|The Mirror Series: Gifts and Sacrifices
Author: RZZMG PM
Draco will go to any lengths to save his wife, Hermione, from a demonic possession. He tracks down an old war hero believed dead for the task, but every good deed demands a sacrifice. H&V DECADE LATER CHALLENGE. Dramione,Post-Howarts-EWE,DARK. COMPLETE!Rated: Fiction M - English - Horror/Drama - Hermione G. & Draco M. - Words: 9,637 - Reviews: 30 - Favs: 82 - Follows: 11 - Published: 05-16-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6997597
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This was my submission for the HAWTHORN & VINE: A DECADE LATER CHALLENGE (2011). My prompts to include in the story were: 'Occlumens,' 'Fog,' 'Antidote,' 'Concealed,' and 'Mirror.'
I combined this challenge with UNSEENLIBRARIAN's FIC CHALLENGE. Her criteria were:
- Story must include Draco Malfoy x Hermione Granger
- Story must include The Mirror of Erised
The story below is the third story in the series I've written (the first was "The Mirror Series: That Which You Most Desire" and the second was "The Mirror Series: Forbidden Desire"). You don't have to read any of the other "The Mirror Series" fanfics to know what's going on here. "The Mirror Series" are self-contained fanfics that are not interconnected in any way, except by the criteria listed above. This is an experimental series that is open-ended.
Genre(s): Dark, Drama, Action, Horror, Angst
Themes: Curses/Spells, Magical Creatures
Timeline: Begins 2006
Details: Post-Hogwarts/Post-War, Compliancy is "DH-EWE?" (novel compliant up to May 2, 1998 - the end date of the war - and it discounts the Epilogue entirely).
Characters: Draco Malfoy, Hermione Granger, Harry Potter, Alastor Moody, Scorpius Malfoy + implied Severus Snape
Summary: Draco will go to any lengths to save the woman he loves from a demonic possession. He tracks down an old war hero believed dead for the task – a man whose vast knowledge of the dark things that shadow the world just might be the key to saving Hermione's life. But balance must be maintained, and there's always a price to pay for any good deed…
Rating: M (R - mild violence, profanity, squicky demon possession and exorcism, secondary character death)
Submission Notes: Author/Artist Note(s): This story is not just a Dramione ficlet, but also my little tribute to two much under-appreciated characters in JKR's world. These two wizards kept Harry from dying a dozen times over with their gruff, almost-unwilling mentorship. They were the best of the 'Old Guard' and deserved a better ending than JKR gave either of them in the final book, in my opinion.
THE MIRROR SERIES: GIFTS AND SACRIFICES
June 18, 2006 – Ten years to the day after the battle in the Department of Mysteries
With thickly-padded, leather gloves, Hermione clipped the blushing red-pink rose from its woody stem, careful of the sharp thorns. She loved tending to the Manor House's garden, especially her mother-in-law's prized rose bushes. Flowers made her happy in a way that very few things could; they were uplifting, almost divine in their beauty. They were God's perfect gift to the world and she loved watching them grow and sharing them with others.
As she twirled the one in her hand, inspecting it with a keen eye, she decided that this one wasn't going in the bag with the Undetectable Extension Charm at her hip for later arranging in one of the many vases in the house. This one - this particularly perfect specimen – she'd leave for her husband on his desk in his study as a romantic gesture to thank him for the night before.
Wiping the summer's heat from her brow, she blushed reliving those memories again. His lovemaking last evening had been so sweet and tender - two adjectives she'd never have pinned on the likes of her husband prior to their dating.
Granted, their courtship had been rushed by the intensity of their surprisingly unexpected feelings for each other (oh, how they'd been, and still were the shag-me-within-an-inch-of-my-life kind of hot for each other!), but never had she felt so sure of a decision than the day she'd accepted his charmingly-planned, clumsily-delivered proposal. That wasn't to say there weren't still occasions when she'd look at him, or hear that tone in his voice, and she would flashback to the horrors of their childhood antagonism of each other, but overall, he was her ideal mate on every level - an intellectual with cultural refinement. He had good taste, good looks, and good manners… and one hell of a sexy arse!
Just thinking of that backside right now made her overheated in a way that had little to do with the noontime sun. Maybe she'd just go see if she couldn't interrupt his work with a little offer of 'lunch.'
She made it two steps towards the house before the end-all, be-all of cramps erupted through her mid-section, bringing her to her knees and forcing her to drop both the rose and the pruning shears to catch her weight. The mild indigestion and spasms she'd been feeling on and off for the past week were suddenly a hundred-times worse, the pain flaring through every nerve in her body. Her heart pounded into her suddenly dry mouth.
What was happening?
A jolt of electricity unexpectedly shot up her spine into the back of her skull, causing brilliant, speckling flares of white behind her eyelids. She screamed as a tremendous pressure exerted through her abdomen at the same exact moment, culminating in a sticky, hot rush of fluid between her legs. Had her bladder released?
When there was a respite, in between panting and moaning from the residual pain, she hazarded a glance at her lower body. No, the very dark fluid that leaked from her thighs stained her white linen skirt a definitive crimson-black color. Definitely not urine. That only left one other alternative, but she was sure that blood didn't look quite so… oily.
A light summer breeze picked up at just that moment and carried an offensive stench from the region of her crotch to her delicate nostrils: decaying flesh. She recalled the scent well from those long days after the Final Battle of Hogwarts when she'd helped to search the bushes and lesser-used paths about the Forbidden Forest looking for the bodies of the missing. By day three, in the late-Spring/early-Summer weather, the smell had been ghastly.
She gagged. Oh, God, was she perhaps miscarrying a fetus? But she hadn't even known she was pregnant!
