Work Header

Ghost Light

Chapter Text

Hermione felt lucky to have been born with magical abilities, even if it meant that she came up against considerable prejudice everyday. There weren’t many muggleborns allowed the kind of education she received since the reign of the Dark Lord. Having just completed her 7th year at Hogwarts, Hermione was excited about her future even with her limited understanding about the magical world outside the gates of Hogwarts. 

She walked quickly down the familiar corridor towards the Headmaster’s office. He had asked to see her, which wasn’t entirely unusual. Though Headmaster Snape could be incredibly stern, he had shown her kindness and interest over the years. She was one of only a handful of muggleborns in the school and for the duration of her education she was in his guardianship. 

“Lily,” she muttered at the door and watched as the password swung the door wide. She walked up the spiral staircase wondering what she was walking into. With the Headmaster, she could never be entirely sure. 

“Ah good, Miss Granger,” the dark clothed man said from behind his massive desk. “Won’t you please come sit down?” 

“Thank you, Headmaster.”

Among her education at Hogwarts, she and the other muggleborns had been required to take a course on Magical Culture Studies. She had learned how to speak and behave as though she had been raised in a magical household. She took great pride in how well she had learned those lessons and how naturally she behaved now. 

“I have received your final test results, they are the best we have seen at our great school in several decades.”

Hermione dipped her head as her cheeks heated up. “Thank you, Headmaster. I am pleased to have done so well.”

“I have great hopes for you, Hermione,” he continued. “But life for muggleborns like yourself outside of these walls is not easy.”

Hermione nodded. She had heard the horror stories for Hogwarts educated students relegated to mundane or physical tasks due to their blood status. 

“There is an old tradition,” he said slowly as though he was considering whether or not to tell her about it, “that could provide you with a more advantageous than many believe you deserve.”

Hermione could scarcely believe what she was hearing. She had grown accustomed to a life with little hope. She had half thought that she might defect to America after she graduated, where she heard things were better for non-purebloods.

“In the old days, powerful families with limited heirs would adopt fully grown witches/wizards, not unlike in the Roman Empire. With such an adoption, bloodstatus and familial status are entirely changed. I suppose there could be the odd witch or wizard who would not understand, but it would give you more that you have any right to hope for otherwise.” 

Hermione was speechless, which was good since she knew better than to interrupt her better. 

“I have set up a number of meetings with eligible families who have shown interest. Your scores and social skills make you a most attractive potential adoptee. But you must be perfect. These families are in his inner circle. If you fail, you will need to go to America as you were fantasizing about.”

She tried to keep her reaction neutral. He was so skilled at entering her mind that she hadn’t felt it, as usual. 

“I won’t let you down, Headmaster.” 

He titled his head and looked at her critically. 

“No, I don’t think you will. I have purchased for you appropriate attire. You have two days to prepare yourself. The families will come to the castle.”

“Yes, Headmaster.”

“This is the greatest opportunity I have ever given a student,” he commented nearly to himself.

“I won’t forget your kindness, sir. I will forever be in your debt, no matter how it goes.” 

“You will find success, Hermione. I will accept nothing less from you.”

“Yes, sir.”

Hermione knew she sounded confident, perhaps overly so for the situation she was in. No details about this process had been taught to her in her Magical Culture classes, as so many other details had been. At the time it hadn’t struck her as odd, but now it was highly inconvenient. 

As with any other challenge, Hermione did the natural thing, she went to the library. It was empty save Madame Prince, who smiled but said nothing. Hermione went to what she thought was the most likely section and began digging in the stacks.

The two intervening days passed in a blur of preparation and practice in front of her mirror. Hermione had internalised the lessons about the importance of a first impression on how these families would see her. Her scores were good, but due to the way of the magical world, she would be constantly fighting an uphill battle to be accepted. 

She rose early the day of the interviews, not that she had slept much. She wanted the extra time to prepare herself in the morning. She bathed when the bathrooms were still empty and the students were still sleeping. She took her time and attempted to settle her nerves. She dressed methodically. The dress that the Headmaster had provided was simple, but elegant. The outer robes were understated but beautifully embroidered. They were the nicest wizarding clothes she had ever touched. She very nearly felt like a different person in them. 

Hermione didn’t bother going to breakfast. She didn’t want to risk getting anything on her clothes, nor did her stomach have any interest in food. She went to the Headmaster’s office as instructed and waited obediently outside as she had been told to. She stood straight and recited spells in her head to keep her body still and mind occupied. 

She tensed slightly when the magical door and staircase activated from the inside, but she didn’t move and kept her face neutral, unsure of what would be coming next. She wanted to sigh in relief when the Headmaster appeared and looked her over slowly. 

“Right this way, Miss Granger,” he drawled. 

She followed at his heels reminding herself of how hard she had worked and how worthy she was of this opportunity. The Headmaster clearly believed she was, and so she must as well. 

When he stepped out from in front of her, Hermione caught sight of her first interview of the day. The stately family was already seated comfortably in front of her and looked at her expectantly. She curtsied slowly, looking up only when the Headmaster spoke again. 

“Lord and Lady McNair, this is Hermione Granger for your consideration.”

Hermione walked out of the first interview confident of how she had performed. She had been engaging, intelligent, and found the couple easy to connect with. They seemed kinder than she had been expecting out of the day. As instructed, Hermione walked to wait in the Transfiguration classroom in between interviews. She was grateful for tea and a snack to be waiting for her when she entered. She knew that there were still two families for her to meet with and she didn’t want hunger to dull her senses. 

Just to be careful, she cast a protection spell over her clothes. She ate far more quickly than was polite, but drank the tea slowly savouring it. She replayed the first interview in her mind and practiced the parts that she believed that she could do better. 

She jumped to her feet when the door creaked open and breathed a small sigh of relief when it was the Headmaster. 

“You did well, Hermione. The McNair’s were suitably impressed. But you cannot afford to get lazy. These families will no doubt talk amongst themselves before any of them make a final decision.”

“Yes, sir.”

Hermione knew he was right. Their community was so close knit that there was no way that her candidacy was a secret. A misstep with any of the families could be very damaging to her ability to land a place in their line. 

“You have 5 minutes. I must go greet the Carrows. Be ready girl.”

Hermione nodded frantically. She knew those names, they were notorious even within Hogwart’s walls. They were some of the Dark Lord’s most brutal followers. She found it curious that they would be interested in a mudblood heir, but quickly put the thought out of her head. It wasn’t her place to question their motivations. 

