Chapter 1: Fate’s Gnashing Beak
Hermione had lived her life intent on achieving all of her ambitions, great and small.
Top of her class? Always.
Prefect? Of course.
Head girl? Shoe in.
Not to mention achieving the best collective NEWT scores seen in five years, despite of the year long break necessitated by the Wizarding War. The Order of Merlin that she got after the war was a bonus.
Admittedly, Hermione’s ambitions occasionally made it necessary for her to abuse the nature of time or exploit physics in ways that were — technically illegal, but it wasn’t Hermione’s fault that the universe had tried to get in her way.
If she could find a solution, and her motives were good, true, and just, she was right to use it.
Hermione made goals, got to work, and reached them. It was, and always had been, as simple as that.
Except when it came to Draco Malfoy, who seemed intent upon violating every tenet Hermione held for herself and aggravating her to death.
Draco was her on-again off-again semi-fake boyfriend.
Currently off-again — and good riddance, she kept reminding herself firmly. He’d most certainly deserved to be broken up with. After all, she was extremely busy and had no time to deal with recalcitrant semi-fake boyfriends.
Hermione’s adulthood was as ambition ladened as her time at Hogwarts, and similarly successful. Undersecretary in the Department of Magical Creatures. Done. House-elf Rights? Passed by a landslide. Werewolf reform? Making excellent progress.
There were already whispers about Hermione Granger as Minister of Magic in fifteen or twenty years.
The Wizarding world was her oyster and Hermione Granger was shucking it with the sword of equality.
She was on her way to the top with a meticulously plotted out ten, fifteen and twenty year plan, and anything that tried to get in her way would be met with the full force of her personality and the business end of her wand.
Hermione had yet to meet a problem that could not eventually be researched into submission.
The man defied reason and behaved like an invasive species of decorative vine. He was wrapped up around Hermione's life in a way that felt impossible to get rid of. No matter how many times she broke up with him, he always managed to slither his way back into her life, and Hermione found herself letting him.
The trouble was that he was an almost perfect partner. Smart, charming, useful, capable of tying his shoes and never needing her to fix his mistakes or bail him out (even if his methods were occasionally questionable,) clever enough to keep her on her toes in the good ways...
Unfortunately, all the ways in which he was not perfect were the ways in which he was positively dreadful, not to mention definitively unsuitable as a husband for an aspiring Minister of Magic.
Even though he was the Slytherin, Hermione was convinced that she had more ambition in her little toe than he possessed within his entire body. He was the laziest excuse for a human she had ever laid eyes on.
His Slytherin characteristics seemed largely limited to being sly and manipulative with that sinfully talented tongue of his. A tongue was as silver as the spoon he’d been raised with. It dripped with mockery, pretty lies, and flattering compliments he didn’t mean.
Which would be useful for a politician if he’d exert himself to be one.
Alas, Draco did not believe in exerting himself for anything that did not promise sex with Hermione in the near to immediate future. He had “future scandal-maker” practically stamped across his pointy face.
The only ambition Draco Malfoy had, beyond having frequent sex with Hermione in spite of the not-real status of their relationship, was enraging his father who was “languishing” under strict, lifelong house-arrest at one of the family’s minor properties in Wales.
Over the years, Draco’s relationship with his parents had gone from strained to incendiary. With Lucius stripped of the main estate and all titles, there was nothing he could do to control his son but pen epistolary disapproval. Draco, in response, refused to do anything that might have the unintended consequence of making Lucius proud of him.
He could not be prevailed upon to do anything but function as Hermione’s arm candy, because being associated with her made Lucius froth at the mouth.
It was why he’d wanted to start “dating” in the first place. Lucius hated Hermione, Draco hated Lucius. It seemed natural that she and Draco would pretend to date each other out of mutual spite for the Malfoy patriarch.
Hermione signed onto the arrangement because Draco’s name beside hers was excellent political capital. Attending an event with Draco brought more attention than Hermione could attract on her own. The press was fascinated with them as a couple, which kept Hermione’s political agenda topfold and centre page. By appearing on Draco’s arm to a fundraiser, freeing house-elves became not only moral but fashionable.
There had never been any illusions that it was a real relationship. Mutual benefit and mutual spite were the agreed upon terms. The first time they had sex had been a result of too much alcohol one evening and a fight about — unicorns for some reason.
Once they started, they hadn't been able to stop.
Hermione kept intending for them to stop. She knew she needed to stop. It was ridiculous to be in a fake relationship for so long. She couldn’t very well maintain it for her entire Ministry career.
In a very short amount of time, she resolved, she was going to stop fake-dating Draco. Maybe in autumn. Or next spring. She’d even put it on the calendar…
It wasn’t urgent. There were plenty of other things that needed Hermione’s immediate attention. She had three pieces of legislation to review, a stack of case files to review from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and a separation which was currently lying open in front of her.
Separations were hardly anything unusual; couples filed them in the Magical Bonding Department every day. Wizards and witches realised marriage wasn’t all the sunshine and roses they’d expected and discovered that the bonds of matrimony chafed. There was nothing shocking about it, especially not to someone as reasonable and realistic as Hermione.
However, those kinds of separations were not sent to the Magical Creatures Department.
This separation involved a wizard married to a Magical Being, which meant that the Magical Bonding Department lacked jurisdiction over half the equation involved in said separation.
Separations in circumstances involving Magical Beings were irregular. In fact, Hermione had checked exhaustively and hadn’t been able to find any on record in the MoM.
The Bonding Department insisted it had happened nonetheless. A wizard had arrived at the Ministry and demanded a separation be filed. It had been signed, enchanted, and sealed, and now someone had to deliver the notice to the spouse. However, “someone” refused to be anyone in the Bonding Department.
Somehow the entire Magical Creature Department had also managed to squirm and excuse their way out of that particular house call right up to Hermione’s desk.
Undersecretary Hermione Granger was not one to neglect the call of duty, even if she happened to be in a terrible mood due to thoughts involving certain invasive species of Slytherin, and suffering from a touch of the flu. She gathered all the potentially relevant forms, rolled up the separation, and apparated to the address provided.
A dainty little cottage surrounded by a white fence sat at the end of the lane. Hermione marched up in a most businesslike manner and rapped smartly on the front door three times.
There was a quiet shuffling sound and then the door swung open to reveal the most attractive woman Hermione had ever laid eyes on.
Hermione wasn’t even sure if it was a woman or perhaps a vision or an illusion that projected the most unnatural level of beauty possible. Hermione stumbled back and clutched instinctively for her trusty briefcase full of reassuring files and protocols.
“Silvaya Parchev?” Hermione asked.
“Yes…” the Veela said slowly.
For Silvaya Parchev was indeed a Veela. Indeed, she was the most Veela-y Veela Hermione had ever laid eyes upon. Her eyes were a startling, soul-searing blue, her skin was pale as milk and flawless, and her platinum blonde hair cascaded down to her feet, shimmering like a veil around her.
Hermione swallowed. “I’m Hermione Granger, Undersecretary of the Department of Magical Creatures in the Ministry of Magic. I’m here to speak to you about your husband.”
“My — husband?”
Silvaya’s eyes widened, and she quickly stepped back to allow Hermione to enter the cottage, turning so that her hair swirled around her feet as she proceeded to practically float over towards the sofa in the sitting room.
“He — he has filed for separation.” Hermione’s fingers were toying with the handle of the aforementioned trusty briefcase.
Normally Hermione wasn’t the sort of person who was nervous around attractive people, however Silvaya was literally ethereal.
Hermione, on the other hand, was experiencing a renewed sense of awareness that there were dark circles under her eyes and that she’d found her first white hairs just that morning.
She wasn’t even thirty yet; the idea that she already had white hair was mortifying.
However, appearances aside, Silvaya also possessed the ability to grow a beak and fling fireballs if Hermione irritated her.
At Hermione’s words, Silvaya had frozen and then swivelled to stare at her. “He what?”
Hermione gripped the briefcase more tightly. “He came to the Ministry and filed for separation this week.”
Silvaya’s features lengthened.
Hermione swallowed, her mouth growing dry. “Y-yes.” She popped the clasp on the briefcase and withdrew the scroll.
Silvaya snatched it away from Hermione, her blue eyes barely skimming the words before the entire scroll burst into flames.
Hermione’s hand instinctively moved for her wand.
“Oh dear,” said Silvaya in a heavily accented tone of false dismay, watching the scroll as it was merrily consumed by flames. “Now it’s all gone. We cannot be separate.”
Hermione drew a deep sigh. Clearly this separation was not destined to go smoothly. “That was a copy. The original remains in the Ministry.” She reached into her briefcase and pulled out a new copy that had been instantly conjured. “This is a very unusual case; the British Ministry has never been involved in a separation involving full Magical Beings. I’m — I’m going to be your advocate throughout this process to ensure that your rights aren’t ignored.”
“You?” Silvaya was eyeing both Hermione and the new scroll with intense suspicion, eyes glittering brightly.
“Yes.” Hermione tried to smile in a way that was encouraging as she extended the new scroll.
“You?” The Veela said again with a scoff, and her ethereal nose seemed to grow thinner in a very threatening way. “You think I would trust a little human?” Her chin jerked up, and she seemed to grow. “What do you know of Veela?”
“Well...” Hermione hedged down the sofa. “You’re rather — reclusive as a species and — to be honest, it wasn’t specified on the separation what kind of Magical Being I’d be representing. However, I’m ready to learn so that I can do everything in my power to uphold your rights.”
“So, you even admit you know nothing of Veela.” Silvaya’s voice was both musing and vicious as she plucked the new scroll from Hermione’s hand and it instantly followed its brethren to an ashy grave.
“I assure you, I will do everything in my power to support and protect you as your advocate,” Hermione said, keeping her voice steady but surreptitiously finding the handle of her wand.
Silvaya rose to her feet, a scarlet flush rising in her cheeks as she loomed over Hermione.
“You?” Silvaya’s face had narrowed into truly terrifying thinness as she grew more visibly enraged. “You who let my mate sign a separation, and come here, smiling, to tell me of it.”
“No! No. I’m sorry. You misunderstand — I wasn’t — “ Hermione said quickly.
“Do you know what a mate is to a Veela?” Silvaya’s voice was vibrating at a low, ringing intensity that threatened to shatter Hermione’s eardrums. “Do you think that because we are beautiful that we feel nothing? That I would not care to lose my mate?”
“No — no, I don’t — “
Silvaya didn’t seem to hear Hermione. She was growing visibly distraught. “A mate is — a mate is a soul! He is — why I breathe!“ She waved her hands. “Inside my heart — he is my — What is the word? Only mate. You cannot separate a mate from a Veela! Stefan — he would not — ”
“I’m so sorry. I really am,” Hermione said, trying to sound as calming and sympathetic as she could. “If there are biological factors impeding a separation, that’s a vital piece in my case as your advocate. Veela are very secretive about bonding, and I’m afraid in Britain we don’t have laws specific to Veela bonds but—“
Before Hermione could finish speaking, Silvaya gave a small cry and transformed in full.
