Warning: Rated M for explicit language, violence, and sexual content. This story is Canon Divergent. For further disclaimers and warnings, make sure to read my profile. [Updated Jan 2017.]
A/N: Written for #SpookyScaryDulceWeen 2015.
Brilliant but broken.
His vision was a bit blurry, but that was the first thing he thought of when he opened his eyes and saw Granger—Hermione, he mentally corrected himself just as he'd done the past several years—hovering over him.
It didn't matter that she'd eventually shaken his hand and told him to call her by her given name, long after their general animosity had given to bland tolerance; it didn't matter that his heart strangely thumped in his chest the first time she'd called him Draco—especially since she'd been bellowing it down the hall after finding out that he'd rearranged her personal potions lab, ridiculous mess that it was; it didn't even matter that he panted her first name in her ear the first time, and every time since then, that he came inside of her, earning a breathy "Draco, yes" from her in return.
She would always be Granger first.
His beautiful, brilliant, broken Granger.
The war had been unkind to everyone, but especially to Hermione Granger.
A year on the run with Potter and Weasley left her starved and scarred. Chased by Death Eaters and Snatchers, attacked by snake-filled dead people, tortured by his crazed relatives, and then there was that thing with the dragon. Despite all other horrors she'd faced, she mumbled in her sleep about that damn dragon and her irrational fear of flying the most.
Well, the dragon, and her dead friends.
Potter and The Dark Lord destroyed one another. The two giants, two powerful beasts, two hydras that beheaded one another in battle. In the wake of their deaths, instead of two more heads growing back to take up the fight, everyone pretty much just lost the ones they already had.
With no purpose, no driving force, the already half-crazy Death Eaters became ruthlessly violent. What, after all, did they have left to lose? Order members scattered, grief-stricken and panicked, they struggled to pull ranks. Killing Curses were abandoned in favour of whatever would cause the most pain and make the biggest mess. Crucios turned away and were replaced by well aimed Diffindos.
Crucios and Avadas didn't make people bleed, after all.
Hogwarts professors were taken down first, at the front line doing their best to protect the remaining students in the castle. When they'd been slaughtered—because there was no better word for it—the Order of the Phoenix charged. Three Weasleys were captured and held hostage for four days in the makeshift camp the Death Eaters constructed inside the Forbidden Forest after driving the centaurs out.
Draco had sat with his parents inside the castle, wandless, nearly useless but offering what input and advice they could. The Dark Lord was dead and Malfoys would not be afraid of their lessers, not amongst Order members or Death Eaters.
"What do they want in exchange?" Kingsley Shacklebolt had asked.
"Nothing," Lucius replied. "They want nothing but to give you pain."
"That doesn't make sense," Molly Weasley said on the end of a sob, terrified for two sons and her husband who were being held captive. "If that were the case, why are they prolonging it?"
"Because false hope hurts more," Draco had whispered.
Arthur, Percy, and Ronald Weasley were poetically executed at dawn.
Being the last of her three friends finally snapped something in Granger's brain, and she'd rushed forward, abandoning shelter and reason, crying out for vengeance as she single-handedly ran to face an onslaught of Death Eaters who had barely sated their blood lust with three deaths. A Muggle-born witch would have been the perfect end to their morning.
In what would be the first purposeful and obvious brave action of his during the damned war, without thinking, Draco had chased after her, jumping on her from behind and tackling her to the ground, pinning her wand arm beneath her. She screamed and hollered and eventually just cried as he held her there, telling her that letting herself be killed was no way to honour her friends.
Reinforcements came from Hogsmeade, and when the centaurs had rallied after nursing their wounds, the Death Eaters were driven from Hogwarts grounds, scattering to the wind. Granger swore she'd never forgive him for what he'd done, but George and Ginny Weasley had taken Draco into the fold almost immediately, thanking him for saving their friend when they'd all already lost too much.
It had taken six months for Granger to even speak to him. She tried to help the cause, their fight, at first, but when brushed off by older members of the Order, her frustration mixed with grief got the better of her, and she'd storm away, locking herself in a room to cry and hex things. It was obvious she'd stopped sleeping at some point, at least, on purpose. The only person who looked worse than Granger was Molly Weasley, who still had four children to rally to her side, and what's more, she actually let them.
Six months after the fall of Harry Potter and the first thing Hermione Granger had said to Draco was, "Fuck you," after he'd asked if she wanted breakfast.
She'd fallen asleep at the dinner table later that night, and no one noticed.
"At least she's resting," Ginny had said in defeat.
Draco rolled his eyes and stood up, storming past the remaining mixture of Order members, Hogwarts staff, citizens, and students, and scooped Granger into his arms. Either they'd believed he'd had a true change of heart, or couldn't find the energy to worry over one witch, because no one stopped him as he carried her down to the dungeons—since the portrait in front of the Gryffindor common room was always too drunk to do her job properly, password or not—and set Granger down in his bed inside the Slytherin dorms, taking the one next to it for himself. It wasn't as if Crabbe needed it anymore, after all.
