A/N: Written for the Final Round of the Malfoy Manor 2012 Fic War for the prompt "Numbers".
If you read the story and enjoy it, please, review.
Disclaimer: The characters and Harry Potter universe in the following story belong to JK Rowling. I am not making any money from the publishing or writing of this story.
Number (some definitions)
2. to be numbered or included
5. one of a series of things distinguished by or marked with numerals.
19. a single part of a book published in a series of parts.
26. to mark with or distinguish by numbers
29. to count over one by one; tell, such as a sequence of events
32. to live or have lived
Abraxas Malfoy was having a terrible day. He'd nearly failed his Transfiguration exam, and he was never going to pass his O.W.L. at this rate, and everyone was laughing at him behind his back – Iris had spread the rumor that they'd broken up because of his lack of sexual prowess, and Abraxas was in a nasty mood after having to defend himself from attacks on his masculinity all day.
Scowling, Abraxas looked out at the lake and hurled a rock at it, watching as it skipped across the surface and sunk out of sight. He and Iris had broken up because she was loose. He hadn't even seriously kissed her, and she was saying that they'd slept together. He wouldn't have been intimate with such an immodest woman. It wasn't becoming.
Sighing, Abraxas skipped another rock across the lake. He wished he had a girlfriend who actually understood him, who wasn't just after him for his name and title. It was a hopeless wish, he knew – courtship and marriage were for uniting families and making alliances, not for companionship and love. But it was nice to daydream, once in a while.
Abraxas looked out over the lake, the water glittering in the sunlight.
Wait, no. The water wasn't glittering.
It was the air.
Abraxas watched in astonishment as the air glittered, flickered, and a young woman not much older than him appeared from midair.
She had long, curly brown hair and brown eyes. She was wearing well-made black robes, and her wand was in her hand.
She raised an eyebrow.
"Lucius?" she asked.
"Ah, no," Abraxas said. "I'm afraid you must have me- you must have me confused with someone else."
"Or some when else," the woman murmured, sitting down in front of him. She looked up at him, offering him a small smile. "If you're not Lucius, then, you must be Abraxas Malfoy, right?"
"Ah- yes, that's right," he said. "I'm sorry… do I know you?"
"Not yet," the woman said, smiling.
"Then- how do you know me?"
"Oh, I met you," she said easily. "You just haven't met me yet. I suppose you meet me now, actually. That would make sense."
She extended her hand toward him.
"Hermione Granger," she offered.
Abraxas took her hand and shook it firmly.
"Abraxas Malfoy. Pleased to meet you."
She smiled at him, and Abraxas felt his heart skip a beat.
"So," Hermione said. "You called for me. What can I help you with?"
"I- I called for you?" he asked.
"Well, you thought of something that expressed desire for me to be here," Hermione said, shrugging. "Maybe not me specifically, but something that I fill the criteria for."
His mind flashed back to his idle wish for someone that understood him.
"Ah…" he trailed off. "Ah, are you good with Transfiguration, by any chance? I've been having some difficulty…"
Hermione's eyes lit up.
"I love Transfiguration," she said, moving over to sit closer to him. She smelled like a morning breeze, and Abraxas felt his breath catch in his throat. "Now, what exactly is troubling you?"
While he showed her the sections in the book he couldn't do, he watched her eyes light up as she recognized the work. When she started explaining to him what he was doing wrong, he could hear the passion in her voice and her love for learning. When she demonstrated, he could see the beauty and grace in her movements as her wand danced through the spell.
By the time she offered him a smile, telling him to try it, Abraxas knew he'd found the companion he'd wanted for so long.
Hermione appeared from nowhere, glittering in the sun by the lake, and Abraxas nearly let out a shout, he was so excited that it had worked again.
"Abraxas," Hermione said, her tone happy.
"Hello again," Abraxas said, flashing her a charming smile. "How are you?"
Hermione shrugged. "I'm okay. Do you need more Charms help?"
Abraxas blinked. "Transfiguration, actually."
"Oh! We're still on Transfiguration?"
She laughed and went to sit next to him.
"Whenever you people summon me, I don't get summoned in the same order," she said ruefully. "I just kind of get grabbed at random, it seems. Last time you called me, you needed help with Molibiarbus."
"…I needed help with moving a tree?" Abraxas said, astonished. "That- that's-"
"An advanced seventh-year spell," Hermione said, nodding. "You were concerned that it'd be on the N.E.W.T."
"I'm still summoning you in two years?"
Hermione smiled, but there wasn't any happiness in it.
"Oh, yes," she said. "You'll still be summoning me for a long, long time."
She appeared, beaming at him, and Abraxas felt his heart skip a beat.
"Abraxas!" she said happily.
Without thinking, he grinned at her.
She sat down next to him beside the lake and gave him a smile.
"What can I help you with today?" she asked.
Abraxas cleared his throat. "Um. I was hoping Arithmancy, actually. Did you happen to take that subject in school?"
She grinned at him.
"I love Arithmancy," she said. She took his book from him and scanned the chapter he was open to. "Multi-variable path-predictions? All right, what are you struggling with?"
He explained, and she explained it to him, and they spent the afternoon discussing the theory and drawing prediction trees by the lake.
A most wonderful way to spend an afternoon, in Abraxas' opinion. He couldn't think of a better way to pass the time.
"Hermione," he greeted her. "How are you?"
"Well enough," she said, glancing around. "You don't have any books with you." She looked him up and down, and Abraxas fought the urge to squirm. "But you still look young enough to still be in school."
"I… I thought we might just go for a walk around the lake," he said finally. "I suppose I unintentionally desired pleasurable companionship, and you appeared."
"Oh!" Hermione looked surprised, then pleased. "Of course I'll walk with you, Abraxas. Do you have a spare cloak?"
He handed her one, and she put it on with a smile.
"After you, then," she said grandly.
Abraxas smirked and led the way.
His words echoed in the empty room, and Abraxas felt a moment of panic. If she didn't appear to him this time, he'd be sorely in trouble.
A moment later, the air split open and glittered, Hermione appearing in front of him. She raised an eyebrow at his attire.
"Going somewhere?" she inquired.
Abraxas glanced down at his expensive formal robes. He looked perfectly acceptable. There was no need for that tone in her voice.
"Hermione," Abraxas began, before hesitating. "Would you… I mean…"
"You're going somewhere fancy, and you need a date," she guessed.
"Well, yes," Abraxas said, faltering. "I mean… if you don't want…"
Hermione looked at him, her gaze piercing, and Abraxas fought the urge to squirm.
"Shouldn't you be asking Aster?" she said finally.
"No Aster yet, then," she said. "Then, this is…what? 5th year end-of-the-year-ball?"
Abraxas nodded wordlessly.
"Then yes, I suppose I'll go." Hermione glanced down at her black robes, before looking up at Abraxas and quirking an eyebrow.
"I hope you thought to get me something to wear," she said, a note of amusement in her voice. "I daresay this won't be appropriate."
Abraxas relaxed, finally hearing the easygoing Hermione he'd grown so accustomed to.
"I did," he said, holding up a rich gown in an emerald green. "I thought the color would bring out your eyes."
Hermione smiled at him and took the gown.
"It's so soft!" she exclaimed, stroking the fabric. "It must have cost a fortune!"
Abraxas locked his eyes with hers, trying to wordlessly send her his meaning.
"Only the best for you, Hermione," he murmured, his gaze holding hers. "Only the best for you."
Hermione smiled at him, but it seemed strained.
"I'll just go put this on, and then I'll be ready in a jiffy," she said, heading towards the bathroom of the Slytherin boy's room. "Hair up or down more to your preference?"
Abraxas was shocked she'd ask.
"Up, of course," he said. "It'd be lewd to appear in formal society with your hair so free."
A soft giggle came from the bathroom.
"You know, you have me wear it down in the future," she said. "You're much looser, then, and much less worried about what society thinks. It's funny, seeing you like this now."
"I have you wear it down in public?" he asked, aghast. "I- that's…" He trailed off, wondering what it'd be like to see her with her hair down, waves of sensuous curls tumbling down her back, and his throat dried.
He cleared his throat, coughing slightly. "Times must have drastically changed by then," he said.
"No," Hermione said, her voice whimsical. "Not really. Just you."
She stepped out from the bathroom, her hair pinned up in an elaborate sleek twist, makeup perfectly applied, and the gown hugging her curves.
"Do I pass inspection?" she asked, doing a twirl.
She was radiant. Abraxas couldn't pull his eyes from her.
"Masterfully," he said, offering her his arm. "Shall we go?"
"If that's what you'd like," she said, smiling and taking his arm. "Shall I just be your majestic mysterious companion tonight, or would you like me to pretend to be someone important?"
"Someone important," he said. "If you can reasonably pull off a Ministry employee, do it."
He didn't explain how badly he wanted to show up Tom and Cygnus with his date, and Hermione didn't ask for an explanation.
"Important Ministry Official it is."
Abraxas had been amazed with how convincing Hermione had been as a Ministry Official Witch, and she'd blown his classmates away.
She'd managed to pull it off by saying she was an Unspeakable, working on highly classified experiments on Time. Tom and Cygnus had doubted her, but she'd stunned Cygnus with her stories about his future descendants, and she'd had a quiet word with Tom on the side. When they'd returned, Abraxas had asked her what that was all about, and Hermione had shrugged, saying she'd merely predicted out the rest of his life. Tom was frowning, though, as if he hadn't liked what he'd heard, but he seemed convinced that she was who she said she was after that.