Her features elongated impossibly until her mouth, jaw and nose all melded into a razor-sharp beak longer than Hermione’s forearm. A pair of pale, silver-scaled, featherless wings burst from her back, swallowing the room.
Silvaya screamed and bright balls of pure searing-white flames the size of bludgers appeared in each hand, the heat scorching across Hermione’s face as Silvaya whirled on her.
Hermione flung herself back, casting a shield so forcefully that it flung Silvaya across the room. Silvaya gave a rasping screech as her wings caught the air and she stumbled into the wall.
“Oh,” Hermione instantly dropped the shield and hurried forward. “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to—“
She leaned down to pull Silvaya up. The Veela hissed furiously through her beak, waving at Hermione as her head jerked forward. The sharp tip of her beak flashed and the tip sliced painfully across Hermione’s right shoulder.
Hermione fell back with a pained gasp as Silvaya lunged towards her.
Hermione pressed her hand against her shoulder to staunch the bleeding and held her wand out in warning as she fell back. Silvaya slowed but didn’t stop approaching.
Hermione’s heart was pounding.
It had been more than a few years since she had duelled. Passing legislation in the Ministry did not generally require much defensive magic. She tried to breathe calmly as she entered a rusty combat stance.
“I need you to stand down,” she said, her voice crisp and authoritative, not betraying any of the rush of fear she was experiencing. Her heart was pounding so hard it made her head spin.
She hadn’t even thought to inform anyone in the office about where she was going.
Her voice softened. “I’m not trying to hurt you. I don’t think you want to hurt — “
Her voice trailed off as the room abruptly shifted before her eyes, growing blindingly colourful.
Hermione started, turning and looking wildly around. Everything in the room was suddenly bursting in a spectrum of colours Hermione had never seen before. It was a nauseating cacophony of brightness.
“What's happening?” she tried to say, but her voice came out a vibrating scream.
She started with surprise as she felt something heavy on her back.
She turned quickly and was met with empty air. A sharp Veela beak appeared in the periphery of her vision and she whirled on Silvaya. As she tried to turn, she was suddenly grabbed by her robes and jerked violently backwards.
She gave another distorted scream as she crashed back against a wall. She slumped, panting and squinting, trying to see through the jumble of colours distorting the room. She couldn’t seem to properly breathe, as though her airway was blocked. There was a sharp pain in her back, but she was too dazed to place where.
Silvaya was on the far side of the room, frozen, still transformed. Her blue and now iridescent eyes were wide and terrifying. Her wings shifted, shimmering like a butterfly’s wings as she moved towards Hermione again.
Hermione levelled her wand.
“Stay back!” The words came out garbled.
Veela venom must contain hallucinogenic properties. The floor seemed to be tilting sideways.
God, why did Veela have to be so damn secretive? She hadn’t even known they had venom. Beaks and fireballs she could handle, but Hermione had not been prepared for a drug trip.
She rubbed her eyes and looked around again, everything was still shimmering and the wrong colour, some objects more brightly than others. She kept trying and not being able to breathe, each breath was a tiny spasming gasp. Her head was growing light.
The room was beginning to spin.
Silvaya was resplendent and terrifying and kept moving closer.
Hermione gasped as she felt something press against her back. She whirled and saw a dark shape swooping towards her. She cast a nonverbal protego and it struck the dark blur. Hermione went flying across the room in the opposite direction. She was somersaulted backwards and found herself near the front door. There was another sharp pain somewhere in her back.
Everything was too colourful. Jarring. Painful to look at.
Hermione’s every movement felt stilted and weighed down, as though she were going into shock. There was pressure on her shoulders again.
She had to get away.
She pushed herself up, wrenched open the door, and apparated.
She reappeared in the office of her own house, several feet in the air, and fell crashing to the ground. She lay panting unsteadily for a moment before glancing around.
Her own cheerful home was also shimmering and malevolently hued. She tried to push herself up.
She needed to get to the hospital.
Then she’d file a report and visit the library for more research on Veela. Perhaps an Auror should accompany her when she went back.
She was halfway to her feet when everything wobbled, and she dropped in a dead faint.
When Hermione’s eyes opened again, her office had returned to the normal colour spectrum.
She pushed herself up from the rug where she’d collapsed, and her arms nearly gave out due to a weight bearing down on her shoulders. She glanced back, craning her neck, and shrieked with surprise.
She had wings!
Enormous, brown wings were arched around her and attached to her shoulders.
The wings flapped wildly as she crawled up from the floor, craning her neck and trying to get a better look at them.
Huge. Featherless. They looked like bat wings.
The knickknacks she kept on the mantel went flying as the left-wing extended and crashed into the far wall. She jumped and the wing instantly recoiled, knocking her onto her back.
Hermione proceeded to flop helplessly on the floor for several minutes while the wings kept fluttering and preventing her from rolling over.
She couldn’t figure out how she was making them move. After several minutes of pointless flailing, she managed to force herself to go still. She was, according to many people, an exceptional witch. An exceptional witch would most certainly be able to figure out how to control a pair of wings that were attached to her.
She made herself lie still and breathe slowly and, to her relief, the wings gradually ceased fluttering and folded themselves tightly around her.
Very slowly and cautiously, Hermione found her wand and performed a rudimentary healing charm on the still bleeding cut on her shoulder along with a quick tergeo to get rid of the blood everywhere.
Then she carefully stood and remained frozen in the centre of the room.
She twitched her right shoulder and winced as the right-wing unfurled and rammed into the wall, knocking several books onto the floor. As she winced, both wings extended and flapped once, catching the air and dragging her backwards.
The room became filled with flying parchment.
She ran into a wall and gasped as the wind was knocked out of her, collapsing while her wings fluttered unhelpfully and she landed on her knees.
“Bugger. Bugger. Bugger,” she said, punching the floor. “This is just so BLOODY unbelievable!”
Hermione was not generally the cursing type. When she was, she preferred nice impactful words like “fuck.” However, when she was overwhelmed her language tended to imitate Ron’s, to her eternal chagrin.
She dropped her head onto the floor and wailed. Having wings was going to ruin her entire calendar month. She probably looked ridiculous. This was, possibly, even more embarrassing than polyjuicing herself into a cat in Second Year.
If anyone saw there would undoubtedly be pictures, and they’d haunt her for the rest of her life. Who would elect a Minister of Magic who was photographed flapping about with harpy wings?
One thing was for certain, no matter what, she couldn’t be seen.
Draco’s questioning drawl floated up the hallway from downstairs.
Hermione froze. Oh god, why on earth was Draco there? Hadn’t she broken up with him?
Yes, she was certain she’d broken up with him after the last Ministry Ball. She’d been slightly tipsy at the time, but she definitely remembered arguing with him in the coatroom which had inevitably devolved into having sex. It had been a rather lovely interlude from the tedious Ministry event until he’d decided to jokingly propose to her for the umpteenth time.
It had killed the afterglow dead, and after she told him no, she broke up with him on the spot. As much as it had ever been possible to break up with a man she wasn’t in a relationship with.
He’d accepted the verdict without so much as blinking.
He took her all attempts to break up with him about as seriously as she took his regular proposals.
Hermione choked and sat back, staring at the doorway in horror. Her wings rustled and fluttered nervously around her, nearly knocking her flat again.
“Don’t — don’t come in!” she said.
“Granger, are you alright?” Draco’s voice was closer and broke her from her reverie.
“I’m fine. Go away!” She waved an arm furiously which had the unintended side-effect of making her wings flap. She proceeded to cartwheel into another wall with a loud crash, more papers flying.
“What—?” Draco rounded the corner and froze, staring at Hermione where she was endeavouring to get untangled from her wings and several scrolls of legislation.
“Go away, Malfoy,” she said when she finally managed to wriggle off one wing and unsteadily push herself up from the floor. “I’m having a personal crisis right now, and I don’t need you getting in the way.”
When she managed to look up, she found Draco gripping the doorframe, turning grey and looking ready to faint.
He made a choking sound and, to her surprise, nodded obediently, turned on his heel, and disappeared back the way he had come.
Hermione stared in surprise at the empty doorway, experiencing a sharp stab of hurt. She forced herself to dismiss it with a scoff under her breath.
“Oh god!” she heard Draco say.
Then there was an extremely loud thud in the hallway as though Draco had run headlong into the wall, fainted, or possibly fallen down the stairs.
Chapter 2: The Non-Proposal
Hermione buried her face in her hands and sighed. Once she figured out how to get these dratted wings off her back, she was probably going to have to peel Draco up off the floor where he and his delicate sensibilities had collapsed and take him to be checked for a concussion.
The day was getting worse by the minute.
A stress headache was beginning to creep up on her again. She gave another sigh of long-suffering and set to work getting to her feet without the wings acting out again. They kept flopping around and hanging over her shoulders in the most unhelpful ways.
“Did—did you transfigure yourself wings?” Draco’s hoarse voice unexpectedly interrupted her.
She looked up in surprise and found him in the doorway once more. His face was pale, and his silver eyes were round with amazement.
Her heart gave a little leap at the sight of him, but she squashed it and rolled her eyes rather than permit herself to smile at him. She refused to encourage him. He was not her boyfriend.
“I most certainly did not. If I had the time for a Transfiguration experiment, sprouting wings and flying would not be anywhere on my list of priorities.” She sniffed. “A Veela bit me today and somehow—“ she gestured at herself. In the process, her left wing unfurled and nearly clocked Draco in the head.
He ducked instinctively. “W-what?”
Hermione sighed. She could tell by his expression that she wasn’t going to make him go away or do anything remotely useful until his curiosity was sated.
She folded her arms tightly and scowled. “I paid a house-call today on behalf of the DRCMC. A wizard came in earlier this week and filed a separation, and no one wanted to go tell his spouse, who was, it turns out, a Veela. When I told her, she got very angry and bit me, and I started hallucinating. I apparated, and when I woke up —“ She pointed over her shoulder.
Draco was staring at her, looking baffled. “Veela don’t bite —“
Hermione glared. “Just what do you know about Veela?”
His jaw hung loose for an instant before snapping shut. “Nothing,” he said quickly.
“I didn’t think you did,” she said with another sniff.
He was still looking quite peaked as he stood staring at her. “So then... these are your wings?” His voice seemed somewhat steadier.
She rolled her eyes. “I suppose. Technically they’re mine." She gnawed at her lip. "St Mungo’s probably has an antidote for whatever havoc the venom is wreaking on me.”
The way Draco kept staring at her and repeating things made him seem as though he were confunded. He probably had given himself a concussion in the hallway.
“Yes,” Hermione said, shooting her best swotty look at him and speaking in pointed simple language. “I’m assuming that Veela must have venom, given that I was bitten, and now I have sprouted wings.”
“...right.” He sounded dazed and was still gaping at her as though she’d sprouted a second head. His eyes ran up and down her, checking to see if she’d grown any other bits of anatomy that he hadn’t noticed yet.
Hermione flushed and pushed herself carefully to her feet, trying to keep her wings from fluttering and breaking anything else. She cast a quick incendio on her fireplace and opened the Floo before trying to gingerly make her way towards it. “Yes, and now that I’ve explained everything, would you please make yourself useful and help me get into St Mungos without letting anyone see me.”
