Author's Chapter Notes:

What started off as a simple one shot for the Malfoy Manor blackmail challenge, morphed into something infinitely more fun :D The OC characters of Alis and Elsa were conjured from my own mind.

Caisteal Abhail

As the morning light filtered through her thick curtains, he knew staying the night had been a mistake. He hadn't been able to leave her for the first time since their relationship began. He wasn't a fool, she would be angry that he'd risked both their reputations and her engagement to that pauper Weasley, but he'd gone past the point of caring. He was weary, heart sick actually, and that was enough to beg for a Dementor's Kiss.

Heart sick? Salazar Slytherin strike him down. He couldn't deny that he loved her, as soppy as that sounded. It was her own fault really for being so defiant and mouthy, with all that ridiculous hair and Muggle clothing. His hand splayed across her stomach, gently caressing the long jagged scar that his fellow Death Eater, Dolohov had gifted her with many years ago.

Nothing delighted the wizard better than the simple fact, he knew Granger better than those fools in the Order ever would. He appreciated her cunning and strength, her subtle manipulations, intelligence and her way around a cauldron. Merlin, the witch could brew a potion that would scare Severus Snape into fealty. His little witch, master manipulator and Mudblood.

Smirking, his raked his nails across her nipple, feeling smug as the slight touch had her moaning in her sleep. He loved how he could elicit such a reaction from her, the anger and prejudice had slipped away the moment their lips had touched and all they knew was each other. Outside of the bedroom had been awkward at first, neither knowing how to act but she'd masked her arousal and treated him as before, like Thestral shit on her shoe

'For Merlin's sake,' she muttered as his hand dipped down to caress her soft thigh. 'Now I know why I send you home.'

'And why is that?' he whispered in her ear, causing the witch to break out in tiny goose bumps and shiver, pressing herself closer to his body.

'I've never met a wizard who got turned on as much as you.'

'I can't help it, you look like a buffet breakfast laid out, waiting for me to feast.'

Laughing softly, she entwined their fingers, bringing his hand to her mouth so she could drop kisses on his palm. 'That's just awful.'

His smirk grew wider as he groped her breast, his thumb caressing the peak of her nipple.

'Do you always sound so- odd in the morning?' She tried to turn her head but he pressed his lips to her neck, keeping her in place.

'Odd how?'

She gasped as his fingers left her breast and delved between her thighs, touching her with the expertise of an experienced lover. He knew the most sensitive parts of her body, where she would beg, moan and just where to make her scream and Merlin, did he want to make her scream. 'I-I don't know...lighter?'

He chuckled against her ear and pressed his fingers inside her body, slowly and deliberately dragging them in and out, causing the witch to curse softly. 'Lighter, Granger?' He bit down hard on her ear and she stiffened in his embrace.

'What did you call me?'

His blood ran cold and her fingers wrapped tightly around his wrist, pausing his explorations.

'What did you call me?' she repeated and held his hand away from her, he could see her cheek twitching and her body was rigid in an effort not to turn around and curse him,

'Granger,' he stated and felt the weight of the world lift off his shoulders. 'What would you prefer I call you? Potter's Whore? Mudblood? Pick one and I'll use it.'

Hermione sat up quickly, Accio'ing her wand and whipping around to face him. With an almighty scream, she tumbled backwards, her legs tangling in the sheets as she hit the ground with a thud.

'Want a hand?' he asked, laughing when she merely screeched in response. 'So, no then?'

More curse words fell from her lips and there was also the sound of rustling fabric as she frantically tied the sheet around her body and stood on unsteady legs. 'Malfoy, where is Lucius?'

'Father?' He shifted on the bed, causing the blanket to pool around his waist and she groaned, as a pleasurable thrum pulsed through her body at seeing his lithe, toned chest.

'Yes, your father!' she hissed and pointed her wand at his face.

'I would expect him to be at the Ministry- working, Granger. Isn't that where you're supposed to be?'

'You are an unbelievable wanker!' Hermione yelled. 'It isn't enough that you're blackmailing me, but now you resort to taking me against my will?'

His lips formed a wicked smirk as his eyes lazily perused her sheet covered body. 'I'll admit to the blackmail, Granger, but even you can't deny that last night was not against your will. In fact, I believe you enjoyed yourself.'

A flush stole across her chest and covered her face; she cried out again and muttered under her breath, transfiguring the sheet into a simple dress. 'Wait until your Father hears about this, Malfoy.' She snarled and lifted her wand, Disapparating out of her flat.

Scrambling to his feet, he summoned his clothing and dressed quickly. If Granger told his Father, there wouldn't be a place on this earth he could hide to escape punishment. He had to stop the mouthy witch before she ruined everything.

Hermione's Apparition was slightly off, as she had intended to land in the centre of Lucius Malfoy's office but instead found herself soaked to the bone, knee deep in fountain water in the atrium. Apparating should never be conducted whilst under emotional strain, and since the end of the war select Ministry employees were now allowed to Apparate directly to their chosen location. Thankfully in her current state she had the suitable clearance or she may have ended up in the Thames, or worse in front of the Knight Bus.

'Merlin's blue balls!' she cursed and stumbled out, leaving large puddles of water in her wake. Fury radiated off the witch. No one stopped to reprimand her less than ladylike entrance into the Ministry, nor did they try to dry her, for they knew who she was and what Hermione Granger was capable of.

A collective sigh of relief moved through the crowds of workers as she snarled 'School Governor's Office!' and the lift whisked her away. How could Malfoy do this to her? Had he no shame?

Well, the answer was obviously of course not!

The past four years had been spent paying for the wizard's silence. It was the dark cloud that hovered so precariously above her head, that tiny nagging voice that reminded her that today could be the dreaded day that Draco Malfoy sealed her within the walls of Azkaban by telling her most precious secret. He had unwittingly caught her buying Class A restricted Potion's ingredients in the dirtiest, most disgusting hole in Knockturn Alley. Had the news reached the Ministry's many ears, heroine or not, Hermione Granger would have been sentenced to a life behind magical bars. And whilst the potion itself wasn't illegal itself, some of the more potent ingredients had to be obtained by less than savoury means, thus its classification and the mounds of paperwork just to obtain a permit for the privilege of requesting to brew the potion.

The thought of being pregnant at her young age had filled the witch with a paralysing fear. Unlike most of the young, single witches of their world, Hermione had been smart enough to realise that magical offspring born from a need to fill their world with joy and happiness was not the most realistic endeavour. Her dream was to travel the world, lose herself in the library of Alexandria, learn to paint in the myriad of cobblestone streets in Copala, tramp through the Russian wilderness and have an illicit affair with an Australian named Jeff. However those romantically inclined dreams had been drastically invaded by one Ronald Weasley who basked in the glory of finally capturing his witch and thought the world should adjust accordingly to his plans of repopulating the redhead minority. His plan was painfully simplistic and he would dig in his heels, whine to his Mother and wear Hermione down until she was fat with his baby and dutifully attending the household.

Hermione Granger would not become a brood mare and most certainly did not want to ever have a baby with Ronald Weasley.

But of course Ronald Weasley wasn't the only objector to her future; Draco Malfoy had played his part beautifully, finding her vulnerable, desperately clinging to the shattered yet familiar relationship with Ron. Hermione hadn't wanted to admit failure but also refused to shoulder any responsibility for their current situation, truth be told, she hadn't wanted to be alone and her best friend provided an easy, albeit incredibly irritating distraction. And that is how Malfoy found her, a desperate witch, facing a desperately mundane future. He had been leaning against the wall as she'd exited Perfectly Pristine Potent Potions, at the end of Knockturn Alley, smirking and twirling his wand in his hand. He'd murmured what a bad Witch she was and insinuated how she'd rot in Azkaban for this. Hermione had caved. Her mind had been clouded by the dark magic the Alley exuded, and she had not bothered to learn how he'd tracked her down. At that point, the thought of her freedom being taken was enough to persuade her to agree to almost anything he suggested.

'Tell me what you want so I can be on my way.' she'd hissed at the smirking, arrogant wizard.

'Reduce my sentence.'

'Malfoy you know I haven't any-'

'Hush,' he whispered and pushed off the wall, his grey eyes open and lacking malice. 'My mother is ill Granger,' he said and she had to strain to look up at him. When had Malfoy grown so tall? 'She was exiled, if you recall?'

She did recall, in vivid clarity the day Narcissa Malfoy was exiled from the British Isles for her crimes against the Wizarding World. The only country that would welcome her was France, which had, oddly enough, remained a neutral country during their war against Lord Voldemort. Draco Malfoy had been inconsolable. Even more so when his sentence was revealed to be five years in Azkaban followed by two years alongside his father, in confinement at Malfoy Manor.

'Your confinement was over weeks ago, Malfoy. I don't understand how I can help?'

'My license to leave the Empire was revoked- for fifty years!' he hissed and took another step towards the witch. His chest bumped against hers and Hermione gasped at how warm he was and how good he smelled.

'I have no sway with the Minister, Malfoy.' Hermione had said quietly. 'But I'll see what I can do.'

His smirk returned. 'See that you do, Granger, or Weasley,' Malfoy paused, a long slender pale finger ran across her jaw and she shuddered, in what she prayed was revulsion, 'will find out the true reason behind your lack of fertility.'

Stalking down the corridor, Hermione fumed. He was to blame for all her troubles, Draco sodding Malfoy. She growled under her breath. He'd taken advantage of her, using her body while Polyjuiced as his own father. He was sick, twisted, demented, skilled- skidding to a halt Hermione squeezed her eyes shut, willing the scream that begged to be heard, back down her throat.

Skilled?

She blushed. Even in Lucius Malfoy's body, Draco Malfoy knew how to touch a witch, how to say just the right thing to make her tackle him to the ground, ready to be ravished.

Sod him!

This was not the time for school girl day dreams. She'd shagged her lover's son, and that fact should not be arousing at all!

Taking a deep breath, she strode forward and kicked Lucius' office door almost off its hinges.

'Miss Granger?' his brow rose neatly as he signed his name to parchment with a flurry of ink, quill and peacock feather.

'I'm going to kill your son.' he snarled and wandlessly forced the door to slam behind her.

'And may I ask why you wish to murder my only child?' The quill was placed gently in front of him, and his face rose, meeting her angry gaze evenly.

'He pretended to be you!'

'I fail to see how Draco emulating his father is a crime, Miss Granger.'

'If by emulating you mean that he used Polyjuice Potion so that he could have sex with me!' she snapped.

The corner of his eye twitched and his lips pursed in a rather unattractive manner. 'I beg your pardon?'

'Lucius-'

'Miss Granger, I have not given you permission to speak with me so informally.'

Hermione was taken aback by his viciousness. 'Lucius, why are you-'

Her mouth fell open in shock as he stood fluidly, his head tilted to one side as his wand trained on the witch. 'Miss Granger, you are skating on very thin ice.'

Her eyes darted back and forth. Was he playing some sort of twisted game with her? 'I don't know what you're playing at,' she hissed. 'But you need to discipline your son. How dare he pose as you, just to have sex with me?'

'Am I correct in assuming you have just completed a dalliance with my only child, Miss Granger?'

Through gritted teeth she said, 'Yes, you can assume your son just fucked me quite thoroughly.'

He had the nerve to smirk as he strode around his desk. Hermione squeaked as he pushed her and her back hit the cold, stone wall. 'Are you regretting your decision to bed a former Death Eater?'

