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the beginning


It starts with a look.

Hermione’s standing in the Foyer of the Ministry of Magic, waiting impatiently for the lift, and—when the doors open at last—she finds herself face to face with Draco Malfoy. Their eyes meet, and she’s speared through the vitals by something hot and sharp.

Afterwards, she spends hours—many, many hours—eyes closed, trying to recapture and analyse that feeling, trying to put a name to it.

Is it fear?


Is it hatred?


Could it be...

Merlin, she thinks, could it really be desire?


Following that first encounter, Malfoy seems to be everywhere—in the Foyer, in the Dining Hall, striding down the corridors—his pale grey eyes fixed on her, his face wearing that harsh, sneering mask he’d so often affected at school.

After weeks of torture, Hermione cracks, and goes to Harry. “What’s Draco Malfoy doing here?”

“Depends who you ask,” he says, leaning closer and speaking more quietly. “I had heard rumours that he was doing something,”—he taps the side of his nose—“hush-hush for Kingsley.”

“You mean undercover work?”

Harry nods. “But when I dropped a few hints to Robards, he said that Malfoy was just here to have counselling as part of his rehabilitation. Ron, of course, thinks that Malfoy’s back to his old Death Eater tricks, and they’re using Legilimency to suck his brain dry before they spring the trap and lock him up in Azkaban for good.”

“Ronald would think that,” says Hermione, smiling fondly. “Still... Whatever Draco’s doing, he’s being very conspicuous about it.”

“Is he? I hadn’t really noticed.”


Matters come to a head late one Friday afternoon.

Hermione’s sitting at her desk, making a few last minute improvements to her report on werewolf welfare, when she suddenly realises that someone’s knocking at the door.

“Come in.”

The office door opens, and the object of far too many of her thoughts and speculations steps inside.

“Malfoy... What can I do for you?”

He closes the door, and turns to face her—tall, and rather intimidating. “How are you?”

How am I? Hermione shrugs. “I... Yes, I’m fine.”

“Good. And your parents?”

Parents? “They’re still happy in Australia.”

He nods, though Hermione isn’t sure he’s even heard her reply. “And your work,” he says, “is it going well?”

“Malfoy... I am quite busy. Was there something you wanted?”

He begins to pace. “You’re not romantic, any more than I am...” He clears his throat, and starts again. “The fact is, Granger, I’ve tried to ignore you, tried telling myself that you’re beneath me, tried making myself remember that even to consider tainting a centuries old bloodline is grounds for committal, but none of it has worked. I find myself...” He sighs. “Wherever I look, Granger, you’re there, with your hair, and your eyes, and that smile of yours; and, when you’re not there, you’re filling my head, like sunshine—”

“Draco,” she begins, panic squeezing her heart—

“I’ll suffer for this, Granger. My friends will shun me—Astoria Greengrass will probably sue me for breach of promise—and my father will cut me off without a sickle, but I can’t help myself—just say that you’ll marry me.”


Later, she pleads illness and goes home early.

Her refusal had devastated him, but he hadn’t lashed out at her, as she’d half-feared he would. Instead, he’d muttered a few bitter words, mostly aimed at himself and his own foolishness, and then, with a curt “Goodbye,” he’d left.



Draco dons his mask, and lifts the hood of his cloak, taking care to hide his long, pale hair. Every member of the Circle knows exactly who the other members are, but at the meetings—especially during the ritual itself—it’s best to remain anonymous.

He opens the small box, takes out the Ring of Fidelity, and slides it onto his finger, feeling a deep pang of misery as a certain face appears, unbidden, before his eyes and, with the vision, comes a welter of raw emotions that almost overwhelms him.

He swallows hard, and concentrates, carefully repairing his mental defences.

Now is not the time to let anyone get inside his head.



It’s been weeks—six weeks, two days, fourteen hours and thirty minutes, to be precise—since the events of ‘Dark Friday’ and, although Hermione hasn’t seen Malfoy once in all that time, she’s still scurrying through the Foyer of the Ministry like a startled rabbit, still anxiously scanning the crowds for a tall, blond wizard, still praying that the lift will come quickly, and carry her away to safety.

Today—Thank Merlin—when the doors open, the lift is empty.

Hermione steps inside with about a dozen other witches and wizards, none of whom she recognises, and is just about to breathe a sigh of relief, when—“Hold the doors!”—he strides in, forcing everyone else to draw back and make room for him.

Hermione isn’t sure whether he’s seen her, squeezed between an elderly witch and some obscure wizard in a dark cloak but, from the way he’s keeping his elegant back to her, she suspects that he has.

She stares at his head, noticing the way his hair curls slightly, where it brushes his shoulders...

Of course, she’d been right to refuse him; she knows that.

How could she possibly live with an insufferable prat who’d prefaced his proposal with ‘You’re beneath me, Granger’? Physical attraction—if that was what she’d been feeling beforehand—was no basis for a long-lasting relationship.

No basis for marriage.

She’d done the right thing; she knows that.

So why, she wonders, does everything feel so broken?

She sighs, more loudly than she’d intended, and the elderly witch on her right gives her a sympathetic smile.

Hermione smiles back.

But the wizard on her left is mumbling something under his breath, and Hermione wonders whether she’s offended him. Maybe he’s one of those people, she thinks, who believes that showing any sort of emotion in public’s the ultimate in bad manners...

She takes a deep, centring breath, holds it, and releases it slowly (and silently) and, surprisingly, it seems to work—a sense of optimism comes over her, and everything seems to shift into perspective, making all her worries pale into insignificance.

The only thing that still seems important—essential, in fact—is to find out exactly what Draco’s doing.

What if he really is consorting with other Death Eaters? she thinks, her eyes glued to a gorgeous little curl at the nape of his neck. Maybe if I were to apologise to him, admit that I was too hasty turning him down, and butter him up a bit... Maybe I could get him to talk—get him to give something away...

When the lift stops at her own floor, and several people get out, Hermione stays where she is; three floors later, when Malfoy steps into the corridor, she follows him.

He stops immediately and, still with his back to her, asks, “What do you want, Granger?”

“To apologise.”

He turns, scowling. “What?

It’s hard to tell how well her plan will work—Draco’s eyes have hardened, and his mouth’s twisted into a sneer—and Hermione feels a sudden pang, which might be conscience. “Would you like a cup of tea?” she asks. “I have some Earl Grey in my off—”

“Have you gone mad, Granger?”


