This was my submission for the 2012 HP_KINKFEST. Here was the prompt I worked from:
Prompt #109 (Draco/Hermione or Theodore/Hermione or Cormac/Hermione - The world post war isn't quite as easy as they thought it would be. Hermione struggled during the war, now she finds herself working as a prostitute. - Male pairing could be her pimp, dealer, customer, Auror etc.)
Kink Showcased: Forced Prostitution (Dub-Con/Non-Con), Voyeurism of Homosexual Sex Acts, Sensual Washing, Masturbation, Mind Games & Betrayal
I altered my use of the prompt just a tiny bit so that the prostitution thing happened during the war, not after.
To Unseenlibrarian: Thank you once more for offering to beta this piece! You are, as always, an amazing, wonderful person and I am very thankful for your friendship.
Thank you to the HP_Kinkfest Mod – this was a wonderful fest to participate in!
DISCLAIMER: "Harry Potter" is the property of J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. This fanfiction was written entirely for fun, not for profit, and no copyright infringement is intended.
TIMELINE: Post-war (begins 2000), discards all of "The Deathly Hallows" novel. Voldemort killed Harry in battle sometime during what would have been the end of Hermione's seventh year (1998).
CHARACTERS FEATURED (alphabetical order, last name): Antonin Dolohov, Hermione Granger, Draco Malfoy, Cormac McLaggen, Mulciber, Thorfinn Rowle, Theodore Nott, Jack Scabior, Charlie Weasley
SUMMARY: Captured by Death Eaters and sold into sexual slavery, Hermione Granger discovers that in order to endure evil, sometimes you have to do evil.
EXTRA: Arachne is the name of a woman in Greek mythology that was turned into a spider. She is the weaver of webs. All quotes at the beginning of each section belong to the great Niccolò Machiavelli.
RATING/WARNINGS: NC-17/MA (Heterosexual Sex – Consensual (non-explicit), Dub-con (explicit), and Non-con (non-explicit); Homosexuality (explicit); Masturbation (explicit); Murder (off-camera); Explicit Profanity; ManipulativeSurvivor!Hermione; Pregnancy; characters are a bit OCC because of the plot)
**IMAGES for this fanfic can be found by going here (remove all spaces from the URL to make it load properly): http:/ / s905 . photobucket . com / albums / ac260 / RZZMG / Collide/
... ... ... ...
"Never do any enemy a small injury for they are like a snake which is half beaten and it will strike back the first chance it gets."
... ... ... ...
Two years after Voldemort's victory at Hogwarts...
What they do to her isn't about sex. There isn't a drop of love to it, either. It's all about power.
Although it's taken her a month to understand that awful fact, Hermione now gets the message, loud and clear, as she's held down against her will under Mulciber's body and ridden hard, as he screams at her to "take it, bitch!" When he finishes, his friend, Jugson, climbs aboard for his turn with equally repulsive encouragements for her. After him comes Selwyn, then Travers, and finally Avery.
She only knows their names because they egg each other on as they rape her to within an inch of her life.
These men... they use her to prove that they can, that they are better than she, and that to them, she is nothing more than a hole to fill. They torture and dominate her because doing so fulfils some sadistic need within each of them. Mostly, they attempt to destroy her because of what she represents: the spirit of resistance.
But she has a Gryffindor's heart, and so she is stronger than they know.
By the time Mulciber comes around again, erect and ready for round two, she's clamped down on her feelings, holding them away from this terrible thing that he's doing to her. He becomes white noise, then, as she escapes into her well-exercised and trusted mind. There, she begins to formulate a plan.
The multitude of ideas eventually coalesces down into one simple, cohesive thought: survival, so she can bring the hammer of justice down on all of their heads someday.
To do such a thing, however, she recognizes that she must change her tactics. Better than most, she understands that her usual reckless bravery has its place – and this time and place, where the world is run by cruel men who lack any form of empathy, is not it. She has attempted that path for the past month, and all it has done is continually lead her here, at the mercy of those who enjoy breaking her courage and making her beg. Wandless and all alone, the means to face her attackers with shoulders set and chin up is non-existent, and the act of doing so is folly.
She must shed her old skin and become like the snake, waiting for the opportunity to strike her enemy. She must abandon her lion's pride, and adopt a Slytherin's ambition. Such a method is foreign to her, even difficult to accept, but Hermione has always taken a practical approach to problem-solving.