Her insides twisted up into tight, hot knots once more and her blood roared like fire through her veins. She screamed a second time in an agony she hadn't felt the equivalent of since Bellatrix Lestrange had hit her with the Cruciatus Curse. Her spine bowed and she fell backwards until her head hit the lawn, thankfully spared from damage by the soft, loamy grass.
When she was able, she peeled her lids back and stared up into the too-blue sky, praying to God for help, even as she used the last of her strength to call for her husband.
Two months later…
Tendrils of thick, grey fog wafted about his hurrying legs as Draco rushed past the storefronts in Knockturn and headed down a less-trodden alley off the cobbled path. Nestled between slate-roofed buildings, whose overhanging eaves shadowed the comings and goings of those on private, darker business, the narrow corridor led to an obvious dead end.
Tapping his wand across the brick face in the pattern Severus' instructions had indicated, he checked over his shoulder once more to assure he was not followed before descending the six, magically-revealed stairs and opening the wooden door at the bottom.
Closing the portal quickly behind his heels, he spun and took a relieved breath…
…and was instantly assaulted by the overpowering stink of vinegar and the sweat that comes from a protracted illness, of burned potions and spoiled fruit and the resin of pine. The conglomeration of fetid odors made his eyes water and reminded him of that horrid year that Voldemort, his pet python and his rabble of Death Eaters had lived at the Manor. Back then, the stench of reptile spore, freshly-spilled blood, and a slow, lingering rot had overcome even the dozens of evergreen Yule candles his mother had kept burning throughout the Manor in her failed attempt to mask the smell.
This humid cellar, here and now, smelled remarkably like his home had years ago, and he had to wonder just what in the hell the codger he'd come to see today had been doing in this place all these years. What, was the man running some kind of rogue, underground herpetology house and feeding his 'pets' dissected Christmas elves? Salazar knew it sure stunk like it.
But then, the tough, old geezer was known for his association with the darker things of the world, wasn't he? Maybe he'd brought some of them home, to play at making a nice house. If that were so, then Draco knew he was in the right place.
Pulling the sleeve of his black, woolen robe up over his nose, he breathed through his mouth and looked about the dimly-lit room. There were no windows and there wasn't a plank of wood to be found in the subterranean basement, aside from the door behind him and its twin on the opposite end of the room. The rest - walls to ceiling to floor - were all made of some kind of polished granite. Fresh candles had been lit in iron wall sconces at regular intervals about the room to provide a modicum of light. No furniture was arranged for customer comfort, speaking of an intentional lack of hospitality by the owner of the establishment. A dark blue runner from the door to a long, stone counter directly before him kept the floor dry and one's feet firmly planted.
Making his way towards the counter, Draco was surprised to see it, too, was clear of all unnecessary debris – all except a silver attendant bell waiting to be rung to summon assistance. He depressed the metal clanger and its clear, reverberating chime sounded loud in the silence.
The wait was interminable, but he tried not to fidget about and appear nervous. Instead, Draco stood stock-still and began his mental preparations.
He'd been the most gifted Occlumens both Severus Snape and his Aunt Bella had taught, or so they'd told him, and he called upon that ability now to shut down his emotions and to blanket his mind. Sure, he'd taken great pains to successfully concoct a Polyjuice that lasted two hours, and to acquire the correct clothing for this adopted persona, knowing there was no way the man he had come to see today would trust him enough to listen to his tale (much less agree to come back to the Manor with him to help) should he see the face of Lucius Malfoy's son before him. Even with his face and body well-concealed, however, he instinctively knew that his faculties also needed camouflage – especially from the wizard he was meeting, as the man was as paranoid as they came (at least, according to Potter).
The door behind the counter creaked on its hinges as it opened, and in hobbled the familiar form of the only professor to ever truly frighten Draco, a scowl plastered on that scarred, hideous visage.
"What do ye want?" Alastor Moody snarled.
The world thought the disfigured wizard had died a heroic death while trying to help 'The Chosen One' escape from Little Whinging the summer of his seventeenth birthday. That's exactly the story Moody had wanted everyone to continue believing, too, but Draco knew better, thanks to Snape's journal.
The ex-Auror had been hit by Voldemort's Killing Curse right in the face, just as the rumors had stated. As it turned out, though, by some measure of incredible dumb luck, the attack had actually hit his magical glass eye – which spared his life by absorbing the spell. The pressure had knocked Moody unconscious, and he'd tumbled from his broom as if dead. Arrogantly believing he'd vanquished his foe and deciding to recover the body later, the Dark Lord had immediately turned his attention to finding Potter after that. Ironically, Old Mad-Eye's mad eye had saved him from a permanent lights-out.
It couldn't have saved him from the thousand-or-so-foot drop, though.
Again, as if by some weird cosmic fate, however, Moody had tumbled directly over a body of water – the Queen Mary Reservoir, the Muggles called it – and the angle at which he'd struck had been just right, according to Snape's writings, allowing the man to escape death yet again (although nearly every bone in the old man's legs – including his wooden prosthesis - had been broken). Apparently, Alastor Moody was one tough son-of-a-bitch and wasn't one to give up his life without a serious fight, though. He'd regained consciousness on impact and somehow managed to paddle-crawl to shore, where he'd collapsed and slipped into a coma.