She walked to the window attempting to take deep breaths. She was nervous at the potential cruelty. Realistically, she knew that she had faced prejudice just as cruel within the castle. Just because she was allowed to be at Hogwarts didn’t mean that the pure blooded students hadn’t made her life unbearably hard at times. But she had learned to trust in herself and put on an impassive face, even if it meant crying under the covers at night. 

She walked head held high back into the Headmaster’s office. She would be perfect no matter what they threw at her. As she walked into the room, the evil smirk stretched across Amycus’ face told her everything she needed to know about how the interaction would go.

The second walk to the transfiguration classroom was nothing like the first. Hermione did her best to not sag against the wall under the weight of her disappointment. While she hadn’t made any specific mistakes, it was clear that the brother and sister hadn’t been pleased with her. She had done her best to remain neutral and provide easy answers and communication, but nothing she did seemed to resonate with them in the slightest. 

She was grateful to be behind a closed door when she finally took a full breath. There was something about experiencing her future slowly slip from her grasp that made her want to give up on the final interview. She held back tears that desperately wanted to fall. She would no doubt cry later, but she wouldn't give them the satisfaction of ruining her make-up and hair before the final interview. Even if she was to fail the task, she would do her best to make the Headmaster proud. 

Part of her hoped that there would be more tea or perhaps a kind word from the Headmaster to boost her confidence, but none was forthcoming. She did as she had always had to. She put on a brave face and followed the elf sent to fetch her to the large door.

Hermione whispered the password, allowing herself one last moment to mourn her future. When the door swung open, she had straightened her spine and put the pleasant but not overly eager look back on her face. Already this family was different. There were 4 of them all over the Headmaster’s office. The blonde woman, who was the most beautiful witch Hermione had ever seen, was sitting primly. She looked at Hermione with piercing blue eyes. Hermione felt a blush creep down her neck at the attention. One of her sisters, with curly hair and kind eyes, sat nearby. She almost looked sorry for Hermione. A thin man of a similar age, stood at the blonde’s elbow. He smiled openly at her. Then there was the most famous witch in modern Britain, leaning against the wall looking out a window. 

While she might not have been able to identify every pure blooded family on sight, the unbelievably attractive Black family could not be mistaken for any other. 

Hermione sunk into a curtsy that she held as she felt Bellatrix approach her. She kept as still as she possibly could as the witch walked slowly around her. She fixed her eyes on the ground even when black boots came into her view. 

“She looks every bit as brainy as they suggested,” the rich voice said over the pounding of her heart in her ears. 

“Merlin, Bella. Come sit. There is no need to terrify the poor girl,” the sympathetic looking curly headed witch interrupted. 

“Come,” the blond cut in cooly. 

Hermione’s feet moved towards her before she had even processed the command. While she knew there was no real magic at play, she felt the pull from the witch all the same. 

“Sit,” the blonde commanded. 

Hermione did so, politely taking the seat across from the blonde. Only then did she make eye contact with her. She was forced to suppress a gasp at the magic the blonde pushed towards her. It felt inquisitive, interested, and more than a little like innuendo. 

“She can feel your magic,” the man said. 

“Impressive,” the blonde replied. 

“Do you know who we are, Hermione?” 

The blonde’s question and the young witch’s name coming out of her mouth were so casual that Hermione didn’t hesitate answering. 

“Yes, Madame Malfoy, Mister Black, Madames Black.” 

Hermione bobbed her head towards each of them in turn. 

“Severus has told us that you are the brightest witch of your age in spite of the unfortunate circumstances of your birth,” the blond carried on. 

“The Headmaster has been generous to provide me with opportunity and the good sense to know that I must earn everything in this life.”

“Has he brainwashed you to the point that you believe parading yourself in front of pureblooded families like cattle to be bought is your lot in life?”

The question from the man was far more bitter than she expected. She saw Andromeda Black lean forward as if she might say something to rescue her from the comment. 

“The Headmaster has ensured that I have had the opportunity to learn magic far beyond what most of my peers have learned. But through the course of my education, I have also been allowed to see the world as it is. I understand the world as the Dark Lord has constructed it and my place in it. It is an honor to meet with the Ancient and Nobel House of Black.”

Hermione could tell that she now had the undivided attention of Bellatrix Black. It was both nerve wracking and thrilling. She wondered if this was a fraction of what people felt like when they were being stalked by the witch. 

“Now, now. Don’t be bitter little cousin. It appears the mudblood might have more brains than you do,” the dark witch hissed. 

Hermione wanted to lean towards her to physically be closer to her, she was so magnetic. 

“What aspirations do you have,” Andromeda interjected before what sounded like a well worn argument could begin. 

“I hope to be able to contribute as a productive member of magical society. To bring pride to the house that adopts me, if one chooses to do so. I have a broad skill set in practical magics. Potions and charms have historically been my strongest subjects, but I also obtained Os in arithmancy and transfiguration.”

“And your duelling skills,” Bellatrix interjected. 

“Due to my charm proficiencies, I am quicker to produce spells than most of those I have faced. However, my knowledge is limited to what has been taught to me at Hogwarts. I am aware that there is an offensive branch of the dark arts that I have not been trained in as I am not a member of an ancient family.” 

“Draw your wand,” Bellatrix said, already palming her own. 

“Really, Bella.” Narcissa sounded exasperated. 

“What, Cissy? Do you really want to sit around asking mundane questions? If we are going to consider her, I want to know what her magic tastes and feels like. If you must, feel free to question her while I duel.” 

Hermione stood unclasping her outer robes. They would restrict her and she was certain that this would be a significant magical workout. 

“I prefer not to stand on traditions.” 

Bellatrix casually tossed a reducto at her. 

Hermione swept it away with her non-wand hand. Even so she felt the warmth and passion imbued in the witch’s magic. So very different from Madame Malfoy’s. 

“Not bad,” Bellatrix said before sending another volley. 

“Do you have any significant relationships in your life,” Narcissa asked as they fought. 

“No, Madame Malfoy,” Hermione fought to keep her voice steady while executing escalating difficult magic. “I am closest to the Headmaster, but even that is only a student teacher relationship.” 

“Have you not dated?”

The question from Andromeda almost broke her concentration. She was forced to use a traditional protego to keep from being knocked back by Bellatrix’s spell. 

“No, not formally, Madame Black. I have had the odd association, but I have been singularly focused on my education. I have no significant attachments.”

Hermione started to get out of breath. It was apparent that Bellatrix was toying with her, but she wouldn’t give in until forced. She continued to push at the warrior with creative and unexpected spells. She thought she even caught a smile on her face a time or two at the spells she chose. She hadn’t noticed at first that the witch had been backing her against a wall until she was nearly touching it. When her back made contact with the solid surface, Bellatrix grinned and whispered expelliarmus. Hermione watched the witch inspect her wand carefully as she attempted to catch her breath. 

