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Daughter of Zeus

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The moment Harry’s spell collided with Voldemort’s, Hermione knew that her long journey would finally be at an end. As she watched, mesmerized, Voldemort’s spell rebounded and the Darkest Wizard the Wizarding World had ever known was finally dead.

Cheers went up in the Great Hall, and everyone came over in the afters, offering their congratulations to Harry, Ron and Hermione. Looking over by the far window, near the southwest corner of the Hall, Hermione noticed that the Malfoy family sat huddled together, looking worse for wear and completely out of place. Hermione’s amber eyes connected with grey ones, and then suddenly, there was an audible gasp that went out over the Great Hall. Looking over her shoulder, where all the eyes were focused, the site that greeted Hermione was one she’d never thought she’d see again. For standing there, by the open remains of what was once the entryway to the Great Hall...stood the Moirai...Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos.

The Moirai were focused on her, and in Atropos’ hand was the thread of fate and as she held it aloft within her hand, she gestured towards Hermione and spoke in an otherworldly voice...

Daughter of Sky
Bearer of fate
Of God and earthly magic
Harbinger of hate

Your quest has ended
Precious blood spilt
Father’s Treasure heralded
Your Vow is now fulfilled

And with those final words, the thread of fate was cut and everyone in the Great Hall watched as the Moirai smiled at the Brightest Witch of the Age—then vanished, as silently as they came.

Everyone looked towards Hermione—some in awe, others in confusion. Professor McGonagall nodded in Hermione’s direction, a knowing glint gleamed within her gaze. Harry, who seemed genuinely confused, looked over at his best friend, the sister of his heart and gestured towards the passageway.

“Mione, what was that?”

Hermione smiled at her friend, realizing she could finally speak the truth. Words that she had been long forbidden to speak. “They are the Moirai, Harry.”

A few more gasps were heard as a full understanding fell upon the room. Harry nodded, still unsure but valiantly trying to figure out what was happening. “The three fates?”

Hermione smiled at her friend. “Yes. Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. The three sisters.”

“Why were they here?”

“Because you weren’t the only one with a destiny to fulfill, Harry Potter.”

“I don’t think I understand.” Harry frowned, looking a bit uncertain.

Professor McGonagall walked over and put a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “Miss Granger was sent here when she was eleven by her Father. Her Muggle guardians—the Grangers, were given charge of Hermione until her quest was fulfilled.”

“And what quest was that?” Harry looked at his friend questioningly.

“To help defeat Voldemort, Harry. To help you defeat a wizard who tried to cheat death. My Uncle was extremely vexed that Voldemort had used such Dark Magic’s to rip open the tapestry of fate. So I was sent here to help restore balance.”

“Your Uncle?” Harry looked even more confused, and then there was another gasp as all eyes focused on a young man with shaggy messy black hair, much like Harry’s, who had suddenly appeared out of shadow. The newcomer was wearing an aviator jacket with a skull ring and a sword made of dark iron attached to his hip. Hermione smiled widely at the young man and walked over to him, enveloping him into a fierce hug.

“Cousin. It is good to see you.” Hermione smiled brightly, while the younger man just smirked and rolled his eyes.

“It’s good to see you too, Hermione.” Looking over the ravaged terrain, the newcomer’s eyes widened comically. “What a mess.”

Hermione smacked the younger boy’s arm. “War...cousin...will do that. Come over and meet some good friends of mine.”

Hermione led her cousin over to Harry, who was watching the younger boy warily. “Harry Potter, I’d like you to meet my cousin: Nico di Angelo.”

“Cousin?” Harry looked a bit dubious, but offered his hand in greeting which the other boy shook.

“Yeah. Younger cousin. Our Father’s are brothers.” Nico smirked while Hermione chuckled.

Harry nodded. “Who is your Father?”

Nico looked over at his cousin and raised an eyebrow mockingly. “Haven’t told them yet?”

“No, I haven’t gotten the chance. The Moirai just released me from my vow so please...we both know what a drama queen you are. Have at it.”

Nico grinned wickedly at his cousin, who just smirked right back. “Sorry. I should’ve formally introduced myself—Nico di Angelo—son of Hades, God of the Underworld.”

The stunned silence was overwhelming until Ron decided to join in the conversation. “Excuse me? Did you just say???”

Nico nodded, grinning madly. “Yeah, I did.”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t believe it?” Ron scoffed.

Nico’s grin became predatory as he gazed back over at his cousin who was glaring at her friend angrily. “Maybe you should do the honors, cousin. Now that the vow is broken and you’re no longer shackled to it? I know someone who has been missing you. Percy has kept her busy but she always liked you better.”

Hermione giggled and led Harry, Ron and her cousin out into the dilapidated courtyard. The remaining survivors gathered around the open doorway and watched as Hermione smiled widely and then shouted. “Ela se mena! Mrs. O’Leary!”

Rumbling could be heard from inside the earth as shadows fell over the grounds of the courtyard, and suddenly from those same shadows...a large hellhound bounded from the side of the courtyard and literally plowed into Hermione. Wands were immediately drawn in defense, but once Harry and Ron saw their best friend laughing and petting the large hellhound, they both just grinned in open amusement.

The site of the large hellhound bounding around in excitement, drew shocked laughter from the assembly of witches and wizards. Glancing at her friends sheepishly, Hermione took Harry’s hand and brought him over to Mrs. O’Leary, who sniffed the Boy Who Lived and then gave him a big wet kiss. Everyone started laughing at the site of Harry Potter being mauled by the huge teddy bear of a hellhound. Soon, Ron pointed out into the sky and said, “Mione, what is that?”

Hermione turned around and faced outwards towards the Black Lake. Sure enough, a few small dots on the horizon grew larger as they got closer. Hermione smiled widely as she recognized Blackjack, her cousin’s Pegasus.

“That Ron, is my other cousin...Percy. He is on the large black Pegasus.” Turning to Nico, Hermione gestured towards the incoming group. “Annabeth with him?”

Nico nodded. “You know? They’re inseparable now. Percy finally got his head out of his arse and...well...” Nico blushed, and Hermione smiled fondly at her younger cousin.

Harry gazed curiously over at his best friend. “Another cousin?”

Hermione rolled her eyes, but nodded. “Yes. Percy Jackson. Son of Poseidon. God of the Sea.”

Harry nodded and then gasped as if he’d finally realized just whom Hermione’s father truly was. “Mione, your Father?”

Hermione’s eyes glinted in the oncoming light and suddenly the gasps of everyone in the courtyard could be heard as Hermione’s aura glowed white, like lightening and her magic crackled along her skin and hair. An image floated above her head—the Mark of Zeus—God of the Sky, King of Olympus and the Gods. Son of Kronos and Rhea. Her Father claiming her for all to see.

“I am Hermione Granger—Daughter of Zeus—God of the Sky. Ruler of the Gods of Olympus. Lord of Honor, Justice, Rain and Lightning.” Her voice carried like thunder and in a surge of power, Hermione’s hands extended and lightning flashed and thunder rolled across the heavens. Now that her quest was done, and the Moirai had released her from her vow, her powers were unshackled for all to see.

A voice from the heavens echoed with unrestrained power as it washed over everyone standing there, watching on with amazement. “Behold my own! Brightness of sky and justice; truth and honor; power and glory—destiny fulfilled.” The heavens rolled again and then there was complete silence. Everyone within the courtyard were completely dumbfounded with profound awe at what they had just borne witness to.

“Bloody hell.” Ron murmured. “I always knew you were brilliant and scary Mione, but blimey!”

Harry nodded in agreement and Hermione smiled widely at her friends. Soon, the large black Pegasus landed in the courtyard and Percy jumped from Blackjack and made his way over to his cousin, picking her up and twirling her around, laughing in joy.

“Put me down, Percy!” Hermione gasped out on a laugh at her cousin’s antics.

“Not a chance cousin!” Percy swung her around once more and then placed Hermione back onto the ground. Soon, other Pegasi followed and Hermione ran over to one of the girls who had dismounted, the two girls hugged each other fiercely. Hermione grabbed the girl’s hand and led her over to her friends.

“Harry, Ron? I’d like to introduce you to my cousin. Percy Jackson, Son of Poseidon, God of the Sea and his girlfriend, Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena, Goddess of Wisdom.”

Harry and Ron just stuttered at the blonde girl, whose steely gray eyes were watching the two boys with amusement. Percy came over and wrapped an arm around his girlfriend, and she just smiled at his show of possessiveness. Once the formal introductions were over, a few more of Hermione’s friends from Camp Half Blood walked over and introduced themselves to Harry and Ron. Then everyone wanted to meet her extended family. Harry and Ron took Hermione aside after a while and asked, “We get why you couldn’t say anything Mione, but does this mean you’re not staying here with us?”

Hermione shrugged. “The choice is mine to make. My Father promised me I’d be able to have the choice if I didn’t die during the quest to defeat Voldemort.”

Harry nodded but Ron looked a bit worried. “When do you have to decide?”

“Soon.” Hermione smiled. “Don’t worry so much Harry, Ron. The hardest part is over and we finally have our lives back. I for one, couldn’t be happier.”

“But you’re a Demi-God now, Hermione.” Ron said quietly.

“Yes. I was always one, Ron. My powers may have been bound because of my vow but I’ve always known who I truly am. It was why the demeaning taunts never really affected me much. I’m technically a half-blood—just half God, half mortal witch.”

Harry looked over at his ginger friend and smirked. “Half God. She says it like it’s some everyday occurrence.”

Ron chuckled. “Well, Mione always did have to be the best at everything after all.”

All three friends shared in a round of laughter, missing the looks of those in the Great Hall, watching the little witch with a newfound appreciation in their eyes. None moreso than a pair of watchful grey eyes, that were filled with sadness, remorse and longing.

Chapter Text

Hermione Granger’s biological mother, a witch, had died when she was a young girl, and at the age of nine she’d been given into the care of her mother’s cousin and his wife. Richard and Helen Granger had known about their cousin and her history with Magic so it wasn’t surprising when the letter from Hogwarts came with Minerva McGonagall a couple years later. What had been a surprise was the identity of Hermione’s biological father, which hadn’t been shared with Hermione nor her guardians until early summer of 1991, when another man in a wheelchair—Chiron, came to the Granger’s home and informed young Hermione that not only was she a witch but she was a demigod and her father was Zeus: Lord of the Sky and Ruler of Olympus.

At first, Hermione thought the man Chiron was a bit touched in the head, but it did explain certain things about her powers. Like how she could summon lightening with her bare hands, and when she would get upset and cry—the skies in the heavens would open up and cry with her. Hermione’s given name was Hermione Jean Dagworth-Granger but the Dagworth had been dropped at the insistence of her mother who had taken great pains to keep her child out of the Magical World after she was born. Witches and wizards didn’t take kindly to unwed witches and Selene Granger had no desire to subject herself nor her daughter to the judgements of the bigots within the Magical World.

Having gone to Beauxbatons herself, Selene had been an excellent student but was particularly gifted in Divination, Astronomy and Ancient Runes. Her love of obscure magical history was a source of taunting from many within her school, but Selene had always found it fascinating. When she’d located a strange scroll in her travels between her sixth and seventh year while visiting Egypt, near the ancient site of Alexandria, she had been truly excited. She had been visiting the Egyptian Ministry with her father when she’d discovered a set of scrolls within a barely used portion of the archives where her Father worked. Adolphis Dagworth-Granger worked within the French Ministry of Magic as an archivist and historian. He had been invited to attend a conference in Egypt and brought along his only child with him, where she whittled the days away entrenched in the ancient archives. It was there she found the truth.

The Gods of Ancient Mythology were real! Not only that, but they could be summoned if one had the proper magical tools to do so. So Selene made a copy of the scroll and took it back to France, where she spent an entire year studying the material, never sharing with anyone what she’d found.

As luck would have it, her father succumbed to a curse just after she’d graduated from Beauxbatons and left her alone with little in the way of monetary resources. The main branch of the Dagworth-Grangers had emigrated to the America’s some 100 years prior, leaving her ancestors as a cadet branch with some lands, a worthless title and galleons that had been frittered away over the past century.

With nothing left to lose, Selene decided to see if she could summon the Gods, not expecting her call to be heard. But to her great astonishment it was, and for a time she had walked, talked and eventually fell in love with Zeus.

But Hera was a jealous bitch. All the stories indicated as much and it wasn’t long before Selene felt the sting of her vengeance for seducing her husband and bearing him a child. Half God, Half mortal witch—an unusual pairing that hadn’t been seen for thousands of years. When Selene had decided on the name Hermione, it was two-fold. Harmonia had been the demigod daughter of Zeus and Electra but there had been another Hermione, who had been the daughter of Helen of Troy—who was the demigod daughter of Zeus and Leda, the Queen of Sparta. Selene, had thought the name quite fitting indeed.

So Selene had left Hermione with her squib cousin, knowing that her life would eventually be taken in retribution for her perfidy in seducing the Ruler of the Gods—at least that was how Hera had seen it. The magical blood sacrifice given on the night of Samhain in 1989 which amongst other things, secured a debt from Hades (whom had come to the witch some years prior with a promise and a quest) and as such, Hermione’s safety from Hera’s retribution was assured through her Mother’s sacrifice until her quest was completed.

Selene had made arrangements to send all documents of Hermione’s birth and her heritage to her family in America, explaining Hermione’s origins and pleading with them to watch out for her daughter once her identity became known within the Magical World. Selene knew that Hogwarts would be the school for Hermione to attend, as it was highly likely that Harry Potter would also be there. It wasn’t a coincidence that her daughter had been born at this particular place and time. Magic had a way of maintaining balance and the Gods had their own agendas. Hermione’s birth was more than just fortuitous, it was essential to the will of the Gods, Magic and Fate.

Yes, Selene Dagworth-Granger had done all she could to prepare her daughter for the task to come and she hadn’t regretted a single decision, nor moment. She’d loved Zeus with everything she was and had transferred that devotion to their daughter after her birth. Selene knew her Hermione was destined for greatness—for it had been written in the stars, and if there was one thing Selene believed passionately in? It was the magic of Divination.

How ironic it was then, that Hermione Granger absolutely detested Divination and thought it was a wooly subject regardless of all she’d seen and lived through. As she stood outside the castle, staring off into the sunset she couldn’t help but remember the words from her mother so many years ago—the story of how she’d met Zeus and fallen in love. Of how her mother had made a deal with Hades and a covenant of protection for Hermione. How proud Selene was of her daughter and how much she’d loved her and had sacrificed her very life so Hermione could have the best chance to succeed in her quest to help Harry defeat Voldemort.

“You’re very far away right now.” A voice spoke up from behind her causing Hermione to smile as she glanced over her shoulder at deep blue eyes that were watching her with amused affection.

“I suppose I am...or was.” Hermione stated and turned back to watch the sun as it moved down towards its final descent into twilight.

“I honestly wasn’t sure I’d ever see you again.” Percy admitted as he moved to stand next to his cousin, whom he’d only spent a single summer with at Camp Half-Blood two years ago, when she’d returned from some magical battle scarred and near death. Thankfully, the magic of the Gods was enough to heal her from her grievous wounds, and the two cousins had spent the summer getting to know each other and learning from each other.

“A lot has happened to both of us these last two years.” Hermione turned towards her cousin and saw his face drop. “Luke didn’t come with you.”

Percy sighed as he rubbed his hands down his face in anguish. “Luke’s gone, Mi. I wanted to be the one to tell you personally.”

Hermione’s face paled in shock as tears welled in her eyes. “How?”

“You remember the prophecy, yes?” When Hermione nodded in disgust, Percy continued on. “Kronos happened. Luke took a dip in the Styx and Kronos took over his body, but before he could rise again, Luke had a change of heart. He sacrificed himself to destroy Kronos and is now resting in Elysium. He died a hero Mi.”

Hermione shook her head in anger. “How could Luke have been so foolish? He promised me that he was over all that nonsense—his anger at his Father. Was it all a lie?”

Percy shrugged. “Don’t know, although I’m sure Annabeth could tell you more, but it’s hard for her to talk about it too. She misses the friend she knew and I know that you and Luke...well...”

“We’d never really discussed particulars, because of my quest and everything. But I had thought perhaps once I was done, that he and I could figure it out.”

Percy moved up and placed an arm around his cousin’s shoulder. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry Mi. Luke made the right choice in the end.”

Amber eyes turned to blue-green ones and Hermione asked one final question. “Did he even ask for me in the end?”

“Luke’s final words were more of a promise that no other half-blood would feel abandoned by their Godly parents. I extracted a promise from your Father, which he wasn’t exactly happy with, but did see the wisdom of in the end.”

Hermione nodded in understanding. “That’s good then.”

“Yes it is.”

“You know, I’ve never felt abandoned by my Father Percy. I know he’s looked out for me the best he could. He talks to me sometimes in my mind, when I’m quiet. I can hear him speaking to me. I was magically tortured during our war and he came to me. Protected my mind and body when I couldn’t go on anymore. I know he loves me as much as he is able to.”

Percy’s face fell and he grabbed his cousin into his embrace. “I’m sorry you had to suffer through that Mi but it’s over now and you’re safe and maybe you might come home for a bit this summer? Back to camp?”

Hermione smiled and nodded. “Maybe? I need to help here at Hogwarts though, before that can happen. Do you think everyone might be okay staying and pitching in?”

“I think that can be arranged. I don’t think Annabeth is going to leave without you, so yeah. We can stay and help.”

“Thanks cousin.”

“Anytime.”

As they walked back to the castle, Hermione noticed several Aurors moving into the ruins of the castle and after a few minutes—Lucius, Narcissa and Draco Malfoy were being escorted out into the courtyard.

“Excuse me for a moment Percy, I’ll be right back.”

Percy nodded and stood his ground as he watched his cousin move towards a small group of wizards and witches who didn’t look very happy.

When Draco saw Granger walking towards he and his parents, he couldn’t help but look behind her and noticed the young man who had gotten off the Black Pegasus standing like a sentry behind her. From the whispers within the Great Hall, the young man’s name was Percy Jackson and he was the son of Poseidon. It would seem that somehow he and Granger were rather close, which Draco thought odd since most of the demigods in question clearly had American accents.

“Auror?” Hermione moved over to address the Auror who appeared to be in charge.

“Dawlish, Miss Granger. How can I help you?”

Hermione ignored the stares from the Malfoy family as she kept her gaze focused on the tall man with kind blue eyes. “I was just wondering where you will be taking the Malfoy family?”

Lucius’ gaze narrowed at the young woman, but Narcissa and Draco just appeared a bit bemused by the question.

“We have been ordered by Head Auror Robards to remain the Malfoy family into custody at Azkaban until such time as the trials commence.”

Hermione sighed and inquired further, “And does the Head Auror have any idea how long it might be until the trials are set?”

“No Miss Granger, it could be months before that happens.”

“I see.” Hermione did then make eye contact with Narcissa Malfoy and could see the witch looking at her with interest. “You saved Harry’s life and as much as I abhor the fact that you all watched me being tortured, I can’t disregard the fact that if it hadn’t been for your timely lie we might not be here right now.”

Narcissa bowed her head in acknowledgment of the reprimand and Draco noticed the young man, Percy...whom was standing behind Granger becoming agitated. His hands were flexing and the ground was starting to shake.

Hermione looked down in shock and then turned to her cousin. “Percy, stop it! I’m fine and I would appreciate it if you didn’t destroy anymore of my school by causing an earthquake in your anger!”

Percy’s blue eyes settled on her’s as he breathed through his nose, but suddenly Annabeth appeared and grabbed her boyfriend, giving her best friend a questioning look.

“Do I want to know what has set Seaweed Brain off?”

Hermione chuckled at Annabeth’s loving nickname for Percy. “Take him for a walk to the lake please and let him take out his frustration there before he destroys something.”

Percy’s eyes locked with his cousin’s in warning and it was then he noticed the red scar bisecting her throat. Moving forward, he lifted his finger....which was shaking a bit and touched the mark before his eyes locked with Hermione’s again.

“Do you have others Mi?”

“Scars?” Hermione guessed and Percy nodded. “Yes. A lovely gift from a deranged witch who is dead. She cursed me with Dark magic.”

“Why haven’t you healed yourself?”

Hermione could hear the sharp intakes of breath from behind her as she eyed her cousin warily. She was about to speak when Lucius Malfoy interrupted.

“Dark Magic cannot be healed.”

Percy’s gaze locked onto the older wizard and Lucius flinched at the raw power he saw emanating from the young demigod.

“That’s where you are wrong.” Percy spoke out angrily as he held his hand out towards the lake. Several sets of eyes widened as they saw a stream of water flow up into the air and then move towards the two demigods. Annabeth stood back as Percy grabbed his cousin’s hand and allowed the water to move through him to Hermione—watching as the red scar around her neck faded from existence, while he barely registered the shocked gasps of those around him.

When he was done, and they both were dried as before Hermione lifted the sleeve of her shirt on her right arm and smiled as she saw the pristine, unblemished skin that was healed. Tears glistened in her eyes as she bestowed a radiant smile upon her cousin.

“Thank you Percy.”

Percy nodded once and gave the Magical’s one last look before moving away with Annabeth.

“That’s not possible.” Lucius whispered out in awe as he stared down at Hermione’s arm.

“For a magical yes. For a demigod child of one of the Big Three...no.” Hermione’s gaze hardened momentarily as her eyes lit up with lightening and thunder rolled throughout the heavens. “You would do well to remember that, Mr. Malfoy.”

Chapter Text

The group from Camp Half-Blood was more than willing to stay and help with the re-building effort, which Hermione was grateful for. She’d missed her friend’s and family from Camp Half-Blood and there were several times over the past year she’d wondered if she’d ever see them again.

Annabeth remained close at her side, and the two friends spent the better part of the late spring chatting about the past two years. When the subject came up about Luke, Annabeth seemed more saddened than anything about the loss of her friend.

“I don’t think I’d realized until it was too late just how angry Luke had been at his Father, at all the Gods. It wasn’t just him, you know. Many of those from Camp followed him. I think it all started when we were kids, trying to find our way to Camp. Luke had met a girl name Thalia during his time on the run.”

“I knew about Thalia, Luke told me about her,” Hermione admitted softly, “she was a Daughter of Zeus and had been killed by a cyclops just outside of Camp Half Blood.”

Annabeth sighed softly and nodded. “Luke probably never mentioned to you that I was with them that day. They had found me during their travels and took me with them. I was so traumatized by what happened I could never speak of it.”

Hermione’s eyes widened in shock. “No, he’d never mentioned that you had been there.”

“No, Luke was loyal in that way at least. Thalia had been turned into a tree, the tree that powered the protective barrier around Camp Half-Blood. Luke poisoned the tree after you’d left, and during a quest while you were here in Hogwarts your sixth year we found the Golden Fleece of Legend. It cured the tree and freed Thalia.”

Hermione’s eyes widened even more as she sat down on the stone wall where she and Annabeth were working, staring at her friend. “She’s alive?”

“She is. She is currently with the Hunters and she’s second in command.”

“I met the Goddess once, years ago. Her second was a woman called Zoe Nightshade. I assume she perished in battle?”

“She did, in the defeat of her Father, Atlas.”

Hermione nodded and stared out into the sky. She had a sister out there somewhere, a half-sister but still...a sister who had bound herself to serve the Virgin goddess Artemis for eternity. Swearing off mortal love and men to serve the Goddess of the Hunt. It was the way of a true warrior and Hermione had to admit, she was impressed.

“Does Thalia know about me?”

Annabeth nodded. “She does. Luke told her, taunted her with it actually. I don’t think she believed him at first. Thalia was revived a few months after you’d left Camp after you were injured. Chiron confirmed it for her as did Artemis. I don’t know how she feels about the whole thing though. We didn’t talk much before she left.”

“I’m sorry about that, I can’t imagine what that must’ve been like for her,” Hermione said sadly, “and I am so confused about Luke. How could he have been so cruel?”

“I think he was possessed by Kronos at that point Mi and honestly, Luke wasn’t the same after he’d disappeared. The few times I saw him he was so angry and resentful of everything. It wasn’t until he’d sacrificed himself that I saw my friend again. He was truly remorseful, but still wanted to make sure that all the children of the Gods were acknowledged and take care of properly. His methods may have been wrong, but his reasoning was sound. Luke had always seen himself as the protector of Camp Half Blood and until Percy came along, no one ever questioned that. He was always the best warrior, the best strategizer—the bravest of us all.”

Hermione nodded as she moved off the stone wall and went to grab some water. It was late May and the day was unseasonably warm. She had spent most of her time between Grimmauld Place and Hogwarts, refraining from reading the Prophet and the endless speculation about her heritage.

Percy, Annabeth, Clarisse, Connor, Travis and Nico had all stayed to help. They’d camped out at Harry’s and Hogwarts and followed Hermione around asking endless questions about her life at school. Harry and Ron had made it their business to share just about everything with them. When they got to the story about the break in at Gringotts and the Dragon. The looks of astonishment, envy, amusement and awe were pretty hilarious.

But it was when Hermione and her friends had learned about the quests that Percy and his friends had been on, the looks of shock were palpable. Whilst everyone knew the basics of Mythology at Hogwarts, hearing the particulars of the Titan Wars and how that had affected everyone was telling. Harry had shaken his head in wonder and Ron had just stared at Percy with his mouth hanging open.

“Do you think it was a coincidence that both wars were fought concurrently?” Hermione thoughts were drawn back to the present as she mused to her friend, and saw Annabeth’s face pale in understanding.

“Probably not Mi. Magic and the Gods have been intertwined since the beginning of time. I don’t think it was a coincidence at all. Just as I don’t think it was a coincidence that your Father had two daughters in both fights. One for the Gods and one for Magic.”

“Percy was the true hero of your quest, just as Harry was mine.”

“They were, but everyone had a part to play,” Annabeth admitted, “and the Oracle prophecy had always been about Percy. I think I knew it the moment I met him. Just as Harry had his own prophecy and destiny to fulfill. You still think Divination is rubbish?”

Hermione grinned widely at her friend. “More than ever!”

Both girls laughed loudly, so they didn’t immediately notice Percy and Harry walking towards them with huge smiles upon their faces.

“What’s so funny?” Percy inquired as he wrapped an arm around his girlfriend.

“Girl talk,” Annabeth gave him smile before she went on, “I was telling Mi about Thalia.”

Percy swallowed and nodded in understanding before giving his cousin a wary look.

“It’s alright Percy, I knew a bit about Thalia from Luke, but I didn’t know she was alive. Annabeth told me that Luke shared my existence with her. Perhaps at some point she will want to meet me but I’m assuming since she’s with the Hunter’s that the likelihood will be minimal.”

Percy rubbed a hand on the back of his head. “I don’t know honestly. Thalia and I aren’t that close, and despite what you might think I didn’t get the sense she wasn’t unhappy to learn about you.”

“Who’s Thalia?” Harry asked curiously.

“Apparently she’s my sister...well, half-sister. She must be a bit younger than me?”

Percy nodded. “I’d say about a year.”

Harry just stared at everyone before he shook his head and spoke. “A sister, another daughter of Zeus?”

Hermione nodded. “Yes, but without magic, her mother wasn’t a witch as far as I know.”

“No, she wasn’t,” Annabeth confirmed, “Thalia was gravely injured when we were children and because of her sacrifice to save Luke and myself, Zeus turned her into a tree. It served as the magical barrier for Camp Half-Blood so monsters couldn’t enter. She was revived almost two years ago. It’s a long story but she’s with the Hunter’s of Artemis now. Took the vow to follow the Goddess.”

“I know a bit about Greek Mythology. The Hunter’s? They are immortal, right?”

Percy nodded. “They can die in battle, but yes for all intents Thalia will live a very long time.”

“That’s incredible,” Harry breathed out in awe as his eyes caught his best friend’s, “I think we’ve dealt enough with immortality for awhile, wouldn’t you say so, Hermione?”

“Definitely Harry.” Looking out towards the grounds, Hermione noticed the sun was starting to go down. “We should probably head back to Grimmauld and get dinner ready.”

“I think Kreacher is taking care of it.”

Hermione glared momentarily before sighing in defeat. Since her godly identity had been outed, Kreacher was very keen to help take care of Hermione in any way he could. It extended to her Camp Half-Blood brethren and sisters as well. They all seemed to find the House Elf rather amusing.

Turning behind her, Hermione noticed Kingsley walking towards them with McGonagall and a couple people she didn’t recognize.

Harry, picking up on where Hermione’s attention had gone, turned around and narrowed his eyes suspiciously at the man and woman with Minister of Magic.

“Who do you think they are?” Harry asked and Hermione just shrugged.

“Don’t know, but they’re headed our way.”

Harry sighed in resignation. “You don’t think they’re more reporters, do you? I’ve had enough of that bullocks for one lifetime.”

Hermione gave her friend the side-eye and smirked sarcastically. “You and me both, Harry.”

“Harry, Hermione it is good to see you both.” Kingsley offered kindly as he made his way over and shook both their hands before gesturing to the older couple behind him and motioned for them to come forward. The Minister then turned to Hermione before he spoke again.

“Hermione, I was contacted by this couple who claim to be your kin. Apparently your mother Selene sent word to your family in America about your existence before she died. I know you’ll probably have many questions but I’d thought it might be better for you to discuss it with them directly.”

Hermione’s eyes widened as she considered the man and woman across from her. The couple looked to be in their early fifties and were well dressed, exuded wealth and class. The man had her mothers coloring and eyes while the woman was much darker in appearance and had bright violet eyes.

The gentleman bowed his head and cleared his throat nervously before he spoke. “Miss Granger, it is an honor to finally meet you. I’m Hector Dagworth-Granger and this is my wife Melinda. When we got word that the war here was finally over and your heritage revealed, we knew it was finally time to come and introduce ourselves.”

Staring stunned at the couple, Hermione didn’t know what to say. Harry, who could sense his friend’s shock as she just stood rooted to her spot, decided to step in.

“Hermione, you okay?”

Hermione’s amber eyes caught the worried green one’s of Harry’s, as he took her hand and squeezed it in reassurance. Shaking her head slightly, she turned her focus back on the couple.

“I’m sorry, this is quite unexpected. I do remember my mother mentioning that we had family in the States, but I don’t think I’d ever really given it much thought.”

Hector smiled warmly as he took in the little witch who was related to him—a cousin. “We are cousins, several times removed I believe. My Great-Grandfather was your Mother’s Great-great Uncle. The family split around 100 years ago, when my ancestor moved to the America’s. He was the wizard I was named for.”

Hermione nodded. “The famous potioneer.”

“Yes.” Hector agreed readily. “It was because of the letter your mother sent to us that I found Chiron and had him come to you before you’d started Hogwarts. Your mother asked us to watch out for you in as much as we could.”

“I had always wondered how Chiron found me, he’d never spoken of it.”

“I’m sorry we couldn’t make ourselves known sooner, but we didn’t know if you were aware of your magical heritage or not.”

“I’m sure you know how complicated this has all been for me?”

Hector nodded in return. “We can only imagine, but if you’re willing we would love to get the chance to know you and to introduce you to your family across the pond when you’re ready to meet them. We’ve all waited a long time to get to know you.”

“That’s very kind of you. Are you staying close by?”

“The Dagworth-Granger Family does have a Manor in Wiltshire, which is where we will be staying for the foreseeable future. Melinda and I would be happy to host you at anytime should you need anything. If you’re planning on remaining in England, the Manor would be yours and I’d think you’d find it quite to your liking?”

Hermione’s face paled and her eyes widened in shock. “A family Manor?”

“Yes. Our family was originally part of the Sacred 28 at one time, before the family split. When my ancestor went to America, yours left to France and the Manor was left empty. Since Wizarding custom is such that the eldest son inherits, my Great-Grandfather inherited the family seat but chose not to remain here. I’m unsure as to the why, but it matters little now. It’s yours, should you wish it.”

Hermione’s breath stuttered and her hands shook with adrenaline. Harry, seeing her discomfort, put a reassuring arm around his friend’s shoulders. “Thats very generous of you.” Harry said kindly, as Hermione slumped into his side.

“It’s the least we can do,” Hector admitted, “after everything Hermione has gone through she deserves to know her family again. In whatever capacity she wishes it.”

“Thank you.” Hermione said softly and Hector smiled fondly at the little witch.

“You’re more than welcome Hermione. We will leave you for now, but please call on us before we leave back to the States.”

“I will.”

“Good.” Hector nodded and then followed the Minister and McGonagall back into the castle.

Harry, who was still holding his best friend, asked in concern, “You alright with all this?”

“I don’t know Harry, it’s just a lot to deal with right now.”

Harry nodded and pulled Hermione over to her friends and cousin, deciding that for at least tonight, they could table the life altering decisions for another time.

Chapter Text

Several weeks had gone by in the rebuilding of Hogwarts and with the help of the demigods from Camp Half-Blood, things were moving at a much faster pace than normal. Now that Hermione’s powers were unbound, it made things far easier for her where her magic was concerned and Harry had commented on it a time or twelve that if she had been this powerful during the fight with Voldemort, they might have won the war a lot sooner.

Hermione had just laughed at her friend, who was partly joking but partly serious as well. She had often wondered why her godly powers had been bound, but assumed it was because she wasn’t fighting Titans or monsters just really evil wizard’s and witches who only had magic. But it was a question she’d never bothered to ask. Besides, whom exactly could she have asked? The two times she had faced death, it was due to her heritage as a demigod that she’d been spared. After the battle within the Department of Mysteries, Dumbledore had portkeyed her directly to Camp Half-Blood at Chiron’s insistence. The Nectar and Ambrosia as well as healing salves had helped, as had the potions she’d taken. Her body had recovered rather quickly being at Camp, where she could access the powers of the Gods, even if she was bound from utilizing hers.

When she’d been tortured by Bellatrix, there was a moment where her body had nearly given out from the stress of the cruciatis. But in that moment, her Father had come to her and protected her when she couldn’t protect herself. The warmth that had spread through her body during those moments had strengthened her resolve, enough to fight through the pain and lie. The last words her Father had spoken into her mind, were of his pride in her strength and courage—telling her to not give up as she was his child and greatness awaited her if she could only survive through her quest.

Hermione had known irrevocably in that moment that her Father loved her and cared about her well being. For all her doubts as a child, wondering if Zeus would ever acknowledge her? The moment the vow had been lifted and the Moirai had released her—her Father had done just that in the only way available to him. She may never be able to set eyes on her Father, he might never allow it but it didn’t mean he didn’t care for her and wasn’t proud of her.

Her Mother had shared some things in a letter that Chiron had given her before she’d entered Hogwarts, but there were still so many unanswered questions. Questions Hermione wasn’t sure would ever be answered properly. It irked her greatly to have knowledge withheld. She was a book worm after all. A know-it-all swot. But she couldn’t help but wonder how much truth was being held back from her after all this time.

Harry had spoken with her at length about his desire to testify for Draco and Narcissa Malfoy. He had shown her the memories that Snape had given him prior to the Potion Master’s death, and whist she couldn’t understand everything, her anger at Dumbledore and his penchant for manipulating those around him was definitely something she felt deeply. It made her wonder what else Dumbledore knew about and allowed to happen under his watch.

As it did often these past few weeks, Hermione’s thoughts drifted to Luke and what Annabeth had told her. Luke Castellan had been complicated, but she had thought he was a good person who was just angry at his Father Hermes for abandoning him. Many of the demigod children in Camp had never met their Godly parents and that thought had saddened her, even if she understood it. The Gods didn’t tend to bother themselves with mortals in general, but every so often when things would tip the balance of good and evil and the Gods would act—through their children. It had been that way since the beginning of time and Hermione had been initially surprised that there hadn’t been any children of the Big Three other than she, Percy, Nico and Bianca.

Hermione had learned about Nico’s sister Bianca’s death in the Junkyard of the Gods, destroying a prototype of Talos, a giant deadly automaton made entirely of bronze. She had never met Bianca, who had joined the Hunter’s of Artemis before her death. It would seem in the time she’d been gone from Camp before sixth year began until now, many things had happened.

She had met Nico at Camp the same summer she’d met Percy. Nico had always been rather quiet and introverted. He seemed more comfortable in his skin now, and had developed a rather surprising relationship with his Godly Father Hades. It was helpful to be able to travel to the Underworld at will, and Nico’s powers of raising the dead as well as commanding them, were rather impressive.

Percy could summon water at will, use it to heal in virtually any circumstance as well as summon earthquakes and speak telepathically to horses. His powers were increased exponentially in salt water versus fresh water, but he was powerful in both spheres.

Hermione didn’t know exactly what powers Thalia possessed prior to becoming a Hunter, but according to Percy she was afraid of heights which Hermione thought amusing. When her powers were bound, Hermione had been deathly afraid of heights as a consequence, but now that her powers were unbound, miraculously that fear had abated completely. As the daughter of Zeus, Hermione could command the powers of the sky: Thunder, lightening, rain, wind and generate storms at will. She held dominion over all the creatures of the sky and could telepathically speak with owls, eagles, Hippogriffs, even Dragons. Of all the elements, wind was the most unpredictable and the most difficult to control, but she was getting better at it.

It had been a challenge to suddenly have all her powers restored and for the first week, Hermione had been a jumbled mess as a few accidental bursts of magic had occurred. The worst being when she and Ron had gotten into an argument over Hermione wanting to return to finish her studies, and she’d nearly electrocuted him when a bolt of lightening came down and hit the ground right next to where he was standing. He had left Hogwarts in a huff and hadn’t returned since. Fred’s memorial service was in a week, so Hermione hoped Ron would be in better spirits before then.

Harry had just laughed at the shocked outrage on Ron’s face and told him it was his own fault. Hermione’s family from Camp Half-Blood had just smiled en masse and said nothing, not feeling sorry for the red-headed wizard in the least. Even Annabeth, who was normally fairly level-headed, had shaken her head and made a comment about how stupid boys could be...earning a ‘hey!’ from both Percy and Harry.

Hermione had taken the time to meet with her magical family at the Dagworth-Granger Manor in Wiltshire which ironically, was not far from Malfoy Manor. Hector and Melinda had both been very welcoming, sharing their family’s history. It wasn’t surprising the the main branch of the Dagworth-Granger’s had amassed considerable wealth from many of the potions patents the family held over the past two centuries. Hector had also given her a small stack of letters that had been correspondence from her mother Selene, some in regards to Hermione’s heritage but others were letters she had entrusted with her family for Hermione when the appropriate time had come, according to Hector.

Hermione had the letters secreted away inside her beaded bag, but she hadn’t taken to reading them just yet. When she had gone with Hector and Melinda to Diagon Alley this past week, the devastation was noticeable, but many of the shop owners were trying to do their best to bring life back to the darkness of the past couple years. Ollivanders was still closed, and that caused Hermione to sigh sadly as she noted that she would be stuck using Bellatrix’s wand for the immediate future.

Hector had noticed her look of longing as they’d passed by the wand shop, so he’d asked her about it. Seeing no reason to lie to her cousin, Hermione shared what had happened during the war and how she had lost her vinewood wand and was now relegated to using a wand that didn’t seem to work for her very well. Hector had seemed sympathetic, but oddly subdued as he promised to try and figure out a solution before Hogwarts started term again in the fall.

The Daily Prophet had been another source of irritation inasmuch as they reported almost daily on she, Harry and Ron. The never-ending speculation about the Golden Trio, her Godly Heritage (which only served to engender even more looks of awe out in public), her magical heritage as a Dagworth-Granger, whether they’d be returning to Hogwarts and finally this morning? Harry’s presence at the Malfoy trial yesterday. Hermione sat down at the breakfast table in Grimmauld Place reading the excerpts from the trial as well as testimony given, as she shook her head in astonishment. It would seem that according to the testimony, Dumbledore had been aware of Draco’s task sixth year and had allowed him to complete it due to the young wizard being under duress and fear for his Mother’s safety. Lucius Malfoy has been without a wand for nearly a year and the finer points of her torture in Malfoy Manor were, thankfully, glossed over. Hermione shook her head in disgust as she continued to read on, not hearing Harry and Percy walking into the kitchen.

“You reading about the trial?” Harry asked warily as Hermione jolted slightly, her eyes meeting his momentarily before she sighed and nodded.

“I was,” she admitted angrily, “I can’t believe that Dumbledore knew about Malfoy’s task? Why didn’t he do something to stop it?”

Harry sighed and sat down across from his best friend while Percy just stood in the doorway with his arms folded across his chest, quietly observing.

“Hermione, you know my thoughts on Dumbledore. I revered the man but his motivations were questionable. I truly think he tried to plan for every contingency but that being said, I think it was more due to the fact he didn’t want Narcissa Malfoy killed. I’m sure Snape had something to do with that as well. I do believe he knew about Draco’s task, but based on what I’d overheard outside of Slughorn’s Christmas Party plus viewing Snape’s memories, I don’t think Draco necessarily trusted in Snape to protect himself nor his mum. Lucius, Narcissa and Draco were all required to submit memories during their trial and Kingsley was kind enough to allow me to view them once the Wizengamot saw them. As much as I’m not a fan of the Malfoy’s, it’s clear they care deeply for each other and everything Draco did sixth year was to protect his mother. He didn’t want to complete his task, in fact he was convinced he’d die in the attempt and was oddly okay with it if it meant his mother surviving.”

Hermione’s face fell as she stared off in thought, before asking the one question she had been curious about. “Did any of the memories of that night...” her voice trailed off awkwardly and Harry sighed but nodded once. “Who’s memories did they view?” Hermione asked quietly.

“Narcissa Malfoy’s.”

“And?”

“Are you sure you want to know this?”

Hermione nodded so Harry went on while Percy just listened stoically, not saying anything.

“The memories of that night were telling in many ways,” Harry admitted in resignation, “Narcissa knew it was us when we were brought in by the Snatchers, but as you know she didn’t seem to indicate she knew us. She did this on purpose. When Bellatrix demanded that Draco be brought in to identify us? Apparently she was able to convey to Draco to not identify us either, she tapped him on the shoulder three times to get his attention. Then you know what happened after. With Lucius not having a wand and clearly out of Voldemort’s favor, both Draco and Narcissa feared he’d be killed and Lucius of course, was desperate to regain standing for his family but only as a means to protect them. I’m not making excuses for them Hermione, but it was fairly clear that the Malfoy’s were all pretty disillusioned with Voldemort and had been for some time.”

“Do you think your testimony made a difference?”

“Probably, at least for Narcissa and Draco. Lucius, I’m not sure what is going to happen there. The Malfoy’s still have some sway, but not much. I’d imagine things are going to be very difficult for them going forward.”

Hermione sighed as she eyed her cousin who was staring at her thoughtfully before he spoke. “You feel sorry for them even after what happened, don’t you?”

“I don’t know what to feel Percy,” Hermione admitted sadly, “it’s true that Draco and I have never gotten along. He openly taunted me as a child up until sixth year. I’m not sure it matters what his motivations were considering all that’s happened but I can’t judge him because I wasn’t in his shoes. I didn’t live with Voldemort threatening my mother and living in my home. My path was fairly clear from the beginning and even though I’m not a Muggle-born technically, I identify with that part of my upbringing passionately. I suppose, I feel sorry for Draco in a way. To have parents who failed to protect him and sacrificed his childhood so they could be spared their bad choices. It doesn’t excuse what a prat he was, but to my knowledge he’s never killed anyone. Right Harry?”

Harry’s nodded reluctantly. “No he didn’t, which is commendable considering what the Death Eaters were charged to do. Apparently that wasn’t the case for some of the other seventh year Slytherin’s who weren’t even marked.”

“Such as?”

“Crabbe, who’s dead. Millicent Bulstrode and Greg Goyle as well.”

Hermione nodded. “When will the Wizengamot deliver their verdict?”

“Probably by the end of the week if not sooner, why?”

“She’s going to offer testimony, aren’t you Mi?” Percy said sharply and noticed immediately his cousin’s face blush in embarrassment.

“I don’t expect you to understand Percy. Regardless of what I may personally feel, it wouldn’t sit right if I didn’t at least speak up and say my piece. Draco Malfoy is a pontificated prat, but even I can see he doesn’t deserve to rot in Azkaban for what happened to him, neither does Narcissa.”

“And Lucius?” Harry queried softly.

“He deserves Azkaban and then some.” Hermione’s voice hardened noticeably. “He gave Ginny a cursed diary, was responsible for Sirius getting killed. He needs to offer restitution in some meaningful way, and I’m not talking about galleons.”

“What did you have in mind cousin?” Percy smirked knowingly.

Hermione grinned evilly, “I’m sure I could think up a punishment or two.”

All three were laughing when Annabeth and Clarisse came down into the kitchen.

“What’s for breakfast?” Clarisse groused our grumpily as she sat down next to Hermione. “I’m starving.”

“You’re always hungry,” Hermione bit back good-naturedly, “What do you want to eat?”

“Pancakes,” Clarisse said firmly, “with strawberries.”

At that moment Kreacher popped into the room. “Kreacher woulds be happies to makes pancakes fors Miss Clarisse...”

“You’re the best Kreacher!” Clarisse smiled happily while Hermione just gave her the stink eye causing her to shrug in feigned embarrassment. “What did I do?”

“You have him wrapped around your finger La Rue. How did that happen?”

“I’m just likeable.” Clarisse winked, causing Percy to snort out in disagreement which made Clarisse glare openly at him in hostility. “Back off Jackson! Don’t get me started on all the things that irritate me about you!”

“Why did we invite her along again?” Percy asked Annabeth, who was sitting next to Harry and looking through the magical paper with interest. “She could’ve stayed back at Camp with Chris Rodriguez. Why didn’t you again?” Percy taunted and Clarisse stood up angrily.

“Stay out of it Jackson. No one asked for your opinion!”

“Yet I’m going to give it anyway.” Percy smirked and Hermione just rolled her eyes.

“I see not much has changed since I saw you both last. Can’t you two just get along? We’ve had a pleasant few weeks and you two haven’t argued once. It’s been refreshing, hasn’t it Annabeth?”

“I stay out it it actually.” Annabeth admitted with a wink.

“Chicken.” Hermione grinned playfully and Annabeth stuck out her tongue in return.

Hermione then gave Clarisse a questioning look. “Chris Rodriguez? Wasn’t he a friend of Luke’s?”

Clarisse sighed and nodded once. “Yes, he followed Luke from Camp and was with him for a while, until he got trapped in the Labyrinth and was driven into insanity by Minos. I tired to nurse him back to health, but in the end Dionysus healed him. We’ve grown closer since the battle of Olympus in New York. He’s also a Son of Hermes, his Father finally claimed him.”

“I see,” Hermione commented quietly as she hung her head, “I’m sorry that happened to him.”

“Thanks,” Clarisse said kindly. “But you really shouldn’t own what happened to Luke, Mi. It’s not like any of that is your fault. He was angry, heck a lot of the kids were angry about their Godly parents not claiming them, but they didn’t have to choose to follow Kronos.”

“I know, but it’s still hard. I never even got to say goodbye.”

“Would it make it easier if you did?” Percy asked with feeling. “I mean, I’m sure Nico could try and see what he could do?”

Hermione shook her head emphatically. “No, I couldn’t ask Nico to do that. It wouldn’t be fair to him. Besides, I’m sure our Uncle has specific rules against that sort of thing.”

“Yeah, come to think of it, the last time I went down to the Underworld things got a bit complicated, so I’m unsure how our Uncle would feel about anyone else taking a trip into his home.”

Hermione gave her cousin a surprised look. “What exactly did you do?”

“It’s complicated Mi, but suffice it to say that in order to defeat Kronos I had to take a little dip in the Styx.”

“You did what?!?” Hermione screeched as Harry covered his ears and everyone looked upwards as thunder shook the foundations of the house.

“Uhm....Hermione? You might want to calm down.” Harry said warily as he stared at his best friend, who’s eyes were glowing like lightening.

Hermione took several calming breaths as she openly glared at Percy. “You took a dip in the Styx? Are you mental Percy? You could’ve been killed?”

“But I wasn’t now, was I? Besides, I think you’re just jealous that I’m invulnerable and could easily best you in a fight now.”

Hermione tilted her head and sent a wandless stunner at her cousin, knocking him down on his arse which caused everyone to laugh and Percy to glower unhappily.

“Using Magic is cheating Mi.”

“No it’s not, I can use whatever means I have at my disposal.”

“Humph!” Percy grumbled as he stood up and rubbed his sore behind, that he’d fallen on quite unceremoniously.

“Don’t pick fights, Seaweed Brain. At least not in enclosed spaces.” Annabeth mocked.

Percy grinned and moved over to his girlfriend, giving her a kiss on the top of her head. “Yes dear.”

The groans of disgust from Hermione and Clarisse were telling as was the eye roll from Harry. “You two are disgustingly disgusting.” Clarisse said, as she made a gagging motion with her finger down her throat.

Just then Kreacher popped back with a breakfast of pancakes, rashers, strawberries and tea. Everyone sat down and dug in and conversation was put on hold for a few moments. Connor and Travis entered soon after they’d started eating and when everyone had their fill, Kreacher cleaned up the mess instantly.

“Gotta love those House Elves!” Clarisse crowed, with a wicked smile.

“I’m not rising to the bait today, La Rue.” Hermione just shook her head in exasperation. “We need to get back to Hogwarts to help finish cleaning up the library. I promised Professor McGonagall we’d get it done by weeks end.”

“You and your books.” Harry smiled fondly at his best friend.

“Don’t complain Harry, maybe if you come back to Hogwarts you could finally have a normal year and actually learn something.”

Harry stuck his tongue out playfully causing Hermione to giggle. “I just need to send an owl to Kingsley before we head back to Hogwarts.”

As Hermione stood up and headed up to the owlry in the attic, Harry gave his friend a concerned look. “You’re sure you really want to do this?”

Sighing in resignation, Hermione nodded. “I need to do it Harry. After all, it’s the right thing to do...isn’t it?”

“I wish I could tell you differently Hermione, but I can’t.”

“Thank you for understanding Harry.”

“Don’t worry Hermione. I’ll always have your back.”

Chapter Text

Letter sent, Hermione and her posse left Grimmauld Place and Floo’d directly to the newly appointed Headmistress’ office. Hermione had made a point to request of Minerva that the portrait of Professor Dumbledore be elsewhere when she came through and as such, his portrait was vacant except for a single chair.

Hermione frankly didn’t care where he’d gone off to, but she knew at some point a face to face conversation would be needed if she was to let go of the anger she held for her former Headmaster. If she had that conversation now however, she just might send a lightening bolt through the portrait...incinerating it instantly. She smirked momentarily at the thought as they all headed down to the Library for the day.

When they got to their destination, Madam Pince had them split up into several groups. Percy went with Harry, Clarisse went with Neville who had been waiting for them along with Hannah Abbott and Susan Bones. Hannah took Connor and Susan grabbed Travis, so that just left Annabeth with Hermione.

Once they got to their designated spot for the day, Annabeth asked the question she’d been curious about all morning.

“Tell me more about Draco Malfoy?”

Hermione tensed, not answering immediately before she sighed and said, “What do you want to know?”

Annabeth smirked knowingly. “How long have you fancied him?”

Hermione turned around and gasped in indignation, but Annabeth’s steely gaze was locked onto hers and after several moments, Hermione sighed in resignation.

“I don’t fancy the git, per say.”

“Then what is it exactly Mi? I know you and Luke shared something that summer but there was something holding you back, so what was it?”

“I told you about Ronald.”

“You did, but let’s be honest Mi. That wizard was never going to be able to keep up with you long term. He seems like a decent guy, but not really your type, right?”

Hermione shook her head then spoke, “I kissed Ronald during the battle.”

Annabeth’s eyes widened before she said, “Oh-kaaay...and how did that go?”

“Awkward...very, very awkward.”

“Why was that?”

“No chemistry.”

“None?”

Hermione rolled her eyes as she placed a book up onto the shelf and grabbed another one to check. “None. It was like I’d imagine kissing Percy would be.”

“Eww...he’s your cousin Mi!”

“Exactly.”

“That’s just wrong.” Annabeth agreed. “So no chemistry. What does this have to do with Draco Malfoy?”

“It doesn’t really,” Hermione’s admitted, “he’s hated me since first year. Called me a Mudblood, watched be being tortured...which I don’t blame him for, not really.”

“No you wouldn’t have offered to give testimony for him if you’d had. Let me see if I can take an educated guess, okay?”

Hermione smirked at her best friend and nodded. “Have at It brainiac.”

Annabeth snorted, “That’s rich coming from you. Brightest Witch of the Age.”

“Hate that name.”

“Yet it fits, so be quiet and stop distracting my psychoanalysis of your love life.”

“This isn’t my love life Chase. Get that smirk off your face before I wipe it off for you.”

“This is definitely a case of ‘Thou doth protest too much’...you know that, right?”

“Just get on with it please. I’m waiting with bated breath for you to give me your oh so wise opinion—Daughter of Athena.”

“You’re a bitch when you want to be, you know that? But whatever. I won’t be deterred even if you are more powerful than me.”

“Oh joy.”

Both girls giggled before Annabeth sobered up. “Look, we’ve spent almost every summer together since you were twelve. I think I know you pretty well and I remember how you talked about practically everybody here at school. But none of them, ever held a candle with how passionately you spoke about Draco Malfoy. Yes, you often spoke about him in anger but Mi? Come on? We both know it’s because you’d secretly harbored feelings for him. My guess is you’d wished on more than one occasion that you could share your heritage with him so he’d look at you differently. After a while it didn’t matter as I’m sure you genuinely came to...not hate him...but definitely held deep resentment towards his prejudiced views. Perhaps that was what attracted you to Luke in the first place, hmmm? He knew everything about the real you, and liked you because you didn’t have to pretend. If Draco Malfoy had known about you, the real you? How do you think he’d have treated you?”

“I was still Harry’s best friend. He’d perhaps not been so scathing about my supposed blood status, but he’d still have been a git regardless.”

“Possibly. But this was your destiny, Mi. From what you shared from the letter Chiron gave you from your mom, she made a deal with Hades for you to help Harry in his quest. You fulfilled that vow, and now have your life back. You made a difficult choice this morning not based on logic, but on your heart. There’s still that small flame of hope that somehow Draco Malfoy might see you for yourself and not the role you were bound to play.”

Hermione shook her head and sat down, staring at her friend morosely. “You make me sound pathetic.”

“Not at all Mi. You could never be pathetic but the heart wants what it wants. Children of Athena and Poseidon historically hate each other as you know. I had a hard time with that when I’d first met Percy. I so wanted to hate him, but I couldn’t. I grew to respect his power and loyalty. It’s his fatal flaw you know, and in time grew to love him deeply.”

Hermione nodded. “I’d figured. It’s Harry’s fatal flaw too.”

Annabeth grinned. “Do you know what your fatal flaw is? Did you ever figure it out?”

Hermione sighed as she scrunched her nose before nodding once. “I did.”

“And?”

“I’m too forgiving.”

Annabeth nodded and then sat down next to her friend, placing an arm around her shoulders in solidarity. “Mine is hubris—deadly pride. But also ambition. When I was in the Sea of Monsters with Percy I heard the Siren’s call and it told me what my fatal flaw was. It’s hard for me to come to terms with the fact that I need to be more humble about my talents. Always thinking I know best, have the best plans.”

“Can do anything better than anyone.” Hermione finished for her and Annabeth sighed and nodded.

“It’s a trait we share, yes?”

“Yes.” Hermione admitted.

“It’s alright to have your pride Mi. You should be proud of what you’ve accomplished and how you helped Harry save the Wizarding World. Being forgiving isn’t a bad thing, but don’t allow it to be to your detriment. Do you believe that Draco Malfoy is worthy of forgiveness?”

“I don’t know Annabeth, I’m not sure I really know what to think where he’s concerned.”

“I saw the way he looked at you before they took him and his parents away, you know.”

Hermione gave her a curious look, so Annabeth took out an old Yankees Cap and placed it on her head. It turned her invisible and Hermione gasped in wonder as Annabeth became visible again.

“Where did you get that?”

“My Mother gave it to me for my twelfth birthday.”

“That’s amazing!” Hermione breathed out in wonder. “Harry has an Invisibility Cloak that was handed down in his family.”

“It has come in useful many times over the past couple years.” Annabeth admitted as she placed the cap back into her bag. “But back to my original point. I was under the cap for a bit before Percy healed you. It’s amazing what you can observe when no one knows you’re there.”

“And just what did you observe?”

“The way the boy looked at you Mi. He’s not indifferent to you at all. Maybe it had something to do with what happened at his home, I don’t know exactly, but there was something clearly in his eyes when they were focused on you. If I had to give it a name, I’d say it was longing.”

Hermione looked shocked at her friend, who was completely serious with what she was telling her.

“That’s...Merlin! I’m going to need some time to process that.”

“Are you going to come back and finish school here?”

Hermione snorted. “Nice change of subject.”

“Maybe. Doesn’t change the question though. It’s a valid one.”

“It is and I’m leaning that way if you must know.”

Annabeth looked over the Library with interest. “Do you think that it might be possible for Percy and I to stay and attend some classes too?”

Hermione sat back stunned as she considered her friend. “Have you talked to Percy about this?”

“I have. I think he wants to stay too. Keep an eye on you. Clarisse will probably go back to Camp as well as Travis and Connor. Nico might want to stay though. He’s been talking a bit with the ghosts who keep bowing at him and calling him, ‘My Lord.’ It’s funny.”

Hermione giggled at the thought of the Hogwarts ghosts following Nico around like some kind of ghoulish fan club.

“That might be doable. I’ll talk to the Headmistress and see what she thinks.”

“Cool.”

“It would be nice to have you here.”

“I’d like to learn a bit more about Magic,” Annabeth admitted, “Demigods inherently have some magic but it’s different than being a witch or wizard. I’m not sure how that would translate into classes like Transfiguration and Charms. But Runes, Arithmancy, Divination and Potions might work.”

“It might.”

“Well, whatever your Headmistress decides is fine. I just thought I’d throw it out there.”

“Let me talk to her. I’m sure I can guilt her into saying yes. She does adore me.”

“Doesn’t everybody.”

“Not really, but you’ll see for yourself once school starts.”

“I’m looking forward to it.” Annabeth grinned and together the two friends continued on with their book sorting into the late afternoon.

Chapter Text

Draco, Narcissa and Lucius had all been remained to Azkaban to await their trial which hadn’t taken as long as they’d feared. However, being imprisoned in Azkaban for over a month wasn’t a picnic either and Draco feared for his Mother and the health of his Father whilst they awaited the verdict of their trial.

Potter had come to testify for his Mother and himself, which had shocked Draco to the core. He had stared morosely at the Boy Who Wouldn’t Die in confusion as he listened to him give testimony in regards to his Mother lying to Voldemort, thereby saving his life so he could return to the castle unharmed. Apparently Severus had given Potter memories before his untimely death, which amongst other things verified that Dumbledore knew of his mission sixth year, and that the former Headmaster had been dying due to a ill-timed curse that was fatal.

Draco couldn’t help but feel like a fucking sacrificial pawn in some twisted game of Wizards Chess. His Father had chosen to follow the Dark Lord, and by extension that burden had been placed squarely upon his shoulders when his Father had failed in his duty to the fucking Dark Lord. Only wanting to protect his Mother, Draco did what was required but he’d never wanted to kill Dumbledore despite his loathing for the wizard. The fact that Dumbledore knew of his task and allowed him to try and complete it in his desperation spoke volumes for how manipulative the man was. It made Draco feel almost sympathetic for Potter, despite the git’s heroic nature and lack of self-preservation. He really had been raised like a lamb for slaughter.

Then there was Granger. Fucking Hermione Granger. The witch who had been the bane of his Hogwarts existence even more so than Potter, but for different reasons. When he’d met her first year on the Hogwarts Express, Draco had been convinced she was a Pureblood. She held herself regally and the confidence she exuded was undeniable. Her intelligence rivaled his own and as the years progressed, Draco had been incensed that a Muggle-born could be so gifted at Magic.

He’d noticed her at the Yule Ball of course, everyone had that year. Despite the role he was bound to play he couldn’t deny how exquisite she looked that night. He tried to ignore her, turned those forbidden feelings into something else because the alternative was simply not an option...not ever. Then he had to witness her being tortured on the floor in the drawing room of his home by his fucking insane Aunt and his heart had broken. It was that moment he’d realized that everything he’d known about her had been so utterly wrong. She was brave, fierce, loyal and possessed a strength he knew he wasn’t capable of. He’d watched in horror as Bellatrix tortured her...but there was a moment when Draco was sure Granger was about to give in that a look of peace stole over her features. It was instantaneous, but he’d seen it. And somehow, she’d survived. Remarkably well considering and he’d found himself even more in awe of her, if such a thing was possible.

In the Room of Requirement, all he’d wanted was his fucking wand back! He’d had no intentions of handing Potter over to the Dark Lord. The guilt he’d felt for dragging Crabbe and Zabini into the room still haunted him. Crabbe was dead and he and Zabini survived only because of Harry Potter and his friends. The irony was not lost on him. Not at all. After everything that had happened, the only question Draco had was, how could this have turned out any other way than how it had?

There was no turning to the Order, even he knew that. Even Snape must’ve known, as his Godfather had never given him the option. Would he have taken that option if Severus had come to him?

Yes, he now knew about the unbreakable vow that his Mother had secured from his Godfather but did that prevent Severus from offering his help? Draco shook his head. The truth was that Severus had offered his help, and he’d stubbornly refused to allow it because he didn’t trust his Godfather and didn’t believe Severus would help him. But how could he have doubted his own Godfather? The man who’d killed Dumbledore, so he would be spared that choice? Looking back on it now, the signs were all there if Draco had just been willing to listen and open his eyes to the truth. But he hadn’t, and now his was sitting in Azkaban, paying the price for his shortsightedness.

Draco loved his parents, despite their shortcomings and prejudices. He just wanted his Mother to be safe and his Father out of Azkaban. He hadn’t cared initially what he’d had to do to secure that, but Draco had known the moment he’d found out about Katie Bell being cursed, that he was in way over his head. But there was simply no turning back at that point.

As he stared out the prison bars and watched as a small sliver of moonlight glinted through the narrow window and onto the stone cold floor, Draco sighed heavily. He deserved being locked away, punished for being a coward...a failure. As his mind drifted back to the morning after the final battle, he couldn’t help but smile softly at the memory of Granger as she threatened his Father...her eyes sparkling with power and electricity as the elements bent to her whim. Merlin’s Beard! She was a demigod, a daughter of Zeus himself. The most powerful of all the Gods. Reading about Mythology was so different than seeing it up close and personal. To see the power she and her two cousins wielded was simply astonishing and awe-inspiring. Even his Father had been speechless when Percy Jackson had healed Granger’s scars like they were nothing. To have that kind of power to heal Dark Magic was simply unheard of. But apparently, not impossible for a child of the...what did she call it? The Big Three?

Draco chuckled softly at that and shook his head in wonder. He always knew Granger was different, but this? This he could’ve never imagined in his wildest dreams. The girl he’d been obsessed with since first year...a demigod. An actual demigod! It was just too amazing to comprehend.

Draco didn’t know how much time had passed that night but when the first rays of sun filtered into the darkened hallway, he rubbed his tried eyes before he went to relieve himself. As he sat back down on his cot, Draco heard someone walking towards his cell. Glancing up warily, Draco noticed it was one of the guards and he was clearly heading his way.

When the spells were done and his cell unlocked, the guard came in and handed him some clothes.

“You need to get dressed Malfoy. Your family solicitor is here and it looks like the verdict has finally come in.”

The guard sneered as he moved back out of the cell, and Draco wasted no time taking off the dirty prison garb and placing his own formal robes on again. Sighing softly in pleasure at the feel of real fabric against his skin, Draco waited quietly until the guard returned a few moments later with his Mother and Father, who both looked worn and haggard. Nodding to his parents, they followed the guard to the boats and from there they were transported to the shore. Their solicitor was waiting for them with a portkey to transport them all to the Ministry of Magic.

Once there, Draco could see the press huddled in the hallway near the courtroom. As soon as they noticed himself and his parents, the flashes started in earnest. It was hard to adjust to the blinding light after living in darkness for the last month. Lucius took his Mother’s arm and Draco followed closely behind, ignoring the hateful questions being shouted at them. Dropping his Occlumency shields down, Draco made sure that his face didn’t give any idea of his inner turmoil.

When they’d reached the courtroom, Draco did a quick look around and noticed Potter sitting in the front row in newly reinstated Potter family seat. The Weasley Patriarch was there along with one of his son’s—Perry or something. It wasn’t long before the Minister walked in along with the Head Auror, Gawain Robards and another man Draco didn’t recognize.

The Minister stood up and quieted the crowd before he spoke.

“We are here on the date June 10,1998 to hear the verdict of Lord Lucius Abraxas Malfoy, Lady Narcissa Malfoy née Black and their son and Heir, Draco Lucius Malfoy. Before we call for the verdict, I have been given one last piece of testimony to offer for the accused. If the Wizengamot, Head Auror and Counsel for the Malfoy family agree, I would like to read it before a verdict is called.”

Lucius looked up to his solicitor, and the man shrugged as if he had no idea what this was all about.

“Esteemed Minister, might I inquire as to whom has taken to give the testimony in question?” Edgar Davies Esquire, the Father of Roger Davies asked.

“The testimony is offered by Hermione Jean Dagworth-Granger.”

All the Malfoy’s eyes shot up at the name that was given, but one look at their council seemed to indicate he was unsurprised by this piece of information.

“I would like a moment to confer with my clients?”

Kingsley looked to Robards, who nodded once and the Aurors came over and cast a silencing charm as well as a notice me not over the courtroom floor, giving the Malfoy family a moment to confer privately with their council.

“What is this all about Edgar? Dagworth-Granger?” Lucius asked haughtily, while Draco just rolled his eyes inwardly at how pompous his Father could sound even after a month in Azkaban.

Edgar nodded before he spoke. “It would seem that after the Final Battle, Miss Dagworth-Granger’s Family came from America to confirm that she is indeed, an Heir to the family. The ancestral Manor in Wiltshire has been given to her by her cousin, Hector Dagworth-Granger, direct Heir of the famed potioneer. Her biological mother was one Selene Dagworth-Granger—daughter of Adolphis Dagworth-Granger. Miss Granger’s mother attended Beauxbatons, and Miss Granger was born in Paris, France. The Daily Prophet has reported extensively on this over the past month as well as her Godly heritage. Her cousin Hector, has set up an inheritance for her at Gringotts, per the request of her deceased Mother.”

All three Malfoy’s sat back stunned and Draco turned to look towards Potter, who was somehow staring directly at him with a smirk plastered upon his smug face.

“Why would Miss Granger be offering testimony for any of us?” Lucius stated lowly.

“I don’t know Lord Malfoy, but perhaps it might be prudent to allow the testimony to be heard?”

Lucius looked to his wife and she gave a small nod before he turned back and acquiesced to the request.

When the charms were cancelled, Edgar Davies turned to the Wizengamot and said firmly, “We will allow the introduction of this new testimony. We however, would request the right to cross-examine the witness and call for a continuance based on the lateness of this new testimony being submitted.”

Kingsley gave Gawain a look, who then turned to Potter and the wizard nodded once.

“We will acquiesce to that stipulation, and that only.” Robards stated with a glare and the Minister nodded before he took the letter into his hands and started to read.


To the esteemed members of the Wizengamot,

I am writing this letter in the hopes of providing full transparency over the events that occurred at Malfoy Manor on March 15, 1998. Harry, Ronald and I were brought to Malfoy Manor due to the breaking of the taboo on Voldemort’s name and were subsequently caught by Snatchers who seemed to recognize us despite my attempt at rendering Harry’s face unrecognizable due to a stinging jinx.

When we arrived, Bellatrix Lestrange called for her Nephew, Draco Malfoy to come and identify us. Despite repeated attempts by his Aunt and Father to force an identification, Draco Malfoy refused to do so. At this point, the jinx had started to fade but before Voldemort could be called, Bellatrix Lestrange became agitated when she’d discovered we had the Sword of Gryffindor amongst our possessions. It was at that point Harry and Ron were taken to the dungeons and I was the one chosen to extract information from.

I lied under torture and told Bellatrix the sword was a fake. She was insistent I was lying and utilized both the cruciatis curse repeatedly and then carved a cursed blade into my flesh. If it hadn’t been for my Father coming to me and protecting me during the worst of the torture...I would in all likelihood, have perished.


The room erupted in chaos as everyone started talking at once and the press was scribbling furiously at the testimony being offered.

“Quiet!” Kingsley roared out with a sonorous charm and Draco could see Potter’s expression darken as he glared at his family angrily. This apparently was news to him.

When the room quieted, the Minister continued on.


I wish to convey to the Wizengamot and all those in attendance that despite what occurred on that fateful night, I hold no ill will toward the Malfoy family. It was evident to myself and Harry that the Malfoy family was clearly under a great deal of duress within their own home. I don’t pretend to understand the circumstances of having Voldemort as a living constant breathing presence within my home, and I don’t imagine any of us can attest to that reality. I only seek to convey that which I was personally privy to. I myself can not judge the actions of the Malfoy family because I was not placed in their shoes. Would any of us have made different choices faced with the same unbendable reality? Could we speak with absolute certainty and conviction in that regard? Is our own moral compass so resolute as to condemn a family for the sins of its Ancestral Patriarch, who’s own choices relegated and dictated his own family’s path towards darkness?

I do not have any answers this day, nor do I imagine answers will be forthcoming in the days to come. I just ask that you consider all the evidence and temper your justice with wisdom and mercy.

I thank you for your attention in this regard.

Sincerely,

Hermione Dagworth-Granger


The entire room had fallen silent after Kingsley finished the letter and Draco was left absolutely floored. Looking over at his parents, they both were completely stunned and even Potter seemed unsure of what to do. For nearly five minutes no one spoke and the only sounds that pervaded through the Wizengamot were the sounds of quills scratching against parchment as the reporters from various Wizarding publications scribbled furiously to write down everything that had been said. When the silence became almost too much, the Minister cleared his throat and spoke.

“If it pleases the Wizengamot and council, I will call for a verdict?”

Both Robards and Davies nodded and then the dreaded words that Draco had had been loathe to hear and had nightmares about for days were spoken.

“In the case of Draco Lucius Malfoy, all those who feel that Mr. Malfoy’s actions should result in immediate imprisonment within Azkaban, please show by your raised hands.”

Draco held his breath as several hands raised but clearly not enough to convict him back to Azkaban. He heaved a small sigh as he felt his mother’s hand reach for his in solidarity.

“In the case of Lady Narcissa Malfoy née Black, all those who feel that Lady Malfoy’s actions should result in immediate imprisonment within Azkaban, please show by your raised hands.”

Draco looked up and watched in wonder as there were even less hands raised for his mother.

“In the case of Lord Lucius Abraxas Malfoy, all those who feel that Lord Malfoy’s actions should result in immediate imprisonment within Azkaban, please show by your raised hands.”

This time it was a close call, but somehow his Father had managed to bribe just enough people to keep himself out of Azkaban. To his Father’s credit, he didn’t look smug or vindicated—he just sat there completely still and expression placid as the verdict was reached.

“It is the determination of the Wizengamot on this day, June 10, 1998 that all members of the Malfoy family be freed immediately from Azkaban Prison. Probationary terms and wand restrictions will be determined by the Wizengamot henceforth, and until such time, the Malfoy family will be required to return to their primary place of residence at Malfoy Manor and remain there. Other terms of the probation requirements set forth by the Wizengamot will be given to respective Malfoy council within a fortnight. Aurors, please escort the Malfoy family home. This concludes the Wizengamot session for this morning.”

Draco just sat there and stared at the retreating Minister of Magic as his mind tried to process just what happened. He was free, as were his parents. It was more than he could’ve hoped for. He felt his Mother’s hand squeeze his hand to gain his attention and together they stood and followed the Auror escort out to the floo’s while reporters snapped pictures of them. He felt several people staring at him from the gallery, but he ignored everyone as he walked stoically next to his mother with his hand firmly placed within hers.

Before they reached the floo, a cold voice stopped them by calling out for one of the Aurors to wait. When Draco turned around, he saw Harry Potter walking towards them with a scowl upon his face.

When he’d reached them, he motioned for the Aurors to give him a minute, which they did without hesitation. Bloody fucking Chosen One!

“I won’t take up much of your time as I’m sure you wish to return home and freshen up after your stay in Azkaban. However, I wanted to convey my thanks to you, Mrs. Malfoy for what you did for me. I do realize I wouldn’t be here today if not for your timely lie, however it doesn’t change what happened to my best friend in your home.”

Green eyes surveyed each Malfoy in turn before Potter turned to leave. Draco was more than surprised when his mother chose that moment to speak up.

“Please convey our deepest apologies to Miss Granger, Mr. Potter. For myself, I am truly sorry for what my sister did to her. I chose to protect my family, and even though I’m not exactly sad to see Bellatrix leave this life, she was my sister and I did love her. Even if she made it near impossible to do so.”

Harry considered Narcissa intently for a few moments before he nodded once, turning around and walking away.

After Potter left, the Aurors escorted them back to Malfoy Manor and while Draco was relieved to be out of Azkaban, the stench of darkness that pervaded through his ancestral home made him ill. He didn’t want to be reminded of what had happened to Granger, but he knew deep down...he’d never forget it or forgive himself for what he’d allowed to happen to her. The fact that she testified for himself and his parents? He just didn’t know what to do with that information yet.

Chapter Text

The date for Fred’s service had come and Hermione was busy getting ready when she heard a knock on her door. Walking over and opening it, she was surprised to see Ginny standing there, already dressed for the occasion.

“Hey Gin, how are you feeling today?”

Ginny walked into Hermione’s room and sat down on the end of the bed. “I’m getting by. I’m just worried about George, he hasn’t really said anything to anyone since Fred died. He’s just holed himself up in their old apartment above the joke shop and the only person he allows inside is Lee Jordan.”

Hermione sighed and sat down next to Ginny, placing a comforting arm around the red-headed witch. “I’m sorry. I wish I could do something.”

Ginny wiped a lone tear from her cheek as she tilted her head onto Hermione’s shoulder. “I’m sorry I haven’t been by lately. I did read the Prophet though. You testified for the Malfoy’s. Ron wasn’t happy...actually he was downright livid.”

“I figured he would be. I did talk it over with Harry. I was just surprised that Lucius Malfoy managed to finagle his way out of another stint in Azkaban, but I can’t say I’m surprised by it either.”

“Me neither,” Ginny replied morosely, “just for the record, I don’t think anyone has the right to judge you about it. You know I hate Lucius Malfoy for what he did to me first year, and I’m not a fan of Draco....but even I know what it’s like to have Tom Riddle inside my head. And that was before he became the raving lunatic he was at the end. So I suppose I can empathize somewhat, even if I’d rather not.”

“Well, it wasn’t as if the Malfoy family got away scott free,” Hermione replied, “I’d read in the Prophet that they’ll have to pay war reparations, and Lucius Malfoy had his wand privileges revoked for three years so that’s got to sting. He’s on house arrest too, as is Narcissa and Draco.”

“Yeah, but Malfoy has the option to attend Hogwarts in lieu of house arrest.”

“I read that. You don’t really think he’s going to come back, do you?”

“I don’t know,” Ginny admitted, “I don’t think I’d want to stay in the house Voldemort lived in, would you?”

“You think the memories at Hogwarts are going to be much better for him?”

Ginny shrugged. “Probably not, but from what Dad said...a few of the Slytherin’s are being forced to repeat seventh year. Parkinson, Nott, Greengrass, Zabini. Goyle and Bulstrode are still awaiting trial, but I think they’ll probably end up in Azkaban for a while.”

“Harry did mention something to me about that.”

“What about you?” Ginny asked as she lifted her head and stared at her friend. “Are you going to stay and return to Hogwarts? Or are you going to go back with your cousin to America and Camp Half-Blood?”

“Annabeth and Percy want to stay and attend school. Nico too.”

Ginny’s eyes widened in shock. “Godric! Is that even possible? Do they have magic?”

Hermione smiled at her friend and nodded. “Demigods inherently have some innate magic due to their godly heritage. It’s not the same as being a witch. But Annabeth seems to think that classes such as Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, Divination, Care of Magical Creatures and even Potions might come in handy. I talked with Professor McGonagall about it a few days ago.”

“And what did she say?”

“She surprisingly, didn’t see a problem with it. She mentioned that she’d have to talk it over with Kingsley but I’m thinking that’s just more of a formality.”

“Will they be sorted?”

Hermione’s eyes widened as she hadn’t considered that variable. “Probably? I mean Annabeth will get sorted into Ravenclaw for sure. Nico? I hate to say it but he’s a Slytherin.”

Ginny smirked, “And Percy?”

“That’s a difficult one,” Hermione admitted sheepishly, “he’s both Gryffindor and Hufflepuff in equal measure. Very brave and recklessly loyal. It will be interesting to see where the sorting hat places him.”

“Well, at least you don’t have to hide yourself anymore. That must be a relief.”

“It is. But the attention that comes with it, I’d rather not deal with. My cousin Hector and his wife Melinda left yesterday got return back to the States. They want me to come visit for the holidays and meet the rest of the family.”

“Wow! You going to go?”

“Probably. I mean I really should after everything they’ve done for me. I’d be happy staying here with Harry, but apparently I have a magical home that needs to be taken care of.”

“Harry told me about that. Mum and Dad were stunned. I think everyone was. What I don’t understand was why you couldn’t tell anyone you were a Dagworth-Granger? That would have stopped the worst of the taunting at school.”

“My mother, it was her choice. She dropped the Dagworth when I was born and raised me in the Muggle World. I think it had to do with the scandal of the fact she wasn’t married and didn’t want to answer questions about paternity. I’m not exactly sure however. I have some letters that she sent to my cousin and I have them. I just haven’t read them.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know,” Hermione sighed unhappily, “I suppose I’d rather remember her the way I do. What if I don’t like what she’s written or what if there is some other big revelation I’d rather remain blissfully unaware of?”

“That’s not like you Hermione. You’re usually the one craving knowledge and information.”

“Yeah, I realize I’m being a bit of a hypocrite but I’m just not ready yet.”

“Okay, I can see that.” Ginny waved her wand to check the time and groaned. “We need to get to the Burrow.”

“Fine, let me grab my wand and beaded bag and I’ll meet you downstairs in a few minutes.”

“Sounds good. Harry is already there with Ron.

Hermione nodded and watched as her friend left the room and she couldn’t help but feel a bit sick to her stomach at the thought of how today would go. Ron still wasn’t speaking to her, which she was grateful for. They’d pretty much decided after the kiss and then the end of the war that they were better off as friends. Hermione had been relieved when Ron didn’t seem too broken up over the fact, but she knew he had a temper and from what Ginny just shared Hermione knew that Ron was likely very upset over her decision to testify for Malfoy.

Shaking her head, Hermione realized she didn’t have time to worry about it at the moment. Today was about remembering Fred and for now, she intended to do her best to avoid any dramatics, at least where her high strung best friend was concerned.

When she floo’d over with Ginny, the mood at the Burrow was somber. The living room was filled with Order members, including Minerva and Kingsley. Bill and Fleur were talking with Charlie and Professor Flitwick and Slughorn were in a deep discussion with Arthur Weasley. Percy was sitting off on his own while Harry was quick to see them and came over to envelope Ginny in a hug before doing the same for her.

“Hey Hermione, how are you?”

“I’m okay. How’s Ronald doing?”

“He’s around here somewhere, but he’s pretty subdued. George and Lee Jordan are outside with Angelina Johnson and Katie Bell. Neville and his grandmum are somewhere too as is Luna. We are still waiting on Andromeda and Teddy.”

Hermione nodded, eager to see Teddy. “That’s good. How is Andromeda doing?”

“Meda isn’t doing as well as I’d like. I’ve been over there with Ginny everyday for a few hours playing with Teddy. It’s hard though you know? Remus and Tonks should be watching their son grow up...not me.”

“Oh Harry, it isn’t your fault! None of this is! Voldemort would’ve killed everyone regardless. He was insane. You were just the one standing between him and whatever his ultimate goal was. That’s the sad thing about war, is there’s always casualties, but we just need to promise to do better and remember the ones who sacrificed so we could breath the free air in a world not tainted by Voldemort.”

Harry nodded and pulled Ginny closer to his side. “You’ve always had my back.”

“And I always will.”

The two friends smiled in commiseration together before a voice interrupted them.

“Hey Hermione! I thought that was you!”

Hermione’s turned and smiled at the burly red-headed wizard who came over and enveloped her into a bear hug.

“Hey Charlie. How are things at the Dragon Reserve?”

“Doing okay. One of the juvenile dragons is having a tough go of it. We think there’s something wrong with him, but we can’t figure out what it is.”

“What kind of dragon?”

“Hungarian Horntail.”

Harry shivered with the memories of the Triwizard tournament causing both Hermione and Charlie to chuckle at his look of horror.

“Well, I’d be happy to come to the reserve and have a talk with the Dragon?”

Suddenly the room got very quiet and Hermione noticed everyone was staring at her. Then Ron decided at that moment to make his presence known.

“What are you going on about Mione?”

Hermione rolled her eyes at Ronald’s brash tone and turned back to Charlie. “When my powers were unbound, one of the gifts of my Godly heritage is that I have command over all the beasts of the sky. Owls, Eagles, Hippogriffs...even Dragons. Percy my cousin, has the same gift with horses and all the creatures of the sea. So unicorns, Pegasi...I’m sure you get the point?”

Charlie nodded a bit dumbfounded while Ron just snorted in disgust. Hermione chose to ignore Ron, it was clear he was still upset over being almost electrocuted during their most recent argument.

“That would be wonderful Hermione! I’m heading back in a couple days. Maybe you could come with me? Are you planning on returning to Hogwarts?”

“Yeah Mione, are you planning on returning to school?” Ron parroted sarcastically and then shut up when Harry glared at him angrily.

“I am planning on returning to school come September and yes Charlie...if it’s possible, I would be happy to make a quick visit to Romania.”

Kingsley came over and nodded. “I’m sure we can work out a portkey for you to return home when you’re ready Hermione.”

“Thanks Kingsley. And thank you for doing that favor for me, I do appreciate it.”

Kingsley nodded while Ron just scoffed and walked away sulking.

“Ignore him today Hermione,” Harry said lowly, “he’s just in a bad mood. It’s understandable...he misses Fred.”

“We all miss my brother Harry, it doesn’t give any of us the right to be a prat on a day like today. You really need to stop making excuses for Ron’s bad behavior. I love my brother, but sometimes he’s an idiot.”

“Ginny!” Molly’s voice echoed in admonishment and the youngest Weasley turned and glared at her mother.

“Don’t Ginny me, mum! You know I’m right! Ron has always been a hot-head. Opening his mouth and then regretting it later when something completely rude comes out. We all miss Fred, but that doesn’t mean we have the right to treat our friends shabbily.”

Molly sighed, but Arthur put a hand on his wife’s arm to calm her from speaking. “Ginny is right Mollywobbles. Our youngest son does tend to speak before he thinks. Perhaps it’s time we stop coddling him by helping him realize that not everyone is as understanding as we are. I’m sorry Hermione.”

“It’s fine Mr. Weasley...really. I know why Ron is upset and I do understand it. I’m not saying I agree with him, but I can’t hold onto the kind of hateful prejudice that’s defined my life leading up to and during the war. If I do that, then I’m no better than the Death Eaters who called me Mudblood and carved that hateful slur into my arm.”

“I think it’s commendable that you’re able to be so forgiving Hermione.”

Smiling in resignation, she couldn’t help but comment, “Thank you for that Mr. Weasley.”

Arthur nodded and pulled Molly along with him back into the kitchen. Harry took Ginny upstairs for a bit and Charlie lead Hermione over where Bill and Fleur were sitting.

“So tell me a bit more about this ability?” Charlie’s eyes were alright with curiosity and Hermione couldn’t help but smile fondly at the Dragon tamer.

“The children of the Gods all are blessed with different abilities. My cousin Percy for example, being a son of Poseidon he has command over the seas...but pretty much any body of water will do. He can swim underwater at great depths for extended periods of time. He can command earthquakes, horses and all the creatures of the seas. He also has extensive healing abilities due to his powers. He healed my scars after the battle.”

Bill and Fleur just sat there gobsmacked while Charlie nodded eagerly. “And you?”

“Charlie! You are being a bit nosy.” Bill admonished his younger brother who put a hand up on his chest in defense.

“Oh come on Bill, this is so cool! You know what a mythology buff I am!”

Bill sighed but shrugged at Hermione, almost as if to say ‘sorry about him’.....

“It’s fine, really,” Hermione giggled at Charlie before continuing on. “As a daughter of Zeus I can command the elements: wind, rain, thunder, lightening as well as the creatures who roam the skies. I can speak telepathically to them. I can also heal myself if needed, but my powers are a little more unpredictable in that regard. Healing myself is fairly straightforward. Healing another demigod wouldn’t be too problematic but I’ve never really thought about how it would work with a magical though.”

Charlie nodded and Bill seemed to be lost in thought.

“Ez amazing vous can do so much.” Fleur stated softly. “Ez must be tre difficile, to n’ont utiliser vos powers.”

“It was, but I somehow managed. It did take a while for everything to settle down once my quest had been completed and the Moirai released me from my vow. I’m just glad to be able to have it all out in the open. I really don’t like keeping things from my friends, especially Harry and Ron. Although I’m not sure about Ron.”

“Don’t worry about my hot-headed brother,” Bill said kindly, “he will come around eventually. If for no other reason than our sister will hex him good and proper if he continues to make an arse out of himself.”

“True enough.” Charlie grinned. “I’ll stop by Grimmauld on my way back to Romania. We can take the portkey together if that’s alright?”

“That’s fine Charlie.”

Hermione excused herself and went to go find the rest of her friends, hoping against hope that Ron would eventually get over whatever issues he was having currently as she really didn’t like to be at odds with her best friend.

Chapter Text

It was four days after Fred Weasley’s memorial service. She still wasn’t speaking to Ron and wasn’t terribly upset about the fact. Clarisse, Conor and Travis had decided to head back to Camp Half-Blood for the time being while Percy, Annabeth and Nico were still helping with the Hogwarts rebuilding efforts alongside Harry and Ginny. Harry and Percy had unsurprisingly hit it off quite well, as the two were nearly mirror images of each other personality wise. Even Annabeth had commented on it several times, which had been met with a snicker from Hermione and an eye roll from both boys.

The Romanian Dragon Sanctuary was widely known within the Wizarding World as the largest of its kind. Founded in 1971 by the first Dragonologist and conservationist Harvey Ridgebit, who died two years later. The reserve now housed over twenty dragons and employed nearly thirty witches and wizards who’s main purpose was not only to study dragons and their mating habits but to make sure they didn’t die out.

Charlie had made a point to show Hermione around the first day she was there and he’d introduced her to several wizard’s who were from all over the world. Two from Japan, one from Russia and another from America. She had also met three witches: one from France, one from India and the last one was an older witch who was Egyptian. Each grouping did a rotation through different parts of the reserve and there were only a select few that actually worked hands on with the dragons. Charlie was one of those who did.

The second day at the reserve found themselves hiking through a forested area and into the Carpathian Mountain Range where the habitats for the dragons were located. The remote area was just northeast of the Transylvania region and Hermione was amazed at how picturesque the area was. When they finally reached an area where a series of caverns were nestled into the rock outcropping around 2000 feet up, Charlie led her into a heavily warded area.

Once they’d passed the wards, Hermione could suddenly hear the sounds of the dragons within the immediate area. As if sensing their presence, a large black shadow moved out of one of the large caverns, and Charlie halted their progress making sure that the Dragon didn’t see them as a threat.

When the dragon came into view, Hermione’s breath hitched at how majestic the creature was. From the looks of it’s greyish scales and deep red eyes, Hermione realized that she was seeing a Ukrainian Ironbelly—a healthy mature one, not like the one that had been trapped inside Gringotts and that she’d set free.

The dragon snorted and then lowered its snout as it huffed at them. Hermione decided to speak to it so Charlie could understand whilst simultaneously sending out her thoughts to the majestic creature.

“Hello.”

The dragon snorted again buts its red eyes were focused on her intently for a second before her mind linked with it and she could hear its response.

“Who are you?” You smell like a witch but more. You are a daughter of the God of Sky?”

Hermione bowed her head before speaking again. “I am called Hermione, and yes. I am the daughter of Zeus, God of the Sky and Ruler of Olympus.”

The dragon moved its large head and sniffed her deeply before its voice changed to a trilling purr like sound. “It has been ages since one such as you has come, why are you here?”

“I am here to help a sick dragon. Do you know where we might find him?”

The dragon snorted again and nodded, causing Charlie to gasp out in wonder as the dragon turned his head towards the wizard. “You know this wizard?”

Hermione nodded, “He is a friend. Please forgive my manners, do you have a name?”

“I am called Bregon.”

“Well, it’s very nice to meet you Bregon. Do you think you could show us the way to where the injured dragon is?”

Bregon huffed out smoke again through his nostrils, but moved out of the cavern and into the light. He was a fully grown male, over 50 feet in length and had shiny metallic grey scales covering its body. Once he was fully exposed, Bregon turned his head down towards Hermione and snorted.

“Follow me, Daughter of Zeus. Stay close. No harm will come to you if you stay close to me.”

“Thank you Bregon.”

Charlie moved up to her side and gave her a wide smile. “This is brilliant!” He whispered in excitement as they walked alongside the large dragon through a narrow gorge and into another clearing about a hundred feet up. As they moved along a scree, Hermione and Charlie had to walk carefully lest they slide down the embankment, which had a drop-off over several hundred feet. The rocks were crushed under the heavy weight of Bregon as he guided them up a fairly narrow slope towards another outcropping were several caverns were dispersed amongst the rock wall. When they’d reached an open passageway, Hermione and Charlie heard a grumbling sound within the cavern. Looking inside, the only thing Hermione could make out were the eyes and the broad horns that were sticking out prominently on its head. A Romanian Longhorn.

The grumbling within the cavern stopped immediately as there was movement...suddenly the dragon snorted and made to charge out of its hiding place but Hermione opened her mind and bade the creature ‘stop’ as they meant him no harm.

“What manner of witchcraft is this?” The large, bulky green dragon snorted smoke out of its nose as it lifted its horns into the light.

“Hello,” Hermione said politely, “I am Hermione, Daughter of Zeus.”

The large Longhorn snorted angrily, as if it didn’t believe her. “You lie.”

“I do not,” Hermione said firmly, “I am here to help a dragon who is sick. Do you have a name?”

“And why should I give you my name, Witch?”

Hermione sighed. “You don’t have to. I was trying to be polite.”

“There is no such thing as a polite witch or wizard. You hunt my kind for our horns...use them in your witchcraft.”

“Yes, you are right that there are witches and wizards who have hunted your kind for just such a purpose. I don’t agree with that practice, and believe all magical beings should be treated with dignity and respect.”

“Hmmmm...pretty words Hermione, Daughter of Zeus. You will forgive me if I choose not to believe you.”

“That is your right.” Hermione said with a bow of her head. “I am just here to help. I freed a dragon from the bowels of an underground prison and set him free not too long ago. I would do the same for any magical being. No one deserves to be a slave.”

The Romanian Longhorn snorted again as smoke flared out of its nostrils, but it moved back into its cavern and there it remained as she and Charlie continued to follow Bregon up through another scree and into a clearing a bit further up the mountain. When they reached a cavern near the summit, Bregon stopped.

“You will find the dragon you seek in the cavern up ahead. He is a youngling. Aggressive and unsocial. He may not wish you to help him.”

Hermione nodded her thanks. “I appreciate you taking us here, Bregon.”

The dragon bowed his head and snorted as he stared at the young witch. “You are brave, Daughter of Sky. While we Dragons are creatures of the air, we follow our own path. I wish you well.”

And with that, Bregon took off into the air, back to his cavern leaving Charlie staring off at the majestic creature stunned.

“Why did he leave?”

“He said that the Hungarian Horntail is rather asocial and aggressive. Perhaps he didn’t want to aggravate it further by being seen here with us.”

Charlie nodded warily as he stared into the mouth of the dark cavern. It was oddly quiet...almost too quiet.

“So, what do we do now?”

Hermione lifted up her wand and cast a lumos into the darkness, but there was no sign of anything moving within the space. She didn’t want to enter the cavern, as the dragon might consider that an aggressive posture and attack first. Deciding to try a different approach, she called forth her patronus and sent it into the cavern. It wasn’t even a minute when a bellowing sound came from its depths and then there was a rumbling along the earth. Small rocks staring to fall around them and then there was a rush of wind. Hermione’s wand was casting a shield instinctively as fire roared through the opening of the cavern.

Summoning her powers, she sent a gust of wind as her eyes sparked with lightening and the heavens rolled with angry thunder, which stopped the dragon in its tracks. It lifted its snout and smelled the fresh ozone burning throughout the air crackling around them as it cowered down into a defense stance and snorted out angrily. “Who are you?”

Hermione’s eyes were lit up in warning as she turned to the dragon, her voice carrying like thunder across the heavens. “I am Hermione, Daughter of Zeus. I come in peace but be warned...if you attack without provocation again I will defend myself and my friend.”

The dragon snorted even louder as smoke billowed from its nostrils and moved out into the light. Bregon was right, it was a juvenile probably around 30 feet but once it was fully grown would be closer to fifty feet. It’s black scales and yellow eyes were piercing and frankly a bit terrifying. It’s bronzed horns glistened in the light and it’s spiky tail was swishing in agitation as it stared down at she and Charlie like they were its next meal.