After the battle and at the Dark Lord's behest, Severus had led the Carrow twins back over the site to locate Alastor's "corpse," their former Master wanting to assure that Moody was well and truly disposed of. His old Potions instructor had been instrumental in then finding, transfiguring and hiding the grizzled Auror's body under the guise of sticking one to the Order, who would no doubt have tried to recover their comrade for proper burial. Amycus, the sick fuck, had wanted a trophy before leaving, however - the false ocular prosthesis from his enemy's head, which he'd eventually given as a gift to his aunt, Dolores Umbridge, who had once been courted by Moody when they'd been young adults, and summarily dumped flat on her prissy, pink arse. Severus could not have denied the request at the time for fear of giving his true loyalties away, so he'd been the one to remove the eye and give it to Carrow in an effort to throw the other man off the scent.
Later that same night-early the next morning, when he was alone, Snape had gone back to recover Moody's comatose form so as to get him the proper medical attention, however. Not wanting to risk being seen or recognized, he had avoided St. Mungo's and instead had left Mad-Eye's inert body lying across the lawn of a nearby Muggle hospital, in full view of their emergency entrance. At that point, having done all he could to help save the man who was a member of the Order alongside him, Severus had returned to his home, with no one the wiser of his actions.
When Moody had recovered just enough to be safely moved, Draco's former Head of House had later relocated the old, injured wizard into the basement of the abandoned storefront here at Knockturn Alley - a piece of property he'd scrimped up and secured prior to the war, in the hopes of using it for a safe-house or a retirement home, whichever need came first (he'd planned to sell off his hated father's property at Spinner's End to rid himself of that connection once and for all, according to his writings). It was, quite honestly, the safest, most secret place to put the ol' coot, who was still recuperating. Snape had then assigned a Hogwarts house-elf (conscripted to his needs with the threat of being given clothing and dismissed permanently otherwise) to Mad-Eye's bedside, assuring the Auror stayed put until he was one-hundred percent. Severus had predicted the one-eyed, one-legged warlock might be needed in the future, should things turn sour for the Order at some point, so he'd gone as far as he'd been able to assure the man's recovery. Unfortunately, Alastor hadn't regained his full faculties until long after the Final Battle of Hogwarts, and by then, the man who had saved his life was dead.
Moody's ultimate fate may never have been known - as the old man had chosen to remain hidden in the shadows in the light of the new era, content to let the world believe he was dead - had Snape not faithfully recorded this adventures in his secret journal in the hopes of accurately keeping a log of all of his activities for the Dark Lord, so that, "history would correctly remember the evils perpetrated by and in the name of the Mad Wizard, Voldemort."
Really, his former Potions Master had been quite an amazing man, and Draco felt his professor's loss keenly – more so after the man's Last Will and Testament had been read, and he'd specifically left Draco the location of his hidden, most private diary, as well as the keys to his home in Spinner's End and the notation of Moody's existence and last known location. Evidently, Snape had been one of the few who'd believed Draco redeemable, and had been leaving him implied instruction on who to seek out should things turn bad for him or his family.
If only Severus knew that his favored student was contemplating the use of that information expressly for the purpose of obtaining access to dark, secret magic…
Trying not to stare at the patch over Moody's empty eye socket, Draco got right to the point for his visit. "I hear you're one of the best dark curse breakers currently in existence."
Alastor sniffed with disdain. "Really? Who'd you hear such piss from?" His accent was thick and hard to distinguish.
Draco very slowly held up a wand between them. The hematite grip was carved with a series of intricate patterns, and the twelve-inch rod that was inset and sealed into the stone handle was made of Black Limba wood. Anyone who'd ever paid an ounce of attention would know that there was no mistaking to whom this wand had once belonged - and Draco knew from the journal that Moody had once commented on the rod's uniqueness when he'd seen the Order's best-established spy holding it at one of their meetings. Lucky that it, like the rest of Snape's possessions, had all been willed over to him upon the man's death, for now he could use it to open a dialogue… and to get Moody to drop his guard a smidge.
Recognition flared in the wizard's remaining eye, as Mad-Eye's face tightened at the jaw. "Where'd ya get such a thing as that, lad?"
Taking a deep breath, Draco knew he was 'in.' Now all he had to do was convince this wizard of his cause. "Severus was a good friend. He spoke of your impressive skill in his journal, and said that if you survived the war, you were the man to talk to about breaking dark curses, should the call for such a talent ever arise. Well, I certainly have great need of that particular aptitude, and I'm willing to pay handsomely for it."
Moody shifted his wand so that its pointed end touched the tip of Snape's wand. The spell he cast to verify the authenticity of the mystery rod had been silent, but its power tingled up Draco's arm. Satisfied that this was, indeed, Severus' property, the elder man nodded. "Tea?" he gruffly offered.
"With cream and a pinch of Veritaserum?" Draco snarked, his lips twisting up with sardonic amusement. "How about I save us both the time and trouble, and let you see for yourself that I'm speaking the truth?" With that, he disarmed Moody of his wand with one hand, using the man's blind side against him, and grabbed his wrist with the other. "Portus," he cast and activated Snape's wand's hidden ability.
With a fishhook pull and a blurring of the world, he and the former Auror were pulled away from the dingy basement, landing outside the front gate of Malfoy Manor.
After quickly tucking Snape's wand away in a thigh holster, it took Draco Petrifying Moody and dragging him with a Mobilicorpus with his own Hawthorn wand through the warded gates, up the drive and through the front door to explain the situation in full without interruption. By the time they'd hit the drawing room and passed through into the hallway beyond, he felt it safe to cast the Finite Incantatum to free his captive. Mad-Eye was… well, quite mad at the abduction, and proceeded to berate Draco in a roar of vile expletives and threats.
By the time he'd started repeating pejoratives, the Polyjuice Potion was wearing off, and with a strange bubbling, gurgling shift, Draco resumed his true form. One ginger eyebrow – graying out with age – raised as Alastor took him in. "Well, you've certainly grown out of the scrawny ferret ya were."
