Summary:"Nice of you to visit right around breakfast time" he murmured to her very softly, and Hermione felt goosepimples prickle across her skin at his sinister tone and at the fact that his voice this time had come from somewhere much closer to her in the dark Hermione squinted, trying to see through the stifling blackness, and simply couldn't. AditiDraco95's Vampire Challenge.

Agony

By Kittenshift17


Hermione Granger scowled at the darkened skyline as thunder boomed from the rain-heavy storm clouds that hung low, threatening to crack open and drench her before she could reach her destination. She hurried her steps a little, her nervousness and hesitation making her sluggish, in spite of the downpour that looked ready to claim her. The wind had begun to pick up, and the air had chilled considerably, making Hermione wonder if they might get sleet rather than rain.

Though it was hard to tell with the clouds hanging so low and covering the sun so effectively, it was almost dusk, and Hermione knew her intended host for the evening would no doubt just be waking for the day. After all, no self-respecting vampire was awake during daylight hours where they might risk a stray ray of sunshine scorching their skin, and her host was no exception. Hermione was dreading her impending visit with the only vampire in existence she could even consider approaching, and it was times like this when her position as a liaison between the Wizarding world and the wider community of Magical Beings from different races was one that Hermione regretted. If she'd become an Auror like Harry and Ron, she wouldn't be coming to call on a vampire in the late afternoon, and she most certainly wouldn't be risking her life by presuming to simply drop in on him.

She still found it hard to believe that he'd become a vampire, and Hermione was sure that were the choice ever to be put in her hands as to whether she wanted to die or to live on for the rest of eternity, never aging but subsisting on the blood of the living to survive, she would choose to go quietly into her grave and take an eternal slumber. Immortality wasn't for her.

As the skies above cracked open with a terrifying boom and a flash of blinding lightning, Hermione shrieked, jolted from her thoughts and spurred into fleeing towards the tower in the distance where she could see a door that would get her safely out of this torrential downpour. Her feet slipped and skidded in the immediate mud caused by the heavy rain, and she collided with the door with a thud that was lost amid the sound of the rain when she lost her balance and almost bit it in the muddy quagmire that had sprung up with the deluge.

Without bothering to knock, Hermione turned to handle of the rickety looking wooden door and let herself into the looming tower that she'd been warned away from thanks to several signs posted along the lonely stretch of forest paths that had led her deep into the forest, where she discovered the current home of the vampire shed come to call upon.

"My, but your manners haven't improved at all" a disembodied voice spoke in the darkness of the still room, making Hermione jump. She was surprised by how much the stone walls muffled the sound of the storm outside, and by the flicker of fear that squeezed her heart painfully inside her chest as she pulled out her wand, meaning to light to tip to better see in the pitch blackness of the tower.

"My manners are just fine, I knocked by colliding with the door." Hermione retorted, squinting as she searched for the owner of the voice. It made her nervous to be alone in the dark with a vampire. Especially the one she'd come to see.

"I do hope you don't mean to light that thing" he murmured to her, sounding utterly pleasant and yet strangely as though lighting her wand would result in her untimely death. Hermione marvelled at the idea that he could sound so capricious with one little non-threatening sentence.

"I can't see a thing" Hermione argued, "And I don't trust you in the dark."

"You don't trust me in the light either" he replied, sounding amused now "Why are you here?"

"I don't know if you know, but I work at the Ministry now…. In the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures." Hermione said, her nervousness growing by the second. She could practically feel him slinking forward in the utter darkness, stalking closer with the intention of unsettling and otherwise upsetting her. After all, it had always been his nature and his re-birth as a vampire had only amplified those traits within him.

"And so you've come all by yourself to call on little old me?" He sounded positively delighted by the news, and as though he expected she was there to reprimand him for something he'd done.

"Yes. The Ministry wants to instigate a program to help you and other Vampires get the blood you need to survive without having you preying on unsuspecting muggles" Hermione explained "And since you're the only person I know who's actually affected by Vampirism, I thought I'd stop by to find out if you could be swayed to the idea and if you had any pull with any other vampires you might know in order to begin to get this program underway."