“You are a child of the Gods?”

“I am. I heard from my friend here that you were injured and I came to offer my help, if you’re willing.”

“And why should I trust you? You are a witch!”

“I’m also a demigod and am bound to all the creatures of the sky to give aid. Will you allow me to help you?”

The dragon snorted as its tail swished back and forth. Charlie just stood there and watched in fascination as Hermione conversed with the fiercest of all dragons.

“I would have your word that you will not seek to trap me? Or take any part of me unwillingly?”

“You have my word. Do you have a name I might call you?”

The dragon tilted its head momentarily and then snorted again. “You may call me Zee.”

“It is lovely to meet you Zee,” Hermione bowed her head, “might you show me where you are injured?”

The dragon snorted and moved its tail into a wide sweeping arc before lowering its body to the ground and turning slightly onto its side and it didn’t take long for Hermione to immediately spot the problem. Something had lodged close to the dragons left eye. In a very vulnerable spot.

“If you could lower you head to the left just a bit more?”

Zee huffed, but lowered his head down to the ground and Hermione walked around slowly, all the while explaining to the dragon what she was seeing and what she wanted to do. Showing Zee her wand, she cast a numbing charm and then as carefully as possible removed the offending object, silently casting a few healing charms and then Charlie handed her some special salve that they used for the dragons, which she placed on gently. Once she was done, she stood back and heard Zee huff in what almost could’ve passed for a sigh of relief.

Zee stood back up and Hermione watched in fascination as the dragon spread its wings out and stretched its body before it lowered its head back down and snorted again.

“I thank you Daughter of Sky.”

“You’re very welcome Zee,” Hermione’s voice was kind and she smiled widely at the dragon, “would you be willing to allow my friend Charlie to check on you to make sure you are healing properly?”

Zee’s yellow eyes fixated on the wizard next to the demigod and snorted again. “You trust this wizard?”

“I do trust him and he means you no harm. He only wishes to help you get better Zee.”

Zee just huffed as smoke billowed out of his nose and his tail swished in agitation but eventually he lowered his head again and nodded. “I will allow this. But if he tries to harm me I will eat him.”

Hermione’s laughter filled the air and she couldn’t help but notice Charlie’s confused look or Zee’s almost grin.

“I will let him know. Thank you Zee.”

“Thank you. I owe you a debt.”

“Not at all. Just don’t kill my friend and we’ll call it good.”

Charlie smiled and chuckled and Zee just huffed but nodded again as he moved back into his cavern alone.

Once the dragon was gone, Charlie reached for her hand and disapparated them both with a crack back to the main part of the reserve. Once they were on solid ground, Charlie lifted Hermione up into his embrace and twirled her around in excitement.

“That was brilliant!” Charlie gushed happily and Hermione’s couldn’t help but respond to his enthusiasm. When he set her down finally his face was split open into the widest grin she had ever seen in her life. Her answering smile couldn’t be helped.

“I’m glad you were impressed.”

“Impressed! I never thought such a thing would be possible! You can actually communicate with dragons!”

Hermione shrugged but she playfully slapped Charlie on his chest as he shook his head in wonder. When his expression became a bit more heated, Hermione felt the need to pull away which she did. Charlie, cleared his throat uncomfortably but took the subtle hint and together they walked back to the main house where everyone was sitting down for dinner. Charlie couldn’t wait to share with his workmates what had happened and everyone sat and listened with awe and a tinge of disbelief.

“You can really communicate with Dragons?” The American wizard, Marcus Preston inquired with a bit of skepticism in his voice.

“I can,” Hermione’s admitted quietly, “but truly, I was just happy to help.”

“Did you really free a dragon from Gringotts and ride it across the country?” This question came from the French witch, Marie Chantal Laverdiere.

“Yes, we were trapped after breaking into a vault there and Harry, Ron and I freed the dragon and rode him out of the bank. I’m sure the goblins are still quite angry that we stole their security dragon, but I don’t feel too badly about it. They had been abusing the poor creature.”

Everyone nodded in agreement. “What will you do now?” The wizard, Alexsander Petrov from Russia asked politely.

“I’m planning on returning to Hogwarts and finishing my education. It will be nice to attend for a year without having to feel like something horrible is going to happen at any given moment.”

Charlie chuckled in understanding. “It did seem that way now you say it Hermione. Your first year wasn’t there a Mountain troll and second year the Chamber of Secrets was opened?”

Hermione nodded. “My third year was a mess due to Sirius escaping from Azkaban and then the Triwizard tournament fourth year. Merlin! Fifth year was Umbridge. And then there was sixth year and Dumbledore, so I can only hope this upcoming year is fairly normal.”

“Hermione your a demigod, I don’t think life is ever going to be normal for you.” Charlie winked, whilst everyone just laughed at the quip.

“Well, I can still hope. My cousins are hopefully going to be attending Hogwarts with my best friend Annabeth. I’m also hoping that Harry decides to come back too. I don’t think Ron wants to, but I’d imagine whatever Harry decides to do, Ron will follow.”

“That’s true enough,” Charlie agreed readily, “I can’t imagine Ron wanting to go back to Hogwarts, especially if they give him a direct in to the Auror training program.”

“I know, and I can’t say I’m surprised,” Hermione’s admitted pragmatically, “but it still would be nice to have a normal year with all my friends.”

The immediate topic changed after that and it wasn’t long before Hermione excused herself to get freshened up before she took her portkey back to London. When she was ready to leave, she headed back down to the main common area, only to find Charlie waiting for her.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay for a few more days?” Charlie asked quietly.

“I really should be heading home. I promised Professor McGonagall I’d help with the rebuilding efforts and I don’t want to let her down. Harry’s birthday is in a little over a week too, so I want to get planning on a party for him. You should come if you can?”

Charlie nodded reluctantly. “I could see about maybe getting a couple days off.”

Hermione watched as Charlie shuffled his feet like he wanted to say something. Finally after about a minute he cleared his throat and made eye contact with her. “So you and Ron?”

Hermione sighed and shook her head. “There’s nothing between Ronald and I. We kissed during the final battle but...”

“No chemistry, right.”

Hermione nodded. “None. We discussed it and agreed we were better off as friends.”

“Is there someone else?”

Hermione paused but Charlie noticed her hesitation and his expression was a bit deflated. “I’m sorry Charlie, but there was someone whom I cared about very much. His name was Luke and he was a son of Hermes. He died recently and I never got to say goodbye to him. I think I’m still processing it all.”

“I’m sorry Hermione, truly. Perhaps when your done mourning you might be open to me taking you on a date?”

Hermione couldn’t help but smile fondly at Charlie, who was handsome and rugged...but definitely not her type.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea Charlie. I think you’re a great wizard and a good friend...”

“But it would be awkward dating the older brother of Ron?”

“That too.” Hermione giggled and felt better when Charlie smiled and placed a soft kiss on her cheek in parting.

“Take care of yourself Hermione. Thank you for coming and helping me.”

“It wasn’t a problem at all, happy to help anytime. Take good care of Zee, and let me know how he’s doing.”

“I will.” Charlie promised before he stepped away and watched Hermione activate her portkey...being whisked back to England instantaneously. Once she was gone, Charlie sighed heavily and rubbed his hands down his face in resignation. Why was it whenever he was attracted to an amazing witch, she had a thing for some other wizard? It really wasn’t fair.

Chapter Text

Harry’s birthday party had been a subdued affair, but everyone had seemed to enjoy themselves regardless. Professor McGonagall and Kingsley had stopped by and had taken Hermione aside, along with Harry and Ron and asked them what their plans were for September as the final rosters for Hogwarts needed to be done by the first of August so letters could be sent out. Ron had been adamant he’d rather not go back, but Harry was understandably torn. One the one hand he wanted to take advantage of having a normal year at school with his friends, on the other hand the lure of the Auror program awaited without having to sit for his NEWTS, which was a tempting proposition.

As usual, Hermione seemed fine with whatever decision he decided to make and Ron seemed rather put out that Harry was even considering going back to Hogwarts. As he sat there in the library at Grimmauld Place with his two closest friends, he felt understandably torn.

“What do you think I should do Hermione?”

“Why are you asking her?” Ron groused out unhappily, “of course she’s going to tell you to go back to school. It’s not like you need to take your NEWTS mate, your a bloody war hero! Maybe it’s time to give yourself a break.”

“Ronald, just because you can’t see the wisdom in completing your education, doesn’t mean that Harry can’t.” Hermione bit back angrily, tired of Ron trying to guilt Harry into doing what he wanted Harry to do.

“Blimey Mione, not everyone is excited about school like you are!”

“And you’re trying to guilt Harry into doing what you want him to do because you’re too lazy to go back to school and finish!”

Ron’s face turned beet red and he was about to say something scathing when Harry silenced both of his friends. Their astonished looks of surprise had him smiling mischievously.

“Stop it, both of you.” Harry admonished quietly, seeing the anger leaving Ron’s expression and Hermione’s look of resignation. She really thought he was going to side with Ron after everything that had happened. Shaking his head, Harry cancelled the charm and sighed heavily.

“I know this isn’t an easy decision and while there’s a part of me that wants to go back to Hogwarts and finish out my education, there’s another part that doesn’t want to go back to the place where so much of the bad stuff happened. It’s not even about Auror training, although it would be nice to not have to sit exams, but that’s not my main motivation.” Harry turned towards his best mate and gave him an exasperated shake of his head. “Ron, if you don’t want to go back...don’t. There’s nothing that says you have to do what I do! If you want to go right into Auror training then do it! Don’t let my decisions influence yours.” Ron seemed crestfallen by Harry’s words, but to his credit he kept his mouth shut.

Harry then glanced over at his other best friend, his sister in so many ways and smiled. “Hermione, I will admit my main motivation for returning to school would be to watch out for you and Ginny, and I know you are both very capable witches but it doesn’t change the sentiment. Kingsley and Professor McGonagall most likely are going to allow Percy, Annabeth and Nico to attend Hogwarts as a thank you for them helping to rebuild the school. Your cousin is far more capable of taking care of you than I am, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’d rather be the one there.”

Hermione sighed and nodded, understanding what Harry was saying. “Harry, whatever you decide you need to do, do it because it’s going to make you the happiest in the long run. That’s all I want for you. For both you and Ron, despite what a git he’s being right now.”

Hermione’s amber eyes turned towards her red-headed friend and he had the good grace to look a bit sheepish and contrite.

“You Harry, more than anyone else deserve a pass for everything you’ve had to endure over these past seven years. Yes, it would be brilliant to have us all together for one final year of school where we could just enjoy our time together before real life descends upon us. To see you both play Quidditch, even though I’m not a fan of the sport but I can admit I’d probably appreciate a bit more now, if for no other reason than I’d never thought we’d get a chance at a normal year of school again. But I do get why you might not want to be faced with those memories. You’ve carried the weight of all those losses squarely on your shoulders and while it’s never been your fault, I’m not sure you believe that completely. So whatever you decide, I’ll support it because I love you and want you to be happy.”

Harry smiled and leant over, enveloping his sister into his embrace and feeling Hermione’s answering fierce hug in return. Ron eventually cleared his throat awkwardly and Harry pulled back, giving his mate a questioning look.

“Look, I’m sorry Mione. About everything. I guess you’re somewhat right in why I don’t want to go back but you’re not completely right. I don’t want to go back to where Fred was killed. Ginny is even havin’ a hard time adjustin’ to the idea, but she wants to go back anyway. Maybe I’m not as strong as you’d like, but there’s really nothing for it. And maybe it’d be nice for you to have a year where you’re not havin’ to help me with my homework.”

Hermione giggled and Harry nodded and smiled at his friend. “Ronald, I’d never minded much but I do understand your reluctance to go back. I think we all feel that way for different reasons. Maybe there’s no perfect answer, just the perfect answer for you.”

Ron nodded as he focused his attention back on Harry, who appeared contemplative for a moment before he sighed again and gave Hermione’s hand a squeeze, seeing the look of understanding fall over her features.

“You’re not coming back, are you?” She whispered and Harry nodded.

“I think I’m done with school. Maybe I’ll regret it later, but for now this feels like the right decision for me. Ginny and I have discussed it too and while she’s not exactly happy about the prospect, she does understand my reasons. But I promise Hermione, I will be there to see you every Hogsmeade weekend I can and I’ll write too.”

“Me too Mione.”

Hermione laughed at that. “Really? You’re going to commit to writing me?”

Ron grinned in embarrassment while he rubbed his hand along the back of his neck. “Yeah, I mean if you really want me to.”

Rolling her eyes playfully, she couldn’t help but smile at Ron’s expression. “Of course I’d want you to Ron. Both of you. I’m just going to worry about you both, you know? You’ll be out there chasing Dark wizard’s without me. Just promise me, the both of you, that you won’t do anything foolish or reckless.”

“You know us Hermione.” Harry quipped with a grin.

“That’s why I’m saying it!”

The three friends grinned at each other in commiseration before Harry sighed and stood up. “We should head back downstairs and let Professor McGonagall in on the news.”

Ron nodded and left the room, leaving Hermione and Harry alone for a few moments.

“You going to be okay with this, Hermione?”

“Not right away,” Hermione admitted softly, “but I guess I’ll have to be. Just promise me you won’t go off and do something stupid Harry.”

“I’ll do my very best not to.”

“I suppose that’s the best I can hope for.”

“Probably,” Harry winked before pulling Hermione into a warm hug, “you be safe too. Worrying isn’t just a one way street, you know?”

“I’ll be fine Harry. Percy will look after me, besides...how much trouble can I seriously get into at a Hogwarts?”

Harry’s belly laugh caused Hermione to giggle in realization of what she’d just said. “Forget that question.”

“Oh, I plan on it.”

“Good, now I think there’s a birthday cake downstairs with your name on it...literally.”

Harry threw his arm over Hermione’s shoulder as they walked down to where the rest of the part was. “Is it chocolate fudge.”

“Yes, it is. You know, Percy’s seventeenth birthday is next month on the eighteenth. I think I’ll have to make him some blue cupcakes.”

“Blue?”

Hermione grinned. “I’ll let him tell the story.”

Harry nodded. “Sounds like it’s an interesting tale?”

“It’s both sad and sweet actually.”

“Hmmm, any other quirks I should know about?”

“I’ll leave that to my cousin to explain...but you could always ask him to show you his pen.”

“Pen?”

“Mmhmm, it’s a one of a kind pen.”

Harry quirked brow and expression seemed to indicate he didn’t quite believe her, which had Hermione smirking inwardly. It was alright, Harry would get educated on Percy’s quirks soon enough.

 

 

Percy’s seventeenth birthday had been a much smaller to do; with just Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Annabeth, Nico and surprisingly Ron to celebrate. Hermione good to her word, made blue cupcakes with blue frosting and blue sugar cookies with blue m&m’s. Annabeth and Nico went to the store and bought blue candy and berry blue koolaid to drink. Harry ordered pizza from an Italian restaurant around the corner and went to pick it up with Ron, who was still a bit unsure what to think of Hermione’s cousins.

After the pizza had been consumed, Hermione brought out the tray of cupcakes with a large one sitting in the middle...the blue candles in the center stating ‘17’ in bold numbers as everyone sang happy birthday. Annabeth cheered and said ‘make a wish’ to which Percy grinned and winked at his girlfriend before blowing out the candles to the cheers of everyone.

As they were finishing up their sugar feast, Harry couldn’t help but inquire, “So Percy, what’s with the blue food?”

Percy chuckled, while Annabeth nudged him with her elbow playfully.

“Well, it’s kind an interesting story actually,” Percy admitted quietly, “you see, my mom started the tradition to spite my ex-step-Father Gabe, who was a jerk. I have always loved the color blue, anyway...Gabe made some stupid comment about there being no such thing as blue food or drink when I was a little kid. Gabe hated me and was always saying mean things to me. So my mom decided to start making blue food for me. Birthday cakes, cookies or she’d buy me blue candy from our local sweet shop called Sweet on America. It’d piss Gabe off something awful but my mom has always had a stubborn streak that way.”

“I don’t get it,” Ron asked curiously, “why would your mum stay with someone who was so mean to you?”

Percy sighed and Annabeth gave her boyfriend a reassuring squeeze on his arm. “You see, monsters can smell the blood of demigods. It’s why we make our way to Camp Half-Blood because we are safe there behind the enchantments of the Gods. Gabe was a garbage man and he smelled so awful that his odor masked my scent. It kept me safe from the monsters. Unfortunately it didn’t last forever and Grover, who was my friend at school but also a satyr and protector, was sent by Chiron to fetch me and take me to Camp for my own protection. Anyway, Gabe is no longer a problem.”

“What did you do?” Hermione asked and this caused her cousins and Annabeth to smile in glee.

“Oh, I ran into Medusa while on a quest to retrieve the master lightening bolt of your Dad’s that Luke stole. Long story, but I had to cut off her head to save Annabeth from turning into one of her statues. She also had one of Persephone’s pearls and we needed to find them to break into the Underworld and get my mom back.”

Hermione’s expression was one of astonishment while Harry, Ron and Ginny just sat there with their mouths open in shock.

“You broke into the Underworld?” Hermione asked softly. “Was this before or after you took a dip in the Styx?”

“You took a dip in the Styx?!” Harry yelled out in awe.

“Harry!”

“Sorry Hermione, but seriously? How are you not dead?”

Percy just shrugged. “Lucky I guess. But to answer your question Mi, it was way before. Hades kidnapped my mom because he thought I had stolen your Father’s master bolt. It turned out Luke had broken into Olympus and taken it. We used Persephone’s pearls to escape after I rescued my mom.”

Nico smirked evilly, “Yeah, my Dad isn’t your biggest fan cousin.”

“That’s entirely your fault, cousin.” Percy scoffed. “So let’s not go there.”

Nico had the good sense to appear contrite as he nodded once. “Fair enough.”

Hermione sighed in exasperation. “It would seem you both have quite a bit to share with me.”

“Probably,” Percy admitted, “but in our defense we were fighting a mad Titan bent on destroying Olympus and the Gods.”

Hermione nodded. “I get that Percy. I just feel bad I wasn’t there to help you.”

“You were needed here more. Don’t stress on it Mi. Everything worked out the way it was supposed to. I’m actually looking forward to hanging out here with you at school for the next year. My mom and Paul seemed pretty cool with it.”

“Paul?”

“Yeah, Paul Blofis. He’s my mom’s new husband. Nice guy...helped during the Battle of Manhattan.”

Everyone was silent for a few moments until Ginny spoke up. “How did your parents meet Percy?”

“My mom could see through the Mist. I’m not sure if Mi has explained what the Mist is, but it’s essentially a supernatural force controlled by the Goddess Hecate that prevents mortal’s from seeing things like Gods, Monsters and Titans. It blinds them in a way. I’d imagine like that confundus charm Magical’s use?”

“So your Mum recognized Poseidon?” Ginny asked.

“In a way. She saw his trident and I suppose that’s how it all started.”

“You’ve met your Father?” Ron asked and Percy nodded.

“I have. Both at Olympus and in the mortal world.”

“And you’ve met your Dad?” Ron asked Nico and he nodded. “I don’t get it, why hasn’t Mione ever gotten to meet her Father?”

The room got unbearably quiet as everyone looked over at Hermione, who’s expression was suddenly closed off. Ron, realizing belatedly what he’d said, went to apologize but Hermione put her hand up to stop him.

“It’s fine Ronald,” Hermione spoke out awkwardly, “it is what it is.”

“Mi,” Percy said emotionally and sighed when his cousin shook her head emphatically.

“Look, I don’t have any unrealistic expectations here. I’m assuming that Thalia has met our Father?”

Percy nodded. “She was injured during the Battle of Manhattan and was given a gift from Zeus for her bravery. She requested help in gathering more Hunters for the Goddess since many were killed in battle.”

“That’s commendable then.” Hermione nodded with finality as her friend’s and family all gazed at her with worried expressions, “Look, it’s not as if my Father hasn’t acknowledged me. He did, so I suppose I should be grateful. But being angry and wishing for something that probably won’t ever happen is futile. I choose to feel grateful for what I do have. The ADHD inherent to half-blood children skipped me in a sense. I’ve always felt that was due to my magical side being a grounding force for my Godly powers but perhaps it was because those powers were bound for so long and my magic was allowed to grow and flourish that I can handle both now with little in the way of side effects. My Father came to me and saved me during the worst of my torture...so I know he cares. Would it be nice to meet him? Yes, but my family is here in this room with me. I survived a war and fulfilled my quest for Magic and the Gods. I’m okay with it all. Really.”

“You’re amazing Mi,” Percy stated with a bit of awe, “Most children of the Gods don’t feel that way at all. If they’d had, Luke would’ve never made the choices he did. Thalia was angry for a long time at your Father and it took her a while to come to terms with it.”

“I’m sure Thalia had reasons that felt right and true to her and I would never seek to minimize her feelings or experiences. But I’m not Thalia.”

“We know Mi.” Annabeth piped in with a small smile. “You’ve always been your own person and never needed anyone to tell you different. You’re probably right about the magic being a grounding force though. Never really thought about it until now.”

Hermione shrugged. “Honestly, I didn’t think I’d end up alive at the end...so I’m just happy that I am and I don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not anymore. That in of itself is a huge relief and one I’m more grateful for than I can say. I’m so happy you three will be going to Hogwarts with me. Letters should be here in a few days so we can head to Diagon Alley and buy our supplies.”

Annabeth nodded. “I’m looking forward to it.”

“Me too.” Percy grinned. “It will be nice to attend a school for a year and not get kicked out for being different.”

“That happened a lot?” Harry asked and Percy nodded.

“More than I care to admit.”

Everyone laughed and enjoyed the remainder of the party as they talked about a wide range of topics and Hermione realized, as she took in everyone around the table, that it didn’t matter if she ever met her Father or not because this right here was her family.

Chapter Text

The next week at Diagon Alley the streets were flooded with witches and wizards bustling about and enjoying the new peace that had descended like a renewed spring bud of fragile hope over the entire Wizarding community. Hermione had been adamant that she would be purchasing her cousin’s and Annabeth’s supplies for the upcoming school year. The Hogwarts letters had come the previous day and as much as she’d initially wished for the post of Head Girl once upon a time, it just didn’t seem to fit into her world view any longer. Professor McGonagall has been disappointed with her decision, but ultimately respected it.

Ginny had been chosen to fill that role and Molly had been so proud of her daughter. After losing Fred, it was a much needed bright spot for the Weasley family. The Head Boy selected according to Harry, was to be Zacharias Smith from Hufflepuff, which seemed fitting under the circumstances. There were a smattering of her classmates returning but Hermione wasn’t too worried about it, as she planned on keeping her head down and studying for her NEWTS.

Annabeth was very excited for classes to start. Professor McGonagall had decided to sort the demigods at the Start of Term feast as well as allow them to attend a few of the classes. Nico, Percy and Annabeth had all been required by McGonagall to take History of Magic but beyond that they could pick two to three other classes to take. They would be taking classes initially with differing years and then based on their aptitude...which would be assessed after the first month of classes, they could move into more age appropriate classes. Nico had decided on taking Divination and Herbology, while Percy thought Care of Magical Creature and Potions would be fun. Annabeth had decided on Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, and Divination. Hermione still had all her books from the previous years and she had spent her free time this summer going over each of the classes, even Divination.

Harry took Nico and Percy over to Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes once they got into Diagon Alley, and which Ron was currently running with Lee Jordan until George felt like coming back to work. Hermione and Annabeth went over to the bookstore and everyone agreed to meet up at Madam Malkin’s for formal school robes in an hour.

When they walked into the store, Annabeth grinned as she rushed over and started picking up books in earnest and Hermione couldn’t help but giggle at her friend’s enthusiasm.

“This is so cool Mi, how do you choose?”

“Well, I usually read the required texts before school starts and then pick up a few for light reading.”

“I’ve seen your idea of light reading.”

“You’re just as big of a know it all as I am Annabeth and you know it oh, Wise One.”

Annabeth rolled her eyes but her grin was telling, as she picked up a book on Divination and set it aside along with the other two books she’d chosen.

“So you mentioned something about galleons, right? They don’t take drachma’s?”

“No, Wizarding money is much different than Ancient Greek money.”

Annabeth nodded as she reached for another book on the History of Magic. “You know, you never did tell me about how it went with your cousin Hector from America.”

Hermione shrugged. “It was fine. He left me some correspondence from my birth mother and I still haven’t looked through it yet.”

Annabeth stopped her perusal and stared at her best friend. “Uhm, why?”

“I don’t know, I guess I’m just not ready to know everything yet. Hasn’t my life been upended enough for a while?”

“Well, I can see what you mean but seriously Mi, you need to give yourself a break. You have family now and from what I can see, they genuinely care about your well-being.”

“I suppose so,” Hermione sighed and then moved over to a shelf to reach for a book on Alchemy, “I’m just glad you, Percy and Nico decided to stay.”

“Me too,” Annabeth admitted easily, “Things at Camp have been a bit subdued since the end of the Titan War. It’s actually nice to get away for a bit, you know?”

Hermione nodded and then her face scrunched up when she heard a strange sound coming from outside the store. Annabeth groaned and then grumbled, “Skata!”

Hermione’s eyebrows shot through her hairline as she watched her best friend storm out of the bookstore. When Hermione got outside, her eyes widened at the site of an angry cow mooing in the middle of the alleyway, while Annabeth was cursing in Ancient Greek and all the witches and wizards were openly staring in confusion.

“Uhm, Annabeth?”

Annabeth turned around and glowered at her best friend before she turned her face up to the heavens and shouted angrily, “Párte tin adysópiti ageláda sas, Íra! Kai stamatíste na eíste éna tétoio Prima Donna!” (Take your stupid cow Hera! And stop being such a Prima Donna!)

The cow moo’d loudly and then the heavens rumbled and the cow disappeared from whence it came, but not before it left a little present for Annabeth, right on her shoes.

“Vlakas!” Annabeth screeched loudly while Hermione stared at her friend with confused amusement.

Waving her wand (that was still Bellatrix’s), the mess vanished instantly. Annabeth’s grey eyes were filled with ire as she stared up at the heavens while everyone else in their general vicinity just appeared gobsmacked.

“That was a cow.” Hermione grinned while Annabeth grumbled lowly under her breath.

“You’re really the Brightest Witch, aren’t you?”

“Why was there a cow in the middle of Diagon Alley, Annabeth?”

“Because apparently, your Father’s wife thinks it’s good sport to send them after me.”

“Okay? And that’s because?”

Annabeth sighed as she ignored the shocked looks from everyone gaping at her and went back over to her friend. “I might have offended her, but come on! She’s a vindictive...”

“Don’t finish that sentence!” Hermione managed to sputter out through her giggles. “Whether or not that may be true, spouting out as such isn’t going to endear you to Hera. In fact, it will likely do the opposite.”

“She sent a heard of cows after me when I was home with my family you know? She’s a vindictive cow!”

Hermione broke down in laughter, not noticing the several sets of interested stares they were getting.

“Hera sent cows after you?”

“Yes, a herd of cows!” Seeing her friend’s amused expression, Annabeth couldn’t help but grin in return. “It’s not funny Mi!”

“It so is! I mean come on! It’s not like it’s a Minotaur, or a Drakon...it’s a cow!”

Both girls started to giggle hysterically in the middle of Flourish and Blotts so they didn’t notice a group of people making their way towards them until someone cleared their throat.

“Granger.”

Hermione’s laughter halted immediately as she gazed widely into the grey eyes of Draco Malfoy, who was watching both she and Annabeth with an amused smirk on his face.

“Was that a cow?”

Hermione couldn’t help it, she started laughing again while Annabeth joined in as both girls giggled for a few more moments before they finally calmed down.

“I’ll take that as a yes.” Draco drawled as he shook his head in bemusement. “Is there some interesting reason why there was a cow in the middle of Diagon Alley?”

Hermione grinned widely at her friend, who rolled her eyes in disgust before answering. “I pissed off Hera a while back, so she now sends cows after me from time to time. It’s just a little game we like to play.”

Draco’s eyebrows lifted in surprise while his two friends just smirked with glee.

“Sorry, I should probably introduce myself. I’m Annabeth Chase.”

Draco nodded, remembering seeing the demigod with Percy Jackson before being taken away by the Aurors after the Final Battle. The fact that she was being polite to him was a pleasant surprise.

“Draco Malfoy. These two wizards are my friends: Theodore Nott and Blaise Zabini.”

Both wizards bowed to the demigod, and Hermione rolled her eyes.

“We should probably get over to Madam Malkins to meet Percy and Nico. We still need to pick up your robes and wands for school. Did you want me to get those books for you?”

Annabeth nodded emphatically. “Yes please!”

Hermione grinned and levitated the large stack of tomes over to the counter, leaving her friend alone with the three Slytherin’s, not that Annabeth couldn’t take care of herself.

Once Hermione had left, Annabeth turned her steely grey gaze towards the tall blonde who was staring right back at her, along with the two other boys.

“So, you’re Draco Malfoy?”

Draco nodded warily, seeing the knowing glint in the demigods gaze. “I am.”

“Hmmm, I’ve heard a thing or two about you Draco Malfoy.”

Draco nodded in resignation, his expression closing off. “I’m sure you have.”

Annabeth considered the wizard and she only had one question to ask. “Do you regret it?”

Draco wasn’t going to insult the demigods intelligence by pretending he didn’t understand what she was asking of him. If what he’d heard was correct, she was a daughter of Athena....and from what he remembered of Mythology, the children of Athena were said to be exceptionally bright and cunning, especially in battle.

“I don’t think regret is the word I’d choose to employ.”

“And what is?” Annabeth inquired with a raised eyebrow.

“Remorse.”

Grey eyes locked with grey and the two didn’t look away from each other before Annabeth smirked knowingly at the blonde wizard.

“Then I wish you the best of luck Draco Malfoy because something tells me you’re going to need it.”

With that, Draco watched the blonde girl walk away feeling terribly exposed and he didn’t know what to say or do. One look at his friends told him that they were suitably impressed with the demigod daughter of Athena as well. As Draco’s gaze moved past Annabeth, his eyes locked onto amber one’s that were staring at him in confusion. Bowing his head politely in parting, Draco nodded to his two best mates and they all left the store together, the whole odd encounter leaving him feeling rather unsettled.

Hermione watched Malfoy leave with his friends and shook her head clear, so she wasn’t aware of Annabeth’s sly smile as she came over and bumped shoulders, trying to get her attention.

“So that’s Draco Malfoy?” Annabeth teased and Hermione rolled her eyes.

“Yes.”

“What do you say here in England? Fit?”

Hermione coughed out a shocked guffaw as she stared morosely at her friend.

“You think he’s fit?”

“Well, he’s no Percy Jackson but then again, I’m not the one with a unwanted crush on the wizard.”

“Shut it, Chase. I’d rather not discuss such things in public if that’s alright with you.”

“Noted,” Annabeth agreed easily, as she watched with interest as Hermione purchased all the books, shrunk them and then placed them inside her beaded bag, “doesn’t change the facts though. He may have been a right jerk for years but the boy is fit.”

“Godric! Why did I agree to have you come to Hogwarts with me?”

“You know you adore me, Mi...besides, we’ve never been able to keep secrets from each other.”

“I know,” Hermione admitted softly, “But that doesn’t mean I want to discuss it either. Let’s just get over to Madam Malkin’s as I’m sure the boys are waiting for us.”

“Sounds good.”

They were indeed waiting and had been for a while. Percy talked non-stop about all the interesting stuff that George’s shop had. Once they were done getting their school robes situated, they all made their way to Ollivander’s.

The store front of Ollivander’s had been repaired and when they walked inside, the interior of the shoppe was mostly in good shape. Mr. Ollivander heard the bell and when he came out, his widened in surprise before he smiled widely.

“Ah, Miss Dagworth-Granger and Mr. Potter welcome. And you have three friends with you!”

“Yes Sir,” Hermione said kindly, “These two young men are my cousin’s, Percy Jackson and Nico di Angelo. This young lady here is my friend Annabeth Chase. They’re attending Hogwarts with me this year and need wands.”

Ollivander nodded as he tutted around the store mumbling a few things. After a while he had several boxes sitting on the counter and waved Annabeth over first. Handing her the first box, Annabeth took the long stick of wood from Mr. Ollivander’s hand and swished it into the air. A vase exploded and a few boxes scattered around the room causing her friend’s to snicker while she leveled them with a steely glare. A few more tries and she had finally found a wand that seemed to like her well enough.

“Interesting Miss Chase. That wand is made of Rowan wood and it has been said that Rowan wands are greatly favored amongst those with magical abilities and it is most happy placed with someone who is clear-headed and pure of heart. The core of your wand contains a unicorn hair which binds deeply with its owner, and remain the most faithful of all wand cores. An excellent choice for a Daughter of Athena.”

Annabeth smiled widely as she happily nodded, feeling the rightness of her wand as she held it in her hand.

After a moment Nico was waved over and he looked back warily at his cousin’s as he settled at the counter, trying not to seem more nervous than he felt.

After several attempts, Ollivander moved back into the store and brought out an old black box with unusual carvings set into it and placed it down onto the counter.

“This wand was made by my ancestor over 1000 years ago. It is an Ash wand with a golden unicorn hair. The only hair ever given by that particular unicorn. An Ash wand is extremely temperamental and will only work for its owner, even more so when it’s core is that of a unicorn. Those suited to the Ash wand are not swayed from their beliefs. The ideal owner may be stubborn, certainly courageous, but never brash nor over-confident.”

Ollivander held out the wand to Nico and the affinity was instantaneous as all within the room felt the magic of the wand accepting its new master.

“Curious indeed,” Ollivander smiled widely, “a fitting choice for a Son of Hades.”

Nico nodded his thanks and stepped back, allowing Percy to come forward which he did after a minute.

Ollivander gave the young man a knowing look and reached for a box from underneath the counter and slid it towards the young demigod.

“Mr. Percy Jackson...I have waited a long time to finally meet you.”

Percy’s eyes widened as he stared at the older man with confusion and a tinge of fear.

“I don’t understand Sir.”

Ollivander smiled widely. “My Great, Great Grandmother was a Seer, an Oracle I believe you call them, yes?”

Percy nodded and allowed the older wizard to continue.

“She had a vision when she was a young girl of a child of the Gods, born from the Sea. As such, she shared this vision with her intended, who was my Great, Great Grandfather. He had this particular wand made specifically for you. I do believe you will find it very much to your liking.”

Ollivander opened the box and handed the wand to Percy. The affinity was immediate and Percy gasped as the wand shimmered and the magic swelled from him like the crest of the ocean crashing down over the shore. He turned around to the stunned looks from his friends.

“Ah, a perfect fit!” Mr. Ollivander smiled deeply, “That wand Mr. Jackson is made of Cherry wood, one of the rarest of all wand woods. Its core is dragon heartstring and it is said that those who carry a wand made of Cherry Wood are those who contain truly lethal power, but when paired with a core of a dragon heartstring it’s owner must truly possess exceptional self control and strength of mind. A truly fitting match for a Son of Poseidon.”

Percy swallowed and bowed his head humbly at the older wizard in thanks. Ollivander’s eyes then turned to Hermione and waved her over.

“My dear, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the wand you carry is not the one I gave to you all those years ago. Perhaps it is time for you to receive a new wand, yes? Your cousin Hector was kind enough to speak with me and helped me get this shoppe up and running so I might be able to provide wands again this year. But I think his motivation was to make sure you no longer had to use the wand that was the instrument of your torture.”

Hermione sighed and ignored the gasps behind her as she handed over Bellatrix’s wand to Ollivander and gave a small sigh of relief to be rid of it. She watched carefully as Ollivander moved back into the store before he came back with a box that was golden in color. When he set it down, Hermione noticed the box had some strange runic markings on it that she wasn’t familiar with, but it was nothing compared to the wand inside. The light wood was nearly translucent in appearance and had a set of matching runic markings along the side of the wand. The handle of the wand curled around itself in an insular shape, protecting the base of the wand as it branched out into a long singular gentle curve.

Hermione took the wand and gasped as she felt its power surge through her. Her eyes lit up like sparks and the air around the wand shoppe crackled with the energy of ozone as she felt the wand accept her.

“Very, very interesting Miss Dagworth-Granger,” Ollivander smiled widely as he observed the young witch with pride, “a wand of Yew with a Dragon Heartstring Core. The Yew wand is reputed to endow its possessor with the power of life and death, and has a fearsome reputation in all spheres of dueling and curses. While it has been said that those who possess Yew wands may tend to gravitate towards the Dark Arts, they are also fierce champions and protectors of others....often heroes of great repute. A Yew wand never chooses a witch or wizard who is timid or mediocre, but only the greatest find their match with a Yew Wand. This particular wand has a rather rare Dragon Heartstring core. It is the heartstring of the largest, most fiercest Dragon....a Hungarian Horntail. This wand is destined for greatness as is the witch holding it. A very fitting match for a Daughter of Zeus.”

Hermione nodded distractedly as she stared at the wand in her hand. When she turned around everyone was smiling except Harry, who had a contemplative look on his face before he spoke.

“Voldemort’s Wand was a Yew, wasn’t it Mr. Ollivander?”

The wandmaker nodded. “It was. I’ve often found that people mistakenly believe that certain kinds of wands are inherently evil due to the misdeeds of their former masters. The wand chooses the wizard Mr. Potter. You’ve wielded the Elder Wand as you know, as did the Dark Lord. Do you see yourself as being evil?”

Harry shook his head at the reprimand and smiled sheepishly. “No, I don’t.”

“As I’ve stated before, it’s unclear to those of us who’ve studied wandlore why a certain wand chooses a witch or wizard. Is it the thirst for learning, a shared experience that the wand senses will be provided by its new owner? Apparently, Bellatrix’s wand felt such an affinity with her former Mistress, it refused to yield its allegiance to Miss Dagworth-Granger despite being won. Wands are sentient unto themselves and as such, only choose those companions that will serve to help it grow into its fullest potential regardless of what that potential may be perverted to.”

“I believe I understand, Mr. Ollivander.” Harry stated kindly as he walked over and stared down at his best friend’s wand. “It’s unique Hermione, just like you.”

Hermione grinned and gave Harry a quick hug. “Not all of us can be the wielder of the Elder Wand Harry.”

Shrugging, Harry couldn’t help but smile at his friend playfully. “Well, I am the Chosen One after all.”

Chapter Text

The morning of September First had finally arrived and after Kreacher had made a huge breakfast for everyone, it was finally time to head for the Hogwarts Express.

Ginny and Ron had come over the night before and had slept over so they could all head for King’s Cross that morning together. They’d decided it might be fun to get to the Platform the traditional way through the barrier from the Muggle side. Hermione had shrunken down everyone’s trunks and placed them inside her beaded bag before they took the tube to King’s Cross station.

When they got to the designated spot, Harry went through the barrier first, followed by Ginny and Ron. Annabeth had decided to go next, then Percy. Nico stared at the wall with a smirk and then walked nonchalantly through the barrier followed by Hermione. Once they were through, Hermione noticed the majority of the people on the Platform were openly staring at their small group.

“It seems we are the center of attention.” Annabeth quipped as she locked her arm through her best friend’s and made their way towards Ginny and the boys.

“I’ll never get used to it.”

“You’re a War Heroine, Mi. You probably would’ve been gawked at regardless of your Godly heritage being outed. Good times.”

“Shut it Chase,” Hermione bit back playfully, “Are you going to be this much of a menace the entire school year?”

Annabeth shrugged. “Probably, but you love me.”

“Unfortunately.”

Both girls giggled as they finally got to their friends. Harry came over and grabbed Hermione, taking her aside so he could speak with her privately. He reached into his robes and handed her a small bundle.

“My cloak and the Marauders Map,” Harry whispered into Hermione’s ear, “you might need them and I would feel better if you had them, just in case.”

Hermione threw her arms around Harry and he held her tightly. Ron came over and joined in the group hug. When Hermione pulled away there were tears in her eyes and even Harry and Ron looked emotional. Ginny walked over and Harry was quick to envelope her into his side, placing a soft kiss on her temple.

“It’s going to be okay Harry,” Ginny said reassuringly, “Hermione will be fine.”

Harry nodded and made eye contact with Percy, who nodded in silent understanding. The whistle blew as Harry gave Ginny one last kiss goodbye and watched silently as his girlfriend and best friend waved at both he and Ron before disappearing on the train with the other demigods. When he turned to leave, he noticed Malfoy standing at the end of the platform with Nott and Zabini and their eyes caught and held for a split second. Draco bowed his head and then walked onto the train, followed by his cronies. Ron came up to his side and gave Harry a worried look.

“That was unexpected.”

“It was,” Harry admitted, “you know I’m not a fan of Malfoy nor his family, but even I can see that Malfoy seems to regret everything that’s happened.”

“Don’t trust the git.” Ron sniped, as they made their way to the apparition spot.

“I don’t either Ron, but if our world is ever going to heal and move on, the prejudice has got to stop. I won’t take part in it anymore despite my own personal feelings.”

Ron nodded reluctantly after a moment and the two friends disapparated back to Grimmauld Place, both feeling a sense of unease about leaving their best friend alone for the school year.

On the train, Hermione found an empty compartment while Ginny excused herself stating she needed to meet with Zacharias Smith and the prefects in the Heads compartment.

Sitting down next to Nico, while Annabeth and Percy took the other bench...the four demigods watched as the remainder of the students boarded the train. Twenty minutes later, the Hogwarts Express left King’s Cross and headed for Hogsmeade in Scotland.

“This is so cool.” Percy admitted as he watched the scenery go by before eyeing his older cousin with worry. “You okay, Mi?”

Hermione’s eyes locked with Percy’s and she nodded. “I am. I understand why they didn’t want to come back, but I will miss them. We’ve been together every year since I was eleven. I’m not there to take care of them.”

“Maybe it’ll be good for you both, Mi.”

“Maybe.”

“What did Harry give you?” Nico asked with interest.

“I’ll show you guys when we get to Hogwarts, okay?”

Nico nodded and then asked what the Start of Term feast was like, from there the questions began in earnest. They discussed the Professors, the other Houses, the dorms...everything Hermione could think of and before long it was time to get dressed into their Hogwarts uniforms before the train pulled into Hogsmeade station.

When they got off the train, Hermione led everyone over to the carriages. She had discussed this with Professor McGonagall and it was decided that the demigods wouldn’t take the boats over with the first years, but come with Hermione in the carriages. When they walked up to the carriages, Nico smiled and went over to pet the thestral, who seemed genuinely happy for the attention.

“What’s that Mi?” Percy asked quietly.

“They’re called Thestrals, and they can only be seen by those who’ve seen death.”

Percy nodded, and then grinned at his other cousin. “Hey Death Breath, you’ve made a new friend.”

Nico turned around and his eyes narrowed at Percy in warning, while Annabeth rolled her eyes.

“Death Breath? Really Percy?” Hermione quipped as she got into the carriage.

“I thought it was funny.” Percy grumbled as Annabeth smacked him playfully behind the head.

“Be nice, Seaweed Brain.”

“I am nice.” Percy groused as he took the seat next to Annabeth, who was grinning at her friend.

“Debatable.” Nico sneered.

The carriages dropped them off to the castle a bit later, and Hermione was quick to note some of the returning students as they walked towards the castle. She saw Malfoy, Nott, Zabini, Parkinson, Goyle, Greengrass from Slytherin. Ginny was walking with Luna, Seamus and Dean. Padma Patil was talking with Michael Corner and Terry Boot. Susan Bones, Hannah Abbott and Zacharias Smith were over in a corner chatting together. Neville had decided to go straight into the Auror academy as well...taking a revised NEWT with the permission of McGonagall and Kingsley as he desperately wanted Neville in the Auror Corps to help with the Ministry clean up after the war.

Hermione showed Percy, Annabeth and Nico where to go with the first years that were waiting to be sorted. After she’d left them, she headed into the Great Hall. When she walked inside, the entire hall went silent and she couldn’t help but roll her eyes at everyone staring at her with expressions that ranged from fear to awe. She sat down in her usual spot facing the Slytherin table next to Ginny. When she lifted her gaze, her eyes locked onto grey ones that were openly staring at her with an unreadable expression. Deciding to ignore that Pandora’s Box momentarily, she leant over and whispered into Ginny’s ear.

“So we still on for our bet?”

Ginny grinned and nodded. “So you think Percy will be sorted into Hufflepuff?”

Hermione nodded. “And you’re thinking Gryffindor?”

Ginny winked and then the doors to the Great Hall opened and Professor Flitwick walked in with a bunch of eleven year olds following him. The last to do so were her cousin’s and Annabeth, who were all staring up at the enchanted ceiling with small smiles upon their faces. When they came in, everyone hushed in wonder and then watched avidly waiting for them to be sorted.

It was about ten minutes later, and when all was left was her cousin’s and Annabeth...Professor McGonagall stood up and waved the room silent.

“As you can all see, we have a few guests joining us for this school year. Miss Annabeth Chase, Mr. Nico di Angelo and Mr. Percy Jackson have been offered tutelage here at Hogwarts as thanks for all the hard work they’d offered this past summer in the rebuilding of Hogwarts. I encourage you all to welcome them and show them the very best that Hogwarts has to provide in hospitality and friendship.”

McGonagall then nodded to Flitwick who called out ‘Annabeth Chase’ and Annabeth grinned back at Hermione and winked as she sat down on the stool and the sorting hat was placed on her head.

It wasn’t even a second later the hat yelled out...RAVENCLAW!

The cheers from the Ravenclaw table erupted as Annabeth’s smile widened and she made her way to sit next to Luna.

Professor Flitwick then called out ‘Nico di Angelo’ and her cousin sauntered over and then sat on the stool grimacing, as the hat was placed on his head.

A few seconds later the hat bellowed out ‘SLYTHERIN!’

The snakes all cheered loudly for the Son of Hades; as did Hermione, Ginny, Annabeth and Luna. When Nico walked over, Hermione was gobsmacked when Draco offered to have her cousin sit next to him, which Nico did and then smirked at her, causing Hermione to roll her eyes in disgust.

The entire hall went silent again as Percy’s name was called. Percy stepped up to the stool and sat down, the hat placed firmly upon his head. After five minutes nothing happened, and the Hall went completely still as everyone held their breath. A hat stall. At one point Percy’s eyes opened and flashed with power as the ground shook slightly and Hermione could see he was bartering silently with the hat, clearly not liking how the conversation was going. She cleared her throat loudly and got his attention as he turned and stared at her while her eyes flashed like lightening in warning, ozone sparking throughout the hall. Percy sighed and shook his head and after a few more minutes, the hat finally yelled out...GRYFFINDOR!”

The entire table erupted in cheers and Percy smirked in victory as he stepped off the stool and made his way towards his cousin, while Hermione silently handed a galleon to Ginny.

When Percy sat down, Hermione turned and glared at him while his grin just got wider.

“Really?”

“Yep.” Was all he said and she couldn’t help but snort at his infectious smile as she nudged his shoulder with hers.

“Prat.”

“Ah, love you too Mi.”

“I don’t need a babysitter Percy.”

“And yet I promised Harry I’d watch out for you. Now tell me dear cousin, how was I supposed to do that in...Hufflepuff? I mean look at me, do I look like a puff?”

Hermione’s surprised laughter echoed throughout the Great Hall as Percy chuckled and playfully bumped her shoulder back. Professor McGonagall then stood up and waved the hall silent again.

“Welcome back to Hogwarts for another year. As we’re all painfully aware of, this past year especially has been filled with much sadness and loss. The fact we are back here is a testament to our strength as a community but also our hope for a brighter future. I encourage you all to put the past where it belongs and move forward with the spirit of peace and inclusivity. Each of us sitting here in this Hall have all suffered greatly. Pain and loss aren’t mutually exclusive and I implore you to remember that this year. Where there was once differences it is my hope that acceptance can be given. For myself, this year seeks to remind me that we are greater united than divided. In brighter news our New Head Girl is Ginny Weasley of Gryffindor and our Head Boy is Zacharias Smith of Hufflepuff.” The cheers in the Hall were loud as all the students except Slytherin House cheered for the new Head students, before McGonagall spoke up again introducing the new Defense Professor and Hagrid who was back teaching Care of Magical Creatures, “And a firm reminder that the Forbidden Forest is forbidden to all students. Now please enjoy the feast and tuck in!”

The food then appeared on the table and Percy muttered ‘cool’ before filling his plate in earnest. After he was done he gave Mi a questioning look and she nodded to him and then noticed when Nico and Annabeth were giving her the same identical expressions. She filled her plate and then stood up, her cousin’s and Annabeth following suit. When they’d reached the front of the Great Hall directly parallel to the Headmistress’ table, they all waited patiently in a semi-circle as they could feel the stares from the other students within the hall boring into their backs and even the Professors seemed perplexed.

Suddenly there was a flash of light and then a stone and iron hearth was burning in the center of the floor, where a young girl who looked no older than fourteen was tending to the flames, her face turning towards the four young demigods. Hermione bowed deeply in respect followed by Percy, Nico and Annabeth.

“Lady Hestia.” Hermione lifted her head and smiled warmly into the glowing eyes of the Goddess of the Hearth, not missing the gasps of everyone within the Great Hall.

“Hermione, Percy, Nico and Annabeth. You have come to my hearth with an offering?”

Hermione nodded and moved over to the hearth and scraped off half her portion, stating clearly “For the Gods.”

Percy, Nico and Annabeth all followed...bowing respectfully to the Goddess and offering tribute. When they were done, Hestia smiled and said clearly, “Your offerings are given and received gladly.”

“Thank you My Lady.” Hermione bowed again and with a crackle of flame, Lady Hestia was gone but the hearth and flame remained.

They all moved back to their previous seats and started to eat, ignoring all the stunned looks of awe coming their way.

Over at the Slytherin table, Nico had just sat back down when the ghosts started moving into the Great Hall. After a few moments he noticed everyone sitting next to him had quieted and he inwardly groaned when he looked up and saw all the Hogwarts House ghosts floating above the Slytherin table, staring down at him with reverence.

Peeves bowed his head, which caused everyone in Slytherin to gasp as the Poltergeist never showed deferential treatment to anyone!

“My Lord,” Peeves spoke with awe, “welcome back to Hogwarts.”

Nico sighed as he took a bite of his food and then smirked up at the ghosts who were all waiting for him to speak.

“Peeves, it is good to see you again but perhaps you all might go about your night and allow me to enjoy my dinner in peace?”

“Of course, My Lord.”

Nico groaned and shook his head as the ghosts all floated away to greet the other students. When he looked back up, Nico noticed both Hermione and Percy grinning widely at him and his eyes narrowed at his cousins. Hermione then blew him a kiss, causing Nico to shake his head and chuckle fondly as he went back to eating his dinner.

“Well, that’s not something you see everyday.” The dark skinned wizard said in amusement.

Nico glanced back up and his eyes met the dark one’s of the wizard sitting across from him.

“I don’t imagine it is.” Nico said evenly as he took another bite of his chicken and chewed it thoughtfully, his gaze never leaving the other boy.

Draco cleared his throat softly and Nico turned and rose an eyebrow in response.

“That’s Blaise Zabini, and he likes to think he’s funnier than he really is.”

Nico’s expression didn’t change at all as he considered the wizard sitting next to him for a moment before he spoke.

“And do you have a name?”

Draco swallowed nervously and said as calmly as possible, “Draco Malfoy.”

Nico’s gaze darkened a bit as he continued to glare at the blonde wizard before he felt someone staring at him. He turned his head and saw Hermione watching him closely with a worried expression on her face. He winked and smiled, causing her expression to noticeably relax. Nico then turned his attention back to the blonde wizard, who hadn’t missed the silent exchange between he and his cousin.

“I see.” Was all Nico said to that before his dark brown eyes surveyed the other students within the small older group staring at him. “Perhaps you might introduce me to your friends?”

Draco nodded and gestured to the girls on his right. “This is Pansy Parkinson and next to her is Daphne Greengrass.”

Nico bowed his head politely to the two witches who smiled in welcome. Then the blonde wizard gestured across the table. “Blaise Zabini as you know, and next to him on his left is Theodore Nott and on his right is Gregory Goyle.”

Nico nodded politely at the wizards in greeting before his dark gaze focused back on the blonde wizard. “You all followed Tom Riddle?”

The faces of everyone fell as Nico’s gaze didn’t falter, so he decided to give them all a pass. “Look, I’m the Son of Hades and my Father has been routinely looked down upon as the black sheep of the family,” Everyone grinned and Blaise even chuckled in appreciation, “and it’s not much better for the children of Hades. All I do know is my cousin Mi, is one of the few people who’s never judged me for that. She has chosen the path of forgiveness, so I’m willing to take a page from her book and do the same. But be warned, if any of you hurt her again...you’ll find out just how formidable a Son of the God of the Underworld can be...in this life and the next.”

Nico’s eyes met each one of his new housemates and they all gazed at him with wide-eyed expressions of fear. When his gaze again held that of the blonde wizard next to him, Draco Malfoy bowed his head in contrition. “I believe we all understand,” Draco said softly, “and will take your words to heart.”

“Excellent.” Nico grinned evilly, but his eyes were mischievous as he turned back to his dinner and took another bite of his chicken before speaking again.

“So tell me about Slytherin House. I noticed that the other students didn’t cheer for any of the new students placed here. That sucks.”

Draco nodded and chuckled. “It does, but we’re used to it.”

“Kinda hard to overlook prejudices when other people don’t either, isn’t it?”

Everyone around him nodded at the sage wisdom. “That’s true enough.” The witch Pansy spoke up with a hard edge to her voice.

“So what made you decide to hang out here for the school year?” Blaise asked with interest and Nico’s gaze moved past his shoulder to his cousin, his features softening momentarily while noticing that Mi was laughing and smiling at something Percy was telling her.

“Just seemed like the right thing to do,” Nico admitted, “Percy wasn’t going to leave and neither was Annabeth. Not without Mi, so I stayed. Simple as that.”

“You’re from America?” Goyle said and Nico grinned, snarking back, “Obviously.”

The stunned looks upon everyone’s face were priceless before their entire part of the table erupted in laughter at Nico’s dead on impression of Professor Snape.

After a few moments, and everyone in the Great Hall staring at them in confusion, Theo had to speak up. “You sounded just like our old Head of House.”

Nico smirked and nodded. “Severus Snape.”

The laughter and smiles died down immediately as a few people swallowed uncomfortably. Draco’s curiosity got the better of him as he asked, “You know of our former Head of House?”

Nico nodded. “I know him actually.” The astonished looks were hilarious as everyone gaped openly and whispers could be heard down the Slytherin table.

“How?” Blaise inquired with disbelief.

“I visit my Father from time to time. When Mi told me about Severus Snape, she wanted to make sure he was alright. I checked on him to make her happy.”

“And he is?” Draco asked with what Nico could only describe as cautious hope.

“He’s resting in Elysium. He’s a hero, but from what my Father stated it took a bit of convincing. Apparently your former Head of House is quite stubborn and extremely strong-willed. I believe he called my Father a...dang, what was that name again?”

The wide grins of everyone were knowing, as Theo managed to sputter out, “Dunderhead?”

Nico snapped his fingers and nodded emphatically, “That’s it! Dunderhead!”

The howls of unrestrained laughter rang throughout the Great Hall as everyone watched in amused horror as the entirety of Slytherin House was completely lost in mirth. When Nico finally caught his cousin’s eye, he winked again and she grinned knowingly.

When the laughter died down, Draco decided to ask the question he had been wondering about. “How do you know Granger?”

Nico’s expression was confused so Draco decided to clarify. “It’s just that she’s British and you’re American.”

“Ah, I see where you’re going with this.” Nico took a sip of pumpkin juice and then grimaced in disgust before setting it aside and mumbling “never going to get used to that stuff” before focusing back on the question at hand.

“I met Mi when she came to Camp two summers ago. I believe it was after her fifth year here? Apparently she’s spent every summer since she first came to Hogwarts until the end of her fifth year at Camp and that’s how she and Annabeth have gotten so close. Annabeth has been at camp since she was seven and she and Mi instantly forged a bond. They’re more like sister’s than best friends. Two of the smartest people I know. Brightest Witch of the Age and the Wise One of Camp Half-Blood.”

“Camp Half-Blood?” Theo inquired curiously.

“Hmm, yes. Half God, Half Mortal. In most of our cases we are half God and have what you’d a call Muggle parent, well except for Mi as her mom was a witch. My mother was a famous actress in the 1920’s when she gave birth to both myself and my older sister Bianca. Long story, but we were sent to the Den of the Lotus Eaters to keep us safe from Zeus but we didn’t age. My actual birthday is January 28th, 1924.”

Everyone around the table within hearing distance dropped their utensils in shock as they all stared at the young demigod.

“That’s incredible.” Daphne breathed out in wonder.

“Not so much, but thanks!” Nico grinned and winked playfully, causing Daphne to blush.

“And your sister Bianca?” Inquired Pansy.

Nico’s gaze darkened as he looked away momentarily before answering. “She sacrificed herself on a quest a little over a year ago in the Junkyard of the Gods. She had joined the Hunters of Artemis.”

The looks of astonishment deepened as all the witches and wizards within earshot openly gaped in shock.

“I’m sorry.” Pansy said softly and Nico nodded politely.

“It’s okay. She’s in Elysium and she’s happy. That’s all that matters.”

Draco nodded thoughtfully as he took a sip of his pumpkin juice. “The Prophet mentioned something about another war?”

Nico sighed heavily before answering. “The Titan War. Percy defeated Kronos a few months ago.”

A few more utensils dropped as everyone stared at Nico, some in awe...others in disbelief. Blaise coughed out a bit before speaking. “Uhm, no offense but how was that possible? If I remember my Mythology correctly, didn’t Kronos eat his children and didn’t it take the combined efforts of Zeus, Poseidon and Hades to finally banish their Father to Tartarus?”

Nico grinned widely, impressed by the wizard across from him. “Yes, you’re right. Kronos took over the body of a demigod who had taken a dip in the Styx. Percy had to follow suit to defeat the other demigod to prevent Kronos from rising, which he did.”

“Fuck!” Theo whispered as he looked over his shoulder at the Son of Poseidon who was smiling at Granger and stealing food off her plate. “He survived a dip in the Styx?”

Nico smirked in response. “He did.”

“Merlin!” Theo breathed out in wonder while the other Slytherin’s just seemed unsure of what to say.

After a few moments, Draco spoke up again. “What’s Camp Half-Blood like?”

Nico thought for a moment before he answered. “It’s home in a way for most demigods, at least the ones who can make it to camp without getting killed.”

“Killed?”

“Yep,” Nico bit out with a scowl, “monsters, titans, giants...they can all smell the blood of demigods and have been known to come after us when we’re younger. That’s why demigods make their way to camp, for protection. Once there, many discover they have siblings...some of the Gods are quite prolific in having children. At Camp we have cabins, much like the Houses here. Zeus, Poseidon, Hades of course...but also the children of Athena, Aphrodite, Hermes, Hephaestus, Apollo, Ares, Artemis and Dionysus. Even Hera has her own cabin, but it remains unused as does the cabin of Artemis, except when the Hunters come to stay.”

“So there are other children of the Gods, and many have siblings? Do Percy or Granger have siblings?”

Nico sighed but didn’t feel he was giving away any secrets by sharing the information. “Some time ago there was a Prophecy given by the Oracle of Delphi about a child of the Big Three and the potential fall of Olympus. Percy ended up being the child of the Prophecy and he did save Olympus in the end, but there was some question about whom the child actually was for a time. Zeus, Poseidon and Hades had made a pact long ago not to sire any more demigod children which they had adhered to until recently. However, we knew that the Prophecy didn’t pertain to Mi, because her powers were bound by the Moirai before she came to Hogwarts and her quest here was sanctioned by both of our Father’s. But during another quest a while back, Mi’s younger sister was freed when the Golden Fleece healed the tree she’d been turned into by Zeus. Thalia saved Annabeth’s life as well as another demigod Luke, when they were children as they’d tried to make their way towards camp. They were nearly there when Thalia was mortally wounded by a Cyclops but Zeus saved her before her life force was taken. Mi knew about Thalia, but not that she’d been healed until recently. Thalia is now with the Hunter’s and is the Goddess Artemis’ second-in-command, her lieutenant. Percy has a half-brother Tyson...who is Half God, Half Cyclops.”

“Cyclops? Seriously?” Blaise snickered, but one hard look from Nico had him shutting up instantly.

“Yes and they are very close so I wouldn’t go there if I were you. Not unless you want to anger Percy and trust me when I tell you...you really don’t want to anger Percy.”

Everyone nodded in understanding. “Right, don’t anger Percy.” Mumbled Blaise.

“Kind of like, don’t anger Granger.” Draco groused our petulantly.

“Didn’t she punch you?” Nico grinned and Draco glared at the young demigod with disgust.

“And that’s relevant because?”

“Just curious.” Nico smiled as dessert appeared before them.

Draco sighed. “Yes, your cousin punched me, third year.”

Nico nodded, already knowing the story. “Did you deserve it?”

“Probably.” Draco bit back and everyone laughed at his discomfort.

“Definitely.” Goyle grumbled, earning a heated stare from his friend.

“Don’t sweat it,” Nico said calmly, “everyone deserves a good knock down every once in a while. We all can be jerks when properly motivated.”

Draco smirked and nodded. “True enough.”

“Then Draco must be motivated quite a bit.” Blaise grinned and everyone chuckled but Draco, who just glared angrily at his friend.

“Thanks prat.”

“You’re welcome mate.”

Nico just shook his head. “You know, you guys aren’t exactly how I’d thought you’d be. Not that I’m complaining mind you, it’s just unexpected is all.”

“And what were you expecting?” Pansy asked with an edge to her voice.

“What do they call it here in Britain...stiff upper lip? I mean you’re all from what Mi affectionately terms as the Wizarding Aristocracy. So I suppose I’d thought you’d all be lacking a sense of humor, among other things.”

“We Slytherin’s are loyal to each other.” Theo stated firmly.

“Did Granger really put it that way?” Blaise asked and Nico chuckled and shook his head.

“That was sarcasm, but yeah...she knew this would be where I’d get sorted and she was worried for me. Not that I can’t take care of myself but Mi tends to Mother hen everyone.”

“Like Potter and Weasley.” Draco bit back and everyone nodded.

“Yeah, I’d noticed that too.” Nico volunteered. “She does the same to Percy and I.”

“And Percy allows it?”

Nico’s grin widened for a moment before he spoke. “Percy adores Mi. They may have only spent one summer together, but you’d never know it by watching them. Thalia and Percy? Well, let’s just say they’ve learned to tolerate each other. Relationships between demigods can be difficult a lot of the time but it’s very rare for the children of the Big Three to get along. There’s just something about Mi though that inspires that kind of loyalty and trust.”

“I can understand that.” Draco stated softly, and Nico noticed that Blaise and Theo both gave their friend supportive looks, while the others seemed to appear thoughtful. Daphne even nodded in agreement.

“So what classes are you taking?” Theo inquired with ease, trying to change the subject.

“Divination, Herbology and History of Magic, which was required by your Headmistress. Apparently a ghost teaches it, yes?”

Everyone nodded and Nico grinned. “Mi said something about him being useless, but he refuses to leave his teaching post?”

“Yes, he’s utter rubbish.” Goyle piped up.

“Well, it should be interesting.”

“In what way?” Blake asked.

“You’ll see.” Nico grinned before he took a bite of something called a treacle tart.

Dinner ended relatively soon afterwards and the students all left the Great Hall for their respective dorms, but not before Hermione came over and grabbed Nico’s arm and pulled him away for a private moment. After she was done, Nico returned to his new housemates.

“Everything alright?” Draco questioned, as he watched Granger walk away and join her other cousin to head towards the Gryffindor common room.

“All good.” Nico nodded as he followed the blonde Wizard towards the dungeons.

Chapter Text

When they’d reached the Gryffindor common room, Percy was suitably impressed as he looked around at everything and asked tons of questions. Seamus and Dean were more than happy to show him around as they would be bunking together for the year. Hermione made her way to her dorm room that she was sharing with Ginny, giving her cousin a hug and telling him to behave himself.

She had initially been worried for Nico but watching him over at the Slytherin table and then talking to him briefly after dinner, he seemed to be fitting in just fine. The laughter that had erupted at several points during dinner hadn’t been missed by anyone. It would seem that the Slytherin’s had embraced Nico as one of their own, which she was secretly relieved about. Not that Nico wasn’t capable of taking care of himself, but she still worried for her younger cousin.

The biggest surprise of the evening, besides Percy getting sorted into Gryffindor...was Draco Malfoy. She had watched his interactions with Nico and Draco had appeared to be polite and welcoming, but it had taken her aback seeing him laughing with the other Slytherin’s. She had only ever seen him sneering or smirking...or just plain emotionless. But seeing him laughing, wasn’t something she had ever witnessed in the six years she’d spent watching him. His face had relaxed completely and his normally scowling expression had transformed into something that had made her breath hitch and butterflies swoop in her stomach. She had always known Draco Malfoy was fit, but tonight he’d looked truly handsome. It was extremely disconcerting.

Annabeth had seemed to fit right into Ravenclaw too. Watching her conversing with Padma, Luna and Terry Boot had made Hermione feel better about having her best friend here. Where Nico was a bit of a loner on a good day, Annabeth was far more social and outgoing when she wanted to be. So it was good to see her making friends and feeling comfortable. While Annabeth was extremely bright and cunning, she tended to prefer fighting than academics...but it was a close second.

Percy on the other hand had easily charmed everyone at the Gryffindor table. Seamus and Dean had shared war stories with Percy, while Hermione had just sat there and smiled inwardly at how happy Percy seemed. Percy definitely was the most social of all the demigods and had a good heart underneath all that battle bravado. She just hoped he actually liked the classes he’d be taking. She had hoped that Percy might wish to take Defense with her, but he’d stated firmly that he’d had enough of battle for a while and was just looking forward to having a chill year. She couldn’t fault him for that sentiment at all.

As Hermione emptied her trunk, she thought over the past few months objectively and wondered what she would do once school was over. Would she stay here in London or go back to Camp-Half Blood with her family? She now had family in the States too that she needed to meet, but she honestly didn’t know if she could leave Harry and Ron after everything they’d been through together. It was hard to know what to do.

Sitting down on her bed Hermione sighed heavily and flopped back onto her mattress, staring at the ceiling. It was a few moments later she heard Ginny come into their room and sit down on the bed next to hers.

“Hey.” Hermione said as she turned her head to face her friend.

“You okay?”

“Just weird being here without Ron and Harry.”

“I get that too,” Ginny admitted quietly, “but you have your cousin’s and Annabeth. They all seem like they care for you a great deal.”

Hermione nodded. “And I care for them too. Some mornings when I wake up I have to pinch myself to remind me that this isn’t all a dream. That I can finally be myself and not have to hide who I really am anymore.”

“I can’t imagine how difficult that must’ve been for you.”

Shrugging with a lot more casualness than she felt at the moment, Hermione just said, “Thankfully it’s behind me and I can just sit back and enjoy my last year at a Hogwarts.”

Ginny gave her friend a curious look before she smirked. “You know, I think you have several admirers.”

Hermione’s eyes widened in confusion while Ginny just giggled. “What are you talking about Gin?”

“You were so absorbed with Percy at dinner you failed to notice all the interested stares coming your way.”

Hermione groaned, not liking where this conversation was heading. “Don’t care Gin.”

“Really?” The tone of Ginny’s voice indicated she didn’t quite believe her denial. “So you wouldn’t care if a certain platinum blonde headed ferret of a slimy snake couldn’t keep his eyes off you throughout dinner.”

Hermione knew her expression was completely comical if Ginny’s laughter was any indication.

“You should see yourself right now Hermione,” Ginny bit out in glee, “you look both equally horrified and intrigued. It’s definitely an interesting combination.”

“Oh, shut it you!” Hermione groused out as she turned her head and stared back and the ceiling, not wanting to see the smug look on the other witch’s face.

“You know we’ve never talked about it, but I’m not as blind nor stupid as my boyfriend or idiot brother,” Ginny admitted quietly, “and it didn’t exactly escape my notice how you’ve watched Malfoy over the years...prejudiced git or not.”

Hermione didn’t know what to say to that, so she just kept silent. After a moment she heard Ginny sigh softly before her voice filtered throughout their room. It was sympathetic, without being judgmental which Hermione greatly appreciated.

“Look Hermione, I don’t claim to understand why you’ve fancied the git as he was horrible to you. Godric, he was vile to everyone. But I do know a thing or two about Slytherin’s in general. Being possessed by Tom Riddle gave me an up close look at how their minds work. I know Draco Malfoy isn’t Voldemort, but he’s not exactly a good guy either.”

Hermione’s head turned back over to her friend and she sighed sadly. “Did I ever tell you about Luke Castellan?”

Ginny’s face blanched at the change of subject as she shook her head in the negative.

Gathering her thoughts, Hermione decided to start from the beginning. “When I went to Camp Half-Blood for the first time the summer after my first year here at Hogwarts, I met Annabeth and another demigod Luke. He was a couple years older than me, a Son of Hermes. He was funny, smart and a warrior through and through. A natural born leader amongst those at Camp. He and Annabeth had been friends since they were younger, as they had made their way to Camp together along with my half-sister Thalia.”

Ginny let out a surprised breath. “I didn’t know you had a sister?”

“It’s a long story, which I’ll share with you some other time...” Ginny nodded so Hermione continued on with her tale.... “When I met Luke we didn’t much like each other at first. He was arrogant, too cocky for his own good, gorgeous, stubborn and had an edge to him I could never quite figure out. Remind you of anyone we know?”

Ginny nodded sadly. “Malfoy.”

“Got it in one,” Hermione admitted resignedly, “but it didn’t stop me from wanting to know more about him. Each summer I’d return to Camp and Luke would be there waiting. When I went back to camp the end of fifth year, after what happened in the Department of Mysteries...I was near death. Percy was at camp by then, Nico too....but so was Luke. Luke had changed that summer. Gone was the young boy who was easygoing and funny and in his place was someone angry with the world; but still as smart, fierce and beautiful as ever. While I was nursed back to health, Luke begged me to tell him what had happened and when I didn’t he became even angrier. The last time I saw him, he told me that he had something big planned that would make everything right again and that I would never have to be used at the whim of the Gods ever again. He kissed me and then I left back for Britain the next day. I had hoped when my quest was done, that we would find our way back to each other, but it didn’t happen. Sixth year, watching Malfoy was like watching Luke all over again. But instead of Luke’s anger, I saw a Malfoy whither away into a shadow of his former self. It pulled at something deep inside me that I couldn’t define...didn’t want to frankly. When the war ended and I found out that Luke had died and what he’d done...”

Hermione shook her head and felt tears welling up behind her eyes as she valiantly tried to hold them back.

“That’s why you testified for Malfoy, wasn’t it?”

Hermione nodded sadly. “It was one of the reasons, yes.”

“And the others?”

“I’m still trying to figure that out Ginny.”

“Is this guilt, or are you projecting Luke onto Malfoy because I have to tell you Hermione...you can’t save everyone especially if they don’t want to be saved.”

“I know that Gin.”

Ginny nodded before she looked away deep in thought. After a few moments she inquired softly, “Did you love Luke?”

Hermione’s gaze locked with her own and Ginny saw the truth behind her friend’s amber eyes. So it wasn’t a surprise when Hermione whispered out an agonized, “Yes.”

“Were you in love with him?”

“Honestly, that’s what I was trying to figure out. What I felt for Luke wasn’t like what I feel for Harry or even Ron, it was completely different.”

“What about Malfoy?”

“I don’t know what I feel for Draco Malfoy right now except confusion and attraction. Beyond that, I’m not sure what it all means, because everything is just so muddled in my mind and my heart.”

“I can respect that.” Ginny said kindly.

“Thanks Gin.”

“Not a problem. Besides, Malfoy’s fit...even I can see that.”

“Merlin! Not you too!”

Ginny snickered at Hermione’s disgusted look. “Who else has said that?”

“Annabeth! We ran into Malfoy in Diagon Alley at Flourish and Blotts. She indicated as much.”

“I thought she and Percy were together?”

“Oh they are, but it doesn’t mean...and I quote ‘that I can’t admit that the boy is fit’ endquote.”

Ginny howled out in laughter and Hermione just giggled along with her friend.

“Well, for the record Hermione, Percy Jackson is more than fit.”

“Gin! That’s my cousin you’re talking about!”

“So, I’m having sex with your pseudo brother...what’s the problem?”

Hermione put her hands over her ears and started chanting ‘laalalala’ while Ginny just grinned at her friend’s discomfort. After a few more moments Ginny just rolled her eyes and grabbed her towels to head towards the prefects bathroom, leaving Hermione alone with her thoughts.

Elsewhere in the castle, Nico was being shown through the Slytherin Dungeons by the same blonde wizard his cousin was discussing currently.

“This is pretty cool.” Nico admitted at the decor of the common room. It’s rich tapestries and stone sconces and hearth, sort of reminded him of his Father’s palace in the Underworld. A fact he commented on.

“Really?” Draco queried with interest.

“Mmhmm,” Nico replied, “well except for my step-mother Persephone and the Hell hounds of course.”

Draco swallowed and nodded, remembering the large Hell hound that had come when Granger had called it.

“Are all Hell hounds as friendly as the one I saw that day?” Draco asked politely and Nico snickered and shook his head.

“Uhm, no. Mrs. O’Leary is a special case.”

“I see.” Draco said, although he didn’t exactly understand and it didn’t seem that Nico was going to clarify either.

“So where will I be bunking down?”

“You’ll be in the fifth year dorms.”

“Sounds good.” Nico nodded. “And thanks for showing me around.”

“It was my pleasure.”

Nico nodded again and made his way into his dorm room, leaving Draco alone within his thoughts until Blaise and Theo came looking for him. When they’d noticed Draco sitting by the fireplace on the far side of the common room, they were quick to join him.

“Hey mate.” Blaise said as he sat down across from his friend, who looked lost in his own thoughts.

“Blaise,” Draco nodded and then acknowledged Theo, “can I help you both?”

“Actually,” Blaise offered, “we came out to see if you were okay.”

“I’m fine Blaise.”

“You’re not,” Blaise snorted defiantly, “Your entire world just got upended this summer, mate.”

Draco sneered openly as his friend, who just stared back at him in challenge. After a few moments Draco just rolled his eyes before speaking. “What do you want me to say?”

“How about something along the lines of that the witch you’ve been secretly obsessed with since third year is not whom you thought she was?”

Draco actually snarled at his friend before casting a series of spells to keep unwanted listeners from eavesdropping on their conversation.

“What do you want me to say, hmmm? What can I ever say to justify my actions? I taunted her, called her that vile name and guess what? The jokes on me because she was never a Muggle-born! She’s a fucking DEMIGOD!” Draco threw his head back and laughed in a way that had both his friends cringing at their best mate. After a moment Draco shook his head before dropping it into both hands and leaning forward in defeat. When Draco’s gaze lifted, both wizards could see how haunted Draco’s eyes were in that moment.

“She’s a fucking demigod,” Draco whispered in agony, “a Daughter of the most powerful of the Gods. You all saw what happened tonight! Merlin! How in the world am I ever going to make it right with her? Get her to see that I’m not some hateful git, when that’s exactly who I was for six years. I watched her get tortured in my own home! Fuck!”

Draco dropped his head again, his breathing ragged as he silently raged at the unfairness of everything.

Theo sighed, and decided to speak up. “Draco, Hermione testified for you. Why do you think she did that? I mean come on? If she hated you, she would’ve let you rot in Azkaban but she didn’t!”

“That’s because she is a good person and I’m not.” Draco mumbled in defeat.

“You were protecting your mother, mate.” Blaise offered helpfully. “It wasn’t like you had a choice in the matter.”

“Yet I had a choice to not torment her, call her a mudblood...” Draco’s voice fell away as he rubbed his hands down his face in anguish.

“Yeah, well you weren’t the only one.” Theo stated softly.

Draco’s grey eyes blazed with anger as he glared at his friend’s. “No shit, Theo! Doesn’t excuse it though, does it?”

“No, it doesn’t but then what would old Lucius have done if you hadn’t done exactly what you did? Or worse yet, your grandfather Abraxas?”

Draco shuddered, remembering how hateful his grandfather was up until he died before fourth year. The whole Basilisk incident had been Abraxas’ idea from the start and his father had followed along, as he’d always done, because he couldn’t stand up to his own Father. Like father, like son.

“Probably would’ve beat me worse than he did for being second in our year behind Granger.”

Theo nodded. “We all had to deal with that shite, mate. Doesn’t make it any better to try and justify, but it is what it is. You’re now free to an extent. We’re all on a form of probation but you and Goyle got the worst of it. I’m surprised they didn’t throw Goyle in Azkaban.”

Draco sighed but nodded in understanding. While Draco hadn’t killed anyone, Goyle had. If Draco’s own Father had been a Muggle hater, Goyle Sr. was ten times worse. The memories that Greg had given the Wizengamot during his trial had been enough for them to see that there hadn’t been a choice for Greg, not if he’d wanted to forego his own father’s form of torture and punishment. Goyle Sr. had been given a life sentence in Azkaban, and Goyle had been put on probation and wand restrictions for five years. Half of the Goyle fortune had been confiscated by the Ministry for reparations but Greg hadn’t cared at all. After Vince had died, he hadn’t been the same.

“We all got screwed Theo, but karma has a way of exacting it’s own form of payment.”

“True enough, but you have a second chance to make things right,” Theo implored, “and for whatever reason, the fates have given you an opportunity to do so. Don’t tell me that Draco Malfoy, Slytherin Prince can’t make the most out of that opportunity?”

“You do realize mate, that Granger could kill me dead in a blink of an eye?”

“Well, I didn’t say it wouldn’t be challenging...but what’s life without a little risk?”

Draco smirked at his friend’s optimism. “I just think you want to see me struck dead.”

“Nah, but I have to tell you? Granger was getting a lot of interested looks from many a wizard tonight at dinner. Not that I think she cares one whit about such things, but perhaps you might start with a sincere apology and a bit of groveling.”

“Malfoy’s don’t grovel.”

“The witch you want is a demigod, or do I need to remind you of that fact?”

“No, I’m pretty clear on that aspect Theo.”

“Then I suggest you do your soul searching quickly and make haste because if our new housemates words were anything to go by once NEWTS are done there’s a really good chance Granger’s going to head back across the pond, perhaps permanently. How would you feel if that happened?”

The look on Draco’s face told both Theo and Blaise exactly what he thought about that idea.

Chapter Text

The next morning schedules were handed out by the respective Heads of each House and Nico had taken the parchment from a large rotund man called Professor Slughorn with a polite nod of thanks. As he silently ate his breakfast, he was amazed when a plethora of owls started swooping down to deliver packages and mail to the student body. As he looked up briefly from his food, he smirked when he noticed Mi getting a letter, probably from Harry.

His eyes scanned his table briefly and took note of who got correspondence and who didn’t. The blonde wizard, Draco Malfoy had gotten a small package and a note. His face was stoic when he’d read the letter but changed to a softer expression when he’d opened the small parcel that looked like it was full of sweets. The dark-skinned wizard Blaise Zabini, also received an owl with a letter. His look of surprise was somewhat comical, as if he wasn’t expecting said letter. Theodore Nott, the thoughtful wizard who seemed rather quiet but definitely had a an edge to him, didn’t get any mail nor did Gregory Goyle. The two witches from last evening, Pansy and Daphne had both received mail.

Nico went back to his breakfast before he heard someone next to him clear their throat, obviously trying to get his attention. When he gazed up, it was to the smiling face of Blaise Zabini.

“So, what’s your schedule?”

Nico grabbed his parchment again and gave it a quick once over before replying. “I have Divination today first thing, Herbology tomorrow morning and History of Magic in the afternoon tomorrow.”

“Are you going to be taking classes with the fifth years?”

Nico shrugged. “I think your Headmistress is putting us all in the same level classes. I think she said something about OWL level, so would that be fifth year?”

They all nodded. “Well, Mi did work with us this summer to help prepare us for some of these classes.”

Draco chuckled and Nico gave him an even look. “Even Divination?”

Nico smiled, realizing what the blonde was getting at. “Yeah, even Divination. Apparently it’s a wooly subject with no value whatsoever but then again, Mi never has subscribed to prophecies and the like.”

“Now see, that I find that odd,” Theo admitted quietly, “I mean, it’s fairly well known in mythology that the Greeks believed highly in oracles and prophecies, so I’m surprised Hermione has such a distaste for it.”

“You’d have to ask her as to the why, she’s never really explained it to me.”

At that moment, Annabeth came over and sat down next to Nico, ignoring all the surprised stares she was getting.

Nico smirked at his friend and then said sarcastically, “Are you supposed to be over here, Wise One?”

Looking up at all the confused and frankly, angry stares she was getting Annabeth scoffed loudly before grabbing Nico’s class schedule and smiling when she saw that they had Divination and History of Magic together.

“Cool, we have two classes together.”

“Cool.” Nico mocked and earned a smack on his arm from Annabeth as her grey eyes bored into his dark ones.

“Don’t be a jerk.”

“Moi?”

“Gods, you’re such a pain. Meet me outside the Hall when you’re done and we can go to class together. Mi told me where it is.”

“I don’t need a babysitter Annabeth.”

“No, you need a better personality and a haircut. But we can’t all get what we want. Outside the Hall, fifteen minutes. Don’t make me come hunting you down and no shadow travel!”

Nico dropped his forehead onto the table with a clang, listening to all his newfound classmates chuckling. “Did Mi put you up to this?” He mumbled in irritation.

“Moi?” Annabeth snarked, before she gave everyone a bright smile and sauntered back over to the Ravenclaw table. When Nico finally lifted his head, he immediately caught Mi’s gaze and her smile was playful as she winked at him causing him to groan in exasperation. Fucking cousin!

He then watched as Mi and Percy stood up and walked just outside the Hall, talking to another wizard Nico hadn’t met. Percy then walked off with the kid and Mi walked back to her seat to grab her bag before heading back out. Nico was a bit surprised to notice that Draco Malfoy seemed to be watching his cousin rather closely. His expression however didn’t appear threatening nor hostile, it appeared almost sad and defeated. That was interesting. However his musings were interrupted when Theo asked, “What’s shadow travel?”

“All Shadows are part of the same substance. There is only one darkness and the creatures of the underworld can use it as a road, or a door of sorts. It allows me as a Son of Hades to travel anywhere in the world, or Underworld. But, it can be extremely tiring as the farther you travel the more exhausting it is.”

“That’s wicked!” Theo grinned. “What’s the farthest you’ve ever gone?”

“China.” Nico replied with a smirk. “Passed out for a week afterwards, although to be fair it was my first time doing it. I’ve gotten a bit better but you have to be careful. The more you do it, the more you lose contact with the real world.”

Everyone nodded and then Nico grabbed his book bag and stood. “I probably should get going, before Annabeth comes back.”

This caused a few more snickers and Nico noticed that many of the students from other houses were openly staring at him as he made his way outside the Great Hall. When he got there, Annabeth was waiting for him and she quickly made her way over and gestured for him to walk with her.

“Where we going?” Nico asked, only slightly annoyed.

“North Tower, apparently that’s where the class is located.”

“Joy.”

Annabeth snickered before her voice grew serious. “You seem to be getting on well with your new classmates?”

Nico sighed but then nodded. “They’ve all been nice. I think the blonde Malfoy has a crush on Mi.”

Annabeth just hummed, not commenting on the statement which Nico found odd. Annabeth always had an opinion about everything.

“So, are you excited for classes?” Annabeth asked causing Nico to scoff and roll his eyes at the not so subtle diversion.

“Fine, don’t tell me what’s going on but if I don’t know I can’t help.”

Annabeth gave Nico a shoulder bump as they walked up the stairs towards the North Tower. “It’s really not my place to share Nico. I think Mi just has some things to work out for herself.”

“Is this because of Luke?”

Annabeth stopped in her tracks and stared at Nico, who’s smirk was playful even if his eyes betrayed the worry he was feeling.

“I’m sure Luke has something to do with this,” she admitted, “I think Mi was pretty devastated when she found out about Luke’s death and what happened.”

Nico nodded. “He’s asked about her you know?”

“Luke?”

“Yeah, Mi asked me to check on someone for her this summer in the Underworld. He was her former teacher and when I was there I saw Luke.”

Annabeth’s expression was floored. “Did you tell her?”

Nico shook his head. “How would you recommend I have that conversation oh Wise One?”

Annabeth scoffed but didn’t speak up right away and didn’t comment again until their class was over. “What did Luke ask?”

“He wanted to know if she was okay and if she’d asked about him.”

“And what do you tell him?”

“The truth, mostly.”

“How did he take it?”

“How do you think he took it? I think he didn’t realize until after he sacrificed himself just what he’d given up or at least the chance of what he’d given up. I spoke with Father, and apparently he has a rather soft spot for Mi after everything she did to fulfill the vow he required, and indicated if she asked it of him he’d allow Luke to return.”

Annabeth gasped in shock. “Are you going to tell her?”

“I’m not sure. Luke still has the choice to come back or not. I don’t think Mi couldn’t handle him not choosing her twice, you know?”

Annabeth nodded sadly, agreeing with Nico’s assessment of the situation. As much as she’d cared for Luke, there was still a bit of wariness that he would really be capable of change and Mi deserved someone who was willing to put her first and be there for her.

“Well, for whatever it’s worth I won’t say anything unless you want me to.”

“I appreciate that.”

The two of them walked back to the main level where Annabeth left Nico so she could head down to the Runes classroom.

Nico watched her go and sighed heavily not noticing someone eyeing him until the person fell in step with him.

“How was your first class?”

Nico turned his head to see Theo Nott smiling down at him.

“It was interesting.”

Theo chuckled. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone call Trelawny interesting. Barmy, batty, insane...yes. Interesting, no.”

Nico grinned. “She’s different but she actually does have a latent talent for her chosen subject. She just tries to hard.”

Theo appeared thoughtful before he replied, “I guess I can see that.” Theo looked down and saw that Nico was holding onto his wand. “Nice wand.”

“Thanks. Seems to like me well enough which is surprising.”

“Why?” Theo asked in confusion.

“Most magical creatures don’t tend to do well around children of Hades. Wands are sentient magical creatures in a way. They have certain instincts and as such would tend to not want to be associated with someone like me, but my wand seems to like me.”

“That’s intriguing.” Theo admitted. “I guess I’ve never really thought of wands as being sentient creatures. But it does make sense. Ollivander always made a point of telling us the wand chooses the wizard or witch.”

“Or demigod.” Nico chuckled. “We all got new wands. I’m finding that I wished I would’ve picked a few other classes but I don’t know how it would go over me taking Defense against the Dark Arts.”

This got a genuine laugh from Theo as he nodded in understanding. “I can see how that might be an issue.”

“You think?”

“Where are you headed now?”

“Common room, I’m going to read up a bit before class tomorrow.”

“Okay, well enjoy your study time.”

“Sure, you too.” Nico moved down towards the Slytherin Common Room, not noticing the interested stare following him from Theo Nott.

Chapter Text

Percy’s first class that morning was Potions and he was currently in the dungeon sitting next to the student that Mi had introduced him to, Dennis Creevey.

Apparently according to Mi, Dennis lost his older brother Colin in the Battle that had taken place here just a few months ago. The young kid seemed a bit subdued, but polite enough as he was to be Percy’s shadow in their shared classes of Potions and Care of Magical Creatures later on that day.

Looking around the darkened classroom, Percy took in the work tables and stations at each one. The cauldrons, measuring items, scales, burners, gloves and smaller items like knives, sticks and tweezer like things were arranged on a wooden rack for each student to use at their stations. Percy had spent a bit of time reading through his Potions text, and surprisingly he seemed to grasp the concept rather easily.

Children of Poseidon were fairly intuitive when it came to certain things, and making potions at Camp Half-Blood has been one of them. It had surprised Percy because he’d never been a good student and things that required book smarts weren’t his thing, obviously. He was excellent in battle, good with a sword but sucked at school. When Mi had asked him about taking Defense class, he had been intrigued but honestly didn’t want to spend his time learning how to fight, he’d thought he’d had enough of that but now he was kinda regretting it. His wand seemed to think so too, which had been odd. Percy could feel the thing humming in his pocket almost like it was trying to communicate with him. When he’d walked past one of the rooms on the way down here the thing had practically vibrated out of his pants, and Percy had to stop and take it out. When he looked up, Dennis had given him an odd look but asked if he was alright. Percy had shrugged and stared down at his wand which was humming happily in his hand. When he went to continue walking down the hall, Percy had felt this overwhelming desire to walk into one of the classrooms on his left but he’d ignored it and had placed his wand back into his pants pocket. When he’d asked Dennis what the classroom was they’d just walked past, the younger wizard had mentioned it was the Defense classroom.

So now Percy was in Potions and a man named Slughorn was giving them their instructions for the morning. They were to discuss the proper uses of moonstone as well as write an essay on how to properly brew Strengthening Solution.

“So,” Slughorn said in his jovial voice, “it would seem we have a guest here in our class today. Percy Jackson, welcome welcome.”

Percy nodded, while all the other students turned and stared at him.

“Mr. Jackson, could you tell us what one of the proper uses of moonstone might be?”

“Uhm, it’s an ingredient in the Draught of Peace and I think it’s also used in love Potions?”

Slughorn smiled widely and boomed, “Excellent work Mr. Jackson. Five points to Gryffindor.”

Slughorn then went to the front of the room and the piece of chalk next to the board lifted and started writing as he spoke.

“The Draught of Peace is a potion that relieves anxiety and agitation. Can anyone tell me the three other ingredients that are found in this potion?”

Percy noticed another student from Nico’s house Slytherin raise her hand. “It also contains syrup of hellbore, powdered porcupine quills and powdered unicorn horn.”

“Excellent Miss Greengrass, five points to Slytherin.” Slughorn smiled at his student before waddling over to the front part of the classroom where several cauldrons were placed. He then opened one and gestured the students to come over one at a time.

“As you can see, Draught of Peace has a very distinctive shade of turquoise blue when brewed properly. Despite having only four ingredients, the potion is a bit tricky to brew so we won’t be doing that today but you will be required to write a fifteen inch parchment on all the ingredients, other applications and potential side effects if brewed incorrectly. For this assignment you will be paired up with a partner. Let’s see...”

He pulled out a piece of parchment and nodded to himself as he read off the list of names. When he came to Percy he smiled and then said that his partner would be Astoria Greengrass, who was apparently the same girl who had answered the question correctly earlier.

Dennis nodded to him and then moved over to where he was partnered with another Gryffindor while Astoria came over and smiled brightly at him.

“Hello.”

“Hey.” Percy said politely, noticing immediately that the young witch looked quite a bit like Annabeth. Blonde hair, grayish blue eyes.

“Have you ever brewed Potions before?” Astoria inquired softly and Percy nodded.

“Back at home.”

“Oh, well that’s helpful then. Uhm, since were working on this together, when would you like to get together to do homework?”

Percy thought about this for a moment, then shrugged. “I’m not sure honestly. I have class this afternoon, then another tomorrow afternoon.”

“What other classes are you taking?”

“History of Magic and Care of Magical Creatures.”

“Do you have Magical Creatures this afternoon?”

Percy nodded and Astoria smiled again brightly. “Well, we are in that class together so if you’re free after dinner tonight, we could get started on the assignment in the library?”

Percy just nodded dumbly as he didn’t know what else to do. “What time?”

“How about seven?”

“Sounds good.”

The Bell then rang and Percy gathered up his stuff and placed it into the book bag that Mi had charmed to hold everything and be feather lite. He did the gentlemanly thing and opened to the door for Astoria, which earned him another bright smile before Dennis caught up with him and they made their way back towards the Great Hall and lunch.

When he got to the Hall, he noticed Annabeth and Mi waiting for him. He quickly walked over and gave his cousin a long suffering look. “Uhm, would it be too late to add a class?”

Hermione’s expression was a bit perplexed but she shrugged. “I don’t know, why? What were you thinking?”

Percy sighed. “Defense actually. Apparently my wand seems to think I need to take the class or something. It was nearly vibrating as we walked past the classroom earlier.”

Hermione’s expression was intrigued as she thought about the request. “Let me go ask Professor McGonagall. Defense for Fifth Years isn’t until Wednesday morning so it might be okay.”

“Cool, thanks Mi.”

“Sure Percy. Why doesn’t you two head in for lunch and I’ll meet you at the table in a bit okay?”

Percy nodded and watched his cousin move towards the staircase, clearly heading somewhere else in the castle. Annabeth just gave him a wry smile.

“Defense, huh?”

“Apparently.”

“What happened to having a chill year?”

“Not in the cards?”

Annabeth grinned before her expression sobered. “Just be careful Seaweed Brain. These wizards don’t have anywhere near the power you and Mi have. She’s had far longer to control her magic.”

“But not her Godly powers, Annabeth.”

“True. Have you two talked about that at all?”

“Not much.”

Annabeth nodded in understanding. “So how was your class this morning?”

“Fine. I got partnered with a girl from Nico’s house, Astoria something or another. Seems nice enough. We are going to study in the library tonight at seven. Come join us?”

Annabeth nodded, then she bumped her shoulder playfully into her boyfriend’s. “Nico and I had an interesting class. He seems to be doing okay with his new housemates.”

“Not surprised, actually. Nico is far more social then he likes to think he is.”

“Don’t say that in front of him.”

Percy grinned. “Probably a good idea.”

