Chapter Thirty-Seven

April 3rd, 2004

The pool of blood he sat in was coagulated on the floor; dark and stick and drying quickly, staining the tile beneath it. Theo sighed, already hearing the sounds of Pixie scolding him for making such a mess. Hermione likely wouldn't come to his defence either, not over this one, and not against a house-elf. The metallic smell was heavy in the air, mixed with potpourri and magic. Draco and Luna gone, Theo's eyes were only for Hermione.

His witch. His love. His salvation.

His wife.

"So that's it. Married," he said, the word tasting like ash in his mouth. Hermione deserved better. Deserved a big white wedding with her parents and friends. She deserved Daphne making a fuss, Blaise and Ginny spiking the punch while Harry and Ron drank on unsuspectingly. Pansy would make a scene, insisting on catching the bouquet despite already being married, and Draco and Luna would get caught shagging in a dark corner somewhere. She deserved everything.

What she got was a life or death bonding ceremony in their bathroom.

She smiled softly, nervously. "Bonded. Not married, not really," she clarified with a quiet laugh, her fingers threaded through his; blood stained.

He frowned at the amount of red that surrounded them and wondered how Hermione spent so many years in Gryffindor Tower surrounded by the colour without thinking immediately of blood. He craved the dark green and black of the dungeons, the cool tile floor and crisp air. Light from the fire lit up the dark walls with shadows from the creatures in the Black Lake dancing on it. Not a scrap of red in sight.

Red polluted their bathroom and he vowed to paint the walls dark green when Hermione wasn't looking. "You deserved better than . . . than this," he whispered, looking down at her engagement ring, usually pink and sparkling, now stained and smudged.

She leaned forward and kissed him softly and Theo felt a spark inside, similar to what he felt during the actual bonding. Like a fire deep down trying desperately to come to life. "I deserve you," Hermione whispered against his mouth and he could taste the sweetness of her breath. "I want you. Even if it's you on the floor of our bathroom, covered in your own blood." She grabbed his forearm and looked at the deep gashes across the Dark Mark. "What were you thinking, Theo?"

He shrugged. "Don't remember thinking much, to be honest. I just wanted the damned thing off of me."

"How do you feel now?"

He inhaled shakily. "Like . . . terrible but . . . it feels like I'm buzzing," he said, holding out his free hand and watching as it shook. Not from loss of blood but from something powerful stirring inside of him, humming against his skin. "I can feel my magic and . . . and I think I can feel yours. As though there are bees in my chest circling a hive and not knowing how to get in. Does that make sense?"

She smiled sweetly and kissed him again. Once more the fire sparked. "Yes," she said. "We need to—"

He frowned and pulled away from her. "This feels like a chore. I don't like it." Bonding ceremony in the bathroom, check; consummate marriage, check.

She let go of his hand and cupped his face, pulling herself forward and straddling his legs. "Then don't let it be a chore. My magic is buzzing too," she said, breathing hot against his jawline. "It's . . . cold and hot at the same time, burning. I feel like . . . like it's missing something . . . integral . . . I'm empty."

Heat stirred him to life and he let a small growl through his throat, still raw from screaming earlier. "You deserve rose petals and white silk . . . candles and . . . as if you had let loose the grief, the love, the fury of a cork-trapped wine that geysers flooding from deep in its vault. In my mouth I felt the taste of fire again." Lips parted, hovering over hers and breathing in each exhale, Theo closed his eyes and fought the dark urges pushing him, tempting him forward, tempting him to take. "You deserve to have me make love to you slowly, purposefully, worshipping every inch of you."

Hermione ground her hips against his, her body shivering. "I want you alive," she said, pulling a groan from his throat. "You are more than welcome to whisper honeyed words to me after my father walks me down the aisle, after my mother cries, after I throw a stupid bouquet right into Ginny's unappreciative arms," she said with a smirk. "Make slow love to me that night. But right now, I don't need romance. I need you desperately, hot and hard and . . . I need your magic . . . I want to give you mine," she whimpered her words as Theo tilted his pelvis up, pushing his iron hard erection between her thighs and making out the words "Fuck me" as she silently mouthed them against his jaw.

He clenched his eyes shut as the heat built and built inside of him, pooling in his groin like a furnace that spewed embers and smoke and ash around his magical core; an internal Mount Vesuvius, his blood was a delicious magma. "I don't . . . I need to get . . ." And he reached an arm out to the open door, gesturing to their bedroom, oblivious to the fact that Hermione was reaching her hand between their bodies, slipping into his trousers and gripping him with soft sticky hands.