"Nice of you to do so right around breakfast time" he murmured to her very softly, and Hermione felt goosepimples prickle across her skin at the sinister tone in his voice and at the fact that his voice this time had come from somewhere much closer to her in the dark Hermione squinted, trying to see through the stifling blackness, and simply couldn't. She even lifted her hand in front of her own face and waved it, but could make out even a silhouette of it in the dark.

"Are you threatening me, Malfoy?" Hermione demanded of her host, not at all liking the way he'd sounded almost hungry as he mentioned breakfast. She hadn't stopped to consider the prospect that it might be a bad idea to call on a vampire at the beginning of his day when he was most likely to be at his hungriest.

"Well, Granger, you did come wandering into my territory unannounced, ignoring all the warning signs to keep you away. And you've no idea how utterly delectable you smell with all that fresh human blood gushing through your veins after I've spent so much of my time choking down animal blood and that stuff in the bags that's never the right temperature." He pointed out.

Hermione quickly withdrew the bag of blood she'd tucked into the waistband of her slacks and worn against her skin to make it close to the right temperature, holding it out in the dark in the hopes that while she couldn't see a thing, he might be able to and so would know she was offering it to him.

"I should've known you'd come prepared" Hermione heard him mutter before she felt the blood bag be tugged out of her hand. If she listened hard, she could hear the gulping sound and slurping sound of him consuming his meal.

"Are you going to help me oragnize this program, or am I just wasting my time?" Hermione asked, feeling uncomfortable to know that the boy she'd once sat across from in class was gulping down blood.

"What's in it for me?" he asked her, his voice having turned husky and deep as though his throat had been parched and was no longer. She shuddered at the sound, cursing the fact that in spite of the Revulsion Draught she'd drunk before coming to see him, the enthrallment of the vampire called to her. She knew that with a few simple words he could easily seduce her into being his willing victim if he chose, and the potion didn't seem to be doing as much as she'd hoped to stave off that unfortunate vampire trait.

Hermione understood that it was a gift from whatever dark being had created their curse to allow Vampire to get their daily blood without needing to hunt down and mentally scar their victims. It was used instead to seduce the victim into willing offering the vampire blood, sex and just about anything else the undead might want and it was one of the reasons vampires were shunned. They had a dark reputation, and more often than not, and even darker nature.

"What's in it for you, and the rest of your kind, would be that rather than needing to attack people just to eat, you'd simply be able to show up at a Ministry run Blood bank, where you would be able to easily access blood. You wouldn't have to hunt down some poor animal and drink from it. You wouldn't need to go out and enthrall victims into giving you whatever you want, and the Ministry wouldn't have to keep dealing with modifying the memories of these victims when the enthrallment wears off, or cleaning up the mess if one of you takes it too far and drains you victim completely. The Minster has had enough of hunting all of you down, unsuccessfully most of the time, when it goes too far and people get killed."

"You really need to stop using the word victim if you want to get out of here in one piece Granger" Draco Malfoy warned her, and Hermione blinked in shock and fear when suddenly a pair of glowing red eyes appeared less than three feet in front of her, staring down at her hungrily. His eyes gave off enough light that she could dimly see the rest of his face, and Hermione did her best not to gasp in terror.

He'd always been rather good-looking, but now he was utterly mesmerizing, and Hermione found herself entirely unable to take her eyes off him. His hair was as pale at moonlight, just as it had always been, but now it hung into his eyes in such a way that she felt the urge to reach up and brush it back. His once grey eyes now glowed crimson in an unnerving way, and yet Hermione could find no revulsion within herself at the sight of them.

The recent consumption of blood had the veins around his eyes standing out in the most disturbing way, and they practically writhed as he stared down at her from so close, telling Hermione that if she didn't state her business and be on her way soon, she might very well be his next meal. And while his eyes were disturbing, they weren't nearly as unsettling as the pair of inch long fangs that protruded from his top jaw and down over his bottom lip to halfway down his chin. They looked lethally sharp, and Hermione didn't have to touch them to know they would be. Even simply holding his gaze, Hermione felt the enthrallment begin to work on her, making her want to move closer to him in the dark, rather than wanting to flee.

In fact it was so potent that she sort of wanted to reach up and touch those sharp fangs, or perhaps even to feel them sinking into the soft flesh of her neck.

"Stop it" Hermione hissed at him when she caught the slight smirk on his face as she swayed unsteadily on her feet, practically swooning like a fool all thanks to the effects of his enthrallment.

