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The Black Prophecy

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Sitting in her favorite nook in the silent library, Hermione pondered the course of her life. Now in her fifth year, she wondered if there were not more to magic than she had thus far experienced. It was not that she was ungrateful for her education, just that the voice in the back of her head whispered incessantly. She remembered sitting in her parent’s living room when Minerva McGonagall came to explain that Hermione was a witch and had the opportunity to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In those precious moments she had hoped that she would finally find the place where she fit and would be finally understood.

The muggle schools she attended as a small child were isolating experiences. Though no one had ever been so cruel as to directly point out that she didn’t fit in with the rest of the children, Hermione had never doubted that she was simply different. So long as she could remember, in addition to occasionally causing unexplainable things to happen unintentionally from time to time, her dreams had been filled with the sounds of crashing waves, screams of terror and the sort of chill that sunk into the depths of your soul. Once she had asked a classmate if they too had such experiences while asleep. Instead of the comforting understanding the young girl had hoped for, she was instead pulled out of class by an old man she later learned was the school psychologist. He spent an hour asking innocuous questions about Hermione’s life. He’d been building to the next question her young mind realized. “Hermione, tell me, do you have many nightmares?” he asked in a falsely sweet tone. Without even a moments pause she replied, “ No, I’ve never dreamt much.” At the time the young girl couldn’t have said why she lied when the man asked her about her dream world. Eventually the emotionless but straightforward answers convinced the doctor that the young girl was entirely normal for her age.

As she walked back to her classroom, Hermione made a promise to herself that she would keep her dreams and every other part of herself a secret from those around her. She mused, now on the threshold of adulthood, that after that day she’d never really trusted another person. How different her life might have been had her classmate shown her compassion instead of fear. Perhaps she would be wearing Gryffindor red and gold instead of the blue and bronze of Ravenclaw. Would she have made friends with the second youngest Weasley and his famous friend Harry Potter? Would she have gone through the last four years having dangerous adventures at their sides?

She knew such lines of questioning led no where productive. She was never meant to be the hero of any story. She’d instead spent the years of her Hogwarts education learning anything and everything that she could. In her first year, she briefly had the fantasy that she could be the brightest witch in the school. It was not a question of her capabilities, but after her overly high achievement of her first term, the harassment from the Slytherins over her blood status and the ire of the Gryffindors as she out performed their star student, it was simply too much. Like in her muggle school, she learned that year that she needed to keep her head down to protect herself and her secrets. And so she began to intentionally miss just enough questions to keep herself from claiming the top academic spot. She spent every free moment she could spare in the library studying and learning beyond her years. Most recently she had mastered wordless and wandless magic. She chose the topic at random to be her obsession for the moment, simply for the challenge of it. At first it had been overwhelmingly frustrating, but her breakthrough had come in the chilling month of October. The nightmares that had been a nightly experience her entire life, abruptly came to an end and Hermione found herself feeling more powerful than ever before.

In her obsession over learning everything she could about her new skill, she entirely missed the events of the last week. On her way back to her room, she glanced at the Daily Prophet from earlier in the week. How could she have missed that a mass breakout had taken place? But it was the picture on the front of the paper that momentarily captured her attention. It was cold and depressing. Giving it little further thought, she trekked up to her room. She changed out of her school clothes and into her pajamas magically without her wand.

Hermione had been looking forward to the trip to Hogsmeade all week. Naturally, it wasn’t for the same reasons as all of the other students around her. She wasn’t longing to go and drink butterbeer or go to the joke shops with her mates. No. Hermione was intent on going to Scrivenshaft's Quill and Bookshop in search of books not found in the Hogwarts library. Not to mention she was in desperate need of parchment and new quills.

In the chill of the October air and the new morning light, Hermione pulled on a tight pair of jeans, a dark blue sweater, and her warm black coat. Before leaving her room, she tucked her wand into the interior pocket of her coat and grabbed her favorite bag with an extension charm on it. Once in the Great Hall, she sat at the very end of the Ravenclaw table, apart from the other students, reading through the only book she could find on ancient magic in the unrestricted section of the library. She could already feel herself being drawn into the topic, and she knew that this would be the subject of her focus in her book shopping.

Finally, Hermione and the other students were allowed to begin the walk into Hogsmeade. As soon as they were just outside the castle, Hermione slipped her hand into her bag, pulling out her iPod and headphones. Over the years, she had put up with enough abuse over being muggle born that she learned to embrace certain parts of muggle technology, even while at school. If she was to be tortured by her peers, at least she would allow herself the comfort of the world she grew up in.

In the isolation created by her headphones, she made her way quickly through the crowd of students towards the bookstore. She slipped in the door quietly, drawing no attention of the staff or other patrons. She made her way to the back of the store into the section containing books on ancient magic. Absorbed in the steady flow of music and the joy of exploring the titles in front of her, she didn’t notice the presences of the witch who had invaded the area in the back of the store. On the very top shelf, Hermione found a title that she simply couldn’t resist. The book was at least a meter out of reach for the young witch. Without giving a thought to the idea that she might not be alone, she silently and wandlessly summoned the book to her waiting hands. She flipped quickly through the pages, pleased with herself. She spun quickly to walk back to the front of the store where her favorite variety of parchment and quills were kept.

Much to her surprise, the abrupt motion nearly caused her to run headfirst into the other witch. In a moment of panic, Hermione quickly magicked her headphones away and into her purse while briefly taking in the appearance of the other witch. The older woman in front of her wore a deep green gown and expensive looking robes. The darkness of the attire highlighted the bright golden hair and sparkling blue eyes. As a muggle born witch, Hermione had certainly never been introduced to anyone of her stature, but there was no mistaking who stood in front of her. Narcissa Malfoy was clearly assessing the young witch. If she was surprised at the identity of the girl, the only indication would have been the slight raising of her eyebrow at the girl as Hermione raced past her.

Narcissa couldn’t quite place her finger on what drew her to Hogsmeade that day. It was not her first choice for shopping, as London had greater selection. In part, she had hoped to catch a glimpse of her son Draco. There had been so much darkness and pressure in their lives recently, that she just wanted to see the child that made everyday of her life worth the struggle. She knew the return of the Dark Lord weighed heavily on her son, as expectations of his involvement in the coming war were high. Yet, Narcissa longed to see that in these small moments that Draco might be able to find some normalcy and a bit of friendship among his peers. She watched him walk into the joke shop with Crabbe and Goyle, his closest friends. He had largely closed himself off from the rest of the world, so it relieved her heart to see him walking happily with his childhood friends. From the shadows she slipped into the bookstore, knowing the young men would spend at least an hour deciding which prank toys to purchase.

She had never had cause to venture to the back of the bookstore, but with the escape of her oldest sister from Azkaban earlier in the week, she knew that she needed to expand her knowledge of the ancient magics. It seemed that after all of the tragedy her family suffered in the first magical war, perhaps the prophecy would still come true. Perhaps her family would, in the end, find their happiness and freedom from the darkness of the past two decades. To this end, the prophecy would be key and Narcissa knew that she must be prepared for the days to come.

As she stepped into the back section of the store, she realized the young witch already occupying the space was entirely unaware of her presence. She was even more shocked as she watched the girl summon a book off the top shelf to herself without so much as a word or movement. In stunned silence she watched as the girl spun and made eye contact, catching herself only a moment before the two would have collided. She noted the panic on the young woman’s face as she passed. The girl was clearly a prodigy and yet, Narcissa had never seen nor heard her name spoken.

She hadn’t planned on crashing Draco’s day of freedom in Hogsmeade, but she needed to know the name of the talented witch if not everything about her history. Without so much as touching a single book, Narcissa left the store behind and entered the joke store to find her son and his friends, hoping bribery of food and sweets would be enough to make up for the presence of a parent. The words of the prophecy that would save the eldest Black sister and change the course of the coming war echoed in Narcissa’s head.

One shall be born to end the suffering of the House of Black. She will come secreted into the world, fated to share in the hardships of the eldest. She will be the brightest of her age, destined to form the most powerful partnership ever known. Her loyalty and love will determine the course of the world… Neither the light nor dark will know her name … her blood, though pure, confused for mud.

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Seated in the warmth of a glowing fire in the Three Broomsticks, Narcissa mused that this had been easier than she had anticipated to convince her son and his friends to join her. Somehow, Draco hadn’t seemed overly surprised at her presence in the town so far from the shopping comforts of Diagon Alley. When she invited the boys to lunch he gave her a knowing smirk. It was a pity, she thought, that he carried the Malfoy name instead of Black. The look alone tied him as much to his mother’s family as his platinum locks did to his father’s. She couldn’t remember the last time that she felt such contentment. The happy chatter of the young Slytherins flowed around her and she found herself happier than in any moment in recent memory. The smile gracing her son’s face was something rarely seen since the events at the Tri-Wizard Tournament the term before. The looming war weighed heavily on the younger generation. It was different for them, she realized. The First Wizarding War belonged to her generation. They’d been young, enthusiastic and ultimately unprepared. They charged head first into a war without planning or thought to what was at stake and what they might lose. Had she, her family and friends been wiser and better trained, perhaps the Dark Lord would not have spent so long in a state of limbo, nor would have her older sibling spent more than a decade locked away in a prison out of Narcissa’s reach. But this generation had it thrust upon them. They had little choice in the coming battles, as fighting was the only option. She could only hope that her son would not pay for their mistakes.

Bellatrix’s return home this week had felt like the only victory in the long years after the war. Though now free, healing her would take time. Narcissa knew no one more resilient than the eldest Black sister, but her appearance at Malfoy Manor just after her escape had shaken Narcissa’s faith. She had never seen her sister look so small or so haunted. Bella’s mental stability was a concern of the Black family as long as Narcissa could remember due to the mood swings and manic behavior she became so infamous for. Those first few days Narcissa worked around the clock to stabilize the physical health resulted of the 15 year stint in Azkaban. A few weeks of consistent food and rest would restore, in full, the fiery beauty that surrounded her sister. After only a handful of days, the fight was returning and moments of the old Bellatrix could be seen shining through the exhaustion that isolation had wrought. Perhaps it was no mystery after all that Narcissa had the urge to be in the lively company of school children. Bringing someone back to life, even metaphorically, was draining under the best circumstances.

The commotion of Crabb and Goyle rising from their seats drew Narcissa out of her introspection. They politely thanked her for lunch and explained that they were off to make their social rounds to the classmates that were sitting at tables on the other side of the room. As his friends made their way to the other waiting friends, Draco moved to sit next to his mother.

“Mother, while I am thrilled to have lunch with you today, I can’t help but wonder what you are doing in Hogsmeade with all of the recent excitement,” Draco said with the same trademark Black smirk.

Narcissa took a deep breath and looked over her only son. When had he become so very mature? And when in Merlin’s name had he learned to read her with such ease?

“I only came for a bit of shopping and perhaps to see my precious heir,” Narcissa cooed falsely sweet, knowing full well that she had been caught with ulterior motives.

“Mother…”

“Very well, Draco. I had, in fact, hoped to see you. Though I truly did not intend to interrupt your time with your friends. You must accept my apologies for doing so.” Not wanting to interrupt as his mother had finally started speaking in earnest, Draco simply nodded his agreement.

“I was in Scrivenshaft's looking for a book. With the events…. of late,” she paused, not wanting to discuss it further in public, but hoping Draco would understand. “Its become necessary that I broaden my knowledge of certain ancient arts.”

Draco’s posture stiffened. He had read the Prophet like everyone else, and he had suspected that his aunt had been among those who escaped. Though he had no memories of her, from the stories alone it was clear that she was among the most powerful witches alive. He leaned slightly towards his mother and spoke just barely above a whisper. “The Black Prophecy?”

“Yes, my son. I can no longer sit at home hoping and praying that your aunt will recover on her own. If there are other means of helping her, you know I cannot stand idly by.”

“I had never assumed that you would, I just thought I would be older that I would be able to assist you. You shouldn’t have to bear the preparations alone.”

Narcissa reached out to her son’s face affectionately, brushing her hand under his chin. “I know my dear boy, but it is quite alright. I made more progress than I had anticipated today, but I’ve found something I cannot solve alone. Would you be willing to help me just for today?”

“Of course, I can’t believe you would even think that you have to ask.”

“In the store earlier, I was not alone in the ancient section. And as you know, it is not exactly from the Daily Prophet’s Best-Selling section. There was a girl. She appeared to be about your age. She was pretty and dressed well but without any discerning characteristics. She wandlessly and wordlessly summoned a book, all the while with some sort of muggle technology plugged into her ears.” Narcissa knew immediately that something she said struck a cord with her son as his face lit up with recognition.

“A powerful witch, alone, and with muggle technology. There is only one person at Hogwarts that could possibly be, though beyond a name I fear I cannot help you. To my knowledge no one has ever gotten close to her. But for what it is worth, her name is Hermione Granger. She is a Ravenclaw. “


Finally free. Bellatrix Lestrange…no, Bellatrix Black was finally free. The long years in prison took 15 years of her youth and her husband. She thought that she was rather lucky. As a witch the age meant little. She was pureblooded and would live many more years. And as for the husband, she’d never had much use for him. He had appeased her parents desire to marry her off and he supported her interest in the dark arts and following the Dark Lord. He was too busy with his many mistresses to be concerned with his wife, for which she was always grateful. She was sorry that he had not survived prison, but it hadn’t damaged her emotionally. The monotonous crashing of waves, the damp cold that never left and the constant threat of dementors were the scars left behind by Azkaban. Though she was warm, safe and well cared for in her sister’s manor, the fear of those things haunted her sleeping and waking hours.

She was fortunate that her sister was trained as a healer before becoming the wife of Lucius Malfoy. Over the past 6 days Narcissa healed her body beyond what she had even hoped. Her skin was clean and its natural pale glow was returning. The lovely soaps and warm water had calmed her long black curly locks, which currently fell in her eyes. The potions had rebuilt her inside and out, leaving her with a dazzling smile and energy that she knew would astound anyone who knew of her history. She was happy to look like herself again and knew that the radical change in her appearance would serve to frighten the Order in the first battle she fought in. They would naturally expect her to be weak and changed, but that’s because they knew nothing of the house of Black. Blacks were many things, but weak was not among them.

Her mind raced through spells and scenarios, fighting battles in her mind. She was filled with more hope and anticipation than she had felt in years. There were times over the last few years she had doubted everything; her ability, her Lord, the prophecy. But circumstances changed drastically and she could nearly feel the magic crackling around her. Anticipation grew quickly into boredom and then into jealously. Narcissa had gone to Hogsmeade without her. Not that she couldn’t understand the need to not take a recently escaped convict out in public, Bellatrix was not as insane as the public had been told. She was cruel, short tempered and loved conflict, but she was not mad. After an hour or more of seething, she declared to herself that Bellatrix Black was not the sort of witch to hide away in boredom and that a short trip near to where Narcissa had gone would do no harm. With determination, she pulled on her cloak and apparated with a loud crack.

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Running into Narcissa Malfoy, quite literally, had not been factored into Hermione’s plans for the day. Worse than that, Madam Malfoy caught her not only using advanced magic, but also a muggle device. Hermione groaned inwardly. She was rarely careless, but this could become a serious problem. No one else was aware of precisely how advanced her abilities had become. She hid so effectively from the professors, even those from Ravenclaw, that they would no doubt never believe what she was capable of. This was only compounded by the fact that as a muggle born, standing out in any way only led to scrutiny and abuse. Neither of which Hermione was particularly interested in drawing again into her life.

As she ran her hands down the quill she had nearly decided on in the front of the store, Hermione was oblivious to the woman who was occupying her thoughts rush out behind her. Collecting the book that had cost her the risk of exposure, the new quill and a stack of parchment, Hermione paid the shopkeeper and made her way back outside. The town around her was buzzing with other students talking loudly and playfully among themselves. In light of her recent run in, she couldn’t fathom being surrounded by so many people. How quickly would everyone know her secret? Who would Madam Malfoy tell first? How much of her freedom would Hermione lose from that one inconceivably careless moment? Intent on enjoying the last bit of peace that she would be afforded for sometime, she turned back toward the castle. She was so wrapped up in her own thoughts that she didn’t see the three approaching Gryffindors until they were nearly on top of her. As narrow as the path was, it wouldn’t have made any difference. Avoiding the so-called “Golden Trio” was now impossible. Hermione lowered her eyes, hoping that it would be enough to keep from drawing any attention to herself. She was certain of her success as she had nearly passed them and their conversation flowed uninterrupted. But a hand reached out, grabbing her shoulder clumsily. Hermione suppressed a groan of annoyance and turned to find the Weasley boy staring into her eyes. The inconvenience of being delayed was bad enough, but in her current flustered state she couldn’t even remember which of the brothers he was.

After a moment of uncomfortable silence the boy finally spoke, “You’re Hermione Granger, right?” Hermione didn’t trust herself to bite back all of the snarky remarks that came to mind at the question and chose to simply nod instead.

“I’ve seen you around the castle. Always reading. I was wondering if today you might like to do something other than read in my company.”

Hermione was convinced that today must be some sort of cosmic joke. She’d gone months without drawing even the slightest bit of unwanted attention, but today… well today was just a disaster. She struggled to control the reaction that threatened to overcome her face.

“Mister Weasley that is a generous offer, but I would hate to break my previous engagement with my favorite new author.”

“Perhaps another time then, Hermione?”

He obviously wasn’t going to make this easier on her. “I am afraid we shouldn’t,” Hermione said attempting to sound calm and sweet. “You simply aren’t my type, so to speak.”

His face darkened at the realization that he was truly being turned down. He took a step forward into her physical space and said in a low menacing voice, “At least do me the courtesy of informing me what your type is.”

In spite of her discomfort, Hermione didn’t back down. Instead she placed her hand gently on his shoulder. When he didn’t react, she moved it to his cheek as she leaned up to whisper in his ear, “It's impossible to describe as I haven’t experienced it yet, but I will remember to owl you since you are so concerned with my personal life.” Her tone dropped into deeply sarcastic by the end of her statement. She removed her hand and turned back toward the path ahead of her. She could feel the eyes of the boy and his friends burning into the back of her head. Hopefully what she had said would be enough to keep them from following her and if she were really lucky, perhaps it would keep them from speaking to her again.

As nothing was going to plan today, Hermione decided to change the plan. Instead of going directly back to Hogwarts, she veered off the path toward the Shrieking Shack. She’d never been inside, but just a little in front of the house there was a small outcrop of rocks that would obscure her presence from the town, the castle and the walking path. So long as she was back before dark, no one else would have a reason for coming to look for her. Wrapped warmly in her cloak, she settled herself into the grass with the rocks at her back. The feeling of the sun warming her face was almost enough to make her forget the events of the day. Instead of opening the book in her hands and getting lost in the pages, Hermione relaxed her head against the rock behind her, closing her eyes to absorb a moment of stolen peace.


 

Bellatrix appeared with a crack standing in the middle of the dirty mostly destroyed house. She was pleased that she’d been powerful enough to apparate without injuring herself after all these years. She would still have to work back up to being able to travel like a plume of black smoke like the other Death Eaters, but this was a good first step. Going to the Shrieking Shack was not nearly the excitement of going to the actual town of Hogsmeade, but she had been told by both her Lord and her sister to stay out of the sight of the public. She conceded that they were likely right after all, she wanted to make a grand re-entrance to the spot light. And hunting down her sister to get a decent butterbeer in a small town just didn’t have the flash that the eldest Black sister was famous for.

She walked carefully over rotting floorboards to the rear of the house to gaze out the windows that over looked the rolling hills of Scotland. It had been so long since she had seen beauty, she could hardly tear her eyes away. Sometime later she was broken out of her reverie by the distinct feeling that she was no longer alone. She held her breath listening for even the smallest noise moving through the old house. She stalked silently through the house, wand drawn, ready to protect herself or perhaps obliviate whoever was foolish enough to interrupt her mini-holiday. As she reached the broken windows in the front of the house, she cautiously peered out. She swept her gaze to the front door. No one. But still, she couldn’t shake the feeling. Looking back towards the castle her eyes settled on a lounging figure not far away. The girl was stretched out in the sunlight like a cat absorbing its warmth, blissfully unaware of the presence of a Death Eater. Bellatrix couldn’t quite see the girl’s features through the damaged window, but even from a distance it was clear that the girl was quite the beauty. Before she could complete her train of thought the girl began to stir and sit up. The girl glanced around her, gaining her bearings, when her eyes snapped up to the window Bellatrix stood in. Bellatrix knew she should take a step back, but she was rooted in place. Her magic was swirling through her veins and crackled at her fingertips. That was new. She was an extremely powerful witch, at least when she was healthy, but she was never confident without her wand. She felt intoxicated from a simple look from the girl. Feeling vulnerable and as though she had risked enough for a day, she turned on the spot and apparated back to her sister’s home.


 

The warmth of the sun and the cool October breeze calmed Hermione’s nerves more than she had dared to hope. She stirred from her afternoon nap feeling sated. She looked around wondering what had pulled her out of her dreamless sleep. The sky remained clear and beautiful, based on the lack of sounds there didn’t appear to even be anyone on the path back to Hogwarts. After a few moments she glanced up to the dilapidated old house, and caught a glimpse of a black shadow. Her brain told her that no one lived there and it was entirely unlikely that the shadow could be another person. And yet her eyes strained to make out flowing black skirts shifting away from the window. And were she a more foolish girl, she might have sworn she heard a faint crack, though she wouldn’t even dare admit so to herself. A sharp breeze blew apart her cloak and Hermione felt more alone than she could ever remember. Grimacing, she gathered her things and stood to retreat inside the comfortable walls of the castle.


 

Narcissa had a lovely afternoon in the company of her son and his friends. She had even gleaned a piece of information that might make all the difference. She knew the girl’s name. Now to unravel the rest of the mystery. They would first have to establish her blood status through more creative means. Birth certificates after all, could be altered. Anxious to return home, she stepped into the fireplace with a handful of floo powder. Moments later she stepped out of the fireplace in the library of the Manor to find a pacing Bellatrix. Narcissa paused as she stepped out. It was going to be a very long night if her sister was in such a state.

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Dusting herself off and removing her outer cloak, Narcissa stared at the still pacing form of her sister. To an outsider, the intensity of Bellatrix’s movements would be intimidating at the very least and most likely to be seen as a sign of madness. But standing in her library watching her sister’s long black dress flow around her as she walked and her mane of black hair sweep out as she turned was like coming home. True, Narcissa would have to spend the evening discovering what had put her sister in such a state, but she was relieved at the recovery evident in the behavior. She hadn’t fully processed yet the amount of fear that filled her seeing a defeated Bellatrix. No matter how bad things had ever gotten in the past, her older sister was always her defender and protected Narcissa from even the knowledge that danger was imminent.

“Bella, I rather like my floor the way it is. If you wouldn’t mind abandoning your campaign to wear through the floorboards temporarily, I wondered if you would like to join me for some wine by the fire.”

Bellatrix took two long intimidating steps towards her sister, paused, and said in a falsely sweet tone “Yes, of course Cissy,” before proceeding quickly to the chair by the fire and throwing herself in it. Narcissa snapped her fingers and requested that the attending elf bring them wine as she settled into the chair opposite her sister. Wine in hand, Narcissa chose to tell all about her day instead of asking the question she most wanted answered. Bellatrix had never responded well to direct questioning and as a child Narcissa learned to talk around whatever topic she really wanted to address. Eventually Bellatrix would become tired of the dance and tell Narcissa whatever ever it was that she wanted to hear.

Narcissa proceeded to share all about her trip to Hogsmeade and about running into Draco. She left out her experience in the Quill shop as she was unsure of Bellatrix’s reaction. She was half way through recounting a story the boys had told her about the Slytherin vs Gryffindor quidditch match when Bellatrix caught her eye and raised her hand signaling for Narcissa to pause. She faked a pout at being interrupted as she had done since they were children, but internally she was filled with joy. It usually took at least an hour to get Bellatrix to talk. But things were different now. They were no longer children and she shouldn’t so easily forget how much the last 15 years had changed them both.

Bellatrix steeled her nerves with a deep breath and one more sip of wine. Sharing anything, particularly something of a personal nature was akin to torture to the dark witch, but time and time again Narcissa had proven herself to be a trustworthy confidant.

“I also traveled today,” she began slowly, gauging the reaction on her sister’s face. Good she thought at least I still have the ability to shock my baby sister. “Don’t worry, Cissy. Its not as though I went strolling through Diagon Alley, announcing my presence. I was actually rather close to where you were. I went to the Shrieking Shack as I found myself rather missing the… ruggedness of Azkaban.” She smirked darkly as Narcissa rolled her eyes at her sister’s playfulness.

“I wanted to see the countryside and maybe just a touch of the castle. I wasn’t going to disturb the wards, just to look and remember that I am free. But, Cissy, I wasn’t alone. There was a girl. I could literally feel her from the back of the house, but gods when I looked at her my magic jumped through my body. Not my wand.” Bella took a deep breath as she’d rushed through the last bit without a pause. She turned to look her sister in the eye, brushing an unruly curl out of her face. Shocked at the straightforward mode of communication of her often mysterious older sister, Narcissa openly gawked at the revelation. It was just too much to be a coincidence.

Misreading her sister’s reaction, Bellatrix stood quickly, aiming to move quickly to an exit where she would be allowed to experience feelings of embarrassment and vulnerability in private. At the last moment, Narcissa pulled herself from her thoughts to place a soothing hand on her sister’s wrist as she attempted to pass.

“Wait, Bella. I believe you. I…. you’re…. Bella. It’s time. Things are changing. Please sit. I need to tell you the things I learned today, I think we’ve started to unlock the clues surrounding your prophecy.” Bellatrix visibly relaxed at her words and slowly made her way back to the chair opposite Narcissa.


 

After 2 hours of intense discussion, the Black sisters had come to the conclusion that they had at least one very good lead and that it was time for them to begin taking action. Bellatrix would need to go to her Lord and inform him of the developments. He’d long been supportive of her in ways the light would never recognize. He welcomed her into his ranks as a young female and eventually promoted her to his most trusted lieutenant in the face of considerable opposition from the male Death Eaters. As soon as he had regained his corporeal form, he plotted the mass escape from Azkaban. In the days leading up to Bellatrix’s freedom, Lucius had shared the existence and contents of the prophecy. The Dark Lord was aware of the one about the Potter boy, but was greatly pleased to hear that there was one to Bellatrix’s name. The involvement of ancient magic and prophecy only increased the likelihood he would be successful in over throwing the current régime. This development would guarantee that his reliance on the Black and Malfoy families would only increase, which thrilled Bellatrix.

She entered what served as his thone room with more confidence in her movement than he had hoped to see. Freeing his most dedicated servant was a logical first step in an attempt to build his forces again. Voldemort was a master of psychology as it came hand-in-hand with being a despot.1 He had anticipated that she might be downtrodden. After all it had only been one short week of freedom to counter act years of improper nutrition and less than ideal personal care. As she approached, she bowed lowly showing him the deference he had earned both as her lord and a father figure. His instincts had told him the moment Bellatrix was introduced that she was a special witch. It seemed as though his investment might be about to pay off.

Bellatrix dove into the new information she and Narcissa had gleaned ensuring him that there was a proper plan in place. They would inform Draco via owl that he needed to find a way to get close to the young Ravenclaw to get a blood sample. A preliminary test would be done by Severus at the school, while an additional sample would be sent to the Dark Lord for his personal testing. The plan over all was well conceived and there was little risk aside from a barely injured schoolgirl.

Being a Dark Lord had its draw backs, and making sure his people were happy was one of them. As a proper villain you have two choices, one be charismatic and make your minions loyal and happy or two, hire a lower class of minion. Skilled evil henchmen did not put up with irrational despots or regular abuse. Villainy was an expanding field of work and there were quite a few hopeful despots looking for good right hand men and women. He had a reputation for being cruel and unreasonable, and although he was cruel when it was deserved he was very reasonable and took care of his followers. He was a half-blood with no nose or lips and in charge of the elite pureblood society and some of the most evil wizards to ever live, damn skippy he had people skills.2 And if this little test or the girl herself would complete Bellatrix, it was worth more than that paltry risk.


 

As soon as Bellatrix departed to find the dark lord, Narcissa began composing letters to be delivered to Hogwarts. As it was after meal times and she didn’t want to wait an extra day, they would have to be delivered by elf. For Draco’s sake, she usually abided by the basic rules of the school, but in this case, she thought that he would understand the under lying urgency. She composed the first letter to her son outlining the need for a small amount of blood to be procured from Hermione in a most delicate manner so that no one suspected his actions. The plan was simple. Snape would pair him with Hermione the next day to make an Invigoration Draught. During the course of the lesson, Draco would attempt to thaw the icy exterior of the girl if at all possible without being intrusive. With a spell he was to weaken the glass stirring stick before handing it to her. As she used it, it would break but only enough to nick her. In line with his up bringing, Draco would offer the girl assistance in cleaning up. He would intentionally leave his handkerchief behind after the lesson for Snape to collect. The letter to Severus outlined the orders from the Dark Lord to perform a cursory test and to hand deliver the other sample to him the next night. Completing the instructions, Narcissa summons an elf to deliver the letters that night.


 

Hermione was having a remarkably odd week, after her experience in Hogsmeade the day before now Professor Snape instructed her to work together with Draco in Potions. With very little communication, the two quickly assembled the potion. The work went so smoothly that Hermione nearly found herself enjoying the quiet and unobtrusive company of her companion. This was certainly not a side of Draco she had ever seen before. He seemed far more human in those moments than his reputation had suggested. The final stages of brewing their first batch of Invigoration Draught required stirring 3 times counter clockwise. Apparently seeing the glint of near victory in Hermione’s eyes, Draco handed over the stirring rod. As soon as it touched the potion, the glass fractures driving a small piece into her skin and slicing open her right hand. Draco was quick to offer his assistance. Were she a more trusting person, she might have even found his actions gallant between his insistence on using his monogrammed handkerchief and his quiet murmuring of a simple healing spell when the cloth was not enough to slow the bleeding. They managed to keep any blood from dripping into the potion, preserving their hard work. Snape held up their potion as the example to which all other students should strive.

That night as Hermione was preparing for sleep, she thought that the brief moment of victory was sweet and that sharing it with someone as high profile as Draco had prevented an overabundance of attention being focused her way. He’d been uncharacteristically kind to her. She wasn’t sure what to make of it, but decided that for the night she would indulge in the feeling of success. As was common in her nightly routine, she climbed into bed and picked up her most recent book purchase. Opening the ancient magic book to where she’d left off the day before she began the chapter on soul bonds, their properties, and signs. She paused over the section describing the intense visceral reaction one or both parties can experience before the bond had been completed. As she drifted off to sleep that night she wondered what it would be like to feel so connected to another person.


 

The dreamless sleep of the last week evaded Hermione. Its different than the dreams she grew up with. There are no waves crashing nor does she feel as though she is freezing from the inside out. She knows that on a fundamental level she is safe, but feels like she might drown anxiety, impatience or anticipation. The steady click of heels on a stone floor marks the time as the tension flows through Hermione’s subconscious. Just as the girl stirs to pull herself from the dream she hears a gentle voice say softly “Don’t worry, my darling. I will find you.”


 

Dark Effects- Liidg, Chapter 2. Available from http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7312360/2/Dark-Effects. Used with permission

Ibid. This is perhaps my favorite paragraph of fanfiction ever. I am thrilled I was allowed to use it.

Chapter Text

If Narcissa thought her sister’s pacing the night before was concerning, the state Bellatrix was in the night of the initial blood test was positively manic. She knew that there was more at stake for her sister than she could comprehend. Narcissa had been fortunate. Life had been fairly kind to her. She fell for her husband while still in school. He had been (and still was) the perfect match for her. He was cocky, arrogant and a pureblood. Those descriptors might have driven others away, but Lucius entertained her to no end. He gave her a son and as much freedom as a woman of her stature could possibly have. He never restricted her activities, not even who frequented her bed from time to time. Their arrangement wasn’t unusual among their peers, but it was the most amicable marriage of any she knew.

In every way Narcissa had been lucky, Bellatrix’s life had largely been disastrous. As the eldest the pressure of the family name weighed heavily on her shoulders in spite of her gender. She was forced to marry Rudolphus, who was as violent as he was unintelligent. He constricted her autonomy and even attempted to inhibit the growth of her considerable intelligence. As daily life grew more frustrating, so did her proclivity for violence. Her willingness to fight, in the end would be her saving grace. She fought fiercely without fear of death, for most days death would have been a kindness under the Lestrange crest. Meeting her Lord began the second phase of her life. His demands of her time and fidelity pulled her beyond her husband’s reach. Few knew the true story, but Bellatrix’s complete loyalty was to the man who saved her from the abuse and torture her parents had sold her into.

The anxiety rolling off Bellatrix in waves was the intersection of anxiety over having something precious of her own and the fear of losing something amazing before it had fully come into being. Her entire existence rested on if this barely legal schoolgirl was her sonuachar. Narcissa still had plenty of research to do, but on her first pass the prophecy seemed to reference the ancient Druid concept of sonuachar or soulmates. While the pureblooded families had been involved in many of the ancient magics, the Druid bloodlines of the Brigantes tribe flowed in the Blacks. This powerful ancient tribe was the original source of the Black power and wealth. From her youth she could remember a book in the Black family library containing the details and signs of the Brigantes sonuachar and had quickly sent an elf for it. The book had been delivered to her the same afternoon Draco was to be procuring blood from his unsuspecting classmate. She had yet to mention anything to her sister, in case the girl was the simple mudblood everyone believed her to be. There was no sense in disappointing Bellatrix any further. Ironic, she thought, it seems as though our roles have reversed and I have become my sister’s keeper and protector.

Bellatrix froze mid-step, gingerly touching the Dark Mark on her left arm. “He is summoning. Come, Cissy,” she said, reaching for her sister’s arm. Narcissa looked cautiously at her sister sensing that she was about to be pulled into a side along apparition regardless of any complaint she might launch. She chose instead to close her eyes and trust the return of her sister’s full magical abilities. They arrived unscathed in the throne room Bellatrix visited the day before. Together they deferentially approached the Dark Lord and Severus who stood beside him.

Bellatrix asked quietly, “News, my Lord?” In days gone by she would have never been so forward or lowered herself to seem eager. Today Voldemort couldn’t help but be indulgent of the witch in ways he was for few others. She was invaluable to his cause at her strongest and this might be the path to surpassing her abilities even at the height of her power. He smiled slowly before speaking,

“Yes, Bella. I have news, but perhaps it would be best coming from our dear Potion’s master.” Snape looked towards his Lord confirming permission had been granted.

“Miss Granger is not… Miss Granger. According to both of the blood tests, her family line is MacCarthy and it is pure.” Severus paused, allowing the sisters to absorb the information. Narcissa spoke first,

“And there is no mistaking?”

“No, I performed one of the tests myself,” Voldemort said, rising from his chair. “Walk with me Bella.” Narcissa stepped closer to Snape to read the information from the piece of parchment in his hand, as servant and master walked together the way they had many times before towards the windows that overlooked the gardens of the house.

“How could this have happened, my Lord? How could we have not known of her?”

“As you may have guessed from the name, the ancient Irish families have not been as in contact with the cause since the first incident with the Potter brat. According to the last records we have both her parents were actively engaged in the cause in Dublin, but were tragically killed in the riots that followed my disappearance. According to my sources in the Ministry, there are many things about her that the light does not yet know, many things that she doesn’t know about herself.” Bellatrix paused to look out over the reflecting pools in the garden, feeling overwhelmed and lost. Voldemort began again,

“We can use that to our advantage. The more we know and understand about her, the more we support her, the less likely she is to even consider the Order of the Phoenix a viable option. From Severus’ accounts of her from Hogwarts, none of the students in the growing rebellion have ever spared her any kindness. She’s been isolated and learning far beyond her years. There is much to discuss, but not tonight. Read this book,” he said, reaching into his robes to retrieve it.

“Learn everything you can about her, every detail will be important to winning her as your own.”

Knowing the conversation was over, Bellatrix reached for the book and cradled it to her chest while returning to her sister’s side. The conversation with the professor had just ended. Narcissa and Bellatrix thanked him warmly for his assistance and knowledge of the girl.


 

October turned to November and the atmosphere at Hogwarts was turning colder like the weather. Dolores Umbridge’s reign was becoming more apparent. The minister, who was clearly in the pocket of the Dark Lord, imbued her daily with more power and the pureblooded board of governors of the school did nothing to curb her authority. The only detractors were members of the Order and their supporters. Even with Dumbledore as headmaster, they had to exercise caution. Death Eaters were on the prowl once more and people were disappearing. The passing of Educational Decrees became commonplace, but concerned Hermione very little. Most dealt with issues outside of her daily routine, she followed rules as a means of camouflage. Her willingness to comply with the ministry caused her to have more in common with Draco and his housemates than she had anticipated. They remained paired in potions class. She was pleasantly surprised to learn that Draco was extremely talented in this area, even more so than she was. She was improving leaps and bounds just by sharing a station with him. If he ever noticed, he was too kind to mention her weakness at the subject. It was subtle but she found herself disliking the idea of friendship with him less with each passing day.

Draco had been quietly informed by his mother of Hermione’s background and given the task of gaining as much of her trust as possible. It was far easier said than done. He never pressed farther than she was willing to allow him, he was adept at reading body language, a skill he learned from his mother throughout his childhood. On the date of the release of the 31st Educational Decree, he wouldn’t have referred to himself as Hermione’s friend, but it he was as close as she had.

The 31st Educational Decree was a carefully crafted piece of legislation Umbridge created and enacted at the personal request of the Minister. It dictated that all of the students at magical schools submit themselves for blood testing. The Ministry claimed it was for magical sociology and protection of the vulnerable in society. The announcement threw the Gryffindors into an indignant rage drawing the ire and attention of Umbridge and her enforcers. Hermione had no misconceptions about her heritage or her place in the magical world. It was unfortunate for it to be brought to the forefront again, but then again there were few days she wasn’t reminded that she was below many of her classmates.

Hermione reported to the hospital wing with the rest of her house and waited patiently for Madam Pomfrey to draw a small amount of her blood in the presence of the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister. She was cheerfully informed that the results would be waiting for her that evening when she returned to her dormitory. She paid it little thought as she made her way back to the library to continue studying for her upcoming Transfiguration test. When Madam Pince ejected her from the library that night, she trudged up to her room having forgotten all about the eventful afternoon. As promised, a formal envelope sat pristinely on her pillow. Hermione took it in her hands, hesitating before she opened it. She wasn’t sure if she had any desire to see the word muggle born or mudblood in print with her name. She knew it was true, but print made it so formal. Putting off her discomfort, she busied herself preparing for bed and laying out clothes for the next day. She was grateful it was a Saturday and she would be able to go to Hogsmeade. As always she was in constant need of a new book.

When the inevitable could be put off no longer, Hermione ran her fingers along the length of the seal gently separating the paper. She slowly withdrew the card enclosed and gasped. In formal ministry script it said,

“Through the confirmation of formal blood test by officials of the Ministry of Magic, Hermione MacCarthy (formerly Granger) has been confirmed to be of pure blood and entitled to all rights therein.”


 

The morning brought no clarity for Hermione. She found her sense of self to have been knocked off balance. If she didn’t even have her name, then really who was she. In the depths of her existential crisis, she still managed to get ready for the trip to Hogsmeade. Lost in her thoughts, she prepared herself much more quickly than usual and found herself in the Great Hall with time for breakfast. As she entered the room all conversations paused before they erupted in hurried whispers. Any hope she harbored that the change in her identity wouldn’t be made public for a while were immediately squashed. She froze in the light of the unexpected attention from what felt like the entire student body. A gentle hand on her arm pulled her out of her panic. She turned to meet bright blue eyes and blonde hair. She relaxed slightly at the appearance of the only friendly face she could think of. He held her by the elbow and guided her to sit with him at the Slytherin table. She knew that she was making a statement, but at that moment she needed the acceptance more than she was concerned with what political statement it might be making.

What she presumed were Draco’s closest friends went around the table introducing themselves and welcoming her. She was surrounded with more warmth in those few moments then she had known in a long time and chose to indulge in its presence. As breakfast ended, Draco insisted that she walk with him and his friends into the town. It was clear that he intended to act as watchdog. The children of the Order were clearly agitated and the purebloods were already protecting her as their own. She vaguely wondered if they would stop once she was no longer the new shiny toy. As they neared the town, Draco leaned into her and said quietly,

“Come have lunch with me. There is someone I would like you to meet.” Hermione searched his face for any trace of deceit or desire to embarrass her. Finding none, she agreed to meet him at the tavern at noon. They parted ways on the main street and Hermione returned once more to the familiar safety of the stacks of books.


 

As the clock in the town struck 12 times, Hermione crossed the threshold into the small tavern. She’d only been in once before. She easily spotted her blonde haired companion tucked away in a corner. As she rounded to the table she saw another equally blonde head sitting beside him. She schooled her face to keep her reactions at bay. Draco and Narcissa stood at her approach. Narcissa reached out her hand to greet the girl.

“Miss MacCarthy, it’s nice to meet you. I’ve heard so much about you these past few weeks from Draco.”

“Madam Malfoy, it’s my pleasure. And please, call me Hermione.”

“Yes, of course Hermione. My apologies, this must be quite an adjustment for you,” Narcissa drawled, releasing the girls hand.

The conversation at first was strained and awkward, but as Draco regaled his mother with stories of failed potions created by their classmates and other school mishaps, Hermione found herself relaxing. The playful banter of the mother and son in what she interpreted as a pureblood dialect was one of the most interesting things to have ever touched her ears. After their lunches were delivered and consumed, Draco briefly excused himself to allow Narcissa time to chat girl to girl.

“Miss…. Hermione, I know it must be shocking to have so many people now behaving as though they know something about you just because of your last name. There is far more to pureblood society than meets the eye. I hope you don’t find it overly presumptuous, but I stopped on my way to lunch to get you a book. I think you will find it most informative about the world you are being given access to. And know that Draco, Lucius and I would be honored to help guide you in any way you might need.”

At first Hermione was taken back by the familiar nature by which Narcissa addressed her, but recognized in her mannerisms what she had seen many times before at the Slytherin table. She noted to herself to ask Draco later what part of the culture she was clearly missing. She took the book from Narcissa’s hands when it was offered. As the older witch completed her short speech, Hermione turned the book to read the spine. The new copy of Erin’s Blood Royal: The Gaelic Nobel Dynasty of Ireland by Peter Berresford Ellis was bound in dark green leather and embossed with delicate gold script.

“Is… is my family in this?” Hermione asked in a quiet voice.

“It is. It isn’t an exhaustive history. I imagine that can be found in your family’s library, but this is at least a place to start.”

“Thank you, Madam Malfoy. I will enjoy reading it."


 

Hermione spent the remainder of her weekend reading her newly acquired book, studying and generally avoiding everyone as much as possible. She learned that the MacCarthys weren’t just purebloods, but they were the heads of the Royal house of Desmond. They ruled for hundreds of years in Ireland starting as early as the 12th century. She struggled to balance her fascination with the history of the family with the realization that she was their descendant. She felt no different than she had 3 days prior, but those around her seemed intent on making her believe that she was.

Throughout Monday’s classes Hermione struggled to focus on her courses. The classes were generally a bit slower than she would have liked and she worked hard to keep herself engaged. But her inner turmoil overruled her usual calculated approach. As most of the students were filing out of the DADA classroom, the last class on her schedule, Professor Umbridge asked her to stay behind for a moment. After the last of the other students left the room. Umbridge told Hermione that they needed to have a conversation with the Headmaster over her recent status change. The student tensed visibly and Umbridge attempted to sooth the girl by touching her arm.

The affection from the Deputy Undersecretary managed to make Hermione less comfortable than she was before. But the physical touch was enough to make Hermione force her body to relax. The knowledge of her blood status didn’t make Hermione think that Umbridge was anything less than a cruel and slightly insane bureaucrat. She followed the pink clad witch closely, hoping to not need to engage further in conversation. Her anticipation of what needed to be discussed was wreaking havoc on her already frayed nerves.

Dumbledore greeted Hermione warmly at the door to his office, ushering the two witches inside and into the waiting armchairs.

“Miss Granger or should I say MacCarthy,” he began carefully, “I’ve summoned you to inform you of your legal rights and a few decisions that need to be made soon. As I sense you have already discovered you are the last living heir of one of the oldest and wealthiest magical families in the British Isles. You have considerable holdings, which I have the paperwork for, here. With just a few signatures they will be moved formally into your name from the trust that held them until an heir 17 or older was identified.”

“But Professor…”

“Your name was not the only thing we’d all been misinformed about. You turned 17 in August. I cannot explain where in the adoption process so many details about your life were changed, but know it grieves me to see any young person so distraught.” He paused briefly to smile gently at the girl.

“I am sorry to be so blunt but there is a fairly urgent matter I need for you to consider. By the end of the week I must submit this paperwork on your behalf. A part of this is what your legal name will be. You must decide whether to be a Granger or a MacCarthy. Your inheritance will not change, but this decision will guide how you are seen in wizarding society. Well,” he concluded, “I suspect I have given you a great deal to think about. I suggest you take your time and consider the full breadth of your possibilities.”

“Thank you professor. I will,” Hermione said as she was escorted out of the office, leaving the two warring professors to whatever skirmish they wished to fight that day.

Instead of returning to the Ravenclaw dormitories or the Great Hall, she found her way outside the castle. Her feet led her, of their own volition, to the path in front of the Shrieking Shack. She reasoned that her subconscious seemed to pull her back to this location when she is most upset, remembering the afternoon in October she napped there. The fading light of dusk highlighted a major difference from her last visit. The house was positively not entirely uninhabited. A faint light shimmered from the back of the house. She strolled to the back to perhaps find a better view of whomever was there, hidden from view by the shadows of the trees. After a few moments a female silhouette appeared. Though she couldn’t make out the features of the woman’s face, her abundantly curly hair and curves were notably appealing. Watching the woman, Hermione found herself growing warm and as she glanced down she found that her hands were faintly glowing.

Unsure of whether she was more afraid of what was happening to her or of being caught by the alluring shadow she made her way quickly and quietly back to the castle to weigh her options and attempt to decide the course of her life.

Chapter Text

Returning to the grounds of Hogwarts didn’t help clear Hermione’s mind. Her normal urge after experiencing a new type of magic would be to run off to the library and learn everything she could. But somehow her hands randomly glowing with magic seemed rather low on her priority list. Maybe this is why purebloods are so high and mighty she thought to herself, smiling at her own sarcastic tendencies. If their hands glow maybe they have the right to gloat a bit, but it does seem as though it would create some… awkward situations. Imagining the wealthiest students she knows trying to do normal tasks with glowing hands caused a giggle at her own silliness to bubble up. Her laughter died as she realized she was using the wrong pronoun. She was one of them now, well, always had been. Merlin, this was getting confusing fast.

She broke with her normal routine, opting just to return to her room instead of burying herself in books. After a quick bath, she got into bed hoping that a decent night of rest would help. As though self-identity during adolescence wasn’t complex enough, but having two polar opposites AND being required to formally choose between the two with only a few days to decide made it that much worse. Hermione loved the Grangers without any question. They had been extremely supportive and loving through discovering she was a witch. Over the past few years they’d become more distant, which saddened Hermione. It was hard to go home and not really be able to talk about all of the things she was learning. And in the last year, when her parents were forced to close their private practice and join a chain dentistry company, finances had become strained. The Grangers were unwilling to compromise about her education, even if they didn’t understand everything she was doing they knew it was the best available. And so as a family they had decided that Hermione would not return home during breaks. Hermione felt relieved and guilty about being relieved. She’d rather spend her free time in the library and in the place she was most comfortable. Not wanting to go home wasn’t exactly the same as claiming the Gangers were not her parents. And it would pain her to make that decision.

But the MacCarthy name was not without its benefits. Actually the benefits were astounding. Dumbledore had given her some of the legal documents earlier in his office. From what she had read, she was the only surviving heir. There would be no awkward family reunions in her future with relatives she didn’t know. She probably had cousins, but no one closer. And the money and property was overwhelming. She would never have to work a day if she didn’t want to and still have anything she could dream up, much less want. Most terrifyingly, her social options were nearly as unlimited as her funds. From the little she read in the book Madame Malfoy gifted her, the MacCarthy family was one of the oldest and royal pureblood families in Ireland. Even in Great Britain, the MacCarthy name would carry power. Many would fear and respect her automatically.

There would be no simple solution and only 3 days to decide.


 

Hermione’s thoughts kept her up much of the night, which made for a painful Tuesday. She usually enjoyed History of Magic. She didn’t mind that a ghost was teaching it. He was a bit monotone, but he did have an incredible depth of knowledge. But today she was having a remarkably hard time keeping her eyes open. Rubbing her eyes, she allowed herself a few moments with them closed and attempted to find the motivation to lift her head again. Before she managed to commit to the momentous task, class ended and she found herself floating along among her classmates to the potions classroom. She drug her body to her station where Draco was already settled and working.

“Hermione, you look knackered.”

“I know,” Hermione trailed off. She almost wanted to say more. Maybe Draco would understand. He’d been kind to her without cause before her identity was revealed. He couldn’t have much to gain from her. From what she observed over the years, he appeared to have everything he could ever want from family to friends to wealth. She hadn’t even considered trusting someone in so long, she wasn’t sure how it would feel. But it was so tempting. She was tired and her thoughts were going in circles. It seemed like she might never reach a conclusion on her own.

“Take a walk with me after class,” Draco whispered as Professor Snape walked to the front of the classroom. “You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to, but the fresh air might help with your sleeplessness.” Snape looked over at the two whispering, but said nothing only raised an eyebrow in warning. Hermione nodded to Draco, accepting his offer and not wanting to further tempt the understanding of the stern professor.


 

The sun felt wonderful on her skin. There weren’t many sunny days in November, but there were few words to express the beauty of the lake behind the castle. Draco walked quietly at her side. Good to his word, he hadn’t pressed for any information whatsoever. Able to finally breathe, Hermione weighed her options. If she were to even consider being a part of the pureblood world, it would be much easier with an ally or friend at her side. Taking a deep breath she decided to take a risk. Maybe she was ready to live more fully or at least to consider doing so with less fear.

“Draco, I don’t know what to do.”

“I figured that much from the dark circles under your eyes,” he teased good-naturedly. “But what changed? You seemed well enough on Saturday.”

“Nothing changed, only the timeline. I have to choose my last name by the end of the week.”

“And I take our dear headmaster chose to spring this on you.”

Hermione nodded as she started to tell Draco everything she’d been thinking over the last two days. He listened quietly, nodding sympathetically to her reasoning. Eventually she fell quiet, waiting anxiously to see if she would be rejected.

“It’s a complicated situation, to be sure, Hermione. But I think it would be unwise for you to deny your identity. You are a MacCarthy and in some ways people will regard you as such no matter what you decide. The MacCarthy name can offer you protection and my family will stand behind you. There is a war coming and the Order would likely have doubts about you even if you attempted to join. Joining with the other pureblooded families wouldn’t be without sacrifice, but you are about to be one of the wealthiest witches to have ever walked the earth. You would be surprised at how much you can get away with because of it. You can still be yourself.”

“You think I can find a middle ground?”

“I think you can do more than that. I think you can dictate how this is all going to go. Don’t ask permission, Hermione. You are the heir of one of the most powerful Irish families. You don’t have to play by the rules. You get to make them”

“Thank you, Draco. I don’t make friends easily, so I do appreciate your council.”

“I hope it won’t be the last time. After all, someday you will have to tell me how you managed to get the Golden Trio to leave you alone. Everyone knows Ron fancies you,” Draco drawls winking salaciously.

“You are going to have to earn that, Malfoy,” Hermione replied playfully as they turned back towards the castle.


 

The rest of the week passed quickly as Hermione weighed her options. The talk with Draco had made her feel more in control of her decision and he reminded her that with wealth and power came the privilege to overrule others. She noted to herself that she would have to contemplate her stance on the morality of using her influence in such a way, because it was altogether tempting to run through life as a spoiled child. She didn’t want to grow to be that kind of person.

She walked confidently towards the headmaster’s office, again following Umbridge and attempting to avoid conversation. She was attempting to emulate the behavior of her pureblooded classmates who always seemed to get whatever it was they wanted. She stood straighter and walked with clear purpose. While she was confident in the decision she had reached, she was still nervous about the turn her life was already taking. She was in uncharted waters and though not totally alone anymore, she wasn’t sure where she was headed.

“Ah, Hermione, welcome. Forgive the informality, but it seems inappropriate to call you by the incorrect name again.”

“Thank you, Headmaster. I have reached a decision. I wish to legally add MacCarthy to the end of my name, but I do not wish to remove the Granger. I will always be their daughter too. I presume you have the papers for me to sign.”

“I do, Miss MacCarthy. These are magically binding contracts. Both your estates and your fortune will be available immediately. We can help make arrangements for you to access your vaults for the upcoming winter break.”

“That would be ideal, Professor,” Hermione said, taking the quill and signing her new legal name to the documents in front of her.

“It was a wise decision, Miss MacCarthy. Not everyone will understand you keeping the Granger’s name, but you are a courageous young woman. I am certain you will be capable of silencing any objections.”

Hermione nodded and allowed herself to be led out of the office again. The odd pink teacher hugged her warmly, which made Hermione’s skin crawl. And she found herself on her way to dinner proud of her compromise. She would lay claim to her fortune and her biological family’s name, which would open a variety of possibilities for her as she entered the wizarding world. But she would keep the love, however distant, of the family that raised her as their own. She had a lot of questions about how she came to be in their care, but no one could have loved her more. And with her new fortune she could remove the financial burden of her schooling and living expenses from them. She would wait until summer to talk with them about it, though she would start paying her own way immediately. Knowing whom her family was and how she came to be adopted was important before she sat down to talk with the Grangers.


 

Waiting on Hermione’s pillow for her to return to her room for the evening was a letter with beautiful cursive script on the outside. As she sat to open the letter, she wondered who could have possibly placed it there as it was addressed by her new last name. Inside it simply said, “Tá tú mo ghrá. Ní bheidh ort a bheith ina n-aonar.”

Perplexed by a language she didn’t know, Hermione knew she would be up early in the morning to consult a book in the library. As unusual as the note’s appearance was, she couldn’t help but feel drawn to it. The beautiful script and the minimalistic signature seemed familiar though she knew she hadn’t seen it before. As she set the letter on the nightstand beside her bed she gently traced the calligraphy letter B, with which the author signed the note, wondering the identity of the author.

 

Chapter Text

The month after becoming a MacCarthy on paper was eventful. Hermione failed to consider the amount attention that would be focused her direction. An astounding number of people now longed to associate with her, droves that never noticed her when they thought she was muggle born. She continued to regard most of her fellow students with disdain. Under the tutelage of Draco and Narcissa she learned to turn her ability to disappear within a group into appearing aloof and unfeeling. Hermione didn’t want to change who she was as a person, but knew that she had to be able to create boundaries between herself and those she didn’t desire closeness with. Being the most popular girl in school was no more her desire than it had been at the beginning of the year.

After a few weeks, the school finally turned their attention away from her, but she struggled to adjust to some of the changes in her life. The Malfoy family was kind to the point of doting and provided her with a sense of belonging she hadn’t experienced since she found out that she was a witch. Emotionally, the attachment to the family weighed heavily on her heart. The unresolved situation with the Grangers was turning frustrating. Hermione was no closer to learning how she came to be in their care or why they wouldn’t have at least told her she was adopted. She was coping as well as she could, but the questions were beginning to gnaw at her. She considered herself fortunate to not be going home for Christmas. She was too emotionally close to the situation to be calm with the Grangers, and no matter how mad she was at them it didn’t negate the underlying love.

Notes like the one she found on her pillow the night she gave Dumbledore her decision became a regular treat. They were always signed with a simple cursive B. She had no idea who was behind them, but in private moments she would immerse herself in the romanticism of a secret admirer. And whoever B was had lovely taste in poetry and books. Hermione intellectually knew that she should be more concerned about the attention of an anonymous party, but such great thought was put into each delivery. And nothing was ever required in return. Hermione could do nothing to respond or make them stop even if she wanted to, so she chose to enjoy them. Some nights they served as company to preserve her sanity when it felt like her life was changing too quickly for her to keep up with.

At the close of the fall term, Hermione packed a few things and prepared herself to spend a few weeks staying in the town of Hogsmeade. As money was no object, it was a comfortable place to spend her first break, in what she had begun to think of as her new life. She planned on spending her down time researching her family, updating her clothing, and even contemplated visiting some of her recently acquired properties. More than anything she welcomed the opportunity to feel normal and not have the entire school watching her every move as though she was some sort of celebrity.

As a testament to how much her relationship with Draco had grown, she shared her plans with him. He reacted faintly at the idea of her being alone for the holiday, but said nothing. The next day she received an owl from Narcissa inviting her to spend the first day of break shopping and generally relaxing with her in Hogsmeade. Hermione nearly declined the offer out of a desire to bury herself in solitude, but feared isolating the only friends in the complicated social structure of pureblooded families. And so she agreed, but not without asking Draco to join them for lunch as a thank you for all of his help during the last few months.


 

The early morning light streaming in the window of her rented room was as soothing and homey as her dorm room in the Ravenclaw tower. Waking up with the sun had become her routine since arriving at Hogwarts. The morning hours were the most private from other students and watching the sunlight burn away the mist was one of the most profound sights she would ever experience. Hermione still managed to sleep in a few hours. She would have just enough time to eat and get ready before she was to meet Narcissa at Gladrags Wizardware.

Narcissa had insisted that they meet at the most high-end shop for clothing Hogsmeade could provide with a promise that they could always go to Diagon Alley if they found nothing of interest in the smaller town. Hermione hoped that they would be able to get everything she needed without traveling to London. At least she had already been through the shocked looks and stares of the inhabitants when the gossip from the school finally made its way out of the castle walls. She had little desire to be the subject of idle chatter during break, she got enough of that during the term.

She finished eating the simple breakfast of toast and juice she request from the attending elf, and began to sort out what to wear for the day. She always seemed to be underdressed in the presence of Madame Malfoy. The pureblooded matron always looked as though she’d walked out of the pages of a fashion magazine with her immaculate blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. Hermione convinced herself that her concern was not based out of attraction but out of the desire not to embarrass herself. She avoided thinking about how much she was drawn to Narcissa and Draco in part out of fear that she would lose the tenuous connections she managed to form, if she thought about it too carefully. Finally she decided on a pair of tight black jeans and warm green knit sweater. With a couple of quick spells, her hair fell into gentle curls. She tucked her wand into her sleeve and put on her robes to make her way across the small town square.


 

Narcissa was waiting outside the shop when Hermione walked up. She feared her invitation to spend the day together was too forward. Hermione was a sweet girl, but behaved like a frightened animal. She seemed to long for comfort and understanding, but was untrusting of anything freely given. Over the last few months Narcissa and Draco managed to scale a few of the walls the girl used to block herself off from the world that had undoubtedly been unkind to her. Hermione’s playful response that insisted Draco attend their “girl’s day lunch” reassured Narcissa that she hadn’t over stepped. She knew that she was likely rushing the girl, but the need to introduce Hermione to the possibilities of what her life could be were pressing. Thus far Bellatrix had been uncharacteristically patient. She’d spent hours writing and rewriting romantic drabbles and delivering them to the girl. But she made no other advances, which showed a level of dedication Narcissa rarely saw in her sister. In truth it was a focus Bellatrix usually reserved for the systematic destruction of her enemies. There was no doubt in Narciassa’s mind how seriously Bellatrix took the situation.

Madam Malfoy ushered Hermione in the shop and began leading her around the store picking out the most fashionable and well-made clothing for Hermione to try on. Uncertainty shown in Hermione’s eyes and Narcissa paused to place a steadying hand on the girl’s arm.

“Just try them on, dear. If you don’t like the way any of them look there are many other places we can go. But give yourself the opportunity to see yourself as you could be.”

Hermione seemed to relax a bit responding, “I know you are right and my wardrobe needs updating. Its just a little overwhelming to know I can have anything I want. And it seems like I am expected to look amazing all the time.”

Narcissa chuckled in response, “I am certain it is quite the adjustment. But I think you will find it surprisingly easy to look lovely consistently with a good wardrobe.” She stepped closer to the girl gently cupping her cheek with her hand and continued, “In combination with how fetching you are naturally, I don’t believe you will have to put in as much effort as you are imaging.”

Hermione blushed and looked away, but followed willingly through the store as Narcissa pointed out articles to the shopkeeper that would be moved into the fitting rooms for them. As Narcissa intently discussed the styles of outer robes

she needed, Hermione found herself staring out the front of the shop as her mind wandered. She was looking away as she felt a warmth shoot through her fingers she had felt only once before. She looked back up to see a cloaked figure looking in the shop. The woman lowered her hood unveiling curly hair and a beautiful porcelain complexion. Their eyes connected and Hermione felt as though the woman was looking directly into her soul. Realizing that Narcissa had turned the conversation back to her, she tore her eyes away from the beautiful woman to address her companion. She consented to try on whatever it was that Narcissa recommended, but when she turned back to the window, the woman was gone. Hermione sighed heavily and continued to follow the blonde witch through the store.


 

Narcissa saw Bellatrix walk up to look in the shop. She had told her sister where they would be; knowing Bella would only follow her if she denied her the information. In spite of having recently been pardoned by the puppet administration at the ministry, being out in public was still risky. She was grateful for her sister’s increased freedom, because Bella was on the verge of becoming a caged animal. And in that mood she tended to do extensive damage to property and decorating Malfoy Manor to Narcissa’s standards had taken ages. She hadn’t missed the heated look the two exchanged She intentionally interrupted to deter Bella from advancing too quickly.

For nearly two hours Hermione tried on more clothes than she had ever seen in her life. Narcissa eyed each outfit carefully, and by the end of their time had organized fairly complete new wardrobe. Hermione never felt more out of place than she did paying the shop clerk. Nor had she imagined spending so much money, much less all at once and in one place. She would have to find a way to use some of her wealth to make the Grangers’ lives more comfortable. It seemed inherently wrong for her to indulge while they worried about how to make ends meet.


 

After giving the shopkeeper the details of where to deliver her new clothes, Hermione walked with Narcissa to the Three Broomsticks to meet Draco. He lit up the moment the two walked in the door beckoning them over to the corner booth Hermione thought of as “their’s.” He stood to kiss his mother on the cheek and to give his friend a tentative hug that she accepted without apprehension surprising them both. As she rounded the table a figure who had previously been blocked from view by the wall was fully revealed. Hermione remained vaguely aware that Narcissa and Draco were still happily talking, but to her it seemed as though the world froze as she was again trapped in the gaze of the beautiful woman from in front of the dress shop.

Noticing the pair staring silently, Narcissa made the formal introductions, the two managed to smile and nod, but didn’t speak. The flurry of activity to order food and drink eased some of the initial awkwardness. Hermione was grateful to have the mug of butterbeer in her hands to play with and to occupy her mouth so that her lack of talking was somewhat less noticeable. No longer able to keep her eyes focused on the table, she ventured a look up at the beautiful creature who now had a name. Bellatrix. As their eyes met once more, Hermione felt a rush of emotions excitement, fear and anxiety that she realized were not her own. Confused she opened her mouth to speak, but fell silent, as she was herself pushed away from the feelings. With the connection broken, it dawns on her that it was Bellatrix she’d gained access to. Her own anxiety washes over her in waves. The dark witch doesn’t seem upset, but legilimency wasn’t a skill Hermione practiced. So what in Merlin’s name was that. As her thoughts race, Hermione realizes she can’t stay at the table any longer. Awkwardly and abruptly apologizing to Narcissa claiming to be feeling ill, she raced from the restaurant seeking the shelter of her rented room.


 

The moment Bellatrix pushed Hermione out of her mind, she knew she made a mistake. If she had known who it was, she might have responded differently. But the time in prison sharpened her self-preservation instincts and made her reactions knee-jerk. She was surprised the young witch was so skilled. Even her Lord struggled to break into her mind. When Hermione stood and raced from the restaurant, Bella realized that playing by simply wasn’t her strong suite. More than anything she couldn’t bear to miss her window of opportunity to get to know the witch and possibly more. In true Bellatrix fashion she concluded that decisive action would be the best course, exiting she hoped to catch the girl before she disappeared.


 

A few meters outside of the Three Broomsticks, Bellatrix caught up to Hermione moving into her personal space with a confidence in her movements that caused most witches and wizards to cower in her presence. Hermione seemed unaffected by the invasion, her discomfort visible only in her hands braced against the wall behind her for support.

“I apologize for startling you by breaking the legilimency link. You must believe it wasn’t my intention to unsettle you,” Bellatrix whispered quietly only centimeters from Hermione. As the words slipped from her lips, images of herself and the girl intertwined in the heat of passion fired through her brain. The decidedly sweet images could only have originated from Hermione, as she had been too cautious to even hope for such precious things yet. Comforted by proof that the girl desired her, Bellatrix leaned in and placed a lingering kiss on the girl’s cheek. “We must get to know one another first, darling,” she spoke seriously. She drew her hand down the girls arm as she walked away, leaving a note in Hermione’s open hand.

Meet me tomorrow at Madam Puddifoot’s. 3pm. -B

Chapter Text

Bellatrix swept through the streets of Hogsmeade back to the Three Broomsticks as quickly as she could. Though publically awarded her freedom, she was under no delusion that most knew she was freed for her connections not her innocence. She never denied her part in the first war, nor would she in the second. She accomplished more than any witch before her and she earned the respect of many of her Lord’s men in the process. The violence and battles were an adrenaline rush and had been the only thing that made her feel alive. Azkaban robbed her of the feeling for 15 long years and she was currently spending all of her energy attempting to wait patiently for her Lord to require her service again. Rationally, she knew that he was giving her time to regain her strength, but it didn’t lessen her desire to jump in. Fortunately, the girl served as a happy distraction. Being near her was a different type of rush, unlike anything she’d previously experienced. There was lust, but it wasn’t all there was. Bellatrix had no intention of giving up her other sources of fun. No, if she and the girl were to be, Hermione would have to accept her exactly as she was. Darkness and everything else that made up the dark witch. That would be the test of the prophecy. That would be how Bellatrix would know if Hermione was her one.

Bellatrix found her way to the table and sat next to her sister. Narcissa took in her sister’s appearance after the short outing. Bellatrix’s wild beauty was once again in full bloom. Her eyes were bright and sparkling as Narcissa had not seen them since childhood. Her cheeks were slightly flushed and Bellatrix had entered the bar like she owned it. Every step she took was imbued with the confidence that was distinctly Bellatrix Black.

“Bella, what just happened?” Narcissa began cautiously. She hoped that nothing had gone badly, but with Bellatrix’s temper and impulsivity anything was possible. She worried mostly about Hermione’s reaction. Narcissa had already been firmly pushing Hermione to form a bond with herself and Draco to familiarize her with what Narcissa hoped would become her family. To an outsider it may have looked manipulative, but in comparison to the arranged marriages most purebloods were subjected to, this approach was incredibly gentle. The entire family was courting Hermione on Bella’s behalf. Narcissa found herself taken with the girl, noting that she was rather charming.

“Nothing as interesting as you are suspecting, sister,” Bellatrix said in a bored tone. “I just went after her to clear up a small misunderstanding.”

“Bella, stop talking in riddles. What did you do?”

“Temper temper, Narcissa,” Bella prodded and then smiled to lessen the effect. “It seems the pretty little witch discovered an interesting part of our… situation. While we were sitting at the table she was able to hear my thoughts.”

“What were you thinking that she ran?” Narcissa struggled to keep her voice under control as she became angry.

“Oh it wasn’t what I was thinking. It was that I pushed her out of my mind.”

“Bella…”

“I didn’t mean to, Cissy. It was an unintended reaction. Years of prison will do that to you. Not that it matters, I went to apologize. I caught up with her before she reached the Inn and used my body to get her to hear me out.”

Narcissa let a small groan slip, which made Bellatrix smirk.

“I assumed that it would be easier to get past her walls if we had a physical connection. I didn’t go overboard. It was enough to confirm that the transference is two ways. I could read her thoughts. They were far more interesting than my own. I kissed her cheek, winked and put a note in her hand asking her to meet me tomorrow.”

Bellatrix chuckled at her sister’s open shock. She had missed getting Narcissa firmly out of her comfort zone. Narcissa’s concern was legitimate. For the first time everything in Bellatrix’s life was moving in the same direction. Having a singular goal made her feel focused and strong. The need to lash out and cause destruction seemed to be firmly at bay.

After a moment, Narcissa schooled her features and said condescendingly, “I am proud of you, I would have hated to clean up your mess.”

“Watch yourself, baby sister. I still know more hexes than you,” Bellatrix growled threateningly. After only a moment of silence the two burst out laughing.


 

Wrapped in a warm quilt, Hermione sat in the window seat of her room, watching the sunrise. After her encounter with the eldest Black sister, she found herself so out of sorts that she sought shelter in the comfort of her bed and slept away most of the afternoon. As a result she was unable to sleep through the night. She read until the first light of dawn, when she moved to drink a cup of tea and watch the sunrise. She felt more at peace that morning than she had in many months.

She was unsuccessful in finding anything in the books currently in her possession that made any reference to the type of mental connection she experienced the day before. It was a perfectly good excuse to shop at the bookstore. On her way there she decided that she would stop and get the last few things she needed for her makeover. At the top of her list was new perfume. She never bothered before, but something about the allure of Bellatrix enticed her to try something new of her own choosing.


 

Hermione arrived at Madam Puddifoot’s a quarter before 3 after her shopping expedition. She was nearly overcome with nerves. She chose to wear an outfit selected by Madame Malfoy the day before, as she truly wanted to impress the dark eyed witch whose lips she could have sworn she still felt on her cheek. The soft pale purple fabric rose high on her neck accentuating her neck and flowed comfortably down her form. Having not ordered tea without Bellatrix, Hermione was still wrapped in her new cloak for warmth. The elaborate patterns of the fabric caught the sunlight as she turned. She paged through the book she brought with her, though the topic was pertinent she was unable to focus. Right at 3 o’clock sharp, the bell to the shop rang, announcing the entrance of a customer. Hermione raised her eyes from the pages of her book to watch the proud hooded figure of Bellatrix take over the room.

The few others occupying the shop seemed as captivated as Hermione felt. The woman before her looked nothing like the photo the media circulated a few months prior. As she lowered her hood, her bright pale skin, red lips and sparkling smile caused Hermione to take a deep steadying breath. The woman before her was in a word- gorgeous. Every curve of her body was hugged by the black lace dress she wore. Hermione attempted to control her thoughts, wary of the day before, while watching the witch stalk towards her. Her movements reminded Hermione of a panther stalking her prey. Hermione realized she would be willing prey if it gained her attention.

As she reached the table, Hermione found herself rising to greet her. Bellatrix reached out her hand and said,

“Let us begin again. Hello, I’m Bellatrix Black. I am very pleased to make your acquaintance.”

“Hello, I’m Hermione MacCarthy,” she found herself saying quietly in response as Bellatrix continued to hold her hand, “It’s lovely to meet you as well.” Stunned by the feeling of Bellatrix’s skin against her own, Hermione watched mutely as the older witch ordered tea and scones motioning her to sit down. As they settled in their seats at the small table Bellatrix began more softly than her reintroduction

“I’m very glad you came. I wasn’t sure if you would give me another chance after yesterday. I would at least like the opportunity to explain.”

“I could hardly refuse the offer,” Hermione replied in the tone of voice Narcissa had been schooling her in. “It’s not as though I had any idea how to send you a refusal. After all, we both know I am a proper pureblooded woman.”

The disarmingly sarcastic last statement caused both witches to chuckle at their situation.

“My pursuit of you is only barely acceptable because we are from two of the most powerful and wealthy families. I believe we have left the realm of proper.”

The honesty of Bellatrix’s words caused Hermione’s icy front to fracture just a bit revealing her confusion and shock. She knew the tea shop was well known as a date location, but could the woman be showing genuine interest? She attempted to read the other witches mind or at least her face for confirmation.

At the feeling of Hermione’s attempt to see into her mind, Bellatrix smirked at the girl and leaned toward her to gently brush her fingers over the top of Hermione’s hand. Whispering intimately in her ear, “I won’t be so easy again, little witch. I intend to make you work for it.” Pleased by the shivered reaction the girl couldn’t bite back, Bellatrix leaned back slightly, leaving their fingers gently intertwined.

“If I was able to see into your mind, does that mean you could see into mine?” Hermione asked tentatively.

“Are you asking for your research purposes?” she responded, gesturing towards the book Hermione abandoned the moment she walked through the door. She noted that Hermione made little effort to control her reaction at being caught. Leaning in to lower her voice she purred, “Yes. I believe it is a two way connection.”

Hermione immediately moved to back away to hide the blush creeping up her cheeks, but Bellatrix, anticipating the move, stilled the motion by gently squeezing the fingers she never released.

“I won’t rush you, Hermione. But I won’t pretend that I don’t feel a connection to you. Blacks aren’t raised to back away from things they may find frightening. And I refuse to not live my second chance to it’s fullest.” The devious smile found it’s way back on her face as she continued, “Don’t fear, I am more than capable of being brave enough for the both of us.”

Hermione scoffed in response but smiled at her companion. She knew she’d been bested and that she didn’t want to fight how good it felt to be in the witch’s presence. With the air a bit clearer, the two eased into conversation ranging from how they took their tea, to experiences at Hogwarts and growing up. As the sun dipped below the horizon, Bellatrix realized that they would need to part ways, but couldn’t bear the idea of not seeing the girl again soon. In a moment of pure brilliance she invited Hermione to continue her research in the stacks at Malfoy manor. Hermione hesitated at the offer until Bellatrix said that she would gather her the next day in time to have lunch with Narcissa and Draco.

Hermione allowed herself to be led by Bellatrix through the streets of Hogsmeade to the inn where she was staying. Stopping just outside Hermione’s room, Bellatrix tugged gently at the girl’s hand, spinning her into her arms. For a moment they gazed into each other’s eyes until the older witch moved her hand to the back of Hermione’s head, weaving her fingers through the soft curls. With deliberate softness Bellatrix brought their lips together in a slow kiss full of the promise of passion. Without speaking a word, she took a step back and disapparated all the while smiling at Hermione.

Chapter Text

Watching the last faint traces of the black smoke of Bellatrix’s apparition disappear, Hermione struggled to unlock and open the door. Stumbling inside, she sagged against it. The romantic spell of the beautiful afternoon faded with the physical reminder of the occupation of the breathtaking dark witch. She slipped to the floor as she lost control of her emotions. Sobbing quietly, Hermione contemplated the irony of her situation. The gentle soulful kiss she shared with Bellatrix seemed in direct conflict with the life long devotion to violence, death and her Lord. She was one of the few Death Eaters to have never denied her involvement nor denounced her Lord. Bellatrix was a convicted murder not known to show remorse. Hermione had been so wrapped up in the slow seduction of the Malfoys for her affections that she lost perspective of the situation. After all, at the beginning of the year Hermione would have been more likely to be a victim than a date to the witch.

And yet the changes in her life, hadn’t just been in the world around her. Hermione had changed too. Was it in her blood? Or did the simple knowledge of her name make some mark on her? How had she managed to let people in? She used to be so protective of herself. Now she allowed herself to be reliant on others. She nearly turned down the offer for lunch the next day, because she simply didn’t know where the Manor was. Bellatrix’s offer caused her defenses to crumble and make it impossible for her to say no.

And that is what it would always come back to. She was drawn to Bellatrix. It was like an invisible thread ran between the two, drawing them ever closer. To some extent she had to admit she was similarly drawn to Narcissa and Draco, which added a level of complexity. But Bellatrix, she couldn’t avoid. After two encounters it was clear the pulses in her magic were connected to the dark witch. And she experienced them intermittently throughout the fall suggesting that the pull affected Bellatrix too and that they had been physically near each other on at least two additional occasions.

In spite of the heavy evidence against the older witch, Hermione knew there was something she couldn’t quite put her finger on about her. There had to be more to her story. In the afternoon they spent together, Hermione saw nothing of the madness for which the other was renowned. It was clear there was more than met the eye. The gnawing curiosity would eat away at Hermione if she were to deny her interest, and she had no desire to deny herself anything when it came to Bellatrix.

As her tears dried on her face as she came to the realization that she wanted nothing more than to throw caution to the wind and run directly into the witch’s arms.


 

Landing in the middle of the library at Malfoy Manor, Bellatrix unleashed a yell of victory. The entire afternoon had gone to plan. She got through the apologies without incident. Hermione didn’t know, couldn’t know, that she apologized to a very select few. The vulnerability of apology spoke volumes of her intentions towards the younger witch. Wanting Hermione, desiring her in every way drove her crazy. She was used to taking whatever she wanted, but Hermione had to give herself first. Then and only then, she would take her fully.

Narcissa looked up from the large book she was reading at the sound of her sister shouting. She playfully rolled her eyes in response. Clearly Bellatrix had been successful in her first attempt to woo the girl. Narcissa felt vague jealousy at the idea of her sister having her. She’d enjoyed the time spent with the witch, but she had always seemed to covet Bella’s toys. Turning to her sister she said,

“Am I to assume from your bellowing that you managed not to scare the girl off?”

Approaching the blonde, Bellatrix slide down to the sofa and rested her head on her shoulder. “Not yet, Cissy.”

“Would you like me to congratulate you?”

“Not just yet for that either. You haven’t even heard how well things went. And I do presume you want to know.” Bellatrix paused to turn her head slightly to look into her sister’s blue eyes. “I hope you don’t have lunch plans tomorrow, I invited Hermione to come for lunch,” she said, smiling brightly. She was rather pleased with herself.

“Sister, you impress me. How did you get her to agree?”

“I just asked her and promised to make sure she arrived here safely.”

“Then you think its true? I’ve been trying to gain her trust for months and barely managed to get her to meet me in public. A few hours drinking tea and she trusts you to apparate her here?”

“I am rather remarkable, sister.”

Narcissa made a faint humming sound in response. It was true, Bellatrix was remarkable. Anything she set her mind to, she mastered with a flair that intimidated most. She’d taken control of her life and lived by her own rules. Narcissa would never shake her hero worship for her protective oldest sister. Throughout the years she heard the whispers questioning how she could love such a monster, but the public didn’t know her sister; didn’t know their past. And they certainly didn’t know the enigmatic charm of the dark witch. When it suited her, Bellatrix could ensnare anyone around her in her erotic charm. It rarely lasted in her absence, so the girl’s attendance the next day would be a testament to her success if in fact she showed.

“And under what guise did you invite her to my home?”

“Research, of course. She wants to understand our connection. You know very well that she will never find what she is looking for in the charming bookstore in that little town. I don’t suppose you bothered to tell her?” Bellatrix paused, giving Narcissa the opportunity to answer. “No. I didn’t think so. Well this is our opportunity to allow her to discover for herself certain things about our family.”

“What are you suggesting?”

“I’m suggesting that we make readily available the prophecy and other topics that might be relevant to understanding our bond. It’s not as though we can just come out and tell her at this point. She will see every step that led us here as a manipulation.”

“Are you saying it wasn’t?”

“I know full well it was, but it was a necessary one. Had we been passive who knows if it ever would have come to pass. In time I will be able to tell her and when I do she will understand why I made the decisions I did.”

Narcissa raised her eyebrows at the certainty and trust with which her sister spoke. “Very well, come have dinner we have quite a bit of planning to do before tomorrow.”


 

After her early evening meltdown, Hermione took dinner in the privacy of her room. The level of interaction of the last few days was more that she was accustomed to and she found herself missing the silence. After eating she sank into a warm bath as she cranked up her favorite music, allowing it to soothe her frayed nerves. She let go of the stream of concerned thoughts. It was absurd that at such a young age she was given such options and such power. She didn’t have the slightest clue what to do with it and she wasn’t certain that she even wanted it.

She fell peacefully to sleep daydreaming about what the next day would bring. No amount of personal doubt could hamper her anticipation to see Bellatrix again. For the first time in a long while she slept until late morning, though she awoke feeling refreshed and rested, she was going to be rushed in getting ready. She moved as quickly as she could, unable to even linger long enough to drown herself in stress. She finished her hair as the silence was broken by a firm knocking on the door. She opened it to find Bellatrix leaning casually against the doorframe, unabashedly raking her eyes up and down Hermione’s body. Blushing, Hermione stepped towards her closing and locking the door.

“Hi.”

“Hello, Hermione. It’s lovely to see you again. This is for you,” Bellatrix purred in Hermione’s ear while producing a flower seemingly out of thin air. Hermione took the purple flower from the slender outstretched fingers. “It’s an aster,” she explained.

“It’s a symbol of love and trust. This particular variety is very rare in the UK,” interrupting Bellatrix before she could finish her sentence, Hermione completed the thought.

“It’s not a presumption of what we are now, just a reminder of what we could be.”

Hermione raised her eyes from the flower in her hands to meet the dark eyes she could feel on her skin. From a single look there was no doubting the sincerity of the words, but there was also a shimmer of playfulness that Hermione longed to know more about.

“Are you ready to face my sister in the role of hostess? She can be rather intimidating,” the older witch asked.

“I think so.”

“If you are worried about how you are dressed, don’t be. I could tell from a kilometer away that is an outfit Narcissa picked out. She will be pleased.” Bellatrix took a step closer to the girl, inhaling the sweet scent that had enraptured her the day before. The lavender and vanilla reminded her of sunny days at the sea. “And I find you captivating.” She was tempted to kiss the girl soundly, but kept instead to the plan of offering her arm. With a small pause of hesitation Hermione stepped beside her, wrapping her empty hand around her arm. After a long look, they disapparated with a faint crack.

Chapter Text

The two witches landed on a gravel drive nestled between two high hedges. The massive house beyond the golden gates towered above them. Hermione froze at the sight of the imposing structure. It was obscenely big for a single-family domicile and could not be more different than the modest middle-income house she grew up in. The self-doubt came flooding back, threatening to overcome her. She wasn’t like these people. The irrational fear that the wards of the manor would reject her blood kept her as still as though a body bind had been cast.

A soft hand rested on her waist as Bellatrix stood behind her to whisper in her ear, “It won’t reject you. You are as pureblooded as I am.”

“Reading my mind is creepy. You know that right?”

Stepping back to look at the rather forward young witch, Bellatrix cackled darkly. She loved a challenge and was relieved the girl had spirit. It would have been unfortunate to be destined for a pushover.

“As though you aren’t trying to read mine, little witch. You are surprisingly subtle about it, but I’m better.”

“Only because I am untrained,” came the easy response.

Bellatrix had to hand it to her sister. Narcissa did a remarkable job of teaching the girl the cultural haughtiness in such a short period of time.

“Come. Neither of us wants to face my sister if we are tardy. Everyone believes I am a fearful witch, because they’ve simply never seen Narcissa angry.”

Hermione giggled. She was certain Narcissa could be a handful. She witnessed enough of Draco’s public behavior to realize how well behaved the three had been in her presence. She wondered how long the good behavior would last, not out of fear but out of curiosity. She knew that curiosity could be her undoing while keeping company with an extremely powerful magical family. But they were a mystery to be unraveled, which she couldn’t resist. And they had rare books. Resisting had never been an option.


 

Narcissa loomed in the doorway of her home, watching the two women approach. Her breath hitched when she saw Hermione’s body stiffen with uncertainty, but whatever Bella said obviously worked. The laugh that bubbled out of her sister was a pleasant sight. That particular laugh signaled the sheer happiness of the witch. It also happened to be why the world believed her mad. And she was a bit. Bellatrix loved thrill and had no conscious about how she sought it. For the first time Narcissa found herself questioning if Hermione was capable of coping with the darkness. Bella’s sensuality would be enough to draw her in, but it wasn’t enough to build a foundation on.

Greeting them at the door, Narcissa took their cloaks and handed them to the waiting elf leading them into the dining room. She watched Hermione pause again in discomfort and Bella tenderly approach and put the girl at ease. She found it vaguely disconcerting to see sister take on the role of caregiver for someone outside of the Black family. She’d always been fiercely protective of her younger sisters, but it never extended further. This was going to take some getting used to for everyone.

The four gathered at the far end of the large table to eat. After pleasantries were exchanged, Draco shifted the conversation to begin executing against the plan dreamed up by his mother and aunt.

“Hermione, as glad as I am to see you. I am surprised you finally came to our manor. How many times have you been invited? What did my aunt do?” Bellatrix hissed in response. The boy was to start the conversation, not frighten the girl away. He turned his head to her, throwing his best impression of her own look that dared others to challenge her. During the exchange, Hermione subtly touched Bellatrix’s knee under the table to reassure her that she was fine. Bellatrix barely contained her reaction, as a pulse of intense energy spread across her leg and up her body. The touch was in no way unwanted, but the assertiveness was pleasantly surprising.

“I lost count of the number of invitations after a while. And she made an offer she knew I couldn’t refuse,” Hermione paused to allow the boy’s imagination run for a moment. “Books, Draco. She offered me the use of your extensive library.”

“And you have never been one to pass up a book.”

“No. Not even once.”

“And what is it that you are looking for? There are many other books in the world. This tends to be a rather specialized collection.”

Hermione turned to face Bellatrix looking for permission. Though they told each other many things about their lives, they never directly broached the subject of what was going on between them. The invitation to do research at the library in Malfoy Manor had been the only recognition of their unique situation.

“There are no secrets here, Hermione. Tell them whatever you like,” Bellatrix said, answering the question that hadn’t yet been asked. Hermione raised her eyebrows in surprise and turned back to Draco and Narcissa.

“I’ve… we’ve experienced changes in our magic when we are in each other’s presence for one. And then there is the ability to view each other’s minds with almost no effort. Aside from that, I don’t know how to explain it. I feel a constant connection to her, but it’s more than….” Hermione said her voice trailing off.

“It’s more than even a new courting relationship could account for,” Bellatrix finished. Though she genuinely longed to hear how Hermione wanted to finish the sentence, she hoped it was a conversation better served in a private setting.

“I can see why she would offer our library. It has extensive titles on both the dark arts and ancient magic. Have you decided where you want to start?”

“Draco, did you just ask if I had a plan?”

“Yes, I suppose I did. Allow me to rephrase, where do you plan to begin with your research?”

“Ancient Pureblood Magic, I think. I haven’t been able to put my hands on anything on the topic at school or privately. I’ve been terribly curious.”

The lunch conversation wove through the topics Hermione managed to have read about, including the little she had been able to learn about the MacCarthy family. Even from most accounts it was clear that in order to get complete answers, she would need to go to the family library at some point in the near future.


 

Once the plates were cleared, Draco excused himself to go play Quidditch with a few of his housemates. Narcissa led Bellatrix and Hermione through the large house to the library. Instead of fear, Hermione’s reaction to the room was one of complete adoration. She’d barely stepped through the doorway before she was moving around the room gently stroking the spines of books as she skimmed the titles on the lowest shelves.

“Madam Malfoy, I had no idea your collection was so amazing.”

Narcissa chuckled in response. “Families like ours collect for generations. We use spells that preserve and maintain the books. So it is rather easy to find a 13th century book here. As there is so much to explore, I took the liberty of pulling a few books I thought might lead you in the right direction,” she said, taking them over to a table piled with at least 20 books. “I trust you can find your way from here. If you need anything an elf will be able to find me for you.” Narcissa quickly exited the room, providing her sister with the private situation as they’d carefully planned.

The night before they stayed up until 3 in the morning planning the day. They carefully constructed every detail of Hermione’s first visit. They attempted to keep as close to their general routines as possible, but chose to involve both Narcissa and Draco to make clear that Hermione had people she could talk to. Then there was the matter of getting the information of the prophecy into Hermione’s hands without telling her directly. After 3 large glasses of wine and as many hours lamenting the difficulty of making a prophecy appear on command, Bellatrix remembered the ancient Black family book. She’d seen it only once as a teenager. She could remember feeling the power of the book as she opened it for the first time. It listed members of the Black family and their particular powers or special circumstances. It was the kind of family heirloom that families strove to keep secret. There were peculiarities in its pages none of the descendants would wish to be known publicly. The magic with which it was constructed updated itself immediately as powers were discovered or prophecies uttered.

Having the prophecy in print was the first step. Getting it into Hermione’s hands in a room full of thousands of books was the next challenge and then getting it to the right page would be even trickier. Bellatrix wanted Hermione to discover it on her own without prompting. She tried to convince herself the reason was that she wanted the girl to be as invested as she was, but not directly speaking about the prophecy was a self defense mechanism. She feared rejection. It was rare that she put forth effort with new people or even noticed their presence enough to care their opinion about her. But she wanted Hermione with every fiber of her being. She wanted many things throughout her life, but every other desire paled in comparison to this.

After another glass of wine and nearly an hour of bouncing ideas back and forth between the sisters, Draco finally came home. It was his youthful and simple approach that Bellatrix believed would be their best chance. She would cast two spells over the book. The first would be to allow a non-Black to open the book and the second would cause Bellatrix’s page to open when the book was flipped through. Narcissa set about gathering other books of the same genre to reduce suspicion. She created neat stacks and after Bella finished with the spells placed the book at the bottom of the 2nd stack from the left on the waiting table. It was close enough to the front that it was likely Hermione would get to it in an afternoon but not so close to the top that it would look planted.

The most difficult part of the plan would be for Bellatrix to guard her mind against the girl. Whenever strong emotions were involved it seemed nearly impossible to keep her out, so that afternoon more than ever, she would have to remain in control.


 

Hermione reached out to the books on the table reverently. Each volume was clearly old and leather bound by hand. Even without the troves of hidden knowledge on each page they were works of art. She sat at the corner Narcissa led her to and began flipping through pages of the top book. Bellatrix sat directly across from her, doing the same thing. Occasionally they would find an interesting sentence or paragraph to read out loud to one another.

After several hours of searching the pages, Bellatrix stood to stretch out her limbs. Her joints were still healing so Cissy said, but Bellatrix doubted if after 15 years of cold they would ever stop hurting. After all of the other healing that had been done, she could hardly be bitter about the soreness. As she stood to reach her arms above her head, she saw Hermione reach for the book. She held her breath as she watched the beautiful young witch begin to turn the pages. In order not to ruin all of the careful planning she’d done, she quickly snatched up a book to idly flip through. Looking like she was busy would hopefully be enough to keep her nerves under her control during those critical moments.

She watched as the spell to open to the correct page work. She could see her name written in beautiful cursive script upside down from her vantage point. Snapping her eyes back to her own book, she waited for the girl’s reaction. Out of the peripheral of her vision, she watched the girl run her hand down the page and pause in the middle where the passage lay. She felt, rather than saw, the soft brown eyes lift to her face.

“Bellatrix,” the girl whispered, “I found something.”

Chapter Text

Hermione read the sentences several times over before she dared call the older witch over. The sentence came out as a whisper, in spite of her efforts to control herself.

One shall be born to end the suffering of the House of Black. She will come secreted into the world, fated to share in the hardships of the eldest. She will be the brightest of her age, destined to form the most powerful partnership ever known. Her loyalty and love will determine the course of the world… Neither the light nor dark will know her name … her blood, though pure, confused for mud.

Bellatrix seemed to be fidgeting. Could she possibly know more that she was letting on? Pushing away suspicions of the other witch, she would deal with them later. This matter was far more pressing and if the words were true ... if they were destined, Bellatrix's prior knowledge would be irrelevant. For now she would let her slide, but eventually she would address it appropriately.