'Oh, for Merlin's sake, stop it!' Hermione snapped and pressed her hands to his chest, surprised at just how cold he felt. 'When we started this Lucius, I never expected,' she paused, a blush stealing up her pale cheeks. 'To like it as much as I did. Nor did I think I would want to see you so often, but I do and I hate to think that Draco may have ruined everything.'

His face moved closer and she shivered under his intense grey eyes. He remained silent, simply watching her lips as they parted and her breath fell in steady pants.

'It's bad enough that he knows about Ron and the potion. Merlin knows I should have been more careful brewing with restricted ingredients, but I just couldn't bear it. I don't want to be a Weasley, Lucius, you know this. He just had to be there at the weakest point in my life, ready to take advantage of me.'

His lips had quirked into a wicked smirk and his hand, that had always been so soft and gentle clenched her hair with a grip so tight she went cross eyed. 'You brewed a restricted Potion to use on Mr. Weasley?'

'You're hurting me,' she whispered as her eyes filled with tears. 'No, I used it on myself. For Merlin's sake, Lucius, you know this. It was your idea after all!'

His eyes narrowed and lips set a thin, hard line. He looked about to speak when the door to his office was hit with a rather explosive spell, splintering the wood into three even pieces.

'Father- Granger is on her- oh, she's already here.' Draco Malfoy looked frantic, his hair unkempt, clothes crumpled and wand firmly between his fingers. He spared a glance for the broken door, his magic had always been a bit erratic when emotional, so it wasn't an unusual sight.

'Yes, Draco,' Lucius drawled, raking his fingers across the witch's cheek. 'Miss Granger was just regaling me in a very interesting tale.'

'I can explain...' Draco murmured, his eyes taking in Hermione, who was pale, her legs trembling and holding her heart as if it would burst from her chest.

'You could have jeopardised everything.' Lucius hissed and spun around, bringing the witch's back hard against his chest. 'For a filthy little Mudblood.'

'Lucius!' Hermione protested. 'Why are you speaking-'

'Remove your hands from her, Father.' Draco interrupted the witch in a voice so calm; it belied the magic that sparked from his fingertips.

'I would imagine you thought it amusing to take my form and bed Miss Granger?' Lucius asked, smirking and dragging his fingers across the swell of Hermione's breast.

She whimpered under his touch, but not from arousal- she was frightened and wanted nothing more than to Disapparate from Lucius' office to her nice, warm home in Muggle London.

'I was disgusted,' Draco replied, wincing as the witch gasped, her eyes wrought with hurt. 'I was disgusted when I saw you fucking her, Father,' he explained. 'at the Manor during the Restitution Ball.'

'Oh, you saw that, did you?' Lucius smirked wider. 'She was a delightful distraction from the simpering Muggle loving fools that thought to change me.'

'You deliberately fucked her knowing how I-'

'You feelings were inconsequential!' Lucius bellowed and pushed the small witch from his arms. She stumbled and Draco reached out for her but she pulled away, confused, hurt and unbelievably angry. 'I had already signed your contracts. We were fortunate another family even considered you an acceptable husband after your failure!'

'My failure?' he whispered brokenly. Hermione looked up from beneath her hair, her own feelings forgotten as Draco's pain tugged at her heart. 'My failure was allowing you to control my life for so long. My failure was thinking that she,' he pointed to Hermione. 'would never accept me for who I truly am because of this.' He rolled up his sleeve. 'That filthy half-breed's mark on my arm. But I was wrong, she is ten times the witch Greengrass will ever be. I would rather rot in Azkaban than complete our contract.'

Lucius snarled and Hermione raised her wand, pointing it at the tall, former Death Eater. 'I hope you aren't thinking of harming you son, Mr. Malfoy. Whilst I might not care for him much at the moment, I will not hesitate to defend him should you decide your magic is the best form of punishment.'

She did not miss Draco's smug smirk at her defence or Lucius' anger growing and now directed solely at her.

'You would defend him, Miss Granger?' he drawled, remaining perfectly elegant in his stance, his anger now carefully controlled. 'Draco, how many times have you fucked this witch while Polyjuiced as me?'

When Draco didn't answer, Lucius turned his head slowly, his eyes piercing through his son's. 'Ahh, hundreds it would seem.' A deep, dark chuckle reverberated through the small office and Hermione shivered, realising he was using a wandless Legilimency on his own son. 'What a creative little witch you are,' He licked his lips, maintaining his eye contact with Draco. 'My, my and quite flexible as well, Miss Granger. Had I know of your affinity for Death Eaters-' she flushed, knowing he was viewing the memories of their time together playing kidnapped Muggleborn. 'I would have continued our little affair. What a fine Mistress you would have made.'

'You're an arse.' Hermione snapped then turned her attention to Draco. 'Was I just a plaything for you, Malfoy? Did you sit about with your Slytherin cronies and joke about the stupid little Mudblood, willingly giving herself to a disgusting, vile Death Eater?'

He didn't answer but his cheeks tinged pink.

'You unconscionable bastard,' she whispered, hastily wiping the tears that had begun to fall. 'All these years you tricked me, treated me like a,' A choked sob fell from her lips. 'Like a whore. Did that amuse you, Malfoy, to see me begging like a two bit Knockturn Alley whore?'

'And what was I supposed to do, Granger? Should I have come to your little Muggle shit hole, begging for a chance and knowing you'd either curse me or laugh in my face?'

'But you did laugh in my face!' she screamed, fury causing her magic to spark from every pore in her body. 'You tricked me into believing that he-' She jabbed her wand in the direction of Lucius. 'Loved me and wanted me! I gave up everything for him!'

Lucius simply raised a brow, and perched on the edge of his desk. 'Miss Granger, I am not averse-'

'SHUT UP!' she screamed and her wand sparked blue, sewing Lucius Malfoy's lips together. 'Had I wanted you to speak, I would have asked it of you!'

Draco struggled to keep the amusement from his face at his father's fury, his lips sewn neatly together. What a lovely picture that made. He wondered briefly if he could convince Granger to keep him like this.

'Was it all a lie?' she asked finally, searching Draco's face for any kind of remorse.

'Which bit, Granger?' he asked and turned his cold, grey eyes to her. He'd had years of practice masking his true feelings and now the proverbial cat was out of the bag. He wasn't about to put himself on the line for Granger.

'That night,' she paused, her wand moving slowly from her side and pressing hard to his neck. 'You asked if I'd always wanted to get one over on your son,' Draco paled and he too raised his wand. 'You remember don't you, Malfoy? You – Lucius- said that Polyjuice was terribly easy to come by and what fun it might be to see how Draco fucked. You must remember Malfoy; we were in your room after all. Slytherin Quidditch Captain accosts the hapless Gryffindor Headgirl...'

'I wanted to see if you reacted to me,' he shrugged and tried to act as calm as possible, but his insides were being shredded to pieces. 'And you did, more than you reacted to Father.'

Her eyes fluttered closed and her breathing was harsh. And when those fury filled, brown eyes refocused on him, he felt a cold dread seep up his spine. 'I did, didn't I? More fool me, Draco Malfoy.' With a practiced ease, she pulled back her arm, fist clenched and punched him squarely on the nose, smirking when it broke with a satisfying crunch. 'If you dare contact me, Draco Malfoy, I will make your life a living hell!'

With a mocking curtsey to Lucius, she stalked from the room, her eyes drifting to a pale, blonde witch pressed against the wall with tears falling from her eyes. 'You wouldn't have wanted to marry him anyway,' she snapped, uncaring of the witch's feelings. 'He'll never love anyone other than himself.'

Lucius smirked as the threads holding his lips together melted away and he regained the control of his voice. 'I must say, Draco, I am very pleased with how much you've grown into your inheritance.'

'Inheritance?' His son stood shocked, face pale, and hand absently raking through his hair.

'My hopes were dashed when I realised you were more like your pathetic, fool of a mother than my family. But now I see,' His hand folded over Draco's shoulder. 'Now I see my influence is finally breaching that Muggle loving brain of yours.'

'Is that how you saw me?' Draco murmured and turned to face his father, uncaring that blood dripped onto his white shirt and smeared across lips. 'As a Muggle loving fool because I could not murder?'

'My only regret was allowing your mother to influence you for so long. Had I reared you as my father reared me, then perhaps our world might be different now.'

'Forced into the fealty of a madman?' hissed Draco and he squeezed his eyes closed to stop the sickening rush of bile that rose from his stomach. 'You are proud that I manipulated a witch into loving me whilst I was Polyjuiced as you?'

Lucius nodded slowly, 'You have shown your true colours, my boy,' Squeezing Draco's shoulder, he reached behind him to the desk and removed a small, golden key. 'Today has proven what I always knew about you, Draco. The Dark Lord could have won with you by his side.' He pressed the key into Draco's hand. 'A key to the family vault is customary when the son reaches maturity.'

Clenching his teeth, Draco breathed deeply through his nose. His father was proud because he'd betrayed the one witch he'd always loved. He felt disgraceful, an utter stain on society. All the memories he'd shared with Hermione Granger came rushing back, taunting his mind; the look in her eyes when they'd made love, how she'd curled against him, stroking his scars and touching his mark with a tenderness he'd only dreamed of receiving.

Merlin, he'd royally fucked everything up.

How he hated his father at the moment, but he hated himself even more. He'd allowed Granger to fall in love with the one wizard who would gleefully Avada her into dust, instead of putting his own feelings on the line. As a plan formed in his mind, he smirked and held up the key, marvelling that something so tiny could prove so significant to his life. He would accept his father's offering but not because it pleased him that Lucius was proud. Merlin no, he would use the Malfoy generosity and win the witch back, even if he had to grease a few palms to get what he wanted.

'Draco, it appears we have a visitor.'

Pulled out of his thoughts of Hermione Granger, Draco groaned as the weeping blonde witch entered the office with her head lowered and handkerchief, dabbing at her eyes.

'I'm sorry to intrude,' she said softly and raised her beautiful face to the two wizards. Had Draco been a hormonal teenage boy he may have been swayed by her obvious attempts to guilt him. But thankfully he'd matured to a point in his life where simpering eye candy was simply a bore.

'Are you really sorry?' Draco snapped. 'Because I was certain you'd been listening outside the door all this time.'

She had the grace to blush even as a calculating glint crossed her eyes. 'You knew I was there but didn't bother casting a silencing charm?'

Draco shrugged. 'I don't want to marry you, Astoria, so why should I care?'

'We have a contract!' she hissed and glared between the two, uncaring Malfoy wizards. 'I will tell my father!'

'What will you tell him, Miss Greengrass? Will you tell him that his precious daughter was skulking about the Ministry, eavesdropping on her future family?'

'No,' she smiled coyly, running her finger along her bottom lip in what Draco assumed was a display to entice him. It didn't work. 'I will tell my Father that you have been sleeping with Hermione Granger- breaking our contract!' She seemed so pleased that Draco almost hated to burst her little bubble- almost.

'I promised fidelity only after the first heir has been born healthy and magically gifted.'

'What?' she whispered and squeaked as Lucius stalked towards her.

'Miss Greengrass, it would be in your best interest not to damage my son's reputation.'

She backed away to the door, her wand shaking in her small tanned hand. 'Then perhaps I will damage yours, Mr. Malfoy. After all, the memories are of you and Granger; not my Draco.'