The two made their way into the Great Hall with Percy walking Annabeth to her table before making his way over to the Gryffindor table. Mi joined him not too long after with news that he would be able to add Defense to his schedule. After Nico came into the Hall, they all plated their food then went to the hearth that was still burning near the Headmistress’ table and made their offerings to the Gods.

When Percy sat back down next to Mi he felt someone’s eyes on him and as he looked up he caught the stare of grey from across the hall. When he caught Nico’s gaze, his cousin just rolled his eyes and smirked knowingly causing Percy to shake his head in disgust before taking a bite of his cottage pie and chewing it thoughtfully.

“You okay?” Mi’s voice seemed a bit hesitant and Percy just nodded before giving her his attention.

“I feel like I should be asking you that question.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you.” Percy took a sip of his pumpkin juice before he gathered his courage. “You’ve had a lot of changes recently Mi. It’s fair to think you might be having a bit of a tough time. You can talk to me you know? I’m not Harry...”

Mi’s hand gripped his arm in reassurance and she smiled at him fondly. “No, but that doesn’t mean I don’t trust you Percy. We’re family. I know we didn’t have much time to spend together two years ago, but I treasured that time. It made me feel like someone really saw me for the first time. You didn’t need me to save you or plan something out for you. You just were there and accepted me.”

Percy grinned at his cousin who was simply put, the kindest person he’d ever met.

“That’s because I do accept you.”

“I hope you’ll always feel that way.”

“Mi, I don’t claim to understand everything there is about magic. The Gods only know that after everything we’ve both been through we deserve a break, right? But we’re demigods, and that isn’t necessarily our life. Annabeth gets it because she’s right in the thick of it with me but I know it’s different for you. Maybe if Luke had made a different choice you might’ve had that too-but he’s gone. I know you better than you think I do and I see more than Annabeth gives me credit for. There’s a certain wizard who’s been watching you ever since we stepped foot into the Hall last night and if I had to hazard a guess? Many of your friends might not understand what you see in the jerk, am I right?”

Mi blushed deeply but nodded once before bowing her head in shame. Percy wasn’t having any of that as he tilted her face up and noticed her eyes glistening with tears. Shaking his head, he just gave her a genuine smile and said, “Whatever you choose and whoever that is, I’ll support you because I just want you to be happy. But know this Mi, if anyone tries to hurt you again they’ll have to deal with me, understand?”

Mi enveloped him into a fierce hug and he felt her nod into his neck. “I understand.” She pulled back and smiled shakily at him. “Thank you Percy.”

“That’s what Family is for, right?”

She nodded again and went back to silently eating her lunch. When Percy glanced up again, he noticed Nico’s worried gaze and he shook his head at his younger cousin, silently telling him now was not the time. Nico nodded and went back to his lunch. When Percy’s gaze landed on the blonde wizard who was watching him closely, Percy’s gaze darkened as he sent out his power in warning, noticing the wizard’s eyes widening when he realized just what was happening. Percy then smirked and nodded once before he went back to his lunch.

At the Slytherin table Draco heard Nico chuckle next to him, and couldn’t help but turn to face the young demigod with a wary look. Nico, not even looking in his direction said lowly, “That’s the only warning your going to get and the only concession from Percy.” Nico’s dark gaze did then meet his and Draco could feel the cold power radiating from the young demigod. “Just because we aren’t as magical as Mi, doesn’t mean we don’t see things.”

Draco’s first instinct was to deny it, but Nico just shook his head in warning. “Look, you’ve been pretty decent and I can tell you regret hurting my cousin.” Nico’s voice was so low, only Draco could hear him. “I’m not sure what Mi’s feelings are but I’m going to do you a solid for a moment, okay?”

Draco then nodded and waited with bated breath at what was coming next.

“If Percy felt the need to warn you then Mi probably has some kind of feelings for you. She is probably confused and isn’t sure how or if she wants to act upon them. She will probably electrocute me for telling you this, but there was someone. Someone she cared for a lot.”

Draco swallowed uncomfortably at the admission. “Another demigod?”

Nico nodded. “A Son of Hermes.”

“What happened to him?”

“He died.”

Draco nodded once before asking, “How?

Nico’s dark gaze locked onto his before he spoke out in a harsh voice, “He was the demigod Kronos possessed. He was the one...”

Draco nodded again, not needing Nico to complete that train of thought. But there was once question he needed to know. “Was Granger in love with him?”

Nico shrugged, but he didn’t answer. Draco then asked, “Was he in love with her?”

Nico just stared at his plate for a second before he spoke out softly, “Yes.” Nico was silent for a minute before he gave Draco back his undivided attention. “Yet it didn’t stop him from making bad decisions and wrong choices. Sound like someone else you know?”

Draco didn’t reply, but he didn’t need to. Nico was fairly certain he’d gotten his message across.

Chapter Text

Hermione had NEWT Potions that afternoon with Slughorn. As she made her way to class, she found herself a bit distracted. Her conversation with Percy had been surprising, in a good way. Percy had always been fairly accepting and easy-going, she had known that from the first time they’d met in the infirmary at Camp-Half Blood. He’d come into the tent after they’d played ‘capture the flag’ and he had won for his team. Luke’s team. He’d taken some hits, but had healed himself and had come into the infirmary to check on a few of his teammates.

She’d been in and out of consciousness for about three days when she’d gotten to Camp according to Annabeth. Luke had visited daily, and that was where Percy had found him when he’d come into the infirmary. According to Luke, Percy had been surprised to know he’d had a cousin and soon he was coming with Luke and sitting with her while she took her Potions and ambrosia until she’d healed well enough that she was released back to her cabin.

From there a tentative friendship was born and then a familial bond. Percy was easy to like, and despite having the weight of a potential life altering prophecy hanging over his head, he was never moody like Harry nor prone to rash decisions. At least not at that time, but since learning all the things that had transpired after she’d left camp two years ago, Hermione had to admit that Percy and Harry were very similar in a lot of ways. It was the hero complex, combined with the rash Gryffindor bravery and unswerving loyalty to those they cared about. Although the last one was more Percy than Harry, but still....

When she made her way into the Potions classroom, there was several empty seats but she decided to sit towards the back today. She wasn’t really in the mood to call attention to herself. After a few minutes the class started filling up and when someone’s book bag settled on the seat next to hers, Hermione looked up to the questioning expression of Draco Malfoy. Her own countenance must’ve given something away he didn’t like, because he went to move his stuff and before she could second guess her motivation, she cleared her throat and got his attention.

“You’re more than welcome to sit here, Malfoy.”

Draco’s eyebrows shot up into his hairline for a split second before he nodded and retook the seat just as the bell rang. Professor Slughorn waddled out of his office and clapped his hands together in excitement.

“Welcome back NEWT students! This year we will be perfecting on what we’ve learned in sixth year. Each group will be assigned one of the Potions you worked on last year and will have the entire term to come up with a potential way to improve upon the potion. Some of these potions are fairly difficult, while others may be less complex but will require more extensive research due to the amount of ingredients that need to be sourced. The potions are as follows: Wiggenweld Potion, Amortentia, Polyjuice Potion, Shrinking Solution, Draught of Living Death, Felix Felicis, Wit-Sharpening Potion and lastly Wolfsbane. Now as you know, the final potion on this list is one that we’ve not learnt to brew in class but that being said, I do believe that there are a handful of students within this class who not only possess the talent for it, but could theoretically improve upon it. You will be required, with your lab partner, to source all your own ingredients. This will require some planning research as there are several strains of different ingredients and you will need to determine how and where you will source these. Secondly, you will be required to do a term report of no less than 50 inches on your abstract, methods, data and finally conclusion of your potion experiments throughout the term. Finally, Lab notebooks will need to be turned in unaltered for full credit and a final oral presentation given in class.”

Slughorn clapped his hands together and then proceeded to call out the names of the partners he’d assigned for each potion. When it came to the final one, Hermione’s breath caught when the Professor called out her name along with Malfoy’s and by the slight stiffening of his body, he was surprised too.

“I will expect an outline by the end of the next period and you will need to, once you’ve determined where you’re going to source your ingredients, to let me know. I may be able to help you or at least lead you in the proper direction. Any questions?”

When no one said anything, Professor Slughorn moved around the room handing out the parchment outline for this project. When he got to the back, he smiled brightly.

“Ah, Miss Dagworth-Granger! I hope you and Mr. Malfoy are up to the challenge I’ve placed upon you. My two brightest students it shouldn’t be too challenging, yes?”

Hermione took the outline and nodded. “I’m hoping not, Sir.”

“Good, good. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to come and find me, yes? As I’m sure you’re aware, I’m starting the Slug Club again soon and I would expect to see you there Miss Dagworth-Granger.”

Hermione groaned inside, but outside she just smiled politely and nodded again. “Of course Professor, I wouldn’t miss it.”

“Excellent! I’m sure you both will do outstanding work on this!”

He moved away and Hermione couldn’t help but shake her head slightly at how some things never changed. When she turned to face Draco, he was watching her with a patronizing smirk on his face.

“Wipe that look off your face Malfoy. I couldn’t actually tell the man ‘no,’ now could I?”

Malfoy snickered but didn’t respond as he gestured to the outline in her hand. “How do you want to do this?”

Hermione just stared at Malfoy dumbfounded for a minute until she shook her head clear and gripped the parchment in her hand like it was some proverbial life line.

“Uhm, I suppose we could set up a study schedule?”

Draco was amused by how unsure Granger seemed to be, but deciding to press his good fortune for the moment, he asked, “What other classes are you taking?”

“Oh, well I’m taking Arithmancy, Runes, Defense, Care of Magical Creatures, Charms, and Transfiguration.”

“Well, I’m in all those classes but Runes as I’m taking Herbology so I suppose we could try and meet on Wednesday and Friday evenings after dinner? I’m not sure what the sourcing will require, but I’m sure as we figure that out we might have to meet on the weekends too.”

Hermione nodded absently, as she perused her planner. After a moment she nodded a bit more firmly. “I think those nights are fine.”

Draco smirked. “Do you have Hagrid’s class after this?”

She nodded, then asked. “You?”

Draco nodded in return. “I have Charms, Herbology and Transfiguration tomorrow. Defense and Arithmancy Wednesday.”

“So it seems we have a few classes together.”

Draco grinned. “So it would seem.” He confirmed before deciding to change tactics. “Your cousin Nico is a fairly interesting bloke.”

Hermione smiled softly. “He is. Thank you for being kind to him.”

“It’s not a problem Granger. He actually has a wicked sense of humor.”

“Yes, but he can be a bit prickly when provoked. Please don’t provoke him?”

Draco’s stomach dropped at the worried expression on Granger’s face. “Hey, it’s okay. I promise no one will be anything but accepting of him.”

Hermione’s breath caught and she nodded in unspoken gratitude. “Thank you.”

“You don’t ever need to thank me Granger.” Draco couldn’t help the small sigh that fell from his lips. “Do you think I might walk you to next class, there’s something I need to say and I’d rather do it now before I lose my nerve.”

Draco watched Granger’s large amber eyes widen in shock for a split second before they shuttered and he couldn’t help but inwardly kick himself for how wary she appeared, as if she was bracing herself for something horrible to happen. But in true Gryffindor style, she just nodded and said, “That’s fine.”

They spent the rest of the time period making a list of the ingredients required for Wolfsbane as well as making a tentative brewing method schedule on parchment before class was dismissed. Theo and Blaise caught his eye but he silently shook his head at them, eyeing Granger...the message clear for them to go on ahead, which they both did.

Draco waited for the class to clear out and then he followed Granger out of the dungeon as they made their way out towards Hagrid’s hut. After a few moments, Draco decided to speak up.

“I wanted to thank you for the letter you wrote to the Wizengamot. You didn’t need to do that Granger, my family nor myself deserved that from you but I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated it and how sorry I am for everything.”

Draco watched as Granger processed his words and after a bit, she spoke up slowly. “I suppose the correct response would be you’re welcome. I’m not sure how to respond to your apology Malfoy. I don’t claim to understand everything you must’ve gone through these past two years, so I can’t judge you. What I do know is that you were hateful to me growing up, and I’ve often wondered if it was just because you thought I was a mudblood...”

“Don’t!” Draco hissed out lowly and Hermione stopped in her tracks as she stared at the angry expression on his face.

“What?!?” She blurted out.

“Don’t call yourself that name again, please?”

“Does it make you uncomfortable Malfoy?”

Draco shook his head and then said, “It makes me very sad. And angry with myself, yes. But mostly I just feel empty.”

“Empty?”

Draco nodded. “Yes, empty. Like what little hope I’d had for my life is gone. That’s what that word reminds me of.”

Hermione stared at Malfoy as his grey eyes closed off and he sighed, pushing his hand through his pale locks in agitation. “Look Granger, we cant go back and change the past but I can promise you that you don’t have to worry about me being the same bigoted prat I was for six years. My only request is if I do something that pisses you off, please don’t electrocute me? Not that I don’t deserve it mind you, but I think I’d rather you punched me again.”

Hermione couldn’t help the small giggle that erupted from her mouth as she stared in wonder at the wizard before her who seemed so different from the hateful boy she’d grown up with.

“I make no promises Malfoy.”

“Thought I’d give it a try.” Draco quipped with a small smile before they continued on to class. Once they were there, Draco noticed that everyone was gathered but there didn’t seem to be any creatures out to look at. His confused expression wasn’t missed by Hermione as she grinned inwardly. She knew exactly what they were doing today.

Then Hagrid came out, with a big smile on his face.

“Welcome back to Magical Creatures and today we have a very special treat for ya. Mione, could you come up here please?”

Hermione moved up and set her bookbag on Hagrid’s stoop and moved over next to him.

“Now class, today we are going to learn about something a bit different and Mione has graciously offered to help with the class. I’ll let ya take it from here!”

Hermione nodded before she spoke. “Hello. Uhm today we are going to be talking a bit about some different kind of magical creatures. Namely monsters. In Greek Mythology there are many kinds of monsters, but one thing you need to understand is that to speak a name, gives it power and monsters are no different. It’s why we don’t use their names, especially in battle. Today however, I would like to introduce you to one magical creature who is a monster, but a bit different than what you’d might expect.”

She then turned around and shouted, “Ela se Mena, Mrs. O’Leary!”

Shadows fell across the ground and then rumbling was heard before the large, black hellhound bounded across the yard and straight for her. Gasps of surprise followed by laughter from the other students as they all watched in awe as she was mauled by her big, overgrown hellhound.

After Mrs. O’Leary had calmed a bit, Hermione turned to the rest of her classmates.

“This is Mrs. O’Leary and as you can see, she is a hellhound. She is quite large for her kind as most hellhounds are about half her size. She’s the only friendly hellhound you’ll ever meet. Most hellhounds are vicious and can travel through the shadows easily, though it will tire them out. Hellhounds are children of the Goddess Nyx and the first Cerberus, the guard dog of the Underworld. Only Hades himself, his wife Persephone and the children of Hades can command hellhounds.”

“Why does she come when you call her then?” Zabini asked intrigued.

“Mrs. O’Leary was abandoned as a youngling and taken in by a man named Quintus who was also known as Daedalus, a demigod son of Athena. Some of you may know the name as Daedalus was an inventor and had been hired by King Minos of Crete to create the Labyrinth. Mrs. O’Leary had become injured and was treated at Camp where we met and Quintus was our sword master trainer. She’s very friendly, but doesn’t give her loyalty to just anyone. She will answer my cousin’s call of course, but she also responds to Percy and I. It’s my understanding he introduced the OWL students to Mrs. O’Leary before this class.”

Blaise nodded and gave Draco a playful nudge, while Theo just chuckled under his breath at Draco’s irritation.

“What’s a sword master trainer?”

“Demigods are taught from the time we reach Camp to fight with swords and spears. We are trained in combat to fight monsters.”

“Are you trained?”

These questions had come from Seamus and Hermione just smirked at her friend. “I can hold my own.”

A few more chuckles were heard and then Mrs. O’Leary barked, which sounded more like a freight train and Hermione gave her a quick pat on the head.

“If you would like, please make a semicircle around the perimeter and if Mrs. O’Leary decides, she will come up and say ‘hello’. Stay still though and don’t put your hands out unless she indicates she’s accepted you.”

“And how will we know?” This from Theo.

“She’ll wag her tail and sit.”

Everyone nodded and took their places around the paddock in front of Hagrid’s hut and once everyone was fairly spaced, Hermione walked over to Dean and had Mrs. O’Leary follow her closely. The hellhound sniffed each person as she made her way around the semi-circle but didn’t stop until the very end where Draco was standing. She sniffed him several times then wagged her tail and sat, barking at the wizard who just stood there with a large smile on his face.

“Go ahead. She won’t eat you.” Hermione giggled. “At least not until I tell her to.”

Mrs. O’Leary barked again and panted a bit, so Draco walked over and put his hand out slowly. The hellhound pushed her head into his hand and rumbled happily as Draco stroked her fur which was a bit softer than he’d thought it would be.

Hermione was fairly shocked that Mrs. O’Leary had chosen Draco, of all the students gathered. He seemed to be overwhelmed, but not smug as he gently petted her fur. After a few minutes Mrs. O’Leary took a step back and then moved over towards Hermione, her fur up in hackles as she growled out at something.

Looking towards the horizon, Hermione couldn’t see anything at all.

“What is it girl?”

The growling got louder as the hellhound crouched down at the forest and Hermione turned to Hagrid.

“Get them all back to the castle, now!”

“But Mione! I can’t leave you out here, the Headmistress will hex me.” Hagrid’s eyes widened as the hellhounds snarls became more vicious.

“Hagrid, NOW!”

The giant nodded and tried to get the students to go but Dean, Seamus, Blaise, Theo and Draco all has their wands out at the ready. Hermione turned around and said heatedly, “you all need to go!”

Draco shook his head. “We aren’t leaving Granger. Whatever is coming, we can handle it.”

“You think you can! You can’t!”

She opened her beaded bag and pulled out something in her hand and in a flash a sword appeared that glittered in the light. It was made of a material unlike any in the Wizarding World.

“Mione, what is that?” Seamus asked.

“Celestial Bronze. It’s the only thing that will kill a monster! You need to leave, please!”

Sending out her patronus to the castle, she called for reinforcements. It wasn’t even thirty seconds later that Nico was there with Percy and Annabeth. He’d shadow traveled with them.

“What is it Mi?”

“I don’t know. Something has set Mrs. O’Leary off.”

Percy noticed the hellhound crouched with her teeth bared in warning. A couple minutes later there were some crashes in the tree line and then a large Minotaur broke into the clearing.

“Shite!” Dean yelled as the five wizards watched in awe and horror as Percy’s sword flashed from some kind of smaller device while Annabeth had a long knife brandished and Nico held a dark sword of some kind of iron.

Hermione called the heavens to her and sent down a blast of lightening, throwing the Minotaur back about fifteen feet while Percy made a dash for the monster, sliding under its legs and swinging his sword out, cutting into the creatures hind quarter.

It roared in anger, and then the wizard’s watched in horror as Hermione launched herself into the air and came down on its back, plunging her sword into its neck and the thing howled again and swung around, throwing her across the field about ten feet. Draco panicked and made to run over to see if she was alright but just as quickly as she’d fallen, she was back on her feet and charging back into the fray.

Annabeth was dodging and cutting into the Minotaurs arms and legs, while Percy launched himself onto its back and brought his sword down into a swinging arc, cutting the right horn off of the monster’s head and everyone watched stunned as the creature fell to the ground in agony. Hermione then sliced off the left horn and with one last howl of anger, the Minotaur exploded into a cloud of dust.

Percy went over to his cousin to check and see if she was alright. Hermione winced and gripped her side where there was blood coating her shirt. When she was thrown, she’s landed on Hagrid’s rake and one of the tongs had punctured her side.

Draco came over and said, “Fuck, we need to get you to the infirmary now Granger.”

“There’s no need.” Percy said. “Heal yourself Mi.”

Hermione nodded and then said to everyone. “Stand back.”

Percy gripped Draco’s arm and gave the worried wizard a quick nod of reassurance before he gestured everyone back to a safe distance. He then smiled widely at his cousin and winked. Soon her eyes lit up like lightening and thunder rolled across the sky. Then the clouds darkened and in a flash, a burst of lightening enveloped her as her entire body was subsumed by the raw power. In an instant it was gone and Draco watched stunned as Granger fell to her knees and caught her breath. When she lifted her shirt, the wound was sealed closed and Draco heaved a sigh of relief. Percy turned to him with a knowing smirk before heading back over to his cousin, helping her up onto her feet.

“Impressive. You’re getting better at controlling it.”

“I haven’t the practice you’ve had cousin.”

“True. Nice work by the way. Your skills with a sword aren’t as rusty as I thought.”

Annabeth walked over and gave her boyfriend a playful swat on the back of his head. “Play nice Seaweed Brain.”

“This is me playing nice.”

Nico then walked over with Mrs. O’Leary tagging behind. The hellhound came over and sniffed Hermione and then nudged her.

“Thank you girl. You did well.”

The hellhounds bark had everyone in the clearing laughing in relief together, before Hermione and Percy took their spoils of war with them back to the castle.

Chapter Text

When they had almost gotten back to the castle, no one was surprised to see Professor McGonagall staring heatedly at the small group. Her eyes lowered to the blood stains on Hermione’s shirt and then she gestured for all of them to follow her into the castle.

The walk to the Headmistress’ office was a rather long one, but it did give Hermione a chance to go over the events of the last thirty minutes. How in the world did a Minotaur get through the magical boundaries at Hogwarts? At Camp Half-Blood there was the boundary from the tree that her sister had been turned into, a gift from Zeus to spare her life but it had also strengthened the borders of Camp so no monsters could get inside unless someone from inside had invited the creature in.

Hermione shook her head clear of that thought. Who would let a monster into the grounds at Hogwarts? It would have to been a God or demigod as Wizard’s and Witch’s didn’t have that ability nor power to summon monsters by blood. So what did that mean exactly? One look at Annabeth and Hermione knew her best friend was thinking the exact same thing. Someone had planned this, but whom?

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Annabeth whispered as they walked side by side and Hermione nodded once.

“I am,” she admitted, “it couldn’t have been any of us here.”

“No, I agree.” Annabeth said lowly.

Percy looked over his shoulder from where he was walking next to Nico with a hard glare before he spoke. “We are all thinking the same thing it would seem.”

Nico nodded absently next to Percy and Hermione sighed. “Who do you think the target was?”

Percy stopped and turned around, staring at his cousin incredulously. “Come on Mi, you were the only one out there at that particular time! I think we all know who the Minotaur was coming after.”

Percy winced at speaking the name and saw the angry glares from his fellow demigods whilst the rest of the group including McGonagall stopped, all staring at the young demigod in horrified understanding.

“Mr. Jackson, are you saying you believe that someone sent that monster after Miss Granger on purpose?”

Percy nodded, his face hardened with anger. “That’s exactly what I’m saying Professor.”

“Please explain.”

Percy sighed and then looked at Mi with a pleading expression on his face. Hermione then turned to her former Head of House and explained, “At Camp, we have a magical border that protects monsters from entering. The magical border at Hogwarts theoretically should have been sufficient to hide the blood of demigods from monsters, thereby protecting us. However, monsters can get behind protected lines but only when invited in by other demigods or the Gods themselves.”

McGonagall’s expression was apoplectic. “Are you saying someone let that thing into Hogwarts with the express desire to harm you, Miss Granger?”

Hermione shrugged, completely ignoring the stares from the five wizards who were openly gaping at her. Percy however, was having none of her desire for prevarication.

“That’s exactly what we’re saying Professor. I have no doubt that Mi could’ve handled that monster on her own, but the fact of the matter was it attacked when she was alone. Which means that someone knew where she’d be and sent it after her.”

“Percy! You don’t know that!”

“Oh come off it Mi! That’s exactly what happened and you know it! Look at your shirt!”

Percy’s glare was both parts angry and terrified as he stared down his older cousin.

“He’s right Mi.” Nico said quietly. “It’s not a coincidence.”

Hermione huffed in irritation and shook her head. “It makes no sense.”

“And yet it happened.” Annabeth stated firmly.

The entire group went eerily quiet and then McGonagall sighed heavily at the implications of what this might mean, before she spoke.

“Miss Granger, I would suggest for the time being that you limit yourself to inside the castle until we can determine just how the wards were breached.”

“So I’m to be a prisoner?”

McGonagall’s stare was firm and Hermione sighed and murmured out ‘sorry’ before she stormed off in anger, not wanting to discuss this anymore.

Everyone watched her walk away, but it was Draco who decided to ask the question everyone was wondering. “Who would want to hurt Granger?”

Percy shook his head. He had no idea who it could be! The fact that it hadn’t happened before now, was telling. It hadn’t happened until Mi had been unbound and her powers restored to her. So that meant that for whatever reason, whomever had done this had bided their time until now.

“I don’t know, but I intend to find out.” Percy said harshly, with Nico and Annabeth nodding in agreement.

“You know she’s going to be a menace to protect, right?” Seamus piped up, shaking his head. “Mione doesn’t like anyone to think she can’t take care of herself.”

“She’s a demigod, of course she can take care of herself.” Blaise snarked out with a chuckle.

Percy turned and gave the wizard a knowing smirk. “Yes she can, but she’s also stubborn.”

“That’s true enough.” Draco quipped, rubbing the bridge of his nose where Granger had broken it third year. “Is there anyone you might be able to ask, or get information from who might have some idea about what’s going on?”

Percy shrugged, but one look and Nico and Annabeth had him rethinking his answer.

“I’m not sure, but I can send an Iris Message to Chiron and let him know what’s going on and see if anyone at Camp has heard anything.”

“Iris Message?” Draco inquired, intrigued.

“Yes. It’s a type of video message that allow Gods and Demigods to communicate with each other using a rainbow. To send a message one must first find or create a rainbow using the Mist and throw in a golden drachma as payment.”

“Mist?”

“Video?”

The questions came from Theo and Blaise respectively and Nico snickered with a grin saying, “I’ll explain it later, okay?”

Both wizards nodded reluctantly, clearly not happy at having to wait to have their curiosity assuaged.

Professor McGonagall just shook her head. “Then please do so Mr. Jackson and the rest of you students, please head back to your dormitories. Dinner will be served soon.”

Everyone grumbled but headed back to their common rooms, with Annabeth giving Percy a concerned look. “Let me know what Chiron says, okay?”

“Will do and I’ll see you in a bit.”

Annabeth kissed Percy on the cheek and watched as he walked away, clearly intent of figuring out what was going on.

When Percy reached the boys bathroom, he turned on the water in the largest faucet and waved his hand through the air several times through the Mist and a rainbow appeared. Pulling a drachma out of his pocket, he threw it into the mist and then said, “Oh Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow accept my offering—show me Chiron at Camp Half-Blood.”

A few seconds later, Chiron’s face appeared in the Mist.

“Percy! How are you?”

“Been better Chiron, I don’t have much time so I’ll make it quick. Mi was attacked today by (Percy held up the Minotaur’s horn and Chiron nodded), and I need to know if you’ve heard anything about Mi at Camp and if not, can you check with Grover and the others to see if they’ve heard anything about why someone would be after her and who it might be?”

Chiron nodded thoughtfully. “I thought Hogwarts was protected by its own magical barrier?”

“It is. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it came after her now versus before her powers were unbound. Could it have been possible that by binding her Godly powers it kept monsters from finding her in the first place?”

“That’s an interesting theory and one I’ll have to speak with our resident God about. Perhaps he might have some ideas about why this is happening now.”

“How is Mr. D doing?”

“Still frustrated that he can’t conjure wine as it keeps turning into water.”

Percy snickered before his expression turned serious. “Just get back to me as quickly as you can. You remember how stubborn Mi was two summers ago after she almost died? I don’t want to deal with that again, if possible.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“Have Grover stop by my mom’s and say hi for me.”

“Will do. Stay safe.”

“So much for a chill year.” Percy muttered as he waved goodbye to Chiron and the Mist faded.

After a few seconds Percy smirked as he felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand to attention.

“I know you’re there,” he turned around with his arms folded, “and if I were you, I’d show myself unless you want me to flood this entire bathroom with you in it. I can breath under water for hours, can you?”

Draco canceled his disillusionment charm and smirked back at the demigod Son of Poseidon.

“Actually, I can. It’s called a bubble-head charm.”

“Ah, but that doesn’t explain why you’re in here eavesdropping on my private conversation, now does it?”

Draco walked over to the sink across from Percy and leant up against the adjacent wall nonchalantly, as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

“I didn’t think I’d need to explain to you, as you seem like a fairly smart fellow. Or was I wrong in that assumption?”

Percy’s eyes narrowed a bit as he tilted in head, considering the blonde wizard before him.

“And why should I trust you, Draco Malfoy?”

“I think you know the reason for that as well?”

Percy scoffed in irritation. “No wonder Nico was sorted into Slytherin. Do you all answer a question with another question? It’s rather annoying and isn’t going to make me like or trust you any more than I already do. Which isn’t saying much, by the way.”

Draco just stared at the demigod for a moment before he sighed. “Look, I know you have no reason to believe me, but I can help. I may not be a demigod, but I’m fairly good at ferreting out people’s secrets. I also have a vested interest in making sure whomever is doing this gets caught before they hurt Granger.”

“Still not hearing a good reason Malfoy.”

Moving off the wall, Draco paced for a moment before he turned back to face Percy, who was eyeing him with a blistering intensity that made him feel a bit on edge. It was disconcerting.

“What would you like me to say, hmmm? That I regret what I did to Granger for all these years? That I was a right git and a bigoted prat? That I don’t deserve her? That’s pretty much a given, Jackson. But I won’t stand by and watch someone hurt her again. I did that once, I won’t do it again. So if you want my help, it’s there. I just thought I’d make the offer is all.”

Percy nodded after a moment. It would seem that Draco Malfoy clearly had feelings for his cousin. Whether or not Mi would ever forgive the jerk was something else entirely.

“Fine, tell me about the wards around the school?”

Draco thought about it for a moment before he spoke. “The wards are nigh on impenetrable. You can’t disapparate in or out of Hogwarts. The only person that had been able to was Professor Dumbledore and he’s dead. The grounds are unplottable and cannot be seen by Muggles at all. Magic is literally interwoven into its walls and it can only be modified by the current Headmistress. Before our war, I repaired a broken vanishing cabinet to let Death Eaters inside the castle, thereby bypassing the wards. I’m not sure if the Headmistress can sense the wards being disrupted just around the castle itself, or on the entire grounds of the school.”

Percy glared at the wizard for a moment then asked harshly, “You let Death Eaters into this school?”

Draco nodded and unbuttoned the sleeve on his arm, lifting it up to show the Dark Mark.

“I was branded at sixteen as a punishment for my Father’s failures. He was there the night Granger was in the Ministry of Magic at the end of our fifth year. I didn’t know she’d been injured that seriously until I just heard you. She nearly died?”

Percy nodded, his expression completely closed off.

“Do you know who it was who cursed her?”

“She said it was someone named Dolohov.”

“Fuck!” Draco whispered out angrily and Percy’s eyes widened at the profanity, clearly not expecting that reaction from the blonde. “I had heard rumors, but...”

“I see that you are well acquainted with the wizard?”

“More or less,” Draco bit back, “but one thing I will tell you, is that he had a serious score to settle with Granger during the war. Apparently, she obliviated him and another Death Eater Thorfinn Rowle in a skirmish near Tottenham Court in London just before she, Potter and the Weasel disappeared on the run. The wanker is in Azkaban currently, a right piece of work.”

Percy stared thoughtfully at the wizard, pondering over this new information.

“And you’re sure he’s still in Azkaban?”

Draco nodded. “Yeah. Why?”

“Tell me about this man.”

So Draco did. Antonin Dolohov, inner circle Death Eater, one of the original Death Eaters apparently. Dark Arts Master, Master at creating his own curses, charms and wards.

“He’s a Ward Master? Would you say he’s good enough to bring down the wards here?”

Draco shook his head. “He tried, my sixth year and could never breach them. That’s why I had to figure out a way to let Death Eaters into the school or they were going to kill my Mother.”

“Tough choice.” Percy said with a tinge of sympathy. Not much, but it was there.

“No good choices actually, but I can’t go back and change it. But if anyone could’ve broke these wards down eventually, it would’ve been Dolohov.”

“Where’s this Azkaban?”

“Middle of the North Sea.”

“Really?” Percy grinned and Draco’s eyes widened in understanding.

“You’re not seriously planning on doing what I think you’re about to do?”

“Don’t know what you could be talking about Malfoy. Perhaps it might be helpful to just check to make sure Mr. Dolohov is where he’s supposed to be. I seriously don’t think he has anything to do with this, but you can’t be too careful, right?”

“Fuck!” Draco grimaced unhappily. “You might be worse than Potter, if that’s even possible. Bloody Gryffindors.”

Chapter Text

Percy had left Draco standing there in the boys bathroom as he headed to the Great Hall for dinner. Draco thought over what Percy had said and he had to wonder if there was something he was missing. True, he didn’t know much about Greek Mythology, but he knew some. Perhaps he needed to look at this from a different angle altogether.

Heading down to the Slytherin Common room, Draco was surprised to see Nico sitting there with Theo and Blaise. The three of them thick as thieves as they looked to be chatting about something important. When he made his way over, Nico gestured for him to have a seat.

“So Draco, what did you think about today?”

“I think that your cousin is in danger and your other cousin has a hero complex.”

Nico chuckled and nodded. “What happened with Percy?”

“I followed him to the boys loo, disillusioned of course and watched him speak to someone named Chiron. That Iris Message thing, bloody brilliant by the way.”

“Glad you approve. Did Chiron have any ideas?”

Draco shook his head in the negative. “Percy did ask some good questions though. One about Granger and her powers being bound. That perhaps was why no monsters had sought her out before now.”

Nico seemed contemplative for a moment before he shrugged. “It’s possible, I suppose. What else?”

Draco sighed and gave his friends a wary look. “We got on the subject of the castle’s wards and I mentioned that during our war, there was one of the Dark Lord’s followers who was a master as dismantling wards. He is currently in Azkaban, which is our Wizarding prison. I think that Percy is going to do something reckless.”

Nico chuckled and shook his head fondly. “Yes, that would be Percy. Where is this Azkaban?”

“Middle of the North Sea,” Theo piped in with a sour expression, “my Father is a current resident there as well.”

“Death Eater?” Nico queried and Theo nodded. Nico sat back for a moment and sighed in resignation. “What does this Dolohov look like?”

“Why?” Draco asked warily.

“Because it might be a bit easier for me to go check up on him since I can shadow travel there and back. It’ll tire me out a bit, but if I let Percy do it his way there’s no telling what might happen.”

The three wizards look at each other but it was Draco who spoke up. “Maybe we should talk to Percy about this? If you go without him and he discovers I said something, I don’t think he’s going to be very happy at all.”

“That’s an understatement.” Nico quipped with an eye roll. “Leave it to me, I’ll talk to him tomorrow. We have History of Magic together with Annabeth and if I handle it right, Percy won’t be doing anything reckless if he knows what’s good for him.”

All the wizards grinned and Blaise even laughed. Draco then turned to the young Demigod asked something that he’d been wondering about.

“The fighting today was most impressive, but I was wondering something?”

“What?” Nico replied.

“Would magic really not work against monsters?”

“Magic works to a certain extent, but the only thing that will kill a monster is Celestial Bronze.”

“I noticed your sword is made of a different metal than the other demigods?” Theo asked curiously and Nico nodded.

“It’s called Stygian Iron and it can literally suck someone’s soul from them. I forged it near the River Styx.”

“That thing can suck someone’s soul?” Said Blaise incredulously. “Like a dementor?”

“Dementor?” Nico seemed confused for a moment before he smiled in understanding. “Ah, Dementors. You do know what they originate from, don’t you?”

All the wizards shook their heads in confusion, and Nico couldn’t help but grin at their curious expressions.

“Dementors are actually a form of the Keres, who are female death spirits. The Keres are the goddesses who personify violent death and who at one time were drawn to bloody deaths on the battle fields, but now feed on the worst despair of humanity. The Keres are the daughters of Nyx, and the sisters of the Moirai who as you probably know, control the fate of souls. They’re also known as the Tenebrae or “the Darknesses.”

“Bloody Hell.” Theo whispered out in awe. “The Ministry no longer uses them to guard Azkaban. Minister Shacklebolt did away with them not too long ago.”

“Not soon enough.” Draco griped as he sat back in his chair, ignoring the pitying looks from his friends.

“You’ve been there?”

Draco nodded. “I was held there before my trial this summer.”

“I do remember something about, that now that you’ve mentioned it.” Nico eyed the blonde wizard and couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sympathy for him. If he’d been subjected to the Keres in any form, it would have likely been a draining experience. “But we should head down to dinner.”

Nico stood up and the others soon followed as they all made their way back to the Great Hall. When they entered, Nico looked over at the Gryffindor table and noticed Mi sitting with Percy. She’d obviously cleaned herself up a bit, but she didn’t look very happy. He wasn’t the only one who’d noticed.

“She seems down.” Draco murmured next to him as they walked to their table.

“She does.” Nico agreed just as Percy’s gaze lifted and caught his eye. Nico smirked and Percy’s eyes narrowed briefly before Nico raised an eyebrow and gave Mi a pointed look. Percy shook his head and their silent exchange was over as quickly as it had begun.

Once they were seated, Nico plated his food and headed over to the hearth to make his offering and then sat back down at the Slytherin table.

After he’d taken a few bites Theo, who was sitting across from him, spoke up.

“I was wondering something?”

Nico nodded and gestured for Theo to continue, which he did.

“I noticed you offer tribute at every meal? Do you do this at Camp, too?”

“We do.”

“Does Lady Hestia tend to the hearth at Camp?”

“She does, although you may not always notice her there. Sometimes she appears as a very young girl and other times a bit older. She is different than the other Gods, in that she is very kind and humble and never has sought out the power that the other Gods have. She even gave up her seat on the Council of Twelve to Dionysus to avoid conflict. During the Battle of Manhattan and the attack on Olympus, it was Hestia who remained to guard Olympus.”

“Will she come back?”

Nico shrugged. “I don’t know. Lady Hestia goes where she’s needed. Home, Hearth and Family. She’s the Last Olympian. When all else fails, when wars are fought and people die...Family is what remains. It’s what’s most important.”

All the Slytherin’s who were within ear shot just sat their stunned, but it was Draco who chose to respond.

“Even when that family is hateful and hurts others for sport?”

Nico shrugged. “Families aren’t perfect. Sometimes there are members of your family you’d rather not deal with. That’s the tough thing about family. Sometimes your family chooses you, and sometimes you choose your family. I think what you don’t understand, or perhaps have focused too much on is the concept that family is only blood. But look at you all here. You’ve been through a war together, bonded with each other. Wouldn’t you consider yourself a family?”

All the eighth year Slytherin’s stared at each other as they pondered over Nico’s words, while he just continued to eat in silence. After several long moments, Blaise said softly, “I consider these tossers here like brothers. It doesn’t matter they’re not my blood.”

Nico nodded. “Well that’s a start then.”

They all stared at the Son of Hades in confusion at that cryptic comment, but let the subject drop for the moment.

Once dinner was over and everyone had returned to their dormitories for the evening, Nico found himself sitting alone by the fireplace pondering over the last couple days. This place Hogwarts, was interesting and he could see why Mi loved it so much. Why she had willing fought in a war, even with having her Godly powers bound, just so she could learn more about Magic. Nico hadn’t ever truly felt welcomed at Camp until recently, and even then he had felt lonely at times. But here, at Hogwarts he felt a sense of belonging he’d never really enjoyed before. His Slytherin classmates were interesting characters who obviously had dealt with their own share of alienation from the rest of Hogwarts. Nico has no doubt that much of that, they’d brought upon themselves, but if he knew one thing? It was easier to distance yourself by being cruel than kind. You couldn’t get hurt, if you hurt someone first. It was the first rule of self-preservation.

When Bianca had left him and joined the Hunters, it had hurt him deeply and it had taken him a long time to come to terms with her death. In some ways he was still dealing with it well over a year later. Bianca was his family, and yet there had to have been something fundamentally missing if she felt compelled to abandon him when he was barely twelve years old.

Nico’s age had never really been a factor, as he was much older chronologically than his cousins, but physically still looked about fourteen. He’d matured quite a bit over these past two years and the young boy, who’d once loved mythomagic cards, had grown up and put away childish things. As he thought back on today and how he’d felt when he’d realized that someone was trying to hurt his cousin, Nico realized that Mi was in many ways more of a sister to him than Bianca had been. That’s what he was trying to share with his fellow classmates about family. Bianca was his blood sister, and Mi was his cousin. But it didn’t matter because Mi was his family, and he had chosen her and she him. That’s what family was supposed to be about...choosing each other.

He couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to hurt Mi. She was beyond kind and forgiving. Probably too forgiving if Nico was being honest with himself. It was likely her fatal flaw and he couldn’t help but worry for her. Nico had spoken with Luke when he’d gone to Elysium to check on Severus Snape for Mi. It was definitely a conversation he wasn’t sure he would ever be ready to share with her. Even now thinking about it, made him feel guilty for keeping it to himself.

Luke hadn’t been exactly surprised to see him there, but it hadn’t stopped the Son of a Hermes from accosting him all the same.

 

Flashback

 

Nico has been walking through the gardens of Elysium for a while after his conversation with Severus Snape. The dour wizard was definitely everything Mi had said about him and then some. Their conversation had been brief, to the point and then the man had dismissed him soundly, making him promise to ‘let him be’ which Nico had obliged willingly. There was simply no reason to remain in that man’s company any longer than necessary.

When Nico had made his way through the far garden and gazed down the hill, the Isle of the Blest shone like a beacon of light. Only those who had chosen to be reborn thrice and die a hero each time could find ultimate peace there. Nico doubted he’d ever want such a reward. He was fairly happy with spending time in the Underworld wherever he wished. A definite perk of being the Son of Hades.

He hadn’t been paying attention when someone came up and stood next to him. When Nico looked up, he saw Luke standing there staring down into the valley with a contemplative expression on his face.

“Nico.”

“Luke.”

“What brings you here to Elysium? Business or pleasure?”

“Business.”

Luke lifted an eyebrow and smirked at the younger demigod. “Your Father’s business?”

Now it was Nico’s turn to smirk as he stared down the taller demigod, who even in death was still as intimidating as he’d been in life.

“No. I’m actually here at the request of my cousin.”

“Jackson?” Luke sneered for a moment before he sighed. It seemed as if the inherent rivalry between Percy and Luke was still a living presence in Luke’s mind.

“No, my other cousin.”

“Thalia? Why in the world would Thalia send you down here?”

Nico chuckled as he shook his head. “Are you being a jerk on purpose or are you really just this ignorant.”

Luke’s face paled as he breathed out in wonder. “Mine sent you here?”

Nico had almost forgotten Luke’s pet name for Mi. No one called her Hermione, except Mr. D and Chiron. Everyone else called her Mi except for Luke, who’d called her Mine. It was clearly meant as a possessive moniker and Mi had never expressed a dislike of the nickname.

“She did.” Nico admitted with a grin.

“To check up on me?”

Nico shook his head and saw Luke’s blue eyes darken unhappily. “No.”

“Who then?”

Nico then turned to give Luke his full attention. “Why should I tell you Castellan?”

Luke sighed and then turned back to gaze over into the valley with an expression that Nico could only describe as defeated.

“I didn’t mean to hurt her.” Luke admitted lowly. “But I did what I needed to do. Even you have to admit that the way some of the Gods treated their children was horrible. Not acknowledging them? Never seeing them? Sometimes I wish there had been another way, but there wasn’t. Did Jackson follow through on what I asked of him?”

Nico nodded. “He made Zeus promise that the Gods would acknowledge their children from now on and not ignore them.”

“And?”

Nico smirked. “He did acknowledge her Luke. It was quite spectacular too. Saved her even from dying during their magical war. She was tortured, carved into. She survived it all.”

Luke swallowed as he nodded to himself. “Has she asked about me at all?”

Nico nodded in return. “She was surprised when Percy came to Scotland with Annabeth and you weren’t there. She wanted to know if you’d asked for her before you’d died. I think she was pretty broken up about the whole thing. Percy, Annabeth and I are planning on staying in London and then maybe attending her magical school for her last year so she’s not alone anymore.”

“That’s good.” Luke choked out before he spoke again, this time his voice sounded a bit emotional. “Is there someone else?”

“You mean is she involved with someone else?”

Luke nodded again and Nico could see him literally holding his breath trying to brace himself for the answer.

“There is someone she feels very conflicted about. I’m not sure what that means or if she is even aware of what she wants to do with it. I honestly think she thought you would be there waiting when her quest was done.”

“And I’m not.”

“No, you didn’t choose her.”

Luke growled out angrily. “But I did choose her. I did this for her! To make sure she was acknowledged as was her right! Her powers were bound, not by choice. She didn’t get one! She almost died! What would you have done if the person you’d loved had been forced into such a situation?”

Nico just stared at Luke as he processed his words, but there was one thing that had stood out more than the rest.

“You love her?”

Luke nodded. “I’ve always loved her. Didn’t make a bit of difference in the end. I’ll never get to be with her.”

“Well, for what it’s worth...I’m sorry.”

“You don’t need to apologize to me. Just do me a favor and take care of Mine and watch out for her. Something tells me she’s going to need that from both you and Percy.”

 

End flashback

 

Nico had nodded and then quietly left the valley after that, returning to his Father’s home and then back to London. He hadn’t given Luke’s words much thought after that but now he was wondering if he should have. As he sat there staring at the fire in the Slytherin Common room, Nico was pretty sure that Luke had some idea about what was going on currently. And Nico had no idea how he was going to tell Mi about any of this.

Chapter Text

The next day was rather subdued and when the demigods finally made their way into their History of Magic class; Percy, Annabeth and Nico were all lost in their own thoughts. Annabeth was worried for her best friend, who hadn’t said two words to anyone today. Percy was trying to figure out how he was going to get to Azkaban without Mi finding out and Nico was feeling even more guilty about not sharing his conversation with Luke with Mi.

When the bell rang, and everyone was seated, Professor Binns floated into the room through a door near the front of the class. He was dressed in clothes that looked more appropriate in the nineteenth century than the late twentieth century.

Nico couldn’t help but grin as the ghost was clearly in his own little world and hadn’t even deigned to look at the students yet.

“I’m Professor Binns and my subject is History of Magic. I deal in facts, not myths or legends and as such today we will begin by discussing the Goblin Rebellion of 1612.”

The entire class, with the exception of the three demigods groaned in annoyance, already having heard this lecture ad nauseum for the past four years. The Professor started to drone on in a voice that sounded like a cross between a broken vacuum cleaner and a dead cat. Nico smirked and gently cleared his throat after about twenty minutes of non-stop pontificating by the dead Professor.

It was hilarious however, the exact moment that Professor Binns made eye contact with the Son of Hades, because his voice croaked in shock and he started stuttering out factoids that had absolutely nothing to do with each other. Nico just kept staring at the ghost, who couldn’t seem to string a coherent sentence together. The rest of the fifth year students, once they’d caught onto the situation, were openly grinning at how flustered Binns was.

After another twenty minutes of absolute anguish, Nico cleared his throat and raised his hand. If a ghost could’ve looked paler than ghostly white, then Binns would’ve achieved the impossible.

“Of course, Mr. Anderson?” Binns squeaked out and Nico’s eyebrows rose even higher as he stared down the floating specter, who eventually got the hint and then recovered before stating a bit more clearly, “Forgive me, My Lord. You had a question?”

A few muffled chuckles were heard in the back, but Nico chose to ignore it as well as the grins he was getting from Percy and Annabeth.

“I was just curious about something.”

Binns cleared his voice and replied, “and that would be?”

“Do you actually enjoy teaching the students here?”

Binns just stared at him while all the other students waited with bated breath for the answer. After a moment, Binns drolled our caustically, “Of course I do, My Lord.”

“So, is there a reason you teach the same things over and over again each year? I mean a person...sorry...ghost of your age and wisdom; wouldn’t you have a more, I don’t know, varied study guide to pull from?”

Binns just stared at the young demigod, completely dumbfounded as to how to respond. But that didn’t deter Nico as he grinned a bit more evilly at the ghost.

“It would seem, and correct me if I’m wrong, but there’s thousands of years worth of Magical history, right?”

Binns choked and then nodded. “Yes there is, My Lord.”

“And you attended here as a student once?”

Binns fluttered nervously and nodded again.

“So I’m just curious about what you were taught here when you went to school about magical history? Was it all Giant Wars and Goblin Rebellion?”

Binns just continued to stare at the young boy and finally noticed that the rest of the students were watching the exchange with rapt attention. Fluttering again, Binns coughed out in surprise before he responded with a short, “No, I don’t believe it was.”

“Ah,” Nico nodded like he was now getting somewhere, “so then you’re saying that the history of Giants and Goblins is more important to learn than that of witches and wizards?”

Binns stuttered in shock and outrage as he openly gaped at Nico, who just sat there with that same small little smile upon his face.

“I don’t believe I’ve ever subscribed to any such notion?” Professor Binns spouted out haughtily. “And I do believe we’ve wasted enough time on this line of questioning!”

Nico smirked but nodded and allowed the ghost to continue on for another ten minutes before he raised his hand again. This got a chuckle from Percy, and a shake of the head from Annabeth.

Binns stopped his lesson and glared at the young demigod. “Yes, My Lord?”

“So I had another question?”

The laughter within the classroom was getting louder as all the students were openly grinning and clearly enjoying the class, which was a first.

“Yes?” Binns bit out, and Nico’s expression clearly was amused since he didn’t bother correcting the ghost this time.

“Didn’t you die in the teachers staffroom?”

There were several loud guffaws of laughter at the question and Nico could see that Binns was clearly becoming more agitated.

“I’m not sure how that question is relevant to the class at hand.”

“Well, I was just wondering? Did you teach different history when you were alive versus now that you’re dead?”

All the students in the classroom turned curious expressions towards the ghost, who was clearly not happy with the question.

“Again, I fail to see how that is relevant.”

“Well, I’ve never heard of a ghost becoming senile after they’d passed so I can only assume that senility must’ve hit sometime before you died.”

“WHAT?!?” Binns screeched out with a cough. “I can tell you most assuredly Mr. Anderson that I am most certainly not nor ever have been senile!”

This time Nico’s eyes narrowed and his aura darkened as the room became very cold. Everyone watched in awe as the demigod glared at the Professor, who was clearly shaking in fear.

“I am sorry, My Lord. I meant no disrespect!”

Nico sighed and calmed down, the room returning to normal before he spoke up. “Cuthbert Binns, I hereby release you from your duty to the living world. Go find peace and put these poor students out of their misery.”

The ghost gasped in horror as he moved quickly over to the young demigod and pleaded, “Please My Lord. I will try harder to fulfill my obligation to my students.”

Nico shook his head sadly. “Teaching shouldn’t be about obligation Binns, it should be something that you enjoy and that your students benefit from. You were given a promise by Albus Dumbledore to remain here as long as he was Headmaster. He is no longer. It is time for you to retire and rest. Don’t make me tell you again. Go and find peace.”

“But My Lord...”

Nico shook his head, clearly unwilling to be swayed. “My decision is final.”

Binns nodded sadly and after a moment, moved towards where his office likely was located before he came back into the room. He stared at all the students and then said to Nico, “Where will I go, My Lord?”

Nico shrugged. “I believe there’s a spot in the Fields of Asphodel where your loved ones are waiting for you as we speak.”

Binns nodded again, and then there was a bright light that shimmered near the front of the classroom. The astonished gasps of all those within the room were unsurprising as Binns floated into the light and then he was gone. The rest of the class stared in awe and fear as they openly gaped the demigod Son of Hades, who just had a small pleased smile upon his face. After a few seconds however, the class erupted in cheers and high-fives.

Annabeth bumped her shoulder into Nico and grinned. “You do know Nico, you just got rid of the teacher right?”

Nico sighed and nodded. “Professor McGonagall asked me to do so before school started. Binns wouldn’t leave his post and it needed to be done.”

Percy chuckled as he gazed around the room at everyone else laughing and smiling like they’d just won the lottery. “I think everyone in the room has no idea what to do.”

“How much longer until class is over?” Annabeth asked.

Nico shrugged. “Probably not long.”

“Do you think we should go and say something?”

“Like what?” Percy sat back in his chair with his arms folded behind his head.

“Oh, I don’t know Seaweed Brain? Like the teacher’s gone on to the afterlife and they might need to find a replacement?”

“Think there’s already one lined up.” Nico offered lowly.

“Really?”

“Yep.”

Astoria Greengrass came over with a wide smile upon her face. “That was brilliant Nico.”

“Thanks Astoria.” Nico blushed at the pretty blonde witch before her attention was diverted to Percy.

“We on for our study session tomorrow night?”

Percy gazed over at Annabeth, who was watching the witch closely.

“Sure.” Percy said quickly.

“Okay, I’ll see you in the library after dinner.”

Percy nodded and observed the blonde witch bounce away only to turn back and see his girlfriend giving him an amused smirk.

“You have an admirer.”

Percy groaned and shook his head emphatically. “Don’t...please don’t go there? You know you’ve got nothing to worry about, right?”

Annabeth shrugged. “Who’s worried. Besides, if she even thinks about trying anything I’m sure I can figure out some interesting way to deal with it.”

“Annabeth...”

“What?”

Percy just stared pleadingly at his girlfriend, but she didn’t seem to be the least bit swayed or bothered by his discomfort. Sighing in defeat, Percy just decided feign ignorance. That was always easier than the alternative. Luckily the bell rang out and the students exited the classroom, leaving the three demigods alone.

“So, I was hoping to talk with you both before dinner.” Nico said quietly.

Annabeth turned to face him and seeing Nico’s expression couldn’t help but wonder what was going on.

“Sure, what’s up?”

“We need to talk about this thing with Mi.”

“Okay,” Annabeth said firmly, “what did you want to discuss?”

Nico gave Percy a quick apologetic look, before he spoke up about the discussion he’d had with the Slytherin’s the evening before.

Chapter Text

Annabeth was pissed! When Nico had shared with her about his plan to go to Azkaban, Percy hadn’t looked terribly surprised in the least. When she called her boyfriend on this, he’d just stammered and gave Nico a glowering look which told Annabeth that her hero-addled boyfriend was somehow planning to go to Azkaban on his own! Or at least without her!

When she stomped into the Great Hall sometime later, her expression was thunderous and everyone in her general vicinity gave her a wide berth. When her gaze met those over at the Slytherin table, her expression darkened before she went to sit down next to Luna Lovegood.

Percy sauntered in a few minutes later, his head held low as he made his way towards the Gryffindor table, sitting down next to Mi. When she turned and asked him what was going on, he just shook his head and pouted.

Nico walked in a few minutes later and the Great Hall erupted into loud cheers for the Son of Hades—the loudest of course, coming from his own housemates.

Nico blushed a deep red as he sat down and didn’t make eye contact with anyone for a few minutes, clearly uncomfortable being the center of attention. When he finally looked up and towards the Head Mistresses’ table, she politely nodded before tinkling her glass several times to get the students attention.

Once the cheering died down, she stood up to address everyone.

“As you’ve all obviously been made aware, Professor Binns has finally decided to retire and will no longer be teaching History of Magic.”

The cheers resumed and Draco patted Nico on the shoulder while Mi grinned widely at her younger cousin, lifting a goblet in a silent toast.

“Yes, yes,” McGonagall continued on, “it’s been a bit overdue. Luckily, we have a new Professor who has graciously agreed to take over the class beginning tomorrow. You will all be seeing Fiona Belmont, former Gryffindor graduate from the class of 1994, come breakfast in the morning. I hope you will all welcome her with open arms.”

Dinner resumed and all Nico’s classmates were grinning widely at him in admiration.

“Nice work, Nico.” Theo smiled genuinely.

“Thanks.” Nico grumbled out in embarrassment.

“Is it true you asked if Binns was senile?”

“Among other things.”

“Wicked!” Theo chuckled. “It’s about time Binns retired. I don’t think I learned a single thing in that class for five years.”

“Did anyone?” Draco quipped. “He was a right menace. Never called anyone by their correct names, ever. Well except for Granger. I do believe he correctly addressed her, maybe during second year?”

“Really?” Nico grinned and Draco smirked and nodded.

“Yeah, she really was a know it all swot. I think she was the only one who actually bothered to take notes in his class. I even think she got an Outstanding in the subject, which was near on impossible to do.”

Everyone snickered and Nico’s expression was incredulous as he stared at his Slytherin classmates.

“She took notes?”

“Yep.” Draco snarked before popping a piece of chicken into his mouth, chewing it with relish.

“But he was horrible!” Nico choked out on a laugh as everyone grinned at him. His eyes then caught Mi’s and he smiled widely at his cousin, her gaze narrowing at him for a moment before she rolled her eyes in understanding.

Then her voice carried out over the Hall.

“Yes, that’s right! I took notes in Binn’s class and actually paid attention! Make fun of the know it all swot!”

Laughter erupted from the Slytherin table as everyone in Nico’s vicinity broke down in raucous mirth. Nico could see Mi huff in irritation before her face morphed into a wicked smirk and the next thing he knew, a bolt of lightening came down right in the middle of the table causing everyone to move back with a squeal, except Nico who just stared down his cousin who was giggling while Percy just grinned.

“Miss Granger!” Professor McGonagall spoke out harshly. “Five points from Gryffindor, and please refrain from electrocuting the Slytherin students.”

Hermione nodded and then turned to face her cousin and Malfoy, who surprisingly was smirking back at her. She couldn’t help herself and mouthed the words, ‘worth it’ before turning her attention back to Percy and Ginny.

Both Nico and Draco chuckled, clearly understanding the unspoken statement before everyone quietly finished their dinner.

Once they were done, Hermione went over to the Ravenclaw table to wait for Annabeth, who seemed upset for some reason. Percy was following behind and it wasn’t too long before Nico caught up with the small group. Ginny, Dean, Seamus, and the Slytherin trio of Blaise, Theo and Draco were standing off to the side. Once the coast was clear, Hermione grabbed Annabeth’s arm and pulled her over near the staircase.

“What’s going on?”

Annabeth just glared at Percy, who wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone. Nico however, tried his best to look bored. When Hermione realized no one was going to answer her, she folded her arms over her chest and glared.

“Someone better tell me what in Merlin’s name is going on!”

Several sighs and a few disgruntled coughs later, it was Percy who finally decided to speak up.

“I spoke to Chiron last night. He hadn’t heard of anything on his end. He was going to talk to Mr. D about it though and get back to me.”

Hermione nodded, noticing Annabeth’s unhappy expression. “And?”

Percy just bowed his head, which left Hermione even more confused. When Percy glared over at the Slytherin’s, Draco looked away quickly making Hermione realize that something else was going on.

“Somebody better speak up!”

Draco cleared his throat and drawled out in his most unaffected tone. “Jackson and I had a little talk last night about the wards around Hogwarts and who might have been able to breach them.”

Hermione nodded for a moment before her expression cleared in understanding.

“You think it was one of the Death Eaters?”

“Dolohov.” Draco said stoically, watching Granger flinch at the name and hating himself a bit more at making her visibly uncomfortable.

“Okay?” Hermione was clearly missing something. “I’m not sure what the issue is. Dolohov is in Azkaban and there’s no way he could’ve broken out.”

“Probably.” Draco shrugged.

“Probably?” Hermione’s voice was showing signs of her frustration when Annabeth piped up.

“Apparently, Seaweed Brain and Nico thought it might be a good idea to do a little recon and check to see if this Dolohov was still in Azkaban.”

Hermione’s eyes widened before she turned on Percy and stuck her finger out accusingly. “This was your infernal idea, wasn’t it? And what, you’re just going to drag Nico along?”

Nico sighed. “It was actually my idea to get ‘dragged along’ as you’ve put it.”

“Seriously?”

“Well, yeah.” Nico nodded. “I can shadow travel there and back. Percy’s not going to stay here, we both know it. Annabeth is pissed that she wasn’t told sooner and everyone is afraid of your reaction.”

“Nice way to put it so succinctly.” Theo snarked, but one look from Hermione had him shutting up.

After a few minutes Hermione sighed and shook her head. She didn’t really think Dolohov was behind this, but what if he was? Or perhaps was helping whomever it was who was trying to hurt her? Could she really afford to discount the possibility?

Realizing she couldn’t ignore it, Hermione decided to come up with a compromise.

“Look, I’m not going to dismiss this, as I agree it’s something we need to consider. I will send an owl to Harry and have he and Ron go to Azkaban and check to see if Dolohov is still there. This way, no one needs to shadow travel and put themselves into danger unnecessarily, agreed?”

Annabeth smirked at her boyfriend, who’s expression was sheepish as he hadn’t even considered asking Harry to check. Even Nico and Draco seemed appeased.

“I think that’s an excellent suggestion Mi.” Annabeth chimed in, and her expression left little room to doubt that it was the only choice.

“Fine.” Percy pouted while Nico just nodded.

“Good, I’m going to head to the owlry.”

“I’ll go with you.” Percy spoke up, but one look from his older cousin had him halting in his tracks.

“I think you can stay here with Annabeth.”

Hermione moved off and headed outside, when she realized she was being followed. Turning around, she stared in shock at the wizard standing there.

“You really shouldn’t be walking around alone, Granger.”

“And you’re going to protect me from the big, bad monsters if one should attack?”

Draco chuckled. “Nah, I just figured I wouldn’t want to miss out on a bit of action after yesterday’s debacle.”

“Oh?”

“Come on Granger,” Draco moved over and fell in step with her, “owlry, letter and let’s get back inside.”

Huffing in irritation, Hermione just continued on her chosen path trying to ignore the blonde git walking next to her.

Draco however, had no intention of being ignored for long as he eventually spoke up.

“So, I saw Percy talking to Chiron through that Iris Message thing. Is that the main way you lot communicate?”

Hermione nodded absently, as she continued to walk towards the owlry steps.

“Who’s Mr. D?”

“Huh?”

Draco chuckled at Granger’s expression, which was both curious and wary.

“Mr. D?”

“Oh!” Hermione nodded. “Mr. D is Dionysus. My father banished him to Camp for 100 years because he did something he wasn’t supposed to do. Don’t ask me, I don’t know. But he isn’t able to drink wine and he can’t conjure it either. If he tries, it just turns to water. Being sober for 100 years is clearly not what he’d had in mind.”

Draco broke down in laughter, and Hermione had to admit he looked damn handsome as his faced softened in humor.

Once he’d calmed a bit, he just shook his head in wonder. “That’s got to be tough.”

“I suppose it is for him. However a hundred years is a blink of an eye to a God. I’m sure whatever he did couldn’t have been too horrible.”

Draco nodded, not really thinking along those lines, but realizing Granger made a good point. When they’d reached the owlry, he watched as she took a piece of parchment from her bag and then called a School owl down to her.

“Hello, and what’s your name pretty boy?”

The owl hooted and she smiled widely. “Well, Argo...could you deliver this letter to Harry Potter?”

The owl hooted happily a few more times and then nuzzled her hair before taking off into the sunset.

Draco watched the exchange curiously before he turned his head upwards and noticed all the owls were quietly staring down at them. His breath hitched as he stuttered out, “Uhm, Granger?”

“Yes?” She turned to face him and then noticed where his attention was. When she looked up, she grinned at the owls who were watching them closely.

“Why, hello? How are you all doing today?”

Several hoots sounded out in response and then an owl swooped down and perched onto Draco’s shoulder. It was a beautiful golden Eagle Owl.

“Hey girl.” Draco rubbed his owls beak fondly before the owl hooted and then moved over onto Hermione’s shoulder, much to Draco’s astonishment. His owl never went to anyone but him!

“Hi girl!” Hermione cooed and the owl responded with several short hoots of her own. “Oh, that’s really your name?” The owl hooted again and Hermione giggled. Draco just seemed perplexed as he watched his owl having a full blown conversation with Granger.

After a few minutes, the owl hooted one final time then went back up to the rafters. Draco followed Hermione out of the owlry and asked, “Did you just have a conversation with my owl?”

“I did.”

Hermione couldn’t help but giggle at Malfoy’s disbelieving expression, so she decided to explain.

“When my powers were unbound it allowed me to speak telepathically to all the animals of the sky. Owls, Hippogriffs, even Dragons.”

Draco choked out in surprise as his eyes widened comically before he sputtered out, “That’s not possible!”

“Perhaps for everyone else who isn’t me, you’re right. I went to Romania before school started to help Charlie Weasley with an injured dragon. He allowed me to help him and then I left unharmed.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes Malfoy.” Hermione huffed in amusement. “Don’t act so surprised.”

“Excuse me Granger, but it’s not everyday someone tells that they can speak with Dragons.” Draco’s expression became thoughtful before he asked quietly, “What kind of Dragon was it?”

“Hungarian Horntail. His name was Zee.”

“Merlin’s Beard!” Draco whispered in awe before he gave Granger an appraising look. “Didn’t you free a dragon from Gringotts?”

Hermione nodded, blushing a bit which caused Draco to grin.

“Were you able to communicate with it?”

Shaking her head in the negative, Draco’s expression turned to shock.

“Salazar Granger! I still can’t believe you freed their security Dragon.”

Hermione’s gaze narrowed. “Isn’t your family vault on the same level as the Lestrange’s?”

Draco smirked and shook his head. “No, ours is deeper down inside the bowels of Gringotts.”

“And what kind of magical beasts are guarding the Malfoy vaults?”

Draco put his hands up in supplication. “Don’t shoot the messenger Granger. If you must know, the Malfoy’s have their own level which is warded by blood magic. You could’ve never broken into a Malfoy family vault using Polyjuice and Potter’s Invisibility Cloak.”

Hermione’s faced paled as she stared at Malfoy in horror. “How did you know how we broke into Gringotts?”

This engendered an amused chuckle as Malfoy just grinned. “It wasn’t too difficult to figure out Granger. I’m not an idiot.”

“No Malfoy, I never said you were. A git and a bigoted prat sure, but definitely not an idiot.”

As they continued to make their way back into the castle, Draco gently reached for Granger’s arm to halt their progress. He wasn’t surprised by her wary expression when she faced him fully.

“I know it’s going to take some time for you and I to get past everything that’s happened Granger. Obviously we have to work together in our classes and try and find a way to, if not become friends, learn to be tolerable to each other. I deserve every censure you choose to direct my way and for what it’s worth, I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness. But perhaps we can try to at least start with refraining from being disrespectful to each other and see where it goes from there?”

Hermione blushed, feeling a bit embarrassed despite those latent feelings of self-righteousness that were held deeply within her psyche where Malfoy was concerned. It was clear he was trying to change, and he had been unusually kind to Nico, who really seemed to genuinely like Malfoy. She trusted Nico’s judgement, so perhaps it was time to let the hurt go and put the past where it belonged.

“You’re right Malfoy. We do need to try and work together and for my part, I’m willing to really try to do better.”

Draco nodded. “Then that’s all I can ask.”

He then gestured for her to proceed him inside the castle, before he left her to head towards the Slytherin Dungeons. Before he disappeared from sight, Granger called out his name and he turned to face her fully.

“For what it’s worth Malfoy, I really like your Owl’s name and she seems to like it too.”

Draco smirked, watching as Granger turned away and walked up towards the staircases leading to the Library. He couldn’t help but feel that perhaps today they’d finally turned a corner but he also knew he had a long way to go to make amends and prove himself to her. However, he wasn’t a Slytherin for nothing and he could bide his time. Patience apparently, was a virtue he’d have to cultivate this year.

Chapter Text

It was nearly a week later before Hermione received a reply from Harry, and when she opened and read the parchment at breakfast that Monday morning, her agitation was clear when her hair started crackling and ozone filled the Great Hall. Percy reached for the letter and his expression darkened noticeably before his gaze lifted to Nico and then towards Annabeth. Words didn’t need to be exchanged, they’d all realized that Dolohov was no longer in Azkaban. The question as to how he escaped, according to Harry’s letter, was still being heavily investigated.

Hermione left quickly to her first class that morning while everyone in the Great Hall just watched the witch leave, most with looks of concern.

Annabeth caught Percy before she and Nico headed to class together.

“What did Harry say?”

Percy sighed as he noticed the Slytherin trio from the corner of his eye. Malfoy was clearly interested in their conversation.

“It seems that Dolohov is no longer a prisoner within Azkaban.”

Annabeth gasped a little before her eyes narrowed angrily. “Do they have any idea how the wizard might’ve escaped?”

Percy shook his head, and then his blue eyes settled on grey.

“Do you have any idea, Malfoy?”

Annabeth looked over her shoulder at the three Slytherin wizards standing there. It was clear that Draco Malfoy was waiting to be addressed before he spoke up.

“No, not exactly.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Annabeth’s voice lowered angrily.

“Look, I only knew Dolohov cursorily and even then, the wizard was elusive and not someone who cultivated trust within the Dark Lord’s ranks. He had complete autonomy to pretty much do as he wished and he was a sadistic bastard who enjoyed inflicting pain on others. I don’t know how much Granger shared with you about our third year, but there was a wizard...my cousin Sirius Black...who’d been a prisoner of Azkaban. He escaped, only due to the fact that he was an unregistered animagus. I had thought that the Ministry had closed that particular loophole after Black had escaped, but now I’m beginning to wonder if they did.”

“Dolohov is an animagus?”

“I believe he just might be. I overheard a conversation once between him and another Death Eater, Corban Yaxley. Their discussion wasn’t important, but the takeaway I got from it was that Dolohov was very likely an animagus.”

Percy shook his head in frustration. “Do you have any idea what shape or form he morphs into?”

“No, I never got that far.”

“Great, which means he could be just about anything.” Annabeth groused out unhappily, before giving Percy a squeeze on his arm. “Look, we need to get to class but we’ll figure this out.”

“I know.” Percy stated firmly before nodding over to Malfoy. “Thanks for the info.”

“Not a problem.” Draco went to walk away to class, but then stopped. “One thing however,” when the Demigods turned to him he continued, “animagus’ usually don’t take on the form of any magical creatures. So we might be able to rule that out as a possibility.”

“Is there anyone we could ask?” Nico questioned with a grimace.

“The Headmistress obviously. She’s a Transfiguration Mistress and an animagus.”

Percy nodded again. “I’ll do that then. Thanks Malfoy.”

“Sure.”

The conversation ended and everyone made their way to their respective classes.

It wasn’t until later that same afternoon that Percy had a chance to speak with the Headmistress. He had managed to get out of Potions without being accosted by Astoria Greengrass although Professor Slughorn couldn’t seem to stop gushing over his natural talent for potions making.

After making his way to her office, he gave the password and was allowed immediate entrance. If the Headmistress was surprised to see him, she didn’t give that impression.

“Mr. Jackson, what can I do for you this afternoon?”

“I’m sorry to bother you Headmistress, but I had some questions about animagi.”

“Is there any particular reason for this interest?”

“Yes Ma’am. I have reason to believe that a wizard, Antonin Dolohov might be one. Apparently he’s no longer incarcerated within Azkaban according to Harry. I think he might be either behind the attack on Mi or know who is.”

McGonagall’s cheeks paled as she huffed in disgust. “So, you think that’s how he escaped?”

Percy nodded. “It’s happened before, according to Draco Malfoy. He told me that he’d overheard a conversation between Dolohov and another man...Yaxley? Anyway, Malfoy seemed to think that Dolohov might just be an animagus.”

“That’s concerning Mr. Jackson but I’m unsure we can do anything about it at present time.”

“Actually, that’s what I wanted to discuss with you Headmistress. Is there some kind of ward spell that might warn when someone is in animagus form?”

Minerva shook her head. “No, nothing that I’m aware of Mr. Jackson. I’m sorry.”

Percy nodded sadly. Thanking the Headmistress for her time. Before he stepped out of her office completely, he asked one final question.

“Is there a spell that can force someone to stay in their animagus form indefinitely?”

“Yes. There is an animagus spell that not only can bind a human into their form, but can reverse the transformation forcefully.”

“And what would those spells be?”

Minerva gave the demigod a long look before she went over to her personal shelf and then walked over, handing the book to Percy. He gazed down at the tome for a moment before thanking the Headmistress. When he went to turn to leave, his eyes caught movement from above and he found himself staring into the eyes of several portraits on the wall, who were all openly watching him. One however, he hadn’t noticed on the several times he’d been into the room this past summer coming to and from Harry’s home. It was of an elderly wizard with a long white beard, funny clothing and a distinctive twinkle in his blue eyes.

“Ah Mr. Jackson. It is good to finally meet you.”

Minerva turned towards the portrait and sighed. “Albus, Mr. Jackson was just leaving.”

The elderly wizard cleared his throat for a moment before he said, “There’s no need to get defensive Minerva. I was just saying hello.”

“Well, now you may say goodbye.” Minerva then nodded to Percy. “Off you go, Mr. Jackson. I will see you at Dinner.”

“Of course. Thank you again, Headmistress.”

Minerva flicked her wand and the door opened, allowing for Percy to walk through and down the staircase and into the hallway. When he turned the corner, he was surprised to see Malfoy standing at the end of the hallway talking to Astoria Greengrass. The young witch had her hand on Malfoy’s arm in a rather familiar way, which caused Percy’s eyebrows to lift as Malfoy noticed him and immediately excused himself from his conversation.

When Percy reached him, Malfoy nodded and fell into step with him.

“I take it you talked to McGonagall?”

Percy lifted up the book in his hand. “Yep.”

“And?”

“There’s no way to modify the wards to detect an animagus, but she did give me this book which apparently has some information on how to force an animagus back into their human form and also to keep a human trapped into their animal form.”

Draco lifted an eyebrow as he nodded thoughtfully. “I suppose that could be helpful.”

“Yeah.” Percy agreed, before he asked, “You and Astoria?”

Draco’s face blanched and then he vehemently shook his head. “Uhm, no. She’s a friend.” Draco ran his hand through his blonde hair with a tinge of agitation. “Apparently her Father wrote to her this morning to let her know that my Father is trying to arrange a betrothal for myself and her.”

Percy’s eyes widened as he stopped suddenly, staring in disgust at the blonde wizard.

“I’m sorry? As in an arranged marriage? Do you people still seriously do that kind of barbaric thing?”

Draco’s spine stiffened before he sighed in resignation. “Yes, although it’s not quite as commonplace as it used to be.”

“Why would your Father do such a thing? Do you even like Astoria in that way? I thought...” Percy’s voice fell away uncomfortably, but one look at Malfoy had him realizing that the wizard wasn’t any happier about it than he was.

“No, I’ve never been interested in Astoria in that way,” Draco admitted, “she’s like a little sister.”

Percy’s face made a moue of disgust as he shook his head. “So what are you gong to do?”

“I’m off to write a letter to my Mother explaining my situation and asking her to intervene on my behalf with my Father. I want to see...”

“You don’t need to tell me.” Percy offered. “In fact I’d prefer it if you didn’t. I’m still on the fence about whether or not I think you deserve a chance.”

“On the fence?”

“Muggle saying.”

“Ah.” Draco smirked for a moment. “For what it’s worth, Astoria doesn’t want the match anymore than I do.”

“Well I guess that’s reassuring then.”

“Yeah, I can tell by the tone of your voice that you really care about my love life.”

“Only inasmuch as you don’t hurt my cousin again.”

“Duly noted.” Draco bit back with a grin. “We should probably head to the Great Hall for dinner.”

“You go on ahead, I need to take care of something before I go inside.”

Malfoy gave him a questioning look, but thankfully didn’t press the issue as he walked inside the Great Hall leaving Percy alone. Percy then walked out of the castle and headed down towards the Black Lake, making his way towards the shore where he placed his hand on the top of the water, silently sending out a message as the water rippled away from the shoreline.

It was about five minutes later that the water shifted back towards him, and he stepped back onto the shore when the water morphed into a visage and then before him stood his father.

“Hello Son.”

“Hey Dad.”

Poseidon looked around with a raised eyebrow. “I’m surprised to see you here of all places.”

Percy nodded and walked over to a set of rocks and sat down, his Father following as Poseidon took a seat next to his son.

“What can I do for you Percy?”

“I’m really sorry to bother you.”

Poseidon shook his head at his son in admonishment. “I’ve told you before Percy, I’ll always come when you have need of me.”

“I know, but this time it isn’t for me.”

“Oh?”

Percy nodded and then told his Father everything that had happened with the Minotaur and how concerned he was about his cousin being in danger.

“Do you have any idea who could be after her?”

Poseidon looked towards the horizon with a contemplative expression, and when he made eye contact with Percy, his deep blue eyes were stormy and conflicted.

“I wish I could tell you Percy. I have my suspicions but this is not something I can get involved in. At least not yet.”

“I don’t understand.”

Poseidon placed a hand on his son’s shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “Things are in motion that even I can’t interfere with. It is the way of the fates and the Gods. We are bound to not interfere with the tapestry of fate. Whatever is to come, you must know that it needs to progress as it should. The only way I will involve myself is if something were to happen to you Percy. There is a reason that my brothers and I did not have mortal children for millennia, just as there is a reason now that we have. Whatever comes to pass, know that it must happen.”

“And Mi? Is she supposed to continue to be a pawn? Geez Dad! She had her powers bound! Even I can see how harsh that was. She nearly died.”

“And yet she didn’t.” Poseidon sighed. “I do not claim to understand my brother Percy. Zeus has always done things the way he’s seen fit, but I do know that there is more to that choice than you realize. In time you’ll come to understand why that was allowed to happen.”

Percy handed the book in his hands to his Father. “I need to know if there is a way I can detect a mortal transformed into an animals body. Apparently there isn’t a spell of any kind but...”

Poseidon shook his head. “In this instance I can’t help you Son. What I can tell you is that the attack won’t likely be the end of it. What I can share is that Hermione’s powers were still bound even after the promise of Zeus was made that night after the Battle of Manhattan. Which means, she technically wasn’t protected by the same oaths that came before. The fact that Zeus chose to claim her, is surprising. I’m not the only one who took notice of that.”

Percy stared at his Father for a few moments before he nodded his head. “I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks for coming and talking with me.”

Poseidon smiled. “Of course Son. Tyson says hello, told me to tell you he misses you and for you to come visit him soon.”

“I’ll see what I can do. Tell him I miss him too.”

Poseidon stood up and looked over Percy’s shoulder with a wicked smirk. “I believe you have a stalker, Son. Not to worry though, I don’t think the person means any harm.”

Percy turned around and said firmly, “Malfoy, that better not be you.”

The disillusionment spell dropped and Draco stood there with a grin upon his face. Percy rolled his eyes as he shook his head angrily. Poseidon chuckled deeply before his eyes clouded over in a tempest as he considered the wizard before him. Draco took a quick step back, understanding dawning just whom this man was. He hadn’t been able to hear their conversation even with magic, which he’d though odd. Now, he understood why.

Draco bowed in respect as Poseidon grinned at the boy.

“You are Draco Malfoy.”

Draco’s head shot up in surprise as he nodded dumbly. “Yes My Lord, I am.”

“Hmmm.” Poseidon’s rumbling voice was noncommittal but his eyes were not. He then turned towards his son. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help.”

“No, it’s okay Dad. Thanks for coming.”

Poseidon nodded. “Anytime, you know that.”

The two men hugged and then Percy walked over to Malfoy and said lowly, “turn around and don’t look back.”

Draco just nodded and followed the instructions, noticing Percy doing the same. He then felt intense heat as there was an aura bursting like an raging inferno and then nothing.

He then stared at Percy in shock. “What was that?” His magic had felt...it was unlike anything he’d ever felt. The power was astonishing.

Percy just smirked. “You didn’t think what you saw just now, was my Father’s true form, did you? Gods have a Divine Form, that when their essence is all in one place...well, suffice to say you’d not survive the experience.”

“Then how did I?” Draco sputtered, not coherent enough to finish that thought.

Percy shrugged. “The Gods are all powerful. Trust me, if my Father had wanted to incinerate you, he would have.”

“Fucking Salazar.” Draco whispered in awe before he noticed Percy openly glaring at him.

“Is this going to become some bad habit, Malfoy? Because if it is, next time I’ll just ask my Dad to turn you to ash.”

Draco paled as he swallowed uncomfortably. “I didn’t realize you’d be...”

“What? Trying to get answers? Who better to ask then my Father? Geez Malfoy, are you always this reckless?”

Draco bristled at that comment and sneered haughtily. “I’ll have you know I’m not reckless by nature.”

“Ah, so more of a wait and see kind of guy? Don’t commit yourself unless you’re forced to?”

“Low blow Jackson.”

Percy just grinned malevolently. “Not really. I’ve kept my mouth shut but if you’re going to continue to show up in places you don’t belong and aren’t invited to, I won’t be so accommodating.”

“My only motive is to keep Granger safe.”

“Too little, too late.”

“Fuck you Jackson!” Draco growled out angrily. “Not all of us had the luxury of choice growing up.”

This caused Percy to scoff. “We all have choices Malfoy. Sometimes all we have are bad choices. The trick is to figure out what the best of those bad choices is.”

“And I did that Jackson. I kept my mother safe and alive. I won’t apologize for it either.”

“You don’t need to apologize to me, Malfoy. But you want something now that I’m not sure you deserve. But do you want to know what concerns me the most?”

“Not really, although I’m pretty sure you’re going to share it.”

“Watch it Malfoy. Don’t think that I can’t wipe the floor with you at any time I want. You are no match for me.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure Jackson.”

Percy grinned before his face dropped, noticing Annabeth coming towards them. “I’ll tell you this once. I don’t trust you. You are no better than Luke. Mi cared for him and he broke her heart. Made really bad choices. Something tells me you’re just like him.”

Draco gaped at Percy, who wasn’t giving an inch as he stared him down. When Annabeth got to them, she gave each a questioning look before she spoke.

“Do I want to know what’s going on?”

“I’ll tell you later.” Percy said as he took his girlfriend’s hand in his. As he walked away, he stopped and turned. “Just remember what I said Malfoy.”

Draco didn’t answer as he glowered angrily at the two Demigods as they walked back into the castle. He wasn’t angry at Jackson, but more at himself because everything the demigod had accused him of was spot on. It didn’t change the facts though, nor his feelings. He wouldn’t let anyone hurt Granger again, not even himself.

Chapter Text

Hermione noticed immediately when Percy and Annabeth walked into the Great Hall together and it was only a few moments later they were followed by Malfoy, who seemed to be sulking for some unknown reason. Deciding to ignore that little tid bit for the moment, Hermione waited until Percy sat down next to her.

“Everything alright?” She asked softly.

“Not really.”

“Okay? Anything you want to share?”

“Not really.”

Hermione shook her head in exasperation at her cousin and when she looked up towards the Slytherin table, she noticed Malfoy glaring in her general direction, but not at her specifically. When Percy’s gaze locked onto Malfoy’s a few seconds later, both boys stared at each other until Hermione snapped her fingers in front of Percy’s face in irritation.

“That’s not nothing.”

Percy reluctantly broke the stare to turn his head, giving her his undivided attention for the moment.

“It’s fine Mi.”

Hermione’s expression clearly said ‘Excuse me?’ As she glared at her cousin with an incredulous look.

“I’m sorry Percy, but do I look like an blithering idiot?”

Percy sighed and shook his head. “No Mi, I don’t think anyone would ever think to call you an idiot.”

“And yet you think I can’t tell when something is going on?”

Percy plated some food and then stood up to head to the hearth to make his offering before he sat back down. When he did, he noticed that his cousin was waiting patiently for an answer.

“Look, Malfoy and I just had a disagreement. It’s not a big deal.”

“Really?” Hermione turned her head and noticed Draco talking to Nico, who seemed to be listening intently and nodding his head. “And what was this disagreement about?”

Percy shifted uncomfortably, which caused Hermione’s gaze to narrow in suspicion. “Percy?”

“Yes cousin dear?”

“Explain.”

“Mi, it’s really nothing for you to be concerned about.”

“You know, this isn’t going to work. I dealt with both Harry and Ron being overprotective gits for seven years and now apparently, it’s your turn? I can take care of myself.”

“I know Mi, but you don’t have to. I just want to protect you.”

“From Malfoy? Did he threaten me?”

Percy sighed, but shook his head in the negative and watched as his cousin bit her lip as she was clearly mulling over what he wasn’t saying. After a minute she sighed unhappily.

“If he didn’t threaten me then why do I feel like you threatened him?”

Percy shifted again and Hermione knew she’d hit the nail on the head.

“You threatened Malfoy?”

Percy swallowed uncomfortably and nodded.

“Why?”

“He keeps showing up in places he’s not supposed to be. Did you know that his Father is trying to arrange a marriage for him with Astoria Greengrass?”

Hermione’s face paled as she whispered out, “And you know this, how?”

“He told me.”

“Why would he share that with you?”

“Because I saw him talking to her.” Percy hastily explained, seeing the uncertainty in Mi’s expression. “He doesn’t want it apparently and neither does Astoria. He also followed me twice, invisible of course.”

“He was spying on you?”

Percy nodded. “I think he just wants to know what’s going on.”

“Why?”

Percy sighed. “Why do you think Mi?”

Hermione bit her lip as she turned her head, feeling someone staring at her. Her amber eyes locked with grey and she could see the questioning look Malfoy was giving her. Shaking her head, she turned back to her cousin.

“You’re wrong. He doesn’t see me like that.”

“Now who’s being blind?” Percy bit out. “He’s Luke all over again Mi.”

Hermione’s eyes filled with reluctant years and Percy realized he’d gone too far and he watched helplessly as Mi stood up and dashed out of the Great Hall, not caring what anyone thought as all eyes were focused on her.

When Percy looked up across the hall again, not only was Malfoy glaring at him but Nico looked unhappy as well as his younger cousin stood up and followed Hermione out of the Great Hall. Percy felt like a first class jerk, and when he caught Annabeth’s eye, she didn’t look too happy with him either.

Crap! He could’ve handled that one better.

Hermione made her way towards the courtyard as she took a spot along the far wall that overlooked the Black Lake. She didn’t understand why she was feeling this way? She knew that she had no claim on Malfoy, but that didn’t stop her heart from freezing when Percy had shared the truth of Draco’s situation with Astoria Greengrass. But to compare Malfoy to Luke? That was harsh, even for Percy.

She didn’t hear anyone approaching until she felt Nico’s presence as he moved alongside her and sat down.

“You okay?”

Hermione shook her head. “Nope.”

“What did Percy say?”

“Not much. Only that he threatened Malfoy. Oh, and Malfoy has been following him and apparently is to be betrothed to Astoria Greengrass.”

Nico’s expression darkened as he felt like punching his other cousin for being such an idiot.

“Alright. So yes, apparently Draco did follow Percy who was talking to his dad.”

At Hermione’s shocked look, Nico just nodded. “Poseidon comes and talks to Percy whenever he needs him to.”

Hermione nodded sadly. “And your Dad?”

“I can visit whenever I wish.”

“I see.”

Nico did see. He knew what Hermione was thinking and he had to admit, she had good reason to feel the way she did.

“What did Percy say to make you this upset?”

“He said that Malfoy was just another Luke.”

Nico whistled. “That’s harsh.”

“I guess.”

“Do you think Percy is right?”

“I don’t know because I didn’t get a chance to talk to Luke before he decided to go off the deep end and Malfoy’s always been a git, so that complicates things.”

“And yet you care for them both.”

Hermione scoffed as her face pulled into a pained expression. “So what does that say about me?”

“That you have the best heart of anyone I know.”

“For all the good it’s done me.” Hermione turned her gaze outward as she stared up into the night sky and Nico realized he needed to be honest with his cousin. If she ended up finding out later that he’d kept the truth from her, she’d never trust him again and he didn’t want to lose her.

“I have a small confession to make.”

Hermione’s amber eyes turned back to his dark ones with a surprised expression. “A confession?”

“Yeah. I debated on whether to say anything but I realized tonight that you deserve to know. You need to know that you came first where Luke was concerned.”

“I don’t understand.”

Nico sighed and then told her everything. “When I went down to Elysium to check on Professor Snape like you’d asked, I saw Luke. He asked me what I was doing there and I told him you sent me. He’d thought you had sent me to check up on him.”

“Oh.” Was all Hermione could get out, her brain processing this new information.

“Yeah, he was pretty unhappy when I told him I wasn’t there to see him at your request. He shared something with me Mi...something that completely changed the way I viewed all the choices he made with Kronos.”

Hermione’s brow furrowed in confusion. “What did he tell you?”

“He made the choice he did for you.”

“For me?”

Nico nodded. “He loved you Mi. When you came to Camp nearly dead the end of your fifth year here, Luke was despondent. He’d realized with your powers bound, it was likely you were going to die in your quest without ever being acknowledged for whom you truly were. Chiron knew about your paternity, but only because my Father did and your mother informed him of it as well. Luke realized if he didn’t force the issue, you might never be claimed as was your right. So he allowed Kronos to believe he was manipulating him, when Luke knew all along he’d have to die to defeat Kronos and extract the promise from your Father. He trusted Percy to follow through with the request because he knew how loyal Percy was to the other Demigods.”

“His fatal flaw.” Hermione breathed out in shock. “Luke used Percy’s fatal flaw against him?”

Nico shrugged. “I can’t prove it but yeah, I believe he did.”

Hermione’s felt tears leaking from her eyes as she hastily wiped them away. She just stared at her cousin, looking for any sign that he was messing with her but Nico’s expression disabused her of that notion. He was dead serious.

“Luke loved me?”

Nico nodded. “More than his own life, Mi. He said to me, ‘what would you have done if the person you’d loved was forced into the situation of having her powers bound?’ He did what he did for you.”

Hermione shook her head in anger. How could Luke have been so foolish? Didn’t he realize she would’ve never asked that of him?”

“I would’ve never...”

“I know, Luke knew it too. That’s why he did it. Because you never ask for anything for yourself. You give and give Mi. But the thing is, you need to decide what it is you truly want.”

Hermione stared at her cousin, feeling like there was something she was still missing.

“What aren’t you telling me Nico?”

Nico sighed at how smart and clever his cousin was. “My Father said he’d give you the choice.”

Hermione paled again as she licked her lips. “What choice?” It came out as a pained whisper.

“I think you know what choice. I can’t speak of it directly to you and I think you know why. So you need to try and figure out where you’re heart is truly at and with whom.”

Hermione turned her head to stare back out into the night as she pondered over Nico’s words.

When Nico realized she wasn’t going to respond, he stood up and went to leave before his cousin’s voice stopped him in his tracks.

“And Malfoy?”

“I think you know the answer to that question as well Mi.”

Hermione nodded without turning around and Nico walked back into the castle. Before he got too far, he turned towards the far wall and muttered lowly, “You better be sure about this. Because if you’re not, and she gets hurt I will end you.”

The disillusionment charm dropped and Draco stood there partially hidden in the shadows, his grey eyes glittering with raw emotion as he nodded once and Nico returned the gesture before moving back into the castle, leaving his cousin to try and figure out where her head and heart was truly at and wondering if he’d just didn’t make a huge miscalculation.

Chapter Text

Days had passed and everyone began to notice that Hermione was completely subdued and not speaking much to anyone. Percy had tried to apologize, but she had just told him to let it be and give her time to process everything. Annabeth and Ginny, like the good friends they were, just supported in silence as they weren’t exactly sure what had happened. Nico had taken to skulking in the shadows and didn’t engage much with even his own housemates leaving Malfoy on edge while he waited for a reply from his mother.

He and Granger had worked together on their Potions project, but didn’t talk about anything other than school work despite his desire to do so. He had overheard most of the conversation with Nico and Granger, which had left him feeling both hopeful and despondent in equal measure. It was a stark reminder that despite gaining a modicum of forgiveness from Granger, she could end up not choosing him in the end.

So Draco had spent these past few days thinking about exactly how he was going to go about this. He knew his mother held enough sway with Lucius that she could get him to back off on the betrothal. He had confessed his feelings to his mother, but something told him that she already suspected. Draco wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not.

But the larger truth was he didn’t want to start pursuing Granger if he was going to be bound to this betrothal nonsense with Astoria. He couldn’t do that to her nor himself. He wouldn’t make empty promises to a witch, especially one he cared for. He might be a prat and an elitist jerk, but he was raised to comport himself more appropriately than that. Perhaps he should’ve remembered that growing up.

No, he’d definitely should’ve remembered that. If he had, he wouldn’t be in this position right now.

As he made his way to the Great Hall for breakfast, he suddenly remembered the date: September 19th, it was Granger’s birthday today and a Saturday.

When he sauntered into the Great Hall he immediately noticed it was still fairly empty so he sat down and pulled out a book from his robes. As he started to read the Hall began to fill in with students and staff until he felt Nico sliding into the spot next to him. After a few moments, the food appeared on the table and Draco watched with interest as Nico plated his food and went to the hearth to offer his gift to the Gods. When he sat back down, Draco’s gaze moved to the entryway and he saw Hermione walking in with the Weaslette, with Percy and Annabeth following closely behind.

It wasn’t too long after that the owls swooped down into the hall and Draco noticed that several letters and a package were dropped off for Granger. She seemed surprised, but slowly opened each one with a genuine smile. When she got to the package, she opened it and Draco saw her gasp in surprise as she pulled out a small velvet box that looked like a jewelry box. His eyes narrowed angrily as he couldn’t help the pang of jealousy that coursed through him as he watched Granger pull out a necklace from the box. His stare was noticed by Percy, who’s gaze locked with his and the demigod smirked at him, which just pissed him off more.