At the sound of her whisper, Bellatrix stilled her movement and looked up. Had it been any other moment, Hermione would have laughed at the dark witch's attempt to cover her excitement with a look of confusion. Bellatrix strode over to where Hermione sat to bend over her shoulder and see the passage to which the girl referred. Dark curls smelling of cinnamon and cloves fell against Hermione’s neck, eliciting an involuntary shudder. In a hushed deep voice Bellatrix read the passage out loud.

“And this is on my page?”

“I presume so, with your name written across the top of the page in large letters.”

Bellatrix playfully smacked Hermione’s shoulder, “Cheeky.”

“Bellatrix, what kind of proficiency do you have in interpretative divination?”

“Have the standards at Hogwarts decreased so dramatically that they no longer discuss my achievements on my N.E.W.T.s?” It was clear she expected no answer as she simply proceeded on without taking a breath. “I am quite proficient in divination and most of the other subject areas.”

“Good. Then tell me what you see.”

“Wouldn’t you rather ask if I think you are the one to which the prophecy refers?”

Hermione turned her head to look in the dark eyes. She hadn’t asked that question because she wasn’t sure if she wanted to know. Bellatrix caught the look of fear immediately, after all she worked for years to extract just such a reaction from many muggles and wizards alike. But this time she loathed it. She took Hermione’s hand and led her to the couch in front of the fireplace so that they could sit together instead of hovering over her shoulder. She would have the witch under her soon enough, having this particular conversation on more equal ground would be advantageous. Settling them close to one another until their knees nearly touched, she drew the book between them until they each held half.

“As you know, I am the eldest of the Black family. It's sensible that this would be on my page. It seems to imply that after all of the darkness that perhaps the Black name will be restored to it’s former glory and that my time of suffering may be over. And it's all to happen at the hands of a young girl. Who was mistaken for a mudblood."

"Like me?"

Bellatrix took a deep breath. She hadn't expected the girl to be so straightforward. She anticipated them talking around the subject for far too long.

"Like you."

"Do you want it to be me?"

"I've made no secret about wanting you," the dark witch answers, dropping her voice to sound like the epitome of sex.

"Valuable information, however not what I asked," Hermione answered, repressing a shiver at the escalating sex appeal of the other witch. How would someone go about resisting Bellatrix Black? Every cell in Hermione's body seemed to crave the closeness the other offered. She found herself internally melting at every passing moment. She wanted to be putty in Bellatrix's hands. Pushing down the inclination to submit to her desires, she cocked her head waiting for a response.

Bellatrix didn't miss the expanding pupils of the young witch and found herself impressed as the girl withstood her charm, however temporary the endurance might be. Few over the years had been capable of doing so when Bellatrix set her sights on seduction. Backing off slightly she responded, "I don't think I would mind it being you. I've never met anyone like you. I enjoy being near you. And there is a very short list of people I would say that about."

"I can think of worse things, too. I think I understand most of it, but the second sentence." Hermione pointed down to the page and read aloud "She will come secreted into the world, fated to share in the hardships of the eldest. What do you think that means?"

Bellatrix recognized that the question about the content this time was genuine. It was the same sentence she struggled with over the last few months. It wasn't until her magic crackled outside of the dress store at the sight of Hermione that she became convinced ancient magic was involved. She hummed as she formulated a response. "I don't know exactly, but it seems reasonable that it might be connected to our ability to read each other's thoughts and the way our magic behaves." The slytherin paused a beat, letting the information sink in before delving deeper. "Can you think of anything in your childhood that was out of place or that you could never explain even after learning you were a witch?"

Hermione noted the delicacy with which the beautiful woman asked her to expose her secrets. She still wasn't used to being treated so sweetly, not to mention by the most feared death eater. Coming from Bellatrix it meant twice as much. She looked down to the book still held between them and slowly drew it away to place it on the low table between them and the fireplace. She took the hand closest to her, cradling it in both of hers. She ran her hands over the soft skin, learning the feel of each muscle beneath it as she struggled to find the words to respond.

Bellatrix waited patiently, enjoying the touch initiated by the girl. She had been the forward one and the validation of being reached out to for comfort was very new but incredible feeling.

"You have to know I've only told one person about this before," she began, trying to control the shaking in her voice but failing. "It went terribly. I promised myself that I would never be vulnerable to that kind of rejection."

"Draco tells me you mostly keep to yourself. Is that why?"

Hermione sighed, still staring at their hands. "Yes. That is why. It took Draco weeks to really get me to talk. Your family seems to be relentless about getting me to communicate."

"Maybe we just know what's best for you. But right now you are stalling, little one." Bellatrix traced her free hand down the brunette's cheek and gently lifted her chin to look in the beautiful amber eyes, hoping that the girl would see how much she wanted to be trustworthy and that she had no intention of rejecting her. The deep steadying breath the ravenclaw took into her lungs indicated the message had been received.

"Until just a few months ago I had nightmares every night," she began slowly, waiting for the witch to say or do something to cause her to run away. When it was clear no such reaction would occur she continued, "It was always the same. Damp and cold with the constant sound of waves crashing over rocks. And the screams of pain and sorrow." She pressed on not wanting to let the other witch respond until she was done. "When I was little it was terrifying and I didn't sleep much. But I learned that if I hummed or sung in the dream, things would calm a bit. The cold never went away and the sound of the waves remained deafening, but the pain was held at bay."

Bellatrix couldn't control her reaction as her jaw fell open. For all of those years had she really not been alone in the long nights at Azkaban? Pulling a memory of a typical night in her head, one where the distant music had soothed her, to the front of her head she whispered, "Look in my mind." She didn't try to control the tears spilling down her face as she felt the girl gently probing into her mind.

Hermione was transported into a familiar dark corner, the sounds of the waves as loud as ever. She looked down at the shivering body of Bellatrix rocking back and forth to comfort herself. She had no idea how small and rundown the witch had looked while in prison. She hardly resembled the drop dead gorgeous woman clinging to her hands as though her life depended on it. And then she heard it. A soft gentle tune her mother sung to her as a small child. This memory was from before Hermione went to Hogwarts. She used that song as comfort for nearly two years, as it was the only one she could always remember in her dreamlike state.

The evidence was astounding. There was no conceivable way Bellatrix could have found this information any other way than to have lived it. Hermione never shared her coping mechanism with another person. She moved her hands to slip around the dark witch’s waist and buried her face in the dark fragrant curls as her own tears streamed down her face.

For long moments they clung to one another reveling in not being alone now and the knowledge they'd never really been alone at all. The exhaustion of the emotional revelation hit them both full force. Bellatrix shifted her body to put her feet up on the couch, forcing Hermione to lay lengthwise against the back. Instead of resisting, the girl settled into the crook of her neck and slide an arm around her waist pressing their bodies together. Together they slipped comfortably to sleep surrounded by a foreign sense of safety.


 

Narcissa spent most of the afternoon attempting to not interrupt the two witches. She knew that Bella needed to do this part herself. She’d done her part and then some to ensure that Hermione would be willing and open to get to this point. If the young witch was the one referenced by the prophecy, her sister would have to be the one to draw her in. It was nearly dinnertime and no one had emerged from the library. If their love for learning and knowledge was any indicator, the two witches could truly be fated for one another.

She paused outside the door the library listening for voices, hoping not to interrupt an intimate conversation. Confused at the absolute silence, she slowly opened the door. Inside she found the table of books unoccupied, though from the messy state it was clear that they’d been through many of them. Walking deeper into the room she approached the couch from behind. In front of the fireplace she looked down at the two curled around each other in sleep. They looked so attractive together and so at peace.

“Go away, Cissy. I’m sleeping,” Bellatrix said without opening her eyes. At the childlike statement, Bellatrix felt a chuckle against her side remembering what the weight half way on top of her was.

Hermione whispered sleepily in her ear, “If we pretend to go back to sleep do you think she will go away?”

“I most certainly will not, Miss MacCarthy,” Narcissa stated bluntly. She managed to keep the edge in her voice, which served to hide the curiosity bubbling just under the surface.

“My sister’s hearing is incredible. Just something to keep in mind. I’ve never been able to keep many secrets from her. You will find in time that she is rather ubiquitous,” Bellatrix drawled beginning to stir from sleep.

“It seems you two have slept the afternoon away. Its nearly dinner time. You will stay won’t you, Miss MacCarthy?”

“She will,” the dark witch answered. At this Hermione lifted her head to raise an eyebrow at the woman she still snuggled against. She contemplated saying something about being able to speak for herself, but the truth was she couldn’t bear to be away from the other witch yet. Bellatrix grinned victoriously at the girl choosing to let the statement stand.

“Very well. Come then, I think we should begin with some wine,” the blonde witch said before turning and strutting out of the room.

“Your sister certainly knows how to make an entrance and exit.”

“She was aptly named. We’d better get up before she comes back. It only gets worse,” she said waiting for the girl to lift the warmth of her body away. Hermione hesitated. “Don’t worry. I won’t be far just more... upright.” Hermione smiled faintly knowing she’d gotten caught again.

“In my head again, Black?”

“No need. It was written all over your face.”

Hermione giggled. She was growing to love the banter and how comfortable talking to Bellatrix was. She enjoyed pushing and getting pushed right back. She tried not to be intimidated by her growing awareness of how innately connected the two were. It was getting harder to deny and even harder to imagine ever removing herself from the situation.

They took a few minutes to sit up and rearrange clothing and hair that had gotten mussed in the afternoon nap before meeting Narcissa in the dining room.

As they approached Narcissa said, “I was beginning to think that I would have to come extract you two from the library personally.”

“And how exactly do you think you were going to accomplish that, Cissy?” Bellatrix asked challengingly.

“Dear sister, you know I have my ways. You are hardly the only gifted witch in dark magic in this family. Though I suspect a bucket of cold water would have worked quite efficiently,” she said handing the other two witches glasses of wine and motioning them to sit. The elves already brought a tray of cheese, crackers and fruit for them to enjoy with their wine.

“Well, are you going to tell me what you found in the library or would you prefer I use legilimency on one or both of you?”

“You could never get past my barriers, sister. But in spite of your attitude, I suppose it would not be generous to keep secrets from you at this point.” Bellatrix looked to Hermione to gauge her reaction. The girl looked vulnerable, but nodded slightly giving her permission. Bellatrix grasped her hand offering comfort as she debriefed Narcissa.

Bellatrix had just finished telling her about their connection while Hermione was asleep throughout the years. Narcissa hadn’t expected them to discover anything she didn’t already know on their first day of research, certainly not something of this magnitude.

“So then we are sure its true?” Narcissa said in response.

It was Hermione, however, who answered. “It seems unlikely for there to be any other answer. Perhaps there could be another female child born to a pureblooded family, but raised by muggles. But statistically it seems unlikely that there could be another that shares the magical connections with your sister that I do. I think the sooner we all accept this the better.” She paused and took in the identical looks of shock on the Black sisters faces. “Do you disagree?”

Bellatrix recovered first. “No. You are quite right. There is still much we don’t know about our shared condition. It would be purposeless to spend more time attempting to determine if the connection is real. We have more than enough evidence to conclude that it is.”

"We ought to make better use of these few weeks you have away from school. It will be much harder once the term resumes," Narcissa reminded them.

Hermione's expression darkened. The idea of being away from Bellatrix pulled at her heart uncomfortably. Noticing the change in the young witch, the blonde pressed on, "It might be more convenient for you to be my guest until school resumes. We have plenty of empty guest rooms and you could use the library at any hour you like."

Instead of looking at Narcissa, the girl turned to look at Bellatrix searching her face for guidance. The witch shrugged in response as if to say the choice was Hermione's.

"I know this must seem extremely sudden, Miss MacCarthy, but the proof suggests you've been a missing part of this family. And it goes against our culture to allow you to be anywhere else. Here we can keep you safe. As you can imagine, if others learn of your connection to my sister you will become a target. We can teach you to protect yourself, but not if you aren't here."

Madame Malfoy was right, of course. She would become a target and was essentially defenseless. Umbridge's hold over the school in an attempt to keep Potter under control unfortunately meant that all of the students were severely lacking in defensive and offensive combat skills. She was being offered education, unlimited access to the library, the company of her only friend from school, and the affection of the Black sisters. If she had written a list of desires that would have been it in its entirety.

"I don't know what to say, Madame Malfoy. I wouldn't want to put you out."

"Please call me Narcissa. And it isn't any trouble. This home was built and staffed to care for more than four occupants. And I would be grieved to think of you spending this time alone."

"I want you here, too," Bellatrix offered after a long moment. She didn't want to pressure the girl, but the thought of parting was unpalatable.

"Do you think I will ever be able to turn the two of you down?"

"I certainly hope not, darling," the eldest witch answered earnestly.

"I would very much enjoy staying Madame, I mean Narcissa."

"Very good. It is settled. We can send an elf to collect your things from the inn. Are there any special accommodations that need to be made?"

How could Hermione have forgotten about her familiar? "There is one. I nearly forgot. My familiar is a cat named Crookshanks."

"Say no more, I will ensure he is collected and arrives here unharmed."


 

Soon the elves delivered their dinner, which far exceeded Hermione's expectations in terms of quality yet again. Staying at Malfoy Manor was going to have its perks. After dinner the three witches spent a few hours I the library devising how they would commence with their research in the following days. The sun had long since sunk below the horizon and the weight of the day caused Hermione to yawn drawing the blonde's attention.

"It's been a long day. Let me take you to your room so that you can get some rest."

Hermione allowed herself to be led from the room by Bellatrix, who was trailing after Narcissa, realizing how tired she was. Up the staircase and to the right they past a large door. Bellatrix leaned in to tell her quietly that was her room and if Hermione needed anything not to hesitate to come find her.

Two more doors down, Narcissa entered the room beckoning the others to follow.

"Your things are all here. Please make yourself comfortable. If you need anything, just call one of the elves. Goodnight, Hermione," she said kissing the girl gently on the cheek. After Narcissa left the room, Bellatrix turned.

"I am glad you decided to stay. I'd almost made up my mind to come stay at the inn if you didn't. But I hope that you will find it more comfortable here," she said gesturing to the opulent room. "My sister has rather expensive taste. Fortunately Lucius is loaded. I'm rambling. You should rest we had quite a day...."

Hermione stepped confidently into her personal space and placed a firm kiss ending the one sided conversation.

"I didn't think I could sleep if I didn't do that. I've been wanting to all day."

"Never restrain yourself on my account. Though I am not sure my sister would have enjoyed watching," Bellatrix teased. Narcissa likely wouldn't mind the view, but that would no doubt push beyond what the girl could tolerate learning in a day.

"I should let you sleep, my dear." Bellatrix took a small step back to look the girl in the eye while affectionately stroking her cheek and disappeared from the room closing the door behind her.

Hermione stood stunned. She thought the other witch would push for more, but she was gentle and polite. Part of Hermione very much looked forward to when she would be less polite. Taking careful steps she looked around the room. It was absolutely breath taking. She had never seen anything like it. And it vaguely made her feel like a princess.

The adjoining bathroom was the most luxurious bath she could imagine. The gold fixtures glittered in the candle lit room bouncing off the gleaming surface of the dark marble. The large tub looked to die for. A bath was in order to complete what had been and over wheelmen but delightful day. She undressed and stepped over to turn a knob to fill the tub with water, but there were no knobs. She tried the only spell she knew to fill it, but again nothing. Grabbing the closest towel she wrapped it around herself and padded out her door and to Bellatrix's without considering what she was doing. Rapping lightly on the door she waited it to open.

Bellatrix swung the door open lazily, clearly not expecting to see the young with again. Her jaw dropped open at the lack of clothes as she raked her eyes over the partially unclothed beautiful form of the girl.

Hermione blushed realizing what she did and said quickly, "I wanted to take a bath, but I don't know how to fill the tub."

Bellatrix said nothing but caught the girl’s hand as she passed by leading her back to the room. Once they arrived at the tub, she removed her wand from her sleeve and muttered a quick spell filling the tub with warm scented water.

Spinning to look again at the young witch her breath caught. Lust and desire overrode her more gallant intentions as she pulled the girl tightly against her. Capturing Hermione's lips aggressively she moaned at the sensation of the girl melting into her arms.

"When you show up at my door wearing only a towel, you must expect some sort of reaction," she declared quietly not moving away from the girl. "Take a bath, sweet girl. I will see you in the morning." Capturing the pinks lips before her gently one last time, she left Hermione to her bath.

After hearing the click of the outer door closing, Hermione dropped the towel to sink into the bath her body buzzing with the feeling of the heated kiss.

Chapter Text

Hermione work up in the softest bed she’d ever been in. Snuggled in the depths of a fluffy duvet, she debated even bothering to get up. The last few days had been like living in a dream. Learning about her connection to Bellatrix was at once overwhelming and comforting. She longed for their physical interactions. It took hours for her body to settle down after the assertive passionate kiss she’d been left with. Craving closeness would be an adjustment. She practiced isolation and independence with fervency. No one had managed to penetrate the tall walls she built around herself, except the Black and Malfoy families. Part of her feared relying on them, because if she continued on this path losing them would be catastrophic. But laying cuddled up in one of their guest rooms, resistance seemed absurd. Being showered with the things she desired the most, she felt helpless to withstand their collective charm.

Forcing herself out of her warm cocoon, she dressed to go down to the library to continue research, or just indulge in the space if no one was up yet. She walked quietly through the corridors leading to the library. Her footfalls echoed throughout the house, coercing her that she would be alone. Slowly she tugged open the heavy door to her favorite room just enough to slip in. She paused just inside at the sounds of a male voice that didn’t belong to Draco. From across the room she heard Narcissa’s gentle voice drift towards her,

“Hermione, please come. Join us for breakfast.”

Hermione did as she was told, shaking her head at her urge to automatically comply with the request of the youngest Black sister. It seemed that she could deny neither sister anything they asked. When she reached the table in front of the massive windows on the far side of the room, a tall blonde man stood to take her hand.

“Miss MacCarthy, I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”

“Mister Malfoy, thank you for your hospitality. It’s an honor to meet you.”

“Enough with the formalities, Lucius. She is still learning our culture,” Narcissa said with a great deal of pride in her voice at how well the girl did. Turning to Hermione she continued, “ Sit, join us. Don’t be put off by my darling husband. He only wants to impress you.”

Lucius playfully frowned, but quickly caught the young witch’s eye and winked. He snapped his fingers summoning an elf to bring her breakfast. To Hermione’s surprise there was never a moment of awkward conversation throughout the meal. Draco clearly got his charms from his mother and his sense of humor from his father.

After nearly an hour of getting to know the Malfoys, Lucius regretfully excused himself to go attend to the Dark Lord’s business. The two witches moved back to the table in the center of the stacks. Hermione picked up the piece of parchment on its surface to re-read the list of priorities in the beautiful script of the dark witch. Narcissa walked behind her to read over her shoulder and gently slipped the parchment from her hands.

“Her handwriting has always been beautiful, but must you admire every single thing about my sister?”

Though it was clear from the tone of voice that Narcissa was teasing her, she felt her entire body tense in panic.

“Please, don’t tell me you can hear my thoughts too,” she whispered nervously.

“Not at the moment, though I am rather skilled at legilimency. You seem to naturally guard your mind, which will be useful going forward.”

“Good. I really don’t need more than one of you in my head.”

Narcissa laughed, “Yes, I suppose it would get a bit crowded. Perhaps that is where we should start. Your connection with my Bella could be imperative with what is coming. We need to understand how you two can access it with intention and what the constraints are.” She walked to a section of the library and pulled down several books, handing them to Hermione and pointing her back to the worktable. Narcissa slipped quietly out of the library, promising to see Hermione at lunch.


 

Just before noon Bellatrix swept into the library, stalking toward Hermione as if she were prey. Placing the book down on the table in front of her, the young witch moved to turn around, but was thwarted by a mass of black skirts moving to perch on the high surface. She leaned back to be able to look at the beautiful face she’d been looking forward to seeing all morning.

“Did you miss me, little one?”

“You know I did.”

“Mmm good. You won’t have the opportunity to miss me this afternoon. Then again you may wish you did,” Bellatrix said with a good deal of enthusiasm. Taking in Hermione’s look of confusion with satisfaction she continued, “It’s time you and my nephew learned how to use your wands for something more useful than housework. There are plenty less talented who can see to such things.”

Hermione started to argue that all of those skills held value, but was stopped by the finality in the elder witch’s voice.

“I promise you will learn all of those things too, just not today. After all, you can’t learn it all at once.”

“I could try,” Hermione replied cheekily.


 

Lunch was a quiet affair. Draco was tremendously late, which caused Bellatrix to spend 15 minutes listing the things she would do to the boy if he missed her first lesson. As the threats escalated, Narcissa laughed knowing her sister would never dare. Bellatrix had executed each of those threats at one time or another, but she knew she would end up flat on her ass if she tried to harm Narcissa’s only son. Though Narcissa rarely exercised the full extent of her powers, never even taking the dark mark, she was no less skilled than her sister at the dark arts. She hid behind the image of a proper pureblooded housewife. It made her far more dangerous than most would expect.

At the very last minute, Draco jogged into the room dropping his quidditch bag to stand along Hermione’s side.

“I hope you have your wand, Draco.”

“I do, Aunt Bella. And I wasn’t late,” he said triumphantly. “I do know better. I grew up with the stories of what you would do to your sisters for being late.”

“And that was before I had my full power,” she replied easily, throwing a threatening smirk over her shoulder at the two young purebloods trailing behind her.

Once the three entered their practice room, she turned to address her two pupils. She glossed over the general etiquette needed for a formal duel, but moved quickly toward the action. Rules were boring and with her Lord’s plans, it would be unlikely that bowing appropriately to an opponent would be very high on anyone’s list. Bellatrix began with teaching them to effectively disarm one another. After only a few minutes both of her students mastered the skill, a testament to the power of their heritage in her mind. Hoping to make the afternoon a little more entertaining, at least for herself, she went over the basics of protego and stupefy, allowing each of them to try to use them against her. When satisfied with their progress she said,

“Well done my dears, come we are going to the gardens.”

“Wait. That’s it? We’re done,” Hermione said with more edge in her voice than she’d intended.

Freezing at the tone used with her, she rounded, walking until she’d backed Hermione up against a wall. Draco wisely ducked out of the doorway to wait for them.

“Something you would like to say to me,” Bellatrix growled.

“Not exactly,” Hermione answered sweetly, slipping her arms around Bellatrix’s neck. “I think I like you like this,” she whispered into her ear before pressing a firm kiss on the irresistible red lips.

“You are mischievous.”

“And I still don’t even remotely dislike you for that lesson. I’m a little disappointed.”

“Fortunately for you, it isn’t over yet,” Bellatrix said with an air of finality as she led the young witch from the room. “I will have you exhausted and begging me to let you stop.”

Watching the two revel in their closeness, Draco couldn’t resist teasing a little, “Enjoying snogging my aunt, ‘Mione?”

The older witch twitched in an attempt to respond, but Hermione held her back answering for them both,

“I think there are few who wouldn’t. But understand I am going to have to destroy you during our outdoor practice session for that little comment.”

“I look forward to watching you try. Nice mind reading by the way. It really doesn’t get less creepy even I know what’s going on. Did you find anything this morning that will help you control it?”

“I think I might have, but we will have to experiment a bit.”

Interrupting the playful conversation between friends, Bellatrix guided the two outside to explain the rules. She would serve as referee to prevent any serious damage to come from the two. They would have free reign of the garden, provided they would repair any damage they made. And they would duel until one or the other verbally yielded. The two moved to opposite sides of the garden to begin. Draco moved with a trained cadence. He wasn’t a novice. Narcissa clearly had spent some time ensuring that her son would be able to care for himself in her absence. His moves were measured and calculated. He was looking for weaknesses.

Hermione was a different story. She looked more like a wild animal. What she lacked in experience she was determined to make up in physicality. She found that her ability to produce spells was a beat slower than Draco’s, so she used her surroundings to buy her time and to take some of the spells thrown her direction. The less protecting of her person she had to do, the faster she could throw her own offense together. With her pride on the line in front of a woman she was desperate to impress she held nothing back.

After more than an hour of non-stop competition both of were drenched in sweat and haggard. Draco had a cut running down the length of his arm, which was caked with dried blood and a little dirt. Hermione moved tenderly trying not to put too much weight on her left ankle or let on that she was hurting. As the two prepared themselves for yet another volley of spells, Narcissa walked out into the garden.

“Draco! Hermione! Stop this instant.”

The two froze in motion with their wands pointed toward each other to look at the shouting blonde like naughty children. Pitching up his voice to imitate a much younger boy Draco replied,

“It’s not my fault, Auntie Bella made me do it.” Hermione burst into giggles at the silliness of her friend.

“I suppose that can be enough for today,” the eldest witch responded, walking with intention towards Hermione. Gripping the young girl under the arm, she assisted her in walking up the stairs to the seating area that overlooked the garden.

“I can take it from here, Bella,” Narcissa said, moving her sister out of the way. “Just try to relax, Hermione. I am a trained healer, but repairing this sprain will be much easier if you don’t tense your muscles.” Muttering spells under her breath, she commanded the muscles to knit themselves together and tighten back to the joints. “It will be tender for a few hours, but by tomorrow you should be comfortable again. Now both of you, upstairs and bathe. You won’t be eating in such a state.”

The two tired teens walked up the stairs together congratulating the other on the fun they had throughout the afternoon.


 

After bathing and eating dinner, Hermione and Bellatrix returned to sit in front of the fire in the library to read. Within an hour, Hermione managed to move herself into the dark witch’s arms, leaning comfortably against her and enjoying the possessive arm draped around her shoulders.

“Bellatrix, I have a favor. There’s something I think I need to do, but I really don’t want to go alone.”

“I will help with whatever you request, but you must stop using my full name. I feel like I am getting scolded,” she replied. “Call me Bella, I like it better.”

“Please Bella.”

“Mmm you know I love the way that sounds, but what is it that you are asking me so nicely for?”

“I need to go to Timoleague Castle in County Cork. It’s the seat of the MacCarthy family and there are records I would like access to.”

“Not to mention your curiosity of where you have come from is finally getting to you.”

“Yes, that as well. You all are so secure in your identity as a family and everything I know about my heritage I learned in a book from your sister. I want to know more. I need to know who I am,” Hermione said with the stress shining through in her voice.

“Of course I will go with you. It will all be ok, my dear. It’s time you checked in on your property.”

“Thank you,” the young girl whispered, leaning further into the solid comfort of the form wrapped around her. Relaxing into the security of the embrace she allowed herself to fall asleep, not waking as Bella moved her upstairs and into bed. She missed the gentle kiss to her lips, the whisper of adoration and the promise that she would never again have to be alone before the door clicked shut and the older witch walked quietly back to her own room.

Chapter Text

After only a few minutes of intense work, the Black sisters connected Timoleague and Malfoy Manor via floo network. With a deep breath, Hermione stepped into the fireplace and vanished in a blaze of green. She stepped out of the fireplace and began to dust herself off. Much to her surprise she was entirely clean. Turning slowly, she took in the low gothic ceilings of the throne room. She couldn't help but notice the stark difference between the Manor and the Castle. The Castle was centuries older. The walls were covered with elaborate mosaics depicting the land and area surrounding the former seat of the MacCarthy's power. Large stained glass windows allowed soft multicolored light to stream into the room, making the space feel otherworldly.

The moment Bella stepped out of the fireplace an elf appeared and bowed to Hermione. Ailbe introduced herself, explaining that Narcissa sent word to prepare the castle a few days earlier through the house elves to ensure the space would be ready for a visit. She proudly stated that her family served the MacCarthy line since the building of the castle in the 13th century and would be honored to serve her new mistress.

"Would you like for me to give you a tour of your Castle?" She asked in a lilting Irish accent.

The witches agreed, following her up and down staircases through each of the major rooms until they reached the library. To Hermione's delight it was more than twice the size of that of Malfoy Manor. Knowing the tour was coming to an end the elf led them to the large fireplace.

"Mistress MacCarthy, I have altered the wards to allow floo entrance to any of the Malfoy family and Mistress Black. There are certain protections in place that will prevent apparition without your permission. Leave me with a list of those you want able and I will arrange it."

"Thank you Ailbe," Hermione said, walking over to a medieval fresco to the right of the fireplace.

"That's your family, love," Bellatrix said, walking up behind the quiet witch. Hermione only hummed in response, placing her hand gently over the names of her parents, Cormac and Eleanor.

"You look so much like your mother," the dark witch whispered quietly. After a moment of silence, Bellatrix continued "And there is your name."

"It's a bit much to take in. It's hard to believe this is all true. How could I have not known?"

"We will begin to find your answers here. Once we know more about your parents and the circumstances around your birth and their deaths we will be able to track down who took all of this from you. And I will personally see to it that they pay for causing you this pain," Bellatrix finished, dropping her voice dangerously low.

Hermione squeezed her hand instead of responding and moved to a shelf containing the history of the family. Selecting one for herself, she passed another large volume to Bellatrix before settling in to read.


 

The two witches worked through lunch and wouldn't have remembered to eat had Ailbe not delivered it to them. The documentation for the entire line of the family was immaculate. The long lineage of the MacCarthy family was rife with kings and nobles recognized both in Britain and Ireland. The first major breakthrough came as the sun began to fall from the sky. In the modern records, Bellatrix found a reference to the only daughter of Cormac and Eleanor.

"Hermione, I need you to come here," she said urgently, pushing the book towards the girl and watching carefully for the reaction.

The page did list the birth of a child, but the date was 21 months before they had believed Hermione to be born. The young witch moved quickly back to the other side of the room, flipping quickly through the pages of a large book she glanced through earlier, but abandoned thinking it contained only ancient records. Finding the page she was looking for, she dropped the book into Bella's waiting hands. Hermione found her magical birth certificate. Between the magical book of lineage and this documentation, it would have been unlikely that fraud was committed between their pages.

"There are larger forces at play here than we had imagined. There are few wizards capable of hiding me the way they did," she said, anger causing her voice to waver. Why? What was so special about her? Who was Hermione Granger MacCarthy?

"You are right. We should return to the manor at once. I must inform the Dark Lord.”


 

The next week flew past Hermione in a blur. She chose to return to the Castle every day. Due to the unraveling information, Bellatrix was called back to the service of the Dark Lord, much to the delight of the dark witch. As she was largely unavailable during the day, Narcissa and Draco accompanied Hermione when they could. But after the first 3 days, Hermione got up early to go alone. She enjoyed the privacy of the Castle. She explored the extensive gardens and found herself wandering through each of the rooms. When she found the nursery, she sat in the rocking chair her mother would have held her in and cried for the life she lost. But in the swirling emotions Timoleague became her solace. She found the solid walls with moss growing between the crevices to feel more like home than any place she’d ever been. For the first time she didn’t have to pretend to be anyone or anything else.

Spending 12 hours a day alone at the castle, Hermione read through a large number of the family volumes. She read about their rise to power and the many families that attempted to pull them down. Even under the British monarchs, the MacCarthy clan retained most of their power over southern Ireland. Among the oldest of the magical families, they had deep ties to mystical practices. She found a book outlining sonuachar relationships and the associated powers. Written in ancient Gaeltacht, she was only able to read the handwritten English notes in the margins of the book. She immediately began to study the language and was beginning to unpack some of the passages, but it was slow work. The dream connection between them was one of the least common markers of their bond, one that suggested that under certain circumstances their combined magical powers could be magnified.

The Malfoys supplemented her research at the Castle with information from the Ministry of Magic. Lucius confirmed the trace on her wand ended the year before, allowing her to practice magic freely, including learning the dark arts. Unlike other significant cultural markers based on age, the trace was unalterable even by the most powerful wizards. Narcissa and Draco scourged the records from the days around her parents’ deaths, searching for any clue that might lead them towards who had removed her and placed her with adoptive parents. It was during the height of the confusion after the first failed revolution, an ideal time to steal a child and give it a new identity. The skill in hiding her age, placing her in a new family, and seemingly altering her timeline as far as her entrance to Hogwarts indicated the involvement of the most powerful wizards alive. The Dark Lord could be easily eliminated based on timing, leaving only Dumbledore and his cohorts.

Returning to work with the Dark Lord relit the fire in Bellatrix. The few months of respite allowed her body and soul to heal more than she’d ever imagined, but she never stopped longing to be a part of the uprising. She wanted to be a part of the magical world changing. The Order may have simplified the reason for fighting to bad vs good, she knew it was more complicated. She and those like her fought for the preservation of her family and the culture they’d lived for nearly a thousand years. And there was no end she wouldn’t go to for her family. The Dark Lord was pleased with her progress with her prophecy. As always her instincts had been true, and the time saved in identifying the girl would be critical in preparing for their final victory. She spent her days planning the best take down strategy and raising support for her Lord.

In the evenings, she sat with Hermione and listened to a systematic information dump from everything learned that day. After the second day of traveling to the castle alone, Bella noted that Hermione was becoming markedly withdrawn. Just as she was falling asleep that night, the dark witch felt her heart clench as though she were drowning in sorrow. She rushed to Hermione’s door, magically unlocking it and walking through the doorway and the boundaries of the silencing spell. The girl before her never seemed as broken as she did huddled beneath the covers in convulsing sobs. Silently Bellatrix slid between the covers, pulling the young witch into her arms. Stroking her hair and wiping away the tears, she allowed Hermione to fall asleep burrowed safely into her neck. For the rest of the week when the rest of the house was silent, Bellatrix would slip quietly into Hermione’s bed and snuggle close to the witch until they fell asleep.


 

The third week of December brought with it frigid temperatures and blankets of snow. The elves of Malfoy Manor decorated the home with evergreens with glowing candles. Garland with bright red and blue balls were strung over doorways and fireplaces. The elegant displays brought warmth to the imposing house it usually did not possess. The inhabitants, still abuzz with the important work of helping Hermione piece together her history, spared little time to prepare for the holiday. As they sat for breakfast on the 21st of the month Draco broke from their normal conversation,

“Mum, isn’t it time for our trip to Diagon Alley? It’s nearly Christmas.”

Turning to Hermione, Narcissa said dramatically, “You would think my son never had all of the things he desired. But to answer your question, Draco, we should make plans. Perhaps for tomorrow. We’ve always gone as a family to shop for Christmas presents. I would like it very much if you would join us.”

Hermione sat in stunned silence at the kindness of the offer. She’d been so wrapped up in the drama of her heritage, she’d entirely forgotten the season. She turned red and fought the desire to run from the room, not wanting to draw any more attention to herself.

“You did know that we expect you to spend the holiday with us, didn’t you?” Narcissa asked without even a tinge of judgment in her voice.

“You could hardly expect I’d let you spend it alone,” Bellatrix whispered huskily in her ear.

The young witch nodded her agreement to go. Everything about the holiday brought to surface her insecurity and guilt about her family situation. She felt lost knowing she’d lived a lie most of her life. She tried to hold onto the small facts she was learning about her family, hoping that if she pasted enough of them together, perhaps she would come up with a complete picture of herself. And she felt deep guilt over the Grangers. They had been nothing but kind and loving as they raised her. She couldn’t yet determine if they knew anything about her past. When magic was at play, the intention of muggles could be easily intercepted and redirected. And while she fell into a comfortable routine with a beautiful witch and bonded with her family, Hermione allowed the Grangers to believe she was at school unable to come home due to resources. She found herself unready to confront them without further information, but it would be wrong to forget them entirely. She resolved that she would find them a nice present for the holidays in addition to paying for her own tuition in the spring. It didn’t fix the nagging feeling of guilt, but she knew rationally it was the best decision to make considering the lack of information available to her.

Chapter Text

Hermione could not have imagined how Malfoy Manor would buzz with joy and excitement. It wasn’t that the family hadn’t been warm and welcoming to her. They had been so, and more. But the house’s severe architecture screamed of old money and tradition. Every stone constructed with the intent to intimidate and insight fear from those with any inkling that they might be inferior. The morning of the annual family shopping trip for Christmas presents, all five inhabitants of the house were up early. Before the older witch slipped out of bed to get ready for the day and while Hermione was still curled comfortably into her side, she whispered,

“Are you awake, love?”

“Mmhmm. Why?”

“We should get up soon. My sister likes an early start. And as this is the first year in 15 I’ve been here, I fully expect her to be insufferable. If she finds me coming out of your room, we will be teased mercilessly.”

Hermione’s eyes snapped open and she half sat up to make eye contact. Seeing the young girl’s face etched in confusion and fear, she quickly spoke to clarify.

“Narcissa has never seen me so… enamored. She desperately wants us to be bonded. Partially, I think she just wants an excuse to throw a ball in the middle of a war. But she does wish us to be happy.”

Hermione couldn’t think of anything to say that wouldn’t leave her feeling painfully vulnerable. Impulsively, she rolled on top of Bella, straddling her waist. She paused for a moment, taking in the beautiful face that captivated her so. Leaning down, she allowed the length of her torso to melt into the witch below her and delivered a slow intense kiss that ended with her gently biting Bella’s lower lip as she pulled away. Drawing a steadying breath, she buried her face in the creamy white neck kissing the tattoo of the number 93. There was no denying the intense attachment Hermione felt towards Bellatrix. Not a single thing about it was normal. She could barely contain her magic as it tried to reach out and wrap around the dark witch’s. With every passing day, she trusted the death eater more which was beginning to make the physical desire to be with her impossible to ignore. Sleeping in the same bed was comfortable and safe, but most mornings Hermione woke intertwined in soft limbs barely able to control her overwhelming lust. She knew she wasn’t the only one affected. On several occasions when Bellatrix climbed into bed, Hermione saw the dilated pupils as she fought to respect the young witch’s boundaries. Hermione wanted so many things in those moments. She never thought she would crave the sight and feel of skin the way she did for the older witch. The glimpses she’d stolen wouldn’t be enough to last her the week, she needed Bella. Pressing her lips to the earlobe closest to her she whispered,

“It seems your sister and I have yet another thing in common. I want that too. But there are some things I need more urgently.”

Bellatrix groaned, knowing exactly what Hermione was implying. The words caused her self-control to falter. The dark witch never attempted to wait to grow true affection before seducing whatever lovely creature caught her attention. She’d certainly never waited nearly two months after identifying what she wanted. Without warning she flipped them both over, capturing Hermione’s wrists and pinning her securely to the bed. The girl whimpered and squirmed slightly in response.

“You know, Hermione, that will make you mine. Not just today, but forever. I will never let you go.”

Nodding her understanding, the young witch attempted sit up to capture the tempting red lips, but was thwarted by the firm hold on her wrists. She watched with rapt attention as Bella lowered her mouth, kissing along her jaw and down her neck, nipping softly at the delicate skin.

“We don’t have time now, my dear. I won’t allow your first time to be rushed. But the message has been received and I will have you, my sweet,” she whispered against the girl’s lips before kissing her lightly. “Now we really must get up. Make sure to wear something nice. Narcissa and Lucius have the habit of dressing formally on such outings.”

The dark haired witch climbed off her companion and out of bed, throwing a final seductive look over her shoulder as she left to prepare herself for the day. Hermione laid frozen in the bed, attempting to catch her breath. She was at once nervous about going further and thoroughly frustrated by being forced to stop. She shook her head as she attempted to clear her thoughts. Bellatrix was simply intoxicating.


 

Alone in her room, putting on such a formal dress seemed silly, but she was grateful as she reached the bottom of the stairs and saw the very well dressed family gathering for breakfast. On normal days they were an astoundingly attractive group of people. But dressed in expensive fabrics the lot of them looked nothing less than royal. At her arrival, Draco beckoned her to the table. Narcissa immediately fawned over her, beaming proudly at the choice of clothing. Any doubts she initially had about Hermione being able to assimilate to being a wealthy pureblood heiress evaporated with each passing day. The girl would obviously be fine. Her natural tendencies to keep others at arm’s length worked in her favor and in combination with her impending association with the lieutenant of the Dark Lord ensured her acceptance.

Throughout the bountiful seasonal breakfast, happy teasing chatter about gift choices flowed between the family members. They attempted to outdo each other with terrible gift ideas for one another. After Draco listed most of the items found in Zonko’s Joke Shop, threatening to use them on his mother, Lucius playfully scolded his son and ushered the group towards the fireplace to floo to the Leaky Cauldron.

They stepped out one at a time to begin their day of shopping. The Malfoy matriarch was clearly in her element as she informed them of the day’s plans.

“We will meet back here at noon to have lunch as a family,” she said, looking meaningfully at Draco until he ducked his head in agreement. “Draco and Hermione, you two will go together. And then after lunch, Hermione will come with me.” The authority of the blonde’s words were simply not questioned. Lucius smirked in response to his wife’s orders and offered his arm to her. Before turning to follow her sister, Bellatrix took Hermione and leaned in to say quietly,

“If there is any trouble, do not be afraid to use your wand and use what I taught you. Based on the past few days, I think I will be able to feel if you are in danger, but I will worry less if I know you will defend yourself.”

“I’ll be alright, Bella,” she replied gently, pressing a kiss to her cheek.

Draco pulled her away from his aunt, chuckling under his breath. The two witches were lovely together, but they would spend all day absorbed in the sweetness between them if permitted to do so. And there was simply too much to do. Such a shopping expedition would be hurried on the best day, but so close to Christmas all of the stores were sure to be crowded.

“Draco, I have a favor to ask,” she began cautiously.

“Ok, what is it then, ‘Mione? Why do you sound so nervous?”

“I need to do something for my parents… the Granger’s for Christmas. I know I haven’t spoken much about them. I don’t even know how Bella would feel about them, but I love them. They raised me, you know? I can’t just walk away without saying anything.”

“Woah. Slow down, Hermione. This has been bothering you lately, then?”

Hermione’s eyes widened in recognition as she silently nodded.

“First of all, I don’t think any of us expect you to forget your past nor do we expect you to forget ours. While I don’t understand Muggle culture, I respect you enough to understand your affection for those that raised you. And of course I will help you with that today. But I must urge you to talk to my aunt. I can’t speak for how she feels about non-magical muggles. Until we understand their full involvement in your early years, I hope you will be cautious.”

Hermione breathed deeply, taking in the information.

“From what my father has said, the Dark Lord is committing significant resources aside from my family to discover what happened. His resources are… considerable. And I don’t believe there have been many instances in which he has not gotten the information he wanted. It’s only a matter of time. But until then, don’t make any huge decisions. Our Lord treats his people well, and while you’ve made no oath, your association with my aunt stands in proxy.”

“Then I take it you believe I am silly for not just talking to you about it?”

“Well, now that you bring it up. No, Ms. MacCarthy, I simply don’t believe you have to do everything alone any more. We might just surprise you.”

“You all do every day.”

“No need to go for my ego. I am well aware of how amazing I am. What is it that we need to do?”

“I want to go to Gringotts to the MacCarthy vaults. I want to pay for Hogwarts from my account instead of the Grangers and get out enough for Christmas and the spring semester.”

Draco turned dramatically in his best impression of his father’s haughty posture and offered his arm to lead her towards the bank.


 

The trip to the bank was uneventful, except for Hermione’s reaction to seeing her vault in person. While she believed the extent of her inherited wealth, seeing it was quite different. She understood now why Narcissa insisted she could have absolutely anything she wanted. After ensuring her tuition would no longer come from the Granger’s account, they went to Eeylop’s Owl Emporium so that she could send a letter wishing them a Happy Christmas and send them a basket of Christmas oranges. While she could afford elaborate presents, she wanted to speak to them in person to explain everything that had gone on. Explaining via owl just wouldn’t do. She hoped there might be enough answers and time to visit them before she returned to school in January. She desperately hoped to find a balance between her past and future, however tenuous the situation seemed to be. These polar opposite parts of her threatened to pull her apart without the stability supplied by Draco and his family. She resolved she would not forget the Grangers this Christmas and she would miss them, but she had missed out on 18 years of knowing what her life could have been. And she had the golden opportunity to get a crash course, which she could not afford to pass up. She knew the wizarding world was on the brink of war, and she would have to choose a side. The Malfoy’s took her into their lives with an openness no one else had offered. Siding against them seemed inconceivable without the existence of her bond with Bellatrix. She was quite certain opposing Bellatrix would break her heart.

Chapter Text

Stepping back out into the snowy lane after having sent a simple note and present to the Grangers, Hermione felt lighter. She knew finding a middle ground would at times be difficult, but being true to herself would always be worth it. Draco noted her improved mood and knew that they could now participate in his family’s tradition.

“Draco, I feel like there are rules about Christmas at your house that I know nothing about.”

“You mean aside from all coming shopping together?”

“Yes, Draco. I believe that much is obvious,” Hermione said rolling her eyes. It seemed her friend was ready for a bit of fun after the serious start to their day.

“Well it’s pretty simple, really. We each buy each other one present. It can be more than one object, but the goal isn’t to spend the most amount of money. We can have anything we want at anytime. For us it is about caring enough to pick out something we know will be special. It can get rather silly at times.”

“Ok, then where do we begin?”

“I think with my father. Do you have any ideas where you might want to shop for him?”


 

By the end of the morning, Draco and Hermione had scoured the stores searching for presents for everyone but each other. They’d run into a number of schoolmates and professors. Each time Draco intercepted anyone who tried to get too close to Hermione. She noted that his aunt had clearly charged him with her protection. The only one who seemed confused at the two walking and chatting together as friends was Professor McGonagall.

Hermione felt the stare of the professor as she and Draco browsed through Quality Quidditch Supplies. Even though the professor stood in the alleyway, her presence drew Hermione’s attention. As she caught her professor’s eye, she saw a myriad of emotions flit across her face. Fear, confusion, betrayal and anger. The strength of the emotions she saw confused Hermione. They hadn’t ever had a close relationship, not that she had with anyone but the Malfoy and Black families. McGonagall was usually too focused on the female member of the Golden Trio, Lavender Brown, to notice Hermione. She neither sought nor desired the attention, so why the professor would be staring at her in such a way was baffling.

Before Hermione could decide if she should confront the woman, Draco pulled at her sleeve to get her attention. They were nearly late to lunch. It seemed that the entire family feared Narcissa’s wrath over tardiness. Hermione found herself being vaguely interested in what kind of severe reaction the blonde matriarch had that caused two Death Eaters and her own son to worry so much. This, however, would not be the day that Hermione discovered why the family feared Narcissa’s reactions.

Hermione and Draco stepped inside the Leaky Cauldron, just as a large clock chimed twelve. They quickly found Narcissa, Lucius, and Bellatrix and settled in for a pleasant lunch.


 

In the afternoon, true to her word, Narcissa monopolized Hermione’s time. They went first to Twilfitt and Tatting’s. The blonde witch immediately set about picking out formal gowns and holding them up to Hermione. She tilted her head to ascertain if they were worth trying on.

“We must find you something nice for Christmas dear and for the New Year’s ball.”

“I’m sorry, but what ball?”

“The annual Malfoy New Year’s ball. It’s the social event of the season, of course. And you, my dear, will be the talk of the party. The discovery of your heritage has been all the society women have been able to talk about for months. And as your mentor and friend, it is my job to make sure that you look absolutely stunning. There will be other benefits as well, I believe my sister will be quite pleased.”

Hermione blushed at the comment about Bellatrix, but there was no point in denying it. Narcissa had seen them in too many private moments.

“Then I am at your mercy. Make me presentable,” Hermione said. She wondered exactly how far she would go for Bella. She felt as though she was constantly stepping outside her comfort zone, but any time she became overwhelmed Bellatrix was there to put her back together.

Narcissa seemed pleased by the compliance of the young witch and began handing dresses to the shopkeeper. After selecting no less than fifteen, she escorted the young witch to the dressing rooms, insisting that she try each one on. After nearly two hours of scrutiny two gowns were selected. The silver gown for Christmas would glitter in the candlelight, according to the older witch, making her glow. Bellatrix would no doubt find her rather distracting in such a dress. The black dress for the ball was far more revealing. Though the dress reached the ground, a slit up the font approached the top of her thigh, showing a significant amount of skin when she walked. The top of the dress clung tightly to Hermione’s form. Black strips of fabric crossed her body diagonally from right to left baring one shoulder and a large portion of her stomach. Hermione had been most hesitant about this dress. For all of her hesitance, Narcissa was completely certain. While slowly raking her eyes over the girl’s form, she circled much in the way Bellatrix did. Every predatory movement caused shivers down Hermione’s body. The blonde witch ran a single finger down the outline of her spine, commenting that the color was Bellatrix’s favorite and that the dress would make a clear statement about her status and chosen associations. The comments and manner of the older witch suggested that there was no room for argument.

Throughout the entire exchange, Hermione concluded that seduction must be written on the DNA of the Black sisters. They shared so many characteristics and mannerisms that from time to time she felt herself being drawn into the youngest of the three just as she was the oldest. Without the depth of the connection she felt for Bella, she was able to shake the thoughts more easily. But she found herself wondering if in another lifetime it would have been Narcissa’s bed she sought to find herself in.


 

With only a few days before Christmas, Hermione still lacked two gifts for the family. She knew that the tradition to buy gifts was important to the Malfoy family, she just couldn’t find anything suitable for Narcissa and Bellatrix. She wanted her gift to the blonde sister to express her deep gratitude for the kindness and acceptance she offered over the last few months. She felt privileged to be introduced to pureblood society with the socialite’s guidance. It made the intimidating mass introduction for New Years seem much less risky.

And Bellatrix was not the sort of witch one could just buy a trinket for. Hermione wanted the first present she ever gave to be something special, something no one else could give the dark witch. Going back to a conventional shopping area was out of the question. It was obvious that Bella didn’t think it was safe for her to go alone. And she didn’t want to ask anyone to go with her. They were all busy and she found the pressure of searching for something deeply personal to give to the beautiful witch suffocating in the presence of another.

During her days at Timoleague, she had begun searching through the rooms of the castle. The more time she spent there, the less she felt like an outsider rifling through others’ things. She started to think of it as a museum of her history. She still had much to learn about who she was, but she wanted to give something to Bella that was imbued with her history. And she was certain that there would be something in the house that would suffice.

Her first stop was in the library. She knew what she should give Narcissa. A few days earlier she had seen a beautiful old book that she suspected her friend would very much enjoy. She knew of Narcissa’s love of magical medicine and ancient magics. This volume seemed very old and Hermione hadn’t ever seen anything like it. She hoped it was as rare as it looked. Though she’d started feeling a level of attachment towards Narcissa, she wasn’t comfortable putting words to her emotions. She hoped that the carefully chosen book would express her gratitude in language that the blonde would know and understand.

Finding something for Bellatrix was far more of a challenge. She wandered from room to room racking her brain for something that would be appropriate for the lovely witch. What kind of gift said “I want you to seduce me. Oh and by the way, we are fated for one another, so I really hope we get along?” After close to 3 hours of going through rooms, she found herself sitting in front of a dressing mirror. On an impulse, she began opening the drawers. To her great surprise they were filled with jewelry. She decided it would always strike her as odd to have such beautiful things so carelessly stored as though they were of little value. As with all things, monetary value was relative. She’d never seen these kinds of jewels in person. It dawned on her that they likely belonged to her mother. She took each one out and looked at it carefully. Something expensive wouldn’t do. Bellatrix would wear large jewels if she wanted, but she never did.

At nearly the bottom of the drawer, she drew out a heavy silver necklace. The long silver chain terminated in an elaborate silver locket. There was no picture inside, as though it was just waiting for one to be placed there. The opposite side was polished to reflect the face of the person looking at the picture so that the two would be seen together. She turned it over in her hand to look at the back. Engraved in delicate script was the phrase “Is tú mo sonuachar.” The chaos of the approaching holiday had prevented her from studying the ancient language.

“Ailbe,” Hermione called.

At once the elf appeared with an eager look. It was rare that her young mistress asked for anything, and she longed for the opportunity to impress her.

“I was hoping you could help me with something. Can you read ancient Gaeltacht? I’ve started learning, but I don’t recognize this.”

“Ailbe can read it, Miss,” she said reaching towards the outstretched locket. She let out a small gasp. “It says ‘You are my soulmate’ at least that is the closest term I know. But it is both a romantic and a magical bond. It runs in your blood, Miss. Your parents were sonuachar.”

“Is it a charmed object?”

“Yes, Miss. When given as a gift within a sonuachar, the image of the giver appears in the locket. It’s one of the ways to test the validity of the bond.”

“Thank you, Ailbe. You’ve been most helpful.”

Hermione stowed the necklace safely in the pockets in her robes. She surprisingly felt no anxiety at giving the jewelry to Bellatrix. Everything she read pointed to their bond, nothing indicated that there might be something amiss. And it was simply beautiful. She found herself at peace knowing that she’d found something worthy of her witch.

Chapter Text

Hermione woke up on Christmas Eve expecting to have day like those that preceded it. She intended to get up and go back to her castle. Bella roused early, she presumed to go attend to the Dark Lord’s business. Hermione had been too asleep when the dark witch kissed her on the forehead to even think about asking where she was going. The sun was halfway up the sky by the time Hermione made her way downstairs to get something to eat before she left. On her way down the stairs, she met Draco who insisted she come have a late breakfast with he and his mother. Not being in any particular hurry, she agreed. The castle would still be there in an hour, and witty banter before noon was one of her favorite pastimes with her blonde friends.

“So nice of you to join the living, Miss MacCarthy,” Narcissa uttered in a formal tone, a parody of her public self.

Catching the underlying humor, Hermione smoothly replied, “Madame Malfoy, a pleasure as always to see you well. You look ravishing. Where did you purchase your dress? It’s simply magnificent.”

“You may survive the New Year’s ball after all. Your impersonation of a socialite is really coming along. But you must attempt to not roll your eyes,” the older witch said in a serious tone, but the twinkle in her eyes suggested the game was still afoot.

“I hate to interrupt your fun, ladies, but Hermione what were you planning on doing today,” Draco asked as he poured tea for them both.

“Nothing special really. I was just planning on returning to Timoleague and reading or exploring.”

“I don’t mean to deter you, but I wondered if you’d stay. I fancy a duel.”

“Draco… I don’t know. Without Bella here?”

“Oh you are scared then? I understand you don’t see how you can best me. You needn’t hide behind my aunt if you are afraid to duel me. You can simply tell me. I know how pureblood women are… fragile things,” he replied tauntingly. He learned quickly how to get a rise out of the young woman. Her years of fighting for respect due to her believed blood status made her defensive about her magical abilities and knowledge.

“You know I am not afraid of you, blondie. It’s the protective curly headed Death Eater that worries me. She had you acting as guard dog while we were just shopping.”

“I can deal with my sister,” Narcissa interjected. “I am just as capable of playing referee and healer as she is. I’m actually a much better healer. She’s never been patient enough to learn properly. She has… other strengths.”

Slightly perplexed at the Malfoy’s insistence that she stay and play war, Hermione agreed. Not dressed to play in the snow, the three went their separate ways to change. Hermione decided that if she was going to be challenged so openly that she would dress for it. From her ever-growing closet she selected a flexible pair of dark wash jeans. They would be comfortable and easy to move in. She was still getting accustomed to the dresses and other outfits Narcissa picked out for her. For footwear she selected her current favorite pair of soft black leather boots that came up to just below her knee. Pulling on a solid black shirt and a thick black cloak she took in her appearance in the mirror. Pulling her hair into a bun to keep it out of her face, she decided she looked fierce enough to throw Draco off.

Little did he know how much she had been practicing. When she wasn’t reading, she practiced the dueling spells Bella taught her over and over again. While the older witch was impressed with her first performance, Hermione was a bit disappointed. She didn’t like the feeling of not being the best. When she talked with Bella about it later, the witch had told her that there was too much thinking and not enough feeling in her magic. In order to be the best she needed to channel her emotions and let it just flow through her. She knew the spells and they would come faster and with more strength if she just let go. Turning on her heel she swept down the stairs to the veranda exit from the house. Doing her best impression of Bellatrix’s confident walk, she approached the mother and son. Draco’s eyes widened before his face settled into a smirk. Narcissa took in her appearance more slowly, until she met the girl’s eyes. Nodding her approval of the outfit, she ushered the teenagers outside into the crunchy white snow.

Hermione cast a quick spell to keep her jeans and shirt dry before discarding the robe, knowing it would inhibit movement. Wand in hand Narcissa led them into the gardens, warning them,

“I expect you to duel by the same rules as you did with my sister, only I actually plan on enforcing them. Oh, I expect proper etiquette.”

Hermione and Draco made eye contact before sharing a smile and sinking into dramatically low bows, acquiescing to the matriarch’s request. With Narcissa’s command to begin, Draco immediately threw a volley of spells. Clearing her mind, Hermione smoothly deflected each one. She fired off a spell to land just in front of Draco’s feet making him jump and run to find something to use as a shield. Looking vaguely bored she followed confidently after him. She couldn’t see the spell, but blocked the stupefy spell before her brain fully processed what her wand did. Annoyed by the indirect attack, she blew apart the hedge Draco was hiding behind and hit him with a locomotor mortis, freezing his legs. A quick expelliarmus later, Draco’s 10’ hawthorn wood wand was in her left hand with her wand still pointed her direction. Breathlessly Draco shouted

“Oi, Hermione when did you get so good? You had my number from the beginning. It was like fighting my aunt.”

“I’ve been practicing. And yes, emulating your aunt.”

“I was under the impression that your dueling skills were not this advanced,” Narcissa interrupted. “There were several moments you had the opportunity to do real damage. Perhaps instead of beating up on my precious little Draco,” she continued, teasing the boy for his quick defeat, “you should duel with someone a bit closer to your level.”

“Do you have someone in mind?” Hermione replied playfully. Narcissa’s intent to make up for Draco’s missteps in the duel were written all over her beautiful face, but Hermione couldn’t resist teasing her just a bit. She had no idea what skill level she would be facing and any physiological advantage she could gain would be important.

“In spite of the wide spread rumors that I am nothing more that a well kept housewife, I assure you I have considerable skills.”

“Alright then, let’s see what you’ve got,” Hermione said intentionally impersonating Bellatrix’s taunting childish voice she was so famous for during battle.

“Mum, are you certain there isn’t polyjuice involved. She is dead on for Aunt Bella.”

“I am confident Hermione is simply a master at mimicking my sister. They have been thicker than thieves the past few weeks.” Turning to Hermione she stalked towards her “But you’ve never really fought her have you? Let’s see how you do against someone with full control over their powers.”

Like with Draco, Hermione allowed Narcissa to make the first advance to gauge the power of her spells. She deflected the first two quickly enough to get one of her own in. Hermione began to gain ground. As she prepared to disarm the blonde, Narcissa hit her with a strong stupefy sending her sprawling backwards. Groaning at the overconfidence of her plan, she rolled over to pick herself up quickly.

For the better part of half an hour Hermione kept Narcissa at bay and even managed to hit her, but eventually she was backed in a corner and the blonde obtained her wand.

Seemingly pleased with the performance of the young witch, Narcissa handed her wand back. The rest of the morning, Narcissa continued the lessons where Bellatrix left off. Draco and Hermione faced off again for the last practice duel of the day. Hermione was much more exhausted than the Slytherin. She fought every match without a break, as the two blondes switched back and forth.

Bellatrix and Lucius stepped out on the veranda to witness the last round of spells being exchanged between the two teens. Judging from body language, Draco thought he had the victory within his grasp as he strode towards Hermione who attempted to right herself after falling to the ground. He paused just long enough to verbally taunt the young witch. With a small flick of her wrist his wand jumped silently into her waiting hands.

Walking down to meet the panting red-faced teens, Bella clapped slowly.

“I see you’ve lost to my favorite pupil, nephew.”

“But I thought I was your favorite?” he replied whining falsely.

“That’s actually the 4th loss for him today,” Hermione said smiling brightly. Leaning in conspiratorially she continued, “Your noble sister even found herself disarmed by my wand a time or two.”

“And you question who is my favorite, Draco?”

“It’s just because you want to snog her!” he quickly replied while dodging the playful slap aimed at his shoulder.

“Come children,” Lucius said playfully to the other four, “it’s lunch time.”


 

The family spent the afternoon lounging in the library indulging in each other’s company, tea, and wine. It was just another wonderful day in the company of Hermione’s new friends.

After the sun sank below the horizon, the group hovered on the brink of going their separate ways for the evening. Before the group dispersed, Narcissa said,

“I want to talk about plans for tomorrow, since Hermione doesn’t know our traditions yet, and Bella, they have changed over the last fifteen years. We will have a lazy morning and afternoon. Do as you please. We will have our Christmas dinner at seven and will open presents afterwards. Everyone clear?”

Two blonde heads and two brunette heads bobbed in agreement before the groups floated away for a pleasant night nestled beneath warm blankets to fight off the December cold.

Chapter Text

As the hours of Christmas Eve dwindled to the early hours of Christmas, a fresh blanket of snow fell. Peace and silence swaddled Malfoy Manor as the inhabitants rested securely enveloped in a love few in the magical world believed them capable of feeling. The bright sun bounced off the sparkling white drifts illuminating Hermione’s face. She woke tranquilly, stretching out her arms to touch the warm body beside her before even opening her eyes. Finding nothing with her fingertips she sat up in confusion and frustration. Of all mornings, she hoped to wake up snuggled into the mane of curls. Upon finally opening her eyes she saw a bundle of clothes tied with a satin black ribbon. On top rested a piece of parchment

Hermione,

I can only imagine how upset you were to find me not in bed. Patience and trust. Below this letter is my first Christmas gift for you. Dress in it and come find me in your family’s castle.

I will be waiting,

B

What was the witch up to? Looking carefully at the note, Hermione realized all of the sweet notes she received throughout November and December were by the same hand. She had known the script looked familiar when Narcissa commented on it. How long exactly had Bellatrix been pursuing her? Not that she minded, the dark witch’s affections however forward made every cell in her body tingle.

Unable to contain her excitement she unwrapped the gift. The satin green dress felt amazing against the skin of her hands. With it was the sexiest set of under things she had ever seen. She blushed realizing Bella’s intent. No one purchased lingerie and hoped not to see it. She hopped off the bed in a rush to get ready. Before she left for Timoleague, she took a long look in the mirror. The dress suited her perfectly and she wondered briefly which of the sisters had selected it. Satisfied with the curls framing her face, she went downstairs to floo out.

As she approached the fireplace, she wrung her hands in anxiety. She had never felt such wanting, but it didn’t mean she wasn’t nervous. As if on queue, Narcissa rounded a corner and smiled warmly.

“Don’t be nervous. You are meant to be together,” she said kissing her cheek. The closeness of the family could be unnerving at times, but the gentle reassurance solidified Hermione’s resolve as she collected floo powder in her hand and closed her eyes.

Stepping out of the green light, her eyes struggled to adjust to the throne room. Nothing was as she left it. Dark fragment pine boughs draped across the fireplace. They were wrapped with gold ribbon and illuminated with candles. The ceiling had been enchanted like the Great Hall at Hogwarts. The floating candles glowed dreamily. At the far end of the hall stood a Christmas tree similarly decorated and sitting just behind a candle lit table. The familiar form of Bellatrix Black emerged from behind it beckoning the young witch forward. As if pulled by a magnet, Hermione found herself wrapped tightly in strong arms.

“Happy Christmas, my love. Come. Let’s have breakfast,” she said ushering her into a chair opposite herself.

“Happy Christmas. Bella, this is beautiful.” Reaching for her flute of champagne, Hermione noted the lack of silverware. Lifting her eyes in question, she found a half of a ripe strawberry held deliciously between ruby red lips. The dark eyes spoke a silent invitation and soft hands drew her face forward. During the brief touch, the fruit was transferred between their lips. In spite of the chastity of the contact fiery lust burned through Hermione.

Playfully they fed each other, punctuating their interactions with emboldened touches and lingering kisses. When some of their hungers were sated, Bellatrix pulled Hermione up and into her arms. With a flick of her wand, an easy rhythmic song filled the air. Placing one hand on her hip, the older witch led her around the room in a slow close dance. The twinkling of the lights, the scent of candles and pine drew Hermione into a world where nothing could matter except the woman whose body she sank into.

Bellatrix spun them under an archway with a sprig of mistletoe hanging down. It regarded them as if its sole purpose was to capture any lingering fears of loneliness. Purposefully, she captured Hermione’s lips in a slow passionate kiss. Eyes still closed she whispered against the soft pink lips,

“Fall in love with me this Christmas, I’ll be all you need. I want something that lasts forever.”

The gentle demand coaxed a whimper out of the young throat followed by a devouring kiss initiated by the Ravenclaw. As though she already knew every step to the elaborate dance that was this relationship, Hermione said huskily,

“I’m here. I’m yours for the taking.”

“Soon. Very soon,” Bellatrix practically growled, “First I must show you the rest of your present.” Ending the impromptu dance and taking the young woman’s hand, she led her up the staircase and into one of the bedrooms.

Hermione knew she’d been in the room before. She had wandered for hours through all of the rooms quite literally looking to find herself. But the room was not like any of the others. It was perfectly clean and decorated in rich jewel tones. Swathed in deep green, blue and black satin that warmed the coldness of the white stone masonry. A beautiful black wood four-poster bed sat in the middle of the room, draped with curtains to keep in the style of the medieval edifice. A fire roared in a fireplace decorated similarly to those on the first floor.

Bellatrix paused at the door allowing Hermione to take in the redecorating she’d done and watched as the girl naturally followed the path of rose petals towards the bed.

“It’s beautiful. When could you have had the time for all this?”

“Well you see… yesterday morning when you were gallivanting around playing war with my sister and nephew…”

“As I recall it I was kicking their arses,” Hermione interrupted.

“That you were,” she responded chuckling darkly. She pulled the girl’s body flush against her own before continuing, “They may have detained you at my request so that Lucius and I would have time for all of this. I know you haven’t decided where you will live someday, but I hope that this helps to make this castle feel more like yours.”

“The room reminds me of you, how could it not feel like home?” Hermione said without thinking. She opened her mouth to backtrack, but was stopped by a gentle finger on her lips.

“I had other motives,” she said flirtatiously.

“And they are…” the young witch said knowing the answer, but longing to hear it tumble out of the extremely kissable lips that hovered so close and yet so out of reach.

“I didn’t want my sister within earshot. I plan on hearing my name said over and over again, I don’t imagine it would have been much of a Christmas present to her.” Throughout the last sentence the dark witch had walked them carefully backwards towards the bed. She delicately removed the robe that partially obscured the beautiful dress she’d spent hours picking. As she gently drug her fingers down the girl’s curves,

“This looks as lovely on you as I had hoped.”

Hermione blushed, drawing Bellatrix’s hand up and flipping it over before pressing a warm wet kiss to her open palm. Burying her hands in the soft dark curls, Hermione kissed the prominent cheekbones and down the jaw to the soft white neck. She dragged her teeth teasingly across the tender skin. The gentle prodding coaxed a throaty moan from the older witch, propelling her into motion.

In one swift movement, Bellatrix had the dress pooled at their feet. Taking a half step back, she took in the delightful sight of the girl. She was pleased that every single article of her present was accounted for. From the stilettos to the stockings held up by a garter belt to the black lace bra and panty set. Reverently stroking the taut stomach muscles, she delighted at the feeling of them tense under her touch. Not quite willing to give up her delightful view, she propelled the girl onto the bed and watched her glide backwards never losing eye contact.

“Some have said that I like playing with my food… before I eat it,” Bellatrix said as she slowly crawled to hover the young witch. She gently ran her hands over every inch of exposed skin, mapping with her fingers the complexities of the young woman beneath her. After only a few minutes of being bathed in the dark witch’s attention, Hermione was unable to keep her body still. The feeling of the powerful hands handle her as though she belonged to them was making her come undone.

“Please, Bella. Please.”

“Please, what darling?”

The blush from Hermione’s face spread steadily down her neck and onto her chest. Set on driving the young witch to distraction, Bellatrix lowered her thigh between the open legs applying a tormenting amount of pressure to her core. The girl bucked hard against her letting out a keening moan.

“I need you. Please please make me yours.”

“You’ve been mine all along, but I will take you all the same.” No one had ever offered themself to Bellatrix without fear or hatred. Bella had never been afraid to take what she wanted, but this time… this time she didn’t have to take. She knew that over the next few hours everything would change. The bond they felt would solidify with or without magic. She suspected they would never be able to live happily without the other at their side. The feeling of Hermione grinding solidly against her leg spurred her finally into the action she’d been fantasizing about.

Pressing her knee solidly into the beautiful creature beneath her, she delicately unlaced the corset of her dress slowly allowing it to fall open. She bathed in the reaction of dilating pupils and a tongue sneaking out to unconsciously lick suddenly dry lips. Tugging urgently she pulled the skirt up and over her head.

Hermione gasped at the entirely bare witch situated above her. Running a hand fondly down her neck and over the plane of her sternum, she froze just above the pale breast. Sensing her hesitation, Bellatrix interwove their fingers and slid them over her own sensitive nipple. The older witch hadn’t expected the jolt of sexual energy to flow through her at such a hasty rate. Slowly loving her witch might not be possible at this rate. The girl’s fingers curled around the stiff nub and tugged gently causing the dark witch to moan loudly.

While the dark witch wanted her lover to be comfortable and desire her, she was not prepared to surrender control. She stopped the wandering hands with a sound and consuming kiss. With her own hands she blazed a path of fire down the young lithe body. She paused to massage lace-covered flesh eliciting the most delicious set of sounds she’d ever heard. She deftly removed the inconvenient piece of fabric and kissed her way down the long neck. She ran her teeth along the length of the clavicle, nipping playfully before dipping her head down to capture a hardened nipple in her mouth. With her other hand she gently rolled and tugged its twin attempting to find the most delicious reactions. As she laved attention on the girl’s chest, the small body began to tremble in desire. Taking pity on the girl she ran her hand gently down between her legs, dragging her hands through copious wetness that had soaked through the barely there panties. The confirmation of the young witch’s arousal caused her to sigh “Oh, Hermione,” hotly in her ear.

Bellatrix continued to tease mewling sounds from the girl with each gentle touch never quite giving Hermione what she needed. The young witch could take no more and the sodden lace was getting in her way. Focusing as much of her energy as the woman above her would allow she moaned a quick divesto under her breath banishing the problematic fabric.

Taken back again at the girl’s forwardness, Bellatrix ran her long fingers along the length of her. Pressing her thumb in gentle circles around the girl’s clit she slowly dipped a single digit inside the girl. Judging from the thrashing limbs, the slight pain from being a virgin didn’t hold a candle to the overwhelming seduction. In time with her panting breaths, Hermione began chanting her name over and over in a constant plea for more.

Feeling the girl’s walls clench and release her finger, she carefully slipped in another finger, causing the girl to sit up into her arms. Hermione clung to Bellatrix’s neck, burying her face in the curly hair and powerfully driving her hips down into the older witch’s fingers. As her hips began to lose all sense of rhythm, Bella curled her fingers knowing within seconds her witch would come undone. True to form, she felt the waves of pleasure crash through the woman in her arms as she struggled to retain her breath. The desperate movements stilled as Hermione’s limp body sagged against Bellatrix.

She laid the girl carefully down, pulling her close to her body. She brought her still wet fingers to her mouth cleaning them thoroughly. The amber eyes of the girl burned into her, laying plain for her lover.

“Is it always so amazing” Hermione asked finally find her voice.

“It is with me.”

Chuckling at the pompous reply, Hermione rolled on top.

“May I… have you?” Hermione asked earnestly. The dark witch nodded not wanting to break whatever spell the young women cast over her. She kissed each millimeter of bare skin, worshipping the goddess beneath her. She discovered sensitive spots that caused the nails on her back to scratch down deliciously, egging her on.

Driven by the overwhelming desire to please the witch and watch her crumble at her hands, she kissed down the firm stomach stopping only to gaze mischievously up at her. The look alone earned a throaty moan, which in turn caused her to lower her head. She hovered above the apex of the woman’s thighs taking in the intoxicating scent. Rationally she understood, she had no experience with women (or anyone else for that matter), but she felt a pull drawing her on. She wondered if it could be her bond with Bella or if lust drove all couples in such a moment. Tentatively reaching her tongue out she ran it slowly along the length of soft wet flesh. Bellatrix tangled her fingers in the brown hair silently urging her on. Taking the hint Hermione wound her tongue through the folds collecting every drop of moisture, seeking out the most responsive locations. Discovering the bundle of nerves she sucked it experimentally into her mouth, causing the legs on either side of her head to tremble. She tenderly bit down and felt Bella’s body tense with pleasure before she relaxed into the bed.

The dark witch tugged at the hair still in her hands indicating that she wanted the girl to climb up her body. Hermione deposited herself against the still slightly shaking beautiful body, dropping her head on a shoulder. Sleepily Hermione ran her fingers up and down the beautiful breasts as the slightly sweating pair drifted off.

Chapter Text

Hermione and Bellatrix luxuriated in a world of touch and feeling. They mapped each other’s bodies with lips, tongue, teeth, and fingertips until they discovered every inch of imperfect perfection. The afternoon sun burned brightly, reminding the sated pair of the impending need to depart for the evening’s festivities. Reveling in their last few moments of privacy, Hermione laid half on top of the older witch while fingers ran gently through her curls. Lazily she ran her fingertips over the dark mark on the left arm of her lover. She slowly traced its length.

"You can ask me whatever you want, you know? You are thinking so loudly I can nearly hear it."

"You could just read my thoughts," the girl replied nervously.

"You're right. I could, but it would be better if you told me. I can make it worth your while," she added flirtatiously.

"What more could you possibly do to me?"

"You've barely even scraped the surface of my... capabilities."

Hermione closed her eyes in an attempt to control the butterflies set off in her stomach by the mere idea of the woman's hands on her body. "I'm just a little confused," she began. Bellatrix's face darkened at the possibility of rejection. Noting the look, Hermione continued quickly, intertwining their fingers.

"No. I am not confused about this. This is the only thing in my life to feel... right. What I can't wrap my head around is you," she said, affectionately running her open hand down the bare chest in front of her. "You are open, kind, and loving towards me, this" she continued pointing to the dark mark. "This is not earned by those traits. Not to mention your reputation. Pardon from previous crimes aside, you are the most feared witch in Great Britain."

Bellatrix laughed darkly. "How do I begin to respond to such lovely compliments?" she asked rhetorically. "My reputation is well earned. I never denied any of the charges against me. I am intentionally ruthless in battle. I have killed and driven people mad and laughed afterwards. All of that is who I am. The rest of the world sees me as one dimensional. All Death Eaters have families or lovers or others they care about. We fight; we lead a revolution to protect the ones we love and our way of life." She watched Hermione's eyes closely looking for a reaction.

"Does my darkness frighten you," she purred, nipping roughly at the girl’s earlobe.

Hermione's breath hitched noticeably. "I.. no.. not exactly," she panted in response. Taking the reaction as permission, Bellatrix rolled herself quickly on top. She grabbed the witch’s wrists less than gently and pinned them above her head. Her move earned a guttural moan.

"So if it doesn't frighten you, little one, what does it do?" While asking the question she ground her hips roughly against a bare hipbone.

"I can't think while you are doing that."

"Hmm then perhaps I should tell you what I think you are feeling. Does that seem reasonable?" She ground a knee roughly into the very wet core of the young girl, eliciting a gasp.

"My beautiful witch, I think since the moment you recognized who I am you have lusted after my...reputation. And based on how wet you've made my leg, I'd wager it's only increasing. But perhaps it is your desire you fear."

"Bella, please."

"Please, what?"

"Please please touch me. I need to feel you."

"And how do you want me to touch you? Gently?" The taunting voice and constant grinding stole Hermione's control over her vocal chords. Adamantly she shook her head no, doing her best to convey the full depth of her desire.

Satisfied with the wanton look of need on the girl’s face, Bella magically bound the hands in place and drew her nails from neck to thighs causing angry red marks. The girl arched her back in response, offering more of her body for similar treatment. Accepting the invitation, she took a hardened nipple in her mouth and bit down. A scream expressing pleasure and pain intermingled jump-started the girl’s begging. Taking the opposite breast into her mouth, Bellatrix pushed two fingers into her, setting a demanding pace. If the girl wanted the "real" her, it was the “real” her the girl would have. Any concern the dark witch had about the roughness disappeared as the girl’s hips pushed firmly into her hands at each stroke, demanding more. Feeling the girl’s inner walls relax, Bellatrix added a third finger while roughly circling her clit. In a matter of seconds the girl crumbled into release, panting her name hotly.

Bellatrix slid down the witch’s heated body giving her no time to recover and swiftly sucked the bundle of nerves into her mouth, stroking it firmly with her tongue.

“Bella, I can’t. Please,” the girl squeaked, trying to squirm away. The mouth on her clit stilled momentarily and her eyes were held by the dark gaze.

“You can and you will. For me. Because you are mine.” Releasing the bound hands, she allowed them to intertwine in her dark hair. The moment she felt them tighten and pull her closer, she resumed her intimate caress. She felt the young witch tense as the fingers in her hair pull painfully before a wave of release ripped through the body beneath her.


 

Bellatrix and Hermione barely returned to Malfoy Manor with enough time to get ready for Christmas dinner. Hermione bathed as quickly as possible, but had to slow in dressing to apply glamour to a number of well earned love bites and scratches. She was interrupted, while tilting her head to the left to cover the final mark, by her lover who strode confidently to her side. Bellatrix gently ran a finger down the slender neck, appreciating her work before applying the spell herself.

“Come dear, I should escort you downstairs,” she said offering her arm. Hermione eagerly stepped close to the witch and melted into her side.

Downstairs Hermione withstood the appraising eyes of Narcissa. The blonde witch raised her eyebrow as if she saw right through the spells cast to hide the evidence of the intimate activities. Hermione blushed and turned to Bella as though she should be able to rescue them. In turn the older witch chuckled and shrugged her shoulders as if to say there was nothing she could do about her sister’s judgment.

As always the food, drink, and company were excellent. Hermione found herself happier than she could ever remember. Draco practically drug the family into the library where the large Christmas tree sat in front of the fireplace. Bellatrix sat Hermione between herself and her nephew. The young witch watched as the family exchanged gifts happily, basking in the love and joy of just being in their presence. She smiled slyly as Draco and Lucius opened their gifts from her at the same moment. In unison they held up matching Caerphilly Catapults jumpers while the three women burst into giggles at the idea of the Malfoy men wearing matching sweatshirts. Trying to control her mirth Hermione managed to draw their attention to the subtle gold and emerald pens, which were the real present.

Draco insisted that Hermione open his present next. The box contained a revealer, parchment and a secret quill. He playfully bumped her shoulder commenting,

“These are so you can write my aunt Bella all sorts of scandalous notes without the fear of prying eyes while we are at school.”

“Thank you, Nephew. How every thoughtful. What makes you think I won’t be sneaking in to see her every night?”

“Because I won’t permit it,” Narcissa interjected.

“Thank you, Draco,” Hermione said kissing his cheek fondly, hoping to divert the escalating sibling squabble.

Narcissa unwrapped the book Hermione selected out of the library at Timoleague, confirming how rare it was. She promised to share everything she learned with Hermione as soon as possible. In return she gave Hermione a tiara for her to wear on New Years.

Instead of passing his gift around the small semicircle as they had been doing all evening, Lucius stood and hand delivered his present to Hermione. Crouching down he said,

“In my work for the Dark Lord, I found this. We decided that it belonged in your hands. We all deserve evidence of where we came from.”

Hermione tugged the ribbon off the package. As the wrapping fell away, a photograph of an attractive couple holding a toddler smiled back at her.

“You were eighteen months old here.”

Tears fell silently down her face as she collected herself enough to whisper a thank you. Looking at her lover, she realized their gifts were the last two to be exchanged. Narcissa passed the small package to her sister.

“I can’t believe you got me something after this morning. A home was more than I could have ever hoped for.”

“This is just a little something. And it is almost as much for me as you.”

Hermione unwrapped the small package and pulled out a shining silver necklace. Bellatrix took it out of her hands and explained

“This is the Black coat of arms. It can only be put on or removed by a member of the family. To others of our class it will signify that you are mine. That you belong to us.”

In response Hermione turned around and lifted her hair, offering her bare neck to her lover. The delicate necklace draped down her clavicle sparkling in the candlelight. Narcissa caught her eye and gave an approving smile. Hermione took the small package out of the blonde witch’s hands, placing it into Bella’s.

The dark witch quietly opened the package, running her fingers over the locket before opening it. The metal glowed briefly as Hermione’s face appeared inside. Holding back tears, she pulled her young lover close.

“Thank you, this is beautiful.”

“It was my mother’s. An image only appears on the inside when it is exchanged between sonuachar.”

Bellatrix clasped it behind her own neck happy to find that the chain was long enough to nestle the locket inside her corset where it would stay safe. She gently took Hermione’s face in her hands and kissed her slowly, showing every ounce of appreciation she could muster. Narcissa cleared her throat to break the pair apart.

The little family lingered in the candlelight. They told stories of Christmas past and the fun they had as children. They even listened openly when Hermione shared memories of the Grangers, including the year they gave her a dollhouse. Narcissa smiled noting she received one at the same age. The pureblood family didn’t understand, or frankly want to understand, muggle ways, but they did care about Hermione.

Hermione fell asleep on Christmas night resting her head on the shoulder of her lover, rocked to sleep by the deep soothing breaths of the resting witch. She knew everything had changed that day. She had changed.

Chapter Text

The peace and joy of Christmas was quickly eclipsed by turmoil among the Death Eater’s ranks. Hermione unintentionally sparked the panic, by making an off-handed comment about her odd experience in Diagon Alley with the Transfiguration professor. Lucius and Bellatrix immediately apparated away, leaving a very confused Hermione and Narcissa in their wake. The hurt look on the young witch's face caused Narcissa to pull the girl close. For the rest of the afternoon the two stayed quiet, reading books together. Hermione found that the older witch kept her fears of abandonment at bay. She felt no awkwardness laying comfortably against her lover’s younger sister or being held in her protective grasp. On a whole, the Black women were a delicious mystery, which Hermione couldn't help but want to unravel.

Long after the sun had set, Lucius and Bellatrix came home to the sight of their witches sleeping comfortably on the couch together. They gathered their respective witch and led her upstairs, knowing that the days before New Year’s would be more trying than any previous year.

The five members of the household were awoken at dawn by the house elves at Lucius' request. The family was to meet at an early breakfast to discuss the tasks the Dark Lord expected of them over the next few weeks.

A bedraggled Bellatrix stared lethally at her brother in-law saying,

"We couldn't have at least waited for the sun, Luc?"

"You are a witch, Bella, not a vampire. A single early morning won't damage you."

Under her breath she muttered just loud enough for Hermione to hear, "But it might damage you."

The girl managed to stifle her laughter even after receiving a quick wink from Narcissa. She caught on that it would not be a frivolous light day like Christmas had been. As everyone began eating, Lucius began to lay out the tasks for the day.

"We had a breakthrough yesterday. We knew that there were some powerful members of the Order involved. They have been clever enough to shield themselves from us, so we'd been struggling to find in which direction to point our efforts. But when you described the look McGonagall gave you when she saw you with Draco, it broke our research wide open."

He paused to allow them take in the information, observing Bellatrix leaning towards Hermione to stroke her hair affectionately and whisper in her ear. The girl smiled, nuzzling into the touch.

"Hermione, you will be going with Bellatrix. The Dark Lord would like to meet you. He intended to wait until the ball, but with your safety in danger he moved up his timeline." Seeing her on the verge of bursting out with at least half a dozen questions, he continued without pause, "I cannot tell you more, the Dark Lord wishes to tell you himself."

She nodded her agreement.

"Narcissa and Draco, there is a list of potions and dark arts skills on the table in the library. Draco, you must be proficient before you return to Hogwarts. Much will rely on you." The two blondes agreed with intent looks on their faces. "And I must return to the Ministry for the Dark Lord. "

The room took a collective deep breath. The three eldest faces were set in determination as though they had been preparing for some time for this day to come. Draco beamed with pride at his father's reliance on him. Hermione struggled to keep her face neutral. She hadn't developed a taste for being in the spotlight. She adjusted to the attention lavished on her by the Black sisters, but being summoned by one of the most powerful wizards lay far outside of her comfort zone.

Sensing the young girl’s hesitance, Narcissa excused herself and Hermione under the guise of selecting an appropriate outfit to be seen in for the first time by the Dark Lord. The shaking hand that she enveloped in her own steady hand evidenced how shaken the girl was. Once they were in private, she pulled the girl into a tight hug, holding her until she felt the girl relax a small amount.

“Just keep breathing, Hermione. Everything is ok.”

Instead of responding, the girl buried her face further into the silky blonde locks.

“Hermione?” Bellatrix’s voice burst into the room.

The girl jumped away from the comforting embrace, tensing in fear and staring at the ground as though it were interesting. She missed the Black sisters exchanging a slightly confused look at the girl. Narcissa took a tentative step toward the young witch only to watch her move closer to Bellatrix. The dance continued until Hermione was in the dark witch’s arms. Narcissa pressed herself against the girl’s back slipping her arms between the lovers.

Feeling the panic rise in the girl again, Bellatrix whispered,

“You don’t have to jump away from Cissy when I walk into a room. I would be more surprised if you weren’t more drawn to her now. This necklace,” she pointed to the Christmas present that hung around the girl’s neck, “ties you to the Black line. It’s the same reason why only Cissy and I can remove it. You belong to us, even if you belong with me.”

Hermione moved just enough to see the facial expressions of the sisters, searching for any trace of deception. Satisfied she wasn’t being misled, she relaxed into Narcissa allowing herself to feel surrounded by their embrace. Within a few moments, she was calm enough to consider getting on with the day.

“Now come, little witch. I need to put an outfit together for you,” the blonde witch began again.

Nearly an hour later, Hermione had been dressed and primped by the sisters. Mostly by Narcissa, frankly, as Bellatrix mostly stared at the beautiful women before her. She wasn’t terribly concerned about her own appearance. The Dark Lord had seen her at her worst and still he stood by her side. But she took great joy in the pride Hermione was showing. It pleased the dark witch that her lover was concerned with her appearance and how it would affect whom she associated with.

Narcissa, looking pleased with her work, stepped back to take in the complete effect of Hermione’s presence. She looked both beautiful and deadly. She was fit to stand at her sister’s side. The blonde witch gently kissed the girl’s cheek before guiding her to Bellatrix to apparate away.


 

They landed in a long hall lined entirely with windows on one side. It occurred to Hermione that with the bright sunlight streaming in, it looked a lot like Versailles. Bellatrix smiled and shook her head no, reminding the girl that she could hear her thoughts.

“Stop worrying. If he wants to read your mind, you wouldn’t be able to stop him. We don’t have anything to hide.”

Not trusting her voice, Hermione squeezed the arm she still hadn’t released. She allowed herself to be led into what could only be described as a war room. There were large maps lining the walls and stacks of parchment and books piled on open surfaces. They approached the large executive desk behind which the Dark Lord was seated. Bellatrix bowed, taking Hermione with as they were still holding arms.

“Miss MacCarthy it is a pleasure to finally meet you. Bellatrix has spoken very fondly of you.”

“The pleasure is mine, my Lord.”

The slender man stood to usher them into the chairs opposite him.

“We have a lot to cover in a short amount of time, so you must forgive me. We will have the opportunity to get to know one another at a later time.” He paused to smile, gauging her comfort level. She still seemed on edge, but he proudly watched as his best lieutenant subtly calmed the girl with a simple look.

“Your recent trip to Diagon Alley served most useful to us. We knew that there were a limited number of witches and wizards able to modify memories and adjust birth records, particularly by 21 months. We believe that you were taken from your parent’s castle by members of the Order of the Phoenix the night they were killed in the seven day riots. In order to alter your age, there were a number of documents changed. You were given a British birth certificate with the incorrect date. I’ve sent one of my Death Eaters to retrieve your Irish certificate.”

“My Lord, do you know what caused them to take me?”

“We believe there were several factors. They may have been attempting to divert your inheritance, though these efforts failed. Your family’s reputation for soul bonds and amplified powers is well known. By hiding your identity they hoped to keep you from finding your other half. Do not misunderstand me, Miss MacCarthy, they should fear your union with your sonuacher. Based on your school performance there is reason to believe that once united, you will become formidable in your own right.”

“And the Grangers, sir? What part did they have in this?”

“Tragically, none that we can find. Their memories were altered and they were put under a particularly complex Imperius curse. They truly believe they are your parents.”

“They are innocents in all of this?” she confirmed.

“They are, but I must warn you, I believe that they and you are in grave danger.”

“What? Why, my Lord?”

Sensing the girl losing control, Bellatrix took the girl’s hand firmly in her own, tying her to the present. Hermione relaxed slightly, squeezing the hand back in thanks.

“We are still confirming all of the details, but I believe that Minerva McGonagall was one of the central members of this plot. She reacted to you shopping with young Mister Malfoy because there are few old pureblood families you could bond with. And it seems as though the esteemed professor knows your true identity.”

“Why is it dangerous?”

“The ones who took you from your true home, know what you can become. They’ve kept you isolated all these years so that you never got close enough to anyone to find that you might be capable of bonding. But now the Order will know that you’ve grown close to the Black and Malfoy families, which increases the risk that your power will grow beyond what most of them can match. It won’t take much asking before they discover exactly how close. People so love to gossip.”

“They believe that I can sway the war?”

“They do. The Potter boy is their golden child. And he is something I must deal with, but neither side has dramatically increased in power since the first war. You… you two, I believe, may change that entirely.”

“What of the danger?”

“You and Draco must continue to train to be able to protect yourselves at Hogwarts. The Slytherin house will stand with you, but you must know that Ravenclaw may not be as safe. And you must make a hard decision about the Grangers. I believe that if they stay in England, they will be casualties of war. The Order will stop at nothing to try to stop you from realizing your power. They would have no qualms about two innocents.”

“May I know your advice, my Lord?”

“Erase their memories and send them somewhere safe. Tell no one except for Bella where they are.”

“Thank you.”

“We will have a more leisurely chat after the New Year’s Ball. I advise you to take care of your personal affairs before then. I would hate for tragedy to befall you before we properly begin,” he said, rising to lead them from the room.

After the door closed firmly behind them, Bellatrix took the young witch tightly into her arms, murmuring comforting words as she transported her back to Malfoy Manor before the girl fell apart entirely.

Chapter Text

As soon as her feet touched the stone floor of the fireplace, Hermione slid out of her lover’s arms. The overwhelming news from the Dark Lord hit her hard. She couldn’t emotionally deal with the closeness of anyone, even Bella. She was angrier than she’d ever remembered being in the past. Without thinking she stormed towards the gardens, leaving the dark witch trailing behind. Seeing Narcissa and Draco practicing combat spells, she drew her wand. She needed to feel the rush of blasting off spells. She needed not to think, but just to feel. The two blonde heads snapped in her direction upon hearing the doors bang open. Doing her very best imitation of her lover she growled,

“May I cut in, Cissy?”

Narcissa paused, wondering when she and the girl had gotten familiar on the level of her sister’s pet name, but nodded slightly and stepped aside. Noting the odd behavior, she started to remind the teenagers of the rules of conduct, but she was cut off by Hermione rapidly firing spells at Draco. He managed to deflect them, if just barely. Hoping to catch the fuming witch off guard, he returned with several of the new spells he’d spent the morning learning under his mother’s tutelage. Hermione blocked them as though she’d seen them thousands of times before. Stunned at the failure of his new spells, he let his focus slip for only a moment. Seeing his distraction, Hermione hit him with a strong stupefy, flying him backwards into the hedge. Instead of immediately releasing the spell, she held him a meter above the ground and she stalked towards him.

