Disclaimer: I don't own anything in the Harry Potter Universe. It all belongs to the Queen, J.K.
Beta Love: Dreamingofstars85
A/N: Alright lovelies, another update! I cannot believe how many people are loving this story and I am so thrilled by your comments and excitement over it! Thank you all so so much! I feel like I can solidly say we are somewhere around the middle of this story, LOL! I really have no idea how long it's going to be! We are near a turning point for our favourite girl though—she can't stay in the midst of Death Eaters much longer without taking the mark herself :o
Hermione groggily rubbed her face, squinting toward the sound that had so annoyingly woken her up, which was coming from the side of the bed.
"Good morning, doll. You look like you had a good night."
"Finn!" Hermione scrambled over the crumpled sheets and threw her arms around the man standing at the edge of the bed.
He grunted but caught her and wrapped his arms around her as well, patting down her bushy hair when it threatened to suffocate him. "Miss me?" he asked as she finally let him go.
"I was worried about you! What happened?" The elation that Finn had come back apparently unharmed was quickly overshadowed by a fear for the Order members he had gone up against.
"They were prepared for us," he said solemnly.
Hermione finally took a good look at Finn and noticed that he was not, in fact, unharmed. There were large bruises forming on his arms, and one on his neck, and he looked like he felt bloody awful.
"Oh my God Finn, this looks awful." Hermione nimbly slid off the bed and across the room, gathering up a couple healing potions and a salve, bringing them back to Finn, and setting them down before gently pushing him to sit back on the bed. She gingerly pulled his shirt off, revealing several more painful looking bruises creeping their way up his torso. "Oh, Finn, what happened?"
He sighed and shrugged. "We failed. The Dark Lord doesn't do well with failure, so we were punished. It's really nothing, Hermione. I've had worse."
Hermione sighed deeply and held back her tears. It wouldn't do any good to cry right now. This was something she should get used to seeing anyway, as it was entirely likely that if—no, when. That when she became a Death Eater, she would see and experience this sort of punishment. Shuddering at the realisation that she would have to endure her own punishment—more torture—in the future, Hermione pushed all thoughts of that future from her mind and focused on Finn again. She tended his wounds in silence, making him drink the potions, rubbing the salve on his bruises, and healing the many scrapes and cuts he had sustained.
When she finished she vanished the remaining salve from her palms and looked at Finn. "There, it's not perfect, but you should heal up much quicker."
"Thanks, doll." Finn settled himself on the bed, adjusting the pillows behind his back so he was propped upright. "So, how was your night?" he asked with a devious smirk.
Hermione glared at him and then looked around, suddenly realising that she and Finn were quite alone in the room. She had not been alone when she'd fallen asleep. Draco had been here with her. So where the bloody hell was he now?
"What do you know, Thorfinn?" she said, narrowing her eyes. She was not in the mood for his games. It had been a rough twenty-four hours and she just didn't want to deal with his antics.
"Surprisingly, not much. Draco wanted me to tell you he's fine. He had to meet us in the ballroom when we arrived but he hadn't wanted to wake you." He paused, obviously trying to look smug about whatever it was he thought he know. "So, he stayed the night here? Should I be changing the sheets, or—"
"Finn!" Hermione gasped at smacked him on the leg, as that was all she could properly reach from where she was sitting. "You are a pervert!"
He shrugged and smiled but didn't say anything, clearly waiting for her to explain.
"The sheets are fine," she said under her breath, rolling her eyes and crossing her arms.
"I'm actually a little disappointed, Hermione. I really thought you would use the time alone to your advantage. I told you to do more than just snog. What did you do all night, read books?" He laughed and then winked at her. She just shook her head.
"No, we did not read books," she said mockingly. "We duelled."
"And how did that go?"
Hermione paused a moment before answering. She took several deep breaths, feeling her anger surfacing.
"Why the bloody hell didn't you tell me about the effects Dark Magic could have? Thorfinn, why in Merlin's name didn't you warn me?!" Hermione had raised her voice, and she felt a little smug when he startled from her volume and looked genuinely taken aback for a moment.
"I—you weren't there yet, I didn't want to worry you with it and have that fear be one more thing causing you to hold back," he said slowly. "You… you did it? You got through the barrier and successfully used your Dark Magic?"
"Yes, I fucking did it, Finn! And then I went and bloody shagged Draco on a desk in the training room without a second thought! Fucking hell, why didn't you TELL ME?!" She was shouting at him now. She hadn't had a chance to really process everything yet, and she knew she was irrationally exploding her feelings onto him, but she didn't care. They have been working at this for weeks, he should have told her!
