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The Language of Flowers

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Warm-up Round Prompt: Roses/Love

Title: Bone of Contention
Rating: T
Word count: 370
Warning/Tags: Major Character Death; Grief.


It was a sunny day in May, uncharacteristically cold for this time of the year. Two people were standing at the far end of a throng of black and dreary robes, whispering amongst themselves.

 

Did you see the bouquet Malfoy brought? Unbelievable. 

Wreath of wrath, said the other person, laughing hollowly. 

I wonder what he thought, said the first. He must be confused, surely.

Thought? The other person snorted. I don’t think he spared anyone a thought, other than himself. 

 

The queue edged forward.

 

Well. Person One sniffled. Maybe he was touched by her. Like we all were. You know…

Don’t believe it, said Person Two. And in any case, that’s hardly the way to show it. 


Finally reaching the front, they, just like the numerous mourners before them, placed their flowers onto the casket. Person One conjured a wreath of Christmas roses. 

Oh god. Look, said Person Two under their breath, nodding towards the sepulchral arrangement. A shame, they said louder, addressing the hosts. We’re so, so sorry.

So sad, said Person One, and gave out hugs to all the teary-eyed people lining the casket like a string of black pearls. What a tragedy.

Thank you for coming, said Harry Potter thickly, pulling Ginny Weasley tightly to his side. Silent tears were dripping down her face while she kept nodding to nobody in particular, her shoulders quaking. 

Yeah, thanks, said Ron Weasley. He was hard-faced and staring at the back of the row. Hermione would’ve been so happy to see everyone united at her grave. 

Person Two snorted again which got them an elbow in the rib by Person One. They retreated, once again gaping at the simple light-brown casket, slightly elevated and buried beneath a sea of flowers. Most were white, lilies or callas, pristine and in full bloom, just like the young woman laying inside who’d barely reached her twenties — except for an enormous, deep red bouquet of thornless roses. 

Indecent, said Person Two, pursing their lips. A disgrace.

What was he thinking, Person One replied, shaking their head. Doesn’t he know the first thing about the language of flowers?

Unbelievable. Person Two nodded gravely.

They turned back, debating where to go for lunch.

Chapter Text

First Round Prompt: Lavender/Admiration

Title: Drunk on Lavender
Rating: T
Word count: 497
Warning/Tags: Alcohol consumption. Drunk flirting.

 

Hermione scowled across the Three Broomsticks. 

‘Why the face, Granger?’

Someone slid onto the bench next to her, following her gaze to the bar where Ron and Lavender were an unsavoury display of hands and mouths. Even through her irritation, Hermione noted that this someone smelled very nice indeed. Belatedly, she realised the implications.

‘Go away, Malfoy.’

‘Why do you let it bother you so much?'

‘Let it bother me?’ Hermione snorted. ‘How could I not, considering…’ She gestured angrily at the sight before them. Lavender was straddling Ron's lap, giggling at every word whispered into her ear.

Malfoy made a strange sound, and Hermione finally tore her gaze away to look at him properly. He was staring at her in an odd, intense sort of way. Odder still, he was smiling. Oddest of all was Hermione’s reaction. Her heart started thumping wildly in her chest.

‘What's your problem?’ she demanded, grabbing her glass and gulping down so much Firewhisky she choked. 

‘I’m sorry to say but I can’t help but find it all amusing. Weren't you the one who broke it off in the first place?’

‘Doesn't mean I enjoy him going on the rebound not 24 hours later.’ Malfoy, the delicious-smelling bastard, chuckled. ‘Yes, yes, very funny. But I’d bet my Order of Merlin you'd feel differently if it was Astoria over there grinding on him.’

Malfoy snorted. ‘Wouldn't care a two-sickle toss if it was.’ 

He edged closer, and Hermione suddenly realised why his scent was so appealing. Beneath piney and citrusy notes, there was lavender. Gosh, how she used to love lavender… She chanced another glance at him. He was still watching her like that. Her cheeks heated and she averted her gaze, head spinning. Ron and Lavender over there, lavender swirling all around her… it was too much. 

‘I've got to go,’ she said, standing abruptly. 

‘Oi, Hermione!’ Harry came staggering towards them, a drink in one hand, the other wrapped around Ginny’s waist. ‘You're not leaving?’ 

‘I really should…’ 

Harry frowned at the collection of empty crystal glasses strewn across the table. ‘But you're not apparating. Mates don't let mates drink 'n apparate!’ He grinned, extremely pleased with his Muggle reference. 

