A/N: Here is the conclusion of the story. I hope you like it. As far as the concerns about expanding this, I'm focusing on my other darker au that I'm already a few chapters in. I will start posting it next month. Between that and Shipwrecked, of which the latter is turning into a real beast of a story (don't let the name fool you-it's about so much more than being on a deserted island and I haven't even begun introducing all the plot themes), I really have to pick and choose what I expand! I think I left this at a good part, however. I hope you think so too!
Thanks to those that have reviewed, followed, and favorited! And thanks again to LeanaM for betaing and Ningloreth for putting on the Dramione-Duets comp in the first place, and looking this story over for me.
And thanks again to LeanaM for betaing and Ningloreth for putting on the Dramione-Duets comp in the first place, and looking this story over for me.Please let me know what you think! Thanks for reading C:
It really wasn't so bad working for Malfoy, especially when compared to the other options out there. Ellis, the Muggle overseer, had been a menace to work for in the Farming sector. And Hermione felt terribly for the many girls who had to work under the madam that ran the brothel—she was horrible.
She had worried once she'd taught him how to make Wolfsbane Potion, he would discard her, but he found a lot of uses for her. Not only was she tasked with the job of restocking his potions supply faster than he could deplete them, but she also took to filling out star charts, doing Arithmancy calculations, and running his schedule for him. She had made herself indispensable and was slowly coming to terms with working for Malfoy.
It was easier than ever to run the co-op with her newfound status, and she had to begrudgingly admit Malfoy was a pleasant employer.
The change was gradual, but she began to develop feelings of trust towards the Praetor.
"You never send for me anymore," whined Astoria as she sashayed over to where he was seated behind his desk. She perched daintily on his lap. "Don't you miss me?"
"You know I've been busy, pet." Draco leaned over the distracting form of Astoria in order to better see the Ministry's new edict. He resented the needy witch who was vying for his attention.
"You're always busy. Honestly, after the war I thought things were supposed to get better, but it's just work work work."
"It takes work to rebuild and to stay in power."
Astoria gave him a sly look as she picked up her legs to wrap around him. He sighed and his face tensed with displeasure. Undeterred, Astoria grabbed a fistful of his hair and goaded him into a kiss, rocking her hips ever so seductively against him. He knew he had things to do, but he was a man and couldn't help responding to her ministrations.
Smirking her triumph, she didn't waste anytime reaching for his trousers. They were both startled by the office door opening.
"Praetor, I-, oh, I'm so sorry!" Draco was amused by his servant's obvious discomfort and blushing cheeks as she turned to leave.
"Hold on a moment." She froze by the door and he turned to apologetically face Astoria. "Sorry, pet. I need to tend to business. We'll meet up later." Astoria pouted prettily but began to pull herself off of his lap and make her way to the door, shooting a condescending look at the petrified Mudblood.
Draco did not know why he found her discomfort so amusing, or why he was so put off by Astoria lately. He used to find her entertaining, in the very least, but now his attention was drawn elsewhere. It was odd that a plain Muggleborn like Piper Daniels could capture his interest so, but he realized he'd become attracted to her scent, and his inner wolf awakened whenever she was near. What was more, behind the demure facade he could tell there was a fiery intelligence that reminded him of another Muggleborn he once knew.
Getting up from his chair, he snatched the parchment from his desk and walked over to her. "What's on the schedule for today?"
Recovering slightly, Piper read from the paper she clutched. "A meeting with the generals to discuss the rise in crop production the Ministry has ordered."
"And," he prompted.
"There is the matter of the stray kelpie. It's been spotted East of here and the Aberdeen District asks that you send a man to help catch it."
"Yes, we have been having issues with magical creatures ever since Avery headed the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures . What else?"
"The influx of Muggles who have strayed here, sir."
"I don't know why they flee their own districts." He turned to grab his cloak and about to leave when she stopped him.
"Oh, Praetor," she called, forcing him to stop and face her once more. "There's another letter. I don't know who it's from, it only has a sigil of a wildcat or something on it."