So, she'll wait, she'll watch, and she'll listen. Above all else, she'll endure.
And all the while, she'll plan how to destroy them all.
... ... ... ...
"The friendship which is gained by purchase and not through grandeur and nobility of spirit is merited but is not secured, and at times is not to be had."
... ... ... ...
Seven months later…
McLaggen pounds into her from behind, inelegant in his need to have from her what she has never given freely. Her channel is wet only because of the various lubricants he's produced to keep her that way. She gives him nothing of herself.
"Come, Granger," he commands, angry at her refusal to grant him one of his heart's greatest desires. "Fucking come for me at least once!"
Over the past several months, she's learned how to tame her body's natural reactions. Dozens of men have taught her the meaning of the word 'hate,' but they have also given her a tactically sound skill she now wields with great effectiveness against them in the bedroom: indifference. Her apathy to their touch is their torment. It's a twisted sort of aphrodisiac for their type.
And even as they take their pleasure from her, she fantasizes about their deaths.
In Cormac's case, her reserve has won his obsession. The man's astounding ego loves nothing more than to be challenged. As long as she keeps denying him, he'll come back into her web, a victim to his own over-bloated sense of worth.
She gives it a few more months before he is all hers, as he has proved to be more stubborn than Flint or Warrington in that respect.
"Fuck!" he shouts as he begins ejaculating into the depths of her sore cunt. "FUCK!"
Ignoring the feel of his hot seed gushing through her, she smiles, knowing she has won this round.
... ... ... ...
"...men afflict themselves in evil and weary themselves in the good, and the same effects result from both of these passions."
... ... ... ...
Three months pass…
It's Hermione's goal to bring every Death Eater to their knees with lust and need for her. That is how she plans to destroy Voldemort once and for all – by rotting out the core of his loyalists and turning them on each other. So far, that plan is working out just fine.
She already owns Rowle, Yaxley, and Dolohov, all of whom buy her pretty, lacy things and beg her for the talents of her mouth during their weekly visits. It has been no big struggle to capture Rosier and his father either, as the two men viciously compete with each other in all things, and it has simply been a matter of using that antagonism to her advantage. Flint and Warrington have already tasted her charms; they killed each other in a duel over her two months ago.
Her greatest challenge, however, still lies before her - literally.
Spread out upon her coverlet in a sideways sixty-nine position, her two newest clients – they've only been visiting her for the past month - take turns pleasuring each other. The sounds and sight of their sucking, slurping mouths has her squirming, and feeling intimately unnecessary.
Pretending to book her services as a tag-team duo for the night gives Draco Malfoy and Theodore Nott an excuse to be with each other in this way at least once a week, sometimes more. She is their slight-of-hand trick, the con for their clandestine lust. The magical slave brand tattooed above her heart assures not only her inability to conceive children while under its influence, but also her confidentiality with a simple command given by the two wizards. This is their secret – the three of them. They will all take it to their graves.
Week after week, she has sat in this same chair across the room in silence and watched them. At first, her voyeurism was simply a matter of idle curiosity. She never could resist the temptation of forbidden knowledge. Now, she watches them bang each other about because it is erotic, and because it is taboo.
She is a conscripted prostitute paid to watch others have sex. The irony is not lost upon her.
Theo sits up on one elbow, his head bobbing up and down over Malfoy's glistening, red cock. The change in angle has Draco moaning, his hips rolling at a faster pace. It won't be long now. Of the two of them, it is the blond who always loses control first. Slytherin's Fallen Prince lacks discipline and self-control.
That's her in. Eventually.
A few hurried thrusts and Draco is coming in Theo's mouth. He gasps, his muscles bunching, his face a mask of exquisite pleasure as he releases. He is, quite honestly, rather captivating in the moment he temporarily abandons the world for Heaven.
For his part, Theo is equally as mesmerizing. His cheeks are pink, his dark hair falls across his closed eyes, hiding him from the world as his throat convulses in swallow after swallow.
She wonders what Malfoy tastes like. Is he salty, or earthy, or is there sweet mixed in? Of all the Death Eaters, he is the one she would expect to be the bitterest. Yet, by the way Theo moans and licks his lips after exhausting his partner of his essence, by the suckling kisses he presses to the rose-red tip of his partner – as if begging for a last drop - she thinks Draco must be the most delicious of treats.