Narcissa recognized the darkness in the girl’s movements and threw a spell at her feet in an attempt to draw her attention away from Draco. He was a sweet and smart boy, but he was no match for the raw talent of the witch, particularly not when fueled by rage. As the girl rounded, she released her hold on the boy, allowing him to drop unceremoniously to the ground. He prepared to re-enter the fray, but backed away at his mother’s warning look.

Narcissa’s wand hand shook slightly, but she hoped it didn’t show. She had seen this type of magical aggression on a few occasions in her sister’s worst moments. Those days were different and Narcissa had been a fearless teen back then. Bellatrix, even in those dark moments, loved her baby sister above all others. Steeling her nerves, she gripped her wand tighter than before and raised her chin, putting up her haughty mask to hide her nerves. She held her stance, allowing the girl to make the first move, hoping to force her outside of her comfort zone. After blocking two reductos, Narcissa’s fears were confirmed. In the present moment she was out powered and she saw nothing of the sweet young woman who had found her way into her heart. Hermione was blasting her back towards the house with the obvious intent to pin her there. Suddenly Hermione was blown sideways by a powerful spell, her hold and momentum toward Narcissa halted.

“Your anger isn’t with them, Love. If you want to fight, you fight me.”

Hermione spun at the sound of Bellatrix’s voice. “Don’t tell me what to do,” she growled.

“Oh, I see. Afraid you can’t match up to the big bad Death Eater? It’s easy to take on those you know you can beat. But me, Love, you can’t even hope to best me,” the dark witch taunted.

Hermione threw a flipendo jinx trying to throw her lover backwards. Bella’s protego bounced it directly back at her. The young witch flew back several meters from the power of her own spell. The dark witch threw a petrificus totalus binding the girl’s limbs. She glided over to the girl and straddled her hips.

“There are better ways to resolve our differences, little one,” Bellatrix purred in her ear, gripping her tightly and apparating them away. Dropping the girl unceremoniously on the bed, she moved both of their wands to the other side of the room before unbinding her. Hermione jumped up and pushed her witch roughly against the wall.

“How long did you know, Bellatrix? Tell me,” Hermione growled.

“Not significantly longer than you.”

“I don’t believe you. How long?” she ground out while pushing her body flush against her lover, holding the older witch’s hands against the wall behind her.

“We suspected since the day you ran into Cissy in Hogsmeade, but we had no proof... until after the blood test.”

“How did you get to the Ministry’s records so quickly?” Hermione said, slipping her leg with purpose between her lover’s legs and grinding sensuously against her core.

“We didn’t. We did our own before,” the dark witch challenged. “Who do you think put the idea in the Ministry’s head? We had to know. I couldn’t take the risk of a normal courtship. If I developed feelings for you and we were wrong, my world would crumble. I wouldn’t survive another stint in Azkaban.”

“You played with my life, Bella. Everything I’ve ever thought was true was a lie.”

“I didn’t do that, Love. I didn’t take you away from people who would have raised you as a MacCarthy. And I didn’t change your birth date. If I had known, you would have been raised by my sister until I could return. I would never have abandoned you,” she replied fiercely.

Hermione responded by kissing her with such ferocity that it stole the air from both of their lungs. A part of her knew the older witch’s intent was not to hurt her, but it did little to abate her anger. Bellatrix moved her head to bring her mouth gently against the girl’s ear to say huskily,

“There are other ways to feel better than fighting. Take what you need.”

The girl said nothing, choosing to respond instead with her body as she roughly kissed her lover, nipping at her bottom lip just enough to draw blood. Wandlessly she bound her lover against the wall, freeing her hands to roam the delightful body at her disposal. She began to unlace the bodice of the woman’s dress and, after a few moments of fumbling, she ripped the laces away cleanly. She drew her nails down the beautiful torso. Bellatrix moaned at the sensation, arching her back towards her lover.

“You can do better than that, can’t you? You’re angry. Take. What. You. Need,” the older witch barked.

Hermione growled. She tugged the flowing black dress away from her lover’s body, moaning at the dark witch’s propensity not to wear knickers. Without preamble she drove three fingers, hard, into the waiting depths. Bellatrix threw back her head in ecstasy, begging the girl to take her. The young witch obliged the pleas, setting a punishing pace by driving into the witch as hard as she could. She added her thumb, roughly grinding circles into the hard clit. Before Hermione’s muscles began to burn, her older lover shouted her name and every muscle in her body clenched. She released the magical bonds holding the panting woman’s body to the wall, reaching out her arms to catch her.

Instead she was thrown roughly back without magic and her clothes divested. Bella was on her before she had the chance to process the change in position.

“Did you like it, little witch? Did you like controlling me?”

“Yes,” she ground out.

“Do you want me to submit to you all of the time,” she asked teasingly, tilting her head to the side. Hermione turned her head, avoiding eye contact. Bellatrix took the girl’s chin in her hand, forcing her to look her in the eye.

“Tell me, baby. Tell me or I do nothing. I will leave you wanting.”

“No. That isn’t what I want.”

“Then what do you want?” Bellatrix paused, patiently waiting for the girl to find her voice.

“I want you, Bella. All of you. Anything you want.”

“Mmm, well done, pet. Then tell me, little one, to whom do you belong?,” she said, tracing her finger down a bare sternum, never touching where it was most desired. The girl struggled to resist the warm delicious woman taunting her. The dark witch responded by twisting her fingers through the soft warm locks, pulling her head sharply back.

“You. Just you. Oh, please, please.”

“Let go for me,” she purred as she began to dismantle the girl’s defenses to strip her bare.


 

Several rounds of sweaty, passionate, soul penetrating sex later, the two spent witches laid intertwined.

“Bella, we are going to have to get cleaned up and go down to dinner. I owe two of my three favorite blondes an apology.”

“I hope you are prepared for a bit of groveling. Draco will forgive you easily enough, but my sister... she won’t be so compliant.”

“Well if you haven’t noticed, I have quite a way with the Black women,” Hermione said, chuckling and rolling off the bed to get ready. She quickly bathed and dressed, hoping to catch the youngest Black sister before the family gathered for the meal.

Searching through the rooms on the lowest floor the manor, she found the blonde staring listlessly out a window. She approached slowly, but not silently, not wanting to frighten her. Praying she wouldn’t be rejected, she pressed her body gently against the witch’s back and rested her chin on the green clad shoulder.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered tentatively, placing her hands lightly on the woman’s hips. Narcissa took her hands, winding them around her until they were pressed against her flat stomach, preventing the young woman from retreating.

“Sometimes you remind me so much of Bella when she was a teenager. Willful, unaware of how powerful you are.”

“I was so out of control. I could have hurt you. I would have never forgiven myself,” she said, attempting to hold back a sob at the idea.

The blonde turned in her arms without pulling away to take her face gently between her hands. “I am unharmed. There is no reason for tears.” Hermione sighed at the comforting closeness. She hoped for forgiveness, but hadn’t expected it to be so freely given. Feeling the girl relaxing in her arms, Narcissa leaned closer, brushing her lips against the smooth cheek to whisper in her ear,

“I trust my sister informed you of alternative coping methods.”

Hermione blushed fiercely, but whispered affirmatively.

“Good. Then all is forgiven. I trust you will approach me more... appropriately the next time,” she responded, dipping her voice seductively. “Come, it’s time for dinner.”

Stunned, Hermione followed behind the blonde to sit down with the family that claimed her. She hoped that in sharing what they learned that she might find some clarity about what to do.

Chapter Text

Hermione followed the blonde witch as though her life depended on it. She hadn’t even considered not doing as she was told. Lucius and Draco were already seated at the table, looking happy and lost in conversation. The pair stood respectfully at the entrance of the females, as was deeply ingrained from their upbringing.

“Miss MacCarthy, I trust you had a pleasant day,” Lucius said, bowing slightly with a distinctly mischievous look in his eye.

“Picture perfect from beginning to end,” she replied, returning the formal greeting.

“Wonderful. Then I suppose those rumors of you kicking the arses of my son and wife are just fodder?”

Hermione winced, looking towards Narcissa and was once again filled with guilt. She was so consumed with gauging the youngest Black sister’s reaction to the statement, that she missed the approach of the oldest. It wasn’t until Bella calmly placed her hands on the girl’s shoulders, that Hermione realized her lover had entered the room.

“Don’t be mean, Lucius. Just because my witch wiped the floor with them, doesn’t mean you should tease. Fortunately, I was there to intervene. Perhaps you and I will need to spend a bit of time with her over the next few days. Your style is a bit different from mine, but I still think she will disarm you within 5 minutes.”

“What are you willing to bet?”

“Absolutely anything you want, Lucius. My lover won’t lose.”

Seeing that the interaction was quickly turning into a pissing contest, Narcissa interjected herself and asked the two to sit so that dinner could be served. Lucius took the hint of his longtime companion and abandoned his line of teasing. He was lucky to share his life with such a clever woman. He had tremendous affection for Narcissa, even warming her bed from time to time, but he learned early in their relationship not to attempt to exert control over her. There were ways in which she would always be a Black and belong to Bellatrix. The love that Lucius had for his wife transcended traditional boundaries. There was nothing that would truly ever tear them apart. Who frequented their beds didn’t affect their relationship. He was free to do as he pleased, and certainly did, and expected no less of his wife. The symbiotic relationship fit them both from day one. Jealousy had no place. They had the public persona they wanted and found fulfillment wherever they could. Hermione bravely spoke up, inserting herself in the conversation,

“It was an eventful day to say the least. The Dark Lord shared a great deal of information. It seems as though I am both desired and feared. I’ve been betrayed, though not by this family.” She looked slowly at Bella, seeing only forgiveness and love, she pressed on. “Those in the innermost circles of the Order of the Phoenix have targeted me since my parent's death. They hid my past and changed my identity for their own gain.”

“And how are you coping?” the blonde wizard interrupted smoothly.

“Struggling. I’m angry... really angry. I took it out on those most dear to me in the form of a duel. I had no idea I had so much power.”

“Then you were the only one uninformed,” Draco chimed in. “You’ve been the most accomplished witch of your age, regardless of what your blood status was believed to be.”

“I truly didn’t mean to take it out on you,” Hermione said, looking at her only and longest friend. “You have been so generous in your time and expectations of me.”

“Stop. Don’t apologize. I have to be strong enough to protect you. Fighting someone with as much power as you will only enable me to learn faster. If I am to carry out the Dark Lord's orders, I will need to be able to take on someone with your skill. Even if I lose, I will need to give you enough time to get away. You are the one of us that is important.”

“That means more than you know, but I will need you around to keep me on track.”

“I don’t believe Hermione will deal with her outbursts in this way going forward. Will you, Love?” Bellatrix said leadingly. Her voice conveyed every bit of sexual energy that had passed between the two less than an hour before. The girl nearly choked on the wine she was drinking.

“No. We are crystal clear," she answered easily. “The Dark Lord shared who he thought had removed me from a loving family. But did you find something different at the Ministry?”

“Not exactly. The Dark Lord sent me in search of some very specific knowledge. He knew we specifically needed to know the date of the termination of the trace on your wand, the date of your forged birth certificate, the date of its creation, and who could have possibly affected the magical quill’s date of your birth.”

The four others at the table stared at him as though he held all the of answers in the entire universe. Recognizing the begging looks he continued,

“The trace on your wand confirms that you are eighteen.”

Hermione tensed. It wasn’t that she doubted the truth in his words, only that they confirmed her deepest fears. She reached out and grasped Bellatrix’s hand under the table, hoping that the contact would ease her rising anxiety.

“You are free to use magic away from school without any danger of being traced. You can even learn dark magic. I was able to finally put my hands on the two different birth certificates. They are waiting in the library for you. The British forgery is brilliant, nearly undetectable. In my opinion, it looks like Dumbledore’s magic. Though at this moment, I don’t have specific proof.”

“Does the birth certificate control the invitation to Hogwarts?” Hermione asked quietly.

“No. It's not that simple. Changing that magical ledger requires access to the magical quill and the knowledge of how to control it. To our knowledge, a change on this level has never been executed before. It's a powerful piece of magic.”

“Who,” Bellatrix said darkly. She felt the anger bubbling up in her.

“I’ve confirmed our suspicions. The only one with the access and skill was McGonagall, even back then.”

“They will be after me, even at Hogwarts then,” Hermione said, realizing the gravity of the situation. She had been watched every day since she entered the gates of the castle by the very people who took so much from her.

“Yes and no,” Lucius said thoughtfully. “First of all, they don’t know the full extent of your association with us. And we will be carefully limiting the flow of that information to the best of our abilities. Secondly, they couldn’t possibly understand the full extent of the implications of Bella’s prophecy. They will likely still think you can be won to their side. You will need to exercise caution, but you won’t be alone.”

Hermione took in the expressions of the other four as they continued to talk about what they had learned. She marveled that they were all so adamant about her safety and the fact that she wouldn’t betray them. They were right, of course. Her earlier activities with Bella temporarily satisfied her anger, but did nothing to erase it. Hogwarts had always been her sanctuary, but no longer. School would be very different in the spring.

“The Dark Lord shared that my parents, the Grangers, won’t stay safe. That in choosing to stay with you,” she looked only at Bella, “I make them a target.” Her blunt statement froze the tongues and hands of her dining companions. Draco knew that the others could easily misstep if they were to approach the topic, so he decided to take the lead,

“How would you like to protect them?”

“I’m not leaving Bella,” she answered. The mere thought of leaving the older witch tore at her heart. It just wasn’t a viable option.

“I didn’t expect you to. I don’t think any of us did. So how are we going to protect them?”

“I don’t think we have many options, honestly.” Hermione looked carefully at Lucius, Narcissa and Bellatrix. She would need their support, both magically and emotionally to do what she needed to do. “I need to erase their memories and relocate them far from England. The powerful magics that have been used against me for the last 16 years will detect any other shield we might create around them.”

“If it's what you want, then we will all support you,” Narcissa said gently.

“I don’t want them to die for me, but I would like to say goodbye.”

“And so you shall. Am I correct in assuming that we will be doing this soon?”

“Tomorrow. Waiting is too dangerous,” Hermione concluded sadly.


 

A few hours of planning later, an exhausted Hermione leaned against her lover.

“Mione, love, I can see whatever you are thinking about is making you increasingly upset. What’s going on?”

“I’m just a bit confused. I thought your... all of your views on muggles would have prevented you from helping me.”

“I have quite the reputation, don’t I,” the Death Eater said, preening. “I can’t say that I’ve ever had cause to interact with many muggles. Strictly speaking, the ones that don’t attempt to steal magic concern me little. They are a lesser species, but they have their uses.”

Hermione stiffened at the racism of her lover. In response, Bellatrix tightened her hold before continuing, “I would never wish harm on those you love. I’m not likely to want to sit down for Christmas dinner with them, but I will do everything I can to protect them. I know you love them.”

“For years they were the only ones who loved me. They treated me as their own, since they always believed I was. Sending them away is going to hurt so much.”

“I know, love. And while I understand it isn’t the same, you will have us.”

“You’re right. It isn’t the same, but it's no less valuable. Being with you all has been so effortless. I’ve never seen a family as... close as you all seem.”

“Are you referring to my sister? You must be,” Bellatrix concluded, chuckling under her breath. “I am guessing she’s become increasingly forward?”

Hermione nodded slightly, not knowing how to approach what she really wanted to know.

“You have to understand that traditional pureblood marriages are different than what goes on anywhere else. They are largely still arranged, however, Narcissa and Lucius are lucky. They care for each other deeply, but there will always be an undercurrent that the marriage was a business transaction. The vows they took don’t demand fidelity. Having other lovers is extremely common, and from what I’ve seen of their relationship, it doesn’t upset the balance. But that's not all you wanted to know was it?" Bella asked suddenly, noticing the hesitant look of the young witch. Hermione simply nodded again, still having not quite found the words to broach the subject.

"The Black sisters have always been a particularly close group. We were raised under such pressure that we learned early on to cling to one another. My baby sister has a very special place in my heart. She was the only one I’d ever loved until I met you. To some extent, I imagine she feels a shade of the same kind of claim over you that I do. We have shared everything our entire lives. I am pleased that the two of you have grown so close.”

Stunned at the open discussion of the intimacy of the sisters, Hermione turned her head to bury her blushing cheeks into Bellatrix's dark curly locks. Affirmation that she hadn’t been reading the blonde witch’s signals incorrectly was both comforting and confusing. She was unaccustomed to being wanted, much less by more than one beautiful woman.

Chapter Text

“You don’t have to go alone.”

“I do, Bella. I have to do this myself,” the young witch responded, walking to her lover. “Nothing else. Just this. Everything else you can be by my side.”

“But Hermione, it hurts so much and the guilt. How can you even function?”

“Please tell me that you have felt guilt before.”

“I can assure you that my older sister is not intimately acquainted with feeling guilt. It does not run in the family,” Narcissa said, sweeping into the room. “It's so odd to see you in muggle clothing.”

“You know I used to wear them every day, right?”

“I shudder at the thought, Miss MacCarthy," the blonde witch said wryly. "You look so much more fetching in the clothes I selected. They draw attention to your.."

"Cissy," Bellatrix interrupted playfully.

"Eyes, Bella. Her eyes. What did you think I was going to say?"

Hermione giggled at the happy banter between the gorgeous sisters. She knew they were doing what they could to lighten her mood.

"It's good to know that you prefer that I didn't wear muggle clothes. I will make sure to wear them just to offend you."

"You wouldn't dare," Narcissa responded, stepping powerfully into the girl's personal space.

Hermione lifted her hand and gently ran it down the woman's cheek. She leaned in until they were nearly touching, whispering,

"We both know I would." Turning, she took one final look in the mirror before gathering her purse and slipping her wand into her sleeve. "You'll come find me in 2 hours?"

"We will."

"Ok, I'll see you both soon. "


 

Walking into the Granger's middle class home, Hermione had never felt so out of place. The last 24 hours had been excruciating. It was bad enough that her life had been so cruelly altered, but it tore a hole in her heart knowing that the Grangers were faultless in it all. She internally debated the best course of action. She valued the opinions of her lover, but she alone would be the one forced to live with her decisions.

In the end, she decided that the Dark Lord was right. She couldn't bear the thought of the dentists dying for just their association with her. Her biggest challenge was determining how much to share with the two. Anything she told them wouldn't make sense. She couldn't swallow the idea of watching their faces fall at learning she was never really their daughter. And so, she would keep the secret and bear the pain alone. They deserved none of what was thrust on them.

Dinner was a quiet affair. The Grangers were very surprised to see her so soon after receiving her Christmas gift. She sidestepped all of their questions about how she was able to come visit them, offering the lie that a wealthy friend gave the trip to her as a Christmas present. They seemed to accept the explanation and happily answered her questions about how their lives were going. Hermione tried to memorize everything about those moments. The way her mother's hair smelled when she hugged her tightly, the sound of her fathers laugh,and the smell of her childhood home. She would have to walk away from it all tonight, but she had no desire to forget where she had come from.

As always her parents were extremely proud of her academic achievements, even if they didn't understand the majority of the things she shared. Her stomach clenched knowing she would never experience this type of parental love again. After tonight she would be an orphan twice. The Grangers would survive and she would set them up with a happy life, but they wouldn't have any idea she had ever been their's.

After dinner they moved into the living room to have tea. Hermione volunteered to make the service. She hugged and kissed them each on the cheek before walking into the kitchen. She would always remember those moments as the last she shared with her parents. As planned Bellatrix, Narcissa, and Lucius were at the back door to help her execute her plan. She would cast the Obliviate herself, and Narcissa and Lucius would move the Grangers to their new location. Hermione wouldn't know where they were taken for their safety. She would be the primary target if someone hoped to find her parents, so she would protect them by not knowing. She moved a part of the MacCarthy fortune into the Granger's names. They wouldn't have to work if they didn't want to, and their lives would be comfortable.

Bellatrix and Hermione would stay at the house to remove any traces of Hermione's life there. The hope was to remove or obscure anything that might give away vital information about her. Not surprisingly, Hermione cast the spell without issue and the Grangers were transported quickly away. Bellatrix moved quickly through the house, casting complex spells that would protect any vital information until the house could be off loaded to other muggles. Hermione considered taking things with her, but she found it too painful a reminder. She needed to walk away with just her memories and the love she felt for them.


 

Hermione collapsed, crying as the final spells were cast. Bellatrix protectively wrapped the cloak around the shaking girl before apparating them back to Malfoy Manor. Narcissa returned not long after, while Lucius went to inform the Dark Lord that the plan was successfully executed. The last of the wards on the little house would allow them to know when someone magical attempted enter and their identity. The Dark Lord insisted that they needed to confirm the identities of the major players in the conspiracy.

As soon as Narcissa entered the manor, she heard the sobbing girl. The Blacks and Malfoys knew it would be a hard day. Narcissa was proud of the girl. Hermione didn't take the easy route. She stared down the challenge and knew in the end it was for the best. But for today, she would be heartbroken. The older witch hoped that the comfort her family could provide would be enough to get her through.

Following the heart wrenching sounds, Narcissa entered the formal dining hall where Bella had transported the pair. Her sister knelt down over the small huddled form of her lover. She was pressing gentle kisses into the girls hair while encouraging her to go upstairs. The blonde joined her sister in supporting the girl to stand up and practically carried to the second story.

Once in the girl's room, the Black sisters stripped the muggle clothes from her body. Bella pulled a soft black cotton shirt and long pants onto the girl while Narcissa stowed the discarded clothes. Secretly she hoped not to see them again. The younger sister led the lovers to the large bed, lifting the covers to encourage them inside. Bella climbed in pulling, Hermione with her. The blonde joined them by physically surrounding the girl, hoping to supply comfort.

The girl's tears slowed then subsided as the sisters soothingly rubbed her back and stroked her hair. As her breathing relaxed, she pushed into the hands touching her back and nuzzled into the hand in her hair. Needing to feel less alone and closer to the women, Hermione turned her head to look into the dark blue eyes of the woman petting her head. She took in the quiet look of adoration painted on the proud and beautiful trademark Black features. Holding her breath, she closed her eyes and pressed her lips against Narcissa's.

The blonde witch responded immediately and felt the girl melt into her gentle touch. Hermione turned her body into the kiss pressing the length of her form against the older witch's body. She felt Bella move behind her to place hot kisses on the back of her neck. She was entranced by the two sets of hands gently exploring her body as Narcissa deepened the kiss. She moaned gutturally as hands found her breasts, manipulating her flesh and sending arousal coursing through her body. She felt Bella's lips brush against her ear as she said,

"Do you want her to touch you, love? It's ok if you do." Bella quieted, allowing the girl to respond. Noting the lack of pause in the heated kiss she continued, "we'll take care of you. Cissy and I have shared a great many things." She pulled gently at the blonde tresses, breaking apart the kiss. She aggressively claimed the familiar lips, trapping Hermione between them. Feeling the girl moan in response, "Do you want to be ours tonight?" She asked.

"I don't want to be able to think of anything else."

"We've been told we can be quite overwhelming," Narcissa responded in a deep silky voice as she slipped her hands beneath the soft fabric covering the girl's body.

"Please..."

"Please what, little witch?" the darker of her lovers responded.

"Please make me forget."

Answering the plea, the blonde gripped the bottom of the shirt and swiftly pulled it off and away. She possessively sought to claim the skin before her with lips, hands and teeth. Behind Hermione, Bella slid the pants down her legs, lightly dragging her nails against the skin as she did.

Hermione felt as though her body was being set on fire. The sisters' hands seemed to be everywhere at once. Each touch was sure and demanding, pulling and pushing her between their warm bodies. She could hardly remember to breathe, much less to think on the events that led her into bed with the two beauties.

"Do you want to feel my Cissy inside of you?" Bellatrix asked as the blonde teasingly ran her fingers through her wetness. While Hermione fought to compose herself enough to answer affirmatively, Narcissa brought her fingers up to her own mouth, cleaning the taste of the girl from them. With such a show, the girl knew she might never be able to verbally answer. She took the blonde's hand in her shaking fingers and guided them down her body. She moaned loudly as two fingers found their way swiftly into her and began working her in a painstakingly slow rhythm.

"Oh Bella, you've been holding back on me. She is even more delightful than I could have imagined." She punctuated her sentence with a particularly hard thrust.

"Don't be greedy, baby sister," she responded while snaking her hand between the girl's thighs. She moved her fingertips in slow, firm circles over the swollen clit, causing the girl to buck wildly. Narcissa ducked her head, capturing a hard nipple between her teeth and pulling it gently.

"Come for us now, darling. Just let go," her dark lover said huskily in her ear.

Her body obeyed the command without thought and she collapsed into a sweaty mess. Two sets of strong arms circled her and held her close. As her eyes closed and she drifted off to sleep, she grasped at the comfort the witches offered, hoping it would be enough to drown out her guilt.

Chapter Text

Hermione woke from a restless sleep bathed in moonlight. Bellatrix’s arm was draped over her waist, holding her close. In the time she’d been asleep, Narcissa left the bed presumably to return to to her own rooms. The young witch turned slowly in her lover’s arms to watch her sleep. Her face was relaxed and peaceful, much more so than in waking hours. In rare glimpses, Hermione saw the full extent of the damage her life had wrought. In spite of the remarkable healing courtesy of her younger sister, the dark witch wore the tension of her life like armor. The girl wondered if she too could take her pain and contort it into strength. She kissed a mass of curly hair before climbing out of the warm embrace.

The silence of the room with the gentle breathing of her loved one was too much for her to take. She padded quietly into the bathroom, hoping a bath would help soothe her. She sunk her sore body into the water, dissolving the tightness in her muscles and her emotional defenses with them. She allowed the pain of taking the Granger’s memories and sending them away to crash over her in waves. Sobs wracked her body and her tears hit the surface of the bubbly water. She heard the door to the bathroom creak as it opened, but didn’t bother to turn around.

“Oh love, why didn’t you wake me?” Bellatrix asked. Hermione wanted to reply. She wanted to be able to tell her raven haired lover that she didn’t want to remove the look of contentment from her unreasonably beautiful face. Or that she deserved to bear the pain alone. After all, she had taken away a part of the lives of the people who raised her. She had destroyed the last vestige of familial love she had.

Bella nudged her gently forward, sliding into the tub behind her and pulling her backwards to rest against her bare chest. She ran her warm, wet, hands gently across the girl’s shoulders and down her arms, re-solidifying their physical connection. Her fingertips brushed the chain of the necklace that hadn’t left the girl’s neck since she placed it there as a visible reminder of to whom the girl belonged.

“That’s all rubbish, you know,” the older witch waited, anticipating a sharp comment about using her ability to look into her witch’s mind. “You did exactly what you had to do. You protected them with a solution that gives them the highest likelihood of survival and happiness. You sacrificed your connection for their lives. There is no greater love.”

Hermione breathed in raggedly to whisper, “But without them, I have nothing left. I’ve lost my parents twice over.”

“It is an impossibly hard situation, but you aren’t alone. You know with me you can’t be alone. And my family adores you. You do understand they aren’t this friendly to everyone, don’t you?”

Hermione giggled and relaxed slightly into the secure form behind her. “I’ve heard stories, but I can’t say I ever noticed them much before you were all plotting to get my attention.”

“Wait until you see them at the New Year's Eve Ball. Then again, I expect you will be rather over run. Everyone saw the articles in the Daily Prophet about you.” She felt the girl tense again. Running her tongue around the shell of her ear she said, “I won’t leave your side even for a moment. And if it gets too unbearable, I will rescue you.”

In response, Hermione playfully batted at the knee at her side. Once again the older witch managed to soothe her fears and make her feel infinitely less alone.

“Tell me about them.”

“No, Bella, you don’t have to do that I know you aren’t comfortable.”

“Don’t tell me what I am comfortable with, little witch.” Bellatrix’s tone slid into a sexual range reducing the bite of her words. “I want to know about your childhood.”

“Ok, but only if you tell me about your’s.”


 

The lovers stayed intertwined in the warm water, telling stories until neither could stand being wet. Unable to leave the conversation, they snuggled under the covers of their bed, watching the sun come up. Bellatrix surprised them both with her patience and curiosity about how Hermione grew up in the muggle world. In truth, she didn’t have any desire to have contact with the world, but she desperately wanted to know more about the young woman who had so entirely captivated her. Hermione patiently answered dozens of questions and learned how best to explain to the pureblood the basics of muggle culture to the end of explaining her life.

In return Bellatrix shared the pressures and expectations of being raised in a pureblood home. The parenting style reminded Hermione of medieval treatments of children, though she didn’t say so. It was clear from how her lover spoke, that Bella had bore the brunt of it all to protect her younger sisters. It explained the indelible closeness to Narcissa. They’d spent their entire lives relying on one another. Pushing her face into soft black curls to hide the blush creeping from her cheeks down her neck, Hermione asked under what circumstances they had become so adept at sharing. The dark witch chuckled lightly at both the girl’s embarrassment and the formal wording of the question. She spent the better part of an hour explaining the strongly blood driven culture, the belief in ancient sex magic and the absolute love the sisters developed through a high intensity childhood and adolescence.

“Had you always intended to... share me,” Hermione asked tentatively.

“Honestly, I hadn’t had the time to give it proper thought. This has been a bit of a whirlwind for me to.”

Hermione looked at her lover apologetically. It was easy to forget the woman spent a decade of her life in a terrible prison. The healing work of her sister and the natural magnetism of her personality made her seem formidable and invincible.

“And you were already being drawn in by my sister. You and I are connected in so many ways, it wouldn’t surprise me if you share the draw I feel to her. If you are worried that I am upset, I’m not. The choice will always be yours, but know that I will not tolerate it happening when I am not present or without my explicit permission.”

The younger witch leaned up to firmly press a kiss to the tempting red lips in an attempt to communicate desire and ownership. Being loved by Narcissa and Bellatrix at the same time had been overwhelming and more than a little distracting, but the driving force would always be her connection to the older witch. She would never deny her attraction to the blonde. Everyone who lived in Malfoy manor seemed to have sex appeal rolling off them in waves.


 

Hermione and Bellatrix found their way downstairs to join the others for breakfast in spite of their rather sleepless night. The young witch approached Narcissa, touching her elbow to gain her attention before pulling her into a tight hug and thanking her for everything she’d done the day before. The blonde smirked, knowing the girl referred to both the relocation of her parents and the physical comfort they shared in the middle of the night. Narcissa was relieved that the girl adjusted so quickly to the relationship between the Black sisters. Few throughout the years had been able to resist their combined seductive powers, but the girl’s opinion was more important than those who came before her.

Moving away from the sisters, Hermione tentatively approached Lucius. While they shared playful banter and passionate intellectual discussions, they hadn’t been physically close before. Lucius saw the tentative look in the her eyes and opened his arms. She accepted the warm hug and leaned back to look him in the eyes as she thanked him. He’d done the part that she couldn’t do herself and she had no doubt that he could protect the secret she asked him to guard. For his part, Lucius was happy to help the girl. She was an excellent addition to his extended family. She brought power and fame, in addition to her uncanny ability to balance out his delightful but extreme sister in-law. He even hoped that she would be a permanent addition, because she simply seemed to fill the void left by the many people claimed by the war over the years. He was even aware of the particular closeness his wife now enjoyed, as they kept no secrets from one another, but he knew better than to intervene in the affairs of the Black sisters. Their marital and relationship statuses were of minor importance in comparison to the sisterly bond that they valued above all else, though he wondered how Hermione would fit in the equation.

Narcissa noted the matching dark circles under the witches’ eyes, realizing the peace in which she left them must have been short lived. She’d been torn about staying. She felt driven to provide the girl with support and love during such a difficult transition, but her rationality won in the end. Bella was in the early stages of bonding with her lover, even if they’d been destined from the girl’s birth. Hermione was like a small child learning to really trust for the first time. The blonde knew that pushing overly hard wouldn’t position her as the girl’s champion, and that was her true goal.

Draco joined the group as breakfast was being served. He listened somberly to how the events of the prior day had gone. While he desperately wanted to be involved, he had to spend his time training. Professor Snape insisted that he could not spare the time. The Dark Lord would be formally charging Draco with the task of defending and protecting his aunt’s soulmate. And he had no intention of failing. As a young boy he bore witness to the brokenness of losing a war and having families ripped apart. Though his parents loved and sheltered him to the extent of their capabilities, they could not erase the underlying sadness. He was determined that he would be a part of the generation to change it. Hermione would soon be a part of his family and he would be prepared to help keep her safe so that they would win not just the battle, but the war.

Chapter Text

With only a few days before the annual New Year's Eve ball, Malfoy Manor was aflutter with activity. The tremendous halls of the edifice were transformed by a small army of elves into a haven of celebration. Striving to keep Hermione occupied as a distraction from the painful reality of the past few days, Narcissa involved the girl in as much of the preparation as possible. It seemed to bolster the girl's spirit, while teaching her some important cultural behaviors of her peers. Hermione's heritage ensured the respect of the purebloods, but the blonde witch wanted her to fit in and feel as though she had a place in their community.

Their morning to night occupation provided Draco, Bellatrix, and Lucius with time to prepare for the teens' return to Hogwarts. In conjunction with the Dark Lord, Lucius developed a plan to control the flow of information about Hermione. It was already common knowledge that she was the only heir to the MacCarthy fortune. Her association with the Malfoys would be unavoidable as they'd been seen in public together. But they hoped to protect the knowledge of her age from the public. The more ignorant the Death Eaters could appear, the more likely they would be able to catch Dumbledore and the Order off guard.

Bellatrix had been particularly vocal that the girl be allowed to complete her education. The dark witch knew how important it was to her lover, and it would be far more difficult if her age was widely known. She grieved that two years were stolen from the girl and that she had begun her training at Hogwarts two years late. It was no wonder that the girl felt as though she didn't fit in. She insisted that her young lover be left in the house she was sorted into at least for the rest of the year. Bella suspected that the sorting hat was tampered with, along with the magical quill. The girl belonged in Slytherin, but she had gone through enough changes for the time being.


 

Hermione could not possibly imagine why she had to learn how to dance. She had no intention of being the center of attention during the ball, no matter what Madame Malfoy had to say about it. At the triwizard tournament ball, she watched others dance, avoiding it herself even though Victor Crum attempted to dump his date, Lavender Brown, for her. When Narcissa cornered her and practically drug her into the ballroom, clearly resistance would be futile. And so, Hermione acquiesced, warily allowing the blonde to dominate her personal space.

“First you must relax.”

Hermione looked into the beautiful blue eyes arching her eyebrows slightly, but not responding.

“I am well aware of my sisters rules of engagement, so to speak. It doesn’t mean I can’t have a bit of fun... so relax,” she said, running her hand down Hermione’s face in a familiar gesture. She took the girl by the waist, positioning their bodies before beginning the dance.

Hermione’s trepidation aside, she learned dancing as quickly as she did academic pursuits. Within an hour they twirled around the room to the sound of the music. As the dance ended, the older witch dipped her deeply backwards, holding their faces close together until they dissolved into giggles. Their reverie was interrupted by slow applause. Bellatrix, clad in a tight, revealing, corset and full skirts, leaned against the door frame. Pushing herself upright, she stalked towards the pair.

“Not bad, my love, but you would look so much better dancing with me.”

“I am a perfectly adequate teacher.”

“So you are, Cissa. But you’ve always been more of a follower than a leader,” the dark witch snarked at her sister. Strictly speaking, it wasn’t true, but Bella knew her baby sister would give into her. True to form, Narcissa subtly took a step back and inclined her head, indicating she bent to her sister’s will.

The Death Eater took the young witch’s hand, spinning her before tugging her flush against her own body. Hermione gasped at the intimate embrace. Their forms pressed so closely together, that she could feel every delicious curve of her lover’s body. She did her best to focus on the steps she’d learned, instead of the arousal that Bellatrix seemed to carry with her everywhere. The older witch led her through a rumba that grew with intimacy with every step they took. By the end of the dance, Hermione found herself panting, and not from physical exertion. She looked longingly into Bella’s eyes, causing the witch to chuckle,

“You find me quite irresistible, don’t you?

“It was the dance, I assure you. Done properly, it should be quite seductive,” she retorted. “Or do you not think my muggle taught dancing skills are up to par.”

Bellatrix snorted. It wasn’t as though she would ever believe that any muggle dance could be seductive.

“Well if you don’t think it’s possible, perhaps your sister would be more open minded.” Hermione turned to Narcissa, silently asking permission. Seeing it was hesitantly granted, she turned the music back on. This was not exactly the type of music all the muggle teenagers were dancing to, but the girl wasn’t going to back down from the challenge. She slowly circled the blonde witch, letting her fingertips trail gently across the slender body and stopping in front of her. Hermione turned her back to the younger Black sister, taking the woman’s hands and wrapping them around her body. Slowly, she ground her hips seductively to the music against Narcissa’s crotch. The action momentarily stunned her dance partner, but a few bars later her hips began to move in tandem. As Cissy grew more comfortable with the sensual movements she allowed her hands to wander Hermione’s body, while making eye contact with her sister. It served Bella right for being unwilling to learn about the culture in which her consort was raised. And Narcissa never passed on the opportunity to one up her older and extremely accomplished sibling. She could tell from across the room the dark haired witch was experiencing warring emotions. Her lips formed a hard line, revealing her frustration and annoyance, but it didn’t reach her eyes. Without her permission, her pupils dilated at the sight of the two women dancing together. They were beautiful and the way they moved was practically clothed sex.

Bellatrix walked behind her sister and firmly moved her out of the way. The young witch anticipated the switch in partners, though she was impressed at the self-control of her lover. It took her far longer to intervene than she would have guessed. Seizing the opportunity, Hermione buried her hands in the curls behind her head, encouraging the woman to pull her even closer. Taking the move as permission to do whatever she wanted, Bellatrix ran her hands down the length of the girl’s sides pausing at her hip bones before curving purposefully inward. In response to the quickly escalating situation, Hermione spun in her arms. She snugly tucked one of her legs between her lover’s and rolled her hips in time with the music. She heard the sceptical pureblood witch draw ragged breaths into her lungs, attempting to control her arousal.

Satisfied with her success, Hermione smirked at her lover and stepped back, leaving the woman intentionally unsatisfied.

“You still don’t believe me?”

“What I don’t believe is that anyone would consider that dancing. If you had done that with anyone but my sister...”

Bellatrix never managed to finish her threat as Hermione punctuated her success with a particularly intense kiss. She did however smile wickedly at her sister as she pulled her lover from the room declaring that they would see her at dinner.


 

New Year’s Eve arrived quickly, and with each passing moment, Hermione found herself falling into a state of panic. She worried about her first public appearance. Narcissa had drilled her with social customs from how to greet others to how to turn down offers to dance. If the past few days were any indication, Bellatrix would not be tolerant of anyone presuming to step between them. Hermione wondered exactly how far the witch would go to keep other suitors at bay, not that she could even conceive of interest in anyone else.

Mid-afternoon an elf sent by the blonde witch arrived to gather her and taker her to Narcissa’s rooms to get ready. It hadn’t been explicitly stated, but Hermione got the feeling that her appearance was to be kept secret, even from Bella. After bathing in warm soothing water, she rubbed her skin with a mixture of lavender and vanilla oils, giving her skin a soft glow and intoxicating scent. She pulled revealing lingerie on before slipping the black dress over her head. As she remembered, it clung tightly to her body. One strap of the dress ran directly up her left shoulder, while the other cut across her chest diagonally leaving her entire right shoulder exposed. The torso of the dress came to just the top of her cleavage, hinting at her curves without being revealing. However, the triangular cut away that revealed her stomach left little doubt to the condition of her body. She looked in the mirror, noting how much firmer her muscles looked after a few weeks of intense physical training. The slit of the dress ran directly up her left side terminating at her mid-thigh. Even she had to admit how intimidating her appearance was.

After she was dressed, Narcissa insisted on instructing the witch she hired on how she wanted the girl’s make-up applied and hair arranged. She requested that the make up be light, allowing Hermione’s natural beauty to be showcased. As a result, smokey eye makeup and a light pink lip gloss were the main features.The witch pulled her curls up, allowing a few to escape, framing her face. Once the girl’s transformation was complete and Narcissa had also finished getting herself ready, the older witch took a long moment to take in her appearance.

The intelligent blue eyes ran slowly over her body, examining every detail. Hermione shivered at the thorough inspection. The sensuality of the look was magnified by her vivid memory of the woman’s hands on her body delivering pleasure. After walking once around the girl, Narcissa deemed the preparations complete. Confident in the reception the girl’s breath stealing outfit would guarantee, she led her to the staircase to make her entrance.

On the short walk, Hermione became aware of the music already echoing through the house. She hadn’t bothered to ask when the event began or even what time it currently was. She assumed that Narcissa planned for them to make a slightly late, but extremely fashionable, entrance. In her short time living at the Manor, she’d become convinced that the witch never did anything by accident. Narcissa strove to have control over each moment and this would be no different. A few paces out of sight by the grand staircase, the pair paused as the blonde witch said,

“I want you to walk down the stairs alone. Everyone will pause to see your enter. I swear half of them have come just to see you. Going by yourself will communicate your independence and to discourage them from seeing us as your protectors.”


Hermione nodded in understanding. She was too nervous to formulate a response. As much as she didn’t want to have all of the eyes in the room on her, the desire to see Bellatrix was far greater. She took a deep breath before stepping forward to the top of the staircase and into the festive lights. She felt the room collectively pause at her appearance. She panicked slightly until she found a pair of chocolate brown eyes staring intensely into her own. She descended the steps, seeing nothing but the gorgeous form of her witch.

Chapter Text

As Hermione reached the bottom of the stairs, the crowd began to murmur excitedly. Clearly the gossip about the MacCarthy heir was as prevalent as Narcissa claimed. Hermione’s stomach leaped into her throat and she attempted to fight away her growing anxiety. Sensing her lover’s desire to flee, Bellatrix took quick steps towards her with one hand outstretched. Grasping the girl’s shaking fingers, she noted the grateful look on her face. Bella could only imagine how overwhelming such an event must be to her introverted witch. She had survived by hiding in the shadows and learning more than everyone else, as though she were preparing her entire life for the upcoming battle. It wasn’t uncommon for women to claim not to want to be the center of attention, but everything about Hermione’s body language suggested that she was one of the few that truly meant it. Fortunately, Narcissa had imparted enough knowledge about how to appear aloof that it was unlikely that anyone but their family would recognize her nervousness for what it was. In an effort to help calm the girl’s nerves, she pulled her reassuringly into a dance. It was just an added bonus that the rest of the room would clearly understand their underlying association.

Bellatrix had always been jealous by nature. During school she’d nearly blown up a bathroom the first time a boy tried to lay claim to her Cissy. Her anger scared away that particular boy permanently. For reasons beyond her own comprehension, she couldn’t explain why Lucius never elicited such emotions from her. Rationally she believed that it had to be because he always understood the nature of the Black sisters’ relationship. He never attempted to meddle in it or change it. He had fit into their family the moment they met. Even now she caught sight of the blonde man flirting with a young brunette who was most certainly not her baby sister. She was grateful to see him distracted as it increased the likelihood of her being able to garner Narcissa’s attention for the evening. During her years in prison, she was aware that Narcissa took other lovers both male and female to try to fill the void her incarceration left. However, her sister had seen none of them since Bella’s escape from Azkaban. She hoped that the absence of others wasn’t out of fear of the reaction such an event might cause. There had been a time when Narcissa regarded Bella and Lucius as enough, but it remained to be seen how the inclusion of the girl would affect their arrangement. Though it was unplanned, the first sexual encounter between the sisters and Hermione went off without a hitch. The girl melted into the attentions of the two witches and afterwards there were no traces of awkwardness over the situation. In fact she seemed to be provoking Cissa at every turn, as though she hoped to goad her into action. She seemed to fit into their little family as well as Lucius had many years before.

Hermione and Bellatrix danced around the room with the others on the crowded ballroom floor. They flowed effortlessly together and Hermione found her breath stolen by something entirely different than the fear that grasped her earlier. The beauty of her lover was overwhelming. The dark curls she so loved burying her hands in were stacked glamorously on her head, though some still spilled over her shoulders. Warm charcoal eyes read her face and penetrated her soul, spreading warmth throughout her chest. The dark red lips taunted her, hovering just out of reach and at Hermione's realization that the teasing was intentional, they curled into a secret smile.

At the end of the song, Bellatrix led her back to where Narcissa and Lucius were now greeting their guests. She knew there would be a great many people wanting to aquire even a few moments of her beloved's time. Every part of her wanted to protect the girl from the scrutiny and mark her publicaly as her own. But it wasn't yet the time. There was no question in her mind that the moment would come when she would publicaly declare Hermione was hers, but for now they would rely on subtleties like the intimate first dance and the Black family crest that hung around her neck. She genuinely hoped it would be enough to keep others from attempting to court her, because Bella wasn't certain that she would be able to control her anger or her magic if others were to make an attempt on her witch. She watched gratefully as Narcissa introduced Hermione to the other influential pureblood families. Her younger sister was always much better at playing family politics than she was.

For her part, Hermione was perfectly well prepared. The hours of rehearsal with Narcissa were evident. The girls posture and manners were impeccable. The line of prestigious families were whispering in confusion at the ease with which the witch fit in. She dealt with each of them in turn. The air of arrogance in her bearing kept the gossip run of the mill. Bella heard far more speculating about who Hermione might be betrothed to than she would have preferred, but happily she heard her name more than once. She couldn’t wait to be able to announce publicly, but it would have to wait until at least the summer. And she so hated being patient. She relaxed at the sight of her Lord gliding his way towards them. She found tremendous comfort in his leadership. Until the war was won, things would be tenuous, but the plan was well laid. She believed that her lover would be protected.

Hermione bowed appropriately to the Dark Lord. He in turn greeted her warmly, commenting on his happiness of meeting under better circumstances. She smiled and took the offered arm as he led her into the dining room. Again she felt the eyes of the entire room on her, but she kept her eyes forward not risking looking weak. He ushered her to a chair only one away from him. Before she could question who she would be sitting next to. She was flanked by the Black sisters. She smiled at him gratefully, noting that he had a particular brand of kindness to those in his circle. He was an enigma. She could see the power and darkness hovering under the surface, but it was in tight control at all times.

Once the large crowd was seated, he began the meal with the obligatory toast. As the food appeared the volume of the crowd raised with exciting chatter. Hermione sat silently watching the interactions. Draco chatted animatedly with a few of his housemates. Lucius and Bellatrix spoke quietly with the Dark Lord as he surveyed the crowd. And Narcissa listened to proud stories from other mothers, while Hermione looked on at the multiple conversations. She felt more secure as a viewer than participant, which both of the sisters seemed to understand without having to be told. It didn’t really shock her when a heeled foot ran seductively up her leg during the meal. However she wasn’t entirely sure which sister was intent on being playful during the meal. Neither of their beautiful faces gave away who was the perpetrator, but Hermione enjoyed the game of it all.


 

The formal dinner went smoothly. As the party split up to resume dancing and drinking, the Death Eaters subtly moved to enmass to a private room. It may have been a night of celebration, but their work was unfinished until the war was won. And all being under a single roof was too convenient to avoid. The party would be fine without them, while they were ensconced upstairs in a short meeting. Draco, noticing the key members of the Dark Lord’s organization slipping from the room, reached out to Hermione to pull her with the group of young people.

“Come on, ‘Mione. Come dance with people who aren’t nearly on pension,” he said teasingly. She smacked his arm hard enough that it had a bit of bite to it, but smiled warmly and followed him to the dance floor. She recognized most of the faces in the crowd of Hogwarts students. For the most part they all belonged to the Slytherin house. She knew them by name and reputation, but not much more. From the looks, it was clear that they knew who she was. The circle of young people closed around them as they danced. Draco stood on one side of her with Crabbe and Goyle on the other. They danced together as a group, as teenagers are wont to do, for the better part of an hour. Throughout the time, Hermione got increasingly more comfortable with the group. She thought nothing of it when Draco and Astoria drifted away seeking out privacy, followed not long after Crabbe and Goyle with the Carrow sisters. She looked forward to when she would be snuck away for privacy. Her body hummed with the possibilities. She danced with the crowd, lost in her fantasies of her dark lover. Blaise and Theodore, two Slytherin teenagers, moved stealthily to either side of her, preventing her retreat. They moved their dancing bodies imposingly towards her, trapping her between them. She went to draw her wand, but one of the boys caught her wrist and moved it painfully behind her back as the other menacingly barked that she should comply. She froze in surprise and fear at being caught unaware.

From across the room, Narcissa saw the young men approaching. At first she expected the Ravenclaw to fight back, after all the girl had made quite the habit of thrashing her son and on occasion herself in their practices. Instead the girl froze, and in that moment the blonde witch moved instinctually towards her, moving the crowd out of her way. She could hear the boys nastily taunt the girl about her former blood status and speculate about what sordid activities she had engaged in, and they even went so far as to suggest which ones she would be obliging them with. Aside from stopping the boys, she needed to diffuse the situation before her sister could become involved. Bella had been so well behaved in the girl’s presence, but even Narcissa couldn’t predict what the reaction might be to the two boys putting their hands, literally, on her beloved.

Little did she know that the dark witch saw the scene beginning to unfold as she exited the upstairs meeting room. Her wand was in hand as her feet hit the bottom step. She watched as her younger sister roughly pulled one of the boys away from the girl. Narcissa certainly had her wand pointed into the other boy’s chest by now. As she reached the group, she grabbed both of the boys by the wrists. She would deal with them, but it wouldn’t be in the middle of the dance floor. Assured that Hermione was securely in the arms of her sister, she drug the boys outside.

Narcissa felt the girl relax in her arms at the sight of Bellatrix leading the boys away. Slight tremors of fear still shook her body, periodically. In order not to draw further attention, the blonde witch moved them into a dance matching the rest of the celebratory crowd.

“Hermione, what were you thinking? Why didn’t you defend yourself?”

“Please don’t make me answer that,” she whispered in an unsteady voice.

“Better to answer me now than to face my sister. You know she will be far more upset than I am.”

“My guard was down. I wasn’t paying attention. I was lost in... daydreams.”

“You know better,” Narcissa chastised.

“Yes, I do.”

“My sister won’t be pleased.”

“I am well aware. Is this your attempt at comfort?”

“As always my role is to prepare you. I suggest you let me take the lead when Bella returns. And do as she says without question. She will still punish you, but I would not recommend pushing her further.”

“What do you think she is doing to those boys?”

“She will be making sure that they nor their friends ever make another attempt. Aside from that I have learned not to ask specifics. Some things are better not to know.”

Hermione nodded her agreement and sunk into the comfort of the embrace, however temporarily it might be offered. She wasn’t sure what to make of Narcissa’s vague panic. She knew the situation with the boys hadn’t been good, but in a room full of people surely she hadn’t been in tremendous danger. She should have been able to protect herself, but she’d only been prepared for aggressive affronts and certainly nothing sexually driven. Narcissa’s statement about punishment caused her mind to reel. She’d never been on the receiving end of much punishment, and only the foolish didn’t fear an angry Bellatrix Black. Moments later, she felt rather than saw the approach of her lover behind her. She didn’t experience the usual warmth she came to associate with the witch, but instead an intensity that took her breath away. Without a word, Narcissa took her hand and led her away from the crowd and back into the private parts of the manor.

Chapter Text

Narcissa walked quickly behind Bellatrix, dragging Hermione to keep up. As soon as they were in Bella’s room, she began warding and silencing the room. The young witch watched with her mouth hanging open. It was quite clear that the curly headed witch wanted an extreme level of privacy. Satisfied with the execution of her magic, she turned back towards the two other witches. Bella stalked to Hermione and drew her into a heated kiss, backing away only after making them both breathless.

“You terrified me.”

“I’m sorry. It got out of hand so quickly.”

“You were lucky we were there,” she commented, producing the girl’s wand and handing it back to her sister. “But I don’t believe those young men will be bothering you again. Last I saw they were scampering back over to their parents.”

“Thank you, Bella.” Hermione lifted her hand to run it gently down her lover's cheek, hoping to convey her gratitude and to soften whatever retribution might be coming.

The dark witch flinched at the touch and growled, “Do you see the chair facing the bed?” She didn’t pause for the girl’s response, but waited until she saw the girl’s eyes reach it. “Go and sit. I expect you to stay there until I tell you to move. I will magically bind you if necessary.” Confused and aroused at the command and the tone of its delivery, the girl did as she was asked. Once settled into the chair, she watched as the blonde witch slowly and calmly approached her sister. Her long delicate fingers traced gently down Bellatrix’s body finding the ties of her bodice and deftly releasing them. The dark witch stood regally, closing her eyes as though indulging herself in a long held ritual.

Narcissa turned her sister's body slightly so that the girl could see clearly as the fabric revealed skin as it fell away. As she told Hermione, there would be a consequence for the way the girl handled the situation. The remaining training sessions before the return to school would likely be more difficult than the girl had experienced before. But at this moment, her sister was intent on teaching the girl to appreciate the kind of attention that she became accustomed to at the hands of the sisters. She wanted there to be no question in the young witch's mind that it was a privilege to be considered part of their family. And so, Hermione would have to sit and watch as Narcissa took in every curve and sensitive spot of her sister’s body.

It was a happy coincidence that the actions would additionally sooth Bellatrix. For years this had been one of their favorite coping methods. After every major battle or punishment from her Lord, Bella would find her way to her baby sister. And Narcissa would silently undress her, removing every bad memory that the fabric might contain. Then systematically, slowly and thoroughly the blonde would love every inch of her body. She fought to erase any trace of another’s presence, be it physical or emotional. But this would be new. Narcissa had never used this method of calming her sister with another present. They had shared lovers in the past, but it had always been in short hot moments of passion and fun. There had never been any cause for something deeper or more serious to be be involved. She prided herself on knowing exactly what her sister needed and she was certain that Bellatrix needed Hermione to see this vulnerable side.

The slow revealing of Bellatrix’s body caused Hermione to unconsciously take in a sharp breath. She struggled to keep her body still. The sisters were barely more than a meter away from her, but not being allowed to interact with them or touch them she considered torture. She watched as the blonde witch ran her hands teasingly down her lover’s body. The dark witch pressed firmly into the touch, obviously craving more. The feather light touches that accompained the slow strip tease caused the dark witch's skin to break out in goosebumps. It was with hearing the first moan fall from Bella’s lips at her sister's attention that Hermione attempted to join them. In spite of the distracting sensuous touches, Bellatrix hadn't yet relinquished her wand. Out of the corner of her eye she caught the motion of the girl rising. She silently cast a spell, pushing her back into the chair. After the events of the night, her patience was entirely depleted. If the girl could not follow a simple instruction, Bellatrix would be more than happy to make behaving the only option available. She captured Hermione in the chair with invisible bonds that kept the girl from being able to move. The girl struggled to try and move her arms, but quickly realized that without a wand, it was unlikely that she would be able to undo anything her lover cast. She realized that there would be no escape from her current situation, which caused an involuntary shiver. Being powerless and at the mercy of Bellatrix Black was one of the most attractive positions she'd ever been in.

Cissa noted the increasingly short tempered state of her sister and moved to remove the wand from her hand. Bella was flirting with the edge of control and this wasn't the time for it to be lost. A little crucio could be fun in the right moment, but the girl wasn't ready for that just yet. She knelt down in front of her sister, helping her out of her heels and long skirt. As she hoped, the small scrap of lace material masquerading as panties were soaked. Her older sister always enjoyed conflict and having an audience. Narcissa placed a reverent kiss at the apex of her thighs before pulling the covering away. As much as she longed to lose herself in the intoxicating taste of her sister, that wasn't what tonight was about. She needed to calm and center Bella by reminding her that she was never alone so long as Narcissa lived. Once her sister was grounded again, then they could address the girl together. Perhaps they hadn't been clear enough about the nature of the relationship between Hermione and Bellatrix.

Standing and moving behind the older witch she said huskily, "Give in Bella. Let me take care of you."

The dark witch struggled momentarily. The drive to conquer pulsed within her, but the sharp tug of her sister's fingers around her nipple caused her to sink back into the comfort offered by her sister. She allowed herself to be moved to sit just on the edge of the bed. As Narcissa removed the top layer of her own clothing to allow freer movements, Bella caught her young lover's intense gaze. The girl managed to move close to the edge of the chair, putting constant pressure on her invisible bonds. Her face darkened almost ferally and the dark witch knew when she finally freed the girl, gentleness wouldn't be on the table.

A hand weaving into her curls tugged her gaze upwards, causing her to meet steely blue eyes. Narcissa was out to conquer. It was uncanny how her sister always knew just what she needed. Narcissa's lips descended with the intent to claim beyond a shadow of a doubt. The blonde straddled her lap, settling enough to bring her other hand into the mass of curls to control the pace for the kiss. A low groan blossomed in her chest at the feeling of her sister lightly grinding against her center. Narcissa was already deliciously wet. Bella wanted nothing more than to flip them over and take her sister roughly. A warning tug of her hair reminded her how well her baby sister read her body language. Apparently the blonde had designs on maintaining control. As though in an effort to confirm that thought, the slender hands forced her head back, exposing her neck.

Narcissa alternated between hot open mouthed kisses and sharp nips, never letting pain nor pleasure override the other. She gauged the efficacy of her assault by how roughly the fingertips drug down her back. As she captured an earlobe in her mouth and tugged, she was rewarded with red lines being painted down the length of her back. She arched into the touch, enjoying the roughness of Bellatrix's attention. Sliding off her lap before she could become any further distracted, she moved to sit behind the dark witch. Hermione was going to get a show.

She put a leg on either side of her sister's body to brace her upright in anticipation of the crumbling she would cause. Narcissa settled her head in the crook of her sister's neck in the perfect position to whisper dark encouragement while making eye contact with the squirming girl. She smiled deviously as she caught the girl's eye and moved her hands down her sister's bare torso. She drug her nails across the firm stomach before bringing her hands up simultaneously to the heaving breasts. She cruelly twisted the nipples, causing a yelp and instantaneous begging.

"Please, please Cissy. I've been good. I swear I have been. I didn't even seriously injure those idiots who touched what is mine. Please."

"That was very good, Bella. If I touch you, you will only come when I give you permission. Understand?"

The dark witch growled in response.

"You will answer me," the blonde witch threatened and tugged roughly at the hardened peaks in her fingertips.

“Yes, Cissa-mine. Only with permission.”

Narcissa responded by sliding her hands down her muscular body and opening her legs wide enough to both accommodate her hand and to ensure the girl could see every single movement. Bellatrix sighed in anticipation, fighting to keep her eyes open. In the past she would have shut her eyes and rested her head against sister. Narcissa always took away the pain, but she needed to see Hermione.

The blonde witch slowly ran her fingertips along the length of Bella’s center, sending shudders coursing through the dark woman’s body. Wetness coated her fingers as she glided them in smooth circles around the already swollen clit. Bellatrix moaned breathily, trying to move her hips towards the source of the delicious pressure. Narcissa took mercy on her sister, forcing her to beg in front of the girl for more than release would be cruel. And she knew that there would be other opportunities. Without preamble, she pressed two fingers into her sister.

“Oh fuck, Cissy.”

Narcissa drew her fingers out and then swiftly back in. Every moment of gentle foreplay led up to the demanding pace she set. She purposefully teased and drew out Bella’s arousal taking control from her, but she doled out release roughly in accordance with her sister’s desire. Adding another finger, she pushed as hard as she could in her current position. Her hand slipped easily through the dark witch’s arousal as she pumped in and out. She looked up just long enough to see the girl actively struggling with a distinct look of lust in her eyes. With a smirk, Narcissa changed the position of her hand so that every stroke hit Bella’s clit. The older witch let out a strangled cry as she barrelled towards release. The blonde moved her free hand to toy roughly with a nipple while she enjoyed the view of her sister moving needily against her hand and her young lover’s unwavering gaze.

“Please, Cissa, please.”

“Yes, Bella. Let go for me darling.”

After a few ragged breaths, she felt her sister’s muscles clench around her fingers. The dark witch finally allowed her body to sag backwards against her sister, attempting to regain her breathing as she felt the arms around her tighten protectively.

Chapter Text

Driven by her anticipation, Bellatrix coerced herself to recover quickly. Narcissa knew exactly how to work her body. She felt more relaxed, which cleared her mind. She no longer felt the need to kill the boys or seriously punish the girl. She would however, enjoy making her squirm. She stood and stretched out her limbs, allowing herself time to plan her next move. The choices were delicious. Her sister lay half naked behind her, wantonly watching her every move and her soulmate sat on the edge of her seat, unable to touch herself or anyone else. In all of her naked glory she strutted to her bound lover.

“Hermione. Look up at me.”

The girl struggled to move her eyes up the beautiful naked body in front of her. Seeing the girl’s failure, Bella crouched down to bring their eyes level. She delicately took her chin in her fingers, mandating eye contact.

“I’m going to walk over there and make Narcissa feel better than she ever has before. And I am going to leave you here tied up. I don’t want you to look away even for a moment. This is what you risk losing if you were to ever stray from me.” She placed a single finger over the girl’s lips just a moment before sound began coming out. “I know you have no intentions, but this is a warning. I won’t abide in seeing you in the arms of anyone outside of these doors. As you’ve gathered, my Cissa is a bit of an exception. There are moments when the lines between myself and her blur. But she knows the boundaries.” The dark witch leaned forward to capture the girls lips in a soft sensual kiss. She pulled away before it could do much more than stoke the fires of desire. As she stood and turned back to the bed, she heard the girl whimper in disappointment.

Narcissa lay exactly where she'd been left, sprawled across the bed half clothed. She wore a mask of indifference, but her eyes sparkled with the depth of her desire. Bella bent over her, delivering a warm kiss that conveyed her gratitude for the emotional support Cissy offered so freely. She backed away just enough to capture the blue eyes with her own.

"Let me thank you for all of the times I didn't," she whispered gently.

Narcissa nodded slowly. She still struggled to wrap her mind around the changes in her sister. She always treated Cissy with more sensitivity than anyone else, but this was unexpected. She would have lingered on the broader implications of the attitude shift in her sister, but a hot mouth clamped deliciously over her lace covered nipple. A moan she didn't mean to let escape reverberated off the walls and she heard traces of the girl struggling to get free. The blonde witch couldn't have imagined how sexy it was for the bound girl to watch her sister fuck her.

Bella moved her mouth over the opposite breast while she reached around to release the clasp of her bra. Without further hindrance, the dark witch launched a full scale assault on Narcissa's senses. The blonde witch arched her back towards the biting mouth and rough hands exploring her skin. Bellatrix's passion was somehow that no other could match or duplicate. Hoping to speed the descent of her sisters attention, she wove her hands again through the curls and pushed gently towards her center. In times past she would have been rebuked, but the older witch was teaching the girl a lesson. One which Narcissa was all too happy to capitalize on.

Bella slipped off of the bed, pulling the blonde witch's hips to the edge. Kneeling between open thighs, she caught her sister's eye before slowly tracing her tongue along the length of her sex over the silk covering. Narcissa threw her head back and gripped the sheets in her hands in an attempt to keep still. The dark witch chuckled at her struggle as she quickly removed the fabric separating her mouth from what she wanted most. Barrier removed, without warning she circled her tongue firmly around the swollen clit while holding bucking hips solidly in place. From her kneeling position she could see Narcissa unravel above her, and she was certain she could feel the eyes of her young lover burning into her bare back with envy.

Not wanting to further tease her sister, she shifted slightly to accommodate her hand and pushed three fingers swiftly in.

“Oh gods, Bella. Harder,” Narcissa demanded. The dark witch growled her agreement. She couldn’t be more pleased at her sister’s desires. There was a time in their youth when the youngest Black sister behaved like a delicate flower. Bellatrix proudly broke her of that behavior and relished in each and every shameless sweaty moment they shared. She drove into her sister, determined to earn every single groan of pleasure Narcissa could produce. She sucked her clit abruptly into her mouth and bit down less than gently. The blonde witch screamed her release much to Bellatrix’s delight. She delivered a final soft kiss before rising off her knees. She took in the sight of her usually put together sister. Her face and chest were flushed red and her blonde hair exquisitely out of place. She looked positively licentious.

Together the Black sisters sat on the bed watching the suffering witch. They’d worked her into a frenzy. A simple command out of either proud mouth and she would capitulate easily. They shared a look of understanding before approaching Hermione.

“You will do exactly as you are told,” the dark witch said hotly against her ear.

“And if I don’t,” she said defiantly as she fought against the invisible ropes.

“If you don’t follow her instructions, I imagine you will stay tied to that chair while we continue to have fun,” the blonde witch chimed in. “And you don’t want that, do you?”

“Not particularly.”

“Then what is it that you want, little witch?”

“You. Both of you now,” she ground out between clenched teeth. They were hovering so close to her she could smell their perfume, sweat and the essence of each of them.

In response, she heard Narcissa mutter a spell under her breath. Her clothes disappeared from her body instantaneously. There’d been little to hide the curves of her body to begin with, but under the scrutiny of two sets of Black eyes, she trembled in anticipation and desire. Bellatrix ran her hands slowly down the curves of the girl’s back, lightly scraping her skin with her fingernails. In response, Hermione pushed her chest forward and into Narcissa’s waiting hands. The fingers closed tightly around hardened nipples, tugging just to the point of pain.

“I’m going to release your hands. I want you to go get on the bed on your hands and knees.” Bella watched the girl quietly as a number of thoughts clearly flitted across her face. But in the end she chose compliance. Together the sisters watched as she sauntered and arranged herself on the bed, waggling her ass in the air as she settled in.

Four hands explored her at once. Narcissa’s implanted themselves in her hair, wrenching her head up and to the side, allowing her to passionately invade the girl’s mouth with her tongue. Hermione groaned and she began to melt into the bed.

“Stay up,” Bellatrix husked as she ran her fingertips along wet inner thighs. The young witch groaned but complied with the command, struggling slightly. The dark witch traced into her need, dipping a fingertip into her. Hermione attempted to push back into the pressure, but was thwarted by the removal of the finger. As soon as she stopped moving the finger reappeared. After several cycles, she learned to be still. Pleased with her comprehension, Bellatrix slowly slid two fingers in, twisting and turning to hit every deliciously sensitive spot. The girl responded with a loud moan that vibrated Narcissa’s conquering lips. Greedily she drove her hips backwards, attempting to be more filled by the older witch’s fingers.

“Do you want more, love?”

Hermione broke the kiss in order to respond. “I need more, please Bella. I’ll do anything.”

“Cissa. Get on the bed,” Bellatrix responded without moderating the motions of her hand. “And you my dear lover, I want you to pleasure her. You don’t come until she does, so I suggest you focus.”

Hermione whimpered but lowered her head to the apex of Narcissa’s thighs. Though she lacked experience she was highly motivated to supply pleasure. She stroked her tongue lightly learning the preferences of the blonde witch, before aggressively applying pressure to the most sensitive areas. Bella watched hotly as the girl efficiently worked her sister towards another orgasm. Recognizing the signals of the impending climax, she doubled her pace slamming in and out of the girl. Reaching around Hermione’s hip, she roughly flicked her clit causing her to jump. She repeated the motion each time Narcissa neared the edge.

The blonde witch shook with the power of reaching the pinnacle of her pleasure by the girl’s mouth. Bellatrix roughly manipulated the swollen clit while thrusting relentlessly, and Hermione followed Narcissa only moments later. Her arms and legs gave out on her and she collapsed onto the bed. The dark witch removed her digits, trailing wetness up to the bundle of nerves, drawing tight efficient circles around the sensitive nub and sending the young witch spiraling into a second climax.

Chapter Text

Hermione actively tried to avoid thinking about the return to school. The last week of break was one of the most trying of Hermione’s life. After her non-reaction to the aggression at the ball, Bellatrix dedicated her time to training the girl herself. As a teacher the dark witch was intense and relentless. Being her lover afforded Hermione no leniency, instead it drove Bella to demand more, faster and with higher expectations than she had ever before. Initially she worried that the girl might be offended by her approach, but after each correction, even as the young woman was pushed to her physical and magical limits, her eyes glowed with adoration. After identifying that particular look, the older witch conscientiously decided to look for it in Hermione’s everyday interactions with others. She was pleased to discover that look was reserved for her alone. Even with Narcissa, the girl kept some emotional barriers.

Each morning Bellatrix taught the girl a handful of new spells and jinxes. She’d never experienced anyone aside from herself so adept at learning. It rarely took longer than two or three tries for Hermione to produce a powerful version. The accelerated comprehension provided opportunity for realistic scenario training. From the incident at the ball it was clear to her that the girl’s greatest weakness was her response in real life situations. Her lover was brilliant and powerful, but entirely inexperienced at combat. And so Malfoy Manor became a revolving door of the who’s who of the Dark Lord’s followers. Each of the witches and wizards that entered the practice room owed their life to Bellatrix and would in return do anything to assist her.

It didn’t hurt that the command to prepare the girl came directly from the Dark Lord. He had himself administered the secret keeper oath. At least until the end of the year, he needed to keep the bonding process of Bellatrix and Hermione a secret. His sources indicated that the pair would not gain the full extent of their powers until formally bonded in marriage. He’d contemplated the possibility of marrying them at New Years, but Madame Malfoy convinced him the situation was still tentative with Hermione acting like a scared animal when intimacy was forced. It was a risk to send her back to Hogwarts without the full protection of their bond. The Order would try to pull or bully her to their side by any means necessary. And it was imperative to keep them from knowing the extent of the closeness between the two witches. He was concerned that Dumbledore might do something drastic if he were aware that the two were only a few steps away from gaining the power mentioned in Bella’s prophecy. Between the oaths, the intensive defensive training, and the watchful eye of Snape and the Slytherin house, he believed the girl would remain safe. It was unlikely the forces of light would be able to do her physical harm, but the mental pressure would be intense. Fortunately the Dark Lord knew that the Order tended to overplay their hand. They would push the girl so hard that in the end she would run into the Dark Lord’s open arms. And the Order would be unaware that every time they insinuated something less than pleasant about himself, the Malfoys, and the eldest Black, they would be insulting the only people to have ever spared her any kindness.

In the afternoons after Hermione was beyond exhausted by the morning training exercises, she and Bellatrix would meet Narcissa in the library. From various reclining positions and with large quantities of tea, Hermione would manage to keep her eyes open. The three witches would practice wandless magic and exercise the extent of the mental connection between Hermione and Bella. Of the three, Hermione was by far the most skilled at wandless magic. Through her education by the other two, they discovered the extent of her talents. She was even able to execute some of the dark arts spells she’d recently learned. At her first display of this ability, Narcissa immediately launched into a litany of praise but Hermione couldn’t tear her eyes away from Bellatrix. The older witch’s body tensed and a look of soul consuming lust took over her beautiful face. The girl began teaching them to execute the dark spell wandlessly, but progress was slow.

Exploring the mental link between the fated lovers proved far simpler. With Cissa’s help they practiced connecting their minds without letting down the defenses that kept others out. They practiced throughout the manor and its grounds, experimenting with distance and other distractions. Largely they could converse or call the other at will during those times, provided both kept their minds open to the other. They had great fun using their unfair advantage to play pranks on the Malfoy men from time to time. The only time that week Bellatrix was called away from the girl, Hermione decided to test the link at a greater distance. She found that she couldn’t connect closely enough to communicate words or images, but she felt in her gut that Bellatrix could feel her. When the dark witch returned she confirmed the distinctive pull the girl had felt. The two decided that would be something they did in only the most extreme circumstances, as a final warning flare if there were no other options. With the apparition practice they’d been executing, there was a good chance they would be able to find the other in such a desperate situation. The appearance of such a safety net soothed Bella about her lover traveling so far from her.


 

The night before Draco and Hermione were to board the train back to Hogwarts, the newly formed family of five met for the final time that winter to lay a plan for the rest of the school year. Hermione was to keep her head down and do her best to pretend as though nothing had changed. She would use Draco’s presents to communicate with Bella as frequently as she wished. On days the students were allowed to go to Hogsmeade, they would have the ability to meet at the Shrieking Shack, but being seen together in public so close to school was too big of a risk. Narcissa firmly put her foot down that there would be no sneaking on the grounds to see the girl, which evoked an overly dramatic pout from her older sister. In reality, Bellatrix knew that her sister was right. It was ill advised to presume what kind of knowledge the old wizard knew about those who entered the grounds.

Hermoine would pretend to need additional help in potions, giving Severus the opportunity to continue the girl’s training. He would be able to add to her education in the dark arts, but he would also act as a support system for the girl while she was away. He knew more intimately than any other was it was like to be strung between the two sides of the war. Over the last two decades he played his part well. The Order believed they held his allegiance due to the offspring of Lily Potter. It was true that he’d loved her with every breath, but he quickly learned that the boy was far more like James than his mother. And like Hermione, the Dark Lord’s followers offered him kindness and family he didn’t find anywhere else. He would serve to keep Hermione and Draco abreast of any important developments, should there be any need. And though she didn’t belong to his house, Snape would serve as Hermione’s protector to other faculty members should the need arise.

Draco would lead the Slytherin house to keep the other’s from harassing the girl. She wouldn’t be expected to assimilate into their house, but they wouldn’t allow the Gryffindors to get out of hand. In moments of free time and within reason, Draco and Hermione would stay in the same vicinity for safety’s sake. In truth neither minded. They found companionship and friendship neither had expected. Both had been pulled into the adult warfare before their peers, and their association lessened the burden of carrying such knowledge at such a young age.


 

As Hermione packed her things to go back to school, Bellatrix sat behind her on the bed and watched with rapt attention as the girl bent over to pick things up. The dark witch hadn’t fully comprehended what it would be like to let her lover go back to Hogwarts. Since they’d formally met, they were never apart for more than a few hours. Already the spring felt like torture. She knew that the girl needed to go back to school both for herself and for the cause. Having Hermione and Draco within the walls with some of the most powerful members of the Order would be a useful way gain information. She walked up behind the young witch, pulling her tightly to her and whispering in her ear,

“I’m going to miss you far too much.”

She felt the girl tense and pause uncertainly. She knew this reaction well. Every time Hermione felt emotionally exposed she would take a long moment to compose herself before deciding how much to share. The girl’s body relaxed again as she responded,

“I can’t even tell you how much I am going to miss you. Parts of me really don’t want to go.”

Bella hummed in understanding saying, “But go you must. You deserve to finish your education and the Dark Lord needs you there.”

“I know. I just... I don’t like the idea of being away from you.”

“I will be as close as I can. And you know I am here,” the dark witch said, gently placing her hand over the girl’s heart. Her fingertips just barely brushed the chain of the Christmas present she’d given the girl. “I can take this off for you now. If I don’t, there will be no way to remove it at school.”

Hermione jumped from her arms with a protective hand clasping the necklace to her chest. She took a deep breath to calm her temper. “I don’t want it removed, Bella. I’m yours. That doesn’t change because I am going back to school.”

“But what if someone sees? What if the Order finds out?”

“I will be careful and wear it beneath my uniform. Only purebloods will recognize it anyways. You have to remember my house is mixed and the girls in my dorm won’t have a clue what it is.”

“Are you sure you want to wear this for the next 5 months?”

“I hadn’t considered ever removing it, so I would prefer you didn’t take it.”

Tears slipped out of the older witch’s eyes without her permission. She still struggled with the idea of being loved so thoroughly. Before this beautiful creature walked into her life, only Narcissa and the Dark Lord ever showed her open affection. The young form wrapped around her waist with her face buried in her curls proved time and time again she would do anything for Bellatrix. She made the long painful wait in prison worth it.


 

Boarding the train back to Hogwarts was one of the most difficult things Hermione ever had to do. She said her soulful and teary goodbyes to Bella in the early hours of the morning. She would first travel back to Timoleague to leave a few of her things and then proceed from there. The two needed not to be seen in London together and Hermione hoped to make a statement by showing up by herself. She wanted to be seen as independent and powerful. She knew once she was inside her compartment in the train that Draco, Crabbe and Goyle would come find her to keep her company. Everything about her world changed in the short weeks of winter break.

Chapter Text

Hogwarts seemed changed to Hermione. She wasn’t sure if perhaps it was she that changed. Whispers of actions in the impending war were becoming louder. Apparently over the Christmas holiday, the Weasley patriarch was attacked. Naturally the Gryffindor’s were up in arms and the rumors of Dumbledore’s Army were overtaking normal schoolyard gossip. Draco and his friends were selected members of the Inquisitorial Squad by the High Inquisitor herself, Professor Umbridge. The invitation had been extended to Hermione as well, but at the Dark Lord’s instructions she turned it down. He made it clear that her only job for the remainder of the year was to learn as much as she could and keep her head down. She and Bellatrix were to be the secret weapon to champion his cause. Her staunch mediocrity at Hogwarts would largely convince Dumbledore and the Order that either the prophecy was wrong or she was not the right witch.

Hermione heard from Draco when the Inquisitorial Squad proudly caught Dumbledore’s Army practicing in the room of requirement. He recounted how the ridiculous pink witch blew a tremendous hole in the wall to drag the students out. With the Order entirely out of power within the walls of the school, the High Inquisitor became more and more controlling of the student body. The pureblooded students invited to the Malfoy’s New Year’s Ball gave her wider berth than before. Bella’s “warning” to the boys seemed to have made its way through the entire Slytherin house. Those close to Draco were protective but respectful of her space. The squad gave Hermione and Draco the ability to have more frequent private tutoring sessions with Snape. Together they covered occulmency, healing spells and the Unforgivable Curses. Much to the professor’s delight Hermione’s occulmency was nearly perfect. She became a passable healer for battlefield injuries. Like her lover, she took to the Unforgivables like she’d been casting them her entire life. Privately she wondered if she could produce them against another human being. Practice was one thing. She felt nothing for the practice creatures Snape conjured for them to learn on, but she remained torn. In the back of her mind, she recognized that situationally if she believed someone threatened Bellatrix’s well being she would curse first and ask questions later.

Very few of the changes affected Hermione’s everyday life. She’d never invested in extracurricular activities and didn’t notice their absence for several weeks. A quiet descended over the school that she found conducive to studying. Umbridge didn’t dare subject the young witch to the same corrective measures as the rest of the student body, though Hermione never stepped a toe out of line. Also off the table were visits to Hogsmeade. While Umbridge’s intent was only to control the DA, Hermione was heartbroken not to be able to see Bellatrix during the spring. The letters that they sent back and forth were certainly better than nothing, but the Dark Lord had the older witch on constant missions. Hermione knew it was part of being with the beautiful witch, but she felt isolation more sharply than she had before. On the handful of nights she was nearly inconsolable, she caught snippets in her dreams of what Bella was doing which calmed her some.

The lockdown of the student body was so severe that in the weeks leading up to the O.W.L.s Hermione and Draco were unable to sneak away to have time with Professor Snape. The young witch noticed a shift in his behavior. He seemed more tense than usual. He’d been acting as the go between the Dark Lord and herself, though the messages weren’t frequent she had the distinct feeling that he needed to tell her something. For a week he tried subtle means to be able to have a private conversation with her, but a moment that wouldn't draw attention never presented itself. Uncharacteristically he detoured from his normal topics of education into a rant about the importance of prophecies. During the end of his short tirade he couldn’t break his stare away from her. As the students walked quietly out of the classroom at the end of the period, Hermione made her way to Draco’s side, guiding him by the elbow away from the crowd of students. They walked silently to the library, where they found a secluded corner and cast silencing spells. It was a risky move, but the witch was certain that it was the proper moment.

“What’s going on, Hermione?”

“Don’t you think it was odd that Professor Snape was going on about prophecies?”

“I mean I suppose, but did you have to drag me to the library to ask if Snape was acting strangely?”

“He stared at me the entire time, Draco. I am certain he was communicating with me. What do you know about prophecies? Are there other books like Bella’s?”

“One question at a time. I know some, not a lot. My mother tried to cram as much in my head as she could before we came back to school. No there aren’t many books in existence like the Black family book. But most are stored in the Ministry of Magic.”

“They keep them all in the same place. Has the Inquisitorial Squad heard anything about them?”

“No. Nothing about prophecies, but my Mum did say that there is a prophecy about Potter. Though I doubt he even knows about it. She said that the Dark Lord wanted it. That it contained vital information.”

“So why does he not simply acquire it himself or send someone else to do it for him?”

“Prophecies can only be retrieved by those about whom they are made.”

“But after it’s been gathered, can it be taken?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Very good. I think it is time we made a plan. I think that things are about to move very quickly and we need to be ready. Snape’s rant this afternoon makes me think that there may be a confrontation planned wherever in the Ministry prophecies are held. And I think he wants us to intervene.”

“Why would he need us when there is an entire army of Death Eaters?”

“Perhaps he thinks fighting like with like is more practical. Potter and Company are teenagers. They think and act like teenagers. They will be unpredictable in ways the trained fighters have a hard time of combatting. I think our teacher was trying to tell us that it is time to put our fighting skills to the test.”

“I can practically see the wheels turning, Miss McCarthy. I suggest you spill.”

“From what we know. The so called Golden Trio has always been on the sloppier side in terms of planning. If they do intend to retrieve a prophecy and the Death Eaters interrupt them, there is likely to be chaos. What if someone terribly clever were to find a way to swap prophecies during the scuffle.”

“Whose would we replace it with?”

“I think we do one better than that, my friend. I think we make a fake prophecy and make sure it ends up in the hands of the Order.”


 

Hermione slept little in the week leading up to the end of term exams. She didn’t once crack a book for her subjects. She could achieve a passing grade in her sleep for the 5th year exams. She dedicated her time to researching the syntax and magical properties of prophecies. At first glance it was the simplicity of her plan that she believed would work. And the execution would be simple. They only had to discover where and when to show up and count on a bit of luck. Creating the prophecy was challenging. The witch subsided primarily on research and invigoration draught. Being the favorite of the potions professor had its privileges. Though she hadn’t had recent access to his store rooms, he had happily allowed her to make her own modest store just for such circumstances.

The day of the administration of the O.W.L.s, Hermione followed her classmates into the large hall of desks to take her exam. Unlike her peers, she walked in with a distinct sense of victory. In the middle of the night she had a breakthrough. She finally managed to insert the prophecy she wrote into the glowing ball. She could feel the need for sleep tugging at her edges and hoped that she would quickly finish her exam and be able to put her head down for just a few minutes and rest. She finished as planned. There was nothing unusual about the exam. She even intentionally answered a few questions wrong to ensure her score wouldn’t be perfect. Just as she began to relax and drift away she heard a loud banging on the door. She watched groggily as two of the Weasley’s set off magical fireworks and flew their brooms through the hall, tormenting the pink witch. She went with her classmates as they streamed out of the hall and into the sunlight. She stood passively at the back of the crowd, watching the gleeful celebrations. She saw when the Potter boy fell.

She knew at that moment that it was beginning. Whatever storm was coming, this would be the catalyst.

Chapter Text

In the moments after the chaos, Hermione watched the so called Golden Trio slip through the crowd at a run. Draco gave her a knowing look. This was the sort of sign they’d been looking for. As he started to move towards her, his elbow was caught by Umbridge. He dutifully trailed behind her, casting an apologetic look over his shoulder. She knew he had hoped to be able to slip away together to get their final preparations. As Hermione had feared nothing was going to plan, but the adrenaline pumping through her body was enough to keep her moving. She moved as quickly and inconspicuously towards the Ravenclaw tower, grateful that they’d been so thoughtful in their preparations. Hermione had thought to store all of their gear in one place. She had decided to keep it warded in her quarters, because she had come to the stark realization that her power far surpassed her peers and that even in the most dire circumstances she would be able to find her way there.

Tucked away at the bottom of her trunk were two sets of black clothes. There were no discerning marks on the fabric. They were intended to blend in with the Death Eaters. Neither Draco nor Hermione had yet received the mark, so there were no masks to obscure their faces. Instead the heavy outer robes had deep hoods they would use to hide their identity. And they would have to be lucky. Hermione changed quickly into her set of clothes, brushing her fingers reverently against the Black family crest hanging around her neck. She had never stopped longing for Bellatrix. Regardless of how the night went, whether she succeeded or failed she would end her day at Malfoy Manor. There was no way after breaking into the Ministry of Magic that she would be staying the night at Hogwarts. In a hidden and protected pocket in her cloak she slipped the false prophecy before magically sealing it. Only a handful would be able to find and extract it. She told Draco of its location just in case, but only she or Bellatrix would be able to remove it. She strongly suspected that the Dark Lord would be able, which was fine with her.

Shrinking the set of clothes and robes belonging to Draco, she slipped them in her bag and left the tower. She again had to slow her pace to match the normal cadence of students making their way through the school. Passing students gossiped about the Inquisitorial Squad once again collecting Dumbledore's Army and taking them to Umbridge’s office. She moved in that direction, attempting to look and feel less tired and tense than she did. Just below it she heard a muffled conversation and watched as Snape slipped back out of the office door, shaking his head. He paused and looked in her direction where she hid in a dark corner. She felt a familiar gentle probing at her mental barriers. Seeing the smirk on his face, she realized he knew exactly what he was doing. She lowered enough to allow him to communicate. Through her mind floated his ever calm, measured, voice in a simple statement,

“It's time.”

She froze and threw her walls back up. Feeling the enthusiastic mental shove, just the corner of Snape’s lip curled into a small prideful smile before he glided away. She watched as Lavender and Harry were led from the office by the pink witch at wand point. She stalked up the staircase to the office entrance, hoping to be able to pick Draco’s thoughts out of the crowd’s. The room was practically screaming at her as she sifted through the group. Finding the one calm strand, she knew it was her blonde friend. She gently pushed at him, hoping he would realize who it was. Evidently he did as she suddenly found it much easier to whisper,“Outside the door,” to him.

After a few moments he slipped quietly out, looking for her. She stepped from the shadows slowly, allowing him to fully take in the effect of her appearance. She looked fierce. Her clothing was every bit as intimidating as what he had seen her lover wear on the nights of battles and the determined look on her face. He was so grateful to be fighting with her and not against her. He had no doubt that if she was seriously challenged the types of spells that would fly out of her want would be nothing like what he had ever seen before. He made his way down the staircase to her. As he stepped into the alcove of shadows he said,

“It's time isn’t it.”

“I think so. Between what I’ve seen today and Snape’s indication I think we go now as quickly as we can.”

Her debrief was interrupted by the office door. Out spilled the 4 remaining members of Dumbledore’s Army. In shock Draco began to raise his arm and move towards them, but she caught his arm to keep them in the shadows. Once they passed she released her grip.

“It's better they didn’t see either of us. We need the floo in that office. Go see what is going on and clear the room if you can.”

He scaled the steps two at a time to find a handful of very sick looking Slytherins. Without thought he pushed them out and down, telling them to return to the dungeons or the hospital wing. The group slinked away and Hermione dashed up to meet him. Opening her bag and handing Draco his clothes, she turned her back to him, providing as much privacy as she could. After he finished the quick change he said,

“Ok. One more run down of the plan.”

Hermione burst out laughing. “Well, mostly we are going to improvise. The general idea is to get to the Ministry and figure out where the prophecies are kept and try to get Potter’s out of his hands.”

“I know where the prophecies are kept.”

“You what,” Hermione said looking at her companion incredulously.

“I know where the Hall of Mysteries is. I know how to get there. My father has taken me there a few times.”

Once again, Hermione found herself being shocked at the amount of privilege pureblooded children experienced. She pushed down the feeling of being cheated by leading her friend into the fireplace with her.

“Alright Malfoy,” she began playfully. “Let's do this.”


 

The pair stepped hesitantly out of the roaring green fireplace. Draco took a moment to gather his bearings before nodding meaningfully to the witch. Together they tugged up their hoods to obscure their identities the best they could. With Hermione on the tail of his robe, he moved quickly through the ministry to the winding corridor that would lead them to the dark room. As they reached the door they could hear from within the echoing voices of their classmates. The young witch let out a breath she hadn’t known she was holding at the realization they managed to be at the right place at the right time.

Once inside the room, Hermione led Draco around the outside edges of the rows. Dumbledore’s Army gathered in the middle chatting loudly. Until a solid voice spoke slowly over the crowd,

“Harry, this one’s got your name on it.”

The hush over the room was palpable. All eyes were on the young man lifting his arm up to the high shelf, except Hermione’s. She felt a familiar pull at her body, the one that told her that her lover was nearby. She struggled to control her desire to find the dark witch and jump directly into her arms. She brushed her fingertips against Draco’s wrist, drawing his attention to Bella and Lucius’ stealthy approach. She smiled when she heard her lover’s voice raise. The false insanity registered faintly, but the young witch was too distracted by the seductive overtones. It led her to believe that she was not the only one aware of the other's presence. For the first time, Hermione wondered if she’d made the right decision. Neither she nor Draco asked permission nor passed their plan by anyone. She didn’t want to anger Bellatrix, but the isolation had driven them to action. And she was prepared to deal with the consequences.

They watched as the DA subtly created a defensive circle before blasting spells at the Death Eaters. Against her protective instincts, Hermione forced her attention towards Potter. When he took off at a sprint weaving through aisles, she mimicked his path on the outside edges of the room. She watched Death Eaters attempting to follow the boy in apparition form. He knocked several backwards and skidded around a corner to try to catch his breath. Seeing an opportunity beginning to open, she crept towards him. Hermione arrived near him, within a few meters, but tucked away behind another row. A sharp pained scream echoed through the hall distracting the crouching boy. It was just enough to cause the prophecy he was clutching to slip from his fingers and roll towards Hermione. She moved quickly to retrieve it but froze realizing she couldn’t do so without drawing his attention.

“What are you doing Potter,” Draco sneered in his best annoying voice.

Harry spun, wand drawn, at the familiar antagonistic voice. Hermione quickly retrieved the fake prophecy and switched them. She handled the real prophecy with great care as she magically stored and protected it. Drawing back into the shadows, she heard the distinctive cry of her friend. She extracted a less extreme version many times before in practice. Potter ran past her, snatching the fake prophecy off the ground as he headed towards his waiting friends.

She darted to her fallen friend. His shirt was ripped open and he was bleeding badly. She muttered the strongest of the healing spells Snape taught her. It seemed to slow the bleeding, but it did nothing to alleviate his pain or close the cuts. She was out of her depth. The only option was to get out. She performed a weightless charm allowing her to gather the man in her arms. She moved as smoothly as she could without losing speed. As they left through the door, she heard the crashing of racks and prophecies. Knowing her time might very well be limited, she pushed herself into a run, stopping only when she reached the floos in the main entrance. In the fireplace she yelled “Malfoy Manor” and closed her eyes at the travel.



Stepping out of the fireplace in the familiar hall, Hermione lowered Draco gently onto the ground. He grunted in pain and grasped weakly at her hand. She took it in her own, drawing a deep breath in before shouting at the top of her lungs for the boy’s mother.

Chapter Text

Narcissa was sitting in the library with Snape, waiting anxiously for the return of the Death Eaters. After so many years, she would have thought she’d get used to waiting for her loved ones to return from battle. But it never got easier. She knew that her sister and husband were among the strongest fighters, but it did little to quell her concerns. Hearing her name screamed by a familiar voice in a state of panic, she knew her worst fears would be confirmed. She jumped up and dashed from the room without so much as even looking at the wizard sitting across from her. They’d been so engrossed in conversation that she hadn’t noticed the increased roar of the fireplace when the floo activated. It was too early still for the main group of fighters to be back. More importantly Hermione wasn’t to be in the fight.

