounds wrong doesn't it? I just have enough to worry about in my own life, even if it is fiction, it's nice knowing it's not me having to live through it for once but no doubt there is still much adventure left in my future as much as I hate to admit it."

"There is?" He asked.

"Well Voldemort is still trying to take over the world, isn't he?"

Draco’s face paled at the mention of the name. “I uh-I guess-suppose he is.”

"Then I'm still fighting." She insisted.

"I wouldn't expect anything less from a Gryffindor. Your lot are all about sacrificing yourselves for your friends." He muttered back.

"The greater good.” She corrected. “And your lot are all about self-preservation."

"We are," he replied as if he'd just won an argument.

"By the way, I'm not sorry for that punch. It's probably one of the best memories I have involving you." Hermione said with a twinkle in her eyes.

"I would expect no less plus, I deserved it."

"Wow did Draco Malfoy, heir of Slytherin, just admit he deserved to be punched by a thirteen-year-old girl?" She asked in shock.

"If you tell anyone I will deny it." He replied cockily.

"I'd expect no less," Hermione returned mimicking his earlier retort. "So what work do you have tonight?" She asked him to try to move the conversation away from such dark thoughts. It still amazed her how after just three weeks of studying together each night they could talk to each other so well about these things, but she didn't want to push it, especially after she had only just woken up and clearly missed a meal.

"Ancient Runes."

"Oh, I have that too, want to work on it together?"

"Sure" He shrugged as she walked off to get her bag and sat next to him.

For the next four hours they sat side by side doing their homework in either comfortable silences, discussions on the work they had been given or light-hearted banter only slightly reminiscent to that of which they would outside of the doors to this room.

"So, what have you got planned for this weekend Granger?"

"Nothing really, just homework and finishing this book." She replied as she moved over to the couch where the book now lay.

"Not going to Hogsmeade?" He asked.

"No"

"Why?"

"I just don't feel like it. Besides there's another one in two weeks anyway. Are you going?"

"No"

"Why?"

"I just really don't want to. At this point most of my friends are coupled up and I really don't want to be stuck with them while they are all over each other" He said in disgust.

Hermione could relate to that. "What, no girlfriend?"

"No"

"Well I am shocked"

"Why?"

"I guess in this castle you are known for being a bit of a hit with the ladies and I always assumed you were with Pansy." She admitted.

"Pansy? Merlin, no! Plus, if I did have a girlfriend, what would she think about me spending most of my time in the company of the Gryffindor Princess?"

"Probably the same thing Harry and Ron would think about me spending most of my time in the company of the heir of Slytherin. No, I think Ron would still be worse."

"Not Potter?"

"I'm not saying he'd like it but he's more likely to try and understand, after he broke a few things of course."

"A few things being me I guess?" He smirked.

"Possibly. I might even try to stop him. Depends."

"Depends on what?"

"How much of a prat you are."

"I thought you already established I'm always going to be a prat?"

"I did, but you can be one with less enthusiasm" She said smiling brightly at him. "And you can stop called me Granger. Friends should be able to get past last names."

"Since when were we friends?"

"Since we started spending most nights in no one else's company but each other’s without killing one other and if I may say, actually having decent conversations in the process?"

"I guess you don't come across much of those these days."

"I guess neither do you or you wouldn't be here with me."

"Touché. Fine, what shall I call you instead?"

"Erm I don't know, how about my name? You do know what it is don't you?"

"Of course. But in public?"

"We have appearances to keep up. Bloody house rivalry." Hermione muttered.

"It's a bit more than house rivalry though isn't it? We're on different sides of the war for a start."

"And tell me Draco, is that by choice or are you there because of your parents? Because if I really thought you believed in all that pureblood elitist crap then you wouldn't have even stayed here the first night you came in and found me."

"Maybe I have an ulterior motive." He offered.

Hermione raised a brow, "I believe that even less."

"Why?"

"Because you're just a boy caught in a war where his parents have found themselves in a situation they either cannot get out of or don't want to get out of. Maybe it's both. I don't know. But right now, all we are are pawns whether that be for the dark or light."

Draco’s face was stoic, "you don't know anything about my parents."

"If I didn't know anything then you'd have denied it right away Draco," She said picking up her book and moving over to the corner of the couch to give him the opportunity to sit with her if he wanted to.

"You're right, the problem is I don't even know what's going on.” He sighed. “I don't know if they are following him because they want to, I really hope they aren’t, but I have no proof, they do whatever he asks of them and my mother is a mess. Any time I see her she looks like she's about to have a nervous breakdown. And I'm stuck in the middle. My father keeps trying to talk me into signing up, I've stalled him so far but I'm not sure how much longer I can do that. I'm sorry, you probably don't want to be listening to this."

"Rubbish Draco, I don't mind listening. Friends, remember? Is this why you don't stay in your common room?"

"It's not the easiest place to be, there are many children of death eaters up there and there is only so much of those stories I can bare to listen to."

"The fact that you're even saying that proves you're not like them."

"I wish I could believe you. Mind if I just sit here for a while?"

"Of course, I'm just having a little read for a bit to relax."

All Draco did was nod his head and sit considering the fire with nothing but his thoughts.
 

oOoOoOo 

Hermione woke up in a daze, something about her surroundings felt familiar but she knew she wasn't in her bed, whatever she was sleeping on did not feel like a bed. It didn't take long for her to realise where she was and when she opened her eyes she was shocked to see Draco Malfoy on the other end of the couch, her feet in his lap.

"Shit," she said

"What's up?" He replied groggily.

"We fell asleep. What time is it?" She asked him, her own watch broken.

"It's nearly 7am."

"We slept all night?! I'm surprised Ginny hasn't come looking for me."

"Maybe she didn't notice?"

"You clearly don't know Ginny. What about Theo, will he have noticed?"

"I'd imagine so."

"Gods we better get a move on we're both still in uniform and it's Saturday morning, if anyone see's us looking like this it will raise a few suspicious eyebrows." She said, her voice raising in pitch.

"I suppose it will, come on." He said, standing up and reaching his hand to help her up.

"How was that position even comfortable?"

"I have no idea but since you took up the rest of the couch it wasn't like I had a choice was it?"

"You do have a bed in the dungeons.”

"I do but I suspect I fell asleep first anyway"

"I honestly couldn't tell you," She said gathering her book and bag up.

"Erm...Hermione?" He said softly, using her actual name for the first time ever. It felt so strange to him yet so nice.

"Yes?" She answered back, her stomach flipped at the sound of her name from his lips.

"I just want to say thanks, for last night I mean."

"There's nothing to thank me for, Draco."

"There is, I didn't mean to go so into things and you didn't have to listen, but you did and I'm thankful for that."

Hermione didn't answer him instead she took a step closer and kissed him on the cheek then headed towards the door ready to sneak back into the Gryffindor tower hopefully without anyone noticing.

"Are you coming?" She called back to him after she realised he hadn't followed her.

"What? Oh, yes, sorry." He replied picking up his bag and catching her up at the door.

 

oOoOoOo

 

When they opened the door, they were not expecting to see the faces of Ginny Weasley and Theodore Nott standing there looking at them as if they were parents scorning small children for running off.

"Hermione! Where the hell have you been?" Ginny admonished.

"Here, obviously,” Hermione replied with a roll of her eyes. “And let me just point out that you knew where I was I told you yesterday." She replied.

"You left after lunch 'Mione, I was expecting to see you after that. When you didn't come back to the tower, even after 3am, I started to get worried."

"I've been here.” Hermione said softly, feeling bad her friend.

"Since lunch?" Ginny asked sceptically.

"Yeah I guess so. I fell asleep."

"Why are you here Theo?" Draco asked his friend.

"Same as Weaslette here, I got worried when you didn't come back to the dorm. You know, others are starting to notice you're never there."

"It's none of their business, let them notice." Draco spat.

"That may be, but you said it was a secret, and well, you're not doing a very good job of that." Theo replied to his friend.

"Well we'd be doing better at it if we didn't have interfering friends" Hermione said sarcastically.

"Why didn't you just come inside instead of lurking in the hallway at 7am on a Saturday morning?" Draco asked

"Well for one, we couldn't get in." Ginny answered.

"And two?" Hermione asked looking between their friends.

"Well, to be perfectly honest we were not at all sure what we would find if we did come inside. I am not inclined to see either of you without clothes on, especially at this time of morning and before I have breakfast." Theo replied.

"Without clothes on? Seriously? We studied, talked and fell asleep"

"And that's all you did?" Ginny asked

"GINNY WEASLEY!" Hermione exclaimed her cheeks burning.

"I had to ask, we were both thinking it."

"We were," Theo supplied "So....."

Draco just rolled his eyes at both of their friends and turned towards Hermione and kissed her on the cheek.

"I'll see you later?"

"Nothing going on my arse," Theo muttered

"Yeah probably." Hermione answered.

"Great....Oh and Hermione, thanks again for last night." Draco said just before he turned around and dragged Theo up the corridor and towards the dungeons.

"Let's get you back to the tower before anyone sees you wearing yesterday’s clothes, a uniform no less! It's Saturday morning, be lucky most people are still in bed!" Ginny said turning towards her friend and walking to their common room.

"Ginny, why did you come looking for me? You knew I was fine."

"I guess I was just worried and Nott is right you know, others have noticed you were gone. It won't be long until you have the boys on your back and while we are on this subject, what the hell was that back there?"

"What was what?" Hermione asked trying to remain as nonchalant as possible.

"You know exactly what I'm talking about 'Mione! The way you talked to each other, he called you Hermione what happened to Granger? And he KISSED you"

"Gin, he kissed me on the cheek." Hermione said pointedly.

"You do realise this is Draco Malfoy we're talking about, don't you?"

"Really? I hadn't noticed! Sure, it looked like him but-"

"Mione!"

"Ginny we're just friends that's all."

"Looks like more to me. And don't bother denying it, I won't believe you, but I will say this, that's the first time I've ever seen him where he resembles a human being, if that's how he always is with you then I can understand all of this." Ginny said as they approached the portrait of the fat lady.

"Abstinence," Hermione supplied to the portrait.

"A vow you should take," Ginny quipped.

"Only if you do," Hermione replied cheekily as they stepped in to the empty common room.

"Never!"

"Then neither will I." Hermione said with a cheeky grin before heading to her dorm.

Chapter Text

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It had been a week since Hermione and Draco had fallen asleep in the room of requirement for the night. Though they still turned up most evenings to study they hadn't stayed any later than 3am for fear of getting their friends on their backs again.

Just as Hermione knew she would, Ginny hadn't let up about the situation whenever they were alone. She wanted details, and details of details. Problem is she didn't seem satisfied with whatever Hermione had to say. It either wasn't fulfilling enough or simply she didn't believe what she was told. But seriously, how much detail can you give when all you do is study, talk, read and, as of recently, snack? It was pretty obvious that Ginny was thinking there was more going on than she was lead to believe though and Hermione was pleasantly surprised to find her friend didn't seem to mind if there had been, though she wasn't sure why she felt that way.

It was late October now and the weather much colder with it's arrival. Hermione was happier than she had been in longer than she could remember. She wasn't fighting death or incompetent professors, she wasn't saving her friends from the clutches of a psychotic megalomaniac intent on destroying all and sundry. She wasn't fighting death eaters or trolls. She was just being a normal seventeen year old girl, attending classes, doing homework and spending time with her friends. Although this year her group of 'friends' seemed to not include Ron so much as it did Draco Malfoy. She didn't care though, she was happy and if Ron was happy sucking faces with Lavender Brown then who was she to complain? They all deserved a bit of teenage normality and happiness in their lives after the last few years they had had.

It was with these thoughts swimming around Hermione's head that Ernie McMillan approached her in the entrance of the great hall just after dinner.

"Hey Hermione, do you have a minute?" He asked her nervously.

Hermione smiled at her friend. "Hey Ernie, of course, is everything okay?"

"Everything is fine I was just er...wondering if er...you wanted to maybe..you know...go to the Halloween dance with me next week?" He asked as he wrung his hands together anxiously.

"Oh." Hermione was pretty shocked, Ernie was a friend of course but they hadn't really hung out together much since the year before and were working with Dumbledore's Army, she imagined he just wanted to catch up and the idea was very welcome. "Sure Ernie, that would be nice. Shall I meet you outside the doors about seven?"

Hermione missed how his demeanour completely changed then, his shoulders slumped in relief. "Great. It's a date. See you next Saturday then." He said just before he left the hall and headed outside.

If Hermione had been paying attention at all she would have noticed Theodore Nott stood right behind Ernie and glaring at her with obvious distaste.

"New boyfriend, Granger?" Theo asked in a clearly disgusted voice.

"He's just a friend, not that's it's any of your business either way." She answered but couldn’t help wondering why it mattered either way.

"He doesn't think that," Theo pointed out with a cock of his head in the Hufflepuff’s direction

"Don't be so ridiculous" She said turning on her heels and heading towards the Gryffindor tower, it was Friday evening and classes had long since finished. The evening meal was still in attendance and she was hoping to spend some time with Harry before he had to go and captain the Quidditch team in yet another practice. She barely saw him these days outside of the classroom and even then most of the time he was partnered with Ron.
As she entered the common room she noticed it was empty save for Harry, without doubt her number one best friend in the world. Nothing could come between these two. When she got nearer she noticed he was looking at the map, something she knew he did now and then but never, usually, in the middle of the common room where anyone could walk in and see. It was still a bit of a secret weapon but then she supposed since he had the map in front of him he would actually see anyone before they even came through the door anyway.

"Harry," she called as she dropped her bag beside the couch where he was sat.

"Hey 'Mione," he said smiling brightly at her.

"What are you looking at?" It was a ridiculous question, she knew that. She knew what he was looking at, of course. But, within the what - the who? She guessed that was her real question. Though she mused she probably knew the answer to that, too.

"The map." He answered as if he had no idea what she was talking about. He probably didn’t though, she never called him Harry-Unobservant-Potter for nothing.

"Okay, I shall rephrase, who are you looking at?" He asked as she tried to refrain from rolling her eyes at him.

"Malfoy," he answered distractedly.

Hermione sighed. That's what she had been afraid of. "Why?"

"He's been acting really strange lately, the other night I was awake so thought I would just look at the map like I do and I opened it on the section of the dungeons. I didn't realise he wasn't there at first until I saw him walk into the common room. It was after three in the morning, where the hell could he have been until that time? Plus, he's not half as insulting as he usually is. Something just seems off."

"Well, that answers what you were doing a couple of nights ago, but I asked what you were doing now." Hermione was trying her best to remain as calm as she could, they needed to be more careful, lest Harry find out. At least he couldn't see them in the room of requirement, that was of some solace to her.

"I was just looking to see what he was doing now."

She rose an eyebrow at him, "at dinner time? What did you think he would be doing?"

"No idea," he admitted. "By the way I saw you talking to Ernie and then Nott, what was that about?"

"Oh, Ernie just asked me to go to Halloween dance with him and Theodore was just putting his nose in business that wasn't his."

"Typical Slytherin." Harry muttered darkly.

"Hmmm.” She relied in what she hoped he thought was agreement. “So what have you been up to Harry? I feel like I don't see you these days." She asked, eagar to change the subject.

"I feel like I need to cut myself into ten just to be able to do everything that’s expected of me. It's exhausting.” He moaned.

Hermione spent the next couple of hours catching up with Harry and then Ginny and the rest of their housemate's who came to join them though as usual Ron was absent. Just before curfew she once again excused herself and made her way down the now familiar path to the room of requirement. This time she had managed to change out of her uniform before she left, just in case she did fall asleep in there again, at least the whole school wouldn't be wondering why she was still in her uniform.

Draco didn't show up that night or the next or even the night after that and he barely looked her way any more when they were in the vicinity of each other and then his insults started to become venomous again. Hermione had come to the conclusion that she had done something wrong though she wasn't entirely sure what as the last encounter that they had was nothing but civil. In fact if anything, they had had fun. Maybe he was just bored of her now or maybe he had just realised how boring she was? She mused to herself. She really wasn't sure any more so when she went to the room of requirement a whole week later she was very surprised to find him sitting at the table already very deep into his work.

"Hey," she called out when she spotted him there. A knot deep in the pits of her stomach started to clench, she hadn’t realised he had been such a source of her concern this past week until then.

He didn't reply, instead he just looked up at her and nodded slightly to acknowledge her arrival and went right back to whatever work he was doing. Hermione wasn't sure what was wrong but she could feel something was still off, the knots in the stomach pulled tighter, so she just took her own work out and sat in the seat opposite from him and started with her own assignments. They sat in that uncomfortable silence for what felt all night though was probably no more than two hours before Draco stood to leave. Making it even more obvious something was weighing on his mind.

"Are you going?" She asked as he stood.

"I've done enough for tonight. I can't think straight." He offered in reply.

Hermione nodded her head slightly. "Have I done something to upset you?"

"You think you're special enough to have an effect on me? That's sweet." He said in what could only be classed as a sarcastic tone.

"You've barely spoken to me in a week, you've not been down here at all and you can't seem to look at me or even be around me for very long either. So yes, I've already figured something was up." She replied with a roll of her eyes.

"I'm fine Granger."

"Granger? Now I know something is wrong. We're supposed to be friends just tell me what it is that's bothering you so much. Please." She said standing in front of him and placing her hands on his shoulders.

"Get your filthy mudblood hands off me, Granger." Draco spat at the smaller witch.

To her credit Hermione didn’t even flinch. “I know you don't mean that." She said as she took a step closer to him, his scent filling her nostrils. She hadn’t realised she’d missed that.

"You don't know anything." He answered with a snarl.

"Whatever Draco. If you want to talk I'm here, if you want to insult me, fine, go ahead. I'm not going to retaliate just because you use that word. Sticks and stones."

"Sticks and stones?" He asked her curiously.

"It's a muggle saying. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." She said in a sing -song voice as she recalled the playground chant from her childhood.

"Words can hurt." Draco muttered.

"Yes. But not that one. Not to me and not from you."

"Why?" He half asked, half demanded.
"Because I know you don't believe it so it has no effect on me."

"No I meant why?"

"Why what?" She asked, not quite sure what it was he was asking.

"Why are you being so nice to me after everything I have done to you?"

"I'm a nice person? You were just a boy? I've seen the good in you? Take your pick."

Draco stood there mulling her words over and over in his head before he spoke again. He knew what was up with him, the reason he had tried so hard to ignore her and stay away from her this past week but no matter matter what he did, wherever he turned there she was. Behind every corner, in every class, right in front of him at meal times. It was harder than he thought it would be, trying to keep away, but admitting he wanted her was harder and he refused to accept opting to bury his head in the sand and pretend the past month had not happened. It was going so well, or so he had thought. Until Theo, his supposedly best friend, decided he needed to intervene. Apparently he was sick of the moping around of course he had been told Malfoy's do not mope, in Draco’s best Lucius impression but it had no effect and eventually Draco went to the room of requirement just to escape Theo. Now though he suspected that had been his friends plan all along.

"So, I hear you've got yourself a date." He said conversationally.

"Bloody Theo.” Hermione cursed. “It's not a date. Just two friends spending time together."

"At a dance.” Draco replied with a smirk. “Does he know that this is just two friends spending time together?”

"I think so?"

"Oh I think you’re being naive Hermione."

"Oh I'm Hermione again? We're just friends, Draco."

"You might want to tell him that princess because I can promise you he does not reciprocate those feelings."

"How do you know?" She replied crossing her arms over her chest.

"Are you really that oblivious that you don't notice the men fawning all over you?" He asked incredulously.

"Pffft hardly."

"Since the Yule ball-" He started.

"When I was fifteen!" She countered.

"And you turned up looking like a goddess on the arm of one of the most famous quidditch players in the world.”

"When I was fifteen and attended a ball with Viktor, looking just like any other girl except maybe my hair had been tamed slightly."

Draco barked a laugh. "Slightly? That's an understatement. And you really think it was just your hair that had all the boys looking at you that night?"

"They were not."

"You were just as oblivious then as you are now.” He sighed. “All the girls wanted to be you and all the boys wanted to be with you. Weasley ignored his date the entire night, he couldn't keep his eyes off you."

"If you say so." She answered with a shrug.

"And I'm man enough to be able to admit he wasn't the only one." Draco said as he loosened the tension in his shoulders.

"You were with Pansy."

"I'm surprised you even noticed. In theory, yes I was. Until you walked in and stole the show"

"Hardly." Hermione scoffed.

"Well after that my date was ignored just as Weasley’s was while I joined the majority of male population in being entranced by you. I think it was probably only Potter and Theo, maybe even Longbottom, who seemed to be able to keep their eyes off you."

Hermione just shook her head while he carried on talking.

"And since then boys have been falling over themselves to get close to you, McMillan being one of them. He definitely thinks it's a date, trust me."

"Okay say I believe you, why do you care so much? What's it to you who I do or do not date?" She asked. The knot in the pit of her stomach had unravelled to reveal butterflies and now she could feel her insides jittering.

Draco took the opportunity to close the gap between them and brushing her hair behind her ear he leaned down and whispered to her, "maybe it's everything to me."

Hermione shivered under his touch and his warm breath sent goosebumps through her entire. Knees weak, she struggled to retain enough composure to answer him.
"And why is that?" She whispered back to him.

Draco didn't answer, at least not in words anyway. For a moment she thought he wouldn't answer at all but when she pulled back and looked into those grey eyes she saw he was battling himself about what he should say, she'd never seen a look like that on any man before but she liked it. It made her feel weak and yet powerful all at once. Suddenly she realised he was closer to her than before and before she registered what was happening his lips were on hers for the briefest of touches, one hand had reached up and cupped her cheek and the other hand resting on her waist. It was almost as if he was scared of the rejection he was sure would come his way. But that kiss, chaste as it was, was the sweetest thing she'd ever witnessed and as brief as it had been it made her head fill with fog. She couldn't think clearly and she didn't want to.

"That's why," He said pulling back just enough to look into her eyes and try to decipher the emotions she was feeling. He was usually good at things like this but for some reason being around her always seemed to throw him off.
He wasn't sure what reply he was expecting to get, he dared not even hope for what wanted her to say but when she put her arms around his neck, drawing him closer and kissing him back was without doubt one of the happiest moments he'd lived through for a long time. A beautiful moment in the never ending sea of black that was war. A war that was their lives.
When he ran his tongue over her lips, waiting to gain access to taste her deeper he never expected her to reply so easily, like it wasn't even a decision at all. She let him in and they explored one another as much as they could before they both needed to come up for air.

"Sorry," She supplied, her cheeks very flushed, an enticing mixture of blush and embarrassment.

"Hermione, never be sorry for kissing me." Draco said as he took her hand and dragged them over to the couch.

"I thought you were leaving?" She asked.

"I was but then someone made me talk about what was on my mind and now I'm having fun kissing the beautiful witch in front of me."

"Ernie was on your mind? Why?"

"Because I don't share."

"You don't share?" She asked clearly very confused.

"No. And I especially am not sharing you Hermione. So you will have to tell him you have a boyfriend."

Hermione rose a brow at him. "You want me to lie to him?" She asked.

"No, I want you to tell him the truth."

"I don't have a boyfriend Draco"

"You do now," he said leaning in and kissing her once again "And like I said, I don't share."

"Do I get a say in this at all?" She asked with a stupid grin on her face.

"You pretty much answered when you flung yourself at me," he chuckled softly.

"You know, girls fling themselves and men plenty without it meaning they are suddenly in a relationship and besides, you started it."

"Not us and definitely not you."

"No, I guess not"

"Does this mean you're agreeing?"

"Thought you said I already had?"

"Maybe I just want to hear it?"

"Maybe you need to ask then."

"Fine. Hermione Granger, Princess of Gryffindor, best friend to my two biggest enemies, the golden girl, Miss know it all; will you be my secret girlfriend and in the process not be anyone else's girlfriend, secret or otherwise - including dates to the many dances Hogwarts has to offer with the many boys surely to ask you out?" He asked as he held her hands in his.

"Only if you, Draco Malfoy, biggest prat ever to roam this earth, lovely little ferret, heir of Slytherin and arch nemesis of the two boys I hold very dear to me, will be my secret boyfriend and in the process not be anyone else's boyfriend, secret or otherwise - including dates to the many dances of Hogwarts with the many girls sure to fall at your feet?"

"Of course, witch."

"Then I concur," she said just before he started kissing her again. "You know, if I tell Ernie I have a boyfriend, whom I cannot name, then it will get around the castle within minutes. I'll have Harry and Ron on my case about it. They will demand to know everything." Hermione mused when he finally left her lips alone.

"Make something up, someone who doesn't go here anymore, maybe you could tell them it was Krum?"

"Yeah because he's not in Witch Weekly and whatever Quidditch magazines there are out there, every week is he? Surely It's already reported who his girlfriend is?" She asked with a roll of her eyes.

"Right, just tell them it's a secret and that you wish to keep that part of your life separate?"

"And when they ask to meet him?"

"Tell them Weaslette already has and she thinks he's dashing, charming, sexy and perfect for their little 'Mione."

"She does not think that."

"Course she does."

"Sure, and what does Theo think of me?"

"He thinks you're nice, brave, loyal, stupid, crazy, an idiot and also thinks we're perfect for each other because, and I say this as a quote 'You're supposed to be keeping this a secret and all you can do is look at each other whenever you're in the same room together. Bloody made for each other the pair of you. Worst kept secret ever. Learn to be subtle. Or at least make your move on her because I'm sick of hearing about it and seeing it."

"He said that?"

"Amongst other things."

"Why am I stupid, crazy and an idiot?"

"But not nice, brave and loyal?"

"Gryffindor," she answered with a shrug.

"Tut tut he said you were those things for spending time with me or rather, for willingly spending extraordinary amounts of time with me as he put it"

"He needs a girlfriend."

"I think he's enjoying life being single. Plus he's too blunt and crude for most girls."

"I know the perfect girl."

"No. No way. No matchmaking. Not yet anyway."

"She's perfect for him." Hermione protested.

"I don't care."

"Spoil sport."

"You're the spoil sport. Interrupting a perfectly good kissing session so you can talk about my friend, kind of puts a damper on the mood." Draco pouted.

"Oh well then I'll just have to get my book out instead and leave you in your dampened mood, sweetheart." She said jokingly.

"Nice try Princess but you're not getting out of it that easily." Draco said as he leant forward and pinned her to the corner of the couch before kissing her a little more forcefully than any of the other kisses they had shared that night.

After a while they both took out their books and started to read. Happy that they were back to their comfortable silences and able to enjoy just being in the company of one another. Hermione lay with her head in Draco's lap whilst he played with her hair with one hand and kept hold of his book with the other. Eventually, like the Friday previously, they both fell asleep seemingly more comfortable in each others company than they realised.

oOoOoOo

"Hermione love, wake up." Draco called softly.

"Nooooooo."

"Come on. we fell asleep again it's morning."

"Again?"

"Apparently so, you'd think since this is the room of requirement it would pop up with a bed seeing as we keep falling asleep here." Draco said as he looked around the room without really thinking. Hermione just stared at him wondering whether he was actually hinting at sharing a bed. That certainly woke her up.
"No, Hermione, I didn't mean like that I just meant, for sleeping. Trust me I have no interest in rushing anything with you. I promise"

"You don't want to sleep with me?" She asked him hurt by his words even though she knew deep down she wasn't ready yet anyway.

"Not until you're ready. No. Trust me Hermione it's not you, I mean, it is you, it's both of us, I just want our first time to be more and I want you to be ready okay?"

"Yeah I understand that for a minute I thought-"

"Don't, you are one of the most beautiful witches I've ever met."

"Ah the ferret catches on quick on how to keep a girlfriend happy." She said with a smirk reminiscent of his own.

"Of course I catch on quick, I've been on the end of your anger before remember?" He said as he scratched his nose.

"Like I could forget." She smirked.

"Me either, you scarred me, every time I look in the mirror I have visions of your fist breaking my nose."

"And yet it looks much better than it did before." Hermione replied as she stood up to look at his nose.

"Oh you're such a minx you know that?"
Instead of replying Hermione stood on her tip toes and kissed the scar in question and smiled at him.

"Of course I know that. Did you never wonder how I managed to get through all those adventures? You think that was just because of Harry on Ron? Give me some credit Draco."

"All the credit you want." He murmured just before he kissed her.

"Are you going to tell Theo about us?"

"Yes. It will get him off my case. He says I've been moping too much though he knows me so well I'm sure he'd figure it out soon enough. Will you tell the Weaslette?"

"She already suspects something is going on too and you know her name is Ginny right? You can call her that, to me at least."

"Old habits,” Draco excused with a wave. “Won't she tell Potter? Shall we have a bet which one of them figures out first?"

"Ginny, and you're on. She promised not to."

"Pffft five Galleons says Theo within an hour of my company. It doesn't seem like a healthy relationship to have, keeping secrets from each other." He mused.

"Oh it's on. It's not her secret to tell." Hermione reasoned.

"Suppose so."

"He still won't see it that way though. I've put her in a bit of a compromising position."

"If I remember rightly she figured it out for herself."

"I should have denied it."

"And she'd have found out another way, Hermione. she turned up here last Saturday morning waiting outside the room for you."

"True, she probably would have borrowed the map from Harry and followed me." She sighed.

"She definitely would have followed you. She's a Gryffindor. So. when I win this bet..."

"You mean when I win it, I'll buy myself something nice and sparkly with your Galleons."

"Really? And here I thought you'd probably spend it on more books." Draco laughed.

"Oh really? And what would you spend it on?"

"Hmmm maybe a date?"

"You're proposing to fund a date with your girlfriends money? You're such a snake"

"You know when you say that it's just a compliment to me."

"It wasn't meant as one I assure you and I hate to burst your bubble my little snake but I don't think there will be any dates any time soon."

"And why not? Dumping me already?" He pouted.

"Secret girlfriend, remember? How do you propose a date when our relationship doesn't go beyond these walls?" Hermione waved are arms around the room to emphasis what she meant.

"I can work around that very easily. We can just date in these walls."

"Very romantic." She replied sarcastically.

"I sense the tone you’re using but I assure you I can make it as romantic as possible."

"Come on lets go before people start noticing our absences," Hermione replied dragging him to the door.

"Hermione, wait." Draco called.

"What's up?"

"Nothing, I just want to kiss you before we leave this room and have to go back to being pretend enemies again." He replied and did indeed proceed to kiss her before they opened the door and made their separate ways for the day.

Chapter Text

Hermione decided to forgo the Gryffindor common room and go straight to breakfast, realising that by the time she walked to the tower she would only have to come back down again and that would look rather suspicious to her house mates.
She was just making her way inside, noticing Draco walking to his own table when Ginny came up behind her, making her jump in surprise when she put her arms around her waist.

"Jumpy today aren't you? Have anything to do with spending the night with a certain secret boyfriend who shall not be named?"

"Gin.....How'd you know I spent the night with him?" Hermione asked her friend looking around to make sure nobody heard them.

"You're kidding right?" She asked as they sat down and started piling their plates with scrambled eggs and toast. "At least tell me you've gotten past cheek kissing"

"Why are you so interested?"

"I may have a bet with a hot Slytherin boy to see how long it takes the two of you. I'm fully expecting to win so to do that you need to kiss him before Sunday"

"Theo? Hot? Eww Gin!"

"What? A girl can keep her options open even if she isn't single, can't she? HOLY MOTHER OF MERLIN!" She shouted so loudly that most of the great hall occupants turned to face them, including those sat at the Slytherin table which of course included Draco and Theo.

Well, Hermione thought, if they hadn't been looking before they sure were now. "What the hell Ginny?" Hermione hissed at her friend.

"You didn't deny it" She replied ignoring the looks they were still getting from the rest the students. "Come, we need to talk. I want, no need, to know everything!" She said dragging Hermione back out the door without a thought to the onlookers still watching them.
Once the girls were both safely out of the way of prying ears, outside in the crisp autumn air Ginny threw up a muffliato and a notice-me-not charm so they wouldn't be seen or heard then turned her attentions back to her friend.

"I'm not even going ask how you got so good at those charms" Hermione said with a grimace clearly evident on her face.

"Harry insists"

"I said I didn't want to know! Come on Gin he's practically my brother! Now why the hell are we outside in the freezing cold and not eating a delicious breakfast in the warmth?"

"You know perfectly well why missus, stop playing games with me. When did it happen?"

"When did what happen?" Hermione tried to play the innocent, she really did. Had this been the boys she'd have probably got away with it but she knew Ginny would see right through her.

"Mione I swear either you tell me or I'm going to go and sit with the snakes and have a lovely little chat with the ferret you're so bloody fond of! Now tell me, when did he become you boyfriend?"

"What? Why would you-"

"Because you never denied it before when I said it and every other time you've denied it straight out and I know you were with him last night. At least tell me you kissed properly!"

"You Weasely's are so bloody insufferable you know? Fine, yes I was with him last night, yes he technically is my boyfriend now and yes we kissed, a few times actually"

"This kiss was it?-"

"Full on snogging"

"Wow. Tell me everything. Are you happy? Stupid question. Just tell"

 

After that the girls spent the rest of the day talking about anything and everything, mainly about boys, specifically their boyfriends and in typical Ginny fashion she was true to her word not letting Hermione stop until she was satisfied she knew every single thing she could. Then of course the conversation veered towards Harry and Ron and Lavender. Before long both girls had truly exhausted their gossip sources and decided to head in to dinner early since they had missed both meals for the day in exchange of just being able to be teenage girls for one afternoon.
As usual the owls arrived just before the meal began, Hermione, not expecting anything since the only people that would write to her were her parents, the Weasley's and her friends (who were all inside the castle) went about loading her plate full of her favourite foods just as a tawny owl she recognised as one of the school's owl's crashed on the table in front of her holding a letter wither a cursive 'H' on the front. Clearly intrigued she untied the burden from the owl and handed him some scraps of food before he flew off and she could read her letter.

 

'H
Nice show at breakfast, I didn't give Red enough credit but as it stands T figured it out the moment she started swearing to merlin all over the hall -- so that makes it a tie. We both win and with that in mind I'll fund the date from my own galleons. Meet me at our place at 8pm tonight. Don't be late and don't eat too much at dinner.
P.S. Tell Red, T is hiding from her, something about a bet? My guess is she won, he really doesn't like to lose.

D'

 

"Who's the letter from 'Mi?" Ginny asked through a mouthful of food.

"God you're just like Ron, here read it if you must" Hermione replied passing the letter over to her friend as Harry and Ron both approached the table.
As requested Hermione didn't each much of her meal, not that she'd have been able to even if she could anyway due to the butterflies she could feel in the pit of her stomach. She wasn't sure why she was so nervous at the prospect of being around Draco, she had spent the past few weeks spending more time in his presence than that of her own friends. But stil,l the nerves were there and she was very thankful that for once, Ron was not sucking faces with Lavender because there was just no way she could stomach that right now.

"Harry, the Halloween dance is next weekend"

"I know, what's your point?"

"My point is you're taking me"

"Gin you know I don't like-"

"Harry either you take me or I'll go with someone else, maybe Neville, he's a really good dancer you know. Or Seamus he's hot..."

"Fine, I'll go. Have it your way. You and Lavender going mate?" Harry said turning to Ron.

"Don't have a bloody choice do I? Bloody witches!"

"You still going with Ernie 'Mione?" Harry asked Hermione.

"Ernie? McMillan? Your going to the Halloween dance with him?"

"Well, Ronald, he asked me and I said yes, what's the issue?"

"Nothing I just thought he wasn't your type"

"We're just friends, seriously. And what do you mean he's not my type?" She asked him with raised eyebrows and a furrowed brow.

"I dunno, just not Ernie I guess and he's been trying to ask you out for about a year 'Mione he doesn't want to be just your friend"

"Why does everyone seem to think they know better? I'm sick of having this conversation. We're just friends."

"Course" Ron replied and turned to Harry again "So we got practice tonight ready for the Ravenclaw game tomorrow? First game of the season!"

After that Hermione tuned out the conversation and pulled a book out of her bag, for once she was happy to just be around her friends, even if they were talking about a stupidly dangerous sport. Her mind was a buzz with the conversation and her stomach was fluttering in nervous anticipation so even though she tried her damned hardest to focus on the book she had picked up (the next in line in the Magical World of the Forbidden series) she just kept reading the same line over and over again without even taking notice of it, so in the end decided she would head up to her dorm and get ready for her date. Ginny would be at practice so she couldn't help her tonight but the redhead still managed to pull her aside before they parted for the first time that day.

"Something casual but sexy 'Mi and do something with your hair! Go through my clothes if you have to. I won't wait up but I expect a full report tomorrow!"

Shaking her head Hermione walked off towards the Gryffindor common room her mind filled with thoughts of what she could possibly wear or do with her hair that would make it look semi-presentable.
When she finally arrived in her room she had decided to use a hair up charm Lavender had shown her the year before, she wasn't as skilled as the blonde was when it came to hair and make up charms but she still thought it look decent enough in her half up half down do' with her curls flowing down her back and a small hair piece clipped in the masses. For make up she decided to stay simple, she figured if Draco Malfoy wanted to be with her he wanted her for who she already was and they both knew that that did not involve a heavy face of make up so she applied a light coat of mascara and dabbed a bit of rouge on her lips hoping it would be enough. Her biggest problem was clothes, she really wasn't sure what to expect for the night but seeing as they were inevitably stuck in the castle either way she figured a shirt and jeans should be good enough with a pair of low heeled boots. The jeans were a present from her parents the year before and a very expensive pair that hugged her figure perfectly at every curve and the shirt was just a simple checked cotton shirt she'd found in her wardrobe. She pulled a simple black vest on first leaving her able to keep the buttons open. She felt very casual, maybe too casual but looking in the mirror she thought she still looked good. She'd never been on a date before and had no idea what she was doing but this was going to have to do. At 7.45pm she picked up her bag so others would think she was heading to the library and made her way down to the room of requirement as was her nightly ritual.

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"Fuck! Theo I don't know what I'm doing"

"Looks like you're being nervous before your first real date with a real witch"

"She's not just any witch though is she? The bloody golden girl, best friend of Harry fucking Potter. What the fuck am I doing? If Potter and the Weasel found out about this-"

"Who's going to tell them? Only four people know, you know I won't say anything you and Granger are not likely to say anything to ruin your perfect little romance-"

"It's not-"

"And Weaslette's not stupid, she might love those two idiots but she's not stupid. So what is it you're really worried about?"

"You think she will show up?"

"You're messing with me aren't you? She's been down in that room with you every night for weeks why would tonight be any different?"

"Because every other night there was no pressure to turn up"

"She'll be there, she's a bloody Gryffindor. You better get going if you want to set this up before she arrives"

"Thanks Theo, and thanks for the chocolates. I'll pay you back"

"Just don't be giving me any sordid details and we'll call it even"

Draco shook his head and, after looking over his reflection once more he headed down to the room of requirement early to set up the date he had planned for the evening. He had promised Hermione romance and he wasn't about to let her down yet. He walked outside the room three times and asked for the same they always asked for when they got their room 'our room' he thought as he asked for the room to remove the chairs and tables and not let anyone else but Hermione inside, on the off chance someone could get in. He really didn't want to be disturbed tonight.
Once inside he set to work charming the fire so that it actually let off heat rather than just enchanted flames, he charmed the ceiling to look like the night sky with thousands of small stars and made the rug in front of the fire much larger so that the two of them could sit there comfortably. After that was done he set about lighting as many candles as he could, there must have been at least 50 of them and then set their food down, still under a stasis charm, it was just a simple stew with fresh baked bread that he had got from the elves, the box of Honeydukes' finest chocolates Theo had given him stayed in his bag along with his surprise for Hermione. Lastly he pulled out the pink rose he had for her and waited for her to arrive.
It was 7.55pm and he was starting to get worried, he knew she wasn't late but his nerves were getting the better of him so he started to pace back and forth in front of the door way wishing her to walk.

 

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Hermione arrived at the room of requirement earlier than she intended, the walk usually took her nearly ten minutes but tonight she was there in five. She figured she was more excited for the date than she realised but didn't dare go inside. Instead she paced outside the door trying to calm herself, worrying about how her outfit looked, whether her hair looked okay and if her make up was too much. Until, eventually, she decided to find her Gryffindor courage and just go inside, the longer she stood there the more nervous she was going to be so she took her courage and asked for 'their room' pacing three more times until a door appeared and she bravely opened it.

Entering inside she saw Draco stood stock still looking very intense the look worried her for a moment but the second he saw her she noticed him visibly relax.

"Worried I wouldn't show up?" She teased him.

"Hardly. Worried maybe someone else could get through. I asked specifically for the room to only let you in but you never know"

"You can admit it you know, that you're nervous"

"I...okay I'm nervous. I've not exactly dated many girls before"

"How many?"

"What?"

"How many girls have you dated?"

"Well, none"

"None? Me either" She said clearly very shocked at his reply.

"I should hope not because if you preferred girls I would have liked to know by now"

"Okay smart arse, I've never dated anyone. That better?"

"Maybe"

"And I'm nervous as hell"

"What happened to Gryffindor courage?"

"Hey I'm here aren't I? Is that not courage enough?"

"Some lion you are" He replied fondly shaking his head and smiling at her. "Here this is for you" He said passing her the rose.

Hermione took the rose and brought it to her nose to smell the lovely floral scent of the flower before she placed in her hair so it would not get ruined. Later she would charm it into a bookmark so she could keep it with her all the time.

"It's beautiful, pink roses are for admiration and appreciation you know. And this room, wow!"

"I know what they're for. I know my flower's Hermione, I'm glad you like it. And the room, I did all the extra things myself, I wanted to use our room and wasn't sure if I asked the room to change what I wanted to change it would still be 'our room' so I just did it myself"

"It's beautiful"

"No, you're beautiful, the room is just a room"

Hermione stood there nervously blushing at his words looking around trying to wonder what he had planned for the night.

"Come on you must be hungry. I know you missed breakfast and lunch and then I stupidly told you to not eat until tonight. Sorry about that if I had known-"

"It's okay. I got sidetracked with Ginny. She wouldn't let me go until she knew everything and by the way that note; I say I won"

"And how do you figure that out? Theo realised the moment Red screamed to Merlin all over the great hall"

"Exactly! But she had to realise it before she started screaming it, therefore she knew before him and I win" She said smirking up at him.

"So if you figured out you won the bet then why are you here?"

"Curious?"

"Curious?"

"Maybe I was secretly hoping you'd win so I could get to see Draco Malfoy on a date" now smirking even more at him.

"Gryffindor's" Draco muttered before he bent down and kissed her lightly then lead her to where he had left their food. Pulling out a flask of hot chocolate he poured their drinks and they went on to eat their meal talking about their day and the homework they had for the week. When they finished their meal they found themselves leaning back against the couch next to each other, the conversation flowing just as easily as it had been every other night they had spent together.
Draco pulled out the huge box of chocolates and they began to share them. After a while Draco decided to play a game and pulled out his school tie from his bag to blindfold Hermione. Excited and curious she played along while he fed her chocolates and she had to guess the flavour, they both enjoyed the game very much. Hermione especially enjoyed it when she used the tie to blindfold him and have him become the taster.

"Your turn to guess the chocolates" She said putting the tie firmly around his eyes and sitting close to him. "Same rules, you just have the guess the chocolate" And with all her Gryffindor courage she bit into a Turkish Delight, swallowed, then kissed him hoping he would play along. Boy did he play along and in such a Slytherin way too, of course.

"I thought I was supposed to be tasting the chocolates?" He said after she first kissed him.

"You are"

"Oh god. Well in that case I need another taste, I was a little preoccupied before" And of course she obliged, taking another bite of the Turkish Delight before kissing him once again. After each test the kisses became more progressive, more tongue, more heat, more teeth, more kissing and definitely less tasting.

"I like this game" He said after correctly guessing three chocolates in a row.

"I can see that" She replied clearly hinting at the obvious erection that was very visible and taking a bite out of a chocolate covered caramel before giving him his final test.

Hermione bent to kiss him one last time, she knew he would smell her lips first and she knew he would know the answer right away, she'd chosen the caramel last for this reason. But she wanted him to carry on playing along and could tell he wanted it too. So she placed her lips on his and kissed him gently before he ran his tongue over her lower lip and she felt him smile against her mouth. He'd just give himself away and they both knew it. When she parted her lips to let him in he wasted no time in delving in tongue inside her mouth, caressing her tongue with his own and tasting more of that sweet caramel that was mixed with her own unique sweet taste, he carried on."Caramel" He murmured eventually, through what was essentially a very very thorough test and probably the most passionate kiss they'd had to date. She replied by biting on his lower lip knowing it would make him moan appreciatively, she'd only heard it once before but she so loved that sound.

The date was going so well that Draco almost forgot his surprise for Hermione until the topic of the Halloween ball was brought up.

"Look I know we can't go to the dance together, I would if we could though. Maybe we could meet up here instead? Anyway, I figured no date is complete without dancing right? So we're going to dance" He said pulling himself to stand and grabbing Hermione in the process.

"But there's no music Draco"

"There will be" He said as he walked over to his bag and pulled out what looked like a cross between a muggle radio and a wizarding radio at the same time.

"How did-?"

"I made it"

"You made that? And it works?" She asked almost not believing him.

"I'm not just a pretty face you know"

"But how does it work in the castle, I thought it repelled muggle technology?"

"It does but since its mixed with magic it's as if the castle doesn't notice it. Like the magic cancels out the muggle stuff? I'm not actually sure how it works but it does. I've got a couple of songs set up, let me just put it on"

And sure enough within seconds soft music was playing throughout the room. Draco turned to her, stretched his arm out and took her hand before leading her to a empty spot and dancing with her for the rest of their evening

 

Skipping beats, blushing cheeks, I am struggling
Daydreaming, bed scenes in the corner cafe
And then I'm left in bits, recovering tectonic trembling's
You get me every time

Why do you have to be so cute?
It's impossible to ignore you
Well, must you make me laugh so much?
It's bad enough we get along so well
Say goodnight and go

 

"Where did you get the songs?" Hermione finally asked after hearing the same mix on repeat.

"Why, don't you like them?"

"Actually some of them are my favourites, Imogen Heap especially"

"Well that I did know. Red helped me pick them out a few days ago. Secretly of course"

"Of course. You like her don't you? Even if she is a Weasley?"

"She's less irritable than her brothers I suppose and not bad on a broom either"

"Coming from you that's practically gushing"

"Getting jealous are we?"

"Don't be ridiculous!"

"Good because I'd never-"

"I know, well, at least I hope I know. Lets be honest neither of us really knows each other all that well yet"

"Even so I wouldn't do that"

"Neither would I, just so you know"

"Not even when the Weasel gets rid of whoever that is he's always sucking faces with?"

"Lavender, seriously we've shared all the same classes for six years how do you not know everyone's names?"

"She's unimportant and you never answered my question"

"What ques...Oh Ron? Me and Ron? You've got to be kidding! He's like my brother that's just...that's....ewww"

"Hermione the only reason he's all over that girl-"

"Lavender"

"Whatever. Is because he's trying to get a reaction from you. You should see the way he looks at you."

"Before today he hadn't spoken to me in weeks"

"Another tactic, I'm sure"

"Does it really matter? He's with Lavender, has been for a while, I'm with you. I'm here right now. Can't we just forget it?"

"Of course. Another dance?"

"I thought you'd never ask" She replied and moved back to where they had previously been dancing to enjoy the rest of their night.

They were not sure what it was that felt wrong about staying that night but something was just, different, so they both decided to head back to their dorms around midnight. It was risky, way past midnight yet something about staying the night after a date, though a very lovely and romantic date, just felt wrong, too fast, too soon and just wrong. So they decided to part ways and agreed to meet up after the quidditch game the next day to do their homework as usual.

"I had a really good time tonight. This date was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me before. Thank you"

"I had a really good time too and it wouldn't have been half as special had it not been for the company, so thank you" Draco replied kissing the back of her hand gently.

"Well, I guess I better get to the tower now, will I see you tomorrow?"

"Quidditch practice after breakfast so I'll be here after the Gryffindor vs Ravenclaw game, you know how I love to Potter lose the snitch"

"Boys and quidditch" She muttered.

"The best sport in the world. I'll meet you here afterwards"

"Great I'll see you then, bring your homework. Goodnight"

Chapter Text

Theo knew the Weasley's were relentless, they were very well known for their loud, brashy, stick-their-nose's-in-other-people's-business nature. But the daughter of the family was something else, she knew sass like no girl, no witch, he'd ever met before. She was bold, upfront and didn't care that people knew she was obviously trying to catch him in the halls. Him, Theodore Nott, son of one of the many death eaters who had attacked her and her friends only months before in the department of mysteries. And here she was acting like that was nothing, trying to corner him in the halls of Hogwarts as if being seen together was a normal occurrence. Slytherin's and Gryffindor's didn't mix. Weasley's and Slytherin's especially. What Draco was thinking dating Hermione Granger, best friend of Harry Potter he had no idea. That was even worse than talking to a Weasley in public.
He tried hiding from her when he realised she was after him and for a while it worked, playing chase like a cat after a mouse. He found it entertaining. But two weeks after the day he realised she won the bet she managed to corner him. If it wasn't for the distractingly beautiful blonde witch the redhead was with he was sure he'd have gotten away again but alas, those long legs of her's had him in a daydream and before he realised what was happening both witches were stood in front of him. He was sure he'd never seen the other witch before if he had he was certain he would have remembered because not only were her legs so fucking beautiful but her eyes were like nothing he'd ever seen before. They were the colour of the sky on the clearest summer day, so blue he was sure the sea was green with envy, he was lost to them. So lost he didn't even hear Weaslette rambling until she was shouting his name.

"Nott! Are you even listening or are you too busy eye fucking Luna?"

That had brought him to his senses, at least, partially, he was still perfectly aware that the most enticingly beautiful witch he'd ever laid eyes on was stood no more than a foot away from him and his cock was not going to let him forget that any time soon. All he could do was silently thank Merlin and Morgana and even the muggle Gods for wizarding robes, otherwise this could have been even more uncomfortable than it already was. And Merlin was it uncomfortable in his pants right now. So he paid the debt (he'd always fully intended to anyway but making a Weasley chase after him had been fun) as quickly as he could making small talk here and there trying so hard to get away from the witches as quickly as possible and for once the issue having nothing to do with the house colours they wore or the colour of their hair rather than the fact he needed to relieve the burdon aching in his pants.
Later he would remember the girls name was Luna and that she hadn't been a Gryffindor at all, something he was surprised to realise. She had been wearing blue robes that complimented her eyes so well, like the sea against the sky. She was a Ravenclaw, not as bad as a Gryffindor but at the end of the day he was always going to be the son of a death eater. She wouldn't look twice at him.
Oh but she had, he knew it wasn't just him staring down in that corridor, he knew she'd been looking back at him just as intense as he had been looking at her. A dreamy look on her face that wouldn't look out of place on an angel, yet for some reason he had a feeling that was the way she always looked. And her voice matched that look on her face so perfectly. It was as sweet as honey and somehow sounded melodious. Gods he was screwed.

"Goodbye Theodore" She had said to him without a care in the world. As if they had been old friends rather than rivals due to circumstance.

"Oh....er.....yeah goodbye...er.....-"

"Luna"

"Well then, Goodbye Luna, it was a er...pleasure to meet you. See you around Red"
He'd managed to get out before he turned and hurried to the nearest bathroom he could find, hoping it would serve well enough until he could get a cold shower. Oh Merlin was it a pleasure to meet her.

 

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It had been over a month since the night Draco and Hermione had had their first official date together and they still spent most evenings in their room doing homework, getting to know each other, 'dating' (which Draco had insisted they do every fortnight) or just being in each others company. Being together, although still so new felt so right. It was the middle of December now and they had been spending most nights together since back in September although neither had fallen asleep in the room of requirement since before their first date. It still felt like a step too far, too intimate, too much pressure and too risky but yet walking the halls at three in the morning every day knowing they could each get caught at any moment felt like the better option.
Until, that is, the night they both got caught, by Professor Snape no less. They were each at opposite sides of the castle at the time Snape caught Draco walking towards the stone wall that blocked the entrance to the dungeons. He'd very obviously been waiting for him to arrive knowing he'd been out of bed. What he hadn't expected was to be alerted by Filch that another student was also roaming the halls at the same time. That student being none other than Hermione Granger. What the two were doing out of bed so late at night he didn't know, neither had a plausible excuse when he demanded answers from them but he somehow had a feeling they had been together, despite the act he could see them putting on. He'd put them both in detention every Sunday until the Christmas holidays came around and they had both counted themselves lucky that at this point there were only two Sundays left until the Hogwarts Express returned the majority of children to their homes for the holiday.

What Hermione found the hardest about the situation was explaining to her friends why she couldn't spend Sunday with them for their regular day of Wizards Chess, Exploding Snap, Spying on Draco and whatever else they usually got up to. She just couldn't come up with anything decent enough to tell them why she had been roaming the castle at three in the morning so she tried telling them she was trying to lull herself to sleep by walking around aimlessly. Of course they didn't believe her, they now knew she had a boyfriend after she had had to let Ernie down easily, who, she came to realise, did not just want to be friends. She'd known he wouldn't keep his mouth shut about it for long, if at all so she was expecting Harry and Ron to give her the full degree. She hadn't been wrong.

"'Mione, I just saw Terry Boot and he says you told Ernie at the dance that you have a boyfriend" Harry had mentioned as he approached her in their common room.

"Yes, that's right"

"What's right?"

"That I told Ernie I have a boyfriend"

"Oh so you just said that to let him down gently. That's a good one 'Mione" Ron added

"For your information Ronald, I told Ernie I have a boyfriend because I do have a boyfriend actually"

"What do you mean you have a boyfriend, who could you possibly be going out with? We'd have noticed! You don't have to lie to us 'Mione we will back you up"

"Who I am dating has absolutely nothing to do with you! Have I ever told you who to date? Or what I think of you and Lavender sucking faces all over the great hall whilst the rest of us are trying to eat? No, Ron, I haven't. Because it's your business not mine. I have a boyfriend who I would like to remain a secret because to be quite frank I would like some part of my life to not be subjected to gossip mongers and 'friends' who think they know better. And if you still don't believe me ask Ginny, she knows all about him, she's met him" She said as she stood from her chair, shaking in anger and storming to her dorm where she stayed for the rest of the night.

At least telling them about her detention hadn't been as bad as that, they had thought she was lying at first, thinking she was spending her time with her 'secret boyfriend' who Ron still refused to admit was actually real. That is, until they found out Draco was sharing her detention for the same thing.

"Why are you and Malfoy in detention together?" Harry had asked as he walked her to Snape's classroom.

"Because he was caught-"

"Mr Potter unless you want to admit to being out of bounds on Thursday morning like Miss Granger and Mr Malfoy here were then I suggest you remove yourself from my classroom before I add you to the detention list"
Snape had drawled at him in his usual arrogant self. Hermione could see that the words had not gotten past Harry and later when she returned to the common room he was waiting for her with the map in her hand and she silently thanked Merlin that she'd told Draco she needed to see her friends rather than spend the night with him.

"Why was Malfoy in detention with you?"

"Were you watching me on the map?"

"I was watching both of you!"

"Why?"

"Why was he in detention with you Hermione?"

"You heard Snape, he was caught out of bed the same night as me"

"No, he was caught out of bed the same morning as you. That was at 3am. Had he been caught any later he would have let it slide. Besides, Malfoy's the professors pet, he'd have let it slide anyway if he was on his own."

"Spit it out Harry"

"Were you with him when you got caught?"

"No" She replied shocked at how easily it was to lie to her best friend, though, technically it wasn't a lie. She hadn't been with him at that moment. They'd separated not five minutes earlier before both of them were caught. It was a lie of omission but it was essential and she hated herself for it.
Harry didn't seem convinced with her response and Hermione vowed to be more careful in future, she'd have to tell Draco about the map so he knew too. She just hoped that with him going home for Christmas Harry would relax and forget about it before school started again in January.

It was the morning before the students would leave for Christmas and Hermione received an owl at breakfast, seeing the now familiar tawny school owl drop beside her and hoot happily, waiting for some bacon scraps cheered Hermione up. This would likely be the last owl Draco sent her before he went home for the next two weeks. She wanted desperately to open it up but with Harry and Ron sat beside her watching intently, as they had been for the past two weeks - since Ron found out she had a boyfriend and Harry had been asking her questions about Draco - she knew she couldn't. She had figured Harry hadn't told Ron about their conversation or his suspicions because his demeanour, though not overwhelming had changed around her but not around Draco. She figured if Ron even suspected Draco was her boyfriend he'd have blown up long ago. So she fed the owl some scraps of bacon and pocketed the letter to read in privacy later.

"Not going to read that?" Harry had asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Not until later, it's not important" She replied trying to sound as nonchalant as possible. Part of her was itching to tell him the truth but she knew she couldn't risk it, she was grateful that Ginny had been true to her word thus far, though she never suspected otherwise, it still didn't sit right that she was having her friend lie to her boyfriend because of her though Ginny did insist it was not her secret to tell and that did make the burden easier to deal with.

"Boyfriend?" He asked, trying his luck. Again.

"Might be, does it matter?"

"Guess not. You ever going to tell us who it is?"

"Not any time soon no. If it gets serious maybe. What's the point until then? Anyway what makes you think you would know who it was?"

"That's a school owl" He said pointing to the owl still sat beside Hermione.

"Doesn't mean-"

"Means he's in this school so we probably know him"

"Ever the detective aren't you Harry?" She said laughing lightly hoping it would diffuse his attention somewhat.

"Well, 'Mione, where would we be if I wasn't?" She was thankful he left it at that. For now. She knew he'd try again in a few days. She needed Draco to stop sending owls so often but so far it had been the only way they could communicate outside of class.

She hadn't seen much of Draco since they received their detentions. Unable to explain about the map she just told him that Harry was being unusually suspicious and she was worried he would follow her so they stayed away from each other. It was killing her. Especially since he was leaving the next day for home where she knew he really didn't want to be.

As she was pondering the owl issue she came up with an idea and headed back to her dorm before their last detention with Snape. Once there she found a couple of old rope necklaces in her trunk and a bunch of coins they had used for D.A members. She had just enough time to charm them to her desire, adding a hole so she could slip them through the rope. She wanted the coins to only be used by her or him, unless of course the password was used, they would be able to send messages to each other via them. Neither would interact with the other D.A coins, that had been the first thing she made sure of. After that she put a timer on the messages and made sure the coins would heat up until they were able to read the messages sent. Lastly she carved his initials on one coin and hers on the other, adding 'Property of' at the top. She briefly wondered if it was too much but in the end deciding she didn't have time to change things. She picked up his other present and headed down to the Potions room.

On her way down to the dungeons she remembered the letter from the owl earlier and pulled it out to read.

'H,

I know I shouldn't be writing so much but I really need to see you before I leave tomorrow and I don't mean by spending the day in detetntion cleaning out cauldrons and jars of pickled whatever the fuck he has in those things!
I know Potter has some fancy way of knowing if we're together or not, which, I must add, you have yet to explain to me properly and I fully intend to find out how he's doing it - but, like I said I need to see you. So, since Potter will be following you after detention - again! I propse we make detention a little longer, after Snape has left the classroom please stay so I can give you your Christmas gift and say a real goodbye.
The nights have been lonely without you and that's not because I have to listen to T going on about Loony Lovegood for hours on end. About how amazing her hair is, the exact shade of her eyes or her legs, something about her legs. I wasn't really paying attention. Merlin, he's driving me crazy. He's in full schoolboy crush mode and it's just getting worse. Help me?

Missing you,

D.M

 

She arrived at their detention five minutes early, wanting to get it over with and hoping to be able to talk to him first. Harry, thank Merlin, had gone playing a three on three game of quidditch at Ginny's insistence. Hermione wondered if her friend had arranged that on purpose to give her a chance to say goodbye for the holidays, she was sneaky like that.

"Hey beautiful" Her heart rate quickened as she heard the very distinct voice of her handsome boyfriend up ahead. He'd gotten here early too. A quick look around and she saw she was alone. "No Potter or Weasley escort today?"

"If I had you'd have just given the game away" She said pointedly.

"I knew you were alone" He replied bending down and lightly brushing his lips against hers.

"I got your letter, signing off with D.M really is not very clever of you is it?"

"I didn't know what else to put"

"I'm sure I'd have known who it was from regardless"

"Well, you never know, there's a little rumour going around school that you dumped some poor Hufflepuff at the Halloween dance because you have a secret boyfriend. Of course, many people believe that to be a tactic to let him down gently but me? I know you're loyal to a fault Miss Granger so I've decided to believe that rumour. Now, if I didn't sign off D.M, you might get our letters mixed up, don't you think?"

"Draco Malfoy you are an idiot" She said shaking her head in amused exasperation before kissing him and heading into their potions classroom to spend the next few hours.

As she they knew it would be detention was a quiet kind of hell, spending the last Sunday before Christmas in the company of Professor Snape wouldn't have been so bad if she could have at least be able to share the burden with her boyfriend, secret or not. But they had appearances to keep up and Draco, refusing to insult her without her friends around to make a show of things, made sure they didn't speak a word to one another though neither could take their eyes off one another for very long.

Professor Snape watched them when they weren't looking, noting how they moved around one another so easily as if all their movements had been orchestrated, watching them glance at one another when they thought he wasn't looking. If he hadn't been sure the night he caught them out of bed he was certain now.
Something was going on between the witch and the wizard in front of him and it wasn't school yard bullying, not any more. He thought he'd be repulsed at the idea of Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger together but he wasn't, they were just teenagers. He wondered if anyone else had figured out their secret, certainly he knew her friends didn't, at least the two idiots she was determined to carry through life, and he had heard the rumour she had a boyfriend. In fact the best part of the whole thing was what he imagined Lucius and Narcissa would say to their precious son, heir to house Malfoy and last scion of his name, dating a mudblood. Christmas just got better for him.
He decided to play with them, having them do cleaning activities that required they work together. A two person job he had said. The huge cauldrons he had given them didn't even need cleaning and he knew that fact would not escape either of them but it was worth it watching them squirm. In the end, when he knew they would not play his games he ended their detention early figuring they would want some time alone. He'd known Draco had been in his dorm every night since he caught them out of bounds so he figured they can't have seen each other much, if at all. It was Christmas and he was feeling a bit of cheer.

"Well if that last cauldron is clean I think we can leave this for today. I trust you have both learnt your lesson"

"Yes, Professor" They replied in unison. "Not to get caught out of bed after curfew" Draco added, making it very clear he meant caught rather than being out full stop.

Snape, not missing what the boy had said decided to ignore the comment and left the room pinching the bridge of his nose as if to stop a headache coming on.

"Was that really necessary?" Hermione asked turning to her boyfriend.

"Yes it was. He knows Hermione"

"What do you mean he knows? Knows what?"

"About us. All that just now? That detention he just put us through? Working together, together Hermione! I've had many detentions with that man and most of them with Potter and Weasley, he never puts people together. He knows. I figured he knew something was up after he caught us both last week anyway"

"Just great" She moaned "Ginny, Theo, Professor Snape, Harry-"

"What? Potter knows?" He asked panicking and looking around to make sure he wasn't in earshot. When he realised they were still alone he threw a muffliato at the door and locked it with wards so no one could come in unannounced.

"Well no he doesn't know exactly, but he's very suspicious. He's not told Ron but I'm certain he thinks something is going on with us"

"Why?"

"When Professor Snape mentioned why you were in detention with me he put the pieces together and decided we were together that night"

"We were together that night"

"Yeah well I tried lying, by omission but a lie nonetheless. I don't think he believed me"

"Wow! Hermione Granger loyal to a fault, brave Gryffindor, lying to her friends. Whatever happened to you?"

"I got into bed with a snake" She replied before she could realise what she was saying. Her face turning red in a mixture of mortification and embarrassment.

"You did? Well it wasn't me because I'm sure I'd have remembered something like that" He said with a smirk.

"It was a figure of speech Draco don't be a prat"

"Thats what I am though, remember?"

"How could I forget?" She asked, relieved to be away from the embarrassing moment that had just passed between them. "I have a present for you, well technically I have two but the second one is not really a gift and more of a new means of communication" She said suddenly going over very shy and nervous.
She reached into her bag and pulled out the real gift first and handed it to him. It was wrapped in regular red Christmas paper that had father Christmases and presents over it and finished with a green bow.
He took it and smiled at her and handed over her own at the same time, both presents identical shapes, thick and rectangular. Both were books for sure. Hermione looked down at hers noticing that instead of paper it was wrapped in what appeared to be a silk scarf. A very beautiful silk scarf that was also extortionatly expensive. She recognised immediately that it was acromantula silk as she let her fingers drift over the material that was as supple as if it were water flowing between her fingers. It was pure emerald green, obviously, it was from the Prince of Slytherin why would he chose another colour?

"Green?" She asked.

He just shrugged as if the colour meant nothing. "You don't wear enough green. I'd like to see you in it more" he replied. "Are you going to open it because there's another gift inside it you know"

"Don't you want me to wait until Christmas?"

"I'm an impatient man, I want to see your face when you open it"

"Liar you just want to open your own present"

"Well I won't pretend that wasn't also part of the plan"

"Just open it Draco" She said and watched as he pulled away the green ribbon without a moments hesitation and removed the paper carefully as not to damage the gift that he knew perfectly well was a book. She watched as he read the cover, a look of confusion spread across his face only made her more eager.

"This is...Hermione, you know I have this book I've told you before I've read the whole series"

"Open it"

"What?"

"Just open it"

And he did. She watched as he opened to the front page, watched his eyes dart backward and forward as he read each line. Watched his confusion fall away and see it replaced with, what was that? Amusement? Happiness? Awe? She wasn't totally sure. Then she noticed him look at the inside of the cover, where she'd gotten the writer to leave him a personal message, something that she'd added to herself. That emotion she could read easily, he was shocked.

"Her....Hermione this...this is a first edition book. Signed by the author to me, this is...this" He trailed off unable, for once, to find his words.

"As you'll notice I did kind of spoil it by adding my own message" She pointed out.

"That just makes it even more special, Love" He'd said, still staring at the book in his hands. "Open yours, it's not as special as this but open it anyway"

And so she did. Carefully untying the scarf so as not to get it caught, feeling the beautiful fabric between her fingers properly for the first time but forcing herself to put it down and focus on the book. "Ancient book of Healing Spells and Potions" she said as she read the title aloud and opened the book almost immediately to find it covered, page to page, top to bottom with spells, potions and notes from previous owners which must have dated back to the 16th century.

"Wow Draco this is amazing. Where did you get it?"

"It's been in my family for years I thought it was time it was given to someone who would make use of it" He replied as if her holding a piece of Malfoy family history was nothing.

"Draco I can't accept this, this is a family heirloom. It's...it's amazing and I'm grateful, you wouldn't believe how grateful I am but it's a part of your history. I can't-"

"Hermione, when you read that book you will notice no one has written in it in over a hundred years, my parents, I'm sure don't even know of it's existence, and it's not getting any use sat in the library at the Manor. Please take it. I know you want to be a healer and it would make me very happy if you would accept this and do some good with the Malfoy name"

"Manipulative bastard" She mumbled as she thumbed through the pages.

"I knew that would win you over but I meant it too" He said smirking at her, eyes twinkling.

"Oh I almost forgot, I have something else for you?"

"What? Hermione this is enough"

"It's not technically a present and nothing fancy just something so we can keep in touch" She said shoving her hand in her pocket and pulling out the rope necklaces and coins. "Here" She said handing one to him. "It's a charmed coin so we can send messages to each other without the hassle of owls and people getting suspicious. I have one too that matches" She said showing him the matching one. "They have passwords on them that will stop anyone else using them, we can use each others too. The message fades sixty seconds after it has popped up and the coin heats up when a message is sent. I also put our initials on each one" She said as he stared down at her in wonder.

"How did you think of this?"

"We used similar coins for the D.A last year, I just took the idea and modified it"

"Let me guess the first time the coins were brought up it was your idea?" He asked.

"How did-"

"You don't expect me to believe Potter or Weasley could come up with a plan as genius as that do you?" He said chuckling.

"Well I just-"

"Hermione I was joking. Well I was honest but you know.... So what's the password to these things?"

"I've not set it yet. Figured we'd do it now, together. Any ideas?"

She could see him thinking long and hard before he finally said "Would it be better if it were a sentence?"

"I suppose so, harder for anyone to guess at least. What are you thinking?"

"Say goodnight and go?"

"Like the song?"

"It holds a special memory of the first time I danced with you" He said. She smiled at him and set about fixing the passwords to their charmed necklaces before handing the one saying 'Property of D.M' on it to him. He took it and in one quick move had her hair pulled to the side and was fastening it around her neck.

"Draco this one is yours" She said confused at his actions since she knew he'd known it was his one.

"It says property of Draco Malfoy, that means it's your's I'll have this one" He said taking the other out of her hand pulling it over his head.

"I'm your property now?"

"You've been mine since you decided to be my girlfriend, a necklace doesn't change that but I'd still like to see that coin around your pretty little neck every day knowing it say you're mine"

"I don't know whether to think that's romantic or possessive"

"Go with romantic" He said bending down and kissing her properly for the first time in nearly two weeks. It wasn't chaste like the few they'd managed between now and then, it was full on heated passion, tongues and teeth and leaving one another breathless. They stayed like that for a good fifteen minutes until they heard familiar voices talking outside the door.

"Harry she's in detention and besides she can look after herself you know" She heard Ginny say in a volume that was a tad louder than needed for the halls but that Hermione knew as a warning.

"Ginny I know something's going on I'm not stupid and I'm going to find out. You think it's coincidence that Hermione and Malfoy were both out at the same time at a stupid time nonetheless on the same night and were caught, landing themselves in detention together?"

"It's Snape you know how he loves to give Gryffindor's detention Harry"

"The doors locked and Snape's not even in there I looked at the map" They heard him say at the same time they heard the noise of him trying to get through the wards they'd set up.

Draco sighed "Well, the cavalry's arrived" he said, clearly put out that the idiots outside the door had just interrupted a perfectly amazing snogging session.

"I told you he's suspicious. I suppose I better go. I'll miss you. When will you be back?"

"Day before term starts, I'll miss you too now go before the idiot starts thinking I'm holding you here against your will and when I get back I want a full explanation of this map I keep hearing about"

"I promise I'll tell you when we get time together. Just have a nice Christmas and try to enjoy yourself" She said kissing him one last time before she picked up her things and walked to the door, deactivating the wards and stepping outside in the corridor to find Harry and Ginny waiting for her.

"Hello Harry, Ginny" She said brightly.

"Hey 'Mione, that your last detention?" Ginny asked.

"Yeah all done now. Everything okay Harry?"

"Why were you in there alone with Malfoy?" He asked as he saw Draco walk out the door and head down the opposite end of the corridor.

"Professor Snape is apparently not a babysitter or something to that effect" She said as she started walking towards their common room. "How was the game? Tell me you beat Ron's team" She asked hoping it would divert Harry's attention. And it did, temporarily.

Chapter Text

Draco really hadn't wanted to go home for Christmas and had tried to tell his parents that he was staying behind, but of course it hadn't worked and he'd been left with the threat of them turning up at Hogwarts and dragging him home forcefully if they had to. Well that's what his father had written and Draco wasn't stupid enough to think he was bluffing. He would turn up if he had to so he just resigned himself to his fate. Hoping against hope that he could evade his fathers wishes to be presented to the Dark Lord. He hadn't been lying when he'd told Hermione his father was determined to drag him in front of his master and have his unblemished skin marked in such a way he would never be able to come back from.
For the days leading up to leaving the sanctuary of the castle he was on edge, he really wasn't sure he could fight off his fathers wishes much longer and he really was trying but his father, a failure in the eyes of his master, because of the incident months prior in the Department of Mysteries, was determined to get back in the good graces of his dear Lord. Even if the sacrifice he had to make was his son's life.

So he went home, playing the part of the obedient pureblood son to one of the most influential names in wizarding Britain, honing in his acting skills that he'd been perfecting since he could walk and talk. Since the day he had witnessed his father beat his mother with a belt for taking the side of her toddler son because he'd accidentally knocked over blackcurrant flavour bubble juice on their very expensive white carpets. It wasn't like it couldn't be remedied, the elves had seen to that the second it happened, but Lucius, still angry over the loss of his master at the hand of the Potter boy the year before, had acted as if Draco had slaughtered an entire cattle on their carpets rather than spill a bit of purple juice (that would and did come out). Upon his wife taking the side of their son, Lucius had become incensed and taken his rage out on her, in front of the child. They both took that as a warning and from that moment on Narcissa sided with her husband in matters that she couldn't hide from him, though when her husband was not around she doted upon her only child like any loving mother would. She really did adore him, she was just unfortunate that the man she was married to happened to be attracted to the dark arts and was abusive to his family.

He was ever thankful that the place he called 'home' was so huge that he could easily avoid his parents for the first five days of the holidays. Instead he kept himself to his quarters or the huge library they had on hand, using homework as an excuse. It's not like he didn't have homework to do but he didn't have as much as would be able to occupy him for the whole two weeks. Regardless, he ploughed through and when he had finished all his assignments he pulled out the book Hermione had given him less than a week prior. Pulling it out of his bag he brought the book to his nose and breathed in it's scent. It still smelt like a dusty book that had been kept in a library for a while but at the same time he could smell the perfume he knew his girlfriend often wore. Opening the page to read her message to him he breathed in again to realise she had sprayed her words with the sweet scents of vanilla, honey and lavender that always seemed to follow her around. Letting the scents engulf him, Draco let his mind wander back to Hogwarts, back to their room, to the many dates they'd had. Particularly the first date, back to the many nights he'd spent with the witch, his witch, just sat in front of the fire and talking about nonsense. Oh how he missed her, he felt like they'd not seen each other properly in so long. Damn that Potter and Weasley for messing with his plans!
Draco was so lost in thought he didn't notice a burning sensation upon his chest until it felt like it was about to scold him "Fuck!" he shouted before looking around quickly to make sure he was still alone. When he was sufficiently satisfied he pulled out the coin from around his neck, whispered the password and waited to see the message inscribed in the edges.

'Merry Christmas handsome, missing you X'

He smiled reading it and remembering back to the morning after he had been given it and was trying to work out how to send the messages. It had taken him actually trying to use it to realise that she hadn't gotten around to telling him. Eventually, after trying at least six other ways he whispered the words and watched them appear on the edges of his coin before he would whisper the password again and feel a small vibration that he assumed meant the message had been sent. He was right, another message came back to him not two minutes later and from there on they had been keeping in regular touch. Though it wasn't enough, there was only so much you could say via charmed coins after all.
Looking up at the big antique grandfather clock in the library he was still in he realised it had just gone midnight, it must have been Christmas Eve then he thought, noticing that the days had all just rolled in to one but thankful that the sooner Christmas was over with the sooner he would get back to the Castle. Draco turned back to his coin and sent his own message back before heading back to his quarters intent on sleeping for as long as possible.

'Missing you too Love, Merry Christmas. Can't wait to see you X'

Walking towards the bedroom in his quarters Draco noticed at once that the door was ajar when he knew he had closed it as he always did. He could also sense someone behind the door, imagining it was his mother coming to say goodnight as she sometimes did he opened it fully and walked in to find his father sitting at his desk and snooping through his things. Draco was thankful that he'd taken the book Hermione had given him with him, her message, although didn't implicate her specifically, would have had his father on his case and he really didn't need that right now.

"Father" He said with a small nod to the man sat in front of him "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"Can a father not seek out his son in his own home when he misses him? Especially given he has not seen him properly since the summer" Lucius replied curtly.

"I have been home for five days father, you could have 'seeked me out' at any point, you knew where I was. Made sure of it actually if I remember correctly."

"You watch your mouth boy! If I say you come home for the holidays you come home and thats the last I'll hear about it." Lucius said in a stern and threatening voice that Draco knew too well not to provoke further.

"Of course Father, I simply meant you could have come to see me sooner but I understand you have been busy"

"I have been busy son and that is the reason I am here now. The Dark Lord has invited you to the table tonight. You will meet us in the drawing room at 1am. Dress appropriately and keep the family name in mind when you meet him."

"The...but father I'm sixteen I hardly think that....I'm still in school. How can I be-"

"You WILL honour the Malfoy name in taking the mark from our master. He is offering to admit you to his close, trusted circle of friends. You will not disrespect me or him by denying it. Now get yourself cleaned up. I expect you to look your best when I present you to our Lord."

Draco felt sick, he knew his fathers word choice when he said 'friends' in relation to that man was absurd, he didn't have friends he had servants, followers, animals. Death Eaters. He had Death Eaters and tonight he'd have one more. With or without his consent Draco Malfoy was going to be marked tonight and he knew it.
Running to the bathroom adjourning his bedroom Draco managed to reach the toilet just has he started to vomit. His whole body shaking, sweat beading on his head and his stomach now empty from having his head stuck down the toilet for the past ten minutes - Draco felt something shift in his body as he undressed and found himself under the running water of the shower. He tried, damned it he tried so hard in those precious minutes to work out a plan to get out of this but there just was no way. His house was currently filling with death eaters and the darkest wizard of all time and his family would never help. His father was practically gift wrapping him to his master and his aunt Bellatrix was just as crazy as the man she'd devoted her life to (who was not her husband, though Draco found the relationship between his aunt and her husband the most bizarre one). So, a house full of death eaters, a family set on turning him to their side with no choice of his own and the Dark Lord in question waiting for him, Draco knew he had no out.
It wasn't like he wanted to be the good guy, he wasn't Potter, that much he did know. But he knew what these people were doing was wrong and evil, he wanted no part in any of this war and would gladly sit it out and let the others deal with it if he could. Silently praying Potter would kill the bastard sooner rather than later. And then there was his sweet innocent girlfriend who was a target just for being best friends with the Chosen One and even if she hadn't she'd have been a target because of her birth status. He was going to be pitted against her now more than ever. He couldn't drag her into this. He was going to have to end things with her.

He entered the drawing room at exactly 1am, not missing the poetic nature of the man taking the seat at the centre of the large dinning table, marking the youngest ever death eater on Christmas Day. Younger even than Regulus Black, he had realised as he'd walked down corridor after corridor.

Draco sat down in the empty seat next to his father as he'd known he should and held his head high, mask firmly in place. He sneaked a glance as his mother who was sat between Greyback and Dolohov, odd he thought. She should be next to father. Looking closely at her he saw she was struggling to hold herself together, her usual mask that he knew she wore in public, was slipping, she was trying desperately not to let him or anyone else at the table see her as weak and most wouldn't. But most people (if you can call them that?) at the table did not know Narcissa Malfoy like he did. She was where he had learnt how to wear his own mask after all. He realised then, if the woman who'd taught him everything there was to know at hiding feelings, even in the face of danger, was having a hard time of it, then something really was off.

It didn't take long to figure out what it was and why she wasn't sat next to his father. It became obvious to Draco almost immediately that his mother was the bargaining tool that Voldemort was using to gain his alliance. It was implied, lightly and then heavily, by the Dark Lord and the death eaters alike, that his mother would be subjected to torture for his 'enjoyment' until he bent to their will. Watching the two men sit beside her and his aunt from across the table, he didn't even need to imagine what they had in store for her. He'd grown up with many of these people, went to school with their children he thought, noticing the fathers of Theo, Crabbe, Goyle, Daphne and Pansy including many others, sat around the table. He knew perfectly well what they were capable of and worse of all he knew they would enjoy their torture. Even his aunt. In fact he thought she'd enjoy it the most.
Had he had a choice at all he'd have still taken the mark willingly to save his mother but he knew he really didn't have that luxury. He even wondered why Voldemort made a big song and dance about it because he was sure the man (if he could be called that anymore?) knew that Draco knew he had no out. He was stuck there in that drawing room in his own gods dammed house letting some fucking lunatic mark him as his prey and acting like he'd just bestowed the world at his feet.

If Draco felt sick before he even entered the room it was nothing to what he felt being marked. He genuinely felt like he would have preferred a quick avada. Letting the mark seep through every single layer of skin he didn't even know he had was excruciating. He threw up more. Apparently they all did someone had said to him, he was in too much pain to even notice who it was. He felt like there should have been a huge puddle of blood around him but all he could see was the black snake and skull. He was vaguely aware his mother was on her knees in front of him, not caring that she was sobbing in front of a room full of death eaters. Heard his aunt say "Pull yourself together Cissy you should be proud to have your son serve our Lord. If I had a son I'd have gifted him to the Dark Lord long before sixteen" Draco couldn't help thinking that had Bellatrix had a child it wouldn't have last a day in this world with and her husband (or her Master as seemed to be her preference) as parents.

After he had been well and truely marked, skin blemished, guts emptied in the bucket provided, invisible blood all over the place and shirt sticking to him saturated in sweat, the rest of the group, his fellow death eaters now he supposed - were dismissed and the Dark Lord left after announcing how excited he was that 'the young Malfoy' had joined their ranks. Soon there was nobody left but him and his parents. His mother still on her knees and crying. His father actually looked proud for once. That made Draco feel sick all over again. The man was a monster, not a father. He'd just happily given his son over to be used as pleased to a psychotic megalomaniac. Fan-fucking-tastic.

The elves arrived almost immediately and helped Draco get into bed, he was given a pain potion laced with sleeping draught and something for nausea, taking them like they were his last lifeline he drank eagerly. Hoping not to wake up for days. If at all. Just before he slipped away he felt his chest heat up, dazed off the pain and potions it took him a few seconds to realise what the burning was until he looked down and saw the coin, shining up at him on his bare white chest. He was instantly reminded of Hermione, her face coming into view. He tugged the coin up and whispered the password to see her message before letting it fade away as he drifted off to dream about her.

'Why do you have to be so cute? It's impossible to ignore you
Well, must you make me laugh so much? It's bad enough we get along so well
Say goodnight and go'

When Draco woke up he was consumed with the dreams he had had. Dreams of a girl with the craziest head of curly hair and eyes the colour of molten honey. He remembered noticing a small spray of freckles across her nose that he wasn't sure he'd ever noticed before, he'd have to check if they were actually there or not when he saw her next.
It wasn't until he stretched and caught sight of the black monstrosity on his left forearm that the events prior to him going to bed came rushing back to his mind.

"FUCK FUCK FUCK! BASTARD TWATTING CUNT!"

He screamed in his room, suddenly wondering if any of his 'brothers' were around and praying to Merlin that his new 'master' definitely wasn't. He wasn't sure how long he'd been out of it. He'd missed Christmas he was sure of it but he didn't even care, he just needed to get out of the house. Away from the people who were supposed to protect him yet had thrown him to a pack of wolves, quite literally.
He quickly jumped in the shower and got dressed before calling his elf, thankful for once that the small creature was bound to him and would therefore be bound to protect any and all of his secrets.

"Sunny" He called once he was ready. Suddenly a loud crack filled the room and the tiny little elf appeared beside him. Sunny had been gifted to him for his seventh birthday as was customary in the old wealthy pureblood families. The seventh birthday was a special one as it was the most powerfully magical number there was and so he was given a house elf as his gift because they were magical and that was tradition. At the time he hadn't been pleased about it, what would a seven year old need a bonded elf for anyway? He had a house full of elves! Right now though he was oh so thankful for that stupid custom.

"Master bes awake? Master not bes sick now?"

"Sunny, what day is it? I'm not sure how long it has been"

"Master has slept for four days, master"

"Four days? Fuck!"

"Master's Mistress sent master message with the coin also master"

Draco stood looking at the elf wondering how she knew his secret. "She is not my mistress Sunny and how do you know about the coin?"

"She bes masters ...." the elf was clearly very confused by the situation, in her world there was a master and his mistress and that was that.

"Girlfriend. She is my girlfriend. Although I doubt she will be for long" He replied as he ran his right hand over the mark on his arm.

"Masters gir...girlsfriends bes a nice lady, master"

"Yes she is. I'm afraid that's the problem though" Draco muttered more to himself than the little elf. "Sunny what did the messages say?"
Sunny took a scrap of parchment out of her apron and handed it over to her master after casting a quick charm on it to reveal the contents.

"Thank you Sunny, you are a good elf. You haven't-"

"Sunny not bes telling master's secrets, master"

"Thank you Sunny, if anyone found out...well lets just say it wouldn't be good. I'm going to go over to Theo's for a while okay? If my parents ask where I am tell them."

"Yes Master" Sunny replied as she bowed then apparated back to where ever she had come from.

Draco decided to walk the majority of the way to Nott manor, it was too far to walk all the way but he needed air so he floo'd to a shop in a small village that he knew was about an hours walk away. It was a walk he'd done hundreds of times when they were kids and he knew it well. He took the time to read the messages Hermione had sent him. He felt awful having been too out of it to notice she had messaged him not once but three times. Knowing his girlfriend she was probably worried out of her mind. His worry only increased upon reading the messages.

'Hope you're having a better Christmas than you anticipated. I've been putting my gifts to good use. H x'
Okay so the first message wasn't so bad, that was clearly sent at some point on Christmas day.

'Draco something really bad has happened, I can't tell you this way. I don't know what I'm going to do. I need to see you so badly X'

That message made him uneasy, it didn't sound like his Hermione at all, he felt a heavy pit in his stomach as he read the last message.

'I'm getting worried now, you haven't replied to my last two messages and I really need you right now X'

Shit fucking shit! She's safe in the castle what could possibly have happened to her under the headmasters watch? He quickly sent a message back hoping to ease her burden and find out what was going on.

'Sorry love, fell asleep four days ago just woke up. I'll explain when I see you. Are you okay? What's going on? Missing you x'

When Draco arrived at Nott manor he was surprised to find Rowley Nott, Theo's father, actually awake and even more surprising, in high spirits. The man made him sick, not unlike his own father in many ways and yet in others worse. Everyone in their circle of friends knew he was the reason Theo's mother was dead. It had happened when Theo was just five but the abuse had been very visible for all to see. Something that had been passed onto her son when she had gone. Draco hurried past him quickly and found his way to his friends room where he found him lay upside down on his bed, hanging off the side and a bottle of firewhiskey in hand.

"Great the good stuff's out, I really could do with some of that shit pass it over" He said closing the door and sitting on the floor near the bed.

"What are you doing here?"

"Well I couldn't stay in that fucking place any longer, I imagine you know what they did to me?" He shot back at his friend as he pulled the bottle out of his hands not even bothering to transfigure anything into a glass and instead swallowing a good portion of the liquid in one gulp.

"I heard. Prick hasn't stopped talking about it. Think I'll be next"

"No you fucking won't Theo. I'm not letting it. You can't"

"Like I will have a choice? Like you had a choice?"

"Oh I had a choice all right. Sit and watch my mother being raped and tortured for hours, maybe even days, then killed before they forced me to let them brand me or let them brand me."

"So you were getting marked either way, like I said, you didn't have a choice"

"Doesn't matter does it? I'm one of them now aren't I?"

"Only if you want to be. You've still got another 18 months in school, maybe Potter and the gruesome twoesome will kill the bastard before we finish and you have to do anything too bad"

"I'm going to have to dump her aren't I? I can't carry on with her like this not now. She deserves better" He said after pondering Theo's words.

"Shit!" Theo shouted grabbing the bottle back off his friend and pouring them both a double before looking at it and deciding to fill the glasses. They'd only refill them anyway. He handed one to Draco and started drinking his own "When did you wake up Draco?"

"About an hour and a half ago why?"

"Fucking shit!"

"Theo what's going? You're acting odd I got word from Hermione and something isn't right there but she won't tell me through the - I've only been out four bloody days what could possibly have happened in that time?"

Theo looked towards his bedroom door, threw up a muffliato and some wards before answering. "Gran....Hermione's parents were killed" Theo answered looking his friend directly in the eye letting him know this was not something he was joking about.

"What do you mean? How do you know?"

"Did you not see my fathers face of absolute delight when you came in? Fucking cunt and his twisted fucking death eater friends took it upon their selves to go after her. There was three people in the house, two adults and one teenager. None of them could have seen the teenager properly though because we both know she stayed at school. They avada'd them all and set the place on fire then came back here gloating about how they'd killed Harry Potter's precious mudblood. Sick fucks"

Draco stared at his friend with wide eyes taking in the news he'd just heard and brought his glass to his mouth, hands shaking he downed the whole lot before he could get another word out. "She's definitely in the castle? It wasn't her? She didn't go home somehow afterwards?"

"We both know she wasn't going home. Didn't you just say she left you messages? Get your fucking coin thing out and do whatever is to find out"

"When?"

"What?"

"When did they....When did it happen?"

"Christmas night, right after your initiation"

"Fuck. She can't have found out until the next day at the earliest, it explains her messages. I need to see her"

"Nothing we can do until we get back to school mate"

"How many days is that?"

"Four. Can't come soon enough. You need to message her tell her you know" Theo said pointing towards the coin around Draco's neck

Draco nodded and poured the remains of the bottle into his glass before sitting back down and pulling out his coin. It took him a while to figure out what to say, not wanting to upset her more but needing her to know he was there for her. In the end he sent her message hoping it would be okay figuring that whatever he sent would set her off either way. How the hell could he dump her now? He couldn't there was just no way. He might be a prat, might even be a bit of a cunt at times but he couldn't dump his girlfriend when she had just lost her parents to death eaters all because of her blood status in their world. Especially when he was head over heels for the girl. He'd have to come up with another plan.

'I've just heard what happened. I'm so sorry Love. I wish I was with you right now. Meet me in our place as soon as the train brings us back. I need to see you more than ever x'

It was a few hours and bottles of firewhiskey later when he felt the now familiar burning against his chest, he bent down and whispered the password to access the message, clinging desperately to the tiny sliver of hope that Theo had been mistaken. He shouldn't have bothered. That message just made everything so much worse.

'Draco I really need you right now. I don't know how to get through this. Three and half days, I'll be waiting for you X'

When Draco finally decided to go home three days later, having spent the whole time drinking with Theo, it was only to sort his school stuff out and get everything ready to return to the castle the next morning. What he wasn't expecting, or rather, was naive enough to think wouldn't happen, yet - was his 'master' waiting for him because he had a job for him. Draco really didn't like the sound of that and he'd been right to, the Dark Lord only wanted him to go and kill the greatest wizard that ever lived, he had until the end of the school year year to murder his headmaster and the psychopath had asked him in a way that made it sound as if it was a great honour to do this task. As if he wasn't his only chance seeing he had no other death eaters inside the castle walls. Could his life get any worse right now?

Muggleborn girlfriend when you're a pureblood son of death eaters - check

Marked like prey by the darkest wizard of all time - check.

Girlfriends parents killed by death eaters who are now your 'brothers' - check

Orders to kill the greatest wizard ever - check, check, check!

 

He went to bed that night hoping to fall asleep easily but later would realise it was the night his sleeping patterns changed. He could no longer sleep well. The hours he did get were laced with nightmares of murder and being branded, the haunted look on Hermione's face and what could have happened to her. He woke up sweating and panting and looking down at his arm went to learn a decent concealing charm so he could hide his mark in school. It at least gave him something to do and when morning came around the mark was well and truly hidden from view. He'd have to time how long the charm lasted and recast it ever day but it was a small price to pay.

Chapter Text

Hermione's plans for the Christmas holidays originally included going home to visit her parents, something she didn't get to do much due to their lack of familiarity with her world and the ever increasing rise of Voldemort. That is until she learnt that one of her mothers' friends, who had long since been sick, had taken a bad turn and her parents would be spending their time off helping out where they could. They had convinced her it was best she stay at the castle this year and that they would make up for lost time in Easter. She was upset of course but part of her was relieved that she didn't have to go home and put on a charade to ease their minds. They had absolutely no idea what was going on in the wizarding world right now and if they even suspected she thought they'd haul her out of Hogwarts faster than she could 'quidditch'.

So she stayed spending as much time with her friends as possible in between trying - and failing - to get them to do any homework at all. As usual they would leave it all until the night before classes started again.

Harry of course, had stayed behind too, like he did every year. Going back to Privet Drive was not an option until, well, it wasn't an option. Mrs. Weasley was planning the wedding of Bill and Fleur for the coming summer which meant that neither of her school age children had any inclination to return home unless they had to. The four of them were the only Gryffindor's left behind. Which, Hermione had noted, meant Lavender would be out of their hair for the next two weeks and they might actually be able to eat a whole meal whilst also enjoying it.

They had full run of the whole Gryffindor tower for a whole fortnight and did indeed spend most of their time together. Hermione and Ginny would retreat to one of their dorms of a night on the redheads insistence to gossip about how Luna and Theo needed to stop mind-fucking each other and just find a broom closet. It had become obvious pretty quick to Ginny after tracking Theo down in between classes that his lust for her friend was not one sided. Not even close. Her friends' normally dreamy state became almost trance like and it was even harder than it usually was to get a coherent sentence out of the girl. Ginny had tried, even asked why she was so enamoured with the Slytherin.

"What's so different about Nott than any other boy in this castle?" She had asked, as bluntly as she ever was.

"His aura. He's just.....did you not notice his aura?"

"No but I can tell you have wrackspurts in your ears"

"I think I'd know if wrackspurts were in my ears Ginny. The only creatures I could see were the dimple-bottomed-forget-me-nots that surrounded him."

