Dragon in the Lions' Den

1.Victory and the Spoils of War

"ARVADA KEDAVRA!!" Harry Potter bellowed in a voice Hermione barely recognized. Although they'd all used the unforgivable curses more times than they could count during the nearly 2 years they fought the Great War, Hermione Granger didn't miss Harry cringe as he said the killing words. They still weren't used to taking lives, and never would be. This time, however, would be the most significant life they could have taken, the Dark Lord, Voldemort himself. Hermione and Ron Weasley were still chanting the ancient words that dislodged the final pieces of Voldemort's soul, while the bound it to a gilded cup that would be destroyed once they took it to the Department of Mysteries at the Ministry.

Two hours later, Aurors, Order Members (the Golden Trio were both) and ministry personnel were going over the battlefield rounding up Death Eaters. Others were assessing the wounded, on both sides. Others still were counting and identifying the dead. Hermione didn't know how many comrades, friends and enemies alike had fallen. She didn't want to know. She herself had taken out at least 7 Death Eaters, not counting her participation in the demise of Lord Voldemort. Of all of their enemies, the last death was the only one she truly felt no remorse about. For the first time since she entered Hogwarts when she was twelve, she would finally be able to live a free life.

As she made her way through the grounds near Godric's Hollow, she found herself face to face with two familiar mugs that brought back memories, and not the pleasant type. Wand firmly pointed at the two young Death Eaters, she noted that they, too, were in a defensive pose. Don't they know that they lost? She asked herself. These two never were very bright. Well, if they'd prefer to die fighting…

"Crabbe, Goyle. This certainly isn't a pleasure" she said icily to the beefy young men. They were part of a trio while in Hogwarts that was villain to the Golden Trio's hero.

"Well if it isn't the Gryffindor mudblood. Fancy seeing you here" Goyle sneered at her, anger glinting in his eyes.

She laughed mirthlessly. "I see Malfoy has trained you well" she spat. "Silly boys. Do you think that name still bothers me after all this time? It's more like a term of endearment now."

"Shut it, Granger. You don't stand a chance now, there are two of us and only little old you. I don't see Potty or Weasel around to save you" Crabbe said menacingly.

"Yes, yes" she agreed, waving her hand as if to dismiss these useless facts. "Two on one. 10 Points to Slytherin for figuring that out so quickly."

"Any last words, Granger, before we kill you?"

"Just so you know, my practice duels are with Harry and Ron. Together" she said conspiratorially. "And I always win." She looked at them for a minute, watching as they registered her words, and she grinned slyly. Bowing her head, the universal signal for a duel, she growled "Shall we dance, boys?

Before they even had a chance to figure out what was going on, she yelled "Expelliarmus" and silently threw a shield charm on herself. Two wands care flying to her awaiting hands.

"Evanesco" she murmured, and they disappeared.

Crabbe and Goyle looked furious, and they moved together in a fleshy wall, preparing to inflict damage the only way they had left – with their hands.

"Duplicitas Stupefy!" and both young men were rendered motionless on the ground.

"Duplicitas Encarcerous" she said, and they were tied up.

A cold smile lit her face, never reaching her eyes as she appraised them.

"How Malfoy ever tolerated your ignorant presence I will never know. Even now, you underestimate me, yet he never did. I hope you enjoy Azkaban" she said in a conversation tone. She bowed slightly, a slight dismissal of good breeding.

"Dawlish!" she cried "two for transport."

"Got it, Granger" a man called back, walking her way.

"Oh, treat these boys especially nice" she said sarcastically "they like to gang up on girls and use their fists."

Dawlish nodded and she walked away, deciding to look for Harry and Ron. Faintly, she heard their strained voices, and she turned in their direction, a real smile on her face. 'My boys' she gushed to herself 'we finally did it!' Her pace was leisurely until she heard a scream, the voice so familiar it tore her in two. She froze. It wasn't until she heard Ron speaking that she was able to move again, this time, she ran with all her might towards her best friends.

"Fancy seeing you here Malfoy, after all this time. Aren't you supposed to be dead?" Ron sneered.

"Merlin's balls, Ron, what are you doing?" Hermione yelled at her red-headed best friend. She caught the young man, wand raised and pointed at the prostrate blond Slytherin. Malfoy was slowing getting to his knees, his face bloodied and bruised. Her heart dropped when his grey eyes met hers. They didn't plead, nor did they beg. Ron looked not only startled by Hermione's interruption, but vaguely appalled at her language.

