Rating: STRONG M for language, violence, and scenes of a sexual nature.
Pairing: Draco/Hermione with mentions of prior Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny.
Timeline: Set two and a half years after the Battle of Hogwarts. Fully compliant with DH. EWE.
*WARNINGS*: Dark themes that some may find upsetting, future triggers and lemons included. Proceed at your own risk.
Disclaimer: Bank account confirmes, still don't own Harry Potter. Boo. All credit goes to the lovely and wonderful JKR.
~Chapter 1: Prologue~
"This Christmas has been incredible."
"Mhm." Hermione's response was faint as she clung tightly to the pillow her head rested upon, the lingering scent of men's cologne mixed with coconut scented shampoo infiltrating her nostrils. It smelt nice – familiar and comforting, just like everything else surrounding them.
"I don't wanna go back tomorrow. I wanna stay here, with you."
"I'll still be here when you and Harry come back in June."
"I know... Just promise we can pick back up where we left off." The look in his sleepy blue eyes gave the most hopeful glisten she'd ever seen before, blissfully ignorant and sweetly surreal. "I wanna be with you, 'Mione. For good this time. Hell, I know we've had our problems, but this – what we have – I never wanna lose it. You're it for me."
She felt a tugging inclination to say something back equally as caring; to reassure him of her devotion with an explanation of how she felt the same. Perhaps saying it aloud would mean that she actually did, verbalization to make it all become true. Merlin, she wanted nothing more. "Your er – it. For me, too. But you know, we still agreed on –"
"No dating yet," he supplied as if the statement was entirely that simple. It was anything but. "Nothing serious until I'm home – I know. I just can't bloody wait to be done with Auror training, once and for all. These past two and a half years have been hell on earth... I miss you so much when I'm gone."
You're it for me.
Ron's words echoed inside Hermione's overactive conscious as she grazed a fingertip alongside the radiating warmth coming from her ceramic mug. Wondering if the more she repeated the images, the more likely her internal sentiments to everything might change. By the hundredth go around, it didn't seem likely.
She sat clad in only an oversized bathrobe; a small dinette table occupying her flat within London's city center holding up nothing more than a cup of chamomile tea and her rested upon elbows – pressed down against its wooden surface as she nervously waited. And waited. As if this was any normal thing to sit around and anticipate.
Hermione's muggle oven illuminated a digital reading of green text against a small black background, her chest tightening with its unsettling visual.
She had work the following morning. Another early and hectic Monday at the Ministry, she could nearly guarantee it. A day set to begin no later than eight o'clock sharp, but knowing full well she wouldn't be arriving a single minute past seven thirty. Punctuality held the utmost importance, especially seeing as she presently sat up against two other co-workers for a hefty promotion.
It had been one year since accepting her current position within the Control of Magical Creatures department, a relatively small team composed of only twelve other employees excluding herself. It was a thankless job that underpaid and often overworked, but nonetheless, she adored her work spent defending the rights of those unable to defend themselves. She wouldn't dare allow this to distract away from performing it correctly.
For Merlin's sake, she was Hermione Granger. War heroine. Brightest witch of her age. She needed help from no one other than herself. She could handle this; she was handling this.
Her uneasy feelings didn't lessen despite the internal pep talk, a single sip of hot liquid brought to her parted lips as a hopeful distraction. The fluid burned going down but settled a warmth within the pit of her stomach in return for a fluttering moment of comfort. In spite of all efforts to calm her racing nerves, they didn't settle for long.
Hermione told herself the unwelcome anxiety was purely due to Harry and Ron leaving yesterday for the Auror Academy in Switzerland, their third and final year of training now halfway completed. She always felt so much safer with them home, even if the trio lived separately from one another – Hemione in her London flat while the boys lodged at Grimmauld Place – knowing in the back of her mind they were nearby felt like a reassuring safety blanket in times like this.
Times of waiting.
