Shadow No Longer
A/N: I know quite a few of you were looking forward to this, so I hope I've met your expectations! This can be read without first reading Lifelike Shadows, but I think it'll be funnier if you understand the previous incidents I've alluded to within the text...
A huge thanks to GreekGirl for making this story better with her input and editing!
Hermione looked at herself in the mirror and blushed. Never again would she listen to Luna and her insane suggestions. It had seemed like a good idea at the time - which should have set alarms off in her head immediately. Luna Lovegood ate food that frequently floated away and hunted creatures that didn't exist; any idea from the blonde's lips should have been immediately scrutinized and looked over several times before being put into action.
There was no way in hell that Malfoy was going to like the way she looked in that; the entire ensemble looked ridiculous!
She wasn't aware that she'd grown so much after her last year at Hogwarts, but apparently she had. Her skirt was much shorter than she remembered, barely covering her bum and the buttons of the shirt were straining over her chest. Hermione was pretty sure she'd pop a button off is she tried to clasp her hands behind her back – or tried to move her arms much at all, really.
She blamed Draco for making her bigger, she hadn't been accustomed to having three full meals a day before he came into her life. Not to mention his poor, enslaved house-elf, Pansy cooked like she was trying to fatten her up – which Hermione suspected the elf had been doing lately.
The outfit made her feel exposed and not attractive at all. It was amazing how wearing clothes from a few years ago could make her feel like her arse had gotten huge. Maybe if she just put the rest of the thing on, it would look better as a whole? At the very least, the robe would cover her butt a little better.
She had yet to don her robe and was just finishing the full Windsor knot on her tie when she heard the roar of the Floo. Malfoy was back. Merlin, she prayed it was Malfoy, because she'd be utterly humiliated if Harry or Ginny had decided to pay her an unannounced visit. She wasn't even sure she wanted Malfoy to see her in the school uniform. Did she want him to see it?
Immediately, she started panicking. Did she have time to take it off before he caught her in the embarrassing outfit? Where was her wand? The git was never going to let her hear the end of it if he caught her in such an embarrassing outfit.
She heard the thud of his foot on the floor just outside of their shared bedroom and then the ominous creak of the door as he came inside. Against her will, her eyes snapped shut in humiliation. She knew her face was bright red by the heat she could feel concentrated on her cheeks.
Yes, Luna was absolutely insane for thinking Malfoy would want to see her in her old Hogwarts uniform!
At his sharp intake of breath, she warily opened an eye, waiting for the laughter to begin. Malfoy wasn't the type to spare her feelings when he thought she was doing something moronic.
What she saw when she looked in his eyes wasn't amusement, it was a dark hunger. Huh, maybe Luna had actually been right. Mentally, Hermione apologised to her dreamy friend for doubting her.
"Tell me you weren't about to take off that outfit without even letting me see it first," Malfoy said, his voice rougher than it should have been. It seemed he really liked her school uniform.
She glanced at herself in the mirror again, wondering what it was that he was seeing in her. Nope, she still looked ridiculous to her own scrutinizing gaze, and yet, Malfoy looked like he was about to pounce on her.
Deciding to just go with it, Hermione sashayed towards him, making sure to wiggle her hips more than usual. He seemed to be eating it up, which boosted her confidence a little. She felt like a moron, but apparently, Malfoy liked morons.
When she reached the frozen blonde, she gave him a sensual smirk and wrapped her hands around his waist as she pressed her body against his.
While he was distracted by her closeness, she ran her hands inside his suit jacket and along his shoulders, pushing the garment off and allowing it to fall to the ground. It crumpled in a pile that was sure to wrinkle the expensive fabric, but neither of the pair cared a whit.
"What did I do to deserve this?" His voice rumbled in his chest while she rested against it.
"I told you I'd make it worth your while if you just shut your mouth when we went to the Weasley's for dinner."
Malfoy laughed and pulled her against him so she could feel just how much he liked her outfit.
She dragged her fingers down his back. A kiss to the underside of his jaw to hid her victorious smile when she felt his wand sticking out of his back pocket. She'd misplaced her own, but now she had Malfoy's.
Armed again, she twisted out of his grip and hopped a few steps back. Victorious, she was no longer concerned with hiding her triumphant expression.
He looked confused when she pointed the wand at him and cast a spell he'd never heard before. It spoke of his trust in her that he didn't even flinch as she had him at wand point. That wasn't to say that they didn't occasionally fire curses at each other when they really got arguing, but never when the other wasn't able to protect themselves.
