Disclaimer: I do not own, nor am I in any way associated with Harry Potter. I'm just taking the characters out for a spin.
AN: Written for the dramione remix over on LJ. The basic idea was to take a famous love story and retell it using Draco and Hermione. My chosen couple was the Phantom and Christine from The Phantom of the Opera, who I chose specifically because I wanted to do something other than the cliche so please don't run away just yet. Also, my plan is to post all four parts of this on FFN in about a week, so don't worry about going weeks between updates.
Blood and Wine
He won't take his eyes off her. Nearly a quarter of an hour ago now he dragged her into this room, tossed her a dishtowel to wrap her bleeding arm in, and began staring at her. From the outside she assumed the house was abandoned. The chimney on the south wall is half gone, the rose garden is overgrown, and the front porch is one gaping hole. She should have known the herb garden was too well kept but she'd been so relieved to finally find some decent wormwart that she hadn't given the even rows a second thought.
It was far too easy for Malfoy to catch her off guard, take her wand, and force her into the house. She's thoroughly ashamed and doesn't know what she'll tell Remus once she makes it out of here and, thinking of that, she really needs to find an escape.
His eyes, for what must be the tenth time, take in the long-dried blood stains on her only coat, the threadbare shoulders, and the frayed cuffs and collar. Heat rises in her cheeks when his gaze rests for too long on her chest. She shifts in the stiff wooden chair he shoved her into and wonders how he can be at all comfortable in its twin across the table.
"If you're going to kill me," she says primly, "could you please just get it over with?"
He lazily lifts his eyes to her face. Both their wands rest between his hands. He keeps rotating them, one over the other.
"How did you find out about this place?" he asks, sounding as if she stumbled upon his preferred study alcove in the library.
She turns her head defiantly away from him. Her gaze falls on the Death Eater mask and cloak tossed lazily on a chair near the door and she quickly turns her eyes to the four fireplaces lining the side of the room. Only one is going, a potion bubbles quietly over the flames. The color and consistency are familiar but the smell isn't one she can link to any potion she knows. She gets a strong whiff and her mind jumps back three months to when they lost Snape. The mission had been a horrible failure. Snape dead, at least three more seriously injured, and Ron missing for nearly two days. The moment she saw him again Hermione jumped on him, hugging him so tight he complained of not being able to breathe.
This smell was the one to hit her in that moment. At the time she thought it simply the smell of boy, compounded by so long without a shower. Now she wonders if it's some weapon Malfoy has been brewing.
Think of the devil, he lets out a ragged sigh and she sees him run his hand through his hair. It's gotten longer since she last saw him. That's to be expected, she reminds herself, it's been nearly two years since Dumbledore's death.
"Listen, Granger, I'm not asking you where Potter is or where the Order's safe houses are located. I'm just asking how you found my house."
"Your-" she gasps before she remembers she's not speaking to him and resolutely snaps her mouth shut.
Malfoy shakes his head. "Stop acting so childish. I inherited it just like I've inherited several properties over the years and will one day inherit Malfoy Manor. Now tell me how you found my house!" he growls.
She presses her spine against the back of the chair, bracing herself for whatever his punishment will be when she remains silent.
"Fine," he snaps and lifts his wand.
"Accio," he says, flicking his wand towards a set of shelves stocked with everything a potion-maker could want. She's so shocked he didn't cast the Cruciatus, she has no time to mount a defense against his next spell. "Imperio."
The world goes fuzzy and warm. She opens her mouth at the tiniest prodding and a few drops of cold liquid touch her tongue. Immediately the curse lifts, replaced with something much worse. There's a chill in her gut and she knows exactly what she just swallowed.
Malfoy stares at her across the table just as before, only now there's a bottle of Veritaserum near his left hand. If she's fast enough she can reach across the table, grab her wand, and curse him. Almost the moment she thinks it she sees the plan unraveling in her mind. His coat will be shield charmed, she'll grab his wand by mistake and it won't recognize her, he'll grab her arm the moment it comes within his reach…
Quietly he asks, "How did you find this house?"
"Snape." The word slips from her tongue. "His journal mentioned this place."
Malfoy nods, this making perfect sense to him. "He always refused to use the lab at the Manor, wouldn't even set foot in it."
He sounds nostalgic. It's odd, it never occurred to her that Malfoy and Snape might have been close.
"Why not?" she asks and blames the potion for loosening her tongue.
He's still lost in memories and smiles wryly. It lightens his entire countenance and she wonders how she can have known him for half her life and never have met this man before her.
"It was a birthday gift when I was twelve. It was obvious then that I had a talent for potions and father wanted to encourage me. I got to design every facet of it down to the location. Snape didn't approve of an aboveground lab."
She shifts, uncomfortable with the reminder that the man across the table from her hasn't always been a murderer. The chair beneath her creaks and he's startled from his reverie.