Finn's eyes were wide and he sat up abruptly. "You… what? Malfoy didn't—I'm going to kill him!" He started to swing his legs off the bed and Hermione realised he meant to make good on that threat right away.
"No, Finn, what are you doing? Sit down," she said trying to push his leg back onto the bed. When that didn't seem to be stopping him she stood up, blocking his way to the door.
"Move, Hermione. He should not have taken advantage of you like that!" he growled.
"Thorfinn Rowle you brute, STOP!" she yelled, putting both her hands up and pushing him in the chest a little. "Stop right now and listen to me! He did not take advantage of me. I jumped him, ok? It was absolutely mutual, I just… I wish I would have known to expect that kind of reaction, alright? And I'm bloody pissed at you that you didn't warn me!" Hermione was breathing heavily, her arms still on Finn's chest.
He looked down at her and took a deep breath. Hermione could tell he was processing what she said and calming down a little.
"Shit Finn, what were you going to do, go beat him up?" she said, laughing lightly.
"Bloody right I was!" Finn moved back to the bed and sat down, patting the spot next to him for Hermione to join. "You need to start from the beginning, doll."
Hermione sat down and explained the whole night from after he had left them. When she was finished, Finn sighed and stood, walking to the table and bringing back two glasses of firewhisky. He handed one to her, and drank his own down eagerly.
"Finn, it's like—wait, what time is it?" She had been about to chastise him for drinking so early, but realised she didn't even know how early it really was.
"It's half six," he said, chuckling.
"Oh good grief," she groaned. "You are absolutely terrible for my standards, Finn." Hermione shook her head at him but drank her whiskey all the same. It really was becoming her beverage of choice.
"So you two really just chatted all night long after that?"
Hermione laughed at the way he said 'chatted', like it was some dirty word. "Yes, Finn. Two people can do that you know, just talk. I'm not sure if you're aware, but we really don't get to see each other that often, what with one of us being a Death Eater who is still in school and the other being a prisoner and all. Plus, he brought me a message from the Order."
She frowned, remembering when Draco had hesitantly brought up the Order that night. He'd essentially told her what she'd already figured out on her own—that the Order couldn't do anything for her now. At least not at this time. It would be far too risky for them to send in members to try and rescue her, especially with no guarantee of her retrieval, or their survival, even with help from the inside. Voldemort had placed wards and securities specific to her on the property. Draco had apologised profusely to her, but really he had no reason. It wasn't anything to do with him, and she was a smart witch. She knew that one Order member wasn't worth all the lives it would take to rescue her.
"You know, most prisoners don't get all the booze they can drink and comfy beds and glorious giant showers, not to mention spending their time with the most handsome and desirable bloke in this whole outfit." He winked at her before his features slowly morphed into a look of pity, which bothered her more than she cared to admit. "What did the Order have to say?"
"Nothing I didn't know already," she sighed. "And even if I do have special privileges, I'm still stuck here," she said, shaking her head but smiling.
Finn was quiet for a moment before looking at her and speaking softly. "I am sorry I didn't tell you, Hermione. I really didn't think you were there yet."
Hermione sighed. "It's alright," she said. "Honestly, I don't think I was there. Not really. Draco, uhm… well he decided to try a similar spell to the one we are figuring out, and, well, I guess it worked."
Finn narrowed his eyes. "What do you mean, a similar spell? There isn't a similar spell, I would have thought of it by now."
Hermione hesitated. She knew what Draco had done—essentially just a kick in the right direction. But after Finn's reaction earlier, she was a little worried how he would take this. So she shrugged, trying to play it off as casually as possible and said, "He may have Imperiused me."
"What?!" Finn. growled, sitting up. "He Imperiused you and then had sex with you!?"
"Finn, it wasn't like that! Calm down, will you?"
"I'm going to kill him," he said, shaking his head and moving like he was ready to get up.
Hermione put her hands on his chest, pushing him back down. "Really, Finn, just listen! You are so bloody over protective! Weren't you the one who was scolding me just a few minutes ago for not having a shag on the bed last night?"
"That's different! Consenting is bloody well different than being Imperiused, Hermione!"
"The only thing he Imperiused me to do was to be open to the Dark Magic, Finn. Calm down. It was me who literally jumped him, snogging him like a damn floozy! He was just along for the ride." She was getting a little fed up with his over the top reactions. Honestly, it's not like he was her father.
