THIS IS A REPOST. I originally posted this fic a while back, pulled it because all my Dramione-inclusive plunnies died on me. But now they've been stirring back to life, so I decided to give them second chance.
Those who read these works before my mass Dramione Deletion (or who read these works in my Unfinished Dramione PDF), please note that aside from minor changes and editing fixes, the content of the previously posted chapters has not changed. All returning Dramiones will update weekly until all previously-available chapters are posted. At that point, the fics will continue until completion, but will fall under my 'sporadic updates' label.
Fic Specific Note: Portions of chapters 4 and 7 were 'lost', and thus will differ slightly from their original posting, but will cover the same basic flow of events.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, or any affiliated characters, and make no profit, in any form, from this fic.
A Pretty Ring
"Don't worry, mum, I'll get it," Hermione said, smiling as she knelt to pick up the spilt assortment of jewelry and scoop it back into its fallen box.
After her awkward breakup with Ron, the Weasleys' decision to move to Romania to distance themselves from the emotional aftermath of the War, and Harry leaving for the summer to check on the Dursleys, she was so grateful to have her parents home—their memories restored—that she'd have scrubbed all the floors in the house with a toothbrush, had they asked. Honestly, she knew Harry was trying to keep himself occupied so he wouldn't focus on Ron and Ginny's absence in their lives, but he was also genuinely worried about his relatives, after everything. How he could manage being such a good nephew when they were always so awful to him was beyond her.
As she swept up the mass of glittering metal into her hands, something stung her palm and she dropped it all, again. Hissing softly, she rubbed the pad of her thumb against the aching skin.
"Are you all right?" Her mother was to her instantly, pulling Hermione's other hand away to check. Clearly even being a teenage hero of a magical war didn't stop her mum from fussing over her.
"I'm fine," Hermione said, gently prying her hand from her mother's grip. With an encouraging grin, she turned back to picking up the mess.
A single item had popped free of the tangle to sit alone on the floor. Hermione felt oddly as though the thing was actually staring at her. Biting her lip, she kept her gaze on the gleaming band of gold and onyx as she blindly scooped the rest of the accessories back into the jewelry box.
"Oh, I'd forgotten about that," Mum said softly, her voice light as she picked up the ring. When she turned it in her fingers, Hermione spied a pair of small blue stones set into the surface on either side of the bit of onyx.
Brow furrowing, the girl tipped her head as she watched her mother examine the piece of jewelry. "I don't think I've seen that one before."
"That's because I never wore it." Smiling serenely, her mum set the ring on her palm. "I think I was always a little afraid to. This is a family heirloom, after a fashion, and I was always worried I'd lose it. Your granddad gave this to me. His father brought it back from Egypt when he was stationed there with the . . . oh I forgot what Division. Worthless piece of costume junk he got from a street merchant, but your granddad loved it. Would have worn it, if he hadn't thought it too feminine."
Hermione settled her hands around her mother's. "Nothing is worthless when it belonged to someone important to you."
Meeting her gaze, her mother said, "Why don't you take it? All it's going to do is collect dust in my jewelry box."
"Oh, Mum, I couldn't!"
"My practical-minded, eighteen-year-old daughter just had to explain sentimental value to me. Go on, I think he would have liked you to have it."
Her mouth pulling to one side, Hermione tipped her head as she looked at it once more. The ring actually was quite pretty . . . and the design was unique. It might not be as special as the trinkets her friends at Hogwarts inherited from their families, but it was important to her mum, and her granddad; that was enough.
"Almost nineteen, thank you very much. And okay." She held out her right hand, fingers splayed.
Measuring by sight, her mother took a guess and slipped the ring onto Hermione's middle finger.
A jumble of images flashed through Hermione's mind. Like snapshots . . . the tunnels that ran everywhere beneath Hogwarts—known to everyone, now, the way all secrets at Hogwarts became known to everyone—Draco Malfoy, Harry, a dark skinned stranger, with eyes an oddly familiar shade of blue, serpents. In a dizzy rush, each picture zipped across her mind's eye, there, and gone so fast she couldn't be certain she actually saw any of it, at all.
"Perfect fit," Mum said, smiling.
Hermione gave herself a shake; clearly only a split-second had passed. Too short a time to see the things she thought she had. Blinking, Hermione flexed her fingers, eyeing the ring. She couldn't feel anything from it . . . the metal rested against her skin, no unsettling vibe, no dark aura.
The piece of jewelry was utterly lifeless, like any other Muggle-crafted item.
She breathed a sigh of relief, forcing a smile so that her mother might remain oblivious. Whatever she saw was a figment of her imagination. Her personal history with Horcruxes must've made her wary of antique jewelry pieces, costume junk or otherwise, she reasoned. She needed sleep—before long, it'd be time to board the train for her final year at Hogwarts, and she didn't want to miss a single second of this last journey.
"You're right," Hermione said, shrugging off the bizarre tangle of mental images. "Perfect fit."
