See chapter one for warnings/disclaimer/summaries. Every chapter will focus on a different character, i.e. (Luna, Severus, Harry, etc.)
PREVIOUSLY: Dumbledore handed out proposal scrolls from a magical creature(a Blood Dragon) to several individuals, Blaise Zabini, Luna Lovegood, Severus Snape, Minerva McGonagall, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. Luna has accepted her letter and left that very night, when Samara arrived. Harry has made plans to leave the following night. Ron and Hermione have not decided as yet. Severus spent the night testing the authenticity of the letter before deciding that he will accept and reviews the changes this will bring to his life over breakfast. Minerva has decided to accept her proposal after thinking about it overnight. She notices Severus is in a good mood, but tunes him out, thinking of what she must do before she can accept.
Hermione sat on her bed, clutching the letter to her chest, unable to process the reality for the second night in a row. She'd barely made it through the day, aware that things were off, but unable to fix it any more than she could put a name to it. She was stunned, to put it mildly, especially when her mind tried to wrap around the reality that Ron, her Ron, was accepting the same proposal that she had been offered. Since when had the messy redhead become her Ron, she didn't know. She hadn't noticed. Now that she was able to process beyond that, her heart ached.
It tore her apart in ways she wasn't ready to acknowledge before, but now had no choice. Yes, their personalities were so opposite that it was quite unlikely they would ever make a good couple, much less a compatible life partner for each other, but she'd still hoped and dreamed. After all, there was Harry, but he didn't have the same fiery pull that Ron had. At least, she'd never considered him as that. He'd always been a friend, a close friend, a brother—the sibling she'd never had.
Now, she suppressed another shudder as her eyes prickled with stubborn tears that she refused to shed. Now even Harry was in on this, it seemed, she'd caught the look he'd sent to Ron, before disappearing up into his room. She had seen that haunted, hunted look in his eyes before and while there was nothing she'd been able to do to make the awful look go away, Harry had managed to banish it before and he would do it again. She'd seem him as he gathered himself together—every single piece—and continued to persevere. He was a survivor and he would always survive.
Today had been a brilliant example.
When they'd had breakfast that morning, she'd worked up the nerve to ask him what he'd thought about the proposal and whether he'd really accept something like that. She'd been careful to put up a muffling spell too—so that the conversation would at least be private—but Harry had only turned to give her a single look.
It had frozen her heart in her chest for one horrible, terrible moment and then, something in his eyes had changed, his emerald gaze had flickered up to the Head Table and then he'd turned away and carefully filled his plate with the familiar items of dry toast, a single omelet and slices of fresh fruit. He had a steaming cup of black tea with plenty of sugar poured into it and just drinking the beverage had eased one of the furrows in his thin brow.
When she'd reached for his arm, he'd shied away, just enough for her to know that the touch wasn't welcome at the moment. She'd felt her face burn, hands dropping to twist in her lap as he'd answered the question in the way she hadn't dared to phrase it. He had no one, he'd told her, absolutely no one at all and here was an offer that seemed like something out of a fairytale.
Someone who wanted him, who promised to love him—or do a decent enough job of it—and would provide for him, not relying on his fame or his name or anything, who didn't even know about his reputation or prophecies and all of that rot. Someone who simply wanted him because he had compatible magic and nothing else. It promised friendship that could lead to fondness and perhaps, from there, even to love, after all, wasn't that how real love lasted?
"But Harry, wanting you for your magic is just as-"
And there, Harry had turned on her, eyes flashing, a sorrow so deep and great in his eyes that she'd swallowed and sat back, leaning ever so slightly away. If all they wanted from him was his magic, that was fine, he'd told her. They could have it. That's all anyone else had ever wanted of him anyway. Magic had caused more trouble in his life up to now than anything else, if someone needed his magic before they could love him, that was fine. He'd gladly give it, because at least, if he had love, if he had stability, if he had someone who honestly cared—the magic was the least of his worries. There were people who wanted him for his fame, his scar and his face—and nothing else. His magic was nothing in this case, he'd gladly give it up.
At that, Hermione had found herself sitting alone when he'd vacated the bench, scooping his egg onto his toast in a makeshift sandwich, before piling the fruit slices in with it. He'd wrapped it in a napkin and bolted from the Great Hall. She wouldn't see him until they were in classes and when she tried to apologize, he'd only shake his head and look away.
She'd worried that Ron would be the next one to turn on her, after all, Harry was stubborn yes, but Ron had that down to an art form. But to her own surprise, it was Ron that managed to even out the awkwardness between them. It was his exasperated elbowing between them to return to their friendship to something resembling the earlier days of their friendship.
When she went to bed that night, an odd feeling lingered in the back of her mind as if something had been off the entire day. The more she thought about it, the more it bothered her and so she scrunched up her pillow and rolled over, trying to find a way to sort out the mess in her head. She had taken her usual detour to the library, a place that often provided some semblance of safety and security, after all, books didn't lie.
Then again, she really hadn't been able to find anything about Blood Dragons in the library and there was no Professor Lockhart to trick into signing a permission slip for her this time. She had almost asked Madame Pince, but then she'd taken one look at the sour-faced woman and found herself unable to formulate a single question beneath that hawk-eyed stare.
Ron had spoken to her at length the night before about all that he knew of Blood Dragons and what his family had told him—or at least what he was willing to share as he'd gone a few shades of red during his retelling of things and her need to know more information than he was willing to give. She didn't see anything embarrassing about it, but then again, it was Ron and wizards could be terribly old-fashioned about some things.
The whole notion of arranged marriage rankled in a way she hadn't expected it would. Technically, it was more of a marriage proposal and she was under no obligation to accept, but the way that both Ron and Harry had been acting had her thinking that they were seriously considering accepting it. She rolled onto her back with a growl of frustration.
It figured. They were boys. The idea of some primitive dragon girl was probably very exciting for them. Ron had said that most blood dragons were rather beautiful in their human forms, but her mind had ground to a halt at the idea of a dragon and then of what that would entail. She didn't want to think about that.
But boys had their little moods and surely they wouldn't be stupid enough to take a chance on something that was so unusual and potentially dangerous, there was no real proof that Blood Dragons existed, at least, not anywhere near enough proof for her and Hermione knew how to research, it was the mark of her genius that her brilliant parents had handed down to her. She folded her arms over her chest and stared up at the canopy of her bed.
Today had been strange.
She'd simply have to give it another try with Harry and Ron in the morning. She was sure she could convince them to come around to her way of thinking. The scroll was fake. There was no way it could be real. There was nothing in the world that could be that good.
First rule of life, there's no such thing as a free lunch.
Her parents had taught her that and she'd taken it to heart, a lesson learned well.
With a sigh, Hermione turned and buried her head half under her pillow. She wished she'd thought ask Madam Pomfrey for an extra phial of Dreamless Sleep. Usually it would help with her occasional extreme studying methods, but she'd taken the last bit last night after Ron's spiel about magic, dragons and the importance of blood purity. She hadn't ever expected any of that from him.
Not from him.
A/N: Finally got Hermione's chapter done. Urgh. I forgot how hard it was to write her. *sigh* I think I'm going make Hermione a bit more of a cautious, but smart bookworm with a quick wand. I'll also be having some more Golden Trio friendship, including Ron and Harry friendship as well-NO Romance between either of the three of them-but they will be friends still.
Welcome to all the new readers and lurkers. I hope you continue to enjoy this fic. I am still updating/working on it, just taking a bit longer to get back to some of them. I think it will remain as one of my least complicated fics for the time being, but I do reserve the right to change it in the future. ;)
Thank you for reading and the kind reviews/favs/alerts. Merry Christmas!