Summary: You can hide a face behind a mask but you cannot hide the temptation of the human soul. Hermione slips into a world of darkness, desire and deception when she becomes frustrated in her day to day life and finds that there is a side to her she never knew. When she becomes infatuated with a mysterious woman who cannot remove her mask and refuses to tell her who she really is, her desire slowly turns into an obsession. The thing with obsessions is that they always destroy more than you could ever have imagined...
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the affiliated characters. Everything belongs to JK Rowling and Warner Bros.
Pairing: Hermione/Bellatrix as well as Hermione/Narcissa. The way I look at it now I do not intend to add any Blackcest and/or Cissatrix to this story. I fully intend to have this story take a more erotic route than any of my other stories so…. need I say more?
Rating: Well, I can't write an erotic story without a future M rating, right?
Note: After finishing The Unholy Trinity saga, I had planned not to write any more Bellamione stories but it seems I just cannot help myself. It is so deliciously dark that I just felt compelled to give it another shot.
"Running away isn't that easy. The second you walk away, you can't turn back."
As the words rolled from her lips, Hermione Granger stared out into the world. Outside the November rain lashed against the window the small, cosy coffee bar in Kensington. Traffic rushed by and a big red double decker bus stopped across the street. A man and a woman got off. He tried to protect himself from the rain with a newspaper whilst she struggled with an umbrella. A couple of minutes later they were gone.
"Why would you want to run away?"
The sound of the other woman's voice roused Hermione from her thoughts ad she looks up into a pair of soft, coffee coloured brown eyes. Andromeda Tonks is an unlikely companion for her in this Muggle coffee shop but she didn't know who else would be willing to listen to her without judging. Andromeda is more of a stranger than a friend but Hermione has learnt that strangers sometimes make better listeners.
"Oh, I don't know," Hermione sighed and leant back in her chair. She tried to smile in an attempt to mask the seriousness of what she had said. "I guess it's just a figure of speech, you know. Like you want something to change but when you come around to actually doing it, you don't because it scares you."
Andromeda narrowed her eyes. When she received Hermione's owl earlier that morning with the request to meet for coffee in the middle of London she had been surprised to say the least. Sure, she knew the Granger girl relatively well but they only ever spoke during parties at the Weasley home. Granted, there was some kind of family gathering at least once a month but Andromeda wouldn't have considered herself to be Hermione Granger's friend.
She'd gotten to know Hermione better in the months after the war had ended. Britain slowly recovered from the terror inflicted by Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters and the lives of those affected slowly returned to some kind of normal. In the weeks and months that followed, people learnt to cope with the aftermath and the scars of the war. Andromeda herself had to learn to cope with raising her grandson on her own. Having lost her husband, her daughter and her son-in-law had changed her life. She was a parent once again and day after day she was confronted with her daughter's eyes whenever her grandson looked up at her.
"I hear Harry and Ginny are finally making arrangements for their wedding," Andromeda said as she picked up her own cup. From over the rim she observed the subtle changes in Hermione's face and the way her eyes darkened at the word 'wedding' finally gave Andromeda some idea as to why the younger witch had really asked to meet her.
"Hermione, do you want to talk about Ron?" she said softly.
"What?" Hermione looked up, seemingly bewildered. "Why would you think that?"
"Because you asked me to meet you for coffee when you and I barely know each other, besides the obvious, I mean. You normally meet Ginny at least once a week. It just seems that you want to talk about something you can't talk to her about," Andromeda pointed out. "My guess is that it's about her brother."
Hermione covered her face with her hands. "That obvious, huh?"
"Just a little." Andromeda couldn't help but smile. "Listen, if you've decided you don't want to talk…"
"He's just such an oblivious, self-centred, egotistical arse sometimes!"
Andromeda blinked at the sudden outburst. "I guess you do want to talk about it then."