Draco bit his tongue and did not rise to the bait. He knew now, all these years later, that the man before him had not actually been the one to Transfigure him into that creature but it was the same face and the joke had been on him that day, and that experience was one of Draco's few remaining hot buttons. It was bad enough Weasley continued to hurl the hated reminder of that horrible change at him every time they were forced to interact (and that he'd been dumped into Crabbe's pants at the same time - nasty!), but for anyone else to bring it up – especially the man who he'd believed had once perpetrated the evil against him – riled his temper something fierce.
Before he hexed the former Auror into oblivion, he forced his wand hand to stay at his side and used the other to point to the main stairs that lead up into the private apartments. "If you want your wand returned to you, you'll go to her and see if you can help," he heartlessly negotiated. "Otherwise, I'm sure I could fetch a good price for your wand in Knockturn, and then you'd be 'up shite's creek without a paddle' - I believe the Muggle saying goes. Your choice, old man."
Moody snarled. "Still an arrogant, little prick, though." He pointed a meaty, threatening finger at Draco. "If this is all a ruse, boy, I'll tear ya apart with me bare hands."
Draco marched slightly behind and to the side of the scarred wizard, who was careful to keep him in his peripheral vision on his good side, he noted. There was no discussion between them. At the top of the stairs, he directed them into the west wing of the Manor, and towards his bedroom.
The room had been carefully arranged as Draco's wife preferred, the curtains open to let in the sunlight during the daylight hours. In Wiltshire, there was no fog or gloom that day; it was a bright, warm afternoon, and one of the casements had been opened by their house-elf to let in a refreshing breeze. He'd arranged months ago, right after they'd first gotten married, for fresh flowers to always be displayed here for his witch's pleasure, and their light scent filled the air now, covering up the stench of feces and rot that lay just under the surface.
Moody stopped on a knut in the doorway as he noticed first Harry Potter sitting in a chair at the bedside, and then took in the form of Hermione Granger-Malfoy lying inert in the bed. "Gods above, lad, why didn't you tell me it was her?" The man was angry at the deception, but he moved quickly to the sick woman's side and held his hand out to Draco. "My wand, now."
Keeping his own wand in hand, just in case, he passed the rod of wood over to its owner and made his way around to the empty side of the bed to await the verdict, his heart pounding in his chest. This is probably our last chance. Please let this work.
Mad-Eye cast a series of incantations over the patient that Draco had never even heard of, despite all his research over the last two months. He wondered if any of those were ancient magic spells, and if so, from what civilization, as the words didn't sound like anything he'd ever heard before, either. His wife's form glowed different colors with every casting, but she did not stir. She remained as unconscious as she had been for the last month.
Half an hour or so later, Moody stopped speaking and waving, and his face was set in a grim expression that made Draco's stomach bottom out. "I've seen this once. Pietor Dolohov, Antonin's father, was a darker wizard than his son, if ya can believe it." He ran a shaky hand over his thinning hair.
Antonin Dolohov. Draco had always despised the ruthless son of a bitch. The lanky Russian got off on torturing Muggles; he would maniacally giggle while watching them writhe on the floor under his spells. Apparently, like father, like son in his case. That fucking bastard. What did he do to you, baby? Reaching across to take his wife's dainty hand, Draco sat on the edge of their bed, intently watching her chest rise and fall, willing it to keep doing so.
"Did she ever get hit by a Dolohov spell that ya know of?" Moody inquired.
It was Potter who spoke up. "Never with the father, but there were two times she had a run-in with the son as far as I know: first was when we were in the Department of Mysteries looking for the prophecy globe back in June of 1996." He glanced up, adjusting his glasses on his nose. "You were there. Dolohov hit her with some unknown curse that laid her up for a long while that summer, and she was forced to drink weeks of potions to get back to normal." The-Boy-Who-Conquered raked a frustrated hand through his unruly black hair. "Second was on Tottenham Court Road, at this café – Luchino's, I think it was called - when we made our escape from Bill and Fleur's wedding. Summer of 1997, a year later." He shook his head. "But he didn't touch her with any spells then. He got Ron and me instead – standard defensive stuff." Harry took a deep breath and let it out in a heavy exhale through his nose. "I can't recall any other time he was around her, so it had to have been during our fifth year at the Ministry that he did this."
Moody nodded. "The bastard did me a nasty turn that day, too." He glanced back down at Hermione. "Ten years. Yep, that's about right." He grunted. "Didn't treat it correctly the first time 'round, I suspect."
"What is it, and can you cure her?" Draco asked, his voice as tight as his chest. It seemed they'd gone to the right man after all. Thank the Founders for Snape's journal!
The elder wizard snorted. "'Course I can, but it's not gonna be easy, son. We're gonna need to trap the demon that's grown inside her, and then give her the proper antidote for its poison."
Draco's heart froze. "Demon?"
"A Likho, my boy," the old wizard growled. "A Russian spirit of evil. They grow inside a victim by eating their magical essence first, and when they're past the chrysalis stage, they go for the blood. Nasty critters." He sighed, and it was a bone-weary exhalation of breath. "You should know she'll never be the same - if she lives through the exorcism. It's had time to chomp away at her power and ruin her immunity. She'll be half the witch she was before, maybe less, and probably always sickly."
Gripping her small hand against his chest, Draco stared down at the woman he'd given himself to so many months before and swallowed the lump of emotion in his throat. "Save her, no matter what it takes. Perform any rite you must, no matter the legalities. I'll accept the responsibility." He kissed her cold knuckles and tried to warm them against his skin by pressing them to his cheek and rubbing. "Everything I own is at your disposal. Give her my magic if you need to. Take it all, I don't care. Just… bring her back to me."
