They waited until after Pansy had healed Hermione’s stomach, though it left a small scar, and Ginny made her a strong cup of tea while Draco poured the guys firewhisky. Draco sat beside Hermione on the couch and waited for her to start her story as she stared into the fire.
“Alright. So I’ve already told everyone here, except Blaise, that I was captured by snatchers while out hunting for Horcruxes with Harry and after Ron left us. I was taken the Crabbe’s house where I was forced to watch as they had their way with Anne, a young muggle girl. After a few days they decided to play with me too, but not in the same way. Voldemort had something special for the Mudblood friend of Harry Potter. After a few days of being broken down by the cruciatus curse, he finally came down himself. Bellatrix came down too and was all too happy to bind me while he poured this … this…vile, cold tasting potion down my throat and spoke the incantation ‘Maledicam Feri’. I fell unconscious and when I woke up it was just me him and Anne. He told me he had turned me into a beast, and that he would use me to kill my own kind because I wouldn’t be able to resist. He tried to force me to kill Anne by cutting her so I could smell her blood, but the only effect it had on me was rage at him and not a uncontrollable urge to kill. He figured he would starve me for a while until I was unable to resist and he left.
A few days passed and suddenly Harry and Ron where there with Kreacher, who had apparently apparated them in. they managed to cut the chain from me but after a Deatheater I didn’t recognise came down the stairs and he called out at Anne. I didn’t even have time to think about it before my body changed and I-I lunged at him, my j-jaws fasted around his throat and crushed his windpipe. H-he suffocated to death.
I-I shifted back and Kreacher came back. He didn’t ask any questions, but he did help me drop off Anne at a muggle hospital before returning me to number 12” Hermione sighed.
“Is that the only time you’ve killed like that?” Blaise asked in awe.
“No.” Hermione looked at Pansy, and she nodded with wide eyes. “The second time was during the battle. I was walking along the seventh floor looking for Ginny, but instead I… found Pansy. Some other young Deatheaters I didn’t know where holding her while one of them straddled her and they were…hurting her. No one deserves that. This time I did have control over it. I felt myself change and I snarled to give them a warning but they were too busy. I lunged for the ring leader of the three of them and again caught his throat, he bled to death while the other two ran, but I caught one who accidently fell down the stairs and didn’t get back up. The other one got away. I shifted back and helped Pansy, and Ginny who had seen the whole thing came to help too. That’s when you saw us Draco.” Hermione heaved a great sigh again and said “That’s all, that’s my story… please don’t be too angry with me, I am getting help for this curse… McGonagall has some ideas.”
“Why would we be angry with you Hermione?” Blaise asked with a frown. “It’s not your fault, and you have exercised an enormous amount of self-control of he wanted this to be uncontrollable for you. He underestimated how much you care for the things and people you fight for. You’ve used this to do nothing but help people, I mean, where would Pansy be if you hadn’t helped her?”
“Oh Mione…” Harry sounded like he had been punched “why didn’t you tell us what he did? Oh why didn’t I get to you sooner…”
“Don’t beat yourself up Harry, he was the twisted bastard not you.” Hermione suddenly said in a fierce voice, staring at Harry sternly until he nodded.
“So this is the secret you had?” Draco asked suddenly “And Pansy and Ginny knew?”
“Yes. They saw me shift.”
“But Hermione…” Harry asked with a frown “if he did this to you, why didn’t you use it to protect yourself that night at Malfoy manor?”
Draco visibly paled and fisted his hands. “I couldn’t control it then” Hermione explained “I didn’t have the time to think about it while we were hunting Horcruxes.”
“So you’re like an Animagus?” Blaise asked suddenly after a second of silence, sensing Draco would rather they stopped talking about this.
“That’s what McGonagall said, and Dumbledore’s portrait reckons Voldemort was trying to advance the Animagus spell. Only it came with side effects. My eyes turned lighter, my hair turned the same dark red as my fur colour, my teeth became pointed and sometimes I growl. Im scared the effects might get worse, but Snape’s portrait informed me there is a potion that can reverse any major effects…”
“I’d love to be an Animagus…” Ginny sighed and Pansy nodded.