“Its a powerful wand and you are very talented,” the dark witch said handing her wand back. 

“Thank you, Madame Black.” 

“Minister Black,  if you please. It keeps everyone from confusing me with my baby sisters.” 

“Of course, Minister Black,” Hermione said as they walked back to their seats. 

“Has she sufficiently proven her duelling, sister?” 

Narcissa sounded annoyed, which was nearly as concerning as the moment Bellatrix had drawn her wand. 

Bellatrix rolled her eyes dramatically. 

“Yes, I appreciated the practical application of her skills,” the witch drawled. 

Hermione felt her magic again brush against her, it was less intent and more seductive. It made her wonder vaguely what she was getting into. 

“Do you have any questions for us,” Andromeda asked, obviously attempting to redirect the conversation. 

“Why is the Black Family seeking an heir in this manner?”

She felt the none of you are too old to bear heirs linger in the air. 

“Any of my line will inherit the Malfoy name,” Narcissa said simply. 

Hermione nodded. She knew Draco, the heir to the Malfoy name. He was popular and very intelligent. Narcissa smiled at her thought, and Hermione wondered if they were listening to her thoughts. 

“And my sisters and cousin are not interested in children for a variety of reasons. Now that this ancient custom has been resurrected by our Lord, it seemed only appropriate that we at least perform interviews.” 

“Thank you, Madame Malfoy.” 

It was clear that the interview was over and Hermione stood to thank them. She wasn’t sure if it had gone well, though she couldn’t help but hope that it had. 

Bellatrix was the last of the group to follow up. 

“Don’t even think about accepting anyone else’s offer until you hear from us. Understood?” 

“Yes, Minister Black.” 

Hermione nearly choked on the words she was surprised at the comment. The half smirk she got in return was almost as thrilling as the duel from before.

When the door finally closed, Hermione sank back into her chair grateful that the day was over. Her rest was short as the door nearly immediately reopened. She jumped back to her feet at the entrance of the Headmaster. 

Before she could formulate a question he said, 

“I don’t know anything more than you do. We will hear by noon tomorrow. You may return to your dormitory.” 

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir,” Hermione said and hurried from the room. 

She hurried down the corridor to spend what she knew would be a sleepless night from nerves and excitement.

Hermione did in fact watch the sunrise from the window of her dorm room. She slept perhaps a little, but gave up in the early hours of the morning. Whatever was going to happen would permanently alter the course of her life, but she couldn’t begin to predict in what ways. Within the walls of Hogwarts, she had been able to control nearly everything about her life within reason. She loved order and learning. She wondered if she would be able to retain either in her life. 

Her thoughts were interrupted by a sharp rapping on the window. Hermione turned to see a large black bird looking intently at her. She moved to open the window to allow it in. While it wasn’t the traditional owl, the raven looked far too intelligent to be a random animal. Her suspension was confirmed when it held out a leg with a small piece of parchment attached. She carefully untied it and watched with fascination as it shook out its feathers.

“Thank you, pretty bird.”

The bird preened as though it understood the words she was saying. She looked down at the small parchment and carefully unfolded it. 

Remember what I said.


PS Narcissa requests you wear the dress again. I would do as she says. 

Hermione felt herself flush at the abbreviation of Minister Black’s name and the intimacy of the note. She traced her fingers over the hurried but still beautiful script. 

While it felt odd to don the same clothes again, Hermione did so. Narcissa Black Malfoy was the most fashionable witch she had ever seen, if anyone knew what Hermione should wear today it would be her. 

She walked stiffly to the headmaster’s office. There was nothing she could do to tamp down the nervous energy swirling around her. She looked down at her watch, waiting for the minute hand to finally hit the hour. The moment it did, she muttered the password before walking up the spiral stairs. 

“Ah, Miss Granger. Perfectly punctual as usual. Please do sit down.”

Hermione was so anxious she could hardly sit, even though it was just the headmaster. 

“I won’t keep you in suspense…”

Naturally he paused dramatically. 

“You’ve again exceeded my expectations. Not one offer but two. Both the McNairs and the Blacks have made formal offers. They both have advantages. The choice is your’s.”

“Is the offer from the entire Black family or one of them in particular, sir?” 

“In the ancient magic’s eyes they will all be equal once the agreement has been sealed. Even Madame Malfoy. But from what I understand, Andromeda will be training you day to day to begin with.”

“The McNairs are very kind, but the Blacks… I must choose the Blacks.”

“Very well. Go gather the last of your things. I am certain they will be here presently to collect you.”

“Yes, Headmaster. Thank you, Headmaster.”

“Do not disappoint me, Hermione.”

“I won’t, sir.”

She left not quite sure how to say goodbye to the only kindness she had known in the magical world. 

Her things were truthfully already packed. She had hoped that she would need to leave quickly. It was hard to believe that the Black family would be coming for her, would be claiming her. Looking around her space, her few things were neatly packed and ready to go. While she was contemplating if she should sit on the bed and wait, an abrupt knock made her start. 

Andromeda peeked inside the door before stepping in. 

“Hello again, Hermione. Are you ready to go?”

“Yes, Madame Black. I’m quite honored…”

“I am certain you are. And please call me Andy. You will be family soon enough.”

Hermione nodded. 

“Is this all you have? Well, that is for the best. Cissy will want to purchase you all new things regardless.”

Andy snapped her fingers and a house elf appeared. Hermione watched quietly as she instructed the elf to transport the things back to Black Manor. 

“Any last minute things before we go?” 

Hermione looked around for a moment. 

“No. I am quite happy to begin this new chapter.”

Chapter Text

Hermione had read about sidealong apparition, but being pulled by Andromeda’s magic was the most fascinating and compelling thing she had ever felt. She was proud that she had managed to not stumble on the landing. She was skilled at solo apparition, but relying on the feel of someone else’s magic to land was an entirely different task. As she pushed down the roll of nausea, she looked up at Black Manor. It was the largest Manor house she had ever seen in person. She had done a bit of research on the inner circle in the last year and knew the Manor was based in Cumbria. The building itself was over 750 years old and with deep magical roots. The Tudor styling of the roofline made it look much like an old fortress. They paused at a large gate where Andromeda lifted her wand. Hermione felt the magic shift and move around them. It was like a warm embrace. 

“The wards will accept you until the ceremony is complete,” Andromeda said, shaking her from her thoughts. 

“Thank you,” Hermione gasped. The magic was still caressing her skin and made her want to quiver. 

