A/N: All things Harry Potter belong to JKR. I make no money from this.

Many thanks to my awesome beta, SouthernWitch69! Sun, you're the greatest!

Chapter One

What's Love Got To Do With It?

This was the end, and Viktor Krum knew it. This war had been going on for three years, and in a few minutes it would all be over. He was dying a slow and painful death. A death he felt he was entirely too young for, but thanks to Luna Lovegood, it was death nonetheless. She'd hit him with a Slicing Curse. Not necessarily fatal, but this one happened to hit him on his left side, going all the way across his chest, hitting both lungs at the same time. He felt like he was drowning.

Viktor looked up and vowed to take as many with him as he could before he went. The first thing he saw was Hermione Granger. Granger! Stupid bint! He'd offered her his protection if only she'd come to him, but no, she chose Weasley, saying she could never love a true Death Eater. Well, that was her mistake. He supposed his mistake was in believing that the Dark Lord would come out victorious. A flash of green light a few minutes ago proved that when Potter had defeated Voldemort once and for all.

The Death Eaters, however, were not going down without a fight. He watched in fascination as Bellatrix Lestrange battled Neville Longbottom. Viktor never knew the quiet mouse had it in him, but revenge was a great motivator. He shook his head in disappointment when, rather than kill the mad woman, Longbottom restrained her for the Aurors.

He looked once more across the battlefield, wondering in morbid curiosity who was killing whom or restraining, as the Order's case may be, when a move on the right of Hermione showed the youngest Weasley, fighting for all she was worth. Which, in Viktor's opinion, was not much.

An idea suddenly formed in his fever-ridden brain. Lifting his wand, he pointed it at the Weasley girl and said, "Viscerum Moribundus!" Knowing that she would, he watched as Hermione ran to her friend to see if she could help her. When Hermione looked around to see who'd cursed her friend, her eyes locked with Viktor's. Nodding his head in acknowledgement and grinning evilly, he raised his wand and sent the same curse towards Hermione, hitting her chest dead center. He smiled in satisfaction as she fell. Three minutes later, Viktor was dead.

Three Days Later

Most of the Order members were gathered at the newly built Hogwarts, trying to decide what to do about Hermione and Ginny's situation. It seemed that nobody knew exactly what the girls had been hit with. Because there were so many people in the room, both girls decided to wear their robes rather than the hospital gown that Madam Pomfrey tried to insist they wear.

When Severus Snape, the reinstated Potions professor, and Draco Malfoy, the new DADA professor, entered the hospital room, per Poppy Pomfrey's request, they were not met with happy greetings, but they were not tossed out either. Everyone had decided to treat the situation for what it was. They knew that the two Slytherins had actually spied for the Order, even after Albus had died, and they knew the reasons that Albus had been killed. That didn't mean they had to like the situation or the men, though, and so most didn't.

"Severus," Minerva said, "perhaps you can be of some assistance. Are you aware that Miss Granger and Miss Weasley were both cursed during the final battle?"

"I had heard so, yes. What is it that you need, Headmistress? A potion?"

Draco snarled at the room in general. They all acted as if Severus didn't exist unless they needed something from him. Even after everything he'd done and risked, they still treated him terribly, and that alone caused Draco to hate this group of hypocrites. He did concede, if only to himself, that Professor McGonagall did treat him decently, but she was the only one.

"Well, to be honest, we don't know exactly what we need." She looked to Poppy, who nodded her head in agreement, wringing her hands worriedly. "We are not sure what they were hexed with exactly. I'm afraid I have an idea, having heard Albus mention something like this many years ago."

"I even contacted St. Mungo's," Poppy explained, "but they are just as stumped as I am. It's as though their bodies are…" She couldn't continue.

"I see." Severus turned to Hermione and Ginny, who were both lying on a bed, seemingly in at least mild pain. "Did either of you see who cursed you or hear the words used?"

As Ginny shook her head, Hermione reluctantly spoke. "Yes, I saw. It was Viktor," she said, looking determinedly at her hands. She felt responsible for this situation and was more than a little hurt that Viktor would actually hex her.

"What? Viktor? Why didn't you say so?" Ron asked, obviously perplexed.