“Then perhaps you’ve lost your memory?”

“I... I don’t think so...”

You’re cold and arrogant,” he recites, hoarsely. “Remember that, Granger? Hmm? The only thing you have to offer a wife is money. Remember that? Oh, and let me see, yes: Nothing—nothing—you could say or do would ever induce me to marry you.”

Hermione swallows hard.

He’s more upset than she’d expected, but something tells her she can still talk him round.

“I was harsh,” she says, “but you had insulted me, Draco, with all that talk of my inferior blood, and... And you were always insulting me, at Hogwarts, mocking my hair, and my teeth, and calling me names—vile names. You even wished me dead—”

“I didn’t mean that, you silly woman! I saved you!” He moves suddenly, backing her into the wall. “I stuck my neck out for you, Granger! I saved you at the Quidditch World Cup, and I risked my fucking life, pretending that I didn’t know you and those bloody chuckle brothers—”


He cuts her off with a sweep of his hand. “You hate me. You’ve made that perfectly clear. So, just take your bloody tea, and,”—his expression changes, and Hermione glimpses a moment of pain before the sneer returns—“go and fuck yourself.”

He turns his back on her, and marches away.


Hermione slides down the wall, and settles in a heap on the floor.

She’s not sure what’s just happened.

For some reason, she’d thought it would be easy to talk him round, but she can see now that the idea had been stupid—though a little voice in her head keeps telling her that Draco’s angry because he still wants her and that, if she persists, she can still have him.

Have him.

That’s another strange thing.

When she thinks about Draco—really makes an effort, and thinks about him—she knows that he’s spoiled, self-centred, bigoted, often casually cruel—perhaps even genuinely evil—and she knows that she doesn’t like him.

And yet...

Admit it, says the little voice. You fancy him. You’ve always fancied him. He’s beautiful and he’s bad, and that intrigues you.

She presses her cheek against the cool marble of the wall and, suddenly, her mind’s filled with Draco—Draco, crushing her in his arms; Draco, kissing her with that sneering mouth; Draco, thrusting hard

Oh, Merlin, NO! She squeezes herself up tight. Where did that come from?


Hermione opens her eyes.

Malfoy’s standing over her, frowning. “What the fuck are you doing on the floor?”

He reaches down and, grasping her chin, he tilts her head, and peers into her eyes. “How long have you been like this?” he demands.

“Like... Like what?”

What does he mean? Does he know what she’s just imagined him doing to her? Is he using Legilimency on her? She tries to jerk herself free, to turn away and hide from him, but his grip’s too strong.

“That look in your eyes...” he says.

He releases her, but he’s still bending over her and, suddenly, she sees her chance and, urged on by the little voice, she seizes it, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him fiercely. “Take me, Draco,” she whispers against his lips. “Please, take me.”

“Fucking hell!” He pulls away.

“No!” She drags him back. “Please, Draco!”

She feels his resistance weaken—she knows he’s got an erection—and she thinks she has him, but then he grabs her wrists and, wrenching her arms apart, he shoves her away. “Get your bloody hands off me,” he says.



“You can’t ask me—”

“Those are your orders, Mr Malfoy.”



Hermione’s not sure how long she’s been sitting in the corridor, waiting for Draco.

Several people have tried to help her—wanted to get her to her feet, escort her back to her office, send for Harry—but she’s politely refused all assistance.

She lifts her hand to her lips. Her fingertips can still feel Draco’s erection, hard and vital. She smiles. She’s more determined than ever to seduce him.

And to find out what he’s doing.


She jerks her head up.

“We need to get you sorted,” he says, crouching down beside her. “Let’s go to my place.”


He Apparates them to his home, so she arrives like a bride, cradled in his arms, and she scarcely has time to register the fact that his ‘place’ isn’t Malfoy Manor before he’s carrying her up the twisting staircase, muttering, “The real irony of all this, Granger, is that I’ve never stopped bloody wanting you.”

Hermione snuggles against his shoulder. “And I want you too, Draco.”

“You said I disgusted you.” He carries her down the oak-panelled passageway, and through a door.

“I... I must have been lying.”

The room’s lovely, with its dark wood and its dusky pink damask—In my Lady’s chamber, she thinks, as Draco manoeuvres her round the antique furniture, upstairs and downstairs...

He lays her on the bed, and she feels the mattress give as he climbs on beside her, and straddles her hips. And she doesn’t need the little voice’s prompting to reach for his fly and fumble the buttons open, slip her hand inside, and stroke him.

He’s already rock-hard, and certainly doesn’t need any help, but he seems to like what she’s doing, because he growls and, sliding his hands under her, he lifts her up in his arms.

“Tell me you’re absolutely sure you want this,” he says.

“Yes,” she sighs, laying her head on his shoulder, because his sheer vitality’s making her feel like a rag doll. “Take me, Draco. Please.”

“Just remember, afterwards, that you asked for it.”

One of his hands moves, and she hears him cast an unfamiliar spell that makes her pussy heat up and throb with anticipation, and she moans against his throat, closing her eyes and reaching down, trying to ease herself—

“Ready?” he murmurs.

“Oh, yes.”

“Guide me.”

She grasps him and, when she has him where she needs him, she whispers, “There,” and he enters her with a single, powerful thrust.

Draco!” she cries.

He isn’t gentle.

He’s strong, and fiercely demanding, pounding into her until she thinks her limbs will combust and her hair ignite.

And when she comes, she’s howling like a she-wolf.

It’s perfect.



Draco takes up a handful of Floo powder and, casting it into the flames, calls his superior.

“It’s done.”

“Then you know what to do next.”

“It’s too risky. Anything could happen—”

“Do I need to remind you, Mr Malfoy, how precarious your position is?”

Draco sighs. “No.”

“No, what?”

“No, you don’t,” —he draws out the pause as long as he dares—“sir.”



Hermione wakes with a start.

She’s alone, lying in an antique four-poster bed, and it takes her a moment to work out exactly where she is, and why.


You’ve seduced him, says the little voice in her head. But you still have to get him talking...

Yes, she thinks. I do. But where is he?

She throws back the bedclothes, and climbs out of bed.