Hermione started awake, realizing the Hogwarts Express was pulling in. She shifted to stretch, but a weight pinned one shoulder. Turning to look, she saw Harry had nodded off as well, his head tipped to rest against her. He had been worn out from putting up with his aunt and uncle—oddly, he'd pointed out that Dudley wasn't so bad, anymore.
She'd simply not realized she was worn out, as well. Probably from putting off her packing until the last minute, and then tackling the lot of it in a blind rush.
Giggling softly, she shrugged her shoulder, nudging him. "C'mon, Harry. We're arriving."
Harry lifted his head slow, blinking drowsily at her. "Hmm? Oh, sorry."
She hadn't seen his green eyes so close in a long while. For a quick moment, she was reminded of that jumbled flash of images from the other day. Hermione was jarred by the strange, stilted realization that her best friend had grown quite handsome over the years she'd known him.
His brow furrowed and he sat up fully, holding her gaze. "What's wrong?"
Blinking, she lowered her attention to her ring, twisting it on her finger as she spoke. "Nothing, just um . . . I know you weren't planning on coming back to Hogwarts. I know you're only here because of me, so I just wanted to say thank you."
"You're welcome." After a moment, she still didn't look up. Frowning, Harry leaned very close to her face. "And Hermione?"
Finally, she lifted her gaze only to flinch, startled by his sudden closeness.
"Life's been hard enough for us, up until now." Breaking into a mischievous grin, he gently flicked her in the middle of her forehead.
She squeaked out a sound of surprise and lurched back, rubbing her fingertips over the faintly stinging skin.
"Let's try not to be so serious this last year, okay?"
Forcing a smile, she nodded.
Try as she might, she couldn't push aside a strange new awareness of Harry's closeness throughout the evening. She was equally aware of the moment Draco Malfoy entered the Great Hall and drifted past them to sit in a corner of the Slytherin table, by himself.
She wasn't certain how she knew it would be him strolling by when she glanced over her shoulder, she simply did. Yet, just as looking at Harry called to mind that jumbled mess of images, so, too, did gazing upon the Slytherin brat for the first time in the handful of months since the War.
Hermione tried not to look at Draco, but her eyes wandered to him, regardless. The moment she thought to glance away, he shivered visibly and turned his head, catching her gaze.
He made no expression, merely staring back at her for a long moment before forcing a gulp and returning his attention to a plate of food in which he didn't appear very interested. Pansy and Blaise sat across from him, carrying on some animated discussion, while Goyle listened, chuckling as he stuffed his face. None of them appeared to notice Draco's wavering attention.
Some friends, she thought as she turned back to listen to more of Harry's plans to rebuild the Gryffindor Quidditch team and put the past as firmly behind them as possible. There was no way she would acknowledge that she actually felt a bit sorry for a Malfoy.
Later that night, Hermione tossed and turned for God only knew how long. She wasn't certain why she couldn't sleep, wasn't certain what she felt, being back at their beloved—magically reconstructed, so that no one could tell it was nearly turned into a giant pile of rubble—Wizarding school. Wasn't certain how she was really taking the Weasley clan's absence.
All she was certain of when she finally drifted off, was a faint tingling of the skin beneath her ring—she never felt inclined to remove it when she slept—and another flash of those same images. The tunnels, Malfoy, Harry, the dark stranger, serpents, oddly unlike the ones associated with Slytherin . . . .
Not green and silver, no, rich shades of gold and jet.
She shifted, her eyelids lifting slowly. Yet only a heartbeat ticked by before she realized that the comfortable chair against which she reclined was not a chair. Turning her head, she met the turquoise-shaded gaze of the dark skinned stranger. From his posture, Hermione got the distinct impression that he was quite tall when standing, glossy onyx hair fell to his shoulders, and he had full, wide lips, his jaw dusted with a perfect sprinkling of facial hair.
Her brow furrowed, giving her a drowsy expression as she looked at him. He ran his long fingers across her forearms in light, tickling strokes, and she tried to lean away from him, but found her body would not listen to her.
"Am I dreaming?"
He smiled, sitting up with a lazy air, so that his chest pressed to her back, again. "Of course you are." Bringing one arm around to cup his hand beneath her chin, he lowered that beautiful mouth to the side of her throat, his lips brushing her skin as he turned her head forward.
Hermione gasped, but not from the feel of his teeth and tongue dragging against her, not the sweet, but not-very-familiar sensation it sent washing through her. The chaise upon which they sat faced a gilded mirror—the border carved with strange-looking animal figures, and winged shapes—yet her reflection was not cradled by the reflection of the dark man with the pretty eyes, but by Draco Malfoy.
"I don't understand," she whispered, even as her body relaxed against the stranger's of its own volition. "Why is he there?"
He chuckled ignoring her shock as his hands began to wander beneath her clothes—the hands of the pale-haired young man in the mirror mimicking his motions, exactly. "Because you desire him."
