1) Follows canon up to the end of the Second Wizarding War.
2) Pairing is Dramione AND Fenmione, and MAY end up involving some Fenrir/Draco scenes, but whether this story will be just a poly fic, or a full triad, will be determined as the story goes along.
3) Chapter lengths may vary wildly. Some may be close to 5k words, some may not even make 2k. I have learned not to force, or curtail, chapters based on word counts, because that can stall creativity and kill motivation. Updates will be sporadic.
Fenrir Greyback Fancast: Jason Momoa
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, or any affiliated characters and make no profit, in any form, from this story.
Hermione halted, midstride. Her eyes flashing wide, she tilted her head and listened. She could not possibly have heard what she thought she had—she was in the middle of a bloody forest for pity's sake!
Just as she was ready to dismiss the first sound as nothing more than her imagination, she heard it again. The cry of an infant, clear as a bell!
In utter disbelief, she turned her head to scan her surroundings. She'd encountered no one else as she combed the thickly wooded area for some of the rarer potions ingredients—Draco might be the one serving in the post of Potions professor, but he was terrible in natural environments. She suspected he'd still not gotten over their first year adventure with Hagrid in the Forbidden Forest. But not another soul had she come across out here; not another witch or wizard in a similar pursuit, nor a single Muggle hiker.
She heard it again. Furrowing her brow, she started toward the sound.
She wound around thick brush and through trees, circling a massive hill . . . . Until the sound drew her to the base of that hill. The entrance was nearly blocked by yet more brush, but it was a natural growth, not something placed deliberately to obscure the hollow that led inside.
Narrowing her eyes in suspicion, she illuminated her wand and headed in. If this turned out to be some monster that mimicked the sound of a baby's cry to lure its victims, it would be sorry!
She made her way along a narrow passage, bracing when the pocked walls around her bloomed outward into a full-blown cavern. Her shoulders slumped and the tension drained out of her as she looked about and found no monster, at all.
But there was a wriggly bundle against the far wall, set on what looked like a hastily thrown together bed of leaves, grass and other forest debris.
As she hurried toward the bizarre little nest, she tried to make sense of what she was seeing. There were no supplies here, nothing that suggested anyone else was here, or had been here. She'd hoped that some vagabond making their home in the woods had simply stepped away to . . . bathe, or hunt, perhaps. Hell, she'd roughed it for a near-year when necessity demanded it, who was she to judge if someone was stuck raising their child in such a place?
Yet, there were no other signs of a grown person staying here. No matter how she looked at it, it seemed someone had simply placed this child in here and walked away. How disgustingly barbaric!
The bundle cried again while she lowered herself to her knees and set aside her wand. "Okay, okay," she said, her voice gentle and sing-song as she reached shaking fingers toward the weighty swaddle of fabric.
She was nervous as hell, and quite sure if she didn't get a grip, the child would pick up on it, so she continued speaking in a soft tone as she slid her hands beneath the baby and lifted it from the nest. "It's all right, nothing to be scared of, little one. I'm just your . . . friendly forest witch, coming to check on you." She winced at her own choice of words, grateful the little thing wasn't old enough to understand her—an abandoned Muggle child would probably be even more terrified of their situation, were they to wake up and hear they'd been found by 'a witch.'
Shifting to sit cross-legged, she settled the bundle in her lap. Hermione smoothed back a loose end of the blanket and a wealth of dark, gleaming curls that seemed unfair for one so young to have. And she braced herself for a panicked scream from the child when they saw an unfamiliar face—God, the child was a few months old, did they even recognize faces this early? She had no idea!—but it never came. Instead, the button-nosed little thing crinkled impossibly dark blue eyes up at her and let out a giggle.
Oh, it was as though someone reached in and punched her right in the heart!
Before she really knew what she was doing, Hermione hugged the child to her. "Oh, my poor little thing! Who in their right mind could abandon you?"
She already knew what she had to do. But . . . . No, no. She had to bring this child to some sort of agency, or a hospital, but . . . . Wasn't the Muggle 'system' supposed to be atrocious? No fit place for a child and all that? A hospital would have to report the infant to the police, who'd call in an agency and bam, child in the system!