Draco looked up, meeting her eyes and hesitated before swallowing visibly. “No.”
Hermione froze and stared at him. “No?”
He looked her up and down again with a very peculiar expression on his face. “You can’t possibly want to risk it. There’s no way to hide them. Someone will be sure to take a picture when you're checking in, and it will be all anyone talks about for months.”
That — was a valid point.
Draco was beginning to inch across the room towards her. Apparently, now that he’d recovered from his shock, he’d forgotten about self-preservation. “Besides, it wouldn’t be safe to travel. You won’t fit through the Floo, and you’re at risk of splinching if you can’t control your wings.”
That was also a valid point.
“Well, I’m not going to keep a set of wings,” Hermione said in a flat voice. “I have a fundraising brunch tomorrow. I can't miss it.”
Draco had managed to sidle himself within arms reach. His expression was growing strangely intent as he kept eyeing her up and down.
“Did you know, Veela wings retract when a Veela relaxes,” he said slowly, his tone suspiciously casual.
“I’m not a Veela,” Hermione said, glancing up at him and wondering how on earth he’d know that. Then it began to dawn on her that Draco’s expression was familiar.
Oh goodness gracious. That libidinous prat.
“True.” Draco’s voice had dropped down into a low, cajoling purr that made her cheeks grow warm. His fingers ghosted along her arm. “But it could still be worth trying. If it works, your problem's solved and you can — “ he waved a hand lazily, “ — you can write a scientific paper about it.”
An excited tingle ran down Hermoine's spine and out across the wings, making her entire body tremble in a way that wasn’t entirely due to her elation at the thought of scientific progress.
She steeled herself.
“How exactly do you think I’m going to relax?” she asked, as though she had no idea about the gutter his mind was in.
He leaned towards her, eyes hungry. There was a conniving smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth. “I’ve always been rather good at helping you relax, wouldn’t you say, Granger?”
A quick flush of warmth washed through her lower abdomen.
“You cannot be serious,” she forced herself to say in a stern voice. “If you have any weird proclivities, I’m sure there are clubs that cater to that. My state of misfortune does not exist as an opportunity for you to have a novel sexual experience.“
She glared forcefully at him while backing away.
Draco was uncowed. He’d forgotten his shock and was stalking towards her, apparently unconcerned with being bludgeoned to death by her wings.
There was a familiarly predatory expression on his angular face as he closed in.
A thrilled shiver slid down Hermione’s spine, and she tried to suppress it as she scampered further out of reach.
Her wings got stuck between the wall and her desk. She scowled as she tried to wriggle free, wings flapping uselessly and sending a hurricane of wind across the room. The air filling with memos.
She scowled repressively when he cornered her while she was still scrabbling to free herself. “You’re ridiculous. Do you ever think about anything but sex?”
“I admit it’s a struggle whenever you’re nearby,” he said in an airy voice and irrepressible grin as he managed to capture her wrist and tug her free. Her wings quieted immediately.
Draco glanced at them and raised an eyebrow, eyes gleaming. “They like me.”
His voice grew softer. “Or maybe you do.”
Hermione glared as a means of assuring him that she most certainly did not like him.
His hands came to rest on her hips and then slid slowly around to the small of her back. He lowered his head, brushing his lips against the side of her neck. She shivered. His long fingers caressed their way up her back.
He nipped her ear, and she shuddered, the wings arching and trembling as her body tensed.
“What do you say—Hermione?” His voice was low and cajoling, barely louder than a whisper against her temple. “Care to try an experiment?”
Hermione had to force herself to swallow thickly before she could manage to speak. “It’s not my fault at all if my wings concuss you.”
He chuckled, sending another shiver down her spine. “Alright.”
“Then — fine..." she said breathlessly. "But only because you’re so unreasonably insistent —“
He kissed her before she could finish speaking. A hungry, toe-curling kiss, his arms wrapping around her as though he didn’t care at all about whether she had wings. He didn’t pull away until her lungs were burning. When she was nearly gasping, he began making his way along her jaw and down her throat.
He always started with her neck, his hands not immediately wandering. He’d discovered early on that her neck was a key vulnerability and had exploited that knowledge on many, many occasions.
In the past, when their fake relationship had been largely limited to galas and fundraisers and the occasional wedding, he’d brought jewellry for her to wear. Old sets that were “gathering dust in the vaults” and happened to match the elaborate accents on his formal robes.
Sometimes it felt as though he were some variety of bird of paradise, decked in extravagant plumage while Hermione was the homely partner dressed in something that had seemed elegant until Draco came swanning in, wearing yards of intricately embroidered bespoke robes.
He’d fasten some jewel-encrusted piece around her throat, so slowly and carefully, his fingers and breath trailing across his skin until her heart was pounding, and she’d be nearly incoherent by the time the clasp was closed.
Then he’d look over her shoulder into the mirror, his fingertips trailing down her arm, his silver eyes black with lust as he whispered, “Now we’re a matched set.”
She’d been forced to ban him from bringing any more jewellry after they’d arrived inappropriately late to four consecutive events and she’d had to field knowing looks from Harry and Ginny, and gagging sounds from Ron, all evening.
It was times like that when she would wonder what it would be like if he meant any of it.
What would Draco do if he was in a real relationship with someone? It seemed impossible to imagine him being any more intense.
She always forced the thought away.
There was no point in indulging herself in that line of thought. She only ended up feeling worse every time she did.
Draco wasn’t serious; he’d never pretended to be serious. When their fake relationship had started to involve regular sex, she’d gathered her nerve and asked him if they were really dating now. They were doing practically everything a real relationship entailed, so — was it?
No. It was not.
Draco explained, in no uncertain terms, that, for him, sex was meaningless. He had no interest. He was enjoying himself, their arrangement was fun, but feelings were not even in the realm of possibility. Surely Hermione wasn't the kind of girl who thought that just because they had sex a few times that he —
She’d cut him off there, and the subject had been dropped.
Then he proposed ten months later.
He’d gotten more involved in her life at that point. They were friends. Maybe more than friends. She’d never known exactly how he ought to be classified.
A piece of legislation she’d been working on for years unexpectedly failed to pass in the Wizengamot. Hermione had been devastated and then depressed for weeks afterwards. Draco showed up on her doorstep, claiming she wasn’t upholding her end of their fake relationship bargain and proceeded to drag her all over London. He reappeared again the next day and in the evening over dinner, he said, “You should marry me.”
She’d sat frozen, staring at him in shock until the serious expression on his face broke into a thin smirk and he said, “That’s a joke, Granger.”
It had been like being slapped.
Hermione blinked, forced a laugh, and said of course she knew that.
After that, it became an ongoing “joke”. It seemed to happen whenever he felt that Hermione was involving him too much, treating him like he was a real boyfriend. Lately he’d taken to asking every time either of them got even remotely intoxicated.
All in all, it highlighted what a bastard he was.
Hermione got in the habit of dumping him in response, but somehow he always managed to slither back into her life.
There wasn’t anyone else who was an even remotely appealing partner, real or fake. She tried from time to time, but other men were simply too boring to be endured.
All her friends thought she was ridiculous and said so, frequently and with great prejudice.
Hermione’s embittered reverie was interrupted as Draco’s fingers rose up and brushed along the base of the wings, sending a tingling frisson straight through her body.
She shivered with a low whimper, but then instantly stiffened and drew back. “Don’t—don’t touch them. They’re not real. It feels too strange.”
He tugged her back towards himself, pressing a kiss against her temple.
“Relax. It’ll be good.” His hands slid up again, fingers tracing gently along the delicate bones she wasn’t at all used to having. It sent an electric thrill through her nerves and a warm heat coiling in her pelvis in a way that was somewhat mortifying.
It shouldn’t be arousing. It felt inappropriate to be aroused by having someone touch a part of her that was — a very large wing.
“I’ll be gentle.” His fingers alighted on a spot that caused her entire back to twist. She arched against him as she gasped.
This was so medically inadvisable... she should just swallow her pride and go to St Mungo’s rather than let Draco —
He ran a fingertip across the arch of her wing, and her entire train of thought dissolved as a shower of scintillating light burst through her mind.
She gave an abrupt, involuntary chirping sound and nearly collapsed into Draco's arms, her face aflame. This was the most intimate and intensely pleasurable sensation she had ever experienced. More pleasurable than anything involving wings ought to be.
Draco gripped her tighter and half carried out of her office and across the hall to her bedroom, laying her facedown on her bed.
“Just relax,” he said, his voice husky.
Hermione bristled at being told what to do. “I’m trying. You try relaxing with enormous wings growing out of your back,” she said, grimacing into the throw pillow.
He ran his hands along a wing, and it sent a shiver through her. Her back kept arching reactively until his fingers found a sensitive spot under the base. Hermione’s shoulders and wings trembled, and her whole body proceeded to go limp as if she’d been immobilised.
She gave a breathy, trembling sigh.
“That’s it,” Draco said, his voice low. He was kneeling behind her, one hand now running possessively down her spine, his fingertips tracing between her shoulder blades. He slid one limp wing forward and shifted himself closer.
She felt his breath against the back of her neck. He kissed her gently before nipping her neck. She whimpered.
“You’re incredibly sexy.”
Hermione rolled her eyes without opening them. She was positive that no one with an iota of sense would say a woman was more sexy with an enormous pair of wings coming out of her shoulder blades.
They weren’t even feathered wings. If they were feathered they might be sexy. Instead of feathers they were fragile and membranous with soft scales, as though Hermione were a bat. Or part dragon.
Well… maybe Draco Malfoy would find dragon wings sexy.
They weren’t even pretty and silver like Silvaya’s had been, they were a sort of dull brown that matched Hermione’s hair.
God. She really was homely. Even her wings were homely. Here she was in a fake relationship with a man who swanned around wearing silver robes with cerulean blue dragons embroidered on them for a casual luncheon, and even Veela-ised she was just — more brownish.
Anyone who thought Hermione Granger was somehow sexier with the addition of brown, featherless wings needed to have their head examined, which Draco probably did due to the concussion he had from falling down the stairs...
Her spiralling train of thought was snapped abruptly as Draco’s fingers alighted on a sore spot on her right wing. She made a sharp noise, and her back instantly tensed as both wings jerked away, folding themselves tightly and defensively against her back.
Draco stilled. “Are you hurt?”
“It’s fine,” she said, sitting up and twisting away from his hands. “They’re a bit battered from earlier, I banged them up when I was trying to make them stop flapping everywhere. It doesn’t matter. Once they go away, it won’t matter what condition they’re in.”
Draco leaned closer, peering over her shoulder at the right-wing which she was still trying to keep from view. It twinged and refused to fold all the way.
He reached towards her. “Let me see —“
Hermione shifted across her bed trying to get out of reach. “They’re very sensitive. I’d really rather —“
“I’m not going to hurt it. That could be why they didn’t retract. If they’re damaged, it’ll block the transfiguration process.”