Lucius snarled and raised his wand, his intent to remove the memories from the witch, but she was too fast and slipped under his arm. He cursed roughly and Draco shook his head and laughed. 'I trust you'll take care of that little problem, Father?' The younger Malfoy might detest his father with a passion but he wasn't above using the older wizard for his own ends. Lucius would deal with Astoria Greengrass. He knew he could trust his father to silence the silly bint so he could concentrate on getting Granger right where he wanted her.

Hermione had spent so much time in her Pensieve that she wasn't even sure what day it was. With a careful, calculating eye, she'd viewed every single memory of her time with Lucius Malfoy and she'd come to the sad realisation that not only did she love him, but Draco struck a chord within her heart, as well. How on earth could she face the world with her shame so proudly on display?

Breaking the news to Ron had been difficult, he'd wept and begged for another chance even as she informed him that she was in love with Malfoy- careful not to elaborate which Malfoy- she didn't need Draco's death on her hands. Although her sympathy for her former fiancé and best friend evaporated when he told her quite smugly, through his tears, that he'd been sleeping with a witch the entire time they'd been together. So she'd fled, escaping to her Uncle's small house by the sea in Wales, which proved to be an excellent choice, it was snowing and Owls couldn't make the perilous journey without several days break, which meant the howlers from Mrs. Weasley hadn't yet arrived.

Sighing with the weariness of an ancient witch, Hermione unclasped the lid to her tea jar and heaped a teaspoon into the teapot. A nice cup of lemon tea always calmed the witch. With her nerves frayed beyond recognition, she needed the familiarity of her home and the somewhat mundane routine of assistant to the head defender of the Magical Law Enforcement Division.

'Are you happy with yourself?' Only years of training with Harry had prevented her from being surprised. That and she'd felt the gentle hum of her wards being breached.

'Would you like a cup of tea?' Hermione asked and turned to smile at the angry red haired witch that stood in a defensive position behind her. 'Are you going to curse me in my own home, Ginevra?'

Her nostrils flared. 'I will do what I like, you dirty bitch!' she yelled and her eye twitched.

'I don't believe you will.' Hermione murmured and placed the teapot on a placemat, along with three cups and sugar.

'Who are you to tell me what I can and cannot do, after what you did to my brother?'

Hermione barely acknowledged Ginny Weasley as the witch stood as tall as she possibly could and maintained the steadiness of her wand. 'It is my life, Ginevra, and Ron has done far worse things to me over the years.'

'He didn't fuck Malfoy.'

She's right about that.

'That would be odd, wouldn't it?' Hermione sipped her tea, raising her eyes to meet that of her supposed friend.

'I always knew you were a whore.'

Arching a brow Hermione gave a witch a condescending smile. 'I did not realise that sleeping with three wizards in my entire life defined me as a whore. Goodness, what does that make you then?'

Ginny Weasley was nothing if not predictable and Hermione watched the Bat Bogey Hex form in her mind before the spell had even left her lips. So she was ready, casting a protective bubble around her body and a defensive spell already creating a spark from her wand.

Hermione laughed when the younger witch struck and failed to penetrate her much stronger magic. This merely incensed the red haired witch further. 'I am confused as to why you're so angry?' she said and circled the Ginny Weasley, as the red haired witch tried curse after curse in an attempt to hurt the Muggleborn. 'Ron told me he'd been fucking Pansy Parkinson for the past five years, longer than I've been seeing Malfoy, but I suppose that's all right because he's your brother,' Ginny's lips pursed and her body tensed, her temper raging beneath her blue eyes. 'I told him I loved Malfoy, which is the truth. Can you still be jealous after all these years? Tell me it isn't true?'

'Jealous?' Ginny spat. 'Of what, Granger? That awful hair or perhaps your ugly face?'

Hermione laughed again. 'Is that the best you have? My hair might resemble a rat's nest but I can charm it to behave and my face- well, Malfoy doesn't have a problem with it and neither do I. It's only your petty jealousy that concerns me.'

Ginny let out a bark of laughter. 'The only thing that concerns me is you stay away from my Harry.'

'I'm not going to do that.'

'Then I cannot be held responsible for what I'm about to do.' Ginny said menacingly.

'And what is that, Weasley?' Ginny paled as Draco Malfoy sauntered into the little cottage house, sparing her a brief glance before walking straight up to Hermione.

'Granger...'

'Don't, Malfoy. I have nothing to say to you.'

'What the sod is going on here!' Harry Potter bellowed and stalked into the cottage, his bright red Auror robes starkly contrasting the pretty white and purple kitchen .

'Ginny! Who is looking after the children?'

'Err...they are at home.'

'Alone?' Harry hissed.

'I put a charm on the bed to tell me when they woke up.'

'I warned you not to come here, Ginny,' Harry's voice was low and even. Hermione shivered as his magical power was evident with just that simple sentence. 'Hermione's business is her own. Ron's business is his own. Don't even get me started on Malfoy.'

'But Harry, what she did...'

'Was no better than what Ron did, except we all knew what Ron was doing.'

Hermione gasped. 'You knew?'

Harry flushed. 'I knew about you and Malfoy, too- although, not this...'

'Potter...' Draco said warningly and Harry got the message, even as an Auror he didn't want to duel Malfoy, especially since the kids were expecting him home soon and in one piece.

'I had to come, she has disgraced my family!' Ginny whined and Harry rolled his eyes.

'You disgrace your own family, Weasley,' Draco sneered. 'By being a fool. You need to keep your nose out of other people's business, especially mine.'

'Are you going to let him speak to me that way?' Ginny poked Harry in the arm and he pushed her away, his green eyes filled with anger.

'You will go home, gather the children and stay with Molly until I call for you. Do I make myself clear?'

Appearing like a chastised child, Ginny Weasley dropped her head and nodded.

'As I live and breathe, a quiet and submissive Weasley. Well done, Potter.'

With a feral growl Ginny raised her wand, but Draco was ready for her, blasting a curse towards the witch just as a rather nasty Diffindo left her wand. Hermione deflected the spell, unsure why she felt the need to lunge in front of Draco Malfoy and protect him. Harry mirrored her actions, both spells hurtled around the room and Ginny grunted as her own curse hit her with such force it lifted her into the air and flung the witch against the wall. The red head fell to the ground, blood dripping from her nose and temple. Hermione vaguely heard Harry scream 'Look out!' Before Draco's curse hit her directly on the chest, a gurgling sound bubbled up her throat and she gagged as blood spilled across her chest and splattered to the tiled floor.

Looking down she was overcome by a wave of dizziness and she stumbled forward...'Draco?' Her ears flooded with the sound of her weakening heart and scent of masculinity as Draco Malfoy picked her up in his arms and Disapparated.

Hermione felt as though she was floating on a sea of the most luxurious down pillows. She was loath to move, lest this perfectly serene and comfortable dream end. She took a deep breath and tried to lick her lips but her mouth was dry and felt like sawdust. Blearily, she opened her eyes, and almost fell from the bed in surprise at her surroundings. The room was clearly in a hospital but it resembled a Queen's boudoir with its four poster bed, plush thick carpeting and the house elves all standing in a row waiting to serve her.

House elves?

They looked cowed, their big green eyes focused slightly to her left and when Hermione turned, she gasped at the blond wizard, spread over a small, hard looking chair. His long lithe legs curled uncomfortably beneath him, his arms dangling at his sides and his face- Morgana! He looked so peaceful and normal that it took her breath away. Her gaze drifted down to his shirt, which was partially unbuttoned revealing a smattering of pale blond hair, to his tighter than normal black pants which needed a good wash.

'Having a good look, Granger?'

'Yes I was, actually.' Her eyes met his and he wasn't angry, far from it. He seemed almost amused at her casual perusal of his body. 'May I have a glass of water please?' she asked the elves who scrambled to help her, not only retrieving water but fruit, toast and a variety of cereals for her to choose from. 'Ah, thank you.' She smiled at the biggest elf that held out a flower. 'You're very sweet.' Beaming the elves disappeared as quickly as they had delivered her breakfast.

'I think they like you.'

'Lucky me.' she replied and carefully sipped a large glass of water. It instantly calmed her sore throat and she sighed happily.

'Granger I-'

'Where am I?' She ignored his huff and picked up a piece of toast, liberally covering it in margarine then marmalade.

'Arran.'

'Scotland?'

'Yes.'

'Is this Dagonet Hospital?'

'Potter wanted you treated at St Mungos but I wouldn't hear of it.'

'Dagonet, Malfoy?' Her voice had risen substantially and he smirked.

'Only the best for you, Granger.'

'I can't afford Dagonet!' she hissed and hurriedly began searching for her clothes.

'No, but Father can and he is taking care of it.'

'Your Father is paying for my stay in a private Wizarding hospital?' She sounded sceptical and he didn't blame her. Technically, Lucius was paying for her stay, he just wasn't aware of it yet.

'Just accept it as a gesture of kindness and move on.'

'I've always wanted to visit Arran,' Hermione rose from the bed, brushing off Draco's attempt to help her. 'I heard it's has a Wizarding village with descendants from Merlin.'

'Caisteal Abhail.' Draco supplied and Hermione nodded with an excited grin.

'Does it still exist?'

'The Ministry put edicts in place to protect it over three hundred years ago. The Dark Lord came here during the first war, hunting for anything relating to Merlin, but the villagers blocked his entry into the town.'

'They are that powerful?'

'Used to be. I'm unsure how they fared during his second attempt. I heard Father mention once that The Dark Lord wanted revenge on Arran, I don't know if he succeeded.'

'I'm sure we would have heard- wouldn't we?'

'Look Granger, if you're angling for me to take you, just ask.'

She gritted her teeth and he cursed his rudeness. Honestly, why couldn't he just be nice to her?

'Why did you really bring me to Dagonet?'

'Scars.' he said softly and her fingers curled around the sheets on her bed.

'What do you mean, scars?' she queried. He rose from the chair, his eyes never leaving hers as he reached her side in four steps.

'You hate them,' his voice murmured ever so gently and she let out a tiny whimper when his hands cupped her cheeks and his thumb caressed her bottom lip. 'Dagonet has the most gifted healers that work in the Wizarding World and Muggle. They know how to truly heal a patient, by using methods employed around the world.'

'I had heard they use ancient techniques?' She licked her lips, sucking her tongue quickly into her mouth when it came in contact with the soft pad of Draco's thumb.

'And Eastern medicine,' His adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed hard, but he didn't remove his hands, in fact they seemed to warm further from their prolonged touch to her skin. 'I know it's a reminder of the war, seeing your scars, I had them removed.'

'All of them?' Hermione asked and pulled open her nightgown, her mind spinning with a dizzy glee at the perfectly smooth skin from between her breasts, right down to below her knickers. The feeling of joy almost overwhelmed the witch and she looked up at Draco with confusion. 'Why did you really pretend to be Lucius?'

'What can I say, Granger? I've always wanted what other's have and I wanted to ruin Weasley's life.' She probably would have believed him, had his eyes not hardened and his hands clenched at his sides. Hermione realised with a start that he was protecting himself, from her!

'Stop being a sodding spanner Malfoy,' she snapped.

'What's a spanner?'

Hermione laughed and slapped her hands to her face. 'Merlin's wand, Malfoy. Is it that much to ask that you tell the truth. Don't I deserve that?'

His hands unclenched and Hermione could see drops of blood forming where his nails had dug into his palms. 'You deserve more than I could ever provide.'

'Malfoy!' She snarled. 'Tell me what the hell you were thinking!'