"I didn't think it mattered," she said with a sigh. "I tried to explain to the Healer what he said, but he said that there was no such curse." Hermione looked to Professor Snape. "He said, 'Viscerum Moribundus!' when he cursed us both."

Draco sucked in a deep breath and looked to Severus. "No…"

"What?" Ginny asked, panicked at the expression on Malfoy's face. "Do you know what sort of curse that is then?"

"Yes," Severus said morbidly. "It goes back many years. No one knows who created it precisely, but Grindelwald used it during his time to torture Muggles and Mud—er, Muggleborns. When the Dark Lord discovered it, he and Bellatrix Lestrange used to enjoy that form of torture and taught the rest of us how to use it. However, the curse can be cured with a potion, but it requires three drops of a newborn infant's blood."

Draco added, "He'd planned to make some followers have children to build his armies. This was a way to ensure the women would go along with it—have a child to be raised in his service or die a horrid death."

"Well, Fleur is due any day. I am sure she would allow us six drops, don't you think, Mum?" Ginny asked her mother hopefully.

"Oh, yes dear," Molly said, relief written all over her face. "I'm sure that would be no prob—"

"I am not finished," Severus said in an aggravated tone at being interrupted. "The problem is that the newborn has to come from the victim. If you conceive, the curse goes dormant, but it returns full force once the child is born."

Gasps and worried looks filled the room. Starting to enjoy the discomfort of these people somewhat, Severus went on. "And the baby has to be conceived by the victim's soul mate, as it were." He sat down and watched the commotion he knew would follow that statement with suppressed glee. He wasn't disappointed as everyone started talking at once.

"That's right," Draco put in. "And if the woman wasn't married to or seeing the man who was her soul mate, the poor sod was found and forced to help."

"Don't worry, Hermione. We'll make a baby," Ron declared.

Ignoring Ron and everyone else, Hermione looked to her former professor and asked, "What exactly happens if we don't conceive a child and take this potion? How can we even know for absolute sure who our soul mate even is?"

Before Severus could answer, Draco spoke up with obvious glee at Hermione's predicament. "Well, Granger, all of your internal organs will begin painfully shutting down one by one. Heart, lungs, kidneys…"

"Yes, I know what the internal organs are, Malfoy!"

"Ah, but did you know you only have ten days to actually conceive after you are cursed?"

"What? No! Three days have already gone by!" Hermione was starting to feel the panic that Ginny had been feeling all along. Deep down, she had really believed that once Professor Snape got there, he would be able to cure them.

Looking at the headmistress and speaking over the voices that were all speaking at one time, Severus said, "I suggest you cast the spell and see exactly who these girls' soul mates are so that we may attempt to contact them. I have a potion that will allow them to conceive on the first try."

Walking over to Hermione, Ron tried to reassure her. "Don't worry, love. Once we confirm what we already know, then we'll do what's necessary. I am here for you always; you know that."

Hermione merely nodded as she began watching her hands once more, not quite convinced that Ron was going to be able to help her. She did love him, but her soul mate? She was uncertain if she would be that lucky to have found and fallen for her soul mate.

Draco snorted again in amusement while watching the weasel trying to comfort the Mudblood, and then he looked to Harry Potter. He'd just taken it for granted that Potter would run to the youngest weasel's side, but he hadn't moved from his place against the far wall. Interesting.

"If I could have everyone's attention, please?" Professor McGonagall yelled above the noise. "I think the sooner we get started, the better. There isn't much time."

When she was positive that she had everyone's attention, the headmistress looked to Ginny. "Miss Weasley, this won't hurt a bit. I am just going to point my wand towards you and say the spell. The name of your soul mate will then appear."

"Why isn't this spell often used, Professor?" Hermione wanted to know. "I mean, it seems as if everyone would use it to ensure they married the right person."

"Because, Miss Granger, there is a bit of dark magic in this spell. However, it was often used, many years ago, for prearranging marriages. Most times, the soul mate would turn out to be someone the girl hated or was a stranger. This started causing many elopements, and eventually, the spell was no longer used."