Hermione handed the pendant to Ginny, who nodded at it and then placed it around Granger’s neck. Apparently Draco wasn’t the only one who noticed but before Theo could speak, Draco’s owl swooped down and dropped off a letter. He gave her a piece of bacon and petted her ruffled feathers as she preened happily and hooted at him. When he looked up, he caught Granger smiling widely at him. He winked at her and then whispered something to his owl, who flew over to say ‘hello’ to the witch before she took off again for the owlry.

Draco opened the letter, trying to calm his racing heart as he caught Astoria staring at him from the corner of his eye. Ignoring her for the moment, he tentatively opened the missive and sighed in relief when he saw his mother’s handwriting.

 

Dearest,

I did receive your owl and I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I wasn’t aware that your Father had spoken with Lord Greengrass, so I’m grateful for you bringing this to my attention. I spoke with your Father and he was fairly adamant that a good match be made for you as soon as possible. Due to our unfortunate affiliations during the war, I can understand your Father’s desire to ensure your future. However, I do believe that based on your letter that your affections possibly lie elsewhere?

My Son, why did you not say anything before this? Have you always felt this way? I must admit, I suspected you held some attraction towards the Granger girl, if for no other reason than you’d talked about her incessantly over the years. Her heritage being what it is currently, your Father would be hard-pressed to find a better match for you. But is this what you truly want? Does the witch in question return your affections? You were rather unkind to her: we all were My Dragon. How do you know she would wish to stake her name to ours after all that has transpired? It is something you need to consider.

For now, I have postponed your Father from taking any further action until such time as you graduate Hogwarts. Perhaps this will bide you some much needed time to secure your future as you wish. I will offer my unconditional support if it will ensure your happiness.

All my love,
Mother

 

Draco sighed in relief and his eyes met Astoria’s and he nodded once. Her returning grin and look of relief had him shaking his head at her. When he looked back up at the Gryffindor table, he noticed Granger’s expression which seemed pained, but she quickly masked it as she stared back down at her correspondence. Groaning inwardly, he realized what she might’ve misconstrued from that brief exchange.

Theo cleared his throat and Draco’s glare had him smirking knowingly.

“The betrothal is off?”

“For now.” Draco nodded.

“That’s good.” Nico piped in. “You must be relieved.”

“You have no idea.”

“I think I do actually, but you might want to make sure that everyone is on the same page.”

“I am planning on doing that very thing today.”

“Good.” Nico said as he took another bite of his breakfast, ignoring the speculative looks from Theo and Blaise.

“Did you get anything for Granger’s birthday?” Draco asked Nico quietly.

“Yeah.”

“She got a few things.”

“Percy, Annabeth and I went in on something for her. We are going to give it to her later. We were actually wanting to throw her a small party, but didn’t know how to go about it.”

Draco thought about it for a moment before he nodded to his friends. “I think we can take care of that. Meet us by the Gryffindor common room on the seventh floor at two. We can take care of the rest.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes. It’s not a problem.”

Nico nodded in thanks and finished up his meal before heading out of the Hall. Draco was surprised to see Granger standing up and making her way outside so he told Theo and Blaise to get their house-elves on the party and then decided to follow Granger to see where she was headed.

As it turned out, she was heading outside the castle and down towards Hagrid’s hut by herself which made Draco wary. He called after her when she cleared the castle and she turned around in surprise, but stopped her progress to wait for him to join her.

“Can I help you Malfoy?”

Draco was taken aback at how frigid her voice sounded, but he realized what that was likely due to. Deciding that offense was the best defense, he said simply, “I wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday. I’d noticed you got a new necklace.”

Hermione’s hand fell to her neck as she nodded. “It’s from my cousin Hector. It’s the Dagworth-Granger family crest. He wanted me to have it. It belonged to my mother and she sent it for safe-keeping to my family overseas before she died.”

Draco’s gaze locked with the necklace as he gently lifted it from Granger’s neck to get a closer look at it. Draco couldn’t help but smirk at the lion at the center of the crest with a Crown on top of its head as it roared back ready to attack. It was very appropriate for his lioness.

“It suits you.”

Hermione blushed as she said, “Thank you. It’s the only thing I have of my birth mother’s that belonged to her. Well this and the letters she left for me.”

Draco was surprised by this admission. “Have you read them?”

Hermione shook her head as she continued on the path down to Hagrid’s. “I haven’t.”

“Might I ask why?”

“I don’t know. I suppose I’m just not ready to yet.”

“I can appreciate that.” Draco easily kept pace as they walked for a few more minutes before he spoke up again. “Parents sometimes make decisions that they think are in our best interests, but fail to take our desires into account.”

“You’re talking about Astoria, aren’t you?”

Draco was surprised by Granger’s forthrightness, but she was a Gryffindor so he really shouldn’t have been.

“Yes. My mother wrote to me today. She stopped the betrothal negotiations.”

“Oh!” Draco smirked inwardly as he watched Granger process that piece of news. He didn’t have long to wait before she asked, “Why? Astoria seems like a sweet girl.”

Draco chuckled. “She’s a girl, Granger. A friend, but not someone I could see myself spending my life with.”

“Well, then it’s good you have a choice. I know you haven’t had a lot of those.”

The shock that registered on Draco’s face at that supposition was startling, as he couldn’t mask his surprise fast enough.

“Granger, I’ve made a lot of bad choices. Many of them were of my own doing. Some weren’t it’s true, but I don’t expect you to make excuses for my bad behavior.”

“Did you ask for my forgiveness or not, Malfoy?”

Draco nodded. “I did.”

“Then a simple ‘thank you Granger’ would’ve sufficed.”

Draco chuckled deeply at being soundly reprimanded by the know it all. “Fine. You win. Thank you Granger.”

“You’re welcome Malfoy.”

“Now perhaps you might tell me why you’re down here without an escort?”

Hermione huffed in irritation. “Merlin, not this again?”

“Yes, apparently.”

“Well if you must know, Hagrid asked me to feed Fang as he had to leave this weekend to get some supplies for class next week.”

“Ah yes. Fang.”

Hermione giggled remembering back during first year and what a scaredy cat Malfoy had been out in the Forbidden Forest.

“Don’t mock me Granger. I’m not a blushing firstie anymore.”

“Were you ever?”

“Probably not.”

Hermione nodded in agreement as she entered Hagrid’s hut and cut up some meat for Fang who was snoring away in the back corner. She then poured some fresh water into the water bowl and cleaned up the mess before leaving everything as she’d found it.

When they closed the door, Hermione felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand to attention. Draco, noticing her stiffened posture, immediately has his wand drawn in defense as his eyes scanned the perimeter.

“Not again.” He mumbled lowly and saw that Granger had her sword out as well as her wand.

“What do you think it is?”

Hermione sent her senses out and she tried to determine just where the threat was coming from. When she turned to the east, Draco followed suit. It wasn’t but a few moments later that there was a heavy crunching of the underbrush and then a large cyclops broke through the trees heading straight for them both.

“Go!”

“Not a chance witch!” Draco screamed as he sent out several hexes and stunners rapidly at the cyclops, who roared in anger as he was blasted back off his feet momentarily. Draco then conjured magical restraints, which didn’t hold but for a minute as Hermione ran towards the monster and slashed the sword at its leg, spilling ichor onto the ground.

Draco gasped as the cyclops roared again and then the restraints were gone as the monster lunged for Granger. Just as it was about to hit her, another heavier sound came from the underbrush and Draco’s eyes widened as a dragon burst through the brush and grabbed the cyclops by the head and threw it across the open field. When it landed the dragon blew fire at it, but the cyclops was completely unaffected.

There were shouts in the direction of the castle as Percy and Annabeth came running into the fray, weapons alight as Percy jumped onto the cyclops while Annabeth slashed at its arms and body with her knife. Draco kept sending a barrage of spells including a jelly legs curse which caused the cyclops to fall onto the ground with Percy being thrown off its back. Draco watched in amazement as Hermione’s sword came down and plunged straight into the cyclops eye. The monster roared one final time, before he burst into dust and evaporated into the wind.

Everyone was breathing heavily before Draco moved over quickly to Granger’s side and checked her for any injuries.

“Are you alright?” He whispered and she nodded.

“You?”

“I’m fine witch, although I’m beginning to think that twice is no longer a coincidence, yes?”

“Probably not.”

Percy walked over after shaking the dust off his jeans, with Annabeth hovering over him asking if he was alright.

“You okay?”

“I’m fine Percy. Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”

“I’m fine Mi.” He then stared at Malfoy and nodded in thanks. “Thank you for protecting her.”

“You don’t need to thank me Jackson.”

“You two behave.” Annabeth admonished sharply as she stared at the large dragon hovering at the edge of the paddock. “Uhm, why is there a dragon here?”

“Oh!” Hermione turned around and walked over to the dragon, who lowered its snout to her and snorted, huffed and blew smoke as they appeared to be having some sort of conversation. When she turned and waved them over, Draco allowed Annabeth and Percy to go ahead of him as he took in the majestic beast.

It was a Hungarian Horntail, but not a fully grown one. It was about thirty to forty feet and was fiercer than any Horntail he’d ever seen. The dragon’s eyes locked onto his as he huffed, his large spiky tail swishing menacingly as he crouched down even lower.

Hermione put her hand out and Draco gasped as the dragon pushed his nose into her hand, clearly allowing her to soothe its ruffled disposition.

“This is Zee. Zee, these are my friends, Annabeth and Draco and my cousin Percy.”

Zee huffed as he spoke deeply into her mind, “The dark haired male is a Son of the Sea?”

“He is.” Hermione said softly and Zee snorted as he blew out smoke at Percy, who just coughed out in irritation.

Draco chuckled at Percy’s discomfort before the dragon’s focus came back to him. He moved his large head down and sniffed at him like he was trying to determine if he was edible or not. Whatever he sensed, it didn’t seem to be bad because he didn’t blow out smoke at him...the dragon just moved back towards Granger.

“The light haired male is a wizard, not a child of the Gods?”

“Yes Zee. Draco here is a wizard, no godly parentage to speak of.”

Zee chuffed as his tail swished. “You are in danger, Daughter of Sky. Others of my kind have been sent to guard the forest.”

“Who sent you here Zee?”

Zee’s tail swished before he snorted out smoke. “The God who rules the Sky.”

Hermione paled as she stumbled back in shock. Her Father had sent the dragon’s here to protect her?

Draco moved over and reached for Granger to steady her, clearly seeing the distress on her face.

“Granger, what is it?”

“My Father sent the dragon’s to protect me. The Forest is now guarded by them.”

Percy and Annabeth gasped in surprise, while Draco wrapped an arm around Hermione’s waist and pulled her into his side. She was clearly shocked by this new development.

Hermione’s eyes teared as she tilted her head down, trying to get ahold of her emotions. Draco leant in and whispered soothingly, “It’s going to be okay.”

All she could do was nod dumbly and then thanked Zee for coming and asked him to please thank the other dragons for her. And if they needed anything, to call for her.

“We can hunt on our own.” Zee said into her mind. “The spiders and the other monsters will sustain us.”

“Please don’t kill them all, the spiders not the monsters.”

Zee chuffed almost like he was laughing before he took flight back into the forest. Draco kept his arm around Hermione’s waist as they walked towards the castle together. When they got to the courtyard, Theo and Blaise were waiting for them with Nico.

“What happened?” Nico came over and took Hermione from Draco with a nod, surprised when the blonde released his hold.

“There was another attack.” Annabeth answered. “A cyclops.”

Nico scowled and then grabbed Mi’s hand with a squeeze. “You look okay?”

“I’m fine Nico.”

“Really?”

Hermione nodded. “My Father sent help to guard the forest.”

“What did he send?” Blaise asked with interest.

“Dragon’s, mate.” Draco grinned. “Lots of Dragon’s.”

“Merlin’s Beard!” Theo breathed out in wonder. “Did you see one?”

Draco nodded and heard Blaise murmur, ‘wicked’ as they all walked into the castle together. Draco moved over towards Hermione and whispered into her ear. “Meet me at the library at noon, okay? We should get some studying done today?”

Hermione stared up into warm grey eyes and nodded. “I can do that.”

“Good.” Draco winked again as he sauntered away with his two friends towards the Room of Requirement. He had a birthday party to plan.

Chapter Text

Draco had spent the remainder of the morning with his two best mates getting the Room of Requirement ready for Hermione’s birthday party. He had asked the Weaselette for help, as she knew Hermione best, so it hadn’t taken too long getting everything in order.

When he checked the time, Draco noted it was almost noon so he left his friends to finish up the fine tuning and headed to the library for his study date.

He wasn’t surprised to find Hermione already there waiting for him at her usual table surrounded by books. He set his book bag on the seat across from her and smirked when she didn’t immediately acknowledge his presence.

“Something interesting?”

Amber eyes lifted and regarded him intently before she sighed and gestured for him to sit down, which he did immediately.

“I’ve been researching the ingredients for Wolfsbane. Professor Slughorn was fairly adamant that the brew was tricky but I didn’t think it was going to be this difficult. It’s nearly impossible to modify it without damaging or rendering the potion ineffective.”

Draco nodded as he reached for the list of ingredients and mentally catalogued what he knew of them from his potions manuals that Severus had left to him.

“So there’s aconite, pretty self explanatory. It has to be picked during the new moon, when its potency is at its strongest. Then there’s powdered silver, moonseed, dittany, powdered moonstone, valerian root, wiggentree, rue, motherwort, salamander blood, runespoor eggs for enhanced mental acuity during the transformation and spleenwort for purifying the final product. What’s this?” Draco pointed to Hermione’s handwriting on the side of the parchment.

“Wiggenweld Potion recipe.”

Draco was confused. “I don’t understand.”

“As you know, salamander blood is used in both potions due to its intensive healing properties. Flobberworm mucus in Wiggenweld potion thickens the brew and the lionfish spines have additional healing properties as well as removing any impurities from the blood of the salamander. I did an extensive check, and none of these ingredients are contradictory to those used in Wolfsbane.”

Draco nodded thoughtfully. “So are you thinking to add Wiggenweld Potion in place of dittany or along with dittany?”

Hermione smiled at how sharp Draco’s mind was. “Dittany has anti-scarring properties that Wiggenweld doesn’t have. But if we can find a way to add it to the potion making process, without ruining the efficacy of the aconite, we just might have a more effective recipe?”

Shaking his head in wonder, Draco just said, “That’s inspired. Do you think Damocles Belby might’ve already considered that option though?”

“I don’t know. I did have one other thought though.”

“Which was?”

“Well, if aconite was picked on the new moon and that happened to fall on Beltane?”

Draco hissed in surprise...now that was inspired!

“The potency of it would be much greater.”

Hermione nodded. “The problem is there won’t be a new moon on Beltane for four more years, not until 2003.”

“So there won’t be anyway to determine if your theory is correct until then.”

Hermione nodded sadly. “If we can figure out how to improve the recipe, and determine the concentrations of the aconite we have, it might give us a template to go by if we decided to pursue this in the future. Assuming it works?”

“Granger, it’s going to work.” Draco expression was appraising and Hermione couldn’t help but blush slightly at the admiration she saw in his gaze.

“You think so?”

“Have any of your brilliant ideas ever failed?”

She shrugged, but didn’t answer directly which generated a husky chuckle from the blonde wizard across from her.

“Let’s get started on this and take it to Professor Slughorn. Maybe he can give us some feedback if we are on the right track?”

“Sounds like a plan.”

The two students worked diligently until they had an proposal that made sense to them both, and when Draco looked up to check the time, he saw the Weaselette walking into the library towards them with purpose.

“There you are!” Ginny shook her head in exasperation at her best friend. “It’s your birthday and a Saturday. Put the books away, and come have some fun!”

Hermione huffed at her friend, but realized that Ginny wasn’t going to let it go so she nodded and apologized to Draco. He told her it was fine and to go enjoy her afternoon. When they left the library, he quickly packed his book bag and made his way to the Gryffindor common room where Nico, Percy and Annabeth were waiting. Finnegan, Thomas and Lovegood were there as well, and the group made their way to the Room of Requirement before Draco paced in front of the wall and the door appeared.

“That’s cool.” Percy said as Draco opened the door and they all followed him inside.

The room was decorated with streamers of silver, gold and red and there were chairs situated for everyone as well as a table that had food and drinks. A birthday cake was over in the far corner under a stasis charm and it looked perfect. There was even a large banner in the center of the room that said ‘Happy 19th Birthday!’ and Draco had to admit that his friend’s had done a great job.

Blaise and Theo came into the room a few minutes later with Pansy, Daphne and Goyle who looked out of place and was clearing wishing he was somewhere else. A few minutes more and they were joined by Smith, Hannah Abbott and Susan Bones. But it was the last minute additions of Ron Weasley and Harry Potter that had Draco grimacing.

“This looks great!” Harry said as he went to grab a bottle of butter beer. “Who’s idea was this?”

“Draco’s.” Nico said firmly and everyone turned to stare at the blonde, who just glared openly at the Son of Hades.

“No seriously, who’s idea was it?” The Weasel spouted out with a sneer.

“Seriously, it was Draco who did this with Blaise and Theo. I mentioned to them this morning that Annabeth, Percy and I wanted to plan a party for Mi, and they volunteered to help.”

Harry just stood there stunned while Ron’s face started to turn red. But before he could open his mouth and ruin the moment, Ginny’s patronus burst into the room and said, “We will be there in five minutes.”

Everyone got situated and quiet, and before too long the door opened and in walked Hermione to the cheers of ‘Happy Birthday!’

The stunned expression on her face was priceless and then Draco could see her tearing up as she smiled widely when she noticed Potter and Weasley along with everyone else.

“Oh my! This is a surprise!”

Harry and Ron rushed over giving their best friend hugs and then it was Annabeth’s turn with Percy and Nico following closely behind. After a while, Hermione had made her way around the room saying hello and talking with everyone until she got to the Slytherin’s who were sitting off by themselves, clearly not sure if they should engage or not.

“Thank you all for coming.” Hermione said politely.

“Happy Birthday.” Daphne said kindly. “I didn’t know you were almost a year older than some of us?”

“Yeah, I’ve always been one of the oldest in the class. Of course I’m probably a bit closer to twenty with the use of the time turner third year.”

All the Slytherin’s stared at the witch in shock. “Uhm, time turner?” Blaise asked incredulously.

Hermione’s blushed and nodded. “Yes. It’s a long story though. Maybe I’ll tell it some other time?”

“Sure.” “Okay.” Everyone seemed to mumble a form of agreement and then Hermione said, “and thank you for putting this together. Nico told me what you three did.”

Theo shrugged. “It’s was Drake’s idea, we were just happy to help.”

“Oh?” Hermione eyes locked with Draco’s but he didn’t say anything, just returned her stare. “Well, it was very nice of you.”

“That’s us Granger, a snake den of nice.”

Everyone snickered, but Hermione expression fell as she nodded once and then left them alone again. Draco sighed as he realized she misconstrued his sarcasm for disdain.

“Excuse me.” He stood up and left his comrades before making his way over to where she was standing with Potter and Weaselbee.

“Potter.” Draco nodded politely, before he turned towards the lesser third of the Golden Trio. “Weasley.”

“Malfoy.” Ron sneered openly and Draco was a bit surprised when he heard Potter mumble lowly, “Let it go, Ron. This is Hermione’s day.”

Ron’s face turned red, but he wisely shut his mouth. Draco then turned his attention to the witch who was watching him warily. He pulled out a small box from his pocket and handed it to her. “Happy Birthday.”

Ron scoffed, but Draco had to inwardly smirk at the heated glare he’d received from the bushy haired witch. When her attention came back to him, she nodded politely. “Thank you Malfoy.”

Everyone decided that that was the open invitation for gift giving and soon Hermione was sitting in a chair near the center of the room as she opened presents from everyone.

Harry and Ron had bought her sugar quills and a journal, along with a book on Alchemy that she’d wanted. Nico, Annabeth and Percy had given her a beautiful pearl, and when she’d asked them about it they all just shrugged and said she’d figure it out eventually. Ginny gave her some hair potions while Seamus and Dean decided on a book on how to become an animagus.

When she got to the Slytherin’s, Daphne and Pansy gifted her a set of hair combs while Blaise, Theo and Greg gave her more candy from Honeydukes. When she opened Draco’s gift, she gasped slightly as she pulled out a small vial with a shimmering substance inside it.

“What is it?”

“You mean you don’t know?”

Hermione scoffed as she glared at Draco’s smug expression although a few other people in the room were chuckling too.

“No, I don’t know what it is.”

“Well, will wonders never cease, eh?”

“Stop being a prat Malfoy.” Harry admonished with a look at his former nemesis but Draco just smirked at the Boy Who was a Pain in his Ass for seven years.

“Fine. If you must know, they’re Phoenix tears.”

Everyone stared in surprise at the blonde, but he was more interested in the mystified look from the witch who was gaping at him in astonishment.

“How? Why?”

“The ‘how’ is fairly simple in that they belonged to my godfather, and he left everything to me including his potions research, journals and all his precious ingredients. The ‘why’ is because they have tremendous healing properties and I just thought with everything that’s been happening lately, it might be a good idea for you to have it handy. There’s a link for a chain that you can wear the vial around your neck. The glass is shatter-proof and is charmed to open only for you.”

Annabeth came over and gave her best friend a look before she took the vial for a closer inspection. She then nodded and smiled at the blond wizard. “That’s a pretty unique gift.”

Draco just shrugged, but he didn’t look away from Granger who was holding the vial tightly in her hand before she said emotively, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome Granger.” He then stood up and said, “Maybe we should cut the cake now?”

Hermione nodded in agreement. “That sounds like a good idea.”

When she made her way over to the table where the cake was set up, Hermione was followed by all her friend’s sans one. Harry stayed back and then cleared his throat softly to get Malfoy’s attention.

“That was thoughtful.”

“What can I say Potter, I’m a thoughtful wizard.”

Harry just scoffed quietly, but his eyes were contemplative as he stared down the blonde git.

“We both know that you don’t do anything without an ulterior motive, Malfoy.”

Draco just rolled his eyes. “Your vote of confidence in my lack of altruism is not wholly unexpected Potter. However, in this one instance you’d be incorrect.”

“And I’m supposed to take your word for it?”

Draco turned his body to give the shorter wizard his undivided attention. “Now why would I ever expect you to take my word for anything? You’re not going to believe anything I have to say and let’s be honest, it’s not like we are ever going to be friends. I don’t owe you an explanation, at least not to the extent you seem to think I do. If that changes, we can have that conversation then.”

“And how would that change Malfoy?”

“Only time will tell Potter.”

Harry’s look was scrutinizing as he tried to fathom what Malfoy wasn’t saying. After a minute he just said, “If this is what I think it is, and you somehow manage to convince my best friend to overlook your mutually contentious past and what an absolute git you were to her, you better know that I’ll be watching you Malfoy. I don’t like you and I don’t trust you and I don’t see that ever changing.”

“Ditto Potter. Just as long as we can agree on one thing, and one thing only.”

“And that is?”

“That this choice is up to Granger. Stay out of it. Both you and Weasley.”

“And if we don’t?”

“You know your best friend as well as I do. Do you honestly think once she makes her choice that she will allow anyone to sway her decision?”

Harry turned his head towards Hermione, who was watching them both from across the room. He smiled and nodded, watching her expression relax as she returned the gesture. It was at that moment Harry knew Malfoy was right. If Hermione decided to give the blonde a chance and he tried to interfere, she’d resent him for it. Harry loved Hermione like a sister and just wanted her to be happy. He wasn’t blind...he knew there was some measure of unresolved feelings where she was concerned in regards to Malfoy.

“No, Hermione’s stubborn like that.”

“She is.” Draco agreed.

“And how do I know this isn’t just some elaborate scheme to elevate your family name back into good standing?”

Draco’s expression was passive but his eyes were not as they blazed in irritation. “Because if that was my plan, and that stubborn, clever and diabolical little witch discovered my duplicity? What do you think she’d do to me?”

Harry chuckled at the thought, knowing that Malfoy actually made an excellent point. Hermione would destroy him if Malfoy’s intentions weren’t on the up and up.

“And if she decides against you?”

“Then I walk away and wish her the best.”

Harry just gave Malfoy a dubious look before he nodded once and left Draco standing there to head over to sing Happy Birthday to his best friend. He wasn’t sure what to think about any of this, but he trusted enough in his best friend to know that she would ultimately do what was right for her.

Chapter Text

After the party was over and most everyone had cleared out of the Room of Requirement, Hermione found herself sitting on a couch the room had conjured with Annabeth, Percy and Nico. She pulled the pearl out of her pocket and gave it a scrutinizing look.

“So I’ve been pondering this little gift.”

“We’d figured you might.” Annabeth smirked.

“Is this what I think it is?”

“Depends.” Nico shrugged nonchalantly while Percy just grinned.

“Don’t get cheeky with me cousin,” Hermione admonished, “I just want to know how you found one?”

“Now there’s a story!” Percy said in excitement as he relayed the quest he, Annabeth and Grover had gone on to find the lightening bolt and break into the Underworld to free his mom.

“So you had to find Persephone’s pearls and you killed Medusa?”

“Yep.” Percy said smugly. “We took her head with us though as it came in useful a time or two.”

Based on Percy’s expression, there was more to that loaded statement than she probably could ever guess at.

“So I don’t understand though, why give this to me?”

Nico sighed. “Do you remember the conversation we had not too long ago?”

Hermione nodded. “I do.”

“That is a gift from my Father. He said to let you know that when you make your choice, to use it and he will honor it.”

Percy and Annabeth both were quiet, as it seemed that Nico had shared the truth with them recently. She turned to her other cousin and asked, “And how do you feel about this?”

Percy just shrugged, but his eyes were filled with worry as he replied, “The decision is ultimately yours. But one thing I’ve come to understand is that gifts from the Gods are rarely straightforward.”

Annabeth nodded while Nico just stared off into space. “Percy is right Mi. I would sit on it for a while. Something tells me the choice will become obvious when the time presents itself.”

Hermione stared at the pearl with a tinge of fear and uncertainty. Perhaps Annabeth was right in what she was saying. The Gods were never known to keep their word, they also liked to manipulate and play with mortals and their emotions. And she was never one to do something without doing a bit of research first.

“Probably a wise idea.” Hermione nodded to her friend’s.

“It was nice of Draco to plan this party for you?” Annabeth said with a playful grin while Percy just groaned unhappily. Nico as always, just seemed bored.

“Let it go Annabeth.” Hermione said stoically, not wanting to delve too much into Malfoy’s motives right now, nor the generous gift he’d given her.

“Sorry, Mi...no can do. It’s clear to all of us that the boy is interested in you.”

Hermione just huffed but didn’t reply so Nico decided to speak up. “Wise Girl is right Mi. This arranged marriage nonsense with Astoria Greengrass was his dad’s idea. Draco has no desire to marry the witch but something tells me if you decide to not give the guy a chance his hand will be forced by his parents and he’ll end up marrying her anyway.”

Percy glared at Nico, who just stared back with that unaffected expression. Hermione’s however, paled at that thought as she wasn’t sure what to do. From Annabeth’s expression, she could tell that her friend felt sorry for Malfoy and was worried for her too. Why did everything have to be so complicated all the time?

“Look, I am just finally starting to feel comfortable around Malfoy. He’s definitely not acting like the same git he was from before, but I’m still unsure how I want to deal with this?”

“And Luke?” Percy asked roughly. “Nico told Annabeth and I what Luke said to him when he went to Elysium.”

Hermione nodded, suspecting as much. “And you don’t believe it?”

“I don’t know what to believe where Luke or Malfoy is concerned. I know I upset you with my comment from before about Malfoy being just like Luke. Now that I have a bit more information, I have to wonder if I can completely excuse Luke’s actions now that I know why he did what he did. I remember how devastated Luke was back at camp when you came back injured and how angry he was after.”

“Luke was always the first of us to get angry at the Gods for their lack of claiming their children. So I have to say, it makes sense.” Annabeth said softly.

“So you’re both saying I should give Luke another chance?”

Percy shook his head. “That’s not what we’re saying at all. I just think you need to decide what you want for you. Obviously your heart is conflicted. I think you need to ask yourself why that is? The Gods know I’m not a huge fan of Luke’s and I don’t actually care for Malfoy much, but he seems like he wants to help even if he goes about it wrong.”

“Malfoy’s not used to compromise.”

“He didn’t have to be.” Nico stated firmly. “And now he’s having to learn humility and I don’t know about you guys, but he seems genuine to me. But I’ve been wrong before.”

Percy glared at the Son of Hades who just stared back at him impassively.

“Are we really going to go there Nico?”

“Apparently not Percy. I’d rather not discuss Bianca if it’s alright with you. That wound is still a bit fresh.”

Percy nodded unhappily as he stood up and left the Room. Annabeth stared after her boyfriend before she sighed unhappily.

“Nico, you have to know that what happened wasn’t Percy’s fault.”

“Part of me knows it Annabeth, but he promised me to bring back my sister and she died. I know Percy’s guilt is far more damaging than any anger I might hold against him. But he needs to realize that sometimes people make a choice in the heat of the moment that they often come to regret later. We are all kids that had to fight wars that were foisted upon us due to our heritage, whether it was Godly or Magical. I just think that we need to give people the chance to prove they can change for the better or make the right choice in the end.”

Annabeth stared at the young demigod for a moment before she stood up. “You’re a pretty wise kid yourself, Nico.”

“I don’t know about that. I just know what it’s like to be judged by who my Father is.”

Annabeth just sighed and let herself out of the Room, leaving Hermione and Nico alone together. After a few moments Hermione turned to her cousin and asked softly, “Do you really think Malfoy is sincere?”

Nico turned his dark gaze to his cousin and nodded solemnly. “I do. I believe he truly has genuine feelings for you. Maybe he always did but because of circumstances being what they were, he couldn’t act on those feelings. Mi, I was so angry at Percy when I found out Bianca had died, but I was even more angry at her for abandoning me for the Hunters. I know what it’s like to live with regret, anger and that darkness inside myself. Something tells me Draco knows exactly what that’s like and if I had to make a guess I’d say that whatever feelings he has for you were probably the lifeline that kept him from succumbing to that darkness.” Nico paused for a moment before he added, “Did you know when Percy took a dip in the Styx, it was his love for Annabeth that helped him to survive? Something tells me that you were Luke’s anchor that allowed him to survive his trip into the Styx. I’m not telling you who to choose, I wouldn’t do that. But I’m just asking you to be honest with yourself and not hide your feelings anymore. You don’t have to.”

Hermione sat back and pondered Nico’s words heavily. If what he was saying was true, Luke loved her enough to survive the Styx which should’ve been impossible. She believed Nico’s words about how Luke felt, but could she trust in his summation of Draco’s affections? Did she want to?

As she stared at the pearl, Hermione realized that her heart was completely split down the middle. She didn’t know what she wanted for her future or even what that entailed. She just felt like her life was in this voided limbo and she was floundering, trying to decide what each day looked like.

The truth was she wanted to give Draco a chance. She wanted to see if he was different from the hateful boy she’d known for so many years. She wanted to see more of the intellect he hid behind that stoic Malfoy mask and she wanted to hear him laugh and see his genuine smile. Those things about Draco intrigued her, and picked at her naturally curious nature.

She pocketed the pearl and leant over, giving her cousin a grateful kiss on his cheek. She chuckled when Nico blushed uncomfortably at the show of emotion. When she stood up, she looked down at Nico and said unequivocally, “We may be cousins Nico, but I will always see you as a younger brother. You know you can rely on me for anything, right?”

Nico’s dark eyes lifted and Hermione could see the raw emotion in them before he masked it. He just nodded at her as words failed him momentarily, then watching as his cousin left the room, leaving him sitting there alone with his thoughts.

Hermione walked down the seventh floor corridor and sighed softly to herself and was so lost in her thoughts she didn’t notice someone fall into step with her for a few seconds until that person cleared their throat.

She gazed up into grey eyes that were considering her and his face had an enigmatic expression on it.

“Are you okay?”

Hermione nodded. “I am. Thank you again for the birthday party Malfoy. You really didn’t have to go to the trouble.”

Draco shrugged. “It seemed important to Nico actually.”

“Oh, so that was the reason?”

“If I told you it wasn’t the primary one, would you be disappointed or not?”

“Depends on what the real reason was?”

Draco sighed as he ran a hand through his hair before stopping by the entrance to the Gryffindor common room. “Would you be upset if I answered that question with another question?”

Hermione shook her head and smirked at how Slytherin Draco seemed to be, but she just said, “Why don’t you ask your question and find out.”

Draco’s grey eyes darkened as he considered her for a bit before he said huskily, “Would you go to Hogsmeade with me next weekend?”

Hermione’s face blanched in surprise as she stared at the blonde in shock. Did he just really ask her out on a date?

When she didn’t answer immediately, Draco just nodded and said, “It’s okay Granger, I understand.”

He made to move away but Hermione grabbed his arm quickly, lest he think that her shock was a refusal of his invitation.

“I’m sorry Malfoy, you just surprised me is all. But yes, I would like to go to Hogsmeade with you.”

Draco’s expression changed from stoic to smug as he smirked and said, “Okay. It’s a date?”

Hermione nodded in agreement as she said softly, “A date.”

Draco smiled and reached for her hand, placing a soft kiss on the back of her knuckles, all the while keeping his eyes fixated on hers before taking a step back. “See you at dinner.”

Standing there, Hermione watched Malfoy as he sauntered down the hallway and she lifted her hand and she could’ve sworn the imprint of his lips had burned her flesh where he’d kissed it. Her heart was still pounding heavily in her chest and she had to take a couple deep breaths to get herself back in control before she entered the Gryffindor Common Room. The Fat Lady was smiling at her knowingly as she said, “That wizard fancies you Miss Granger.”

Chapter Text

That Sunday was rather quiet as Hermione spent most of her day studying in the library with a Annabeth and Percy. Nico had left after a couple hours, stating he had something else planned for the afternoon. After a while, Annabeth and Percy had left to enjoy a bit of the last remnants of summer before the weather started to turn in earnest.

When Monday came along, Hermione found herself sitting next to Draco in Potions, and he seemed to be a bit distracted which she’d thought odd. When she asked him if he was alright, he’d just nodded and continued on brewing his potion as if he hadn’t asked her out on a date the Saturday prior. By Tuesday, Hermione was beginning to wonder if Malfoy had regretted his invitation, so she’d decided to give him an out as they walked to Care of Magical Creatures. She figured she’d say something after class, if he was still acting distant and strange.

When they got to Hagrid’s hut, he was waiting for them with a large smile upon his face. She had told him about the dragon’s in the Forbidden Forest Sunday evening and knowing how much it had hurt him to give up Norbert back during her first year, she’d taken Hagrid out to meet Zee. The Hungarian Horntail had admonished her for wandering outside the grounds, but Hermione didn’t want to live her life in constant fear that something was after her. She’d shared her thoughts with Zee and he’d just chuffed and snorted out smoke at how ridiculous humans were.

Hagrid had asked if Zee would be willing to take part in a class, and the Horntail at first had bristled at the idea, but Hermione had told him that it might be good for wizards to see Dragons in a different light as the intelligent and majestic creatures they were. Zee had pondered the request and then reluctantly agreed.

“Afternoon class! Today is goin’ to be a real treat. Mione could you come up please?”

Hermione walked towards Hagrid and set her book bag down in its usual spot. When she looked up, she could see Draco giving her a curious look which she ignored for the moment. She walked over to the underbrush by the edge of the forest and silently called out for Zee. After a few moments, there was movement and everyone in the class moved into a huddled group as the dragon appeared from the tree line, his horns glistening in the sunlight.

The gasps were to be expected, so Hermione turned and smiled reassuringly at her fellow classmates.

“Don’t be alarmed. This is Zee. As you can all see, he’s a Hungarian Horntail. He’s not quite fully grown yet.”

The dragon’s spiky tail swished in an arc as he lowered his snout to Hermione and she petted him affectionately, causing more startled gasps. Zee huffed out smoke as his eyes scanned the group of magical’s before they fixated on the pale blonde wizard he’d seen before.

“The pale wizard is here again.”

“Yes Zee.”

“The others reek of fear.”

“They probably do.”

Zee nodded and chuffed when a few more startled gasps were heard from the small group of witches and wizards.

“Uhm, Mione...” Dean said shakily, “Are you talking to the dragon?”

“Yes Dean. I can communicate telepathically with dragon’s.”

“Wicked!” Dean grinned while everyone else just nodded in amazement.

“As you can see, Horntails have a very distinctive appearance. Their black scales, yellow eyes and bronzed horns are indicative of this breed. Zee here is about forty feet and will grow another ten feet when he’s fully grown. Dragon’s are highly intelligent, and fierce in defending their young. Zee’s tail is spiked, another unique characteristic of his breed and his tail will be used in combat if he feels threatened in any way. Hungarian Horntails are known to produce some of the hottest fire and can deploy it in fifty feet bursts. They are the fiercest of all dragon’s and will eat just about anything. Including humans.”

The last was said with a small smirk, and Zee just chuffed as if he thought that addition was rather amusing. His tail swished through the air, but he kept his snout down towards the small witch as she gently petted him. Zee wasn’t fond of humans, but he’d developed a bond with this one and as such would protect her and come should she have need of him, regardless of the call from the God of Sky.

Hermione turned towards Zee and smiled before addressing the class once again. “Hungarian Horntails are also the fastest flying dragon’s and can reach flight speeds over 100 miles an hour. They are extremely agile in flight, even when flying at top speed.”

Zee chuffed again, almost as if he seemed proud of these facts being shared about him. He said as much to the little witch and she laughed gaily, while nodding in agreement.

“So, Zee has agreed to allow each of you to come over so he can be introduced to you. Do not touch him though, not unless he gives permission. Is that clear?”

Everyone nodded and formed a line as they came over one by one. Dean was first, then Seamus. When it got to the Slytherin’s, Blaise was the first one to introduce himself and then Theo. When Malfoy walked over, he nodded to the dragon and surprisingly, Zee moved his head over and sniffed at the wizard before lowering his snout. Hermione gasped slightly, her eyes wide as she said, “You can say a proper hello Malfoy.”

Draco’s eyes widened but he took a step forward and held his hand out like he’d seen Granger do, and then felt Zee push his snout into his hand for a split second before retreating. The dragon’s yellow eyes considered him before he moved back to Hermione who seemed as shocked as the rest of the class.

She cleared her throat awkwardly and said, “Thank you all for showing Zee that witches and wizards can treat dragon’s with respect. Dragon’s are by nature, solitary creatures and don’t seek out humans as a rule. They don’t attack without provocation unless they feel their young are being threatened. For the class assignment, Hagrid would like you to familiarize yourself with the different kinds of dragon eggs, their defining markings and where you might likely encounter one. It’s important that we respect habitats of all magical creatures nor put ourselves in harms way.”

Hermione nodded to Zee, who huffed again and then took flight back into the forest. She smiled widely and was so entranced in watching him leave, she didn’t hear Malfoy coming over to stand next to her.

“He’s remarkable.” Draco said softly and Hermione turned to face him, nodding in agreement before she remembered that he hadn’t spoken to her in two days. Her face dropped as she walked towards her book bag, surprised when Draco reached out and took it for her. She looked around and noticed everyone was heading back up towards the castle, so she began to walk and wasn’t surprised when Malfoy fell into step with her.

“You’re upset with me?” Draco asked quietly and Hermione just sighed.

“No, I was just wondering if you regretted asking me to go to Hogsmeade with you.”

Draco reached for her arm to stop her and he shook his head in exasperation.

“No, I don’t regret it. I suppose I’m just a bit unsure of how to act.”

“I don’t understand.”

Draco jerked his head over towards a small alcove near the castle where there was bench that was partially hidden by some trees. He waited until she sat down before setting their book bags on the ground and then taking the seat next to her. Hermione could see he was clearly uncertain, so she reached for his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze, a bit surprised when he immediately laced his fingers through hers.

“I probably should’ve said something the day I asked you to go to Hogsmeade with me, but honestly, I didn’t think about it until later that night.”

“About what?”

Draco reached over with his other hand and lifted the necklace from her chest and gave it a serious look.

“Granger, this necklace...I’m sure you know what it signifies?”

Hermione nodded hesitantly. “It’s the insignia of my House.”

Draco smiled softly. “Yes it is.” He then held his hand up and showed her his ring, the Malfoy crest prominently displayed, and Hermione’s eyes widened in sudden understanding of why Draco had been acting the way he had.

“This has something to do with Pureblood courting, doesn’t it?”

Draco nodded once. “It does. This is my fault, and I’m so sorry as I should’ve explained it to you before I asked you to Hogsmeade.”

“But you didn’t remember that I was a Pureblood?”

“Well, you’re not entirely. You’re a demigod, but you wear the insignia of your House so therefore...”

“I’m bound by the same Pureblood customs that you are.”

“Technically, yes. I won’t disrespect you by indicating otherwise.” Draco looked away for a moment and his jaw clenched before he spoke out and his voice faltered briefly, “I want to give you an out. If you would rather not wish to be associated with me then I won’t hold you to your acceptance of my invitation. Or, if you would rather wait and take the time to get to know each other better before accepting a courtship from me, I would understand.”

Hermione swallowed heavily as she stared over Draco’s shoulder. She had to give him credit, he could’ve trapped her into this and not spoken up. It would’ve been humiliating for both of them if it had ended badly. He was trying to be considerate of her feelings, and she respected him for it. When her eyes met his, she could see the hesitation and uncertainty behind his gaze...but there was also sorrow and fear too.

“I’m not ready to formally court anyone Malfoy.”

Draco nodded as he knew this was going to be the case and he couldn’t blame Hermione for it one bit.

“Okay. I understand.”

He went to pull his hand away, but she gripped it firmly and then cupped his cheek and waited until he lifted his eyes again to meet her gaze.

“But that doesn’t mean I want to stop getting to know you. The ‘real’ you, and not the hateful boy you were. If you can show me that Draco Malfoy, then I would be willing to keep an open mind about any possible future courting. Can you do that?”

Draco smiled in relief. “I can do that.”

“Good.” Hermione released his hand but kept his face in her other one as she said firmly, “and don’t shut me out again? There’s so much I don’t know about Pureblood customs, so I need you to help me with that. Will you help me?”

“Of course I will.” Draco was quick to reassure her. “Whatever you need.”

Hermione’s smile was bright as she said, “Thank you Draco. And thank you for being honest with me.”

“You’re welcome, Hermione. I know my past actions make it hard for you to trust me, but please know that you can.”

“I’m trying.”

“That’s all I can ask for.” Draco stood and helped Hermione to stand before grabbing both their book bags. “Maybe we could go to Hogsmeade this weekend as a group? I’m sure Nico would be interested in seeing everything as would Annabeth and Percy.”

“I think that sounds like an excellent idea.”

Chapter Text

The rest of the week had flown by. Draco and Hermione had shown their ideas to Professor Slughorn, who had congratulated them on their brilliant work and offered to contact Damocles Belby to see if he had looked into any other modifications of Wolfsbane during his research process. He did promise not to give away their suggestions to the inventor, at least until their research proved successful. Since Belby had the sole patent on Wolfsbane, he would need to approve any modifications to the existing patent and be willing to share future patenting with both students.

On Saturday morning after breakfast, Hermione waited for Nico, Annabeth and Percy to meet her in the courtyard so they could meet up with Draco and his friends down in Hogsmeade by Honeydukes.

Percy and Annabeth walked out of the castle looking excited about the prospect of seeing a Wizarding village while Nico just strolled after them looking completely bored. Hermione couldn’t help but grin at how utterly unaffected Nico appeared most of the time, as if he was too cool for any of the plebeians he was forced to deal with.

Hermione eagerly waved them over, and then they all made their way down to Honeydukes. Her cousins asked many questions about the village while Annabeth just took everything in, waving to a few people in her House and stopping to talk with Luna, who was with Ginny, Dean and Seamus as they all joined their group and walked into the village together.

When they got to Honeydukes, Hermione’s gaze widened at the vision standing there in front of the store. Draco was with Theo and Blaise and he was wearing a fitted pair of light wool trousers in a dark grey, a white button up dress shirt under an angora sweater that was a deep blue that brought out the color of his eyes. When his gaze caught hers, he smirked as if he’d known that she’d been gawking at how handsome he looked and even Annabeth had leant over and whispered mischievously, “That boy is fit!”

Hermione glared at her best friend, who just giggled knowingly as she pulled Percy’s hand before she nodded at the Slytherin’s and then made her way into the sweet shop. Nico just tilted his head in acknowledgment of his House mates before following along, eventually leaving Hermione and Draco alone.

“Hey,” He said huskily, “you look beautiful today.”

Hermione blushed as she stared down at her chosen ensemble for the day. Black fitted jeans, knee boots and a v-neck angora sweater in cream. Her hair was pulled back with the combs that Daphne and Pansy had given her for her birthday, while her jacket was a simple black lambskin leather bolero style that she’d picked up in London over the summer.

“Thank you,” Hermione smiled shyly, “You look very handsome too.”

Draco’s smirked deepened a bit as he offered her his arm, which she took after a split second and they followed their friend’s into Honeydukes.

When Hermione got inside, she noticed immediately that Percy had an armful of blue candy as he followed Annabeth throughout the store, while Nico was asking Theo about a box of Bertie Botts every flavored beans.

Draco lead Hermione over to the sugar quills, and gestured towards her favorite ones. “I noticed Potter and Weasley got you some of these for you birthday. Are they your favorite?”

Hermione nodded. “They are.”

Draco reached for a box and put it into his basket as they made their way around the store.

“What is your favorite?”

“I’m not sure I have one. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, but if I had to choose something it would probably be pepper imps.”

“Really? I wouldn’t have guessed that at all.”

Draco chuckled as he reached for the candy in question. “Why? What did you think I’d choose?”

“Honestly?”

“Of course.”

“Probably Fizzing Whizzbees.”

“Ah, those are good too.”

“What other things do you like?”

“Are we still talking candy?”

Hermione shrugged as she reached for a chocolate frog. “I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know much about you, not really. I know you play Quidditch and you’re a fairly good flyer. You’re obviously studious and do well in all your classes. But other than that I don’t know much about you. Do you even have a familiar?”

Draco shook his head. “No. I have my owl though, so I suppose she’s like a familiar.”

“Ah yes, your owl. How did you come up with her name?”

Draco grinned. “I don’t remember exactly. It does suit her though.”

“It does. I’d always been rather fond of Lady Hestia, and at Camp I would stop and talk with her from time to time. She was always very kind and seemed to be much different than the rest of the Gods.”

“Have you met other Gods?”

“Well Mr. D obviously and I did meet Lady Artemis once when Harry, Ron and I were out on the run.”

“Really?”

Hermione nodded. “Yes. She is my sister too.”

Draco’s eyes widened as he realized the truth of Hermione’s statement.

“She was the twin of Apollo, correct?”

“Yes, she was born a full nine days before Apollo was.”

“You know, I’ve read a bit about Greek Mythology, but it’s so surreal hearing you speak of it as if it’s commonplace. To walk and talk with the Gods, I just can’t fathom it all.”

Hermione shrugged. “I’m sure it must seem a bit improbable sometimes.”

“Yes and no. Was it difficult having your powers bound?”

“Yes and no. After a certain point I just accepted it as fact and didn’t dwell upon it. I’d figured I was going to die during the war so I resigned myself to the idea that I would never be able to access that part of myself again.”

Draco stopped in the middle of the aisle and just stared at Hermione completely horrified by her admission. He then shook his head and pulled her into his side, placing a chaste kiss on her temple. He was amazed that she didn’t pull away or give any outward sign that she was uncomfortable with the intimacy.

“I’m sorry.” He whispered into her ear. “I wish I could’ve done things differently.”

Hermione sighed into Draco’s embrace and allowed herself to take comfort from the wizard who’d tormented her for years. This all felt so surreal, but she be lying if she didn’t admit to herself how aware she was of Malfoy and how attracted she was to him.

“You couldn’t have Malfoy. Things needed to happen the way they did for Voldemort to be defeated. If that was the only way for it to have happened, I’d gladly suffer through it all over again to reach the same outcome.”

Draco shook his head and then whispered huskily, “You’re amazing, you do know that right?”

Amber eyes lifted and locked onto grey ones that were heated with emotion and she smiled sadly. “That’s very sweet of you to say.”

“It’s the truth. I’m still not sure why you’re here with me.”

Hermione grinned as she gently pushed her side into Malfoy’s playfully before she said, “Would you rather I’d come to Hogsmeade with some other wizard?”

Draco scowled for a second, but then immediately noticed the playful glint in Hermione’s eyes.

“You’re a minx, teasing me like that.”

“Who said I was teasing?”

“I do.” Draco bit back with a smirk.

“Oh, so you know me so well now?”

“Not yet, but give me time and I will.”

Hermione blushed at the sincerity of Draco’s words, which just caused him to look even more smug if possible.

“I’m not sure I should encourage you. I think you’re far too used to getting your own way.”

“Maybe when I was younger, that’s true...but this is the most normal I’ve felt in a very long time so thank you for that.”

“You’re welcome.” Hermione looked down into their basket which was full of sweets and grimaced. “Are we done here?”

Draco followed Hermione’s gaze and chuckled at how full their basket was. “Yeah, I think this should last until the next Hogsmeade weekend.”

“Well, I’d certainly hope so.”

“Don’t judge now,” Draco quipped, “we play poker in Slytherin and use candy as currency. We used to use galleons, but we got a bit carried away.”

“Oh?”

“Mmmhmm,” Draco admitted sheepishly, “I lost a months allowance during fifth year. My Father was furious.”

“How much are we talking?”

Draco blushed as he shook his head, clearly not wanting to answer but one look at Granger made him realize she wasn’t going to leave it alone.

“Fifty galleons.”

“What?!?” Hermione gasped. “Malfoy! That’s a lot of money!”

“Not really...” at her look of disbelief, he grimaced and said, “I mean it is...but it’s not.” When Hermione continued to stare at him in shock, he just pulled her along with him to the counter to pay for their bounty. “Don’t look at me like that witch. I was suitably chastised by both my parents and forbidden to play poker again. So now we use candy.”

“Good to know. You must lose quite often then.”

Draco just glared at her as she grinned back at him before placing their items on the counter to be purchased.

“Not funny Granger, and don’t even think about paying for any of this.”

“I don’t need you to buy my candy for me.”

“Too bad,” Draco groused out petulantly as he handed the cashier the requisites galleons, and ignored the witch staring at him like she wanted to hex him. “I may be a prat and a git, but I was raised to have better manners than to allow a lady to purchase her own candy.”

“Do books also qualify under the same antiquated rules?”

“Why? Planning on spending my galleons already?”

Hermione shrugged. “If your going to be a chivalrous prat, and ignore my independence in lieu of some antiquated Pureblood custom that I’ve never heard before, then I should at least get a book or two out of the deal.”

Draco couldn’t help the laugh that fell from his lips as he grinned widely at the witch next to him, who was smirking in a way that would make his mother proud.

“So I only have to ply you with books to remain in your good graces?”

“Good graces?” Hermione’s expression was downright sinful as she gazed up at Draco with a wicked glint in her eyes. “Don’t wizard’s usually have broader ulterior motives than that?”

Draco’s face registered shock at first before he grinned lecherously at the blatant innuendo. “Proper Pureblood girl’s would never even think of entertaining such fanciful notions.”

“Hmmm, well I suppose it’s a pity that I’m not all that proper then. You did mention that you’d educate me on the finer points of Pureblood etiquette, but now I’m beginning to wonder if you’ll just seek to lead me astray?”

“Are you corruptible Granger?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know Malfoy.”

“I do believe I would actually.”

“Patience is a virtue.”

“So is Diligence, Granger. I think you’ll find I can be very persistent when I want something.”

“Chastity is also a virtue, Malfoy.”

Draco chuckled as he led Hermione out of Honeydukes and held the door open for her. As she passed him to move outside, he whispered huskily into her ear, “I’ve always favored the corresponding sin to that virtue. Perhaps at some point you’ll allow me to indulge in that particular luxury with you.”

Hermione blushed deeply but her eyes were heated as she stared back at Draco’s identical expression before she said playfully, “Keep on dreaming, Malfoy.”

Chapter Text

The group of friends found themselves at the Three Broomsticks for lunch, and while Draco was a bit uncomfortable being there for obvious reasons, Madam Rosmerta had been stiffly polite to the young wizard, when she’d seen the group he’d come in with. What no one knew was that Hermione had owled Rosmerta a few days prior and inquired of it might be alright to bring Draco with her for lunch. The owl that she’d received back hadn’t been entirely unexpected, but thankfully Rosmerta seemed to be willing to, if not forgive, at least not hold Draco’s poor choices against him.

They had all enjoyed their lunchtime immensely, and everyone had laughed and had shared stories with Hermione’s cousins and Annabeth about their time at Hogwarts. The first Quidditch Match of the year was to be the following weekend, Ravenclaw versus Gryffindor. Percy was quite excited for the match, and had even gone to a few practices to watch Ginny and the rest of their house prepare for the upcoming game.

Draco and Blaise were allowed to play for Slytherin, McGonagall feeling that she’d hadn’t wanted to deny the returning eighth year’s the joys of supporting their houses. Susan Bones was playing for Hufflepuff and Michael Corner for Ravenclaw, so it was only fair that Draco and Blaise were able to play too.

As she sat next to Draco, and watched him animatedly discuss Quidditch with Percy, Nico, Blaise and Ginny (who had joined them after her Head Girl rounds were done for the morning), Hermione couldn’t help but smile at how everyone had come together this year and put aside some of the pervading House rivalries that been problematic during her earlier years.

Nico, noticing her intimate smile, nudged her from her other side as he leant over and said, “You okay?”

“Hmm? Oh, I’m fine. Just thinking about how before the war, this scenario would’ve been impossible.”

“How so?”

“It just would have.” Hermione’s voice was tinged with sadness and Nico nodded, instinctively understanding that there was a whole list of complicated reasons behind that statement.

“I guess I can understand that too.”

Hermione nudged her shoulder at Nico’s as she said softly, “I know you can.”

What didn’t need to be said was that both Nico and Hermione had felt like outcasts both at Hogwarts and at Camp Half Blood. Nico discreetly looked around the table and noticed that no one was paying them much attention except for Draco, who had looked over at him quickly with an expression of concern.

“Are you happy here?”

“You mean here, as in the magical world?”

Nico nodded and Hermione thought about it for a moment before she shrugged. “I don’t know if I’ve ever really been truly happy. I’ve had moment of happiness, sure. But I’m not sure I’ve ever really felt like I belonged.”

“Even with Harry and Ron?”

“Sometimes, but I think it was more due to our shared circumstances. They’re both like brother’s to me, Harry more so than Ron but I never really imagined what my life looked like after the war.”

“Because you didn’t think you were going to survive?” Nico said astutely and Hermione nodded.

“Yes.”

“Are you glad you survived?”

Hermione’s expression was shocked by the question, but it was probably a fair one.

“Yes, of course I am Nico. I’m happy to be here with you, Annabeth and Percy. I’m glad everyone decided to stay.”

“Me too.” Nico admitted easily. “I’ve actually felt more at home in Slytherin than I ever felt at Camp. Odd, isn’t it?”

“Not really. But for what it’s worth, I’m glad you’ve found acceptance here.”

“Well, I’ve been thinking that if you decide to stay in England after school is over, I might stay too.”

“Really?” Hermione’s expression was hopeful as she gazed at her cousin and Nico nodded.

“Yeah, I mean it would be nice to maybe finish some schooling? Learn a bit more about magic? Assuming the Headmistress allows me to stay.”

“Oh Nico, I think Professor McGonagall would definitely be alright allowing you to finish school here if you wanted to.”

Nico sat back and nodded thoughtfully. His gaze met Theodore Nott’s, who was watching him closely and Nico tilted his head in acknowledgment of the wizard. Theo grinned, winked and then went back to his conversation with his fellow classmates. Hermione didn’t miss the not so subtle byplay between the two and she grinned in sudden understanding. It would appear that her cousin had a crush on the older Slytherin and it seemed that Theo might actually return Nico’s interest.

“Are you sure?” She whispered lowly into Nico’s ear and felt him sigh a bit as he thought over her question.

“I don’t know yet.” Nico answered back calmly, clearly not uncomfortable discussing this with her. “I’m still trying to figure it all out myself.”

Hermione nodded. “Well, whatever you decide I’ll support you unconditionally Nico. You know that, right?”

Nico grinned and nudged her back with his shoulder. “Yeah, I do.”

“Good. But if you do decide to pursue something and he hurts you, I’ll fry his arse into crispy barbecue.”

Nico chuckled deeply as he gave his cousin a wide grin, and everyone turned towards them with looks that ranged from confusion to amusement.

“Do we want to know what you two are plotting?” Annabeth quipped out playfully, and Nico just rolled his eyes at her.

“No.” Hermione said firmly. “It was a private conversation.”

“That’s never a good thing.” Percy said before taking a sip of his butterbeer.

“In what way?” Theo asked with interest, as he eyed the demigod cousins with a speculative look.

“They both have a vindictive streak a mile long.” Percy groused out unhappily while Nico and Hermione smiled in commiseration.

“That was your own doing Percy,” Annabeth piped in, seeing her boyfriend pouting.

“No it wasn’t,” Percy groused, “They ganged up on me and you let them.”

“What did you do?” Draco turned towards Hermione with a raised eyebrow and a evil smirk.

“It was nothing, really.”

“Nothing?” Percy’s gaze narrowed. “It definitely wasn’t nothing Mi.”

“Well, maybe not but you kinda deserved it.”

“Okay, now I’m intrigued.” Blaise said, as he leant forward and eyed the demigods with a grin.

Hermione’s expression was neutral but Percy was pouting and Nico just looked way too smug for his own good, but none of them were speaking up, much to the irritation of the witches and wizards sitting at the table.

Annabeth just sighed and then said, “Nico used to play Mythomagic; have any of you heard of the game?”

Everyone just appeared confused, until Theo cleared his throat and nodded.

“It’s a mythical card and figurine game.”

Nico’s eyes widened as he stared at the wizard, who seemed to be a bit embarrassed as his friends were eyeing him with skepticism.

“It is.” Nico nodded. “I used to be obsessed with the game. Percy here, decided once at Camp to tease me about my love of the game and said something not so nice about the fact. Mi didn’t appreciate it, so she decided to take matters into her own hands.”

Percy just huffed and folded his arms unhappily as everyone stared at Hermione.

“I didn’t have my godly powers, but I still had my magic. Percy woke up one morning sleeping in the middle of the camp in nothing but his pajamas. He was permanently stuck there with a modified sticking charm until he apologized to Nico for making fun of him.”

Everyone started laughing and even Percy cracked a smile after a few moments, realizing it was rather funny now....it hadn’t been so funny back then.

“Luke found him, and decided to alert everyone in camp.” Nico grinned, and immediately felt Mi stiffen next to him. He gave her an apologetic look, but Draco had noticed the momentary discomfort and grimaced inwardly.

“Everyone got a good laugh, and it took Percy a while to realize just what he had to do to get himself out of the sticking charm.” Hermione offered with a small smile.

“It was rather inventive.” Annabeth nodded to her best friend. “But Mi has always been rather clever and inventive with her revenge and retribution.”

“That’s true.” Ginny said with a grin, causing Hermione to moan out in embarrassment.

“What other things has she done?” Percy asked with a wicked glint in his eye, so Ginny shared the story about Marietta Edgecombe and Delores Umbridge during fifth year. Everyone, including the Slytherins were looking at Hermione with appreciation tinged with awe and a bit of fear.

Annabeth grinned widely and said mischievously, “What about that bug, Mi?”

Hermione shot a dark look to her friend, who was just grinning at her knowingly.

“Bug?” Draco asked with a confused expression.

“Yes bug.” Annabeth replied for her friend. “Rita Skeeter, right?”

Draco’s face paled slightly as everyone else turned to Hermione, who was staring at her friend unhappily.

“I should’ve never told you Annabeth.”

“But you did.” Annabeth shot back with a smirk and Hermione knew if she didn’t put an immediate stop to it, her friend was going to out her blackmailing of Rita Skeeter.

“Yes, and that story was strictly confidential. Hence, never to be repeated to another living soul.”

Annabeth looked down in shame, although Percy was now staring at his cousin who was visibly upset.

“She didn’t mean anything by it Mi.” Percy’s voice held an edge of warning to it and Hermione’s breath caught, as she stood up from the table and walked out of the tavern, not caring at all about all the eyes that were following her.

Annabeth stared after her friend morosely. “I screwed up.”

“No, you didn’t.” Percy pulled his girlfriend into his side. “And Mi will see that when she calms down.”

Draco stood up and headed out of the Three Broomsticks and looked to the right and then to the left; but didn’t see where Granger had gone to. He started to walk down towards Honeydukes, when he heard an explosion coming from the opposite direction.

He ran towards the end of High Street and into a back alleyway, and there was Hermione dueling with someone in a black cloak and a Death Eater mask. Draco’s stomach plummeted as he recognized Dolohov’s mask and without hesitating, pulled out his wand and started casting spells towards the Russian wizard.

He hit Dolohov’s shield and the wizard turned his gaze towards him, before sending a curse his way. Draco dove out of the way and then there was another crash and when he looked up, Dolohov was gone and Hermione was kneeling down over him, her hair in complete disarray and her forearm bleeding.

“You’re hurt again.” He said angrily as he stood up and brought Granger with him, ignoring the shouts of others in the village as he heard someone shout his name and then Percy was standing there, grabbing Granger’s arm and shaking his head angrily.

“Can’t you stay out of trouble for a minute?”

Hermione’s glare was equally as heated, but she didn’t say anything before she pulled away from Percy’s grasp and headed back towards the castle.

She passed Annabeth and Nico, who were giving her a wide berth as she stormed passed them and disappeared around the corner. Draco ran after her, but Percy just stared after them both as he walked towards his girlfriend.

“What happened?” Annabeth asked lowly.

“I’m not sure. Mi was attacked, but I’m not sure who it was.”

“It had to be Dolohov.” Nico said angrily.

Percy turned towards his cousin and nodded slowly. “You’re probably right. Which meant he was here for a while and waited until he could get Mi alone.”

“Did he get away?”

Percy nodded and Nico sighed in resignation before he headed back towards the castle knowing that he needed to find his cousin and make sure she was alright. So much for hanging out with his new friends, thought Nico. And it had been such a good day too.

Chapter Text

Hermione was moving along the pathway towards the castle as she stared down murderously at her arm, which was covered in blood. As she was about to banish the blood away and heal herself, she heard an amused voice saying, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

Her head whipped up and she immediately noticed a man standing there off the path, his blonde hair glistening in the sunlight against his golden, very tanned skin. He was wearing sunglasses and his smile was blinding as he leant up against a tree, his focus clearly on her.

“Do I know you?” Hermione’s gaze narrowed as she held her wand to her side, ready to attack if needed.

“You won’t need that wand, little Sis. But you do look like you’re in need of some healing. Nasty cut there, by the way.”

Hermione groaned as she suddenly realized just who this was.

“Why are you here? Don’t you have elsewhere to be?”

“Now, now...don’t be unkind kiddo, I’m here to help you.”

“How? Why?”

Apollo’s grin widened as he sauntered over and grasped her arm in his hands, humming absently to himself.

“Nasty cut. Cursed too. Not your everyday magical curse though.”

“Of course not.” Hermione’s mumbled grumpily as her half-brother tilted his head at her for a second before he eyed the cut again. He then fumbled for a few moments inside his jacket pocket before he pulled out some ambrosia and without warning, pushed it into Hermione’s mouth.

“Hey!” She grumbled out in anger as she chewed mutinously. “That was completely unnecessary!”

“Really?” Apollo reached for something else as his gaze was fixated on the cut, which was now changing color from red to blue. “Nasty, icky curse. You definitely aren’t someone’s favorite, are you?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Would you like me to recite a haiku? I’m rather good at them.”

“No! I don’t want you to recite poetry, or sing for Merlin’s sake! If you’re going to heal me just get on with it!”

“Grumpy!” Apollo scoffed. “Is it that time of the month?”

“Oh my Gods! Annabeth told me what a pain in the arse you are, but I had no idea you were a teenager wrapped up in Gods clothing. Do you want me to die?”

“Nah, I mean where would the fun be in that? You’re clearly more fun alive than dead.”

“Hence why you’re here?”

Apollo shrugged. “I might’ve come at the request of our sister, who seems to think you’ve been treated rather unfairly and asked me to keep an eye on you. So here I am! Aren’t you a lucky girl!”

Hermione groaned as she lifted her arm with a raised eyebrow. “What kind of curse are we taking about here?”

“Ancient, Greek and rather nasty.”

“How would Dolohov have known about that?”

“How indeed?” Apollo sing-songed as he happily hummed to himself, as the cut now started to turn purple. “You know, once it turns black there’s no going back.”

“Ugh!”

“Granger!” Another voice yelled from down the lane and Hermione shook her head in disgust as she nodded towards the damage on her arm and waited as Apollo began to sing to himself as he healed the wound.

At that moment Draco came around the bend, and his wand was lifted as he took in the scene.

“Let her go!” He yelled.

“Oh, I can’t do that.” Apollo grinned at the other man. “Nice hair by the way! I think it’s even blonder than mine!”

“Apollo!” Hermione screeched and she watched Draco’s face pale in recognition of the name while her ADD half-sibling was happily humming some Gods awful tune as he went about healing her arm.

“There! All done! You’re welcome by the way!”

“Thanks.” Hermione pulled her arm away and then vanished the blood from her clothes. “And tell Artemis thank you when you see her.”

“Oh, she doesn’t talk to me much. She thinks I’m annoying, but I’ll mention it to her if I see her.” Apollo then pulled out a small bag from his leather jacket and handed it to her.

“Do I want to know what this is?”

“Don’t worry so much Sis, you’ll get wrinkles and that’s never a good thing. That little bag there is just some things you might be in need of in the near future, because I might not always be around to bail you out when you get cursed by icky, wicked, evil wizard’s.”

“Just my luck then, that you happened to be here today?”

“But of course! I’m a helpful dude.”

“Dude?” Draco’s face blanched as he shook his head in bemusement.

“Guy, man, God, dude...the immortal eighth wonder of the world!”

“Apollo, I think you need to go.” Hermione said seriously.

“Fine! Are you sure you don’t want me to sing a haiku for you?”

“Pretty sure.” Hermione nodded seriously. “But thank you.”

“Sure Sis.” Apollo grinned before he took off his sunglasses and stared down the wizard across from him. “I don’t like you.”

Draco’s mouth dropped open as Hermione grabbed his arm and pulled him back towards the castle. As they rounded the bend, they both heard Apollo laugh loudly before they felt the raw power of his Divine Form as he flashed away.

“That’s Apollo?”

“Apparently.”

“And he was here to heal you why?”

“Ancient Greek curse.”

“That makes no sense.”

“None of this does.”

“Granger, we should get you to the infirmary just in case.”

“I’m fine Malfoy.”

Draco sighed as he took her hand and together they headed back towards the castle. When they entered the main hallway, Draco led her up the staircase towards the Infirmary.

“Malfoy, I’m fine!”

“Maybe you are, but I would feel better if you let Madam Pomfrey check you out just in case. So humor me, because if you don’t I’m going to pick you up and carry you over my shoulder into the Hospital Wing!”

“You wouldn’t dare!”

Draco grinned evilly before he lifted her up and threw her over his shoulder, gripping the back of her legs as he made his way down the fourth floor corridor towards the hospital wing.

“Draco Malfoy! You put me down this instant!”

“Nope! If you electrocute me now you’ll just feel guilty later.”

“I’ll take my chances, ferret! Put me down!”

What’s all this noise about?” Madam Pomfrey said as she watched wide eyed as Draco Malfoy walked into the infirmary with Hermione Granger thrown over his shoulder.

“She was cursed in Hogsmeade. It’s healed but I would like you to check it if you wouldn’t mind, Madam Pomfrey.”

The medi-witch sighed and then gestured towards an exam bed across the room. Draco sauntered over and set Hermione down gently onto the bed, while she just glared at him. Her hair sparking in irritation and her face red from hanging upside down.

“Don’t glare at me Granger. You’ll get wrinkles.” Draco winked and Hermione screeched as her eyes lit up like lightening and ozone filled the room.

“Miss Granger! There will be no electrocution of other students in this hospital!”

Hermione’s eyes eventually returned to their normal hue as she glared angrily at the blonde wizard across from her, who looked way too smug for his own good.

Madam Pomfrey checked the arm and ran a few scans, before she shook her head. “Whomever healed this did an exemplary job. You’ll be fine, Miss Granger.”

“That’s what I said!” Hermione glared and Draco chuckled as he nodded his thanks to the medi-witch.

“It’s always good to get a second opinion Granger.” Draco grinned before his eyes took on a haunted quality. “I’m glad you’re alright.”

The harsh retort died on her lips as she sighed and nodded. “Thank you Malfoy.”

“Anytime Granger. Would you like me to walk you to Gryffindor tower?”

“What? You’re not going to carry me and go all caveman again?”

Draco chuckled as he took her hand and led her out of the hospital wing. “Don’t tempt me witch. You might actually enjoy it.”

“Doubtful Malfoy.”

Draco leant in closely and whispered huskily into her ear. “Don’t knock it until you try it Granger. And for the record, I would never be so plebeian as to serenade you with simple poetry.”

“You know poetry Malfoy?”

“I’m full of surprises witch.”

Hermione giggled as she allowed Draco to lead her back to her common room. Once they got there Draco leant down and kissed her on the cheek.

“Do you think you’ll be safe in your common room?”

Hermione blushed as she stared up into endless grey eyes that were filled with worried amusement. It was an interesting combination.

“I’ll survive Malfoy.”

Draco nodded and left her standing there watching him walk away before she let herself into the Gryffindor common room with a sigh. Who in the world would give Dolohov access to Ancient Greek Magical curses? And why did this person want her dead? None of this made any sense at all.

Chapter Text

As she stared out the window of her dorm room, Hermione fiddled with her beaded bag as she wondered if there was something she was missing. She didn’t know how long she’d been sitting there until there was a quiet knock upon the door. Waving her wand, the door opened and Annabeth’s face peered around the corner of the doorway, her expression cautious as she asked,

“Can I come in?”

Hermione nodded and gestured to the spot next to her on the bed, which Annabeth didn’t hesitate to take.

“I’m sorry.”

Hermione bumped her friend’s shoulder with hers playfully and responded, “It’s alright. I might’ve overreacted a bit.”

“No, you didn’t,” Annabeth admitted quietly, “I should’ve never assumed that it was okay to discuss it without talking to you first. I suppose I just got so swept up in the fun of the day that I didn’t even think about it.”

“Understandable.”

Annabeth leant her head down on her best friend’s shoulder and sighed. “Are you okay?”

Hermione nodded. “Apollo showed up and healed me. Apparently Dolohov cast some sort of Ancient Greek Magical Curse at me and regular healing magic wouldn’t have worked. I’d probably be dead now if not for him.”

“Apollo showed up here?”

“Yes. Artemis asked him to watch out for me. Apparently she felt that I was treated rather shabbily and wanted to make sure I was okay.”

“Wow!” Annabeth breathed out as she lifted her head to stare at her best friend, before the two girls situated themselves on Hermione’s bed sitting cross-legged across from each other. “She asked me to join the Hunters, you know. But I couldn’t leave Seaweed Brain. I love him too much to be without him.”

Hermione nodded in commiseration. “I know. She made the same offer to me whilst I was out on the run with Harry and Ronald.”

“She did?”

“Yes. I think she knew what was to come and wanted to give me an out. My Godly powers still would’ve been bound, but I’d be immortal.”

“Did you consider it?”

Hermione shook her head emphatically. “Not even for a second. I couldn’t leave Harry. Too much was dependent upon him defeating Voldemort and I knew he would need me to do it. But I’d be lying if I said that was the only reason, just the most pressing one.”

“And the other?”

“There were three other reasons actually. The first was I wanted to see my vow through and finish my quest. I had hoped that perhaps I’d survive and would have the opportunity to finally be allowed to be me again.”

“And the second?”

“That one is a bit more muddled.” Hermione admitted with a shrug. “There was the hope of Luke and perhaps that we might figure out where we stood with each other. The other side of that was entirely selfish and less straightforward.”

“Because of Draco?”

Hermione nodded. “I know it sounds so petty and selfish, but just once I wanted him to look at me as I am now and not the mudblood he saw me as. I know it makes no sense and it’s really very silly and makes me sound so superficial; but I can’t lie to myself about it anymore either.”

“He seems to genuinely care for you.” Annabeth admitted with a small smile.

“Yes, now that I’m not a mudblood anymore.” She responded bitterly and felt Annabeth staring at her. When Hermione’s gaze met the grey of her friend, she could see the silent admonishment radiating from them.

“Mi, we both know how difficult it is to have parents who we desperately want to please and make proud of us. It’s not easy to discount that kind of innate character flaw because we all are prone to making questionable choices based on desperately needing parental approval. Some parents are good and raise their children to be good citizens, but some aren’t. Our Godly parent’s probably fall closer in the latter category, just like Draco’s parents. Everyone one at Camp has felt that sense of abandonment and disconnect from their Godly parent. I don’t know what’s easier? Having an absentee parent or having both parents who are not necessarily good people. It’s clear that Draco’s mother at least loves him and wants what’s best for him, right?”

Hermione nodded after a moment. “I think Narcissa Malfoy loves her son very much.”

“Then that’s something. I think that means that Draco Malfoy is probably capable of love and how to show it. I know you’re not of fan of Divination, Fate and Prophecy but sometimes fate has a way of helping us find the choice that is best suited for us. I know you cared for Luke and he loved you. Do you think you could come to love Draco, given time?”

The room was quiet for a few moments as Hermione pondered all that Annabeth had shared. After a while she responded emotively, “I am very attracted to Draco. Immensely. He’s so complicated and drives me spare. Part of me wants to punch him and the other part wants to snog him silly. I’m just having a hard time deciding which part holds more sway.”

Annabeth giggled before she said, “Snog the boy. Something tells me you’ll figure it out rather quickly once you just take what you want.”

Hermione shook her head playfully at her friend’s expression. “Apollo told Malfoy that he didn’t like him.”

“Really?” Annabeth’s eyes widened at the confession. “Why?”

“I don’t know.” Hermione admitted honestly. “But I’m more concerned with Dolohov and what that’s all about.”

“What was the final reason?” Annabeth asked gently.

“Nico.” Hermione replied seriously. “I couldn’t leave Nico. Something told me he would need me and I didn’t know why that was. Now I do, but then...I wasn’t sure.”

Annabeth nodded and then gripped her friend’s hands and gave them a squeeze. “Have you read your mother’s letters yet? Maybe there’s something in those letters that can help you?”

Hermione sighed and then grabbed her beaded bag, reaching her arm inside and pulling out a medium sized box. The Dagworth-Granger crest was on it and she set it down on the bed in front of them both.

“That’s a pretty box.”

“It’s a family heritage box. Every Pureblood family has one and my mother sent this to my cousin Hector before she died.”

“How does it open?”

Hermione cast a diffindo and cut her finger slightly, placing a small drop of blood on the crest. The box flashed and then opened. Healing the cut, Hermione lifted the lid and gasped out in shock at what was inside.

Sitting on top of the letters were a set of vials that clearly contained memories. Hermione lifted them and each one was labeled with a corresponding number. There were five vials in all.

“Memories.” She breathed out in wonder while Annabeth gave her a questioning look.

“I don’t understand.”

“Witches and Wizards have the ability to pull memories and store them for future viewing. We can watch them in something called a pensieve.”

“That’s handy. Do you have a pensieve?”

“No, but the Headmistress has one that belonged to Dumbledore. It’s in her office.”

“Do you think she’ll allow you to use it?”

“Probably.” Hermione waved her wand to check the time. It was close to dinner. “Let’s head to the Great Hall and I can ask her after dinner.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Hermione closed the heritage box and sealed it before placing it back inside her beaded bag. She then told Annabeth she wanted to change into some fresh clothes before heading down, so Annabeth said she’d wait for her with Percy down in the Gryffindor common room, where he was waiting for them both.

“I’ll see you in a few.” Hermione gave her friend a warm hug. “Love you.”

“I love you too, Mi.”

As Hermione went into her ensuite, elsewhere in the castle Nico found himself inside the Slytherin Common room, where Theo and Blaise were sitting by the fireplace playing a game of wizards chess.

“Hey.” He said as he sat down to watch the spectacle. “Have you guys seen Draco?”

“Nope.” Blaise said as he took Theo’s knight.

Nico nodded and watched the game for a while until their common room door opened and in walked the wizard in question.

Draco nodded as he sauntered over and sat down next to Nico, running his hands through his hair in frustration.

“You okay?” Nico asked calmly.

“Yeah. I just dropped off Granger at her common room after taking her to the Infirmary so Madam Pomfrey could check her over.”

“Did everything check out?” Theo inquired as he and Blaise halted their game of chess momentarily to take part in the discussion.

“Yes, but she was healed by the time she got there.”

“It’s good that she can heal herself.” Blaise offered but when Draco shook his head, everyone was clearly confused.

“She didn’t heal herself?” Nico asked.

“No, apparently she was hit with some kind of Ancient Greek spell and if her brother hadn’t shown up, who knows what would’ve happened.”

Blaise and Theo seemed even more perplexed while Nico just chuckled and shook his head in amusement.

“Apollo was here?”

“What?!?” Theo sputtered out while Blaise just looked at Draco for confirmation.

“Yes, Apollo showed up. He’s not exactly what I was expecting, I have to tell you.”

“In what way?” Asked Blaise, clearly intrigued.

“It’s hard to explain.” Draco offered, seeing Nico’s more than amused expression. When everyone turned to Nico, he just grinned.

“Apollo has a very weird sense of humor. He will spout poetry and sing songs at the drop of a hat, but he does have a dark edge to him if properly motivated. He’s the God of the Sun, Healing, Poetry, Prophecy...so he has a few titles. His charge is the Oracle of Delphi, who was a shriveled up crone before being replaced not too long ago by a mortal girl. Her name is Rachel Elizabeth Dare, and she was at Camp Half Blood before I left to come here.”

“Merlin! This just keeps getting better and better.” Theo chuckled. “You got to meet him Drake?”

Draco grimaced, remembering what Apollo said to him. “Yes. Apparently he doesn’t like me.”

Everyone’s eyes got big at that admission but Nico just patted Draco on the arm. “Apollo doesn’t like too many people. Artemis is worse. She hates everyone.”

“Really? Because Apollo inferred that Artemis sent him here to keep an eye out on Granger.”

Nico sat back shocked. That was unprecedented.

“That’s surprising. Artemis only favors her Hunters.” Nico got quiet as he considered something, and Draco seeing his expression, decided to speak up.

“You know something?”

Nico nodded. “My sister Bianca joined the Hunters. Mi’s younger sister Thalia is a Hunter. If I had to guess, and I’m probably right since Mi has met Artemis before...then I’d guess that Artemis made Mi the same offer as Bianca and Thalia.”

“To become an immortal Hunter?” Theo inquired with awe and Nico nodded.

“Yes.”

“If that’s true, then she must’ve turned down the Goddess as she’s still here.” Blaise spoke up and Nico was once again, impressed with Blaise’s knowledge of mythology.

“That would be my guess too.” Nico replied quietly, thinking there was probably other reasons that Mi decided against joining the Hunters. Selfishly, he was glad of it as he didn’t want to lose Mi the way he’d lost Bianca.

Draco just sat back and pondered everything for a few minutes before he spoke. “Nico, do you have any idea who might be after Granger?”

“Not really. I mean the obvious answer would be Hera, as I’m sure she’s not happy about the fact that Zeus chose to claim Mi.”

“I don’t understand.” Draco said as he sat forward with his arms resting on his thighs, his expression pensive.

“Luke extracted a promise from Percy to make sure that all the children of the Gods would be claimed. So, when the Battle of Manhattan was won and Olympus saved...Percy was given the option of immortality. He refused, but extracted a promise of Zeus to make sure all godly children were rightfully claimed. Zeus agreed. Mi’s vow was still active and her powers were bound at that time. If I had to guess, that promise didn’t include Mi yet Zeus claimed her anyway. I’m sure Hera wasn’t happy about that.”

“So you think Hera is behind this?”

“I think it’s the obvious answer.”

“But not necessarily the right one?” Draco concluded with a sigh.

“Don’t know.” Nico stated in defeat. “Hera isn’t exactly known for being forgiving.”

“That’s an understatement.” Blaise quipped sarcastically, while Nico chuckled.

“I think we can all agree that whoever is after Mi is probably the one who freed Dolohov from prison and gave him access to whatever curse he used today.” Nico said firmly.

Everyone nodded as they looked at each other. “So what do we do?” Theo asked and Nico shrugged.

“Not sure there’s anything we can do right now. I guess we just keep an eye out on Mi and make sure she’s never left alone when she leaves the castle.”

“She’s going to love that.” Draco piped up with a sarcastic smirk and Nico just nodded in agreement.

“Nah, she really isn’t.”

Chapter Text

Nico was right. For the next several weeks, Hermione had an escort anytime she left the castle. When she’d refused to attend the Quidditch match, Percy had pleaded until she’d given up with a humph and an evil glare. The only saving grace had been that Ginny had caught the snitch less than an hour into the match.

If Percy had been a pain, Draco had been even worse. He’d escorted her to and from every class they had together and had even taken to spending extra study time in the library with her. It didn’t matter they had many of the same classes together and were actually partnered up on a few assignments, Hermione’s temper was reaching critical mass.

She had thought more often than she wanted to admit about what Annabeth had said to her in regards to snogging Malfoy and just getting it over with. But, was it wrong of her to want to be properly romanced? To be seen as a woman first and a demigod/witch second? Draco for his part, had been nothing but a gentleman over the past few weeks; opening doors and taking her book bag between classes. They’d talked about school, commonalities such as love of alchemy and potions but even so, Hermione had been left wondering if maybe Draco’s actions were more along the lines of someone trying to atone for their past mistakes, than a man who fancied a woman.

Hence the mounting frustration that seemed to cascade along Hermione’s skin like a raw electrical current. It would seem her prodigious mind had taken a holiday from rational thought as she couldn’t stop second guessing everything so by the time the next Hogsmeade weekend had arrived, Hermione was ready to crawl out of her skin and escape. Then her face broke out into a wide grin. She’d forgotten that Harry had given her his invisibility cloak and marauders map to use. So with a tentative plan in mind, Hermione’s was determined to find a way to escape her jailers. Maybe she would go visit Zee...yes, that sounded like a good idea.

Luckily she had her beaded bag on her at all times, a left over habit from the war that she wondered would ever go away. Breakfast in the Great Hall had barely started, so she figured there was maybe an hour window to sneak out of the castle before anyone would come looking for her.

Covering herself with the Invisibility cloak, Hermione cautiously moved down towards the back of the castle where Hagrid’s hut was located, making sure to avoid any obvious corridors where the majority of the students were prone to congregate. She had almost made it out of the castle when she’d noticed Draco walking up from the dungeon corridor with Blaise, Nico and Theo. Hermione stopped and watched as Nico chatted amiably with his housemates. At one point Theo said something and Nico laughed. A genuine laugh that lit up his eyes and Hermione couldn’t help but sigh happily at how at ease Nico appeared.

She waited until they passed out of sight before she headed for Hagrid’s. As she stepped foot onto the pathway and headed down the hill, she heard hurried footsteps behind her.

Slowing down and hiding behind the tall stones that encompassed the upper pathway, (and the same place she’d punched Malfoy third year) she looked up towards the castle and saw Draco standing there, his gaze narrowed as he surveyed the hillside like he was looking for something or someone.

After a few moments, he sighed and went to turn away but something caused him to stop and then he started to move towards her direction.

As he got nearer to the stones, Hermione noticed his wand was in his hand so she held still and waited to see what he would do.

He then sent out a silent spell and if Hermione had to guess, it was probably a ‘hominem revelio’ which thankfully, wouldn’t give her away since she was under Harry’s cloak. Did he know she was out here and if so, how?

After a few more moments he gave up and moved back into the castle, and Hermione dashed down towards Hagrid’s and into the forest, calling out for Zee.

It wasn’t even a few moments later she heard the crunching of underbrush as Zee moved into the clearing.

“Daughter of Sky, why are you out here alone?”

“I came to visit you Zee. I just wanted to make sure that you’re alright and the other dragons are faring well?”

Zee lowered his snout and huffed. “All is well. The borders of the forest are secure.”

“That is good.”

Zee just chuffed as he swished his tail in a wide sweeping arch. “Something bothers you.”

It wasn’t a question, and Hermione smiled at the dragon as she lifted her hand and Zee lowered his snout so she could pet him.

“Is it that obvious?”

“Yes.”

“Brilliant.” She said sarcastically.

“You were attacked again, word came to us to keep vigilant.”

“Oh, well that’s good I suppose. Who told you?”

“The Goddess of the Hunt.”

“Oh!” Hermione’s voice wavered at the news, not expecting such consideration from Artemis. But after Apollo’s visit, she probably shouldn’t be surprised. “She was here?”

“The Goddess hunts in the forest often. Usually when the moon is at its brightest.”

Hermione thought about that for a moment before she sighed in understanding. “She hunts werewolves?”

Zee swished his tail again, but he nodded. “The most feral ones, yes. But there are other creatures of the deep forest that fall to the Hunt.”

Hermione suddenly realized that she had missed Artemis as the full moon for October had passed nearly two weeks ago. Halloween was coming next Saturday and Ginny had mentioned that they were going to have a party in Gryffindor to mark the occasion.

“Did you see my sister with the Goddess?”

Zee chuffed, but he nodded again. “Another Daughter of Sky attends to the Goddess. She is very unlike you. Brash, impatient and coarse.”

Hermione just sighed heavily, saddened by the thought that perhaps Thalia wasn’t what she’d hoped to find in a sister. Percy had mentioned that they hadn’t gotten along, and that had worried her initially, but now Hermione felt she had good reason to be concerned.

“I am sorry if she wasn’t as respectful as she could’ve been.”

“It is not for you to own. Now, perhaps you might return to your castle and safety.”

Hermione grinned. “Are you saying I’m safer in a castle than with you, Zee?”

Zee chuffed again, clearly amused by her. His tail swished and then his snout puffed out smoke as he lowered himself down to her level.

“You are teasing me.”

“Yes.”

“I am not sure I approve.”

“Teasing in good nature shows care and affection.”

Zee seemed to be contemplating this before he spoke into her mind. “Affection? Is that something like a bond?”

“There are many kinds of bonds I suppose. So it could be.”

Zee chuffed again as he elevated his snout and turned his body behind him. Soon there was sounds of underbrush being crushed and then another dragon appeared in the clearing. Hermione’s eyes widened as this was the Romanian Longhorn that she’d seen at the Dragon Preserve.

“Hello.”

The dragon snorted as his horns glistened in the sunlight. His yellow eyes were fixated on her.

“Why is she here.”

Zee snarled at the other dragon as his tail swished in agitation.

“She is here to check on us to make sure all is well.”

The Longhorn huffed, but didn’t respond as his broad head moved down into a crouched position. Zee then placed himself between the two and nudged the other dragon back.

“Your hatred is unfounded with this one.”

“You protect her?”

“Yes, she is bonded to me.”

The Longhorn moved back and Hermione gasped as she stared wide-eyed at Zee. Unsure if she’d heard him correctly.

“Bonded?”

Zee made to nod and lowered his snout to her. “I believe so. Do you doubt it?”

Hermione shook her head. She definitely felt a kinship with Zee that she didn’t necessarily feel with the other dragons. “No, I believe you.”

The Longhorn just stared at her before he snorted unhappily. “That is not possible.”

“And yet it is.” Zee chuffed back. Hermione was amazed at how dragons communicated with each other. A series of sounds, trills, chuffs and snorts all seemed to convey what she could understand telepathically.

“It is good to see you again. Thank you for coming and watching the forest.”

The Longhorn snorted out smoke as his tail swished in agitation. “I was commanded, so I came.”

“Well, I appreciate it very much. I just wanted you to know that.”

Yellow eyes seemed to bore into hers endlessly before he spoke into her mind. “I sense no deception from you. That is unusual.”

“Well, I’m a Gryffindor.”

“I don’t know that meaning.”

Hermione giggled. “Sorry, it’s just the House I was sorted into here at school.”

“Ah.”

“Would it be alright if I asked for your name?”

The Longhorn’s eyes glistened momentarily before he chuffed and trilled but he did eventually tell her.

“I am Veogar.”

Hermione’s face broke out into a happy smile as she bowed to the dragon. “I am very pleased to know you Veogar. I am Hermione.”

“Yes, I know this. You should return to your castle, Zee is correct.”

“Fine.” Hermione scuffed her feet along some pebbles as she pouted. “I just wanted to have a day where I could just feel a bit normal is all. Everyone keeps following me and making sure I’m okay. It’s all a bit mad and I feel like I’m crawling out of my skin.”

Zee chuffed like he was laughing. “When was the last time you took to the skies? Perhaps your agitation is because you’ve forgotten what it’s like to fly.”

Hermione stared at Zee and realized he made an excellent point. Since her powers had been unbound, she hadn’t taken the opportunity to soar in the clouds. She had felt trapped and caged but perhaps it wasn’t her friends making her feel that way.

“I am not quite able to control all my powers yet, and I’m not a fan of brooms.”

Zee chuckled, and even Veogar looked amused, if a dragon could look as such.

“You mentioned you rode a dragon, yes?”

“I did. Although I was terrified at the time.”

Zee moved his large body down to her level. “Get on Daughter of Sky and let us ride the heavens together.”

Hermione’s face broke out into the widest grin imaginable. “Are you sure Zee?”

Zee chuffed in irritation as he replied, “I am not getting any younger.”

Laughter filled the clearing as Hermione moved carefully onto Zee’s back and found a comfortable spot. “Is this okay?”

“It’s acceptable.”

And with that, Zee pulled back on his haunches and lifted them both into the sky.

Chapter Text

Draco made his way back towards the Great Hall with a uneasy feeling in his gut. He didn’t know why he’d decided to leave his friends and head towards the back of the castle where Hagrid’s hut was located, but when he’d walked up from the dungeons, something had pricked at the back of his mind. It was almost like that first day on the Hogwarts Express sixth year, when he’d been talking with his friends and had sensed that something wasn’t right just before he realized they were being watched. It was that feeling of being watched that had made the hairs on the back of his neck stand to attention as he’d walked down the corridor...something just didn’t feel right.

That feeling was still there. It was like a tingling on the back of his neck that was gently prodding him to turn around but there hadn’t been anything outside, at least nothing he’d seen.

So he made his way back into the Great Hall, which was fairly filled with students from all the houses and his gaze automatically drifted towards the Gryffindor table. He didn’t immediately notice anything off until he saw Jackson sitting next to Ginny, Dean and Seamus. His blue eyes were scanning the entryway and he nodded at Draco for a split second.

Draco frowned as he made his way to the Slytherin table. Nico was talking quietly with Theo while Blaise was busy making himself a cuppa. When Draco sat down, he got the attention of his friends.

“Everything alright mate? Where’d you go?”

Draco turned to Theo and said, “I went to check the back of the castle. Something just felt off.” His gaze settled back on the Gryffindor table and it was clear to see that Jackson was worried.

“Have any of you seen Granger this morning?”

Everyone shook their heads and that warning feeling came back. It was clear by looking at her housemates they didn’t know where she was either. Draco then turned his attention to the Ravenclaw table and noticed Annabeth staring at the entryway too every few seconds. Something was definitely up.

“Something’s not right.” Draco growled lowly causing Nico to sigh.

“Mi’s not here.”

“No, and it doesn’t appear that anyone has seen her based on all their worried faces.” Draco replied as he poured himself some tea and plated his breakfast.

“Maybe she’s just late coming down?” Blaise offered helpfully. “It is a Saturday. Maybe she just slept in?”

Draco turned an incredulous stare at his best mate. “Seriously? This is Granger we’re talking about. She doesn’t sleep in, does she?”

Everyone chuckled for a moment before Draco felt the air around them getting a bit colder. He looked at Nico, who’s eyes were closed and then several of the ghosts whooshed into the Great Hall and straight for their table.

Peeves got there first and bowed. “My Lord, you require assistance?”

“Yes Peeves and thank you for coming. Have any of you seen Hermione this morning?”

The ghosts turned towards each other and then each slowly shook their head in the negative.

“No my Lord, we haven’t seen Miss Granger anywhere in the castle this morning.”

Nico nodded and thanked them for coming, before he spoke again.

“So she’s probably still in Gryffindor Tower.” Nico stated with a tinge of uncertainty in his voice.

“She’d have to be,” Theo piped in, “the ghosts would’ve seen her. It’s not like she’s invisible?”

Draco’s face paled as his head whipped towards his friend. “What did you just say?”

“It’s not like Hermione could’ve turned invisible.”

“Shite!” Draco went to stand up immediately, but Nico stopped him.

“What is it?”

“Potter had an Invisibility Cloak that he used during his time here at school. Do you know if he gave it to Granger before she came back?”

Nico thought about it for a second before he nodded. “Harry did give her a couple things before we got on the train at the beginning of the year. One was a cloth bundle and the other looked like a blank sheet of the parchment we use in class.”

Draco noticed Percy standing and walking towards him, but he looked down at Nico and said, “Potter gave Granger his Invisibility Cloak which means she can sneak throughout the castle and out onto the grounds and no one would know where she is.”

