Chapter 1: The Fine Print
The theme for this round was Roses and/or Love
Blondie: Did you get my gift?
She chewed her tongue while trying to craft the perfect response.
Hermione: They’re amazing! Did a trace tell you when they were delivered?
It wasn’t a complete lie. The huge bouquet was amazing.
Blondie: What kind of shoddy delivery service doesn’t have a trace?
GinNTonic: Does Draco know you at all?
Apparently, Ginny had popped into Harry’s office today.
Hermione: It’s the thought that counts
GinNTonic: I just double checked to make sure I hadn’t accidentally texted my mum
Blondie: Want to know what else I’d love to trace? 👅🍑
GinNTonic: You hate roses. Everyone knows that.
Pans: Ron Floo-called, laughing smugly. Did Draco really send you roses?
Didn’t anyone in the Auror office have actual work to do?
NotTed: Roses are red, violets are blue, Draco’s an idiot, he doesn’t deserve you
That answered her question.
Hermione (to Ginny): It’s Valentine’s Day - it’s traditional
Hermione (to Pansy): Roses are traditional for Valentine’s Day for purebloods too, right?
Hermione (to Theo): You’re a git
Hermione (to Draco): Is there an extra fee for your services? 😉
Blondie: We can negotiate a trade
Hermione: Let me know the price during lunch. You’re coming to my office first, right?
Blondie: I’d like to be coming IN your office, but I’d make sure you came first.
Her reply was made moot when—
Blondie: Pansy just messaged me some nonsense about Weasley saying I sent you roses?
Pans: Draco said he didn’t send the flowers because roses on Valentine’s Day are gauche. He sent Gerbera Daisies.
TBWL: Ron thinks I need to check your roses for dark magic
Oh great, now Harry was involved.
GinNTonic: I agree with Ron
GinNTonic: You just looked to make sure you hadn’t accidentally texted my mum, didn’t you?
Mrs Weasley didn’t own a mobile, as far as Hermione knew.
Blondie: I sent you Gerbera Daisies. Your favorite flower. Not bloody roses.
She snapped a picture of the overflowing vase.
Blondie: I’m owling the florist to complain
NotTed: I overheard Red saying she knew something was wrong when roses arrived instead of daisies. I assumed something was wrong when flowers arrived.
Blondie: The owl came back. There’s microscopic print - if they can’t fill an order, they have the right to substitute flowers of their choosing, as long as it's of equal value.
Hermione (to Pansy): Stop riling everyone up
Hermione (to Ginny): If you want my flowers checked for dark magic, I want you checked for the Imperious. YOU AGREED WITH RON
Hermione (to Ron): Did you send pansies to Pansy again this year?
Hermione (to Harry): I know how to check my own deliveries for dark magic, thanks. Shall I come teach you how to cast Expelliarmus?
Hermione (to Draco): Owl back. Threaten that your father will hear about this. Or Neville. The florist will probably be more frightened of Neville.
Hermione (to Theo): Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m your boss, and your yearly review is due
Chapter 2: Lavare
The theme for this round was Lavender and/or Admiration
With the two overstuffed chairs and small coffee table pushed to the edges of her library, and the throw rug rolled back, there was just enough room to draw a ritual circle on the wooden floor.
Purified with sea salt, and each quadrant given its due, Hermione Granger knelt in the center of the chalk circle - hair loose, a simple undyed flax shift her only adornment.
To the east, a lavender bunch lent its fragrant smoke to the air.
To the south, a single flame flickered from a silver candle inscribed with the runes Gebo, Wunjo, and Sowilo.
To the north, sat a terracotta bowl filled with soil, gathered from her garden during a warm sunny day.
To the west, the simple bronze chalice she had purchased just for this ritual was filled with blessed water.
As the scent of lavender grew stronger, Hermione closed her eyes, meditating on her purpose, relaxing a little more each time she exhaled.
When she felt ready, she opened her eyes, reaching her hands out over the smouldering herbs. Watching the smoke twirl around her fingers, she said, "With air, I cleanse myself."