Alastor was quiet for several moments, and when Draco looked up, it was to be skewered by the man's single remaining eye. "Never thought I'd see the day," he mumbled, shaking his head with wonderment. "Well, then we'd best get started before the thing hatches and kills her, yeah?"
Putting Hermione's hand gently back at her side, above the covers, Draco pushed himself back to his full height off the bed, his resolved determination to save his wife undaunted. For the first time in two months, he felt hopeful. "What do you need?"
It took eight more days to formulate an appropriate plan, gather everything they needed, set-up the room for the exorcism, and to make the antidote per Moody's instructions. During that time, the old man continued to cast some sort of Petrify spell upon Hermione to keep the thing inside of her from clawing its way through her unnaturally distended abdomen and being birthed. Apparently, Draco had come to Mad-Eye just in the nick of time, as the creature inside of her had reached the end of its gestation period – hence the stench of fetid blood that oozed from Hermione's pores and the brown sludge that dribbled from between her legs on occasion. It was going to be birthed the old fashioned way if he didn't get it out of her pronto.
Tippy, their house-elf, was a blessing during that time, keeping Hermione bathed (sometimes three times a day to keep the sweat and stink off), changing her bed linens and her clothing, airing the room and providing the food for the three men. As for Hermione's nutritional needs, there was nothing they could do for her aside from a few spells that the elf knew for taking care of the sick. It was barely enough to keep her from starving to death.
Every step was, of course, meticulously written down by Draco in the remaining, open pages of Snape's journal, just in case there was ever a need, Founders forbid, to replicate what they were attempting to do, or in case they needed to know what parts were wrong so they could try again by tweaking the conditions of the ritual. Draco wanted to be prepared for any contingency, just as Severus had always been. He'd learned well the lessons of his departed mentor regarding the value of the written word.
As Harry and Draco set up the large mirror at the foot of the bed, per Alastor's instructions (the Mirror of Erised, which he and Potter had borrowed from Hogwarts with permission, once they'd asked Dumbledore's portrait where he'd hidden the bloody thing), they discussed final plans.
"Now, when the beastie uses Miss Granger's eyes-" Moody began, and then cringed as he noticed his mistake. "Sorry, Mrs. Malfoy's eyes to see its greatest desire within the mirror – probably a heap load of fresh blood or something equally as tasty - it will leap out of her to go after it. Demons are notoriously a greedy bunch, and this one won't be able to resist its nature any more than the others of its kind, especially as it's all but used up what your witch has to offer. You two-" he pointed to Draco and Harry with a blunted, scarred finger that terminated at the first knuckle, "will hold the mirror tight to prevent it from falling over. Once the demon's fully out of its host, I'll capture it with the blood sacrifice. That'll take care of the Likho. As for Miss Gran– er, Mrs. Malfoy," he turned his one good eye upon her, "She'll need to be given the antidote immediately after the evil spirit leaves her body by the house-elf, and once an hour every day for the next three days as well. There can be no mistake or slip-ups, understand?" He turned a hard glare on Draco. "One missed dose and she'll die a most painful death, my boy, I promise ya."
Draco was somber in his pledge to take care of the matter. He would go to the ends of the earth for Hermione – had, in fact, while searching for a damned cure to this dark spell. He'd been living on Restoratives, and hadn't slept a wink, literally, in the last two months. He would never let her down, though, no matter the cost. She was his whole world, his second chance, his greatest gift.
"And the blood sacrifice?" Potter asked, piercing, emerald eyes searching his former mentor's face.
Moody put a comforting hand on the young hero's shoulder. "You let me worry 'bout that part, son. Just you focus on your end of things."
A day later, when everything was in order and everyone rested up for the battle to commence, Mad-Eye began the ritual.
The large bed had been moved away from the wall, its canopy and curtaining removed, and the carpet about it torn up to reveal the wooden floor beneath. Two perfectly circular grooves had been carved with a handy spell from Moody all the way around the bed frame. The inner ring had been filled in with silver that Draco and Harry had painstakingly melted from every available silver trinket, decorative urn, utensil and piece of jewelry in the house. The outer ring had been done similarly with gold. The metals had been sanctified with salt before they could solidify, assuring their ability to trap evil within and keep evil out. At the foot of the bed, inside the Greater Magik Circle they'd constructed, the Mirror of Erised stood a silent sentinel within its massive stone frame, Draco and Potter on either side of it, prepared to hold it steady.
Tippy was waiting to the side of the bed also within the circle for Moody's signal to administer the antidote at the correct time. The little house-elf's blue eyes were wide with fear, but he held fast, vial of medicine in hand.
Old Mad-Eye, himself, was sitting behind Hermione, propping her up so that she faced the mirror, silver dagger at his side in preparation for the necessary blood sacrifice, wand in hand. "Ready?" he asked, his rusty voice sharp.
Draco nodded and gripped the edge of the mirror, supporting it from being pushed backwards by wedging his body against the back and his foot against its pedestal. God, if you exist like she insists, he silently prayed to the deity he'd been told his whole life was nothing but Muggle kerfuffle, then please, let this work. I'll give you my soul if you save her.
To his right, he saw Potter brace himself similarly and nod as well. "Ready," his former arch-nemesis-turned-ally confirmed.
Moody took a moment to look at them both, snorted in amazement to see Draco and Harry working together, and grinned. It was a horrid expression on his scarred face. "Good. Very good." His attention returned to the unconscious woman held tight around the middle by one of his burly arms. "On the count of three then, right?"