"Right, would you mind reminding me what exactly dimple-bottomed-forget-me-nots are, I have trouble remembering."

"Of course, they are not unlike bees and they surround everyone. Just buzzing around until one day someone sees them. Only one person will ever see another's dimple-bottomed-forget-me-nots. Of course you know that though, you're the only one who can see Harry's"

"Right, and what exactly does it mean when you can see someone's forget-me-nots?"

"Dimple-bottomed-forget-me-nots" Luna corrected her friend as the started to walk towards the library. "It means" Luna continued. "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May"

"You're quoting Shakespeare? It means you suddenly recite poetry?" Ginny asked quietly as they entered the library.

"Maybe I was wrong, maybe you haven't opened your eyes properly around Harry yet. Dimple-bottomed-forget-me-nots, although everyone has them, can only be seen by the life long mate of the witch or wizard they are flying around. Like Hermione ad Draco"

"What do you mean Hermione and Malfoy?"

"She sees his dimple-bottomed-forget-me-nots and he sees her's" Luna replied serenely before pulling a book off the shelf and walking over to start on her homework.

That was the most Ginny or Hermione for that matter had managed to get out of Luna before they gave up. Instead they had to be witness when her and Theo 'accidentally' bumped in to each other in the halls of the castle any chance they got. Funny that they spent nearly every day of the past five years in the same castle together without meeting and now they couldn't turn a corner without the other being there. And really, they had to admit, they were as bad as one another.

Hermione and Ginny were both starting to run out of patience and instead tried coming up with elaborate schemes to get the two together, alone, without the chance they could get caught. They decided it would be best to get Draco in on the plan and have Luna meet them in the room of requirement and have Theo meet Draco there. But of course they would have no intention of turning up and just hope they each got their heads out of the clouds long enough to talk more than a sentence to one another.

The first week of the holidays passed by in a blur of what was reminiscent to the old times they'd spent together. Ron, not currently glued to Lavender, had become his usual old self around Hermione again. Something she was relieved about but at the same annoyed with because he now was more interested in her 'secret boyfriend' than ever. They spent the days sleeping late, eating a breakfast that would actually be more reminiscent of lunch, lounging around the common room playing one of the many potentially dangerous games they had to hand, visiting Hagrid, doing homework in the library or, as was the case of Harry, Ron and Ginny, out on quidditch pitch practising new moves.

There were other students staying behind in other houses but the foursome mostly kept to themselves where they could, only joining the rest of the castle occupants during meal times. Of a night they would sit by the fire with butterbeer or hot chocolate and a plate full of cakes that Ron would always get from the elves in the kitchens and just enjoy being friends for once without any other distractions. It was perfect. Christmas had been perfect. Typically they had gone to bed late, watching the small white flakes falling outside their windows settling on the ground, the first snow they had had of the year. Watching the ground cover in a thin white blanket, knowing that when they woke the next morning it would likely be much thicker.
Eventually they all decided to go to bed, it was long gone midnight and for once none of them had trouble sleeping. Hermione, feeling romantic due to the holiday, sent Draco a quick message of song lyrics, their song she thought as she laid down afterwards to sleep.

When they woke, early for the first time of the holidays, they would find their stockings on their beds and run into the common room to open the rest of their gifts together that had been left under the tree. Hermione sat there watching her three best friends tear into the brightly wrapped gifts. Harry's hair sticking up in all directions, her own mane resembling something akin to a birds nest, Ron shouting loudly giving a running commentary about each and every gift he had received and Ginny, her only female ally looking like she wouldn't part from her boyfriend the entire day. With swollen lips and blush tinged cheeks, Hermione felt a pang of jealousy watching the two of them together. Being able to be happy, being free at least in this one aspect of their lives, of the cruel world outside. She wondered if her and Draco could ever have that. Would there ever be a Christmas she could spend sat around the tree with him? Watching him, messy hair, still in pyjamas, open his presents? She really wasn't sure but gods she hoped it was possible otherwise what was the point in what they were doing?

They eventually went down to the Great Hall, still dressed in their pyjamas and slippers, for a breakfast feast of a traditional English fry up. It was easily one of the happiest meal times they had had over the week and with every student and professor currently residing in the castle in attendance they ended up sitting there for over two hours just eating and chatting about anything and everything.
Slowly everyone around the table started to make their leave and the foursome followed, each deciding to take a nap now that their stomachs were full and the anticipation of getting gifts had blown over. Once they woke the rest of the day followed in the same fashion as the rest of their previous days, they chatted animatedly about their gifts, had a huge Christmas Day feast that last three hours and contained so many different varieties of potatoes it was unbelievable. That evening they sat around the fire as they did every night, forgoing the butterbeer and hot chocolate in favour of a bottle of Firewhiskey to celebrate and they toasted to themselves "To friends" they had said "To family" they all agreed. They each went to bed that night with smiles on their faces, mostly content with their lives (well, there was the little hiccup about Voldemort running around trying to kill them all, wasn't there?) and all feeling a certain kind of happiness that they had not managed to achieve before.

Little did they know soon their bubble would be burst, for happiness will forever be tainted by evil. At least when there is a silent war going on around them.

That Christmas day had been one of the best they'd had until the next day came around bringing with it bad news.

Hermione had been sat in the common room reading the book Draco had given her when Professor McGonagall came to find her. It was after 10pm and she was already uneasy as she hadn't heard from Draco in nearly 24 hours even though she had sent him a message. It wasn't like him to not get back to her. Looking up at her professor multiplied her worry even more, she knew it couldn't have anything to do with Draco, this was something else entirely and one look at the older woman's face left her dreading the words that were about to come out of her mouth. Having your professor turn up in your dorm in the middle of the night where only four students had resided for the past week really was worrying. Especially when you knew that every one in that room had been on their best behaviours, for once.

That had been the moment she had found out about the death of her parents and throughout the entire conversation Hermione didn't feel a single thing. She was numb, just numb. She'd been told the ministry had been alerted when a muggle property engulfed in flames would not go out. Auror's had gone to the scene instantly, putting out the fire with a swish of their wands and upon investigation had found three bodies inside. At first they had feared that the teenage girl had been her, that is after they realised who the house belonged to. It didn't take them long to find out Hermione was safely tucked away in Hogwarts but they were able to identify the remains of her parents through a series of charms the aurors and healers performed. There was no doubt about it she had been told. The third body had been a mystery to them until Hermione had mentioned it could her mothers friends' daughter and passed on information to how and where they could contact the girls parents.
She hadn't realised it but her three best friends had all been sat with her when she got the news. She was very thankful to that because she wasn't sure she could have told them herself.
The next few days were a blur, she barely got out of bed or stopped crying. She was only 17 and now an orphan, though in the wizarding world she was technically of age. She had asked the deputy headmistress if she could have someone arrange the funeral for her because she had no way of doing it from the castle. They also employed the Gringotts liaison to sort her parents affairs. Her parents had long since been the last thing tying her to the muggle world. All the friends she'd had before arriving at Hogwarts, just before her twelfth birthday, had long since moved on, neither of her parents had siblings and both sets of grandparents had been dead before she was even born. So with that in mind Hermione decided to sell her parents dental practice and any other property they had owned. The house she called home was beyond repaid but as the incident was being blamed on a gas explosion she would get a pretty big insurance payout. She'd been told that there was absolutely nothing salvageable in the house and with that in mind decided not to go there, had there been a chance she could find some memories in the ruins she'd have gone in a heartbeat but there was no point, she would just have to make do with what she had in her trunk. The only thing she did insist upon was attending their funeral. The auror's were concerned for her safety, they hadn't been able to point the finger of blame to anyone specifically but the whole incident screamed death eaters to them and with there being a young girl in the house at the time they could only assume the death eaters had thought they were killing Hermione herself.
They didn't put up a fuss about her attending the funeral and it was arranged fairly quickly.

Ginny had coaxed her into sending word to Draco and she did, she sent two more messages before he got back to her a whole four days after the first one she sent on Christmas night. That worried her. It worried her a lot but she had so much going on that she tried to put it in the back of her mind. When he did get in touch with her she was almost tempted to ignore him back and for a few hours she couldn't bring herself to reply at all. That is until he sent her another message not an hour later when he had evidently found out what had happened. She found herself compelled to reply and after that she found he wouldn't stop, he messaged her constantly, doing his best to be there for her in the only way possible. It wasn't enough but it was all she had. All they had.
Her friends had been really brilliant, Harry had even stopped going on about Draco and his stupid potions book and the Half Blood Prince. More evidence, she was sure, that he knew her secret. Ron really didn't know how to help and he often just made things worse with his indirect insensitive remarks. She knew he didn't mean it he was just worried about hurting her more, ironic because sometimes he managed to do just that. Ginny didn't leave her alone for one minute, even going so far as to sleeping in Hermione's bed with her. She was sure part of it was Harry's plan, worried about his friend being alone in a time like this. He knew how being a orphan felt but he didn't understand losing parents, he'd been just a baby when his had been killed. But here they both were now, orphaned by war, by the same man or in the name of the same man, and stuck together in a long and slowly agonising battle of good versus evil to bring the bastard down. And of course there was Neville, another victim of this war, his parents alive but that was merely a technicality, he really was just another war orphan. His parents might have been there in body but their minds and spirits had long gone. It was like Gryffindor was the house of war orphans and if Voldemort thought that would deter them he really did underestimate Gryffindor's. All it made them realise was that they no longer had anything of value left to lose, except each other.

The day before school started her head of house took her, Harry, Ron and Ginny by portkey to the small church where the ceremony was to be held. Mr and Mrs Weasley were already there when they arrived as were a handful of auror's, on guard just in case and all dressed in muggle clothes.

The turnout had been small but still bigger than Hermione had expected, the friends they had been helping even managed to turn up despite going through their own grief. Hermione, looking at the husband felt a bigger pang of sadness for him. He'd just lost his daughter, was at the funeral of two of his best friends and his wife was in a wheelchair, dying from a terminal disease. It kind of put her life into a little bit of perspective and at that point she vowed that once the day was over with she would put it behind her and move forward because it's what her parents would want her to do. It would still be hard, oh so hard but she had to honour them and this was the last chance she had. She would make them proud.

That night before the students would return for the new term the next morning, Hermione had gone to bed early, watching from the window in her dorm as people were still letting fireworks off in celebration of the new year. She sat down at the window seat and watched them from where she was, pondering what her parents had had planned for this day, normally the first day of the new year was spent hungover for them. 'Well at least they won't have headaches today' she thought to herself as she watched a particularly colourful display shoot through the air, the sparks mimicking a rainbow.
This really had been the worst Christmas she'd ever had she thought and wondered how many more they would have to go through until Voldemort was dead. How many more people would she have to grieve until it stopped hurting so much? Until it stopped surprising her? Until she gave up?

Feeling her coin heat up against her chest she looked down and whispered the password before letting the message engulf her final thoughts of the evening and retreating into bed. Hoping that she when she awoke this horrid nightmare would have all been just that; a nightmare. But she knew better, she knew she had to move on and so tonight she let her grief consume her, knowing her fellow dorm mates would be back the next day and she would not let herself lose control like this in front of them.

'Just over half a day until I have you in my arms again. It can't come quick enough. Miss you X'

Chapter Text

The next morning Draco and his parents headed to King Cross station to board the train, despite being home for the holidays the past two weeks he really had only seen them each a couple of times and most of those meetings were not ones he'd like to remember. It was honestly the worst Christmas he'd ever had and had made him see his parents in a new, lesser light than what he'd originally thought of them. Before Christmas he was clinging on to the hope they could be redeemed, now though, now he knew better. In his fathers case at least. His mother was still a mystery to him and he knew she loved him as any mother love their son. It was all that clung him to the last hopes his whole family wasn't pure unadulterated evil.
He didn't wave his parents off, he didn't say goodbye, he didn't even want to turn around and look at them again. He was too angry with them both so he just boarded the train and found the prefects booth where he waited for the conductor to signal their leave. In fact the only thing he did do was double check his mark was definitely hidden. Having a student see that would be the catastrophic. Of course most of the kids in Slytherin would already know, being death eaters children and all. He wouldn't technically have to hide it from them but he really didn't want to see the mark himself much less have others gawking at it.

When he was just an hour away from Hogwarts and he found a lone carriage, he quickly sent up a locking charm at the door and sent Hermione a message that he would be with her soon.

'Not long now Love x'

 

Hermione didn't sleep well again that night, she hadn't had a decent sleep since Christmas, her mind racing with the 'what if's and the 'could have's'. She stayed in bed as long as possible, knowing her friends would leave her there in the hopes she got some rest. Ginny had slipped out of the bed early that morning, probably to use the day to catch up on homework with Harry and Ron, Hermione had been on at them all to do since the beginning of the holidays but true to fashion they left it until the last minute.

It was just after midday when Hermione finally got up and dressed, Draco would be arriving at the castle in a few hours and she really wanted to be in their room waiting for him when he got there, she was desperate to see him. She made her way down to the common room with her school bag on her back, just in case, and when her friends looked up at her arrival she made excuses that she was going for a walk around the lake then possibly to the library.

"Mione, how are you? Did you sleep alright last night? We didn't want to wake you."

"Not really, I'll be fine Harry, stop worrying."

"You're my best friend of course I'm going to worry when something happens in your life"

"Well I'll be fine, you guys doing your homework?"

"Umm....yeah we kinda forgot...until now" Harry replied sheepishly.

"You didn't forget I reminded you every day" HErmione replied in her seriously stern voice that oly ever seemed to get used on them.

"Well you know us 'Mione"

"Yeah, well I hope you finish it on time I really do but it serves you right"

"You know you can come and sit with us, go over yours or read or something while we do it?"

"No thanks, we both know you'll only try to get me to do it for you. I'm going for a walk around the grounds. I think I could do with the air. I'll probably head to the library afterwards."

"We'll see you at the feast?" Ron interjected. Always about the food.

"If you finish your work on time" She replied before making her way towards the door. Hermione hadn't planned on going for a walk but after using it as an excuse to her friends the idea seemed seemed calming and just in case they decided to pick up the map she thought it was best she went. It would at least kill some time before Draco was back. So Hermione wrapped her cloak tighter and headed towards the black lake where she spent the next two hours aimlessly walking around before heading to the room of requirement where she lay on the couch in front of the fire, healing book in hand. That was how she finally fell asleep, the calming effect of the room and the memories of it along with the roaring fire lulled her into a sense of security she hadn't felt in a week. She didn't fight it, didn't even realise it had happened.

That was how Draco found her a few hours later, curled up in a ball on the old and worn couch, using one of its cushions as a pillow. Her wild hair didn't look like she had even attempted to tame it in days, her skin looked pale and he didn't miss the huge bags around her eyes either. Draco saw the book that was still in her hand and took it from her using the pink rose he had given her on their first date that she had put under a stasis charm, as a bookmark. He put it to the side and gently sat down next to where her head was resting, she was curled up so small she barely took up any room at all. Draco started to run his hand through her hair gently, smiling a little when she instinctively put her head in his lap and curled into his side.

They stayed like that for close to an hour, neither needing to talk, just taking comfort in knowing the other was there before Hermione finally said something.

"Thank you Draco"

"You've nothing to thank me for Love" He said earnestly, still running his fingers through her hair and down her arms.

"You're here" She pointed out.

"And I'm taking just as much comfort from you as you are from me, I promise you that much"

"Are you going to tell me what happened? Why you took four days to reply to me? Were you sick?"

Draco looked down at his left forearm pondering if he should tell her or not, he was so conflicted, he was sure she'd run a mile the minute she saw it, he'd been sure of that the minute he'd woken from his four day sleep. It was the reason he wanted to end their relationship. If he was going to lose her anyway it was probably best she didn't know his darkest secret. Then he had found out what had happened to her parents and he knew he couldn't break up with her, he cared about her too much, they'd only been together for two months and he was definitely falling for her, probably not love, not yet, but it was heading that way and there was just no way he could put her through more pain. Not right now. But telling her had it's pros too, she would know his secret, he wouldn't have to hide it from her, in the unlikely event she didn't run for the mountains (or, more plausibly, to Potter and Weasley) he would have someone to confide in who thought he had something good in him still. He had Theo and he could talk to Theo but he wasn't her. He wasn't Hermione and he really needed her. Now more than ever.
"Draco" Hermione whispered trying to pull him from his thoughts. It didn't work. She sat up slightly and followed his eyes to where he was looking when suddenly everything clicked into place. The reason he had found out so quickly about her parents, the reason he'd been silent for four days, the reason he couldn't tell her through the coin. "No" She whispered in disbelief, now staring at his covered arm herself. "They...but you're just a boy! You're only 16 how could they!" She shouted, her voice angry and sad at the same time.

"I didn't have a choice. Well actually that's a lie, I had a choice but the end result would have been the same regardless. When a lunatic says 'Hey Draco you either let me brand you or I'm going to let some of my lovely pathetic friends rape and torture your mother in front of you for a few days before we kill her then mark you anyway. Or you just take the mark like the good obedient boy you were raised to be. Oh, by the way, your unstable aunt is first in line should you choose to watch your mother suffer' you kinda just hold out your arm and shut your eyes" He replied, eyes still staring at his arm.

"We've been sat here for nearly an hour and I'm only just finding this out, why?"

"I was being selfish and taking comfort in you for one last time. I needed it. I didn't want to tell you, I knew I had to but I didn't want to and I knew as soon as you knew it would be over. I was going to end it without you finding out but after what I happened I just couldn't see you hurt because of me." Draco replied still avoiding her gaze.

Hermione sat up properly and took a deep breath before she replied. Placing both hands on the sides of his face, her thumbs gently stroking his cheeks she turned him to face her, making him look into her eyes before she said anything. "Draco, tell me, are you still the same man as you were the night you gave me the book? The same man who used muggle technology and magic to infuse a product that would make me happy? Me, a mudblood, who you call 'Love'. Are you still the man who gave me the beautiful pink rose, that I know you chose specifically, that charmed the ceiling to look like the night sky and lay on the floor pointing out constellations to me? The same man who stays up so late he gets himself into detention because he doesn't want the night to end but is too scared and nervous to spend the night with me despite the fact we've already done it? If you're still that man, and I have no doubt that you are, then I'm going nowhere. I care about you Draco."

Looking into Hermione's eyes Draco could see the determination and sadness, he could see she cared for him and wasn't lying but he couldn't let her do this. He wanted her so much but he couldn't condemn her this way. They were on opposite sides of the war now more than ever.

"Hermione, they're going to make me do things, I won't have a choice. You can't be with a man like that. It's already started. I won't condemn you to that. I can't. I care about you too much. And please do not use that word about yourself. I can't bare it."

"It's what I am. Tell me Draco, do you want to do these things? Do you want to torture and kill? If the choice was yours you know you wouldn't do it and I know it. But there is something you can do, the people you will come across would be getting killed anyway, their torture more painful and lasting longer, you can ease their suffering Draco. It will still be at your hand but rather the hand of a good man than an evil one."

"I'm not a good man Love, If I was I wouldn't be so selfish when it comes to you. I'd have come in here and ended things right away. I'd have left you crying here and gone to the dungeons to cry myself while Theo handed me a bottle of Firewhiskey then I'd have drank for a few days and keep telling myself what I was doing was for your own good. But I couldn't do that. I couldn't hurt you like that. I couldn't bare the thought."

"So you decided to let me end it after seeing the mark? You really thought I'd run? Maybe I want to be selfish too Draco. I can't let you go, I need you more than ever just now. We can help each other." Hermione said as she sat on his lap and straddled him before leaning in and kissing him for the first time in two weeks.

"Mmm I missed this so much." Draco replied under her touch, leaning his forehead against hers.

"And yet you were so willing to let it go. Let me go."

"Not willing to let you go, accepting, albeit reluctantly, to endure letting you go. It's the best thing, for you." He said putting his arms around her waist and holding her close.

"You know I'm not going though, don't you?" Hermione, still straddling Draco kissed him again.

"I honestly don't have the energy to fight you over it and I really don't want to fight you, not over this. I need you too much."

"Good because I need you too. We can heal each other." She said before putting her arms around his neck and leaning in to hold on to him.

"I foresee you'll be healing me more than the other way around Love." Draco said through a mouthful of her wild hair, pulling her in tighter.

They sat like that for a while before Hermione asked if she could look at the mark for herself. It took Draco a few deep breaths before he pulled up his sleeve to let her see it, undoing the concealing charm that was miraculously still in place. Hermione ran her fingers over the raised black brand covering his otherwise pale, unblemished skin, before she turned back to him.

"It's just a tattoo, on you it's just a tattoo like any other. The mark doesn't define you Draco, you define you. And you're not the mark."

"I only hope you're right." He replied before picking up the healing book and looking to see if he could find a better concealing charm.

"I'm always right, witches are always right" She replied winking at him. "Good concealing charm though, what did you use?

"Something I heard in the dungeons a few years ago when one of the older lads took the mark; concealious conti de. I think it works for pregnancies too as I've heard a few girls mention it."

"Really? Girls in school are walking around concealing pregnancy?! Urgh!"

"Yeah. So you going to the Feast? It'll be starting any minute now." Draco said looking at his watch.

"No, I'd rather be here, I can't handle everyone staring at me right now."

"Yeah, I think we'd have that in common tonight. Won't your friends worry though?"

"Ginny will know where I am, I'd be surprised if they finish their homework in time to even go to the Feast but you know Ron when it comes to food."

"Unfortunately I do"

"And I doubt Harry will even think about looking at the map tonight either."

"Map?" Draco asked in confusion.

"Oh yeah I've not told you that properly yet have I? Promise me you will keep it a secret?"

"Well, I presume you're keeping my secret so it's only fair I keep yours. I am your boyfriend after all."

"It's not exactly my secret though it's Harry's."

"Good point. But I'm too intrigued now so spill. On my honour I won't tell a soul. Except maybe Theo."

"A Malfoy with honour?" She asked in mock disbelief. "And Theo won't tell?"

"Ouch, you wound me. Witch!" He replied clutching his chest. "He won't tell, he likes you." Draco pointed out.

"He likes Luna. He doesn't know me."

"And yet he doesn't know her either. God you should hear him go on about her."

"I'd imagine he at least uses sentences than make sense? You don't have to listen to Luna."

"He's not said a single thing that makes sense since he met her except of course when the vulgarities come out. That I do understand."

"He's a teenage boy, of course you understand. You're all the same."

"We are not!"

"So you don't talk about me the same way he talks about Luna?"

"So anyway, back to this map...." Draco replied hastily changing the subject.

"Wise move Mr Malfoy."

"I already told you, I'm a quick learner. Now spill!"

"Okay so the map, it's called the Marauder's Map and was written by four men, teenagers actually when they wrote it. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs - their animagus names. When they were in school they decided to each become animagus and they did it too. I think they were about 15 or 16. Then they made this enchanted map of the school. It lists every single secret passage in the castle. There are seven-"

"There's SEVEN?" Draco asked in shock.

"Well, yeah."

"I thought there was only four!"

"Nope, there's definitely seven. At the least. I've used them all. Or checked them out. Not all are in use at the minute. Anyway so on top of the passages it lists all the rooms, of course it would it's a map. Then lastly it lists all the castle occupants. So if I was in the library and Harry wanted to find me he would just take out the map and look for my name and there it would be in the library. As you move your name moves too."

"So Potter can see us everywhere we go? Fan-fucking-tastic!" He shouted.

"Not everywhere, there is one room that is a secret to even the map."

"You mean this room?"

"Yes, doesn't help much because anyone who really thought about it would use the process of eliminatioon to realise that actually if the person they are looking for isn't on the map then they are in the room of requirement. Assuming they know about the room of course."

"And we know Potter knows about it."

"Yeah we do. So that's it, nothing special."

"Nothing special? Seriously Hermione, all these years I've been wondering how three reckless idiot Gryffindors have been getting around the castle so much at night without getting caught and now I find out it's because you have a secret magical map!"

"Well, the map really would only do so much. It wouldn't hide us if we were sneaking out at night."

"Don't tell me the rumour about the invisibility cloak is true?" He asked in disbelief.

"Ten points to Slytherin!" Hermione replied.

"Urgh. Bloody Potter! So, say he adds up one day that we're both in here? I mean Weasley might not figure it out but I wouldn't put it past Potter. We could open the door one day and he'll be waiting there for us."

"He won't. I'm 100% sure he knows about us already and since he's not outwardly said anything or is breaking down the door I imagine he will carry on pretending it's not true."

"Potter is okay with this?!"

"I didn't say that. I think he's just pretending it's not really happening while keeping an eye on us both."

Draco grumbled something about Gryffindor's and their need to interfere before questioning Hermione on her eating and sleeping habits because he'd notice she didn't look like she'd done either since Christmas. He left her for a few minutes while he went to the kitchens to get some food for them both and eventually got her to eat a meal. He even ate himself, being the first solid thing to pass his lips since he was marked. They read together for a while before laying on the couch together, pulling a blanket over themselves and falling asleep, safe in each others arms. Safe from the world outside the doors to their room. Safe from the looks of pity, shock, disappointment and longing they would be getting from their class mates the next day when everyone found out both their news. Safe, even, from their own friends.

The next morning Draco woke first, the sounds of his sleeping girlfriend threatening to lull him back to his dreams. For the first time in a week he had managed to sleep without a nightmare, for the first time in years he'd managed to dream. And such a wonderful dream it had been. There was no brand on his arm, no monster out to destroy everyone who didn't have 'suitable' blood, there was no such word as mudblood, the houses at school even mixed together. He and Hermione had been able to walk down the halls hand in hand, like any normal teenager couple would. He knew it was only a dream and it would never happen but he still yearned for it to be true. Yearned to let the world know she was his. To put an end to the line of classmates wanting to have her on their arm.
Draco leaned in to Hermione closer, smelling her hair again and nuzzling his nose to the back of her head before kissing it lightly. Waking up with her in his arms had been even better than the dream. She shifted lightly in his arms but didn't wake up properly.

"I know it's early Love but if you want to get to have a shower and get to classes on time then you need to get going soon."

"Just....five more minutes. Please."

Draco sighed. He really couldn't resist this witch but she really did need to get going. "Two more minutes and only if you spend that time kissing me." He replied.

"I've not brushed my teeth yet." She pointed out.

"So? You're a witch Hermione, use you wand." He replied before pulling out his own wand and using it to clean and freshen his mouth.

"Urgh. Fine. There done." She said after she repeated his actions.

"Good now come here." He said pulling her closer and spending infinitely more than the two minutes he had allowed for, kissing.

"Come on lets go." She said eventually.

They left their sanctuary that morning knowing what was coming their way but knowing that no matter what they still had each other. They could deal what everyone else said to them, about them or around them, they had each other and that was all that mattered now. They walked their separate ways and later would arrive for breakfast at the same time. Awkwardly walking through the double doors together trying not to be too friendly and yet not too obvious at the same time. Their arms managed to bump into each other as they did so and many students could hear Draco shouting "Fucking Gryffindor's" so loudly that half the hall heard him. They walked their separate ways then, her throwing looks that could kill his way and him storming towards his own table. Knowing that they would meet up again after dinner and laugh about their game and how well they were fooling everybody.

Chapter Text

That day went much smoother than either Hermione or Draco had anticipated, both feeling a sense of relief knowing they still had each other around to count on. In the halls they kept up the charade that they had started in the entrance to the great hall, a sly remark about Gryffindor's here or a happily reminisced story of 'the lovely ferret' there had kept them and their friends alike, at each others throats. Though nobody seemed to realise the pure joy both Hermione and Draco seemed to be taking out of it.
Neither were healed nor had forgotten their awful time over the holidays but they had agreed to try their best to move on, act as normally as possible and get on with their studies. That was until they arrived at their double Potions class that afternoon, the last class of the day. Since neither Hermione or Draco had attended the feast the night before they had both missed the changes to staffing announcement - something that rarely happened during the school year. The news had been on everyone's lips since they stepped into breakfast that morning. Professor Snape would be taking over the Defence Against the Dark Arts class since their other professor, someone hardly any of the students had bothered to remember by name, had failed to return for the rest of the year. This had of course meant that Potions would need a new professor and in Snape's stead an old master had taken to resume his position. Professor Slughorn.
Professor Slughorn was definitely different in his approach to teaching, there had been a rumour going around the school all day from the other years that he had mixed up the groups and purposely sat and paired up opposite houses. Not everyone had believed it, this was Hogwarts and houses did not mix! When the group of Gryffindor's and Slytherin's walked in to the the potion Master's classroom and went to their regular seats without any interruption it only solidified in their minds that the rumours had been just that.

It wasn't until every student was sat and the lesson seemingly about to begin before their professor announced that he would be allocating them each a new partner who they would work with for the rest of their time in school, unless of course, something should happen to one of them. You would have had to have been blind to miss how his eyes flickered over to Harry as he said that.. After that Slughorn began to call out the pairs and told them to move their seats accordingly. Of course Hermione had been paired with Draco. They really shouldn't have expected anything less since they were supposed to be the boy and girl in the castle with the most animosity between them. Ron had obviously been very vocal about that, that is until his own pairing came up. Pansy Parkinson. It had to be the worst pairing in the class, an opinion spoken by many, which was strange since Draco was sat in that room with a girl half of them called a mudblood and the other half thought of as a perfect little do gooder. Harry's pairing had probably been the easiest in the whole room. He'd been matched with Theo. Neither seemed happy with the news but unlike Ron and Pansy they just got on with it.

Their lesson started with a competition, the pair who could brew the best 'Draught of the Living Dead' potion would win a vial of Felix Felicis each. Hermione and Draco were both very confident in Potions and would have been top of their class had Harry not been cheating from that dreadful book (which Hermione noted, Draco had no idea about). They got to work in perfect unison, looking up occasionally when Ron and Pansy screamed at one another or Seamus's and Daphne Greengrass' potion set alight. Hermione's hair didn't react well to the humidity in the room and random curls began to escape every so often until the bobble and clips in her head could only be considered as decoration. Draco was visibly sweating, he really wanted to win the liquid luck and he knew they had the strongest team of the class by far. He was also enjoying being able to be near his witch in front of others. Of course he didn't miss the way Potter and Weasley glanced his way every couple of minutes, as if he was going to hurt her in front of their professor!

Eventually it came time for the potions to be marked, the one with the highest score would win. Hermione looked over at Harry's shoulder and noticed he didn't look at all like the arrogant idiot that had resided in this classroom for the past few months. She could tell his and Theo's potion making hadn't gone over so well, he was probably feeling wary about using the Half Blood Prince's book in front of the Slytherin. She smiled at that, ready for once, to beat his stupid book. Slughorn came around the room eyeing each and every potion, when he reached Hermione and Draco he commented how well done it was, it was easily the best he'd seen in the class. He turned to Harry and Theo last, the former seeming to have a light bulb idea the second the professor was about to open his mouth and he ran over to the cupboard, pulled out a bezoar and shoved it under Slughorn's throat. "Just shove a bezoar down their throats." Harry said mimicking the half blood prince.

This had seemed to make Slughorn deliriously happy, he commended Harry for his ingenuity, gave him house points and invited him to the 'Slug Club' where members of previously talented or influential students had once attended, many being the parents of the children in attendance. Harry was also awarded with the Felix Felicis. Nobody was happy about that, even Theo and he had gotten a vial of it too. He just felt like he had cheated the lesson too much.

Before they were dismissed they were given their homework, a task that would last the rest of the term and would require them to work with their partners outside of the classroom. They would have to invent their own potion, produce the method of brewing, do the research and explain the uses and properties of their potion. It would require a lot of extra work, something Hermione and Draco were happy about. They could now been seen outside of the classroom talking civilly without raising suspicions.

After dinner that night Hermione and Draco met up in their room as usual, as soon as they saw each other their entire demeanour changed, since their potions class they had both been holding in their feelings over Harry and Slughorn and what ever the hell had happened in the classroom.

"A fucking bezoar?! What the fuck?"

"I know Draco I'm angry too, I worked so hard on that potion."

"We worked hard on it."

"Fucking Potter. Theo had no clue what he was doing, said their potion was a mess and should have been called Draught of the Dead instead of Draught of the Living Dead, it was that bad."

"I know I saw it. I honestly thought we had won."

"We did win. Or should have. I need to know how he's doing it!? He's always been fucking useless at Potions and then he comes in to sixth year as if he's a Potions Masters son!"

"I know" Hermione grumbled, trying her best not to get on the subject of the Half Blood Prince's book. She didn't mind telling Draco about the map or the cloak but something about telling him this didn't seem right.

After they had both exhausted their voices in the subject of what had happened in their Potions lesson they got to work on the homework they had been set. Deciding that the potion they would try to invent would be something that could tell the tell the family tree of the brewer. There was such a potion already invented but it would take five years to brew and would give a complete history of the brewers family tree. Hermione and Draco were hoping to make one that would just give the last three to five generations of the brewers family tree, therefore the required brewing time would hopefully be much shorter. Draco being a Malfoy, really didn't need the potion, his family's history was all but carved into the tapestry that hung on the walls in Malfoy Manor but Hermione had just lost her parents and never knew any of her other family. He thought this was important to her and so he agreed it was a good potion to make. That night they sat for hours pouring over any potion they could find that would even remotely be linked to one they were planning on making. They looked into the how, the why and the what ifs for their research.

Eventually they had read so much Potions literature they decided to stop for what was left of the night and went back to their couch where they fell asleep cuddled up as they had the previous night. The next night they spent together Draco told Hermione he had decided to learn Occlumency and Legilimency as a way to protect them , he was worried that Voldemort might one day try to penetrate his mind and if he did there was no doubt he would see Hermione and the nature of their relationship which was far too dangerous for either of them. Of course Hermione agreed it was a good idea and wanted to join him with the task. It's supposed to be hard work but as a team they figured it would be easier. Besides, he needed a partner to practise on anyway and he couldn't shield his mind unless someone was trying to get into it.

It meant that this year was going to be a lot more difficult than either of them had thought it would, homework inventing your own potion, having a secret relationship, the usual school stuff, Draco being a supposed Death Eater and having to kill Dumbledore (which Hermione didn't know) and now learning to Occlude and Legilimency. Shortly before 2am they both fell asleep in their usual spot on the couch. Neither of them had spent a night in their dorms in three days now and if they were not careful their house mates would definitely think something more was going on than just 'he's been marked' and 'she's grieving'. Though of course they were both considerable factors in why they were there at all.

The next morning they resumed their daily routines, a quick dash to their separate common rooms to get ready for the day then head down to breakfast before classes would start. As Hermione took a seat next to Harry at the Gryffindor table that morning she noticed a school owl drop down in front of her holding out its leg so she could relieve it of its burden. She instantly recognised the now very familiar script of Draco Malfoy, wondering what he had to send via owl he couldn't have said already this morning or the night before. Passing the little owl bacon scraps she turned over the envelope and opened it, knowing he wouldn't send anything that would reveal their secret, not while her friends could see.

Granger,

I hate this as much as you do, probably more. Working with third rate witches is beneath a Malfoy. But if I want to pass this class, or year for that matter, then I'll just have to force myself to get on with it and have a wash the instant I get back to the dorm.

Be at the library at 6pm tonight and don't be late. Tardiness is disrespectful and I care very little at being disrespected.

Malfoy.

 

Hermione couldn't help the small smile that crept across her face, she chanced a glance across the hall towards the Slytherin table where she saw Draco watching her with a smirk on his face and an unasked question on his lips. She nodded slightly to let him know that she would be there before turning back to her friends.

 

"Who's your letter off 'Mione?" Ron asked through a mouthful of eggs.

"Malfoy" She replied noticing Harry's head jerk in her direction at the name.

"What's that prick want?" Ron grumbled.

"Slughorn's homework. It's going to take some time. I'm meeting him in the library tonight."

"You're actually doing it?!"

"Of course I am Ron it's homework!" While she was talking with Ron she noticed Harry pick up the letter and read it over, frowning at Draco's choice of words.

"Well you're not going alone. We can't trust him. One of us will come with you."

"As much as I appreciate having to be chaperoned to the library by you two you will not be able to join me."

"Why not? You can't go alone! What if he-" Ron hissed at her.

"What's he going to do in the library Ron? It'll be full of other students and Madam Pince. In case you'd forgotten. Plus you all have Quidditch practice tonight anyway." She pointed out.

'Hermione, they way he talks to you-" Harry started to say before she cut him off.

"He's Malfoy, do you expect him to change over night just because he's been paired with me? Honestly I expected him to get worse. And besides, I give as good as I get. I can look after myself you know. I know you both think he's a Death Eater now but I don't believe it. Not for a minute and I won't until I see proof. I'm doing this essay with him because, as he so rightly pointed out, we need to to pass the class and subsequently, the year. I suggest you both make a start in contacting your own partners and sorting your own homework out instead of grilling me on mine!" She hissed as she grabbed the letter out of Harry's hands before storming out towards Hagrid's hut. She was still early for their lesson but she really needed a breather from them and hoped seeing Hagrid would calm her down a bit.

She wasn't lying, not really. By a mere technicality he was a Death Eater yes but only because he bore the brand they had forced him to take. He'd not said or done anything to suggest his loyalties were with them. She knew he'd have to start acting some time soon because there was no way Voldemort was going to go easy on him. But until she saw him with her own eyes, doing unspeakable acts, not because he was forced but because he enjoyed it, until she saw the hunted, pleading looks of forgiveness leave in place of excitement whilst doing those tasks? She wouldn't believe him. She'd need physical proof and baring the mark wasn't enough for her. She knew him. She knew he was a good man who had been dealt a hard life. He'd had just as little choice in his role of the war as Harry had, something her friends failed to see.

 

She stayed mad at the boys for the rest of the day. Refusing to help them in class, waiting for their apologies that she knew wouldn't come. Not until she returned to common room in one piece that night. She knew they were just worried but it still angered her. Draco had changed and she just wanted them to see it for themselves. If her two best friends, the only family she had, couldn't see it then what hope would she have if they ever were able to be a couple in public? They'd be acting no better than pureblood parents did when their child dared sully their family name with anything less than pure. The rest of the day passed by easily, at break times she would eat with Ginny and chat with Luna before classes resumed. When it was finally time to head to the library Hermione picked up her bag and walked out of the common room without so much as a second glance at her friends.

 

When she arrived at the library she found him tucked into a corner, a stack of Potions books already on the table.

"Tardiness is disrespectful" he reminded her.

"I wasn't being tardy, merely fashionably late. I hear it's pureblood custom to keep a man waiting the exact amount of time. Keeps him on his toes." She replied cooly.

Draco looked around quickly before throwing up a muffliato charm so they would not be heard. "And pray tell, Miss Granger, who has had the audacity to teach my little muggle born girlfriend pureblood customs?"

"Ginny and Luna. Both are pureblood girls themselves you know. They seem to know a lot more about that than they let on."

"I shouldn't be that surprised, the Weasley's might be blood traitors but they're still Sacred 28 and as the only daughter Red is probably well versed in all pureblood customs. I wouldn't be shocked if she was very powerful either. I hear she's the first Weasley female in quite a few generations. Add in that she's the seventh child and you got a very powerful witch."

"I take it you've not seen her bat bogyey hex then? And sacred 28? What in Merlins name does that mean?"

"I guess after your 'keep him waiting fifteen minutes' talk you never hit much further? Sacred 28 is basically a list of all the families that are still pure and sacred. Though there are still some pureblood families that are not on the list. The sacred 28 are the most influential in our world."

"Right, so it's some stupid thing some pureblood elitist came up with so everyone would be more inclined to keep the blood lines pure. Got it. Should we start?" She said nodding her head towards the books on the table. She wasn't sure how she felt about pureblood customs as it was but she really wasn't in the mood for learning about them tonight. If at all.

"I notice you don't have a Potter or Weasel sized guard dog this evening? I'm very surprised." Draco said as she sat down and pulled a book open.

"We're not exactly on friendly terms right now and they have Quidditch practice tonight anyway."

"What did the Weasel do this time?"

"Why are you so sure it was him?"

"It's always him. I don't think I've ever seen you two go a week without fighting. I think he gets off on it." Draco replied thoughtfully.

"Malfoy!" She hissed.

"Just an observation Granger, Merlin. Though the thought of another man getting off on angering my girlfriend-"

"Carry on with that sentence and you won't have one anymore. We're friends. He's my brother!"

"If you say so Love" He whispered as he rolled his eyes.

They ended up staying in the library until Madam Pince had to force them out just before curfew. They managed to get a good deal of research done between them and we're excited with where their work was headed. Deciding to meet in the library three nights a week from that point on they made arrangements for going to their room the following evening. It wasn't a good idea to go there now, especially since her friends thought he was a Death Eater who was going to hurt her. She needed to go back to the common room to prove she was fine and sneaking back out after that would be too risky. They would just stay in their dorms for the night.

Arriving in the Gryffindor tower Hermione slowly started on the stairs as she was thinking about how much Draco had helped her in the past few days. She knew had it not been for him she would be struggling to come up for air right now but as it was a part of her felt almost, whole. There would always be a gaping hole that her parents had filled but she was happy in the knowledge that what she had had with her parents had been nothing short of magical and Draco was there easing away her grief. He would hold her in the night when she had a nightmare, wipe away her tears, stand over her until she ate, distracted her with kisses and homework and whispered to her about how they were going to win this war one day. He probably had no clue how much he helped her through it.

As Hermione walked into the common room she immediately noticed her three best friends sat in their usual corner, a suspect piece of old parchment on the table and a pair of footprints with her name on. They all turned to face her at the same time. Ron and Harry not even attempting to hide the fact they were scanning her entire body for the barest hint of something they could pin of her new Potions partner.

"I'm fine. Like I said earlier we just got on with the project. He was perfectly cordial to me."

"Malfoy doesn't know how to be cordial." Harry said through gritted teeth.

Hermione rolled her eyes at them before walking towards her dorm. "When you two feel like apologising you know where to find me."

"Really 'Mione? Because you're never here anymore. Where do we find you these days?"

Ignoring Harrys comment she slammed the door and walked into a dorm full of giggling girls. Hermione groaned inwardly, sleeping in the room of requirement had really been a luxury she didn't realise she had. Spending her nights with her boyfriend instead of four teenage girls was definitely a perk. Not having to listen to Lavender Brown tell their room mates about her sexual escapades with her best friend was also up there on the list. Getting into bed Hermione pulled out the Malfoy healing book for light reading before she closed the curtains in her four poster and set up a two way silencing charm as she settled down for the night.

 

Instead of going to the dungeons as he'd told Hermione he would Draco headed to the room of requirement. He stopped outside and paced three times as was custom to gain entrance. This time though he wouldn't be going into their room he was going to the room of hidden things. He really needed to get started on the task Voldemort had given him as soon as he could. He'd had three almost blissful ignorant days at the castle wresting his thoughts on being the one to kill the well loved headmaster but eventually came to the conclusion that he really didn't have a choice, he would just take as long as he could to do it. If he even found a way to do it. How do you even kill a wizard as great at Albus Dumbledore anyway?
Snape had tracked him down that afternoon and offered his assistance in the task saying he'd not tell a soul. He'd even played the godfather card. But Draco had brushed him off saying it was his task to do and he wouldn't let anyone else take credit. He'd really wanted to let his godfather help him. Heck, he had wanted nothing more than to shove the problem at the professor and run far away leaving him to deal with it alone. But he couldn't. Their master was expecting Draco to do this and he would know if he hadn't, his mother's dignity and life was at stake here he had to do this alone no matter how hard, to proved. Physically, mentally and emotionally. He was sure it was going to kill him. So sure.

So when Draco walked into the Room of Hidden Things barely minutes later he really wasn't sure what he was looking for. Or even why he was there. He'd never been in this particular room before, only heard of its existence through Hermione.
Walking through the room he noticed there didn't seem to be an end at all, no windows or walls were visible it was just full of strange, random or curious normal everyday objects. He noticed a grandfather clock that seemed to be going backwards in time though without numbers it had planets, a sword with a hilt covered in many sapphires sat atop a pile of old and dusty books, a rubber duck, a toilet seat, frightening looking stuffed animals, there was a whole desk and its contents cut in half, chair included. Draco carried on moving through the room hoping to catch a glimpse of something that might help, there were more and more books the deeper he got. A strange looking goblet not unlike the one used the year before for the Triwizard tournament, a very large stove, a cabinet that looked very familiar and many Wizarding wireless'.

It took him a few moments to remember the cabinet before he turned around and walked back towards it to inspect it. It looked exactly the same as the one he had seen in Borgin & Burkes when he had gone on business with his father. He'd asked when he was younger what was so special about the cabinet, everything in that store had to be special. He had been told it was a vanishing cabinet and that it had a twin. Borgin hadn't know the whereabouts of the twin though which had made it a difficult sell for the wizard and thus meaning the cabinet was still stood in the mans shop. Draco remembered that the cabinets acted as a sort portal to one another, providing both twin cabinets were working a witch or wizard could transport between them easily. They had been very popular during the First Wizarding War he remembered.

As Draco looked over the cabinet he could see it was clearly in need of a lot of repairing. He tried casting various spells to help but they didn't even touch the object. He shouldn't have been shocked at that and he was actually relieved. If it was broken that gave him more time. He took the next hour to look over the portal and note down anything he could find that was wrong before he headed to his dorm for the first night in three days. The next morning he would send word to Borgin and ask for his help in fixing the cabinet and then he would work on it whenever he and Hermione worked on their Potions project as she would be staying in her dorm those nights to prove to Potter and the Weasel that he hadn't hurt her he thought angrily.

As he stepped into his dorm he noticed Theo was the only one still awake, he saw his friend cast a silencing charm before he spoke to him.

"So did her guard dogs turn up?"

"Quidditch practice." Draco replied in explanation. "I'm positive that they would have though. Wouldn't have helped them either as she's already fell out with them."

"What did they do now?"

"At a guess I'd say it was about yours truly, she didn't say as much. Didn't have to. I saw them this morning after she got my letter."

"Well you could have been less of a prick in it." Theo supplied.

"I had to be believable. How do you think they'd react if I wasn't a prick to her?"

"Potter knows. I'm sure of it."

"Yes Hermoine said the same, she thinks he's pretending it's not true. Weasel however has no clue and I'd like to keep it that way so yes it was necessary to be a prick to her."

"Well just watch it."

"I know what I'm doing. How's your project going new best friend of the Chosen One?" He joked.

"Urgh. Don't start. It's alright for you you get to work with your sweet little Gryffindor girlfriend. I on the other hand have to put up with her idiot of a best friend. We're developing something to cure acne. Or trying to. That's the plan anyway."

"How's Loony these days?" Draco asked trying his best to rile his friend.

"I don't know, how's your mission?" Theo shot back looking him square in the eye.

"Touché Theo touché."

Sighing Theo lay back on his pillow looking up at the top of his bed before replying without looking at his friend.

"She's fucking perfect that's what she is and she has no idea I exist and even if she did what would she see in me anyway? Who wants to be with the son of a Death Eater?"

"Hermione. She went one better though, actually is with a Death Eater."

"Yeah and she's a fucking idiot for it too. I like her don't get me wrong but she can do better."

"I know" Draco answered resignedly. "But she won't leave. I tried and she won't and now I can't be without her so I'm going to be selfish and hold on for as long as I can because she makes everything better."

"It can't end good. For either of you. You know that don't you?"

"I do. But I'm hoping it doesn't end at all. Ever." Draco said in a small voice.

"Mushy bastard" Theo muttered.

"Your calling me mushy and you started the whole thing off because you're afraid of rejection from a girl."

"She's not just any girl."

"Then ask her out before someone else does."

"She'd be stupid to say yes."

"Hermione did."

"Like i said, stupid."

Draco rolled his eyes before turning to his friend one last time. "Look Theo I'm going to be honest now, I'm sick of hearing about Luna from you and I'm sick of hearing Hermione moan about Luna going on about you. Just pull your shit together and ask her out so my girlfriend can put her mouth to good use."

"You should be so lucky, you're dating Hermione Granger mate."

"And therefore already the lucky one." Draco replied before turning back to his bed and they both went to sleep for the night

Chapter Text

The rest of the month passed by in a haze of their new found routine, Monday's, Wednesday's and Thursday's Draco and Hermione would meet in the library just as they had that first evening. Their project was really coming along quite well now and all they had to do was harvest their ingredients and brew the actual potion, which evidently was a time consuming task in itself since a full moon was involved in both of the stages. Thankfully they still had another two of those to go before their deadline. They of course also had to write their findings after the potion was used, document each and every step and the results they got.

Professor Slughorn was a much talked about teacher for both good and bad reasons, he was well liked if a little biased but also probably just as equally hated by the likes of Ron and Pansy who were not getting along at all. In fact none of their friends expected them to come close to brewing anything since they couldn't sit for any length of time together. Lavender, who had been paired with Blaise was not happy about Ron's partner and would make a show of 'possession' whenever Pansy was around although this only seemed to humour the Slytherin girl more and brought out her house qualities, showing their classmates the real reason she'd been sorted into Slytherin.

It had been just the week before when Pansy went into the boys' dorms to collect a book she'd lent Theo. It was lunch time so she wasn't expecting anyone to be around, growing boys and all. When she had walked into the dorm she noticed one of the beds' curtains were drawn, thinking nothing of it she walked over to Theo's bedside table and started to look for her book when she heard the very telling sounds of Blaise having sex. He wasn't quiet in the bedroom, everyone in the dungeons (and perhaps the whole school) knew that and more often than not he either forgot to put a silencing charm in place or purposely didn't do it to piss off his dorm mates. That afternoon Pansy had guessed he didn't think he'd be interrupted. When she finally found what she was looking for, not even bothering to be quiet about it and feeling shocked that whoever Blaise was shagging in there hadn't heard her; Pansy gathered her things and moved towards the door when she heard the very distinct moans of Lavender Brown. Unfortunately after having to watch and hear Lavender with Ron for the past few months she was all too familiar with the witches disgusting moans. Stopping dead in her tracks Pansy wasn't sure what to do, she wanted nothing more than to pull down those blasted curtains and and ask her friend what he was doing fucking that tramp but the Slytherin in her told her to this information could really be useful to her. After standing there for a few seconds Pansy decided to let them know she'd heard them. There was no point blackmailing the witch if Lavender would think Pansy was just reaching.

In the end Pansy had decided to drop her book and knock over a lamp, sure to cause a loud enough commotion that the others would hear. And they did of course, stopping almost immediately with shouts of 'Fuck!' 'Damn it' and her personal favourite 'Sweet Salazar'. The latter coming from the Gryffindor witches mouth.

Excusing herself and pretending not to look at Blaise's bed Pansy had set about clearing everything up as frantically as she could and upon standing came face to face with the blonde slut. Of course the disgusting thing had tried to make her excuses but what excuse could there be?! Pansy backed out of the dorm and walked away with a bigger smile on her face than she'd had for a while. She really hated working with the Weasel and she promised that one day she would get Slughorn back for what he was doing to her and her friends. Though she noted Draco did seem to be getting on okay with his partner and Blaise was clearly enjoying his time with the loose blonde. Even Theo seemed to be amenable to Potter these days. It suddenly dawned on her that it was probably just her having problems. Very peculiar.

"Oh Blaise I thought you had better taste than that slut. Are you really that desperate to win a fucking bet? You're disgusting!" She had said before turning around and walking out the door.

Pansy had gone about her business has normally as possible, she completely pretended nothing had happened, luring the blonde into a false sense of security. She bided her time, didn't even retaliate when the Ron and Lavender show become even more unbearable than usual. And of course she kept tabs on the witch and her Potions partner, both it seemed were still more than keen to continue with their trysts despite having been caught and called out on it.

She was currently sat in the library facing Ron, they were supposed to be working on their potion, something that would help witches and wizards who suffered allergies. It wasn't anywhere near as complex as what Draco had told her he was doing but even still, and with a incompetent partner nonetheless, she was relieved at the outcome. Especially considering how little time they had actually worked on it together. Both equally as to blame for being difficult when arranging time to work together.
Watching Lavender drape her arms around the gingers shoulders from behind and kissing him in a very inappropriate way sickened her so much that she couldn't keep her mouth shut any longer.

"We're trying to work here Brown, surely even a harlot like you can see that? If you don't mind, I'd really rather not fail this class and have to repeat it next year with only your ginger Weasel for company. As much as the time we spend together is just riveting, I'd prefer to be with people who have more than a handful or brain cells." Pansy drawled sarcastically.

"She's just jealous Won-Won don't listen to anything she says. You can't trust Slytherin's." She replied before kissing him one last time and walking away.

At that Pansy couldn't help but laugh. The slutty Gryffindor who couldn't keep her knickers on had called her untrustworthy! And to top it off she'd not even noticed the insult thrown at her, in fact neither had her boyfriend, that or he just didn't care. Merlin the girl was dumber than she looked!

oOoOoOo

Draco had heard back from Borgin within three days of owling him and had set to work immediately. It was going to be a time consuming task that would take a lot of magic to fix. It would relieve the burden immensely if he had a fully trained witch or wizard to help but that was a luxury he did not have. A letter had arrived a couple of weeks prior stating he was now on a deadline to get his job finished. He had until the school broke up for the end of the year to get this done. The threat of what would happen if he failed remained unsaid but not unheard.

Draco had continued to go to the Room of Hidden Things each night after spending hours in the library with Hermione, the nights they didn't work on their potion they spent together in their room doing their homework, enjoying their special dates that Draco still insisted they did and just being together before sleeping over. His friends, dumb as they were, had finally noticed that he hadn't slept in his bed in a long time and we're starting to ask questions. Of course he just brushed them off with excuses about having a job to do and that he mustn't fail the Dark Lord (Gods how he despised that term!) which left them sufficiently satisfied. Well all of them that is except Theo who seemed to be very worried about his best friend and would insist any chance he got that what Draco and Hermione were doing could never end well and how he should just end it now before it was too late. Didn't the idiot not realise it was already too late? He was going to hell anyway, might as well keep sinning and find what little peace he could in her.

Hermione wasn't very happy with going back to her dorm on those nights but she knew that if she didn't Ron would pull the map out looking for them both. Though neither he nor Harry had apologised to her over her meetings with Draco she still managed to keep a straight enough face to prove to them he hadn't hurt her before she would stalk off to her dorm room and throw up a two sided silencing charm so nobody could hear her tears. She hated being in that room. She felt so lost. Even her own friends were barely talking to her these days (though it was their own fault) all she had was Draco, Ginny and Luna. And probably, if she bothered or had time to try, Theo too.

On one of those nights, unable to sleep, Hermione pulled on her dressing gown and slippers before grabbing her healing book and heading down to the common room. It was 3am and late enough that nobody should be in there now so she crept past the other girls' beds and made her way down the stairs.
Upon arriving she found Harry and Ron huddled together in the corner, she knew them both well enough to know when they were up to something and figuring it had something to do with Draco and their obsession with him being a Death Eater she decided to clear her throat so that they would hear her.

"Er 'Mione what are you doing up?"

"I should ask you two the same thing. At least I look like I've tried to sleep. You two haven't even changed yet." She pointed out with a look towards their clothes.

"What do you care? You don't even bother with us any more. Too busy off with Malfoy doing some stupid assignment." Ron spat at her.

Sighing heavily Hermione looked at her friends before answering. "You're right I don't care. I don't care that you two are so obsessed with him being a Death Eater that you're not bothering to even do your homework. I don't care that you seem to be stalking him or that you're blindly following advise in an old book full of spells and potions that we have no idea about" she said as she eyed the book, old piece of parchment and invisibility cloak on the table behind them "and I don't care that my two best friends are walking around the castle at 3am where they could get caught up in any manner of things. You two know that better than anyone!" She said sternly. "I've seen his arms. There isn't a mark on him." She technically wasn't lying. The concealment charm he used had worked really well.

"Don't bring the Half Blood Prince into this Hermione." Harry said.

"Did you learn nothing Harry? Remember when Ginny had Riddle's diary? It could be dangerous!" She raged.

"That diary was full of dark magic-" he began.

"And for all you know so is that book. I had thought you of all people would have more sense than to put faith in something like that!"

"It's just a book!" Harry shot back, his voice rising higher as he become more angry.

"And he'd be bloody mental to get rid of it as well." Ron added. "Come on Harry let's go before we miss him."

"Miss who?" Hermione asked, worried about the answer.

"If you must know, Malfoy. I know you don't believe he's a Death Eater Hermione but he's acting strange and he's out of bed at 3am."

"As are you." Hermione pointed out.

"Yeah, well we're not acting dodgy." Ron said defensively.

"No, walking around the castle in the middle of the night under a invisibility cloak, with an enchanted map and a book with a strange manner of written instructions in doesn't seem dodgy at all." She said before turning around and walking back to her dorm.

"Hermione wait!" Harry shouted hoping she would listen to him one last time since this was important. When he noticed her stop near the door but refusing to turn and face him he carried on. "I need to talk to you. Both of you" He continued looking at Ron sceptically before continuing "It's important. It's about the meetings with Dumbledore. It's time you both knew what was going on."

Hermione stiffened at his words and turned to face him "Then let's talk now Harry, nobody is here. It's quiet and we're all awake."

"No Hermione I am following Malfoy. You can hate that as much as you want but you can't stop me. Hogsmeade Saturday? We can go to the Shrieking Shack for privacy."

"Sure." She replied coldly before retreating back to her bed for the second time that night.

oOoOoOo

It was the Hogsmeade weekend before Valentine's Day and many of the students were leaving the castle, Hermione had told Draco she planned to go with Ginny and Luna since she still was not on the best terms with her male counterparts but since Thursday night she now had to squeeze them both in. She still wasn't happy with them. Far from it but she had too listen to this since she was certain it had to do with Voldemort. And since Draco had no inclination to battle the crowds around Honeydukes or the Three Broomsticks he decided he would spend his afternoon working on the vanishing cabinet before he spent the night with his girlfriend. He'd actually purchased Hermione's gift more than a month ago though he had no idea what to do for the night itself, he had no need to go to Hogsmeade and even if he did it would just draw unnecessary attention along with the inevitable; "Who are the chocolates for Malfoy?" "Aww has our Draco got himself a girlfriend? Why haven't we heard about her before? She's not a half blood is she?" He could almost hear the snickering at the last question. Imagine what they'd think if they knew he was dating a muggle born. A Mudblood.

That Friday night Hermione made her way to their room as soon as she finished eating. She was desperate to know why Draco had been out of bed so late and asking Harry or Ron was useless, they'd either not know or make up some story to fit their theory. The problem was that Hermione worried they might actually be right. She knew he'd been given a mission by Voldemort, she knew he didn't have a choice and if it was something he had to do inside the castle she could only assume there was no other Death Eater to take his place. She knew it must have been an important task but had been afraid of asking in case she found out the answer. There was no doubt it was highly dangerous. Voldemort wasn't exactly the kind of man who cared about his followers or how old (or young as it was in this case) they were. As long as they feared him enough to get the job done right that's all that mattered.

When Draco arrived that evening she could tell almost instantly he was barely sleeping and instead of immediately doing their homework like they usually would she forced him to sit on the couch for a while where she mentioned what had happened with Harry and Ron the night before. She'd suspected he'd known Harry was following him and he did, he explained the reason he was out of bed was because of the mission but she never pressed further. Hoping that if she was there enough for him then one day he would tell her when he was ready. Part of her hoped that day would be soon because he really did look a mess but part of her wanted to stay oblivious to whatever it was because there was no way it would be good. Eventually they went and started their homework when it became obvious he wasn't going to sleep and when she got tired they moved to the couch together lay in the safety of each other's arms.

Waking the next morning with a mouthful of stray curls and an armful of beautiful witch, Draco managed to put all thoughts of Voldemort and his headmaster aside in favour of enjoying the warmth his girlfriends body was giving him. It was something he was still not quite used to and hoped he never would be. Not when it came to her. They still spent their nights on the old worn couch in front of the fire, more often than not falling asleep reading to one another, though they did start to carry their bed clothes in their bags with them as sleeping in a school uniform was just too uncomfortable.

Neither of them had broached the idea of asking the room for a bed, Draco not wanting Hermione to think he was pressuring her into anything and Hermione worrying about moving too fast. Even if they had been together since Halloween and spent near every night since September together, sharing a bed had seemed like something they couldn't come back from. A deeper commitment to each other. Another step further into not being able to walk away. Though had either of them been completely honest with themselves they would have known they were already in much deeper than they realised.

Hermione had been pleasantly shocked to discover Draco was still a virgin. Most of the pureblood boys, and especially the Slytherin's, liked to flaunt themselves about the place. Sleeping with as many witches as they could. She was sure some of them were actually having a competition to see who could bed (or broom closet as was more likely) the most girls. Though she had no idea what the prize was. Unplanned pregnancy? Chlamydia? AIDS? Did the Wizarding world even have STDs? Even if they did they could probably fix the more simpler ones easily enough with a quick potion but she was sure contracting something more severe would still hold consequences regardless of how much magic they had. Stupid boys. She only hoped all parties involved protected themselves to the fullest extent.

Their physical relationship hadn't gotten much past heavy petting during some very heated moments. It wasn't like Hermione was saying no but it seemed that Draco would pull back from her the moment things might go 'too far'. It was really starting to make her frustrated and she often wondered if he found her physically attractive at all. Maybe that was his issue? Deciding to put her theory to the test that morning she pulled all of her Gryffindor courage together and started to initiate more intimate contact.

When Draco nuzzled into her neck and pulled her body closer to his waking her from her slumber, Hermione smiled. It really was the best way to wake up. She turned to face him letting him kiss her forehead as he did every time they spent the night together.

"Morning beautiful." He said sleepily. She looked at him and wondered if he had even slept at all. It really didn't look like it. It seemed to be becoming a pattern lately and she was really starting to worry about him.

"Morning." She replied with a small yawn and stretched out as best she could in the little space they had. "You know Draco we really should ask the room for a bed considering how often we stay here. As much as I love sleeping on this couch with you, and I do, it's just not big enough for the two of us to fit comfortably." Of course she also hoped him being in a actual bed would help him sleep. She realised he probably had never slept on a couch before considering all the riches his family had. And a bit more intimacy wouldn't hurt either.

"Yeah I think you're probably right Love." He replied sounding defeated.

Hermione didn't miss his tone or the way he looked at her with obvious concern in his eyes. Kissing him softly on the lips and resting her hand against the side of his face before she replied, "You don't sound too pleased at the prospect of sharing a bed with me." She observed.

At her words Draco looked taken aback. He hadn't wanted to hurt her, damn it that was the whole point in why he wasn't rushing into bed with her. He wanted to protect her. Protect her from everything. Even himself. But he was also selfish and he wanted her even more. Needed her. "Sharing a bed with you is at the top of the list of things I really want to do." He admitted.

"They why don't you seem happier about it? Is this about sharing a bed or is it about sex? Do you even find me attractive Draco?" Hermione asked, trying but failing to sound confident.

Draco pulled back slightly to get a better look at her, wanting to double check he'd heard her right. In that moment he saw how vulnerable she looked and it pained him. How could she think he didn't find her attractive? How could she not see what she did to him every time he saw her? She was absolutely the most beautiful witch he'd ever met! He was mentally kicking himself for her insecurities. He really should have shown her how he felt a bit more but the truth was he was scared. Scared of rejection, scared of pushing too far, scared of getting too close. Scared, more than anything, of losing her. Even if losing her was probably the best thing for both of them.

Taking her face in his hands he turned her so she was forced to look him directly in the eyes. "Hermione. My Love, please never doubt how I feel about you. You are certainly the most gorgeous witch I've ever met. Just thinking about you does things to me that I'm not ashamed to admit." He noticed her cheeks flush at that and stopped to take a moment to appreciate how attractive it was on her. "Please forgive my reluctance for jumping into bed with you, I was merely afraid of moving too fast and the possibility I might push you too far and lose you." He said before kissing her hard and deep.

When they broke apart Hermione, looking somewhat bashful for thinking he hadn't wanted her in that way, let her hands trail down to his hips and across the hem of his shirt. "You're forgiven" she replied. "But you know, we can share a bed without doing anything we wouldn't normally do." She pointed out.

"I'm afraid I might not be able to control myself if I have you all to myself in a bed Love." Draco admitted.

"Would it be such a bad thing? Losing control? We've been together over three months Draco, we're hardly rushing things. What if I wanted you to lose control?" She replied moving her hand down south, trailing her fingers across his thighs.

Stiffening at her touch, feeling himself becoming harder than be realised was possible, Draco felt her fingers touch him through the soft silk of his pyjama bottoms. Just the small layer of fabric keeping her from feeling him completely. He felt goosebumps rise across his skin as she moved to the inside of his thigh and worked her way up in what he deemed an agonisingly slow pace. Gulping back he finally managed to answer. "Don't say something you might regret." He replied feebly.

Hermione moved closer so her lips were right by his ear before she replied, her fingers still making work on his thighs. "Oh I've been thinking about it for a while now. I think we both know I won't regret it."

Her husky voice and hot breath against his ear would have been enough to have him become putty in her hands even before her fingers lightly brushed against his hard length. Not once but twice before she finally let her fingers trail along it, much as she had with his thighs.

"Fuck!" He whispered before recanting what Hermione suspected was old Quidditch scores.

"Everything okay love?" She asked sweetly, removing her hand just after pressing her palm into him and feeling him properly.

He continued to mutter the scores, eyes closed for another couple of minutes whilst Hermione lay watching him, a satisfied smirk across her face.

"Oh I'm so going to get you back for this." He warned.

"I'm all yours Malfoy."

Draco groaned before leaning down and kissing her, allowing himself to lightly and then not so lightly, graze his hand across her breast before he pulled away. Satisfied when she pouted at the loss of his mouth on hers. And probably at the loss of his hands touching her breasts. Gods he wanted to carry on.

"Mine." He agreed. "Just not right now." He said reluctantly.

"Why not? Now is as good a time as any and your body doesn't seem to be rejecting the idea either." She said as she reached out to touch him again.

"Because I will not have sex with my beautiful girlfriend who I Lo.....care for deeply" He corrected, though he had no doubts of his feelings he did doubt whether she would return them and being a Slytherin was all about self preservation. So he reworded his sentence and carried on hoping she hadn't noticed but knowing full well that nothing got past Hermione Granger. "and then scramble around looking for our clothes before we have to rush off to breakfast and go about our day pretending we hate one another."

"You won't?" She asked half amused and half surprised.

"No, when we inevitably do it it will be when I can spend the night with you in my arms. Making sure you're okay. Relishing in your beauty. Making you feel as special as I can. I mean, it won't be perfect, we're both virgins, it's going to hurt you and I probably won't last very long, not if you continue torturing me like this, but I'll do my best to make it as memorable and beautiful as you are."

Hermione smiled and reached up to touch his cheek before kissing him lightly. "Who would have thought the big bad death eater Draco Malfoy was such a romantic eh?" She joked before they both got up and dressed for breakfast.

oOoOoOo

Hermione met with Harry and Ron at the Gryffindor table in the great hall and after promising Ginny and Luna she would track them down for the rest of the day the three of them made their way out of the castle gates after filling themselves up on breakfast. When they got a far enough distance away from the other students Harry pulled out the invisibility cloak and threw it over the three of them, forcing them to crouch since they were getting too big to fit under it comfortably any more, and they headed to the Shrieking Shack without anyone any the wiser. Once inside Harry didn't beat about the bush and sat them both down before he began.

"Right erm well so you two know this is about my meetings with Dumbledore and I think it's about time you know what's been going on. Dumbledore has been taking me into old memories of his to gather information of Voldemort-" At that name he noticed Ron's face turn white and a clearly pained expression cross him, ignoring his friends obvious discomfort he carried on. "Dumbledore told me that he believes Voldemort planned on using Horcruxes to keep him alive." He stopped then wanting to see if either of his friends would react, this was the darkest magic he had ever heard of and he was certain that Ron would not know what they were but he wasn't so sure about Hermione. Sometimes he wondered if she had read the whole damn library and since he knew Riddle found the original book in the restricted section of Hogwarts' library he wouldn't assume to know her knowledge on this.

Ron's face, predictably had remained impassive, he obviously had no idea how awful the implications of Harry's statement had been. Whilst Ron's face had remained blank Hermione's had lost what colour she had, her pupils had dilated and Harry could clearly see fear in her eyes. Looking down to her hands he saw her knuckles were as white as her face and shaking. "No!" She half whispered, half screamed. "No! Please no. Harry tell me he didn't make one of those things!" She pleaded with him.

Harry didn't really know what to do, he was glad he had her there to help explain the seriousness of this to Ron but a huge part of him really wished none of them had EVER had to learn about this sort of thing. Unable to look into the amber eyes of his best friend he moved his gaze to the floor in front of him before her answer. "No. He didn't make one-" He said and saw her visibly relax for just a split second before he finished his sentence. "He made seven."

If Hermione's behaviour before had been worrying then that was nothing compared to now. She sat still, staring ahead, not looking or seeing. Her hands tightened into fists and trying desperately to control her breathing. Eventually she turned to look at him and, with the same half whisper, half scream she had used befire said "SEVEN?!?"

"I know 'Mione" He replied defeatedly. "We've already found two. The diary, Riddle's diary. Dumbledore said when I gave it to him he knew right away something was off with it. I destryed the Horcrux inside it when I stabbed it with the Basilisk Fang. That was what made him realise Riddle had made Horcruxes and I've seen the memories. He definitely intended to do it seven times."

"Whoa hold on there a minute, will one of you mind telling me what the bloody fuck a Horcrux is?" Ron demanded.

Harry looked at Hermione and nodded once.

"A Horcrux is a form of dark magic-" Harry began.

"The darkest kind of magic." Hermione corrected.

"Well, yeah. I guess it is." He agreed. "Anyway, when a dark witch or wizard doesn't want to die, like ever, there are ways of keeping immortal, as we know from our first year." He continued.

"The darkest and most physically damaging way to do that is to split the soul in half."

"Wait, you're saying Riddle split his soul in to seven?" Ron asked his face turning green just at the thought.

"No, actually he would have split his soul in to half seven times." Hermione stated.

"Merlin, that's even worse!" Harry and Hermione nodded their heads solemnly at his words. "So what happens, how do you make a Horcrux?"

"The most inhumane act of all is the only way to do it." Harry replied.

"Killing" It wasn't a question, Ron didn't need to ask.

"When he killed, a part of his soul would transfer to an object of his choice at the time." Harry said trying his best to continue with the story.

"So, if these things are keeping him alive, you say there is seven, you're sure there's seven?" Ron asked looking up at his best friend. All Harry could do was nod. "And two have been found the diary and-"

"A ring, once belonging to the Gaunt's. Riddle's paternal family. Dumbledore found it and destroyed it." Harry added.

"So two are destroyed, we have to the find the other five that are keeping him alive before this war can end? If the prophecy was true, and we all know it was, you need to be the one to kill him. Something you can't do without destroying every bit of his soul first." Ron was really started to look worried now. He'd known for a long time that it was always going to be his best friend facing of that psychopath but right now it looked like Harry had no hope.

"I'm still working with Dumbledore to find them. I think he's close to a third. He say's he will take me with him when he finds it."

After that the three of them sat for a while pouring over notes about how crazy Voldemort really was and trying to come up with ideas what the other five Horcruxes could be before they decided to get out and enjoy what they had left of the day. Before Hermione could leave the two boys Harry puled her aside and apologised for his recent behaviour, promising to be a better friend.

"Hermione?" He said pulling her to him as she was about to walk off.

"What's up Harry?" She asked icily.

"Look I'm sorry okay. I went too far. What you do with your time and who you do it with shouldn't be any of my business but I love you and I worry about you."

Hermione wasn't sure if he was admitting he knew who her boyfriend even was but decided to play along anyway. "You have no need to worry Harry I can look after myself."

"I know, I've seen you when you're angry." He joked.

Her brow furrowed at that, was he referring to the time she punched Draco back in third year?

"Look I'll talk to Ron okay, maybe get him to calm down a bit if it helps." He offered.

"I doubt it will work but thank you Harry, it means a lot." She said before hugging him goodbye and waving to Ron as she walked towards the village to find Ginny and Luna.

Chapter Text

"Mione please you have to help me with this, all you have to do is pass this message on to Nott-"

"Theo" Hermione corrected.

"Theo then, whatever. Just pass this message on to him and get him to meet us in the class room at the end of the sixth floor corridor."

"A class room that never gets used." She mused out loud.

"Well I hardly think them getting caught will help any of us will it?" Ginny scoffed before continuing. "Please 'Mi it's driving me insane. All the doe eyes and giggling and Merlin, if she mentions his forget me nots just one more time I might actually jump off my broom!"

"All right all right I'll pass the message on. Can't promise he'll be there and I have plans with my own boyfriend so don't expect me to help forcing him either." Hermione sighed. She was just as sick of it as Ginny was, more so probably since she also had to hear from Draco how Theo was going on so much. Really, if the two didn't sort themselves out soon Hermione was worried they might just spontaneously combust.

It had been just the day before when the three girls had been at the library together and Draco and Theo had walked in. Hermione had planned to meet Draco to continue with their Potions assignment but her friends had decided to tag along. They ended up all sitting on one table together. It would probably draw much suspicions but since it wasn't exactly new to see Hermione and Draco together in the library they figured they could get away with it. The five had spent a couple of quiet peaceful and ultimately awkward hours doing homework while Theo and Luna kept staring at each other. And they were not very subtle about it either.

After a while Theo had gotten up to find a new book for reference, or so he'd said. Maybe he just needed to breathe some air without his heart feeling like it was about to beat right out of his chest since Luna was sat right across from him. He'd hardly done any work, it was difficult when he could smell the lavender and mint that he knew was all her. It assaulted all his senses except for his sight. That was just for her eyes. Her beautiful eyes as blue as the sky. Taking a couple of minutes to breathe deep he stood up to walk around the library before he embarrassed himself like he had the last time he'd spoken to her. Draco's advise was still lingering in his mind "Just pull your shit together and ask her out" He'd started looking at book titles as he calmed down a bit when he her heard gentle footsteps coming up behind him. He didn't even need to turn around, something inside him told him it was her and immediately he went stiff again. Gods, was he ever going to be able to act like a normal human when she was around?

"Hello Theodore" he heard her say in that enchantingly dreamy voice of hers that made his insides melt. Slowly he turned to face her, still breathing deep, and managed to reply, "Please, call me Theo." He insisted, praying to Merlin he sounded infinitly more confident than he felt.

Luna smiled at him then, he knew it wasn't rare for her, she always seemed to have something to smile about but this time it was different. This time her eyes sparkled when the corners of her mouth twitched up and her cheeks took on a slight pink blush. Oh how he loved that blush and wanted to see it again. Then he realised, this smile, the one that could warm hearts (and probably break them too) this was for him. He managed to smile back at her then, though probably a very shy and crooked smile but a smile nonetheless.

"Theo" she eventually breathed. "And you must call me Luna of course. Especially since our friends are so captivated by one another, I imagine we'll be seeing a lot more of each other."

"Yeah I guess so....Luna" he tested. Hearing her say his name was like a siren call to him, being able to say hers was like coming home. "Erm....are you looking for anything in particular Luna?" He asked feeling the awkwardness again.

"Not really. I wanted to go for a walk, those chairs are so uncomfortable and Ginny insisted I should come talk to you. What about you?"

"Oh Erm no not really. Just needed to get away for a minute I guess."

"Get away from me?" Luna asked him, her voice not changing from its previous dreamy state. He wondered if it ever did.

Theo was suddenly overcome with more awkwardness and didn't know where to look. She was right of course and they both knew it. "Erm...it's not...you know-"

"Well Goyle, what do we have here eh? Nott's hiding in a hidden part of the library with a little Bookworm. Sure his daddy would love to hear all about this." His dorm mate Crabbe interrupted.

Rolling his eyes Theo shifted his body and stood in front of Luna before turning to his attention to his so called friends. "Well, it only took you boys, what? Six years? But you did it, you finally found the library. Congratulations! Now I know neither of you know how to read but that shouldn't stop you from trying so here have a go at this" he replied before shoving a very complicated book about Ancient Runes in his arms.

"First we see Malfoy happily hanging around that mudblood Granger all the time and you with Potter and now you're off getting cosy in the library with a bookworm. Do your daddies know what you're doing?" Goyle sneered.

"One, Malfoy is working with Granger because he has no choice. The same with me and Potter. Something that you both know since you're in that class. Fucking idiots. Two, she has a name and it's certainly not 'bookworm' it's Lovegood. I'd appreciate it if you called her that instead of insulting her while she's stood right here."

"Lovegood? Isn't she the girl that was at the Department of Mysteries last summer? Aww did Theo's daddy try to kill you Looney?" Crabbe asked turning his attention to the blonde girl standing just behind Theo.

"No idea. Didn't get a chance to see anyone. Masks you know. If he did he didn't do a very good job did he? I imagine he's not a very good Death Eater since he was fooled by six children." She replied nonchalantly. She really didn't seem phased by any of the conversation at all.

Theo smirked at her answer and, without thinking, grabbed her hand with his, entwining their fingers together.

"You really going to let her talk about your father like that?" Goyle asked.

"Why not? I'd actually call that polite. She's not wrong. He did do a piss poor job of killing her. He did a piss poor job on Christmas night too. He's a fucking evil cunt and yet he's still a terrible Death Eater." Theo replied as if they were talking about the weather. "Come on Luna we're not listening to these two pricks any longer." He said before turning away and pulling her with him.
It was only when they turned into another aisle of books that Theo realised he was holding her hand. It had felt so natural to just grab it he hadn't even noticed.

"Shit! Oh...Erm I'm sorry I didn't mean to do that they just pissed me off that's all. I didn't like the way they spoke to you." He said as he dropped her hand and started to panic again.

Instantly he noticed the loss of her fingers entwined with his own and it made him feel like a part of him was missing. All of a sudden a blast of cold air came over him that he knew wouldn't be settled without holding her again and he briefly started to wonder what it would be like to kiss her if just holding her hand felt that good before he shook his head and excused himself back to their friends.

He was right he told Draco that night, he had made a mess of things.

oOoOoOo

With Ginny's plan in order Hermione let her send a message to Draco via her coin.

'Get Theo to room 615 tomorrow after the Valentine's feast. It's an old classroom not in use. I have a plan to sort this mess out. Don't ask. Just do. Gin.'

'Erm okay. I'll do my best. Why are you using Hermione's coin? I feel slightly violated now that a Weasley just made my chest vibrate. D'

'Bet you loved it too. Just passing a message along you can have her back now. I'm off to bed. Goodnight. Gin.'

'Erm yeah, goodnight then. I suppose. D'

'Sorry about that she didn't give me much choice. I think she likes you. H'

'A Weasley likes a Malfoy?! I think of our her ancestors just turned in their graves. Wait until her brother finds out. D'

'Oh don't remind me! I'm going to sleep now. See you in the morning xxx'

'Goodnight love, Happy Valentine's Day xxxx'

'It's not Valentine's yet you idiot x'

'It's gone midnight. It's Valentine's. I'll see you tomorrow. Can't wait to give you your gift. X'

'See you tomorrow x'

The next morning was a Friday and as it was Valentine's Day near enough everyone got to breakfast early to wait and watch the owl post arrive, often a spectacular scene on this day. Most of the girls loved seeing who got what. There always seemed to be a bit of a competition over who got the best gifts.
Hermione woke up early, excited for her first Valentine's with a boyfriend but expecting nothing as she knew he would give her her present later that night after the feast. She washed and dressed quickly then went down in to the common room and was met with a flurry of activity. Gryffindor's loved to celebrate almost anything and Valentine's was not left out. All she saw was couples everywhere, the room was a buzz in pinks, reds and whites. Heart garlands and flower petals were strewn over any surface possible and the amount of glitter was unreal. Girls were squealing in delight, Lavender especially. Looking over to the corner her and her friends usually occupied Hermione saw Harry sat on a chair with Ginny curled into his lap participating in what was, for them at least, a very public display affection. And yet they still weren't as bad as Ron and Lavender she thought as she walked towards the door before exiting to the castle. She was still rather early so decided to walk slower than normal knowing her friends would catch her up in a couple of minutes. She wasn't wrong.

"Hey 'Mione wait!" She heard Harry call out.

"Hello" She said smiling at him and Ginny. "Nice Valentine's Day?" She asked noticing the very kiss swelled lips of her two friends as they continued towards the great hall.

"You could say that" Ginny winked.

"No Ronald?"

"Er he's...-"

"With Lav Lav yes I saw. You do know I don't care who he's with don't you? Because you never seem comfortable talking about it around me. I have my own boyfriend you know."

"You just never seem comfortable when she's around Hermione." Harry replied.

"Yeah well that has more to do with the disgusting way they drape themselves all over each other than who she is. I mean there's a time and a place and when the whole school is eating is not it." She reasoned.

"So come on 'Mi, what's that super sexy boyfriend of yours got you on this fine day?" Ginny asked with a twinkle in her eye.

Hermione heard Harry groan she was really starting to get frustrated with him. Either he knew or he didn't. Why not just say?!

"Nothing. Well not yet anyway. We're exchanging later."

"Not even a bunch of flowers to wake up to?" Ginny asked.

"Nope" Hermione replied as they walked trough the doors.

"Doesn't seem like his style."

Hermione shook her head as they sat down at the Gryffindor table. She looked up and saw Draco and gave him a smile before she started filling her plate up. It was only a couple of minutes before Ron had joined them with Lavender by his side. He couldn't have had worse timing as the morning owls flew in only seconds after they sat down. Hermione and her friends didn't pay much attention to the post, none were expecting anything at all and so they missed it when in the midst of all the owls (and on Valentine's Day there always seemed to be so many more than usual) there seemed to be 8 owls helping carry one parcel.

At the sight of that most of the hall went into hushed whispers, wondering who on earth the owls could be delivering to. Hermione and her friends noticed the reaction around the hall and looked up to see what appeared to be a giant bouquet of roses and so far the owls had not stopped at anyone.

"Now that seems like his style." Ginny whispered loud enough for her friends to hear.

Hermione quickly looked over to the Slytherin table to see Theo smacking Draco across the back of his head. All the confirmation she needed. She turned her attention back to the owls who had now slowed somewhat, looking for their target. She tried to hide in her seat. She really did but it was useless and there wasn't even any room on the table for monstrosity they were carrying. It was simply too big. How Draco didn't think anyone would know it was him who sent them she had no clue. It was plainly obvious just looking at the flowers that whoever sent them had more money than sense.

Eventually the owls came to rest in front of her. Just as she knew they would and at that the whole hall went quiet while she, Ginny and Harry helped unload and feed them before sending them off again. This time on a much lighter flight. If Hermione had hoped that people would stop watching while they fiddled around with the birds she was wrong. It just seemed to attract more attention. Once the birds were gone she sighed and moved as much food as she could in order to place the bouquet in front of her. It was then that she was able to look at the bouquet properly. She noticed immediately that other than one rose, the one right in the middle which was as black as coal, the rest were a mixture of blood red and lily white. They really were beautiful roses. The black, she suspected was a representation of the night they became a couple, Halloween. She smiled at that, at the obvious thought he had put in to the flowers, just as he always did, even if he did go so far over the top it was ridiculous. Looking at the roses closely she tried to count them but there was just too many. Over 100, easily. Shaking her head and sighing, she sat back down determined to avoid all the glares and was about to start eating again when Ginny found the card attached and passed it to her.

On the front she saw the very familiar scrawl of her idiot boyfriend who she was seriously contemplating standing up tonight after all the embarrassment he had already caused which would no doubt follow her around for at least the rest of the day. Slowly she opened the envelope, knowing full well everyone was waiting to hear who they were off. Rumours about who her boyfriend was had been going around the gossip mill for a while now. This was certainly going to narrow down their field spectacularly.

Hermione,

Don't be mad. I know you don't like fuss but I wanted to spoil you and I don't get the chance to do so often. Not publicly anyway. There's a dozen roses for every week you've been mine. Starting from the night you agreed.

You better turn up tonight or I'll just repeat this until you relent. And we both know I'm not joking. Maybe I'll just repeat it anyway.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Yours, forever.

XxxxxX

 

Damn him! Ginny snatched the card from her hands while she tried desperately not to look his way and scowl at him. Instead she sat back down and continued to eat as if nothing had happened. If her view of Ron hadn't been blocked by the stupid, over compensating roses she would have seen the look on his face much sooner. When he moved into her line of sight his face wasn't far off being the same colour red as her roses and he was not at all happy.

"What the hell is this?!" He demanded.

"Flowers. From my boyfriend. It is Valentine's Day Ronald. It's what people do." She noticed the hall had seemed to go even quieter. How was that possible?!

"Is there any need in all of this?!" He shouted pointing at the sea of red and white roses.

"Something I plan to ask him myself I assure you."

"Who is he? He must be rich if he's spending that much on flowers. There must be 200 there."

"180 actually and I'm not ready to tell you who he is."

"You counted them? And why not? Is he scared?" She heard Draco and Theo's muffled laughter that. Clearly conversation carried well when everyone was too busy being nosy than to eat their breakfast.

"I didn't need to count them it was pretty obvious from his note. And no, he's not scared it's just private and I'd rather my private life stay the way it is. Announcing to the whole of Hogwarts who he is certainly won't help that."

"Yeah well now you just got them wondering even more and this" he said once again pointing to the flowers "isn't going to narrow the field down at all is it? There's not many in this school who could afford to waste money like that."

Hermione saw Harry was now reading the note over and glaring at Draco, if she had any doubts earlier she was sure now. He knew. Draco just glared back and waved. Luckily Ron was too busy shouting to notice their exchange. Shaking his head Harry looked away and went back to his food again before she heard Draco laughing really loudly. Ron of course didn't let that slide and his face twisted in anger as he turned to face the Slytherin table.

"Got something to say Malfoy?" He shouted.

Groaning inwardly Hermione tried to do her best to stop the situation getting out of hand and tried to get him to sit back down and eat his breakfast, even getting Lavender to help. He didn't even seem to notice the girls' efforts at all.

"Just laughing at something my friend said Weasel. Nothing for you to worry about. Now run along and continue your lovers spat with the pretty little Gryffindor princess over there because we were kind of enjoying the show."

If it was possible Ron went an even deeper shade of red, balling his hands into fists before he turned back to his own table. "Least one thing we know" he said loudly enough so the whole room could hear "you wouldn't date the fucking ferret." Unfortunately for Ron the room had also been full of professors and every one of them had heard his outburst. He'd been put into detention for the whole weekend. Much to Lavenders chagrin, she even tried to get Professor McGonagall to make Hermione have detention instead since 'she started it by getting those ridiculous flowers' but all their head of house did was banish Hermione's flowers to her room so they could continue to eat their meal and get to class.

The rest of the day, no matter where Hermione went all she heard was whispers, mainly from girls but it seemed even boys didn't seem to object to wanting to find out who her mystery man was, as he was now termed. Apparently it seemed before the flowers had arrived nobody had quite believed her when she had told Justin she had a boyfriend. Pansy Parkinson seemed to be the most shocked and didn't even bother with whispering her thoughts on the matter when Hermione was around.

"Really? Who the fuck would spend that much on her? Draco, you're friendly with her now. Ask her who it is."

"Hardly friendly, forced together to do classwork yes, friendly? Definitely not! Pansy, she wouldn't even tell Weasley who it was why would she tell me? Maybe she sent them to herself " she heard him suggest.

"Doubt she has that kind of money do you know what something like that would have cost? My guess is close to two hundred galleons."

"Hmm" she heard Draco muse.

She felt faint. Two hundred galleons?! Gods he was in for a telling off tonight! She felt the colour drain from her face and started to feel dizzy when she was saved by Professor McGonagall turning into the corridor, the woman's presence had always calmed her. They were currently standing outside their charms classroom waiting for Professor Flitwick to arrive when McGonagall had asked Hermione to follow her to her office, leaving a note for the other professor before she turned on her heels and left with Hermione right behind her.

Instantly Hermione was worried about what could make her head of house pull her out of class early. It had to be important. Had she changed her mind over what had happened at breakfast? No, she doubted that was it. Was there a problem with her school work? It was possible of course but she knew she was pushing herself as hard as she ever did. She doubted that was it either. Eventually they reached the older witches office, Hermione noted she must have had a free period or got her class covered so she could have this meeting, before she sat down in the chair her professor indicated to.
It must have been obvious she was worried as Professor McGonagall instantly handed her a tin of biscuits before she started to talk.

"There is nothing wrong with your school work Miss Granger, there's no need to panic. I had planned to talk to you this evening but after I saw that exquisite array of roses you received this morning I thought you might have plans." The older witch assure her.

"Exquisite is one word for it." Hermione said unable to stop her eyes from rolling at the memory of the ridiculously large bouquet.

"Well whoever he is is a lucky man. I hope he's treating you well."

"He is, can't say the same for me. After what happened at breakfast I'm close to making his life hell for a while." Hermione assured her professor with a smile.

"Deserved I say. Very well then, I didn't bring you here to talk about your love life Hermione, as I'm sure you're aware."

At the mention of her given name Hermione bristled. Given names were rarely used by professors unless, she had noticed recently, they were giving out bad news or being uncharacteristically affectionate. This was definitely not the latter.

"Right" she replied. Trying to wrack her mind for whatever could have been so important to pull her out of class. She had no family left to get bad news about. Everyone she loved was in the castle and she's just left the majority of them.

"There really is no easy way to go about this Hermione and I know that you're a smart girl who appreciates honesty so I'm not going to beat about the bush. This morning I received an owl with the contents of your parents' will, their estate has been settled and the gas company has admitted liability to a fault causing an explosion which the Ministry will be reimbursing them for. The muggle-goblin liaison who works these types of cases has sorted everything out for you and most of the money has been deposited into your Gringotts vault but they decided to leave some in your muggle bank too. Just in case you may need it available in the muggle world."

Whatever Hermione had been expecting this was not it. She had completely forgotten all about her parents' will in fact she didn't even know they one.

"Oh erm I wasn't aware they had a will." She stammered.

"They certainly did. Everything was left to you, of course. There was quite a bit of work to do but the liaison is happy they got a very good deal with the muggle banks and he says you will be able to live comfortably for the rest of your life. There is a copy of the statement in the letter which I shall give you before you leave."

Still dazed Hermione didn't know what to say. "Th-thank you." She whispered.

"There is one more thing Hermione" the witch said before pausing as she pulled out a box from her desk draw. Hermione would know that box from anywhere and gasped at the sight.

"But, I thought-"

"These were not in the house when the incident happened. The liaison managed to track them down to a jewellers when there was no evidence of such items at the scene." McGonagall clarified.

It was then it hit Hermione, every Christmas holiday her parents would send off their wedding rings and her fathers watch to a jewellers to be cleaned and cared for and the watch be retuned. It had once belonged to her grandfather and his father before him, maybe even his father too, she wasn't sure. A long held traditional family gift to pass on from father to son and her here she was, daughter and only child in possession of a family heirloom that she couldn't bare seeing unless it was attached to an arm.

She took the box and carefully opened the lid, wanting so much to see the three precious items that she knew lay inside. The only material things she had from her old life. From her parents. Running her fingers over the rings a small smile played on her lips as she remembered how happy her parents were together. The watch however, pained her to see. She just didn't want to look at it any more. It hurt too much and reminded her of how it never should have been hers in the first place. She closed the lid just as the tears rolled down her cheeks and she let out a long held need to cry.

Hermione spent the next twenty minutes with her favourite professor, crying, drinking pumpkin juice and eating biscuits before she left the office and headed for her dorm to change for the feast. Charms had been the last class of them day.

Chapter Text

Upon arriving back to her room Hermione had been greeted with the sight of the bouquet of roses that sat on her bed. It seemed that she had momentarily forgotten about Draco's lavishness from that morning as the sight assaulted her sight and smell. Shaking her head at the memory she stomped over to her bed before clearing away her bedside table and transfigured a vase, filling it with water and arranging the flowers as best she could. Taking the time to do so and keep her thoughts away from the meeting she had just had with her head of house.
After she had decided the roses were looking good enough (Seriously, how were you supposed to arrange 180 roses?!) she pulled out the one black one from the middle and brought it to her nose, a smile playing on her lips. For all she cared Draco could have just sent her one black rose and she would have probably been much happier. The other 179 roses didn't hold nearly as much thought behind them as this one did. She knew he just sent the others to make a grand gesture out of it and probably to rile her up intentionally.

Suddenly she felt the familiar vibration against her chest and pulled out the gold coin to see what message her over extravagant boyfriend had sent her now. He was probably worried since she hadn't returned to class though how he managed to send her the message in the first place she had no idea. The idiot shouldn't have risked it.

'Hope you're okay love. Bit worried since you haven't come back to class. I'll see you in a few hours. D X'

Quickly she sent off a reply, hoping it wouldn't attract attention to him during his lesson. 'I'll explain later. Get back to doing your work I won't forgive you if you get caught. See you later. H X'

Hermione sat alone in her dorm room, the rest of her house mates had not yet left the last class of the day, Charms for her dorm mates. She was still playing with the black rose in her hand when she decided to pull out the box containing her parents' only remaining possessions.