Hermione gnawed her lip. She didn’t think Draco would ever intentionally try to hurt her, but she was beginning to get a better sense of the wings on her back, how fragile and delicate they were. They were highly sensitive, shifting to detect the air currents in the room. The bones were light and fragile, and she could feel how very breakable they were.
She shouldn’t let people near them because one rough movement could probably shatter and mangle half the bones in one wing. If someone were to twist them —
Her back shuddered, and the wings folded more tightly, but the damaged one still hung lopsided.
“Hermione,” Draco said steadily, “I’m not going to hurt you.”
She kept inching doubtfully away. He flinched, and his eyes widened.
“Granger — “ he exhaled, “ — I’ll never hurt you.”
Hermione blinked at him.
Right. He had no idea that lately he seemed to do nothing but hurt her.
Why would he?
Fake proposing was funny. They weren't suited to each other. He’d never claimed to actually like her at all. The idea that Draco Malfoy would ever want to marry her was obviously a hilarious joke. Any sensible person would see that.
Hermione was a very sensible person, so obviously she saw that.
She gave a stiff nod. “Of course not.”
His expression relaxed. “I won’t hurt you,” he said again. His wand had appeared from somewhere, and he was running his fingers carefully along the arch of the right-wing until he reached the place that had caused her to flinch. He stroked it very cautiously. “I think — it’s fractured.”
His fingers were careful as he shifted closer. “Episkey."
There was a brief pinch and then the soreness vanished.
“There.” Draco’s fingers traced along the wing until it extended fully with a shiver. A tingle rushed down her spine, and her brain spun.
“Better I think,” he said, but she only half-heard him because his breath brushed against her wings.
She nodded, expecting him to immediately resume where they’d left off, but instead he kept running his fingers carefully across the wings, finding little cuts and bruises from all the places Hermione had crashed into the walls and fallen on them.
It wasn’t until he was certain he’d fixed them all that he resumed stroking them again, brushing along the sensitive undersides where there were so many delicate bones and concentrations of nerves which sent heat rushing through Hermione. She made an undignified noise and fell facedown onto the mattress.
In a matter of minutes, his hands were roaming more possessively along her body.
“Fuck. I have wanted you this way for so long. I’m sick of coatrooms and those fucking alcoves.” His voice was a low growl, and he nipped the curve of her shoulder sharply. “You have no idea what you do to me.”
She bit her lip to suppress a moan. She actually had a fairly sizable idea. It was currently poking her thigh quite insistently.
His breathing was getting harsher, and he buried his face in her hair. She felt his hands grip her clothing before abruptly ripping the back of her shirt open.
“Your wings already wrecked them, ” he said before she could scream at him for ruining her favourite shirt. ”It was in my way.”
He bit down on her shoulder again, and Hermione forgot what she was annoyed with him about.
There were generally very strict rules about not leaving marks in places that might be visible. Draco seemed to regard that rule suspended as he latched onto the base of her neck and sucked hard.
He was definitely and most unapologetically leaving marks everywhere.
He dragged his mouth away and turned her head enough to kiss her, his hand trailing up her left-wing in a way that sent a spasm through her entire body. She gave a low, throaty moan against his lips and pushed herself up, gripping his robes and pulling their bodies together.
It had been ages since they’d had anything but a quick and dirty shag behind a curtain or in an alcove somewhere semi-public. It was natural, given the lack of an actual relationship, but sometimes a witch wanted to have sex in a bed and actually be comfortable.
She shoved Draco back on the mattress and climbed on top of him.
Being on top felt much more natural given the wings. They fluttered, steadying her as Hermione rolled her hips against Draco. He gave a gasping groan, and his fingers dug into her waist.
She rolled her hips again and leaned forwards, feeling predatory. The light around them dimmed, and she realised her wings had spread themselves like a canopy over them.
Draco’s eyes were nearly black as she slid her fingers up his chest to his face and tilted his head back to meet her lips.
She shimmied herself closer. If they were going to have sex, there was no point in being coy or halfway about. It hadn’t even been her idea. If Draco minded, he could say no.
She doubted he’d ever said no to sex in his entire life.
Ugh. She didn’t want to think about Draco sleeping with anyone else while she was with him.
She kissed him more forcefully and unbuttoned his robes, pulling them open in order to run her fingers across his bare skin with relish.
He had to like her a little. Surely, he wouldn’t keep coming around all the time if he didn’t like her at all.
She flicked her tongue against his lips and nipped. He groaned, his hand sliding down between their bodies to her core, stroking her through her clothing in a way that made her shudder and pull him possessively closer. She bracketed her legs tightly around his hips, practically tearing his robes off.
He was all hers right now. No speeches, no obligatory mingling, just the two of them without any interruptions.
He pushed himself up, holding her straddling his lap while peeling the straps of her bra down her shoulders and running his mouth over her breasts. One hand was still insinuated between their bodies, slipping under her knickers, fingers pushing inside her. His other arm slid around her body, fingertips swirling around the base of her wing. Dizzying pleasure emptied her mind and she arched against his chest as her core clenched.
Her head dropped back, and the tip of Draco’s tongue traced up her sternum before he dropped a kiss at the dip of her throat.
“You’re gorgeous,” he said, lips still brushing against her neck.
That time it was Hermione’s chest that clenched.
Why did he always have to say things like that? It would be fine if he just didn’t say anything, but he always talked, telling her how beautiful she was, that she left him completely undone and other ridiculous things that she didn’t want to hear from someone who was only willing to have casual sex with her.
Normally she just ignored him, but she found herself unexpectedly emotional about it and unable to tolerate empty compliments.
“Don’t,” she said sharply. She drew a harsh breath. “I’m not in the mood for any of that today.”
Draco’s head jerked back, and he looked up at her face, his expression unreadable. Hermione looked away, pulling out of his arms and standing to shove her skirt and knickers down, kicking her shoes off.
She was sick of having clothed sex. Pushed up against a wall with a dress bunched around her waist, worrying about getting stains on expensive evening-wear while her knickers were shoved to the side or tangled around her knees.
When she was stripped, she stood hesitating. Maybe she should have left something on. The absurdity of the situation struck her all over again, standing entirely nude while sporting a pair of wings twice the size she was. Not that having her skirt bunched up or her knickers halfway on would somehow improve the situation, but still.
She was certain that such a thing had never before happened to an aspiring Minister of Magic.
Draco’s hand closed around her waist, jerking her backwards. His breath burned against her skin before he dragged his tongue up the length of her spine. She bit back a moan. She could feel his cock pressed firmly against the small of her back as he wrapped his arms tightly around her.
Her wings arched as he drew her back into the bed, turning her and pulling her close once more, his bare skin against hers. He exhaled, biting his lip while his eyes raked up and down.
Hermione stared back. He’d stripped when she had. She didn’t think she’d ever seen him entirely nude. With all the layers Wizarding robes came in, he tended to unfasten only as much as necessary.
Her fingertips alighted on his chest, running across the scars that zigzagged across his torso. He bit his lip, suppressing a groan.
“Ride me,” He pulled her down on top of himself, “it's easier with the wings.”
The back of her mind instantly stalled.
How would he know that?
In fact, how did he know any of this? All the places on her wings that were so sensitive and responsive to touch. How to use them to arouse her so quickly.
Almost as if he’d had sex with Veela before.
It would explain his immediate enthusiasm and comfort around Hermione’s wings. It wasn’t as though he had a job keeping him busy. Hermione had no idea what he did with the rest of his time.
He certainly had the money to do whatever he wanted with almost anyone, even ethereally beautiful blondes with blue eyes and silver wings...
Her stomach twisted, her chest hollowed, and she thought she might be sick right then and there.
Draco didn’t seem to notice.
He was busy guiding her hips until she straddled him, running his fingers between her folds in a way that made her legs tremble. She leaned forwards, steadying herself with his shoulders, hand tangling in his hair as he pushed slowly into her, giving her time to relax and sink into the sensation of fullness. A low humming moan escaped from her. It felt tighter and warmer that she remembered sex usually being, but then again, most of their sex happened when one or both of them was half-drunk.
He gave a gasping moan as she shifted, eyes widening, and she realised that her wings were arching and balancing with each roll of her hips.
Draco looked as though he were about to lose his mind entirely. He was hissing between his teeth, his fingers digging into her hips pulling her down until he was buried to the hilt, and he muttered something unintelligible as his hips snapped up to meet hers.
Hermione gasped and clenched around him, a shudder running through her body. He looked as though his eyes were eating her. His expression was greedy as he lay pinned under her on the bed, staring up at her while she tried to find a rhythm that kept her wings steady.
She looked down at him, wondering if her expression was like his.
It felt so real.
But it wasn’t.
She closed her eyes.
They needed to stop. She needed to stop. The ostensible career benefits she kept trying to convince herself of no longer outweighed how bitterly resentful she felt towards Draco for not wanting her the way she wanted him.
She needed to take the plunge and remove him from her life. Permanently. No exceptions.
She’d tell him afterwards: We’re not doing this anymore. Don’t visit anymore. Don’t show up at my office. Don’t drag me out for lunches. Stop bothering me. Find someone else to horrify your father by being photographed with.
The building pleasure drew a little closer with every thrust she met. Her jaw loosened, and she felt that coiling heat building and tensing to the point of vibrating. So close...
Just a little closer...
“Say that you’ll marry me.”
The words invaded her consciousness like a bucket of ice water. Her eyes snapped open.
Draco’s expression was strange and unreadable as he stared up at her, hands on her waist. “Say it.”
Hermione glared at him as she rolled her hips. “Absolutely not.”
His expression darkened and he gripped her hips hard enough to still her. “Just for once, don’t say no.”
She wanted to smack him. Their last time, which admittedly he didn't know yet, and he was ruining it.
His jaw twitched, and his expression hardened a split second before he surged up and she nearly fell backwards. For a freezing instant, she thought with panic that she was going to fall onto her wings, but he twisted her around.
Hermione landed facedown on the mattress, and Draco’s weight bore down on her shoulders just below her wings as he drove in, filling her again with one hard thrust. Stars burst across her vision and her fingers spasmed, twisting in the sheets as her back arched to meet him.
His hands slid up along her ribs, and she felt his nose brush against her spine just between her shoulder blades as he exhaled against her skin.
“Come on, Granger,” his voice was a low whisper, “just once. Say yes for once.”
She shook her head. He gave a quiet hiss of irritation, but rather than argue his thrusts simply grew slower.
Oh, that bastard.
She pushed her hips back. She was so close, if he’d just... His hand slid around towards her pelvis, stroking and brushing his fingers against her clit while his other hand trailed across her right wing. Hermione groaned and her mind unspooled, pleasure rippling through her in a free fall.
His teeth grazed her neck, and he sucked hard, leaving another mark.
He gave another slow, deep thrust, keeping them too far apart for her to get any closer to climaxing. Just on the edge — nearly there, but not quite...
She bit her lip as he slowly drove in again, toe-curling, shuddering pleasure just out of reach. Her wings flexed down, vibrating.