Swallowing back his thudding heart, Draco tried to focus everything he was on performing his part. The mirror was not to leave the circle, no matter the cost. Otherwise, the Likho would escape into one of them – or even back into Hermione – and this time, there would be no way to exorcise it, for it would have learned the trick and would take precautions against being so trapped again. The Sticking Charm and the chains at the mirror's base might keep it grounded to the floor, Moody had told them, but if the Russian demon was strong enough, it would topple those easily, and then it would be 'game over,' in Potter's words.
He tensed up, shifting his weight, preparing it for the blow to come.
Tippy whimpered, his ear flat back against his skull.
"Three. Finite Incantatum," Moody cast and a white light emitted from the tip of his wand. The Petrify spell dissolved away from around Hermione and she took a deep, gasping breath, her face even paler than she'd been days before, when she'd first gone under the effects of the stasis magic. "Enervate." Her eyes opened and she began shaking and screaming. All the horrors in the world were contained in that terrified release, as if his beautiful wife had known exactly what was inside of her all this time. Perhaps she had. Maybe the demon had been talking to her, even. Who could say?
Draco's heart wrenched to see the agony and fear in her gentle, brown eyes.
"Exorcizo te," Moody growled, his wand pressed to the witch's belly, the end of it glowing gold. "Exorcizo te. Exorcizo te!" Hermione's eyes bled their natural color, the irises blackening instead, the whites disappearing entirely under that creep of shadowy evil. Spidery vessels popped bright blue under every inch of her visible skin, and the pallor of her flesh turned ashen.
A thin trail of light shot out of the end of Moody's wand as he aimed it directly at the mirror, and the demon that had now fully possessed Hermione followed the bright beacon, noticing the reflective surface before it.
The Mirror of Erised – 'Desire' spelled backwards – had been designed by some clever, unknown wizard centuries ago as an experiment in divining the future. It had been an utter failure, capable not of showing a true snippet of prophecy, but instead of reflecting the greatest wishes of the one who gazed upon it. Draco wasn't sure what the demon was seeing right then (probably the buckets of blood Moody had theorized earlier), but whatever it was, the image was clearly, profoundly interesting to it as it wrenched its host's body out of Moody's hold and crawled down the bed to stare into the mirror with a wicked, greedy delight.
It was awful seeing his sweet, loving Hermione with that expression on her face.
The evil spirit inside licked its lips, causing his wife's body to outwardly mimic the action. Her red, swollen tongue peeked out of her mouth and he shuddered to notice that it had split in the middle, forking like a serpent's. An oily, black substance poured from her mouth to dribble down her chin, but she paid it no mind whatsoever, enraptured by whatever she was seeing in the mirror.
"Incarcerous," Moody cast, chaining Demon-Hermione's wrists to the bed frame, allowing her to move no closer to the mirror. This had been all part of the plan to frustrate the demon, and to force it to 'jump ship,' as it were, to get what it wanted: the reflection it believed was its greatest desire come to life.
Demon-Hermione screeched at being made captive, tugging at the unmovable chains with a desperate fury, and spat black, corrupted blood everywhere in her attempts to get at the mirror. She snarled in frustration at her failure. "WANT," she hissed, her voice an unnatural conglomeration of tones, from deep baritone to shrieking soprano and everything in between.
Moody stood up, came around the bed and blocked the reflection of the mirror with his big body. "You want it, you'll have to go through me first," he calmly informed the demon.
Wait, this wasn't part of the plan. What the hell was the old bloke up to? "Moody," Draco growled, unsure what the former Auror was doing, but not liking it one bit. Something was off with the whole set-up… "Step aside."
The demon roared with anger. "WANT!" it screamed, fighting against its magical captivity with fervor, and the odor emanating from her mouth was enough to make a man's bile rise. The entire front of her nightdress was covered now with that inky, dark goop as it poured from her cracked lips.
"Come and get it then," Alastor taunted, cutting his hand with the ritual knife and holding it up to the possessed being before him, just out of reach of its ability to touch or taste. Demon-Hermione went crazed at the sight of the fresh, pure blood, as if it desperately needed to have-at. At that, everything clicked into place in Draco's mind. The real plan – the one Moody had apparently known all along was the only way to save Hermione, but had kept a secret from them – suddenly flashed before his eyes, and by simple deduction, he knewwhat the end result would be.
"There is no way to kill this fucking thing, is there?" Potter shouted, finally figuring it all out, too, and furious at being tricked by his old friend. "You can only move it from body to body, right?"
Draco nodded. "Antonin Dolohov's father passed it to his son, who passed it to Hermione."
Moody smirked, continuing to tease the evil spirit before him by bringing his hand in close, then pulling it away quickly. "I only know one way to get rid of a demon, boys, and that's to convince it to go somewhere else. It's the ultimate game of 'Pop! Goes the Weasel,' yeah?" He shoved his hand at Demon-Hermione and let her lick the bleeding cut. "Come on, then, ya bastard. Plenty more where that came from."
As he began slowly moving his hand away, the demon seemed to flow out of Hermione as easily as a ghost moving through solid matter, its lips glued to Moody's bloody hand. The old man drew the evil out of her, literally, and into himself. The exorcism spell had worked! Spindly, insectoid arms and legs reached out of Hermione's body, and grabbed a hold of Mad-Eye, one burying itself to the wrist in the old man's chest, right above his heart. Moody nearly faltered then, grabbed the bed rail for support, as the demon wrapped a disgustingly segmented body around his torso like a baby clinging to a parent. It was a gross, jaundiced color, with lidless black orbs for eyes and razor sharp teeth in its lipless mouth. Its eight-fingered hands and feet had claws on the end of each triple-jointed digit. It was a nightmare, plain and simple – and it began to crawl its way into Moody.
