This was my submission for this year's hp-creatures fest on LiveJournal. I'm a little late posting it on here, but enjoy! :)

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She rolled the coin between her fingers, her eyes mesmerised by the glint of the golden coin as it passed over each knuckle in turn. There was a time when she would have taken this token offering and thrown it back in that stupid, ferret face of his. How dare he look at her, speak to her, or even breathe the same air as her after everything he'd done? He couldn't come back into her life, looking all conspirative and sexy, and expecting her to fall at his feet. That was NOT how nymph courting rituals worked!

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Once upon a time, a very smart witch said that hearing voices wasn't a good sign. She was right, of course, being the smartest witch of her age and all that bother. But Hermione Granger had known all her life that she was a special girl, and it didn't help that no-one else could see that. Even as a child she had never felt connected to anyone, not even her parents; she loved them, of course, but they just didn't get her. They didn't believe her when she said that there was someone living inside her head – that a voice had told her she was special. More special than them, anyway.

It was almost like having an imaginary friend; someone to talk to and play with but just inside her head. The voice was a girl (she assumed); she told Hermione all kinds of things about the world that the adults didn't want her to know. Including the fact that her mum and dad didn't know everything like they pretended to, that she wouldn't hurt herself running with scissors, and her dog didn't move to a farm when he was very sick. It was also true that she didn't need milk to grow up (it only made her tummy feel funny), adults weren't human bollocks detectors, and when her toys went missing it was because her mum threw them out.

The voice was also how Hermione knew all the naughty words like "fuck" and "bloody hell", and that her hateful cousin hadn't even had sex yet when his fiancé claimed to be pregnant.

Learning about sex from her inner voice had been an eye opening experience and there was no filter on Hermione's mouth; she said things like "what is sex like?" and "fuck that" to the adults, causing the ripples of gasps through the family and weekends at conversion summer camp.

She couldn't imagine a life without her inner voice, but she learnt not to repeat everything the voice said, out loud.

Eventually, Hermione named her inner voice Ekho – after the nymph from Greek Mythology (voice curses just seemed appropriate). In her mad aunt's extensive library, she read up on the nature spirits, and once she knew that the girl was real, everything changed.

That was the week leading up to the September of 1991 – autumn was coming in and her parents had finally found a specialist to deal with her "condition" – when a stern looking old woman had come to visit and Hermione discovered she wasn't a nymph, but a witch.

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Guardians of nature were servants of the gods, and as such were given similar tokens of devotion from those that worshipped them, but gone were the days that offerings from men to the numerous nymph species consisted of the traditional sacrificial rituals. Smaller, non-perishable offerings had replaced the bloody corpses. Not that she was complaining – the coin rolling along her fingers was less barbaric and catered to her vessel's morals more. She was just so innocently human that way. But she totally blamed HER for their current situation. It all started when they were so young, so innocent, and through the confusion that the disassociation of their psyche caused. This MAN was such an arrogant tosser. He had pursued her, adored her, and sought to dominate her. Him! It didn't matter that the sex was amazing. That was beside the point. She was just as traditionally romantic as she was horny, thanks very much.

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It started during Hermione's first year at Hogwarts. A boy with a pale pointed face wouldn't stop staring at her on the platform and followed her with his eyes as she made her way on board the train; he was accompanied by two adults that Ekho said were depraved, dark lovers. They were not to be trusted.

As time went by the boy eventually started stalking her. Hermione had learnt his name was Draco and he was something called a pure-blood; Ekho called him a walking dick. She didn't like him. And after that "Mudblood" incident, Hermione was inclined to agree. But she couldn't stop watching him when he wasn't looking at her and Ekho said he was watching her too.

Hermione received a card on Valentine's Day every year for the remainder of her school years and she knew they were from him. He wrote her all about nymphs and doted on her with presents from afar; her birthdays were especially lavish. And he wasn't shy about making it known that she would one day be his.

Draco Malfoy never openly declared his love or intentions for her, but she thought she saw him gazing at her from the other end of the Great Hall numerous times. He would look away quickly and hide his blush behind a book or food, or something. She wasn't naïve enough to think she could get him to admit what he was doing but he was doing it – despite the way he treated her when Harry and Ron were around, she was positive he was her admirer.