“Yeah I guess it would be quite cool…” Blaise added.
“It’d be good for Auror training…” Harry smiled.
“It’s very advanced transfiguration, but I could teach you how to become Animagi, not the kind I am, but actual Animagi…” Hermione suggested, see how interested they all where.
“You could?” Harry sounded so hopeful as he lifted his hand from his hands where he had been resting. “I mean it’d be nice for you as well to have friends who could understand… hey, we’re going to have to start calling you the new Padfoot!” he grinned.
“Sirius is the only Padfoot or Snuffles around Harry” Hermione smiled at her friend and the memories of his godfather “But yeah… I might go home over the holidays, I don’t want to go to the burrow, but it’d be lonely to be in my parents’ house all holiday on my own so I could teach you there I guess…”
“Well, if you decide to do it just owl us Hermione” Blaise smiled then looked at Pansy who was drifting to sleep. “I think I should take Pansy back to our common room now, it’s getting late.”
“Yeah we should probably go too” Ginny said standing and tugging on Harrys arm.
Draco saw their guests out, and when he turned around Hermione was still sitting on the couch, but she was looking at him with wide cider eyes. “You’re not angry with me for not telling you are you?” she asked, sounding scared. “I wanted to tell you, I really did, but I didn’t want you to think I was a freak!”
Truthfully was he angry with her? No he wasn’t. He understood she was scared to admit what had happened to her and why voldemort had wanted to turn her like that, but then why was he angry. Then it hit him, what had been bothering him. She had jumped into Greyback to protect him, she had gotten hurt to protect him, and she was scarred because she protected him.
He was standing before her when he realised this, and knelt down so he was eye level with her. “Do you want the truth?” he asked, his voice sounded rough and unsteady and full of emotion. She just nodded and continued to look into his eyes, which was when he realised that she was the only one other than his parents and teachers who had even met his eyes while speaking to him no matter what.
“Truthfully, im not angry that you hid this from us; I understand why you’d do that, you were scared and just trying to protect yourself. What I am angry with is the fact that you got hurt trying to protect me!”
Hermione frowned “I had to protect you”
“I don’t want you to protect me!” he exclaimed “I want you safe!”
“And I want you safe!” Hermione countered.
Draco frowned at her “You’re very frustrating”
“And you’re not?” she retorted.
They stayed like that just looking at each other for a while, until Hermione reached out tentatively and brushed Draco’s fringe from his face. “It’s nice to know you care about my well-being…” she muttered, watching her fingers move his hair.
He caught her wrist to stop her moving her hand away from his face and reached out to brush her own hair out of her face, lingering on her hair he said “And it’s nice that you care about mine, but really, I don’t need you to worry about my safety. I only worry about you; I would face a thousand werewolves if it would keep you safe.”
Hermione licked her dry lips trying to think of a comeback. Why would Draco Malfoy of all people willingly face a thousand werewolves to keep her safe? He couldn’t possibly feel what she felt, and overwhelming feeling of affection for him that caused her unconditional unwavering need to protect him.
Draco was at war with himself. Why did she have to lick her lips? Her already inviting, delicious looking lips! She would probably hex him into oblivion if he tried anything wouldn’t she? Yet… he would never know unless she took a chance.
“Is that why you tried to protect me back there?” she asked suddenly, looking down a little.
“Is that why you tried to protect me from Greyback, when he looked around at us all like we were lunchmeat, you tried to push me behind you”
Draco nodded “Yes. I won’t let him or anyone harm you ever again.” he promised.
“I know I should probably be thanking you for thinking of my safety, but can I ask why you tried to protect me?” Hermione asked, still looking down.
Draco placed two fingers under Hermione’s chin, marvelling in the fact that her skin was smooth even under her chin and lifter her to look at him. Very carefully, he leaned forward giving her a chance to stop him if she wished, and when she didn’t he very lightly brushed his lips against hers. He wasn’t stupid, he knew how to kiss a girl without scaring her, but he had never actually felt feelings beyond lust for a woman, and though he was afraid to admit it he felt more than just lust for Hermione.