Sooner than she could really think to stop herself, she pocketed her wand and climbed to her feet with the child in her arms. "Well, until I can think of a suitable alternative, you'll just . . . have to come with me. It'll . . . it'll be fine," she said as she pivoted on her heel and started out of the cavern.
Pausing for barely a heartbeat, she looked inside the bundle. "Well, at least it's a relief you don't need to be changed, yet, little lady." Carrying around a sopping wet and uncomfortable infant, she imagined, would only make this entire scenario more nerve-rattling for them, both.
The freshly killed deer tossed over his shoulder and a bota bag full of milk he'd scavenged from a farm on the edge of the forest dangling from his hip, Fenrir made his way back toward the cave. He expected she'd be awake by now, but he didn't hear her crying, so perhaps she was still . . . .
A scent winding the forest near the cave's obscured entrance caught his attention. But he dismissed it. He'd not encountered this scent in, what? Five years, now? Yes, yes, just his imagination.
Yet, the closer he got to the entrance, the stronger the scent became. How was this even possible? Holding in a curious animal sound, he dropped the deer to the ground and all but tore the stupid bloody tree out of his way as he barreled into the cave.
Her bed was empty . . . . In disbelief, he crossed to the nest, anyway, tossing aside the leaves and brush—as though he expected to find her hiding beneath a blinking blade of grass, or something! He knew he shouldn't have brought her here, this forest was so closely edged by human towns, Muggle and Wizard, alike, but with the full moon so close, he'd had little choice.
Anger and worry mixed in his gut as he raked his fingers through his hair, trying to figure what to do.
Then he remembered . . . . This scent was here. It was everywhere . . . . Lowering his face toward the destroyed bed of leaves, he took a deep, long sniff.
Laughing at the strange irony, he spoke with a growl edging his words. "Oh, I don't know how you did this, Mudblood, but I'm coming for you."
Hermione hadn't felt quite comfortable having to take the baby out of the forest on foot, but she could hardly Apparrate with the little girl in her arms. She had no idea what that disorienting type of magical travel might do to an infant.
She thought it was at least fortunate that the blanket was nondescript and clean-looking. She wouldn't get any funny looks from passersby for, say, toting around a baby some bedraggled mess of fabric. It probably seemed unusual enough that she didn't have a carriage for the child.
She just needed to get some supplies for the baby and get home . . . .
It was a dreadfully long walk from the entrance of the woodland park to her neighborhood, but to her surprise, the girl didn't fuss. She thought perhaps the baby simply liked the motion of being carried about. Oh, but she wasn't as light as she looked. Hermione found she had to stop more than once and shift the child's weight in her arms.
After what seemed far too long, she reached the shopfronts the preceded her block. Holding in a sigh—this was a shop her parents frequented, too. Bloody hell. She'd need to come up with answers, quick, if she came across any familiar faces.
. . . . Which she did the moment she set foot inside. Old Mr. Mullens—good Lord, she couldn't believe he was still alive, let alone working!—was behind the register. His kind, wrinkled face lit up the moment he saw her.
Maybe this was a good thing. The man was easily a great-grandfather, he might know what was best to get the child.
"Miss Hermione!" Mr. Mullens rounded the counter, his eyes immediately on the bundle in the young woman's arms. But no sooner did he reach her than did give her a suspicious once-over. "This wouldn't happen to be your baby, now would it?"
The witch counted her blessings that the sound of disbelief she sputtered sounded so very genuine. The child, with her sleek jet curls and her golden-olive skin, looked nothing like Hermione. "Of course, not! No, Mr. Mullens, a friend of mine had an emergency and asked that I watch her daughter. But she was in such a mad rush, she literally forgot to leave the baby's things with me. I was hoping you could point me in the right direction for . . . diapers and milk and the like."
"And what might this little lady's name be?" he asked as he expertly dodged the infant's attempt to grab at his bulbous nose—in only the way a grandfatherly-type could. It was clear from the sparkle in the old man's eyes that he'd played this game many times before.
Hermione spit out the first baby girl's name that popped to mind. "Elora."
He laughed. "Like in Willow? 'S my daughter's favorite film!"
Relieved, she nodded. Oh, he's buying this! Then again, she realized he had no real reason to question a word that left her mouth. "Exactly like in Willow. It's her mother's favorite film, too!"