Putting the rose down on the bed she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, drawing in as much strength as she could muster before she opened the lid for the second time that day. Nothing had changed in the past 40 minutes of course, least of all her feelings towards the items. There sat two plain gold wedding bands, one slightly thicker and larger than the other. She picked up the smaller of the rings, her mothers she noted, and brought it closer to her eye level, examining it for who knows what. It's not like she had never seen it before. She put the ring on her right index finger to see if it would fit before trying it on all the others. It didn't fit on any of her fingers. It was too big. Taking it off the last finger she tried, her left ring finger, Hermione brought it closer to inspect the engraving she knew was on the inside 'Yours, Eternally' the familiar script read. Smiling sadly she put a hand in the box and pulled out the bigger ring, her fathers, and looked for the engraving she knew was inside his ring too. Pulling it close enough to read she saw the script read 'Eternally, Yours' as a stray tear escaped her eyes.
For a while she sat there, thoughts about how her parents had had to be cremated instead of buried, that they never got to have their rings with them at the end consumed her. And yet somehow had her feeling thankful because at least she now had something to show of their past. She knew it was wrong to want that but no matter how hard she tried she couldn't help it.

Putting the rings down she reached in to touch the watch, hands shaking as her fingers gently brushed over the face before she took it out. It was an old leather watch, brown and probably very expensive back when it had originally been made and bought. The face was made from gold, the numbers were Roman numerals, black in an off white, parchment looking background. It was a very simple design and to anybody else would have looked like just an ordinary watch. Probably an old and worn ordinary watch, nothing more.

To Hermione it reminded her of the family she never met, her fathers father, her grandad Granger. She had heard so many stories about him, he had been the last of her grandparents to pass away but still managed to do so before her parents had had her. He had known all about her parents' troubles getting pregnant, had actively encouraged them to adopt when it was taking too long. He even knew they were going to have a daughter, an inkling he had told her father, that he was sure of. She would be the daughter of the most beautiful woman in the world he had often told her mother, they had been very close. Nobody had believed him, her parents had barely even believed they would pass the adoption process they had decided to start, trying not to get their hopes up too much. They were wrong of course, her grandad Granger had been right and they'd been blessed with a daughter of their very own. They decided to name her Hermione after Helen of Troy 'the daughter of the most beautiful woman in the world' her name was a tribute to her Grandad Granger. She had often been assured they would have loved each other immensely and from what she knew of the man she knew it to be true.

She still couldn't look at that watch. She was bitter, even after all these years that she never got to met the man who gave her her name, who, ultimately, gave her her parents and the good life she had lead. It was the one thing she had always wished for as a child on her birthday but of course nothing could bring him or her other grandparents back.
Hermione hadn't realised how hard it would be to possess this one family heirloom and yet the only one she had, how others did it she had no clue.

Putting the watch down on her bed she decided to get changed out of her uniform, her fellow Gryffindor's were back now, she could hear them in the common room just below her. Pulling out the black dress she had ordered specifically for the occasion she looked it over one more time, worrying once again if it was maybe a little too much. Or rather, not enough, it had been bought on Ginny's insistence so naturally, it left little to the imagination. Grabbing the new set of underwear that Ginny had ordered to match, shaking her head at the memory Hermione headed to the bathroom to get ready for the feast. She would have to cover herself up a bit more, maybe lengthen the hem and add a cardigan.

The dress really was lovely Hermione thought as she pulled it on, reaching around for the zip. It came up to a couple of inches above her knee, the under dress a soft black silk, the top layer was a lovely lace pattern that reminded Hermione of leaves in the Autumn. The sleeves were all lace and flared out. Bell sleeves Ginny had called them. The hem was scalloped and slightly longer than the under dress making her feel just a little bit more covered up. The neckline, round and resting on the edge of her shoulders left her neck bare except for the chain with the coin on around her neck. She looked at herself in the enchanted mirror, watched her mirror image strut and turn, checking herself out at every angle possible before she decided to start on her hair and make up. Deciding to go a little heavier than she normally would, it was a special occasion after all, Hermione made her eyes slightly smokey and added an extra layer of mascara than she normally would. Then finished with a bit of blush and a deep red, almost purple, lipstick. Satisfied with the results she moved on to her hair, adding copious amounts of Sleazy's hair potion to her unruly head. Getting the consistency she wanted Hermione pulled her fingers through her hair before she let the curls hang down loosely.
Stepping back in to her dorm she noticed the other four girls were now in full girl mode getting ready for the night. They all stopped and stared when she came in, ignoring them she looked around her things for something to put in her hair when her eyes fell on the black rose still lay on her bed before she smiled and picked it up, twisting it to sit just behind her ear. Adding a sticking charm to make it stay where it was she looked back in the mirror to see the final results. She thought about how a red rose probably would have looked better and less 'Halloween' than the black, especially since pretty much her entire outfit was black but quickly dismissed the thought before going to pull out her black heeled boots and the velvet cloak that matches in colour to her lips which she wore for special occasions. Grabbing her bag she shoved Draco's card inside along with the box containing the rings before looking at the watch, seemingly contemplating a decision and its implications before she shoved it inside the pocket of the cloak. Thinking about words her father had often said to her 'When I die Sweetheart, this watch, your grandfathers watch, will be yours. I want you to give this to the man who steals your heart. It's a family heirloom but one that shouldn't be sat gathering dust. Give it to him and make Grandad Granger a happy man. He would like that.' She looked back at the vase of roses before heading down to the common room, letting the other girls in her dorm get on with getting themselves ready.

Walking in to the common room she noticed it seemed to be empty of female activity and the boys were all busy playing go stones or exploding snap. There was still a good half an hour before the feast would start which meant the majority of the girls would still be getting ready for at least the next 25 minutes. Taking her usual seat in her corner she pulled out her Charms textbook, deciding to read over what she had missed in class despite the fact that she knew she has already read it. She had been sitting there around ten minutes when Harry decided to join her.

"Everything okay 'Mione?"

"Been better I suppose but I'm okay."

"Want to tell me what McGonagall wanted?"

"Professor McGonagall, Harry" Hermione chastised. "She had the information on my parents' will. Everything has been settled. Other than my muggle bank account I am now officially fully emancipated from all things muggle. Their estate has been settled and all of their possession are in my hands."

"I didn't know they had anything left."

"Their rings and my grandfathers watch was at the jewellers when it happened. The goblin-muggle liaison found a transaction in their bank account and traced it. That how he found them."

"Oh. I guess at least now you have something of theirs. As a reminder." Harry offered. He looked very uncomfortable with the conversation.

"Yes I suppose I do. Where's Ginny?" She asked, desperate to change the subject.

"Getting ready. Girls." He scoffed before rolling his eyes. "I see you're more dressed up than usual tonight." He said indicating to the short hem line of her dress he could see under the cloak.

"Ginny picked it."

"Yeah I can see that. Just...just" she noticed he seemed to be really struggling to say something. "Just make sure he treats you well okay? I know you can look after yourself Hermione and I'm not having a go. Who you date has nothing to do with me no matter how much I hate him but you're the only family I have. And if a brother can't tell his sister to be careful about a date then, well, who can? That's with any date not even a date with...well just, you know, be careful. And...make him pay. For this morning, you know." He had grimaced through practically the entire speech until the last sentence where he rolled his eyes rather dramatically.

Hermione doubted she had ever seen him look so nervous at any conversation. She raised her eyebrows at him before replying "Oh trust me. I intend to. What do you think I wore this dress for? It certainly wasn't so I can listen to everyone have a repeat performance of what I've heard all day. Oh no this is the ultimate pay back."

"Yeah, I'm not sure you're winning here Hermione. Trust me. He's winning this one."

"For now" she said with a smirk reminiscent of her boyfriend.

"Urgh he's rubbing off on you." Harry said shaking his head as if to wipe the imagine from memory.

"You know Harry, you can admit you know who he is. It won't kill you."

"Actually I'm still happy in the knowledge that I've not had anything confirmed and therefore I don't technically know who he is." He replied.

Hermione shook her head at her best friend before pulling him closer for a hug and the pair sat waiting for Ginny to arrive.

Twenty minutes later the redhead herself bounced down the stairs of her dorms and in to the common room, wearing something very risqué and very very Ginny, a smile a mile wide on her face. That is until she saw Hermione, cloak closed and frowned.

"You march right back up those stairs now and get changed in to that dress I picked out." Her friend demanded.

Rolling her eyes Hermione stood up and opened the clasp at the front of her cloak to reveal the dress to reassure Ginny that she was indeed wearing it. "Good enough?" She asked

"Take the cloak off and give me a twirl." Ginny demanded.

"Really?" Hermione sighed but complied anyway, it was best just to let Ginny have her way when it came to things like this.

Slipping off the cloak and checking her Rose was still in place Hermione gave her friends a small twirl.

"Wow 'Mi you look amazing! Did you put the matching underwear on too?" She asked with a twinkle in her eye.

Harry groaned at that "Come on I don't need to hear this. Talk about it when I'm not around or something will you? Or better yet, don't talk about it at all. Ever!"

Ginny rolled her eyes at her boyfriend before noticing Hermione nod in reply. Her smile grew wider and the girls both laughed. More at Harry than anything else.
The common room was now filling up with the rest of the Gryffindor's and the three of them decided to head for the door and make their way to the great hall for the start of the feast. When they arrived they found it to be decorated much the same as the Gryffindor common room was, full of pinks and reds with added Cupids dotted around the room.

The evening went as well as can be expected, Hermione tried to keep her cloak on but soon found it difficult to eat and gave up. Standing up to take off the long velvet cloak she could actually feel the eyes on her as she pulled it off her shoulders and smoothed out her dress before she sat back down.

Up until that point Ron had barely paid her a moments notice, Lavender as always was glued to his hip, though for once she really didn't care. The other witch wore a dress to match her name and frequently glared at Hermione for something neither her nor Ginny had a clue about. Ginny reckoned it was jealousy. Though jealous of what Hermione couldn't quite understand. The flowers? The obvious fact her boyfriend was probably the richest kid in the school? The dress? Being friends with Ron? There were so many small probabilities she couldn't decide on any and figured it was maybe something else. Something actually worth being jealous over. But then maybe it wasn't jealousy at all. Maybe it was something else entirely?

Ron, with his lack of tact, timing and subtlety saw her new attire and, eyes bulging, practically chocked on his food. A first for him. Was that a good thing or a bad thing Hermione wondered? Probably bad. It is Ron after all.

"What the hell are you wearing?" He shout demanded. Loud enough for pretty much anyone to take notice. Well done Ron, just what I need. Another scene. She thought.

"A dress" she replied casually.

"Where's the rest of it?" He sneered.

Rolling her eyes at him she turned her attention to the butterbeer in front of her and took a sip before answering. "Ginny picked it out. Don't you like it?" She asked, much too sweetly.

"Of course she did." He growled as he glared at Ginny. "It's not that I don't like it 'Mione it's just a bit too...it's not really you that's all. You're, well, you like books." He decided to settle for.

"So let me get this straight, just because I'm a girl who happens to like books and learning that means I can't wear pretty dresses and do my hair and make up occasionally?" She asked, evidently daring him to answer. He did of course.

"It's just a bit, well, revealing Hermione."

"Oh I'm Hermione now am I? I must have upset him Gin"

"You're changing. Are you wearing that for him?" He spat, once again not getting the hint.

"I shouldn't even answer that Ronald but since you're so interested, I'm wearing what I'm wearing because I like it not because of him no. And either way it has nothing to do with you so I would appreciate it if you stopped going on about it."

"Whatever. Don't say I never warned you."

"Warned me about what exactly?"

"Look, if he sees you looking like that-"

"He already has but go on, I would love to know your theory."

"He's going to expect things." He clearly emphasised that last word.

"Well I was kind of hoping that's where the night was leading." She replied sarcastically though it was not entirely a lie.

"What?!" He spluttered. His face taking on the same shade of red as it had that morning while Hermione turned away from him once again to continue her meal.

"Just leave it mate, you're making things worse and everyone is watching." Harry said trying to get his friend to ease up her.

"I don't bloody care who's watching. Didn't you just hear what she said?" He demanded again.

"Yeah I did hear what she said, I'm sat right here and she's a seventeen year old girl Ron. Old enough and more than capable enough of making her own decisions. Leave it alone."

"Harry we don't bloody know who this 'boyfriend' is! What if he's just out to have his way with her what if-"

Hermione saw Harry look over towards Draco at Ron's words before he rubbed a hand down his face as if to wipe away stress. Taking a long breath in before he interrupted his friends speech.

"No Ron, it doesn't matter who he is its none of our business all right? Do we tell you what you should or shouldn't be doing and who with? No we don't. Hermione and her boyfriend-" Cue, another quick glance toward Draco. "have been together for over four months now for all we know whatever you're imagining has happened, might already have happened. Either way it's none of your business. Leave her alone. And start acting like friends. The pair of you. I'm sick of this constant fighting." He said defeatedly before sitting back down to enjoy the rest of the night with his girlfriend.

oOoOoOo

Draco had been stealing glances at Hermione every chance he could during the Valentine's feast. When he had arrived at the great hall be saw her walking down the steps and from what he saw she looked amazing. He hadn't managed to see what was under the cloak but in his mind it was as spectacular as the rest of her. The colour on her lips was so dark it reminded him of dried blood and damn it he wanted to kiss them so badly.
Theo and Blaise had been in the corridor with him when they saw her and though Theo had been politer about how Hermione looked, though still, not polite enough, Blaise had been outright flirting with the witch. His witch. Of course Blaise didn't know that and everyone knew neither party would actually go there anyway but it still made Draco angry. Theo had ushered them both inside and scolded their friend for 'cavorting with Harry Potter's pet' or well, trying to since Hermione quite clearly rejected his advances.
Draco had sat in his usual seat where he knew he could get a good view of her, wanting nothing more than for her to take off the cloak and put his mind at rest because, really, whatever it was she had on under there can not be as bad (or good, however you looked at it) as what he was thinking and Merlin was he thinking about it. He got lucky when twenty minutes into the feast he looked up as she stood and unclasped the fastens at the front of her cloak, pulling it off and smoothing over her dress somewhat nervously before she sat back down to eat.

Fuck! Whatever he had been expecting this was not it. He'd been sure she was wearing something slightly out of her comfort zone when he saw the cloak but he would never have imagined this. Just before she sat down her eyes had strayed over to his, gauging his reaction. She must have seemed satisfied since she smiled and sat down.
Watching her all Draco could think was how enchantingly magical she looked. He'd never seen a girl look any more like a witch than he did just then and the black rose definitely added to it. Damn she was beautiful!
If he hadn't been too preoccupied gawping at his girlfriend for the past couple of minutes he would have noticed his friends and practically every other teenage boy in the hall were either looking at her or talking about her. Not all of them in a decent way either.

"Fuck me! Granger looks hot tonight. If that's what's under her uniform I say we banish them!" Blaise was saying whilst staring at her.

Theo rolled his eyes and looked up to see what all the fuss was about but just didn't get it. Sure she was pretty in a nice way and yes the dress did look nice on her though probably a little bit too revealing but she certainly wasn't hot. Turning his gaze over to Luna who, he thought really was the hot one, he sneaked a quick glance before going back to his food. "I don't see what the big deal is, yeah she's pretty I guess but actually I think she's prettier without all that crap. She's certainly not hot though. That's just wrong, it's Granger." He said, trying to emphasis her last name as if it would make his friend rethink what he was saying.

"Yeah and look at her. There's something wrong with you Theo if you can't see how hot she is. Merlin would I give her a good-"

"She's a mudblood!" Draco growled at his friend, the word was like venom on his lips but he couldn't bare to hear anyone talk about her that way.

"You know I don't care about that shit Draco and I know you don't any more either so stop saying it!"

"Just....just keep your sexual fantasies in your head will you. We're trying to eat here." He decided to settle on.

"Come on Draco don't tell me you're not looking at her the same way as the rest of the school is, well, apart from Potter and apparently Theo here. Look even Weasley can't contain himself and his girlfriend is right there." Blaise pointed out.

"It's just a dress, I mean yeah she looks alright but it's just a dress" Pansy butted in as all three boys turned to stare at her like she was a three headed dog.

"What? Girls say stuff like that all the time!" She defended.

"Girls do yes. You don't and especially not when it comes to Granger" Theo said as Draco turned his attention back to the curly haired brunette and her ginger friend, arguing again.

The rest of the meal passed without incident, though there was one Gryffindor McCrudden or something who seemed to be fawning all over Hermione and Draco really didn't like it.

Once the meal ended the students made their way out of the hall, there was still a few hours until curfew and so they all decided to go off their separate ways to spend time with their significant others. Pulling Theo along Draco headed to the sixth floor corridor, eager to get things sorted for his best friend but only because of his own selfish reasons. It wasn't until a good ten minutes later when they arrived just outside the old classroom door that Theo even seemed to realise where they were.

"Erm what are we doing here Draco?" He asked his friend seemingly very confused.

"I've got a job off Snape, come on" He said as he opened the door and pushed his friend inside then, as quick as an expelliarmus, he shut the door behind his friend stopping him from getting out and walked off towards the Room of Requirement. Whistling away, happy in the knowledge that he had done his part and being blissfully unaware of what his friend may or may not be doing and saying behind the closed door since his girlfriend had thought to put up a silencing spell along with the wards.

Draco hurried along the corridors, hoping to get to their room before Hermione so as to have everything ready and perfect for when she arrived. After spending the majority of the night before in the room of Hidden Things he had come in to their room to lay rose petals and candles all around the place. The music player he had converted was ready for playing and the ceiling resembled the stars just as it had on the night of their first date. When he arrived he was thankful that he had gotten there before her and set to work, lighting the candles and fire and with a quick swish of his wand her favourite singer Imogen Heap was playing then he stood near the door with a single red rose and waited.

When she arrived a few minutes later it was under the guise of a very famous in invisibility cloak and as much as Draco wanted to get a good look at it he now had a up close view of what he had seen across the hall earlier that evening and if he'd thought she was enchanting then it was nothing, nothing to how he thought she looked now with her cloak draped across her shoulders. The top clasp closed but her outfit and damn, those legs, showing underneath. The boots came up to her mid calf and made her legs look magnificent. All he could do was stare.

Hermione smiled nervously as she took her cloak off and put it with her bag near the couch. "You okay there?" She asked him teasingly.

Shaking his head and clearing his throat Draco tried to answer. "Wha...oh erm, yeah....yes"

Hermione raised her eyebrows at him playfully and couldn't help the giggle that escaped her mouth. "I take it you're a fan of the dress then?"

"Definitely" he replied as he let his slowly eyes scan her figure. "Here love, this is for you" he said as he leaned in and kissed her cheek.

"You know, for some reason I kind of feel like I might just have had enough flowers to last me a lifetime. This morning some delusional boy-"

"Man" He corrected.

Ignoring him she carried on. "-decided that sending me 180 roses was a good idea in a castle full of gossiping teenagers. I've decided that maybe he was trying to over compensate for something." She said with a smirk.

Draco growled playful at her before leaning in finally kissed her properly for the first time in two days. "I guess we'll just have to see won't we?" He grinned.

"Guess we will. Everything go okay with Theo?"

"I think so, he didn't get out the door and if he was shouting obscenities at me, and trust me he was, I couldn't hear it. So how come you've got Potter's cloak?"

"After this morning" she said glaring at him "I've had to endure being the topic of the gossip mill and everywhere I turned people would ask me who this mystery man was and why wasn't I telling anyone and, thanks to you, maybe I just sent the flowers to myself! Then of course I heard someone mention the cost of the bloody monstrosity and nearly had a heart attack right there and then! Then after what happened at the feast, well, I really wasn't up for being the centre of everyone's attention any longer plus I was worried I might get followed so I brought the cloak."

"Does he know?"

"Of course he does, it was his idea."

"Potter suggested you take his cloak to go and hide away with your secret boyfriend all night?" He asked, brow furrowed and eyes widened.

"No he told me to take the cloak to come and be with my boyfriend on Valentine's night. And he knows it's you. He won't admit it but he knows. Says if he doesn't admit it it's not true or something like that."

"I figured he knew he kept looking at me at breakfast and Theo said he's been slipping it in to conversation here and there and that he's always watching us but I expected him to, I don't know, explode or something."

"You mean like Ron? I really don't know what his problem is. He doesn't even know the identity of my boyfriend and he's acting like-"

"Like a love sick, jealous 'friend' with a serious crush on you."

"No that's not it at all."

"You know, one day you will see it for yourself. The way he looks at you, I hate it."

"Don't be silly he's just a friend. Come on I'm sure you have a better evening planned than standing here talking about Theo, Harry and Ron."

"As you wish, m'lady" he said bowing and winking at her. "Right this way."

 

oOoOoOo

 

Ginny stood in front of room 615 waiting for Luna, disillusioned so her friend wouldn't see her. She had told the blonde to meet her there twenty minutes after the feast ended, saying it was simply to help her with something, nothing more, knowing Luna wouldn't ask questions. She was a good friend like that.

Ginny had walked past Draco on her way up to the room and his attitude and quick wink sent her way had meant she knew Theo was already locked inside. Just as Ginny's watch alerted her it had been twenty minutes she heard light footsteps and looked up to see her friend heading towards the door. When Luna reached the door her eyes drifted over Ginny as if she could see her before she shrugged and opened the door, walking through it.
Before Theo had the chance to get out Ginny jumped up and closed it, sealing them both inside and lifting the charm that kept the room looking like any normal classroom.

Luna looked around, pleasantly surprised to see the room was decorated beautifully. There were cushions scattered all across the floor of every colour silk imaginable on top of a large rug, the walls were covered in sheer fabric and some sequins bringing lots of colour to the room. Lit candles were floating in the air and bookshelves seemed to have been pulled out thin air. The chairs and desks that had been in there moments before seemingly gone.

"Its beautiful isn't it" Luna breathed, taking in the room.

"Well, it's better than it was before I'll give you that. How come you're here?"

"Ginny asked me to come, she said she wanted help with something. She's just outside shall I go and ask?"

Theo shook his head before he answered. "I doubt you can open the door, it's warded. We've been set up. Draco brought me here and locked me in. I swear when I get my hands on him he will-"

"Okay you two, I've taken the silencing charm down for a minute so you can hear me. You're not coming out so don't even bother asking Nott-"

"His name is Theodore, Ginny" Luna corrected her friend.

"No, I'm guessing this was Reds plan, she call me Nott." Theo groaned.

"-Nott. The door is warded. It can only be opened from the outside and a disillusionment charm has been put on it so nobody can see it except me, Hermione and Malfoy."

"What's the bloody spell Weaslette?" Theo growled.

"I'm not sure on the name, something Hermione made especially for this occasion. The door will not open until you both admit your true desires or until Monday morning comes, whatever comes first." Ginny shouted through the walls.

"Yo-you're leaving us in here that long?" Theo asked in disbelief.

"No. You have the chance to leave sooner as long as you do what we all know you want to do. Both of you. Now, food will be served by a lovely house elf when the rest of the castle eats. Any other human needs and I'm expecting you to use magic to sort that out. I'm off to spend the night snogging my gorgeous boyfriend now so have fun. Bye!" She shouted merrily as she placed the two way silencing charm back on the room and skipped off towards the Gryffindor common room.

"Have fun!" Luna called after he friend.

"She can't hear you Love" Theo said before realising the term of endearment had slipped out. He shouldn't have said it but when she was around he never seemed to do the right thing and it just seemed so natural and easy to call her that.

She beamed at him and walked over to where he was sitting, on a cushion against wall, the same place he had resigned himself to when he couldn't get out of the room his supposed best friend had locked him in. Damn Malfoy!

Sitting down next to him Luna placed her hand in his and squeezed it gently before saying anything. "I liked this yesterday." She said looking down at their hands.

Moving his fingers to entwine them with hers Theo looked down at them before back up to Luna's face, nerves setting in again. "I liked it too." He finally admitted as his eyes settled on hers. She smiled that smile that she only ever seemed to have for him and his heart felt like it stopped for a second.

 

oOoOoOo

 

"Would my beautiful lady like to dance?" Draco asked Hermione as a new song came on the music box.

"Christina Perri? Have you really acquired more music just for Valentine's?" She asked him shaking her head chuckling.

"No I acquired more music for you. And so we can dance. Come on." He said as he pulled he towards him and they started a slow and uncoordinated sway to the slow beats.

"You really do look amazing tonight you know love." Draco murmured in her ear as her arms were wrapped around his neck and his were around her waist.

"Thank you. You know you don't look so bad yourself either." She joked.

"Yes but I'm a Malfoy, dressing like this is expected"

Hermione pulled back slightly and raised an eyebrow as she looked at him. "I didn't realise muggle suits were part of the Malfoy wardrobe." She said taking in how the black suit and tie contrasted perfectly against his skin and fit exactly right showing off his arse perfectly.

"You know what I mean, witch." He said pulling her back to him.

 

Time stands still
beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything
Take away
What's standing in front of me
Every breath,
Every hour has come to this

One step closer

 

After their dance Draco pulled Hermione over to the couch to give her her gift.

"Come on I've waited long enough to give you this." He said as he sat her down and took the seat next to her. Putting his hand inside his pocked he pulled out a long velvet box and handed it to her.

Hermione took the box, hands shaking nervously and let her fingers brush over the velvet.

"Open it." Draco instructed.

Hermione took a a long breath and lifted the lid to reveal a stunning and simple pearl necklace. Letting out the breath she hadn't realised she was still holding she touched the pearls carefully.

"Wow. It's beautiful Draco. Thank you."

"You like it?" He asked sounding hopeful.

"I love it. Really."

He smiled then and his shoulders relaxed as if he had been holding tension in them.
Hermione leaned over then and kissed him, a soft, sweet kiss that made her chest tighten. When she pulled away Draco took the box from her ready to put it around her neck.

"Hermione before I put this on you I wanted to explain something. Something important to me and I want you to think about it before you answer okay?" He asked.

She nodded and he continued.

"Being that you're a muggle born you probably have very little knowledge of pureblood customs. A lot of them are ridiculous, we can both agree on that but some, well some are not so bad. When a wizard and a witch in a pureblood courtship are together and decide to make things more serious one of them may present the other with a piece of jewellery, a necklace for a lady and a watch for a man. It's kind of a warning to others to say 'this one is taken' it's a sign that you are, effectively, theirs."

"So it's really a pre engagement engagement?" Hermione asked, trying to work out if she was even on the right track.

"What makes you say that?"

"Because I would imagine if, after a girl accepted one of those necklaces and then her wizard - her intended I assume?" She asked him. He nodded confirmation and she carried on. "We're to end things with her it would look bad on her and ruin her reputation? So my guess is that these arrangements are rarely ever ended." She finished.

"They're not. I don't think I know of a single one." He admitted.

"And you want me to take this necklace with that same meaning?" She was certain it was what he was getting at but wanted clarification nonetheless.

"I do Love" He admitted.

"Okay."

"Okay? Does that mean you'll think about it?" He asked hopefully.

"No it means okay put it on."

"Hermione-"

"Draco I don't need to think about it now please put it on and I swear you better accept my gift."

"Why wouldn't I?" He asked looking affronted.

"Just remember that when I give it to you in a minute." She said as she turned her back to him so he could put the necklace on.

Nodding his head he moved her hair over one shoulder and undid the clasp before placing the beads around her neck and closing it again. Fixing it in place he let his finger trail across the beads and down her neck before he leaned in closer and kissed her just behind her exposed ear, his other hand on her waist and holding we her gently. When she gasped as the touch of his lips he moved them lower again before turning her around to face him.
Pulling one hand up to cup her face her looked her in the eyes before kissing her softly and, lips hovering just above hers whispered "I love you, Hermione."

It felt like forever before she replied and he could have sworn his heart stopped beating only to start up on extra speed when she looked into his eyes and said "I love you too Draco." Their next kiss was full of heat and passion. It consumed them for what felt like hours, their bodies practically moulded together as he bent her to lay back on the couch.

oOoOoOo

 

"Would you like to dance?" Luna asked Theo brightly.

Looking around the room Theo thought briefly about how there was no music to dance to but then realised this was Luna and she was not like other girls, if she wanted to dance the lack of music wasn't going to stop her.

Nodding his head in agreement, still worried that if he spoke he might say the wrong thing, he stood up when she pulled on their still entwined hands and kept hold of him when he was up.

Whatever kind of dancing Theo had expected of her it wasn't the twirls and the slow swaying, he had thought silly, make a fool of yourself dancing would have been more her. Opening his hand so he could spin her better, Theo realised he was enjoying himself just watching her enjoy herself. She seemed as uninterested as him in letting go of his hand and for a long time all they did was sway and twirl until she fell over of the cushions and caught her knee on a zip.

"Shit!" Theo mumbled before getting down on the floor to help Luna. "Are you okay love? I'm sorry I was going too fast." He said as he knelt neck to her and pulled her up into a seating position.
"I'm fine Theo. it's just a scratch. Nothing to worry about. It wasn't your fault. The Wrackspurts got in my way and I couldn't see properly."

"I shouldn't have let go though. I'm sorry." He repeated as he looked down at her cut knee. Completely ignoring her mention of Wrackspurts, either he didn't notice or didn't care.

Taking her wand out Luna cleaned and closed her cut quickly before she put it back away and reached out to touch Theo's face. Instinctively he leaned into her touch, desperate for more. When he realised how close she was he closed the gap between them and without thinking, pressed his lips gently against hers as if it was a gesture they had done a thousand times before.
Pulling back, his mind started to race and just as he was about to apologise for overstepping the mark she pulled him back and kissed him again, this time much more forcefully and less gentle than their first kiss. Reaching out a hand to cup her head and caress her hair Theo leaned her back on the cushions as her hand found his and entwined their fingers once again before they were both lay on the floor and spent their evening doing nothing more than holding hands and kissing.

 

oOoOoOo

When they finally pulled apart, dizzy and delirious from confessions of love, Hermione and Draco couldn't contain their smiles. She reached up to finger her beads and he pulled back to get the full effect of seeing them against her milky skin. The word beautiful was all that came to mind.

Hermione reached in to her pocket and, after telling Draco to close his eyes, used the box off her necklace to place her grandfathers watch inside before she gave it to him.

"You can open your eyes now. I didn't have a chance to get a box for this so I've had to improvise. It's...well you'll see just open it." She said as she passed the box to him.

Draco opened the lid carefully and for a moment was confused at what he found inside until his mind cleared and he realised. He was a pureblood and pureblood's were a dab hand when it came to family heirlooms, this was definitely a family heirloom he could see that from just a quick glance. Reaching inside he picked up the brown leather watch strap and turned it over to look at thoroughly.

"Who's was it?" He finally asked Hermione noticing her biting her lower lip, a sure indicator of her nervousness.

"My fathers and his father and so on." She replied not seeming to relax at all.

"This is all you have left of them?"

"Of my Grandad Granger, yes."

"And you're giving it to me?" He asked even though it was already plainly obvious.

"He wanted me to give it to the man who stole my heart." She replied somewhat weakly.

"And that would be me." He wondered aloud. She nodded.

"Hermione I can-"

"Please don't say you can't accept it. I want you to have it. I can't bare to see it not on the arm of a man I love. My grandad, he wanted me to pass this on to the man who stole my heart, that's you Draco. I want you to have it. I want it to signify that you're mine. A pre engagement engagement, my intended. Whatever you want to call it. Please accept it, it would make me very happy."

Draco looked at her for a while and then back at the watch before he conceded and offered her his wrist so she could put it in him.

"Thank you" she whispered after it was fastened to him, clearly more relaxed than she had been just minutes ago, a soft smile playing on her lips.

"No, thank you. Thank you for believing in me, in us, so much that you would give me such a treasured piece of your history." He said as she started crying.

After Hermione had dried her eyes and pulled herself together she relayed the story of what had happened that afternoon with professor McGonagall, about her parents' will and the rings and watch she had had returned to her. She had taken the rings out of her bag and showed him them when he removed them and placed them on the chain that held her coin around her neck so that she could always carry a piece of her parents with her.

"Do you want a drink love?" Draco asked Hermione after a while of cuddling in silence.

"What have you brought?"

"I have hot chocolate in the flask I was planning on recreating our first date. Minus the food since we already ate." He said as he rummaged through his bag.

"Really? Does that mean you have a box of chocolates in there?" She asked suggestively.

"Of course I do!" He scoffed. "It seems I also have a lovely vintage bottle of Firewhiskey in here. So the choice is yours m'lady."

"Definitely Firewhiskey." She replied with a grin.

Draco poured them both a rather large double when he transfigured two glasses and watched her down the whole thing in one mouthful before pouring herself another and repeating the action. Not wanting to be outdone Draco did the same before he stopped her having a third.

"No love, I've got no hangover potions and I'd really rather you wasn't incapacitated tonight. Potter might actually kill me." He joked.

"You're right." She sighed. "That was actually a rather nice brand. Where did you get it?"

"No idea, it's Theo's. Probably stole it from his father."

"What?! You just let me drink Theo's vintage Firewhiskey? Oh Merlin! He's going to hate me!"

"Of course he's not. He'll hate me but since he left it in my bag what did he expect?"

"You're trouble you know that?" She smiled at him.

"It's my middle name." He replied.

"Really? And here I always thought you were named after your father."

"Yeah, like I said, trouble."

Shaking her head at him and determined to change the subject she asked him to get the chocolates out so they could do the blind fold testing again.

When Draco pulled out the massive red heart shaped box with a gold ribbon tied around the front Hermione predictably rolled her eyes but pulled the bow off before popping a chocolate in her mouth and closing her eyes as she devoured it.

"Gods you're so sexy when you do that."

She winked at him and shoved one in his mouth before closing her eyes and asked the room for a bed.

When she opened her eyes she was greeted to a huge king size four poster bed with black drapes and emerald green silk bedding, she smiled happily as she leaned over and picked up the box then headed for the bed.

"Get the blindfolds Draco." She called over her shoulder as she picked up the Firewhiskey bottle and left it on the night stand that she hadn't even realised was there until she needed it.

"Hermione we don't-"

"We talked about this already remember? It's okay. No pressure for anyone and we don't have to do anything." She said as she took her boots off and sat in the middle of the bed, passing him the tie and consuming the chocolates like they had previously. After the tie was secured around her eyes she sat in anticipation while he bit into a chocolate before kissing her. She licked his lips and felt heat pooling at the apex of her thighs, kissing him as thoroughly as she could before giving her answer, lemon mousse. Three more correctly guessed chocolates and Hermione couldn't handle the heat any more it's was starting to become painful so she took off the tie and blindfolded him. Continuing their game she picked up where he left off, letting him guess the first two chocolates in the same fashion she had done.

Biting into a gooey heart shaped caramel she swallowed what was in her mouth before dipping a finger into the centre and putting it in his mouth letting him suck the sweet caramel off her. Hearing him moan softy when her finger entered his mouth she looked down to see if this game was affecting him in the same way it was her. It definitely was. There was no mistaking his hard length through those tight muggle suit pants. Moving closer Hermione straddled Draco and dipped two fingers into another caramel before putting them in his mouth while she kissed along his jaw line and could feel his hardness on the back of her legs as she sat atop him and moaned when he sucked harder then nipped at her fingers.

Having had enough of the game Draco pulled the tie from his head and kissed Hermione deeply doing nothing to stifle the fire that was already raging between them. Pushing her down on the bed he hovered over her and let his hand snake up her bare thigh slowly as if waiting for her to tell him to stop. His other hand was buried deep in her hair as he rained kisses all along her jaw and down the column of her throat while she moaned and writhed beneath him.

Sitting up Hermione undid Draco's tie and threw it across the room before starting on his shirt buttons.

"We don't have to." He urged.

"I want to Draco. I love you and I want to show you. And honestly, I feel like if we don't I might combust. Surely you feel that that?"

"Of course I do but I just want to make sure you're prepared."

"Of course I'm prepared. Unzip me and find out how prepared I am." She replied as she pulled his shirt off his arms.

At his questioning glance she nodded her head and turned around for him to help her out of her dress and soon enough it was off.

Draco was speechless, Hermione wasn't sure she had ever seen him speechless before but here he was sat staring at a girl in just her underwear and unable to say anything. She grinned.

"I take it you like the set?" She asked mischievously.

"Absolutely. Green satin and black lace suits you. You look amazing." He said as he stared at her barely covered up form. The underwear Ginny had picked had pushed up her boobs just that little bit more, the knickers were French knickers with emerald green bows to the front while the cups on the bra were all green then covered in a layer of black lace in the pattern of roses. Very apt.
Hermione lay back down underneath him and Draco picked up another chocolate and placed it on her stomach before eating it off of her and working his mouth up to hers where they resumed their passion in a kiss that was all tongues, teeth and deep moaning.

After a while Hermione rolled Draco over and straddled him, still kissing but letting her hand go to his pants button and helping him out of them. Before long they were both in nothing but their underwear and Draco rolled her back over again letting one hand roam her entire body while the other snaked around her back and he nervously fiddled with her bra fasteners for a couple of seconds before he managed to finally undo it.
Not one to be outdone Hermione nervously pulled the straps off of her arms before throwing the garment off the bed, she never even took any notice to where it landed instead she just watched Draco watching her. The heat burning in his eyes only caused to make her need for him grow and instead of laying back down she attached her mouth to his ear lobe and sucked hard letting his moans fill her head. It wasn't long until his fingers wandered up the sides of her rib cage and as he pushed her back down he slowly and gently he let his fingers run on the underside of her right breast to gauge her reaction. When all she did was gasp at his touch Draco decided to give in to his desire to touch them properly and so he first cupped her breast before running the pads of his fingers carefully against her nipple and rolling it between his finger and thumb. At that touch Hermione had whimpered a little and arched her back off the bed, instinctively moving closer to his touch, wanting, no. Needing, more. Before he knew what he was doing Draco brought his mouth down to the bared skin of her chest and all while still rolling her nipple between his fingers he worked his lips and tongue towards the other nipple where he nipped at her lightly before devouring her. For the next few minutes Draco, kneaded, flicked, licked, nipped and sucked at both of Hermione's nipples until she was clawing at his chest and begging him for, well, merlin knows what but he liked it!

Lifting his head up to kiss her lips again and swallowing his nerves down since this really was the moment, he asked one last time if she was sure before he went any further, his hand tracing patterns on the bare skin of her waist.

"You know love, I really like your tits. I think I might be addicted to them." He said as his hand slowly caressed her breast.

"I think I figured that much out for myself." She laughed.

"I just need to check one last time, are yo-"

"I'm sure." She promised as she kissed him and brought her hands to his hips where the waist band of his boxers sat. Quickly she hooked her fingers inside and pulled the underwear as far down as she could until she let her boyfriend take over.

There he was, leaning above her in all his beautiful naked glory. She took moment to let her eyes scan his form, her eyes darting to the part of him that would soon be a part of her. She'd never seen an actual penis before other than what was in books and maybe the brief sexual education lesson McGonagall had given them but she knew enough to know he didn't disappoint. Biting her lower lip and letting her eyes drift back to his she nodded at the unasked question she knew was on his mind and with it he bent down removed the last scrap of fabric that acted as a barrier between them.

Draco didn't hesitate in letting his eyes and hands memorise every curve, every freckle, every scar and blemish he could find. Mentally mapping it all, ready to have the knowledge stored in case the need ever arose.

Before he could do anything else Hermione pulled her wand from where it had fallen on the bad and quickly cast a contraception charm before shoving it under a pillow, it really wouldn't do good to forget it.

"Is there ever going to be a situation you're not prepared for." He joked nervously.

She laughed nervously in reply, knowing full well a war was raging behind closed doors and that was something she was not going to be prepared for no matter how much time she had. Shaking her head to get rid of the dark thoughts that had invaded her mind Hermione reached up a hand to the chain around Draco's neck and tugged on it lightly to bring him closer. He obeyed, his lips meeting hers chastely as he lined himself up to her entrance.

 

oOoOoOo

 

It was a good few hours later when a house elf apparated into room 615, the familiar crack of the house elf magic scaring them both from their previous activities since neither were expecting anyone to be able to get into the room. Apparently Hermione's wards didn't keep elves away. The elf, who introduced himself as Dobby, best elf to the famous Harry Potter, left a tray of cheese, crackers and wine on the floor before smiling what looked like a mischievous smile as he apparated again just as quickly as he had arrived.

"I like him." Luna said as she pulled the tray closer and picked up a cracker to eat.

"You like everyone love." Theo replied fondly as he poured them some of the red wine, elf made he noted and a damn good one at that. Probably Draco's doing he thought before he remembered the vintage Firewhiskey he had left in his friends bag and realised he wouldn't be getting back. He wanted to be more mad than he was but he was currently locked in an old classroom with a beautiful girl he had been kissing for the past couple of hours and now he had elf wine and cheese to boot. It really was turning out to be a good night but Draco was still going to pay.

"Everything alright?" Luna asked him noticing his thoughtful expression.

"Just contemplating exacting my revenge on Draco." He said turning to her and handing the goblet to her.

"He was only trying to help." She insisted.

"I know and if I wasn't such an idiot he wouldn't have had to but-"

"I think you're rather handsome and adorable. And I know you're smart. You take all the same classes Hermione does, definitely not an idiot."

Theo smiled at her words before replying. "An idiot around you I meant." He clarified.

"It's cute." She shrugged.

They sat and ate their snacks, talking about anything and everything from their favourite colours, Quidditch teams, and classes to the best places to find a white wind puffer that Theo had absolutely no idea about but indulged her in anyway because he really liked her and loved the way her face lit up whenever she talked about her creatures. The conversation went on for a while, long after the wine and crackers had been demolished and Theo sat there staring at the beautiful girl in front of him like she was an angel of mercy, wondering how he could deserve such a woman in his life when he had been tainted even before he was born. And it's while he's sat there thinking about all of the awful things his father has done to people like Luna and Hermione, gods he ever tried to kill Hermione! The awful things his father will expect from him sooner or later, the things he knows he can't hide from forever while that monster is on the loose. He won't have a choice to take part eventually, as long as he's in school he's safe but once the summer holidays are upon them he doesn't believe he will last a week regardless of what Draco says.
His face must have taken in a sombre expression as his mind had drifted off because before he knew it he felt Luna's hands cupping the sides of his face and looking into his eyes. He saw worry and concern etched into the frown on her beautiful face and in those blue irises he saw hope and he clung to it like it was the only thing keeping him afloat.

"You're not him." She said eventually. "You're not your father, you're not Voldemort, you're Theodore and you could never be like them."

"How can you even look at me when all you see is them? I understand Love I do but I don't want your pity."

"I don't pity you Theo and when I see you I see hope, happiness, love. The love you have for your friend, you don't have that kind of love if you're a Death Eater. You couldn't be one of them even if they marked you. Draco has the mark and he's not them. He's still just Draco."

"How do you-"

"When I look at you I see a future. Our parents' choices don't define us Theo and yours could never define you." She said as she kissed him on the cheek, put her hand in his and moved to sit beside him.

Theo nodded before he sat there mulling over her words, he knew she was right but he still felt tainted and he probably always would do but there was nothing that was going to change that right now. Turning to look at Luna, hands still entwined he looked in her eyes, once again seeing hope and this time feeling it as he took a deep breath and asked her the only question he cared to have an answer for.

"Luna, this has been by far the best Valentine's Day I've ever had. Even if you were forced to be in my company-"

"I wasn't forced I knew what Ginny's plan was."

"And you still came?"

"Of course I did."

"Why?"

"To see you of course. I've already told you Theo, I like you." She said happily.

"I like you too which makes this really difficult to ask but erm, Luna, I know we've gone about this backwards, shoved in a locked room and forced to spend what was a very enjoyable night together but" taking another deep breath he watched Luna, her smile never faltering. "Will....will you be my girlfriend?" He asked her sounding and feeling more nervous than he had ever experienced in his entire life.

For a split second he honestly thought time froze while he waited for her answer. Scared even to look at her but being the Slytherin he was he forced himself to keep eye contact. Had he allowed even a quick glance he would have noticed her smile growing wider before she answered him.

"Of course I will Theo" she beamed just as they both heard the lock on the door clicking.

"I think we broke the wards." He joked before he leaned in and kissed her for the first time as boyfriend and girlfriend.

It wasn't long until she was yawning away and Theo grudgingly asked if she wanted him to walk her back to her common room.

"You're tired, do you want me to walk you back?"

"No I think I'll just stay here. It's quite lovely in here and the pillows are rather comfortable too." She said as she lay down on a rather large cushion.

"Are you sure?"

"Very. Now are you going to come and sleep with me or just stand there all night?" She asked him.

Theo was taken by surprise before he reminded himself that this was Luna, she was different to most girls and if she wanted him to lay next to her while she slept he wasn't about to say no. Not when he would rather enjoy it himself. He quickly threw up some more wards to ensure nobody could get in their room, even their friends, and joined his girlfriend on the floor where he took her hand kissed her goodnight.

 

oOoOoOo

 

Hermione, still biting her lip, instinctively pulled her knees and feet up the bed to give Draco better access and as he finally, inch by aching inch, entered her she drew blood and eventually screamed when the pain got too much.

"Shit! So you want me to stop Love?" Draco asked her worriedly.

"No, just...just go slow. It hurt for a second that's all."

 

We're a different pair, do something out of step.
Throw a stranger an unexpected smile...with big intention.
Still posted at your station.
Always on about the day it should have flied.

You say too late to start, got your heart in a headlock,
I don't believe any of it.
You say too late to start, with your heart in a headlock,
You know you're better than this.

Afraid to start, got your heart in a headlock,
I don't believe any of it.
You say too late to start, with your heart in a headlock,
You know you're better than this.

 

And it really was only for a second, the pain went away as quickly as it had came and as he pushed himself deeper inside her she heard herself moan in response.
Draco leaned down and kissed her again before he slowly pulled himself out and thrust back in gently at first and harder with each thrust, letting her moans be the only thing that guided him.
Looking down at her he saw her chest and face were flushed red, the black rose still in her hair contrasted perfectly. She was perfect. The image of her moaning beneath him edged him closer and he bent down to take a nipple in his mouth, watching as her back arched with the contact and she moaned his name louder.
Hearing his name on her lips that way fuelled his desire and he thrust hard and hard as he nipped at the buds of her nipples.

"Dr.....Dra....Draco....oh!" She moaned loudly as he continued to focus his attention to her nipple while letting his hand snake to the top of her legs which were now wrapped around his waist.
He pulled out, knowing she was close and leaving just the tip inside before thrusting back in hard and heavy and losing focus as the walls of her hot, wet pussy started to trembled around him.

"Oh fuck....Her....Hermin....fuck! Oh.....Mi...Mi...Mi...Aaaah!"
He shouted as he felt the walls of her pussy tighten around him as she came, screaming his name as though it were a chant, finally pushing him over the edge.

They lay together in the bed, basking in the after glow of sex, virginities long gone and chocolates strewn everywhere as they caught their breaths again before Draco kissed her softly as he finally pulled out and collapsed at her side.

"Mya?" She asked him playfully.

"Your name is far too long and complicated. How do you expect me to get it right when you're distracting me so much. From now on you're Mya. Much easier." He chuckled.

Quietly Draco took out his wand and cleaned them both up along with the chocolates before putting the candles out and turning the music player off then shoving the wand under the pillow with Hermione's.

Pulling the covers over them both Hermione sighed happily and turned to kiss her boyfriend goodnight.

"No regrets?" He asked.

"Never. You?" She answered.

"Never." He repeated.

"I love you." She breathed and turned back around ready to fall asleep.

"I love you." He whispered in her ear and he pulled her close, both still very naked under to covers but wanting nothing more right then than to just fall asleep with her in his arms.

 

oOoOoOo

 

The rest of the weekend passed by in a blur for Hermione and Draco, they eventually consumed the whole bottle of Firewhiskey and thoroughly broke in the new bed when they were not doing homework, which Hermione insisted upon even though it seemed that once Draco had got a taste of her he never wanted to stop. Their nights were spent exploring one another under the stars of the enchanted ceiling, finding out where each other liked to be touched and what would happen if Hermione kissed Draco just there or of he bit her just here. Finally Monday morning came around and reluctantly they parted early in the morning in order to wash up before breakfast knowing they would see each other in class and still had their library date scheduled for that evening. Kissing goodbye they headed for their separate dorm rooms ready to start their day, both much happier than they had been in a long time.

When Draco arrived in his room it was still pretty early so he wasn't expecting anyone to be awake. He probably shouldn't have been all that shocked that Theo was waiting for him though since his friend knew him so well and the last time they saw each other he locked him in a warded room.

"Nice weekend?" Draco asked casually.

"No thanks to you. What were you playing at?!"

"Think it's pretty obvious what I was playing at and since you're here this early and we didn't have to rescue you I can only assume you managed to break Hermione's wards. There's only one way that could have happened." He said pointedly.

"We broke the wards on Friday night." Theo replied.

"Then why are you only just getting back?"

"What makes you think I only just got back?" He challenged.

Draco raised his brow at his friend and pointed to the outfit he was wearing, the same he had been wearing the last time he saw him. "You have the same clothes on and it's like 6am. You're never up at 6."

"Okay yeah I just got back." He said before putting up a silencing charm just in case. "She doesn't care, about my father, your father. What they are. She says their decisions don't define us and looked at me with hope I'd never seen before. And when I looked at her I saw a future that for once didn't look so bleak. And I hate myself for doing it but I did because all I'm doing is dragging her down with me and I can't help it. I've been drawn to her the second I met her. We spent the weekend talking about everything and anything, absolute nonsense and the theory behind time travel and just....everything. I feel like I've known her my whole life."

"You didn't-"

"Fuck no! She's not that type of girl. She's, she's my girlfriend and I'd rather do things properly for once. Did you?"

"Many times." Draco replied with his trademark smirk.

"All right just don't give me details. The last thing I need is the imagine of Granger naked etched into my head. Urgh " Theo said shuddering.

"Don't know what your problem is with her she's absolutely beautiful, there are far worse things to be thinking about." Draco said as he passed the empty Firewhiskey bottle to his friend. "Thanks for that mate. Hermione really enjoyed it t
"Fucking prick! Well, suppose it was a decent trade. We enjoyed your elf wine that your old house elf brought us. Didn't know he was at Hogwarts. Think he's been pissing Potter off."

"What elf wine?!" Draco demanded.

"I just told you. The one-"

Draco looked through his trunk before muttering under his breath. "Bloody Red! I curse the day I ever let a Weasley into my life. Fair trade?" He asked his friend.

"Guess so. I'm off to get a shower anyway was just waiting to see if you surfaced this morning or not."

"Mate, you do realise who my girlfriend is don't you? Missing or being late for classes are never going to happen." He said, laughing, as he pulled out a clean uniform and headed to the bathroom.

Chapter Text

After Draco and Theo showered and changed they decided to head to breakfast early, leaving the rest of the room occupants to hurriedly get ready and join them. The great hall was now free of all things Valentine's though the subject still seemed to be on many girls’ lips, the topic of Hermione's mystery man was undoubtedly the question of the hour.
Draco was rather smug at all the attention, though nobody realised he was the mystery man he did and it made him unbearable for Theo to be around. Eventually the first class of the day was upon them and they decided to go their separate ways. Theo had Advanced Ancient Runes whilst Draco was in Care of Magical Creatures, an elective he'd decided to carry on despite Hagrid being the professor.

Advanced Ancient Runes was a fairly small class that consisted of just eight students all in, Theo was the only Slytherin, Hermione the only Gryffindor, Hannah Abbot the only Hufflepuff and the other five were all
Ravenclaw's. Professor Babbling was not known to let students in her class who she didn't feel could cope with the heavy workload and translation. To be accepted in her class was an achievement in itself.
That day Professor Babbling set them a new translation, something they would have to work in pairs for since it was more of a two person translation, it could have been said she was channeling Professor Slughorn but the truth was that this was an actual required part of the curriculum, being able to work with others and still be able to translate. When it was announced however all eyes darted towards Theo, the only Slytherin in the class and best friend of Draco Malfoy, it seemed nobody was particularly looking forward to being paired with him. Of course at that Hermione moved to the empty seat at his desk and announced he was her partner. He just shook his head at her and carried on looking at the translation Professor Babbling assigned them, it would take weeks to get through and more likely than not require extra work outside the class. Great, Theo thought. Just what I need.

“You carry on befriending Slytherin's and people will start to think we've Imperiused you.” He said as she sat down.

“Maybe you have. How would I know?” She joked.

“What are you doing Granger?”

“You're really going to call me that? Still? I'm your best friends girlfriend and since I know you broke my wards on Friday night, much sooner than Draco betted on by the way, I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark and assume you and Luna have finally sorted things out. She's one of my best friends and I’m one hell of a witch, or so they say, brightest of our age and all that. So, you know, be careful.”

“Are you threatening me…Hermione?” He asked in disbelief.

“Well, if that's what it takes then I guess I am. Is there going to be a problem?”

“Not at all. I like her. I wouldn't…no. No problem.” He mumbled.

“Good.”

“A Gryffindor threatening a Slytherin? I never thought I'd see the day. I think me and you might get along just fine Hermione.” He said with his crooked quirky smile.

“Pffft you're hardly the first person, or Slytherin for that matter, that I've threatened.”

“Yeah well Draco doesn't count, threatening to withhold favours to your boyfriend is just not the same.”

“I wasn't talking about Draco.”

“No?”

“Nope.” She replied cheerily.

“Care to tell me who?”

“Depends, can I trust you?”

“I'm a Slytherin Hermione, can you trust a snake?”

“I trust Draco.”

“Yeah and I still say it will end badly. Now more than ever.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Really? You're really going to play dumb with me? Okay how about because of that necklace you're wearing, because of the brand we both know he carries? How can it end any other way? He's going to have to do things that even the biggest Hufflepuff in the world couldn't forgive, never mind a Gryffindor.”

“I'm not going to leave him Theo, if this is you're way of threatening me it's not needed. I promise.”

“Good, because I've never seen him so happy. Ever. And I've known him my whole life. Even as a kid he was bloody miserable. So shall we get on to this translation then?”

She nodded sombrely and pulled out her books before she muttered, “It was Rita Skeeter by the way, the Slytherin who I threatened. I suppose you could probably say I blackmailed her too.”

“And did it work?”

“Well, she's not in Askaban so so far it's going well. Maybe I'll tell you the whole story one day. Now, Runes?”

 

oOoOoOo

 

Theo didn't get a chance to talk to Draco until lunch time, the pearl necklace he had seen on Hermione had bothered him more than it should have. He hadn’t known of his friends’ plan and probably wouldn't have agreed to it being a good idea either. Probably the reason he hadn't been told in the first place. But the issue wasn't just that he gave her jewellery, no the problem was what it signified to Draco and any other pureblood out there. He didn't know Hermione well but he was still worried that she didn't understand the implications of such a gift and was determine to find out what the hell his friend was playing at. When the other Slytherin's were busy talking about their favourite pastime, lion trapping they called it, Theo cornered Draco before classes would start again.

“So I had Runes this morning.” He said conversationally.

“You have Runes every Monday morning, what are you getting at?” Draco asked eying his friend cautiously.

"There was a witch there, funny little thing she is. Teamed up with me for a few weeks while we're working on a translation.”

“Hmm” Draco said, not even bothering to sound interested.

“She had this pretty little pearl necklace around her neck. Looked expensive too.”

“Probably was.”

“What the hell are you playing at Draco?!”

“What?” He asked trying to sound innocent.

“Don't pretend like you don't know. The necklace! She doesn't even understand-“

“She understands perfectly well. I explained it all before I let her accept it.”

“And she still took it?”

“Well, you did say she was wearing it.” Draco pointed out.

“Is it really that serious?”

"Looks like it.” Draco replied as he reached for the pumpkin juice.

It was of course at that precise moment that the sleeves of his cloak bunched up and Theo saw the watch on his wrist. The muggle watch.

“What the fucks that? Don't tell me she gave it to you.” The I said in shock.

“Would I wear it if she hadn't?”

“Fuck! This whole thing. It's worse than I thought. I thought it was just, you know, two teenagers taking frustrations out on each other but this” he said gesturing to the watch “this, you love her don't you?”

"I do.” Draco replied heavily.

“Have you told her?”

“I have.”

“And did she…”

“Say it back? Yes. She did.”

“Merlin Draco, you're screwed. What are you going to do?”

“What can I do? Except enjoy what I have. There's a war going on out there and the chances of us both surviving are pretty slim. Maybe it'll never be an issue.”

“You know, as much as I wish that wasn't true I understand.” Theo replied as he turned his gaze towards Luna who was smiling at him.

 

oOoOoOo

 

It wasn't until the next morning that Hermione found out Ron was recovering in the hospital wing from drinking cursed mead. He was lucky to be alive. Lucky Harry was quick enough with his thinking to shove a bezoar into his mouth. She'd tried to see him the instant she found out but since she wasn't allowed in until that evening Harry had to drag her away with promises that he was fine and they would be back later that night. The news spread through the castle faster than Dragon Pox in a nursery and for once Hermione was wishing the gossip was about her instead.

Of course everyone was wondering where and how Professor Slughorn’s mead managed to get cursed and into the castle. The stories going around were something the Daily Prophet would be would be proud of though it was still possible of course that there could be truth to some of the stories.

Hermione and Harry barely paid any attention to their work or their meals until they were able to see their friend that evening and as soon as the last class of the day was over they raced to the hospital wing where Madam Pomfrey reluctantly let them in, the Headmaster, their head of house and Professor Snape had all managed to beat the pair of them there. It was certainly a worrying ordeal having a student drink a cursed drink from a professor. Especially when that drink was actually meant for the hHadmaster himself.
Ron was asleep and apparently had been for the whole day since Madam Pomfrey had given him a sleeping draught to let his body recover from the shock of dying (and apparently the effects of a very strong love potion that had been meant for Harry) so violently. Or nearly dying. It wasn't exactly clarified.

Ron started to mumble in his sleep as Harry stood by his side, Hermione, ever the dutiful friend, sat next to him and took his hand, willing him to wake up so she could see with her own eyes that he was fine.

“M…..mion…..Mione” he mumbled to everybody's surprise.

Hermione just gripped his hand tighter and whispered to him about how she was there and not going anywhere. He seemed to relax at that and feel into a deeper sleep.
Lavender, who had come into the room without anybody noticing didn't seem impressed at all but instead of saying anything she just pushed Harry out of the way, and sat down taking Ron’s other hand and crying all about how her Won-Won had died and nobody thought to tell her. Harry clearly found the whole scene quite funny and struggled to keep a straight face, especially after Dumbledore announced the adults should leave and leave the kids and their ‘young love’ alone. It wasn't quite clear which girl he was referring to when he said that which only set Harry off more.

Later on when Hermione and Harry walked back to the common room he once again brought up the now sore subject of Draco Malfoy being a Death Eater.

“Mione, I know you don't want to hear this but I think it was Malfoy. With the mead.”

“And why on earth would he curse Ron, Harry?” She asked irritably.

“The mead wasn’t meant for him Hermione, Slughorn said he had intended to give it to Dumbledore. I think Malfoy is after Dumbledore. I think he's a Death Eater-“

“I've already told you Harry-“

“I know you don't believe me, you've seen his arm and all that but I'm not buying it. I know something isn't right with him. You know he never sleeps in his dorm? Ever.”

“You're still following him?” She asked in disbelief.

“Of course I am! And I'll carry on doing so until I figure out what he's hiding.when have I ever been wrong?”

Hermione raised her eyebrows at him and blinked before answering. “First year you thought Professor Snape was after the the Philosophers Stone, second year you thought Draco was the heir of Slyther-“

“All right all right maybe I'm not always right but most of the time at least. There's just something not adding up.” He said as they reached the painting of the fat lady and entered their common room.

Hermione walked straight to her dorm to change then headed down to the library eager to distract herself with Homework.

She wasn't sure why but she was shocked to find Draco and Theo sat at their usual table in the back. It was Tuesday and usually that meant Draco would be in their room for the night but since he obviously knew she wasn't going to turn up he had made other plans. Not even bothering with what people might say or think she headed over, threw her bag down angrily and pulled out her work without a word to anyone before she sat down and started on a Charms assignment. Had she paid attention to the two boys she would have noticed the silent argument brewing between them, trying to pass the task of asking what was wrong over to one another. Eventually Theo gave up.

“Want to work on that Runes assignment Granger?”

“What? Oh Runes, yes sure. You have your books with you.”

“Always do.” He said with a forced smile and a wink as he moved his chair closer to hers while they both pulled out the correct work. It was only about twenty minutes later when he finally asked what was evidentially on his mind. “How's Weasley?”

It hadn't taken Hermione long after leaving Harry to think back on Draco’s behaviour for that day, he'd been very uptight, nervous, pale. Looked like he hadn't slept. Which was probably true but most of all he refused to look at her. At first she had thought nothing of it. Maybe he just didn't want to draw attention to them but the more she thought of Harry’s words and Draco’s own words about the mission he had been given, the more she became anxious and worried. Fearing that this might actually be one of the times that Harry was right. Her stomach turned just at the thought.

“Alive.” Was all she replied before she glared at Draco and added “Later, we need to talk.”then went back to the assignment with Theo, ignoring the nervous body language emitting from her boyfriend.

When the library closed just before curfew Hermione said her goodbyes to Theo before taking the lead and heading to the Room of Requirement, evidently meaning for Draco to follow her.

“Good luck mate. Rather you than me. I'm glad my girlfriends a Ravenclaw because a pissed off Gryffindor girlfriend sounds scarier than a pissed off Slytherin girlfriend and that's saying something.” Theo said before he headed down to the dungeons and Draco took off after Hermione.

When Draco reached the room a couple of minutes later Hermione was stood near the door waiting for him. She barely gave him time to close the door before she let her anger out.

“Was it you?!”

"Was what m-"

“Don't insult my intelligence Draco. You and I both know exactly what I'm talking about. Now tell me, did you curse that mead? The stuff that would have killed one of my best friends if the other hadn't been an idiot in Potions classes. I've never been more thankful to not win something in my life.” She said referring to their first lesson with Slughorn when Harry and Theo's potion had gone horribly wrong but instead of producing it for testing Harry had taken a bezoar out of the professors cupboard and presented that instead. Winning unfairly.

“Me either.” He admitted glumly.

“So you're admitting it? She asked, her anger not fading at all.

Draco didn't do anything except nod slowly, eyes cast to the floor.

For a long moment Hermione didn't say or do anything. She was too stunned. Then all of a sudden she remembered something Harry had said about the mead being intended for their Headmaster and things started to click into place.

Pulling herself together she calmly asked him “Was it meant for Dumbledore?” Forcing him to look her in the eyes as he tried to answer. His face, still pale and drawn, deep dark circles under his eyes and remorse plastered over every feature he nodded, unable to use his voice.

Taking a deep breath Hermione asked the last thing she needed answering. “This…this was your mission? To kill Dumbledore?”

He blinked and sighed heavily before nodding once again, a tear escaping his eyes.

Hermione barely gave him a chance to breathe as she threw her arms around him, hysterical from crying and sobbed into his shoulder. “He should have died Draco! He would have died!”

Putting his arms around his girlfriend Draco let his own tears flow as he buried his face in her wild mane of hair, wondering why on earth she was still there, holding on to him like he was her anchor, why wasn't she hitting him and storming out? Going to their headmaster and telling him everything? But thankful that she didn't seem to want to run for the hills. He clung on tighter, breathing in her scent, knowing full well it could be the last time he ever got to do so. She was holding on to him now but her emotions were all over the place and he feared that once she pulled herself together she would walk out the door and never come back.

Eventually he passed her a handkerchief, pureblood boys were raised to be gentlemen and gentlemen carried handkerchiefs just in case the need arose. For once he was glad of that stupid rule.
Taking the green, of course it had to be green she thought, fabric with the initials D.L.M on she dried her eyes and blew her nose before he told her to keep it and she put it in her pocket. She was still upset and would probably need it again soon.

To his surprise she dragged him over to the couch and forced him to sit the she lay with her head in his lap and let him run his fingers through her hair. She knew that relaxed him and he looked so broken at the thought he could have killed a classmate that she honestly would have done anything.

After ten minutes she eventually broke the silence in favour of getting more answers.

“Draco if you can't complete this mission what-“

“I think we can both assume we know perfectly well what will happen to me love.” He replied as he stared at the fire, continuing to run his fingers through her hair and letting the small comfort of knowing she was still there relax him a bit.

“You're not a murderer Draco.” She insisted.

“A murderer or dead. That's the choice I have.” He said with very little emotion.

“When you said it was bad I never…I didn't even really think about it I guess I just put it out of my mind and pretended it wasn't real. You've been dealing with this on your own since Christmas. You should have told me. I could have helped.”

“No. No Hermione. I'm not having you involved in this. You have helped. Trust me.”

“I've not done anything. Maybe I could-“

“You keep me alive Hermione. If it wasn't for you I'm sure I'd be long dead. The nights I spend in this room with you are what keep me going. Your love, your belief in me, that keeps me going. You do help. You help more than you could know but I am not having you tainted by this. Besides Theo knows, I haven't been alone.”

“He does?”

“His father is a Death Eater determine to sacrifice him to our master, much like my own did. He's
A very twisted and sick man and likes to boast about all things to do with his job so naturally, his only son and heir should know. He's been a good friend to have. Let's me drink myself stupid on his expensive Firewhiskey.”

“I like Theo.”

“I thought you might.”

“You don't think-“

“That he will get marked?” He asked but instead of waiting for her answer carried on “I’m doing my best to stop that from happening but once the summer is here I don't think he will last long, no. I give it a week into the holidays. He doesn't deserve this.”

“Neither of you deserve this.” Hermione insisted.

"And yet we have no choice. Children of war forced to do their parents’ bidding.” He mused.

“Suppose it's a good job I don't have parents then isn't it?” She asked as he pulled her in tighter.

“For now at least, I suppose it is.” He whispered. “So you're not leaving me?” He finally asked.

“Why would I?”

“I'm a Death Eater on a mission to kill our beloved headmaster and your best friend got caught in the cross fire. Which I am sorry about by the way. I may not like Weasley but I certainly wouldn't purposely kill him.”

“You're a sixteen year old boy being forced to do the bidding of a madman, against your will. And you don't need to tell me you're sorry I can tell. You're not a killer Draco. And besides, I already promised Theo I wouldn't leave.”

"You...what?" He asked confused.

“Oh yes we had the whole ‘don't hurt my friend’ conversation. He says he's never seen you so happy. Apparently you were a miserable kid too.”

“He's-“

“Worried. About his friend. Let him have it. Besides if we're being honest I did threaten him first so it was only fair.”

“You threatened him?” Draco asked bewildered.

“Of course I did, he's dating one of my best friends who just so happens to be one of the purest, most innocent girls I know. So yes, I threatene him. Used all my influence as the brightest witch of our age to scare him too. I think I impressed him.” She said laughing softly.

“Yeah I imagine you did love.” He replied laughing himself.

“It wasn't needed though. The talk. I'm not going to leave, well not over something like that. I love you Draco and we will get through this. Somehow. Now come on, let's get some sleep.” She said as she stood up and dragged him towards the bed.

Hermione undressed and put on her pyjamas that she always carried around in her bag before slipping under the covers and getting comfortable.

Just before he let her go asleep Draco pulled her into him, whispered “thank you” in her ear before kissing her goodnight and telling her, once again he loved her as he watched her eyelids flutter and waited for sleep to hopefully come to him.

Chapter Text

Ron was back in classes by the Thursday morning, apparently he had tried to get out of more lessons but Professor McGonagall had threatened to call Mrs Weasley to come up and instantly he was much better.
Classes resumed as usual, the latest castle gossip still revolving around Ron though now he was out of the woods Hermione didn't seem to mind. Ron had apologised to her on the Wednesday evening about his behaviour towards her over the past few weeks and the pair hugged and put it behind them, much to Lavender’s displeasure who's feeling towards Hermione seemed to be becoming more obvious for all to see though nobody could quite understand what Hermione had actually done. There was a small rumour that maybe Ron was her mystery man since it somehow got spread through the entire school that he had been mumbling her name whilst he was unconscious, something that Draco seemed victorious over and yet still angry at the same time. They had been studying in the library when he brought it up, probably doing it in public so she couldn't hex him for it.

“So, I hear Weasley had some interesting things to say in the hospital wing.” Draco had said conversationally.

Unfortunately for Theo he was also stuck revising with the pair of them and knowing where the conversation was going he just groaned and rolled his eyes at his best friend whilst trying to pretend he couldn't hear them.

“That really depends on your definition of interesting, doesn't it?” She asked sweetly.

“I would say another man unconsciously saying my girlfriends name when he's asleep is interesting wouldn't you? Especially when his own girlfriend was present at the time. I hear Potter found it quite amusing.”

“To be fair to Potter, I would have laughed at that too.” Theo added with a laugh.

“Shut up Theo!” Draco hissed at his friend.

“Interesting is hardly a word I would use. We have been friends for six years after all, it's hardly a declaration of love.” Hermione scoffed while Theo continued to laugh.

“No because he just happened to say your name without it meaning anything at all. Seriously Hermione, when are you going to see it for yourself?”

"There's nothing to see Draco!” She snapped back.

“Okay let's see how you would feel about it this way, the tables are turned and it's Pansy in the bed and she unconsciously say’s my name whilst her boyfriend and me are both stood there. Tell me, how would you feel?”

“I umm...-“

“Well I would be there playing Potters part and laughing at the hilarity of the situation.” Theo butted in.

“Who's side are you even on here Theo?” Draco asked his friend.

“Oh, we're taking sides now? Well since you asked, she is prettier and nicer than you and she is my Runes partner, I'd be stupid to mess with a witch who holds the answers to my grades so I'll have to pick her mate. Sorry.” He joked.

“Some bloody friend you are.” Draco muttered under his breath.

“I guess you're right, I would feel a bit upset by it but we can't control what others say or do. If he feels something for me that's more than friendship-“ Hermione began.

“There's no if about that.” Theo interrupted.

“I thought we already established you were on my side?”

“Just pointing out the obvious.”

“Well like I was saying” she carried on as she glared across the table at Theo. “Whatever he feels that's his issue, he has a girlfriend, I'm with you and I'm happy.” She said before stopping to pause and adding “Most of the time. It doesn't matter what he feels because I don't feel the same way so can we stop it now because I'd really rather be doing something more productive than this.” Hermione huffed as she folded her arms across her chest and glared at her boyfriend.

“Merlin woman, I love it when you're angry. Do you know how sexy you look right now?” Draco asked, his trademark smirk growing wider.

“I do not!”

“Urgh! Can the pair of you stop it? Need I remind you where we are?” Theo asked.

“No one will see us Theo no one ever comes around this corner plus Hermione always puts up charms so we can't be seen or heard.”

“Fan-fucking-tastic. Now I'm stuck here with you two going on like an old married couple and nobody will even be able to save me.” He moaned.

Draco laughed at his friend before letting Hermione and him get back to their Runes assignment whilst he got on with some of his own work and for the next few hours the three of them sat comfortable in each other's company before the library closed as curfew loomed closer. As usual Hermione went back to her dorm room though still seemed to be a little angry whilst Draco made his way to the room of Hidden Things.

Draco had been in the room of Hidden Things for a few hours working on the cabinet before he gave up due to frustration and exhaustion, he would normally have had the room transform back into his and Hermione's room but he couldn't bare to sleep in there without her that night so decided he would head back to his dorm to try and sleep in his own bed for what was the first time in months. He hadn't even been able to take a step out of the door before he noticed the black eyes of Severus Snape staring up at him. It was evident his godfather had been waiting outside the room for him though Draco did wonder why since he didn't usually leave the room until the next morning which he was sure his head of house knew.

“You know, prefects are supposed to set an example to the other students Mr Malfoy. Tell me, how many times have you slept in your own bed since you came back from the holidays?” The professor drawled.

“What's the point asking questions you already know the answer to? Yes I've got detention, just tell me where to be and when.” Draco replied trying to sound his cocky usual self but failing massively.

“No Miss Granger tonight I see?”

“Something else you already knew the answer to I imagine.”

“I'll admit I am surprised she's still around after that unfortunate business with Mr Weasley but then she is a Gryffindor I suppose.”

“Leave her out of this!” Draco hissed.

“She's smart though, as much as I detest the girl I can admit that much. I highly doubt she hasn't figured out who inadvertently nearly killed her little ginger pet.” Snape carried on. “So I've come to the conclusion she must see something in you that others don't. Something good.” He drawled.

“Yeah well let her see what she wants to see.” Draco replied, trying his hardest to save face and keep up appearances to his fellow Death Eater.

“You give me little credit Draco, I'm your godfather am I not? I know you better than you know yourself and I might just happen to agree with your little pet lion.”

“She's not my fucking pet!” Draco spat back.

“Oh? What is she then Draco? Surely you haven't fallen in love with a mudblood? You, the son of Lucius Malfoy, in love with a Gryffindor is enough to put him in St Mungo’s. Add in that she's a mudblood too and well, you might as well start planning his funeral now.”

“I don't give a fuck what that cunt thinks of her. He's hardly a saint himself is he? Can rot in hell for all I care. Actually, maybe I'll just pop over to the manor myself and tell him all about Hermione and just hope the bastard dies in shock, tell him in detail how I ‘sullied’ the Malfoy name with her.” Draco said bitterly.

“I can't deny your plan isn't brilliant but in the highly likely event that it doesn't work what happened then? You would be putting both of your lives at risk and whilst I care little for the little witch you are my godson and I made an unbreakable vow to protect you.”

“You did what?! Why would you do that?” Draco spluttered.

“Narcissa is very persuasive. It seems she doesn't fully trust her husbands loyalties to his master and is willing to do, or rather, have me do, anything to stop her son from becoming like his father. I just happen to agree with her.”

“So the mission?”

"You're going to let me help you.”

“You can't. He will kill me.”

“And it will, quite literally, kill me if you don't let me help Draco. I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. Now go to your room and get some sleep before classes start again. If your mother saw how awful you looked right now I'm sure we would both be suffering. I'll see you in my office on Monday night we have many things to discuss” he said before looking at a spot over Draco’s shoulder near a suit of armour that he could have sworn moved. “And here is not the place. Goodnight.” He said before he turned on his heels and headed back towards his quarters leaving Draco to mull over his words on his way back to his dorm.

Draco was back in his dorm ten minutes later where dropped onto the bed and fell asleep instantly without even bothering to change into more comfortable clothes. It didn't take long for the nightmares to return just as they did any time he tried to sleep without Hermione lay next to him making him feel safe. It couldn't have been more than an hour that had passed before Theo was stood over his shaking, sweating body and shouting his name repeatedly to wake him up. Evidently he had been too tired to even bother with a silencing charm. Eventually he managed to break out of the hell that was plaguing his mind and before he could say or do anything Theo passed over a bottle of Firewhiskey to numb the pain before they both went back to sleep or, as was more accurate, pretending to sleep.

oOoOoOo

 

Harry had been sat in his usual corner with Ron doing homework for once when Hermione came through the portrait hole and approached them before collapsing into a seat next to her two best friends. By now there was some unwritten rule about her proving she was still alive and had everything intact after spending the night in the library with Draco. Of course Harry knew better but he still always seemed to be relieved at her presence. Ron however had no idea and would often try to stir the situation more. This time he really shouldn't have done so since Hermione was already on edge after everything that had been going on since Christmas and to top it off the common room was now resembling a a joke shop since Fred and George were having so much luck with their products. She was happy for them both of course but it just made things so much harder when she was supposed to be a prefect and so she was constantly confiscating any Weasley products she laid her eyes on.

Hermione was just sat in the chair, eyes closed trying to relax and ignore Ron’s rambling which she knew was about Draco but really wasn't in the mood to fight over (again) when she opened her eyes and saw that Harry was reading from the Half Blood Prince’s book again and she finally let out all her bottled anger at the pair of them sufficiently. They'd had the same conversation many times before of course but he never listened, not even when she brought up the diary Ginny had been sucked in to. He was enjoying cheating in class too much to give it up and she accused him of preferring to cheat at class rather than keeping his and everyone else's safety in mind. Of course, reckless as Harry was he didn't listen to anything she had to say and when Hermione stormed off to her room once again he made no attempts to apologise or to stop her. That night Harry found himself watching the Marauder’s map as he did every other night and upon looking in the dungeons for Draco he wasn't surprised to find him not there since it had been so long since he had been back there at night. He was however, surprised to see that a dot indicating Severus Snape was standing outside the Room of Requirement twenty minutes later and without thinking, he threw his shoes and invisibility cloak on and went to spy on the pair hoping to get some answers.

When Harry finally turned into the corridor and positioned himself at the side of a suit of armour he realised the Professor and his fellow student had been talking a while already and he had missed a portion of the conversation. What he did hear however only solidified in his mind that he was right. The words mission, kill and unbreakable vow were running through his mind still when he got back to his bed that night. He was sure Snape had an idea he was there in the hallway as his eyes looked right at the spot he was stood in but he still heard enough to believe he had been right. Of course he had to tell Ron the next day, Hermione still wouldn't talk to him and since he now knew he was right about Draco Malfoy he wasn't about to apologise over a simple book so he kept his distance from his best friend for the next few weeks all whilst keeping an eye on her Death Eater boyfriend and making sure she still came back to her dorm each night unhurt and unhappy. It was after a couple of weeks had passed with no signs of Hermione changing her mind that he decided the best cause of action would be to prove to her that he was right.

Chapter Text

The full moon for that month was scheduled for the that Saturday and it was crucial that Hermione and Draco made full use of it to harvest the last of the ingredients needed to finally brew the potion for their Potions assignment. There was only one more full moon left after this one before the school broke up for the Easter holidays and they needed that for the brewing stage otherwise the whole potion would be compromised. The full moon also happened to be scheduled at 10.30am which meant that they would have to do their harvesting in full view of all the students, or rather; all the students who were awake since it was a Saturday after all.

It wasn't exactly rare to see Hermione and Draco together these days, or Hermione and Theo for that matter since both of the Slytherin boys had been unfortunately (at least from an outsiders point of view) paired with the brunette witch for separate class assignments but to be seen together outside of the library or classroom was something else and though Draco didn't care what people thought he had to act like he cared. The pair had managed to get a permission slip from Professor Slughorn to allow them in to the Forbidden Forest on the premise it was only to obtain what they needed and they were to leave the instant they were done and to send red sparks in case of any dangers, they had readily agreed with the professor before heading to the library to go over their progress so far. They had most of the ingredients required to start the brewing process but two of the main ones, and most difficult to obtain were still missing. Fluxweed was to be harvested under the full moon and could be found in the forbidden forest which was the easier of the ingredients they had to collect that day. Unicorn tears was undoubtedly going to be the harder of the two to obtain, even though the full moon technically wasn't needed for this particular ingredient the pair had decided that whilst they were in the forest for the full moon they would kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

They met at the doors that lead onto the grounds after a late breakfast, putting on the usual show of rivalry and hatred they were supposed to feel for each other and if anyone thought otherwise they never mentioned it. They pretended like they hadn't just spent the night together falling asleep in each others arms in the room of requirement. Like they hadn't spent the late hours of the morning exploring one another's bodies as thoroughly as possible before tiredness finally overcame them. Like they hadn't taken advantage of the empty prefects bathroom that morning when they had entered, together. They really couldn't get enough of each other, it almost felt as if they had broken a dam the previous Friday night when they lost their virginities to each other, a dam that had burst and was running deep in their veins, consuming their every need to be with one another.

"Granger, I've told you before tardiness is disrespectful." Draco said, switching from boyfriend to would-be-enemy as he watched her walk down the steps that lead to the Gryffindor tower wearing jeans that hugged her every curve which would have been bad enough before had knew what was under them but now that he could picture her naked form writhing beneath him it just made it more unbearable to see her. He was suddenly very thankful they would be hidden in the forest for the duration of the day and there would be no other students about to watch them even if he was a little scared of the place after the first time he had been there. Hermione wore a cotton shirt and vest combo with her practical boots, necessary for trekking through the forest, in all honesty she looked much like she did back on their first date and Draco couldn't suppress the smile on his face as the memories flashed in his mind.

"I'm hardly tardy, keep them waiting the exact amount of time is what I recall being told to do when in the company of a pureblood wizard."

"And I'm pretty sure those rules are only to be implemented by pureblood witches who are courting the pureblood wizard in question and since you're neither pureblood or courting me then I have to go back to my original statement; tardiness is disrespectful." Draco replied coolly as he noted a pair of seventh year Slytherin's eyeing them on their way out of the great hall.

Hermione sighed heavily and fake stomped her way out the doors and across the grounds towards the edge of the forest knowing the whole time that Draco was watching her arse as she did it. "Are you coming or not Malfoy?" she sneered over her shoulder in his direction.

Draco shook his head feebly to try and get rid of the images in his head before catching her up and staying as close to her as possible without it raising any suspicion from their class mates who all seemed intrigued at the hostile exchange between the two.

As they neared the forests edge they met up with Hagrid just as they had been instructed to, they gave him their permission slip and after a lengthy warning and a not too subtle glare at Draco he finally let them go ahead with some helpful tips at acquiring what they needed.

Hermione pulled a Herbology book out as they wandered through the well worn tracks presumably made by Hagrid over the years and showed Draco what exactly they were looking for.

"I know what Fluxweed looks like, Granger." He said testily as he stepped over fallen logs.

"Sorry, I know you do we just don't have that long to find it that's all." She replied as she continued reading the paragraphs about the plant over and over in the hopes it would give them some sort of clue where to start.

"We need to find a water source, they need more water than the usual plant, I mean I know we're in Scotland so we get a lot of rain anyway but it should be close to water too."

"That makes sense, there is a stream this way, if we hurry we should make it in time." Hermione replied as she snapped the book shut and changed her direction.

Twenty minutes later the pair were crouched down near a stream that undoubtedly led to a river, inspecting the numerous plants that surrounded it until, five minutes before the moon was due to make it's appearance Draco found the plant in question.

"I think I've found it, pass the book over just so we can be sure." Draco called to Hermione who was crouched down, knees in the mud just a few feet away from him.

She walked over with the book in her hands, flipping to the page she had previously been on and upon comparing the plant he had found they decided it was in fact a fluxweed plant. Hermione took the remaining minutes they had left to pull out the gardening tools she had borrowed from Professor Sprout and began to dig around the plant, careful to keep the root intact and when the moon finally presented itself Draco was the one who carefully removed it from its earthy home and wrapped it up in an old tea towel before placing it in his bag.

"So, that's the hard one over with now we just have to track down a unicorn..." Draco joked as they both stood up and brushed off what dirt they could.

"What experience have you had with unicorns exactly?" She asked.

"Other than a brief lesson in Magical Creatures and seeing a man drinking their blood right from the source? None. You?"

"Not a lot, they prefer women though so it's probably best I do this one." She replied as she pulled out a Care of Magical Creatures tome and immediately went straight to the chapter she needed.

"I'm not surprised." Draco mumbled as he remembered the night he saw his professor leaning over the dead unicorn with silvery blood dripping everywhere. It wasn't a memory he liked to revisit. Ever.

"Come on we've got a good couple of hours before we can track one down, it's too early in the day for them to be out just now and we're on the opposite side of the woods too." Hermione said as she gathered her things together and took off in the direction she had deduced would be best to find one of the magnificent creatures.
Just as Hermione had predicted it was late in the afternoon before they managed to track down the unicorns, strands of their tail hair clung to the trees surrounding the area they were using as the current home of their blessing. They waited anxiously and quietly a couple of hundreds yards away from the home the unicorns had made but making sure to keep them in sight in the hopes one would eventually leave the blessing for an adventure in the rest of the forest. Approaching them as they were was not an option, unicorns could be quite vicious if they felt they or their young were in any form of danger and as there were at least fifteen of them in the blessing Hermione didn't think the odds were in their favour. She did however manage to carefully bottle a few strands of unicorn hair into some vials without alerting them to her existence.

"So are you expecting to find out anything new about your family with this potion? Given it works of course." Draco had asked quietly as they sat waiting for their opportunity.

"Not really. I know my parents were both the only child in their family, I know my grandparents' names but I'm not too sure about my great grandparents or pretty much anything beyond that. My grandparents had all passed away before I was born. I guess just seeing their names and my family history will be some sort of closure? I don't know." Hermione answered thoughtfully. "Is it worth even asking you?" She joked lightly.

"I would be very surprised if it told me anything I didn't already know. In fact it almost feels like a waste to use it on me. How much do you think we will be able to brew?"

"I would say the brewing amount should be enough for between five to seven vials full. If I've calculated it correctly. We need to use it on you so you can be our tester. Your family tree is pretty well known and documented, if we use you as our tester we will know if the potion works or not. Do you think it would work for me with it being muggle ancestry?" She asked him, the question something that had been on her mind since they had began their research in the field.

"Blood is blood. I can't see why not. It would likely tell a half bloods family so I can't see why it wouldn't for a muggle born. But we should test it on a half blood first. One person or family isn't a big enough test basis." He shrugged.

"I agree, we will use Harry. His family is pretty well known and he's a half blood, it makes sense." Hermione mused. "That's three. We should get another four vials out of it, assuming it works."

"Theo probably wouldn't mind doing it and we need to save a vial for Slughorn." Draco replied deep in thought. "And we should probably test it on another female too, I don't know if there will be a difference but for testing purposes it's worth covering everything we can think of. That leaves Pansy or Daphne."

"Daphne. Definitely Daphne. Then there's one left, a Weasley would be a good option, another well documented family tree. So it's either Ron or Ginny but since Ron is in Potions with us it makes sense he does it. You can do it as soon as the potion is brewed just so we know whether or not it works and the rest of us can wait until the last Potions class to do it, again assuming it works."

"Assuming it works." Draco agreed.

It was only thirty minutes later when a fully grown unicorn left the blessing and went to walk deeper into the forest, galloping right by Hermione and Draco without even realising. Once it settled itself near a close stream Hermione approached it carefully and gently, taking care so as not to frighten or startle the creature with her presence. It took a further fifteen minutes for Hermione to coax the unicorn to give her some of it's tears, all the while Draco was sure she wouldn't be able to manage the task and they would likely fail the assignment they had worked hard on.

"How did you get it to give you them?" He'd asked on their walk back to castle.

"I sang to it and played with it's mane. At first I tried talking to him but he just looked at me like I was an idiot but when I moved closer to touch him and he let me I just started singing without thinking and when I looked down he was crying so I pulled out a vial and held it against the falling tears while I carried on singing to him. When the song was over he had stopped crying and then went back towards the blessing." She answered quietly.

"I don't think I've ever heard you sing, what did you sing him?" He asked as they finally walked on to the school grounds towards a waiting Hagrid.

Hermione sniffed a little before answering "You are my Sunshine. It was the first thing that came into my head. My dad used to sing it to me when I was little." She said as she remembered the nights he would tuck her into bed before singing to her.

"I don't think I've ever heard it before."

"Maybe I'll sing it for you one day or you could just ask Harry, I'm sure he knows it." Hermione replied as a smile crept across her lips.

"Not likely. Not in this lifetime." Draco muttered under his breath as they approach Hagrid.

"Everythin' go alrigh' Hermione?" Hagrid's loud voice boomed above them.

"Got everything we needed and both still in one piece." She said as she gave the half giant a twirl to emphasis her point. "Didn't come across Ronan or Firenze but to be fair after what happened last year I'm sure they would be much more welcoming than they normally would anyway." Hermione grinned happily. "Anyway, we better get inside and clean up, had to dig up fluxweed and we got covered in so much mud that even a cleaning charm wouldn't get it all out."

"Sure yer fine Hermione?" He asked again as he looked pointedly at Draco.

"Very sure, see you at dinner Hagrid." She said as she started to walk towards the castle doors.

"What happened with the centaurs last year?" Draco asked as he caught up to her.

Hermione smiled mischievously before turning to her boyfriend "I delivered Umbridge to them." she answered.

"You're brilliant you know that?" He asked as he smirked at the witch in front of him who was covered in thick mud though probably no more than himself. "Meeting up after dinner?"

"Probably, I'll let you know." She said as she quickly glanced around to make sure nobody could see them and kissed his cheek before heading towards the prefects bathroom to get cleaned up.

"Well well well, Never thought I'd see the day Draco Malfoy was kissed by Hermione Granger" A voice rang out from behind a rather large tapestry.

Draco paled at the voice before turning towards the source ready to exercise damage control "Zabini? What are you doing?" he hissed.

"What am I doing? You're the one sullying yourself with a mudblood. Harry Potters mudblood at that. Possibly the most famous one besides his mother." Blaise answered as he stepped into the light.

"Sullying" Draco snorted. "Yeah right like I would-"

"Don't" Blaise interrupted "I've been watching you both for a while now and it's pretty obvious to the well trained eye."

"You mean like you and Weasley's girlfriend? Are you that desperate?" Draco asked trying to turn the tables on the other man.

"Clearly not as desperate as you are since Brown is at least a pureblood. Tell me Draco what does a mudblood taste like?" He asked with a wicked twinkle in his eyes.

Blaise was a lot of things, he was a smooth talker, he slept around and was a big hit with the ladies, he didn't have a steady girlfriend ever and to him quality and quantity were two rules he lived by when it came to women but one thing he didn't do was throw the word mudblood about. All the Slytherin's knew the Italian man didn't believe in the pureblood politics so hearing him say the words with such ease twice in one conversation about a girl Draco Malfoy was in love with was definitely going bring the blonde man's wrath down him.

Draco ignored his wand in favour of his hands as his fist connected with Blaise's nose then he pushed him up against the wall faster than he could even think about hexing the man. "One more word, Zabini." He warned through clenched teeth as his hand tightened around Blaise's throat and blood spilled out of his nose.

Draco should have known better than to fall for Blaise's tricks, they'd known each other since they were four years old after all and he knew he didn't believe in all the blood politics but he couldn't bare to hear his girlfriend to be talked about in such a way especially by someone who he considered one of his best friends. He didn't have a whole lot of friends as it was.

Blaise laughed through gasping breaths and smirked at Draco before replying "Merlin Draco, you're so easy to rile up sometimes. I've known about this for a while, you're just confirming my theory here."

Draco let go of Blaise's throat "How long?" he demanded.

"Before Christmas" Blaise replied as he brought a handkerchief to his bloody nose.

"Shit" Draco spat clearly worried about the repercussions sure to come his way.

"Relax mate, I'm not going to tell anyone. I mean I would have already if I was wouldn't I? But honestly, was there need for such a huge bouquet of flowers last week? I was half expecting to find you had been hexed into oblivion after that!" Blaise laughed as he put his arm around his friend and the pair of them made their way to the dungeons.

When Hermione arrived at the great hall for dinner an hour later with Harry and Ginny in tow she had almost forgotten about the nightly owl post that came and, as she did most nights, went immediately to pile her plate up before tucking in as a small black and grey owl dropped the evenings Daily Prophet in front of her. As she always did she absently picked up the copy and started to scan the front page. She had stopped her subscription a few years before but curiosity had gotten the better of her and wanting to keep an eye on Rita Skeeter she had reinstated the subscription in an attempt to keep tabs on the witch. Just as she read through the front article, something about investments and Gringotts, she came across a headline in the bottom right hand corner that was not too subtle and yet not too obvious either though clearly nobody would miss it. 'HEARTBREAK AT HOGWARTS turn to page 4 to find out all about the promiscuous woman inside the castle walls' Hermione groaned at the sight, she was already positive the article would be about her but when she turned to page four she really wasn't expecting to find a picture of her and Harry that had been taken during the Triwizard Tournament covering the majority of the page.

'It is with great regret I write this article outing our favourite Gryffindor Princess, former girlfriend of one Harry Potter and Viktor Krum. A source inside the castle recently gave us some inside information about the muggle born witch and has kept us up to date on the situation as it stands. It appears that sweet little muggle born Hermione Granger is not at all what she appears to be. Just before Halloween she announced to the castle she had a 'boyfriend' who she wanted to remain a secret, breaking the heart of a fellow classmate in the process. Of course at the time nobody had believed her but as the months went by the story continued. When on Valentines day no less than twelve owls delivered a bouquet of roses that would rival even Merlin's gravestone. It is said a commotion was made in the great hall at breakfast that morning causing detentions to be handed out. Then later on at dinner when she broke the heart of her former boyfriend and lover; Harry Potter all over again and went on to stamp on the heart of poor Roger Weasley in the process. It had been rumoured Mr Weasley was Miss Granger's mystery man but when a fight broke out over the Valentines feast our sources say that is definitely not the case even though we were alerted to the small incident recently where Roger Weasley managed to drink cursed mead and was muttering the muggle born's name unconsciously. How many hearts will she rip out and stamp on before someone does it back to her? So, who is this mystery man do we think? Who is rich enough to send such an impressive amount of roses? Cast your vote witches and wizards we would be happy to hear of your thoughts on the matter. Rita Skeeter.'

"Oh you've got to be kidding" Hermione grumbled as the residents of the hall started muttering to themselves about the article and pointing in her direction. "How is this news?" She shouted, clearly enraged.