Nico’s eyes widened just as Percy came over. “What’s going on? Have you guys seen Mi?”

“No, we were just discussing her.” Nico said flatly. “Draco thinks she may have snuck outside the castle using a Invisibility Cloak that Harry gave her.”

Percy groaned. “That’s no good. Where would she have gone?”

No one had a clue. If she wasn’t in the library, it seemed that no one had an idea where Hermione’s might’ve ventured off to.

“Let’s spilt up.” Draco offered. “I’m going to head towards the Black Lake. Jackson, maybe you and Annabeth should check out down by Hagrid’s hut. I was there earlier and thought I felt something. Nico, maybe you and Theo can check the owlry and Blaise check the greenhouses?”

Everyone nodded and Percy went over to Annabeth, whispering into her ear before she nodded and followed him out of the Great Hall. Draco made his way out the front entrance and through the rebuilt courtyard before heading down towards the Black Lake. He was almost there when he noticed there were a few students congregated down near the waters edge. Making his way there, he stopped cold when he noticed what they were all looking at.

In the distance out over the water was a dragon flying high up in the sky. Draco squinted in the morning light, desperately trying to get a better look. Why would one of the dragons be flying out in the open during the day? He hadn’t seen any of them do so, but perhaps it was due to the fact that they needed to expend a bit of restless energy too. As the dragon turned in the sky, Draco gasped slightly as he recognized just what dragon it was. It was Hermione’s dragon, Zee.

He waved his wand and accio’d his broom and after a few moments it flew into his hand. He mounted the broom and lifted off into the sky, heading towards the dragon. Sure enough, when he got closer he could see Granger sitting on the back of the dragon, her head thrown back as she was laughing...clearly enjoying herself. That was strange, he thought as he got a bit closer. He was positive that Granger was terrified of heights yet that obviously wasn’t the case anymore.

When he leveled out about hundred feet from the ground, he noticed Zee turning towards his direction. He didn’t make any sudden aggressive movements, just waited to see if Granger would notice him and head his way, which she did.

When the dragon got closer, Draco had to hold his breath and the grip of panic that seemed to clutch inside his chest as he wondered what he was thinking flying up here like this. Granger seemed to think so too, as she moved into his eyesight, he saw the look of astonishment of her face.

“Malfoy!” She yelled across the space. “What are you doing?”

“I could ask you the same thing. You disappeared and no one knew where you were!”

Her scowl was cute, the dragons snort of smoke was not.

“I needed to get outside. I felt like I was going stir crazy!”

“So you came outside to ride a dragon? Couldn’t you have chosen something more normal, like a broom?”

“I hate brooms! They’re twigs that fly!”

Draco threw back his head and laughed, and even Zee seemed amused as he snorted and trilled out a few sounds causing Granger to giggle too.

“How much longer do you plan on riding the dragon?”

Hermione’s face broke out into a wicked grin as she bellowed out, “What’s the matter Malfoy, jealous?”

Draco’s face froze in shock, and he heard Hermione’s laughter as she took off back over the Hogwarts grounds, her curly hair flowing in the wind behind her.

He hovered there for a moment staring after her before he grinned and took off, following her. He gave chase, which Zee must’ve thought amusing as the dragon sped up and maneuvered over the tree line and into the forest.

Draco followed, and for several minutes he followed closely as they swerved through the skyline and down into a gorge before moving back towards the lake. Both Draco and Hermione were openly laughing at this point and it wasn’t too long before Draco noticed many of his classmates standing outside the castle staring up into the sky and pointing at himself and Granger.

He tried to move alongside Zee, but the dragon wasn’t having any of it as it continued to move effortlessly through the sky and before too long, Draco found himself over a clearing inside the Forbidden Forest as the dragon descended to the ground. He landed just a few seconds after Zee and Granger, noticing her wide smile as she moved towards him.

“Nice flying Malfoy.”

“Thanks.” Draco grinned in return before he nodded at Zee. “I’ve always read that Hungarian horntails are really fast flyers and very agile, but it was amazing to see up close.”

Zee lowered his snout and chuffed out a plume of smoke.

“I think Zee enjoyed himself too.” Hermione said, as she went back over and gave Zee a pat on his snout. “Thank you Zee, that was just what I needed.”

“I am glad Daughter of Sky. You may come back again if you wish to fly into the heavens.”

“I will remember that. Be careful and stay safe.”

“I will.” Zee said before he moved back towards the underbrush.

“He’s bonded with you.” Draco said matter-of-factly.

“He has.” Hermione admitted, giving Draco a sidelong glance.

“Dragons are highly intelligent as I’m sure you know.”

“Yes, they are. I’m not surprised that you know about them.”

“Well, I was named for them after all.” Draco’s smirk was wicked as he walked over into her personal space. “But you already know that, Minx.”

Hermione blushed at the look Draco was giving her. “I was teasing you Malfoy.”

“Really? Because it didn’t sound that way to me.”

“Well, maybe you need your hearing checked.” She huffed as she made to move around him and head back towards the castle.

Draco reached for her arm to stop her progress. “I don’t think so.”

Hermione paused and tilted her head up questioningly, while Draco’s gaze darkened as he considered her. After a few tension filled moments, and Hermione realizing that Malfoy wasn’t going to make a move, she sighed and pulled away. She had almost got to the edge of the clearing when she heard Draco’s voice stop her.

Turning around, she watched mesmerized as he sauntered with purpose towards her. When he stopped right in front of her, Hermione’s breath caught at the heated look in his eyes. She was completely stuck where she was standing, unable to move or look away until he placed his hands on her face, and then lowered his lips onto hers.

Draco’s lips had barely touched her own when she heard someone calling out her name. Her eyes opened in shock, (as she hadn’t realized they’d closed) and for a split second she could see the disappointment in Malfoy’s eyes before that damn mask came back down and he took a small step back.

Hermione was fairly certain her face was heated with a blush that was both parts embarrassment and arousal, but she didn’t get another thought across as Percy and Annabeth came through the clearing.

“There you are!” The relief in Percy’s voice was palpable and Hermione felt guilty for a split second as she’d probably worried everyone with her disappearing act.

“Yes, I went for a fly with Zee.”

“Yes, we saw that Mi,” Annabeth grinned knowingly at her best friend, not missing the tension between she and Draco. “I think everyone saw that.”

Hermione rolled her eyes as she moved towards her best friend and bumped her shoulder. “Everyone, huh?”

“Mmmhmm.” Annabeth grinned. “You okay.” She whispered as they moved back towards the castle.

“Your timing’s terrible.” Hermione whispered and Annabeth’s eyes widened at the innuendo.

“Sorry. Next time send up a smoke signal or something.”

“Right, like that’s going to happen.”

Behind them, Percy and Draco were walking side by side a bit slower than the two girls and after a moment Percy spoke up.

“Why do I get the feeling I walked into something.”

“You didn’t Jackson.” Draco replied quickly.

“Right.” Percy snarked, clearly not believing Draco’s words.

“What do you want me to say right now?”

“How about the truth?”

“I’ve told you how I feel, but I’m trying to be respectful of Granger’s feelings too. Our history is complicated and while I know we’re attracted to each other, I’m not going to rush into anything until she’s ready.”

“You might want to consider the fact that Mi isn’t like your Pureblood girl’s. She’s more like Annabeth than not. It took me a long time to break through Annabeth’s defenses, but once I did there was a person who was generous, loving and loyal to a fault. But, I had to pursue her and it took me a while to figure out where my head and heart was where Annabeth was concerned. It wasn’t until I took a dip in the Styx, and saw her beckoning me out of its depths that I realized she was it for me.”

Draco swallowed heavily as he stared straight ahead, going over Jackson’s words in his mind.

“Did you almost die?”

Percy nodded. “If it hadn’t been for Annabeth, and what I felt for her I would’ve never made it. I can’t imagine what the war must’ve been like for you Malfoy. But we all have our personal Styx’s that we have to overcome to be who we’re meant to be. If Hermione is worth it to you, than you need to figure out what that means to you and what you need to overcome to have her in your life.”

“I wish it was that simple.”

Percy gave him a condescending smile. “It’s not meant to be. Nothing worth anything in this life is meant to be easy. It’s funny how we wrap our minds around things and then try to fit that into our own warped version of reality. If life were simple, we’d be bored to tears.”

Draco chuckled and nodded. “There’s nothing simple about Granger. There never has been.”

“And that’s what makes her worth it.” Percy finished firmly.

“I know.” Draco admitted lowly. “I’ve always known it. Even when I didn’t, couldn’t acknowledge it.”

“I had this talk with Aphrodite once a while ago. I was trying to find Annabeth, and had discovered that she was thinking of joining the Hunters.” At this admission Draco’s eyes widened and Percy nodded reluctantly before he sighed and went on. “She showed up with Ares, don’t ask me to explain right now. But the gist of this is she gave me some good advice that I wasn’t ready to hear at the time, but now I understand what she meant.”

“And what was that?” Draco asked warily, seeing the earnest expression on Percy’s face as his deep blue eyes stormed with emotion.

“Love conquers all.” Percy smiled fondly at the memeory before his grin widened. “Of course, The Goddess used Helen and Paris as an example.”

Draco was stupified for a second before he grinned. “Didn’t their love cause the fall of Troy?”

“It did,” Percy’s face saddened for a split second before he shrugged, “a fact I reminded Aphrodite of.”

“And how did that go?”

“She just said ‘ppfft, that’s not the point and follow your heart’ and it took me a while, but I did.”

Draco laughed, which caused Percy to snicker too. Hermione and Annabeth looked behind them and Percy winked, causing Annabeth to grin and Mi to roll her eyes.

Draco sobered up fairly quickly, as he gave Percy a sidelong glance. “Why are you sharing this with me?”

Percy paused and then said simply, “Because someone needs to and Mi won’t ever initiate anything between you both. Too much has happened and it’s going to take her a long time to be sure of where she stands with you. If you’re looking for a sign, I’m afraid you’re out of luck.”

Thinking on his words, Draco realized that Jackson was right. Granger would never be comfortable initiating anything beyond a tease here and there and despite his desire to do this properly, his own background was much different than hers. He needed to try and find some common ground, or he’d likely lose her just as Jackson had almost lost Annabeth.

“Thank you, for what it’s worth.”

Percy grinned. “You’re welcome Malfoy. And if you tell Mi I said anything, I’ll create an earthquake and let the ground swallow you whole.”

Draco’s matching expression let Percy know that the wizard wasn’t scared of him. Percy had to give the blonde credit, he was probably a bit braver than he gave himself credit for.

Chapter Text

Draco had spent the better part of the week pondering over Jackson’s words to him. It was hard to know how he might go forward with his desire to date Granger, without forcing her into courting as would be expected of Pureblood’s in both their positions.

Pureblood’s in the Aristocracy didn’t date persay. The idea was rather ludicrous, as the rules of courting were quite specific in what kinds of overtures were expected when a wizard makes his intentions known. He didn’t want to cheapen anything, and he didn’t want Granger to feel that he was somehow disregarding her worth to him either. He’d never been so irritated by the circumstances of his birth until the Dark Lord had returned, but even then he’d had few choices in the matter.

He never thought he’d be even less enamoured of his heritage than he’d been back during his sixth year. Until now.

He wanted to date Granger and spend time with her...alone. He wanted to take her to Hogsmeade and picnic with her by the Black Lake while they spent time discussing magical theory. He wanted to try and persuade her to ride his broom with him and listen to her give every reason under the sun why she wouldn’t. He’d eventually wear her down, and the victory would be all the sweeter because of it. He wanted to hold her hand, kiss her lips and feel her body mold to his.

But Draco also knew there was the larger part of him that felt completely unworthy, especially after everything he’d done. All the wrong choices he’d made before and during the war weighed heavily on him. It was hard to reconcile the two disparate parts of himself: The one that longed for something brighter and the one who still lived in the darkness.

Hermione over the past week had warred with herself as well. She was still waiting to get permission from Professor McGonagall to use Dumbledore’s pensieve and as such she waited to read the letters from her mother. She didn’t know where her reluctance was coming from, and even Annabeth had commented on it a few days ago when they’d discussed Hermione’s mother and what she remembered from her childhood. The memories were sporadic, and Hermione had to wonder if that had to do with the binding spell that had been placed upon her. It seemed as time passed, more of her true nature seemed to be spilling out. Where she’d always been singularly focused and task-oriented, lately she’d felt as if there was another part of her that was constantly on edge. The children of the Gods were known to suffer from ADD like symptoms, but Hermione never had that problem even as a child. So, she didn’t know where these feeling of angst and distraction were coming from.

Malfoy had been both attentive and aloof this past week. Halloween was today and Ginny was excited for the party in Gryffindor this evening. She’d invited all the Houses, seventh and eighth years and everyone had responded in the affirmative. If one good thing had come about from the war, it was the fact that inter-house unity seemed to no longer be within the realm of impossibility.

Things currently seemed to be at a standstill. Even her potions project with Malfoy had hit a snag as they were waiting to hear back from Damocles Belby in regards to the use of Wiggenweld Potion in their Wolfsbane modification.

The one positive takeaway from the past week was that Harry had written to her and mentioned that he and Ron had gotten special permission to attend Slughorn’s monthly dinner party next Saturday, so that was something to look forward to.

Hermione grabbed her book bag and decided to head to the library to get some studying done. It was too early for breakfast and she had several assignments due next week that still needed to be completed. When she walked into her large haven and went to take her normal spot in the back near the Restricted Section, she stopped short when she noticed Draco sitting at her table with his head down on the table fast asleep.

Moving over quietly, she cast a Muffilato and then placed her book bag down on the floor before moving around the table to get a closer look.

There were several books splayed out over the table, as well as some parchment and a fine set of ebony quills that looked to be fairly expensive. But what amazed her the most was how peaceful Draco appeared deep in slumber. Without his usual mask, his face looked boyish and more handsome than normal. His hair glinted in the light that was coming through the high window, causing a small smile to lift onto the corners of her mouth.

Warring with herself, Hermione wasn’t sure what to do. The war hadn’t been over for very long and there were many mornings even now, she awoke with a startled gasp with her wand gripped tightly into her hand and a spell readied at her lips. She could well imagine that Draco might have the same issues and she didn’t want to get hexed for her troubles.

Moving over to the side, she sat down on the small couch across from him and grabbed her Charms book to read over the next chapter for her homework. She had become so engrossed into the ramifications of freezing charms and their applications in healing, that she didn’t notice the Wizard next to her waking up until she heard a soft groan fall from his lips.

Her amber eyes turned towards the sound, and she grinned when she saw Draco lift up his head as he rubbed his hands over his face before he lifted his arms and stretched sinuously. Hermione’s gaze fixated on the small expose of skin that was bared at his waist when his jumper rode up, and she quickly averted her eyes back down to her school book.

“Granger?” The words were mumbled sleepily as she looked back over and noticed grey eyes gazing at her in confusion.

“Hi.” Closing her book, she set it aside for the moment. “I’m sorry if I woke you.”

Shaking his head free of the cobwebs that were still making his thoughts a bit jumbled, Draco just sat back and grimaced. “You didn’t wake me.” He then sighed as he looked at all the scattered parchment and books he’d left sitting out. “I must’ve fallen asleep doing my homework.”

“Did you at least sleep well?” Hermione’s question was serious, but her grin was playful as she considered him.

Draco moved his neck and flinched a bit, bringing a hand to the left side of his neck. He’d obviously cricked it a bit sleeping in such an odd position. His head was tilted down, so he didn’t immediately notice that Granger had moved until he felt soft hands gently moving his own out of the way to gain access.

Hermione didn’t know what she was doing, but it was clear Malfoy was in a bit of discomfort and she’d done this for Harry many times over the years. The fact that this was definitely not Harry...well, she was choosing to ignore that fact currently.

“What are you doing?” Draco gruffed out lowly as he instinctively allowed his neck to tilt to allow Granger better access.

“What does it look like Malfoy?” Her response was a bit short, but she forged on with her attentions, trying to act nonchalant. “Do you want me to stop?”

She hit a particularly tense knot and Draco groaned as his hands fell limply into his lap. His grey eyes opened for a split second, and Hermione couldn’t help but notice and how darkened they looked.

“No.” Was all he said, so she nodded and continued on with her ministrations. It was several minutes before she quietly asked,

“What were you studying?”

“Transfiguration and Defense.”

“Hmmm,” Hermione hummed out softly, “did you finish?”

“Mostly.”

She nodded as she moved her hands over Draco’s shoulders and continued to massage the knots she found there. His pleasured hums were doing weird things to her stomach, not to mention her knickers.

“Where did you learn to do this?”

“Oh, Uhm...Harry mostly? When he’d get particularly tense, it seemed to help relax him.”

Draco’s eyes opened again as he considered her. He didn’t speak for a while, but when he finally did his voice was rough. “Is this something you do for everyone?”

“No. Just a few people.”

“Like?”

Hermione sighed as she went to move back, but Draco was quicker and held her hands in his on his shoulders. When it looked like she wasn’t going to answer, he whispered, “Tell me?”

Another sigh fell from her lips, but she replied so quietly Draco almost didn’t hear it. “Harry, Luke...you.”

Draco nodded as he released her left hand, but pulled her around his body by her right hand until she was perched on his lap. He stared at her intently, seeing all sorts of emotions playing in her expressive eyes.

“Tell me about Luke.”

Draco felt her tense at the question, but she didn’t immediately pull away either so he took that as a good sign.

“Nico told me a bit about him,” Draco admitted.

“What did Nico tell you?”

“That Luke was a Son of Hermes. That he died when Kronos took over his body, but in the end he did the right thing.”

Hermione nodded, her eyes darkening a bit as she bit her lip in contemplation.

“That wasn’t all Nico said, was it?”

Draco didn’t respond and Hermione had to respect that whatever Draco Malfoy’s faults were, he was loyal to those he considered a friend.

“Luke was complicated,” she began hesitantly, “strong, smart, fierce, determined and a natural leader. He was also stubborn, angry and slow to trust.”

“Sounds like he’d have made a good Slytherin.” Draco smirked and Hermione giggled at the truth of that.

“Yes, he would have.” She agreed easily. “He was very angry about the fact that my Godly Powers were bound, but I had no idea that he’d go to such extremes...” her voice faltered as she lowered her head in shame.

“It wasn’t your fault Granger. We sometimes make bad decisions for what we think are good reasons. Doesn’t change it though. Nothing will ever change it.”

Hermione lifted her gaze and noticed how sullen Draco seemed. She instinctively understood what he was implying.

“Malfoy, is this what’s been wrong?”

“What do you mean?”

Hermione huffed. “You. There’s something going on with you. Do you not want to...”

Draco didn’t allow her to finish as he shook his head emphatically in the negative. “This has nothing to do with you Granger. You need to know that.”

“So what is it then? Is this more than just Pureblood customs?”

“Yes and no,” he shrugged, “but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there’s a large part of me that feels very unworthy to be with you.”

“I see.” She said softly, and Draco could see her body language closing in on herself. He lifted her chin so their eyes met and he smirked.

“You don’t. Not everything, and that is my fault. Look, Pureblood society is very stringent on courting. I know we’ve discussed it somewhat but it’s true. Causal dating is not something that’s done, especially at my age.”

“You’ve never causally dated anyone? Not even Pansy?”

“I went to the Yule Ball with Pansy, but that was it. So no, I haven’t dated anyone.”

“Oh!”

“Yes, oh.” Draco’s smirked deepened a bit. “Being a Malfoy, it would have been highly improper for me to string someone along in such a way. Some do take advantage though, but I was never one of those who could do that, even if I’d wanted to. Which I didn’t.” He was quick to add.

“That’s both awfully old fashioned and surprisingly sweet.”

“I’m a study in contradictions.”

Hermione nodded and giggled. “That you are.” She sobered for a second as she considered what to say. “Where does that leave this?”

“Between us?”

“Yes.”

“Do you want the proper answer, or the brutally honest one?”

“I’m a Gryffindor Malfoy, do you even need to ask that question?”

His grin was sinful as his grey eyes sparkled with mischief. “Fine witch, but remember...you asked.”

“I will.”

“The proper answer would be that I would like to take my time and get to know you. Perhaps spend time in proper group settings with the necessary chaperones in more intimate settings until you feel comfortable enough to accept a formal courtship from me.”

“And the brutally honest answer?”

Draco paused before he swallowed and then said huskily, “That right this very second; I’d very much like to taste every inch of you...cataloging every breath, moan and scream for further research opportunities.”

Hermione didn’t think she was capable of blushing as hard as she currently was, but Malfoy’s pleased smirk told her that she was most likely a lovely shade of deep red right now, not to mention her knickers were drenched.

“Oh my...” she said breathlessly and watched as Draco’s gaze darkened to the deepest slate as he mimicked her.

“Oh my, is promising.”

“But you’re not going to act upon it, are you?”

“No.” He stated quickly. “Not until you give me the all clear.”

“And that would be?”

“Everything. Courtship, betrothal, engagement, marriage.”

“Draco...”

“I know. You’re not ready.”

“So that means you’re not even going to kiss me?”

His smirk was pleased as he replied with, “Not yet.”

“That feels like emotional blackmail.”

Draco chuckled deeply. “Does it?”

“Yes!”

“Most witches would disagree.”

“That’s because they’re living in the eighteenth century.”

“True, but it doesn’t change the facts.” He sighed deeply before continuing on. “Granger, I was never a wizard to use my name to seduce witches into my bed even when my name meant something. The Malfoy name may be tattered and in ruins, but this is fundamentally who I am. My uneasiness with Muggle culture and Muggleborns stemmed fundamentally from my respect for the traditions I was raised in. Being permissive is more acceptable in Muggle culture, but it wasn’t always that way, right?”

“No,” she conceded reluctantly, “things have changed quite a bit in the last few decades.”

Draco nodded. “Some may view Pureblood traditions as old-fashioned and out of date, but there are good reasons for them. I’ve never been enamoured of the idea that my Father would choose my bride as I wanted to marry for love. It’s selfish of me, and perhaps not a popular concept within my former social circles but I’d always hoped that someday I’d find a witch who would see me as Draco and not as Malfoy.”

“You haven’t made it easy for anyone to see you as anything other than Malfoy?”

“True, but not always by choice either.”

“You confuse me.”

“I confuse myself.”

“So?”

“You need to know that I want this...us. I may not show it in the way Percy shows Annabeth, but it doesn’t negate the fact that I want you. Public displays of affection...”

“Isn’t the Slytherin way?”

“No it’s not.”

Hermione nodded in reluctant understanding. “Why do I feel like we’re right back to where we started?”

“It might feel that way but the power is ultimately in your hands, Granger. I will try and do my best to answer any questions you have, be as open as I can be and treat you with the deference you deserve from me. Merlin, the way I should’ve treated you from the beginning. This is the only way I know how to show you that I’m sincere in my regard for you.”

“So you’re declaring yourself, in the only way available given the social constraints of our situation?”

“Brightest Witch.” Draco nodded as he smiled softly. “But yes, until you tell me otherwise.”

“Alright. I will respect that and try not to think the worst.”

“I’d appreciate that.”

“So explain courting to me?”

So, Draco did. He explained the process of courting officially, the acceptance of a gift signifying an understanding between the parties. The formal betrothal process and the family contracts that were part of that step. The engagement period and finally the marriage. Sexual relations were not consummated until after the time of the marriage and chaperones were traditionally agreed upon in most intimate settings.

“It sounds completely Victorian.”

“Yes, I’d imagine it does.”

“So who would be my intercessor?”

“For the betrothal, it would likely be your Head of House.”

“So my cousin Hector?”

Draco nodded. “Yes.”

“Is this the only way?”

Draco just gave her a lopsided grin. “Hermione,” his voice purred over her name, causing her to shudder at how seductive he sounded and effectively ruining her knickers. “Let me ask you this?” At her nod he continued on... “If I hadn’t told you about this and you found out via your cousin or someone else? And if I had pursued you outside the formal traditions, how would you have felt then?”

Hermione’s gaze moved over Draco’s shoulder as she weighed what he was telling her and she had to admit, he was right. If she had discovered this some other way, she’d always wonder if Draco had truly changed, or if he still saw her as beneath him. Godric, none of this made any sense!

“I’d feel cheapened.”

He nodded firmly. “And you’d never trust me again. What little trust I’d gained with you would be gone in an instant.”

“Part of me really wants to break your nose again.”

This admission caused Draco to laugh loudly, before he remembered where they were. “And the other part?”

“Wants to snog you.”

“Which part holds more sway.”

“Well, until today it was a pretty much an even competition.”

“And now?”

“Now, I can’t do either apparently.”

The smirk that made its way onto those sinful lips made Hermione want to scream in frustration.

“I’m yours, until you tell me otherwise. So, be sure Granger.”

“I just need a bit more time.”

“You’ll have all the time you need.” He then lifted her off his lap and cleared the desk before taking both their book bags. “Come on, it’s probably breakfast time and I’m starving.”

Hermione took his hand and together they made their way out of the library and into the unknown.

Chapter Text

The day had dragged on and somehow, Hermione and found herself sitting with Annabeth in the late afternoon by the Black Lake while Percy was somewhere below the water, probably having a good time with the Giant Squid. He’d been down there for at least an hour, so Hermione figured he’d be back soon.

“You okay?” Annabeth asked as she grabbed a glacial snowflake and popped it into her mouth.

“Fine.”

“Really? You’re so not fine, Mi. Want to talk about it?”

Hermione sighed as she twirled a blade of grass between her fingers. “I had a conversation with Draco this morning.”

“Oh?” Annabeth grinned. “And how did that go?”

“Are we grading on a curve?”

Annabeth’s grey eyes narrowed as she turned to her best friend, who seemed a bit down in the dumps.

“No, I think you should just tell me what he said.”

Hermione flung herself back and stared up into the heavens. Her powers started to coalesce as the clouds gathered, mimicking her grumpy mood.

“Someone’s a bit frustrated.”

“Shut it Chase.”

“Definitely frustrated.”

“He won’t kiss me.”

“Excuse me?”

Hermione turned her head towards her friend and said again slower, “He won’t kiss me. Not until I decide if I want to be formally courted.”

“Why?”

“It’s Pureblood tradition. Draco basically told me he wants it all with me...courting, betrothal, engagement, marriage.”

Annabeth gasped in shock and then grinned widely. “That’s serious.”

Hermione nodded, her eyes back on the sky. “It is.”

“And you don’t know how you feel about that?”

Hermione’s eyes lit up and ozone swirled around them as she clenched her fists into the earth. Annabeth just gave her best friend a pat on the arm in comfort.

“Mi, come on. Please don’t make it rain. It’s such a nice day.”

Hermione sighed and waved her hand, watching with bemusement as the clouds dispersed and the sun shone down upon them once again.

“Better.”

“Yes. Now explain why you are feeling this way? I thought you had feelings for Malfoy.”

“I do.”

“Then what’s the issue?”

“Just because I want him and I’m attracted to him, doesn’t mean I’m ready for the kind of commitment he’s expecting.”

“Ah, I get it. So you want to have your wicked way with him with no strings attached?”

Hermione blushed, but she didn’t deny it either.

“Can’t say I blame you. The boy is gorgeous.”

“Annabeth!”

“Don’t Annabeth me, Mi. You obviously want to get your claws into the snake. But you’re not sure attraction equals love?”

“No, I’m not.”

“Do you think he loves you?”

Hermione tilted her head back at her friend, thinking about that question. She had to admit that she hadn’t even considered where Draco’s actual feelings were at.

“No, I think he cares for me and could see us falling in love eventually.”

“And he’s willing to commit to you, to give you the power in the relationship with the hope that you both will have something lasting. What would happen Mi, if you accepted a betrothal and later decided you didn’t want to be with him?”

Hermione sighed unhappily. “I’d imagine I’d look like a jilt and Draco’s reputation would be irreparably damaged.”

Annabeth nodded in agreement. “So essentially, he’s giving you the power. All of it. Come on Mi! I don’t know about you but that’s hot.”

Hermione giggled at her friend. “Leave it to you to find the situation romantic.”

“It kinda is, in a very old fashioned way. What is holding you back?”

“Besides the fact that I’m not sure I can trust Draco after everything that’s happened and I rather dislike his parents immensely and my best friend hates his guts?”

“Yeah, besides all that.”

Hermione’s expression was irritated as she rolled her eyes at her friend. “This isn’t about Luke.”

“Isn’t it?”

“No, he’s gone Annabeth.”

“Only if you want him to be.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Mi, maybe you need to decide what kind of closure you might need before you can risk your heart again.”

Hermione rolled back down with a sigh, staring up at the blue sky. “Where’s Percy? Shouldn’t he be back by now?”

Annabeth shook her head at her friend’s change of subject but to be honest, she was beginning to worry about Seaweed Brain.

Calling out for him, it wasn’t a few moments later before Percy broke through the surface of the water and glided to the shore. He was dressed in swim trunks and Hermione couldn’t help but giggle at Annabeth’s playful expression as she gawked at her boyfriend.

“He’s my cousin Annabeth.”

“He’s not mine.”

“Whatever. I’m going to let you two lovebirds have some time to yourselves.”

“Are you going to head back to the castle alone?”

“I’ll be fine. Enjoy the sunny afternoon.”

Annabeth watched as her friend waved to Percy, before she grabbed her beaded bag and headed back to the castle.

Hermione started to walk along the path towards the castle, when she noticed a shimmering light coming from the other side of the lake. Intrigued, she wandered over down to the opposite shoreline and saw a beautiful woman standing by the water in a simple floral silk gown. Her golden hair glistening like diamonds in the light, and when she turned and smiled; Hermione’s breath caught at how beautiful the woman was. She didn’t need to take two guesses to figure out who this was.

Walking further down the path to the waters edge, Hermione stopped about six feet from the woman and bowed humbly.

“Lady Aphrodite.”

“Hello Hermione. I’ve been so excited to finally meet you.”

“Are you here alone?”

“Oh, I’d imagine Percy might’ve mentioned a thing or two when he’d met me last. But yes, I’m here alone. Ares is quite sensitive to areas where wars were fought and as such, this place still carries quite a scar. I’m not sure he’d be able to stay out of trouble.”

“I see.”

“Yes, you do. Much more than you give yourself credit for, yet you second guess yourself at every opportunity. Your fatal flaw is not trusting enough in yourself.”

“I don’t understand. I thought it was being too forgiving.”

Aphrodite waved her hand as if she’d found that thought ridiculous. “No child, your fatal flaw has always been not trusting in yourself. Your boggart here in school, what is it still to this day even after fighting in a war?”

“Professor McGonagall telling me I failed everything.”

“Do you see where I’m going with this?” Aphrodite smiled indulgently. “You are faced with a difficult choice between the two halves of your heart.”

“Between Luke and Draco?”

“Yes and no.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Between your Godly heritage and your magical one. Between having a life with the Gods, and having a life here.”

“Can’t I have both?”

“Can you?”

Hermione thought about this for a moment and then sighed, while Aphrodite just stared out towards the water with a contemplative look on her face.

“You worry about being enough. Magical or Godly, it matters not Hermione. You were named for the daughter of the most beautiful woman who ever lived. Helen was faced with a similar situation and in the end she followed her heart.”

“And destroyed a civilization due to her selfishness.”

“Eh, tomato, potato.” Aphrodite quipped.

“I’m not sure that’s how that saying goes.”

Aphrodite grinned at her and Hermione couldn’t help but smile back. The Goddess’s beauty was disarming even for her.

“What do you want Hermione? When you close your eyes in the darkness at night and wish upon the heavens, who do you see in your mind’s eye as your future one?”

Hermione thought about it and shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“You do, you just have to give yourself permission and trust yourself enough to recognize it. You will, when the time is right.”

“Is this why you came here now?”

“I come where I am needed most.”

“And I needed you the most?”

“Don’t you?”

Hermione stared at the Goddess of Love who just smiled in that knowing way of her’s.

“I should thank you for coming to visit me then.”

“I could read your palm, if you like?”

“I’ll pass, thanks.”

“Very well. Call me if you have need of me.”

Hermione nodded slowly, but before the Goddess left, she asked one final question. “Is it possible to be in love with two people at the same time?”

Aphrodite’s smile took on a sad, wistful quality as she hummed in thought before answering.

“I think it’s possible to get so caught up in the minutiae of life, that we sometimes forget the basic truth of life itself.”

“And that is?”

“Love conquers all.”

“You said the same thing to Percy.”

“And it was good advice then too. Trust yourself and find love. It’s waiting for you Hermione, if you just let go of that logical part of your brain and give in.”

“Trust in you blindly?”

“Love is blind.”

“Deaf and dumb too.”

Aphrodite laughed joyously as she nodded in agreement. “It’s also the greatest magic.”

“My former Headmaster said something to that effect.”

“Wise Man.”

“If you say so.”

“I should go, you’ll have visitors coming to check on you shortly. I’ll be back young demigod. I find you rather intriguing.”

“Lucky me?”

Aphrodite winked before she twirled her finger, signaling for Hermione to turn around. In a blinding flash, her Divine Form pulsated through the area and then the Goddess of Love was gone.

Hermione sighed as she turned around and headed back towards the castle, not immediately noticing that someone was calling her name. When she looked up she saw Ginny standing with Seamus and Dean.

“Hey Mione. You alright?”

“Fine. You ready for tonight?”

“All set! Be there at eight sharp!”

“I won’t forget Gin.”

Checking the time as it was close to dinner, Hermione headed inside making her way to the Great Hall. Aphrodite had given her much to consider, and Hermione couldn’t help but wonder why things had to be so complicated all the time.

Chapter Text

At the appointed time, the Gryffindor common room was packed with seventh and eighth year’s who were raucously enjoying the pilfered butterbeer and firewhiskey that had been procured from Aberforth Dumbledore. Apparently Seamus and Dean had managed to keep the secret passageway open from the Room of Requirement to the Hogs Head and its dubious owner was more than willing to keep the two Gryffindor’s stocked with contraband.

Hermione’s wasn’t convinced that Minerva didn’t know about their little shin-dig, but to her credit she didn’t seem to be too worried. Ginny had promised that there wouldn’t be any students not of age at the party, and looking around the common room Hermione had to admit that the red-headed witch had kept her word.

The Slytherin’s were sitting over in the far corner with Nico. Percy and Annabeth were having a good time playing exploding snap with Seamus, Dean and Susan Bones. Hannah Abbott was quietly talking with Ernie McMillan and Luna; who looked absolutely herself in a shimmering purple frock with large flowers and her radish earrings prominently displayed.

Hermione grabbed a butterbeer and made her way over towards Annabeth, who smiled widely when she saw her best friend approaching.

“There you are! We were wondering when you were going to show up!”

Hermione shrugged and sat down, taking a measured sip of her drink. “Sorry. Lost track of time.”

“Studying?”

Hermione shook her head, averting her gaze as she took another sip of her butterbeer.

“You okay?”

Hermione sighed. “No offense Chase, but you ask me that question daily and the answer is always the same.”

Percy scoffed as he gave his cousin a dubious look. “Your definition of ‘fine’ needs work, Mi.”

“Thanks Percy.”

“It wasn’t a compliment.”

“I’d figured that on my own.”

Annabeth just glared at her friend, who seemed more subdued than earlier that day. “Did something happen after you left us?”

Hermione’s gaze locked onto Malfoy’s for a split second, and he was trying very hard to appear inconspicuous. She raised an eyebrow and he smirked in return. Shaking her head, she turned her attention back to Annabeth and sighed.

“I ran into an unexpected visitor.”

Grey eyes narrowed accusingly before Annabeth grit out, “Who?”

Percy had stopped what he was doing and gave both girl’s his full attention. Nico, who could see the changed atmosphere from across the room, sighed and moved over towards his cousins.

“What’s going on?”

“Gah!” Hermione’s voice elevated slightly as she stared down her family. “Nothing is wrong.”

“Sure Mi, and I’m the most popular demigod at Camp Half Blood.” Nico snarked out. His comment earned him a chuckle from Percy while Hermione just shook her head again.

“You’d be more popular if you didn’t brood all the time and skulk around like a serial killer.”

“Ouch!” Nico grinned. “That was cynical Mi, even for you.”

Humph!” She took another swig of butterbeer, ignoring all the interested stares coming her way from everyone in the common room.

“Is it that time of the month?” Nico’s grin had now taken on a predatory quality and Hermione’s eyes started to light up, as ozone filled the room. Everyone moved back a bit as they could see that the Gryffindor Princess was not amused.

“You’re pushing it cousin.”

“You’re grumpy Mi.” Nico stated unhelpfully. “It’s a party. You do know what that is, right?”

“Why are you here?” Hermione bit back. “You’re not of age?”

That got an amused chuckle from Nico. “Uhm, did you forget that technically I’m over seventy years old. I think that makes me of age, don’t you?”

Hermione’s glare was blistering, while Nico just continued to smirk at her in challenge. “Prat.”

“Nice come back.”

“Shut it Jackson.”

Annabeth grabbed her friend’s arm and gave it a shake. “What happened?”

Hermione sighed and threw her head back on the chair, clearly not wanting to see the expressions of everyone within the room. But there was one in particular, she’d like to avoid altogether.

“I told you, I had a visitor.”

“Who?” Nico inquired softly and Hermione’s eyes opened slightly, as she made eye contact with her cousin. His expression was worried and she knew he was only concerned for her well being.

“Aphrodite.”

Percy groaned loudly and Annabeth slapped his arm in warning. However Nico just said, “Oh. Right. I’ll just leave you alone now.”

“Thanks ever so much.” Hermione replied petulantly, before she closed her eyes again and decided to tune out the rest of the common room for a few moments.

Nico made his way back to the Slytherin’s, who were trying very hard not to pepper him with questions. Everyone had heard the admission from Hermione, but the only person who seemed to be unimpressed was the blonde wizard currently taking a fortifying sip of his firewhiskey.

“Did she say Aphrodite?” Daphne breathed out in awe.

“Yes.” Nico’s voice didn’t invite any other comments as the rest of his housemates clearly were trained in the art of subtext—and let the subject drop.

Twenty minutes had passed before Hermione went to grab something else to drink. She stared at the butterbeer and then grabbed a glass of firewhiskey and took a deep gulp. She gasped at the fierce burn and started to choke a bit before she grimaced at the glass and took another sip.

“It would probably be best to pace yourself.”

Her head whipped around and she saw Draco smirking at her as he reached for the bottle and re-filled his glass with a generous helping.

“Duly noted.”

“You don’t seem to be enjoying yourself.”

“That obvious?”

“Yes.”

“I’m not exactly a party girl.”

Draco chuckled before he took another pull on his drink, closing his eyes in bliss at the burn making its way down his throat.

He opened his eyes to find Granger staring at him. “Have you ever had firewhiskey before?”

“Yes.”

Draco sighed in resignation. “I’d thought we’d reached an understanding earlier.”

Hermione turned away and shrugged. “I thought so too.”

“And now?”

“I’m just processing Malfoy.”

“So your brilliant brain is overthinking everything, which is leaving you feeling unsure.”

Her eyes locked with his in surprise, as she nodded once.

“You know what I think?”

“Are you going to tell me anyway?”

“Probably.”

Hermione took another sip of her firewhiskey as she glared at Draco in challenge. He just gave her a measured look before he said, “I think you’re afraid of not having the control.”

Hermione seethed inwardly at Draco’s spot on assessment of her character.

“Really?”

“Yes.” He nodded firmly. “You’ve always been the rock behind Potter and Weasley. It’s been your planning and cunning that got Potter through every scrape he found himself in since first year. But that’s the thing with emotions Granger—sometimes you have to let go to get back.”

“That’s rich coming from you Malfoy.” Hermione quipped frostily. “You’re a Slytherin to the core. Your mantra is self-preservation.”

Draco tilted his head at the hit and smirked. “True. But I’ve already given you the control Granger. It’s just not in the way you want it.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Draco grabbed her hand and took her over to the alcove near the stairs, silently erecting a privacy charm as he considered her.

“It means—that you want your cake and eat it too. You want the control, but you don’t want to commit. Not fully anyway. Whatever happened this afternoon with the Goddess has left you shaken and unsure of what you want. You trust in logic without reservation, but you don’t trust your heart. Why is that?”

“And what about you, Malfoy? You’re not willing to compromise your Pureblood upbringing at all. Do you really expect me to arbitrarily commit to a future with you, without having all the facts?”

“And what facts are you looking for?”

“Geez, I don’t know..” she bit back sarcastically, “how do I even know we’re compatible if you won’t kiss me?”

Draco’s expression darkened as he moved in closer and leant down, deeply inhaling her scent as he ghosted his lips along the column of her neck. Hermione’s body shuddered violently at the sudden move as if she’d been shocked with electricity. It was heady and her knickers had reached completely drenched proportions.

Draco slowly moved his arm around her waist and pulled her flush with him, letting her feel just how affected he was by her proximity. When he pulled back slightly, his eyes were the deepest slate and his cheeks were flushed. He then moved forward again and she could feel his lips on the shell of her outer ear, his breath coming out labored and she could feel how hard he was. It was clear he was valiantly trying to keep control over his body’s reactions.

“Do you honestly think for one second that you and I aren’t going to be explosive, Granger?” He whispered deeply into her ear. “Can’t you feel what you do to me? Merlin witch, I can smell you...how aroused you already are. When you’re alone in your bed at night and you close your eyes—what is it you dream about in the deep of the night?”

Hermione whipped her head back in shock. Those were nearly the same words Aphrodite had used earlier today!

“What?!”

Draco’s expression was confused as he stared down into terrified amber eyes and he could feel Granger trembling against him.

“Did I say something wrong?”

She took a deep breath and reluctantly pulled herself away. “No—of course not. I’m tired though, and I’m going to head up to sleep.”

“Granger...”

“It’s fine Malfoy. Really.”

Draco’s expression shuttered as he nodded, clearly not understanding but knowing instinctively now wasn’t the time to pursue this. He watched Granger head up towards the dorms and when she got to the top of the staircase, she turned around and gave him a shaky reassuring smile.

“Enjoy the rest of your evening Malfoy.”

“Sweet dreams, Granger.”

Hermione nodded and moved out of his eyesight. He groaned lowly in aggravation before canceling the privacy charm. When he turned around, he caught Annabeth’s gaze and she motioned towards the common room door leading out into the seventh floor corridor. Draco nodded in understanding and made to follow her outside.

When they were clear of the common room entrance, Draco followed Annabeth to where the Room of Requirement was located.

“You know how to get in?”

Draco nodded as he paced in front of the wall three times before the door appeared. He opened it for the demigod and she moved into the room, smiling at the replica of the Slytherin common room.

“Is this your House common room?”

Draco nodded and gestured towards the couch. He waited until Annabeth took a seat before he followed.

“What did you want to discuss with me?”

Draco’s voice was as wary as his expression and Annabeth couldn’t help but feel sympathy for the wizard.

“I just wanted to help.”

“With what?”

Annabeth sighed as she turned on the couch to face him fully. “I know Mi better than anyone. I know how she tends to overthink things and I also know about your shared past. I probably shouldn’t even be discussing this, but if Aphrodite is involved, then things are more tenuous than I realized.”

“I’m not sure I follow.”

“Aphrodite tends to involve herself in the love lives of demigods she finds interesting. I’m not sure she’s malicious although she tends to make things more difficult for those who peak her interest. She did with Percy and I’m afraid she may have done something similar with Mi.”

Draco sat back and pondered Annabeth’s words before he decided to respond.

“Look, I don’t know much about how the Gods and Goddesses think, so I’ll just have to take your word for it. But I do know that something spooked Granger tonight.”

“'Aphrodite tends to have that effect on those she comes in contact with.”

“So what do you suggest?”

“I’m not sure I’m the best resource for that Malfoy.”

“You just don’t want to break Granger’s confidence, which I can appreciate.”

“I’m just trying to give you a bit of context is all. The Gods are difficult on a good day but as challenging as they can be, Mi is just as complex. But I probably don’t need to explain that to you.”

“No, you don’t. Granger has always been a force of nature but even when things were adversarial, I always knew how formidable she was.”

“Was this before or after she punched you?”

Draco smirked but didn’t answer the question and Annabeth couldn’t help but grin at the audacity of the wizard across from her.

“Can I ask you a frank question?”

“Can I stop you?”

“Nope.”

“Then ask away, Miss Chase.”

“Why Mi?”

Draco’s expression closed off somewhat as he stared at the blonde demigod. He wasn’t going to play dumb by pretending he didn’t understand what she was asking, but it wasn’t in his nature to be open about his feelings either.

“Do you really expect me to answer that question when I haven’t even had this conversation with Granger yet?”

“Not really, but I’d just wondered how one goes from tormenting mercilessly for six years and watching someone being tortured to doing a complete one-eighty?”

The scowl that came over Draco’s face wasn’t wholly unexpected but Annabeth wasn’t concerned, as the question needed to be asked.

“That’s a rather personal question.”

“Hypothetically speaking then.”

Draco chuckled as he lifted a mocking eyebrow at the demigod. “Seriously? We are going to speak in suppositional terms?”

“Why not? If nothing else you can always claim plausible deniability.”

“No thanks, but nice try.”

“You’re really a closed book, aren’t you? No wonder Mi is so confused.”

“I’m not sure what you mean. I’ve made my sentiments perfectly clear.”

“Have you?”

Draco didn’t respond but he stared over Annabeth’s shoulder in contemplation.

When the demigod realized that their conversation had hit a standstill, she sighed as she stood up. Draco followed suit out of his Pureblood training which garnered a swift smile from the Daughter of Athena.

Before she left the room, Annabeth turned around and said, “You’re not her only option. I’d remember that if I were you because if Luke does come back, nothing is going to get in his way and there won’t be any mixed signals or obscure Pureblood rules. He will take what he wants and that will be that.”

Draco’s gaze turned glacial as he sneered in response. “Assuming Granger still wants him.”

Annabeth just smiled at him like he was a daft idiot. “Why do you think she’s so confused? And more to the point, why do you think the Goddess suddenly has found Mi so Interesting? Aphrodite does love a good love triangle after all.”

With those words, Annabeth left the room and Draco just tilted his head back and stared up to the ceiling, quietly muttering ‘fuck!’ over and over again.

Chapter Text

Hermione found herself alone in her dorm room, staring out her window in quiet contemplation. Her conversation with Draco had been clear and confusing in equal measure and she couldn’t help but wonder how in Merlin’s name had Draco nearly quoted the Goddess verbatim? Hermione’s wasn’t daft, and as much as she abhorred Divination and Prophecy she knew well enough to know that the Gods all had some precognitive powers. Apollo was fairly gifted, but even her own Father could see the fates and what was to come. He couldn’t change the course of someone’s thread, but he could see a person’s pre-destined choice and consequence. All those who dwelled within the Halls of Olympus were given some level of foresight.

But even so, to hear Draco verbalize the words that Aphrodite had spoken to her only hours before had left her reeling.

Hermione placed her beaded bag onto her bed and opened it carefully before pulling out a small box and setting it onto her duvet. Perhaps the Goddess was right, and she needed to learn to trust herself more. The question was, how to do that when her heart and mind were evenly split in two. It was hard to fathom that this was her life now...as she was still coming to terms with everything.

She then opened the box and stared and the luminous pearl that was sitting on a bed of rich velvet and Hermione sighed heavily. Could it be that simple? Could she really get the closure she so desperately needed?

Closing the box, she put it back into her bag and then grabbed Harry’s Cloak and map, before silently making her way back down through the Gryffindor common room. When she got there, she immediately noticed that Annabeth and Draco were no where to be seen, but Nico was looking right at her like he could see her through the cloak. He probably could, she realized belatedly, as it was a Hallow conferred by Death himself. Maybe she could ask Thanatos (if she ever saw him) if the story of the Three Brother’s was really true.

Hermione walked over by the common room door and waited for a moment, but it seemed that Nico was more curious than furious at her hiding in plain sight, as he made his excuses to his friends and headed in her direction.

When he opened the door, she followed him outside into the corridor and together they made their way down towards the back of the castle where Hagrid’s hut was located. When she threw off the cloak, Nico just folded his arms and glared at her suspiciously.

“Explain.”

“I need your help.”

Nico sighed, knowing exactly what this was about. “I was wondering how long it would take before you asked this of me.”

“Are you angry?”

“No, but Percy and Annabeth are going to be furious.”

“I know, but I need to do this.”

Nico nodded as he melted into the darkness and after about thirty minutes, he returned looking rather exhausted but resigned.

“You have one hour Mi. No more. Mrs. O’Leary will take you to the edge of Elysium. From there the garden isn’t too far of a walk. Luke will be waiting for you there. You have the pearl?”

Hermione nodded.

“When the hour is up, step on the pearl, and picture this place right here. The pearl will transport you back instantly.”

Hermione gripped Nico into a fierce hug. “Thank you for doing this.”

“Don’t thank me yet. Hopefully my Father will remain oblivious, but if he doesn’t you need to leave immediately. No trying to talk your way out of trouble, understand?”

“I understand.”

Nico sighed and called out for Mrs. O’Leary, and in an instant the large hellhound was bounding through the shadows towards them.

“Hey girl.” Hermione petted her fur and Nico grinned as he gave the hellhound a firm pat on the head.

“Take Mi to the gates of Elysium, girl. Guard the area.”

Mrs. O’Leary growled and wagged her body, while Mi gave her cousin one last hug.

“If you’re not back in an hour, I’ll have to tell Percy and Annabeth and you know he will storm the Underworld to find you.”

“I know. One hour...no more.”

“Good luck Mi. I hope you get the answers you need.”

“Me too.” She said before climbing onto the hellhound’s back. She patted her fur one last time and then gripped tightly as Mrs. O’Leary bounded for the shadows, and then they were both gone.

“Fuck!” Nico whispered out unhappily as he sat down on the stoop and waited.

Elsewhere, Hermione and Mrs. O’Leary appeared right where Nico had said they would: the Gates of Elysium. Hermione slid off the hellhound’s back and spent a minute righting herself before she moved towards the gate and passed through its boundary with ease.

She quickly moved towards the lone hill and could see a sparkling garden situated high on the outcropping, it’s vast vista showing the Fields of Asphodel in the distance. She moved quietly, hoping that no one would take notice of her. When she passed by a glittering waterfall, her breath caught at the gorgeous man who was waiting for her. She stopped for a moment and took in the now grown man who was Luke Castellan. When she had left Camp the last time, he was on the verge of manhood, but now? Hermione shuddered at how gorgeous he was. When Luke turned to face her, his face broke out into a huge grin and without warning, he ran straight for her...picking her up and twirling her within his embrace.

The joyous laughter that fell from both their lips couldn’t be helped, and Hermione found herself staring up into the endless blue eyes of her Luke.

“Mine.” He whispered in awe.

“Luke.”

The Son of Hermes enveloped her into a crushing hug, which Hermione returned with equal ferocity.

“I almost didn’t believe Nico when he told me you were coming to see me.”

Luke set Hermione down and took her hand, leading her to a patch of grass by the waterfall that was completely private. He pulled her down into his lap and held her to him as he smiled in that way as if she’d hung the moon and the stars for him alone.

“I had to see you.”

“How angry are you at me?”

“Oh Luke! I’m not angry. Hurt—yes. But I understand why you did what you did. I would’ve never asked that of you.”

“I know Mine, but I didn’t have a choice.”

“Luke, you always had a choice! You left me...” her voice fell away and Luke lifted her head into his hands, cupping her cheeks and leaning his forehead to hers.

“I didn’t. It was the only way to make sure that all the demigods were acknowledged as was our right. I didn’t know if I’d ever see you again, but those at Camp looked to me. They looked to me to fix what was broken and I did. I sacrificed my life to do so and I’d do it again if it meant making sure that you had a chance to be you...the real you.”

“Luke, I don’t know what to say.”

“You know I love you Mine. I’ve loved you for years and I will always love you. I will wait for you to return here to me and perhaps in time we can be reborn and have the life we were meant to have together.”

“You would do that? You’d wait for me?”

Luke’s expression was fierce as he nodded with absolutely no hesitation. “Of course I would.”

Hermione couldn’t help the tears that welled up into her eyes as she ran a hand through Luke’s hair. His expression morphed into one of sad resignation as he held her to him.

“I know that you care for me Mine, but I’ve always known that I didn’t hold all of your heart.”

“What?”

Luke chuckled in amusement. “You’re here because you want and need to move on, and the part of you that still loves me is holding you back from living your life. Annabeth mentioned to me once that there was a wizard that you had conflicted feelings for. Tell me about him.”

Hermione sat back stunned for a moment, before she spoke up haltingly. She told Luke about Draco and their history and to his credit he listened and didn’t judge. After a while he just chuckled deeply.

“He sounds like an idiot. But not.”

She grinned and nodded. “He’s difficult; and I’m trying to understand why he is the way he is.”

“Well, that part isn’t too difficult to figure out. It’s obvious the guy has feelings for you but he’s too afraid to put himself out there without some kind of safety net assuring him that you feel the same way. It might be due to his upbringing but I’m thinking it’s more due to the fact he’s afraid.”

“I get the feeling he’s been afraid a lot. Not that it excuses some of the hateful things he’s done.”

“And yet you don’t know how to feel about him?”

Hermione shook her head in the negative. Luke just smiled and said, “For what it’s worth, I just want you happy Mine. If you think you can find that with this wizard I would understand. I wouldn’t like it, but you need to live.”

“Would you wish to return and try again?” Her voice was hesitant and Luke to his credit, didn’t answer right away.

“That would require the blessing of Hades, and even then...I’m not sure I’d be the same Luke you’d knew. I wouldn’t want to take that chance unless I knew for sure that I’d still be the same Luke who loved you.”

“And not the impetuous Luke who decided to allow Kronos to take over his body?”

“Fair point, but yes. Being here has tempered much of those impulses Mine. Not all of them, but the worst ones. My Father actually came to see me not too long after I’d gotten here.”

“Really?”

Luke nodded. “We talked. I wouldn’t say we resolved much, but at least I know he loves me as much as he is able to.”

“That’s good, Luke.”

His expression darkened momentarily as he asked, “And your Father?”

Hermione shook her head and Luke scowled in disgust. “Figures.”

“Don’t, alright? I’m fine with it and whatever happens, I know he cares for me Luke. In the Magical war, I was captured and tortured. My Father came to me and saved me during the worst of it. I would’ve died had he not. He cares for me. Maybe not in the ways I wish he would but the sentiment is there.”

“You were tortured? Is that person dead?”

“Yes she is. I’m sure she’s enjoying her eternity in the pits of Tartarus as we speak.”

“That’s something.” Luke gritted out. His expression softened as he placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. “I’m glad you made it out okay.”

“Me too.”

“I’ve missed you Mine.”

“I’ve missed you too.”

Luke tilted his head down and captured her lips in a sweet kiss. It was passionate and full of purpose and she couldn’t help but immediately respond to it. Her heart swelled with love and affection as they finally pulled back simultaneously.

“Please be happy Mine.”

“I’ll try my best.” Her hand ran through his hair again and he smiled at her adoringly.

“You have to go?”

She sighed and nodded. “I should. It’s almost time. Nico told me I had an hour.”

“I’m afraid my son overestimated how long it would take me to notice that my Kingdom had an uninvited guest.”

Hermione gasped as her head whipped up and her eyes caught the blackened ones of the God of the Underworld. Luke, stood up with her firmly within his embrace—his body coiled like the warrior he’d always been—ready to go into battle.

“Hermione, Daughter of Zeus. It has been a long time.” Hades grinned in a twisted sort of predatory way that morphed his face into something inhuman. “You will come with me.”

“My Lord...she has done nothing wrong.” Luke’s voice was firm with a pleading edge to it, as he stared down the God of the Underworld.

“That is not your right to say, Luke Castellan. You will release her.”

“Not until I have your word she won’t be harmed.”

Hades chuckled and then bared his teeth. “You should remember your place, demigod.”

“My place will always be between you and her.”

Hades eyes swirled with malice, but he seemed almost fondly amused by Luke’s posturing. The darkness emanating from the God was palpable.

“I almost forgot how annoying you are Castellan and I see death hasn’t tempered those impulses.” His deep gaze shifted to the young female demigod, partially hidden by the Son of Hermes. “Now my Niece—I’m assuming you wouldn’t wish for Luke here to suffer endlessly for your mistakes?”

Luke growled, but Hermione grabbed his arm and gave it a firm squeeze. “You need to let me go. I’ll be alright.”

Luke enveloped her back into his arms and then looked down into their enjoined hands with a curious expression. His blue gaze met hers and she smiled sadly. “I do love you.”

“And I you. Be happy Mine and remember, I’ll be waiting for you.”

Hermione nodded as she moved reluctantly out of his embrace before silently making her way towards Nico’s Father.

“Wise decision.” Hades snarled before he swept his hand forward and they were removed from that place instantaneously.

Chapter Text

When they rematerialized seconds later, Hermione found herself looking out over the Fields of Asphodel from another part of the Underworld. She took in the endless expansiveness with a curious expression.

“It’s different than I’d imagined it.” She murmured to herself, but Hades moved alongside her and gazed out over his domain.

“And what did you imagine it to be?”

Hermione side-eyed her Uncle and noticed he was considering her curiously.

“I’m not sure. It has a starkness to it I’d always imagined, but there are parts that are truly beautiful too.”

“Hmm, I’m not sure about that. Elysium as you’re well aware, is for those heroes who’ve lived their lives with honor. Your spot there is assured after all you’ve suffered.”

“That’s kind of you Uncle.”

Hades chuckled deeply as he moved back towards his palace, and Hermione’s eyes widened at the size and scope of the building. It was bigger than Hogwarts.

“I’m not kind Niece. However, your mother secured a vow from me for your behalf. I needed a hero to champion the fall of Tom Riddle and she wanted to make sure that Hera left you alone so that your vow could be fulfilled.”

Hermione’s expression was surprised, eliciting another bout of humor from Nico’s Father.

“You didn’t think the things that were happening to you were random, did you?”

“No,” her voice was sadly resigned, “I had wondered though.” She followed her Uncle into his palace and stared at everything she could see. It was both majestic and depressing.

“Hera is a jealous cow.” Hermione laughed and Hades smiled evilly. “I do believe Annabeth Chase said something along those lines once? It’s true, even if it doesn’t negate the fact that she wishes you dead.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Because I swore an oath to your mother on the River Styx that I would protect you. Even though your vow is fulfilled, an oath of a God is not an easy thing to dismiss—no matter how much I’d wish to. You have also looked out for Nico and I can tell you care a great deal for him and he for you. It is unfortunate that his sister wasn’t more invested in her brother’s well being.”

Hermione just nodded, as she didn’t feel it was her place to comment on such family matters.

“So you’re not angry with me for being here?”

Hades sighed in pained irritation but he didn’t reply. Hermione smirked inwardly as she followed him into the bowels of his palace. He didn’t need to comment. His words had been enough for her to know he’d let her go back to Hogwarts eventually.

“Smugness is offensive. Unless it comes from myself.” Hades growled out and Hermione just tilted her head down humbly and murmured an ambiguous agreement.

“There you are darling.” Hades purred to his wife, who gave him a look of utter loathing.

“You have a guest.” Persephone glanced her way briefly, before turning her attention back to her husband.

“An uninvited one, but yes...a guest.”

“Hmm.” Persephone wandered over and circled her, before standing in front of Hermione and tilting her head up so their eyes eyes could meet. “A Daughter of Zeus. What brings you here child?”

“Oh...uhm...”

Hades snorted as he grabbed a goblet of wine and took a drink, grimacing as it tasted of ash.

“Love darling. You do remember that emotion, don’t you?”

Persephone rolled her eyes at Hermione, who tried her very best not to grin at the put upon expression from the Goddess.

“I wouldn’t remember dearest, as it’s been an eternity since I was stuck down here with only you for company!”

“It hasn’t been an eternity, my pet. Don’t exaggerate.”

“Fine then! It feels like an eternity...anyone would say the same thing having to deal with you.”

“Perhaps I should come back some other time?”

“Nonsense my dear.” Persephone took her arm and led her to the table that had a large buffet spread out. “Are you hungry?”

“No. I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to accept any food or drink while I’m here. I’d like to keep my wits about me if that’s alright with the both of you.”

Persephone grinned and cast a scathing look over her shoulder at her husband. “This one is clever. Pretty too. Shame.”

“I’d thought you had enough playthings coming and going wife.”

This caused Persephone to scoff loudly. “And? You say it like it’s a bad thing! My mother hasn’t come to visit in ages and I’m stuck here with only you for company and conversation? It’s a fate worse than death.”

Hades just drank from his goblet as he stared at his wife from over the rim. Hermione couldn’t help but shift uncomfortably as she watched the heated banter between the two Gods.

“You’re being a terrible hostess.” He gritted out as he slammed the goblet down.

Persephone just waved her hand dismissively. “As if I care about that!”

Pinching the bridge of his nose, Hades sighed before standing up. “My apologies Niece, you see what I have to deal with. You’d think she’d be grateful for a modicum of company but...no! All she does is whine!”

“I do not whine!” Persephone screeched out as she stomped her foot in irritation.

“Of course not, beloved.” Hades moved over to the buffet and grabbed an apple with a sigh of longing. “I’m equally sure that no one can hear your dulcet tones from halfway downward towards the pits of Tartarus itself.”

“Now you’re just exaggerating!” Persephone huffed out in annoyance. “And why do you constantly go for the apples? You’d think after an eternity, you’d realize that everything will just taste like ash.”

Hades grimaced at the luscious piece of fruit before setting it down with a sad expression. “I think you put them out on purpose! Just to mock me.”

“Heaven forbid anyone mock the Great Hades!”

Hermione sighed softly as she watched the two banter back and forth for an interminable amount of time. She managed to find a nice seat and sat down, watching the snarky banter becoming more and more heated and scathing. When the two Gods started hurling objects instead of insults, she took out her wand and placed a shield charm around her as well as a muffliato. There was no telling when they would be done with their discussion, and she was fairly certain they’d forgotten she was there.

Back in Scotland, Nico was now pacing back and forth along the pathway as the time for Hermione’s return had long since passed. He tried calling for Mrs. O’Leary, but she wasn’t responding which made Nico’s worry bloom into all around panic. He decided to give it a bit more time before he alerted Percy and Annabeth, not knowing that his cousin and his cousin’s girlfriend at that very moment, were coming to their own startling realization.

After finishing her conversation with Draco and leaving him in the Room of Requirement, Annabeth headed back towards the Gryffindor common room, seeing Percy waiting for her outside in the hallway.

“How’d the talk go?”

“About as well as I’d thought it’d go. What are you doing out here?”

“Waiting for you. I thought you could check on Mi before we called it a night.”

Annabeth nodded as Percy gave the Fat Lady the password, the door opening to the common room and Annabeth headed straight up to Mi’s room.

However, when she got there...there was no Mi. Annabeth moved into the bathroom, but Mi wasn’t there either. Her beaded bag was also missing, so that told Annabeth that her best friend wasn’t anywhere within the Tower.

She hurried back down to the common room, and Percy was quick to notice her panicked expression.

“Did Mi leave while I was out?”

Percy shook his head and looked around the room to the other people, who all responded in the negative as well.

“Nico did leave a bit ago.” Theo offered.

“Did he say where he was going?”

“No, he didn’t.”

Percy grabbed Annabeth’s hand and was about to head out again when the portrait swung open and in walked Draco.

The blonde immediately noticed the charged atmosphere and he lifted an eyebrow questioningly.

“What’s going on?”

“Mi’s missing.”

Draco’s expression was something between exasperation and panic. “What do you mean she’s gone?”

“She’s not in her room.” Annabeth spoke up stiffly. “Her beaded bag is gone too.”

Draco nodded, his gaze narrowing as he pondered over this new information. “She took Potter’s Cloak then.”

“Nico left about an hour ago too.”

Shaking his head, Draco started to pace in agitation. “I’m assuming he didn’t tell anyone where he was going?”

Everyone nodded and Draco couldn’t help the groan that fell from his lips. “We should probably go find him them.”

“That’s not necessary.” Nico said, as he moved out of the shadows and into the common room. His face was drained, but his eyes were clearly filled with worry as he sat down. Theo handed him some chocolate to which Nico took a bite and nodded his thanks.

“Where’s Mi?” Percy asked sharply.

“She went to go do something.”

“Alone?” Annabeth bit out, and Nico shrugged.

“Yeah. She’s probably fine.”

“Probably?” Growled Draco. “What in Salazar’s name is that supposed to mean.”

“Where did she go Nico?”

Nico cringed as everyone was standing and staring at him. Some of the expressions were angry, others curious. Theo just seemed amused. Fucker...

“She’s in the Underworld.”

“What?!?”

“How?!?”

“What the fuck, Nico?!?”

The last one was Draco, who was clearly pissed.

“She’s. In. The. Underworld. Do I need to draw a picture?”

Annabeth’s gaze caught Draco’s and she smirked, while the blonde wizard just snorted back unhappily. She’d tried to warn him about Luke. Goddess, she loved being proven right!

“How was she supposed to get back?” Blaise asked intrigued.

“She has one of Persephone’s pearls.”

“Wicked!” Blaise grinned while Theo just rolled his eyes at his best mate’s love of Mythology.

“Nico, why isn’t she back yet?”

Nico shrugged. “Don’t know Percy. Mrs. O’Leary took her and I’m sure she must be exhausted because she’s not coming when I call her.”

“Or your Father found out Mi is in the Underworld and is pissed that she broke into his Kingdom!” Percy growled out angrily.

“You would know about that, wouldn’t you cousin?” Nico snarked and Percy just glowered unhappily.

“I went to save my mom, Death Breath. And the second time you brought me with you so I could take a dip in the Styx.”

There were a few gasps but oddly, the Slytherin’s didn’t seem all that surprised by the admission. Percy would need to follow up on that later.

No one knew what to do, and as they stood around pondering their next move—Hermione’s patronus burst into the common room, swirling around Nico.

“Nico, your Dad found me with Luke. Surprisingly he wasn’t too upset, but now I’m kinda stuck here in his palace...listening to him and your step-mom argue. Are they always like this? I don’t know how long I’m going to be stuck here behind my shield charm as they throw things at each other. I’ll be back soon, so please don’t worry.”

When the otter disappeared, everyone was shocked silent until Theo choked out a guffaw and then everyone broke down in raucous laughter. Nico’s face was split into a huge grin, and even Draco seemed amused.

“How long do you think she’ll be stuck there, mate?” Blaise was smiling so widely, Nico thought his face would split in two.

“I don’t know. Their fights tend to be epic. It could be a while.”

“Lovely.” Malfoy deadpanned as he sat down in a chair. “Don’t suppose you can go fetch her and bring her home?”

“Don’t suppose I could.” Nico bit back with a smirk and Draco’s eyes flashed for a second, but Nico could see the fear behind his gaze too. Sighing unhappily, he moved back over to the shadows and let them fall over the room before he stepped through and was gone.

Theo grinned. “That is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Blaise patted his friend on the back while everyone hunkered down to see when Nico would return.

Chapter Text

Nico shadow traveled to his Father’s palace and was immediately given entrance. When he walked down the hallway towards the main living room area, he could hear the loud voices echoing off the walls as well as a few crashes here and there.

When he got to the open doorway, he grimaced at the destruction within the room. The table was completely destroyed as were the sconces on the far wall. The grate on the fireplace had been broken in two—one piece was on the floor, the other was in Persephone’s hand as she waved it around threateningly. His Father was standing on the far side of the broken table, with an expression that bordered somewhere between amusement and irritation, as he deflected several objects that his wife had decided to throw at him in her anger.

He then noticed Mi, who was sitting on a chaise in the back right corner. There was a shimmering spell enclosed around her as she sat there and was reading a book of some kind. It was obvious she’s placed a silencing spell too, so she wouldn’t have to listen to the ruckus.

Hades’ gaze moved from his wife, to his Son and he smiled warmly in welcome.

“Look who it is dearest! Nico!”

Persephone immediately stopped her arm motion that was in the process of throwing a rather large goblet at her husband and she too, smiled warmly. “Hello darling! When did you get here?”

Persephone threw the goblet over her shoulder and it landed with a loud clunk on the floor. Hades rolled his eyes and then waved his hand, immediately bringing the entire room back to its former pristine state.

“I just got here. I came looking for Mi.”

Hades glowered while Persephone hummed in amused understanding. “I should be angry at you Son, for allowing her into my Kingdom without permission.”

Nico blushed, but wisely decided to keep his mouth shut. There wasn’t anything he could say to his Father that wouldn’t be considered disrespectful at this point. He looked over at Mi, who was smiling sheepishly at him and he rolled his eyes.

“He looks just like you when he does that.” Persephone mocked and Hades bristled for a second before he sighed heavily.

“He is my Son.”

“Yes he is. A child you had with another woman!”

“Not this again!”

“Yes, this again!”

“I allow you your little flings with mortals, darling. You think you’re being sneaky bringing them to our palace and then giving them one of your precious little pearls to make their timely escapes. I’m not oblivious you know!”

“No—just manipulative, egocentric, cruel, condescending, pithy, demeaning, sarcastic...”

“I do believe many of those words have similar meanings, My lovely. Perhaps you might consult a Thesaurus next time you wish to insult me properly?”

Persephone stomped her foot again, before she moved over to Nico and gave him a critical once over.

“You look better. You’re eating well? Staying out of trouble?”

“Yes Persephone. Mi has been taking good care of me.”

The Goddess turned her head and eyed the female demigod with an approving nod. “Well, that is good then. Perhaps you could try and visit more. I’m so bored and have no one to talk to but him.”

Nico nodded. “I can try. I’m in school right now. Magical school and I’ve made a few friends.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. They’ve all been really nice.”

“Well, that’s simply lovely.” Persephone’s face morphed into a pleasant expression. “Perhaps you could bring one of your friends with you next time you visit?”

Hades sighed. “Wife! My Son isn’t going to bring one of his little pets here for you to play with.”

The Goddess scowled at her husband and huffed indignantly. “I was only trying to be a supportive step-mother and then you ruin it with your baseless accusations!”

“They’re not baseless. You forget, I’ve been married to you for over seven millennia.”

“It feels like an eternity.”

Hades folded his arms and tilted his head back up towards the ceiling, muttering about having patience and not killing his wife even though she would deserve it. Nico just gave Mi a shrug and she couldn’t help but grin at how ridiculous this all was.

“Dad? Would it be alright if we headed back now?”

Hades waved his hand and in an instant both Nico and Hermione were returned to Hogwarts. Hermione turned around in shock while Nico just grinned at her look of astonishment.

“How?”

“He’s a God Mi, but even then? My Father controls all the passageways through the shadows and night. You feel alright?”

She nodded. “Just a bit surprised is all.”

Nico took her arm and led her back into the castle, where they headed up to the Gryffindor common room.

“Does Percy know I was gone?”

Nico nodded. “Your patronus came while I was talking with him and Annabeth.” Nico then grimaced and pulled her into a stopping position. “Actually, everyone was there.”

“When you say everyone?”

“Yeah, Draco heard it. He was furious.”

Hermione groaned out in frustration. “Great. Just great.”

“We should hurry up. Curfew is over and I’d rather not get into trouble anymore tonight.”

She nodded as she followed Nico towards the seventh floor. “Your dad really seems to care about you.”

“Yeah, in his own way.”

“Must be nice.”

Nico side-eyed her as they continued to walk together. “It is, but our relationship isn’t perfect.”

“No, I could see that but at least you can visit him and he acknowledges you. Even Percy’s dad comes when he needs him.”

Hermione’s voice broke on the last few words and Nico could hear the longing in her voice. Deciding to change the subject, he asked, “How’s Luke.”

“He’s good.”

“Did you get to talk?”

“We did.”

“And?”

“He wants me to be happy.”

“Well, that’s something. What do you want?”

“To be happy.”

Nico snickered. “Nice.”

They’d finally reached the seventh floor, and as they turned the corner to the Gryffindor common room, Hermione’s face blanched as she immediately noticed who was standing out in the hallway, clearly waiting for them to return.

Grey eyes met hers and she could see the repressed emotion swirling in their depths and he nodded to Nico.

“I see you both made it back in one piece.”

“It was touch and go.” Nico smirked. “But luckily cooler heads...”

“Yeah.” Draco’s gaze locked with hers. “Give us a few moments?”

Nico turned to his cousin, who nodded once so he made his way into the shadows and disappeared. Draco then marched over and stood right in front of her, his eyes blazing in their intensity.

“Did you find what you were looking for?”

“Malfoy...you don’t need to be upset.”

An eyebrow lifted at the admonishment, but clearly the wizard thought differently. “I beg to differ Granger.”

“Are we really going to do this now?”

“If not now, when?”

“I don’t know. All I do know is you make me feel very confused and conflicted. For years we’ve been adversaries and now all of a sudden I’m supposed to just accept that you want a commitment from me? I don’t understand this Pureblood nonsense and I’m not sure I want to. I just want to feel normal for once in my life! Just a normal girl, who likes a boy and wants to date him without life altering expectations! I understand that your upbringing makes it difficult for you to accept that, but that’s where I am. So here it is—I’m ridiculously attracted to you Malfoy. You make me feel things I didn’t think were even possible. I love Luke. I will always love him, but I needed to see him so I could find a way to move on and be happy. That’s what he wants for me. I told him about you and you know what he said?”

Draco folded his arms and glowered as he stared her down. “What?”

“He thinks you’re afraid. That you want a commitment as a safety net before you’ll allow yourself to open up to me. To allow me to see the real you. Not Pureblood Malfoy, but Draco. I agree with him. I think your using this Pureblood thing as an excuse to force my hand.”

“That’s what you really think?”

“I do. I’m not angry about it. I understand. I think you’ve been afraid a lot and this...whatever we have, scares you as much as it does me. There’s nothing logical about us. On paper we don’t make a lick of sense but I can’t help the way I feel when I’m with you and I’m tired of trying to fight it. Draco...” her voice hitched, and Draco’s nostrils flared at the sound of his name on her lips, “Is this really going to be a dealbreaker?”

Draco considered her words for a moment until he replied, “And if I told you it was?”

Hermione sighed in defeat. “Then I’m sorry. But I don’t think this is going to work.”

She turned to leave and he immediately reached for her arm and pulled her back into him. His eyes were alight with so many raging emotions but the tantamount one was fear.

“You’d really walk away from me? From this?”

Hermione took her other hand and ran it gently through his hair, watching in fascination as his eyes shut and he hummed in pleasure at her touch.

“I wouldn’t want to. I don’t want to, but I don’t know what else to do. Do you want me to walk away?”

Draco’s eyes opened and fixated back onto hers. “No. That’s the last thing I want.”

“Then meet me halfway Malfoy.”

“And that would be?”

“No formal courting. Not yet. I would like to date and spend time together. I want to be able to hold your hand and kiss you. I won’t ask for more than that, as I’m not ready for that either. If it makes it easier for you, we don’t have to be public about it.”

“You mean sneak around?” Hermione shrugged and Draco chuckled. “Why Granger, how very Slytherin of you to suggest such a thing.”

She shrugged. “I actually think it might be preferable. Give us a chance to be with each other without getting anyone else and their opinions involved. Not that I care on whit about anyone’s opinions, but it might make it easier to navigate this if we don’t have to take other people’s feelings into consideration. At least initially.”

Draco pondered this and he realized that it was actually a fairly decent compromise. They could keep things relatively placid during school hours and still find time to hang out alone. The Room of Requirement was always a good idea for that sort of thing.

His eyes gleamed as a wicked smirk played upon his lips and without warning, he grabbed her hand and pulled her along the corridor towards the end of the hallway.

“Malfoy! What are you doing?”

“You said you wanted privacy witch, I’m just giving you what you want.” He stopped in front of the Room and said challengingly, “Still want to do this?”

Hermione grinned and nodded. “Open the door Malfoy.”

“Bossy witch.”

“You like this bossy witch.”

“That I do.” He agreed as he paced in front of the wall and when the door appeared, he grabbed her hand, both of them laughing as they made their way inside together.

Chapter Text

When they’d entered the Room of Requirement, Hermione paused as she took in the scene in front of her. The opulence of the furnishings, the large hearth and the obvious colors made her face break out into a indulgent smile.

“Slytherin Common Room? Really?”

Draco smirked, but didn’t deny it as he led her over to a rather large black leather sofa that was situated right in front of the fireplace. Casting a non verbal incendio, the hearth lit up and Hermione found herself comfortably ensconced on the couch next to the blond wizard who was eyeing her intently.

“So? The Underworld?”

She blushed, but nodded. “Yes. I went to Elysium.”

Draco sat back and pondered how best to go about what he wanted to ask.

“What was it like?”

“Not what I expected. I mean, Nico has mentioned a few things here and there but it wasn’t exactly what I’d imagined it to be. Elysium is idyllic and peaceful with lush green gardens and cascading waterfalls. The Isles of the Blest shine like beacons in the center of Elysium. It’s gates are made of the purest gold that shimmer like molten fire. Those who’ve chosen to be reborn thrice and die heroes each time are given eternal rest there. But there is a caveat. If you choose to be reborn, and you don’t die a hero you may find yourself spending eternity in the Fields of Asphodel or Punishment. The truly evil souls are banished to the lowest levels of Tartarus itself.”

Draco nodded. “And Luke is in Elysium?”

“He is.” Hermione responded softly. “He died a hero in the end.”

“Nico mentioned that Luke allowed Kronos to take over his body after he’d taken a dip in the Styx.”

“He did.” Hermione admitted with a sad sigh. “Luke was a leader at Camp. All the other demigods looked to him and he relished in that but he also took that responsibility very seriously. There was a time when the children of the Gods make their way to Camp Half Blood and once there, spend years training without ever knowing whom their Godly parent was. For someone like Luke, who others looked up to, he couldn’t sit idly by and do nothing. The way he chose to deal with it wasn’t right, but he doesn’t regret it.”

“He did it for you.”

Hermione’s gaze locked with Draco’s and she shrugged. “I might’ve been the catalyst, but I’m fairly certain that Luke would’ve made the same choice regardless.”

“Nico told me that Luke was in love with you.”

“Yes.”

“And you were in love with him?”

“I love Luke. I’m not sure if I was in love with him. That was something I was hoping he and I would figure out together after my quest was completed and my vow fulfilled. But he’s gone and I’m unsure it matters now.”

“Would you bring him back if you could?”

“I asked Luke if he wished to return but even he’s unsure if he would come back the same Luke. I don’t think he wants to risk it and I would never ask that of him for my own selfish purposes.”

“That doesn’t really answer my question.”

Hermione sighed heavily. “It’s the only one I have, Malfoy.”

Draco didn’t respond, as he wasn’t sure what to think. It was clear that Granger had feelings for Luke, but beyond that he supposed it really was a moot point as the demigod was in Elysium and not likely to return to the land of the living.

“It’s a bit surreal, I suppose.” He finally admitted after a bit.

“What?”

“That you can visit the Underworld and return.”

“Demigods can be reborn, but not mortals. But I can see what you mean. There was a time I wondered if I would ever have access to my Godly powers again and after a time I just accepted that I wasn’t going to survive the war and it didn’t really matter.”

The grimace on Draco’s face couldn’t be helped as he stared morosely at the witch next to him.

“You really thought that?”

Hermione nodded. “It seemed likely...very likely the year Harry, Ron and I were on the run. Everyone, especially Luke, felt that I should’ve been angrier that my powers were taken from me but I wasn’t. Not really. But it did make it hard to fit in here at school much of the time. Back at Camp Half Blood, I didn’t have to hide whom I really was. I could be open and free in a way I couldn’t be here.”

“Do you miss it there?”

Hermione shrugged. “Yes and no. I miss the camaraderie and even though there is competition between the cabins, when it comes right down to it we all fight for the same cause. On a quest, Demigods band together and take care of each other regardless of Godly affiliations. The Titan War proved that. Here at Hogwarts, and in the Wizarding World there’s still so much prejudice and hate even after fighting a war. Part of me wonders if that’s ever going to change and another part of me doesn’t want to give up hope that things can get better.”

Draco turned and faced her fully, taking her hand within his and giving it a firm squeeze. “We’ve been better this year, haven’t we? Look at tonight. All four houses gathering for a party and getting along? No one making snide comments about blood status or House affiliations?”

Hermione sighed again and nodded reluctantly. “I guess that’s true.”

“But it doesn’t change the facts does it?”

Hermione’s gaze locked with his and she shook her head. “It just makes things more confusing, but I have thought a lot about this over the summer. Trying to make sense of it.”

“And what conclusions did you come to?”

“Several actually.”

“And?”

Amber eyes held his for several moments before she released his hand and sat back amongst the cushions, her body language clearly uncomfortable. But like the Gryffindor she was, Draco had no doubt that she would tell him...and she did after a few more moments of awkward silence.

“Do you remember when we met on the train first year? Before you found out I was supposedly a Muggle-born?”

Draco swallowed and nodded. He remembered that day like it was yesterday. She had barreled her way into his compartment where he’d been sitting with Crabbe and Goyle. She’d asked to join them and he’d agreed instantly as he’d been simply mesmerized by her riotous curls that seemed to take on a life of their own. They’d discussed what classes they were excited for, the books they’d read over the summer for school and then the inevitable had happened. They’d started to discuss their upcoming sorting, and Draco had pompously announced that he’d surely be sorted into Slytherin as only ‘true witches and wizards’ got sorted there. Hermione’s face had fallen briefly, but he’d caught it. Then she timidly asked him what he’d meant by that and he’d stated that Slytherin House was for Purebloods and no respectable wizard or witch would ever be associated with a Muggleborn. Her face had paled and that’s when he’d known. He had sneered at her and then watched as she dashed out of the compartment barely holding back her tears. He’d felt a deep pang within his chest that had persisted over the years. Like the dull ache of regret. He’d covered it up with his caustic smirk and Malfoy arrogance, but deep inside...a place he didn’t visit very often...he’d remembered that look Hermione had given him that day, and how utterly devastated she’d been.

And it stayed with him. Always.

Regret and remorse were two emotions that Draco had become intimately familiar with over the past two years. It was hard to imagine that young arrogant boy who’d been on his first train ride to Hogwarts...so full of himself and his own sense of self-superiority had fallen to rock bottom and spent the past few months trying to claw himself out of the pit that he’d wallowed in. He could well imagine there was a place in Tartarus carved out just for him.

“I remember the day as if it were yesterday.” He finally admitted sadly. “And for what it’s worth...I’m so sorry for how I acted. I know I have no excuses and nothing can change what a git I was to you but I wish I could go back and redo that day differently. If for no other reason than that was the first real conversation I think I’d ever had with anyone. And if I’m completely honest? It was the last.”

Hermione’s expression radiated surprise as she gazed at him. “What do you mean?”

“It’s just the way I was raised. And when I got to Hogwarts, that understanding intensified. In Slytherin, you make political alliances and friendships aren’t what you might be used to. We don’t openly discuss feelings, because those things can be used against you. Trust isn’t instinctive and self-preservation is a way of life. Cunning and ambition? Tools we utilize to meet our objectives. Gryffindors are recklessly brave and courageous, but Slytherin’s aren’t built that way. Being open isn’t a natural way of thinking.”

Hermione nodded. “I do know that about you Draco. I’m not ignorant of how much you’ve had to keep hidden.”

“I don’t want to hide from you Granger, but you need to understand that it doesn’t come easily.”

Hermione tilted her head on the back of the sofa as she gazed up at Draco, who’s face was expressionless even if his eyes were haunted.

“My Uncle shared something with me when I was in the Underworld.”

Draco lifted an eyebrow at the sudden change of topic, but he was also grateful for it as he was starting to feel a bit exposed.

“And?”

“He told me who is behind the attacks.”

Draco’s face changed from placid to fierce instantly as his eyes heated in anger. “And?”

Hermione sighed and said softly, “Hera.”

Draco nodded, as he had wondered that himself. “She wants you dead?”

The shrug was forced, but Draco could see the pain behind Hermione’s gaze as she stared up at him and he responded to the plea there, pulling her into his side and kissing her temple in reassurance.

“You’ll be okay Granger. We will figure out how to deal with this together.”

Her nod was muffled into his shoulder as they sat there in silence, each contemplating what this all meant. Draco knew that he would do whatever it took to make sure that Hermione was protected. She had suffered enough.

Chapter Text

The rest of the evening had been very pleasant as she and Draco just spent it quietly talking about banal things mostly. Favorite authors, books, foods, places that they’d wanted to visit, plans for after graduation which neither of them had any clue about. They’d laughed a bit, cuddled for a while but true to both their natures it was like some unspoken agreement that they were going to take things slow. The tension that seemed to permeate their earlier encounters, was now more of the comfortable simmer of newness that comes when two people realize that they’re finally on the same page.

He’d walked her to the Gryffindor common room sometime after midnight, placing a gentle kiss on her temple in farewell...promising to see her in the morning at breakfast.

When she’d entered the common room, the only person waiting for her was Percy.

“Hey.” She whispered out in greeting, causing him to look up from the book he was reading about Defense.

“Hey yourself. Everything get worked out alright?”

“I think so.” She replied easily, taking a seat next to her cousin.

Percy’s deep blue eyes bored into her’s for a few moments before he asked, “And Luke?”

Hermione smiled softly. “He’s doing okay. Seems a bit more settled and surprisingly alright with his lot being in Elysium.”

Percy nodded slowly, his face clearly troubled. “I suppose that’s good then.”

Hermione noticed her cousin’s hesitation and tilted her head questioningly, causing Percy to shake his head.

“It’s just, things were really bad between Luke and I. When I discovered it was him who stole your Father’s master lightening bolt, we fought and I bested him. Later, Luke attacked Camp and poisoned Thalia’s tree. Things just went downhill from there.”

Hermione grasped Percy’s hand and gave it a squeeze. “I don’t think Luke holds any ill will towards you anymore Percy. He doesn’t exactly regret what he did. He feels there was simply no other choice to force the Gods hands in acknowledging their children.”

“You mean in forcing Zeus to acknowledge you.”

Hermione shrugged. “I don’t know, but you’re probably right. He told me he’d wait for me to come to Elysium...to him. I asked him if he’d want to return and he wasn’t exactly keen on the idea.”

“I’m surprised.” Percy admitted, as his expression did radiate genuine shock.

“Luke is unsure if coming back would change him irrevocably and his feelings for me. He doesn’t want to take that chance and I have to respect that.”

“What about Malfoy?”

Hermione laid back against the couch as she stared up at the ceiling. She could feel Percy’s eyes intently as he waited for her response.

“Draco was surprisingly, supportive—when I told him about Luke and my visit to the Underworld. But I’m afraid we have a more pressing issue than my pseudo-love life.”

“Which is?”

“Who’s behind the attacks. I’ll give you one guess.”

Percy’s face scrunched in thought for a moment before his expression cleared. “Hera.”

“Ding, ding, ding...got it in one!” Hermione bit out sarcastically. “You know, I don’t get it? Persephone adores Nico and you have your Dad...but I haven’t even met my Father and his wife wants me dead. I didn’t ask for any of this to happen. And I don’t understand...Thalia? What about her?”

“You mean did Hera ever try and off her?”

Hermione nodded. “No. Hades, actually tried because of his anger over Nico and Bianca’s Mother’s death. It’s a long story.”

“So Hera had no issue with Thalia?”

Percy chuckled. “I wouldn’t say that.” Percy’s face morphed into a wicked grin. “Thalia is very feisty and emotional. Her anger at Zeus was in large part due to the fact that her own Mother had gone off the deep end when Zeus had left them. I’m not sure of the entire story, but something bad happened that caused Thalia to leave her home when she was young. She found Luke, then Annabeth and you know the rest. When she came back, it was clear that she and Luke had some kind of bond when they were children. I think being on the run for as long as they were, they were a lot like you and Harry. I think Thalia loved Luke in her own way and had felt betrayed when she’d discovered Luke was helping Kronos. She and Luke fought in battle once, and Thalia bested him. Kicked him off a cliff into the sea. It devastated her as she thought she’d killed Luke. In the end he survived, but it was that situation that caused her to join the Hunters.”

Hermione’s face paled in shock. “Luke never talked much about Thalia.”

“I think he felt guilty that she had sacrificed herself to save him and Annabeth. Grover too. From what I’ve learned, Hades sent the worst of the monsters from the Underworld to go after Thalia and by extension, Luke and Annabeth. He wanted her dead.”

This new information was unbelievable. If true, Hades obviously had some deep seated hatred towards the children of Zeus. Was it possible that he’d been lying about Hera? Diversionary tactics were a brilliant strategy. But then why allow her to leave the Underworld? Why make the vow with her Mother in the first place?

“You’re deep in thought.”

“Yes.” Hermione couldn’t help but shiver at the thought that perhaps this wasn’t as straight forward as she’d hoped. Gripping her beaded bag, she opened it up and took out the heritage box her Mother had left her. Percy eyed it with interest as he noted, “The crest on the box matches your necklace.”

“This is called a Family Heritage Box. Every Pureblood magical family has them. They are usually handed down from Father to Son and Mother to Daughter. This was my Mum’s and she left it for me with my cousin Hector in America.”

Hermione used her wand to cut her finger, placing a drop of blood on the box. When the latch opened, she healed the wound easily with magic before opening the box.

“What are the vials?”

“Memories.”

Percy lifted one up and stared at the silvery wisp inside the unbreakable glass vial. “Interesting. And those are letters from your Mom?”

“Mmhmm.” Hermione mumbled as she reached for the small stack, leaving the vials before closing the box. “I think it’s about time I had a look through these.”

“Why haven’t you done it before now?”

She shrugged, a pensive look stealing away over her features. “I don’t know exactly. Wasn’t ready?”

“Do you want me to leave you alone?”

Hermione sighed and then nodded. “I’ll be okay by myself. I need to do this if for no other reason then I need answers. I can’t keep putting this off anymore. Besides, I’m a Gryffindor...it’s not in our nature to ignore something like this.”

“Maybe,” Percy replied, “but it’s also not easy to dredge up the past no matter how brave we think we are.”

“I know. But I’ll be okay. Promise.”

Percy nodded one final time, before he kissed her on the top of her head and left the common room...heading for the boys dormitory. Hermione watched him leave before staring down at the small bundle of letter’s in her hands. She could do this. What was the worst that could happen?

She lifted the top letter and noticed the date on the envelope. October 30,1989. With a deep breath Hermione opened the envelope and carefully took out the single piece of parchment. Her hands were shaking and she had to take several deep, calming breaths to get the butterflies in her stomach under control.

Smoothing out the letter, she turned it over where the exceptionally beautiful handwriting stared back up at her. She smiled when she saw the first word...Chérie. Her mother’s endearment for her growing up.

 

Chérie,

I am writing this final letter to you and I know it will be a while before you read this, as I’ve forseen it. There is so much I wish I could tell you but the vow I made with Hades has forbidden me from speaking too much of it. Everything I’ve done was to protect you, to ensure your future to be safe as possible. Forces are coming. Dark forces that will test you in ways you can only now understand fully as you read this. This was fated Chérie, written in the stars. I wish more than anything that I could be there with you, but that is not the path I am destined to undertake. With my death, your future is assured. No harm can come to you by virtue of the vow I’ve secured to protect you. Once your quest is complete, the vow will be lifted, but not its essence. Nor intent. I’ve made sure of this with my own sacrifice.

I’ve left several memories for you. Five in all. Four contain my most treasured memories of you growing up and the last is of your Father. I left this so you could see that you were conceived in love ma Chérie. You’ve always been mon tresor, my greatest treasure.

Tout mon amour,

ta mère

 

Hermione wiped the few tears that had fallen down her cheeks fiercely away, as she stared down at the memories her Mother left for her. One of these was of her Father, Zeus—and that shocked Hermione to her core. She didn’t know how to process that and wasn’t sure she wanted to see it. How was she supposed to feel about any of this?

Gently placing the letters back inside the box, she sealed it shut and put it back inside her bag. It was clear that there wasn’t much information to be gleaned, other than personal anecdotes and tender reminisces from the past. Perhaps in time she could unpack that Pandora’s box and grieve properly, but for now all she felt was sad and confused. Things had been much simpler when she’d just been plain Hermione Granger—Muggleborn witch. She didn’t know how long it might take her to have the strength and courage to look at a memory of a Father she’d never known, and might never meet.

And be okay with that fact.

Chapter Text

The following week passed by in a blur. Draco and Hermione spent much of their free time ensconced within the Room of Requirement just learning more about each other. They still hadn’t kissed. It was almost as if Draco was giving her a bit of time and space to grieve Luke properly and to come to terms with the fact that he wasn’t coming back. She thought it was rather sweet and thoughtful of him, all things considered.

Frankly, those were two words she’d have never put in the same sentence as Draco Malfoy even six months ago.

Merlin, even three months ago.

But he was surprisingly, a very different wizard once you started peeling back the layers of his defenses—which were considerable. He loved Potions, Alchemy and Herbology. He wasn’t a huge fan of Transfiguration and Arithmancy. He hated Divination almost as much as she did. And he loved to read, which had been something she’d known cursorily, but seeing it in action as he got lost in a book was—arousing. So often they’d just sit together, cuddled next to each other with his arm firmly around her as they found themselves lost in their own respective texts. Every so often he’d turn his head and place a gentle kiss on her temple—almost to reassure himself that she was there before he’d get engrossed in his book once again.

It was the favorite part of her day.

They also talked about his parents, although Hermione could tell it was a difficult subject for him. He loved his Mother, tolerated his Father and wasn’t looking forward to going home for the Holidays.