Draco knew that the memory of this thing would haunt him all the rest of his life, more so than Voldemort using the Killing Curse, or Nagini feasting on fresh corpses, or even Greyback tearing apart victims and devouring their entrails. This was evil incarnate, the very source of all madness. It was like looking into the eyes of the Beast of the Abyss; it forever changed you. He'd never be able to sleep with the lights out again.
And Moody was letting the demon take him, to devour him from the inside out.
That was just… wrong.
But to save Hermione, this was the only way - wasn't it? Or was there something that could be done to stop it and kill the demon once and for all?
"I only know one way to get rid of a demon, boys, and that's to convince it to go somewhere else."
From the corner of his eye, Draco caught movement in the mirror and turned to look… and the answer was presented to him. In that second, the Mirror of Erised granted him his greatest desire: the knowledge of how to stop the demon and save them all.
Grabbing his wand from his back pocket, he brought it forth and cast a shallow Slicing Hex across his own palm. The scent of fresh blood on the air immediately drew the attention of the feasting demon and it turned its head towards Draco. "Want it? Go get it." He rubbed his hand down the center of the mirror and then quickly sealed up his wound, as well as Moody's across the way, with a Healing Charm. "Potter, cut your hand and follow suit."
It took The Boy Who Conquered two seconds to sum up the situation and mimic the act. Once he'd gotten the demon's attention to his own bleeding cut, he rubbed it down the mirror as well. "Check it out! There's more where this came from inside!"
The demon's attention was riveted to the mirror once more. Draco had an idea that it was seeing liters of blood in the mirror, all of it calling to the pit spawn. In a flash, the demon dropped Moody, who fell twitching to the floor, and attached itself to the mirror, trying to get in at the vision it was seeing, to gorge itself on its greatest desire – fresh blood. The thing may have looked relatively small – no larger in size than a ten-year old child – but it had a strange amount of mass about it. The mirror slid backwards, and Draco put all his weight behind it to keep it within the circle. Opposite him, he could see Potter struggling to do the same.
Fuck, it was like holding up that huge oaf, Hagrid!
"Tippy, give Mistress the antidote – quickly!" Draco shouted, seeing his wife slump backwards on the mattress. "Potter, hit it with a Permanent Sticking Charm."
He watched his ally struggle to balance his side of the mirror while raising his wand and incanting appropriately. A blue light hit the demon, who didn't seem in the least bit interested, nor fazed. It was, however, quite stuck to the reflective surface.
Draco thanked Slytherin that he was left-handed, for it allowed him to simply point his wand at the mirror without much effort. "Conversio mirror – Extensi Infinite."
The spell worked just as it did on Hermione's favorite beaded bag, turning the Mirror of Erised's reflective surface into one big Undetectable Extension Charm. The demon, affixed to the glass with the Sticking Charm Potter had cast, was instantly sucked into the two-dimensional hole to nowhere, where the effects of time were permanently nullified. The demon would henceforth exist in a state of suspended animation.
"Protego Horribilis," Draco cast, strengthening the mirror's surface against Dark Magic used to reverse his spells. "Infrangilis."
Using the same charm as on his wife's bag, he then sealed the hole, causing the mirror's surface to return to the state it was in previously, flat and smooth, preventing the possibility of someone reaching in and withdrawing the demon, accidentally or otherwise.
As he and Potter looked into the glass façade now, the demon stared back at them from its side, hatred burning in those intelligent, liquid black compound eyes. It understood it had been good and trapped by wizards in some sort of spell, but in its snarl – which echoed as if it were reflecting off of a tiled bathroom – there was the promise of revenge.
"Imperturbatus," Potter cast the Imperturbable Charm to make the mirror soundproofed. He followed it up with a "Coloro ātra." A black spray emitted from the end of the Gryffindor's wand, painting the entire surface of the mirror, obscuring the reflection behind it completely. For all intents and purposes, no one but those directly involved in the day's events would ever know what lay in wait behind the mirror, as it was effectively silenced and screened.
"Fucking thing's never coming out," Draco snarled, shrinking the Mirror of Erised and its podium so it was easily picked up. He picked it up and gave it to Potter. "Get rid of it. I don't care how."
Harry stared at the hand-sized artifact. "I know an Unspeakable who can make this permanently disappear within the Department of Mysteries."
"Good," Draco stated, his gaze drawn to the bed and his limp wife. Tippy was sitting next to her, empty vial in hand, looking rather despondent. "Check on Moody," he absently bid as he crossed the frame and crawled up the mattress to get to Hermione's side. "'Mione? Love, can you hear me?" He cradled her head in his lap. Her lips had a strange greenish tint to them – probably residual of the potion. "Tippy, prepare the next antidote to be given in exactly an hour from now."
With a 'pop' and a suction of air, Tippy was off to do as commanded.
"Moody's dead – for real this time."
Draco looked over his shoulder as a world-weary Potter stood to his full height with the frailty of an old man, his attention fixated on the former Order member's body lying on the wooden floor at the foot of the bed. "Looks like his heart was punctured by the demon's claws and he bled out. There's no pulse." He shook his head and ran a shaky hand through his thick, messy hair. "Fuck." He sounded angry, cheated.
"We'll bury him with honors," Draco promised. "Here on the property. Next to my family mausoleum, there's a hill with Campion that grows during the spring. Hermione commented on it being a lovely place. We could put him there." He looked into his wife's face, which was slowly reverting to normal coloring. "I owe him that much. Hell, I owe him everything."