Draco grabbed her again, his large hands lifting the witch up to her knees. 'I was thinking how unfair it was that my Father managed to have you before I could. I was thinking that it would be marvellous revenge when Potty and the Weaselbee found out. I was thinking that you'd make an excellent accessory to my bed, servicing me when I returned home every day.'

Far from being angry she recognised the tone of his voice from Hogwarts, how he'd react to her and manipulated his way out of a corner. 'So after your little revenge fantasy,' Hermione said. 'Why else?'

His face was so close she could see the tiny hairs that had grown on his chin and the delicate silvery hue of his eyes, flecked with blue. How had she not noticed that before? 'You slapped me when we were children.'

'You deserved it.'

'Possibly,' he conceded. 'But I never forgot that moment. I realised that you weren't scared of me. You couldn't care less who I was or how high my blood status was. All you cared about was defending your honour and I respected that.'

'You respected me?'

He smirked and Hermione found it hard to concentrate when he was this close, plus he smelled oddly like parchment and ink, which she found rather appealing. 'Respected and hated.'

'If it makes you feel any better, I hated you as well.'

'We danced at the Yule ball.'

'Did we?'

'You don't remember?'

She thought for a moment before her eyes lit up. 'I do remember! The country dance?'

'For some reason, Dumbledore thought it appropriate to pair us together.'

Hermione laughed at the memory of her younger self, naive in the ways of their world and the etiquette surrounding a Wizarding ball. Their society was still steeped in Victorian customs and she hadn't quite understood what dancing with a wizard meant. As a child she'd been allowed to go with her school chums to the town hall disco once or twice where all the girls giggled and pointed at boys and they all danced in one big group. The intimacy of a Victorian Country Dance was a little hard to take in, especially since Draco Malfoy's name had appeared on her dance card. The country dance could last up to ten minutes for each pairing, depending on how fast or slow they chose to dance.

'Weren't the partners chosen at random?'

Draco's brow rose and Hermione grinned. 'Point taken, definitely Dumbledore, or at the very least Minerva, she always was a romantic.'

'I liked it.'

'The dance?'

'No, dancing with you,' he said and reached for her hand, gently rubbing her knuckles with his thumb. 'I wanted to curse you as well though and then kill Weasley when he made you cry.'

'You saw that?'

'Everyone saw that,' Draco murmured and kissed the back of her hand, his lips lingering for longer than was necessary. 'You weren't as forgettable as you'd hoped, Granger.'

'What is that supposed to mean?' She asked and tried to tug her hand from his because it was proving to be entirely too lovely and distracting.

'It means when you founded your little Army, the target on your back became a bloody turret!'

'Because of the DA?'

'No, you silly witch!' he hissed. 'Because you'd shown the world that a Muggleborn witch could be smarter than a Pureblood, you'd bested Delores Umbridge, and you stunned the entire Slytherin house into silence over your magical power. They were all frightened of you!'

'Because of my magic?'

'Merlin's great blue balls, Granger,' He pulled her impossibly close and his face blurred as her eyes tried to focus. 'You made yourself a target, not because of your association with Potty and his band of blood traitors. Your magic defied logic, ripped apart everything we'd ever been taught, and cast a shadow of doubt over the Dark Lord and his teachings. You succeeded in destroying centuries of inherited beliefs, not Potty, not Dumbledore and most certainly not the Order of the Phoenix. You.'

'They treated me so poorly because I made everyone rethink their beliefs?'

'My Father went to Azkaban, not because of Potty but his own inane prejudice, and I knew at that moment I couldn't be the same as him. I wouldn't go to jail because some delusional despot believed himself bigger than the world. But it was too late for me, because by then the Dark Lord had taken my mother, and threatened to kill her if I didn't kill the Headmaster.'

'Wait . . . why didn't any of this come out at your trial?' She gave his back a squeeze.

When had she wrapped her arms around his waist?

'The vanishing cupboards had been Severus' idea-' he continued, ignoring her question. '-after I had failed many times to murder Dumbledore. I did manage to repair them quickly but we stalled the Dark Lord, for Severus had a plan you see-'

'He asked the Headmaster for help,' Hermione said and rested her head against Draco's chest. Her heart was at war. She wanted to comfort the wizard but she didn't want him to think all was forgiven, but she couldn't shake the lovely feeling, holding him invoked. 'Dumbledore told Snape he would have to do your task, and he was inconsolable.'

'We were on the run for a year after Severus killed him, not from the Dark Lord but your Order cronies. The wolf almost caught us a few times as did that pink haired bint.'

'Tonks was your cousin; she died protecting Slytherin first years.' Tears sprung to Hermione's eyes, the death of Remus and Tonks still felt raw after all these years. She missed the spunky witch and the old wolf and she knew Harry had never quite recovered from their loss. 'You should have more respect for the dead.'

'Did you respect Dolohov after he tried to kill you?' Draco asked and she didn't miss the anger in his voice or the way he held her tighter to his chest.

'No, but he wasn't my family and I wasn't on the wrong side of the war.'

'Would it have been the wrong side if you'd lost?'

'What do you mean?'

'To the victor go the spoils.'

'Malfoy!' She pulled away from him and sat cross legged on the bed, feeling slightly bereft from the loss of his embrace.

'I was with Severus in the Forest of Dean when he sent his Patronus to help Potter. I watched you for hours, starting a fire, brushing your hair- bathing,' At her outraged cry, he laughed. 'Severus dragged me away called me a little pervert and threatened to wash my eyes with soap. That little episode provided some excellent wanking material for my confinement.'

'You're a pig,' she whispered, her face flushing darkly.

He smirked. 'Why Granger, because I'm honest or because it turns you on to know that I wanked thinking of you?'

'Maybe a little of both.' she whispered and bit down hard on her tongue, cursing her mouth for speaking when her brain had refused it.

'I killed Fenrir Greyback,' he said it so casually, that at first Hermione wasn't sure she'd heard him correctly. 'After he bit Brown, he was coming after you. And of course, those two idiots you call friends were too busy trying to be stealthy to notice. So I killed him- Blaise helped, I'm sure he'll appreciate your thanks at some stage.'

'We didn't find Fenrir's body.' Hermione felt a little sick to think that Draco Malfoy had killed and in her honour, but it had been war after all and they'd all done less than savoury things to obtain a win.

'He fertilised my Mother's roses, as did the Lestrange brothers but my Father was to blame for their deaths.'

'Malfoy, do you realise what you're telling me? One Floo to Harry and you'll either both be locked away or even kissed!'

'Would that make you happy, Granger, to see the heir of the Malfoy family locked away?'

Hermione's heart ached. 'No, it wouldn't make me very happy at all.'

'I read the victim statements from our trial, and what happened in the ballroom.'

'I was the only witness left alive and not on trial.'

'You lied.'

'I did lie.'

'Perhaps I should place a Floo call?' He smirked and held up his hands in defeat when her wand dug into his stomach. 'Just kidding, Granger, don't get your knickers in a twist.'

'I lied for you,' Hermione said returning his smirk when his mouth gaped in shock. 'You sacrificed everything to save your mother and I wasn't about to let that go unnoticed.'

'They didn't check your memories or put you under Veritaserum?'

Hermione snorted. 'Of course not, I am the best friend to Harry Potter, and was instrumental in his great triumph against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Don't you read the papers?'

'Bloody Gryffindors.' He shook his head and sighed. 'My Father should have been sent to Prison, Merlin knows he deserved it more than my mother-'

'She owled me you know,' Hermione whispered, suddenly unsure if she should tell him at all. 'I couldn't open it at first; it sat on my bedside table for months and months.'

'What did she say?' His eyes held an emotion Hermione couldn't quite put her finger on, it was dark and made her body tingle, because she was certain it had everything to do with her.

'She told me to trust you,' she smiled and then bit down hard on her bottom lip. 'I knew she was sick, my grandmother is French you see, and would send me the magical papers from Vienne. A Malfoy cannot go unnoticed, even in the Muggle world and an exiled witch was always going to be front page news. She said she was sorry Malfoy, for everything she'd ever allowed you to do.'

He opened his mouth to, no doubt, retort in a completely scathing manner befitting a Malfoy, but she stopped him, reaching up to press her fingers to his lips. 'I understood even before I received her letter. My own prejudice had prevented me from seeing the pain you were in; my own beliefs and righteousness had forced me into becoming a witch I wasn't sure I even liked. Then Lucius came along and seduced me and I thought perhaps your Mother was right. That your family could be trusted and that you had changed.'

'And then I blackmailed you.'

'Yes, you can imagine that it didn't exactly endear you to my heart.'

He smirked then. 'I had to see for myself.'

'How it was to lower yourself with a Mudblood?' The anger and hurt was returning and she wanted to push him away or slap his face. Both would have given her immense satisfaction at that moment.

'Silly, silly witch,' he murmured and leaned over her body, nudging her nose with his own. 'They were always smiling, Potter and Weasley, even when they weren't with you. I figured it must be some kind of Gryffindor secret, being in the sunshine tends to make a lighter soul than festering under the black lake in the dungeons. And after the war the smiles were gone, but it was their eyes, Granger, a spark that you lit in those two morons that I wanted for myself.'

'You aren't making any sense.' Her hands pressed to his chest but rather than push him away, she realised with a squeak he was lifting her into his arms and burying his face into the crook of her neck.

'I wanted to bathe in your light, Granger.' His lips seared through her skin and she whimpered when his hands gripped her hips and pulled her so tight against his body there wasn't a single space between them. 'To have you look at me, like you looked at Weasley, or even have you curse me. I wanted anything you would give. I saw Father as a means to an end, I'd only planned on fucking you once and then becoming the good little Pureblood he always wanted. But once wasn't enough- the way you looked at him...'

'You made me fall in love with him.' she whispered and gently pried his face away from her body. 'I don't know if I can get past this.'

He hissed angrily and pushed her hands away. 'Should I summon him, Granger so you can fuck the old bastard in front of me?'

'There's no need for that,' she said quietly. 'This is entirely your fault, because you couldn't stand watching me with someone else.'

Hermione felt a sliver of fear as his face morphed into one she knew so well, that sneering, angry boy from her schooldays. 'Is he truly what you want, Granger?' When she didn't answer he looked as though his magic might explode right from his toes to his hair. 'He'll only ever think of you as a Mudblood, vermin needing to be extinguished,' He turned from her then and she wanted desperately to take it back, to say she didn't mean it but he was already walking away. When he stopped at the door to her room and spoke again she almost passed out from the fury he exuded. 'Maybe he's right, my whole life I've fought against him when all I had to do was listen.'

Her body fell into a heap on the bed and she sobbed, for the love she'd never receive from Lucius Malfoy. She sobbed for the years spent hating Draco when they could have been friends- but most of all, her heart broke for him, because she could never tell him her secret, one that had plagued the witch since their fourth year.

'Dagonet, Draco?' Lucius drawled and the younger Malfoy didn't miss the slight edge to his Father's voice nor the wand that he'd stolen sitting on his desk.

Slouching in the wing backed chair that was closest to the fire, Draco shrugged. 'My galleons.'

'My galleons, you insolent boy!' He slammed his palms down on the desk and if his intent had been to frighten his son, it didn't work. Those sort of histrionics hadn't worked since the Dark Lord had made a mockery of his father's power when he'd been a teenager.

'Would you like it back, Father?' he smirked and dangled the key on its long black ribbon. 'You'll be happy to know I have requested my own vault at Gringotts.'

Lucius snorted. 'Good luck with that, Draco,' his voice dripped with condescension and Draco bristled, wanting once and for all to best his Father, and to show him how a true Malfoy should behave.