“I imagine my sisters will be quite anxious to see you, so we shouldn’t keep them waiting. Sirius will join us at lunch. He makes his apologies, but it was unavoidable.”

“Yes, Madame Black.”

“Save those for my sisters. Please, do call me Andy. I know that your training has likely told you that it's impolite, but in the Black family we do not tolerate disobedience or insubordination.”

“Thank you for explaining. I understand, Andy.” 

“Ah, delightful. You are bright. Come along.”

Hermione walked quickly to try to keep up with her. She wanted to continue to look at the beautifully constructed building, but imagined there would likely be adequate time for that later. When the large door swung open, two witches were silhouetted by the light. They were beautiful and intimidating. 

“It took you long enough.”

Hermione recognized the low near growl as Bellatrix.

“I was hardly gone for half an hour, Bella. Do attempt to be less dramatic.”

“Welcome home, Hermione,” Narcissa said as though the others weren’t speaking. 

“Thank you, Madame Malfoy. I am honored to be here.”

Finally in the house, Hermione blinked her eyes to adjust them in the dim lighting. Bellatrix was looking her over as critically as she had the day before. The stare made her feel hot and invisible at the same time. 

“Hello, Minister Black,” Hermione whispered, unsure of what else to do. 

“Good Morning.”

Hermione was captured by the dark eyes and found herself forgetting her manners. 

“Come. It's breakfast and it will be cold if we stay here much longer,” Narcissa said. 

“Do pay attention as we walk, Hermione. I would hate for you to get lost and be late,” Bellatrix said in a tone that Hermione didn’t quite understand. 

Hermione did her best to map her way as they walked. She hoped she might gain access to the library so that she could search for the floor plans to be better equipped. Every hallway they turned down was more beautiful than the last and Hermione couldn’t imagine that she would be living under this roof. She sat in the chair she was ushered to by Andromeda. She felt an affectionate brush of magic from her, which was surprisingly soothing. 

“Are we prepared for the ritual,” Bellatrix asked once the food had been served. 

“We are,” Narcissa answered. “I anticipate we will be able to do the magic late afternoon. Unless Sirius causes more delays. But as you know, it would be best for us to complete it today. The others are still quite interested in her this morning and until the formal bond to the family takes place, the McNairs may continue to pursue her.”

“They wouldn’t dare,” Bellatrix hissed.

“I believe they would,” Narcissa said immediately. “They know that she is far too good for them. There will be plenty of other candidates at their level . They also know that there will be few worthy of us.”

“Hermione isn’t going to consider them,” Andromeda interjected. “Isn’t that right, Hermione.”

Hermione coughed as she was mid-sip of coffee. 

“No, Madame Black.” She blanched at the raised eyebrows. “I mean… Andy. I was honored by their offer, but there was no chance that I would choose any other when I had the opportunity to join the Ancient and Nobel House of Black.”

“That is very… sweet,” Narcissa said coolly. “All the same, I insist the magic be executed today.” 

“And so it will be,” Bellatrix said plainly. “Your will won’t be disregarded Family keeper.”

The pleased pulse of magic from Narcissa zipped up Hermione’s spine and left her breathless. Andromeda smiled at her knowingly.

“You are already so sensitive to our magic, Hermione. How will you survive when it is magnified by the family bond?”

Hermione tried not to gape at the question. She hadn’t thought deeply about the impact of the familial bond. The ancient families were extremely secretive about their ancient magic, and for the first time Hermione realized how out of her depth she was. 

“I hope one of you will teach me how to,” she said uncertaintly. 

Narcissa laughed beautifully. 

“I imagine one of us will. Eventually, once we have become bored of your delightful reactions.”

“Maybe,” Bellatrix added with a grin.

“Is there anything I need to prepare for the ritual?” Hermione asked quietly. 

“No. We will take care of everything,” Bellatrix answered. “We understand that you have been very independent and managing your life on your own for years. But as a part of this family, you will no longer be solely responsible. The Black family carries burdens as a group. You will see in time. There is much that we cannot explain. Some you will have to experience for yourself. Others we can discuss once the magic has been executed.”

Hermione nodded doing her best to understand. 

“Eat your breakfast, Hermione,” Andromeda added. “You will need your strength to survive us, particularly before you’ve grown used to us.” 

Hermione looked down at her untouched plate and obediently started to make her way through the food. She sighed at the first bite. The food was far better than what they served at Hogwarts. When she looked up, blue eyes were fixed on her with significant heat behind them.

“This is lovely, Madame Malfoy,” she said quietly just to have something to say. 

Bellatrix chuckled over her cup of tea.

Andromeda spent the morning showing Hermione the many rooms and grounds of the house. Hermione was in awe of it all. She was feeling quite wooed by Andromeda’s attention. She was intelligent and kind. And even more than that, she seemed deeply interested in Hermione. 

Sirius’ arrival drastically changed the atmosphere of the gathering. Any openness, Hermione had seen in Bellatrix and Narcissa had slammed shut at his appearance. Andy seemed unphased by him. Hermione found herself retreating into the most rigid form of manners. He too seemed extremely nervous, which struck Hermione as odd. 

“Come now, Sirius,” Bellatrix said impatiently. “The magic is well known and you’ve been formally accepted back into the house. The wards don’t reject you. My composition of family magic won’t reject you. You are worrying too much.”

“What if I cannot do the magic,” he whispered harshly leaning towards the dark witch. 

“Then we will do it for you,” Narcissa chimed in. “You know we can access your magic. We know how important this is for your case with the Dark Lord.”

“Take a deep breath cousin,” Andy soothed. “You are ready for this step and so are we.” 

Bellatrix leaned towards Hermione. “I’ll explain it to you tonight.” 

Hermione nodded. She was curious, but was happy enough to wait to have time with the mysterious witch. It seemed a more than fair trade off. 

“Good. Then can we please proceed into the ceremony room,” Narcissa guided. 

Hermione was surprised when Andromeda affectionately put her arm around her waist to show her the way. The room they walked into was dimly lit by candles and practically vibrated. 

“My, you are a sensitive one,” Andy whispered in her ear. 

Hermione shivered at the combination of sensations. Everything felt more in this room with these people. There was a depth of magic swimming in her veins that she couldn’t even have imagined. The dark witch walked to her and gently cupped her cheek. While it was far too intimate of a gesture for how well they knew each other. 

“Bellatrix,” she whispered, tasting her name for the first time. 

The dark witch smiled at her tenderly. 

“Trust us. The life you are going to have is beyond what you can imagine. The things we can teach you…” 

“Can we get started or is the Minister of Magic having a moment with our heir,” Sirius asked sharply. 