She’s naked—and has some rather interesting bruises around her waist and on her hips—but she finds an exquisite silken dressing robe lying on the bedside chair, and puts it on, and pads over to the window.

There’s a bowl of huge pink cabbage roses sitting on the sill, scenting the air with sweetness, and something about their fragrance seems to fill her with regret...

She peers through the ancient, diamond-leaded glass.

Draco’s house is a rambling, half-timbered mansion with a crooked, slate-tiled roof, draped in ivy and in mauve wisteria. Oh, she thinks, it’s delightful! From the architecture surrounding it, she guesses it’s hidden somewhere in Muggle Bloomsbury, concealed from the occupants of the Georgian terraces by strong Disillusionment charms.

She decides it’s time to search for Draco, and turns back into the room. There are three oaken doors to choose from and, feeling rather like Alice in Wonderland, she opens the first.

It connects to another bedroom; she steps inside.

This chamber’s masculine, its furnishings heavier, its dominant colour a dark, ivy green.

Draco’s room.

“Separate bedrooms for husband and wife,” she murmurs, wondering whether that’s the normal pure-blood practice. “Perhaps the wife’s allowed to decide when she wants her husband’s attentions.” She sits down on the bed. “But wouldn’t you rather sleep with your wife, Draco? Wake up beside her—”

“What are you doing in here?”

Hermione gasps; Draco’s standing in the doorway, and her heart flutters at the sight of him—he’s so tall and, though his impeccably tailored suit hides it, she knows his body’s hard, and muscular. “I was looking for you,” she says, holding out her arms.

“I would,” he sighs, sitting down beside her. “Want to sleep with my wife, that is. But you and I are not married.” He avoids her grasping hands. “Don’t look at me like that, Granger.”

“Like what?”

“Like you want to eat me alive.” He sighs again. “Why couldn’t you have looked at me like that before?”

“I don’t understand.”

“No, you don’t, do you?” He turns towards her. “And, I have to say, I’m disappointed. I really thought that you were stronger than this.”

Hermione frowns. “Stronger than what?”

“You hate me, Granger, and yet—”

“No, I don—”

Shhhhhh.” At last, he takes her in his arms, and holds her against his chest. “If anyone had told me,” he says, and she feels him press his lips to the top of her head, “that I’d feel like this—that I wouldn’t leap at the chance to have sex with you, Granger—I’d have called him a liar. Well, the joke’s on me. Because it doesn’t matter what I want. I have my orders.”

Hermione almost laughs. She has the strangest feeling—that if she were a Kneazle, her ears would be pricking—because she knows that this is what she’s been waiting for. And, right on cue, the little voice prompts her: “What orders, Draco?” she asks, as innocently as she can.

She hears him chuckle, but it’s not a happy sound. Then he says, “Once more, Granger. Just let me make love to you once more, and then I’ll tell you everything.”



“I’ve told her,” says Draco. He knows he couldn’t keep the anger from his voice even if he cared enough to try.

“These scruples are dangerous, Mr Malfoy!” His superior’s face is distorted by the flames, but there’s no mistaking his irritation. “Have you forgotten that it was you who asked me for this deal? And you swore to me that you would be equal to the task, whatever it might entail—”

“I was! I am! But she—”

“She is a valuable asset, Mr Malfoy. A gift from Merlin. And, if you proceed as planned—”

Draco grabs a handful of ash and hurls it into the fire, dowsing the flames and breaking the Floo connection.

Then, with a furious swipe, he shoves over the fire irons, upturns the coal scuttle and, scrambling to his feet, sweeps the delftware from the mantle piece; he rips the tapestries from the walls, overturns the china cabinet, and throws a chair into the fire... And he doesn’t stop his orgy of destruction until his knuckles are torn open, and his blood’s dripping on the floor.



“How’s your day been?” he asks.

“My day? Nothing special.” Hermione looks up from her work.

Draco’s entered her office without knocking, and her mind’s still deep in the intricacies of werewolf lore but, the moment she sees him, in his immaculate black suit and his black silk shirt, and with his pale hair hanging loose about his shoulders, all that’s forgotten.

She sets down her quill and, rising from her desk, she goes to him, smiling.

She knows that since the first wonderful time he made love to her, her feelings have changed radically, and that—whereas before she’d thought him arrogant, cold and cruel—now she can see that he’s sensitive, loving, and loyal. And though she does, occasionally, wonder how she could have been so wrong about him, the little voice keeps telling her to trust her instincts, to follow her heart, and to forget everything but the joy he gives her whenever they’re in bed together.

She smiles up at Draco, and he gathers her into his arms, and holds her close, and she snuggles, enjoying the feel of his steel-hard muscles almost biting into her softer flesh—it’s as though Draco doesn’t quite know his own strength, and it excites her.

No other man has ever made her body come alive the way he does.

“Any strange encounters?” he asks.

Hermione inhales the wonderful scent of him. “No...”

“I see....” He sighs. “Are you ready to come home?”

“Home,” she repeats, liking the feel of the word in her mouth. “Yes.” Her smile broadens. “Yes, Draco. I’m ready to come home.”


He Apparates them back to the house and, whilst Hermione changes into something more comfortable, he arranges dinner. They eat outside, in the courtyard, sitting beneath the wisteria and, afterwards, they linger in the twilight, talking, until they’re forced to light the candles, which glitter like stars against the darkness of the house. And Hermione doesn’t think it’s possible for a woman to be any happier, until Draco declares that it’s time for bed, and carries her upstairs, to the Rose Room.

She wraps her arms around his neck, and kisses him hungrily.

“Granger,” he murmurs, unlacing her robes, “have you always been this passionate, or is it just him?”

The sadness in his voice surprises her, and she pulls away from him, frowning. She knows he’s said something very strange. “Him? Who do you mean, Draco?”

Me,” he says, quickly. “I mean me. Is it just me?” He slides the silken fabric off her shoulders.

Hermione considers the question seriously. “Yes,” she says, watching him lean in and nuzzle her breasts. “It’s you Draco,”—she cradles his head against her chest—“it’s just you.”


He makes love to her gently, leading her by the hand to a calm and sighing climax, and—though Hermione usually prefers it fast and rough—tonight, after the evening they’ve just spent together, she can’t imagine anything more wonderful.


Later, she wakes and reaches for Draco, but he isn’t there, and his pillow’s cold.