Narcissa threw open the doors only to have her heart jump into her throat at the sight of the Hermione crouched over the body of her son. The look of absolute devastation on the young girl’s face clearly communicated the severity of the situation.

“Potter hit him with a slicing hex. I... I tried to stop the bleeding. I used the healing spell Professor Snape taught me but it wasn’t enough,” the girl said in a single breath.

Narcissa gently moved the girl’s hands aside to perform the healing herself. She chanted more advanced counter curses, exercising the full extent of her powers. Hermione watched on helplessly as Snape approached the doorway, potion bottles already in hand. She scooted back to allow him access to the other side of her friend’s body. She continued until her body pressed up against the wall and she used it to keep herself upright.

She watched as the two worked in tandem as though they had many times before. Hermione shook her head to clear her thoughts. Obviously Narcissa and Snape had done this previously. They were even ready. It wasn’t as though Snape always carried blood replenishing potions with him. She realized that she was sitting in the home base of the attack tonight.

In a burst of green flame, a battle ravaged Bellatrix stepped into the room high on the adrenaline rush from the fight. Her wild dark eyes fell on the damaged body on the floor and the worried form of her sister hovering about her only son. She felt her magic spark and turned to see her lover slumped against the wall. The girl stood shakily at her presence. The dark witch stalked over to the girl, gathering her in a protective embrace and placing a fierce kiss on her inviting lips. Pulling back she said harshly,

“What the fuck happened? What were you doing? Why were you there? What happened to him? Why didn’t you protect him?”

The questions flew out of her mouth at a rate Hermione could barely process, much less answer. The force of her voice caused the girl to press her body flat against the wall and refuse to make eye contact. The air around them changed as Severus stepped towards them, effectively stopping whatever Bellatrix had planned. He calmly placed a hand on the younger witch's shoulder to draw her attention.

“You did well. Had you not performed the spell as I taught you he would not have survived. He isn’t awake right now, but he will recover in time.”

The ever mysterious wizard stared knowingly at the older witch for a beat before stalking off after Narcissa as she transported her son upstairs with the help of the house elves. At his departure, Hermione again dropped her eyes to the ground, remembering her lover’s previous tone. She felt the physical closeness of the other witch before the cool slender hand traced her cheek bone.

“I’m sorry, little witch. That's a side of me I don’t want you to be acquainted with. I wasn’t... entirely in control.”

“It's ok, on some level I know I deserve it.”

Before Bella could formulate a response, a flurry of Death Eaters apparated and flooed into the hall. Snape returned from upstairs and began tending to injuries alongside the less injured. In a great rush of air the Dark Lord swept into the room, black robes flowing behind him. His sharp eyes searched the crowd before finding Lucius. Seemingly walking on air itself, he approached the blonde wizard,

“Malfoy, my prophecy,” he demanded. Immediately the blonde began stumbling on his words and issuing grandiose apologies.

“My Lord, we nearly had it, but the boy dropped it in the battle. I’d almost talked him into handing it over when the Order rushed the room. We were betrayed. They knew where we were.”

“I don’t suffer failures, Lucius. You know this.”

“My Lord,” he began pleadingly. He never finished the apology on the tip of his tongue.

Hermione watched the scene before her unfolding. She wasn’t able to adequately protect his son, but she wouldn’t let unnecessary harm come to him on the same day. She summoned all of her energy to move herself away from the wall. She could feel the ache of the lack of sleep and expenditure of energy on magic in every fiber of her being. She consoled herself with the thought that after a brief conversation she would be able to reward herself with a hot bath and bed. If she was very lucky perhaps the beautiful witch she loved would join her, but either way her head would soon be hitting a pillow. She brushed past Bellatrix. She heard a sound come out of her lover’s lips, but she couldn’t quite make out the words. Without pause she proceeded to where the Dark Lord was verbally reprimanding her friend. She bowed in an attempt to draw his attention.

“Miss McCarthey,” he drawled in his authoritative tone. “I hadn’t expected to see you for a few more days.” His words dripped with charm and Hermione knew why his followers remained devoted.

“May I have a word, my Lord? In private?”

“I assume that it is essential at this moment.”

“It is my Lord.”

“Very well. Right this way.” He led her out of the room and towards the library, but not before signaling for her lover to follow them. He ushered the young witch into the room following closely behind her, but leaving the door for Bella to close behind them.

Hermione spun to look into his glowing eyes. “I apologize for the appearance of any deception my Lord.” She gripped onto the couch attempting to remain in control of her body. She knew there was something wrong and that she needed to very quickly debrief and put the prophecy into his hands. “We couldn’t get any communication in or out, because of Umbridge. When our ability to meet with Snape was cut off, we were only getting vague clues. But we knew that Dumbledore’s Army was planning something big. So Draco and I decided to fight fire with fire. We knew that we had exactly the same weaknesses and strengths as them and that it might work towards our advantage.”

“You were there,” he asked incredulously.

“We were, my Lord. But we largely stayed out of the fray. We weren’t there to fight without your command, but we went to exchange prophecies.”

“Exchange, but they can only be retrieved by the person they are about. And I didn’t think yours resided there.”

“I removed it long ago,” Bellatrix interjected. “It was about me too, love. It's how I was able to get it,” she explained to the light questioning eyes searching her face.

“I made one. I don’t know if it was any good. I hoped that it would fool the Order if it fell into their hands. But I suppose that we’ll never know. I hear that it met an end on the Ministry’s floor.”

“You made a prophecy?”

“It wasn’t all that hard. I wrote the prose to match the cadence of the majority of prophecies. Getting it into the globe was much more difficult. I was awake for several consecutive days getting it just right, but by the end it looked like an extremely convincing copy. Then after exams we noticed the D.A. brats acting strangely. A few hints from Professor Snape and we knew it was time. My plan was just to get us inside the Ministry and luck into a moment to switch them. Knowing how sloppy Potter’s plans usually are, I suspected that there might be a moment that I could take advantage of.”

Hermione paused to take a deep breath and steady herself. She really felt as though she might drop at any moment, but it would only take a few more moments and then it would all be over.

“When we arrived we could hear them loudly debating what to do next. It seemed as though this time they hadn’t even bothered to make a plan. They found the prophecy then things began moving very quickly. Luc and Bella appeared and attempted to talk the boy into handing it over. Then the fighting broke out and everyone scattered in every direction. Draco and I followed Potter at a safe distance, hoping to get him alone.”

At the memory, Hermione felt her face heating up. She could almost smell the blonde’s blood spilling out of his body onto her hands. She looked down momentarily, realizing she hadn’t even bothered to clean up. Anxiously she wrung her hands together, wishing they didn’t bear the marks of her near failure.

“We got lucky and the prophecy rolled away from him unharmed. Just as I was leaning down to swap them Potter nearly saw me. Draco distracted him, saving my life and the mission. But the boy hit him with a slicing jinx. I did all I could to heal him, but it wasn’t enough. So I rushed back here.”

“You are a very gifted witch, Hermione.” She looked up at his use of her first name. He even said it with affection. After her gross failure to keep Draco safe, she had expected to be kicked out of Malfoy Manor and Bella’s life. Turning to see her dark lover, she took in the look of amazement, respect and love on her face.

Summoning every last bit of her energy she unbound the magic in her robe protecting the prophecy. She carefully removed it from it's hiding place and placed the whole and glowing sphere into his hand with a great sense of accomplishment. Inspite of her sense of relief a coldness creeped into her. Her vision blurred and she felt her body crumple. She didn’t have the strength to speak so instead she thought as clearly as she could manage, “I love you, Bella. I always will.”

Chapter Text

When Hermione began to regain consciousness the scent of cinnamon and pine magic flooded her senses. She felt her pulse quicken, knowing it could be no one but Bellatrix. The scent was entirely unique. She attempted to open her eyes, but they felt too heavy to move. She similarly tried her extremities, but had no greater success. Suppressing the urge to panic she tried to retrace her last thoughts. She was debriefing the Dark Lord and performed a simple spell to retrieve the prophecy from her robe. And her body went cold. She hoped remembering would be more comforting than that. She attempted to reach Bella with her magic, but couldn’t find enough of a spark to hold on to. Feeling thoroughly trapped in her own body and more than a little frustrated, she let out a loud scream in her head. Much to her surprise the scream managed to reach her vocal chords, though not in the way she intended. Instead a small squeak resonated in the back of her throat.

Even such a miniscule vocalization drew the attention of the person attending her. The cool slender hand on her head was familiar, but the vanilla and jasmine belonged not to Bella but to her sister. Soft lips hit against her ear,

“Don’t try to move or perform magic, little witch. Your body has been through quite an ordeal." The soft fingers trailed through her hair in a gentle massage.

"My sister used her magic to bind you. In order to heal, we needed to keep you still. So don't fight it. You are strong, but her spells are incredible when she puts so much emotion into them."

Hermione heard the familiar snap of the woman's fingers as she summoned an elf and dispatched him to retrieve Bellatrix. In mere seconds he was back with a loud pop. She heard the rustle of full skirts that could only have been created by her lover. Instantly she felt herself relax. So long as the dark witch was by her side, she knew she was safe.

"What is it, Cissy? The elf didn't give me any details. Is she ok?"

"I think she is conscious again. She managed to make a small sound a few minutes ago."

A throaty chuckle resonated through the room. "It figures that she would be able to break through my magic even if only a little. You would show off even in your current state wouldn't you, my love."

Bellatrix looked down at her still recovering lover, contemplating her options. Every part of her wanted to protect the girl's every move, but knowing she was awake and too depleted to communicate magically broke her heart.

"I am going to unbind you now, but don't try to move. Just open your eyes. You will be extremely weak." She paused to let her words sink in before drawing her wand. She allowed her magic to flow through her as she loosened the bonds on the girl. She watched tensely as long eyelashes fluttered before opening slowly.

"Hey there, beautiful. You have no idea how much I've missed those eyes," she said quietly.

"I'll let you two catch up," Narcissa said distantly.

Her tone confused Hermione, but the girl couldn't bear taking her eyes off Bella. As the door clicked closed the dark witch allowed the calm facade to crumble. Tears held back for many days streamed down her face. A weak and shaky hand gripped her sleeve and pulled her slightly towards her. Normally Bella would fight against such a show of emotion, but the last week had been anything but normal. She lowered herself next to the still unmoving body to bury her face in the slender pale neck. She let the tears fall until there was nothing left. She allowed her breathing to resume a normal cadence. She bounced her wild curls back and out of her eyes so that she could stare into the depths of the beautiful light brown eyes. When she found them, she noted that the very corners of the girls lips curled slightly.

“Listen and don’t try to talk. I know that will be difficult for you,” Bellatrix winked playfully. She began delicately trailing her hands down the girl’s body. After so many days without use, her muscles were bound to be stiff.

“Before I tell you everything, Draco is ok. He is doing far better than you are now. He has been up and moving for several days. You saved his life both in the ministry and by bringing him back here. It was quite ingenious. But Cissy, well you will have to make it up to her on your own.” She paused, allowing Hermione to process her words. She thought she might be projecting, but it seemed as though the eyes seemed less worried now. She transformed her gentle touches into a languid massage hoping to chase out lingering discomfort.

“You made quite the entrance here. You practically drug our Lord away from Malfoy. Though, you did save him from an unpleasant punishment. I wish you could have seen the look on his face when you pulled the unbroken prophecy from your robes. I thought for a moment that he might bow to you.” The dark witch cackled at her own joke. Hermione managed to move her lips enough to properly smile. She inhaled deeply to try to speak, but a finger was on her lips before she could manage a word. But it stayed only a moment before returning to her extremities.

“I watched as the light went out of your eyes. And then what you said. Hermione, I thought you were gone. Never fucking do that to me again,” she said almost panting. Bella closed her eyes for a moment quelling the rising anger. Under control again she continued, “the Dark Lord himself healed you. Had he not been present....”

Hermione flexed her fingers, gauging her muscular abilities. The gentle touch of Bella’s hands seemed to be imbuing her body again with strength. With considerable effort she interwove their fingers and squeezed. Dark eyes searched her face for any trace of strain. Deciding it was safe to continue on she started again,

“In your absolute determination to make a difference, you managed to entirely deplete your body of energy. You pushed every ounce out of your body with the final spell to retrieve the prophecy. It was remarkable that you managed to hand it over before you fell. He saved you by injecting you with my magic. It was an incredibly rare piece of magic. There are very limited situations in which it would have been successful. But it seems as though your magic has fully accepted me.”

Hermione finally gathered herself enough to whisper to request water. She needed to be able to talk to Bella. A glass was lifted gingerly to her lips as a steady hand lifted her head slightly to make the task easier.

“I am so sorry,” she said noting her voice was rougher than usual. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I didn’t even think. I just saw an opening for how I could make a difference and I took it. I had no idea how things were going here. It was so isolating.”

Bellatrix listened carefully attempting not to cry again. “We didn’t consider what it was like inside the school. We knew that Severus would keep you safe at all costs. I should have known that eventually you would take matters into your own hands. That blasted incompetent pink witch. She got power hungry. I swear if she harmed a hair on your head...”

“She didn’t. There might have been a time or two she considered it, but she was smart enough not to try. I am not sure I would have been able to keep my head down.”

The older witch playfully touched their foreheads before gently pressing their lips together. “Don’t you dare ever do that to me again. At least let me fight by your side. Being powerless and watching the life drain out of you. I felt my sanity slipping away with you. I would become a demon without you.”

“I won’t do it again, I promise.”

“I need more than just a promise. I need to have you forever. Will you, Hermione? Will you be mine forever?”

“I’ve always been yours, Bella. Nothing about that can ever be changed.”

“I want it to be official. Be bonded to me. Marry me.”

Hermione struggled into a seated position and pulled herself flush against her lover’s gorgeous body. “Just tell me when and where.”

Bellatrix kissed her slowly and softly until the younger witch pushed her slightly away. “I won’t break you know. Like you mean it, please.”

Hermione watched the pupils of the beautiful dark eyes expand. The dark witched licked her lips before launching herself at the girl. She wanted the girl to not expend as much energy by sitting up, and truth be known she did prefer being on top. She thoroughly kissed and nipped at the proffered lips, determined to communicate in a way that only she could the full extent of her desire. Before their private celebration could heat up, a sharp rapping at the door caused Bella to climb off the bed.

“Hermione,” Draco said. His voice was colored with emotion both relief and gratitude.

She gingerly repositioned herself until she was seated with light help from her lover. When he reached the bed, he enveloped her in a warm embrace.

“I am so glad to see you awake,” he said, perching on the edge of her bed.

“The same goes for you, blondie. I thought you were going to abandon me at the first battle. And then I would have had to carry out all of our plans alone.” She looked at her lover, seeing the warning flashing in the dark eyes.

“Oh that would have been most cruel. You would have had to go all alone,” he replied, easily catching on to Hermione’s joke. “But you shouldn’t tease my aunt so.” Turning towards Bellatrix he continued, “this was the only plan we had. There is nothing left up our sleeves. And if there were, we both know my mother would lock us in our room until we confessed every last detail.”

“That I would,” Narcissa said returning to the conversation. “Anyway Miss MacCarthy, I think you have more than enough to be repentant for. I would not recommend adding to the list.” The blonde Black sister remained stiff and cold as though she were talking to a stranger.

“Be nice, Cissy. The girl has just survived a harrowing ordeal and has just agreed to marry your crazy older sister. That should be enough to keep you happy for now.”

Draco threw his arms around Hermione rapidly congratulating her and asking his aunt for further details and plans. The girl however heard nothing of what was being said. She was focused on the steely blue eyes connected with her own.

“Come Draco, we mustn’t overexert her.”

“Cissa...” Hermione whispered on the verge of begging.

Against her better judgement, the blonde crossed the room into the drooping open arms of the girl. She held the slightly shaking form closely, knowing tears were finally rolling down the girl’s cheeks. She cooed the girl’s name, promising everything would be ok. Feeling the girl relaxing once again into her exhaustion, she laid her back down and placed her head carefully on the pillow. Before Hermione’s eyes closed, Narcissa said so only she could hear,

“You will still need to apologize to me properly, but you won’t be capable until you fully recover.”

Chapter Text

In the days after Hermione initially awoke, Draco had spent most of the daylight hours in her room keeping her company. They spent their time reading and discussing. He noted that his friend was considerably more relaxed and herself than she had been in some time. She was smiling and joking as she had been months before. At the time he had realized the amount of energy it required to keep up the constant facade while keeping herself safe. She’d given up so much already and been so isolated while at Hogwarts. He enjoyed the easy smiles and heated debates over profound magical concepts and quidditch matches with equal fervency. All such conversations paled in comparison to Hermione's constant attempts to obtain her freedom from the attending Black sisters. At first the young witch took a straightforward approach. She was rebuked by each woman in turn. By the third day without any autonomy, Draco observed a subtle shift in the girl’s attitude. He saw shades of her mischievous plotting self shining through. He’d just settled in to read, when he heard her break the silence in an overly sweet and meek tone.

“Narcissa, may I have my wand for just a moment? I’m feeling much stronger.”

“Bellatrix was clear.”

“I know, Cissa. But I just need to feel a little bit of magic again. I won’t do anything over the top.”

“If it’s so small, why not do it wandlessly?”

“Because that takes so much more energy, and I presumed you would prefer I asked for a wand instead.”

“Very well, Miss MacCarthy. But I would remind you that I haven’t received my first apology. Do not take advantage of this trust.”

“Nothing big, Cissy. I promise.”

The blonde crossed the room to retrieve the 10 ¾ vinewood wand from the magically secured drawer where her sister stored it. She paused considering her actions, but knew in the end she would indulge the girl. She had a painfully soft spot for the young woman who caused her beloved sister so much joy. She returned to the bed and handed the wand over slowly to the girl. The girl’s face lit up with it back in her hands.

“Draco, dear.”

“Yes, Mum?”

“I’ve a few things to attend to. I expect you will keep our guest company and within reasonable bounds.”

“Of course.” The words came out of his mouth with far more enthusiasm than necessary. He cringed inwardly hoping his mother would overlook the slip. She quirked her lips slightly while reading his face. Seemingly satisfied, she slipped quietly from the room. He turned his eyes back to the bed to see Hermione climbing out.

“Mione, come on. Please. My mum may not kill you, but she will kill me.”

“Relax, Draco. I just want a proper bath. That’s all. I won’t do myself any harm. I would invite you in, but as bad as you may think your mother is, I am certain my fiancée is worse.”

“Fine, but I am sitting right outside and I expect you to talk with me.”

“Yes, mother,” Hermione said teasingly. Her body was still tense from the ordeal. She knew that Bella kept her body clean with magic, but there was little substitute for a warm bath, particularly when it could be kept a pleasant temperature indefinitely. She gingerly removed the clothing to survey whatever damage her actions wrought. She was genuinely shocked to see no marks. Between the Dark Lord and Narcissa, she was beyond fortunate. Her error in judgement cost her less than two weeks of recovery and no lingering physical limitations.

She sunk into the sweet smelling water and felt her body instantly relax. It felt so deliciously normal. Not wanting to stress her brave blonde friend any further, she decided to be the first to break the silence. They chatted aimlessly about the ancient history and magic they'd spent the last three days researching. They'd yet to find anything groundbreaking, but the information served to soothe the brunette. The changes she was experiencing in her magic were not common, but also not unheard of in her bloodline. Knowing that she belonged as a part of something bigger began to reform her confidence.

Since discovering her blood status and familial background, she really hasn't been herself. Breaking ties with the Grangers hadn't helped. She knew she did what she had to do, but she felt cut off from her former self. Meeting Bella proved to be greatly comforting, but it was altogether too easy to lose herself in the older witch. The eldest Black had an undeniable charm that seemed to suck in anyone within any proximity to her. And then being at school again, but hiding all of the new parts of her was exhausting. She hoped that with the summer she would be able to find herself again. And if she were to formally marry Bellatrix, perhaps there would be less need to hide while at Hogwarts.

After an hour of luxuriating, Hermione pulled herself out of the bath. She summoned clean simple clothes to her. She was tired of sleep clothes and sitting in bed. She magically dried her hair, enjoying the feeling of her magic tingling through her wand. It was such a pleasant feeling. After only a few days of being forbidden to use it, she felt lost and deprived. Finally feeling much more like herself, she exited the bathroom to find her friend relaxing in a large armchair reading.

"Oh you look like you feel so much better."

"Thank you, Draco. I really do," she replied, slipping her wand into the back of her pants. "I'd like to go out for a bit of fresh air." She left little room for objections as she moved towards the door.

"Please. Hermione. Must you always get me in trouble with my mum?"

"You know I can't help it. If you weren't such a mummy's boy you wouldn't care so much." She softened her tone and threw the young man a wink. The words she said her absolutely true, but she didn't think it was a negative thing. She greatly enjoyed the closeness of the Malfoy family.

"I won't go far. I promise. Just a little stroll." She finished her last statement while crossing the threshold. He moved quickly intending to stop her. She stepped fully into the hallway but froze when she saw the the billowing black robes of her Lord walking towards her. She dropped her head and slowly lowered into a bow. Her blonde friend nearly ran into her, not having yet noticed the dramatic change in her behavior.

"Miss MacCarthy. Mister Malfoy."

"My Lord," the teens said in unison.

"I am pleased to see you looking so well, Miss MacCarthy. Would you like to take tea with me in the garden?"

"It would be my honor," Hermione replied, knowing it wasn't really a question to begin with.

Draco shuffled his feet slightly debating what to do. His instructions had been crystal clear from both his mother and his aunt.

"Don't worry, Draco," Voldemort said soothingly. "I doubt very much that your mother or aunt would punish you for trusting Miss MacCarthy in my care."

"Yes, My Lord. Thank you, My Lord."

The powerful wizard turned back to the young witch. "Come we will take tea in the garden. It is a lovely day out."

Hermione nodded and followed in his footsteps through the manor.


 

Lord Voldemort ushered the girl into a chair on the patio at a small table. As soon as he sat, elves arrived with a full tea setting. He waved the small creatures away, choosing to serve his guest instead. As he began pouring the tea he said,

"You are truly looking much recovered. I hardly expected it to work as quickly as it did."

"It is in no small part thanks to you my Lord. Had you not intervened, I would not have survived."

"It was remarkable how your body accepted Bellatrix's magic, her very life force into you. If there was any lingering doubt about her prophecy, it should be obliterated now."

"It is, my Lord. But I don't entirely understand what I did to injury myself so gravely. I didn't get hit by any errant spells."

"You are correct, Miss MacCarthy. It was no average battle wound. That, Bella would have been able to heal on her own. You did something far more rare. In addition to being utterly exhausted from lack of sleep, you exerted so much magical energy inmaking the orb. I suspect in addition to not sleeping, you also didn't manage to eat properly. " He paused allowing the girl to respond. She nodded her agreement.

"You gave your body no time or fuel to regenerate the magic inside of you. As a result by the time you were at the ministry, your natural stores were greatly depleted. Again you used a significant part of what remained to heal your friend. And the final straw was unprotecting the prophecy. It's quite remarkable you were able to use every bit of your remaining life force to perform magic. For average witches and wizards, they are simply unable to perform magic in such a state. But it seems you are in no way average."

“I am flattered and so grateful.”

“No, Miss MacCarthy. It is I who must be grateful. Keeping the prophecy from the Order has done me a great service.” He watched as she blushed deeply. While he wanted her to feel appreciated, he knew that overdoing it at this juncture would cause her to shut down. “I do believe I heard that congratulations are in order. I am so pleased that you are to bond with Bella.”

“Yes, my Lord. I am excited.”

“Have you considered a date yet?”

“I would like it to be before I return to school. I would like to go back as a Black. I don’t want to hide any more.”

“I think that is quite reasonable. You should be proud to be her future wife.”

“I am. I’ve never met anyone like her.”

“Nor have I, Hermione. I think you should consider having the ceremony before July.” He held his hand up, stopping her from responding. “I know that it is relatively close, but I think you will be surprised at how much your powers will change when you bond with your sonuacher. It may take time for you to learn how to control it. I imagine that the convalescence of your magic with Bella’s will be spectacular.”

“Narcissa is going to have a fit.”

“Yes, I suspect she will,” he chuckled conspiratorial. “But I also suspect that you have your ways of getting what you want with the entire Black family.”

Hermione smiled slightly. “I will ensure that we get married in June. But there must be other reasons.”

“You are very astute. There are. We will need to prepare yourself and Draco for the return to school. Instead of being on the fringes, you both have proved your ability to be in the thick of it. And I intend to have Draco take the mark.”

“Why? Is he not already in your service?”

“He is, of course. But the mark is more than just a sign of allegiance. As I am sure you know, it is a means of communication. It will also fortify his natural powers.”

“And you don’t need to mark me, because I lack nothing in power and Bella can always communicate with me.”

“Correct, Miss MacCarthy. And I would also note that I have no concern of your desertion. You would never leave your lover nor betray her.”

Hermione smiled sweetly. He was right. She couldn’t even imagine crossing Bella. Not after everything she’d been through the last few weeks.
In the fading light of the afternoon, Hermione and Lord Voldemort chatted over the last of the tea. He regaled her with stories of the first war and a younger version of her lover. She’d entirely forgotten about her current predicament until the Black sisters approached them.

Chapter Text

Voldemort announced the arrival of the company saying, “Hello Bellatrix, Narcissa.”

“My Lord,” they murmured together while bowing slightly.

“I appreciate you allowing me to borrow, Miss MacCarthy, for the afternoon. We had a lovely chat,” he said directly to the sisters. “And Miss MacCarthy, thank you. I hope we will have the opportunity to talk again soon. I believe there is much we can learn from one another.”

Hermione stood as he rose and bade him farewell, nodding appreciatively at the compliment. As his footsteps faded away, she turned slowly to face the two women, feeling more than a little trepidation about the reactions she might face. While she had intended to bathe and take a short walk, she hadn’t planned to be gone all afternoon. Being in the Dark Lord’s presence, she lost all concepts of time. He was as magnanimous as everyone had said. She took in the two attractive women. The difference in their appearances were so delightfully complementary. Full dark curls contradicted the straight long blonde hair, however the body language and facial expressions at that moment were an exact copy. And she wouldn’t describe either as particularly happy. To boot, they seemed to be content to wait her out and force her to speak first. Gathering her courage she walked slowly to Bellatrix, putting her arms tightly around the older witch’s neck, burrowing into her embrace and pressing a chaste kiss on her lips.

“Hi, Bella. How was your day?”

“It was productive, but predictable until I returned to our rooms and didn’t find you where I left you. May I ask what the bloody hell you were thinking?”

Hermione twitched at the tone, but neither shied away nor backed down. “As I am certain Cissa has told you, I requested my wand to do very simple bathing magic. I took a divine bath and was feeling so good that I thought I would get a little fresh air.” Turning her attention to the blonde she said pointedly, “In Draco’s defence he really did try to stop me. He would have used physical means, but he was afraid to hurt me. And as he tried to determine how to deter me, our Lord appeared and invited me to tea. He never had the opportunity to do as he was told.”

“Miss MacCarthy, I would not concern yourself with how I will deal with my son. I would spend my energy being more concerned about my own situation if I were you.”

“I truly meant no personal offence, Narcissa.”

“No, once again you did not consider what your actions would do to your family,” the blonde responded sharply as she turned on her heel and stormed off.

In her wake, Hermione attempted to control her breathing. The final comment struck a nerve. Intense guilt lapped at her barely healed emotional state. She wasn’t over losing the Granger’s and at times forgot about having a new family that cared for her so fiercely.

The dark witch finally broke the uncomfortable silence, tugging the girl closer to her. “Don’t be overly concerned with her right now. She hasn’t gotten her original apology and will likely be nitpicky until she does.”

Defeatedly Hermione pushed her face into the crook of the pale neck. “Can we please go back to our room? I’m tired.”

Protectively Bellatrix moved her arm around the girl, guiding her through familiar rooms to their private space. They entered and found it blissfully empty of the numerous guests who’d frequented over the last few days. Bella moved automatically to start undressing her fiance, but paused as the girl drew her wand. She watched as an exhausted but competent hand flicked two simple spells removing the day clothes and replacing them with night clothes. The dark witch smiled to herself at the sight of her lover looking so recovered. It was clear the girl was very tired, but pleased to have been out of the room.

The girl looked down at her wand after completing her task before handing it obediently over. Bellatrix smirked at how well trained the girl was. She took the wand and placed it on the night table with her own. It was clear that Hermione was sorry for disappearing all afternoon. In truth, the Black sisters were more annoyed at her absence than worried. Draco obediently waited for their return to inform his mother and aunt of her whereabouts. It was clear Hermione was healed enough to use her wand again. Bella chose not to lock it away again, it was obvious the girl would get what she wanted one way or another. She decided it was a better route to trust the girl and try to keep her from rebelling.

Bella watched the lithe girl climb between the covers before she was offered a small smile. Affectionately, she dropped on the bed beside her.

“Love, would you like to have dinner in bed, just the two of us?”

The girl nodded in response and settled down into the pillows to watch as her lover called and dispatched the elves to bring them suitable fingerfoods. Within a few minutes they returned with two heaping trays of a variety of foods and fruits. The two playfully fed each other, reveling in a simple and normal private moment. After they had their fill, the dark headed witch snuggled into her younger lover’s shoulder.

“What did you discuss with our Lord over tea?”

“He spent time further explaining how I put myself in danger and how the two of you pulled me back.”

“Of course you would want to know the details of the spell,” Bellatrix chuckled darkly and kissed the skin beneath her cheek.

“He thanked me, which was unexpected but touching.”

“You certainly know how to make your mark, little witch. Storming into a battle unannounced and without permission or even letting your lover know, with a new plan. And on top of it you pulled it off. You delivered to him what his Death Eaters could not.”

“When you put it like that, it is suddenly far more exciting that what I remember happening.”

“That couldn’t have taken all afternoon.”

“It didn’t. He also wanted to talk about my future.”

“Without me?”

“Oh no, Bella. Not like that. I think he wanted to express his support of your marriage to me. And he had a few suggestions.”

“Did he now? I thought even the most powerful men knew to stay out of the way of the Black women when it comes to marriage.”

“His biggest suggestion was that we do it before July.”

“That means we will need to start planning immediately. There is more to a Black Wedding than a normal magical wedding. And we will need to take into account your family traditions as well,” Bellatrix rattled off, barely pausing. “And you will need to apologize to Cissa, because I cannot stand to plan with her when she is behaving this way.”

“And how would you suggest I go about providing that apology? In the world I grew up in, a handwritten note was about as far as I would have to go. But somehow I sense that wouldn’t be enough for a Black.”

Bellatrix responded at first by lightly laughing, but quickly realized the girl was serious. “No, that would probably only exacerbate the issue. It must be given in person, and I would suggest in private. It's also customary that you offer something you know the other truly desires.”

“Ok. I will give it some thought. But may I ask you something?”

“Of course, my dear. You shouldn’t even need to ask.”

“I know that there are a lot of changes going on this summer with us. But there is one more change I want and I think I will need your support.”

“There isn’t much I can imagine denying you.”

“When Draco and I go back to school, I don’t want to return to Ravenclaw. I will miss the beautiful tower and the common room, but constantly warding and looking over my shoulder is exhausting. I would rather be re-sorted into Slytherin.”

“That is quite the request, little witch.” Hermione started to open her mouth to take it back when a single digit rested on her lips. “Don’t. It’s a large request, but not beyond my capabilities. I will address the topic with Lucius and Severus. Between the three of us, we should be able to make it possible.”

“Then you don’t mind me being in your house?”

“If the Order hadn’t altered your course of life, I have no doubt that is where you would have been placed. They used an extreme amount of magic to place you anywhere but with your fellow snakes. They weren’t quite good enough at it to force you to be a lion. I very much enjoy the idea of seeing you in green and silver. And I will worry significantly less. Your house will stand with you.”

“Thank you, my love. It means a great deal to me.”

“Good. And you will apologize to Cissy?”

“I suppose I can.”

Bellatrix contemplated what she knew the next few days would be like for the young witch. She would be inundated with a dramatic volume of information about the Black family wedding traditions, of which there were many.

“I know you grew up in a very different culture. Is there anything in particular you want in the wedding? That we need to include?”

“I’d never given marriage much thought until the past few days. I’m not entirely sure how to even ask this, but I don’t just want to share your house colors. I’d hoped to return to Hogwarts as a Black.”

Bellatrix abruptly cut off the stumbling speech with a probing kiss. Hermione threaded her fingers through the curls, tugging her lover more securely to her. When breathing became a critical need, the older witch broke away and whispered in a low sensual voice,

“And there I was thinking you were exhausted from the day’s activities.”

“Oh I am, but I was under the impression that our magic interacting was partially responsible for my speedy recovery. And I know for a fact that I am quite magical,” she teased, holding up her hand suggestively.

“That you are my dear. However I am certain that is not the type of magic you discussed with the Dark Lord. And I think you’ve had quite enough excitement for one day. After all, you will need your strength for wedding planning with the Black sisters. I’ve been told we can be rather overwhelming.”

Grumbling under her breath, Hermione settled in comfortably beside Bella, sliding a bare hand just under the hem of her shirt. It rested on the skin of her smooth stomach as it rhythmically rose and fell with each breath, lulling her into a peaceful sleep.

Chapter Text

Hermione could imagine no better way to wake up than snuggled tightly against her witch, head buried in raven curls, breathing in the soothing scent of pine and cinnamon. She was, however, unceremoniously drug out of her comfortable rest by ridiculously loud knocking. She whimpered disapprovingly against the beautiful neck. Bella’s rougher than normal morning voice broke the hanging silence in the air,

“Perhaps if we are very quiet whomever it is will go away.”

The tremendous wooden door swung open, dispelling any of the lingering hopes that they would be left in peace.

“Are you two intent on sleeping the day away?”

“Good Morning, Cissa-mine. Is there something I can help you with this fine morning?”

“There is Bella. I heard from the Dark Lord that I ought to start planning a wedding this very day. And to my not so great surprise, neither bride bothered to come down to breakfast this morning. You know the stringency of our traditions. I will not tolerate failure.”

Hermione giggled at the severity of the blonde’s words. Unexpectedly she felt her lover flinch beneath her. She turned her head slowly to look at the youngest Black sister. The anger on the tightly drawn features took her breath away.

“Miss MacCarthy,” Narcissa hissed, “you do not want to get in the middle of discussion.” The blonde sauntered to the side of the young witch’s side of the bed. As she trailed a hand down Hermione’s face, the witch gasped. Draco and Bella had warned her, but until this moment she could not imagine the coldness emanating from a woman she had felt such warmth from and safety with. “You’ve helped quite enough lately.” Narcissa turned to her sister. “Get up and get dressed Bella. I expect you both in the garden in 30 minutes. In spite of my better judgement there will be breakfast waiting for you. Do not be late.”

The blonde left the room as quickly as she entered, slamming the door behind her.

“Oh Hermione, you’ve woken a sleeping dragon. Until you apologize this is how she will treat you. And believe me she can keep this up for weeks. I tested it frequently during our childhood.”

Hermione drug herself out of bed without a word. She wasn’t emotionally prepared to apologize to Narcissa. The wounds simply hadn’t healed enough. Not that she had any idea how to appropriately approach the blonde. So for now it would have to wait. She would allow her natural defences to raise again around her lover’s sister. She slipped into a quick shower before getting dressed and returning to Bella. The dark witch automatically handed her wand over, watching as her lover dried her hair enough to pull it up and out of her way.

“You don’t plan on apologizing to my sister any time soon do you?”

Beautiful brown eyes stared back at her offering no explanation. The dark witch pressed a kiss to her temple accepting the answer. She hadn’t seen the girl’s defences in months, and decided to leave them in place for the time being.


 

Hermione ate quietly, watching the sisters interact. She hadn’t been a silent observer in their presence for some time. She found their banter endearing and amusing, even the bickering over her wedding. She controlled her facial expressions keeping them neutral. She watched as Narcissa seemingly switched gears from playful banter to seriousness.

“Bellatrix Black,” she began in a cutting tone. “You do realize that your impulsiveness caused me to have to plan a full magical wedding in less than 4 weeks.”

“Oh really Cissy, stop complaining. It is hardly as though you haven’t been researching since the moment you met Hermione.”

“I know of our traditions, but I will need to go to Timoleague to ensure I have the MacCarthy ones correct. I’ve only had access to secondary sources and as you know this is delicate. Even a small mistake could be disastrous. Miss MacCarthy, I trust I still have open floo access?”

Hermione nodded in response.

“Good. Then you and I will go at once. Bella, I will plan the magical part of the ceremony. There are few who are capable of performing the spell. Aside from the two of you, who won’t be able to do so on yourselves, I believe you must ask the Dark Lord.”

“I will do so, sister.”

“Good. Come Miss MacCarthy. You will not be flooing unaccompanied.”

“As you say, Madame Malfoy.”


 

Stepping out of the fireplace into her castle, Hermione felt a physical sense of home. The smell of the castle, the stone, the moss, the fireplaces. It smelled like magic and possibilities. She allowed herself to drift towards the stained glass windows reverently touching the lead bindings. She wondered if her deepening connection to Bella drove her connection to her biological family as well. She was familiar with the ancient magics that bound themselves to physical locations. Today more than ever she could feel the walls buzzing with it, causing a shiver to shoot down her spine. Narcissa cleared her throat to draw her attention. The younger witch turned to find an annoyed look on her somewhat willing companion’s face. She raised her eyebrow in response and quickly crossed the room, head held high. She swept past the blonde towards the library. It was odd that the blonde was acting as though she was an unfamiliar guest.

Once safely nestled in the large library, Hermione called an elf to attend to Narcissa’s every need after the blonde made it clear that she didn’t desire the young woman’s assistance. The young witch couldn’t help but feel somewhat rejected as she left for her private rooms. She hadn’t been home since the winter break. She was pleased to see that her room had been kept impeccably clean. Unexpectedly she found her school trunk and things stowed in her closet. With the excitement of the last few weeks, she’d given no thought to the fact that she’d left so many things at Hogwarts. Her uniforms were clean and hung neatly in the closet.

She touched the fabric of the blue and bronze tie wondering if she would really miss it. Bringing her hand up to the Black family crest hanging around her neck, she was assured that her priorities were set correctly. She loved learning and knowledge, but Ravenclaw wouldn’t be safe for her as a Black. Especially not if her actions at the Battle of the Mysteries were to be widespread. She would be a target, and though more powerful than almost all of them, constantly warding herself would be tedious. After everything she’d learned, Hermione wanted to separate herself in as many ways as possible from the lies constructed by the Order. She was cutting emotional ties and moving on.

Across the room on the large table by the window she found a stack of her school books with a parchment note on top of it She opened it slowly, wondering if she ought to draw her wand. But it made it through the complex wards of her home and the scrutiny of her elves. It was unlikely to have fooled them all.

Miss MacCarthy,

After your unexpected departure from school early, I took the liberty of having your things returned to your home.

You, however, must still make up the work you missed. Fortunately you received Outstandings on all of the tests you took. I will need to administer the last of your class work and any remaining end of course exams.

I recommend we meet daily at your castle at 10 am until your wedding.

Sincerely,

S. Snape

PS. Bring your soon to be nephew. He has more to catch up on than you do.

Hermione was relieved to find that of all of the professors to have interceded on her behalf it was the potion’s master. It would have been a blow to her emotional security to have had McGonagal or Dumbledore sending anything through her wards. She was impressed at how connected the man was. It was clear that the Dark Lord and perhaps her lover were in on this little plot. Not that she minded. She was thrilled to have time in an intimate setting with one of the most brilliant wizards of her time. And she had a deep appreciation for his sarcasm and dark humor.

Finding a blank piece of parchment she wrote her quick reply and went off in search of the owlery.


 

After dispatching her letter to the dark professor, Hermione returned to the library hoping in vain to find the blonde witch in a better mood.

“Have you had fun playing in the castle while I worked?”

“Yes, I did.You sent me out. What did you expect me to do?”

A stifled snort was the only response. Hermione wanted to burst out laughing at the undignified sound coming from the uppity witch. It reminded her far more of the eldest Black. The Narcissa she’d come to care deeply for was clearly still in there. Even after a day spent in the same vicinity, Hermione found herself no closer to finding the appropriate way to apologize. She wandered the room, willing a book with the answer to appear. Naturally she knew that it wouldn’t. She doubted that the MacCarthy library held the secrets of how to get oneself back into the heart of a Black sister. Reluctantly she dropped into an armchair to watch the older witch work, since it was clear she wasn’t allowed to help. She took the time to study the strong features, a family trait. It seemed unfair to the rest of the world for one family to be so bloody attractive. She admired the bright blue eyes scanning quickly across the page, absorbing information as slender hands deftly took notes and turned pages. The rhythmic sounds soothed her into a light sleep.

Narcissa had been doing her best to ignore the girl. It was no secret she was extremely fond of her, but it was clear that she needed an education on boundaries. Hermione put her family in danger without so much as communicating with those closest to her. And much to the blonde’s surprise everyone else was content to immediately forgive her in part because of the success of her wild plan and for having been so gravely injured. And if no one else was willing to communicate the severity of the situation to the girl, Narcissa would do so. She was finding it surprisingly difficult to keep up her chilly mask around the girl. The witch put off such a warmth that it was nearly impossible not to give in, but the memories of finding her son bleeding out on the floor and the girl nearly lifeless less than an hour apart was more than enough to fortify her resolve.

She felt the girl’s eyes on her as she worked and resolutely kept her eyes on the book in front of her until she heard the nearby breathing deepen. When the light snoring began, she turned her head to take in the form of the girl curled up peacefully in the chair. It was clear her body wasn’t done healing if she was still falling asleep so frequently. As Narcissa suspected, the girl was still hiding the extent of her injury from those around her. Moving stealthily, she rose from her place at the table and crouched in front of the sleeping witch. She waved her wand slowly over the body, casting a spell to show her the injuries. As to be expected, the internal organs were still in the process of healing. Gently she placed a cool hand to the warm forehead, drawing the girl out of sleep.

“Come, Miss MacCarthy. It’s time for us to return.”

She watched the girl try to clear sleep from her mind and right herself in the chair. Hermione rose and obediently followed the older witch to the floo. She paused, waiting to be given further instruction as it was clear that the Malfoy matriarch would be firmly in control for the foreseeable future. When a hand was outstretched, she allowed herself to be pulled into a secure hold as Narcissa navigated them back.

Chapter Text

Narcissa quickly ushered the girl through Malfoy manor, steering her towards the rooms shared with her sister. The girl was so exhausted she was little more than a ragdoll. The blonde witch carefully helped the girl remove her outer robes and shoes before tucking her into bed. She set a ward to alert her if the girl awoke or if she were to be in distress before leaving the room.

She went in search of the ingredients she needed for a healing draught. It was an uncommon potion, one she found in the Christmas gift the girl gave her from the Timoleague library. She hoped not to need to use additional potions in light of the Dark Lord's intervention. But the internal damage was more than they'd originally realized.

She made quick work of the formation of the brew. She checked her watch before leaving it over heat for an hour. She had far too much to do. She could not afford an hour of laziness. Just as she prepared to seek out her sister, Bellatrix burst through the French doors.

"Cissy, where is Hermione?"

"She is resting sister. I think she has been hiding from all of us the true condition of her body."

The dark witch sighed in response. "How bad is it?"

"Oh don't look so worried Bella. I would have called you immediately if something were gravely wrong. She fell asleep while I was still working, so I took the opportunity to do a quick wellness scan. Her internal organs are still healing slowly."

"Then what I am smelling must be a remedy."

"It is. It’s a potion from the MacCarthy family library. It’s a solid healing draught, but with a few extra ingredients. According to the book, if the potion is administered by you and the two of you remain close, it will amplify and accelerate the effects."

"Thank you, Cissa," she whispered, pressing a warm kiss on her cheek. She knew the blonde was still very upset with the young witch. Her actions spoke volumes about how she'd come to think of the girl. Bella found great comfort in the idea that her sister already considered the woman she loved to be new family. Even with the strength of her bond with the girl, it would have been monumentally challenging to bond with her had the blonde stood in opposition.

"She is going to be fine, Bella."

"Because of you. Actually, both she and I will end up owing our lives to your skill. I don't know how we will ever thank you."

“Your happiness is all I have ever wanted. Now, take this,” she said, pressing a small vial of the brew into her hand. “Wake her enough to have her take it and don’t leave her side for as long as you can.”

“So I just need to sit close,” Bella questioned mockingly.

“Bellatrix Black. You are pushing your luck. Now go,” Narcissa said, firmly moving the witch away from her.


 

Bella crept quietly into the room. Over the last few months she’d become fond of watching the girl sleep. She chuckled quietly to herself. What would the wizarding world think if they knew Bellatrix Black’s heart melted at the sight of a sleeping teenager. It would do some serious damage to her carefully cultivated fierce image. She allowed her mind to wander to the fantasy of fighting along side her lover. The young witch was fierce herself in battle, but their combined magic in a fight would be delicious.

Sitting on the bed, she wove her fingers gently through the messy waves. The resting body stirred slowly at the movement before sleepy eyes opened. Hermione’s face broke into a warm smile as her eyes focused on the beautiful face of her fiance.

“Hi, you,” she said sleepily.

“Hello, yourself.”

“How was your day?”

“It was delightful enough. We went on a few raids. Terrified muggles, caused confusion and the like.” Bella paused to gauge the girl’s reaction. They’d never discussed her profession in depth, but she presumed the girl knew her by reputation.

“Causing mayhem makes you glow,” she commented quietly with affection.

“Oh you have no idea. But more importantly, the Dark Lord has agreed to do the magic in our bonding.”

“Has he?”

“Yes, it’s a complex spell. It will literally bind our souls and magic together. My sister insisted that no one else could perform it.”

“It’s not a normal bonding?”

“Is anything about us normal, darling,” the dark witch inquired wryly.

Hermione giggled in response.

“It won’t be a normal bonding as you put it. But hasn’t Narcissa explained any of this to you?”

“She and I aren’t really speaking still.”

“Then I take it you haven’t apologized.”

The young witch looked at her lover pleadingly. Bella felt the pull at her heart that she could only identify as Hermione’s fear and sadness at the situation. Reassuringly, she pulled her into an embrace.

“First drink this potion and I will tell you everything I know.”

“What is this?” The young witch took the bottle, holding it up to the light examining it.

“It’s a healing potion from the book you gave Cissy. It should work faster than any other, especially with my involvement,” she replied.

“Your involvement?” Hermione giggled and pressed her lips lightly against the slender neck. “I am rather fond of your involvement.”

Bellatrix took the vial back, pulling out the stopper and motioning for Hermione to open her mouth. She gently cupped her face while slowly pouring the liquid on the waiting tongue. She ran her nails down the throat following the path of the liquid, causing the witch to shiver in response. After the girl finished swallowing, the dark witch pressed a sensual loving kiss firmly into her lips, savoring the moment. Temporarily resisting the temptation to escalate the situation, she gently tapped the witch’s leg to indicate for her to scoot over. She slipped in and pulled the girl firmly to her. She sighed at the feeling of the girl snuggling against her chest. Slender arms snuck behind her back and the girl held on tightly.

“Bella, tell me about our wedding.”

“It will be traditional out of necessity. We have the opportunity to increase our magical power through our bonding, which is very uncommon. Narcissa believes that we must abide by as many of the traditions as possible. So it will be held at your castle.” She felt the girl smile and attempt to burrow deeper into her embrace.

“I’d been hoping we might be able to spend part of the summer there. Not that I don’t appreciate the attentions of your family. They have been extremely generous. But I love it there. I can feel the magic crackling around me.”

“You only need to say the word, Hermione.”

“I also have daily lessons with Professor Snape. I believe it was intended as punishment for skipping the last few weeks of classes.”

“Then naturally you are thrilled.”

Hermione slapped her stomach lightly. “Maybe.”

“We will need to come up with the terms of our marital contract. The basic function of the magic is similar to that of the Unbreakable vow. We will lay out conditions and we will both agree before the bond is forged. Traditionally our families should give us to one another. Narcissa is still working on the genealogical history of your family. She will find someone to present you.”

“What if don’t know them?” The girl asked in a fearful voice.

“Let’s not worry about that until we get there. There are much more important things to concern yourself with. Tradition dictates the colors of our dress but not the style, so you will need to choose a dress. We must choose a menu and music.”

“That may be fun.”

“You know you can have anything you want.”

“I am starting to get used to that. Yes.”


 

The witches spent their night intertwined and discussing their dream weddings. As Narcissa told her sister, the closeness of the two strengthened the potion Hermione took. By the time they were going to sleep, color returned to the girl’s cheeks and her eyes were sparkling as they hadn’t since before the skirmish at the Ministry.

The next morning the two rose and got ready together. Bella sent her love off to the castle she strongly suspected would become their home, while she called the house elves to pack their things. She knew that Narcissa would be somewhat put off that they would be leaving the manor, but it was necessary. There was a chance that their presence in the physical location would strengthen the magic when it came time for the bonding. And the girl positively lit up at the idea of spending time there. The dark witch realized that she’d been so intent on wooing the witch that she’d isolated them in the world of the Blacks and Malfoys. Not that she minded the idea of getting to know the girl’s biological history.

The warm days of June passed quickly between the daily school lessons and the wedding planning. As the professor had suggested, Draco did in fact need a good deal more help than the girl. The warmth did nothing to defrost the situation between Hermione and Narcissa, but the two found a civil rhythm to planning the wedding. But it was more than convenient that at the end of every day the blonde witch departed. In the evenings the happy couple spent time walking around the grounds, talking and exercising their powers together. Within those few weeks, Hermione healed beyond any trace of injury just in time for the wedding.

Chapter Text

Bellatrix hadn’t expected to be so nervous on the morning of her wedding. Really everything had gone well in the planning. Though Narcissa and Hermione only brokered a temporary peace, the dark witch had no doubt that the day would go to plan. She couldn’t have fathomed that she would have become even more enamoured with the witch slumbering soundly in her arms. The few weeks spent in the Irish castle together allowed the two more privacy than they’d previously experienced. The warm evenings afforded them the opportunity to revel in their growing bond. Only a short year earlier, she couldn’t have imagined the warmth that spread through her chest, leaking out through her limbs. In the light of the sweet creature in her bed, she’d nearly forgotten the cold depths of hell that had been Azkaban. In the last of those 15 long years, Bella gave up hope. While she understood prophecies, night after night of visits by the dementors led her to wonder if she hadn’t gone off track somewhere and done something to prevent it from coming true.

Even when the Dark Lord arranged for her escape, she dared not hope that she might be given the things she always wanted. Her body had been so frail then. But her sister in all of her brilliance put her back together nearly as she had been. How ironic it was that Bellatrix was viewed as the most powerful of the Black sisters, when in truth it was likely the blonde alone garnered the most. Until today. Today Bellatrix and Hermione would fulfill the most important part of the prophecy, they would be bonded. Their joint powers would be magnified. They would be the most powerful magical beings save her Lord, and even that she vaguely questioned. Surprisingly she found the power not to be most appealing part of their relationship, but the unconditional affection of the young woman. She never believed she could be so loved.

With the rising of the morning sun, the Hermione began to stir in her arms. The dark witch pressed her face into the sweet smelling hair inhaling everything that was her lover.

“Morning, Bella.”

“Good Morning, love. Are you ready for today?”

“Hmm I don’t know. I’ve heard a rumor that one of the brides is a Death Eater. Can you imagine the scandal?”

“That isn’t half as good as what I heard. I heard the other is but a schoolgirl, little more than a babe in arms.”

“Bellatrix Black,” Hermione said with false irritation in her voice. “You know I am very well of age.”

“Oh yes, little witch. I’ve thoroughly explored how of age you are.”

The teenager playfully smacked the arm around her while simultaneously attempting to move deeper into the embrace. “Are you entirely certain we have to get up?”

“More than entirely, unless you want to be drug from the bed by my sister. On second thought, that sounds delicious and positively hilarious. We should stay right here.”

“Oh no no no. I don’t need your help when it comes to Narcissa,” the girl said, climbing out of the bed and padding to the bathroom.


 

By the time the Malfoy family and Professor Snape arrived, the two soon to be bonded witches were sitting in their garden having breakfast. When Narcissa had initially shared with the happy couple that Severus was a very distant cousin of Hermione's, Bellatrix thought it too simple of a solution. At her first opportunity, she confronted the blonde, practically cornering her. Her younger sister succinctly explained that most magical blood could be traced back to the ancient Irish families if one was diligent enough. Though she didn’t directly speak the words, it was apparent to the dark witch that there had been others that could have been chosen.

In retrospect she suspected her sister was demonstrating the kind of cunning for which the Black line was famous. Snape would be important to the family in the coming years. He would be the only Death Eater with unfettered access to the Hogwarts Castle, and thus could act fully as protector over the two teens residing in the Slytherin Dungeons. He was one of the few of the wizarding world who held any respect from Hermione. Based on her enthusiastic attendance of the daily lessons, long after she completed her coursework, spoke volumes of her affection for the man. Narcissa was of course right, Snape was the right sort of affiliation for the young girl. And his association with her would further improve his standings in the Dark Lord’s ranks.

The four guests joined the nervous witches around the garden table. Where Malfoy Manor’s grounds were beautiful and immaculately groomed, the gardens of Timoleague Castle were wild with mystical beauty of southern Ireland. Lush green grass stretched out the length of the property, flanked on all sides by tall old trees half covered with moss. Flowers in MacCarthy red and gold scattered the lawn, reminding the casual view to whom the castle belonged. Outside the rough cut stone walls that guarded the edifice like a citadel, the cold waves of the Celtic sea crashed against the high stone cliffs.

In preparation for the evening's festivities, a dance floor was magically constructed, black marble glistening in the morning sun. Later in the day tables would be added for the guests. The weather was fair and beautiful, so there was no need for a tent. The evening would be spent in candlelight and dancing beneath the Irish summer stars. The ball would be accompanied by a small fleet of live musicians who would play into the wee hours of the morning, until none of the guests could stay on their feet any longer.

Proper greetings aside, Draco nudged Hermione’s elbow before grinning widely and asking,

“Are you ready to officially be my aunt?”

Hermione had her wand half drawn before she caught the look in the blonde witch’s eye and safely tucked it back inside her sleeve.

“I am, in fact. I’ve always wanted a rather annoying nephew. I am only all too grateful that Bella is willing to share.”

“I am glad to be a topic on which the two of you have found common ground,” he said teasingly.

“It is time for us to begin getting ready for this evening,” Narcissa interjected cooly. “Bella, you will come with me. Gentlemen if you will stay here with Hermione. Severus, please go over the commitments in the spell with her one more time. Oh, and Lucius,”she continued thoughtfully. “If there is so much a scratch on the younger bride when I get back, I will personally hold you accountable for not being able to control the situation.”

The blonde aristocratic male nodded affirmatively, secretly disappointed that even in her absence his wife would keep them from their fun.

“And Miss MacCarthy, I will be back after lunch to help you fix your hair. Do attempt to be clean by then.”

With that the blonde looked pointedly at her older sister. Bellatrix rolled her eyes in response before muttering under her breath and getting to her feet. She placed a gentle momentarily lingering kiss on Hermione’s lips before taking her sister’s arm and apparating away.


 

After delaying much of the morning, Severus and Hermione were finally fulfilling Narcissa's request. The commitments of the vow were straightforward enough that the young witch was confident in her ability to remember the words.

Lucius tapped his wand playfully on the table. He enjoyed watching the two interact. The sarcastic pull and push between the pair, as tenuous as their blood relationship might be. With a mischievous glint in his eye, he interjected,

"Severus, if I may. Perhaps we might be able to make this a little more interesting."

"I'm listening," the dark haired wizard responded slowly.

"If Miss MacCarthy believes she has mastered the rote memorization, perhaps we should make it more challenging."

"Are you suggesting a duel?"

"I am. And Miss MacCarthy, I hope that you are well prepared, because there are 3 of us and only 1 of you."

“I will do my best not to disappoint you, Lucius.”

“Good, my dear.”

Hermione stood, stepping back from the table. She took a deep soothing breath, centering herself and pulling her considerable magic to the surface. Drawing her wand, she awaited her dueling partners. She watched the three men stand and draw their wands before bowing. She returned the formality never taking her eyes off the three. As predicted Lucius fired off a spell earlier than entirely polite. She blocked it easily, but paused to raise an eyebrow at him. He smirked in response. He was fun loving, but in no way opposed to bending the rules or playing a bit dirty. It was frankly one of the things she found she liked about him. It made him unpredictable and fun.

She rolled right, preparing for a fight. She held her strength at only 50%. She had to play the long game or they would quickly tire her, not to mention she enjoyed keeping her growing power below the radar. She watched as her male friend formed a 3 person strategy. The back gardens provided her little cover and she didn’t really want to make a huge mess. So she retreated to the far side of the castle, firing the occasional offensive spell over her shoulder. As the men caught up to her, she formed her strategy in earnest, alternating her firing and shielding.

Within half an hour she’d backed the men into a corner, and was on the verge of them conceding. The four of them were dirty and breathing heavily when they heard the distinct crack of apparition. Hermione immediately recognized the sweet female voice calling out her husband’s name. Without so much as a look towards her friends, Hermione turned on the spot and apparated. It wasn’t as though Narcissa wouldn’t know she was involved. Her nearly-wife’s sister would be able to smell her magic in the air, but not getting caught red handed was worth something. Arriving in her room, Hermione quickly shed her clothes while looking out the window at the scene below her. Just as she was about to retreat into the bath to get clean, she saw the blonde on the ground look up to where she stood. Knowing she’d been caught, she stepped quickly into the water in an effort to placate what she knew would be the significant ire of the blonde.

Chapter Text

Hermione moved as quickly as she could in the hot water of the shower. Getting carried away and caught by Cissy was not a part of her plan for the day. As she scrubbed the dirt from her skin, she muttered wandless healing spells. As she rinsed the final bit of soap out of her hair, she heard the bathroom door open and then close. It could be no one but the blonde witch. She stepped out of the shower, exuding what she hoped to be confidence.

Over the last month, her relationship had been so changed that she found herself perplexed at how to act in front of the pureblood at times. She knew that if she were to be with Bella long term, the disagreement between Narcissa and herself would have to come to an end. And while she had almost formulated how she needed to apologize, so close to her wedding was simply neither the time or the place.

Out of the shower and wrapped tightly in a towel, she felt the critical appraisal of the other witch.

"Impressive that you were able to get cleaned so quickly."

"I didn’t want to keep you waiting,” Hermione replied simply and without emotion. She watched with a little apprehension as the blonde stalked towards her wand raised. Her brain whispered that the woman wouldn’t harm her, but her instincts screamed for her to defend herself. She breathed deeply, trying to keep her body as relaxed as possible as the woman approached. With a steady hand the wand traced her cheek gently. A warm tingle spread across the young witch’s face as she felt Narcissa’s magic knit a small cut back together.

“There. Now no one else will know the mischief you managed to find this morning.”

Overcome by the thoughtfulness and gentle touch, Hermione enveloped the witch in a tight hug and momentarily snuggled into her neck. She whispered a quiet but heartfelt thank you against the pale neck without thought. After breathing in the soft vanilla scent she’d missed over the past few weeks, she tensed after realizing why she hadn’t been near the witch recently. Soothingly the arms around her tightened slightly, not releasing her.

“Be happy today. My sister deserves the happiness only you can supply. Think nothing of the situation between us. There will be time for a proper apology when you return from your honeymoon.” The blonde nuzzled the girl in return, allowing herself a comfortable moment of familiarity. She was so very fond of the witch, in spite of her recent behavior.

In response to the kindness, Hermione was practically buzzing with excitement. As she ended the embrace, she allowed the blonde to pull her into the dressing room.

“We are, however, going to have to be swift. You did manage to dawdle quite a lot.”

“It wasn’t entirely my fault. Lucius did openly challenge me. I couldn’t very well walk away from that.”

“No, I suppose you couldn’t,” she chuckled in response. His playful spirit was one of the things that kept them so happily together.


 

After an hour of diligent work, Hermione was dried and dressed. The dress fit her perfectly. The only guidelines the blonde witch had given was that the gown had to be in her family’s tartan. Within the MacCarthy plaid were red, dark green, gold and white. After careful consideration, Hermione chose a shimmering gold fabric that would compliment any color in the Black family crest. The bodice of the strapless dress hugged tightly to her curves and flowed out at the hip before terminating in a train. The dress’ simplicity was accented by an asymmetrical twist across her hips and down the skirt.

Looking in the mirror, Hermione was shocked at how adult she looked. The last year had changed her so much for the better. She was so pleased with how she looked. Absentmindedly, she touched the Black family crest hanging around her neck. She watched as Narcissa walked behind her. The blue eyes scanned her reflection with considerable scrutiny. Apparently pleased with what she saw, a small smile graced her beautiful face. The steady slender hands, with the assistance of a wand, magically gathered the girl’s curls up to the crown of her head, allowing for only a few curls to escape to frame her face.

Hermione turned when the hands grasped her shoulders, placing a small amount of pressure. Facing her soon to be sister-in-law, she watched with awe at the beautiful piece of jewelry in her hands. “Is that the object you needed my signature for to remove from my vaults last week?’

“It is. This is an old heirloom from your family. According to my research, every pair of fated soulmates from your line has had this as a part of the ceremony.” Narcissa placed it into her hands gently. The older witch guided young hands over the golden diadem. “These knots have no end just as your bond to my sister and our family will have no end. Notice that half the jewels in the piece are your families and the other are simply diamonds. According to your familial lore, after the magic has been done the Black family colors will be added.”

“This is beautiful, Narcissa. Thank you.”

“Let me put it on. Turn around.” Narcissa slid the jewelry into place, securing it with a silent spell. “Your necklace does not match your dress. No, don’t worry little witch. I am not offering to remove it. I am not sure you understand the kind of rage that could send my sister into. I am suggesting you trust me with a spell to change its appearance.”

A visibly relieved Hermione responded, “For that Cissa, you needn’t ask permission.”

With little more fanfare, the older witch declared the preparations complete and led her charge downstairs to her distant relative to begin the ceremony.


 

The ceremony began as the sun began to fall from the sky. It bathed the horizon in brilliant pinks, purples and oranges. It provided an ethereal glow over the large crowd gathered to witness the event. All of the most important pureblooded families in England and Ireland were in attendance, each clothed in the colors of their ancestors. They spoke among themselves with rising excitement, such bonding had not been performed in several magical generations. It would be the event of the year. Such large celebrations were rare in years of the Dark Lord’s absence and it was far more than just a simple wedding. It was a declaration on the back of the victory at the Department of Mysteries that the Death Eaters and all they stood for were back.

Bellatrix stood near her Lord at the end of the aisle with Narcissa at her side, representing the Black Family. Sheathed in a glimmering silver dress, she stood haughtily to hide her nerves. She’d never wanted anything as much as she wished to be bonded to Hermione. She had no fear that the lovely brunette would not appear. All afternoon her beloved had whispered sweet declarations of her intent through their silent mode of communication.

As the orchestra began playing music, Bella felt her heart rate pick up. With wide eyes she gazed at the form of her soon to be wife emerging from the castle. On the arm of the half-blood Death Eater and professor, the girl seemed to walk on air. The dark witch had never seen a woman so beautiful as her sonuacher at that moment. The gold dress reflected the setting sun, causing her to glow. But it was the shining hazel eyes and smile formed only for the older witch that captured her attention. While Bella found herself under the spell of the young witch, the pair approached those waiting under the archway. With a small amount of ceremony, Narcissa and Snape placed the hands of the women together before kissing each on the cheek and taking their seats.

The Dark Lord stepped up to the pair, welcoming the crowd.

“My friends and dear family, I am so pleased to welcome you all this evening. It is my great pleasure to bond these two witches in your presence. As they are to you, they are most dear to my heart. And what is more, they share a rare and beautiful magical bond. We will bear witness to the permanent joining of their souls.”

Turning, he began the instructions of the spell, “Bellatrix, grasp her left wrist with your left hand.”

The dark witch softly took the bare skin of the offered wrist in a caress that stole the young witch’s breath. Once the girl took her arm in return, Voldemort drew his wand, touching the tip to the joined hands.

“Bella, will you protect Hermione regardless of who opposes her?”

“I will.”

“And will you take her family as your own with all of the love and regard with which you hold your own?”

“I will.”

“And will you love her above all others without end?”

“I will.”

Turning to the younger witch he said,

“Hermione, will you protect Bellatrix regardless of who opposes her?”

“I will.”

“And will you take her family as your own with all of the love and regard with which you hold your own?”

“I will.”

“And will you love her above all others without end?”

“I will.”

With each question and affirmative declaration, a rope of fire appeared around their wrists. At the completion of the last promise, the three strands associated with the vow of the opposite woman traveled down her hand, circling the ring finger and forming an intricate series of Celtic knots. The remainder of the spell were delicate magical golden bands unique to the magic of the women between whom they were formed. As the rings completed forming, Hermione felt all of the magic in her body jump, and she just barely managed to contain it. The raised eyebrow of her wife confirmed the dark witch experienced the same jolt. The magic coursing through her system caused every nerve to stand on end. Bella drew her into a sensual kiss, publicly claiming her. When the two separated again, the Dark Lord announced,

“Allow me to present to you, Mrs. Bellatrix and Hermione Black.”

The crowd, still in awe of the magic they had just seen performed, jumped to their feet, applauding the couple and drowning out the music. With a mischievous glint in her eye and a trademark smirk, Bella offered her arm to her young bride a moment before the two were consumed by black smoke and disappeared from sight.

Chapter Text

Bellatrix landed her new wife in the center of the dance floor, giggling. "Please tell me you saw the look on Cissy's face," she said between gulping breaths.

Hermione considered responding, but Narcissa wasn't at the forefront of her mind at the moment. Instead she captured the full red lips with her own. She celebrated internally as she felt the older witch melt into her. "What is it you were saying wife?" she asked in a decidedly cheeky voice.

"I think I was suggesting that we skip this party. I have other things I would rather attend to."

“As much as I would thoroughly enjoy that, I’ve done my fair share to upset your darling sister as of late. I will have no part of it.”

“Very well. I suppose the garden does look rather nice. And all of these people are here. I suppose we can stay for a bit."

Hermione pulled her in for a final lingering kiss before the rest of the attendees found the two standing in the middle of the dance floor.

The Malfoys were the first to reach the happy pair of witches. Hermione found herself enveloped in familial love. She stiffened for a moment remembering the family that was not present. She hoped the Grangers were safe and happy. She forced herself to push away the pain of those thoughts to enjoy what was being offered. Throughout the exchange she felt a steady hand at the small of her back, offering reassurance. She realized that Bella either shared her unhappy thoughts or at least the edges of the emotions. The multiple blonde heads surrounding her parted suddenly. She watched with riveted awe as the Dark Lord strode towards her, robes billowing behind him.

“Madames Black, Congratulations.”

“Thank you, my Lord,” Bella replied, automatically casting her eyes down out of respect.

“Thank you for allowing me such a pivotal role in your union,” he said. Turning to Hermione he continued, “I am hoping that you understand how important you are to us now. You are a part of our family. Our loyalty lies with you and we expect it in return.”

“It could never reside anywhere Bella was not,” she replied dreamily, never taking her eyes off her new wife.

“Quite true,” he replied, chuckling. “I look forward to the next few weeks and watching you grow. You two have an important place in the cause.”

“And we are honored to take up our place, my Lord,” the dark witch replied.

With that the Dark Lord took his leave, allowing the numerous other pureblooded families to give their congratulations on the bonding. It took nearly two hours for them to greet all of their guests and exchange pleasantries. After the receiving line ended, the crowd partook in the feast planned by Narcissa. Every tiny detail was perfect. The Brides noticed little besides one another during the evening. Into the early hours of the morning they danced and celebrated the happy turn in their lives. The unlikely bonding of two broken souls, the girl who never fit in and the woman who was never given a chance at a happy life, would change the course of the wizarding world.


 

The soulmates slept for a few hours at the end of their party. Bellatrix had kept the details of their honeymoon a secret. Initially the older witch had planned on them leaving directly after the reception, but the sight of her exhausted wife caused a small change in plans. Instead she guided her into their bed and allowed them a little time to rest. The dark witch discovered she was unpredictably patient with the sleepy witch. As much as she desired to be physically close , in fact very very close to the beautiful brunette, she prefered the woman’s comfort. Bella knew that the week alone would provide more than enough opportunities to be intimate. And so she watched the girl drift off into a peaceful sleep in her arms before succumbing herself.

As planned, at the first light of dawn the house elves came to wake the pair. The dark witch didn’t particularly want to see her family before they left for their honeymoon. Bellatrix went about rousing the girl enough to travel via floo. They hadn’t bothered changing out of their formal wear, which was for the best, since their luggage had been sent ahead of them. She adoringly watched the girl stretch sleepily before she opened her eyes.

“Are you ready to wake up now, darling?”

Hermione shrugged. “Maybe.” She snuggled against Bella’s curls, exposing her neck to her wife. The dark witch took the opportunity offered and pressed a hot kiss to the delicious curve, terminating with a gentle bite.

“On second thought, yes I am.”

“Hmm I thought you might be. Ready for our honeymoon?”

Hermione answered with a passionate kiss and an aggressive tug at Bella’s clothing.

“Right then, let’s go.”


 

Hermione had given little thought to the honeymoon. From the very beginning of the planning, Bellatrix made clear that she wanted to plan their retreat. The younger witch had been so harried between planning with Narcissa and attending daily lessons, she had no time to interfere. She never could have imagined that her wife would choose such a location. Stepping out of the tiny fireplace, she was shocked to be in a tropical hut. In a blaze of green, Bella stepped towards her, grinning.

“Welcome to a bit of paradise,” the dark witch said quietly, invading the young woman’s personal space.

“Where are we?”

“A small island off the coast of Africa. I thought it might be a nice change of pace to get out of England and away from our fame. We can truly have privacy here. Come, let’s walk to where we are staying.”

The pair stepped into the blinding sun of the early morning. It was bouncing off the water, dancing across the white sand. Hermione followed Bella’s lead and removed her formal shoes to walk more comfortably through the sand. She could never have imagined her lover in such a setting, but she could feel the joy radiating off of her witch. It was as though Bella lived so long in the dark and damp that it was what she had become. But being bonded to the young woman and being allowed another chance at life was an opportunity to live in the sun and sand instead.

After a short walk, Bella bounded up the steps of a cottage, if it could be called that. The wooden structure had walls made of shutters that were open to the ocean. The breeze from the water blew into the open walls, fluttering the bright white bedding. It was simply breathtaking.

“Stop stressing, love. I should have mentioned that we are alone on this island and will remain that way all week. You will find all the food we could want already in the kitchen, we will only need to heat it.”

“This is so beautiful.”

“Mmm I quite agree,” Bellatrix responded, grazing the surface of her lover with teasing fingers.

Hermione playfully batted at her. “You know that’s not what I meant.”

“I do. However, we’ve been bonded nearly 18 hours now and I have yet to have my new wife in a compromising position.”

“Well, I suppose we are a bit over dressed. It is a bit warm here.”

“Yes, I am concerned for your health,” Bella responded quickly

“Perhaps we shouldn’t skip breakfast, though.” Hermione led the curly headed witch through the rooms until she found the kitchen. She removed a bowl of cool fresh fruit before turning back around and eyeing her lover mischievously. “Take me to bed, Bella.”

The Death Eater needed no further motivation, guiding Hermione with haste into the bedroom. The room was one of the most open in the house. Sunlight spilt in, causing it to have an ethereal glow. The sound of the waves crashing against the shore filled the space with it’s soothing rhythm. The older witch spun the young woman into her arms, capturing her in a passionate kiss. After a few moments Hermione gently pushed her loved back slightly. In a husky voice she couldn’t believe came from her throat, she said,

“Strip for me, Bella. I want to see you.”

The dark witch raised an eyebrow, but slowly complied with the almost request. She removed each layer of clothing with intentional slowness, enjoying the feeling of the light brown eyes consuming her. With smug satisfaction, she watched the girl begin to remove her clothing with unsteady hands. She’d always enjoyed the power of her raw sexuality, but Bella had never experienced a rush like the one she received watching Hermione come undone. As the last stitch of clothing hit the rough finished wood floor Hermione said in a voice rough with arousal,

“On the bed on your back.”

Bella paused momentarily, wondering who had put the girl in charge, but her curiosity and desire overwhelmed her desire for power. Compliantly she moved to the four poster bed. She took the opportunity to tease the young, and suddenly dominant, witch. She moved slowly and opened her legs more than necessary. Settling onto the bed, she noted that the girl was gawking hungrily at her nude form. She found her own breath stolen by the confident approach of her lover and entirely forgot how to breath as the girl crawled up her body.

Hermione straddled her wife, settling her hips atop the matching set beneath her. With a smug look of triumph she took a single cube of melon out of the bowl. Silently and wandlessly, she cast a spell binding Bella’s wrists to the headboard. She smirked at the look of surprise on her lover’s face before the woman tested the strength of her bonds. Slowly, she drew the piece of fruit across her lover’s clavicle and down her sternum. She contrasted the coolness of the fruit with a hot mouth, luxuriating in the breathy moans she elicited. Reaching the navel serving as a temporary bowl, she sucked it into her mouth, sitting up to moan at the taste of the fresh fruit. Seeing the look in Bella’s eyes, she took another piece in her mouth and leaned down, touching her entire bare torso against her lover. Gently, she lowered her lips to the waiting mouth.
For the next half hour Hermione fed Bellatrix agonizingly slowly. Savoring every sound and taste spilling from her wife. She could have gone on for days, but the dark witch found the end of her patience. As easily as she’d been bound she released herself, and switched their positions. While she enjoyed the boldness in the girl’s actions, she needed more. The moment Bella sunk her fingertips into the soft wet heat she felt as though at last she’d come home.

Chapter Text

Hermione awoke wrapped in familiar arms, feeling completely loved. From her decidedly horizontal position she could hear the repetitive sound of waves crashing against the beach. The sun was halfway up the sky already. The day of the wedding and the wedding night left the pair more exhausted than she realized. They’d forgone bathing at the end of the day in favor of another enthusiastic round of lovemaking. Nothing anyone could have said before their bonding would have prepared her for the way she was feeling now. The young witch hadn’t realized how incomplete she was by herself. She thought she knew what it was like to be whole after meeting Bella. Because just in meeting her, most of the loneliness she felt evaporated overnight. It was such a luxury to have someone who inherently understood her.

Everything about being Bella’s was easy. The dark witch was clever, protective, powerful, and painfully seductive. Hermione found herself giving into anything and everything her witch asked of her. Largely she had no issue with it. Seeing Bella happy was the most fulfilling and thrilling experience of her life. Now that their very souls were bound together and she could feel the power of her lover coursing through her veins, she wondered how much longer she would be able to be compliant. It seemed as though the Black magic simply brought out the most assertive parts of her. She smiled to herself, realizing that her lover would relish in any challenge she presented.

For the first time in her life, Hermione knew that there was nothing she could do that would push away the person she needed to love her. And with that security she just might be able to start coloring outside the lines. After all, as a Black she would hardly be expected to be a wallflower or rule follower. Inside the walls of Hogwarts, she would have her house and their loyalty. And outside she had the protection of the most fierce of the Death Eaters. Not to mention her growing magical power. Since the bonding she hadn’t had any need to perform magic, but it was humming just below her skin. It was different now. Stronger than it was before the ceremony. She bought into the validity of the prophecy months ago, but to feel it coursing through her veins was entirely different. She knew dark days were ahead, even with her soulmate at her side, and that she should take the time to appreciate the care free days being offered to her.

With that thought at the forefront of her mind, she rotated in the arms holding her to gaze at the beautiful face of her wife. The powerful witch looked so at peace and innocent in her sleep. Hermione knew the woman had endured considerable hardship until just the last few months. She hoped that what she had to offer would make all the rest worth it in the end. She would never wish her nightmares of Azkaban to be anyone’s reality, particularly not the sweet creature who shared her bed. Unable to restrain her affection for Bella any longer, she pressed chaste, feather light kisses to the pale face and hair in front of her. The warm soft skin felt amazing beneath her lips. She noted that the sleepy deep breathing of her lover had lightened. She knew the witch was almost awake, but she was content to continue showering “asleep Bella” with attention. When she had the witch beside her squirming too much to feign sleep any longer, she whispered,

“Come shower with me, Bella.” The dark witch didn’t respond at first and seemed to be considering her options. “I’m going to be naked. Very naked. And you are going to be naked. And I want to have you against the wall in the shower.”

Instead of responding verbally, the older witch assertively captured the pink lips in front of her. The gentleness of the previous night was nowhere to be found. Before she could gain any footing in the battle of control, the young witch slipped out of bed. She watched as her very naked young wife walked seductively to the bathroom. She couldn’t remember seeing a more beautiful sight in her life. The curves of her beloved outlined by the seascape were simply mesmerizing. The sound of water splashing in the shower broke her out of her reverie. Not wanting to miss such a divine opportunity, she moved quickly to join her.

By the time Bella reached the bathroom, steam was pouring over the top of the shower and she could see just the shape of her lover under the stream. Just before she stepped into the shower she realized that she could literally feel Hermione’s arousal, which was new. She understood that there would be changes after the bonding, but this seemed like a ridiculous perk. The sight as she entered the water was every bit as scrumptious as she’d imagined.

The normally unruly hair clung tightly to the young woman's scalp, weighted down with the hot water. At the sound of Bella's entrance, Hermione slowly turned around, allowing the older witch to run her eyes the length of her body. With a gentle chuckle she grabbed the closest arm and pulled the soft body against her own. She swiftly buried her hands in the dark curls, dragging the kissable lips in. The dominant approach caught the dark witch off guard and she melted in response.

Feeling Bella's legs weaken, Hermione walked her into the closest wall of the shower, propping her up by pressing her right leg between the dark witch’s. The byproduct moan egged her on. With confident hands she explored the bare skin, leaving the fire of arousal in her path. Her lover pressed a hot center firmly against the offered leg, rolling her hips in an effort to get relief. For a long moment the younger witch allowed the contact, but wanting to keep control she pinned the hips against the wall. Placing one more soul searing kiss on Bella's lips, Hermione knelt without breaking eye contact. She enjoyed the look of surprise and desire shining back at her. In an effort to keep both momentum and her control of the moment, she began by pressing kisses just below her belly button while sinking lower. When she finally reached her destination, her lover was already clearly desperate for release. In a moment of mercy, she lifted one leg to wrap it around her shoulder, opening Bella up to her entirely. Greedily she explored her lover with ever changing firmness and pace, keeping her just on the edge of completion until the dark witch began pleading.

“Hermione, please.”

“Please what my love?”

“Let me come, little witch. I assure you I will earn it in a moment.”

“Oh will you, now?”

“Yes. Do not make me curse you. Please.”

With each desperate plea from the usually controlled and dominate witch, Hermione found herself getting increasingly aroused. As she began to set a steady rhythm with her mouth, she snaked her hand down and between her own spread thighs. The first touch caused her to moan against her wife’s sensitive skin.

“Oh ‘Mione, you aren’t. Oh fuck you are. I am so close baby. Come with me.”

At Bella’s command, waves of fluttering muscles rippled through the young witch, mimicking those above her. With an uncoordinated effort the two wet, but decidedly still unclean, witches collapsed curled around one another on the floor of the shower simply trying to catch their breath.

Chapter Text

After two heavenly weeks, the sun soaked witches returned to their home expecting to have a bit of time together before Hermione would be expected to return to school. Instead they stepped out of the green glowing fireplace to find a familiar blonde pacing.

“Lucius how nice of you to meet us at our home. Is my sister alright?”

“Bella. Hermione,” he greeted them. “She is uninjured, but she is in dire need of you. Our Lord has moved headquarters to our Manor. While it is a great honor, it isn’t without challenges. Narcissa sent me to collect you. She would like to offer you the use of your rooms in our house.”

“It's utter chaos, isn’t it?”

“Frankly? Yes. But I am certain that your presence will help, Bella.”

“I am sure it will. Well, what do you think, wife? Do you feel like lending assistance to your in-laws?” the dark witch asked.

“I supposed we can. They were good enough to allow us to finish our honeymoon before asking.”

“Wonderful,” Lucius said, clapping his hands together enthusiastically. “My wife has already had your things collected and sent by the elves.”

“Of course she has,” muttered the dark witch under her breath. As usual the youngest Black sister had gotten her way. Bellatrix held out her arm in invitation and apparated her wife to the library of Malfoy Manor.


 

“Thank Merlin you are finally here. It took Lucius long enough to retrieve you. There is more here than I can do alone. I need to instruct the elves about dinner. There are Death Eaters all over my garden. Without you here, Bella, they won’t listen to a word I say.”

“It's lovely to see you too, Cissy. Why yes, I did have a lovely honeymoon,” the dark witch said, interrupting the ranting blonde. The glare she got in return was scathing. “And if you can pause your diatribe,” she continued, “I will go manage the Death Eaters. Hermione, please stay here and assist my darling baby sister in planning meals for the rest of the week.”

Hermione really wanted to object, but the look on Bella’s face left no room for argument.

“Fine. Go on then. I am sure that the Dark Lord will want to have a conversation with you,” Narcissa said dismissively. The dark witch turned on her heel and marched out of the room, leaving Hermione at her mercy.

“Sit little witch and take notes for me. It will be quicker than writing it myself.” Hermione quickly settled in at the desk, taking up a quill, dipping it in the ink and looking up at the witch.


 

After 30 minutes of writing and dealing with Narcissa’s condescension and continuing need to punish the young witch for errors committed months before, Hermione was done. She realized that the beautiful blonde witch had been stewing since the incident at the Department of Mysteries. While she knew the woman had her reasons, the young witch could take no more of the anger. She was willing to submit to any sort of punishment the witch wanted to dish out.

“Enough, Cissa. I get that you are upset with me. Do what you must to me, but I can endure no more of this.”

Neither heard the door open during Hermione’s outburst, but at the sound of a dark chuckle both turned their heads.

“Be cautious, love. I know you think that you can handle my little sister, and you likely could on a battlefield, but this is different. If you want quick forgiveness, you will need to give up your wand and submit to any punishment she chooses. Consider carefully. Narcissa is not to be underestimated.”

“I understand what I am doing, Bella.’

“Very well,” the dark witch responded with a wave of her hand. It was clear from her body language that she was certain that the girl did not know what she was getting herself into.

Narcissa approached the young witch assertively saying, “If this is the course you wish to take, you need to agree that you will follow my commands without question. After I am satisfied you will be entirely forgiven and there will never be a need to speak of it again.”

“Yes, Narcissa,” Hermione said more meekly than before.

The blue-eyed witch gently touched the girl’s face. “You are truly a Black. Few would take me on so straightforwardly. Now, upstairs to your bedroom. Be undressed and on your knees. Don’t lock the doors or ward the room.”

Hermione nodded, unsure of if she would be able to vocalize her agreement. Doing as she had been instructed, she immediately left the library and walked quickly to the room designated as her’s and Bella’s during their extended stay at the manor. After the door was closed, but not locked behind her, she magiced her clothes away. She had no way of knowing how long or short she might be left waiting. She lowered herself slowly to the ground, taking notes of how the carpet felt beneath her knees.

In agreeing to the blondes’ terms, the young witch had no concept how vulnerable and small she would feel waiting on one or both of the sisters. She attempted to find a calm quiet space in her mind, but her thoughts continued to swirl. Only a few minutes in, when the silence truly settled in, she heard her wife’s voice in her head.

Hands behind your head, darling. We want you fully on display.

She waited for what felt like hours, though in reality, she knew it could have been no more than 10 minutes. She felt the pressure change in the room as the door was opened and heard the click of the latch. Everything in her wanted to turn and look at the two attractive witches, but she knew better. The tone in Bella’s voice had conveyed the seriousness of the situation. She may not have been a part of pureblood society for long, but she had certainly learned how central ritual was to everyday living.

She listened, holding her breath to the approaching muffled foot falls. They paused and she could feel herself being appraised. Her muscles were beginning to ache, but she didn’t dare lower her arms. Without her permission, a hot blush spread down her face and neck. There was a certain thrill to being treated like property. She wished she could control the reaction, because she knew that it would be expertly exploited by the Black sisters, but she couldn’t drum up the willpower to stop it. A single finger traced across the top of her shoulder and across her collarbone as its owner circled her.

“She looks very nice this way, doesn’t she Bella?” Familiar hands ran down her chest to painfully twist a nipple. Hermione tried to bite back a moan, but failed entirely.

“She does. Perhaps I should have made her a pet instead of marrying her.”

At that comment her head snapped up to look at her wife. As if on queue strong hands buried in her hair and forced her face back down. In her head the sultry voice of her lover sounded, Play your part, little one. Trust us and just be in this moment.

In response, the young witch forced her body to relax in submission to the strong hands taking possession of her body.

“She is lovely even in her resistance, as futile as it may be,” the blonde responded to the display while watching the skilled hands of her sister subtly reinforce the roles to be played. On numerous occasions, she had been on her knees and at Bella’s mercy. She knew those touches well and the physiological effect they would have. The curly headed witch was spinning a web from which the young woman would be unable to escape on her own. Narcissa crouched down to the level of the naked witch, with two fingers under her chin the blonde forced the eyes to rise to meet her own.

“This is meant to be a punishment, little witch. It will likely not be pleasant for you, but it will earn you my forgiveness and wipe the slate clean between us. You can expect this to affect you both physically and emotionally. But I promise you that Bella and I will keep you safe. If you understand, nod now.”

Hermione did as she was asked.

“Very good,” the blonde said, cupping her face affectionately. She was glad this would be over soon. It took an unreasonable amount of energy to remain guarded with the young girl as she came to resemble her sister in so many ways. With rough determination, she placed a hand beneath the arm of the girl and hauled her to her feet. Narcissa moved quickly, never allowing the young witch to find her footing. The blonde settled herself on the bed and lowered the girl over her lap, holding her down with a forearm. To the young witch’s credit, she put up no further resistance. She went willingly wherever she was led. With a simple summoning spell Narcissa was armed with a small wooden paddle. She rested it gently against the girl’s bare ass, allowing her to begin putting the pieces together.

“You are going to take 20. From your body language I am guess that this is your first time, so this will be trial by fire. My expectation is that you will remain as compliant as possible and not to heal yourself afterwards. For the next week you will feel your apology to me every time you sit. We’ve warded the room, so make all of the noise you need to. Do you know what you are apologizing for?”

Hermione started slowly, just in case the woman didn’t really want her to speak. “I’m apologizing for creating and executing a plan endangering myself and my family without notifying you, Bella or Lucius. Not telling you in particular was a lie of omission and a violation of the trust you put in me.”

“Well said, though don’t think that it will lessen your punishment.”

With the clear understanding of the purpose having been laid out, Narcissa raised the paddle and brought it down hard against the pale behind, leaving it bright red. Immediately Hermione shouted in surprise and attempted to stop wiggling in her lap. By the fifth hit the girl was chanting apologies and the blonde witch’s name. By the tenth, hot tears were running down her face.

Thus far the girl took her punishment well. The first ten were a bit of a warm up for the blonde. The last ten she executed with more force and in quick succession. The delivery of the blows didn’t allow the girl to catch her breath and turned the skin a dark red and purple. By the last blow, the girl was sobbing out of control and clinging to her skirts. The moment she felt Narcissa relax and put the paddle down, Hermione clamored onto her lap. In sobbing breaths the young witch continued to emit a string of apologies, burying her face in the long blonde hair. Pleased with the girl’s reaction, Narcissa firmly wrapped her arms around the shaking girl, holding her tightly against her own body. In the witch’s ear she whispered reassurances and promises of safety and love. Within a few minutes the girl quieted and began pressing soft kisses against the slender neck and across the exposed collarbone. Narcissa allowed the affection, sliding her hands along the smooth bare back in response. She knew well from personal experience how fragile these moments could feel in the aftermath, how desperate she had been in those occasions to feel loved.

Though her touch was on the surface innocent, Hermione was already squirming on her lap. Bellatrix remained in the room throughout the punishment, watching with pride at her young wife’s response. It never failed to surprised her how perfect the girl was for her. She chose not to intervene until the mood in the room made a turn towards sexual, but watching her nude wife move desperately on her sister’s lap was too delicious to pass up.

“Cissa,” Bella began, breaking the silence, “ is she turned on from this?”

The question was leading, but the goal was to put herself back into the dynamic.

“I believe she is, sister. Would you like to check?”

The sisters exchanged devious smirks. The oldest of the three took a knee and opened the bare legs, without pause she ran her fingertips through the dripping wetness at the apex of the girl’s thighs. She found the arousal overwhelming. The moment for foreplay had clearly passed, so she pressed two fingers deep in the girl. Hermione’s hips immediately shot up only to be caught and drug back by Narcissa. The girl’s begging returned, but was now invoking Bella’s name. The dark witch set a leisurely pace. There was no way that the young witch would be given an easy release after such a punishment. The slow strokes soon began to frustrate the girl, who attempted to thrust her hips more quickly to egg her wife into swifter action. Bella removed her hand and held it in front of her face.

“Look how wet you are for us,” she said, rotating her fingers in front of the girl's mouth. “Clean my fingers,” she continued, placing the tips on soft pink lips. Hermione complied, hungrily sucking at the digits. Beneath the brunette, Narcissa moaned at the arousing scene. Twisting the girl’s nipples between her fingers, she earned a buck of slender hips.

“On your knees, love. You owe my sister a thank you for generously punishing you.”

Obediently the girl slid to the floor. She settled on her knees, head down in front of Narcissa. Bella lifted the full skirts, exposing slender bare legs. Bending down to whisper a command she said, “Please her with your mouth until she begs you to stop. Don’t pause even for a moment before she does.”

Needing no further prompting, Hermione kissed her way up the legs, nipping at the soft skin of the inner thighs. Fingers wove into her hair, moving her mouth higher and demanding that she focus on the underwear of the blonde. She ran her tongue slowly up the wet silk, moaning at the taste of her. Spanking her clearly aroused Narcissa and Hermione knew she would enjoy watching her come undone. Summoning her magic, she made the cloth barrier disappear so that she could pleasure her companion. With the greater access, Hermione began an aggressive campaign to seek out every delicious reaction possible. The increasing pressure on her scalp illustrated that her attention was greatly appreciated. Just as she had Narcissa climbing to a peak, Bella was again whispering in her ear,

“Uh uh, not so quickly love. Slow down. Get on your hands and knees without stopping.” Hermione complied, somewhat saddened at being forced to slow down.

“Oh, Narcissa. Her ass is beautiful. It is so hot to touch still. She will be thinking of you frequently for the next week.” As she spoke, she reverently stroked the tortured skin, causing Hermione to moan into the blonde’s sex. Starting up again where she left off, Bella buried two fingers into her wife, but swiftly added a third.

“She is so turned on, Cissy. She loved being punished by you. You are a dirty girl, aren’t you Hermione. You loved the feeling of her paddle on your ass.”

The young witch whimpered in response, simultaneously she attempted to press her face further into Narcissa and back onto the fingers impaling her.

“This is what you want, little witch, isn’t it? To be held between us. You want us to take you.”