His confusion abated when he saw that she'd merely changed his tie into a Slytherin striped one like he'd worn while they were in school. The black trousers and button up shirt he'd been wearing for work were almost exactly those he'd worn in school, so there was nothing more she needed to do to make his Slytherin uniform complete.
He raised a questioning eyebrow.
Hermione grinned at him before smoothing her face into a scared expression. "Please don't hurt me Mr. Scary Slytherin," she said in with a fake tremble in her voice.
Malfoy laughed at her poor impression. He closed the space between them and captured her mouth in a bruising kiss. Hermione responded eagerly, tossing his wand to the other side of the room just as they fell to the bed.
His hand was inching up her skirt as she was on the last button of his shirt when there was a knock at the door.
"Ignore it," she gasped.
"I had every intention to," Malfoy answered.
A few minutes passed and the knocking hadn't ceased. Malfoy growled angrily and got off of her.
Hermione sighed and straightened out her clothes as she stood up. She glanced in her mirror when she passed it and tried to do something about the state of her hair.
Irritably, she stalked across her flat and ripped open the door, ready to give whoever it was a piece of her mind. If they were trying to sell something, she was going to hex them, Muggle or not.
She had to jump back when she opened the door as the person who had been leaning on it fell inside in a lump followed by two suitcases.
"Chris?" Hermione asked in a disbelieving voice.
"Hermione?" he squeaked, staring up at her with big eyes. She shifted uncomfortably, well aware of how inappropriate her attire was for entertaining family – or really anyone who didn't have an interest in taking it off. Why was it that her cousin always seemed to be around when she wasn't wearing normal clothes? He probably thought her to be some sort of prostitute in her spare time.
"What are you doing here?" the brunette demanded, looking at the luggage with dread; it seemed like he was planning on staying for a while. Vaguely, she could recall something Ginny had said a while ago about a message from her mother on the answering machine, but Malfoy had been distracting her at the time. The answering machine had been a casualty of a recent argument, so Hermione had been unable to listen to the message herself.
"Tell whoever it is to sod off, we have important business to get back to my little Gryffindor," Malfoy called, making sure to put some of his old sneer in his voice for an authentic Slytherin persona.
"Gryffindor?" Claude echoed, confused. "Hermione, are you in some kind of trouble?"
Hermione supposed that if a person didn't know him well, they wouldn't recognise the teasing tone hidden behind the threat in Malfoy's voice. It was sweet that Chris cared, but she wasn't really sure what he thought he could do for her if she had been held captive as Malfoy's sex slave or whatever it was that was going through her cousin's barmy brain.
"No, Malfoy wouldn't hurt me," she said absently, trying to figure out what she could do to get rid of her cousin before the entire situation went too far south. Malfoy usually fell into a foul temper when something happened that interrupted his mind when it was set on sex. That foul temper usually led to unfavourable circumstances for those who had interrupted.
"Wait... Malfoy? Isn't that your 'friend from school' who was with you when you told that completely untrue story about a school reunion?"
"We did have a reunion," Hermione defended, quickly searching around in her head for some additional detail that would make her story believable. "It was the 200th anniversary of Hogwarts founding," she added.
Chris continued to look skeptical. "Hogwarts?"
Internally, Hermione was berating herself for slipping up and giving the real name of her school. What in the world was the name of the one mum had randomly chosen to tell the family? St. Something... Marigold? Margaret's!
"That's what everyone calls St. Margaret's... because the school mascot is an ugly pig," she said with a fake laugh. Merlin, she really needed to get better at lying. Apparently it wasn't the kind of thing she could get better at by spending so much time with Malfoy.
Fed up with waiting by himself, Malfoy stormed out of her bedroom to come looking for her.
As soon as he caught sight of the angry blonde, Chris paled. "And this is your friend from St. Margaret's?"
Malfoy looked confused, but Hermione shot him a look that clearly said 'shut up,' so he stayed quiet, using his glare to make his displeasure known.
"Yes, this is Draco Malfoy, my friend from St. Margaret's."
Her cousin's suspicious look intensified. "St. Margaret's is an all girls school."
She shot the blonde a helpless look begging for assistance, but he merely crossed his arms and smirked at her; he was enjoying watching her flounder for an explanation. Bastard.
"Hermione," Chris said slowly and clearly, as if he were talking to a small child. "I think this man is the monster I had trapped in my tent and he's brainwashed you into thinking you know him."
He turned his wide eyes between his cousin and the bleached-looking man who claimed to be her schoolmate. Something was going on between the two of them; the air in the room was practically sparking with the sexual tension.