Her mouth goes dry.
Having found his pleasure, Draco sits up, releasing Theo's long, thick length and there is a moment of silent understanding between them. He gets to his knees and turns about, offering his body up to his best friend. Nott comes over him. His taller frame drapes to cover Malfoy's scarred back, as if to hide his lover's imperfections from others. They appear to be old scars, from childhood, but Hermione cannot say for certain without examining them up close.
In an easy glide, Theo pierces his partner from behind. It is a well-practiced, smooth move that causes Hermione's insides to clench.
Long, sugar-white hair tosses back as Draco moans and arches at being filled by such a thick shaft. His companion pauses only a moment, and then he pulls back, easing every glorious inch out. He thrusts back in with a quick jerk, and establishes a strong rhythm after that, the pace meant for his urgent release. Flesh slaps together as Theo's pelvis slams into his lover's rear.
From this angle, Hermione can see the dripping length of the Dominant male sliding back and forth between the submissive's cheeks. She can also see Draco hardening again, his youth, the strength of his desire, and his overall health allowing for a short refractory period. He grips that steeling rod in one hand, balancing on the palm of the other, and strokes with a snug grip.
Between her thighs, her juices flow and her vagina clenches. Her mouth waters. She wants that - all of it. She wants to know what it feels like to be pierced by both of them at the same time.
Nothing and no one else in this forsaken house has moved her so since the day she was brought here. No tongue, no fingers, no cock, no toy has made her orgasm. She has held such a tight rein on that part of herself, denying it at every turn. Now, watching Theodore Nott fuck Draco Malfoy makes her want to shove her fingers into her pussy and come right along with them.
She refrains, though, as it feels wrong to give into such temptation in this place, and for these people. Instead, she watches, fascinated by the way they touch, and by the sounds they emit as the pace increases and they reach for that high together.
All too soon, they come, one after the other, crying out their partner's name.
Not long after that, there is the messy withdrawal, and then the collapsing of exhausted, shaky limbs. There is the tangling together, and the gentle kisses, and the soft words as they cuddle in the glow. They quickly fall asleep together on her bed, knowing she will wake them when their paid time is up.
In the silence afterwards, Hermione gets up and hurries into the loo, closing and locking the door behind. She runs the bath, using the sound of the flowing water for cover as she angrily dashes at the tears that swamp her vision.
They love each other. It is as clear as daylight. Two Death Eaters – men who had tormented her as a child, and who are most likely responsible for the torture and murder of dozens of innocents – have found in each other the solace they need to survive this war intact.
It isn't fair.
... ... ... ...
"Occasionally words must serve to veil the facts. But let this happen in such a way that no one becomes aware of it..."
... ... ... ...
Later that same month...
McLaggen raises his head from between her thighs. His cheeks and chin are coated with her juices – the tiny bit of arousal she now allows where he is concerned – and frowns. "Why can't I make you come?" he asks, crawling up her body. "What will it take, Granger?"
She doesn't let her triumph show on her face, but she feels it slide across her tongue like a delicious wine.
Got you now, she thinks.
Affecting a suffering condition, she sighs. "If I give in to you – if I come on your demand - I'll have to give in to all the others, too," she says, crafting the truth in such a way that it serves to subtly prod this man in the direction she wants. "I don't want to feel pleasure with those men, and it's an all or nothing deal for me, Cor. I can't do it any other way."
His golden-brown eyes go hard as he considers her words, even as his hips drop down, and his solid length of him glides up and into her again. "You're saying that if you didn't have to fuck the others then you'd give yourself to me, finally?"
She wraps her arms around his neck and brings her mouth to his ear, thrusting up once to meet his surging body. It is the first time she's responded to him of her own will in this fashion, and she uses it effectively to convince him of her argument.
"If I were free to be just one man's lover… I could let go," she murmurs against his ear. "I could let myself be yours, yes."
He has taken the bait. She knows by the way he growls into her throat and bites down, possessive in his desire to have her for his own, pounding her into the mattress. She lies back and lets him have her as he wants for the rest of the night. She doesn't come for him, though, and this drives him into a frenzy of need so great that when he leaves her, she knows he has murder on his mind.