"I'm sorry," Hermione said apologetically. "But I'm just at the end of my tether with him. Some days I wonder what happened to us. He doesn't tell me he loves me. He's always working… I mean, we both have demanding jobs but I at least try to be home from time to time. When he isn't working he's either in the pub with his mates or at a Quidditch match. Sometimes it just feels like I'm married to a teenager, not a man."
"Have you tried to talk to him about this?" Andromeda suggested. "Marriage isn't a one way street, Hermione. It takes two people to make things work."
"I know. I've tried to talk to him but when it comes to conversations like that, Ron is very much… how shall I put this…" She hesitated and picked at her fingernails. "He isn't very good at talking about how he feels, I guess. I get that, it's a man thing. No man is very good at that but sometimes I would like to get a little bit more out of him."
"You got married young," Andromeda pointed out.
She remembered the wedding well. It had only been a few months after the war. They'd barely been nineteen years old. It had felt rushed and for a few weeks Andromeda had expected the announcement of a baby Weasley but when none came she just assumed that it had been the war that made them realise that some things just needed to be done. She remembered how, during the first Wizarding War and the months after, people got married left, right and centre. It seemed this time round it was no different.
"I know," Hermione answered. "Some days I think…."
"Think what?" Andromeda pushed when Hermione didn't answer her sentence.
"Was it too soon?"
Hermione didn't make eye contact. Instead she stared down into her half empty cup of cappuccino. Nobody knew she'd been second guessing herself about her marriage. It had been almost three years since their wedding day but recently she spent more time wondering whether she'd made a mistake than enjoying the fact she was married. She would find herself looking at Ron throughout the night as he slept beside her, realising she missed the best friend she'd once had. She longed for the times where they still laughed and joked, or just talked. All of that was gone now.
"Hermione, does Ron know you've been feeling this way?"
She said it a little too sharply and quickly looked up to see if she hadn't offended Andromeda. In the three seconds it took for her to remember who she was talking to she was struck once again by how much Andromeda looked like her older sister. Hermione subconsciously covered her lower arm with her hand, although the sleeve of her white jumper covered the scars left behind by Bellatrix Lestrange.
Andromeda cocked her head. She could see the torment etched across Hermione's face and suddenly she felt tremendously guilty for this young woman. She'd spent the last three years just being a casual friend when it seemed that Hermione had just really needed someone who wasn't related to Ron to talk to.
"Have you considered talking to him about it?"
"I've tried a couple of times but he always gets angry. I… I know he must be scared to lose me but what about the way I feel? Ignoring it isn't going to make it go away."
Andromeda chewed the inside of her cheek. "You could try talking to Molly. I know she's her mum but she's a great woman, Hermione. She helped Charlie and Fleur and the others too. She may seem a little nosy from time to time but really, she's done wonders." Her eyes found Hermione's. "She managed to make Remus see how much Nymphadora loved him. If she managed to change his mind, I'm sure she can manage talking to her son."
"Maybe I will," Hermione reluctantly said. "Ron's out tonight. I might go round to the Burrow and see if she's in."
After a pause that seemed to last too long and feel too uncomfortable, Andromeda finally cut through the silence. "Are you going to the Anniversary this year?"
Hermione shook her head. "I'm not sure I want to. You?"
Every year in May there was an anniversary, celebrating the lives of those who had fought but didn't survive. Every year their names were read out and people would come together to remember the fallen. It was held at Hogwarts, which had been rebuilt to its former glory after the Final Battle. Walking through the castle's corridors brought back more than just the memories of those who had died and Hermione wasn't sure whether she wanted to continue doing it. Ron begged her to go every year and she understood why, he wanted to celebrate his brother's life, but sometimes she thought it was perhaps better to focus on the living then to dwell on the dead.
She looked up at Andromeda, reminded that the woman sitting across the table had lost almost her entire family. She felt guilty for not wanting to go this year but to hear Andromeda admit that there was a chance she would stay away herself eased some of that feeling.
"Ron always makes me go to the Anniversary, because of Fred," she said softly. "I feel like I should go. That if I don't, I somehow don't honour the memory of those who died but…" She swallowed hard. When she felt Andromeda's gaze on her she looked up and their eyes locked. What she saw wasn't judgment. "You know what I mean."