If he was going to save her, he needed some time to regroup. "I'll just be taking the guestroom, lovely to see you, Hermione."
The two magical people watched the Muggle shut the door firmly behind him. As soon as he was in there, they heard a scraping sound that could only be a bureau being dragged across the floor to block the portal.
"I'm guessing we're not going to be continuing from where we left off?" Malfoy asked, still looking at her hungrily and undressing her with his eyes. Hermione swatted him when his hands moved to do what his eyes had been doing since the moment he saw her uniform.
"Family issues take precedence over sex, Malfoy," she sighed. Sometimes it was really unpleasant to be the responsible one.
"My family's dead, why should they take precedence over anything?"
Hermione rolled her eyes, turning her back on him to head back to her room; she may have felt some pity for him if he hadn't been shamelessly using the death of his family to try and get in her skirt. He hadn't been that close with the cold people who raised him, but she still didn't think he should be disrespecting the dead like that.
She needed some more appropriate clothes before she dealt with her cousin. "I'm going to be busy handling my family issues, you're welcome to have all the sex you want without me," she glanced pointedly at his hand.
Visibly weighing his options, Malfoy eventually came to a decision. "It's a tough choice, but I'll help you with this." He held up a hand to stop the smile of gratitude that she had started to develop. "Provided you wear that uniform again and let me take it off with my teeth."
Her hands migrated to her hips of their own accord. "Really, your teeth?"
"Well, I might get impatient towards the end and just banish them away, but yes, teeth are the plan."
"And you're intrigued. Now stop looking at me like that while wearing that or we'll never get anywhere."
She rushed the last few steps to her room and shut the door before he could get his hands on her and delay their problem solving session any further.
When she came out again, Malfoy was sitting on the sofa looking petulant. She handed him his wand wordlessly and joined him on the cushy seat.
"Do you have a plan? Because I have one," he said the moment she joined him. "I say we Obliviate him, leave him on the street somewhere and let someone else take him in."
They both turned to look towards the guestroom as there was a loud clanking and then a flash so bright that it lit up the living room with only the little light that could escape in the cracks around the door. It must have been blinding for Chris.
"I don't even want to know what he's doing in there," Malfoy mumbled.
They discussed alternate plans for dealing with Chris until Malfoy eventually drifted off, thoroughly bored with the entire subject.
Hermione started a little when his head lolled against her shoulder while she was mid-sentence, but she only smiled fondly at him and pushed his hair off of his face. No matter how much she felt she should yell at him for being an arse and falling asleep while she spoke, she restrained herself. He'd been remarkably tolerant of everything that had happened to them that day, when it would have been so much easier for him to start cursing people until things went off in the direction he thought best. After all, that was the Slytherin way of doing things.
Hours and hours they'd wasted while trying to think up a solution and they were still no closer to one than they'd been when Chris had first burst through her door. With a tired sigh, Hermione lifted Malfoy's arm and pulled it around her shoulders so she could snuggle against him. He just looked so peaceful and relaxed while he slept, and she wanted to share in that peace for just a moment. She was only going to rest her eyes for a few minutes and then she'd wake him up and they could plan some more.
Before long, she was as sound asleep as her blonde companion.
The next thing Hermione knew, her hands were bound and she was tied to one of her kitchen chairs. She glanced down at the ropes holding her in place and internally cursed; it was much worse than simple rope, she was duct taped to one of her kitchen chairs. At least if he's used rope, the poor chairs wouldn't have been damaged. The varnish was probably going to peel right off when the tape was removed, or there would be lingering sticky patches from the adhesive.
"CHRIS!" she screeched at the top of her lungs.
"I see you're awake. I bet you're regretting your stubborn refusal to even attempt any of my helpful suggestions," said a very irritated voice.
Her eyes darted to the side where Malfoy was also adhered to a kitchen chair with duct tape. He didn't look pleased.
Chris came stumbling into the room, wheezing with the effort he'd exerted to move so fast. He rifled around in his pockets for a moment until he could find his inhaler, took a big breath from the plastic tube and then regarded his captives with something he must have considered menacing, but only made it obvious how in over his head he was.
"Who are you two and what have you done with the real Hermione?" he demanded.
"Chris," Hermione said in the calmest tone she was capable of while tied to a chair, "untie me from this chair right now, or I swear imaginary monsters will be the last of your worries!"
He regarded her with narrowed eyes. "See, your impersonation of her is almost perfect, but the real Hermione would never threaten me like that. She's a kind soul."
Malfoy snorted, but the two Grangers ignored him.