Hermione didn’t move when she felt a very light touch of his lips on hers, not quite a kiss but close to one. As though he was testing her, to see if she wanted this. When she didn’t pull away he pressed on more, kissing her truly but still gently, and she responded just as gently. The kiss quickly became deeper, until finally they both broke apart for air resting his forehead on hers he nipped her bottom lip one last time and stood up, pulling her up with him.
“Come, it’s been a long night. Let’s go to bed.” he murmured gently, looking into her eyes he immediately saw her incredulous look at his words, but he put a finger to her lips when she tried to protest he murmured “to sleep of course. Neither of us are ready for anything else.”
She immediately relaxed and let him lead her up the stairs and into his room where they spent the night, neither of them having bad dreams.
“So you’re spending the holidays alone in your parents’ house?” Draco asked Hermione the next day, watching her pack the muggle way. The train was leaving Hogsmead station that day at exactly noon and he had already packed.
“Yes, I don’t think I could stand to go to the burrow – not with Ron there – and it’s my house now… I may as well get used to it.” she said putting a pile of folded shirts into her trunk.
“You’ll Owl me if you need anything won’t you?” he asked sounding worried, which caused Hermione to look up at him where he sat on her bed watching.
“Course.” She smiled “I just so happen to know that my Gran decided to get me an Owl for Christmas anyway.”
“Your Gran got you an owl?” Draco asked surprised “Isn’t your Gran a muggle too?”
“Yeah, but her neighbour’s a squib.” Hermione smiled “And my Gran is the only member of my family that had any understanding of the Wizarding world and accepted me for what I was. Though, my aunt and cousin still visit me every holiday they bar me form using magic when they’re around” Hermione shuddered at the thought of her aunt Tina and cousin Betty.
“Maybe I’ll come see you over the holidays?” Draco asked hopefully “I don’t want to spend it in St Mungo’s with my dad and mum…” In fact his mother and suggested that he go to a friends for Christmas day, or stay at Hogwarts. His father had also written him a letter, albeit a very hard to make out letter, stating that Christmas would be dismal if he had to spend it in st Mungo’s.
“Maybe, but shouldn’t you be with family on Christmas?”
“My parents kind of don’t want me there… in St Mungo’s I mean…”
“Understood… do you even know where I live?” Hermione asked him, and couldn’t help but laugh at the sudden dumbfounded look on his face. “Here” she handed him a piece of parchment with the address on.
“Your house has a fidelus charm on it?”
“No, just something similar. Can’t be too careful, some people out there still want Harry, Ron and I dead.” Hermione shrugged “I cast it when I came back from Australia since it defiantly looked as though someone had been there.”
Draco didn’t say another word. He was still thinking about Greyback at the ball yesterday and wondering why the werewolf would want him, of all people. He knew Greyback and his father had a dispute of some sorts and that Greyback had never been allowed to be a true Deatheater. Perhaps there was no reason. “There, done!” Hermione exclaimed suddenly, slamming the lid of her trunk down and standing to pull on her black cloak with the silver fastenings. Today she had decided to wear a woollen black jumper dress and purple tights along with some flat black boots. Practical for winter and also left her feeling feminine.
“You ready then?” Draco asked as she cast a hover charm on the trunk and picked up the cat basket. Her kitten, Apollo, had grown quite a bit over the months. Hermione nodded and gave him a coy smile as he brushed his hand over her arm. They had agreed that they would talk about their kiss on the train, since they would have the heads compartment to themselves unless they wanted anyone to come in, and Draco was anxious to have it over and done with. He wanted to know if he could kiss her again, the woollen dress was clinging to her body and was making him think indecent thoughts about her, and as they walked down to the station together he felt ferociously protective as he saw other boys looking at her too. He wanted her to be his, and only his.
On the train Draco helped Hermione to lift her trunk up, and on their way down they train they met Ginny who said her and Pansy would pop by the heads compartment at some point after they had said goodbye to their other friends. Draco only hoped they would have enough time to talk before then.
When they did finally reach the heads compartment, Hermione was so nervous she couldn’t get her trunk into the luggage rack overhead without nearly letting it fall on her, much to Draco’s amusement, though he too was anxious, yet when the train pulled out of the platform and they both had sat down with the door closed neither of them knew what to say.