‘You're not sober either, mister.’ Ginny said, giggling.

Harry shushed her, prompting Ginny to hold his mouth shut with her hands, which somehow ended with them snogging against the table. 

‘Great.’ Hermione rolled her eyes. ‘My cue to exit.’ She bent to collect her beaded bag. Unfortunately, five Firewhiskies consumed in under an hour didn’t come without consequences. She stumbled forward. 
 
‘Careful there!’ Malfoy caught her around the waist. ‘Tut tut,’ he said, his breath tingling on her neck which, embarrassingly, awoke butterflies in her stomach. ‘Mates don't let mates drink and apparate.’ 

She leaned into him, drunk on the olfactory cocktail of floral earthiness. ‘Mates?’ 

‘Mmmm…’ Malfoy hummed and another whiff of lavender sent all her objections flying out of the window. ‘Depends on how drunk you really are…'

Chapter Text

 

Second Round Prompt: Gardenia/Secret Love
Title: The Posy
Rating: T
Word count: 500
Warning/Tags: co-workers to lovers; mutual pining

 


 

“We've got to stop doing this!” said Hermione, brushing off her jeans.

 

“And what exactly is ‘this’?” Draco stood and offered an arm.

 

Hermione glanced around, frowning. They were in the remains of an enormous gardenia bush which had been their hiding place up until a quarter of an hour ago. They were supposed to be watching Mundungus Fletcher who was allegedly flogging hexed Muggle objects. The thing was, whenever Draco and Hermione spent an extended period of time alone, they always ended up… destroying the shrubbery. Hermione was at a total loss why that kept happening.

 

“Why does this keep happening?” she said out loud, plucking a white petal out of Draco's hair.

 

He watched her closely, his eyes a storm of swirling grey. “You tell me, Granger.”

 

Hermione froze. “Ugh,” she said finally, stomping off. Draco grinned and followed hot on her heels, but not before picking the single unblemished gardenia out of the bush they had just annihilated.

 


 

Less than a fortnight later, they found themselves, once again, hiding out in shrubbery. As fate would have it, another gardenia.

 

“Isn't this just lovely,” said Draco, sneering at the dirt staining his robes.

 

“Such a drama queen,” said Hermione, smiling fondly. “Hold on!” She squinted at something in the distance.

 

Draco edged closer, coming up behind her. “What is it?”

 

“Mind giving me some space?” His arm was brushing her chest.

 

“It's not as if there’s much room, is there?” said Draco roughly.

 

“How am I,” said Hermione, her cheeks a deep magenta, “supposed to concentrate if you keep groping me?”

 

Groping you?” Draco snorted, though a blush spread from his neck up to the tips of his ears. “I am not groping you. This would be groping you!” He brazenly put his wand hand on her front, raising an eyebrow. Hermione gasped, but then, lifting her chin in defiance, she put her own hand someplace else that had him whimpering.

 

 

The bush with its pretty white flowers did not survive the next fifteen minutes.

 


 

Five days later, Hermione and Draco found themselves in Harry Potter’s office.

 

“I must say, rarely have I been this disappointed.”

 

He frowned at the pair of them. Hermione’s hair was a single mess, twigs and leaves sticking out everywhere. Draco didn’t look any better. There were smudges of dirt all over his robes with a few blossoms decorating his shirt.

 

“Care to explain what’s gotten into you?”

 

Draco’s lips quivered and he looked to Hermione. Blushing, she studied her stained boots. “I’m sorry.”

 

Sorry?” Harry’s voice had become slightly shrill. “After months and months, that’s hardly enough anymore. I need an explanation. Please!”

 

Draco sighed heavily. Out of his robes, he fished a delicate posy. There were wild roses, lavender, and forget-me-nots, and also two sprigs of gardenia.

 

Hermione looked up at him, her eyes widening, watching breathlessly.

 

“You want the honest answer, I take it?” he said roughly, and, with great care, placed the bouquet onto the desk.

Chapter Text

Third Round Prompt: Peonies/Compassion

Title: Happy Birthday
Rating: T
Word Count: 495
Warnings: Implied Alcohol Abuse

 

Draco Malfoy hated his birthday. Draco Malfoy hated his birthday so much, in fact, that he couldn’t recall a time when he hadn’t hated his birthday.

He knocked back a drink, scowling at the generic gifts collecting on the sideboard, mocking him.

How he despised everything birthdays entailed. The fake smiles. The half-hearted well-wishers. The dinners where his father would stiffly toast his good heath, and his mother would hug him, almost smothering him.

