Welcome & Happy Halloween (Blessed Samhain). Hope you enjoy this biddy-little fic.

It's not as spooky/creepy as my usual fare, I apologize for that. I think I was trying to strike a balance between spooky & fluffy (and I have no idea if I succeeded, or not XD).

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, or any affiliated characters.


Hermione started awake, bolting upright in bed and clutching her covers to her chest. Swallowing hard, she turned her head in tiny, trembling increments. Her heart beat in her ears, and her breath shuddered as it escaped her lips.

Chestnut eyes scanning her bedroom—still dark in these early-morning hours—the tense set of her shoulders eased and her pulse slowed. Nothing.

Like always.

Sighing, she shook her head and lay back. Hermione stared up at the plain, though dimly lit, ceiling above her. She blinked, and swallowed back a scream to find it looming over her.

The alarm clock sounded and Hermione's eyes snapped open.

Letting out a shivering breath, she looked down at herself. In the rays of muted sunlight washing across the room from gauzy-curtained windows, she could see her hands clutching the covers to her chest, just as in her nightmare.

The room was not terrifying and shadowed. There was no demon standing beside her bed, swathed in rich black attire and smiling at her with lips wet and dripping crimson.

With that face that so reminded her of Draco.

Crookshanks was curled up at the foot of her bed, which was another comfort. Her great ginger beast of a cat was never present when her gaze searched the room in her nightmares, so that he was here—and snoozing peacefully—had to mean she was most certainly awake.

Groaning, she sat up and slapped an exhausted hand over the alarm clock. She couldn't go on like this. For weeks now she'd been sleeping, but not resting and everything—eating, brushing her teeth, never mind work—had become such a chore.

The only time she felt revitalized was when she was with Draco.

She pushed the covers away and stood, unsurprised when her stirring woke the cat. He blinked unhappy red-brown eyes at her.

"Don't look at me like that! I've got enough to deal with, thank you very much," she said, frowning.

Crookshanks only blinked at her once more, appearing no less disgruntled than a second ago.

"Fine." She stomped a heel, only vaguely wondering why on earth she was arguing with her cat—again. "I'll tell Draco about the nightmares."

As though he understood, the sleepy feline gave a distinct sniff before closing his eyes and setting his head on his curled front paws.

Watching him for a moment longer, she finally shook her head and began grabbing up her bath items from her bureau.

Leaning her head against the smooth, cool tiles as she stood in the shower, she let the water run over her. She knew exactly what these dreams were. Her own stupid fears about committing to Draco had morphed into something horrid—pretty on the surface, but edged with a definitive dread that sent her heart hammering against her ribcage hard enough to shatter her bones.

She kept putting off meeting his father. She refused dinner dates at his Manor house. Honestly, what girl in her right mind did that?

Yes, I'll just ignore that on top of being gorgeous and brilliant, my boyfriend is also filthy stinking rich, thank you!

Hermione laughed at herself. Just as quickly, that laughter died on her lips. A chill tore through her, even beneath the spray of hot water as she thought over these last few weeks, over all the feelings which had accompanied the terrible dreams.

As soon as night fell, she couldn't escape the sensation creeping along her skin that she was being watched. When she stood at the sink to wash her dishes, when she stood in front of her wardrobe deciding what to wear for work the following day, she felt the presence of someone standing behind her.

So real, so tangible . . . so breathing that she swore when she looked over her shoulder, she would find someone standing there. Yet, every time she forced herself to look, nothing was there.

Just as when she woke from the nightmares.

Sometimes she felt pressure against her skin . . . as though someone was stroking the bare skin of her arm, or placing a gentle palm against the small of her back.

Like now . . . as there seemed the tapping and touching of fingertips mingled with the splattering of water droplets down her skin.

"Just your own stupid imagination, Hermione, get a grip," she muttered as she turned off the faucet.

Snatching the towel from over the rail, she wrapped it around herself and stepped from the tub. While she brushed her teeth, she watched her own reflection in the mirror as the glass gradually became less foggy.

Sighing, she nodded to herself. "I will talk to Draco about them."

Her mind was in overdrive from the lack of restful sleep, that was all. Sharing this with him had to work. Telling him her fears, hearing her own voice speak about it had to help.

His dark brows climbed higher and higher up his forehead as she spoke, so that by the time she said the last word, they had all but disappeared beneath the pale-blond fringe of his bangs. She had fussed and fidgeted and darted her gaze about skittishly the entire time . . . .

The Hermione Granger he'd come to know did not fuss, or fidget, or watch the room as she spoke as though she expected some unseen thing to jump out at her from a corner at any moment. Her unusual behavior bothered him. Of course, letting another person's discomforts bother him was still a new experience for Draco, but he rather liked it.

And he liked her. He didn't enjoy seeing her upset this way.

Shoulders drooping, he laced his finger through hers. Hermione couldn't help a giggle as he pulled her from the arm of the sofa where she was perched to land in his lap.

She curled up against him and tucked her head beneath his chin. "I'm sorry. I know this all sounds completely and totally ridiculous."