But they were on the downhill slope to completing the rigorous and stressful program, having only five months left – the absolute last thing they needed was to be burdened down with Hermione's minuscule problem of having someone write to her a bit more than necessary. That's all this was. Nothing more.
She glanced over at the clock, only a single minute having passed by since her last check. It seemed late enough by now – perhaps she wouldn't receive anything. No zooming note underneath her door. No unmarked owl appearing at her window with a bizarre letter. No green floo flames engulfing her fireplace with a scroll of parchment bursting through the unwelcomed embers.
Always the same tactic employed just different messages each time. But maybe tonight there would be nothing.
Maybe they'd given up.
Hermione didn't allow the delusion of hope to cloud her judgment; she knew better. She knew this was merely one huge mind game that some domineering person who relinquished in power was playing. The power to make her flinch, the ability to make her scared. She wouldn't allow the satisfaction.
She wasn't even genuinely fearful, she reasoned with herself. Only confused. Confused as to how (furthermore why) someone desired her attention so badly while gaining nothing back in return.
It started off simple at first: one too many owls arriving in her nowadays dwindling lot of fan mail. Hermione didn't mind the diminished public attention; quite the opposite, actually. Nearly three years later and she was finally away from the spotlights which beamed down so heavily upon her, Ron and Harry after the war. It was better that way. She wanted people to see her for more than just the events of their school days – with their overinflated visions of bravery and pre-formulated opinions. She had more to offer than a brand name to help sell autobiographies about the golden trio who helped defeat Voldemort.
The mystery letters she'd received were no different than most. Kind messages describing how her past accomplishments made the wizarding world a better place; singing words of praise over how she was bright and brave, as did so many others from years prior. Just a fan, if perhaps an overly exuberant one, but nothing out of the ordinary. It hardly made her raise an eyebrow, for the actions at the time seemed harmless enough.
Up until the past week, that is.
Letters had arrived every night for six days straight. Inquiries, demanding Hermione's returned attention, commanding that she write back or even going so far as to request a meetup. Strangely sexual and uncomfortable phrases placed sporadically within the notes to drive home her discomfort. She told herself it was nothing: after all, Harry had an entire brood of fan girls who propositioned him at one time or another, why was this any different?
The only thing was – she couldn't figure out how to prevent them. She'd tried countless different spells; wards, barricading charms, floo channel blocks to make sure the flat was completely secure. By all intent and purposes, it was. But the person knew their way around protection charms better than most. At least well enough to slip a letter past hers each night.
Godric. She knew she had to tell someone. No matter how much she stubbornly wanted to handle things herself, this was becoming more ludicrous the further she thought about it.
Her pulse quickened.
There it was again.
A distinctive 'swoosh' of parchment gliding across the wooden floors underneath her entryway nearly made Hermione's hair stand on edge, the brunette immediately rising to her feet with automatic and bold determination quickly initiated. She exited her kitchen, walked the short distance across the hallway, and locked eyes on a single letter laying parallel to her front door. The note was sealed in a plain white envelope, with nothing written on the front or back to give a redeemable clue over who sent it. Typical tactics. Gingerly she picked up the late-night intrusion and quickly unfolded its contents to see what could be said this time around.
Hermione's heart sank at the very first glimpse.
Dots. Tiny droplets impeccably scattered, and one large smear across the top right-hand corner. Blood. Bright red, and from the looks of it, relatively fresh; its glossy wet glint across the tattered parchment producing a violent memo able to be interpreted loud and clear.
Hermione's own blood began to boil as her chest constricted with pure anxiety-induced adrenaline. Whose could it possibly be? Surely not someone she knew. Surely not a friend's.
Scare tactics. That's all this was. It likely wasn't even real.
Her breathing slowly steadied as she talked herself down with the attempted rationalization, forcing her pupils to hone in on the words written in large, sloppy, black scrawl.