He'd woken hours later to find her snuggled in against his side, her hands gripping his robes tight enough that her fingers were paler than his own. When he tried to pull away from her, she'd mumbled, "Warm" and "Alive" repeatedly until he relented and relaxed, allowing the Muggle-born to cuddle all she liked. As flighty and rage-fuelled and broken as she was, Granger still managed to bathe, so she did smell quite nice.
She felt nice, too, he soon noticed.
Few words were ever spoken between them, even when she'd straddled his waist and sank down on his length, her eyes searching him for something. Life, he later figured out. She was looking for—desperate for—life and anything to remind herself of it and what she was fighting for.
"Warm," she'd said as she rocked above him.
"That's one adjective I was thinking of," he'd managed to say while doing his best to think of any and everything that would help hold off his own orgasm. She was half-crazed and a bit too clingy for his taste, but he still didn't want to embarrass himself in front of her.
A year later, they'd lost half of the Order, a third of Dumbledore's Army, and two more Weasleys. Separated from other factions of their side, Neville Longbottom—and fuck if Draco knew how—had become the leader of theirs.
"Take care of Hermione, and we won't have problems, Malfoy," he'd said to him.
Offended, Draco sneered back. "Is that all I'm good for to you people? Babysitting?"
"No, but for some fucking reason, you're the only one who can keep her . . . sane. And that means safe."
Draco rolled his eyes. Granger was no longer sane; that much was obvious. She spoke to less than a handful of people and had been known to throw a Crucio at anyone that managed to sneak up on her. Paranoid and often hallucinating, Draco tried to shove books at her to keep her occupied. Thankfully, she still read. Unfortunately, she read too fast and eventually he had to resort to giving her books on Dark magic just to keep her from pulling her hair out.
Instead, at the height of her climaxes, she pulled out his.
Chunks of it too.
"Shut up," Draco hissed at a snickering Ginny Weasley, who caught sight of the patch of hair on the back of his head that refused to grow back in the right direction. "Just shut the fuck up."
What was left of the Death Eaters were holed up in the old Nott Manor. Theo, thankfully having defected early on, had a way in through an old underground wine cellar that had multiple entrances but was cut off from the main house other than a small tunnel he knew about when he'd followed one of his house-elves when he was younger.
For the first time since it all began, Draco and Hermione were allowed to go. They needed every wand they could to finally finish it.
"If you die . . . I won't take it well, and I'll be very cross," Granger had said to him as they prepared for battle.
Wait . . . Draco blinked . . . battle. What had happened in battle?
Hermione, still blurry, hovered over him smiling sweetly, though her left eye was twitching a bit and her hair was giving off the brightest sparks he'd ever seen, even through his currently terrible vision.
He opened his mouth to speak, to ask her what had happened, but she held a finger to his lips that tasted like blood. "You won't be able to say anything . . . much . . . maybe ever . . . I'm sure you'll be a prat about that for a while. But you're . . . you're all together now and . . . war is over, and the Order I'm sure will reassemble society. They'll be fine without us," she nodded her head repeatedly.
His eyes widened.
"I mean . . . it's not exactly Dark magic, you know. But they won't see it that way. Preservation Charms, mostly. That, and a lot of Muggle science. Science fiction. Not fiction anymore," she said, rambling, her fingers shaking as though they'd forgotten what they were supposed to be doing while she spoke.
"I was very cross with you, you know," she told him. "I said don't die, and what do you do? Bloody prat. Always have to . . . as though you needed to prove something. Diffindo. I don't like that curse. They cut up Ron like that and I swore I'd never . . . but you're all back. Just fine. Still handsome, still mine," she cooed and ran her fingers through his hair.
The loud sound of thunder had her jumping against him, startled. Instinctively, he reached a hand up—heavier than normal—and tried to wrap his arm around her. Something itched. His wrist itched and his elbow; the itching spread down across one leg and up the inside of his left hip. When he swallowed, his throat burned. With his left hand, Draco touched his neck and his eyes widened as he felt . . . Wire? Thread?
"Don't scratch the stitches," she whispered as she pressed her nose against his bare chest.
Lightning crashed outside.
Draco began to panic.
What had she done to him?
"I told you not to die," she said softly, a tone of pure affection. "I didn't take it very well."
Oh no, he thought. Did he . . . he remembered facing off against a masked Death Eater, he'd send several stunners before he started throwing Unforgivables at his enemy in black. And then he'd hesitated at the sound of a scream in the distance. Hesitated just long enough that he'd been disarmed and then pain and blood and blackness.
"It's okay," Granger—Hermione—said as she kissed his skin and danced her fingers over the itching parts of his arm, running her nose and lips against the wires that ran across his throat. "You're alive, now. You're alive."
[Sequel "Undead" is now available]