Harry came alongside and sat on the edge of the mattress, staring down at his best friend's unconscious form. He reached out and patted her hand, as if to find assurance that everything was going to be all right now that it was finally over. The ordeal of the last two months was done and they had won.
"You know, Moody might not have ever admitted to it," Potter stated, his face appearing ten-years older than it should, "but I think he would have liked flowers over his grave."
And in that simple surrender, the matter was decided.
Now, the two trial-by-fire friends - made so by circumstance and an abiding love for the same woman - looked to getting their Hermione well again.
Epilogue: Ten Years Later…
"Mum, are you ever going to tell me who Alastor Moody was and why I'm named for him?"
Hermione put her arm around her son's shoulders. At eight years old, Scorpius Alastor Malfoy was as sharp as a pin, and as perceptive as the Auror whose name he had been given in tribute. But he was still too young to learn about things like demons and exorcisms, and she was not yet ready to answer his questions about how it felt to be possessed by and excised of one. In a few years, when he was more secure in his magic and had emotionally matured, she would explain.
"When you're older, I'll tell you," she promised him again, kissing the top of his platinum head. It was their annual ritual promise that she'd been giving him since he first noticed the grave marker embedded into the side of the wildflower-strewn hillock at the age of four.
"I'll hold you to that, Mum," her son threatened with a wicked grin that could match his father's best any day of the week. The boy was going to be a heartbreaker and a half when he came into his own, no doubt about it. She'd have to hex the witches from her doorstep.
The thought of how much trouble her son was likely to be in years ahead over-excited her system, and inside her chest cavity, her heart fluttered, skipping a beat. She placed a hand over that region of her chest and took a deep, calming breath, reaching for her inner quiet space to find balance. Random arrhythmia had been only one of the side-effects of the Likho's possession. Aside from a serious dimming of her magical strength, all of her vital organs and her bone marrow had suffered some type of damage, and had been magically repaired at St. Mungo's as soon as she'd been able to be moved to the hospital after the exorcism. She'd spent months there, swallowing foul potions, being prodded, and having every inch of her privacy stripped away as she became a subject of observation and study for the medical textbooks.
The worst blow had been her inability to have any more children after Scorpius. She'd been rendered completely barren by her son's delivery, as it had been extremely rough. The doctors thought it best she not breast feed at all, so she'd missed out on that important bonding with her baby, too. But, for all of that, she recognized that she'd been lucky to have been able to carry him to term at all, as she'd miscarried three times before him. He was her greatest gift…
…made possible only by the greatest sacrifice of an old friend.
Looking over her son's shoulder, she spied her husband approaching. In the sunlight, Draco's hair shone like white-gold. He waved at her, smiling, and she waved back. "Dad's home early, it seems. Shall we go see if we can talk him into taking us out to dinner at the Alley tonight?" She nudged her child's shoulder.
Scorpius' eyes lit up. "Could we stop at the bookstore, too? I want to get a copy of Hogwarts, A History. Rose is already reading it, and I need to catch up."
Hermione laughed. It seemed Ron and Pansy's very precocious daughter was going to be quite the academic rival to her and Draco's son once they went off to school together in a few years. "Absolutely. And maybe, when we're there, we'll see if we can't find something about wizard Moody for you, too." There was a lot about the old wizard who'd given his life for her that she didn't know. Perhaps someone had written about his exploits. If not, perhaps she'd pen a tribute to him herself…
…just as soon as she and Draco finished the one they were currently writing about Severus Snape. They were on their final revisions, having taken years to go pick through the entirety of his life – interviewing old neighbors, surviving classmates and Order members, and a decade plus worth of students, as well as going through his personal effects, including the journal – to assure everyone would get a solid picture of one of the unspoken heroes of the war. They were about a month away from sending the final manuscript off to an editor.
"Excellent!" Scor piped in with a little hop of excitement, then turned and ran off to greet his father.
She watched her husband hug his son and the two started talking animatedly, and thanked God for this blessing. She turned to the flower-strewn gravestone before her and put her hand on it. "Thank you, too, Alastor." After all, the old Auror had made it his life's work when alive to ever sacrifice for the good of the many, and in her opinion - in this post-Voldemort era of peace and blood lineage integration - he'd succeeded grandly.
AUTHOR'S EXTRA NOTES:
Conversio mirror – Spell I invented for this fic (means "convert mirror")
Extensi Infinite – Spell I invented for this fic (means "Extends Infinitely")
The above two spells above used together create an Undetectable Extension Charm for the sake of this fic. I have no idea what the actual spell is to do this, as it is never mentioned in canon.
Imperturbatus – Latin for 'calm/undisturbed.' There is an Imperturbable Charm in canon, but no actual words for when you cast it are stated, so I am using this phrase to call out the spell.
Exorcizo te – Latin for "(I) exorcise/expel thee." Comes from an old Roman exorcism ritual. Not a canon spell, used for the sake of this fic.
Infrangilis – Latin for "unbreakable." There is an Unbreakable Charm in canon, but no actual words for when you cast it are stated, so I am using this phrase to call out the spell.
Coloro ātra – Latin for 'to color black (implied it's an oily color of black)". There is a Coloring Charm in canon, but no actual words for when you cast it are stated, so I am using this phrase to call out the spell.
Portus (spell that activates a portkey), Mobilicorpus (spell for lifting a body into the air and levitating it wherever the caster points his/her wand), Finite Incantatum (spell to cancel other spells), Crucio (spell causing intense neurological pain), Eneverate (spell reviving someone unconscious), Protego Horribilis (spell that provides protection from Dark Magic), Incarcerous (spell that binds something with ropes or chains) are all spells that are official canon spells (books or movies).