The ball had gone swimmingly. The food was good, the music was great, and Hermione was an excellent dancer. He'd danced nearly every dance with her, helping her avoid the Transfiguration teacher, Dumbledore, who she didn't want to get too close to, for some reason, and after a wonderful evening of holding her close and watching her every move, he longed for her in an entirely inappropriate way.
After the ball had ended, he'd kissed her hand and bid her goodbye, and she'd waved at him as she dissolved and disappeared in a fog of shimmers. Now, though, as he lay on his bed, staring up at the ceiling, he thought of her and wished she was still with him – wished she was with him in his bed, however inappropriate it was.
Quietly checking to make sure his dorm mates were asleep, Abraxas reached down and cupped himself, biting back a groan as he stroked.
A dancing light caught his eyes, and to his shock and mortification, Hermione appeared from midair.
"H-Hermione!" he exclaimed, yanking his covers over him in a hurry.
"Oh!" Hermione said. "I- I didn't-"
Abraxas was horrified.
"I- I didn't mean to call you," he said, not looking at her. "I- I suppose I was thinking about you still, perhaps, maybe a little bit… you were just so radiant at the ball…"
Her gaze softened.
"It's okay," she said. "I know you didn't mean to."
Her gaze swept over him, pausing on the conspicuous bulge beneath the covers, and Abraxas felt his throat dry.
"I take it from your reaction we haven't done this together yet?" she asked, and Abraxas choked.
"N-no," he said, stuttering. His blood heated at the thought. He would do this with Hermione? Do this, with Hermione? He would touch her, hold her, be with her?
It was almost too much to contemplate.
"Do you want to?" Hermione asked simply.
"I- I couldn't ask you to do that," he said, flushing. "We're- you're unwed, and it would ruin you. I can't ask you to throw away your future like that."
Hermione tossed her head and shrugged.
"We've already done it in the future," she said. "In my time, it's not a big deal if a unwed woman lies with a man. Society progresses greatly in regard to that."
Hermione smiled slightly, indulgingly, and nodded.
"Do you want to?" she repeated. "We don't have to if you don't want to, but…"
She gestured to his hardness.
"…I'll be stuck here until you finish, anyway."
Abraxas felt his face flame.
Hermione was walking towards him, taking her hair down from the braid that usually held it back. Riotous curls spilled over her shoulders, and her eyes were darkened with desire, and Abraxas shuddered at the sensual picture she provided. She cast a silencing charm on his bed curtains, and his eyes widened.
"I- I've never done this before," he admitted. "I- I won't last long. I probably won't be very good."
"Don't worry," Hermione murmured, climbing on top of him. "We'll go slow."
She reached down to touch him, and Abraxas arched his back, white-hot pleasure searing through his mind.
She took her time exploring him, and she kept her word, setting a maddeningly-slow pace, showing him how to touch her, touching him, guiding him until he finally came apart under her, crying out her name.
By the time he'd caught his breath and his heart beat had finally slowed down, she'd disappeared, and Abraxas replayed the memory over and over as he drifted off to sleep.
"Hello," Hermione said, smiling at him. "Charms again today?"
Abraxas stared at her, astonished that nothing had changed between them after their night together, before remembering that she didn't appear from the same point in time. For her, their night together hadn't happened yet.
"Yes, actually," he said finally, holding out his book. "Though, I've not asked you for Charms help before."
"Well, now you know you will in the future," she said, smiling.
"I suppose so," Abraxas said.
He couldn't keep his eyes off her as she taught him, flickers of their night together interrupting his train of thought. An image of him kissing her neck, of the swell of her breast, of her coming apart around him…
Hermione was looking at him with concern, her eyes large with worry, and Abraxas felt his throat close.
Unable to help himself, he leaned over and captured her lips in a deep kiss.
"What is it today, Abraxas?"
She was smiling at him like usual, but she looked slightly nervous. Abraxas wondered when she had come from now.
"Charms," he said, and she sat down next to him.
She taught him Charms for about an hour, until Abraxas couldn't help himself and kissed her again. She sighed against him and kissed him back, and when she pulled back, she was smiling nervously, her face prettily flushed.
"Oh," she said. "I wasn't sure if we were still doing actual charms lessons, or if we'd moved on to kissing yet."
Abraxas laughed and kissed her again, losing himself in her for hours down by the lake.
Hermione moaned against him, writhing against his leg slightly.
"G-God, Abraxas," she breathed. "I- you make me so crazy, I-"
"Do you…" Abraxas felt his throat dry at the thought of doing it again with her. "Do you want to do…it?"
He felt like a child, phrasing it that way, but the way hungry Hermione looked at him immediately after his offer made him feel like the most masculine of men.
"I- I haven't done this with you," she said finally. "You'll have to guide me, okay?"
"Don't worry," Abraxas said, kissing her as he helped her recline on the moss next to the lake. He cast an invisibility spell and kissed his way down her throat. "I'll guide the way."
"Come with me to the Ball?"
Hermione beamed at him. "Of course!"
She hadn't slept with him yet, Abraxas realized with dismay. She was too happy and bubbly around him. She was still happy with him, of course, but it had been reduced to a low purr of contentment punctuated with sensual looks and smoldering. This Hermione was still innocent and happy in their friendship.
He had a wonderful time at the Ball nonetheless, though it was awful keeping himself from kissing her. Tom and Cygnus recognized her, but when she didn't recognize them in turn, Abraxas could see their esteem for her rise in their eyes.
"Mmm?" she murmured, tracing lazy circles on his sweaty chest.
"I love you."
Hermione's finger stopped.
"I mean it," Abraxas said firmly. "I love you, Hermione. I want to marry you. I want you to be my bonded, my wife."
She sighed and sat up, and Abraxas felt fear spike through his stomach.
"What?" he asked, sitting up next to her, anxious. "Don't you love me back, Hermione?"
Hermione looked at him, and her soft smile was sad.
"Oh, I do, Abraxas," she said quietly. "I do. But I can never be with you in a way like that."
"Why not?" Abraxas demanded. "Surely if we wed, I'll need you all the time, so you'll just stay here and not disappear."
Her eyes glittered with regretful tears.
"It doesn't work quite like that," she said. "You're- you're not the only one who calls me away, Abraxas. The others who call for me won't abide me staying in only one time."
"Others?" There are others? Who else calls you, Hermione?" he demanded, a jealous rage streaking through him. "Who else calls for you?"
Hermione looked at him slowly.
"Your son," she said finally. "Your grandson. Someday soon, your great-grandson, too."
Comprehension slowly dawned in his eyes.
"You're not just bound to me," he said, understanding. "You- you're bound to the entire Malfoy family, aren't you? You're bound to help my bloodline whenever one of us calls for you."
"But… I have a son?"
Hermione nodded. "Lucius. You marry and have him with Aster."
"I don't even know an Aster," Abraxas objected. "How could I possibly marry her when I'm in love with you?"
Hermione smiled sadly.
"What day is today?"
Abraxas blinked at the apparent non sequitur.
"Then you'll meet her in a little over a week or two," Hermione said, gathering her clothes back to her and slipping them on. "Be nice to her – she's going to end up bearing your son."
Aster was beautiful, charming, and lovely. She was smart enough, for a Pureblood society girl, and her manners and breeding were impeccable.
Her straight, shining black hair was nothing like Hermione's, and her lovely green eyes made Abraxas want to throw up.
Immediately after his mother's Christmas party had ended, he summoned Hermione.
"I've met Aster," he told her. "I don't care what you say – I won't marry her. I won't. I love you."
Hermione blinked at him.
"I'm engaged," Abraxas admitted afterward the next time he saw Hermione. "My parents have arranged it all. I'm to marry Aster Nott. There's nothing I can do about it."
Hermione slowly looked up at him.
"If you're engaged," she said, "then why did you just sleep with me?"
"I can't not sleep with you," Abraxas told her, gathering her close. "I love you, Hermione. You'll always be mine, wife or not. Aster will learn to cope – she's been raised in the Pureblood ways. She will expect me to have a Mistress, and I will give you the world."
Hermione's eyes were pained.
"I suppose so."
"Come with me to the Ball."
Hermione looked him slowly up and down.
"I've made this mistake once, already," she said. "But… shouldn't you really be going with Aster?"
"I don't care," Abraxas said. "I love you. Aster won't be there – she goes to Beauxbatons. No one could reasonably expect me to have her as my companion when she's off in France."
Hermione's gaze was searching, and Abraxas felt his confidence falter.
"Please," he said quietly. "Please, Hermione. This will be the last time I can be with you so openly in public. Please."
Hermione looked at him for a long moment, before slowly nodding.
A wave of relief washed over him.
"Here," he said, holding out a hanger. "I've kept your gown."
"I won't be but a moment," she told him, going to the bathroom to change. "Hair up or down?"
"Majestic mysterious companion or someone important?"
"Neither," he said. "I just want Hermione."
Hermione came out, resplendent in her dress, and gave him a kiss.
"That was sweet," she told him. "But I'm already both, you know."
"I know," Abraxas said, kissing her forehead. "But tonight, you can just be yourself."
"You want me to go to your wedding?"
"Yes," Abraxas insisted. "If I can't marry you, I at least want you there to help me through this. I want to see you in the crowd and know that you love me, even if we can't legally be bound."
