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It's All Greek to Me

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Hermione had been gathering flowers and fresh herbs in a meadow while she was camping with her mother. Her father had to work -- there had been an emergency at her parents' dental practice. She cherished spending time with her mother, especially before summer ended and she went back to Hogwarts. Especially when Hermione knew that a war was coming to a head; Voldemort had returned and he certainly didn't care about education other than the supremacy of purebloods. She would be turning 18 in a few months and was already legally an adult in the wizarding world.

Hermione enjoyed going back in her muggle roots, taking pride in the manual life that she’d grown up with, without magic. She knew that it was only a matter of time before the wizarding world was in a full-scale war and Harry, along with her a Ron in the middle of it. Her parents would need to be protected because of her involvement, but she hadn’t summoned her courage to do anything about it yet.

Lost in her thoughts, she didn't notice the rustle of wind behind her and the shiver that ran down her spine until someone grabbed her. The coldness of the hands made her think of a dementor, but Hermione couldn't think much more about that as her stomach dropped and she realized she was flying on a broom. Her eyes were closed, too afraid to look to see how high she was.

“Scared, Granger?” a deep voice growled in her ear. It was familiar, but in the gravity of the situation, she couldn’t place it. 

Daringly, she opened her eyes, enough to glimpse where she was being taken, a strong arm secured around her waist. Her world went black as she saw they were headed straight for the ground. 

Hermione woke, her temples throbbing. She was surrounded by warmth, though, from the dim light she could see her breath fogging in the dark air in front of her. The plush couch she woke up on seemed to be radiating heat and she wondered if it were some kind of warming charm. Part of her wanted to lay back down, close her eyes and ignore everything. 

Then, she remembered what happened and struggled to sit up. The sofa below her was moving…? Hermione cried out in surprise at the black material shifting beneath her as she slid down to the cold floor. 

A whistle, crystal clear and echoing, sounded behind her. She whipped around, wrapping her arms around her to control the shivering without her heat source. Something poked her from behind and she whirled around to face a giant beast.

“Down, Fluffy,” the same voice from before commanded. The beast, or rather the dog, slumped back down to where it must have been lying before she woke up. 

“Fluffy?” she repeated and the three-headed dog eyed her with drool hanging out of one of its giant maws. It was, in fact, Fluffy from her first year at Hogwarts, the one guarding the trap door!

Footsteps sounded on the ground somewhere behind her. “He seems to have taken a liking to you,” her kidnapper drawled. His tone made her stomach flip. She could see his smirk in her mind’s eye.

“Malfoy?” she asked and stood to face him as he revealed himself from the shadows. 

In the dingy lighting, Draco Malfoy’s pallor nearly looked blue and his hair was almost white, his silver eyes glinting at her. His crooked smile, or smirk, rather looked like a crimson gash across his pale face. He had dark half-moons under his eyes and his features were sharpened by the shadows. 

“No. You must call me Hades while we’re here.”

“As in the King of the Underworld in Greek mythology?” Hermione recited. His mouth twisted.

“Ever so studious, Granger. Yes, for that is who I am in the Underworld,” he explained and raised his hand to raise the torches to a brighter level. 

The Underworld was cavernous and freezing and she seemed to only be in one room of it. It didn’t make any sense. How did this exist? How did Hermione not know the places of myths were true after learning all she could about the wizarding world? Was Malfoy trying to trick her?

Malfoy, or Hades, was studying her. “Wizard, Muggle, and the Immortal worlds exist together if you haven’t gathered that yet.”

She bit her lip and the flames flickered violently around them. “Why am I here, though?” Hermione was playing along, but she had to know.

“As much as it pains me to say,” he said ruffling his hair. “I need your help.”

Her eyes widened. A million questions overwhelmed her brain. Hermione didn’t understand any of it and it was killing her -- well, not literally, even though she was in the Underworld.

“In what way?” she asked pragmatically. 

His mercury-colored eyes flicked to hers. “I’ve been asked to identify if any of the Underworld plants or substances can be used in the mortal realm, but since you are at the top of our class in every subject including Herbology, I need your help.” He gritted out the last part of the sentence with the admission that she was better at something. 

“And your solution was kidnapping me?” she accused, folding her arms in defiance instead of in an attempt to get warm. 

Malfoy/Hades shrugged. “Would you have come with me if I’d told you all this first?” 

Hermione didn’t know if she’d believed him without seeing it. He arched his brow as if reading her mind. She scowled at him. Malfoy was still a Death Eater, whether he wanted to be or not.

“Can you answer another question before I decide whether or not to help?”

His mouth twisted again and he stalked up to her. Hermione noticed immediately that he’d grown since she’d glimpsed him last year. He was no longer the scared, gaunt boy who’d let the Death Eaters into the castle. Malfoy now towered over her and his formerly slight frame had broadened at the shoulders. His lips above her were still red and much fuller than she’d ever noticed and his long nose made him look regal, like a Greek statue. The angular face had filled out a little bit to make his jaw stronger. 

“I don’t think you understand who holds the power here, Granger,” he growled. The flames rose higher in the torches. 

She wouldn’t be intimidated, though his approach did have her blood pumping for some reason. Without breaking eye contact, she reached for her wand in the holster on her thigh. It wasn’t there. Her mouth went dry.

“You didn’t think I’d let you have your wand while you’re my guest here, did you?” Malfoy smirked above her.

She rolled her eyes. “Your guest ? More like your prisoner. Besides, you can’t hurt me if you want me to help you.”

“Is that a dare, Granger?” 

Hermione blinked. His tone was threatening and thrilling all at once. What was happening to her? She shivered but it wasn’t cold since the torches were high and warm at her back. 

To her surprise, he turned on his heel and started walking away into the shadows. “Are you coming?” Hades/Malfoy called, his words echoing.

She was rooted to the spot. Her mind couldn’t separate Malfoy and his new identity of Hades, but there was something different about him. 

Then, she felt the ground buckle beneath her and she jumped forward. A chuckle carried from the direction Hades had disappeared. Hermione swore under her breath.

“I believe the phrase is actually ‘Damn you to Hades,’” his amused voice corrected her.

Chapter Text

As they topped what Hermione thought was a large slab of brimstone, she gasped at the sprawling, reddish-brown field before her. It seemed endless and the waist-high plants were uniformly growing in rows. She saw shades meandering through them. 

Lugentes Campi ,” Malfoy remarked as they overlooked the fields.

“Mourning Fields, from the Aeneid ?” she said in disbelief.

She didn’t have to look at him to know he was smirking. “You think Virgil was a liar?” 

Hermione shook her head, but still didn’t quite believe this all was real. Would she wake up soon? Why was she dreaming about the Greek Gods and Draco Malfoy of all things? And if it was real, what did this have to do with Voldemort’s plan?

She snapped out of her reeling mind when he took her hand. Surprisingly, he was warm now and his skin was soft yet calloused in places, from Quidditch, she assumed. Malfoy gave her a tug that made her immobile feet stumble and she knew this had to be real. She blushed as he gave her a sideways glance. His pace had her trying to keep up with his long strides. 

“The shades can’t hurt you, but they’ll stay away from us as long as you’re touching me. Contact with them can be… unpleasant,” he explained. 

Instead of taunting her, he was comforting her? That was new. Hermione bent over one of the plants and examined the buds. There were small white and red berry-like fruit on the brownish-green stalks. She plucked one red bud off the plant to examine it more closely. 

A second later, a pale hand smacked the berry away, fingers grazing her cheek. “Malfoy!” she exclaimed. 

“Don’t you know not to stick unidentified plants in your mouth, Granger?” he mocked with a touch of concern. “It could be poisonous!” 

She scowled at him. “I wasn’t going to eat it, you prat! I was going to smell it.” Hermione smelled another red berry. “You’re right, Baneberry is poisonous by itself. But it’s also an ingredient in the Trace Detection tonic.”

His pale blonde eyebrows furrowed. “Trace Detection? Like for underage magic use?”

She smiled and shook her head. “No, it has to do with detecting trace amounts of magic around you and detecting potential breaches in the Statute of Secrecy,” Hermione explained. 

Malfoy mumbled something, clearly thinking about the prospects of using the plant. Hermione wasn’t sure if it was something that could be used in the war coming along. Speaking of the war…

“Malfoy?” He glared at her but said nothing. “I mean, Hades .”

“Yes, Granger?”

“Does this Lord of the Underworld thing have anything to do with Voldemort?” she inquired. 

His eyes widened for a second as he itched his left arm beneath his robes, and then his face went blank. 

“If you must know, I inherited this role from my godfather… Severus Snape,” he said haughtily. 

Hermione couldn’t help but laugh. She seemed to not be able to stop the burst of giggles from her mouth as she bent over with the force of it. Tears streamed down her face.

When she recovered, Malfoy was frowning. “I’m sorry, that was just too perfect to imagine Snape as the Lord of the Underworld, black robes billowing.”

“Are you quite finished laughing at my godfather?” She bit her lip. 