“Please, please,” she gasped.

“What is it that you want, Hermione?”

“More, please. More.”

Pleased with the invitation, Bella added another finger, stretching the girl. The hips before her continued rolling while attempting to push Narcissa into a climax. She was so intent on fucking the blonde that she didn’t feel her wife rotating her hand and folding her thumb in with more gentleness than before. Before the young brunette realized what was happening, the majority of the dark witch’s hand was inside of her. A deep feral moan erupted from her at being so thoroughly filled by her wife. Shakily she balanced on one arm, bringing three fingers up to Narcissa’s opening and roughly pushing in. Hermione no longer cared about Bella’s instructions, focusing instead on making Narcissa come as hard as possible. Within moments she felt the blonde's muscles flutter in release. She removed her fingers, but not her mouth, continuing to draw out additional orgasms. Narcissa’s movements were positively frantic. Between heaving breaths she commanded,

“Bella, I want to hear her scream.”

The dark witch picked up the pace, twisting her wrist and hitting the perfect spot and getting the shout her sister wanted. Sensing the girl was desperately on the edge, she took mercy on the young witch, pressing her free fingers against the swollen bundle of nerves. Almost immediately the girl climaxed, rocking against the hands. A moment later the blonde came against her tongue, driven by the desperate sounds from Hermione. The young brunette collapsed on the ground with her cheek resting gently on a pale thigh, absentmindedly kissing the skin at random and feeling a greater sense of peace than she had in several weeks.

Chapter Text

After such a pleasant interlude, Bella had been remiss to disentangle herself from the beautiful witches. However, she had not entirely contained the Death Eaters on the grounds and if Narcissa found out she would be furious. And so dutifully she dressed and went back to her task of setting the growing army straight. After actually applying herself, creating structure for and giving direction to the Death Eaters took less time than she anticipated. Word of the potential of her new powers after bonding clearly spread. Even the most fierce of her peers treated her with extreme deference.

Having completed her task, she stalked back to the Manor. She hoped that Hermione had cemented the repairs of her relationship with the youngest Black sister. It was time for her wife to live into the expectations of her new last name. She had little doubt that she could have handled the situation and her sister without interference, but a bigger part of her wanted to witness. As in all things about her lover, Bella found herself craving. Through their innate connection she had anticipated what would be transpiring and simply could not keep herself away. And perhaps the girl did still have a bit to learn, particularly when it came to dominating Narcissa.

Even having borne witness to the resolution of the conflict, she was pleased to enter the house and hear no shouting, smell smoke or other evidence of the physical violence and conflict the witches drifted towards over the course of the last few weeks. As she walked into the library and was met with the scent of her wife’s magic. With curiosity she approached the back of the room and the couch facing away from the door. The two witches were huddled together, pouring over an ancient magic book and debating a translation. Her heart melted at the sight. The chaos of the last few months made moments like the one she was witnessing impossible. Watching the two people she loved the most in the world engaged in intense intellectual debate filled her up in ways she never thought possible. She was still considering whether to interrupt when she heard a familiar voice.

“Are you going to join us or just stare,” her wife asked playfully.

“Hadn’t decided. Have I gotten so terrible at sneaking into rooms?”

“I heard your thoughts not your body,” Hermione responded sweetly.

“I heard your body,” Narcissa interjected.

“You’ve always had unreasonable hearing. Am I correct in presuming that the two of you have found peace?”

Hermione looked differentially to the blonde still unsure of where she stood.

“We’ve come to an understanding,” her sister replied.

“And you found her understanding satisfactory?”

“Quite,” the blonde answered, taking the young witch’s hand soothingly.

With dramatic flair, Bella sandwiched herself between the women pressing a kiss to each of their cheeks.

“How did it go back in the garden?”

“It's been managed. They won’t step out of line. And if they do, I will be there to put them back where they belong. Did you actually manage to plan for the week before you became otherwise occupied?” Both witches on either side of her playfully hit her shoulder.

“We planned two weeks. Thank you for asking,” Narcissa replied.

“Wonderful. I spoke briefly with our Lord. After dinner he would like to us to gather to discuss plans for the upcoming year.”

“How many is he requesting?”

“The Blacks, Malfoys, and Severus.”

“Bella, is this the new inner circle?”

“He didn’t say as much, but I believe that it may be.”

Narcissa exhaled deeply. “Well that's quite a change.”

“I know you don’t want us to be the center of this war, baby sister, but I don’t know that there is any way to get us out of it. We are too well known, especially now. We have to stand together. We are going to be prepared, I promise,” the dark witch implored. Abruptly she got up and sat on the other side of the blonde.

Hermione could now see that the blonde was crying into her wife’s curls. She embraced her from behind. She was so fond of her new family and genuinely hated seeing the deep scars from the first war.

“I can’t stand to lose everything again. We have so much more at stake, Bella. Hermione and Draco. I don’t want them to suffer as we did.”

“This is our best chance at making sure that won’t happen. The last 15 years, that hasn’t been any way to live. Even outside of Azkaban.”

“I’ll keep him safe, Cissa. There will be no second failure,” the young witch whispered.

“Oh my sweet Hermione. And he would no doubt say the same about you. You have have to keep each other safe.”

“And I won’t be keeping my distance either, my love. There is nothing that will keep me from seeing you, my darling wife.”

“We will all make it through this together,” Hermione replied, holding the blonde tighter. Narcissa chuckled darkly,

“You know I should be comforting you, not the other way around.”

“Ah, Cissa. Don’t sell us so short. We are hardly an average family.”

“See baby sister, we will be just fine. Our family is stronger than ever before.”


 

The mass mealtime was interesting to say the very least. The Death Eaters staying at the Manor were primarily from the best and wealthiest wizarding families, but they were a surprisingly diverse and eclectic group. Like the Blacks, there were strong governing traditions about behavior. Each bloodline developed their own unique method of maintaining closeness within the clan. This naturally made dinnertime interactions interesting. Bella had broken up two fights and had to draw her wand once over a cultural misunderstanding, as egos were as big as their traditions were complex. By the end of the meal and drink, the dark witch had the group laughing and generally in good spirits. Over the years she developed a particular talent for rallying the troops. The men respected her because she was fierce, cruel and rarely flustered in battle. Her magical and intellectual abilities were rivals only by her Lord, and now Hermione. Even the group that had not traditionally been supporters of Bella or the Black family were intimidated by how she was seemingly untouched by Azkaban and the rumors of the increase in her power.

When the ranks thinned, the Dark Lord signaled to the host family that their evening meeting was beginning. Bella smiled brightly when her wife came into view, chatting animatedly with her potions professor. It was clear that the two were forming a close familial bond. It came about organically as they shared a dark sense of humor and general disdain for the rest of the world. It was a positive revelation both for the two and the cause. Hermione was brilliant, but young and brash. Though Bella countered her in many ways, it wasn’t possible for her to be at Hogwarts. It was her sincere hope that Severus would provide emotional support in her place. He had been lonely for too many years. It was unlikely he would ever love again after Lily Potter, but it didn’t make him incapable of non-romantic emotions.

“Thank you all for being here this evening. It is so nice to have all of our little family back together under one roof.” The Dark Lord paused to look around the room. He hadn’t felt emotion for many years, as this was one of the sacrifices he made for immortality. But he imagined that if he could, he would feel warmth and pride at the scene surrounding him. The people, his people, were genuinely happy in ways they hadn’t been for many years. “Please everyone, sit. We have much to discuss for the upcoming year.”

He watched fondly as they all found their way into chairs and couches in front of the fireplace. He selected the large throne like chair and Severus sat dutifully at his right arm. On the couch across from him the Malfoy family settled in with Draco in the center. Narcissa fussed with the young man’s evening jacket, straightening out creases, ever the archetypal mother. Draco looked embarrassedly at his father as if imploring him to make it stop. The older blonde simply winked, doing nothing to stop it. Bellatrix and Hermione sunk into a love seat. The young witch seemed to debate sitting on her wife’s lap, but at the last minute remembered who was in the room and sat next to her instead, looking a bit sheepish. The dark witch chuckled and pet the girl sympathetically. It was still going to take time to get used to his lieutenant acting like a love struck teenager, not that he didn’t like it. It was refreshing. All eyes were once again on him and he resumed his speech,

“There are certain changes that we will need to enact over the next few weeks to ensure we meet some longer term goals. Our focus over the next few months is to attack on two fronts. We will continue our historical tactics.” As if on queue Bella and Lucius smirked. They’d always been overly fond of causing mayhem.

“We will restart the violence in the non-magical communities. Our goal will be to make the Ministry and Order nervous and to lull them into the comfortable notion that we will be only using old tactics. Bella and Lucius, you will be my leaders on the ground. I would like a list of targets and a timeline by the end of the week. Narcissa, as always your role will be keeping up the troops and being our primary healer. Severus will help you build up stores of potions before he returns to Hogwarts.”

The adult heads all bobbed in response and understanding. He didn’t pause for questions in part because he knew that there wouldn’t be any.

“Our second and perhaps more critical approach will be executed within the walls of the castle. Hermione and Draco, you will take steps to destabilize the Order. Once done we will strike the final blow and end Dumbledore's reign. With him out of the way, our victory will be much simpler. To this end, Draco, I will require your allegiance. You will take my mark after completing a raid with your father.”

“It would be my honor, my Lord.”

Voldemort chuckled, “So it is, my boy. I do not usually bring such young wizards into my ranks, but this is a rather unique situation. Your father will describe what is required of you for the ceremony.” The blonde teenager glowed with pride and accomplishment. “And finally, Hermione. As discussed, there is no need for you to take my mark as you are tied to Bella. You will accompany the Death Eaters on the same raid as Draco. Additionally there are some skills I want you to develop before returning. They should help you in finding a way to get my Death Eaters into Hogwarts without detection by the Order, which will allow us to end Dumbledore.”

As expected, the announcements were met with excitement. He watched with pleasure as the small group began brainstorming. Their dynamic as a group could not be more perfect. As always Bellatrix’s creativity shone and was balanced by Lucius’ sense of practicality. Hermione drew out the usually quiet potions master, prodding him for information and promises to teach her advanced magic. Draco grinned at his friend, and listened, enraptured, to his father and aunt plan. Narcissa sat quietly resigned. It was clear from the look on her face that she was mentally preparing herself for the battle wounds and risks. The blonde witch would always be their worrier. When she looked up, he caught her eye and nodded slightly. She smiled at the recognition. He had no reason to doubt her loyalty. She would also never abandon Bellatrix, but it didn’t abate her fears. He would have to instruct his top Death Eater, and perhaps also her wife, to bolster the blonde over the next few weeks.

Chapter Text

"Narcissa! I must ask if you are going to be in my laboratory that you focus."

The blonde head snapped up and in his direction. Her hands froze above the cauldron.

"And furthermore if you drop the rose thorns in that potion, your son will have two fathers instead of one."

Narcissa withdrew her hand quickly, shaking her head as though doing so could clear her thoughts.

“I apologize, Severus. My mind was elsewhere.”

“Obviously.” He paused dramatically, much in the way he did when teaching 1st and 2nd years. “You must stop worrying so much. Things are well in hand. I know it is difficult, but you must attempt to remember what a formidable witch your sister has married. She is the brightest witch of her age and perhaps a few others.” He held up his hand to prevent her from interrupting. “Her progress has been unprecedented. By the time term starts she will be nearly as powerful as Bella. And we’ve made certain changes for the school year. There will be no repeat of last year.”

“How can you be so certain?” The blonde sighed the words in clear frustration.

Before the potion’s master could reply, the door to the room banged open and the flushed faced teens rushed in.

“Mister Malfoy, Madame Black. I expect you have a good reason for interrupting in such a fashion.”

“We do. We’ve both received owls from Hogwarts?”

“And?” Narcissa inquired impatiently.

“Well, Mum. I’m a Prefect again.”

The blonde witch embraced her son warmly closing her eyes to savor the moment. When she finally opened them again, she caught Hermione shuffling her feet and looking a bit lost. It was clear that the girl now regretted running into the room on Draco’s heels. She released the boy allowing him to make his way to his godfather for a handshake and pat on the back. She approached the girl slowly, as she would a frightened animal.

“And what did your’s say, little witch?” She watched the girl slowly raise her eyes to search for rejection on the blonde’s face. Narcissa reached out and brushed a hand down the girl’s arm gently. It was clear that the young woman was once again feeling the sting of her adoptive parent’s absence. She knew that her family’s bond with the girl was increasing, but it hardly replaced the people who raised her.

Hermione gripped the comforting hand as a lifeline as she attempted to regain both her composure and her former enthusiasm.

“I’m a prefect as well.”

“Oh Hermione thats wonderful. Ravenclaw is so lucky to have you.”

“I’m not a Ravenclaw prefect, Cissa. I’m a Slytherin.”

The blonde immediately enveloped the young witch in a tight embrace. “I am so very proud of you,” she said, pulling back to look into the light brown eyes. “You will bring honor to the Black name.” She was pleased when some of the tension left the girl’s body. She reluctantly released her, having enjoyed the embrace rather more than she should have.

“Madame Black,” Severus said slowly with a hint of teasing in his normally serious tone.

“Professor Snape.”

“Welcome to my house, Madame Black,” he said, allowing a rare smile to slip past his usual icy facade and he opened his arms. Hermione rushed into them without delay. Since he had given Hermione away at her wedding he noticed that they’d begun to develop what felt like a familial bond.

“Thank you, Severus. I know you had a hand in this. I cannot tell you how grateful I am. I will have so much less to worry about."

"Was your old house really so terrible?" Narcissa asked gently.

"Not at first. There are many reasons why I fit with the character of Ravenclaw. And as a muggleborn I was largely able to go unnoticed and live in peace, but once my heritage was uncovered it got uncomfortable. Many became cruel. And those that weren't, insisted on invading the little privacy the rooms afforded. I didn't sleep much even after learning advanced wards."

"Bella mentioned in passing how impressed she was with the wards you put on your bed during the time when she was leaving you notes. At the time I couldn't have imagined why you needed to be so cautious. You are an incredible witch, Hermione."

"Thank you," she answered quietly. The doors once again swung open, interrupting the conversation, for which she was grateful. Living through those months was bad enough. She was glad to be past them and had no desire to relive them. She found herself grinning broadly as her wife strutted into the room. As usual the dark witch wore a tight black leather corset and flowing skirts. Her curls were wildly piled on top of her head. And the dark red lips were begging for attention. She nearly acted on her instincts, but held herself back from kissing her at the entrance of Lucius. Bella shared no such restraint. Playfully she scooped the young witch in her arms, kissing her deeply. Hermione broke away, batting at her wife for the public display.

“I do so hate to interrupt such a joyous reunion after a dramatically long separation… of nearly 3/4’s of an hour,” Lucius said snidely. “But I, personally, would like to know what all of the smiles are about.”

“Aren’t we always so cheerful, Luc?”

“We aren’t all newlyweds, Bella.”

Bella tightened her arms around Hermione and pressed her nose into the fragrant curls, savoring the feeling. While she had been teasing, at the same time she knew he was right.

“Fine, fine. You two, what is going on?”

“You are looking at two 6th year Slytherin prefects.”

The dark witch congratulated and fawned over her wife. Lucius had of course informed her it would be happening as he took the appropriate political steps to get what he wanted. But the reality of knowing Hermione would be safe within the walls of the Slytherin dungeon did more to soothe her than she cared to admit. And the girl was positively glowing. It was time for her to be in the limelight if even only a little. She’d spent a lifetime hiding in the shadows, which was nearly criminal considering how prodigious of a talent she was. The Malfoy patriarch smiled at them knowingly. Tentatively Hermione stepped towards the blonde wizard.

“Lucius, thank you. I know that you must have worked tremendously hard for this. Being in my family’s house would have been more than enough.”

He pulled her into an embrace, much like he had Draco only moments before.

“Consider it a late wedding present. I had hoped to have it done by then, but it just didn’t quite work out. And I thought you and Draco would have much more fun doing it together. Not to mention it gives Severus even greater opportunity to keep an eye on you.”

“Thank you,” she mumbled against his robes.

“You are very welcome,” he said quietly so only she could hear. As they broke away, he clapped his hands once in genuine excitement. “We’ve an important task to carry out this afternoon. Our Lord asked the Minister to kindly step down. He unfortunately refused. So it has been put upon us to publicly warn him against defying those that have power. And, son this will earn you your mark.”

Hermione returned to Bella’s side, seeking reassurance. A strong hand pressed into her lower back, seeping calm into her bloodstream.

“We will be leading two separate missions. Bellatrix and Fenrir will lead two small groups and take out key muggle bridges. This should destabilize the political relationships with the muggle Prime Minister and possibly cause them to force him to step down. And I will lead a third group into a muggle suburb to create a bit of mayhem. Draco you will be with me tonight. And Hermione, of course you will be your wife’s responsibility. Your uniforms are waiting in your rooms I suggest you go prepare.”

The group of four said their goodbyes to Narciss and Severus, promising to be home in time for dessert and to be safe. Throughout the exchange Hermione attempted to avoid the anxious gaze of the blonde, not wanting to feel any less secure. In the end, she received a knowing look and brief kiss when no one, save Bella, were paying attention.


 

“Don’t be so nervous, darling,” Bellatrix purred while lifting the solid black robes onto her lover’s shoulders. “You will be brilliant and with me. I will keep you safe.”

“I know you will, it’s just everything will change tonight.”

“Every decision we make changes the course of everything, but I promise you this is the right path for us.”

“What if I can’t do it?”

“Oh my love, I assure you that you can. And if you falter, I will access your magic and do it for you.”

The young witch breathed deeply, taking in the assurances offered to her. She gazed into the floor length mirror in front of her, taking in her own appearance. Even without the traditional mask, she noted that she looked exponentially grown up. She watched her lover wrap around her from behind. They were a striking and beautiful couple. She gazed into the dark stormy eyes of her lover as familiar hands mapped her body.

“I like you this way. You are as fierce outside as you are inside.”

Hermione could think of nothing to say in response, so she turned her head to kiss Bella.

“What specifically is our plan?”

“We will destroy the supports for the bridge mid-apparition. We will go in a 2 formation. Of course, as this is your first mission, we will apparate together. My plan to do so is much like we are now. This will leave your wand free to cast. After we bring it down, we will go to check on the other team’s bridge and then proceed to the neighborhood where the Malfoy men will be.”

“I thought most couldn’t manage to apparate like that with another person.”

“Well I am not most people,” she replied with mock offense. “And as you well know, I can also tap into your magical supply if I feel I need to. We will be fine. Do you think you will be able to fire the spells?”

“I should be able to manage. What of Draco? Is he…”

“Going to kill muggles? It’s a possibility, though the goal is really only to burn a few structures and create chaos. But if a muggle sees the face of a Death Eater, the options will be limited. Either tortured into insanity or killed. I dare say an Avada is a kinder option.”

Hermione nods in response to the logic. She knew that the reality of a life in the ranks of the Dark Lord’s elite would be difficult. She struggled with the thought of taking another life, but in truth doubted she would even think about it if her lover or family was threatened with deadly harm.

“Turn around, love. I want to put on your mask for the first time.”

The dark witch ran her wand across the younger woman’s face leaving in its wake a silver mask with delicate incised lines matching her own exactly. They would look identical with their hoods up, only adding to their intimidation. Satisfied with their appearance, she took Hermione by the hand and strode out to their meeting place.

Chapter Text

Throughout the tense walk Hermione clung to Bella's hand as though it were her lifeline. As they approached the group she spotted the Malfoys easily. Draco stood slightly behind Lucius as though he could hide from what he would become. The older witch led Hermione to stand beside her friend. Playfully she bumped his shoulder, hoping to convey that it would all be alright and that they would get through it together. As was the dark witch’s custom they were the last two to arrive. Greyback, Crabbe, and Goyle stood poised for the fight. The young witch noticed that the Death Eaters were pulsing with excitement, and she truly wondered what lied ahead for her. Bella nodded to the group and simply said,

“It’s time. Let’s go.”

With little fanfare they broke into the two groups. Draco placed his hand in the crook of his father’s elbow, preparing for side-along apparition. They were flanked by Crabbe and Goyle. A few meters away Greyback stood in front of Bella and Hermione, he smiled momentarily before vanishing in a cloud of black smoke. The young witch felt her wife’s arms wrap around her securely and soft lips brushing the back of her robes in a soothing kiss before she felt the pull right behind her bellybutton.

The world rushed by them faster than her brain could process. Through the veil of black smoke she saw blurs of colors. The feeling was exhilarating. Wrapped so tightly in her lover’s arms, she could feel their magic dancing and intermingling together. It felt as intimate as any time they’d ever spent together between the sheets. The adrenaline rush, the seductive nature of her partner, and the strong influence of the Death Eaters thoughts bouncing through her mind caused Hermione to forget any moral objection she originally had. She savored the feeling. She now understood why they seemed to enjoy being Death Eaters.

Their progress slowed slightly as muggle London came into view. It was enough for Hermione to see the Millennium Bridge come into view. Taking down the towering pedestrian bridge that crossed the River Thames in the middle of the day would certainly send a strong message. Without concern of being seen, the two Death Eaters made a quick descent towards the bridge. The young witch steeled herself and grasped her wand tightly, preparing to fire off destructive spells. Bella dipped and turned them, giving her direct access to the structural supports. She fired off two of the most powerful bombarda maximas she had ever conjured. The roar from the crumbling structure was deafening. Hermione’s spells hit so solidly that the bridge was blown towards Greyback. He narrowly escaped the debris, swooping up over the bridge to fire spells at the panicked and running muggles. The dark witch stayed the lower course as her wife systematically blew apart each support. In the 5 seconds it had taken for them to cross the river, half of the bridge was submerged underwater.

Hermione felt the surge of victory and joy travel through her lover as they blasted their way away from downtown London. She found it contagious and exhilarating. As it flowed through her, she felt it spark her magic. Apparently Bella did as well, as she tightened her grip and nibbled on her neck. In moments, the dark witch delivered them securely on the ground, but hesitated in releasing her. Reluctantly she stepped back and drew her wand. Their intense staring was cut short by panicked shouting coming from a smoking residence. The dark witch took off at a sprint with her young wife at her heels. As they neared the burning structure, the singed forms of Crabbe and Goyle hurdled out coughing violently. Bellatrix grabbed the closest shoulder none too gently and growled,

“Where are Lucius and Draco?”

“I don’t know they went around the back.”

Without needing to communicate, the two witches took off at a run. As they rounded the rear of the house they were momentarily blinded by a bright green light emitting from inside the house. Hermione’s breath caught in her throat as she was paralyzed by both fear and disgust. The Death Eater sensed the reaction and reached behind her capturing her wrist and continuing to propel her forward. She only released her as they reached the open door. With wand drawn the dark witch carefully entered the kitchen, looking around. Standing in the entryway of the living room was the silhouette of Draco holding his wand at his side. He was neither moving nor making a sound. The fire in the front of the house was beginning to hiss and crackle its way towards them.

“Draco what happened?” Hermione blurted out with enough force to cause him to turn his head. His eyes were blank for a moment before he opened his mouth. The first few attempts at speech were nothing more than lips moving. Desperately he pointed to a corner of the room. The last of the four Death Eaters sent on the mission that night was crouched against the wall. Bellatrix immediately flew to his side. She shouted over her shoulder,

“Hermione, we need to get out. The entire place will be on fire soon. Take Draco, I have Lucius.”

The young witch took her friend’s hand as he still searched his brain for language and pulled him quickly through the house to the back garden. It was easier to breath outside and the change of scenery seemed to bring the young blonde back to himself.

“The muggle had a metal thing. It banged and my dad’s arm started bleeding. And we’d been practicing the killing curse so much. I didn’t even think I just fired,” he said quickly. Lowering his voice until it was nothing more than a whisper, “I took a life. I saw his soul leave his body. It was my anger that fueled the curse.”

Echoing his grave tone she responded, “You did what you had to. He was trying to kill your father. It wasn’t the aim of tonight, but you did what had to be done.”

“And I’m proud,” the grunting blonde Death Eater said, emerging from the house supported by Bellatrix.

“Yes, well done, Draco,” his aunt echoed.

The family chatter paused as Crabbe and Goyle came around the corner. The dark witch immediately stalked towards them.

“Where the fuck were you two? You nearly lost Lucius. Can you even imagine what the Dark Lord would have done to you if he had died? You are lucky his son is such a worthy candidate to be a Death Eater. He saved the entire raid.”

The two shuffled their feet uncomfortably, knowing this was likely to be the most rational and least violent lecture of the evening.

“Apparate them back to the Dark Lord. Hermione and I will be right behind you. Go,” she barked, leaving no room for debate. Crabbe offered his arm to Draco and Goyle to Lucius. In two plumes of black smoke they were gone.

The young witch eyed her wife warily. She had never seen this side of her. She rationally knew that Bella had to be tough and cruel at times, but this was truly eye opening. And where only a few months ago she would have been quivering in fear, she found instead a familiar fire ignite deep in her stomach. The power rolling off her wife at the moment was palpable. She struggled to catch her breath as the dark witch walked behind her. A chin rested teasingly on her shoulder, close enough to her head that every spoken word would result in lips brushing her ear.

“You like me this way, don’t you?” The dark witch purred.

Hermione considered denying it, but quickly relented. “Yes. I do.”

“I am so glad,” she replied, drawing her lips across the small patch of bare skin. “But we have one more task here tonight. And I want you to cast it.”

“What’s that,” the young witch managed to ask through her conscious reminders to continue breathing inspite of the allure of the body behind her.

“His mark. It needs to be placed in the sky. I want it to come from your wand as a sign of your commitment, as he won’t be marking you. You do know the spell don’t you? I would hardly think that Severus would have skipped that one over.”

Hermione drew a deep breath to center her magic. She pointed her wand to the sky and shouted, “Morsmordre!”

“Well done, little witch,” Bella said, securing her arms around her wife. In the moment just before they apparated back to the Manor, they took in the astounding sight of the glowing skull hovering above the muggle neighborhood.

Chapter Text

Landing in Malfoy Manor was not the most pleasant experience. It was far too reminiscent of the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. Fortunately Lucius was awake and talking, specifically cursing up a storm. The entire scene still gave Hermione pause. She was still recovering from her apology to Narcissa. And emotionally she wasn't prepared to take the blame for this particular situation. She was unsure of her next move until the blonde witch caught her gaze. There was no anger, but instead was full of pleading, which Hermione immediately complied with.

"Hermione," Narcissa said hoarsely. "I don't understand what type of injury this is. I've never seen anything like it. It isn't magical."

"Are you sure, Cissy? I thought he had a metal wand. And it certainly felt like a diffindo," the injured wizard interjected in obvious pain.

"It's a bit like that, Lucius," Hermione responded carefully. "This is what is known as a gunshot wound. They aren't a common injury here, because the metal wand or guns are illegal." She watched as their eyes all got large. How quickly they forgot how many years she lived in the Muggle world. She smiled briefly before continuing. "Healing it will be a little different. Severus," she called to her friend, "I need blood replenishing, pain, and skin re-growing potions now. Cissy, I need you to be prepared to apply pressure, the bleeding may get much worse."

She turned her full attention to Lucius. Sympathetically she placed a hand on his good shoulder. "This is going to hurt like hell for a moment. There is a small piece of metal still in your arm and I must get it out or you will get an infection."

"Well that explains why it feels like my arm is burning off. Stupid bloody Muggle."

"Cissy hold his hand and get ready to apply pressure, this will happen very quickly." The young witch steadied herself and wandlessly summoned the bullet into her hand with a whispered accio. As predicted, the wound began bleeding profusely again. With her fingers wrapped firmly around the offending metal she moved back to give Narcissa space to work. The wound was now simple and well within her healing abilities.

The young witch stared on at the scene while the blonde worked feverishly. She didn't move until familiar hands guided her away.

"Come, love. We are due to debrief our Lord. We've been delayed enough already. Cissy has it from here."

Hermione nodded mutely and allowed herself to be led away from the entry hall and into the library. At the back of the room in front of the window where the family would often have breakfast sat Greyback, Crabbe, Goyle and Draco. From body language it was clear that Crabbe and Goyle were expecting to take much of the blame. Draco sat stoically, though Hermione suspected that was mostly shock. Bella too had transformed the moment she crossed the threshold. The powerful, intimidating and alluring woman who stood at her side as she cast the dark mark was back in full force. It took all of her self control to push those feelings back down, because jumping her wife at the present time would hardly be appropriate. The dark witch sat next to her Lord and Hermione took a seat next to her. With anticipation, she turned to watch Voldemort.

"Welcome back, Madames Black and congratulations. You've done extremely well and I am pleased. Hermione, you cast a beautiful version of my mark. You will now be fully accepted into my ranks."

Bellatrix beamed at her, and she felt more full of accomplishment than she ever had before in her life.

"Bella and Greyback, well conducted raid. I expected nothing less, but it was well done. You did create significant chaos," he continued. The pair nodded in acknowledgment of the complement. "And Bella, quick thinking on the ground at the muggle house served you well. You can expect to lead more missions in the future."

"Thank you, my Lord," she responded differentially.

"And Draco, you too are to be commended, you behaved perfectly within the training provided to you by your godfather. You will be given the honor of taking my mark. I will, however, wait until it is possible for your father to be present. He should not be forced to miss such a momentous occasion in his only son's life."

"Thank you, my Lord," he replied, attempting to sound far more confident than he felt.

"And this unfortunately brings me to you two, Crabbe and Goyle." As he spoke their names, the chairs flew out from underneath them. Simultaneously they were hit with a powerful crucio, causing them to cry out and convulse on the floor. Clearly annoyed by the sound, Voldemort cast a silencing spell without lifting the unforgivable curse. Hermione stared in amazement, not in reaction to the cruelty of the act. He wasn't named the Dark Lord for being sweet and cuddly. She was impressed by his ability to curse more than one wizard simultaneously while overlaying spells. In spite of the sheer violence of the act, it was remarkable to watch such a skilled wizard.

"Now I expect you to listen closely, gentlemen," he spoke calmly to the two men as though he weren't currently torturing them. "Your behavior was entirely unacceptable. Setting fire to a structure in a non-critical situation with Death Eaters still inside is beyond stupid. And in doing so you directly disobeyed the orders of Lucius, whom I put in charge of your raid. If you cannot follow orders in the future, I will not be in need of your services and you know well that no one leaves my organization alive. And you can't even imagine the pain you would have experienced had more serious harm come to either of the Malfoys. I would have simply let Bella have you. Fortunately for you that isn't necessary," he said, lifting the curse.

The two men lie unmoving on the ground aside from twitching from the after effects of the curse. "Have I made myself clear?"

"Yes, my Lord," two rough and pained voices answered in unison.

"Good. Greyback, show them out and off the premises. I don't want to see their faces for at least a week."

The muscular Death Eater nodded in understanding and roughly dragged the two men to their feet and out of sight. Barely a minute later there was a knock at the door. Without speaking a word Voldemort opened it magically, knowing who would be interrupting.

"Ah, good. Do come in," he said to Lucius, Narcissa, and Severus. Snape led the group followed by the Malfoys, who walked arm in arm. Hermione noted that Lucius' color was much better and he appeared to not be in pain.

"How are your wounds?" the Dark Lord inquired of the blonde wizard.

"Managed. Thanks to Hermione and Narcissa. Those muggle metal wands are not to be trifled with."

"Muggle what?"

"Guns, my Lord," Hermione answered automatically.

"They shot a Death Eater?" he asked, obviously aghast at the idea.

"They did my Lord."

There was an uncomfortable silence.

"May I share an idea, my Lord," the young witch asked hesitantly.

"This is most disturbing, but yes please do."

"Perhaps an explanation and demonstration of muggle weapons would be useful for those who will be conducting raids. It would allow Severus the opportunity to experiment with appropriate deflection shields."

The snake like face paused in concentration and thought before slowly responding,

"As much as I abhor muggle technology, I agree this is our best course of action. Hermione and Severus make this happen before you return to Hogwarts. Keep our people safe from those uncivilized beasts."

"Yes, my Lord," the pair said in unison.

"This brings us to our last piece of business for the day. Draco, you have carried out my commands in a difficult situation above your training level. You have most certainly earned your place in our ranks. Come here and receive the mark."

Draco stood and nodded to his proud father before kneeling before Voldemort.

"This will be unpleasant for a few minutes. It is a complex piece of magic. I will not be offended if you cry out."

Voldemort pressed the tip of his wand into the pale skin of the young man's forearm. And beneath its spell the dark mark appeared. Draco groaned and closed his eyes at the sensation. When the wand was retracted he said,

"Thank you, my Lord. I am honored."

With the formalities of the afternoon raid concluded, the Dark Lord took his leave. The inner circle lingered, making small talk and generally soothing their nerves from the day. Hermione had been moving progressively closer to Bella and was on the verge of climbing into her lap when the dark witch stood suddenly and announced,

"That was quite the day. I think that my wife and I will take our dinner in our rooms. We will see you all in the morning."

The young witch happily followed her wife out of the room. The door to the library had just closed behind them when it Narcissa burst through it. She launched herself into Bella's arms and then captured Hermione with equal enthusiasm. She smiled warmly before turning to go back to her family,

"Thank you both for keeping my men safe. I owe you more than I can ever repay." The last sentence was leveled directly at Hermione who smiled in response.

Chapter Text

Being drug up the stairs by her wife was becoming a bit of a habit, and not necessarily one that Hermione had any issue with. Tonight was different. She clung to Bellatrix with an unfamiliar desperation. There had been many nights when she wanted the dark witch, deeply and with every bit of her soul and body. But there had been few times that she felt so consumed with an urgent need for her. If she were still in the muggle world, she might have been compelled to tell her that she wanted to crawl inside her skin. The sheer ferocity with which the older witch was taking the stairs suggested that she was, in fact, aware of Hermione’s emotional state.

When they reached the door to their room, the young witch could scarcely have determined if even apparition would have been faster. As soon as the dark witch safely delivered them inside, she protectively moved her out of the way while casting complex and powerful protection and silencing spells. Hermione backed up, watching her until the back of her knees hit the bed and she sat down. Watching Bella in such a state was breathtaking. The power rolling off the witch from each movement caused the young witch’s breath to catch painfully in her throat and she forgot entirely how to breathe.

The dark witch crossed the small space, backing her wife into the bed and landing herself firmly on top of her. In a moment of clear desperation, Hermione lurched up, capturing her lips in a bruising kiss and throwing her arms around her neck. Bella allowed her to control and drive the embrace until they were both breathless. When they finally broke apart she asked,

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“Yes, but not right now. I need to feel you first.”

“Tell me what you need.”

Hermione paused, attempting to gather her thoughts, but language escaped her entirely. Shifting her weight to one side, she swiftly reversed their positions.She urgently grasped the front clasp of her wife’s robes and roughly pushed them aside and off her shoulders. With equal haste she pulled at the ties of the corset. The hours of practice were clearly paying off when she pulled it cleanly away in a matter of seconds. Bella’s hands were instantly at her clothes removing them with equal speed and desire. Before she could reach the clasp of the young witch’s bra, Hermione captured her wrists and pinned them above her head.

“You are what I need. Give in to me, Bella.”

Instantaneously the dark witch fought against the show of dominance pulling her wrists and fighting against the weight above her. Without speaking a word or lifting a finger, Hermione bound her hands above her head, securing them to the headboard. She sat back on her hips to survey the canvas of pale soft skin in front of her. She had never really even attempted to take control away from the witch. But her current vantage point had her contemplating that it might actually be a good idea. She possessively touched the bare skin on her torso, dragging red lines into the skin with her nails. She delighted in the hiss she elicited from her lover. Pleased with the complacency thus far, she roughly took a hard nipple in her mouth, holding it between her teeth while circling it mercilessly with her tongue. She felt the dark witch moan and thrust her chest higher offering herself up. She switched sides, applying the same treatment, while pulling and twisting the tender skin with her fingertips. Pleased with the thrashing caused by her roughness, she took a swollen nipple in each hand while she leaned up to whisper in her ear,

“I am going to fuck you, Bella. And you will be begging me to stop, to finish, to never stop. And if you are lucky and if you obey, I will consider granting you release.”

The dark witch openly moaned, but quickly gathered her composure. “You need to be certain who you are toying with, little witch. You can’t keep me tied up forever.”

“A girl can dream.”

“Do what you believe you can get away with. But at the end of the day you will always answer to me,” she growled.

Clearly finished with the exchange, the young witch pressed soft kisses into the pale neck before biting hard enough to clearly mark the skin. She would enjoy her wife’s attempts to cover the evidence of her ownership. In one clean motion, she moved off the body beneath her and rolled Bella onto her stomach, pivoting on the wrists bound together at the top of the bed. Slowly she peeled the offending skirt down the muscular legs, taking care to caress each sensitive spot. She reveled in the squirming of the generally controlled witch and her tendency simply not to wear knickers. She wasn’t certain if it was a result of their relationship or if the dark witch simply couldn’t be bothered. Feeling as though she had teased enough, she ran a single digit down the length of her spine starting at her neck. She terminated the slow path when she finally encountered the evidence of her effect on her wife. With no further preparation, she pushed two fingers deep inside the witch, resulting in her name being moaned loudly. With the power of her body in each stroke she began moving in and out at a slow but hard pace. Her wife thrust enthusiastically in time.

When a third finger was added, the dark witch struggled to maintain any control over her limbs. The position put Hermione’s hand at a particularly delicious angle that was driving her to the edge of insanity. As amazing as it felt, there would be no way that she would climax in the current position. She futilely attempted to rotate her hips and encourage the kind of touch that she wanted. Her movements were stilled by a sharp smack in the middle of her ass.

“No, Bella. I am in control. Now be a good witch and take it.”

The older witch moaned in understanding and sheer arousal. It was so rare that someone had been able to so thoroughly dominate her and she had certainly never enjoyed it so much. Hermione aggressively hit each and every pleasurable place until Bella was panting in desperation.

"Now, my love. We both know what you want. Why don't you just say it?"

The dark witch shook her head in response refusing to use her voice.

"Then I suppose you don't enjoy what I am doing. Perhaps I ought to just remove my hand."

Bella nearly sobbed at the loss.

"All you have to do, darling," Hermione said in a dangerously sweet voice tempered by the sharp nails dragging down her back, "is ask me nicely. I can make you feel so good. I just need to hear you." Absentmindedly she traced the wet and tender flesh with just her fingertips, never applying enough pressure to do anything but tease.

Several long minutes passed before she heard a quiet muffled response.

"If you are going to bother speaking to me, you ought to at least ensure I can understand you," she said, bringing her hand down harshly over the exposed skin in quick succession.

"I said," the dark witch began, slowly lifting her head off the bed enough to be understood. "I want you to fuck me." She practically growled the request, dismayed that her wife was able to demand such a display. But her thoughts were thoroughly terminated by the reentrance of the fingers that systematically teased her. But there was clear purpose behind each rhythmed stroke.

"See, Bella. That was not so very difficult. All you had to do was be honest with us both about what you wanted."

The older witch was beyond language and simply groaned in response. She was being so expertly held on the edge of release that she would do anything to be allowed to topple over it.

"Hermione, please. I need..."

"What do you need, Bella?"

"Fuck. I need to come, Mione. Please please make me."

No sooner were the words out of her mouth, she felt familiar warm fingers press firmly against her clit and circle with rough intention. As words transformed into strings of language-less moans, Hermione bit hard into the soft skin just above her hip. With the convalescence of pain and pleasure, Bellatrix was thrown into one of the most intense orgasms of her life. Before she could come down from the high, her wrists were released and strong fingers were rubbing the stiffness out of her arms and shoulders. In her ear, her lover whispered her unending devotion and love.

"Did you enjoy playing with fire tonight, little witch?"

"You know I've never minded the warmth, Bella."

"Actually I remember when you used to be extremely well behaved."

"All just an act I assure you."

"I see. Perhaps I should deal with you like my sister?"

The young witch's eyes flew open in concern. What she experienced by Narcissa's hand was incredibly hot, but she had been so angry at the time that she didn't feel anything until nearly the end. But she still couldn't sit without discomfort. And she was getting tired of the knowing smirks from the blonde. She couldn't yet conceive being able to handle such treatment again so soon.

Bella chuckled darkly. "No? You don't think I should punish you. Can you even imagine what I would do to anyone else who attempted to treat me that way?"

Hermione could. She shuddered at the thought.

"Don't worry little one, I won't further abuse your ass," she said, rubbing the skin sympathetically. "But that doesn't mean that your behavior doesn't have consequences. Perhaps I will just have to be a bit more creative."

Hermione took a deep breath. While she was relieved at the revelation, she had no doubt in her wife's creativity. And she was unsure if she was happy about it being directed at her.

"Don't think so much, little one. Just feel. Be a good girl. Get undressed and come sit on my fingers. I am going to watch you fuck yourself."

The young witch moaned loudly and ground momentarily into a muscular thigh before sliding her way up to her wife's hand. The dark witch sat up, positioning the witch on her lap so that eye contact would be a given.

She sank slowly down, allowing her wife to penetrate her. She groaned at the feeling of fullness and completion that only Bella could deliver. Embarrassed, she attempted to hide by ducking her face into the wild curls. A firm hand pulled her face back by the base of her hair.

"Oh no, my love. You don't get to hide. If you have no shame in taking me as you just did, you can feel no shame in submitting to me as you should."

Hermione emphatically shook her head no. She should have known that a creative punishment would be no less painful than a traditional one.

"Darling. It's just me. You need to let it out or you will combust. I will take care of you."

Her hips stilled in nerves and embarrassment.

"You are being punished," Bella responded, smacking her thigh lightly to get her moving again. "Go on. Give me a show, my love. Don’t you love the way my fingers fit inside you? It's like you were made for me."

Hermione threw her head back and moaned. As usual, Bella was dead on. She never felt more complete than with her wife in her.

“You are being a good pet now. I want you to play with your nipples. I know how much you like it,” the dark witch said pushing her on.

The young witch flushed bright red at the idea. Being on display and out of control was very uncomfortable, which she realized was the entire point of the exercise. Slowly she brought her fingers up to do as she was told. She watched the chocolate eyes take in every movement hardly blinking. The added stimulation had her just on the brink of an explosive orgasm.

“No. You aren’t allowed release yet,” Bellatrix whispered hotly in her ear, answering her thoughts. “And you best keep your pace up too. Show a little restraint, witch.”

“What if I can’t?”

“Then I would be happy to go retrieve my sister and let her deal with you.” It was in fact an empty threat. The dark witch was not in a sharing mood, not even with someone she loved as much as Narcissa.

Obediently, Hermione did as she was asked. Her hips moved as if controlled by an external force. Though her hands never left her chest she bent over to rest her head against her wife in a desperate attempt at self control.

Sensing that her wife was close to the breaking point, the older witch laid them back comfortably into the bed, never stilling her hand. The girl's body was still barreling towards release and she suspected the tears would closely follow.

"That's it, Hermione. Let go. You are mine." With deliberate strokes she set a steady rhythm, reading her wife's body to apply the perfect amount of pressure. She allowed the young witch to hide in the crook of her neck as she brought her to climax. As she predicted, hot tears streamed across her neck as the girl finally allowed herself to process her emotions.

For nearly an hour they laid intertwined. Bella gently rocked and caressed the woman in her arms until she cried herself out. She stared in wonder at the sensitive good creature that curled into her side. She never thought she would be entrusted with such a beacon of hope and love. And yet she could imagine no other path for her now. Silently she promised herself that she would be the witch Hermione wanted her to be, even if it meant she had to make changes.

Chapter Text

Hermione woke in the moments just before dawn. Out the large windows she could see the first bit of light cresting above the countryside. She was still wrapped in the strong protective arms of her wife. Her body was sore in a way that she would be feeling it all day and would have to take care not to walk oddly in front of others. As usual the dark witch knew exactly how to handle her. Their nighttime activities took the edge off her anxiety and physical need. But in the early light of the morning she found her soul was restless. She slipped quietly out of bed and the warmth of love Bella provided. She was fairly certain that after what she did the night before that she didn’t deserve such treatment. She looked back at the slumbering form fondly. She felt such guilt at her need to leave the room, but trusted the dark witch would understand. She did everything else, hopefully this wouldn’t be an exception to the strength of their bond.

She didn’t bother with a wand, casting several cleansing charms before pulling her hair up and out of her face. She dressed simply in light clothes, the few muggle items she still owned. Silently she exited the room, taking one last peek at her lover. The word love didn’t even touch what she felt for the woman. Quickly she walked down the stairs. The house below her was silent. She knew that the elves were up and working in the kitchen, but it was so far removed from where she was that she felt entirely alone. Still feeling stifled and uncomfortable, like someone sucked all of the oxygen out of the house, she ventured out to the patio. The wind blowing across the gardens was soft and cool. She tugged her light sweater more tightly around herself. At the base of the steps she removed her shoes and left them on the bottom step.

Crossing the garden, she reveled in the feeling of the cool grass against her feet. Her connection to the green turf felt like the only thing holding her to the earth and keeping her from spinning off into nothingness. On a small hill beneath a tree, she finally lowered herself down. Laying on her back she would be able to watch the sun rise and listen to the silence of the waking world. She hoped that it might be enough of a reminder that the would keep on spinning inspite of her actions good or bad. In the distance she heard a bird singing signaling the impending dawn. She allowed her mind to wander through the events of the last day. She had greatly enjoyed the course of learning Snape set out for her. Gathering knowledge and skill had always been her driving force. But using it in such a way, knowing it was what she was trained for. She couldn’t wrap her mind around how she felt about it. She didn’t even know if she felt like herself. A firm feminine voice broke her internal dialogue,

“Miss Black, I believe we have discussed my feelings on your muggle clothing.”

Hermione turned her head to look at the blonde witch. She looked radiant in the first light of morning even so simply dressed.

“That was quite the memorable conversation, Cissa. I, however, was not expecting company this morning.”

“Do you wish me to go?”

“I never wish you to go, Narcissa.”

The blonde took the statement as an invitation, settling down next to the brunette and well within her personal space.

“What are you doing up so early, Hermione?”

The question was gently probing and lacked any of the blonde’s usual bite. The concern in her voice was palpable.

“I couldn’t sleep. I was trying to find a place I could breathe,” she answered honestly.

“Bella was being suffocating?” Narcissa asked clearly confused. Since the soulmates met they’d been virtually inseparable and when they were forced apart, both were rather difficult to deal with.

“No. I presume she is still resting comfortably in bed. I didn’t want to wake her.”

“Ah. And did she not take care of you last night?”

Hermione chuckled at the concern. “Oh, please don’t worry about that. I don’t imagine we will ever have a problem with that. I just… it…”

“Your mind still isn’t at ease?”

“Not at all. Sounds like you’ve dealt with this before.”

“A time or two. I cared for both Lucius and Bella on their first raids. And of course I spent much of the night with Draco.”

“Is he alright,” she asked guiltily. She hadn’t given much thought to how he might be doing.

“He will be fine, just as you will be in time.”

“If you were up all night, then why are you here now?”

“Even with so many people in my home, I like to know when others are up and about. And seeing you without my sister, I just had a feeling that all was not well. So tell me, little witch, what is on your mind?”

Hermione felt a shift at the last question. Narcissa rarely used Bella’s favorite vaguely derogatory nickname for her unless she was slipping into a dominant role. When she didn’t immediately answer, the blonde arched her eyebrow in a rather intimidating manner.

"I hurt people yesterday. I don't know how I can look myself in the mirror. I deserve to be punished. I shouldn't even be allowed a wand." She paused to suppress the tears that threatened to fall. "They were innocents. How are we any better than the Order?"

"Oh Hermione, you are old enough to know that there is no ‘better.’ There is only power and protecting those around you. We did what we needed to in order to destabilize the Ministry. And we did it with the littlest bloodshed possible."

"But I enjoyed it. It was an incredible rush...." She blushed furiously. She was truly embarrassed of how she behaved with her wife the night before.

"Battle lust is well documented in many cultures. You are aware that it is partially biological?”

Hermione shook her head no.

“It is in part your body’s reaction to a real threat. And out of fear of death and death of our kind, your desires come to the surface in order to promote procreation. In ancient times it was a very important mechanism to ensure the survival of entire communities.”

“I am not sure if that makes me feel better,” she said honestly.

“It’s true. It is how Draco was conceived. And perhaps someday when you are ready, it will be how you find yourself with child.” The blonde smiled triumphantly, knowing she’d just shaken the girl out of her melancholy.

“I don’t even know where to begin with all of that. First of all, being reminded that you birthed Draco is…”

“A bit awkward considering that you find sitting uncomfortable due to our last encounter.”

“That almost covers how I am feeling,” she said quietly.

“One of the drawbacks of you being raised by muggles,” the blonde breathed out with obvious frustration. “Your intimate relationship with me is not unusual for the ancient families. It is what binds us together. Especially in times of conflict it is important that loyalty is more encompassing than just between spouses.”

“I was not trying to say that I have regrets, Cissy.” She turned on her side and snuggled against her, resting her head on her shoulder for emphasis. Slender hands pulled her close, holding her affectionately. “But can we please not talk about me being pregnant for a few more years or maybe ever?”

The older witch chuckled. “Of course my dear, but you know you won’t be able to deny Bella if she asks.”

“I suppose I wouldn’t be able to, but don’t put ideas in her head.”

“Behave and perhaps I won’t.”

Hermione batted playfully at the blonde.

"But in all seriousness, You mustn't latch on to the negativity or you will not survive the war. And I promise you there will be peace."

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because we need hope.”

Hermione nodded. “How do I live with myself?”

“Just rest in the love you have. There is little else in life that truly matters.”

They laid quietly as the sun rose in the sky. The world transformed before their eyes. The night of blue and greys faded to pinks and yellows as the earth woke up. Hermione could breath again finally and sunk sleepily into the embrace. Neither heard Bellatrix approach them.

“So this is where you two ran off to. It’s not everyday I wake up alone and find sleeping beauties in the garden.”

“I’m sorry, Bella,” Hermione said sleepily. “I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t want to wake you.”

The dark witch sat next to her and began stroking her head soothingly. “Shush. I’m not upset. You are simply being a member of this family. It has long been Cissa’s job to care for new Death Eaters after the first raid. She has a gift.”

The blonde blushed at the compliment from her older sister. “We’ve probably dallied enough. Let’s go have breakfast and I need to check on Draco.”

Hermione stretched the stiffness from her limbs and took the hand her wife offered to lift her up. The dark witch didn’t releases the hand, instead pulled the young woman closer to her as they walked behind the blonde. She pressed a gentle kiss against the bare temple and said,

“Are you coping better now?”

“I think I am. I just…. I’m still so conflicted over my place in the war.”

“I can’t say that I am surprised. You were quite innocent when we met.”

“I was, but so much has changed. Not that I regret it, of course.”

“Of course,” Bella echoed laughing. “I’m quite proud of how you handled yourself. I watch you and can’t believe I am worthy to be bonded to you.”

“Nor would I be much without you, my love.”

“Together, then?”

“Always.”

“Come, little witch. Let’s go eat with our family, and then there is much to do. I believe you promised the Dark Lord a demonstration.”

“I’ll need a bit of help obtaining props.”

“I suspected as much. Lucius has many connections.”

The witches walked hand in hand into the house. They were met with the warmth of the Malfoy men and the all encompassing love of the family they were building. There was no denying that the day before changed them all deeply, but the silent agreement was to press on.

Chapter Text

“Madame Black, may I ask what in the world you were thinking when you volunteered us for this?”

“Well, Professor Snape, I suppose I was thinking that I for one don’t like losing,” Hermione retorted. “And that as one of the most skilled wizards alive that you could handle it. If I was wrong I would be happy to ask my wife instead."

"No you little chit," he continued, trying not to break out of his very serious voice. "I am more than capable, I just was impressed that you were so enthusiastic after your last plan."

"It worked almost how I planned it."

"And garnered Narcissa's ire for most of the summer. Are you hoping for a repeat?"

"I dare say she is not," Lucius said striding into the room. "I've procured a few metal wands and a manual as requested."

"Hermione, you suggested this without knowing how to use the blasted things?"

The young witch grinned mischievously. "Afraid of learning something new? Anyways, they are fairly simple mechanically. And I'm not opposed to having a bit of fun."

"This is why I love my sister-in-law," Lucius beamed. "So, Hermione where should we begin?"

"Bearing in mind that I do not wish to upset the lady of the house again, shall we adjourn to the garden?"

With overly dramatic flair and a slight bow, Snape ushered her out the door. Once in the garden and conveniently out of the sightlines of any spouses, the three huddled closely together to look at the manual. Hermione openly chuckled at the confusion of her companions. It was so easy for her to forget how very little most wizards knew about the muggle world. She left them pouring over the book and picked up the piece of hardware. It was not something that she’d ever thought she would hold in her hand, but it had been the right move. She cautiously followed the steps she had read, preparing the weapon.

“Do you think you have sorted it,” Snape asked.

“I believe so. If you wouldn’t mind conjuring something for me to shoot at. It will be a very small projectile that moves very quickly. At the root of what we need to do is find a spell that stops or diverts it and teach the Death Eaters to read the signs of someone firing it, much like they do when deflecting spells while dueling.”

“So practically everything.”

“Sounds splendid. Can I fire it?” Lucius interjected with childlike glee.


 

The three experimented throughout the afternoon with varying levels of success. By dinnertime, they were dirty, sweaty and had various cuts and bruises. However, they walked triumphantly back into the Manor having achieved their goals. Now Lucius and Severus would only have to train the others. They were in the process of sneaking up the stairs to get ready for dinner when Narcissa intercepted them.

“What the bloody hell have you three been up to?” She said looking from one to the other.

“Well,” Hermione started guiltily.

“There you are my darling wife,” Lucius interrupted, sweeping the witch into his arms. He spun her, dancing to music only he could hear. “We were just doing as the Dark Lord requested. Nothing overly dangerous.”

She suppressed a smile. “Well you all look quite a state. Straight upstairs with you all. None of you will be dining at my table looking like that.”

Severus slipped quickly out of the room before more could be said. Hermione attempted to do the same, but a slender hand caught the crook of her elbow, stopping her in her tracks. Lucius walked past her and shrugged, as if to say “I gave it my best try.”

Narcissa slipped her arm around the girl’s trim waist, pulling her close before walking towards the staircase. “Hermione, you must be more cautious. You don’t need to put yourself intentionally in danger by volunteering for such things. There will be enough without such foolishness.”

“I don’t mean to be foolish,” she said with a shade of irritation in her voice. “I simply am trying to make sure we win and keep my family safe. You know I cannot stand idly if I can prevent Lucius or Draco or Bella from getting hurt. I have already lost enough,” she finished heatedly. She attempted to pull away, but was spun into a close embrace.

“I did not mean to offend you, little witch. I only want you safe and happy. I can’t tell you how much you worry me.”

“I won’t take unnecessary risks, Cissy. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to hurt you that way.” Hoping to fully convey her sincerity she kissed each cheek before pressing a chaste kiss to her lips.

“Well well, don’t I just have the most splendid timing. I dare say most don’t open their bedroom door to such a lovely view.”

“Hush, Bella. Your wife is filthy and banged up again. See to it that she is presentable for dinner.” Narcissa placed a final lingering kiss on Hermione’s dirty cheek and returned downstairs.


 

After dinner the inner circle retired to the library at the request of their Lord. After they’d all settled in he began their meeting.

“Hermione, Severus has told me of the success of your project. I am greatly pleased. Diversifying the skills of my fighters is always a good thing. But we now must discuss some of the other priorities for the coming school year. Naturally Severus will be our primary form of communication. He has been promoted to Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.”

The group clapped politely at the news and Hermione attempted to hide a smirk at the irony.

“We have a very important task to be carried out and it is extremely delicate. I’ve spent the past few weeks debating who would be given the responsibility. As you all know, Dumbledore is becoming an increasingly large problem. He has recently discovered a secret that could undo all of my hard work. I am not yet ready to have such information known widely. It is imperative that we silence him permanently. Severus’ place as a double agent is too valuable to sacrifice at this time. Hermione, you will already have a target on your back. The announcement of your marriage will run in the Prophet the day before you board the train for Hogwarts. It will be enough to make the Order very nervous. I want them on edge but I do not desire for them to take any direct action against you.”

The young witch nodded. She knew that her marital and house status were likely to up the amount of harassment she had to deal with. She was somewhat relieved that the focus wouldn’t be quite so strongly on her.

“So Draco, my dear boy, you will have the honor of this task. And it is two fold. We need to stop the old wizard and I want a way to get the Death Eaters into Hogwarts at will. On the second task, I expect you will need Hermione’s help. Getting into the grounds in times like these will be very difficult. There are a number of options, but I will leave you all to discuss it.”

He smiled somewhat menacingly and rose and left the room without another word.

Hermione looked around the room. Lucius was beaming with pride. This particular situation was one he had always dreamt of. He wanted wealth and fame, especially for his only son. Beneath Narcissa’s cold expression, Hermione sensed she was fuming. The assignment was the opposite of what she was hoping for. It put Draco and Hermione directly in the line of fire. Draco looked severe. He was still struggling to deal with his internal change. Taking another life had stripped away his innocence in a way that he couldn’t have imagined. And the mark was a constant reminder of what he had done. His mother worked tirelessly to help him accept his actions and the possible ones he might have to take in the future. Hermione deeply sighed, prompting Bella to place an arm over her shoulder, pulling her close.

“Well,” Lucius said breaking the heavy silence. “I think we ought to continue this conversation over drinks.” He snapped his fingers, beckoning an elf. He requested wine and firewhiskey. With a mischievous glint in his eye, he attempted to talk everyone into the stronger drink with great success. Only Narcissa drank the wine. They drank and talked, bouncing possible ideas. Of course during their time at Hogwarts Narcissa and Bellatrix had spent a fair amount of time attempting to find ways to leave the castle when they wished. And during the first war there was a great deal of effort to find convert ways to transport people and objects without ministry interference.

“I still think that it is a valuable asset,” the dark witch began. “We know that there is a vanishing cabinet in the Room of Requirement. Can you imagine what use we could make of it?” The last sentence was leveled at her wife, who drew in a sharp breath in response.

“I agree,” Snape echoed. “There may be times when I am unable to be the messenger and this seems to give us an additional avenue. Between young Mister Malfoy and young Madame Black, I would imaged that even one in disrepair can be mended.”

Lucius clapped his hands together in enthusiasm. “Wonderful. It is settled. This is a wonderful first step.”

“I still want insurance,” Narcissa said, interrupting the flow of happy conversation.

“What exactly do you want,” Bella said quickly.

“I want you,” she said looking at Severus, “to swear that you will help if Draco cannot complete the task and that you will keep both Draco and Hermione safe.”

“I would never let any harm come to them,” he responded. And it was the truth. He never had much family. The addition of Hermione to the Black-Malfoy clan and his place in the wedding gave him something that he always wanted. He would die before losing something so precious.

“Then take the unbreakable vow,” the blonde witch pressed on.

“Very well. Pull out your wand. No, Bella not you. You’ve had too much firewhiskey. Hermione would you do the honors?”

She smiled and nodded, pulling out her wand. After Narcissa and Severus joined their right hands she touched the tip of her wand. A slender tendril of fire wrapped around their wrists as the blonde began to speak.

"Will you, Severus, watch over my son, Draco, as he attempts to fulfill the Dark Lord's wishes?"

"I will."

"And will you, to the best of your ability, protect him from harm?"

"I will."

"And should it prove necessary... if it seems Draco will fail... will you carry out the deed that the Dark Lord has ordered Draco to perform?"

"I will."

As the thin strips of fire disappeared, Narcissa leaned back looking much more at ease as the others continued to drink around her. She watched as the Malfoy men engaged in some mysterious male ritual that seemed to include firewhiskey and dark arts trivia. She smiled at the men laughing together, their bond had grown so much over the last few years. It was beautiful to witness. She felt the couch beside her depress, and felt the warmth of a body press against her. Without turning her head, the wafting lavender scent could only belong to the young witch. In her tipsy state Hermione snuggled against, her offering comfort. She intertwined their fingers, playing with the rings on her fingers. She kissed the brown curls affectionately while watching the other four play rowdily. She whispered quietly,

“I am so glad you found us, Hermione.”

“I’m glad to have finally come home.”

 

 

Chapter Text

“Do you have any idea how much I don’t want to go, Bella?”

“To Diagon Alley? Or back to school? I know you don’t like shopping much, but today is necessary. You need new robes.”

“I meant to school, but you are right the only shopping I enjoy involves books.”

The dark witch walked into her space, pulling her close. “I don’t want to be apart either. But these are critical times. We will get through the next few months. You will be very busy, between coursework, being prefect, and the tasks from the Dark Lord. The time will fly. And I do still expect your academic achievement.”

“Oh,” she said playfully, running her hands up and down her wife’s curves, ”and what exactly do you plan on doing if I don’t.” Her lips were immediately caught in a demanding kiss.

“I have my ways, little witch. I am one of the most feared Death Eaters after all.”

“Hmm,” Hermione hummed, sounding unconvinced.

“You actually fear punishment from Narcissa more than me!?” she exclaimed in a complicated mix of amusement and upset.

The young witch flushed a bright red. Ironically, her wife was right. Narcissa’s approach left quite the impression, and she had yet to cross her wife. Based only on the look she was getting, she was fairly certain she didn’t want to.

“But I love you, Bella. That has to count for something.” She brought their fingers together, intentionally making their magic spark and crackle. “And that is something I can only do with you.”

“No one else would get away with that.”

“I know. I’m quite special, you know.”

“I am aware, you cheeky witch. Now get your things together, we are leaving soon.”

“Yes, dear.” Her sassy response earned her a swat on the ass, but she just grinned in return.


 

“Right then,” Lucius began. “Now that we are all here. We have a couple of tasks today. Obviously Draco and Hermione need to gather their things for school. There are a number of green and silver items we need to obtain.” He paused to look proudly at his sister-in-law. “But also, a trip to Borgin and Burkes is in order.” He nodded meaningfully at Draco who looked very serious. Since taking the mark, he had become more withdrawn and morose. Hermione looked on with concern. While she understood that he had been tasked with a gruesome task, she felt it was her duty to make sure that he survived it. She was at peace that she could and would cast the killing curse herself if it protected him from severe emotional harm. After all, her wife would love her all the same.

“Travel safely. I will see you all when you return,” he said cheerfully. “Oh and Hermione, enjoy your coming out. The entire wizarding world knows you are a Black now, the Prophet ran the announcement this morning.”

Hermione smiled at Bella, she still couldn’t quite comprehend that she belonged to the powerful beautiful witch. It was nice to no longer have to hide. She would be a different kind of target now, but at least the lines were clearly drawn. There was no denying where her allegiances lay.

One by one the four stepped into the fireplace and out again at the Leaky Cauldron. Before they exited the pub, Bellatrix pulled Hermione close. She carried with her vague concern that an unwise member of the Order might attempt to harm her young wife after their announcement. There were a number of cruel and unforgivable curses she was ready to use should the need arise. Stepping out into the sunlight, the Alley was much quieter than any of them had ever seen it. Evidence of the night time activities of the Death Eaters was apparent in the destroyed wand shop and ice cream parlour.

They started their shopping trip at Madame Malkin’s. The teenager’s wandered aimlessly through the shop as the Black sisters made selections for them to try on. The uniforms, robes and other assorted items were more adult looking than what they’d previously worn. Narcissa dressed Draco in a striking black suit that made him look remarkably like his father and Bellatrix selected a corseted dress for her lover. The two burst out laughing at the sight of each other, but agreed after they calmed down how good they looked.

Laughing happily the group walked to the Obscurus bookstore, unaware of the eyes that followed every move they made. Draco and Hermione quickly identified and selected the books they would need for the year. The young witch then slipped away to browse the hundreds of other titles. She would need something to read on the train to distract her from the suffocating sadness of leaving her recently gained family. She settled on a new arthimancy book. Others might think it dull, but it was complex enough to keep her mind moving and away from the sadness.

“Come, love. We have more to do. We can’t dally in the bookstore all day,” the dark witch said teasingly.

“Cissa, your cruel sister is dragging me away from my only happiness,” she said dramatically, looking to the blonde for support.

The blue eyed witch stepped towards her in false sympathy, taking her hand and whispering dramatically, “You do know you married the darkest witch of our age. She is bound to be a bit cruel from time to time.”

Hermione smiled at the interaction and walked arm in arm with Narcissa to the front of the store where Draco was waiting.

“Are you all finally ready?” He said, clearly anxious to get going.

“We are,” his mother responded. “Be nice son, or I will be forced to baby you in public,” she threatened teasingly.

“Come, Cissy. Before you give your son a panic,” Bellatrix said, leading the group back into the alleyway. “This way. Come quickly. No need to get any more attention than we have already.” She nodded subtly over her left shoulder. A few moments later, Hermione turned her head pretending to look at something. Peaking out from behind the destroyed wand store were three heads. She immediately recognized the the forms of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Lavender Brown. A gentle tugging on her hand propelled her forward and she was once again in her wife’s arms, walking quickly. They paused in front of the Borgin and Burke’s sign, before ducking inside.

“This is a Dark Arts store. You’ve never been in one, have you,” her wife asked quietly.

“No, I haven’t.”

“Well don’t touch anything,” the dark witch responded, chuckling darkly.

Their conversation was broken off by Draco’s formal tone. “Mr. Borgin, how nice to see you again.”

“Mr. Malfoy, Madame Malfoy, Madames Black. What an honor. What can I do for you all today?”

“We are here on official business,” the young blonde continued.

“It would be my pleasure to help you, Mr. Malfoy.”

“Good. I want a few dark objects, but first I would like to see your vanishing cabinet.”

“I’m rather sorry to say that it hasn’t worked in years.”

“Of that I am aware,” Draco continued. “But you will help me fix that. I intend to repair its sister.”

The wizard stepped backwards as though shocked at what he was hearing.

“And you will help me. My aunt,” he said gesturing towards Bellatrix who was openly toying with her wand, “will be checking in on your progress.”

Borgin shuddered. Having Bellatrix Black as a frequent guest was more than enough to make him nervous.

“Do we have ourselves an understanding?”

“We do, Mr. Malfoy. I will begin the work immediately.”

“Good. Madame Black will inform you of the schedule as we go. Now, there are a few more items I am interested in.”


 

Draco walked out of the shop with his head held high for the first time in several days.

“You did very well, Draco,” Bella cooed.

“Thank you, Auntie.”

“Cissa, your son is growing into quite the man. So like his father,” the dark witch continued, speaking now to her sister. “He will make your family proud.”

Narcissa attempted to smile and agree. She was proud of her son, but couldn't help mourning the end of his innocence. Her sweet blonde haired blue eyed baby was gone, replaced by an angsty teen. She had faith that at the end of it all, he would be a good man. A man who loved his family and friends and would protect them with his very life. But it was a reminder of her failure as a parent that his generation had to face the oncoming war.

As though sensing the blonde’s internal conflict, Hermione slipped her hand into the crook of Narcissa’s elbow, walking close to her side. She placed a soft kiss to her temple in an attempt to promise that it would all be ok in the end. They proceeded like this, arm in arm, to the Leaky Cauldron, breaking apart only to floo back to the Manor. Before Bella allowed Hermione into the fireplace, she captured her in a possessive kiss. The witnesses at the pub would be enough to confirm the article in the paper, not to mention she couldn’t resist the opportunity to mark her territory.

“Into the fireplace quickly, love. Or I will be forced to take you right here,” the dark witch whispered into her ear.

The young witch flushed bright red but complied, stepping into the green flames and disappearing.

Chapter Text

Dinner with her family had quickly become one of her favorite things over the summer. And it would be one of the things she would miss most. The very talented group often descended into giggles. She believed it was a coping mechanism for the ever mounting stress, but she’d never experienced such joy as in the presence of the group.

“Can you believe that summer is already over?” Lucius asked the group.

“It’s been the fastest summer of my life,” Draco said more brightly than he had spoken in days.

“We have been rather busy,” Bella said giving her wife a salacious look.

“I think its been rather transformative,” Severus echoed, looking as though he was considering smiling.

“A toast then, to a summer well spent, a family united at last and to our successes in the upcoming year,” the blonde witch said, raising her glass. Smiles and lightly clinking glass circled the table.

“I for one can’t believe we are about to go back to Hogwarts,” Hermione said, finally entering the conversation.

“And as a Slytherin, no less,” her wife responded proudly.

“It’s about bloody time,” Draco said. “We will have much more fun this year. Not having to sneak around to be together. And you will love our house, more importantly they will worship the ground you walk on. The owls I’ve received since the wedding indicate that taming the most dangerous witch of our time has done wonders for your reputation.”

“Have I tamed you?” she asked of her wife in a falsely sweet tone.

“If anything, she has corrupted you,” Narcissa interjected, pointedly raising her eyebrows.

“Helpful, sister. And as much as this is titillating, this is my last night with my wife for far too long. So you must excuse us. We will see you in the morning to go to King’s Cross.” A self satisfied smirk graced her face as a deep red flush spread across her wife’s face and down her neck. Hermione stood, knowing that if she didn’t move quickly enough she would be drug unceremoniously. All day she felt the growing weight of her wife’s arousal. She’d been mentally taking bets as to how long the dark witch would be able to hold out. She struggled to focus during dinner, because of the burning desire coursing through her body. She was equal parts relieved and mortified that it was brought up during dinner.

They made it out of the dinning room without incident, but not up the stairs before Bellatrix wrapped her arms around her and apparated them away. They landed in the entranceway of Timoleague.

“Oh Bella,” she said pulling her into a passionate kiss. Hermione allowed the woman to slowly lead her up the stairs to their room. Not wanting to waste a single moment together, the dark witch paused every few steps to place open-mouthed kisses across her wife’s face and neck. By the time they reached the door, the young witch was breathless from the gentle affection. When the large wooden door swung open, her mouth dropped open again earning a trademark smirk from her wife.

“When did you do this?” the brunette asked quietly while she took in the sight before her.

“I have my ways, little witch,” Bellatrix responded, walking up behind and running her hands down the girl’s sides.

Hundreds of candles lit the room in a soft glow. They were accompanied by the warm light of the fireplace. Hermione had forgotten how much she missed the castle, what with all the chaos of the summer. But her wife, who provided so much stability and love, had not. There were no words for what she felt for Bella, there never had been. What she hadn’t counted on was the witch’s consistent ability to surprise her with shows of affection. Firm but gentle hands began to undress the young witch as she turned around to face her. The young witch moved to help her, but her hands were stilled.

“Let me. I want to love you fully.”

The simple statements made her swoon. She was addicted to the possessive and protective part of her wife. She couldn’t imagine ever getting enough of the curly haired witch. The practiced hands had her perfectly naked in a matter of moments. She was so overwhelmed by the feeling of the soft hands roaming freely over her form that she could think of nothing she wanted more than more of the woman’s skin against hers. She closed her eyes and moaned at the soft treatment. Her eyes snapped open again at a sharp gasp from her wife.

Slowly she took in the bare skin that she loved so much. Everything about the curves of her body and the way she stood begged for Hermione to place hot kisses on every available surface. The dark witch cocked her head, grinning playfully.

“A bit anxious are we? And couldn’t manage to follow a single instruction?”

“I kept my hands to myself,” she said defiantly.

“You did, but you did not keep your magic to yourself.”

The girl’s eyes grew. “Oh my. I haven’t lost control of my magic in so long.”

“You must have wanted something rather badly. And what would that have been,” she said running her finger around an already hard nipple. The young body pressed hard into her trying to extract more contact. Soft lips pressed kisses along the older woman’s collarbone, licking at the hollow in her throat. She smiled when she heard the quiet moan slip out of her wife. Bella returned the favor by running her hands up to cup both breasts and tenderly kissing each one, eliciting a moan from the girl. She backed them to the bed, laying Hermione down gently and climbing between her legs. This was her last night with her wife and she was going to drink in each and every sound she could elicit.

She began gently kissing her hair and face determined to love all of her. The young witch was already writhing underneath her and on the verge of begging.

“Breathe, love. I am going to take my time tonight, but I assure you that you will be fully satisfied.”

Hermione whimpered but attempted to relax into the feather light touches. The soft lips were now making their way down her neck. They paused on her shoulder. Teeth sunk in sharply marking the perfectly bare skin, causing her to jerk up into the naked body. She would bare the mark for the coming week. The idea both thrilled her and made her sad. They would be apart for so long. Before she could be distracted by that line of thought, a skilled tongue lapped playfully at her nipple before sucking on it hard. She grasped hard at her lover’s back, running her nails down the fair skin.

“Merlin, you are distracting, little witch.”

“With what you are doing, I just need to hold onto something.”

“Oh, by all means. I would never discourage you,” she said as she returned to her task. She was satisfied when both hard peaks strained against her mouth in turn. She systematically kissed down both arms, sucking slender digits into her mouth, hard. The young witch groaned and tried in vain to flip them over. Changing course, she dipped her tongue teasingly into the belly button before trailing down towards her center. Her wife smelled divine. This was the moment she’d been longing for all day, and from the look of it so had Hermione. She pushed the legs open a bit more, allowing herself to settle between them. She started with a simple kiss at the apex, before reverently running her tongue the length of the wetness. She strove to memorize every inch while driving her wife into madness.

“Oh gods. Bella, please. I need…” Her statement was cut off by a loud satisfied moan caused by two fingers entering her and immediately hitting home. She grasped at the strong shoulders, bringing them more solidly into her. She was flirting with the edge of climax until the fingers in her twisted causing her to convulse in pleasure. She attempted to breath deeply, but was so overcome by the experience that hot tears ran down her face.

“No no no, my love,” the dark witch cooed. “No need for tears. Please don’t cry.” She captured the salty liquid, brushing it away lovingly.

“I don’t know how I will live without you, Bella.”

“My darling, you are never without me. We share one soul. Wherever you are, I am with you just as I have always been. Were you not with me those many years in Azkaban? Did you not offer me the only comfort you could even without knowing who I was?”

“I loved you even then,” she said still fighting back tears.

“Even when I was unlovable. So please, do not think that these few months will make us grow apart. We will speak frequently and I will see you anytime I can. And then we will never have to be apart. I swear it.”

“Thank you for bringing me home, Bella.”

“I wanted us to make memories tonight in the place that will become where we raise our family and where all of our happiest memories are held.”

Hermione found no language to convey how much she wanted what the witch was offering, so she offered her lips instead.

“I want you, but you were spectacular. I am not sure I can move,” she said hoping her small white lie would be ignored.

“Then we can sleep, my love.”

“Oh no. No, I don’t want to sleep. I want this,” she said, slipping her hand against her wife’s wet center. “Right here.” She brought those same fingers up to her mouth, sucking them steadily while looking Bella in the eye.

The witch’s eyes darkened and she paused in awe of her lover. Needy hands propelled her upward and the soft brown eyes seemed to beg for her agreement. She was too lost in desire to consider telling the young witch no. She settled with her knees on either side of the beautiful face enjoying the view of the girl so willingly and passionately beneath her. Hermione’s hands never stilled running over her body until they settled on her thighs, pulling her down. She gasped as the hot mouth made contact with her core. She placed her hands on the headboard for balance and so she could look down at her wife. The young witch’s eyes were closed and her brow furled in concentration. Every ounce of her being was being poured into the movement of her tongue. It’s efficient transference of passion made it very difficult to hold her hips still. So don’t try, her wife’s playful voice sounded in her head. She began grinding with less and less control. The soft tongue entering her in such an intimate and loving manner caused her climax to crash down around her. She struggled to stay upright and return her breathing to normal. As she laid down next to the witch, she watched enraptured as she cleaned her face with her fingers, sucking each one as she went. Bella could imagine nothing sexier than her wife’s love of her.

“I don’t want to sleep, because when I wake I know we have to part,” Hermione said finally.

“Then let’s stay up all night, love. I want to hear about all of your dreams for the time when this war is won.”

Chapter Text

Morning came far too soon for the witches snuggled beneath the light blankets. In the hour of first light they fell silent. Their sleep addled minds ceased to form full sentences so they lay naked and intertwined, enjoying their last few moments of alone time. Bella aimlessly twirled a finger through Hermione's hair as the young witch traced patterns on the dark witch’s stomach. They had touched and savored until their bodies could take no more.

“We should get back to the Manor,” the older witch said, finally breaking the silence.

“I know. Are you sure I have to go back?”

“I’m afraid you do. But I will write you frequently and I will see you at every break. I promise,” she said before kissing her again.

They dressed in silence, though the dark witch openly gawked at every bit of bare skin she could. Hermione stepped into her wife’s arms, resting her head tiredly on her shoulder and closed her eyes waiting for the familiar tug at her navel.

They landed in their room at the Manor and quickly entered the shower, mostly because the older witch refused to send her wife on a train smelling like sex. They lovingly but efficiently helped each other bathe. Their bodies were too exhausted for more, no matter how much desire remained between them. Hermione dried her body quickly and wrapped the towel around her hair, walking back into the room to get dressed. She jumped at the sound of a familiar voice.

“Well, this is a sight I could get used to in the morning,” the blonde witch said eyeing the nude body in front of her.

“Cissy,” the dark witch said joining them in slightly more clothing, “how many times to I have to remind you that she married me.”

“None my dear sister, but there are certain… benefits to being a part of the Black family.”

Hermione blushed crimson while quickly getting into her underwear and muggle jeans. Narcissa saw them and sighed. “It’s the only day of the year I get to wear them, and honestly they aren’t that bad.”

The blonde turned her head as though she smelled something unsavory. Hermione walked into her space grabbed the woman’s hands and placed them on her ass.

“Tell me,” she whispered in her ear, “that you don’t like the way that feels.” The witch didn’t respond aside from lightly squeezing. Hermione pulled back slightly and kissed her cheek.

“Your wife has gotten rather brave since the wedding,” the blonde said in mock coldness.

“She has, hasn’t she? I must say that I rather like it.”

“Bella, can I borrow one of your sweaters?”

“For the next 9 months or so, yes I suppose. Shall I choose one for you, little witch,” she asked affectionately. She knew that the girl was seriously struggling with the idea of being apart, but such a simple heart filled request made the dark witch feel more loved than she could have ever imagined. She never thought that she would have a someone so in love with her that they simply wanted one of her possessions to keep with them. She dug quickly through her drawers, pulling out a slightly worn black sweater and handing it over. She watched enraptured as fingertips lightly outlined the weave before brown eyes met hers.

“Thank you,” the witch said pulling it on over her head.

“Did you come here for a purpose, Cissy? Or was it just to flirt with my wife?” Bellatrix asked in relatively good humor.

“I did actually, thank you for reminding me,” she responded sarcastically. She turned to the young witch, who was watching the sibling relationship play out. “I brought you a couple of small tokens as a congratulations for joining our house. This is one of Bella’s ties and my scarf. I thought that they would be nice reminders of those who love you when you are away.”

“This is… Cissy. I don’t know what to say.”

The blonde gathered her in her arms for a warm embrace. “You don’t have to say anything. Your family is so proud of you, and though we may not physically be together you are greatly loved.” She pulled back slightly to look at the girl before lightly brushing their lips together while holding her chin in place. “Do try to behave, little witch. I expect you to come home without my son bleeding out on my floor, do we have an understanding?”

“I will try, Cissy.”

“Don’t behave too much, Hermione,” her wife chimed in. “I assure you there is far more fun and trouble to be found in the dungeons than there ever was in that tower. Enjoy your time as prefect. It’s a lovely amount of power.”

“You two had best finish getting ready. We need to leave in 30 minutes time,” the blonde said and strode out the room.

Bella walked behind her wife, slipping her arms around her waist. “I remember this tie. I got it for my 7th year. I always managed to destroy my school clothes by the end of the year, but this one escaped that fate. I always suspected Cissy stole this one, but never had any proof. But don’t worry I will make sure that she pays for the transgression.”

“I’ll wear it everyday.”

“It’s a bit outdated.”

“Like its previous owner,” the young witch said teasingly.

“Watch yourself, little witch.”

“It looks just like a school tie, Bella. I will wear it because it is yours and I will miss you.”

“And I will miss you. Finish getting ready, darling. My sister will be anxious to leave.”


 

The trip to King’s Cross was animated. Lucius and Draco were intent on keeping Hermione’s mind off the separation. Bella held her wife’s hand tightly debating if she really was going to be able to let the girl leave after all. And Narcissa in her stoic way watched on in concern for them all.

They arrived at platform 9 ¾ with a few minutes to spare. Their trunks and owls had been delivered earlier by the elves. Hermione walked proudly, her arm resting in the crook of Bella’s elbow. She was ready for the whispers and stares. It was just a part of her new identity. And so long as it continued to include the loving witch and family, she was prepared to sacrifice her anonymity. Her wife seemed to bask in the limelight. For so long, the witch had been utterly alone and broken. Being talked about as the wedding of the year was a pleasant change. Not to mention she was proud to have claimed such a powerful witch as her own. Behind the attractive couple walked the Malfoy family with Draco in the middle. He wore one of the all black suits his mother picked out, looking very much his father’s heir. The young blonde was already in character. It was his job to out “moody” the Potter boy. He would attempt to draw the attention of the Golden Trio in order to keep Hermione out of the fray. The subtle increase in the darkness of their perception of him would be more than enough to keep them occupied for several months with their theories. Naturally, some of them might even become true depending on how much success the Slytherin teens had inside the walls of the castle.

The students around them started hugging their parents before streaming onto the train. Draco stiffly allowed his mother to kiss him, though his blue eyes sparkled with his deep affection for her. He heartily shook his father’s hand, who winked in understanding. They were proud to have raised him so well. He was a true Slytherin through and through. He would bear the deception better than most. Hermione, on the other hand, was wrapped in her lover’s arms and being thoroughly kissed on the platform for all to see. It was at once clear that the dark witch was marking young woman as her own, but also that the idea of parting made her feel desperate.

“Please do try to have a good year at school?”

“I will, of course, try. After all there are a few books in the library I haven’t read yet.”

“I have a hard time believing that, but I am certain determining which titles they might be will keep you busy for a while. Be successful in all you do, Hermione Black. I am proud of you and I love you so much.”

“I love you, Bella.”

“Remember what I said about keeping your grades up,” she said in a teasingly seductive tone.

“Oh, I will. I might even throw a test or two just to see what you might do.”

“Be safe, little witch.”

“You too.”

And with that Draco gently took her arm and led her onto the train. They settled into seats in one of the back cars that was already filled with other students from their house. Hermione watched as Draco happily greeted his friends. They all looked at her nervously at first, but relaxed after the blonde explained her change of house. She listened attentively as 4 of them tried to explain some of the legends and traditions of their house. A part of her was terribly excited to go back. She was like a phoenix rising from the ash. She felt reborn and ready to make a name for herself. She glanced out the window just as they were pulling away to see her witch with her hood up, watching her go. Hermione tried to keep her face under control, but she felt like she was drowning in sadness at being away from her lover. Her morose thoughts were broken by Draco loudly explaining to Blaise that it was unlikely he would return for his 7th year. Though he gave a handful of reasons, Hermione couldn’t help but smile at the possibility that this would be the last year of her separation from her soulmate.

Chapter Text

Part way through the trainride, Draco and Hermione were summoned to the front of the Hogwarts express to get their prefect assignments. Once given their instructions they changed into their school robes. The young witch took her time tying Bella’s green and silver silk tie around her neck before adding her prefect badge to her robes. She was unsure how she felt about the added responsibility, but was pleased with some of the benefits. She would be provided with slightly more private bathing and sleeping arrangements. Though her new room in the dungeons would no doubt be small, she was happy to have an area she could sufficiently ward to keep herself safe. And the access to the prefect bathroom was quite exciting. For the rest of the ride, she and Draco monitored the corridors of the train where most of the Slytherins were.

As the train pulled into the station at Hogwarts Draco looked meaningfully at Crabbe and Goyle, nodding. He leaned close to Hermione and spoke quietly,

“I have something to attend to. Go with Crabbe and Goyle. They will act as your bodyguards of sorts. While you are more than capable of defending yourself, our Lord doesn’t wish you to use defensive or offensive spells outside of the classroom. They will escort you to the Great Hall. I will catch up with you there.”

“Alright. I’ll see you there,” the young witch answered. She gathered her things and followed Crabbe from their car. Goyle walked behind her watching the crowd carefully. When they reached the carriages, they joined a group of Slytherins who were already chatting happily. Hermione said nothing, instead stared at the odd animals pulling the carriages. She’d read about thestrals, but had never been able to see them before. She pulled her robe more tightly around herself, feeling the weight of her part in the raid in London more sharply than before. She listened silently to the school gossip about who in her new house was snogging whom this week. The character of the Slytherins was quite different than the Ravenclaws. While she had enjoyed being surrounded by intellectual equals, they had nothing to compare to the sheer level of entertainment such a diverse group of personalities could have.

As the carriage pulled inside the iron rod gates they paused. Several cloaked men surrounded the vehicle and began magically searching. Professor Flitwick stepped up taking names and checking them out. He went quickly only have listening to the names, as he knew well the faces of the 6th years. When he finally got to Hermione, he immediately flipped to the back of his records looking for the m letter names.

“Hermione Black,” she said quietly but firmly.

“Oh right. Yes, of course, Miss Black.”

“It’s Madame, actually.”

“So it is. My apologies, Madame Black,” he said quickly with a shade of fear in his voice.

Hermione suppressed the urge to smirk. She knew it was somewhat cruel, but she enjoyed the reaction at her wife’s surname. With each passing day she seemed to grow more and more proud of her association with her witch. And the nervous tones with which most discussed Bellatrix reminded her of the powerful and attractive version of the woman she was just beginning to get to know.

They pulled up to the castle without further incident. The Slytherin boys practically fought one another to assist her in getting down from the carriage and then the entire group proceeded to form a ring around her as they walked into the castle. It was clear that the Dark Lord had spoken to the faithful about her protection. It seemed as though she might not get quite as much alone time as she was accustom to. As the group approached the Great Hall, a clear elderly voice called out.

“Miss MacCarthy, if I could please have a word,” Dumbledore said in his usual calm tone.

“Of course, Headmaster,” she answered automatically.

“Do not fear, Mr. Crabbe and Mr. Goyle. I will ensure she returns to you shortly and in one piece.” He led her a few meters away from the streams of students so they would be out of earshot. “Miss MacCarthy,” he began again.

“It’s Black now,” she said stiffly. It was unusual for the wizard to be uninformed from what she had been told, which made his current behavior rather suspect.

“Oh yes, of course. How could I have been so forgetful? You’ve married an old student of mine haven’t you? How is Bellatrix,” he asked casually.

“She is well. Thank you for asking.”

“I must ask you to very carefully consider your legacy, Hermione,” he said in an overly familiar way that made her skin crawl. “There are two sides to every situation, and a young witch like yourself must consider which is wrong and which is right. I know that you have been taken in by an incredibly charming group of people, but you must keep in mind what they are capable of, what they have done in the past, and what your obligation is to the rest of society.”

She stared at him stunned that this was a conversation they were having.

“And though you have some legal ties to them, you must know that not all is lost. It can be undone, you can be free again. I beg you to carefully consider your options,” he continued apparently unaware of her severe discomfort in the conversation. “And when you’ve reached a decision, please come to me. You have many skills and much to offer. I know that there are those of us who would know how best to help you use them and would treasure your participation.” He smiled at her warmly.

“Thank you, Headmaster. You’ve given me a great deal to think about.”

“I’m sure I have, Miss MacCarthy. And though I would prefer to be able to continue this conversation, I am afraid we have a feast to attend to. But I do so hope to see you another time.”

He extended his arm towards the door, giving her permission to go. She took it gratefully, rushing towards the Slytherin table. She easily spotted her blonde haired friend and the space next to him saved for her. She sat down next to him, finally letting the breath out that she had been holding.

“Where have you been,” he whispered urgently.

“Dumbledore detained me.”

“What could the old coot have possibly wanted.”

“It seems he wanted me to reconsider my allegiances. He kept referring to me as MacCarthy even after having been corrected and he gave me the usual choose your side wisely speech.”

“I had no idea he could be so daft.”

“I didn’t expect that my marriage would be ignored, but I didn’t think the attempts would be so obvious.”

“Are you going to tell your wife?”

“Yes. I was planning on writing tonight anyways. But now I most certainly will.”

Their heated but quiet conversation was interrupted by the beginning of the sorting ceremony. Hermione watched as the hat sorted the 1st years. She cheered for the Slytherins, but couldn’t help wondering what her life might have been like if she’d been properly sorted. She felt her eyes fill with tears. She took a deep breath knowing that line of thinking was purposeless. Though the beginning of her life had not been picture perfect, it had brought her to the Blacks and Malfoys. And with them she found more love and acceptance than she had ever hoped for. When at last all of the students were seated, the old wizard stood at the podium and launched into a speech. Much like the year before, it was thinly veiled Order propaganda. Hermione looked about the room wondering how many students in the other houses realized what was going on. It was clear from the looks of shock and anger at the Slytherin table, that her own housemates were well aware of what the headmaster was playing at. She grimaced as the Dark Lord was openly discussed in such a setting. While she had heard horror stories, in her experiences he had been nothing but kind. He even saved her life, though the Order would never consider giving him credit for selfless acts.

She was relieved when the speech finally ended and the food appeared. She caught Draco’s eyes briefly and it was clear that he wanted to talk with her about they had just heard. She nodded in agreement while serving herself dinner. The meal was pleasant. Draco and his friends were overwhelmingly kind and accepting of her. She had never enjoyed a start of term feast so much, but by the end was thoroughly exhausted from both the social interactions and the complete lack of sleep from the night before. She was relieved when she found out that she and Draco would start patrols the next night, as she was quite certain that in order to stay awake much longer she would have needed some sort of potion. Before they left the Great Hall, Severus made eye contact and smirked. She smiled brightly in return, before looking away. She would have to find time in the next few days to tell him about the confrontation, but simply seeing him was more comforting than she would have imagined.

Draco, Crabbe and Goyle led her to the Slytherin dormitories for the first time. The route was entirely different than that which led to Ravenclaw tower. There were a series of dark corridors that might have been creepy had they not been filled with the excited chatter of the returning students. She attempted to memorize the turns and wondered how long it would take her to really know where she was going. She was relieved when she was finally given directions to her room. Draco explained that his was exactly opposite on the boy’s side if she needed to find him. Noting her exhaustion, he told her goodnight and sent her off to bed.

Her room was small but warm in the candlelight. The furnishings in green and silver reminded her of the way that Bella decorated their room at the castle. All of her things were already in the room. She considered unpacking and getting a few of her things out. Before she got started, she laid down on the bed intending to stay for just a moment. She gently pulled the necklace from underneath her robes, running her fingers over the Black family crest. She fell asleep thinking of dark wind blown curls and brown thoughtful eyes.

Chapter Text

Hermione was drug from sleep by relentless scratching at her door. Sleepily she grabbed her wand and threw open her door wand raised. At first she was shocked at the lack of anything. In the very early hours of the morning the hallway and common room were clearly deserted. She jumped at the feeling of fur rubbing at her ankles. She looked down to see her familiar rubbing against her legs before pushing inside.

“Crooks, you nearly gave me a heart attack. Where have you been? Not to mention how did you get out?”

The large orange face turned up to look at her as if to say “Why wouldn’t I be out?” Unceremoniously, he dropped a folded piece of parchment on the floor before jumping onto the bed and curling up on her pillow.