Shifting, she faced the candle that held her prayer for love carefully etched into the wax. She visualized the flame burning away her past relationship mistakes as she raised her hands above it. "With fire, I cleanse myself."
She moved again, picking up handfuls of dirt, then crumbling it back into the unglazed bowl. Thoughts of new love, planted carefully like seeds in the spring, filled her mind. "With earth, I cleanse myself."
Finally, she turned to the final quadrant, the chalice. Dipping her fingertips in the water, Hermione washed her hands clean, her voice strong as she stated, "With water, I cleanse myself."
In silence, she knelt a bit longer, head bowed and damp hands on her knees, letting the elements do their work. Keeping her thoughts clear of all but her goal, Hermione opened herself to the possibility of her soul finding joy and harmony with its other half, a true meeting of equals.
After the circle had been properly broken, the items used in her ritual carefully stowed back in their places, and her library put to rights, the smell of lavender still lingered in her small cottage. Tomorrow morning she would open the windows, and the warm summer breeze would clear away the last of it. But tonight, tonight she hoped it would color her dreams.
With the ritual complete, she could admit to herself that there was a certain someone she wouldn't be adverse to seeing in those dreams. After all, she'd chosen a silver candle for a reason.
Later, as the full moon began its descent, shining across her garden and through the gauzy drapes in her bedroom, Hermione slumbered peacefully. But in her dreams, she spun through a sunlit field of lavender, her fingers brushing along the deep purple flowers, laughing joyfully, Draco Malfoy at her side, his silver eyes never leaving her.
Chapter 3: Gone
The theme for this round was Gardenias and/or Secret Love
Monday through Friday, Hermione worked as an Auror. Every weekend, with Harry’s help, she spent her time searching for Draco.
Three months ago, the morning after Theo’s funeral, Harry had called a meeting to announce Draco’s resignation from the Auror force, effective immediately. Before anyone could ask questions, Harry added he expected no gossip on the matter and dismissed everyone. A pointed stare in her direction was enough for Hermione to know she should linger.
“Look,” he’d started, taking off his glasses to massage the bridge of his nose, “I just want to say, I know you and Malfoy—”
“There’s more than you told everyone else, isn’t there?” Hermione demanded, heart in her throat. “What is it?”
Putting his glasses back on, Harry sighed. “Did you and Malfoy have something going on?”
“No!” Hermione rushed to deny.
“You were rubbish at hiding how much you liked being assigned with him. I could have sworn, with all of the bickering, and the bloody banter... I assumed,” he waved a negligent hand, “it was weird flirting, used as a cover.”
“Oh god.” Hermione buried her face in her hands, muffling her words. “Was it that obvious?”
“Wait! I was right?! You were,” Harry smirked and dropped his voice, “shagging Malfoy?”
“It wasn’t like that. I mean, yes, we were...” Hermione uncovered her face, but averted her eyes, “... intimate.”
Harry hid a laugh, poorly, with a cough, leaving Hermione indignant.
“He told me he loved me! And I love him. We just weren’t ready yet to tell anyone about us.” Hermione’s voice broke; the tears she’d been holding back since Harry’s announcement finally fell. “Do you know anything else?”
“No, sorry.” His smirk dropped, and became a grimace as he pulled her into a hug. From his robe, he produced a sheet of parchment. “Here’s his letter, see for yourself.”
Hermione wiped her eyes and scanned it, hope flaring that it would mention her. Unfortunately, the note offered nothing more than a cursory resignation.
“He obviously blamed himself for Theo’s death,” Harry said, “although no one else did.”
“You came to me, thinking I’d know more.” A lead weight filled Hermione’s stomach. “But I don’t. He closed himself off completely the past few days. I thought I was being supportive, giving him space.” She choked on a sob. “He didn’t even leave me a goodbye.”
Harry squeezed her tighter, rubbing her back soothingly. “I owled Narcissa; she claims she knows nothing of his whereabouts. I can’t officially open a case, but I have resources. Together, I know we can find him.”