"It bloody sounds like he took advantage of you."
"Well, he didn't. It was the best bloody shag of my life," she said, exasperated.
Finn raised his eyebrows and Hermione immediately realised that she'd said that outloud, not just in her head. "Oh, bugger," she said, biting her lip and turning what she knew had to be an intense shade of red.
"Hermione Granger, who have you been shagging?" Finn asked, a huge smirk on his face.
"Not that it's any of your business, Finn, but I've had sex before," she said, rolling her eyes and crossing her arms.
"Sensitive topic?" he replied, laughing.
"Can we just move on, please?"
"So it was bad, then. The bloke before?"
"It wasn't bad! All I said was that this was better." She was getting frustrated. This wasn't supposed to be a conversation about her past experiences. She knew how Finn would react to that, and it wasn't something she wanted to get into right now.
"Touchy, touchy," he said with a wink. "So I don't have to beat him up then?"
"No, Finn. While it was totally unexpected and out of character for me, it wasn't… unwanted." Hermione blushed again. Why was talking about this so embarrassing? It's not like it wasn't a perfectly natural part of life, or something she hadn't done before. She wasn't some virginal schoolgirl for Merlin's sake! She was a strong, confident, sex-enjoying woman! Oh good grief, Hermione, she thought. Cool it on the feminism pep talk! She rolled her eyes at herself and pushed it all from her mind. Sometimes she could be just a little crazy.
"So you wanted to do it, but then you spent the whole night just talking?"
"For fuck's sake, Finn! Yes! We bloody talked, ok!? We drank a lot of alcohol, talked until it was the next fucking day, and he held me while we went to sleep, ok? Why is that so hard to understand!?"
"Calm your tits, lady," Finn said, laughing at her reaction. "Alright, you talked. Got it."
"Good," she huffed, ignoring his awful phrase. "So, breakfast?"
"Oh, right. Yeah, Draco asked me to inform you that Narcissa has requested you to join them for breakfast today. He is going to stop by to pick you up."
Hermione's stomach plummeted. "What? When?"
"Seven o'clock," he said, chuckling at her reaction.
"Finn! That's like, twenty minutes from now!"
"I'd guess more like fifteen."
"Ugh!" Hermione jumped off the bed and ran into the bathroom. Fifteen minutes was cutting it close to be Narcissa-ready.
She was rinsing shampoo out of her hair when it occurred to her that she was about to have breakfast with the incredibly perceptive mother of the man she had shagged on a desk less than twelve hours ago.
"I am so glad you could join us this morning, Hermione." Narcissa smiled at warmly her from across the table.
"It was kind of you to invite me," Hermione replied quietly. She really should have found a Sober-up before she left, but she'd been so nervous about getting ready on time that she hadn't thought of it until it was too late.
"Draco darling, how is school going? You hardly ever owl me." Her voice was sweet as honey, but it was obvious she was lightly chastising him.
"It's fine, mother. This year is boring, almost," he said, looking at Hermione and winking so that only she could see. "It seems as though the professors have taught us all they intend to and are going easy in an effort to let us study for our N.E.W.T 's."
Hermione frowned as he spoke. She should be finishing her last year of school this year, taking the N.E.W.T exams and passing them with flying colours. Instead, she'd been on the run, captured, tortured, and now held prisoner and forced to declare fealty to a mad man. The word unfair hardly scratched the surface.
"I hope you are using that time wisely, son," Narcissa said, raising her eyebrows as if she were challenging him to admit he wasn't.
"Of course I am, mother. I'm not the one who insisted I take a break from school in order to deliver you books that you could easily have had owled here," Draco replied, his tone playful.
Hermione hid her smile with a sip of her pumpkin juice. Their relationship was surprising but endearing.
"Can you really blame me? I missed my only son," Narcissa said with a delicate shrug. "Besides, I don't believe I am the only one to benefit from your visit. I assume you two were able to spend some time together yesterday, as I only saw Draco for a moment before he disappeared for the night," Narcissa said pointedly, looking directly at Hermione.
A light blush rose to her cheeks, but before Hermione had to think of something to respond with, Draco spoke. "We were, actually. I was able to catch up with Finn over drinks before they had to leave on the mission, and then Hermione and I spent a good deal of time destroying the training room. She is quite good."
Hermione's blush only deepened when she felt Draco squeeze her thigh gently.