"I can't believe you're asking me this!" Hermione raged, storming around the groom's tent. "Just yesterday, we made love for the first time, and now I have to watch you get married?" She whirled around, glaring at him. "Who is she? What's her name."
"Aster," he told her. "Aster Nott."
"Who the hell is Aster?"
She stormed around, stomping, before finally stopping in front of him and glaring up at him.
"This is a wretched thing to ask me, for more reasons that you can ever know," she said. "But I will do it."
"Thank you," Abraxas said, kissing her. "Thank you, Hermione. I love you."
"I know, I know," Hermione said, pulling away and giving him a dark look. "Some days I wonder why I love you too."
After the wedding, after his wedding night with his bride, after he'd risen from bed to stand on the balcony, looking out at the starry sky, Hermione reappeared next to him, though Abraxas didn't know why.
"It was a lovely ceremony," she said quietly. "Everything went perfectly."
Abraxas turned to look at her.
"How'd you know it's the day of my wedding?"
"Your binding runes haven't settled in yet," Hermione said, gesturing. "And I remember you telling me about the night I came to you on the balcony after you'd just taken your wife."
Abraxas heard the pain in her voice and looked at her, but Hermione wouldn't meet his eyes.
"Your binding runes look lovely," she said, looking at his wrist. She glanced up at him, her eyes wet with unshed tears, but Abraxas didn't feel as if they were for him. "Make sure you teach your descendants how to properly do that spell, you hear me?"
She dissolved and disappeared before he could reply, and Abraxas wondered why she'd been called to him at all.
He called her again a month later.
"I want you to meet my wife," he told her. "She's been good to me, and I want to pay her that courtesy, of not going about this behind her back."
"You know, you could just be faithful to her," Hermione told him.
"No, I can't," he said, enfolding Hermione in his arms. "Not when there's you."
He introduced Hermione to Aster, and Aster was every bit as gracious as he expected.
"To be honest, I'm quite glad my husband will have you," Aster admitted. "I'm not one much for bed sport, and if you're around to meet those needs of his, I'll be able to better focus on running the house."
Hermione raised an eyebrow at Abraxas before turning back to Aster and chatting with her amicably about how she was liking Malfoy Manor and the trends of the coming season before she and Abraxas retired to their room.
"At least she seems happy," Hermione sighed as Abraxas closed and warded the door. "I feel less bad about this now that I know she's relatively okay with it."
"You shouldn't feel bad at all," Abraxas murmured, undressing her, dipping down to kiss her neck. "You're with me. You should feel happy."
"I wonder if I'll ever truly feel that way again," she murmured, and then she gasped, and Abraxas took his time with her, relearning her body, doing his best to imprint himself in her mind.
"No!" Hermione cowered from him, and Abraxas started. "No, please! Not again!"
"…Hermione?" Abraxas said, approaching her slowly. "Hermione? It's me."
Hermione was covered in bruises, her hair was dirty and tangled, and she looked painfully unhealthily thin.
"I can't," Hermione sobbed, crouching in the corner. "Please… don't make me…"
"Hermione…?" Abraxas said gently. "It's me, Abraxas. I promise I won't hurt you."
Hermione looked up at him, her lower lip wobbling, before launching herself into his arms.
"Oh, I was so scared it was him again!" she wept, clinging to his rapidly-dampening chest. "Oh, I hate him so much! Please, please don't ever make me go back there again! Please, Abraxas!"
He picked her up and carried her to his bed, cradling her tenderly.
"Who did this to you, Hermione?" he asked quietly. "Who has done this thing to you?"
Hermione cried into him, his robes muffling her sobs.
"Your son," she said finally, sniffling. "Your son, Lucius Malfoy, has done this."
Abraxas silently vowed never to love his son.
Aster was just as horrified as he to see her in such a condition.
"What's happened?" she demanded, helping Hermione to the fainting couch. "Who hurt her? Mipsy! Fetch the Murtlap Essence!"
A House-Elf appeared shortly, carrying the needed bowl, and Aster tended to Hermione as Abraxas explained what he'd been told.
"Our son did this?" she echoed, looking worried. "How could we have raised a child who would be so cruel?"
"We're never having children," Abraxas vowed, his tone dark. "Not if they will grow up to be monsters. We can't."
Aster gave him a sideways look, her face uncertain, and Abraxas nearly growled.
"Since when?" he demanded.
"Since two months ago," she admitted. "I think from our wedding night. I didn't want to say anything until three months had passed, so I'd be sure it would stick."
"Lucius Malfoy," Hermione said suddenly, her voice weak, "was born in January of 1954."
Abraxas did the math and swore. Aster gave her husband a pitying look.
"We'll raise a child that will never do such a terrible thing," she assured him. "We can change the future, Abraxas – we can make sure it never happens."
"We can't! Can't you see?" Abraxas demanded, gesturing at Hermione's bruised condition. "It already has!"
Hermione moaned from the couch, and Abraxas felt his heart go out to her.
"Hermione," he said quietly. "I will do my best to protect you from my son. I will always offer you a safe place here, should you ever need to escape from my son."
"That's very kind of you," Hermione coughed. "But I can't summon myself places. I have to be called, remember?"
"Then I shall call for you frequently as necessary," Abraxas vowed. "I will do anything to help you escape from the clutches of my son."
The Hermione that appeared before him was radiant, her face glowing, a soft smile on her face, and Abraxas felt relief flood him that his not-yet-born son hadn't abused her yet.
"Abraxas," she murmured, and he felt his desire flame. "How may I help you?"
"Aster is heavily pregnant and is not fit to go in public," he told her. "I wondered if you might accompany me to a Societal Ball."
A smile curved up her lips. "If you'd like me to."
Wordlessly, he handed her a dress he'd had especially made for her – a rich gown of scarlet and silk. She went into the bathroom to put it on, and when she emerged, he gasped.
The gown was seductive in ways he'd never imagined a woman's clothing would be. The décolletage was cut daringly low, and the back bared Hermione's creamy shoulders to the world. Her waist was waspish in the fitted A-line silhouette, and the gentle fall of fabric around her hips nearly made mad.
"Should I wear my hair up or down?" Hermione wondered, casting a few spells on herself before the bedroom mirror. "Up or down?"
Abraxas was about to tell her that women could not possibly go in public with their hair unbound when she cast a spell that let her hair hang loose, and his words flew from his mind.
Her hair let loose was cascading currents of curls down her back, highlighting the graceful arch of her neck, the fullness of her lips, and the sensual smile she wore. He'd never before seen a woman wear her hair down in public before, but he'd be damned if she wasn't going to be the first.
"Down," he said hoarsely. "Leave it down."
Hermione turned to him, and he was on her in an instant, kissing her painfully hard.
"Wow," Hermione gasped, her face flushed when they pulled apart. "I'd love to know what evoked that."
"You are the majestic mysterious stranger tonight," Abraxas told her. "You will charm everyone with your wit and your mind, but you will laugh and dance away when they ask who they are, and return to be by my side.
"The Majestic Mysterious Stranger, mm?" Hermione said, teasing. "Who am I usually, then, Abraxas?"
"Usually, you are someone important," he said, and Hermione laughed.
"I used to be someone important," she told him, taking his arm as he escorted her to apparition point. "Maybe someday I will be again."
"You are important," Abraxas told her, kissing her on the nose. "You are what is most important to me."
Aster gave birth to a boy, named Lucius Abraxas Malfoy, who weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces, and Abraxas' parents couldn't be more proud. Hermione was present for the birth, an often-seen but unexplained presence at momentous family events, and she watched the baby with wariness, an unexplained fear in her eye.
Abraxas saw the fear towards and infant and held her close while the child was passed about. When it was his turn to hold his son, he declined, instead cradling Hermione to his side and quietly reassuring her.
Afterward, Abraxas did his best to appear excited about the birth, but inside, he could not. His son would eventually hurt Hermione, his treasure, and he could never love him as a father should love a son.
Abraxas called for her frequently. Sometimes she appeared to him happy, sometimes depressed, and sometimes in abused tatters, sobbing on the floor.
Today, she had appeared to him in mild contentment, and she was still smiling slightly, even after Abraxas had explained what he had summoned her for.
"So it's a birthday party," she said, shrugging. "How hard can it be?"
"You've never formally met my son, Lucius," he told her. "I… I fear it may be bad."
Hermione shrugged airily.
"You'll have to take me to Diagon Alley," she told him. "I need to get him a present, after all."
After the trip, Lucius was wary when the strange woman handed him a gift.
"It's a book," she told him. "I hope you like it."
Lucius tore off the wrapping paper, before looking at her suspiciously.
"Who are you?" he demanded. "I see you with my father all the time."
"I'm Hermione," she said, dipping a curtsy. "Pleased to meet you."
Lucius scrunched up his nose but remained silent.
After the party, Abraxas drew his son aside for a rare father-to-son heart-to-heart.
"Hermione is bound to our family," he told him. "She is a precious person, and you must always be kind and treat her well."
Lucius scowled. "What about mother?"
"Your mother is special to me in a different way," Abraxas told him. "Hermione will be a special person to you, too. Be kind to her. Promise me you will never harm her, Lucius."
"How's she appear to you out of nowhere all the time?" Lucius demanded, petulant. "She doesn't even make the Apparition pop!"