"Stop what Granger?" he asked her seriously, grinning now and showing off more of those bright white teeth.

"Stop trying to enthral me" Hermione commanded of him.

"I wouldn't dream of it" he informed her. "I prefer not to use it. I find it much more rewarding to have my victims come to me willing and of their own volition. So if you're feeling the need to have me bite you, it's all coming entirely from you. I'm not surprised, really. The way your heart is racing indicates your attraction to me, as does your scent."

"And now you're lying to me in an attempt to get inside my head." Hermione scowled, not liking his words a bit.

"I'm not lying Granger. I can smell that vile Revulsion Potion you've consumed, which, consequently hinders the effects of enthrallment. Even if I were inclined to use it on you, that potion would make it ineffective." Draco told her and Hermione stared at him uncomfortably. She wasn't sure she believed him, but he did look as though he was genuinely telling the truth. She'd heard that the Revulsion Draught had this effect.

"You're not enthralling me?" Hermione confirmed.

"No. You want me all on your own" he grinned wickedly and Hermione felt like swooning again. What was wrong with her? This was bloody Malfoy! She was married to Ron, for Merlin's sake, and Malfoy was a sodding Vampire! Why was she reacting to him like this?

"Are you going to answer my questions about the program, or are you just going to smirk at me?" Hermione demanded.

"I haven't decided yet. You look different" he pointed out conversationally and Hermione blinked at him again, noticing as she did that before her eyes his fangs slowly retracted until they were just wickedly sharp incisors inside his mouth and the veins around his eyes stopped standing out and writhing.

"Probably because I haven't seen you in more than five years and got married" Hermione replied "Do you know any other vampires, and would you be interested in the idea of working with the Ministry to meet your dietary requirements?"

Malfoy clucked his tongue at her.

"It really doesn't do to discuss such matter in my foyer, Granger" he told her, and Hermione almost jumped out of her skin when his cool hand wrapped around hers and gave it a gentle tug "We should continue this in my dining room. Not to mention you're soaked and must be cold. Come, there's a fire this way."

"You use fire? I thought being a vampire meant you didn't need to because you never got cold" Hermione replied too stunned by his polite demeanour to be overly concerned as he led her through the dark and up a winding set of steps into a room that did indeed have a fireplace.

"I don't" Malfoy shrugged "But my mother visits with me often, in spite of my condition, and so I keep it going for those times."

"I see" Hermione replied, walking over and standing by the fire when he released her hand, relieved by the fact that the crackling fire meant his glowing eyes were no longer the only light source. "And are you intending to answer my questions?"

"I know plenty of other Vampires" Malfoy replied evenly, going over and sitting down on the lounge in the room. There was a predatory grace about him that Hermione knew had not been there before he'd been bitten. "Are you going to tell me who it was that you married?"

"You already know the answer to that" Hermione replied just as evenly, choosing not to look at him as she said it.

She didn't want to think about the evening they'd spent together several months after the war. She didn't want to think about the way they met in a little pub on the outskirts of Bristol, completely by accident. She certainly didn't want to think about the way they sat together at the bar long into the night, discussing everything and nothing, both too afraid to suggest they move their companionship to a more private location.

And yet, unbidden, the memory came back to her as though it were yesterday and not more than five years ago. She could recall the way he'd looked so different from the arrogant boy she'd known at Hogwarts, and the way he come up to her and bought her a drink, accompanying it with an apology for all the times he'd been such a tosser to her. She could still remember the way she'd found him so easy to talk to when he wasn't being cruel or mocking her, and the way he'd held her attention well into the early hours of the morning with nothing more than simple conversation.

It had been a strange and rare experience for Hermione, to simply be able to sit and talk to someone for hours on end. It wasn't something she'd ever really experienced before. In the past, Hermione had found that it was usually Harry and Ron who did the majority of the talking, most often about Quidditch. She'd never really known the pleasure of being to sit and hold a conversation with someone without having to constantly pause and explain her meaning were she to use a high-level vocabulary word to express herself, and she'd not once had anyone with whom she'd been able to discuss the ways of the wizarding world and all it's intricacies without having them roll their eyes and tell her she was boring. Something Ron was still prone to doing on occasion when she tried to explain some fascinating creature she encountered in her research or her daily work.