As she bathes the stink of McLaggen off of her minutes later, she makes internal bets on whether it'll be Dolohov, Yaxley, or Rowle that will see the end of Cormac's wand first. Or maybe it'll be one of the Lestrange brothers. She even fantasizes for a moment that he would actually be foolish enough to go after the Dark Lord, himself – that, despite the fact Voldemort has no idea she even exists or that his loyal followers are fucking themselves silly over her.
After all, no one wants to be the first to admit that they're regularly screwing the Queen of all Mudbloods against the high command's express orders regarding mingling with "her kind".
... ... ... ...
"Nature has so contrived that to men, though all things are objects of desire, not all things are attainable..."
... ... ... ...
Two weeks pass...
Upright and on his knees in the middle of the bed, Theo moans as Draco, kneeling in front of him and hunched over, takes the man's bobbing length between his kiss-swollen lips. Well-manicured, long fingers slip through platinum hair as Theo grips tight and thrusts with shallow strokes into Malfoy's mouth.
"Gods, yes," he encourages with a groan. "Take me deeper."
He gasps as Draco does as commanded and goes to the root of him, his nose pressed into the dark curls at Theo's pubis.
"Ah, shite… suck me harder, Draco! Yeah, that's it! Oh, fuck, so good!"
Hermione shifts in her chair, crossing her legs to feel the tiny pleasure that tightening up her inner vaginal walls gives. If only there was a way to ease the burning heat in her core! She closes her eyes and purses her lips, trying to drown out the sounds of Theo's pleasure by concentrating on random silly things, like how many words she can name that start with the letter 'I'.
She gets to 'icicle' when Theo roars out in ecstasy.
It's a cheat, but she peeks over at the couple, watching as Draco greedily drinks down his lover's rich come, while stroking over his own desperately hard length, preparing for what she knows will come next.
It's Nott's turn to kneel.
Her pussy floods with her arousal, soaking her knickers. Her hands ache to reach under her dress for a little diddle. She grips the cosy chair's cushioned arms instead, white-knuckling it while watching Draco tuck his cock in tight to Theo's backside and thrust hard.
Bloody hell, it's going to be a long night.
... ... ... ...
"No proceeding is better than that which you have concealed from the enemy until the time you have executed it."
... ... ... ...
A week later...
McLaggen manages to off both Lestrange brothers, Avery, and Yaxley before Bellatrix catches up to him. By then, he is feeling invincible, the notches on his wand having gone straight to his head. He gets careless as a result. Voldemort's right-hand witch Avada's his arse before he can draw on her and he is burned to a crisp in the ensuing bonfire she sets with his body in the middle of Diagon Alley.
At least, that's how Dolohov tells it, as he lays in a lazy heap curled up into Hermione's side after a three-hour long sexual gymnastics routine. Of course, she feigns complete ignorance of Cormac's reasons for having gone around the bend. "Maybe he wanted to climb the ladder by eliminating the competition for your Dark Lord's favour," she suggests.
"Most probable," he yawns, not bothering to cover his mouth, his Russian accent thicker than usual because of his exhaustion. "Da vizard was too big for da britches, as you English say."
Forcing down her disgust as one of his hands begins to wander up her damp thigh, she stares up at the ceiling and verbalizes the script written in her head for a moment such as this. "I'm... glad it wasn't you... Antonin."
He physically stiffens at first, as if he can't believe she'd say such a thing, especially given her intentional indifference to him for almost a whole year, but then he sits up on one elbow to stare down at her with wonder. "You mean vat you say, Solnyshko moyo?"
She fakes nervousness. "I... I... yes."
The sun lights up his eyes and he smiles.
She has him.
... ... ... ...
"...all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it."
... ... ... ...
A month later...
Dolohov cuts Travers' throat and stabs Selwyn in the heart in a knife fight after a drunken row in Knockturn Alley. The rumours going around say their disagreement is over a woman. No one knows who she is, though. He is executed by Rookwood that same day.
Voldemort is so infuriated that he hasn't been consulted first regarding Dolohov's fate that he Crucio's Rookwood until the man loses his mind and is irrevocably broken.
Even though she wants to brag her success to the sky, Hermione knows that letting it go to her head will only give her away. She reserves smiles for the darkness of her bedroom when she is alone, and chuckles into her pillow as quietly as possible.
... ... ... ...
"Everyone sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are..."
... ... ... ...
Three days pass...