“‘Malfoy — “ she tried to make herself sound dangerous, but she sounded desperate, “don’t you da —”
His fingertips stroked her clit. His breath was burning near the base of her wings where they were most sensitive. The words died in her throat as she uttered a small keen.
He pulled back, slowly, and then his cock sank in once more, filling her at that same relentlessly slow pace, filling her and hitting exactly where she wanted him if he’d just do it marginally faster. She made an incoherent sound of frustration and tried to twist and quickly reach down to touch herself.
His hands instantly closed around her wrists, wrenching them away, up behind her back, pinning them in place at the base of her spine. Her face and shoulders buried in her bedding, her hips up against his. His skin was hot, and she could tell he was straining to stay in control.
“Malfoy — I am going to murder you,” Hermione said vengefully into her duvet.
Then he thrust again, and she wailed, back tensing as she clenched hard around him.
“Just say yes,” he said, his voice breathless. “Say ‘Yes, I’ll marry you, Draco,’ and I’ll let you come.”
This was ridiculous.
The most ridiculous thing that had ever happened to Hermione, and that was truly saying something considering everything else about her present circumstances.
“I’m not saying yes, you moron.”
“Say it.” He thrust in a way that sent her eyes rolling back in her head as pleasure raced through her, right up —
He pulled his fingers away from her clit a split-second before she managed to topple over the edge and she stayed frozen for a moment, suspended, before gasping with frustration.
She wanted to scream.
She wanted to shove him off and kick his arse before throwing him out of her house, but oh —
She was so close.
She bit down on her lip to hold in her guttural frustration.
His fingers started stroking near her clit again, and she was in a pulsing haze, whimpering and burying her face in the bedding as she tensed.
Draco inhaled heavily behind her. “I’ll never ask again,” he said after a moment. “Twenty-four hours hours and you can break it off — and I’ll never ask again. Alright?”
Hermione felt as though she were only half-lucid. He thrust again, and she could practically feel herself catching fire, steadily consumed by a want that was reducing her entire existence down to a blistering pinpoint of pleasure.
His tongue traced up her spine and then flicked against the underside of her wing. Hermione’s head shot up, and she made a noise that was entirely animal as her spine arched. Her hands curled into helpless claws behind her back. Her entire body was taut and straining. She gasped as he thrust in again and his tongue curled against another very sensitive spot, the air sending an icy thrill along the nerves as Draco’s breath fanned across the base of the wing.
Her eyes rolled back as her head dropped, and she lay trembling as he continued. A soft lick. His fingers brushed gently against her folds. His hips rolled to fill her. His fingertips tapped tauntingly against her swollen clit while he sucked at a spot just under her left wing.
A spasm tore through her, and she shook on the precipice.
He wasn’t talking any longer.
She knew exactly what he wanted, and he was apparently willing to wait as long as necessary to make her say it.
Hermione was seething. Oh, she was going to make him pay — just as soon as she orgasmed.
Draco Malfoy had better be prepared to die because Hermione was going to ensure his slow demise. Top of her list. Screw being Minister of Magic, murdering Draco was now paramount.
Her crowning achievement in life was going to be the devastating revenge she would exact upon Draco for his audacity.
She would begin scheming immediately. Once she could force herself to focus on anything but the way he was touching her. His lips against her skin. Fingers stroking her. His cock, pushing in and angled to fill her just the way she needed him.
A bead of perspiration ran down her temple as she tried to breathe.
“Fine!” she managed to force the word out. “Yes.”
He exhaled, and his hips snapped against hers, hard, filling her in that mind-bending way that barely left her able to form a thought. His body curved over hers, covering her, her wrists still gripped firmly as the base of her spine.
“You have to say it.” His voice was a growl, and the vibration thrilled through her shoulders and out across the span of her wings.
Hermione consoled herself with thoughts of murder as she drew an unsteady breath and turned her head. “Yes — I’ll marry you, Draco.”
He gave a low gasp, and the air burned against her wings, making them quiver as he drove in deep, faster. His long fingers knowing just where to touch, caressing where their bodies were joined, all that tension locked between them coiling, growing taut until something snapped.
Hermione shook, and her climax struck like a tidal wave, rushing down and drowning her as pleasure dragged her under. The roar of her heartbeat and a long, climbing scream followed her. When she surfaced with a gasp, there was a pulsing heat through her core as Draco held her hips, groaning as he shuddered behind her.
His hands ran possessively up and down the length of her back before he sank down on top of her.
She realised, when his weight pressed against her shoulders and he curled around her, that the wings were gone. There was both a flood of relief and also a sort of wistful pang low in her chest.
Draco lay on top of her, panting against her skin, his fingers lightly tracing over the sensitive place on her shoulder blades where the wings had been.
She could tell by the way he touched them that the skin was still slightly raised and whorled.
Her shoulder twitched. She could feel the way her wings would have moved if they were still there.
She closed her eyes, inhaling and exhaling slowly as the afterglow glow faded and her mind cleared, pieces finally clicking into place.
She was engaged.
Draco Malfoy had used sex to manipulate her into becoming engaged to him.
She wondered absently if orgasm denial would stand in court as a form of coercion. Not that she has any intention of pressing charges and finding out.
Draco inhaled against her back and pressed a kiss on one shoulder, curling his body more closely against her as he gave a long sigh.
Her eyes widened, and she stared across the room for several seconds and a realisation dawned on her.
He never ‘asked’ her to marry him.
It was always an order or a piece of advice, even when he was demanding that she cooperate.
As if he couldn’t ask...
“What is it?” she said without looking back at him, “Is there some kind of vow or blood oath you’re under?”
There was a momentary pause as Draco froze.
“Bloodline enchantment, actually,” he said as his fingers kept tracing along her shoulders. There was just a hint of levity in his tone that Hermione had come to recognise over the years as a tell when he was nervous or feeling defensive.
He’d mostly tamed that acidic tongue of his after the war, now he hid behind being droll.
He laughed under his breath. “Can’t have heirs running around sullying the bloodline and betraying family secrets. Best to forcibly ensure we keep our mouths shut and stay in line. I was hoping you’d figure it out eventually.”
Of course... Hermione closed her eyes, exhaling. The more sordid secrets she learned about Wizarding families, the more amazed she was that they’d managed to survive to the twenty-first century.
Bloodline enchantments were heritable spells created for the purpose of being passed down through the generations, as if inbreeding Britain's tiny magical population wasn’t already bad enough. In theory the enchantments could be almost anything you could cast an enchantment of, but they were notoriously difficult to get right, and most known cases had terrible side-effects.
She reopened her eyes and scoffed. “Those are illegal, you know. Highly illegal. They’ve been outlawed for centuries, practically since they were created. Bloodline enchantments are in the same vein of Dark Magic as maledictions and blood curses.”
“I am aware,” Draco’s voice was dry. ”Unfortunately, I’m a Malfoy. Making something illegal is practically begging us to do it. That said, the first one was added to the patrilineal line prior to the ban.”
”The first?” Hermione sat up abruptly in order to properly gape with horror.
Draco pushed himself up and sank back among her collection of pillow shams. Hermione was torn between the desire to ogle him and to avert her eyes. Goodness gracious, how on earth did someone so lazy have that much definition on their torso? She was certain that most men did not look that way.
She surreptitiously studied him.
He didn’t appear to notice Hermione’s glances.
“Centuries back,” he waved a hand off into the distance, “before the Statute of Secrecy, Nicholas Malfoy was quite popular in the court of King Henry the Eighth. The unfortunate situation with all those wives and no male heir worried him, so,” Draco shrugged, “a simple enchantment upon the Malfoy bloodline and the problem was solved. No female Malfoys. Ever.”
Hermione stared. Of all the sexist, short-sighted, thick-headed....
“How very — Malfoy,” she simply said.
“Then…” Draco’s jaw ticked, “a couple hundred years later and my great-great grandfather tried to elope with a Muggle woman from the village near the estate.” He arched an aristocratic eyebrow. “Sixteen years old. Starry-eyed and in love. Almost managed it — but they caught him, brought him home. Married him to a pureblood as quick as they could, but the poor sod barely lived long enough to produce an heir. His father decided an additional enchantment on the bloodline was necessary to avoid any repeats of such an unfortunate episode.”
“So…” he inhaled heavily, “unless my father dies, or agrees to perform a very specific ritual in order to release me, it’s at his discretion to arrange a betrothal on my behalf. I can make no advances and express no sentiments of affection without permission. Unless I’m willing to commit patricide — which has been a temptation at times but I’ve managed to refrain.”
He gave a thin smile.
“Oh. Well,” she looked down at her lap, “you’ve certainly put an impressive amount of effort into trying to get out of it.”
She was beginning to feel nauseated, suddenly simultaneously cold yet uncomfortably too warm.
She swallowed. “Is that why you approached me then, because I was the most unacceptable person you could think of? Your father might give in and agree to almost anyone else, as long as it wasn’t me?”
A guilty flush rose in the hollows of Draco's cheeks, and he dropped his eyes. He started to open his mouth, but Hermione’s stomach abruptly roiled, her throat contracting.
She flung herself across her bedroom, reaching the toilet a second before she proceeded to be violently sick.
Chapter 4: How Feral Thou Art
The Veela venom was still affecting her was the first coherent thought Hermione had when she stopped gagging over the toilet.
She sank down on the floor, her stomach still roiling as she gripped the cool porcelain. Her stomach twisted again, and she retched. She was dimly aware that Draco had followed her into the bathroom and was holding her hair back for her.
His hands vanished as she sat back on her heels and stood, turning to the sink to hurriedly wash out her mouth.
“We can finish the conversation later,” she said, breathing heavily over the sink.
Not that she wanted to go into greater detail about it, but she doubted Draco was prepared to drop the subject. He’d been wanting her to figure it out. He’d probably been proposing constantly the way he had in the hopes that if he could bring her in on his family secrets she’d find a way to break it for him.
She wet her lips. “I think the bite is still doing something to me. I need to get to St Mungo’s. We can — discuss the enchantments more after that. Alright?”
There was silence that was broken after a minute by a syncopated tapping sound. Draco’s fingers were drumming on the door frame as he watched at Hermione through hooded eyes. She brushed her teeth and tried to rake her hair into a semblance of submission.
“Granger,” he said as she was putting her toothbrush away, “there’s — there’s one other thing I need to tell you, now that I can.”
“What is it?” Hermione slipped past him, hurriedly pulling fresh clothes out of her dresser. She pulled a bra on and clasped it, noticing distractedly that she was literally covered in bite marks. She rubbed the healed cut on her shoulder; it didn’t feel irritated, but clearly something was still wrong.
Her stomach felt knotted and her nose was so over-sensitive, it was as if one unexpected scent was going to send her lunging for the toilet again.
She was an idiot, so preoccupied with protecting her political career she’d been medically irresponsible. She should have insisted on going straight to St Mungo’s. Wings or not.
“Veela magic is unusual when compared to other Magical Beings,” she absently heard Draco saying.
“Mmm,” she said as she rummaged in her drawer for sensible knickers.
