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Word Count: 7998 (of parts 1&2)
Summary: A/U Voldemort wins. When things take a horrifying turn for the worse at the final battle, Hermione must go under cover as a Muggle in order to survive. She cannot escape notice forever, especially when Praetor Malfoy has troubles of his own that prompt him to seek out the mysterious Muggle Healer, Piper Daniels.
Warnings: Talk of torture, sexual scenes
A/N: I really loved the prompt I was given by my Dramione Duets partner! It definitely got the creative juices flowing. I tried to incorporate as many of the kinks as I could for this fic and it was easy to avoid the squicks as they were almost identical to mine. I did struggle with the word count as the plot just wouldn't stop. I hope you like the story! This is a complete OS I am not considering expanding atm, as I have another dark, Volde win fic I will likely make a multi chapter. Art for this fic can be found on my photobucket listed on my profile. A huge thanks to LeanaM for the incredible beta. Thanks to Ningloreth for hosting the comp and the pretty banner!
Dodging past wayward spells and narrowly avoiding a non-sentient gargoyle that plunged straight in his path, Draco navigated through the crumbling castle.
He moved quickly through the devastation. If he was found away from formation, the Dark Lord's wrath would be terrible. But he had lost track of her, somewhere between the time when his mother had pronounced Potter dead, and the last of the school made one final and foolish attempt to challenge the Dark Lord and his forces.
She'd been there of course, Granger. Front and center as always. Gripping her wand tightly as she stared down the enemy. Tears had dried on her filthy cheeks and Draco knew she had heard the news, yet still, she fought.
Draco did not have time to seek her out as he duelled for his life. Former teachers. Former classmates. They all blurred together. He wanted to yell at them, shake some sense into them, Apparate, get out of here! The wards of the school had long since been brought down and it wasn't as if anything were stopping them.
In the midst of the confusion, Draco decided to look for her one last time. It wasn't long before he found her. The flashes of light from a duel gave her away. She was fighting Yaxley and they were largely alone in the First Floor corridor. He ran up to her just as she landed a fatal cutting hex on the older Death Eater.
Hearing his footsteps, she whirled on him, wand raised. "Malfoy," she spat. "Here to try and finish me off, Ferret?"
"Granger," he said, putting his hands up in surrender. "I'm not here to hurt you, I can help you escape."
She scoffed and her eyes hardened. "Help me? Fat chance."
"I'm serious, Granger. Whatever our differences, there's no point in fighting. Potter is gone and you've lost. You'll be imprisoned, likely enslaved. You don't know what they'll do to you if you get captured." He slowly withdrew an object from his pocket, holding it up for her to see. "This is an international portkey. It will take you to France. It won't be safe there forever, but it's safer than Britain. Just take it."
"You expect me to believe you actually care what happens to me?"
Draco stayed silent. The truth was, he wasn't quite sure why he wanted to help her. There was just something about imagining the Gryffindor princess in the Dark Lord's clutches that made his stomach twist. She was an insufferable know-it-all, constantly besting him at school, a Mudblood with no right to practice magic... but now, in the midst of all the death and destruction, victory did not feel sweet. The finality and the seriousness of what Lord Voldemort's triumph meant caused him to fear the future he had once ignorantly looked forward to.
"Exactly," she said, mistaking his silence for insincerity. "How do I know that portkey won't transport me to my own personal cell in Malfoy Manor?"
"Please, Granger. Trust me, just this once."
She eyed him shrewdly, but her mind was made up. "I don't think I will, Malfoy." With that, she'd thrown a stunning hex at him and spun around, fleeing down the corridor without verifying if it landed. Of course he deflected the curse but he knew it was useless to go after her.
He saw a flash of denim and a pink Muggle hoodie in the rubble before the whole courtyard was set ablaze. It signified the end of his childhood and the beginning of a new, dark era. Voldemort's reign had begun and there was no one left to oppose him.