"Mad, Dolohov was," Rowle finishes with a shake of his head as he sits up to get ready to dress and leave her. "Like a bloody wolf baying at the moon, I always said. I'd been his partner a few times over the years." He turned to her, grinned, and twirled a finger round and round next to his head in the universal sign for 'crazy'. "The man wasn't all there."
Hermione slithers up to mould her body against Rowle's back. She wraps her arms about him and gives a fake shiver and a tight squeeze in her first ever affectionate gesture towards him. "When I heard that he'd killed two of you, I... I admit I was a bit... well..." She fakes a stall.
Rowle turns in her arms, a surprised expression on his face. "Were you worried for me?"
She purses her lips and drops her eyes to the coverlet, pretending to not want to tell him the "truth".
Not the most intelligent of Voldemort's lackeys, he is easily lured in by her innocent act. With a gentle shove, he has her on her back again, and comes over her, already hardening for a second go around against her thigh. "Well, no need to worry, dove," he murmurs against her lips, slipping her the tongue in a quick lick. "I'm alive and right here with you."
She wraps her arms around his neck – her second capitulation in their relationship – and gives him a wide-eyed, sincere look. "I'm... glad... that it wasn't you."
He takes her then with some concentration towards providing her pleasure. She fakes orgasming for him by squeezing her inner muscles in a rolling, milking effect – a trick she has learned over the weeks she has been watching Nott and Malfoy go at it like cats in heat to keep her sanity during one of their sessions. Rowle gives her a lazy, arrogant smirk at her sham cry and proceeds to attempt to get her to come again for him, cajoling her while shuttling in and out of her body in a dull rhythm. Her repeat performance has him kissing her with delight.
He's all hers now.
... ... ... ...
"The lion cannot protect himself from snares, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognise snares, and a lion to frighten wolves."
... ... ... ...
Two months later...
This time, Voldemort steps in and personally executes Thorfinn Rowle for his betrayal. He is furious, and demands answers. Hermione wonders why he just didn't use Legilimency on the man before opening his throat with a Slicing Hex, but then, the Dark Lord was rather rabid when he found out Rowle had intentionally poisoned both his lieutenants, Jugson and Mulciber.
Or so she learns from Jack Scabior when he purchases her for the night soon after.
She suspects he's been sent there as a mole for Snape, and that's why he divulges so much information about the inner workings of his organization before their clothes are even completely off. For that reason, she treats the Lead Snatcher with cool disdain and feigns ignorance of the workings outside this, her comfortable prison. She also charms up the waterworks as he fucks her – which is not really that difficult to do, as he's an awful shag – and when he leaves, she thinks she's convinced him that he's looking in the wrong place for his subtle traitor.
Perhaps now he'll turn his attention on others in their dwindling group. Maybe they'll eat each other alive in suspicion.
... ... ... ...
"Nothing is of greater importance in time of war than in knowing how to make the best use of a fair opportunity when it is offered."
... ... ... ...
One week later...
Malfoy and Nott's fucking is frantic that night, as if they know something terrible lurks on the horizon for them, and they want to get in as much mutual pleasuring as possible in the time they have left. Hermione can feel their desperation, and wants to ask them what they know, but she holds her tongue, too enthralled by the scene that unfolds before her to disturb its mood.
They are facing each other, and Malfoy is on his back, legs spread and pelvis tilted up for his lover to come into him. There has been little preparation, merely a spell used to lubricate their bodies. Nott grips his hard length in hand and guides it in, his gaze locked on Draco's with fiery lust and a love so poignant that it hurts to look at it. He captures his lover's gasp with his mouth, his hips rolling and bunching so he can push on through. Only when he is seated to the hilt does Theo break the kiss.
They say nothing, only gasp and moan as they make love.
Hermione watches with envy burning through her guts.
They don't deserve this kind of happiness, neither of them. They were horrible to her and many others during their years at Hogwarts, both of them, and afterwards they joined the side of evil, for whatever reasons. Their souls are undoubtedly stained.
And yet, here they are, locked in the most beautiful moment two people can experience, sharing a feeling only people of good heart should feel, and doing it for all the right reasons.
She hates them for their fortune, and she loves them for the brief respite from the war that they provide. She hopes they survive whatever is coming.
... ... ... ...
"Develop the strength to do bold things..."
... ... ... ...
Six days later...