Gracious, she hoped she wasn’t going to get asked when she was last sexually active. If she had to admit that after being attacked by a Veela she’d gone home and had sex, she was going to die of mortification.
“When Veela marry Wizarding folk,” Draco was wittering on and on in the background, “Veela magic only manifests in female offspring. If they have male children, the sons are carriers of the magic gene, but the Veela magic is predominantly dormant. It won’t re-emerge until a female is born.”
Would black knickers look conservative or suggestive?
Hermione supposed she could wear white, but she didn’t want to seem prudish either, especially if she had to admit to having had sex within the last half hour.
Not that the Healers necessarily would even see her knickers, now that she thought about it. Black would be fine.
She slipped them on and realised that Draco was still talking as she pulled on a pair of trousers.
“...what’s interesting is that when carried by males, the Veela magic doesn’t dilute, it remains indefinitely in the bloodline, similar to the way a malediction can be carried until the targeted gender is born—“
Hermione was trying to find a shirt high-necked enough that would cover the bites everywhere on her neck and shoulders.
Was there anywhere Draco hadn’t nipped her? The Healers were definitely going to see those. Did she have any Murtlap Essence left? No. She’d used it all up on Ron and Ginny when they got sunburned. Bugger.
She’d never known anyone capable of sunburning as comprehensively as the Weasleys. It was a family trait right along with the red hair.
...she froze, blinking down at her shirts for several seconds as her subconscious suddenly finished processing all the information she’d only been half-listening to.
He couldn’t possibly...
She slowly turned around.
Draco had already redressed and was across the room, adjusting the buttons on his robes as he continued to talk rapidly about matrilineal and patrilineal bloodlines and Veela.
She studied at him, noticing his startling, soul-searingly silver eyes, his pale and flawless skin the colour of milk, his extremely platinum blonde hair, and his very, very narrow features.
“Draco,” she said, interrupting him, “do Veela have venom?”
He stopped mid-sentence and looked up at her, his mouth opening and closing several times as they stared at each other.
He went pale. “N-no. They do not.”
Hermione closed her eyes, wincing internally as she drew a slow breath. “If — hypothetically speaking — a family who happened to have a male only Bloodline Enchantment were to marry a Veela, what would happen?”
She opened her eyes in time to see Draco swallowing.
“Well — “ his voice jumped and he looked down at his hands and shot his cuffs before spending several seconds fidgeting at them anyway. “In that — hypothetical situation that we’re — hypothesizing about, the magic would just be carried in the bloodline — indefinitely. All the males would be Veela, and the magic would concentrate over the course of several generations as other traits recede but the Veela genes remained undiluted.”
Hermione raised an eyebrow. “Any examples of what exactly that might look like?”
Draco’s cheeks were staining scarlet while the rest of him managed to turn even more pale. “Oh, well you know.... hypothetically all sorts of things could happen.”
Hermione’s mouth pursed as she stared sourly at him. “Where do you imagine this concentrated Veela magic could manifest? Hypothetically.”
“Well...” Draco rubbed the back of his neck. “You see, because the magic is so potent after say, four or five generations, it begins — I mean, it’s not unheard of for it to — I mean in theory it could — “ he choked and said something indecipherable.
Hermione raised an eyebrow. “Say that again?”
He pressed his hands together, steepling his fingers.
“Since it’s female magic,” he said slowly, avoiding her eyes, “sometimes... the Veela’s mate — wife! I mean the wife might begin manifesting Veela magic during — during, well, during a pregnancy.”
Hermione’s mouth went dry, and her life's ambitions flashed before her eyes. “What kinds of manifestations?”
Draco was beginning to perspire. “Well, their hair can turn white-blonde, not necessarily all the way, but streaks of it.”
Narcissa Malfoy’s mysteriously badger-striped hair instantly came to mind and Hermione’s hand crept towards her right temple where that mortifying cluster of white hairs were.
Draco gulped. “Sometimes... sometimes... they, well, you know it’s a defense mechanism for Veela to transform. In moments of stress or danger, it’s not uncommon for them to — they can occasionally — I mean, I’m not saying this necessarily would happen, but it’s possible that they might—“
“Sprout wings and transform?” Hermione said, her voice flat.
There was a pause, a pregnant pause both literally and figuratively, as Draco stared at her, guilt written across his face.
This simply couldn’t be happening today. Not today. Not this month.
Did the universe not know she had legislation coming up? A very meticulously planned career? She was supposed to be Minister of Magic in fifteen to twenty years. She had a fundraising brunch tomorrow.
Maybe she shouldn’t have let herself get mildly intoxicated when at public events just because she knew it would result in sneaking off with Draco... but she couldn’t be expected to be perfect all the time.
They stood staring at each other in silence until Hermione spoke again.
“I’m sixty — “ he broke off, staring at the ceiling as though mentally calculating, “ — thirty-five percent, well — “ he hedged, “ — twenty — no — “ he inhaled and met her eyes, “ — about twelve percent certain we’ve cast a contraceptive every time. However,” he held up one hand as if to ward her off from hexing him, “we were fairly drunk the last few times, and the efficacy of the contraceptive charm is not a hundred percent even with perfect charmwork.”
Hermione glared, suddenly finding herself overcome with the urge to throttle him. “You knew. From the moment you saw me with wings, you knew you’d gotten me pregnant. And instead of telling me, you thought we should” — she threw her hands in the air — “have sex?”
He ducked as though he thought she was flinging something at him. “For the record, that is a proven method for helping the wings retract. There are journals attesting to it. My great-grandmother had severe mood swings when pregnant with my grandfather Abraxus, and it was the only sure way of getting rid of them.”
Hermione did not want to know why Draco had spent any amount of time learning about his great-grandmother’s pregnancy sex life. The man was a menace. He should be jailed for running around sexually transmitting Veela-ism into unsuspecting witches who’d just wanted a nice, quick fuck with their fake boyfriend.
Was that such an unreasonable thing to want?
Was that really where the universe was going to draw the line for her?
She was certain no Malfoy in the history of Malfoys had even thought through a goddamn thing in their life. The sheer idiocy of layering on bloodline enchantments and then bringing in an unknown element like Veela magic was truly mind-boggling.
They should be institutionalized, the lot of them.
The room was beginning to turn red.
“However — “ Draco seemed to realise that she was growing murderous and his voice became plaintive. “ — I was improvising! We weren’t engaged. The Bloodline Enchantment wouldn’t let me explain, and I didn’t want you to find out at St Mungo’s. Even then, as long as we weren’t engaged, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you why or how.”
Hermione stood fuming, magic crackling on her fingertips and bleeding across her shoulders.
Draco scuttled sideways and was attempting to hide behind a bedpost. “Hermione — Hermione, don’t take this the wrong way, but please calm down.”
Hermione thought she might combust. “I’m being extremely calm for a very busy woman with an extremely important career who just found out that she is pregnant and it’s making her sprout harpy wings.”
Draco poked his face out enough to show a visibly offended expression. “They’re not harpy wings! Veela wings are completely distinct from Harpies. Harpies have talons at the elbow of the wings, the scale patterns are horned—“
“Malfoy, if you don’t shut up – ” The magic was sizzling between her fingertips, and her shoulders were itching.
Draco blanched and ducked. “Hermione, I mean this as inoffensively as possible, if you get any angrier, you’ll transform. And if you transform, you’ll probably throw a fireball at me. It will burn down your entire house, and I think you will feel very upset about that afterwards.”
He peeked out at her from behind the bed. “If you really want to throw fireballs at me, we can go to the manor. There are rooms there that have been fireproofed specifically for these types of situations, and you can throw as many fireballs at me as you think I deserve.”
Hermione stood seething. She did want to throw a fireball at him now that she thought about it. However, he was right in assuming that she would be extremely cross if she burned down her home.
She turned away, giving a small scream of frustration.
Then she squeezed her hands into fists and forced herself to draw several slow breaths before turning back to glare at Draco, who was standing now but still looking ready to dive behind the bed again at a moment’s notice.
“Alright then...” she was trying to sound calm and reasonable, “what – what does this even mean? How does all this work with Veela?”
Draco wet his lips, looking suddenly more nervous than he’d been while trying to tell her about the pregnancy. “Well, there’s one other thing I should probably mention.”
Hermione’s stomach immediately knotted itself. How on earth could there possibly be more? Was being pregnant by an idiot Veela not enough of a wrench in Hermione’s circumstances?
“Veela — “ he was avoiding her eyes and still looking very guilty “ — don’t just get married. They have a mate. One particular person they find and fall in love with. It’s not entirely different from normal human relationships but it’s more — invested and, um — committed for Veela once it happens. They stay in love. There’s no going back on it once it happens.”
He said it like this was terrible news.
Hermione stared blankly at him for several seconds trying to process and integrate the information in with all the other revelations of the day.
Then the implication of what he was saying crept over her.
Draco had a mate.
Someone he was extremely, deeply in love with.
Someone who was obviously not Hermione, since he’d told her that a sexual relationship with her was meaningless, that having feelings weren’t even in the realm of possibility, that she was ridiculous to even ask him about a relationship.
“Oh,” Hermione finally managed to find her voice. “I see.”
He looked up at her, his tongue nervously wetting his lips. “I know all of this is a lot. I’ll understand if you’re upset.”
She blinked and swallowed.
“Upset? Why would I be upset? It’s fine,” she said, feeling as though something inside her had died. “I’m not upset at all.” She inhaled, forcibly trying to keep her mind on track. “How does that kind of relationship work with the influence of the bloodline enchantment?”
Draco brightened and seemed somewhat more at ease at that question. “It wasn’t supposed to happen. The second enchantment was created specifically to control that aspect of Veela behavior by forcing the heirs to keep their distance from anyone they might develop feelings for and thereby without opportunity to potentially develop a mate bond. I assumed that unless my father gave in — “
She stopped listening.
He was saying something else about how he’d realised it because when he was alone for too long it made him feel like he was going to die.
Hermione didn’t want to hear about it. She just kept staring at him, blinking hard as she tried to think rationally about the situation. She was, after all, a very rational, sensible type of person who wouldn’t get emotional about minor things like Draco Malfoy being in love with someone else.
It wasn’t as if she’d ever thought they’d be in a real relationship. An accidental pregnancy wouldn’t change anything, and she certainly hadn’t expected it to.
It was fine. She had a very fulfilling career. A whole list of individually selected ambitions that she was very fond of. She was going to make a difference in the world. She was going to be Minister of Magic. She didn’t need a man.
She could buy a vibrator.
And a cat.
A cat would be much better companionship than Draco. It would probably tear less of her clothing too. It would never complain that she worked too much or drag her out of her office midday because there was a restaurant with French Onion soup that was to die for and French Onion soup was simply not as good when eaten by oneself. A cat would never get into an argument with her about how digestives didn’t qualify as lunch or redecorate her office without permission.
Her life would be much simpler with a cat.
Hermione should be grateful that Draco had a mate to preoccupy him. He’d probably be even more of a nuisance otherwise. It was difficult to imagine Draco being even more annoying than he was.
Once Hermione helped him with his bloodline enchantment, he’d probably disappear from her life entirely. That would be for the best.