"No time," she whispered, adjusting her own clothing in the process, granting him access straight to the parts of her that he'd so quickly become addicted to. "You've been dying for far too long, Theo."

They both let out groans of satisfaction that felt like coming home. However, their joining also ignited something dangerous and Hermione clutched his shoulders, digging her fingers into the muscles as fireworks exploded inside of her chest, sending tingling, burning magic through her nerves, outward to the tips of her fingers and down to her toes.

She felt him, his magic, his essence swirling inside with her own. She could almost see it; dark green and silver moving like a tidal wave and engulfing the red and gold of her own core, twisting and turning and braiding together, never to be parted. Flashes of spells she'd cast over her life were brought to the forefront of her mind when he grabbed her hip and thrust twice more, harder with each stroke. She felt the memories of feathers floating, fires starting, locks unlocking. She felt more than remembered every Stupefy, every Impedimenta, every Obilivate.

And then she felt the darkness.

She felt the power behind each Crucio, each Imperio, each Avada.

It wasn't her magic any longer, but Theo's. Dark and stained but still beautiful, and despite knowing what it was and how the darkness got there, she clung to it and him, pressing her fingers deeper into his shoulders as though she could permanently tattoo her prints there. She took him completely, flaws, past, Dark magic and all, and let her own magic swallow him whole.

"Are you . . . do you . . . it's . . ." Theo gasped as her magic filled him the same way, though instead of the addictive drowning that Hermione experienced, Theo's breath caught with every push of his pelvis and every rock of her hips; her magic filling in the bits of him that were missing, bits that had died away already, decayed and infected and poisoning him. Like a burst dam washing away a forest fire, his magical core repaired itself with the Healing Potion that was just her, and the strength that had been gone for months all too quickly returned to him.

His eyes opened and bored into hers with a ferocity she'd not yet seen and certainly had not anticipated.

His eyes, the calm ocean surrounding earth were now raging tidal waves, shining in the dim light of their bathroom like sapphires sparkling in the moonlight.

His hands gripped her blouse and ripped the fabric at the same time that his mouth claimed hers, lips parting and tongue invading. Despite nearly bleeding out on the floor, Theo stood, carrying her with him and wrapping her legs around his waist. Setting her arse on the counter behind her, Theo grunted.

"Oh gods . . ." Hermione moaned, her fingernails biting into his skin, leaving behind red crescent marks. "I love you . . . Theo," she said, a sudden slave to his strength, his ferocity, his magic—light, dark, grey . . . it didn't matter anymore because it was theirs.

Theo threaded his fingers through hers and used the connection to lift her hands above her head, pinning her to the mirror. The colour returned to his skin with each and every push and pull, and he grinned at the sight of his own reflection over her shoulder. Alive.

"Alive," he whispered in awe and then kissed her hard again, trying to desperately thank her with his body in ways that words would never be able to. When she whimpered again he briefly wondered if he was hurting her, if this version of him was too much, but she growled and sank her teeth into his bottom lip and he had to stop his eyes from rolling in the back of his head.

"Fuck!" Hermione cried into his mouth and Theo clenched his eyes shut tightly. His thighs burned as they tensed, and he slammed their entwined hands against the mirror once more, the glass breaking.

Dizzy in the aftermath, basking in the warm sensation that was their joined bodies, alive and awake with a vibrating magic shared between them. Theo lifted his head from her shoulder and the two gazed at one another, gasping for breath. She was a warrior, his witch. This woman had pulled him from Death's hands. She had told the long since dead Dark Lord to go fuck himself, caressing Theo's Dark Mark with near affection, two fingers to his past and the reason it was put there.

Once she'd caught her breath, Hermione giggled, her head swarmed with magic and hormones. She smiled as Theo kissed her cheek, jaw, chin, and then the hollow of her throat. "You've alive," she said, her personal victory chant. "You're alive and . . . and . . ."

"And quite ravenous," he said against her skin.

"Ready for round two?" she asked with a smirk.


Hermione grinned and wiggled her hips. Her powerful thighs wrapped around him like a python, the nails of one hand still piercing his skin like the claws of the lion that she was. A warrior. Sweat soaked and blood stained.

They'd survived a war looking like victims.

They survived their bonding looking like victors.