She gets up, and looks in the Ivy Room, but that bed hasn’t been slept in.

What is he doing?

She wraps herself in her shawl, steps out into the passageway and, hearing quiet voices, she goes downstairs, following the sounds until they bring her to the Aster Room.

She pushes the door open.

Draco’s crouching in the hearth, talking to someone over the Floo connection.

Hermione moves closer, hoping to find out who the other person is, and steps on something sharp. “Ow!

Draco turns, yelling, “Mind your feet,” and Hermione gets the briefest glimpse of a familiar twisted face before the man in the fireplace takes flight.

“Oh, Granger!” Draco’s up, and coming towards her, crunching over broken glass and potsherds. “You’ve cut yourself...” He scoops her into his arms.

“That was Antonin Dolohov, wasn’t it?” she demands, as he carries her back upstairs. “You know where he’s hiding, don’t you?”


“Why didn’t you tell me, Draco? You said you were telling me everything, but you never mentioned you were hiding a war criminal! What if the Ministry finds out? Draco?”

He doesn’t reply, and he looks so hurt—and the little voice tells her that she shouldn’t press him any further...

In the Rose Room he sits her in a chair and, bringing a candle closer, he carefully lifts her foot onto his lap. He uses a delicate Summoning Charm to draw out the splinters of glass, and then Scourgifies the wound—“This will hurt,” he says, “but it’s thorough,”—before he heals the cut. “Can you walk on it?”

Hermione stands, cautiously. “You haven’t answered my questions, Draco.”

She takes a few tentative steps, and she doesn’t notice how he’s positioned himself behind her, nor how he’s raised his wand, and she doesn’t hear him mutter the word, “Obliviate.”

She gathers her shawl around her, and wonders what she’s doing out of bed.



Draco waits.

When he’s sure that she’s fast asleep, he lifts his wand from the bedside table and, gently touching its tip to Granger’s temple, he mutters the spell his superior taught him, and draws out a long, silver strand that’s not quite liquid, and not quite gas.

He drops the substance into an empty drinking glass and, taking care not to wake Granger, he climbs out of bed, and leaves the bedroom.


He removes the Locking Charms from the cabinet, lifts out the pensieve, and sets it on the table.

Granger’s memory sparkles in the candlelight, and something makes him hesitate for a moment or two before he remembers why he’s doing what he’s doing, pours it into the bowl, and plunges his face into it, feeling the familiar sensation of being lifted off his feet, and pulled downwards...

The edges of the memory are ragged and, here and there, there are smooth, white, empty patches, the result of his Obliviation Spell.

He watches Granger having breakfast with him (and can’t help noticing how comfortable they seem together); he follows her to a meeting with her colleagues, and to lunch with Potter and the Weasley girl; and he’s just about to leave her, consulting a pile of dusty records in the Ministry Archive, when he sees the lift doors open, and a cloaked wizard emerge.

The man flits silently towards Granger, approaching her like a panther stalking its prey. He draws level and, concealing himself behind a book stack, he peers between the shelves, staring intently at the back of Granger’s bushy head.

Draco sees Granger close her eyes and raise her hand to her forehead, slumping forward slightly, as though in pain...



“How’s your day been?”

Hermione looks up, smiling. “You ask me that every day.”

“Well, I’m interested.”

“Why?” She doesn’t mind telling him—she enjoys discussing her work, and she likes to please him—but the little voice is whispering, telling her that she should be finding out what he’s been doing.

Draco perches on the edge of her desk, and folds his arms. “Any strange encounters?”

He’s irresistible. She sets down her quill, and stands up and, when he gathers her into his arms, she lays her head on his shoulder, where it fits, just perfectly. “As it happens,” she says, “yes, I think I did. In the lift.”

“Tell me.”

“Aren’t we going home?” She nuzzles his ear, because she knows how much he likes it and, at the same time, she slips her hand between his thighs.

Draco catches her wrist, and gently pulls her hand away. “Tell me first.”

She frowns. The little voice is panicking, telling her to lie to him, but Hermione can’t quite bring herself to do that. “I... Well, actually, I’m not really sure...”

He leans back, and looks into her eyes. “Tell me.”

“It was just a wizard,” she says, “mumbling to himself.”

“Casting a spell?”

“I don’t think so...” She looks away. Suddenly, her head is splitting.

Draco gathers her against his chest and—as if he knows she’s in pain—he gently strokes her neck, soothing away the tension. “Did you speak to him?”


“All right,” he says, and the headache melts away. “We’ll go home.”


“What’s this?” she asks, taking a sip of wine.

“A one hundred and fifty-year old claret,” he says, pouring himself a glass. “Comet vintage.”

“It tastes strange.”

“It’s what’s known as ‘an exceptional wine’, Granger. You’ll get used to them.”

“No, it’s... It’s hot,” she says. “Like chilli.” She takes another sip. “It makes your lips tingle. It’s nice...” Very carefully, she sets her glass down on the table—she’s not sure she’ll ever get used to dining off monogrammed Worcester porcelain, or drinking from crystal goblets. “What are we celebrating, Draco?”

He smiles one of his rare genuine smiles. “I’ve made a decision,” he says.

She waits, but he doesn’t elaborate. “And,” she prompts. “What have you decided?”

“It’s a secret. For now.” He rises from the table and, taking her by the hand, he leads her, across the courtyard, to the bower where they like to sit and talk.

“An auspicious sky,” he says, looking up at the stars.

Hermione follows his gaze, and can’t help wondering about the Muggle terraces that loom over them on all sides. “How do you keep the house so well-hidden?” she asks.

Draco takes her hand. “With very ancient magic, Granger. Junius Malfoy, who built it, performed certain—er—rites that make the house invisible to anyone who isn’t a Malfoy.”

Hermione had been about to ask how many Muggles had died in those ‘rites’, but his final word diverts her attention. “Then why can I see it?”

“Because I want you here. I want you safe.”

“So you’ve—what?—granted me permission to see it?”

“In a manner of speaking. Now...”

He draws her into his arms, and kisses her.

And Hermione feels a strange sensation, down in that elusive place, deep in her vitals, that seems to have been made just for him to reach—something much more than the usual empty ache—something warm and tingling, “Like chilli,” she murmurs.

Shhhhhhh,” he whispers, softly. “I know...”