Hermione gathered her cloak in both hands as she ran into the forest, wincing as she heard the dried leaves crunch under her feet. It would take too much effort to cast a wandless disillusionment charm. Besides, it was still early enough that her district was not yet crawling with patrols.
Wessex security had gone lax in recent years. Perhaps because there hadn't been any trouble from its citizens. With the destruction of the last cell phone tower, Muggles didn't have a way to communicate with each other any longer. It was impossible to organize forces against their pure-blood oppressors. The last time a Muggle-born had been carted off to Azkaban was years ago. The Order had been decimated, the remaining resistance snuffed out. Hermione was sure she was the last free Muggle-Born-utterly alone.
She glanced over her shoulder to check for Dementors who often liked to linger at the edge of the forest. She hadn't seen one in some time, but she always checked regardless. She supposed this was one of the safer Districts to have fled to. The Muggle world was the first place she'd come to hide after faking her death at the Battle of Hogwarts. It hadn't been long before the Death Eaters had taken over Muggle Britain, placing Muggles in their rightful place.
Ten years later, and the immortal Lord Voldemort ruled the world.
They had been lucky in Wessex. Despite the famine spreading wildly over Britain, there were still an abundance of magical herbs and potions ingredients in the woods, if one knew where to look. There were only so many potions she could brew undetected with her pilfered supplies and without a wand, mostly antidotes and healing potions, but - luckily - also the important Drought Solution.
Drought Solution was their saving grace; the only way to make the soil, corrupted by dark magic, fertile for planting. So despite the famine, there was food in abundance in Wessex. The co-op she'd organized was able to trade with neighboring districts: they offered carrots, tomatoes, and their staple—potatoes, as well as her healing tonics and traded it for the grain and dairy they were lacking.
She moved stealthily through the forest, clutching her cloak so as not to let it catch on the bushes, eyes darting around as she tried to spot the herbs she needed. She knelt down excitedly to pluck some mistletoe berries she could use for Blood-Replenishing potion. Last week she'd been lucky enough to discover dittany growing under a cluster of bushes and it had been ages since she'd been able to brew Essence of Dittany.
The wood was eerily quiet at this time of the morning, still dark, but not for long. So when she heard the telltale howl of a wolf, goose pimples rose on her flesh as her heart clenched violently in her chest. Merlin, get a grip Hermione, she chided herself. It's probably just a Muggle animal. Still, her adrenaline was rushing and she figured she'd better finish up and get back to her quarters.
Hastily getting up, she scouted out the giant birch tree she used as reference to locate the poppy flowers. She made her way to it and sat on the ground, withdrawing a paring blade to slice off the thorns of the poppy. Poppy thorns were useful in making burn-healing paste, which was in high demand thanks to Nott and his ever-persistent need to torture Muggles.
Bloody Malfoy, letting his Death Eaters run around and terrorize the poor Muggles! She had to admit that there were very few fatalities in this district compared to what she'd heard of others, but still, she deplored the way witches and wizards took to tormenting their Muggle slaves.
In the beginning she'd been surprised that Muggles were not simply eradicated, but Voldemort got a sick sense of pleasure by forcing the offspring of those he thought had oppressed him into slave labor. Or maybe it was the fact that house elves could not carry out all the duties of serving and Muggles did have their uses, whether farming out in the fields, or making clothes the Muggle way in factories, or even warming some pure-blood's bed. That had been a practice frowned upon in the beginning, but it seemed commonplace now.
Hermione paused her diligent work to run her fingers across the unfamiliar lines of her face. Her jaw was angular and her face was thin. She had transfigured it that way, plain and indistinguishable. Her once furiously curly hair was now straight and stringy. After ten years, she wondered if she'd even recognize herself. Regardless, the best course was to keep her head down in the presence of Pure-bloods.