Draco hated his mother’s voice getting thin and shaky, as his father’s got surely, while they both avoided the fact that he, at now forty, remained alone, conveniently ignoring the part they had played in that.

His fist closed around his glass as he lifted it to his lips again, emptying it in one swig, numbing any memory of a time before. Why his mother had insisted on throwing him a party this year was a mystery to him. He knew the people she would invite, and the people she wouldn’t. He had endured the kerfuffle for an hour before escaping to the smoking room.

There was a knock, and a hefty and balding man entered. A former classmate — one of the Puceys maybe? After a short chat the man absconded, promises of a soonish lunch made that neither would keep.

Draco levitated the newest addition of liquor to the line-up on the sideboard. A pathetic file of guardsmen watching over him and his loneliness, as they had for more than half his life.

“Happy birthday to me,” Draco muttered and knocked back another. Forty years and the only thing he had truly accomplished was acquiring a strong liver and being an obedient son, and for what.

Another knock had Draco contemplating to lock the door. Before he could decide it was pushed open by someone who couldn’t possibly be here, and because it was so impossible Draco started laughing, until the witch standing there pulled a face.

“I didn’t mean to interrupt but your mother said to just go through and…”

Draco scrambled to his feet, realising in painful clarity that this was not an alcohol-induced delusion, but Hermione Granger in the flesh. Minister Granger. His Granger.

“Fuck,” Draco mumbled as he crossed the room to greet her. “I’m sorry, this is… unexpected—”

Hermione smiled shyly and offered him a gigantic bouquet of flowers.

“Peonies?” Draco froze, the full realisation hitting him. “Are you sure…?” He waited with bated breath.

Granger looked torn, her eyes flickering towards the sofas. “Could we… sit? I think it’s time we talked about… about what happened…”

Draco stared at her, her eyes full of compassion, her lovely face as pink as the petals, and his heart now beating so frantically inside his chest as if it had just lain there, waiting for a chance to get back to her.

“Of course,” he said, leading her into the room, hoping desperately that this might be the chance to like his birthday again. “Let’s talk.”

Chapter Text

Round 4 Prompt: Daffodils/Chivalry

Title: Fighting For Each Other
Rating: G
Word count: 499
Warning/Tags: n/a

 

When fist met chin with a stomach-churning crunch, Hermione felt catapulted back to that night when she’d first learnt about chivalry.

“Chivalry is…” Her dad closed the book about King Arthur he had been reading from as he pondered her question. “It's when you stick up for someone. When you fight for them, at all costs.”

For some reason, that definition stuck. It came to her when the Sorting Hat was lowered over her head and its voice rang through her mind, weighing rationality against heart for what felt like ages. “The question is—” Hermione's heartbeat pounded in her ears as she waited for its judgement. “—how far you would go. What you would do for those dear to you.”

Hermione felt the "everything" rather than she thought it, and the ear-splitting "Gryffindor!" that roared through the Great Hall made her forget about it entirely, that’s how relieved she was.

So it was a long time until Hermione thought about chivalry again. She didn't think about it when she smacked Draco for insulting Hagrid, nor when she yelled at Professor Moody on behalf of Neville. Not even when she sent her parents to Australia and followed Harry around the country, remaining faithfully at his side, even as Ron didn‘t. Hermione simply stuck up for what was right. She fought for justice, and for those she loved.

But for some reason, when Ron’s fist hit Draco's chin, chivalry was the first thing she thought of. Only for a split-second though—then she pulled out her wand.

Petrificus totalus!” she shouted. Ron fell to the ground, stiff as a log of wood. Hermione dropped to her knees, tending to a knocked-out Draco.

“F—fuck,” he muttered as he came to. He tentatively touched his face and winced. “That hurts a lot more than I thought it would.”

Hermione shook her head, chuckling despite herself. “You complete idiot,” she said softly, tracing the skin where a purplish bruise was blooming. “You shouldn't have said that.”

“And what — ignored it?”

“Exactly.” Summoning a tin with Essence of Dittany, she carefully spread it over the bruise.

“Couldn’t well let him call you a—” Draco sucked in a breath when she touched a particularly sore spot.

Suddenly, the office door banged open, and Neville and Harry stormed in. “What happened—”

With an immobilised Ron on the floor and a battered Draco in Hermione’s arms, the situation seemed all too obvious. “Another brawl?” Harry narrowed his eyes. “What did you do this time, Malfoy.”