"We honour the dead every day, Hermione. We don't need a yearly reminder for that. I visit Nymphadora, Remus and Ted once a month. I bring flowers or sometimes I just talk. There are months that I forget to go. That doesn't mean I love them any less or miss them any less, it just means that I've started to move on. It's not always good to dwell on the past."
"Thank you," Hermione smiled and glanced at her watch. "I errr… I should probably let you go. Teddy will finish nursery in a few minutes, won't he?"
Andromeda nodded. "Yeah, he does." She stood up from her chair and picked up her coat.
Hermione watched as the older witch put it on. Once again she was struck by the similarities between Andromeda and Bellatrix and the brief flash of what Bellatrix would have looked like in jeans, a jumper and a pair of leather boots got stuck in Hermione's head. She quickly averted her eyes until Andromeda had wrapped her scarf around her neck.
"If you ever want to talk again, Hermione, you know where to find me," she said and patted the younger witch on her shoulder. "My door is always open."
Hermione watched as the older woman left the coffee shop. As the door closed behind her and Andromeda walked past the window before disappearing into a mess of busy London traffic and rain, Hermione stared back down at her cup. She finished it off with one large gulp before standing up, grabbing her coat and quickly putting it on.
She buttoned up, wrapped her scarf around her neck and double checked she had her purse, her phone and her wand, although the latter was withdrawn from Muggle eyes. She smiled friendly at the young barista who had served her the coffee and cast a quick glance at the cover of a newspaper left on a table. More doom and gloom in a world already sinking rapidly into mess of economic downturns and general misery.
When she stepped outside she was caught off guard by the firm wind and unrelenting rain. She cursed under her breath for having forgotten her umbrella and within a matter of seconds she was drenched. She looked left and right before crossing the road without really paying attention to where she was going. Kensington wasn't an area she was very familiar with. She'd chosen it because it was far away from home as well as the Ministry of Magic, minimalizing the chance that anyone saw her with Andromeda.
Wearing her black skinny jeans and cream coloured jumper as well as her trendy coat and fashionable boots, Hermione blended in perfectly with the late afternoon London crowd. The men and women making their way around were a mixture between tourists caught in the bad weather and locals rushing towards home or some wine bar just down the road. Within the next hour rush hour would really start and she hoped to not be stuck on a tube with a ton of grumpy commuters that reeked of a mixture of expensive cologne and wet dog.
She was about to turn around the corner, with the intention of heading straight towards the tube station, when a flickering behind a window on the other side of the street caught her attention. She stood still, looking up in curiosity. Through the heavy rain she saw what looked like the reflection of candles in the window. The door to the building was slightly ajar and there appeared to be a red glow around the entrance. More than anything it drew her attention because the man standing outside was a face she knew. She'd seen him plenty of times inside the Ministry of Magic. His name was Davidson and he was an Auror.
It was difficult to imagine there was a magical establishment away from Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade but that didn't mean it was impossible. After the war, more and more magical places had been created across the city. Some people just preferred to not be part of the magical world as much as they used to, others feared that putting all the magical places in the same spot left them vulnerable to being discovered.
Hermione crossed the road and reached the pavement on the other side. She was now maybe ten feet away from the dark fronted building. She heard music. A low base accented by what she guessed was a violin. It sounded strangely alluring, both mysterious as well as thrilling. She closed the last few meters to the front door and glanced at the Auror standing outside. He looked back at her and from the look in his eyes she could tell that he recognised her. He didn't speak but continued to look straight ahead. Hermione walked past him and pushed against the half open door. It revealed a staircase leading to a lower level. The music grew louder and the light dimmer as she started her descend.