She fingered the Rune carved into her neck and behind her ear, hidden in a cluster of blue butterflies looking reminiscent of a Muggle tattoo. The Rune, Cheilt Fein, was her safety. A way to stay hidden and keep her identity secret. She was no longer Hermione Granger, Order leader, but Piper Daniels, Muggle Healer, virtually unrecognizable by those witches and wizards that she had once known from the Wizarding world, even attended school with.
She didn't hear anything, not even a leaf crunching or a twig snapping, but she sensed when she was no longer alone. She got up carefully from her crouched position, with nothing but the large birch clouding her view. She forced her breathing steady, clutching her paring knife by her side and attempting to conceal the potions ingredients in her cloak pockets.
The temperature seemed to have dropped a few degrees and her breathing hitched when she felt hot breath on her neck.
Gripping the small blade so hard it cut into her fingers, she gulped audibly before finally working up the nerve to spin around and face her attacker.
Fear gripped her as she had to tip her head back, way back, to take in the form of a werewolf, not dissimilar to Lupin's form she had faced in Third Year. She was seized with panic when she met his yellow eyes, still startlingly human.
Acting on instinct, she plunged the blade into the beast's fur and took off running, cringing when she heard the howl that came out of its short snout. She ran until she reached a small clearing, unsure where she was. Glancing up at the sky she saw stars disappearing and realized the forest was getting lighter. She ran on into the woods towards the direction she thought the barracks were in. She couldn't shake the feeling that beast was stalking after her and she looked around wildly.
She stumbled over an upturned root and she fell face first, hard onto the forest floor. She made a valiant effort to pull herself up from her vulnerable position, only to be flung into the nearest tree, claws digging into her shoulder.
She slumped against the tree, defeated. The beast stalked towards her, looking brutally unhinged. She spotted the blade still protruding out of its side. Her shoulder burned painfully and her ankle was badly sprained if not broken.
So this was how she would die, of all the ways it could have happened, she was going to be taken out by a bloody werewolf.
She looked past the raging beast, to the sun cresting the wooded hill. My last sunrise.
Suddenly she saw the creature wrench violently and she gasped when the werewolf in front of her morphed into its human form.
Yes, of course! How could I be so stupid? It only retains werewolf form for the night. Edging out of the way of the tormented beast, she half scooted, half crawled from its line of vision. She kept her eyes glued on the creature while she got shakily to her feet. She meant to make her escape but she was frozen by the sight before her.
The tufts of fur gave way to skin that seemed smooth in some areas but was riddled with scars in others. The ears receded into the head, a head that now boasted platinum blond hair, looking strangely silver in the dusky morning light.
Hermione let out an involuntary screech as she recognized the distracting, naked man in front of her who made no move to cover himself. "Praetor Malfoy," she said, ducking her head as her cheeks flushed. "Oh God, I'm so sorry! I didn't know…" She hadn't been this close to him in years, not since the Battle of Hogwarts. And now he was panting, staring at her angrily, likely about to kill her, whether he recognized her or not.
"What are you still doing here? Do you not have any sense of preservation? The forest is forbidden, get out of here, stupid girl."
Her brain was racing as she scrambled to her feet. What? He's letting me leave? Even when I now know he's a werewolf?
Not needing to be told twice, she scrambled hastily away, cursing herself silently as she realized she'd lost her paring knife.
Gathering her wits, she took off running for her quarters without looking back. She half expected him to follow, but he never did.
"Piper," Lucy snapped, not for the first time. "Have you been listening to a thing I've said?"
Hermione mentally shook herself. Her ankle was still throbbing painfully and reminded her constantly of the events that happened early in the morning. She still could not fathom why he had let her leave.
"Sorry," she said quickly. "I'm just tired. Went on a foraging mission this morning."
"Will you be making more tonics soon? Lord knows we need them. Praetor has been entertaining that witch from Aberdeen District and you do know how she favours that flaming curse."
"Yes, it will only take me a week or so to brew. Now what were you saying, Lucy?"
"The shipment for Billingham. General Nott is coordinating this one so it will be more difficult to make our side trade."