“As you pointed out, I am the Minister of Magic. So I am welcome to take my time if I so choose. Not to mention that I am your head of house.” Bellatrix was now holding her shoulder. “Let’s begin. Narcissa, if you would.” 

Narcissa walked forward with small vials of potions handing them each one. Hermione held her and looked at the semi opaque gold liquid. 

“Together,” she commanded and watched as they all lifted the vials. 

Hermione swallowed the liquid alongside and immediately felt it in her magic. She wasn’t sure if they all had the same experience, but her magic felt wide open. She could feel more of it and could feel the hovering magic of the others in the room. It made her want something, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. 

“Good. Hermione, come stand in the center of us.” 

Narcissa pointed to a spot on the ground where an elegantly carved version of their family crest was. Hermione moved as quickly as she could and looked expectantly at the blonde. 

“Very good. Now everyone, join hands.”

Hermione looked around at the circle that enclosed her. She could now distinctly feel the different varieties of magic around her. Each taste and smell was different, but she could already tell the core was the same. She wondered if her’s would blend too. 

“Hermione,” Narcissa continued, “do you understand that this is a lifelong commitment? That you will be in all things a Black, both inside and outside of these walls?”

“Yes, Madame Malfoy,” Hermione answered without pause. 

“Do you consent to join our magic? You will be permanently bound to us all. You will belong to the house of Black. The only dissolutions are being exiled by the head of house or death.”

“I consent,” she said firmly. 

“Very good. Let us begin.” 

The pace of the magic immediately picked up. It was closer and more intimate than it had been before. She felt her walls accept their intrusion and reached her magic out in turn. It was exhilarating and felt more like home than anything she had ever felt. Then she felt their chanting. It invaded all of her senses and she felt as though it was bending the very elements of her body and soul. Then it all settled and sunk into her. She felt so much like she belonged, which was an unfamiliar feeling.

“Open your eyes, Hermione.” 

Andy’s gentle voice was very close. And Hermione did as she was asked and was immediately enveloped in a hug.

“Just remember that touching will help settle the magic as you adjust,” she said as they embraced. 

“Welcome home,” Narcissa said and opened her arms. 

Hermione shyly stepped to her. Once she was in the blondes arms, she couldn’t help but relax into a feeling of safety she didn’t know was possible. 

Sirius stepped up next. For a moment, Hermione thought that he might just shake her hand, but he looked her in the eyes before kissing each cheek instead. It was different yet so genuine that she couldn’t help but be charmed by it. 

“Well done, Hermione Black,” Bellatrix said. “We have a few gifts for you in the library.”

Hermione wanted… needed to touch the eldest Black sister. There was something in the magic that demanded it. 

“You have more will that I expected, but I don’t recommend fighting the family magic. Come here.” 

Hermione was relieved as the cool hands pulled her close. After a brief hug, she was guided out of the ceremony room. She expected an energy drop, but it still lingered in her limbs. She could feel Bellatrix’s magic licking at the edges of her personal control. She wanted to be so close to her that she almost couldn’t put words to it. 

“Thank you both for joining us,” Narcissa snarked. “I didn’t realize it was such a long work.” 

“Shush, Cissy. We each needed a moment with her. You know how the family magic works.” 

“I will gift first,” Sirius said quietly. He handed a small package to her. “This is your copy of the key to the joint Black family vaults. You are a member of our family to share in our wealth and our property.” 

Hermione opened it carefully and wondered how she would keep it safe. The metal warmed pleasantly in the palm of her hand. 

“Thank you, Sirius. It will be my honor to contribute to the family.” 

The warmth in his eyes at the statement made her happy. 

“I am gifting you safety. This port key can only be activated by your magic when you are in danger,” Andy said, handing her a charmed coin. “Always carry it. It will transport you to the head of house, or anyone who may be acting as the head of house.” 

“Thank you, Andy,” Hermione said as she fought back tears. She was overwhelmed by the kindness. 

“I offer you acceptance,” Narcissa said, reaching around her to clasp a beautiful sapphire necklace that looked suspiciously like the color of her eyes around Hermione’s neck. “You will find that I have a fully decorated room personalized for you with a full wardrobe. You will look like a Black when you next leave these walls.” 

“Thank you, Narcissa. You are the most fashionable witch I have ever seen. I cannot wait to see what you have chosen.”

“You are a flatterer and perhaps a flirt, but I look forward to showing you.” 

“And this,” Bellatrix said holding out a ring, “will mark you as a member of the Black family. The name you had before is gone and no one will dare act like it ever existed. I expect this to be permanently on your right hand. Do you understand?” 

“Yes, Minister Black.”

Bellatrix cackled and Hermione felt it in the core of her magic. 

“You dare use their first names, but not mine. Seems the little witch understands the hierarchy. It seems you can all learn from her. And with that, my time is up here. I will be back after dark.” 

Bellatrix looked at Hermione meaningfully before leaving the room. 

“Can you stay for dinner, Sirius?”

Narcissa looked at him expectantly.

“I… I can. Thank you for inviting me.”

“Why don’t we let Narcissa and Sirius chat,” Andromeda said, pulling Hermione out of the room. “And we can go find some tea and biscuits.”

Once they were out of the room and earshot, Andromeda continued. 

“How are you really feeling?”

The concern in her tone made Hermione wonder if they had just attended the same ritual. 

“May I speak freely?” 

“Of course, you don’t need to ask. You are after all one of us now.” 

Hermione nodded, still trying to process that. 

“The magic felt unbelievably good. It was the best thing I have ever felt. But… accepting that I am truly a Black now is a tremendous adjustment. I never thought….” 

“I am quite sure you didn’t. I know this happened quite quickly. Our Lord brought back the olde ways only last moon. As Bella is the Minister of Magic, we needed to be one of the first families to follow his command. Bella, Sirius, and I don’t have a desire to have children so late in life and this solution frankly is the best possible outcome. You are brilliantly educated. You reacted warmly to the Black family magic, which is rare. It is finicky magic.”

Hermione nodded. It was all very logical, though she suspected that it wasn’t the whole truth. 

“Will all the ancient families follow suit,” she asked instead of the very personal questions burning in the back of her mind. 

“Yes, I think they will. The days of successful arranged marriages seem to have ended. And love matches are slow coming, as my sister, cousin, and I are proof that heirs are no longer guaranteed.”

“And the whole world will really just forget I was born to muggles?”

“They will unless they want the fire of Bellatrix Black rained down on them. And you are not to even think about allowing them. You are magically as much a Black as I am,” Andromeda finished hotly. 

“It's a large adjustment, but I promise I will do my best. How can I best contribute to the family?”