He gave her an appraising once over. Piper Daniels had been a godsend. He was indeed fortunate to have plucked her from obscurity. He could have never anticipated just how clever the Muggleborn actually was. She was not much to look at, but there was something about the fire in her eyes that seemed to draw him in. Still, he didn't trust her just yet.
"I'll take that." He snatched the letter from her hand. "Take the rest of the evening off. You can check out my library like I know you've been itching to do."
"Of course, sir."
He hurried from his office, eager to open the letter.
Hermione was teetering precariously as she gripped the ladder with one hand and reached for a large tome high above her head and to the right with the other. She barely had her fingers around the book when she lost her balance and fell to the floor.
She screwed her eyes shut, bracing herself for an impact that never came. Instead, she was swooped up in Malfoy's arms and held tightly against his chest. Her arms had somehow anchored themselves around his neck. As she looked up into his gray eyes, churning like hot metal, she lost her breath, caught in his stare. She saw his nostrils flare and was reminded of the dangerous beast he turned into once a month. Though not so dangerous, now that we're brewing Wolfsbane regularly.
The thought made her feel giddy and she felt slightly intoxicated as she noticed flecks of blue in his intense silver eyes.
"Piper," he said lowly, neglecting completely to put her down. "Why did you not use your wand to levitate the book down?"
"I'm only allowed to in the chamber," she rasped.
"Of course." Taking a deep breath, he set her on her feet and straightened her. "What was so important you needed to risk breaking your neck to get?"
"The Healing Properties of Magical Waterplants," she answered tremulously. He still held her arms and she found it difficult to concentrate. Quit being silly, she chided herself. "I thought the information could be pertinent."
"Well, yes." She snatched her hands away, taking a step back to regain her bearings. "You're constantly draining your healing supplies. I wanted to see what other healing potions I could brew." Stop rambling!
He took a step forward, invading her space once more. "Are you content with your life as a Mudblood?"
"I-, what?" The question took her by surprise.
"Do you think it's fair?" His eyes had darted to her lips and she felt her cheeks flame as she attempted in vain to stave off these silly feelings. Malfoy had his choice of suitable witches, he wouldn't be interested in a Mudblood. But even as she tried to convince herself, she saw the way his pupils dilated and his eyes flashed like lightning. Her heart reacted with answering thunder, beating loudly in her chest. "That someone like you, with your intelligence and determination, should live oppressed?"
With his eyes transfixed by her lips, Hermione could not help but feel like she was in the presence of a hunter. She knew from her reading that lycanthropy could have beastly side effects. What if the werewolf in him had caught her scent? What if a part of him wanted to finish what he'd started? She should be afraid but, to her shame it was notfear she felt.
She could hear blood pumping behind her ears and felt her pulse rocketing. She really should step away, Malfoy was looking far too dangerous and she had no business still standing in place.
Yet, she could not bring herself to move.
As if that was consent enough, Malfoy's head dipped down the last few inches and locked roughly onto her lips. She was overwhelmed by the intensity of it. Her hands itched to thread into his hair. Wouldn't it be wonderful to feel those silky blond locks between her fingers? Hadn't she dreamed, even fantasized about it? She'd done well to guard her thoughts during the day, but now it all came crashing down.
His lips moved against hers expertly and through her shock, she begin to respond in kind, vaguely aware of the way his hands had fallen to her hips. Tingles shot torturously down her spine as she tasted him, breathing him in, finding him oddly intoxicating.
She ached to arch into his grip, to let her hands wander, to wrap them around his neck and pull him close. Something held her back and suddenly, she realized who she was kissing.
Her captor, for all intents and purposes.
Just because he had shown himself to be a decent captor so far, it did not erase the fact that he was. They were divided on two sides of a war and what was more...oh, dear Merlin, he doesn't even know who I am!
The thought was enough for her to break the kiss, stepping back with a gasp. He was breathing heavily, lips swollen and his gray eyes stormy.
"No," she answered throatily.
"Your question, I don't think it's fair. I hate it."
Slowly, a smile spread across his face that made Hermione feel slightly uncomfortable; it was decidedly wicked. He nodded in understanding...like he could understand! "The reason I came looking for you...I have a meeting tomorrow night and I'm bringing you with me."