"Oh, how terrible! I don't blame them! To have to marry someone you don't love or, worse, hate! To bring a baby into that sort of environment… I don't know if I could bear that, really… But I wouldn't have a choice, would I? If I want to live, I have to do it." She looked to Professor Snape for confirmation, and he nodded his agreement.

Draco laughed. "Don't worry, Granger, I can promise you that I won't be your soul mate! And besides, nobody said anything about marriage."

"Heaven forbid," Hermione said under her breath.

A little louder, Ron said, "Trust me. We weren't even worried about that, you ferret!"

"Now listen here, you—"

"Gentlemen! That will be enough!" Professor McGonagall fussed. "I think we have more important things to do just now than bicker with and insult one another, don't you?"

Nobody answered the headmistress, but everyone stopped talking. Satisfied, she turned her attention to Ginny once again. "As I was saying, there is no pain. Now, are you ready, dear?" Ginny shot a quick glance at Harry, who was standing by the window and looking outside, and nodded that she was. Professor McGonagall pointed her wand and said, "Ut Gemina Animae Declaratus Sit."

Suddenly, the words started forming before her eyes. Nobody said anything for one full minute when the name Draco Malfoy appeared. "Um…" Ginny started.

But before anyone could utter one word, Ron shouted, "No way in bloody hell! No way! You won't marry that ferret, and you certainly won't have his baby!"

"A baby born out of wedlock is not considered a true Malfoy heir, Weasley," Draco lazily said. "And it's either my baby or die. Which would you rather she do?"

"I don't care about it being a Malfoy heir! If you think for one minute—"

"Hush, Ron!" Hermione hissed. She realized what Malfoy was saying, even if Ron did not.

The headmistress said, "Not one more word from anyone! I have to see to Miss Granger."

Turning to Hermione, she asked, "Ready?"

"As I'll ever be," was her solemn response as she was still a bit gobsmacked from Ginny's answer to the spell.

When the spell was directed at Hermione and the name Severus Snape appeared, pure mayhem broke out in the room. Everyone was yelling and accusing. Even Harry joined in this time.

Nobody even noticed when Hermione and Ginny slipped from the room.

They decided to go sit by the lake and watch the giant squid as he lazily splashed about. Thirty minutes passed before either of them spoke.

"Well, this is a fine mess, eh, Hermione?" Ginny tried to sound upbeat, but it came off as desperate.

"To say the least."

"What will you do? I mean, do you actually want to…"

"Ginny, you heard the professor and Malfoy. We don't have a choice. It's more of what will they do, isn't it? And I think I can safely say that I am destined to die a very painful death." She tried in vain to stop the tears that started to flow.

Ginny turned her head back to the lake. "I really don't want to die. But I think I am destined to as well. It's just that, well, we're so young. I mean, it's one thing to die in a battle, or an accident even, but to know it's coming! In about a week, we are going to die."

"I'm so sorry, Gin. I know Viktor did that to pay me back, and I hate more than you will ever know that you got caught in the middle of that. I feel responsible for—"

"Stop that this minute, Hermione! I mean it! I don't blame you because it's not your fault."

Shaking her head because she didn't want to think about Viktor, she said, "I suppose we need to make up some sort of will."

Ginny laughed out loud. "I don't have anything worth making a will for. I will just give my wand to Ron before… Well, before. What about you?"

"I'll have to think about it. When my mum and dad were killed last year, I inherited everything, so I do have some money and property, plus the business. Anyway, not to change the subject or anything, but do you mind if I ask what was going on between you and Harry? He seemed a little off."

Ginny sighed and shook her head. "Right after the battle, when Harry and I were alone?" Hermione nodded, encouraging her to continue. "He told me that he felt like things were starting to move too fast for us and he wanted a break. This was before he knew I'd been cursed though," Ginny said quickly, reading the glare in Hermione's eyes.

"But I thought—all of us thought—that you and Harry were becoming quite serious. What changed?"

"I honestly think that before he had to face Tom, Harry thought he was going to die and that he needed someone who loved him to hold onto. You know? And when everything was over, well, it all got to be too overwhelming. It doesn't matter now anyway. It's a moot point." She stopped talking when her voice started cracking.