Hermione turned away from Malfoy's stare as she tried very hard indeed not to think about the fact that she'd let the novelty of his company and a little too much whiskey go to her head, resulting in the pair of them retiring to a rented room above that little Bristol pub and engaging in an activity Hermione hadn't experienced in its full capacity before that night, that still turned her cheeks pink when she thought of it.

"Weasley then?" Malfoy asked her, either oblivious to the turn her thoughts had taken, or provoking her into reacting, as she'd once learned he was particularly gifted at.

"Ron and I have been married four years" Hermione replied "Do you think you'd be able to speak to these other vampires that you know and discuss with them the idea of negotiating an arrangement that would allow for the Ministry to provide blood to all of you without any more attacks happening on random bystanders and innocent victims?"

"Perhaps. Why did you marry him?" he replied, and Hermione shivered when she realised he'd moved up until he was standing behind her while she stared into the flames of the fire, trying very hard not to think about the night they'd spent together so long ago.

Try as she might, Hermione couldn't forget the intimate moments they'd shared, nor the sting of unhappiness and betrayal she'd felt when she woke one morning five months later in the apartment they'd shared to find him gone. She tried not to think too much about the fact that at first she'd been frantically concerned for his safety, and despairing when she'd learned that in the early hours of the morning he'd left the house only to be accosted by a Vampire while he strolled through the park. She tried not to think about the way he'd come to her several nights later, still new to his condition. The way he'd been unable to resist the pounding of her heart and the pulse of the blood in her veins.

Almost absently, Hermione reached up and brushed her fingers over the pair of identical bite-mark scars on her throat where he'd sunk those lethal fangs into her flesh and drank her blood until she'd been lightheaded and dizzy. Involuntarily, her tongue moistened her lips as she recalled the heady taste of Vampire blood on her tongue when he'd fed some of his blood back to her to keep her from dying. She closed her eyes against the tears that threatened as she recalled the way she'd woken alone in their bed the following morning with nothing but a short note from him telling her that he was sorry and that he no longer trusted himself to be around her and so would be leaving with the intention of learning to cope with his condition and would never return.

"I married him because we love each other" Hermione answered his question, attempting to shove the thoughts aside. "Do you have any questions about the program I'm trying to initiate, or are you going to continue to pry into my private life?"

"Just how does the Ministry intend to support the community of Vampires throughout all of Britain and provide us blood?" he asked her, his voice sounding cold now. Hermione wondered if it was because of her answer or because she'd snapped at him.

"Their intention is to collect the blood the same way the Hospitals do, and provide it to all of you at whatever temperature best suits you," Hermione explained.

"And how are they going to accomplish that?" Draco asked her "I hardly think the wizarding community had suddenly changed their minds about Vampires and decided to do anything that might in some way assist us."

"You underestimate my ability to change the minds of my colleagues and to persuade others to my way of thinking. In the years I've held my position I've had the Werewolf Registry overturned and a Legislature drawn up to ensure werewolves have the same legal rights as wizards regarding employment, ensuring that they can't be fired for their condition. I've also instigated Ministry provided distribution of the Wolfsbane potion freely to any who suffer the curse and wish to take the medication, in spite of all the prejudice against werewolves and the complaints of the man who invented Wolfsbane potion, who was rather vocal about the idea of his invention being given away for free when he preferred to profit from the suffering of those affected who could actually afford the disgustingly priced recipe and ingredients." Hermione informed him calmly. She was proud of her achievements and she wasn't afraid to boast about the when it felt necessary.

"You had him thrown in Azkaban for a month for discriminating against Werewolves" Draco murmured, and Hermione felt her heart begin to pound when she realised he was standing right behind her, close enough that if he had any body heat to give off, she'd been able to feel it against her back.

"He deserved it" Hermione replied, her lips twitching at the proud and approving tone in his voice "I've also managed to convince the Ministry to initiate a program that calls for all Ministry employees to donate a pint of blood every month, and those who are willing are able to donate as often as they like. The Blood Replenishment potion results in us being able to give blood every day if we choose to without any ill-effects."

"No ill-effects that you might notice" he murmured "But we'll notice. That stuff makes the blood thicker, but less nutritious, meaning we require more of it."

"I've also instigated a blood drive that's open to muggles, who are always more than willing to donate blood believing it goes to a good cause by helping other muggles who get injured or sick."