"Let me see that." Harry said as he snatched it from her hands.

"Holy fuck that's...that's-" Ginny said as she read the article over her boyfriends shoulder.

"Absolutely ridiculous" Hermione said as she looked up to the Slytherin table to see Draco with a copy in his hands. "He's not going to be happy" Hermione sighed as Draco, Theo and Blaise were bent over a copy of the paper.

"She mentioned you're a muggle born no less than three times" Ginny pointed out.

"That's all?" Hermione asked before turning to the meal in front of her and started to push the food around her plate.

Chapter Text

Hermione had been right about Draco not liking the article but was more shocked at Theo's reaction, the other Slytherin boy was positively furious on her behalf and any time Hermione was around him he wouldn't give up talking about how he was planning to get Rita Skeeter back for what she had done. There had even been mention of the cruciatus curse at one point, though she was sure he didn't actually mean it. Draco, although despised what had been written and published, carried on acting like public enemy number one to his secret Gryffindor girlfriend, often asking who the mystery man was, commenting on the article and her 'lovers spat' with 'Roger' or asking why she had to go and break the poor Chosen One's heart. It was all light hearted banter and Hermione gave as good as she got to the ferret and his pug faced side kick who it seemed was stuck to his hip throughout the new found gossip but she could tell her boyfriend wasn't about to let the whole incident slide as easily as he was pretending to.
Blaise though didn't seem like it was news at all and essentially it wasn't, the parts that were true at least. With his thoughts on blood purity and politics being widely known he was able to approach the brunette witch in the corridors and make suggestive hints regarding the article. She assumed it was all an act to keep people from realising what Theo was saying or doing since he would have most likely been in trouble if he had been overheard defending Hermione Granger of all people. She was just thankful that most of their public meetings took place in a dark and gloomy part of the library that nobody ever seemed to venture into.

Hermione had found out about Blaise's knowledge of their relationship the evening the article had been published but much to Draco's surprise she hadn't been all that shocked, she knew Draco was never sleeping in his own bed anymore and since it was obvious Blaise was a bit more attentive to his surroundings than Ron was and add in that he was Draco's friend, she had expected him to figure it out eventually. What she hadn't expected was to find out her boyfriend had punched one of his closest friends all because of a stupid word and so didn't talk to him for two whole days unless it was homework related.

The next week went by quite fast, and other than the usual jaunts about her mystery lover and questions about the love triangle she was apparently part of, Harry and Ron included of course - Hermione found herself settling into her routine, glad that her friend was out of the hospital wing and back to playing Quidditch so he could focus his attention on that rather than her. Ron hadn't exactly been too thrilled to read the article in the prophet, least of all because he did actually have his own girlfriend and didn't appreciate being dragged in to more girl drama than was necessary. He did though find it rather hilarious that his name wasn't even right, if there was ever a reporter you would want to get your name wrong it was definitely Rita Skeeter.
She wasn't so lucky when it came to Harry, he was furious about the article just as she had known he would be and even went so far as to blame himself - his friendship making her a target of course, but Hermione put a stop to that train of thought before he even finished the sentence. And then she found out her best friend was pretty much stalking her boyfriend any chance he got along with his now out of control obsession with the Half Blood Prince's book. The pair of them were barely speaking after their latest argument about the two things. Harry, too stubborn to back down and Hermione just as stubborn, insisting she was right.

"You won't realise until it's too late will you? What will happen if you blindly use one of those spells out of your precious book thinking it's nothing more than a simple hex and it turns out to be something much more serious?!" She had all but screamed at him in the middle of the common room one night, long after everyone else had gone to bed and she had caught him trying to sneak out to follow Draco. Again.

Harry had mumbled something about her being jealous that he was getting better marks than her in the class and it was the reason she was acting the way she was. He had actually used the word spiteful before she stormed back to her bed with a slam of the door. As always, Hermione had been right, at least about one thing; Harry didn't realise the dangers of the book until it was too late.

It was Friday afternoon just before lunch and all morning Hermione had kept a closer eye on Draco than usual. She had noticed at breakfast that he had looked so much worse than he normally did. Wednesday's and Thursday's were spent in the library with him and Theo before she would head back to the Gryffindor tower to prove to Ron she was still alive and settled down for the night in her own bed, which meant she had no idea how much sleep he had gotten the past two nights but she could easily guess that the answer was less than none. When she saw him at breakfast that morning she noticed the dark rings around his eyes, his hands had been noticeably shaking and he looked thinner than usual. She managed to talk to Theo in Ancient Runes hoping she could help somehow though knowing what the issue was she wasn't all that hopeful.

"I'm worried about Draco. He looks like he's not slept in months." Hermione cried out when she couldn't focus on the text they were supposed to be translating.

Theo sighed as he took over their work. "He probably hasn't. But since you share a bed with him you would know that more than me."

"I don't share a bed with him that often." She defended. "Four nights a week."

"And it would be more if it wasn't for your pet weasel." He said pointedly.

"I'm worried. The mission, he, what if-" she said working herself up into a state and not taking care to remember where she was or who was around.

"I'll keep a closer eye on him when you're not around. There's nothing we can do about....the other thing. But I suppose I can remind him to eat, sleep and drink." He said, hoping to settle the Gryffindor he had become friends with over the past few weeks.

As much as Blaise tried to throw people off of the scent of Theo when it came to Hermione it still got around the castle that the pair were spending an unusual amount of time with each other all things considered and when one of the Ravenclaw's in their Ancient Runes class let slip that Hermione had teamed up with him willingly for their translation assignment word spread through the castle that of course he must be her mystery man. He was a Pureblood and came from a family that had a lot of money so it made sense. Except it was totally ridiculous and unfounded. All the rumours did was cause Theo to rage even more about Rita Skeeter and her articles and the subject of unforgivables was brought up once again.

As usual on Friday's classes finished early for the sixth years and all they had left was Potions then lunch. Hermione sat with Draco through the hour just as their professor had declared on his first day. She poured over their research, began writing all their notes in a much tidier and less complex way and went through the list of ingredients the needed once more. By now both her and Draco were well aware of what they needed to do, of the applications and theory behind their work and were actually quite proud and excited of the achievements they had made so far, especially since they were sure it was going to work. Hermione tried her hardest to ignore her boyfriend who could barely keep his eyes open but it was proving to be difficult so she took over the tasks for the lesson. She watched him out of the corner of her eyes as he looked like he was struggling to breathe and after a quick look around the classroom placed her hand on his thigh and gave it a small but hopefully reassuring squeeze hoping he would take some comfort in the only thing she could offer him in that moment.

Draco was out of his seat before the class ended and practically ran out the door as the bell rang to signify lunch was to be served. Hermione was still packing up the rest of their research as she watched Harry leave his to Theo and followed Draco through the door where she had no doubt in her mind he would continue to follow him, intent on finding his proof her boyfriend was a death eater.

She turned towards Theo as panic and worry quickly etched their way across her face, knowing nothing good could come from Harry following Draco right now when both boys were in such a mess and felt a tiny sliver of relief when the brown haired boy nodded at her unasked question and ran after Harry as quickly as he could, leaving Hermione to pack up their work too.

Hermione resorted to using her wand to hastily pack up all of their things and was just glad her bag had enough room to fit it all since technically she was now carrying the work of four people. As quickly as she could she slung her bag over her shoulder and followed Theo out the door hoping to catch sight of him in the halls. She wasn't so lucky, the halls were now crowded as students filed out of every classroom and headed towards the great hall. She desperately started running down the corridor in the direction she was sure she had seen them go as they had exited the classroom but no sign of any of the boys showed up and she began to worry more. It was just as she heard a second year girl talking about Moaning Myrtle when she remembered how Harry had thrown in her face that her boyfriend was spending a lot of time in the out of use girls bathroom. Trying but failing, epically, to show how he was obviously a death eater because of it. Of course, Hermione had pointed out how they had spent a lot of time in there themselves, particularly in their second year when they illegally brewed polyjuice potion and turned themselves into their Slytherin class mates. Or tried to as was Hermione's case.

Just as Hermione remembered the conversation she picked up her speed and carried on down the corridor and ascended a staircase before turning into another corridor and running as fast as she could through the crowds of students so she could get to the bathroom before anything too bad happened. She knew Harry's recent obsession with her boyfriend being a death eater wasn't totally unfounded but since he had no clue about the how and they why of what was going on in Draco's life she didn't feel it was his place to judge. As far as she was concerned Draco had had as little choice in his role of the war as Harry did, like his godfather had once said to him 'The world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters. We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are.' Oh how she wished that if there was ever one thing that came out of Sirius' mouth to listen to it would be that!

Hermione was going so fast, her head spinning so violently with the what's if's, that she actually managed to completely bypass the bathroom altogether and continued to run until she got to the other end of the corridor and realised her mistake before backtracking, remembering this time to stop in time.
Just as she reached the bathroom Hermione stopped short of opening the door and instead turned to listen in in the hopes of getting a clue as to what kind of situation she was to be dealing with. Either way she knew it wouldn't be good but she never dreamed it could go as badly as it did.

"Potter, put your wand away." She heard Theo trying to reason.

"Not until he tells me what it is he needs to do that's so bad he would get killed for it." Harry spat back.

"It's none of your fucking business Potter." She heard Draco shouting angrily but still unable to hide the emotion from his voice. She knew that emotion well, she'd heard it many times since Christmas, locked away in the room of requirement with just her to find solace in she had watched as he broke down in front of her. Broke down over what happened at Christmas. Broke down over his family. Broke down over nearly killing a classmate. But worst of all was the breakdowns over his mission, over having been tasked to kill their headmaster. She literally couldn't bare it a second longer after hearing the pain in his voice and pushed the door open as swiftly as she could, intent on putting a stop to whatever scene she would walk into despite having no plan whatsoever.

Harry didn't see or even hear her enter the room and she hadn't been quiet about it, he was far too focused on the target in front of him, his wand never faltering. Theo and Draco though, didn't miss a thing and the moment both boys saw her step into the room she could see the immediate relief pass through their eyes. Theo's shoulders sagged a little though they were still squared, still ready to defend in case the need arose. Draco looked even worse than he had during class, the lights in the bathroom making him look worse. His sallow skin next to white blonde hair was a bad enough combination without the black rings around his eyes and the obvious red marring his tear stained face - but he didn't relax. Not even a little, in fact it seemed as though just as easily as relief flashed across his eyes that worry did too and she knew that worry wasn't about himself. No that worry was all about her and the wand currently aimed at his chest.

"Hermione" Theo sighed at the sight of the frazzled witch.

"What the hell do you think you're doing Harry?!" She screamed at him as he turned to where Theo was looking.

"Hermione, I heard him. I'm telling you I'm right, he's a death eater I don't care what you say. I know." Harry insisted.

"I don't give a fuck of he's a flying monkey Harry, this has gone on too far." She warned, her voice not lowering in tone even slightly. Hermione watched in the corner of her eye as Draco's hand twitched against his wand, ready to jump to her defence if he should need to.

"You don't care that you're....that your shagging a death eater?! Does he even care about you or is it all just some twisted plot. For his master." He shouted back. That was the moment they would all remember as being the catalyst for what happened next.

Later Hermione would say she didn't remember much of what happened except that she saw Draco's wand raise just in time to be able to throw up a shield to protect Harry. It took days and a few potions for her memory to return fully and when it did she wished she hadn't bothered as it only plagued her in the form of nightmares.

Hermione watched as Draco's hand rose higher, if she hadn't have became so used to to him over the past four months she was sure she would have missed the tell tale signs of him about to release a spell but as it was she knew exactly what he was doing right before he did it and it gave her time to protect her friend. Whether he was being unreasonable or not she wasn't about to let anyone get hurt if she could help it. Unfortunately she was too busy focusing on keeping the shield in place to notice Harry retaliate. And so when the jet of green light shot from his wand she was forcibly pushed back and fell to the floor, unable to catch herself.

As she took a few precious seconds to catch her breath and regain her strength Hermione noticed that Theo had taken her place and was desperately trying to stop them both, wand raised and a shield sent up in between both boys, copying her tactic. It was probably the worst thing he could have done in hindsight. Unfortunately, right as Theo shot off the spell it seemed as though Draco and Harry had tried to counter each other at the same time and both spells reached the middle of the room, inches from touching, just as the shield sprung up and all three spells backfired on the owner of said shield. Theo.

Hermione watched as lights in blue, green and white collided in the air and, with a split second of suspense in her chest she saw them redirect towards him. The last caster of a spell. She watched as the Theo was thrown back against the tiled walls and hit his head so violently on a sink that part of it broke off. His eyes were already closed when she tried to look into them for reassurance and he didn't make a sound. She prayed to every god she could think of, wizard, witch and muggle as all thoughts left her brain and she crawled along the grimy floor towards him, desperate to find a pulse and be reassured he was alive despite what her eyes were telling her.

"Theo. Theo, wake up." She cried as her resolve cracked and all rational thoughts left her head. She completely ignored the duelling going on behind her, lost in momentary grief as her brain kept telling her over and over that it was too late for her friend. That he was likely to never wake again. That she would never get to chastise him again for talking about crucioing Rita bloody Skeeter. She sobbed over his body, thoughts of checking for a pulse all but escaped her apparently brilliant mind as she started to grieve on instinct.

And then she felt it. She felt him twitch under her body. At first she didn't believe it, telling herself it was a natural spasm. But then he coughed and she couldn't ignore that. That wasn't a natural spasm the dead made. Not even in the Wizarding word. Unless you were a ghost of course and Theodore Nott was definitely not a ghost. He was alive. He was coughing and there was blood but he was alive and Hermione just cried even harder as her heart soared with relief.

As Theo struggled to tell Hermione, coughing between each word "I...didn't...know...you...cared...so...much" he managed to choke out as blood poured from his mouth. Even in pain he continued to be the ever sarcastic Slytherin and in that moment she had never been more thankful for anything.

"Theo!" Hermione cried through the tears as she pulled herself up and started planting kisses over his forehead and in his messy chestnut brown hair. "Don't you ever do that to me again!" She warned and though her voice had settled just a bit the warning was still loud and clear.

"Stop them" was all Theo managed before he was struggling to breath again through the coughing fit, diverting Hermione's attention back to Harry and Draco who were throwing hexes at each other faster than she had ever seen. Harry was pissed and on a mission to get to the truth but Draco had just watched his girlfriend fall and his best friend be thrown into a wall at a very alarming rate, he wasn't going to sit back and let Harry get away with it even if it was technically him that sent the first hex.

Hermione watched the two in horror, glued to her position next to Theo as she tried desperately to wrack her brains for anything, anything that would help. But her brain was literally failing her when she needed it the most and the brightest girl of her age could only come up with one plan and it was risky. But she didn't give it a second thought as she stood, as she watched Harry's face contort into something unrecognisable, as he turned a deeper shade of red than even Ron had ever turned. And she ran as fast as she could, determined to stop the duelling, to show them exactly what they were doing to one another, to her. To get Theo the help he desperately needed. So she stood in front of Draco and facing Harry, knowing he was the one she needed to calm down the most. And she looked into the bright green eyes of her best friend just as he realised he had already shot off a spell and it was too late. She was in the way and he couldn't do anything to stop it. She watched as a look of pure horror flashed across his face and he tried desperately to reach out to her.

"Sectumsempra" she recalled him shouting as Draco tried to shield them both from his spell. Of course Draco was too late, it wasn't his fault, he did try to protect his witch and the second he saw her stand up he knew what her plan was. She was going to get between them. Ever the Gryffindor. For once he wished she was a damn Hufflepuff! who would run and get help or stay with Theo. So he tried to shield them but he failed. He wasn't quick enough. Oh how he failed.

If Draco had been worried about Theo it was nothing to what he felt when Hermione fell back into his arms with the force of the spell and watched in horror as her chest opened up four huge gaping holes as the scent of copper filled his nose. There was blood everywhere and it just wouldn't stop pouring out. One of the cuts went from her right shoulder right down to the top of her left breast with the skin from either side swollen and raised. It looked to be as deep as it was long. Three more similar cuts ran across her stomach, one was apparently an old wound that had been forced open again. Draco knew that wound was from the year earlier in the Department of Mysteries and it had taken months to heal fully. The two remaining cuts were smaller in size and depth and though they didn't look half as frightening the sheer amount of blood pouring out of them was still alarming.

 

Hermione looked on in a daze, she felt no pain whatsoever, infact it was almost as if she was having an outer body experience. She felt like she was weightless and flying through the air as she watched the scene unfolding from the sidelines.

"No!” Draco cried as he fell to the floor with her in his arms and watched his witch slowly slip away. “What have you done?!” He screamed at Harry.

“No no no. Gods. Hermione? What have I done? No it can't…she can't. Hermione? Please, please be okay. I didn't mean…I should have listened to you. I'm sorry. Please.” Harry cried as he ignored the pooling blood on the floor and knelt beside her.

Draco growled at the other man “Get the fuck away from her Potter.” He said in a manner that was frighteningly calm before ripping her shirt off and set to work on closing the wounds as best he could. He didn't know much when it came to healing magic and how to stop bleeding like this was not something he was even going to make an attempt at lest he make things worse but he did know a simple sewing spell, he wasn't the best at it but it was something at least. After he finished closing up the cuts he stood to take off his shirt before throwing it over Hermione's near naked chest and bent to pick up his girlfriends lifeless body.

Theo watched from a distance as his best friend tried not to fall to pieces over his girlfriends unmoving body and though he was still coughing up blood and his head ached like nothing he had ever felt before he tried to stand to help where he could but his legs stopped him, he couldn't move the left one, couldn't even feel it. "Fuck" he spat as he tried to shuffle closer, intent on getting a closer view to see the damage with his own eyes. "What the fuck were you thinking? What did you get her with?" he growled at Harry.

"I-I don't...I've never" Harry stammered as Draco stood with Hermione in his arms, the stitches, though no where near perfect had somehow managed to stem the flow of blood.

Hermione's head rested on Draco's bare chest as he held her as close and tight as he dared, ready to get her to the hospital wing as fast as he could. "Can you walk?" he asked as he saw Theo and remembered his friends situation.

"Can't feel my leg. But I'll be fine just get her out of here before it's too late." Theo urged his friend.

Draco looked into the green eyes of his best friend, a battle warring in his heart over what he should do. Too scared to leave either of them in the conditions they were in. "Theo, you're coughing up blood I can't leave you." He said urgently.

"You can and you will, get her the fuck out of here." Theo hissed as his head throbbed harder through the talking.

"I'll help him" Harry insisted as he went over to the other boy and bent to help him up.

It was obvious Draco wan't to tell him to go and throw himself off a bridge or something to that effect but he was desperate and Harry was the only one around to help so he simply nodded and turned to the door before running to the hospital wing as fast as he could and thanking Merlin that lunch was being served so he wouldn't have to navigate the crowded corridors or deal with people staring at him carrying a lifeless Hermione Granger in his arms with his shirt draped over her whilst he was half naked and they were both covered in blood. He wasn't even sure how he was going to explain it to Madam Pomfrey.

Chapter Text

Draco barely remembered how he got to the hospital wing only that he did, still clutching Hermione's lifeless body as if it were the only thing anchoring him to the world in that moment. The trip had been as easy as he could have hoped, not a single student, professor or creature were to be seen in the corridors that could have possibly hindered him in his quest and, Merlin above, when he finally stepped foot into the hospital wing he had never been more relieved in his life to see his godfather.

What Snape was doing there had seemed irrelevant, there was just one other student in the room at the time and she wasn't a patient, in fact the very reason for Luna Lovegood's sudden need to be in the hospital wing seemed to have less to do with herself and more to do with Hermione and Theo, who she had already known were hurt, probably even before it had happened. Of course when Draco would look back on this moment he would be furious at the Ravenclaw's methods and curse her for not stopping the attack rather than just being there to help afterwards.

Pushing the door open as quickly as he could whilst still holding Hermione's small frame, Draco entered the nearly empty room and was instantly relieved that the mediwitch, Madam Pomfrey, was not using her dinner hour at the regular time like the majority of the castle seemed to be.

"There you are" Luna breathed a sigh of relief as the two came into her line of sight.

Draco walked over to the nearest bed and gently laid Hermione on the crisp white sheets, her skin was now almost transparent and icy to the touch, her lips and eye sockets such a deep shade of purple they could be mistaken for black and her pulse was so faint it was barely noticeable but she was still there. There was still a slight tinge of redness to her cheeks that gave away her usual blush, blood was still seeping through the cuts; although the flow was much slower it had managed to get through the white school shirt Draco had thrown over her body. And every so often her eyelashes would make the smallest flutter that pierced him right in the chest when he noticed.

"Please" he managed to croak out "you need to help her. She's...she needs help" he said as his body was suddenly over come with an unnatural need to shake uncontrollably.

It was Luna who put her small arms around him and helped him into a chair, Luna who made him focus on his breathing in order to calm his nerves. Luna who asked if he was hurt, Luna who patiently asked what had happened and listened intently while making him breathe into a paper bag she had transfigured for him. Luna who found a blanket and wrapped him up while they watched on as their Potions Master and Mediwitch worked their magic on their girlfriend and friend.

"Tell me what happened" she had said in her sing song voice as her eyes darted back towards the doors behind them.

Draco was vaguely aware that Snape and Madam Pomfrey were listening in but hoping to only have to tell the tale once he tried to answer as best he could, the problem was, he still wasn't too sure where it had all gone so wrong. "I-I don't... Potter was there, with a wand in my face. We tried to calm him but we couldn't. Hermione turned up and she tried but...it's all my fault" he sighed as he rubbed his blood stained hands down his face in an effort to wipe away some of the guilt. "I did this. He-Potter called her...it doesn't matter. I sent the first hex and she-brilliant as she is, tried to save the idiot and it worked too, until he sent a hex back from the side of her shield and she was thrown back." He said as he buried his face further into his hands and his elbows sank to his knees.

"Is that when this happened?" Luna asked as delicately as she ever was.

Draco frowned at the memory before replying. "No. No she got up after that, kind of. Theo took her place then whilst she tried to catch her breath. He copied Hermione and tried to shield our spells only they all backfired on him at once and the force threw him back into the wall faster than...fast. It was fast. He was knocked out but Potter wouldn't stop so I had to carry on dueling. I saw Hermione crawl over to him, saw her cry over him. He didn't move for a while and he looked...and I thought...and then he coughed. It was the most disgusting and yet amazing thing I had ever heard. I let my guard down a bit after that. I tried keeping up with him but my best friend and girlfriend were both hurt and I wanted to help them but he just wouldn't stop. Then I saw Hermione get this look in her eyes and I just knew nothing good could come from that look. She got up and ran towards me, stood in front of me and faced Potter as he sent a curse. He was aiming for me but got her and she fell back in my arms. I tried to shield her as soon as I knew what she was doing but it was too late, I was too late. I couldn't stop it." He answered as tears streaked down his face from the memory. Luna wrapped her arms around him tighter, letting him know in her own way that no words were needed, that he wasn't to blame but she wouldn't mention something so pointless until they knew Hermione was out of the woods. That he wasn't alone.

Neither of the two students noticed much of what went on around them after that, Draco's eyes firmly fixed on the small brunette lay in front of them, her hair, her unruly wild mane of hair that he had teased her mercilessly over for years was matted with blood and all he could think was how much he wished he was lay next to her in bed, their bed, in their room and choking on a mouthful of what she called curls and he had said resembled a bush. Draco took several more deep breaths, eager to control what he could of his emotions and relaying the whole incident back in his mind trying to see if he could have done anything differently. He couldn't control the shaking though and the more his body involuntarily shook the more nauseas he felt, had it not been for Luna grasping at his hands he was sure he wouldn't have been able to hold the bile down for much longer.

He wasn't sure who needed the support more in that moment, Luna had barely taken her eyes off of the big wooden double doors since the second he had entered, he knew what she was thinking, what she was worried about - because he felt it too. Theo was his best friend after all and they had grown up together since they were babies, they did everything together. Of course this shouldn't have been any different. As if it wasn't enough for his girlfriend to be cursed with an unknown spell his best friend had to get knocked out so viciously he lost all feeling in his leg and coughed up blood. No, they didn't do things by half measures at all.

Draco and Luna barely noticed when the unmistakable silvery white form of a Labrador shot from Madam Pomfrey's wand and darted out of the door, nor when, barely thirty seconds later, the figures of Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall appeared in the open doorway looking as windswept as one could imagine of two of the most well put together witches and wizards they knew.
The headmaster and Gryffindor head of house wasted no time in rushing to Hermione's aid much to the relief of Draco and Luna and finally, barely two minutes later Theo an Harry made their way through. Neither Draco or Luna thought twice about getting up to help their friend and boyfriend, they were at his side in less than a second and guided him towards the bed closest to Hermione's as they took care not to knock his leg too much.

Luna's heart sank the moment she saw Theo in the doorway, not quite standing and yet not quite leaning either. He had blood all around his mouth and his hands were completely covered in red where he had tried to use a handkerchief to catch it with, obviously that hadn't worked so well. His skin was snow white, a staggering contrast to his usual olive tones, his eyes were bloodshot and his hair was pointing in every which way it could possibly go except down. But he was still trying to be the same cunning little snake he always was. "Oh Potter, I think we're late to the party. I hope the princess has saved me dance" he managed to choke out through his coughing fit that seemed to sound more alarming now as it reverberated against the walls than it had in the out of use bathroom minutes earlier.

"There's always a dance for you, Prince Charming. Come on let's get you on the bed" Luna replied as she took hold of his hand in hers where she felt just how cold he was before squeezing as hard as she dared.

"See, I can't even stand and she still wants me. Luna love, I'm not sure now is a good time" he winced as he sat on the bed with their help.

"With an attitude like that you had better hope that's just the pain talking, Mr Nott." Professor McGonagall said as she moved over to his bed ready to work on his injuries.

"I feel a pain potion may help my verbal diarrhea, Professor. But then, it might just make me worse. Who really knows." Theo managed to reply as he breathed in deeply before each word.
It didn't take the deputy headmistress long to summon an extra strength pain potion for the Slytherin boy and cast a diagnostic charm on his body as he drank the clear blue liquid.

"Just as I thought, there's some cracked ribs" she commented as she rummaged through a cabinet looking for skele-gro "but the rest is much more serious, I fear your leg is broken in five places which wouldn't be an issue if it wasn't for the blood clot on your brain and the internal bleeding stopping proper circulation. Here drink these please." She said as she handed him what looked to be three different potions, skele-gro, blood thinner and a blood replenisher before moving onto another cabinet.

Theo brought the first to his lips warily, it looked awful, the colour of coal with lumps in. He'd taken it before in the past, a hazard of being on the house Quidditch team was that skele-gro became almost a staple to the diet. "Internal bleeding" he said as he repeated the professors words "you say that like its a bad thing, that's where the blood is supposed to be" he tried to laugh but instead ended up spluttering more blood out before tipping his head back and swallowing the nasty liquid that tasted worse than it looked. The next two potions went down pretty easily, both having a similar taste and look to actual blood that he barely noticed the difference from all his own blood he had swallowed. Lastly he was handed a sleeping draught that should see him through until the next day and mean he wouldn't have to live through the more painful hours of bones being forced to grow back together.
Professor McGonagall excused herself back to Hermione's bedside where Draco and Harry had already gone, not that Theo was bothered of course, he would have done the same if he could bare any weight to his leg but he couldn't so he was stuck in the bed.
He looked at Luna for a full minute, the effects of the pain potion working their way into his system, before opening his mouth, wanting not to embarrass himself but knowing that he never seemed to do anything else around her and when you add in a pain potion, well, that was just a recipe for disaster. He figured if he remembered any of this later he would just blame the pain or the potions. Or both.

"You're here" he finally commented, not taking his green eyes off her blue ones.

She stared back, not breaking eye contact for a second "You expected me to be somewhere else?" She asked surprised.

"I...I don't...it's lunch time. You should be eating. Why are you here? How did you know?" Though Theo's voice was more even and steady than it had previously been it was still cracked and dry which only made his question sound more desperate than he had perhaps intended.

"I saw the nargles on my way to lunch. They mentioned a cub was attacking a rattlesnake and warned it wouldn't end well with the intervention sure to come their way. They said one of each side would be hurt. So naturally, I came here and waited for you. For once I wish the nargles weren't always right." Luna sighed as she sat on the bed next to him and explained why she had been in the hospital wing so early.

Theo looked down at the glass vial in his hands before uncorking it and swallowing the contents in one go and turning to his incredibly perceptive girlfriend.

"I'd like to meet these nargle friends of yours some day" he said sincerely as he lay on the bed and pulled her across with him. "Stay with me?"

Luna smiled brightly at him before saying "They would like that too, they like you" and kicking her shoes off to lie next to him, her hand still tightly holding onto his as they always did.

"I'm sure I'll like them too. Just like the dimple-bottomed-forget-me-not's that are always swarming around you. Don't get me wrong love, your legs are fucking beautiful, they're heaven and your eyes...merlin your eyes. But it was the dimple-bottomed-forget-me-not's that I first noticed about you. They're everywhere. So many that I barely got a good look at you at first. And when I did...that was it. I was done for." Theo murmured sleepily as the potion began to take its toll. He managed to give her a soft sweet kiss on the cheek just as sleep finally claimed him as its latest victim.

Chapter Text

When pain forced Theodore to wake up later on that night, the potions having momentarily let him forget what had happened earlier that day, he was confused at his surroundings for a few precious seconds before the day's events came rushing back to him.

"Shit" he murmured into the darkness as he tried to adjust his sleeping position to something more comfortable before finding that his apparently useless leg was now strapped up. "Fuck" he hissed as he brought his hand to his now throbbing head.

"Would you like another pain potion?" He heard a sleepy but distinct voice ask him. Luna didn't move from her position, curled into a ball at his side and lay on his arm as if it were a pillow, instead she snuggled her head in closer to him before breathing what seemed to be a heavy sigh of relief.

"What?! Fuck! Luna baby what are you doing here?" Theo asked as he brought his free hand to tuck a few stray hairs behind her ear and out of her eyes whilst simultaneously trying not to freak out that she was in his bed. In his bed in the hospital wing.

"You asked me to stay" she answered matter of factly without moving.

"That's not...what about Pomfrey? If she finds out..."

"She already knows. It was her idea. In the end of course." Luna answered before lifting herself up to get the aforementioned pain potion that had been left on the bedside table earlier that night.

"What? I'm sorry you're going to have to explain how Madam Pomfrey, strictest witch alive except maybe McGonagall, changed her very strict rules and let your curl up in bed with me all night. Somehow I just can't see it. Not that I'm complaining or anything." he added with a small smile.

"You...you reacted badly when I went to leave. It was curfew and I was told to go to bed. I gave Hermione a kiss goodnight but as soon as I left you you started to convulse. It was really scary. Obviously I came right back over and the second I held your hand you instantly calmed down. Madam Pomfrey ran as many tests as she could think of on you but couldn't find anything wrong and she couldn't make me go because she was scared you might take a bad turn again. You were dying, I don't know why or what happened but you were dying so they told me to stay. Here, drink this it will help with your headache" she said as she passed him the small vial.

Theo didn't hesitate in swallowing down the potion before handing back the vial and contemplating her words more thoroughly. "So you get to stay?" He eventually asked as his usual grin appeared back on his ridiculously handsome face.

"Only if you're dying but it seems to me like you're recovered enough for me to head back up to the tower now" Luna teased sleepily.

"Yeah, like I'm going to let you walk around the castle at this time of night on your own, besides do you really want to risk leaving me? I might start dying all over again." He said with a pout and a flutter of his eyelashes at her.

"I walk around the castle on my own most of the time, even late into the night. Usually I'm looking for my shoes but I've always been fine. It wouldn't be the first time or the last I imagine. Besides, you're hardly in any state to stop me either. This leg" she started as she tapped it lightly to gather how much he could actually feel - the answer was nothing - "is not getting you anywhere soon"

Theo decided to ignore his feelings on his girlfriend walking around the castle alone at three in the morning or why she would be looking for her shoes and saved the information for another time, something told him he should find out what that was all about but tonight was not the night. "You think I need my leg to stop you? I could stop you from right here in this bed" he teased back.

"Wandless?" She asked, the picture of innocence.

"Wandless? Why would I be wandless?"

Luna took Theo's wand out of her hair and twirled in around her fingers teasingly "Because you already are" she answered without taking her eyes off his.

"Fine" Theo ground out in mock surrender "Wandless. I'll stop you even without a wand and stuck to this bed."

"How?" She asked curiously.

"Let's just say I'm cunning and ambitious and leave it that eh?"

"And kind of cute" Luna added as she noted in her mind that she had won, he clearly had no idea how to stop her without a wand, or two working legs for that matter. Not that she actually wanted him to of course.

"That too" Theo agreed as he pulled her back to lay next to him.

It was a while before either of them spoke, Theo revelling in the relief of pain he felt and Luna enjoying the blissful relief she felt purely because he had woken up and apparently stopped dying. "How is she?" Theo finally asked a full twenty minutes later.

Luna sighed heavily and brought her hand to her hair to twirl the strands around her fingers, apparently a nervous habit she had pick up from Hermione. "There's no change. She's still not woken up." She said rather reluctantly. It was obvious her friends situation was causing her a great deal of stress.

"And Draco?"

"Worse than he was. Won't move from her bed. Just sat there staring at her." She said with a sad smile.

"Sounds about right. She...she will wake up though, won't she?" He asked hopefully.

"I really hope so. She doesn't even have any family left either to come and sit with her." Luna mused quietly.

"Hey come on now, you're supposed to be the bright spark in this relationship not me. She has us, right? And Draco and Red and even Weasley. And I'm sure she'll forgive Potter soon enough too. What happened to him?" He asked curiously.

"Detention every weekend until the end of the year and a Quidditch ban alongside it. But you're right, we should be thanking Morgana she's still fighting and we're still here for her."

"That's all he got? After what happened? If that was me I'd have already been in front of the ministry by now"

"Yes, well, we can't win a war and kill Voldemort if the Chosen One is in Azkaban now can we?" Luna asked, for once sounding not at all like her usual dreamy self and much more like Hermione.

"Fucking Voldemort. Fucking death eaters" Theo seethed before they both lapsed into an echoing silence, holding on to one another tightly.

oOoOoOo

Luna wasn't sure how much time had passed since Theo's outburst, she had spent much of the time reflecting over her own experiences with said death eaters, notably her latest visit with them at the ministry. She would be lying if she said it didn't still affect her, she still had nightmares of course. Nightmares of men dressed in black cloaks with masks on as they cornered her and her friends from every possible angle. Nightmares of being under the cruciatus curse and feeling like she was being torn limb from limb whilst a blazing fire ran through her veins. Her friends knew of course, they were there when it happened, they suffered too. They had watched each other be 'played with' in some shape of form at the end of a death eaters wand. But Theo didn't know and she had no intention of telling him soon just in case, by chance, the death eater that had played with her happened to be his father. He didn't need to have thoughts like that swirling around his head, he already knew his father was a lost cause and she had no intentions of adding fuel to the already roaring fire that was their relationship. Of course she would probably have to tell him one day, her torso was covered in small scars from that night and if their relationship progressed as much as she thought it would then she would have no choice but to tell him. For now though, ignorance was bliss.

"Just remember, our parents' choices don't define us" she said as she squeezed his hand in hers.

"I know they don't and I have no intention of ever being like my father but they'll force me to get marked if they really want to. They did to Draco, he didn't have a choice, they used his mother as a bargaining tool to threaten him and now he's one of them."

"He wears the mark he was forcefully given but that doesn't make him one of them. And it certainly wouldn't make you one either. If I put on yellow and black robes instead of blue and bronze would that make me a Hufflepuff?"

"They'll force me. They'll make me do things. Bad things. Things I don't want to do. I know I can't last the summer without it happening. He's been writing to me, he never writes to me. He's already planning it I can't feel it. It's going to happen."

"When sorrows come, they come not single spies, But in battalions. You'll have Draco there at least."

Theo sighed, she was right, of course she was, Luna was always right and saw things others couldn't but even still he wasn't sure how much longer he could take all the shit being thrown their way. "And what about you? Where will you be?"

"I'll be here, waiting."

"You wouldn't leave?" He asked as hope laced his voice.

"For this? No. It's not your fault Theo."

"It feels like it" he said as he wrapped his arms around her.

Luna leaned in to kiss Theo on the cheek before going turning back to go back to sleep.

"Luna love, you've got something on your cheek" Theo said as he ran his fingers over the dried bloody mark he had left behind hours earlier.

"Oh?" She asked as she brought her hand to it and rubbed gently. "Has it gone now?"

"No...Why do you have blood on your face?" He asked curiously.

"It's yours. You kissed me."

"And you let me? I was coughing up blood and you let me kiss you?!" He asked incredulously.

Luna pulled a face of utter confusion before saying "Of course I did. Why wouldn't I?"

"Blood. That's why."

"Exactly. It's just blood. Nothing to worry about. I don't mind. Actually it's supposed to be rather healing you know." She answered matter of factly.

"Well I do, worry that is. It's...I don't like seeing you with blood on you okay? I just...don't let me do that again because it's bad enough looking at it and knowing that it's mine."

"Theo, we're in the middle of a war, I've already been covered in blood before now and chances are it will happen again. I'm okay, it's not even my blood. And if you want to talk about how we feel about blood and being hurt then need I remind you that you're the one lay in bed with a strapped up leg leg, you're the one with internal bleeding and a blood clot. Not me."

"Alright fine, you win. Just no more blood for at least a few months okay? I think I've seen enough to last me a lifetime."

"I make no promises" Luna said as she settled back in her previous position to sleep. "Goodnight" she yawned.

"Goodnight love" Theo replied as he too decided to go back to sleep.

oOoOoOo

Draco didn't move from the seat Luna had sat him in, he didn't go for a bathroom break or want to eat and he certainly wouldn't entertain the idea of letting somebody look over him for wounds or, merlin forbid, clean Hermione's blood off of him. Instead he sat next to his girlfriends bed and watched. He watched as his godfather took over the task of healing her, watched as he ordered Madam Pomfrey to get a whole list of potions and salves, watched as the pair of them plus professor McGonagall worked whatever magic they could think of on his girlfriend. Later he would wonder why the potions master seemed to know so much about Hermione's condition or why he had taken over without a second thought to what others may think, notably the Mediwitch herself, but in that moment all he could do was watch as the girl he loved lay unconscious, unmoving and basically un-everything as he sat quietly, watching closely to what was being done to her, watching her body for any signs of improvement and making sure Harry fucking Potter didn't get anywhere near her. He didn't care that their relationship was supposed to be a secret, the hospital wing had been closed to any and all visitors so the likelihood of a student turning up was slim unless they forgot to miss the vanishing steps or Peeves managed to corner them somehow but the professors in the room could certainly tell that something was definitely going on between the two of them. If a bare chested Draco Malfoy carrying Hermione Granger's limp, unconscious, bloodied body covered in his shirt, in his arms, to the hospital wing wasn't enough evidence for them then his absolute muteness and silent refusals to do anything but watch her was definitely all they needed to know on the matter. Not that they mentioned as much of course. In fact nobody said much of anything to him after Luna left him alone and Madam Pomfrey tried to get him cleaned up, checked over and fed. It was professor Snape who intervened in the end, giving his express permission as his head of house and also godfather to let him stay the night which would, undoubtedly, lead to the whole weekend since it was now Friday night.

oOoOoOo

As expected Draco didn't leave the hospital wing that weekend, instead he pulled his chair right up to Hermione's bed and held her hand. He slept in the chair only when his body was too exhausted and gave in, his head dropping to the side of the bed next to her hands. The only improvement at all so far was that the blood had been cleaned up giving a better view of the actual cuts and that the cuts themselves had had proper healing magic used on them rather than the quick sewing charm Draco had been forced to use.

Professor SNape had asked who had tried to heal her of course and when he nodded once in reply to acknowledge that it was in fact him he went on to say that he had likely saved her life as she would have bled out and her magical core depleted long before he got her to the hospital wing without it. He didn't do anything with that information, he didn't feel like he had saved her. If anything, he felt like he had failed her, failed to protect her when she needed him most and part of him was thinking he should just walk away right now and forget all about her because he obviously couldn't even look after her but another part of him, a bigger part, couldn't move from her side for fear of what might happen. Couldn't comprehend losing this girl, his girl, his Hermione. The woman he loved. The woman who sat and studied with him all those months ago despite their rivalries and shared history, the woman who kissed him back that first time he kissed her even though he was terrified she would slap him for it. The woman who stayed by his side even when he was forced to take the dark mark and stayed again when she found out about his mission to kill their beloved headmaster. The woman who told him she loved him and gave him her grandfathers watch, the only thing she had left of the man, the woman who had agreed to pureblood tradition and accepted his necklace. The woman who was his intended.

He had never in his life been eager to marry, as a child he had always assumed he would have a traditional old family arranged marriage like the Malfoy's and Black's often did. When he developed feelings for Hermione he never imagined things would become serious but by the time he realised that it was it was already too late. He didn't care though, she was the only light he had in his life and he would have chosen to be with her even if she wasn't. When he gave her the necklace he never imagined they would actually get the chance to marry, though that's not to say he didn't want to. He was sure he would be dead long before the year was out. He knew deep down he had no hope of actually killing Dumbledore, he wasn't a murderer. He could act like a death eater for as long as he needed to to stay alive but he couldn't be a murderer, he couldn't stain his soul that way and if the price to pay for that was his own life then so be it. So he resigned himself to his fate, knowing his chances of not getting killed by Voldemort were slim and yet he still gave her the pearl necklace because even though the future looked bleak she always made him hope for more and for once he allowed himself a glimpse into what the future could be and all he saw was her. So he gave her the necklace and accepted the watch and he made her a promise, an unspoken promise that she would one day be his and watching her right then and there in that bed he wanted nothing more than to fulfil that promise. He wanted to make her his in every sense of the word, old family traditions be damned.

By Sunday evening people were starting to talk, Draco was still refusing to do anything but keep a bedside vigil for Hermione and it was clear it was taking its toll. He had worse bags under his eyes than he had had on Friday which was saying something since on Friday he had looked downright awful. Now though he looked ill and broken and if he didn't get himself sorted soon the likelihood was he would be in a bed having Madam Pomfrey tending to his every need too. The task of talking to him fell to Theo, naturally. Ginny had been the only person allowed to visit, she had told Draco to 'man up' and 'sort himself out'. Luna, who had also stayed the weekend since Madam Pomfrey feared Theo might just happen to take another bad turn, had tried on numerous occasions to get through to him and although not as blunt as Ginny was she kept trying in the hopes he would eventually listen. By Sunday afternoon it became obvious that he wasn't going to listen to her and so she delegated the task to her boyfriend instead in the hopes that maybe someone closer to him would be able to.

Theo wasn't happy that he had to have this conversation with Draco, he could fully understand his friends actions and though he didn't condone it he didn't condemn it either. He supposed he couldn't have much of an opinion since he wasn't in that situation himself even if he did harbour his own feelings towards Hermione and the friendship they had built. But the fact was he was also a patient and he could keep an eye on her from his bed. He had a useless, non-moving leg and wasn't going anywhere any time soon and his friend should be taking full advantage of that yet he clearly couldn't see past the end of his nose when it came to Hermione.

"Draco" he finally called out that night. He wasn't expecting an answer which is just as well since he never got one. Not even a head darted in his direction or a flicker of recognition in his eyes as his best friend finally gave in and tried to talk to him for the first time in two and a half days.

"Draco, oh so help me you better listen to me because I swear to the old gods and new, once I can walk again you had better watch your back." There was still no answer. Theo quickly averted his eyes from the bed beside him where his best friend was sat and instead looked for something he could throw at him to grab his attention. Finally settling on some parchment that was in reach he picked it up before scrunching it into a ball and with a well aimed shot, threw it at Draco's head.

That got his attention, finally.

"The fuck you playing at Theo?" Draco tried to shout, had his voice been used at all in the past two and a half days it might have even sounded like a shout but as it was it was all scratchy and hoarse. He sounded as bad as he looked.

"Trying to get your attention. The fuck you playing at?" Theo demanded angrily.

"I think that's pretty obvious."

"If, by that, you mean waste away into nothing whilst your girlfriend is in a coma then yeah, it's obvious." He hissed.

"I'm not. I'm just...I can't leave her. I can't, okay." Draco replied with a worried sigh.

"If she wakes up now and sees you looking like this you're going to wish you were fucking dead. Do you think she will be happy that you sat there moping for days, not eating, not drinking, not even having a wash? Do you? Because the Hermione Granger I know would lose her shit of she even thought you did that. Sort yourself out Draco before she wakes, for your own sake."

"How do you know? She might just-"

"Have you never fucking met the girl? Who were you dating these last few months?! She's got bigger balls than you mate, get over it. You're dating a Gryffindor you should expect this but Granger, Hermione, she's, she's a whole new kind of fiery that surpasses even Gryffindor's and she's going to be pissed when she hears about this, don't make it worse by letting her see it with her own eyes. We both know she'll forgive Potter, probably did before she even lost consciousness but you she will stay mad at for a while. I'm not sure why, I think it's just your face. You have one of those faces that makes people mad, you know?"

"Theodore you're supposed to be helping." Luna interrupted as she shook her head at his words. "Your face doesn't make me mad Draco, take no notice of him" she added thoughtfully.

Draco looked between his best friend and the blonde girl sat in his bed who he had somehow managed to completely blank out in this whole exchange. "I can't just leave her here" he said helplessly "what if Potter tries to come in and see her?"

"He's in detention and the whole hospital wing is closed from having any student visitors other than you, Luna and Red. Plus, I'm here so she won't be alone. I promise I'll watch her. Not like I can do anything else is it?"

"You...you would do that? For me?"

"No. She's my friend too. I'm not doing it for you I'm doing it for myself and for her. Am I that much of an arse you would think I wouldn't?" Theo asked taken aback, clearly the question had hit a nerve.

"No. Of course not, I didn't mean it like tha-"

Theo sighed and decided now wasn't the time to be getting offended by the words of a clearly exhausted man who's girlfriend was in such a state as Hermione was and instead focused on his task of getting his friend to go back to his dorm for a hot meal, a wash, change of clothes and a decent nights sleep. "I know you didn't. I know, I'm just...it's hard on me too you know? Watching her like that. But if she sees you like this you're in trouble mate."

"I failed her. I failed to protect her. If I can't protect her now, in school, against...against her own best friend then how can I protect her in this war? How can I protect her against him. I don't know how. If I even survive it that is" Draco trailed off solemnly.

"First of all, we both failed to protect her. Not just you, both of us. We were both there and we both failed okay? Second of all you're doing the best you can, you're learning to shield your minds and I've even started it myself. Thirdly, don't talk about not surviving because if she can hear you, and I'd bet all the galleons in Gringotts on it that she can, then you're in for it when she does wake up."

"You're learning Occlumency? Since when?" Draco asked curiously.

"Since Christmas, figured if you're marked then my days were numbered and I really don't want to be mind fucked by a fucking madman plus with you two being together it was risky not doing it. If anyone saw" he shuddered visibly at just the thought "if they saw what I've seen then we'd all be dead before I even got to pretend how happy it makes me that I got selected to wear a fucking mask and cape and pretend to be all perfect prejudiced pureblood prince."

"You're not getting fucking marked Theo" Draco burst out angrily, the first time in days a true emotion could be seen on his face before casting a quick look around to make sure nobody was in earshot.

"Yeah? You think so? You think I'll get to even a week in the summer without it? My fathers been writing to me mate, writing. The prick never writes to me. Even when my grandmother Greengrass died he didn't fucking write to me. I had to find out from Daphne! The date's already set. There's nothing you or I can do about it. He keeps gloating how he's going to be the 'perfect death eater' because his only son and heir of his house is going to join the family business. Like he's not actually serving me up as a fucking sacrifice to his master. Like I have a fucking choice. Like you had a choice." He said in a strangely calm voice, he'd already accepted the idea back at Christmas, after Draco had been forced it was really only a matter of time until it was his turn.

"I had a choice" Draco replied sarcastically "and what about you? After everything you just heard? Going to go and tell your little Order on us? Go straight to Dumbledore himself?" Draco asked bitterly as he turned to face Luna.

"Haven't heard anything I didn't already know and since I haven't told anyone before now I doubt I'm about to start now. Plus, it wouldn't be beneficial and Professor Snape already knows of course, Dumbledore too." She replied as she easily met his heated stare.

"You told her?!" Draco snapped at Theo.

"She already knew about you, I told her about me. Of course I did she's my girlfriend you fucking idiot. Besides you just discussed the whole thing before you even realised she was still sat here so what difference does it really make?" Theo countered back as he wrapped his arm around Luna's waist and leaned his head into her shoulder.

"None I guess" he sighed "I just wish-"

"We all do" Luna finished for him "now come on I need someone to walk me back to the tower because apparently I can't walk the halls alone at night" she said as she rolled her eyes playful in Theo's direction.

"I don't know..." Draco started as he looked back at Hermione and tucked some stray hair behind her ears.

"Just go Draco, I'll look after her I promise. And here, take this" he said as he tossed a small glass vial towards his friend.

With the reflexes of a seeker Draco caught the vial before he even realised what his hands were doing and looking down at the small bottle in his hand he furrowed his brow in confusion "what's this?"

"Dreamless sleep, Luna somehow managed to get it for you I'm not allowed to ask how. Just take it and do yourself a favour. Come back tomorrow looking clean and not so much like you should be a patient yourself and if she wakes up you can thank us by way of expensive chocolates and elf wine" Theo said as he stretched his arms and one good leg out. Being confined to a bed wasn't as easy as it sounded he thought.

"I don't need-" Draco began.

"Yeah, you really do. Just stop arguing with me and say your goodbyes and get out. I've got stuff to do." He said as he pulled his homework out of his bag, if he was going to watch Hermione he might as well be productive in doing so.

"You sure?"

"As sure as I am about you being far too pale to not be a ghost so, yeah, pretty sure." Theo answered as put his books aside to say goodbye to Luna.

Draco finally gave up with the excuses and second guessing and reluctantly followed his friends advice, he gave Hermione a kiss and whispered words of love and goodbye before exchanging a much less emotional goodbye with Theo while Luna said her goodbyes to Hermione and Madam Pomfrey before she dragged him out the doors and towards the Ravenclaw tower.

"Finally" Theo muttered as he turned to Hermione "I thought he'd never go. You're just stuck with me now. It'd be great if you could wake up since this Runes homework is supposed to be a team effort but I doubt you will so I'll just have to have a go at it by myself. No doubt you will still double check it all when you get the chance though" he laughed lightly as he pulled the books closer and settled himself down for a long night of studying.

Chapter Text

Draco and Luna had barely managed to step over the threshold of the hospital wing before they both tumbled into a tall, pale, red haired and rather nervous looking Ronald Weasley.

"Ow!" Ron muttered as he stumbled back into the opposite wall cradling his head in his hands.

"What the fuck? Who stands that close to a door without going through it?" Draco snapped as the hospital wing doors closed shut behind them.

"Well I would have gone in if I could. The doors are warded." Ron retorted.

"Are you okay Ronald?" Luna asked as she helped him straighten himself up again.

"M'fine just a bit dizzy. Nothing to worry about." He answered as he tried to wave her off. Whilst he would and did, call Luna a friend, a close friend at that, he still had trouble connecting to the girl. She was entirely too quirky and ethereal for him to take seriously and despite Harry often saying you don't have to see something to believe it was real he could no longer believe that Luna's little pet nargles were an actual real life species than he could believe the latest rumours that Professors Snape and McGonagall were an item. That was just...no.

"That'll be the Wrackspurts. They do that." She answered as she pulled her wand from her hair and, without a moments hesitation whispered a spell that neither boy could hear nor understand. "Better?" She asked him brightly.

Ron was momentarily stumped, he had heard Luna, he'd understood her question but he couldn't for the life of him explain what had just happened. The truth was he was better, in fact his mind felt sharper than it had been in days, maybe even weeks he thought as he stood there with an odd sense of clarity as he eyed the two blondes more closely. "Er, yeah I am actually. Thanks" he said before turning his gaze to Draco "how come you're allowed in there if it's warded?" He asked suspiciously.

Draco sighed. The last thing he needed right now was an altercation with Ronald fucking Weasley. He hadn't eaten, drank, slept or, well, done anything in nearly three days and this was something he hadn't even bothered to think could happen. Because he was an idiot obviously.

"I'm covered in blood Weasley. Take a guess." He said with an impatient roll of his eyes as he tried to keep up the 'pureblood prick' façade. It wasn't as hard as it should have been, he was simply too exhausted to give a toss right now and his mouth apparently had no filter. He didn't even think of the implications of such, further evidence he was obviously in a much worse shape that he would have believed.

Ron looked at him through narrowed eyes, he hadn't missed the blood. Of course he hadn't, how could he? The man had no shirt on and his skin, normally paler than most, was now an eerie ghost like transparency that probably would have scared him even without the blood that was smeared all over his body. "It's not yours" he said in reply. It wasn't a question, it was an observation. Anyone could see that Draco Malfoy looked like death warmed up but there wasn't a single cut, scratch, bruise or mark at all on the parts of his body that were visible and those that weren't, well, he didn't seem seem to be holding them in such a way as to suggest anything was amiss.

Draco couldn't help the flicker of sadness that passed across his face and eyes, forgetting all about keeping his jaw set in just the right position and his usual eyebrow quirked up. He stiffened a little at the unwanted and totally unnecessary reminder of who's blood it actually was, not that he'd forgotten of course, he couldn't forget that. Doubted he would for as long as he lived, it was easily the worst night of his entire life so far. And he'd taken the mark. "It's not" he agreed quietly.

Ron's ear tips started to turn red and his nostrils flared visibly as Draco and Luna watched as his fingers curled automatically around his wand. "Who's is it?" He hissed at Draco, not caring for a moment what this scene would like to anyone that happened upon them.

"You mean your boyfriend hasn't even told you? To be honest, I can't say I'm surprised. Saint Potter's not so fucking great now is he?!"

"What are you talking about?" Ron demanded. "I haven't seen Harry since Friday. He's always busy with Quidditch and..and other stuff" Ron's eyes widened as the realisation hit him that he had almost blurted out about Harry and Dumbledore's private meetings involving the Horcruxes. Not that he would have mentioned horcruxes of course but to say a sixteen year old boy, the Chosen One, was having private meetings with the headmaster, to the son of a death eater, was risky enough.

"Ronald please put your wand away, you're scaring the nargles off" Luna said as she stared down the corridor wistfully, presumably watching her nargle friends move on somewhere else.

"Quidditch? Is that what he's telling you? That's almost laughable" Draco said dryly.

"You know, now that I think about it I've not seen you around the castle since Friday morning. Not at mealtimes, not on the grounds and I know you didn't show up for the Slytherin game yesterday. They had to use a reserve seeker." Ron said speculatively as he eyed his enemy up.

"Praise Merlin, Weasley's finally noticed something of his own accord. Ten points to the Gryffindorks for sheer astuteness" Draco said sarcastically as his mimicked their professors.

Ron ignored him and instead concentrated on getting answers "Where were you?" he asked calmly as he realised that Luna's spell was clearly having a much deeper effect on him that he had initially thought. Whatever it was, he appreciated it right now.

When Draco either didn't answer or just didn't answer quick enough Ron asked again "Where. Were. You." He repeated slightly louder as he enunciated each word in a tone that could only be described as dangerous.

Draco met Ron's fiery gaze with his own. "Here" he answered simply. There was no point lying about it. He'd been caught leaving the room by the man himself and he would find out sooner or later anyway.

"Here?" Ron asked "all weekend?"

Draco didn't answer with words but his body language was enough of a giveaway for even a man like Ronald Weasley to be able to read. "You were there. You were there when she was hurt weren't you?" His voice was now back to that dangerous tone it had taken only moments before, making the tension between the three even thicker.

Luna placed a calming hand on Draco's arm to help reign him in though she hadn't needed to, he simply didn't have it in him to fight right now even if he wanted to.

Draco's throat was suddenly dry and rough, he tried to say "yes" but ended up coughing as he choked on his own words. Instead he opted to nod solemnly at his long time nemesis before he carried on coughing and finally managed to clear his throat enough to speak.

"You did this to her?!" Ron shouted loudly as he brought his wand to Draco's throat. His gaze and hand steadier than he had ever been able to hold them.

Draco thought back to Friday, back to their potions class when Hermione had last touched him. When she had placed a gentle hand on his thigh in class to help calm him despite that they could have been caught. He thought back to how he broke into a sprint through the door before the lesson was officially even over and headed right for the nearest, most likely unoccupied place he could think of. Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. He wished he could have been a bit less on the edge of a panic attack and managed the rest of the way to the room of requirement, Harry wouldn't have been able to follow him in there and neither would Theo or Hermione. Or maybe Hermione would? She normally could. But she wouldn't have been hurt like this, lay in a coma because she had taken a curse meant for him.
Part of him felt like the curse was going to come either way. Be it in Myrtle's bathroom or the room of requirement. Either way he still managed to fail her. Still managed to fail to protect her when she needed it the most. "I did" He answered resignedly, because he really, truly believed that he did.

Ron didn't hesitate to push Draco further back into the wall, his wand now poking at the blonde's throat so hard it would surely leave a mark. Not that he cared. All he cared about was revenge. It had been Friday night when Harry had told him that Hermione was in the hospital wing. He had been about as useful as a chocolate cauldron with his sparse information. All Ron knew was that it was bad and no visitors were allowed. That made him worry more. That and the fact Harry's face had been twisted into something he couldn't even begin to describe when he had told him and that he had not seen him since.

Visitors were usually allowed during set times so he knew instantly it must have been beyond bad. He had tried to visit but been sent away with the words "maybe tomorrow, Weasley" though when Ginny had tried and been admitted instantly he was furious. With nothing better to do and no answers on why his best friend was even in the hospital wing he started to pace outside the doors hoping one of the professors would take pity and at least tell him something. That's when Draco and Luna had come barrelling into him.

"You evil fucking ferret what did she ever do to you?!" He yelled.

Draco closed his eyes, mentally preparing himself to gather his wits about him, it wouldn't do to let something slip so easily and with the state he was in it was highly likely. "Well she did punch me back in third year. Still got the scar" he said as he brought a hand to his nose in an effort to make the fact that a thirteen year old Hermione Granger had wounded his pride. He hoped his façade was working. He was trying to keep his voice as cool and icy as he could but it was harder than it sounded when you were physically exhausted.

"So you curse her, three years later?" Ron was utterly bewildered at the ridiculous excuse he was hearing. Draco Malfoy had cursed Hermione Granger because he held a three year long grudge over a scar so small and faint it wasn't even noticeable until he pointed it out.

"Revenge. Best served cold and all that. Planned this one for three long long years." Draco answered as he plastered on a fake smirk that barely even resembled his natural one. "Going to hex me now Weasel? Get revenge for the stupid little know-it-all?" He spat.

"Damn right I am you twisted son of hag!" Ron shouted as pulled his wand back slightly in an effort to cast a spell.

Luna had been caught up in watching the nargles leave and just as the last one rounded the corner and out of her sight she turned around to see Draco pressed flush against a wall with a wand aimed at his chest. The conversation she had only been partially paying attention to came flooding back to her just in time for her to stop Ron in whatever he was about to do. "Stop. Stop it. Ronald you put that wand down right now" she said as she moved to stand ever so slightly in front of Draco and taking his hand in hers in an effort to calm him. His palms were really clammy with cold sweat but she didn't mind. "Draco didn't hurt Hermione, Ronald" she said as she looked at the wand now in her face.

"He just said-"

"I know what he said but he didn't do it. Harry did." Luna sighed sadly "Harry cursed Hermione" she repeated.

Ron faltered for just a moment but it was enough to put doubt in his mind. He knew Luna, loved her in a way you could only love a friend and as much as he thought she was bonkers when it came to her invisible pets he knew she would not lie. Not unless she thought it would be healing or beneficial in some way. This was neither, this wasn't a lie. He could see from the pained look on her face.

"Harry?" He asked "No. No, Harry wouldn't do this" he said as his voice began to crack.

"Not to Hermione, no" Luna agreed.

Ron looked at Luna and frowned, sometimes he wished she would just come out and say what she meant instead of taking the scenic route. He didn't have the patience right now for her scenery. "Then what are you saying?"

"Don't you get it, Weasley? The curse wasn't meant for Granger. It was meant for me" Draco drawled. Or at least, he attempted to. Unfortunately he really didn't have it in him to keep the act up much longer.

"He was hexing you?" Ron asked as the words rang in his ears.

"Cursing. Cursing me. And yes he was. Until fucking goody goody Granger stepped in and got hit instead." He said bitterly. That was one part he didn't have to act on. He really was annoyed at his witch for that and planned to let her know as much the second she woke up. Or maybe the second second since he imagined he would kiss her first, the 'don't save my life ever again' lecture could wait a couple of minutes.

"She...she took a curse for you...she took a curse, for you?"

"Hardly" Draco scoffed "she was trying to stop Potter from getting expelled."

"Draco-" Luna started as she attempted to ease his grief in some way.

"Don't. There's nothing you can do." He said as he cut her off.

Ron watched the exchange between the two blondes curiously as he remembered Draco's bitter tone just moments before when speaking of Hermione taking his curse and he just couldn't understand it. Why would Draco Malfoy be pissed off that the muggle born he hated most in the world had taken a curse for him? "So you say she took your curse, why aren't you happier about it then?" He challenged.

Caught off guard Draco didn't have time to think about his answer at all and just said the first thing that came to his head "because owing a life debt to a fucking...a Gryffindor-" he had tried to say mudblood he really did but his tongue refused to comply and his mouth was clamped firmly shut, something that was going to be a much bigger issue in the summer when he was back to being a full time death eater he was sure. "-was pretty much at the top of a list I have named 'things I never ever want to happen in my life' fan-fucking-tastic" he drawled.

"Wait, you owe her a life debt?" Ron asked in shock.

"Yes"

"No"

Both boys turned to face Luna who's face was as serious as it ever got, which is to say not at all. She stood there with a small smile spread across her face for a reason that neither of them could fathom.

"What?" They asked in unison as their eyebrows furrowed and mouths twisted in shared confusion.

"You don't owe Hermione a life debt Draco." She answered simply.

"She saved my life. Pretty sure that amounts to a life debt."

"She did and it did"

"What? I don't understa....oh" He said quietly as he remembered professor Snape's words on Friday. She would have died if he hadn't have tried to heal her and gotten her to the hospital wing so quickly. He had saved her. The debt had been repaid.

"Can someone explain it to me?" Ron asked impatiently.

"Draco saved Hermione. He healed her cuts and carried her to the hospital wing. She would have bled out and her magic depleted had he not."

"You saved her?" He said in an almost accusatory tone as he turned to Draco.

"Well I wasn't going to let her fucking die was I?. I know you think I'm evil Weasley but I'm not THAT evil. I wouldn't stand there and watch a woman bleed out whether she had taken the curse for me or not. Besides, who else was going to bloody do it? Theo couldn't even walk and Potter was the one who cursed her!"

"You saved her" Ron repeated though it was more to himself. "And Nott was there? Where was I?"

"It was lunch time" Luna answered in way of explanation. Ron's love of food was pretty well known knowledge to practically the entire wizarding world.

"Right" he said as he nodded in head agreement that he was at the great hall on Friday afternoon. "Is" he gulped before trying again "is she-"

"Alive? Just about" Draco answered sadly. "She's in a coma that's all I know."

"A coma? Bloody hell! Do they think she'll be okay?"

"They're doing the best they can" Luna answered.

"Why were you allowed in and I'm not?" He said as he looked at Luna and realised she had also come out of the hospital wing.

"I was there when Draco brought Hermione in. I never really left. Ginny brought me some clothes to change into. I think I've left my bag inside." She answered, though the last part was more to herself. "Should I go and get it? I don't want to disturb Theodore." She asked Draco.

"Yes because he wouldn't like that now would he?" Draco asked sarcastically.

Ron couldn't help the raise of his eyebrows at Luna's last statement "Theodore?" he asked as he repeated her.

"Nott" Draco clarified.

"Theo?"

"Bloody hell Weasley what did you think Theo was short for?"

"Can't say I've ever really thought about it to be honest. Why are you calling him Theodore, Luna?" He asked in genuine curiosity.

Draco laughed lightly "You mean you don't know?" He asked. "He's her boyfriend. Be glad you haven't had to be stuck in a room with them all weekend. They're almost as bad as you and that blonde who's always sucking your face. Almost." He said as he shuddered at the thought.

Whatever Ron was expecting it was definitely that "Your boyfriend?!" He asked in shock and either he didn't hear the remarks about himself and Lavender or just chosen to ignore them.

"Yes" she said as her smile grew.

"Oh. That's erm...that's nice. I guess." He mumbled.

Draco raised an eyebrow at the ginger man "What, not going to freak out that your friend is dating a Slytherin?" He asked suspiciously.

"Well it's not really my business, as I keep being told. Plus I don't really know Nott, he seems alright I suppose and Hermione likes him so he can't be that bad but then again she would like anyone who would sit and actually study with her" he muttered nervously.

"I study with her" Draco pointed out.

"Good point. She would like almost anyone who would study with her" He corrected.

"I'll be right back I'm just getting my bag" Luna said as she slipped back into the double doors.

"So why am I not allowed in? Ginny is." Ron asked though it was more to himself since he didn't expect Draco to answer.

"Her...Granger's cuts are not exactly in a decent place" Draco answered as his face flushed briefly.

Ron looked at the man with a mixture of confusion and annoyance "A decent place?"

"All across her chest" he clarified.

"Oh....oooooh" He answered as the realisation hit him.

Both boys stood in awkward silence waiting for Luna and wishing her to hurry, Ron looked up and down the empty corridor trying to find someone or something else to focus on other than Draco Malfoy but came up empty. "So it's her blood?" He finally asked as he noticed it once again.

"It is"

"It's red" Ron pointed out.

Draco felt his stomach twist, in all honesty he should have expected the conversation to head this way. The chances of him not mentioning it were probably slim to none. "I know what colour human blood is Weasley and since its been there for nearly three days I'd be blind if I couldn't tell that by now" he retorted as he wished he would just let the issue drop.

"Well it's not dirty is it?" He challenged.

"To be fair, it's been there a while, it's definitely dirty." He answered as he silently wished for Luna to hurry up.

"It's not dirty like say, the colour of mud though"

Draco stood for a moment as he thought about his reply, he really wanted to just shout 'I don't fucking think like that anymore' but he couldn't. "Mud is probably dirtier. Luna says it's healing to have another persons blood on you. Apparently it soaks through the skin and into your own blood stream and all the goodness of the persons blood it is will flow through your own veins. Or something like that. It's been a long weekend." He eventually said as he recalled overhearing a conversation between Theo and Luna, not that he realised he had even been paying attention at the time.

Ron looked on confused, though it was less about Draco's recital of Luna's words and more about the man's reluctance to admit Hermione's blood was dirty. This whole altercation had been the strangest thing ever.

"I see the Wrackspurts are back" Luna commented as she entered the corridor once more. "Don't worry it's only a small infestation. Ready to go Draco? Theo wasn't impressed that we're not already back in our dorms. You should be sleeping."

"Uh, yeah. Yeah I'm ready" Draco answered as he moved to take a step down the corridor.

"Malfoy wait" Ron called out.

Draco halted in his step, and despite the volume of the redheads voice he was still in reaching distance of the man.

"What?" He asked as he turned to face him again.

"I er, I just want to say, er, well thanks. You know, for what you did" he mumbled nervously.

"For saving Granger?" He asked, when Ron nodded his head once to say that yes, that was what he meant Draco carried on "No need to thank me. Anyone would have done the same. Like I said, I'm not that evil."

"But you did save her. So thanks" Ron said much more confidently.

Draco nodded his appreciation before he turned, he was half way down the corridor before he heard Ron again.

"And Malfoy, you really look like shit." Ron said before he left in the opposite direction.

It wasn't an insult and it wasn't taken as such it was a mere observation but apparently it didn't have an affect whatsoever on Draco, he was simply too exhausted to care so he carried on down the hall towards the Ravenclaw tower and started looking forward to actually getting into his own bed for the first time in months.

The pair walked in silence, Draco intent on not saying anything as he attempted to ignore the altercation he had just had and how the man had spoken to him in a civil manner, sure the had held him at wand point near the beginning but by the end he was actually thanking him. Ronald Weasley had thanked Draco Malfoy. Of course he had also said he looked like shit right afterwards so he guessed all was not lost and they could carry on being enemies whilst pretending nothing had ever happened in that corridor tonight.

They reached the Ravenclaw tower without any fuss, there were still students milling around the castle and many were saying their goodbyes to friends in different houses before curfew ended as Luna pulled Draco in for a quick hug "She will be fine, I promise" she whispered in his ear before kissing him on the cheek and ascending the stairs.

Of course people had been watching but he really didn't care, he waited until she was no longer in his sight and headed towards the dungeons, ready for a hot shower, change of clothes and eager to swallow the contents of the vial in his pocket.

Chapter Text

When Draco finally awoke from his potion induced sleep he was surprised to realise he was in his own bed for the first time in months, the sleepy haze providing a few seconds of blissful ignorance before the fog cleared and the events of the weekend caught up to him.

Myrtle's bathroom. Harry Potter. Duelling. Hermione and Theo trying to stop them. Theo getting hurt. A curse. Hermione. Hermione covered in blood. Carrying Hermione's body to the hospital wing. Hermione in a coma. Ron Weasley. Walking Luna back to her common room. A sleeping draught. "Fuck fuck fuck" he shouted as the scenes quickly flashed across his mind.

Draco jumped out of bed as fast as he could, casting a quick glance around the common room he noticed the other four beds were empty. Theo of course, was in the hospital wing but Blaise, Vincent and Greg were nowhere to be seen leading Draco to assume he had slept through at least breakfast. Not that he cared, food was the last thing on his mind and he had no intention of going to classes today. Moving to stand in front of the tall mirror he noticed he was still covered in blood, Hermione's blood, and since he couldn't well walk around the castle like that, four days after the fact, he decided a shower was in order.

Draco grabbed a clean set of clothes, an old Quidditch shirt and pair of pants before heading to the adjourning bathroom. Normally he would go to the prefects bathroom where there was less chance of being interrupted and much nicer facilities but the walk was too far considering his bloodied state and the likelihood of him being interrupted was pretty slim since he was sure classes had already started. Plus, he really didn't care about the facilities at the minute, he just wanted to be clean so he could go and see his girlfriend.

Draco had intended for his shower to be as quick as possible, wanting to scrub away the blood and wash his hair then get out and dressed. But the hot water beating down on his aching muscles provided too much relief to give up so soon and instead he ended up staying in there close to an hour, letting the water wash away his stress and relieve the tension built up in his shoulders. When he exited the bathroom, freshly washed and not a spot of blood in sight the last thing he expected to see was Blaise sat on his bed with a plate of sandwiches and fruit seemingly waiting for his friend.

"There you are I was starting to think I might have to come in there and check on you" Blaise said as he bit into an apple slice.

"What are you doing here?" Draco asked as he stared at his friend.

"Making sure you eat. It's lunchtime and I figured you wasn't going to come to the great hall for something so I got the elves to make you a plate." Blaise answered as he looked at the plate.

"It's lunchtime? Shit! Why didn't anyone wake me?" He asked as he dried his hair on the towel in his hands.

"We tried. Well, I tried. Greg and Vince were too scared they would get a wand in their faces and scurried on out faster than you could say expelliarmus. How's Theo?" He asked as he took an sandwich from the plate before pushing it closer to Draco.

Draco looked at his friend in mild shock "You heard?" He asked. He wasn't sure why it shocked him that people knew what had happened, Hermione Granger missing classes was enough of a giveaway for anyone to realise something was wrong.

"A little birdie told me." He answered, biting into his sandwich.

"You're still shagging Weasley's tramp? Have you no shame?" Draco asked shaking his head.

"She's fun" Blaise defended.

"She's easy" Draco corrected. "There's a difference. A big difference."

"Well anyway, it's a secret so, naturally, the whole school knows" Blaise said getting back on topic and inching the plate closer to Draco.

Draco gave in and finally took a sandwich "And what exactly does the whole school think they know?" He asked irritably.

"That you and Potter were duelling and Granger got caught in the middle" He replied mater of factly.

Draco rose an eyebrow at the other man "That's it? That's all they know? They're not accusing me of cursing her?"

"Well I never said that. People will think what they want."

"Fucking great! Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse!" Draco huffed as he sat on the bed.

"Want to tell me what really happened?"

"Won't you be late for class?"

"Probably" Blaise shrugged.

Draco sighed and took another sandwich before starting his story. It took nearly twenty minutes to explain in full what had happened on Friday afternoon and the events that followed as Draco included in as much detail as he could remember, including his run in with Ronald Weasley.

"So Granger's in a coma? And Potter cursed her? Fuck. Mate that's-"

"I know" Draco sighed finishing off the last sandwich and standing up. "Well I'm going to the hospital wing" he said as he headed to the door.

"I'll walk with you, might as well get back to class there's already too many people missing, I'm sure they'll notice I'm not there, three missinf Slytherin's is far too suspicious." Blaise said following his friend into the common room and out of the dungeons.

The walk through the castle was eerily quiet since classes were still commencing for which Draco was thankful as he would have stuck out like a sore thumb being the only student not in uniform. Blaise parted ways when they reached the main doors, mumbling about Care of Magical Creatures or, as he called it, Monsters, and made his way across the school grounds to Hagrid's hut while Draco carried on through the halls towards to Hospital Wing.

Arriving at the hospital wing Draco wasn't shocked to see Theo awake with his head in his school books he was shocked, however, to find Harry Potter sat next to his girlfriends bed and crying all over her. The sight angered Draco more than he liked but a decent nights sleep had forced rationality back into his head and he knew Hermione would want him there. He didn't have to like it though.

"Potter" he sneered as he walked to Hermione's bed and placed a kiss on her forehead. "No change I take it?" He asked Theo who was watching both men curiously from behind his book.

"Sorry mate" Theo answered sadly as he lowered the Ancient Runes tome "even tried to bore her awake with homework until I realised the last thing that would bore Hermione Granger was homework so I told her I was doing it all wrong on purpose and if she wanted me to pass she should wake up now and stop me. Either she really wants me to fail so she can be top of the class or she's just not ready to wake up yet."

"It's been four days. I thought there might be some improvement by now. The longer this goes on the more worried I am." Draco said before checking her cuts under the bandages. "Cuts seem to be healing a bit better though. They'll scar but it's all superficial."

"Superficial? Try telling that to your seventeen year old girlfriend, mate. Do you even know girls?"

"Intended. She's my intended not my girlfriend plus she already had a pretty nasty scar across her stomach, she was never bothered by it before and, honestly, there's only going to be me seeing it anyway."

"She's still going to hate it because it'll be a reminder of what happened." Theo said nodding towards Harry who had not moved or spoken a word since Draco entered. "Did she really have a scar before?" He asked.

"Yeah, from last summer in the Department of Mysteries. Dolohov got her with something, he must have used wandless magic because it should have killed her otherwise. He's not the best at wandless magic." He added with a shudder at the thought.

"Shit" Theo muttered.

"Yeah. Could have been worse though. She's a Gryffindor through and through. How's the leg?"

"I have no idea."

"Still can't feel it?"

"Not a thing."

"Least you're still alive though, wasn't sure if you would die without Lovegood here keeping your heart beating." Draco joked.

"You're not even funny" Theo said as he threw Bertie Bott's Beans at his friend.

"I'm a little funny. Have the school told your father?"

"I'd imagine so, I'm not of age until July so I guess they have to."

"He's not been to see you?" Draco asked though he already knew the answer, Nott Snr. was a lot of things but a caring father he was not.

"No and it's a bloody good job too because if he found out what actually happened and about her" he said pointing to Hermione "I'd be well a truly fucked."

"Good point."

Harry didn't stay long after that, once Madam Pomfrey announced it was time to check and redress Hermione's wounds he was out of there like a snitch, stopping only to say a quick goodbye before going back to class. Draco, much more awake and alert now, had no qualms about asking anything and everything to do with Hermione's care and condition.
He found out that Hermione had had a fever that even potions hadn't been able to stabilise, that the cuts across Hermione's torso had been the result in some greyish magic, not completely dark but not exactly sunshine and rainbows either. He found out that they would take a while to heal completely but with a well established routine of potions and salves they should heal and eventually fade over time. He learnt that there had been an issue regarding her blood loss and that she was needing regular blood replenishing potions. That she was likely in unimaginable pain and they were administering regular pain potions. That she was now technically out of danger and should wake up at any minute.
He learnt that Theo was still having trouble with his leg but luckily his spine was all intact meaning there wasn't anything too serious going on, that his friend was still coughing up blood but that his ribs had fused back together courtesy of skele-gro. That he was having frequent headaches that the Mediwitch had no idea on saying if they would be permanent or not and that he was still being treated for a blood clot.

Draco learnt about himself too, he learnt that dating Hermione Granger had changed him more than he had realised. Before any of this he would never have been as amenable as to let the man who cursed his girlfriend sit next to her bed and visit with her, regardless of who he was. He would never have shut himself down like he did on the Friday afternoon as soon as Hermione was out of his arms. He would never had neglected himself so much, ignoring his friends' pleas. And he definitely never would have wanted to stop duelling with Harry Potter. Sure, technically he was the first to throw a hex that day but Harry was asking for it, refusing to give up no matter what Hermione, himself or Theo said or did. He wasn't the one to switch from hexes and jinxes to curses. That was all Harry. He learnt that loving Hermione changed him, made him a better man than he ever thought he could be. Made him a man he was a little bit proud of despite the brand on his arm.

Once classes were over Luna and Ginny made their way to the hospital wing hoping to see an improvement in the two patients. The wing was still warded against unwelcome visitors and luckily there had been no casualties over the past few days meaning that Theo and Hermione were the only patients under Madam Pomfrey's care at the moment. The two girls turned up with plates of food laden with hot stew and freshly baked cookies for themselves, both boys and Madam Pomfrey herself so they could all forgo having to listen to another lecture about missing mealtimes and malnutrition.

After they had all eaten enough Madam Pomfrey banished their leftovers and dishes to the kitchens while Luna sat on Theo's bed under the guise of helping with or getting help for, homework. Ginny, Gryffindor 'till the end ignored her homework and instead pulled out Quidditch magazines, tossing one to Draco before reading hers aloud to Hermione.

"Honestly Red, we want her to wake up not continue sleeping. She hates Quidditch!" Draco said in exasperation.

"She's my best friend of course I know she hates Quidditch, the weirdo. But I'm not reading my homework out to her and the only other books in this room are Pomfrey's trashy Werewolf novels which I am most definitely not reading. Out loud."

"You read Werewolf romance? Never took you for the type." He asked, his interest piqued.

"Oh please! I read Werewolf smut not romance! Who wants to read about love when I can read about raw, hot, animalistic fucking?" Ginny scoffed.

"Potter's a very lucky man" Theo smirked.

"That he is" Ginny agreed.

"Hold on, wasn't one of our defence professors a Werewolf?" Draco asked as he eyed her.

"Professor Lupin. He was. Still is, as far as I know. 'Once you turn beast you've gotta unleash.' Or so they say." She said as she flipped through to the jokes section.

Ginny and Luna stayed in the hospital wing until curfew was up and Madam Pomfrey had to physically kick them out with threats of not being allowed back in the following day, she didn't even try to get Draco to go knowing that after a full nights sleep she had no way of convincing him he needed more rest. After checking Hermione and Theo over one last time she administered the remaining potions before retiring to her office for the night warning both boys that she was not far if they needed her.

Draco and Theo sat in comfortable silence for a while until Draco gave in and fished his homework out of Hermione's bag where she had put it days earlier and started going through their Potions assignment which at this point was ready for the brewing stage, all the background work completed. Really, he was just trying to occupy himself to pass the time and since his choices were homework or Werewolf romance novels then, well, he would choose homework every time.

He was rereading the ingredients list for the fifth time and taking note of the possible side effects of each item if used incorrectly when a quiet raspy voice interrupted his thoughts.

"You know, seeing you in your Quidditch shirt just makes me realise that I don't own any jerseys with your name on. Isn't it customary for a girlfriend to wear her boyfriends shirt?" Hermione asked weakly.

Draco, shocked out of his deep concentration, stared at the small witch in the bed where she lay, mouth hanging open and jaw swinging as he took in her very conscious form.

"M-Mione? You're awake?" He stammered excitedly whilst praying to the gods this wasn't some cruel trick while he was actually asleep.

"I mean, I have Quidditch shirts but they're red and gold with the names 'Potter' and 'Weasley' on their backs. They're pretty comfy, especially for sleeping in." Hermione continued as she watched her boyfriend snap out of his stupor.

Draco, finally realising what was going on, his thoughts catching up to the rest of his brain, pushed the homework aside as he moved to kiss Hermione and thank all the deities he could think of for giving them a second chance.

"Oh thank Merlin" he sighed as he kissed her on the lips, cheeks, nose, head and even her eyelids. "Thank Merlin" he repeated quietly over and over as he smothered her in kisses and fussed with her pillows to make sure she was comfortable enough.

"Draco stop fussing I'm fine" Hermione tried to explain but her words fell on deaf ears as he started to lay extra blankets on her feet to keep her warm and offered her another pillow. "Draco?" She said as she grabbed his arm to bring him back to reality "Draco look at me, I'm fine" she insisted as silver eyes met amber.

"You're not fine Hermione you've just been cursed! Do you even know what day it is?" He hissed at her.

"I don't know, Saturday? Does it even matter? What matters is I'm fine" Hermione repeated.

"It's Monday" He shot back angrily.

"Technically it's now Tuesday and I'm going to go ahead and say it's also customary to not have a secret relationship" Theo shouted from the next bed.

"Theo? What are you doing here?" Hermione asked as she turned to see him lay in the next bed.

Theo rose a eyebrow at the witch and stared at her incredulously. "You honestly don't remember?" He asked.

"Remember what?"

"Well, shit!"

Draco and Theo spent the next fifteen minutes filling Hermione in on the details of what had happened after Potions on Friday and since then. She had been shocked to learn she had spent so long in a coma though not as shocked as she had been when she saw the cuts for herself once Draco had summoned Madam Pomfrey to check on her. Hermione, a true Gryffindor, only dwelled on the cuts and the obvious fact that they would scar for a few minutes before changing the subject.

"I bet Harry is killing himself over this, how is he?" She asked with a sigh.

"Told you" Theo said to his friend.

"I...he was here earlier. I was civil I promise. He looked a mess, if you have tear stains all over you that'll likely be off him."

"You're one to talk" Theo muttered.

Ignoring his friends interruptions Draco turned to Hermione "You're going to forgive him aren't you?" He asked apprehensively.

"Forgive what? There's nothing to forgive." She answered as firmly as she could with her weak voice.

"Hermione" Draco sighed as he rubbed his hand down his face anxiously. "He cursed you"

"I know and me and him are going to sit down and have a nice long chat all about that but it was an accident, a mistake, he had no idea what that spell would do. Granted that doesn't excuse anything but had he known he never would have used it. There's nothing to forgive Draco, don't make me be mad at him. He's the only family I have now." She said solemnly as she drank down a pain potion and sleeping draught cocktail Madam Pomfrey had left behind before excusing herself again.

"I'm sorry love I just - seeing you like that" Draco said sadly as he lowered his head into the bed.

Hermione ran her fingers through Draco's blonde hair, offering only an "I know" and a small sad smile.

"Do you think you could do me a favour?" He asked as he took her hand out of his hair and entwined their fingers before kissing the back of her hand.

"What's that?" She asked, still smiling at him.

"Don't ever save my life again. Intentionally or not" he said in all seriousness.

Hermione laughed lightly, ignoring how the action sent sparks of pain through each cut across her torso and pulled on Draco's hand before shifting across the bed to give him room to climb in. "Come on, get in" she said as she pulled the blankets back.

Draco didn't object and slipped his shoes off before getting in. "I was serious you know, about saving my life. It's not worth it." He said as he moved to get comfortable.

"I was serious about your Quidditch shirt but I still only own Potter and Weasley jerseys"

"You want to wear my shirt?" He asked as he reached one arm behind his back and pulled it off in one swift move, thankful he had put on a plain white cotton t-shirt underneath. "Here, it's yours" he said passing it to her.

Hermione took the green and silver shirt from her boyfriends hands, turning it over to check that it did indeed have 'Malfoy' emblazoned in silver across the back and sat up to put it on, not caring that he had just taken it off. It took a bit of effort and some help from Draco but she finally got it on though it was more of a dress on her than it was a shirt "as long as you promise never to save my life again" Draco added as he lay back in the bed.

"What, I don't look good in green? What do you think Theo? Does it suit me?" She asked turning towards his bed.

"You look okay I suppose" Theo shrugged.

"Hermione" Draco moaned "I'm serious!"

"And so am I Draco. I won't make a promise like that and you're fooling yourself even asking me to. I can't promise you that and you know it" she insisted.

Draco sat back up and looked into Hermione's eyes as he tucked a curl behind her ear. "I can't lose you" he whispered as he leaned his forehead against hers.

"And I can't lose you. I can't promise you something like that Draco. It's just not who I am" she said as she reached up and ran her fingers through his hair again.

"I know" he sighed defeatedly. "I just wish-"

"I know. So do I." Hermione agreed before they both lay back down in each other's arms.

"Do you want your shirt back?" She joked lightly a few minutes later.

"You can keep it, just do me a favour and stop wearing Weasley's shirt. You can at least promise me that much" he said as he pulled her in closer, careful not to touch her cuts in any way.

"Deal" Hermione agreed before kissing him goodnight. "Goodnight Draco" she whispered softly.

"Goodnight love" he replied, squeezing her hand a little bit tighter.

"Goodnight" Theo chimed from the next bed.

"Goodnight Theodore" Hermione called back before closing her eyes.

Chapter Text

Hermione was the first to wake the next morning, being in a coma for four days plus a sleeping draught coupled with years of training her body to never sleep in, meant she was unable to sleep past six. Unless of course Draco had thoroughly worn her out the night before. Hermione glanced down in the bed to see Draco was in the exact position he had been when she closed her eyes hours earlier, his head though was snuggled into the crook of her neck as far as he could get it. Hermione smiled at his actions and dropped her hand to run her fingers through his hair affectionately. Something about this action always seemed to soothe them both, but now it was becoming a habit. When Draco moaned involuntarily at her ministrations Hermione sighed and turned her focus to the only other occupied bed in the room. Unable to reach the curtain with her hands, she grabbed Draco's wand since her own was nowhere to be seen and wordlessly drew the curtains open to check on Theo.

"You're awake?" She asked in mild surprise as she looked him over closely, determined to find any little scratch she could, wanting reassurances that her friend was okay. The night before when she had woken up, it had been pretty dark and though the boys had spent a good fifteen minutes explaining, in detail - as she had demanded - everything that had happened, she hadn't been able to see Theo's injuries with her own eyes. The outline of his silhouette and his voice being the only thing to calm her at the time. Now though she could see - from a particularly awkward angle so as not to cause distress to her own wounds - just how bad his leg really was. It was strapped up in a similar fashion to how muggle's might strap up a limb. The leg was raised slightly with the help of pillows and nestled inside of a bright orange aid that was cushioned and hollowed inside, which was perfect for putting a leg in. There were four straps along the whole device that secured his leg and foot in place, keeping everything as still as possible and minimizing movements. Not that that was a problem for Theo of course since he couldn't actually feel anything.

When Theo instinctively turned to face Hermione at the sound of her voice he momentarily forgot all about the witch’s motherly tendencies. "Uh. I guess" he answered groggily.

Hermione's head snapped up and her eyes sought out his. The rough edge to his voice had concerned her but one look at his face and she was itching to jump out of her own bed and play Mediwitch. His skin was exceptionally pale which was not an easy feat since he generally had an olive tone to it. His eyes were puffy and bloodshot with purple bags underneath and his lips were cracked while his hair was an absolute disaster. "Theo?" She whispered "Theo what's wrong? When did you wake up, how much sleep have you even had?" She gasped as her hand tightened around the bars at the side of her bed, her knuckles turning white.

Theo bit his lip nervously "uh...last night?" He asked.

Hermione nodded sadly but seriously, to indicate that yes, she did mean last night.

"Umm well, none" he replied.

"None? When was the last time you slept?" She growled at him.

"I...."

"Theo" she said warningly.

"Fine. Friday. It was Friday." He admitted.

"Friday? But it's Tuesday! Theo it's been four days! You need to sleep." She admonished him before relaxing enough to ask "Why haven't you slept?" In her more caring voice.

"Scared"

"Of?"

"You" he answered bleakly.

"Me? You're scared of me?" Hermione asked confusedly.

"Well not you exactly, it's just, the last time I went to sleep I woke up and you were in a coma. It terrified me. I know I don't show it much and in all honesty we haven't been friends that long really but, but you're one of my best friends and you being in a coma, that was - that was hard. Plus, the last time I slept I kept having convulsions and nearly dying so there's that. I mean it's not all about you or anything.” He said exaggerating the last part with such lack of tact that even a blast ended skrewt would notice. Basically he was trying to back pedal that he had just claimed Hermione Granger was one of his best friends.

"I'm scared too" Hermione admitted quietly "Madam Pomfrey gave me a potion for my memories last night, she said I didn't have to take it but I wanted to. I knew it would be bad and there's still bits and pieces missing but..." She said as she worried her bottom lip between her teeth. Taking a deep calming breath Hermione carried on "but I do remember some things" she said sadly. "I remember being on the floor and watching as three spells simultaneously backfired on you. I saw you fly into that wall and hit your head. I remember crawling over to you instead of trying to stop the duelling. The duel didn't even register in my mind I was too concerned with you. You hadn't even moved or made a sound, did you know that?" She asked as she looked into his bloodshot eyes. "When I reached you it was like all rationality escaped me. I thought you were dead Theo. I didn't even think to check for a pulse. I thought you were dead, was convinced of it even. And I sobbed, I felt my heart break, you know? I felt like a piece of me was gone. I felt empty." Hermione said as she wiped her tears on the sleeve of Draco's - no her's now - Quidditch shirt. "When you coughed, and I know it was with a mouthful of blood, but when you did I had honestly never felt happier in my life, despite the obvious. I love you Theo, you're one of my best friends and probably the only one besides Draco who I can have a decent conversation with without having to dumb down my words" she laughed lightly, still wiping away her tears. "Seeing that the first time was hard, reliving it was even harder and I'm sure the events of the whole day will plague my dreams for a while but I can't let it stop me and neither can you. You need to sleep Theo, I promise I'll be fine. No more coma's."

"I don't know" Theo answered weakly.

"Please? For me? Would you please try? I'll get Madam Pomfrey to bring you a sleeping draught. I'll be here when you wake up. And I'll even go through all that homework you've been doing. Don't think I don't know about that threat to do it wrong on purpose." She admonished lightly before calling on the Mediwitch without giving him a chance to answer.

Madam Pomfrey didn't seem at all like she had just woken up; her uniform still looked as crisp as it had the previous day and her healers hat was perfectly in place without a hair out of place, in fact both Hermione and Theo wondered if the Mediwitch slept at all or if she just ran solely on extra strength Pepper-Up potions. The Mediwitch took the opportunity to check Hermione over first, screwing her face up in obvious distaste at Draco sleeping soundly in the bed with Hermione but choosing not to say anything when the younger witch laid it on a little thick saying him being there had helped her get a decent sleep the night before. Not that the sleeping draught and pain potion cocktail hadn't helped of course, but apparently he drove the nightmares away and the Mediwitch couldn't argue with that but instead silently wondered how in Merlin's name did Hermione know Draco would keep the nightmares away considering that they were one, in different houses. Two, they couldn't share a bed even if they weren't and three, it's hardly like they would be able to meet outside of school, for obvious reasons. Keeping her thoughts to herself Madam Pomfrey checked Hermione's cuts that were healing nicely (albeit slowly). Her chest was completely closed up now due to all the creams and salves that were being applied so often. The skin around each cut was still very pink but with the help of magic and potions, they were no longer raised angrily as they had been for the first few days. All in all, she was on the road to recovery, being kept in a while longer as a precaution for the blood loss she sustained and of course, the coma.

 

After administering Hermione's potions Madam Pomfrey moved on to Theo. She issued the Slytherin boy a pain potion before looking him over after he visibly winced at the light she had lit. Checking Theo over, Madam Pomfrey was obviously more concerned than she had been for Hermione. Her worry was mainly for the lack of feelings in his leg and his obvious headaches which she was now sure would likely follow him through life since nothing she seemed to do helped, except a really rather strong pain potion that Professor Snape was brewing specifically. The good news, she declared, was that his blood clot was now no longer a blood clot and basically all they were waiting for now was a specialized healer from St Mungo's to arrive and take a look at his leg. She hoped they would have some better answers and helpful ideas to get him back on his feet again. At Hermione's request, or rather, insistence, she gave Theo a sleeping draught that, combined with the pain potion, should knock him out for at least a day; though the last time she had said that it had barely lasted twelve hours before a migraine forced him awake.