As they sat in silence, they both heard the footsteps coming from behind. Both assuming that it was Harry and Ron, neither girl turned around.

Hermione jumped when she heard, "Miss Granger, a word if you please. In my office."

"Of course, Professor. I apologize; I didn't realize it was you."

Waving his hand in front of him in a sweeping motion, he said, "It doesn't matter. After you."

Hermione stood and started towards the castle with Professor Snape following her.

After Hermione and the professor left, Draco sat down beside Ginny. Neither spoke for a few minutes. Finally, Ginny couldn't bear the silence any longer. "Say what you've come to say, and then leave me alone."

Ignoring her tone, Draco told her, "I don't know how big of a binding we can have in the limited time that we've got, but the sooner we start planning it, the better. You needn't worry about the cost of anything; I will take care of it all."

He could almost laugh at the expression on her face. He knew what she was thinking—that he'd just let her die and relish in it. Well, he had to marry someone, he thought, and he would rather it be Ginevra than Pansy, who his parents—and hers for that matter—just assumed he would.

He'd been attracted to the youngest Weasley since the beginning of his sixth year when Blaise Zabini brought her to his attention. After that, he began watching her and had to admit that when away from the other three, she wasn't half bad. No, he wouldn't mind being bound to her.

"You mean, you want to marry me? Why? You hate me! Besides, we don't have to be husband and wife to have a baby, you know. You said so yourself."

"Ginevra, I don't hate you. I hate your brother. Besides, a baby born outside of marriage won't be considered a true Malfoy heir. He or she wouldn't inherit anything, per the arrangements my great-grandfather made when my grandfather wanted a child with his mistress rather than his wife. This was arranged on a wizarding contract and is therefore unbreakable."

"I see," she said but was still surprised that he'd even care if her baby was considered a true heir. "This baby—my baby—would matter to you?"

"I believe it would be our baby."

"Well, what kind of marriage would you expect, Malfoy?"

Raising his eyebrows, he instructed, "Call me Draco. I am about to create a child with you. I would expect the traditional kind, of course."

"Oh, I see. You mean married to one person, but sleeping with another?" she said hatefully. The thoughts of that infuriated her for reasons she couldn't name or understand.

He was looming over her in a flash, his face only inches from hers. "Let me make this perfectly clear, right here, right now. You WILL NOT be sleeping with Harry-Fucking-Potter while you carry the Malfoy name or anyone else for that matter. Do you understand me?"

She shoved his chest and found him unmovable to her surprise. She'd always thought of him as some sort of weakling. A mama's boy. "I was speaking of you, not me, you imbecile! It's your grandfather who wanted a child with his mistress! Anyway, I've not slept with Harry! I've not slept with any—" She stopped herself, realizing she was telling him more than she wanted him to know in her anger.

He eased back, but only a fraction, so that he could look into her eyes. "That sounds unbelievable. You've had several boyfriends."

"So? How do you know how many boyfriends I've had anyway? Besides, I don't sleep with everyone I date, and you obviously do. I didn't really love any of them, except Harry of course, and well, he just didn't get that far. Anyway, why am I explaining this to you? It's none of your business."

"Oh, it most certainly is my business, as you will soon be my wife." He didn't bother to tell her that after she was brought to his attention, he'd made it his business to know as much about her as he could without making anyone suspicious.

"I never agreed to marry you, Malfoy. Besides, do you want to tell me all of the women you've slept with?"

He simply looked at her for a long moment. "That's a conversation for another day, I'm afraid. However, I can let you know that I will not take a mistress, Ginevra, or be unfaithful unless you refuse me." When she deliberately turned her back to him, he asked, "Would you really rather die than marry me then?"

Suddenly, the weight of her situation hit her like a ton of bricks, and she began to cry softly. If she didn't marry Draco Malfoy and have a child with him, she was going to die! It all seemed unreal, not to mention unfair. "No. No, I wouldn't. I'm sorry. I seem ungrateful, I know I do, but I just can't seem to take all this in. It's too much." Taking a deep breath, she told him, "I would be very grateful to marry you, Draco."

He gently rubbed her back as she cried.