Draco and Theo are back, and they're at it like rabbits in the springtime. They cast an Aphrodisiac Charm on each other, and spend hours both giving to and taking pleasure from their partner. By the time the spell releases them, and they collapse in exhaustion four hours later, they are covered in each other's come. It coats their lips, their cheeks, their chests, between their legs, and even into Draco's hairline.
Hermione knows this because, for once, she decides to take advantage of the situation while the two of them are out cold. Using a soft wash cloth and a bowl of warm water, she cleans them both up, taking her time to map out the angles and curves of their individual bodies as she works.
They are close in height, with Theo only a few inches over Draco's six feet, but Malfoy is the stockier built of the two. His muscles are heavier, thicker, even without flexing. It appears that he has spent his time over the years honing his physical strength. Theo is leaner, longer-limbed, but nothing appears incongruent on the man. His muscle structure matches his stature; wide shoulders and narrow hips give him an elegant, refined look.
Both men are handsome, too, having grown into their looks. Draco is still pointy of feature, but now those patrician genes give him a dangerous, alluring edge. Theo has squared out in the jaw and lost his baby fat, which matures him. He is both masculine and sensual.
As she gently wipes the dried bit of seed from Nott's pectoral, she chances a glance over at Malfoy...
...and finds him watching her through a lazy, slumberous gaze.
There is a moment of awkwardness, a slight panic at being caught doing something that was supposed to be on-the-sly, but then she realizes that he has taken no measures to stop her, so she continues with her ministrations, trying hard not to notice the curiosity in Draco's expression.
At sunrise, when they leave, she touches herself to the memory of touching both of them. She strokes over her clit and pumps two fingers up inside her channel as she calls up the image of Malfoy lying in bed, unmoving, as she cleans both his lover and then him.
He'd let her touch his chest, his abs, his cock, to stroke over his bollocks – to lift them in a gentle palm even, as she cleaned the cleft of his backside. He'd let her do the same to Theo. Throughout it all, he hadn't spoken a single word to her, hadn't raised a hand to stop her, but strangest of all, he hadn't stopped staring at her as she'd wiped the evidence of their love-making from their bodies. In fact, she'd glimpsed heat from him as she'd purposefully stroked over his long length more than required, and a crimson bloom had grown across his cheeks as she'd done the same to Nott.
Her memories merge with fantasies, as she imagines Draco reaching up to pull her down on top of him, and of plunging every bit of those eight inches he sports into her desperately wet pussy. She adds to the scene, placing Theo behind her, visualizing his thick, long staff piercing her cunt from behind. As both men fuck the same hole, rubbing their cocks together, she is kissing Draco. His tongue shoves into her mouth to the same rhythm as the men have set, and the room is filled with their mutual moans and gasps.
"Let go, love," her phantom Theo bids in her ear, hunched over her as he drives deep and hard.
"Come for us, Granger," her counterfeit Malfoy commands in that imperious tone she sometimes hears him use on Nott.
"Yes, yes!" she pants, and with a last, surging shove, she is coming, coming, coming as she never has before. Her whole body grabs hold of her fingers, clamping down and the inside muscles ripple over them as she keens with pleasure. "Draco, Theo! God, yes!" she screams.
She sleeps the day away after that, able to fully relax for the first time in years. She doesn't awaken until her first client of the night knocks on her door at six p.m.
... ... ... ...
"...the ends justifies the means..."
... ... ... ...
Six days later...
That night, Malfoy comes to her room, alone. He says nothing to her as he enters, nor as the lock clicks behind his back, shutting them in for the evening. He merely leans against the door, his shoulders slumped and head bowed, wand hand shaking as if he were suffering from some sort of narcotics withdrawal. He looks as if he might fly into a thousand pieces on the spot, and all that holds him together is the anger that makes his fists clench.
Clearly, he is a man on edge. Something has happened.
It dawns on her then: Theo is not there.
A chill passes through her.
From the defeat evident in Malfoy's whole demeanour her worst suspicions are confirmed.
This is her fault. She'd been the one to sic Scabior on other targets when she hadn't given the man any hint that the rash of traitorous activity within the Death Eaters could be laid squarely at her feet. The Snatcher had gone after Theodore Nott instead.
Tears flood her eyes.
She's responsible for destroying the only thing in this whole war which has made any sense to her and given her even a spark of hope.