"Me?" She paled.
"Yes. In the Aberdeen District."
"That meeting wasn't on the schedule."
His smirk only grew wider. "Piper, keep the wand on you. Concealed of course. We don't want any more accidents."
Hermione could not even acknowledge his order as watched him leave.
Draco glanced over at Piper as they navigated through the shady part of Muggle Aberdeen. He led them to a noisy pub up ahead. Taking her along was a spur of the moment decision but after their exchange in the library he realized two things; Piper Daniels could be an asset, and he enjoyed being around her.
It didn't make any sense, why he would be so drawn to her, why she made his inner wolf come alive and demand more. He had initially been attracted to her mind—intelligent, fierce, and witty—she'd reminded him of her. Hermione. As she'd stood before him all those years ago—fiery eyes alive with righteous anger. He was reminded of flashes he had after Piper stabbed him while he was in his werewolf form. Perhaps the girl had been beaten down in this Voldemort-controlled world, but he sensed that there was still a lot of fight in her.
Whatever the case, she proved to be valuable and he could use her in the fight to come.
"It was a lynx by the way," he muttered over his shoulder.
She frowned. "A lynx?"
"The wildcat sigil," he explained. "It was a lynx."
Draco felt her whole body tense and saw she'd gone pale. "Are you alright?"
She nodded stiffly and he pulled her with him into the riotous bar. He made a beeline for the corner, quickly finding the table he sought. A cloaked figure sat waiting for them.
The man nodded at the newcomers as they slid into the booth. Draco quickly cast a Muffilato charm.
"What mask do you wear today, friend?" asked Draco, as he motioned the steward to bring them two steins of beer.
In the shadows, Draco saw him smirk before raising a wand to a tattoo on his wrist. His features quickly morphed into the familiar face of Kingsley Shacklebolt.
Piper gasped. Draco shot her a look, furrowing his brows. Perhaps she was surprised to see such a display of magic?
"Malfoy," said Shacklebolt as he let his hood fall lower over his face. "Glad to see you have journeyed here safely. Who is your friend?"
"This is Piper Daniels. A Muggleborn from my district. She can be trusted."
"Miss Daniels." Kingsley inclined his head in greeting.
"Nice to meet you, sir," she said, voice slightly trembling. "But I don't understand. You were with the Ministry before, I remember you. You're supposed to be dead!"
"Piper," Draco hissed in warning, attempting to catch her eye.
The elder wizard sighed. "When it became apparent we were overwhelmed, some of us Apparated away in order to regroup. There were only a few of us left then, but now… we've rebuilt the Resistance."
Her knuckles were white as she gripped the table. Stiffly, she turned to face Draco. "And you're helping them?"
He met her gaze but she looked away quickly, inexplicably avoiding it, her fingers trailing absently over the menu. "Voldemort was sending my parents to their death. My father went on the mission, but I helped my mother escape. The Order has her. I'm not pleased with the many lives that were lost in the war. I can't stomach living like this any longer."
"But he's immortal."
Kingsley drummed his fingers over the table. "Only thanks to Horcruxes—Horcruxes which can be and have been destroyed. There is only one left."
"Couldn't he just make more?"
"He doesn't have enough soul left," Draco said.
Kingsley smiled broadly. "And now we have rebuilt, after ten years, we are finally ready. There are Order members all over the world. It would have been impossible without wizards like Malfoy who have spied for us."
Piper sat back in her seat, looking shocked. Their mugs arrived and she reached for hers, taking a deep gulp. When she met his gaze, she looked oddly… guilty. But Draco waved it off.
"Listen, Draco." Kingsley began. "You and Nott are going to be paramount in this."
"Nott," Piper cried. "But he can't possibly be a part of this?"
"How better to stay undercover than to be more ruthless than them all?" Draco asked, knowing exactly what had triggered her outburst. Nott was a very good spy. "No one ever suspects Wessex of anything, and it's partially thanks to him. It's not like he kills people."
Piper looked like she wanted to argue but swallowed her retort. She crossed her arms over her chest in a huff.
Kingsley continued. "So, this is the plan…"
Her mind was reeling.