Hermione sighed, running an exasperated hand through her straight hair. "Can't we wait another week until General Goyle has command of it?"
"I don't think so." Lucy shook her head firmly. "We've already stalled once, and we have the extra vegetables under the Ministry crates. Sam packed them just this morning."
"We'll have to do it like normal, then. We'll just have to make sure it goes without a hitch. We've done this hundreds of times before. Nott may be sharper than Goyle but he's too pompous to be suspicious."
Lucy nodded. "Hopefully. I suppose we'll cross our fingers."
"I suppose so."
Hermione couldn't sleep that night.
It was already midnight and she'd need to get up in three hours, yet sleep evaded her. She had checked and rechecked the disillusioned-trick-room in their quarters where they grew their secret vegetables, away from the Ministry's crops. All the wards were in place and safeguarded. She had left out the radishes and potatoes so that Sam and his crew could deliver them under the cover of night to the hungry citizens of Wessex.
It had troubled Hermione the first few months she'd been here; how little the Ministry decided to give them of the food they grew. The District officials kept them nearly starved, but it hadn't taken her long to find a way around it and develop the co-op. The Muggles she worked with, she trusted fully, and their group worked together like a well-oiled machine.
Yet still, her mind did not shut off as she wished it would when she was finally able to get a few moments alone.
When the knock came on her door, she bolted up immediately. Fear clawed up her mind as she wondered whether or not something had happened to Sam. She went to the door and opened it with shaky fingers.
Her breath caught in her chest as she saw the man towering in the doorway of her one room flat.
Malfoy! So he had come to kill her. He stood in the doorway looking ever the debonair Pure-blood and very much like his father once did, silver snake head cane and all.
"Praetor," she said, forcing her breath to steady. "Do you need help with something?"
He walked in gracefully, taking an imperious look around her small quarters. She edged tentatively after him. Whatever happened, she hoped he would not discover the trick room. She had worked painstakingly for months to build it, a task that had seemed impossible without a wand. It was not nearly as large as Grimmauld Place had been, but similar in that it was hidden between two flats, with magically altered ceilings that mimicked sunlight during the day. They had packed it with soil and infused the ground with Drought solution so that they had crops all year round. Aside from herself, only Lucy and Sam knew how to enter it.
"I can smell your fear," Malfoy said, dangerously low as his sharp eyes darted around her flat. "I know your secret...I could smell it."
Hermione was sure her heart had stopped beating. Sweat culminated on her brow and she stood frozen in her spot.
He turned to face her, seeming to see right through her. "I smell it now." Hermione sputtered as she tried to say something… anything remotely intelligent. Get a grip Hermione! "No need to deny it. You're a Mudblood."
Relief and fear came over her, warring with each other. Her identity was still safe, but he knew she was not just a Muggle. Her attention was pulled by the clattering of silver hitting the counter of her makeshift kitchen. Her eyes widened as she identified the paring knife. He'd returned it. Did he mean to kill her with it? That would take a while…
"I have a proposition for you, would you like to hear it?"
Not trusting herself to speak, she gave a slight nod.
"You know of my...affliction." Malfoy looked strangely haunted for a moment, before seeming to shake himself and face her once more. "I'm in need of a Potioneer. I know you're the resident Muggle Healer, and I'm aware of the illicit trade you have been facilitating on the black market."
He waved a hand dismissively. "I've known for years. Do you think I care? I don't mind if my citizens are so capable they not only fill the Ministry quota but additionally produce extra crops for themselves. I know you tend to the sick—this is not my concern—this Muggle business. But now I know you have an additional secret. And that I do care about."
"I don't even have sufficient means, or materials to brew potions, sir. I make merely pastes or antidotes. Simple things that don't require very much."
"If you agree to be my Potioneer, I will see to it you have the means you require."
"You won't turn me in, have the Dementors take me to Azkaban for being a Mudblood?"