 

Madam Pomfrey excused herself back to her office mumbling something about paperwork and chasing up healers after passing Theo's school bag to Hermione so the witch could go through their homework while he slept. When she left the room Hermione stared at Theo, watching him closely, waiting for him to drink down the sleeping draught and give in to exhaustion.

"Fine" he grumbled when he realized she wasn't giving up and swallowed the contents in one go before discarding the vial and glaring at the bushy haired witch in the next bed. "Happy now?" He moaned.

"Not really but it’s a start" Hermione replied watching the effects of the potion take over him as he yawned and his eyes closed involuntarily.

"Bloody hell woman what can I do to make you happy?" He muttered in his sleepy state.

"Sleep" she replied with a smile.

"Mmhm" he answered inaudibly before he started snoring.

Hermione's smile grew a little wider at her small achievement and she pulled Theo's bag up ready to tackle their homework. After all, she needed to keep herself busy somehow if she was going to keep her promise.

 

oOoOoOo

 

A couple of hours and a Charms assignment later and Hermione had resorted to forcefully waking Draco. How he had slept through the mediwitch's half hourly checkups to apply more salve and redress her wounds she didn't know, but if he carried on sleeping he would be late for class, never-mind breakfast and she would be damned if he missed another day of school now that she was awake.

"Draco, wake up" she whispered, hoping Theo wouldn't hear and wake up instead.

Instead of answering, Draco moved closer to Hermione and snuggled his head deeper into her side while pulling the blanket up over his head.

Despite herself and the pain it caused to do so, Hermione laughed at his childish antics and pulled the blankets away. "Come on Love, classes start in an hour and you have to get changed and have breakfast first."

"Five more minutes" he pouted sleepily.

"No, now" she insisted.

"Urgh" he moaned as he pulled the blankets back over his head to shield out the light.

"Fine then. Have it your way. Go to classes dressed in the clothes you slept in all night, I'm sure nobody will notice"

"Okay okay, I'm up" Draco said as he pulled the blankets away and sat up, being careful not to knock Hermione in anyway or mess up her layout of homework. "What are you doing anyway?" He asked as he kissed her temple since she was far too deep in concentration with a quill hanging out of her mouth for a proper kiss.

"Homework" Hermione replied vaguely.

"Of course, how stupid of me" Draco joked sarcastically before getting out of the bed to stretch and give Hermione more room. He then pulled over a table for her to lean on better and grabbing her own bag of homework that she could be working on.

The pair spent the next ten minutes catching up, Hermione filled Draco in on the progress Madam Pomfrey had said she had made in her recovery, telling him that her stay in the hospital wing was now just precautionary for a while. Draco was happy and for the first time in a while he smiled a genuine smile, that is until Hermione continued and explained about Theo. When Draco realized he had spent so long in the same room as his best friend, literally within reaching distance of him and not noticing he wasn't sleeping, he cursed himself. He thanked Hermione for looking out for his friend until she glared at him and insisted he was her friend too then went on to explain the rest of Theo's issues. They were both concerned over the headaches and hoped that over time, and with less stress, they would dissipate to nothing, though they each knew the likelihood of him getting less stress any time soon was laughable. The leg though worried them more and though neither said so they were both concerned he may never walk again. Hermione sent Draco off with a list and clear instructions to visit the library as soon as he had the chance for healing books regarding both ailments. She figured that since she was stuck in bed she may as well make use of her time and try to find a way to help her friend.

 

oOoOoOo

 

Draco made it to the great hall in time for breakfast much to the surprise of practically the entire table of his house mates. He sat himself down in his regular seat next to Blaise in such a way so that he had a perfect view of the Gryffindor table and could keep an eye on Harry Potter. Draco absent-mindedly plated his food up and began eating without paying much attention to what he was putting in his mouth, too busy glaring at the Chosen One across the hall when, from a few seats down the bench where the majority of the Slytherin Quidditch team regularly sat he heard the voice of Cassius Warrington, current team captain, pipe up. "Oi, Malfoy" he shouted as he threw a stale piece of toast Draco's way.

Draco turned to Cassius' direction, catching the toast before it had the chance to land in Pansy's porridge. He shook his head at the older boy for his immature behaviour and glared at him "yes?" He asked impatiently when it became obvious that the other boy didn't understand the full concept of the Malfoy glare.

"Where were you on Saturday, we had a game! In fact, you missed Friday's practice session too" Cassius shouted down the table.

"Busy, I'm sure you've heard the rumours." Draco answered as he took a sip of his pumpkin juice.

"Busy? That's all you've got to say for yourself? We lost the game without you. We don't know if you're coming or going anymore and to be honest mate it's making practising pretty hard" Cassius said lowering his tone slightly so that only their section of the table could hear what was going on.

"Well why don't I make it easy for you then Warrington, I quit" Draco replied as he he stood up and collected his bag, ready to head to his first class of the day.

It wasn't just Cassius that was spluttering on his words or juice, the rest of the team, and the Slytherin's who had been within hearing distance were all choking on mouthfuls of breakfast food at Draco's revelation. After all, he had worked hard throughout the summer holidays between first and second year, telling his father all about Harry Potter being on the house team and could he please just buy his heir and only child's way in so that he could be on the team and beat the boy-who-lived and prove to everyone he was better than him, because he was better, oh also I need a better broom. Everyone knew that story, even the first years knew that story.

Draco walked out of the great hall without looking back at his classmates; Holding his head high he actually felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders now that he had one less thing to stress over and take up more time that he didn't really have. He actually smiled as he headed to Charms. It was a small smile but a smile nonetheless. His girlfriend was awake and on the road to recovery, their Potions assignment was nearly over and with it the Easter holidays right around the corner. Sure, he still had plenty to worry about too; Theo was his main issue at the minute, but he also had the small tasks of killing his headmaster and the being a death eater thing, but right now, he was taking what silver linings he could.

 

With the morning classes over and a free period before lunch Draco headed to the library with Hermione's list in one hand and dragging Blaise behind him with the other. He had spent the majority of the previous class, History of Magic, filling his friend in on Hermione and Theo and why he had quit Quidditch when it was literally his favourite thing in the world, according to Blaise. When Draco turned and looked his friend in the eye and said, without skipping a beat, that his new favourite thing in the world was watching Hermione orgasm around him, that Quidditch didn't even come close to comparing to that feeling, Blaise's eyes widened slightly. He replied with "I always knew she would be a dirty little whore in the bedroom" with his biggest, most deviant smirk he had in his arsenal. Draco had punched him in the shoulder to dispel of any images his friend might be conjuring up in his head involving his girlfriend. After that, Draco decided that for payback Blaise would accompany him to the library, figuring that with both of them looking for the (rather large) list of books they might actually be done in time to drop them off to Hermione before lunch.

 

In the library Draco and Blaise headed straight for the section Hermione had mentioned. Draco had never paid attention enough to know that Hogwarts even offered healing books, never-mind a whole section dedicated to them. There were tomes upon tomes of books and what looked like ancient diaries all in the name of healing. It was obvious that Hermione had spent quite a bit of time in this particular section of the library since she seemed to know exactly what she was looking for. Draco and Blaise browsed through, section by section. First they went through the section on regular healing, putting four books aside before moving into the specialized sections and picking out the titles Hermione had instructed. By the time they reached the Medicinal Herbology section they already had nine books, two of which the boys had picked themselves which they thought might be helpful.

As Draco neared the end of the aisle, focused on the book titles and skimming for a specific one, he heard heated voices from behind the bookshelf. Ignoring it in favour of hurrying up he carried on through the shelves intent on finishing off the list and getting the books to Hermione.

"-and look at the state of you, you can't even dress yourself properly, it's actually laughable. Didn't mummy ever teach you to wear shoes?"

"My mother passed when I was young" he heard a calm and serene voice reply back. A voice he had come to know pretty well after the past few days, the voice of a girl he knew would help literally anyone, any time. The voice of a girl that had helped him despite knowing who he was, what he was. Stopping what he was doing Draco silently waved Blaise over and both boys listened in closer, intent on seeing how far things went.

"Aww Loony has no mummy such a shame" the voice mocked, he was sure he knew that voice too.

"Though it really does answer a lot of questions. Like why you always wear radishes in your ears" another voice added.

"Actually, they're not radishes though I do see the confusion. They're dirigible plums"

"Whatever. Radishes or plums, whatever they are are hardly suitable ear wear"

"They ward off bad spirits and energy. Actually, I think you could really use a pair because your aura is getting a darker shade every time I see you. Red really isn't a good look on you. I can make you a pair if you like, all of you" Luna replied and Draco could just feel the smile on the younger girl’s lips.

"The only bad spirit around here is you, Loony. You don't get it do you? Nobody likes you. Nobody wants to hang out with you or sit next to you in class or at meals. -"

"That's Chang" Blaise whispered.

"-You have no friends. You'll never have a boyfriend. I mean, look at you, look. You're a mess. Even make-up wouldn't fix that face. You're-"

Draco had had enough; he couldn't listen to Luna being spoken to like that anymore. He rounded the corner on the scene, shocked to see that Cho Chang along with Marietta Edgecombe had a group of Ravenclaw's trailing behind them, all agreeing with everything the two girls were saying about their own house-mate. Some were even in Luna's year by the looks of it. "Well, well, well, what have we here?" He asked as he leaned against a book shelf pretending to be amused at what he had happened upon. Blaise, following suit, pretended to inspect his immaculate nails.

"Piss off Malfoy, this doesn't concern you" Cho said with a snarl.

"Aww like I would do what you say. You, the dirt on my shoe"

"You know, I'm team captain, I can make your Quidditch life and career a living hell" she threatened.

Draco laughed, the idea that someone like her who didn't have his family name and fortune to help her in life could actually ruin anything for him was rather hilarious. "I'd pay galleons to see you try. So I take it it's your time of the month or something? Are you lot all synced up? Is that something bookworms do as soon as you get handed your room assignments? Or are you just always this much of a bitch and I just never noticed it before?" He asked as he drummed his fingers along a book he had picked up, pretending to be interested in the title.

"Like you're one to talk" Marietta hissed back.

"Well for one, we wouldn't turn on our own house-mate's, would we Zabini?"

"Huh?" Blaise asked, still feigning interest.

"These bitches are bullying their own house-mate and they're trying to say we're no better" Draco repeated in an almost bored tone.

"We might be snakes but we huddle together for warmth. We look out for our own. We certainly wouldn't cast someone aside just because they might be a little bit different." Blaise said as his harsh stare met Cho's.

"A little bit different? Have you even looked at her?" She asked in shock.

"It's part of her appeal. She's not like the rest of you bimbos. Well, that's what her boyfriend said anyway."

"Did you just call me a... boyfriend?! What? Well you got me there" she said as she laughed at the Slytherin boys, clearly thinking this was all some sort of prank.

Draco stood up straight and walked over to Luna "You okay Luna?" He asked softly.

"I'm fine Draco" she smiled "I'm used to it now anyway." She replied with a sad sigh.

Cho and Marietta stopped their laughing abruptly and looked to one another then back at Luna and Draco, the realization that neither of the Slytherin's were joking dawning on them.

"You know she believes nargles exist!" Cho almost shouted as she tried to turn things around.

"I know. And Wrackspurts and dimple-bottomed-forget-me-nots" Draco said smiling fondly at the witch beside him.

"She's mental, definitely a few cauldrons short of a potions lab" she said to a round of laughter from her friends.

Draco looked up at the group of girls "Why's that?" He asked curiously.

"Because she's the only one who's ever seen them. I've never seen them. Nobody I know has seen them. Everyone knows they're not real" she laughed.

"Is that so? Tell me Chang, Edgecombe, do you believe Harry Potter?" He asked almost wickedly.

"Excuse me?" Marietta asked, clearly confused.

"Do you believe Potter? Do you believe Voldemort is back?"

"Wh-what?" Cho stuttered.

"It's a fairly simple question. Do you believe he's back? Last year you were both a part of the DA and hardly anybody believed he was back but you had to or you wouldn't have wasted so much time sneaking about and learning defence." He said firmly.

"Well, yes. Yes, I do." She answered.

"What about you, Edgecombe? Do you think he's back?"

"Y-yes" she answered nervously.

"Right. So, have either of you seen him. With your own eyes I mean?"

"Well no, not exactly" Cho trailed.

Draco turned his attention to Marietta. "No" she almost whispered in reply.

"So how do you know that he's back? By your logic, seeing is believing. Apparently." He said with a roll of his eyes.

"We just know okay?" Cho said, mustering up her courage.

"Great. And Luna just knows that nargles exist. Is anyone belittling your belief? No? Then why are you belittling hers? Do you know, I've never been more proud to be a Slytherin. There's something seriously wrong when you cast your own aside because she's a bit different. Especially in a house that values individuality and wit and whatever" he ranted. "Are these the girls who have been taking your shoes? I heard you the other night you know" he said as he looked down at her feet "Luna, where are your shoes?" He demanded. "Merlin, it's a bloody good job Theo isn't here to see this."

Luna looked up at Cho, Marietta and their group of sheep before turning to Draco "I'm not entirely sure" she answered.

"This has gone too fucking far. Chang, Edgecombe, I swear to Salazar if Luna doesn't have EVERY single one of her possessions back within the hour I will make your life hell and don't think I can't. And if I so much as even suspect you're bullying her again I will make you think your only option is to hide in the muggle world and then I will find you and make that life hell too. Trust me, it's better than what her boyfriend would do." He spat as he stood inches from their faces, his mouth twisted into an evil snarl. "You'll never be half the woman she is" he growled before grabbing Luna's arm and walking away. "Oh, and Edgecombe?" He called to the girls as they started to hurriedly leave the library. Marietta turned back hesitantly "your scars spell something, did you know?" He said with a smirk as he pointed to her head and remembered a story Hermione had told him. Marietta's hands flew to her head and mouth and she squeaked loudly before running back down the aisles.

Draco and Blaise waited for the group of girls to leave before turning their attentions to Luna. "Are you okay?" Blaise asked gently.

"Yes. I'm okay. It's okay. You didn't have to do that." She answered as she gave each of the boys a hug albeit awkward hugs.

"We stick up for our own and you're Theo's girl so that includes you" Blaise replied with a smile as he moved back to the bookshelf and began looking for the last of the books on the list.

"He's right you know. Besides you don't deserve that. You really are the purest person I've ever met. Come on, help us find some books Hermione sent me down for" Draco said as he dragged her towards the Medicinal Herbology section.

"Hermione's awake?" Luna asked excitedly with a huge grin on her face.

"Oh shit" Draco muttered to himself before explaining the events of the night before after she and Ginny had left once curfew was up. Once Luna was clued in she explained to the boys about her passion for healing and how she was fascinated with medical Herbology. She helped them find the tomes Hermione had asked for and added another to the pile herself before the three of them walked to the hospital wing to drop them off before lunch.

Chapter Text

When Draco dropped off the books, being careful to be as discreet as possible and not bring attention to the fact that he, the Prince of Slytherin, was visiting the Gryffindor Princess. There were a small handful of students in robes of yellow and blue milling around the bed of a first year who had somehow managed a Quidditch injury despite not actually being able to play the sport.

Draco sneaked in behind the curtains Hermione had drawn around both her and Theo's beds, though the dividing curtain to separate them into individual spaces was left open, leaving a semi private closed off room just for the two of them. Not that it made much difference since Theo was still asleep but Draco figured it was more for Hermione's own peace of mind than anything else. He had noticed she liked to collect 'strays', even her cat was testament to that, and Theo definitely fell under the category too though he did wonder where that left him.
Apparently the wards to keep out the students had been lifted for the time being while the little first year was being fixed up, with just barely minutes until lunch was served the three didn't stay for very long. Luna gave her friend a nearly crippling hug that somehow still seemed to avoid all her wounds while the blonde girl chanted repeatedly how happy she was that Hermione had woken up before excusing herself to check up on Theo. Blaise made small talk, feeling slightly uneasy around the witch since he didn't really know her that well and trying to avoid thinking about her bedroom activities since Draco had put it in his head earlier. And, when Draco kissed her in a way that made even Blaise thankful that the curtains were drawn, the dark-skinned teenager couldn't pry his eyes off of the pair, needing to see the abomination with his own eyes. Though what he was expecting was obviously not the quiet little moan he heard from the back of Hermione's throat that made him instantly hard. He turned slightly and adjusted his trousers, thankful, and not for the first time in his life - or even that day - for wizarding robes. The image of Draco and Hermione kissing like it was going out of fashion though shocked him. Knowing they were together being one thing, but apparently seeing it with his own eyes was something else entirely.

After the three visitors left, along with the first year whose arm was now fused back together and his Quidditch groupies, as Blaise had named them, Hermione opened their curtains again and pulled out the stack of books they had brought her. She started to work her way through them looking for anything that could help Theo. First she concentrated on just his leg looking for anything that might help, even trying a few spells out on his sleeping body, though she was sceptical.
When the elves sent up her food she ate and read. And read and read, for hours. Barely stopping to rest between each volume before moving into the next, stopping only to take her potions and apply the salves.

Later on when the healer from St Mungo’s finally turned up she only pretended to read. When the wizard flicked his wand and drew the curtains with himself and Madam Pomfrey behind them, Hermione put her book down and cast a spell she had modified for a Charms assignment that enabled her to hone in her hearing. This was a lot better than extendable ears, and the likelihood of getting caught much smaller.

She heard Madam Pomfrey give the healer a quick brief of what had happened and what the problem was and how nothing was working.

"-there was an... issue I suppose you could say, with a small group of students. As I hear it Mr. Nott tried to stop his friend and another from duelling and cast a shield charm to protect them from each other. Unfortunately for young Mr. Nott here, both of the other students happened to cast hexes at each other at the same time and, well, all three spells backfired on Theodore. He was thrown back into the wall, hitting his head pretty hard which has caused constant migraines since. At the moment, his leg is the main concern I'm afraid." Madam Pomfrey went on to explain about Theo's leg and the spells and potions herself and Professor Snape had tried over the past few days before delving further into his head injury and the extra strong pain potions they were having to use to keep them at bay, explaining that it was the only way to keep him asleep even with a sleeping draught. As she said this, the healer went on to cast a diagnostic spell on his whole body before repeating the process in specialized areas so as not to miss anything.

"Hmm...that's odd. Nothing is showing up on the diagnostic. Apparently his leg is fine." The healer muttered quietly to himself. "I'll have to focus on his leg and spine separately and cast it again." He said before repeating the action on both areas to no avail.

More frustrated at the lack of knowledge of what was wrong that without he had no sure way of healing, the healer repeated each diagnostic multiple times in order to be sure he had cast it properly.

"I understand the frustration, myself and Severus have both tried diagnostics too" Madam Pomfrey sympathized.

Eventually the healer gave up trying to get any extra information on Theo's leg, and moved on to his head. Unfortunately, even though this diagnostic did reveal something; it wasn't anything he hadn't already suspected or learnt from the Mediwitch herself. He advised Madam Pomfrey that he thought the migraines would be a constant ailment in his future. He couldn't say for sure how often or how bad or even what triggers he would have, but the diagnostic had revealed permanent damage. The healer insisted Theo was lucky to be alive and should find somebody who would be willing to brew him regular extra strength pain potions before moving on to divide his attentions on his leg and spine. All in all it was not something she hadn't already suspected.

For the next few hours Hermione listened in whilst skimming through the pile of books Draco had left her with. She had long ago become fascinated with healing magic and so knew exactly which books would be best for what she was looking for. So far she couldn't find anything that she hadn't already heard the healer try without success.

"-I don't know what to do. I don't think I've ever come across this sort of thing before. I'll have to speak with another healer and see what they say. I wouldn't expect this kind of injury in a regular backfired spell. This is closer to what I would suspect of dark magic." The healer huffed out frustrated.

"I understand. I haven't been able to figure it out either" Madam Pomfrey said consolingly and Hermione could almost feel the frown playing on her lips. The two had walked away to Madam Pomfrey’s office where, Hermione had assumed, the healer would floo back to St Mungos and Madam Pomfrey would set about getting her latest report on the two patients ready for Dumbledore.

oOoOoOo

Hermione sat there, dejectedly mulling over what the healer and Mediwitch had said, running through each and every spell that had been tried in the past few hours, going over what she knew of magic and healing, as the last few words of the healer replayed in her mind. "This is closer to what I would expect of dark magic." He had said. That was it! Hermione gasped loudly, her eyes widening in realization as it hit her. Dark magic. That was it! She grabbed her wand and with a quick swish had the curtains of Theo's bed open again revealing a still soundly sleeping boy who, in this state looked smaller than usual with hair messier than even Harry's. She smiled fondly before shifting her position to try and get a closer look of his leg. It wasn't hard, their beds were pretty close and she hadn't long taken her pain potion, so even though she could feel the pain the movements caused, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Hermione shifted so that she was almost hanging over the bars of the bed that kept her from falling out. With a little more twisting and turning, she managed to get a good view of the strapped up leg where she saw, just as she had expected, a small cut on Theo's knee. It was tiny really. Barely a scratch. But Hermione knew, just knew that this was no ordinary scratch. This was dark magic.

She ran through everything that had happened in her head on that Friday afternoon. Refreshing her memory, some pieces still missing despite the fact she was taking the potion to get her memories back. She would have to ask Draco and Harry to run through the whole thing later on, but for now she went back to her books with a clearer head, intent on finding the right spell or potion that would have Theo walking again though not before sending Draco a quick message through their charmed coins. 'Need to see you, Harry and Luna tonight. Get them both here. Love you' she whispered before sending it off.

 

It was a few hours later after a rushed dinner that the three turned up. The wards apparently back in place as Draco had to (begrudgingly) speak to Madam Pomfrey about letting Harry in on Hermione's insistence. The Mediwitch was sceptical at first until the boys both promised that wands would stay holstered and they would play nice, for Hermione's sake if nothing else. Madam Pomfrey adjusted the wards to admit him before leaving the teenagers with a warning that she had no in trouble kicking them out if she even suspected trouble was brewing and retreated back to her office.

Draco greeted Hermione with a kiss to her forehead before moving over towards Theo's bed where Luna was, giving Hermione and Harry space though not too much since he still didn't trust Harry as far as he could throw him.

"Hey" Harry mumbled sheepishly.

"Hi" Hermione replied, much more confident than her friend stood in front of her.

"I err...I... -"

"Yes?"

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry Hermione! I didn't know and now I feel-" Harry started rambling.

Hermione sighed, she had known it would go like this. She grabbed her wand and pulled out a chair "sit, Harry" she said calmly.

Harry looked at her with trepidation for a moment before obliging. "I nearly killed you." He sobbed. "If it was Malfoy and you weren't there...they told me how you nearly died...he would have died. I would have killed him. I didn't know"

"I know" Hermione replied with little emotion. She had called Harry here for a reason other than this but it needed to be dealt with regardless. She had promised Draco he would get a good scolding and she wasn't about the let him off the hook because he had realized his mistakes.

"I'm so sorry" Harry continued.

"Yes, Draco probably would have died which is why I'm glad it was me that took the curse." At this she heard a growl coming from the man in question at the bed beside them but ignored him and carried on. "I couldn't have carried him here the way he did me. He was much more focused than I would have been. I went to pieces when Theo was down, I thought he was dead and didn't even check for a pulse" Hermione said with a lump in her throat at the memory. "But sorry isn't enough Harry, not for this. I warned you about that book for months. I told you it was dangerous to trust it after second year and Tom Riddle's diary. I was sure you would listen but you never did. I hope you've learnt your lesson because I'm sick of repeating myself."

"I have. Believe me I never want to look at another book ever again" Harry interrupted as he scratched the back of his neck nervously.

"That's good but unfortunate. Books are a lifeline Harry you just have to pick the right ones. Speaking of books, there's a reason I called you here, other than the obvious" Hermione said, her eyes still holding their firm gaze. "Draco? Luna?" She called quietly to her boyfriend and friend to come closer. "Now everyone's here, I need to know, in exact detail what happened on Friday afternoon. I need to know everything. Especially concerning Theo. It's important and I'll explain why when you finish." she implored the three of them as she sat up to get more comfortable, waiting for one of them to start the story.

 

When Draco and Harry finished the story, though mostly Draco since Harry was too ashamed of himself and his actions to repeat what had happened and look Hermione in the eye at the same time, Hermione was even more sure of her theory on dark magic being involved than she had been earlier. It was the only other explanation that fit and this one fit perfectly.

"Why do you need to know this? Me and Theo told you most of this last night, love" Draco said as he took her hand in his and entwined their fingers.

"I needed to make sure I remembered everything because" she took a deep breath "because I think I know what's wrong with Theo's leg and its...it's...you might think I'm crazy" she said as she bit her lip worriedly.

"We won't, love. I promise. If I was going to trust anyone to think outside the box it would always be you" Draco assured her as he looked to Luna and Harry for back up.

"This is outside the box alright" Hermione muttered to herself before going on to explain what had happened earlier that day when the healer had come to see Theo. "He said; 'This is closer to what I would expect of dark magic' and then it hit me! That's because it was dark magic" she said almost excitedly, her eyes lighting up as she began to explain her theory.

"Dark magic? I just cast a leg locker jinx, what about you Potter?" Draco asked Harry as his brows drew together in confusion.

"Body bind" Harry admitted before looking at Hermione quizzically. As a rule of thumb since first year he always listened to her theories as they were generally always right.

"No" Hermione insisted as she took Luna's hand in her free one, squeezing in gently as if she could give the younger witch reassurances or courage in that one small gesture. "Not you two. Not dark magic from you. The bathroom we were in was Myrtle's bathroom. Where she was killed and the chamber of secrets was built then opened twice. Where Tom Riddle, Voldemort, whatever you want to call him, tried to lure you in through Ginny. Where you killed a basilisk and destroyed a powerful diary. Don't you see? That room is literally reeking with dark magic!" She exclaimed.

"But then how...?" Harry asked, looking towards Theo's bed.

"The sink" Hermione explained. "When Theo was thrown back into the wall he hit his head in the sink with such a force that it broke off the wall where I'm guessing the residual magic had nestled itself. Theo has a small scratch on his knee that must have happened as he went down, the residual dark magic escaped the walls through the outlet of the sink and found the closest living thing in the room to use as its host. The magic has to enter the body somehow, usually it's a much deeper and intended wound made by an attacker but a scratch will be enough as long as the skin is broken. Look at his knee, it's fresh. Less than a week old."

"Okay, so say this is what actually happened, how did nobody pick it up in their diagnostic spells? Surely something so dark would show up? Snape, Pomfrey and a healer wouldn't all miss that, would they?" Draco pointed out.

"It would show up. If they were using the correct diagnostic spells. They didn't find signs of dark magic because they were not looking for it. You need to use specific diagnostic spells to find traces of this kind of magic. A simple, every day diagnostic spell just wouldn't work." Hermione explained, thankful that her knowledge in healing was paying off.

"You're sure?" Harry asked.

Hermione nodded once, closing her eyes to try and stop the tears at the thought before opening them again to look at the faces in front of her, trying to decipher their reactions.

"Well, fuck" Draco swore.

"I believe you" Luna said as she gave Hermione a gentle hug. "Theodore is really lucky to have someone like you looking out for him." She said with a smile before turning her head back to her boyfriends bed with a sad smile.

"We need to tell Pomfrey" Harry decided.

"No." Hermione almost shouted.

All three of them turned to look back at her almost as if she had three heads, why wouldn't she tell Madam Pomfrey, the Mediwitch? Why wouldn't she get him help?

"We-we can't. She wouldn't believe us and if people found out there was residual dark magic in the school...can you even think about the chaos that would cause? The Ministry would be inundated and the Prophet would have a field day. There would be riots. Parents would take their kids out of school, professors would be without jobs and homes all for something that can be fixed quite simply." Hermione insisted and she pulled her hands free and started to twist them nervously in her lap.

"So what do we do? What do you suggest?" Draco asked tentatively.

"I-we, have to do it. We have to heal him" she answered firmly.

"How? You said there's nothing in these books that could help" Harry pointed out as he touched the stack of books on a nearby table.

"There's not but there's another book in the library that can help. I've seen it in the past and I believe the spell we need would be in there."

"Okay well what is it and we'll go now before it closes" Harry said standing up ready to run to the library and catch Madam Pince before she closed up for the night.

"Sit down" Hermione insisted and waited for him to do so before continuing. "It's not that simple. The book we need is in the restricted section and there's no professor in the castle who would give any of us permission to check it out. In fact, I'm sure the school don't even realise it's still there otherwise it would have been removed long ago. Luckily for us, Madam Pince isn't as on top of the restricted section as she ought to be"

"When were you in the restricted section?" Draco asked in surprise.

"Many times, actually. But that's not the point the point is I need you to get it. Tonight. IfI'm right the longer the dark magic is manifesting inside of Theo the worse it will get." she said as she gazed towards the next bed sadly. "We need it tonight" she repeated in a tone that matched her expression.

"But how will we-" Draco began.

"I'll go, I've got the cloak and the map. I can be in and out faster." Harry insisted.

"You've also got detention until midnight Potter. No, I'll go" Draco argued.

Luna was just about to pipe up that she should go or so Hermione guessed before the curly haired witch interrupted the arguing. "Look, this is going to take two people anyway, stop arguing. You both need to go" she said with a stern glare at Draco and Harry that left no room for argument "and you will do so without fighting. This isn't about your petty squabbles this is about saving Theo, okay?" She demanded.

"Okay" they both grumbled in unison.

"Good. Now that that's settled; Harry, you will take the cloak and map to your detention with you and come straight here afterwards, Madam Pomfrey lets Draco stay well into the night so you can pick him up from here when you're done and Luna will stay here with me. Then you will get the book as quickly and quietly as possible and bring it here before going back to your dorms and letting me read through it. Dark magic is much more complicated and I need to be sure of what I'm doing. Hopefully, with a bit of luck this will all be over tomorrow night."

With the three of them agreeing to her plans, albeit reluctantly on Draco and Harry's end, Harry stood to say goodbye and head to his dorm to pick up said cloak and map before his detention. "I hope you can forgive me one day" he whispered to Hermione as he gave her a hug which was almost bone crippling that he had clearly been wanting to do since he saw her awake.

"Start afresh with Draco and trust me where he's concerned; you're much more alike than you realize Harry. And get me that book and I'll think about it, okay?" She whispered just loud enough for him and Draco to hear.

"I'll try, for you" he promised before kissing her temple and leaving.

Chapter Text

Madam Pomfrey kept up her routine of half hourly checks on Hermione and Theo, making sure to keep on top of the pain potion that helped keep Theo asleep and Hermione's pain potion that kept her wounds from causing her too much suffering meaning the brunette girl could at least move certain parts of her body even if it was very restricted.

After Harry had left Luna pulled out a try of freshly baked cookies that one of the elves had been all too willing to pass on and with a flask of milk the three sat around both beds, indulging in their chocolatey treats and flipping from either doing their homework or going back to the stack off healing books; just in case something may have been missed.

It was nearly one in the morning when the doors to the hospital wing opened, seemingly of their own accord and a few seconds later when Harry, under the guise of his invisibility cloak, whispered "Pssst it's me, come on. We need to go" he said loud enough for the three students to hear.

"No shit Potter" Draco muttered with a roll of his eyes, as if it wasn't already obvious who had gotten through the wards undetected.

"Okay, you remember the title of the book?" Hermione asked in a low voice, hoping Madam Pomfrey was asleep or far enough away so as not to notice or hear them.

"Of course. The Ancient Book of Dark Arts; A Guide to Healing. It's committed to memory love" he replied before giving her a chaste kiss goodbye.

"Be careful, both of you" Luna implored as she moved closer to Draco and pulled him in for a hug. Whether he liked it or not the pair of them had built a new found friendship over the past few days and the more she was around the more he learnt about her. For one he learnt that she was very affectionate. For two he learnt that he didn't mind her affection as much as he thought he would in fact, he welcomed it. He had started to see her almost as a younger sister and when he had come across her and her bullies earlier that day he had been furious and he was sure that feeling wouldn't have been any less if she wasn't Theo's girlfriend. Luna, he realised, was impossible to not love. She was pure and innocent and she saw things in a way he never could and so when she pulled him into a hug he hugged her back before kissing her temple and saying "We will, don't worry" she was Theo's girlfriend after all and he could tell that the kind of relationship the pair had was never going to be temporary. They were for keeps. He was sure Luna never did anything that would be temporary and Theo was practically family. They had grown up together, been in nappies together and played together as kids. They were practically brothers so that made Luna family too.
Even as he thought that he sighed with worry of what it would mean yet couldn't help the smile that tugged at his lips, Hermione was changing his life more than she realised.

Draco made a small show of leaving, if Madam Pomfrey overheard she would assume he was going back to his dorm for the night which is what he was hoping for, they would use the map to make sure she wasn't around when they came back and invisibility cloak to sneak back inside and drop off the books.

"Come on then Potter, let's get this over with" he said with a snarl as he felt the material of the cloak against his ankles. Harry threw the material over the head of the tall blonde before ordering him to crouch down so their feet were not showing as he pulled out the map to check if the coast was clear for them to move. Apparently at that moment there were only two patrols in the whole castle, Filch and Mrs. Norris, neither of who were anywhere near the hospital wing or the library. Because, who in Merlin's name would break into a library?!

Draco crouched down just as instructed and while Harry held the map in front of them he wordlessly lit up his wand with a Lumos spell and watched in awe as two sets of footprints with their names on them moved through the corridors. It had been a few weeks before Christmas when Hermione had let slip that Harry and Ron had a way of knowing exactly where she was in the castle and who with. He had been sceptical at first, thinking she was using it as an excuse to not see him but it quickly became obvious that this wasn't the case. When, after the Christmas Holidays were over and they were able to start up their sneaking around again, Hermione had explained in as much detail as she could about the enchanted map her best friend owned but the image Draco had had in his head for the last few months compared to what was now in front of him were two very very different things. Hermione had apparently skimped on the details, the main one being just how fantastically brilliant of an invention it actually was. When it wasn't used for cutting into their private time that is. Draco could see now how Harry, Hermione and Ron could get around the castle so easily at night so often without getting caught, the Gryffindor trio had all the tools they needed at their fingertips.

Not realising he was still staring at the parchment in front of him Draco was pulled out of his momentary shock when Harry said "I looked like you now when I first saw it too. I owe a lot to the Marauders for helping me sneak around school so much. Even into Hogsmeade a few times too" he whispered nervously.

"It goes all the way to Hogsmeade?" Draco asked in surprise as they turned down another empty corridor.

"There's a secret passageway that opens up right in the cellar of Honeydukes. Came in handy in third year when my big bad godfather was on the loose and nobody would let me out of their sight for fear he might kill me. Of course, they were wrong about him. And me I guess, I managed to get into Hogsmeade anyway. Hermione was furious at first." Harry rambled quietly.

"Yes, I seem to remember a few snowballs directed my way that year. And now that you mention it they did come from practically thin air. That is before your head was floating in front of my face" Draco answered sarcastically.

"Ah third year. Some of my best memories came from third year" Harry said almost sighing.

"Don't even think about-" Draco warned, knowing exactly where Harry was leading to with this particular trip down memory lane.

"-Tell me, did it hurt?" He asked gleefully, the light from the wand lighting up the brightness in his eyes.

Draco groaned much louder than he should have allowed himself. "Promise not to tell her?" He asked.

"Yeah, Hermione says I have to play nice so...."

"It fucking stung. Bad enough that it was a girl and it was her but who could have predicted she could throw punches like that? I still have a scar from it. After that I couldn't not admire her bravery, from afar of course. Witch is fucking nuts when she needs to be" he added as an afterthought. "Can't help thinking that will come in handy over the next year or so."

Harry said nothing and instead dwelled on the implications of Draco's last comment before he was pulled from his thoughts. "So, how did you get your hands on such a thing?" Draco asked, noticing the sudden change in mood and wanting to shift their focus to something else.

"Fred and George gave it to me in third year"

"The Weasley twins?" He asked and when Harry nodded in agreement he added "Figures. They always were mental. Even for Weasley's."

"They got it from Filch's office one day when he caught them mid prank. Snuck it out right from under his nose. Filch had had it for a few years at that point though. I'm not sure exactly how long but a decade at least."

"You know this how?" Draco asked curiously.

"Because it's only ever had three owners. Or rather, three sets of owners. The first set, the ones who created it were called Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. The Marauders. It's all on the map." Harry said with jab of his finger to the centre of the map as he checked the coast was clear to continue down another corridor. Walking in the dark was hard enough but walking in the dark with two people crouching under an invisibility cloak and giving a history lesson was much harder, though it did pass the time and they hadn't turned on one another. Yet.

"Oh. Funny names but then wizarding names can be a little out there I suppose." Draco added as he moved his wand out further to get a better view of where they were walking.

"That wasn't their real names. That was their nicknames. Moony was Remus Lupin."

"Lupin? Our defence professor from third year?" Draco asked surprised. To him the man had seemed nothing but proper, the idea that the professor who had been so bent on making sure the children were taught properly was actually making enchanted maps of the school during his years there was a little surprising. "Wow. I never expected that. Do you know who the others were?"

"I do" Harry gulped sadly. "The four of them were best friends all through school. Wormtail was Peter Pettigrew-"

"-Urgh" Draco groaned in disgust. He had met the man once in his own home and found him revolting and creepy. That added to the fact that he knew what the man had done to the Potter's made his stomach turn just at the name.

"-Padfoot is Sirius Black and Prongs was-"

"-Your father" Draco finished. He hadn't known it before but he had heard stories and knew that Sirius Black and James Potter were never seen without one another. From the way people told it he had no doubt that he was the last man on the last.

"Yeah" Harry muttered sadly.

"That's a bit crazy really. I mean your father and his friends make up this amazing map of the school and for whatever reason Filch confiscates it then years later after they've graduated two Weasley's manage to find it and yet it still ends up in your hands. Just like it should have done" Draco says marvelling in how ironic it was the way things had worked out.

"Yeah, I guess so. Just one more corridor and we're there" he replied as they started down another dark and empty corridor. Eventually they got there in one piece, the conversation keeping them from thinking every little noise was somebody about to catch them and making it easier though it still took half an hour to get there when in day light hours the trip would take no more than ten minutes. Harry double checked the library was empty before lifting the wards and unlocking the heavy doors. Both boys slipped in as quietly as possible, using a muffliato on themselves and the doors so as not to cause any disruption around the castle since doors such as these could be pretty loud then they headed straight for the restricted section just as Hermione had instructed.

Harry checked the map once more, making note to be sure nobody was even in the vicinity of the library before he pulled the cloak off of both of them and set it on a nearby table where he opened up the map to its fullest extent and laid it out with care as Draco lit a couple of lanterns. The plan was for Harry to keep watch on the map and lookout for anything suspicious while Draco searched for the book Hermione had sent them for. Since Harry knew the map better than Draco did and Draco knew books better than Harry did Hermione decided it was better this way. After ten minutes of rummaging through the worst sorted section of books he could imagine, Draco finally found what he was looking for though was rather shocked at the sheer size of it. The Ancient Book of Dark Arts; A Guide to Healing was the biggest book he had ever seen. Using a shrinking charm, he shrunk it down and put it in his pocket before remembering something Hermione had mentioned about dust, a quick flick of his wand and all the disrupted dust was back in its place, covering the books as if they hadn't been touched in months, or years. Draco signalled to Harry that he was ready and after checking it was safe to leave they blew out the lanterns and headed back to the hospital wing as quickly as they dared.

The walk back was much quieter and quicker. Draco, now used to walking under the cloak managed to pick up speed and they were back in the hospital wing in nearly half the time it had taken to get to the library, the whole thing taking them just short of an hour.
As the boys entered the hospital wing, though not before checking that Madam Pomfrey was no where to be seen, the first thing they noticed was the peaceful atmosphere in the room. They had both been expecting Hermione to be sat up waiting for the book with eager arms but what they found was a pair of witches huddled together in one bed and a still sleeping Theo in the one beside them. Draco sighed in relief at the sight, he had been worried Hermione would keep herself up all night and possibly ruin her recovery by not resting when she should be so he was happy to see that she was curled up in bed with Luna. He walked over quietly, pulled out the book and lifted the shrinking charm before charming the title so as not to alarm anyone who might happen across it then scribbled a quick note and kissed her good bye.

'I didn't want to wake you, you looked far too peaceful and I was worried you would tire yourself out by reading all night. Here's the book, everything went without a hitch and I didn't even punch Potter in the face. I'd call that a win, wouldn't you, love? I'll try and get in tomorrow around lunch, if you need me you know what to do. Love you always.'

oOoOoOo

As usual Hermione was the first to wake though she did momentarily wonder where she was and why Luna was in bed with her until she remembered the night before. For all Luna was a happy go lucky, ethereal and genuinely positive person Hermione could see the worry and sadness in her friend’s eyes and as soon as Harry and Draco had left for the library she had beckoned her blonde friend to come closer for hug. Hermione held on tight, saying, without words, that she knew and understood. Luna had spent four days worrying that one of her best friends was in a coma and now she hadn't seen her boyfriend awake in nearly a day and Hermione began to wonder just how much the small witch could take. Before she let that happened though she pulled back the covers and shifted over before telling Luna to sleep since it was clear the witch hadn't done as much for a while. Luna didn't argue with her friend and instead walked over to Theo's bed and picked up one of his t-shirts that had been sent down by the elves before undressing and slipping the t-shirt over her head and getting back into the bed, pulling the blankets up to her chin and yawning loudly before muttering how Draco was a good man and she hoped he could see that himself and maybe one day he would let her be his friend. Hermione, confused at her friends tired rambling decided to lay down when she caught the witches yawns. She had read so much that day that her whole body ached from exerting her mind so she gave in and the pair fell asleep next to one another.

Hermione lay where she had slept, letting the morning sun shine through the window and help her eyes adjust to the light, she squinted a few times before rubbing the sleep from them and sat up slowly so as not to cause any more damage to her wounds or wake her friend. She glanced to the bedside table almost instinctively, looking for the pain positions that Madam Pomfrey would leave there throughout the night and was relieved to see the usual vial waiting. Hermione reached across, picked up the vial and drank down the contents quicker than ever, apparently she had slept in a position that had aggravated the cuts on her lower abdomen causing some sort of friction that made pain shoot through her body constantly and she was desperate for some release. Sitting back for a few minutes she let the potion work its way into her system, like Theo she was taking a stronger pain potion than was usual, her wounds being the result of dark-ish magic meant a regular pain potion just wouldn't cut it.
It didn't take long for the throbbing, pulsing, white hot pains to die down to dull ache, though it never did for very long, that's when Hermione found Draco's note. She picked it up gingerly and read it over a couple of times before she pulled the book closer to check they hadn't messed that part up and gotten her the wrong one. The title confused her at first, it certainly looked like the book she had sent them for but since it had a completely different name she was a little sceptical but upon opening realised Draco must have spelled the cover to change in case any adults would see. Clever, she thought before putting the note inside and closing it again.

It had dawned on Hermione just before she fell asleep that there was another book she hadn't looked in yet, a book that she carried around everywhere and had in her school bag. The book Draco had given her for Christmas 'The Ancient Book of Healing Spells and Potions' from the Malfoy family library. In the months since Draco had gifted her this piece of his family history then manipulated her to keep, Hermione had spent most of her free time pouring over it. She was sure she knew it back to front and as far as she knew there was no mention of dark arts or how to heal such magic but just in case, she wanted to give it another go so, with her wand she levitated her bag to the bed and pulled out the worn book before settling back and flipping through.

About an hour later, and even though she hadn't been all that hopeful, Hermione lightly threw the book down to the end of the bed in frustration. While she had found and revisited many fascinating spells and potions nothing she had come across would even come close to healing Theo's leg or his migraines though why she was so frustrated she didn't know, it's not like she had expected to find anything. In fact, she was pretty sure she wouldn't even before she opened it.

"Hey, now what did that book ever do to you?" She heard a rough voice from the next bed.

Hermione turned to see Theo, it had been twenty-four hours since she had looked at him and he wasn't sleeping and longer since, since his eyes held life behind them rather than the exhaustion that had been there not a day before. "Theo" she beamed at him, not even caring how loud she spoke. "You're awake?!"

"Either that or this is a dream. And I have to say, if that's the case it's a very poor dream at that." He said as he sat up to see her better. "How long was I out?"

"It's been a day"

"A full day? I'm surprised the headaches stayed away long enough" he commented.

"Well honestly I'm not sure they did. Madam Pomfrey gave you regular pain potions to keep you asleep until the sleeping draught wore off" Hermione explained.

"That makes sense. I think they've both started to wear off though" Theo said as he brought his hand to his temple and winced slightly. "The light doesn't help" he added.

"I'm sorry"

"Don't be. It's not your fault. It is what it is."

"I know but I still am. How is your leg anyway?"

"The same unfortunately and my other leg keeps getting pins and needles too. I've been in this bed too long I think"

Hermione bit her bottom lip worriedly at his admission, pins and needles were an early sign of loss of feelings. If they didn't do this soon and fast, he might lose the feeling in both of his legs. She was officially, completely, worried now.

"Hmm I know the feeling" she answered trying to keep her face straight. She wasn't ready to explain what she thought she knew just yet and in all honestly she wasn't sure he was ready to hear it yet either.

Theo sat up and looked closer towards Hermione's bed and, just as she was about to fess up that she knew something he asked "Is my girlfriend in your bed?" With a raised brow and look of pure curiosity on his face. Hermione looked back at the still sleeping witch and smiled a small smile before turning to Theo again. "She is. She was tired. I'm pretty sure she hadn't slept for days. She's been really worried about you."

"I've missed her" he sighed wistfully. "It's crazy, I know it is. We've only been together since Valentine's but I just...when she's here I feel complete you know? Like I'm whole. And when she's not here it's like there's an empty space that sits on my chest and the longer she’s gone the heavier it gets. It's ridiculous but true. When I first met her I felt like I'd found the missing piece of myself that I didn't even realise was missing. She just completes me and it terrifies me." Theo rambled as he stared at the sleeping body behind Hermione.

"Why?" Hermione asked quietly.

"Huh?" He asked, still in a daze.

"Why does it terrify you?"

"Because it's so soon and I don't want to scare her away. Because she probably doesn't feel the same way. Because I can't lose her." He answers honestly.

"You won't lose her"

"How do you know that?"

"Because she loves you. She adores you. She feels the same way you do. Trust me."

"I'm not sure I can believe that I just...why would she? What have I got to offer her?"

"Don't do this Theo, you're a good man, okay? You're in a crappy situation but you're a good man." She insists before the sounds of Luna waking up stop her in her tracks, this wasn't a conversation for her. Not yet anyway. "Hey, you sleep well?" Hermione asked as Luna stretched and sat up.

"Much better, thank you Hermione" Luna replied in her usual fae-like voice that made Hermione wonder how on earth she could still sound so beautiful and serene even while waking up.

"Hey baby" Theo called with a grin on his face a mile wide. "What are you doing all the way over there?"

"Theo?!" Luna shrieked before jumping out of Hermione's bed and running to his, not even caring that all she had on was one of his shirts and nothing else.

When the small blonde witch reached his bed Theo recognised his shirt immediately and taking in her long, bare, creamy legs he groaned in obvious frustration that told Hermione that even though his leg was useless he wasn't completely numb from the waist down. Theo moved over enough to let her in and once she was within reaching distance grabbed her hands in his before kissing her knuckles lightly "I've missed you" he almost whispered whilst trying to not look and her and yet commit the image of her right there in his bed with barely anything on but a shirt of his in his memory simultaneously. Luna responded by kissing her wizard full on the mouth, she really wasn't one for all the pureblood nonsense but did find it endearing when he would try it with her because it was all he knew. Thought he wasn't exactly the perfect pureblood son, for instance he was kissing her back right now as though he may never let her go and when loss of air forced them apart a couple of minutes later he leaned his forehead on hers and peppered light kisses all around her face, ears, neck, shoulder and collarbone without sparing a thought that Hermione could see and hear everything. "I've really missed you" he repeated as he pulled her bottom lip between his own and traced his fingers up her arms.

"I've missed you too" Luna sighed happily as she laced their fingers together and dropped their hands to her lap. Theo groaned again at the slight touch of her naked thighs on the back of his hand and when Luna asked what was wrong he struggled to explain himself. "What's wrong?" She had asked in concern. He could tell she was worried he was in pain and, truth be told he was, despite the pain potion he had found next to his bed.

"Nothing. It's nothing." He said as he pulled her body closer.

"Tell me" she implored and looked at him with her wide innocent eyes that he just couldn't refuse.

"Urgh. Fine. It's you okay? You're just so fucking beautiful and you're in my bed wearing nothing but my shirt and I've missed you and I just..I want you okay?" He growled at her before pulling their laced fingers to her legs and running one lightly over the skin on her thighs "and Merlin, your legs are fucking amazing and you drive me wild. Is that what you wanted to hear?" He asks as he still traces her thighs, noting with delight, the goosebumps that have appeared and the small shudder that runs through her body.

"Maybe" she said then smirked "would you like your shirt back? I'll take it off now if you like"

"Baby, please" he almost begs, needing her to stop.

Luna laughs lightly before pulling him in for another hug and whispering in his ear "you drive me wild too, you know"

It's not long after that that Hermione has to remind the pair that she is still there and even if she closes her eyes she can still hear everything they're saying and doing though it really had no effect on them at all but thankfully Luna didn't have much longer until she had to excuse herself back to her dorm for a quick shower and change of clothes before breakfast while leaving Theo praying for a cold shower to relive himself of the burden aching in his groin.

 

With Luna gone Hermione sent Draco a message through their charmed coins, hoping that he was already awake 'Got the book, thank you. Theo's awake now too. See you later. Love you'

Barely a minute later her answer to whether he was awake came in the form of a reply. 'Great, just don't tell him anything yet. We don't know for certain and it might be best that you find the spell first, love. See you later' it read. Hermione smiled at the words that appeared, to the naked eye, engraved in the coin before they vanished from her sight, like she would be stupid enough to tell Theo what she thought, yet.

Breakfast was served simultaneously with the great hall as usual and Hermione left the monster book to the side until after she had eaten, knowing that the Mediwitch liked to check on the patients after the plates had been banished. Once Madam Pomfrey had done her rounds as expected, filling both Hermione and Theo with a bunch more potions and finally letting Hermione apply the salves to her wounds herself she excused herself back to her office muttering about inept healers after a long and sorry looking glance at Theo.

"That was a bit weird" Theo said as soon as she was out of sight.

Hermione pretended she hadn't noticed anything at all, deciding it was probably best lest Theo figure out she knew more than she was letting on and after feigning ignorance to what he was talking about lay back, ready to delve into the book that she prayed to Circe would have something that would help him.

 

oOoOoOo

 

The problem was the book was quite big. In fact, it was so big Hermione had trouble even picking it up. And it was old too. So old that many pages needed translating as they were written in Ancient Runes or Theban. Hermione first focused on the easier pages, those that were written in some form of English; that way she could get through a larger portion faster but even then it was a time consuming task that took her well into lunch time.

As lunch time came she decided to give her eyes a rest, a pain potion a couple of hours earlier had kept a brewing headache at bay and her cuts from causing too much discomfort but her stomach rumbled and her eyes were growing tired so she gave in for a while, putting the book to one side as the elves, predictably, sent up their food.
Hermione and Theo were deep in conversation about their homework assignment when a knock to the doors alerted them there were students outside, apparently the wards were still intact. The pair called Madam Pomfrey who took one look at whoever was behind the door and another to her patients before turning back to the visitors, sighing and waving her wand to allow them access. Hermione was shocked to see Daphne Greengrass and Blaise walk in behind the Mediwitch, a small parcel in Daphne's hands with a bow on it that was very carefully wrapped. Her eyes met Blaise's briefly, one look into that muddy green stare told her Daphne had no clue about, well, anything. So she turned her body back to her own bed and offered them both a small smile, shocked when Daphne smiled back at her and accompanied that with "Hermione I really hope you're okay" that Hermione herself was sure was the sincerest thing she had heard all day. She couldn't fathom why the beautiful blonde was being nice to her. Sure, they'd never actually spoken and yes, her rivalries had always been towards Draco and his idiot sidekicks but even still she was a Gryffindor and Daphne was a Slytherin who was also a pureblood (if Hermione remembered correctly) she would have been raised to hate Gryffindor's yet here she was smiling with sincerity and speaking to her with honesty practically dripping from her words.

"Not really but I'm sure I'll get there" she replied back, her mind numb in what else she could say.

"I'm glad" the blonde smiled as she took a seat next to Theo's so that she was facing both patients. "And thank you, for looking after my cousin. I heard what you did."

"If by that you mean fall to pieces and assume he was dead then trust me, no thanks are needed." Hermione replied glumly.

"Don't be so modest." Daphne replied before turning her attention to her cousin.

"Daph what are you doing here?" Theo asked as he let the girl hug him. Besides Draco, Daphne was Theo's closest friend and ally, they were cousins and grew up together and despite there being almost a year age difference the pair had still attended Hogwarts together and kept their close relationship growing strong.

"Mum sent you this. She wasn't sure you were getting your Owls so sent it through me" she answered after kissing his cheek as she passed the wrapped parcel to him.

"This better be some of her brownies" he said as he licked his lips at the thought.

Daphne scoffed loudly "You know it is you idiot. She always sends brownies when her little solider is sick doesn't she?" She mocked him.

"Piss off" Theo shot back though there was no malice behind it. This was purely two cousins being cousins.

Blaise took the seat in between Hermione's and Theo's beds before throwing a rolled up Daily Prophet at him. "I don't have any brownies to give you mate so I brought this instead. There's a nice little chapter in there all about the trouble you lot got into on Friday" he half joked before moving to take the still wrapped box out of Theo's hands.

"Don't think so" Theo laughed as he put the box on a table behind Daphne, out of Blaise's reach. "You're not back with this tosser, are you?" He asked her.

"What? Gods no! After what Pansy told me she saw. No. Thank. You. Never again." She answered in disgust and Hermione noticed the girls face was as sickened has her words.

"Good. You can do better. Is Willow still in Italy then?"

"Yeah she is" Daphne answered sadly "She's really sorry she can't be here. She was furious your dad didn't tell her what happened but there's nothing new there is there? She really wanted to come but-"

"I know. Can you just tell her I'm okay and not to worry? You know how she worries"

Hermione tuned the conversation out after that and returned to her now cold meal before the doors opened once more and Draco walked in. Since Hermione's bed was the closest to the doors of the hospital wing the first thing her boyfriend saw was her and without looking around the room to be sure nobody would see he started heading towards her bed, a smile on his face that only she could get out of him. Hermione started to panic, trying to think of how to stop him from doing what he was about to do when Blaise managed to save them from a really awkward situation. "Three visitors in one go Theo" he said loudly "I didn't realise so many people cared, did you Daph?"

Draco stopped in his tracks instantly and turned his focus towards his dark skinned friend where he sat, at Theo's bedside with Daphne across from him and he groaned frustrated, the smile falling from his face as he trudged over to Theo's bed under the guise that yes he had come to visit his best friend and no, not the Gryffindor Princess.
Luckily he didn't have to keep the façade up for very long since both Daphne and Blaise had visited before they had gone down to the great hall so when the pair left a few minutes later he let out a sigh of relief and almost floated towards Hermione's bed where he gave her his usual kiss hello and the three of them spent the rest of the lunch hour talking about nonsense, Draco and Hermione making sure to steer well clearly of any topics relating to Theo's leg.

When Draco followed Blaise and Daphne a half an hour later as lunch came to a close Hermione once again pulled out the book from the restricted section though this time focusing on the Runes, also pulled out her translator books. While she knew most of the Runes off the top of her head now was certainly not the time for mistakes so she decided she would double check her translations but only focus on spell or potion titles for now to see if anything jumped out at her.

Hours later after dinner had been and gone Hermione was starting to lose hope of ever finding anything helpful when, in an out of character bout of frustration she threw the book. Or rather, since the book was so big and heavy she tried to throw it. The only thing she accomplished however was the pages turning. As she slowly shifted down the bed to reach the book because, she was Hermione Granger after all and she didn't treat books like that. Especially not rare, ancient books that were not even hers to throw around to begin with.
Using all her effort to pull the book back Hermione noticed the page that had fallen open and stared curiously, it was written in Theban, an ancient language that derived from witches and wizards in the 12th century. A language Hermione could read fluently. As she pulled the book closer she noticed the title, which roughly translated into 'How to exorcise dark magic from a living being' this of course piqued her interest and she began to read on with new found patience. With every line she read her eyes grew wider, with every paragraph her heart beat faster. The more she went on the surer she was that this was what she had been looking for. Her hands shaking with anticipation she turned the pages slowly, deliberately and carefully, careful not to cause any slight damage to the parchment for fear she might miss something.
When she had read the entire way through the text not once, not twice and not even three times but five; Hermione closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she let all of the information in her brain settle down into a little box so she was able to think.

One thing was very clear; the only way to save Theo's leg, rid him of the dark magic that was manifesting inside of him, and completely heal him (besides his head of course) was with this spell. But, like all spells that messed with dark magic, it would come at a price. This one had requirements and a lot of them. Overall it was love magic, something that filled Hermione will hope and dread simultaneously. She knew Theo. She knew a diluted version of his life and childhood. She knew he had issues with love. This was going to be complicated she thought to herself with a sigh. As she went over the list of requirements a few more times, familiarising herself with as much detail as she could Hermione sent a message to Draco urging him to have Luna, Daphne, Blaise and Harry at the hospital wing after Harry's detention before she went back and started to learn the spell. There was no such thing as being too prepared as far as she was concerned.

Chapter Text

Just as Hermione had expected her to, Madam Pomfrey excused herself for the night after her midnight rounds of administering potions and doing her usual checkups.
She sat in her bed with the book in her lap, taking the last few precious minutes she had to read the spell through as much as she could while trying to convince herself that this was not the most ludicrous thing she had even done. Which, to be fair to herself, wasn't hard since she had done some pretty crazy things since coming to Hogwarts six years ago, all them involving Harry and Ron to some degree. She had never delved into a magic such as this before though. Sure, she had healed minor ailments in the past. Small Quidditch injuries were the main thing her friends came to her for, anything of a larger magnitude she would send them to the hospital wing, refusing to mess around with magic she ought not to know, though she did, of course.

As she began to bite her nails anxiously before casting a tempus charm, unable to hide her worries; she heard Theo's voice break through the equal measure of constant repeating of information and stress that was going through her head.

"Is everything okay over there?" He asked in concern.

Hermione turned her head to face him, his words taking a moment or so to register. "What? Oh, yeah. Yeah I'm fine." She said trying to wave him off as if it was nothing.

"You're not fine Hermione. We've been here nearly a week now; I can tell when something is on your mind. You know something that for some reason you're not telling me." He replied sternly.

"How did you?-"

"It was pretty obvious this morning. You tried not to show it but your eyes betrayed you, really. You couldn't even look at me properly without them shinning with sadness. So yeah, it was pretty obvious."

"It's...do you..could you trust me? I'll explain everything soon but-"

"Of course I trust you, why do you think I never mentioned it right away? I figured you had a good reason. But now I'm worried"

"We'll fix this. Try not to worry, it's not good for your head"

"Hermione, I'm not worried about me" he sighed "I'm worried about you"

"I-I'll be okay. Worrying is what I do" Hermione replied with a forced smile.

"I know you do and it's endearing, sometimes." He answered back before looking around his bed frantically for something that would help change the subject. "Do you want a brownie? My auntie, Daphne's mum made them, they're really good" he said as he offered her the now unwrapped box.

The pair sat in silence, eating the chocolatey goodness that were, as Theo had said, good. In fact, they were the tastiest chocolate treat Hermione had tried in years. The loud, unsuspecting groan that illicitated from the back of her throat was testament to that.
Sometime later when they were making small talk and still chewing on the delicious goodness through the tense atmosphere Draco arrived just as she had asked with Luna, Daphne, Blaise and Harry trailing in behind him.

"Ah the cavalry has arrived. I did wonder why we didn't see any of you after dinner" Theo said as he eyed the five of them. Daphne and Blaise he noticed seemed slightly confused while the other three looked nearly as nervous as Hermione did. Even Potter. Harry bloody Potter was nervous about something that concerned him. Him, Theodore Nott, son of a death eater. That was when it dawned on Theo that things were definitely much worse than he had imagined. Of course he had known something was up all day, he had said as much to Hermione. He had watched her read book after book, obsessively, meticulously, neurotically. Even for her. He had watched as she bit her nails to the bed, push her food around her plate and throw books in frustration. Every time he tried to make conversation she would deflect him. When Madam Pomfrey and muttered about incapable healers he had noticed her visibly stiffen and since the morning she hadn't once looked him in the eye. He had known something was wrong. He could see it in her eyes, in her body language but more than that he could feel it in his every fibre. He knew something was wrong, he just didn't know what or how bad. It was obvious now, with their friends, partners and even his cousin stood before him that Hermione knew and what she knew couldn't be good. He felt a spark of dread grow alarmingly fast in the pit of his stomach and before he had the chance to lose his nerve he asked "So, are you finally going to tell me what you think is wrong with my leg?" With what he hoped was a smirk and not a nervous almost frown.

Draco stood in the centre of the five as Luna excused herself and went to sit in Theo's bed, taking his hand in her's and entwining their fingers, squeezing gently in the hopes he would feel some form of comfort. Draco gulped, loud enough that everyone in the room could hear and began to scratch the back of his neck in a bout of nervous habit.

Theo gave up on getting anything out of the man, they had been best friends since they were babies and after nearly seventeen years he could tell when he was going to get a coherent sentence out of his best friend so he turned to the only person he knew would be able to let her mouth run in nervous anxiety. Hermione. He looked at her as she sat in the bed beside him, her twisting her hands in her lap and staring at the floor. "Hermione?" He asked tentatively. She raised her head slowly, her eyes lidded with exhaustion and something else he couldn't quite place but was sure was he saw a flash of distress in her amber gaze. "Please?" He almost begged softly, not letting her look away as their eyes stayed connected.

Hermione gave a small sniffle before a deep sigh and everyone in the room could see the exact moment she mustered up her Gryffindor courage. "Okay. Fine. Everyone sit down. Harry, I need to know where Madam Pomfrey is. This is going to take a while" she said as she wordlessly pulled out three chairs and directed them to their counterparts, knowing Draco would only sit on her bed anyway. After Harry checked the map, which raised a few questions from those in the room who had never seen or heard of such a thing, and declared that Madam Pomfrey was in her own quarters and looked to be sleeping, though of course he could never be entirely sure as she could just be sat down. Hermione instructed he keep a close watch on the Mediwitch while she told the rest of the group of her suspicions.

As she knew he would Draco sat at the end of her bed, or rather, he leaned against it. So far Daphne, the only person in the room who didn't know of the pairs relationship, hadn't picked up on anything between them. Or at least, she hadn't outright said if she had, Purebloods were strange creatures and Hermione made a note of not underestimating her lest she get burned.

"Where do I start?" She mumbled to herself.

"Friday is probably best, Daph doesn't know the real story of what happened" Draco answered without looking at her.

Hermione, with the help of Draco when her memory failed her, retold the story of how she was cursed and Theo lost the feelings in his leg nearly a week prior. Previously it had taken Draco and Theo a good twenty minutes to get through it but now they didn't have the luxury of time on their side. They explained as quickly and as effectively as they could, adding in as much detail as they could remember.
Of course the story had prompted some questions and even if it hadn't the ease in which Draco and Hermione were conversing, the fact that he was leaning -no sitting now- on the witches bed as though he had done it a thousand times before and that moment when he had reached out and put a hand on her shoulder in support had Daphne's head reeling so the pair had no choice but to fess up. The blonde girl’s eyes almost popped out of her head when she found out that the unlikely pair had been seeing each other near enough since the start of the school year and she swooned at them comparing them to a modern Romeo and Juliet before Hermione had to remind her that they both died after a three-day relationship where so many people were killed they lost count. Daphne waved her off and promised she would keep their 'dirty little secret' with a smirk on her face before announcing she thought Hermione was going to make a new best friend.

Conversation quickly turned back to Theo and his leg when Harry scared them all with a false alarm when he thought Madam Pomfrey was on the move. Apparently their Mediwitch had a familiar who he thought must have been on her lap as their dots had both blended into one, the map reading off the bigger living being and magical signature.

"So the leg" she began hastily as she took Draco's hand in her own. Hermione shifted as close to the edge of the bed as possible to get closer to Theo but when the bars stopped her she instructed Draco to set them down before swinging her legs over the side of the bed, the most movement she had done in nearly a week. She was weak of course but that never stopped her. Draco sat back down next to her as she held her hand out towards Theo, the younger man didn't hesitate to take it, entwining their fingers much like he had with Luna. "St Mungo's sent a healer by yesterday" she started before explaining to him what she had heard, what she had researched in the books from the healing section and what the healer had tried to do to help.

Theo wasn't shocked, he vaguely remembered a mention of the healers and had already put two together to realise that they had been and since his leg wasn't better he was pretty positive they hadn't been able to fix anything. He nodded his head encouragingly as he listened to her talk.

"When the healer was leaving he made a comment that got me thinking. He mentioned that he would only expect this sort of thing in dark magic" Hermione explained carefully. When Theo didn't react except for a small nod telling her to carry on she felt part of her nerves lift. He wasn't questioning her; he wasn't calling her crazy. He was listening to her.

After she had finished explaining everything she had told Draco and Harry plus thrown in the parts about the books and the unlikely duos midnight stroll through the castle the previous night she sat and looked at him, searching for a reaction. When all he said was "I take it you found something that might help?" She nearly burst into tears at how easily he accepted it. How easily he was trusting her.

This was the part that nobody else but herself knew. This was where it started to get complicated. Dark magic was the worst kind of magic and healing such was never going to be easy.

"I think I have" she said as her eyes shined with unshed tears. "But it's complicated. Very complicated. And there are requirements. You can't just heal dark magic like you would a normal injury. It's different. It's calculated, it's out of control and it's more often than not, absolutely ridiculous."

"What ridiculousness do we need?" He asked.

"First, I'm not going to carry on any of this conversation until you agree that this is what you want to do. You have options Theodore and if you don't want to try it I understand."

"What do we need?" Theo repeated.

"Did you not hear what I just said? You need to-"

"Understand. Have options. Blah blah blah. Yeah I know. And this is me consenting. What do we need?" He asked more firmly.

Hermione sighed again and nobody was sure if it was in relief that he had agreed, frustration at him being a prat or anxious over the spell. She pulled her hands free from both men, Draco having retook her other some time through her narrative, and used as much energy as she could muster to pull the 'Ancient Book of Dark Arts; A Guide to Healing' book closer. Opening it where she had left the book mark earlier that evening. "There's a spell, the title is what caught my eye. You're all welcome to read through it if you wish although it is written in Theban" she said as she cast her eyes across everyone in the room. When nobody made a move she carried on "It’s called 'Haeland Gefreogan' which basically translates to 'heal with love'. It's a love magic spell, or white magic if you prefer."

"It sounds promising" Draco encouraged. "Go on, what are the requirements?"

Hermione flipped through the pages quickly, letting her eyes skim over the text so she could check, for the umpteenth time that she hadn't missed anything or read it wrong. "It's pretty straight forward, all things considered. We need two people who are related on a sibling or parent level or who love the wounded person. I'm talking unconditional, irrevocable, unlimited, whole hearted, love. Or a mixture of the two would do it." She answered as she tried to emphasis just how much love was needed for a spell of this magnitude. "There's also another catch" she added before giving them the chance to completely comprehend what she was saying.

"Of course there is" Theo muttered.

Hermione ignored him and carried on "the person being healed" she said turning to look at Theo again "needs to love the healers back. Again, unconditionally."

"That seems pretty easy" Harry added from where he was still watching the map.

"In theory it is" she replied.

"What do you mean, in theory?" He asked curiously.

"Theo is an only child" she sighed.

"And his mum passed away years ago" Daphne added as she moved closer to her cousin. "His father is, well, you know"

"Unfortunately I've had the pleasure" Harry grimaced. "So, family is out. We need two people who love you unconditionally then" he said to Theo with a determined smile.

"Theo, who do you love most in this world who loves you back, unconditionally." Hermione asked, ignoring how strange such a question sounded. It was as if she was talking to a toddler trying to get them to shout 'you mummy, I love you the mostest'.

"My auntie Willow. She's always been there for me, treats me like I'm her own son. She was my mums twin so they were pretty close too. She looks out for me where she can. She’s like my second mother." He answered wistfully.

Hermione sighed, this is what she had been worried about when she read the spell requirements. "But she's in Italy. We don't have that sort of time; your good leg is already showing signs of losing its feelings. If we don't do this soon I'm worried it might become too late. The dark magic is just manifesting. We need someone else."

"Fine. Draco is like a brother to me and...and Daphne" he answered as he looked across everyone in the room but avoiding Luna.

Hermione sensed his hesitation, she could tell Theo loved Luna and had purposely excluded her but she understood his apprehension; it was so soon and they were in a room full of people. Admitting you love your girlfriend after less than three weeks of being a couple was pretty scary.

Draco and Daphne stood up, wands at the ready as Luna kissed Theo good luck. Hermione instructed them both on how the spell should be properly cast and made them repeat the movements and incantations until she was sure they knew what they were doing.
Not sure what they expect she had Harry, Luna and Blaise stand as far back as they could as she sat back in her bed a little further. On her count of three, as instructed, Draco and Daphne simultaneously shouted "Haeland Gefreogan".
For all intents and purposes it looked like the spell had worked. A jet or brilliant white light was emanating from each of their wands and aiming at Theo's heart just like she had told them to but on closer examination they found nothing had changed.

Hermione got frustrated, of course it was never going to be so easy as the have the spell work on the first go. Of bloody course! Next she instructed Blaise to take Draco's place, this was why she had called them all down after all. It was always a good idea to have a backup plan. Blaise and Daphne cast the spell perfectly, not a thing out of place, the white jets indicating the spell had worked once again jetted from their wands. She huffed and switched Daphne with Draco.
Again the same thing happened. Apparently third time was not the charm for them tonight.

"Well obviously you just don't love me enough" Theo said with a laugh that suggested he wasn't entirely joking.

"Of course I do you fucking idiot. You just don't love me back!" Draco shouted back.

"Don't even start Draco, you know I love you. We've been together since we were kids. We spend every day together, you're my best friend. Of course I fucking love you."

"Well it's not enough is it?!" Draco hissed. "Clearly I'm not fucking good enough for you."

"It's not my fault the spell isn't working don't blame me! I never said you wasn't bloody good enough did I?" Theo growled back.

"Ah hem" Hermione said, clearly trying to make herself known and have both boys remember they were not alone in the room even if their argument had been a little bit funny. The thought of some poor unsuspecting soul wandering by and hearing them in the heat of the moment would put a smile on her face for years to come.
Both boys immediately turned to look at her, matching looks of shock and horror written on their faces and she tried not to giggle at the ridiculousness of it considering how important the task in front of them was. "How about we try someone else?" She suggested. "I think you need a break love" she added to Draco.

Draco took her advice and sat back down on the bed, his wand discarded somewhere in the blankets he rubbed his hands down his face as if he could wipe away the stress.

"Who?" Theo asked.

"Luna, would you mind taking Draco's place?" She asked in a voice not unlike that of McGonagall's.

"Hermione." Theo said warningly.

Hermione and Luna both ignored him and Luna stepped forward, wand in hand, ready. "Certainly" she answered as her and Blaise raised their wands just as had been done previously. This time though when they said the enchantment Blaise's wand didn't react at all. There was no jet of light or vibrations coming from the wood. It was just.. nothing. They tried again. And again. But apparently Blaise had either really poor timing skills or his wand waving was off point. Luna's however were perfect.

Hermione sighed, becoming increasingly exasperated at the situation before carefully stepping down off the bed. Holding on to the mattress she slid herself down to the floor slowly, ignoring the pain that shot through every nerve at the sudden movement. When her feet finally touched the floor her knees nearly buckled under her and had Draco not been fast enough in his reflexes to hold her up they probably would have. After a few moments to gather herself, Hermione took a very wobbly and unsure step towards Theo's bed, turned to Blaise and said "I'll show you how it's done."

The dark skinned man had the good grace to back up a few steps, he'd seen the witch throw a punch after all.

"On the count of three Luna" she said as she looked across to her blonde friend with an encouraging smile before they both held their wands straight to Theo's chest.

"One" she started to feel more nervous, more light headed.

"Two" why was it so hot in here? What would happen if we couldn't get the spell to work? She thought to herself.

"Three" I hope I'm right about Luna but who else should we try, maybe Draco and Luna would be the perfect match? She mused as the countdown came to an end.

"Haeland Gefreogan" both girls called out in perfect unison.

Their wand movements were precise and exact, the wands never wavering from their positions, their speech had been clear and deliberate and white sparks had shot out of both of their wands just as Hermione had expected.

What nobody expected though was for the two jets of light to meet, just before reaching Theo and turning a beautiful shade of gold before touching his chest right across where his heart lay. What they never expected was the force of the spell that made both girls' bodies tremble and sweat as they held their wands in vice like grips. They never expected to feel the magic literally coursing through their veins, right through to their wands and into Theo. They never expected to feel his magic. His wonderful, beautiful magic that was filled with love and hope. They never expected to feel each other's magic. Hermione felt Luna's magic flowing through her as a fairy would dance in a meadow. Free and innocent.

The spell held for two whole minutes, exertion pouring through their bodies from their fingertips to their toes while their friends watched on in mute shock.
When it finally broke Hermione, unable to hold herself up any long, collapsed in a heap on the floor as Draco rushed to her side.
For what felt like forever nobody said a word, too stunned, too mesmerised to comprehend what had just happened enough for their mouths and brain to work.

"Did...did it work?" Hermione asked weakly, all eyes on her as Draco helped her up.

Everyone turned to look at Theo who in turn was staring at Luna like he had never seen her before both the realisation and impact of what it meant for her to heal him hit him. "I love you" he whispered hoarsely.

Luna looked up at her boyfriend, "I know" she replied with a smile before running the last few steps to his bed and throwing herself in his arms.
Theo was lost in his feelings for Luna, not hearing Hermione's question when out of nowhere he felt a sharp smack against his leg.

"Ow! What the fuck Daph?" He shouted when he looked up and saw his cousin beaming at him.

"I'd say that's a yes, Hermione" she smiled at the witch.

"What's a yes?" Theo asked, his mind trying to catch up.

Daphne smacked him again "This" she said with glee.

"Seriously Daphne, my bloody leg!" He growled before realisation dawned on him. "My leg? Holy fuck, I can feel it? It worked? I mean, it looked like it worked and felt like it worked but..." He trailed off as he removed the orange brace surrounding the leg in question.

Theo threw the brace across the room and bent his leg at the knee, letting out a low grown of appreciation at the feel of being able to move his joints again but he swung them over the side ready to stand up.

"Woah there Nott, maybe you shouldn't stand so fast" Harry said as he took an instinctive step forward when he noticed the other man’s off balanced movements.

"I'm fine" Theo insisted before copying Hermione's movements not five minutes earlier and tentatively put his feet on solid ground. When he was sure he could take a few steps - the spell had worked tremendously but he was weak and tired, it had been a long day- Theo moved slowly but surely as everyone watched. He made his way towards Hermione and gently took her out of Draco's grip before pulling her to his chest and holding on as tight as he dared, remembering that she still had unsealed wounds of her own. "Hermione. Hermione. Hermione" he repeated, his voice dripping with emotion. "Thank you. You're bloody brilliant you know that? You really are the brightest witch of our age" he sighed as he kissed the top of her head.

Hermione sniffed happily into his pajama top, thanking Godric it had worked before saying "Don't thank me Theo, you had to love me back for the spell to work" she reminded him.

"I did. And I do." He said with another kiss.

"Do you think you could stop crying all over other men, love?" Draco joked as he tried to lighten the atmosphere into something less serious. Everybody laughed and Theo passed her back after another kiss to the head before Luna was back in his arms and he sighed in relief as if her physical absence was painful no matter how brief.

The seven teenagers stood awkwardly in a circle, Hermione, Theo and Luna all weak from the power of the spell were yawning. "Do you need another pain potion?" Draco asked Hermione as she curled up on her bed.

"No. You know, it's funny, I can't feel any pain there at all now. Maybe I'm just too tired" she answered sleepily.

"Maybe. You haven't done any damage though have you? That was a pretty big spell" he asked worriedly.

Hermione pulled up her t-shirt just enough so that the bottom two scars which were no longer covered in bandages, were visible. "See, nothing's wrong" she said to Draco without looking.

Draco's eyes fluttered down to her bare abdomen and nearly popped out of his head, from somewhere behind him he heard someone mutter 'Mother of magic' but couldn't pinpoint who it was. "Errr Hermione, Love? I think you need to see them for yourself" he stammered.

Hermione's brows crinkled in confusion but she heeded his advice and looked down anyway. What she saw shocked her. Her wounds were healed and in their place were smooth pink scars that looked to be around a year old and not as fresh as they had been. Hermione stared in shock as she ran her fingers over each of the two scars before pulling down the neck of her shirt to see if the others had healed. They had. She sat there staring in awe. No wonder she wasn't in pain anymore she realised. "Wow" she muttered, lost for words.

"It was the spell" Luna piped up a few seconds later. "I felt you accept my magic and then I felt yours. And Theo's. The magic didn't just heal him it healed you too." She explained with a smile as she sat on Theo's knee one hand running through his hair.

"I-I guess that makes sense. I just wasn't expecting it" she replied in shock.

For the next fifteen minutes the group discussed what had happened and the spell, Theo's leg, Hermione's scars, declarations of love and, most of of all, the not quite lovers spat between Draco and Theo that had everyone laughing. Hermione had vowed to put that memory in a vial for a rainy day and had aptly renamed them an old married couple to which everyone laughed and agreed.

Blaise pulled out a bottle of Firewhiskey and transfigured seven glasses before pouring them each a healthy sized drink. "There's so much we could drink to I don't know where to start" he said with a smile.

"To love?" Hermione, Daphne and Luna chimed together.

"To love" the boys agreed with a raise of the glasses before they all swallowed down the burning liquid.

Not long after that Hermione was kicking everyone out, Luna was as exhausted as she and Theo were and even though Madam Pomfrey had been quite accommodating the past few days she was sure the Mediwitch wouldn't be impressed that a student who hadn't been there at all when she did her nightly rounds was now tucked up in bed with her boyfriend who was now injury free, or, well, nearly injury free since he still had headaches.

The five of them said their goodbyes, Hermione was shocked when Daphne pulled her in to a tight hug and thanked her for saving her cousin and whispered "I was serious earlier you know, me and you are going to become good friends, I can feel it" before she pulled away.

Harry gave his usual hug and kiss to Hermione's temple before turning to Theo and saying "I'm really glad this all worked out. I'm just sorry it ever had to happen in the first place." With a sincere smile. Theo told him not to worry about it and Harry stepped back and waited for the rest of the crowd. Draco and Luna said their regular goodbyes with Blaise shouting his from the double doors. Just as everyone left with Luna taking up the rear, she turned back, looked Theo in the eye and said "by the way, just so you know, because I know you want to hear it, I love you too" and after a quick kiss blown his way she was gone and they were finally left alone.

Hermione and Theo stared at the door, listening to their group of friends' footsteps get quieter and quieter as they retreated down the hall. Once they could no longer hear them they turned back and faced each other, matching smiles on their faces as Hermione yawned loudly.

"Long night?" Theo chuckled.

"Long day and night. Too busy being all Gryffindor and saving your life. You know after the sorting the first thing they teach us is how to save lives" she joked back.

"I figured. Even in first year you were off saving some damn stone" he said with a roll of his eyes. "Go to sleep 'Mione. We've got some explaining to do to Pomfrey in the morning" Theo said as he got back into his bed and waved his wand to dim the lanterns before taking the pain potion from his bedside table and taking it to ease the migraine that had intensified from exerting himself with Hermione's healing spell.

Hermione lay back, unable to worry about how they would explain any of it since she was far too tired and happy for any other emotions to creep in. "Goodnight Theo" she whispered and she snuggled down into the blankets closing her eyes.

"Night love" he answered back as he closed his own eyes.

Chapter Text

Hermione and Theo both had to be forced awake with a sonorous charm the next morning when breakfast was served and they still hadn't risen, their bodies having been completely exhausted the night before.

Madam Pomfrey couldn't have looked the patients over herself, opting to send the regular potions over with a levitating charm instead since had she seen either patient she would have likely had something to say about their sleeping positions. Hermione was curled up in a ball, taking no care at all -since none was now needed- to keep as still as possible so as not to aggravate her wounds - which now resembled year old scars. Her hair was as wild as it ever was, being able to move had resulted in a very deep sleep where she had unconsciously tossed and turned so much that she now resembled the lioness she was supposed to be.
Theo had taken the opportunity to sleep on his stomach, the leg brace had been thrown earlier in the night and he slept soundly with his knee permanently bent, the ability to do so reliving a heavy burden both physically and mentally.

As they woke, groggy and tired with hazy eyesight, dry mouths and empty stomachs, the first thing either of them did was check to see if the night before had been real or not. Hermione lifted her shirt and, just as the night before, she was met with faded pink scars. She ran her fingers over them slowly, one at a time before turning to Theo to see he was hitting his knee with a heavy book and a look of pure joy on his face when he realised he could feel it and it hurt.

"It was real. I can't believe it. It wasn't a dream it was real." He almost sang as he stopped hurting himself and smiled up at her.

Hermione took in the sight, his messy hair and crumpled pyjamas - though no more so than her own - making him look much younger than his almost seventeen years. It was cute but in a sweet, brotherly way. "It was real" she agreed with a smile of her own as he reached for the potion on his bedside table and drank it down, presumably to keep away the migraines she hadn't been able to heal.
Hermione bit her lip at the sight, a disappointed and worried frown marring her face "Theo I'm so-"

"Don't you even dare apologise 'Mione! I swear to Salazar if you even think about it I might have to hex you." He interrupted her with a fiery stare and harsh tone suggesting he wasn't even remotely joking.

"I just wish I could have found something to help the migraines." She sighed before turning to the pumpkin juice the elves had left for her.

"I know you do but, 'Mione, seriously, you did more for me than anyone else could. You didn't give up like the healer did. You just - you did a lot more than you think, believe me." He said as he thought about the love magic she had had to use. "The migraines aren't going to go. I've accepted that. You need to accept that. Accept that maybe you can't fix everything all the time."

"I'm starting to think you don't even know me at all" Hermione joked with a sniffle before the pair started on their breakfast.

oOoOoOo

After a long and drawn out breakfast where the two sat, with a muffliato charm surrounding them so as not to be heard, Hermione and Theo discussed the best possible way to get around the fact that their injuries were now healed. They needed an excuse but sadly came up empty of anything useful. When Madam Pomfrey approached Theo's bed later on that morning ready to check him over as she usually did, the first thing she noticed was his bent leg that was absolutely not settled in between a hideously orange contraption. She stopped abruptly at the foot of his bed, drawing in a sharp breath before asking "Mr Nott, where is the leg brace, and why is it not secured in position as I left it" her tone lacking the harsh qualities both students knew she was trying to muster and instead laced with sheer confusion at the sight before her.

"Took it off" Theo answered matter of factly.

"I see that. Would you care to explain why?" She said tersely.

"Didn't think I needed it anymore"

Madam Pomfrey really was not a witch the students would normally mess around with, she looked Theo right in the eye and asked "And why is that?" It was clear the Mediwitch was losing her patience with him at this point.

Theo, deciding the best thing to do in this situation was to show the mediwitch why he didn't need the leg brace, swung both legs off of the edge of the bed and stood up before taking a couple of steps forward. He was much more balanced this morning and his feet moved just as they were supposed to though it was evident there was still some stiffness there from having not moved it in so long. Hermione watched as he stood up slowly and carefully, watched him take a first tentative step, watched his face contort into what could only be described as apprehension right before he put any weight on either of feet because, yes he had stood up the night before, yes he had taken a few steps and yes they were very wobbly steps but they were steps. It was better than nothing. She could see he was worried it might not happen again this morning despite everything they had been through the night before. She could see the sheer relief wave over him when he didn't immediately stumble or fall and watched his confidence grow as he took a few more steps forgoing to take the care and time he had gone through for those first ones. Hermione smiled as she watched Theo's face light up in glee at the simple action.

Madam Pomfrey stared at the boy before her in shock, her jaw hanging just the slightest and her eyes wide at the sight. She knew magic, for Merlin's sake she wasn't exactly a spring higgogriff these days. She had attended Hogwarts herself at eleven, she had devoted her time to helping others even as a child. Being a mediwitch was all she had wanted to do and so as soon as she could she would help in this very hospital wing and the second she graduated she was furthering her education in healing. She knew magic. She knew healing magic but this, this looked like something else. Felt like something else. Something she had never come across before. It felt good and rare and light. And it infuriated her no end.

"It's still a bit stiff of course but I can feel everything again" she heard him murmur away happily.

"But, how?"

"I don't know, leprechauns?" Theo asked cheekily.

"The closest thing you'll get to a leprechaun Mr Nott is Mr Finnegan and I can assure you there is nothing lucky about that boy" She shot back, having little patience for such ridiculousness.

"Faeries then" Theo retorted as he sat back on the bed, leaving his feet firmly planted on the cold hard tiles of the floor.

"Unlikely" the mediwitch replied as she started to run diagnostics over his being.

"Maybe it was just a delayed reaction? Maybe whatever you or the healer did just worked slower than you expected?" He offered weakly, he was starting to run low on ideas and knew Hermione would be subjected to the same thing in a few minutes.

Madam Pomfrey finished the diagnostics with a flourish of her wand before checking his head once again "I think the leprechaun would be more likely" she scoffed. Apparently the healer having not left the best impression.

When she was done after giving him a complete check up and was sure that nothing was amiss other than the obvious head injury, Madam Pomfrey documented her work thoroughly. Explaining that she had no idea why her patient was miraculously better and able to walk again was a difficult task though and it took a short while to get that all down.
Eventually she turned to Hermione and upon seeing the full vials next to her bed rose one inquisitive eyebrow at the younger witch with a stern look on her face that would rival McGonagall's, and said, in the calmest voice she could muster on this already very strange morning "It's not like you to forget a potion Miss Granger."

"I didn't forget" Hermione replied weakly.

"Then why haven't you taken it, dear?" The mediwitch asked.

"I'm not in any pain. Well, I am but it's not constant pain like it was. It's more of a stabbing pain that comes and goes. I don't need the potion for that. I'll manage." Hermione tried to explain.

"The pain has lessened?" The mediwitch asked, she probably ought to be surprised but in all honesty she doubted anything else could surprise her again this morning. She was wrong.

"Considerably" Hermione replied as she chewed her lower lip anxiously.

"And the salve? Have you been putting it on just as I explained? Please lift up your shirt so I can check the healing progress" Madam Pomfrey insisted as she walked towards her bed, wandlessly flicking her wrist to close the curtains in an effort to retain Hermione's modesty.

Hermione slowly lifted her shirt over her head like she had done for the past couple of days and lay there, still chewing her bottom lip as the mediwitch examined her without uttering a single word. When she finished, gesturing for Hermione to redress herself and watching intensely as she did so, amazed at the ease in which she was able to perform the task considering how the simple action had been such a difficulty for her the day before. Madam Pomfrey opened up the curtains, stood between both beds, took a deep breath and asked "What did you do?"

"Leprechauns?" Theo offered up again.

"Mr Nott, on Merlin's grave himself I swear if you mention leprechauns just once more..." She warned him.

"He's...he's not entirely lying" Hermione choked out anxiously.

"Miss Granger?" Madam Pomfrey asked, wanting clarification.

"I mean, obviously we don't think it was leprechauns" She added quickly before glaring at Theo "Not really, but we don't know what it was or why. We woke up like this. We both woke much later than usual and really tired and most of our pain was gone. When I looked at the cuts to put on my salve I just had pink scars and when Theo tried to stretch he felt his toes and leg move." Hermione continued.

"If this is true" Madam Pomfrey began as she looked between both students again "then why didn't either of you call for me?" She asked.

"In all honesty we were really shocked and a bit worried that we couldn't explain any of it" Hermione sighed and she put on her best nervous looking smile. "It doesn't exactly make a lot of sense and it's not like we're completely fixed, I'll have scars for a while-probably forever- and I imagine the pain that goes with them. Theo will have his migraines."

"Yes, well I suppose that would be understandable" The mediwitch sighed before picking up each of their paperwork "I'm going to owl the head master and your head of houses to update them" she said as she walked off towards her office.

"You lied. You lied to a teacher" Theo grinned.

"Shut up, I've lied plenty over the years, hard not to when your best friend is the Chosen One. And besides, she's hardly a teacher."

"You still lied. And you were good at it. She believed you." He chanted.

"Yes, well, after you droning on about leprechauns and faeries I'm hardly surprised." Hermione scoffed with a roll of her eyes.

"Which was exactly my plan" Theo beamed before he lay back in the bed with his hands behind his head and a smile plastered across his face as if his day could not get any better just because he had witnessed her lie to a face of authority, for him.

oOoOoOo

Nothing else exciting happened for the rest of the day, classes had already started so Madam Pomfrey's Owls would have to wait until the teaching day was over. The mediwitch continued to check up on the two patients just as she normally would though this time her eyebrows were always twisted in puzzlement and a perplexed frown marred her face as the mere sight of the pair just drove her mind wild with the possibilities. Hermione had wondered aloud if she was sat in her office trying to figure it out. After that the mediwitch barely left her own sanctuary unless it was absolutely needed leaving Hermione to declare that yes, she was in fact trying to figure out their 'puzzle'. She had sent all the books back to the library the night before, or at least, all of the books except for the one that had actually helped. The cover and title were still charmed as just as Draco had done when he had dropped it off. Hermione had taken it upon herself to shrink the book, after all it was overly large and ridiculously heavy. She shrank it in size and weight, making it as small as a notebook. It was innocuous and with the new title she was able to carry it around with her easily without anyone being the wiser. She had vowed to make an anonymous donation to the library later on in return though knew that nobody would miss this particular book since it really shouldn't have even been there in the first place. She had never been thankful to an un-organised librarian in her life before now. It wasn't a feeling she wasn't very comfortable with having.

Draco, Luna, Harry, Ginny, Daphne and Blaise had all visited at some point in the day during their free periods or lunch breaks. The events of the night before had had to be explained to Ginny that morning when she saw Hermione and Theo for herself and realised something was off. After that the group would sit and make small talk, daring not to mention what had happened or how just in case Madam Pomfrey was listening in, muffliato charms couldn't be relied upon too heavily without added wards and there was no way they could ward the mediwitch out of the hospital wing, even the very thought was ridiculous. They played exploding snap, opened chocolate frog cards and would challenge each other to try the every flavour beans that had been left aside in the 'potentially vomit inducing' pile rather than the 'safe as brooms' pile that had barely last two minutes between the lot of them.
Madam Pomfrey had kept the wards up for the time being, deciding that until she spoke to the professors and they figured out how best to proceed they would be much better off as they were, safe in their beds. Leprechauns, faeries and all.

The last class on that Wednesday afternoon ended at four thirty with an hour break for the students and staff alike to unwind before the evening meal, though unfortunately for Hermione and Theo there would be no unwinding for them. They had spent the day sat together going through all the homework they had, Harry and Draco had both brought them stacks of essays that had been assigned in the classes they missed and with nothing else to do the pair had teamed up to work through everything in an effort to keep from dying of boredom or going insane.

When the Gryffindor and Slytherin head of house's turned up not long after the bell signified the end of the last class of the day, and a few minutes after that the headmaster himself, Hermione and Theo had already put aside their homework for the day though mainly because it was all already done.
Madam Pomfrey ushered the three professors into her office that was either warded spectacularly or she just threw up charms to stop either of the patients from hearing what she had to say.

Ten minutes later the four emerged, Madam Pomfrey looking slightly frazzled, her neat hair that was always in a tight twist and had never once looked out of place was starting to sag under the weight of the burden she was carrying and her mediwitch's hat was slightly off centre. Professor McGonagall wore her usual hard stare and Snape looked completely bored while their headmaster was almost clapping his hands and jumping up and down in sheer glee.

"I hear we owe the leprechauns a lovely basket of Honeydukes' finest" he commented wryly.

Theo laughed at the elderly man, smiled up at him and replied "I'm sure they would appreciate that. May I suggest we at least add something from the 'Pot of Gold' range?"

"Ah now that is a range of chocolate one can never have too much of. Though I dare say there really are no sweets that one can never have too much of. Alas, tiny little cauldrons full of the smoothest, richest, salty caramel there is really is up there with lemon sherbets" the headmaster sighed happily as he described the chocolates in an almost dreamlike way that made everyone in the room besides Theo nervous.

"Albus!" Professor McGonagall reprimanded.

"The boy has good taste Minerva"

"Yes, well, it is not his tastes in chocolates that we are here to talk about, is it?" Her icy tone matching her posture. "Now then." She said simply when it became clear their headmaster was not going to further rile her up. "Do you care to explain yourselves?"