"No, no, not at all," he said, dropping a kiss against the top of her golden-brown hair. "With everything you've told me about your life? After your parents' divorce and that idiot Weasle-bee, it's no surprise you're a little gun-shy about committing."

Wincing, she pressed her face against his throat and groaned. She hated thinking back on that idiot not showing up to his own bloody wedding. She was certain no one had ever felt more foolish in their life than she had as she stood at the altar waiting for him.

"Hey, hey." He shifted, moving her in his lap so he could meet her gaze. "I told you before, I'm happy with things as they are, okay?"

Hermione only stared back at him as she pursed her lips in reply.

Draco chuckled, nodding. "All right, yes. I would like more, but I'm willing to wait until you're comfortable with things being more serious between us."

She bit her lip, keeping back a mischievous grin as she held his gaze. "I'm sure the fact that we were already in bed by our third date helps."

"Well . . . ." Smirking, he glanced toward her bedroom door. "We can test if that's really a good enough reason for me to stick around waiting."

"Oh," she said with a laugh, even as she pouted. "Nice way to cheapen the moment. I open up to you about something that's really troubling me and—"

He cut her off with a kiss. His hand slipping around the back of her neck, he pulled her tighter against him as he traced her lips with the tip of his tongue.

She leaned back, just enough to look at him. "Okay, yes. To the bedroom!"

Hermione let out a delighted gasp as he scooped her up in his arms and stood, carrying her across the flat as though she weighed nothing at all.

"I wish you could stay," she said, lacing her fingers through his as she stood at the door with him.

He sank his teeth into his bottom lip as he looked her over. What a sight she made in nothing but her cream colored, scandalously-short dressing gown, with her wild hair all mussed and tumbling about her shoulders.

"Me, too." Draco leaned down, kissing her one final time. "But I have to go see my father about something. I'm sorry. Tomorrow?"

She nodded, reluctantly letting his fingers slip from hers as he opened the door and stepped into the corridor. "Wait!"

He snapped his head around to meet her gaze. She appeared startled by the sound of her own voice, how adorable.

"I—I want to meet him. Your father, I think . . . I think I'd like to meet him."

Draco smiled, understanding her expression now. She'd likely surprised herself with that notion. "Okay. I'll arrange it."

Smiling back, she nodded again as she leaned out into the corridor to kiss him once more and then closed and locked the door behind him.

For a few blissful, silent moments, she merely stood there staring at the door, her arms folded beneath her breasts. Letting out a sigh, she rolled her shoulders and let her head tip to one side a bit. She was actually happy.

Yes, that's what this feeling was.

The sensation of someone standing behind her crawled along her skin. Setting her head straight, she held in a shuddering breath. Ice churned in the pit of her stomach as a sudden chill danced up her spine.

Nothing there, Hermione. Just look. Just look! There's never anything there!

She turned her head, her heart slamming against her ribs at the sound that met her ears. That distinct rustle of fabric as something moved behind her.

"Father," Draco called the moment the gleaming double doors of Malfoy Manor had shut behind him. "Dammit, Father, I know you're here!"

He'd thought about Hermione's troubling episodes the entire way home. And he didn't like what he'd heard from her one little bit.

"I told you! I told you to stay away from Hermione Granger," he said, his tone acidic as he walked through the main floor. "She's mine!"

He poked his head through the parlor entrance and saw his father there. Saw him delicately blotting crimson from his lips with a black silk kerchief.

"Eating in the house again? Very nice. You know Aunt Bellatrix will . . . ." Draco's words died on his lips as he rounded the settee beside which his father knelt and saw the girl there.

With her scandalously short dressing gown, and her tumbling, golden-brown hair.

And, now, her drained skin white as a sheet.

Holding in a growl, Draco hurried to her side, nearly knocking Father out of his way. Checking her pulse, he turned his head sharply to look at the older Malfoy. "You were supposed to stay away from Granger! Dammit, Father! I really, really liked this one!"

Lucius nodded, still dabbing his lips as he shifted up to sit beside the dead girl. "Oh, I know."

Draco opened his mouth to rail at his father more, but Hermione shot up suddenly, a startled shriek tearing from her lips.

As the sound died and the girl turned her head frantically, looking about, Lucius lifted his sleeve, baring his wrist to his son.

Despite the comprehension dawning in Draco's expression as the young man's gaze wandered over the healing gash in his father's wrist, Lucius said with a tiny, albeit genuine smile, "That's why I made her for you."

Hermione's gaze locked on Draco. "Draco? Please, I—I don't understand what's happening."

Before he could answer, her attention shot to Lucius. The red stain he seemed to take too much joy in removing from his mouth slowly, the face that looked so much like Draco's.

"You're . . . ." She swallowed hard, ignoring the burning pain it caused in one side of her throat. "You're the . . . ." No, no. This man wasn't a demon.

He was a—

"Miss Granger, so pleased to formally meet you. I am Lucius Malfoy."

Hermione was distinctly aware of Draco moving to sit beside her as his father looked from her to Draco, and back, again. He laced his fingers through hers, bracing her for Father's next words.

"Welcome to the family."