“Wonderful,” she said mostly to herself. “I guess I am ready to get up then. And I cannot believe you are still bringing me treasures from outside.” She leaned down to sweep the piece of paper up into her hand. It was heavier than she expected. She turned it over curiously. In the process of doing so she caught a whiff of her wife’s magic. She inhaled deeply. It was such an intoxicating scent. Thoughtfully she twirled her wand in her hands deciding which spell Bella was most likely to have used. She finally settled on a simple revealing charm.

“Aparecium,” she whispered. The parchment unfolded in her hands and beautiful writing appeared.

My Dearest Hermione,

I cannot tell you how empty today was without you here. I cannot wait until writing letters such as these will be unnecessary and we will not have to be apart. I imagine that you meant to write me but likely fell asleep. I had business tonight, so Cissy was kind enough to make me a Pepper up. Now without you here, I am not sure I can sleep.

I got word that you had an interesting conversation. I expect a full description as soon as you have a free moment. Lucius took the liberty of training Crookshanks to take and retrieve letters from the owlery. Just cast a concealment charm on him before you let him out at night. Luc wanted me to tell you that you have the most charming and intellectual cat.

Little witch be good this year. I know you will do well. Know that you’ve taken half of my heart with you. Keep it safe.

All my love,

Bella

Tears slipped down her cheeks and she sat on the bed. She ran a hand over the cat’s head. Of course, he had a purpose. Bloody intelligent animal. She breathed deeply trying to calm herself. This was proving more difficult than she had anticipated. The bond with her wife was more powerful than she had realized. She hastily dried her tears. As early as it was she would have time to unpack and get ready before breakfast.


 

When Draco came down to walk to breakfast with her, Hermione was sitting in large leather arm chair reading a book.

“Good Morning, Madame Black. I must say you still look fetching in green.”

“And you, Mister Malfoy are a flatterer. Are you ready to go to breakfast?”

“I am. I thought you might want to be rather early today,” he said beckoning to Crabbe and Goyle to follow them. “What is on your schedule for today?”

“Ancient Runes, Defense Against the Dark Arts and Potions.”

“I have DADA and Potions with you,” he replied.

“That will be nice. I am hoping that Snape finds a reason to hold me back.”

“Yesterday still has you shaken?”

“It does. There was just something off. I can’t place my finger on it, but I think he will be able to.”

“I heard that we have potions with the Gryffindors.”

“That’s bloody typical,” she said sighing heavily. “What do you know about the new potions master?”

“Well from what my father said, he is the old potions master. He was brilliant, but they think he is going a bit senile.” He leaned closer to whisper in her ear. “He taught Our Lord when he was at Hogwarts.”

“Could his reappearance be a coincidence?”

“Doubtful. Dumbledore is clearly putting a plan in motion.”

“Then we will have to execute ours first.”

The blonde nodded solemnly as they sat down for breakfast. She had sat opposite of Draco, but facing towards the rest of the houses. She curiously watched the Potter boy boring holes in her friend’s back with his eyes. He barely broke eye contact until a girl next to him drove an elbow into his side hard. After they were being less conspicuously watched, breakfast went quickly. Hermione gathered her books, getting ready to leave.

“You have runes, right?” Hermione nodded. “Blaise and Pansy, you two have that lesson as well. Why don’t you all walk together?”

Blaise and Pansy nodded and smiled, but Hermione evaluated him. She was not accustomed to being bossed around by anyone except for her wife. And that was clearly different. With Bella, giving in was like freedom. She swallowed hard. It was clear that Draco was under orders. Until she clarified where they came from, she decided to not push back. She walked between the two Slytherins engaging in small talk.


 

Her first class was entirely uneventful. She hadn’t fully realized how far ahead she was in ancient runes. It seemed as though she might as well take her end of year exams. She walked with a different group of her housemates. She was happy to walk in and see Draco and his godfather already in the DADA classroom. She wanted to smile at the dark professor, but she would hate to do anything to damage his surly reputation. Throughout the hour she watched him teach. She already knew the curriculum backwards and forwards, but she couldn’t help but love the way he taught. She got so wrapped up in watching that she stopped listening.

“Madame Black, if you cannot pay attention in my class then perhaps you do not need to spend time with your friends during lunch. You will stay. Everyone else you are dismissed.”

Draco leaned towards her as he packed his things.

“They’ll,” he began.

“Be waiting. Yes, so I gathered. I am not sure how long I will be.”

“You never can tell with Snape’s detentions,” he said with a wink.

She didn’t bother to pack her things, instead waiting patiently until all of the other students filed out of the class. She heard the latch of the door and his murmured wards. She waited patiently until he spoke first, ensuring that the protections were fully in place.

“Well well well, Hermione. Already in trouble on the first day. What will your spouse say?”

“Oh I think she will be rather amused.”

“Ah yes. She does have quite a soft spot for you. Then I suppose it is the Blonde you fear.”

“Who among us doesn’t?”

She laughed quietly, because it was quite true. The outside world had no idea, but within the ranks of the Death Eaters, Narcissa was often more feared than her sister.

He sat down next to her. “How are you doing?”

“It’s… an adjustment. I didn’t anticipate the challenges.”

“Or the attention of the Headmaster, I imagine.”

“No. I really hadn’t planned on that part.”

“What did he want to discuss?”

“Oh you know,” she said flippantly. “He wanted me to reconsider my side in the war; to leave my wife and family to join him.”

“Ah yes. That talk. One I am quite familiar with. It got so persistent that eventually the Dark Lord told me to slowly give in. It’s how I became the Order’s biggest traitor.”

“Please tell me that isn’t what he plans for me.”

“No,” he said tapping her hand gently. “He didn’t expect that Dumbledore would be so forward so soon. I will, of course, be discussing this at the next meeting I attend.”

“Will you let me write Bella first? I don’t even want to imagine what her reaction might be if she found out from you.”

He chuckled darkly. “You haven’t angered me quite enough to warrant such a thing. Write your wife tonight. It will not be a problem. How is everything else?”

“The Slytherins are being quite nice. I imagine I will get used to the constant entourage, though the need to protect me is something laughable.”

“Never underestimate the Order brats. The protection is there for a reason. And you will get used to it.”

“Why didn’t anyone tell me before I got back? Even Bella didn’t.”

“She didn’t know. Narcissa was certain that if the two of you heard that you would bully your way out of it. She wanted you safe.”

“Of course she did,” Hermione said defeatedly. Now she knew that she couldn’t fight the protection detail without angering the blonde, something that she was not yet quite ready to do.

“I would feed you lunch, but I am afraid that your… friends are still waiting outside. Oh, and just to make this convincing I would like a parchment on advanced nonverbal defensive spells.”

“Does this mean I am exempted from the lower level work?”

“It would be a waste of time. I will return your course of study with your first parchment.”

“Thank you, Severus. Time will go faster if I am challenged.”

“Don’t tempt me or the workload will steadily grow.”

She leaned up and kissed his cheek. “Thank you.”

“Off you go, Madame Black.”

She lowered his wards easily and with a smirk over her shoulder before stepping out into the corridor. Crabbe and Goyle smiled, walking her to the Great Hall. Emotionally she knew she had to give in to the idea of being surrounded, and it would be much easier if she made friends with her protectors. She started trying to ask them about their classes. That conversation got her nowhere. So she tried quidditch. She threw out a few key words she learned from her time around the Malfoy men. With that they were off to the races. They paused occasionally to make sure she was still listening. She nodded at the appropriate times, which kept them happy well into lunch.

Chapter Text

Potions had become one of her favorite lessons since she met the Malfoys. While she realized that Draco had been given the task to get close to her and gain her trust, they had grown to be very close friends. She now even looked back fondly at the things her friends did in preparation of introducing her to Bella. She settled into a station next to her blonde friend. Draco had practically had to rip Crabbe and Goyle away from her. The conversation about quidditch clearly endeared her to them. She watched the new old potion’s professor move about the room. While he might be quite proficient, she missed having Draco’s godfather in his place.

“Ah, here are my Slytherin students. With that blonde hair, you must be Mister Malfoy. I am pleased to meet you. Tell me, my boy, are you as good at potions as your father?”

“It is one of my better subjects, sir,” he answered carefully.

“Very good. And you must be Madame Black, if what I read in the Prophet is correct.”

“I am,” she answered quietly.

“Your wife was one of my favorites. She is quite the talented witch, but then again from what I have heard your skill rivals hers.”

“I aspire to be at her level. I am quite honored by the association, sir.”

“As we all are,” he said before wandering away towards the Gryffindors.

“Is he one of ours,” she asked Draco quietly.

“Not entirely. From what I understand he is on the fence. I wonder if he can be won over.”

“Well we are quite the charming pair, Malfoy. Shall I mention it when I write my wife?”

“Not a bad idea. It might balance out everything else you have to tell her.”

“True she is going to be furious.”

“You are planning on writing my mum about the constant company aren’t you?”

“I haven’t decided. I was considering thanking her.”

“First of all you are a liar. I know you hate it. And you are a suck up. But she will love it.”

Playfully she hit his shoulder. Their banter was interrupted by Slughorn gathering the class around the demo station.

“We will be working on a number of advanced potions this year. Like this one. Tell me, who can identify what this is?” He was met by “first day silence.” “Madame Black?”

Hermione stepped up to the steaming cauldron cautiously and breathed in. “This is amortentia, the most powerful love potion in the world. It's rumored to smell differently to each person according to what attracts them. For example, I smell pine, spices…” She trailed off, stepping away from the cauldron quickly. She smelled her wife. She fought back tears, grateful when the lesson went on around her. Annoyingly the Potter boy appeared to be far more accomplished at potions than she had remembered. He had made a perfect potion on the first day, earning himself a vial of liquid luck. It was not something she was particularly glad he had in his possession. His luck had the potential to put her friends and family in serious danger. Her hand twitched against her wand. She wondered if she would be able to keep up her practice of her dueling spells. She couldn’t use the vast majority in her repertoire, because they were far too advanced for the class she would be in. Though Severus’ reaction might be hilarious, it was in direct contradiction to her orders for the year.

When class finally ended, she walked with her new “friends” back to the dungeon. She had time before dinner. She knew most of her housemates would be relaxing in the common room until then. With a simple disillusionment spell on the parchment she would be able to write her lover without prying eyes. She had already concluded that it would be in her best interest to blend in with the Slytherins, not to mention it would be a great deal less lonely. She had been writing this letter in her head all day, and was thankful that the words came easily.

My Darling Bella,

There are no words to express how much I miss you. I would list out specifically what I miss, but I fear neither of us have time at the present time. The first day of classes was fine. The subject material this year is so rudimentary I worry I will be bored. Severus is doing what he can, but I don’t even have access to advanced books like I do at home with you. Though, I find you far more compelling than even the best book.

Did Cissy manage to mention to you that she has an entourage of Slytherins following me around? I’ve decided to learn to adjust to it in an effort not to stand out. I suppose after what I am about to tell you that you won’t be upset that they are. The first night just before the feast I was detained by a certain elderly wizard. Aside from refusing to call me by my married name, he wanted me to consider betraying my family. It was in plain sight of much of the student body, though none of them would have know what was going on. I am not entirely sure how to navigate this situation. I know that Severus will be bringing it up at the next meeting. I will take no action until you give me instructions. And of course, I will tell you if anything else happens.

Draco and I did, however, stumble across something interesting today. It seems that a certain Gryffindor is rather intent on winning over the potion’s professor. While we are not sure exactly why, his behavior was fairly over the top about it. And considering the professor’s students over the years, it is entirely possible there is more to the story. If it pleases our Lord, perhaps there might be something in this arena that I might be able to help with this year. Oh, and Slughorn spoke mostly highly of you. Seems you weren’t such a terror after all.

It is odd knowing how long it will be until I get to see you. Will you be able to be at the first Hogsmeade weekend? If you can't, I will understand. But Merlin, I miss you. Please be safe and know that I love you.

Forever yours,

Hermione

She quietly stared at the ink until it dried. She carefully schooled her facial expressions to keep from crying. Being away from her wife made her an emotional mess. She missed the connection and unconditional understanding. She hoped it would get better after an adjustment period. She sighed quietly, moving a clean piece of parchment on top.

Dearest Narcissa,

It seems I ought to thank you for protecting me even when we are miles apart. I am adjusting to the constant company. For the most part my housemates are kind and interesting people. I will learn to trust and enjoy them. I know you arranged this both for my protection and to force me into social interaction within our circle. I am truly grateful. I know there will come a time that I am expected to lead and these friendships will be important.

Having our family scattered is far more difficult that I would have ever imagined. I acclimated so quickly to the love and fun of being connected to you all. I look forward to when this is all over and we can all come home. I think of you and Lucius often. Stay safe.

My love,

Hermione

Quietly she rose to her feet in an attempt not to draw attention to herself. She walked into her room where she proceeded to seal the letters physically and then magically. She put particularly strong wards on them. Few would be able to open them, much less read them. And anyone attempting who was not her soul mate ran a high risk of their magic destroying them instead of revealing them. Satisfied with her work, she straightened her tie in preparation for dinner. Writing her lover calmed her more than she expected and after the meal she had an evening of homework. She looked forward to the distraction if nothing else. A knock at her door signaled that it was time to go. Her group of friends waited with smirks, which she found inviting in ways she could not explain.

Chapter Text

The weeks of September and early October passed fairly quickly for Hermione. She occupied her time with her prefect duties, school work, extra assignments from Severus and getting to know her housemates. The class work was largely boring. She attempted to avoid both Dumbledore and McGonagall as much as possible, but she felt eyes on her almost all the time. Her protection detail seemed to always close ranks whenever she tensed at the sensation of probing eyes. Her only respite was in the DADA classroom and the dungeons. Her wife wrote her daily. The content varied from tactical updates to long erotic letters that left Hermione wet, craving, and needy. She could do nothing to sufficiently satisfy herself and quickly learned not to even try. Instead she longed for the first Hogsmeade visit of the term. The dark witch promised her the entire day would be spent in bed. The waiting was torturous. Narcissa, too, wrote frequently. Though she had to endure a certain level of teasing, the letters kept her company. The blonde clearly believed it was her job to remind Hermione why she must press on. She missed the youngest Black sister. It was different than the pain from being separated from her soulmate, but it pulled at her heart all the same.

At her sister-in-law’s insistence, Hermione agreed to be more social. It was difficult, but she wasn’t sure Narcissa really understood. The Malfoys brought out the very best in her. To her, they were open, loving, and non-judgemental. No one, much less a group, had ever treated her with such consideration and adoration. She hadn’t trusted it at first, but after meeting Bella she couldn’t help but give in to them. She still struggled with the idea that all of the green and silver clad teenagers wanted to be her friend. She had yet to find any evidence that they were anything but genuine. And yet she found herself pulling on a heavy cloak and the scarf that once belonged to the blonde witch. She carefully tucked her wand into her sleeve before opening the door. As expected a group of girls led by Pansey was waiting for her. Usually she had a group of both genders, but today was quidditch tryouts. So the boys that had become constant companions were already down at the field. It was clear from the body language of the girls, that they considered themselves to be no less capable of guarding one of the members of the Dark Lord’s inner circle.

After the brief walk to the quidditch pitch and up into the stands, Hermione settled in on the bench. She toyed with the end of the scarf as she looked down to find Draco. Initially he hadn’t wanted to participate, due to what he deemed to be “more important matters.” Eventually, after many promises, Hermione convinced him to play again. They were attempting to make the Gryffindors suspicious and curious about him. It was important for him to maintain his aura of power. That and she would really like to see her wife’s nephew wipe the floor with the Potter brat.

His platinum hair made him easy to spot. Much to her delight he seemed to be joking and laughing with his usual group of friends. Though it was normal procedure for them to all try out again, she suspected that it wouldn’t be an issue considering they all made the team last year. Not to mention she had witnessed first hand how much Draco’s flying improved over the summer. He had always been good, but the arrival of the Death Eaters and their eagerness to teach him gave him quite the boost. She watched with vague interest as the team kicked off from the ground and began flying.

The girls sitting around her chatted animatedly about which of the boys they liked and who they in turn might fancy. She didn’t interact with them, but absentmindedly stroked her necklace. She was proud of the Black family crest that hung around her neck, it was a tangible reminder of to whom she belonged. She was happy during the afterglow of her wedding night when she noticed that her wedding band matched it perfectly. She never removed either. The ring moved freely around her finger, she discovered as she frequently twirled it when class material got boring. The necklace however could still only be removed by someone with Black blood. And though her marriage gave her certain rights over people with that blood running through their veins, the charm on the necklace was not one of them. Secretly she hoped that her wife specifically ensured she could not. While she loved every part of Bellatrix, there was little that could be sexier than when she was possessive.

She held the medallion tightly in her hand. Her connection to her wife was powerful, but she had never before attempted to communicate at such a distance. She closed her eyes to silently centered her magic on her love for her wife and te necklace in her hand. She hoped it might work somewhat like a protean charm. Bella almost always worn a similar necklace and it was Hermione's hope that she might have managed to warm the metal against her lovers skin. And even more that she might be able to feel some semblance of the love the young witch had for her. After a few minutes she released te necklace and her magic. She didn't want to worry Bella with intensity.

She stared at the scrimmage wondering what exactly was going on and philosophically why such a game had appeal to the masses. She tried not to think of the distance between her and the one thing she wanted or the hopelessness of not being able to use their magical connection. She watched as Draco managed to capture the snitch. The girls around her erupted into cheers. He clearly wouldn't have a hard time finding someone to date this year if he so chose.

She followed the group as they descended to go congratulate those who made the team. Halfway down the stairs she froze. The metal around her neck and ring finger became pleasantly warm and she felt filled up with Bella's love. She could smell pine and cinnamon. It was like her wife's magic wrapped around her. It was so astoundingly pleasant that it stole her breath as well as caused her stomach to clench in hope of pleasure. She jumped when a hesitant hand touched her shoulder and a tentative voice asked if she was ok. She nodded as much as she could and forced her legs to start moving again. The familiar feeling of adoration mixed painfully with the loneliness of her current situation.

She was grateful when she reached the grass. Draco immediately set down his broom and ran over to her, scooping her up to spin her around. She couldn’t help but burst out in laughter.

“Congratulations, Draco. But I am not certain that was necessary.”

“Oh, I assure you it was. I haven’t heard you laugh in far too long. And we have no guests within sight lines at the moment.”

“I do believe you can put me down now,” she said in a falsely annoyed tone.

“Very well, your majesty. So what did you think of tryouts.”

“They were lovely.”

“You weren’t even slightly paying attention were you.”

“I might have been a bit distracted.”

“With what,” he asked clearly exasperated. “You promised not to bring a book. My mother will not be pleased.”

“Why does everyone threaten to tattle on me to Cissy?”

“Because she is the only one you seem to fear.”

“Right. Well I suppose that does make sense, but I am not that afraid.”

“Keep telling yourself that.”

“Do you want to know what I was doing or not?”

“Of course I do. Please tell me, Hermione, what were you doing while not watching my tryouts.”

“Strictly speaking I was watching. I just was also experimenting with my magic. It seems that I can reach my wife even from here.”

“You can what?”

“I was able to make her necklace and ring warm, by holding my own. And I suspect I was able to make her feel my emotions at the time.”

“How do you know?”

“On my way down the stairs she figured out how to do it back. It was so intense I could even smell her magic.”

“You know I love you, but I am not certain that I really need to know anything about the intensity between you and my aunt.”

“Goes with the territory, I am afraid. You really should have considered that before you agreed to help your dear mother play match maker.”

“And yet, I would still not take it back.”

She looked at him sincerely, breaking with their playful banter. She kissed him affectionately on the cheek. “I will always be in your debt.”

“Good! Then you would be more than happy to spend the afternoon working with me.”

“What a lovely transition that was. What is it that you need help with, Draco?”

“I have a … project it is time to begin work on. I believe your skills would be useful.”

“Then you have my undivided attention.”

“Tell me the truth,” he said venturing back into the realm of playful, “how far ahead are you?”

“Only until next week. And this, my friend, is why I work so far ahead. So that I have time to go gallivanting off on your special project.”

Chapter Text

Hermione followed Draco through the castle and up to the seventh floor. She was in awe of the room of requirement. It was stacked floor to ceiling with magical objects that she could only imagine what they were used for.

"I only bring you to the best places," he said in the trademark Malfoy sneer.

"This is amazing. What are all of these things."

He shrugged. "Honestly I don't know. I am sure some of them are utterly useless, but this. This is what we are here for," he said gesturing to a large triangular metal cabinet.

"It's the one that matches the one in Borgin and Burkes," she said reverently running a hand down it.

"It is. They are tricky bastards. I decided to start with something simple." He produced an apple from the inner pocket of his robe. "Eventually we should be able to get the other Death Eaters in. But I thought we would start with something we couldn't kill."

"That is an excellent idea, because if something happened to my wife I would be incredibly upset."

"I am well aware. I don't wish to upset my mother either. She is no less frightening when she has given birth to you."

"I have no doubt."

"Someday you will have to tell me what she did to earn such fear from you," he said teasingly.

"That is something we will literally never discuss. You have been raised in pureblooded society. I am certain you can hazard a guess. I will not be breaking her confidence."

"Ah, you have certainly learned quickly. She will be pleased to know you take her so seriously."

Hermione shook her head at his teasing. "You haven't even mentioned what my wife's reaction might be."

"Yes, my dear aunt," he said placing the apple into the cabinet, "she is quite the witch as well." He muttered a spell and stood back. He waited a few minutes and opened the door. The apple sat just where it had before. "This is why I needed you. I cannot get anything to happen."

"How do I operate it. Perhaps I can give it a go," she said as soothingly as she could.

"Place the apple inside and close it. The spell is Harmonia Necetere Passus."

Hermione did as he said but with the same result. "Have you tried a mending charm?"

"All of the ones I could think of."

"Sounds like we are going to need to do a bit of research. I am happy to tackle the library bit to see what I can find there. I think it is time for you to write Mr. Borgin for instructions. I can ask Bella to put a little extra pressure on him if you like."

"I think all of that sounds reasonable. I have been trying for weeks."

"I will ask Bella tomorrow."

"Oh that's right! Are you excited for the first Hogsmeade visit?"

"I am completely overwhelmed. I can't imagine that I will be able to sleep at all. I will have to get some extra books from the library tonight."

"Then I will imagine you will be up early. Please don't leave the common room alone and go. I will get up early. My mother will kill us both if you leave the castle alone."

"Understood. They will let us leave the castle at 8 am. Can you or whomever be ready to go at 7:30?"

"It will no doubt be me. I can't ask the others."

"I very much appreciate your sacrifice."

"I'm only doing it because you have become increasingly grumpy."

She smacked him lightly on the arm. "I can not help you if you prefer."

He smiled over his shoulders as he gathered his things. He was enjoying getting her riled up. "Go on to the library then. They will not be open after dinner."

"Are you allowing me to go unaccompanied?" She gasped mockingly at him.

"Just this once, but I swear to Merlin if anything happens I won't allow you out of my sight for the rest of the school year."

"Understood. I will be mindful. See you at dinner."

He nodded as she left the room. She walked quickly to the library. It was so odd to be allowed to go anywhere on her own. The corridors were largely deserted, after all there weren’t many students going to the library on a Friday afternoon. She spent her first fifteen minutes gathering a large number of texts. As usual she would spend the next hour narrowing down to texts that would be worth carrying back to her room. She jumped when she heard the old large doors creak open. Something was not right. The air felt… wrong. Summoning more magic than she had in many weeks, she scattered the books she had just gathered onto random shelves. She pulled a large number of herbology texts magically and set them down quietly opening them to random pages. She summoned parchment from her bag and charmed it to look half filled out. She took a deep breath and started to take in as much information as she could in the moments while footsteps seemed to be approaching.

“Miss Granger, what a pleasant surprise,” a lilting scottish voice said breaking the tense silence.

“Hello, Professor,” she said quietly but respectfully.

“It pleases me that with all of the recent… changes in your life, that you are still as studious as ever.”

“There could never be anything more important than my education,” she answered as neutrally as she could manage. She had not wanted to be so close to the woman who had so unfairly changed the course of her young life. And she had done a brilliant job of doing so thus far.

“And what is it that has you working so hard on a Friday afternoon?”

“Herbology, Professor. It’s the subject I have to work the hardest at. I just don’t have a green thumb.” She surprised herself that she had just told the truth. Of course, she didn’t tell the whole truth. She had other things that were more important to her than plants, other talents that she was more suited to explore. There were people that were very good with plants, and she was happy to let them.

The older witch turned the parchment Hermione was working on to read the fabricated notes. The young witch was simultaneously grateful that her magic was so strong and that she was so quick.

“Ah Shrivelfig. Not the most interesting subjects, but I am pleased that you are working so diligently on the basics. You know you do have the potential to become an accomplished witch. You simply need the right influences.”

Hermione open and closed her mouth a few times struggling to find words to express herself.

“I may be an old woman, Miss Granger, but I am not a fool.” The older witch leaned in. Hermione suspected it was meant to be comforting, but it came across as extremely threatening. “I know the kind of company you have been keeping. And I must warn you, not everyone will be as forgiving as I am. I know that you are just a teenager who has been shown affection for the first time in her life. It’s seductive, love that is so freely given. But don’t be naive, my dear.” She paused in her speech to run a hand down the young cheek and cup her chin so that their eyes met. A shiver ran through the young body, one which the head of the Gryffindor house misinterpreted as pleasure when it was in fact disgust. The older witch lightly kissed the corner of her mouth. “There are others, just as powerful and talented who would love you just as much. You just have to open your eyes to see it.”

Hermione wasn’t sure what the correct reaction was to such a proposition. Not to mention they were alone together, and the Dark Lord had been so clear about keeping her powers a secret. She had never felt so defenceless. Not to mention confused. On the surface it seemed as though the professor was coming on to her. Finally when she spoke it was nothing more than a whisper.

“All I want out of this year is to pass my O.W.L.s.”

“And I want that for you too. But please do me a favor, think about what I’ve said. Then when you have had time to process, please come to see me. Promise me.”

“Yes, Professor.”

“That’s a good girl. Now take a few minutes to clean up this mess. Dinner will start soon and no doubt your friends will be missing you.”

“Yes, Professor.”

“Good Evening, Miss Granger.”

“Good Evening, Professor.”

As soon as she heard the latch on the library door click shut, she magically reshelved every book, gathered her things and ran to the dungeons. She barely made it to the toilet before she started vomiting. As she emptied her stomach, she could no longer hold back the tears. She cried for the parents she lost, for the pain of not knowing who she was and for the ridiculous separation from the only person that makes her feel better.

A warm hand threaded through her hair. She heard Pansy tell another girl to go get Draco and Snape.

“It’s ok, Hermione. You are safe here,” the young Slytherin said soothingly. “Your family will be here soon. Just breathe.” A tissue was pressed into her hands. Shakily she leaned into the friendly embrace. All she could think about was how badly she needed her wife.

“We came as quickly as we could, Miss Parkinson,” the deep voice of the DADA professor sounded. “What’s the problem….” He trailed off as the crumpled form of Hermione came into view. “I see. Thank you. We can take it from here. Draco, please help Madame Black to her feet.”

Between the two of them, they lifted her and moved her back into the privacy of her room. Severus had her cleaned and into bedclothes magically. The two men moved her into bed. She summoned her wife's sweater into her hands and tugged it on. The scent and warmth made her feel slightly more human. She told them every little detail of the interaction with the transfiguration professor. She shuddered at the worst parts, wishing that she could forget the touch of the other woman and how dirty it made her feel. The two men soothed her the best that they could. They had food brought to her. They ate quietly and chatted until she could no longer keep her eyes open. They left with the promise that they would retrieve her early in the morning and personally escort her into town and her wife’s arms.

Chapter Text

The morning of the first Hogsmeade visit of the school year was bright and crisp, not unlike the morning one year ago. She got up at the first light of dawn. She hadn’t slept well after the events of the night before. But there was no way that she would be showing up to see her wife looking less than perfect. As she sunk into a warm bath, she thought of how she felt last year. She remembered how she dressed like she was putting on armor and avoided people like her life depended on it. There would certainly be no getting around the swarm of Slytherins escorting her today. She chuckled to herself at the memory of nearly running into Narcissa. The blonde must have been mortified. Someday many years in the future, she could see them sitting in front of a fire and laughing about it. That day had been terrifying, but it was the first time she felt the peace of Bella’s presence. It was a memory that she would always treasure.

She hauled herself out of the bath. She was still incredibly out of sorts after the encounter the night before. She was torn between hoping that her wife knew and hoping she would never find out. She pulled on the only muggle clothes she’d been allowed to keep. She hoped it would help her blend in a bit with her classmates. She dressed warmly partially for the weather and partially to feel covered up. She took the time to charm her hair into behaving, applied makeup and perfume, yet she was still a full quarter hour early. Normally she would have tried to sit still and read a book, but she had no self control left. She paced in front of the fireplace anxiously. She listened carefully for other signs of life. For a dungeon it certainly was silent. With a creak, Draco at last emerged.

"Madame Black, why I am not surprised you are early."

"I need to see her, Draco," she said in a hushed urgent tone.

"I know you do. I expect everyone down in the next two minutes. We won't slow you down."

"Thank you."

"Now get your face under control. We are trying to keep this latest development quiet. Looking like a wreck won't help. And can you imagine your wife's reaction?"

Hermione shuddered. She was genuinely concerned with what that reaction might be. He walked over and placed a hand on her shoulder.

"Take a couple of deep breaths. You look beautiful. She will be so happy to see you. Don't worry so much. Let Severus and I take care of the rest."

"Ok. And your mother?"

"I will handle my mother."

"Brave man."

"That I am," he said falsely puffing out his chest.

Feet running up stairs and loud talking interrupted their conversation. They were greeted by their casually dressed housemates. The group was buzzing with excitement. Hermione scarcely thought they would notice any mood she was in.

"Are you ready to go," Crabbe asked her politely.

"I think I am. Thank you."

"This way then," he said ushering the group out the door with the young witch directly in the center. They walked quickly through the castle pausing only when they were being checked out before they were allowed to walk into town. Filch, as usual, paid little attention to the Slytherins as they were his clear favorites. Hermione was particularly concerned at the unusual appearance of the head of Gryffindor house. She could feel the piercing eyes on her, but the young witch looked resolutely straight ahead.

When they finally crossed outside of the school boundaries, she let out a breath. She felt instantly lighter. Thankfully the group seemed to be experiencing the same excitement and their pace picked up considerably. They reached the town with chilled flushed faces. Draco subtly nodded to the group, sending them all on their way.

"Come, your wife is waiting."

Hermione was so excited that she couldn't formulate a response. She happily followed him into a familiar inn. The blonde knocked on the door of the room Hermione briefly inhabited, before her lover swept her away. Her breath caught in her throat as the door immediately flew open. In the doorframe stood her Bella. She was every bit as beautiful as she remembered. Her curls were wild and her eyes were lit with excitement. The young witch squeaked as she was swept into her arms and the door was closed behind them. She heard a muffled,

“Well then. Have a good time. I’ll be back in time for dinner so that we can be to the castle before it is dark.” There was a pregnant pause. “Ok, great. I will take that as a yes.”

Hermione might have laughed had she understood any of those words, but she was focused on the devious lips on her own. Her wife had yet to speak a single word, having opted to pin her against the wall by the door instead. While normally she would have enjoyed such behavior, the last 24 hours left her needing a bit more control. With a pulse of magic she shoved Bella towards the bed. She released only when the back of her lover’s knees hit the bed, sending her sprawling backwards.

“Hermione,” Bella said slowly, taking in the view. Her wife was ravishing. While her sister had no appreciation for muggle style, as she took in the skinny jeans she could see no fault. They did hug her wife’s curves deliciously. And the way she was stalking towards the bed was, well it had been a long couple of months. She leaned back willingly as the girl climbed on top of her. “This is a pleasant surprise. But tell me what has spurned such action?”

“I will tell you, but not now. For now I need to have you, all of you. Please?”

The whispered question was the only hint of insecurity in the young witch’s powerful facade. Bella didn’t answer, but pushed her body up to capture her favorite lips again. Hermione’s reaction to the affirmation was explosive. Her kisses became bruising and domineering. While they both knew that magical removal of clothing was well within the young witch’s abilities, the tactile experience of doing it manually was intoxicating. Possessive hands untied the corset, revealing pale skin. Nimbly the digits grasped at her neck and collarbone as lips descended her sternum tracing once familiar paths. The dark witch anchored one hand in the soft curls and the other on a shoulder. Nails bit into her skin blurring pain with desire.

“Oh gods, were these past two months not torture enough?”

“Are you giving in so quickly, Bella?”

“That is exactly what I am doing.”

“What is it that you are asking for?” she pressed on coyly. She pushed the skirts up from the hips to only smirk at the lack of undergarments. She pressed a light teasing kiss to the apex of the woman’s thighs.

“You. The only thing I’ve ever needed. Take me, Hermione.”

The young witch pushed two fingers deep into her wife and was amazed at how incredibly ready for her she was.

“I see that you have been thinking about me, my love. Tell me, Bellatrix, have you been thinking of me?”

The dark witch moaned in response. “You know I have been. Please, please Hermione.”

Taking some mercy, the young witch set a steady hard pace. Bella threw her head back screaming her pleas in response. Unable to resist the scent of her wife any longer, she leaned down to take a long lick. The hips beneath her pushed persistently upwards. She teased and tasted until the woman beneath her was desperate. Unexpectedly, Hermione sucked the bundle of nerves into her mouth, running her tongue around it. She bit down lightly. The witch moaned clearly on the edge. Teeth closed more harshly, flinging the dark witch into release.

Hermione climbed up the woman, laying her clothed body against the still hot skin. She laid her head on the rapidly rising and falling chest.

“That was quite a performance, little witch. Have something to prove just then?”

She nodded into the soft skin.

“Still not ready to talk about it yet?”

The young witch didn’t respond, running her fingers over bare skin.

“You know I have ways, little witch, of making you talk.”

Bella reversed their positions with practiced ease.

“Please, Bella. I need to feel you. I’ve thought about this incessantly.”

“What is it precisely that you have been thinking about,” the dark witch asked, dancing her fingers down a cheek while vanishing clothing. She had always been rather fond of doing things magically.

“That,” Hermione moaned at the full skin to skin contact.

“Use your words, darling. Don’t you remember? You started this fun little game. So little witch what have you been thinking about?”

“Your hands, all over me. Handling like I am yours.”

“You are mine,” the hovering witch growled, tweaking already hard nipples.

“And your mouth on my neck.”

The dark witch obeyed the suggestion knowing full well that it would be the last one she received. She snaked a hand between their bodies, finding her wife nearing over sensitization. She slipped in her fingers, pressing firmly against the spot sure to unravel the woman beneath her.

“Look at me, Hermione.”

Hazel eyes snapped open, though didn’t entirely focus.

“You are the other half of me. It doesn’t matter how far apart we are. We belong together. You are safe now. Give yourself over to me.”

A half sob half moan erupted from the girl as her muscles contracted hard around her wife’s hand. Bella captured the rest of the sounds in a thorough kiss. Breaking apart would usually result in Hermione gulping down air and trying to calm her breathing. But the dam of emotions she had been holding back since the encounter in the library broke. Large silent tears ran down her face and she attempted to hide in the curtain of curly hair. Bella quickly wrapped her in a tight embrace cooing softly. She let her lover calm down before asking,

“Whats going on, little witch? I know I am good, but that reaction is a bit strong.”

Hermione smiled briefly. “It’s been a really long couple of months.”

“Yes it has. Makes me question how we ever survived before. Has school been that bad?”

“It’s not the classes themselves. I am not having any trouble there aside from remembering to restrain myself. But the social pressure has been oppressive.”

“I know Dumbledore can be annoying, but just ignore him.”

“It’s not him, well… it’s not just him that I am worried about.”

“What do you mean? Why didn’t you write me?” The growing alarm in the dark witch’s voice was evident.

“I would have,” she answered petting her wife gently. “But there wasn’t time. It happened yesterday. There wouldn’t have been time for an owl, and I’d rather tell you in person.”

Bella’s entire body tensed ready for a fight.

“I was working with Draco to find a way to complete his task for the Dark Lord. So naturally I was in the…”

“Library,” the older witch said finishing her sentence while grinning cheekily.

“Yes, but my research was interrupted by McGonagall.”

“What did the old hag want,” she asked, voice darkening with anger.

“She wanted to know if Miss Granger was aware of the reputation she was acquiring by certain associations. She pretty much said that your love for me isn’t real, that this is just some elaborate seduction for power.”

“That bitch…”

“I’m not done, Bella. She kissed me. It wasn’t dead on, but close enough. I spent the rest of the night sick. Draco and Severus can attest to that. They were the ones finally able to get me into bed.”

“I will hex her into oblivion,” she said starting to get out of the bed.

“Please don’t leave me, Bella. We can be at war any other time, but please I need today.”

“She can’t have you. I won’t have the one good thing in my life taken away.”

“My love, look at me.” She waited patiently until the charcoal eyes found her own. “You are right. She can’t have me. Our souls are bound. And I wouldn’t choose anyone else even if I could. You are it for me, Bellatrix Black.”

The dark witch cut off any further discussion at the moment with a solid kiss, delaying the realities of their situation, even if only for a few hours.

Chapter Text

Bella’s languid kisses turned passionate and she channeled her frustrations at their situation into several rounds of creative lovemaking. She did finally let the young woman rest slumped, sweaty, and spent against her. She ran her fingers soothingly through her wife’s hair just enjoying the proximity. The formal bonding of their souls made it much more difficult to be apart than she had imagined. She pressed her lips against the moist temple. The young woman sighed against her neck happily. The dark witch closed her eyes absorbing the moment and the smell of the soft curls.

A sudden swirl of color had her reaching for her wand, which she promptly set back down when blonde hair came into view.

“Narcissa! How in Merlin’s name did you get past my warding?”

“Bella, I am your sister,” she replied slowly as if speaking to a rather dull child. “I happen to know your favorite spells as well as my own.”

The dark witch rolled her eyes. “Then perhaps I should have asked why you got past my warding?”

The blonde sat primly on the end of the bed seemingly oblivious to the very nude witches below the covers. “I was just having lunch with my son, before he had to go back to the castle for a few hours. I was hearing all about his classwork, thank you for your help,” she said looking at Hermione. “But it was the discussion of yesterday afternoon that caught my attention.”

The young witch blushed at the transition and sat up clutching a blanket to defend herself.

 

“Cissy…”

“Don’t Cissy me, young lady. I thought that we were clear on this point.”

The brunette searched the pale face opposite her, anger thinly veiled the hurt and fear. A calming hand on her lower back from her wife was all the permission she needed. She started again, reaching out to touch the blonde.

“Cissa, I am safe and ok now.”

“It was not what we agreed to, Hermione,” she gritted out. “You were to stay safe. You were to let me provide you protection. You were to obey.” Tears of frustration and fear ran freely down her face. She clasped her hands tightly to hide how badly they were shaking.

The young witch cupped the face as she climbed to sit on her lap seemingly unaware of her nudity. Affectionately, she kissed the tears away. She ran her hands through the long straight hair sensually touching the bare neck. She sighed when the cool hands skimmed around her waist and held her close.

“I am fairly dreadful at obeying,” she confessed quietly, running a finger playfully across the a bare clavicle.

“You truly are.”

“Fortunately,” Bella said moving behind Narcissa and slipping her arms around her sister,“she is a powerful and clever witch. And I think, just this once that having McGonagall kiss her was punishment enough.”

“That does sound decidedly terrible,” the blonde responded.

Hermione watched as the blue eyes appraised her. When Narcissa touched her face softly, she let her eyes drift closed. She could feel her wife’s hands between their bodies, and being held by her family again was amazing. She breathed in deeply, erasing the months that kept them apart.

“Perhaps I can be lenient just this once, Miss Granger.”

“Please,” she gasped at the intentionally cruel choice of names. “Please, Cissa. I’m not her.”

“Then who are you, little witch,” the dark witch purred as she moved her hands over the blonde’s body.

The young witch opened her eyes to be met with two set of eyes. She looked between the two, settling on the blue as she answered. “I am Hermione Black. I am the daughter of Cormac and Eleanor MacCarthy. I am the wife and soulmate of Bellatrix Black.”

“That’s right, little witch,” the blonde answered. “You are a Black, which means you belong to us.” She punctuated her sentence by pulling on the necklace that hung around the olive neck, pressing their lips together. When she eventually released them, her sister leaned forward to claim her wife before moving on to the blonde.

“Hermione,” Bella purred. “You should apologize to Narcissa. After all, she has been working very hard from a distance to make sure that you stay safe.” The dark witch implanted several salacious images of the things they could do together to the blonde in the young witch’s mind.

“Mmm, yes. I think you are right. Narcissa, do you think I owe you one?” she asked releasing the ties of the beautiful dress.

“I think that it could not hurt your case, Madame Black.”

“I would hate to hurt my case,” she replied cheekily as she stood up, pulling the blonde up so she could finish undressing her. Over the slender shoulder, she watched her still very naked and very sexy wife crawl to the edge of the bed. Together they lowered the cloth to the ground. Hermione stood back to take in the visual. It was uncanny how the two women could look so similar and dissimilar at the same time. Previously she hadn’t had the time to properly look at them together in such a state. Their strong regal features were delicious. She watched with rapt attention as her wife unhooked the lace bra, removing it sensually. As the dark witch slowly manipulated the soft flesh, the blonde’s head fell backwards on to her shoulder. Bella swept the blonde hair into a makeshift ponytail that would allow her to control the woman. Moving the head to one side, the dark witch took a patch of sensitive skin into her mouth.

“Narcissa, have you any idea how this looks? You showing up here, dressed in these?” The young witch ran her fingers under the lacy garter. “One might even think you planned this.”

“I assure you, Hermione, if I had planned this I would have brought my paddle not my nice underwear.”

“But don’t you agree, sister. This is so much more pleasurable.” The dark witch moved her hands in such a way that the blue eyes slammed shut again. With her eyes closed, she nearly missed the young woman kneeling down in front of her.

Hermione, however, had decided that her performance was not going to be ignored. She ran her nails down the pale stomach, slipping her fingers into the edges of the satin underwear.

“What do you think, Bella? Do you think I should takes these off? She looks so pretty like this.”

The dark witch rested her chin on Narcissa’s shoulder as she looked down her body. “She does. I think that the real question is, does she want this?”

Hermione ran a single finger underneath the fabric. When it came away wet, she smiled predatorily. “It would be a safe assumption that she does.” She opened her mouth to taste the finger, but her wife had grabbed her wrist and tugged her up. The warm tongue circled her finger, flicking the tip lightly.

“Back on your knees, love,” Bellatrix said in a raspy voice. She stroked the curly hair even as she guided the head back down.

Hermione released the garters so that she could slip the underwear down. She lifted one leg up and rested it on her shoulder, opening the blonde up to her. She firmly gripped the toned ass as she brought her mouth to Narcissa’s sex. She couldn’t help but moan when she looked up to meet her wife’s eyes as she shared the beautiful body between them.

“Oh gods, Bella. Your wife’s mouth is unbelievable. I am impressed that you ever get out of bed.”

“It is a struggle at times, I admit. She does look lovely where she is. I always enjoy her on her knees. But you. We have you quite captive. You are quite wanton with my wife on you, Cissy dear.” She pinched already hard nipples. “This is your dream, being trapped between two Black women.”

“There are many worse things to imagine.”

“Don’t be coy, Narcissa. I want to hear you say it.”

The blonde truly considered holding her tongue. She enjoyed being aloof. It was part of her carefully crafted persona. While she let both of the witches touching her see small sections of who she really was. This was a large request, as her sister well knew. But when the young witch’s tongue entered her and an arm snaked around her hip drawing rough circles around her clit, it felt like the words were forced out of her mouth.

“Yes,” she hissed. “Yes, I want this. I want you and your wife, Bella.”

“Now that couldn’t have been too hard for you to admit.”

The blonde’s mouth dropped open, but words couldn’t come out of the mouth due to the loud moan currently taking her entire lung capacity.

“Make her come hard, Hermione,” the dark witch commanded.

The young witch wanted to moan, to crumble at her wife’s instruction, but kept her relentless pace. She focused on the reactions of the woman above her, expertly exploiting them until all of the muscles in the body tensed and she felt the woman releasing around her tongue. She gentled her motions with soft licks and kisses until she was certain Narcissa was on the verge of collapse.

Together the Madames Black moved her back onto the bed ,petting her until she came back to herself.

“You are a remarkable witch, little one,” she said sighing relaxedly.

“Thank you,” Hermione murmured against her skin while playing across her stomach with Bella’s fingers.

“I, however, can only stomach so much of your over indulgent affections.”

“Not to mention, I imagine you stormed out on Draco,” Bellatrix chimed in.

“I may have done that. Regardless,” she said extracting herself from the warm tempting bodies, “I did not mean to take any of this sacred time.”

“It was no problem,” her sister said reflexively.

“Young Madame Black. Dinner is at 5 o’clock sharp. I do not expect any tardiness.”

“Yes, Narcissa. I will try to obey.”

“And the rest,” the blonde asked hesitantly.

“I won’t be dodging my friends any time soon, Cissy. You were right.”

“You will find that I am always right. I will see you both at dinner,” she said shrugging on her robes and apparating away.

Chapter Text

Hermione and Bella struggled to get out of bed in time for dinner in spite of lingering exhaustion. The shower took twice as long as it should have. Had they been in a muggle inn, the hot water would have run out halfway through. They dressed silently though their eyes rarely left the other. When they finally were to their outer robes, the older witch gently lifted the cloth onto her wife’s shoulders clasping it in the front.

“Where are we going for dinner?” the young witch asked quietly.

“There is a small out of the way restaurant. It caters mostly to the older pureblooded families, so we can expect a good deal of privacy.”

Hermione let out a breath. “I was worried it was going to be at the Three Broomsticks, and I just couldn’t handle that level of public scrutiny.”

“I am truly sorry that this has been so hard on you,” the dark witch responded gently taking the young witch’s hands in her own, absentmindedly playing with her wedding ring.

“It’s alright. It is better this year than it was in the spring. I really am beginning to make friends. This was just the first opportunity I’ve had to let my guard down. And yesterday was awful.”

Bella chuckled darkly. “You’ve learned your lesson about ditching the protective detail.”

“More than. And thank you for getting me out of trouble with Narcissa.”

“I thought you might appreciate being able to sit through your classes this week,” she answered sardonically. “And I would hate for your fidgeting to earn you a detention in transfiguration.”

The young witch shivered at the idea. “That isn’t funny, Bella.”

“It is. Now, come. If we don’t hurry, we'll be late and unfortunately you do need to return to the castle tonight.”

With their hoods raised, the dark witch led her wife through the streets of Hogsmeade. The lingering rays of sun reflected off the cobblestones in front of the nondescript doorway. It opened immediately for them, and Bella ushered Hermione inside. The young witch slowly took down her hood as she looked around them. The inside of the restaurant was in utter contrast to the outside of the building. The warm jeweltones of the walls were brought out by the flickering candles. The high leather chairs and crisp white linens made it clear that this was an exclusive restaurant. Across the very quiet room sat Narcissa and Severus already sipping wine and talking intensely. When they reached the table the solemn wizard rose politely,

“Madame Black and Madame Black so glad you could join us.”

“Come now Severus, no need to be sour.”

“Who knew that a day with your wife could so greatly improve your mood, Bella.”

“Has she really been that bad?” Hermione asked playfully.

“And then some, honestly,” the blonde chimed in.

“Don’t act as though you’ve been any better, ‘Mione,” Snape responded.

“I would never claim such a thing. I am rather lost without her.”

“I am not sure the love sickness is any better,” Narcissa said sharply.

“Where is Draco,” the young witch asked.

“He is still at the castle,” the wizard said slowly. “There was an incident and he will avoid any more scrutiny.”

“What happened?”

“A rather dark object fell into the hands of a student who was imperiused to deliver it to the headmaster. However it was intercepted by Mr. Potter and his friends. Fortunately the headmaster was unharmed.”

“I take it that Draco will debrief me?” Hermione asked quietly.

“Indeed.”

Their conversation was interrupted by the waiter coming to get their orders. Hermione looked around in confusion as no menus had been handed to them. Her attempt to ask about it was silenced by her wife’s hand soothingly covering hers. She watched enraptured as Bella ordered for her in rapid French. While she had been at the mercy of that tongue for much of the afternoon, she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the mouth. Narcissa brushed hair behind her ear before leaning in to whisper,

“Her eyes are a bit higher up, you know.”

“I can’t very well help it,” the young witch whispered back, moving her eyes up slowly. She was met with an indulgent smile that reached even the woman’s eyes.

“As much as I am enjoying the floor show ladies, we have a few things to cover before Hermione and I need to return to the castle.”

“Of course,” Hermione replied stiffening at the idea of leaving the comfort of her family.

“I presume you have the Dark Lord’s instructions after yesterday’s events?” the dark witch asked.

“I do. For the time being we will take no direct action.”

“We will what?” Bellatrix growled angrily.

“For the time being, it is Hermione’s job to act normally. If we come out wands blazing, we tip our hand. Or have you forgotten that we are trying to keep the extent of your powers from the people who created this mess?” he hissed quietly.

“Fine,” she huffed. “But if she does anything else I will not be restrained. And when the time comes, the bitch is mine.”

“I would expect nothing less, Bella.”

“So, I am to act normally?”

“Yes, but you will keep your distance,” the blonde said firmly.

“Yes, Cissy,” the young witch replied taking her hand for support.

“I will do what I can to keep her away from you, Hermione. But there will be little I can do in her classroom, so I beg you to exercise caution,” the dark wizard said.

“That’s it?”

“Madame Black, just a bit of patience please. That is not all. Your young wife and your nephew are being tasked to bring a Slytherin into the fold. The potions master apparently has something that the Order wants. Hermione and Draco are to find it out first, and if possible get some very false information into their hands instead.”

“Why are we relying on them to do everything?” the blonde said in her most mothering tone.

“Aside from being exceedingly bright, Slughorn has already taken a liking to Hermione. He has heard the rumors of who she really is. You know how he likes to collect. And while the ‘Chosen one’ has some sex appeal, our young witch has ancient magic running through her veins.”

“And his intentions are not like those of the Head of Gryffindor house?”

“Not at all,” Snape said certainly.

“Then I will do it.”

“I was unaware I was asking,” he answered sarcastically.

“If anyone is capable, Hermione, I know you are,” the dark witch encouraged. “After all, you have charmed my entire family.”

“As I remember it, Bella, they charmed me not the other way around.”

“Did they now,” Severus chimed in.

“Oh did you not know? Weeks before I met Bella, Narcissa and Draco worked to gain my trust and affections. They even orchestrated a blood test.” She paused looking into the sparkling dark eyes of her mentor and close friend. “Severus Snape, you bastard. You knew too, didn’t you? You. You are as guilty as they are.”

“It was a means to an end. I assure you.”

“You bloody Slytherins are all the same,” she replied hotly.

“Need I remind you what house you are in now, little witch,” Narcissa said in a low serious voice. “And that regardless of how we got to this point, you are ours now.”

“Something I could never deny,” Hermione replied looking at her wife. “I will placate the old cat the best I can while keeping as much distance as possible and we will win over the potions master.”

“If for some reason you are threatened with grievous bodily harm, our Lord has given you permission to show the full extent of your powers including calling your wife,” the wizard added.

“I appreciate that concession. I know we will both feel better knowing I am not alone.”

Bella nodded her agreement with her young wife’s statement.

“I feel as though you are forgetting something,” Narcissa said quietly.

“I will take care to keep my friends very close to me, Cissy. I will not disobey you in this way again.” She paused weighing if she wanted to say more, but concluded that this was no time to live with regrets. “I can barely breathe when you are angry with me. Please tell me I am forgiven.”

The blonde immediately took the pretty young face in her hands. She looked at her with open adoration, gently stroking the soft cheeks. She pressed a lingering kiss on her forehead, whispering as she pulled back, “I will always forgive you. You bring my sister much deserved happiness."


 

The quiet dinner came to an end as the sun dipped below the horizon. With a single look, the professor communicated to his student that it was time to leave. Hermione hugged and solidly kissed Narcissa before the blonde could begin to process what she might be planning. It did not, however, delay the returning of the kiss before they broke apart. When she turned to the dark witch, Hermione could feel the turmoil of emotions reverberating through her wife. She allowed her magic to reach out and soothe her lover. She slipped comfortably into her wife's arms, squeezing her tightly and indulging in a slow kiss.

"I will see you in a couple of weeks, little witch. Be strong."

"I will try. I love you, Bella."

"And I, you."

"Come, Madame Black. Neither of us wants to explain where we have been today. We don't want to be quite the last ones back." He offered his arm to escort her out of the restaurant knowing how hard it was for her to leave her wife.

Chapter Text

The walk back to the castle seemed an unusually long journey. Hermione was grateful for the solid strength of the dark wizard who had become like family to her. As they traced familiar steps she reassembled her armour step by step. By the time they reached the castle gate, she let go of his arm with a wink. She realized it was time to embody the strength of the last name she carried. She held her chin just a little bit higher and walked with clear purpose back towards her dormitory.

Safely inside the common room she found a paler than normal blonde waiting for her.

“Draco? What happened? Are you ok?”

“Calm down, ‘Mione. Everything went mostly as it was planned.”

“Obviously you could not tell me before it happened. Are you allowed to tell me now?”

“I am. And I can’t bother you with everything I do. Honestly, you have quite a bit on your plate without having to worry about my more minor tasks.”

Hermione nodded in agreement. She could not be everywhere and involved in everything.

“After I dropped you off at your wife, where you failed to say goodbye, I took a package to the Three Broomsticks. It was a particularly dark piece of jewelry that was delivered to me covertly last week. I waited in the girl’s loo long enough to imperius a student. I left her with instructions to wait several hours before retrieving the object and bringing it back towards the castle.”

“Which gave you enough time to get back and safely in the company of the head of Gryffindor house, so that you could not be blamed.”

“Well, I am a Slytherin after all. No way I was going down for a plan made to fail.”

“What do you mean?” the brunette asked in clear confusion.

“We wanted the Order to think that I am making lame attempts against the Headmaster’s life.”

“So that the larger plan remains concealed,” she answered smirking.

“Precisely. They want to make me out to be a bumbling villain, so I am giving them something to work with. So that when we achieve our goal, they won’t have had time to prepare.”

“That is painfully brilliant, you know.” She was truly in awe of the plan. It was a simple diversion and it would work.

“Yes, I am quite aware it is. Naturally your wife came up with it. And don’t get that glowly lovely look. It's gross. You are aware she is my aunt, right?”

“And you are aware that I am as well?”

Draco groaned and rolled his eyes. “Thanks for the reminder.”

“Be nice or I will start calling you nephew in front of the others.”


 

The weeks of November flew blissfully quickly. In between the times she got to see her wife, the young witch busied herself with staying 6 weeks ahead of most of her course work. She spent much of her free time in the room of requirement. She and Draco oscillated between working diligently on the cabinet and brushing up on his dueling skills. He was steadily improving with the constant work, but remained susceptible to his emotions. In the evenings after her busy days, she would curl up in a large arm chair in the common room to read a book or write a letter. She was ensconced in the friendship of the Slytherins.

The only bump in the road was naturally in Transfiguration Class. Anytime Hermione was in her presence, her green eyes never seemed to fall elsewhere. She felt them attempting to undress her. It was intrusive, but she kept the shields around her memories pulled tight at all time. There had been a couple of ineffective attempts to get past her walls, but it seemed the older witch quickly gave up. Bellatrix and Narcissa trained her in well in occlumency for this sort of situation. They built upon her natural privacy. She practiced all summer and had even been able to thwart her Lord a handful of times, much to his pleasure. As a result of the failed attempts and Hermione’s uncanny ability to avoid being caught alone, McGonagall resorted to pairing her with Lavender Brown. It wasn’t just that Lavender was a Gryffindor. Hermione found her to be an insufferable know it all. Annoyingly she had to admit that the witch had some skill. She was decent enough at transfiguration, though Hermione did her best to ignore her existence. This was clearly the Order’s latest ploy to win her affections. In accordance with her orders, she was polite and engaging enough to encourage them to continue their pursuit. It was an awkward sort of courtship, it seemed that no one quite knew the steps to the dance.

So she was truly grateful that the holidays were quickly approaching. Much to her delight, Slughorn decided to throw a Christmas party. While most of the “Slugclub” was rushing around in an attempt to choose an appropriate date, Hermione easily identified who would accompany her. In spite of his skill at potions, the Malfoy name did not have the same draw as some of the older and more interesting family names. Conveniently, her wife would not be upset with her selection, nor would there be any confusion on her date's part about where they stood. With a bit of luck they might even be able to tempt the elderly professor into accepting an invitation to the Malfoy New Year's Ball where he would be formally recruited.

Draco was happy to go with her, as there were few in their circle invited. He would be guarding her all alone. The only drawback was that he would have to act morose and brooding in front of the Order brats. Hermione promised that she would help him stir the pot with them a bit if that was what it would take to get his agreement to attend with her.


 

The night of the Christmas party, Hermione wore one of the many dresses Narcissa picked out for her. She was waiting in the common room for half an hour before Draco was ready to leave. She stared into the fire knowing that in a little more than a week she would be with her wife. They were still in the middle of negotiations about Christmas with the blondes. They would certainly spend the day at Malfoy Manor, but Hermione longed for some alone time that only her castle would supply. The break would also mark a number of much more solemn occasions for the young witch. It had been nearly a full year since she had erased the Granger’s memories and sent them away. While she gained understanding and kindness from the Malfoys, it didn’t erase the trauma she experienced a year ago. Marrying Bella and becoming a Black had given her a new source of identity, but she wondered if she would ever feel normal again.

When Draco arrived wearing his best dress robes, she was struck with how much he resembled his parents. She married into a rather good looking family. He smirked.

“Please tell me you weren’t just thinking about my mum, Madame Black.”

“Not as specifically as I could have been. I was just noting that my family is painfully good looking.”

“Now that we are. Are you ready to go charm Slughorn and piss off the Order brats?”

“I think I might have been born ready for that. Do you have the invitation to the ball from your mother? She told me you would have it.”

He rolled his eyes. “Yes, of course I have it.” He drew the elegant black envelope out of an inner pocket of his robe, handing it over to her.

“Thank you,” she said taking it and magically stowing it in her handbag. “I think it will go better if I make the request personally. After all I have little family and would consider it an honor if he would attend in their stead.”

“And I will be a little grey raincloud.”

“Have you been practicing your scowl?”

“I have.” He demonstrated enthusiastically. She was uncertain if he had really been practicing, but it gave her a bit of insight into what he would have been like as a toddler. She would have to be extra kind to Narcissa for having survived years of that face.

“Very good. Shall we go? I would like to be one of the first ones there so that we might have a bit more privacy.”

He offered his arm formally, stiffening his posture and stifling a giggle at his own joke. She smiled and took it.

“Thank you for going with me, Draco. I don’t know what I would have said if you could not go.”

“It is both my pleasure and my duty. My aunt would hardly allow anyone else to accompany you. You know she had petitioned the Dark Lord a number of times for permission to assassinate the head of Gryffindor house for the audacity to touch what is hers.”

Hermione couldn’t help the affectionate look that broke across her features. For Bellatrix, such a threat was rather romantic. Though the young witch had never imagined that she would have allowed herself to be spoken about in such terms, the dark witch’s possessiveness made her feel safe. Not to mention how painfully attractive it was on her wife.

As they walked out of the dungeons, Hermione knew that this night would be another one of the most significant. Though it was not exactly a life or death situation, she wanted to prove her worth. The task had been given specifically to her by her Lord and she did not want to harm the Black reputation in any way. It seemed each day they drew closer to the inevitable war. She at once felt protected and uninformed. Setting her shoulders, she prepared to be every bit of the pureblood heiress she was. She would succeed.

Chapter Text

Slughorn chose glitteringly gold cloth and floating red lanterns to transform the classroom into a bright cheerful face. Hermione smiled charmingly as they entered, which was quite the contrast to the grimace on Draco’s face. She felt compelled to write his mother, just to brag about how skilled he was at keeping in character. It was clearly something he learned from the blonde witch. Slughorn found them as they entered the room, commandeering Hermione for a photograph.

“Professor, the party is lovely. Narcissa Black would be envious of such a display.”

“Madame Black, what a lovely compliment. She was one of my favorites too, though not quite like your wife, you understand.”

“I do, sir. There are no others like my wife.”

“Quite right.”

“Sir, I wanted to give this to you before you were occupied by other guests.” With a flourish she produced the invitation and handed it to him. “Narcissa asked me to deliver this in person. She would love for you to attend her New Year's Ball this year. As would I. Honestly, I still know so few people aside from my family. It would be nice to have another friendly face and Bella has been asking to see you as well.

“What an honor to not just have been invited, but to have been invited by you, Madame Black.”

“Then you will come?”

“Madame Black…”

“I know that you feel like a toy that is being fought over, sir. I know that feeling all too well. It is something I too must deal with on a daily basis. Until a side is clearly chosen both will pursue us relentlessly. I am merely suggesting that we, as kindred spirits, stick together.”

“That is the first sense that has been spoken to me in years. I will attend for both of our sakes. Please do tell your wife that I very much look forward to seeing her again. And to save me a place on her dance card.”

“It will be my pleasure, sir.”

“Will it by chance be held at your castle? I’ve heard the garden has some fairly rare plants that I would very much like to see. For academic purposes, of course,” the elderly wizard asked with a glint in his eye.

“Sadly no. In fact, I will be spending the beginning of the holiday at Malfoy Manor,” the young slytherin said with a hint of sadness in her voice. “You understand, Narcissa would allow us to be no where else. But after the Ball, Bella and I will get to spend a week at home. We would be honored if you would come and visit us.”

“Then it is a date, Madame Black. You have entirely made my evening. I hope that you will have a nice time tonight. As much as I would prefer your company alone, I must see to my other guests.”

“Of course, sir. I wouldn’t want to keep you,” she said with a wink.

He winked and turned to greet guests. Hermione suppressed a grin. She had been wildly successful. By the end of the holiday break, he would be in the Dark Lord’s ranks. Whatever the Order brats were planning would never come to fruition. Whatever information they hoped to gain from the old professor would be misdirected by the Dark Lord himself.

The young witch looked about the crowd for friendly faces. There were a number of other Slytherins, though no one she was close to. Predictably there was a strong contingent of Ravenclaws. She steered clear of her former housemates. They’d become so unfriendly after her heritage was revealed. Though they were not nearly as severe as the Gryffindors. On the far side of the room the Longbottom boy was carrying a tray of drinks and glaring openly at Hermione. It seemed rather personal, that type of look. And she would put money on the fact that it was a reaction to something that her wife had done in the first war. She made eye contact with the grimacing boy and smiled sweetly. She loathed being at such a disadvantage. While she was quite skilled at playing catch up, that didn’t mean that it was particularly fun.

She turned slowly looking for a familiar face to spend her evening with. On her sweep of the room, she caught the head of Gryffindor house critically appraising her. The woman started in motion towards her. Hermione simultaneously subtly reached for her wand and the necklace of the Black family crest. Just as she summoned her magic to call her wife, Severus stepped directly in front of the young witch.

“Relax your wand arm, Hermione. We don’t want to draw attention. Please do not call, Bellatrix,” he whispered urgently. “With me here, she will not dare approach. She believes that I am working you on Dumbledore’s behalf. We are almost to the Christmas holiday. There is no reason to start a battle today.”

She took a deep breath and relaxed herself. “The Order brats are chatting on the other side of the room there. They look rather up to something.”

“I agree, Madame Black. And that is my next stop. But where has your nephew gone. Was he not supposed to be at your side this evening.”

“Severus,” she hissed. “Don’t call him that. It is creepy.”

The dark wizard grinned broadly.

“And,” she continued, “I am not sure. He gave me a bit of space so that I could talk with our host in private. I haven’t seen him since.”

“Very well,” he drawled. “I am going to address our trouble makers for a few moments. If you could please go look for Draco.” He stalked away in the way only he could to address Potter and the red head’s girlfriend.

Hermione retreated to a small circle of Slytherins where she would be able survey the room without unwanted interruptions. As always she was welcomed warmly by the group. She still could hardly believe that they were so fond of her. Having friends was still unsettling. She looked about furtively for the young blonde wizard. He was not meant to have been gone for so long. They didn’t tend to go off script without at least hinting to one another. They were each other’s back ups. It simply wasn’t safe to go off alone. She was both relieved and concerned when she saw Draco being drug in by the castle squib. Their appearance silenced the room.

“Let go of me you filthy squib,” the blonde slurred.

“Professor Slughorn, I found this young man rather intoxicated and roaming around outside of the door.”

“I will take care of him, Horace,” Snape said. As the words came out of his mouth, Draco doubled over emptying the contents of his stomach on his godfather's shoes.

Hermione recognized the moment for what it was. Severus was protecting the boy in accordance with the vow made to Narcissa. As he guided the young man out of the party, he looked briefly over his shoulder. When their eyes met, she realized that he wanted her to lower her walls. She did so immediately.

This was not planned. I believe that Potter may have orchestrated this. I will take care of Draco. See what you can find out from your Transfiguration partner. He said in her mind. She nodded in response as they walked out the door.

The young witch spotted Lavender Brown acquiring a small pile of sweets for herself. Hermione breathed deeply and walked over to her.

“Lovely party, isn’t it?”

“Hermione, what a surprise. Yes, it really is. Have you tried any of these,” she asked holding up a chocolate.

“I haven’t.” Before she could react, Lavender was feeding her one of the sweets. Shocked by the action, she could do nothing but consume it. The girl grinned widely at her. She fought to swallow and smile in return.

“It's good, right,” the enthusiastic Gryffindor asked. Hermione nodded still trying to clear her mouth.

“It is. Do you happen to know where someone could find something a bit stronger? I don’t want to go quite as far as certain people just did. I just need something to take the edge off.”

“Oh no. I don’t think there is anything innocuous like that. The blonde didn’t consume anything willingly.”

Hermione paused in an attempt to suppress her anger. She lowered the volume of her voice in an attempt to sound conspiratorily. “Was it one of the Weasley’s concoctions?”

“Of course,” she answered equally quietly. “Brilliant isn’t it. It looked just like he had been drinking. Not to mention how disgraced he will be. What do you think his mother will say?”

“I don’t know, but I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.” The Slytherin attempted not to think of how beautiful the blonde Malfoy matriarch was when angry or how satisfying pissing her off could be. She shook her head to clear her thoughts. “Why would the Weasleys want him drunk?”

“They didn’t. You know Harry harbors some serious dislike for the little git. I think he really just wanted him out of the party. A little discomfort was just an added bonus.”

“Why did he want him gone?”

“Hermione, you know I want to tell you. I like to think of us as friends. Join us and I will tell you everything,” Lavender said leaning far too close.

Hermione panicked slightly. She hadn’t planned on something like this tonight. She had no answer for the question that had just been posed. She wanted to know what the Gryffindor had to say, but the Dark Lord had specifically instructed her not to become a double agent. That was Severus’ job. She was only to flirt with the possibility. She had no idea how to politely decline such a straightforward request.

“Forgive me for interrupting,” Pansy Parkinson said approaching the pair. “Hermione, it's getting late. We are walking back to the dormitories. I thought you would like to come with us.”

“I had no idea it had gotten so late. Yes, that would be good,” she responded gratefully. She turned to the annoying lion. “It was good to see you, Lavendar. I’ll see you in class.”

“Have a good night, Hermione. Miss Parkinson.”

With more than a little gratitude, the young witch walked arm in arm from the party with her housemate.

Chapter Text

Hermione sat happily on her bed wandlessly packing her trunk. It felt good to use her magic as she pleased. Hogwarts had been stifling. With all of the intentional misuse of her maiden name, she hadn’t spent much time feeling like a Black recently. Winter break would be a respite from the monotony at school. Whenever she thought of going home, she couldn’t help but allow her thoughts to drift to her witch. The dark curls and curve revealing dresses. And in a little over an hour, she would be on a train bound for her lover. When the door creaked open, she paused objects midair to see who was interrupting her only to find a familiar blonde head gliding into her room.

“Well, Madame Black, I must say that you have procrastinated to the very last minute.”

“I am a busy woman, Mister Malfoy. You look better.”

“Don’t even get me started on the Potter and Weasley brats. They are making my role in all of this far too easy.”

“How did they get you to eat one of their concoctions?” she asked curiously.

“They talked Neville into spiking my drink apparently. Snape was able to scare that much information out of the boy without so much as lifting a wand.” Draco chuckled darkly at the thought of his godfather glowering at the idiotic Gryffindor. Lord, the wizard could be intimidating when he chose.

“He was glaring at me all night. I should have known that he was up to something.”

“That look could also have something to do with who you are married to,” he said in a tone that implied she was a dolt.

“Draco,” she started with her best impression of her wife, “I promise I will hex you all the way back to the Manor if you do not tell me what is going on.”

“Oh sorry, ‘Mione. I’ve been finding it remarkably easy to forget that you haven’t always been with us. Bella… in the first war… well it was what she went to Azkaban for. She crucioed them into madness. But that's all I know. You should talk to her about it.”

Hermione looked at him contemplatively. While the charge made her wife seem incredibly evil, she just couldn't justify it with the woman she loved.

“Don’t fret, ‘Mione. Just talk to her. There is almost always a logical explanation.”

“You are right, of course. Not that I could judge her even if I tried,” she said finally.

“Alright, that is quite enough of your sap. I fully expect to see far more than I ever wanted to rather soon. If I could just convince you to leave my mum out of it.”

The young witch flushed bright red. “I had no idea that you knew.”

“I’ve always been aware of some of the more secret aspects of the Black family self governance.”

“Just for the record, there is nothing I can do about it,” she said defeatedly.

“I am not entirely sure that I believe you tried,” he replied teasingly.”

Thinking of nothing else she could do, she threw him a grin and winked. “I think that I am ready to go. Shall we?”

“I can’t believe that you even bothered to pack anything. You know my mum, she will likely have half a wardrobe waiting for you and will insist you go together to buy the other half.”

“I know. At times I wonder if she thinks I am some sort of dress up doll. But I like pretending that I don’t have to come back here.”

“Is there something I don’t know,” he asked nervously, thinking his friend might have been keeping something painful from him.

“Nothing. Honestly, I think I am just being a whiney teenager.”

“Well then. Let's go get on a train and eat a bunch of junk food. Then before you know it, you will be grossing me out with my aunt."


 

Just as he promised, they ate and laughed with their friends. As she put miles between herself and the castle she felt a great weight being lifted off her chest. When the train pulled into King’s Cross, she was immediately ushered by her entourage off the train and onto the platform. They were among the first to have their feet hit the pavement, which naturally resulted in the gathered crowd staring at them. She knew her wife was nearby, because her body was buzzing with more than one body’s worth of excitement and anxiety. Dramatically the waiting crowd parted around a very familiar hooded figure. Without so much as a thought to what she was doing, Hermione launched herself into her wife’s arms. The fierce possessive kiss suggested that Bellatrix missed her terribly as well.

“Bella. Hermione. Come,” the low discrete voice of Narcissa wafted over them. “I believe that you’ve given everyone enough of a show. Not to mention my only son is looking a bit green.”

Hermione separated from her wife long enough to see the knowing smirks of her housemates families standing nearby. She couldn’t help but wonder if there was a class on that look taught in the first year that she missed by being in Ravenclaw.

“No, darling. We teach that much younger,” her wife said teasingly, brushing her lips against her ear as they walked.

The young witch shook her head. “I’d forgotten that I have no privacy when we are together.”

“Are you pretending that you dislike it, little witch? I would be more than happy to convince you otherwise.”

“After time apart, Bella, I assure you that I need no convincing.”

Abruptly the blonde witch stepped directly in between them to move them more quickly forward. “Come you two. If you keep going the way you are knickers will be off before we even get home. Surely you can wait that long, Bella.”

“I will do as I please, baby sister,” the dark witch growled. In spite of her obvious displeasure at being bossed, Bella allowed Narcissa to escort them to the floo they would be taking to get home. As they stepped out of the green flames, Hermione finally breathed out a sigh of relief.

“I know that this is not your home, but it greatly pleases me that you seem so happy to be here,” the blonde said with a modicum of uncertainty in her voice.

“I am grateful to be safe and loved, Cissa. I am happy to be under your roof and with my family again. This fall was….trying.”

The blonde moved forward reaching out to affectionately stroke the young witch’s cheek. “You are always welcome here. The house has been quite lonely without you and Draco here. Bella spent half of her time at your castle. She claimed it was convenient, but I believe that it made her feel closer to you.”

The dark witch in question stepped out of the fireplace dusting herself off. “Thank you for sharing that little piece of information, Narcissa. Now, if you will excuse us. I would like to become reaquainted with my wife before dinner.”

“It will start at 7. I expect that you will not be late,” the blonde said arching an eyebrow.

“We will see,” Bellatrix said turning on her heel to leave the room and practically dragging Hermione behind her. They traveled a familiar path up the stairs and into the bedroom. Bella’s hands were immediately at her robes pulling them quickly off. Before they hit the ground, the young witch summoned her wand to throw up sound proofing and wards.

“Are you out of practice, little witch? Couldn’t manage that without your wand?”

“It wasn’t that exactly,” she replied breathlessly. “I am finding you to be rather distracting at the moment.”

“Oh and why is that,” the dark witch whispered seductively in her ear while gently fondling her still covered chest.

“Bellatrix Black, you are intentionally distracting me."

“Not at all, little witch. I am taking what I desire, but it is a side effect that I find I do not mind.”

Chapter Text

Hermione had barely placed her wand down when her body began trembling uncontrollably. Her wife’s hands were everywhere, but had yet to transverse beneath her clothing. The possessive touch turned her body into flame.

“Bella, do you have any idea what you do to me?”

A hand swept her hair away from her neck and a soft mouth captured her earlobe, biting down softly.

“I’m not entirely sure that I do, perhaps you should tell me about it?”

The young witch felt all of the air rush out of her lungs. It was no secret that the curly haired woman was well known for her powerful sensuality, but she had never felt quite like this. Her lover was stalking around her like a panther eyes prey that she had every intention of devouring. Those devious lips were once again close, this time hovering just in front of her face. A hand wove into the hair at the back of her neck. Unexpectedly they tugged Hermione’s head back exposing the tender skin to a series of sharp nips. Though she attempted to suppress her reaction, she couldn’t help pushing her hips forward in hope of any amount of contact that might quench the burning in the pit of her stomach.

“No, no, little witch. You get nothing until you are a good girl and answer my question.” The older witch punctuated her demand by firmly grasping the hips and forcing them still.

Hermione gasped at the rough treatment, but forced herself to speak. “I wouldn’t know where to begin.”

“Then let's start here. If you answer my question honestly, you will be rewarded. If you choose to lie you will be punished. Do you understand?”

The young brunette bobbed her head earnestly.

“Are you wet for me?”

As though the question alone was not scorching enough, the older witch slid her hand from hip to cup Hermione’s center. The young witch could not control the moan that slipped from her lips.

“Yes,” she whispered so quietly she could barely hear herself.

“You really are going to have to speak up if I am going to hear you, love,” Bella said predatorily while stroking her wife gently through her clothes.

Hermione finally moved her arms, snaking them around the dark witch’s neck and pulling their faces close together. She found her voice, though it was shaking with desire. “You make me so wet, Bella. Whether or not you are even present. There have been so many nights I’ve woken up with ruined underwear. Now I am certain that you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?” She captured her wife in a searing kiss before she allowed her to answer.

“Are you asking me if I have been using our rather unique connection to drive you to the brink of unbearable arousal? If I’ve been using my magic to touch you even at a distance so that when you were once again in my arms that we could share a new intimate experience?”

Hermione blinked trying to process her wife’s ever present planning.

“I did,” the sinful red lips said brushing sensually against her own. “And to get what you want, all you need to do is surrender to me.”

“Bella,” she moaned insistently pushing her hands into the questing hands.

“Yes, little witch?”

The husky tone sunk into Hermione’s very core. She literally could not control her trembling limbs.

“I’ve been yours since the day I was born. You don’t need an invitation. I gave you all of myself willingly on our wedding day.”

The older witch paused her seduction to regard the young witch. It still seemed utterly impossible that such a good hearted and loving creature would look at her with such open adoration. That the other half of her soul would have such a beautiful innocence.

“Don’t go soft on me, Bellatrix Black. While all of that is very sweet, I believe you were in the middle of quite the seduction. Not to mention you have been cruelly tampering with my hormones from a distance.” Hermione took her temporary advantage to wrap her legs tightly around her wife’s waist forcing the woman to hold her close.

“You have always been such a cheeky witch. Fortunately for you, you are my cheeky witch. For no one else would get away with such forwardness.” In spite of the perceived harshness of her words, she gently placed the young woman on the bed, watching the depth of the beautiful hazel eyes.

“You make my whole body shake with desire. And you are never far from my thoughts,” the young witch said continuing the speech that had been earlier required of her.

“If you want this so badly, then why is there still cloth between us?”

Hermione smirked. “You asked for my surrender, and I would do anything you ask of me. Anything.”

“You have no idea the things I could ask,” the dark witch responded attaching her lips to the side of her lover’s neck, biting and soothing.

“And you have no idea what all I would do willingly.”

As the last syllable fell from young lips, Bellatrix magically removed the clothes from her lover leaving only a rush of cool air in their wake.

“It hardly seems equitable that you are still fully dressed.”

“Oh no no, little witch. This isn’t in any way about being fair.” She kissed her wife soundly. “This is about claiming what is mine.”

A moan surged out of Hermione from the very base of her spine. She let her eyes flutter closed and just feel the phenomenon that was her wife. Possessive hands were devouring her body in the most delicious way. If she hadn’t already been incredibly turned on, she certainly would be now.

“I know you think that you are prepared to behave, but this isn’t going to be quick. So consider this to be an act of generosity.”

Hermione saw the devious look in her wife’s eye just a moment before she felt soft silk encase her wrists and tug above her head. Bella’s magic secured them tightly but not painfully to the bed frame. The young witch arched her back, begging silently to be touched. The offering was met with feather light touches that avoided any strictly erogenous zones.

“Please, Bella. Please, I need you.”

“Hmmm. I will consider it, on one condition.”

“Anything. Please.”

“Tell me exactly what you want. And don’t leave anything out.”

The dark witch was pleased with the aroused shudder.

“Touch me, Bellatrix,” Hermione said attempting to mirror the authority in her lover’s voice.

A sweet heartfelt laugh bubbled out of the older witch’s throat captivating the entirety of the young witch’s attention.

“That was a pretty good impression, love. But not what I asked for.”

Hermione huffed loudly.

“Now now, no need to get in a state, love. Just be a good girl and you can have anything you want.” Bella punctuated her sentence with gentle nips along a bare collarbone.

“I need your hands on me.”

The dark witch gently scratched her nails down the bound bare arms causing the lithe body to squirm with desire. “Like this, darling?”

“More.”

“Words, Hermione.”

“My neck, my breasts, please.”

Adoring hands traveled as promised, leaving a wake of goosebumps. The dark witch smiled predatorily at the further tightening of her wife’s nipples in arousal. From the look of them she imagined it was slightly uncomfortable.

“More. Please,” Hermione gasped. “Please take me. I need you so badly. I can’t breathe without you.”

“Now that wasn’t to hard was it?”

The devious hands dipped immediately between her shaking thighs, coming away wet. The young witch watched enviously as her lover sucked the soaked digits without breaking eye contact.

“Please, Bella. I want you inside of me.”

Unable to resist the begging any longer, the dark witch slipped two digits easily inside her wife. “Oh darling, you feel incredible. I’ve missed you so very much. This is why you are meant for me. No one can fit you like me.”

The sensation was overwhelming and nearly instantaneously Hermione was hurdled over the cliff by the insistent touches. Tears ran down her face from exhaustion, relief and drowning in everything that was Bella. The dark witch immediately released the bonds and gathered the sobbing body to her own. She couldn’t help smiling as the body clung to her with soul shattering desperation. It was clear that any doubts about their relationship were entirely unfounded. Hermione belonged to her and her alone.

Chapter Text

Naturally, Hermione and Bella were late to dinner. They were greeted at the door by a grinning Lucius. His eyes sparkled as though he knew a great secret.

“Is it that bad?” the dark witch asked in a near silent whisper. Though quiet, her tone was deadly serious not to mention intimidating.

“Whatever you are thinking,” he began gleefully, “it's worse.”

Hermione heard her wife mutter something angrily under her breath. Though she couldn’t make out the words it was clear that it was a complaint about whatever they were about to encounter. The young witch didn’t fancy being on the wrong side of the blonde witch again. Though it seemed to happen so much that she was beginning to wonder if Narcissa was extremely sensitive or was looking for excuses to get closer. Or perhaps it was just a pureblood thing. After all, there really was a good chance that she was simply unable to see how much of a troublemaker her wife was.

She was broken away from her thoughts when Bella took her hand as they crossed into the dining room. Though her witch said nothing, it was clearly communicated that she should look sufficiently apologetic. She stared at her feet as she walked. The new shoes on her feet were among those Narcissa had purchased her. Draco was right about not needing to bring any clothes home. The blonde witch had literally bought her an entirely new wardrobe. In her rush to get ready after her afternoon with Bella, she hadn’t been able to look at it all. She simply grabbed the first formal dress and shoes that matched. If the rest of the closet could be measured by what she was already wearing, the clothes were beyond beautiful. She could only hope that she would have the opportunity to thank Narcissa properly.

“So nice of you to join us, Bellatrix. At least your wife looks ravishing tonight. Not that it makes up for your disregard for other’s time.”

“Oh don’t get your knickers in a twist, Cissy. It was by two minutes and it is only the five of us. We should focus on how happy we are to have Hermione and Draco home, not my shortcomings.”

The blonde paused to contemplate her sister’s words and Hermione saw her opening. She released her wife’s hand and quietly approached the other witch. She stopped walking when the entire lengths of their bodies were touching and her arms were tightly circling the blonde’s waist. She rested her chin on the taller woman’s shoulder so that she could whisper in her ear.

“Thank you for the wardrobe, Narcissa. I didn't have time to look at all of it. Perhaps we could go through it together later? I’m still learning how to put it all together.” Hermione let out a breath of relief when she felt the arms around her tighten into a real hug.

“Perhaps after dinner, my dear. You look lovely and are so fun to shop for. However, I do know a distraction when I see one.”

“The gratitude is real in spite of the timing, Cissa. It is so nice to be back here.”

“And it is good to have you. Come, let's eat before your wife gets any more jealous of this embrace.” The blonde winked at the young witch salaciously as she led her to the table causing the dark witch to predictably clench her jaw. “You’ve always been too easy to tease, Bella.”

“Only you would ever try,” the dark witch responded gruffly.

“Ah yes. Well I suppose the rest of the world is rather afraid you will hex them, aren’t they?”

“Perhaps you should be.”

“Perhaps.”

Hermione looked around the table at her reunited family and could not repress a smile. They were complicated and indiscernible at times, but they were entirely hers.

“Are we finally going to eat?” Draco said finally entering the fray.

“Yes,” the blond witch answered, dotingly petting her son as she passed.

The elves moved seamlessly between them delivering dish after dish. After just the first bite, Hermione closed her eyes in bliss and attempted to suppress a moan.

“Enjoying that, are you?” Bella teased.

“Don’t be mean, Bellatrix,” the blonde replied shortly. She had clearly not forgiven her for the tardiness yet. “For one, I am happy to see her eating. If I am not mistaken, Hermione, you’ve not been going to every meal.”

The young witch blushed and finished chewing before she answered. “I found that large settings were particularly uncomfortable. Too many opportunities to be approached, even when surrounded by our house. So I tried to manage it down to just twice a day.”

“You should have told me.” Concern colored the dark witch’s tone.

“You were doing more important things. I ate enough.”

“You lost weight,” the blonde witch said calmly. “And you can’t afford to. If you are to fight, you need to be strong. You are naturally small.”

“I will do better, I promise. Please, don’t worry about it,” Hermione pleaded.

“We will start sending you food once a day, won’t we Bella,” Narcissa said carefully navigating a potentially explosive situation. “Just tell us which meal and I will have a meal delivered directly via elf or even to Severus. But in return, you must promise not to neglect yourself.”

“Yes, Cissy. Thank you.” The young witch wanted to ask why this was such a heated issue, but something about the blonde’s body language said that it was better left for later.

“Well now that is settled,” Lucius said redirecting the conversation deftly. “I hope that you all were not planning on getting much rest during this break. There is a great deal to be done.”

“I don’t remember Christmas being all that exhausting, father,” Draco said curiously.

“Ah, true. However, that will not be the only activity this year. Naturally we have our annual trip to Diagon Alley and the New Year's Ball to prepare for. But we also have a good deal of preparation to do with our Lord. We can’t give you details just yet,” he said cutting the young witch off before she got started. “But you won’t have to wait long. Our Lord will be here for breakfast in the morning and it is likely to be a full day. Magically, how are you two feeling?”

“Good,” Draco replied immediately and with a huge grin. “I’ve improved loads. I spent a ton of time with Severus this term.”

“Wonderful,” the blonde wizard said proudly. “And you, Hermione?”

“I…”

“Just be honest, love,” Bella said soothingly.

“I feel as though I need to stretch my muscles. I spent months pretending I was less skilled and less powerful than I am. I worry that I have regressed.”

“Even with Snape’s assistance?” Narcissa asked.

“Please don’t misunderstand me. I am incredibly grateful for the risks he took to allow me to use my full magic even for a few hours a week. But it was still so limiting that it feels out of place to use my full range.”

“Sounds like there is only one solution,” Lucius said gleefully. “After dinner, we will have to go into the garden and see what we can do about remedying it.”

Narcissa rolled her eyes, but Bella and Draco both looked rather enthusiastic about the idea.

“That sounds delightful. Thank you, Lucius. I will do my best not to beat you too badly.”

“Be nice, Madame Black, or I will take away your wand and force you to do it that way,” the blonde wizard replied grinning.

“That is actually a brilliant idea,” Bella said thoughtfully. “It will do a great deal to level the playing field. Don’t worry, love. We will allow you to warm up with a wand first.”

“I wasn’t concerned, Bellatrix,” the young witch replied tensely. “I certainly don’t need a wand to disarm you.” To prove her point, she drew her wand and placed it next to Narcissa’s plate. Within the same moment she summoned her wife’s wand into her other hand. “See it wasn’t even difficult.”

The look of shock and fury on Bellatrix’s face was palpable. She was immediately on her feet leveling her most powerful glare at her wife. “That was in poor taste, little witch. Hand it over now and I will be lenient.”

“Touching, but who said I wanted leniency? Come and get it then. Surely you aren’t making empty threats are you?”

Before Bella could respond, the blonde witch cut in. “I am not opposed to duels, but they will not happen inside my dining room. If this cannot wait until later, I suggest you take it outside immediately.”

Without so much as a look at either sister, Hermione stood and disapparated.

Chapter Text

Hermione knew that the moment she landed she would only have seconds to prepare herself. She needed some sort of cover to maintain the element of surprise she gained with her very dramatic exit. And she had to prepare for the fact that Bella’s wand was particularly finicky. It was extremely powerful, but it didn’t take kindly to being used by anyone but its mistress. Through their connection, it seemed that the young witch had been granted some privileges, however she suspected that it did not include dueling with her wife. She moved quickly along a row of hedges until she found a suitable vantage point. She believed the dark witch would not apparate, but rather walk through the house. One of Bella’s strengths was letting her prey wait. The fear alone would do half of her work and allow her to have fun.

Deciding not to risk the wand, Hermione tucked it into her waist band. She took a deep breath and fully raised her occlumency walls. She hadn’t spent much time attempting to keep Bella out, but it was one of the forms of magic she could still practice within the castle walls. So it had become a bit of an obsession over the last few months. She hoped it would be enough at least not to give away her position from the get go. She was at a slight advantage possessing the witch’s wand, even without her own. Bella did not specialize in wandless magic, not that Hermione could blame her with such a powerful wand.

The young witch was not disappointed at the arrival of her wife. The dark witch threw open the garden doors and stormed out as though she were royalty. Hermione suppressed the urge to go worship the ground she walked on. There would, after all, be plenty of time for that later. And she suspected that their physical connection was far more likely to give away her location than anything else.

“Come out, come out wherever you are, little witch. And I promise not to hurt you… much,” Bella shouted out into the moonlit garden.

Hermione involuntarily shuddered at the tone. Her wife sounded a bit unhinged, but merlin if it too wasn’t painfully attractive. She was quite certain that the witch would be the death of her if Hermione was destined to find everything she did attractive. She paused in her plan a fraction of a second too long, allowing Bella to narrow down what part of the lawn she was hiding in. She still didn’t have an exact location, but it was too close for comfort. Hermione deployed a quiet bombarda just to her left. She had to cover her head to protect herself from debris. The explosion was far enough away that it didn’t destroy what she was hiding behind, but she hoped that Bella would look to the other side of the garden not believing that her wife would detonate right next to her location.

“Hermione,” the sickly sweet voice came again. “Be a good girl and hand over my wand. The punishment will be short. No reason to draw it out, love.”

Disappointingly, the dark witch began advancing directly towards her. The young witch let her approach a few steps before whispering a stupefy. The spell was only inches away from her lover when it was swiped away by a calm hand.

“Now now, little witch. You know it will take more than that to take me out. Really you ought to be a bit more creative than that.”

Hermione moved slightly to the left. “Locomotor Mortis.” Her aim was true, causing her wife to fall mid-step. Not wishing to give away her position, the young witch slipped further back into the garden.

“Oh Hermione, I can feel your passion and anger. Stop running, love.” Bellatrix was once again advancing towards her. “The point is to practice your skill and I don’t think you are worried about your marathon abilities.”

“Reducto,” Hermione shouted, blasting a shrub directly in her wife’s path and sending debris all over the witch.

“Very well done, little witch. There you are. Let's make this a bit more fair. Accio wand.”

Hermione felt the wand fly out of her pants and she wondered why her wife hadn’t done that to begin with. “You weren’t afraid I would really attack,” she said. It was truly a statement and not a question.

“You are quite fierce, my darling. But no. You fear doing me harm. But I’ve saved you the worry. I have my wand back so I am more than your equal. Expulso.”

With the utterance of the curse, the bush Hermione was hiding behind blew her back. She was on her feet and running before she could think. She threw a number of stupefies over her shoulder. She knew one hit when she heard her wife curse loudly. The young witch was then surrounded with numerous curses hitting all around her. She was aware for the first time of what it felt like to be pursued by her wife in a non-romantic context. She was grateful that her protegos were more than powerful enough to protect her.

“Not bad, love. Shall we move on to more advanced magic then?”

“Oh Bella,” Hermione purred. “I most certainly can handle anything you throw my direction.”

The dark witch met her wife’s eyes and smirked before raising her wand. The curses flew so fluidly from the dark red lips that Hermione could scarcely distinguish them from one another. It was clear that nearly all of the dark witch’s power was behind this attack, and the young witch could feel her defenses faltering slightly. It was time to act or be eaten alive by the gorgeous monster she married. Knowing it was a decidedly risky move, she dropped her protego in order to conjure a full fiendfyre. She had only literary knowledge of how it worked and she wasn’t even certain she could produce it on her first try without her wand. Much to her delight a column of flame shot up between herself and her wife. She couldn’t help but admire her work. Unfortunately she was so enraptured with her own success she forgot the task at hand and didn’t hear the word crucio drop from her lover’s lips over the roar of the fire.