His kisses grow harder and more passionate but, though her body’s crying out for him, the need itself’s delicious, and Hermione pulls away from him, freeing herself from his arms.

Draco watches her curiously.

She grasps his beautiful jacket by its perfect lapels, slides it off his shoulders, and down his arms, marvelling at just how sexy such stiff and formal clothing can be.

Draco grins—maybe he’s reading her mind.

Hermione grins back, deftly untying his tie and pulling it off and, all the while, her desire’s growing, burning her up inside, but she forces herself to slow down, undoing his shirt buttons one by one, and gradually revealing his pale, muscular chest.

And Draco, who’s usually so masterful, seems to be enjoying letting her take the lead, enjoying letting her tease him.

Hermione lets his shirt fall to the ground and, still going slowly, though she’s desperate to feel him plunge himself inside her, she works her way down his chest, tormenting him with whisper-soft kisses, imagining how his body must be burning, just like hers.

She reaches the waistband of his trousers, moves lower, and nuzzles his erection through the soft fabric.

“Granger...” His voice is husky. He grasps her head, threading his fingers into her hair, and holds her close.

She rubs her cheek against his hard flesh.

His other hand moves to his fly, and he unfastens his buttons and, working the fabric aside, frees himself.

Hermione’s seen him before—touched him, held him, felt him deep inside her—but, still, she gasps.

Draco applies the tiniest amount of pressure with the hand that’s holding her head, and gently encourages her to use her mouth.

In the two weeks they’ve been together, it’s the first time he’s asked her to pleasure him like this—until now, he’s always been the one in charge, and he’s always made it about her—and Hermione sees this as a step forward in their relationship—a step towards equality—and she sucks him eagerly, bobbing her head, loving the feel of him, hard yet velvety, and the taste of him, and the way her attention’s making his cock grow stiffer, and more erect, until it’s so...

It’s so...

Until she wants his cock more than she’s ever wanted anything in her life; until she’s begging for it.

boudoir photo by liltinybee

Boudoir Photo by LilTinyBee

And that’s when he whispers, “I want you, too, Granger; I want to be inside you,” and he slides his hands down, and grasps her hips, and lifts her up, so that she’s straddling his thighs. “Are you ready for me?”


He kisses her—kisses her until she thinks she might come from being kissed.

Then he lifts her higher, and she reaches down, and guides him into her, holding him whilst he lowers her, and he does it so slowly, so deliberately, she almost dies from sheer frustration.

But then he’s inside her, and it’s blissful, and she can’t stop the cry that breaks from her as he thrusts himself home, nor the sob that accompanies his answering groan.

Merlin, he’s there, just where she needs him, where it’s all aflame...

Merlin—she grinds her hips—Merlin, Merlin...

She bears down on him, rides him and, in language that suddenly feels quite natural to this new, uninhibited Hermione, she demands that he fuck her, hard.

“Oh, Granger...” He wraps his arms around her and—without withdrawing from her by the merest fraction of an inch—he expertly turns her onto her back. “Like this?” he asks, with a rough thrust. “Is this what you want, Granger,”—another thrust—“is it?”

“Yes!” she cries. “Oh, yes! Oh, Draco! Yes!”


Afterwards, as she’s slipping into a delicious, dreamless sleep, she thinks she hears him say something about love, and about setting her free...



Draco hurries down the stone steps and joins the Circle.

He knows it was risky, drugging Granger. He just hopes that he’ll be back home by the time she wakes up.



Hermione’s almost used to waking up alone but, this time, she knows at once that something’s very wrong.

It’s not that she’s still in the courtyard.

It’s not that her body’s still glowing from whatever was in the wine.

It’s not even that the little voice inside her head seems to have disappeared.

No. It’s that the candles are no longer burning.


“Harry!” Hermione crouches before the fireplace in the Aster Room, and yells, “Ha-rreeeeee!

A few moments later, he appears at the other end of the Floo connection, pulling his dressing gown on over his pyjamas, pushing back his dishevelled hair, and peering, with bleary eyes, through his spectacles. “What’s wrong?” he yawns.

“Something’s happened to Draco.”

“Come through.”

“I daren’t—I don’t know if I’ll be able to get back.”

“Where are you?”

She’s about to say, “Home,” because, despite everything she’s beginning to suspect, it still feels like home, but she remembers that she hasn’t told Harry anything about her relationship with Draco, and she knows that she’ll need to break it to him gently. “I’m at Draco’s house.”

Harry’s baffled. “What are you doing there?”

“It’s a long story.”

He settles down, cross-legged. “Well, I’ve got all night.”

“But Draco mightn’t have.”

He knows better than to contradict her. “Where is he?”

“I don’t know,” she says. “All I do know is that something’s happened to his magic.” She tells him about the candles, and then—without meaning to—about the wine that she’s certain was drugged, and about the little voice that’s been in her head.

When she’s finished, Harry looks at her, thoughtfully. “And, despite all that, you’re in love with him, aren’t you?”

Hermione’s forced to look away. No, she thinks, no, I can’t be. It’s not possible.

But she knows that what she’s had with Draco—for all he’s been controlling and manipulative—has been intense, and passionate, and—yes—and loving, too. It’s been everything she’s ever wanted from a man. “I really don’t believe that he means to hurt me, Harry. I don’t believe he’s back with them.”

Harry sighs. “Maybe there’s a grain of truth in all those rumours about him then,” he says at last. “Come through. We’ll talk to Kingsley.”


Harry has a priority Floo connection to the Minister for Magic.

Kingsley Shacklebolt, dressed in nightrobes of purple and gold, receives them in his study. “Now,” he says, indicating that they should take a seat, “what is it that can’t wait until the morning?”

Before Harry has a chance to reply, Hermione blurts out, “It’s Draco, sir. Something bad’s happened to him—something,”—her voice wavers—“something that’s affecting his magic. Do you know where to find him?”

Kingsley crosses to the sideboard, and pours out a large brandy.

“We’ve come to you, sir,” Harry explains, “because I’d heard rumours that Malfoy might be working for you.”

Kingsley hands the glass to Hermione. “Here,” he says. “Drink this. It will do you good. Now, tell me,”—he sits down and leans towards her, hands clasped between his knees—“when did you last see Mr Malfoy?”

Hermione makes a quick calculation. “It—it must have been just before midnight.”