Draco stretched out on the chaise, crossing his legs and spreading out his arms, ensuring his wand was in full view of his Father. 'I've always been amused by Goblins, Father. Do you know why?' A vein in Lucius' temple twitched and Draco smirked. 'All they care for is galleons. They haven't any loyalty to wizards; they don't care for blood status or whose side you fought on in the war.'

When Lucius spoke cold fury dripped from his tongue, 'What have you done, boy?'

'I have ensured that the only Malfoy the history books remember will be me,' A genuine grin broke out on his face. He could no longer contain his glee. 'It appears you forgot to mention all our assets had been frozen until you paid restitution. Were we to live off House Elves until you came to your senses?'

'I will never pay that corrupt Ministry for crimes they deem me guilty of.' Lucius spat.

'Well, it appears you don't have to. I paid the fines, Father, and our assets have been returned to us.'

'I hardly think the Minister would allow that.'

'When Minister Shacklebolt realised I had a vested interest in the companies, what with my ownership of fifty percent, he allowed me to pay the fines out of my own galleons.'

Lucius looked smug. 'My own galleons have been left untouched?'

'Funny you should mention that,' Draco stood with a practiced grace and straightened his shirt. 'When the Goblins checked our vault, all the gold was stamped with the Black family crest.'

A wicked smirk curved Draco's lips as Lucius' smugness turned to horror.

'Do you understand now Father?' Draco snarled. 'I've taken it all, the companies, the jewels, the libraries and most importantly, the galleons. You are worthless.'

Lucius' nostrils flared and an inhuman growl bellowed from his lips. 'I should have drowned you at birth like the Dark Lord suggested. You were weak from your first breath, pathetic and tiny, like a deformed kitten.'

They were just words and washed over Draco's soul, no longer infecting him with hate or the need to make his Father proud.

'Have an enjoyable life Father,' he said. 'Oh, before I forget.' He dug into his robes and strode to the desk, slamming his hand down hard on the blotter. 'For your continued loyalty.' Laughing, he walked away, twirling his wand between his fingers as Lucius screamed and a fit of uncontrollable magic melted the gift his once precious son left behind. One single, solitary Galleon.

'I hope you don't plan on climbing that by yourself.' Draco smirked as the witch tensed beside him, her eyes guarded and firmly locked the mountain range before them.

'Do you enjoy sneaking up on people?' she snapped and pulled on her gloves.

'Cold?' He moved beside her and cast a warming charm over her body. 'Sometimes I think you forget you're a witch.'

'Sometimes I wish I could.'

'Do you really?'

Sadly, she shook her head. 'No, but a nice little memory charm here and there wouldn't go astray.'

Draco looked at her strangely. 'Are you planning on becoming a tramper?'

Hermione smiled. ''I thought the walk might be nice.'

'It's a bog Granger. What's nice about a bog?'

'Well the Hinkypunks only come out at night, so we shouldn't be bothered. I just thought it might be nice to see?'

He snorted. 'Do you know how expensive my robes are, Granger? I do not plan on getting dirty today.'

'Then you stay here and I'll go alone.'

'That isn't a good idea.'

'Why not?'

'It just isn't, trust me.'

'You're hiding something from me,' she accused and rounded on him, her wand out in barely a second and digging into his cheek.

Draco rolled his eyes. 'One of these days you'll learn some self control and that not everything I say requires the threat of wand violence.' He pushed her wand away then dragged the indignant witch into his arms. 'Trust me.'

Hermione's face was still contorted in outrage when they Apparated into the island's col, known as the saddle which was surrounded by two imposing mountains.

'Cìr Mhòr,' Draco pointed to the left then to his right and said, 'Caisteal Abhail.'

'That is where the village is?'

'The village is unique as it doesn't inhabit the planes as the rest of the island,' Hermione watched him, enthralled as he spoke, her eyes drawn to his lips that had spewed such venom only two days before. Now those same lips moved with elegance and touched the intellectual side of her brain, rather than the emotional. 'Ceum na Caillich, appears to the Muggle world as a large gash in the side of the mountain, shrouded in mystery and stories of strange happenings. They tend to bypass it for easier climbs.'

'What kinds of stories?' Hermione asked, her eyes sparkling with excitement.

'People appearing out of nowhere, injured climbers being nursed back to health, bowls of food awaiting weary adventurers, nothing terribly mysterious.'

'And the village itself?'

Draco frowned. 'All I could get from their minds were gates that looked painted into the stone.'

'Gates?'

'Hmm, I believe anyone who comes into contact with the village either has their memory modified or they are confunded.'

'Amazing,' Hermione breathed and Draco smirked, recognising the glazed look in her eye, the flushed cheeks and wringing hands. The witch was almost beside herself with the thought of not only meeting the inhabitants of the Caisteal Abhail settlement but possibly getting her hands on some obscure text.

'Don't piss yourself, Granger. We do want to make a good impression.'

Her eyes instantly narrowed. 'If you are coming with me, Malfoy, I suggest you transfigure those pretty shoes of yours into some boots, because I'm not stopping every time you get a scuff.'

She swallowed her laughter as he huffed and changed his Italian leather pointed shoes into a pair of sensible boots. 'Two days with you, I may end up necking myself.'

'Not if I get there first.'

He smirked and stalked off down the Col, and she tried, ever so hard not to stare at his lovely arse that was hugged delightfully by a pair of linen parts.

'Really Granger, this is the best you had?' He turned up his nose at her small tent, casting several cleansing charms before he'd even crawl inside.

'It was all the shop had and I did plan on coming here alone,' she snapped and shouldered past him, throwing the sleeping bag onto the floor. 'So I didn't require a Manor sized tent.'

'At least a kitchen would have been nice,' He sounded so whiny she wished belatedly for a pair of socks to stuff in his mouth.

'Why on earth would we need a kitchen?'

'How will you cook our dinner?'

Hermione laughed so hard her sides hurt. 'A boiling charm on beans, Malfoy. This isn't a resort and I'm not a cafe.'

She pulled out the small cans of baked beans and grinned when his face turned a lovely shade of green. 'Hungry?'

'Not for that rubbish.'

'Your loss.'

She hungrily ate the hot baked beans, patting her stomach in contentment as her chilled body slowly began to warm. 'Your charms didn't last long.'

'What are you suggesting?'

Smiling beneath the heavy fall of her hair, Hermione vanished the rubbish and unzipped the sleeping bag. 'That perhaps you need to work on your first year charms a little more?'

Draco pursed his lips as the smug little witch crawled inside the sleeping bag which was only big enough for one. Work on your first year charms? Why the nerve of the witch! He'd show her!

'How's this for first year charms?' he murmured, his voice taking on a husky lilt as she felt a cool breeze on her back.

'What did you do?' She rolled over to face him, a tiny squeak leaving her mouth when she realised all he wore was a pair of silk boxers.

'Enlargement charm Granger, first year charm.'

'I don't want you in here with me!' She held her hands to the thick fleece that her covered body and Draco smirked.

'I'm not a 14 year old boy, Granger. I can control myself.'

She made a noncommittal sound and shuffled closer to her side of the tent. 'I'm not afraid to hex you, Malfoy, so keep to your side.'

'How shall we keep warm?' he murmured and she could feel the heat from his body and she shivered, willing him silently to move closer.

'Charms?'

'Must reserve our magic,' he said and Hermione jumped when his warm hand found the bare skin underneath her jumper.

'R-Reserve our magic?' She closed her eyes tight as he shuffled closer to her.

'Mmm, we have a long walk tomorrow.' Slipping down across her belly, his hand drew lazy circles on her now smooth skin.

'You shouldn't be doing that,' she whispered even as her body pressed more firmly to his.

'Are you going to stop me?' he asked mockingly, pleased she tied up her hair so he would have easy access to her delightful neck.

'Y-Yes.' The air caught in her lungs as his lips pressed just below her ear. 'Please don't do this.'

'Give me one good reason why I shouldn't.' he murmured and Hermione gasped as his exploring hand breached the waistband of her sensible tracksuit pants.

'Because you still haven't answered my question.' She turned then to face him, dislodging his hand and lips.

'Which question would that be?' His mouth was so close she could taste the sweet aroma of raspberries from the hard rock he had been sucking earlier.

'Why did you do it?'

Draco pressed his forehead to hers, breathing deeply as his hand wound around her back and cradled her to his chest. 'I don't know why.'

'That is a rubbish answer.' She toyed with the hairs in his chest. 'I need to know.'

'So you can run back to Father and have a good old laugh at my expense?' He sounded so hateful and bitter, that all she wanted to do was kiss him, to taste his lips again, to feel how perfectly soft they were. Hermione sighed, gathered up what little courage remained and kissed him hard on the lips.

His soft moan sent shivers of delight through the witch and when he finally shook himself out of his stupor, he took control, kissing her back with equal passion and excitement.

'Granger...' he murmured then thrust his tongue into her mouth. Her body hummed as their magic mingled and Draco, aroused beyond coherent thought, lifted the witch's leg up and over his waist. 'You never made Father smile like you did Potter and Weasley.'

Her hand darted out to stop Draco's as it dipped below her knickers, its intent obvious, as was the disappointed growl he let out. 'You can't even tell me the truth and yet you're rutting against me like a dog in heat?'

He winced at the hurt in her voice but made no move to stop the witch as she shuffled out of the sleeping bag, going out to the fire.

Tell her the truth...

'Shut up!' he hissed and buried his face into her pillow.

Stop running from her.

'What should I do, run after her with flowers and sonnets, pleading for a second chance?'

That is a good start.

'I'm not a bleeding cream puff and why the sodding hell am I talking to myself?' Draco threw the sleeping bag to the ground and crawled out of the tent. He found her instantly, sitting by the fire, legs tucked into her chest, hair bound by a big, old worn woolly scarf, proclaiming Weasley is the King!

'His magic repulses me.' She spoke first, which startled him.

'To whom do you refer?'

'Lucius. His magic, it repulses me, even when we had sex at the ball, I felt sick to my stomach just being around him. At first I thought he'd masked it somehow and then I truly believed that my magic had changed to accept him. It was wicked and I felt so bad for the first time in my life. I could honestly let go and just be myself.'

He stood quietly opposite her, watching as the light orange glow from the fire flicked across her face, emphasising her freckles and not for the first time Draco was struck by how lovely she looked. 'I feel like part of me has been forgotten,' he said and stared off into the darkness, missing the look of alarm on Hermione's face. 'But when I was near you, everything felt right again. Hogwarts was the only true home I've ever known, I was myself there. I could be alone and not wonder if the Dark Lord would come visiting. I could brew potions and know they would go to the Infirmary and I could throw my weight around and pretend for a moment that I was important and not just a means to an end.' He didn't move when she embraced him and her lips tenderly kissed his chest. 'Being near you felt normal, calling you Mudblood, taunting you about your hair, feeling a rage whenever Potty or the Pauper came near you...it was a normality that I'd missed and I didn't realise until the Ball, until I saw you with Father.'

'So you chose to trick me because it felt normal?'

'At first,' he allowed and draped his arm over her shoulder whilst his hand raked through her hair. 'Then I thought to have you for myself. I would use Father for a little while, and then suggest you try a younger model and slowly phase out the old bastard.'

Hermione laughed at the absurdity of it all. 'You honestly thought me that fickle to throw your Father over for a roll in the sheets with you?'