"She comes when I call for her," Abraxas said. "Promise me, Lucius, that you will never harm her."
"Yeah, whatever," Lucius said sulkily.
"Promise me," Abraxas said warningly. "Promise me this one thing, Lucius, and I will let you go."
"I promise, I promise," Lucius said, scowling, and Abraxas let him go.
Abraxas called for her over the years, even as he aged and became old.
They talked about the latest developments in magical theory, they endlessly discussed the Dark Lord and his dangerous ideals. They kissed and went for walks and made love under the stars, and Abraxas loved her more and more and more.
But Hermione was still young. In all the times that he'd seen her, she'd never exceeded thirty years of age, and he was fast approaching 82. She'd explained it to him once, referencing Muggle science that he didn't quite comprehend as she explained about relativity and Einstein and the speed of light. Whatever the reason, she quite clearly aging at a greatly reduced rate, if at all, and he was quickly getting very, very old.
Ashamed of his declining appearance and wearying mind, Abraxas called for her less and less, and each time Hermione came, she was more and more withdrawn. Words came slower to him now, old memories started slipping his grasp, and physical love was difficult and draining exertion that made him feel half-dead.
The second to last time he called her, she had kissed him goodbye before she'd vanished and whispered "I love you."
Abraxas held onto her words and hoped he'd never forget.
She appeared in his bedroom late at night, the candles illuminating an old, sickly man on the bed.
"Oh! I'm sorry!" she said hurriedly. "I- I don't know what happened- I didn't mean-"
His heart sank.
"Hermione," Abraxas rasped. He sat up slowly, straining, his face pitted and scarred. "I knew you'd come."
"I- I'm sorry," she said. "I- I'm afraid I don't recall meeting you."
He snorted, and then coughed harshly.
"Of course not," he said hoarsely. "You're in your Binding gown – you must not have met me yet. Or rather, you're meeting me now, I suppose. I'll meet you later. Or is it before?"
He chuckled weakly, and Hermione looked confused.
"I- I still don't know who you are," she said. "I don't know how you know who I am, either."
He smiled slightly, a tiny wisp of a smile twisting up his thin lips.
"You're so beautiful, Hermione, especially in your Binding gown," he said quietly. "I used to be beautiful too, remember?"
Hermione looked at him, her expression vacant.
"No," he said, sighing. "I suppose you don't."
He shifted again, lowering himself back into the bed.
"I'm dying, Hermione," he said. He interrupted himself with another coughing fit before being able to continue. "I wanted- I wanted you to be the last thing I saw."
Hermione bit her lip, approaching the sick man carefully.
"I know some healing charms," she offered, hesitant. "If you want, I could try…"
Abraxas laughed, each chuckle coming with a wheeze and a gasp.
"It's too late for that, love," he said, chuckling. "Dragon Pox at my age isn't exactly curable. But I- I wanted to see you one last time."
He looked at her, an expression of love and adoration on his face, and Hermione took an involuntary step back, and Abraxas' face fell.
"Please," he whispered. "Please, come here."
Visibly torn by repulsion for the sick man on the bed and her desire to comfort him as he died, Hermione finally stepped forward, sitting down gingerly on the edge of the bed. Abraxas reached up and stroked the side of her cheek, a lone tear escaping his eye.
"You're so beautiful," he murmured. "I know you don't remember me, but I remember you, and it brings me great happiness to have you here with me as I leave this world for the next great journey."
He pulled her head close to him, and panic flickered across Hermione's face, but he only kissed her cheek before releasing her and sighing.
"Thank you, Hermione," he said, closing his eyes, a small smile on his lips. "I can die in peace, now."
"Wait! I- I still don't know-"
The man's breathing slowed and stopped, and Hermione stared at him, astonished, before starting to cry.
She was still crying when she flickered and vanished from the room, leaving an indentation on the bed next to him the man's family wouldn't be able to explain.
The air glittered and stretched open, and Hermione fell through the hole, wearing a dressing gown and slippers. Lucius looked up at her smugly as she looked around, clearly confused. She looked down at him and gave him a questioning look.
"It worked," Lucius said, satisfied. "Look. I made you come."
Hermione looked puzzled.
"I'm sorry," she said. "Do I- do I know you?"
"In a way," Lucius said, tilting his head. "You know my father. You were here for my fifth birthday."
"And when was that?"
"Earlier today," Lucius admitted. "But you were there for my father, then. I wanted you here tonight for me."
Hermione crouched down, reaching eye level with him, and Lucius smiled at her.
"And who's your father?" she asked.
"Abraxas Malfoy," Lucius said, shrugging. "Who else?"
A look of comprehension slowly dawned on her face.
"You're Lucius," she said.
"You do remember!"
"Or I will later, I suppose."
Not understanding, Lucius ignored her.
"Since I made you come, you have to make me happy this time," he told her. "That's how it works, right?"
Hermione shrugged. "You tell me."
"I want you to read me a good-night story," he said, scrambling back up into his bed. "You gave me this one earlier at my party. I want you to read it to me now."
He held out the book, and Hermione took it from him, turning it over in her hands.
"'Tom's Midnight Garden'?" she asked.
"My dad said it was too advanced for me, but you told him that you first read it when you were five, too," he told her. "I want you to read it to me until I fall asleep, okay?"
Hermione looked at him for a long moment, before pulling over a chair with a sigh.
"Okay," she said, opening the book. She looked over at him. "Ready?"
"Ready," Lucius confirmed, snuggling down in the covers.
"'Chapter one – Exile'," Hermione read.
"'If, standing alone on the back doorstep, Tom allowed himself to weep tears, they were tears of anger. He looked his good-bye at the garden, and raged that he had to leave it – leave it and Peter. They had planned to spend their time here so joyously these holidays.'"
As she read to him, Lucius felt himself growing drowsier and drowsier before he finally nodded off.
His eyes slipped shut, catching the last glitter of magic dust as Hermione flickered and vanished away.
"Ha! It worked!"
"Lucius." Hermione frowned. "You've got to stop doing this. Can't your mother read you a bedtime story?"
"No," Lucius insisted. "It has to be you. My mother doesn't do all the funny voices like you do, and she's too busy to read to me at night."
"But I'm busy too, Lucius," Hermione said. "Every time you call for me, I disappear from whatever I'm doing. I was enjoying my evening with my husband before you called for me, and now he'll be upset that I'm gone."
"I don't care," Lucius said stubbornly. "Even if you're his, you're mine too."
"Please stop calling me?" she asked. "Please?"
"No," he said petulantly. "I don't want to. Now read to me."
With an ever-suffering air, Hermione went over and picked up the book.
His father didn't like him, Lucius knew. He didn't know why, or what he'd done to earn his scorn, but his father, though polite, never treated Lucius with the love with which a father should treat his son.
Lucius called for Hermione frequently as a child, hoping she would become a mother figure for him. Sometimes when she came, she was tired and confused, pleading with him to let her go back to her own bed. Sometimes when she came, she was angry and raging, demanding he let her go free. Sometimes when she came, she was quiet and withdrawn, reading to him quietly without a spare word said.
And sometimes when she came, she looked at him with terror, abject fear stark in her eyes.
When he was 8, Lucius learned the truth from his mother, and he summoned Hermione in a rage.
"You're my father's Mistress!" he accused, livid. "You- all this time, you've been his Mistress, but you've also been in here talking and reading stories to me?"
Hermione looked appalled.
"Your father's what?" she demanded. "Lucius, I don't know who told you what, but I've never-"
"You have!" Lucius insisted, glaring at her. "I've seen you!"
Hermione looked torn.
"Lucius, if- if I have, I haven't done it yet," she explained. "You can't be mad at me for something I haven't done-"
Lucius glared at her, and she began to fade.
"Lucius?" Hermione looked confused. "Lucius, what exactly is going on?"
"I need you to get us both out of here, quick!" Lucius hissed at her, watching as the other third years came running, screaming for him as they searched Hogsmede. "Apparate us somewhere else, now! Go!"
He felt the familiar clenching and twisting in his gut as the world dissolved around him, and when he looked up at Hermione, she was looking down at him with disgust.
"What did you do?" she asked.
"I poisoned their butterbeer," he informed her. "They made me angry, and I'm better than them."
"Lucius, you are not better than them," Hermione said, her tone sharp.
"I am," Lucius said, glaring at her. "And I'm not a child. I'm 13."
"Only a child would need a magical escape fairy to make a dashing getaway," Hermione said nastily. "An adult would face the consequences of his actions like a man."
Lucius' lip curled.
"You've gotten me out of here, now," he informed her. "I don't need you anymore. Go."
Hermione remained stubbornly in place on the road. Lucius scowled.
"Go! I told you to go!"
"I can't control it, Lucius," she chided him. "Clearly, you must need something else from me."
He glared at her, and she shrugged, ambivalent.
"…maybe a way to get back to school?" she guessed. "If you were at Hogsmede with your classmates…"
"Fine," Lucius snapped. "Give me a way to get back to school without getting caught by them."
"If you insist."
The world around him dissolved once more, and Lucius looked around at the inside of a wrecked, ratty room.
"This is the Shrieking Shack," Hermione told him. "Go through the secret passage there…" she pointed "…and push the knot on the Whomping Willow when you come out, and then run."
Lucius raised an eyebrow at her and scowled.
"Is this some sort of trick?" he demanded, but Hermione was vanishing already, his apparent need for her complete.