"I...um...Professor...I'm not sure what you mean exactly" Hermione replied as her nerves set in again.

Professor McGonagall was a strict, no nonsense woman who saw through lies as easily as glass. She had a sort of affinity for detecting lies. Specifically when one of the students under her own care was telling lies. She had taught them, counselled them, consoled them and brought them up as if they were her own. She knew when when Gryffindor's were lying. They were her cubs. Of course she knew. The Gryffindor head of house raised one very perfectly shaped eyebrow at the younger witch as if conveying in that tiny movement she that she knew whatever Hermione was saying was utter hogwash and that she was surprised that she was hearing such hogwash from this particular student.

Theo sensed the silent battle waging between the two women and decided to interrupt, knowing that under such scrutiny Hermione could likely cave. "It's true" he said with an added sigh purely for effect.

"We really did wake up like this" he was now slapping his leg almost absently though Hermione knew that it was intentional. His eyes narrowed slightly as one of his slaps stung a little more than he intended. Or he pretended. Either way he carried on.

"I can't explain it and 'Mione can't explain it and Merlin knows, if she can't explain something then...hey! Maybe it was Merlin?" He asked excitedly as his eyes lit up.

Hermione sat in the next bed as she watched him, sneaky she thought. Such an actor. So bloody dramatic. She rolled her eyes at his ridiculous notion before he turned to her and asked "Hey, Hermione, did you pray to Merlin that my leg would heal?" Almost innocently though the smirk could still be detected on his lips.

Hermione smiled back, knowing the game Theo was playing; the charming, idiotic fool who would succeed in diverting attention when needed. He always seemed quite apt at it, though if she were a betting woman she never would have thought it would work against the four adults that were facing them right now.

She would have lost that bet.

"I did Theo" she answered sombrely.

"And did you cry and beg for him to let your friend be okay?" There was a glint in his eyes matching his smirk now.

"I suppose there were some tears" she agreed reluctantly.

"Then it's settled. It must have been Merlin. Everyone knows he can't let a fellow Slytherin suffer and of course there's that thing about granting wishes" he finished with a satisfied smile as he turned back to their professors.

Professor McGonagall grit her teeth at his audacious nature while Dumbledore laughed haughtily, Madam Pomfrey finally let her exhausted body drop into a nearby chair and Snape continued to stand in the exact same spot, glaring at the two of them.

"What do we do?" The mediwitch asked after a few minutes of unbearable silence.

Apparently the answer to that question was to have Professor Snape subject both Hermione and Theo to as many diagnosis spells, charms and enchantments as possible to try and figure out what had happened, when and how. Theo was made to walk up and down the room repeatedly, each step gaining him confidence and elegance in his stride. Hermione had to reveal her completely healed and now year old scars before also being subjected to the same walking exercises Theo had been since she had been lay in bed just as long as him without walking.
It took until well after dinner was over for Professor Snape to finally holster his wand again, declaring that he couldn't find a single thing wrong on either of them except for the injuries to Theo's head. It was clear the man was infuriatingly frustrated at the turn of the events.

"What do we do?" Madam Pomfrey asked again.

"Discharge them Poppy, there's no need to have them taking up more space and time when they are clearly so very well. Besides, I'm sure we can all agree that they have missed far too many classes already." Professor McGonagall replied. "Send us a copy of their files when you're done. I'll see you both in class tomorrow" she added with a quick glance to the pair before walking towards the double doors.

Professor Snape barely nodded his agreement before he was following her out leaving just the headmaster behind.

"Well, I suppose I shall go and owl Honeydukes then" he smiled before picking up a sugar quill from Theo's table and following his colleagues.

Chapter Text

As their deputy head mistress had instructed, Hermione and Theo were discharged later that night after a belated evening meal of stewed lamb, freshly baked bread rolls and a large serving of jam roly poly and custard each before they were each subjected to a few more 'tests' that the mediwitch had thought of at the last minute. When she was thoroughly exhausted and knew without doubt that there would be no getting answers this way she reluctantly discharged them both into the care of their houses. She left Theodore with a box of extra strength vials full of pain potions and instructions to come back each week for more.
Draco, Luna and Harry had been waiting outside the hospital wing on the pair after they had heard the news of their release, having being kicked out by a flustered Madam Pomfrey whilst she exhausted herself even more.

Finally at ten that night Hermione and Theo walked over the threshold of the hospital wing, pyjamas and slippers on and school bags on their backs but out of the clutches of the mediwitch nonetheless. After six long days, nearly four of them spent in a coma on Hermione's behalf, and Theo in a state of paralysis, the wards were finally lifted and the students both noticed their mediwitch slump down on one of the beds out of the corners of their eyes just as the doors closed behind them.

"Hey gorgeous, finally got you out of bed did we? Next time the need to spend a week in bed arises will you let me know because I think it would be more enjoyable my way." Draco smirked at Hermione as he took in her obviously exhausted form. Her hair was no better than the last time he had seen it and he knew it had only been washed with quick wand spells here and there by Ginny and Luna while she had been in a coma which was really unfortunate because it made it look worse and he knew, after being with Hermione for the past five months that there was a set routine to keeping her hair tame and quick wand work was never an option. Nevertheless he still found it adorable, that just woke up look it gave her made him think about their nights in the room of requirement. He missed her. Merlin, he missed waking up with that hair constricting his airways as it always seemed to do.

"If you wanted to get me into bed Draco you only had to ask. Though, you really aren't my type..." Theo grinned back at his friend before letting his eyes slide over to the smaller blonde stood between him and Harry. "You however" He said as he took a step closer to her "Don't need to ask." Luna grinned up at him easily, shaking her head at his usual dramatics before he leant in and kissed her just as dramatically as he was. Not that she cared of course because she gave as good as she got.

Hermione rolled her eyes at Theo and Luna who apparently had no intentions of stopping any time soon despite the fact they had company, not that Luna was the type to care about such things and apparently neither was Theo when it came to her. "I'll bare that in mind" Hermione answered with a much needed hug before turning to Harry and offering him a small smile.

The five students stood chatting (or for Theo and Luna, snogging the brains out of each other) for a while in the corridor of the hospital wing before exhaustion started to over take Hermione and Theo's potions started to wear off. They eventually decided it was best to go back to their dorms and meet up again the next morning when everyone was fully rested and things were back to normal again. Draco had asked Hermione if she wanted to go to their room that night but since she had not been back to her dorm in nearly a week and that Professor McGonagall knew she was discharged she figured it wasn't the safest night to get back into old routines though she did miss him terribly as sleeping alone was starting to become quite a bit of a task for the witch.

The halls were quiet since curfew was up for all but the head boy and girl who Hermione knew would be on the opposite side of the castle (if they were even out since the head boy was Cormac McLaggen) to where they were headed so the five students opted to walk the halls together. Hermione and Draco stood side by side, holding hands while he insisted on carrying her bag - at first she had put up a fight, she wasn't a hag she was perfectly fine and could carry her own bag for Circe's sake but Draco, ever the perfect, shining example of a pureblood upbringing had insisted it was customary to carry a lady's bag regardless of knowing how capable she was at doing it herself then he took it off her arms leaving her no room to fight further, slung it over his shoulder, grabbed her hand in his and carried on walking down the hall. Theo, just as tired as Hermione, opted not to take another potion just yet and draped his arm around Luna's shoulders - apparently just touching her seemed to help the pain lessen more than the potion did and he wanted to make full use of that benefit whilst he could. Though he did promise them he would take the potion once he had gotten back to his dorm and had a shower. Hermione had given a Draco a look at this that he knew meant 'you better make sure he does it' and he nodded his head in agreement before the subject was dropped. The pair followed Draco and Hermione before Harry ran to catch up, walking in between the two couples and feeling rather uncomfortable as the odd one out but knowing Hermione needed somebody to walk her back (even if he knew she would never admit as much herself) and knowing Draco and Theo couldn't exactly do that.

When the five reached the staircase that would lead their separate ways Harry stood back to allow Hermione to say goodbye. Theo had already announced he was walking Luna back to the Ravenclaw tower first before he headed to the dungeons and Draco, the faithful friend that he was, had opted to join him in an attempt to keep an eye on his friend who would likely be in pain again the second Luna was out of arms reach.

Hermione and Draco stood in their spot abruptly, something about saying goodbye this time felt so off and so wrong. They knew they would see each other again the next day, knew they would likely spend the weekend slumbered in bed in their room surrounded by piles of work Hermione would likely be determined to get through because she had missed so many classes despite being further ahead of the course schedule than any of their class. Hermione cupped Draco's jaw with her free hand and smiled sweetly at him before saying "I'm going to miss seeing you so much in the day you know?"

"Yes, well, I'd much rather we had never had to get to this stage in the first place." He muttered tersely before shooting Harry a well earned scowl.

"Stop that" She reprimanded before pulling on his chin to draw his attention back to her. "I mean it, stop it. I forgave him. You have to too. We have to move on from this Draco, we can't live with this burdening us when we know there is worse to come." She said softly as she forced him to look into her eyes.

Draco sighed at her insistence, he knew she was right, she was always right but Salazar, he just couldn't get the image of her limp, lifeless and bloodied body lay across his arms out of his head. He couldn't forget about being covered in her blood or begging her to wake from her coma. It was an accident, he knew that. He knew Harry didn't mean to hurt Hermione, he knew he loved her. And if he was honest with himself he knew Harry hadn't meant to hurt him either, not really, not like that. He saw from the look of shock an horror on the other man's face when the curse hit that it hadn't been intentional but forgiveness was hard. Especially for a Slytherin. "I know" he sighed. It was all he could offer her. He refused to look back at Harry, he wouldn't apologise to the other man, not even non-verbally. His girlfriend, no, his intended, the love of life, the light of his life, had nearly died at Harry's wand and accidental or not he couldn't forgive that as easily as his Gryffindor girlfriend could. After all, he was a Slytherin. Merlin, she was a better person than him he thought to himself for the twentieth time just that day.

"I love you" Hermione half whispered to him when she could see him thinking too hard.

Draco sighed, sometimes she knew him too well. "I love you too" he insisted before kissing her passionately in lieu of their usual soft goodnight kiss.

"Goodnight" Hermione whispered into his ear when they pulled apart, her arms around his neck still and her mouth close to his ear.

"Goodnight love" Draco whispered back before kissing her forehead and letting her go for the night knowing he would have to spend another night in his own bed, in the dungeons, since he couldn't very well walk Theo back this late and go back out again. The cold down there had never bothered him before in all the years he had resided there. Hell, he lived in such a large manor that cold was an inevitable feeling. He had grown used to it over the years, welcomed it even. Yet, after spending his nights with Hermione for the past few months he had started to realise what he was missing. The fire roaring in the background even when the flames didn't actually let off any heat and the warmth of another body pressed up against his in the bed, more often than not naked, really lulled him into a new sense of security he had never felt before in his life. The more of that he got the more he craved, Merlin, this woman was going to be the death of him.

Hermione pulled away from Draco feeling much the same, she missed sharing a bed with him too. While she was so used to the roaring fires and the blazing temperatures that the Gryffindor tower and dorms often boasted it had always been something of an annoyance to her. She often found herself casting cooling charms in the middle of the night when she woke up in a sweat - not a good look for her considering how that effected her hair! In the summer the fires still roared and though the flames were only there for show somehow they still made it feel warmer and though she knew it was a placebo effect it still had her sweltering. Having Draco share a bed with her had changed that. Logically, sharing a bed with another person should make you hotter, she knew that. But somehow, despite the fire with the fake flames and the earthy tones of their room he managed to keep her cooler than she had ever been in her sleep. His skin was always so cold to the touch and she reasoned that that was what helped even though she knew that laying together naked after a rather vigorous round of sex - as they had found themselves on those nights together since Valentine's - was hardly a cooling experience and yet he still managed to do it. Placebo effect or not. He also kept the nightmares away, something she missed every night she wasn't with him and knew wasn't a placebo effect.

Hermione turned to Theo and pulled the boy from Luna's arms, "And you, I'm going to miss waking up to your face every morning and listening to your absolutely bloody dramatic nonsense. Leprechauns? Really Theo?" She laughed as she hugged him.

"Leprechauns, really" He laughed and he wrapped his arms around her waist. "And don't think you're getting away from my 'dramatic nonsense' for long though, we still have that Runes assignment to do. Meet you in the library on Monday after dinner?" He asked as they still stood hugging.

"Didn't think I would" She laughed while nodding her head in agreement to the library meeting.

"I'll miss you too though, for the record" He added before the pair pulled apart and Hermione hugged Luna then moved to stand next to Harry who was now carrying her bag after Draco had handed it over him.

"Goodnight" She called back to them as they stood in their two separate groups.

"Goodnight" The other four chimed back before Hermione and Harry moved towards the Gryffindor tower and Draco, Theo and Luna walked towards the Ravenclaw tower.

oOoOoOo

Hermione and Harry had been walking in silence for a couple of minutes when he finally broke the ice.

"So" He said.

"So" Hermione agreed.

There was another minute of silence before he started again "You really love him" he finally said. It wasn't a question it was a mere observation and while Harry hadn't doubted it in the past this was the first he had really seen them interact with each other, there was no way he could deny the love they had between each other. Hell, she had thrown herself in front of a wand and a curse for him! He knew she loved him, her actions had been testament to that but he'd never seen the love with his own eyes before now when it didn't concern a life or death situation.

"I do. And he loves me." Hermione replied, not at all shocked where the conversation was headed.

"I know" Harry sighed as they pulled up outside of their common room. "I just worry."

"And I love you for it but I'll be fine, I'm a big girl Harry, of age and everything now you know." She joked lightly.

"Yes well, remember all that when you get inside" Harry grimaced as he looked towards the door where the portrait of the fat lady hung.

"What did you do?" Hermione asked through narrowed eyes and gritted teeth.

"It wasn't me. I just couldn't stop them. You know what us Gryffindor's are like. I tried to reign in it but, well, you've been missed 'Mione. Ron's been going mad without you, I'm pretty sure Lavender is about to dump him and Ginny's excited to have her best friend back" he looked back from the portrait and into her eyes before adding "And so am I"

Hermione offered a small, sad smile before saying "Well, let's get this over with. The sooner we get in there the sooner I can sneak out and have a shower and wash this bloody hair." She said as she threw her arms up and pointed at the mess on her head.

"Fred and George sent provisions" Harry warned just before she muttered the password.

"Great" Hermione said with a roll of her eyes that was so hard Harry was surprised they never got stuck in the back of her head.

oOoOoOo

Unfortunately for Hermione sneaking out of the common room for a shower wasn't something she was able to do successfully. The girls' dorms had been warded by Cormac McLaggen of all people and anybody over the age of fifth year were banned from going to bed until the head boy (seriously, how on earth was he head boy Hermione often wondered) would lift said wards which unfortunately happened to be closer the three in the morning when the group had started to drop like flobberworms after drinking what she considered to be roughly Hagrid's body weight in Firewhiskey, though it was shared between them all. Fred and George's provisions turned out to be a large hamper consisting of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes' latest tester products, a few bottles of Butterbeer that had the rather unfortunate effect of changing the person's hair colour for an hour and instructions on where to find a stash of Firewhiskey they had left behind. 'Stash', Hermione thought, was a rather loose term for what they found when they eventually followed the orders and found what could only be described as a cellars worth of wizarding alcohol, mainly Firewhiskey, in a secret room that had been hidden in plain sight all along (their common room apparently held a concealed door that even the Marauder's map knew nothing of). The majority of the students didn't know it existed of course, the package, including the note, had been sent solely to Ginny and one night, when everyone was in bed, the fiery redhead had pillaged as much as she thought they would consume as her twin brothers had instructed and sealed the door back up. Of course, that night, once everybody was passed out in alcohol induced comas and various states of undress, Ginny pulled Hermione's exhausted body up out of a chair and, bouncing on the balls of her feet, dragged her friend towards the door that was right beside the entrance to the common room. She cast a quick look around the place to make sure nobody but Harry and Ron were looking or sober enough to remember and drew her wand over the area revealing a small door.

Ginny opened the door and dragged Hermione through it where Ron and Harry followed them after watching the two curiously.
Despite her total exhaustion at this point Hermione was still wowed by what she saw. The door led to a small room that was wall to wall, ceiling to floor, covered in bottles of every wizarding alcohol she had ever heard of and many, many more.

"Bloody hell" She heard Ron nearly shout behind her.

"Bloody hell" Hermione repeated in a hoarse whisper.

"Fred and George had this all along? How?" He asked as he moved towards the closest rack and blew the thin layer of dust to read the label on the bottle.

Harry moved to reach for the door, closing it behind them and was about to use a concealment charm before Ginny told him it was automatic and only revealed itself when told to.

"It's like a pub cellar in here" Harry finally said in awe when he let himself look properly.

"I think that's exactly what it is" Ginny answered with a smirk.

The three others turned to look at their friend with varying degrees of confusion etched on their faces before she went on to explain. "I'm like, 100% sure that this is a copycat room of a pub. Probably The Three Broomsticks since that's in Hogsmeade and there's the secret passages. This is basically the cellar of The Three Broomsticks, mirrored. Well, that's what I think anyway." The three stood in awe at the vast majority of alcohol in front of them, running their fingers over labels and reading them aloud, even Hermione joined in when she found the collection of elf wines.

About twenty minutes later the four entered back into the room after Ginny cast a spell to make sure they wouldn't be seen - something else Fred and George had had the decency to help with before Hermione roused Cormac from his slobbery slumber near the fire and forced him to let the wards down to allow everyone to go to bed. Not being sober enough to fight a battle with Hermione he gave in though the witch was shocked he was able to even yield a wand at all at this point. She and Ginny woke as many of the girls as they could before retreating upstairs where Hermione grabbed a couple of towels, her hair potions and headed for a much needed shower despite it being so late. Or early, depending on how you looked at it. She was just thankful that on Friday's they only had lessons until midday then she was planning on spending the rest of the weekend with Draco, catching up on the time they had missed over the past week.

Hermione stood under the hot running water of the shower, letting the pressure of the trickling water fall on her shoulders and relieve the tension that had set there over the past few months. Not that a shower could cure anything but after a week of being confined to bed and just a wand and the odd sponge bath, well, a shower felt like heaven compared. Taking her bottle of Sleekeazy's Hair Potion For Curly And Unruly Hair Hermione squirted a generous sized dollop in her hand before massaging the cream like substance into her scalp for a few minutes until she was sure she was thoroughly washed and began to rinse. The shower had meant to be a quick one before getting a decent sleep but the water was for too inviting and Hermione ended up in there longer than planned. When she finally emerged, her hair much tamer and with far less knots to boot, she dried herself with a towel, wrapped her hair up in an old t-shirt before throwing on some clean underwear and practically falling into her bed, already half asleep.

Chapter Text

For the second time in as many days Hermione somehow managed to defy her own body clock and sleep through, again. Unfortunately this time she actually had somewhere to be that morning - Charms class! Fortunately however, her usual waking time allowed for a shower in the mornings and since the last shower she had taken was mere hours before, she thanked the muggle gods and Lavender bloody Brown before prising herself out of the bed.
Apparently she had been so exhausted the night before that she had managed to fall asleep without even closing the drapes on her four poster bed. Drapes that had long been charmed with silencing charms on either side to stop the noise going out or coming in. One could not live with Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil and not have silencing charms, it was a totally ridiculous notion. She often wondered how on earth Ron put up with her mouth until she realised it was probably her mouth that attracted him, at least, that's how Lavender told it. Lavender was apparently a goddess at giving blow jobs and of course, Ron was all too willing to receive - something Hermione wished she knew less about and one of the reasons she was thankful to that two way silencing charm she had perfected back in first year when all the other girls would laugh at her stupid hair, buck teeth and sheer studious tenacity. They had whispered about it, of course they had. But Lavender Brown's whisper was the average person's regular speech.
Today, for the first time in her six years of sharing a dormitory with these girls she was thankful to Lavender Brown and her unusually shrill voice. She supposed it would never happen again. She had been thoroughly exhausted after all. So much so that she knew, just knew, that if she had had the energy to close the drapes the night before as she usually would there would have been no waking her for classes. Perhaps she wouldn't have even woken for another day - the mere thought was bliss.

Hermione groaned as she dragged her aching body out of the bed, Lavender was screaming bloody murder about her hair not sitting just so and Parvati couldn't get her eye-shadow to match exactly right while Fay and the quiet ginger girl who's name she never could remember went about their usual normal morning routines that thankfully never involved shrill voices, high pitched wailing or angry shouts because their eye-liner ended up all wrong and now they would have to redo their whole face!

Looking down at her body Hermione vaguely remembered not being conscious enough to fully dress the night before and so, before any of the other girls noticed and saw her scars she pulled the drapes closed and dressed into her uniform as quickly as she could. She really wasn't in the mood for the Goblin Inquisition right now and honestly, the longer her scars remained a secret the better as far as she was concerned. When she emerged ten minutes later her hair was still wrapped in the cotton shirt from the night before. Hermione checked her uniform was all in order in the full length mirror facing her bed before excusing herself to the bathroom for her morning care routine. She brushed and flossed, and even tweezed a few stray hairs from her eyebrows before untying the shirt from around her head.

Hermione had been just four years old when her mother had finally given up with trying to brush her hair the way most girls were able to. She dragged her from salon to salon until she was sure she had found the perfect solution. Plopping. Merlin, it sounded ridiculous. But it worked. The answer had been so simple all along. Wash your hair, do not towel dry it like normal and instead pat it down so as not to aggravate the curls, scrunch it up into sections (or not, for Hermione it really didn't make a difference) and tie an oversized cotton t-shirt tightly around the head to keep it all firmly in place while it dried. Hermione usually slept in hers just like she had the night before. And when you take away the shirt (providing it's been on long enough of course) you have lovely bouncy curls again. It was really that simple. That was how Hermione found herself staring at her reflection that morning, her hair was still a little damp but it would have to do, she looked paler than usual though she figured that was in part due to the lack of sun over the past week and the exhaustion. She took one last look before she sighed and pulled out a tinted lip balm, she never really wore lipstick or even make up at all unless it was for a special occasion - which going to Charms certainly wasn't - but she was already anticipating the stares she would get that day after being gone for a week and hell, her lips were dry and cracked too so, two birds, one stone. As they say.

Stepping into the common room that morning she came upon a scene not too dissimilar to what she had left it just hours before. Bodies were still strewn about the place, legs were hanging over armchairs and arms were draped on the floor. There were at least six students piled up into what could only be described as a human version of a spiders web right in front of the fire while others lay three or four to a couch. All in all Hermione counted no less than twenty four still sleeping Gryffindor's in last nights clothes and reeking of Firewhiskey. Damn those Weasley twins, causing havoc even when they weren't around. And damn the Gryffindor's for being the reckless, weak willed idiots everyone knew they were!

Hermione smiled a deviant smile as Harry, Ron and Ginny trickled into the room after her and, after trying unsuccessfully to wake them with a sweet and cheery "Wakey wakey, rise and shine" like her mother used to sing, cast a sonorous charm on herself and called "GET YOUR BLOODY ARSES UP NOW BEFORE I'M FORCED TO DO SOMETHING YOU REALLY DON'T WANT ME TO DO!!!"

All at once twenty four bodies jerked at the sudden noise and sheer volume before looking around and realising exactly what it was and going right back to where they were lain. "Don't tempt me because I'll hex the lot of you" she growled as they started to complain about her pushy nature. "If you get ready quick enough you will have time for some breakfast, maybe it'll soak up some of that Firewhiskey you haven't quite absorbed yet." She shot back pointedly.

"Hey, 'Mione, how are you so chirpy this morning. You drank as much as us." Cormac asked as he stood from the chair he had been draped over and moved somebody's - a girl Hermione didn't know the name of - legs off of him.

"Actually I didn't drink anything." She answered with a smug smile.

"You did, I poured you at least three drinks myself"

"And you think a witch as brilliant as they say I am doesn't know how to banish a quart of Firewhiskey when she needs to?"

Cormac looked at her in horror, no doubt wondering why on earth she would do such a thing. "Sometimes I wonder if you're not actually a snake or an eagle in disguise. Gryffindor's don't banish Firewhiskey!" he called back clutching his chest as he fake died over her 'betrayal'.

"But not a badger?" She asked as if the idea that she couldn't be in Hufflepuff hurt her - it didn't of course, she knew without doubt that other than her loyalty there was really nothing much about her that qualified her for that house.

"Godric no! You're self-sacrificing, brave and loyal I'll give you that. But you're also cunning when you need to be, extremely smart, witty and very original along with ambitious but you're also far too competitive, never patient, rarely play fair and sweet mother or Merlin 'Mione, you have a temper that would rile Hades. Definitely not a badger!"

Harry, Ron and Ginny laughed at Cormac's surmising of Hermione's personality before the head boy successfully roused the rest of the students with promises of a seven aside, Gryffindor vs Gryffindor quidditch match at some point in the next month when the pitch wasn't booked. Gryffindor vs Gryffindor was always a good way to motivate and bring the house mates together again as a team and really, it was nearing Easter and they had only had one match during November. And though it had been a 'friendly' against their own house they still became ridiculously competitive, bent the rules, got hurt (which is usually where Hermione came in) and broke more brooms than they had but it was all in the name of sport and afterwards they would forget about the tempers on the pitch and go back to being comrades in arms again, stuffing their faces to glorious limits and passing out in the common room from sugar and adrenaline highs rather than the alcohol that had been present the night before.

oOoOoOo

Hermione entered the great hall that morning arm in arm with Harry, determined to show the rest of the students that 'no harm no foul' and they were just as good of friends now as they had been a week ago. Even if it wasn't entirely true since there had been some harm and a week ago Harry wouldn't even look her in the eye without not being able to utter the words Draco Malfoy and death eater in the same sentence. The four sat in their usual seats at the Gryffindor table and started to plate up their breakfast plates whilst pointedly ignoring the stares coming from around the room. The rest of their house mates trailed in behind them ten minutes later, all holding their heads in their heads and proclaiming Hermione the worst witch ever in the name of witches all over the world whilst simultaneously declaring how happy they were now that she was back.

The Gryffindor's, Hermione included, made their way through a rather quiet and subdued breakfast meal that was full of questioning glares and harsh whispers directed their way before the sixth years headed to their first class of the day, Charms. A favourite of Hermione's followed by double Potions where she was so caught up all she could do was sit by idly going over work that even she knew was perfect at this point. All they had to do now was await the next full moon so that they could brew their modified version of the family tree under it just as it rose in the sky. The potion they were currently modifying was titled in Runes so old that Hermione and Draco had renamed it 'familia domus' which was latin for 'family lineage'. Not exactly original by any stretch of the imagination but Draco's rule was "When in doubt translate to Latin, it looks much more impressive" and Hermione could hardly argue with his logic since she had so often used it herself.

The stares and whispers followed Hermione and Harry around for the rest of the day though she pretended not to notice. At one point she had bumped into Draco in the corridor outside of their Potions classroom and the collective of students that were milling around held their breaths as if awaiting for some kind of altercation to happen between the two since they had all heard of the (shockingly very close to reality) events that had transpired the previous week.
They tried to ignore each other, having decided there was more than enough drama going but when Pansy pug-face Parkinson started to call Hermione an 'ungrateful bitch' for not thanking Draco for saving her life he stepped in and fabricated one of their regular arguments that had her calling him a ferret and him calling her a third rate witch - each hoping it was enough to keep the crowd going long enough to not notice the complete lack of venom or intent behind the insults.

oOoOoOo

After what felt like the longest day of classes Hermione had ever had to get through despite it being the shortest in her week, Hermione walked to lunch with Harry and Ron where she filled herself up on jacket potatoes, salad and a fruit cocktail. She laughed lightly as she continued to ignore the now rather boring whispers that were really not whispers at all, she smiled as groups of students walked past her, closer than was necessary to try and catch a quick glimpse of the curse they had heard about. When she had proven to her friends that she was indeed eating (since apparently they thought she was becoming far too thin) and was certain she had consumed enough food that would have had a bat hibernating for the winter, Hermione excused herself from the clutches of her house mates, flashed Cormac a smirk when she saw his head bent low, almost nose to nose with his meal and walked out of the great hall leaving everyone to assume she was going to the library like they thought she did every Friday afternoon.

Arriving at the room of requirement when the rest of the castle were still eating was as good as plan as any Hermione had thought, it usually worked. Nobody ever bothered to take any notice of what she was doing, happy in their assumptions that she was just going to the library. What Hermione had failed to notice however was that Theo and Luna had both sneakily followed her through the corridors. Lost in her own little world of peace and quiet after being subjected to the idiocy of her fellow students all day.
Not that it wasn't like Theo or Luna didn't know where she was going of course, had Hermione known she would wager that they knew exactly what they were doing and where they were headed which only left one question - why were they following her?
As she reached the last corridor that led to what looked like a dead end of a wall, Hermione paced three times as she asked for their regular room, her sanctuary. And, just as the door presented itself and she put her hand on the handle pushing it open, Theo and Luna emerged from behind a statue of a nameless knight and pushed her inside, following in behind her and closing the door before she had the chance to lock them out.

"What the fu.." She started to breathlessly shout as she was forced to hunch over in an effort to get inside quicker.
Upon turning to face her attackers and seeing just who it was Hermione relaxed a little before anger overcame her. "What the bloody hell are you two doing? Are you trying to kill me because I just spent half a week in a coma, you should have done it then!" She shouted.

"And you call me dramatic" Theo laughed before helping her stand upright again. "We just wanted to see the room." He insisted.

Hermione looked at Theo then to Luna, her doe eyed look and candid expression not settling Hermione's nerves a single iota since she never knew the girl to look any different. "You could have just, you know, asked." She hissed at him.

"Why would we do that? This way was much more fun!" Theo exclaimed before stepping further into the room and taking in the beauty and simplicity of it.

"Now look who's being dramatic." She muttered just as Draco opened the door and walked in. In all honesty she was surprised he was even able to get the door to show itself to him. Of course she knew as much about the room as one could and she had remembered to ask for her specific requirements but felt for sure that Theo and Luna had somehow botched that plan.

"Luna?" Draco asked as he saw the blonde witch stood in front of him "Theo?" said when he saw his best friend stood near the fire of the room. "What are they doing here?" He asked turning to Hermione with a furrowed brow.

"They 'wanted to see the room' and in the process nearly gave me a bloody heart attack."

"A what?" Draco and Theo both asked at once.

"Muggle thing. Never mind." Hermione answered with a shake of her head. It still amazed her how so many of the major muggle health issues could be eradicated by simple spells and potions. Not all of course but there were people surviving terminal cancer and brain haemorrhages could be easily fixed. Healing magic would never not find a way of enchanting her.

"Wait you said...No. No way Theo. Bugger off." Draco called over to his best friend, his voice raising in volume and ire.

"Oh come on mate, don't be like that. You won't even know-"

"Theo..." Draco said warningly.

"What am I missing?" Hermione eventually asked as she looked between her boyfriend's harsh glare at his best friend and her own friends never wavering smile.

"He wants to stay." Draco answered without taking his eyes off of Theo's.

"So let him" Hermione answered back as if it was the most obvious answer.

"He wants to stay the night." He reaffirmed.

Hermione looked between them both again and this Time Theo gave her a dazzling smile that she was starting to recognise as his 'charm the witches smile' "Ooooh" she said, finally realising. "Nope. Absolutely not."

oOoOoOo

Hermione and Draco argued against Theo for the better part of the next hour. And when Hermione thought she had finally won the argument by pointing out that there was only one bed and where on earth would they sleep if they did stay Theo had outdone her and closed his eyes. Almost immediately the bed that was in the room had vanished and in its place were two oak doors. That sneaky bastard!
So then they ended up in a battle of trying to out-witt each other against the room until finally, Hermione caved, too tired after having little sleep the night before and let them stay. It wasn't as if she had any rights to the room after all and really she didn't like the idea of them being forced to be apart when she knew how much Luna's presence helped Theo. Besides, they would have their own rooms so she figured it was a like sharing an apartment.

Hermione and Luna went into one of the rooms and undressed into their pyjamas, apparently she wasn't the only one who hadn't had a decent sleep in a while as the other three had almost immediately declared it a pyjama afternoon as soon as the fighting had stopped and began playing endless games of Wizard's Chess or reading pure unadulterated fiction until night drew nearer.
Once they had finished what snacks Draco had Theo had brought along with them Luna had declared that they would have lazy night in front of of the fire with hot chocolate and whatever warming meal Dobby could present them with. Nobody argued, all finally able to fully relax for the first time in a week. There was nobody in a coma to worry about, nobodies blood was draining faster than it could be pumped through. There were no head wounds or partial paralysis. No lying to Professors and mediwitch's. No secret missions to retrieve ancient books on healing dark magic and they no longer had to face the rest of the school in the 'first day back' sense. The stares and whispers would stop over the weekend, eventually the rumours too. Monday was going to be a whole new day that they each looked forward to with a small sense of trepidation. It was the start of a new chapter. Putting all of this shit behind them.

The four sat on rug in front of the fire and talked for hours on end, Hermione and Draco leaning back on the the couch behind them, snuggled close while Theo and Luna did their utmost to touch each other as much as possible and still keep things respectable and decent. Clearly she was still helping keep the migraines at bay.
This weekend they would spend together recuperating and on Monday morning they would walk into the great hall with their heads held high and carry on with their business as if nothing had happened.

Well, that was the plan.

Chapter Text

The rest of the weekend passed by in a blur of meals by the fire, reading for fun, sleeping in late and early nights as the two couples took the time to revel in the bliss that the room of requirement offered and the time to rejuvenate. They had two weeks left until classes stopped for the Easter holidays and just a week to get their Potions assignment finished, do their presentation and submit it all for marking.

The room had expanded somewhat to accommodate the new couple and extra chairs were placed at the slightly larger table while the rug grew and another leather couch appeared. The couch was just as worn and battered looking as the original one but rather than the deep brownish red that that one was this was a bottle green. It really added to the cosy feeling of the room, even the window had grown in size since they let their friends stay and the now more obvious view of the black lake and starry night sky really lent to the atmosphere of the room.
'Let them stay' was really just a loose term for being too exhausted to argue and knowing that the pair would the follow them there every chance they could. Hermione and Draco were powerless to stop it, it seemed.

On Sunday evening Theo and Luna - who had originally promised they would only be there for one night - had decided they would spend another night in what they had all now come to calling the 'Room of Sanctuary'. At one point Luna had noticed Draco's charmed coin and, thinking it was a Dumbledore Army gallon had launched into a whole spiel about the DA much to Draco's chagrin since he liked to avoid remembering that year where possible. When Hermione had finally been able to put her friend straight and explain about her and Draco's matching coins, the girl - who had not been in any way bothered by the idea of Draco having a DA galleon - had been just as fascinated at the idea as she had been when she had been given her original DA galleon. Theo and Draco had been playing wizards chess when Theo turned around and asked how she had thought of the idea in the first place.

"I've always wondered how you lot thought something like this up. How did you do it 'Mione?" He asked as he sacrificed a pawn and watched it be struck down by one of Draco's knights

Hermione turned from where her and Luna were sat on the couch, fiddling with the coin and chain around her neck as she remembered having a similar conversation with Draco when she gave him the counterpart. "I used it last year for the Dumbledore's Army. It helped us alert the members to when a meeting was and keep track of everyone."

Draco looked up and smirked at Hermione before going on to fake cough 'whisper' "Marietta Edgecombe" and fake cough again. Hermione grinned in response and turned back to Luna.

"Well, yeah but I meant how you got the idea the first time you tried it." Theo added as he stared intently at the board, no doubt mulling over his next move.

Hermione didn't say anything at first and instead sat twirling the chain and coin between her fingers while biting on her lip and staring out of the window lost in thought.

"'Mione?" Theo called. "Hermione" He shouted a little louder when she didn't respond.

"What? Oh, I'm sorry, what was I saying?" She asked a little flushed.

"You were about to tell us how you came up with the idea for those charmed coins, originally." Draco replied as he watched her with a worrying look on his face. It wasn't like Hermione to be elusive about anything or try to worm her way out of it and it certainly wasn't like her to stare out of windows almost wistfully. Something was wrong.

"I...well...it's actually quite simple when you really think about it. The idea behind it was the tricky part, I admit I stole that from someone else." She finally recalled.

"From who? I'm sure they wouldn't mind if they knew." Luna said with a smile.

Hermione looked at her friend and almost fell about laughing, she was thisclose to it. Instead she drew a deep breath and said "From Voldemort."

Just as she expected the three of them went into stunned silence so she decided to carry on, silences like these always made her much more chatty in a nervous kind of way. "The um dark marks only work the way they do because of a protean charm. Like I said it's really brilliant and actually rather simple." She was still twiddling her fingers around the chain on her neck.

"The dark mark? You-you used the dark mark and reversed the idea for you own needs to help the DA? You took his-" The way Draco said the word 'his' left no room for imagination, it was obvious who he was talking about."-twisted brand and made it your own? A charm that we don't even learn until N.E.W.T year despite you apparently figuring it out at fifteen? Merlin witch, have I ever told you how brilliant you are?!" He asked with a grin on his face.

After that Theo demanded his own coin and Hermione obliged, she still had plenty left anyway. She charmed two more for Theo and Luna and inscribed their initials much the same way as she had done hers and Draco's months prior. She did make one change though - the coins that were now active were able to all contact each other, individually and as a group. It was a tricky bit of magic but she managed to figure it out in the end. She gave her friends the password that they had been using for months and passed them on.

Exactly as Draco had done Theo took the one that said 'Property of T.N' on it and put around Luna's neck while Luna repeated the action on him with the 'Property of L.L' version and then demanded she hear the song the password was named after. The four spent the next hour dancing away to the modified radio that Draco had left there before retiring for an early night ready to face school the next day.

oOoOoOo

The next two weeks went by in a haze of stress induced studying. Whilst sixth year wasn't technically a test year for the students it was still the year that bridged the gap from O.W.L.s to N.E.W.T.s and therefore that meant a lot of work, especially before the Easter holidays started so that when they came back they could start on the last term of the year. Sixth year work was no piece of cake, anyone would tell you that. Half of it was boring and useless while the other half seemed to be about studying things they would never actually use a day of their lives. Still, needs must. So Hermione, along with Draco and Theo took to spending most evenings in the library still using the excuse of 'working on our assignments' if people ever stopped to wonder why the three were so often together these days.

That first morning back had not exactly been the best, the stares and rumours didn't cease over the weekend as Hermione had hoped. The pointing may have stopped but people would still whisper behind their hands while glaring in her direction. She did her best to ignore everything. She ate her dinner with her friends, putting on a brave mask of indifference, at least her house mates were not being so tactless. If a Gryffindor wanted to know something they would ask. Even Lavender Brown loved a good gossip but the girl was at least tactful about it and did it when Hermione wasn't around.

Six days after being released from the hospital wing Hermione was greeted with her picture plastered all over the front page of the Daily Prophet when an owl she didn't recognise flew into the great hall a little earlier than the rest and dropped a paper off in front of her without even slowing down before dropping another two off with Draco and Theo respectively and flying right back out. She suspected the owl was Rita's once she saw the headline.
Groaning as she opened the paper up to see what poor soul was that days headline and she was mysteriously being sent it when she had opted out years ago, Hermione found herself staring at a picture of herself.
Though not only was she staring at a picture of herself but it was herself in school. In the library. With Draco Malfoy and Theodore Nott. Sitting around a library table with what appeared to be smiles on their faces while they laughed at Godric knows what. Whoever had taken the picture (and Hermione had a pretty good idea of who the culprit was) had taken care to get it from an angle that showed little in the way of books, quills and school work on the table. Sure they were there, you couldn't sit in the library and not have something in front of you but the angle made it seem like meaningless pieces of parchment were strewn about in a careless effort to use it as an excuse to talk to the boys.
"MUGGLEBORN HERMIONE GRANGER SINKS CLAWS INTO WEALTHY PUREBLOODS"

"Well at least they got something right for a change." Hermione muttered as she stared at the picture.

"What's that?" Ginny asked as she looked over her friends shoulder. "Holy fuck 'Mi!" She exclaimed when she saw the headline.

As the owls started to pour in and more and more students received their mail the hall fell into an almost disturbing quiet as people looked between the Gryffindor and Slytherin house tables in various degrees of shock and tried to make some sort of sense in what they were seeing. Hermione caught Draco's and Theo's eyes just once each before opening up the paper to read the full article.

"I know you lovely lot just hate to read about our favourite muggleborn and how unfortunate things are but I feel it is my duty as a reporter to, well, report. Just last week I received no less than twenty-five owls asking if we had sorted the weeds from the mandrakes and figured out who Hermione Granger broke Harry Potter's and Roger Weasley's hearts for! Of course I told myself that we would do just that and then this little gem turns up. My source within the castle has had no trouble in telling me all about a tale of Miss Granger and young Mr Nott ending up in the schools hospital wing for most of last week. The unfortunate incident was apparently isolated and kept quiet but since nothing stays secret in Hogwarts I am here to tell you the tale of how muggleborn Hermione Granger managed to get two young princelings to fall for her charms and fall in love with her.

Let me tell you of a tale of a young Gryffindor outcast. A girl who nobody liked. A plain Jane with dreadful hair. Not exactly pretty and hardly enough brains to fill that dull head of hers. A girl who somehow, despite the odds had a boyfriend in Viktor Krum when she was fifteen. A girl who broke poor Harry Potter's heart when she inevitably dumped him for his best friend Roger Weasley because he wasn't funny enough or of pure enough blood. A girl who set her sights on the wealthy pureblood's in the Slytherin house and dumped Roger for being too poor.

Of course, she's using Amortentia to get the results she so desperately needs. No amount of charm could make any sane wizard fall for her without it - we have passed our information on to the Auror department in the Ministry of Magic to let them deal with the case but its undoubtedly Amortentia. My close friend and source has told me in detail how muggle born Miss Granger is often found with a vial of what looks like the highly illegal love potion in her hands and was once witnessed passing one of these vials to young Mr Nott where I'm told in no uncertain terms that he drank it all down before his whole posture and mood instantly changed and he went from the sullen, moody, withdrawn teenage boy that he was to the lovesick, happy go lucky one you see in the picture before you.

And then Draco Malfoy was witnessed on Sunday night walking around the castle with no shirt on and covered in blood. Now, while we don't know for sure that the young Malfoy heir was hurt in this unfortunate love triangle we do know that at this point he showed no signs of physical discomfort while emotionally he seemed broken. Whatever happened on Friday between the three of them remains a secret. A secret that I'm going to reveal to you all. Buy next weeks paper to find out what happened and where they are now."

Hermione squeezed her eyes together as tight as she could to stop the tears of frustration from falling before she scrunched up the paper and turned back to Ginny. "Four times today." She said before pouring herself a stronger coffee, she was going to need it.

"Four?" Ginny asked. "It was only three last time, I think you may have upset her." Ginny joked as they discussed how many times the term 'muggleborn' had been used in the article.

The Gryffindor's who had been reading the article started to go about their day again as if nothing happened - well, if all else fails you can always rely on Gryffindor's to act like nothing had happened she thought before finishing her breakfast and heading to Transfiguration. Thankful that she only had a couple more days until the weekend was back around and she could hide herself away in their room of sanctuary before having to start brewing their potion on Sunday night.

oOoOoOo

Naturally, Draco and Theo were furious after reading the article and Theo ended up going back to talking about the Cruciatus Curse before listing all ways he could think of to hurt her without getting caught. Hermione noted there were a lot of rather clever and imaginative ways to hurt the reporter, deciding that having a death eater for a father had probably rubbed off on Theo more than he liked to admit.
Thankfully they were able to wave the picture off, though how many people actually believed them was debatable. On the one hand one could argue that Hermione was at the library with Luna who could be seen just out of focus and on the other one could look at the damning evidence in front of them and decide that, for enemies, Hermione was for too friendly with the Slytherin boys. It was a fifty fifty split.

Draco dealt with the situation by pretending that even the mere thought he would consort with a filthy muggle born like Hermione Granger was preposterous and sickened him and noted aloud on many occasions how he had to shower just at the idea because it made his skin crawl. Of course he received a letter from his parents demanding an explanation so, with all the Slytherin-like traits he had in his arsenal, he wrote back and explained how he and Theo had both been paired with the dirty piece of scum for class assignments and how they had both tried to get out of them but had no choice. He explained that after he spent a few unfortunate and gruelling hours studying with the wench he had come to realise she was an asset. An asset that was close to Harry Potter and he thought he could utilise that for their lord. Theo sent a similar letter home when his father finally wrote to him in the form of a howler. Both boys were praised within their families and their house when the news spread and from that point on they were both able to been seen with the witch in public though, of course it wasn't nearly the same.

Ron had been furious when he saw the paper, the very idea that she could even sit at the same table as Draco and Theo sent waves of anger pulsing through his entire being. He would sit and tell her that without Malfoy she would never have been cursed by Harry. Hermione didn't listen.

The rest of the week passed by in a blur as the whispers and stares became a permanent fixture. No where she went was safe except the Room of Sanctuary so she took to spending as much time as she could there. Desperate to flee the gossips and mud-slinging rumours Hermione locked herself away with her boyfriend and their friends as she had the weekend before, swearing not to leave until Sunday night when they had no other choice.
Just after she finished lunch on the Friday afternoon Hermione and Harry walked up to the Gryffindor tower where the room was, thankfully, totally deserted. Harry ran up the stairs to the boys' dorm and appeared minutes later with his cloak and map, handing them over to Hermione with a grimace on his face since she needed it to be able to get out of the castle at midnight on Sunday night. With Malfoy.
In all honesty Hermione could easily have trudged back up to the tower at some point that weekend and retrieved the items then but Gryffindor's were the embodiment of party animals. They were hyenas and there was no way she was going to get in there and out without people seeing. Not on a weekend at least.
Thanking Harry she stuffed them both in her now full bag and the pair headed back out. Hermione towards the Room of Requirement and Harry, surprisingly, to the library.

oOoOoOo

The weekend was over sooner than any of them had wished and after two blissful nights without interruptions Hermione and Draco were ready to sneak out of the castle to get started on brewing their potion. Of course, they could have asked their professor for his permission to let to two teenagers be outside after curfew but since the past two weeks had hardly given either of them room to breathe outside of their sanctuary they had decided that sneaking out was the best idea.

The potion had to have been brewing for six hours on the first night of a full moon by the time the moon had reached it's highest point in the sky before the unicorn tears could finally be added. Hermione and Draco had waited patiently for this full moon to come around and since there were no more left before their finished product was to be presented the next day, they decided there was no room for taking chance and that included asking for permission to break curfew. They would be damned if Harry and Theo managed to score better than them again after all the hard work they had gone through since January to get this done. Modifying a potion wasn't easy by any means but modifying a potion as complicated as this one took a lot of hard work and more time than they should ideally be spending on one class project. So, at ten o'clock on that Sunday night the pair prepared to leave the castle, giving themselves exactly forty-five minutes to get to their chosen spot that gave the best view and most light so that they could have their potion brewing for the exact amount of time needed before the moon appeared at 4.45am and they could enter the last stages of the process.

As the pair prepared to leave after another one of Dobby's hearty meals and a few hours spent studying in front of the fire, Hermione checked the Marauders Map to see that everyone was either in their common room or heading those ways. It was still early so there were still more than a few roaming around just as she expected. She pulled the cloak out of her bag, something that Theo had taken a keen interest in when he first saw it and, after doing up her regular cloak and boots, waited for Draco so they could leave.

"Before you go" Theo called as Draco announced he was ready.

"Yeah?" They both asked as they turned to see Theo standing near the back of the couch, his fingers rubbing his temples. "Theo" Hermione began when she saw him.

"Don't. It's fine and Luna's here. I'll be okay Hermione." He said with a roll of his eyes. "But, before you go, I want you to have this." He said as he handed her a small vial full of golden liquid. "Take it." He insisted with a smile before moving closer to Luna, no doubt trying to alleviate the pain in his head.

"But this is-" Hermione began on a whisper.

"What?" Draco asked, having not managed to actually see the bottle or it's contents.

"Felix Felicis" She said in another whisper.

"What?" Draco's head snapped back up to his best friend and rose one of his perfectly shaped eyebrows at him questioningly.

"Look, I never should have won that anyway. We all know Potter cheated and you two should have won. It never sat right and, plus, I don't need any more luck" Theo said as he turned to look at Luna then kissed her sweetly "I've got all the luck I need right here." He murmured though it was no longer clear who he was talking to since he was staring into Luna's eyes.

"Luck eh?" Draco said as he turned to Hermione. "What do you say? Want to take this stuff for a spin? There's got to be enough in here for twenty four hours worth right?"

"That'll give us twelve hours."

"More than enough."

"Well, here goes then." Hermione said as she drank down half of the potion and passed the vial back to Draco.

Chapter Text

As soon as the door closed behind Draco and Hermione Theo sat back on the couch and breathed a heavy sigh of relief before bringing his hand back up to massage his temples again and closing his eyes in the process as he tried to muster some sort of pain relief just from that action, even if he did know it was fruitless.

Luna took one look at Theo and shook her head at him, knowing he was avoiding touching her on purpose. She drew her hand up and curled her fingers around his before pulling his hand away and guiding his head to her lap. He didn't protest. Either he knew better than to do so or he was just in far too much pain to put up a fuss. Luna knew he hated that he needed her so much, he wouldn't admit it but she could see it in his eyes every time he gave in and let her help. Little did he know just how much she needed him too.

Luna sat there and absently started to run her fingers through his hair while gently massaging his head, the few satisfied moans that escaped him were proof enough that she was helping in some way and that satisfied her. She hated seeing him in so much pain. Hated that all she could do was help alleviate it rather than fix the problem completely. Hated how it was only going to get worse. So much worse.

After a while the sense of relief lulled Theo into sleep and though he was still lying across the couch with his head in Luna's lap she didn't mind. She accio'd a book and decided to read for a while before sleep claimed her too.

oOoOoOo

As Hermione and Draco wandered through the castle, draped in Harry's cloak and Marauder's map in hand, they couldn't hold the giggles that had overcome them. Everything was funny. Pulling little pranks on everyone they came across was funny. First years hiding behind statues of century old wizards to stay out of the eyes of prefects, while Draco kept making it obvious somebody was there, fifth years ducking into an alcove to snog their latest loves goodnight - as Draco wolf whistled as loud as possible. Filch chasing after everyone and everything that moved - so Hermione sent a few jinxes and hexes throughout the corridors to have him go crazy trying to find who was doing it . Cormac McLaggen doing his head-boy rounds.
That last one probably gave Draco and Hermione the most laughs. Upon seeing their head-boy near the castle doors and needing to get out there too, Draco took it upon himself to play with him a little.
The pair approached him quietly, though they needn't have bothered since after all they did have luck on their side tonight. As Draco neared Cormac he pulled out his wand and softly whispered an incantation as he pointed it towards the older boys head. At the same time Hermione was busy charming the staircases to swing in the opposite directions than they were originally charmed to do and, just as Draco was finished turning Cormac's hair green, (typical she thought with a snort) she turned her wand to the knights that lined the walls and charmed them to break out into dance moves that would rival 'the robot' before the pair hurried outside, laughing as they heard Cormac's shouting behind them and running as far away from the castle as possible.

Once they were out of sight and, with a quick glance spared to look at the map that didn't show anyone close by, Hermione pulled the cloak off of them and stuffed it back into her bag as they carried on running. By now Draco was much further ahead, well, he was a seeker (or he used to be at least) and she 'liked books' as Ron would say, plus, she had given him a head start when she stopped to put the cloak away.
Hermione stood and watched Draco run for a few seconds before deciding to run after him, using a charm to prevent her falling and thus able to run faster.
Draco stopped near the black lake and bent over to catch his breath just as Hermione came bounding into him at a speed he had never seen in her, even when there was a particular new book in the library that she wanted to look at. He smiled at the thought as he held his hands out to catch her and she fell into his arms.

Hermione stood there, catching her breath for a moment before asking "Why did you stop?"

"I don't know, this place just feels right, you know?" He asked as he looked at the lake in front of them.

"We were supposed to go to the forbidden forest" She mused as she looked around. "But I know what you mean this does feel right" she added with a smile before moving to find a perfect spot and laying Harry's cloak on the ground to stop them getting wet from the damp grass.

They had intended to go to the forbidden forest for their brewing, after all, that was where they got the unicorn tears and since they had snuck out they had felt it was best to stay hidden. Apparently Felix had better ideas since they both agreed this was much better. Despite its obvious lack of hiding spaces if anybody did come nearby, on the plus side though, they would certainly get a lot of moonlight when the potion called for it just as the recipe demanded.

Draco was already pulling out his cauldron when Hermione was finished laying the cloak down so she helped him get the first ingredients ready and prepped before they started to brew at exactly 10.45pm.

The pair sat in a comfortable silence as they worked their way through the potion, Hermione chopped and Draco crushed. He scooped and snapped while she squashed and stirred. By the time everything was added in perfect order, stirred to perfection and left to simmer for the remainder of the six hours it would take until the unicorn tears could be added it was already 3.50am and they had barely an hour left to relax before the final ingredient could be added and the waiting could commence.

Hermione and Draco lay back on the cloak, closing their eyes briefly as tiredness threatened to overtake their bodies though fortunately they still had Felix on their side and tiredness really couldn't complete.

"Do you know much about Astrology?" Draco finally asked as he stared off into the dark night sky. The moon was out and though it wasn't at it's highest nor its fullest yet, it still cast a beautiful glow over him Hermione thought as she turned to face him.

"As much as anyone who has studied it at Hogwarts for the past six years." She answered as her gaze moved to focus on his lips.

"Don't make me laugh, you're seriously telling me you know about as much to do with Astrology as Potter and Weasley?" Draco laughed.

"Okay" Hermione began with a small laugh "Maybe a bit more than the average sixth year."

"Just a bit." He agreed.

"Why ask?" Hermione asked as she turned to look up at the sky again.

"Do you know that every Black has a constellation name?"

"Well, it was never spelled out to me but I've seen your family tapestry a few times. Except for your mother of course."

Draco turned to face Hermione then, his brow furrowed in confusion. "How have you seen my family tapestry?" He asked.

"I spent some of my summer holidays at Grimmauld Place. Sirius, your cousin, is Harry's godfather."

"I'd forgotten about that place." Draco admitted. "My mother practically grew up there you know, suits its name from what I've heard. So, what's he like?"

"Who? Sirius?" Hermione asked.

Draco nodded as he turned over on the cloak to face her better.

"He's" Hermione began as she tried to search for the right phrase to fit the man. "A product of his childhood" she finally settled on as she looked up at him with eyes that screamed 'just like you are' "He's, good and brave and, Merlin help anyone who crosses his path when it comes to people he loves. He has a hard time accepting love but gives it so freely. He adores Harry as if he's his own. Broke out of bloody Azkaban for him. Well, not specifically for him but it was one of the reasons. The time away, I think it killed a piece of him. But, he's also argumentative, biased - he seems to have a soft spot for me too - like maybe he wanted a daughter? He likes a good drink and rarely ever thinks before acting." Hermione admitted as she stared down to her torso.

"Department of Mysteries?" Draco asked.

"Yes, he, well, you know not him but Voldemort...Harry has this...connection? I guess we should call it. That he can't switch off with Voldemort and he used that to make Harry think Sirius was in danger. He's done it before. And what Harry had seen that time was real. Mr Weasley would have...he wouldn't have made it if not for Harry" Hermione said as her voice broke a little. "So" She said clearing her throat "When Harry got another, shall we call it message? That Sirius was hurt, naturally he jumped to conclusions. I'd been telling him for months he needed to turn the connection off somehow but I think Harry needed it. Like saving Mr Weasley had somehow given him vindication that it wasn't all bad, But I knew, I knew it would backfire and it did."

"What happened?" Draco whispered.

"We tried to contact him with Umbridge's floo but we were caught as you know and so with nothing else for it Harry got a crypted message to the only person left in the school who was part of the Order and when we were not sure if that would work we got desperate."

"The fake crying and secret weapon?" He asked with a smirk as he remembered that night.

"You knew it was fake?"

"Not then, I do now that I've seen you actually cry." He laughed as he threw pieces of pulled up grass in her face. "What was the secret weapon?"

"There wasn't one." Hermione admitted.

"But Umbridge..."

"Yes, the centaurs ran her out and Grawp stopped them taking us too." Hermione said with a smile.

"Grawp? Whose Grawp?"

"Hagrid's little brother" Hermione smirked.

"So, ignoring the half-giant has a brother that you used as a weapon; how did you get to the Department of Mysteries?" Draco had always been curious as to how the six friends had managed that task when he and the rest of the Inquisitorial Squad were still in Umbridge's office.

"We flew"

"You hate flying."

"I know. But Thestrals feel a bit safer than brooms." Hermione admitted.

"You rode Thestrals? To the Ministry? Six of you? Merlin, witch!"

"Luna's idea, of course."

"Of course. So, Black..."

"Sirius, yes well it was like I said, a setup. Sirius wasn't there but the Death Eaters were waiting for us.. It was an ambush. Of course Sirius came as soon as the Order heard what had happened and he very nearly fell through the veil when duelling with Bellatrix but luckily he stumbled and managed to catch himself in time." Hermione said as she recalled that painful night.

"Was.." Draco's voice cracked "was..." He started again "My father there?" He finally managed to asked.

"I...Draco please don't make me answer that." She begged as she turned to stare at the stars again.

"You just did." Draco muttered.

A few moments of silence passed between them before Draco asked "Who was it?" and Hermione wasn't stupid enough to not know what he was talking about.

"Nott. It was Nott" she whispered. "But it was...it could have been any of them. There were so many Death Eaters there that night, any one of them could have cast that curse."

"I know." He replied because, unfortunately, he truly did know.

"Does it bother her? Your mother I mean." Hermione asked after a silence pased between them.

"I think so. She say's it does. Her whole family are named after stars and she's named after a flower. I don't think she realises how special that makes her but she adored her sisters and always felt left out because of it." Draco answered.

"And what about you?"

"What about me?"

"How do you feel about being named after the dragon star?"

"It's...it's a big namesake to have. I always feel I should be more." He admitted.

"I can relate to that. My grandfather named me you know. My mother was called Helen and he would always call her 'the most beautiful woman in the world' like Helen of Troy. I think he would have liked a daughter, they were close. So, naturally I was named after the most beautiful woman's daughter...It's nice to know your name was so well thought out but at the same time it can be a heavy burden."

oOoOoOo

When Theo finally awoke it was nearly five in the morning and he had somehow managed to sleep the night away on the couch, in Luna's lap and no matter how much pain relief he got from doing so he couldn't shake the immediate guilt he felt when he glanced up and noticed she had fallen asleep too. Sitting up. Damn it!

"Luna?" He called quietly as he stretched a little, careful not to scare her. She'd already seen far more of the war than he would have liked and for as much as she was this carefree woman who oozed confidence and did what she wanted, she still had some reflexes and the occasional nightmares about the Department of Mysteries. "Luna? Baby?" He called a little louder as he took her hand in his and began to run his thumb along the skin there.

Luna opened her eyes and blinked a couple of times before focusing her eyes on Theo. "Hey baby" he called with a smile on his face. "Why didn't you go to bed?" He asked.

"You fell asleep." She answered as if it was already obvious.

"Why didn’t you wake or move me?" Theo asked as he sat up, noticing his head was much clearer now.

"You looked so peaceful and you obviously weren't in pain anymore and I didn't want to move you. Besides, I like sleeping with you." She yawned.

"Come on" Theo said as he grabbed her hand and dragged her towards their bedroom. Apparently they now had their own bedroom, a fact that didn't escape either of them.

"Where are we going?"

"You're going to lay in a comfortable bed for the next two hours so I'm not worrying about you being in pain all day." He insisted as he dragged her to the bed.

"I'm fine. I'm very flexible you know." She said with a wink.

oOoOoOo

As soon as 4.45am had arrived Draco's hand was ready to empty the Unicorn Tears in one by one as Hermione stirred, clockwise thrice and anti-clockwise once between each drop. When the full vial was added - there being the exact number of tears needed, seven - Hermione stirred some more before passing the spoon off to Draco who would finish the last round of stirring before they would leave the potion for one more hour until it was finally ready for testing.

Hermione and Draco both laid back on the cloak, lazily checking the map though more out of habit than anything else since nobody had come upon them in all the hours they had been outside and, considering they were out in the open, well, it's not like they would have been hard to miss. Especially with Draco's hair!

"Are you cold?" He asked her mischievously as they lay next to one another.

"No, it's actually quite lovely out. Why?" Hermione asked as her hand found his.

"I just thought I could warm you up." Her murmured as his mouth latched onto her neck and he started to press open mouthed kisses there.

Hermione squealed and griped down on Draco's fingers harder as he moved his free hand to her waist. "Well, I might be a little hot." She admitted as she bit the corner of her lip and smirked at him.

oOoOoOo

Luna stood behind Theo and, after waiting a second for his reaction, praying to whatever deity he chose to give him strength she imagined, she pushed him down on the bed so he was sitting there and moved to take off her - or rather his - pyjama shirt. She wasn't wearing anything on her legs as usual. Or a bra.

Theo's heartbeat started to increase as he sat and watched his girlfriend undress. "Luna" He croaked. "Luna what are you doing?" He finally asked, forcing himself to keep his eyes on her face and not to stare at the naked chest in front of him lest he embarrass himself.

"Showing you." She answered simply.

Theo warred with himself over whether he should ask these questions because, well, he had a naked girl right in front of him and it seemed a little wrong but at the same time he needed to know. "Showing me what?"

"How flexible I am." She answered matter of factly. "I do yoga in my spare time. I find it helps with the axlotin if you do it regularly."

"Sweet Salazar" Theo whispered as he closed his eyes, either he was trying to calm himself down or he was committing this very image to his memory. Probably both. "And you need to do that topless?" He asked when he finally opened his eyes.

"I figured you would enjoy it more like this." She answered before kneeling on either side of his thighs and sitting on his lap.

oOoOoOo

"Hot? I think I can help with that." Draco muttered between kisses as he started to pull on the hem of Hermione's jumper before she shifted enough to help him pull it over her head.
Draco stopped in his tracks to stare at Hermione as, while he had been eager to relieve her of the heavy woollen Gryffindor jumper she was wearing it appeared that her t-shirt had somehow managed to cling to her jumper and get itself stuck there leaving Hermione topless.

"What?" She asked, not the least embarrassed about baring her body as she thought she would be. Especially given that they were out in the open, in the middle of the night where anybody could walk by.

"Nothing." Draco said as his eyes roamed her bare torso, taking in as much of her milky skin as he could see, scars and all.

Hermione moved her hand to Draco's face and gently traced along his jawline before placing a finger under his chin and directing him to look at her. "Tell me what you're really thinking." She said as she looked into his stormy grey eyes.

"You're beautiful." He answered immediately without taking his eyes off hers. "So beautiful. I could look at you every day for the rest of my life and not get bored."

"I have scars." Hermione whispered as she tried to point out her flaws.

"You're brave too." He said in reply.

"Well, it goes with the territory of being a Gryffindor." Hermione smirked as she traced the stubble along his jawline.

"Your scars are beautiful, they're a reminder of who you are and what you fight for."

"And what's that?"

"Fairness, equality, light, friendship."

"And what do you fight for for Draco?"

"Love." He replied simply before leaning down and capturing her lips in a searing kiss.

 

oOoOoOo

"Luna" Theo said as he breathed heavily.
There she was, his girlfriend, his witch, sitting on his lap, topless and talking about how yoga helps with axlosomething or other and all he could do was mentally work through his Arithmancy homework so as not to embarrass himself even further.

Luna moved up a little as she found a more comfortable position before resting her weight back on Theo's lap. Her arms were on either side of him as she watched him intently, his eyes closed as he refused to look at her.

"Theo" she replied with a smile. "Theo, look at me."

"You're trying to kill me aren't you?" He asked as she chose that moment to transfer her weight right onto his aching cock.

With a smirk on her face Luna moved again, just the tiniest of movements but it was enough to force him to look at her.

"Luna, you keep doing that and I don't know how much longer I'll be able to control myself" Theo said as he looked at her, her cheeks flushed with a hint of pink and her eyes lighting up. He grabbed her hands, either to steady her or to stop himself from trying to touch her everywhere as she repeated the movement.

"Maybe I want you to lose control Theodore." She said and before he knew it he was pulling her head down in a kiss. A kiss that made him forget everything. Made him forget that they were two virgins who, despite the superstitions behind pureblood customs had never knowingly saved themselves for each other but were glad that they had. A kiss that momentarily wiped their memories and blocked out the world. A kiss that promised so much more that what lay ahead of them that night. A kiss that was as equally scary as it was blissful, burning and beautiful.

Luna pushed Theo down on the bed and when he didn't protest and instead pulled her closer to him she slipped one of her hands under his t-shirt and began to mentally map the muscles in his back while his tongue was in her mouth doing, Merlin only knows what it was that he was doing but whatever it was she wasn't ready for him to stop.

oOoOoOo

When they pulled apart minutes later, breathless and dizzy, Hermione stared at Draco, eyes dilated and hair messed up to the point where they both looked thoroughly shagged she let out a little laugh.

"What are you laughing at, wench?" Draco asked good naturedly.

"When...when did your t-shirt come off?" She asked through a fit of giggles. Really, he was far too pale and well, outside under the moonlight he looked even worse and she just couldn't help it.

"You took it off." He said as he tried to flatten his hair back down.

"Oh?" Clearly the kiss had rendered her forgetful too.

"I'll get you back for laughing at me." Draco laughed as he started to kiss that sweet, sensitive spot behind her ear that he knew made her mewl and moan before turning his attentions to the column of her neck and carried on south.

"O-h Dr...Drac-o" Hermione moaned softly beneath him as he continued his ministrations.

"You done laughing now?" He asked as he neared the bra strap on her shoulder before pulling it down with his teeth.

"Not even close." Hermione breathed out heavily as she moved her hands up to run her fingers through his hair and messing it back up again.

Once he was sure he had thoroughly kissed her shoulder and neck Draco moved on to the other side before repeating the same actions, leaving Hermione putty in his hands as he moved his hand around her back to undo the clasp of her bra.

oOoOoOo

Theo, noticing what Luna was doing helped her along and pulled his shirt off before rolling on the mattress so that she was pinned beneath him before he continued to kiss her and finally let his hands wander.
He slowly traced up the side of her ribcage from her waist, feeling the goosebumps that appeared just off his very touch made his cock twitch and strain against his trousers. As he moved to kiss her neck and collarbone he let his thumb skim the underneath of her breast as when she only gasped at the contact he did it again a couple more times before he decided to be courageous and just touch her properly.
When he rolled her nipple between his forefinger and thumb she arched her back and moaned a little so he took that as a good sign and squeezed her nub that little bit harder and watched in bewilderment as her eyes rolled into the back of her head and he decided he just had to see her like that again because it was deliciously sexy.

Theo adjusted his trousers a little to try and ease the pain so that he could focus his attentions on Luna when she decided that was the moment to open her eyes and noticed what he was doing. She sat up and, without a word started to undo the tie on his pyjamas before pulling them down.

"Luna" he said as he tried to warn her but she clearly didn't care because she didn't seem at all phased by the fact that he had no underwear on underneath and instead she scooted up the bed and waited for him to follow her.

"You'll be the death of me you know that?" Theo sighed helplessly.

oOoOoOo

As much as Hermione told Draco that she was warm enough, especially since they were outside in the middle of March in Scotland which was practically winter, her nipples were instantly hardened the second her lacy bra was thrown over Draco's shoulder, leaving him to wonder how on earth wearing such a contraption was comfortable at all. Not that he gave that thought much attention at all before his mouth was devouring her and sending shocks of pleasure throughout her whole body, forcing her to tense up and moan incomprehensibly.

It wasn't long until Hermione had had enough being Draco's toy and turned the tables on them, rolling over on the cloak they were using as a blanket and forcing him under her weight as she kissed a trail of sweet open mouthed kisses all along his body, on his nipples before briefly nipping at them and carrying on her agonisingly slow pace further down south to his belt buckle.
Hermione grabbed one of Draco's hands in hers as she entwined their fingers and dragged the thumb of that hand over his nipple while she sucked on the other and blew lightly, hardening it more.

"Mya...please" He bedded her as she grew closer and closer to his crotch.

"Are you begging me?" She asked without stopping as her mouth reached his belly button where she swirled her tongue inside.

"Unrghhhh." He moaned inaudibly.

"Is Draco Malfoy begging?" She teased as her tongue darted out to trace a line right down to the buckle.

"Could be." Was all Draco was able to answer before Hermione freed her hand from his and began to open the belt.

 

oOoOoOo

Theo crawled up the bed to follow Luna just as she had expected and just as he was about to ask her 'Are you sure?' she fixed him with a stare that even after six weeks of being together he knew far too well meant 'don't question me'. It's not like he didn't want this of course. For Merlin's sake the first time he had ever seen Luna he had had to relieve himself in a cold shower after barely even speaking to her because he couldn't stop thinking about those blue eyes that were the colour of a cloudless sky or those legs. Merlin her legs were fucking amazing and coupled with her school skirt was bad enough but spending the weekend with her where all she wore was his shirt and nothing else, well, that did things to a man. Things he often had to excuse himself for so he could take care of the problem himself.

Luna smiled tentatively at Theo as she reached out her hand to his face and kissed him softly, pulling him closer to her and laying down gently so that they were both laying in the centre of the bed. Him completely naked and her in just a pair of knickers and though this was the first time for either of them there was no awkwardness about it, no anxious fumbling, no embarrassment at baring their bodies to one another, no clumsiness or stiff movements. They were simply two people who truly loved one another and, despite the short time they had been together, they were two people who were utterly perfect together. Not exactly a whole unless the other was around. Never completely happy without each other. They were two pieces of one puzzle who just fit and, despite the odds, managed to find each other in the crazy messed up world they lived in and Theo would be damned if he was ever going to let her go so, despite the look she gave him he still asked "Are you sure?" because as much as he knew that she was sure, as much as he could see it in her eyes and the way she moved, he still needed to hear the words.

"I'm sure love" Luna replied softly offering a small smile instead of the scowl he thought he was getting because she knew he needed the reassurance.

And with that Theo grabbed Luna's hand in his, rested his forehead on hers and entered her slowly and deliberately, making sure to savour every second of the action as he, inch by aching inch, pushed deeper and deeper before he was fully nestled inside of her and, before he dared move another muscle looked into Luna's eyes and swore to himself he would cherish this moment above all. Luna looked positively gorgeous, laying there utterly naked, her usual expression of eccentric doe eyed ridiculousness was gone and even though Theo was quite fond of that expression and adored her for it he couldn't help but be mesmerised by the raw innocence he found himself staring at in that moment.

oOoOoOo

With Draco's belt and jeans off Hermione carried on her with her plan to get her wizard back by kissing along his waist before he had had enough and was leaning over her once again.

"Fair's fair Mya" He said as he tugged on her own jeans.

Hermione rolled her eyes at him but lifted her hips up off the ground anyway to help him get the offending item of clothing off of her. "Happy now?" She asked when she was lay there in just her knickers.

"Not even close. Why do you wear these things?" Draco asked as he played with the lace hem of her knickers.

"Why do you wear boxer shorts?" She shot back.

"Touche" He said before pulling her knickers down in one swift movement while looking at her with the most evil grin he could muster.

"Oh, you're such a child Draco Malfoy!" Hermione half shouted as he pinned her arms down to stop her attacking him back.

Unfortunately for Draco Hermione was the brightest witch of her age and she didn't need her hands to get him back or a wand for that matter since hers was somewhere near the cauldron behind them. As he leaned over her body, the moon acting as a halo to his ridiculously white hair and pale body, nestled at the apex of her thighs, Hermione smiled sweetly before dragging her legs up and, just as he thought she was going to wrap them around his waist she hooked her feet in the waistband of his boxers and pulled them down with his feet. "Fair's Fair." She echoed back to him

It was barely seconds later before Draco was entering Hermione's core, the action had become familiar between the two since they spent so much time sleeping in the room of sanctuary, though, with Theo and Luna in the room next to them it's not like they were able to do much since even with silencing charms and locking spells they were still a little unsure - something that Draco had promised he would change once Hermione gave him the chance.
Out here though they were just two people. They weren't Hermione and Draco, they weren't hiding from the rest of society they were just two teenagers who had found themselves feeling rather turned on due to the effects of liquid luck and a full moon. Out here they could be as wild and noisy as they might like since there was nobody around. Out here they could let themselves be taken by the beauty of the full moon and the black lake. The rich aroma of the potion and the scent of each other that filled the air. Out here they could be...together. In a public place. And while there might not be anybody around to witness it the thought was still exhilarating.

oOoOoOo

Theo watched intently as a look of pure rapture crossed Luna's face and, if he thought how she looked earlier was gorgeous this was nothing short of how he imagined a goddess to look and he absolutely was never going to get tired of seeing her make that face. Ever. He vowed that no matter what, no matter what life (or his father) threw at him he would always be there for Luna because she was everything and barely a second later he followed her as he spilled himself inside her and nestled his head in the crook of her neck as her name was drawn from his lips and he collapsed on top of her.

The pair somehow fell asleep within minutes, Luna was curled up in Theo's arms and their pyjamas were Godric only knows where but they were fully sated and deliriously happy as he nuzzled the back of her neck and said "I love you" before being lulled to sleep by the beating of their hearts.

"I love you too." Luna replied before closing her eyes and following him.

oOoOoOo

For each thrust Draco gave Hermione matched it with one of her own, each knowing exactly what the other would do, their bodies in sync though whether that was due to their familiarity with each other or the liquid luck they had drank hours earlier was undecided.
As Draco bet down and started to place feather light kisses along Hermione's breasts before capturing a nipple in his mouth she moaned his name louder, her fingers digging crescent shaped marks in his shoulders before she loosened her grip and started to scratch down his back, totally oblivious to what she was doing.

Before long Draco was covered in a sheen of sweat, the overwhelming need to be with Hermione right there and then had taken it's toll and fatigue had caught up with him. It was obvious he was exhausted so Hermione pushed him lightly before rolling him over and straddling him, taking his cock inside her as she rocked back and forth, slowly and purposely before she could feel his thighs harden beneath her and felt herself begin to flutter.

Draco lay there and watched Hermione, from this angle she was exquisite - not that she wasn't anyway but with the moon fading behind her as the sun began to rise he couldn't remember ever seeing anything more beautiful. He moved his hand in between them and, upon finding her clit, began to rub slow and deliberate circles as he felt her muscles tighten around him before he touched her deep and rubbed hard and he felt her orgasm ripple through his own body as he followed her.

Afterwards the pair were laying on the cloak (that Hermione made a mental note to find a decent cleaning charm for before she gave it back to Harry) as exhaustion started to set in and the continued to watch the sun rise over the lake.

It was a good ten minutes later when they were laying there, still completely naked, where out of nowhere they heard somebody whistling

"Weasley is our King,
Weasley is our King,
He didn't let the Quaffle in
Weasley is our King.
Weasley can save anything,
He never leaves a single ring,
That's why Gryffindor's all sing:
Weasley is our King."

Horrified, Hermione tried to cover herself up as adequately as possible but when she realised her clothes were too far away and she didn't want to attract attention to herself Draco rolled over and covered her body with his own, she was still visible but if anyone did happen to see them, well, all they would see is a bare arsed Draco Malfoy lying on top of her and though it was obvious she was naked they wouldn't see anything. Not that people would be at all bothered about looking if they did stumble upon them that is since Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy naked under the sunrise was enough of a shock for anyone to deal with without adding bare body parts to the equation too.

Hermione started to giggle as she recognised Hagrid's voice singing the Quidditch chant that the school (except the Slytherin's of course) had all been signing the day before at the Gryffindor vs Slytherin match in which Gryffindor had won due to the dual efforts of the Weasley siblings.
Draco clasped a hand over Hermione's mouth to keep her from being heard as Hagrid emerged from behind a bush and carried on walking past them towards his hut, still singing and not seeing anything past the end of his nose.

Once he was out of earshot Draco released his hold on his girlfriend and Hermione burst out into a fit of giggles before he kissed her to silence her.

"Carry on witch and I'll do more than kiss you." He warned as he pulled away.

Hermione laughed again and, true to his word Draco did do more than kiss her this time.

oOoOoOo

The second go around was much quicker, it was rough and raw. It was pure fucking and when they fell back on the cloak that most definitely needed more than a few cleaning charms now, utterly spent Hermione cast a quick tempus charm to see how long they had left until their potion was finished.
When she realised they barely had five minutes she began to prepare the vials - they had adjusted the potion so that there was enough for seven vials. Seven Unicorn Tears, seven vials for testing and seven people to test it on. A mix as they had agreed of boys and girls, pure-bloods, half-bloods and muggle-born's. The best way to test is to use as many differing subjects as possible. The chosen six were Herself and Draco. A muggleborn and a pureblood whose family had been dated back to Merlin's time. Theo, another pureblood with a well documented family tree. Harry, a half-blood. The Potter family tree was well known the Evans' was not. Daphne, another pureblood with a well documented family tree and Ron, another pureblood who everyone knew where he came from. It wasn't the widest range of testing of course. There were four pure-blood's and just one each Muggleborn and half-blood but since Hermione wasn't really sure if the potion would work on non magical blood she decided to use more pure-blood's. Plus, they needed a few well documented family trees so that when the potion worked they could prove it had worked. Simply using herself wouldn't have the same effect. The last vial was for Slughorn of course, for the purposes of marking and testing.

As Hermione held out the vials Draco filled them one by one with the almost-purple-but-nearly-translucent potion and, just as Hermione put the stopper on the last bottle and placed all but one in a safe box that was lined with protective enchantments to stop them breaking somehow, Draco flicked his wand and their cauldron and supplies, banishing them to his room to be cleaned later before pulling out a blank piece of parchment and, using his wand to cut his finger enough to draw blood, put one drop of blood in the potion before he watched it bubble and turn sea green.
"Well, this is it" He said as he turned to Hermione "Three months of hard work. It better bloody work." He joked as he poured the green potion across the parchment and, as he dipped his quill in the liquid, they both watched in amazement as it moved of it's own accord and started to write.

DRACO LUCIUS MALFOY - SIBLINGS NON - WIFE NON - CHILDREN NON

PARENTS - LUCIUS AND NARCISSA MALFOY NEE BLACK

MATERNAL GRANDPARENTS - CYGNUS AND DRUSILLA BLACK - CHILDREN - BELLATRIX LESTRANGE NEE BLACK - ANDROMEDA TONKS NEE BLACK NARCISSA MALFOY NEE BLACK

PATERNAL GRANDPARENTS = ABRAXAS AND MATILDA MALFOY - CHILDREN - LUCIUS ABRAXAS MALFOY

"Wow" Hermione whispered as she stared at the words on the parchment.

"Wow." Draco agreed.

After a few minutes of stunned silence the pair decided it was best to hurry up and get dressed. It was already after seven in the morning and though they still had luck on their side for another three hours they couldn't very well lay outside, naked, when classes would start soon and people would be coming outside. No matter how much liquid luck you drank, nothing could remedy that situation.

They hastily redressed themselves, leaving just enough time to get back to their dorms and hopefully sneak in with time to shower and change into their uniforms before heading back to castle, hand in hand.

Chapter Text

Since they had luck on their side for a little while longer Hermione and Draco both managed to sneak into their dorm rooms totally undetected where they each accomplished showering and dressing before heading to breakfast with the first of the early risers.

Breakfast was a dull affair and thus a welcome break from what had become their new normal, nobody looked or pointed. No one cared, whispered or spread rumours, it was as if the past few weeks had been forgotten. As if Rita Skeeter's article had never happened. It was bliss.

It continued to be blissful for the rest of the day. The liquid luck ran out at exactly ten that morning but, having been prepared for being up all night anyway, Hermione and Draco had both remembered to bring Pepper-Up potions with them that weekend and so they were fully prepared, they would just have an early night to catch up on their sleep. Or so was the plan.

Hermione had double Advanced Runes that morning where she was met with an unusually happy Theo. Of course, these days he was usually smiling unless the Daily Prophet printed more tripe. This smile was different though.

"What are you so happy about this morning?" Hermione asked as she took her usual set next to him.

Theo turned his smile into a curled up smirk as he tried (terribly) to deny being happy. "I'm not. This is how I always look."

"Yes, and I'm the best flier in England." Hermione replied with a roll of her eyes.

Theo didn't say anything else as he pulled out his books and purposely avoided her narrow eyed glare.

"If I see Luna today, on a scale of one to ten how happy would she be?" She asked.

"Luna's always happy about something." Theo replied as he flicked through a text book.

"Theo" Hermione growled.

"Fine. She was very happy this morning. Satisfied even." He smirked.

"Oh, gods." She muttered.

"Don't look at me like that 'Mione! Besides, I know for a fact that she's not the only witch feeling satisfied this morning." He said as he winked at her.

"But...Luna's-" She started before he cut her off.

"'Mione I'm not playing around here and I think you know that. I love her. This isn't a game to me." He said just as professor Vector walked in.

"I know." Hermione whispered before the pair settled down to work on their assignment and the rest of the class passed by without a hitch
Charms was their next lesson and one of Hermione's favourites, the hour and fifteen minutes allocated on Monday mornings just never seemed enough and before she knew it was walking arm in arm with Harry to lunch where she spent the hour catching up with her friends, ignoring any and all talk of quidditch and telling Ginny all about her night under the stars.

"Are you ready to submit your potions?" She had asked them as the anticipation began to set in over submitting their work.

"We have until Friday 'Mione, why would we be ready?" Ron asked around a mouthful of chicken.

Hermione stared at her friend in disbelief. Friday was Good Friday. "Ron" she said almost scarily "Friday is Good Friday, term finishes on Thursday."

"Wednesday, then." He said with a shrug.

"We don't have Potions on a Wednesday Ronald! It's Monday's and Friday's!" Hermione almost screeched.

"Shit!" Ron mumbled before picking up his glass of pumpkin juice and draining it. "I better go and find Pans." He said as he ran off.

Hermione, Harry and Ginny stared after their friend in open mouthed shock.

"Did he just?" Harry whispered.

"He did." Ginny agreed as she nodded her head dumbly.

"He called Parkinson 'Pans'. Not even Pansy, he called her Pans. Good Godric, has hell frozen over?" Harry asked in all seriousness as the trio followed Ron with their eyes as he approached Pansy Parkinson in the great hall and talked to her and she didn't pitch a fit. Ginny turned to look at Lavender to decipher her reaction and nudged Hermione and Harry when she found her glaring at the pair, a fork unknowingly bent in her hand as she somehow channelled her anger and magic into the metal utensil.

"Well, ignoring the hippogriff in the room" Harry began with a laugh.

"Yeah, how are you and Theo getting on?" Hermione asked, eager to change the subject.

Another Pepper-Up potion was needed before they went to Arithmancy, by which point Hermione was almost dancing with excitement, ready to submit her potion and show Professor Slughorn just how well her and Draco had done. There was no way on this planet that Harry could out do them this time.

Arithmancy went much slower, the second pepper-up potion had been only the same strength as the first and since she was so exhausted the only effect it was having near the end of the class was keeping her eyes open as if there were invisible matchsticks holding her eyelids up and her heart rate was beating far too fast.
Against her better judgement she took one more potion as they headed to their last class of the day, Potions. Eager to get it over with so she could collapse into bed and yet still excited to show off her potion skills.

The class began as usual, Slughorn telling the class of another one of his old students and how amazing they were doing before he started to call the pairs up to demonstrate their work. Daphne and Seamus were first and, as suspected it took barely two minutes before whatever it was they were brewing went up in flames. The class laughed, Hermione included since by this point she was bordering on delirious and the pair gave their class mates a curtsy and bow respectively before handing a vial to a belly chuckling Slughorn and retaking their seats.
Lavender and Blaise were next, the class watched as Lavender flirted with Blaise while he tried to explain the in's and out's of their hair colour changing potion while Lavender modelled it. Unfortunately when the witch had said her hair should change from green to red it got stuck and no amount of charms would remedy it and the pair were laughed back to their seats. Blaise took it like the Slytherin that he was and bowed just as Seamus had done before taking his seat with a smile on his face though that was probably more at the sight of Lavender getting flustered since the witch had grown red in the face and was shouting to Merlin and Godric and stamping her feet like a witchling.

The rest of the class were called up pair by pair as the remaining students oooeh and aaaahed or held their sides as stitch inducing giggles over took them as they watched people testing their own or even other peoples' potions.

There were three couples left and only twenty minutes before the bell rang to signal the end of class when Ron and Pansy were called up.
The pair stood there and, despite Ron insinuating that it wasn't completed, they actually produced a potion. Pansy called Millicent Bullstrode up, the girl had been suffering from acne for years and no matter what she tried nothing had ever worked.

Pansy explained the potion and the effects as Ron passed it to Millicent and, upon drinking it (though she did need some encouragement since this was Ron Weasley and Pansy Parkinson after all) her complexion began to pale and, within minutes she was spot free. The class clapped and cheered the pair as Ron passed a vial to Slughorn as the pair grinned at each other and retook their seats.

Draco turned to Hermione with a raised brow and a nod to their friends as she shook her head and Harry and Theo were called up.

Harry and Theo's presentation was much quicker and rather smooth since there wasn't much you could do in presenting an allergy potion, nobody was particularly sneeze-y that afternoon and so they administered it to a couple of the students who claimed they suffered from pollen induced allergies and were told to report back to them and Slughorn by the end of the week with their prognosis. They handed a vial to their professor and sat back down to a round of applause.

Hermione and Draco were last, there was only five minutes left of the class and since it would take that just to explain the complexities of their potion Draco began with warning them it was their own fault for taking too damn long before he explained the potion in as much detail as quickly as possible.
Hermione carefully pulled out the charmed box she had placed the vials in and, taking out five blank pieces of parchment she walked around the class to the four chosen students who had no idea what was about to happen and dropped a piece of parchment in font of them.

"You may be wondering why we have chosen so many test subjects and why we have chosen you particularly." Draco said as he addressed Harry, Theo, Ron and Daphne. "Well, the thing is we decided early on that this potion needed to be tested against a pureblood who's family has been well documented. It meant that we were able to verify if the potion was right or not. If it worked, of course. I tested it last night but since it wasn't witnessed one could say I just wrote my family's history out so we chose a few more. Granger wanted to use as many people as we could. She wanted people of mixed blood to test it to see if there were any difference." Draco said with a roll of his eyes that was playful but he played off as exasperation. "So she will test it against muggle-born's, Potter against half-bloods and the rest of you are from well documented pureblood families." He finished.

The class went silent in awe, it was easily the most complicated and intricate potion that had been presented.

"What do we have to do?" Daphne asked as she stared at the blank piece of parchment in front of her.

Hermione walked between the tables and passed a vial off to her friends, leaving two in the box. One for herself and on for Slughorn. "Use your wand to draw a drop of blood and add it to the potion. Wait for it to finish bubbling before you empty the contents on the parchment then simply dip your quill in it and watch what happens next." She answered with a smile.

The class was deadly silent as Hermione explained how to work their potion and the four students nodded almost absently as they all stared at their parchment.

The bell rung out but nobody made to move. The first in Hogwarts history on a Monday afternoon.

"Well, here goes." Ron muttered as took the lead and used his wand to draw a drop of blood. As the potion fizzled to sea green just as Draco's had he healed the cut up and, while the rest of them were following his lead he poured his over the parchment, dipped his quill in and watched in amazement as it began to write the Weasley family history for the past three generations.
It took a while of course since Molly and Arthur had seven children before going on to the Weasley and Prewett's before them but there was no doubting that the potion wasn't wrong.

"Bloody 'ell 'Mione." Ron muttered as he stared at the finished piece in front of him.

"What?" She asked as she jumped up from her seat, she hadn't even cut herself yet to add the blood.

"Nothing. You're amazing that's all." The class began with cheer and wolf whistle to the two students and their accomplishment.

Draco cleared his throat as if to say that Hermione wasn't the only one working on their joined assignment but Ron only glared at him though it didn't have any of the usual malice behind it and hadn't since that night outside the hospital wing.

"It worked?" She beamed.

"Of course it worked." Draco said with all the smugness of a Malfoy.

"Sorry to put a downer on things but mine's wrong." Harry interjected and the pink potion he had emptied on the parchment dissolved.

"Wrong? It can't be wrong Potter, it either works or it doesn't." Draco said though his interest was piqued. "Maybe you just don't know your family as well as you thought you did." He added with a shrug. It was a possibility of course since he didn't even know who he was himself six years ago.

"Well, I'm pretty sure I would know if I had a sister." Harry dead-panned

The room fell into such a silence that you could hear a pin drop for miles.

"A sister?" Hermione whispered in shock.

The class started to whisper.

"Mine's wrong as well. Apparently I have a sister too." Theo added.

"And mine, though while we all know I already have a sister this says I have a cousin." Daphne added as she looked at Theo wide eyed.

Hermione and Draco paled and the class was still silent when Harry added "Half sister, actually." He read the parchment once more before turning to Theo and saying "Apparently we share a sister."

"Apparently so." Theo replied.

Everyone stared at the two boys in confusion until someone asked "Could the potion be wrong? Could it have been contaminated?" Draco wasn't sure who had asked but he answered anyway.

"No, the potion was fine for me and Weasley and all of the vials were brewed at the same time.. It's not wrong. If anything the potion wouldn't reveal anything if it didn't work. This...this is just..."

"Disturbing?" Blaise suggested. Draco nodded.

Hermione moved towards Harry and Theo's table wanted to get a better look at their parchment but was stopped as Slughorn got there first. "Well, well, well" the professor chuckled. Hermione moved to Daphne and Seamus' table and instead picked up her parchment as she looked at the Greengrass family tree for herself.

DAPHNE ROBYN GREENGRASS 1/10/1979 SIBLINGS - ASTORIA CLOVE GREENGRASS - MARRIED - NON- CHILDREN - NON

PARENTS - WILLOW AND REX GREENGRASS - CHILDREN - DAPHNE AND ASTORIA GREENGRASS

MATERNAL GRANDPARENTS - WILLIAM AND CLOVE GREENGRASS - CHILDREN ROBYN NOTT NEE GREENGRASS - CHILDREN - ADALINE ALLEGRA GREENGRASS AND THEODORE WILLIAM NOTT
WILLOW GREENGRASS - CHILDREN - DAPHNE ROBYN GREENGRASS AND ASTORIA CLOVE GREENGRASS.

PATERNAL GRANDPARENTS - HORATIO AND OLIVE GREENGRASS - CHILDREN - REX GREENGRASS.

"Well, um...congratulations? I guess?" Hermione mumbled as she stared at the parchment.

Hermione was pulled out of her thoughts about how they probably should have warned the class that this could happen though it's not like they knew it would happen or even thought it was possible before the sound of Harry cursing brought her back.

"Sweet mother of Merlin" Harry gasped as he grabbed the two pieces of parchment back out of Slughorn's hand and his eyes roamed first one sheet and then another and back again before he closed his eyes, took a deep breath and said, as calmly as he could muster, "Hermione, do your potion."
The class fell silent again when they heard his tone but Hermione stood frozen to the spot. She didn't like the sound of his voice and something in his expression made her stomach want to come out of her mouth. She stood there idly and asked "Why?"

"Because" Harry said as he took a deep breath and Theo looked over the shoulder of his not brother but his unknown sisters brother? Sister sharer? He wasn't quite sure. "Because this has the dates of my parents' death on." He stated calmly.

"Well, so it should Harry." Hermione was confused, what did death dates have to do with anything?

"Yes, well, there is no date of death for my...our - sister" He corrected as he turned to look at Theo. "Just her birthday. She's still alive."

"What's that got to do with me doing the potion?" She asked.

"Her birthday...her birthday is September nineteenth."

Hermione sucked in a breath before going on to say "That could just be coincidence Harry."

"September nineteenth nineteen seventy-nine." Theo corrected as he stared at her. "There are no other witches in our year with that birthday and, well, she could have been a squib but with two magical parents the probability is that she wasn't..."

"Do the test Hermione." Harry commanded as he handed her a quill.

Hermione walked numbly to the front table where her and Draco had let their things out and, as she tried to use her wand to cut her hand Theo came up behind her and used his own to make the cut. "No pressure." He told her with a genuine smile as he held her finger over the open vial and they watched it bubble and change into the same sea green colour as everyone's but Harry's had.

When Hermione had first seen that Harry's potion hadn't changed to the sea green as she expected and the rest of the testers' had she had assumed that it changed due to the different blood types. Sea green for pureblood. Pink for half-blood and maybe orange for a muggleborn? She wasn't sure but figured there was a connection. Her's though, her's was sea green, just as all the other pureblood's had been and that made her pale instantly because she knew, just knew...

Harry came to Hermione's other side as Draco stood on the other side of the table facing her and, as Theo emptied the vial on the paper Harry guided her to dip her quill in.

"What are you hoping for?" She asked, either stalling or genuiely wanting to know.