Draco shifts his weight, and it draws her attention.
He is silently suffering, hovering on the precipice of sanity. He needs help.
Without a word, she approaches and gently takes his hand, guiding him to the bed where he had last touched his lover. She removes his clothing a piece at a time, and pries his wand from his clutching fingers, placing it on the bedside table. She arranges him on the bed, and takes up the space behind him where Theo would typically sleep, pulling the covers over them both. Fully clothed, she holds onto Malfoy and waits for the inevitable.
It only takes her giving him a light squeezing hug for him to let go. His stout body shudders with great, wracking sobs as he begins to cry. As the minutes pass, his mourning grows stronger and stronger, until eventually he howls and screams at the unfairness of his loss. Hermione tightens her hold on him, keeping him close and warm, not wanting him to feel alone.
When he finally falls into an exhausted, sniffling mess more than an hour later, she presses her mouth to his ear and offers him the comfort she has never given to anyone in this place.
"It wasn't about sex. It wasn't about power. Between you two, it was love. It was beautiful to watch." She smoothes his long, platinum hair from his cheek, and caresses to comfort, not arouse. "But you need to be strong for him now, Malfoy. You need to endure. If you want justice for him, it's the only way."
He takes a deep breath and lets it out nice and slow. "Tell me what you need me to do."
Although it saddens her to think such things about him – to use his grief for her own agenda - she knows she's got him right where she wants him, and if she hesitates, she may never get another chance to end this war once and for all. So, she hardens her Gryffindor heart and speaks to him with a Slytherin's forked tongue. She gives Malfoy direction, and she knows he will die in the undertaking of her scheme. When he turns in her arms to look her in the face, she understands that he knows and has come to accept his ultimate fate as well. He is resigned. They both are.
He removes her clothing then and makes love to her for the first time in the hush after their accord, breaking the slave brand above her heart with his wand's power. As he comes deep inside her, casting a fertility spell to assure conception, she understands that this is his price for her plans to come to fruition.
When he leaves, she changes into the clothes that she was originally brought to this house wearing – Muggle jeans, a jumper, and trainers – and ties her hair back with a lacing from one of her corsets to get it off her face. She quickly gathers her essentials for a fast get-away into the centre of the dark, still-warm bed sheet, folding it up, and once she is ready, she heads for the door. She stops to look back over her shoulder and take one last look at the place that has been her insufferable reformatory for the past year and two months.
She spits her disdain for the place onto the soft carpet below, and hopes it burns to the ground someday.
On quiet feet, she slips out of the house. The magic that has compelled her to stay locked away behind its walls is now gone, thanks to Draco, and she hurries off in a random direction down a darkened street, her heart slamming under her ribs as she slithers between shadows and prays no one stops her.
... ... ... ...
"I assert once again as a truth to which history as a whole bears witness: that men may second their fortune, but cannot oppose it; that they may weave its warp, but cannot break it. Yet they should never give up, because there is always hope, though they know not the end and move towards it along roads which cross one another and as yet are unexplored; and since there is hope, they should not despair, no matter what fortune brings or in what travail they find themselves."
... ... ... ...
Seven months later...
Shell Cottage has taken a lot of work to get back up to snuff, but Hermione is pleased with the progress. She's crafted new curtains for the windows from fabric that she's swiped here and there during her foraging expeditions, using an old foot-pedal model sewing machine that had been gifted to Fleur for her wedding ages ago to hem the edges. She's patched the roof from the damage that the years of neglect has done to it. She's even cleaned the Floo.
Those last two tasks she's accomplished with magic, as it isn't safe for a pregnant woman to be climbing ladders or inhaling chimney soot.
After stealing a wand off of a drunken Snatcher during her escape from London seven months prior, she'd immediately Disapparated away and gone straight to The Burrow. As she'd anticipated, it had been burned to the ground, its surviving owners scattered to the wind. It had taken her another four months, and the demise of the Dark Lord at Draco's hand for her to be reunited with what was left of Ron's family.
It had been Bill who had given her his old house here on the beach, renouncing its ownership, not wanting any memories of the life he'd led before, when his newlywed wife had been alive. Charlie and Ginny had agreed it would be a good fit for her, and reinforced the offer, determined to rebuild and then reside on their familial lands in Ottery St. Catchpole instead, wanting to properly take care of Arthur, their only surviving parent.