“What I don’t understand is why didn’t Snape identify these plants? He could have easily done it with his potion expertise.”

Malfoy repeated the gesture from before: running a hand through his shaggy blonde hair. He seemed to do it when he was uncomfortable. Had she made him uncomfortable? Hermione was used to doing so with other students, but not him. Malfoy always seemed too in control of his feelings and expressions and unruffled by her presence unless confronted.

“Snape wasn’t down here much because he was teaching. He actually inherited the role from the Dark Lord himself. That’s how Voldemort could go into hiding so easily.”

“Then typically, the role of Hades has been for bachelors, which doesn’t follow the myth,” Hermione pointed out.

“You speak of Persephone, then?” He gave her a wry smile that made her insides squirm. “That role hasn’t been filled in centuries.” 

“But you must carry the Malfoy line,” she said.

His eyes flashed with darkness for a second, but his mouth was in a firm line. “It’s not your business.”

“You’re right,” she agreed, wondering why she was so curious about the continuation of the Malfoys. “So you said Snape and Voldemort didn’t have time to catalog the plants down here?”

“That’s right. Snape thought it would be useful to force me to waste my summer down here in the doom and gloom,” he said with more melancholy than she’d ever heard him express.

Hermione put her hands on her hips. “Essentially, you brought me down here to do your job for you? What would Snape think of that? He finished off Dumbledore for you, do you always have others carry out your dirty work for you?”

He bared his perfectly straight, white teeth at her. “He won’t ever find out or I’ll leave you down here to rot, Granger.”

She whistled. “Wow, I never thought I’d see the day that Draco Malfoy admitted I was better than him, that he would threaten me to do his work for him. What happened to calling me a mudblood? What happened to thinking I was filth not even fit to dirty your shoes with?”

“I haven’t said that word to you in years,” he growled. She glared at him, though she knew he was right. Hermione hadn’t thought about it before, but he was right.

His fists were clenched by his side and there were a few meters between them. Malfoy/Hades seemed unable to speak, his tongue-tied by the thoughts running through his head. She wondered if he would actually leave her to rot down here. If Snape could kill Dumbledore and betray the Order, then she supposed Malfoy could punish a muggleborn however he wanted.

And then, a terrible chill ran through her veins, like a bucket of ice water drenching her body. This sensory feeling was followed by despair, hopelessness, and love lost. It made her think of Ron, of that stupid crush she’d had on him for years. Perhaps he’d realize it or she’d blurt it out, but ever since the Yule Ball, Hermione didn’t have much hope. 

“Granger?” Malfoy sounded concerned, his eyes luminescent and silver in the din. She realized she’d sunk to her knees in the rough soil. He was tugging at her elbow to help her up. 

She felt like a dementor had sucked part of her soul out. Hermione couldn’t move, she wanted to wallow in these feelings that had suddenly come over her. She squeezed her eyes shut, willing for it all to go away. 

“Hermione!” 

Was that Ron calling her name? She would have called her ‘Mione, that nickname she secretly hated but couldn’t bring herself to admit it out loud. If it wasn’t Ron, who was it?

Malfoy was holding her face in his hands and she realized his hands were damp, for some reason. She felt dazed and confused. They’d been in the Mourning Fields… arguing… then… Blinking, Hermione realized that her cheeks were wet with tears not his hands. 

If she dared to think it, she swore Malfoy looked relieved. “It was just a shade,” another male voice said from somewhere in the room. 

Hermione took in her new surroundings. He must have brought her there and set her on a sofa? They had sofas in the Underworld? It was plush, almost like Fluffy had been earlier. Why did she keep passing out? Was it because she was a mortal? A muggleborn?

“You’re right, Draco, that lip-biting thing she does is kinda cute,” the other voice remarked.

“Stuff it, Thanatos !” 

She struggled to sit up and see the other man in the room, the mythical personification of death. As far as she could tell, now that Hades had stepped away, Thanatos was another student from Hogwarts, someone slightly familiar. 

He awkwardly waved at her from his reclined position from behind an ornate, mahogany desk. “As Lord Git here said, I’m Thanatos, but you can call me Theo.” 

“Theo? Theodore Nott?” she ventured and he nodded with a bright smile. This room, presumably Hades’ office of sorts, was better lit than the other places they’d been. 

Thanatos or Theo had striking hazel eyes and light brown hair that was effortlessly messy. Hades was sulking from a stuffed chair across from her. Hermione hadn’t been more confused or had more questions in her life. 

“What happened to me?” she asked, her voice trembling.

Hazel and silver eyes trained on her. “A shade touched you, or rather went right through you. Besides giving you the heebie-jeebies, you felt the shade’s eternal mourning for her unrequited love,” Theo explained matter-of-factly. 

She shivered and wrapped the blanket closer to her. Glancing at Malfoy, she realized that he’d swaddled her in his robes since he was now lounging in a charcoal wool sweater, probably cashmere, and fitted black trousers. Why was she concerned about what he was wearing? Why did he save her? Why was she really here?

“I already told you, Granger,” Malfoy drawled. Had she asked that last question aloud?

Hermione didn’t miss the look that passed between Theo and Malfoy, though. There was something they weren’t telling her. 

Chapter Text

It had been a bad idea to bring her here, Draco thought. He wanted to tell her, he really did, but it was complicated and saying something outright wasn’t natural for Slytherins or Malfoys. The question was how could he convince her to stay?

“So, are more students like us filling the roles of gods and goddesses, then?” Hermione asked Theo. 

Theo gave her a lopsided grin that Draco rolled his eyes at. “Some, sure, mostly pure-bloods, though, no offense.”

“Wouldn’t that mean you’re not pure-blooded, though? If you’re fit to fulfill an immortal’s role?”

Theo shrugged in that devil-may-care way he always did. Draco cared, though. 

“I don’t know the ins and outs of it. It does have to do with lineage, I think, but how much I’m not sure. Perhaps, it’s personality,” Theo smirked at him. 

Hermione suppressed a laugh at his expense, but it didn’t lighten his mood. “Thanatos, don’t you have work to do? People are dying to get here,” Draco drawled. 

Theo glared at him. “I suppose. Summer is a slow season, though.” He stalked out leaving Draco alone with Hermione. 

“Isn’t Snape a half-blood? So, you don’t have to be a pure-blood to take on a role… Who else is a god or goddess?” Hermione asked, too curious for her own good.

As long as she wasn’t asking questions about her own presence here, he was fine with the questions. “Right as ever, Granger, you’re not required to be pure-blooded, but it's more common for us. My mother and two aunts are the Fates,” he said.

“Wow, that’s so interesting! Can I take notes?”

“No!” he said harshly. Draco needed to get a grip. Clearing his throat, he tried to put on an earnest expression. “This can’t be broadcast in the wizarding world and certainly not the muggle world.”

Hermione bit her lip, a habit that was making him want to tug the ripe flesh out from her teeth’s torture. He closed his eyes and thought of Snape punishing him to banish his feelings. Draco locked everything he couldn’t handle in categorized Pandora’s boxes. Speaking of, he should check on Pandora -- Pansy. 

“Were gods and goddesses always witches and wizards?” Hermione asked, interrupting his Occlumency. 

Draco shook his head. “I don’t think so, at least. Who can be sure?” He put his head in his hands.

“Why do you need me?” 

He let out a shuddering breath and some of his thoughts spilled out. “Because you keep me in check, Granger.” 

Draco didn’t see her reaction. He didn’t want to. “What will my mum think? She won’t know what happened to me…” 

He rubbed his palms over his face, fingertips digging into the hollow of his eye sockets, around the jellied feel of his eyeballs. Bury the regret , Snape’s voice whispered, repeating like a mantra. His godfather seemed to know more about regret than Draco knew about him, period. 

“I had a message delivered to her. I forged your handwriting and told your mother that you’d gotten word from your friends Potter and Weasley that they needed help with a summer assignment and that you’d be back in a few days.”

He knew she’d gotten to her feet. “Malfoy! You thought she’d believe that utter bollocks? She’s probably worried sick. What if she goes to check on me? She could go to Privet Drive. Summer assignment? Merlin, Malfoy!” Hermione rampaged.

Draco stood and grabbed her by the upper arms. She still tried to hit him in the solar plexus but failed to move him. He waited until she was gasping and still trying to fight him before speaking.

“I want to remind you that you’re here under my protection. You have no way out aside from when I take you back. Time moves about a quarter of the day faster here, so it will be less time for your mother to miss you. I promise I will take you back when I told your mother you would return,” he said evenly as if he’d memorized the speech -- he basically had.

She’d dropped her hands to her sides, her head down, staring at their feet. He could smell her hair: jasmine and honey. Relaxing his grip on her, Draco reluctantly stepped away. 

“What do you need me to do next?” she asked, her voice small. 

“This way.”

Two minutes passed and she was already arguing with him again.

“I’m not getting on that again,” she said, stamping her foot in defiance.