"Even a 'kind soul' would be a little miffed if you tied them to a chair while they were sleeping!"
Once again, Hermione was glad that she had silencing spells surrounding the walls of her flat. They allowed her to express her rage at the decibel best suited to the intensity of her emotions – loud.
While the two cousins were yelling at each other, Malfoy was wiggling. The idiot Muggle hadn't thought to take his wand away, and he only needed to be able to move a few more centimetres before he would have it in his grasp.
"How can I know you're really the real Hermione?" the moron was demanding just as Malfoy finally managed to get his fingers wrapped around his wand.
"Ask me a question that only I would know the answer to," Granger said like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
The Muggle's eyebrows drew together as he tried to think of a memory that Hermione and only Hermione could know of.
Tired of waiting for her cousin to think of an appropriate question, she started spouting off his secrets. "When you were seven, your greatest dream was to be a rocket scientist, then when you were twelve, you started algebra in school and scrapped that dream because of several years of failing grades in math. When you were thirteen, you had the biggest crush on the woman on the front of the Wheaty Flakes cereal box. You spent the entire summer feeling sick from eating too much because you were collecting the pictures of her to cover an entire wall of your room."
"Okay, stop!" Chris said, mortified that she remembered those things.
Hermione ignored his plea. She was tired to a chair and not in the mood to be merciful. "When you were seventeen, you dated that girl with more facial hair than you could ever hope for. She had grease stains on all of her shirts because she couldn't manage to hit her mouth while she was shovelling food into it at alarming speeds."
The Muggle rushed forward to cover her mouth before she got to the incident when he was twenty and had accidentally glued a model airplane to his face in a horrible craft accident. The less people who knew about that, the better.
Malfoy chose that moment to use his wand and subtly sever his bindings. The former Slytherin glanced at his lover as she tugged on her bindings and tried to escape the hand over her mouth. Her wrists were red where they pulled against the tape. Draco may have been an arse, but he never liked seeing her hurting and this Muggle had not only hurt her, but he had humiliated a Malfoy by tying him to a chair. No one got away with things like that.
In a surge of motion that surprised the other two in the room, Draco was up from his chair and had his wand pressed into the Muggle's neck. He shoved the man back until his trembling form was pressed again the wall.
"Remember that shadow monster that destroyed your property and has you so terrified?" he hissed, leaning towards the other man in his most intimidating voice.
Chris squeaked a little, but nodded. He wasn't sure what the point of the stick was, but the blonde man was intimidating and strong enough for it not to matter that he thought a twig made him more threatening.
Malfoy's eyes were dark with anger and contempt that one weak little Muggle had managed to take him captive. "I can do things that will leave you begging for that shadow monster to come back and kill you," the blonde said in a more normal voice. He was starting to calm down now that the balance had been restored; he was in control of the situation and the victim of his anger was trembling in fear.
"Malfoy!" Hermione snapped, "Stop intimidating my cousin!" As angry as she was with him, she knew that her poor cousin was completely terrified and he didn't deserve that. In his own muddled way, Chris had been trying to help... sort of.
The blonde darted his grey eyes over to Hermione, frowning at her for ruining his fun. He sighed and let the Muggle go with one last shove before moving to stand beside the still bound Granger. "You're making me go soft," he grumbled to her. Not so long ago, he would have strung the other man from the ceiling by his ankles and left him there while he went out for breakfast.
He eyed the tape that was holding her to the chair. "Though you could fix that with a few simple adjustments," he said, his lips spread in a provocative smirk.
With a wave of his wand, Hermione's school uniform was back. The skirt was riding up her thighs and bearing entirely too much skin, but she was unable to tug it down again. She levelled a glare at Malfoy to let him know he was as good as dead, but he'd turned his back to her, all of his attention on her cousin.
Using spells Hermione had never heard before and could only assume were Dark magic, Malfoy quickly made Chris disappear in a puff of black smoke.
"Malfoy, what did you do to my cousin?" Hermione demanded.
"Nothing. I've merely relocated him so we can have fun with our game."
She wasn't fooled, his answer was entirely too vague. "Where did you relocate him?" she growled, her voice heavy with suspicion.
Malfoy's lips turned down a little at the corners; he hated it when she asked just the question he was hoping she'd overlook. "The Underworld. Don't worry though, the spell's got a timer on it; he'll pop back here in a few hours. We have plenty of time."
Forcing herself to remain calm, Hermione addressed the blonde. "Untie me now."
"Why?" Malfoy asked.