"Do you have this journal?" Malfoy asks, ignoring the interlude completely.
He holds out his hand. She considers denying him but knows if she forces him he'll make any search of her person as humiliating as possible. She pulls the book from a pocket in her coat and slides it slowly across the table. Malfoy tucks both wands up his sleeve and takes the book. He lifts it between his hands and turns back the soft leather cover with the utmost care. His pale fingers stroke the pages and his throat tightens. He takes his time, turning every page and looking them over one by one.
Hermione alternates between watching his eyes trail over the words on the pages and tracking the swaying of his left sleeve. The tips of both wands are poking out the end, taunting her.
Finally, after what must be half an hour, Malfoy sets the book down and slides it back to her. The anger that boils up in her at waiting so long is tempered by the fact that his dawdling has allowed time for the Veritaserum to fade.
"What do you need?" he asks.
It's the absolute last thing she ever would have imagined him saying.
"What?" she sputters.
"Snape was the Order's last Potions Master. You don't exactly meet that standard."
She scoffs, folds her arms over her chest. "You were only top of our Potions class because Snape-"
"Because Snape taught me what he knew. I could tell the difference between a snake-stone and a bezoar when I was seven and he may never have entered my lab but that didn't stop him from quizzing me whenever he met mother for tea or accompanied me and father to a Quidditch match. And don't tell me you're not struggling," he snarled. "You wouldn't have come out here alone unless you were desperate."
"For ingredients," she snaps. He's right. She hates him for it but he is. She doesn't meet Snape's standard but they need a Potions Master. The old bastard may have been able to do the job for both sides and be a full time spy on top of it all but Hermione hasn't had time to even think about horcruxes in weeks.
Malfoy considers her carefully, his face impassive once more. "Fine," he says. He pulls the wands from his sleeve and puts them tip to tip. "Coligo," he says and her wand glows a faint blue. He tosses it to her.
She catches it out of the air and looks from it to him, too surprised to use it.
"It won't work again until you reach the edge of the property. You can go. Take all the herbs you want on your way."
She gapes at him and slowly rises, heading for the door to the garden. Twisted, thorny vines block the window but they recede the moment her hand touches the knob.
"And Granger?" Malfoy calls when she turns it. He hasn't moved and sits there, spinning his wand in one hand like he's killing time waiting for a class to start. "When you finally realize that you do need my help, I'm here most nights."
That's how it begins. She swears she's never going back, tries to forget the house's location entirely. It takes a week for life to prove her wrong. The full moon rises and as Remus' first scream echoes through the safe house they're using, Hermione knows something's gone horribly wrong.
Come dawn he's alive. He even has the strength to tell her it's not her fault, the Wolfsbane potion is terribly difficult, there are bound to be some hiccups as she gets a handle on it.
It takes her another week of watching Remus recover to come to the conclusion she knew she had to.
"You were right," she says.
Malfoy barely looks up from the bezoar he's grinding. "Light the fire on the end there," he says. "We'll start with healing potions. I figure you'll be in need of them given the beating your kind have been taking these past months."
"Why are you doing this?" she asks, doing as he says.
"That is a question you don't get to ask."
It is never "that's too much," always "not that much!" or "when I said a pinch, I didn't mean one of Hagrid's!" or "who taught you to chop? A handless troll?" followed by a comment on her heritage or her looks. She takes it because there isn't much else she can do. She needs him and they both know it.
When he says these things to her, she simply adjusts her measurements or the angle of her knife as she slices her pig's heart. She will not fight him, will not rise to whatever bait he's only dangling before her out of habit. At least she hopes that's the only reason he does it. She can't imagine why he'd be here if he truly hates her as much as he seems to.
"Why do you do that?" he asks one day, setting down his own blade and studying her with inscrutable grey eyes.
She looks at her work area, searching for whatever he's found fault with this time. He's taken her back to basics because, as he put it, she "can't even boil water properly." She's been chopping and grating and slicing all morning but can't for the life of her figure out what he's found wrong this time.
"You ignore me," he says and his eyes blaze. She's made a grave error. This, her method of self-preservation, is the greatest insult she could have thrown his way.
"I don't-" He's already taking in a breath to yell at her and she quickly changes tactics. "There's really nothing to say, is there?" she asks carefully.
He doesn't move but somehow has become more dangerous, like a predator waiting for an excuse to pounce. "I just insulted your mother," he says.
She's sure, from the way he says it, that had she been the one to say, "If your mother taught you to cook like this it's a wonder you didn't starve before coming to Hogwarts," he'd have hexed her immediately.
"My mother couldn't cook," she says honestly. "Everything I know I learned from my Aunt Caroline."