Her nose and eyes burned, and she blinked. She was clearly having an allergy attack because she was allergic to Veela.
She realised that Draco had stopped talking and was staring expectantly at her. It seemed that she was supposed to say something.
She had no idea what to say.
“Alright.” She felt as though there was a stone lodged in her throat. “That’s fine.”
Her voice was mechanical.
She wasn’t sure what he was expecting her to say. Was she intended to congratulate him?
She wanted him to leave.
“Are you sure?” Draco’s nervous energy seemed to have evaporated, and now he looked anxious again. He edged towards her, extending a hand as though to steady her. “You don’t look — “
“I don’t need you fussing over me!” Hermione said, jerking away and feeling savage. “I said I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything is fine!”
She inhaled raggedly and then squared herself up, putting her hands on her hips. “What? Are you hoping I’ll be upset? You were very clear about what kind of relationship we have. I didn’t need an excuse. It’s not as though I thought you really wanted to marry me or that you suddenly would now because I’m pregnant. Why don’t you go bother your mate and stop pestering me? I’m a — “ her voice wobbled, “very, very busy person.”
She wanted to curl up in bed and never leave her house again.
“Wait. Who do you think my mate is?” Draco suddenly appeared baffled.
“I’m sure I haven’t the faintest idea,” Hermione snapped, “It’s not as though I have the leisure time to keep up with whatever immoral things you’re off doing with god knows who whenever you’re on your own.”
She turned away from him, hoping he would take the hint and go away.
There was a long pause.
“What?” The question seemed to explode from Draco.
Hermione turned sharply with surprise. He looked half-feral, drawn up to his full height, his silver eyes glowing with outrage. His teeth flashed, gnashing, and he looked very much like if he could transform, he would be doing it, wings, beak, fireballs and all.
“I — I don’t — “ Draco spluttered. “I have never — ! It’s you. You absolute moron. You — idiotic genius. You’re my mate. How could you possibly think it was anyone else?”
Chapter 5: Hope Is A Thing With[out] Feathers
“Me?” Hermione stared at him in astonishment.
Draco appeared too indignant to be able to speak any longer. His hands were gesticulating wildly as though there were so many things he wanted to say all at once that he couldn’t get any of them out at all.
“Me?” She said again. “I’m your mate?”
“Yes!” he finally managed to say and looked ready to fling himself from the closest window. “Christ, did—did this really not even occur to you? I said mate and you just assumed — “
Hermione inhaled unsteadily and thought her legs might give out. She also wanted to cry, but she was certain that was just pregnancy hormones. “But you said — when I asked, you said it didn’t mean anything.”
“That was years ago!”
“Well, I don’t remember ever hearing you take it back.” She thought she might start bawling with relief. She refused to be one of those pregnant witches that just cried about everything, so she instead consoled herself by being angry about how upset he’d managed to make her.
He called her a moron!
No one had ever called her a moron in her entire life.
“Why couldn’t you just say it was me? ‘Hermione, you’re my mate.’ It’s not even very many words. Why does everything have to be these convoluted, generalised monologues where you say things in the most roundabout way imaginable? Can you say anything outright or is rambling another Bloodline Enchantment your ancestors managed to slip in that you just haven’t bothered to mention yet?”
“It’s something of a habit at this point.” Draco was seething. “You try being under an enchantment your entire life and see how good at being direct you are.”
He stepped back and appeared to be on the verge of dissolving into an inconsolable heap in the centre of the floor. “It’s not like I haven’t been trying, but every time I managed to find a way of proposing that didn’t trigger the enchantment, you’d break up with me, and I’d have to start all over again.”
He waved a hand indignantly at her.
Hermione froze and stared at him in astonishment. “You mean, you meant those proposals?”
“All of them?” Hermione was aware that her jaw was hanging unattractively, but she was so flabberghasted she couldn't actually close it.
“Yes. I meant it every time. What did you think I was saying them for?” He appeared to have moved rapidly through all the stages of grief and looked resigned at this point. “You really — you didn’t — It never occurred to you that I was in love with you? You thought it was all just fake?”
Hermione’s heart jumped up somewhere in the approximate vicinity of her vocal chords, and she nearly sniffled.
However, she was still offended that he’d expected her to assume he was in love with her after he’d specifically said he didn’t like her. If that was how it worked, then about half the politicians in the Ministry were apparently also passionately in love with her.
She put her hands on her hips. “You said it wouldn’t happen, that it was out of the question, and acted like I was some kind of simpering naïf for even asking. If you want people to divine that you’re secretly in love with them, maybe you shouldn’t say things like that. Or say it’s a joke after proposing the first time.”
“It’s not as if I planned it,” he said plaintively. “I didn’t think I could develop romantic feelings for anyone. That was the whole idea of the enchantment, to prevent heirs from really falling in love. It’s not like I hadn’t tried to get around it before I approached you. It was supposed to be impossible. When you asked about an actual relationship, I panicked. How was I supposed to know that I’d somehow manage to fall in love with you anyways?”
He made a futile gesture.
Hermione exhaled, feeling as if she’d forgotten to breathe for the last several minutes. Her mind was busily spinning, a sense of giddiness rushing through her down to her toes.
Draco was in love with her. All this time, he’d actually been in love with her.
Not only that, she was his mate. This was a permanent arrangement. No one else, just her.
He was all hers forever and ever.
The day had managed to abruptly transform itself from one of the worst in recent history to possibly the best one she’d ever had.
If she was Draco’s mate, did that make him her mate too? She wasn’t sure about the ins and outs of the biology. Draco would surely know. He’d better. If he was going to go around knowing about his great grandmother’s sex life during pregnancy, it had better be because he was deeply and extensively versed in all things Veela.
She wanted to laugh aloud at the thought of how Lucius was going to react to the news. His determination to control Draco had managed to backfire spectacularly.
But nevermind that. She didn’t want to think about Lucius.
She’d never even thought about being a mate. Despite working in the Magical Creatures Department, it wasn’t something she’d contemplated for herself personally. What did being a Veela’s mate mean exactly? Would this give them secret mate-powers? Were there rituals involved?
“How does that work, with mates? Do you have to bite me or something?”
Draco looked up distractedly and stared at her. “What?”
“For mating,” she said, trying not to look too invested, “do you bite me? Is there a magical bond? Or do we perform some kind of elaborate ritual? Is there an exchange of blood? I’ve never read up on mating.”
“Bite you?” Draco appeared flummoxed. “Why would I — ? No, I don’t bite you. We don’t — mate mate. I mean — “ he blushed, “ — obviously we did but not — ritualistically. You’re my mate because that’s who you are to me. There’s no — biting involved.”
“Oh.” Hermione tried to conceal her disappointment.
Draco’s left eyebrow crept upward, and a glint appeared in his eyes as the air of despondency around him seemed to suddenly evaporate. “Do you — want me to bite you?”
Hermione’s face grew warm. “I didn’t say that.”
Draco shifted, moving towards her in a slow intentional prowl. “I most certainly can bite you,” his voice had a relentless quality to it, “if that’s what you want.”
“What?” Her voice jumped in a most treacherous way as she backed up. “Why would I want to be bitten? Why would anyone want to be bitten?” Her ears were burning, and her face was so warm she thought the room might combust. “I was simply trying to establish the facts of this situation. I haven’t exactly researched it. It’s not like I was ever planning to fall in love and marry a magically repressed Veela.”
Draco stopped short and looked belligerent. “That’s not — I’m not repressed! I mean, technically, I suppose you could call it — you know what? Never mind,” — he waved a hand as though trying to banish the line of thought — “call it what you want. You’re going to marry me?”
He had a very predatory expression on his face.
Hermione drew herself up and nodded, desperate to talk about anything other than the biting fetish she apparently had.
“Obviously. Your family is in dire need of someone with basic common sense, ideally who’s clever enough to remove the two Bloodline Enchantments your ancestors were idiotic enough to cast.”
She tapped her foot, mentally rearranging her calendar to accommodate research on Bloodline Enchantments.
For heaven’s sake. She was going to have to buy a whole new set of calendars.
She sighed, still feeling cheated on one point. “You’re sure there isn’t any kind of mating bite?”
Draco leered. “I’m more than happy to bite you in any way you want me to.”
He was stalking her again. He seemed to do that rather often, now that she thought about it.
An electric thrill shot down Hermione’s spine, and she didn’t even have time to bolt before he swooped in and captured her, kissing her hungrily.
She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and got her legs up around his hips, nearly scaling him in order to achieve the height and angle she wanted.
She had always liked kissing Draco, but she’d never felt that it was something she could indulge herself in. It wouldn’t do to seem overly fond of a fake boyfriend.
However, now he was her mate — Or was it the other way around? She was pretty sure it went both ways. Either way, now she could kiss him as much as she pleased. She made a happy purring sound against his lips as she nibbled at them, tangling her fingers in his ridiculously blond hair.
If she was going to be going around sprouting Veela wings intermittently and being a mate, she was definitely entitled to as many kisses as she wanted. And sex. Real, slow sex with a bed.
She kissed him more vigorously.
“You’ll really marry me?” he said as he dragged her closer, lips hungry.
“Yes,” she said with a little moan, gripping his robes and tightening her legs around his hips.
“Yes. Definitely,” she said breathlessly.
He growled in response.
Oh, goodness, he was possessive. She didn’t know how she hadn’t noticed sooner how very possessively his hands wrapped around her waist and tangled in her hair. The ruthless way his lips found hers, and he drew her tight against his body.
“God. I love you,” he said raggedly. Her heart did a series of somersaults at the words and she gripped him closer.
“You’re not upset with me?“ he said as he peppered her face with kisses.
Well… she blinked up at the ceiling as he carried her to the bed, thinking about the last several hours of emotional turmoil and how her calendar months for the foreseeable future was now in shambles.
Pregnant and engaged in the same afternoon. There was definitely a potential political scandal lurking in there.
She was also apparently looking forward to a reoccurring wing-growing situation. And turning blonde...
Really, turning blonde sounded like the worst part.
“I’m sorry. This isn’t how I wanted to tell you any of this,” Draco was saying. “I had a whole plan, it was going to be so romantic — “
“It’s fine,” she said as he pinned her down on the mattress and began peeling her clothes off. She pushed him just enough to see his face. “That doesn’t matter to me. I just wanted you.”
She inhaled and felt ready to burst. “I just wanted you, and now you’re mine.”
He sighed and dropped his head. “God, I’ve been dying waiting to explain everything and tell you that I love you.”
Hermione felt as though she was turning into liquid gold on the inside. “Well — “ her breath caught in her throat, “— I might as well tell you then, I love you too.”
She felt funny all over just saying it.
Was that really what had been going on this whole time?
Surely not. She was an adult. A successful adult, and the Undersecretary in the Department of Magical Creatures no less. She was much too old and sensible to spend years pining and in denial over someone.
It had only been recently that she had fallen in love with Draco, and not years the way it had felt.
She had simply been — intensely fond and protective of him in times previous. Very fond. That was all.