"You're tricking them into believing their helping others when really you're just stealing their blood to feed vampires?" Malfoy asked, chuckling mildly now.

"They are helping others. They're helping vampires. And the more they donate, the less likely they are to be attacked in the park late at night and fed on." Hermione argued, feeling a swell of annoyance at the implication that she was simply stealing it for no purpose "Vampires are people too, and just because you all need to drink it rather than to have it racing around in your veins, doesn't mean their donation is any less valuable. You need blood to live, just the same way sick people do."

Draco didn't say anything to that, and Hermione bit her lip, knowing she'd probably given away her secret.

"Why are you instigating this idea Hermione?" he asked her very softly, and Hermione bit her lip on a whimper to hear her first name coming out of his mouth once more.

"You know why" Hermione whispered, refusing to look at him. Refusing to give him the satisfaction of knowing that in spite of his condition, and in spite of her marriage to Ron, there was rarely a day that went by when she didn't think of him and wonder how he was coping with his condition. She'd tried writing to him in the aftermath of his affliction, but he'd never responded to her and when she'd tried looking for him, she'd had not even a lick of luck at locating him. It was a miracle she'd tracked him down today at all.

"Most vampires are going to jump at this chance" he whispered to her in return, and Hermione held her breath when she felt the lightest brush of his fingers against her hip through her damp clothing. "But it's not going to solve the problem completely. Some of the deaths are accidents, but there are some vampires who prefer to drink their victims dry. They say the blood tastes sweeter as their victim dies."

"But if we instigate it, you'll get your blood that way from now on?" Hermione asked him, her whole body quivering at the feel of his touch against her after so long apart.

"Drinking it from a bag isn't the same as nuzzling into someone's soft neck" he murmured, and Hermione felt her head tilt to one side, exposing her neck to him, knowing his face hovered over her right shoulder.

"You really shouldn't do that Hermione" Draco murmured to her huskily, and Hermione felt desire curl through her. She hated herself for the fact that in spite of her happy marriage to Ron, she wanted to feel his lips against her throat. "I have far better control than I used to, but I'm not a saint and you're difficult to resist because I already know how your blood tastes of the sunshine I'm no longer allowed to feel."

Hermione knew she shouldn't be doing it. She knew it was utter insanity to offer her throat to a vampire and silently invite him to drink from her. She knew she ought not to be there at all, knowing very well that she was still in love with him just the way she'd been the day he left.

"Do you think you'd be able to convince any of the vampires you know to get their blood via the program from now on?" she asked instead, her head still tilted to the side, tempting him and testing his strength of will.

"Probably. You instigated this program because of me, didn't you?" he asked her, and Hermione trembled when she felt his fingers brush against the side of her throat, brushing her hair aside and giving him unhindered access to her.

"Of course I did" Hermione whispered. "This doesn't change who you are. It just means you have to get your sustenance a little differently to the way I do."

Hermione heard the breath he didn't need to take, catch in his throat as her words.

"How can you say that after what I did to you?" he asked her quietly, sounding tortured by her words. Hermione knew that he believed he'd attacked her and hurt her and scared her when he'd come to her that night so long ago and drank so much of her blood that he'd almost killed her. She'd known all along that it was the reason he'd fled from her and refused to reply to her letters. That he blamed himself and hated himself for what he had done to her.

"I never had a problem with what you did to me Draco. It never mattered to me that you'd become a vampire. I never blamed you for what you did, and as you can see, I'd let you do it again in a heartbeat. I was in love with you. I would've been happy to stay with you and help you learn how to deal with you condition. It was you who pushed me away, and you who ran away from me because you were afraid of what you'd become." Hermione informed him, the words spilling out of her mouth that she'd spent five years imagining saying to him.

She'd felt many things about his decision to leave her because of his condition over the years. Rage. Despair. Determination. Defeat. Depression. Acceptance. Understanding. But in all that time, she'd been left with a gnawing urge inside herself to find some way to help him. To find a way to have the wizarding world view vampires not as monsters of the night, but as human beings who simply had different dietary needs, didn't like going out during the day and were a little more persuasive than others. She'd felt a yearning to make the world see Draco the way she still saw him, in spite of his condition.