For her part, she told him what she remembered about her Mother, Selene. How beautiful she’d been and unfailingly kind. She shared about the letter with Draco that she’d read and his eyebrows had lifted as he eyed the heritage box in her hands. When she handed him the missive, he quietly read it and then handed it back to her without commenting. That was one thing about Draco Malfoy—he’d often ponder over something intently before giving an opinion, which was in direct opposition to the heated exchanges he’d often got into with Harry and Ron over the years. When she brought that up, he’d just smirked and said ‘not everything is what it seems.’

That had been cryptic...and frustrating.

Today was the day of the Slug Club dinner and both Harry and Ron would be coming to Hogwarts. Ron had been chuffed when he’d received the invitation as he’d not been a member of the Slug Club their sixth year. Harry had written to her and shared how Ron had crowed about it for several days after the fact. Hermione had read the letter and snickered at the mental image floating through her mind. Ginny had taken the letter, read it and then rolled her eyes at her own brother’s immaturity.

She would be attending with Harry.

Percy, Annabeth and Nico has all gotten invitations as well.

After breakfast that morning she met with Draco in the library as was their routine to go over their Potions project. They had finally received word for Damocles Belby earlier that week that he had not considered Wiggenweld Potion as part of his initial research and therefore encouraged both of them to consider it when attempting to make the potion more efficacious.

The potioneer had also been effusive in his praise over the idea of harvesting aconite on Beltane during the full moon and promised to follow up on that when the time came.

So that was the plan for this morning. To set up a rigorous brewing trials schedule and to go over the best ways to add Wiggenweld to the brewing instructions.

“Are you sure we shouldn’t brew them both simultaneously?” Hermione asked looking over their timetables for brewing.

“Yes I’m sure.” Draco countered easily. “Wiggenweld doesn’t start losing its potency until 30 day’s after creation. That gives us easily a 14 day window to utilize our existing stock before we would even need to think about rebrewing more. Severus had a rather potent recipe for Wiggenweld in his journals. If we utilize that we should be fine.”

Hermione nodded as she fingered over the steps on the parchment they’d been writing upon.

“What about the dittany?”

“You’re thinking too far ahead Granger.” Draco’s grey eyes lifted and locked with her’s as he smirked casually. “But I understand where you’re brilliant mind is headed and I agree. Once this is perfected, which it will be...then come Beltane of 2003 when we pick the aconite for the new trials...we will have to find a way to increase the levels of dittany in that potion. Or else the transformative process will be unbearable for the user.”

Hermione nodded absently, her mind drifting to Remus, who definitely could’ve benefitted from this. If she and Draco were successful, there would be so many who’s lives would change for the better because of this.

“You’re thinking too hard Granger. I can smell the fire from here.”

Her eyes lifted in shock and she shrugged. “I just want this to work. I can’t help but wonder how Remus’ life might’ve been improved if he’d had a chance at something like this.”

Draco’s face fell as he remembered their former Defense teacher. It was one of the great regrets he’d harbored amongst the many in his life.

“They had a son? Right?”

“They did. His name is Teddy.”

Draco nodded as he looked back down at his parchment. He had known in general terms that his cousin Nymphadora had married Remus Lupin and they’d had a son. Bellatrix had made it her mission to go on about how much she wanted to kill the Half Blood offspring of her younger sister and the abomination she’d given birth to. He’d never met his Aunt Andromeda, his Mother never spoke of her. He’d known that she’d been blasted off the Black family tree for daring to run off and marry a Muggle-born wizard.

His eyes lifted to Hermione’s and he could see the questions reflected there. Questions he wasn’t sure he knew how to answer properly.

“I’m sure whenever you’re ready, that if you wanted—“

She left the rest of that sentence unfinished as she could see Draco was clearly struggling.

He didn’t speak for a while, as they silently finished their timetables and as they were packing everything away, he spoke up...

“I’m not sure she’d want to meet me, Hermione.” He finished on a sigh.

“You don’t know that Draco. Andromeda is not Bellatrix. She’s a good witch and a wonderful grandmother to Teddy.”

Draco nodded. “Who are Teddy’s godparents?”

Hermione reached for his arm and stopped him as she gazed up into his eyes, needing to see his expression as she shared this piece of news with him.

“Harry is his Godfather.”

Draco blanched at that, and Hermione sighed. He didn’t say anything though and after a moment he nodded to himself again, as if that made sense.

“It’s good that Teddy will have someone looking out for him.”

Hermione smiled softly at him, and he inwardly breathed a sigh of relief. He’d said the right thing, even if he’d felt like he wanted to curse something or someone for the fact that Scarhead was Godfather to his cousin. It wasn’t rational at all as he’d never met the boy, but it didn’t change the sentiment.

His life was destined to be intertwined with Potter whether he liked it or not.

He definitely didn’t.

Fuck!

Together they walked out of the library and headed towards the Great Hall, where lunch had already begun. As they made their way inside to head to their respective tables, Hermione stopped abruptly and whispered, “Are you going to Professor Slughorn’s party tonight?”

Draco shook his head. “Wasn’t invited.”

Hermione’s eyebrow lifted at that. “Would you like to go with me?”

Draco smirked at the blush that stole over her cheeks as he considered the request, before shaking his head.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea love. It might ruin the night for your friends and you haven’t seen either of them since before school started. But thank you for the invitation. Maybe some other time?”

Hermione sighed and nodded before turning away and heading over to the Gryffindor table—blatantly ignoring the curious stares being sent her way. She understood Draco’s reluctance but it didn’t change the fact that her friends were going to have to get used to seeing her and Draco together at some point if this ‘thing’—whatever it was—ended up working out between them.

When Draco sat down next to Nico, the demigod gave him a measured look but didn’t acknowledge him otherwise as he went back to his conversation with Theo.

“You alright mate?” Blaise asked quietly. “Granger seemed a bit down.”

Draco’s gaze was icy as he stared down his friend, who put both of his hands up in mock self defense. Theo glanced over as did Nico, who cocked an eyebrow at how ridiculous Blaise looked.

“Everything is just peachy.” Draco drawled out, and Theo just grinned at Nico who also looked amused.

“Obviously.” Nico deadpanned, causing Theo and Blaise to roar with laughter and even Draco cracked a half smile.

“You lot are a bunch of tossers.”

“Come on mate, something’s up?” Theo quipped back, “what happened? You two argue?”

“No we didn’t argue Theo.” Draco shook his head, realizing his nosy friends weren’t going to let the matter drop. “Hermione asked me to go to the Slug Club dinner tonight but I didn’t think it would be a good idea.”

“Why not?” Nico asked, genuinely confused.

“I don’t exactly get on with Potter and Weasley.” Draco admitted. “And I don’t want to put Granger in an awkward position, especially since she hasn’t seen either of them since before school started.”

“That’s kinda nice of you Draco, but it isn’t really up to Harry or Ron to prevent Mi from spending time with whomever she wants to. Is it?”

“You obviously haven’t seen Potter or Weasley at their worst.” Theo offered warily causing Nico tilt his head questioningly. When Theo didn’t respond, Nico looked over at Draco and Blaise who both appeared reluctant to say anything.

“What am I missing here?”

It was Blaise that finally answered the question.

“Potter can be hotheaded but it’s nothing compared to how Weasley behaves when he doesn’t like something. There were many times over the years that the three of them had tiffs. A few times they froze Hermione out.”

“Really?” Nico asked in surprise, having a hard time believing that.

“Yeah,” Theo nodded in agreement. “Third year Potter got a Firebolt broomstick sent anonymously and Hermione was concerned about who might’ve sent it. Both Potter and Weasley were rather unkind to her for a while after and refused to talk to her because she’d gone to McGonagall with her concerns and the broom got confiscated for a time. Fourth year, when Viktor Krum asked Hermione to the Yule Ball, Weasley made her cry that night. Sixth year rumors were thick on the ground that Hermione sent a flock of canaries after the prat. If either of them knew for certain that Hermione was spending the amount of time she has been with Draco this year? She’d have received several howlers by now.”

Nico’s expression darkened a bit, and the air started to get colder at their end of the table.

“Do you think they’d actually go off on Mi if she were to go to this thing tonight with Draco?”

All three boys nodded and Nico scoffed in disgust.

“I think Potter wouldn’t like it, but he’d get over it relatively quickly. The Weasel wouldn’t though.” Draco added as an aside. “I just think it’s easier this way.”

“Mi didn’t seem to be happy with your chivalry.”

“No. But I think she knows deep down it’s for the best. At least right now.”

Nico glanced over to the Gryffindor table where Mi was talking with Percy and Ginny.

“Maybe you should come with me.” Nico offered. “As a kind of compromise?”

“Do you really think that’s wise, Nico?” Draco asked lowly.

“Probably not but if you’re serious about my cousin, maybe it’s better to rip the bandaid off now?
Don’t you think?”

“What’s a bandaid?” Theo asked.

Both Blaise and Draco shrugged in confusion, while Nico grinned. “It’s a piece of rubbery material you place over a wound to keep it from getting infected.”

“Oh, like a plaster?”

“Is that what they call it here?”

All three nodded and Nico just chuckled. He would probably need to get used to British slang at some point. They definitely had some interesting names and words for different things.

“Well, think about it Draco,” Nico said with a small nod, “if you want to go, the offer is there.”

“Thanks mate. I’ll think about it.

Chapter Text

Hermione decided to take great care in her appearance this evening, or rather Annabeth and Ginny decided for her. Both of her friends were currently going through her wardrobe with great alacrity, trying to pick out the best outfit for her.

Not that she had a lot of choices. The war had pretty much seen to that.

“How is it you have so few dresses, Mi?”

“On the run for a year Wise One. Wearing couture whilst fighting Dark Wizards isn’t the height of practicality.”

“Touché.” Annabeth grinned and then sighed as she eyed another choice with disdain.

“We need to take you shopping over the holidays. Are you going to stay here or come back to Camp for Christmas?”

“I haven’t given it a lot of thought.” Hermione admitted with a casual shrug. “Harry will probably go to the Weasley’s for the holiday and in the past that’s where I went to.”

Ginny was looking through her shoes with the same abject horror that Annabeth was reserving for her dresses.

“These shoes are ghastly!” Ginny held up a pair of black low pumps and Annabeth nodded in agreement. “And yes, Harry will be coming home with me this year. You’re all welcome to join us. I’m sure Mum will be overjoyed to have more to feed this year with Fred gone.”

Hermione came over and enveloped Ginny into a hug. “How’s George?”

“Not good. According to Mum he doesn’t get out much. He goes to work and comes home. Lee is helping him but it’s like he’s lost the joy in his heart.”

Hermione nodded sadly, knowing how much George and Fred were two halves of the same whole. She couldn’t imagine what it was like for him to lose such an integral piece of his heart and soul.

“I wish I could do something, but I’ve already broken into the Underworld once—I don’t think my Uncle would be too forgiving if I tried it again.”

“Definitely not.” Annabeth agreed. “What about this dress? It’s nice and a very pretty color.”

Hermione eyed the red dress she’d worn to Bill and Fleur’s wedding. It was a pretty dress and a very good color for her. Ginny smiled fondly at the dress.

“That’s the same dress you wore to the wedding?”

Hermione nodded. “It is. I think the shoes are in that box to your left.”

Ginny reached for the box and opened it, seeing a three inch pair of red pumps with a peep toe that matched the dress perfectly.

“This is perfect. This is what you should wear for tonight.”

Hermione sighed as she laid the dress on her bed and picked at the appliqué on the skirt. The scooped collar showed a hint of her décolletage and the dress was sleeveless. Thankfully her mudblood scar was gone as well as her scar on her neck. She smiled wistfully at the pretty frock, remembering that night so long ago. It was the start of the war, a time when she’d harbored fleeting feelings for Ron, had just obliviated the Grangers and had felt as if she’d never see her friends at Camp again.

It was the beginning of the end.

It hadn’t ended exactly as she’d imagined, as here she was with her two best girlfriends preparing for an evening out. Her heart was a bit more settled. She’d said her goodbye’s to Luke, her crush on Ron a far distant memory of the past and then there was Draco Malfoy.

And forbidden feelings that she’d never even considered giving credence to, much less actively pursue were now hitting her with the force of a bludger.

Life was so strange sometimes.

“I think this will be fine.” Hermione admitted with a soft smile.

“You’ll look beautiful Mi.” Annabeth agreed and the three girls set to work dolling themselves up for their night out.

When they made their way into the Gryffindor common room a bit later, Percy was standing there in a pair of dark grey slacks and a v-necked cashmere jumper in the exact shade as his eyes. He had on a white dress shirt underneath with a grey jacquard tie. His shoes were polished, black and he looked like a model out of a GQ magazine.

Hermione’s face brightened when she saw Harry and Ron next to him. All three chatting with Seamus and Dean. When they finally noticed the girls, all of the boys stood up. Percy made his way to Annabeth who was wearing a silver fitted dress and a pair of stiletto heels in various shades of iced green, grey and pink. Ginny had on a dark green halter dress with a golden laced shawl and matching shoes.

Harry’s eyes widened in appreciation as he grinned at his witch and came over immediately, giving her a heated kiss in welcome—while pointedly ignoring Ron’s ‘Oi, that’s my sister you’re snogging!’

Everyone chuckled as Ron’s face turned an unflattering shade of red. He walked over to Hermione and smiled sheepishly.

“You look very pretty Mione.”

“Thanks Ronald. Always the tone of surprise.”

“Not really. You always look good.”

A voice cleared from behind them and she turned to see Percy giving her a wicked grin. She rolled her eyes and shook her head at her cousin who just chuckled. Ron offered his arm, and seeing no reason to refuse—Hermione took the offered chivalry following everyone out of the common room and down to the second floor where Professor Slughorn’s offices were located.

As they walked together, they kept up a steady stream of chit chat—mostly about Ron’s and Harry’s time in the Auror Department. Both boys enjoying what they’ve learned so far.

“We are heading out on our first assignment next month.” Ron’s voice was excited. “Harry will be partnering with Dawlish and I’m being partnered with Diggle.”

“That’s great Ron,” Hermione offered with a wan smile, “just stay out of trouble.”

“Trouble finds us Hermione.” Harry said as he looked over his shoulder with a playful grin. “But if it makes you feel better I’ll take one of those charmed galleons with me at all times.”

Hermione smiled and nodded, happy for the compromise. “I think that’s an excellent idea. I can even charm one to activate as an emergency portkey.”

“Of course you can.” Ron mumbled and everyone laughed. They had walked into the room at that point and all eyes had turned to the three couples, and that was when Hermione’s heart stopped beating. For there, standing next to Nico looking good enough to eat was Draco in a charcoal grey set of formal robes and a dark red tie—that was almost the exact shade of her dress.

Annabeth caught her eye and grinned while Ginny winked at her. Her gaze fell back onto Draco’s, who’s own expression was completely closed off except for his eyes—that were heated as he openly stared at her and then his gaze fell to where her arm was linked with Ron’s and he sneered.

She subtly shook her head at him, her own gaze pleading and she immediately noticed his expression soften imperceptibly, but it was there.

Then Ron ruined the moment.

“Who invited him?”

Nico walked over and took his cousin from Ron’s embrace, his dark eyes like pieces of carbonite as he said icily, “I did.”

Hermione squeezed Ron’s arm in warning. “Behave Ronald. Now is not the time for you to go off half cocked and embarrass everyone. Nico and Draco are friends.”

“Draco!” Ron’s face reddened angrily. “Since when do you call the ferret—Draco?”

Hermione sighed and shook her head, her gaze landed on Harry’s with a panicked look. Harry came over and clapped Ron on the shoulder.

“Listen mate, we’re guests tonight so let it go—alright?”

Ron just stared at Harry incredulously. “You too? Are we all going to forget the ferret watched Mione here being tortured by his insane Aunt?”

Hermione’s head bowed and she felt Percy coming to stand next to her while Nico squeezed her arm in comfort.

Thankfully it was Nico who spoke up.

“Listen Ron. I can appreciate your anger on Mi’s behalf but we have all discussed it and apologies have been made. Mi has forgiven Draco and he’s actually been rather helpful this year keeping Mi safe.”

Harry’s gaze hardened as he looked over at his best friend, then his girlfriend. “And why would Hermione need to be kept safe?”

“Oh Merlin!” Hermione whispered in defeat. She hadn’t thought this was going to happen or she might’ve forewarned her best friend.

“Uhm, there’s been a couple little incidents this year. Nothing major, and it was all handled easily enough.”

Draco scoffed and everyone turned to give him their undivided attention—but he just shook his head angrily at Hermione.

“That’s the biggest load of rubbish I’ve ever heard, Granger. Want to maybe try that one again?”

Her glare met his smirk, while Harry just folded his arms over his chest—patiently waiting for someone to fill him in on the particulars.

“Is this about Dolohov?”

Hermione nodded. “Yes and no. We think we might know how he escaped.”

“And how was that?”

Hermione’s expression was pinched, the pain clearly hard to hide as she sighed and said, “Hera.”

Harry choked and Ron gasped. Everyone in the room quieted as their conversation was now the focal point of the moment.

“Hera? As in Zeus’ wife? Queen of the Gods of Olympus? That Hera?” Harry bit out angrily, his green eyes flashing with fire. “And I’m just hearing about this now because?”

Draco chuckled and again the attention was back on him. “Potter, I’ve always been amazed how you can turn everything around and make it about you. As if it’s escaped your notice? Your best friend is the daughter of the most powerful God and can pretty much take care of herself—if I’m not mistaken. But she also has both her cousins here—who aren’t slouches in the protection department either and from what I’ve been able to witness first hand, Chase here is rather formidable too. Even your Gryffindor mates—Thomas and Finnegan have been surprisingly helpful. As much as we all know you like to think you’re Granger’s protector, I think you might’ve got that a bit turned around, eh?”

Draco’s smirk was challenging and Harry just glared at him while Ron scoffed. Percy grinned and Nico nodded his head in approval. Hermione’s expression was both equally amused and embarrassed.

“Since when have you become Mione’s cheering section?” Ron bit out sarcastically.

Draco’s smirk widened and his grey eyes stared into her’s in an unspoken challenge. He was clearly daring her— and never one to back down from anything, Hermione sauntered directly over towards Malfoy, her knickers drenching at the blistering look he was sending her way until she stopped directly in front of him. She lifted a mocking eyebrow and he grinned before wrapping a possessive arm around her waist, pulling her flush against his side and placing a gentle kiss on her temple in greeting.

He felt her sigh happily into his embrace and couldn’t help feeling inordinately pleased in that moment—as he closed his eyes for a split second, and inhaled her sweet perfume.

When he lifted his gaze to the rest of the room, he almost laughed out loud at the clearly shocked and disgusted look on Weasley’s ruddy face. Potter didn’t seem as surprised as he’d thought he’d be—definitely something he’d need to unpack later. Nico was grinning, Percy was too. Both Annabeth and Ginny were smiling widely, but Annabeth nodded her approval at him and he bowed his head back at her in silent commiseration.

At least he had Chase’s blessing.

“Harry!” Ron bellowed angrily and the Boy who Lived just sighed in defeat. He had known this might happen and while not thrilled, he wouldn’t stand in the way of a Hermione’s happiness.

“Let it go, mate.”

“You knew?”

Harry shrugged as his gaze locked with Malfoy’s and he smirked. “I had my suspicions.” Draco’s eyes widened as his grip around Hermione’s waist tightened for a split second. “But know this Malfoy, if you hurt her again I will kill you myself. And that’s a promise.”

Hermione gasped indignantly as she met Harry’s gaze, but there was no hesitation nor compromise to be found within his green orbs. He lifted an eyebrow and Hermione sighed...realizing Harry would, and could follow through on that threat. Draco wisely, didn’t speak but nodded once, clearly understanding an olive branch for what it was. He wouldn’t give Potter empty platitudes, as the wizard wouldn’t believe anything he’d say anyways. Weasley, on the other hand, didn’t seem appeased.

Not at all.

“Are you all mad?”

“Ronald!” Hermione’s eyes lit up in warning and Draco shivered as he felt the aura of her power manifest itself. He cleared his throat a bit awkwardly and his witch immediately settled down, looking up at him apologetically.

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay love.”

Ron threw his hands up over his head and turned around in disgust. “Where’s the firewhiskey? I need to get drunk. Like right now!”

Everyone laughed and Hermione shook her head at her best friend’s theatrics, but he seemed to have let it go. At least for the moment.

When the group moved away from the newly minted couple, Draco waited until their focus was elsewhere before he leant down and whispered deeply into her ear...

“You look fantastic, by the way.”

Her gaze lifted shyly and she bit her lip hard, trying not to moan out at her very visceral reaction to Draco’s sexy drawl.

“Thank you.” She finally managed to whisper out. “You look very handsome too. I like your tie.” Her hand smoothed down his chest and she felt his muscles ripple under her touch. He was as affected by her proximity as she was by his. “How did you know?”

Draco grinned evilly. “Ah witch, a Slytherin never reveals his sources.”

“I’m sure I could get you to tell me.” She challenged back playfully.

“Not a chance.”

“Bet on it?”

Draco chuckled, but didn’t respond right away. It wasn’t until some time later he’d asked with a predatory gleam in his eye, “What do I get if I win?”

“What do you want, snake?”

“Now that, my dear Granger—is a very loaded question indeed.”

Chapter Text

The majority of the party had gone by relatively smoothly, or as can be when Ron kept sending heated stares both her and Draco’s way most of the evening. Harry had been cool, but polite while many of the guests—once they got over the shock of seeing her and Draco together—seemed to give them a wide berth.

Nico hung around with them for the most part, although he did talk with Harry and Ginny for a bit. Professor Slughorn moved from couple to couple, heaping praise and introducing various members of the Ministry who had deigned to attend his little soirée. A few of Draco’s old Slytherin Housemates were in attendance, namely Adrian Pucey and his girlfriend Amy Frome who graduated the same year he did. There was also Miles Bletchley and Olivia Shardlow, who both played Quidditch professionally and were seeing each other romantically. Both came over to greet both she and Draco, which had been brief and a bit awkward.

There didn’t seem to be much love lost between Draco and some of his former housemates.

“I thought you and Pucey were friendly?”

Draco just shrugged as he pulled her against his side a bit firmer and took a long pull of his firewhiskey simultaneously. “We are acquaintances, nothing more. Most of my former housemates, excluding those within my own year, tend to avoid me. I was the only one marked, so they all like to pretend to look down upon me as if they all didn’t support the Dark Lord.”

“Even though they did?”

“In word more than deed perhaps. Some probably still do tend to be a bit on the prejudiced side, as it’s easier to hold onto those hateful ideas when you weren’t exactly in the thick of it.”

“Or had old snake face living in you house?”

Draco snorted as he grinned down at her, his eyes warm and heated. “Old snake face?”

“Mmhmm,” Hermione took her lower lip in between her teeth to prevent the smile that was threatening to make an appearance from taking over her expression, “would you have preferred I called him ‘Old no nose’ or how about ‘baldy?’

Draco threw back his head and laughed, gaining the attention of everyone in the room. Hermione turned her head into his chest and blushed furiously, knowing that they were currently the center of attention.

“Baldy?” Draco sputtered on a guffaw. “That’s the best you can come up with is, ‘baldy?”

“Malfoy!” She hissed under her breath but he just continued to chuckle, his expression more open than anyone in the room had ever seen it.

“Oh, come on Granger! That was kinda funny and unexpected. I thought you Gryffindor’s were supposed to be staunchly fair minded and accepting?”

“Not of two legged reptiles, I don’t.” She mumbled causing Draco’s chest to rumble in continued laughter.

“Please stop.” Her head lifted and their gazes locked—his grey eyes were sparkling with mischief and she just looked bloody embarrassed—her cheeks were flushed and her hair was sparking with magic. She looked adorable and he just wanted to kiss her.

So he did.

Leaning down, he saw his witch’s eyes widen in shock just seconds before his lips touched hers. It was a brief, sweet peck...nothing inappropriate but you’d thought he’d snogged her within an inch of her life if the blistering stares coming their way were anything to go by. He’d even heard the Weasel groan in disgust, which cause the infamous Malfoy smirk to bloom while Hermione just looked fetching with her eyes gazing up at him in shock.

“You two should find somewhere private to do that.” Harry groused out unhappily, causing Ginny to elbow him roughly. His ensuing grunt had Draco nodding at the red-headed witch in appreciation.

“Stop it Harry.” Ginny warned, her tone leaving no leeway as to what she might do if her boyfriend started acting like a possessive prick.

“Fine.”

Harry’s gaze met that of his best friend and he could see how hard she was trying to not act disappointed, or afraid. He just shook his head and sighed.

“It’s fine Mione. I just want you to be happy. If this one,” Harry lifted his chin at Malfoy in acknowledgment, “treats you the way you deserve to be treated, you’ll have no issues with me.”

“How did that taste coming out of your mouth, Potter?”

“Malfoy!”

“Like polyjuice combined with goblin piss.”

“Had a lot of experience with that Potter?”

Ginny snickered while Hermione smacked Draco on the chest. His resounding ‘Hey Witch!’ caused a few snickers within the room.

“You both need to behave.”

“This is us behaving love. We haven’t drawn our wands, nor hexed each other. I’m still standing and Potter still has his nose in one piece. It’s a good day.”

Harry rubbed his nose, while Draco mockingly placed his hand on his chest and relished in the grimace of the other wizard.

“You both are right menaces, you do know that—right?”

“Mione, Malfoy and I just understand each other is all. He understands that I’ll curse him if he hurts you.”

“And Potter knows I’ll break his nose again if he hurts you too.”

Hermione turned to Ginny, who just shrugged—clearly at a loss.

“It’s probably the best you can hope for Hermione.” The red-head offered eventually, and everyone in the room just nodded in agreement as they were obviously listening in on their conversation.

“I think I’m going to head back to Gryffindor Tower.” Hermione said at last. “Enjoy your night Harry. It was good to see you.”

Harry enveloped her into a quick hug and then Ron came over and did the same before disappearing again. Draco offered to walk her back, so they left together after saying their goodbyes.

As they reached the seventh floor corridor, Draco dragged Hermione to the Room of Requirement. Once they were finally alone, he pulled her into him and gazed down into her eyes, silently asking permission. Which she gave after a split second, with a single nod.

And then his lips were on hers.

And there was no more talking after that.

Not for a while.

Eventually they moved to the couch near the hearth, in their own personal replica of the Slytherin Common Room that Draco favored. He pulled her down onto his lap and continued to snog her, feeling himself trying desperately to keep control over his own ruddy hormones that were screaming at him to just take the witch and be damned with the consequences.

Hermione was having her own epiphany at that very moment too. Kissing Draco Malfoy hadn’t been what she’d imagined at all.

It was even better.

How was that possible? That a boy who’d tormented her and teased her mercilessly, could make her insides combust with a simple kiss. He hadn’t tried to deepen it yet, and she was following his lead. It was obvious Draco had some serious skill when it came to kissing. He was very, very good at it.

Her knickers were completely ruined.

He eventually pulled away with an unhappy groan.

“Merlin, Granger!” He whispered into her neck as his lips gently sucked on her pulse point and then with more force, causing her to involuntarily arch into him. “I knew it would be like this.”

His hand had found its way into her hair, clenched and firm while he continued to nip and suck at the underside of her jaw before his lips found her’s again. When they touched, she moaned and it seemed as if that was the signal he’d been waiting for, as he instantly deepened the kiss.

Then it was a battle for lips, tongue, teeth and skin.

Her hands were weaving through his baby fine blonde hair that was softer than the finest silk. When she scraped her nails on the back of his neck, he shivered violently and redoubled his efforts to snog her out of her bloody mind.

Then her hands found his tie and she untied the knot, hastily opening a few buttons and allowing her hands greater access to his neck and shoulders. She could feel her magic, her powers thrumming from the tips of her hands before moving through her whole entire body.

The room started to fill with ozone and the next thing she knew, Draco pulled away on a loud gasp.

When he stared down at Hermione—her eyes were white and they both could see the electric sparks on her fingertips.

She moved back in sudden shocked horror, an apology already forming but Draco just grabbed her hands, and held them tightly within his own.

“It’s alright Granger. Shhh...” he soothed the whimper that fell from her lips with a gentle peck. “It doesn’t hurt at all. It feels...” he shivered uncontrollably again.

They both took a deep breaths as they desperately tried to get themselves back under control. “I didn’t hurt you?”

His pleased smirk wasn’t entirely unexpected, but she had to say he looked completely mussed— with his swollen lips and his hair in utter disarray.

He looked even more gorgeous than normal, if such a thing was possible.

“No, you didn’t hurt me. Not at all. It’s just hard to stay in control when I feel you reacting that way. It’s very heady stuff.”

She grinned. “Heady?”

His answering smile was adorable but his gaze was a bit wild as he nodded. “Yes. I could show you but I’m not sure you’re ready for that yet.”

Hermione blushed at the insinuation, her eyes dropping for a second only to lock onto the bulge in his trousers.

Holy Godric! He really was a snake!

She burst into rich laughter and his eyebrow quirked at her in amusement, almost as if he knew what she’d been thinking.

“I think you’re laughing at me?”

She shook her head emphatically, desperately trying to stop the completely inappropriate thoughts from running through her mind. He had a monster trouser snake in his pants!

Breathing deeply a few times, she finally calmed down and it seemed as if Draco finally did too.

Pity.

“So witch, you have to admit now that I was right.”

“In what way?”

“I told you before we’d be explosive. Did you doubt it?”

She felt her lips widen into a genuine smile. No, she hadn’t doubted it, per say. More like, she’d been petrified of it and what it all meant. Now it just seemed like it was always supposed to be like this.

“Not really.”

Draco sighed, waving his wand and checking the time. “I should get you back to Gryffindor Tower before your friends wonder what I’ve done with you.”

“Oh, I think it’ll be fairly easy to tell exactly what we just got up to in here.”

Draco lifted his finger and ran it along her neck, to the spot where he’d left his mark. “Probably.”

Hermione’s hand flew on top of his. “Did you mark me?”

“If I say yes, are you going to electrocute me?”

“I probably should. You look way too self satisfied. I never liked that look much even when we were younger.”

“And now?”

“Still don’t care for it.”

“Liar.” Draco grinned. “It’s alright Granger. You can mark me anytime if you wish.”

Her laughter choked out at how serious Draco looked. He clearly wasn’t joking.

“I’ll keep it in mind.”

He leant forward and kissed her one last time before pulling them both up and rearranging their clothes.

“Please do.”

They left the Room of Requirement and took their time making their way down the hall towards the portrait of the Fat Lady. Once there, Draco lifted her hand and placed a heated kiss on her knuckles in departure.

“Sweet dreams Granger.”

“You too Malfoy.”

She watched him saunter away, her gaze fixated on his backside but before he moved around the corner to head down the staircase towards the dungeons, he turned his head and ‘winked’ and then he was gone.

Pushing back on the wall next to the portrait, Hermione’s hand was on her chest as she tried desperately to catch her breath.

Who’d have thought that Draco Malfoy would completely rock her world?

Chapter Text

The remaining month of November was spent with Draco and Hermione working on their Potions project in their free time. They’d made real progress on their brewing schedule and had whittled down their potential brewing tables to only a handful of possibilities for success. Professor Slughorn had been closely monitoring them in his lab and had subtly made a few suggestions here and there that had proven quite helpful. Hermione figured at this rate, they might actually have a finished product by early spring.

Their romantic relationship was still moving along slowly however. After their heated snog in the Room of Requirement, Hermione had been understandably cautious in not allowing herself to get too out of control. She didn’t want to accidentally hurt Draco and despite his repeated assurances that he was perfectly fine, Hermione decided it was better to err on the side of caution.

With Christmas coming up she and Draco hadn’t discussed plans at all. Percy and Annabeth were returning back to the States to see Percy’s mum and step-dad and visit Camp Half-Blood to check in with Clarisse. Nico had casually mentioned that he might stay in England, but not the particulars of why although he did seem to be spending a bit of time with Theo outside of classes. Hermione had to wonder if Nico was setting himself up for heartbreak. Theo was the last of his House and as such, would likely be expected to sire and Heir at some point. Whatever his feelings were towards Nico, Hermione had to wonder if it was just the excitement of Nico’s heritage and not Nico himself that Theo was interested in.

She had wondered if it would be a good idea to talk to Draco about it, but then dismissed the idea. Nothing had happened yet, between her cousin and Nott, so until that changed—she’d stay out of it.

Harry had written and asked if she was going to be at the Burrow for Christmas, and Hermione had replied...telling her best friend that she didn’t know what she was going to do for Christmas yet. She wasn’t sure she wanted to spend the holidays with Ron’s family—not after Ron’s reaction to her relationship with Draco. She was sure Molly would have an opinion as well. Luckily, she had yet to receive any howlers from the Weasley Matriarch.

There had been no snow yet on the Hogwarts grounds, and it was early December. Tonight was a full moon, so Hermione decided to go check on Zee to see how he and the other dragons were faring. She had spent at least twice a week out in the Forbidden Forest attending to Zee and the other dragons. Most had come to accept her presence, even Voegar...who was still wary but no longer as rude as he’d been initially.

Grabbing her warm coat and gloves, scarf and beanie—Hermione put a few things into her beaded bag and headed down towards Hagrid’s hut. Her friend wanted to have tea, and then she would go see Zee afterwards.

As Hagrid’s hut came into view, she could see the half-giant as he attended to the area around his hut. When he saw her, Hagrid lifted up his large and and waved in welcome.

“Mione! Just in time!”

“Hi Hagrid.” Hermione moved over and gave her friend a hug. “How have you been?”

“Good, good!” He beamed happily as they both made their way into his hut where a warm fire was already filling the open space with warmth. Hermione sat down in her usual spot and watched as Hagrid poured them both a cuppa each and then set out his rock cakes for them both. Hermione reached into her beaded bag and pulled out a tin of sweets that Winky had made and placed them onto the table too.

“What are you doing over the holidays?”

“Well, I’m goin’ to spend a bit of time with Maxine and then Grawp and I are gonna do some foraging around in the Forest.”

Hermione smiled and took a sip of her hot tea, trying not to wince at the temperature. She then grabbed a chocolate biscuit from the tin and nibbles on it for a moment.

“That sounds nice.” She said finally and Hagrid nodded, before his expression got serious.

“What ‘bout you?”

“I haven’t decided.” Hermione said softly, tucking an errant curl behind her ear. “Percy and Annabeth are heading across the pond but I think Nico might be staying here. I will probably go wherever Nico chooses to go, unless something more important presents itself.”

Hagrid nodded thoughtfully, taking a sip of his own tea as he considered her.

“You’ve been seeing the Malfoy lad?”

She sighed and nodded. “I have been and before you say what I know you want to Hagrid, Draco has changed. Quite a bit actually. I think the war changed everyone.”

“Hmm,” he responded, “do you really think people like Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy are capable of change?”

Hermione shrugged, not sure how to answer that at all. She didn’t know much about Narcissa Malfoy, other than she loved her son enough to lie to Voldemort to save him and stopped the betrothal between Draco and Astoria Greengrass. Lucius Malfoy was another issue altogether and one she was having a hard time reconciling. The wizard had been an arrogant and hateful bigot who had put a cursed diary into her friend’s cauldron, who had peripherally caused Sirius’ death and who had watched her being tortured in his own home. The first and the second offenses were harder to get over than the last one oddly enough. It was clear that Lucius Malfoy had been a prisoner within his own home and hadn’t even had a wand to protect himself with. The loss of his status probably rankled him more than the fines he had been required to pay the Ministry even though it had barely dented the Malfoy wealth. All the Pureblood offenders had been ordered to offer restitution; some more than others...but still...it had to be a blow to many of them who valued blood status and wealth above all else.

She lifted her gaze and noticed Hagrid staring at her with a furrowed brow and she sighed.

“I don’t know Hagrid.” She answered finally. “I don’t think a man like Lucius Malfoy is capable of real change. Narcissa? She loves her son and wants him to be happy. If it hadn’t been for her lie, we wouldn’t be here right now.”

Hagrid nodded in agreement, but didn’t comment. She knew his feelings on the Malfoy family and she couldn’t blame him.

“Draco on the other hand? He was a teenager and as much as I’ve tried to ask myself what I would’ve done in his shoes, the thing is I’ve done worse.”

Hagrid shook his head at her and scoffed. “Not you, Mione? Yur nothin’ like that.”

Hermione just smiled at the half-giant fondly. He had such a tender heart for those he cared about.

“Well, I wouldn’t say that exactly. I did trap Rita Skeeter in a Mason Jar for a summer and blackmailed her. I led Delores Umbridge out to the centaurs and even I don’t know what the fallout from that had been. I cursed Marietta Edgecombe with a scar that won’t ever go away for betraying Harry. I obliviated my guardians and sent them to Australia knowing that the likelihood of being able to return those memories wasn’t good. I’ve done some things that I’m not proud of but I don’t regret for the greater good. Was I needlessly cruel? I guess it depends on whom you ask. I did what needed to be done, so Harry could survive and defeat Voldemort and I’d do it again if necessary. So what I’m saying is, I’m not sure I have a pot to piss in when it comes to judging someone for their choices.”

Hagrid’s expression dropped and he lowered his head thoughtfully as she could tell he was really considering her words. After a few moments he took another sip of his tea before he responded.

“If you can forgive the lad, I suppose I can try to be more welcomin’ to ‘me for you.”

Hermione reached over and grabbed Hagrid’s large hand and patted it in gratitude. “Thank you, Hagrid. That means the world to me.”

The remaining conversation centered around classes and dragons. Hagrid had ventured out into the forest to check on Zee and the others, who tolerated his presence even if they weren’t overly friendly to the half-giant.

Checking the time, Hermione excused herself, promising to return soon before heading outside and down towards the tree line. She listened for a few moments at the sounds of the forest before moving down on the path and into the trees. After a while she came to the clearing where Zee had dropped her off when she’d flown on him before and noticed the area was empty.

She was about to send a silent message to Zee when she heard a sound coming from the left. Her instincts kicked in and she ducked just in time as a series of spells flew in her direction.

Rolling on the ground, she took cover behind a crop of trees as another spell crackled against the bark and splintered above her head causing a large branch to fall. She cast a shield charm and moved quickly as the object nearly crushed her before it fell off to the side, her shield holding just in time. Looking up from her crouched position, Hermione saw a dark cloak and a Death Eater Mask, and then there was another, and another. Three Death Eaters were converging on her, and she kept her shield charm in place as she sent out several spells in succession, hearing a few grunts and then someone yelling as there was a cloud of black smoke moving towards her.

Her eyes lit up and she called down the heavens, sending lightening at the smoke and heard a crash and a grunt of pain as whomever it was barreled into a nearby tree.

The spells from the other two Death Eaters kept coming and then there was another sound breaking through the brush, and a yell from someone she didn’t recognize as female voices were heard converging on the wizard’s. She peeled around the outcropping and saw several young girls her age slinging arrows towards the wizard’s, bringing down one. The second wizard struck one of the girl’s and she crumpled on the ground, unmoving.

Hermione saw red, as she realized just who they were and why they were there. She called on her powers and send a blast of lightening from her wand, shattering the shield of the final wizard and blasting him back into the tree behind him. The force of the blow bent his body in two, as the wizard collapsed in a heap at the base of the tree.

Her focus being where it was, Hermione didn’t notice the first wizard moving up behind her—nor saw his wand pointed at her until someone yelled and then there was a hail of fire! The wizard screamed as Zee came out of the underbrush and roared, instantly burning the wizard. The man’s screams were horrific and Hermione blasted him with water as he fell, burnt onto the ground.

She moved over quickly and then sent her patronus to the castle, informing Percy what had happened before waving her wand, silently casting an Incarcerous, binding the Death Eaters not removing their masks. She then quickly went over to the Hunter, who was lying lifeless on the ground, her sister’s surrounding her while one of the Hunters was kneeling trying to help the girl.

Hermione moved over and knelt down across from the Hunter, who when she met the girls accusing gaze, Hermione’s expression froze in recognition. It was her sister—Thalia.

“I can help her.” Hermione said firmly, not wishing to fight with her sister. A sister she’d never met and didn’t know much about. She waited until Thalia nodded, and then Hermione cast a series of spells, before pulling out her beaded bag and the pouch that Apollo had given her. She popped a cork on one of the Potions bottles that looked enough like a healing potion, and poured it down the young girl’s mouth, gently massaging her throat until she was sure it had been consumed.

She then cast several healing charms, and the sat back and waited until the girl opened her eyes—which she did after a few moments. She gazed up at Hermione and then over at Thalia, and then smiled at her fellow Huntress.

“How are you, Pyx?”

“I’m sore.” The young girl said as she moved her body tenderly and nodded. “But I think I’m okay.”

“We can take you back to the castle to have our Medical Witch, Madam Pomfrey look you over if you wish?”

“That won’t be necessary.” Thalia said firmly, her blue eyes staring at Hermione with distrust.

“Of course.” Hermione nodded and stood up, going over to the Death Eater lying burnt on the ground. She removed the mask and sighed—it was Corban Yaxley. Somehow the wizard had gotten out of Azkaban too, and Hermione shook her head in disgust as she cast a series of charms to detect any signs of life. The wizard was dead.

She moved to the second wizard who’s broken body was bent at an awkward angle and removed his mask just as Percy arrived with Annabeth, Nico and Draco.

Hermione waved her wand and removed the mask, her eyes widened when she saw the face from her nightmares. Antonin Dolohov. She’d killed him.

Shaking her head again, she went to the last wizard who was moaning on the ground, bound under her spell and an arrow stuck in his leg. She pointed her wand to remove the mask before Draco came over and placed a hand on her arm. She gazed up at him and he sighed, shaking his head angrily. It was clear he knew who this wizard was.

Hermione’s eyes widened and her eyes filled with reluctant tears as she stared at the mask in horror, realizing with perfect clarity why Draco had stopped her.

He bent down and cast a series of spells himself, before sighing and shaking his head in disgust.

“I can’t believe you would do something like this after everything.” He hissed and Hermione saw the other wizard flinch at the dark rebuke. “Does she know you’re here?”

The wizard’s head fell, but he didn’t say anything. Hermione glanced over at her cousins, who’s own faces registered shock at first, then anger.

“Does she KNOW?” Draco raged and everyone flinched, including the Hunters who were all watching in confusion.

The Death Eater still didn’t speak, so Draco waved his wand and there staring up at him was the face of his Father.

Looking stricken and frankly, terrified.

Draco was breathing heavily, with his wand pointed directly at his Father—his whole aura radiating the anger he was feeling in that moment. His own Father had tried to kill his witch!

“It’s not what you think, Draco.”

“It’s NOT what I THINK? Did you just not try and kill my witch?”

Lucius flinched again, but his gaze never left that of his son. There was suddenly another rustling sound, and then several more Hunters broke through the clearing. One, who looked no older than twelve and had a circlet on her head, moved forward. Hermione bowed instantly, while her cousins and Annabeth did the same. Draco just stared at them confused as did his Father until a black haired girl hissed, ”Kneel before the Goddess, male!”

Draco instantly complied, realizing whom this was and Lucius bowed his head humbly—clearly shocked by the new development.

Artemis’ sharp gaze took in the scene in front of her before she moved to her Lieutenant, who bowed in greeting.

“My Lady. All the offenders except that one,” Thalia pointed at Lucius, “Have been dealt with.”

“I can see that Thalia.” Artemis sneered disdainfully at the two blonde men before her eyes settled on her youngest Hunter. “You’ve been injured Pyx?”

“Yes, My Lady. But the one there,” she pointed to Hermione, “healed me.”

Artemis’ gaze landed on the elder demigod daughter of their father and smiled. “Hermione. It has been some time.”

Hermione’s gaze lifted and she smiled in return. “It is good to see you again, My Lady. I wish it was under better circumstances.”

“As do I.” Artemis nodded before moving over towards Lucius, her bow lifting the man’s head to face her directly. “You have tried to kill my sister, male. Perhaps I should have allowed the dragon to burn you as well?”

Lucius hissed in on a breath while Draco’s expression froze in shock. He went to speak but Hermione shook her head at him vehemently, warning him to not to.

“My Lady?” This came from Annabeth and Artemis turned to her, her gaze flicking over Percy and Nico without acknowledging them before she nodded at Annabeth. “Just before you came, the man in question said something along the lines that this wasn’t what we thought. I am curious as to what he could have possibly meant by such a statement.”

Draco’s gaze locked onto Annabeth and he nodded once in gratitude, but wisely didn’t say anything.

“Is this true Hermione?”

“Yes, My Lady.”

Artemis turned her attention back to the elder Malfoy and hissed, “Speak succinctly, or I will cut out your tongue.”

Lucius paled as he took a heaving breath before he said, “My home during the war was compromised. I’d thought the wards had been reset but the two men there, broke through the wards along with two others. They took my wife and told me if I didn’t come with them, they’d kill her.”

Draco’s knees nearly buckled as he whispered out, “Who?” Earning a hiss from the black-haired Hunter and a caustic look from the Goddess.

“Answer the question.” Artemis growled out and Lucius replied, “Rodolphus and Rabastan.”

Draco groaned as he put his head into his hands, his whole body shaking while Hermione just shook her head in horror.

“You know these men, Hermione?”

“Yes, My Lady. They wife of the one called Rodolphus tortured me during our magical war. I nearly died and it left me scarred with Dark Magic. He is the brother-in-law of the Witch in question—Narcissa Malfoy. I was tortured in their home. They were all in prison, or so I’d thought.” Her gaze then landed on her cousin and she smiled warmly. “Percy healed me, My Lady.”

Thalia’s face was thunderous as she moved over and gripped Lucius by the throat. “I should kill you!”

“Thalia, that will be enough!” Artemis’ voice was firm, but not unkind as Thalia dropped Lucius on the ground with a resounding thud, and he gripped his leg that was bleeding from the arrow still lodged there.

The Goddess moved over and tilted her head down at the blonde wizard. “Where is your wife?”

“She is being held at Lestrange Manor.”

Hermione’s face paled as she shook her head in confusion. “I thought the Ministry took their vaults and properties?”

“The main Manor is under a Fidelius. It can’t be located by anyone who’s not a family member.”

Artemis grinned. “Foolish Mortals, that may hold true for you, male...but not for me nor my Hunters.” She glanced back over at Hermione. “Do we help Hermione?”

The little witch looked over at Draco, his grey eyes pleading desperately with her and she sighed, before nodding to the Goddess. “I would ask that you do My Lady, and if you’re willing? I would be happy to go with you and the Hunters.”

Draco’s breath caught, and his eyes widened in surprise. Even Lucius Malfoy seemed shocked.

“And what of this one?” Artemis growled out in disgust, her bow poking into the blonde wizard in obvious disdain.

“He should be left to the Aurors, My Lady. If what he says is true, there are obviously extenuating circumstances. He also needs to be healed before he bleeds to death.”

“And you would forgive this male, who tried to kill you?”

Hermione chuckled and shrugged, completely non-plussed. “I’m still alive, My Lady.” Hermione’s eyes caught her sister Thalia’s, who’s own lips curled up into an almost smile. “And if what he’s saying is true, I can’t abide being responsible for the death of another—no matter how well deserved it might be.”

Artemis gazed at her half-sister with something like amused disdain, but she eventually sighed in resignation. “Contact whomever you may wish and have this male taken away. We will go on the Hunt.” She then walked over to Hermione and cupped her cheek almost tenderly. “You continue to surprise me sister. I’m unsure if this is a good thing or not but perhaps it might be wise for you to remain here and deal with that.” Artemis waved her hand dismissively at the elder Malfoy before her eyes burned into the man again. “Be warned male, should you seek to harm my sister again, I will Hunt you down and allow my Hunters to make fine sport of you.”

Lucius gulped but nodded slowly in agreement, realizing he was getting off fairly easily if the hateful glare the Goddess was sending his way was any indication. Before she left, Artemis smiled at Annabeth and then placed a gentle hand on her second-in-command’s arm.

“We will give you a few moments.”

Thalia nodded and watched her sister disappear back into the forest before her icy blue gaze landed on Annabeth and she smiled warmly—going over and hugging the other demigod with affection.

“It’s good to see you Wise One.”

“You too.”

Thalia then glanced over at Percy and smirked. “Seaweed Brain.”

“Pinecone face.”

Nico chuckled while Hermione just shook her head at her cousin. “Percy, really?”

Thalia then glanced back towards her and she walked over with a stern expression before she stopped directly in front of her.

“So you’re Hermione?”

“And you’re Thalia?”

The black haired girl suddenly grinned. “You’re different than I’d thought you’d be.”

“And is that a good thing?”

Thalia chuckled before her gaze hardened, settling on the blonde male staring at them—or more like staring at her sister the way Percy does at Annabeth.

“Luke, he told me a bit about you.”

Hermione nodded and sighed sadly. “I know. For what it’s worth, he’s very sorry.”

Thalia’s eyes widened for a split second and then she glanced over at Nico, who’s own expression was amused. “I see.” Was all she said. “I should go. I’ll let you know when the witch is safe.”

“Thank you. And thank you for coming to my rescue.”

“What’s family for?”

With a single nod, the Hunter moved back stealthily into the forest and left her sister staring after her. Thalia definitely was an enigma. Sighing, she turned around and walked over to Lucius Malfoy, waving Annabeth over to help.

Hermione crouched down next to her friend and with a smirk, she gazed up at Draco’s father and said, “This is going to hurt.”

Lucius chuckled and nodded. “I did notice you didn’t apologize in advance.”

“No, I didn’t.”

At that exact second, Annabeth broke the arrow on both sides and gripped it in one motion, pulling it out. The yell of pain was only partially satisfying as Hermione waved her wand, sealing the wound. She then reached into her bag and handed Draco’s father a blood replenishing potion she always kept on hand for emergencies. Constant vigilance.

Lucius took the offering and swallowed it with a grimace. Hermione then sent out her patronus to Harry and stood up, helping her friend before she was pulled into Draco’s embrace with a firm tug.

“Thank you.” He said with a kiss to her temple.

Amber eyes then locked with grey and she smiled in reassurance. “You’re very welcome.”

Chapter Text

After healing Lucius Malfoy, it was decided that Nico would shadow travel with the wizard to the infirmary at Hogwarts where they would await Harry’s arrival. Hermione then walked with Draco to Hogwarts while Percy and Annabeth stayed in the forest to wait for the Aurors to come dispose of Dolohov’s and Yaxley’s bodies.

As they walked together, Draco moved his arm around her waist and when they’d cleared the forest and made their way past Hagrid’s hut into the castle, he pushed Hermione into an alcove and took her lips into a forceful kiss. The shock at the suddenness of his actions had her stiffening for a brief second, and then her hands found purchase in his hair and she was pushing herself wantonly into his embrace—returning the kiss with abandon.

Time passed slowly before Draco finally pulled away, keeping her head enveloped within his hands as he stared down into warm amber eyes that he could barely make out in the darkened space.

“What were you thinking going out into the forest alone?”

Hermione bristled instinctively at the harsh tone, but seeing the worry in Draco’s grey eyes she couldn’t help but relax a bit.

“I’m sorry. Things have been so quiet lately and I suppose I got a bit complacent, but to be fair I didn’t know that nearly all the Death Eaters had escaped from Azkaban nor your Father’s involvement—however involuntary it might’ve been.”

“You could have killed him.” Draco’s voice was a mixture of anger and fear and Hermione just leant forward and kissed him again in apology.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be Granger!” His voice was shaking—in fact his whole body seemed to be twitching with repressed adrenaline.

“Draco, he’s your Father! Regardless of my own feelings towards the man, I wouldn’t have wanted to be responsible for his death. You have to know that.”

“I do.” He whispered out pained, as he tilted his forehead down on hers and breathed her in as if his life depended upon it. “Do you think the Hunters will be able to rescue my mum?”

“My sister is the Goddess of the Hunt. I don’t think the Lestrange’s realize just what’s in store for them.”

Draco nodded as he gazed over her shoulder and bit his lip. “Do you think Hera?”

Hermione sighed and returned the gesture. “Probably.”

“I don’t understand. What is her problem? She’s not going after your sister Thalia?”

“Because Thalia is a Hunter and is protected by Artemis. I have no such protections—not really, so maybe she’s trying to prove a point? Who knows? All I do know is your Mother is in danger and your Father is going to have some serious explaining to do.”

“As much as I don’t want to see him go back to Azkaban, sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be easier.”

Hermione ran a gentle hand through Draco’s hair as she shook her head at him.

“You don’t believe that Draco. You’re angry, I get that—but Lucius is still your dad. Bad decisions and all.”

Draco’s expression shifted from angry to uncertain as he said, “Does this change how you feel about me—about us?”

“No, it doesn’t. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but I can’t blame Lucius for wanting to protect his wife. I just don’t understand why the Lestrange’s got him involved in the first place?”

Draco chuckled at Hermione’s naïveté. “Really? Because it makes perfect sense to me.”

“In what way?”

Draco pulled her out of the alcove, holding her hand firmly within his own as they walked towards the infirmary together. “If this is Hera, what better way to isolate you than to utilize a family member of the person you’re now romantically involved with?”

Draco watched Hermione’s expression cloud over, as she considered what he was saying, and then her face registered an emotion he wasn’t expecting—sadness.

“Hey,” he whispered as he pulled her tightly into his side, “it’s going to be alright. We will figure this out and somehow, magic willing, we will put a stop to it.”

“And if we can’t?” She said quietly, her voice almost resigned. “What if this never ends? I don’t want you to get hurt and I don’t want to be responsible for hurting anyone you care about either.”

Draco shook his head in earnest, knowing exactly where this conversation was headed. “No! You’re not going to walk away from this. Toss off the Gryffindor nobility, Granger. I’m not letting you walk away.”

“Malfoy?”

He leant down and kissed her silent, and when he felt her body capitulate into his, he pulled away slightly with a triumphant smirk.

“Let’s get this over with and when it’s done and my mum is safely back where she belongs, you and I are going to discuss a few things.”

“Such as?”

“You’ll just have to wait and see, witch.”

“Fine, prat. It’s not like a have a choice.”

“You always have the choice, my spirited witch.” Draco responded blithely, as he guided her back towards their original destination. “Just try and keep an open mind.”

“I can do that. I’ve been trying to do that.”

Draco gave her a sidelong glance, but nodded in agreement. “I know Granger. It’s more than I deserve, frankly.”

Hermione didn’t comment on that as she wasn’t sure anything she could come up with wouldn’t make the situation worse. When they got to the infirmary, McGonagall was there with Madam Pomfrey—who was fussing over Lucius Malfoy with a stern expression on her face. Draco nodded at his Father when he entered, but held back with his arm wrapped firmly around Hermione’s waist. Luckily for him, his witch didn’t seem to want to be parted from him either as they waited for Harry to arrive.

The Headmistress noticed them finally and made her way over with an unhappy scowl on her face.

“Do I want to know what happened here, Miss Granger?”

“Probably not, Professor. But once Harry and the Aurors arrive, I’m sure they’ll have many questions.”

“And here I was looking forward to a quiet year.”

“You and me both, Professor.”

It didn’t take long for Harry to get word, and as luck would have it Ron was with him as was their respective Auror partners. When Harry came into the infirmary, he headed straight for Hermione, while Ron just glared at the elder Malfoy in blatant dislike.

“What happened Mione?”

“Hello to you too, Harry.”

Harry’s face fell into a sheepish grimace as he took off his glasses to clean them on his Auror robes.

“Hello Mione, it’s good to see you. Now, could you please tell me what in Merlin’s name happened here?”

“Are you going to remain calm?”

“I’m an Auror now. I can be professional.”

“Good to know Potter.”

“Shut it, Malfoy.”

So, Hermione explained to Harry everything she knew about what had transpired earlier, and Harry’s expression morphed from shocked to outraged in a matter of minutes. He then leveled a harsh gaze at Lucius Malfoy, who just stared back at him impassively.

“How did you get a wand, Mr. Malfoy? From what I was led to understand at your sentencing, your wand privileges were revoked for three years?”

Lucius cleared his throat, ignoring his son’s indignant stare as he spoke.

“Ah, yes. While that is true, the Malfoy family does have some family wands that have been passed down. However, the wand in question if you look at it closely, and Draco can verify this—is my wife’s wand. When she was taken, her wand was given to me.”

Draco hissed in anger and Hermione immediately wrapped her arm around his waist to try and calm him, earning a smirk from the elder Malfoy.

“And Dolohov? Yaxley?”

“Both dead.” Hermione sighed. “Dolohov, I killed in the ensuing skirmish and Yaxley was burnt by Zee.”

“The Hungarian Horntail?”

“Yes,” Hermione nodded, “he was protecting me.”

The two older Aurors were stunned while Ron just sat back, leaning against the wall with his arms folded—his body language radiating judgement and anger. But thankfully, he was keeping his mouth shut and allowing Harry to take point.

Harry nodded at Dawlish and then turned to Ron. “Why don’t Diggle and you head down to where the bodies are and take them back to the Ministry?”

Ron sighed, but didn’t object as he stormed out of the infirmary, followed by his Auror partner.

Hermione watched her best friend leave, with a heavy feeling in her heart. Ron was clearly not happy with her relationship with Draco. Not that she blamed him, but she had hoped he would’ve gotten over his anger by now.

Not that she really expected him to.

Harry then started to interrogate Lucius, and Draco had to give it to Scar-head. He was professional, tough and to the point. His Father answered the questions easily enough, his grey eyes never straying too far from the Auror. When Potter was finished, he walked back over to where he was standing with Hermione still firmly attached to his side. He almost smirked at the irritation on the other wizard’s face.

Almost.

“So, the Hunters are retrieving Narcissa Malfoy as we speak?”

“I believe so,” Hermione’s voice was subdued, “Fidelius charms apparently don’t work against the Gods.”

Harry just shook his head in wonder. “I’m not sure I’m ever going to get used to that.”

Hermione smiled with affection at her best friend’s bemused expression. “I don’t imagine you will. Although we’ve had a few visitors this year.”

“Really?” Harry’s eyes lit up with interest and Draco snorted at the eager expression on his nemesis’ face. The caustic glare he got for his troubles just made him smirk even wider.

“Yes, and both of you stop it!” Hermione hissed lowly, earning a sheepish nod from Harry and an eye roll from Malfoy. “I mean it Malfoy. Please don’t antagonize each other.”

Draco sighed, but finally nodded in acquiescence, watching with satisfaction as Potter’s eyes widened in shock at his show of deference.

“Back to your question, Harry. Yes, there have been a few visits. Apollo showed up a while back, when Dolohov attacked me the first time. He healed me, thankfully. Percy’s Father came to see him and Aphrodite was here not too long ago as well.”

Harry just stood there stunned, and when Hermione’s gaze locked briefly with Lucius Malfoy—he too, seemed rather shocked by her admission.

“Don’t forget to tell Potter about your little jaunt to the Underworld, Granger.”

Hermione smacked Draco on his chest, but the blonde just chuckled at her blush while Harry just shook his head in wonder at his best friend.

“Do I want to know why you went to the Underworld? And why didn’t Ginny tell me?”

“Probably because she knew you’d come rushing in with your hero complex Potter.”

“You’re getting on my last nerve, Malfoy.” Harry grit out harshly, gripping onto his wand tightly.

“I’m leaving.” Hermione disentangled herself from Draco’s side, giving both wizards a look of exasperation. “If you two want to duel it out, you’ll have to do so when I’m not around. But don’t expect me to listen when you both come whining to me about who did what to whom.”

And with a flounce of her hair, Hermione walked out of the infirmary leaving two gobsmacked wizards and another one chuckling from his hospital bed.

Draco turned and eyed his Father with a sneer. “You have something you’d like to add, Father?”

“No need to be rude, Draco. But you both might want to remember that Miss Granger is quite a capable witch, and your petty bickering isn’t going to endear you to her anytime now, nor in the future.”

“You don’t know Hermione, Mr. Malfoy. So don’t make assumptions.” Harry snarked out bitterly at the older wizard, who just seemed more amused than anything.

“I know the witch well enough Mr. Potter. You view her as a sister, and after everything you’ve suffered together—you think you have some right to, perhaps not tell her what to do, but to protect her from those you feel might hurt her in some way. Am I correct?”

Harry scowled, but didn’t refute the assertion as he stared out the infirmary window. Lucius then turned to his son, and his expression softened slightly.

“Draco, why must you seek to antagonize the boy? While your history is less than stellar, you know that Miss Granger holds Mr. Potter in the highest esteem. If you wish to have a place by her side, then somehow you’re going to have to let go of the pettiness and jealousy that has defined your dynamic with Mr. Potter for the past seven years.”

Draco’s face pinked noticeably, but he just stared morosely at his Father, who’s own countenance was subdued.

“I know I haven’t been the best Father, Draco. Magic knows there has been many times I’ve wished better for you. I didn’t want you to be forced into the Dark Lord’s service. My own choices have brought this upon you, but you do have a real chance at something better. Your Mother informed me of this recently, and I suppose I needed to see it for myself to understand where your own feelings lied. I feel like I’ve let you and your Mother down.”

Harry just stared at the two wizards, his own expression mirroring Malfoy’s shock and discomfort at having to bear witness to Lucius Malfoy having a moment.

“Are we finished here?” Draco bit out, as he ran a shaking hand through his hair.

Lucius sighed reluctantly, but nodded in the affirmative and with one last glare at the Boy who was a Right Pain in the Arse, Draco stormed out of the infirmary. He needed to find his witch.

When he was gone, Harry turned to the elder Malfoy and considered him for several moments. To the wizard’s credit, he didn’t flinch under the increased scrutiny and it was a while before Harry spoke, but when he did—his voice held an edge to it Lucius was sure he’d never heard before.

“I don’t know what your game is Mr. Malfoy. I don’t like you and I don’t trust you or your son. You encouraged your son to torment my best friend for six years. You watched as she was tortured in your home. And now I’m supposed to be alright with the idea that Draco sodding Malfoy suddenly finds my best friend acceptable, when he wouldn’t have spit on her a year ago. You’ll have to excuse me if I find this whole thing utterly ridiculous.”

Lucius just stared into icy green eyes, that held nothing but contempt and disdain and he sighed inwardly. His own actions had brought shame to his House and there was nothing he could say nor do that would convince anyone he wasn’t the hateful bigoted wizard he’d grown up to be.

Encouraged his own son to be.

“I don’t expect your understanding Mr. Potter. But everything I’ve done has been in the service of protecting my family. I’m not going to offer platitudes or make empty promises that I’m a changed or reformed wizard. My family will always be my first priority. However, I do know my own Son, and it is clear that his heart is settled on Miss Granger. If I’m entirely honest with myself, the signs were there prior to now—I just refused to acknowledge it due to Miss Granger’s background at the time. I may want differently for my Son, but ultimately if this is his choice, I will support it.”

“You just tried to kill that choice!” Harry bit back angrily and saw the elder Malfoy deflate in defeat.

“And yet she survived. A testament to her powers and resilience. I fully expected to be killed along with Dolohov and Yaxley. My only regrets would’ve been the loss of my wife and leaving my son alone. If somehow she is miraculously returned to me unharmed and safe, Miss Granger will have secured my loyalty, such as it is.”

“And if you end up back in Azkaban?”

“As long as my Wife and Son are safe, Mr. Potter—what happens to myself is inconsequential.”

“And I’m just supposed to believe that?”

“It’s the truth, whether you choose to believe it or not.”

Harry gave the elder wizard one last look of utter loathing before he nodded to Dawlish, explaining he was going to check and see how things were going with Ron and Diggle. He was afraid if he stayed in the infirmary any longer he just might end Lucius Malfoy once and for all.

Chapter Text

A day had passed before word had come back that the Hunters had returned. Kingsley had floo’d to Hogwarts the previous evening and had spoken with Minerva, Harry and Hermione in depth about what had happened, and then went to Azkaban himself to check and see if any of the other remaining Death Eaters were missing. Fortunately, other than the Lestrange’s and the now dead Dolohov and Yaxley, all the other Death Eaters were present and accounted for.

Word hadn’t gotten out to the Prophet nor any of the other publications about the break out, nor the attacks at Hogwarts and Kingsley was grateful for that stroke of good fortune. The Wizarding World was just getting back to a sense of normalcy and there was nothing like a mass breakout from Azkaban to cause mass panic.

One Dark Lord returning was enough for a lifetime.

Hermione was sitting in the infirmary with Harry, Ronald and Ginny while Draco was chatting lowly with his Father when a noise was heard from outside and then Annabeth came rushing in. She, Percy and Nico had made it their mission to roam the forested borders and keep an eye out for any threats while they all waited for word from Artemis.

“Mi, you’re needed in the Forest. Artemis has returned.”

Hermione stood up, followed by her friend’s and Draco but Annabeth shook her head in the negative.

“I’m sorry, but none of you can come. Lady Artemis holds no love for men and she will not be amenable to any of you being there.”

“My mum?” Draco choked out and Annabeth shrugged.

“Don’t know, but we need to go Mi.”

Hermione turned to Draco and gave him a reassuring smile before she chased after her best friend, the two headed down quickly to the edge of the forest near Hagrid’s hut where Percy and Nico were waiting.

“They’re inside, just near the small meadow.”

Hermione nodded before she rushed in, followed closely by Annabeth. When they got to the clearing—Hermione gasped at the two bound wizards who were desperately struggling against their bonds, but that wasn’t what caught her attention. Lying on the forest floor, was her sister. Pale and barely breathing.

“What happened!?” She rushed over, kneeling at Thalia’s side as Lady Artemis was desperately trying to keep her Hunter alive.

“The shorter male hit her with an unknown curse. I’ve used all my powers of healing, but I can’t seem to keep it from spreading.”

Hermione silently asked for permission and Artemis nodded once, and then stood up moving near Annabeth as they watched Hermione wave her wand, her voice cracking as she didn’t recognize the curse.

“Thalia?” She whispered brokenly and her sister’s blue eyes locked onto hers, the pain clearly overwhelming the demigod.

“Hermione.” Thalia murmured, gasping in agony as she clutched her side.

“I can try and heal you?”

Thalia’s gaze met the Goddess and Artemis sighed, but nodded once giving her permission. She moved Annabeth away as Hermione’s eyes lit up with lightening and ozone filled the air. In a flash of raw power, the glade was filled with a burst of lightening and then there was nothing but silence.

Hermione’s breath caught as she waved her wand again, but it didn’t seem as if it had been enough. The Magic, whatever it was, was still spreading—although Thalia’s skin had a bit more color to it. As her eyes flashed for a second time, Thalia gripped her hand and shook her head.

“You can’t keep expending that kind of energy, Hermione.”

“But I need to heal you!”

Thalia gasped and shook her head. “You can’t. You will kill us both before I’m healed.”

Hermione’s desperate gaze met that of the Goddess, who knelt back down by her Lieutenant’s head.

“I am sorry, My Lady.”

“You have nothing to apologize for, Thalia. You saved Pyx’s life. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

Hermione felt tears come to her eyes as she looked over at the rest of the Hunters, who were now circled around she and the Goddess. Her gaze caught on the saddened one of Narcissa Malfoy, who despite looking a bit worse for wear, seemed relatively unharmed.

“My Lady, you can’t heal her?”

Artemis shook her head. “There are some things even a God can’t get involved in Hermione. If this is the will of the fates, I am bound not to interfere.”

Thalia gasped again in pain, and then Annabeth’s breath hitched behind her.

Hermione looked over her shoulder and saw Annabeth move down beside her, reaching for the chain that was around her neck. Hermione’s eyes widened as she pulled it out and saw her locket with the family crest and hanging next to it was the Phoenix tears that Draco had given her for her birthday. Pulling off the vial, she reached into her beaded bag and then got out the small pouch that Apollo had given her. Uncorking one of the healing droughts, Hermione poured the Phoenix tears into the bottle and gentle swirled it, then lifted up her sister’s head.

“Drink this.”

“What is it?”

“Just drink it Thalia.” Annabeth griped out bossily, causing Thalia to grimace at her friend’s tone but she did as Annabeth demanded.

Once the liquid was consumed, Hermione sat back and for a few moments and everyone waited to see if the potion had worked.

After two minutes, Thalia’s breathing eased and the color started to return in earnest to her cheeks. After five minutes she was sitting up and smiling widely in relief. Her icy blue eyes met the amber one’s of her sister, and Thalia was surprised to see so much emotion there.

Perhaps it would be a good thing, to have an older sister.

Artemis helped her second-in-command to her feet, with a proud nod to her other sister.

“You’ve done well, Hermione.”

Hermione blushed, but bowed her head and reached for Annabeth’s hand in solidarity.

“Annabeth should be given the credit, My Lady.”

Annabeth nudged shoulder’s with her, but her smile was grateful as the Goddess nodded in her direction.

“I am proud of both of you. Perhaps now that Thalia is healed, we might decide what to do with those things.”

Artemis gestured towards the Lestrange brothers, who were still gagged and bound—but their glares of anger promised retribution.

Hermione sighed, knowing that this wasn’t her decision to make. The wizard’s had nearly killed her sister, a Hunter of Artemis, her second-in-command. It would be up to the Goddess to determine their fates.

One look at Annabeth told Hermione her best friend was thinking the same thing.

“Whatever you decide, My Lady. The Hunt was yours and the spoils of the hunt are yours to do with as you will.”

Artemis’ gaze was considering, as she glanced dismissively to the wizards and then back to her sister, who’s own countenance was resolved and resigned.

“And you would be accepting of whatever my decision would be, Hermione?”

“I would, My Lady. I am not a Hunter, but I understand the intention of the Hunt. I know what it meant when I asked you to intercede on the behalf of Narcissa Malfoy. Therefore the decision is not mine to make.”

Artemis smiled as she walked over to her sister and cupped her cheek in appreciation. “You keep surprising me, Sister. Very well.”

Artemis waved her Hunters back and they made a semi-circle behind the Goddess, while the two wizards were left in the center of the clearing to await their fate.

The Goddess closed her eyes and then there were heavy sounds within the forest, and out of the underbrush came several dragons—Zee foremost amongst them. There were five in all, and Hermione walked over to her friend, who lowered his snout to her and trilled in happiness at seeing his human again.

“You are well?”

“I’m fine Zee. Are you sure?”

“I am bonded to you now. It is my duty to protect you. I am sure.”

Hermione nodded as she stared at the other dragons. She noticed Voegar amongst the group, his large green body crouched down as he snorted out smoke. Hermione moved back over to the Goddess who gave one last look of utter loathing to the Lestrange’s and then waved her hand. In the next instant the clearing was filled with screams as the two wizards were burned to ash.

Hermione stood there stoically as she watched the scene unfold before her, and then she felt another hand being placed within her opposite hand and glanced over to see her sister Thalia, give her a nod as they watched the execution together.

It wasn’t the Wizarding way, but it was the way of the Gods.

Hermione wasn’t sure who she identified with more in that moment.

But all she knew was her sister was alive and Draco’s Mother was safe, and she didn’t feel the guilt she thought she would at watching the scene before her.

Perhaps she was more like her Father than she ever realized.

When the flames died down, there was nothing left of the Lestrange’s except a pile of ash. Hermione turned towards her sister fully and then felt her breath hitch as Thalia enveloped her into a hug.

“Thank you, Sis.”

Hermione choked on a sob as she gripped her sister to her tightly. “You’re welcome, Sis.”

They pulled back simultaneously and turned to the Goddess, who was smiling proudly at them.

“I am happy you two have found each other.” Artemis then moved over to the blonde witch with purpose, and Hermione saw Narcissa’s body stiffen.

“Narcissa Malfoy.”

The elder witch bowed humbly. “My Lady. Thank you for saving me.”

Artemis’ eyes flowed with power as she seemed to be considering what to say for a few moments. But after a time, she spoke—her voice filled with what could only be described as a cold warning.

“You watched my own flesh and blood be tortured by your own. It would be within my rights to take recompense for your inaction.”

Narcissa’s eyes widened, and Hermione could see the flash of fear in the older woman’s eyes. It was ironic that Voldemort hadn’t cowed the regal witch, but Artemis could.

“I can only convey my deepest apologies, My Lady. I did what I did to protect my Son.”

The sneer on the Goddess’ face was to be expected. She held no love for man.

“I do not understand this rationale. Your male child is of no concern to me.” Hermione saw Narcissa stiffen even more, and deciding to take pity on Draco’s mother, she moved forward.

“My Lady. If it wasn’t for Mrs. Malfoy and her lie, Voldemort might have won and my powers never would’ve returned. I can’t condemn her for her desire to save her Son.”

Artemis huffed in exasperation as Thalia smiled at the Goddess, who clearly didn’t know what to do with their sister.

“You are too compassionate, Hermione.”

“I’m sure the correct response would be to say I’m sorry, My Lady?”

The Goddess lifted an eyebrow archly as she stared down the young demigod, then she sighed in resignation. “Very well. I will leave it to you, Sister. We will return to the Hunt.”

“Thank you, My Lady. May your Hunt be filled with success and glory.”

Artemis smiled softly again and then came over and placed a gentle kiss on her sister’s forehead. “May you find the peace you are looking for.”

The Goddess nodded one last time to Annabeth before moving out with her Hunters—except Thalia, who stood there staring at her sister.

“Thank you.”

Hermione walked over and gave her sister another quick hug goodbye. “Don’t be a stranger.” She whispered into Thalia’s ear. Thalia just pulled back and winked before bounding back towards the forest. As she reached the edge of the glade, she turned around and said, “Take care of each other, you two.”

“We will.” Annabeth waved in parting, as they both watched Thalia disappear from sight.

When she was gone, Hermione headed back towards Narcissa and said, “I think your Son would very much like to know that you’re alright.”

Narcissa nodded. “Thank you Miss Granger, for what you did. I didn’t deserve your kindness, nor help.”

Hermione sighed as walked past the witch and said lowly, “I didn’t do it for you.”

Chapter Text

When they came out of the forest, Nico and Percy were waiting for them. Hermione waved Nico over and introduced him to Narcissa.

“My cousin will shadow travel with you to the infirmary so you won’t have to walk through the castle.”

Narcissa smirked at the young witch’s cunning. “That would be preferred.”

Nico gallantly offered his arm, which was taken by the elder witch before they melted within the shadows and out of sight.

“You okay?” Percy wandered over and took Annabeth’s hand.

“We’re fine, Seaweed Brain. The Goddess enacted her own judgement on the wizard’s.”

Percy nodded in understanding as he eyed his cousin, who didn’t seem too troubled.

“So all the wizards who broke out of Azkaban are dead.”

“Yes.” Hermione nodded as they all walked together back to the castle. “Thalia was mortally wounded by a curse, but luckily Annabeth here remembered about the gift that Draco had given me. I was able to heal her, thankfully.”

Percy sighed in relief. “That’s good. I can’t imagine the Goddess being very forgiving under those circumstances.”

“No, she wasn’t.” Annabeth interrupted with a look that told Percy to drop it for now.

Once they got inside, Percy and Annabeth headed to the Great Hall as dinner had started while Hermione walked to the infirmary. When she got there—Harry, Ron and Ginny were outside talking with the Headmistress.

“Hermione!” Harry moved over with purpose. “What happened?”

“Can we discuss this later, Harry? All I will say for now is the Lestrange’s are dead. I’ll give you a full report tomorrow?”

Harry sighed, but one look from his girlfriend had him reluctantly agreeing.

“Fine. We should probably head down to dinner. The Minister wants us to stay here until he figures out what to do about Lucius Malfoy.”

“You are welcome to stay in Gryffindor Tower, Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley. Please remember that you are both guests within the school and behave accordingly.”

“Of course Professor.” Harry and Ron replied together as they were dismissed by their old Head of House.

“Geez,” Ron groused, “You’d think we were some kinda trouble makers.”

Ginny snickered, while Harry and Hermione laughed. “We were, you idiot.” Harry snarked out at his best mate. “Come on Ron, let’s go get something to eat.”

Ron nodded then turned to Hermione. “You coming too?”

“In a bit. You both go with Ginny.”

Ron scowled, but didn’t say anything as Harry and Ginny each grabbed an arm and led him down the corridor and out of sight. Hermione then moved back towards the entrance to the infirmary and felt herself hesitate. She didn’t want to intrude on family time, but she didn’t want Draco to think that she didn’t care enough to make sure he was alright. Deciding to be somewhat brave, Hermione cast a silencing charm on herself and walked through the doorway.

She halted immediately as she took in the scene before her. Sitting on his bed was Lucius Malfoy, and his wife was curled up into his side as he placed a gentle kiss to the crown of her head. Draco was sitting across from his Mother, holding her hand while she smiled lovingly at him. Hermione could see the tears in the witch’s eyes as she lifted the hand that had been holding her son’s and ran it through his hair in a tender fashion.

Whatever the Malfoy’s issues, and there were many—it was clear they loved each other deeply.

Hermione sighed and went to turn around when she caught the elder Malfoy’s gaze.

“Miss Granger.” Lucius Malfoy nodded at her, and Draco’s head whipped around as he took in her reluctant posture.

“I didn’t mean to intrude. I just wanted to see if everyone was alright.”

Draco immediately stood and walked over, his eyes questioning as he reached for her hand.

“You don’t have to leave?” He whispered, so only she could hear him.

“It’s fine. Really, Malfoy. You should spend time with your parents. I’m going to head down to the Great Hall. I can see if the elves can bring you something?”

She could see the worry etched on Draco’s face. It was obvious he thought she was having second thoughts about their situation. She moved a bit closer and cupped his cheek gently. “It’s fine—please don’t worry, okay?”

His expression cleared and he nodded slowly, before leaning down and placing a soft kiss on her cheek. As he pulled back, he whispered into her ear, “Meet me at our Room, one hour?”

Hermione smiled and nodded, giving the elder Malfoy’s a more curt response in parting as she left Draco to spend time with his family.

As she wandered down the corridor, Hermione stopped to stare out the window and out onto the grounds. Everything was so complicated. It just didn’t seem to be her lot in life to ever have a quiet year at school. So engrossed as she was in her own thoughts, Hermione didn’t hear anyone approach her until a voice cleared gently next to her.

Turning her head, she noticed Nico standing there—his expression subdued.

“Is school always like this for you?”

Hermione scoffed at her cousin’s ill attempt at humor. “Funny, Nico.”

“I wasn’t trying to be funny, at least I don’t think so. I think it’s a fair question.”

“Maybe it is.” Hermione admitted with an eye roll. “Merlin knows I would never be so lucky as to have a peaceful year.”

“You’d be bored.”

Hermione eyed her cousin, his own body language was somewhat closed off. She realized there was something bothering him.

“What is going on?”

Nico’s dark eyes darted to her’s in surprise for a split second, then he just shuttered his expression and shrugged. “Nothing.”

“It’s not nothing, Nico.” Hermione turned her body to give her cousin her full attention. “Spill.”

Nico sighed but didn’t disabuse her, before he said simply, “I’m gay.”

Hermione choked out a surprised snort, her expression incredulous before she grinned like a loon. “Really? So you’ve finally admitted it to yourself?”

Nico bit his lip, but nodded in reply. “Yeah, I mean I’ve always known I was. But I just wasn’t sure if I could handle the scrutiny and the judgement of others. And maybe I just hadn’t found anyone that I’d want to take that risk with.”

Hermione reached for Nico’s hand and pulled him over to the alcove a bit further down the hallway. They sat together for a few moments before she spoke again.

“Nico—life often doesn’t make sense. Who we are, what we want—sometimes things don’t have to be one way or another—they just are. Who you are, just is. You don’t have to justify yourself to anyone. Those who love you will support you and those who don’t aren’t worth your time. If this is what makes you happy, then go for it. I’m assuming you finally decided to do something about your attraction to Theo?”

Nico sighed heavily, but nodded once. “I can’t deny how he makes me feel.”

“And does he feel the same way?”

“I think so.”

Hermione thought about it for a moment then pulled her cousin into a side hug, surprised that he allowed the affection. “I think you should tell him how you feel. If for no other reason than if he reciprocates, then you can stop with the brooding.”

Nico pulled back and snorted. “I don’t brood.”

“Of course not.” Hermione bit her lip as she tried to prevent a smile from breaking free. “How about we go get some dinner?”

“I could eat.”

Hermione chuckled and lifted her cousin up off the bench. They walked down towards the Great Hall together and were just about to go in when a voice spoke up.

“There you are.” Hermione grinned as Theo walked up to them. “I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to see you today.”

Hermione nudged Nico’s shoulder and mouthed, “just tell him” before she excused herself and walked into the dining hall leaving her cousin alone with his crush.

“Uhm, I was kinda busy dealing with some stuff.”

“Yeah? Everything alright?”

“It’s fine now.” Nico admitted with a causal shrug. “Did you already eat?”

“Nah, I was waiting for you.”

“Oh!” Nico breathed deeply as he tried to keep his heart from pounding out of his chest. “That was nice of you.”

Now it was Theo’s turn to shrug. “I don’t think anyone who knows me would ever accuse me of being nice.”

This caused Nico’s mouth to lift slightly. “So what would they accuse you of?”

Theo moved a step closer and he paused, as if he were suddenly unsure. He ran a hand through his brown locks, a nervous tick that Nico had noticed early on. Suddenly realizing the older boy was probably as nervous as he was made Nico feel a bit more relaxed.

“You do always seem to take pleasure in taunting your friends.” Nico smirked and Theo smiled, not denying the claim.

“I take pleasure in a lot of things.”

“Oh?” Nico was openly grinning now. “Like what?”

Theo moved into Nico’s space as he stared down into the dark eyes of the demigod, wondering if he was really reading the signals correctly and not wanting to screw this up.

“Spending time with you.” Theo replied, his husky voice barely above a whisper. “I like spending time with you.”

Nico’s expression registered shock at the very honest answer before his entire body relaxed completely. “I like spending time with you too, Theo.”

“Really?”

“Mmhmm,” Nico decided to step up this little game and as he walked around the older boy, he let his hand gently graze Theo’s outer thigh and felt the wizard’s responding shiver, which made him smirk inwardly. “But I’m hungry for food right now.”

Theo swallowed heavily, his gaze hooded as he nodded in acquiescence. “Then food it is.”

The two walked into the Great Hall together and Nico immediately sought out his cousin, who was looking right at him. She lifted a questioning eyebrow and Nico nodded and smiled, seeing Mi’s entire body calm at his silent declaration.

She really was happy for him and not for the first time, Nico realized that Mi was his family. The family that really mattered to him the most. He wouldn’t, couldn’t lose her. Not like he’d lost Bianca.

It just wasn’t an option.

Chapter Text

Inside the Hogwarts infirmary, Draco watched his witch leave with a heavy heart. She had saved his mother even when she’d had no reason to, other than knowing how devastated he’d be in losing his mum. Narcissa Malfoy had never said a kind word to Hermione Granger—Muggleborn...Merlin! He hadn’t either. His Father had tried to kill her on more than one occasion and yet...

Yet...

She’d done the honorable thing. The selfless thing and advocated to the Goddess for his Mother to be rescued.

He shook his head absently at how undeserving he was of such a witch...

A demigod.

Hermione.

When he turned back to face his parents, they were both watching him closely. His Father looked bemused, but not completely unfeeling. His Mother however, had that knowing look in her blue eyes as she assessed him. As if she knew what he’d been obsessing over and the subtle shake of her head let him know without words, that the beginnings of his own guilt and where that would ultimately lead was not something she’d support.

If he were an honorable wizard, he’d walk away and let Hermione find someone more worthy of her.

Braver...

Kinder...

But he wasn’t brave and he certainly wasn’t kind. He was selfish and cowardly and there was nothing to recommend him to his witch.

Not even his name.

Draco sighed in defeat as he sauntered back over to his parents, sitting down in his seat he tried to ignore their stares...but his Mother wasn’t having any of it apparently.

“My Dragon,” she murmured, waiting for him to lift his gaze to make eye contact, which he did after a few moments, “Don’t do this to yourself.”

“And what am I doing Mother?”

“You are looking for a reason to walk away from that witch because you feel unworthy of her.”

Draco’s eyes met his Father’s, and he could see the frown marring Lucius’ face.

“And you don’t agree?”

Narcissa sat up and took his hand in hers. “No. I don’t. What choices were made were done so to protect our family. To survive. Do I regret? Of course I do but only inasmuch as I see your suffering and wish that somehow, there had been a better choice. An easier choice.”

Draco nodded solemnly as he considered his Mother’s words. There were some, he’d suppose, who might insist that the Malfoy’s had a choice to follow the Dark Lord, but that wasn’t necessarily true. There were too many variables in play long before the Dark Lord had returned. But once his Father had been sent to Azkaban, the die had been cast and his own fate had been sealed.

And the choice had been to serve or die.

There were some days he’d wished he’d chosen death. If it hadn’t been for his Mother, he would have embraced it like an old friend.

“I must admit Son, that Miss Granger is a remarkable witch. Even when her heritage was deemed unseemly, it wasn’t as if I didn’t know about her cursorily. There was much talk within the Dark Lord’s ranks about Mr. Potter, it’s true. But there were some, who understood that despite her perceived heritage at the time, that Miss Granger’s intellect had much to do with keeping Potter alive. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her to be faced with the choice to have a part of her taken away.”

Narcissa nodded in agreement. “In the forest, I had the opportunity to see first hand just how powerful Miss Granger is. When she tried to heal her sister, it was quite a spectacle.”

“You saw that?”

“Yes. The Goddess seems to care deeply for her half-sisters. Both of them—but I do believe that she feels a kinship with Miss Granger in particular. Lady Artemis deferred to her several times, but in the end the Goddess made the decision to end the Lestrange’s lives. I can’t say I am sad to see them go.”

“I for one, am grateful you were unharmed Cissa.”

“We were lucky Luc—but I’m sure this isn’t the end of it.”

“You don’t think the Minister will send Father to Azkaban, do you?”

“I don’t know, My Dragon. I suppose it will be decided soon.”

Draco shook his head in frustration, silently incensed that his family kept being forced into these situations by deranged members of his own extended family.

Fucking Lestrange’s.

He hated the lot of them, his Aunt included.

As he checked the time, Draco sighed. “I need to go.”

“Of course. Please give our thanks to Miss Granger and try to remember that whatever her reasons, My Dragon...she cares for you and chooses to see the good in you that we do. Don’t push her away because you’re afraid. Something tells me that witch won’t take too kindly to you making that decision for her based on fear.”

Draco’s lips lifted into a half-smile as he nodded at his mum.

“I’ll keep it in mind.”

With a final nod to his Father, Draco headed for Slytherin to change before going to the Room of Requirement.

When he got to the Room about an hour later and entered, his breath caught at the vision waiting for him on their couch. She turned her head and smiled widely at him.

He couldn’t help but return the sentiment.

“You alright?”

As he moved towards her, he took in her appearance. She had changed after he’d seen her from before. Gone were her jeans and jumper and now she was wearing a soft knit wrapped dress with ballet flats. Her hair was pulled up off her slender neck and her eyes were bright and welcoming.

“You look beautiful.” He said sincerely, as he sat down next to her, smirking at the blush that colored her delicate features.

“Thank you.” She cocked her head almost coquettishly as she considered him. “But you didn’t answer my question.”

Draco tilted his head back on the couch and stared at the ceiling, but he held out his arm and felt a sense of relief when Granger scooted over and cuddled into his side. Her hand started to make small circles on his chest as he pondered what to say to her.

Knowing nothing he’d ever say could adequately express what he was feeling, all he could manage was a croaked, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Her voice was a whisper, but she continued to soothe him—almost as if she could sense his skittishness and need to hide from her. After a few moments she placed her chin on his chest and he could feel her eyes boring into him. Looking down, Draco realized he’d never stood a chance. Not at all. His heart was hers and everything he was belonged to her.

Grabbing her face into his hands, he rolled them over until she was underneath him and he stared into cinnamon amber eyes that were looking at him with worry.

But there was something more there too.

He was almost too afraid to hope that maybe...just maybe...

“I don’t deserve you.”

Hermione went to hush him, but he gripped her hand and held it with his firmly as he shook his head at her to allow him to speak. Her silent nod assured him she would, before he continued on.

“Merlin knows I don’t deserve you. I’ve spent years tormenting you, teasing you and watching you in pain of one kind or another. I’ve been a coward, bully, selfish and unkind. And yet, you’re here and I don’t understand why, Hermione.”

Her eyes widened at the use of her given name and Draco could see her breath hitch and speed up as he continued on...

“I’ve never given you any reason to believe in me. To care for me. When I was younger, and I noticed you for the first time, I’d felt that someone had hit me with a Bludger and I didn’t know what to do...so I did nothing. Then it became obvious that I would never be allowed to be a friend nor anything to you. You hit me and I knew I’d deserved it, but still I was a prat.”

Draco’s last words were choked out on a sob, and Hermione was shocked silent as she watched the wizard who’d always been more closed off than anyone she’d ever known—reveal himself to her.

She wasn’t unaware of how difficult this was for him, so she just kept quiet and listened.

“Sorry is never going to be an adequate expression for everything I’ve done and all the ways I’ve hurt you. Today showed me unequivocally that you are remarkable and I have nothing to offer you. If I were a better wizard, I’d walk away—but Salazar Hermione! I can’t walk away from you! Now that I can finally admit it to myself, that this here with you is all I’ve ever truly wanted? I can’t do the honorable thing and let you go.”

Hermione’s eyes filled with tears as she watched Draco struggle, and shockingly—a single tear fell from his left eye so she wiped it away with a soft touch.

“Draco...I don’t expect you to be perfect. Godric knows I’m not.”

Draco scoffed at this and Hermione hummed softly at him.

“I told you before that what we have between us isn’t logical. My attraction to you has never made sense to me because you’ve always been so unkind. But—I knew there was something there underneath that hardened Slytherin exterior—and I was right. You love your parents, you are loyal to your friends and underneath your toughened shell is a wizard who just wants someone to see him for whom he is—not his name, nor his galleons. Just Draco. Nico sees it too and frankly? I’m too stubborn to walk away now that I know that the Draco Malfoy I see before me, is the one I’d always hoped was there...just hidden away. Please don’t walk away from this. From me.”

Draco cupped her head firmly into his hands as he hovered over her, his eyes filled with more emotion than she’d ever thought he was capable of. It scared her a bit, how intense his grey eyes were boring into hers.

“Is this what you want Granger? Do you want me now, always?”

Hermione’s breath hitched, but she’d known the truth of her heart. She’d known it the second she’d asked her sister to save Narcissa Malfoy. This here with Draco made no sense, but love didn’t always make logical sense. It just was. They just were.

Her heart belonged right here. With Draco Malfoy.

“Yes.”

Draco’s eyes darkened even further and then that wicked smirk made a brief appearance before he covered her mouth with his in a fierce, passionate kiss.

It was everything it was supposed to be. Overwhelming, consuming, all-encompassing...and she held onto him for dear life as he devoured her with his mouth and hands.

Hermione knew the moment her magic started to react again and she could smell the ozone circling within the room, but unlike before she didn’t pull away and Draco didn’t let her. His kisses became even more frantic, more heated—just more...and she was as lost to him as he was to her.

If life had taught Draco anything, it was to protect himself and never let anyone see how much you feel—how much you cared. With a single word, he was undone and remade and he couldn’t regret a single second of what had come before. If he had to suffer through endless crucio’s, Dark Lord’s and disappointing his Father all to get to the right now? He’d gladly suffer everything again ten times over.

When he finally pulled away and stared down at his witch, her eyes were crackling with electricity and he shivered as her hands ran through his hair and down his torso. He could smell the ozone like a cloud of fresh rain and he wondered if he were to smell Amortentia at this precise moment, if this wouldn’t be the pervading essence. Parchment, wind and rain.

It was a fucking epiphany.

“Hermione,” his voice was wrecked as he moved his head down and kissed along her neck, then bit on the tender bit of flesh behind her ear that elicited a breathy moan—making his already hardened shaft aching to be set free. “If we don’t stop now, I’m not going to...”

She arched herself into him and gripped her hands even more firmly into his hair and he could hear her ragged breathing and the sound of her heart beating in time with his own.

“Please...”

Her voice was breathy, pleading and as far gone as he felt right at this moment. When he felt her leg wrap around his waist and force his body into full contact with her own the growl that ripped from his throat was a sound he was fairly certain he’d never made before in his life.

With all that was left of his waning self control, he pulled himself up on outstretched arms, once again staring down into his witch’s face which was flushed and luminous.

“Love, please tell me what to do.”

Hermione’s eyes cleared as she stared up into Draco’s face, which was pained and desperate. Taking a deep breath, she could feel every bit of him pressed up against the lower half of her body and without second guessing logic or reason, she opened her legs wider—inviting him to cradle himself into her warmth.

“Do you want to stop?” She whispered achingly.

“No.” He gritted out through clenched teeth. “But you need to know there’s no coming back from this for me. If we do this love, I’m never—ever letting you go.”

Hermione’s face relaxed into a wicked grin as she bit her lip in anticipation.

“Do you know the contraceptive charm?”

Draco’s eyes widened, but he nodded once and that was all the encouragement she needed.

“Then what are you waiting for Draco Malfoy.”

The predatory look on his face was back as he growled out desperate and ruined, “Fuck!”

“I want to.”

“As you wish.”

And with those words, Draco threw caution to the wind and spent the rest of the night making love to his witch. Thanking magic and the fates for allowing him this precious gift.

Chapter Text

It had to be nearing morning as Hermione stretched her aching body into the warm one behind her. Draco had been right when he’d predicted how explosive they’d be together. The first time had been slightly painful for her, but once that had passed the experience had been transcendent.