"You don't have to summon me, you know," she said idly one day, kicking her leg as the potion brewed.
Lucius scowled. "Yes, I do. You told me yourself, you're bound to the Malfoy family. I summon you whenever I'm in need."
"Yes, but you don't have to," she told him. "You could always solve your problems yourself."
Lucius gave her a dark look, and Hermione shrugged.
"I'm just saying," she said. "I'll finish your potion now."
"You're a Mudblood!" Lucius accused, throwing down the paper in which he'd seen her birth announcement. "Not two days ago, you were born, and you were a child of Muggles!"
Hermione's gaze was steady. "So?"
"You've been sleeping with my father for all these years, and you're not even of noble birth?" Lucius demanded. "Does he even know?"
Hermione shrugged, defiant. "Ask him."
"I don't speak to my father anymore," Lucius said coldly. "I'm just waiting for him to die."
"What an awful thing to say."
Lucius sniffed, indifferent. "It's true."
Hermione looked uneasy, before she rebounded, fixing him with a nasty look.
"And so what if I'm Muggle-born?" she said. "I'm better at magic than you'll ever be."
"At least I'm not scum of the earth."
Hermione glared at him.
"You'll see how far your values get you," she said darkly. "We'll wait until the end, and then we'll see who ends up on top."
"You say that like you know something," Lucius accused.
Hermione's lips pulled up in an icy smile, and Lucius felt his blood run cold.
"Just remember, wherever I go, you'll have to follow," he told her, and Hermione's eyes grew wide. "If I end up dying in the mud, you'll have to come and save me. If I'm passed out and under deadly spell fire, you'll have to sprint with my body until I'm somewhere safe. And if I end up in Azkaban, you'll be there with me, letting the Dementors feast on you as well as me for as long as my sentence is being served."
Her terror and fear were palpable, and Lucius smiled coldly.
"I don't need you anymore, now," he informed her. "You can go away."
Hermione started to shimmer and disappear, and Lucius turned his back on her as she vanished away.
Lucius summoned Hermione periodically over the years to yell at her for fucking his father and to help him get out of trouble.
Over time, Hermione acted colder and colder to him, while having an unexpected warmth in her eyes whenever his father came up in conversation.
Lucius was not pleased.
Though he was loath to do so, Lucius summoned Hermione one night to introduce her to his wife.
"Narcissa," he said. "This is Hermione. She's a filthy Mudblood bound to my family to serve us in our times of need."
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "That's not entirely accurate, Lucius."
"Shut your whore mouth," Lucius snapped.
Narcissa regarded Hermione with undisguised disdain, her pregnant belly stretching out her elegantly tailored robes.
"I'd rather have a House-Elf," she sniffed. "Lucius, do you have to have her serve you?"
"I'd break the bond if I could," Lucius snapped. "As it is, I rarely call for her. We can pretend she doesn't exist, and we can make sure our son never finds out about her."
Hermione raised an eyebrow but remained quiet. Lucius glared at her for a long moment, feeling uneasy for some reason, before turning back to his wife.
"I just thought you should know," Lucius told Narcissa. "If there's an emergency with your pregnancy and I can't get to you in time, I might send Hermione. I just wanted you to be able to recognize her, should that time ever come."
He turned back to Hermione.
"You can go now."
Hermione dissolved in a shower of glimmering air, and Narcissa turned to Lucius, sniffing.
"I suppose Mudblood slaves must have been the fashion whenever she was bound to your family," she remarked. "How droll. Now, of course, it's the fashion to never associate with them ever."
"You-!" Lucius hissed.
Hermione blinked. "I take it you met me in my own time?" she inquired.
"You're that Mudblood brat that is ruining Draco's chances for Head Boy!" he accused.
Hermione looked surprised. "Ruining-? He can't be more than a first year at this point, right? How am I-"
"You have the top marks in his year," Lucius hissed, eyes alight with venom. "At this rate, you'll become Head Girl, and Draco will never be Head Boy alongside a Mudblood. He'd be forced to work with you – to associate with you. I can't allow that."
Hermione shrugged, but a mischievous smile curled up her lips.
"I'd do something about it, but I can't change the past," she said, smirking. "Or, in this case, the future."
"If you ruin Draco, I'll make you suffer, girl," Lucius warned. "You stay away from him."
She dissolved before he was done speaking to her, and Lucius smashed a snow globe from his desk in a rage.
"How dare you-!"
Before she could react, Lucius struck her sharply, slapping her hard across the face with his hand. Hermione fell to the ground, stunned, and Lucius advanced menacingly.
"He fancies you," Lucius sneered. "He doesn't know it, of course, but I can see through all Draco's rants and ravings about you. He likes you. He likes you! A Mudblood! How dare you!"
He struck her again, and Hermione gasped, before rolling over and crouching defensively in the corner with her wand.
"Don't hit me again," she said warningly, her voice wavering. "I won't have it."
"I called for you because I needed an outlet for my anger," he told her. "You won't be able to vanish until I feel better, now."
She gasped, before her eyes narrowed, calculating.
"Fortunately, there are ways around that."
The pink burst of light hit him before he could react, and suddenly, he was giggling, his sour mood rapidly evaporating, leaving only a wonderful sensation of bliss and happiness.
"Standard cheering charm," Hermione said as she dissolved. "You'd have recognized it, if you hadn't made me do your charms homework in your third year."
Lucius would have sworn, but all he could do was chuckle amicably and wave as she went away.
"The Dark Lord is back," Lucius told Hermione, his voice tired but triumphant. "He will eradicate you and your kind, and you'll soon be dead."
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "Is that so?" she mused.
Lucius' eyes narrowed.
"You are already a prime target," he told her. "You're a Mudblood, you're too swotty for your own good, and you're Potter's best friend. You're already marked for elimination."
"Then isn't it funny that I'm still here?" Hermione said, twirling a lock of her hair. "After all, right now, I'm nearly twenty-seven, and in your timeline, I'm only fifteen." She paused, giving him a smirk. "Or do you think it's part of your Dark Lord's plan to forget to kill me for over ten years?"
Lucius swore and cursed her, but Hermione shielded, giving him an icy smile.
"Try as you might, Lucius, he'll never get me," she jeered, disappearing into nothingness. "But he just might get you."
Lucius summoned Hermione at the edge of the forest while wearing his Death Eater Mask and robes. She appeared, her wand at the ready, and waited for him to announce what he needed her for.
"I'm going to turn you over to the Dark Lord," Lucius told her smugly. "Even if you're not dead in this timeline, you can be dead in yours."
He waited for her horror, but her smirk only widened.
"What?" he demanded, and she smirked again.
"You can't kill me," she said. "Then I won't be able to save your life in the future."
Lucius glared at her. "What?"
"I've already saved your life once, and with the state you're in, you're going to need me to save it again over the next few months," she said conversationally. "If you kill me now, I won't be able to save you the next time you need me to."
"You're lying," Lucius hissed.
"Am I? Legilimens!"
Suddenly she was in his mind, but instead of rooting through his memories, Lucius found that he was viewing hers.
He was in Azkaban, feeding a sickly man gruel and treating his bed sores, but the man was him, and the other him was coughing, dangerously thin and frail. The prisoner him looked deathly ill, practically on Death's door, and as he treated himself, the other him had gratitude in his fevered eyes.
Abruptly, he was thrown from the memory, Hermione smirked widely at him.
"You see?" she said casually. "If you have me killed now, you'll die the next time you're too weak to feed yourself."
Lucius swore and threw a bottle at her, but Hermione was already vanishing into the night.
The night after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, Lucius summoned Hermione and tried to kill her in a rage.
"You-!" he spat, his wand slashing through the air. "I'll kill you yet, you stupid, interfering Mudblood brat-!"
"You haven't managed it yet," Hermione shot back, dodging his curse and hurling one of her own.
Lucius shielded and threw another curse. "The Dark Lord will prevail! I vow it – I will personally make it so!"
Hermione shielded rapidly, and Lucius had to dive out of the way to dodge the reflected curse.
"Is that so? Then how do you think I'm still here?"
Their duel continued long into the night, until Lucius was too tired to throw another spell, the adrenaline from his anger and the fight long since worn off. As he slumped behind his desk, panting, he could see the reflection of the air glittering in a silver platter above his desk mantel, and Hermione was gone.
Stupid fucking Mudblood. Going to save his life or no, he'd kill her if he could.
Lucius was cold, so cold, so very cold, that his bones felt like ice and his hair on his cheeks felt like snow and he felt as if he'd simply shrivel up and freeze-
Yanking his mind back, Lucius glared at the dementor weakly, but the dementor only ghosted away, moving on to feed on someone else's memories.
His head thunked back against the wall heavily, exhausted, only for him to tense again a moment later as another dementor appeared before the bars of his cell and inhaled.
Suddenly, he was four, his father yelling at him for burning ants on the sidewalk with a childish flame spell, screaming at him that he'd always known he'd grow up to be an abusive wizard, not fit for Hogwarts or decency or love at all. Now he was in the graveyard again, being tortured by Voldemort in a fury after Harry Potter has escaped, agony shrieking through his skeleton as he screamed himself hoarse. Then he was-
Abruptly, the mental anguish and pain was cut off, and Lucius gasped, panting heavily, before vomiting on the floor.