“First, my dear,” Andromeda leaned close to her, “you must learn the ways of this family. Once you have completed that education, we will place you into the career you seem most suited for. You will find that connections are everything and we have the very best ones.” 

Hermione found herself blushing. The idea of being painfully successful was overwhelming and there was something about the way that Andromeda was looking at her made her heart beat faster. The warm hand on her forearm calmed the magic buzzing through her. She wanted to lean into it and be consumed by it.

Dinner was an interesting affair. Hermione was seated close to Narcissa, who was rarely not touching her throughout the meal. It started with pointers about how to eat properly, as her training had only been nearly correct. It then moved to a simple hand on her wrist that eventually drifted to her knee. In any other situation Hermione would have been uncomfortable, but with Narcissa it was easier to breathe. So she decided to act like it was normal and enjoy it. 

Sirius was beyond clever. He had told her about his rebellious youth and how it had cost him his family. And he was open about how he was just finding his way back to them. The ritual had been the first time he had used family magic in well over a decade. She watched him happily chat with Andy. She had the distinct feeling that she was watching a magic as significant as what had been performed oh her earlier. 

Hermione had done her best to soak in every minute of the experience, but she knew she was half focused on the witch who was missing. There was something about Bellatrix. It was certainly more than her title or even her fame. She was known to be the most skilled and fearsome witch alive. 

Narcissa and Andromeda had been kind enough to leave her to wait for Bellatrix in the library. They hadn’t told her when the witch might return, so Hermione had taken it upon herself to make herself comfortable. She lit the fireplace, called for an evening tea service, and found a book to bury her nose in(though it was not the floor plans she had contemplated). She was mid learning the mechanics of a new spell, when the door banged open. 

Bellatrix’s hair was wild and her eyes intense. Hermione was frozen by her appearance if not the feel of her magic. 

“Hello, Hermione Black.” 

“Hello, Bellatrix Black,” Hermione said quietly, feeling the name again. 

“Oh, so you do know my name then, I thought perhaps you would forever call me Minister Black.”

Bellatrix sat down across from her hoping she would continue to play. Hermione blanched.

“You make me nervous.”

Bellatrix grinned wolfishly. 

“Do I? I have perhaps heard that before. But you wear it better than most.” 

Hermione blushed. With the other sisters, she wasn’t sure if it was innuendo. But she knew Bellatrix was flirting and she couldn’t resist.                                                                                                                                                                            

“But tell me, Hermione, did our family explain to you how becoming our heir will work practically?” 

“In some ways, I think,” Hermione tried to remember all she had learned. “I have family training to do, then I will be able to get a job somewhere in our world. I should act like I have always been a member of the family.” 

“You are a swot. I am pleased. You are technically to be registered as Sirius’ heir, which does not mean you are any less close to the rest of us. We are as a family restoring Sirius to honor and to our society this will be a key part. We expect you to contribute to that effort as my sisters are. Particularly when we break it to him that he must move into Black Manor. You must convince him that you need him here.”

“I will do whatever I can to assist. He seems very kind,” Hermione said thinking of his kind eyes and vulnerability at dinner. 

“Very good. But I will in some ways consider you to be my apprentice. You will someday carry the name of our family, I am the only one you can learn how to be a head of the Black family from. Do you understand the weight that carries?” 

“I am learning. I suspect that there is a depth I have not yet seen.” 

“You truly have no idea, Hermione. But I will teach you. I will show you, even the things you don’t want to see.” 

“I am not afraid, Bellatrix. I was born to adversity. It is all I have ever known. I will be dedicated and will not disappoint you.” 

“No,” Bellatrix said. “No, I don’t think you will.”

Hermione felt an undercurrent that was more interesting than the words that were being spoken. She knew what she would want, if she could have anything she wanted, but it was far too soon to know what sort of game Bellatrix Black might be playing. 

Chapter Text

Convincing Sirius to return to Black Manor had been as arduous as Bellatrix suggested it might be. He did not bend under the attempts of the sisters, but Hermione had been able to get him to commit to a test run. In a stolen moment, Andy had told her that it was essential to the Dark Lord that Sirius return fully into the family fold. Narcissa later told her that the house was in part a source of the family’s power. The more time the wizard spent there, the more his power would be restored and the bond with his family repaired. Bellatrix did not have to remind her of her duty to the family. Hermione got the sense that her performance of this first task would likely set the tone for the kind of opportunities she was given. And for the first time in her life, she had the chance to have the things she wanted. 

In the long weekend that Sirius agreed to stay, the five of them spent all four days under the same roof. Narcissa generally split her time between Malfoy Manor and Black Manor. But in this case, it seemed to Hermione like Narcissa didn’t trust her sisters to make sure the visit went smoothly. Bellatrix managed to not get called away for the duration, though she took several tense floo calls. And Andy was ever present attempting to light the mood and soothe Sirius. 

It was the most magical handful of days in Hermione’s experience. There was a connectedness of their magic that grew and strengthened, which made even doing mundane magical tasks exciting once more. While initially she hadn’t been sure how she felt about Sirius, after a long afternoon walk alone with him she understood why the Black sisters were so eager to bring him home. He was clever and kind. He seemed to be missing many of the sharp edges that Hermione enjoyed in the sisters. But with each passing day, she could see his attachment to them and the possibility of a life reunited growing in his eyes. 

When first Bellatrix explained that she would be Sirius’ heir, she wasn’t sure how to react. She did her best to push away the hurt in the pit of her stomach. She came to realize that the hurt wasn’t at all about Sirius. She could easily see how they would become good friends and powerful allies. But the space she believed it created between herself and the mysterious yet alluring sisters was frustrating. And yet for all of her fear, it seemed after the official announcement ran in The Prophet of her joining the Black Family as Sirius’ heir the sisters had grown even closer to her. She was still unsure of the dance Bellatrix, Narcissa, and Andromeda were clearly leading her through.

“You look entirely respectable,” Sirius said quietly entering Hermione’s rooms. 

“Thank you, Mister Black. You look dapper today as well. You would think that we were going somewhere of importance,” Hermione teased. 

“Oh just a little trip to Bella’s office,” he continued the light conversation. 

“Are you ready,” she said looking in the mirror to meet his eyes. 

He coughed uncomfortably. 

“I am more nervous about this than I was about moving back into this old house,” he answered finally. 

“And was not moving home the best decision you have made in ages?”

He rolled his eyes playfully. 

“It has been so much better than the first time I lived here. I had no idea that the Black family could be so functional, ” he answered. 

“Someday you will have to tell me about the old days and what the older generations were like,” she prodded gently. 