After that, whatever leads Harry produced, she’d followed them. Many nights, she’d laid awake in a foreign bed, after yet another dead end, wondering why her love hadn’t been enough for Draco to stay. Or running scenarios through her mind where she didn’t press him to keep their relationship a secret. There was the constant, nagging fear that Draco had simply stopped loving her. She’d do anything to change that.
Chapter 4: Sneaky
The theme for this chapter was Peonies and/or Compassion
Her nose twitched. She could smell him, musky notes floating along the summer breeze. How silly of Draco to move upwind.
Slowly, Hermione stalked within the shadows, carefully picking her way over twigs and around dry leaves. As a break in the cloud cover revealed the moon, she flattened herself below some overgrown peonies.
She waited, listening for movement in the direction she'd last detected him.
The wind shifted, and her heart pounded with the realization she'd lost her advantage. Even in full bloom, the large flowering shrubs above wouldn't mask her from his heightened senses. Added to that was Draco's intimacy with the Manor's gardens.
A rustling to her left had Hermione rolling to her right, instincts she didn't even know she had kicking in. She internally chided herself when it merely turned out to be a hedgehog.
Too late, she realized her error, when a fierce body launched itself from above, crashing down in a shower of peony blossoms.
Sharp pointed teeth latched onto her neck, not breaking the skin, but finding enough purchase to hold on. Claws dug into her sides, gripping her snugly to him.
She growled. If she really tried, she knew she could overpower him. Hermione was nearly twice his size, after all. But the hunt had rules for a reason.
Sighing, she gave in, letting her body fall limp. He'd won - fair and square.
Draco let go, but didn't get off. Instead, maddenly, he propped himself upon her belly and laughed at her. At least, she thought the chirping noises and shaking meant laughter. When he got off, and began a sort of jumping dance, it was just too much.
Cocky little ferret.
Taking the opening, she pounced. Now lying atop him, she momentarily basked in the sound of his grunts as he squirmed and tried to free himself.
In a magically fluid series of events (which she planned to catalogue in the future), the supple creature below her disappeared. A naked Draco, his hard muscles quite the contrast to the flexible ferret, laid in its place.
"Cheater," he drawled.
Exasperated, Hermione gathered her magic and shifted out of her otter form.
"You're the one who changed back first," she countered.
Draco gave her a heated look, hooked his hands under her arms, and yanked her upwards, bringing their faces even.
“Sneaky.” She narrowed her eyes, but failed in pretending to really be upset as she grinned and swooped down for a kiss. After a month of the miserable taste of mandrake leaves, his lips and tongue tasted sweeter than she remembered.
Easily rolling her over, he rested above her on his elbows, hips cradled between her bare thighs. He smirked down at her and began to pick fragrant pink petals out of her tangled hair. "So, do you want to go another round of hide and seek? Or have you had enough for the night?"
Shifting her hips just so, she quipped, “Is hide and seek what we’re calling it now?"
Chapter 5: Traditions
The theme for this round was Daffodils and/or Chivalry
Warm spring sun had tempted them onto the terrace for tea. Afterwards, Narcissa dozed in her chair, a blanket wrapped around her frail shoulders.
A small breeze, just enough to ruffle Hermione's hair, caused Draco to set down his book and leave his seat next to her. She watched, tears threatening, as he stooped to gently tuck his mother's blanket tighter.
Worry creased his forehead as he moved back to Hermione's side. "I need a walk."
She glanced up at the nursery window. "What about—"
"Scorpius will be fine. The naptime alert charm hasn't failed us yet."
When he offered a hand, Hermione allowed him to help her up.
"You can take a nap after, too, if you want." Draco smirked, eying her rounded stomach.
She held in a scoff at the implied weakness, because honestly, she was increasingly tired as their daughter's birth neared. "Maybe I will."
"How far do you feel comfortable walking?"
An idea surfaced, one she'd been mulling over off and on. "Perhaps along the north woods?"
Draco carded a hand through his hair, glancing back at Narcissa. Recently, it seemed her face was always pinched in pain, but in slumber it was relaxed. "Alright. Maybe I should set the charm on her, too? In case when she wakes up she needs help."
They meandered down the gravel path, quietly lost in thought, until they came to the spot Hermione had in mind.