“I see.” He glances at the clock. “Almost five hours. And—forgive me—when did you first realise that you were feeling more like yourself?”

“More...?” Hermione takes a gulp of brandy and, closing her eyes, lets it burn its way down to her stomach. “When I woke up,” she says, hoarsely. “About an hour ago.”

Kingsley sighs. “It would appear,” he says, “that Mr Malfoy has been very foolish.”

Do you know where he is, sir?”

“No, unfortunately. Mr Malfoy’s a powerful wizard—there’s no denying it—but he’s totally incapable of following orders.” Kingsley regards Hermione sadly. “And I must apologise, my dear, for ignoring that, and endangering you in the process.”

“But is Draco in danger, sir?”

“Yes, I’m afraid he is.”

Harry reaches across, and grasps Hermione’s arm, supportively. “Are you saying that you know what he’s doing, sir?”

Kingsley nods. “Mr Malfoy came to me some weeks ago, intent on making a deal—” He’s interrupted by a quiet tapping at the window. “Ah—an owl,”—he rises from his seat—“let us hope it’s from Mr Malfoy.”

He draws back the curtains, and opens the window, and steps aside to allow a small, postal service owl to flutter inside. It settles on the arm of the sofa, and holds out its leg to Hermione.

“It seems to be for you, my dear,” says Kingsley.

Hermione carefully detaches the letter, opens it, and scans its contents.

“What does it say?” asks Harry. “Is it from Malfoy?”

She frowns. “It just says, Hermione.”


As her name leaves her lips, she feels a familiar but unpleasant sensation—as if a hook had been attached behind her navel—and she has just enough time to lift her head and gasp at Harry before the hook jerks her forward, and she’s flying through a kaleidoscope of colours towards some unknown destination.


Hermione lands with a bump, in what she quickly realises is the Woodbine Room, Draco’s study, in the little house she’s come to love so much.

Before her, lying on the heavy, oaken desk, she finds another letter, addressed to her in Draco’s elegant hand and, arranged beside it, a small pensieve, and a slender crystal vial, filled with memories and labelled, Watch me.

She sits down—very conscious that she’s sitting in Draco’s chair—and studies the three objects, considering whether she should take them straight to the Aster Room, and try to Floo back with them to Harry and Kingsley.

But then she thinks of Draco, and of the bond she shares with him—a bond that’s warm, and passionate, and physical and, above all, that’s still there, even though the little voice is gone—and she knows that the memories he’s stored in the vial have been extracted just for her.

She picks up his letter and breaks the seal and, unfolding the parchment, she sees the word Dearest, and her heart lurches.


Dearest Hermione,

If you’re reading this letter, then I haven’t come back, and the chances are I never will, and I want you to know the whole story; I want you to hear it from me...

She picks up the vial and, sniffing back her tears, holds it up to the light, watching the silvery substance ebb and flow.

Draco will come back.

He’s not dead; he can’t be.

She closes her eyes and, bringing the flask to her lips, kisses it.

But, if he fears for his life, she thinks, he’s obviously in terrible danger.

I need to know more.

She draws out the ground-glass stopper, and pours his memories into the pensieve.



“You made me an offer,” says Draco.

“Which you turned down, Mr Malfoy.”

Hermione’s standing in Kingsley Shacklebolt’s office, watching Draco pace up and down in front of the Minister’s desk.

“I’ve changed my mind,” he says.


“That’s my business.”

His eyes are burning with anger, and his hands are clenching and unclenching. Hermione checks Kingsley’s wall clock. It’s half-past eight on Friday 20 May, and the outlook is ‘cloudy’.

It’s the day she rejected Draco’s proposal.

“This is not a game, Mr Malfoy,” says Kingsley, calmly. “If you take this mission, it will be your life; you will be living it twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It will take precedence over everything else. If you’re required to mislead your loved ones, you will do it; if you’re required to compromise your principles for the greater good, you will do it; if you’re required to kill—”

“I will do it.” Draco stops pacing and, leaning on Kingsley’s desk, he says, forcefully: “You promised me my father’s freedom if I helped you catch them. Well, that’s all I care about now.”

The memory dissolves...


“Oh, Mr Malfoy!” The Minister’s flustered secretary rushes out from behind her desk and tries to stop Draco barging into Kingsley’s office.

The door opens. “It’s all right, Fuchsia,” says Kingsley. “Let Mr Malfoy come in.”

Hermione follows Draco into the inner sanctum.

“We have a problem, sir,” he says.

“Take a seat.” Kingsley waves him towards a chair, and sits down himself. “Well?”

Draco rakes a hand through his long hair—

Hermione smiles, recognising how familiar the gesture has become to her, and how endearing she finds it.

“I think...” Draco clears his throat. “I think they’ve got to Hermione Granger, sir.”

Kingsley’s obviously surprised. “Explain.”

“Her eyes are vacant, her face is plastered with a foolish smile, she’s behaving completely irrationally—I believe she’s under an Imperius Curse.” He describes, in embarrassing detail, her clumsy attempts to seduce him.

Hermione listens intently. She’s blushing furiously but, at the same time, her heart’s soaring because Draco’s confirming what she’d known—or, at least, had been desperately hoping—ever since she’d woken up, and found that the little voice had gone, and realised that someone had been manipulating her.

Draco had seen, almost instantly, what had happened to her, Because, she thinks, he’s an expert with that particular curse himself.

But he hadn’t cast it.

Whoever had cursed her, it hadn’t been Draco!

“... so they want her to get close to you,” Kingsley’s saying, “and report your pillow-talk to them.”

Draco sighs. “That’s how it looks.”

“That raises two questions, Mr Malfoy,” Kingsley continues, leaning back in his chair and pressing his hands together, as if in prayer. “One, what have you done to make them suspicious of you? And, two, how do they know that Miss Granger’s your Achilles heel?”

Draco sighs. “I have no idea, sir. On either count. Legilimency, perhaps?”

“Hmm. Coming from someone working undercover, that answer is far from reassuring, Mr Malfoy.” Kingsley regards him, thoughtfully. “Where is Miss Granger now?”

“I left her in the corridor.”

“How very gallant of you.”

“It was a difficult situation, sir.”

Poor Draco, thinks Hermione, attacked by a madwoman who looks exactly like the woman he loves! She remembers what Kingsley had told him in his previous memory, about undercover agents and what they must be prepared to do. Draco isn’t cut out for it, she thinks. He’s far too soft in the centre, too emotional.