When she reached the bottom step Hermione found another door. She pushed against it and it revealed a large open space behind it. The lights were turned down low and the space lit by candles only, strategically placed around tables, the bar and on the walls. The music was louder here and to her surprise the room was rather full. People sat in leather arm chairs or lay sprawled out over couches. They drank wine or what looked like whiskey. No one looked up when she entered. The atmosphere was relaxed. It wasn't until she entered the bar further that she noticed most of the visitors wore masks, obscuring their faces.
Hermione hesitated. Masks were a Death Eater thing. She was about to turn around when she felt a hand on her shoulder and jumped. A young man had appeared behind her and he smiled. He didn't wear a mask.
"You must be new here," he said with a smile. "My name is Gregory."
She swallowed. "I'm Hermione."
"Oh, I know who you are."
Of course you do, she thought and her features hardened. Everyone always does.
He held her gaze. It was almost hypnotizing, like he could straight through her. His tantalizing green eyes seemed to reflect something Hermione couldn't quite grasp. His hand slipped from her shoulder to her forearm and he led her to the bar.
"But who you are doesn't matter here."
Hermione turned to look at him but by the time she had turned around, he was gone. She found herself standing by the bar alone and caught a glimpse of her own reflection in the mirror. A young witch about her own age spotted her and walked over, a smile gracing her dark red lips. She had short black hair and wore a simple black tank top on a pair of jeans. She looked nothing like a witch but Hermione spotted the wand in her back pocket. This girl was definitely a witch and this bar was filled with magic, she could feel it against her skin.
"What can I get ya?" she asked with a strong Irish accent.
Hermione hesitated and inspected some of the bottles lined up behind the bar. It was half past three in the afternoon but in here it felt like it was the middle of the night. Somehow the outside world didn't exist. It wasn't like her to walk into a place she didn't know without a purpose. In fact, she couldn't remember the last time she'd done anything like this at all. She nervously glanced around before eventually looking back at the girl behind the bar. She didn't have anywhere else to be. The flat she and Ron shared in the West End would only be cold and empty.
"The best mead you've got."
"Coming right up," the girl answered and she reached for a silver bottle shaped like a snake on the top shelf before picking a crystal glass big enough to hold at least half the content of the bottle. As she poured the drink she became aware of Hermione watching her and sensed her questions. "You've not been here before, have you?"
Hermione shook her head. "Why are some of these people wearing masks?"
"Because it makes them feel confident," the girl answered and handed Hermione the glass. "When you wear a mask you can be anyone you want to be and no one will ever know any different. In here…" She gestured around the bar and towards the darker corners of the room barely lit by candles. "…All your fantasies and dreams can come true. They're in your hands."
Hermione took the glass of mead and let her eyes drift around the room before selecting an empty corner. Three arm chairs stood placed around a glass table. All three chairs overlooked what she guessed was a dance floor. A single candle stood on the table, casting enough light for her face to be illuminated if she wanted to or to be obscured in shadows.
The mead rose up and splashed against the side of her glass as the sound of the low base filled the dimly lit room. Hermione sat in the comfortable arm chair, her legs draped over the overstuffed arm. The rich black leather was slick. As she sat and let herself become familiar with her new surroundings she could smell the mixture of expensive alcohol, mystery and secrets. Her wine glass skidded between her fingers, and as the dramatic rhythm of the music reached its climax, the glass fell and bounced off the wooden floor.
Before she could reach down to pick it up there was a hand on her knee. It appeared out of nowhere and Hermione's breath hitched. The touch was soft yet warm and spread through her body like a blazing fire, leaving her skin sizzling and her brain briefly incapable of thinking. She blinked and through heavy lidded eyes she looked down into the darkness around her. A figure had appeared at her feet, clutching the shards of broken glass into their palm. The candle light reflected of the silver mask that covered their face and magnificent charcoal eyes stared up at her.
There and then she lost herself. She slipped and fell into a pool of something she couldn't even begin to put into words. It was as if something had suddenly grabbed hold of her and lured her down into another world but before Hermione could open her mouth and speak, the masked figure had once again disappeared into the shadows, leaving behind the glowing feeling across her skin and an unexplainable burning desire between her legs.