When he'd collected himself enough, he looked up, and Hermione was standing there, her wand outstretched, a silver otter gamboling about, preventing the dementor from touching him.
As if sensing his gaze, she glanced back at him and shrugged.
"You called," she said simply, "though I doubt you were much aware of it at the time."
Finally, finally, the dementor moved away, and Hermione began to fade.
Lucius sat against the wall in a heap for a long time, glaring at the place where she had been, loathing his weakness and utter dependency on her to save his life.
He summoned her again unintentionally, when he was too weak to eat.
He was sick and frail, and he'd caught a chill in the dank prison that kept him coughing and feverish for days. He was near dehydration and starvation when she arrived, and she fed him and treated his bed sores, not saying a word the entire time.
It disgusted him. He remembered her memory of it, shown to him as a defense to keep him from having her killed, and he knew he was living the wretched memory out, and even as he loathed her for touching him, he knew there was gratitude shining in his eyes.
Hermione was wary, confused, and Lucius managed a glare.
"I've come to the decision that if I ask for your help frequently, I am more likely to make it out of this dungeon in one piece," he said, his voice raspy from disuse. "I have already lost my pride by being imprisoned; what more is it to beg for help from a Mudblood?"
He sneered at her, and Hermione took a step back.
"I- I'm not sure I understand."
"I need you to help me eat," Lucius told her. "I need food more substantial than the gruel they've been giving me, and I need you to keep a Patronus up while I eat so I can regain my strength."
Hermione gave him a dark look but obeyed, keeping silent the entire time.
Lucius called for Hermione a few times a day, requiring her to procure food for him, help him clean, and keep the dementors at bay. Hermione's reluctance was periodically met with initial refusal, until her inability to dissolve and depart made her surrender and do as he asked.
Even as he relied on her to live, Lucius grew more and more resentful toward Hermione. It enraged him that a Mudblood should hold the power of life or death over him, a Pureblood, and it made his blood boil.
He had no power – no power at all, and he couldn't do a thing about it until he was out of Azkaban.
His mind turned to darkness, and he silently vowed he would claim his power back.
After Hermione dissolved into nothingness, Lucius waited five minutes, and then called her back. As she reappeared, he struck her once, hard in the head with a leg from his rusty cot, and watched with satisfaction as she crumpled to the ground.
When she awoke, she'd been bound motionless with his bed sheets, and he was standing over her, a grim smile on his face.
"I'm worried I'm losing my sanity in this place," he told her. "In order to make sure I don't lose my mind, I need to know that someone else is hurting just as much as I do. So I'm going to make you hurt, and maybe then you'll take my hurt away when you go."
He hit her again, this time in the side of her stomach, and she cried out, yelping, and he hit her across the face with the bed leg this time, sending a spray of blood to splatter across the wall.
It was a sick game, Lucius played, and one he simultaneously loved and loathed.
He would call for Hermione, asking her help in taking care of him and making sure he stayed alive, and she would appear, bound to help him, despite knowing that after she had, he'd summon her back for abuse.
Beating Hermione gave Lucius a dark sense of satisfaction, a feeling of power that he'd lost long ago.
The fear in her eyes whenever she saw him aroused him, and though the thought of being turned on by a Mudblood repulsed him, his cock throbbed as she cried out with every painful blow.
"You Mudblood whore!"
Lucius felt a rib crack under the bed leg, and she screamed, collapsing in pain.
"You're a useless, filthy Mudblood," he hissed, smashing the leg onto her toes, and she yelled, tears leaking from her eyes.
"You poisoned my father," he informed her, pressing the leg painfully into her crushed toes. "You told him lies, feeding him Mudblood filth, and you corrupted him, making it so he'd never love me. You ruined him. You ruined everything!"
He hit her again and again, and then watched in cold satisfaction as she whimpered on the ground, rolling into a fetal position.
"Have anything to say for yourself, Mudblood?" he demanded. "Going to apologize for all your deceitful lies?"
Hermione choked something out, and Lucius raised an eyebrow.
"You do have something to say," he commented. "Speak up, then – did no one teach you manners, you filthy pig? How do you expect me to understand you?"
He crouched low, mockingly putting a hand to his ear, and Hermione coughed.
"This… is why…"
Lucius' brow furrowed.
"This is why what?" he demanded.
"Why Abraxas hated you," Hermione said, coughing. Blood splattered out of her mouth, and she wheezed. "He summoned me in the middle of this once, and he learned that it was you hurting me."
Lucius' eyes widened, a cold, twisting feeling warping his gut.
"That's why he always hated you," Hermione said weakly. "He knew this is what you'd become."
Lucius dropped the bed leg, and Hermione began to vanish, dull sparkles whisking her away through time.
He sat down heavily on his crooked bed, put his head in his hands, and sobbed.
Lucius did not call for Hermione again while in Azkaban.
The Dark Lord managed to have Dumbledore killed, and he stormed Azkaban, releasing all his faithful Death Eaters that had been imprisoned.
The experience had left many mentally unhinged and maniacally murderous. Lucius, too, was changed, but in a much different way.
He summoned Hermione in front of Narcissa one night when the Dark Lord was out Muggle killing, and the fear in her eyes at the sight of him slowly relaxed.
"I have one request of you," he told her quietly. "Protect my family as best you can."
"But… the war won't be over for another year!" she objected.
Lucius gave her a look.
"Do you think I care?"
Hermione, ever the clever one, disguised herself as a House-Elf through a complicated bit of magic. As Dippy the House-Elf, she could come and go in the manor as she pleased, and none of the resident Death Eaters gave her so much as a second glance.
What most surprised Lucius, however, was Hermione's refusal to take preemptive action.
"Everything turned out alright in the end, with you and everyone in your family alive," she informed him. "Even though it kills me to not interfere and just off You-know-who now, I don't want a Time Paradox on my hands. Got it?"
So Hermione-the-Dippy-the-House-Elf remained, helping to heal Lucius after extended bouts of Crucio, helping to soothe Narcissa as she quaked with fear and anxiety at night, and invisibly healing Draco after he'd fallen asleep, fixing his wounds and scars as best she could.
Her expression was tender when she cared for Draco, and she occasionally brushed his hair off of his face with a soft touch, her eyes laden with unreadable emotion.
For the first time, Lucius began to understand how Hermione might have ended up bound to serve the Malfoys, before he quickly pushed the thought away.
During the Final Battle, Lucius attempted to summon Hermione, but for the first time in his life, she didn't come.
Later, after the battle was over, he figured out why – he'd wanted to summon her to order her to protect Draco, but at that exact moment, she had been, just in this Timeline. Draco had told him how she'd help save his life in the Room of Requirement from the Fiendfyre, and how without her, he'd have been lost.
That a Mudblood would save his son unthinkingly, instinctively, left Lucius feeling very shaken inside, and he resolved not to think of the matter again for a long, long time.
The last time Lucius called for Hermione, he was on his death bed.
The Hermione that appeared was wary of him, her eyes scarred and terrified, and Lucius sighed.
"I won't hurt you," he told her. "At least, not now. If you're called to Azkaban after this, I apologize – I can't change the abuse to you I've already done."
Hermione looked skeptical at that, and Lucius sighed.
"I'm dying, Hermione," he said finally. "I can feel it – my heart is giving out, and I'm going to die."
"What about your family?"
Her sudden question surprised him, and he managed a weak smile.
"Dead," he told her. "Narcissa passed a few years ago, and Draco's just had an accident - his funeral's tomorrow, from what I hear. Scorpius refused to come see me, for reasons I don't entirely understand."
Hermione stared at him.
"D-Dead?" she said, her voice aghast. "They- they- Draco-"
"I know," Lucius said, sighing. "I'm sorry. I know now that you two tried to get married, and that was how this whole thing happened. You must have loved him."
Hermione glared at him.
"I still do," she told him haughtily. "Draco's not dead. I- I know, now – I can prevent it-"
Lucius laughed hollowly.
"Do it if you can, Hermione," he said, coughing. "But until then, there is something I need to say. Come here."
Warily, Hermione moved closer, her defiant brown eyes meeting Lucius' weakened blue. Lucius stared into them for a long, long time, before finally saying his part.
"I am sorry," he said. "I am sorry for everything I ever did to you, and everything I will still do to you."
Hermione stared at him.
"Y-You're sorry?" she asked incredulously. "You regularly beat me to a pulp, and you called me here to tell me that you're sorry?"
"I haven't called for you in the past thirty years," Lucius said with a sigh. "I couldn't; I was too ashamed. I couldn't face you after I realized what terrible things I'd done."
He struggled to sit up.
"That last year as a House-Elf, and then during the Final Battle, I realized something I didn't want to learn," Lucius said. "I realized that you're a witch, as human and as right as any Pureblood, and I didn't like knowing that at all. My pride was too great, Hermione – even through m thirty years of Ministry probation, I never once admitted I was wrong about blood prejudice, though I believed it in my heart of hearts."
His eyes met hers, and for maybe the first time in his life, the so often icy blue held a note of remorse.
"I cannot die leaving this unsaid," he told her. "I feel my life is incomplete, without someone knowing, and the only person I knew had to know was you. So: I am sorry, Hermione, and I was wrong about you, and about everything. I hope the rest of your life is much better than how bad I have made it before."
Hermione stared at him, struck speechless, and she began to glitter and dissolve, leaving nothing but a soft gust of air in her wake.
Lucius died not long after, with no one to watch him go.