He scowled. “Granger, if we don’t fly it will take days to walk where we’re going. Don’t you want to get back to your mother?”

Hermione eyed the broom wearily. “There’s no other way?”

She was afraid. And for some reason, he didn’t want to see her like that. He wanted to believe that she was the daring, brilliant, frustrating witch that he’d always known her to be. Perhaps, she would let him show her how to ride a broom properly. 

Another fantasy to bury. Then, he had an idea.

Draco whistled, the sound echoing infinitely. Confusion wrinkled her smooth brow as she looked around. He smirked. 

Cerberus, also known affectionately as Fluffy, bounded around the corner, a spray of rocks scattered in his haste to please his master. To his displeasure, Fluffy started licking Hermione with one of its heads, the other ones salivating over her. 

He tried to ignore her giggles and baby talk over the hellhound and the jealousy it bolstered in him. Clearing his throat, Hermione shoved the beast off her and Fluffy had enough sense to look remorseful. Draco climbed on his back and held his hand out to Hermione.

She took it, her brave face back in place. His mask solidly shielded his emotions from her eyes as her warm hand closed in his larger one, pale over golden. He swallowed hard.

Chapter Text

“Wow,” Hermione said breathlessly as a field of white flowers emerged from behind a wall of dark granite. Fluffy stopped abruptly before flowers sprouted from the grass. It was still gloomy, like a cloudy Scottish day, but the flowers seemed to brighten up the endless expanse. 

Draco caught her with a solid arm around her waist before she slid off from the force of the hellhound’s stop. Suddenly, she felt too warm, though she knew the Underworld was cold in general -- it was probably the heat radiating off Fluffy. Hermione was confused about this entire situation. She was in a waking dream and, despite the circumstances, she was curious about the Underworld.

The white flowers shaped like six-pointed stars grew to her knees and brushed the tops of her thighs as she approached them. Hermione startled when she heard something behind her, but realized that it was just Hades following her. She examined the flowers and smiled.

Asphodelus ramosus ,” she heard Malfoy whisper beside her as he gazed at the plants. 

Hermione rolled her eyes. “So you didn’t need my help after all,” she huffed. Of course he knew what these flowers were… 

“Harry used powdered asphodel root to make the Wiggenweld potion for the Slug Club last year,” she murmured. Hermione was still bitter about Harry using the Half-Blood Prince’s notes. 

Especially after…. She glanced at Malfoy automatically and bit her lip. He was fine, no permanent damage from the abominable spell. Absently, she wondered what his scar looked like. No, she would not think about Malfoy shirtless.

“It’s also used in the Draught of Living Death. Remember we made it in Slughorn’s class and Potter beat you?” he smirked.

She glared at him. “That same book he used to cheat was the same one that almost killed you last spring,” Hermione snapped.

He grimaced and absently scratched his chest. “Why am I really here, Malfoy? You clearly don’t need my help to identify these plants.” 

Malfoy stood to face her, his height making her raise her chin to maintain eye contact. He really looked like the God of the Underworld glaring down his nose at her, refusing to speak or blink before she did. She thought he might be using some kind of Occlumency to keep his emotions from showing. 

“Am I your mudblood prisoner, your torture subject to show off your skills to Voldemort? Are you condemning me to an eternity of suffering your insipid presence and playing your games?”

He stalked up to her and his long fingers curled around her neck. Hermione refused to back down even as her airway was slowly being cut off. She refused to struggle in front of him. Her feet now dangled above the ground as he lifted her to his level. 

Hades’ eyes were bloodshot up close, the metallic irises glinting even in low lighting. His nostrils were flaring and it seemed like he wanted to say whatever it was, badly. She knew he didn’t want to admit whatever his plan was to her. 

Suddenly, he released her and she hit the ground knees first in the hard soil. She had to take a moment to drag in the ragged breaths she’d been deprived, her heart pumping fast. Hermione had to close her eyes to focus on the slowing of her heart and the oxygen replenishing. 

Looking up, she was surprised and confused to see Malfoy offering his hand to help her up. Hermione refused on principle. How dare he lose his temper and then try to act like a gentleman without apologizing? He stood a few feet away from her, his head down inspecting one of the flowers that he’d picked. 

“I’m sorry, Hermione,” he said, more to the asphodelus bloom than her. What was going to happen next today? First, she wound up in the Underworld and now Malfoy was apologizing and using her first name?

Hermione blinked at him. She struggled to find any words; she didn’t know where to start with him. Confusion wasn’t a normal part of her life. Closing her eyes, she attempted to regain control of her mind.

“Breathe,” a deep voice said into her ear and she inhaled automatically, a sweet and sickly aroma assaulted her senses and seemed to erase the cacophony of thoughts and replaced it with a limpness, a fuzziness, dulling her emotions. 

Hermione opened her eyes, which were heavier now, and saw the asphodelus blossom beneath her nose. She couldn’t even bother with getting mad, she felt slightly sedated. Molten mercury eyes replaced the flower in her vision. They were hypnotizing; they made her want to jump in and drown. 

“Better?” the voice asked. She nodded, her head felt like it was filled with wet sand. 

Chapter Text

Draco hadn’t wanted to do it. He didn’t want to drug her; the scent of the Asphodelus flower only creates a light sensation of euphoria, relaxation. Hermione had been agitated. He could see the questions, anger, frustration simmering to a boil with his legilimency skills. Draco hadn’t invaded her mind, but rather lightly probed her frame of mind.

She needed to calm down or else the shades in the vicinity would start to react to her magical and emotional presence. Those in the Asphodelus Fields were in a sort of limbo, they needed an even keel environment. Hermione had crumpled into his arms, one supporting her head and the other beneath her knees. 

He could tell she was awake, in a fog, so he decided to take her to a safer place. The only place Draco really felt safe in the Underworld.

Draco had only read a few pages when he noticed Hermione stirring. At first, she slowly roused herself on his bed and then she bolted upright, her honey-brown eyes meeting his in a panic. He’d sat in the chair across from the bed closest to the fireplace. Closing his book, he waited for the maelstrom.

“You drugged me!” she shrieked. “Give me back my wand and send me back home now, Malfoy!” Hermione stood on shaky legs, her bottom lip quivering in rage.

He shook his head and that small motion further incited her. She grabbed him by the sweater, the woven material stretching in her fist. Draco met her eyes wearily. His little lion was back in her prime, still wandless, but a demanding fury. 

“I can’t,” he whispered, more of a sigh. 

Her fist clenched more, knuckles turning white. “Why not?”

“Because it’s not safe for you there!” Draco growled. A line of confusion creased between her brows. 

“You-you don’t care about what happens to a mudblood like me, Malfoy. You’re a Death Eater ,” she argued like she was trying to convince him. 

She was still leaning over him, his shirt gripped in her hand, and she smelled like vanilla. He shut his eyes off from her fierce yet puzzled gaze. Draco didn’t want to do this, but he had to. She would probably run away either way.

“I care, Granger. More than I want to…”

She snorted. “What are you in love with me or something?” 

His eyes flashed, anger flaring. “No, you insufferable swot! The Dark Lord will hunt you down, don’t you understand? He will kill your parents and torture you! This is the only safe place for you.” 

Hermione stepped back from him and he stood a good distance from her. He could see her hands shaking. 

“I don’t see Justin Finch-Fletchley or the Creevey brothers here too. What about the rest of the muggleborns? Why me, Malfoy? I can take care of myself. We’ve been training, you know. What about the rest of them?”

His jaw clenched. “If Potter fails, you’re our only hope at stopping the Dark Lord, at setting me free from his reign.” 

She crossed her arms. He tried not to notice how her arms pushed up her breasts. He failed.

“Don’t you think Harry needs me now? Don’t you think my parents need me?” she asked, as rational as ever. 

Draco grimaced, but a thought came to him and he smirked at her. “How are you going to save them, Granger? I’m sure you have a plan, what is it?”

She bit her lip and he internally moaned. It seemed that this was her weakness. Hermione sat on the bed as if she couldn’t stand any longer.

“Why should I tell you? How do I know you won’t try to foil my plan if I get out of here?” He could feel the waves of sadness through a slight legilimency probe.

Draco couldn’t fault her. “I promise, on my honor as a wizard and a gentleman, I will not tell a soul or try to disrupt your plan.” He could have sworn he heard her snort at the word gentleman.

Her face crumpled as she tried to speak. Sobs wracked her body as she told him, “I was… I was going to… erase me... and the magical world from their-their memories… Send them far away, change their names….” 

Rather than continue to stand there with his mouth agape, Draco gave her his handkerchief. It was white, embroidered with a silver M. She used it, wiping her face, still sniffling. His hand tilted up her chin to look at him.

“Children shouldn’t have to save their parents, but you and I… We both have to. He threatened my mother’s torture if I didn’t join him if I didn’t do what he said. I can’t imagine not having my parents even though this is my father’s fault…” 

To his surprise, she put a hand to his cheek, her fingertips soft on his skin. “Your father is at fault for many things, Malfoy.” She smiled and laughed, her nose red.