“Someday when we are drinking too much and want to be depressed. Are you ready? It's as much your coming out as mine.”

“Andromeda and Narcissa think I am ready, that I know enough. I know so little that I have no choice but to trust their judgement. And being seen in public with the family is nothing in comparison to joining the Wizengamot,” Hermione pointed out. 

“Our Lord has been generous with our family,” Sirius said with more sincerity than he usually referred to Voldemort. 

“He has,” Hermione agreed. Even now, as a member of the Black family, she was unsure of how she felt about the way society had been constructed by him (and Bellatrix if she was being honest with herself). The doors that opened to her by being magically adopted was nothing like what she had ever imagined for herself. And she wondered if the subjugation of the muggle horns was really needed to form society, though she dare not voice such a thought. 

“We should get going,” Sirius said abruptly. “It won’t do to be late. I am sure that Bellatrix will be waiting for us to escort us.” 

Hermione’s heart jumped just at the mention of the dark witch as it always did. The more she got to know Bellatrix, the more she wanted to know of the intriguing woman. She followed him to the floo allowing him to enter first. When it was her turn, she entered the green flames, threw the handful of floo powder and said Ministry of Magic

Stepping out of the fireplace into the black gleaming hall was other worldly. There was no doubt in Hermione’s mind that the appearance itself was meant to intimidate anyone who didn’t feel worthy of being in its corridors. She felt pleased magic pulsing over her skin before she saw Bellatrix Black in all her splendor. From the bouncing curls to the smirk, and tapping boot, Hermione could think of no one she would have rather seen. As much as she wanted to glue herself to the witch, she knew that Sirius was to escort her. He stepped towards her with a knowing look and offered his arm. She took it, grateful for his covering of her distraction. The pleasure that Bellatrix gave off,having caught Hermione off guard, made her want to rebel against what she knew she should do. 

Instead she stayed with Sirius, walking head held high through crowds, with more than a few gaping mouths. They walked together until he reached the entrance to the private chambers of the Wizengamot. He kissed each of her cheeks as he always did before stepping into the darkened room. When she turned, she found a proud looking Narcissa and Andromeda. 

“You did well,” Andromeda said pulling her close. 

Hermione breathed in the calming familiar scent. 

“Thank you, Andy. Sirius makes it easy.” 

“I did notice you got distracted,” Narcissa said turning her around and fussing with her robes. 

Hermione shrugged. 

“Don’t shrug,” Narcissa hissed. 

Hermione felt every bit of her displeasure in her magic. It was cold with fury. It made her want to melt into the blonde until she regained her approval. As that wasn’t an option, she said, 

“It was an impressive sight. I’ve never been here before.” 

“I see.”

Hermione knew that her lie was seen for what it was. But she wasn’t going to admit to being distracted by the appearance of Bellatrix. And certainly not to Narcissa. 

“Come, let’s get our seats,” Andy said, breaking the tension.

The ceremony was shockingly dull in comparison to what Hermione had experienced in Balck Manor. She was beginning to think she needed to reevaluate her standards. And that it was entirely possible that the haughty way the Black carried themselves might have been deserved. 

The celebration after the ceremony promised to be more interesting. Lord Voldemort would be present at least for a time, as would the families of his inner circle. Hermione would be in the receiving line at Sirius’ side to quite literally be introduced to society. She was already looking forward to it being over. Narcissa and Andromeda had made her practice for boring hours upon hours. She was now grateful as the setting alone was intimidating. 

Most of the families that shook their hands seemed genuine enough. Even the McNairs had graciously paid their respects (with a muggle born heir Hermione recognized in tow). 

Hermione had hoped that the Carrows might somehow be absent. She kept her face as neutral as possible and her magic tempered. Even so she could already feel Bellatrix approaching behind her. 

She watched as Sirius shook their hands. 

“Looks like the mut found a family dumb enough to take her,” Alecto taunted. 

“I know I did not just hear you disrespect a member of my house,” Bellatrix growled with all the venom of an ex-lover. 

Before what Hermione imagined would have been a remarkable fight break out, a magic unlike any she had ever felt enveloped them all. She curtsied trying to relieve the pressure. It helped if only a little. She peeked up enough to catch the billowing robes of their Lord. He had a hand on the back of each of the Carrows necks forcing them to bow. 

“I am certain I did not hear disrespect towards the House of Black. The most elevated of the Ancient houses for their service to me.” 

“My Lord…”

Whatever excuse or apology might have been coming was cut short by what Hermione believed was a crucio paired with a silencing spell. It was every bit as horrific to watch as Hermione had imagined it might be. 

“Welcome, Miss Black,” he hissed ignoring the writhing witch and wizard on the floor between them. 

“Thank you, my Lord. I am honored to be here.”

“I am pleased with you, Sirius. I have been told your heir has great promise. I am looking forward to her joining the Ministry next week.”

“Like all members of the Black family, she is happy to contribute to the cause.” 

“I would expect nothing less,” he answered, finally releasing the magic on the Carrows. “Congratulations to you both.”

Sirius watched the retreating form of the wizard for a moment before turning to Hermione.

“I believe that you and I deserve a drink. We were both impeccable today.” 

Hermione nodded in agreement. It had been a taxing afternoon. They walked across the ball room where she gratefully took the shot of fire whisky from him, swallowed it. The warm burn made her feel significantly better than she had been a moment before. 

Breathing slightly easier, she accepted a glass of wine from Andromeda and followed her to mingle. She did her best to be social and charming until at last Bellatrix came to guide them home. 

Hermione could feel the dark witch’s need to protect her coming off in waves. So she went willingly. They were nearly to the row of fireplaces when a spell hit right by Hermione’s head. Before Hermione could even think to react, she had been shoved into Sirius’ arms and commanded to go home. As they stepped into the flames. She caught sight of the three sisters standing shoulder to shoulder. It was a terrifying and attractive sight. 

Once she and Sirius were safely within the wards of the manor, they both visibly deflated.

“Well that was a hell of an ending,” he said needing to fill the silence. 

Hermione rubbed the back of her neck feeling tired, yet tense at the absence of Bellatrix, Naricissa, and Andromeda. 

“Far more exciting than I had hoped for,” she finally said. 

“Me too.” He chuckled and ran his fingers through his hair. “Do you fancy a fry up? I know it’s the wrong time of day, but …”

“That sounds amazing,” Hermione said suddenly aware of how hungry she was. 

“I make a mean fry up. Just don’t rat me out to the sisters. I promise to cook with magic.”

Hermione nodded and considered if she was brave enough to ask. 

“Would you teach me some? I’ve always wanted to learn how to cook magically.” 

