A word of warning to those who might have decided to read this. It's my first Draco/Hermione fiction and I wanted to do something that was beyond Hogwarts. So yes, this is AU. It is post Hogwarts with DH disregarded. In this story, Voldermort has won and Harry is dead. The story is dark and it does contain violence and character death – but I will be sure to warn the readers in advance. I do promise some sort of payoff however. It will be mostly Draco/Hermione with some Hermione/Neville in there somewhere, but I categorize it as Dramione because ultimately they end up together. It is longer, and of course the romance will not be fluffy – but it will be there. Thanks for reading. Please let me know how I'm doing and if anyone knows of a good beta who is available, send me a PM. Thanks!
Hermione Granger Weasley allowed her eyes to flutter shut for a blessed moment just as the light breeze ruffled the messy curls that framed her too thin face. She breathed in, fought with great difficulty to make herself forget where she was and everything that had happened.
She thought for a moment that if she just tried hard enough she would believe she was somewhere else, that everything in the last six years had never happened. Some days it was almost easy to allow her imagination to run away from her and others, like that day, it was impossible.
She opened her brown eyes once more and sighed. The streets of eastern London were littered with trash and some alleys were lined with boxes. She knew what was in those boxes, knew how it was for wizards and witches now, living in poverty, living on the edge of death and starvation. She knew what awaited her – simply because of her status. She knew the Weasleys too faced dangers all because of her, all because of...
She looked down at her worn, thin fingers were on her left hand a dull gold ring glittered – a promise from Ron to love and cherish her all the days of their lives. Tears flooded her vision as she choked back a sob. That promise and those vows…those were the last happy moments Hermione could recall.
The way Ron had smiled when he had slipped the ring on her finger, and the taste of his mouth when she had leaned over his hospital bed, kissing him tenderly.
Had it really been five years? Five years since their wedding day and the night of his death? Had it been so long that she had not seen his smiling face and the laugh she had fallen in love with?
She stopped on the edge of the alleyway that led to the crowded apartment where she was living with the Weasleys. All of the Weasleys – at least those that had survived the Battle at Hogwarts and all the years since.
Behind her she heard Ginny's soft voice as she whispered something to her youngest daughter, Lily. Hermione waited for her two companions, her brown eyes flickering across the wide street where she saw two men dressed in the black and green robes that indicated higher Ministry rank. They wore expensive looking black cloaks and matching shiny boots. One of them had their wand out. They were talking though she could not hear what they were saying.
Too many days of this now, she knew. Men searching the streets like scavengers, looking for opposition to Voldermort's regime. Hunting down muggle borns and half bloods and all those who were sympathizers. There was no more hope now for people like herself, Hermione knew.
"I miss the Burrow mama."
Lily's tiny voice rang out in the stifling air. Ginny who had crouched down on the cement to speak with her daughter, brushed the soft hair away from her heart shaped face. Both she and Hermione were taken aback by the startling green of Lily's eyes; a green that was so much like the color of her late father's eyes.
Oh Harry! Things should have been so different!
Hermione did not voice her thoughts, however, for they would bring nothing but added misery to the grayness of life since Harry Potter's death. Ginny's caramel colored eyes registered a little nervousness as she noticed the two Ministry officials stop and gaze at them. Neither man moved but that didn't mean anything. Within a few moments they could be dead – all it took was a flick of a wand. Others around them had died already. The Ministry had no sympathies, had no qualms in killing, and held no conscience.
"I know you do, little one. But this is our home now."
Ginny's whisper was warm; it did not hold the fear that her eyes did.
Hermione's heart wept as she watched Ginny. Long gone was the girl that she had called a friend during their years at Hogwarts. Gone were the brilliant smile and the feisty personality. Gone even was the fiery hair which now hung limply down her back framing a face too thin and too pale to be called healthy. Hermione knew that she was the same, because they all were. Never enough food to feed everyone, always the same growling hunger that ate away at the edges of awareness so that now being hungry was simply perpetual, something that happened all the time.
"But why, mama?"
Ginny was fighting tears as she hugged her little girl to her thin body.
"I don't know, Lily."
The two officials were now crossing the street quickly and Ginny straightened Lily's tattered skirt as she kissed her forehead.
"But we must not think about that now. We must be quiet, Lily."
Her voice held fear now and as she stood, Lily dashed towards the alleyway that led to their new home, tripping over the first official and falling over his shiny boots. The collision made the little girl drop the bag that held their daily rations of food, which spilled over the sidewalk in a waterfall of oranges and apples and sandwiches.
"What where you're going, you tiny mudblood bint!"
The man was short and fat with an ugly pinched face. He kicked at Lily who began to cry and reach for her mother. Ginny busied herself with holding her little girl as Hermione dropped to the cracked sidewalk to pick up their food, lowering her head now so that there would be no unnecessary pain. This too she was used to. She had forgotten what it was like to defend herself because they had taken her wand years ago. And she had learned from experience and a nasty head wound what happened to the witches and wizards who defied Ministry officials.
She didn't dare correct them on Lily's blood status. She didn't dare speak anything at all and began placing the fruit back into the bag with shaking fingers, fighting tears that threatened her. She would not cry though. She would not give these men the pleasure. As she worked, Hermione held her breath.
Please go away, for Merlin's sake. Leave us in peace.