"If you believe that, why did you marry Weasley?" Draco asked her, his hand curling around her hip and slowly pulling her back against his chest, his other hand trailing lightly over the spot where her pulse fluttered beneath her skin inside her neck.

"Because I knew that no matter what I said or did, or how I tried to change your mind, you were never going to forgive yourself for what you'd done to me, and never going to fully come to terms with your condition. I knew that in spite of the fact that you're now going to live forever, you'll never love me the same way as you once did, and that nothing I could say or do would convince you that what you are doesn't matter to me. I knew that you didn't want to be with me anymore. That much was clear when you refused to respond to my letters and evaded me when I tried to find you." Hermione replied, her heart racing now as his arm slipped around her waist and she felt him lower his lips to brush feather light kisses over her throat as though he simply couldn't help himself.

She shivered when she felt his fangs scrape very lightly against her, not hard enough to break the skin or leave any marks, just hard enough the leave Hermione with a quivering desire to feel them sink into her flesh once more.

"You really shouldn't have come, Hermione" he murmured to her. His voice was low and husky, and Hermione could hear the pain in his voice. She wondered if it was pain caused by his attempts to resist tasting her blood, or if the pain stemmed, as hers did, from a broken heart.

She might not be willing to admit it to anyone but herself, but for all that she loved Ron and was happy with him. A part of her would always love Draco. A portion of her heart would always belong to him, and no matter the time or the distance they might put between themselves, Hermione knew that if she lived to be a hundred, she'd still love him. It truly didn't matter to her that he was a vampire.

Hermione wondered about his feelings now, and whether or not he might still love her as he once had done or if he simply felt nothing but an insatiable thirst for blood. She wondered as he scraped his fangs against her skin a second time, if the pain she'd heard in his voice stemmed not from the restraint it took to keep from biting her, but from his own broken heart. Did seeing her make him long for the life they'd been planning together? Did he ever wonder how things might've turned out if he hadn't been bitten? If he hadn't fled from her in a vain attempt to keep from hurting her, which only resulted in hurting her far more than he ever could have had he stayed with her.

"I wanted to come" Hermione whispered in response, aware that she sounded breathless at the feel of his body pressed against her back, at the feel of his strong arms wrapped around her once more.

"You're not making this easy" he informed her, his lips still pressing kisses to her skin that made her want to give him anything he wanted.

"You don't have to restrain yourself Draco" Hermione whispered to him, feeling a longing deep in her heart to feel him bite her again. "I don't mind. Bite me if you want to."

"Hermione!" he groaned, sounding as though he truly was in agony now.

Hermione held her breath when she felt his fangs lengthen even further, scraping against her skin now in such a way that she imagined she would have faint raised red welts where he dragged them. She could sense how much the urge to sink those dual points into her flesh tormented him; how much he longed to nuzzle into her and bury them in her veins, drinking until that burning dryness in his throat went away.

"Do it" Hermione urged him, overcome by how much she wanted him to. He hesitated, and Hermione felt a desperate yearning seize her when he slowly loosened his hold as though he meant to pull away from her. "Please Draco?"

His answering groan to her pleading request was muffled by her gasp of pain and then her whimper of pleasure as he nuzzled his face back into her neck, fitting his fangs directly over the pair of scars from the time he'd bitten her more than five years ago. The sting at the feel of his fangs breaking through her skin and tapping into her carotid artery only lasted a moment of two, and felt more like being given a needle than anything else.

Just as quickly as the pain came, it dispersed again, his fangs withdrawing and shrinking down to a normal size as he fitted his warm lips against the puncture wounds. The pleasure came with the first draw of her blood from her body and into his. It was all encompassing, and Hermione drifted in a sea of bliss, surrendering her weight to the feel of his strong arms holding her close once again, just the way he'd once done every night.

Hermione lost all track of time and her surroundings at the feel of Draco drinking her blood again, and she felt weak as she feebly pushed against something that brushed against her mouth insistently. Her eyelids felt heavy, and she couldn't stand on her own.

"You need to drink, love" his soft husky voice murmured, his lips tickling the shell of her ear as he spoke to her. Vaguely, Hermoine was aware that he'd probably taken too much and so needed to feed her some of his own blood so that she would survive. She tried not to think about it as she did what she was told, opening her mouth and letting him hold his bleeding wrist against her lips, slowly gulping down the heady fluid.