Mr. Mullens grinned widely, crinkling the bridge of his nose at the baby—who giggled and made another sloppy grab for his face. "Well, now, Miss Elora, let's get you sorted, shall we? C'mon this way."
Smiling, Hermione followed him through the shop.
By the time she arrived home, she didn't know what weighed her down more, the infant she'd been carrying for what seemed hours, now, or the shopping bags loaded with diapers, infant formula, bottles, 'first stage' baby food—AKA multi-coloured pureed mush—and a few multi-packs of onesies. Pink and lilac onesies, because Elora was a little girl, after all, and Mr. Mullens refused to let the witch purchase any unfeminine colours for the child.
Slamming the living room door shut behind her, Hermione dropped the bags and pressed her back against the wood. Slipping down to sit on the floor, she held Elora in her lap.
After a moment to catch her breath, she nodded. Though she was an impossibly good baby—not a peep out of her so far, except to laugh when she'd managed to catch Mr. Mullens by the tuft of hair peeking out of his right ear—Hermione knew it wouldn't be long before hunger or a soiled diaper turned this child into a right little hellion.
"All right, you," she said as she lay the baby on the floor, grateful for the thick, soft carpet, and then tore open the pack of diapers. "Let's get you changed and fed, yeah?"
Draco shook his head as he made his way up the front steps of Hermione's building. She bloody well knew he wasn't comfortable coming here! He was . . . okay with Muggles, now, but he still didn't feel wholly at ease in the Muggle-side of town, as he called it.
Just as he was reached the intercom—and was about to press the button on the infernal thing—the couple who lived across the hall from Granger were coming through the front door. He flashed them an awkward grin as they allowed him inside.
They seemed nice enough people . . . he was just grateful they'd never invited him and Hermione over to their place, or anything like that. He still had no idea how to handle Muggle small-talk, let alone dinnertime chat.
Sighing and shaking his head—this was what he got for falling in love with a bloody a Muggleborn, after all—he wound up the staircase toward her flat on the second floor. She was going to be sorry for making him come all this way. The woman was supposed to have met up with him in Diagon Alley an hour ago!
He scowled. Perhaps he should go easy on her. After all, she'd been out gathering potions ingredients for him, maybe time had simply gotten away from her, and of course she'd probably had to stop home to clean up after running around the ruddy wilds all day.
His shoulders slumping, Draco laughed at himself. She'd gone and broken him, hadn't she?
Knocking, he called through the door, "Granger? You home?"
For a moment, no response came. After just long enough to make him think she wasn't home, he heard, "Draco?" She sounded oddly—suspiciously—surprised.
"You expecting someone else?"
"No, of course not!"
His eyes narrowed as he stared at the door. He thought he heard rustling and scrambling on the other side, as though she was hurrying to put things away. "Then let me—"
The door opened before he could finish the sentence, but Hermione only poked out her head. "I know I was supposed to meet you, I'm so sorry. But, um, raincheck? Something's come up that I really can't—"
"What's going on Granger?"
"One of my friends had an emergency, asked me to watch her baby tonight."
He arched a brow. Bloody hell, too much time with Pansy when he was younger had him suspicious of every woman he'd dated ever since. "Really?"
With a roll of her eyes, she opened the door wider. There in her arms was, indeed, an infant in one of those weird baby-shirts.
"I'm so sorry," she said, again. "Everything happened so fast—one minute I was out gathering your ingredients, the next, I was home with this little one in my arms." Wow, she'd actually managed to explain without a single false word tumbling from her lips.
"Okay, yeah." Draco nodded, looking from her to the baby and back. "Um, tomorrow night?"
Hermione's eyes shot wide, but she quickly covered it, instead turning her attention on shifting Elora's weight in her arms. She didn't know what she'd do about the baby in the next twenty-four hours—there was every chance she'd still have her adorable little charge by then, as Elora really had nowhere else to go—but if she didn't agree, Draco would question things.
She'd figure out something, she always did.
"Yeah, o' course. Tomorrow night sounds good."
Pursing his lips, he held her gaze as he suggested, "I could help you, watch her, maybe?"
The witch gasped, her heart skipping a beat at his abrupt offer. But he tended to not leave until the next morning when he came over, and she couldn't imagine explaining to him, 'oh, well, yes, of course this child I'm unexpectedly watching for a friend who's name I've not even mentioned has to stay overnight, too!' . . . Because that wouldn't seem strange.
