This was my 2013 HP-PornInTheSun Fest (hp-porninthesun . livejournal . com) entry. This story won MOD'S CHOICE AWARD for the fest!
The fest is over and reveals are out, so now I can post this for you here. This fanfic is multi-chaptered, but is already finished. I will post a chapter up every week until it's done. Here was the prompt I worked from:
Prompt: HET #13 - As part of her Magical Creatures job, Hermione's investigating rumours of unregistered Animagi. She ends up at Malfoy Manor following an anonymous tip about Draco. Guess what she discovers there? And guess what she reveals about herself in the process? No ferrets, please, but otherwise… have fun!
Thank you to my wonderful friend, Ladysashi, who helped brainstorm this fic all the way through with me, and beta'd for me! I couldn't have done this with you... and I hope you like your gift!
Thank you to the Mods of this fest -Sarcastrow, LunaLovesPotter, and Rivertempest- for putting on this fest again. I LOVED participating! And thank you for voting this story as your choice for the fest! I AM SO HONOURED!
I hope you enjoy this take on the Animagus trope! Please review & let me know!
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-Hogwarts, EWE (year: 2005).
MAIN CHARACTERS FEATURED (alphabetical order, last name): Hermione Granger, Draco Malfoy
SECONDARY CHARACTERS FEATURED (alphabetical order, last name): Gregory Goyle, Astoria Greengrass, Harry Potter, Rita Skeeter + Original Characters
SUMMARY: M.L.E. Probation Officer Hermione Granger is sent a mysterious note to come to Malfoy Manor immediately to prevent her probationary charge, Draco Malfoy, from breaking the terms of his post-war Wizengamot sentence. The note claims Draco is an unregistered Animagus, and that he's trapped himself in his animal form, unable to reverse the spell. Who would send her such a note, and why? A startling, unexpected turn of events uncovers a conspiracy to commit murder, where everyone's a suspect, and forces a confrontation of feelings between two people who have discovered that the sins of the past are better left behind.
RATING: NC-17 (MA)
WARNINGS: Explicit Het sex (surprise!), a bit of profanity regarding the naming of sexy parts (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), snakes (why'd it have to be snakes?!), characters a bit OOC (because they're all grown-up now and usually people aren't the same idiots they were when they were kids), a murder conspiracy plot and use of Unforgivable Curses (the plot thickens!), and did I mention snakes? LOTS AND LOTS OF THEM.
Notes: I wanted to throw in an animal conservation message into this fic, so... here you go. Doing my part for those under-appreciated reptiles.
ORIGINAL SIN (a.k.a. 'A Startling, Unexpected Turn of Events')
"There on the branch of a tree was a snake,
glowing the eyes of evil unto me..."
- "Snake" by Felix Beardy
The spiky, white snake was curled up on the branch of Narcissa Malfoy's bonsai citrus tree, its scales raised to indicate alarm. It was crouched into a tight, advantageous striking position, flicking its tongue in nervousness, scenting the air.
"You should be worried," she scolded the snake. "Breaking magical probation this way is a set-back for you, Draco Malfoy. If anyone else had found you like this it could have landed you before a Wizengamot magistrate." She shook her head in disapproval at him. "It's just a good thing someone sent me the note this morning to come here and investigate. Anyone else wouldn't have been quite so lenient and understanding."
She put her hands on her hips, preparing to launch into another round of admonishing Draco about using magic when he'd been explicitly prohibited to do so by the terms of his post-war sentencing, but her sudden movement had the serpent in front of her hissing in warning.
"Don't you smart-mouth me, Malfoy! I'm still your probation officer, and I can make your life hell for the next two weeks, if you don't stop this nonsense immediately!"
The thing had the audacity to hiss at her again, making a strange growling noise at the same time.
Merlin and Morgana, she hated snakes! After the incident at Godric's Hollow with Nagini, she'd developed an intense dislike of them. They were, in a phrase, frightfully cunning and could not be trusted.
"For Circe's sake, I won't hurt you, Draco, you know that!" she rebuked the man-turned-serpent. "Just please come out, so we can determine a way to change you back."
The black forked tongue of the reptile zipped several more times out of its mouth to taste the heat and her intentions, and the animal's eye slits narrowed even further.