Draco smirked as she looked up at him. 'I had originally planned to blackmail you with photos of Father.'

'You were going to blackmail me into having sex with you?' She tried to sound outraged but failed miserably; all of a sudden the entire situation seemed hilariously stupid.

'Why not?' he shrugged. 'I am a Malfoy; we are the masters of manipulation.'

'But you didn't...you went to see your mother instead?'

Draco nodded. 'She was ashamed of me. Somehow she'd known what I'd done and what I was planning. She refused to speak to me until I took a wand oath to makes things right.'

'You stayed the night on purpose.'

'I was sick of living a lie.'

'I think my magic knew,' Idly she ran her hands across his chest, her short nails nudging at his nipples and he whined softly, his fingers squeezing at her plump bottom. 'Every time I went near Lucius, I felt like I was being choked but when I was in the bedroom it was at peace, not even a spark.'

'No sparks, Granger? I'm wounded!'

Hermione laughed softly. 'That Quidditch uniform was very naughty.'

'I knew you watched me, Granger,' Draco said smugly. 'All the witches did.'

'You did shine like a light house with your pretty hair.'

He scowled. 'They didn't want me for my pretty hair.'

'Oh?' She smiled and gave a strand of his hair a gentle tug.

'No, Granger.'

She shivered as his voice deepened, taking on a definite husky lilt that she knew all too well. 'They came for this.' His hand wrapped around hers and pressed it to his crotch; she moaned lightly and rubbed his erection through his silk boxers. 'Lucius was simply a vessel,' He licked the shell of her ear, his blond hair falling across her cheeks. 'Once you're mine I won't allow you to hide from the world.'

'What do you mean?' She stared up at him, his face shadowed by the dying fire.

'It won't be clandestine meetings behind closed doors. I won't stand for you being ashamed of my name or my past or hiding me from your friends. It's all or nothing, Granger.' He bent slightly to kiss her forehead, his lips lingering before he stalked back to the tent.

'All or nothing...' she whispered into the darkness.

They walked together in companionable silence for hours, occasionally stopping so they could apply new warming charms, as well as cushioning charms to their sore feet. The previous night's events had not been discussed and for that Hermione was grateful. She needed to digest her feelings, to weigh up the pros and cons of finally admitting a truth she'd hidden for many years. Draco was hard to resist, even in his father's form and if the witch were being honest with herself, she might find that her body had accepted Draco long before her mind ever did.

Could they forgive the horrible words and curses they'd spewed at each other? Would it ever be that easy?

'Granger!' Draco snapped and she turned wearily towards him, stifling a yawn.

'Why are you over there?' she asked and stalked towards him with her hands on her hips. 'Oh!' She felt a wave of dizziness wash over her and she stumbled forward, teetering towards the precipice before Draco lunged forward to grab her.

'Morgana's saggy tits, Granger are you trying to get yourself killed?'

She whimpered as he roughly yanked her back to the small flat stone path. 'Compulsion charm.' she muttered, summoning her flask of water that had been dropped several feet away. 'It's strong. Can you feel it?'

Draco's hand rose and the world around them shimmered with an iridescent light. 'Repelling, Forget Me not, Notice me not, Compulsion and Confundus.' He withdrew his hand as if burned. 'They really do not want to be found.'

'Come on then,' Hermione urged. 'We must be close if the spells are this concentrated.'

'What is that?' Draco squinted behind her to the sheer rock face.

'Beneficium accipere libertatem est vendere.' Hermione recited, her fingers tracing the Latin etchings.

'To accept favour is to sell one's freedom.' Draco murmured and entwined their fingers, unsure why he did so but pleased when Hermione did not let go, but squeezed his hand.

'Look, another!' Hermione dragged him along the cliff face that was etched with dozens of Latin phrases, ranging from the philosophical to the downright weird. 'I think that is the only one we have to worry about.'

Hermione's blood ran cold and Draco pulled her into his arms. 'Father said nothing good ever came from spilt blood.'

'Sanguine tua hostium, Sanguine tua servus."

'You don't think it means...?' Her wide eyes turned to him, but found little comfort. 'Malfoy?'

'Never let it be said that old snake eyes didn't have a sense of humour.'

'Scorch marks,' Hermione murmured, her shaking hands carefully touching the burned wooden gates.

'Die filth?' Draco said and pointed above the door where the words lay written in red.

'Is that blood?'

'I believe so.'

'Revealis.' Hermione pressed her wand to the door but didn't receive a single ward signature. 'Alohomora.'

Draco snickered. 'Really, Granger?'

'Well, what would you suggest?' she huffed and took a step back to look at the imposing gates.

'Blood is sacred; he would have known not a single soul in our world would willingly give it away.'

'Do you think Voldemort put the spell in place on purpose?'

'What other explanation would there be?'

'Blood of thine enemy,' Hermione touched the Latin inscribed into the door. 'Blood of thine servant. I don't understand why he would do this.'

Draco laughed hollowly. 'He was a megalomaniac; he ruled with fear and pain, his followers would never willingly submit to a blood bond- a Mud-Muggleborn and a Pureblood willingly working together for the greater good, was never going to happen in his eyes.'

'But we aren't here for the greater good, Malfoy. I just wanted to see the village.'

Draco's hand reached down to grasp hers and she didn't pull back, but watched fascinated as his lips gently caressed her fingertips. 'Father told me once that the Dark Lord wanted the power of Merlin himself. He believed Merlin to still be alive, and that he lived right here, in this village.'

'He was delusional.'

'Hmm, yes he was,' Draco yanked her forward and pressed a kiss to her lips, she melted into his embrace, moaning softly when he reached around to squeeze her arse. 'The Dark Lord did something terrible here, Granger. Father could not speak of it; he made each of his servants commit to an unbreakable vow.'

Hermione swallowed hard as Draco's mouth left a hot, wet trail to her ear, murmuring, 'I've never been one to put others before myself' When Hermione laughed he pinched her bum hard. 'I feel like we need to be here, that the spell was intended for us all along.'

She pushed him back gently and met his determined gaze. 'I feel the same. It's like my magic wants me to be here. But how could he have known?'

'The Dark Lord didn't know,' Draco said. 'He would have thought the curse impossible to break, that his servants would rather die than sully themselves with a Muggleborn.'

'But you have.'

'Hardly sullying, Granger. More like getting a little dirty.'

Hermione's mouth was set in a thin firm line and she was about to give him a proper telling off when he smiled, a genuine smile that lit up his normally hard grey eyes.

'You're teasing me,' she noted.

'Oh, well done,' he nodded towards the door. 'So how about it Granger, want to get a bit of Pureblood in you?'

Her lips curved into a smirk. 'We don't have to combine our blood.'

'Don't we?' he tapped his wand to the tiny mark underneath the cursed words. 'How do you think we'll get our blood on that then?'

'I can conjure a tray, we'll mix our blood in it then one of us will smear it on.'

'Do you think the Dark Lord would have made it that easy?'

Hermione sighed. 'No, of course not. He loved to make everything needlessly complicated.'

'We shouldn't use magic at all. Slicing hexes are too volatile we might end up cutting a major vein,' He looked around for something sharp. 'A rock, perhaps?'

'Use this,' she said and he saw a quick shimmer of magic across her arm and then a knife was in her hand.

'Granger, where did you get that from?' He stared down at her suspiciously.

'I don't see why it matters...oh fine then!' she snapped as he scowled at her. 'It was a present from Harry after the war,' She held up her left arm and murmured a spell he couldn't quite catch. 'It's a holster.'

'Yes, I can see that,' His long pale fingers moved across the black leather holster, pausing over the tiny rows of Potions, the Muggle bandaids and back to her wrist. 'How did you hide it?'

'A variation on a Disillusionment and Shield charm but I hardly see why that's important.'

'Ingenious,' he murmured and turned her arm over. 'These are standard issue Auror holsters are they not?'

'Why yes but...'

'You could make a fortune off that charm.'

'What- I mean no one would buy a charm, would they?'

His brow rose and then he laughed. 'I'm sure the Aurory would.'

'We can discuss it later,' she said and gestured for his hand. 'Did you want me to...?'

'Cut me?'

'Well, yes. But I don't feel entirely comfortable mixing our blood, shall we take turns?"

His brow rose. "Granger, the Dark Lord was nuts, if it were that easy to get into Caisteal, don't you think more would have tried?"

"What's the harm?" She asked and averted her eyes. "It's just a blood bond..."

Draco nodded and kept his eyes on the witch as she swiftly cut through the skin of his palm, then handed him the knife. 'Granger, you do know what happens when a witch and a wizard are bound by blood?'

'I am aware of magical bindings Malfoy but without the rites it means nothing.'

'If you say so,' he whispered and cut through the smooth skin of her hand.

"Witches first," He pointed to the wall and she carefully pressed her bleeding palm to the stone.

"Nothing's happening," She whispered as he held his hand to the wall, directly over the small smear of blood she'd left behind.

"Be patient," Draco murmured and took a cautionary step back as the blood began to bubble and hiss.

"Oh it smells just awful." Hermione pinched her nose as a noxious green smoke began billowing from their blood.

"You may not pass."

"Are you happy now Granger?"

Hermione huffed. "Fine, we'll try things your way but don't get cross with me when it doesn't work."

Draco grasped her hand and the witch winced as he brought their palms together. What could only be described as a most important day, centuries old Malfoy blood mixed with a Muggleborn blood for the first time in his family's history.

Hermione jumped as her hand began to tingle, growing warmer and warmer until spikes of pain ripped up her arm. She tried to pull away but Draco entwined their fingers, blood seeping from their wounds and dripping down their wrists. 'Stay still.' he said, his eyes fluttering closed as their magic combined. 'Granger, can you...' He licked his dry lips, legs shaking as the force of her magic cascaded through his palm.

'Feel that?' Hermione replied and used her free hand to cling to Draco's shirt; her arm was vibrating with such force she thought it might explode. 'What is happening?'

Twin gasps filled the silent precipice and their eyes flew open. 'Magical bonding.' Draco rasped and pulled his hand from hers, only to slam it onto the door, meeting the requirements if the Dark Lord's curse.

'But the rites?' Hermione stammered and groaned as he stepped back from her, the warmth from his body set her own into a shivering tailspin and she was loathe to be away from him.

'The rites are a formality,' he snarled and took a defensive stance as the gates creaked open.

'Do you mean we're...bound?'

'Not in the typical sense,' he replied. 'Disappointed?'

'I-I well I- it's just...'

'Do be quiet Granger,' Draco drawled. 'The village is ours to explore.'

Only a few seconds had passed before they realised that the village appeared abandoned. Grass was long since overgrown, animal's skeletons littered the street, stalls of what had once been fruits and vegetables were now stains of decomposition. It was dark and dingy, reminiscent of Knockturn Alley with the foreboding magic dripping down upon them.

'Malfoy, maybe we should...'

'Want to leave Granger? Don't tell me all these years that vaunted Gryffindor bravery was a farce?'

She puffed out her chest and stood to her full height, which was unfortunately not terribly impressive but amused the wizard to no end. 'Why must it always come back to house loyalties? Is it weak of me to admit that I might be scared?'

'Not weak but foolish, you never know who is about to exploit you.'

'Well it's just you and me, care to exploit me?' She bit down hard on her tongue when his dark heated stare confirmed he would like just that.

'I would love nothing more than to fuck you into the ground but we have more pressing matters to attend to.'