"Everyone has their uses, Miss Daniels. I would be remiss to let such an opportunity slip away. Tell me, do you know how to brew Wolfsbane?"
"I, er hypothetically. I never attended school, sir."
"I was tutored privately. I was supposed to start the year after the Quidditch World Cup," she lied. She supposed she could pull off twenty-four instead of twenty-eight.
"The year Hogwarts hosted The Triwizard Tournament. Yes, I suppose those were trying times. But they didn't even teach how to brew Wolfsbane at school. If they did, I would know how. Many texts were lost as well as the knowledge, during the war. I have many volumes in my library but they are all old texts. Wolfsbane is relatively new."
"What makes you think I can brew it?"
"It takes some talent to conduct and conceal the illicit business I'm sure you're responsible for. If there's any chance of someone having the knowledge, my galleons would be on you."
"Monkshood is rare, can you come by it? I've never brewed the potion before but I think I could." He nodded. "If I help you, what's in it for me?"
"Protection. Protection for those you care about and more importantly for yourself. I will make sure my Generals don't give you trouble. You may even stay at the Manor. My servants' quarters are much more comfortable than this hovel here."
"No!" Hermione wanted to kick herself at her outburst. For a moment, his eyes darkened with displeasure and her world shifted as she thought she sensed a flash of recognition pass through his gaze. The moment was over so quickly, she had to wonder if it had even happened. "I mean… this is my home. I'm comfortable here, if it's all the same to you." The last thing she wished to do was find herself living in Malfoy Manor.
"It may work for now. I'll have to change your job. Instead of being a farmhand you will be a servant at the Manor—duties undisclosed. You will have to travel by portkey."
She pressed her lips together, a pensive look on her face. "Alright." Really, what choice did she have?
The Potions Chamber had a pleasant ambiance to it and Hermione found herself oddly right at home.
Malfoy handed her a maple wood wand. "You can use this spare wand only when you are in the chamber."
Hermione grinned sardonically. "This is highly illegal."
"Then I suppose it's in both of our best interests for you to exercise caution."
She bit back a cheeky retort and merely nodded.
"Over there on that shelf," Malfoy gestured to the wall behind her. "You can find ingredients and there are also some in that cabinet over there."
"Did you get the Aconite?" she asked, remembering the one time she had helped Tonks brew the potion for Professor Lupin.
"Yes, that much I knew. It's already on laid out on the table by the cauldron."
She walked over to the table, examining the cauldron. "Copper won't do. It has to be pewter. And once I've added the honeywater, it will need to be stirred under the moonlight."
"You sound like you've done this before."
"My tutor Rufus had a book. Noted Potioneers of the Twentieth Century. Damocles was one of the Potioneers featured."
"Ah. How fortunate of your parents to allow you to be tutored. Where are they now?"
"Dead, sir," she said flatly.
He pursed his lips and her attention was momentarily drawn to them. When had her childhood tormentor grown to be so handsome? Gone was the boy that had been forced to grow up too quickly. This was a man, and donning his father's ring with the Malfoy coat of arms and carrying the snake-head encrusted cane, he reminded Hermione very much of a young, short-haired Lucius.
"I suppose we're both orphans then," he mused.
Her eyes widened slightly at the admission. She hadn't known he'd lost his parents. Against her better judgement, she opened her mouth to speak. "Did your parents not survive the Battle of Hogwarts?"
"No, they survived it. They were sent on a mission to Bulgaria and didn't come home. I was in Romania."
She felt a flicker of pity for him and looked away quickly. She noticed a star chart laying on the table and absently grabbed a quill to fill in a few spaces.
"You know where to put the answers? Even though you're not gazing at the stars?" He seemed mildly amused.
"Well, you already have Thebe here so this is obviously where Europa goes."
He chuckled. "You know, you remind me of someone I once knew."
She gulped down the dread that welled up after his statement "Oh? A friend?"
She was not surprised by his words but she was surprised by the way he had delivered them—almost with a tone of sadness.