"So I can strangle you." She fought against her bonds again to see if she could escape them under her own power, but no such luck.
"I hardly see how threatening me is something that would encourage me to release you. You've obviously never played this game before Granger. Here, let me help. I'm your devastatingly attractive, yet evil Slytherin captor, and you're my innocent, virginal captive that's willing to offer sexual favours in return for her freedom."
Had she not become used to dealing with Malfoy when he fell into one of his infuriating moods, Hermione may have popped something with the force of her rage. As it was, she'd learned that calming breaths could work wonders for her blood pressure. Calming breaths were good. She took several of them before she spoke in the most level voice she could manage.
"If you don't let me go right now, the only game I'm going to be playing tonight is 'hide the corpse so I don't get arrested'."
Malfoy nodded. "That is an entertaining game, but I get the feeling I'd miss the fun parts of that game because I'd be the corpse."
Her glare told him he'd guessed correctly.
When a light came into his eyes, she knew she was going to want to hex him for whatever was about to come out of his mouth.
"You've obviously not in the mood to play innocent or virginal. How about you're a prefect who's caught a naughty Slytherin in the corridors and needs to teach him a lesson?"
Yep, she definitely wanted to hex the git. "Malfoy, untie me right now!"
He crossed his arms. "Why should I?"
"Because it's the right thing to do!"
Draco quirked an eyebrow at her. "Love, when has that ever motivated me?"
She knew how to get him to let her free, but it would involve a sacrifice of her pride. Chris better appreciate the things she did for him... Even if those things would never have happened if she wasn't dating Malfoy.
"Draco, let me free. Please."
Malfoy had been having fun with his games, but he knew when she'd had enough. With a touch of regret, he undid the bindings holding her to the chair. He still won, but it was always less fun if she gave in.
Finally free, Hermione wanted nothing more than to lunge at Malfoy and hit him until she wasn't so angry, but that wasn't an option if she wanted her cousin back safely.
"Now bring Chris back," she said, still in a tone that said she wasn't going to play his games.
"That one's going to take some negotiating, sweetheart." Malfoy had a way of mangling terms of endearment, he rarely used them in actual affection, they were usually just to piss her off.
It was working.
Hermione narrowed her eyes; he was obviously suicidal. A fierce staring match ensued, and Malfoy was the one to look away first. She was never sure what was going on in that head of his, but she was relatively certain that he knew she was right and had just been arguing on reflex alone.
With another puff of black smoke, Chris appeared. He darted large eyes around the room, looking terrified.
"Is it over?" he asked in a small voice.
Overcome with sympathy for her poor cousin, Hermione rushed forward and hugged him. "Chris, are you all right?" she asked anxiously.
"I think... I've found religion," he said, looking surprised. "Yes. Yes I have. I should have devoted my life to greater powers long before this."
Gently, he pulled from Hermione's grasp and rushed to gather his things.
The brunette shot a befuddled look at her lover, only to find he had his wand out. "You didn't have anything to do with his sudden 'enlightenment' did you?" she asked, her voice dangerous.
Malfoy schooled his face into an innocent expression and smiled at her. "I would never do something like that just to be rid of the pest permanently. Besides, he gives your mother something to disapprove of, besides your devastatingly handsome lover."
Chris rushed past them and out the door. "I'll be sure to ask forgiveness for the undoubtedly blasphemous acts you're going to be committing in the near future," he called over his shoulder.
"Did he mention what religion it was that he'd found?" Hermione asked curiously.
The blonde shook his head. He was trying to remember if he'd specified when he cast the spell. Granger and her family would probably support whatever strange hybridized religion Chris had found.
"I'm going to spend the rest of my life trying to figure you people out, aren't I?" he grumbled. His eyebrows drew together when he glanced down and caught the expression his lover was directing towards him. "What did I say to make you give me that constipated look?" he asked with exasperation.
"You just implied you're going to spend the rest of your life with me."
"Of course I did; Malfoy's don't love lightly, you should know that," he dismissed. "I'm not going anywhere."
Hermione launched herself at Malfoy, squeezing him tightly as she buried her face in his neck. He grinned and slid his hands up her legs and under her skirt, cupping her bum. She went from enraged to affectionate, but he wasn't going to fight it. Her emotions had been everywhere recently and he'd learned to just go with it. "Keep wearing the school uniform and we'll never leave the bedroom, much less the flat."
She laughed and swatted at him, then thought better of it and grabbed his tie, pulling him to her bedroom. They were going to continue from where they'd left off and not the door or the phone or a nuclear explosion was going to interrupt this time.