"A sister." Both boys replied without giving it any thought

In the end the decision to actually go through with it and find out if she was in fact the same child that was on three of their family trees was easy. She was Hermione Granger, she was curious by nature and she knew it would eat her alive not knowing the truth. She knew she needed to know. Her mind would never rest and even if she was in a class full of people, everyone of the staring at her, waiting with bated breaths to find out what would be the juiciest bit of gossip since Harry Potter re-entered the wizarding world six years ago she finally decided to 'fuck them' and dipped her quill in. Hermione wasn't sure what swayed her in the end but as she felt her magic thrumming through her entire being she felt her hand move closer and closer to the potion splodge on the parchment as if it were a magnet. She was drawn to it, her mind, her body and her magic and she just needed to know. She needed to know now. So she dipped her quill in and watched the potion dissolve and the quill begin to write.

She held her breath in anticipation as she saw the name HERMIONE JEAN GRANGER spelled out. She wanted to breathe a sigh of relief but something inside told her it was too soon and, just as she was going to ignore all of those instincts and her buzzing magic the quill continued. ADOPTED NAME. WAS ADALINE ALEGRA GREENGRASS.

She held her breath as a single tear tracked down her cheek and she watched the quill continue.
When it was finished her family history was nothing as she had expected, she had assumed it would say Richard and Helen Granger, have her Grandparents William and Mary and William and Mary and she would laugh because her grandparents had the same names and smile at the memories that were sure to resurface and maybe cry a little since none of them were around anymore but what she got was a whole new identity. Her life had been a lie.

HERMIONE JEAN GRANGER - ADOPTED NAME. WAS ADALINE ALEGRA GREENGRASS - SIBLINGS - HARRY JAMES POTTER AND THEODORE WILLIAM NOTT.

MOTHER - ROBYN GREENGRASS - CHILDREN - ADALINE ALEGRA GREENGRASS AND THEODORE NOTT
FATHER - JAMES POTTER - CHILDREN - ADALINE ALEGRA GREENGRASS AND HARRY JAMES POTTER

MATERNAL GRANDPARENTS - WILLIAM AND CLOVE GREENGRASS - CHILDREN ROYBN NOTT NEE GREENGRASS - ADALINE ALEGRA GREENGRASS
WILLOW GREENGRASS NEE GREENGRASS - CHILDREN - DAPHNE ROBYN AND ASTORIA CLOVE GREENGRASS

"I guess that settles it then." Theo said with a smile. "Hello sis."

The class gasped audibly as he moved to hug her just as her features started to change.

Hermione had known something was going on with her magic, she had felt the beat and the thrum and the buzzing was so loud it felt like a bee was in her ear but she had ignored it thinking it was instinct spurning her on. Now she knew better. It was the potion. Her magic was reacting to the potion and now that she had used it she felt a deep release coming from her very core. It was as is a huge weight was lifted. She felt it in her toes, felt the feeling seep through her entire being as if pouring honey. It felt, right, somehow. When the feeling finally stopped moments later Hermione already knew something was different, her hair definitely felt different and out of the corners of her eyes she could tell it wasn't brown and fuzzy anymore, unless whatever had just happened had rendered her colour blind.

She reached up and touched her still curly but nowhere near as wild hair that was as raven black as Harry's and longer than it had been before. "I guess I got the Potter hair." She joked and Harry laughed as he hugged her.

"How do I look? She asked nobody in particular.

Theo took one look at his newly acquainted sister and moved to the other side of the room as far away from her as he could without sparing her a second glance.
Before Hermione had the chance to mull over his reaction Daphne interrupted her and said "You got the Greengrass eyes and you're a little paler, with less freckles. That's it. Except..."

"Except what?" Hermione asked as she bit her lip and looked over at Theo who had his head in his hands.

"You're spilling out of your shirt a bit. I think this requires a shopping trip don't you, cousin?" Daphne grinned as she leaned in and hugged Hermione. "Don't worry about Theo, He'll be fine." She whispered.

"What's wrong? Did I do something?" Hermione asked as tears formed in her eyes. She was certainly overwhelmed.

"No...it's just...you look like her, you know? The hair is the wrong colour but other than that...you're the spitting image of her and, I guess that's hard for him. He adored her, we all did." Daphne whispered as the two girls broke down into tears.

Chapter Text

Willow Greengrass had been back from Italy and her trip around Europe for just over a week when everything changed.
For the past three years since her two teenage daughters had been in full time education and her dear husband had passed away she had spent her time and money trying to rectify the one wrong in her life. Finding her niece.

She had been newly married when her twin sister turned up on her doorstep sobbing her heart out all about how she was pregnant. Pregnant and unmarried even. It was the worst thing that could happen to a girl back then. Their family was part of the Sacred Twenty-Eight and both girls had been raised as perfect pureblood princesses, they had wanted for nothing. They had learnt how to perfect the art of aristocracy before they were five years old and the one main rule that had been drummed into them was never to have sex out of wedlock. A woman's virtue was her gift to her husband, it was his prize - one that he paid dearly for when a dowry was involved but a prize nonetheless. Willow and Robyn Greengrass both had dowries which had been settled the week they were born.

Many suitors had petitioned for the girls, or parents on behalf of their sons as was mostly the case and in the end two men had been found. Both were older than the girls though not by too much, and both came from pure-blooded Sacred Twenty-Eight families which meant their girls would keep things pure and right when they produced their heirs. Willow was the older sister of the two, she was fiery and fierce, had beautiful long blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. She was tall and slim and almost every man would turn his head when they saw her. She had been promised to Rex Greengrass, a distant cousin on her fathers side. Keep the money in the family his parents had suggested and hers has agreed. The wedding was set for the summer she graduated Hogwarts. She would be eighteen and he twenty nine. It wasn't a match made in heaven but Willow was sure she would grow to love her husband just as her parents had so she held on to that hope.

Robyn was slightly shorter and thinner than her sister, she had the same long blonde hair as Willow and a tiny spattering of faint freckles across her nose and though they looked a fair bit alike Robyn had her mother's green eyes rather than the Greengrass ones and for a while, when they were kids, it was the only way to tell them apart. Robyn was much more of an introvert than her sister, she was quieter and more curious by nature and though people assumed she was shy that was never the case. She just liked to work out her surrounds before she fully let herself be known. After her sister's betrothal was signed and sealed her parents acquired a husband for their younger daughter in one Rowley Nott, he was fifteen years her senior and their wedding was set for the Easter after her graduation. He was a direct descendant of Cantankerous Nott who was the wizard who came up with and documented the Sacred Twenty-Eight and so, as a result, and children she bore him would also be pure-blooded.
Had her parent's known that Rowley would offer himself up to an egotistical megalomaniac she was sure they would have still signed the contract since her 'virtue' brought them a pretty penny and the Nott's were widely known for being involved in acts of dark magic. She had been dreading it since the day she was told at her seventh birthday.

Willow, the strong and overprotective sister had begged Robyn to switch, proposed they used glamour charms and switch themselves. She knew her sister was no match for a man like Rowley Nott, she knew he could never love her or any child her sister bore him but she adored her twin more than anything on the planet and no matter what she tried to say or do she couldn't get her sister to agree. Even on her own wedding day, moments before she walked down the aisle and was bonded for life, Willow was on her knees, tears streaming down her face, begging her sister to just swap because she knew - though not what exactly - but she knew only bad things would come Robyn's way once she bonded herself to him and she couldn't bare it.

She bonded herself anyway. Rather reluctantly. It wasn't a particularly happy affair and the tears she shed were mistaken for happiness, and even if she danced with her new husband and father and father in law and managed to keep a smile on her face she still cried. She made sure to get a special dance in with her sister that day because she could already feel them being torn apart and she cried some more.

It's not like pureblood girls, Sacred Twenty- Eight or not, actually did keep their virtue. In fact most of them were no longer virgins after the end of fifth year, as though it was some rite of passage. The trick was to not get caught. And, since they couldn't sully themselves with anyone of lesser blood than themselves only pureblood boys would do so it's not like the boy's didn't know either. Or the parent's for that matter since they were young once too. Basically, as long as the girl didn't tell anyone or was caught and she pretended she was the perfectly untouched virgin while wearing white on her wedding day then nothing could go wrong.

Unless of course you got pregnant.

Oh fuck!

It was the end of January when Robyn stood there bawling her eyes out right into her sister's blouse and, when Willow finally calmed her enough to get out a coherent sentence she was shocked to silence when she heard the words 'drunken sex' 'old friend' 'drowning sorrows' and, worst of all, 'we forgot the charm'. A pit of dread grew in her stomach at the words and when she finally calmed her twin down she decided the best thing for it was to find out exactly what they were working with. She cast the pregnancy spell herself and, sure enough there was no mistaking the deep thrum of the heartbeat that came from Robyn's midsection. They were utterly screwed.

Willow took charge and owled their parents, said Robyn was staying with her and her new husband for a while to 'learn the ropes' on becoming a wife, it was an easy lie and one her mother would just eat up. Then she got to work in seeing if they could move the Nott and Greengrass wedding forward. There were spells, slightly dangerous spells but, desperate times called for desperate measures and Robyn was willing to try anything at this point - spells that could prevent labour for a couple of weeks. It would involve a little bit of blood magic and the baby wouldn't gain more weight, or, rather, the baby would gain more weight but a charm made it seem as if it hadn't. If they married soon and used those charms they could put the birth off for a few weeks and then pass the baby off as being born early. Glamour it if need be. Pass it off as a Nott. Except, Rowley Nott would not be moved on the wedding date and Willow was sure he just wanted to spend the next few months 'spreading his seed' on a buffet of as many witches and hags as would allow him.

So Robyn Greengrass was truly fucked. She was due to marry a man and bond herself to him for life in less than three months and she was pregnant with another man's child and there was no way out of either situation. Abortion was forbidden in the magical world, there were charms placed on girls at birth to prevent such things from happening and even if there wasn't it's not like she could just go to St Mungos and ask for one, glamours or not someone would figure out who she was. It was far too risky and going out into the muggle world, in the seventies, was terrifying. No, she was stuck. Stuck with no way out. She would have to have this baby.

A few weeks later Willow found out she was pregnant too and while Robyn was happy for her sister Willow couldn't enjoy it because their babies should be growing up together, they should be experiencing this together and instead Willow was forced to place a glamour over her sister's stomach, give her potions for nausea and try to pass of her cravings as old eating habits. It was hard, it was terrifying, but they fought each and every day.

Robyn kept a diary, written only in ancient runes to keep people from deciphering it and even if they could do that there were charms and protective enchantments so deep into the pages that unless Robyn had wanted you to see what was written all you would get was nonsensical runes that seemed to have no rhyme or reason.

It was Willow who came up with the plan to have the baby in a muggle hospital, Willow who suggested muggle adoption and a glamour charm and, after trying for seven months to come up with another plan, one where she got to keep her baby, Robyn relented. There was no other way. She could see it, she knew it, she believed it but she didn't want it. She wanted her baby. She had named her, bonded with her and grew to love her despite all the efforts she went through not to.

She had married Rowley Nott that Easter weekend despite her sisters best efforts, a few weeks after turning nineteen and, somehow, luck had fallen on her side since he was never home and she was practically living with her sister and brother in law. Her new husband was often overseas on 'business' though she knew that was death eater speak recruitment and revels. She didn't care, she didn't love him. Didn't want him. She blamed him for being the reason she couldn't keep her daughter and though it was irrational as it was hardly his fault, it wasn't as if he was even a decent person to begin with and Robyn began to think maybe she didn't deserve anything better. Maybe this was comeuppance for being 'loose'. Maybe it was payback.

She never told her sister in as much words who the father of her child was but she was sure her sister knew, she was sly and clever like that. The perfect Slytherin. She had told her about the night, explained how it had happened and with the wizarding gossip mill being so small it wasn't hard for Willow to figure it out. And, if that was enough, well, the full head of crazy raven hair was surely the biggest tell.

They had been really lucky when Robyn's waters had broken, Rowley had just dismissed his wife for yet another week in Europe for more 'business' and just as Robyn floo'd to her sister's home her waters had broken.
Willow had been more than prepared though. They had researched, the closest and best hospital, bought enough muggle clothing to last a week each, a few bits for the baby and found the best apparating spot as close to the hospital as they could. Willow floo called her husband Rex and said that Robyn was dragging her on a mother to be spa trip before baby arrived and she made a reservation for just in case anybody decided to check up on them.
They floo'd the to spa resort first and checked in, making sure to be seen by as many people as possible before Willow pulled out her wand and removed the glamours on her sister's stomach and began glamouring their faces. Hoping to shied their identity as much as possible. They changed into their muggle clothing before apparating to the hospital where, after seventeen and a half hours of what seemed like agonising labour without any drugs since neither girl knew enough of muggle drugs to consent - and the midwives didn't leave her side so Willow could administer a pain potion to her sister - the first Greengrass grandchild was born.

She was a strange shade of purple, covered in blood and some awful white mucus stuff and with a full head of hair and a pair of lungs that were more than developed as she screamed the room down and her mother and aunt sobbed their hearts out. She was truly beautiful, like nothing in the world they had ever seen which made the next few days even harder.

Adaline Alegra Greengrass was born on the nineteenth of September 1979 at ten past seven in the evening weighing 7lbs 9oz and she was a true angel. She was placed to her mothers breast and latched instantly, she suckled and swallowed on the nipples offered for as long as so could, neither her nor her mother wanting to stop.

Once the birth was over and Robyn was cleaned up the two ladies and baby were left alone where Willow placed a strong glamour on her niece. It would tie itself to Adaline's magical core. Willow didn't make a lot of changes, the hair she made lighter and wilder, the eyes she darkened. She gave her more freckles and changed her skin tone a few colours. Overall she was still Adaline. The glamours couldn't go into effect right away of course, the nurses would notice instantly that the raven haired babe they had delivered was now a lovely chestnut colour if they stumbled upon it so the charm was a gradual one, one that would take a couple of weeks to fully take effect.
That night Willow checked in to the nearest muggle hotel with what little muggle money she had been able to convert (and it turned out to be a lot) in her research leading up to this week and every morning she would wake, have breakfast and then go and spend her day with her sister and niece. She would bring Robyn some new muggle food every day. Cadbury's chocolate one day, bon-bon's the next and so on. The pair enjoyed trying each new muggle sweet. The bond between mother and daughter and auntie and niece grew stronger and more fierce each day and, as the sun would set each night, the two women grew sullen and sombre as the babe slept in one of their arms.

On the fifth night Robyn had asked her sister to be her daughters magical godparent. Magical godparents were apparently different to the muggle role with the same name (sans the magical part of course) Willow was humbled and graciously accepted though in hindsight it's not like anybody else could have done it since nobody else knew Adaline even existed.

They performed the bonding ceremony that night. Thankfully a magical godparent ceremony didn't involve ministry official or paperwork. In all honestly it was much closer to an unbreakable vow and, in so many ways it might as well be. It tied ones magic to a child the same way a wife may tie herself to her husband. For life. There were various ways of doing it of course but the Greengrass sisters chose the traditional way once they were certain they wouldn't be caught.

Willow swore to protect and love her niece at all costs. She swore that if she found her niece before the time was right she would let sleeping dogs lie. She swore she she would always do right by her and if Adaline was ever revealed in the wizarding world she would stay by her side no matter the consequences. She swore it on her blood, her magic and her life.

The small 'ceremony' was over nearly as soon as it began and once the bond was sealed the two women broke down into sobs. The next day Robyn enquired to the midwives about adoption and social services were called once they realised she was serious.

On the seventh day they apparated out of Robyn's room after kissing the baby goodbye and promising to see her again one day. They apparate back to their spa room where they changed and removed their glamours before checking out and flooing home. Willow had already gotten potions ready for her sister to dry up her milk and lessen the post-partum bleeding as much as possible and, after administering them both and an extra strong pain potion mixed with sleeping draught she sent her sister to bed before she collapsed on the couch in a puddle of confused pregnant hormones and grief.

The bond was unusually strong, whether it was because Willow and Robyn were twins and close anyway or because Willow had been there for every day of her sisters pregnancy then the short week of her niece's life she wasn't sure but she still felt her inside. She felt it when Adaline needed a bottle or a nappy change, she sensed when she was happy or sad. She knew when she was being held, if she was warm or cold. It was probably the worst thing out of it all. She thought she was prepared. She had been prepared.

She wasn't even nearly prepared. The grief took over her and when Rex found her later that night, after having cried herself to sleep he put his wife in bed assuming she had post spa hormone induced blues and he was the dutiful husband. He was caring and attentive and he was there for her and it was the only thing that stopped her from going crazy and trying find her precious niece and god-daughter.

Now though, now it was over seventeen years later and Rex wasn't around anymore. Her daughter's had both been a welcome distraction and though the connection had never faded, though Willow still wanted to find her niece she had her own daughters to take care of. Daphne Robyn Greengrass had been born a couple of weeks after her cousin and the first-time-mother hormones and blues helped her put other things to the back of her mind. Now she didn't even have that. Her daughter's were both in full time education, only home for the holidays and even then not always, her husband - who she had adored as much as one could in an arranged marriage to a man you were not particularly attracted to, who she had grown to love though was never in love with, who had become her best friend when her sister had left the world and thus left that spot open - had died a peaceful but altogether too early death from Dragon Pox three years earlier and ever since the only thing keeping her going was the search for her niece.

She never told a soul of course and though she hadn't produced an heir she was deemed 'too old for childbearing' so thankfully wasn't forced to marry again even though she had become a widow at the grand age of thirty-three.
She had portkey'd, apparated and floo'd all over Europe in search for her niece with no luck despite having the exact details of her birth, her weight, her length, her birth name and even a description of what she looked like. It seemed that hospitals and social services back in the seventies didn't believe in documentation so she had been tracking down every single baby girl born that year in the hopes that one of them would be the niece she so desperately needed to see and hold again. Had tried, unsuccessfully, to obtain Hogwarts records to check names and birth dates and even tried to infiltrate the ministry but nothing had worked.

When Daphne's letter came the summer they were due to attend Hogwarts Willow felt her stomach twist at the thought's of her niece getting the same letter. She knew she would, of course, she had felt every small flutter or spark of magic from the moment she was bonded to her. Her accidental magic had bowled her over and at times she had had to grip counters and chairs to stop herself from falling over with the shock and force of the bond. Waving goodbye to her daughter on the long awaited for trip for her first day of Hogwarts had been bitter-sweet. She should have been kissing three children goodbye that morning, not two - her daughter, her nephew and her niece. She couldn't help it when her eyes scanned the crowd for anyone she thought might resemble Adaline, or what she thought Adaline looked like now. She looked for anyone who resembled her sister or had wild hair. She left with a broken heart when she never found any.

Every time she went to Platform 9 3/4 was the same, every time she tried to find the witchling that she needed to hold, to tell her she loved her and had never stopped, she never did. Every time she went home with a broken heart. It got worst after Rex passed away and that was when she decided to do something about it. She knew her niece could have gone to another school and so, when she couldn't find anything at Hogwarts she began to search other magical schools - not that she believed it, not deep down, not really. But it gave her a purpose and it made her feel like she was at least doing something.

And that was how she found herself that Friday afternoon when a tingling sensation overcame her entire being and she felt, from her very core, deep within the bond that she knew was all Adaline, that something had changed. She felt the glamour lift and she knew there were only two ways of doing that. Either she had to do it since she had been the one to cast it or, as was the case here, Adaline had to lift it herself. That could be with a glamour reversal charm or, as was more likely, a potion.

Willow began to hyperventilate as the realisation set in and, after being around muggle's for a while now dealing with the back lash of a seventies adoption, was well adept and handling a panic attack, even when it was her having a panic attack and there was nobody around to tell her to calm down and take deep breaths.

After ten minutes, a cold glass of bubble juice and taking her head from where it was resting between her knees to prevent her from throwing up, Willow walked over to her potions cabinet, take a calming draught and, when that didn't do the trick, took another before going to her room and retrieving a box.

When she was ready she went back downstairs and stood in front of the main floo, took another calming breath though it was now more out of habit since the calming draught was in effect and floo called Hogwarts.

"Requesting permission to come through and speak with the headmaster." Willow said as she was met with one of the schools house elves.

"Headmasters bes out Missy Grassy" The elf explained.

Willow had long become accustomed to dealing with elves when wanting to correspond directly with Hogwarts, two daughters, a nephew and a hidden niece, all of who she was bonded to were in the school and so she well versed in the procedure though this did work out better for her since she would actually prefer to speak to Minerva McGonagall about the matter instead. She had no doubts that Albus Dumbledore was a great man but she wasn't sure he ever took anything seriously, and she really wasn't a witch in the mood for that right now.

"The Deputy Headmistress would be a pleasure, then." She answered curtly with a forced smile while the elf popped away.

Minerva McGonagall appeared seconds later and waved her wand to adjust the wards to let Willow in where the younger witch began explain the difficult situation.

Chapter Text

Professor Slughorn stood in front of his Potions class that Monday evening, long after the bell had rung and stared at the students in front of him.

If the potion Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy had spent the past three months brewing was right, and he had no reason to believe otherwise since the evidence was staring him in the face, then two of the oldest pureblood families were involved in a scandal that included so many wrongs against their way of life that he wasn't even sure where to start.
It was a feast of gossip and he was a very hungry man.

Unfortunately he wasn't only metaphorically hungry and if he didn't get to the actual feast before all the food ran out there would be nothing until breakfast the next morning since the elves absolutely refused to do anything for him or let him into their kitchen. He wasn't entirely sure why but he put it down to something he had said when he was a wee child roaming the corridors one night in search of midnight snacks.
He took one more agonising look at the group of students, children really, in front of him and, after debating in his head for nearly a full minute he dismissed the class and left no room for debate when the students unaffected by the matter groaned in unison.

Ron was the first out of the door, he had been torn between wanting to stay and be there for his friends and getting sustenance in before quidditch training later on. In the end the decision was made for him when Slughorn shouted "That means you too, Weezlebee."

Pansy followed Ron with the rest of the class close behind and Slughorn taking up the rear. As their potions professor got to the door, all the other students now out of sight, he took one long gleeful look at the five teenagers left in the room and closed the door behind him before heading to the great hall.

oOoOoOo

"Well, that was intense." Daphne said aloud as an eerie quiet settled among them.

Nobody moved.

Draco was still stood in the same spot he had been for the past five minutes, the opposite side of the table to Hermione, as he took in his girlfriends new form. She was the same height still, had a slightly smaller build that you would only notice if you spent as much time as he had staring at her. As Daphne had pointed out her chest was certainly bigger, while before she had been a rather small cup size now she at least of an average one, making the bra she was wearing all but useless. Her skin was several shades paler and most of her freckles were gone. The small spattering on her nose that he loved so much remained though and he was eternally happy for it. The changes didn't stop there. Her hair looked so silky and soft he just wanted to ruin his fingers through it and, while it was still utterly crazy the curls were far more intact than her old ones were. The curls were loose and fell past her shoulders and half way down her back, it was certainly longer than it had been before. Or rather, it was longer than it had looked before. Her lips were either a darker tone of rose or they just looked so because her skin was that much paler now. Either way they drew his attention far more than they ever had - which was certainly saying something since he couldn't remember the last time he looked at her and didn't stare at her lips. Her eyebrows, like her hair, were much tamer and darker. Raven coloured to match her hair.
The biggest change though was her eyes. before the spell they had been a beautiful shade of amber that resembled aged firewhiskey. They gave off a warm tone and always relaxed him. When she was angry they would turn almost chocolate brown and he would swear on Merlin's grave if one gave him the chance that there was a red ring around them too. She would never hear of it of course. She just rolled her eyes and scoffed at him before chucking the nearest object she could get her hands on at his head. It was a good job he was a seeker.
Now though, now her eyes were almost an exact copy of Daphne's - they were so vibrantly blue and they matched her new looks just perfectly so. She had the Greengrass eyes that was certain though her's were different to any of the other Greengrass' he knew of. Blonde hair and striking blue eyes was how you could spot a Greengrass, Blonde hair and grey eyes indicated a Malfoy. Dark hair and grey eyes, a Black. A particular shade or red indicated a Weasley while Chocolate brown, almost black with eyes to match would be a Parkinson.

Hermione's eyes were blue right enough but the big difference in them that separated her from her cousin were the two rings. The ring around the iris was a green that made him think of tropical seas while the outer ring was darker, nearly emerald in colour. He had never seen a pair of eyes like it before and was mesmerised so much that he was glued to the spot.
While he knew the blue eyes were a Greengrass trait you could never grow up with Theodore Nott and be the boys befriend since you were babies and not know that he had inherited his mothers eye's. Green. Theo's eyes were a sparkling green that was closer to the colour on the outer ring of Hermione's eyes. Draco remembered his mother saying once just how beautiful Robyn Nott's eyes were and how Theo had been truly blessed to inherit that gene. He didn't know what colour eyes Theo's father had, he had never gotten close enough to see but from what he knew of the man black would be a fair assumption. He tended to agree with his mothers sentiment.

Draco looked between the other four students in the room. He really had no idea what to say or do. It was not a situation he had ever found himself in before so he tentatively took a few steps towards Hermione who was staring across the room where her newly found brother was sat with his head in his hands.

"Go and talk to him." He urged her as he gave her a gentle push in Theo's direction.

Hermione chewed her bottom lip and began to play with her hair though when she saw the colour out of the corner of her eyes she flicked it back. "I'm not sure that's the best idea right now." She said as she looked back her boyfriend.

"Of course it is." Daphne answered with a smile.
Of all of the people in the room Daphne was obviously taking the news the easiest, like she had been born to know, like she had been waiting for this revelation to come. Not that she had of course, she had been just as shocked when her family tree was revealed as the rest of them. She just apparently was better at taking the news. Though, in fairness, she had only gained a cousin whereas Theo and Harry were both gaining a sister and Draco, well, he had thought he was in love with a muggleborn. That part was almost laughable. Almost.

Hermione took a few tentative steps in Theo's direction before she nearly buckled and turned around. She had to summon her Gryffindor bravery to force herself to take the last few steps and slide down the wall next to him.

"Hey." She murmured gently.

Theo just barely nodded his head in acknowledgement before Hermione waved a hand over to Draco, Harry and Daphne to talk amongst themselves and leave them be. She was fine. She could handle this. She could.

"Still want that sister?" She asked as she took one of his arms away from his face and laced her fingers through his.

Theo sniffled inaudibly and Hermione rested her head on his shoulders.

"I didn't know I was adopted you know" She began "It's...it's not...my parents had problems getting pregnant, I always knew that. I knew that they had even applied to various agencies but I never...they said they were 'blessed with a daughter of their own' and, it was silly of me I know, but I assumed that meant I was theirs. I was their blood." Hermione sighed. "I'm not as shocked by the news as I suppose I should be. I was always different, that much is obvious." When Theo looked up at her questioningly before closing his eyes she added "Magic. They're muggles. And of course I never looked like them. Whoever put that glamour on my magical core must have been brilliant. Even for a fully qualified wizard that's a tricky charm. The clues were there though and, I guess, in their own way, they did tell me and I just changed their words so that it suited me. They were good people. The best. I miss them." Hermione said sadly as she wiped a tear from her cheek.

"I miss mum." Theo mumbled.

"I know" Hermione replied soothingly. "I know."

"Daphne says I look like her." She mused after a few minutes of silence had passed between them.

"You do" Theo agreed with a nod of his head. "You look...she was beautiful and you look just like her. Not that you weren't beautiful before but you.."

"I understand." She said. "It's hard. I get it."

"I've not seen her since I was five." He said solemnly.

"I know. Do you...have you got any pictures of her? I wouldn't mind seeing just how beautiful I really am." She tried to joke.

Theo offered her a small smile before pulling an old folded up picture out of his robe pocket. It was clear he carried this around with him everywhere. He took a long look at it before passing it to her. "Here." He said as he tried to smooth it out.

Hermione hadn't actually seen her reflection yet since the potion had changed everything she knew of her appearance but from Daphne's brief description she couldn't help touching the parts of herself that she knew to be changed as she studied her mothers reflection in the moving picture and wondered if she looked anything like her.

"You're beautiful." Theo repeated as he watched her closely.

"But it upsets you?"

"I miss her."

Hermione sat and stared at the picture for a while before she stood and shook herself off and pulled out her wand.

"What are you doing Hermione?" Daphne asked as she watched her cousin from across the room.

"Putting the glamours back." Hermione replied as if it were the most obvious thing and what on earth else would have her turn her wand upon herself?!

Everyone turned to stare at her in shock then "Why, in Merlin's name would you do that? Don't you like how you look?" Her cousin asked.

"In all honesty I don't even know how I look and I don't mind who I was." Hermione replied.

"This is who you are." Harry added.

"Why are you doing this Love?" Draco asked as he moved closer to her.

Hermione turned back slightly to look at Theo before saying "He can't even look at me. It hurts him. I don't want to be some ugly reminder of the past and I don't want a brother who can't even look me in the eye."

"Firstly, you're far from ugly Hermione-" Draco began.

"Adaline." Hermione corrected tersely.

If all eye's hadn't already been on her then now they were, Theo's included.

"What?" He asked.

"Adaline. Well, that's my name isn't it?" She said fixing him a 'dare challenge me' glare.

"You're too emotional to be making decisions like this. You're name is Hermione. It's always been Hermione."

"Depends who you ask" Hermione mumbled.

"Hermione, you've known for all of" Draco cast a tempus charm to see what the time was before carrying on "twenty minutes that you were adopted, you're in no state to make that decision."

Hermione sniffled a little as she stood there, still staring icy daggers at Draco.

Draco reflected that before the potion her amber eyes would have changed to molten chocolate in her anger and as he looked into them and implored her to think about what she was doing he searched for the red ring that he had so often found there when he was on the wrong end of her outbursts. All he found was a pair of the brightest green eyes he had ever seen. Brighter than Theo's, brighter than even Harry's. Apparently Hermione's eye's still changed colour when she got angry, they just changed to a different colour. He smiled a little at the realisation and moved to hug her.

Theo stood then and walked over to Hermione before pulling her from his best friends arms and taking her in his own.

"Don't" He croaked through the tears.

"I don't want to see you so hurt." She mumbled into his shirt.

"I'll get over it, I've got tougher skin than that. Slytherin, remember?" He joked and they both managed to laugh a little.

"What was she? What house?" Hermione asked as she looked up at her brother. "Slytherin? Like the rest your family?"

Theo scoffed as he wrapped his arms tighter around her. "Hardly. She was far too smart and not nearly sly enough. No, she was a Ravenclaw."

"I was a hatstall you know." She mused.

"I remember." He smiled. "Took it nearly as long as it took to sort that other brother of yours, to sort you. Ravenclaw?"

"Like there would have been another choice." She laughed through her sniffles. "You were a hatstall too." She said looking up at him

"I was."

"Let me guess..Gryffindor or Hufflepuff? I mean, you do show qualities of both houses but I think you would probably suit Gryffindor better." She giggled.

"Don't insult me. You and I both know where the hat tried to send me."

"Why didn't it?" Hermione asked thoughtfully.

"I asked it not to." He answered honestly.

"Why?"

"Nott's go to Slytherin." Was all the answer she needed to know.

The pair stayed that way for another minute or so before Theo said "I mean it Hermione, don't change how you look. You're beautiful and, once the shock is over I'll be fine. It'll be nice to see her in you every day." He smiled.

"Every day?" She asked hopefully.

"Every day." He affirmed. "This hair however, you can change that all you want." He joked as he purposely messed it up.

"I think we have my father to thank for that."

They both looked over at Harry and his utterly hopeless hair and burst out laughing.

oOoOoOo

Theo excused himself to talk to Draco and Daphne and though Hermione was sure that it was a Slytherin tactic to get her to talk to the brother she was avoiding she silently thanked him before going and sitting on the desk he was on.

"So, you're my sister huh?" Harry asked as he played with the stitching in his jumper.

"Look's that way."

The pair sat in silence and swung their legs before Hermione asked "Harry, are you happy?"

"About you?" Hermione nodded. "Of course I am, you've...I've always said I love you like a sister and well now, I guess I love you because you're my sister."

Hermione frowned at her brothers words "Harry, that's not true. At least certainly not for me. I don't love you because you're my brother. I love you in spite of it. I loved you unconditionally before that potion and I will for the rest of my life and, sure, maybe on some level there was some sort of pre-existing bond but that is not the reason I love you. Can you honestly say you love me just because of a connection we may never have known we had?"

"I guess, when you put it like that. You know I love you Hermione." Harry sighed as he rubbed at his forehead.

"Because I'm your sister?" She asked playfully.

"In spite of it." He promised.

"I'm confused 'Mione." He said after a comfortable silence where she leaned in to him.

"We all are, Harry."

"My dad" he started before correcting himself "our dad. Merlin, that feels strange." He laughed. "Did he cheat on her? On my mum? Why would he have given you up? I don't understand...everyone always says how he was this amazing man. People make out he can do no wrong and after this year, the things I've seen, heard, found out...I'm not so sure he was that great at all. I just don't know what to think of him anymore. And I know nobody is perfect and I don't think he was but...the new light I've been seeing him in doesn't exactly make him look even okay either."

"Harry, you can't let other people's memories influence how you see your parents." Hermione said as she reflected back on Harry's occlumency lessons with Snape and what he had told her he saw there. "Like you said, nobody is perfect, least of all our parents. If they were we wouldn't be having this conversation that's for sure. But, I don't think we can judge them without finding out the truth first. Please don't think any less of him, there are so many reasons I could have been adopted. Let us find the answers before jumping to conclusions, okay? And if there's one thing I know above all is that he loved your mother. I think that speaks for itself."

Harry nodded his head along with Hermione words, knowing she was right just as she always was.

"How are you feeling?" He asked.

"I don't know. Scared, unsure, unwanted, confused, heartbroken, upset, sad, unloved. You name it, it's there. I'm having a hard time focusing on anything right now, I think the adrenaline has taken over. I've taken three pepper-up potions today and I have a feeling it's not even nearly over." She stated. "I'm sure it'll all hit me tomorrow at some point and I'll start to question my life and existence and maybe I'll even want to look in a mirror then too but right now I'm just...I'm.. empty." Hermione whispered.

Harry wrapped his arm around his sister. "I understand and I'm here for you."

"I know."

oOoOoOo

The five students sat on the desks in the room for a while longer, Hermione flanked between her new brothers with her boyfriend and cousin facing her and, for the first time since Christmas, felt a sense of unity that only family brought and despite everything that had happened in the past hour, despite herself and the tears she had shed and despite what was sure to come their way, she smiled. She smiled because she wasn't alone in this world. She wasn't even nearly alone. She had two brothers and two cousins and a very serious boyfriend and that was just the tip of the iceberg and Hermione knew that she could tackle anything as long as she had these people with her.

"We should probably go and see Dumbleddore or McGonagall...surely the whole school knows by now." Harry said to nobody in-particular.

They all agreed and slowly jumped down from the desks before packing up their things to go and find one of their professors.

Just before they left Daphne pulled out her wand and rearranged Hermione's clothes so that her breasts were not spilling out as she walked the halls.
Hermione flashed her cousin a grateful smile as they exited the room.

Chapter Text

Willow didn't wait to be asked to sit, pureblood customs be damned she had a niece to find and she had waited long enough already.
She took the empty chair facing the deputy headmistress' desk and waited, rather impatiently as she drummed her fingers along the box in her hands.

"Don't bother putting the wards back up" She warned the headmistress as she saw her wand flourish from the corner of her eyes.

"I like to not be disturbed when I have my students' parents here Mrs. Greengrass" Minerva McGonagall replied somewhat sternly.

"And normally I would be grateful but you'll only have to open them again soon. Trust me."

"And you know this how?"

"Because he felt the same as I did-do" She sighed.

Minerva looked at the witch sat in the chair in front of her and tried her best to sum up exactly what she was expecting of this meeting but had nothing. The woman looked equal parts confused, excited and anxious. It didn't bode well for the rest of the evening.

Minerva didn't miss the quietly mumbled reply but heeded the witches advice anyway, there was no point having someone blocked behind the floo if he was expected to come anyway. Plus, the elves would only serve as an interruption otherwise.

"Very well" She said as she took her seat and eyed the curious box in Willow's hands. "Am I to assume this is about your niece?" She asked tentatively and straight to the point.

"Not one to mince your words are you?" Willow asked. "I always liked that about you you know."

"No point dilly-dallying about the situation."

"She loved that about you too, Robyn. She idolised you. Always wanted to be like you when she grew up." Willow reminisced.

McGonagall sighed. "If you've come again for information you know my hands are tied just as Albus' are. Unfortunately I can not help."

"Albus Dumbledore isn't interested in helping anyone who doesn't help him." Willow answered wryly. "And if you've heard the story from him then I'm afraid you don't know it at all."

Minerva McGonagall sighed for a second time as she watched the witch fiddle with the box and tried to pull herself together. She exhaled loudly and pulled out two glasses before pouring them each a generous helping of Firewhiskey and pushed one in front of the parent sat in front of her. "Then tell me."

Willow eyed the glass as she contemplated where to start then poured the amber liquid down her throat and began the story.

"Robyn was...smart, brave, beautiful, caring, everything I wasn't. We were opposites. So it stood to reason that our parents would marry us off to men that were so opposite. The contracts were signed when we were babies, you know? It's tradition. One that won't befall my girls - thank Merlin." She shuddered at the thought before carrying on. "Robyn - she should have married Rex. She was contracted to Rowley but I knew. I just knew that my sister, my twin wouldn't last very long with him as her husband. I begged her you know? On my wedding day, I was on my knees in tears just seconds before I walked down the aisle and bonded myself to Rex. I would have done anything for her. I still will. I told her we could use glamours and be each other. Who else could pretend to be me better than my twin sister, right? But she refused, obviously. And I had no choice but to bond myself knowing it was the start of the end. We already knew by then that the Nott's were not exactly the best people to have as in laws but our parents, they wouldn't hear of voiding the contract so she was stuck. It wasn't proper to go back on a contract like that."

Willow paused for a breath as Minerva poured them another drink and nodded for her to carry on.

"On Christmas Day we always had a party, I had not long married so I had already left home but Robyn was still living there. When me and Rex floo'd to my parents house and the party was in full swing my mother made a comment about Robyn staying at our place the night before. Of course I went along with it like sisters do. I asked her later and she told me she spent the night in a pub where she met up with a few friends and ended up getting a room when she was too drunk to apparate. Our parents wouldn't have approved because it wasn't how pureblood girls should act but I understood. She only had four months until she would be bonded to Rowley and we had barely left Hogwarts, she needed to live a little. She turned up on my doorstep two months later crying her eyes out saying that she was pregnant. Obviously the baby wasn't Rowley's and she wouldn't tell me who's it was. I took her in then, told our parents she was staying with me to learn how to be a good wife and other such nonsense. What sickens me is that they bought it. Hook, line, sinker. We tried to come up with a plan for her to keep the baby but there was no viable option and I couldn't tell Rex, she swore me to secrecy. I told her to go to the father but she wouldn't.Said that while he was single at the time of their 'tryst' he was back with the love of his life and there was no way she was going to ruin that because he was too good of a man to leave a pregnant woman and she wouldn't allow him to lose out on love because of her. A few weeks later there was an engagement announcement in the Prophet and I started to have my suspicions. Not that she would tell me either way of course but I knew. Sisters always know. They'd been good friends at school, it made sense." Willow drank her second drink and Minerva finished hers and poured another.

"There was no other way than muggle adoption, trust me, I tried everything. So, in the end, when her waters broke, we came up with some story and went to a muggle hospital. We were there a week in all. My niece was born the second day and I remember it like it was yesterday. And if the tiny little hints from Robyn hadn't been enough to sway me on who the father was the brilliant head of hair was a dead giveaway. Robyn made me her godmother, an honour that I've never taken lightly. After we got back and settled into a routine I decided my niece needed a godfather too. She needed somebody connected to her father, somebody who would look out for her. There was already talk at this point, the War was upon us and there was no such thing as being too safe. So, I drew up a contract, managed to imbue the blood of two of his best friends into the parchment - it was an ancient method but still entirely legal - and even got one of them to sign it. He didn't know what he was signing mind you, was out on a stag night when I cornered him and he was all too willing. It's binding. Still.

Minerva was about to ask exactly who had been stupid enough to sign the contract when the floo chimed and in popped one Sirius Black.

"Godric no!" She whispered as Sirius stood there looking frantic. Minerva turned to look back at Willow and said. "Potter? The girl is a...Godric."

Willow nodded glumly as she moved to the further seat to allow Sirius to take hers, not that he had sitting on his mind of course.

"I'm sorry to interrupt Minnie but I need to find Harry." He said in a rushed voice that was laced with nothing but concern.

"Harry is fine." Minerva, still shocked, managed to reply.

"He's not fine I just felt the bond, something is seriously wrong and if you won't go and find him I will. I still know these corridors like the back of my hand." He growled.

"Sit down." Willow instructed. "Harry is fine."

"I apologise if I don't take your word for it Greengrass." Sirius spat.

"Willow." She corrected.

"Whatever."

Willow opened the box that she still had in her lap and rummaged through it. She took out one envelope with the name Sirius Black written on the front and a green wax stamp on the back and pushed it into his arms before leaning back in her own seat.

Sirius was confused, he didn't want to sit around reading, he wanted to find his godson and figure out what was wrong but no matter what he did something felt off and for some reason that he couldn't quite explain he trusted both witches in front of him when they said Harry was fine so he opened the letter with the curious writing and Greengrass stamp.

His eyes scanned over the heading not once, not twice but three times as he tried to take in the meaning of such a thing. 'A Binding Godparent Contract' Willow watched as he skimmed the next couple of paragraphs and grew stiller with each passing line.
The words 'First daughter of Robyn Greengrass' was what jumped into Sirius' head off of the parchment and, instead of reading all the fine print he went right to the bottom to see exactly who had been stupid enough to sign such a thing when he groaned upon seeing the quill manship. He knew that scrawl. It was his.

"How?" He asked in a broken voice after at least five full minutes had passed. He was about to add in how thankful he was that Robyn had never had a daughter when he realised the bond he had felt wasn't for Harry. Minerva poured them all a large glass of firewhiskey and handed them each one as Willow retold the story, this time adding in the parts about the contract.

"You tricked me?" He fumed at her.

"Of course I bloody did, what else was I supposed to do? What would you have done? There was all this talk about the prophecy and The Chosen One and even then we knew who it was and nobody was safe, least of all the Potter's. Adaline deserved to have a connection to her father even it it wasn't going to be him."

"So you chose me? Bloody well done there - twelve years in Azkaban, I'll be just an excellent role model!"

"Well, you weren't my first choice, just the only one out of the two of you who would sign the damned thing!"

"Two of us? Oh please don't tell me Pettigrew's blood is in that thing." He half shouted as he pointed at the contract that now lay on Minerva's desk."

"Gods no, give me some credit! Lupin. Lupin was my first choice. Too damn smart to sign the papers though wasn't he. Drunk or not."

"Remus? You wanted Remus?" Sirius asked with a smile, “well, he should be here for this” he said as smile grew and he stood to use the floo. "Don't mind do you Minnie?" He asked before floo calling his best friend and telling him to step through for 'urgent business'.

Another twenty minutes later and two more glasses of firewhiskey each and Remus Lupin was kow just as clued in as Sirius. He took one quick glance at the contract and the empty section next to his name before taking a quill from McGonagall's desk and signing.

"What the bloody hell are you doing mate?" Sirius shouted.

"Signing, honestly, what does it look like I'm doing?"

"Are you fucking mental?"

"Maybe. Maybe I just want to be tied to something that reminds me of James and Lily. You wouldn't understand you have Harry-"

"You have Harry too"

"It's different, you're bonded to him. I'm not. It's nice knowing someone chose me to be a guardian in James' place - I wish I had just signed the blasted thing years ago!"

Sirius looked at his friend as he settled the quill back in the holder and wiped his hand down his face.

"Did you know?" Remus asked his friend.

"About Robyn? Or the baby?" Sirius countered.

"Robyn. The baby. Both."

"No." He sighed. "No I didn't know about any of it."

"To be fair to Potter" Willow piped up from her seat "He didn't know about the baby either."

"She never told him?" Remus asked.

Willow shook her head. "Said he deserved his chance at love."

The four adults sat in a mournful silence as they remembered their friends and family before Willow said "Merlin, if there's anything out there - anything after this, I hope he gave her a right talking to." Before McGonagall, Sirius and Remus smiled and laughed.

"So, now that everyone is caught up and knows exactly what has happened, can you tell me why you're here Miss Greengrass?" Minerva McGonagall eventually asked.

Willow drew in a deep breath as she fiddled with the box in her hands. There were still a few letters inside and some pictures too.

"When my niece was born I placed a glamour on her" she started "Her hair, her nose and those chubby little cheeks...she would have been recognised. I didn't have a choice. The glamour I used wrapped itself to her core. It was a strong one and only a really powerful witch could get through it. I never expected...I felt the bond before I came here...it's been lifted. One of your students" she paused as she gulped "One of your students are out there not knowing who they are." Willow's tone was full of sadness at the prospect of what her niece was dealing with and not being able to be there.

"Ah, well, that does seem unfortunate. I'm afraid I still can't tell you who she is Mrs Greengrass." Professor McGonagall replied and though she was still her usual stern self the façade was falling under the strain of the story and it was easy to see she was close to giving up.

"You don't know who she is?" Sirius asked.

"Not a clue."

"What about her adoption?" Remus tried.

"Been there, done that. It was a 70's adoption there are barely any records out there. I've been to the Ministry, Albus Dumbledore, all over Europe. I can't find a damned thing." Willow sighed as she banged her head on the desk.

Sirius was sat next to Willow and put his hand on her forehead at the third pass. "Don't" he murmured. "We'll find her."

Just as Remus was about to say something encouraging or suggest something else the door to McGonagall's office opened and in walked Daphne Greengrass. She approached her professor's desk with her head held high as four other students stood in the doorway. "I'm sorry to bother you Professor but unfortunately it couldn't wait." She started before her eyes roamed over the three other adults in the room. "Mother? What are you doing here?" She asked as her gaze settled on the woman in question.

"I could ask you the same question." Her mother retorted.

"Willow?" Theo called from his place near the door and, instead of letting go of Hermione's hand that he had been holding he dragged her with him, unwilling to part with his new found sister as he hugged his aunt - their aunt.

"Hey Sunshine, you're better then." She said as she returned his hug and offered her nephew a smile. She was just about to pull away when her eyes fell to the strange girl whose hand he was still holding and, looking at her, looking into those eyes that she hadn't seen in over seventeen years, the eyes that were a peculiar mix of green and blue and that beautiful raven hair that flowed down her back, looking at her right then she knew. Knew she had found this missing piece to the puzzle. She could feel it. The bond was strong, it was thrumming in her ears and her heart and she could almost see it, almost taste it. And if anyone asked what it tasted like she would say salt, of salty tears and snot but she would still smile because she had found her niece. Her god daughter.

"Adaline" She said in one quiet breath. "My sweet Adaline" And before she knew it she had her arms engulfed around the small girl and was sobbing into that beautiful crazy hair.

Chapter Text

Hermione was too confused to do anything other than cry and while she didn't know this strange woman from the next witch there was something about her that was familiar. Something warm and inviting. Something that emanated love and against her better judgement, she instantly felt safe and somehow whole in this woman's arms as they both sobbed into one another.

"You...you know who I am?" Hermione sniffled after the silence in the room started to become awkward.

"Like I could forget those eyes and that hair," Willow chuckled lightly as her fingers played with the raven curls.

"You've seen me before?" Hermione asked as she chewed her bottom lip and ignored the tears running down her face; and the fact that her face was now a lovely shade of lobster red and the puffiness that came with that held all the attractiveness of a blast-ended-skrewt.

"Of course dear, you were such a beautiful baby. And the first I ever held.. I could never forget you, not for all the obliviations in the world." Willow replied and Sirius shocked everyone by passing both women a handkerchief.

When everyone turned to stare at him in bewilderment he just shrugged it off.
"Pureblood" He offered in his defensive. "Actually, shouldn't you two have handkerchiefs in your pockets?" He said with an amused raise of his brow towards Theo and Draco. And clearly ignoring the fact that his godson who he knew for a fact had deep rivalries with the blonde Slytherin was now stood shoulder to shoulder with him.

"Forgive us for being momentarily shocked that the runaway Black actually knows something about pureblood manners." Draco bit out sarcastically.

"Pureblood" Hermione whispered. "Good Godric I'm...I'm a pureblood. I mean I'm not....not anymore.."

Draco stepped around Harry and moved closer to Hermione, he took her hands in his rubbing his thumbs over the backs in what he hoped were soothing circles, "you never were,"

"Tell that to your twelve year old self." She retorted before sniffing up the snot that was trying to escape her nose.

"It'll be okay." Draco whispered while every body else looked on.

Naturally it was Professor McGonagall that was the first of the adults to figure out that Hermione was, well, Hermione since the girl in front of them didn't resemble the one she knew.

"Merlin" She gasped as she gripped the side of her desk to steady herself from the shock.

"Minnie?" Sirius asked.

"It...it can't be."

Draco was still rubbing soothing circles into Hermione's skin while everyone else turned to face the deputy headmistress upon hearing her curse the most sacred of wizards. It really wasn't something many of them had heard from her before.

"Miss Granger?" She asked tentatively, hardly daring to believe such a thing.

Hermione turned to face her favourite professor and nodded just the once as fresh tears sprang from her eyes.

"Granger?" Remus and Sirius called out together. "Hermione Granger?" Hermione turned once again, this time to face the two men that were stood behind Draco and close to the fire where it was obvious they hadn't long stepped out of. When she tried to answer that yes, yes she was Hermione Granger and only managed to choke on a sob she instead nodded her head a couple of times, not trusting her voice any longer.

Both men turned to look at Harry then for clarification and at his nod that yes, this was Hermione Granger, his best friend turned half sister; their eyes grew wider and they wore twin smiles on their faces. "Well kitten, it seems we have a lot of catching up to do." Sirius grinned.

"What are you two doing here anyway?" Harry asked when he realised that the scene they had walked in on was hardly out of the ordinary.

"Godparent duties." Remus said with a smile.

"What, both of you?"

They both nodded with matching grins on their faces.

"I didn't know you had a god child Remus." Harry replied as Minerva McGonagall poured the adults and each of the students, under the approval of the adults of course, another glass of firewhiskey each - though it seemed that this time it was more for herself and maybe Hermione. Shock could do a lot to a person and giving students firewhiskey seemed to be one of them and even if Draco didn't have a guardian present and technically was still under-age she decided that Sirius Black's word that it was okay was sufficient enough, they were cousins after all.

"I didn't until about half an hour ago." Remus added as an afterthought.

As the firewhiskey was consumed and absorbed, tensions began to calm down and the students began to relax with the amber liquid burning in their stomachs; Willow began to retell the story from what she knew of it including what she had done to Sirius and Remus, the why and the reason they were there.

"So you're...all of you? I didn't realise you could have three god parents." Hermione swallowed as she sat between Theo and Harry in a conjured chair. "At least, I mean muggle's can but I don't think I know any witches or wizards that do." Apparently the firewhiskey had the added effect of bringing her voice back.

"You can have as many as you want. Most families only do one or two. Usually a bonded couple." Sirius replied. "But yes we all are, I guess it doesn't really make much of a difference now that you're of age anyway." He answered with a pout.

"Of course it does! You still felt the bond didn't you?" Willow challenged, her brow raised ready to fight. She would be damned if, after all this time, she couldn't be her niece's godmother, auntie or not.

"I...I'd like it to matter. I don't have any parents left muggle or magical and I-" Hermione's voice began to break again at the realisation that she had been orphaned twice by the age of seventeen.

"Don't worry sweetheart, we're here no matter what. Of age or not the bond is still strong." Willow assured her.

"There is one thing I'd like to know," Remus started, he then moved his gaze over to Draco and back to Hermione with a raised brow and, before waiting for an answer he looked to Harry as if silently screaming 'WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON HERE?!' in the best professor type manner he could manage.

Theo coughed a laugh into his hand as he lounged in his chair and watched his best friend squirm while Daphne didn't even attempt to hide her amusement. Draco looked positively terrified.

"That is a great story to start with 'Mione" Harry said with a look of amusement in his eyes. "Why don't you tell your newfound family all about your relationship with the ferret?"

"Watch it, Potter" Draco almost sneered though it was clear it was all in light humour.

"I love him, he loves me. That's it. There's no more to know that that." Hermione answered firmly.

"I guess The Prophet finally got something right then. But that Ms Skeeter does need bringing down a few notches." Willow said with a chuckle. "You knew about this?" She asked as she turned to her daughter.

Daphne shrugged her shoulders lightly.

"You knew?" Sirius asked Harry.

"I guess so but it's serious so as much as I don't like it, less so know I know she's actually my sister and not just a pretend one," Harry started with a roll of his eyes "it's not exactly my place to do anything about it. I'm sure Malfoy will screw up all by himself eventually." He joked.

Everyone was laughing before Willow asked "How serious?" and the teenagers fell quiet.

"How serious?" Remus repeated.

Silence.

"Harry James Potter, what are you not telling me?" Sirius demanded.

"Hermione got cursed." Harry admitted.

"You say that like she caught Dragon Pox, Potter," Draco scowled.

"The pair of you stop it, it's in the past." Hermione reprimanded.

"What is in the past?" Remus almost shouted. "How did Hermione 'get cursed' you don't just 'get cursed' Harry."

"She jumped in front of a wand that was aimed at Malfoy," Harry admitted quietly.

"And?" Draco prompted.

"And it was my wand." Harry hung his head in shame as he rapidly admitted what had happened.

"You cursed your sister?!"

"You could have killed them!"

"What were you thinking Harry?!

"What happened?"

"Is everyone okay?"

"Are you okay, love?"

A chorus of questions were shouted out from the three visiting adults as the five teenagers sat sullenly trying not to remember the events that had followed that fateful afternoon. Even if some of it wasn't so bad. At least Theo knew he was loved. That was one thing to be thankful for.

It was Professor McGonagall who caught the adults up and, with a little more firewhiskey in them - honestly at this point she had lost count how many bottles they had gone through in the past couple of hours - the adults all sat and drank their sorrows down as they learnt what had happened behind the castle walls just a few weeks prior.

Professor Snape turned up at some point after the feast had ended as rumours had been rife through the castle after Slughorn's potions class and besides, everyone knew the portly man couldn't keep his mouth shut when gossip was spreading. He was quickly filled in on the afternoons events before he left again to keep a closer eye on the students roaming the halls. Gossip usually meant there were more stragglers out past curfew and that gave the Defence professor ample chance to take away points - a great source of amusement for the man.

When curfew neared Professor McGonagall was about to send the students to their respective dorms but upon realising that none of the children had eaten a morsel since lunch she ordered a small feast for the occupants of the room and, banishing away the chairs, the three adults, five teenagers and the deputy headmistress herself sat upon the floor on conjured cushions and delved into a small buffet of comforting foods that the had elves sent them. There was cottage pie, sausages and mash, steak and butterbeer pie, lasagne, fish fingers, cheese pancakes and so much more than they were able to eat. Afterwards when the adults cleared away the dishes puddings were sent up and they indulged once again before at last pots of steamed hot chocolate were sent up to relax them all and ready the students for bed.

Hermione didn't eat much, she let Draco plate her food up but she had no appetite. Actually she fell no inclination to do much at all so she pushed food around her plate and tried to force a smile on her face whenever anyone spoke to her. The three pepper-up potions had really done a number on her and coupling that with the events of the day and she was drained in every sense of the word. She had no idea how to feel about being adopted though in hindsight she should have known, the indicators were all there. She didn't know how to feel about being orphaned. Twice. About having magical godparents. She definitely had no idea how she felt about having brothers. Even if those two brothers were Harry and Theo, both of who she had loved in a sibling way before finding out they were related through a blood bond. She figured she was happy but in all honesty she had no idea.

Once the hot chocolate was consumed, something Hermione had been able to drink since she was almost shivering to the point of having her teeth clatter - though not from the cold, and instead from a mixture of too many potions, no sustenance and what she would later describe as a numb heart; the teenagers were all walked to the Room of Requirement where Professor McGonagall had decided they could spend the night out of the way of their fellow students who would no doubt pry rather than leave them to deal with their new found status as needed.

The deputy headmistress and the three other adults escorted the teenagers through the corridors, careful to avoid using any halls that may have any rouge students in despite the fact everyone should be sleeping. Once there McGonagall herself asked the room for what she had in mind.
When they entered, the room of requirement was almost an exact replica of their dormitories. There were two four poster beds on the right hand side and a door nearby that was obviously a bathroom - this was clearly meant for Hermione and Daphne. They each had a small bedside table and a high back cushioned chair that looked faded with age or sun. Possibly both. The left hand side of the room was nearly the same except for the extra bed.
New pyjamas were left at the foot of each bed and Professor McGonagall walked over to the bedside tables between each of their beds and left a vial of dreamless sleep each. It was clear they were all way past exhaustion at this point. A large window that looked out across the black lake and draped in heavy black curtains was in the centre of what felt like a rounded room. It almost seemed that the window was what divided the girls from the boys since it was so big it left a large gap on either side.

Of the four adults only Professor McGonagall and Willow had known the room existed and so, Sirius and Remus stood there in awe as they listened to the two women explain how it had worked. They commiserated how they hadn't know it had existed and how, after mapping the whole of the school out they had never found this place and started to question just about everything. When they realised none of the students in attendance were at all surprised with the room they were stunned to the point of silence. For a few seconds.
Once the women were finished with their short history lesson the two remaining Marauder's started to ask the room for the most ridiculous things imaginable. Remus asked for a bookcase filled with books - Professor McGonagall decided that was a good addition and let it stay. Willow joined in and conjured up a fire and rug which again were allowed to stay but when Sirius took his turn and conjured up brooms the witch had to draw the line. As much as it pained her to do so, because it did, it really did; she waved the brooms away and glared at the immature wizard in front of her while the teenagers each disappeared into their respective bathrooms to ready themselves for the night.

"Honestly Black, will you ever grow up?" She asked clearly exasperated with the man.

"You ever expected me to?" Sirius asked seriously.

"No, you're right. It's my fault for expecting that sweet little boy I met all those years ago to become a man." McGonagall retorted.

"Oh, I'm more than man enough, Minnie." Sirius smirked at her as he threw a wink her way.

Thankfully they were saved from the conversation going any further when the students started to come back into the main room again.
Hermione practically crawled over to the nearest bed she could find while Harry and Theo said their goodbyes to their families and the professor held Draco and Daphne back with a word of warning that while the other three were exempt from classes for at least the next day they themselves would be required back in the morning.
The adults waited for all of the teenagers to get ready and into bed before saying their goodnight's and goodbyes as each student drank their dreamless sleep and, just as they were leaving Willow opened her box and left an envelope in the beautiful script and Greengrass wax seal next to the beds of Theo and Harry and two next to Hermione's along with an old mirror she had brought along. She gave her daughter, niece and nephew a kiss goodnight and, with a silent tear, begrudgingly left the room before heading back to McGonagall's office, indulging in one more firewhiskey and flooing home to cry tears of relief and joy.

Sirius and Remus both floo'd back to Grimmauld place right after Willow left, smiles on their faces and talks of continuing the party at home where it seemed Remus was living now, they left McGonagall behind feeling as much exhausted as she imagined Willow was.
Minerva was a lion and Hermione was her cub and she had taken a vow many years ago to protect her cubs at all costs and yet here she was, sat in her office late into the night (or early into the morning) her heart broken for one of her favourite students (not that she would ever admit as much) because once again she couldn't protect them. Once again she had failed. Once again she had broken her own vow. It was a damn good job she hadn't used the unbreakable vow because by Merlin, she would have long lost the battle with the likes of Sirius Black and James Potter never-mind the group of students she had now. Never mind the two Potter offspring. Merlin, she was positively done for.

Minerva McGonagall made a new vow that night. She promised herself that she would do the utmost in her power to protect her children, she would give them what tools she could to navigate life, she would feed them knowledge and love them as if they were her own and she would forever be loyal to them. These were her babies, the babies of her babies and they would be cherished as such.

Chapter Text

When Harry woke the next morning there were only three beds in the room that once housed five, indicating he wasn't the first to wake and, with a quick glance around the room, he realised their two blonde companions had left for the days classes. He had vaguely heard his professor the night before when she had said him, Theo and their shared sister - Hermione - were able to take at least the next day off to get their heads around the latest development in what was turning out to be the most dramatic year of his school life. And that was saying something since he had rescued a stone, killed a basilisk, turned time and rescued an escaped prisoner. Unwillingly entered a highly dangerous competition, watched his friend die then win said competition, had mind crippling migraines that resulted in a dark wizard being in your head, been tricked into thinking his godfather was in trouble, fell into the trap and watched said godfather nearly die. Was victimised by Umbridge and watched as the school fell under her reign and yet, somehow, finding out your father had a secret love child seemed so much worse. Merlin, he would rather fight a basilisk again!

Harry put on his glasses and looked over at Theo who was sleeping soundly before turning over to face the girls section of the room and watched closely to see Hermione's chest rise and fall. She was in a deep sleep and despite his mixed feelings it was reassuring to see. He watched her for another couple of minutes before he stretched his body out and, upon finding clean clothes at the end of the bed he retreated into the bathroom, hoping a long shower and brushed teeth would help clear his head that was so full of questions.

The shower was good all things considered; it would have been better if he wasn't so confused though. He stood there under the jet stream that on any other day would have alleviated some of his stresses and even gotten rid of some of his knots had he set the pressure just so.
The day before he had been nothing sort of shocked to find out he had a sister. The Potter's were a well documented family, James Potter was a pureblood that came from a long line of pureblood's and though they were not elitists like some of the old families they were still proud of their heritage. There had never been another Potter child documented as far as he knew. Legitimate or not. In fact for as far back as he had seen there had only ever been one child born per couple; almost always male. The Potter's were not so different from the Malfoy's in that respect. Actually all that kept them at each others throats were house loyalties and that pesky blood-traitor status the Potter's were so damned proud of.

When Harry was freshly washed and dressed he stepped back into the main room, taking care to make each step as quiet as possible. When he walked in he noticed a large tray that he assumed the elves had left behind. He waked over immediately, sensing that it had a warming charm and smell repelling charm on the tray that would mean Hermione and Theo were not awoken due to the smells.

Harry set himself up with a typical English breakfast feast, somehow despite everything, he realised he was utterly starving. He plated himself some eggs, sausages, bacon, baked beans, mushroom, tomatoes and hash brows. He buttered toast that was as fresh as if it had just popped from the toaster and poured himself a tall glass of orange juice that had been supplied rather than the typical pumpkin juice they had in the great hall. When he took the first mouthful he almost almost groaned in appreciation at just how beautiful the food was to his taste buds but just as he opened his mouth his not-quite-brother rolled over and Harry was reminded he needed to be quiet and let the others sleep as long as they could. Especially since he knew both had been having a hard time doing that recently and since that was mainly his fault he hardly wanted to be the reason they woke earlier than they should.

As Harry plated himself up a second, albeit slightly smaller plate and poured himself a third glass of juice from the jug that never seemed to get any emptier, he noticed a copy of the Daily Prophet propped against a small vase that held a single Daffodil and what he thought was some Jasmine. Ignoring the plants he looked to the rolled up newspaper - the headline wasn't visible from the the angle it was lain out but he could only imagine. His hand tightened around his fork before he gave in. Sighing heavily he put down the cutlery he was holding and picked up the paper, he'd lost his appetite just at the thought of what was on the front page.

Harry stood then, paper still in his hands and still rolled up. He paced the room lightly, trying to decide if now really was the best time to read it or not. He knew it was better to be prepared but even still he didn't think he was prepared to read it - he still hadn't decided how he even felt about having a sister - not Hermione per se, he was over the moon about her - but a sister? How did he even be a brother? And his father? Had he cheated on his mother? If so then why? Everyone painted James Potter as a good man, one of the best and though Harry was starting to realise that was just hero talk he still wasn't sure he was ready to see his father in a different light yet.

He put the paper back on the table in the end and walked over to the worn looking chair that was next to the bed he had slept in the night before - he wasn't ready. He needed to decide how he felt about the situation before finding out what Rita bloody Skeeter and the rest of the wizarding world would feel.

As he sat down, head in his hands, he saw an aged envelope out of the corner of his eyes. It was sat on his bedside table and on closer inspection he saw his name on the front in beautiful gold cursive lettering. 'Harry James Potter' it read. He reached out eagerly and picked it up, running the pad of his index finger over the raised script as his thumb brushed against the wax seal. As he turned the curious looking envelope in his hands he saw the green wax with what he assumed was a Greengrass stamp holding it closed. The stamps was circular with two large elegant G's in the middle and a small rune that he couldn't decipher.

Harry didn't even think about whether or not he should open the letter, it was clear it was meant for him and he was sure their deputy headmistress had checked up on them earlier that morning so if anything was amiss she would have noticed. Plus, he was tired of thinking. The paper was one battle he could fight but not this. He was much too Gryffindor to fight this battle.

He didn't spare much care when he tore through the wax and opened the yellowing envelope, but when he delved inside and pulled out a few pieces of old parchment and instantly saw his fathers name a few times and even his mothers once or twice he carefully shuffled to the last page to see who had written to him. He was shocked, very shocked, to find the last page signed by Robyn Greengrass and, with a small look to the bedside of his new sister and not-quite-brother to see they also had old yellowing envelopes of their own from their mother he carefully went back to the first page and settled himself in his chair, bracing himself for what he was about to read. He didn't even question whether he should read or not, maybe that was the Gryffindor in him. Maybe he just thought he deserved to know the answers to his questions. Maybe he was too fed up of not having a clue what was going on so he went back to the beginning and readied himself for what was to come.

"Dear sweet Harry,

First I should apologise for how this letter and information is coming to you - I wish I could have been there to talk to you in person and answer any questions you may have had but, if my sister has done as she promised then my prediction has come true and I am no longer of the living world and for that I am sorry. No child deserves to find out he has a sister the way I assume you have and to have his questions answered through word of the dead but alas, this is the only connection I foresee we will have. In all honesty I'm not even sure this letter will reach you, you were taken away after the really unfortunate ending of the war. You were - are - just a baby and you don't deserve this. Hidden in the muggle world is what I assume. Either way you should be attending Hogwarts in seven short years and so it is imperative for me to write to you and explain everything.

If you're receiving this letter then you already know the truth. You have a sister. You share her with my own son meaning she is your fathers daughter. Due to the nature of birth dates you will attend Hogwarts together, might even already be friends - I hope so, I would like that. He would like that. My son also will be in your year.

She was safe, I promise you. Hidden in the muggle world where only one other person knew she existed. She has a good life, I know because I've seen. She's happy and that's all a mother can ask for.

You father was a good man Harry, he was noble and kind and so chivalrous. He didn't know Adaline even existed. Didn't even know I was pregnant with her. You might think of me as a bad person for keeping it from him but I couldn't destroy his happiness. Your mother, Lily, and you, you were his future Harry and I knew that.

We attended Hogwarts together and we were good friends, the pureblood families went back so far that the lot of us knew each other before we even stepped foot inside the castle doors. We were in different houses, he was a blood-traitor and my family kept out of the thick of things but we still knew each other. He was a good friend, always there to lend an ear.

 

After graduation my sister married quite quickly and your parents joined the order of the Phoenix which I assume you already know. What I'm not sure you know is that the day before graduation your parents broke up. Lily said that they had a war to focus on and that romance wasn't a priority. I know this because your father told me. He was devastated and she wasn't any better off. They adored one another but people were dying every day and I understood why she did it. He begged and begged but she didn't change her mind. That Christmas Eve we both ended up drowning our sorrows in The Leaky Cauldron, eventually we were the only two left in the pub and, well, I wont go into the details but I found out I was pregnant a month later.
My sister begged me to tell her who the father was but I couldn't, she would have told him and, like I said, he was a good man. He would have married me at the earliest opportunity and he was too deep in love with your mother and truly, they were meant to be. I couldn't take his future from him and, besides, I was already betrothed to another. We tried to get around it and keep the baby somehow but there was nothing we could do. Eventually my sister figured it out when your parents' engagement announcement made the Prophet and I wept for them. I was truly happy for the pair of them.

I know I was wrong keeping his daughter from him and your sister from you but it was the only way forward, he will hate me and I bet when we meet again he'll have a few words to say to me but, I stand by my decision. Without it we wouldn't have you. We wouldn't have Theodore and I could never regret you two. Your parents were so happy with you, sickeningly so.

Your mother knew of course, they couldn't keep secrets from one another. I bumped into her in Diagon Alley not long after you were born, it was early in September and your sisters first birthday was just around the corner - a hard time for me as you can imagine. I had Theodore to distract me, he was just a baby like yourself and decided to go to Flourish and Blott's looking for new books when it appeared your mother had the same idea. Motherhood was hard and we were both studious girls in our Hogwarts days so it was only natural we would try to fix the situation with books. She had you tied in a sling on her chest and you had the exact same shade of raven locks as your sister did, the same as your father - it almost tore me apart to see you but you know what helped? Knowing she was so happy. Knowing how happy your father was.

Despite my husbands obvious war affiliations your mother invited me for lunch for old times sake and so we went to The Three Broomsticks. It was tense at first, maybe more so on my end but once we had our butterbeer's in hands your mother thanked me. She actually thanked me for being a friend to your father. She knew the details, knew how far things had gone but there she was; thanking me for for being a shoulder to cry on and a decent friend. I wanted the ground to swallow me up because I was far from it. A decent woman would never have kept such a secret.
That was the last time we saw one another before...well before that night, and the only time I've seen you. You were such a sweet baby. So content to sleep in your mothers arms, you cooed away happily like only a child surrounded by love would and that sight, that made the weight on my heart alleviate if just a little.

I don't know what the state of the wizarding world will be when you receive this letter; right now they say we are safe though I believe that as much as I believe the Canons will will the league. It's almost certainly a false sense of security but I guess we should be thankful for even that just now.

If you come back to this wizarding world and are in fact reading this I can only imagine how little family you have here, your mothers parents died when we were in Hogwarts and she told me how awful her sister and husband were once, your only relative is in Azkaban for a crime that any sane person would know he didn't commit - you are most likely alone Harry and if not then you have a very small family. Please, please don't push away your sister - she needs you so much and I can only imagine how much you need her too.
I know this might be an odd request but my son...reading this means I am not there for him and I have no idea how long I have been gone but he was left in the care of his father. His father is not a good man but my son is, I did everything in my power to make sure of it and as I write this now I am sure my sweet boy would never be like the man that fathered him. Unfortunately I doubt he will have a lot of choice regarding his upbringing though I know my sister will be there as much as she can...please think about building a relationship with him, you share a sister. It will be easier all around if you could both get on. I imagine that you will be in different houses and we all know how house rivalries can be. You were destined for Gryffindor with parents like yours but my Theo...Nott's always go to Slytherin...give him a chance. He might not be your brother through a blood bond but sharing a sister is a big deal and if you could get along it would make things easier. Build a family together, the three of you.

I hope this letter answers at least some of your questions Harry, I can't even begin to imagine how you must be feeling right now.

All my love,

Robyn Greengrass."

Harry read through the letter twice more before he set it aside and finally let himself cry. He still wasn't completely sure how he felt but at least he had answers. His father had never known about Hermione, Adaline - so he couldn't be blamed. He hadn't cheated on his mother so he didn't hate him though a part of him wondered if he ever could hate the man that helped bring Hermione into the world. His mother had known and been okay with it - that part he was shocked at. Overall he was relieved that Robyn Greengrass had thought to write to him too, he deserved answers too and as much as he wanted to hate the woman for hiding his sister away like she did he knew enough about the wizarding world now to know it never would have worked out any other way. She was safe. She was loved. That was what mattered most.

Harry stood then and decided maybe he was ready to look at the Prophet after all.

Chapter Text

When Theo woke the first thing he saw was Harry sat with is head in his hands and what he thought were tears streaked down his face. He stayed in bed for a while longer to give the other boy some privacy before rolling as loudly as possible without waking Hermione, letting Harry fix himself save the embarrassment.

"She not woken up yet?" Theo asked sleepily as his hands found the vials of pain potion on the bedside table - it was almost a reflex now.

"No, the others have gone to class too its 10am" Harry replied as he tried to wipe his face clear of any stray tears.

Theo stood then and excused himself to the bathroom to ready himself for the day. Out of the three of them he was probably the happiest to find out he had a sibling all this time. Sure he had freaked out when Hermione's looks had changed and she had morphed into a dark haired version of their mother, it was understandable. But the truth was he was excited, he loved Hermione anyway evidenced in the counter-spell that had fixed his legs -- or was that only because she was is sister? He remembered the conditions meant it could be siblings, parents are people you loved unconditionally. That had him thinking then, all this time he had assumed the spell had worked because he loved Hermione and she loved him but what it if it had nothing to do with love? What if the spell only worked because they were brother and sister? But no, Hermione had said herself that she loved him and he knew he loved her, like a sister yes but he loved her and she loved him and as far as he was concerned that was all that mattered.

Theo ran the water in the sink and splashed his face with cold water to wake himself up a bit, he had heard their professor the night before and while he knew he didn't have to attend classes today he knew there were still a lot of things to face - his sister was one of them.

He entered the main room a few minutes later, fresh faced and teeth brushed but still in pyjamas as he walked to the table and plated himself up a breakfast that would rival Ron's appetite. He was busy shovelling forkful after forkful into his mouth when he finally noticed Harry was staring at what seemed like old parchment.

"What you got?" He asked after he swallowed the food in his mouth.

"A letter" Harry replied tersely, still staring at the script on the front of the envelope.

"I can see that" Theo started with a roll of his eyes "Who's it from? I didn't realise the owls could get in here."

"The dead. And they can't. This was left on my beside table, you have one too." Harry answered.

Theo choked on his juice a little at that answer and proceeded to look to his bedside table where he saw an aged envelope almost exactly the same as Harry's. "Who the hell would be writing to me?" He mused aloud though it was more to himself than anything else.

"Well, if it's the same person that wrote to me" Harry began as he looked up slowly and met Theo's stare "your mother."

Theo gulped. "My...but she's-"

"Dead? I know but it's definitely from her. Greengrass wax seal and everything." Harry muttered.

"Greengrass? But she was a Nott when...."

"I get the feeling being a Nott is the reason I'm getting my answers in letter form." Harry answered and though it wasn't meant to be a quip at his father or his family it came out that way.

Theo just nodded in reply. "You're not wrong" he whispered before using a napkin to wipe the edges of his mouth and walked over to the other side of the room where the letter sat on his bedside table. He fingered the oh so familiar script in an almost melancholic daze before turning over the yellowing envelope and seeing the Greengrass seal for himself. Harry Hadn't been wrong.

"Hermione got one too, well, she got two. I think" Harry said though it barely registered.

Theo just nodded. He cleared his throat and excused himself to the bathroom with the letter clutched to his chest. It had been nearly twelve years since he had seen or heard his mother. There were a couple of old birthday cards stuffed into his school trunk that she had written those early years that he would often look at just to see her handwriting and he once found a diary of hers though it had long ago been torn up and all that was left were the first couple of pages. This letter was definitely written by his mother, there was no denying it.

Theo hastily walked to the bathroom without sparing another look towards Harry or his soundly sleeping sister and turned on the shower then locked the door before falling down the back of it and letting himself burst into tears.

It took a full two minutes for Theo to calm himself enough to open and read the letter, all the while fresh tears streamed down his face.

 

"My Dearest Teddy,

My Sunshine, my world. How are you? Are you as well as I hope you are? Well, maybe not right now but I hope recent events aren't an indicator as to how things are going.

I am so sorry you are getting this all of this in a letter and I am not there any longer to watch you grow into the man I know you will be. If you're reading this it is because Aunt Willow has done her job correctly and either you, your sister or her other brother have somehow managed to brew a rather difficult family tree potion that has revealed some pretty unsettling news.

It is true son, she is your sister and I did give her up though it was my only option. I truly never wanted to have to part with her but there was no way around it. I was a Nott and the baby was a Potter, I couldn't have even disguised her as a Nott - the dates didn't match up.

I am so sorry that you have had to find out this way but if truth be told, I'm not sure I would have been able to tell you even if I was there myself, we both know how your father is. I'm sorry I left you son. I'm sorry I left you with him. I had no choice, I didn't want to leave you - I held on for as long as I could, please know that.

James Potter was a good man who was there for me in a time of sorrow, I never wanted to marry your father, it was a contract I was bound to from birth and one I can't regret even for the smallest of seconds if it means I got you. But James was...different. He was a good friend, a good man and he looked after me. I never told him about your sisters existence. There was no point so please don't blame him. He would have married me the second he knew if I had. But I wasn't James' happy ending and we would have resented one another. I married your father like the good girl that I was and barely weeks after your sisters birth I was pregnant with you, you were a welcome distraction from the pain of the grief and you were oh so wanted. You even looked like her though while she had raven hair yours was chestnut and while she had green and blue eyes yours were just green like your aunts. You were both so small though, both so beautiful and it broke my heart looking at both of you because I knew I had to give your sister up and when I looked at you I knew you had to grow up with your father as a role model. Your sister was free from that at the very least.

I hid her away in the muggle world where only your aunt knew she existed, it was a lot to ask of her but she took it all on despite being pregnant with Daphne - she is the best sister a girl could wish for. We stayed for a week in a muggle hospital before apparating out where I cried for weeks on end, your father often wasn't around in those days, off in other countries trying to pull others to his cause. The prophecy was released and I was even more scared, at first it only spoke of a Potter baby and I was a nervous wreck - when I realised it meant a new baby, a legitimate baby, it didn't lessen my fear - Harry is your sisters' brother and I felt bound to do what I could to protect him. But I couldn't do anything.

I started to take you into the muggle world with me, at first I told myself I wasn't looking for her but then I found myself at parks and each time I saw a brown haired girl pass me I would do a double take. Aunt Willow had glamoured her at birth you see and she didn't look anything like she had when she was born, not that it would have mattered either way since babies change so much. Eventually, by some fluke stroke of luck I - we - found her and she was happy, Truly happy, She had a new name then, Hermione so pretty and so unique - it suited her. Over the years the pair of you played and me and her mother would talk about our children and do you know what? I might have wanted more but just that, that was enough. To see her, to watch you two play, To see how happy she was and how loved and safe and to know, in my heart of hearts that no matter how I felt about losing my first born, about my baby girl, no matter what she was well looked after. She was loved.

We would meet regularly until one day your father caught us in our muggle clothes, he came home from one of his trips early and caught me off guard - I wasn't to leave the house after that and it killed me. Adaline was five by then and I had already told myself that the visits would have to end soon because I couldn't well have her recognising us in the Wizarding World when she came to school could I? But I wasn't ready, I hadn't said goodbye. You asked questions, you missed her nearly as much as I did so in the end I had to take away your memories.

I obliviated you son and I am so sorry for it but it was the only way to keep us safe. If your father knew we were in muggle parks talking to muggle people and that I was letting you play with muggle children....well we both know how that would have ended don't we?

He didn't get any better with the end of the war, he narrowly escaped Azkaban and since he had his heir he didn't need me anymore. Your father was never one to believe Voldemort had been defeated, he often talked about him coming back 'bigger and better and more powerful than ever' I'm sure you've heard it all before but for once I was in agreement, at least on the him coming back part - something just never felt right and regardless of what the Daily Prophet was telling us I wasn't convinced. Your father tried to train you up in the dark arts from the moment you were born but I don't think he expected me to fight him where you were concerned. I couldn't allow it. He looked at you like a pig to slaughter said you were to be ready for when his master came back but there was no way I was having it. I tried my damnedest son, I hope it was enough.

I want you to know that everything I did, everything, every little thing was for you and your sister. I love you both so much more than you can understand right now. You were my Teddy Bear and she was my little Addy and I adored you both so so much. If I could have had just one wish it would be for the three of us to live together, for me to watch you both grow up as brother and sister, to see Adaline's beautiful smile every day. But life didn't give me that wish, I don't have a genie so I make do with what I have and what I have is you. I love you son and I just hope I did enough for you. I hope I was enough.

Now, as a mother to a son we have to talk about Harry; he is your sisters brother and you are going to give them (both of them) a chance to be in your life. I don't need to tell you about Harry's family since it is always in the paper, the whole wizarding world knows about him and is family - his parents were very brave people and I've no doubt he's a Gryffindor so when you've read this, get your arse off that high Slytherin horse and go and make friends with him. You're a family - the three of you, you might not be brothers technically but you may as well be and damn you Teddy if you don't treat him like one I might come back and haunt you myself - and it won't be a good kind either before you start to get any funny ideas - we both know how scared you are of ghosts anyway!
I bet it's been a while since your old mum told you off eh? I hope it was worth the wait son, I miss you.

I don't know how long I've been gone for? A year? Two? Ten? Did I miss your special seventh birthday? Did I miss your first year going to Hogwarts? That first Christmas home after Hogwarts where I would have smothered you in kisses? Did I miss your quidditch matches? Do you play quidditch? Did I miss watching you stress as your took your O.W.L.s your graduation? Your first crush? I don't know son but I do know I will be there for all of those days and more, in spirit.

I hope when the time comes you meet the right person, witch or wizard I hope they make you happy and just know that while I couldn't be there on your special day, I will always be watching you. I'll watch you as bond yourself and I'll cry while my baby boy grows up. Then I'll laugh from the sidelines as you both try to wrangle parenthood. I know whoever you chose will be special because you are special and you deserve nothing but the best. I'm always watching Teddy,

Love Mum"

Theo sat in the steamed up bathroom and read and read and read until the old parchment was curling from the steam and he had no choice but to get up and turn the shower off since he had left his wand under his pillow. He had cried throughout the whole thing unabashedly and without thought. This was the last thing he had from his mother and while it ached him to read it and to know that his auntie had kept it locked away for all these years he also treasured it because it was the last thing he had from her.

As stood and was about to turn the shower off before he got a good look at himself in the non-steaming mirror and decided it was probably best to jump in. He folded the letter back up and took care to put it back in the envelope before leaving it on a stool and throwing his pyjamas on top of it to stop the steam damaging the parchment further before stepping behind the glass and cleaning away the salty tear tracks left behind and the ridiculous bed hair he was sporting.

Chapter Text

Hermione woke up when Theo closed the bathroom door and stretched in bed for a few seconds before deciding it was best to get up. Harry was still pacing the room with what she thought looked like the Daily Prophet in his hands. His hair was sticking up in every which direction, and his glasses were barely sitting on his nose. In fact, she was surprised he could even see where he was going.

Slipping her feet into the slippers the room had provided, that looked just like her own, Hermione trudged to the bathroom to take care of more important needs before tackling the day.
When she entered the main room again Harry was sitting back at the table, a glass of juice sat in front of him that he hadn't yet touched and the paper set to the side.

"Hey," he mumbled gruffly, barely looking up to acknowledge her presence.

Hermione smiled somewhat forcefully before making a show of looking around the room. "Where is everyone?" she asked.

"Blonde One and Blonde Two are in class, and Theo is in the bathroom." Harry listed off.

Hermione raised her brows at her younger brother.

"What?" he asked defensively.

"I'm not even sure where to start. Who's Blonde One and who's Blonde Two and...did you just actually call him Theo?"

"Well, that's his name isn't it?"

"I'm aware. I just wasn't sure you were." She replied as she poured a mug of coffee.

"Yes, well, apparently we are a family so I hardly think calling him Nott will be suitable anymore." Harry answered with a roll of his eyes.

"A family? Says who? The Prophet?" Hermione asked as she eyed the paper.

"Says mum," Theo answered as he walked into the room.

"Yep," Harry agreed.

Hermione looked between both of her brothers, brow furrowed in confusion. "I'm lost."

"What was it Harry? '...you might not be brothers, technically, but you may as well be, and damn you Teddy if you don't treat him like one, or I might come back and haunt you myself...' I think is what she said."

"Oh no mine was more like this 'He might not be your brother through a blood bond, but sharing a sister is a big deal, and if you could get along it would make things easier. Build a family together the three of you.' and, well, can't deny the dead can you?"

"It would be rude, even for a half-blood, brother."

Hermione watched on in amazement as her two brothers conversed like old friends and completely ignored the obvious signs of crying both of their faces held. "She wrote to you?" she finally asked when her head cleared enough to realise what was said.

"She wrote to all of us." Theo said as he put his hand on Hermione's shoulder and guided her to face the table beside her bed where two letters sat next to what could only be a rather expensive and old compact mirror.

"She wrote to me?" Hermione whispered though it was mostly to herself.

Theo answered her anyway. "Of course she did. You were her daughter, her first born. You should read them 'Mione." Hermione stood still and stared at the letters from across the room as her two brothers chanced quick glances at one another.

"Maybe I should get to class, Harry,” she said. “Draco and Daphne have gone and I'm already late." Hermione rambled nervously.

"No need, McGonagall gave the three of us the day off, or the week. I'm not too sure how long but today definitely. Too many prying eyes and ears. Time to adjust and all." Harry answered.

"But we've already missed so much!" She implored looking purely at Theo since he was the one to spend the week in hospital with her not so long ago.

"And yet you're both further ahead than me. It'll be fine, Mione. One day won't hurt us plus Ginny, Luna, and the ferret are coming back later for tea."

"Really? You can call him Theo," Hermione said pointing to her other brother, "But you can't call Draco by his name?"

"Old habits."

"We've been together since Halloween, Harry, and I can't see that reversing any time soon."

"What makes you so sure?"

"This." Hermione said as she reached up to finger the pearls around her neck.

"So he gave you a necklace."

Hermione sighed and rolled her eyes at Harry before turning to Theo. "You. Educate him on pureblood customs before he ends up engaged to Ginny without meaning to," she instructed before stamping over to her bed.

Had she spared Harry a look, she would have seen his eyes widen at the comment.

"Engaged? Really?" He whispered as she walked away. "They're engaged? There's no ring." It was Theo's turn to sigh this time as he pulled out a chair at the table and sat down to his first 'brotherly' conversation in well, ever.

Hermione paid no mind to her two brothers as she sat on her bed and picked up the envelopes. There were two, and they had both of her names on them, something she wasn't sure was a relief or a burden. She traced the golden script that read 'To My Darling Adaline Alegra Greengrass; Also Known As Hermione Jean Granger' and right in the bottom corner it said 'Read Me First'. She quickly flipped to the second envelope that was near identical except it said 'Read Me Last' in the corner. She snorted just a little at her birth name since Alegra basically meant 'illegitimate daughter' before she spared one last glance at her two brothers who had their heads together with a plate of food in front of them. She looked back at the envelopes and tentatively ripped the first one open.

"My Dearest Daughter,
My sweet baby girl, my little princess. Oh how I miss you. It hurts just writing this. As of today you're coming up on five years old, and I just wish I could be there on the morning of September 19th and watch you open your presents with a look of pure glee just as I knew you would. If you're receiving this letter then it means that you already know the truth.
My name is Robyn Nott (formerly Greengrass); I am your birth mother, and I love you with every fibre of my being. I was fresh out of Hogwarts when I fell pregnant with you, and it was just terrible timing all around. It wasn't your birth father's fault, and it wasn't my husband’s fault either. It was just, one of those things, as they say. Society dictated that daughters of the old families were to be pure, born, and bred in every sense of the word. We were to be betrothed from birth, and so I was. Unfortunately, my betrothed turned out to be a death eater. Bad luck for me, but it was my lot, and I had to get on with it. I tried to bring the wedding forward, pass you off as a Nott but my husband wouldn't hear of it - once a bond is in place there's no going back, and I suspect he wanted to live out his last few months of freedom with as many Knockturn Alley whores as he could find. I would apologise for my language, but you should only be getting this once you become of age, and you find out the truth - so long as your Aunt Willow has kept true to her word. She is a good person. Please trust her.

I met your father when we were children. Both of us came from a long line of pureblood families, and our parents attended the same society balls and galas. The Greengrasses kept out of as much of the war and anything dark as they could all whilst keeping their name clean to both sides. I guess you could call us grey. The Potters though were known blood traitors, not as if that was anything I cared about as a girl of course. All I cared about was whether I could have a second slice of cake or a new book. We started Hogwarts together, and by then I knew a little bit more about what being a blood-traitor meant, but I still never cared. Willow and I stuck to each other until the sorting hat tore us apart. She was a Slytherin like the rest of the family, and I was a Ravenclaw. It was a shock but a pleasant one. I was the first Greengrass to not follow the family trend, though I was thankful my robes were blue and bronze. They could have easily been scarlet and gold had I been brave enough.

On that first ride to school James Potter, I'm sure you already know by now that he is your father, was there to reassure me. He wasn't like the other pureblood boys that I knew. He was sweet and kind but funny too. Pureblood boys are trained not to be funny, and let me tell you sweetheart, women want funny. He was sorted into Gryffindor which I'm sure you already know (I'm very interested in where you might go when you get there yourself), and we saw each other a lot. We had many of the same classes together, and we continued to be really good friends. He fell in love with a muggleborn practically the first moment he saw her, and I teased him relentlessly over it. They were made for each other. Lily became a good friend over the years, and finally around the end of sixth year, she gave in and went on a date with him.  A year later they were still together.
Right before graduation things ended between them for a few months. Lily was scared with how many people were being lost to war. They were joining The Order of the Phoenix, and she wanted to sever as much emotional connection as she could while James was adamant it meant that the time they did have together was more precious. That Christmas Eve we were both drowning our sorrows in the same pub and, drink after drink, we began to open up about everything to each other. I was barely months away from bonding myself to a known Death Eater for the rest of my life, and I had no out; trust me we tried to find one but the search was fruitless. Willow even tried to use an old blood magic spell she had found, but nothing ever worked; I was stuck.

I mentioned earlier that pureblood girls are supposed to keep themselves pure. Unfortunately that is true. Thankfully knowing who I was having to wed, I never bothered with that aspect. It was mainly something the Slytherin girls did - daughters from the older families, and I wasn't like them. Not anymore. I had numerous boyfriends and fooled around. I enjoyed myself! And thank Circe I did because once I was married that was the end of that. So on that Christmas Eve night I wasn't exactly a virgin and neither was James. We were the last left in the pub and both far too drunk to apparate, fly or floo. So we decided to get rooms. Unfortunately there was only one room left with one bed. It was no big deal as James offered to sleep on the couch. He was such a gentleman sometimes, but I wasn't a hag. I made him sleep in the bed and, well, one thing lead to another, and now here I am writing to our daughter, the fruit of our labour that night. I can't tell you if we used protection that night; we probably didn't. Hogwarts is charmed so that accidental pregnancies don't happen to under-age students, so neither of us had had to worry about using it before. I guess it just slipped our minds, and we had drank a rather large amount of Firewhiskey that evening.

Would it be wrong to tell you that night was one of the better nights of my life? Would it be wrong to say I let myself come out of the depression I had been wallowing in over my coming betrothal and just be a teenager? Would it be so wrong to say I don't regret a thing knowing your father loved another? We talked the next morning, and I told him to go and beg, grovel, and do whatever it took to get Lily to see sense. They really were made for each one another.

It was only a month later that I found out I was pregnant with you, and Merlin, how do I even explain how I felt? Terrified, yet excited. I wanted you. I needed you, but it quickly became apparent I couldn't keep you. I could have told James about you, and he would have done the right thing by us for sure, I have no doubts, but he didn't love me. As you know there is no divorce here like there is in the muggle world, and I just couldn't do that to him. He deserved his happily ever after. When your Aunt Willow and I went into the muggle world, we found out there was an option called 'abortion.' I later researched that. It wasn't pleasant, and there was absolutely no way I was going to do it, however the point was moot. Darling, did you know witches can not abort babies? Something to do with the magic stopping it from being able to happen. It really is rather fascinating if you want to read about it. So after that we looked into adoption and soon found out it was our only choice in keeping you alive. It had to be muggle, of course, as you needed to be hidden, and it needed to be secret. We made a plan, and it went smoothly. My husband was out of the country 'on business' more often than not those days, so it was very easy to execute.

I went into labour on September 18th, and you were born the next day with your Aunt Willow beside us the whole time. Let me tell you sweetheart, you were, and to this day still are, the most beautiful baby I have ever laid my eyes on. Your hair was a wild mess of raven curls, and your eyes were changing right in front of us. You had beautiful porcelain skin and a little hint of pink to your cheeks; I almost named you Snow White right there and then. I had gotten into a lot of muggle things over the eight months before you were born. It seemed only fair that I had some knowledge of the world you were going into.

Willow placed the glamour on you, slowly, so the midwives didn't become alarmed, and as the hours passed, you started to change your colouring. Your eyes turned amber, and your hair became wilder than I imagined. You had freckles, and your hair was now the colour of chocolate and yet, even still you were the most beautiful baby I had seen.

We left on the seventh day. I left a note behind saying to put you up for adoption. Let me tell you, that was the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life.

I went home after a few days and spent those days in Willow's house. I cried for weeks. I sobbed. My breasts ached when you needed to feed, and my arms ached from being too light. You hadn't left me that whole week as we were always together unless Willow was cuddling you instead. You were, you are, so loved. More than you realise.