It hit her squarely and she instantly quashed the fire spell knowing she wouldn’t be able to control it through the pain. In fact she felt quite literally on fire. The pain threatened to rip her apart and she struggled to focus on Bella’s voice sounding in her head. The voice commanding her to push the pain away. To force it out of her body. To raise her shields again. To keep fighting. She managed to get a deep breath that fortified her enough to launch a protego, bouncing the spell away. When no other spells immediately followed, Hermione slumped back into the cool grass to rest her aching body. The tears didn’t come until she was scooped up into her lover’s arms. Cools hands stroked through her hair and over her body. Her skin tingled wherever Bella’s hand traced. She couldn’t suppress a shudder that reverberated throughout her body, flaring arousal through her.

“Don’t fight it, love. It's quite alright and you are not the only one to react physically. I am so proud of you. You put up a hell of a fight without a wand. Without mine, I am not sure I would have been able to get even that crucio past you.”

Hermione finally opened her eyes to see the adoring look on her wife’s face.

“You’ve gotten stronger mentally over the last few months. I am impressed that you blocked me out entirely. I could hardly feel you at all.”

“It was painful to block our connection,” she said in a raspy voice she didn’t recognize.

“Come, darling. We should get you water and a snack. Did you finish dinner before you stormed out?”

“No.”

Bella laughed loudly. “Well I am glad that you’ve got your priorities sorted.” She stood pulling the young witch up with her fully prepared to support her weight, but was pleasantly surprised when Hermione intertwined their fingers for the walk back to the house. The dark witch enjoyed the hazel eyes watching her with rapt attention as she mended the garden on the way back to the house.

“I love watching you do magic. It's… breathtaking,” Hermione said breathily.

“And I love watching you do many things, little witch.”

The young witch blushed deeply and tried to focus on the walk to the house instead of what the fight and crucio awoke in her body.

“Please tell me that I did not see a fire sprout in my garden,” Narcissa said coldly.

“It was just a little one,” Hermione said questioningly.

“Cissy, she summoned it wandlessly. It was fiendfyre.”

“Well. That's different, not to mention very impressive. When did you have time to practice such a spell?”

“I didn’t,” Hermione replied attempting not to make eye contact.

“You didn’t practice?” The blonde was clearly struggling to moderate her tone and volume. “That was your first attempt?”

“I had read about it a few months ago. Bella was starting to penetrate my protection spell. I had to do something flashy, but it didn’t go as planned. I had to drop it entirely to conjure the fire. Unfortunately she hit me with a crucio.”

“Which she also wandlessly got out of,” the dark witch said proudly.

“That almost makes interrupting our first dinner as a reunited family excusable. But I suppose if you will come in and eat now, then certain allowances can be made.”

“Thank you, Cissy,” Hermione said affectionately kissing her on the cheek.

Chapter Text

As always the early morning preparations for the Dark Lord were more involved than any average day at Malfoy Manor. Narcissa had woken the exhausted couple just before dawn. Had she been anyone else, Hermione would have been mortified at her appearance while the young witch was still quite naked and wrapped in her lover’s arms.

“Any other morning, Hermione, your anxiety might be warranted.” The blonde surveyed them critically. They were a painfully attractive couple. It was clear from their current state that they had relied on their physicality to work through their conflict from the evening before. She watched with barely hidden delight as both women stretched under the thin sheet. It both revealed and concealed their bodies in delightful ways. “Now if you two are done dawdling, please get into the shower. I will have clothes lying out for you. We only have an hour.”

“Very well. Don’t strain yourself, Cissy.” Bella rose and stalked unabashedly into the bathroom. Hermione had the decency to at least blush, but she was no more shy than her wife. She reveled in the feeling of the usually cold blue eyes consuming the curves of her back as she walked. The stare made her feel incredibly powerful.

The witches washed quickly and returned to the bedroom. As promised two complementary and beautiful dresses were already laid out for them. The blonde sat in a chair overlooking the garden. She didn’t turn to greet them, though as they chattered there was no chance she was unaware of their presence. When she at last allowed her eyes to rest on them, they were clad in very attractive lingerie and in the process of pulling on their dresses. She rose to assist Bella in getting her dress on. She delicately fastened the buttons up her sister’s spine, enjoying that she leaned back into the touch. By the time she had finished, Hermione was already dressed and staring at them. The crooked smile on her face was more than vaguely flirtatious. It seemed as though the young witch was enjoying the view.

With Narcissa’s assistance, the witches were ready in time to greet their Lord. The two witches walked down together to find the Malfoys and the Dark Lord conversing. When their heels clicked on the hardwood floor, Voldemort turned to greet them. Though he didn’t smile, Hermione saw the affectionate look in his eyes and walked directly to him leaving her wife a step behind her.

“My Lord,” she said as she reached him. She kissed both of his cheeks in a warm greeting. “It has been far too long. I am very glad to see you.”

“And I, you, Madame Black,” he replied affectionately squeezing her shoulder. “Good Morning, Bella.”

The dark witch inclined her head respectfully and silently followed the pair into the sunroom for breakfast.

“It is nice to see such a lovely family reunited,” the dark wizard said smoothly.

“Thanks entirely to you My Lord,” Bella said quietly. “There is nothing we can do to thank you enough.”

“It is in no way necessary, Bellatrix. I’ve only done what was appropriate. Though of course it means that I will continue to ask things of you.”

“It is our honor, My Lord,” Lucius answered.

“So it is, my friend. Since you all appear so willing, allow me to cut to the chase. The four of you are going on a raid tonight. Bella will take the lead of course. And take Greyback with you as well.”

“May I ask where we are going, My Lord?” Hermione asked quietly.

He smiled at her indulgently. She had become something akin to a favorite niece over the last year. He struggled to deny her anything she wanted, fortunately she never put him in compromising positions. He never regretted the time he saved her life. She was a great asset to him, beyond just her power in battle. “At least you’ve remained curious throughout the fall. You will be dropping in on a small Christmas gathering at the Weasley’s house. They’ve been giving you a hard time, have they not?”

“They have, my Lord.”

“Then this is time for you to extract a bit of revenge. Let me be clear. I am not requesting any bodies at this time. Make them nervous. Destroy property, create mayhem. Make sure they know it was done at my command.”

“It will be our pleasure,” the dark witch purred. She had been gunning to be able to do something about the Order’s relentless perusal of what was so clearly hers. She would finally be able to act.

He nodded knowingly. He had held this task until just the right moment. He needed his fighters tightly wound for this particular fight. A possessive wild Bellatrix Black was a force to be reckoned with. Her initiation of the attack would be burned into the Order’s memory and it would make the Death Eaters seem even more powerful.


 

The raid preparation ritual calmed Hermione’s nerves. She enjoyed the feeling of her wife’s steady hands as she helped her into her uniform. Not only would the magically enhanced cloth help keep her safe, the gentle application made her feel clothed in love. She wondered if there would be a time when she would have to go into battle without the fierce and beautiful brunette at her elbow. Fortunately that day was not today. Arms encircled her from behind signifying that she was ready to go.

“Shall we, little witch?”

“Yes. I am ready.” Hermione shuddered lightly at the cackle from her wife. It was unnerving in both its insanity and attractiveness.

“Good. Let's collect the others and we will be off. It's dark out, so we can go whenever we are ready. And the sooner we get back, the sooner we can plan for Christmas.”

“I am certain that Christmas is exactly what’s on your mind,” Hermione answered sarcastically.

In a falsely innocent voice the dark witch said, “But what else would I be be thinking of?”

She might have even gotten away with the white lie had her hands not been simultaneously exploring Hermione’s chest.

“Come, Bella. Or we will never leave.”

They met their small cohort on the lawn in front of the mansion. The members were similarly cloaked in black and their silver masks. Hermione only recognized them by their body language.

“The plan is as follows,” Bellatrix said slowly. “I will go in first. I will encircle the house in fire and taunt them out. I will lead them directly into the clearing where you all will be waiting for me. Let them throw a few spells. Don’t hit them with anything too damaging. Once we’ve got them worked up, we will burn down the house. Clear?”

The four heads nodded in solidarity waiting for the dark witch to continue.

“Greyback, I am trusting you to transport my wife there. Do. Not. Disappoint. Me. I will gather her in the clearing and will transport her back myself. Lucius, you and Draco are together.”

Hermione stepped towards the towering Death Eater. He was thoroughly fierce looking, but he deeply respected Bella which was enough to earn the young witch’s trust. Before placing her arm into his to apparate, she looked up into the only lit window on this side of the house. She nodded slightly to the familiar figure standing there in hope that the blonde witch would recognize it for the goodbye it was.

The pull of apparition ended in a very moist landing. Of course Bellatrix had not mentioned they would be going to a swamp. She did notice that her boots and clothing were repelling the water. Clever witch. It did explain one of the reasons why she had insisted on dressing Hermione. As planned, Greyback moved away a few paces as they waited. In the distance the young witch could hear the crackling of fire and the splashing of several people running through the water. But it was the sing song tone of her wife’s voice saying over and over again “I killed Sirius Black.” The young witch was relieved at the appearance of the flying dark curls. She would never stop worrying for her warrior’s safety. Bella greeted her with a sly smile and a nod to raise her wand.

Just a few moments later two sodden teenagers entered the clearing spinning madly. They stood back to back and began throwing wild spells at random intervals. It was clear that they didn’t have a full grasp of the magic they were performing. The small contingency of Death Eaters took turns firing off weak spells from around the circle. They never shot from the same location adding to the confusion of the teens. The fight became a bit more intense when two of the adult order members caught up after having managed to get through Bella’s ring of fire. The dark witch allowed the intensity of the fight to escalate. When it reached a pinnacle, she whistled lowly indicating it was the time for their departure. Hermione immediately wrapped her arms around her wife and closed her eyes preparing to be transported. The lurch was harder than usual and she realized that they were traveling much faster than usual. She was surprised when she heard the non-verbal command for her to unleash fiendfyre without a wand on the odd little home. She complied without a thought.

Five pairs of boots hit the gravel of the driveway at practically the same moment. Hermione found herself encircled by loudly celebrating Death Eaters. She smiled warmly, but said nothing. They were so wrapped up in their celebration that they didn’t seem to notice. They walked back into the Manor discussing the incompetence of the Order happily. As they crossed into the home, the happy group started making their way to the dining room to celebrate. Hermione paused sensing something was a little off. She went instead to the library. Illuminated by the light of the fire, Narcissa stared intently at the small blaze. The young witch stripped off her outer robe and mask, dropping them carelessly on the floor. She stowed her wand and sat close to the blonde watching her intently.

“Everyone is safe?” Narcissa asked in a detached and sad voice.

“Yes. And celebrating.”

“Why are you not with them?”

Hermione paused, because in truth she wasn’t entirely sure. “I felt like I needed to be here. I don’t have a better explanation. I am sorry.”

“Don’t think me ungrateful, dear one. I am glad you are here,” the blonde said reaching out to pull the young witch against her. She smiled when she felt the young body relax into the embrace.

“I am sorry this is so hard on you, Cissy. I can’t imagine what sitting here and waiting is like. This is the first time we have come back uninjured. And what's worse is no one rushed to tell you we were ok.”

“You found me soon enough.”

“I’ll make sure it is a standard part of procedure going forward. There is no reason to cause you any additional distress.”

“That is very kind,” the blonde said running her fingers through the girl’s hair.

“Do you want to join the others? I know they will be happy to see you.”

“In a few minutes. I would like to stay here just a bit longer, if that is ok with you,” Narcissa responded carefully.

“That sounds delightful.” The young witch snuggled closer to the warmth offered by the blonde and allowed her mind to clear for the first time in 24 hours.

Chapter Text

Hermione woke on Christmas before even the first tendrils of light peaked over the horizon. She conjured a fire in the fireplace to warm the frozen air of the room. The dancing light allowed her to see the relaxed face of her wife. Sleep soothed away the ever present vigilance of the waking hours. The past several days had been pleasant. After carrying out the mission, the little family settled into the holiday traditions Hermione was introduced to the year before. This year was, of course, different. Gone were the days of the shy hesitancy that defined the young witch’s life before meeting Bella. The sweet family that surrounded her accepted her more wholly than she could have ever imagined even in her best dreams. And the aching emptiness that she had lived with since she was a small child simply disappeared. And in its place a wild, powerful woman had firmly rooted herself.

The day before the entire family had a wonderful trip to Diagon Alley to shop for one another. The character of the shopping area had changed with the coming war. Bella had thoughtfully warned her that she led a few raids to the area. The young witch knew her wife well enough to read between the lines. She was pleasantly surprised to find that her favorite shops were still in tact. The dark witch had smiled and winked. Lucius informed her that the “right kind” of people ran their favorite establishments. She looked to Narcissa for interpretation as had become such a habit over the past few months. The blonde quirked her lips slightly at the familiar reliance and stepped closer to be able to speak quietly. She patiently explained that they were pureblood run and were in no way funding the rebellion.

The small group playfully shopped for their gifts, pairing off and repairing off until they had purchased everything they needed. They spent the evening ensconced in the library together. Draco, Lucius and Severus spent hours involved in some sort of wizarding chess tournament, which at times included a lot of shouting. The witches sat on the large leather couch in front of the fireplace. Hermione snuggled into Bella’s arms. For hours they listened to Narcissa read to them from a book of ancient celtic magical myths. Finally they’d all succumed to exhaustion and retreated to their respective bedrooms. As relaxed as Hermione felt downstairs in the company of her family, once her wife was asleep she became restless.

Hermione gently ran her fingertips over the strong features of her lover’s face. The touch was light enough it didn’t wake the slumbering woman. The young witch craved the closeness, but wasn’t ready to face what she was feeling out loud. There was a distinct ache in her chest that just wouldn’t let her rest. For all of the great joy in her life, the feeling of deep permanent loss crept into her heart. It had almost been an entire year since she walked into her childhood home and taken the memories of the people who raised her. She shuddered at the idea that she no longer thought of them as her parents. It wasn’t because they hadn’t earned the title, in the countless hours of love and care they could not have treated her better. No. It wasn’t the behavior of the Grangers.

It was Hermione who was unworthy to refer to them in such a manner. The course of her life had meant the need to destroy theirs. She believed, hoped really, that they were still both living and well. She trusted Narcissa and Lucius would tell her if the worst had occurred. They wouldn’t keep such a thing from her. But the young witch hadn’t dared to even inquire about the Grangers. She feared the truth. She feared losing the new family she formed, knowing the question alone might appear as though she was ungrateful for all that she had now. She felt the deception of that night when she sent them far away. They were warm and curious about her year. They were kind about things they didn’t understand and could scarcely believe. With disappearances and deaths at the Order’s hands, she didn’t feel like she had any other options. It wasn’t as though one could just bring muggles home to Malfoy Manor.

She wasn’t aware of the shaking sobs coursing through her body until warm soft hands started wiping them away from her face. The still sleepy body pulled her into the crook of her neck. Hermione could never resist any offering of love from the dark witch. She sunk into the embrace, holding on tightly even as she continued to sob. Fingers sifted silently through her hair.

“You will be ok, my darling.”

“How can you be so sure, Bella? How can you even stand to be near me? How can you trust me not to betray you in the same way?”

“Oh, little witch,” she breathed out. “You are the other part of my soul. The trust comes naturally. And I will never let you betray me. I will go wherever you go. Being apart simply isn’t an option.”

“I am not worthy of this,” the young witch cried softly.

“And I am? Hermione look at me. Remember who I am. What I have done. What I have survived to get to this moment. I am no innocent.”

“Perhaps not, but you are perfect,” she responded reverently running a finger over the soft red lips.

“For you, perhaps, but not in general.”

A sharp knock at the door halted the playful fight that was about to erupt. The blonde witch strode in quickly, but paused a few steps into the room.

“I didn’t expect to find you two awake so early.”

“What were you planning, Cissy? To sneak into our bed?”

“I’ve certainly heard worse ideas,” the blonde declared, closing the distance. She dropped her outer robe and slipped between the sheets in a sinfully short silk nightgown. Placing a slightly possessive hand on Hermione’s warm stomach she continued,

“What is wrong that has you both awake and talking so early? Have you been crying?”

Hermione took a deep breath before whispering. “I haven’t been able to stop thinking of the Grangers over the last week. I feel terrible.”

“They are safe, you know,” the blonde answered the unasked question while tucking a stray hair behind the young witch’s ear.

“She still feels suffocatingly guilty,” Bella interjected. “Trust me.”

Narcissa rolled her eyes indulgently. “As least you are learning some breadth of emotion, dear sister. But Hermione, you cannot cling to guilt. It will destroy you from the inside out. You made a terribly difficult decision. Without a doubt it saved their lives. Though they don’t remember you, they are incredibly happy and they will never be found or in danger. That was a selfless gift. You gave up your relationship with them so that they would live. The fact that your life has improved by becoming a part of my family has nothing to do with that. You would have been ours even if the Grangers remained where they were. This,” she said gesturing to the two women in the bed and then around the opulent room. “This was inevitable. You are where you were always meant to be. You had to live through a number of things to find your way here to us, but you would have found your way regardless. Even if I had to come and drag you personally to Bella’s bed.”

“Cissy is right, love. You are where you belong. I need for you to be able to move forward with us. You must let go of this pain. It can only fuel you so far. Trust me I have tested the limits of its motivation personally.”

“I will try,” Hermione finally answered.

“That's all we are asking,” the dark witch replied quickly. Deftly she turned Hermione in her arms so that she was facing Narcissa. The young witch quickly tucked her head into the neck of the blonde and wrapped her arms around her torso, pressing impossibly close to the beautiful witch. She exhaled deeply when Bella’s arms encircled her from behind.

“Sleep, little witch,” the blonde whispered soothingly. “We will wake you in a few hours.”

Chapter Text

Hermione woke swathed in warmth. She was still pressed tightly against the silk clad body with two sets of arms firmly around her. She didn’t open her eyes, but listened to the two witches whispering, trying to make out what they were saying through a sleep fogged brain.

“No reason to pretend to be asleep, love. I can feel when you wake,” her wife said chuckling.

“I wasn’t pretending,” she answered somewhat petulantly.

“That doesn’t explain you trying to enter my mind,” Bellatrix cooed quietly.

“Hermione,” Narcissa said entering the fray, “I was under the impression that you were going to be well behaved during break. After all, you faced no consequences for last night. I am not sure exactly how far you expect that sort of generosity to reach.”

“I just wanted to know what was going on. I understand better through our connection, Bella,” the young witch mumbled against a pale collarbone, kissing lightly.

“As touching as that explanation is, little witch,” the blonde began, lightly tracing her fingertips over the bare back. “You still seem somewhat unrepentant. Perhaps we need to teach her a lesson, Bellatrix.”

Hermione felt the naked witch behind her laugh. She melted when soft lips attached to her neck from behind. The simple touch had her body buzzing faster than she could even have imagined. The dark witch held her hips still, keeping her from moving to relieve any growing pressure. Narcissa had moved her hands to the young witch’s front. For every bit that Bella was gentle, the blonde was rough and possessive. She consumed all of the available skin save the one place where she was most desperately needed.

Hermione moaned in relief when the blonde finally captured in her a searing kiss, only to be sorely disappointed when the woman pulled back and climbed from the bed.

“We should all get ready for the day now, I think.” Narcissa paused just as she was about to leave the room and strode quickly back to the bed. She planted a light kiss on Hermione’s lips and cupped her face affectionately. “That was just a warning, dear one. Be good and we will consider finishing what we started, but that will be much much later.”

The young witch collapsed back into the now still arms of her wife.

“Have you learned your lesson, little one?” the dark witch asked playfully.

“Oh most definitely,” Hermione answered giggling. “Although, you know I am going to be aching for you all day long.” She rolled to face her wife, pressing their bodies tightly together. She rubbed against the leg she was straddling. “Of course, unless you would like to help me out.”

Bella kissed her deeply, pressing firmly between Hermione’s spread legs. “That is tempting, my darling. But I am afraid that is entirely the opposite of the point. Now be a good girl and get up.”

The young witch groaned loudly and got out of bed.


 

Hermione was nearly able to forget her earlier frustrations in the familial celebrations. By the time the two witches made it downstairs their family was waiting. Lucius led them into the library. As she had been the year before, she was taken back by the sheer warmth of the decorations. Fresh garland hung over the fireplace. The golden balls sparkled reflecting the fire light. A large tree sat in front of the bay windows overlooking the garden. Candles magically hovered over the branches giving it an ethereal glow. The shining faces of those dearest to her welcomed her farther into the room.

“We almost sent my mum back upstairs to retrieve you,” Draco teased.

Hermione glared openly. “It was not at all necessary. I was simply enjoying the company of my wife on our first Christmas together as a married couple.”

“Ah, I must have hit a bit too close to the truth for comfort,” the blonde wizard said turning towards his father. “Her most basic defensive position is to attempt to gross me out by talking about my aunt romantically.”

“Watch yourself, Draco. I would be pleased to up the ante,” Bellatrix said walking to her young wife’s side.

“That won’t be required. You two are just in time for Christmas tea,” Narcissa said ushering them towards the seating area. “I forgot to tell you earlier that we have a guest this year.”

Before Hermione could ask who it could be, Severus stood and took a step towards her. She paused just a moment before throwing herself into his arms. While at school, the two were unable to demonstrate any sort of affection. Seeing him at Christmas was like seeing the real him for the first time in months.

“Happy Christmas, Madame Black,” he drawled once he regained his breath from nearly being tackled.

“I am happy you could join us, Snape,” Bella added smoothly to her old friend. She was happy to welcome him into their little family. She felt no jealousy at seeing her wife in his arms, in no small part because since Lily Evans he swore off women. There had been a number of inconsequential men, from what Cissy told her. She saw in his eyes the fatherly affection he held only for Hermione. She was fortunate to be able to trust a part of her heart to someone she and the Dark Lord held in such high regard. She had no doubt that his place at their side would be important when the final battle came.

“I was delighted to have been invited, Bella. You have a wonderful family.”

“That I do. It's hard to believe that we’ve only really been together a year,” the dark witch answered.

“It's unfathomable to me that two years ago you were in Azkaban and we had never even heard Hermione’s name,” Lucius added.

“Thank goodness this year is less overwhelming,” Hermione said under her breath.

“Is it?” Narcissa asked. She even surprised herself with her atypical curiosity.

The young witch laughed beautifully. She carefully set down her tea as her hysterics were causing her hands to shake badly. “I’m sorry, Cissy. I didn’t mean to laugh. You all really want me to explain?”

The Malfoys and Bellatrix were confused by why she would even ask. It wasn’t clear to them in the slightest what was overwhelming about the year before. Snape simply smirked in his way. He loved his pureblooded friends, but they really did have their heads up their arses about what was considered “normal.”

Hermione softened the look of amusement on her face not wanting to belittle those she loved for asking a question.

“This time last year, you lot told me that I was the long lost daughter of two Irish freedom fighters, an heiress to a rather large fortune, a pureblooded witch, and the soulmate of the most infamous deatheater. To be honest, I was a little taken aback.”

“Well…. when you say it like that,” Bellatrix said slowly.

“Oh no. Don’t misunderstand me, my love,” Hermione said speaking directly to her lover. “I adore how overwhelming you all are. I have never felt so loved or so cherished when I am in the company of my family. And I know so long as I am here I will never be bored.”

The young witch watched with pleasure as her wife preened at the compliment. She truly had no desire to hurt any of their feelings, but it was a complicated thing to explain to a group of people who had lived such an isolated experience for generations.

“You have to remember, my darlings, that this time last year I understood essentially nothing about our family, my power or the world in which we live. I was so afraid that I would wake up from the pleasant dream and you all would be nothing but a figment of my imagination. Overnight I had gained so much, and even as a witch it felt like it was more than even magic could account for. I feared that if I messed up or stepped out of line that you all would cast me away. That you would all finally wake up to the idea that I wasn’t actually good enough for you or that I was a fraud. So as much as I enjoyed Christmas together last year, it wasn’t without a good deal of stress.”

“There was never any chance of that,” the dark witch spoke softly. “I knew here.” She pointed to her chest. “You were ours from the day you were born and you will be until the day that you die.”

“They were quite nervous too,” Draco chimed in. He ignored the extreme look of disapproval on his mother’s face. “They worried that you might reject the idea of being associated with us or that you might find other offers that were just as appealing. I’ve never seen my mother in such a state, well perhaps until the wedding.”

“Suffice it to say that this year is much more relaxed and enjoyable.” Lucius raised his glass of brandy as he spoke, toasting the good fortune.


 

Christmas dinner was delightful. The food was incredible and plentiful. The small group laughed their way through the meal and exchange of gifts. In their own way, each individual took time to appreciate all that they had this year. It remained unspoken, yet ever looming, that the acceleration of their cause was about to occur. Hints had been dropped that before the teenagers returned to school the plan for the final unraveling of the Order would be executed. And the six around the table would be central to it all. They might never have such an opportunity again and so they reveled in the time they had.

Chapter Text

The day before the New Year's Ball was predictably chaotic. Hermione had been doing her best to avoid the most severe of Narcissa’s moods. It was clear that the pressure this year was even greater than in the past. Though they hadn’t yet been given in depth orders, it was clear that the event was going to be an important piece of the mounting conflict. Even in the outbursts of intense anger and frustration, Hermione found the blonde gorgeous. She’d already endured a final fitting of her gown for the next evening. The appointment itself was a practical necessity, but the blonde’s touches were intentionally provoking. With the excuse of showing the seamstress where the dress should be altered, Narcissa publically and intimately handled the young witch. Bellatrix grinned smugly from her seat across the room as Hermione attempted not to squirm from the attention. Narcissa and Bellatrix seemed to be falling into the unfortunate habit of stoking Hermione’s arousal, but never allowed her completion. If it continued, she realized she should have to take decisive action.

Any plotting was put on hold when her wife strode purposefully into the room. The coming action clearly agreed with the woman. She was practically glowing with anticipation. As she saw Hermione, her face broke out in an impossibly big smile. The open affection was irresistible. The young witch rose in expectation of an embrace. As the dark witch reached her, she wasn’t disappointed. Even after brief separations she was treated to enthusiastic greetings.

“Hello, my darling,” Bellatrix cooed in her ear.

“Hi, love.” The brunette’s response was breathy and light. The amount of love her wife provided was beyond even her wildest dreams.

“I see Cissy is in a mood.”

The young witch hummed in agreement watching the frantically rushing blonde. Before she could voice a response, her entire body was overcome with a powerful sensation. In a moment of panic, she stared at her wife. It was rare the dark witch shared sensations with her that weren’t seductive. It wasn’t exactly painful but it felt incredibly urgent.

“He is calling,” Bella said simply holding out her mark in explanation.

Simultaneously Draco and Lucius entered the room with purpose. “He wants us all,” Lucius declared crossing the room to his wife.

The dark witch extended her arm to her wife in order to apparate them away.

“You know I can transport myself, right?”

Bellatrix turned slowly. Her eyes were colder than Hermione had seem them in many days. “I am well aware of your abilities. But without a mark you won’t know where we are going.” She illustrated her point by gesturing to Narcissa holding on to Lucius’ arm.

“Sorry,” Hermione whispered stepping firmly into her wife’s arms instead of standing at her side, burying her face in soft curls. “I will go anywhere you take me.”

“That you will.” They reappeared in an antechamber to the throne room.

The Dark Lord temporarily relocated his headquarters away from Malfoy Manor to allow the small family quality time together. Had he still been human, he would have been tempted to dismiss everyone else and join them. But as he was unable to feel anything aside from ambition, it seemed a waste of everyone’s time to attempt it. He would return after the ball for the remainder of the school year or perhaps the entire war.

Severus stood at his side as the others finally entered. He hadn’t ever planned to have the conversation he was about to begin. He’d not considered the possibility of having an advantage like Hermione and Bellatrix, nor had he considered that he would have an inner circle he trusted enough to share such a critical secret.

“My Lord,” Bellatrix said leading the small group in. They bowed in deference a few feet from the table at which he sat.

“Good evening. Have a seat. We have much to discuss and I suspect that there are still a few last minute preparations for tomorrow that will require your attention.” He watched carefully as Narcissa tensed. She was obviously under a great deal of stress. No matter. What he was about to discuss would most certainly distract them all, if not for a few moments. He looked at the faces around the table. The open expressions of curiosity were endearing. He knew if he were to probe at any of their minds, no defenses would be raised. This group of people had entirely committed to him.

“I am afraid that we must begin with a secret keeper oath. While none of you would ever betray me of your own will, we cannot risk the possibility of one of you disclosing information under duress.” He nodded to Severus who immediately drew his wand. He observed the efficient administration with his closest approximation of affection.

“Excellent. As you might have already guessed this piece of information is not widely known. Only a handful suspect and until now, no one will have confirmation.” He paused to gauge their reactions. Pleased that they had been drawn in, he pressed on. “When I was a young man, I realized that to achieve the sort of power I sought, I would be continually hunted. And so it was a necessity for me to devise a protection strategy that would make it damn near impossible to kill me. Obviously I was correct, as you all know so well. My choice was not without consequences. When I split my soul, I lost the human parts of me. It was gradual to the point that I didn’t notice at first. It was a necessary sacrifice. Unfortunately I have reasons to believe my secret will soon become known to the Order and it will cause an additional vulnerability.” He paused to allow his words to sink in.

“You created horcruxes?” Hermione asked immediately.

“You are correct, Madame Black.”

“Who knows, my Lord?” Lucius asked.

“Dumbledore, for one. The escapade with the diary did not escape his notice. I learned recently that it was entirely destroyed. I believe he has another in his possession. He has not yet managed to get past its defensives and it has caused him some damage. I believe it is only a matter of time before he is able to confirm it. Then he will tell the Potter brat and all of the horcuxes will be in jeopardy.”

“I vote we kill the old man,” Bellatrix offered.

“In time, Bella. But as we have discussed, you must be patient.”

“Who else knows?” Hermione pressed sensing there was more.

“Our dear potions professor. When I was a student, I once asked him about the consequences of such a decision. He has done a marvelous job of keeping my secret thus far. But the headmaster has been stepping up the pressure on him.”

“Which is why Draco and I have been wooing him. Why he must attend tomorrow. Why he must take the oath.” Hermione finished his thought.

“Well put. He needs to do so tomorrow. But he must be willing or it will not work. Hermione, I will rely on you to ensure this happens.”

“Yes, my Lord,” she answered sincerely.

“Then there is the matter of the horcruxes. I believe that I will be better protected if they are directly under our control. Unfortunately in the years of my absence, they were scattered across Great Britain. Lucius and Bella, begin your research. Then we will discuss plans to retrieve each one in time. Severus will share the list with you. Draco, the vanishing cabinet is still your primary focus. It will be incredibly important in the coming months. And finally, Madame Malfoy, I will return to the Manor after the New Year. In the past you’ve been relegated to medic duties, however, your participation in direct conflict will be inevitable. I trust that you can prepare yourself appropriately.”

“Of course, my Lord,” the very shocked blonde replied.

“There is much to do. Off you all go. I will see you all tomorrow evening.”

“Thank you, my Lord,” they chanted in unison.

Chapter Text

The Malfoy and Black Families stepped out of the fireplace buzzing with energy. Though the command of their leader meant an increase in risk to their lives, it also meant an end to the limbo they had been living in for months. The clear set of goals and information to start from would be enough to keep them happily occupied for several months.

“Father,” Draco managed to say over the excited conversation. “I fancy a trip to Borgin and Burkes. I reckon I need to check in on our friend there.”

“You know I like a good shopping trip,” the blonde wizard replied amiably. He didn’t dare say it out loud, but he desperately wanted to escape the rather frantic and unnecessary last minute actions of his wife.

“Lucius,” Bella joined in immediately. “This might be a good opportunity to start inquiring about certain pieces.”

The blonde witch spun to face the three as though they were engaging in an act of treason. Before she could begin a rant, the Malfoy men were moving towards the fireplace.

The dark witch scooped her wife up into her arms, kissing her soundly. Before she released her she quietly said, “Stay and help Cissy. Do whatever necessary to ensure she is calmer by the time we return.” With a quick wink she was gone, following her brother-in-law and nephew.

Hermione took a deep breath to steel herself for the onslaught that was bound to come. The blonde had been difficult to be around since Christmas. With the rest of the family jumping ship, it was likely she would be positively unmanageable.

“It is enlightening to see their priorities. And yours, little witch. But why exactly is it that you remain?” While it may have sounded like a question, there wasn’t a pause in conversation in which Hermione could have answered. “Because your wife commanded that you do it?”

“Do you think so little of me, Narcissa? I am here because it is the right thing to do. Convenient that it aligned with Bella’s wishes. But honestly my muggle parents may not have understood me, but they did at least raise me to have manners. Now what do you need help with? I am not going to be your punching bag because they didn’t do what you want.” By the end of her speech, the young witch was shaking with anger and a little fear. She didn’t want to anger the blonde or further hurt her feelings, but there was a limit to the amount of abuse Hermione was willing to take on behalf of the others.

Narcissa blinked rapidly and raised an eyebrow in disbelief. The witch had only spoken to her in that tone once before, just before she “apologized.”

“Very well. We should decorate above the dance floor. You did bother to bring your wand, didn’t you?”

“Yes, I have it,” she answered through gritted teeth. The blonde was well aware that Hermione could do the magic efficiently with or without the piece of wood. The comment was simple condescension. She took a deep breath willing herself not to give into her anger. It was clear that the witch was agitated and attempting to goad her into action.

“Very well then. Come along. We don’t have time for dawdling.”

“Yes, Narcissa,” Hermione answered hoping that she kept all traces of sarcasm from her voice. As annoying as the woman was being, she didn’t have any desire to really piss her off. The young witch wasn’t exactly sure how to handle that without the buffer that was her wife. After all, Bella had years to learn the intricacies of the blonde's moods and whims. Without her, Hermione was flying blind.

The two witches walked through the large house quickly. The room had largely already been converted for the ball. Hermione suspected that Narcissa specifically left some of the work to be done in the evening so that she would have something to do with her nerves that was productive.

“Now, please do pay attention, Hermione. It shouldn’t be too hard since your wife is far away. I know that you can’t focus when she is near.”

Hermione suppressed a growl at the comment.

“I only want to tell you this once,” the blonde continued seemingly unaffected by the young witch’s reaction to her mood. “I am trusting you to hang the stars. I want them at various heights below the ceiling. They should be no closer than one meter from the ceiling and no farther than three. I expect it to be accurate and aesthetically pleasing. You will re-do it until I am satisfied.”

“Yes. I am sure I will,” the young witch muttered under her breath unable to contain her irritation.

“I’m sorry, Madame Black, but I couldn’t quite make that out,” the blonde cooed in false affection.

“I will do my very best,” Hermione answered clearly.

“Good. Don’t dally.” Narcissa turned and strode away.

Hermione sighed while looking at the stack of golden stars. She could easily put them all up in one go, but then that would mean that she would have nothing to do for the rest of the evening and that sounded simply disastrous. While there were likely other things to do, it would mean more insensitive commands. Within half an hour she had a dozen of them hung perfectly, or at least so she believed. She was so focused on hanging them, that she didn’t hear the blonde witch approaching her again.

“Is that really all you have managed to get done since I have been gone. And did you even check the heights at all?” Narcissa said immediately launching into a series of criticism.

Hermione tensed at the tone of voice. She had the good sense to tuck her wand into the waistband of her pants lest she break it accidentaly in anger.

“Narcissa,” she warned. When the blonde didn’t stop her diatribe, the young witch turned her back and refocused on the stars. Closing her eyes she lifted them all at once, arranging them quickly.

“Why in Merlin’s name didn’t you just do that to begin with!?” the older witch practically screeched.

“That is quite enough, Cissy. Stop this instant or I will make you.”

“You? You can’t make me do anything.”

The young witch stepped into the blonde’s personal space. She gently pet her hair for a moment before grasping it tightly at the nape of the woman’s neck. “Oh now, Narcissa, not even you believe that. Do you think you can contain yourself enough that we can finish this?”

“I am entirely within control. I don’t appreciate what you are insinuating.”

Hermione suppressed a chuckle. The angle at which she held the woman’s head indicated anything but control. “Then we will deal with this here. Do you think I should be generous and ward this room?”

The blonde scoffed and rolled her eyes. That reaction was the final push that drove the young witch into action. She released the hand in the woman’s hair and swept her feet out from under her. She muttered a spell just in time to keep the woman from hitting the floor hard, but the threat was certainly there. Hermione knelt down, placing a firm hand on the witch’s sternum forcing her flush against the floor as she settled her hips on the blonde’s. She paused to enjoy the shock and lust reflecting in the blue eyes.

“I think I like you this way, Cissy. You look quite nice prostrate on the dance floor.”

“Let me up,” the blonde ground out.

Hermione studied her face quietly before leaning down to capture the soft lips in a searing kiss. “I could let you up. But this will have to be dealt with tonight. Either you can let me determine how to proceed or we can wait for Bella to get back. I am happy to allow her to take care of our little issue.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Narcissa whispered against her lips, leaning up for another rough kiss.

The young witch allowed her to linger for a moment before pulling back. “I most certainly will. I know that Bella has taken you in hand before. I can’t say I wouldn’t enjoy watching. My wife is delightfully devious.” The brunette couldn’t repress the smile at the thought of letting Bella “handle” it. It wasn’t how she saw this playing out, but there were certainly less appealing things to consider. Happily she felt the woman beneath her relax a fraction and she knew that waiting for the dark witch wouldn't be necessary.

“At the very least could you get me up off this hard cold floor?” the blonde demanded. Her voice was thin in a last ditch attempt to grasp control.

“Oh I don’t think so. I think you are precisely where you deserve to be, Narcissa. On the floor on your back. You’ve been rather unmanageable, don’t you agree? And you certainly are in need of an attitude adjustment. So be a good witch.”

The blonde let out a breath and let her eyes drift shut as possessive nimble hands worked at the fastenings of the front of her dress. With seemingly little effort, her chest was exposed and being treated indelicately. She shivered as nails bit into her sides almost hard enough to draw blood.

“You will not hide from me, Narcissa. Open your eyes. You need to know exactly who is handling you this way.”

The blonde whimpered at the force of the words and the actions of the never still hands. Her body was in a near frenzy. Her hips were already rocking fruitlessly up in search of friction. She forced her eyes open. She was met with a knowing and proud smirk, the girl certainly was a Black.

“Are you ready to admit that you need this?” Hermione purred in condescension at the writhing woman.

Narcissa bit her lip to prevent herself from speaking. She needed what Hermione was suffering terribly. In fact, she needed it days ago, but was far too proud to ask for it.

“Narcissa,” the girl said melodically. “Just say the words, and my fingers will be in you. I can make you feel so good. But you have to give in.”

The blonde’s entire body shook with desire and yearning. She fought against her most basic instincts as fingers played across her torso touching everywhere but where she needed it most.

“Merlin, Hermione. Please.”

“Please, what?” the young witch asked playfully.

The older witch paused, trying to find words. She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t notice her skirt was being lifted until two fingers were halfway inside of her and a moan ripped from her lungs.


 

Hours later the shoppers returned home. They carried with them a surprisingly large number of packages. They found the two witches putting the final touches of the decorations up. There was a collective sigh of relief when Narcissa turned and smiled slightly before returning to her task. Bellatrix walked to her wife, delivering a tender kiss.

“I see you did as I asked,” the dark witch whispered. “I believe that means you deserve a reward.”

Hermione shuddered slightly and melted into the embrace.

Chapter Text

Hermione was relieved that there was no grand entrance to the Ball for her this year. She and Bellatrix would still likely be the center of attention, but at least she didn’t have to try not to fall down the stairs. She watched enraptured as her beautiful wife got ready for the event. The effortless ease with which the woman oozed sensuality never failed to amaze her. Watching her prepare to seduce the masses was delightful. Not to mention that Hermione was on the receiving end of several mischievous and alluring smirks as the corset was laced and eye makeup was applied. Before lipstick was applied, Bella pushed her up against the cabinet and kissed her breathless. The teasing smile promised more after work was done.

The young witch walked arm in arm with her wife into the decorated hall. She knew they made a beautiful pair, a fact driven home by the number of eyes on them. The stars she hung from the ceiling glittered beautifully in the candle light. Once again, Narcissa had outdone herself. Hermione did a quick scan of the room and found the potions professor looking a bit out of place. With a quick tug, she pulled her wife in his direction. She wanted to successfully complete the task set out before her, so that she could enjoy the fringe benefits of being a Black before the night was over.

“Professor Slughorn,” Hermione said brightly.

“Madames Black.” He smiled in awe, but couldn’t take his eyes off of the dark witch.

“Professor,” she purred indulgently. “It's been far too long.”

“Indeed it has, Bellatrix. You look well.”

“As do you, sir. But I am honored that you remember me. You’ve taught so many over the years at Hogwarts.”

“So I have.” He grinned at the fond memories. “But I’ve never been one to forget the extraordinary ones.”

“Even when they are disgraced and sent to prison?” To her credit the dark witch did manage to sound remorseful, though Hermione knew the only regret she carried was getting caught.

“Some of us have never lost faith in you. And the truth did out, did it not?” His eyes sparkled in spite of the serious tone.

“So it did,” Hermione answered leaning adoringly into her wife, attempting to move the conversation in another direction. She was grateful that the woman caught on immediately.

“I’ve heard that you are even more inspirational now, Professor,” Bellatrix said.

He nodded in false modesty. “Well there is a certain advantage to age, wouldn’t you agree?"

“Yes, indeed,” she beamed back.

“But your wife, while rather disadvantaged by age, seems to have no other weaknesses. You must know that she is incredibly bright.”

“I do,” the older witch said looking fondly at the beautiful woman at her side. “I also know that we’ve just barely begun to scratch the surface of her abilities. She will need all of us to become the witch she is meant to be.”

“That sounds like something I wouldn’t miss for the world,” he answered in a voice full of affection.

“I am terribly sorry,” Bellatrix said breaking the moment of adoration. “But my sister is beckoning me over. May I trust you with the most precious thing in my life?” She looked directly at the old wizard with a look so serious most would cower from her.

He straightened his back and said in a deadly calm voice, “It would be my honor and pleasure.”

The dark witch nodded firmly and turned to go. Hermione watched her back, attempting not to leer at how the fabric clung to her curves in a most delicious manner.

“Thank you,” she said returning her attention to man in front of her. “There are not many who can see her for who she is. Even fewer still who accept her. The way you see her means a great deal to me, Professor.”

“You are quite welcome, Madame Black. I, too, know what it is like to be perceived as something other than what you are. It is why I left Hogwarts to begin with, why I lived in hiding for years.”

“Why is the Order so intent on you, sir? It's more than for your skill at potions, I can tell. And if that is all they wanted, I can’t imagine you being so resistant.”

He chuckled and looked down at his glass apparently trying to decide his course of action. Seeing his hesitation, Hermione pressed forward gently.

“I didn’t mean to offend, Professor. I simply wanted to reciprocate. You have offered my wife and myself great understanding and kindness. As a friend, I had hoped to supply the same. No one deserves to be so isolated. But if you prefer your solitude, I will not take it from you.”

“No no, Madame Black. Please do not mistake my pause to look for words as rejection.” He rubbed his neck as he searched his brain for language. “As you say, it's been many years like this. I’ve been hiding so long it is quite foreign to be seen, as you put it. What they want is a secret I have kept for many years. One from when he,” the elderly wizard gestured to the Dark Lord, “was just a student. But it is the key to many things.”

“That makes perfect sense. The Order does seem to always be playing catch up when it comes to information. But why go it alone?”

“Ah well, you are so like your wife at times. Always asking the most cutting and pertinent questions. Like all things, it is complicated. In the years when your wife was imprisoned, the world on the surface seemed safer, but in reality it was more dangerous. Without clear leadership on either side, treachery and betrayal were common place. To survive, one learned not to trust.”

Hermione nodded. She was not surprised that this was the case. After what had been done to her biological family, there was little about those years that shocked her. “But it's different now?” she asked hopefully.

“It seems with your emergence and wedding that things have changed,” the potions professor conceded. “The followers of the Dark Lord,” he stumbled slightly over the title but managed to say it. “The Death Eaters are strong and focused again. Capable of protecting themselves and their family.”

“Then will you join your family? My family? Allow us to protect you?”

“It would be nice to not have to bear the secret alone,” he said wistfully.

“The months to come will be hard enough. Let me make it easier.” She reached out her hand to him in offering.

He chuckled, but took her hand and tucked it into the crook of his arm. “You are incredibly convincing, Madame Black. You are also quite right. So tell me, my dear, which one of these rooms will we be meeting in?”

Hermione smiled warmly. “Up the stairs and to the left. Would you like to go and take our seats early? It will allow us more privacy.”

“It would be my honor to escort you, but I must tell you that I cannot give up his secret even to you.”

“Oh, my dear Professor. You must understand that I would never ask you to. We all carry his secrets. We guard the keys to our freedom. You will find nothing but understanding. We will without question help you protect what we do not know.”

“Then why the need for privacy?" he asked in amusement.

“So you can tell me stories of my wife during her time at Hogwarts, of course.”

“Well in that case, let me tell you my dear, she was one of the most notorious pranksters to have ever walked through the castle gates.”


 

Bellatrix watched with pride as her wife led the elderly wizard up the stairs. She could think of no one else she had ever met who could have done what she’d just seen the young witch do. In just a few minutes she apparently gained the man’s trust. Of course, Hermione would set her sights on gaining the confidence of one of the most guarded men on the planet. Whatever the young witch had done was clearly effective, from the way the two walked together conspiratorily. The dark witch resisted the urge to follow them up the stairs and listen in on the conversation. But she would not break Hermione’s trust with such an intrusion. She had sworn to only intervene if there was danger her witch could not handle on her own. Going after them would only be to satisfy her own curiosity. Shaking her head she looked around the room searching for her Lord. She strode quickly towards him, but stopped behind him and waited for him to acknowledge her. He finally turned to her after dismissing some lesser Death Eaters.

“I take it you have news, Bellatrix.”

“Of course, my Lord,” she said bowing dramatically. “It is done. They are waiting for us upstairs.”

“Well that was remarkably quick. Your young wife is quite the revelation.”

“That she is, my Lord. Shall I gather the others? I believe an induction ceremony is in order.”

“Yes, Bellatrix. Be quick about it. I don’t want to delay dinner, but you are right. We will all feel better with my mark on his skin.”

Chapter Text

Bellatrix grinned triumphantly at the way her wife’s eyes lit up when she strode into the room. Hermione was exactly where she expected to see her. The young witch and her professor were seated in front of the fire chatting happily. He rose at the presence of a woman he had not yet greeted. His old fashioned manners were charming.

"Will we be meeting soon?" Hermione asked sweetly.

"Yes. They will be with us shortly. Are you ready to join us, Professor?"

"I believe so. Your wife can be quite persuasive."

"You've made the right choice, sir," Bellatrix said smoothly.

With his usual flourish the Dark Lord entered the room. The two witches bowed slightly in unusual deference. The elderly man clumsily followed suit. In a few short strides the immortal wizard's hand was under the professor's elbow raising him up again.

"You are among friends now, Professor," he hissed. "I am pleased you decided to join us."

"Long over due, I believe. But I will be happy to serve."

Voldemort nodded his agreement as the rest of the faithful filtered into the room.


 

The entire ceremony took only a few minutes, but was followed by several hours of celebration both in the privacy of the room and in the ball below. With her task complete, Hermione clung to her wife for the rest of the evening. She enjoyed how the dark witch stood just a little taller when she was showing off her much younger wife. While it was amusing for a time, the ball began to bore the young witch. So she made a game of the remaining hours. Anytime attention was drawn away she would lean in and whisper hotly in the dark witch's ear.

"I can't seem to focus, love. All I can think about is stripping you and taking you right here."

Bella turned and looked at her as though she had started a very interesting conversation. Hermione grinned and turned away saying nothing. The dark witch shook her head to tamp down her body's reaction. She added her way back into the current conversation hoping to engage Hermione's attention until such desires could be met. Her plan worked perfectly well until her sister beckoned them across the room. The young witch managed to have tucked herself into the dark witch's side. As they moved across the room, Hermione leaned close and whispered,

"Or perhaps you would just prefer if I got on my knees under your skirt. That way they would all understand exactly how much I belong to you."

Bella shuddered at the lude comment. In her younger days she had been quite the exhibitionist, but she would never contemplate sharing her soulmate with others in such a way, not that it made the comment any less arousing. Her wife beamed in triumph and moved away, taking Narcissa's outstretched hand. The smirk on the blonde's face almost made the dark witch apparate the three of them away and sufficiently punish the cheeky witches. She doubted that her sister and wife had planned this little game, but Cissy was always quick to join in such mischief.

"Are you feeling alright, Bella?" the blonde purred.

"Thank you for your concern. I am perfectly well." Bellatrix practically growled her response in a clear tone of warning. One which Hermione was content to entirely ignore.

"Are you certain, my love? You do look rather flushed," she cooed in false concern.

"You are both treading a very fine line."

The young witch leaned into her so that once again no one could overhear. "Don't fret, dear one. We both know that I can take you."

Before the dark witch could find her voice to say a sharp retort, they were joined by another ancient family, drawing the conversation down a decidedly more boring path. Bella felt like she might come out of her skin if things did not get more exciting soon. Thankfully her wife drug her to the dance floor just before it reached a critical level. Though the dark witch would be leading the dance as she always did, Hermione took a half step too close pressing the length of their bodies together. As though that were not torture enough, the young witch decided to use their connection to her advantage. She spent both of their trips around the same floor projecting salacious images into Bella's head. Though they showed the breadth of the young woman's imagination, they all contained the same central theme: Hermione masterfully dominating her wife.

Bella did her damndest to ignore her wife’s provocations. She would exact her revenge for such prodding later, but she would not allow it to crumble her tough facade. She pushed her wife into a more complex dance step with hope that she might be able to interrupt the young witch's thoughts. Which it did, but with the unfortunate consequence of pressing their bodies even closer together. The dark witch fluidly pushed and pulled their bodies together reveling the feeling of her lover tense at each contact. At the final chords of the song, Bella pulled their bodies close together once again.

The dark witch had quite enough of her wife's provocations. If the young woman wanted to goad her into action, she would only be too happy to oblige. She clasped her hand tightly around a slender wrist and pulled the beautiful witch through the crowd on the dancefloor. She smirked at the happy laugh that bubbled from her wife. What she hadn’t known to count on when she entered a relationship with Hermione, was that she was a beacon of light in even the darkest of times. Though the courses of their lives had been different, the young witch too was a survivor and a truly worthy companion for her. She could not help but to relish in the hope and love that imbued every inch of the woman.

They finally made their way past the crowds into a quiet corridor. Bella could resist no longer. She slowly backed her wife against the wall. Hermione moaned as the bare skin of her back touched the cold stones. The possessive hand that held her hip flush against the wall seemed to burn through the sheer cloth barrier.

“Where are all of those conceited and self possessed comments from earlier, little witch?”

The whispered taunt pleasurably hit Hermione’s ear causing her stomach to clench and pulse to quicken.

“And I thought you intended to take me,” Bellatrix continued, pausing only to nip at the tender skin of the long neck. “Did you not want to own me tonight, my love?” She allowed her hands to travel the length of the young woman’s torso. “Answer me, Hermione. Or would you rather go back to the ball? That certainly can be arranged.”

“No, please. No,” the young witch groaned through clenched teeth. She arched willingly into the hands exploring her body through her gown. “I do not want to go back to the party.”

“Oh, you don’t? You’ve changed your mind about getting on your knees for me in front of the entire party? Worried that they might know exactly how much you belong to me?”

"It is a point at which I think few are confused, Bellatrix. At least not among these circles," the young witch said wrapping a leg around her wife's hip, pulling their bodies even closer together. "I think it is obvious to anyone paying attention that I am completely and entirely yours."

"So you would get on your knees with them watching?" the dark witch asked running her hands up bare inner thighs.

Hermione let her head drop back against the wall, taking in gulping breaths hoping to manage to keep quiet. "I would do as you command. How could you ever doubt that?"

"Oh I don't," the dark witch growled as she hooked her fingers into the wet silk beneath Hermione's dress. "Oh little witch, you are so very ready for me. Why is that?" she questioned as she danced her fingers over hot skin.

"You know why," Hermione gasped in what she knew would be her final act of defiance for the night.

"I'm not quite sure I do, love. Are you this ready from the thoughts of dominating me or perhaps from the thought of what my reaction might be to some of those images?" She punctuated the end of her question by sliding her fingers deeply inside her wife.

The young witch gasped at the pleasant invasion and pressed her hips towards the wicked digits begging for more. Just as the pressure began to build, the dark witch pulled her fingers out until they just barely teased her entrance. Hermione whimpered at the loss

"Oh, little witch. You must answer me. Then and only then I will allow you the release you so desperately seek."

The young witch grasped at the wild curls, tugging the red lips towards her own. She kissed with every ounce of longing in her being. "Oh Bella, don't you understand that I want you any way I am allowed to have you." She ground herself slowly against the two fingers still touching her. Slowly she pushed herself on them so that her wife was once again inside of her. "I wanted this. I wanted you to take me, because Bellatrix Black I am yours and yours alone. Please, Bella. Please."

The dark witch could think of nothing more to say, instead she leaned the full force of her body into the thrusts, driving herself more fully into her wife. She relished each shudder as the witch fought to stay quiet and upright. The young witch clung fiercely to Bella's shoulders, digging her nails into the bare skin.

"Give me what is already mine," she whispered into Hermione's ear, nipping lightly at the exposed earlobe. She felt the muscles in her lover's body tense before she crumbled.

"Oh Bella," the young witch whispered against the witch's prison tattoo. "You feel so good in me," she said as she lowered her leg back to the ground, struggling to regain her footing.

The dark witch stroked her wife's face affectionately, moving away the beads of sweat as the woman caught her breath. She was going to say more when their attention was drawn by a throat being cleared. They both turned quickly to find a rather put out Narcissa standing in the doorway with one hand on her hip.

"I hate to interrupt the show, but what exactly were you planning to do if it were anyone else?"

"Who else would follow us, Cissy, when our intent was so clear," the dark witch taunted back. "Did you enjoy the show, sister? Did you enjoy how she struggled to stand and clung to me?"

The blonde grunted her disdain at being asked such a question, turning her face away from the pair. Hermione separated from her wife momentarily to embrace the blonde. She slipped her arms around the slender waist and whispered into blonde locks,"We are going to bed now. But join us when your duties here are gone. We will be up all night long." She kissed the pale cheek before returning to her wife's side. She caught the dark witch's hand as she walked by, dragging her along. Bellatrix turned her head and grinned openly looking every bit like the cat who got the cream.

Chapter Text

Hermione mourned each passing hour of winter break. Rationally she understood that in a few short months she would be free to do with her life as she wished. Not that she sought freedom from anything aside from the forced separation from her wife. The celebration of Christmas and New Years only served to remind her of how amazing it was to be in the other woman’s presence. While the young witch enjoyed her doting family and friends, she was relieved when she and Bella retreated to Timoleague for her last week of break. Unfortunately it had hardly been a lover’s getaway. The castle was practically a revolving door of visitors. Good to her word, Hermione had given the potions professor and new Death Eater a tour of her gardens allowing him to harvest any rare plants he desired along the way. Narcissa, too, made her presence known on more than one occasion. As was typical of the blonde, in times of stress she seemed to migrate into their bed. Not that it bothered Hermione. She was perfectly content to be under whatever spell the Black Sisters had cast. She hoped that there was no magic on Earth strong enough to break it.

But today brought a different type of anxiety. The Dark Lord had requested a private meeting with the Black and Malfoy families. The young witch could tell something was off. It seemed as though the very air they breathed was thick with tension. For all of the annoyances and interrupted moments over the last week, she was quite happy to have her family surrounding her today. In the light of this urgent gathering their collective power was assuring. And there was something decidedly romantic about having them gathered in her castle. Their presence made the cold stone walls buzz with energy.

They gathered in the MacCarthy family library as they waited for their Lord. The tea service before them was void of the usual playful banter. In some sort of silent agreement, no one spoke above a whisper. Hermione sought relief from the oppressive atmosphere by leaning fully into her wife. Bellatrix’s eyes sparkled with anticipation and mischief. The dark witch had no more information than the rest, but it was clear that she was more than a little excited about whatever was going to happen. She nuzzled happily into her young wife’s brown curls savoring the shiver her actions produced.

The entire room rose to their feet when green flames roared in the fireplace. With his usual flourish, Voldemort floated into the room, robes billowing behind him.

“Please sit my friends,” he hissed. His faithful followers did as he asked. He looked at the group of people he respected above all others. They were more powerful than the Order would ever guess. It was one of their most closely guarded secrets. The Malfoys were seen as such extremists in their blood purity beliefs that the public rarely looked any closer. They were feared for their financial clout, but it was frequently forgotten that Black blood ran through the veins of 2/3s of the little family. Narcissa lacked her sister’s flare for destruction, but that was more about personality and less about power. Draco still had great untapped potential that the Dark Lord hoped he would grow into. Lucius’ business and political savvy was not to be underestimated. What he lacked in magical power, he made up for in many other ways. And then there was Severus. He seamlessly lived a double life. The emotional demands on him were high, but over the years he proved his deep capabilities. Not to mention that he was the most gifted potions master in several generations. His general countenance was enough to make nearly everyone forget his parentage. His loyalty was simply beyond reproof. And finally the sonachuers. The women were, as always, physically wrapped around one another. He was quite certain that they did it unconsciously at this point. The Dark Lord, on a personal level, was pleased to see Bellatrix happy after such misery. Professionally, the growth in their individuals had been astounding. Their combined power would be beyond what even he could imagine. He would never tell them, but they could easily take his power from him. It likely wouldn’t take much effort on their part. But their focus was clearly elsewhere. The would always be powerful, but their love of family seemed to be their driving motivation. He felt a distinct responsibility to see them achieve that particular dream.

“It is good to see you all again. Thank you, Hermione and Bellatrix, for hosting us in your home.”

The young witch nodded happily. It was crystal clear that she loved having the people most dear to her under her familial roof.

“It is my time, my friends, that we take the next step in our disarming of the Order’s little revolution. As we discussed at the ball, Dumbledore seems to be aware of my horcruxes. he won’t be able to get the memory from our dear Slughorn, but that will only slow him down. I have plans to use the tampered memories to misguide the Potter boy so that we may fully execute our plan.”

“Aside from misleading the brat, what else is there to this?” The dark witch was pulsing with anticipation.

“Patience, Bellatrix. I promise you will get all of the excitement you seek.”

The witch huffed and leaned back. The Dark Lord struggled to contain a chuckle at her enthusiasm. “When I chose to utilize horcruxes, I believed that dividing my soul and scattering the objects would be the best way to keep myself safe. I never imagined that anyone would intentionally seek out and attempt to destroy the. Nor did I anticipate anyone ever finding out about them. But times have most certainly changed. It is a time for a change in strategy. Lucius and Bellatrix have you located all of them yet?”

The blonde cleared his throat to speak. “We’ve located all but one. We haven’t retrieved any of the yet per your last instructions.”

“Very good,” Voldemort hissed. “I believe that we should borrow the approach Hermione used in the Battle of the Mysteries last year.”

Narcissa shot a very displeased look at the young witch, which made her shrink farther into Bellatrix. Hermione seemed to be aware that she had perhaps not entirely paid her penance for her actions still.

“Instead of simply collecting all of the horcruxes, which will only lead to the Order searching endlessly for them, I believe that we should create fake replacements.”

“To divert their attention again,” Draco interjected eagerly.

“Precisely, Draco,” the wizard hissed. “Hermione, does that sound like magic you are capable of?”

“I believe so, my lord,” she answered quietly.

“What do you plan on doing with the objects once we have collected them,” Severus drawled in a tone that could be mistaken for bored.

“Protect them, move them constantly, keep them in Gringotts perhaps,” the older wizard answered slowly.

“I have concerns, my lord,” Bellatrix said gently. “One is already in my vault. I fear that alone will make the entire bank an unsafe location.”

“We could scatter them around the entire world,” Lucius said with enthusiasm. He was clearly thinking of the fringe benefits of such a decision.

“That has its own challenges,” Snape countered immediately. “The more spread out they are the more we will have to trust others. And frankly that didn’t go particularly well last time.”

Sensing that the room was on the verge on descending into a very childlike argument, Hermione spoke slowly and clearly. “What if there was an alternative?” Though she did not speak particularly loudly, the entire room stopped to look directly at her.

“What kind of alternative,” Voldemort asked after a long pause.

Hermione sat forward with intense anticipation. “What if we didn’t try to hide them.”

“You want to display them instead,” Draco asked in clear confusion.

“No. No definitely not.” She turned and faced the wizard they all served. “My Lord, what if we rebound them to the soul they came from?”

The others in the room gasped at the suggestion as the dark wizard stared at her pensively.

“It seems as though you’ve given it some thought already.”

The young witch blushed. “A bit,” she answered quietly. “The ancient healing arts have great potential. And if I am creating mimicking objects, perhaps I can find a way to reverse the process successfully.”

The wizard tapped his lips in thought. The witch was consistently remarkable and if anyone was capable of such magic, it was the Madames Black. “Then I will rely on your expertise.”

“I will need a more consistent means of communication than I had last year,” the young witch said boldly. “Narcissa, will you be available to help me?”

The blonde witch nodded her agreement.

“What about the vanishing cabinet,” Lucius asked.

“Its nearly finished,” Draco answered. “It should be more than secure enough for simple paper messages. We are still working on more complex objects.”

“We will move its location so that we can work more quickly on it. I believe that we have an impending deadline,” the older blonde wizard said beaming at his son.

“So we do,” hissed the Dark Lord. “Before the end of term, you need to be able to transport a witches and wizards safely.”

Hermione wove her fingers between her wife’s and squeezed lightly in a silent promise to keep her safe.

“It will be done,” the young blonde wizard said with gusto.

“I know that my trust is not misplaced. I will leave you all to enjoy your last few days. The coming months will be busy.” Voldemort stood and strode to the fireplace without even a look over his shoulder leaving stunned group in his wake.


 

Hermione strained her body into her lover’s firm touch. Bellatrix had made her come twice since the Dark Lord and their family left the castle. The first time, her wife hadn’t even let her climb the stairs. The dark witch bent her over the banister taking her hard and fast. Hermione could do little aside from hold on and shout her release at the demand of those devious fingers. When her muscles clamped around her wife, the woman relaxed a fraction clearly enjoying how easy it had been to get Hermione off. The young witch took the opening as an invitation and flipped them over so that Bellatrix laid prostrate on the stairs. Hermione liberally applied her teeth to skin as she exposed it to the air. She wanted to be certain that the witch knew she had been well loved the next morning when she looked in the mirror. To Hermione’s delight and surprise, the dark witch came undone before her knickers were even off. The retribution was being thrown unceremoniously over her wife’s shoulder and carried to their bedroom.

And so for the last hour Hermione had been on her hands and knees at the receiving end of Bellatrix’s rough affections. The dark witch hadn’t changed pace since the second climax and Hermione was uncertain if she would be able to stay conscious through the next one.

“Oh little witch, I assure you that you are more than capable of taking it. After all did you not take your liberties on stairs? Did you really think that would be the end of it?”

“No,” the young witch gasped.

“Then you must have hoped to find yourself in this particular situation?”

“I can think of several that would be worse.”

Bellatrix changed her angle in able to push more deeply into her wife drawing out a deep groan. “Come for me, my pretty girl.”

The younger witch could do nothing but obey. She melted into the bed and was subsequently covered by a warm body. She drifted into a dreamless sleep guided by soft kiss and strong arms that surrounded her.

Chapter Text

Leaving Bellatrix for her final spring term was the hardest thing that Hermione had ever done. It was worse than the years before she discovered her true heritage. There had been a certain freedom in her isolation. She owed no one anything. She feared for no one but herself. And she certainly was not in the middle of a war. She was not so naive as to believe that she would not give up far more for the chance at a future with the beautiful dark witch.

She had not cried standing on the platform as Bella stepped away and pulled her hood up. She forced a smile which earned a wink and the dark witch’s voice in her head. “Don’t let them see you cry, little witch. We will speak soon.”

It wasn’t until she and Draco were in the privacy of their own car that she let the tears fall. Her blonde friend was not used to seeing such displays of emotion, but was content to lend a shoulder. He didn’t say anything knowing words could not replace what the witch was missing. As the tears slowed he said,

“This is our last go. I reckon we ought to have a bit of fun.”

Hermione let out a choked laugh clouded by her tears. “What exactly do you have in mind?”

“Perhaps a little prank on the Order brats would be appropriate? Spiking pumpkin juice before Transfiguration class could be interesting. Could you imagine the look on McGonagall's face?”

The young witch smiled at the thought. “As much as I would enjoy that, I suppose we had better not stray too far from the rules. We have much to accomplish and so little time.”

“No joke. What were you thinking volunteering to use that kind of magic?”

Hermione shrugged. “We have to win this war, Draco. For our family’s sake. If we don’t win, Bella and I will be the first to die. I cannot let anything happen to her. She has been through enough.”

“I don’t think my mother would survive if anything happened to the two of you,” he said morosely.

“Which is why we must ensure that it is not in the realm of possibilities.”

“How far ahead are you in your school work?”

“Do you want the honest answer?u” the young witch questioned.

“Is it going to make you seem incredibly uncool?”

“What do you think, Draco?”

“Out with it then, Madame Black,” he smirked enjoying the light blush that danced across her face at the mention of her married last name.

“I’ve finished the course work. I could take final exams today and pass them all. I will have a great deal of time to dedicate to our projects, but I think I will need it. I believe I may need to create some spells to be able to achieve our goals and that will take time.”

“Can you do it alone?”

“I doubt it, but I won’t be alone. Will I? You will help. We will get the cabinet working so that I can have access to Bella and our family. If we can have it working by February, I think I have rebind the first horcrux when we return home for summer. Based on my research, we will have to do it gradually and allow his body to readjust.”

“In that case, you should rest during the trip. I know you didn’t sleep last night and we have quite a lot to do it seems,” the blonde answered glibly.

“You think far too much about my nightly activities. And you are right. Are you going to sleep too? Shall I ward the cabin?”

“I work very hard not to think about your activities. You do remember Narcissa is my mum, right? I will stay awake, but ward if you like.”

Hermione blushed at the statement about the blonde witch, but quickly drew her wand throwing a handful of complicated spells around them. Satisfied that she would be safe without the presence of her wife, she pulled a “borrowed” cloak she had nicked from Bellatrix’s closet closer around her. With her necklace in the palm of her hand, she fell into a contented sleep.


 

Snape was waiting for them as soon as they stepped off the train looking morose as he always did within the castle walls. His role as a double agent right under Dumbledore’s nose weighed on him more heavily, Hermione had noticed. She suspected that he spent a great many years with very divided loyalties not entirely able to choose one side over the other. But now it was quite clear that he stood with the Dark Lord. She did wonder how much longer he could keep up the facade.

“Madame Black,” he drawled. She looked at him in shock. She wasn’t sure exactly how long she had been staring at him.

“I would suggest,” he continued in a whisper, “raising your walls now. Do not panic. I sense no one else. And you have more than enough to worry about.” He looked around noticing a few eyes on them. He raised his voice so that there would be a few witnesses. “Detention, Ms. Black. Tomorrow at 7 pm.”

Draco stepped between them in confusion and protection of his friend.

“You apparently will be joining her, Mr. Malfoy. Do not be late.”

“Yes, Professor Snape,” they said in unison watching him stalk away.

“Something’s off,” Draco muttered to his friend.

“I agree. Not as bad as Umbridge, but not quite right.” Hermione looked around furtively enough to catch a tabby cat moving away out of the corner of her eye. She tensed pulling her mental walls even tighter. “Nothing more until we are somewhere that can be warded. We will have no privacy from now on.”

He nodded in agreement. Moments later they were swept up in a sea of other Slytherins moving quickly towards the castle. Hermione found being surrounded by their friends was little comfort when she could feel emerald green eyes following her with every step.

She did her best to enjoy the opening feast of the spring semester. Hermione found herself wondering what it would have been like to be at school with Bella. She suspected that the dark witch would be a terrible instigator. If she were at the feast, Hermione knew there was a high probability that she would have her hand between her wife’s legs. The young witch couldn’t help the shiver at the thought. It was clearly going to be a long few months of work. She attempted to tamp down the arousal at the thought of the dark witch and focus on the tasks that were in front of her. She felt the blush from her thoughts creep up her face. Looking around in fear someone had noticed, she caught only one set of eyes focused on her; those of Minerva McGonagall. Draco was correct there was most certainly something going on.


 

“Draco, if this is what the rest of the year is going to be like I don’t think I am going to survive,” Hermione growled. The moment they had gotten back to their dorm, Hermione had drug him into their shared prefect common room and heavily warded it.

“Honestly, I didn’t think dinner was that bad. I know you prefer the food at the manor, but I don’t think you will starve,” he laughed.

Hermione looked at him menacingly.

“Alright alright. Just trying to lighten the mood. What's got your wand in such a twist, aside from missing my aunt?”

“The old cat can’t keep her eyes from me. They are up to something.”

“If they are planning something, my godfather will tell us tomorrow. There is nothing to be done tonight, but getting some rest. You've been sloppy with your mental walls today because you are so tired. You cannot continue this way and remain safe without resorting to violence."

"I know. I know."

"Off to bed with you," he answered gently, shoving her in the direction of her private room. "I'll see you in the morning for breakfast."

She didn't look back. Draco was right. She had exerted herself so much in the last two weeks that she was physically and magically weak. A good night's rest would go a long ways healing her. She was relieved to be back in her sanctuary. There was something calming about her private rooms where she could fully be herself. Without second thought she set down her wand and warded the room without it. She enjoyed the feeling of her magic pulsing through her arms and hands unaided by the magical wood. It was grounding after such a long day.

As usual her trunk and belongings had been transported for her, but a small parcel she had not packed sat on the table by her bed. She took the parchment and unfolded it cautiously. She was simultaneously pleased and relieved at the familiar handwriting.

Dearest One,

This return was harder than all of the rest for us both. I have reason to believe our bond is growing again. I know that our dearest potions professor will plan to corner you about it, but I could not bear for him to speak with you first. I hope you will forgive that this must be done at a distance for now. (Consider this to be motivation to fix the bloody cabinet. You could be in my arms were it done.)

Drink the potion on the table. It will both relax you for sleep and allow us to spend a few minutes in our dreams together.

My love,
Bella

The black roses on the table were a rather romantic touch. Hermione ran her fingers lightly over them in admiration before following her wife’s instructions. She quickly washed her face and changed into light sleep clothes. She just couldn’t quite stomach sleeping nude without the fierce warrior at her side. She retrieved her wand, setting it next to her bed before downing the potion. She wondered briefly just before she fell into a deep sleep if Bella would be there waiting for her.


 

Hermione discovered that time was a funny thing in dreams. She had the presence of mind to know that she was asleep, but she couldn’t begin to guess how long she had been resting. She did not have to turn her head to identify the other presence.

“Hello, little witch. Fancy meeting you here,” the death eater cooed coming to stand beside her.

“Bella,” Hermione whispered reverently. She cuddled into the strong arms that felt almost as if they were really there.

“I know, dear one. This is not as satisfying as truly being in one another’s presence, but it is better than a mere letter.”

The young witch ran a hand down the chiseled jaw in front of her. “It is so good to see your face. Leaving was torture.”

“It was. I had not anticipated how strong the effects would be or we would have had this conversation last night.”

“Why are you keeping things from me at all? Have I not made clear that I wish to share in all of your burdens,” Hermione asked. She attempted to hold her frustration at bay, but she knew it crept into her voice.

“Because I want to protect you. You’ve set your ambitions on doing the most complex and difficult magic that has ever been done. All while away from me and with your enemies swarming around you. How could I not worry? What else could I do to lighten your burden? Do not think I am unaware of how much more difficult your life has gotten since becoming involved with me, but I am a selfish woman, Hermione. I cannot let you go now or ever.”

The young witch turned more fully into the embrace and buried her face in the curtain of unruly curls. “I don’t want to be let go, Bella. I want to be let in. I love you so.”

“And I love you, little witch. I believe that we have come to a new phase in our bond.”

“New phase? What do you mean?” Hermione hated being so perplexed. Nothing she had read suggested there would be phases. She was fully committed to the beautiful witch.

“There are certain compulsions in relationships when ancient magic is used in the bonding. Our wedding was a bit rushed, so I fear that you may have not been informed of one of the key elements. Our bond will compel us to create an heir. If we were still in each other’s presence and acting as insatiably as we had these past few weeks, we might not have even noticed it was going on. After all, we’ve craved one another intensely since we met. I didn’t notice the difference during our holiday. I simply thought that the absence was driving us, but as you stepped on the train I realized that something very different was going on. Narcissa had to explain to me what exactly it was, which was vaguely mortifying.”

“Your sister is overread.”

“That she is. But nevertheless, until we conceive a child being apart is going to be rather uncomfortable.”

“Bellatrix Black, are you asking me to have your baby?”

The dark witch let out a loud bark of laughter. “I wouldn’t have put it that way, but yes. I suppose that is exactly what I am asking.”

“I would happily carry our child, but not until we can be together all the time. If I am going to be pregnant, you are going to have to dote on me. You are not getting off the hook because I am away at school,” the young witch said seriously.

“If you are carrying my child, I could not bear for the two of you to be out of my sight.”

“It is comforting to know why I felt such distress. Draco clearly thought I was losing it. Even McGonagall noticed. She was paying me entirely too much attention.”

“You must be very careful around her. There is a chance that she will know what is going on with our bond. The need to produce a child is no secret with this kind of bonding. She may even try to do something to prevent it from happening.”

“Why would she bother,” Hermione asked confused. “Will I not be more vulnerable while pregnant?”

“Quite the opposite. You will be even more powerful. Carrying a child conceived of our magic will at least double your abilities. There will be no one alive who can best you, except perhaps me,” Bella answered flirtatiously.

Hermione yawned in spite of her best efforts.

“You are very tired, little witch. Come lay down with me. You need the rest,” the dark witch soothed.

“You will be gone when I wake,” she said knowing and fearing the answer.

“Yes. But I am never far. You wear my ring and my necklace. You are mine, Hermione Black. Every part of you is mine. And we can meet like this again soon. Severus will teach you how to brew this potion. Sleep now, little one. You will need to be able to protect yourself carefully in the coming months.”

Accepting the hard truths of the statement, Hermione relaxed into the warmth of her love even if it was only emotional and allowed herself to drift deeply to sleep.

Chapter Text

A/N

Once again, I apologize for the delay. A big thank you to Mel and Kitty for encouraging me to get going on this again. I couldn't have done it without you. Thank you to Uniquely Named for betaing. And welcome to all of the new and very kind followers who have joined us.


Hermione woke in a good mood, but it was to be truly short lived. The soft winter light of the morning in Scotland reminded her of southern Ireland. But the cold small bed was nothing like home. With a deep sigh she forced herself from the warm sheets. It was early yet, just barely dawn, if she hurried she would have time to bathe in the prefect's bathroom without interruption. She reasoned that it would be a safe enough journey as few were out of their beds so early and those that were would also be preparing for the day. She gathered her clothes for the day and cast a notice-me-not spell before slipping through the door of her room. She moved as quickly and quietly as she would in the middle of combat. Her wand remained securely in her hand, though she was as likely not to need it for defense as she was to need the wood to act as conduit for her magic. Unlike the day before, she was alert and had full control of her mental shields.

She arrived without incident and felt slightly foolish for the precautions she took. There were moments when she thought it utterly ridiculous that she had to regard her school as enemy territory. The tubs filled quickly at the command of her wand. The fast flow of water was deafening in the silence of the early morning hours. Wandlessly, she banished her clothes before stepping into the warm soapy water. It was the closest to heaven she could find so far from her wife. The near silence of the bathroom was soothing and she began the process of centering herself.

Bella had been right about their bond growing. It had never been easy to be apart from the witch, but this was worse. This was causing her to be disorganized. She wasn't fully in control of her magic and its growth was still staggering. At the very least she needed to shore up her mental defences before she started the day. Hermione sunk lower in the water until the bubbles brushed against her chin. She leaned her head back against the wall and closed her eyes. Beneath the gentle waves of the tub, she closed her fingers around the crest on her neck. She allowed her mind to settle on her wife. She let the happy memories fill her up and draw her magic to the surface. She could feel it swirling over her skin and wrapping over her limbs in an intimate embrace. The taste of Bella's magic lingered on her tongue, a concrete reminder that her own magic had been fundamentally changed with their bonding.

For both of their sakes, she knew she had to regain control. Everything was at stake and much of it hinged on her ability in the following months to execute high level magic secretly. She hadn't realized how much weight had been put on her shoulders. Without her wife as a buffer, she felt the strain of it acutely. But Hermione had every intention of living up to her legacy as a Black. They were a proud and strong family. She could endure the separation for a few months to accomplish their goals. She thought of the dark eyes and wild curls. What would she not endure for such beauty?

She opened her eyes to find the light of dawn streaming in the tall stained glass windows. She knew that she needed to climb out and start the day lest she be missed by her classmates. She stepped into the cool air and assembled her clothes with efficiency. She pulled her hair up and out of the way for a long day. She put on the tie what once was Bella's and tied it by hand not wanting to damage the fabric. Pulling on her outer robes, she shrunk and stowed the things she brought with her before quietly leaving the bathroom. As she stepped out of the heavy wooden door she caught sight of a tabby tail darting around a corner. Well. She was clearly being monitored. She pulled her mental barriers even tighter around her as she moved quickly back to the dungeons.


"Well well well, Madame Black. So nice to see you this morning. Though I must say that is rather not the direction I expected you to emerge from," Draco said rising from a chair.

"Please don't tell your mum," Hermione responded quietly looking acceptably contrite.

"I won't, but you should. We both know it is better if you are just honest with her. She has an uncanny ability to get information even when she is not present."

"I know. I know," the witch responded sullenly.

"You know I would have escorted you," Draco offered gently.

"Of course you would have, but I can more than defend myself. Even against professors if need be. I have magic far beyond…."

He silenced her with a hand on her arm. "Of course you do, but we have a charade to keep up. If they knew, they would never give you the space to get the work done that you must. The Dark Lord and the infamous Black sisters were quite clear in their instructions. I know that you may not think much of their ability to punish, but I would prefer to steer clear of it altogether."

"I just miss home and Bella. This is misery being apart."

"I can only imagine. Talk to Severus after lunch today. I am certain he can help. Now, everyone will be up soon. We should head to breakfast and get a fast start. I'm hoping to have time for the library and a long walk today."

Hermione nodded her agreement and went to retrieve her books. She was grateful that it would be a notes day in potions. She would be able to pen a letter to Narcissa hopefully before the information reached her any other way. As the months had turned, she learned to no longer fear Narcissa for her power. The blonde was not without her skills. But it was the emotional string that tethered them that Hermione so deeply feared the loss of. She still craved the woman's approval.


Thankfully breakfast had been uneventful. McGonagall and Dumbledore were both absent, which both relaxed and concerned Hermione. Not being watched was a reprieve, but there was something eerie about having been tracked well before dawn. It was clear to Hermione that they were plotting something meant to injure or disarm her. Sitting in the potions classroom was one of the few places she felt secure. Though Professor Slughorn was not within the inner circle, he provided a safe space. He knew who she was and appreciated her for it. He wanted nothing more than for her to be a brilliant witch married to one of his favorite students. She suspected that she would not have felt so secure in writing a personal letter during class in any other class. But under his protection and with a few simple spells, she would be able to keep its contents private and be able to send the letter off before lunch. Pulling out a clean parchment as they were instructed to take notes, the calm of feeling close to the Black sisters settled over her once again.

Dearest Narcissa,

I am sure that you will agree that it seems far too soon for me to be writing this sort of letter. And yet I find myself in need of council the first day back to Hogwarts. I will tell Bella in time, but I need a more objective perspective and advice.

This morning I couldn't sleep. There is a chance that Bella may be similarly suffering. It would mean a great deal if you could alleviate her suffering in that way. I went to take a bath in the prefect bathroom. I thought that it would be a place with sufficient privacy that I could gather my thoughts and magic again. Being back has been more trying than I imagined. The bath was sufficiently relaxing and I did find my center again, so you needn't worry about that.

But as I was exiting, I saw the very familiar tail of a feline. I get the sense that I am being watched more than ever before. I strongly suspect that some plan against me will be launched imminently. How do you think I should handle this? 

I will not go wandering the castle unaccompanied again. I will find other means of coping. I cannot beg your forgiveness for my actions, as I still believe they were a necessity. I will not manufacture remorse when I feel none. I will not lie to you, for I believe that is a far greater affront. I will settle this debt when I see you next. I am sorry that it will be far too long a wait.

My love,

H. Black

She magically sealed the letter as the class was packing up. She met Draco at the doorway and he accompanied her to the common room. They had agreed over the winter break that she would be provided food from Malfoy manor at lunch. It would be delivered by an elf to her room every day at 12:15. The plan would also give Draco the opportunity to beef up his reputation as a dark loner, which was proving challenging when attached at the hip to Hermione.

They arrived with a few minutes to spare. Hermione waved Draco off, before settling in to her room and opening a book. She had every intention of reading through some of the rare texts she brought with her during her private lunch times. She didn't dare take them out of the wards of her room, they were too valuable and would tip off the Order as to how much they knew. She was only a few pages in when one of Narcissa's elved popped into the room brandishing a silver platter.

"Here is your lunch, Madam Black," the creature said quietly.

"Yes. Thank you. Please take this back to your mistress immediately," Hermione said, taking the plate from him. She settled into her bed nibbling and turning pages as she absorbed the information. She certainly would not be losing weight like she did in the fall if Narcissa insisted on sending her favorite foods. Once she finished the plate, she set it to the side and laid back contemplating one of the spells needed to replicate a horcrux. Her ruminations were interrupted by another small pop of the elf returning. She opened her eyes to offer a word of thanks for the servant and one to be delivered to the blonde Black sister. Instead an agitated Narcissa stood before her in the flesh.

"Are you really here?" Hermione choked out rising from the bed and reaching out to her.

"Your letter was concerning enough that I came immediately. Bella, of course, wanted to come herself, but that is far too risky. The Order is unlikely to be protecting the castle against Lucius Malfoy's housewife," the woman answered with a smirk.

"Oh Cissy," the young witch said throwing herself into the woman's arms and sighing when they tightened around her.

"Little witch. You are a bit of a mess aren't you?"

Hermione nodded into the pale neck unwilling to meet the blue eyes yet.

"I am not pleased with you," Narcissa continued.

"I know. I am coping the best I can."

"This is impossibly difficult," the blonde said sympathetically. "And your life has changed so much in the last year. A few more months and you can have everything you want. Oh yes, Hermione. The desire to start a family with Bella is practically rolling off of you. I would not be surprised if the more powerful in the castle have picked up on it too."

"But how do I hide it from them?" the young witch asked panicking vaguely.

"Perhaps you do not. There are a select number of ways that they could try and keep that from happening. They are bound by a set of morals that I believe will keep you from grave physical harm. The Order still wants you intact and powerful. They are far more likely to still try to woo you or slip you something that would prevent a pregnancy." Narcissa ran her hands gently over the clothed witch lovingly, hoping that she would derive comfort.

"And what should I do?" Hermione asked uncertainly.

"Allow them to a point. Trust your instincts. You will know here," she placed a hand over Hermione's heart, "when they attempt to get someone who is not Bella close to you. Remember your particular magic. Let this be their focus instead of the real work you are doing. If you are nothing more than a woman to be won over, then they will miss how brilliant of a witch you are."

"I can do that."

"Yes, of course you can." Narcissa released her so she could see the warm brown eyes. "Don't think that I have forgotten your transgression. I promise that you will pay, but I will not add to your suffering now. You have several months to devise a way to apologize that I will find sufficient."

"Yes, Narcissa," Hermione said with a bit more confidence. "I won't go out alone again."

"Summon an elf if you are so desperate. So long as we don't meet too frequently, I can come to you and calm you down."

"Can you transport others?"

"Not without arousing suspicions. No one will think to track my magical signature, I am such a minor player in their eyes that no one is tracking me according to our spies. In order to maintain our edge of surprise we still need to carry out the plan as agreed."

Hermione nodded acknowledging that the witch was right. The unfettered access to the castle would be important.

"Now we can't have you being late to Severus' class, little witch. I would hate for others to notice your absence during lunch." Soft fingers traced down Hermione's face and a gentle kiss pressed into her lips. "We love you, Hermione. Stay strong for us all."

"I will try," the witch said releasing the older woman. She watched as the blonde took the hand of the elf and nodded knowingly. With a pop they were gone and she was alone again in her room. But the short visit had calmed her more than she had anticipated. She could see more clearly the plan forming in her head than it had been since she returned. With a renewed sense of purpose she gathered her things and left for her next lesson with Snape.

Chapter Text

Hermione found the rhythm of school again as winter let way to spring. It was a delicate balance of keeping her guard up, pretending to do school work, and letting Narcissa help when she needed it. The nature of her relationship with the blonde witch was so different within the castle walls, or perhaps it was without Bella. Hermione found every bit of the comfort she sought and was provided with advice as to how to approach everyday situations. The underlying physical attraction hummed in the far distance as both witches were far too focused on surviving until the end of the school year.

The young witch was feeling the strain of her responsibility less. The act of doing was incredibly soothing. The last time she had seen her wife in Hogsmeade she had been provided with a memory of what each remaining horcrux looked like. After Bella transferred them into her mind, the dark witch refused to give her time to evaluate them until she returned to the castle. Not that Hermione minded. Her wife’s particular distraction techniques were predictably delicious. The desire to have a child was only intensifying, which resulted in the witches not being able to keep their hands off one another. The physical relief was deeply gratifying even though the school’s schedule did not allow them to spend Valentine’s Day together. It was a splendid way to close out the generally droll month of February.

Upon returning to the castle, Hermione forewent the usual evening gathering in the common room in favor of her private chambers. The memories given by Bellatrix were precious. She wanted to drown herself in them in the absence of the dark witch. It didn’t matter that she could practically feel the woman’s lips and fingers all over her body. From the little her wife had told her, Hermione would be able to access the memories as if they were her own. Bella had sworn up and down that she had thoroughly captured each of the horcruxes that were now safely in their possession. Ideally, the young witch would have preferred to have handled each one herself, but it was too big of a risk to have them anywhere near the castle. And they didn’t have the time to wait for Easter break to roll around.

Hermione closed and warded the large door to her room. Draco seemed to have read her body language well enough to know that she wasn’t to be disturbed. She would meet him early in the morning in the common room to walk to breakfast together. She stripped off her outer robes and loosened and removed her tie. The cool air was welcome on her skin and caused her to relax. She laid down on her bed in just a simple tank top and panties. Closing her eyes she focused on the memories gifted to her. She was surrounded by Bella’s voice, 

“Hello, my love. I know this is supposed to be business, but I couldn’t resist. I love you, little witch. Take good care of yourself and guard these memories carefully. I cannot tell you how much some would like to obtain them. I daresay they will stop at nothing. Before I show you the horcruxes we have, I want you to also know about the ones we do not. Tom’s diary was destroyed by the Potter brat several years ago. We do not know the means of destruction, though we do know the location. The Chamber of Secrets. The second is Marvolo Gaunt’s ring. Our latest intelligence tells us that Dumbledore destroyed it earlier this year. We believe that it was not without cost. The old man may be injured, but do not underestimate him. The remaining are Salazar Slytherin’s locket, Helga Hufflepuff’s cup, Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem, and Nagini.

I will now show you the four objects one at a time. Close your mind to everything else. You should be able to feel the weight of the objects as though they are in your own hands. I have tried to show you what I believe you will need to know. The first three you will need to duplicate in order to make them false horcruxes. The Dark Lord hopes that you will find a way to extract the Horcrux from Nagini without doing her harm. He is uncommonly fond of that snake.  

I know you are up to the task, my love. But do not under any circumstance do anything that will jeopardize your safety. If the magic is beyond your reserves, please call for help. We will find a way to get you what you need.”

Hermione watched in awe as Bella handled each object slowly showing every detail and flaw. She lingered over each memory twice, memorizing as much as she could and cherishing the presence of her wife. As she loosed her focus on the memories, she felt warm hands on her cheeks brushing tears away. She blinked her eyes open to take in the form of the youngest Black sister.

“There you are,” the blonde cooed.

“I didn’t hear you come in,” she whispered through the tears.

"You were rather concentrated. And we both know the only reason I can get through your warding is because you allow it." The blonde said stroking the soft face affectionately.

"I'm surprised to see you," Hermione said in mild confusion.

"When Bella came back from Hogsmeade, she was rather worried about what state you might be in. Each time you separate it seems to be getting worse. And after implanting memories in you, I can’t imagine anything that is any more intimate.”

The young witch nodded and sat up into the offered embrace. “Having her in my head, when we are so far apart is hard. It's a reminder of what I am missing when I am here,” she said honestly. Even a year ago, she never would have spoken such things out loud even to her lover. But now, Narcissa was her confidant, keeping her from losing her sanity.

The blonde hummed in recognition of her words and ran her fingers rhythmically through her hair. Hermione relaxed into the touch allowing it to carry her away for a few minutes.

“I’m not going to be able to convince you to get any sleep tonight, am I?” Narcissa asked tenderly.

“I don’t think my brain will let me, even if I wanted to. I need to start working on transfigurations to duplicate the objects. It will be the easiest part, I think. And I will feel like I have accomplished something.”

“That makes sense. Do you think that you’ve identified the spells to replicate what happens when one is destroyed?" 

“Yes. Based on the memory the Dark Lord shared with me, I should be able to make unique variations on them that play on the fears of whomever is attempting to destroy it. The protections on the items will be more difficult. Draco has been making a list of ways to destroy something. Perhaps next week we will send an object through the cabinet. We should be able to send something small. And the crew can try everything they can think of to destroy it. And if they succeed, we will make changes and go again.”

“Why do I have the feeling that you are still only sharing the easy parts?”

Hermione chuckled. “Because you know me too well, Cissy. The rebinding of the soul will be the most difficult part. I already know that it needs to be at a location of extreme magical energy and I will need the participation of the entire inner circle. And a complex potion. It's a bit overwhelming.”

“What can I help with?” the blonde pled. She could already see the strain on the young witch’s face from the past two months. While she knew it would be erased by time at her sister's side, she couldn't resist the urge to alleviate the witch's suffering.

Hermione sighed, not moving from the embrace trying to think. "A location. If you could find that and arrange it, perhaps we could take a first run at Easter. I think I can be ready by then," she rushed out.

"The moorland attached to your castle is a likely place to start. I will take care of it, little witch."

"Thank you, Cissy." Hermione sifted her hands through the long blonde hair. "I don't know what I would do without you." 

"I hope that you never have to find out."

"Nor I," Hermione said immediately pulling back enough to see the chilling blue eyes. She pressed a warm chaste kiss to her lips wanting her to know exactly how much she cared for her. 