Draco couldn’t help but joining her in a sardonic yet cleansing laugh. The laughter felt wonderful and doubled him over, it was like a lightening of the soul and it wracked his entire body and tears came to his eyes. He wiped his face with his hand and looked back at Hermione

She was gone.

Chapter Text

“Fuck,” he said to the empty bedroom. He’d lit only two of the torches to read by while she was more or less unconscious from the Asphodelus. It seemed colder without her. Of course, Hermione had fooled him. 

She didn’t know how to get out. At least that was a comfort, except that she could get into trouble just about anywhere; she was Hermione Granger after all, too curious for her own good. Common sense would have told anyone else that wandering away and trying to escape the Underworld was not a good idea.

There was one way to find her quickly. Draco whistled, the sound carrying throughout the caverns. His faithful Fluffy bounded through the door and he was virtually covered in slobber and saliva a second later.

“Fluffy, listen, find Hermione, please and bring me to her.” He climbed on the hellhound’s back, gripping the velvety fur. 

One of Fluffy’s maws was sniffing the ground, one was scenting the air, and the third was vigilant of where he was running. In the beast’s haste, Draco had to hold on as they sharply turned a corner to where the gates of the Underworld stood. 

“Look who showed up,” a mocking, deep voice greeted him. 

“Hermes.”

Hermes’ caduceus staff was at Hermione’s throat, the wings biting into her collar bone and the snakes pressed between her breasts. The glee in his fellow Slytherin’s dark eyes made him sick, his twisted smile taunting him. Fucker.

“She’s under my care, let her go, Blaise,” Draco demanded, trying to appeal to his frienemy’s compassion. 

Hermione’s eyes were wide and darting between them. She couldn’t speak for fear of the staff’s sharp adornments piercing her skin. Hermes/Blaise chuckled ominously.

“Can’t do that, Hades. I’ve been ordered by Zeus to bring her back.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Kingsley shouldn’t be sticking his nose into Underworld business.”

Blaise shrugged and didn’t release Hermione. She licked her lips, which seemed a little redder than when he last saw her. Draco frowned at the situation. His plan was foiled by the Order and he was trying to help her! He needed more time.

Wandlessly, he tried to disarm Hermes, but that damn staff repelled the spell. That failed attempt only made Blaise laugh harder. 

“We’ll be going now, hell boy,” the wizard said, smirking at him. Blaise started dragging Hermione back towards the gates, back to the mortal realm. Draco was powerless to stop him, to save her from harm’s way now. 

Fluffy nudged his side affectionately and Draco absently patted him as he watched them go. When Hermes got to the gate and opened the sixty-meter high door with a touch of his staff, he had to release Hermione from his tight grip. Draco’s stomach clenched at the opportunity to snatch her back. Hermes’ stepped through the doorway before her, but when he tried to take Hermione with him, she was rooted to her spot within the Underworld. 

No matter Blaise’s tugging, she wouldn’t come through the gate, even if she tried to take a step. Draco stalked towards them, his confusion and elation growing at Blaise’s struggle. 

Hermione was looking back and forth between Hermes and Hades. Draco sensed her panic, her despair. He didn’t want that for her, but he didn’t know what was happening either. 

“She seems to have consumed the fruit of the Underworld,” a familiar female voice echoed from behind him. Draco whirled around to see his mother standing there, a shadowed expression on her face. “Pomegranate, was it dear?”

Hermione’s eyes widened. “I-I was so hungry and… it looked so ripe and delicious. I thought a few seeds would tide me over…” Her lip trembled, still coated in the pomegranate juice.

“Mother?”

“The prophecy,” he heard Blaise utter in surprise. “I’ll be back.”

He didn’t even pay attention to Hermes’ departure, Draco stared slack-jawed at his mother.

Chapter Text

“It seems my son hasn’t studied his Greek mythology as was recommended before he took on his role here,” Mrs. Malfoy said dryly to her.

Hermione had no idea what was going on. She couldn’t leave now, she couldn’t go back to her parents. What had Blaise meant by a prophecy?

“I suppose, since you are muggleborn, that he didn’t consider the possibility--”

“Of what, Mother?” Malfoy demanded, his anger making the torches flicker. 

Hermione suddenly remembered which myth had to do with pomegranates. “Persephone,” she said.

Malfoy stared at her in shock, his head whipping around making his blonde hair fall into his eyes. While he stood stock still, Mrs. Malfoy appeared to float towards her. She was one of the Fates, he’d said. 

“I’d heard you were clever, dear. More clever than my son and they were right,” Mrs. Malfoy smiled with kindness in her voice. 

“But that means…”

“Yes, Miss Granger. You will have to stay here six months out of the year. Though, I expect Hermes will return soon to bring you back to your parents for the remainder of the summer until the autumn begins.”

Tears sprang to her eyes. She wasn’t sure if it was because she’d get to see her parents again or if it was because she’d have to return to the Underworld shortly after her birthday. How could she be so stupid to eat something in hell? What would she tell her family? Harry and Ron?

She allowed Mrs. Malfoy to comfort her. While the witch had never been nice to her before, there was something nurturing about a mother. She smelled like clean linen, though Hermione knew that the pureblood matriarch had probably never done laundry in her life. 

“It’s alright, dear, I know my Draco has a soft spot for you. He always has, though he may not have shown it to you until now,” the witch whispered soothingly.

That comment sparked her frustration. “Kidnapping me was his version of kindness?”

“Draco makes decisions based on emotion, though he might deny it. He wouldn’t have agreed to take on the Dark Lord’s tasks without concern for his family. He wouldn’t have brought you here for any other reason than he thought you were in danger elsewhere.”

Hermione’s mind was spinning again at this revelation. It couldn’t be true, except that Mrs. Malfoy’s assessments were sound. She was one of the Fates after all. How was any of this real?

She peered over Mrs. Malfoy’s shoulder and saw Malfoy awkwardly standing where he’d been rooted to the spot. He seemed to be in the middle of an internal battle, his fists clenching and unclenching, his eyes shut tightly. 

“Is that true, Malfoy?”

His icy, gray eyes opened suddenly. What she saw reflected back was nearly enough to tell her that his mother was telling the truth. Emotions were swirling behind his irises and he was trying to keep it all in check.

He pursed his lips, the friction making them redden. Instead of speaking, Malfoy gave a curt nod. 

“What will happen when I return here in a few months?” she asked, directing it at Draco. “Will I be allowed my wand, at least?”

At Draco’s inertness, Mrs. Malfoy answered, “Yes, dear. Your being here has nothing to do with magic and more to do with the ancient ties our kind has with the immortals. Draco took your wand to ensure your safety here, but he will show you how to use it safely as to not disrupt the balance in the Underworld, right love?”

Draco grumbled something affirmative in response. “Right, well, I will be here as often as I can get away from the Manor to check on you while you’re here, Miss Granger.”

“Hermione is fine, Mrs. Malfoy. Thank you for your help.”

“It was my pleasure, Hermione. Please call me Narcissa,” the blonde woman smiled brightly at her. 

Hermione nodded. And a second later, a hysterical laugh announced the trickster Hermes’ arrival. 

Chapter Text

Blaise brandished a scroll and handed it to Draco. He hissed as it zapped him ever so slightly -- damn Zeus! Hermes chuckled at this. 

Sure enough, the agreement was in line with the myth. Hermione/Persephone was to be in the mortal realm from the spring to the fall equinoxes and come to the Underworld in the fall. It worried him, though. What could happen in those remaining months that he couldn’t save her? What if she was attacked, or worse killed. Would she hate him if she returned to the Underworld?

Nevertheless, he was obligated to sign the contract over to the Fates. This was meant to be, somehow. There was a dark sense of humor in all this. Why did he try to be a hero to save her? She didn’t even care about his gesture, his plan. It was all for nothing and now they were stuck with each other until they handed their roles over. 

“It’s all right, Draco. It’s only a few years that you have to stay like this, for both of you,” his mother reminded him. 

Three more years in Hell. Literally.

Hermione looked bewildered. He sensed it and saw it in her wide eyes, the whites of them visible around her brown irises. Draco wanted to say something before she left. What if she didn’t make it back? What if all he’d done was for nothing… just like his mission for the Dark Lord. 

Before he realized it, he was right in front of her, Hermes only steps away, seconds away from whisking her back to the mortal realm. He hadn’t planned what to say, he wanted to say so many things, things that didn’t even make sense to him, things buried deep in his throat that he had to keep from bubbling up.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” he practically growled at her. Hermione gazed up at him, her bottom lip held hostage by her front teeth. He remembered how her large teeth had been fixed after he’d hexed her. It was a small, childish thing, but something he felt guilty for nonetheless. 

She didn’t have the chance to respond because Blaise grabbed her arm. He hadn’t meant to command her, to insult her, but he knew that he had. Draco Malfoy failed again… The guilt gnawed at him until she vanished back to the mortal realm. 