He watches her for several seconds more before letting out a mirthless laugh. "Fine. Your mother can't cook. This isn't the first time an insult I've thrown at you has been true, it never stopped you from fighting back before."
"Well, that was before, wasn't it?" she asks and returns to slicing the pig's heart.
She can feel him watching her and tries not to let her discomfort show. She has no choice but to slow her work, she can't focus well under his scrutiny.
He sighs and comes up behind her, encasing her hand in his so that he can adjust her hold on the knife. All the hiding has left her paler than she's ever been but her hand still looks dark beside his. His fingers are warm and rough with calluses as he guides the knife.
"Let the weight of the knife do the work," he says. "Too much pressure on the heart and you'll just end up squashing it. You want a clean cut."
She nods, covertly trying to dispel the feel of his breath on her neck. He's far too close for an enemy, too close for a friend even. She should be repulsed. This is the man who tormented her, who betrayed them all. The hand clutching hers has cast Unforgiveables, has tortured and probably killed. There's no disgust in her though, only a strange uneven feeling in her gut like the room's tilted.
He guides her through a few more strokes then steps away, watching her take over. The space beside and behind her feels empty now. She adjusts her stance. Satisfied with her work he moves away to check on his potion.
His back to her he says, "Just … try not to be so different, okay?"
"We're all different," she says quietly, wishing the room would right itself now that he's moved away. She doesn't know if he hears or if she even wanted him to.
She shouldn't be out on this mission - she knows too much about the Order, about Harry, about the horcruxes - but there aren't enough of them left for any one person to be protected above the rest.
"Bombarda!" she calls over her shoulder. A tree turns to kindling and woodchips rain down. A Death Eater screams in pain. Bile rises up in her throat. She did that. She made that inhuman cry erupt from a man's mouth.
Somewhere to her left she hears Lavender throwing out a litany of curses - the non-magical kind - and her voice cuts off suddenly. Hermione alters course abruptly and finds herself thrown into a tree. Her wand hand is twisted behind her back. She holds onto her wand so tight one of her fingers breaks as the wood is wrenched from her grasp. A solid body presses up against hers, pushing her into the tree so tightly the bark cuts into her cheek. Lavender is screaming now. Not the high-pitched, animal wail that comes from the Cruciatus, but a sobbing jabber of noise. They don't want her losing herself in the pain.
The Death Eater holding Hermione leans his face to hers. His mask shines in the moonlight and warm breath puffs visibly from the thin mouth slit, bringing with it the smell of blood and wine. He digs a hand into her hair, twisting her head back so she can see his right eye. Silver, like the mask and just as bright, just as expressionless. "I really," Malfoy hisses viciously, "don't want to start all over teaching another of your idiot friends."
"Malfoy?" she gasps out and the word scrapes along the inside of her throat like a knife.
A wicked scream rips the air and he presses tighter against her, hiding his mask in her neck. The cold metal burns; the unique carvings and holes scrape painfully against her skin. She hears a Death Eater run past, cackling madly and throwing curses into the night without a thought to who or what they hit. Were the voice female it would be Bellatrix but the last few months a new Death Eater has appeared. No one knows who he is but he's as mad as Voldemort's second and nearly as powerful.
The Death Eater skips past, never seeing them. Hermione's heart hammers in her chest and her breath shakes out of her. Malfoy's hand grips hers tightly, carefully avoiding the finger he broke. He's not saving her. The truce that exists between them at his house doesn't extend to the battlefield. And yet here they are.
The screams from the left start up again.
"Lavender," she gasps. The screams are growing weaker now.
"She's dead," Malfoy says.
"Not yet!" she yells. It's too loud. The forest seemed full of sound a moment ago but once the words left her mouth everything except Lavender's sobs stopped.
Malfoy curses under his breath then lifts her wand and lets out a real curse in the direction of Lavender's voice. Fog pours from his own wand and in seconds she can't see more than a foot in any direction. She rushes forward in the direction of Lavender's gasps, Malfoy and her wand forgotten. She doesn't hear Malfoy's voice again but Death Eaters all around her cry out in quick succession, their bodies falling to the ground with dull thuds.
Hermione trips over Lavender and goes sprawling in the dirt. Her hands fly out to catch her and slide over rough dirt and stone. Something warm and wet squelches under her left hand and she tries not to think of all the blood. Her right hand touches smooth wood, a wand. She grabs Lavender and apparates away without a second thought.
At the safe house everything is chaos. The right half of Tonks' face is covered in blood when she lets them in. She says it's just a scratch but the left side is like parchment and her eyes flutter for a moment when she stands unsupported by the door. Hermione doesn't have time to care. She lays Lavender on the first empty cot she finds and leaves her to the Healers.