“This does present us, Mr Malfoy, with an opportunity to mislead them—perhaps even lure them into a trap.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Oh, I think you do. They want Miss Granger to get close to you. Very well, you will take her as your mistress—”

“No! No! You can’t ask me to do that! No!”

“Those are your orders, Mr Malfoy. You will protect Miss Granger. But, at the same time, you will feed her the misinformation that I will give you. Consider this: the only way to free her from the Imperius Curse is to find the wizard who put her under it and either make him release her, or,”—he hesitates for a split-second—“break the magical bond between them.”

“By killing the bastard,” says Draco.

The memory ends abruptly.


“I’ll have to go soon.”

Hermione’s standing in the courtyard of the little house in Bloomsbury, watching Draco transfigure a table napkin into a blanket and drape it carefully over her sleeping self.

He sits down beside her.

Hermione’s heart’s hammering in her chest—this is his memory of the last time they were together, and if it doesn’t tell her where he is, she’s lost him.

“Before I go,” he says, taking her hand in his own, “there are things I need to tell you.” He sighs. “If it all goes well, Granger, I’ll free you, and be back before you wake up—if it goes really well, you won’t even know I’ve drugged you.”

He raises her hand to his lips. “I’m just hoping that these last two weeks have been as good for you as they have for me, and that, once you’re free, you’ll find something in them you won’t want to lose, something that’ll make you want to stay with me, and work on this,”—he waves his hand—“on our relationship, Granger. On us.

“Because I love you, Hermione Granger. I think I always have.

“Mother once told me that if you really love something, you must set it free, and if it comes back to you, you’ll know it loves you just as much.” His thumb strokes the back of her hand. “It didn’t work with the magpie...

“But, fuck, I’m gambling it’ll work with you.”

He takes a deep breath, and pulls himself together.

“I’m going to extract this memory, and a few others, and leave them with the pensieve, in the Woodbine Room, and I’ll arrange to have you Portkeyed there if I’m not back by a certain time. Watch them, Granger, and—well, Kingsley Shacklebolt will no doubt tell you the whole story—but, basically, you’ll see that he promised me a pardon for my father if I helped him round up the last of the Death Eaters—and you’ll see how you came to be involved in it, as well.

“The thing is...

“The thing is, Granger, I want you to know that—though neither of us asked for them—these two weeks have been the absolute best of my life.

“Despite me being scared shitless most of the time.”

He sighs. “The house is yours—I’ve made it over to you whether I come back or not—and, in the event of my death, as they say, you’ll also get all the money—just talk to my solicitor, Hector Beamish, of Aubrey, Beamish and Cauldwell, and he’ll sort it out for you...

“One last thing, Granger. I know you and your bloody Gryffindor courage and, even if you’re back to hating me, I’m pretty sure you’ll try to rescue me. So the wine bottle’s another Portkey. Just say my name,”—he smiles—“and it’ll take you to Dolohov’s hideout. But—please, Granger—don’t come alone. Just don’t. For Merlin’s—”

Hermione hears her sleeping self yelp; Draco must have squeezed her hand too hard.

“Sorry, Granger.” He kisses her knuckles, mouthing, Sorry, sorry...

Then he adds: “If you do decide to come, at least bring Potter and Weasley with you.

“But I will understand if you don’t come...”

He lays her hand upon her breast, and rises, and—smiling sadly as he traces the curve of her cheek with his fingertips—he takes one long last look at her, before he drags himself away.


Hermione feels herself float gently upwards, until her feet touch the floor, and she’s once more in the study, sitting in Draco’s chair. She leans back against the polished wood, and stares up at the ceiling.

She’s seen so much; heard so much; felt so much...

But there will be time to process that later.

The only thing that matters now is that Draco has—more or less—asked for her help.

An image of him, tall, elegant and handsome, fills her head, and she realises that she’s already made her decision, that she’d made it when, watching his memories, she’d heard him tell her he loved her.

She leaps to her feet and, after rushing down to the courtyard to grab the Portkey, she hurries back to the Aster Room, seizes handful of Floo powder, and goes in search of help.




Draco roars as another spear of white-hot pain pierces his anus.

His body bucks and twists in its effort to evade the invasion, and wrenches his arms and legs against their metal restraints. Previous convulsions have dislocated his shoulders and broken his ankles. This time, he feels one of his wrists snap...

“Did you think you could beat me?” shouts Antonin Dolohov. “Did you think that you could kill one of my Circle, Apparate away, and live happily ever after with your Mudblood bitch? Did you?”

“Free,” gasps Draco, triumphantly, and bubbles of blood burst in his mouth. “Granger’ free.”




“I know where he is!”

It’s taken Hermione a good half-hour to track Harry and Kingsley Shacklebolt to the Auror Office.

She finds them briefing a small group of hand-picked wizards, including Ron, and Dennis Creevey, and a Secrecy Sensor specialist named Cattermole—preparing them to rescue her.

She quickly explains what she’s learned, and shows them the wine bottle Portkey.

Harry gives his Aurors new instructions, and the raid begins.



Hermione’s first impression is of darkness; then she feels the cold, and then she hears the sound of dripping water.

Cattermole lights his wand with wordless magic—signalling that his sensor has detected no immediate danger—and the rest of the Aurors follow suit.

The Portkey’s brought them underground—if the musty air’s anything to go by—to a circular chamber, divided by a ring of thick stone columns into a partially-screened central tomb, surrounded by an ambulatory, which is pierced by various doorways, no doubt leading to the rest of a large mausoleum.

Cattermole sets about scanning the doors whilst the other Aurors stand guard.

Hermione, anxious to find Draco, casts a disclosing charm and, finding no obvious traps within the ring of columns, steps into the central chamber.

Her raised wand illuminates a carved stone canopy suspended from the vaulted ceiling, which—she can see as she brings the tiny light downwards—hovers over a flat-topped sarcophagus, upon which, like a sacrifice on an altar, lies a dead body!

Hermione gasps, and—with Harry close behind—climbs onto the plinth, and pulls the corpse’s shroud aside.

Oh, thank Merlin, it’s not Draco!

But the dead man is familiar and, though Hermione’s sure she’s never seen his face before, she somehow feels she knows it, and the feeling’s accompanied by a profound sense of loss...