Later, he was glad his mother had gone home as he sipped his firewhiskey. The burning down his throat was better than the fires that his actions had set in his mind. Draco hadn’t thought of the consequences once again.

“Why the long face, Drake?” Theo appeared from the shadows.

He drained his tumbler and ignored his friend by pouring himself another. “I thought you’d be happy, that you’d want to celebrate.”

“Fuck you,” Draco said bitterly. 

He heard Theo smirk behind him. “Don’t you have souls to bring here? I doubt you’re at your quota, Thanatos.” 

“Back to business, are we, Drakey?” 

“I told you not to call me that.”

Theo laughed loud enough to wake the dead… if they ever slept. “I know you couldn’t kidnap her permanently, but you get her for six months of the year. That’s good enough, right?”

Rage flared in his mind. He threw the glass against the wall, the shattering sound calmed him. None of this had turned out right.

“Good enough? She’s my fucking wife now, you lowlife! Against her will, mind you! Against mine too. I didn’t want any of this!” Draco seethed.

Theo was unfazed. “You wanted to protect her, to save your little wet dream from the Dark Lord. Knowing you, this is the best it could have turned out in any scenario,” the wizard drawled.

Draco shook with anger. “Wet dream? That’s what you think this is about? It’s not. I had a fucking premonition, you arsehole! I saw her being tortured, crucio’d within an inch of her life, her arm carved up with a cursed blade.”

“And you think that won’t happen still? How do you know it wasn’t you torturing her? Maybe that person was imperiused to torture her?”

He grit his teeth. “It was my Aunt Bella.” 

Theo crossed his arms and smirked. “And you think that with you she’s safer? Your aunt could come visit, you know.”

“She rarely leaves the Dark Lord’s side. My mother won’t say anything to her about Persephone’s identity,” Draco argued, hoping he was right.

Theo stood, straightening his suit jacket. “And what about the wedding?”

Draco sent a wandless stinging hex and got Thanatos on the buttocks. “Ouch, you fiend!”

Now it was his turn to smirk. “No wedding, you idiot. This is more or less a contractual arrangement and we will treat it as such. I can trust your discretion as to my bride’s identity?”

“Comes at a price,” Thanatos said sorely. Draco summoned a new bottle of firewhiskey and handed it to his friend. 

Chapter Text

Hermione felt like she’d dreamt everything she’d been through with the Greek gods and goddesses. Her parents had been worried, yes, but they’d been pacified by the fake letter Draco had written to them. She hugged them tightly, her father now there for their camping trip. Everything about this situation twisted her gut. 

At least Malfoy hadn’t thought her idea was terrible. If anything he’d been understanding about it all. They were more or less in the same boat but on different sides of the war. The war that neither of them wanted. And yet, she had to basically marry him…

Hermione tried to clear her mind and focus on her parents. She had an expiration date with them. Soon, they wouldn’t remember they had a daughter. A tear escaped her eye only to brush against her mother’s shoulder.

***

It was September 19th; Hermione’s birthday. They’d survived the Battle of the Seven Potters to see Harry’s 17th, Fleur and Bill’s Wedding happened and they escaped, they’d stolen the locket from Umbridge by breaking into the Ministry, and then Yaxley followed them back to Grimmauld Place... Luckily, Hermione had apparated them out of there to camp in the forest.

It had been Hermione’s idea for them to share the burden of the locket. It made each of them ornery and depressed, but Harry couldn’t take on all of Voldemort’s dark soul himself. That’s why she and Ron were there, that’s why they were in this together. 

Except, Hermione hadn’t told a soul about her immortal role. And in four days, she would be whisked back to the Underworld. Back with Malfoy. She didn’t have the heart to tell the boys. It would distract them from surviving and figuring out a way to destroy the horcrux. 

Since she’d left the Underworld, her communication with Malfoy had been limited to a coin. It was an enchanted galleon that he’d sent her by owl when she’d still been with her parents. Hermione blinked back tears. Malfoy had asked her to hold it sometimes, warm it in her hands so that he would feel it. That way, he knew she was alive. 

She tried not to think much of it. Malfoy may care about her well-being, but that didn’t mean it was any more than that. Glancing at where the serial numbers would be on a regular galleon, Hermione saw the countdown to her return to the Underworld. She had to at least write Harry and Ron a letter with some kind of explanation for her disappearance.

Hermione hoped there would be a way to communicate with her friends while she was away. It was one of the first of many things she would have to work out with Malfoy. She shuddered at the thought of six months in the Underworld. 

Unfortunately, since they were on the run, Hermione hadn’t been able to do any research other than the books she’d brought in her bag. She’d written McGonagall before she left her parents for the Burrow about books on the wizarding world’s relationship with the Greek Immortals, but the new Headmistress said Hogwarts didn’t carry any books on the subject. She’d suggested that it was pureblood lore.

She scribbled her letter to Harry and Ron furiously, the locket heavily resting against her sternum. Sure, it made her moody, but she had every right to be. Hermione had to go back to Hell -- who wouldn’t be upset?

A deep voice cleared itself behind her. She scrambled to cover what she was writing and ended up spilling her acorn tea all over it. “Sorry!” Ron squeaked and rushed to help her clean up the spill he’d inadvertently caused. The letter was ruined, but at least Ron didn’t see it, she thought.

“Ron!” she complained anyway. “It took me forever to figure out the right consistency for acorn tea!” 

“I’m sorry , ‘Mione. I was just going to suggest taking the locket from you… You looked agitated,” he said bluntly but seemed genuine.

Hermione all but threw the horcrux at him and stormed into her “room” in the tent. She fell onto her makeshift cot and sobbed into her pillow. Nothing was fair! She’d had to make so many sacrifices in the past few months and no one had remembered her birthday. Neither of the boys dared to follow her into her room and had left her to cry herself to sleep.

She blushed as the blonde head of the angel bent to kiss her hand. This must be heaven. Hermione wore a flowing white gown with sprigs of lavender woven into her hair. They were standing in a field of those same flowers at sunset, the sky soft pink and vibrant orange. 

After he stood up, she still hadn’t seen his face properly, but his skin was like porcelain from what she’d seen. He was wearing a white three-piece suit and when she looked down, Hermione realized he’d slipped a ring onto her finger.

It was a large sapphire surrounded by black small diamonds with a silver band and setting. The ring seemed to contrast everything, but it was quite extravagant and lovely in its own uniqueness. She looked up to find a blonde witch staring at her expectantly with a smile. Was she in her year at Hogwarts? A Slytherin, Daphne, was it?

“I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss the bride,” Daphne said, her white Hellenic dress draped elegantly against the breeze.

Hermione panicked but realized she must have missed the rest of the ceremony. Perhaps, this was how it happened in heaven. A gentle hand stroked her cheek -- the angel wanted to kiss her.

She closed her eyes and turned to him. Soft, warm lips pressed against hers, a hand resting on her waist. She could feel the heat radiating from his body and it made her shudder with want. Hermione had never been touched like this by a boy, as though she were precious. Her first kiss with Viktor was nothing like this. He’d tried to snog the living daylights out of her, shoving his tongue down her throat. 

The angel was gentle, pliant and attentive as she stepped closer to him so their torsos were pressed together. Hermione allowed her hands to tangle in his feathery hair as she let him deepen the kiss. She moaned into his mouth when their tongues met, the taste of him like mint and sage. It was masculine and familiar. 

He relinquished her lips too soon for her pleasure. Their foreheads rested against one another, his neck craned down towards her. She opened her eyes to finally see him straight on.

Her stomach fluttered and dropped as if she were on a broom falling from a great height. Molten mercury eyes, darkened by passion, met hers. She pulled away suddenly.

“Malfoy?” her voice shook, her body shook and she woke up. 

Her dreams had betrayed her, her subconscious body had too. It tricked her into wanting him, or her dream version of him. Hermione’s eyes were swollen from crying, but she felt the slick between her legs. It had felt so real: the softness of his platinum hair, the gentleness of his hands and lips on hers, and the warmth of his body. 

How could she dream about him being so tender? He’d carried her several times in the Underworld while she’d been passed out and drugged, but he’d also nearly strangled her too. Malfoy was mercurial, that was for sure. Was her attraction to him due to the ancient magic binding them to their roles? It had to be, that’s why her clit was throbbing and her arousal was flaring.

Hermione decided to take care of her little problem anyway, no matter what caused it. It didn’t have to be Malfoy who she imagined. Her dream man was faceless, strong yet gentle as she stroked her clit and pleasured herself. Though, the last thing she saw before she came around her own fingers were his eyes, those dark silver eyes watching her.

Chapter Text

Draco woke up painfully hard -- not just the usual morning wood. His bollocks felt sore as he remembered the dream he had of Hermione. They were being married by Hera -- Daphne Greengrass -- and Persephone looked radiant. He’d put his family ring on her finger and she’d let him kiss her, pressing her body against him. 

He wasn’t sure who had deepened the kiss, but the brush of her tongue nearly made him cum in his pants. She didn’t even shy away when he pressed his erection into her soft, flat stomach. And then he’d woken up.