But they were still there. As she reached for the last sandwich, the other official handed it to her and she noticed his hand – pale and lean with long fingers. They could have been called beautiful hands. For a moment Hermione did not take the sandwich, staring at it as if it were poisoned but then she took it, her throat dry and thick so that she could hardly utter a 'thank you'.
As his black traveling cloak rode up along his thin, white wrist she noticed the black serpentine mark there and shuddered. She had believed for a split second that there was still kindness left in the world, but apparently beautiful hands were no indication of a beautiful soul – the Dark Mark was glaring evidence of that.
Some of the Ministry officials were and others were not – but in the end it did not matter for they were all cruel and without remorse.
The fatter official's gleeful utterance caused the bag to fly from Hermione's still shaking fingers and spill once more all over the dirty sidewalk. She did not make a sound. Sometimes she still felt the old hatred raging within her heart, but these men, this Ministry and this new world was slowly draining all the passion from her, leaving behind nothing but a husk of the young woman she had been before.
The official was laughing as if a spilled bag was the funniest thing in the world and feeling humiliated, Hermione crawled towards the street to gather the food they would have later, hoping there was still enough to salvage a good supper.
"We don't have time for this."
The voice made Hermione stop short and she noticed that Ginny, who was still clutching Lily to herself, had stopped as well. Familiarity ran through Hermione, a cold realization that she knew that voice, knew it from somewhere in her past. Knew…
Without thinking she glanced up. He was tall and thin, his face pale and his nose prominent in a face that had lost much of it's fullness with time and the world wearing on it. The only thing that seemed the same were his eyes – silver, like a frozen lake in winter or the clouds just before a storm.
Hermione struggled to look away from those eyes and finally he was the one that broke their connection, kicking at the empty bag a little.
"Get your stuff, mudblood and get of our streets."
His voice was cold and the sneer that formed on his lips made him look even harsher than he had. Hermione shocked by the recognition of a boy now turned man whom she had attended school with so many years ago, began to gather the food again, color flaring along her cheeks as she remembered the humiliation he had put her and her friends through during their time at Hogwarts.
Filthy little Mudblood…
She remembered even now how ashamed she had felt when he had called her that…that horrible name. Now it was as common as the poverty and death around them. If you weren't one of them, you were…nothing. Nothing.
Shaking fingers salvaged the sandwiches and re-bagged the bruised fruit as she struggled to see through tear stained vision.
"She's not bad, that one," said the stout official as he gave Hermione a swift kick in the rear and caused her to drop one of her oranges.
She winced. Too many times had she felt like this, like a piece of meat, something to be objectified. She knew others, her neighbors, a young woman on the same street where she was living that used her body to make money but she had not yet succumbed to such a cruel fate.
Hermione glanced up her eyes blazing with hatred. Time and the new world had demeaned her – turned her into less than a human being, left her begging, poor and hungry in the streets riddled with the dead and dying. But these men, this Ministry would not demean her further.
She defied the official with a glare. He shoved her face towards his booted feet.
"Kiss them you filthy bitch. Kiss them and tell me I'm better than you," he ordered lifting up his wand.
Hermione resisted. To her left she heard Lily's frightened voice.
"Leave 'mione alone!"
"Shut your child up, you red headed bitch!"
Ginny cradled Lily in terror, whispering to her that good children must be quiet and to listen to the man even though Hermione could hear the fear in her voice now, it was real and palpable. She turned her head to see the fat official's wand lifted up and she pulled away still resisting even though he grabbed a fistful of her curls and pulled her nearly to a standing position so that she could see his face. He was disfigured, a large scar running down the left, fleshy side of his cheek and he had tiny eyes that glittered like gems.
"Kiss me you little whore."
It was not a request but a command and even as Hermione felt her meager breakfast threatening her she swallowed and closed her eyes trembling in fear.
"Kiss me or you won't get your food and your disgusting little friends and family will go hungry, won't they?"
Tears escaped from behind Hermione's closed eyes as she shook in loathing and disgust.
A force beyond what Hermione could resist compelled her to take three steps forward and he smelled of cigarettes and sweat and she wanted to vomit, to retch over his shiny new boots and tell him to go to hell and leave her alone but she couldn't and-
"We don't have time for this! She's a Mudblood. Merlin knows what kind of disease they carry."
It was Draco Malfoy's voice that broke through her terrified thoughts and her eyes snapped open. Hermione wasn't sure if she wanted to feel relief or indignation – either way she was glad for the interruption even though Draco had already turned away from her and was pulling on the black sleeves of his companion.
"Come on," he urged, "We'll be late."
The other man laughed and let her go, spitting on her for good measure. Hermione backed away, stumbled into the empty street, trying not to cry. When she looked away from her tormentor she was met with Draco's silver eyes once more.
Their gaze was short but the recognition in those eyes was clear. He quickly nodded towards the discarded, wrinkled bag on the ground.
"Take your bag and get off our streets."
Hermione's heart was hammering with hatred, fear, and humiliation. The two officials walked off without another word leaving Hermione standing in the empty street, with Ginny and Lily cowering nearby.
Once alone Ginny stood quickly.
"Are you…ok?" she whispered. Hermione hugged her friend tightly and then hugged Lily as well to assure them both that she was. And she was. She had been in a worse state before – this was nothing – this was everyday.
This was life since Voldemort had taken over the Ministry. This was her future as far as Hermione could see.