She’d lost count how many times she’d come undone last night.

Draco’s mouth was skilled in all manners of oral excellence and his tongue was just as wicked, no matter how he chose to employ it.

She didn’t know what had changed for him last night and she didn’t want to second guess it, but somehow over the last few days—Draco Malfoy had set aside that stringent Pureblood part of his upbringing and just allowed himself to feel and finally let go.

Hermione smiled as she realized she was more than alright with that fact.

“Why are you awake?” Draco murmured into her neck as he pulled her further into his warmth. She hummed happily as she burrowed into the furnace that was...her boyfriend? Lover? Intended?

Merlin, what were they officially?

“Love, turn off your brain please.”

She giggled softly at how well he seemed to read her. “I was just thinking.”

“No! Really?”

Hermione’s stomach fluttered at Draco’s husky drawl which was doing interesting things to her body first thing this morning.

“Hush, you.” She looked over her shoulder, and grinned at how utterly fuckable Draco appeared, as he opened a single eye and stared at her. His hair was in complete disarray and there were several marks already beginning to show on his neck and chest from where she’d been somewhat overzealous the night before.

Hermione figured she had similar marks.

“What were you thinking love?”

Hermione blanched momentarily before she remembered that she had been wondering about something.

But he was so distracting.

His smirk told her the git knew it too.

“I was just thinking...that I didn’t know what to call you?”

This got his full attention. “Excuse me?”

Hermione rolled over, reaching for her wand and casting a mouth refreshing charm over them both. His amused countenance was adorable.

“Boyfriend?”

“Ah,” he chuckled, “I see where you’re going with this.”

“Do you?”

“Yes. And I’m not really sure it matters. We are together. Partners, lovers, committed.” He lifted himself up and then stared down at her. “We are committed, correct?”

Running a hand through his hair, she brought his lips down to hers in a searching kiss. “Of course we are.” She mumbled against his lips and then opened her mouth, allowing him to take charge for a while.

The kiss was just as electric as the previous night had been, and soon she could feel his wandering fingers exploring her and humming in satisfaction before he moved over her and cast a contraceptive spell. Then they were rejoined and all talking ceased for a while as their moans, gasps and groans filled their Room.

When they finally reached their mutual climaxes as Hermione’s magic sparked and forced Draco’s own completion from him—he collapsed into her waiting arms, allowing himself to be soothed as he desperately tried to get control over his shaking body.

“That was...”

“Brilliant.” He breathed out, spent.

Hermione sighed when he finally rolled over and pulled out of her. She followed him and cuddled into his side and smiled as he kissed the crown of her head.

“We should probably get to the infirmary.” Her voice was stilted, and she felt Draco nod reluctantly.

“Probably.”

He slowly moved up off the bed and reached for her to follow him, which she did. The Room created a bath and they made quick use of it before getting dressed. A handy bit of wandwork later, and all their love bites were healed thanks to Hermione.

“Do you think my Father is going to be sent to Azkaban?”

Hermione sighed as they left the Room of Requirement. It was nearly six in the morning, and hopefully no one would be up this early.

“I don’t know, but if he goes it will raise questions as to the why.”

“I know.” Draco said morosely, reaching for his witch’s hand and taking it within his own.

“I was thinking there might be another way to deal with this, if you’re agreeable.”

Draco stopped in the corridor, his expression one filled with genuine confusion. “How?”

So, Hermione shared with him her idea and at first Draco had just stared at her like she was out of her mind, but after they’d walked a bit through the castle and he’d had time to process her idea, he asked...”Do you even think that’s possible?”

“I don’t know honestly. I have an idea as to how I might get him to cooperate. But it’s tricky because you can’t always trust in their word.”

“I’m sure your brilliant mind has a way around that?”

“Possibly. I suppose the worst he can do is say ‘no’ and then we’re back to square one.”

Draco nodded as he moved to wrap his arm around her waist. They made it to their final destination, and he stopped at the entrance, his eyes full of questions.

“How do you want to do this?”

Hermione just shrugged. “I have no idea. I’m fairly certain your parents are going to sense something has changed between us. If I didn’t think I could do this Draco, I would’ve never spent last night with you.”

“But you did.” He smirked, inordinately pleased with himself.

“Yes, I do have a prodigious memory as it turns out and I do remember last night with perfect clarity.”

“Good to know.” He then led her into the infirmary, where his Mother was already awake and fussing over his Father, who looked bored and irritated in equal measure.

Lucius was the first to notice they had guests.

“Ah, Draco. I am surprised to see you up so early this morning. We can never seem to get you out of bed much before ten during the summer.”

Narcissa tutted, but her assessing gaze was clearly not fooled as she eyed both Draco and Hermione with a critical eye.

It would seem that her Dragon had taken her words to heart.

She walked over and placed a gentle kiss on her son’s cheek and gave a polite nod to the witch next to him.

“Did you sleep well?”

Draco’s expression was placid, but Hermione couldn’t help the telltale blush that stole over her cheeks—outing them to his parents.

“I slept just fine, Mother.”

The rebuke in his voice held a warning edge, but Narcissa just hummed and didn’t reply as she gave her husband a satisfied smirk.

“Has anyone from the Ministry been by?” Hermione inquired politely.

“No, although the Minister did indicate he’d be by first thing this morning.”

“You do realize Mr. Malfoy, if the Minister decides to send you to Azkaban it will open a Pandora’s box as to the why?”

Lucius nodded, his expression stoic as he wasn’t sure where this conversation was headed. “Perhaps, but extenuating circumstances...”

“Aren’t going to matter if the public gets ahold of this.” Draco finished with a sneer. “You barely escaped Azkaban during the trial Father. Do you really think you’ll be able to bribe your way out a third time?”

“Draco!” Narcissa scolded but the younger Malfoy just shook his head in exasperation at his Mother.

“Mum, you know it’s true. There are those within the Ministry who won’t care that you were taken hostage nor will they care that Father was forced into attacking Hermione to try and save you. All they are going to care about is a former Death Eater tried to kill a member of the Golden Trio. No matter how we try and spin this, there’s only one likely outcome to this scenario.”

“So what would you suggest we do, Son.”

Draco glanced down at Hermione who was biting her lip hard. She met the elder Malfoy’s cold gaze and said, “I might have a solution. One that would keep you out of Azkaban and keep this private.”

Narcissa sat down at the edge of her husband’s cot and stared distrustfully at the young witch.

“And how do we know this isn’t some elaborate plot for revenge.”

Draco scoffed loudly as he turned away from his Mother, but Hermione kept ahold of his hand as she glared at the older witch.

“If I’d wanted you harmed—either one of you—I’ve had many opportunities to follow through with that.”

Narcissa sighed regretfully as she gazed at her Son, who’s body language was on edge.

“I’m sorry Miss Granger. Please explain to us your plan.”

So she did and when she was done, Lucius Malfoy’s expression was intrigued while Narcissa just looked like she wanted to vomit.

“Are you sure this would even be possible?”

“No I’m not, but there is one way to find out. If he refuses, then we’re stuck with option A and the Ministry and the Wizengamot will decide your fate.”

Lucius sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, but one look at his wife told him that she wasn’t thrilled with either idea. He kissed the back of her hand and then nodded once.

“Please ask, Miss Granger.”

Draco squeezed her hand to get her attention. “Will he come if you call for him?”

“There’s only one way to find out.”

All three Malfoy’s seemed to be reluctant, but Draco finally nodded so Hermione took that as permission before she called out, “Uncle, if you can hear me—could you come so I might speak with you?”

The room was filled with an eerie quiet for several minutes and just as Draco was about to speak, the shadows morphed throughout the infirmary and the temperature dropped by several degrees. Narcissa could feel the unrestrained raw power as the darknesses melded into a coalescence and then from the edge of shadow, a form emerged.

Lucius couldn’t stop but flinch as the God of the Underworld moved silently into the room. If Tom Riddle had radiated menace and induced fear—Looking upon Hades inspired pure terror and the upmost dread. His aura was darkness and when his eyes settled upon Lucius and Narcissa—they radiated a malice that was hard to comprehend.

Then the God smiled and Lucius thought he was going to wet his bed.

The God’s endless dark eyes drifted towards Draco and Hermione and then Hades aura pulled back slightly as his expression softened imperceptibly.

But it was there.

“Niece. You rang?”

“Hello Uncle. Thank you for coming to see me.”

Hades sighed heavily, clearly put upon by being summoned in such a manner.

“Are we going to have a chat?”

“No Sir. Not exactly. I actually needed a favor.”

Hades stared at his niece with incredulity, and then threw his head back in laughter, the sound blistering and caustic.

Enough so that all within the room physically cowered away from the noise.

“A favor?” Hades moved forward silently. “I didn’t realize we were at the favor stage of our relationship, Niece.”

“Uncle, I would never have asked you to come here if I didn’t have something of value to barter with.”

This got the Gods attention as he eyed Hermione with interest.

“And just what could you possibly have Niece, that would ever tempt me into bestowing a favor?”

Hermione sighed and then pulled out a lush green apple from her beaded bag and walked over to her Uncle with the gift.

“I want your word, on the River Styx that you will help me with this favor. In return I offer this gift to you.”

Hades eyed the luscious green fruit with a hint of longing in his dark gaze. He then turned his cold stare back on his Niece.

“What you are offering is not possible Hermione.”

“And if I told you I’d found a way that it was?”

“If...you had, and this is truly possible? Then I would be willing to offer you one favor of your choosing bound upon the River Styx. But if not...if the gift is not what you proclaim it to be...then I would be within my rights to claim you back to me.”

Draco hissed angrily at the God, while Hades just smirked back evilly at the wizard.

“What is it with you Niece and these mortals and demigods so willing to champion you?”

Hermione sighed but held the fruit aloft. “Do we have an accord?”

Hades nodded and vowed on the River Styx to abide the terms. The castle rumbled with the force of his vow and then he reached for the apple, taking a bite of the fruit. The tart taste exploded on his tongue and he moaned in rapture at the juicy flavor. His eyes widened at the smirk on his Niece’s face, and he couldn’t help the answering smile that formed around the apple as he bit, chewed and swallowed the fruit with relish.

“Truly the Brightest Witch of any Age. It’s a pity your own Father can’t find it within his purview to acknowledge as such.”

Hermione’s expression didn’t waver, but Hades grinned at the raw pain in her amber eyes. His grin widened when she addressed him...icily.

“I will call for you in a bit.”

Hades nodded and melted back into the shadows with a deep chuckle. The sound of the apple being devoured was rather intimidating as it almost sounded like bones being crunched together.

“Prat.” Hermione mumbled lowly once her Uncle was gone and Draco just coughed out in shock, while Lucius and Narcissa were both flummoxed speechless.

“Love, you can’t call your Uncle a prat?” Draco whispered, his eyes darting around the room waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“I just did.” Hermione scoffed and rolled her eyes at her wizard. “I’m going to send my patronus to Kingsley and go get Harry too. I’ll be back shortly.”

Draco just nodded as he didn’t know what to say. He watched bemused as his witch flounced out of the infirmary and then heard his Father’s throat clear to get his attention.

“Yes Father?”

“I think your Mother will agree with me when I tell you that we approve.”

Draco smirked and glanced over at his Mother, who just nodded in the affirmative.

“Well, that’s good because I intend to marry that witch as soon as I can convince her to agree.”

“Have you both discussed courting?” Narcissa’s voice was even.

Draco raised an eyebrow at his Mother and smirked. “We are beyond the courting stage, Mother.”

“Oh.” Narcissa nodded, her eyes darting to her husband’s, who seemed rather shocked at the admission.

“Then perhaps it might behoove you to pick out something suitable for the witch, Son.”

This caused Draco to grimace. “I’m going to wait on the betrothal jewelry for a bit, Father. If that’s alright with you.”

“I see.” Was all Lucius could say to that. It would appear that his Son and his new paramour had a different idea in how they were going to go about courting. Lucius was a smart man for the most part, and he didn’t think insisting on a formal betrothal would win him any points with Miss Granger. Seeing his wife’s resigned expression, it was likely that Narcissa had also come to the same conclusion.

It was a small price to pay for his Son’s happiness.

Not to mention the future greatness of the Malfoy line.

Chapter Text

“You’re doing what?!?” Harry’s voice carried over the Gryffindor common room and Hermione silenced him with a wave of her wand.

“Look Harry, put aside your righteous hatred of the Malfoy’s for just a moment and look at it from my point of view. If word gets out that Lucius Malfoy attacked me, regardless of his wife being kidnapped, not only is it going to come out about the Death Eaters escaping but how and why they did. The Wizengamot is going to lose their minds, and as much as I don’t like the man—sending him to Azkaban makes things worse, not better.”

“So you’re what? Going to let him take a little holiday in the Underworld as punishment?”

Oh, come off it Harry! My Uncle will definitely not allow that. Time passes much differently there, so several months will feel like several years. He will serve his time in the Fields of Punishment and return once his sentence is over.”

Harry took off his glasses, and Percy—who had been listening in, just rolled his eyes at how overly dramatic the wizard was being.

“It’s actually a fair compromise.” Percy said at last. “There are different levels to the Fields of Punishment and for a mortal to have to serve there—it could change Lucius Malfoy in a way that Azkaban obviously didn’t. You no longer have the Keres attending the prison, so it would probably be more of a holiday there than in the Underworld.”

Hermione nodded, but Harry just seem confused.

“Keres?”

“Dementors Harry.”

“Oh...” shaking his head, Harry leant up against the couch and noticed that the common room was filling up and then he saw Ron heading down the stairs and sighed. “Let me talk to Ron and I will meet you both in the infirmary in thirty minutes. Did you send for Kings?”

“Yes. He will be here at eight.”

“Alright.”

Hermione and Percy left the Gryffindor common room together, and just as the door was shutting Hermione heard Ron yell, “She wants to do what?!”

She couldn’t help the flinch, but Percy’s laughter just made her snort in irritation.

“Are they always so?”

“Yes.” Hermione wasn’t even going to pretend she didn’t know what Percy was asking.

“You didn’t come back to Gryffindor last night.”

Hermione stopped and gave Percy a wary look, but he just held up his hands in supplication.

“No one else noticed. At least I don’t think Harry and Ron did.” They began to walk again and after a few moments, Percy reached for her hand and said, “You okay?”

Hermione blushed and nodded. “More than.”

“Good.” Was all Percy said, as they continued to walk down the fourth floor corridor towards the infirmary where Annabeth and Nico were waiting for them. Her best friend’s knowing smirk was to be expected, but Nico’s expression was just plain wrong.

He was smiling.

Genuinely.

“Get those looks off both of your faces...it’s rude.”

Nico shrugged, but didn’t respond while Annabeth came over and enveloped her into a hug—whispering into her ear, “Tell me about it later, okay?”

Hermione sighed, but nodded as they fell into step and entered the infirmary together.

It wasn’t long before Harry, Ron and Kingsley joined them with the Headmistress.

Ron unfortunately, wasn’t done with his diatribe.

“Mione! Please tell me your not seriously considering doing this?”

“Yes Ronald, I am.”

“What are we doing?” Kingsley asked, so Hermione filled him in on her idea. When she was done, her gaze caught Nico’s and he was trying without success to hold in his laughter.

“Oh, this is going to be so good.” Was all he said.

“I’m so glad I can amuse you, my Son.” A deepened voice echoed throughout the room as the shadows fell once again and then Hades was standing there, next to Nico with a proud smirk on his face.

“Hey dad.”

“Nico. So this is where you’ve been spending your time.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“And you like it here?”

Nico stared into his Father’s eyes and he knew in that moment that his Father knew.

“I think I might’ve found a place for me here. Mi takes good care of me.”

Hades hummed, his gaze locked back on his Niece’s and he smiled.

“Hermione is exceptional. You could do worse for a cousin.”

Hades gaze then flittered to Percy and the demigod Son of Poseidon scoffed loudly.

“Good to see you too, Uncle. No wait a minute—check that.”

“Ah, Percy Jackson.” Hades’ aura filled the room as he considered the young demigod. “I would share that sentiment, but you will find soon enough that some gifts can be taken away just as easily as they were bestowed.”

Percy’s gaze narrowed as he moved forward, his own aura clashing with his Uncle’s—who just seemed amused by him.

“Oh, you two stop it!” Hermione bristled. “We aren’t here for that.”

Hades chuckled and bowed his head at his Niece, ignoring the shocked gasps of those within the room.

“I am here to fulfill my promise. Do you wish to proceed?”

Hermione looked over at Kingsley, who seemed to be eyeing the God with interest.

“What would Mr. Malfoy’s punishment entail?”

Hades bared his teeth, and Kingsley stepped back at the unsubtle warning.

“He would spend three months in the Underworld. The Fields of Punishment are lovely this time of year, or? He could serve his sentence in my home.”

Nico coughed out a guffaw and even Percy smirked. Hermione just rolled her eyes but wisely didn’t say anything.

Hades stared down the elder Malfoy, who was watching the young demigods closely. The choice, at least on the surface, seemed a rather simple one. But as he’d learned from his readings as a young man, nothing with the Gods was ever straightforward.

“If I might ask?”

Hades nodded.

“What would my duties in your home entail?”

Hades chortled as he considered the blonde wizard with something akin to respect.

“Interesting for a mortal. However, the vow did not include giving you that information. I’m being generous offering you a choice.”

Lucius felt like this was some kind of test, one in which he was unsure of either outcome.

“I will choose to serve, My Lord.”

Hades’ smile was blistering as he said, “So mote it be.”

Lucius then felt a collar wrapping around his throat, and realized he couldn’t speak. His eyes widened in terror as he vanished silently from the room.

“I do hope you’ve said your goodbyes before now.”

“Would it matter if we hadn’t?” Draco groused out lowly, earning a firm shake of the head from his witch, but Nico just seemed even more amused than before.

“No, it wouldn’t.” Hades then turned to his son. “Nico, you must come and visit soon. Your Step-Mother will be eager to let you know how she will be faring with her new pet.”

“Of course Father. Please tell Persephone I send my best.”

“I will do so.” Hades then walked over to Hermione and stood before her, tilting her head up to face him directly. “Niece, remember what we discussed before. And know that should you have need, I will honor the little gift you left the last time you visited my home.”

Hermione’s eyes widened and her skin paled as she considered her Uncle’s words. She then swallowed and said hoarsely, “Thank you.”

“Of course.”

Hades moved stealthily over to the far wall and melted into shadow, returning to the Underworld.

When the God was gone, Nico lost it and howled in laughter while Percy just smiled. Hermione sighed, and shook her head.

“What are we missing Mione?” Harry asked warily, and one look over at Narcissa Malfoy made Hermione realize that perhaps she hadn’t thought of everything.

“Uhm, Mr. Malfoy will be serving in Hades castle. He lives there with his wife, Persephone. Their relationship is...well...”

“Contentious?”

This came from Draco and Nico grinned at his friend.

“Yeah, that.”

“Why do I feel I’m missing something Granger?”

Hermione’s eyes met Draco’s and she sighed. “Persephone likes to have visitors. So I would imagine that she will be rather persistent in her attentions towards Mr. Malfoy.”

Narcissa’s expression darkened a bit, before she smiled and chuckled.

“So your saying my husband will be spending three months fending off the advances of a Goddess?”

“Yes, Mrs. Malfoy.”

“I see.” The regal witch stood up and smoothed her skirt down without a care in the world.

“Aren’t you worried, mum?” Draco’s expression was shocked, but his Mother just waved a hand dismissively at her son.

“If your Father knows what is good for him, he won’t be indulging in any such relations. Did you know My Dragon, that the Black Family marital bonds are quite insidious to any partner who is unfaithful to their spouse. I would imagine that alone will keep your Father in check. I’m not worried.”

Hermione smiled warmly at the other woman’s confidence. “Magical bonds can’t be broken.”

“Not even in death, Miss Granger.”

“Is Mr. Malfoy aware of this little caveat?”

Narcissa’s smirk was worthy of her Son as she glided towards the Minister, who was just as amused.

“Would it be possible for me to return home, Minister Shacklebolt?”

“I will have Harry and Diggle escort you there, Lady Malfoy. They can do a sweep of the home and make sure the wards are reset properly.”

“Thank you.”

Kingsley nodded and then did the same to Hermione before leaving the infirmary with Minerva. Narcissa went over to her Son and gave him a small peck on his cheek.

“Please write to me should you have need of anything.” She whispered in his ear and Draco nodded.

“I will Mum.”

Narcissa then addressed Hermione. “Thank you for everything, Miss Granger.”

“You’re welcome, Mrs. Malfoy.”

Harry came over to escort Narcissa to the Headmistress’ office so they could floo directly to Malfoy Manor while Ron just stood there with his arms folded as he glared between Hermione and Malfoy.

When Harry was gone, Ron exploded.

“What were you thinking Mione?!”

Hermione just stared indignantly at her best friend, who’s own body language was radiating aggression.

“I was thinking Ronald, that it wouldn’t be a good idea for the public to panic over something that was inadvertently caused by me!”

“That’s just mental! You didn’t do anything to cause this!”

“That’s not true. My heritage becoming known, led to this. It led to Hera deciding she wanted me dead. She’s the one behind the breakouts of Azkaban! So yes! This has everything to do with me.”

“And what about him?” Ron pointed angrily at Malfoy. “Please don’t tell me you’re actually serious about him? You can’t be that thick!”

Hermione’s fists clenched as she tried not to react to Ron’s anger. She knew he had good reasons for how he felt, but she didn’t need this right now.

“That’s enough Weasley.” Draco’s cold voice filtered over the room, and when Hermione turned to him he was angrily staring Ron down. “You don’t get to talk to her that way.”

Ron’s harsh laughter made Hermione visibly flinch. “That’s rich coming from you, ferret. You spent years being a first class git and now you think you have the right to tell me how to act and what to say?”

“When it comes to Hermione, I think I do.”

Hermione’s gaze moved between the two wizards. One who’s expression was apoplectic and the other questioning. Logic would dictate she would support her best friend, but her heart wasn’t on board with that idea.

So she moved over to Draco and saw his body relax as he pulled her into his side and kissed her temple in reassurance.

She then faced her friend.

“Ron, I don’t expect you to like my choices but I do expect you to respect them. Just as I’d do for you. If you can’t do that, then maybe you should just leave.”

Ron’s face turned from red to redder as he sputtered out in rage. As he was about to open his mouth, Percy waved his wand and silenced him.

“Hey! That worked! Cool!”

Ron’s eyes bulged as he tried to talk but couldn’t. Annabeth just smiled fondly at her boyfriend and Draco nodded his thanks to Hermione’s cousin, who was now twirling his wand around his fingers, humming happily to himself.

Not wishing to wait for the spell to drop, Hermione took Draco’s hand and led him out of the infirmary. She didn’t even flinch when they got half way down the corridor and there was a crash behind them back in the hospital wing.

“Are you alright?”

“I’m fine Draco. I’d just rather not think about how Ron tends to react first and then regret later. He has a tendency to do that fairly consistently. I’d just as soon not stay and listen to him prattle something he will only end up regretting later on.”

Draco nodded but didn’t reply, as Weasley’s temper tantrums were pretty legendary throughout their time in school.

When they got to the stairs, Hermione stopped and faced him. Students from all the houses were now making their way through the corridors and down for breakfast.

“I’m going to freshen up and then head to the Great Hall for breakfast. I’m rather famished.”

Draco smirked as he pulled her into his body and placed a soft kiss on her lips—pointedly ignoring the whispers and looks of shock and disgust on some of their classmates faces.

People would definitely have their opinions.

He leant down and whispered deeply, “We did work up an appetite last night. Care for a repeat later on tonight?”

Hermione shivered as she stared up into darkened grey pools and she grinned impishly. “Do I need to worry about getting accosted in alcoves and random spots in the castle now?”

Draco’s snicker was cute as he just lifted a suggestive eyebrow and said, “I’m game.”

She smacked a hand on his chest and then wagged her finger in warning.

“Don’t get cheeky with me Malfoy.”

“Oh, I’m Malfoy again—am I?”

“Only when you act like an entitled prat.”

“I’d like to think of it as a win-win, love. You seemed to think so too, when you were screaming my name last night and coming all over my....”

Hermione shushed him, putting her hand over his mouth but his grey eyes were dancing with mirth as he considered her.

“Go get cleaned up, dirty wizard.”

Draco bowed and moved back a step as he said, “As you wish.”

Shaking her head ruefully, Hermione headed up the stairs with a soft giggle and a heated blush that just wouldn’t go away. When she got to the next flight, she looked over the railing at her wizard, who was still standing there watching and grinning up at her.

He was just too gorgeous, Hermione thought as she sighed in defeat.

She really never stood a chance.

Chapter Text

Thankfully when she got to the Gryffindor common room, it was relatively empty so Hermione hurried up the stairs and into her dorm room to change into something appropriate for the day.

Classes would resume back tomorrow and she really did need to get some quality study time in. Grabbing her book bag she reached for her Charms, Transfiguration and Runes assignments and headed down to the library.

Her usual table was empty, so she set her book bag down and wandered into the stacks to grab a few texts for research. When she got back to her spot about ten minutes later it was to the smiling faces of her two best female friends.

Sitting down after dropping her books on the table with a thud, Hermione stared over the stack at Annabeth and Ginny, who both looked far too smug for this early in the morning.

“So?” This was from Annabeth, and Hermione had never wanted to crawl into a hole and hide as much as she did right at this moment.

“Yes?”

“Oh, come on Mi! Don’t be all elusive. We both know you weren’t in your dorm room last night.”

Hermione turned her attention to Ginny, who looked absolutely unapologetic.

“What? You weren’t?” Ginny snickered. “Just answer one question for me and then I’ll leave you be?”

Hermione’s expression conveyed her skepticism but she nodded all the same.

“You keeping him?”

Hermione was surprised that would be the question from Ginny but logically it probably made sense somewhere in the grand scheme of things.

“Yes.”

Ginny’s face morphed into a wicked smile.

“He must’ve been brilliant.”

That comment got a deep blush, and both Annabeth and Ginny giggled as they leant forward, both their eyes gleaming with curiosity.

“Why are you both putting me on the spot? It’s not like you both don’t have your own relationships.”

“True,” Annabeth admitted, “but we just want to make sure you’re happy. If I hadn’t seen you this morning, I don’t think I would’ve ever believed that this was truly what you wanted.”

“Why? Did you think that I was going to what?”

Annabeth shrugged. “Don’t know. I had wondered if you were going to hold out hope for Luke. But I can see now, that isn’t the case.”

Hermione sighed and shook her head. “Annabeth, Luke is gone and regardless of the circumstances...I’ve made my choice.”

Her friend nodded, sitting back and giving her a critical once over before she asked lowly, “Are you in love with Draco?”

Ginny’s expression was openly curious as both girls waited for her to speak.

“We haven’t said those exact words to each other yet, so you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t feel right telling the both of you my innermost feelings when I haven’t exactly shared them with Draco.”

Annabeth nodded. “Fair enough. But just for the record? That wizard is completely gone for you and while I doubt he’s comfortable saying those exact words—all you have to do is see how he looks at you to know that he’s got it bad.”

Ginny giggled and even Hermione smiled at her friend.

“Well, he’s not the only one.” Hermione replied quietly. “I just wish Harry and Ron would try and be a bit more open-minded, is all.”

“Harry is trying,” Ginny interjected, “But we all know what a hot-headed arse my brother can be. He’s never going to accept you being with Malfoy. So I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for that.”

“That’s what I’d figured.” Hermione’s voice was a bit despondent but she’d known that Ron would be the hardest one to win over.

“What are you going to do about Christmas?” Ginny asked and Hermione shrugged.

“I don’t know. My cousin Hector owled me a few days ago and offered to have the family come here to the Manor for the holidays. I’m thinking Nico is going to want to stay here.”

Annabeth smiled at that. “So, he’s finally decided then?”

“I do believe he has.”

“What’s going on?” Ginny asked sharply, not like being kept out of the loop.

“Nico—he likes someone and I think he’d rather stay here to spend Christmas with that person. I probably should discuss with him if he’d want to stay with me at my home. I could extend a few invitations to those who don’t have anywhere else to go for the holidays.”

“That might be nice.” Annabeth offered. “Percy’s mom and Mr. Blofis are going to Hawaii. Percy and I were going to head back to New York, but he’d figured that since everyone would be here, we’d stay too.”

Hermione’s face brightened. “That’s brilliant. You can all stay with me! There’s plenty of room and it will be like a real Christmas. We’ve really never had one.”

“What do you mean?” Ginny asked.

“Well, at Camp we do celebrate...but it’s just demigods. No other family. Most of us don’t have parents to go home to and the ones that do? Their parents have kinda disowned them.”

“Really?” Ginny’s face registered her shock and dismay.

“Yes.” Annabeth went on. “I had a really hard time with my Dad and Step-mom. That’s why I ran away when I was seven. Hermione had her guardians, but they weren’t always sure what to do with her either. Percy’s close to his mom, but that’s pretty rare.”

“That’s so sad.” Ginny reached for both her friend’s hands and squeezed them in solidarity. “We should make this the best Christmas ever! I can talk to Harry...I’m sure he’d be open to having a celebration with everyone.”

Hermione smiled in agreement at Ginny. “I think it would be very festive. We could do Christmas Day at the Dagworth-Granger Manor.”

Ginny stood up and gave each of her friend’s a hug. “I’ll owl Mum and see what she thinks.”

“Sure Gin.”

The red-headed witch bounced away excitedly and Annabeth just grinned, watching her go.

“That witch is a force of nature. Seems like she’s got a good heart.”

“She does.” Reaching for a book, Hermione opened it to the section she wanted. “You can’t tell her ‘no’ once Ginny gets something into her head that she’s adamant about.”

“Sounds like Clarisse.”

Hermione snorted, causing both girls to giggle.

“Have you heard from Clarisse?”

“Once,” Annabeth sighed, “Chris is still a bit mixed up. She stays with him and it helps. But it’s hard too, because he’s got some stuff to work through and we both know Clarisse isn’t known for having a ton of patience.”

“That’s an understatement.” Hermione stared down at the table and placed her hand on top of her parchment as she considered how to ask the question to her friend. After a couple moments, Annabeth said, “What?”

“Sorry. Just processing how I want to ask.”

“Ask away.”

“Have you and Percy discussed your future? Where you see yourselves?”

Annabeth nodded. “We have. We both know what we have is it for the both of us. We haven’t specifically talked marriage or kids, but the thought is there. I know someday I’ll marry Seaweed Brain and we will have a fishbowl of kids.”

Hermione nodded. “And where will you raise them?”

Annabeth’s expression became contemplative as she considered the question.

“You know, I’ve never really considered it to be honest. I don’t see us raising our kids at Camp, but I’m guessing you’re wondering how would we keep them safe?”

Hermione bit her lip and nodded.

“Taking Runes has been interesting. Wards are a rather useful tool and I suppose there is some way I might utilize magic to keep us safe. I have some of Daedalus’ inventions too.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Long story, but they could prove useful.” Annabeth gave her friend a hard look. “Are you worried that any children you might have in the future might be threatened by the Mad Cow Goddess?”

Hermione’s face fell and she nodded. “The thought has crossed my mind.”

“Have you discussed this with Draco?”

“Annabeth, we’ve just...you know? I can’t present this to him yet. Besides, it’s going to be years before I’ll even want to think about having children.”

“And when you close your eyes, what do you see?”

Hermione did so, and after a moment she smiled beatifically. “A little girl with blond curls and grey eyes. My freckles, Draco’s wit and a perfect amalgamation of both of our intelligences.”

“She sounds perfect.”

Hermione swallowed, feeling her throat choking up as she nodded silently. “You?”

Annabeth chuckled but she didn’t hesitate to answer, “A boy. With Percy’s eyes, my hair and a huge adventurous spirit but tempered by my smarts.”

“He sounds perfect too.”

“So? Perhaps we need to figure out a way to make this dream a reality that is safe for the both of us and our future families. The Gods know, that a quiet simple life probably isn’t going to be in the cards for either of us.”

“And you’re okay with that fact?”

Annabeth nodded. “I am. I love Percy and I’m going to be with him in this life and the next. However and whatever happens, I know he and I will always to find a way through it. I think what worries you, is you and Draco were on opposite sides of your war. You know your mettle, but you’re not sure of his. Can he be the kind of wizard and man to stand with you toe to toe and fight the good fight? Is he strong enough to protect you and your children and love you when the bad times come? Can you rely on him to be your anchor when the rest of the world burns away? Seaweed Brain and I forged our relationship through the Titan war. You and Draco? It took your magical war for both of you to find your way to each other. You know you care for him...maybe even love him at this point. But you’re not sure if you can trust him to be the hero you will need him to be in the years to come.”

Hermione’s expression was resigned as she knew her friend was right.

Merlin, Annabeth had always been right.

“What do I do?”

“The question isn’t what to do? You know what you want. I think the only question you need answered is whether or not that wizard loves you enough to put you first. Before his upbringing, before his self-preservation, before even his own family?”

“And if he can’t or isn’t willing to?”

Annabeth shrugged but Hermione knew her friend well enough to know that words didn’t need to be spoken. What she’d said was enough.

Sighing, Hermione decided to set in on her homework. As she started writing in earnest, she missed grey eyes locking with another set—hidden behind the bookshelves.

Draco had heard the entire conversation and his heart sank within his chest.

Could he be everything Hermione needed him to be?

Could he be the hero?

Chapter Text

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, both Draco and Hermione had pondered over Annabeth’s words...albeit separately. Hermione knew what she wanted, she knew she had the strength to stand with Draco and be what he needed her to be. But, she didn’t know the depths of his heart. At least where she was concerned.

Was it fair to put that expectation on a wizard who’d had Voldemort living in his home? Draco had done some heroic things...refusing to identify Harry being the foremost thing.

But every decision he’d made was because he’d been a Malfoy first.

She didn’t know if it was fair to put that kind of expectation on him.

Draco for his part had spent the past few weeks obsessing over Hermione’s conversation with Annabeth. When he’d heard Hermione confession about what she’d seen for their future...a daughter...his heart had literally pounded out of his chest and the happiness he’d felt nearly knocked him off his feet.

But then he’d heard the rest and had never even considered what life must’ve been like for demigods in general. To have to stay hidden away? It was more restrictive in many ways than the Statute of Secrecy was.

All they’d had was each other. To rely on for survival. A Camp that was a home, because they weren’t exactly welcome anywhere else.

It was a lot to process.

That same night, he’d met Hermione in their Room and had taken his time learning every inch of her. He’d licked, tasted and devoured every part of her body until she’d laid spent beneath him. He knew when he’d looked down into her sated and content expression he’d carry that moment with him until the day he died.

Annabeth was right about one thing—He might never be able to say the words, but that didn’t mean he didn’t feel them.

He was in love with Hermione.

He would always be in love with her.

Annabeth had sent several questioning looks his way in the ensuing days, but he’d just nod politely at her and go on his own way. He didn’t know how to broach the subject with his witch. He wondered if he should let her bring it up first.

That was the cowards way.

The way of self-preservation.

The Malfoy way.

Hermione had asked him about Christmas and had shared her plans. Then she’d invited he and his Mother to come and spend Christmas with her family and friends and Draco had just stood there like an idiot. He hadn’t said anything for a good five minutes and it was only after watching her expression go from excited hope, to resigned defeat—he’d gotten over himself long enough to pull her into the nearest alcove and snog her silly.

The only other interesting gossip was the new relationship between Theo and Nico. Draco had known for years his best mate was more likely to be attracted to him than Pansy or Daphne. It had been a bit awkward at first, but after a short adjustment period, Draco realized that he wasn’t Theo’s type.

Blaise had joked once that no one knew what Theo’s type was. The wizard was notoriously picky and a committed introverted to boot. He didn’t engage beyond his few friends in Slytherin and even then, he was a bit of a loner.

Just like Nico.

They disappeared every evening for an hour together, and where they went no one knew. When they’d return back to Slytherin, Theo had a half smile firmly plastered on his face while Nico just looked as stoic as always.

Draco didn’t think it was possible for anyone at the age of almost fifteen to be quite so controlled.

But the truth was Nico was nearly seventy-five years old, at least chronologically—so it kinda put things in a bit more perspective.

The last day before term ended, the entire group of eighth year’s—plus Luna, Ginny, Nico, Annabeth and Percy were all hanging in the Room of Requirement. Draco had his arm around Granger, and was happy to see that everyone in the room seemed to be finally accepting of their new relationship status. Dean and Seamus had thrown a fit at first, and Neville had even owled when he’d heard from Ron about the news...but now? The shock had worn off and while Draco wouldn’t say he was friends with any of the Gryffindors, at least they were all civil.

Mostly.

“So, you guys want to play a game?” Seamus spoke up and everyone eyed him with caution.

“It’s not going to be an exploding game, is it?” Nico asked sarcastically, and everyone snickered at Seamus’ propensity to blow shit up.

“Nah.” His crestfallen expression told everyone that it had been something along those lines and the laughter just got louder.

“What kind of games to you guys play at Camp Half Blood?” Blaise asked curiously.

Percy took a swig of his butter beer, courtesy of Winky and said, “Capture the Flag.”

“Huh?” All the wizard’s, except Dean looked perplexed.

“It’s a war game,” Percy went on to explain. “Each team gets a flag and you hide it somewhere at Camp. All the demigods are outfitted in battle armor and team captains are chosen. Then it’s an all out battle to capture the other teams flag.”

The wizard’s just sat their stunned. Draco turned to Hermione and tilted her head up so he could meet her gaze.

“Did you ever partake in this game?”

Hermione nodded. “A few times. Annabeth was quite the strategist and she and Luke were usually on opposite teams. As we got older, they became captains. When Percy came to camp the summer after my fifth year, it was the first time Annabeth’s team had lost in a while.”

Percy grinned at his girlfriend and she rolled her eyes in amusement. “Yes. I had all but defeated Seaweed Brain but he was able to access his powers and bested me in one-on-one combat.”

“Really?” Blaise asked. “Could you guys show us some sparring?”

Hermione shook her head, but Percy just grinned at his cousin.

“Come on Mi. It could be fun. I’ll even let you win.”

Hermione huffed in disgust. “That’s not exactly a fair fight cousin. You’re essentially invulnerable.”

“True.” Percy looked down at his hand and blew on it before rubbing it on his shirt with relish.

“That’s because you took a dip in the Styx, isn’t it?” Theo asked and Percy glared at the wizard before his gaze locked onto his younger cousin.

“Told them, did you?”

Nico shrugged, bored. “And? Like it’s some big secret?”

Percy went to speak, but Hermione silenced him with a wave of her hand.

“Wicked!” Annabeth grinned. “Wandless magic! Nice!”

“Yeah. Since my powers were restored it’s coming a bit easier all the time.”

Percy rolled his eyes and then glared angrily. Hermione waved her hand again and released him from the spell.

“What the heck, Mi?!”

“You were going to say something unkind Percy.”

“So, I’m curious about something?” Theo carried on, ignoring Percy’s glare. “If you took a dip in the Styx, that means you bear the Mark of Achilles, correct?”

Nico smirked at his boyfriend, who was really hot when he spouted out facts.

“Yeah. Some people call it the Mark of Achilles, or the Curse of Achilles.” Percy offered with a shrug. “I’m not sure it matters.”

“Actually it does.” Theo said simply. “If it’s a Mark...then it’s considered a blessing. A Greek blessing wouldn’t be able to be taken away very easily, which means you’d likely be invulnerable indefinitely. But if it was considered a curse? Then a curse can be broken, or removed as it were much easier.”

Everyone turned to gape at Theo, who was a bit flustered at suddenly being the center of attention. Nico’s gaze though, was quite heated and Theo swallowed at the passionate look being sent his way.

“So what you’re saying is that I could somehow lose my invulnerability?”

Theo shrugged. “I’m not an expert, mind you. I just know a bit about how blessings and curses work. Magic is invoked in much the same way. Achilles was Greek, so the curse or blessing would be Greek in origin.”

Hermione sat forward, her eyes alight with curiosity at learning something new. “So theoretically, what could remove either?”

“What cousin?” Percy chuckled, “Trying to find a way to defeat me in battle?”

“Oh, hush you! I’m asking, because if there is something that can change you back to what you were before your dip in the Styx...it would make sense to avoid that thing however possible.”

Percy smiled fondly at his cousin. “Aww, Mi. I didn’t know you cared?”

“Shut it, Jackson.” Hermione bit back playfully and the two just grinned at each other.

Theo was pondering the question carefully, trying to remember what he’d remembered from his Greek Mythology as a child. Greek curses were notoriously tricky things and couldn’t be cured quite so easily. Achilles was shot through the heel, which would mean that Percy wasn’t entirely impervious. Blessings however, were much more complex.

“Achilles had a weak spot, which means you do too.” Theo answered at last and Percy just eyed the wizard before he nodded once.

“Only Annabeth knows where the spot is.”

Theo nodded in return. “Greek curses were mostly unknown. The Egyptians are the only civilization older as far as magic goes.”

“And the Romans came later.” Blaise offered helpfully.

Theo’s eyes lit up at that and he nodded emphatically. “That would do it.”

“What?” Everyone turned their attention back to Theo and he sighed.

“The Roman Gods. They were the Greek Gods in another form. Zeus is Greek, but in the Roman pantheon he was known as Jupiter. Poseidon, Neptune. Hades...”

“Pluto.” Nico finished easily and Theo pointed silently in agreement.

“Yes. There is a myth as it were about Romulus and Remus being the founders of Rome after the fall of Troy, they were raised by Lupa. Rome was founded near the Tiber river, which if myth and legend is true...has the power to wash away all Greek blessings and curses.”

Everyone sat back stunned. Percy paled as he felt Annabeth’s hand in his and then he’d remembered what Hades had said.

“Hades warned me that gifts could be taken away as easily as they’d been bestowed. He meant this, didn’t he Nico?”

Percy’s blue green eyes met the dark ones of his cousin and Nico just stared right back, not flinching or giving any indication what he was thinking.

But then he finally said, “It’s possible. But come on Percy? We are in Scotland and Italy is far enough away that if you don’t go there...you’re not going to have to worry about it, right?”

Percy reluctantly nodded as he felt Annabeth grip his hand tightly. Even Hermione looked worried as she bit her lip in contemplation.

“Nico’s right. We just stay away from Italy and everything will be perfectly fine.”

Little did they all know that the fates had other ideas in store for their futures.

Chapter Text

The next day everyone made their way to the Hogwarts Express for the return ride back to London. Nico, Annabeth and Percy were going with Hermione to Wiltshire, while Draco was returning to Malfoy Manor with Theo and Blaise. Harry would be waiting at the train station to take Ginny to the Burrow.

So far, Hermione had received replies from nearly everyone she’d invited for Christmas, except for Ron and George. Harry had owled and said that George still wasn’t spending much time at the Burrow, and Hermione was determined to go and see if she could get him to come at least for a little bit. He’d seemed subdued before school had started but the Holidays were always especially tough.

Ron thought was another issue, and he’d not returned a single owl she’d sent him in regards to the Holidays.

Hopefully Molly would guilt him into coming.

Hermione sat in her compartment with Draco, Percy and Annabeth. Nico has gone somewhere with Theo while Blaise was in another compartment with Goyle, Pansy and Daphne.

“How’s Goyle doing?” Hermione asked Draco quietly. “He never seems to say much. It’s almost like he’s a ghost wandering around the school with no purpose.”

Draco sighed and nodded. “He doesn’t talk much. The only person who he seems to spend any time with is Pansy.”

“Are they?”

Draco shrugged. “Dunno. Pansy has been just as quiet this year. Most of the other houses have given her a rather wide berth. No one really acknowledges her though. It’s to be expected. Other than when I’m with you and your family and friends, no one really talks to me either. I just get sneers and hateful looks.”

Hermione sighed heavily, as she dropped her head onto Draco’s shoulder and felt his arm wrap a bit more firmly around her waist.

“I’m sorry.”

“Granger, it’s not your fault.” Draco whispered into her ear. “It’s mine. I made the choices. If anything, this year has been so much better than I’d thought it would be.”

“Yeah?” She tilted up her head with a playful smile.

“Yes.” His eyes were bright, but his overall expression was a bit closed off. “And I have an amazing witch to thank for that.”

Hermione bit her lip, trying to prevent her smile from getting bigger.

“Well, you were a prat.” She finally said and Draco chuckled, but nodded in agreement.

“I’m afraid I still can be.” His voice was resigned, but Hermione just kissed his cheek tenderly.

“You can be whatever you choose to be now, Malfoy. You have the power to be the change you want for yourself.”

Draco just eyed her with skepticism, unsure of how to reply. He desperately wanted to believe he could be that for her, for himself—but he didn’t know how to get out of his own way.

“Your belief in me is surprising, if a bit unwarranted.”

“Nonsense.” She said flippantly, “you need to stop brooding and overthinking everything. Between you and Nico, I don’t know who broods more.”

Draco pinched her side, and the startled ‘yelp’ had both Annabeth and Percy chuckling to themselves. Draco smirked while Hermione just levied him with a petulant glare.

“I don’t know whether to be amused or offended love. And you’re one to talk! You overthink everything.”

“She does.” Annabeth interrupted with a pointed stare. “So do I, come to think of it.”

“You’re both brilliant.” Percy nodded with finality.

“Thanks, cousin.”

“Anytime, Mi.”

As the train moved along towards Kings Cross, Percy and Annabeth pointed out a few things that they noticed outside the window. They had just passed Cambridge, and would be pulling into Kings Cross within the hour.

“How did witches and wizards get to Scotland before the trains?”

Draco turned towards Annabeth with a surprised look.

“Magical carriages actually. They were pulled by Abraxan flying horses. There were also horse drawn carriages too. Floo travel was rather common until the trains became available.”

“Why don’t they still use floo? I would think it would be quicker than the train?”

Draco sat back and side-eyed his witch, who was looking at him expectantly—her amber eyes alight with curiosity.

“I’m surprised you didn’t read about this in Hogwarts a History, love.” Draco quipped at his witch, and her eyes narrowed at him.

“I haven’t read every edition, prat.”

They all laughed, except for Hermione who had her arms folded in a fit of pique. Draco pulled her against him and kissed her temple in reassurance, and smirked when he heard her sigh and felt her body relax against him.

“Floo travel and apparition were quite common place until about 100 years ago. Hogwarts was relatively selective with attendance for hundreds of years, especially after the Statue of Secrecy was enacted. As warding improved, and technology with it—it was decided that the Hogwarts Express would be the primary source of transportation to and from the school. I’m sure there were political pressures in making that decision as well.”

“You mean because there were more Muggleborns being admitted?” Hermione asked lowly and Draco nodded.

“Yes.” Was all Draco said and Hermione could tell he suddenly felt uncomfortable.

“Can I ask a question?” Percy’s voice was friendly, but there was an edge of steel underneath. Draco nodded, seeing no reason to deny the request.

“Did you ever know any Muggles or Muggleborns prior to your first year here?”

Draco smirked, but shook his head in the negative. “No. My parents would’ve never allowed such a thing.”

“And how do you feel about them now?”

Draco’s gaze locked with the demigod and he could feel both Annabeth and Hermione’s eyes upon him.

Sighing heavily, he replied coldly, “We fought a war over that very issue. A war, that I didn’t want to be involved in. Do I think it’s dangerous for Muggles to know about magic? Yes. History has shown that Muggles don’t take too kindly to witches and wizards because they fear what they don’t understand. Magical’s have been called evil, the devil’s children, Satan worshippers...such lovely names...don’t you think?”

Percy blanched, while Annabeth’s countenance was thoughtful. Draco looked down and saw Hermione biting her lip raw.

“As a child, I was taught all about the Witch trials, the deaths that had occurred because of Muggles and their prejudice. I was taught that Muggleborns were lesser, and posed a danger to our world because as much as we might like to believe that Muggle parents will keep our secrets? There’s nothing to compel them to do so except the love they have for their own magical children. Look at Potter? He was raised by the worst sort of Muggles who feared magic and abused him for it.”

Hermione’s expression was stunned. “How did you know that?”

Draco sighed again. “Love, rumors were thick on the ground at school about Potter’s home life. He never went home for the holidays and when he did, it was to the Weasleys.”

Hermione nodded sadly, seeing no reason to argue the valid point. Draco had always been very observant.

“Just like Muggles fear the unknown...magical’s do too. It only makes sense to want to keep our traditions and families safe from possible unknown threats. If the witch trials, the persecution of the druids, obscurials? If those things weren’t a factual historical reality, who is to say what the pervading attitude amongst Pureblood families might have been about Muggleborns? The Dark Lord exploited people’s fears, just like Grindelwald did. History has an unfortunate way of repeating itself. You all live at a Camp because you can’t be who you are out in the world, right? You’re safe there? Your families may know of your heritage, but how many are truly accepting of it? That’s the thing about prejudice...it’s born out of fear and ignorance. I may not be as ignorant any longer, but I’m not sure the fear will ever leave me. It’s just that fear has changed.”

“And what do you fear now?” Annabeth asked quietly, her gaze flitting to her best friend, who was struggling to process her boyfriend’s words.

“That I’m never going to be able to put my past behind me. That I’m never going to be strong enough to make up for all the hurt I’ve caused and that I’m going to let those I care about the most, down.”

“You can’t live your life that way, man.” Percy leant forward, his forearms resting on his thighs as he considered the wizard in front of him. “We all do stupid stuff we regret. We all make bad choices, but if you live your life in fear—you’re gonna be at risk to keep making those same stupid choices again and again.”

“Maybe.” Draco admitted lowly, “but you’ve always known what side you’re supposed to be on.”

Percy grinned in amusement. “You’d think that, but there were many times I second guessed if what I was doing was the right thing. People think it’s easier to make the right choice, but it’s really not. Sometimes you have to go against what everyone else is telling you to do. I think, you feel guilty cause deep down, you knew what the right choice was but you didn’t think you had a choice. We all have a choice, but like I said from before—when all you have are bad choices, it makes it hard to know which way to go.”

“Seaweed Brain is right.” Annabeth smiled in encouragement. She knew how hard this must be for someone like Draco Malfoy, who was probably even more complex than Luke had been. Leave it to Mi to pick the most enigmatic and complicated wizard of the bunch. “Look, I don’t know what it must’ve been like for you living with that Voldemort guy in your home and being surrounded by all his lackeys...”

“I was one of his lackeys.” Draco interrupted angrily and Annabeth scoffed at him.

“You weren’t relishing in the torture and death—were you?”

“Merlin, No!”

“Then I’m not sure you count as a full-fledged lackey. But whatever,” she waved her hand dismissively, “in the end you made some good choices. Maybe they were made out of fear, or maybe out of self-preservation? But as long as you truly feel regret and remorse for your actions and inactions—you’re not beyond redemption, Draco Malfoy.”

“That’s an awfully rosy outlook, Chase.”

“Nope. Just realistic. Mi would’ve never given you the time of day if she didn’t see something good in you worth her time.”

“Thanks Chase.”

“Anytime Malfoy. Just do us all a favor and keep an open mind. Change is hard, but you’re lucky in that you have good people who are invested in making sure you’re not alone anymore. Maybe it’s time to start placing your trust in what really matters.”

Draco’s gaze narrowed slightly, but he nodded at the suggestion. When he looked down, he noticed Granger staring out the window biting her lip. He nudged her to get her attention and after a few seconds, she turned and met his gaze.

“Your best friend is pretty smart.”

Hermione’s expression softened and she nodded in return. “She is. Always has been as far as I’ve been able to tell.”

“So what’s the plan?”

“For the holidays?”

Draco smirked, causing Hermione to roll her eyes at the blatant change of subject.

“Well, Christmas is this Friday so Annabeth, Percy, Nico and I are going to head into Muggle London tomorrow to get some Christmas shopping done.”

“Sounds like a good time.” Draco sighed, frustrated that he wouldn’t be able to do much of anything this holiday. He and his mother had gotten special permission to attend Christmas at Hermione’s, but other than that—he was relegated to the Manor over break.

“Would you have wanted to come with us if your could?”

Draco shrugged, honestly not sure he was ready for something of that magnitude.

“I don’t know,” he said lowly, “Maybe once school is done.”

Hermione didn’t respond, she knew how difficult that concession was for Draco. He’d never been in the Muggle World—perhaps it might be ideal to start small?

“Well, maybe something a bit less overwhelming.” Hermione said at last. “I was actually thinking about heading to America after school was over. Go visit Hector and my family? Go to Camp? Do you think you might like to go with me?”

Draco’s face lit up with interest. “Really? Visit Camp Half-Blood?” His gaze caught Percy and Annabeth’s as he asked, “Would that even be possible?”

Percy shrugged. “Don’t see why not. I’m sure Chiron would be okay with it, but Mr. D might have a problem. He’s kinda difficult on a good day, but he actually likes Mi.”

“Well, he is my half-brother.” She said with a grin.

Draco eyes widened as he realized the truth of that. “Merlin! I keep forgetting about how many siblings you do have. Artemis, Apollo, Dionysus, Thalia? Am I forgetting anyone?”

Percy snickered while Annabeth just shook her head at the blonde wizard.

“You will see when you get to Camp, Malfoy. I have many siblings...all demigods. Percy has his brother Tyson, but Poseidon has other children too...just not demigod children. The Big Three haven’t had demigod children in thousands of years, but the other Gods have and Camp Half Blood has been in different incarnations throughout history as western civilization has moved. At one time Camp was here, in England...for hundreds of years until the Church of England rose to power. During the dark ages, many of the Gods didn’t seek out mortals as a matter of course because mankind had forgotten the Gods. When Western Civilization moved to the America’s, and man had freedom to choose without restriction, the Gods became known once again.”

Draco sat back in shock, not realizing how complicated the Gods relationships with mortals really was...but it made a lot of sense. The Gods wouldn’t willing seek out those mortals that had rejected them. The Gods were too proud to make such concessions.

It made Draco wonder about other things as well.

“Theo mentioned the Roman Gods? Wouldn’t they also have a Camp?”

Everyone sat back stunned, and Hermione’s eyes widened in horror at the thought. Would that even be possible?

Looking over at Percy and Annabeth, she could see they were thinking the same thing.

Was it actually possible?

“That’s a very interesting question.” Annabeth’s hardened voice said at last, “and one we might need to find an answer to.”

Chapter Text

When the Hogwarts Express docked into Kings Cross, Hermione waved her cousin and best friend away, so she could say a proper goodbye to Draco as she wouldn’t see him for a few days. When the compartment closed behind them, Draco gathered her into his arms and kissed her breathless.

It didn’t take long for both of them to feel like they were losing control.

Eventually, Draco pulled away with a Herculean effort and a pained groan.

“I’m going to miss you.” He whispered emotively, and then hummed as he felt Hermione’s fingers caress his neck and scalp.

“Me too. But Christmas is only a few days away.”

“I know.” He sighed in resignation, before tilting his head back, his eyes closed as his arm tightened reflexively around his witch’s waist. “Doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

“No it doesn’t.” She murmured softly, before she grinned and grabbed something out of her jacket pocket. “These are for you.”

Draco looked down as she placed a few golden coins into his hand, and he lifted one curiously and stared at it.

“What are these?”

“They’re drachmas.”

“Huh?”

“It’s Greek currency.”

“Oh! Okay?” Draco knew his expression was showing his confusion. “What do I do with them?”

Hermione grinned mischievously. “This is payment for the Goddess Iris. I can send a rainbow message to you from wherever I am. I am hoping the Goddess will allow it, and if she does, then you will have the ability to contact me as well.”

“I’ve seen this Iris message thing,” Draco nodded in excitement. “Do you think it will really work?”

“Don’t know, but I’m willing to give it a go.”

“You’re such a rule breaker, Granger.” Draco grinned and then gave her another quick kiss. “Let’s get you to the Platform.”

“Fine.”

They waited a few more minutes and then disembarked onto the Platform and made their way through the crowds, ignoring the looks they were getting from many a witch and wizard.

Not all of them were favorable.

Draco sighed, as he studiously ignored the hateful glares being sent his way but Hermione wasn’t quite so unaffected, as she glared back at several people who were whispering and pointing at both she and Draco. At one point, as they neared Percy, Nico and Annabeth who were talking with Harry and Ginny—an older witch just scoffed and murmured ‘traitor’ none too quietly and she felt Draco stiffen against her.

Hermione stopped cold, and turned her head, glaring at the older witch who smirked at her and then the woman’s companions all nodded and did the same. Hermione felt her magic swirling in righteous anger and Draco smelled the fragrance of ozone before he felt his witch’s magic run through him. When he gazed down, Hermione’s eyes were whitened and her magic was crackling along her skin. He then glanced over at the group of older witches, who’s own expressions had whitened—paled, and then they all moved back into the crowd without saying another word.

He chuckled deeply, unable to contain his mirth.

“Not nice Granger.”

“Busybodies.” She mumbled under her breath, causing Draco to pull her a bit more firmly against his side.

When they’d reached their friend’s, everyone but Harry was grinning in some fashion at them.

Harry was just glowering unhappily at seeing them together.

“You all ready?” He asked briskly and they all mumbled their assent, heading straight for the floo area. While they were waiting their turn, Draco leant down and whispered, “Have fun and be safe. Don’t do anything reckless, okay?”

Hermione’s expression was mischievous as she winked and promised to do so. Draco just rolled his eyes before nodding politely once more to everyone and stepping through the floo, calling out for Malfoy Manor.

As she watched him flash away in a plume of green flames, Hermione sighed. Feeling her cousin coming up to stand next to her, Hermione huffed as Nico bumped his shoulder with hers.

“Let’s go and get situated. We have a busy couple days of shopping and I’m kinda excited to see more of London than the inside of Harry’s house.”

Everyone chuckled, while Harry just shook his head. “I’m heading with Ginny over to the Burrow, but I will see you all in the morning at Grimmauld Place.”

Handshakes and hugs were meted out as everyone said their goodbyes and then Harry and Ginny left. Hermione stepped into the floo and called out for ‘Dagworth-Granger Manor—main room’ and felt the pull of the floo as it whisked her away.

It wasn’t too long later that her cousins and Annabeth followed. Hermione walked out of the main receiving area and led everyone towards the east wing, where her rooms were located.

Hector had been quite thoughtful and thorough before he’d left this past summer. He’d set up the Manor home with everything it had needed by the way of creature comforts and expensive new furnishings. But Hermione had drawn a line when her cousin had inquired as to whether or not she’d like to have a House Elf.

That answer had been a resounding ‘No!’

As she got Annabeth, Percy and Nico situated in their respective rooms, Hermione realized she was going to have to get some groceries for all her guests, so she sat down at her writing desk and made a list of everything she’d need to get for the next week.

After about thirty minutes, she was just putting the finishing touches on a few of the final items she needed to buy when there was a soft knock on her door.

“Come in!” She called cheerily, and smiled over her shoulder when she heard a masculine voice clearing behind her and saw Nico running a hand through his hair.

“Hey.” He said quietly, before sitting on the window seat, next to her desk.

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah, guess so.” Nico’s dark gaze wandered around her room before locking back onto hers. “Would it be okay if I invited Theo over to hang out?”

“Sure.” Hermione acquiesced easily. “He’s welcome to stay here if he wants. Blaise too.”

Nico’s expression softened. “Thanks. Maybe I’ll ask him.”

Hermione turned towards her cousin, giving him her undivided attention. “How are things going with Theo?”

“Good.”

“Just good?”

Nico blushed but hummed in the affirmative. “He’s different. Funny, sarcastic, smart, but he’s also kind of a nerd like me. He knows Mythomagic, is a sucker for history of all kinds and is a mean poker player.”

“Ah, so that explains it.”

“What?” Nico’s expression morphed into confusion.

“Draco told me that he’d gotten into trouble our fifth year for losing a months allowance playing poker with his housemates. Fifty galleons. Now they play for candy...or so he’d said.”

Nico grinned and nodded. “Yeah, they do. Theo wins all the time. Cleans pretty much everyone out too. I don’t play through. I didn’t think it would be fair.”

“Why?”

“Come on Mi! We both know that none of those wizards would stand a chance against me.”

“I don’t know about that cousin,” Hermione winked, “I think Theo might. In fact, I think you just might let him win.”

“Pah!” Nico rolled his eyes, but his mouth was tilted up slightly on one end and Hermione laughed at how adorable he looked. “How are things with Draco?”

The sudden change of topic stalled Hermione’s retort, and she smiled at her cousin. “Things are good actually. Draco’s always been rather closed off with his emotions, but when we’re alone I get to see a side of him I’d never thought I’d see, but one I’d always wondered if it was there.”

“I don’t get it though,” Nico wondered aloud, “what ever made you think that Draco Malfoy would actually have a soft side?”

Looking away from her cousin, Hermione stood up and moved over towards her balcony. She opened the door and took in the snow on the ground with a small sigh. She could feel Nico’s curious gaze upon her, and she knew that her cousin could be trusted with the truth.

It was something she’d never really shared with anyone. Not even Annabeth.

“I’ve always watched Malfoy, even when we were younger. It was hard to not notice him. His hair, his demeanor, his patented sneer...but there were moments when he’d get a letter and a box of sweets from home and his features would soften and he’d almost smile...and I could tell there was a real heart underneath all that prejudiced hatefulness. It was clear he adored his Mother, and she him. Narcissa sent him a box of his favorite sweets every week like clockwork. Except for sixth year. That’s when I suspected something was wrong, but I was too far involved with keeping Harry safe and alive that I didn’t have time to worry about Malfoy too.”

“Despite how you felt.”

Hermione turned and faced her cousin, her expression pained and nodded once. “Yes. There are still moments, not many but some that I wonder if I’ve made the right choice. But then, when we’re alone and I see the truth in his eyes that I know I have. We’ve all had shite war time experiences and I know that Draco still feels a lot of guilt and remorse over what happened, as he should—But I also know that much of what occurred wasn’t his fault. Seeing the way others look at him with such hatred...”

“And you now by extension...”

Hermione sighed heavily. “I am used to it Nico. I’ve dealt with the taunts, sneers, hatred and prejudice since I entered the magical world at eleven. Draco Malfoy was the darling of the Pureblood elite. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that before his Father was carted off to Azkaban at the end of our fifth year, Draco Malfoy could’ve had any witch he’d wanted without batting an eye.”

“Does that still bother you?”

“I don’t think so,” she admitted lowly. “It’s just a fact of our past. Now, he’s going to have to deal with the same stares and whispers I did, except this time the shoe’s on the opposite foot. I just don’t think he knows what to do with it but he hides his emotions so well it’s hard to guess what he’s thinking and feeling most days.”

Nico sat forward in his chair as he pondered his cousin’s words. He could understand her conflicted feelings about Draco. The wizard wasn’t one to show his feelings easily, and Nico doubted that the blonde could express them much better. It was clear to see that Draco cared for Mi, the way in which he looked at her spoke volumes to anyone who saw it. But sometimes, people needed to hear the words too.

And sometimes words weren’t enough without the actions to back it up.

He’d learned that lesson the hard way.

“You’re in love with him.” He said at last and wasn’t surprised when Mi nodded slowly in response.

“Merlin help me but yes, I am. I think I finally realized it when I asked Artemis to rescue his Mother.”

“Do you think he loves you?”

Hermione shrugged uneasily, but didn’t comment so Nico decided to take pity on his cousin.

“Mi, that wizard is so far gone for you it’s obvious to everyone but you. He may not be able to say what you want to hear right now, but in time he might.”

“I’m not in any rush Nico. This is all still fairly new and I’m happy with where we are right now. I know I’ll have to be patient where Draco’s concerned. I’m not too worried about it.”

Moving over and grabbing her list signaling their conversation was over, Hermione pulled Nico to his feet. “Come on, let’s go grocery shopping. We need to get a tree, decorations, food and presents all in the next couple days before everyone gets here.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Nico grinned, following Mi downstairs to where Percy and Annabeth were already waiting for them.

“Shopping?” Annabeth chimed in and Hermione laughed as she grabbed her best friend’s hand and headed towards the floo, bound and determined to make this the best Christmas ever!

She just hoped that she wasn’t setting herself up for disappointment.

As luck would have it Draco at that moment was having a similar conversation with his Mother, who had enveloped him into a warm hug when he’d emerged from the floo and now the two were sitting down together, quietly eating dinner.

It was Draco’s favorite: Coq au Vin with roasted root vegetables and crusty bread.

His Mother watched him closely throughout the meal, and finally when they were done and just sipping on their elvish wine, she felt the need to speak up.

“How has school been?”

Draco grey eyes lifted to his Mother’s blue ones. “It’s been going well.”

Narcissa hummed as she took a dainty sip of her wine before setting the glass down. “And Miss Granger? How are things with her schooling?”

Draco’s lips lifted in a almost smile as he responded easily, “Still the Brightest Witch. I might’ve mentioned Slughorn gave us a project in his class, to research Wolfsbane?”

Narcissa nodded in reply. “I remember.”

“Well, Granger—the brilliant witch she is—has found a way to not only improve the recipe, but potentially make it more potent. If she’s right, which I’d bet all our galleons on her being so—it’s going to revolutionize Wolfsbane production.”

Narcissa sat back thoughtfully as she pondered over this new information.

“How? It’s a ridiculously tricky potion to brew. I’d seen Severus brew it many times to understand that much.”

Draco saw his Mother’s expression fall and he reached for her hand.

“He’s fine, Mum. Hermione had Nico go to the Underworld to check on him before school started. He’s resting in Elysium. Apparently, he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of being seen as a hero and it took a bit of convincing. He also called Nico’s Father a dunderhead.”

Draco’s smirked at the shocked expression on his Mother’s face before she threw her head back in rich laughter—something he hadn’t seen her do in a very long time and he smiled softly at how happy she looked.

“He called Hades a dunderhead?” Narcissa shook her head in wonder. “Dear Severus—sometimes I wonder if that man wasn’t more Slytherin than all of us put together.”

Draco nodded, before his expression turned serious. “I’d thought you might’ve been angry at him Mum.”

“Why?” Narcissa was understandably perplexed. “Because he ended up being loyal to the Order?”

Draco bowed his head in agreement and watched his Mother’s face soften.

“My Dragon, I’ve always known where Severus loyalties were. Even your Father suspected towards the end, but my priority was always you. Severus knew this, hence why he agreed to the unbreakable vow. He loved you in his own way, and would’ve done anything he could to protect you. I will always be grateful to him for saving you the burden of ending Dumbledore’s life. My deepest regret is that he died without ever knowing how much he was cared for.”

Draco swallowed uncomfortably, trying valiantly to hold back his tears.

“I wish I could tell him how sorry I am.”

“Oh darling—he knows. I’m sure Severus knows how much we cared for him and how much we miss him. I didn’t want to tell you until I knew for sure, but Mr. Potter petitioned the Wizengamot to have Severus lauded as a hero. They are supposed to decide this week and if approved, his portrait will hang in the Headmaster’s office at Hogwarts as was his right.”

Draco sat back shocked. He had no idea Potter had done such a thing.

“Potter mentioned something to me about Severus memories.”

“I don’t know much more either, but I’m sure we will learn more soon.”

Reaching for his wine, Draco took a long draw and swallowed it with relish. His gaze landed on his Father’s chair and he said, “How do you think Father is faring?”

“I think your Father is going to be a changed wizard when he returns. I don’t imagine the next few months will be easy for him at all.”

Draco chuckled, thinking about what he’d learned recently about Hades and Persephone’s dynamic.

“If I didn’t know better, I’d think my diabolical little witch knew exactly what she was doing when she had Father sent to serve in the Underworld.”

Narcissa nodded and smirked. “I would tend to agree. Although she did seem a bit sheepish about the fact that Persephone would likely be...”

“Chasing after Father like a Niffler sniffing after gold?”

Both Malfoy’s laughed uproariously at the thought of Lucius Malfoy being prowled after by the tempestuous Goddess.

“I’d pay good galleons just for a peek at that.” Draco chuckled deeply and saw his Mother respond with her own wicked grin.

“Well, perhaps your Father might be persuaded to share a pensieve memory or two. Just to satisfy my curiosity.”

Draco lifted an eyebrow at his Mother’s cunning.

“You’re going to blackmail Father, aren’t you?”

Narcissa waved an elegant hand as if to brush off the thought, but her eyes were alight with purpose. Draco couldn’t help but grin widely at his Mother’s deft handling of the situation. She truly didn’t seem too bothered by the fact that her husband was essentially trapped with a Goddess without a buffer. Draco doubted that Hades would care one way or the other. In fact, Draco was fairly certain that the God of the Underworld just saw this all as particularly good sport and was secretly relishing in his wife’s predicament.

“What about Miss Granger?”

“What about her?” Draco’s voice cracked on the last word as he stared at his Mother, who was observing him quietly.

“Have you picked out a suitable gift for her for Christmas?”

Draco groaned and rubbed both hands down his face in exasperation, knowing exactly what his Mother was inferring.

“I’m not going to give her jewelry, Mother. It’s too soon for that. She will electrocute me and I’d rather stay in her good graces, thank you ever so much.”

“Now My Dragon, there is no need to be so dramatic. I just wondered if you’ve picked out something that she would like?”

Draco’s face fell. “She likes books. Beyond that I have no idea what to get her. She’s not a typical witch who would expect something extravagant or frivolous.”

His mother took another sip of her wine and Draco could see her mind working as she determined how best to help him. He had spent the better part of the past few weeks agonizing over what to get Hermione for Christmas. Jewelry and perfume were not an option and as much as he could gift her with a rare book—it seemed...impersonal. He was limited in where he could go, at least until school was done and his probation was lifted, so that ruled out travel, or a Wizarding concert.

He was running out of time.

He then noticed his Mother get up and leave the room and after a bit, she returned with something in hand. She set the piece in front of him and Draco stared at it in wonder.

It had belonged to his Great-Grandmother, Luilla Malfoy. It was a Faberge Egg, a one of a kind that had been commissioned by her husband, Macrinus Malfoy from the House of Faberge back at the turn of the century. The story was one he’d heard as a boy from his Mother when he’d asked her about the egg that had a place of honor on her vanity table. Luilla had gone to Drumstrang, and had been friends with a young witch who had ties to the Russian Royal Family. Word had gotten out in Pureblood circles of Peter Carl Faberge and his famous Eggs. To have one commissioned was simply unheard of, but the man—who was a squib—had been persuaded by Macrinus who had one made for his bride. Draco had often wondered if his Great-Grandfather had imperiused the gentleman.

He wouldn’t have put it past him.

As he stared at the Egg, Draco noticed the outer part of the egg was done in green guilloche enamel with golden leaves and the finest pearl lilies interspersed within the decorative whole. When Draco opened it, he smiled as he pulled out the single red enamel rose, that glistened with tiny pave diamonds.

It was truly an exquisite piece for an exquisite witch.

His eyes lifted to his Mum, who was watching him with a soft expression of adoration on her face.

“I think this would be quite suitable for your Miss Granger. While not technically jewelry, it does speak to your devotion as well as intention for the future. It’s a Malfoy family heirloom, and as such would be passed down to your chosen bride. You do still intend to make her yours?”

Draco nodded as he closed the egg with reverence. “I do.”

Narcissa smiled at her son knowingly. “You love her?”

Draco’s grey eyes shot up to meet his Mother, unprepared for those words—for that question.

After an indeterminate amount of time, he simply sighed and nodded—unable to get the words out. He could see his own Mother tear up as she discreetly wiped her eye and sniffed elegantly.

“I’m happy for you, My Dragon.” She reached for his hand and gave it a loving squeeze of approval. “Does this gift meet with your approval?”

“Yes. Thank you Mum, I think she’ll love it.”

“You’re most welcome.”

Chapter Text

The remaining days before Christmas found Hermione rushing from place to place as she did her very best to prepare for the upcoming holiday. Percy and Nico and found a suitable tree, and with the help of Theo and Blaise had purchased decorations for it. Theo had brought over all the Christmas decorations that he had stored in the attic at Nott Manor, and Blaise found some glass snowflake ornaments that had belonged to his Mother, but she no longer used. They shimmered and reflected different prisms of light as they were enchanted to do so. Blaise had even found an old gold and crystal star for the top of the tree, its light reflecting off the ceiling like some seventies disco ball.

Hermione’s cousin Hector had shown up with the entirety of the Dagworth-Granger family from America. Some sixteen in all. They were busy helping her with meal preparation as well as getting out the old family China, crystal and flatwear for the occasion.

It seemed everyone had a task to do.

So it was with horror, that Hermione realized at five o’clock on Christmas Eve that she’d completely forgotten about a Christmas present for Draco.

That was how she found herself in Muggle London, with Theo and Nico—desperately trying to figure out what to get for the wizard who had everything.

Holding up a cashmere sweater, Hermione moaned in agitation.

“This isn’t going to work!” She tossed down the offending item with a sigh. “This is too impersonal! I need to find something else!”

Theo rolled his eyes, but only so Nico could see and the young demigod snickered, then put his hands up when his older cousin glared at him.

“You think this is funny, Nico?”

“Kinda,” he admitted as he reached for a leather jacket with a small grin and handed it to Theo. The older wizard tried it on, and when he noticed the heated look his boyfriend was giving him, he nodded and placed it over his forearm along with a few other items for purchase. Thankfully, he’d remembered to go to Gringotts yesterday to get one of those plastic cards for shopping in Muggle London.

“Thanks a ton.” Hermione murmured sarcastically as she headed out of the Department and down to the next level.

“Are you going to wait for us?” Theo asked as he went over to the counter to stand in line so he could purchase his items.

“Nope, you both can shop on your own! I’ll figure it out myself.”

“Mi!” Nico whined, but she just shook her head and headed down the escalator. Not really caring if they couldn’t find their way back to Grimmauld Place.

The truth was, she was angry with herself. She’d completely spaced the gift, and now she wasn’t sure what to do!

As she continued to wander throughout the Department store, her eyes caught on a lingerie set in Slytherin green and she walked over towards the item with a small smile. It was cliche, but she knew Draco would love it. Picking out her size, she grabbed a few more items and headed towards the cashier, purchasing said items and moving along. When she walked down another flight, she found herself in the jewelry area where there were watches for men and women. She stared at a few of the nicer timepieces, unsure if something like this would violate the Pureblood giving jewelry rule which was antiquated and ridiculous—but something that clearly meant a great deal to Draco.

If she gave him jewelry, would that be too much too soon? Would he think she was being presumptuous? Did it really matter since she intended to keep the prat, and now that she’d admitted she was in love with him—why couldn’t she get him something special?

Ugh! And why did everything have to be so damn complicated?

Hermione perused the items closely. She recognized many of the names of the timepieces: Rolex, Omega, Breitling—but then she looked towards the right and there were several smaller alcoves with more exclusive brands like Cartier, Patek Phillipe, Jaegar-Lecoultre to name a few. As she browsed, a sales lady came over and gave her a dismissive look.

“Can I help you?”

It was clear from the tone of her voice, the woman was merely humoring her, but Hermione didn’t really care at the moment.

She was desperate.

“Maybe?” She sighed. “I’m sorry. I’m trying to find my boyfriend a gift for Christmas and I waited until the last minute. So if you could be patient with me, I think I’d like to get him a watch but I’m a bit unsure as to which one would be appropriate.”

The woman’s expression didn’t soften, but her eyes seemed amused as she asked, “Does he know watches?”

Hermione shrugged, her eyes wide. “I honestly don’t know.”

“That would be a yes.” Theo’s voice spoke up from behind her, and Hermione turned around to see both her cousin and Theo smirking at her.

“Seriously?”

“Mmhmm.” Theo mused as he eyed a few of the pieces. “Draco is rather particular. He has an original Vacheron that was his Grandfather’s. I believe it is called the Kalista and it was given to Lucius when he married Narcissa. Lucius gifted it to Draco on his fifteenth birthday.”

Hermione gave a sidelong glance at the saleswoman, who had gasped at the mention of the watch.

“I take it that one is valuable?”

The saleswoman nodded enthusiastically. “It is. The most expensive of the Vacheron watches.”

Hermione snorted. “Of course it is.”

Both Theo and Nico chuckled, and even the sales lady cracked a grin.

“What else Theo?”

The Nott heir folded his arms across his chest and stared her down. “Are you sure you want to do this, Hermione? You do know what it will mean, yes?”

“Shut it Theodore.” Hermione groused out petulantly. “I don’t need a lecture, just help me pick out something Richie Rich will like.”

Nico laughed but Theo just looked confused by the moniker. “Richie Rich?”

“Explain later.” Nico offered and Theo nodded as he walked over to one case and looked at a couple of pieces.

“Draco has a Chopard too.”

“Do you know which one?” The sales lady asked with interest.

“Yeah, it’s the 201 Carat Watch.”

Hermione thought the woman was actually going to faint. Her skin paled in shock, and she had to wonder just how expensive these watches were based on the woman’s reaction.

“I’m not made of Malfoy money, Theodore Nott.”

Theo snickered but eventually pointed to one in the case that he thought Draco would like. Hermione eyed the watch and then nodded to the woman, who quickly moved behind the case and took it out for their inspection. The face was a relatively simple Vacheron, white gold silver with diamond dial for the numbers. The band was the softest black leather, and the clasp was also white gold silver.

It was a stunning watch.

Hermione sighed and nodded, handing the timepiece back to the woman and then giving her the Gringotts credit card that looked an awful lot like the Platinum American Express Card.

Theo had a Black one.

Which meant Draco probably did too.

The woman took it with a nod and rang up the purchase, her face smiling widely when it went through with no issues.

She even gift wrapped it for her.

For the price of that watch, it was the least she could do—Hermione thought as she placed the wrapped box into her bag with a heavy sigh.

As they walked out of the store, Theo whispered into her ear—“You’re never getting rid of Draco if you give him that watch. You do know that, right?”

Hermione just glared at him, but didn’t respond as she led them both into the alley and Nico shadow-traveled with them back to Harry’s house.

They then floo’d back to Hermione’s home, and she headed straight to her room to place her purchases on her bed.

She pulled out the wrapped gift for Draco and stared at it for a few moments. She wasn’t having second thoughts at all, but she didn’t know if it was customary to get something like this engraved.

Perhaps it really didn’t matter as the watch was symbolic enough of her intentions.

Putting all her purchases away, Hermione went into her ensuite and turned on the faucet before waving her hand through the mist. She tossed in a drachma and said, “Oh Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow—please accept my offering and show me Draco Malfoy at Malfoy Manor...”

She waited with bated breath, unsure if the Goddess would allow the concession but after a few moments, she saw Draco’s smiling face staring back at her.

“Hey beautiful, it worked!”

“It did!” A delighted laugh bubbled out of her mouth, and Draco chuckled along with her. “What are you doing for Christmas Eve?”

“Nothing much. I’m here in my family library, reading. Mum is downstairs, making sure dinner is ready.”

“I can’t see much behind you.”

“I know how much you don’t want to come back here, but I’d so like to show you my library. I think you’d love it.”

Hermione smiled softly, as Draco was right and she would probably love it...if she could ever bring herself to step foot in his ancestral home again.

Maybe with time. It wasn’t his home’s fault that so many heinous things had happened there and on top of everything, Draco had to live there.

At least for the foreseeable future.

“Maybe someday.”

He didn’t reply, but Hermione could see the pained expression on his face. Instead he decided to change the subject.

“What did you do today?”

“Mostly getting everything ready for tomorrow. My cousin is here from America with the entire Dagworth-Granger family. Theo and Blaise have been coming and going, and Mrs. Weasley is planning on being here first thing in the morning to help with the cooking for tomorrow. Harry and Ron are coming with the rest of the family for breakfast.”

“What? No House Elves?”

Hermione scowled, folding her arms across her chest as she shook her head. “No! You know better than to ask that!”

His answering shite eating grin had her rolling her eyes in response.

“Too easy, love.”

“You’re a prat.”

“Your prat.” He bit back with a fond smirk. “What time would you like us there tomorrow?”

“Dinner will be served at four, but I would like to see you sooner if you’re feeling up to it. I think everyone is going to be doing an impromptu Quidditch game in the late morning. Breakfast will be at nine. There’s going to be a lot of people here.”

Draco sighed and nodded slowly. As much as he really didn’t care to spend his holiday with a bunch of Weasleys, he wanted to see his witch.

“I think we can come for breakfast.”

“Good!” She pulled out another drachma and threw it into the rainbow. “You’re Aunt Andromeda is going to be here with Teddy. I just thought you’d want to warn your Mother.”

Draco grimaced. He wasn’t sure how his Mother would take the news.

“I’ll let her know at dinner tonight.”

“Okay.” Hermione’s eyes were bright as she lifted her hand up to the mist and watched Draco do the same. “I miss you.”

She smiled inwardly when she saw Draco’s entire body sag with what looked like relief.

Did he really think she wouldn’t have missed him?

“Miss you too love.” His voice lowered a bit suggestively and Hermione couldn’t suppress the shiver at how sexy he sounded when his voice got all husky. “Will we get some alone time tomorrow?”

Her answering grin warmed his heart, and not for the first time he wished he was braver and could just say how he felt.

Tell her how much he loved her.

“I think that could be arranged. Did you have something specific in mind?”

She watched Draco lean forward and lick his lips seductively, his grey eyes blazing as he nodded firmly. “Yes. As a matter of fact Granger, I would very much like to bury my head between your delectable thighs and make—you—scream.”

Her answering fierce blush couldn’t be helped, while Draco just grinned lasciviously.

“Tomorrow love.”

“Tomorrow. Happy Christmas Eve, Draco.”

“Sweet dreams Granger.”

The message flashed and ended, and Hermione felt her heart clench as she stared at the space where Draco’s image had just been.

She honestly couldn’t wait to get back to school. This being apart, was a load of bullocks.

Shaking her head at herself, Hermione realized she sounded just like those girls back at Hogwarts during sixth year. In particular, Lavender Brown.

What she wouldn’t give to hear Lavender go on and on about beauty tips, hair, clothes or anything else that would strike her fancy. It was hard to remember why she’d ever disliked the witch in the first place.

All that pettiness seemed so superfluous and unnecessary now and she really was looking forward to tomorrow. She couldn’t wait to see the look on Draco’s face when she gave him his present.

Chapter Text

Hermione was awoken the next morning by screams coming from downstairs. Grabbing her wand, she cast a tempus and groaned when she realized it was already after seven and everyone would be there in a couple hours.

Tossing off her comforter, she quickly made her bed and then grabbed a fresh set of knickers, bra, jeans and jumper before heading into her ensuite to get ready for the morning. A quick ten minute shower had her refreshed, as she reached for a pair of knee boots and stockings. Pulling her hair into a ponytail, and spritzing a bit of perfume on, she headed downstairs and into utter chaos.

Mrs. Weasley was in the kitchen with Melinda, Hector’s wife and her sister-in-law—Corrine. All three women were bustling around taking pots and pans down, skillets were on the stove cooking rashers, sausages and eggs while on the counter top knives were chopping up tomatoes, peppers and onions.

Hermione smiled at how well in hand Mrs. Weasley seemed to be able to handle a kitchen and cooking for a large brood.

“Good morning.” She chimed merrily, causing all three women to smile at her.

“There she is!” Molly tutted as she came over and wrapped Hermione into a fierce embrace. “Such a lovely kitchen, my dear. Happy Christmas.”

“You too, Mrs. Weasley.”

Melinda moved over and pulled her into a warm hug after Molly started cooking the beans.

“Happy Christmas dear. Did you sleep well?”

“Yes, thank you. Where is everyone else?”

“Hector is in the study with Arthur, Bill and Fleur and Corinne’s husband Peter. I believe the younger ones are all outside flying this morning. It’s a rather pretty day—not too cold and no wind to speak of.”

“Do you need any help in here?”

“Oh no! Go and join the others, we have it all together. Breakfast will be ready at nine sharp!”

Melinda scooted her out of the kitchen and Hermione complied, knowing that she would only burn and ruin anything they’d have her help with anyway. Maybe she needed to learn to cook at some point especially since she simply refused to have a House Elf!

It was strange that witches and wizards didn’t believe in paying House Elves for their services, and Hermione had learned enough during fifth year to know that elves were a rather stubborn lot when it came to taking things like clothes, money or help.

Dobby had been an anomaly.

Thinking about the little elf who had saved their lives at the expense of his own, caused Hermione’s gut to clench. What would Dobby think if he saw Draco and Narcissa in her home? It was still hard to reconcile some days that so much had changed since the end of the war.

The truth was—everything had changed.

Hermione would be lying to herself if she didn’t admit that it had mostly changed for the better.

As she wandered down the hall and towards the library, she sighed heavily staring out the window and watching her friends and family flying around the grounds—laughing and playing Quidditch. Shaking her head, she couldn’t help but snort at how everything always seemed to come back to that infernal game.

Even Percy and Annabeth were learning how to play.

Nico was just sitting in the gazebo with Theo as they looked to be rather cosy huddled under a blanket with hot chocolate and a book shared between them.

Hermione smiled at that. Nico was happier than she’d ever seen him and Theo seemed equally as smitten with her cousin. They kept their PDA to a minimum around everyone else, as she could only imagine that Theo was taking things slow. Nico, even though he was born over seventy years ago, was still very much an almost fifteen year old. Theo would be eighteen in April, so they had about a three year age difference.

Checking the time, Hermione decided to grab a book and head for the floo room. Draco would be here soon, and she was anxious to see him. After their talk last night, her dreams had been filled with images of a certain blonde wizard doing unspeakable things to her.

The memory brought a wicked smile to her face.

She was turning into a wanton witch.

All thanks to Draco sodding Malfoy.

Perusing the shelves in the library, Hermione grabbed an old book on the Uses of Salamander Blood before she headed back down the long hallway towards her destination.

When she got to the floo room it was around eight-thirty, so she sat down in a comfy chair near the fireplace and began reading through the section on contraindications for Salamander blood usages. She became so engrossed in her book, that she didn’t hear the floo whoosh until a pale hand gently pulled the book from her grip.

Staring up into warm grey eyes that were watching her with amusement, Hermione smiled widely and stood up to greet her guests.

Narcissa was watching them both with a soft expression on her face.

“I’m sorry! I was...”

“Too far gone in your reading to be aware of anything else?”

She rolled her eyes at Draco who just enveloped her into his side and placed a quick kiss on her temple in greeting. Hermione’s amber eyes met the blue of Lady Malfoy and she nodded in welcome.

“Hello, Mrs. Malfoy. Happy Christmas and welcome to my home.”

“We are very pleased to be here Miss Granger.”

“I’m glad you both decided to come.” Hermione’s hand fell easily into Draco’s and she squeezed it before noticing that there was a few gifts on the table next to the floo. “I can take you to the tree room and you can place your gifts there if you wish?”

“Sounds like a plan.” Draco smirked as he picked up the presents and followed his witch and Mother out of the floo room and down a long hallway to another part of the Manor.

He looked around as they walked, and noticed the home was old. Not nearly as old as Malfoy Manor—but probably several hundred years. The walls were sparsely decorated, and a few of the smaller rooms they’d walked by were very minimalistic from what he could see.

It was clear that Hermione’s cousin had furnished the home somewhat, but there was still quite a bit of work that needed to be done.

He could see his Mother taking in everything as well.

“Do you plan to live here after graduation?” Narcissa asked politely and Hermione nodded.

“I think so. Hector was nice enough to help with some of the decoration and furnishings, but he felt I might want to add my own touches too. Not that I know much about interior design—but at least I don’t think I’ll be living here alone.”

“Really?” Narcissa queried with interest and with a quick glance over her shoulder, she saw her son’s slight frown. “Who will be staying here?

“Oh, Nico probably. He seems to like it here in England and I think he’d like to finish school?” Hermione shook her head. “We haven’t really discussed it, but he really does seem happier here.”

“That’s good.” Draco drawled, his voice clearly relieved and Hermione grinned at him over her shoulder.

“It is.” Was all she said, as they walked into the tree room where Hector was entertaining a few of their guests.

Everyone stood up when she walked into the room and Hector was quick to come over and make formal introductions.

“Hector Dagworth-Granger.” He bowed formally. “Welcome and Happy Christmas.”

Draco returned the gesture, noticing Arthur Weasley and his oldest son with the French witch from Beauxbatons who was their champion for the Triwizards tournament fourth year. Fleur Delacour and another wizard he didn’t recognize.

“Thank you for having us.” Draco replied evenly and Hector smiled as shook Draco’s hand and then took Narcissa’s hand and bowed formally over her knuckles in welcome. The regal witch just demurred politely, before gesturing to her son to place the gifts under the tree.

“What a lovely tree, Miss Granger.”

“Thank you. Theo and Blaise helped decorate the tree as well as the Manor.”

“Where are they?” Draco inquired quietly, unsure of the stares he was receiving from the others in the room.

“Outside. Did you bring your broom?”

Draco smirked, pulled out something from his pocket and then enlarged it.

“Breakfast will be ready in a few minutes, but I’m sure they’ll all being going back outside after to continue with their Quidditch game.”

“I’ll just go put my broom outside?”

“Okay, how about I show you?”

Draco took her hand and asked to be excused—Narcissa smiled, nodded and watched with a pleased expression as her son and his paramour walked out of the room hand in hand.

“I must admit, I almost didn’t believe Ron when he told us that the two of them were seeing each other.” Arthur’s voice wasn’t exactly friendly, but it wasn’t cruel or condescending either.

Narcissa turned to the wizard and smiled softly. “Lucius and I were surprised as well. Although I knew before my husband.”

“Where is Lord Malfoy?” Hector asked politely, and Narcissa’s expression changed immediately, her countenance giving away nothing as she replied, “He’s a bit under the weather.”

Arthur chortled, and Bill smiled while Hector seemed confused by their reactions.

“I’m sorry to hear that. Perhaps you might allow me to show you around the Manor. Hermione has been rather adamant that she would like to fix this place up herself but it might be nice to get a woman’s opinion other than my wife’s.”

“I would be honored.”

Hector offered his arm and together they moved out of the room, missing the looks of astonishment on the other faces present. When the couple was out of earshot, Hector sighed.

“Thank you for taking the time and speaking with me Lady Malfoy. I understand this situation has been difficult for your family as well as Hermione.”

“It hasn’t been ideal.” She admitted uncomfortably. “Draco has suffered tremendously and feels a great deal of guilt over everything that has happened to Miss Granger. I do understand being the Head of your House that it is your purview to act as an intercessor for Miss Granger, but my Son has told me that they are doing this their own way and Lucius and I have agreed to allow them both that courtesy.”

“I see.” Hector’s face fell a bit as he moved towards the solarium. “I feel I would be remiss in not expressing my concern over Hermione’s welfare. I’ve known for nearly nine years of her existence, and in all that time I have followed her life closely...or as close as I was able to from across the pond. Her Mother, Selene...was an exceptional witch and loved Hermione desperately. She sacrificed her own life to secure Hermione’s safety, and as such I feel I owe it to Selene to make sure that my cousin is treated with the deference she is due. Not because of her heritage but because she is a good, strong and loving witch who deserves nothing but the absolute best.”

Narcissa pondered Hector’s heartfelt words, and knew that this was his way of making sure the Malfoy family would not do anything further to harm Miss Granger. It must be a difficult situation to find yourself in, and Narcissa could appreciate that his only desire was to do that which he was entrusted with—making sure his cousin was protected and taken care of.

“I must admit to feeling a great deal of regret over certain actions that were allowed to take place during the war. As a mother, I’m sure you can understand and appreciate that all I’ve ever wanted was my son’s safety and happiness—but sometimes things do not go according to plan. It would be unseemly of me to not feel a large measure of gratitude towards Miss Granger for her kindness and ability to forgive and let bygones be bygones. I’ve seen how happy she makes my son, and I know he returns her affections wholeheartedly. I just want you to know that I will do all within my power to assure that they both obtain that which they desire. I cannot undo the past, as much as I might wish it, but you have my solemn magical vow that I will do all I can do assure their future is secure and safe.”

Hector was quiet for a few moments on the subject as he pointed out a few things in the drawing room as well as the attached study. When they found themselves walking back towards the others as Breakfast had been announced, he finally spoke.

“I accept your words Lady Malfoy and will take them at face value. Magic knows that I have little experience or knowledge in what life must’ve been like these past few years under the Dark Lord’s boot. I will be returning to America with my family in the coming days and I would very much hope that we can maintain a friendly correspondence. Hermione is fiercely independent, but I am her family and would only ask that you inform me if she requires anything. I would hope she might seek to come to me on her own, but I know it will take some time before she feels the bonds of family that her Mother hoped we’d share.”

Narcissa nodded in understanding. “I would be more than willing to do so. And please, do call me Narcissa. If I know my son, we will be family at some point in the none to distant future.”

“Thank you and please, call me Hector.” The wizard smiled genuinely. “And I do believe you might be right about that.”

“Oh?”

“Hmm...” Hector grinned mischievously, “Hermione came home yesterday from her shopping trip with a gift for your Son. If the whispered words of her cousin Nico and his paramour Theo are to be believed, I do think that she might’ve usurped proper Pureblood courting etiquette altogether.”

Narcissa’s face morphed into a rather pleased smile. “How intriguing.”

“Very.” Hector agreed easily. “I suppose we will know soon enough.”

When they got to the dining room, it was to utter pandemonium as the table that originally was to seat a group of twelve was magically expanded to seat sixteen Dagworth-Grangers, seven Weasleys, two Malfoy’s, Theo, Blaise, Hermione, Annabeth, Percy and Nico. George had declined the breakfast invitation but did reluctantly agree to stop by for dinner later on with Lee Jordan as had Andromeda and Teddy—who was suffering from an slight ear infection.