Draco was truly screwed. Would she ever be able to accept him? Would she ever forgive him? Would she ever want to… 

He fisted his cock and imagined what Granger would feel like. Would she be wet for him? Draco thought he’d noticed her checking him out. He pretended that she wanted him, even for a few minutes as he tugged on his prick, imagining her riding him.

Her brown curls fell in a curtain around them as she bounced up and down on his cock. Her arse pressed into his blue balls and she was moaning. He’d hit the right spot inside her as he bucked up into her velvety heat. Draco imagined her tits with puckered, dusky nipples bouncing as she rode him faster and faster…

His toes curled as one last thrust jetted his seed onto his own stomach. If fucking Granger was anything like that… he was in trouble if he thought she’d ever let him get near enough for him to do anything sexual in nature to her. 

Then, he remembered: it had been her birthday yesterday! He cursed that he couldn’t tell her he hoped she was having a good day, couldn’t give her a gift. Alas, Draco could only feel the occasional warmth of the galleon in his pocket. His heart soared and plummeted as he remembered that it would only be a few more days until she was trapped in the Underworld with him.

It was his dream and his nightmare simultaneously. Draco had no one but himself to blame. 

***

“So today’s the day, huh?” Theo drawled from the corner.

Draco rolled his eyes. The prat wouldn’t drop it! Instead of dignifying Thanatos with a comment, he brusquely left his office to meet Persephone at the gates where he’d last seen her. Dread and nervous excitement plagued him.

Thanatos’ constant yapping about what a love-sick fool he was didn’t help his mood either. Draco nearly forgot about his favorite thing about being Hades. The incessant talking ceased as Theo was sucked into the ground and transported to a different section of Hell. 

Hermes had just landed with Hermione as he strolled up to the gothic gates. At her appearance, he was concerned first and foremost. She looked half-starved and infrequently bathed. Her hair looked straw-like, eyes hollowed out. What had happened to her? 

“Thanks, Hermes,” Draco tried to say with as little sarcasm as he could. The trickster gave him a delirious grin as if he could see right through Hades’ heart. He swallowed and turned to Hermione.

Draco whistled for Fluffy. He felt envious when Hermione’s eyes lit up at seeing the hellhound. Why couldn’t that expression be for him? 

His stomach clenched at the sound of her laugh as Fluffy’s giant heads took turns nuzzling her. Despite her haggard appearance, a smile lit up her entire being. It was magical after months in Hell. 

“Alright boy, settle down!” he commanded and mounted the beast, pulling Hermione up with him. She was definitely lighter than when he’d done that months before... 

Draco watched her face morph into disbelief as he showed her into her quarters. This was what he’d focused on for the summer. He needed to believe that she was at least comfortable in the Underworld while she was staying here. She had a sitting room, which led into her bedroom complete with a four-poster bed and an attached bathroom with a shower and bathtub as well as a walk-in closet. While she never struck him as a witch obsessed with clothes, he wanted to make her feel welcome. 

Gryffindor red was too obnoxious for his taste, so he’d gone with shades of violet like the dress she’d worn to the Yule Ball. He’d paired it with gold accents to mimic her Hogwarts House colors. Draco knew from Snape that she hadn’t gone back to school this year, but he didn’t know where she’d been or why she looked like she’d been homeless for months. 

Hermione had been mesmerized by the size of the closet, which, with the help of his mother, he’d provided her with cashmere jumpers and socks, flannel pajamas, a plush robe, and slippers to stave off the cold in the Underworld. The rest of it, he’d assumed, she would fill with some of her own clothes. She stood there staring into space with her arms hugging herself. 

“Hermes didn’t tell you to pack a bag?” Draco asked hesitantly, rather annoyed if this was the case.

He was relieved when she pulled out a small beaded bag that any other witch would take to a special occasion. Raising an eyebrow at her, she sheepishly reached her entire arm into the tiny purse in response. His jaw dropped. 

“An extension charm, eh, Granger? Clever.”

She grimaced. “It’s all I had with me when we were attacked, so I really don’t have many clothes or anything.” 

“Attacked?” Draco said with more concern than he meant to reveal.

She nodded. “First, at Bill and Fleur’s wedding and then after we broke into the Ministry.” He nodded. His father had told him about the second daring plan carried out by Potter and his sidekicks. Their successful scheme had infuriated the Death Eaters. 

“Don’t tell me any more, I don’t want to know where Potter and Weasley are in case I’m interrogated,” he said hastily. 

He groaned internally when she bit her lip, eyeing him and the room. “Thank you for this, Malfoy. These rooms really are too much. They’re lovely, but I’m not used to this… extravagance.” 

Why was she acting so shy and meek? As if they were complete strangers… maybe that was better? To put their past behind them and start over. 

He waved his hand at her gratitude as if it all were nothing, as if he hadn’t spent over a month designing and decorating. “My mother helped a lot. She always said I had a fairly spartan style of living if I was left to decorating,” he said flippantly.

Hermione chuckled to his surprise. “I can’t imagine that. You were always kind of a ponce,” she teased. 

So much for forgetting the past…. “Well, not all of us can be brave and brilliant, Granger.”

Her eyes grew wide at the casual compliment. Draco mentally kicked himself.  

“I believe you were second in our classes, Malfoy, so you were still pretty brilliant even if you weren’t brave,” she remarked.

He ran a hand through his hair, trying to not show the blush creeping up his neck. They were being civil, which was better than he could expect, but now there was an awkward silence and he didn’t know what to say.

“Do you mind if I shower? I haven’t had a real wash in weeks,” she asked. 

He shook his head. “Not at all. I’ll leave you to it. There are towels in the bathroom. I’ll see if I can find you more clothes to wear than what’s in there.”

Draco couldn’t look at her now that he was picturing what she’d be doing after he left. She’d be naked in the shower, water caressing her smooth skin. He all but ran from her bedroom.

Now where in the hell was he going to get clothing for this petite witch? 

***

Hermione didn’t want to leave the shower, but her hands were pruned. The steam and heat warmed her through the bone for the first time in weeks. She’d probably looked like a wraith or banshee when she showed up, but at least that look was probably better than most of the shades in the Underworld. Part of her felt guilty for bathing and luxuriating in the comforts Malfoy had provided her when her best friends were hiding out in the forest. 

Living and surviving in the woods with two teenage boys wasn’t quite a picnic, though. She was responsible for pretty much everything besides the horcrux when it wasn’t her turn. She’d cooked what little they had, put up protection spells, laundered their clothes, etc. Hermione had a newfound respect for Mrs. Weasley and her numerous male offspring.

Speaking of the Weasleys, she felt like she could devour the same amount of food as Ronald at a feast. Her stomach no longer growled, but the hunger gnawed at her. Reluctantly, she turned off the shower and wrapped a fluffy, deep purple towel. Had Malfoy known that her favorite color was violet? Perhaps, it was a coincidence. 

Unwilling to deal with her unruly curls, she dried them as best as she could and tied them into a messy bun atop her head. She changed into a pair of flannel pajamas and encased her feet in the softest slippers she’d ever felt and shuffled out into the sitting room feeling pampered.

Hermione’s mouth watered upon discovering the delectable spread on the coffee table. It was a Sunday roast and more food than she’d seen in over a month. She made herself eat slowly as she salivated and gulped. There was even tea service to wash everything down.

Though she usually savored her solitude, it felt a little creepy without anyone near her in the Underworld. She didn’t know where Draco’s rooms were in relation to hers and didn’t know where he was or what he usually did. What time was it, even?

A knock sounded at the door. “Come in,” Hermione called politely.

Malfoy came in with something in his hands. He was dressed leisurely as she’d seen him before in a cable knit jumper with dark trousers. However, now, if she knew any better she’d say he looked nervous.

A small spark appeared and she realized that he was holding a small cake with a candle in it. “Happy Belated Birthday,” he said with a genuine smile.

She should be horrified; however, she was pleasantly surprised. While her best friends had forgotten about her birthday in their dire situation, a boy who’d tormented her years before had remembered. Hermione wanted to believe that this wasn’t some Slytherin ploy to gain her trust. They were in a difficult, unprecedented situation and he was trying to make the best of it.

“Oh, Malfoy. Thank you! Really, this is all too much,” she gestured to the room and food.

He shook his head. “It’s my fault you’re in this mess, so please, I insist this is me trying to make it up to you.”

The flame reflecting in his metallic eyes made her stomach flip. They were filled with something, dare she say desire? No, that couldn’t be. Just the amount of food she’d consumed and the smell of chocolate from the cake.

Malfoy set the cake in front of her on the table after magically clearing the other dishes. Instead of sitting next to her on the settee, he sat in the arm chair to her left. Eagerly, she blew out the candle, only for it to spark back to life after the smoke cleared. 

She heard him chuckle and looked at him in confusion. “You have to make a birthday wish, Granger,” he drawled. Hermione glanced back and the candle and realized he’d re-lit it wandlessly.