Hermione nervously followed her former professor into his office. She'd had to move back when they got to his door so that he could take the wards down.

"Have a seat," he instructed.

She sat and just stared at him. When he said nothing, she asked, "Sir? Did you want to discuss this… situation we're in?"

Severus pinched the bridge of his nose to fight off the migraine that was coming on. Why on God's green earth did it have to be him? He opened his eyes and studied the girl—no, young woman—sitting in front of him. He couldn't figure how he could be her soul mate or she his, as he was not attracted to her in the least, and he was positive that the feeling was mutual. But this was the situation, and it needed to be dealt with quickly. She didn't have much time.

Cutting to the chase, he said, "Tell me, Miss Granger, what do you expect of me?"

She looked at him with confusion. "Nothing. I mean, well, this is my problem, sir, not yours." She took a calming breath that didn't work.

"Yes, I understand that mostly this is your problem. However, it's not solely your problem, as the spell identified me," he told her impatiently. "I want to know what you want to do."

"Considering the circumstances, sir, I would say it's more of what do you want to do. I don't have a choice. I have to either conceive with you or die."

"Stop calling me sir every time you speak!" She jumped when he yelled. "I know that we are going to have to have a baby! I can't let you die, can I? What I want to know is how you want to handle the situation? Do you wish for a binding? Let me tell you before you answer that question that unwed mothers in the wizarding world are… frowned upon, as are their children."

"I hadn't thought, I mean, um, si—er, Professor, I didn't realize you would help me, so I haven't thought of the situation, as it were."

He rose slowly from his seat, leaned over his desk, and never took his eyes off of her. "Let me get this straight. You mean to tell me that you actually thought I would just let you die? Knowing that it's within my power to help you?"

Hermione's eyes widened as she leaned back as far as she could in her seat. It was hard to think with him looming over her like that. "Well, considering how you feel about me, that you hate me, I just thought…"

"Silence! Do not presume to know my feelings on anything!" He turned from her and walked to a door on the far side of his office. After he had gone through, Hermione started to get up and leave, thinking she had made him so mad that he was finished with her.

He poked his head through the door as she started to rise and said, "Miss Granger! Come! I need a more comfortable setting for this ridiculous conversation."

She timidly walked through the door into what she knew must be his personal chambers. Seeing him sitting in one of the chairs by the fireplace, she decided to sit in the other. "I want to apologize for my assumption of your feelings and actions. I realize now how that must have sounded to you."

Not addressing her apology, he asked, "Would you care for a shot of firewhisky? Some wine?"

"I—I don't know." She stared into the fire as if mesmerized by the flames.

He raised an eyebrow. "You don't know? You haven't been able to answer one question since I brought you here. Tell me this: What do you know?"

Flushing in embarrassment and anger, she spat, "I know for sure that I am going to die in one week. That, I know." She turned away from him, refusing to let him witness her anguish.

"Stop being so dramatic for Merlin's sake. You most certainly will not die. I just want to know how you wish to handle this."

"I don't know!" She grabbed her head with both hands. "My head is spinning. Would you just tell me what it is that you want to do?"

Taking a drink of his whisky, he watched her. "I believe that we should have some sort of binding. I don't wish to have a child outside of marriage. It's hard enough in the world as it is without adding unnecessary problems."

"But… we don't love each other! As a matter of fact, you don't even like me! Why would you want to bind yourself to me for all eternity?"

He rolled his eyes. "I believe I asked you to stop being dramatic. A lot of marriages are entered into without love. Most, from my experience. I can tolerate you, as long as you keep your idiotic friends out of my sight and, most importantly, my chambers."

"You would expect me to live here with you?"

"Yes," he told her without bothering to explain.

Burying her face in her hands, she murmured, "I am so confused!"

"Well, you'd better figure it out soon. The clock is ticking." Suddenly a thought occurred to him. "You're not a virgin, are you?"

Looking at him through her fingers, she answered, "No. Um, are you?"

"Certainly not."

Taking a few deep breaths, she said, "All right. I suppose you're right, about the binding, I mean. And I want to say, I really appreciate your help. Without it, well, without it, I would die. I owe you my life." As she said that, the tears she couldn't hold in began to fall.