Narcissa scoffed and patted her face with her napkin. "That boy goes through Firewhisky like it's water."
Hermione laughed, bringing her hand up to cover her mouth. "He really does, doesn't he?"
She was met with a teasing smile from Narcissa. "As long as he isn't rubbing his habits off on you…"
"I'd just like to point out that only one person at this table is having champagne for breakfast, mother," Draco said with a chuckle. He stood then and walked to his mother's chair, leaning in and kissing her sweetly on the cheek. "I'm sorry I have to rush off this morning, mother. You know how Snape is with punctuality."
Narcissa sighed and stood. "I do," she said. "You really must owl me more often, Draco. I did not raise you to ignore your poor mother."
"I will do my best," he said, smiling as he leant in and hugged her tightly. "I am going to have to steal Hermione away from you, though. I have been informed that I did not bring enough books back."
"Well if you would have told me you were coming, I could have given you a list," Hermione said playfully, rolling her eyes. She scooted her chair out to stand and Draco was quickly there, giving her his arm.
Hermione turned to Narcissa and smiled. "Thank you for breakfast," she said, also giving the woman a hug. "I will see you this afternoon?"
"Yes. We have quite a bit to go over today," Narcissa said, very obviously looking between Draco and Hermione, making Hermione nervous about what exactly was on the lesson plan for the day.
Hermione followed Draco out of the room, but not before noting the time on the clock as they exited. Once the door was shut and he was leading her down the hallway, Hermione asked, "I thought you said you had to go back at nine?"
He turned his head and smirked at her. "I did."
"It's only five until eight," she said, thinking he must have read the clock wrong.
"I'm impressed, Hermione. You can read a clock," he teased, bringing her around another corner and into a hallway that Hermione hadn't been in yet.
"First of all, you are an arse, Draco Malfoy. Second, where are we going? This isn't the way to Finn's room."
"I take great pride in my arseness, thank you very much."
Hermione reached her free hand across to swat him in the arm, laughing in spite of herself. When they stopped in front of a door, she looked over at him questioningly but didn't say anything. He opened it and held out his arm, gesturing her through first.
When Hermione was inside the room, she instantly realised that it must be his bedroom. It was done up in extravagant silver and green, matching the Slytherin colours perfectly. There was a four poster bed, a lovely desk, a potions bench, a reading nook, and a bathroom that, from what she could tell, was even bigger than Finn's.
"Is this your room?" she asked, unable to think of anything else to say.
"Obviously," he said, chuckling.
Hermione walked toward the bookshelves, running a finger along the spines of several titles, some she recognised and others she didn't. She smiled when she saw Beauty and the Beast. "Is this—"
"The same one from last year? Yes." He must have followed her across the room because he whispered directly in her ear, startling her with his proximity. She turned to face him, butterflies forming in her stomach when he put his hand on her waist. "I don't have much time; the Dark Lord has requested to see me again before I leave, but I didn't want the last time I saw you to be with my mother," he explained.
"Oh," was all she could think to say.
"I would like to kiss you now," he said, leaning in slightly. "Without the influence of Dark Magic. I know you were upset about yesterday. I want you to know that what I feel for you, whatever it is between us, it's not because of Dark Magic. It's real," he whispered, cupping her face with his hand. "Can I kiss you, Hermione?"
Not trusting her voice, Hermione nodded her head slowly, closing her eyes as he closed the distance between them, capturing her lips. It was a gentle kiss, nothing like it had been yesterday. He kissed her so sweetly that she could have cried, and it was over before she was ready. He rested his forehead against hers and stood there with her, his hand holding her waist, not saying anything, just holding her. Hermione felt more at peace in that moment than she had since Bill and Fleur's wedding, before everything went South.
When he pulled away, cold seeped in to fill the space where their bodies had been touching, and she wished so badly that they could just stay like that forever.
"I have to go," he whispered, looking her in the eyes.
"Will you come back?"
"I'm not sure. I'm going to try, every chance I get."
Hermione sighed and nodded her head. "I'm glad you came."
He smiled at her. "Me too."
Draco reached out and took her hand, turning to lead her to the door, but Hermione pulled back slightly, making him face her again.
"Draco, I know that… I realise yesterday I reacted badly, and—"
"Hermione, it's alright. You were—"
"No, let me finish," she said. "It surprised me, and worried me at first, but… I don't regret it," she finished quietly, eyes on the floor.
When she looked up, Draco was smiling at her. "Neither do I."