"It's Malfoy, Hermione!" Ron said gleefully, as if that explained it all. She knew as well as they did that Draco Malfoy was reportedly killed by Aurors with Snape after Dumbledore's death. That he was alive was more than amazing. Hermione knew that Ron and Harry would be all to thrilled to be able to bring the supposed Death Eater to justice.

Hermione looked at the young man next to Ron, unruly dark hair mussed, green eyes glinting in the wand-light. The lightening bold scar identified him immediately. Harry Potter refused to meet her gaze, as if he was ashamed.

"The ferret decided to show his ugly face, "he shrugged, wand pointed at Malfoy. "He's a wanted criminal."

Hermione was furious and she pulled her wand out, engaging in a defensive posture. "I asked you specifically, Potter" she seethed. The boys cringed. She didn't use their surnames unless she was uncommonly angry with them, and her wrath was not something that they wished to endure. "It you found Malfoy, or any other suspected Death Eater you were to tell me immediately! WAS I NOT CLEAR?"

Harry paused for a moment remembering the conversation he'd had with Hermione at the beginning of the war. He had wondered at the time, when she'd asked him to tell her, immediately, if anyone, Snape, Malfoy, showed up at the battles. He figured that it was just her overactive mind working, and being the skilled Auror that she was, she wanted all bases covered. Now, Harry thought, she obviously knew something he didn't.

"We owe him, Hermione," said Ron, not backing down.

Hermione stood in front of the injured blond man, wand still pointed at her best friends. Her message was clear, she was protecting Malfoy.

"Granger" Malfoy whispered softly. Her heart broke with his pain. No matter how hard she fought, tears spring to her eyes. She locked her vision with Malfoy once again. Honey brown met stormy grey. He nodded imperceptibly, and she turned back to 'her boys'.

"What did you do to him? Crucio?" she bellowed accusingly. Harry and Ron hung their heads in response. "We're no better than they are…" she mumbled. "Bloody Hell, Harry. We're Aurors. We're supposed to be the 'good guys'. We don't torture! He's wandless and he's injured. Did you bother to listen to him? Did you remember what I asked of you… the one request that I made?"

Her voice broke slightly, and she was immediately angry with herself. . She steeled herself again, but an errant tear escaped, and trailed down her cheek.

Harry did not miss her tear, or the annoying foot stomping that followed. She was trying to reel in her emotions. As logical minded as Hermione had always been, she was still a girl, ruled by emotion, much to her chagrin. He was this reaction from her before, mainly when her emotions got the best of her logic. He knew it frustrated her, but he also knew it was usually something of great importance that would cause such an emotional outburst.

"Get out of the way, Hermione," Ron said roughly, "I'm not done with him yet."

She drew up all her power, angered by his words. Sparks flew from her, eyes blazing. She pointed her wand directly at Ron's neck.

"Don't. Move. You will not. Touch. Him." She said in a quiet, yet forceful voice. "I'll kill you, Ron. I swear. I love you as my brother, but I will not hesitate to hurt you if you touch Draco again."

'Did she just say 'Draco'?" Harry though.

The three men reacted differently at her statement. Ron was stunned, and a bit scared. Harry was curious, if not angry. Malfoy was smirking.

"Stop it, Draco," she said softly, and the smirk fell from his face.

"Why, Hermione?" Harry asked simply.

"Yes, Hermione" Ron seethed angrily; pointing his was at one of his best friends, something they never did unless they were dueling. Malfoy tensed, drawing himself up despite his pain. He felt a reassuring hand at his shoulder and eased slightly. "Why should I stop? After all that this arrogant git has done to us. How is it you're defending him? Sleeping with enemy, you rotten slag? Traitor!"

Hermione tensed.

"Ron!" Harry yelled, offended.

A new voice joined the trio, and all were surprised at the conviction behind what was said. "You dare to speak to her like that, Weasel?" Malfoy raged at Ron, grey eyes stormy. "Everything she's done for you. You're a right wanker. Don't you ever speak to Hermione like that!"

"And just who are you exactly to tell us how to treat our friend?" Harry asked angrily, not understanding why Malfoy would defend Hermione at all.

There was a brief moment of silence, where Malfoy took his left hand and captured Hermione's easily. Their hands glowed from the rings adorning their ring fingers.

"I'm her husband, Potter" he said simply, voice tinged with both pride and pain.

The moment broke into utter chaos.