A field of daffodils bordered the copse. Most of the blooms were beginning to droop, their withered petals browning, but a bright few still waved in the wind.
"Shortly after our marriage,” Hermione began, “during an afternoon much like this, I took a walk here with your mother. She told me all about your father planting this for her."
Left unspoken was how Narcissa had still been in her prime, showing Hermione all around the grounds, no hint of illness.
"She said Lucius instructed the gardener to mix other plants in with the daffodils. Because while daffodils were showy in the spring, their beauty quickly faded."
Draco stared into the distance. "She liked to recall how she laughed at father for that. Told him daffodils had hidden strength. Below the delicate flowers were bulbs that staved off predators."
"Your grandparents named her well, when they broke tradition."
A sudden kick from their daughter caught Hermione off-guard. She placed her palm over a protruding foot. "No charm needed to tell she's awake."
Draco added his hand and smiled. During Narcissa's decline, genuine ones had become increasingly rare.
Serendipitously, Hermione knew the idea she'd been harbouring was the right choice.
"I think I’ve finally settled on a name for our daughter." Her gaze swept the field again, before landing back on Draco. He's broken generations of expectations by marrying her.
"It's time to make flower names as much of a tradition as constellations. What do you think of Liri? For the liriope that grows here, beginning to bloom just as the daffodils are fading."
Chapter 6: Revelations And Renewal
The theme for this round was Gladiolus and/or Strength Of Character
Two pops of Apparition sounded from the front parlour, the only room in the Grimmauld Place where Harry allowed anyone through his wards. Anyone included only a handful of people who were keyed to the wards.
"I've missed you." Harry smiled over his shoulder from where he stood in the library, in front of the Black Family tapestry. Hermione moved to Harry's side. Her best friend slipped an arm around her waist, giving a squeeze. "Never expected you'd be gone over a month."
"The rites I developed were a bit more complicated than we anticipated."
Stepping beside Hermione, Draco traced his fingers along the branch leading to his picture. "It's still difficult to believe we never knew flowers were hidden behind the leaves." The branch shivered beneath his touch and the leaves parted, revealing tiny white hawthorn flowers.
"I've been searching and reading while you were off doing… whatever it is you've been doing." Harry ran a finger beneath Regulus' picture. A yellow carnation bloomed, then faded. His finger followed along the branch to where Sirius had been burnt off, but no flowers emerged. Harry sighed. "I finally found a reference in Licorus Black's diaries. I think he's the one who did something to hide the flowers, after his brother Eduardus was disowned."
Harry moved to Licorus' spot on the tree and touched his picture. Purple hyacinths materialized. "He wrote the family didn't deserve the magic of the flowers anymore if everyone was just going to ignore their meaning. Makes you wonder what Eduardus' flower was. But I still couldn't find anything about how spouses used to show up."
Further beyond Licorus, by nearly 300 years, Blacks by marriage nested next to their husband or wife. Harry had allowed Hermione to carefully experiment on the tapestry, seeking a way to make it chronicle marriages again. That's when the flowers had surprisingly appeared.
"Well, if we did everything correctly, which I believe we did," Hermione said while Draco pulled an athame from his robes, "then lack of a written record won't matter. A drop of both our blood onto the tapestry should create a new offshoot for me."
Harry eyed the goblin-wrought tool. "No spells needed?"
"The necessary spells were, among other things, a part of our binding." Draco grinned wolfishly.
Hermione rolled her eyes and stuck her hand out to Draco. "Harry doesn't want to hear about that."
A quick prick of both their thumbs, and they were pressing blood into the woven strands of Draco's name.
The air felt thick with anticipation.
Draco's name changed first, Black appearing behind Malfoy. Next, a bud developed beside his picture, growing into a series of thin branches. Finally, a new picture formed.
"It even got the hair right."
"Shut it, Draco," Hermione whispered.
She stepped up, staring at herself in amazement. Reaching out a tentative hand, she touched the tapestry. The leaves around her likeness shifted to reveal—
"Gladiolus," Draco said. "Strength of character or moral integrity. There's no ignoring that."