Hector took Narcissa over to her seat, next to her son who was sitting next to Hermione. Hector was at the head of the table with Melinda to his right and Hermione to his left. Arthur was seated next to Melinda with Molly on his other side and the rest of the family and guests were dispersed in the remaining seats with Peter and his wife at the other end of the table.

Molly waved her wand and all the dishes were uncovered from their respective stasis spells, and everyone dug in except the four demigods who plated their food and then turned to Hermione who nodded and stood. She then made her way over to the Hearth at the far side of room and waited with her cousins, who were all standing in their usual semicircle while the rest of the room quieted in confusion and expectancy.

Narcissa turned to her son to inquire what was happening but her Dragon’s subtle head shake had her sitting back and watching the scene with interest.

Not even a few seconds later there was a flash of heat and light, and then the hearth was burning and the Goddess, who now appeared to be around eight years old, smiled up widely at the four demigods.

They all bowed in respect.

“My Lady Hestia.”

The gasps behind them were not unexpected, but Hermione could only feel Draco’s eyes as they bored into her.

“Hermione. You have come to my hearth with an offering?”

“Yes, My Lady.”

Hermione moved forward and scraped off half of her portion, stating clearly ‘For the Gods’ before moving back and allowing her cousins and Annabeth to do the same. Once done, the Goddess smiled widely and said, “Your offerings are given and received most gladly.”

“Thank you, My Lady.” Hermione returned the gesture and bowed again.

The Goddess amber eyes burned as she observed those within the room, her expression placid before her eyes landed on the young Malfoy and she nodded once. Draco’s eyes widened, but he returned the gesture, feeling his Mother squeezing his hand in surprise.

Hestia then turned her attention back to Hermione.

“My dearest Hermione. May your home be blessed with love, safety and family always. I am the Last Olympian. When hope seems lost and life’s struggles appear grim—home, hearth and family is what binds us together. It is what keeps us strong.”

Her cousins and Annabeth turned to watch her, but Hermione’s expression was tremulous as she nodded at the Goddess.

“I ikoyénia den íne éna simandikó prágma. Íne ta pánda.” (Family is not an important thing. It is everything)

The Goddess expression was proud as she held out her hand towards Hermione, who walked over and opened her palm, allowing the small item to be placed in it. She stared down at the small, perfectly round onyx stone that looked like fire was bursting within it. Her expression was confused, and the Goddess tilted her head down towards the offering.

“Mia pétra thálassas. Tha prostatéfsei aftó pou eínai polýtimo gia esás.“ (A Ward stone. It will protect that which is most precious to you)

Hermione’s eyes widened as she closed her hand around the priceless treasure and blinked a few tears away. She looked up at her cousins and Annabeth, who all seemed stunned speechless.

“Thank you, My Lady.” Hermione said reverently as she took a small step back and bowed. “You have honored me greatly here this day.”

Hestia’s eyes flowed brightly and with a crackle of heat and flame, she was gone.

The room was beyond quiet as the four demigods made their way back to their original seats. Hermione set her plate down and felt Draco’s hand immediately settle on her knee. Her amber eyes met the warm grey ones and she smiled softly, however the moment was broken when Hector cleared his throat and said, “That was something.”

Hermione smiled at her cousin and nodded once. “I’m sure it must’ve been a bit of a stretch when my Mother let you know my heritage?”

The words were spoken softly, but everyone at the table hadn’t started eating yet, clearly more interested in the conversation.

“It was at first. But your Mother sent a memory vial with the necklace you wear and it let me know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was true.”

Hermione nodded solemnly and felt Draco’s hand tighten on her knee before she responded.

“She left me a few memories as well.”

“And have you taken the opportunity to look at them?”

Hermione shook her head in the negative, and when she gazed back up at her cousin, his smile was nothing but supportive.

“In time you might feel ready, but for now? Let’s enjoy this holiday as a family and renew those bonds with each other.”

Arthur lifted his goblet and said clearly, “To family.”

Everyone followed suit and repeated the toast. “To family.”

Hermione smiled widely at all her friend’s and family, her gaze landing on Nico who winked at her. Her grin widened for a split second and she instinctively reached for Draco’s hand on her knee and gave it an affectionate squeeze back.

Then they all tucked in to eat their meal and chatter flowed easily as for the moment, old rivalries and bitter feelings were laid to rest and all just enjoyed the peace, love and calm that came from spending the holiday in the presence of loved ones.

Hermione couldn’t remember a time that she’d felt more happy and settled than at this moment.

She felt truly blessed.

Chapter Text

After breakfast, Draco joined Harry and the others outside in a somewhat friendly game of Quidditch, while Hermione helped Molly with the kitchen clean up and it was around one o’clock that everyone came back inside for hot chocolate and to open presents.

And that was how Hermione found herself sitting by the tree as her cousin Hector started handing out gifts to everyone. They had all decided together that instead of opening gifts first thing in the morning separately, that they would wait until everyone was accounted for. Andromeda and Teddy had shown up just past noon, and Hermione had wondered just how awkward it was going to be with Narcissa and Meda in the same room.

When all the gifts under the tree were handed out, everyone started to open their presents. Hermione had a rather large stack, and as she started to open her bounty, Draco leant down and whispered into her ear, “The gold and silver one is from me. I would rather we exchange our gifts privately, if that is alright?”

Hermione looked up over her shoulder and nodded, as she pointed to her gift that she’d bought for him. Draco smiled softly and set it aside, not noticing his Mother giving Hector a singular look of interest.

Continuing on, Hermione smiled happily as she got her usual sweater from Molly and Arthur. She made sure to thank them effusively and Molly blushed at the praise. Harry, Ron and Ginny had gone in together and bought her a very nice tea set. Annabeth and Percy had purchased a set of fine raven quills and splatter and stain resistant ink wells with a plethora of ink choices and wax stamp with the Dagworth-Granger crest on it. Blaise had gifted her a set of fine crystal angel Christmas ornaments. Nico and Theo had gotten her tickets to Phantom of the Opera at the Majesty’s Theatre in London during Spring Break. Hermione had hugged them both, which had made Theo uncomfortable and Nico had just grinned at his cousin, knowing how much she wanted to attend the popular performance.

Hector and Melinda had given her a new desk for her study which would be delivered the following day and Peter and Corinne had gotten a beautiful chair to go with it.

Andromeda and Teddy had gotten her a photo album with her initials on it and Narcissa had gifted her with a lovely antique silver hair brush, comb and mirror set for her vanity.

When all the gifts had been opened and hugs given all around, Draco picked up his gift from Hermione and she vice versa and he handed her his box and then levitated her other items—following her upstairs to her room so they could exchange their gifts in private.

They both tried to ignore all the curious sets of eyes following them as they left the room, but Draco caught Nico’s eye and the demigod winked at him, causing a smirk to form on the older wizard’s face.

When they got to Hermione’s room, Draco set her gifts on a table near her closet and then moved to sit down next to her on the edge of her bed.

“So?” He swallowed heavily as he stared at the two boxes. “Do you want to open yours first?”

Hermione sighed and nodded, handing Draco his gift from her as she fiddled with the silver and gold wrapping on the present.

“It’s not going to bite, I promise.” He grinned, and she snorted as she realized how ridiculous she was being before slowly unwrapping the gift.

Once the paper and ribbon was set aside, Hermione stared at the antique wooden box that had the Faberge crest on the front of it. Her eyes widened in shock and then flew to Draco’s as she gently opened the lid and gasped at the exquisite egg inside.

“Oh, Draco...” she breathed in wonder as she reverently took the egg from the box and saw him pull the box to the side as she stared in awe at the priceless gift.

She just knew it was real.

And was probably over a 100 years old.

“This egg belonged to my Great-Grandmother Luilla Malfoy. It was given to her by my Great-Grandfather Macrinus on their wedding day.”

“I can’t...”

Draco shook his head emphatically. “You most certainly can, love. I know you’re not ready for jewelry yet, but this shows you and everyone else my regard for you and my intentions for our future.”

Hermione’s hands were shaking as she tried to catch her breath. She felt a twinge of guilt as she had given Draco that impression.

And then subsequently obliterated it with her own gift.

Hopefully he wouldn’t be too upset.

By the look in his eyes however, Hermione could tell he was more concerned about her opinion of his gift.

“Open it.” He whispered, so she did and her hand flew to cover her sob before she gently pulled out the perfect red enamel rose with pave diamonds glittering all over it.

“It’s so beautiful.” Her emotive voice cracked on the last word as a single tear fell from her eye. Draco smiled and wiped it away, his thumb caressing her cheek tenderly...his own eyes filled with emotion. “It’s too much.”

“It will never be too much Hermione.” He tilted his head down and kissed her lips with a feather light touch. “Never.”

Her face broke out into a happy grin and Draco returned the sentiment. He watched with a smirk as she stood up and set his gift in a place of pride on her vanity, putting up protection spells around it to keep it safe and secure.

Once that was done, she came back and sat down, nudging her shoulder against his. “Open your gift.”

Draco didn’t need to be told twice as he excitedly ripped off the paper, and then stared at the lacquered wooden box, his own eyes wide and disbelieving.

His grey eyes shot up to the serene amber ones that were watching him and he waited with bated breath until she said, “Open it silly.”

“Granger...are you sure?”

“Very. Open the box Draco.”

He nodded, swallowed and pulled the box open, his breath hitching on the stunning piece of workmanship inside.

A Vacheron Constantin Watch in what looked to be white gold silver with a diamond numbered face stared back at him. He slowly took the watch out and held it in his shaking hands, staring unseeingly at his witch.

“I thought...” his words broke as he bit his lip hard, his own eyes filling with reluctant tears.

Hermione took the watch box and placed it on the chaise lounge next to her bed, before taking the item as she reached for Draco’s left hand—placing it on his wrist and then once it was secure, she lifted his knuckles and kissed the inside of his wrist, closing her eyes in contentment.

When she opened them, her lips parted at the heated stare Draco was sending her way and without warning he grabbed her with his other arm and pulled her underneath him on her bed before he kissed her fiercely.

Hermione didn’t hesitate as she returned his kiss with equal ferocity, her hands pulling on Draco’s hair as he pushed her up the bed before straddling her with his body.

Then it was a race to see who could undress whom first.

When he got finally got her jumper off, as well as her jeans, Draco growled as his brain finally caught up with the rest of him.

He just stared gobsmacked at the vision beneath him.

Wearing a barely there set of Slytherin Green lingerie that had him aching.

“Fucking Salazar!” He whispered greedily as their gazes locked and he couldn’t help but feel a rush of masculine pride when his witch smirked back up at him.

“Happy Christmas Draco. This was your other present.”

Draco hummed deeply as his finger grazed down Hermione’s chest and circled around the outline of her bra that was barely covering anything.

“Best Christmas ever.” He grinned wolfishly before leaning his head down and proceeding to make good on his earlier promise of last night.

Thankfully he remembered to cast a silencing and contraceptive charm and then they were lost to each other for a while as ozone filled the room and Draco realized he’d never get tired of the smell of fresh wind and rain or the overwhelming essence that was his witch.

He was a very happy wizard indeed.

It was some time later that found the two still in Hermione’s bed, with her straddling him and their fused bodies rocking together slowly as they kissed languidly—breathing each other in. Their murmurs of passion were interspersed between deep kisses and playful nips and just as Hermione was about to reach her peak, there was a knock on her door.

Draco groaned out in irritation, his hands firmly clamped onto his witch’s hips—refusing to break their rhythm.

“Don’t stop.” He growled, his voice wrecked as he circled his hips aggressively, smirking when Hermione moaned his name. He stared into darkened eyes, that were more beautiful than anything he’d ever seen and his heart stuttered as he clasped her head into his hands and kissed Hermione deeply before pulling away and whispering, “I lo...”

The knock returned, drowning out Draco’s words as it came a bit more urgently and then Harry’s voice broke into their bubble.

“Mione, everyone is looking for you! Dinner is almost ready.”

Hermione glared at the door, while Draco just snarled, summoning his wand and waving it, instantly dropping the silencing charm.

“Piss off Potter!” His voice grated out angrily as he simultaneously moved his hips upwards harder, causing Hermione’s voice to let out a loud stuttered squeak.

There was a moment of silence and then a fist slammed against the door, causing Draco to snort out a guffaw while Hermione rolled her eyes at how immature both he and Harry still were.

So she smacked him on his chest in retaliation.

Which earned her an even wider smirk for her troubles and a more forceful snap of his hips in retribution.

“You’re such a prat.” She tried to make her voice sound stern, but it just came out as a breathy whine.

“Your prat, my love,” his voice was strained too and his grip tightened as he raced them both to the edge. “Are you almost there?”

“Yes...” she hissed and a few thrusts later, her body shivered violently as she came—allowing Draco to follow her with a relieved groan that almost sounded pained.

They stayed that way for a few moments, foreheads touching and wrapped around each other before Draco sighed and waved his wand, shaking his head when he realized it was nearly four o’clock.

They’d been up here for a couple hours.

Hopefully her cousin Hector wouldn’t curse him for taking advantage of Hermione.

“We should probably get cleaned up and dressed.” He offered, resigned.

“I suppose.”

They slowly disentangled their bodies and not having time for a proper shower, Draco waved his wand casting several cleaning and refreshing charms over them both. Hermione then spritzed a small bit of perfume on her wrists before reaching for her clothes and getting dressed.

She watched Draco do the same, a pleased grin making its way onto his smug face.

“Did you have to antagonize Harry?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact I did. We were right in the middle of something important and whilst I understand he’s your best friend, he could’ve sent his patronus instead of coming up here and personally interrupting us. He obviously still isn’t keen on us being together, which I do understand love. But come on? Would you have gone up to his room and pounded on the door like some protective older sister, if he’d been shagging the Weaselette?”

Hermione sighed heavily in consternation as she walked into her ensuite to brush her hair, pulling it up into a ponytail. It was rather messy.

She really didn’t want to acknowledge that Draco made an excellent point.

When she came back out, he was sitting fully dressed on the edge on her bed, staring down at his watch with a small smile.

“Do you like it?”

His gaze lifted immediately and he nodded. “It’s perfect. How did you know?”

“Theo. He helped me pick it out. Warned me too, of the significance—as if I didn’t know.”

Draco stood and held out his hand, which she took without hesitation and he pulled her from their privacy and back to her guests. “Theo’s a good chap.”

“He is.” Hermione agreed easily. “Nico likes him rather a lot.”

“I think the feeling is mutual.”

When they finally made their way downstairs, all eyes were on them. Annabeth, Percy and Nico were smiling while Blaise and Theo just snickered. The Weasleys were wearing various expressions ranging from disbelief to shock to disgust (Ron). Ginny just gave her a thumbs up and Hector seemed bemused.

Narcissa was standing with her sister, who whispered something into her ear, and they both nodded and had matching smirks plastered on their faces.

Just like Draco’s.

Fucking Blacks.

Harry just stood there pouting and Hermione rolled her eyes at him.

“Glad you both could join us.” Hector said finally, breaking the awkward silence.

The chortles, guffaws and snorts (George) caused Hermione to blush while Draco just pulled her tighter into his side, glaring at everyone.

“Sorry we missed the fun.” He drawled, clearly not sorry at all.

Hector’s lips twitched in wry amusement, and Narcissa took that as her cue to run interference.

“Did Miss Granger like her gift?”

Hermione smile brightened and she nodded enthusiastically. “It was lovely Mrs. Malfoy. Truly an exquisite gift.”

Narcissa returned the friendly gesture. “I’m glad.” Her gaze narrowed on her son, whom to his credit—didn’t flinch under her scrutiny, but then sighed—clearly put upon as he held out his hand, the watch shining brightly on his wrist and Narcissa oohed as she lifted it up and nodded in approval—her blue eyes shining in happiness before she smiled genuinely at the young witch and said, “Well done.”

Hermione blushed at the compliment as she felt Draco’s lips on her head, while everyone just stood there stunned.

Then Ron broke the sweet moment.

“You gave him a watch?”

“Oh shite.” Theo mumbled while Draco’s gaze narrowed at the red-head—who’s own expression was livid.

“Ron...” Harry’s voice came out as a warning, but clearly his best friend wasn’t listening.

“Are you mental, Mione!?”

“Ronald Weasley!” Molly screeched, walking over and grabbing her son’s ear, his pained flinch was immediate and rather funny. “You will not be disrespectful of Hermione in her own home, do you understand?”

Ron mumbled something unintelligible, but he seemed to be chastened and silent for the moment.

Hermione sighed as she watched her best friend, realizing that now was probably as good a time as any to get this out of the way.

“Ronald, I know our past with Draco has been less than positive—but can’t you just trust in me for once? This is my choice—my life. I don’t expect you or Harry to be best friends with Draco but I do expect you to honor my choices and respect our friendship enough to know I would do the same for either one of you. Do you not want me to be happy?”

Ron grumbled chastened and even Harry looked down, shame-faced as they both shuffled their feet.

“You both really are two of the biggest dunderheads, you know that—right?” George piped in with a disgusted sneer. “Mione’s always taken care of you both, saved your sorry arse’s and even though I’m not a fan of Malfoy’s—if he makes her happy then who are we to judge? She obviously sees something good in him we’ve all missed.”

George then turned and eyed the blonde with a maniacal off putting grin. “And you hurt her? They won’t find your body—ever.”

“George Fabian Weasley!” Molly’s voice was apoplectic, but Draco just chuckled—impressed and nodded.

“Point taken, Weasley.”

“Good.” Was all George said, and that it seemed—was that.

Chapter Text

Being in the Underworld wasn’t anything like Lucius had expected it to be. Hades castle made Malfoy Manor seem like a summer cottage in comparison. The rooms were dark, dank and cold...and it didn’t matter where Lucius went in the large mausoleum, he always felt like someone was watching his every move.

Flashback

When he’d materialized after he’d disappeared from the Hogwarts infirmary, he found himself in a large room, much like the Manor’s drawing room just much...much larger. There was a huge fireplace protected by some kind of woven metal grate, hundreds of sconces that were lit from every part of the room and a three tiered fountain filled with fire. There was a banquet table with a smattering of delicacies on it, a large iron and velvet cushioned chair at the head of the table and another matching one in front of the fireplace. His eyes caught on a bookshelf to the right, and his eyes had widened at the titles of the books.

Grimoires...most of them. Some in Ancient Greek, others in dead languages Lucius didn’t know. The darkness pervading from the texts caused him to shiver in dread. And then his eyes widened on a black book under a glass bell shaped dome. He moved towards it and gasped in wonder.

The Egyptian Book of the Dead.

He could only imagine what heinous Magic’s and other things were located in all those books.

His eyes scanned the room again and there were no windows or doors of any kind in this room, but there was a set of stairs leading up towards a landing of sorts that led to another set of wider stairs that seemed to lead up to another level.

The he’d heard the growling.

And when he’d turned his head, his heart nearly stopped—for crouched down on all fours and snarling at him were two large hellhounds.

He almost wished he’d taken the other punishment.

The hellhounds moved down towards him, their jaws snapping as they bared their teeth and gnashed as him, causing him to move back in fear. He opened his mouth to call for help, but no sound came out and his hand instinctively went to his throat in panic—where the collar that Hades had placed was immovable.

Fuck! He was going to die and no one would hear his screams!

Just as one of the hellhounds was about to pounce—a stern female voice from somewhere he couldn’t see said, “Páfsi!” (Halt!)

Lucius gaze locked onto a woman of surpassing beauty, her long dark hair falling to mid-back. Her dark eyes were warm as she considered him. Her skin glistened in the low light like melted chocolate and her figure was hugged perfectly in a corseted dress with heeled boots and gartered stockings that were temptingly on display.

This was the Goddess Persephone.

Wife of Hades and Queen of the Underworld.

He watched as she waved off the hellhounds, calling them by names he didn’t recognize and the beasts heeded her order, as they snarled once more and left the room entirely.

Lucius stayed completely still, unclear as to what to do. He couldn’t communicate with the Goddess, so he was unable to share with her how he’d come to be in her home.

From the smirk on her face, Lucius had to wonder if she didn’t already know exactly why he was there.

“Ah, a Visitor.” Persephone purred as she sauntered seductively over, her eyes glistening with an emotion Lucius wasn’t sure he wanted to know.

She looked almost feral.

Then suddenly, there was a wave of heat throughout the castle and Lucius noticed the Goddess rolling her eyes in disgust.

“Persephone!” A deep voice bellowed.

She snickered and then grinned as she stood there, unspeaking—her eyes continuing to rove over his form as she licked her lips in appreciation.

“Persephone!” The same voice crackled in irritation, but the Goddess just snorted and waved her hand in the air as if she was saying ‘whatever’ silently.

Lucius smirked and then Hades growled out a third time—“Persephone! What are you doing? Don’t ignore me!”

“Or what?!” She screamed, clearly enraged. “What will you do?!?” Her eyes flittered back to Lucius and she grinned. “I’m already in Hell.”

Lucius returned the expression and chuckled silently, enjoying this a bit too much.

The Goddess winked and then beckoned him to follow her, which he did.

Together they walked down a long corridor, passing by several large metal doorways...each more ornate than the next. When they finally arrived at the end of the hallway, there was another three tiered fountain full of fire, large columns that formed a semi-circle into an even larger living room where Hades was sitting on a throne of sorts, petting one of his hellhounds who was rumbling happily at his Master’s attention.

“Ah, I see you’ve met our new guest?”

“Yes. Do I want to know why we have a mortal in our midst?”

“Besides the obvious?”

The Goddess glared at her husband. “Why do you do this?” She huffed.

“I’m sorry my angel—but I’d thought you’d might enjoy your own pet. He will be staying here serving in the castle for a while at the behest of my Niece.”

Persephone took a step back, stunned by that admission.

“You bestowed a favor?” She scoffed.

“Nonsense,” Hades admonished easily, “a gift for a gift.”

Persephone lifted an eyebrow, her expression clearly intrigued.

“And just what, pray-tell—did dear Hermione have to barter with?”

Hades smirked but didn’t reply, which caused the Goddess to throw her hands up in the air unhappily.

“He can’t even speak!” She growled, pointing to Lucius like he was some defective toy.

“Oh, I’m sorry my dulcet dove...I didn’t realize I was required to bring you a pet that was fully housebroken. Perhaps you might find some other way to communicate with your new servant?”

“You’re impossible! It’s winter! Which means I’m going to be stuck here for three more months with a servant who can’t speak!” Her eyes settled back on Lucius and she walked over, running her finger along his shoulders as she looked him over thoroughly. “He is rather pretty.” She hummed, lifting a long blonde strand of hair with interest and rubbing it between her fingers. “I’ve never seen hair this color. Is it real?”

Lucius snorted silently and looked affronted as he flinched away, while Hades just chuckled condescendingly.

“I suppose you will have time to figure that out for yourself, my treasure. For now, I have work to do.”

Hades stood up and walked over to his wife, her expression softening momentarily as she eyed him speculatively. “So he’s mine for the next three months?”

Hades nodded, grinned and whistled a happy little tune as he walked down the hallway, the hellhounds following him eagerly.

When the Goddess faced him the smile that split her face had Lucius wondering just what he’d gotten himself into.

End of Flashback

 

Lucius didn’t know how much time had passed since he’d been bartered into service in the Underworld, but it seemed interminable and frankly, he hadn’t been allowed to sleep or eat for as long as he could remember.

Somehow, the God of the Underworld had changed him so that he was no longer controlled by such mortal urges as hunger, tiredness or even having to go to the loo. And since the Gods were immortal, he was basically in their service 24/7. At first, Persephone had been flirtatious and had even insisted he be required to dress in traditional Grecian garb as he followed her around the Castle. She fashioned a leash off his collar, and he was required to feed her—bathe her and give her massages daily. She would talk non-stop about her life in the Underworld and over seven thousand years worth of stories, fights and misunderstandings...the Goddess just wouldn’t shut up.

Ever.

Lucius would have to run and hide whenever the two Gods would get into one of their tiffs. When Persephone realized after too long, that she couldn’t seduce him—she’d become short, caustic and would often screech out her anger in the most unpleasant of ways.

Then there were the screams.

At night, he could hear the screams of the souls filtering throughout the castle on a never ending loop. If he’d thought what he’d had to endure under the Dark Lord had been brutal—hearing the torment of those lost souls being punished made Lucius shiver with dread.

Would that end up being what awaited him when he left his mortality behind?

All his bad choices seemed so much more heinous in the darkness of the Underworld.

It made him feel regret and remorse for the first time in his life.

However, nothing could’ve prepared him for the truth that awaited him as he found himself walking with Hades through the Underworld.

“I do hope you’ve enjoyed your time here.”

Lucius was thankful for once that he couldn’t respond—as he silently followed the God towards the Fields of Asphodel.

As they walked, Lucius found himself wandering through grassy fields full of small Burroughs of what looked to be cottages situated on a never-ending field of neutrality. Trees were interspersed within the enclaves, small knolls rolled across the horizon and Lucius could see that while this place wasn’t much—there was an inherent calm that pervaded over everything.

“These are the Fields of Asphodel,” Hades began with a dismissive wave of his hand, “the River Lethe is the gateway to the Underworld. Here, those souls who’ve led ordinary lives find peace and rest in their mediocrity. For some, who’ve contributed nothing to life—they are required to drink from the Lethe and have all their mortal memories removed. They know no joy, nor sadness—feel no love nor hate—They just are.”

Hades obsidian eyes rested on Lucius with a smirk as they continued on their chosen path.

“For some, who’ve led good lives—but not heroic ones—they can find a measure of peace here with their families. They are allowed to rest from their labors and enjoy everlasting tranquility.”

Lucius nodded absently, as he followed Hades through the Fields that let to a large outcropping and a valley below. In the distance Lucius could see the shimmering golden gates that he knew led to Elysium.

“Ah yes...Elysium...and in the center of it resides the Isle of the Blest. Demigods may be reborn and if they die thrice a hero—their reward is assured. Mortals may reach Elysium—if they choose to go through judgement and if they are found to be a paladin of virtue and honor—they will receive eternal rest there.”

Hades again eyed him critically. “I do believe your friend, Severus Snape has found eternal rest in Elysium. The man went through judgment, believing he’d be found unworthy and would suffer endlessly in the Fields of Punishment for his sins. He was not happy when he was not judged thusly. Strange, for a mortal.”

Lucius face fell, as he stared out to the shining glory of the Underworld.

He knew he’d never be found worthy to find peace there after all he’d done.

From the smug look on the God’s face, Hades knew it too.

He then swept out his hand and suddenly, Lucius found himself following the God through a darkened area that reeked of...death. When he looked back, there was nothing but a heavy fog permeating over the grounds and then suddenly before him stood blackened gates looming over him that were at least sixty meters high. With a wave of his hand, Hades opened the gates and they stepped through the fog—and that was when he heard it—the screams of terror.

The shiver that racked through his body only caused Hades to chuckle ominously as he led Lucius down a steep gorge, the pathway jagged and treacherous. For every step he took, Lucius felt the weight of some undefinable force pressing down upon every part of his body. It was like there was a set of hands, pushing him down...down into the abyss.

If he could breathe, he knew he’d be hyperventilating at this point.

The screams got louder the further they walked down the path until they stopped. When Lucius turned around, there was nothing but deep blackness and then suddenly a gate appeared from nowhere, and Hades waved it open...gesturing him to enter.

He didn’t want to, but Lucius figured it wasn’t an option at this point.

So he walked slowly through, and waited until the God moved in front of him and then a bit further into the darkness it cleared—and Lucius gasped...

It was his ancestral home.

He could feel his whole body shaking, spiking with adrenaline as he continued to walk through the hedges, and up to the front door.

Which was open.

He stepped up hesitantly into the entryway of his home and noticed it was decorated exactly as his Mother had done it, when he was a small boy.

He followed the God down towards the dungeons, and Lucius felt the coldness seeping into his bones as the dread settled like a lead weight into the pit of his stomach.

Once they’d reached the barred door, Lucius flinched back as he heard it...

His Father...

He was screaming in terror.

Hades chuckled as he opened the gate and moved into the cramped dungeon...the smell of urine, feces and blood was overwhelming.

But nothing could’ve compared to seeing his own Father—shackled to a table while a visage of his wife—Lucius mother—tortured him over and over again.

He couldn’t move...couldn’t breathe...couldn’t do anything but watch in horror as every vile thing his father had perpetuated during his years as a Death Eater...was inflicted upon him ten fold. His screams were...

Lucius shook his head as he tilted his head down and closed his eyes in shame.

Was this what awaited him when he died?

“Your Father...was a truly vile man.” Hades voice was emotionless as he spoke. “We reap what we sow, yes?”

From there the God of the Underworld waved his hand again and they were gone from that place. Lucius heaved a sigh of relief as he felt bile working its way up to the back of his throat.

A bit further into the darkness they went until they came to another gate...this one blood red. Hades chuckled and waved his hand—and as the door opened the smell of death was overwhelming to the point that Lucius almost fainted.

And then he heard the screams.

He didn’t immediately recognize the voice, but when they came to the end of the path—a building and a graveyard emerged.

Lucius recognized it immediately and then he saw...

Him.

Lord Voldemort...

The wizard was screaming as he was thrust into a grave site and buried alive...

Over and over again.

At the point of death...it would being again.

Lucius stared at the God of the Underworld, finally understanding what he was seeing.

The Fields of Punishment made you relive your worst fear—over and over again for an eternity.

“Ah, you understand now, yes?”

Lucius nodded, unsure of what he would say if he’d had the chance. The choice.

Then soon, he found himself one last time in front of another gate. This one was open and he could smell the blood from here.

And when he walked through the gate...he could see pools of blood everywhere.

And then he heard the screams of terror and his whole body froze in recognition. As he moved fearfully down the pathway, he stopped as he was back in the drawing room of his Manor except this time—it was Bellatrix who was immobilized on the floor. There was a mirror directly above her and her own knife was slowly carving the word ‘mudblood’ into her flesh...over and over again.

Her eyes were wide with pain and terror as she pleaded for it to stop.

“I’m not a Mudblood!” She screamed, as the word continued to be carved into her flesh.

Lucius heard a deep chuckle and turned to face Hades, who was grinning maniacally at the mad witch. Lucius legs nearly buckled at the hate and malice he saw in the God’s eyes.

He was enjoying this.

When obsidian locked with grey, Hades grinned ferally—his whole demeanor radiating utter darkness.

“You seem surprised.” He said easily and Lucius just stared in shock, knowing he couldn’t speak and not sure what to do.

Hades then crouched down and stared directly into Bellatrix’s face, her own contorted in excruciating pain as she pleaded for it to stop.

Hades just laughed.

“Now, now—my dear Bellatrix. Why would I ever stop this punishment? You carved that blade into my family—nearly killed my Niece...”

The word ‘Niece’ was hissed out with such anger...it took Lucius aback momentarily and then he realized that the God of the Underworld—was enacting his own punishment on behalf of his Niece.

Miss Granger.

Understanding dawned on Lucius face, as he watched the scene before him.

“You will suffer for an eternity. You are nothing but a mudblood.”

Bellatrix whimpered and shook her head, pleading...no, no, no...over and over again.

“Yes...” Hades hissed as he grabbed the blade himself and carved the word directly into the same spot that the mad witch had done to his Niece. The pain was intensified a thousand fold and Lucius cringed back at the high pitched screams from his former sister-in-law. The blood flowed from her mouth...eyes...nose...arm—muddied black onto the ground...Mudblood...

It was a punishment worse than death.

Once he was oddly satisfied with his handiwork, Hades stood up and smiled. He then turned to Lucius and said coldly, “This will be your only warning Lucius Malfoy. You have allowed harm to come to my family. I may not be her Father, but I can offer retribution in my own way. You’ve been given a gift...one that if you don’t choose to use wisely will be to your ruin. Remember that.”

And with a snap of his fingers, Lucius found himself back in the drawing room of his own Manor...collapsing onto the floor as unconsciousness overtook him.

Chapter Text

In the ensuing months after Christmas, a welcome calm had pervaded over Hogwarts and Hermione found herself immersed in her studies as she religiously prepared for her NEWTS. She and Draco had finished their project, had successfully improved upon the original Wolfsbane recipe and Damocles Belby had been so impressed—he’d offered to share in the discovery and the patents with both herself and Draco.

And it would be published by year’s end in the leading Potion’s journals which had made Hector extremely proud that the traditions of the Dagworth-Granger’s excellence in potioneering—was living on through her.

In a few years they’d give it one final shot on Beltane—and Hermione had a few years to perfect the potion once again...hopefully making it into a single dosage taken once a month...on the night before the full moon.

Draco had been thrilled for varying reasons, but the biggest one being that this would hopefully change people’s perspective about him being nothing more than a failed Death Eater. He’d even managed to procure brewing rights to make Wolfsbane himself, and he was hopeful that he could offset some of the cost to those who continued to suffer from Greyback’s wartime bloodlust.

Hermione had shown him effusively how wonderful she’d thought he was several times...and Draco had actually been if not friendly—somewhat more pleasant to those at school in the process of his continued relationship with his witch.

As Easter approached quickly, Draco had received a missive from his Mother that his Father had shown back suddenly at home...unconscious and a bit worse for wear. To date—he’d refused to discuss with his Mother just what had happened whilst he’d been serving his punishment in the Underworld, but according to his Mother—Lucius seemed rather subdued.

Valentine’s Day had been interesting as his witch hadn’t wanted to celebrate a holiday she’d felt was rubbish with no value whatsoever. Draco had planned on giving her a gift, but she’d gone on to explain vehemently that if he tried...she’d hex him good and proper for his troubles.

So he’d shagged her silly—all night long.

It was far preferable, if Draco was being completely honest with himself.

Theo and Nico were progressing along nicely too. They were still very discreet and didn’t openly engage in public displays of affection, but the entire school had figured out the two were dating exclusively.

Draco had caught them one night in the Astronomy Tower...snogging rather heatedly.

He’d thought he had disappeared before being noticed, but Nico’s sharp gaze had landed on him the next morning at breakfast and Draco had just shook his head at the young demigod and winked back at him, causing the Son of Hades to actually smile.

Percy was still studying with Astoria Greengrass in Potion’s and Defense and Annabeth had taken it upon herself to befriend the young witch and her older sister...utilizing the old battle strategy of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.

Astoria wasn’t exactly subtle with her interest in Percy, but to his credit—the demigod didn’t encourage the younger witch at all. It was clear to see to everyone that he and Annabeth were fated for each other.

Potter and Weasley had tried to put aside their inherent distaste for their best friend’s relationship with Draco. A couple times they’d come to Hogsmeade to visit and after a rocky start...Harry had warned Ron to let it go. Harry knew that this thing with Malfoy was serious, and as much as he didn’t care for the ferrety git...he did care for his best friend more and wanted her to be happy. He’d taken Draco aside and done the customary threatening to Avada him if he hurt Mione...and Draco had just been his usual snarky self before assuring the Boy Who Lived that his only priority was Hermione’s happiness.

But he still hadn’t been able to say those three little words yet.

Hermione had been mum on the subject as well, and Draco had come to the conclusion that she didn’t want to force his hand, nor make him declare himself before he was ready.

She truly was selfless and he was a prat.

He’d have to return back to the Manor for the Easter hols and as much as he wanted to see how his Father was doing, it was a stark reminder that exactly a year ago his witch had been brought to his Ancestral home as a prisoner of war and had been tortured in front of him.

And he’d done nothing to stop it.

So, in the days leading up to break, he’d been moody and aloof—and Hermione had finally reached her breaking point the evening before they were to leave for London on the Hogwarts Express—when she confronted him in their room.

“Draco, what is Merlin’s name is going on with you this week?”

He sat back and stared into the fireplace the Room of Requirement had conjured for them, as he refused to look over at his witch. He wasn’t sure how to tell her what he was thinking and feeling without having to dredge up all those horrid memories from a year ago and yet...it wasn’t like they’d be able to ignore it either.

Sometimes he’d wished more than anything that he had a time turner and could go back in time and make a different...a better choice. Fuck! Who was he kidding?

Choices...many of them.

He sighed inwardly, feeling Granger’s eyes boring into him and he tried not the fidget under her weighted stare.

“Talk to me, please.” She said lowly, and as Draco turned to face her, he felt his whole body sag in defeat as he took in her expression. She looked as if she was bracing herself for something truly awful and it made him feel like an even bigger git.

“I’m sorry,” he began hesitantly, “I know I’ve been in a mood this week.”

“Really?”

The word was tinged with sarcasm, but there was an underlying concern there as well—one he simply couldn’t ignore.

Reaching for her hand, Draco was relieved when Granger gave it to him without hesitation and he wasted no time pulling her into his side, placing a soft kiss on the crown of her head as she burrowed herself comfortably into his warmth.

“I’ve just been thinking about how much I don’t want to go home for break.”

“Why? Did something happen with your parents?”

Draco just shook his head, amazed that his witch—who’s heart was more forgiving than anyone he’d ever known—hadn’t even considered the real reason.

“My parents are fine—for the most part Granger. It’s just, going back there—this time of year brings back memories I’d rather not think about.”

He felt her stiffen in realization and then felt her sigh against him as she whispered out a pained, “oh.”

“Hmmm,” he gripped her tighter into his side reflexively, unsure how to broach this particular subject. “We’ve come so far this year but there’s so much of our history that makes me feel as if I’ll never truly deserve you. Going back to that place? Remembering what transpired there a year ago? It makes me ill just thinking about it.”

“I see.” She murmured as they were both contemplative for a bit, and Draco had to wonder what Hermione was thinking.

“Do you?” He whispered and she nodded in response.

“I do and as much as I wish I could tell you to forgive yourself—because I’ve forgiven you...I know that’s easier said than done.”

Draco pulled her up to him and resettled Hermione so she was straddling him. He wanted to see her face if they were going to have this discussion.

“But why Granger? Why have you forgiven me after all the hateful things I’ve said and done?”

“Draco, if you’re expecting some big explanation I’m not sure I have one to offer. I’ve told you that I’d always hoped there was a good person underneath all that hatefulness you used to spout as a boy and I’d like to think I was right. But beyond that, I remember what you looked like sixth year and how utterly lost and alone you were. I meant what I said in the letter to the Wizengamot during your trial, that I can’t imagine what life must’ve been like on your side of the war. I don’t think anyone can. The horrors, atrocities and fear your must’ve faced isn’t something I can just minimize by saying ‘Draco deserved everything that happened to him because he was on the wrong side’—that isn’t just nor fair.”

“It hasn’t stopped others from thinking and saying it.”

“No, but people are always going to have their opinions, right? What does it matter as long as we know where we stand with each other?”

Draco half-smiled at his witch and shook his head in wonder. “Why did you choose me?”

Hermione’s expression faltered for a split second as she hadn’t expected this segue in their conversation.

“You mean, why didn’t I choose Luke?”

Draco nodded. “I’m not an idiot Granger. I’d guessed what the gift was that Nico, Percy and Annabeth gave you for your birthday. I also surmised that you left that gift behind when you took your little jaunt to the Underworld to see Luke. Your Uncle indicated as much that day in the infirmary after my Father disappeared.”

The smirk that fell over Draco’s features, only widened at the shocked look on Hermione’s face.

Did she really think he hadn’t figured that out?

“Draco...” Hermione bristled uncomfortably, “That’s...” she paused and swallowed, staring over Draco’s shoulder as she bit her lip trying to figure out what she wanted to say and to his credit, Draco didn’t get upset but sat there and patiently waited for her to speak.

“Look—when I went to talk to Luke he made it perfectly clear he didn’t see himself returning, especially if he couldn’t guarantee that the things that caused him to make the choices he had would still be an issue. I gave him the gift because I felt I owed it to him and the choice needed to be his, and his alone.”

“So you didn’t give it to him in the hopes of him coming back to you?”

“No. I love Luke but I’m not in love with Luke. I’ve told you this before.”

Draco nodded as his jaw clenched, noticing that she didn’t say that she was in love with him either.

“I see.” Was all he could get out.

Hermione sighed and then accio’d her beaded bag to her, reaching her hand in and pulling out something into it. After a moment she opened her hand up and Draco’s eyes widened at the smooth onyx stone that was attached to a goblin silver chain and seemed to radiate a kind of magic he’d never felt before.

“What is that?”

“This is what Lady Hestia gave me on Christmas.”

“I’d wondered what it was, but you never mentioned it again and neither did Nico. I just figured it was something to protect your home?”

Hermione smiled, but shook her head at him. “Mia pétra thálassas...a Ward stone.”

Draco’s eyes widened as he hissed in recognition. Ward stones were simply unheard of anymore, as the witch or wizard who created one had to be not only extremely powerful, but have complete control over their magic and enough reserves of magic to create one without permanently draining or damaging their magical core. Certain kinds of stones were favored, but none was more so than Black Onyx—which was not only a powerful protection stone—but able to absorb negative energy, as well as prevent the drain of a wizard’s personal magic in battle.

“Lady Hestia gave this to you? Why?”

Hermione smiled softly as she placed the necklace around Draco’s neck, watching his eyes widen as he stared at her in wonder.

“The Goddess told me to bestow this upon whom is most precious to me. That which I wish to protect. I had the Goblins fashion it into something you could wear and I just received it back this past week.”

“Granger...” Draco stuttered in shock as he felt the magic of the stone accept him. “I can’t...”

Hermione placed her fingers against his lips and shushed him. “You can, silly wizard.”

He shook his head and said hesitantly, “Why are you giving this to me?”

“I’d thought that was rather obvious.”

Draco’s heart started racing as he just stared into warm amber eyes and then shook his head again—causing his witch to roll her eyes playfully at him.

“Draco...is it really so hard for you to believe that I care deeply for you?”

Grey eyes widened as he picked up the stone in his hand and felt the weight of it, his mind racing with a million thoughts—but the one that kept pervading over all the others was, “How deeply?”

He watched avidly as Hermione’s expression softened and then she leant forward and kissed him gently, to which he immediately responded in kind. As she pulled away, he grasped her head within his hands and kept their gazes locked—waiting anxiously for her response.

After a few moments she grinned and said, “Stubborn Slytherin. You’re really going to make me say it first, aren’t you?”

Draco didn’t deny it at all, he simply nodded and smirked at his witch’s light giggle before she took her hand and ran it soothingly through his hair, causing him to briefly close his eyes in bliss.

“I’m in love with you Draco Malfoy. I think I always have been.”

His eyes shot open as he gaped in shock at his witch, surprised that she’d finally said it and then his face broke out into a blistering smile.

“I love you, too.” He was surprised at how easily the confession had come from him.

The answering relief in her eyes, let Draco know that despite his own shortcomings in being able to express his emotions—at least in this one instance—he’d gotten it right.

The next morning they were all on the Hogwarts Express, and then Draco found himself back home. His Mother as always, was excited to see him while his Father was rather quiet. Lucius had just nodded in welcome before they sat down for dinner.

During the meal, his Mother had kept a steady stream of conversation flowing but every so often, her gaze would move to his Father’s and her brow would furrow in confusion and worry. Finally towards the end of dinner, Draco decided to figure out what in Merlin’s name was wrong.

“Father?”

Lucius glanced up and cleared his throat before speaking. “Draco?”

“What is going on?”

“What do you mean, son?”

Draco set his fork and knife down and stared disbelievingly at his dad.

“Mum has written and said you’ve not been the same since your trip to the Underworld. Did something happen we need to know about?”

Lucius turned to his wife, who wouldn’t make eye contact with him and sighed.

“What would you both wish to know?”

“You weren’t harmed, were you?”

Lucius shook his head in the negative. “Not physically—although things work a bit differently there.”

“In what way?” Narcissa inquired softly, intrigued.

“Well, time is much different there. I can’t explain it exactly but I couldn’t sleep or eat. Whatever the God did to me when I was sent there, changed my physical body in such a way that I was no longer ruled by it.”

Both Draco and Narcissa sat back stunned. This was not something that either of them had considered a possibility.

“And the Goddess?” Narcissa’s voice held an edge that had her husband smirking.

“When she realized she could not seduce me, she became rather vexed. She also saw fit to share with me much of her long and contentious history. I do believe that the Lord of the Underworld and his wife have a very complicated relationship.”

Draco smirked, remembering Granger’s patronus message from when she’d been stuck there under a shield charm while Nico’s father and step-Mother destroyed everything around them.

“What else?” Draco asked lowly, and when his Father’s grey eyes caught his—they seemed truly haunted.

“Before I left, I was taken on a tour if you will. Miss Granger’s Uncle felt it necessary to show me a few things there. I must admit, I’m still trying to process everything.”

“Lucius,” Narcissa reached for his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze, “what did you see?”

The Lord of the Manor took a fortifying sip of his elf made wine before he spoke. He had spent the last month at home going over every interaction he’d had with the God of the Underworld from the time he’d gotten to his home until he’d been summarily dumped back into his own.

There were some things that still didn’t make sense to him but a few things had become rather clear fairly quickly upon returning home.

“I was shown the Fields of Asphodel and it was explained to me what kind of souls are offered eternal rest there. He then took me to a large hill and I could see Elysium below,” Lucius shook his head for a second before continuing, “I can’t explain the majesty of that place. The Fields of Asphodel are stark, barren and neutral. Elysium and the Isle of the Blest shine like golden tares of sun within a barren wasteland. The stark contrast was almost too much to bear.”

“I know a bit about the Underworld from Nico,” Draco admitted, “and I know Granger went there to see someone she’d lost from their Titan War.”

Lucius nodded, taking another sip of his wine. “Severus is there, apparently. He chose to go through judgement, convinced he’d be found unworthy and would suffer in the Fields of Punishment for all eternity.”

“Judgement?” Narcissa asked and watched her husband swallow uncomfortably as his face paled.

“Hmm,” he nodded once, “mortals have the option to go through judgment. Those who don’t take that route have their minds wiped by drinking from the River Lethe—which is the gateway to the Underworld. Those mortals who choose to face judgement can be rewarded or punished accordingly based upon how they’ve chosen to live their lives.”

“I see.” Narcissa’s voice was uncertain and her blue eyes held her husband’s until he looked away, ashamed. “Is there ever an instance that a mortal would face punishment if they chose not to go through judgement?”

Lucius stared at his brilliant wife, understanding fully what she was asking and he simply nodded.

“The God of the Underworld has ultimate domain. He can decide to forego judgement if he feels a soul...”

The thought was left unfinished, and Lucius could see both his wife’s and son’s eyes widening in understanding.

“He took me to the Fields of Punishment. What he chose to allow me to see is not something I can or will ever be able to unsee.”

Draco nodded slowly, his body shaking as he could only imagine what his Father must’ve witnessed.

“Whom?” Narcissa’s voice was small but steely, and Lucius knew he needed to be honest with her.

With both his wife and his son.

“When we reached the Fields of Punishment the darkness was like nothing I’d ever seen or felt. The gates were sixty meters high at least and when we passed through them—the screams were terrible. You could smell the death and feel the darkness pulling down upon you—like a physical weight pushing you into the ground.” He noticed his son flinch while his wife just stared at him in horror.

“We walked down a steep gorge for an interminable amount of time until we reached an open gate and walked through. I then found myself back here, in our home except it wasn’t. When I walked through the open front door, the Manor looked much like it did when I was a small boy. I was lead to the dungeon and that is when I heard the screams and smelt the stench of bodily fluids.”

Lucius hand was shaking badly as he tried to reach for his wine, but his wife beat him to it and held out the glass for him...offering him a small sip of liquid courage. Lucius smiled gratefully at his witch and sat back.

“I recognized the screams. It was my Father. He was bound and being tortured by a visage of my Mother—“

The gasps from his family were to be expected...

“The Lord of the Underworld indicated that Abraxas was a truly vile man in life. I didn’t realize exactly what was happening though until a bit later when I saw the Dark Lord.”

Draco hissed in shock while Narcissa paled.

“What happened?” Draco demanded.

“The Fields of Punishment make you relive your greatest fear endlessly for all eternity. The Dark Lord was buried alive over and over again until the point of death...only to replay on an endless loop. His screams were terrifying if not oddly deserving.”

Narcissa smirked while Draco nodded in agreement.

“Was that all there was?” She asked and when her husband looked at her, his eyes were filled with reluctant tears as he shook his head in the negative.

“No. I was taken to one more place and this time, I came to understand perhaps for the first time in my life—the consequences of my poor choices and what I’ve allowed to happen here within our own home.”

“I don’t understand Father.” Draco was perplexed, unsure as to what could’ve happened that was worse than seeing his own Father or the Dark Lord.

“I was led back to our drawing room. But this time it was Bellatrix I saw.”

His eyes locked onto his wife’s and he could see the fear there. His body shivered at the memory. The look on the God’s face as he carved into his sister-in-laws flesh and the satisfaction he’d derived from it.

“Bellatrix was bound on the floor. There were mirrors on the ceiling so she could see everything that was happening to her. She was unclothed and her own blade was carving the word ‘mudblood’ over and over into her flesh. Her screams were terrified and she pleaded for mercy...”

Lucius couldn’t look at his wife, because he knew what her expression would be and he was too much of a coward to see what his choices directly and indirectly had wrought upon his family.

“Father?” Draco’s voice cracked and Lucius turned to his son with a lifted eyebrow in response. “Was that all?”

“Isn’t it enough!” Narcissa’s voice was shrill. “Why did he feel compelled to show that to you?”

Lucius grimaced but he knew that he needed to explain to his wife, why he was forced to witness something so beyond vile.

“We reap what we sow.” Lucius said flatly. “The God told me as much. He then took the blade in hand and carved the slur into Bellatrix’s flesh in the exact same spot she did to Miss Granger. The God’s words were unforgiving. He called Bellatrix a mudblood and the blood that ran from her mouth, nose and body was muddied black. Her screams were a thousand fold to those of his Niece...and he referred to her as such. He warned me that even though he is not her Father, he would enact his own retribution to those who have harmed her. Cissa, we have done Miss Granger a great disservice. I have been allowed to see just what our choices in following the Dark Lord have wrought upon my soul. I do not wish that for you or Draco to suffer a similar fate. I would like to think I am not beyond saving, but remain uncertain.”

Narcissa wiped the tears from her eyes as she considered her husband’s words. Her sister had been lost to her a long time ago, but it didn’t hurt any less to hear of her suffering. The fact that the God of the Underworld was enacting his own retribution was not something that could ever be dismissed and by the look on her Dragon’s face...he knew it too.

Draco stared at his Father, watching the myriad of emotions playing out over his countenance. His normally stoic father looked utterly defeated.

“Why do I feel that’s not all there is to this?” Draco asked warily.

“I have wondered something similar Draco. Certain things have come into play that have left me wondering if there wasn’t more to be taken than just face value from His words. He told me I’d been given a gift and to not squander it, but I must admit I can’t understand exactly what that gift might’ve been.”

“You were allowed to serve your punishment there instead of Azkaban.” Narcissa admonished but Lucius just shook his head.

“No, that is not it, Cissa. Miss Granger secured that gift on her own, it had nothing to do with me. I’ve racked my mind around the different possibilities and all I can think of is this—the God of the Underworld cares for Miss Granger in whatever way that is true for him. She is his family, a fact he was quick to point out and remind me of most viscerally. The Gods cannot interfere, at least from what we’ve seen they are bound by the fates much in the same way we are. Miss Granger was attacked, at the behest of her Father’s wife. Her own Father cannot interfere, her Uncle cannot do so either...”

Draco’s face paled in shocked understanding. “So that leaves?”

Lucius nodded. “When I first arrived at His home, I was left momentarily in a room where there were texts of Ancient Grimoires, including the Book of the Dead.” At his family’s gasps of wonder, Lucius just continued on...

“From what we know, Miss Granger has been attacked with an Ancient Greek curse that needed to be healed by her Brother. So while it’s possible to fatally injure a demigod magically...”

“Would the same hold true for the parent?” Draco finished and Lucius smirked knowingly.

“I have spent the past month asking myself that very question. My guess? It would need to be something that couldn’t be cured but by the hand of the caster.”

“The Malfoy Family Grimoires.” Draco breathed out, in sudden understanding.

“Yes.” Lucius replied, looking at his Heir with pride. “I do believe while you are home Draco, we need to decide how best to handle this situation.”

The young wizard just bowed his head in acknowledgment, hoping that his Father was correct in what he was surmising. His witch’s life might very well hinge on it.

Chapter Text

When they’d returned to Hogwarts the following week, Hermione had met Draco on the train and had excitedly told him about the Opera she’d seen over break. She had taken Annabeth, as he hadn’t been able to attend with her—but she had brought him some kind of program, which he’d looked through and asked many questions.

An Opera about a Phantom?

He’d initially inquired if it was some kind of ghost story and his witch had just laughed and told him that it wasn’t.

He’d then promised to take her again when he could go with her and she’d jumped onto his lap and kissed him breathless.

Draco figured for that kind of reaction he would take her as many times as she wished to go—as long as he benefitted like this from it.

When Granger had asked him how his Easter Break had been, he’d reassured her that everything had been perfectly fine and that he’d spent the majority of his time reading in the family library. She’d Iris Message’d him once...thankfully, while he was actually in said library doing his class work for school. His Mother and Father had been there too, and they’d been astonished by the Godly form of communication then had peppered him with questions about it afterwards. He’d shown his Father one of the drachmas that Granger had given him and Lucius had just nodded—intrigued— while his Mother had wondered if it was possible for witches and wizards to use it as a form of communication.

Draco had told her he didn’t think so as Hermione hadn’t been entirely sure the Goddess would allow her to communicate with him directly. They’d both been pleasantly surprised that it had been allowed.

But that was his witch—she liked to bend the rules to her whim. A fact he was appreciating more and more everyday.

She could be quite Slytherin when properly motivated.

Draco had also shown his Father the watch that Hermione had gifted him for Christmas and Lucius had been oddly pleased, but when Draco had confided to his parents of the other gift...they’d been downright flummoxed and rendered speechless. He had lifted it out of his shirt and both his parents had come over on either side of the couch to get a closer look at the priceless treasure. Then Draco had shared the story of how Hermione had come by the rare relic and his Father had that knowing glint in his eye that had left him feeling uneasy.

After that conversation, he and his Father had spent an inordinate amount of time going over the family Grimoires until they’d found exactly what they were looking for. That it ended up being a curse created by the Founder of the Malfoy Family—Armand Malfoy—well, that had been surprising as the Malfoy Family’s history with Dark Magic was rather unprecedented—and to have to go back so far to find what they were looking for? At one point Draco had despaired that he and his Father wouldn’t succeed. It all seemed so surreal.

But then again, this entire situation was exactly that some days.

The return feast seemed to drag and the first week of classes after break hadn’t moved along any faster. Granger was in full study mode by weeks end, with color coded charts and planners for everyone. When she’d given Draco his at the end of class the second week, he’d just cocked a disbelieving eyebrow at her—reminded his witch he wasn’t Potter nor Weasley and as much as he appreciated her controlling tendencies in some things—this wasn’t one of those times.

She’d huffed at him, then turned around and flounced out of their potions classroom while his two best mates just smirked at him.

He’d always known that his Granger was a swot, but seeing it up close and personal was beyond anything he could’ve ever imagined. And by the fourth week back from break, it was really starting to worry Draco. She hadn’t even been out to see Zee since they’d been back—a fact he reminded her of the last Saturday of April.

“Come on Granger,” Draco pleaded, as he found her buried behind a wall of books in her usual spot at the back of the Library. “Let’s go and get some fresh air. It’s a beautiful day and you haven’t seen Zee since we’ve been back from Easter hols.”

Her amber eyes lifted to meet his and he could see the repressed guilt there, so he decided to use that to his advantage.

“I’m sure he’s missing you. He’s still a juvenile and he has bonded with you. Don’t tell me do-gooder Hermione Granger can’t spare an afternoon?”

Her eyes narrowed at him, but he just kept his most knowingly irritating smirk plastered on his face and it widened when he saw her shoulders fall in defeat.

“Fine, Malfoy. But only because I do need a break.”

“Of course love.”

Once the school books were put away and her supplies placed back inside her beaded bag, Draco offered his arm and the two of them walked together out towards Hagrid’s hut.

Most of the other students didn’t even pay them much mind anymore. When they’d returned from Christmas, and word had gotten out about the gift Hermione had given him...the whispers and looks of shock and anger were to be expected. Eventually, one of the younger students from Ravenclaw, a fourth year—had made a rather hateful comment about Granger being a ‘Death Eater’s Whore.’ She hadn’t heard it, but one of the ghosts had and told Nico post haste. To say that the demigod was furious, would’ve been a cataclysmic understatement. That night at dinner, he’d walked into the Great Hall, his aura cold and forbidding as all the Hogwarts ghosts floated after him like his own personal sentries. Everyone had felt his power viscerally—as he walked over to the Ravenclaw table and asked to speak with the offending student in question outside. The boy’s face had paled, as had many of his classmates at the table—except Luna, who appeared oddly pleased. When Nico had returned a few moments later, he’d walked with purpose over to the Slytherin table and sat down next to Theo, who gave him a look of concern but by the subtle shake of Nico’s head—it told everyone in Slytherin that he would not be discussing it right then and there.

The Ravenclaw had eventually returned to the Great Hall, his body shaking and expression pained. When one of his classmates asked him what had happened, the kid had told him and from there word had spread like wildfire throughout the school. Nico di Angelo had eyes and ears everywhere, and would not tolerate anyone speaking about his cousin in such a hateful way. When Hermione had eventually found out, she’d given Nico a warm hug and whispered something into his ear that had caused her cousin to blush profusely.

But he’d smiled too.

And that had been the end of it.

As they reached the forest’s edge, Hermione’s silently called for Zee and after several moments, they heard the crunching of the underbrush as Zee emerged. He snorted out in welcome and then trilled happily as he lowered his snout to Hermione and nudged her affectionately.

“Daughter of Sky has been busy.”

Hermione sighed, and nodded before speaking up so Draco could hear at least part of their conversation. “Yes, but it’s no excuse, as Draco here reminded me.”

Zee’s yellow eyes turned to Draco and he chuffed, blowing smoke and swishing his tail at the wizard. He then, lowered his snout down even further and ‘sniffed’ Draco, who just stood there calm and composed. He knew that Zee wouldn’t hurt him as long as he didn’t sense anything aggressive towards himself or Hermione.

“Hmm...the wizard and you are a mated pair?”

Hermione blushed deeply, which caught Draco’s immediate attention as he asked, “What did Zee just say to you, Granger?”

Clearing her throat awkwardly, Hermione just shrugged but by the expression on Draco’s face he wasn’t fooled in the slightest. He turned to Zee and said, “I assume you can understand me?”

Zee chuffed again and then bowed his head almost as if he was saying ‘yes’ with the gesture. Draco nodded and then continued, “My witch has been spending too much time studying and not taking care of herself. I thought perhaps you might distract her for a bit?”

The pitchy trilling noise that came from the Dragon seemed to indicate he was alright with the request. Granger just huffed and folded her arms across her chest in irritation.

Zee almost seemed amused by that as he snorted out a plume of smoke at her and her look of incredulity had Draco chuckling.

“The wizard belongs to you?” Zee asked again and Hermione just sighed and nodded again. Yellow eyes turned back to Draco for a split second before they were once again giving Granger their full attention. “Do you belong to him?”

Hermione chuckled and said, “Yes.”

Zee’s tail swished in a wide arc and then he lowered his entire body to the ground. “You may bring him along if you wish, Daughter of Sky.”

Hermione’s face dropped in shock for a split second before a huge smile split over her features. She grabbed Draco’s hand and tilted her head towards Zee. “He is willing to allow you to ride with me, if you like?”

“What?!?” Draco sputtered dumbly, his grey eyes wide and disbelieving.

“Come on Malfoy? Don’t make me repeat it. Do you want to, or not?”

His mouth opened several times but no sound emerged. Hermione held out her hand, which he took immediately, following her onto Zee’s back. Once they were situated with him sitting behind her, Hermione pulled out her wand and then said, “Zee, I’m going to use magic to harness Draco to myself...is that alright?”

Zee snorted and when Hermione waved her wand, Draco realized that Zee must’ve given his permission. Draco wrapped one arm around his witch and the other he used to steady himself on the dragon’s back while Hermione grabbed both hands around a couple scaly protrusions on Zee’s back and once they were settled, Zee crouched down and then vaulted himself up into the sky.

Draco found himself laughing in joy right alongside his witch as Zee zipped and glided over the grounds of Hogwarts. Many of their classmates were also outside enjoying the beautiful sunny day and Draco noticed quite a few them pointing their way, as he and Hermione flew over the castle and down towards the Black Lake.

It was almost an hour later when Zee landed back in the meadow just inside the Forbidden Forest, his tail swishing happily as Draco dismounted first and then helped Hermione down to the ground and then pulled her into his side, kissing her temple lovingly.

“That was amazing, love!”

Hermione’s laughter bubbled throughout the glade and Zee trilled happily as he nudged the both of them with his snout.

“You are better now?”

“Yes Zee, Thank you.”

Draco nodded to the dragon and then bowed in respect. “Yes, Thank you for allowing me the honor to fly with you today. That was the best flying experience of my life.”

Zee chuffed and blew smoke at the both of them, causing another fit of laughter to erupt. Hermione then held her hand out to the dragon, who instinctively lowered his snout again and allowed his bonded God-witch to pet him. His yellow eyes then fell to the the pale wizard and he trilled again, causing the human male to smirk. When the pale wizard held his hand out tentatively, Zee pushed his snout into the hand in welcome and noticed the wide smile on the young wizard’s face.

Zee apparently, would be sharing his God-witch with this human wizard. He didn’t mind, as he sensed no danger from him.

Once he’d had enough, Zee chuffed and moved away—heading back into the forest and to his fellow dragons.

Draco watched the majestic Hungarian Horntail take flight, and once he was gone—Draco lifted Granger into his arms and twirled her around in a circle—their smiles wide and happy.

“I take it you enjoyed that?”

“Yes, witch! That was...” Draco shook his head, not wanting to admit how much of a dream it had been for him as a child to have a dragon of his very own. He’d begged his Father and Mother for years...but had been told that owning one was illegal, and even with all his family’s galleons, such a gift was not possible.

Hermione watched the various emotions as they played over Draco’s face. There was awe, elation, wistful sadness and an almost disbelief behind his gaze—as if he just couldn’t fathom that he’d just ridden on a dragon!

“Let me guess? This fulfilled some deep boyhood fantasy?”

Draco looked up shocked and nodded dumbly. “Yes...but how?”

“Did I guess?”

Again Draco gestured in the affirmative and Hermione just smiled and shrugged. “Well, I remember a very jealous Draco Malfoy first year who tried his hardest to get myself along with Harry and Ron in trouble because of a certain dragon that belonged to Hagrid.”

Draco blushed at the rebuke in his witch’s voice but he couldn’t deny it either.

“Then fourth year?”

“Hmmm,” Draco coughed uncomfortably and pulled her into his side. “Fine, you’re right. As always. When I was a three I asked for a dragon for my birthday and then every year after that until I turned nine.”

Hermione turned into his embrace and felt Draco’s arms envelope her as he pulled her flush with him. She ran her fingertips over the back of his neck and hummed thoughtfully.

“I wish I could’ve seen what a three year old Draco Malfoy was like?”

His expression turned smug instantly as he quipped, “He was adorable.”

“Really?”

“Yes.” Draco admitted with a wink. “He was intelligent, bossy, self-assured and spoiled rotten by both his parents.”

Hermione threw her head back and laughed outrageously, as she could well imagine Draco being all those things as a child, before her face morphed into a soft expression.

“I’ll bet he was the cutest thing too...”

“Maybe?”

She leant up and kissed him softly, humming when Draco’s hands moved up to cup her cheeks tenderly as they kissed languidly for a few moments. When he finally pulled back, he deadpanned, “I’m sure when we have our first son, you’ll get an up close look at just how adorable I really was.”

Hermione blushed, but bit her lip in contemplation as her eyes lit up at the thought.

“I’m too young for children, Draco.”

“Of course love. I fully expect it will be years before that happens. I don’t plan to share you with anyone for a while—not even our own son.”

“You seem rather confident that our first child will be a boy?”

Draco just shrugged in reply. “Well, there hasn’t been a female born into the Malfoy Family in a very long time. I must admit, I never thought I’d want children, but now? I’m actually finding myself more accepting of the idea every day.”

“And why is that?”

Draco’s expression changed in that instant and Hermione’s breath hitched at how open he looked.

“Because you’ll be their Mother and I know that no matter what happens, you will never allow our children to turn out like me.”

A single tear fell from Hermione’s eye as she choked on a sob at how utterly vulnerable Draco appeared. She kissed him again and when she pulled back, she whispered, “I think our children will be the best of both of us, don’t you?”

His answering nod and half-smile warmed her heart. Whatever Draco Malfoy’s misdeeds had been, one thing was certain—he’d loved his family and would do anything to protect them.

Chapter Text

The next month was busy for everyone. Nico, Annabeth and Percy were studying along with all their classmates and even though they were exempt from taking their OWLS, each one wanted to gage just how far they’d come by year’s end.

The Headmistress had decided to allow the demigods to sit a modified exam schedule if they chose to do so. Annabeth was thrilled, Percy less so—although he was quite proficient in both Potions and Defense (which hadn’t been a surprise at all). He’d even started working with Seamus and Dean in secret before Christmas on some of the things that Harry had taught them in Dumbledore’s Army fifth year.

In Potions, Astoria Greengrass was still his partner and had been all year, much to Annabeth’s chagrin. The younger witch was nice enough, but Annabeth was getting a bit tired of the witch mooning all over her boyfriend as if she would ever stand a chance with him.

That was why one morning about a month from the end of school, Annabeth had noticed that something was wrong with Percy.

In the mornings, he’d often seem confused and scatter-brained as if he couldn’t remember things that had happened the day before. When Annabeth would gently ask if he was feeling alright, he’d get short and storm off in a huff. Mi had noticed by the fourth morning, and had offered to take Percy to see Madam Pomfrey, but Annabeth had just excused it as stress and the studying—which Percy had never really excelled at.

He did have ADHD after all.

So Hermione had let it go, until the following Saturday when Nico had found her in the library with Draco and literally screamed that she needed to come with him RIGHT NOW!

Hermione and Draco grabbed their wands and Nico shadow traveled with them both outside on the grounds—near the Black Lake. When they’d gotten there, Percy looked like he’d just come out of the water as his hair was still wet even though his shorts were dry. Annabeth was talking loudly, but Percy was looking right through her like he didn’t recognize her at all, and Hermione could see that he was confused and getting angrier by the second.

Hermione went to walk over when something happened that she’d never thought she’d see in a million years as Percy growled at Annabeth—as she reached for him—and then he flung her off him...hard. She stumbled to the ground, in shock as Percy hissed, “I don’t know who you are, but don’t touch me!”

That caught everyone up short as Annabeth’s eyes widened in fear.

“Percy! What are you talking about?”

The demigod just shook his head in fury. “Why are you calling me Percy?”

“Cause that’s your name!” Annabeth cried, as she tried to reach for him again.

Hermione glanced at Nico, and he shrugged as if to say, ‘I have no idea.’

Looking around, Hermione noticed they were drawing the attention of several of their classmates, so she figured she would need to try and diffuse this and see if she could get Percy to the infirmary.

She walked over cautiously and smiled reassuringly at her cousin.

“Hi, I couldn’t help but overhear what was going on. Can I help?”

“Who are you?” Percy’s expression morphed into a sneer worthy of third year Draco and Hermione felt her heart pounding in her chest as she came to the sudden realization that somehow, someone had tampered with her cousin’s mind. She watched Percy dress himself in agitation as she considered how best to have this conversation.

“I’m your cousin,” she offered slowly, “I think you might’ve hurt yourself somehow and I was wondering if perhaps, we might go inside to the infirmary and have the school Mediwitch look you over?”

Percy took a wary step back as he shook his head in the negative. “I don’t have a cousin.” He said roughly. “Who are you?”

“My name is Hermione, but you call me Mi.”

In that moment, Percy’s entire demeanor shifted into something darker and more sinister as he snarled in hatred. “YOU!” He pointed in rage. “You did this to me?”

“What?!” Hermione paled as she shook her head. “Percy, I would never harm you. Not ever!”

“Liar!” He hissed as his powers started to manifest and Hermione looked back quickly at Nico.

“Get everyone out of here, Now!”

Nico nodded, but Draco hissed as he pulled his wand on the demigod Son of Poseidon.

“You need to chill out Percy,” Draco warned lowly. “Hermione is telling you the truth.”

Percy drew his own wand immediately which had Hermione doing the same. Annabeth was stunned as she took a step back, unsure of what to do.

It would be debated for years afterwards, who exactly threw the first spell, but all hell broke loose in a matter of seconds. Hermione cast a shield to protect Draco and herself as she screamed for Nico and Annabeth to get the other students out of there.

Nico grabbed Annabeth’s arm, pulling her along as she fought him—screaming out in worry and anger.

Things rapidly deteriorated from there as Hermione called down her powers and sent a stunning spell directly at her cousin, knocking him back fifty against the rocks, but Percy was barely fazed as he sent back several curses in succession—with a slicing hex burning through Hermione’s shield and hitting her arm causing her to cry out in pain.

Draco roared with anger as he sent barrage after barrage of spells at the demigod—one more powerful than the next but nothing was working. For every spell that hit Percy, it would just be absorbed and dissipate like it was nothing...

It was then Draco realized what was happening.

Percy had taken a dip in the Styx...

He was invulnerable...

He yelled for Chase, but wherever she was—it wasn’t where she could hear him. He moved closer to Granger, who was desperately trying to disarm her cousin, and he could see her magic flaring to life as she sent out power to power against Percy...with little affect.

“You won’t be able to take him down Granger!” Draco yelled through the din of ozone and the crackling of spells hitting his shield. “Chase knows where his vulnerable spot is. I need to find her!”

Hermione nodded, as she sent a reductor curse at Percy’s feet, blasting him back into the water. Draco took that moment to run towards the castle where the other students were watching in fear and awe.

“Chase!” He screamed loudly several times before the demigod ran to him, her face covered in tears.

“What?”

“Where is it Chase?”

“What?!?” She yelled again and then paled in sudden understanding, shaking her head ‘no.’

“Yes!” Draco screamed. “Granger is powerful but she’s not invulnerable!”

At that point Blaise, Theo and the other Gryffindor’s and Slytherin’s came running towards them.

That was when they all heard a roar of water and a crackling explosion like thunder rolling over the grounds...shaking them.

Draco ran back towards Hermione, but Nico held him back—

“Draco...” Nico breathed out lowly, “you can’t go back there! You have no idea just how powerful Percy is.”

Draco paled. “What do you mean?” He cringed as the ground shook again and then there was a blast of heat and everyone ignored Nico’s warning as all the students were gaping over the stone walls at the scene below.

Percy had literally catapulted out of the water and created a typhoon, sending it directly at Hermione but she called the winds to her and blew him back as hard as she could. She slashed her wand and sent a bolt of lightening into the water, hoping to slow Percy down—but it just made him angrier.

As they continued to fight magic for magic and Godly powers in full force—Hermione could feel her magic draining. She looked at her cousin and the rage on his face and she knew this was a fight she wasn’t going to win. He was for all intents, invulnerable—and she simply wasn’t. She was already cut and bleeding along her arms and legs and a gash had formed over her eye, blood pooling into her line of sight.

She cast healing charms as fast as she could but it simply wasn’t enough and then finally, it happened—Percy sent a reductor and disarming spell at her in rapid succession. The curse blew her off the ground over 100 feet into the air, her body slamming against a tree and the last thing she thought she remembered, was the sound of Luke’s voice—calling Percy’s name.

Chapter Text

“Percy Jackson!” The deep voice called from his left and Percy halted, as he stared at the tall, blonde man who had stepped out from the tree line and directly into his sight.

Annabeth’s breath hitched as she heard the voice too, and she whispered, ‘Luke’ as she stared over the rock wall and down below.

Draco blanched and halted, as he had made to run towards Hermione when he’d heard the voice and then Chase’s words stopped him. When his eye caught Nico’s, the younger demigod nodded.

“Shite.” Whispered Draco, as he ignored Nico’s shaking head and stealthily made his way to where Hermione was lying unconscious and bleeding.

He then heard Percy speak. “Who are you?”

As Draco crouched down and moved towards the two demigods, he got his first real look at Luke Castellan and it pulled him up short.

The demigod son of Hermès was nothing like Draco had imagined, and he’d imagined it more than he’d like to admit. The demigod was at least six feet four and had blonde hair that was several shades darker than his own. Defined features, light green eyes and a warriors build.

It wasn’t in Draco’s nature to feel inadequate, but fuck...did the fucking tosser have to look like an actual fucking Greek God?

“Percy Jackson,” Luke said once again—in his deep, commanding voice. “Put down your wand.”

Percy smirked. “Or you’ll do what?”

Luke just grinned. “I will rip it from your hands and then bury you into the ground, Jackson.”

Draco gasped as Percy shot out a spell, but what amazed him was the reflexes of the other demigod. Luke dodged, moved and at one point—a large shield appeared from literally nothing as Luke Castellan deflected spell after spell until he’d managed to get close enough to Percy. In a move Draco didn’t see coming, Luke launched himself over the Son of Poseidon and knocked him on the head with the shield, bringing him to the ground. Luke quickly grabbed Percy’s wand and tossed it towards Draco, before grinning and winking in his direction—then pulling some kind of golden amulet with a lighted green center—Draco watched it flash, causing both Luke and Percy to disappear instantly.

Then he heard Annabeth screaming, but he couldn’t think about much of anything as he finally reached his witch, her body was badly broken and she was bleeding profusely from the fractured bone that had split her right arm in half.

Draco started to wave his wand to try and run a few diagnostics, when a deep woman’s voice brought him up cold.

“Well, well...” the voice hissed, causing Draco to lift his head up, catching the darkened gaze of the woman standing there with a hateful sneer on her face. “Is she dead yet?”

He was stunned speechless, as his brain tried to register what was happening, until he heard Chase hiss from behind him, “Hera!”

“Oh, Dearest Annabeth? How have you been?”

“Vlakas!” Annabeth sneered hatefully as she brandished her knife. “You come near my friend and I will end you!”

Hera threw her head back and laughed before flicking her hand and Draco’s eyes widened as Annabeth was immobilized. Draco then saw Nico out of the corner of his eye, and he mouthed, “Get my Father.”

Nico seemed unsure for a moment, until Draco tugged his own hair and said loudly, “Malfoy Manor, Nico...now!”

Nico nodded and disappeared into the shadows instantly as Draco pulled his wand out at the Goddess, who just chuckled at him like he was some kind of lowly pest.

“Foolish mortal,” Hera hissed, “you are no match for me.”

“We will see about that,” Draco sneered back as he sent out several spells at the Goddess, who at first looked amused, until one of the curses knocked her back. Her gaze turned red, and a spear morphed out of nothing as did a shield of some kind. Her clothing had changed from Grecian garb to battle armor.

Draco moved forward as he kept hurling curse after curse at the Goddess, and then Annabeth joined him too. Suddenly, there were several other wands that had stepped into the fray as Seamus, Dean, Theo and Blaise all went on the attack.

A few seconds later, Nico had arrived with his Father—who took one look at what was happening and then started casting a flurry of dark magic towards the Goddess. Draco had never seen his Father in full magical battle before and he was impressed. The Goddess was slashing, dodging and deflecting spells back to their original casters where she could. Dean and Blaise were already knocked out, but looked to be breathing. When Theo was cut down, Nico pulled his own wand and a flame of blue light flashed like fire towards the Goddess who couldn’t dodge it in time as it hit her arm and she hissed at the burn.

Lucius took that moment of weakness and both he and Draco spoke simultaneously—‘sanguis mori’.

The black flames flashed from both their wands and hit the Goddess in the face and the leg, causing ichor to be spilled from the wounds. Hera roared in anger and then gasped as she looked down and saw her golden blood turning black as night. At that moment the spell on Annabeth dropped and she moved over towards her best friend.

“What kind of evil is this?” She levied her spear at the younger Malfoy, but Lucius just chuckled malevolently.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” he sneered pompously, “if we die, you die.”

Hera’s eyes widened, “that’s not possible! I am a God—immortal!”

“Until you’re not.” Draco grinned in kind, before rushing back over to his witch, who was barely breathing.

Hera made to throw her spear at Draco, but a hardened voice stopped her.

“I would put that weapon down now, Hera...if I were you.”

Draco’s eyes widened as he saw the water morph, and then the God of the Sea came out of the Black Lake in all his glory—his trident glistening in the sunlight.

As Poseidon stepped foot upon the shore, fully dressed in battle regalia, his blue stormy eyes narrowed at his brother’s wife but she just scoffed at him in return.

“Why are you here?”

Poseidon’s gaze moved slowly over the grounds, clearly looking for his son.

“Where is Percy?”

“He is gone, My Lord.” Draco’s voice was hard and unforgiving. “He nearly killed Hermione.”

The God of the Sea bristled in anger as his gaze locked onto the young mortal wizard and then fell to his Niece—who was bleeding upon the ground, unconscious. He finally turned and pointed his trident at Hera and growled, “You have gone too far this time Hera!”

The Queen of the Gods sneered in rage, her own aura flashing with ire as she stared down her brother. “This is not your concern!”

“It is when you use my Son for your own selfish gain!”

Draco was busily running several diagnostics while the Gods were occupied and his Father had quickly come over, placing a strong magical stasis charm over Hermione in an effort to keep her alive. He nodded to his Father in thanks, not noticing Nico and Annabeth moving over next to them.

“My Lord?” Annabeth said softly, and flinched when Poseidon’s harsh gaze fell upon her momentarily. Thankfully, it softened a bit and she took a deep, steadying breath before saying, “Luke took Percy away. He used the Amulet of KHRONOS, and disappeared to parts unknown.”

Waving his trident towards the Black Lake, a large mist appeared the size of a home movie theatre, then Poseidon threw a drachma in and said clearly, “Iris, show me my Son.”

The mist flashed for a split second before the image cleared and Draco’s eyes widened as he saw Percy and Luke fighting each other with swords. Percy had his own blade, which was called Riptide, and Luke was flighting with a different of sword that was double edged and comprised of celestial bronze and some other metal that appeared to be a kind of steel.

Everyone watched in horror, as the fight raged—fierce and bloody. Wherever they were fighting, was located in body of water that Draco didn’t immediately recognize. He saw Luke swing his blade and cut across Percy’s arm—opening a large gash but for some unknown reason—the water wasn’t healing Percy and it didn’t seem as if he was able to call upon his Godly powers either.

It was only when Luke knocked the sword from Percy’s hand and the arced his swing around and gave a crushing blow with his elbow on the back of Percy’s head, the demigod son of Poseidon fell to his knees. Luke used his momentum to grab Percy by the back of the neck and pushed him under the water by force.

Draco watched Poseidon, as he kept his trident poised on Hera as everyone else watched the scene through the mist.

Then Luke spoke, his words blistering in their intensity...

“I should end you for what you’ve done Jackson—but even I know you’d never hurt Mine if it had been your choice.”

He lifted Percy’s head from the water, and Draco saw the demigod take a deep breath before Luke plundered him down into the depths of the water once again.

“Welcome to the Tiber, Jackson...” Annabeth gasped and even Nico’s eyes widened in shock. Hera hissed and went to move but Poseidon growled at his sister in warning, keeping her rooted to her spot. “It’s power washes away all Greek enchantments...even ones placed upon you by that cow of a sorry excuse...” the mist fluttered for a second, cutting out what Luke was about to say...

Annabeth’s face shifted though, and she cracked a grin as did Nico. When Luke lifted up Percy for the last time, the deep blue eyes of the young demigod cleared and he choked out, “Luke?”

Luke threw him back down into the water and took a step back, his weapon still brandished as he grit out, “Jackson.”

“Where are we?”

Luke chuckled and pulled his sword back into a non-offensive position before offering his hand—which Percy took instantly and as he stood up in confusion the demigod Son of Hermes pulled out the Amulet, and in a flash they were both standing back where they’d disappeared from.

Percy wiped the water from his eyes, his whole body shaking as he tried to get his bearings and then in a rush of sudden realized horror, his gaze drifted towards Hermione and he screamed out her name, running for her and falling to the ground—crying out in anguish again and pleading for her to wake up.

Draco tried to pull him away, but Percy wouldn’t be budged and the blonde wizard looked pleadingly at Annabeth—who knelt down and wrapped a supportive arm around her boyfriend.

“We need to get Mi to the hospital Percy.”

“Oh God’s!” He cried in agony, “I did this! What did I do?”

“It wasn’t you, Seaweed Brain.”

Percy glanced up and then noticed his Father standing there, his trident pointed at someone and upon recognition—he screamed, “You bitch! You did this?!?”

“Percy...” his Father growled in warning, but Percy stood up and reached into his pocket, and the second he felt the pen return to him—he pulled it out and Riptide sprang forth.

“I would think twice about that if I were you,” Hera spat, “you no longer have the Mark of Achilles to protect you.”

Percy’s entire body deflated instantly and a single glance at his Father let him know that what Hera spoke was the truth.

“I should kill you anyway.” Percy bit back with venom.

“Don’t you worry about that Jackson,” another voice spoke up in amusement, “dear old step-mummy won’t be too long for immortality when that icky curse does her in.”

Everyone’s head whipped around to see Apollo sitting on the stone wall, his sunglasses arranged on top of his head and his smile bright with glee. Then they settled on his sister and he huffed in irritation before jumping down and moving towards Hermione.

“What are you rambling about Apollo?” Hera demanded and Apollo stopped and pointed to the trickle of golden-blackish blood pouring onto the ground at Hera’s feet.

“Nasty little curse there, mummy dearest,” Apollo replied glibly as he finally made his way to Hermione and his nose scrunched unhappily as took in her condition. When his blue eyes met Percy’s, the demigod flinched back at the repressed anger from the God. He hummed under his breath and shook his head, his serene expression morphing into one of annoyance. “When the blood turns black...there’s no going back.”

Lucius chuckled despite himself and even Draco smirked at the sing-song nature of the comment.

“I’d sing a Haiku, but frankly, I’ve kinda had enough of you.”

Hera looked down at her arm and then felt the gash on her face, trying to will the bleeding to stop—to no avail.

“Apollo! Come heal me, Now!”

“No can do, step-mummy...that is a curse that can only be lifted by the caster...or in this case—caster’s—so I suppose you’ll just have to suffer.”

Hera screamed enraged and Poseidon levied his trident until it was directly under the Goddess chin.

Then there was a deep, dark chuckle as the shadows fell and Hades walked through them...his obsidian eyes glinting with malice and hate as he moved silently over the grounds and towards his brother and sister.

“Hera...dear. I would say this is a pleasure but as I’m sure you understand...you reap what you sow.”

The Goddess eyes widened as she took in the smug expression of the God of the Underworld. “You did this?”

“I don’t know what you could mean? Would I truly do something so vile and heinous to one of my own siblings?”

“Yes!” Both Poseidon and Hera ground out simultaneously but Hades just shrugged, seemingly unbothered by the rude sentiment. His dark gaze landed on his son, who was quietly holding vigil over his cousin. When he met Nico’s eyes, Hades saw the panic there and what was left of his blackened heart went out to his only son. He loved Hermione like a sister and if she were to die, Nico would never be the same.

Unfortunately there was only one individual who could save her now. For taking her out of the Magical stasis without the power to heal all her grievous wounds instantly would in all likelihood, kill her immediately.

There was soft rustling in the tree line, before the Hunters burst through—led by Artemis. The Goddess of the Hunt sized up the situation immediately and pulled her bow at Hera before allowing the arrow to fly.

Hera ducked out of the way, but the arrow scraped her neck and she pulled her spear back and went to throw it at Artemis when she changed her trajectory and launched it directly at the comatose body of the young demigod lying lifeless upon the ground.

Draco saw it coming and without thinking—moved his body in the direct path of the spear—he heard his Father’s voice yelling at him to stop—but in that split second he knew he wouldn’t let anyone ever hurt his witch again and then just as suddenly—there was a burning heat and he was blown onto his back, the spear incinerating to ash just as it was about to mortally wound him.

Time seemed to slow down before the sky darkened ominously and then the heavens roared with unrestrained power—lightening flashed and thunder rolled—the ground shook with the intensity of the cacophonous sound and the brightness of the light was such—that everyone cowered back from it—even the Gods.

When Draco’s eyesight cleared from the painful black spots clouding his vision, he gaped in awe at the presence standing before him. He didn’t need anyone to tell him who this was.

It could have only been the most powerful of all the Gods. The Ruler of the Gods and Olympus.

Granger’s Father.

Zeus had finally come.

Chapter Text

Holy Fuck! Draco thought as he stared into the angry enraged eyes of the God of Sky. Zeus took a moment as he stared at each one of his siblings, wife, and children in turn until his eyes settled on Granger and there was a flash of concern there, before it was masked almost instantly. He moved over with purpose towards his demigod daughter and Draco stood up immediately, placing himself between the God and his witch—wand at the ready.

Zeus expression didn’t change, but the light in his eyes darkened slightly as he didn’t break his stride until he was standing directly in front of Draco.

“You will move, mortal.”

Draco levied his wand in warning and shook his head. “I will not. Not until you give me your word that Granger won’t be harmed.”

The God’s eyes flashed and Draco could taste the heavy ozone as it filled the area.

“Who are you to speak to me as such?”

Draco lifted out the chain from under his shirt with his wandless hand and let it hang on the front of his chest where the God could see it. Zeus eyes widened, his mouth murmuring the name ‘Hestia’ (which only Draco heard) as Draco gripped his hand around his wand even tighter before saying unequivocally, “I am Hermione’s intended and it is within my right to demand her protection and safety.”

Zeus power crackled along his body as his eyes flashed white and when he spoke, his voice carried like thunder.

“And I am her Father! You will step aside!”

Draco’s entire body was shaking and a sidelong glance at his Father showed Lucius had his own wand at the ready if needed. A subtle nod from his Father let Draco know that he would fight alongside him if necessary.

“I won’t!” Draco growled angrily. “I have already taken steps to end your wife’s life due to her coming after my witch. She will be dead within a week and there is no magic—nor Godly power that can save her. I will have no compunction about doing the same to anyone who means to harm Hermione.”

Hades chuckled and Zeus turned the full force of his glare onto his brother.

“This has your machinations written all over it, brother.”

“Perhaps.” Hades purred, looking at his fingernails as if they were rather interesting to him—his smile cold and cruel. “You have allowed your wife to run amok in her petty thirst for vengeance against my Niece...” the word Niece was hissed out with such venom, it took Zeus aback momentarily.

“Who are you to tell me how to rule over my family?”

“You forget yourself brother, as she is my family too. Hermione has protected Nico and has proven herself worthy of my protection.”

At this Hera scoffed loudly. “It was you who agreed to protect her...it was you who bound her powers so I could not touch her!”

“No sister dear,” Hades grinned happily, “it was her Mother who died to protect her from you. Her blood sacrifice and subsequent magical vow assured my loyalty and the blessing of the fates. I swore an oath on the River Styx and such an oath cannot be undone. You know this.”

Hades glanced quickly in Lucius direction and lifted an eyebrow, and Lucius inwardly chuckled at how devious the God of the Underworld truly was.

He cleared his threat subtly, and once he’d had everyone’s full attention, he spoke in his most aristocratic drawl.

“Might I suggest a compromise then?”

Lucius watched Draco’s eyes narrow, while Hades smirk only widened.

Zeus just looked annoyed.

“Speak, mortal.”

Lucius bowed regally as he moved forward to stand next to his son. It was a position of offense, and by the narrowing of the God’s eyes, Zeus knew it too.

“Might I suggest a fair trade.”

“And what might you have to barter with?” Zeus bit out harshly.

“Your wife?” Lucius smirked. “I assume she means something to you. After all, you’ve allowed her to spend this past school year tormenting your child—sending all manner of monsters and freeing escaped convicts in the hopes of taking care of your little indiscretion, yes? I may not be the best Father in the world, but I do believe that even at my worst—I wouldn’t have allowed such atrocities to be levied upon my own flesh and blood. But alas, my Son is correct. Your dear soon to be departed wife, is not long for immortality.”

Zeus snarled and then waved his son over. “Apollo, is what he’s saying true?

“Afraid so, Dad.”

Zeus scoffed and glared angrily at his Son, who was smiling evilly at him. “Dearest step mummy has been hit with a nasty case of a blood curse. Rather ingenious too, come to think of it. To go after the essence of what makes a God or a mortal...blood wills out in the end. Without blood—ichor—mummy dearest is as good as dead within a week...maybe less.”

“I see.” Was all the God said, his gaze then landing on his wife who’s blood was slowly seeping from her body. He could try and heal her, but that would defeat the purpose of this little endeavor.

So he refrained.

“So you are suggesting a trade? My wife’s life for my daughter’s.”

Lucius shrugged. “Not exactly. I am suggesting your lovely wife take a vow on the River Styx to never try and harm, maim or take revenge on Miss Granger; her family, friends and future descendants. You will vow to heal her—on the River Styx—and return her to her previously unblemished state and as a consequence once done, my Son and I will vow to lift the curse from your wife.”

“And if I refuse?” Zeus replied icily.

“Then both your wife and daughter will die. Miss Granger’s wounds are too grievous to be healed by magic alone. Once the stasis spell comes down, she will die without the proper treatment which I’m guessing only you can provide.”

“Zeus!” Hera bellowed, “I forbid it!”

“ENOUGH!” The God’s angry words thundered over the entire grounds and everyone standing there, watching from above and in the castle fell to their knees.

Draco looked up and flinched painfully as the God of Sky was literally crackling with lightening from every part of him and Draco wondered how close to his divine form this was.

It really fucking hurt to look at.

“Brother,” Zeus turned towards the voice and noticed Poseidon moving towards him. “This has been an unfortunate set of circumstances. My Son was bewitched into attacking his cousin. Do you truly mean to listen to the mad ranting of your wife? Who used my own son for her nefarious plan?”

Zeus growled as his hand extended and his master lightning bolt morphed into full view. Poseidon moved back a step, his trident at his side.

“Your son...who took a dip in the Styx...did this to my daughter? And I am supposed to overlook that fact, brother?”

“He was bewitched by your wife, who has clearly lost her rational mind!” Poseidon bit back.

The God of Sky glanced back down at his unconscious daughter and with seemingly great effort, physically restrained his power as his bolt vanished with a crack.

He then stared down the young wizard who had tormented his daughter, who had watched her being tortured—who had stood in the path of his wife’s spear facing certain death—who even now, was staring him down with a great deal of courage and he sighed in defeat.

“Very well.” Zeus stated firmly. “I will agree to these conditions.”

“I will NOT!”

Zeus turned around so fast that Draco took a reflexive step back as the God snarled at his wife.

“YOU WILL! Or you will find yourself banished to Tartarus for a season!”

Hera visibly recoiled as she glared angrily at her husband. Zeus just rolled his eyes as he bid her to come forward and make the vow.

Once the vows were completed, on the River Styx—both Lucius and Draco waved their wands and silently cast the counter curse—which had an immediate effect as Hera’s wounds healed instantly. Zeus then snapped his fingers and his wife was removed from his presence causing Hades to chuckle viciously.

“Oh dear brother. She is not going to appreciate that at all.”

Zeus just sneered but wisely didn’t comment. He then moved past the two blonde wizard’s (who allowed the concession) and gently lifted up his daughter within his arms. He made to leave when a harsh voice stopped him.

“Where are you taking her?”

Zeus measured gaze fell to his other daughter’s, the eldest glaring at him with such vitriol it left him momentarily stunned.

“Artemis, now is not the time for this.”

“Now is the perfect time for this!” She hissed venomously. “So I will ask again, Father...” the word was said with such disdain, Zeus rolled his eyes, “Where are your taking my sister?”

“To Olympus. I can only heal her from there.”

Artemis glowered but didn’t reply while Thalia seemed reluctant to allow her sister to leave with their Father. Even Percy and Nico had identical expressions of concern on their faces.

“And Hera?” Artemis said lowly.

“Will remain confined to Ogygia for the foreseeable future.”

Artemis nodded reluctantly, while Percy’s eyes widened and Annabeth scowled at the reminder of Calypso and how Percy had...

She folded her arms angrily over her chest.

Percy just sighed uncomfortably.

No one liked to be reminded of their weakest moments.

“I would like to go with Mi.” Percy said pleadingly and Zeus just snarled and bellowed, “Absolutely not!”

When Percy turned to his Father, Poseidon shook his head in the negative. As much as he wished he could do this for his son—he couldn’t go against his brother’s edict.

“I will go with my Lady’s blessing.” Thalia offered with a firm nod, and smiled in relief when the Goddess placed a gentle hand on her arm.

“I take no issue with this, if it be your wish sister.”

“Thank you, My Lady.”

Zeus, knowing he was outnumbered by his own children as even Apollo was glaring at him in ire, nodded once.

“Very well Daughter.”

Thalia bowed to the Goddess, and then nodded once to Percy who mouthed, ‘thank you’ before Zeus turned and then something extraordinary happened. The mist shimmered right in front of everyone and the heavens parted—revealing Olympus in all its glory.

Zeus walked up towards the sky like gravity wasn’t an issue, (Thalia following closely behind) carrying very precious cargo within his embrace. He knew he’d have to answer many hard questions from both his daughter’s, but right now his only priority was making sure that Hermione was healed and well.

His plan had worked. Mostly.

Damn the fates!

He could deal with the expected fallout later.