Oh bloody hell this is bad, she thought. Bad, but actually really good—but Merlin! This whole time I haven't been alone, and Malfoy's been in on it too?
She alternated between feeling cross, excited, and anxious…
"We can sleep here tonight." Vaguely, she noticed Malfoy was talking. "Zabini is the Praetor of this district and we are safe until we Apparate back in the morning."
She gave a stiff nod.
"Piper," he said and she looked around frantically before desperate eyes found his. He put a reassuring hand over her arm. "Look, I know this is a lot to take in, but I promise—it's a good thing."
"No," she croaked. "I know, it's just…" It's just I've been parading around this whole time as a different person and meanwhile the war has been going on without me! And how the bloody hell will Malfoy take this? Should I tell him? Of course I should, I'm just...afraid.
"I know what you're thinking." He does? Malfoy paced around the room. "You're wondering how I could be trusted, after all I've done." For a moment, Malfoy looked exposed and so heartbreakingly vulnerable. "But the thing is, I was sixteen, seventeen, and it was all thrust upon me. I was a coward, afraid. I knew he should be stopped, towards the end I even hoped Potter would beat him. But I was no help to anyone, just a kid—a kid that had seen and done horrible things. It wasn't until the final battle, that I finally decided…when I saw first hand what true courage looked like."
She bit her lip, hopeful but unsure. "The final battle?"
"Yes, I saw someone…die. I couldn't save her, and it killed me. I realized I was being selfish, that if I died by Voldemort's hands, at least I would have done something. I wanted to, I was going to try and kill him when my parents got their mission. But I saw something, a Patronus. It was a lynx. Kingsley found me, and he's been guiding me ever since."
"So you see." He advanced towards her and suddenly Hermione saw the savage hunter in him again. "You don't have to fear me. I'm not your enemy." His words warred with his predatory stance.
She couldn't breathe. Oh this was bad. Why did she feel as if she'd…betrayed him in some way? He was being so honest with her, and this whole time…she'd been deceiving him.
He was close to her now, he was always so fucking close, and Hermione could hardly concentrate on what needed to be done. He was reaching for her and she wanted nothing more than to fling herself in his embrace. Just the knowledge that she wasn't alone in this, that there were others, made her heart swell with joy. She resisted.
"Malfoy." She placed her hands firmly on his arms. "Here's the thing." He frowned, confused. "I, er…I have one of those nifty Rune tattoos too," she blurted, raising her hair so he could see her neck.
"The Muggle tattoo? I don't understand…"
"No, Malfoy, perhaps I should show you." She withdrew her wand and raised it to her neck, muttering the unmasking incantation. The spell activated immediately. Tears stung her eyes as she felt herself transforming, changing, morphing into the body of a person she hadn't seen in years. Would she even recognize herself? Would he?
She felt familiar chestnut curls fall wildly over her shoulder. Her curves shifted and she looked down, suddenly afraid for him to see her face.
She felt his fingers gently gripping her chin and allowed him to tilt her head to meet his inquisitive stare. When liquid gold eyes met molten silver, she saw Malfoy take a few steps backwards until he hit the wall and crumpled down.
"Hermione?" Her name sounded rough on his tongue. "It's you, you've been…her all these years?"
Not trusting herself to speak, she nodded firmly.
"I don't understand." She could scarcely meet the torrent of emotions that passed over his handsome face, but she couldn't look away either. "I saw your body…I offered you help, but you didn't take it."
"I know." She took a shaky step forward. "And I regret that now. I didn't know you were sincere." A burning flicker of hope… longing… and want burst into Draco's silver eyes and abruptly, that eradicated Hermione's doubts.
She immediately closed the distance between them and knelt down beside the trembling wizard, placing a hand on his shoulder. He wrenched away, running his hands through his hair.
"It's okay," she cooed. "Everything's fine now. I'm sorry this hasn't happened sooner, I was just…surviving."
"You don't have to apologize. Everything I did, anytime it was something good, I thought of you. And now you're here, and you can see first hand the monster I've become."
"Draco. I don't think you're a monster. I think you're brave. I think you clever. And so incredibly brilliant to be running all of this." She cupped his chin, gently coaxing him to look at her.