“How did you know--”

He shook his head with a smirk. “I know you didn’t make a wish.” She huffed indignantly, but paused for a second to think of something.

What she really wanted was to not be in this situation at all. Hermione blew the candle out again. And yet, the candle reignited again!

“Malfoy!” she complained.

“You have wish for something that’s at least possible,” he criticized.

Hermione glared at him, but he sat there seeming bored, drumming his fingers on the armrest. How did he know what she’d wished for? Was he practicing legilimency without her knowing?

She thought for another minute and then blew it out again. The smoke turned into golden glitter shimmering as it fell into jimmies on top of the cake. It was a small, lovely piece of magic. Hermione smiled.

Malfoy stood with a lazy grin. “I hope your wish comes true, Granger. Surely Potter and Weasley won’t get into too much trouble without you around.”

Chapter Text

Before the smoke dissipated, Draco bid her goodnight and his long legs took him three strides out of her sitting room. Had he made himself appear too sentimental? Had he been too honest? Honesty wasn’t really part of the Slytherin creed: half-truths and white lies were, but even a lazy voice speaking the unadulterated truth left him feeling vulnerable.

Draco had bared his heart to a Gryffindor lion and she’d been speechless. Rather, he hadn’t really given her the chance to respond, to react, at least in his sight line. He didn’t even realize that he’d been walking in the opposite direction of his chambers until it was too late...

“Hades?” A seductive voice called. Fuck…

Draco slapped on his best fake smile and turned towards the set of rooms that made his guts twist and balls shrink into his body. Hecate slithered up to him, her fingers starting to crawl up his chest. He cringed away.

“How are you, Hecate? I didn’t expect to see you here. I thought you’d be back at Hogwarts,” he said as evenly as possible. 

“Oh Draco, I just had to come visit you for the weekend to see that you’re not too lonely here,” she whined. Her dark hair tickled his nose, her curls coiling like Medusa’s snakes. She was a perfectly lovely girl, but she came on too strong and he wasn’t interested despite his father’s insistence on the match. That’s how she got her role.

He smirked, trying not to let her visibly ruffle him. “Astoria, I’ve got thousands of dead people to keep me company. Thanatos has also been a frequent visitor. You shouldn’t go to this much trouble for me.” 

Discreetly, he tried to take a step back from her, but Astoria seemed to anticipate it and moved with him. She was glued to him, her clear blue eyes focused on his every move. She had porcelain skin, but it made his own skin crawl to touch her. Hecate was too doll-like for the role, but he had to put up with her nonetheless. 

“It’s no trouble at all, Hades. I like to get away from that drafty castle. Would you like to come in for a nightcap?” Astoria flashed a devious smile and he could feel the heat from her body as close as she was to him. 

He tried not to look back toward Granger’s rooms. Draco didn’t want Hecate to know that Persephone had come to steal him away from her. He was surprised, actually, that his father hadn’t summoned him or told the Greengrasses about Granger. Draco wondered if his mother had even told his father. 

“I have an early appointment with my father tomorrow, so I’ll have to decline,” he lied easily.

She pressed more firmly up against him, her soft, lithe body so small compared to his. And yet, Draco didn’t want her. He probably could have risen to the occasion if he bent to his natural urges, but he was detached from her. He wanted…

“Malfoy?” He froze as if he’d been hit with a full body-bind. 

Double fuck !

“Hermione Granger?” Astoria peered around him. Draco pinched the bridge of his nose. This couldn’t get any worse…

“Yes, hello,” Granger said hesitantly, walking closer to them. 

Astoria looked up at him. “What is she doing here, Draco?”

“I didn’t mean to interrupt…” Granger began, her swotty voice inserting itself. Draco’s mind was spinning, trying to figure out what to do. 

“Astoria, you know, I will take that nightcap. Do you have firewhiskey?” he said, turning his back fully on Granger. Astoria gave him a coy smile and turned back to her room. 

While Astoria was babbling on about something, clearly distracted from the Gryffindor’s presence now, Draco turned back to the witch behind him.

“Granger, wait for me in your rooms. I won’t have you wandering about.”

“But…”

“Go!” he said sternly. The torches in the corridor flared wildly. He didn’t have to watch her to know that she had huffed and stomped back to her rooms.

It should have given him more pleasure to make Granger scurry away, but he didn’t like any of this sneaking around. Even Hades couldn’t control everything in his Underworld. Draco took a deep breath to steel himself for what he had to do. 

“Thank you,” he said, smiling fakely at Hecate through his mask. She’d poured herself a finger of St. Germaine and clinked her glass against his. 

“Are you going to tell me why Hermione Granger is here? I assume she hasn’t died,” Astoria said dryly. 

He grimaced and drained his tumbler. “Frankly, it’s none of your business, Tori.”

“Clearly, since it’s gotten you so flustered, Draco.” She turned to refill his glass and he pulled out his wand.

Obliviate, ” he casted. In slow motion, Draco watched the tumbler falling from her hand and he rushed over to catch it, wrapping an arm around her waist in the process.

“Oh!” Astoria said in response to him catching her swooning. “I’m sorry, I felt a bit faint just then. What were we talking about?”

He swallowed the bile in his throat. “I was saying how lovely you look tonight.” She flushed as he helped her to stand upright. 

“Thank you, Draco.” She licked her lips and her gaze went to his mouth. He had to do this… he had to ensure she was distracted, that she truly forgot. It disgusted him to do it.

Her lips were wet and warm against his, but she barely responded to him. He pulled away quickly and seemed to leave her dazed, eyes closed. Her eyes fluttered opened, lips still parted.

“I should go, I have an early appointment with my father in the morning.”

He’d wiped that line of conversation from her mind, so she looked shocked at this announcement. 

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier? I wouldn’t have asked you in. Will I see you tomorrow, Draco?”

He shook his head. “I have a lot of business to attend to. You should return to Hogwarts, Astoria. Focus on your studies and don’t let me distract you,” he said in what he hoped was a brotherly tone.

“But, Draco… We’re meant for each other. Our parents are drawing up contracts.”

He tucked a finger under her chin and he eyes widen. “I know. But I need to focus on the Dark Lord’s plans. You shouldn’t worry yourself over me. We’ll be together when He triumphs.”

She nodded sensibly. He prayed the day never came when those promises would come true. At least Astoria appeared pacified by the kiss and what he’d said. She needed to stay away from him for now. 

“Good night,” Draco bid with a bow and exited her rooms. 

He felt sick to his stomach during his walk to Granger’s rooms. Astoria was innocent in all this, but for Granger’s safety, no one outside the few who knew about Persephone could find out. He was risking everything for her, for a witch he barely knew. A witch he was supposed to hate.

Upon entering her sitting room, he was immediately assaulted by her wand to his throat. Draco gazed down at her with tired eyes, waiting for her challenge.

“What did you do to her?” Granger demanded, fire in her eyes. 

“I didn’t hurt her if that’s what you mean.” That answer didn’t appease her. 

“I’ve seen her at Hogwarts, Malfoy. I know she’s a student. You had that Slytherin glint in your eye. What did you do?” 

He was a little flattered that she had recognized something so subtle about him. Draco had to fight the urge to smirk in satisfaction. 

"I don't usually kiss and tell, Granger."

Her face flushed and the redness traveled down her neck. She looked away from him, pursing her lips.

"That's no-not what I meant, Malfoy. Stop toying with me," Granger asserted, want still at his throat.

He sighed, unable to relish his achievement in flustering Hermione Granger. Resetting his face into his usual mask, he resigned to tell her.

“I wiped her memory of seeing you and that conversation,” he said nonchalantly. She withdrew her wand.

She shook her head in disapproval. “I thought so.” 

“What would you have had me do, Granger? She showed up unexpectedly and no one can know you’re here.”

Granger rolled her eyes. “Yes, because that would certainly ruin your reputation…”

He snarled at her, striding up to her and taking her by the arms. “You know that’s bollocks! I did this for you, Granger. If Voldemort finds out you’re here… You will be tortured, you will die and then the war will be lost,” he yelled, shaking her. 

Instead of looking fearful, she was confused. For what seemed like the million time she questioned, “Why do you care, Malfoy?” 

He sighed. “I didn’t want to be a Death Eater, Granger. I didn’t want anything to change. I didn’t want my mother to be in danger. I didn’t want to become Hades. I didn’t want to alter Astoria’s memories, I didn't want to kiss…” Tears welled up and phlegm blocked his throat from continuing.

To his complete surprise, she wrapped her arms around his waist, her rogue curls tickling under his chin. His arms folded around her shoulders from where he’d been shaking her. Draco wanted to collapse around her like a supernova and fade into oblivion. If anything, that is what he was doing by hiding her away in the Underworld. 

“Either you’re a really good actor or you really do have a heart, Draco Malfoy,” she mumbled into his chest.

He hummed. “Don’t you feel it beating?” Draco whispered. Indeed, his pulse had started racing at her proximity. 