My Dearest Hermione,
Ignoring me will get you nowhere, my love. Didn't I tell you in my last letter? There's no use in putting up that silly little spell anymore; I know them all. This wretched Muggle building can barely handle your magic as is, no sense making the walls exude with it.
I miss you so much.
That skin-tight jumper you wore yesterday to the train station with those two best friends of yours – I dreamt about it last night. You looked so lovely with your hair down around your shoulders. But for the love of Dumbledore himself, you need to ditch the carrot top. Watching that pathetic sod lean in to kiss you, only to have you all but completely snubbed the entire gesture by turning away... I almost felt bad. Almost. You know you should be with me, darling.
Good luck with your promotion at work tomorrow. You'll do great. You always do.
I left a token for you to remember me by right outside your flat. In case you ever question just how serious I am about you, always remember this.
I know they're your favorite.
Abandoning the letter on her hallway table, Hermione tried to overcome the innate onsets of hyperventilation, the walls feeling like they had all but completely closed in around her trembling frame. This was bad. Worse than anything the person had done before. The shaking was unignorable now, her knuckles white from clutching to her wand so tightly.
She looked through the peephole of her door. Nothing. Not a single thing to see from where she stood. She needed a closer look.
Before her senses could argue, she reached to grab hold of the cold metal knob, keeping her wand poised and ready for attack as she swung open the front door.
The scene waiting for her on the other side could only classify as something straight from one of the poorly directed horror films her dad loved to watch – graphic, cruel, sadistic.
Hermione clutched a hand over her mouth to muffle to scream that escaped without possible avoidance. A scream quickly morphing itself into a violent and terrified sob, her eyes growing wet with moisture which began to develop at either corner.
No, no, NO! This wasn't happening. This was impossible. She clung to the doorframe with one hand for support, attempting to process the turmoil laid out before her.
She hardly even noticed her neighbors down the hallway appear suddenly from around the corner, both dressed as if they were returning from a late night dinner, the young woman clutching a styrofoam to-go box while the man dug in his trouser pocket for what seemed to be a set of keys.
"Matt, oh my god! Look! What is that thing!?"
"Fucking Christ! I-I don't... oh God. Fuck. Jade, go inside... Now! Call the police."
Hermione hardly overheard the hectic exchange or took notice of the man walking up to where she stood petrified within her doorframe.
"Miss…miss, are you alright? Are you hurt? What happened?"
She didn't reply back. She didn't blink. She didn't even breathe, likely for a solid two minutes straight. Her eyes remained fixated; her mind almost shutting down from the brutal murder scene coated across her welcome mat, outrageous words from the forcibly delivered letter dancing within her mind.
In case you ever question just how serious I am about you.
I know they're your favorite.
It was young. Small, too. Probably still within the age range considered to be a teenager, though it was hard to be certain with the large knife wounds slashed across its face to match equally with every other lesion around its fragile body. The gory scene was utterly vile; almost enough to make her spew sickness everywhere. Nearly enough to cause her knees to buckle underneath the weight of her now impossibly heavy body.
Completely enough making her forget that a muggle man was now staring dumbfounded at the mangled body of a dead house-elf as she bit back sobs.
They had memory alteration spells for that.
But to fix this? No, for this they had nothing.
A/N: Gahhhh. So yeah, fucked up beginning – I know. Don't hate me quite yet. Like I said already, this story's gonna be kinda dark to start with... I promise further chapters will be much more eventful. I just had to get a lot of information out in this one.
Had the idea for this while I was sitting in class (apparently NOT paying attention whatsoever) and once I began writing, I couldn't stop. Don't entirely know how I feel about it just yet. Definitely stepping out of my comfort zone here, in lots of different ways, but I wanted to try my hand at a not-so-incredibly fluffy fanfic. It's my first ever Dramione story, so hopefully, I'm capable of doing them justice.
Let me know what you guys think so far. Feedback is always incredibly appreciated :)
Thanks for taking the time to read and review!