Eventually I had no choice, but to get on with life. I fell pregnant with your brother pretty quickly, but it wasn't a happy time for me. Daphne was already born, and Willow, as much as she tried, had so much to deal with already. Mothering me was the last thing on her list. Darling, I missed you so much it hurt. Even when Theodore was born I still struggled. Why could I keep him and not you? Why was now okay? Did it mean you would ever think I loved him more? Were you okay? Did your new parents love you as much as I did? They couldn't, but I hoped they did.

When Theodore was but a few weeks old I started going on walks around a few muggle parks. It was something I had been doing all throughout my pregnancy. At the time I wasn't sure what I was doing but now I know I was looking. Looking for you. It was silly, I know, but I couldn't help myself.

I'll never forget September 21st 1980. I walked into one of my favourite parks in a lovely muggle neighbourhood near the Cotswolds. It was like something out of a fairytale; still so full of summer flowers despite the late date. There was a lady there with a short haircut. She had brown hair and kind eyes and was trying to hold a screaming baby while looking in her bag for something. I didn't know what to do. I looked around, but there were no other adults nearby, and all the children were busy enjoying themselves. I hadn't had a lot of experience with muggles except for in the hospital and the few shops I would visit when needed while we were out, but this lady seemed to need a hand. I walked over, with your brother on my chest in a sling and took the baby out of her arms, gave her a warm smile and started to rock the baby - she quieted instantly, and the mother burst into tears. We talked for a while as I helped the mother but then, then I looked at the baby I was holding, and I knew I just knew that she was you. There was something about the eyes. They say eyes never lie; a saying I had never given much thought to until that day. There you were staring up at me. Your birthday had just passed, and you were looking at me with amber eyes instead of the green-blue I remembered them being, but I knew in my heart that it was you, and I cried. I had to pass it off as new mother hormones which really wasn't all that hard since I had a baby strapped to my chest, but that feeling of finding you after nearly a year to the day, that was beautiful. I got to know the lady as Helen, and her daughter as Hermione. We decided then to meet up each week for play dates.

Some would say I made a horrible decision and some would say I grabbed the bull by the horns, but I just wanted to be near you. I just wanted to watch you grow, and if that meant I had to do so from the sidelines, then so be it; rather that than nothing at all. As I write this letter, I have just left you and your mother. Yes four years on and we still meet weekly. I suspect the visits will have to stop soon for fear of you and Theodore knowing too much of one another when you start school, but I can't bring myself to do anything about it at the minute.

Just today another boy pushed Theodore over in the park, our park, and your mother and I watched on while you helped him up and kissed his knee better. That moment, that above all else, is why I come here every week. It was so beautiful; I thought my heart might actually break. You are so precious my dear and oh so loved. I met your father too, and let me tell you, I couldn't have asked for better people to take care of you in my absence. I just wish I could do it myself.

Adaline-Hermione, I have and always will love you from the very core of my being, and I know now that your adoptive parents do too. It took me a few years to realise they could love you the way I do, but I see the way they watch you, and I know you're safe, well, and loved. I shouldn't ask for more, and I shouldn't be greedy, but sometimes I take that extra long hug when we depart for home for the day; sometimes my kisses linger on your forehead as you toddle off in the opposite direction, and I just can't help it.

I've warned both of your brothers that you are to start acting like a family, the three of you. Threats of visits from the dead should help them get their arses in gear but if not, well you always were a motherly type sweetheart, so make sure they honour a dead woman's wishes, please. I know you have very little adoptive family. I grew very close to your mother, and I know it was just the three of you so, please, give them a chance. Give being a family a chance as I'm sure you won't regret it.

I must go now, dear. I don't want to; there is still so much to say, so much to ask, still so much to come, but I have to stop somewhere. I'm sorry I will never be there to see you graduate, see you fall in love and get married. I'm sorry I won't be there when you have your first baby and when you take your N.E.W.T.s. I'm sorry for every single moment that I have missed, more than you will ever know.
I have included a second envelope with a handful of pictures, the only ones I have of you and your brothers. I thought you might like them.

Love you, always and forever,

Robyn Greengrass, Your Mother"

Hermione stared at the words as tears pooled in her eyes before dropping the parchment on the bed and moving to the second envelope.

"Harry, Theo, come over here!" She called through the tears.

"Everything okay?" They called in unison where they were still sat with their heads bent at the table.

"I think we should open this one together." She answered as she waved the last envelope towards them.

"What's in it?" Harry asked.

"Pictures." Hermione replied sadly.

Theo gulped and nodded before walking over, letting Harry follow him.

Chapter Text

The three siblings sat on Hermione's bed as she fingered the back of the envelope too nervous to open it. "You do it," she said as she passed the yellowing envelope to Theo.

"You sure?" He asked though he didn't give her much time before the seal was broken and a small stack of photographs, mostly muggle, fell into his open hands as he tipped the contents upside down.

Theo didn't look at any of the photographs before passing the pile to Hermione as she was sat in the middle of the boys. The pictures were technically addressed to her, so it only seemed right she be the initial one to flip through them.

Hermione's hands were shaking as she turned the photos over to see the first one. She had only seen one photograph of her mother before, and though she knew she was Willow's twin, she didn't know if they were identical or not. She had no idea what to expect. Hermione turned the first photograph in her hand to see a very pregnant young woman who, though she did resemble the woman she now knew as her aunt, was still quite different. She was smaller, a bit more petite; she had the same long blonde hair, but with a small patch of freckles spattered across her nose and the same deep green eyes as Theo. The photo was wizarding, and the smile on Robyn Greengrass's face was infectious as she rubbed her hand lovingly over her bump and waved at the camera. Hermione twirled the photograph over to see the inscription 'Robyn and AAG 1979.' "She was beautiful," Hermione whispered as she turned the moving memory back over to stroke her finger over her mother’s head.

The next photograph had Hermione in tears. It was muggle, taken in a muggle hospital, and Robyn Greengrass was sitting up in a hospital bed with a newborn Hermione in her arms. The baby was barely visible under the blankets, but the look of adoration on her mother’s face as Robyn looked into the eyes of her newborn told Hermione all she needed to know. She had been loved. She was loved.

The next phootograph was a closer snapshot of her. Her shocking raven curls now more prominent without a blanket and hat holding them down; the three siblings couldn't contain their giggles at how unruly her hair was even then. Hermione had seen baby pictures of herself of course, but they were pictures from when she was Helen and William Granger’s daughter, not Robyn Greengrass and James Potter's daughter. She looked so different. So pale, her rosebud lips and rosy cheeks really set off the 'Snow White' look her mother mentioned in the letter. Her young eyes, wide open in this shot, were definitely not amber.

The next photograph was Hermione snuggled in Willow's arms while she had her own pregnant bump. "How far along?" Hermione asked Theo as she pointed to Willow's bump.

"Daphne's birthday is in October," Theo answered as he took the picture from her.

"She looks radiant," Hermione softly answered.

Theo nodded before they went on to look through the remainder of the photographs.

The next photo was of Hermione being breastfed while her mother looked at her with a somber smile, and the one after was a candid caught unaware as Robyn gave her baby daughter a quick, but loving kiss.

There were a few more with Hermione, her mother and her aunt, various poses and even a couple of wizarding pictures that made Hermione wonder how they had been developed without anyone knowing.
It was obvious which was the last photograph because both ladies were dressed and looked about to leave. Neither of them wore smiles nor had twinkling eyes, and neither wore muggle clothing. Robyn stole one last kiss to her baby’s forehead as Willow snapped away right before the pair apparated home.

The next few photographs were of the two sisters as Robyn's stomach grew with each snap. They continued to move in the wizarding way, but Robyn's smile was no longer infectious. It seemed forced, pained, her eyes no longer twinkled, and she looked the part of a broken woman. The three shuffled through a few pictures of the two sisters, baby Daphne and came to baby Theo. This was where Robyn's eyes regained some sparkle as she held her newborn son for the first time. The other various shots were very similar to those of Hermione's baby pictures. Breastfeeding picture, first cuddles, kisses, mother and son - all in the most precious of moments.

As the photographs progressed one caught Harry's eye. "What's this?" he asked as he pulled the next one from the pile.
Hermione turned it over and read the inscription "Me, Theodore, Lily and Harry 1980" Hermione read aloud before turning the photo back over.
She looked as her mother waved at the camera, a soundly sleeping Theo on her chest and Harry in his mother’s arms; both babies looked so peaceful, so surrounded by love as their mothers ate their meals and drank their butterbeer. Lily took Harry's hand and waved it at the camera as she smiled that big beautiful smile Harry only had seen in her wedding pictures. It was a picture perfect moment of two young mothers and their babies. "Wow," the boys said in unison.

"Shall we carry on?" Hermione asked after a while. Harry nodded but kept a tight hold on the picture of his mother, unable to return it to the stack.

Hermione flipped to the next photograph that was of Theo and her in the park. "She told me about this, in her letter," Theo said as he ran his fingers over the edges. These particular photos were muggle of course.

"Me too," Hermione whispered. "But, I think I remember it too. I remember a little boy, most likely you. We all called him Teddy. Mum used to talk fondly about him and his mum often."

"Mum always called me Teddy, or Teddy Bear," Theo admitted.

The next few in the stack were of Theo and Hermione in the park and a rare few of them with their mothers. There was even one of Helen and Robyn together. There were birthday picnics as each year passed, and the babies grew into children. Many of the memories encompassed cuddles, scraped knees, crying faces and lots of mud. Hermione and Theo's favourite was where they had been saying goodbye for the week and had been hugging and kissing goodbye; the love between the two was palpable even from the photograph. Another favourite was Hermione with her mother, her birth mother and one of all four of them together. If her mum was still alive she was sure Helen Granger would have been happy to know that this woman had been her birth mother all along and that Robyn had treasured her friendship with Helen as much as she had.

"Do I look like her?" Hermione asked Theo when they got to the last picture, one of a six year old Hermione and five year old Theo building sandcastles, as she tried to put them back in the correct order.

"Shit, haven't you even looked?"

"No, I mean...it wasn't...what if..."

"You're beautiful, 'Mione," Harry answered as he looked up from the picture he was still staring at.

"Yes, even with that Potter hair," Theo joked. "There's a mirror on your bedside table. Why don't you have a look? Besides, you can always glamour yourself back again if you want to," he answered nonchalantly.

"I am who I am. This is the real me."

"I know." Theo smiled.

Harry leaned over to the bedside table and picked up the old mirror. "Merlin, this thing looks ancient, and it's bloody heavy."

"It's pure silver and mother of pearl, Potter," Theo quipped.

Hermione raised her brow at her brother as if she was telling him off.

"Sorry, Harry," Theo corrected himself with a roll of his eyes.

"How do you know what this mirror is made of?" Hermione asked.

"It was mum's," was all Theo could answer before Harry pushed it into her hand.

Hermione didn't have a chance to hesitate, as the charmed mirror was enchanted to open in her presence. When it opened, after being practically shoved into her hands, she had no choice but to gaze at her reflection. Her new reflection.

"Wow," she breathed as her fingers touched every new part of her trying to mentally map these new features out while comparing them with her old ones. Her hair was much bouncier; the curls were far more defined, and the colour wasn't a dull brown like she thought her old colour was. Her eyes were the same shape but gone were the muddy brown irises. She now had the green and blue Greengrass eyes her mother spoke of. There was a thick green ring right around the pupil that faded into a vibrant array of blues. She still had some of her old freckles but only a small scattering over her nose, and she noticed her skin was much paler. All in all, she wasn't disappointed in how she looked, and she thought Snow White was actually rather an appropriate name choice.

oOoOoOo

The door flew open around lunchtime as Ginny stormed in followed quickly by Draco and Luna.

"I couldn't stop her, sorry", Draco said apologetically as their red-headed friend stormed over to the table and threw herself into a chair.

"What's up?" Harry asked as he looked at the three newcomers. "And how did you even get in here?"

"The wards were set to let me in, or back in, I guess. I don't actually know. All I do know is that Red here couldn't get in by herself, so she forced me to let her in.

"What's happened?" Harry asked again.

"What's happened?" Ginny demanded, looking between the three siblings who were still in their pyjamas. "Oh good Godric, you've not seen it have you?" She asked as her eyes fell on the unopened paper that sat in front of her.

"We've been a bit preoccupied," Theo answered defensively as he gravitated towards Luna and kissed her forehead. "Hey baby, you okay?" he asked quietly as Ginny carried on seething behind him.

"Is it that bad?" Hermione asked.

"You could say that," Draco answered grimly as he moved closer to Hermione.

Harry picked up the paper right then, there was no use putting it off any longer. "Might as well see what all the fuss is about then," he muttered as Theo and Hermione gathered around him to read it for themselves.

They weren't sure what to expect, but they definitely were not expecting to be met with front page news that screamed 'POTTER HEIR OR NOTT?". The three siblings groaned in unison at Rita Skeeter's audacity before Hermione carried on reading the article.

"It is with absolute displeasure that I have to relay to my loyal readers the unfortunate events that happened inside of Hogwarts walls just yesterday afternoon.
I am here to inform the delightful wizarding population of Great Britain that muggle-born Hermione Granger is no more. Sources confirm that a task set by beloved Potions Master, Horace Slughorn, went severely amiss, and Miss Granger, who was paired with none other than Draco Malfoy for the task, set her sights on a family tree potion that revealed more than our favourite muggle-born bargained for.

Let me be the first to tell you that Miss Granger, formerly known as none other than Adaline Alegra Greengrass, is the secret love child of one Robyn Nott and James Potter, may they both rest in peace. Now, readers may be confused due to dates, but let it be known that Mrs. Nott was in fact married to the esteemed Rowley Nott when Miss Granger was born making Nott Snr. her legitimate 'birth' father.

Being the well established reporter that I am, I searched the archives to the birth and marriage records, and it seems that Mrs. Nott was four months pregnant with the bastard Potter child when she wed Mr. Nott.

Why wasn't a contract drawn up with the young Potter heir? Why did James Potter go on to marry muggle-born Lily Evans? Why did they abandon their daughter in the muggle world? How does Mr. Nott feel about all of this? To find out the answers, and more on the dynamics of the relationship between the three siblings, turn to page two."

"Fuck!" Theo cursed loudly as Hermione finished the article.

"Should I read on?" Hermione asked as she looked Draco in the eye.

Draco shrugged "It's just more of the same, Love."

Hermione read on anyway. Apparently more of the same was for Rita bloody Skeeter to continue her previous week’s work in trying to convince her readers that Hermione Granger was dating not one but two pureblood princes despite the fact one was her half brother. The article was probably the most unflattering light she had ever been painted in, which was saying something. Hermione thought back to the time she had been written in a supposed love triangle between Harry and Viktor Krum in fourth year. That all seemed like child’s play now.

Theo was back to plotting ways to seriously harm the witch, and Hermione didn't have any more fire in her to stop him. She was fed up of being front page news, fed up of being the sole reason the gossip mill was still grinding, fed up of the pointing and stares. The whispers, all the lies. She was just fed up to the back teeth of Rita bloody Skeeter and was already planning on finding a tiny jar to trap the venomous witch in, again.

After the students managed to calm Theo down, which took a considerable amount of time, they dove into the meal the elves left for them, filling up on the delicious treats before Draco, Ginny, and Luna excused themselves away for classes with many promises to return for the evening meal.

Hermione took this quiet, and thankful, opportunity to soak in the large tub that the girls' bathroom offered while Theo and Harry played gobstones. She took the Malfoy family book of healing that Draco had given her for Christmas and lay in a bath full of bubbles. She quickly forgot about her worries, all the events of the past day, and finally relaxed.

oOoOoOo

Draco, Luna, and Ginny arrived after classes finished, just as promised, though they had Daphne in tow. The seven teenagers ate their evening meal in relative silence until Harry asked Ginny about Ron and how the rest of the school had taken the news.
Ron had apparently been indifferent to the startling news, but the rest of the school were acting as suspected, just as they did any time Rita Skeeter released an article about one of the famous golden trio.
With it decided, the three siblings would go back to classes the next morning. After a long, and emotionally draining day, Hermione excused herself for bed earlier than anyone expected. Daphne left to sleep in her own bed for the night, and Harry and Ginny decided to go back to Gryffindor tower leaving the Room of Requirement to become the Room of Sanctuary once more for the remaining two couples.

oOoOoOo

The students got themselves ready for breakfast, albeit slowly as Hermione and Theo tried to get out of going into the Great Hall where they knew they would be made a spectacle of, but with no food served by the elves in the room as had been done the day before, they were left with no choice but to show their faces to the rest of the school.
Things were fine for about the first ten minutes or so at breakfast. People did look and stare at the new brother and sister, and many pointed with hushed or outright questions about the validity of the article and the potion, which was fine by Hermione since it was the very least she had expected.
What wasn't fine though were the two howlers that were delivered that morning. One to herself and one to Theo.
Theo's was dropped first. The owl was his father’s and knew him quite well, but when it dropped one red envelope in front of its familiar recipient and flew to the other side of the room to drop the other one off in front of Hermione, the occupants of the hall held their breaths.
Theo's was the first to open "WHAT ON EARTH HAS BEEN GOING ON IN THAT DUMP THEY CALL A SCHOOL? THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE TEACHING YOU, NOT PARADING YOU IN THE PROPHET EVERY OTHER BLOODY DAY. IF I'M NOT READING ABOUT YOU BEING IN LOVE WITH THE MUDBLOOD - AND REALLY THEODORE YOU KNOW BETTER THAN TO BE NEAR FILTH LIKE HER KIND - THEN I'M READING UTTER HOGWASH ABOUT HER BEING SOME SECRET LOVE CHILD OF YOUR MOTHER’S. I'M WARNING YOU NOW THEO, IF YOU SO MUCH AS LOOK NEAR HER, AND I FIND OUT ABOUT IT...THINK ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES. THINK ABOUT THE FAMILY NAME. THINK ABOUT WHAT WE'RE WORKING FOR."
The moment the envelope tore itself up everyone in the castle moved to stare at Hermione as hers began to open, the same voice screamed once again. "WELL WELL WELL MISS GRANGER. I SEE YOU'RE STILL PERSISTING SINCE THE LAST TIME WE MET. YOU REMEMBER THAT DON'T YOU? DO KEEP IT IN MIND IF YOU THINK YOU WILL BE GETTING YOUR HANDS ON THE NOTT VAULTS, YOU MIGHT NOT BE SO LUCKY NEXT TIME - ILLEGITIMATE CHILD OF MY DECEASED WIFE OR NOT YOU ARE NOTHING TO ME BUT A STAIN ON MY NAME. DESPITE WHAT THE PROPHET SAYS. YOU ARE NOT, AND NEVER WILL BE, A NOTT HEIR. UNTIL NEXT TIME."
Hermione stared at the place where the envelope had been long after it had disintegrated into nothing. Most of the students and professors had quietly gone back to their own business.
The only silver lining she could find to this already horrific day was that she had Transfiguration next then Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Professors McGonagall and Snape were not to be trifled with. Merlin, she would give anything to sit through three hours of Snape drawling on about werewolves again if it meant no more Howlers from Death Eaters that contained not so subtle death threats.

Chapter Text

That Wednesday went by without another hitch. The news about the howlers travelled through the rest of castle, and soon enough every student knew what had happened. Questions were asked and gossip was as rife as it ever was, but Hermione kept her head down and got on with it; before she knew it the day was over and she was back in the Gryffindor common room snuggled in her own bed for the first time in about a week. The next day was a half day as the students broke up for the Easter holidays, and though Hermione had planned to stay at school and catch up on the work she had missed, even if she was still ahead, due to her week in the hospital wing, Sirius had written to her and invited her and Harry to stay with him. With everyone acting the way they were she figured it was as good of an excuse as any to get away from the drama for a couple of weeks. Maybe when she came back things would be better.

They had two classes then lunch before they were to head to the main doors before taking the Hogwarts Express home. Draco had been called home by his parents, and though he would have given anything to stay, he wasn't given a choice in the matter. Theo decided to show up at his Aunt Willow's house deciding that if his best friend, sister, almost brother and girlfriend were all going home then he wasn't sticking around either and joined his two cousins Daphne and Astoria at the doors when the time came. Even the Weasley siblings had decided to go home.

Transfiguration was first, like most days and even though it was the last day of classes before they went home for a couple of weeks Professor McGonagall did not go easy on her students, something Hermione was thankful for.
oOoOoOo

Ron had been partnered up with Pansy in Defence Against the Dark Arts. It seemed that their professors thought they made a good pair as nearly all of them were coupling them together where pairs were needed. It didn't matter anymore. Unlike those first few weeks of the Potions assignment they now got on, though they did fight like cat and dog and were always at each other's throat. But, when they were good, they were good; even if they tried not to let their friends see it or tried not to see it themselves. They continued their outwards projection of hate all the while hoping they got to spend more time together. It wasn't hard, with both of them left behind while their friends were all off dealing with crisis after crisis, they were forced into one another's company more often than not.

Which is exactly how they found themselves after Snape's Defence class that morning. Lunch was about to start and Ron wanted to find Lavender to say goodbye. The Weasley siblings had decided to go home at the last minute, and he hadn't had a chance to tell Lavender, who was staying behind for the fortnight, that he wouldn't be around.
Harry and Hermione had disappeared up to the Gryffindor common room quicker than you could say quidditch once class was over, and while Theo had undoubtedly gone to say his goodbyes to his girlfriend, Draco went to the dungeons to finish his packing while Blaise was nowhere to be seen. Daphne had gone to find her sister and so there they were, alone. Together. Again. Walking down the corridors to find Ron's girlfriend.

"You know...Draco told me what happened." Pansy said quietly.

"What happened?" Ron asked, clearly confused. "What do you mean?"

"That night, in the hospital wing." She replied.

"Oh"

"I thought you would have hit him."

"Me too." He admitted.

"Why didn't you?" Pansy asked.

"He saved Hermione's life." Ron answered bleakly.

"From what I hear she saved his first."

"So they say...he's still a ferrety git though."

Pansy threw her head back and laughed right as they walked past a broom cupboard that had some really interesting noises coming from it.

"Should we?" She asked with a glint in her eye as she cocked her head towards the door.

Ron stared and the door and shrugged "Why the hell not?" he asked as Pansy opened the door.

oOoOoOo

Draco had taken his last hour to go back to the vanishing cabinet after telling his friends he was finishing packing. He hadn't been trying to fix it much lately since he was so preoccupied with Hermione and the room was always in use and, well, it's not like he even wanted to fix the damned thing in the first place anyway, but if he was called home it certainly wasn't by his parents because in the six years he had been at Hogwarts he had only been called home once and that was to receive his mark last December. No, if he was being called home it was because he wanted him. Not his parents and especially not his father.

Thankfully while Hermione and Theo had been in the hospital wing Draco had taken the chance to practice more in occlumency and legilimency. He had taken extra lessons from his godfather and had become quite skilled, which was very fortunate since there was no doubt he was about to lie through his back teeth for the next two weeks if he wanted to live to see his seventeenth birthday. He wished he was just another first year again with no worries other than Harry Potter being allowed to play quidditch and he wasn't.

Opening the cupboard door for the first time in months Draco cast a quick tempus charm to keep an eye on the time as he charmed away the dust that had gathered since the last time he had tried, and failed, to fix it before opening up a book he sent by his father a few weeks ago and trying any of the simpler, less dangerous spells he could find. Frankly, he was done with danger for a while.

oOoOoOo

"Fuck!" Pansy half whispered as the door opened, and a naked arsed Blaise Zabini was caught pounding away into a bare chested Lavender Brown.

It took a few seconds before the pair realised they had been caught, and Ron and Pansy were subjected to witnessing them going at it.

"What the fuck is wrong with you?" Pansy screeched when they finally stopped and looked up.

Ron was stood stock still just staring at the pair of them. He hadn't moved a muscle since Pansy opened the door, and he let her continue her tirade.

"I thought you said you were stopping this Zabini," Pansy sneered at her house-mate and friend. "How can you stoop so low again?"

"Actually I never said anything, you just assumed and you know what they say when you assume things."

"I swear to Salazar himself Blaise, the only one making an arse of himself here is you. Put some fucking pants on. And you," she started as Lavender hastily threw her school shirt back on and tried to step out of the closet. "Do you have any fucking morals? On what planet is this behaviour acceptable? Do you like whoring yourself out to anyone that will have you?"
Lavender tried to step around Pansy as the Slytherin girl continued her tirade "Does it feel good? Do you feel good knowing you have a boyfriend, and you're off shagging some man whore who doesn't give two fucks about you? I knew you were loose, Brown, but I thought that after the last time I caught you, you’d have had the decency to at least stop."

Lavender burst into hysterics, and instead of trying to get around Pansy, since she was having no such luck, she stared at Ron and started begging him to look at her.

"Please Won-Won let me explain."

Pansy laughed. "He's just caught you shagging the enemy in a fucking broom closet, Brown. He might be a Weasley, but give him some credit!"

"Please!" Lavender begged again.

"Go," was all Ron managed to say before Lavender was running off in the opposite direction of the corridor, her bra hanging out of the pocket of her robe.

"And you better get the fuck out of here as well," Pansy said as she shot her friend the dirtiest look she could summon.

Blaise winked at Pansy as he sauntered out of the closet, his pants back on, shirt un-tucked and followed the same direction Lavender had left while whistling an unknown tune as though he was having the time of his life.

The silence that followed was deafening, the corridors were deserted as students got ready for the holidays. "You knew?" Ron asked quietly.

Pansy nodded and, to his surprise she looked sad about it. "Why didn't you tell me?" He asked.

"Would you have believed me?" Pansy asked him.

"Probably not but at least I wouldn't have looked like a bloody idiot." Ron muttered angrily.

"If anyone looks like a idiot, it's that fucking slag." Pansy retorted.

"I can't believe this...I can't...I thought...Oh Merlin." Ron was muttering, his face turning bright red as he got angrier by the second. He started to punch walls and doors, kicking anything his foot came into contact with until Pansy spotted Mrs Norris, quickly dragged him into the offending closet and closed the doors behind him.
She quickly set a muffliato charm on the small room while Ron smashed a shelf, until eventually Pansy managed to put her wand away and grabbed his hands in hers to stop him.

"Stop. You'll hurt yourself. They're not worth it. She's not worth it, I promise." Pansy said desperately as he fought her, still kicking away at whatever he could reach.

Ron couldn’t, wouldn’t stop, and continued to fight her. Merlin, he was strong. He didn't hurt her though. He somehow managed to reach every part of the cupboard but her. He did happen to break every shelf and snap every broom but not once did he lay a hand on her.

"Salazar this better work," she whispered to herself as she stood on her toes, reached her hands up to cup either side of his face, ignoring that he was still punching the wall, she kissed him right on the mouth.

Ron didn't respond at first but he did stop fighting. His arms fell limply to his sides as Pansy sucked his bottom lip, and just as her tongue traced his lower lip, he gave in and grabbed her waist. He slammed her into the back wall and kissed her back so forcefully, with such a hunger, that before she knew it, she was moaning loudly, thanking Morgana she had put a silencing charm up.

Pansy wrapped her arms around Ron as he moved his mouth to her neck and continued to kiss her. "You knew." He whispered into her skin.

"I'm sorry," she breathed heavily. "I'm so sorry, Ron"

He stopped right then and stared at her. This was the first time she had ever called him by his given name, and he realised how much he liked it.

"Why did you stop?" She pouted, her top shirt buttons already undone.

"You called me Ron"

"Well it is your name," she replied with a roll of her eyes.

"It's the first time you've ever said it though."

"And it'll be the last if you don't start kissing me again," she warned. He didn't need to be told twice, and before she could pout at him again, his lips were back on her mouth claiming it as his own. "Pansy," he breathed as his hands gripped her waist and held her close, so close it caused a delicious friction between the two of them. "Bloody hell, you feel so good."

oOoOoOo

The students all met up at the castle doors when the hour was up, and as their trunks would be sent by house elves, they travelled lightly. They walked down into Hogsmeade with both Hagrid and Professor McGonagall towards the train that was set and ready to leave for the holidays.

Hermione snagged a cabin with her friends while letting Draco and Theo go with Pansy and Daphne to their own cabin. They still had pretences to keep up despite recent events.

The ride was mostly uneventful. Ron told his friends that he had caught Lavender with Blaise, and they all bitched about her for the remaining of the ride. When there was barely an hour left Hermione left her friends to find an empty carriage and pulled the curtains closed. Once she was sure she was safe to do so, she messaged Draco using her charmed coin and asked him to meet her. No more than five minutes later he showed up and warded the door locked.

Draco took one look at Hermione and pulled her into his arms. "What's wrong, Love?" He asked as she started to cry into his shirt; thank Merlin it was black, as always and wouldn't show any stains.

"I'm scared. I don't even know who I am anymore." Hermione muttered through muffled sobs.

"I thought you had said you were still you?" He challenged her.

"That was for Harry and Theo's benefit. I want to believe it, but how can I? I don't even look like me, Draco. How can you still love me like this? This isn't who you fell in love with."

"Hermione, Love, look at me." Draco said as he stepped back just enough for their eyes to meet. “It's not the face, but the expressions on it. It's not the voice, but what you say. It's not how you look in that body, but the thing you do with it. You are beautiful."

Hermione sobbed harder at his sweet declaration and threw herself back into Draco's arms. "I'm going to miss you. I can't seem to sleep properly when I'm alone now," she said with a small laugh.

"Me too, Love. Me too." Draco replied, and the pair sat on the benches provided for a few more moments until Hermione stopped crying and managed to clean herself up. They left the room quietly, discretely, but not before messaging Theo and Luna to let them know the room was free.

oOoOoOo

While Hermione had excused herself Ron managed to get away and head down the other end of the train towards a different set of cabins. He walked passed Draco as he left his cabin and headed in the opposite direction all while his eyes searched and met Pansy's just before the door closed. He found an empty carriage and let himself in, thanking Godric that it wasn't summer and therefore were more empty carts than usual. He was just about to add a locking charm and silencing charm to the small room when the door opened.
He spun around quickly to see Pansy looking at him almost...shyly? But it couldn't be because Pansy Parkinson was anything but shy.

"Hey," He said awkwardly. It hadn't been all that long since they departed from the broom closet, and if he was honest with himself, he was already missing her. When did that happen? he thought.

"Hey," Pansy replied.

"Look, today was erm great-"

"Fantastic." Pansy corrected.

"Yeah, fantastic," Ron agreed, "but it can't happen again. I mean it was the best bloody sex I've ever had, we just...we can't do it again."

"Agreed." Pansy answered as she closed the doors and pulled out her wand, muttering charms at the door before turning back to him.

"What are you doing?" Ron asked, his brow furrowed as he watched the small witch work.

"Don't want to be caught. I'm not your ex. Wait, she is your ex isn't she? Because I'm not into guys that-"

"Now you ask? After what happened earlier, you ask now?" Ron asked incredulously as he raised a brow at the witch.

Pansy blushed just slightly "Well, I was taken by surprise, and fuck, I couldn't stop myself."

"It's over. Old news. Was over ages ago really it was just...a prideful thing you know?" Ron answered.

Pansy smiled stepping closer to Ron.

"Pans, what are you doing? We just agreed-we can't. It's wrong."

"It doesn't feel wrong though, does it?" She asked as she moved closer still.

Ron sighed. "No, it doesn't," he answered proceeding to move closer to her, letting his fingers trail down her bare arms. "Pans," he said defeatedly, "you'll be the death of me." He muttered before giving in and kissing her, again and again.

oOoOoOo

When the train pulled up into Platform 9 ¾, Sirius and Remus were standing next to Willow, waiting rather impatiently. Sirius was twirling his wand between his fingers while Remus paced back and forth, and Willow bit her nails. They couldn't have looked more nervous if they tried.

Harry was first off the train with the Weasley siblings behind them. Bill was there to take them home safely, and he gave both Harry and Hermione a quick nod. He extended an invitation for them to stay and then let his younger siblings say goodbye while he found their luggage before heading off to the Burrow.

Hermione spotted her three godparents, and her nerves began to set in. She took as long as possible to get ready and even went so far as going to find her own trunk until Remus walked up besides her and whispered, "You're not the only one who's nervous you know," as he pulled her trunk out of the pile. "We're still the same Remus and Sirius you knew last year."

"Yes, except now I'm the illegitimate love child of your dead best friend, and you're my godparents."

Sirius barked a laugh as he came up behind them helping Harry with Hedwig. "She definitely got her father’s sense of humour." He chuckled with a fond smile as beaming at the raven haired witch as if she hung the moon herself.

Hermione didn't have long to get comfortable until Theo was dragging her over to their aunt. If Hermione were being truthful, this was the one person she was most nervous to see. They had only met the one time, and while they had cried into one another’s arms, it almost felt like meeting your favourite celebrity. Her palms clammed up, sweat started to bead on her forehead. "Come on," Theo said dragging her away.

Willow beamed at the two siblings as Theo shoved Hermione in front of her. "I take it you're staying then?" She asked Theo eyeing his trunk.

"Something like that." He replied with a wink.

Willow rolled her eyes. "No owl?"

"Eh, no time. Everyone else decided to go home last night. Castle isn't the best place to be right now for some of us." He said as he side-eyed Hermione who was staring at her nails "And well, dad sent howlers, to both of us." He voiced as he enunciated the word both to make it as clear as possible he meant Hermione too. "And I'm pretty sure there was a death threat in Hermione's."

"He sent you a howler?!" Willow raged. "What the bloody hell for?"

"To keep me away from the Nott fortune and, like Theo said, threaten me." Hermione answered quietly.

"Well, this will not do. It won't do at all." Willow answered, and they could already see a plan forming in the woman's head.

Daphne and Astoria must have still been saying their goodbyes to their friends since neither of them were to be seen, but Hermione didn't mind. She hadn't actually met her younger cousin yet and wasn't sure if it would overwhelm her if she did.

Sirius, Remus, and Harry floated closer as Willow hugged both her niece and nephew. "I've missed you both so much," she said, and it was obviously genuine.

"You saw us on Monday night." Theo retorted as he tried to get out of her tight embrace.

"Not enough." Willow stated.

When she finally let him go it was Hermione's turn, and this time she held on longer. "Don't be a stranger, sweetheart. You're free to come by any time you want. I have a room set up for you or you can share with Daphne if you would prefer. Please think about coming to stay for a few days. Sirius has the floo address." And with that she kissed Hermione on the forehead, slowly releasing her sweet niece from her tight embrace.

"I'll-I'll think about it." Hermione gulped before they parted ways.

Chapter Text

The first few days of the Easter holidays were as awkward as one could imagine. Despite knowing both Sirius and Remus since her third year, and Harry since they were eleven, there was just something in the atmosphere that wouldn't clear up. Living with two men and a teenage boy came with its own problems too. Not that she didn't adore them all, but if she had to walk into one more room to a pair of dirty socks strewn across the floor she might just go back to Hogwarts and endure the stares instead.
On top of that her two godfathers were obsessed with educating her about her father, and while she appreciated the sentiments, she wasn't sure she was ready for it. Well, she knew she was but what she wasn't ready for were the looks they gave her every time she did something that was 'James like'. She had only just found out the man was her father; it was so much to take in.

She took to spending as much time in the Black library as possible and communicating with Draco and Theo, who was pestering her to visit him at their aunt’s home. Her homework was finished within five days and by the sixth she had exhausted all of the reading material in her text books. She would have picked up one of the books from the Black library, but to be quite honest, she wasn't really sure how safe it was, and she doubted Sirius himself did either. So instead she resigned herself to coming out of her safe space, even though she had a room she often shared with Ginny when they stayed with the Order. She had been sharing a room with Harry since they arrived, unable and unwilling to sleep alone since the Department of Mysteries anniversary was coming up and the nightmares more frequent; the howler from Rowley Nott making things worse.

It was early in the afternoon when Hermione finally emerged from the library and headed down to the kitchens for the first time in her stay. The rest of the house had gone to the Burrow for the afternoon for a little game of friendly quidditch and had given up asking her to join them in their frivolities. She had absolutely no inclination to be gawked at, for Molly to take pity and squeeze her too hard in a bone crushing hug whilst holding a wooden spoon. Neither was she ready for Percy's bluntness or the twins' jokes and fawning as her father was a Marauder and did she know what that even meant? That she was their hero or the daughter of their hero! No, she had chosen to stay home alone.
“Home” she thought. Sirius had already changed his wizarding will and vaults, everything of the Black name had been split equally between herself and Harry if or when the time came and he had put her name on the deed of the house just as Harry's was. He was still the sole owner but in the event of his death the siblings would each get half. She really wasn't sure how to feel about that but the one thing she did feel was overwhelmed. Harry had tried to split the Potter fortune too, but there was absolutely no way Hermione was having that. The Black inheritance was something she could eventually handle, but there was no way on Merlin's grave was she touching the Potter vaults. It just felt wrong. James didn't even know of her existence and Lily… No, it wasn't right, besides she had a sizable fortune from when her parents had passed. Their practise and home plus other properties had accumulated a fair bit in revenue and once the currency was changed from muggle pounds, her Gringotts vault had to be upgraded to fit everything in.
As Hermione entered the kitchen, she rooted through the cupboards to find something for her tea. Upon finding that there wasn't much in the way of sustenance, unless you counted Firewhiskey or muggle rum, Hermione decided there was nothing for it except to put on her coat and go shopping since there was absolutely no way she was going to ask Kreacher. Nor give him an order. The first day at Grimmauld Place Sirius had explained the house elf should answer to Hermione, as she was part of the family now. They did coerce her into giving him an order, one that Hermione only complied to when Kreacher was hurting himself purposefully. When the old elf had promptly stopped closing the oven door on his head it had become abundantly clear that he was bound to Hermione too, a fact she was very uncomfortable with. And despite her dislike for the old creature, she couldn't - and wouldn't - give him an order. So she grabbed a quill and some parchment, scribbled a quick note to her family, as they insisted on being called, pulled on a jacket and walked to the nearest shops she could find.

oOoOoOo

When Hermione arrived back to Grimmauld Place a couple of hours later after having taken a long stroll through a nearby park, she quickly noted that nobody else was home, pocketed the note she had left behind and got to work on the night’s tea.

So far they had only eaten takeaways. Kreacher wasn't very reliable, he was getting old and there was no heart to his cooking; his skills were slowly diminishing, and it seemed that neither Sirius or Remus knew a sauce pan from a frying pan. If it hadn't been for the local Chinese takeaway and Molly Weasley, Hermione wondered how to two men would survive.

She was prepping the vegetables when the floo chimed, and though she was expecting to see Harry, Sirius or Remus, she wasn’t all that shocked to find Tonk's on the floor of the floo, brushing herself off.

"Tonks!" Hermione greeted warmly. "What you doing down there?" she asked as she held out her hand to help the older, and quite clumsy, witch up.

"Well, I'm not scrubbing the floors like Cinderella, now am I?" Tonks joked as she took Hermione’s offered hand and pulled herself up. "Should remember not to floo when I get too excited."

"Excited?" Hermione quizzed as she stood in her apron. "Come and tell me while I chop the veg."

"Don't you have a house-elf for that?" Tonks asked with a raised brow as she followed Hermione to the next room.

"Yes, and still we eat takeaway every night. So I figured it best to cook for myself if I wanted to get any vitamins down me." She answered with a roll of her eyes " So come on, what's the exciting news?"

Tonks was already looking in the cabinets for the Firewhiskey she knew Sirius kept there and was pouring them each a glass as she answered "Promotion. You're looking at the new head Auror of team Mad Eye!" She grinned as she passed Hermione a glass and raised it in cheers.

oOoOoOo

It didn't take a wolf or animagus to sniff out the delicious home cooked meal that was waiting for them when Harry, Sirius, and Remus finally floo'd home later that evening. “Thank Merlin for magic,” Hermione thought as she ordered the three grubby males up the stairs to wash before they even thought about eating a bite.

Fifteen minutes after they had appeared in the grate covered in mud, grass, and Circe only knows what else, Harry, Sirius, and Remus - all of whom were sporting clean clothes since what they had previously been wearing were sopping wet and covered so thickly in mud Hermione wondered if they had ridden brooms at all or just had a mud fight - quickly bounded down the stairs to their first home cooked meal in ages.
They each took a seat at the dining table Hermione had already set and, with a flick of her wand, the warming spell was removed and a plate was placed in front of each person while she took to her own seat.

Dinner was tense at first; everyone skirted around Hermione like there was a Hippogriff in the room, but once they got a taste of the chicken that was presented to them, they all offered the chef compliments and Remus disappeared off to find a couple of good bottles of elf wine they had in the cellar. Before they knew it tensions were easing and they were back to being just Hermione, Harry's godfather, and her old professor. No longer was she treated differently because she was James's daughter. She was just...Hermione.

After dinner was over and Harry had cleaned up, Hermione challenged the group to a muggle game of Monopoly. She was so desperate to get to know her godfathers on a more intimate level, so whilst she was out shopping, she had chanced a guess at the best muggle board game for them to play. She might have been in the Wizarding world since she was eleven, but she didn't know a lot about their board games only those that were played in the Gryffindor common room.

When she pulled the box out Sirius's eyes lit up and the animagus ran off for the Firewhiskey and glasses while Hermione set the game up. Surprisingly, Harry had never played the game before, something that made Hermione feel instant guilt over when he explained he knew how it worked because he had been forced to watch Dudley play it once or twice. Her stomach knotted just at the thought. Tonks didn't have a clue but was mesmerised nonetheless, and Lupin had grown up with many muggle games in his house so understood the premise of the game perfectly. Hermione went over the logistics and rules anyways since it had obviously been so long since any of them had played, and before she knew it, she was four properties in and out of money. Sirius, playing as the dog of course, was trying to bribe her for Bond Street so he could complete the collection, and Hermione had a real smile on her face for the first time in days as he pouted at her and flicked his hair when she gave him a resolute no.

Going to bed that night Hermione felt lighter than she had in days. The weight of her adoption was beginning to lift, albeit slowly yet she could see that there was a light at the end of this tunnel, and that light came in the form of a family she never knew she had. A family who didn't even know they had her until a week ago.

oOoOoOo

Hermione had a nightmare that night, having drank a glass of elf wine at dinner and a couple of glasses of Firewhiskey, her mind and body had relaxed somewhat and her guard was down. So when she had fallen asleep in Harry's room just as she had been doing ever since their arrival that first day, she wasn't prepared for what was to come.

Masks. Dark. Black. Nothing. Silence. Screams. Smoke. Clouds. Red. Blood.

Hermione's screams woke the entire house, and both of her godfathers had come rushing to her aid only to find Harry had control of the situation. Remus went got her a glass of cold water while Harry and Sirius calmed the witch. Harry already knew how to deal with them after Ginny had explained once before. It wasn't her first nightmare, and it wouldn't be her last. In fact, if things carried on the way they were the situation would only get worse. It took Hermione much longer to calm when she saw Sirius as recent events ran through her mind. For the first time in his life Harry was actually wishing that Draco Malfoy was there because he knew the ferrety snake would be able to calm her with an ease that none of them possessed.

The next morning was a sombre affair. Tonks had stayed over and seemed to be the only one other than Hermione herself who was prepared to pretend that whatever happened never actually happened, and Hermione was glad of it. The older witch attempted to make them all breakfast, but when she burnt the toast and they had to open the windows to clear the smoke filled air, she gave up.

Remus took it upon himself to go out for breakfast pastries instead, and since Sirius wasn't up yet and wouldn't be for a while, the two teenagers were left alone when Tonks floo'd to work.

"I want to show you something." Harry had said as he pulled his sister through the house. They were both still in their pyjamas and sleep was still evident in their eyes since neither had had their morning cup of coffee, but she followed him anyway, curious as to where his enthusiasm was coming from.

"Where are we going?" Hermione asked as they passed Regulus's old room.

"You'll see." He said with a warm smile as he pushed open a door and tugged her into the room behind it. "Look!" He said as he pushed her forward.

Hermione stared at the wall and tried to see what Harry was getting at. In front of her was the Black family tree. It had the same scorch marks it always did in Sirius and Andromeda's place. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Sometimes she really didn't understand her brother.

"I don't get it" she said quietly.

"Here." Harry grinned as he pointed to a spot where a picture of one Dorea Potter nee Black was.

Hermione's eyes followed his hands as Harry continued to point out the Potter family tree. "And here," he said as he pointed out Fleamont Potter and his wife Euphemia, "are our grandparents then it goes down to dad..." Harry answered as his voice trailed off, his fingers slowly gliding across the tapestry.

Hermione noticed it then. Just as she followed Harry's directions, she caught what he was getting at. Right under James Potter were two spaces, one each for his children. Hermione gazed at the wall and took a closer step as she looked at the pictures. In front of her was a picture of Hermione with her Potter hair and Greengrass eyes. Her with the name Adaline. Her birthdate. Her with her pearls around her neck. Somehow that last fact threw her since she had only been wearing them since Valentine’s Day. Next to her was Harry. The family relation was something she had never noticed before. She knew the Black's and Potter's were related, knew all the purebloods were on some level, but never once had she thought to look so closely into it because never once had there been a need to. Yet there she was, staring at a picture of herself who sat next to a tapestry version of Harry, her brother. Her brother. It was real. It was really real. She was part of an ancient family that dated back, Merlin only knew well, and she was on a tapestry; it was real.

"Wow," she muttered as she traced the embroidery of her own name then that of her father’s. "I want to learn more about him. I want to know everything." She whispered just as quietly.

"I think we can do that." Remus said from the doorway, and the two teenagers turned to see their godfathers standing there watching them.

"Will you tell me?" Hermione asked. "I know I've been a bit-"

"Understandable." Remus answered. "Think nothing of it."

"Of course we will tell you, Kitten!" Sirius answered with a smile.

oOoOoOo

Half an hour later the foursome were sat, in what could only pass as a family room in name, eating danish pastries, drinking coffee and pouring over old pictures of James from as far back as Sirius had in his possession.

Hermione was sifting through the old pictures, most of them developed the wizarding way and the rare few done the muggle way as she listened to stories of her father and his adventures with his friends. She listened to what the Marauders got up to on the monthly escapades and the secret 'missions' he and Sirius would go on to get attention from their fellow female students. Apparently girls loved to stroke dogs and stags. She saw pictures of them all through school. Some from his wedding - something she found she wasn't sour about at all once she saw the smile on his face. She saw pictures of his stag night, spent in the muggle world. Pictures of her father holding a newborn Harry only stung a tiny bit as she reminded herself he didn't know who she was but knew had he known of her existence, things would have been different.

She sat and listened to the stories that accompanied the pictures as they ordered takeaway, played exploding snap and drank hot chocolate while the two older men reminisced. Hermione finally felt like she belonged somewhere in this world.

It was sometime later in the evening when a burning sensation upon her chest woke her up. She jumped up from where she had fallen asleep on the couch and in her tired state looked around for the danger. It took a few seconds for her to remember the charmed coin around her neck and when she did she hastily whispered the password only to find a message from Theo telling her to get her arse Willow's place, immediately.

Hermione quickly sought out Sirius and Remus and explained the situation to her two godfathers before they gave her the floo address. She said rushed goodbyes and jumped in the floo grate as quickly as she could, not even bothering to change out of the pyjamas she still wore.

Chapter Text

Draco wasn’t sure how he felt over the recent revelations. The fact that Hermione was actually some long lost Potter or that he was dating his best friend’s sister. His best friend and Harry Potter’s sister sort of made his knees weak with mixed emotion.
It’s not like he had only been dating her because she was a muggleborn though it was the reason towards his initial reaction to the magic stealing witch (or so that’s what he was brought up to believe). The fact that he was now dating a pureblood confused him no end, did they keep it a secret still? Did he tell his parents? His friends? Did they continue to hide it like she was some dirty little secret?
But they were on opposite sides of the war still and he knew deep down that they couldn’t come clean.

He’d received a letter from his parents calling him home the day after the Rita Skeeter article about ‘the biggest scandal to rock Britain’ was published and he knew it wasn’t his mother or father calling him home. He gulped when he read the owl, he would have even missed the fact that his best friend and girlfriend received howlers had they not been so damn loud. He listened in to each howler as the voice of Rowley Nott screamed at both students about blood, galleons and he was sure there was even a death threat in Hermione’s. When the rest of the students went to their classes Draco made his way to the dungeons and penned a quick reply to his parents. He assured them he would be home just as they asked, told them he was looking forward to seeing them and that things were going well. All lies.

Things were clearly not going well, he hadn’t worked on the cabinet since before Christmas and now he only had a mere three months to fix it and complete his task or he was doomed - though he’d known from the start he always would be.
He skipped as many classes as he dared to, instead spending time in the room of requirement and looking at the cabinet. He practised Occlumency and Legilimency and hoped it would be enough to satisfy the Dark Lord.

It wasn’t.

He was a nervous wreck on the train ride home, the brief few minutes he spent with Hermione in a warded compartment was the only reprieve he felt from the anxiety that pulled his insides in every which direction. He sweat through his robes, his top shirt buttons were undone because suddenly he couldn’t breathe and his hands were shaking. He was a mess.

He hadn’t been sure what to expect when they got to the platform but didn’t see anyone in the immediate vicinity so busied himself with his trunk. He watched out of the corner of his eyes as Theo was engulfed into Willow’s arms and his old professor nervously approached Hermione. He took his time as he saw the mismatched families coming together for Hermione’s sake, and felt a pang of sadness quickly followed by guilt when his girlfriend was in the arms of an aunt who clearly loved her like her own.

He was just feeding his owl treats when his uncle, Rodolphus Lestrange, appeared out of nowhere and suddenly fear struck him like white hot lightning. He hadn’t known what to expect but he hadn’t expected this. Now he wasn’t nervous and anxious, now he was shitting himself. He was terrified.
Rodolphus took them both through the barrier, thankfully Hermione had been too distracted by Willow to see what was going on and once they were out in muggle London Rodolphus quickly found an apparition spot before they were both whisked towards Malfoy Manor.
It wasn’t an easy task, side-along apparition, especially not for a man as stupid as his uncle who hadn’t seen fit to shrink the luggage before trying to apparate to the other side of the country.
They both ended up splinched but thankfully Narcissa was waiting with a bottle of dittany. She tended to Draco first, apologising profoundly to her son as the arm that had been holding his trunk was mangled. The dittany took away the pain and Draco managed to stand after emptying the contents of his stomach, Narcissa was much too small to carry him and he doubted her frail body could even hold a wand to levitate him inside.
Once inside he was met with his house-elf, Sunny. She eagerly took his belongings to his room and readied his bed as Narcissa went to brew a potion made purely for splinching, something they had never had use for before. He spent that first night in bed recovering and thanking Salazar he was too ill to attend a meeting.

 

He was allowed to rest for the next few days and he did milk the incident for all it was worth hoping beyond hope he could get away for it for as long as the holidays lasted.
On the fourth night he found himself reading the book Hermione had given him, he traced over her message with a delicate stroke of his hands as he imagined her saying the words to him. He was sitting at his desk in his room, his homework strewn all over the place, he couldn’t concentrate enough to do it though, in all fairness, he hadn’t done much work at all this last year. Sometimes he covered the bare minimum and sometimes he didn’t bother at all. Usually though, at the holidays he would at least try since the alternative was downright frightening. He would much rather spend his nights pouring over tomes on Charms and Transfiguration, Merlin, he would even prefer to sit through A History of Magic lessons with boring old Binn’s than attend Death Eater meetings.

Draco put his book back in his desk, there was a draw with a hidden compartment protected by enchantments and blood magic. So far there were only three things in there since he didn’t have a lot he treasured. The book Hermione had given him and the muggle watch which he clearly couldn’t wear at home. The last item was the most precious but not because of it’s value though he didn’t doubt for a second that the ring wasn’t worth a pretty sum. Draco had been thirteen when his mother passed on her mother’s ring, it was meant to go to the first born son but since there hadn’t been one it was left to the first born grandson instead. The ring had been in the Black family for longer than he could trace back. It had been worn by matriarch after matriarch, passed through the generations until it reached him. He was supposed to give it to a suitable pureblood witch of who had a decent background. He laughed at the thought as he opened the box and slid the ring over his fingers. It wasn’t too gaudy but it would still be a statement ring. The band was simple and plain, gold of the highest quality. Emeralds and pearls encased a decent sized opalescent diamond in a princess cut. It was actually rather...pretty, Draco thought.
He surveyed the ring as he thought about Hermione and the pearls she wore around her neck. He thought about what he had said on Valentine’s Day when he gave her those pearls, what he had promised was to come. He gulped. He wasn’t scared of the prospect of a future with the witch, he was scared of not getting a future with her. He’d known from the start, from the second he was told to kill Albus Dumbledore that he didn’t have long left. He’d not wanted to drag Hermione into the mess but she was adamant about staying and he couldn’t help how he had fallen for her. He agreed that many of the pureblood customs were ridiculous but he quite liked the jewelry one, he didn’t regret giving her those pearls. He knew what they meant, she knew what they meant and he would stand by his word no matter what. He had vowed that if he came out of this alive he would marry Hermione Granger, truth be told since she had taken a curse for him, since he had watched the life slowly die from her eyes and had her blood covering his body, since he had sat by her bedside for days and willed her to wake up he had been even more determined to marry the witch. The sooner the better as far as he was concerned. Watching the person you love nearly die changed your perspective on life and whereas once he had thought he would wait to ask her to be his in every sense of the word now he wanted to make the most of what time they had left. He was going to die anyway, maybe even both of them though he would do his damnedest to keep Hermione alive. Might as well live for the now instead of counting down the days. He quickly emptied the draw, placing all of the items in a concealed pocket in his robes as he hoped his gut was wrong. He had a feeling something bad was going to happen and he wanted to make sure he had everything with him at all times. He went to bed that night and couldn’t sleep, lying awake as he thought about all of the ways things could go wrong over the next week or so.

Unfortunately it turned out that by the fifth night he was summoned to a meeting. His mark burned and ached and he felt his bones almost break and put themselves back together when his dear Lord called upon the Death Eaters. He’d only ever attended one meeting before and that was when he had been initiated, he wasn’t sure what to expect.

He hadn’t expected to his father’s wand to be snapped or to see Professor Burbage of Muggle Studies being eaten alive by Voldemort’s pet snake. He ran out of the room and threw up in some ridiculous looking vase that probably cost more than the professor made all year and had awful pictures of some naked goddesses dancing around an egg.
He didn’t eat at all the next day, every time his mother sent up food the smell made him heave and all he could think of was how Nagini had swallowed a woman. Whole.
He worked on his Occlumency and Legilimency shields as often as he could, sleep had evaded him and was replaced by fear. He didn’t know much but he did know a few things, One - He was called back so he could give an update on his task. Two - He hadn’t actually done that yet and that meant at least one more meeting with Voldemort. Three - If he worked on his mind tricks enough he would be able to hide Hermione from the Dark Lord. No matter if she was a pureblood he knew that that wouldn’t go down well. Four - He was sure he was being made to sweat it out on purpose, he figured the Nagini show was mainly for his benefit.

He was called up on a few nights later, told to be in the drawing room at midnight, Draco didn’t know why but the meetings were always at midnight. He secretly wondered if Voldemort ever slept or what his fascination was with midnight before he dressed in his best robes. It wouldn’t do to let the family down and, since his father’s wand had been snapped and his mother looked like she was about to snap he was the only one who was able to try and keep the Malfoy name in some sort of high regard. What a task.

He tried, he really did but he had watched a woman be eaten by a snake just days before at that very table. His shields slipped and though Voldemort didn’t get the chance to see who exactly it was that was distracting him he was still punished for letting it happen. He tried to conjure thoughts of the cabinet. Tried to prove he had been working on it and fixing it. Sent images of his failed attempts that included Katie Bell and Ronald Weasley. But it wasn’t good enough. Voldemort dug deeper and deeper and it was clear to Draco that the the man who called himself the Dark Lord had had much more time to cultivate these skills than he had and when his mother squeezed his hand he relished in the small comfort he felt. That comfort cost him more than he would have thought. One second. That was all it took, half a second even, for him to be distracted enough for Voldemort to find out there was a girl. Narcissa squeezed again when it became obvious that the snake-like man wasn’t happy.

It was assumed the girl was Pansy, the small glimpse Voldemort had seen of Hermione were recent events and in all she had dark raven hair, just like Pansy. They threatened her life, her father didn’t even blink as they told Draco, in detail how many different wants they could rape her. How she would enjoy it.

Draco acted accordingly though to be fair it wasn’t hard, any man with enough decency would have. He was scared for Pansy just as he would have been had they thought she was Hermione. He agreed that Pansy was his girlfriend and hoped beyond hope the witch would play along if ever he needed her to.

He promised he would try better, told his master all about the twin cabinets and that he was in talks with Borgin and Burkes. Voldemort listened intently as Draco recited what was clearly a very rehearsed speech. He toyed with his wand, twirling the wood between his fingers and stroked Nagini with his free hand, seeming like he wasn’t at all bothered by the story Draco told and then, out of nowhere he said;

“The boy is yours, you’re free to do as you please”

Draco gulped and his eyelids flew open as he looked around the table at the faces that were hungry for blood, even his own aunt looked on at him like she had never been fed and he was the most delicious meal. His mother squeezed him as hard as he thought she possibly could, it was obvious what was about to happen. This was his punishment for not having killed Albus Dumbledore yet.

He gave his wand to his mother and took one last breath, one last breath that tasted of the death and bleach that wrapped around the room. He stood up then, nodded once to his master and took the last step towards his punishment.
He stood on the table as one by one the Death Eaters, his brothers took out their wands and aimed them at him. Bellatrix was first, Bellatrix was always first. She made a joke about how the Malfoy men were supposed to be good in bed and Draco nearly threw up at the implication “Isn’t that right, Cissy?” She had asked. Draco just wanted it to be over with. Bellatrix crucioed him. She didn’t hold back either, she never did. Draco knew she was crazy but it really made him wonder, he knew that you really had to mean it when you crucioed someone - so what did that say about Bellatrix? About him? About their relationship as aunt and nephew. He was forced to think of what Theo and Hermione had with Willow as he thrashed about on the hard surface of their dining room table trying to stop his jaw from clicking. He was jealous. Willow would never, never have done what Bellatrix did no matter what the cost, you could see it just from looking at the woman.
Draco stood when Bellatrix was done cackling, Rodolphus was next. His uncle had blamed him for the splinching accident when they had apparated home that day, he still wore a bandage around his leg and though he tried to be as harsh has Bellatrix he didn’t have the same power or energy she did and Draco had to pretend it was worse than it was. Truth be told he probably could have fought back against that one. Greyback went next. Then Nott. Parkinson. Warrington, Crabbe, Goyle, his father (with a borrowed wand of course). He was crucioed, cut, bled dry, imperiused, imperiused to the point he was crucio’ing himself. And crucioed some more. They whipped him with leather straps that dangled from their wands, bound his feet when they inadvertently tried to move and bound his hands just to keep him down.
At the end it was just him and his mother left, each Death Eater had left as soon as the show was over, Voldemort only staying long enough to revel in Draco’s pain and his father scarpering the second he gave back the borrowed wand.

He lay in a heap, he was sure he had broken bones, welt marks in his back and his body trembled with the after effects of the crucio but he couldn’t move, instead he lay in a pool of his own blood as his mother stroked his too blonde hair that was matted red.

“Well, I won’t be wearing these again.” He tried to joke when he was finally able to talk again. His voice was hoarse and rough, nothing at all like the usual silky tones it would normally carry.

“Hush now” Narcissa whispered as the tears flowed and her hands continued to stroke.

Draco wasn’t sure who was getting more comfort from the woman in that moment, him, who was just a boy in his mother’s arms or her, the witch who cradled her baby and cried.
“I need too-” Draco said as he tried to sit up. It was futile of course, he was in far too much pain to move.

Narcissa called her on the house elves, she had one ready the fire and another fetch a couple of extra strong pain potions. “Drink this son and hurry we need to get you to the fire before anyone comes back.”

Draco drank eagerly, he wasn’t about to pass up the offer of a pain potion but he didn’t understand what she meant when she spoke of the fire. “Why the fire?” He asked as he swallowed a second potion.

“We need to get you out of here darling.” His mother replied in clipped but soothing tones .

Draco reached out with his left arm, the one that was less damaged “No, we can’t” he commanded “Mother, they will kill us if they catch us.”

Narcissa looked into the eyes of her son, her son that was so close to death she dreaded to think just how much more torturing it would have taken. Five more minutes? Six more crucio’s? Ten more goes of the leather whip? She wasn’t sure exactly but she did know it wasn’t much, he’d already lost more blood than she cared to think about and he had taken the last of the blood replenishing potion the week prior when he had been splinched. If he didn’t get out now he would surely bleed out. “Not us, love. You. I’m going to stay here and you’re going to go and get better okay?” She spoke to him like he was the child that she saw lay on the table. She spoke to him as if he was the baby she had given birth to.

Draco nodded quietly “They will kill you” he whispered.

“And you will die if you don’t get out now, Draco. And besides, I’m your mother and it is not up for discussion.” It hurt Narcissa to talk to Draco that way especially when he was so close to death but she knew he needed stern words. He needed to not play the hero. He needed to listen to his mother and do as he was told. She quickly wrote on a piece of scrap parchment she found and stuck it to the front of his robes. “Who’s the witch then?” She asked as they waited for the elves to come back. “I know it’s not Pansy.”

Draco swallowed hard, he couldn’t tell his mother this no matter how much she asked, he just couldn’t. “It doesn’t matter” he said and was thankful when the elves arrived to take him to the floo.

The elves, his own included, levitated him towards the fire in the next room. It hadn’t previously been set up for flooing before which is what had taken them so long but they couldn’t risk getting caught by the any number of Death Eaters that might be lurking the rest of the manor. His mother went a head first, being careful to make sure nobody was in or around the room and, when they arrived safely at their destination minutes later Draco was placed in the floo. The elves scarpered as Narcissa aid her goodbyes.

 

“Where are you sending me?” Draco asked his mother.

“To the Greengrass’ I don’t trust anyone else enough to…” Narcissa’s voice broke on a sob and it took all of Draco’s energy to stay put.

“I’ll be fine mum and besides, Theo’s there.”

“He is?” She asked a little brighter as she picked up the floo powder the elves had brought down.

“Yeah, just, don’t tell his father. You know what he’s like.”

“I know. I love you son.” Narcissa said as she moved closer and placed a soft kiss on Draco’s forehead.

“I love you too mum.” he replied before he was engulfed in green flames as his mother shouted “Willow Gardens”.

Chapter Text

Hermione didn’t hesitate when her coin burned with Theo’s message. She could tell it was urgent and quickly located Sirius and Remus before explaining the situation. Thankfully, they gave her the address to floo over all while wearing her pyjamas.

She hadn’t been sure what could cause Theo to send such a panicked message and didn’t really think about it either, but when she arrived at the Greengrass grate she wasn’t expecting to come face to face with Astoria Greengrass who was clearly waiting for her.
Hermione looked over at her younger cousin, the girl was dressed as if she were to be attending a ball despite the late hour. Her robes were a sky blue with dragonflies embroidered around the hem; they had a delicate silver trim and hung from what little hips the small girl had. Her hair was pulled up into a high ponytail, blonde hair swayed down her back with sure and precise swings, and her eyes matched the colour of the robes she was wearing. The ensemble was striking on the girl, clearly very expensive, and suddenly Hermione felt like a pauper who was common, indelicate, plain. She felt like the epitome of an unfashionable pauper as she stood in mismatched pyjamas consisting of Draco’s quidditch shirt, a pair of old shorts and absolutely covered in floo dust since she was still getting the hang of using the damned thing.

“Good. You’re here.” Astoria said in greeting. Hermione could feel the iciness in her cousin’s tone and smiled sadly. She hadn’t had the chance to meet with her yet but had rather hoped things would have went down much smoother than having to deal with whatever was obviously bugging Astoria.

“Umm yeah,” Hermione answered not really sure how to respond. “I’m Hermione.” She held out her hand and plastered a smile on her face hoping it didn’t convey the nerves she felt.

“I know who you are.” Astoria replied as she looked at Hermione’s outstretched hand and ignored the small peace offering. Instead she asked, “shall we?” as she picked up the hem of her robes and turned around.

Astoria exited the room with grace with Hermione following suit. She still felt like she should have maybe dressed a little better, and Astoria was doing nothing to help that feeling subside. Even so, her gut told her something was wrong, and she would hate herself for wasting time in changing.

“Where are we going?” She inquired as they walked down a brightly lit hallway that was filled with family pictures, though not like the old portraits at Hogwarts. These were more like what her parents had once hung with the exception of being magical.

“It’s just down here,” Astoria replied. There was no trace of malice in her voice; if anything Hermione would have said she detected a small hint of uncertainty that was glued together with the hard mask she had learned to wear. Daphne and Astoria couldn’t be more different.

As she entered the room, the first thing she noticed was that everyone else was wearing pyjamas. Instant relief washed over her before she noticed her aunt was bent over a cauldron, and her brother and cousin were bent over the couch. She could hear hushed mumbling coming from a very frantic looking Willow, swearing from Theo, and she suspected Daphne was trying to be soothing. All in all they were clearly in panic mode, yet she couldn’t figure out why until she saw a leg from the other end of the couch. The smell of blood, burnt flesh and charred clothing polluted the air. She felt the bottom drop from her stomach as she asked Astoria the one question she really didn’t want the answer for since she could already feel the affirmation in her veins.

“Wh-who is that?” She croaked as she watched on in fear. She couldn’t even bring herself to be concerned with Theo’s continued barrage of swears at this point.

Astoria closed her eyes briefly, Hermione watched as her mask of indifference slipped. “It’s Draco,” her younger cousin answered quietly.

Hermione’s hand flew to her mouth as she tried to stifle the sob that escaped but it was no use. Before she knew it everyone had been alerted to her presence. “What happened?” She asked as tears started to flow down her cheeks.

Theo and Daphne moved to make way for her, and Hermione placed herself at the foot of the couch where Draco’s head lay, he was already out of it. She noticed the blood before she even recognised who she was looking at, he was covered in it. His hair was matted, thick and red, a contrast from the usual white blonde. His clothes torn, burnt and ripped so badly they could hardly be considered clothes since they were barely covering much at this point. His beautiful alabaster skin was mottled as deep bruises began to set. Daphne was inspecting his back. Hermione braced herself, took a quick look, and instantly regretted it. The tears sprung faster as she tried to count the whip marks. It was impossible. She pulled back and looked at him. She could still see the pain etched into the lines on his face, sleep might have helped but the pain was still there. She kissed him as light as she dared on the top of his head. It smeared with blood but she didn’t care; she needed to do something.

“Who did this to you?” She wailed as she stopped herself from touching him lest she hurt him even more.

Hours later Hermione still sat by Draco's side. Willow had long ago spelled as much of the blood away as she could when she had administered the blood replenishing potion, and Hermione sat running her fingers through his hair not knowing what else to do. Astoria had helped her mother where she was needed. She fetched ingredients and tools as Willow instructed while Hermione and Daphne tried to cool Draco using magical and muggle techniques; he was burning through the cooling spells. Theo paced the room and swore repeatedly. They still didn't know what had happened as Draco had collapsed the moment he arrived, but the note and the evidence was more than enough of a clue. Voldemort. Death Eaters.

Hermione had been crouched at the foot of the couch when her eyes fell across the bloodied piece of parchment. Without moving from where she sat, she picked up the curious note carefully and read it. “Please help him. Do what you can. There's no one else.” The penmanship was neat and feminine, if a little shaky. Whoever had written it had clearly had a governess as a child. Hermione gulped as she reread the note again. These were clearly the words of a distressed mother. She placed the parchment back where she found it and turned her attentions back to Draco.

oOoOoOo

Twelve full hours after she arrived in the Greengrass Floo, twelve hours of sitting beside Draco willing him to wake, twelve hours she sat there cursing each and every Death Eater she could think of. Twelve hours she imagined the gruesome, vile, painful deaths of them all while praying her boyfriend would wake. She didn't notice that nobody else left the room. She didn't notice she wasn't the only one holding a vigil by Draco's bedside. She didn't notice that Willow had called her godfathers to tell them what had happened, or that they had turned up, Harry in tow and waited for Draco to wake. She lost count of how many potions Willow had given him after number seventeen. She didn't notice when Harry and Theo each pulled up a chair either side of her. She didn't notice how everyone stayed quiet, holding their breaths as they watched the small rise and fall of Draco’s bruised chest. All she saw was how broken he looked. When she did see Harry she was instantly thankful for the conversation she had had with Remus the day before and the fact that her brother, who had been so intent on her boyfriend being a secret Death Eater, was now in on the loop.

“Remus, can we talk?” Hermione had asked her godfather the day before. She had pulled him into the kitchen by himself. Knowing that he was the best in this situation to talk to about this.

Remus Lupin had paled instantly and started spluttering “What’s err...this isn’t about err you know, is it?” He asked his face burning bright red, and he tried to look at anywhere but her.

“About what?” Hermione asked, genuinely confused.

“Well, you and Draco have been together a while and I’m not sure if…”

“Remus I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“I think Willow might be better to answer any questions you might have about err, you know, that.”

“That?”

“That.”

“What?”

Remus sighed, somewhat awkwardly and wiped his hand down his face in nervous embarrassment. “Hermione if you’re needing to talk to someone about sex then-”

Hermione’s face had burned bright red, and she choked on a cough as she realised what her godfather was talking about. “Sex?!” She asked incredulously. “No, Remus. I don’t need to talk about sex. Besides, mum and dad gave me the talk a long time ago. You’re off the hook there.”

“Oh thank Merlin.” Remus sighed. “But out of interest are you err….”

“Sexually active?” Hermione asked her mouth twisting into the same grin Theo’s usually did. “I am, and Draco satisfies-”

“Okay, okay that’s more than enough. Just, you know, be careful. And stuff.”

“That’s not what I needed to talk to you about.”

“But it does involve Daco, and I’m to assume it isn’t good?” Remus asked, his face returning to it’s usual colour.

“No, it’s not, and I’m not going to beat about the bush either as you’ll find out sooner or later anyways, and I don’t want to keep secrets from my family. Here’s the thing; Draco’s uhm a Death Eater. Harry is right about that. He has the mark on his arm, I’ve seen it myself. They forced him at Christmas, and it was done completely against his will.”

“He’s a-”

“Yes.”

“And you’re…”

“Yes.”

Remus gulped. “Okay,” he said quietly. It was obvious he didn’t like this news.

“One more thing.” Hermione started, “I need you to tell Sirius and Harry.”

“You... what?!”

“They’re more likely to listen to you than they are to me.” She pleaded. Before long he was reluctantly agreeing.

“Fiiiiine. I’ll tell them tonight.”

Hermione stood on her tiptoes and kissed her former professor turned godfather on the cheek. “You’re the best,” she said before leaving the room. She barely got three steps away when she heard him mutter that the sex talk would have been preferable.

Merlin was she thankful for that conversation now despite how embarrassing it had been at the time.

The occupants of the room started to fall asleep at around the eighteenth hour mark, but Hermione stayed awake. Willow urged her to take a nap, promised she would wake her if anything happened, but her mind was too occupied to rest, so she declined. The elves brought tea and occasionally some food though nobody ever touched it. The atmosphere was quiet and tense; nobody knew what to say or do.

It was thirty seven hours and sixteen minutes after Hermione floo’d over that Draco began to stir. She and Willow were the only ones awake as his fingers began to twitch in Hermione's hand.

Hermione quietly called Willow over when she noticed the movement, being careful not to wake any of the sleeping bodies in the room.

Draco's hand twitched again as the older witch sat beside Hermione. She checked his temperature and cast a quick diagnosis spell to see if she could detect any long term damage. She'd already had to reset his ribs, both arms and legs when he had first arrived, but as far as she could tell there was no lasting damage.

His hand twitched again, and Hermione found herself squeezing him back in return. “Draco, Draco wake up. You can wake up now. It's safe here,” she quietly called to him.

Her voice was calm and warm, but Draco could feel the worry radiating from her tone. He couldn't remember why she would be so worried but the dread he felt in the pit of his stomach told him that it was his fault.
He felt something, or someone holding his hand, squeeze him as hard as they could and though he knew that whoever it was had a feeble grip, it still hurt. He tried to squeeze back but it was no use, all he ended up doing was twitching again. Instead he drifted closer to her voice. He would have known that voice anywhere. He wanted to see the face that came with that voice. He needed to see her.

Hermione watched as Draco's eyes moved across his closed lids, she could see he was trying to open them, trying to communicate. His hand twitched a few more times, and she held onto him as tightly as she dared. “Please Draco,” she begged. “Wake up. It's time.”

His eyelids fluttered open and closed a few times before he was able to keep them open. It took a few seconds before his eyes fixed on the room and his surroundings came into focus. A few more seconds until he realised where he was. Then he felt it again, that feeble little squeeze he had felt before, he began to turn his head, carefully since absolutely everything was hurting him, and then he saw her. Grey eyes met her green and blue ones. It took a few seconds to place her. He’d thought she was Hermione but she wasn't. Her hair was too dark, her eyes too light, and she looked shorter. Her chest much too big, her complexion too pale but her voice, her voice was all Hermione. Then he realised everything. The events of the week before came flooding back as memory after memory assaulted him. He saw the potion, the parchment, the blood, the night under the stars. He saw her change before his very eyes when she took her turn. He saw the prophet, the train, the book, and the ring. Then he saw the snake, the wand, his professor. The meeting, the Death Eaters, his mother. He saw green flames, and then, nothing. Now he was awake with the onslaught of memories hitting him hard and fast.

He shook his head. He didn't need to relive all of those awful memories, once was enough. “Hermione?” He weakly croaked. “What are you doing here?”

Hermione collapsed into the couch, tears streaming down her face as she silently thanked the gods for answering her prayers. He was alive. He was awake. He was going to be alright.

 

Willow eventually levitated Draco to one of the guest rooms once she was sure he was comfortable enough and woke everyone else. Sirius, Remus and Harry all went back to Grimmauld Place to sleep though they were offered guest rooms. Astoria and Theo both left to their own rooms, and Daphne offered to take Hermione to hers. “Can I stay with you tonight Daphne?” Hermione asked. “I don't think...I get nightmares when I'm alone.” Hermione stuttered as they closed the door to Draco's room. She'd given him a kiss and said goodnight despite him being asleep before his head hit the pillow.
Daphne grinned at her cousin. “I thought you'd never ask. I've already had your bed made up.” She answered as she pulled Hermione to the room across the hall.

Willow had the elves send dreamless sleep laced hot chocolate to the four teenagers before taking a mug herself and going to bed. Tomorrow was a new day, and she apparently had a lot to do.

Chapter Text

When Hermione woke the next day she realised she had slept for nearly twenty-four hours. Noticing Daphne had already woken she rushed out of the room and across the hall silently kicking herself for sleeping so long, but upon opening the door found Draco still sleeping or rather, sleeping again.

She sat next to him and ran her fingers through his now clean hair, carefully checking under the blankets to see how badly the bruising was. When she had done everything she possibly could, she decided to just sit and wait. She was still wearing the pyjamas she had turned up in nearly three days before and hadn't showered since. She also had no idea where the shower was and no clothes with her. Nor did she know where her aunt, brother, and cousins were.

Willow found her not ten minutes later and brought with her a fresh set of clothes that Remus had had sent over. Hermione was directed to the shower and told to take her time.

Hermione entered the bathroom, her bathroom, that was attached to her bedroom, that she had been much to scared to look at when she entered, with trepidation. She hadn't seen herself in days and couldn't even remember if she had relieved herself once in the whole time she had been there. She couldn't remember much to be honest. Closing the door she walked in and set the clothes down next to bathtub on the counter. The bathroom was already fully stocked with more towels than she could possibly use and more than enough products, including a brand new toothbrush. She looked at herself in the mirror and for a second didn't recognise who she was looking at. She was expecting to see Hermione Granger, frizzy brown hair, amber eyes, freckles; that was the old Hermione. She was still getting used to her new looks, so it took her slightly by surprised when she wasn't expecting the raven hair, green-blue eyes and pale skin. The realisation of it all set in after a few seconds enabling her to relax. When she looked closer, she saw the blood, Draco’s blood, across her cheeks, the sallow skin and bags under her eyes. Her hair was a mess, greasy and wild, and her eyes were bloodshot. She sighed before stepping into the shower cubicle, turning it on.

When she got out, she dressed the in the clothes that had been sent over. The jeans were too long so she had to fold them up, but there was nothing that could be done for the waistband except for to find a belt. Her shirt fit where it touched, and she sighed as she tried to wrestle her new, braless, breasts into it but it was no use. She was going to have to find something else. She wouldn't have stepped out of the room except that she realised she was starving and had little choice. She brushed her hair and teeth before leaving, already feeling a smidge better.

Daphne was waiting outside for her when she opened her bedroom door. She stood with a checked shirt in her hands and pushed Hermione back into the room. “We really need to take you shopping.” Her cousin sighed as she threw the shirt at her.

“Whose is this?” Hermione asked as she pulled the ill fitting shirt off and slipped the gifted one on. Thankfully it fit far better, a little on the big side but better than what she had been wearing.

“Theo's. Figured you hadn't gone shopping yet living with all those men over there. Come on, let's go and get something to eat.”

“But Draco…” Hermione began as she ignored the rumbling in her stomach.

“Is fine. Mum gave him some dreamless sleep. He needs to heal, and you need to look after yourself. Starting with food and ending with girl shopping. Don't look at me like that ‘Mi. I know you're not wearing a bra under there, and if you go back to school not wearing a bra...Merlin, could you imagine Snape's face?”

Hermione huffed in exasperation. The last thing she wanted was to go shopping but she had to admit it was pretty necessary at this point as literally nothing fit her. The only reason she had done this well so far was because she was using seams-witch charms, but they only lasted so long. Daphne was right, she definitely needed new bras.

They ate their breakfast with Willow, Theo and Astoria, and Daphne made her plans known to her mother who slipped her daughter a large pouch of galleons telling her to make sure they get everything they needed. Astoria had turned them down when asked to go with them, and Theo wanted to stay behind in case his father saw him. Plus, Harry was apparently coming over to work on some project or other they had.

The girls floo’d to Diagon Alley where Hermione spent the day being dragged from shop to shop as she was measured in every way imaginable; lingerie, robes, and cloaks of all colours were thrown at her. Daphne wouldn't allow her to spend her own money, insisting her mother was paying. Eventually when Hermione finally got Daphne to see she needed a break, she took her cousin for an ice cream. The bags had been shrunk down and were inside Daphne's cloak so they didn't have to carry the load and could shop without the heavy burdens. Hermione was contemplating if she could get her cousin to agree to go to Flourish and Blotts when Daphne said “We're going into muggle London next. You know it?”

Hermione nearly choked on her ice cream. “Wh-what?”

“Muggle London. You need new muggle clothes, honey,” Daphne said with a smile.

“Does your mum know about this?”

Daphne smiled in reply, and Hermione groaned because she knew there was no way out of this. “Fine but we're in and out okay?”

“Of course!”

It turned out Daphne even had muggle currency. Hermione decided not to ask how, why or where her cousin had gotten her hands on such a large amount of muggle cash and instead let the girl spoil her. She figured the sooner they got it over with the sooner she could get back to Draco.

When they got back to Diagon Alley she had six new pairs of jeans, three new coats, twelve new dresses, countess shirts and t-shirts, more lingerie, and what Hermione claimed was an unholy amount of new shoes, even if she did secretly love every single pair. All of this on top of the robes, cloaks and lingerie that had already been bought in Diagon Alley.

They finally floo’d back to the Greengrass residence later that night, just in time for the evening meal. Draco still wasn't awake, but it didn't stop Hermione checking up on him as soon as she got back.

oOoOoOo

Draco woke properly the next morning, and though he was still bound to the bed, his injuries were healing much better. Hermione and the rest of the family spent most of the day by his side, and he even managed to eat something at meal times. Willow excused herself later in the evening when the Floo chimed and the six teenagers, Harry included since he had been there so much, relaxed back into their previous roles.

Hermione excused herself for a drink not long after Willow had left and followed the now familiar path to the kitchen. As she drew closer, she heard hushed voices and though she didn't mean to listen in there was nothing else to do except go back and that would have looked suspicious. She reached the door which had been left slightly open when she heard the words, “He'll be fine. There's some nasty internal bruising, and I had to fix a good few broken bones, but he's alive, Cissa. I promise.”

Hermione pulled back from the door unable and unwilling to listen in any longer and began to wait until it was acceptable to enter.

“You can come in now!” Willow called as Hermione heard the Floo close off.

“I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-” Hermione started as she entered the room.

“Nonsense sweetheart, I understand. You don't have to explain yourself to me.” Willow said as she handed her niece a glass of juice.

“Thank you.” She took the offered glass. “How is she? Mrs. Malfoy, I mean.”

“Probably holding up about as well as you and me, I imagine.”

“She's doesn't know abou-”

“Of course not love. Now, are you going to tell me exactly how you came across so many muggle clothing stores in Diagon Alley?” Willow asked with a twinkle in her eye. Hermione instantly relaxed.

It was so easy sometimes being with Willow and Daphne that she forgot they hadn't always known one another. She had only met Willow a couple of weeks before, and it was only this week they had actually managed to spend some time together, even as she looked after Draco, but the bond between them was strong; Hermione never once felt out of place around her aunt.

Over the next few days Draco grew stronger and stronger until eventually, two days before the holidays were up, was able to stand. The day after he managed to walk around the room, and thankfully, by that night he was able, albeit not as steadily as he usually was, to walk around the house again.

The night before they were to return back to Hogwarts, Sirius, Remus and Harry came over with Indian takeaway. Hermione's trunk had been sent over earlier in the week so she could repack her new clothes, and all the students were ready to return to school. They hadn't read a single paper in the two weeks nor heard rumours. When Hermione and Daphne had gone shopping Hermione had been thankful to her new looks that nobody recognised her, but once they were back at school all that would be over. She hoped the holidays would have given the gossip mill time to die down.

The three adults and six teenagers enjoyed a night in playing exploding snap, Wizarding chess and even Monopoly which Harry had brought along. Eventually it was time to turn in for the night, and everyone said their goodbyes before they went to bed. Hermione still hadn't slept in her own room, and she wasn't about to ask her aunt how she felt about her sharing with Draco, so Daphne was the next best thing.

She helped Draco up the stairs and kissed him goodnight as they arrived outside the doors.

oOoOoOo

The next morning was abuzz with activity as the teenagers set about to their last minute tasks. Draco's trunk was sent over, thankfully already packed, though he did quickly open it up to check everything was inside. Hermione had trouble fitting all of her books in as usual until she was reminded she was a witch and could shrink the books. Astoria, who Hermione had had very little interaction with since that first night, was the first ready, followed by Draco while the others lagged behind.

They finally got to platform 9 ¾ where they met Sirius, Remus, and Harry. Draco thanked Willow for her hospitality and quickly made his way onto the train to find a compartment lest anyone see him with The Chosen One and Hermione Granger.

Hermione said her goodbyes, finally feeling a sense of family about the people she was surrounded by before she got on the train to meet Ginny and Ron neither of whom she had seen in a fortnight.

oOoOoOo

As soon as the train left the platform Theo was dragging Draco out of the compartment by his collar and taking no care as to who saw. He pulled him along until they came the one Luna was waiting for him in.

“Luna, love, will you go next door and sit with Hermione and Harry for a bit? I’ve got a few things I need to sort out here. I’ll come and get you when we’re done.” He smiled at her as though he wasn’t wrangling his best friend down the corridor or that said best friend was currently struggling to breathe.

“Of course, love.” Luna replied sweetly as she stood on her toes and kissed his cheek. “Just don’t be too hard on him, he means well.” She skipped out the room and pulled the door closed.

Theo waited until he heard the next compartment door open and close behind her before he released Draco throwing a muffliato charm around the room.

“What the fuck was that all about?” Draco spat as he clutched his throat trying to catch his breath.

“What the fuck was that about? Are you fucking serious right now?” Theo started as his hand went to the pocket inside his robes. “What the fuck is this about?” He pulled out a small box that both boys knew housed an ancient Black family heirloom, an engagement ring.

“Where did you get that? I thought I had lost it.” Draco said as he relaxed in relief and stared at the box.

“Willow asked me to get rid of your robes when you turned up half dead. I emptied the pockets, naturally. Was a bit shocked to find this though. So do tell, What. The. Fuck. Is. It?”

Draco’s eyes rolled instinctively. He knew Theo knew what it was, hell he’d seen it before plenty of times. “A ring,” he answered coily

“Don’t play smart with me, Draco. I’m not in the mood. Why the fuck do you have it?!”

Draco grit his teeth. Theo might be his best friend, but he was getting on his last nerve. “I inherited it.”

Theo glared at his best friend, the man he would call his brother if anyone asked. “Why do you really have it? You inherited all kinds of shit you don’t carry around with you. Hell all of us purebloods have inherited one thing or another. I got my mother’s ring and you don’t see me carrying that around in my pocket do you?”

“I don’t see a bunch of Death Eaters in your house either.”

“No, you’re right. Just the one.”

Draco sighed, this was going nowhere fast. “Look, I’m pretty sure you can figure out why I have the ring on me all of a sudden.” He said as diplomatically as he could.

Theo raised a brow at his friend before staring at the small box in his hand. “Where you at least going to say anything? Ask her head of house?” He asked his voice taking on its usual tone.

“She has no head of house, they’re all dead. Her father’s dead, her birth father is dead.”

“She has godfathers”

Draco paled. “You really want me to go and ask Sirius Black and Remus Lupin for permission to marry their goddaughter? Why don’t you just throw me to the wolves?”

Theo smirked, “Technically-”

“Shut up, I heard what I said.”

Theo laughed then told Draco to wait. He opened the door and stepped outside before Draco heard him open the door to the next carriage and mutter loudly, “Potter we need to talk for a minute.” Before Draco could wonder what the other boy was up to he was now facing not one but two of Hermione’s brothers. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he gulped nervously.

Theo tossed the small box to Harry, and with the reflexes of a seeker, he caught it with ease. “What’s this?” He asked as he began to open it.

“Open it and find out.”

“Wheeeeeew” Harry whistled as if he were out a breath. “That is one very expensive looking ring. I’m not sure it’s Luna’s style, but if it’s what you like…”

“Luna? Gods no she wouldn’t wear something like this and besides, it’s a Black heirloom, not a Nott.”

“A Black heirloom? But why would you…” Harry started until the realisation set in, and he saw Draco stood there for the first time. “No.”

“I haven’t even asked anything.” Draco said trying to defend himself.

“It doesn’t matter. The answer is, and always will be, no.” Harry replied harshly as he pushed his glasses up his nose.

Theo smirked, and Draco rolled his eyes at the two. “Honestly, you two act as if you have any say in the matter.”

“We’re her brothers.” The two answered in unison.

“And she’s of age, albeit older and smarter than the pair of you idiots put together, and I’ll damn well ask her whatever the bloody hell I like. If she says no though, Merlin forbid she does, but if she does, fair enough. But, if she says yes, then you two will have to bloody well learn to deal with it.” He snatched the ring box out of Harry’s hand.

“Godric, I’m going to be related Draco-sodding-Malfoy.” Harry groaned.

The three stood somewhat awkwardly after that until Theo asked Draco what he was planning and, since Hermione was his sister, Draco thought it a bit weird to share all the details, though really he hadn’t given it much thought since every time he thought about it he almost threw up with nerves. He ended up stalking out the room saying he needed to find better company. Harry retreated back to his compartment and Luna breezed in before closing the doors behind her spending the rest of the journey just her and Theo.

The rest of the ride back to school was as uneventful as they could hope given the events of the previous week. Ron snuck off for a while when Hermione and Harry were talking about their homework and though the pair didn’t notice at first, they did wonder when he hadn’t come back before the trolley came around. They bought him a few pumpkin pasties and licorice wands, careful not to overindulge since there was a welcome back feast that evening, and Mrs. Weasley had sent them all sandwiches.

The feast went down fine. As expected many of the students forgot what Hermione looked like until she was seated in her usual seat sandwiched between Harry and Ron. There were a few whispers and stares, but nothing like before the holidays, so she gave it no mind. She went to bed that night for the first time in weeks feeling a sense of relief. She had no huge assignment looming behind her, no crazy revelations finding out she was adopted, no boyfriend on death's door. It was just like before Christmas, just her, her friends and her so secret boyfriend. And to top it all off, all her homework was done. What more could she ask for?

Chapter Text

The next two months passed by in a blur. Hermione went to classes, did her homework, she even spent some time with her friends and her brothers. When she wasn't being forced to sleep in her own bed - something she did begrudgingly since Draco needed to work on the cabinet - she spent rare nights in the Room of Sanctuary. The nights consisted mostly of just her and Draco, but occasionally Theo and Luna would impose on their alone time. Not that she minded of course; any to spend extra time with her brothers was a good one in Hermione's eyes.
The only things that had changed were Tuesday and Wednesday nights. With Harry banned from Quidditch for the rest of the year, he decided to occupy himself in other ways, ways that included Hermione's Slytherin family. Salazar's Protectors had been formed while everyone was staying at the Greengrass residence, unbeknownst to Hermione, and invitations went out to those they felt they could trust, or as was the actual case, those who knew about Hermione and Draco. Draco, Theo, Blaise, Daphne, and even Astoria joined Hermione, Luna, Ginny and Harry in the Room of Requirement twice a week to practice defence. Some of them were actually quite good at it. Defence came naturally to Draco and Theo who had been raised to war on those deemed lesser in the eyes of Purebloods. They knew how to shield themselves and how to block and were exceptionally talented when it came to hexes and complicated jinxes. The Patronus charm turned out to be a little more difficult for them all, the issue being summoning a memory that was happy enough. Astoria was the first the complete the charm, her little mouse ran around the room demanding attention from each of the other students before it came back to her. It was the first time Hermione witnessed seeing her younger cousin smile. Daphne produced her charm next followed closely by Blaise, yet the charm still seemed to evade Draco and Theo’s attempts at producing their own personal patronus. Hermione worried they weren't focusing on their memories hard enough, or that - though she hoped it wasn't true - they had never experienced a truly happy moment in their lives. Of course Draco had the added issue of being a Death Eater, and nobody knew if the mark upon his left forearm was hindering his efforts.

It took an entire five full weeks of diligent practice, and a lot of chocolate, for Theo to finally cast a full corporeal patronus. When he did, Luna was standing by his side whispering Merlin knows what into his ear as a majestic regal looking lion appeared out of the end of his wand. The lion slowly roamed the room making it’s way back at his caster’s feet preening under Theo’s appreciative, and amazed, smile.
Draco, though, still couldn't get the hang of casting the charm. Hermione pulled him aside one day to plainly ask what memory he was trying to use and finally found the problem: anything from his childhood was tainted with his father's presence despite how much his mother was included. The memory simply was not strong enough. Right then and there she vowed to make him some new, patronus worthy, memories.

A couple of nights later, when she was sure none of the other girls were in her dorm room, she opened her trunk to finally dig through the piles and piles of new lingerie that Daphne had insisted she needed. Some of it made her blush furiously as she didn't know crotchless-knickers were even a thing! The practical witch had just expected the usual bra and knickers, maybe a couple of different solid colours, but Daphne was certainly a dark horse. For all that she was the sweet loveable blonde who you couldn't help but become best friends with, she certainly had a wild side. Crotchless-knickers! "What is even the point?" she had asked Daphne. "They don't hold you in whatsoever. I might as well go commando!"

That was the point Daphne had quite plainly indicated to Hermione. "Easy access," the blonde witch said with a playful wink, and Hermione - not used to her new found pale skin - blushed brighter than the colour of a ripe tomato. "Oh sweet Circe," she whispered in the middle of the shop. After that she vowed not to ask anymore questions. As she trawled through her trunk, she openly wished she had asked more questions because honestly she had no idea how to wear any of this. In the end she opted for one of the simpler black two-sets. The bra part covered her well and even had an extra part of material that covered her stomach. Hermione knew it had its own name but couldn't remember what it was. It was all lace and silk, though did have a couple of wires down the front and sides - supposedly to hold her in better - though she hardly needed it as she was literally skin and bones. The lace was made of a beautiful rose pattern, if one bothered to look, something she didn't expect Draco to closely examine. The knickers, made from the finest acromantula silk you could find with a lace trim, were the perfect contrast. Hermione tried the garments on and looked at herself in the mirror before rummaging through the piles once more. She wasn't sure this was the outfit, even if the black looked amazing against her pale skin and paired with her raven coloured hair. She rummaged through until she found an almost exact replica of the outfit she currently wore but in emerald green and black. She quickly shook off the black basque and replaced it with the now emerald one. The lace trim on this was black with roses just as before where the rest was emerald silk, acromantula silk of course. She then pulled out a pair of black stockings with matching lace and pulled them over her bare legs. Hermione eyed herself in the mirror once more. “Hmm. Not bad,” she mused pulling out a pair of black heels tha