Draco sank down on top of her with a relieved groan, burying his face in her shoulder and wrapping his arms around her.
Then he just stayed there.
Hermione waited for several moments and he didn’t move.
“Draco, are you — ? What are you doing?” she finally said.
He inhaled, holding her tighter. “I’m basking in this moment.” His voice was muffled but almost drunkenly happy sounding.
Hermione suppressed a laugh. She lay there for a minute with her arms wrapped around his shoulders, then, when it became apparent that he was intending to bask indefinitely, she pulled his head up and drew his lips against hers.
She could feel the curve of his smile against her mouth.
She wrapped her arms around him and kissed him more hungrily, raking her nails through his hair and accidentally ripping his shirt in the process of getting it out of her way.
She bit his shoulder sharply and then nuzzled her face against his pale skin as it marked.
Hmmm. Perhaps she was a bit of a possessive creature herself.
Oh well. Draco didn’t seem to mind at all.
Hermione was dozing in Draco’s arms afterwards when she heard the fiery roar of the Floo down the hall.
“Hermione? Hermione, are you here?” Harry called loudly from her office.
Hermione started and slung her arm over her face, cursing as she remembered leaving her Floo open. She gave a small groan before rousing herself and twisting to find something to pull on.
“Hold on! Be right there, Harry!”
“The fuck does Potter want?” Draco sounded half-asleep, and he refused to budge as Hermione tried to squirm free and grab a robe.
“Some case most likely, I consult sometimes.” She managed to snag Draco’s shirt off the floor and tried to find the sleeves. She raised her voice again. “Just a minute! Wait in the office — “
“Hermione, why are you — “ Harry walked straight into the bedroom just as Hermione sat up to pull on the shirt, while Draco lay, draped across her, refusing to let go and unapologetically nude.
Ron was a step behind Harry. They both stopped and stood staring with expressions of horror.
“Harry! Ron! Get out!”
Hermione’s voice seemed to snap them out of their shock.
“Oh god!” Harry clamped a hand over his eyes.
“Get out!” Hermione shouted again “What are you doing here?”
She rapidly pulled the shirt on, wrenched herself free from Draco and herded Harry and Ron forcefully from her bedroom.
“Someone blind me,” Ron was saying loudly as he was shoved through the doorway. “After this bloody day, I can’t believe you made me come see that.”
Hermione pulled the door closed and then crossed her arms, scowling menacingly at them both. “I certainly didn’t ask you to. What do you want?”
Harry was an even combination of traumatised and offended. “We came here to check on you.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. Of all the days that they’d choose to ‘check’ on her. As if she needed minding anyway.
She scoffed. “Well, as you can both see, I’m fine, and clearly having a better day than you.”
She wrinkled her nose as she paused to fully take in their rumpled appearances.
They were both smeared in soot. Harry’s hair was smoldering on one side of his head, small wisps of smoke still rising from the tips of large cowlick. He smelled like a burning stable.
Her stomach abruptly churned. She clamped her hand over her nose. “What did you two get into?”
Harry looked down at himself. “The auror department was called in to deal with a domestic dispute today.”
“With what?” Hermione looked them over and noticed that a large section of Ron’s red auror robes were blackened. “A dragon?”
“Veela,” Harry said shortly. “A Veela recently immigrated here because of her mate’s job transfer. We were called in because a fight between them resulted in the Veela transforming. She was flying around wailing like a banshee, fireballs in both hands, and her mate was chasing after her on a broomstick, shouting in Serbian. We had to catch and restrain them both and obliviate an entire neighborhood of Muggles before we could sort it out.”
Hermione’s eyes went wide. “Is she alright?”
She realized with a pang of guilt that she’d completely forgotten about Silvaya. Poor Silvaya, she must have been so upset over her mate.
Ron made an indignant sound. “She’s fine. Harry and I are the ones who had to catch her before she flew over London. Had about twenty fireballs flung straight at my head.”
“Anyway,” Harry said pointedly. “After we managed to catch and restrain them, and put out all the fires, then we had to wait for her to drop the transformation and track down a translator since her husband spoke almost no English. We tried to get you called in, but you weren’t in the office. So, after a lot of shouting, and more accidental transformations, we found out it was all caused by a misunderstanding with the Ministry.”
Hermione blinked. “What?”
Harry sighed with the air of a man who had clearly joined the auror department in order to hunt down dark wizards and not respond to domestic disturbances involving fireballs.
“Apparently the Ministry of Magic in Serbia also runs their Wizarding bank. Mr Parchev, the human mate, was supposed to go to Gringotts to set up a separate savings account so he could send home money for his mother, but got turned around and ended up at the Ministry’s Bonding Department and filed for separation from his wife instead. Someone from the Ministry dropped by to tell her and then ran away without resolving the situation.”
Hermione‘s face grew red hot.
“We got them to the Bonding Department so they’re sorting everything out now. The case will be sent over to the Department of Magical Creatures. We were worried when you weren’t at your office, so we figured we’d check that you were alright and catch you up on the situation, since Magical Beings are your thing.” Harry looked at Hermione with a woebegone expression clearly intended to communicate that walking in on her and Draco was dramatically worse than being hit with a fireball.
Hermione scowled and folded her arms. “I said I was coming. You came barging in. If you don’t want to see certain things, you shouldn’t walk into my bedroom without asking.”
“The door was wide open,” Ron said.
Hermione leveled him with her most piercing stare. “I live alone. If I want to have sex with Draco in the middle of my office desk or on my dining room table, I’m perfectly entitled to do so in my own home.”
“Personally, I’ve always wanted to fuck you on top of the piano.” The door of Hermione’s room had swung open, and Draco emerged with a swagger, dressed in his robes but sans shirt, given that Hermione was currently wearing it.
Hermione’s entire body grew warmer, and she emitted a small squeak as Draco’s arms slid around her waist, his chin resting on the top of her head.
Ron looked like he was the one suffering from morning sickness and recoiled from the bannister. “I am never touching anything in this house again.”
Harry just snorted.
“And! I thought you broke up with him,” Ron was pointing accusingly at Hermione as if there could be anyone who’d recently broken up with Draco.
“Yes,” Draco said, a sly leer overt in his tone. “Hermione is my ex-girlfriend. Guess how.”
Harry and Ron just stared blankly.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “He means we’re engaged.”
“Oh!” Harry’s eyes went wide.
“Ugh. No,” said Ron in the same instant. “You swore that dating Malfoy would just be a phase.”
Admittedly Hermione had said that.
She’d never even considered trying to try to explain to Harry and Ron that she was fake dating Draco due to complex political ambitions and mutual benefit. It was just the sort of thing they wouldn’t be able to understand and would try to argue with her about. There’d been no point in even trying, and she wasn’t going to begin wasting her time now.
“It was,” Hermione said in a bland voice, leaning back against Draco’s chest and feeling his arms tighten possessively around her. “Now I’m moving on to a new phase that involves being married to him. Which brings me back to the point that we’re celebrating our engagement right now. You’re intruding. Why don’t you two go home, take a shower, maybe try a hair regrowth potion or two, and leave us be.” She eyed them pointedly. “Unless you want to watch us christen the piano.”
In truth, she thought she might vomit if she had to keep standing there pretending not to be nauseated by the scent of Harry’s burnt hair. Much longer and she was going to be sick on his shoes.
Ron blanched and bolted for the Floo.
Harry stood staring, his eyes narrowed in the very auror-like way that they did whenever he was determined to be suspicious about things that were none of his business. “I’m happy for you Hermione, if this is what you really want.”
Hermione lifted her chin and gripped Draco’s arms around her tightly. “It is.”
Harry gave Draco a look. “You better take care of her Malfoy, I’m her best friend and I’m not going to let anyone get away with hurting her.”
“Thanks for the warning, Potter,” Draco’s tone was dripping acid and she could practically hear the sneer on his face, “I think I would have forgotten who her best friends are if you didn’t find it necessary to remind me every single time I see you.”
Harry appeared unmoved. “Well, he’s all yours, Hermione.”
He gave them one last look and then headed into Hermione's office and vanished through the Floo.
Hermione sighed with relief and cast a spell in order to clear the air.
“The piano, hm?” Draco said after a moment. His voice sent an immediate shiver through her.
His hands unlocked from around her waist and slithered down along her hips, finding the hem of his shirt along her thighs and slipping his fingers under the fabric.
Hermione’s breath caught and a tingling warmth spread through her back and down into her pelvis. “It was your idea. I just wanted them to go away. If Harry stayed any longer, his hair was going to make me throw up again.”
Draco’s wandering hands stilled. “Are you alright now?”
She caught her lip between her teeth and parted her legs for him. “Oh yes,” her voice was breathless.
They’d already had sex twice that afternoon, which should have been more than enough, but somehow it wasn’t and now she was making a rapid list of all the furniture and horizontal surfaces in her house that they needed to christen.
“Clever.” Draco shifted behind her, and she felt his breath against the side of her neck as he brushed his lips along her shoulder and his hands trailed up higher. Hermione bit her lip to hold in a moan and parted her legs further.
“You are terrifyingly talented at somehow getting whatever you want,” he said, his voice low as his fingers moved slowly upwards.
Her breath caught in her throat.
“Not always,” she said with a small gasp as he stroked softly between her legs. “It never seems to work with you.”
He laughed, and the vibrations rippled through her, turning her liquid inside. His fingers slipped into her core. “Oh, it does. You have no idea how well it works on me.”
He steered her over and pinned her against the wall. “You managed to make me fall in love with you, when it was supposed to be impossible. I don’t think there’s a force in this universe that doesn’t eventually bend to your will.”
Hermione started opening her mouth to argue that she most certainly had not ‘made’ him fall in love with her, but he bit her.
It was a sharp nip on her shoulder that made her keen as her knees buckled, but he held her upright and nibbled his way across her shoulders. His other hand splayed possessively, protectively across her lower abdomen.
“My mate.” He growled slowly in her ear.
A shiver ran through her gut and pooled like molten heat between her legs. She bit her lip and nodded.
“I’d do anything you want. I will. Always. Just say the word.” He was breathing heavily against her neck.
His shirt was sliding off her shoulders. She could feel the collar against the small of her back.
She had rather liked the idea of the piano, but she wasn’t sure her legs would cooperate enough to descend the stairs. She supposed the hallway was as good a place as any to christen.
She slipped a hand behind her back and slid it down into his trousers, wrapping her fingers around him. He was already hardening again and she gave a firm pump.
“I want you — I just want you,” she said, breaking off in a low whimper as his long fingers slid deeper and she clenched around him. Her voice died as her whole body trembled. She squeezed harder.
Draco jerked, his hips bucking against her hand as he gave a hissing moan. He pinned her more firmly against the wall with his body and stood a moment, breathing harshly along the back of her neck.
“Do you,” he finally said, his voice somewhat strained, “expect to be this horny for the entire pregnancy?”
Hermione tilted her head back to look up at him and raised an eyebrow. “I might be. Are you up for it, Mate?”
That was one question that she didn’t need him to answer aloud in order to be certain about. The hungry elation in his expression told her everything.