Finally Draco said “Do you regret kissing me, because I don’t regret kissing you one bit…”
Hermione smiled at him from across the compartment. “No I don’t regret kissing you.”
Draco let out a sigh of relief. “So… what do you want to do?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean would you agree to us being an actual couple?” He ploughed on in a hurry, trying not to let his fear of her rejection get in the way of what needed to be said. “I know it might be hard for you since no one likes me at all and you’re a war hero, but Hermione I… I’ve been starting to get feelings for you for a while now and I-“he was cut off when Hermione leaned over and gently placed a finger on his lips.
“I’ve been having feelings for you too” she told him softly. “And do you really think I care what other people would think?”
Draco stood abruptly, grabbing her wrist gently and quickly, he pulled her up too and Hermione didn’t have chance to say anything before his lips came crashing down on hers hard. Nothing about this kiss was gently like the one from the night before. One of Draco’s hands was the base of her neck, his fingers in her hair, and his other was at her waist pulling her closer. Hermione’s hands where around Draco’s neck her hands slowly playing with the hair at the base of his neck.
They jumped apart when there was a knock at the compartment door, and with a bright smile in Draco’s direction Hermione opened it to let Pansy, Blaise and Ginny inside. “Harry got caught up” Ginny said awkwardly as she sat down beside Hermione who had swapped sides and sat beside Draco who was now staring out the window, a grin on his face.
“Harry’s arguing with Weasley” Pansy said rolling her eyes as she ran her hands through Blaise’s hair. Blaise had lay down on the bench with his head on her lap, seeming to enjoy the attention he was getting.
“Oh, what has Ron done now?” Hermione was afraid to ask.
“What hasn’t he done?” Ginny suddenly exploded, and Hermione jumped back, further into Draco, who had also jumped. “Oh ‘Mione, he’s such a git! He’s invited Lavender to the burrow over Christmas, and Harry and I just walked in on them going at it like damn rabbits in the compartment! I already Owled mum saying I wasn’t comfortable with Lavender round, and mum doesn’t like it either, but now Harry doesn’t want to come to the burrow!” Ginny was so frustrated she hadn’t even noticed Harry slip into the compartment and take the seat beside her.
“Oh, wow, Ginny…” Hermione paused to collect what she was going to say. “Well, if Lavender gets that bad you know your both welcome at my house. You’ll have to be careful though, my aunt and cousin are sure to turn up at some point and they don’t let me use magic in front of them.”
Silence met Hermione’s words. “Your relatives don’t let you use magic?” Pansy asked with a frown. “Do they even know who you are? What you have done?”
Hermione shook her head “They think im a freak.”
“You’re not a freak. You shouldn’t let them push you around ‘Mione” Ginny said angrily “you’re a witch, you should be proud!”
“I am proud Ginny, but trust me, my aunt and cousin are scarier that a one-on-one potions exam with Snape”
The students visibly shivered, but dropped the subject to discuss topics with a lighter note. Hermione spent much of her time staring into space; though she was facing Harry and Ginny and had her back to Draco it wasn’t long before she started to doze off. Sensing this, Draco snaked one arm around her waist and puller her to him, so that her head was leaning on his shoulder and her back was pressing into his side. This action went unnoticed for much of the ride until Hermione began to dream again.
It was Ginny who first noticed she was having a nightmare by asking why Hermione was crying, and even as she asked it Hermione began to frown and fidget and make odd growling noises. Protectively Draco pulled Hermione closer to him until he had pulled her over his lap, with her legs hanging over his he gently woke her up. The others watched in silence as Hermione looked up at Draco with sleepy, wide, wet eyes, before burying her face into his neck, and Draco made soft comforting noises.
Pansy had to admit that it was the softest thing she had seen Draco do, and that Blaise did something similar to this when she had nightmares, which happened to be quite often. Very quietly Pansy and Ginny began the conversation going again, though their eyes would often flicker over to the two they now assumed where a couple, and eventually Harry and Blaise managed to tear their gaze away and join the conversation too.
Upon arriving at the platform Ginny and Pansy expertly managed to corner Hermione after the boys had left the train. “You’re a couple aren’t you?!” they demanded to know, and Hermione only nodded her head in response, a blush on her cheeks and grin on her face. She nearly fell over with the force of the two girls hugging her before all three wrestled their way from the train.