"Don't blubber now! There is no cause for that now that you know I will indeed help you, and you are not going to die."

Nodding, she asked, "What about my money?"

"What about it?"

"I know a little about the wizarding laws, regarding marriage and such. When we become husband and wife, what's mine becomes yours. I don't like that."

"I neither want nor need your money, I assure you. You can withdraw it out of Gringotts and deposit it into a Muggle account so that nobody will know of its existence for all I care. What I do care about is the child. I will have equal rights in all things concerning my child. Make no mistake."

"Of course." She tilted her head somewhat, and it made her look even younger while the tears were still drying on her cheeks. "I had no idea you even wanted a child." She sniffed.

"There are many things about me you don't know. We don't know each other at all really, outside of the student-teacher relationship." That thought made him nauseated. "Or the brief run-ins during Order meetings. Unfortunately, we don't have time to rectify that now. All you need to know right now is that I will marry you and give you the child you need to save your life, and I will have an active part of all things concerning my child. When would you like to have the ceremony?"

This was all happening so fast. One minute they were talking about her money, then raising their child, and the next, they were talking about a binding ceremony. Her vision was blurring and her stomach was rolling. She couldn't keep up. She was sick and she was tired. She wanted sleep. She couldn't think at all. "Tomorrow?"

"Fine. I'll arrange it. Now, I suggest you go to your friends and explain the situation. I won't have Weasley, or Potter for that matter, trying to fight me for your honor. Speaking of Mr. Weasley, I must request that you do not plan any future liaisons with him once you are my wife."

"Oh, God, Ron…" She nodded numbly as he continued.

"You can go to Hogsmeade in the morning and purchase all that you will need. Minerva and Molly will escort you and Miss Weasley."

"How do you know that? You've discussed it with them!" she accused before he could say anything. "How dare you? Let me just say that when we are married, you will not dictate—"

"Enough! This has been a trying day for all involved, so I will just say that you need to calm yourself. The only thing I discussed with those two was that if you wanted a binding ceremony they wanted help you. I didn't just assume, as you have been doing about everything concerning me—including this—that you would agree to marry me. Now, we're both tired, Miss Granger. I need sleep and so do you. Come. I will walk you back to the infirmary."

She burst into tears, completely exhausted, confused and scared to death. She felt as if she were drifting in an alternate universe and she couldn't find solid ground anywhere. "Y-y-es. I am so tired. I—thank you. I d-d-don't know what else to say to you. All this seems so… so…"

As she stood to leave, she fainted. Severus barely caught her before she hit the floor. Sighing, he said, "What a perfect end to a perfect day." Refusing to carry her in any form back to the infirmary, he simply laid her on his bed and removed her shoes. After a bit of thought, he covered her.

Turning, he grabbed an extra blanket out of his wardrobe and headed for the couch. Not even married to the chit, and she's already got me sleeping on the couch. What a fine start to what I'm sure will be a wonderful marriage, he thought sarcastically.

Christy's Notes: This is my response to the PotterPlace Winter 2007 Prompt Challenges. I liked # 23: Ginny or Hermione is hit with an ancient, evil curse. Exactly what it does is up to you. The cure for said curse is a potion which can easily be made, save for one vital ingredient: three drops of a newborn's blood. The catch? The baby must be of the curse victim. How does this affect the victim (Hermione or Ginny), their friends (everybody else), and their lover (Harry, Draco, or Severus)?

If you're not already a member of Potter Place, I encourage you to join!

http://groups. here's chapter one! Binding and conception up next. Forgive my Latin; it's definitely not my strong suit!

Viscerum: flesh, internal organs, bowels, entrails, heart

Moribundus: ways, conduct, character, morals.

morior : to die, wither away, decay

Ut Gemina Animae Declaratus Sit: let the twin of the soul be proclaimed

This is loosely translated, of course!

The title of this chapter is a song by Tina Turner from the year 1984.

SouthernWitch69's Notes: I always love stories where they are sort of forced to see each other in a different light—then we get to witness the journey of developing feelings and the realization that they appreciate getting tossed together. Great start!