Malfoy?” Hermione jumped up, her voice shrill. “Ron started it. Malfoy defended me!”

“That’s what I did!” screeched Ron while Neville helped him stand. “He’s hexed you, the Death Eater scum!”

“For the last time,” Hermione shouted angrily, her voice shaking, “His mistakes are in the past. He’s changed, and he’s mine now. And if you can’t accept that—” She took a shuddering breath. Harry, Neville and Draco stared. “Then we‘re done being friends, Ron Weasley!”

Chapter Text

Prompt: Gladiolus/Strength of Character

Title: At the Heart of the Manor

Rating: T

Word count: 497

Warning/Tags: mentions of torture

 

It is ten years after the War, and no-one has seen Hermione Granger since. The last that is known from her is that she’s taken hostage at Malfoy Manor, tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort.

It is believed she’s died under questioning–but there are whispers of a curse. Luna Lovegood insists her spirit lingers, that she’s still somewhere, brave and unbroken. Weasley doesn't believe a thing. He marries another witch with wild hair and kind eyes, but without her strength and wits. Potter keeps searching. He’s aged early, laden with grief and guilt for not saving her then. It’s not enough that he’s defeated Voldemort. It’s not enough that peace is restored.

And how could it?

How, if the witch whose labours made peace possible, isn’t here to enjoy its fruits?

 

It is this Draco Malfoy ponders as he walks through his gardens. Every day the same route, past the neatly-trimmed rose bushes that have lined the Manor walls for centuries; through the Wiggentree groves that hide your sorrow from prying eyes, a place to cry and curse the stars.

The gravel crunches under his feet as he walks up to his favourite place: the heart of the gardens. Amid a labyrinth of Flutterby bushes, quivering into new formations as he passes, there grows a single gladiolus.

It is majestic, beautiful. Over five feet tall, white, with specks of ruby-red, it watches over the gardens, a perfect view of all that is his.

Draco clutches the phial in his left as he falls to his knees in adoration, the secret he guards jealously weighing him down with its responsibility.

Draco knows what’s happened that fateful night ten years ago; the scenes, both horrible and beautiful, have haunted and enchanted his dreams since:

 

Hermione Granger never lost the fire in her eyes as aunt Bella shouted Crucio after Crucio, nor the strength in her heart as the Dark Lord tried and tried to break her mind.

Hermione stays strong, loyal, kind.

Draco still hears the Dark Lord’s cruel laughter as he realises that she won’t give up her secrets.

“You will not bow to me? Then you shall bow to no-one!”

The Gladiolus abruptly sprouting from the Manor floor is meant to be hideous and small. It is tall and white instead, lovelier than anything Draco has seen before.

The Dark Lord falls.

The Gladiolus grows–stronger and stronger each day, safe and secret in the heart of Draco’s garden.

 

Draco pours the potion over the Gladiolus and it preens, turning its majestic head to face him as if to say “Thank you.” The red spots on her pale petals are growing, like she’s blushing. A good sign.

Draco returns her smile. One of these days, he’ll break the curse. One of these days, Hermione Granger will live to enjoy the peace. Until then, he’ll keep her safe, the secret secure. Until then, he sits down to tell her about his day, nurturing her with his love, growing each day.

Chapter Text

Prompt: Statice / Remembrance

Title: To Dobby

Rating: G

Word count: 499

Warning/Tags: N/A

 

Just like every year, Hermione, Harry and Ron stood at Dobby's grave, their arms around each other. The sea breeze, stiff and cold as usual for spring, made Hermione's curls dance around her face. The branches of the ever-blooming statice tree someone had planted a few years ago swayed and filled the air with its sweet, calming fragrance.

Harry sighed deeply. Waving his wand, he conjured a wreath of white lilies and laid it gently onto the stone tomb, next to the many others that were already collecting.

Luna had brought the bouquet of daisies, Dean and Seamus the calla, but the blanket of flowers that covered the grave spoke volumes of the place Dobby held as a war hero. Hermione suspected that it had become somewhat of a pilgrimage site for house-elves around the world. Each year, the wreaths had gotten more exotic, and this year his grave was barely visible anymore.

Hermione conjured an arrangement of bellflowers, and placed it next to Harry’s. The three of them stood in silence. Then they hugged each other and walked, silently, back to Shell Cottage to join the others.

*

They were a raucous bunch at dinner. At first, the Dobby Memorial Party had been a way for them to heal, to replace bad memories with good. But as the years progressed, it wasn’t just their small group that had escaped the Manor anymore; instead, it’d become an opportunity to meet old mates. This anniversary was their own; intimate and without any of the pomp and circumstance that V-Day entailed.