“Of course,” he said looking more excited than Hermione had ever remembered seeing him. 

“First,” he said with a flourish of his wand, “we must put on aprons. Otherwise we face Cissy’s wrath, which after a skirmish I would prefer to avoid.”

While Hermione wasn’t entirely sure what he meant, she was happy enough to agree.

They were sitting at a small table in the kitchen eating the spoils of their victory when Andromeda and Narcissa entered. 

“Did you cook this yourselves,” Narcissa said looking at the stack of dirty dishes in the sink. 

“Yes, want some?”

“I would,” Andromeda immediately said. 

“I can make it,” Hermione said, already getting to her feet and wand in hand. 

She felt a sweet brush of magic from Andromeda that made her blush. 

She closed her eyes and willed her magic. She felt it bending around the task more powerfully than it had before she was a Black. She focused on wanting to impress Andy. The magic worked just as it had before and Hermione proudly set the plate before Andromeda. 

“Thank you,” the older witch said with a gentle brush of fingers over Hermione’s arm. 

“Can I get you anything, Narcissa,” Hermione asked shyly. 

“No. Come sit and have a glass of wine with me. I do not desire to watch you do something and elf could.” 

Hermione nodded and removed the apron under the disapproving gaze. The blue eyes softened the moment Hermione had done as she was asked. She watched Narcissa snap her fingers and dispatch the house elves to both clean the kitchen and fetch wine. 

“If you all don’t mind, I will retire,” Sirius said.

He looked exhausted. 

“Goodnight, Sirius. You did well today. Everything went to plan.” 

Narcissa’s tone was more gentle than Hermione had heard directed towards Sirius. She felt his magic relax in response. Narcissa’s corresponding comfort had Hermione wondering if she would be able to stay awake. 

“Sleep tight, Siri,” Andy said cheerfully. “You are a budding chef,” she said, turning towards Hermione. 

“It was my first time,” Hermione confessed. 

“Was it indeed,” Andromeda said flirtatiously. 

Hermione flushed at the attention. Fortunately the wine’s arrival saved her from further embarrassment. She watched attentively as Narcissa poured it for her. 

“You did well today too, Hermione.”

Narcissa’s attention was like the warmth of the sun at times and Hermione hadn’t realized how much she needed it after the eventful afternoon. 

“Thank you,” she answered shyly. 

“You held it together better than ¾ of the room. But the crowd does enjoy a good fight. In the end they got what they wanted,” Andromeda chimed in. 

“A fight? What do you mean?” 

Narcissa laughed and looked at her like she was adorable. 

“Do you think we hustled you and Sirius into the fireplace for fun? The Carrows dared to offend the House of Black twice in one night. We could not let it stand, particularly with them firing at your back.”

Hermione took a deep breath. It was overwhelming to be cared about and physically protected. Only the soft hand on her cheek broke through her racing thoughts. Andy looked at her indulgently. 

“We will always protect you. There will be a time when we will expect you to stand at our sides, but you have a considerable amount of dark arts to learn.”

“I would be proud to fight at your side,” Hermione said sincerely. 

Andy leaned towards her. It was so intimate that Hermione was certain that she would be kissed. She closed her eyes waiting for the feel of soft lips against her own. When they landed at the corner of her mouth, Hermione couldn’t decide if she was disappointed or relieved. She couldn’t deny her attraction to Andy, Narcissa, nor Bellatrix. But what to do about it was the lingering question. Their magic felt more intimate with every passing day and it was hard to ignore the touches and stares. 

When she did open her eyes, Andromeda had a very knowing look on her face. 

“I think I too will go to bed,” she said standing up to go. “Enjoy your wine.”

Andy winked before leaving the kitchen, though Hermione was struggling to keep up with why or at whom it was aimed. 

“Try your wine, Hermione,” Narcissa prompted. 

Hermione slowly lifted the delicate flute to her lips. It was sweet, but not without depth. She closed her eyes and hummed at the flavor. The look on Narcissa’s face when she opened her eyes was ravenous and it called to Hermione. 

“It is very good,” Hermione choked out trying to sound less effected by the look than she had been. 

“Sip it, darling. It’s stronger than it tastes.” 

Hermione nodded and made note to drink it slowly. 

“Where is Bella?” 

“After the small incidents tonight the Dark Lord needed a short meeting with her. I am sure she will be along as soon as she is able. She was quite concerned with your well being.”

“Oh,” Hermione sighed, “that’s very kind.”

“Hmm,” Narcissa hummed sipping her wine. “You are officially out now. How does it feel?” 

“It was a relief. I feel like I have passed the first test and now I can get to work. I feel like I haven’t been contributing to the family yet.”

“You are a fascinating witch, Hermione Black. You are so innocent, yet so well educated. You do not fear dark magic nor those more powerful than you, even when perhaps you should.”

Hermione held her breath thinking that this was going to be the moment that she was called on her obvious attraction for the three witches. 

“Bella will be home soon. She will want to talk to you. I would advise waiting in her office,” Narcissa said, finishing her wine and rising. 

Hermione stood and stepped happily into her arms when opened. She clung tightly and tried not to overreact at the gentle kiss on her neck. 

“Goodnight, Hermione,” Narcissa said over her shoulder. 

“Night,” Hermione whispered. 

She finished her wine and walked slowly to Bellatrix’s office. It felt odd to go into the room without her present, but she had no intention of risking not being there if requested. Once she got past the nervousness of entering the witch’s personal space, Hermione took the moment to take in the bookcases that lined the walls and the scattered personal items. The controlled chaos was much like the witch herself.

Hermione jumped when the green fire roared to life. She relaxed slightly when Bellatrix charged out of the flames. Instinctively, Hermione backed up until she ran into the large desk. The dark witch’s hands were all over her clearly looking for injury. 

“Did a spell hit you? Even a shard of one,” Bellatrix asked anxiously. 

Hermione bit back a moan. Between the physical contact and wildness in Bellatrix’s magic, she wanted far more than she should have. 

“No,” she gasped. “I am not injured.”

“Good,” Bellatrix said. 

Hermione held her breath as the dark witch’s fingers curled around her lapel and pulled her closer. When the soft, yet aggressive lips found her’s, Hermione felt like she was flying. The magic passing between them was charged and more pleased than she could have imagined. The teeth that pulled at her bottom lip had her pressing their bodies more closely together. 

When the kiss broke for a deep breath, Hermione caught a look of panic just before Bellatrix turned away. 

“Off to bed with you. We have so much to do tomorrow,” the dark witch said while leaving the room. 

Hermione leaned against the large desk and attempted to catch her breath. 

The Black sisters would be the death of her one way or another.