Narcissa smiled in the sly way that only she could and beamed with pride at the newest addition to the Black family. "I will find what you need, Hermione. And we will be waiting for you to come home. We will love you no less in a few months. You must let go of that fear. It will only slow you down." She fingered the necklace that hung around the witch's neck. "The bonding cannot be undone. You are ours. You have Black magic running through your veins."

"Thank you, Cissy." Hermione rested one final time against Narcissa's neck. She could tell that the woman would be leaving soon.

"You are very welcome, dear one. Now, I am going to send you dinner and a potion. They will keep you going. But you will have to sleep at some point. Do you understand me?"

"Yes. I will make a successful transfigured object and then I will rest. I promise."

"That's a good witch. I will see you soon."

Hermione let the woman rise and leave as much as she wanted to keep her. She would have enjoyed very little more than to keep the brilliant woman with her. She enjoyed their intellectual exchanges more than she could express. Narcissa had been the first to see her as a person. And for that they would always have a special relationship.


 

As Narcissa had predicted, Hermione did not finish until the sun was rising over the quidditch field. Not that she could see it from the Slytherin dungeons. She had begun to hear the sounds from the other girls waking up and realized that she needed to get ready for the day. She considered bathing, but decided that it sounded like far too much work and she was so very tired. Instead she performed a few quick cleansing spells, pulled up her hair, and put on a clean uniform. She stepped in front of her small mirror to straighten her tie stolen from Bella so many years ago by her younger sister. She stared into her own eyes for a moment to remind herself of who she was now. Over the last 18 months she had been transformed from a timid wallflower into a truly formidable witch. In private moments, she could see the influence of her soulmate in her body language.

Pulling on her outer robes, she tucked her very creepy looking locket into a hidden pocket. It was much like the one she used the year before in the Department of Mysteries. She would feel better if the complex piece of magic stayed on her person until they were able to send it to the Manor. She stepped from her room attempting to look and feel as normal as possible. She had enough make up on to hide the circles under her eyes. 

“Well, good morning, Madame Black,” Draco said leaning casually against the stone next to her door. “It is lovely to see you looking so… unrefreshed. You do know how much I hate being forced to think about you and my auntie.” He finished the sentence as though her actions were specifically to inconvenience him.

 She smirked. “For what it is worth, my darling nephew. It was not my wife who kept me awake all night last night. It was a different Black sister.” She breezed past him as his jaw dropped.

“But.. but..” he stammered chasing after her.

She walked faster, forcing him to jog to catch up to her. “She brought me a potion, that’s all. But the look on your face, Draco. It was priceless.”

“Oh you are an evil witch indeed, Hermione Black. I will get you back, you know.”

“I very much look forward to you trying. We need to look into your semester project this afternoon.” 

“Busy busy. I was just working on the other one yesterday.”

“And how did it go?”

“Oh quite successful,” he said darkly. “You know, the wrong bottle of wine will really make you ill.”

“Good. Quite good. Do you think it will be successful?”

“I doubt it, honestly. But hopefully it will cause a bit of an uproar.” He placed a hand on her arm as they walked, causing her to look directly at him. “But truthfully, are you ok?”

“I’m tired, but ok. I will be better after we take our final exams and finish this year.” Her response was guarded but honest.

“You will be careful, won’t you?”

“Draco,” she answered grinning broadly. “When am I not careful?”

“Oh no no no. Don’t you dare imitate the mistress of darkness you call your wife. I have no need for her brand of mayhem today. Some of us still have to complete homework.”

“Very well. I will try to contain myself. Some quality time in the place where things are hidden would likely sate my need.”

“Then we will have to go. I don’t think Hogwarts would survive the second coming of Bellatrix Black,” he said with more than a little pride in his voice.

 

 

Chapter Text

Hermione climbed the final staircase to the 7th floor. She never expected to become so familiar with it, but it was coming to occupy more of her time than the library. Sadly as her interests had turned, the books in the castle had little to offer. The place that had once been her refuge no longer held her interest. She couldn’t blame the edifice itself. The little incident with McGonagall had sullied the perfection of the space. If she could avoid going, she did and always attended in a group. It was an odd adjustment to work in a group having been so independent, but her housemates were kind and knew better than to ask questions. They simply accepted her as she was and loved her all the same. Ironically, in spite of being far ahead in all of her courses, she had less free time than ever before. At least, she surmised that it would make time seem as though it were moving faster. And frankly, it could not move fast enough.

She watched in fascination as the stones of the wall rearranged themselves. Even with the powerful magic she wielded, the intricacy and ingenuity of the castle was impressive. Not to mention it was quite interesting that the room (and perhaps the castle itself) seemed to have not chosen a side. It allowed the so-called Dumbledore’s Army and the activities of the youngest of the Dark Lord’s followers equal access. Without fail it supplied her with whatever she needed, no matter how complex. She pushed the door open to find a very confused Draco standing before the vanishing cabinet. The rest of the room was not the usual cluttered mess it was when the blonde wizard worked alone.

“What in the bloody hell did you just do,” he squeaked.

Hermione couldn’t contain a peal of laughter at the undignified tone.

“Honestly, Hermione. I don’t know what is so funny. I have never been so frightening in my life. The room rearranged itself. Remind me never to be in here when you change your afternoon plans.”

The young witch smirked at his dramaticism, it reminded her very much of his mother. “Oh, but Draco, look I brought you a present.” She produced the necklace from her pocket and dangled it in front of him.

“I suppose,” he started slowly searching for words. “I’m not entirely certain that it matches my eyes.”

She smacked his arm hard enough to sting a little. “As much as I would relish you wearing it, I had something else in mind.”

“Did you, indeed?”

“As you know, it needs to be the toughest piece of jewelry ever created.”

“I think I like where this is going,” he said with a smirk.

“Then I suppose you don’t mind the idea of practicing a few spells and see if we can get anywhere.”

Draco drew his wand with a flourish and stepped away from the cabinet he had been working on. “I could use a break. I was able to send an apple.”

“Do you think it actually arrived at the other side?”

“That is the question, isn’t it,” he said jovially. His manner almost covered his frustration at the constant disappointment. She couldn’t imagine it was easy playing sidekick. For his sake, she hoped it would soon be successful. Since the spring term resumed, she had helped him very little. It would be his victory when the time arrived.

“Then a little distraction is warranted while we wait.”

“Agreed. What kinds of spells should we start with?”

Hermione had been contemplating that very question all day. So long as they were methodical, it didn’t really matter. She had used a complex set of protection spells, but she was facing the very real possibility that a simple spell could be the one that would break the illusion. So long as Dumbledore was alive the objects would have to be very convincing. She didn’t want to run the risk of him discovering the gambit they were running. She had put so very much at stake when she volunteered for the task. Her darling family’s lives were in her hands. While she had not known them her entire life, they knew and loved her better than anyone ever had.

“I think we start with the simplest first. Things we learned as first years, and then try to progress from there,” she answered finally.

“And if we succeed, what exactly have you spelled to come out of that thing?” He looked at the inanimate object with a fair amount of accusation.

“Oh Draco, I would so hate to ruin the surprise,” she grinned.

“You mean you don’t exactly know.”

“Yes, that is exactly what I mean. We’ll just hope for the best, yes?”

Draco groaned and rolled his eyes. “I feel so much less good about this now. If we get hurt…”

“Your mother will kill us. I am well aware. But we can’t let her suck all of the fun out of our afternoon, now can we. Raise your wand, blondie.”
“Alright, Black. Tell me, do you remember the first spell we learned in charm’s class?”

Hermione cackled a shade too similar to her wife for Draco’s comfort. “Wingardium leviosa it is!”

She watched with great amusement as he levitated the necklace to the upper reaches of the ceiling and released the spell. The necklace clattered against the hardwood floor. Side by side they crept forward slowly. They stood over it feeling foolish.

“Well I suppose that wasn’t it,” Draco said finally. “What's up next then?”

“Lumos, I think.” Hermione cast the spell, but again nothing happened.

For the next hour they cast constantly escalating spells. After about 15 minutes, they’d shed their outer robes. After 30, they’d rolled up their sleeves. By the top of the hour, they were sweating and a bit out of breath. Eventually, Draco sat on the floor exhausted. Hermione laid down beside him grinning.

“That went well,” she gasped.

“Yea. I think I am pretty much out of ideas.”

“Me too, honestly. Destruction is more Bella’s specialty,” Hermione bemoaned. She missed her witch terribly.

Draco was preparing himself to once again show her sympathy over the situation. He genuinely felt bad for her during the separation, but was running out of new things to say about it. He was saved from providing a response by a loud clunk from inside the vanishing cabinet on the other side of the room. They looked at each other in astonishment and scrambled to their feet. Hermione circled the object slowly wand drawn. She didn’t hear Draco mutter the spell to open the cabinet, but the creak of the door opening drew her attention. His happy laughter made her lower her wand to her side.

“Holy shit, ‘Mione. It worked. It fucking worked.” He beamed tossing her an apple. “And if I am not mistaken, that’s your wife’s handy work.”

Hermione looked at the apple in her hard with a large bite taken out and joined him in laughter. Only her wife would send that back as a response instead of a note.

“Congradulations. That is amazing,” she said throwing her arms around him. “I am so proud of you.”

“Thanks. It feels really good.”
“I wonder if I could get your mother to reward me for your success.” Her eyes sparkled with mischief.

“Oh Merlin. Must that be the image in my head the first time I achieve something???”

“I would hate for you to forget your family now that you are an up and coming wizard,” she said with a grin.

“I feel like we should celebrate,” he said excitedly.

“Oh yes, I agree. I can procure a few items fairly easily,” she answered haughtily. “But first. Lets see if you can duplicate your success.” She dangled the necklace from her fingertips.

“You want to see if your wife can destroy it?”

“Well I am sure a few others will want to have a go at it as well. But, yea. Let me grab a piece of parchment to send with it.” She handed him the necklace and jogged over to her bag. With a wave of her hand the parchment and quill flew to her. She leaned low over it while scribbling furiously. She cast a drying spell followed by a folding spell, before she pulled her wand. Closing her eyes she cast the normal regime of protection spells.

“You made that look rather complicated,” Draco said with an easy smile as she walked towards him.

“By design. So what do you say, Draco. Can you send these through?”

“Here is hoping.” He took the parchment and returned to the cabinet. Setting them inside he closed the door. With a deep breath he cast the spell, waited a beat and opened the door again.

“Is it empty?”

He closed the door again. “It is. Shall we return to the dungeon?”

“I think its a good idea. I would love to get out of these clothes. And I will see if I can’t get a little something worthy of a celebration.”

They picked up their things and happily exited the Room of Requirement. Just as the doors closed behind them and the stones rearranged themselves, a familiar voice droned in the silence of the hallway.

“Mister Malfoy and Madame Black. It seems two of my houses prefects decided to skip dinner drawing the attention of the headmaster and deputy headmaster. You two will come and serve detention now,” Snape hissed.

Hermione tensed at the tone of voice. She couldn’t remember the last time he actually sounded angry with either of them. She heard Draco mumble his agreement, while she just stared at the dark wizard. His dark eyes moved quickly to the right side. She could only assume that they were not alone. She nodded obediently and followed him to the dungeons. She fought the urge to look around or draw her wand. But she trusted Severus implicitly.

When they walked through the doors of his classroom, he whipped out his wand sealing them in and protecting them from interference.

“Which one of you is going to take responsibility for this?”

Hermione was again taken back by how she was being spoken to, but wasn’t in the mood to back down.

“We both know at the end of the day that lands with me, Severus. What of it?” She hissed and began to pace.

“What of it? You have two members of the Order breathing down your necks and mine. Showing up for meals is easy. I don’t really worry about your lunch attendance, but dinner.”

“We got distracted, godfather,” Draco said sweetly clearly trying to de-escalate the situation.

“Not now, Draco,” Hermione and Snape said at the same time.

“When would you have us work? We have to balance school and our extra assignments. We are watched all the time.”

“During meals is not going to work, Hermione. That is what I am telling you. You may well be the Dark Lord’s darling follower, but I swore on my life to Narcissa that I would protect you both this year. If that means disrupting your plans, then so be it.”

Hermione threw both of her hands in the air and stared into the fireplace with her back to the men behind her.

“Do you have another suggestion,” Draco asked tentatively, hoping not to be shut down again.

“I do. You both have detention during afternoon free periods for the rest of the semester to teach you some responsibility.”

“You are kidding me,” Hermione erupted again. “You cannot expect me to do the most complex magic ever executed without a place to do it.”

“You will do it here.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Severus. I will blow apart your classroom. Get me a meeting with the Dark Lord. This isn’t going to work.”

“I know you are tired and frustrated, Hermione. But you cannot pull rank on me here. These instructions are not coming from him.”

“Then whom?”

“Your wife and sister-in-law, of course.”

Hermione’s face darkened before she took a deep breath and forced her shoulders to relax. “Fine. I will take it up with them.”

“As you wish. Now, I’ve heard there is cause for celebration. Is there news you would like to share?”

The young witch motioned to Draco.

“Yes,” he said smiling broadly. “The cabinet is working, for small objects at least.”

“That is very well done, Draco. I am very proud. Why do I think that is not everything?” The professor stared at the obviously pouting witch. She again motioned to Draco.

“Hermione transfigured a necklace that was indestructible as far as we could tell,” Draco answered slowly.

“Did you, indeed?”

“It was sufficient to the extent of our destructive abilities. I’ve shared it with those who have a greater repertoire,” she answered vaguely not moving closer to them.

“Very good. Well I am glad to hear of the progress,” Severus said trying to sort through her tone, finding he had no reference.

“If thats all, then I am going to bed. I haven’t slept in nearly 48 hours.” Hermione turned towards the door without waiting for a response.

“Very well. Draco walk with her,” the professor answered quietly. He hoped his tone now didn’t betray how worried he was. The witch seemed to be under more strain than he had anticipated.

Hermione was halfway out the door barely pausing to remove the wards as she did so. She walked with purpose, not worrying if he caught up. It wasn’t that far to the dorms and she was angry enough that if anyone tried to stop her that she would fire off an unforgivable curse without second thought. She only skidded to a stop when she turned to go to the girl’s half of the dormitory. “I’ll see you in the morning, Draco.” She said it as gently as she could, but knew it didn’t come across with any warmth.

The last few steps to her door her eyes filled with tears obscuring her vision. She opened the door and slipped inside, resting her forehead against the solid wood door. She didn’t fight against the tears falling down her face or the strangled sob. She didn’t move when soft arms encircled her waist. They were distinctly feminine and could only belong to two women.

“Oh love, please don’t cry,” the witch whispered gently.

Hermione spun in the strong arms and buried her head in dark curls. After a long moment, she framed the strong cheekbones with her hands. “Are you real? Are you here, Bella?”

“I am very real,” the dark witch whispered leaning forward to capture her lips passionately.

Hermione leaned into the kiss feeling the weight of the last few weeks leaving her body.

“I’ve heard you were very tired, let me put you to bed,” Bellatrix said. She stroked her hands over her wife’s body pulling off the layers of clothes.

“How did you get in?” Though the young witch questioned, she didn’t resist the questing hands that had already removed all of her clothes.

“Cissy and the elf. Don’t worry I haven’t used any magic. No one will know I am here. You’ve been working out, I see. I would cast the cleansing spell myself, but…”

Hermione took a breath summoning the spell, allowing it to wrap it around them both.

“That was bold, little witch. Who says you are even getting my clothes off?”

“I need you, Bella. I need you close to me. I feel like I am losing my mind,” she said pressing her nude body against the lace dress of her wife.

“You did very good work today, love. The locket is perfect. I will have fun trying to destroy it tomorrow. I gather you were unable to.” She paused to feel her wife nod against her neck. “Good. Now tell me what you need.”

“I just need you,” Hermione said quietly. “I’ve missed you so much.” Tears began filling her eyes again.

“Hush now, little witch. I’m right here. Let me take care of you. Lay down.” She guided her flat on her back. She felt her clothes stripped from her body by Hermione’s magic. “Cheeky witch,” Bella muttered and lowered herself onto the soft prone body.

Chapter Text

At Narcissa's insistence, Hermione was far more careful about getting enough rest. The blonde had accurately noted that the expenditure of magic to transform that fake horcruxes was exhausting. She had managed the diadem in the last week. It made her want to sleep for an entire weekend, but knew it would draw far too much attention. Each morning she had forced herself out of bed and tried not to think of how much easier her recovery would be if she were with her wife. Her last request to see the dark witch had been denied. While she understood the necessity of it, she was offended. How much did she have to give to the cause to receive the  privilege  of seeing her spouse? She knew that her current reaction was immature, but she simply didn't want to spend time with anyone else.

So for the last few days she hadn't requested Narcissa's presence. Instead of staying privately in her room midday, she put on her best bitch face and went to the Great Hall with her housemates. While there were certainly prying eyes at her presence, due to the very public location no one questioned her. She felt Severus' eyes on her as frequently as McGonagall's, but she was so fed up with his intervention that she didn't frankly care if he was worried. She would attend his detention, but that didn't mean she was required to interact. She felt mild guilt over how her behavior was affecting Draco, but he was not without friends and a support system. He could stand on his own for a few months without her assistance.

It didn't help that she could feel her wife's lingering frustration over the situation too. It buzzed just under her skin. Everytime she felt it distinctly she tried to take a deep breath and calm herself. If she could feel Bellatrix, there was no doubt that the dark witch could feel her as well. As angry as Hermione was at the situation, she didn't want to put her love in potential danger by being a distraction. She had noted enough flashes of adrenaline to know that the dark witch was spending large amounts of time in the field. She couldn't help but wish that her devious wife might sneak into the school to her. Rationally she knew that it was a terrible idea, but it did nothing to curb her longing.

"Miss Granger, if you could please demonstrate that you are at least paying attention in my class, it would be greatly appreciated," a searing scottish voice cut through her thoughts.

Hermione felt the darkest part of her magic clamouring to get out at the insult. Her mental walls dropped for just a moment, but she saw the professor's eyebrows raise in response. The Slytherin pulled her walls tight and glared at the woman. Her hand twitched. She wanted nothing more than to draw her wand, but resisted.

"Please perform the bird conjuring charm, Miss Granger," the professor continued unperturbed by her student's response.

"Yes, Professor," Hermione said keeping her voice as steady and disinterested as she could muster. She rolled her neck to refocus herself closing her eyes. She took her wand her in hand in the least aggressive way she could, and performed the spell with ease.

"Well done, Miss Granger. 5 points to Slytherin," the transfiguration professor groused.

Hermione finally exhaled when the witch's attention was drawn to her favorite student. At least Lavender was good for something. For the rest of the class period, she focused on keeping her walls up and her mind blank. She hoped that her slip hadn't been too damning. How much could the professor really make of her desire to see her wife besides to realize that the Order really didn't have a chance with her. It was pretty unbelievable that they hadn't yet caught on.

"Hey, Hermione. Are you going to the Great Hall for lunch today," Pansy asked as they were packing their things at the end of class.

"Yea. I think so. Would you care to walk together?"

Pansy smiled and fell in step beside her friend. She would never claim to really understand Hermione, but she respected and cared for the witch. She hoped that after the war was over that there might be time for them to build a real friendship. It was clear that the witch was so over tasked at the moment that she was struggling to stay above water. Pansy was determined to do what she could to lighten the burden, even if that meant just being someone to sit silently with at meals. She hadn't forgotten how the witch was treated back when she was in Ravenclaw. There was a good reason for Hermione not to trust any of them with her secrets. And yet, it was impossible to miss that the witch was more morose than usual. She couldn't imagine that the pouring rain was doing anything to lighten her spirits. It was causing the stone corridors of the school to look almost as they did at night. It was cool, damp and positively miserable.

"That was a pretty impressive transfiguration, Hermione. Have you thought about doing it as a profession?" Pansy sought to find a neutral topic to engage the witch in.

"I…" Hermione faltered. "I really hadn't given it any thought. I have no idea what I want to do after everything. Do you have plans for after school?"

"My mum really wants me to be a mediwitch. Even if I marry well, its always useful to have a healer on hand. I think she would model me on Madame Malfoy if she could."

Hermione smiled lightly at the name of the blonde witch. She felt such warm affection for the woman even as frustrated as she was. "I cannot imagine there being anyone better to emulate." She watched her friend's face light up. It was a new experience to cause such joy in another person with simple words.


 

Lunch had been a blessedly quiet affair. The weather and workload seemed to be causing widespread melancholy among the student body. It had been even more relaxing, because neither Dumbledore nor McGonagall were present. Hermione ate as patiently as she could manage, but was still ready to go far earlier than any of her classmates. She started to get up only to see Pansy panic about going with her.

"Don't rush, please." Hermione placed a placating hand on the girl's shoulder. "I'm just going to go back to the dungeons. Nothing to worry about I promise." The Slytherin studied her face closely before nodding her agreement much to Hermione's relief. More than anything she was craving space, even as much as she appreciated the comradery being offered. After exiting the Great Hall she wound quickly through the dark corridors on her way to her dormitory.

She rounded a corner into a deserted hallway only to come to a full stop. The rhythmic clicking of boots echoed loudly. The cadence alone caused her heart rate to speed up dramatically.

"Bella," she whispered reverently. She shook her head hoping to dispel the hallucination if it was such. Wild curls came into view and Hermione found herself backed efficiently against a wall.

"Hello, Hermione," the ruby lips whispered close to her ear, but without touching. "I think we ought to take this somewhere a bit more private."

Unable to contain herself, the young witch pulled her lover quickly through the last of the journey after casting a disillusionment spell over them. Thankfully the common room was entirely deserted. Hermione had no interest in answering any questions about what she was doing. She had far more pressing issue to see to at the moment. Her hands shook as she unwarded the door to her room. And they were no more steady when she warded and sound proofed it again.

"Mmm. Your room is lovely," Bella purred watching the young witch's movements.

Hermione quirked an eyebrow at that. Her wife had been in this room before and never said a word about the decor. In fact, previously the dark witch had been so focused on loving her she had barely spoken aloud. Bellatrix knew full well that speaking inside Hermione's head made her embarrassingly wet. If the dark witch wasn't interested in instigating, she would be more than happy to do so.

"Bella, please," she whispered quietly in her mind. She searched the dark eyes for recognition, but surprisingly found none. The woman, who she was beginning to doubt was her wife, stepped closer to her once again to run a hand through her curls.

"Your hair is so pretty like this."

The voice sounded like Bella, and yet not. Hermione knew she had to find a way to get her wand in her hand. She didn't need the piece of wood for her personal defence, but she suspected that it would be more threatening jammed under the pale throat she had to remind herself was not her wife's. Hoping to distract the intruder with her compliance, she began to remove her outer robe, so that she could get the wand in her hand without suspicion.

"I wear it everyday like this just for you," Hermione cooed.

The enamoured look she got in return was not quite the way Bella would look at her. She was holding her rage at bay, but just barely. Of all the weeks for someone to impersonate the woman she loved, they really chose the wrong one. Hermione would really enjoy firing off a few punishing spells. She focused on slowly unbuttoning her top one handed to distract the woman from the wand in her right hand. When she had once again closed the difference between them she leaned close to whisper.

"Who the fuck are you? Because you certainly are not my wife," she hissed bringing the tip of her wand under the familiar chin.

Large dark eyes went wide. "What do you mean, Hermione? Of course it is me," the woman stuttered out attempting to regain her mental footing.

"No. You aren't. Just drop the act and perhaps we can move forward. Accio wand." The wand, most certainly not Bella's, flew into her left hand. She moved back just enough to look at it. "That narrows it down. You are not McGonagall, a member of my family or a housemate. So again, witch. Who are you?"

"Hermione, please this isn't what it looks like," the woman pled using Bella's voice.

"Sit," Hermione barked moving a chair towards her magically and binding her to it. "It is clear that you know my wife, quite well. Its not a bad impression of how she moves… or perhaps how she used to. I've been told she is quite different after prison. I doubt you are one of our Lord's followers. None of them would be so foolish. So you are a member of the Order. Are you not?"

"Yes." The answer was quiet and defeated.

"You have a very limited amount of time to explain yourself to me. This is a one time offer before I call the real Bellatrix Black. She will be far less forgiving of the person who attempted to seduce me."

"Please. Just hear me out."

"In a moment. Using her voice is really disturbing for me. How much longer to you have before it wears off?" Hermione began digging in a case with intent. She turned away from the witch with little fear. It was clear the woman was crumbling in front of her.

"Maybe 30 minutes at the most."

The young witch sighed in annoyance, but clasped a bottle of potion firmly. "This will not change you back, but it will prevent you from lying to me. You will drink it." She watched the dark eyes evaluate her, but the woman hesitantly nodded her agreement. Hermione opened the stopped and poured it into the open mouth. "Now, if you would be so kind as to explain to me what is going on."

"I was sent to seduce you to steal you away from Bellatrix."

"By pretending to be her? What were you going to say? That we were switching sides?"

"Exactly. It was believed if I could get you into bed, that I could break whatever hold she has over you. And you would cling to me instead."

Hermione held in a scoff. She had no intention of handing over any information about her relationship with Bellatrix to this intruder. It was naturally absurd that anyone could tear her away from her soulmate.

"Why?"

"They can't allow you to have a child. They know that they won't have a chance against a Bellatrix defending her wife and child. They still think they can win you to their side. They won't listen to reason. They don't know Bellatrix at all. If she has you, they have already lost unless they find a way to eliminate her."

"Who the hell are you to act like you know her?"

"I'm her sister."

"Narcissa," Hermione asked raising her wand again. "What the fuck, Cissy!"

"No. No, you misunderstand. I am not Narcissa. My name is Andromeda," the witch said as her body convulsed and started to shift back to its original state.

Chapter Text

Hermione watched the painful transformation and tried to sort out her thoughts. This was destined to simply be the shittiest week on record. Not that she had time to dwell on it. If she wanted answers from the witch she was going to have to get them quickly. She had no doubt that the cavalry would be arriving soon. Her terror had no doubt alerted Bella.

"If you have more to say, Andromeda, I would suggest talking now."

"Then the family prophecy is true. She can feel you, can't she?"

Hermione regarded the woman in front of her. She did look very much like Bella even without the polyjuice. Thankfully she had her own voice. "We are not going to talk about me. So you might as well give up on that," she said dismissively.

"But don't you see that you've changed everything. The Blacks can come out of the shadows."

"Is that where you have been hiding?"

"No. My history with our family is more complicated than that. I made a very foolish decision when I was a teenager. I thought I understood the world. So I rebelled and lost everything that was familiar. At first, it was wonderful. The freedom was exhilarating and I thought that I found real love. And maybe it was for a time, but Ted wasn't the man I loved. I tried to convince myself that I was happy. That a normal life was what I wanted."

"If that’s true, then why did you stay away?" Hermione knew that her two Black sisters could be a handful when upset.

"I burned too many bridges. The Dark Lord was gone. Bella was in Azkaban. I have betrayed them."

"Why now, Andromeda?"

"Because, if I stayed I would die without ever being able to tell my sisters that I love them and that I am sorry. Even if I don't survive today, at least I will have that." Tears were running freely down her face.

"And an attempt on me was your best plan?"

"I've been looking for a way to get close to one of you. And the Order was foolish enough to think that this little plan would work. They know nothing of the ancient magic they are trying to subvert."

"And you haven’t told them? Not even your husband?"

"He is dead, but our relationship was over before he died. It was a secret from most, but the love was long over between us. And I never stopped being a Black. Some secrets are not to be shared."

 

"Did you think an attempt on me would raise you in Bella's eyes?" Hermione hissed. The thought alone of anyone trying to take what was clearly her wife's, made her blood boil.

 

Andromeda laughed darkly, so like her older sister. "No, Hermione. I never expected to get that far. I suspected that you would not be fooled for long, but I would have stopped before it got serious. I am the one Black sister who doesn’t particularly crave a feminine touch.”

 

The young witch breathed a sigh of relief. It was oddly comforting that the other woman’s actions were not entirely about her. Having a bit of focus on someone else was entirely welcome. While she didn’t mind the celebrity that came along with being Bellatrix’s wife, when they were apart it was a constant reminder of what she was missing.

 

“I suppose you will also want to know what my best case scenario is,” Andromeda continued haughtily.

 

Hermione could not help rolling her eyes. Even after decades away from her family, the bound woman in front of her was no doubt a Black. “Only if you wish me to be able to plead your case. Whoever comes to check on me is unlikely to be overly friendly.”

 

“I want my life back. I know it will take a great deal to earn back trust, particularly Bella’s. But I am willing to put in the effort and deal with whatever restrictions are required.” She swept her dark eyes over the figure of the young girl searching her face for any traces that she was believed.

 

“Alright,” Hermione said after a long pause. She began pacing trying to imagine how she would manage an irate Bella and/or Narcissa.

 

The snap of elf apparition made her freeze in her tracks and tense. Before she could turn to face whomever came to her rescue a strong feminine arm circled her waist and pulled her close. Blonde hair fell over her shoulder and a wand pointed directly at the bound woman.

 

“Andy?” Narcissa hissed icily. She didn’t loosen her hold on Hermione. She was comforted by the young woman’s arm laid gently over her own. The woman wasn’t trembling in her arms which was a good sign. And now that she had reoriented after the transportation by her elf, Narcissa noted that her wayward sister was securely tied to a chair.

 

Hermione slowly slid her arm down Narcissa’s wand arm caressing gently as she moved it down. “We are safe, Cissy. She is secured beyond being able to move and under the influence of veritaserum.”  She turned to face the blonde, knowing the older woman would still be able to watch her sister. Hermione leaned up and placed a placating kiss at the corner of Narcissa’s mouth.

 

“What happened that caused you to panic? It looks like you have the situation rather in hand. Bella flew off the handle. She practically fell over you were so afraid. Lucius nearly had to resort to violence to convince her not to storm the castle.”

 

“I’m so sorry, Cissy. She was polyjuiced to look like Bella and she made a halfhearted attempt to seduce me.”

 

Predictably Narcissa raised her arm and started to advance on her sister. “How dare you, Andromeda,” she growled.

 

“Cissy, darling. Wait.” Hermione lunged after her. “It isn’t so simple. What she attempted was unwise, but hear her out. She may be the extra advantage we are looking for. She is a member of the Order. Imagine the information we could gain.” She eyed Andromeda as she spoke, hoping the woman would stay silent if she disagreed with her statements. The young woman knew the Black sisters well enough to understand that they were not emotionally ready to welcome their long lost sister home with open arms. But she hoped that the woman’s betrayal of the Order and the sabotaging of their effort to steal Hermione might buy them enough time that the sisters would be open to her return.

 

“Is that right?” Chilling blue eyes refocused on Hermione. “Well, I am certain it is not for me to decide. Can you bind her upright? I am not sure how the castle would react to furniture being removed even by elf magic. And you are coming with us. Bella will have my head if she does not get to lay eyes on you herself.”

 

“Of course, Cissy.” With a casual flick of her hand, Andromeda was propelled up without ever being unbound. “I don’t need to bring anything with me, do I?”

 

“Your wand might be helpful. You know full well that your wife is less likely that I am to be coerced with a snuggle and a kiss.” The blue eyes flashed in warning.

 

“So long as you are clear that it was not disingenuous in any way. I miss my real life constantly,” Hermione lowered her voice so that only the blonde could hear her.

 

“I know you do, little witch. In a few short months you will be home for good. The road won’t be easy, but we will all walk it together.”

 

Hermione willed her eyes not to mist at the sweet words as she stepped into the blonde’s arms.

 

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Andromeda said dramatically. “Must we waste time on such sentimentality? I risked my bloody life just to see you and Bella again, Narcissa. Can we please get on with it?”

 

Hermione barely suppressed the urge to throttle the witch. She had been very gently moving Narcissa towards being open to hearing what her sister had to say, and the commentary was not helpful.

 

“Well, I must say I am glad to know that Hermione’s potion making hasn’t slipped. I will deal with you, sister, when I see fit. And not a moment sooner. But I hope you do remember Bellatrix’s tendency to hex first and ask questions later. If you value your life at all, I would suggest keeping your mouth shut,” Narcissa said sharply.

 

Andromeda looked at her feet, seemingly thoroughly chastised.

 

“And you, Hermione. I expect you to do what you can to calm down the situation with your wife. I know you have both been distressed the last few weeks. You should not be seeing her tonight, but you should not waste this opportunity. Am I understood?”

 

“Yes. Of course, Cissy.”

 

“Good, little witch.” She ran her hand affectionately down Hermione’s face. "Come take my arm.”

 

As Hermione moved to her side, the house elf walked between the bound Andromeda and Narcissa. Without warning, they were apparated into the library of Malfoy Manor. A firm push to the middle of her back by the blonde sent her tumbling into her wife’s waiting arms.

 

The dark witch happily gathered the young woman protectively into her. She inhaled the scent of her deeply while accessing the danger of the situation. When she found none, she leaned down and captured Hermione’s lips in a possessive kiss. The young woman happily reciprocated, sinking fully into the embrace. When they broke apart, she quietly moaned Bella’s name. The dark witch took a long moment to look at the beautiful woman in front of her. Seeing her in the flesh was exactly what she needed, regardless of the reason that had brought them together.

 

“If you could spare a moment, Bella, I believe we have something to deal with,” Narcissa prodded.

 

“Very well, Cissy,” the dark witch said acting as though she was very much put upon to comply. She turned from Hermione, but slipped her arm around her waist keeping her close. “Our prodigal sister has returned. By the lack of drawn wands, it must be an interesting story. No,” she continued before she could be interrupted, “I did not miss that she is bound. And then there is the matter of how I felt earlier. So who would like to begin?”

 

“Your wife fed me veritaserum, so I suppose I would be the most forthcoming,” Andromeda said with obvious nerves.

 

“What makes you think I want to hear anything you have to say, bloodtraitor?” Bellatrix growled at her sister with more venom than Hermione had heard in her voice for a while.

 

“I had feared I would not even make it far enough to speak. I have no doubt that Hermione could have easily killed me. The rumors are clearly true that she is one of the Dark Lord’s favorites,” the witch spoke softly.

 

“You do not get to speak of either of them,” Bellatrix roared advancing intimidatingly towards her middle sister. “Speak swifty, sister. My wand is feeling a bit jumpy tonight.”

 

Andromeda visibly bristled. Hermione had no doubt that the woman had faced her lover when she was angry before. Idly the young witch wondered how violent and cruel Bellatrix had been as a teenager. Or how often the Black sisters fought when they were children.

 

“I masqueraded as you at the behest of the Order. They had hoped they could send someone as you to impregnate your wife and woo her away afterwards. I convinced them that I would be the most logical choice. After all, who among them would know you better?”

 

Bellatrix sighed. She had feared that the Order might try something against her wife. This was particularly invasive and she could not wait to inflict extreme violence on the lot of them. She nodded mutely at Andromeda to continue.

 

“I wasn’t foolish enough to think I could succeed, but I convinced them it was possible. It's common knowledge that I know the ancient fertility rites better than others in the Order. I knew it would possibly be my only chance to find my way back to my family. In capturing me, I hoped you might give me a chance. Walking up to the front door likely would not have gone well. And after all, I could not allow anyone else to even touch a Black without permission,” Andromeda continued quickly not daring to look up. “I’m done with pretending to be someone I’m not. No matter how far I ran, I was always a Black. The same blood runs through my veins. I never belonged in that world. And I was never accepted. It took me far too long to come home, but better to die here than continue to live that way.”

 

Bellatrix stared mouth agape at the honesty. She had never known her sister to readily admit fault or act humbly. Neither were things that were taught in the Black household. She found that she didn’t properly know how to react to the statement. Her pause allowed Lucius to sweep in.

 

“Well Andromeda, that is quite the tale. I have no doubt that our Lord would like to hear it. You are intent on regaining his favor, I gather?” The blonde wizard was all charm, clearly hoping to de-escalate the emotional situation

 

Dark eyes rose from the floor to meet his. “I will do anything I must to rejoin my family. Our Lord may have any knowledge I possess and use it to his advantage. I just want a chance.”

 

“All I can promise is that I will call him. You know as well as I do that his reaction will be his own.”

 

Andromeda nodded solemnly. She knew the wizard’s moods well. She used to know them better than most, but of course that was ancient history now. She would be lucky if he didn’t torture her to death.

 

Lucius flicked his wand, binding only her wrists so she could follow him through the house. As they walked out of the room, Narcissa stepped closely to Hermione and Bella.

“Take the evening with your wife,” the blonde said to her older sister. “Lucius and I will see to this other situation. I will be back before dawn to return you to Hogwarts, Hermione. I will have a pepper-up in hand.”

 

“Thank you,” Hermione said in relief. She could not bear to be taken from Bella so soon. The blonde nodded and turned to follow her husband.

 

“I don’t…” Bellatrix started quietly stumbling over the words. “Tell our Lord I do not wish her to die. If she is telling the truth, I want our sister back.”

 

“Me too, Bella. Only time will tell. Try not to get your hopes up,” Narcissa said voice full of affection for the warrior in front of her. “Enjoy your wife. Let me take care of this.”

 

The head of dark curls nodded as the blonde turned to leave. Hermione saw her opening and pressed more fully against her lover’s curves.

 

“Take me to bed, Bellatrix,” she whispered and captured an earlobe between her teeth. “I’ve missed you and I would like to show you exactly how much.”

 

Chapter Text

“Well, hello there, little witch,” Bella hissed at the teeth nipping at her ear.

“I’ve missed you, Bella,” Hermione said swirling her tongue around the shell of her ear. “I have had a dreadful week and I need you.”

“Need me to what?” The dark witch grasped at her wife’s robes keeping the full body contact. She liked being wanted. She had grown to need being wanted.

“I think you know, don’t you?” Hermione flirted and ran her hands up the corseted waist she loved.

“I have an idea, but I would hate not to be entirely clear on what you want from me.”

The young witch sighed and leaned into the smooth neck, tasting the warm skin. “Someone else attempted to have me. I had someone else’s hands and lips on me, even though it may have been mostly innocent.”

Bellatrix bristled at the reminder. Narcissa and Hermione had done a rather impressive job of downplaying what Andromeda had done. The thought of her bloodtraitor sister doing anything with her wife made her blood boil. With a firmness that she rarely used with the brunette she grasped her wrist and started dragging her to a bedroom. The young woman tripped along behind her keeping up with the brisk pace and change of location the best that she could. Bella practically threw the witch through the door before waving her wand dramatically to lock it.

“How far did she go?” Bellatrix stalked towards her wife. It was gratifying to see the young woman back away with each step she took. She hadn’t put her wand away. “Hermione,” she continued in the sing song taunt for which she had become known, “Where. Did. She. Touch. You?”

Hermione stopped her slow progression away from her very angry wife only when the back of  her knees hit the bed. She managed to stay upright, but only barely. She shuddered at the force of Bella’s voice and her body language. She had seen only glimpses of this side of the witch. She was equal parts intimidating and sexy as hell. There was very little that she wouldn’t do while Bella was in this state if the dark witch asked.

“She backed me against a wall. She touched my hair and she briefly held my hand.” Hermione answered as succinctly and honestly as she could.

Bellatrix stopped walking when their bodies were flush against one another. “Wise choice not to lie to me. Don’t worry, little witch. I am going to love you so thoroughly that you will never question to whom you belong. But there is the matter of other’s understanding of that fact.” The dark witch began stripping clothing away from her wife’s body. She didn’t tear the cloth away, but that was the last vestige of her self control. She was utterly and completely done with others believing that her wife was in any way available. When Hermione was standing in front of her without a stitch of clothing on, Bella broke the lingering silence.

“On your back, love. Let me see you,” she purred. She was pleased when Hermione complied enthusiastically. She took great comfort in the fact that, though outsiders seemed confused about the serious nature of their relationship, Hermione apparently had no doubts. With a subtle flick of her wand, the witch’s arms were affixed to the corners of the bed securely.

Predictably, Hermione tested the strength of the bonds. She relaxed her entire body in offering once she confirmed there was no escape from her current position. Being at Bella’s mercy was incredibly attractive and the only thing she had desired throughout the long week. She couldn’t help how her breath was coming in sharp pants.

Bellatrix hiked up her skirts enough to be able to climb over the prone body of her aroused wife. She enjoyed the whimpers in response to the lace of her gown scraping up tender skin and how Hermione strained against the restraints to try to get closer to her.

“It seems that in spite of our marriage that the general public is having a hard time grasping the idea that you are very much off the market,” Bellatrix spat. 

“Oh Bella. I am yours and only yours,” Hermione said breathlessly with no small measure of adoration in her voice.

The dark witch settled her hips over her wife’s so that she was sitting astride her. Based on the gasp below her, the young woman appreciated the lack of underclothes. It was easy enough to banish them magically while Hermione was evaluating her current situation. 

“Yes, you are mine,” she whispered roughly palming Hermione’s breasts drawing out a moan. “Its time to prove it.”

“Anything Bella. Anything at all.” She leaned up, seeking the dark witch’s lips. She was relieved when her wife acquiesced and captured her in a passionate kiss. It was possessive and demanding. Perfectly Bellatrix in every way. “I trust you,” she whispered against red lips when they finally parted. She watched enraptured as Bellatrix touched her wand to the tender skin of her forearm.

“You want to be reminded that you belong to me. You desire for it to be so apparent that it is impossible for anyone to deny it.”

“Yes, Bella. Please,” Hermione begged.

“As you wish little witch. There will be no changing it once it is done.” She stared down at her wife looking for any sign of real fear. There was clear trepidation, curiosity and love, but the beautiful creature below her didn’t see her as a monster. She placed her mouth on Hermione’s ear much like the witch had done to her earlier tugging on the earlobe. “And it is going to hurt, but I will love you so well after it is done.”

Hermione’s body was trembling and pressing closer to her. “Bella, please,” she whispered into the dark curls.

Bellatrix slowly lifted her wand just barely above the unblemished skin. She whispered quietly and darkly. The body beneath her jerked in reaction to the pain of the spell and Hermione moaned low. The dark witch ground lightly against her, unable to resist the incredibly sexy body any longer. With great care she continued the spell weaving the image into the skin of her lover. As she completed the magical branding, she leaned down to kiss the now sweaty and tender skin of Hermione’s forearm. The mark look even better than she had imagined.

“Bella,” Hermione croaked, clearly hoarse from the pain.

The dark witch kissed her gently. Marking the witch had calmed the fire raging within her and the way that Hermione had taken it was beyond attractive. Bellatrix kissed wetly down her throat enjoying the sheen of salt over her skin. When she reached heaving breasts, she found nipples already straining. She happily latched on to one, teething it gently. When her wife’s hips started rocking rhythmically, she switched to the other one. As she slithered down the quaking body, Bellatrix waved a hand releasing Hermione from her bonds. Hands instantly anchored in dark hair pushing her farther down.

“Enough teasing, Bella. Fuck me,” Hermione demanded.

The insistent fingers digging into her scalp caused the dark witch to moan against the wet flesh in front of her. The resulting jerk of Hermione’s body caused Bellatrix to move quickly. She poised two fingers at her wife’s entrance for a moment before plunging them firmly in. Fastening her mouth over her lover’s clit, Bella enjoyed the bowing of her wife’s back in pleasure. The dark witch set a pace that she knew would unravel Hermione as quickly as possible. The muscles pulling at her fingers suggested that the young witch was attempting not to come for her. Replacing her tongue with her thumb, she gazed up at the blissful look on her face.  

“Hermione,” she commanded quietly. She waited patiently until the brown eyes opened and focused on her. “Now.” 

She was pleased with the immediate tensing of every muscle in her wife’s body, followed by shouting of her name. She was unprepared for the change of positions Hermione executed just after climaxing. But Bellatrix was not disappointed with the image of her wife panting and pinning her to the bed.

“And what is it that I can do for you, Madame Black?” Hermione batted her eyelashes in the way that Bellatrix could not resist. 

“You can be a good girl and get me off, love.”  

“And why would I do that,” the young witch teased running her hands over the dress that hid the beautiful body from view.

“Because you are mine,” she hissed. Bellatrix turned her face enough to kiss the new mark on her wife’s arm.

Hermione looked down at her arm and the gentle caress it was receiving. She had been so distracted that she had yet to look at the brand cast by her wife. She took in the familiar crest as her wife moved back. She had been marked with the Black family crest. It was so utterly appropriate, though ironically would not have prevented Andromeda from taking action. Were it not for the writhing body beneath her, she might have teared up at the sentimentality of it. Others might not understand how such an action could be could be so incredibly romantic, but nothing about her relationship with Bellatrix was average.

“So I am,” she said reaching a hand beneath the black skirts. Her wife was positively soaked. Hermione would never tire of the physical proof of her wife’s desire. She slipped her fingers inside and gave Bellatrix the breadth to move as she wished. She enjoyed the feeling of the dark witch grinding against her hand with intent. She could tell that she was nearing the precipice.

“I am yours, Bellatrix Black,” Hermione whispered in reverence. The searing kiss spoke of more than possession, but also of love and the kind of connection that no other could ever replicate.

Bellatrix collapsed on the bed bonelessly pulling Hermione to her and kissing her damp hairline.

“I am so glad to see you,” the dark witch managed through attempting to catch her breath.

“You have no idea, my love.” Hermione snuggled deeper into the embrace.

“Rough week?”

“Something like that. But this has vastly improved it.” Hermione rotated her arm admiring the mark her wife left on her skin.  

“It does look good on you,” Bellatrix answered in a smug voice.

Hermione playfully hit her stomach. “Everything looks good on me.”

“Nothing looks better than what you are wearing now.”

“You are a pervert, Bellatrix Black,” the young witch yawned into the witch’s neck.

“I never claimed to be anything else. And don’t even think about going to sleep. I have you until dawn. We can sleep when we are dead. Until then, you are mine.”


 

 Narcissa stood outside of a warded guestroom. It was not the room that she designated for her sister and young wife, but then again the warding was so sloppily done it was clear that Bellatrix was rather vexed when she cast it. Had anyone aside from Hermione been inside with the dark witch, Narcissa would have been worried that body disposal would have likely been a necessity. As the lock on the door finally gave way, the blonde stepped into the warm air that smelled of significant physical exertion. It was tempting to open a window. She would have to make sure to tell an elf to do so later.

The two lightly snoring women were predictably naked and intertwined. It reminded Narcissa of when she walked into the library the afternoon Hermione learned of her connection to Bellatrix. She found it impossible to describe the sense of peace that seemed to flow from them. Not to mention how the expanses of pale skin were incredibly attractive. If it were a different type of morning, she would be sorely tempted to crawl into bed and wake them up slowly. Unfortunately, as she had warned the witches, Hermione had to be back to Hogwarts before the sun rose.

Sitting primly on the edge of the bed, Narcissa ran her hand lightly over the curves of Hermione’s silhouette. She continued to be such a beacon of light, even if she had clearly been having a tantrum all week. No matter how brilliant or talented the young woman was, she was clearly still a teenager with all of the challenges inherent therein. The blonde smiled as the nude body shifted and hummed at her touch.

“Hermione, darling. It’s time to wake up,” Narcissa said gently sifting her hand through brown curls.

“I don’t want to,” Hermione mumbled rolling over and snuggling into Narcissa’s skirts.

“I know you don’t, but you have to get back to Hogwarts. Important business, like following my directions and not ditching your escorts,” the blonde said in a light tone.

To her delight brown eyes opened lazily and stared up at her in adoration. Sleepily, Hermione reached up with every intention of touching the defined cheek bones and soft lips. Halfway to her goal, her hand was snatched and moved so that Narcissa could more clearly see the mark on her arm.

“Bellatrix Black, what the fuck is this,” Narcissa said louder than was entirely necessary.

“I suspect it is whatever the fuck it looks like. It’s too bloody early, Cissy. Come back later.”

“Not a chance, Bella. I am going to be escorting Hermione back to school right after you explain yourself.”

With a huff, the dark witch rolled over and begrudgingly opened her eyes.

 “Oh that. Well my dear sister, that is the Black family crest. Have you forgotten what it looks like?”

“I know very well what it is. What I was asking was how it came to be permanently affixed to her arm,” the blonde spat.

“I put it there. It was time for everyone to know. I am tired of hiding this,” Bellatrix answered fully awake and ready for a fight.

Hermione sat up and grasped Narcissa’s hands drawing her attention.

“Cissy, look at my arm. What does it say about me?”

The blue eyes scanned her critically before the woman answered slowly. “That you belong to the Black family.”

“Precisely. It says that I am Bella’s. And that I am yours. And that nothing and no one can change that,” Hermione said without a trace of doubt in her voice.

“This,” Narcissa said tracing the outlines of the mark reverently. “This, you can use to show others that you have been thoroughly and permanently changed. But it isn’t for them.” 

“You are right it isn’t. Its for me. I am simply fortunate to have a wife who understands such needs before I can even put voice to them,” Hermione completed the thought and smiled at her wife.

“That is quite enough sap, you two. We must get Hermione back to school. Please tell me you brought potions. Today is going to be a very long day.” The dark witch interrupted.

“She is quite right, Hermione. We must be off.” Narcissa watched with appreciation as the woman stood up with little regard to her lack of clothing.

Chapter Text

Returning to school was somehow easier bearing the symbol of her family on her skin. Hermione was not keen to walk around showing it off, but knowing that it was just under her sleeve was a comfort. Though she was tired, she had to admit that she was extremely close to achieving the first part of her goal. She had functioning replicas of her Lord's horcruxes. They were nearly indestructible. And on the rare occasion one had been damaged, the explosion was dramatic. She doubted that the Order would have any idea they were fake.

With that done, it was time to finalize her experimentation and research to remind some of the horcruxes to their original soul. It remained unclear how much her Lord would really be willing to regain, but she wanted to at least be able to present it as a possibility. From what she had gathered so far, it was even more complex magic than to originally create the objects or even the copies. She would likely need the power boost of Bellatrix if her efforts were to be successful. Not that the idea of doing magic with her love was unappealing.

Dressing quickly, she prepared for the day.  A night with her wife was exactly what she needed regardless of the circumstances. She felt refreshed and ready to face the day. Just as she swung open the door to her room, Draco was preparing to knock on it. His surprise was evident in how his hand froze mid knock.

In a surprisingly gentle voice she said, "Good Morning, nephew," as she brushed past him. She enjoyed the look of confusion on his face as he hurried to catch up with her.

"You seem unusually happy this morning," he answered still jogging to catch up with her.

Hermione hummed her agreement. She felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. There was comfort in the fact that she had thwarted another plot cooked up by the Order. And the thought of the intelligence it might glean was energizing.

"I am," she answered simply offering no further explanation.

"I am quite certain that I do not want to know," he answered. He was helpless to resist her good mood. Hermione was far more charismatic than she realized. He realized almost immediately after the two soul mates met that he would follow them anywhere.

 




Breakfast was not the normal quiet affair. The school year was drawing to a close and the energy rolling off the Slytherin prefects led the rest of the house to roudy but happy meal. Professor Snape looked on from the teachers table, neither joining nor stopping them. When Hermione managed to catch his eye, he nodded imperceptibly before turning his attention elsewhere.

After they finished  their meal, the merry troop of Slytherins dispersed to their classes in small groups. Hermione and Draco walked cheerfully in the middle of their group of friends. She felt more carefree walking into the transfiguration classroom than she had in years. The idea of her family's crest on the skin of her wrist was thrilling. There was nothing the old cat could do to change it or her.  She carefully watched the demeanor of her professor. It was clear the Order member was uncomfortable in her presence today. The more jubilant the young witch acted, the more grave McGonagall's expression became. Though she kept it from her face, Hermione was elated at the prospect of finally getting a little space. There was a certain pleasure to the idea that she might finally have the upper hand.

Lunch and the rest of her classes flew by in joyous exhaustion that felt pleasantly unfamiliar.  She would end her day in the potions master's room as they did every day. But for the first time in weeks she wasn't dreading it. Her work was largely done, as was Draco's. They swung the door open chatting happily about the upcoming Slytherin and Ravenclaw quidditch game they were both looking forward to.

The dour look on Severus's face confused Hermione, but did not break her stride.

"Good afternoon, cousin. How are you?"

She greeted him warmly as she had not done for nearly two months. He glared at her for a moment, before his eyes softened slightly. He disliked that he was as defenseless as everyone else (except perhaps Narcissa) when faced with her charm.

"Good afternoon. You two have been in uncommonly good spirits. In fact, the entire school cannot seem to shut up about how gleeful the Slytherin house is today.  Would you care to explain the sudden decision to draw the attention of everyone on the grounds?"

Hermione's smile faltered only slightly. "I had a good night and realized how close I am to achieving my goals. Summer break is right around the corner. There are many things I am grateful for today."

Snape evaluated her slowly attempting to read if some sort of spell had been placed over her causing such unusual behavior. The only magical signature he could detect was Bella's.

"You have succeeded in terrifying the Order.  They are entirely certain that you murdered and hid Andromeda's body, as she never returned to them last night. And your good mood has convinced them you are a cold blooded killer to rival your wife."

He watched as fear and pride crossed her face. It was clear that she already cared for the witch who resembled her wife and feared for her safety.

"Andromeda is perfectly fine. She was extremely forthcoming due to your proficiency in potion making.  We garnered more information than we could have ever dreamed of in a single night. She is at Malfoy Manor in the care of Narcissa. So long as she does not betray our Lord, she will remain safe. He will dictate the extent of her freedom as he sees fit."

"And Bella," she asked ever concerned for the emotional well being of her lover.

"Bella, too, is in a wonderful mood. The Dark Lord’s followers find it as terrifying as Hogwarts finds you. She remains wary of Andromeda. Which has me wondering what could have cheered her so, if she cares not about the return of her sister."

Hermione grinned mischievously. "Are you entirely certain that is a question you wish to ask?"

"Madame Black, I have absolutely no interest in the details of what you and Bellatrix do in bed. I do however wish to know what she has done that left you dripping in her magical signature."

Draco stared at the exchange in curiosity and vague fear over what he was about to learn. He really preferred to not think about the bedding habits of black women.

"Very well, Severus. But I must warn you, it is far easier to show you than tell you." She slowly peeled away her outer robe and unbuttoned the cuff of her sleeve. She rolled the fabric up gingerly so not to rub the tender skin to roughly.

Snape rolled his eyes at the sight of the crest. "She marked you."

"She did. And yes, the feeling of her magic lingering on my skin makes me very happy. Can you imagine what it will be like when I do not have to leave her side?"

"And you understand the full implications of it?"

Hermione bristled at his tone. "Trust me when I say that the implications do not matter. With or without it, I am irrevocably her's. I will always do anything she wishes."

Draco made a fake gagging sound breaking up the tension. "So my aunt is a kinky witch. Honestly, that's not all that much of a surprise. I mean, have you seen the dresses she wears.”

“In fact I have,” Hermione answered glowing happily.

“Very well, children. I am quite pleased for your happiness, Hermione. But we have some urgent things to attend to.”

Draco took Hermione by the arm and let them to sit down at the serious tone of his god father’s voice.

“It's time,” Snape said gravely.

“What changed,” Hermione asked quietly. The question was meant as a stall tactic. She needed to get herself emotionally together quickly. The idea of her beloved dressing for battle alone struck her dully in the gut. With any luck at all, this would be the last time that they would have to do so separately.

“You delivered us Andromeda. The Order was to be on the move today. Seducing you was meant to set in to effect a number of events. The initial failure did not stop the others from occuring. Dumbledore and Potter at this moment are attempting to retrieve a horcrux. They somehow managed to get the information out of our dear potions professor. There is an opportunity coming tonight that will not come again. Go prepare. When night falls, you will escort the others in. They will lead the raid, you only need follow instruction.”

Hermione was immediately on her feet and heading for the door.

“Before you go,” Severus interrupted. “Pack your bags. The elves will transport your things… later. Draco, stay behind just a minute.”

Hermione was so thoroughly excited about the coming battle and her permanent reunification with her wife that she practically ran out the door. She cast several complex spells to allow herself to slip past others in the castle unhindered. She moved as quickly as she could. It wasn’t that it would take her long to pack, but she just couldn’t bear to see anyone. She didn’t need to have the details of the plan for the night to know that casualties were extremely likely. There was some comfort in that Bellatrix would be at her side. The dark witch made her feel impenetrable.  

She looked around her little room for what she knew,would be the last time.  It had served her well during the school year, but she wouldn't miss it. The things that laid ahead of her were far better than that which laid behind. She picked out the robes she would wear for the raid. Strictly speaking it wasn't her deatheater uniform. Narcissa hadn't allowed her to bring one with her to school. Hermione briefly considered transfiguring a set, but the effort and possible the offense couldn't be justified. Instead she would wear the very fancy robes Narcissa bought her for Christmas. The message to those who saw her would be the same. Hermione Black was an influential witch to be feared.

Dressing and packing took half the time it took her to erase all magical traces of her time in the room. No one, not even the greatest witches or wizards would be able to discern anything about what spells she had performed in her room or the magical objects that were altered there. Nor would they find any trace of Narcissa's visits. She couldn't be blamed if they walked away with the distinct feeling that they'd used the room for an illicit affair with McGonagall. She wasn't sure what the old cat would think, but she was highly amused at idea.

As she swung open the door, Draco was clearly waiting for her. He looked positively dapper in his dress robes. She so enjoyed when they were inherently on the same page.

"Are you ready for this," she asked with more sensitivity than she has demonstrated in months.

"Yes. It's time."

She looked him up and down. After a moment, it was clear that he had truly meant it. Apparently he was to be one less thing she had to worry about.

They moved silently through the dark corridors. To their surprise, they encountered no one in  their path. They had prepared for every possible hurdle, but it was as though the innocents knew to stay inside on such a night. They stood tensely as the blocks of the wall rearrange to open the room of requirement. They were through the doors as soon as the magic was complete enough to allow them to enter. Together they took the room at a run partially fueled by anxiety and partially by excitement.

Draco skidded to a stop in front of cabinet to which he had dedicated hours of his life. With a cheeky smile over his shoulder he raised his wand and connected his cabinet to its twin. Within seconds a burst of black skirts exploded out of the strange metal box and collided immediately with Hermione.

"Bella," Hermione squealed before she was effectively silenced by her wife.

Moments later, Snape's voice broke them apart. "Madames Black, this is neither the time nor the place."

"Severus, I assure you the night will not be ruined by me greeting my wife," Bellatrix replied coolly.

He sniffed in disdain, but said nothing further. Lucius was the last to step out and evidently was the designated leader for the evening. His appearance silenced the excited chatter.

"No masks tonight. This is our coming out party. There will be no more denying our Lord is back and that we will not be chased into hiding ever again," he said in a clear firm voice.

He strode quickly through the cheering group. It was obvious to Hermione that the entire group was well versed on their mission for the evening. She happily followed the dark witch, who had grasped her hand. She didn't realize where they were going until they traversed the rickety old stairs to the bell tower. The crack of apparition had her snapping her wand out. She was grasped firmly around her waist and pulled tightly against familiar curves.

"No, love. Stay your wand. This isn't your task," Bella whispered against her ear.

Just as arousal coursed through her, her wife's tone changed towards desperation. The harsh whisper was directed at Draco. Hermione knew that Bella feared more for his safety than any other member of the family. Narcissa's happiness hinged on her son's survival and success.

The young wizard did not seem to hear his aunt as his wand was trained on Dumbledore, who frankly looked worse for the wear. With a deep breath, he disarmed the old wizard. The long knotty wand flew into Draco’s hand and he tucked it within his robes. As soon as it was safely put away, Draco took a small step forward. The old man was attempting to tell him all the reasons Draco shouldn't.  But with his jaw firmly set, the young blonde wizard murmured the curse and a green jet of light shot from the end of his wand.

Chapter Text

 

Hermione watched agast as the very clearly dead body of Albus Dumbledore fell from the bell tower. It was as if her world went into slow motion. She did not care for him, but she had yet to acclimate to watching death at such close range. The thought made her stomach roll. The arms around her middle tightened in protective response, though Hermione could feel that Bella didn’t understand her reaction. Without a doubt she knew that this summer would be when she lost the rest of her innocence. She wasn’t entirely sure how she felt about it, but the compelling witch wrapped around her was a siren. And Hermione wasn’t fool enough to think that she could resist her.

The creaking of a floorboard from beneath them had all heads snapping down. An eerie quiet had fallen over them after Draco executed the killing curse. Hermione saw a flash of Harry Potter darting around a corner. Before she could say or do anything Bellatrix was pulling her arm moving her forward.

“Come, darling,” Bella’s voice rang playfully in her head. “It high time that you used some of that complex magic you’ve been holding back. And I am in need of a little havoc.”

“Wand or no wand,” Hermione intoned back just as playfully.

“As tempting as that is, love. I am not sure everyone present needs to know exactly how powerful you are. And didn’t Cissy tell you no complex wandless magic in the castle. I would so hate for you to disobey her again.”

Bella’s cackling laugh sounded loudly in her head, causing Hermione to roll her eyes.

“Will you ever stop lording that over me?”

“Not a chance,” the dark witch answered looking over her shoulder.

Hermione couldn’t resist smiling at her wife’s gentle teasing. She knew Bella was trying to make her relax, but that didn’t make it ineffective. On their way down yet another staircase at a run, she wondered if the death eaters were training for marathons while she was away at school. They all seemed fine while she was struggling to keep moving and breathing.

“Bella,” she whined telepathically which she realized even sounded winded. “Please tell me that there is a spell or something…”

“Whats the matter little witch? Can you not keep up?” The dark witch was entirely unaffected by the trek through the castle.

“Oh I can keep up.” She made a conscious effort to push harder, but whenever they stopped she was well aware that she would be hurting.

“Time to have a little fun,” Lucius said breaking the tense silence.

The group skidded to a stop at the tremendous doors to the Great Hall. With a wave of her wand, Bellatrix sent the doors flying open banging loudly. Before Hermione could even think of moving, she heard her comrades firing off destructive spells. Magic crackled all around her and it was clear that she either needed to join in or risk being injured. Her wife had already jumped up on the closest table, which happened to belong to the Gryffindors. Hermione suspected that this was less than an accident. Bella never truly let go of her competitive self of quidditch matches past.

Following in her love’s foot steps, Hermione took up on the table to her right. After each spell Bella fired, Hermione duplicated it with slightly more power watching in amusement as her wife’s annoyance grew. Bella was so accustomed to being the most powerful and most feared that Hermione couldn’t help but poke at her a bit. Not that she had any desire to truly over power her, but provoking Bella’s aggression was always fun. When she reached the end of her long table, Hermione watched her wife hop down clearly expecting her to follow. Instead, the young witch turned and brandished her wand over her head. With a few easy flicks of her wrist the ever present candles that hovered above learning witches and wizards for generations extinguished quietly. Stepping down from her perch, Hermione stepped into her wife’s personal space.

“Cast it, my love,” the young witch whispered into black curls. She was pleased when dark eyes never left her’s as the dark curse floated out between red lips. The jet of light and smoke that formed and slithered into the form of their master’s mark would hover in the room for days. There would be no mistaking who over took the castle.

“You are more magnificent with every passing day,” Bella breathed against the skin of her lover’s neck. “The night is not yet over.” Once again the dark witch tugged her lover forward, but any lingering hesitance was gone from the young witch. Hermione might have been tired, but it didn’t show in her movements as the barreled down the slope behind the castle away from Hogwarts.

Just as they reached the caregiver’s cabin, the Potter boy came shouting after Severus. Bella raised her wand still more than in the mood for a good fight, but she was stayed by Hermione’s hand on her waist. The boy belonged to their Lord and Bella ought not interfere. The dark witch followed her easily. Bella would follow no other, but the mood that Hermione was in was beyond intriguing. She watched her young lover as she glanced over her shoulder at Snape. The affection between them was adorable, though she knew that the last semester had created significant friction between the two. She hoped that Hermione’s exit from Hogwarts would allow them to rebuild.

They reached the portkey and within moments were standing on the lawn behind Malfoy Manor. Hermione breathed the fresh air in deeply. She felt undeniably free. The imposing grey structure had been intimidating the first time she saw it, but now she knew what it housed. Her family was waiting within those halls to welcome her home and to not force her to leave again. She walked in the middle of the group of celebrating death eaters. Out in front of her strode the two proud Malfoy men. She was pleased to note that Draco looked as relieved to be home as she felt. He was no longer the pale ashen color he had been just after the headmaster fell to his death. Surrounded by the weathered strong warriors, Draco looked in his element. For the first time, he looked as though he belonged.

Hermione wondered, and not for the first time, if she truly belonged. After all she hadn’t grown up among them or their traditions. Perhaps at the end of the coming battle they would all cast her aside, once she had served their purposes. As her thoughts turned darker, the doors to the back entrance flew open, light streaming out. The silhouette of her favorite blonde witch felt burnt in her soul. She couldn’t help but dare to hope that Narcissa would welcome her home and when it all came to an end and that, like Bellatrix, she would not abandon her. As she climbed the steps to the entrance, she gaped at the blonde literally opening her arms and waiting for her. Hermione launched herself without a second thought towards Narcissa, who caught her easily.

“Welcome home, little witch,” Narcissa purred stroking her hair.

Hermione felt the presence of her wife passing as Bellatrix entered the house with the others leaving her standing in the blonde’s arms. The small nod of affirmation granted whatever permission the young witch might need. With the other’s out of sight, Hermione’s eyes filled with tears and she burrowed her face into Narcissa’s neck.

“Oh darling, come to bed with me,” the blonde said already leading her away from the crowd and up the stairs. “Bella will come and find us when she is ready.”

Hermione clung to Narcissa with a neediness she had previously been reticent to show the blonde. Secretly she had always believed that the blonde knew without words, but there would be little doubt that Narcissa understood now. The thought of being so thoroughly exposed emotionally shook her to her core, but the firm hand encasing her own grounded her enough to keep moving. When the solid oak door divided them from the rest of the house, Hermione separated herself from the blonde enough to truly look at her companion.

Narcissa looked beautiful tonight. Her hair sparkled in the candlelight. Half pulled up and held by a silver clip, it put her slender pale neck on display. The shimmering blue dress she wore hugged and accentuated every curve of her body. She was absolutely delicious. Hermione knew she was staring, but what was she to do. She had been surrounded by adolescent idiots, none of whom were even remotely attractive. Hermione hadn’t taken the time to really look at anyone in weeks, and Narcissa was a dream.

"Well hello to you too, Hermione,” the blonde said perching herself on the corner of her dresser. She was more than happy to let the young witch look her fill. Narcissa knew she was dressed well. She had hoped that she might lure Hermione and Bellatrix into her bed. And as it was, clearly Hermione was in need of affection and affirmation. Narcissa was more than happy to supply both, knowing Bellatrix was unlikely to be far behind and would cement any reassurances Narcissa laid out.

“Narcissa,” the young witch whispered reverently. It was so good to see her here in this house with an entire night stretched out in front of them. She had little doubt Bella would be along before long. She could feel her wife’s rising libido downstairs. Bella was very much enjoying the anticipation.

Narcissa pushed away from the furniture stalking slowly towards the slightly dirty but incredibly sexy witch in front of her. She threw just a little extra swing in her hips, though she knew it was not necessary for the seduction. In the mood Hermione was in, she would happily follow Narcissa’s lead. Satisfied that Hermione was appropriately transfixed, she indulgently ran her fingers over the collar of the witch’s robes.

“Is it too cliche to say how very good it is to see you,” Hermione said quietly.

Narcissa hummed thoughtfully, opting to kiss her instead of answering directly. It was beyond good to have the witch back under her roof safe and sound. Hermione leaned into her and slipped her arms around her. It would have been absolutely perfect, if her young lover did not smell of battle. Such things might turn on Bellatrix, but Narcissa preferred soft and clean.

“Come, little witch,” Narcissa said leading her towards the obscenely beautiful bathroom. “I have just the thing to help you unwind from today.”

Usually she would have immediately banished their clothing, but Hermione sought intimacy.  Nimble fingers stripped the young witch slowly teasing skin as it was bared. The young witch moaned beautifully and when she was finally nude looked hopefully at Narcissa. The blonde smirked in the way that only she could. It was at once amused and inviting. Hermione’s hands shook only slightly as she disengaged the complicated clasps of the dress. There was a time when the young witch would have been genuinely confused by them, but she had acclimated so beautifully to their culture. Feeling the hands steady as they touched her bared skin was more than arousing. This was the Hermione she hoped to spend time with tonight.

“As delightful as this is, little one. I have designs on bathing with you.” Narcissa grinned at the shade of red creeping down Hermione’s neck. Leading her willing companion into steaming bubbly water, the blonde witch settled her back against the porcelain side opening her arms invitingly. Clearly enraptured by the warm water and kindness, the young witch sunk into her with a breathy sigh of pleasure. Narcissa summoned a sponge and her favorite scent of soap. She would delight in smelling it on Hermione’s skin for the rest of the evening. There was something undeniably sweet about how easily the young witch gave herself over to Narcissa’s care. It gave the blonde peace of mind that no matter how powerful and accomplished the witch became that Hermione was still capable of surrendering to care and love. So long as this was possible, the blonde had hope that they might come through this war in one piece.

With painstaking thoroughness, Narcissa ran the soapy sponge over sore muscles carrying away the stress the school year brought to Hermione. Narcissa delicately guided water over a tipped back head that exposed the pale column of a slender throat. The older witch couldn’t help but to run her red tipped nails with just a touch of roughness over the firm muscles. Hermione moaned so deeply, that she practically vibrated against Narcissa. Though the blonde was tempted to take the young witch, the continued anticipation would only serve to heighten the experience when she finally did give into the temptation. With liberal use of soap and her nails, the older witch washed Hermione’s hair from scalp to ends. By the time she was rinsing, the young witch had melted entirely against her all tension gone from her body.

They hadn’t spoken throughout the bath, and yet Hermione could not remember ever feeling more connected to someone aside from Bella. While she hadn’t been surprised that Narcissa was waiting for her when they got back to the Manor, Hermione had been unsure of how she would be greeted. Over the last few months, she was well aware that she was not always understanding or kind in her frustration at being separated from her wife. Even in her relief in finally getting to leave Hogwarts, she had harbored worry that others would hold it against her. She was so utterly relaxed and aroused beyond belief that she felt like she would come out of her skin. While she detested admitting weakness or need to anyone but Bella, she couldn’t reign in her need.

“Cissa, please,” she whispered against damp skin as she turned her face into the blonde’s neck.

“Oh little witch, don’t worry. I will take care of your needs. And you are desperately needing me now, aren’t you,” Narcissa asked as she trailed a hand between Hermione’s legs.

“Merlin,  yes,” the young witch panted through gritted teeth.

“Come then, I won’t have you risking drowning on my account.”

Though she couldn’t see Narcissa’s face as she was being ushered out of the bath, she knew well the seductive smirk that would be painted across it. Were she not in such great need, Hermione might have pushed back in some way. Instead she lifted herself up on uncooperative limbs and out of the tub. As her feet touched the bath mat, her entire body was wrapped in a warm drying spell. By the time they reached Narcissa’s bed, wet hair was up and out of the way. It was clear that the blonde, too, was more than ready to have her. With a willingness she felt soul-deep, Hermione climbed on to the already turned down bed and turned to watch Narcissa approach. The blonde practically glided over the floor. She no longer strove to contain her cat-who-got-the-canary face. Had that look been on any other visage aside from this and one other, Hermione would have been reaching for her wand. Instead she settled fully on her back and waiting patiently.

“Well, isn’t this a nice change,” Narcissa cooed running a finger down Hermione’s body from sternum to hip bone. “I rather expected you would come back despondent and difficult.” A flash of challenge flited through amber eyes which the blond quickly quelled by taking an already hard nipple between her lips and sucking. “Not that I mind this, little witch. You can always come to me for comfort,” she added once she released the nipple in favor of kissing the witch.

“I’m in need of a little more than comfort,” Hermione gritted out lifting her hips against the body over her attempting to find any friction.

“That too, I can provide.” The blonde seemed intent on proving out her words as her fingers trailed through Hermione’s arousal. Gratified by the closed eyes and open mouth of Hermione, she slipped her fingers in deeply.

“Please, Narcissa,” Hermione chanted reverently. The blonde had made her feel good from the moment she darkened the door this night. It was obvious that Narcissa knew her needs almost before she felt them. She wasn’t making it hard in the slightest. There were no games, no struggle for control. The blonde was intently delivering body wracking pleasure as quickly as Hermione could take it. Far too soon, the young witch was hovering at the edge. Narcissa brought her to a thundering climax with a deep probing kiss and flip of her thumb.

When Hermione finally came back to herself enough to move again, she opened her eyes to find a very pleased looking blonde watching her affectionately. Pushing gently, the young witch rolled over on top of the beautiful woman opting to pay meticulous attention to her neck and clavicles.

“Thank you, Cissa. I don’t have words,” she finally whispered against damp skin as she made her way lower.

“You don’t need to have them,” Narcissa said breathily running a hand through her lover’s hair sweetly. “I want you between my legs,” she added unable to wait any longer. She was pleased when  her instruction was immediately followed with considerable enthusiasm. The witch was undeniably good with her mouth. And Hermione was clearly very intent on her task.

Bellatrix had the good fortune to have been able to enter the bedroom undetected. She reset the wards she had broken through before advancing towards the bed. The two witches were so wrapped up in their coupling that they hadn’t heard her approach. It gave her the unfettered opportunity to watch the incredible sexy scene before her. Hermione’s skin was rosy from the after effects of a climax and Narcissa was nearly there. Never one to be left out of the action, she banished her own clothing with a flick of her wrist and slipped on to the bed. She immediately latched on to the blonde’s closest nipple with her mouth while rolling the other between her fingers. Narcissa arched up into the touch in pleasure. Almost as quickly, Hermione’s fingers found their way easily inside of her. It was undeniably good to be home.



Chapter Text

Morning dawned softly over a new era. With Dumbledore dead, the Order would have to be severely wounded. Hermione woke snuggled warmly between her favorite blonde and brunette. It was the first time that Narcissa had not disappeared in the middle of the night, as they had finally collapsed in the blonde’s bed a few hours earlier. Hermione took in the luxury of watching the older witches sleep. They were deceptively angelic in such a relaxed state. She considered climbing from the bed and starting the day alone as had been her custom at school. Instead she kissed a bare shoulder underneath a curtain of blonde hair. Narcissa stirred and a sleepy smile stretched across her face.

“You are up with the birds, little witch,” Narcissa said in a sleep rough voice.

The young witch sighed and snuggled closer to the blonde’s warm body. “I’ve always loved dawn.”

Narcissa started slowly leaning up over Hermione’s nude prone form. “But why exactly do you look so nervous?”

Hermione weighed her words before speaking. “I don’t have any idea what happens now. Even today.”

“I suppose that makes you rather reliant on us to tell you what to do and where to go,” Narcissa answered slowly.

“It looks that way.” Hermione’s breath caught in her throat as Narcissa kissed from her ear down her neck.

“Don’t worry, love,” the darker voice of her wife sounded gently behind her. “Nothing is set until noon. The raid was quite successful last night.”

“I wasn’t worried,” the young witch managed to gasp out.

“You were, I suspect,” Narcissa joined back in. “But, your wife is correct. We are not needed until lunch. So relax and let us have our way.”

Seeing no other way around it, Hermione sunk into the comfort of the bed and allowed them to do as they wished.


 

Mid-Morning descending the staircase on the arm of her wife, Hermione found the day just as beautiful as it might have been at dawn. The house below them was already buzzing. The sheer presence of the death eaters was more than she had ever seen at once.

“They always come out of the woodwork after a good bit of publicity, love,” Bellatrix said leaning close. “And the fall of Dumbledore was the biggest thing that has happened in decades. Public opinion is turning our way. These may be fair weather friends, but numbers are numbers.”

Hermione took a deep breath as the reality of the coming fight settled in her stomach. The blonde behind her touched her shoulder briefly as if reading her mind. She turned her head just enough to see the smirk that suggested that perhaps Cissy was.

“Get your walls up, little witch,” Narcissa hissed in her ear.  

With a deep breath, Hermione focused her energy and pulled her protections as tightly around her as she did on a normal day at Hogwarts. She felt it take only a fraction of the energy. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught the smirk on her wife’s face.

“You'll never be alone again, my darling,” Bellatrix said. Her tone bellied every bit of her remorse over their separation.

The young witch nodded and intertwined their fingers.

“I'm so glad to be home,” she said finally.

“As we are glad to have you,” Narcissa sounded behind them.

They entered the dining room to find the inner circle chatting before they took their seats. As soon as they crossed the threshold, Hermione was surrounded by her 3 favorite slytherin men. Lucius was the first to sweep her into a warm embrace.

“Welcome home, Hermione. And very well done last night. Flawlessly executed as usual,” he said proudly.

Draco was right behind him. “We were rather brilliant. I couldn't have done it without you.” His voice broke at the end with the sort of emotion they never really spoke of.

“You are my best mate, Draco. I would do anything for you,” she answered earnestly.

Severus offered her a wordless hug. It was his way of acknowledging her success and the burden on her conscience. Aside from Cissy, he was the only one who seemed to see the weight on her soul. She suspected Bellatrix was aware, but such things were unwieldy emotionally. And they had been so desperate for each other's love that many things were left unsaid. She supposed that she had a lifetime to discuss such things with her wife.

“Madame Black, it is very good to see you again,” Voldemort hissed walking up behind them.

“And you, my Lord,” she said turning to greet him. He embraced her awkwardly, which she instantly forgave. After all he barely had any soul left as a result of his use of horcruxes. Something with a bit of luck and a lot of magic that she might be able to change. Hermione was shocked at the figure standing just behind his right shoulder.

She had known that Andromeda would be in the manor somewhere. Narcissa had been good enough to warn her of that. It was still shocking to actually see her present. She was in many ways like her sisters. She had the same royal bearing and wild curls so often associated with Bellatrix.  But her eyes had a warmth neither of her siblings openly showed outside of a bedroom. As their Lord drifted to make small talk with the others, Andromeda took as step towards her. At the moment that she thought to perhaps take a step back, Bella’s hand made contact with her lower back.

“Hello, Hermione. I'm afraid we didn't get a proper introduction before. I’m Andromeda, your wife’s younger and significantly less sapphically inclined sister.”

“I'm glad to meet you,” Hermione answered quietly.

Andromeda smiled in response and moved behind Voldemort. Seeing Hermione’s confusion, Bella moved close sliding her arm around her wife so that she could whisper in her ear.

“It seems my darling sister has captured our Lord’s attention twice in one lifetime. Many years ago, before she left us they were quite close. She has more than proven herself to him and to our cause. I have not yet forgiven her advances.” Bella tightened her arms almost painfully around her wife. “And you are mine. She had no right.”

“I am your’s in every way,” Hermione answered eyes fluttering in relief. The wolfish grin, she got in response was clear enough. She settled at the table between her wife and Narcissa feeling more at home than she had imagined she might.

The meal was pleasant, as it always was beneath Narcissa’s roof. She floated between conversations with the Black sisters, her best friend and favorite professor. Throughout the meal she couldn't help but feel like she was being thoroughly studied by the third and much less familiar Black sister. It wasn't the heated stare that made her want to peel her clothes off like Bellatrix (and occasionally Narcissa) gave her. She kept her walls pulled tight, the others were certainly convinced she could be trusted. After all in their last encounter, the woman had invaded her private space and tried to deceive her. It felt uncomfortably like any given meal at Hogwarts in the last year, though the others seemed to be oblivious to her discomfort. As the meal drew to a close, the Dark Lord drew their attention.

“I am most pleased to have the Black and Malfoy families back under a single roof. With your return, Hermione and Draco, we should be able to move forward quickly in our endeavors.” He turned to face Hermione alone. “I believe that you still require more research before we consider any soul rebinding.”

“Yes, my Lord. The Hogwarts library’s dark arts section was not sufficient. I may yet need to return to my castle, but I can certainly begin my work here,” she answered once again refocused on the task in front of her.

“Good. I know that in the past you have relied on Narcissa to assist you with research, but I have need of her elsewhere,” he continued.

Hermione worked very hard not to let her disappointment show, she did genuinely enjoy working alongside the blonde. Not to mention her significant attachment to the woman.

“But I know you are in need of an extra set of hands and knowledge. Andromeda has already volunteered to help you.”

“Thank you, my Lord,” she said before she could even emotionally react to the information. She waited until the conversation had turned away from her before she made eye contact with her wife. Bella subtly shrugged her shoulders as though either she didn’t think it was a big deal or that there was nothing she could do about it. The group broke apart to go about their separate tasks. Hermione tried to think up reasons to not hurry to the library, but the blonde witch approached her as though she knew.

“I will miss you, little witch. I do so enjoy our time together,” Narcissa husked causing goosebumps to erupt along Hermione’s arms. “But it will be fine. None of us would leave you alone with her were we even slightly concerned about her sincerity.”

“Yes, of course, Narcissa. I know,” Hermione replied attempting to convince herself of the same.

“We will see you later,” the blonde said with a wink, clearly not buying Hermione’s response.

Hermione turned to make her way to the Malfoy library alone. Andromeda was already in the room when she opened the door.

“Hermione, please don’t over react. I am well aware that we started off on the wrong foot, but I can be of help. Other wise the Dark Lord would not have placed us here together,” Andromeda said earnestly.

“Yes, of course you are right. I apologize, Andromeda. This last year at Hogwarts has left me even less trusting,” Hermione answered honestly.

“I have no doubt that is true, Hermione. Let me apologize as well for the Order and how they have treated you. Know that I sheltered you from everything that I could until I could find my way back to the Dark Lord. You have in no way deserved how they have treated you.”

“Thank you,” Hermione answered quietly.

“Good. Now let’s get the research done for the biggest bait and switch the wizarding world has ever known,” Andromeda said sounding a great deal like her older sister.

“Well,” Hermione said attempting to organizing her thoughts again on the subject. “I have managed to mastering the fake horcruxes. Do you know if the Death Eaters have managed to actually destroy any of them?”

Andromeda chuckled darkly. “Not even one of them. I wish you could have seen the looks when they failed. There were a few among their ranks that still believed that they could best you. I do believe that they have now been disillusioned.”

“However, I really couldn’t make any progress with the rebinding portion. Getting to the restricted section became nearly impossible and from what I limitedly saw the information just wasn’t there.”

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Andromeda answered cooly. “While I did not have the dedication to the library that you do, I did use that section a few times. I cannot imagine that a text containing that information would have ever been made available to the average Hogwarts student.”

“Well obviously that was wise of them,” Hermione grinned mischievously.  “After all the brightest students seem to find the most dangerous information and use it for their own devices.”

“That they do, Hermione. Now follow me, I think I know where the books we need are.”

Chapter Text

For all of her skepticism about Andromeda, Hermione found that she was not an unpleasant research partner. She was certainly more interested in books than Bella. Though she was nothing like the blonde, Andromeda was fierce and motivated. She acted as though the library was her battle ground. And she had been entirely truthful about her lack of interest in the young witch. Though it was quite obvious that she respected Hermione’s intellect, she hadn’t made any attempt to be even platonically affectionate with her. Which after the year she had was frankly a relief.

The afternoon of working together was productive, far more than any other single day had been on this project thus far. Andromeda had known where all of the sources were in the Malfoy library were. The rare books were scattered across a large transfigured table opened to pages that held clues. Hermione sat near a particularly large stack, quill in hand furiously scribbling. She was recording half clues that she knew would knit back together to form a solution, but she wasn't quite sure how yet. She had set the other witch on writing a list of other rare texts mentioned that they did not have in the Malfoy or Black collections. Andromeda had already volunteered to make the trip to Hermione’s castle to look for some of the list. But the young witch side stepped the offer. She wasn't sure that she wanted to give the middle Black sister access to her sanctuary when she didn't quite trust her. Andromeda had seemingly let the topic go easily allowing Hermione to redirect to the collection of a list of sources they were missing.

Hermione hadn't noticed the setting sun or the lowering of the natural lighting over the past hour and was startled at the arrival of one of the house elves. She started to grab for her wand until she heard his tiny voice.

“Dinner will be served in a half hour, Madames Black,” he had squeaked before quickly disappearing again. Hermione nodded absentmindedly before turning back to her stack of books. Andromeda broke the silence,

“I'm going to go prepare for dinner. Are you…” her question trailed off when the young witch didn't look up.

“No,” Hermione said without stopping writing. “I'll go as I am. But feel free.” Truthfully, she wouldn't mind a few minutes of solitude to work.

Andromeda wanted to remind her not to be late, but thought better of it given the current state of their fragile relationship. At this point the witch knew Narcissa better than her wayward sister anyways and it was her risk to take.

Hermione was in the middle of taking notes on a particularly helpful section when her concentration was broken by the rhythmic, fast tapping of high heeled shoes on the wood floors. But she was too focused on her work to be overly concerned with the interruption. She was faintly aware of eyes on her, but pushed on scribbling as quickly as she was able. She continued on until a gentle hand rested on her shoulder. She paused her furious writing at the loving touch.

“Hermione, darling,” Narcissa murmured in her ear. “Are you attempting to be late to dinner?”

Hermione set down her quill, closed her eyes and leaned back into the warm presence behind her. She breathed in the comfort of being home. She reached out to her wife knowing her presence wasn't far, though not imminently close either. Bella’s love and warmth flowed through her. She stood slowly and moved into Narcissa’s arms, nuzzling into the warmth.

“I'm sorry,” she said into the blonde hair with more humility she had shown in many months. “I was caught up and on a roll. I just…” Hermione sighed deeply. “I just don't want to fail our family.”

“Oh Hermione,” Narcissa answered pulling her closer. “You won't. You couldn't possibly. But you must rest and eat to be at your best. Come with me. Let me care for you.”

Hermione nodded, summoning her wand to her hand simultaneously warding her notes from all others. She slipped her hand into the crook of Narcissa’s elbow and leaned into her strength, walking where she led.

The dinner gathering was blessedly small. She slipped into her seat beside her wife just as the first course was being served. The chatter around her didn't even pause, save a quick smile from her wife.


 

Much to Hermione’s relief, there were no demands on their time after dinner. They had all retired to the library after dinner for a few hours together and a night cap. As they had entered the room, Bellatrix assertively challenged Lucius to a violent game of chess, which drew the attention of Draco and Andromeda leaving Hermione with Narcissa. The young witch looked hesitantly at the older woman gathering her courage. She gently touched the woman’s robe at her sleeve.

“I feel like I am almost at a breakthrough that just won't let me go. Would you mind looking over it with me? Andromeda is fine,” she rambled on, “but she doesn't know me like you do.”

“I should hope not, little witch,” Narcissa answered playfully. “Aside from your wife, I expect to remain your favorite.”

Hermione pressed a soft sweet kiss on Narcissa's lips in response. No one could ever replace the blonde in her life. She tugged at her sleeve pulling her over to her work table and removed the wards.

“Did you even ward against Andromeda,” the blonde asked with some curiosity.

Hermione blushed but didn't answer, opting to sort out her notes instead.

“Hermione,” she said placing her hand under the young woman’s chin and moving it to meet her eyes. “Truly we would not have left you with her if we did not trust her. I would never risk you. Ever. Every risk you have been asked to take I have been vocally against. I would keep you home safe for the rest of your life if I was able.”

Hermione sighed while meeting her eyes. “I know you are right. I know you always seek to protect me. It's just hard to come down from the tension of the year. To really believe I can be safe anywhere.”

“I don't mind you being cautious. But you need not be with family. And in spite of her atrocious decisions, Andromeda is family.”

“I will try, Cissa. I promise.”

“That is all that I ask, little witch. Now show me where you are,” she said petting the pretty face soothingly.

Hermione turned and thumbed through the pages in front of her. “Well,” she began, “I have confirmed the need for a strong magical center of power like we discussed during term.”

“I am not surprised,” Narcissa said thoughtfully. “There is a place on your property. It even has an ancient circle of stones. It has sufficient magic without you and Bella. It should be quite an event with that amount of power in one place.”

“You overestimate us and are being overly generous.”

“I assure you that I am not,” Narcissa said in the first firm voice she had used with the witch in some time. “I would not put our family in danger with such folly.”

“You are right. I am sorry. Forgive me, please Narcissa,” Hermione said with a sheepish look on her face. She received a kiss on her forehead in return.

“Isn't this just so much easier when you know your place, love,” a sultry voice whispered in her ear as Bella wrapped her arms around her from behind. “You aren't fighting with Narcissa, are you?”

“I assure you she is not. She has conceded where she knows I am correct,” the blonde said smoothly.

“Don't let me distract you. Carry on,” the dark witch said without removing her arms.

Hermione did as she was told, in spite of the fact that the witch was obviously fairly distracting just by being near. “I have what I believe is the correct recipe for the potion, but it uses a shorthand that I just don't understand. I need a few more references for the spell, but I believe they are in my library. Andromeda promised she would send an elf to retrieve them in the morning. I hope to be able to at least have a practice session by the end of the week.”

“Let me see the potion,” Narcissa said with outstretched hand. Hermione dug out the correct book and handed it over. The blonde focused on the page for a few seconds before looking up and catching Severus’ eye. He came to her side without further request. “Severus, I believe that I understand the reference here. But I would like your thoughts.”

He poured over the page with concentration and a bit of reverence for the ancient folio in his hands. “It's complicated, but I have nearly everything we need,” he said after only a few minutes. “It will take 3 days to brew. We can work on it tomorrow if we can fit in a supply run in the morning,” he finished looking at Narcissa.

“Do you have time in your schedule,” Hermione asked quietly. “The Dark Lord made it sound like you were all too busy to work with me.” She realized she vaguely sounded like a petulant child. But she had been relegated to working with her least favorite Black sister all day long and was foreseeing it being a long term arrangement much to her displeasure.

“We can fit this in,” Severus said matter of factly. “It is a complex potion. And while you are gifted beyond your years, I can save us time and reduce risk with a few hours of work. It would be my honor to assist you. You did all the hard work with your research already.”

Hermione weighed her options. Her pause gave Bellatrix space to intercede.

“Excellent, Severus. That will give us the day finish and practice the spell.” She turned to her young witch continuing. “I have a day off tomorrow and I would like nothing more than to exercise my powers with you at our castle.”

“That sounds… like quite a complete plan,” Hermione said slowly. There was really nothing to disagree with. They were all correct about this being the most economic use of everyone's time.

“Yes, I believe it is. And now that we have made such progress, I do believe it is time for us to retire,” the dark witch said, already leading Hermione toward the door.

The young witch went with her willingly appreciating the solid confident presence of her wife. The humming magic and regular beating of the woman’s heart was a reminder of everything good in the world. Her sharp mind and frank brilliance would have attracted Hermione with or without the presence of ancient magic.

As the bedroom door closed behind them, Hermione stepped into the witch’s arms placing a lingering kiss on her red lips. Her wife responded without hesitation immediately deepening it and holding her close.

“I missed you,” Hermione whispered in between placing kisses on the face she loved beyond measure.

“And I you,” Bella's husked in return. “You are terribly attractive when you have been locked up in a library all day.”

“Have you been thinking about me? And my attractiveness then?”

“Oh yes, little witch. You are rarely out of my mind.”

Hermione hummed savoring the crackling desire between them. She took her wife’s hand and led her to a rather opulent chair in front of the fireplace in their room. She enjoyed how the dark witch sat on it like a throne. Hermione knelt in front of her, conjuring a pillow at the last minute. Without looking away from the captivating dark eyes, she worked flowing black skirts out of her way. She lovingly caressed pale legs with both of her hands working up gradually. Bellatrix allowed h