Nymph courting rituals were vague and incidental, and it was up to interpretation on how much he needed to do, but according to Ekho, Draco Malfoy was Hermione Granger's intended from the first time he'd sent his intentions to her, regardless of the fact that they were both still underage.

But there was only one question that niggled at her: How the hell had he figured out what she was?

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The warm body resting on top of her, breathing hard, and trying his darn hardest not to be too smug about the fact that he'd just shagged the only girl of the Golden Trio, shifted lightly to ease more of his weight off her. He was being considerate, huh? She supposed even ferrets understood common decency. He'd pursued her for years; for months after that first hex on his manhood she was pleasantly surprised that he'd stuck with it for so long, even though the swelling had taken so very long to go down.

Because once the war was over, everything changed, and she had to get away. She had to hide. He wasn't good enough for her, no matter how RIGHT he was for her; he wouldn't know what to do with a Muggle-born witch in his bed, anyway. But she should've known better than to think that someone as persistent as Draco Malfoy would just give up on her.

The last few hours of his insatiable lust played over in her mind as she clasped the golden coin in her fist. He had read up on her species and taken all the necessary steps, cornering her in the most domineering and aggravating way – of course she would want him after that! It was downright irresistible and fucking animalistic of him and she loved it, even if her vessel was dubious. She wanted instincts, biting, scratching, clawing, and the exchange of bodily fluids. Those steel grey eyes had haunted her erotic dreams from the moment she'd come of age. But the way he'd arrogantly taken control? Urgh! How DARE he peer into her mind and find that she wanted him too? He was supposed to worship her. He was supposed to revere her. She was supposed to lure him in, not the other way around. THAT was his role as her mate!

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"Seek and ye shall find."

She ran because he made her both angry and crazy with want at the same time. Hermione could never control herself when she thought about shagging him. After the war she'd stayed with her parents when they refused to leave Australia; she wanted her mate to be someone she could trust, and Draco Malfoy was not a man to be trusted. But she ultimately had little choice in the matter. Years of stalking, watching, and now hunting had paid off.

He glowered at her, standing in the middle of her townhouse kitchen with suppressed rage that she had successfully evaded her for so long. He wasn't even a magical creature and he felt the desire to mate and reproduce with her – she felt the gods had a hand in that. But Hermione had resolved to stop fighting him the moment that beautiful man appeared in front of her. She couldn't anymore. She couldn't deny what her body want, what her inner voice needed.

Draco had discovered Hermione's secret, magical origins because he'd stalked her for so long. He'd quickly developed an obsession with this strange girl that he couldn't quite explain and during the course of the first few months at school had overheard an interesting conversation she'd had… with herself. About him of all people. She was a nymph, he was creeping her out, and someone called Ekho thought she should poison him before he had a chance to claim her. It was apparently how all the old gods got rid of irritating mates.

Psychotic.

But it didn't deter him. He found himself giving in to the dark corner of his soul that was reaching out to her. He needed to court her, to chase her, and to claim her, and he was tired of waiting. It was how he found himself striding forward and kneeling at the feet of his beautiful witch, a gold coin in his hand as offering (an ancient Greek Drachma worth more than its original value), and his face between her thighs.

She accepted his token and parted her legs, a growl of submissiveness slipping before she could stop herself. Hermione keened at his touch, excited by his reverence; a touch, a kiss, and a flutter of her body. She let him do what he willed; his mouth was warm, wet, and talented. His body a long deserved quench to the aching thirst inside of her.

And so began their downward spiral. Into lust. Into heat. And into insanity.

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The definition of insanity was the most overused cliché of all time. To those who didn't know what it felt like to go quietly into darkness, it sounded exotic and mesmerising. But to the psyche of a nymph, this transition was anything but quiet; the screaming became feverish as he pushed inside her body. The body of her vessel. Thrusting like a man possessed and angry enough to tear her in half, he had less control than he pretended.

She didn't understand the depth of his desire; humans weren't supposed to be this powerfully possessive of their mates. She couldn't feel past his lust; everything he had he was slamming into her and all she could do was hold on until he finally ran out of steam.

She could never and would never escape him again, everything else be damned. It both excited and terrified her. There was no denying and no going back now.

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.:.

R&R