“You look happy” Draco noted as he held her hand on the platform. He was well aware that around them children where meeting their families, and then other than the Weasley’s if they had come that Hermione would have no one. Hermione opened her mouth to speak, but another voice cut across her.
“Draco?” the voice of his mother caused Draco to smile wider as he turned to see her. She still looked tired and a little sad just like last time he had seen her, but she had a large smile on her face at the sight of her son. He hugged her, unashamed as he had been as a young child.
“Mother, you know Hermione Granger” Draco said, taking Hermione’s hand again and pulling her forward a little to meet his mother.
“Yes, I remember her” Narcissa Malfoy smiled brightly at Hermione, her skilled eyes immediately noticing the ease at which they held hands, and stuck out a hand to shake Hermione’s.
“Mrs Malfoy” Hermione greeted, taking the older woman’s hand.
“Miss Granger, I understand you were made head girl? I do hope my son had been pulling his weight as head boy and not making you do all the work.”
“Oh no Mrs Malfoy, he’s been great actually. He pretty much sorted the Yule ball himself, he always offers to fill in for prefects who can’t do their rotas and he’s just in general been extremely helpful.” Hermione assured the older lady, glancing at Draco and smiling widely.
“Well I must admit, when I heard that you were going to be head girl I was a little concerned about how you and Draco would get along given history, but I guess that if you haven’t killed each other yet that you probably won’t.” Narcissa smiled, noticing Draco give Hermione’s hand a squeeze.
“Oh, what’s in the past is the past. Both Harry and I aren’t going to hold past actions against your son, nor you” Hermione smiled as the older woman looked surprised, but her attention was pulled away by a small tugging on her dress. Hermione looked down to see a familiar little boy sitting on the floor with bright blue hair “Teddy!” Hermione exclaimed, stooping down to pick the toddler up. He must have crawled through the thinning crowed towards her. “What are you doing Teddy, where’s Harry and Ginny?” Hermione looked around the crowed but couldn’t see any red haired clan around, and when she looked at Teddy he had a look of concentration on his face before his hair turned the exact same shade as Hermione’s, and she couldn’t help but laugh.
“A Metamorphmagus?” Narcissa looked at the little boy curiously “The last time I saw a Metamorphmagus was…. “Narcissa trailed off.
Suddenly Harry, Ginny and a familiar older woman with light brown hair and familiar dark eyes appeared in Hermione’s vision and she smiled politely at Draco and his mother taking a few steps toward the three new arrivals. “Oh ‘Mione!” Harry said sounding breathless as he took the little boy “We hoped he’d gone to someone familiar!”
“Child’s magic” Andromeda smiled at her grandson “he’s been disappearing and reappearing all over the house!”
“He must have gotten excited when he saw all the familiar faces again” Ginny explained as she made faces at the boy, who giggled and changed his hair to bright red.
“Andromeda?” a quiet voice asked, and Andromeda froze, looking up and past Hermione into the eyes of her younger sister.
“Narcissa?” Andromeda’s voice sounded like a whisper of itself as she stared, and Hermione, Ginny, Harry all exchanged looks.
Hermione felt like she was watching a very private moment and tried to look away but she couldn’t. Neither woman said anything and around them the crowed began to get thinner until Hermione could see the Weasley’s, who now noticed the reunion of the two sisters. Hermione wasn’t sure what happened, but suddenly both women had come together in a tearful embrace. Hermione figured this was the best direction the sudden confrontation could have gone in, Narcissa was the youngest of the three sisters while Andromeda was the middle child and Bellatrix had been the oldest – and thus from what she could tell the most influential on Narcissa’s life. After being branded a traitor by her family, Andromeda could have been angry with her younger sister, but this reunion spoke otherwise.
Draco sidled his way up to Hermione, Harry and Ginny. “Who’s that?” he asked pointing at the woman his mother was hugging.
“Your mum’s sister” Hermione shrugged, nearly laughing at Draco’s stunned expression. Teddy looked at Draco and his hair turned platinum blonde.
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