She smirked and nodded at the baby, who was trying to reach for Draco's pale hair. "I'm not sure you'd like that. This little charmer's a Muggle baby, I'm afraid," she said in a secretive whisper.
His brows drew upward and he backpedaled half a step. "Oh. Then maybe you're right."
She feigned a scoffing sound. This was exactly the response she was hoping for from him, but she couldn't show that. He knew it still bothered her that he wasn't comfortable around Muggles, but it bothered her more when he hid things from her—even if that thing was how uncomfortable he was around Muggles.
"Draco Malfoy!" Hermione shook her head at him. "What are you going to do if we have children someday and one of them happens to be a Muggle? There's no guarantee our offspring would be wizards or witches, you know."
He puffed out his cheeks and exhaled as he shrugged. "Well, I suppose I would—"
"They'd be a Squib, technically then, wouldn't they? What do you think of that?"
"I would love them from a distance."
Hermione burst out laughing in spite of herself. He was only lucky she could tell he was joking from the way one corner of his mouth curved upward ever so slightly. "You're a terrible man!"
Snickering, he leaned in, kissing her as boldly as he dared with the baby staring at them the whole bloody time. "Serves you right for falling in love with a terrible man."
"Mm-hmm, I suppose it does. And I will see that terrible man tomorrow night, yeah?"
Biting his lip, he nodded as he started walking backward through the corridor. "Yeah. You sure you don't need help?"
"I'm sure, but it means a lot that you offered."
Nodding again, he smiled. "G'night, Granger."
"G'night, Malfoy." After she watched him disappear into the stairwell, she closed her door and locked it.
With a sigh, she looked down at Elora. If she didn't know any better, she'd think the baby girl—yes, the one currently trying to grab at her lips as though she could pluck them off the witch's face—was giving her a scolding expression.
"Oh, yeah, Missy? What was I supposed to do, tell him I found you abandoned in a forest and brought you home? He'd think I've gone mad."
"Pfffffft,"Elora sputtered in response before letting out a giggle.
Shaking her head, Hermione laughed. "Easy for you to say. All right, bath and bed. We can do this!"
Retrieving her wand from where she'd dropped it when they'd first come in, she concentrated. With a wave and a flick of the instrument, she pointed to the nearby end table. Though she winced as the polished wood groaned and shifted, eventually the piece of furniture shaped itself into a cradle.
She let out a sigh and nodded. With another flick, she lifted the cradle from the floor and directed it through her open bedroom door.
In the bathroom moments later, she sat on the floor and laid a towel before her on which to place Elora. Now that they were winding down for the night—and she imagined the baby would have her up a few times before her alarm woke her in the morning, and oh dear Lord, she would have to call out sick tomorrow!—she was exhausted.
Swallowing a yawn, she started the tub and turned her attention to undressing the baby. "Wow. I can't imagine how full-time mothers do this. I've been a mum for barely half a day and I swear I'm ready to fall asleep sitting up!"
Only after the words had fallen from her lips, and the baby had grabbed hold of her fingers, making her aware how tiny Elora's chubby little hands were, did Hermione realize what she'd said.
An uncertain smile playing on her lips, she scooped the baby up, holding her so they were eye-level. "I don't know if that would work out at all, but . . . maybe it could?" There seemed something special about this little girl. Hermione couldn't put her finger on it, but she nearly felt as though she and Elora had bonded, already. "Maybe I could be your mum."
Making a cooing sound, Elora grabbed hold of Hermione's nose.
Though she laughed at the gesture, Hermione was as warmed by her own notion as she was terrified by it. Her? A mum?
Oh, there was no way she was ready for this!
Fenrir reached the edge of the forest, frowning as Hermione Granger's scent drifted toward the Muggle town, where it would undoubtedly be swallowed up by the other smells of the city and people. Frowning, he let his gaze wander the street in the direction her scent trailed.
He stroked his beard in thought. It would be difficult, yes, but not wholly impossible to track the Mudblood.
Holding in a growl, he started toward that dreadfully paved area. He didn't hold much hope that he'd find them tonight, but he'd get a lead and that would have to do.
The full moon was in two days. He needed to move fast, or the witch was going to make a very startling realization about the child she'd stolen.