Forcing a gulp down her throat, she shook her head, unable to look away from the spectacle of Draco's hands moving beneath her clothes—one slipping down between her thighs as the other slid up to cup her breast. The stranger's fingers moved against her, stroking and working these most sensitive bits of her, and Hermione felt herself shudder beneath his touch. Every inch of her skin grew warm, tingly, and it took extraordinary effort to keep her thoughts from dulling.
"I do not desire him."
Once more, he chuckled as he pulled her more tightly against him, still. "Oh, yes, you do. I have seen it; buried, yes, but there, all the same. I bid you take him."
She tried to ignore the faster stroking of the fingers between her thighs, the sweet, rough pinches of the fingers teasing one hardened nipple. "Take him? I don't understand." Tried, but failed, a soft moan tearing from her throat.
"I have seen him through you, and I desire him as well. You will have him for me. I will ask things of you, Nephthys, this is only the first."
"Nephthys?" Hermione struggled to pull away, despite how good this felt, despite that her reflection didn't put up any such objections to Draco's touch. "My name is—"
"I know what your name is, but this is what I shall call you. And you will do the things I ask of you. You will grant me moments of random, thoughtless action. Or I will—"
Hermione bolted up in bed. Gasping for breath, she wrenched the ring from her finger and slammed it down on the bedside table. She did not sleep the rest of the night, staring at the ring, almost without blinking, until the sun rose.
It didn't give off the faintest ripple of energy. No negative vibration, just as before. The dream might be a figment of her imagination.
"I wouldn't worry, Miss Granger, I've had everyone on staff take a look at it. Your ring is perfectly safe."
Hermione nodded, scooping up the ring and tucking it away in her pocket. Of course, she'd not shared with Headmistress Professor McGonagall precisely why she wanted the ring examined, only citing her previous experiences with bewitched, and Voldemort-containing items as cause enough for concern.
Frowning, she turned to the one place that was always comforted her.
Harry found her in the library. Honestly—they'd been back a day, and she was already so immersed in studies that she was about to miss dinner.
"Nephthys," she muttered as he drew close to her table. "Finally, there you are! Wife-consort of Set. Set, god of storms, the desert, and . . . chaos." Hermione's voice was hollow as she said the last word. Moments of random, thoughtless action.
The skin where she ring had been itched suddenly, feeling strangely empty. She nearly reached to take the damned thing from her pocket, but stopped herself.
"C'mon, Hermione. Enough studying, time to eat."
"Hmm?" She looked up, startled. "Oh, right, okay, Harry." Closing the tome before her, Harry beat her to picking it up and turned away to place it in the nearest empty spot on the shelf.
As she pushed up to stand, she felt a searing on the inside of her wrist. Biting her lip, she raised her arm and pulled down the cuff of her sleeve. There, on her skin was a symbol. She wasn't certain what it was, only that it was clearly a hieroglyph and resembled a few she'd seen beside Set's name in that book.
Life's been hard enough for us, up until now. . . . Let's try not to be so serious this last year, okay? Harry's words from yesterday rang in her ears, stopping her from showing him the mark, shutting down any thought of telling him what she was really doing in the library just now.
The searing worsened and she stuffed her hand into her pocket as Harry turned back to her. She let him lead her from the library, struggling, one-handed, in the confined space of her pocket, to pull the ring back on.
As the metal slid into place against her skin, the searing stopped.
Stepping into the Great Hall, she was once more acutely aware of Harry beside her . . . and of Malfoy sitting at the Slytherin table, elbows propped, once more, on either side of an untouched plate as he stared glumly at nothing in particular.
Random, thoughtless actions. Chaos . . . her mind whispered. You will have him for me.
Squaring her shoulders, she marched into the room. She would find a way to figure out what was going on, and she would deal with it without ruining an eighth year he was only taking because of her. But first, she would get Set off her back.
"Hermione? Where are you going?"
She only shook her head, continuing straight to the Slytherin table and pushing some fourth year out of her way to sit facing Draco. Blaise and Pansy stopped another of their ridiculous, prattling conversations and Goyle looked ready to choke on his mouthful of mush in surprise. Draco turned slow, fixing wide eyes on her.
"Merlin's beard, Granger! Trying to give the lot of us heart attacks?"
Her expression determined, she decided to strike before he could object. Hands shooting forward, she cupped his face and pulled him close, pressing her lips to his.
He grasped her wrists, intent on pulling her hands away, but he froze, uncertain what to do. He'd not been prepared for this . . . she'd probably been dared to do this. But he also wasn't prepared for the pressure of her mouth softening, or for her lips parting as she drew the breath from him, causing him to shudder in her grasp.
She lurched backward, as surprised as he by that very last moment.
For a few heartbeats, they only stared at each other, painfully aware of the silence in their immediate vicinity
"Granger, bloody hell!" Draco finally forced himself to say, plastering a scowl in place.
"I . . . I . . . ." She only mirrored his expression, hmphing and nodding sharping at him before standing from the table and storming off.
Draco met Harry's bewildered gaze, but he didn't know what to make of Hermione's insane action, either. Shrugging and shaking his head, Harry spun on his heel, taking off after his best friend as she darted out the doors.