Hermione allows Molly to drag her to another cot. The woman heals her finger and the wide array of other injuries she endured tonight. She doesn't even feel most of them until Molly's magic touches them. Each time there is a moment when the pain she's been numb to rises up, gripping her tightly, and then it's gone as if it was never there.
The medicinal potions she spent three weeks of nights brewing with Malfoy are being passed around. Some small part of her has been afraid they'll do more harm than good despite the eye she always kept on the cauldron but now that fear is gone. He saved her, saved Lavender.
Hermione drops the wand she's carrying on the pillow beside Lavender's head. She doesn't know if it's the girl's or if it belongs to a Death Eater but it's certainly not Hermione's. All she wants to do, as she climbs up the steps to the second floor and the warm bed she'll sleep in tonight, is close her eyes for a week. She's got a Wolfsbane potion to get back to tomorrow and if she sleeps now she'll never have time to look over Snape's journal.
In the end she falls asleep on top of it, her cheek cushioned by yellowing pages. Before she met Malfoy she read through the thing a dozen times, hoping to find some trick she overlooked to getting the potions just right. Since then she must have read it another two dozen times. What did Malfoy find in here that convinced him to help her? All she sees are notes about the proper ratio of armadillo bile to mandrake leaves and what the real definition of "finely ground" is. If there's a secret message to Malfoy among the pages, she isn't seeing it.
When she goes to the house the next evening her Wolfsbane potion is waiting just where she left it and her wand is on the kitchen table.
"Thank you," she says quietly, pocketing the wand.
Malfoy doesn't turn from his cauldron but his shoulders tighten.
She isn't insulted. He often won't pay her any mind unless she's doing something wrong. This is exactly why, several minutes later, she stops between stirring her potion twenty-two times counter clockwise and adding the foxglove. He's staring at her, his eyes clouded and a frown on his face.
"What?" she asks, horrified. If she's done something wrong there isn't time to brew another before the full moon.
Malfoy shakes his head. "Nothing," he says and goes back to his work.
"Are you sure?" she asks, ignoring his potion. "If I've done something wrong-"
"It's fine!" he snaps. "Lupin'll be fine! Just-" He falls into one of the uncomfortable chairs and runs a hand over his mouth. She notices there's blood under his nails and finds herself looking over his dark robes. The black could be hiding any number of injuries from her sight. "Just keep working," he finishes on a whisper.
She does but only because it sounds like he's begging her.
Remus catches her arm before she can pass him on the stairs. "May I speak to you privately?" he asks.
She nods and lets him lead the way. This safe house isn't the smallest she's been in but it's definitely the most crowded. The only place they can find any privacy is outside near the boundary line where the wards end.
Remus nods to the small wizard on sentry duty and leads her a ways away. He gingerly puts his hand on the low stone wall, as if he's not sure just how to do it.
"First I want to tell you there's been a bit of talk about you lately."
"Talk?" Hermione asks. Did someone see her and Malfoy in the battle? Has someone guessed what she's been up to? Was she followed?
"Some people, especially older Order members, are concerned that no one knows where you're working from these days."
Hermione takes a deep breath. She's ready for this, has been working on her very logical excuse for weeks. She's ashamed that she started thinking it up before she even went back to Malfoy.
"I'm not asking you to tell me where," Remus says, holding up a hand. "In fact I'm glad you've got it hidden, it's probably a lot safer than anywhere else." He looks sadly up at the safe house. "I just wanted you to know, so you wouldn't be caught off guard if someone confronted you about it. You have my blessing to keep it to yourself. Your lab is one of the locations that, if compromised, would hit us hardest."
Hermione shifts uncomfortably and hugs her threadbare coat tighter against the wind. She nods her agreement, hoping he doesn't notice the guilt in her eyes. If only he knew her lab has been compromised for weeks.
"Also," he adds with a faint smile, "I wanted to tell you how proud I am of you. You've been handling a lot lately. I know Dumbledore left you with a lot on your plate and then Snape's duties on top of that… I have to say, I never thought even you could do it all, but you've risen to the occasion beautifully."
Hermione turns her wince into a smile and hopes he doesn't notice.
"Molly tells me she's been able to halve healing potion dosages, they're working so well. And my last full moon … Never before has a transformation been anything less than painful. I don't know how to thank you."
"It was nothing," she says quietly. If left to her own devices she probably would have killed Remus this time. Would he feel the same if he knew he really owed his thanks to a Death Eater?
"It was a great deal more than nothing," he says, putting a hand on her shoulder. "I didn't think anyone would ever be able to truly fill Snape's shoes; he was a rare talent, if a git. I know it must have been hard at first, seeing how much harder it was in practice, but you didn't let that beat you and we're all stronger for it."
He gives her shoulder a final squeeze and leaves her alone. He has no idea what she's doing, the danger she's putting all of them in because she's too afraid to fail.
But he saved her, that has to mean something.