"I, Hermione Granger, bind myself to you and yours, from now until the end of my life."
She smiled at him brilliantly, her face flushing, and Draco smiled back.
"I, Draco Malfoy…"
He was supposed to say the same thing she had, he knew, but he couldn't focus with her looking so radiant in her radiant white gown. All he had to do was switch himself in for her, but his mind was faltering at the critical moment.
He fumbled for his words, making a terrible mistake.
"…bind you to me and mine, from now until the end of your life."
The runes glowed and sealed around their wrists, and Draco felt a moment of relief at having done it right.
Then Hermione flickered and disappeared.
The air flickered and shimmered, and Hermione reappeared from midair, and Draco stood and ran to her, relief streaking through him.
"Hermione! Thank Merlin! What happened to you?"
Hermione hit him with her fists, sobbing.
"I don't know! There was this old man, and I had to watch him die! Oh, Draco, what happened? What did you do?"
Draco put his arms around her, cradling her close.
"Ssh. Shh. It's going to be okay, love," he murmured, rocking her slowly.
"It's not going to be okay! That old man, he died!" She shook with sobs in his arms. "He said he knew me – that he'd seen me before. That means I'm going to disappear again, and I won't be able to help it. Oh, Draco, I don't want to disappear!"
He held her close as she cried, trying to offer comfort even as a cold fear twisted in his gut.
"I know what happened," Hermione announced that morning.
Draco blinked at her.
"Really?" he asked, quizzical. "How?"
"I was called away again during the night," she told him. "It was a bit more enlightening this time."
Draco hadn't noticed her disappearing from their bed. He was a bit put out by it, really. To think, she hadn't been at his side the entire night of their Binding.
"Draco, what exactly did you say at the binding?" she asked him.
Draco tried to recall.
"I- I said the same thing you did, except in reverse," he said. "Just like I was supposed to."
"No," she said, "I don't think you did."
She came around the table to sit next to him and took his hand.
"I said, 'I, "I, Hermione Granger, bind myself to you and yours, from now until the end of my life'," she repeated.
"You were supposed to say, 'I, Draco Malfoy, bind myself to you and yours, from now until the end of my life'," Hermione said. "It was the same thing, but with your name in place of mine.
"…I didn't say that?"
Hermione sighed again.
"No, you didn't," she said. "You switched the pronouns. You said, 'I, Draco Malfoy, bind you to me and mine, from now until the end of your life'."
"Well, what's it matter?" he asked. "I was close."
Hermione sighed a third time, this time more deeply than the others.
"It made the binding only work one way," she said. "I'm bound to you and yours, but you're not bound to me."
"What do you mean, you met my grandfather?" Draco demanded.
"I told you, apparently 'you and yours' counts as any Malfoy family patriarch that was alive within my lifespan," she said. "He was dying of Dragon Pox, and he wanted to see me again before he died, so I appeared in front of him just before he passed."
"See you again? But you've never met him!" Draco objected.
Sighing, Hermione shrugged.
"I suppose I will in the future," she said. She paused. "Or is it the past?"
Draco came over and held her tightly.
"I- I'm sorry, Hermione," he said. "I- I didn't mean for any of this to happen. I- I'm so sorry."
Hermione's arms slowly came up to hold him close.
"I know, Draco," she whispered. "I know."
"I don't understand! What do you mean, my father keeps calling you?!"
"He keeps calling me away!" Hermione shouted back. "He's five! He wants me to read him a nighttime storybook, and he refuses to let me go until he's fallen asleep! I can't help it!"
"You're supposed to be my wife!" Draco yelled. "You're supposed to be my bonded, my lover who spends the night in my bed! You're not supposed to vanish in the evening to go read a stupid story to my father!"
"It's not my fault!" Hermione snapped. "I didn't ask for this to happen, Draco."
Draco's eyes narrowed. "Are you saying this is my fault?"
"All I'm saying is that it's a bad situation that neither of us asked for," she said, holding her hands up in surrender. "Neither of us can do anything about it, so we might as well just learn to live with it, all right?"
Draco scowled and slumped back down on the bed. He glared at his feet, and from somewhere above him, Hermione sighed.
"Look," she said softly. "I'm sorry I vanished in the middle of the night. You know if I had the choice, I'd never leave your side, Draco."
"I know," Draco said miserably. "I just- this is all my fault, you know? If I hadn't flubbed my line-"
Hermione sat down next to him, her arms wrapping around him from behind.
"You know I don't blame you, love," she said, kissing his neck. "It was an accident, that's all. There's nothing we can do about it now."
She kissed his neck again, and Draco turned to kiss her more fully on the lips. She moaned, and they rolled over, him pinning her against the bed as he kissed her more desperately.
Afterward, after Hermione had sighed in satisfaction and fallen asleep, Draco lay awake, staring at the ceiling in silence.
Learn to live with it, Hermione had said.
But even though the entire thing had been his fault, Draco didn't know if he could.
"You did what?"
"I helped your grandfather with his Transfiguration homework, and then a year later, I escorted him to a Ball." Hermione shrugged. "It's really not a big deal."
"Not a big deal?!" Draco raged. "Hermione, you went on a date with my grandfather!"
"It's not like I had a choice, Draco!" Hermione snapped. "If I don't fulfill what they need, I can't come back!"
"Maybe I should start calling for you, then, instead of just waiting for you to pop back whenever you're done with them!" Draco yelled. "Waiting for you to be done messing around with my grandfather and my father? That's not right – you're supposed to be mine!"
The row went on long into the night, only ending when Hermione abruptly disappeared once more.
When she returned, she was bruised, battered, and beaten, and she spent the rest of the night crying into her pillow on the bed.
Draco didn't know what to say, so he didn't say anything at all.
Hermione would disappear.
Hermione would return, and Draco would yell at her.
Hermione would storm out of the room in tears, wondering aloud why she didn't leave him.
Though he didn't want her to leave, Draco often wondered himself.
"Stop it! It's not my fault!"
"You vanished in the middle of sex to go help my grandfather with his homework!"
Hermione was crying, and though Draco loved her, he wondered why it seemed he simply couldn't stop himself from screaming.
When Hermione returned from vanishing, she'd go quietly up into her room to avoid an argument.
They had separate rooms, now. Draco told himself it was just so she'd stop waking him up whenever she disappeared.
Draco turned to stare at her.
Hermione shook her head.
"I can't take this anymore, Draco," she said, her eyes full of unshed tears. "I still love you – I always will, Draco, I'll always love you dearly – but I can't take this anymore. I can't keep taking your constant abuse and hatred for something that's not my fault."
She turned, shutting the door smartly behind her, and Draco stared at the door for a long time, not knowing whether he should go after her, whether he should just try to summon her, or if he should just let her go.
In the end, he chose to do nothing – it was always a safer bet, an easier bet, and it helped him feel like the break-up was less of his fault.
Despite his silent vow to himself to leave Hermione alone and let her live her own life, three months later, Draco summoned Hermione.
He'd never done it before, but it had been easy. He'd simply called for Hermione, and she'd come.
She was staring at him now, uncertainty in her eyes.
Wordlessly, Draco nodded. Hermione's eyes widened.
"Draco? Really? You've never called for me before!"
Before he could explain himself, she'd launched herself into his arms and was kissing him heavily, nattering on about how he'd just managed to save her from reading another stupid story to his dad, and Draco's heart sank.
He hadn't gotten the present Hermione – he'd gotten one from ages ago, a Hermione that hadn't yet broken up with him.
Unable to admit the truth, he kissed her back, worshipping her body as he took her to bed, making love to her like he wished he had before she'd up and gone.
By the morning, she had vanished once more, and the ache in Draco's heart had come back in full force.
Hermione glared at him.
"What, Draco?" she demanded.
"I just wanted to see you," he admitted, and Hermione stomped her foot.
"So you summoned me? Instead of just sending me an owl like everyone else does in the civilized world?" She glared at him. "Well? Here I am. You're seeing me. Now what?"
"I- I want you back, Hermione," he admitted. "I made a mistake before. I love you."
Hermione's eyes were venomous.
"That may be true, but you'll move on quickly enough," she spat. "I saw you just three days ago, with your lovely fiancée, Astoria." She sneered. "For someone who wanted to do a spirit bonding with me and bind my lifespan with yours, you sure move on fast, don't you?"
"Astoria?" Draco sputtered. "Who, Greengrass?"
"Just- leave me alone, Draco," she said, turning away as she started to dissolve. "Don't call me again."
He called her again.
She was happy to see him, and as he kissed her and spun her around, Draco was happy once more.
Afterward, when they were both panting on the bed, slick with sweat, Draco's mind drifted to the past.
Hermione hadn't broken up with him soon – she'd put up with him for a long time, really, despite all his griping and constant nagging and anger. Had this been why?
For her, these post-breakup shags had been in the present, when she was still very much in love with him. Passionate lovemaking interspersed with occasional fits of anger was much more understandable for her to deal with, which may have been why she had stayed so long.
He didn't know how many times he'd summoned her before she'd broken up with him, though, or how many times when he'd summon her, she'd be from the future instead. All he could do was take a gamble and chance it, hoping it was his loving girlfriend of so long that returned to him, and not his jaded, wounded not-wife whom he had wronged.