His blood revitalised her much quicker than it had the first time he'd bitten her, and Hermione found herself wondering if that was because he'd taken less from her, or because her body was more accustomed to the way Vampire blood wreaked havoc with her system, repairing any damage and giving her more energy than she knew what to do with. When she could stand on her own without his assistance, Hermione pulled his wrist away from herself, watching the way the pair of puncture wounds sealed themselves before her eyes, leaving nothing but a faint pink smear of blood on the inside of his wrist.

"You shouldn't have let me do that" he whispered, his body still pressed up against hers.

"Why not?" Hermione asked him.

"Because the more frequently we drink from any one person, the more we begin to exclusively crave only their blood. It's the reason so many are turned in the first place. And your blood in particular is impossibly sweet. I shouldn't have fed from you again." He explained, and Hermione noticed that he seemed to have inclination to let go of her and move away.

"You've not really answered me about the program" Hermione reminded him, knowing that she needed to be on her way, else she might do something else foolish like kissing him when she had a husband at home who was not the man currently holding her so possessively.

"I'll speak to my contacts" he replied "Most will be intrigued by the idea. Some will be relieved, but you should warn the Ministry that while the majority will probably be grateful for this idea, there will still be a few covens who will prefer to do things the old fashioned way."

"I'll make sure they're aware." Hermione whispered, reluctantly stepping out of his embrace in spite of the way his arms tightened momentarily around her as though he meant to protest her desertion. "I should go."

He nodded and Hermione noticed the way he looked away from her, but not before she saw regret flashing on his face and in his eyes.

"I'll write to you when everything with the program is more concrete and ready to go" Hermione said formally, unable to keep from moving her hand up to brush her fingers over the pair of tiny wounds on her throat.

Draco didn't say anything to her, and so Hermione made her way for the door, lighting her wand to see as she began to descend the stairs.

"Hermione?" she heard Draco ask just as she reached the first floor and made for the door.

She turned back to look at him. It was far more painful to leave him this way than she'd expected, and all over again, Hermione felt her heart fracture inside her chest to know that they could never be together. She raised her eyebrows at him, not trusting herself to speak without her voice cracking and without scolding him for the decision he had made so many years ago.

"Whatever happened to…?" he trailed off, his crimson eyes fixed on her face, his own expression tortured. Hermione knew what he was asking her about. The reason he'd left the house that night so long ago. He wanted to know what had become of the child she'd been carrying the night he'd become a vampire.

His child.

Hermione bit her lip in a moment of indecision, wondering what she should tell him. It had been a miracle that Ron had asked her to marry him even though he knew she was carrying Draco's child, and they had agreed to raise the child as theirs. Hermione wondered what she should tell him. Should she lie and tell him she'd lost the baby, protecting her daughter from the confusion and heartache of knowing that Ron wasn't actually her father, but that instead her father was Draco Malfoy, a vampire? Should she risk upsetting Ron were he to know that she'd seen Draco today and had allowed him to drink her blood again? Already the wound on her throat was fading and healing, turning back into a scar. She knew that if she wished it, Hermione could keep her meeting with Draco from her husband.

Or should she tell Draco the truth? That he was a father. That he had a daughter named Vera.

"She's almost five" Hermione whispered to him, watching the way his eyes lit up and the way his expression simultaneously fell.

"I have a daughter?" he breathed, suddenly across the room and in front of her, his hands circling her biceps gently as he peered down into her face.

"Her name is Vera" Hermione told him, nodding even as the tears filled her eyes. As a vampire, he was incapable of crying, but from his expression she knew that were he still able, he too would be unable to hold the tears back.

"Does she know about me?" he asked her, his voice thick with agony.

"No. She thinks Ron is her father." Hermione told him sadly "I wanted to tell you… but you never responded to my letters and I didn't want to drop that on you via a letter. I couldn't find you to tell you, either."

He stared at her with such sadness and regret in his gaze for such a long time, that Hermione was sure he'd gone into shock.

"I wish I'd never taken that walk" he whispered brokenly, staring into her eyes looking agonised and wracked with guilt. "I wish I'd stayed there in that bed with you, rather than panicking over the idea of you being pregnant. I wish I'd never become a vampire."

Hermione stepped into him, wrapping her arms around his narrow waist and burying her head against his hard chest, clutching at him as the sobs overtook her.