She's been here now for a little less than three months, and it's finally become a place she thinks of as 'home'.
Using the replacement wand she's recently been gifted by Mister Ollivander, feeling its magic harmonize with her will, she stokes the fire in the Roman oven in the kitchen, preparing to make a Lancashire hotpot for dinner.
As she gathers the ingredients atop her cutting board, she rubs her rounded, distended belly, talking softly to her baby who is sleeping under her heart, as she is often wont to do. She tells her son that she can't wait to meet him, that she loves him, and that she is sorry he'll never get to meet his father. It is the same conversation they've been having for months now.
There is a knock at her door. It is Ginny and Charlie, come to invite her to the rebuilt, redesigned Burrow for dinner, at Arthur's behest. Their appearance at her door reminds her that she must reconnect the Floo at some point soon, so the midwife can come when it's time to deliver the baby. Just another task to add to the growing list, she wryly thinks.
Wiping her hands on her apron, Hermione sets it aside and agrees to let Charlie take her on his broom to his home. Apparating while pregnant isn't safe, after all.
Although everyone knows whose child she is carrying, they also think of Draco Malfoy as something of a redeemed hero for his courage there at the end. She likes to remind them all of this fact whenever his name comes up in conversation, and also that he couldn't have found such bravery without Theodore Nott's help. She has never divulged the nature of that relationship, keeping the agreement she'd made in her heart a long time ago that she would take that secret to her grave, but she does credit Theo in Draco's tale whenever she can, too.
"A'right, Hermione?" Charlie asks, as he sits her side-saddle on his broom and cradles her gently in his strong, warm embrace. He has also applied a cushioning charm to her rump for her comfort, and a warming charm about her to keep off the chill. He is being extra-cautious, given her advanced condition.
It is no secret that Ron's older brother has come to fancy her a bit over the past few months, despite her increasingly looking like one of the Lovegood's dirigible plums. Hermione is unsure how to feel about that, honestly. She isn't sure if she'll ever be able to give so much of herself to any one man ever again.
Charlie pauses a moment longer, clearly doubting her word. His fingers brush against her chin, turning her head so he can look her in the eye. He assesses her through a narrowed gaze, seeking the truth in her face. He won't find it there; she's learned over time how to lie better than the best of them. Subterfuge has become second nature to her by now.
"You sure you're up for this?" he gently enquires, concern marking his tanned and lightly freckled features.
Taking a deep breath, she nods. She hates flying – always has. But, if there's one thing she learned from her incarceration, it's that some things are worth all the risk... and being with the Weasleys is one of those things for her.
Besides, she still has a Gryffindor's heart. It's only her soul that's become Slytherin.
"Absolutely. Let's go," she urges, holding tight to him and pressing her nose into his collar.
On a quick inhale, she discovers that he smells good – like fresh air, cut grass, and sunshine. His body is hard with bulky, powerful muscle, yet he is gentle as he wraps his arms about her. It is with some surprise that she realizes that he makes her feel protected, cherished – something she hadn't felt in a very long time.
"Right. We'll be there soon, love," he murmurs against her ear as he pushes off and they leave the ground far behind. "Don't worry. I've got you."
Strangely, in this, she finds it easy to trust Charlie. He is a Weasley, after all, and she knows them to be as comfortable and reliable as a well-worn pair of pyjamas.
On the heels of that thought, she casts a quick glance up at him. He isn't ugly, but he also isn't overwhelmingly attractive either - at least, not in the way Draco or Theo were handsome. Charlie is an outdoorsman, bronzed and spotted by the sun, his face already weathering with exposure and age. His skin will never be pale and milk soft, his lips will always be chapped, and he lacks the draw of sensual magnificence. However, there is a strength and honesty in his face, safety in his arms, and kindness in his eyes. She knows he will never purposefully fail those he loves. Best of all, he is built to endure.
Perhaps her future in the romance department isn't quite as bleak as she'd believed.
Snuggling into her companion's chest to wait out the rest of the trip, she rubs a hand over her rounded belly once more, and considers the possibilities.
AUTHOR'S END NOTES:
"Solnyshko moyo" = Russian for "my sun" – an endearment for a lover (specifically female).
Roman oven = A traditional direct-fired masonry oven build of stone/brick which dates in Western culture to the Roman Republic. Used for artisanal bread cooking and baking.