“Mmhmm… Malfoy?” she asked, tilting her chin up. Their mouths were mere inches apart.

“Yes, Granger.”

“What happens between us now? Why does this feel…”

“Comfortable?” he supplied, not wanting to pull away yet. 

She snorted slightly. “I was going to say strange, but it’s comfortable in a way.”

A knock on the door made them jump apart as the door opened. Thanatos’ head poked through with a devious smile. Draco rolled his eyes and had the urge to flip him off. Theo was like a bloodhound and seemed to always know where to find him in the Underworld.

“I hope I’m not interrupting something, but my friend here was eager to see you both,” Theo drawled and a witch entered the room.

Draco’s eyes widened. “Hera.”

Chapter Text

“Hello, Hades, Persephone,” the goddess said serenely. Her blonde hair flowed down her shoulders and the pink draping dress fell to the floor. The Greengrass sisters shared doll-like features, but Daphne had a grace Astoria lacked.

“I was asking how good ol’ Zeus was doing, but she wouldn’t answer me,” Theo said mockingly and Draco rolled his eyes. 

Hera/Daphne shot him a cold glare before turning a dazzling smile on Granger. “How are you doing, Hermione?” 

Granger looked as though she’d seen a boggart or a dementor. She was blinking rapidly at Daphne, her eyes wide.

“You’re Hera?” Granger confirmed, still looking shocked.

Daphne nodded and took Granger’s hands in hers. The Gryffindor seemed even more flustered by the hand holding. Was Hera giving off some queenly vibe that Draco didn’t sense? Theo, on the other hand, had a shite-eating grin about something.

“Goddess of Marriage and Birth?” Granger babbled, staring at her own hands in Daphne’s. Patiently, Daphne nodded again.

The Gryffindor princess was in a trance. Draco started to worry until Hera began speaking in a low, confiding voice.

“Persephone, you had the dream, didn’t you?” Granger blushed and nodded.

“I didn’t know…” Hera hushed her. 

“It will happen when you’re ready,” the Queen of Goddesses proclaimed and glanced at Draco with a warning look. “I would like to speak to Hermione in private, Draco.”

Thanatos was looking lecherous as the witches went into Granger’s bedroom and closed the double doors. 

“Why the fuck are you here, Theo?” Draco snarled.

“To watch this Greek tragedy unfold, of course,” Theo smirked.

***

Daphne sat next to her on the tufted bench at the end of her bed. While Hermione knew that the goddess was the same age as her, Hera seemed so much more mature and at peace than she’d ever considered herself. She was wringing her hands and Daphne laid one of her soft palms on top to steady her. Her serene blue eyes captivated Hermione.

“Don’t be anxious, Persephone. You are soon to take on the role of one of the most powerful goddesses, which hasn’t been occupied since the actual Persephone. You are the Queen of the Underworld, one of the three realms.”

Hermione bit her lip but spoke her wonderings aloud anyway. “Can you tell me more about the roles in comparison to the actual gods and goddesses?”

Daphne sighed softly. “Always thirsty for knowledge… What I’ve been told is that the gods of old were tired of dealing with humans and so they left the roles to wizardkind because they were human but more powerful than muggles.”

Nodding and trying to file that explanation away, Hermione was startled by Daphne’s other hand on her cheek. “What we should be discussing is how you are feeling about all this.”

“I-I don’t… I know know, really. While I didn’t want to abandon Harry and Ron, I can’t help but feel a little relieved not to be… erm… where they are,” Hermione tried to reason.

Hera smiled again. “I understand, and you can tell me anything. Kingsley, Zeus, already knows where your friends are. Don’t worry, help from the Order will come for them.”

“You’re married to Kingsley?!” Hermione blurted out. 

Daphne took in a deep breath and leveled her with an even stare. “We are not. Kingsley was already married when he took the role. His wife did not want to pursue the role of Hera and it passed to me many years later. Trust me, it’s a common joke among many in this small community,” Hera explained with a touch of exasperation.

“So you can refuse a role? Why can’t I refuse Persephone?” Hermione asked desperately.

Hera gave her a sad smile, her blue eyes nearly weeping for her. “Unfortunately, with the circumstances surrounding your role -- your capture and pomegranate seeds -- and the extent of time that it hasn’t been filled, it’s impossible for you to do so. There really isn’t a law or decree dictating this world, but it’s fate, really.”

Hermione willed herself to take a deep breath. “I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, it’s just all so unexpected… Does this mean I must marry Malfoy?”

With a nod, Daphne said, “As you are both unmarried and of age, you are obligated to marry him, but only in this realm. In the wizarding world, you may be able to hide and deny it, but here, you will be his queen, his wife, until your roles are passed on.”

“When do they pass on?”

“Three years is the typical starting period, but if one wishes it may be longer.” Hermione shook her head. She basically had to stay married to Malfoy for 18 months out of three years. That was a long time to be attached to someone…

“You have time, though, Hermione. As I said, you will marry him when you are ready,” Daphne said gently.

Tears gathered in the corners of her eyes. “What if I’m never ready?”

“You will be. The Fates have told of it before you and now.”

It was all so mysterious. No one seemed to have a concrete understanding of this ancient world of the so-called Immortals. Which dimension were those lazy gods and goddesses in? Were there alternate realities? How would anyone know if everyone kept them secret like this Immortal world?

“Come back to me, Hermione,” Daphne said calmly, squeezing her hands. 

She blinked and realized she’d gone into the depths of her mind. “Sorry.”

“Trust me, this will all work out. You and Draco need to be honest with each other. Talk to each other. You have more in common than you consciously realize. Be good to one another. I know he’s making an effort with you. When Draco tries with all his heart, he succeeds,” Daphne said in a prophetic voice, her eyes blazing into Hermione’s. 

It made her tremble, so much so that the knock at the door made her jump from the bench. Daphne bid whoever it was to enter. Theo poked his head in.

“We gotta get going, Hera,” he said, his eyes roving around Hermione’s bedroom. “Nice digs you got here, Granger.” And Theo winked at her. 

Daphne sighed and moved to follow him out, but not before saying, “Remember what I said, Persephone.”

Hermione watched her go. Despite her status at Hogwarts and in the Wizarding world, these gods and goddesses were treating her with kindness. Even before she was forced into being Persephone, they were more or less courteous. And so far, Draco seemed to be trying to make up for everything he’d done to her upon her return. 

It was difficult for her to take everything Daphne said as truth, but her own observations had proven it. Draco Malfoy, Hades, God of the Underworld, was trying to protect her in the ways he knew how. Pixies fluttered in her stomach as a blonde head peeked in through the door ajar. 

“Are you okay?” he asked, standing halfway in and out of her room.

“I suppose… Come in, please. We should talk.” 

Malfoy obliged and stood by the fireplace as if he were posing for a nineteenth-century portrait. He lit a fire with the snap of his fingers, the glow warming the room more than the heat.

“What did Hera say?” he asked, still staring into the hearth.

Hermione bit her lip, trying to choose her words. “She said we will marry when we’re ready. And that you were trying, trying to get along with me. Are you… erm… ready?”

“Ready to marry you?” His silver eyes glinted at her. “We’re only seventeen and eighteen.”

“She said three years was the starting period.” Malfoy nodded as his gaze returned to the flames.

Hermione approached him, cautiously. “And we’ve known each other for nearly seven at Hogwarts?” 

He snorted. “Know is a strong word, Granger. I was a bully and a spoiled prat. Still am… All I know about you is that you’re top of the class, brilliant, loyal to your friends, and you have a mean right hook.”

He smirked at her and looked away again. Was he flirting with her? Before it seemed like they could have… 

“You’re right, we don’t know each other very well. And it’s not like we have classes to go to tomorrow. Let's stay up and get to know each other,” she proposed decisively. 

Malfoy looked at her dubiously, as if she were offering him something he suspected contained poison. “You should really get some rest. We have time, it can wait.” He turned to leave but she grabbed his wrist. 

That dark glint was back in his eyes for a split second and then it was gone. “Tell me one thing I don’t know about you for now. I’ll tell you something in return,” Hermione bargained. 

He thought, his eyes tracing something behind her. “I hate the color green.”

She wanted to roll her eyes at his shallow answer, but they had to start somewhere. “The sorting hat wanted to put me in Slytherin, but I told it that I needed to be brave because all I knew of magic was from books, to bolster my courage, so it put me in Gryffindor.”

To her surprise, he smirked. “I always thought you were cunning enough, Granger,” Malfoy drawled, his eyes alive with interest. He took her hand and bent to kiss it.

His lips felt like they had in her prophetic dream: soft yet firm and gone far too soon. Heat bloomed inside her, unbidden and sudden. Her breath hitched at the sensations spreading within her simply at his touch. 

Was this part of their fate? Were their roles pushing them together? Was it their situation, their proximity? When he closed the door with an uttered ‘goodnight,’ she stood there breathless.

Hermione gathered herself and grabbed a book to read until she fell asleep.