Hermione was glad to see George joking with Angelina and Dean; Luna, Seamus and Neville were deep in discussion, too; and Fleur was conversing with Mr Ollivander and Winky who held little Victoire in her arms.

Hermione touched her neck. The scar didn’t usually give her trouble—only around this time of the year it tended to itch.

Bill sat down next to her, smiling. “I’ve heard congratulations are in order?”

“Oh! Well.” Hermione blushed. “The Wizengamot vote isn’t until next week, so—’

“And yet, even in Gringott’s it’s been making rounds that the great Hermione Granger has achieved the unachievable — freed the house-elves!”

Hermione’s face burned. “I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. Loads could still go wrong and—”

“C’est n’importe quoi!” said Fleur who’d appeared behind her husband. “I ‘ave ‘eard zat you ‘ave convinced even ze zealots about Dobby’s Law!”

Hermione caught Harry’s grin, and her cheeks flamed hotter than ever. “Oh. Well… Malfoy isn’t half bad and he was interested in the cause anyway and—” She stopped short when Bill and Fleur exchanged a look. “What is it?”

“Hermione,” said Bill carefully, “don’t you know who planted the sea-lavender at Dobby’s grave?”

Hermione’s heart leapt into her throat. “No!” she breathed. “But—it’s been here for years!”

Bill quirked an eyebrow, smiling knowingly. “Atonement is a long and difficult path…”

Hermione’s head was spinning. Just then, Harry rose and raised his glass.

Chapter Text

Title: Bewitched in Body and Soul

Rating: T

Word count: 498

Warning/Tags: N/A

 

 

“At this stage,” Professor Snape’s sneer cut through the draughty Potion’s classroom, “your potion should be ready for testing. If not,” his lip curled as his eyes slid over Dean’s muddy-green solution. “Well…”

He flounced down the rows, ignoring Hermione who’s Protean potion was perfectly colourless, its steam bouncing all over the surface. Her Potion’s partner, Draco Malfoy, was doing similarly well but was immediately praised by Snape. Malfoy glanced covertly over at Hermione. He snapped his head around when she caught his gaze, his cheeks stained pink.

Smiling, Hermione directed her attention to the last steps on the blackboard.

For consumption, add powdered protea petals and say the incantation with the person in mind you want to turn into.

Hermione added the flower dust, said the incantation and concentrated with all her might on Draco. Silver white hair that had grown a little long so it hung into his eyes; mysterious grey-blue eyes that were darkening slightly when he watched her in the library; always leaning against bookcases, his shoulders broad, so very tall…

Hermione blinked, feeling breathless. Her potion had turned silver-grey; the sign that its effect had been fixed.

Snape sat down at his desk, folding his hands. “One sip should suffice to make you experience your partner’s mind and body for five minutes.” His snarl carried over the frenzied, last-minute scrambling. “And remember: all remnants of the Potion are to remain in class! We do not want a horde of Eight-Years looking and thinking like Miss Granger taking the N.E.W.T.s!”

Next to her, Draco chuckled under his breath. Ignoring her burning cheeks, Hermione dipped her tasting spoon into the cauldron; Malfoy followed suit. Spoons in hand, they turned towards each other. Malfoy had grown pale, and Hermione felt a pang of sympathy. Transforming was tricky as it was, but changing your thoughts and emotions too was incredibly daunting.

They nodded at each other and then swallowed their potions.

The effect was immediate. Her body started to tingle all over, almost like with the Polyjuice Potion — except that her brain seemed to bubble, too. Where Hermione was confused and curious at first, she soon experienced a mix of irritation and worry. The sensations were so overwhelming that it seemed like an instant that she looked at the world through the eyes of Draco Malfoy.

The first utterly confusing thing she saw was her body. Draco-as-Hermione was wide-eyed, an adorable blush spreading over her face. But even more confusing was how this body reacted: with total horror, Hermione realised that she was growing a stiffy!

“Fuck,” she-as-Draco said, voice raspy.

Draco-as-Hermione stared at her with an alarmed, knowing expression. “Oh dear.”

“Is this how you feel about me?” This body was liquid with desire, but her mouth was dry.

“Depends—” Draco-as-Hermione’s eyes dropped to ‘her’ crotch. He blushed deep crimson. Looking up, he smiled.

The lightness spreading through Hermione’s body and lighting her soul on fire had nothing – and everything – to do with the Protean potion.