Of course...

It’s her tormentor—the wizard who cast the Imperius Curse on her—the man who commanded her to seduce Draco, and learn his secrets, and who—somehow—made her to report them back to him.

Draco, she realises, has killed him!

Which means, she thinks, that Draco must have broken his cover, and—if, please God, he’s still alive—that he must now be Dolohov’s prisoner!

She turns to Harry. We have to find Draco, she mouths.

Harry nods and, gently grasping her arm, guides her back to where Cattermole’s still working with his Secrecy Sensor. “Look for Malfoy,” he says, quietly.

Cattermole adjusts his equipment, and begins another sweep—

And the air’s split by a blood-chilling cry, beginning in anger, quickly breaking down into terror, then descending into a wail of child-like misery, and going on, and on, and on, lasting longer than seems humanly possible.

“Draco,” sobs Hermione, “oh, Draco!”

She escapes from Harry’s grasp and, pushing her way through the knot of burly Aurors, she runs towards the scream.


Hermione pursues the sound of Draco’s agony, down a long narrow corridor, to second burial chamber, and—oblivious to Dolohov, who turns towards her, wand raised—she rushes inside—

From behind her, the red blast of Harry’s Stunning Spell drops Dolohov where he stands—

Hermione reaches Draco.

He’s silent now, his eyes wide-open and unfocussed, his body so still she can’t tell if he’s breathing, and her foolish heart’s broken by the sight of his normally beautiful hair plastered to his head with blood and sweat, and his normally elegant robes stuck to his body with his own piss.

“Oh, Draco!” She gathers him into her arms. “No,” she sobs, “No! Nooooo!”

To her left, Harry’s binding the unconscious Dolohov with Inescapable Rope; elsewhere in the mausoleum the Aurors are dealing with the other members of the Death Eater Circle.

Hermione!” Ron comes up behind her. “Hermione, let Grimstone look at him.” Ron’s hands, strong like Draco’s, grasp her round her waist, and lift her away. “It’ll be all right Hermione,”—he hugs her tightly—“shhh, shhhhhh—it’ll be all right. Grimstone’s a brilliant healer...”

fade to black



Draco stares up at the white ceiling, wondering what has changed...

And realises that he’s no longer in pain.

He experiments, moving a hand—no pain—both arms—no pain—his toes—no pain—and the tongue he’d bitten through...

No pain at all.

I’m dead, he thinks.


Later, a vague memory surfaces: of Granger’s voice, telling him that he’s safe now, that everything’s going to be all right...


Slowly, Draco turns his head.

Granger’s sitting beside him, fast asleep, her head lolling awkwardly to one side, her sweet little mouth slightly open.

Not dead, then.

He smiles.


Watching over him.



“Oh! Draco!” Hermione’s flustered. “How long have you been awake?”

“Not long.” He tries to move his hand towards her, and it’s obvious that he’s still very weak.

She slips from her chair, and settles on the edge of his bed. “How do you feel?”

“Good,” he says, but his voice is thick, and throaty.

“Shall I fetch your mother?”

“No,” he croaks, and he touches her arm, trying grasp it, and hold her back, but he has no grip. “I mean... In a minute.” His smile’s wobbly, but beautiful.

Hermione smiles back.

“How long was I out?”

“Almost three days.”

“Merlin!” His head sinks back on the pillow. “And you’ve been here with me all that time?”

“Your mother and I took turns.” She takes hold of his hand. “The healers say that it’ll take a few weeks, but you will make a full recovery.”

He nods. Then he turns his head towards her. “And... Are you all right, Granger?”

She knows he’s referring to the Imperius Curse. “Yes,” she says. “I’m fine.” Then, she adds, softly, “You killed him, didn’t you, the wizard who was controlling me? That was what you meant when you said you’d set me free. You went there intending to kill him.”

“I did have licence,” he replies guardedly, “from Kingsley Shacklebolt.”

“Oh, I know. I saw your memories, and I’ve spoken to Kingsley, so I know that you were acting on his orders, Draco. But it was still... It was something you shouldn’t have had to do, and you did it. For me. You—”

“Will you marry me?”

He blurts it out with all the emotion that had been missing from his first proposal, and it’s exactly what Hermione’s been longing for, but she knows she can’t accept it. “I’m not the mindless little doll you’ve been living with, Draco.”

“Do you think I wanted you like that?” He’s vehement, but his voice is weak, and he sounds breathless.

“This is wearing you out,” says Hermione.

“No...” His fingers press her hand. “I’m not giving up, Granger. Because I know you’re that know-it-all, the one who decked me at school...” His words are coming out in gasps now. “But that’s the woman I proposed to... The woman I want... So...” He sinks back, exhausted.

Hermione pours a glass of water and, carefully supporting his head, helps him take a few sips.

“It’d be amazing, Granger,” he persists. “Just think... We’d fight like cat and dog... And then we’d make up, like two Hungarian Horntails.”

Hermione sets the glass back on the side table. “You know,” she says, softly, “I’ve just worked out why I couldn’t resist that damned Imperius Curse.”


“Because it gave me what I wanted.”

She leans over him, and whispers in his ear, “I wanted you, Draco. I loved your mind; I loved your body, your touch, your strength... And I wanted you.”

“Kiss me...”

She lifts her head, and looks down at him—weak and drawn, and by no means conventionally handsome, but the most beautiful man she’s ever seen—and she leans in, and kisses him—slowly, tenderly—and Draco somehow slides his hand around her waist, and pulls her closer.

“It won’t be easy,” she says. “I refuse to be a doormat, like your mother, or the hand that rocks the cradle, like Molly Weasley. I’ll be your companion as well as your lover, Draco—I’ll insist on being treated as your equal—are you sure you can live with that?”

He’s silent for a long moment. Then his hand moves down to her bottom, and squeezes, and her body responds with a sharp jerk of desire.

“Like two Hungarian Horntails,” he murmurs.






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Written for the Hawthorn & Vine Reverse Challenge
Inspired by a wonderful manip, called Boudoir Photo, by LilTinyBee

It has a really 'physical' quality about it, and when I saw how LilTinyBee had made Draco look so strong, and so possessive, and Hermione so feminine, the idea for this story just popped into my head!


Some Malfoy & Granger icons