'Malfoy, look!' Pointing to a large expanse of trees quite close to the village they could just make out a shimmer of light. 'Is that a spell? Oh my goddess.' Hermione's hand flew to her mouth. 'He's frozen!'

Draco leaned in to get a closer look. 'A spell of this magnitude, able to withstand twenty-five years, is astounding.'

'Look, there are more over here!' Hermione ran behind a small stone cottage. 'Oh, no!'

With swift steps Draco found the witch, kneeling on the ground over the body of a small child. 'Killing curse.' she said softly and lowered her head as her shoulder began to shake. 'He's under the same curse as the others. Oh Malfoy, his poor parents.' Draco's gaze fell on a witch and wizard lunging for the small boy, horror etched on their faces, the mother's mouth open in a silent scream.

'Granger, get up,' he tried to sound nice, truly he did but his words were barked so harshly that the witch turned on him, her wand between his eyes before he could close his mouth.

'A child Malfoy, this is what your Lord strived for. Murdering a child because they didn't kneel in submission to him. Does this make you proud of your mark?' Grabbing his hand, she roughly pulled up the sleeve of his shirt, baring the skull to her angry eyes.

'You don't know me at all, Granger,' Mirroring her actions he grasped her wrists and pushed her hard against the cottage wall. 'Do you think I'm unaffected by death, that seeing a child murdered makes my little black heart sing?' When she didn't answer he bared his teeth, snarling angrily. 'You've always thought that I was an evil little git, haven't you Granger? It hasn't changed, your opinion is still the same, that evil little Malfoy kid that steals toads and calls you Mudblood. Well, guess what,' his head lowered and his lips touched her ear. 'I've grown up, witch. I'm not the same person I was when we were children nor will I stand by and let you tar me with the same brush as the Death Eaters. I may wear the mark but I was never one of them. I didn't have the soul to kill someone.'

'Malfoy- Draco I...'

'Are you two going to fight all day or shall I put the tea on?'

Draco spun around, his wand ready to fight. 'Who the hell are you?'

The old man smiled. 'I am Alis the village protector. Would you care to come inside?'

'I wish to apologise for my lack of biscuits- food is quite hard to come by in these parts.'

They shared a look before accepting the steaming cups of tea. 'How did you get inside?' Hermione asked.

'I live here,' Alis answered. 'This is my home.'

'But everyone else,' Hermione waved her hand to the people they could see quite clearly frozen outside the window. 'They are under a spell.'

'Hmm yes, quite a powerful one, too. I would imagine though, that since Voldemort is dead, Death Eaters still reign supreme?'

Hermione laughed. 'Hardly. They are either in prison or dead, although a few managed to escape prosecution.'

'Well that explains why my village is still cursed.'

'Voldemort was not the castor of the curse?'

'Oh no, my dear, he most certainly cast the spell, but he used the others to enhance it. They joined together seven wands, seven vows and one curse.'

'Unbreakable?' Hermione whispered.

'Not entirely.' The old man was surprisingly lucid for having spent decades alone and he suddenly seemed very interested in Draco. 'You seem familiar to me, your mark it's of the enemy yet-'

'I am not the enemy.' Draco said and the old man nodded.

'You joined your blood willingly with the girl?'

'I did.'

'But not for entry into the village.' It was a statement, not a question and Alis's eyes danced with mirth. 'You have manipulated her enough, don't you think?'

'Hardly your business, old man.'

'Draco!' Hermione admonished. 'I'm sorry for his behaviour.'

'Don't apologise for me, Granger,' Draco hissed. 'I'm not one of your pets that have pissed on the carpet.'

'Malfoy!'

Alis merely smiled and refreshed their tea. 'The spell should have been broken when your blood mixed.'

'Then, why didn't it?'

The old man shrugged. 'It was a simple enough curse. He never believed prejudice would vanish but he was wrong.'

'It hasn't vanished,' Draco said and stood quickly. 'She still has enough for all of us.' With a final glare to Hermione, he stalked from the cottage, kicking over a pot of dirt on his way out.

'What a passionate young man,' Alis murmured. 'You are lucky to have him.'

'I don't have him,' Hermione replied, watching Draco carefully as he paced near a dry fountain. 'I hurt him.'

'That is possible,' Alis said and smiled down at the young witch. 'Blood has to be given with an open heart and honest soul.'

'I hardly think Voldemort would have cursed the village with hearts and souls in mind.' Hermione replied. 'He wasn't big on thinking.'

Alis watched her carefully before moving back to the little kitchen. 'His spell was infused with intent, love was his objective.'

'I don't understand,' Hermione said and ran her hands through her hair. Draco was still pacing, his fists clenched at his sides, twin pink stains adorning his normally pale cheeks.

'He may have wanted to kill us all but the magic lives within us, we controlled the fate of that spell, and we could have stopped it had we chosen to.'

'Then, why didn't you?'

'The powers that be prevented us from interfering with times natural course.'

'Are you suggesting the gods allowed Voldemort to curse you?'

'The gods? Yes, I suppose you would call them that. They can see without the burden of time. Fate's course for us has been laid out for centuries.'

'And the participation of Malfoy and me?'

Alis smiled at her with an irritatingly knowing look in his eyes. 'An honest soul can be cleansing for the mind, don't you think?'

'He'll never understand.'

She moved to stand by Alis who was watching Draco through the grimy window. 'He holds no shame for the deeds of his past, he has been absolved.'

'And I haven't?' Tears pricked her eyes as her chest constricted.

'The deeds of your past have yet to be confronted but the crimes committed against you and your young man, were not of your making.'

'I kept it from him.'

'The consequences are yours to endure, but his heart is burdened with a pain he cannot explain.'

'Just who are you Alis?' Hermione turned to the old man.

'I am Alis, the defender of men.'

'Well, that doesn't explain a thing!' she huffed and turned to the old man, startled when he vanished before her eyes.

'Alis is gone.' Hermione stood on the edge of the cobblestone circle that surrounded the fountain. 'Disapparated right before my eyes.'

'He isn't a wizard, Granger.'

'What do you mean?'

Draco stopped; shoving his hands into his pocket as the witch tentatively stepped towards him. 'He is a protector.'

'Like the Bloody Baron?'

He nodded. 'I felt it the minute I saw him, he wasn't quite right.'

'I felt it too, but he seems to know so much . . . about us.'

Draco looked at her strangely, his blond hair tussled and fell about his face, his shirt was partially unbuttoned and cheeks flushed. 'Is there an us, Granger. Because the way I see it, you can't seem to get past the big bad Death Eater image you have in that pretty little head of yours. Although you seemed to accept Father without question.' he sneered.

'I never truly wanted Lucius,' she took another step towards him and he watched her warily. 'But I grew to love him, the way he spoke to me, how he held me with so much love in heart,' Tears filled her eyes and when she reached the angry wizard she wanted nothing more than to wrap her arms around him and never let go. 'He respected me and trusted me, but it was you all along. The real Lucius never felt a thing other than hatred for me, but you Malfoy- Draco...'

His hand tenderly cupped her cheek as a tear slipped down over his fingers.

'Alis said the curse wasn't broken because my soul is dishonest,' Draco merely raised his brow in question. 'Tell me what you remember of the Yule Ball.'

Draco looked confused at the abrupt change in subject. 'Granger, I hardly see why-'

'Just tell me!' she snapped and gripped the front of his shirt. 'Please, close your eyes.'

He seemed reluctant to place himself in such a vulnerable position but did so anyway, because despite their volatile history, he did trust the witch with his life. 'Goyle dropping mash all over his robes, Pansy whining about Potter, Millicent mooning over Goldstein, Nott telling anyone who'd listen that he'd Crucio Krum to have it off with you,' Hermione laced her fingers through Draco's whilst the other grasped her wand.

'What do you remember about me?' She pressed and he flinched when her wand lightly touched his temple. 'Trust me Draco, please.'

'Country Dance...Granger-'

'Reverto Pallium,' She intoned and winced as his fingers gripped her hand so tightly her bones cracked.

'What the fuck,' He hissed.

'Don't open your eyes...trust me please. Tell me what you remember now.'

His back hunched as his lips parted. 'You- the garden- dancing,' he grimaced. 'Snape?' Through his teeth, Draco sucked in a deep shuddering breath.

'Shhh,' Hermione murmured and carefully walked him back until his body hit a small Apothecary, he relaxed as her chest touched his, her magic soothing his frazzled and confused mind. 'Please stay calm, I know this is strange- trust me, I remember it well.'

'He dragged me away, gave me a right royal bollocking for being seen with you, let alone-' he smirked. 'snogging you until I had more lipstick on than you did.'

'Amusing?' Hermione asked and felt her heart warm at the same memory. 'He wasn't pleased.'

'I thought he was going to flog me,' his eyes fluttered but Hermione was quick to stop them opening, placing her fingers over his eyelids.

'You have to remain focused, I will explain after, I promise,'

He licked his lips again. 'Granger, there's more?'

'Unfortunately yes...' She moulded herself to his body and felt his chest twitch against hers. 'Fifth year Draco, concentrate on Umbridge.'

His brow furrowed. 'Potty being the hero,' his lip curled in disgust. 'Inquisitorial Squad-' he paused. 'Granger, I can't remember much about fifth year. Why is that?'

'Because they thought it easier to take all the memories rather than sifting through the ones where I featured.'

'Who?' he hissed.

'Snape and Moody. This one is going to hurt, brace yourself,' Draco's hands gripped her hips hard as she whispered, 'Reverto Pallium.'

He bellowed and stumbled forward, gasps of air desperately trying to reach his lungs as memories assaulted his mind. 'Let me go!' he growled at her and she jumped out of the way as he fell to the ground, his body shaking and weak from the magic invading his system. 'Snape did this to me?'

Crawling to all fours the wizard groaned. 'You wore green knickers?'

'I'd forgotten about that,' she flushed. 'You did buy them for me.'

'You were injured, the scars-' His fingers gently caressed her stomach. ''I sat with you in the hospital, the Headmaster never once tried to move me. Potty said it was because I felt guilty, but that's not it at all...it was because-' Forcing his eyes to open, he beckoned her forward. 'Granger what is going on?'

'I haven't finished the spell.' She kneeled next to him but he grunted angrily and pulled her onto his lap so she straddled his legs.

'Do it.'

Carefully she pressed her wand back to his temple. 'Sixth year…'

He couldn't tear his eyes from hers and truth be told, he didn't want to.' 'My mother was summoned to the Dark Lord, and he punished her for Father's failure. He said I was to be Fenrir's prize, but she begged, pleaded with him for another chance. So he gifted me the task of killing Dumbledore. So that was it, either be Fenrir's bitch or die attempting to kill the most powerful wizard our world has ever seen.'

'You came to school ready to fight, itching to destroy someone.'

'Potty was first.'

'No, I was first. Reverto Pallium.'

His teeth ground as the spell hit him harder than before, memory after memory assailed his senses and he groaned as her teeth stained face floated before his eyes.

'We all had a great laugh at you, Granger, mooning over a Pureblood who is clearly your better.'

'I had to protect you.'

'I know.' Hermione smiled, even as tears slipped steadily down her cheeks. 'But it doesn't mean it didn't hurt.'

'You kept coming back.'

'Dumbledore thought at least one person should know of your task.'

'Potter?'

Hermione laughed. 'I was told to keep Harry off the scent; he was given Snape's old Potion's text to occupy his time.'

'And the vanishing cabinet?'

'By the time you'd come to the conclusion that it was your only way to survive, it was almost too late. I had the spell to fix it but Dumbledore wanted to give you every opportunity to go to him.'