Chapter 7: Façades
The theme for this round was Statice and/or Remembrance
Cemeteries carry a quiet beauty, even if they're merely façades meant for the living. Expansive oak trees no one ever climbs shade quiet corners, and moss-covered angels hover above lovers' final poems carved into stone—all without any effect on the dead buried below.
These inappropriate thoughts flitted through Hermione's head as she carefully dug around Astoria's grave, pretending that what they did here made a difference.
"Scorpius, hand me the statice, please." He looked confused, so she clarified, "The purple flowers."
It wasn't that Hermione wanted to erase Astoria from Draco and Scorpius' lives, she told herself as she filled the hole in around the statice.
On the contrary, she felt a duty to preserve and enhance the legacy of the woman who had come before her. Without Astoria's guiding hand, the Draco of today wouldn't have been possible, and the sweet boy next to her wouldn't exist.
She just didn't understand pretending a visit to a headstone proved they remembered her.
"Hermione, can I dig the next hole?"
"Of course you can. Then your dad can take the last one." Catching Draco's eye, she smiled.
Before Draco began dating Hermione, he had brought Scorpius here to leave bouquets. Based upon the positive progression in their relationship, Hermione had felt comfortable enough to broach planting a few permanent flowers together.
Draco tousled his son's hair. "Which one do you want?"
"Maybe the pink roses?"
"That leaves the lilies for me."
Using some discreet spellwork, Hermione assisted with Scorpius thinking he was doing more work than a seven-year-old was capable of. A mouthed, "Thanks," from Draco had her thinking maybe she could do this mum gig after all.
That thought inadvertently led to a small spiral of guilt. They had been taking things slowly, carefully, for Scorpius' sake. Now here she was literally sitting atop Astoria's dead body, contemplating taking her place.
What's wrong with me? Don't put the carriage before the Thestral.
"Hermione?" A small hand tugged at hers, drawing her back from her thoughts. "You okay?"
"Just thinking about how these plants will continue growing each year, like you. It's called maturing. Your mum would be so proud of how mature you're becoming, and of how thoughtful you are."
"It's true, Scorp. She may be on the other side of the veil, but the best pieces of her live on in here," Draco touched both of their hearts, "and in you."
When Scorpius' lip quivered, Draco didn't hesitate to pull him into a hug. "Sometimes I feel like I'm forgetting her," the boy sobbed.
Draco rubbed his back. "I know. How about we plant this lily together, while I tell Hermione some of your mum's horrible jokes. Then we'll go to Fortescue's and order your mum's favorite, Chocolate-Covered Cherry Bomb."
Scorpius continued to sniffle, but nodded.
As Draco started digging a hole and cracked the first bad joke, Hermione thought that these were the sort of happy remembrances she wanted for Scorpius, rather than just solemn façades.
Chapter 8: The First Time
The theme for this round was Protea and/or Transformation
"I don't know if that's a good idea. Are you sure you want—"
Hermione placed a finger over Draco's lips. Balanced above her on his elbows, his hips were cradled between her thighs. He stared down, eyes wide, but he took her hint and momentarily stopped arguing.
"It's all I can think about. What you look like when you..." She shrugged.
The doubt slid off his face. He smirked, before nipping at her finger.
"Prat!" She swatted his chest, and he laughed in a rich baritone.
"Admit it, Granger," Draco drawled, "you've been thinking about that, too. It's okay. Salazar knows I have."
"Maybe." Hermione blushed, but refused to look away.
Reaching up to brush back his fringe, she let her fingers trail lower, enjoying the sight of his jaw clenching as she continued down his bare chest, tracing his abs, skimming above his belt.
"You know it's going to be difficult to hold back my instincts if I let go of enough control to transform."
"I trust you."
Draco dropped his forehead against hers and closed his eyes. A groan escaped his lips, ghosting warm breath over hers. In an unbidden response, Hermione found herself aching, pressing up to meet his hardness.
Abruptly, he pulled away to stand at her feet. Missing the warmth of his body, she tamped down the urge to follow him. Instead, she propped herself on her elbows to watch.