When Draco's mother set him up with Astoria Greengrass, Draco had nodded and accepted the date, knowing it was inevitable. Though he still loved Hermione with all his heart, he couldn't handle her popping in and out all the time, and he couldn't stand her not being truly and exclusively only his.
When the marriage was arranged, Draco went along wordlessly with all the plans. Astoria was pretty enough, he supposed. But she'd never replace Hermione.
He summoned her the night before his wedding, hoping for a quiet kiss or two, only to get Hermione from two days past their breakup, though in actuality two years had passed.
"What do you want?" she demanded, and Draco sighed.
"To tell you," he said. "I'm getting married to Astoria Greengrass. I just thought you should know."
Her shocked gasp cut through him, and he could see her glittering tears among the shimmering air as she vanished once more.
Draco kept calling for Hermione, though it broke his heart.
Less and less often, the loving woman from his past was the one who saw him, and more and more frequently, it was the jaded and hurt woman whom he'd wronged.
"Why do you keep calling me?" she demanded, yelling through her tears. "Can't you just let me move on?!"
"I can't," Draco would say, the words spilling out of him. "I can't. I'm still in love with you."
She'd rage and cry and disappear, and Draco would despair and wonder how everything had gone so terribly, horribly wrong.
Her voice was snappish, and Draco closed his eyes, pained.
"Hello, Hermione," he said quietly. "How are you?"
Hermione scowled and folded her arms.
"Just fine," she said. "Why? What do you want?"
Draco gestured through the glass behind him.
"To meet my son."
Hermione's gasp echoed in the empty corridor.
"Your- your son?"
Draco nodded wordlessly, leading her into the nursery in the dark.
The babies were hard to see, as all the lights throughout Saint Mungo's were dimmed, but Draco moved toward the third one from the left, a tiny child cradled within with a sparse covering of blond hair.
"His name's Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy," he told her. "I- I just thought you should know."
Hermione looked at Draco with such sad eyes, Draco thought his heart would break all over again.
"Is this to make a point that you've moved on from me?" she asked, visibly hurt. "Why are you telling me this?"
Draco sighed and ran a hand through his hair.
"I don't know exactly how this all works," he said, "but in case he was crying and called for you… I wanted you to at least know who he was."
Hermione stared at him, before nodding slowly.
"That's… kind of you, Draco," she said finally, her voice choked up. "But he's never called me yet."
"He will someday," Draco said quietly. "I just wanted you to know who he was."
Draco called Hermione.
She came to him with open arms, ecstatic to see him, and Draco made love to her under the moonlight, waiting until she vanished while she was sleeping in the soft meadow to return to his waiting wife and son.
Draco called Hermione.
She came to him, bruised and broken, sobbing from what his father had done to her, and Draco took care of her, mending her wounds, and promised her that if he had his way, his father would pay.
Draco called Hermione.
She came to him, cold and icy, still feeling like a lover spurned, and Draco sighed and sent her away, wishing he could have been warm and devout enough to help her frozen heart thaw.
Draco called Hermione.
He always called her.
He loved her, and regardless of the mood or time she was in when she came, his heart rejoiced just at having her nearby.
The first time Scorpius met Hermione and remembered the meeting, he was five. His father had summoned her to babysit him, and Hermione, though livid, had acquiesced.
She'd fed him grilled cheese and celery, and she'd read to him out of an advanced spell book. At night, she'd tucked him in and told him a wonderful story about a fairy and a boy the size of his thumb.
Hermione was the nicest person in the world, Scorpius decided as he fell asleep. He liked her, and he wanted to make sure she wouldn't go away.
Scorpius, age eight, watched as Hermione yelled at his father, who looked heart-broken under her torrent of words.
"Why do you keep doing this?!" she demanded through tears. "You threw me away! You married her! How can you do that to me and then keep calling me back?!"
"I had no choice! Please, understand, Hermione," Draco begged. "Our bonding didn't count, you're constantly flying through time, and you're not aging properly! I couldn't have what I needed with you – I couldn't re-bond with you, I couldn't marry you, I couldn't have you carry my child–"
"I hate this!" Hermione cried, slouching to the floor. "I hate this! Everything's been taken from me because of this stupid curse!"
"Hermione… you don't mean that…"
Scorpius watched, hidden behind the corner, as his father sat on the floor and gathered her into his arms.
"How did this happen?" Hermione sobbed. "None of this was supposed to happen. I just want a life of my own. Not to be at the beck and call of you stupid Malfoys."
"If I could take it all away, I would, Hermione," Draco said, looking into her eyes. "I promise you, Hermione, I would."
Hermione cried into his father's chest, his father stroking her back, murmuring into her ear.
Scorpius watched her cry, blinking, making a quiet promise of his own.
His father kept calling her, though Scorpius suspected he knew it was no use. Gone was the Hermione that had loved him, and now there was only the Hermione whom he had wronged.
Even in her fury and despair, she was beautiful, and Scorpius at thirteen knew it.
She was majestic and beautiful, and Scorpius wondered how his father had been fool enough to ever let her go.
"She- she was amazin', y'know? So smart an' posh an' brilliant an' bloody beautiful…"
Scorpius nodded from his chair. He was sixteen, and his father was thoroughly drunk on firewhiskey. Merlin only knew where his mother had gone.
"An', y'know, I ne'er meant to lose her," his father slurred. "It was all a mistake. I'd have never meant for her to have to go dashing off through time. An' I never meant to make her so angry she'd leave. I jus'… I couldn't handle her disappearing all the time…"
He trailed off, looking over the fireplace melancholically, before abruptly turning back to his son.
"You're able to summon her too, now, y'know," he told him. "Dunno why you haven't, ever. But if you do, once you have her, don't you let her go."
Scorpius nodded, a quiet intelligence in his eyes. He waited until his father passed out, snoring heavily in his chair, and he covered him with a blanket before retiring to his room.
His father's advice was nothing new. It was already what he'd planned to do.
His father died – early, at age 47, from a stray curse. Though Scorpius secretly suspected that he'd deliberately not dodged, too heart-broken from Hermione to go on anymore, he'd been given a full funeral befitting of a high-ranking Auror, and it seemed like the entire Wizarding World had turned out for his burial. Afterwards, Scorpius went to an isolated part of the graveyard and called for Hermione for the first time.
She appeared to him in a cloud of shimmering air, looking at first resigned, then surprised.
"I- Draco?" she questioned. "No, wait. You look too young…"
"Scorpius," he said, dipping into a bow. "We've met briefly before, when my father summoned you time after time."
"I haven't called you before now," Scorpius continued. "I realize until now, you haven't really seen me…"
"It doesn't terribly matter," she said. "I met you when you were a baby."
There was a silence.
"I'm not a baby anymore," Scorpius said quietly.
Hermione's gaze locked with his own.
Scorpius held her eyes for a long moment before going on.
"I'm the only one alive, now," he said quietly. "My grandfather and my father are dead. They can't summon you anymore. I've researched it – now that I'm the only scion of Malfoy alive at a time, you'll be bound to this time to serve me until another Malfoy comes along."
Hermione looked at him slowly, her chocolate brown eyes searching his. His heart beating faster, Scorpius continued his carefully-rehearsed speech.
"For years and years, Hermione, you've lived to help the Malfoys in the hard times of their lives." He paused and drew breath. "Now, Hermione, what I've called you for is for you to live your life for you."
Hermione stared at him.
"For me?" she breathed.
Scorpius nodded. "For you."
Hermione looked dumbfounded, like Scorpius imagined a slave would look when given a freedom he didn't know he could have.
"I won't have children," he told her. "That way, you'll only ever stay in this one timeline, and you'll be able to live a normal life. Granted, it's a very different time from your own – all your former friends are old enough to be your parents, now – but you'll be able to live a full life of your own."
Hermione closed her eyes, holding them shut, and Scorpius could see her shaking slightly. A lone tear escaped from her eye.
"Your father is dead, and I loved him," she told him, her eyes shiny and wet. "Your great-grandfather is also long since dead, and I loved him too." She looked up at him, her gaze so pleading and plaintive that Scorpius felt his heart go out to her. "How can I now live my life alone?"
She sat down heavily on a bench nearby, hanging her head in her hands, her back quivering slightly with stifled sobs.
Scorpius sat down next to her, carefully placing an arm on her shoulder, ever so gentle.
"You won't be alone," he told her quietly. "Not if you don't want to be."
Hermione looked up and scoffed at him, her cheeks streaked with her tears.
"Once this gets out, once everyone knows what happened, who would be my friend?" she asked him. "Who would want to love someone who could theoretically vanish across time?"
Scorpius' eyes met hers.
"I've never summoned you before, Hermione, though I've known how to since I was a boy," he told her. "I did that for a very deliberate reason – when you finally got the chance to lead a normal life, I wanted it to be as normal as possible, including the getting-to-know-you part of a date."
Hermione's eyes widened, and Scorpius pulled out a single rose.
"Hermione, would you care to go to dinner with me tonight?"
Hermione looked at him for a long moment, and Scorpius steadily held her gaze.
Slowly, Hermione reached out and took the flower from him, pressing her nose into the bloom.
She inhaled, and Scorpius felt like he could almost see the floral scent sweep across her face, and he watched as the tension lines in her face softened and youthened her before his eyes.
"I'd like that very much, Scorpius," she said, and for the first time he'd seen her, she smiled.
Her smiled dazzled him, and Scorpius promised himself he'd do his best to ensure that sparkle never went out of her eyes.