"It all makes sense now," he rasped. "Why I was so… attracted to you. It was your smell, the whole time. My inner wolf recognized it even if I didn't—it was you. Get away, Hermione. I'm warning you, I want nothing more than to take you in my arms, and not let go."
Her eyes widened, glittering with desire, and he flinched away when he saw it, gripping his legs harshly in an effort not to reach for her.
She made the decision for him.
Boldly straddling his lap, she wrapped her arms around his neck and then pulled him towards her, eyelids fluttering shut, as she pressed her lips desperately against his.
Their kiss was scorching… heated… she could hardly breathe as she tasted him, became consumed by him. She wanted more and bit his lip, demanding entry. He groaned and she touched her tongue to his, sending electric jolts down her chest and straight to the pit of her abdomen. She let out a needy whimper.
He kissed her fiercely, passionately, and she melted in his arms, moulding her body to press up against his hot muscles wherever they could touch. His hands fisted in her unruly curls and she felt a stab of desire slam into her, causing her to buck her hips against him.
Suddenly, he pulled away, panting. "Get away from me, Hermione." He looked up at her and she was struck by how undone he looked. "I'm warning you, I want nothing more but to bite you, mark you as my mate. You should leave now."
Hermione shook her head, smirking slightly as she lifted her hair and arched her neck. An invitation…
Draco growled and suddenly, she was on her back, not even noticing the way her head thwacked hard against the floor. She moaned as he didn't bite her, but rather, latched onto a particularly sensitive tendon on her neck and ran his hands frantically over her body.
She reached for the hem of his shirt and pulled it off, desperate to feel his skin up against hers. His hands found their way under her shirt and she keened in approval at the feel of them on her breasts.
His hands flew to her jeans and he unbuttoned them, quickly pulling them off of her before divesting himself of his own trousers. Her tongue flicked out to lick his ear before descending to the sensitive skin of his neck. He wasn't moving bloody fast enough, and she was ready—gods was she ready!
His fingers danced over the silky skin of her thigh before edging up to her knickers. He caressed her over the soft cotton and it was maddening. When he wrenched her knickers away and touched her skin to skin, she nearly bucked off the floor.
"Stop teasing, Malfoy," she demanded hotly. Her fingers found their way to his erection and she palmed him roughly.
He hissed in response, stilling the motion of her wrist. "Hermione," he whispered throatily. "Don't, I won't be able to…be gentle."
"Don't." She ground her hips against him and he growled, positioning himself at her entrance before finally entering her. Once more, Hermione saw stars as she clamped down on him, nearly convulsed, her greedy heat not wanting him to move an inch.
But he did move and Hermione whimpered at the delicious friction, quickly losing the ability to think as she begged him to go harder… faster. He kissed her, swallowing her moans as he began snapping his hips and picking up speed.
Feeling on the precipice of falling, she began meeting him thrust for thrust, seeking the maddening promise of bliss. His mouth clamped down on her shoulder, marking her, breaking through her skin, which should have been painful but inexplicably turned to bliss. And then…she was shattering, freefalling into oblivion, clinging onto him for dear life as he thrust erratically into her, each one more powerful than the last, before he finally howled with his own pleasure.
Moments later, she was aware he had collapsed on top of her. He quickly rolled to his back still breathing heavily.
"You marked me," she said with a smirk, now feeling a sting on her shoulder where before there'd only been pleasure.
"Yeah, sorry. I did warn you though."
"I know, and it's okay. Better than okay, actually."
His head flopped over and he was looking at her with such intense love, it was hard to focus. "What now?"
"Well," she mused, lying languidly on her back. "I suppose we work on the plan to kill Voldemort."
He smiled and Hermione could hardly contain her joy at the satiated look on his face.
"Meanwhile," he rolled to his side, fingers dancing over her bared stomach. "We at least have the rest of the night to ourselves, before we enact that plan."
She smirked. "What do you suggest we do?"
"Well, werewolves do tend to be…quite virile."
Her smile widened as she looked adoringly at her wolf. She'd been through so much and so much had changed. But she was no longer alone.