His gaze skittered lasciviously down her curves to her rucked-up skirt. A vein pulsed in his neck.
She gasped when he looked back up.
His eyes had already changed to molten silver, their depths aflame. His cheekbones were sharpening, their angles drawing attention to his full lips. Quirking a smile, he allowed a glimpse of pointed teeth.
A musky tang she couldn't seem to inhale enough of filled the air. She knew it was pheromones. But still, she craved the wild spice lying heavy on her tongue.
His muscles took on added definition. All of his muscles.
The strain against his trousers created a clenching need she wanted fulfilled. His nostrils flared, scenting her body's response. He chuckled, a promise buried in the sound.
Finally, with arms spread and fists clenched, he arched his back. She wondered how the trickle of sweat sliding down his stomach tasted.
Enormous silver-tipped white wings burst forth, a few loose feathers fluttering down. As he fully unfurled his wings, the feathers' rustling mixed in with his rasping breaths. In a dazed wonder, Hermione yearned to explore them.
An errant thought of being pinned down, his wings creating a cocoon around their entwined bodies, left her restless.
She rose, unable to deny his overwhelming draw. Behind the possessive hunger etched on Draco's face, Hermione saw vulnerability, as he held back, waiting on her. Was he worried she'd be frightened? Didn't he know how stunning he was?
Heart beating wildly, she attempted to find words to describe this moment, her feelings, anything to say.
"I trust you, mate," she whispered.
The theme for this round was Queen Anne's Lace and/or Sanctuary
The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
"It starts out that way, until one day you realize you're actually friends."
Hermione had been surreptitiously, or so she thought, watching Malfoy’s long fingers as he separated Queen Anne's Lace into its usable parts, carefully shaking flower umbels, when Neville sidled up to her.
"Or more," he disingenuously added.
A quick glance around proved no one was minding their conversation. She leveled Neville with a stare. “You've lost the plot.”
"I haven't. He talks about you when we're alone. It’s obvious there’s something there.”
The two wizards had forged an unlikely friendship during hours spent together as their group's foragers, guarding each other's back while harvesting plants.
She chose to ignore his statement. "You got plenty of Queen Anne seeds this time, right?"
Whereas a younger Neville would have blushed and stammered, the man beside her simply rolled his eyes. "Nobody's interested in accidental pregnancies."
"Granger," Malfoy called from across the camp, "what do you want to do with all this?"
Before she could move, Neville grabbed her wrist. "We also need to decide what to do with some elderberries hidden in his rucksack."
"We know what Theo will want to do."
She expected Neville to laugh and agree with her, but he frowned, slipping his hands into his pockets. "Maybe making wine isn't a horrible idea. Merlin knows it’s been a while since we had anything to look forward to.”
Sighing, Hermione nodded, conceding his point.
Neville inclined his head at Malfoy, who now stood twirling his wand, staring expectantly at them. "You could give him a chance. You both seem… lonely." He squeezed her shoulder, then walked away to his and Ginny's tent.
"About time. I've got other things to do." Malfoy’s snide tone contradicted Neville's theory.
She crossed her arms, cataloguing the plants arranged on the work-bench. “Leave the asphodel bulbs for bread, but bring their leaves. The bowl of seeds. Half the mint.” She strode towards the potions lab. “Except for what’s in your rucksack, the rest can be eaten.”
“Guess I’ll just carry it all then?” he snapped, but still scooped up everything she'd indicated and followed her.
The tent flap had barely closed before she wrapped her arms around his neck. His pack thunked to the floor. The heat in their kiss and his possessive grip on her hips momentarily seared away her nagging worries.
When Draco began placing a series of nips and licks down her neck, she reluctantly pulled back. “We need to talk.”
“I did what you asked. He seemed open to the idea of us.”
“He urged me to give you a chance."
“So what’s the problem? Our plan’s working." He gave her a searching look. "We agreed it's the right time. He'll tell Ginny, and I already wagered you that they'll both be our allies.”
“And I already said it's not a real bet if either way you win.”
“Trust me, we're both going to win.”