'You fixed it.'

'You have the memory Draco.'

'Dumbledore knew what would happen?'

'Of course he did. Albus Dumbledore knew everything, that doesn't mean his actions are any less reprehensible. But your part in the war was a catalyst that started a chain of events that helped to kill Voldemort.'

'I fucked you.'

Hermione flushed.

'Don't look away,' he commanded and tilted her face up to meet his. 'In the astronomy tower- how cliché.' He smirked. 'Granger I was your- you were mine-' His smirk grew smug and slightly predatory.

'Yes all right!' she snapped and batted his hand away. ''I always thought it would be Pansy.'

'I always thought it would be Potter.'

Hermione laughed. 'How do you feel?'

'About you or the fact my entire time at Hogwarts was an implanted farce by a traitorous Potions Master?'

'I don't know- both?'

'Granger I've always wanted you, even when I didn't know why. You're like a tiny bug that's crawled under my skin.'

'That doesn't sound very nice.'

'It isn't. You're annoying, a nag, you spend far too much time with your nose in books. You've ignored all my requests to fix that abnormally large hair of yours, plus you wear far too many clothes.'

'Is that all?' Hermione glared.

'No,' He leaned forward and gently kissed her lips. 'I love fucking you,' Raking his fingers across her nipple, she whimpered and pressed herself more firmly into his lap. 'I love hearing you say my name, the way you look at me with that secret smile of yours,' He kissed her again, lingering over her mouth. 'How long have you known?'

'That night when you- Lucius,' she shook her head and sighed. 'The night I thought Lucius was polyjuiced as you.'

'You should have told me.'

'How could I? I thought Lucius loved me.'

'Why would you think that?'

Hermione smiled. 'You don't remember?'

'I made you say it.'

'Say you love me Hermione- say it.'

She kissed along his jaw, pausing over the delightful spot on his neck that had him whining in delight. 'I said- I love you Draco and what did you reply?'

'I love you too, witch.' he sighed against her lips and she gently pushed her tongue into his mouth, swallowing his low, desperate moan.

'Get off my son, Mudblood!'

Hermione yelped as she was yanked by her hair from Draco's lap and thrown carelessly to the ground. 'This is what my galleons buy? A son who wishes to fornicate with a Mudblood?'

'Never call her that again, Father.' Draco snarled and jumped to his feet. 'I made my decision and you haven't the authority to stop me.'

'I can enforce your contract with Miss Greengrass,' Lucius taunted and held up a scroll of parchment.

'I already received notice of the contract voidance, Father, so you cannot play that card with me.'

'Why do you care?' Hermione spat and blotted the streak of blood from her forehead. 'This is a new world, blood alliances are ancient history.'

'Control the Mudblood, Draco, or I shall remove her from this world.'

'Try it,' Draco hissed. 'Try it and find out why the Dark Lord never removed my wand.'

Lucius face twisted in fury and Hermione shook as waves of magic rolled off the Pureblood. 'You would forsake your family for this piece of filth?'

Draco turned his head to Hermione who stood only metres from him and he nodded. 'She may be a Mudblood father, but she's my Mudblood and if you ever lay a hand on her, I will strike you down.'

'Is that so?' Lucius' voice was eerily calm and as Hermione took a step towards Draco he murmured the words that not a single magical being ever wants to hear. 'Avada Kedavra.'

The world paused, green light spewing from Lucius' wand and Hermione lunged, throwing herself in front of the oncoming killing curse. Draco could only watch in horror as his lover bore the full brunt of his Father's curse and fell to the ground in a lifeless heap...and then not a sound could be heard.

Draco blinked in shock, his own wand rising seemingly on its own before his Father froze, his face morphed into contorted fury, even the trees had stopped swaying and an eerie calm had settled on the village.

'Oh really!' He jumped back as a woman appeared before him, ethereal in her beauty, long black hair covering a rather curvy body that was clothed in a mist of white. 'Haven't you interfered enough?'

'Wh-What?' Draco stammered and hastily wiped the tears that had fallen onto his cheeks.

'Not you,' The woman said kindly. 'Him.'

'I was only having a bit of fun, it's been so long.' A man dressed in armour appeared beside the woman and he took a quick look around at the scene before him. 'Hmm, I didn't think he'd kill her.'

'What did you think would happen, you silly man!' she scolded. 'We are not to manipulate the children.'

'You're no fun.' The man pouted.

'Would you mind telling me what the bloody hell is going on here?' Draco yelled.

'No need to be rude boy,' the man replied and gave him a wink.

'Tell me what is happening now before I summon an Unspeakable to banish you beyond the veil.'

The woman squeaked and gripped the man's arm. 'Alis!'

'Alis?' Draco stalked forward, heart twisting in pain at Hermione's body lying at his feet. 'What have you done?'

'He was fixing a wrong,' The woman smiled and removed her hand from Alis' only to place it over Draco's. 'I am Elsa, Alis' guard.'

'Tell me what you have done,' Draco jabbed his wand at Elsa only to have it snapped from his fingers.

'Alis,' Elsa said softly. 'Fix this.'

With a long suffering sigh, Alis waved his hand and Lucius vanished with a pop. ''The witch too?'

'Of course, the witch too!' Elsa gave him a shove and he kneeled on the ground, pressing the tips of his fingers to her temple.

'Give her a few seconds,' Draco fell beside him, watching as Hermione's body twitched and then she rose like a puppet on a string, her chest expanding as air filled her lungs and her eyes wild and frantic.

'Draco...' she breathed and launched herself into his arms, kissing every inch of his face. 'What in Morgana's name happened?'

'Ahh, Morgana, what a beauty she was in her day.'

'Alis!' Elsa's soft voice turned hard and her eyes black with fury as she smacked Alis across the back of his head. 'Tell them what you've done.'

'Your Dark Lord wasn't overly clever. When your blood mixed the village was released from the curse. But I felt something from your magic and wanted to investigate.'

'You let me be killed!' Hermione stood shakily and summoned her fallen wand. 'Why shouldn't I have you banished!'

Elsa laughed softly. 'They think alike don't they?'

'Now can you see?' Alis whispered loud enough for Draco and Hermione to hear.

She glided over to Hermione, cupping the witch's cold, damp cheek. 'Do not fret,' she said soothingly. 'Alis cannot bear to witness heartbreak, he wanted to put things right.'

Draco seethed. 'Put things right? MY FATHER KILLED HER!'

'Ah yes, about that- he wasn't real.' Alis tried to smile but despite his age, wisdom and considerable influence over the world of the living, he still quailed in fright against Draco Malfoy's anger. 'I conjured him from your mind.'

'So all this,' Hermione gestured around her. 'Was all for your amusement?'

'Not entirely,' Alis stared at the ground and Elsa could barely contain her laughter at the man finally realising the pain his machinations caused.

'Then what was the point?' Hermione swayed and Draco was at her side in an instant, wrapping her up in his arms and holding her close.

'That was the point,' Alis smiled slightly and pointed to where their hands were joined. 'Stubborn to the end, the pair of you.'

'Admitting love is not a sign of weakness,' Elsa murmured and leaned forward to press a kiss to Hermione's lips then to Draco's. 'Love is our saviour.'

'I didn't need saving.' Draco grumped.

'No? I beg to differ,' Elsa linked hands with Alis. 'You need each other like we need each other.'

'I'm so confused,' Hermione said and leaned back against Draco's chest. 'Who are you?'

'Sir Alis Bellamour and Lady Elsa, I was banished here by Arthur for fornicating with another's wife. When I died, Merlin thought it amusing that my soul be permanently stuck to this village as their protector. Because I was quite- unruly, Elsa was sent to guard me.'

'What did she do to deserve that?'

'I was a sorceress,' she smiled. 'I cursed Merlin so that he would hear bells wherever he went, all day every day for the rest of his life. He did not find the humour in it at all.'

'I can imagine not.' Hermione said and no longer felt desperate fury at the two floating before them.

'Can we leave?' Draco snapped. He didn't have the same tolerance Hermione did, and wanted nothing more than to see the two spectres turned to dust.

'You do not wish to stay and meet the villagers? They would be ever so grateful for your breaking of their curse.'

Hermione looked up at Draco and smiled. 'It is a long way back.'

As Draco opened his mouth to retort that he'd planned on fucking her every step of their long journey back, he felt a wave of dizziness and found himself in a room with sunlight streaming in the window. 'You are on the outskirts of the village. Once you have had time to consummate your binding, please join us for dinner.' With a rather long and deliberate wink, Alis vanished from the room.

''If you ever do that again, Granger, I won't be held responsible for what I'll do to you.' He rounded on her and Hermione was taken aback by the fear in his eyes. 'You died, you stupid fucking witch.' He wanted to shake her hard, to rattle the teeth from her mouth, but then she ran to him, colliding with his body and sending them tumbling down to the large bed.

'I couldn't let him kill you,' she said and Draco's heart beat that little bit faster. 'When I said I loved you that night in the Astronomy tower, I meant it. I don't give love freely Draco and if I'd lost you...'

With a feral growl he smashed his lips to hers, uncaring that her teeth sliced through his lip. 'You're mine Granger,' he whispered and vanished their clothes with a silent charm. 'I'm never letting you go.'

Hermione stroked his cheek. 'I hope those interfering gobshites are listening in,' She licked his bleeding lip and grinned wickedly. 'Because I plan on being very, very noisy.'

Whispers followed the two lovers as they strolled down the High Street of the town. Their hands were linked, bodies covered in signs of their love, mostly teeth marks thanks to Draco's desire to show the world she belonged to him.

'Did you sleep well?'

Alis appeared before them, once again resembling the old man that had greeted them the night before.

'If you call sleeping well, fucking Granger on every inch of that house- then yes, we slept well.' Draco smirked as Hermione flushed.

'The villagers were very happy for your love making,' Alis grinned. 'You released a very strong magic that breathed new life into the wards.'

'What?' Hermione looked around shocked at the village which had gone unseen as her eyes had been firmly locked on the tall, handsome blond beside her. The small private world of Caisteal Abhail had indeed come to life, flowers were in bloom, animals plump and happy, crops growing to new heights and the people, they were filled with love and smiles. 'How is that possible?'

'Did you say the words? Are you bound?'

Draco held up their hands, showing Alis the prominent purple cross on both their palms. 'How could we not? We've wasted enough time.'

'Your magic blessed the village when it bound together. We thank you for bringing such joy to us.'

Hermione leaned forward and gave Alis a quick peck on the cheek. 'Thank you for finally forcing me into being honest, if you hadn't...'

'Then my mouth wouldn't have been full of her bushy hair this morning.'

'He will not let you down.' Alis said softly. 'And she will be loyal to you, until her dying day.'

'I haven't any doubts,' Draco said and pulled Hermione back into his arms. 'Now, care to do that hand waving thing and get us home quicker?'

With a regal bow, Alis grinned indulgently at the pair. 'I will save a place for you at my table for when you pass over. We could have much fun together, Hermione.'

Draco snarled and took a step towards the spectre and again felt the sickening rip to his body as they were whisked away.

'Where are we?' Hermione asked and peered over the balcony to the world below.

'Our new home.'

'This isn't a home, it's a castle!' Hermione exclaimed, her protests muffled as Draco kissed her hard, pushing her against the wall.

'And just think Granger...all the rooms we have to fuck in.'

Hermione grinned. 'I knew I loved you for a reason.'