Hermione put her hands on her hips and stared him down. "Really, I don't know how you get yourself into these kinds of messes. Every time I turn around, you're doing something you're not supposed to be doing. You know the rules of your probation. As your assigned officer, it's my job to make sure you stick to them, not to pull you out of the fire every time you decide to play around, you know. What's my Offender Assessment Analysis going to conclude when it comes time for your hearing if you continue this way?"
Malfoy coiled up even tighter in the tree – a clear warning to stay away.
Hermione reached into the holster at her hip and pulled out her Vinewood wand. It sparked against her fingertips, much as it had since the day Draco had presented it to her, post-war, having found it under a table in his Drawing Room. She gave the rod a good shake now, hoping to tame its rebellious tendencies and prolonging her needing to retire it by another day.
Soon, she knew, she'd have to take a trip to Ollivander's rebuilt shoppe in the Alley, but she'd been hesitating on doing so, as it felt as if she would be closing another chapter in her life if she acquired a new wand. She'd just broken things off with Ron two years ago, after giving it a solid go between them for five years. That had been a painful enough separation, but to have to change-up her wand, too... Well, she wasn't sure she was ready for that step just yet.
She pointed her wand at the snake. "Draco Malfoy, you come out of there right now and stop posturing! I don't want to have to use magic on you to force the issue. We're both adults, friends even, and using magic on you to force you would feel like a violation of trust to me. So, don't make me cross that line. Come down."
"Granger, what are you doing here and who are you talking to?"
She froze, recognizing the familiar, droll voice coming from the greenhouse door behind her.
Which meant the snake crouched and ready to strike in front of her wasn't Draco. It was one of his pets from his vast collection.
Merlin, how could she have been so stupid to not have checked first whether the snake was really an Animagus or the real deal? After all, it seemed highly unlikely that someone who'd actually learned such a difficult spell as Animal Transformation on their own wouldn't have figured out how to reverse the change, too, right? Yet, the note she'd received today had insisted that Draco was stuck in snake form after secretly playing around with the Animagus spell and he needed help to change him back. She'd naively taken it for granted that no one would send such a serious memo in jest. The message had even detailed where Hermione would find snake-Draco...
...which meant this had been a trap laid out for her in advance. Someone had wanted her to encounter this snake, and for a purpose she was betting wasn't benign.
A hand suddenly clamped down on her wrist and held her immobile. Behind her, Draco let out a hiss. "Don't move," he warned in her ear, deadly serious. "Atheris hispida is of the viper family and is extremely venomous. Lucy here could pump enough hemotoxin into you to cause haemorrhaging and death."
"Lucy?" she whispered, even as Draco very slowly moved them out of striking range.
When they were far enough away, he grabbed her wand. "May I?" he asked an as after-thought, even as he pointed it at the snake and cast a Petrify spell upon it. He handed her wand back to her and then stepped forward to un-tangle the completely immobilized animal from the limb it was wrapped around.
"How did you escape your cage and get way over here?" he asked the snake, his brow furrowed in thought.
Hermione followed him as he left the greenhouse and headed for a smaller out-building across the yard. As soon as they entered, she knew she was in a specially-built ophidiarium, as the temperature was humid and the air heavy in her lungs. The scent of reptile spoor mixed with fertile loam and dead plant material was present, but faint and not offensive. The place was as neat and clean as a pin. Draco obviously took good care of his pets.
He approached one large enclosure featuring a miniature rainforest diorama. Opening the lid, he carefully placed Lucy on a branch, assuring her security. He hissed again, as if disturbed by the whole matter, and then closed and locked the opening to the small cage. Once the snake was safe once more in her home, he used Hermione's wand to reverse the Petrification spell. Lucy seemed disoriented for the moment, remaining coiled and alert. Her tongue flickered in fast bursts from between the thin breach of her mouth as she scented the changes in her environment.
"It'll take her a few minutes to realise she's back on familiar turf," Draco explained. "We should leave her be. She's been through enough of a shock for the day." He turned and looked around his collection. "In the meantime, let's see if anyone else has been disturbed."
"My wand?" Hermione asked, holding out her hand.
Draco merely shook his head. "Until I know they –and we– are all safe, consider it on loan." He glanced down at her and waggled his eyebrows at her. "Don't worry. I'll give it back. Trust me."
Hermione sighed with resignation. "Fine, just don't break it or use it to do... illegal things."
He tossed her a suggestive grin and gave a deep, sinful chuckle that made her heart do a double back flip and her blood rush to her cheeks.
Bloody hell, it was going to be one of those days, wasn't it?
TO BE CONTINUED...